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jests and stories of any man in the country; that he was a witty man, and that he was only a retailer of the wit of others; that his apparent candor and fairness were only apparent, and that they were as real as his head and his hands; that he was a boor, and that he was in all essential respects a gentleman; that he was a leader of the people, and that he was always led by the people; that he was cool and impassive, and that he was susceptible of the strongest passions. It is only by tracing these separate streams of impression back to their fountain that we are able to arrive at anything like a competent comprehension of the man, or to learn why he came to be held in such various estimation. Men caught only separate aspects of his character--only the fragments that were called into exhibition by their own qualities.
Thus the months passed away until the election. His rooin was thronged by visitors from every portion of the Union, drawn to him by a great variety of motives; and to all he gave an open and cordial welcome. In the meantime his
poo litical opponents had virtually given up the contest. While they worked faithfully within their own organizations, they openly or secretly conceded his election. At the South no attempt was made to conceal the conviction that he would be the next President of the United States. Indeed, this was so entirely what they desired that they would have regarded the election of Mr. Douglas as a calamity, although it may well be doubted whether they would have been deterred from their disunion schemes by his election. They took pains to poison the public mind by every possible expedient. They identifieul the cause of the republicans with the John Brown raid into Virginia, with everything that was offensive to the pride of the South in Helper's “ Impending Crisis," with“ abolitionism" which was the most disgusting and dangerous sin in the proslavery catalogue of sins. It was all a lie. Not a republican was concerned in or approved of the John Brown invasion, for which Virginia had exacted the life of that stern old enthusiast. Helper's book was a home production of the South; and the creed of the party had no item looking to the abolition of slavery. Not content with misrepresenting Mr. Lincoln's cause and principles, they traduced him and his associates upon
the ticket. Mr. Lincoln was called the “Illinois ape," and this, not by the rabble, but by the leaders of public opinion; while Mr. Hamlin was actually believed by many southern people to be a mulatto, through the representations of presses and politicians. Every falsehood that could sting the southern mind to malignity and resentment against the North, and make detestable the man whom the North was about to elect to the presidency, was shamelessly uttered. The object, of course, was to fill the southern mind with bitterness against the North, to alienate the Union from its affections, to foster its pride, and to prepare it for the premeditated and prepared separation.
Mr. Lincoln saw the gathering storm, and felt that upon him it would expend its wildest fury; yet he cherished no resentment against these men or their section for all the wrongs they heaped upon him, and the woes they were bringing upon the country. He was only an instrument in the hands of a higher power. It was only the natural exhibition of the spirit of a system of wrong which was making its last terrible struggle for life. The hatred aroused in him passed over the heads of his enemies and fastened itself upon the institution which could make such demons of men. If he was an instrument in the hands of a higher power, they were instruments in the hands of a lower power, malignant but mighty indeed. He had charity, because he felt these men to be the victims of a false education-of a great mistake. He remembered that had he been bred as they had been, the probabilities were that he should sympathize with them.
Mr. Lincoln was what was called a wise candidate. He held his tongue. No abuse provoked him to utter a word in self-vindication. He had accepted the platform of the party and his record was before the country. So he calmly awaited the result.
On the sixth of November the election took place throughout the whole country, and the result was Mr. Lincoln's triumph, not by a majority of the votes cast, but by a hanilsone plurality. The popular vote for him was 1,857,610, while Stephen A. Douglas received 1,365,976 votes, John C. Breckinridge 817,953, and John Bell 590,631. In the electoral college Mr. Lincoln had 180 votes, Mr. Douglas receiving 12, Mr. Breckinridge 72, and Mr. Bell 39; and when, on the following thirteenth of February, in a joint session of both Houses of Congress, these votes were declared, it was the office of John C. Breckinridge himself, then Vice-President, to pronounce Mr. Lincoln the constitutionally elected President of the United States for four years from the succeeding fourth of March. And this man who, by going into the election as a candidate for the presidency, and declaring the result of the contest, had bound himself by every principle of honor to abide by the result, was a foul traitor at heart, and only left the chair he disgraced to become a leader in the armies of
The result of the election was great popular rejoicing at the North, great exasperation at the South, great fear and trembling among compromisers of both sections, and a general conviction that the crisis so long threatened was actually upon the nation. Among the republicans there was this feeling: that they had fairly, on an open declaration of principles and policy, and strictly according to the provisions of the Constitution, elected a president; and that if, for this, the South was determined to make war, the contest might as well come first as last. They knew they had made no proposition and entertained no intention to interfere with slavery in the states where the Constitution protected it, that they had made no aggressions upon the institution, and had only endeavored to limit its spread into free territory. If this was cause of war, then they were ready for the fight. Feeling thus, and thus deciaring themselves, they still did not generally believe there would be a war. They thought the matter would yet rise upon the wings of some convenient wind and be blown away.
Of course the man of all others chiefly concerned in the results of the election was intensely interested. The effect upon his nervous system, not altogether ephemeral, is well illustrated by an incident which he subsequently related to several of his friends, and which has found no better record, perhaps, than in an article from the pen of Major John Hay, one of his private secretaries in Washington, published in Harper's Magazine for July, 1865. Major Hay reports the incident as nearly as possible in Mr. Lincoln's own words.
“It was just after my election in 1860," said Mr. Lincoln, “when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and there had been a great “hurrah boys ! so that I was well tired out and went home to rest, throwing myself upon a lounge in my chamber. Opposite to where I lay was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it; and looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it a second time, plainer, if possible, than before ; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler-say five shades—than the other. I got up and the thing melted away,
and I went off, and, in the excitement of the hour forgot all about it,-nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang as though something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home, I told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment again, when, sure enough, the thing came back again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was 'a sign' that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term."
The President had good sense enough to regard the vision as an optical illusion, growing out of the excited condition of
, his nervous system at the time yet, with that tinge of superstition which clings to every sensitive and deeply thoughtful man, in a world full of mysteries, he was so far affected by it as to feel that “something uncomfortable had happened." In the light of subsequent events, Mrs. Lincoln's prophetic interpretation of the vision has almost a startling interest.
Mr. Lincoln had become the most important man on the continent. Parties were given in his honor, autograph hunters beset him everywhere, and office-seekers met him on the right hand and on the left. That he felt at home in this new life is not probable, but he had the good sense to put on no airs, and to undertake no change of his manners in meeting men and women. From the day of his election to the day of his death, he was the same unpretending man that he was when he first entered Springfield to practice law. He had known nothing of drawing-rooms in his youth, and he affected to know nothing of them when every drawing-room of loyal America would have swung wide its doors to welcome him. It was noticed by the critical that he found great difficulty în disposing of his hands and feet. It is quite possible that they were hard to be disposed of, and that he succeeded with them quite as well as he would if he had been a master of deportment. If the hands were large, they had taken no bribes; if his feet were heavy, they had outstripped the fleetest in the race of ambition. If he could not win admiration for his personal graces, he could win love for his personal goodness.
He visited Chicago after his election, and met with a magnificent welcome. One or two little incidents of this trip will illustrate especially his consideration for children. He was holding a reception at the Tremont House. A fond father took in a little boy by the hand who was anxious to see the new President. The moment the child entered the parlor doar, he, of his own motion, and quite to the surprise of his father, took off his hat, and giving it a swing, cried, “ Hurrah for Lincoln!” There was a crowd, but as soon as Mr. Lincoln could get hold of the little fellow, he lifted him in his hands, and tossing him toward the ceiling laughingly shouted: “Hur