Page images

their instinctive knowledge that there is no diversity among the people. In affording the people the fair opportunity of showing, one to another, and to the world, this firmness and unanimity of purpose, the election has been of vast value to the national causc.

The election has exhibited another fact not less valuable to be known-the fact that we do not approach exhaustion in the most important branch of national resources—that of living men. While it is melancholy to reflect that the war has filled so many graves and carried mourning to so many hearts, it is some relief to know that, compared with the surviving, the fallen have been so few. While corps, and divisions, and brigades, and regiments have formed and fought and dwindled and gone out of existence, a great majority of the men who composed them are still living. The same is true of the naval service. The election returns prove this. So many voters could not else be found. The States regularly holding elections, both now and four years ago, to wit : California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, cast 3,982,011 votes now against 3,870,222 cast then, showing an aggregate now of 3,982,011. To this is to be added 33,763 cast now in the new States of Kansas and Nevada, which States did not vote in 1860, thus swelling the aggregate to 4,015,773, and the net increase during the three years and a half of war to 145,551. A table is appended showing particulars. To this again should be added the number of all soldiers in tho field from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, and California, who by the laws of thoso States could not vote away from their homes, and which number can not be less than 90,000. Nor yet is this all. The number in organized Territories is triple now what it was four years ago, while thousands, white and black, join us as the national arms press back the insurgent lines. So much is shown affirmatively and negatively by the election. It is not material to inquire how the increase has been produced, or to show that it would have been greater but for the war, which is probably true. The important fact remains demonstrated that we have more men now than we had when the war began; that we are not exhausted nor in process of exhaustion; that we are gaining strength and may, if need be, maintain the contest indefinitely. This as to men. Material resources are now more complete and abundant than ever.

The national resources, then, are unexhausted, and, as we believe, inexhaustible. The public purpose to reëstablish and maintain the national authority is unchanged, and, as we believe, unchangeable. The manner of continuing the effort remains to choose. On careful consideration of all the evidence acces. sible, it

seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good. He would accept nothing short of severance of the Union-precisely what we will not and can not give. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oft-repeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. He can not voluntarily re-accept the Union; we can not voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory. If we yield, we are beaten; if the Southern people fail him he is beaten. Either way, it would be the victory and defeat following war. What is truc, however, of him who heads the insurgent cause, is not necessarily true of those who follow. Although he can not re-accept the Union, they can. Some of them, we know, already desire peace and re-union. The number of such may increase. They can at any moment have peace simply by laying down their arms and submitting to the national authority under the Constitution. After so much, the Government could not, if it would, maintain war against them. The loyal people would not sustain or allow it. If questions should remain, we would adjust them by the peaceful means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes, operating only in constitutional and lawful channels. Some certain, and other possible, questions are, and would be, beyond the executive power to adjust; as, for instance, the admission of members into Congress, and whatever might require the appropriation of money. The executive power itself would be greatly diminished by the cessation of actual war. Pardons and remissions of forfeitures, however, would still be within executive control. In what spirit and tempor this control would be exercised can be fairly judged of by the past.

A year ago, general pardon and amnesty, upon specified terms, were offered to all, except certain designated classes ; and it was, at the same time, made known that the excepted classes were still within contemplation of special clemency, During the year many availed themselves of the general provision, and many more would, only that the signs of bad faith in some, led to such precautionary measures as rendered the practical process less easy and certain. Dur. ing the same time, also, special pardons have been granted to individuals of the accepted classes, and no voluntary application has been denied. Thus, practically, the door has

been, for a full year, open to all, except such as were not in condition to make free choice—that is, such as were in custody or under constraint. It is still so open to all. But the time may come-probably will come—when public duty shall demand that it be closed; and that, in lieu, more rigorous measures than heretofore shall be adopted.

In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national authority on the part of the insurgents, as the only indispensable condition of ending the war on the part of the Government, I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that “while I remain in my present position, I shall not attempt to retract or moda ify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.” If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it an executive duty to reënslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instru. ment to perforin it.

In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say that the war will cease on the part of the Government when. ever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. December 6, 1864.

