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proposed by the Secretary of the Interior, if followed, is treason, and will involve you and all concerned in treason." For the first time in this cabinet treason had been called by its true name, and the men who were leading the President and the country to ruin were told to their faces the nature of their foul business. Floyd and Thompson, who had had everything their own way, sprang fiercely to their feet, while Mr. Holt, the Postmaster General, took his position by the side of Mr. Stanton; and Mr. Buchanan besought them with a senile whine to take their seats. Thus bolstered by Mr. Stanton the President determined not to withdraw Major Anderson. This act of Mr. Stanton was the first in Mr. Buchanan's administration that seemed to be based on a full comprehension of the nature of the situation, and it was a noble introduction to the great work he was destined to accomplish in the suppression of the rebellion.
These events occurring in rapid succession produced a profound impression at the North. The whole country was filled with feverish apprehension. A peace congress took up its abode in Washington, with the notorious John Tyler for president. Measures of compromise were introduced into Congress and urged with great vigor. Those northern states that had passed "personal liberty bills," and other measures offensive to the South made haste to repeal them, that all pos sible pretexts for rebellion might be put out of the way. Every practicable attempt was made by the fearful and the faithless to compel such concessions to the slave power as would calm its ire, and obviate the necessity of armed collision. There were not wanting men in the North whose sympathies were with the traitors, and who would willingly and gladly have joined them in the attempt to revolutionize the government, by preventing Mr. Lincoln from taking his seat, and delivering over Washington and the government to the plotters. Indeed, many of the traitors openly declared that by secession they did not mean secession at all, but revolution. Commerce and manufactures begged for peace at the slaveholder's price, whatever it might be.
Washington itself was full of treason. It was the prevailing spirit of all the fashionable life of the national capital. All the governmental departments were crowded with it. It was the talk of the hotels. Loyalty was snubbed and dishonored. Maryland, though she had passed no ordinance of secession, was disloyal. The sympathies of the higher classes of Baltimore were all with the traitors. Thus secession was an accomplished fact, the forts and arsenals of the United States at the South were in the hands of the traitors, the northern arsenals were stripped, every available ship with the exception of two was beyond call, the confederate government was organized, the United States treasury was bankrupt, the whole South was seething with the excitement of treason, disloyalty reigned in every department of the government, southern sympathizers were scattered over the whole North, business was depressed, and a fearful looking-for of terrible days and terrible events had taken possession of those who still loved the Union, when Mr. Lincoln started on his journey to Washington, to assume the office to which he had been elected.
Silently, and with sad forebodings, had he waited in Springfield the opening of the storm. With an intense interest he had followed the development of the disunion scheme, and knowing the character of the southern leaders he appreciated the desperate nature of the struggle upon which he was entering.
On the 11th of February, 1861, Mr. Lincoln reluctantly bade adieu to the peaceful scenes of home and the grateful presence of his best personal friends, for the untried field of high official life. That he dreaded the change, and committed himself to it with the gravest forebodings, there is no question. Already had the threats of assassination reached his It had been widely hinted by his enemies that his inauguration would never be permitted; and even if it should be, he knew that the most oppressive duties awaited him.
On his departure for the railroad station, he was accompanied by a large concourse of his neighbors and friends, the most of whom insisted on a parting shake of the hand. After
passing through this trial, he appeared upon the platform of the car set apart for himself and his family and friends, and with the deepest feeling delivered to them his parting words. My friends," said he, "no one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century. Here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me which is greater, perhaps, than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same divine aid which sustained him, and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my friends, will pray that I may receive that divine assistance without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain. Again, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”
This parting address was telegraphed to every part of the country, and was strangely misinterpreted. So little was the man's character understood that his simple and earnest request that his neighbors should pray for him was received by many as an evidence both of his weakness and his hypocrisy. No President had ever before asked the people, in a public address, to pray for him. It sounded like the cant of the conventicle to ears unaccustomed to the language of piety from the lips of politicians. The request was tossed about as a joke-“old Abe's last"--but it came from a heart surcharged with a sense of need, and strong in its belief that the Almighty listens to the prayers of men.
