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over 100,000 negro soldiers are now in the army of the United States, contributing largely, by their courage and good conduct, to the suppression of the rebellion which seeks the perpetual enslavement of their race. The popular prejudice against their employment in the army, which was so potent at the beginning, has gradually given way, even in the slaveholding States, to a more just estimate of the necessities of the emergency and the capacities of the negro race. And what is of still more importance to the welfare of the country, the people of the slaveholding States have taken up the question of slavery for discussion and practical action, as one in which their own well-being, present and prospective, is deeply involved. The Union party in every Southern State favors the abolition of slavery, and in Missouri, Maryland, Louisiana, and Arkansas, measures are already far advanced which will inevitably lead to the speedy overthrow of an institution which has proved so detrimental to their interests, and so menacing to the unity of the nation and the stability of republican institutions.
It formed no part of the object of this work to deal in eulogy or in criticism of President LINCOLN and his administration. Its purpose will have been attained if it places his acts and words in such a form that those who read them may judge for themselves of the merits and defects of the policy he has pursued. It has been his destiny to guide the nation through the stormiest period of its existence. No one of his predecessors, not even Washington, encountered difficulties of equal magnitude, or was called to perform duties of equal responsibility. He was elected by a minority of the popular vote, and his election was regarded by a majority of the people as the immediate occasion, if not the cause, of civil war; yet upon him devolved the necessity of carrying on that
war, and of combining and wielding the energies of the nation for its successful prosecution. The task, under all the circumstances of the case, was one of the most gigantic that ever fell to the lot of the head of any nation.
From the outset, Mr. LINCOLN's reliance was upon the spirit and patriotism of the people. He had no overweening estimate of his own sagacity; he was quite sensible of his lack of that practical knowledge of men and affairs which experience of both alone can give; but he had faith in the devotion of the people to the principles of Republican government, in their attachment to the Constitution and the Union, and in that intuitive sagacity of a great community which always transcends the most cunning devices of individual men, and, in a great and perilous crisis, more resembles inspiration than the mere deductions of the human intellect. At the very outset of his administration, President LINCOLN cast himself without reserve and without fear, upon this reliance. It has ever been urged against him as a reproach that he has not assumed. to lead and control public sentiment, but has been content to be the exponent and the executor of its will. Possibly an opposite course might have succeeded, but possibly, also, it might have ended in disastrous and fatal failure. One thing is certain the policy which he did pursue has not failed. The rebellion has not succeeded; the authority of the Government has not been overthrown; no new government, resting on slavery as its corner-stone, has yet been established upon this continent, nor has any foreign nation been provoked or permitted to throw its sword into the scale against us. A different policy might have done better, but it might also have done worse. A wise and intelligent people will hesitate long before they condemn an administration which has done well, on the mere hypothesis that another might have done better.
In one respect President LINCOLN has achieved a wonderful
success. He has maintained, through the terrible trials of his administration, a reputation, with the great body of the people, for unsullied integrity, of purpose and of conduct, which even Washington did not surpass, and which no President since Washington has equalled. He has had command of an army greater than that of any living monarch; he has wielded authority less restricted than that conferred by any other constitutional government; he has disbursed sums of money equal to the exchequer of any nation in the world; yet no man, of any party, believes him in any instance to have aimed at his own aggrandizement, to have been actuated by personal ambition, or to have consulted any other interest than the welfare of his country, and the perpetuity of its Republican form of government. This of itself is a success which may well challenge universal admiration, for it is one which is the indispensable condition of all other forms of success. No man whose public integrity was open to suspicion, no matter what might have been his abilities or his experience, could possibly have retained enough of public confidence to carry the country through such a contest as that in which we are now involved. No President suspected of seeking his own aggrandizement at the expense of his country's liberties, could ever have received such enormous grants of power as were essential to the successful prosecution of this war. They were lavishly and eagerly conferred upon Mr. LINCOLN, because it was known and felt everywhere that he would not abuse them. Faction has had in him no mark for its assaults. The weapons of party spirit have recoiled harmlessly from the shield of his unspotted character.
It was this unanimous confidence in the disinterested purity of his character, and in the perfect integrity of his public purposes, far more than any commanding intellectual ability, that enabled Washington to hold the faith and confidence of the American people steadfast for seven years, while they waged
the unequal war required to achieve their independence. And it certainly is something more than a casual coincidence that this same element, as rare in experience as it is transcendent in importance, should have characterized the President upon whom devolves the duty of carrying the country through this second and far more important and sanguinary struggle.
No one can read Mr. LINCOLN's state papers without per ceiving in them a most remarkable faculty of "putting things" so as to command the attention and assent of the common people. His style of thought as well as of expression is thoroughly in harmony with their habitual modes of thinking and of speaking. His intellect is keen, emphatically logical in its action, and capable of the closest and most subtle analysis: and he uses language for the sole purpose of stating, in the clearest and simplest possible form, the precise idea he wishes to convey. He has no pride of intellect—not the slightest desire for display-no thought or purpose but that of making everybody understand precisely what he believes and means to utter. And while this sacrifices the graces of style, it gains immeasurably in practical force and effect. It gives to his public papers a weight and influence with the mass of the people, which no public man of this country has ever before attained. And this is heightened by the atmosphere of humor which seems to pervade his mind, and which is just as natural to it and as attractive and softening a portion of it, as the smoky hues of Indian summer are of the charming season to which they belong. His nature is eminently genial, and he seems to be incapable of cherishing an envenomed resentment. And although he is easily touched by whatever is painful, the elasticity of his temper and his ready sense of the humorous break the force of anxieties and responsibilities under which a man of harder though perhaps a higher nature would sink and fail.
One of the most perplexing questions with which Mr. LINCOLN has had to deal in carrying on the war, has been that of
slavery. There are two classes of persons who cannot, even now, see that there was any thing perplexing about it, or that he ought to have had a moment's hesitation how to treat it. One, is made up of those who regard the law of slavery as paramount to the Constitution, and the rights of slavery as the most sacred of all the rights which are guaranteed by that instrument: the other, of those who regard the abolition of slavery as the one thing to be secured, whatever else may be lost. The former denounce Mr. LINCOLN for having interfered with slavery in any way, for any purpose, or at any time: the latter denounce him, with equal bitterness, for not having swept it out of existence the moment Fort Sumter was attacked. In this matter, as in all others, Mr. LINCOLN has acted upon a fixed principle of his own, which he has applied to the practical conduct of affairs just as fast as the necessities of the case required and as the public sentiment would sustain him in doing. His policy has been from the outset a tentative one-as, indeed, all policies of government to be successful must always be. On the outbreak of the rebellion the first endeavor of the rebels was to secure the active co-operation of all the slaveholding States. Mr. LINCOLN's first action, therefore, was to withhold as many of these States from joining the rebel confederacy as possible. Every one can see now that this policy, denounced at the time by his more zealous anti-slavery supporters as temporizing and inadequate, prevented Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Missouri, and part of Virginia from throwing their weight into the rebel scale; and although it is very easy and very common to undervalue services to a cause after its triumph seems secure, there are few who will not concede that if these States had been driven or permitted to drift into the rebel confederacy, a successful termination of the war would have been much farther off than it seems at present. Mr. LINCOLN did every thing in his power, consistent with fidelity to the Constitution, to retain the Border Slave States within the Union; and the degree of success