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ferred to Richmond. Thenceforth Virginia went straight toward desolation. Its “sacred soil” was from that hour devoted to trenches, fortifications, battle-fields, military roads, camps and graves.
The conciliatory policy of Mr. Lincoln had threatened the ruin of the confederacy; but the confederacy made war, and then appealed to the border states for sympathy and help. Governor Pickens of South Carolina telegraphed the fall of Sumter to the Governor of Virginia, and appealed to Virginia to know what she was going to do. This was the policy-to precipitate 'war, and then appeal to sectional pride and interest for sectional assistance. The first practical show of sectional feeling on the part of the border states was contained in the angry and insulting responses which they returned to Mr. Lincoln's call for troops. . These responses exhibited the sympathies of their Governors, at least. Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas followed Virginia out of the Union, and thus the confederate cause made the gain it sought.
At the North and West the response to the President's call for soldiers was rendered with enthusiastic alacrity, the states vieing with each other in the office of raising, fitting out and dispatching troops. Money was offered to the government by millions, and the President found that he had a basis for a policy in the national feeling. After a week of great anxiety, Washington was relieved; and while troops from the North were rushing southward, a still larger number from the South were pushing northward in preparation for the grand struggle.
One of the most encouraging incidents of this opening chapter of the war was a visit of Mr. Douglas to Mr. Lincoln, in which the former gave to the latter the assurance of his sympathy and support in the war for the preservation of the Union. It is to be remembered that Mr. Douglas was an ambitious man, that he was a strong party man, that he had battled for power with all the persistence of a strong and determined nature, and that he was å sadly disappointed man. The person with whom he had had his hardest fights occupied the chair to which he had for many years aspired.
On Sunday, the fourteenth of April, all Washington was alive with excitement under the effect of the news of the fall of Sumter. Secessionists could not conceal their joy, and the loyal were equally sad and indignant. Churches were forsaken, and the opening of the war was the only topic of thought and conversation. Under these circumstances, Hon. George Ashmun of Massachusetts, who was personally on the most friendly terms with Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas, called on the latter in the evening, to obtain from him some public declaration that should help the government in its extremity. He found the Senator surrounded by political friends, who were soon dismissed, and then, for an hour, the two men dis cussed the relations of Mr. Douglas to the administration. The first impulse of the Senator was against Mr. Ashmun's wishes, who desired him to go to the President at once, and tell him he would sustain him in all the needful measures which the exigency demanded. His reply was: “Mr. Lincoln has dealt hardly with me, in removing some of my friends from office, and I don't know as he wants my advice or aid.” Mr. Ashmun remarked that he had probably followed democratic precedents in making removals, but that the present question was above party, and that it was now in the power of Mr. Douglas to render such a service to his country as would not only give him a title to its lasting gratitude, but would show that in the hour of his country's need he could trample all party considerations and resentments under feet. At this juncture, Mrs. Douglas came in, and gave the whole weight of her affectionate influence in the direction in which Mr. Ashmun was endeavoring to lead him. He could not withstand the influence of his friend, his wife, and that better nature to which they appealed. He gave up all his enmity, all his resentment, cast every unworthy sentiment and selfish feeling behind him, and cordially declared his willingness to go to Mr. Lincoln, and offer him his earnest and hearty support.
It was nearly dark when the two gentlemen started for the President's house. Mr. Lincoln was alone, and on learning their errand gave them a most cordial welcome. For once, the life-long antagonists were united in heart and purpose. Mr. Lincoln took up the proclamation, calling for seventy-tive thousand troops, which he had determined to issue the next day, and read it. When he had finished, Mr. Douglas rose from his chair and said: “Mr. President, I cordially concur in every word of that document, except that instead of the call for seventy-five thousand men I would make it two hundred thousand. You do not know the dishonest purposes of those men as well as I do.” Then he asked the President and Mr. Ashmun to look at a map of thc United States which hung at one end of the room. On this he pointed out, in detail, the principal strategic points which should be at once strengthened for the coming contest. Among the more prominent of these were Fortress Monroe, Washington, Harper's Ferry and Cairo. He then enlarged upon the firm, warlike course which should be pursued, while Mr. Lincoln listened with earnest interest, and the two old foes parted that night thorough friends, perfectly united in a patriotic purpose.
After leaving the President, Mr. Ashmun said to Mr. Douglas: “You have done justice to your own reputation and to the President; and the country must know it. The proclamation will go by telegraph all over the country in the morning, and the account of this interview must go with it. I shall send it, either in my own language or yours. I prefer that you should give your own version.” Mr. Douglas said he would write it; and so the dispatch went with the message wherever the telegraph would carry it, confirming the wavering of his own party, and helping to raise the tide of loyal feeling, among all parties and classes, to its flood. The dispatch, the original of which Mr. Ashmun still retains, was as follows:
“Mr. Douglas called on the President this evening, and had an interesting conversation on the present condition of the country. The substance of the conversation was that while Mr. Douglas was unalterably opposed to the administration on all its political issues, he was prepared to sustain the President in the exercise of all his constitutional functions
to preserve the Union, and maintain the government and defend the federal capital. A firm policy and prompt action were necessary. The capital of our country was in danger and must be defended at all hazards, and at any expense of men or money. He spoke of the present and future without reference to the past."
The writer of the life of Mr. Lincoln and the chronicler of the rebellion will find few more delightful tasks than that of recording the unwearied devotion of Mr. Douglas to the cause of his country during the brief remainder of his life. He was done with his dreams of power, done with the thought that compromise would save the country, and done, for the time at least, with schemes for party aggrandizement. Six days after his interview with Mr. Lincoln he was on his way home, and at Bellair, Ohio, he was called out to make a speech. All parties received him with the greatest enthusiasm, and every word he uttered had the genuine ring of patriotism. Subsequently he addressed the legislature of Illinois, at Springfield, and his own fellow-citizens at Chicago. The old party talk and the old party policy were all forgotten, and only the sturdy, enthusiastic patriot spoke. In one of the last letters he ever wrote he said: “We should never forget that a man cannot be a true democrat unless he is a loyal patriot.” In May he became sick, and on the third of June he died. In the low delirium that attended his disease he talked of nothing but his country, and almost his last coherent words were shaped to a wish for its honor and prosperity, through the defeat and dispersion of its enemies.
Mr. Lincoln felt his death as a calamity. He had been of great service to him in unveiling the designs of the rebels, and in bringing to the support of the government an element which a word from him at a favorable moment would have alienated. He freely said that he regarded Mr. Douglas as one of his best and most valuable friends.
To those who are curious in marking strange coincidences, it will be interesting to remember that just four years to an hour after Mr. Douglas parted with Mr. Lincoln, at the close of the interview that has been described, Mr. Lincoln was
slain by an assassin. Both died with a common purpose uppermost in their minds, one in the threatening morning of the rebellion, and the other when its sun had just set in blood; and both sleep in the dust of that magnificent state almost every rod of which, within a quarter of a century, had echoed to their contending voices as they expounded their principles to the people.