Page images
PDF
EPUB

Peaco Conference.

President's Proclamation.

Senate Convened.

On the following morning the President and Secretary returned to Washington, and shortly afterward, in compliance with a resolution to that effect, Congress was informed in detail of all that had led to the interview and its issue.

Thus was spiked the last gun bearing upon the terms on which the rebels would consent to peace. Whatever might have been the impression previously it was then well understood that to the armies in the field then converging toward Richmond, and not to the Executive of the nation, resort was to be had for peace upon any basis wbich loyal men would indorse.

On the 17th of February, in accordance with the general custom at the expiration of a Presidential term, the Senate was convened in active session by the following proclamation:

“WHEREAS, objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at twelve o'clock on the fourth of March next, to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive

“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, have considered it to be my duty to issue this my proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business, at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the fourth day of March next, at twelve o'clock at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body are hereby required to take notice.

"Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at Washington, the 17th day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the eighty ninth. "By the President:

A BRAHAM LINCOLN. “WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.":

The Military Situation.

Thomas at Nashville.

Sherman at Goldsborough

At this time, the military situation was very interesting to every friend of the Union, whatever might have heen the feelings it created among those who had so long been in arms against the Government.

Sherman had “come out" at Savannah, capturing it and presenting it as a Christmas gift to the nation, after an extraordinary march from Atlanta—which he had deprived of all power for barm—directly through the heart of Georgia ; a march as to which the rebel journalists made ludicrous efforts to be oracular in advance, predicting all manner of mishaps from the Georgia militia and the various “lions” in his way.

Thomas had fallen back leisurely to Nashville, forcing Hood, his antagonist, who bad supplanted Johnston on account of his fighting qualities, to the loss of almost his entire army in a sanguinary battle which occurred near that city, Thomas being the attacking party. With the remnants of his discomfited force, the fighting general bad fallen back, where was not definitely known, but evidently to some secure support.

Sherman having recuperated his army, had left Savannah and marched into South Carolina, where, according to the beforenamed veracious chroniclers, he was to flounder in bogs and quagmires, at the mercy of his valorous foes. He floundered on, truly-foundered, so as to flank Charleston, that nursery and hot-bed of treason, which had so long in

sulted the land—and compel its hurried evacuation ; floun. • dered, so as to capture and occupy Columbia, the capital of

the Palmetto State ; foundered, so as to threaten Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina; and at the time of which we write, had at last floundered to Goldsborough, where he had effected a connection with another column, which had pierced to that point after the capture of Wilmington, North Carolina, the pet port of disinterested blockade-runners—a capture rendered certain by the storming of Fort Fisher, commanding

The Military Situation.

Sbsridan and Grant,

Second Inauguration.

the entrance to its harbor, in connection with which one Major-General was made and another unmade—whether the latter result was brought about with or without the coöperation of the commander of the naval part of the expedition, it boots not here to inquire.

Whither Sherman would fiqunder next became to all rebeldom a question of the very deepest interest. Davis having been compelled by his Congress to assign the discarded Johnston to a command, and Lee to the command of all the rebel armies, Johnston was dispatched to head Sherman off, should be be insane enough to attempt to move any nearer Richmond—a species of insanity to which, it must be confessed, he had shown a marked tendency.

Sberidan, too, having chased Early up and out of the Shenandoah Valley—that Early the one of whom bis troops were wont to remark, that his principal business seemed to be“ to trade Confederate cannon for Yankee whiskey”-had been raiding around Richmond in whatsoever direction be listed, severing communications, gobbling up supplies, and creating a general consternation.

And still the bull-dog's teeth were firmly fastened in his victim. Not twistings, nor squirmings, nor strugglings, nor counterbites could do more than to defer—and that but for a short time—the inevitable.

The rebel congress, at the very last moment of its last session, had squeezed through a bill for arming the slaves, and Davis had grimly wished them a safe and pleasant journey to their respective homes. It was too late, both for the slaves and the homes.

Meantime, on Saturday, March 4th-day which opened unpropitiously, so far as the elements were concerned, but wbich redeemed itself before noontide, becoming bright and cheerful—at the hour appointed, the oath of office was for the second time administered to Mr. Lincoln—not, however, by the same Chief Justice, for Roger B. Taney slept with bis

Second Inauguration.

Inaugural Address

fathers, and in his place stood Salmon P. Chase-after which, on a staging erected at the eastern portico of the Capitol, he read in a clear, distinct voice, his second inaugural, occupying not more than ten minutes in the act :

“FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN :- At this second appearing to take the 'oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed very fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have constantly been called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.

“ The progress of our arms, upon wbich all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avoid it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it, without war; seeking to dissolve the Union and divide the effects by negotiation.

“Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

“One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but located in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somebow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate and extend this interest was the object for wbich the insurgents would

Son und Inauguration.

Inaugural Address.

reud the Union by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease, even before the conflict itself sbould cease. Each looked for an easier triumph and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes bis aid against the other. It may seem strange that any man should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing his bread from the sweat of other men's faces. But let us judge not, that we be not judged.

“ The prayer of both should not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of these offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those Divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him?

"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

“With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's

« PreviousContinue »