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We again urge our gaining immediate advantages. Strain every nerve for victory. We now look upon the re-election of Lincoln as certain, and we need to whip the hirelings to prevent it. Besides, with Lincoln re-elected, and his armies victorious, we need not hope even for recognition, much less the help mentioned in our last. Holcombe will explain this. Our friend shall be immediately set to work as you direct.
This message bore the date of October 13, 1864. How Professor Holcombe explained the business in question does not appear. One would prefer to believe that nothing worse was intended than the St. Albans raid, with its chance of creating an international difficulty. Judah P. Benjamin, in the character of Confederate Secretary of State, in his answer to this communication, said on the 19th:
Your letter of the 13th inst. is at hand. There is yet time enough to colonize many voters before November. A blow will shortly be stricken here. It is not quite time. General Longstreet is to attack Sheridan without delay, and then move north, as far as practicable, toward unprotected points. This will be made instead of the movements before mentioned. He will endeavor to assist the Republicans in the collection of their ballots. Be watchful.
It happened that on this very day Sheridan gained his brilliant victory at Cedar Creek
An undertaking organized in Canada, near the same time, was more successfully carried out. A party of horsemen, crossing the Canadian border into Vermont, surprised the town of St. Albans, plundered its banks, and killed or wounded several of its citizens. Returning across the line, and being arrested and their surrender under the extradition treaty demanded, they were defended by the “confidential agents,” Clay and others, as having acted under military orders from Jefferson Davis, who gave them commissions as officers in his service. Their surrender being refused on this ground, a basis was laid for an international complication such as the movers of the enterprise were desiring to bring about.
Great excitement was kindled in the North; and General Dix, who was in command of the military department including the New York and Vermont frontier, promptly issued an order directing that bands of marauders hereafter coming into the States from Canada should be vigorously pursued, across the border if necessary, and captured or shot down wherever found. This order found a hearty popular approval, but, as in the case of the Mason-Slidell arrest, the policy of moderation was maintained, the President revoking so much of General Dix's order as authorized pursuit across the frontier. A rigid passport system was adopted, such as seemed necessary for protection on a hostile border; and in the following month action was taken for the termination of the Canadian Reciprocity treaty.
The general election occurred on the 8th day of November. Only the States of New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky gave majorities for McClellan. Three Southern States — Maryland, West Virginia, and Missouri — cast their electoral votes for Lincoln. Twentyfive States took part in the election - exclusive of
Tennessee, whose vote was rejected in the electoral count. The final reckoning gave Lincoln 212 votes and McClellan 21 - a proportion of more than ten to one.
On the evening of the 9th a national salute was fired by friends of the President, and a procession, with music, banners and transparencies, marched to the White House, where, in response to cheers and calls, Lincoln, appearing at the usual second-story "tribune," said: “It has long been a grave question whether any Government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies. If the loyal people united were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fall when divided and partially paralyzed by a political war among themselves? ... The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. But the election, along with its incidental and undesirable strife, has done good, too. It has demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war. It shows, also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, and patriotic men are better than gold. But the rebellion continues; and now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest, reunite in a common effort to save our common country? For my own part, I have striven, and will
strive, to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here, I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man's bosom. While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result. May I ask those who have not differed with me to join with me in the same spirit toward those who have?”
He closed by asking "three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen, and their gallant and skillful commanders."
General Grant, in telegraphing his congratulations the same evening, added: “ The election having passed off quietly, no bloodshed or riot throughout the land, is a victory worth more to the country than a battle
Rebeldom and Europe will construe it so.” There were congratulations on every hand, and new inspirations of hope for a speedy end of the war. Yet the President relaxed neither purpose nor effort. Only one road to peace was open. When asked whether he thought his re-election was aided more by the Atlanta victory or by the Chicago peace platform, he answered: “I guess it was the victory. Of the two, at any rate, I would rather have the victory repeated.”
Annual Message - Finances and the War - S. P. Chase,
From financial statements in the President's annual message of December 6th, it appears that the Treasury receipts from all sources during the year ending June 30, 1864, were nearly one billion four hundred million dollars, exceeding the disbursements by about one million, and were mainly from loans — the amount from customs being but little over one hundred and two millions, and from internal revenue nearly one hundred and ten millions. The public debt at the same date amounted to over one billion seven hundred millions. The expenditures of the War Department for the year exceeded six hundred and ninety millions, and those of the Navy Department eighty-five millions. Other department details having been disposed of, the President said:
The war continues. Since the last annual message, all the important lines and positions then occupied by our forces have been maintained, and our armies have steadily advanced, thus liberating the regions left in the rear, so that Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and parts of other States have again produced reasonably fair crops.
The most remarkable feature in the military operations of the year is General Sherman's attempted march of three hundred miles directly through insurgent regions. It tends