Mr. Lincoln had before him, on this journey, one of the most difficult tasks of his life. The country was very anxious to get some hint as to his policy. This hint he did not intend to give, until he should be obliged to give it officially. His task, then, of talking without saying anything, was not only a new one, but it was one for which he had no talent. He had never acquired, and could never acquire, the faculty of
uttering graceful and acceptable nothings. Give him something to talk about, and he could talk. Give him a knotty point to argue, and he could argue; but to talk for the mere purpose of talk was beyond his power. To talk when it was his impulse and his policy to say nothing, was the hardest task of his life. Hence, there had never been a passage in his life in which he appeared to such a disadvantage as he did in the speeches made during this journey. He could win the profoundest admiration of the gifted and the learned at the Cooper Institute, but on the platform of a railroad car, or before an august committee of city magnates, he was as much at a loss as a school-boy would have been.
Mrs. Lincoln and her three boys were in the car as it rolled out of Springfield; and with them a number of Mr. Lincoln's old friends, Governor Yates, Ex-Governor Moore, Dr. W. M. Wallace, Hon. N. P. Judd, Hon. O. H. Browning, Judge David Davis and Colonel E. E. Ellsworth were of the number, as were also John M. Hay and J. G. Nicolay, afterwards Mr. Lincoln's private secretaries. The first point of destination was Indianapolis, but Mr. Lincoln was called out at various places on the route, to respond to the greetings of the crowds that had assembled at the way stations.
On arriving at Indianapolis, the party found the city entirely devoted for the time to the pleasant task of giving their elected chief magistrate a fitting reception. Business was suspended, flags were floating everywhere, and when, at five o'clock, the train rolled into the Union depot, a salute of thirty-four guns announced them and gave them greeting. Governor Morton addressed to Mr. Lincoln an earnest and hearty speech of welcome, and then the presidential party were escorted through the principal streets by a procession composed of both houses of the legislature, the municipal authorities, and the military and firemen. Arriving at the Bates House, Mr. Lincoln was called for, when he appeared, and made the following brief address:
"Fellow citizens of the State of Indiana: I am here to thank you much for this magnificent welcome, and still more for the very generous support
given by your state to that political cause, which I think is the true and just cause of the whole country and the whole world. Solomon says 'there is a time to keep silence; and when men wrangle by the mouth, with no certainty that they mean the same thing while using the same words, it perhaps were as well if they would keep silence. The words 'coercion' and 'invasion' are much used in these days, and often with some temper and hot blood. Let us make sure, if we can, that we do not misunderstand the meaning of those who use them. Let us get the exact definitions of these words, not from dictionaries, but from the men themselves, who certainly deprecate the things they would represent by the use of the words. What, then, is 'coercion? What is 'invasion?' Would the marching of an army into South Carolina, without the consent of her people, and with hostile intent towards them, be invasion? I certainly think it would, and it would be 'coercion' also if the South Carolinians were forced to submit. But if the United States should merely hold and retake its own forts and other property, and collect the duties on foreign importations, or even withhold the mails from places where they were habitually violated, would any or all of these things be 'invasion' or 'coercion?' Do our professed lovers of the Union, who spitefully resolve that they will resist coercion and invasion, understand that such things as these, on the part of the United States, would be coercion or invasion of a state? If so, their idea of means to preserve the object of their great affection would seem to be exceedingly thin and airy. If sick, the little pills of the homoeopathist would be much too large for it to swallow. In their view, the Union, as a family relation, would seem to be no regular marriage, but rather a sort of 'free-love' arrangement, to be maintained on passional attraction. By the way, in what consists the special sacredness of a state? I speak not of the position assigned to a state in the Union by the Constitution, for that is the bond we all recognize. That position, however, a state cannot carry out of the Union with it. I speak of that assumed primary right of a state to rule all which is less than itself, and to ruin all which is larger than itself. If a state and a county, in a given case, should be equal in extent of territory and equal in number of inhabitants, in what, as a matter of principle, is the state better than the county? Would an exchange of name be an exchange of rights? Upon what principle, upon what rightful principle, may a state, being no more than one-fiftieth part of the nation in soil and population, break up the nation, and then coerce a proportionably larger subdivision of itself in the most arbitrary way? What mysterious right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country with its people, by merely calling it a state? Fellow-citizens, I am not asserting any thing. I am merely asking questions for you to consider. And now allow me to bid you farewell.”