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At the fair, the President made a speech peculiarly Lincolnian. He could not but contrast the condition of Baltimore, April, 1864, with what it was in the Spring of 1861. On this subject, he said:
“ Calling it to mind that we are in Baltimore, we cannot fail to note that the world moves. (Applause.) Looking upon the many people I see assembled here, to serve as they best may the soldiers of the Union, it occurs to me that three years ago those soldiers could not pass through Baltimore. I would say blessings upon the men who have wrought these changes, and the ladies who have assisted them. (Applause.) This change which has taken place in Baltimore, is part only of a far wider change that is taking place all over the country. When the war commenced three years ago, no one expected that it would last this long, and no one supposed that the institution of slavery would be materially affected by it. But here we are. (Applause.) The war is not yet ended, and slavery has been very materially affected, or interfered with. (Loud applause.) So true is it that man proposes, and God disposes.'
The following quaint and characteristic remarks upon liberty, were received with unbounded applause:
· The world is in want of a good definition of the word liberty. We all declare ourselves to be for liberty, but we do not all mean the same thing. Some mean that a man can do as he pleases with himself and his property. (Applause.) With others, it means, that some men can do as they please with other men, and other men’s labor. Each of these things are called liberty, although they are entirely different. To give an illustration: A shepherd drives the wolf from the throat of his sheep when attacked by him, aud the sheep of course thanks the shepherd for the preservation of his life; but the wolf denounces him as despoiling the sheep of his liberty, especially if it be a black sheep. (Applause.) This same difference of opinion prevails among some of the people of the North. But the people of Maryland have recently been doing something to properly define the meaning of the word, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for what they have done, and are doing.”* (Applause.)
• McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 280-81.
A few weeks later, Mr. Lincoln attended a great fair in aid of the same object at Philadelphia. Here he made a speech in which he said:
“When is the war to end? I do not wish to name a day when it will end, lest the end should not come at the given time. We accepted war and did not begin it. We accepted it for an object, and when that object is accomplished, the war will end; and I hope to God, it will never end until that object is accomplished. We are going through with our task, so far as I am concerned, if it takes us three years
* * I am almost tempted to hazard a prediction: It is that Grant is this evening in a positiom from which he can never be dislodged until Richmond is taken."
In the midst of the convulsions of civil war, a President was to be elected. Before entering upon those grand campaigns of Grant, and Sherman, and Sheridan, which terminated the war, crushing the slaveholder's rebellion, and establishing National Union based on universal freedom, I will describe briefly the political movements which led to the re-nomination and election of Mr. Lincoln.
As the year of the Presidential election came, although the progress of the war indicated the final triumph of the Union cause, yet the nation felt the drafts which had been made upon its resources.
Call after call for men to fill up the wasted armies of the Republic had been issued. Draft after draft had been made. Taxation, voluntarily imposed had been borne and increased until nearly every article of necessity, as well as of luxury, was burdened with the war tax; meanwhile the nation was rolling up a debt stupendous and fearful in its magnitude, and no immediate end of these burdens seemed at hand. The people could not see the end of their sacrifices. Many disasters had befallen the arms of the Republic. There was an active, hostile, political organization, eager to obtain power, always ready to seize upon the faults and errors of the administration; and besides, there were many ambitious men of the Union party, who, with their friends, honestly believed that the best interests of the country required a change of administration. There were candidates for the Presidency, among the Generals whom
Mr. Lincoln had felt it his duty to relieve from command, and even in his own Cabinet were aspirants for the Presideney. The attention of the world was directed to this election, occurring in the midst of such a tremendous civil war, as the most fearful test to which our institutions could be subjected. There was abroad in the land party organizations, some of them of a secret character, which bold and ambitious men might use for dangerous purposes. All close observers are aware that the passions, and prejudices, and convictions of men in time of war, and especially of civil war, become strongly excited and are difficult to control, and that men often throw off at such periods the restraints of law and of moral right, and are easily led to adopt any means to secure their ends.
While politicians, and a majority of both Houses of Congress, and the great leaders of the Metropolitan press, early in 1864, were not favorable to the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln, it was equally clear that the great mass of the people, with that instinctive good sense which characterized them throughout the war, were in favor of continuing him in the Executive chair. The people knew Mr. Lincoln, they comprehended and appreciated his greatness long before the politicians. They never for a moment doubted his perfect honesty, his entire devotion to his country; they knew his unselfishness, and felt that their treasure, their liberties, and their laws, everything, would be safe in his hands. To use his own homely illustration, “ they thought it unwise to swap horses while fording a stream." The people said “we will not change pilots in the midst of the storm.” Mr. Chase, the able and distinguished Secretary of the Treasury, was more than willing to be the Union candidate, but when Ohio, his own State, through its legislature, passed resolutions in favor of Mr. Lincoln, he yielded gracefully to the voice of the people and withdrew from the canvass.
The truth was, the minds of the people were fixed upon the great contest for National existence, and the overthrow of slavery, and were impatient of controversies among Union leaders. The opposition to Mr. Lincoln, talented, eloquent, zealous and active, and supported by many of the leading newspapers of the country, scarcely produced a ripple on the wave of public sentiment, which rolled on in favor of Mr. Lincoln's reëlection. The Republican Convention of New Hampshire, in January, 1864, declared Mr. Lincoln to be the people's choice for the Presidency. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania followed ; Maryland, Minnesota, Kansas, California, Indiana and Illinois did the same. It became obvious that the masses of the people and the soldiers, loved and fully trusted the President. They knew that his hands were clean, and his heart was honest and pure. They knew there was no bribe large enough, no temptation of wealth or power, which could seduce his integrity. Hence their instinctive sagacity settled the Presidential question, and the politicians and editors soon acquiesced.
