Page images

Nov. 8.

The day of election was bright and beautiful throughout the coun

try. Troops were stationed in New York to preserve order.

They were commanded by General Butler, who issued an address to the people.

“ Let every citizen," he said, “having the right to vote, act according to the inspiration of his own judgment. He will be protected in that right by the whole power of the Government, if it shall become necessary."

No troops were seen at the polling places in that city. There was no rioting or disorder anywhere.

“To Mr. Lincoln," writes one of his secretaries, "this was one of the most solemn days of his life. Assured of his personal success, and devoutly confident that the day of peace was not far off, he felt no elation and no sense of triumph over his opponents. His mind seemed filled with mingled feelings of deep and humble gratitude to the vast majority of his fellow-citizens who were this day testifying to him their heart-felt confidence and affection, and of a keen and somewhat surprised regret that he should be an object in so many quarters of so bitter and vindictive an opposition. He said: 'It is singular that I, who am not a vindictive man, should always, except once, have been before the people for election in canvasses marked for their bitterness. When I came to Congress it was a quiet time; but always, except that, the contests in which I have been prominent have been marked with great rancor.'” (0)

Once more Mr. Lincoln was sitting with the telegraph operator during the evening to receive despatches regarding the Presidential election.

“ The Union majority in Philadelphia will be 10,000,” the message from Mr. Forney. This was much beyond what Mr. Lincoln had anticipated. “I reckon Forney is a little excited," he said.

“We shall have,” telegraphed Mr. Felton, “15,000 majority in Baltimore, and 5000 in the State. All hail, free Maryland !"

It came from the city where, in 1861, the President-elect was to have been assassinated. Mr. Henry Winter Davis, of Baltimore, was an ardent Republican, but had opposed Mr. Lincoln, and had failed of a re-election to Congress.

“I am glad," said Mr. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, “that he has been defeated. He has maliciously assailed the nary for the last two years."

“I cannot quite agree with you,” said Mr. Lincoln. “ You have

[ocr errors][graphic]


[ocr errors]

more of the feeling of personal resentment than I. Perhaps I have too little of it; but I never thought it paid. A man has no time to spend half his life in quarrels. If any man ceases to attack me I never remember the past against him.” ()

Mr. Stanton, Mr. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, and Mr. Eckert, who had charge of the telegraph, were present.

“ Dana," said Mr. Lincoln, “ have you ever read any of Reverend Petroleum V. Nasby's letters ?”

“No, Mr. President, I have only had time to glance at them, but they seem to be quite funny.”

Well, let me read a specimen.” The President thereupon took a yellow-covered pamphlet from his pocket and read one of Nasby's letters, written some weeks before the election. Mr. Stanton viewed the proceeding with an impatience which he did not try to conceal; but Mr. Lincoln went on reading and laughing, stopping long enough to listen to the reading of the election returns, and then resuming Nasby. Mr. Chase and Mr. Whitelaw Reid entered the apartment. The President greeted them. Mr. Stanton left the room and beckoned Dana to follow him.

“I shall,” writes Mr. Dana, “never forget the fire of his indignation at what seemed to Mr. Stanton to be mere nonsense. The idea that when the safety of the republic was thus at issue, when the control of an empire was to be determined by a few figures brought in by the telegraph, the leader, the man most deeply concerned, not merely for himself but for his country, could turn aside to read such balderdash and to laugh at such frivolous jests, was to his mind indescribably repugnant. He could not understand, apparently, that it was by the relief which these jests afforded to the strain of mind under which Mr. Lincoln had so long been living, and to the natural gloom of a melancholy and desponding temperament, that the safety and sanity of his intelligence was maintained and preserved." ("')

There was more than this. Mr. Lincoln was not so solicitous in regard to the election as were Chase, Fox, Dana, and Stanton. IIe had forecast the result with unerring vision. They were not so far-seeing. His belief in the people, his trust in God, his unsirerving faith in the ultimate triumph of eternal principles, his knowledge of passing events, had enabled him to determine the probable verdict of the people upon his administration. Weeks before the election he had comprehended the trend of events. He profoundly believed divine Providence was directing the affairs of the nation, and ceased to be solicitous as to results. Before midnight he became satisfied that the great State of New York had voted in his favor, though by a small majority, not exceeding 7000. Very wisely had he brought about harmony among the leading Republicans in that State. Two hundred and twelve electoral votes had been secured for him, and twenty-one for McClellan.

It was nearly two o'clock in the morning when he left the War Department. At the door he encountered a brass-band and a crowd of people, who called for a speech.

“I earnestly believe," said Mr. Lincoln," that the consequences of this day's work will be of lasting advantage, if not the salvation of the country. All who have labored to-day in behalf of the Union organization have wrought for the best interests of their country and the world, not only for the present, but for all future ages. I am thankful to God for this approval of the people ; but while deeply grateful for this mark of their confidence in me, if I know my heart, my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph. I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one; but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people's resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity.”(")

From the day of his retirement as commander of the army, General McClellan had been residing in New Jersey. The election returns indicating his defeat, he resigned his commission as major-general in the regular army and became once more a private citizen. His resignation was accepted by the President, and the place thus made vacant was filled by the appointment of Philip H. Sheridan.

On the evening of November 10th the various Republican clubs of Washington marched to the White House with banners and torches to

pay their respects to the President. He had been informed of

their intentions, and wrote a brief address. He stood by an open window to read it, one of his secretaries holding a candle. “It is not very graceful,” said Mr. Lincoln,“ but I am growing old enough not to care much for the manner of doing things."

Mr. Lincoln said in his address:

Nov. 10.

" It is demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound and strong we still are. It shows that, even among the candidates of the same party, he who is nost devoted to the Union and most opposed to treason can receive most of the people's vote. It shows also to an extent yet unknown that we have more men than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place, but brave, patriotic men are better than gold. . So long as I have been here I

« PreviousContinue »