« PreviousContinue »
the efforts at reconstruction which had taken place in Louisi
The question as to whether the rebel states were out of the Union, or in it, he regarded as a “pernicious abstraction.' “We all agree,” said he, “ that the seceded states, so called, are out of their proper practical relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those states, is to again get them into their proper practical relation."
He believed the state government of Louisiana offered for that state a practicable plan of return, but he was not committed to that plan alone. The quickest way back to the old relations with the government was the best way, without any regard to any finely spun theories.
The Louisiana Legislature had ratified the Constitutional
You are worthless, or worse: we will neither help you nor be
All the President's plans considered the welfare of the
༡ ག སྒྲ་ ཆུ་ཚབ་གསུ
worth, he once said: “You desire to know, in the event of our complete success in the field, the same being followed to loyal and cheerful submission on the part of the South, if universal amnesty should not be accompanied with universal suffrage. Since you know my private inclinations as to what terms should be granted to the South, in the contingency mentioned, I will here add that, if our success should thus be realized, followed by such desired results, I cannot see, if universal amnesty is granted, how, under the circumstances, I can avoid exacting in return universal sufrage, or at least suffrage on the basis of intelligence and military service.”
Thus stands Mr. Lincoln's record on this question, and thus must stand the record of every man whose love of men and whose regard for human rights are as genuine as those which moved the heart of the good President. The party which loved and supported Mr. Lincoln cannot deny the principle of universal suffrage, without denying both Mr. Lincoln and the everlasting principles of right upon which he based his action-upon which they have won all their successes. And if, for immediate advantage, in the strife for power, they 80 far turn their backs upon their record as to deny manhood to the African, and refuse to recognize his service in the salvation of the republic, they are sure to be defeated, as they will be certain to deserve defeat.
Mr. LINCOLN had reached the pinnacle of his life. By careful and painful steps he had mounted from the foot of the ladder of American society to its topmost round. He had done this by the forces of his nature and character, without adventitious aids, or favoring circumstances. He had accomplished the greatest work for his country and for mankind that had ever been committed to a mortal to perform. A great nation had been saved from wreck by his hands; a race had been disenthralled by his word and his policy; and a popular government had been established in the faith and affections of its subjects, and in the respect of the governments of the world. His enemies had been silenced, his friends had been reassured, his motives and his policy had been vindicated, and his person had come to be regarded with tender affection by tens of millions of men. Up to him were wafted the acclamations of millions of freemen. Across the ocean came appreciative and plauditory words from other continents. Benedictions were breathed upon him by multitudes of humble people whom he had enfranchised. Is it strange that the instincts of his own logical mind should forecast death as the next logical step in such a course?
Throughout all the later months and years of the war, he had freely said that he did not expect to outlast the rebellion; but in the flush of triumph,-in his large, loving, and liberal plans for the good of the people whom the fortunes of war had left at his feet,-in his dreams of the future union and harmony of the states,-he forgot this, and was hopeful and happy. He talked to his friends, his cabinet, and his family cheerfully of the future, and gratefully of the past. He had no rešentment to gratify, no revenge to inflict, no malicious passion that clamored for indulgence. The thought of being able to prove to the people of the South that he owed them no ill. will, and the determination to deal with them as gently as would be for the public safety, filled his magnanimous spirit with the sweetest satisfaction.
It is hardly to be supposed that the possibility of assassination was ever long absent from his minı, during the four years of his presidency. The threats began before he left Springfield for Washington. The attempt to assassinate him was made upon
the train that bore him from his home. It was repeated upon that which bore him from Cincinnati. He ran through the meshes of a conspiracy against his life at Balti
He was in the constant receipt of threatening letters; and these were kept in a package by themselves, appropriately labeled. He did not permit these, however, to trouble him, regarding them as only the malicious missives of bullies and cowards. Ile undoubtedly regarded himself as always in a dangerous position, though. the fact had no tendency to make him careful of himself. Ile reasoned upon this, as upon other subjects, anıl could never see that anything would be gained by his death. Ile had no comprehension of the malice that would delight in his assassination, as a measure of revenge. He supposed that every man would require some rational purpose to be answered by so terrible a crime. “If they kill me," said he, on one occasion, “ the next man will be just as bad for them; and, in a country like this, where our habits are simple, and must be, assassination is always possible, and will come if they are determined upon it.” He went to and from the War Department with perfect freedom; drove out to the Soldiers' Home, his summer residence, and back at night, often in an open carriage, alone. He walked the streets of Washington at night, with only an unarmed companion, who trembled with the apprehension of the possible consequences of such
an exposure. Mr. Seward, in reply to a letter from Hon. John Bigelow, the American consul in Paris, wrote under date of July 15th, 1864: “There is no doubt that, from a period anterior to the breaking out of the insurrection, plots and conspiracies for the purposes of assassination have been frequently formed and orgànized.” Mr. Bigelow had reported to Mr. Seward a plot which had become known abroad. Mr. Seward added: “ Assassination is not an American practice or habit; and one so vicious and so desperate cannot be engrafted into our political system. This conviction of mine has steadily gained strength since the civil war began.
Every day's experience confirms it.” Notwithstanding Mr. Sewaru's theory, plots were formed against his own life, as well as that of Mr. Lincoln-plots, indeed, embracing more than these two persons, and extending to nearly all the prominent men in the government and in its military service. General Grant and General Sherman were both the unconscious objects of deadly conspiracies. It is now known that, not only in the States, but in Canada and Europe, plots of this character were concocted; and it is believed that, on one occasion, the President actually took poison, in the drugs that were prescribed for him by his physician, and prepared in one of the shops of the city.
Secretary Seward, even before he came so near to death through one of these conspiracies, was compelled to give up his theory, and to acknowledge that he and the President were in positive danger.
The morning of the fourteenth of April was spent by Mr. Lincoln mainly in interviews with his friends. Among those who called was Speaker Colfax, who was about setting out upon an overland journey to the Pacific coast, a journey which has since been satisfactorily accomplished; and to him the President entrusted a verbal message to the miners, assuring them of his friendliness to their interests, and telling them that their prosperity was identified with the prosperity of the nation. General Grant, it will be remembered, was in the city; and he was invited to be present at the cabinet meeting