The National Convention was called to meet at Baltimore on the 8th of June A great effort was made by the opponents of Mr. Lincoln to postpone the Convention, but these efforts failed.*
* The following letter, will show the spirit in which the friends of Mr. Lincoln met this effort: “ To the Editors of the Evening Post :
"I have received a printed circular to which several distinguished names are attached, urging the postponement of the National Convention.
** Believing that such postponement would be most unwise and dangerous to the loyal cause, I ask the privilege, through the columns of the Evening Post, very briefly to give my reasons for such belief.
“ I concur most fully with the gentlemen who signed the paper referred to, that it is very important that all parties friendly to the Government should be united in support of a single candidate (for President.) and that when a selection shall be made it shall be acquiesced in by all sections of the country, and all branches of the loyal party.
"I am perfectly convinced that the best means of securing a result so essential to success, is an early Convention, and that nothing would be more likely to prevent such union than its postponement.
"The postponement would be the signal for the organization of the friends of the various aspirants for the Presidency, and for the most earnest and zealous canvass of the claims, merits, and demerits of those candidates.
"If the time should be changed to September, we should see the most violent controversy within the Union ranks known in the history of politics.
"Is such a controversy desirable, and shall we encourage and stimulate it by postponing the convention?
"I think I am fully warranted in stating that up to this time there has been no considerable difference of opinion among the people on the Presidental question, It is a most significant fact that, notwithstanding the efforts made in this city and elsewhere in behalf of prominent and able men in military and civil life; notwithstanding a thoroughly organized, able, ardent, and zealous opposition to President Lincoln here, embodying great abilities and abundant means; with the co-operation of some of the great leading newspapers of the Union, and with the aid of some of the distinguished names of trusted national leaders attached to your petition;
A movement in behalf of General Fremont was attempted at Cleveland, Ohio, in May, 1864, when he received the nomination for the Presidency, from a Convention calling itself radical, but it was so obviously without popular support that Fremont retired before the election, and his friends
yet all this has produced no perceptible effect upon public opinion. The minds of the people are fixed upon the great contest for National existence, and are impa. patient of quarrels and controversies among ourselves. The opposition to the President in our own party, talented, eloquent, zealous, and active as it is, has scarcely produced a ripple on the wave of public sentiment which is so strongly running in favor of Mr. Lincoln's re-election.
" There is no organization among the triends of the President, they are doing nothing; but this action of the people is spontaneous, unprompted, earnest, and sincere. State after State holds its convention, appoints its delegates, and without a dissenting voice, instructs them to vote for Mr. Lincoln. This popularity of the President, this unanimity of the people, is confined to no section, but East as well as West, middle State and border State, they all speak one voice, 'Let us have Lincoln for our candidate.' Do I exaggerate? Maine speaks for him on the At. lantic, and her voice is echoed by California from the Pacific, New Hampshire and Kansas, Connecticut and Minnesota, Wisconsin and West Virginia, and now comes the great State of Pennsylvania, seconding Maryland; one after another, all declare for the re-election of the President. Is it not wiser to recognize and accept this great fact than to struggle against it?
“The truth is, the masses of the people, and the soldiers everywhere, trust and love the President. They know his hands are clean and his heart is honest and pure. They know that the devil has no bribe big enough, no temptation of wealth or power, which can seduce the integrity of Abraham Lincoln.
“ Hence the people - the brave, honest, self-denying people - the people who have furnished the men, and who are ready to pay the taxes necessary to crush the rebellion, and who are determined to establish National unity based on liberty - they are more wise, less factious, and more disinterested than the politi. cians. Their instinctive sagacity and good sense have already settled the Presi. dential question. It cannot be unsettled without a convulsion which will endanger the Union cause. A postponement of the Convention would not prevent Mr. Lincoln's re-nomination; it might possibly endanger his election.
“Acquiescence, union, and harmony will follow the June Convention. Delay encourages faction, controversy, and division. I say harmony will follow the June Convention. I say this because I believe General Fremont and his friends are loyal to liberty and will not endanger its triumph by dividing the friends of freedom, I say this because I believe the radical Germans who support Fremont, who have done so much in this contest to sustain free institutions, cannot be induced by their enthusiasm for a man, to desert or endanger the triumph of their principles.
"The hour is critical. We approach the very crisis of our fate as a Nation. With union and harmony, our success is certain.
"The Presidential election rapidly approaches. We cannot divert attention from it by postponing the Convention. We cannot safely change our leaders in the inidst of the storm raging around us.
"The people have no time for the discussions which must precede and follow such a change.
“I repeat, we cannot safely or wisely change our leader in the midst of the great events which will not wait for conventions. Such is the instinctive, nearly universal judgment of the people. Let, then, the Convention meet and ratify the choice which the people have already so clearly indicated. "I am, very truly and respectfully yours,
" ISAAC N. ARNOLD, Washington, May 2, 1864."