Two Cabinet changes had occurred, since the retirement of Gov. Chase from the Secretaryship of the Treasury. At the time when an attempt was zealously made to divide the friends of the Administration on the basis of the Missouri classification of parties, it became the fashion, with those busiest in this work, to denounce Attorney-General Bates, and Postmaster-General Blair, as special representatives of “ Conservatism" in the Cabinet. Mr. Seward had previously been regarded in the same light, but Messrs. Bates and Blair had a more direct relation to Missouri affairs, and they came to be more frequently assailed, during the summer of 1864, than the former, by the “Radicals.” Mr. Lincoln had good reasons for reluctance to part with either of those gentlemen. Mr. Blair had almost alone, in the cabinet, stood firm against the policy-never favorably regarded for a moment by President Lincoln--of surrendering Fort Sumter to Rebel insolence, without a blow struck in its favor. That he was a prompt, watchful, and energetic officer, doing his exccutive work well,

[ocr errors]

nobody ventured to question. But he had made some speeches

. which were obnoxious to Republicans, almost universally This was particularly true of a speech made at Rockville, in Maryland, which was circulated in that State, with the intimation that it was an exposition of Mr. Lincoln's policy. The views thus given out were construed as decidedly reactionary on the slavery question, and savored too strongly of old-fashioned denunciation of Abolitionism. President Lincoln had certainly not only given no approval to the singular positions taken by Mr. Blair, in apparent backsliding from his former faith, but was even ignorant of the contents of this speech, at least for a long time after its publication.

Mr. Blair was scarcely less unfortunate in speeches made elsewhere, though less universally known. Without attempting fully to account for the fact, it was certainly true that there had come to be a . very general dissatisfaction with Mr. Blair as a Cabinet Minister. The latter understood this feeling, and verbally proposed to relieve the President from any embarrassment, in the canvass, on his account. Mr. Lincoln at first regarded this as mere clamor without just ground, and was disinclined to heed it. Afterward, he became satisfied that the hostility was real and wide-spread-not to be appeased by a firm refusal, as previously in the case of Mr. Seward-and addressed Mr. Blair the following note :


You have generously said to me, more than once, that whenever your resignation could be a relief to me, it was at my disposal. The time has come. You very well know that this proceeds from no dissatisfaction of mine with you personally or officially Your uniform kindness has been unsurpassed by that of any friend, and while it is true that the war does not so greatly add to difficulties of your Department as it does to some others, it is yet, much to say, as I most truly can, that in three years and a half

, during which you have administered the General Post Office, I remember no single complaint against you in connection therewith Yours, as ever,


To this letter, Dir. Blair replied as follows:



- ASHINGTON, September 23, 1864. MY DEAR SIR':

I have received your note of this date, referring to my offers to resign, whenever you should deem it advisable for the public interests that I should do so, and stating that, in your judgment, the time has now come. I now, therefore, formally tender my resignation of the office of Postmaster-General. I can not take leave of you without renewing the expressions of my gratitude for the uniform kindness which has marked your course toward Yours, truly,

M. BLAIR, The President.

Hon. William Dennison, Ex-Governor of Ohio, who had presided over the National Union Convention at Baltimore, was appointed Postmaster-General in Mr. Blair's stead, an appointment confirmed by the Senate at the beginning of the session.

Attorney-General Bates tendered his resignation soon after the Presidential election, to take effect on the 1st of December. Judge Bates had been the first member of Mr. Lincoln's Cabi. net definitely decided upon, and whose appointment was mutually understood. He had many years before been offered a Secretaryship under a Whig Administration, but declined the honor. He was well-known throughout the country as an early and steadfast advocate of emancipation in Missouri, and had long ago shown the sincerity of his faith by freeing his own slaves. While in his official capacity, he was set down by some as a Conservative, he was on many questions of the time, fully up to the advance line of his associates, and lagged behind on none. His views were not, however, a mere echo of other men's opinions, or of those of the people indiscriminately. He was unwilling to go with the current when he believed it was wrong, but chose to use his influence toward directing it aright. Least of all could he brook factious dictation. Those who thoroughly understood him, felt little occasion to be proud of any difference with him. He was ever,

« PreviousContinue »