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“The public purpose to establish 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 accessible, 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 cannot give. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oftrepeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. He cannot voluntarily reaccept the Union. We cannot voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, single 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 true, however, of him who heads the insurgent cause, is not necessarily true of those who follow. Although he cannot re-accept the Union, they can. * * * * In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the National authority, on the part of the insurgents, as the only indispensable condition to 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 modify the Emancipation Proclamation, nor shall 1 return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress. If the peuple should, by whatever mode or means, make it an Executive duty to reenslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it. In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say that the war will cease on the part of the government whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.”
MORE TROOPS WANTED. On the 19th of December, 1864, a call was made for
300,000 more men to finish up the great work on hand in the field.
MIR. LINCOLN HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH REBEL COMIMISSIONIERS. In the early part of February, 1865, application was made to the National Government for permission for Messrs. A. H. Stephens of Georgia, R. M. T. Hunter of Virginia, and J. A. Campbell of Alabama, to pass through
the Union lines as quasi commissioners from the rebel government to treat for peace. Permission was granted, with the understanding that the parties named were not to be allowed to land. This determination upon the part of the Federal authorities caused much annoyance to the rebel agents, as they made no secret of their desire to visit Washington. Mr. Seward met the distinguished rebels named above, at Fortress Monroe. The Secretary of State telegraphed for the President, and Mr. Lincoln at once repaired to that point, where an interview was had on board the steamer River Queen. The conference lasted four hours, and was perfectly friendly and good-tempered throughout. Not a word was said on either side indicating any but amicable sentiments. On our side the conversation was mainly conducted by the President; on theirs by Mr. Hunter, Mr. Stephens occaSionally taking part. The rebel commissioners said nothing whatever of their personal views or wishes, but spoke solely and exclusively for their government, and, at the outset and throughout the conference, declared their entire lack of authority to make, receive, or consider any proposition whatever looking toward a close of the war, except on the basis of a recognition of the independence of the Confederate States as a preliminary condition. The President presented the subject to them in every conceivable form, suggesting the most liberal and considerate modification of whatever, in the existing legislation and action of the United States Government, might be regarded as specially hostile to the rights and interests, or wounding to the pride of the Southern people—but in no single particular could he induce them to swerve for a moment from their demand for recognition. They did not present this conspicuously as resting on their own convictions or wishes, but as the condition which their government had made absolutely indispensable to any negotiations or discussions whatever concerning peace.
President Lincoln, on the other hand, informed them, at every point, that such recognition was utterly and totally out of the question ; that the United States could stop the war and arrest, even temporarily, the movement of its armies, only on the condition precedent, that the authority of the National Government should be recognized and obeyed over the whole territory of the United States. This point conceded, he assured them that upon every other matter of difference they would be treated with the utmost liberality; but without that recognition the war must and would go on.
All the conversation which took place between the respective parties came back to, and turned upon, this radical and irreconcilable difference. Neither side could be Swerved a hair's breadth from its position. And, therefore, the attempt at negotiation was an utter failure. Upon separating, it was distinctly understood and explicitly stated that the attitude and action of each Government was to be precisely what it would have been if this interview had never taken place. So this negotiation went for nought, and President Lincoln and Mr. Seward returned to Washington ; while the discomfited rebel commissioners made the best of their way back to Richmond.
IS IN AUGURATED PRESIDENT OF THE TJNITED STATES FOR A SECOND TERMI.
On the fourth of March, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was re-inaugurated President of the United States for a second term of four years, the demonstrations on the occasion being of the most imposing description. Arriving at the East portico of the Capitol, the President, President-elect, took a seat provided for him, and the other distinguished persons filling the whole vast platform had places assigned to them. The President, President-elect, then advanced to the front, and Chief Justice Chase administered the oath of office, which the President pronounced in a clear, Solemn voice, as follows:—
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The President then delivered his Inaugural Address, as follows: INAUGUIRAI, ADDRESS.
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 fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energy of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which 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 avert it. While the Inaugural Address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to the saving of 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 perish—and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed only over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and beneficial interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude nor the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should 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 His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces.
But let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could 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 those 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 these Divine attributes which the believers in a loving God always ascribe to him 2 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 with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
PRESIDENT LINCOIN GOES TO “THE FRONT.”
On the 24th of March, 1865, Mr. Lincoln went to “the front,” just as the lines of General Grant were being drawn tighter and tighter around Richmond. He witnessed a part of the assault upon Petersburg, and was at City Point when Richmond fell into the possession of the Federal forces on the 2d of April, 1865. He pushed on to the rebel capital, held a levee in the mansion of the fugitive Jefferson Davis, and left the same evening for City Point, re. turning to Washington soon after.