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And he had never saved the land
My judgment clear, my duty plain;
The watchmen mount the towers in vain."
He ceased; and many a manly breast
Panted with strong emotion's swell,
And tears from manly eyelids fell.
As Lincoln slowly moved away;
Mrs. ANNA BACHE.
Desiring that Mr. Lincoln's record may be always before the public, we copy here his letter explaining some of his apparent inconsistencies, as they are termed.
(EXTRACT FROM THE FRANKFORT (KENTUCKY) “COMMONWEALTH,"
APRIL 26, 1864.) The circumstances which elicited from the President the letter are, as we understand them, about as follows:
The Senior of the Commonwealth, Colonel Hodges, by invitation, accompanied Governor Bramlette, and the Honorable Archie Dixon, on their recent visit to the Executive Mansion at Washington, where they had interviews with the President and the Secretary of War.
At the close of the interview between President Lin
coln, Governor Bramlette and Senator Dixon, the President pleasantly remarked, as the other gentlemen were about retiring, that he was apprehensive that Kentucky felt unkindly towards him, in consequence of not properly understanding the difficulties by which he was surrounded, in his efforts to put down this rebellion, and that he would explain to the gentlemen some of those difficulties, if they felt inclined to hear him. A willingness was at once manifested, and the President explained to them the difficulties which he had alluded to.
On a subsequent occasion, in a conversation with Mr. Lincoln, Colonel Hodges remarked that he was satisfied that the President was greatly misunderstood by many of the citizens of Kentucky, and that he would greatly oblige him if he would write out the remarks made to Governor Bramlette and Senator Dixon, in order that, with the President's permission, they might be published in the “Commonwealth;" that, if published, the Colonel doubted not they would remove much of the prejudice which was attempted to be created against the President in Kentucky.
The President took the matter into consideration, and, shortly after his return home, the Colonel received the following, which we would commend to the deliberate consideration of the patriotic people of Kentucky
“A. G. HODGES, Esq., Frankfort, Kentucky:
“MY DEAR SIR :—You ask me to put in writing the substance of what I verbally said the other day, in your presence, to Governor Bramlette and Senator Dixon. It was about as follows:
“I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take the oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge in primary, abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery.
“I did understand, however, that my oath to preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that Government—that nation-of which that Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the nation and yet preserve the Constitution ?
“By general law, life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures otherwise unconstitutional might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that to the best of my ability I had even tried to preserve the Constitution, if, to save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of Government, country, and Constitution altogether. When, early in the war, General Frémont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity. When, a little later, General Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, General Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come.
“When, in March and May and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the border States to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition; and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it the Constitution, or of laying strong hands upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss; but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white military force,no loss by it anyhow or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. We have the men, and we could not have had them without the measure.
“And now, let any Union man, who complains of the measure, test himself, by writing down in one line that he is for taking these one hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be but for the measure he condemns. If he cannot face his cause so stated, it is only because he cannot face the truth.
“I add a word, which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling this tale, I attempt no compliment to my own saga-city. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the nation's condition is not what either party or any man devised or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North, as well ås you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new causes to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.
The following letter and poem were received on the 15th of February, 1864, and read in the Senate-Chamber, on the occasion of one of my patriotic readings for the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission.
Previous to commencing my reading, I met the President in the private room of the Vice-President, and asked him if the sentiment of the poem met with his approval, as well as the poetry. He replied,
“Sir, I admire the one and approve the other, entirely and heartily."
I read the poem in the course of the evening, and, judging from the applause (loud and long) bestowed on it, the audience endorsed, in every sense, the poetry and the sentiment quite as fully and feelingly as Mr. Lincoln.
} WASHINGTON, February 15, 1864. “MY DEAR SIR:- The President of the United States directs me to send you the enclosed little poem, and to request that, if entirely convenient, you will please to read it at the SenateChamber this evening.
“I have the honor to be
“Jno. G. NICOLAY,
" Private Secretary. “James E. MURDOCH, Esq.”
“The following patriotic lines were written by one of the most distinguished statesmen of the United States, in answer to a lady's inquiry whether he was for peace.”—Editor.
Am I for Peace? Yes!
And the suasion of shot and shell,
To the depths of its kindred hell.