« PreviousContinue »
of his life was, when learning by telegraph that very Friday afternoon, that two of the leaders and concoctors of the Rebellion were expected to arrive disguised, in a few hours, at one of our ports, to escape to Europe, he instructed our officers not to arrest them, but let them flee the country. He did not wish their blood, but their associates thirsted for his, and in a few short hours after this message of mercy to save their friends from death sped on the wings of lightning, with wicked hands they slew him. No last words of affection to weeping wife and children did they allow him. No moment's space for prayer to God. But in order that consciousness might end with the instant, the pistol was held close to the skull, that the bullet might be buried in his brain.
“ Thus lived and thus died our murdered President. But, as the ruffian shot down the pilot at our helm, just as the Ship of State, after all its stormy seas, was sailing prosperously into port; another, whose life, like that of Seward and Stanton, had been marked for that very night of horrors, but who had been saved, sprang to the rudder, and the noble ship holds on her course, without a flutter in her canvass, or a strain upon her keel. Andrew Johnson, to whom the public confidence was so quickly and worthily transferred, is cast in a sterner mould than him whose place he fills. He has warred on traitors in his mountain home as they have warred on him; and he insists, with this crowning infamy filling up their cup of wickedness, that treason should be made odious, and that mercy to the leaders who engendered it is cruelty to the nation.
"The text of Holy Writ, which he believes in for them, is in the twenty-sixth verse of the seventh chapter of Ezm. Let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment;' and to this do not all loyal hearts respond Amen.
“And thus, though the President is slain, the Nation lives. The statesman who has so successfully conducted our foreign correspondence as to save us from threatened and endangering complications and difficulties abroad, and who, with the President, leaned over to mercy's side, so brutally bowie-knifed as he lay helpless upon his bed of anguish, is happily to be spared us, and the conspiracy which intended a bloody harvest of six patriots' lives, reaped with its murderous sickle but one.
“ But that one, how dear to all our hearts, how priceless in its worth, how transparent and spotless its purity of character. In the fiery trial to which the nation has been subjected we have given of the bravest and best of the land. The South is billowed with the graves where sleep the patriot martyrs of Constitutional liberty till the resurrection morn, The vacant chair at the table of thousands upon thousands tells of those who, inspired by the sublimest spirit of self-sacrifice, have died that the Republic might survive. Golden and living treasures have been heaped upon our country's altar. But, after all these
costly sacrifices had been offered, and the end seemed almost at hand, a costlier sacrifice had to be made; and from the highest place in all the land the victim came. Slaughtered at the moment of victory the blow was too late to rob him of the grand place he has won for himself in history.
""We know him now. All narrow jealousies
Are silent. And we see him as he moved,
But through all this tract of years, Wearing the white flower of a blameless life.' Murdered, coffined, buried, and will live with those few immortal names who were not born to die ; live as the Father of the Faithful in the time that tried men's souls ; live in the grateful hearts of the dark-browed race he lifted from under the heel of the oppressor to the dignity of freedom and of manhood; live in every bereaved circle which has given father, husband, son or friend to die, as he did, for his country; live with the glorious company of martyrs to liberty, justice and humanity, that trio of Heaven-born principles ; live in the love of all be. neath the circuit of the sun who loathe tyranny, slavery and wrong. And leaving behind him a record that shows how honesty and principle lifted him, self-made as he was, from the humblest ranks of the people to the noblest station on the globe, and a name that shall brighten under the eye of posterity as the ages roll by.
66. From the top of Fame's ladder he stepped to the sky.'
Notwithstanding the request of the speaker that the audience would not applaud, it was impossible to restrain them, and Mr. COLFAX was repeatedly interrupted.
HON. GEORGE BANCROFT'S ORATION.
“Our grief and horror at the crime which has clothed the continent in mourning, find no adequate expression in words and no relief in tears. The President of the United States of America has fallen by the hands of an assassin. Neither the office with which he was invested by the approved choice of a mighty people, nor the most simple-hearted kindliness of nature could save him from the fiendish passions of relentless fanaticism. The wailings of the millions attend his remains, as they are borne in solemn procession over our great rivers, along the seaside, beyond the mountains, across the prairie, to their final resting-place in the valley of the Mississippi. The echoes of his funeral knoll vibrate through the world, and the friends of freedom of every tongue and in every land are his mourners.
“Too few days have passed away since ABRAHAM LINCOLN stood in the flush of vigorous manhood, to permit any attempt at an analysis of his character or an exposition of his career. We find it hard to believe that his large eyes, which in their softness and beauty expressed nothing but benevolence and gentleness, are closed in death; we almost look for the pleasant smile that brought out more vividly the earnest cast of his features, which were serious even to sadness. A few years ago he was a village attorney, engaged in the support of a rising family, unknown to fame, scarcely named beyond his neighborhood; bis Administration made him the most conspicuous man in his country, and drew on him first the astonished gaze, and then the respect and admiration of the world.
6. Those who come after us will decide how much of the wonderful results of his public career is due to his own good common sense, his shrewd sagacity, readiness of wit, quick interpretation of the public mind, his rare combination of fixedness and pliancy, his steady tendency of purpose; how much to the Americani people, who, as he walked with them side by side, inspired him with their own wisdom and energy; and how much to the overruling laws of the moral world, by which the selfishness of evil is made to defeat itself. But after every allowance, it will remain that members of the government which preceded his administration opened the gates to treason, and he closed them ; that when he went to Washington the ground on which he trod shook under his feet, and he left the republic on a solid foundation; that traitors had seized public forts and arsenals, and he recovered them for the United States, to whom they belonged; that the capital, which he found the abode of slaves, now the home only of the free; that the boundless public domain which was grasped at, and, in a great measure, held for the diffusion of slavery, is now irrevocably devoted to freedom; that then men talked a jargon of a balance of power in a republic between Slave States and Free States, and now the foolish words are blown away forever by the breath of Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee; that a terrible cloud of political heresy rose from the abyss, threatening to hide the light of the sun, and under its darkness a rebellion was rising into indefinable proportions; now the atmosphere is purer than ever before, and the insurrection is vanishing away; the country is cast into another mould, and the gigantic system of wrong, which had been the work of more than two centuries, is dashed down, we hope forever. And as to himself personally : he was then scoffed at by the proud as unfit for his station, and now, against the usage of later years, and in spite of numerous competitors, he was the unbiassed and the undoubted choice of the American people for a second term
of service. Through all the mad business of treason he retained the sweetness of a most placable disposition ; and the slaughter of myriads of the best on the battle-field, and the more terrible destruction of our men in captivity by the slow torture of exposure and starvation, had never been able to provoke him into harboring one vengeful feeling or one purpose of cruelty.
"How shall the nation most completely show its sorrow at Mr. LINCOLN's death ? How shall it best honor his memory ? There can be but one answer. He was struck down when he was highest in its service, and, in strict conformity with duty, was engaged in carrying out principles affecting its life, its good name, and its relations to the cause of freedom and the progress of mankind. Grief must take the character of action, and breathe itself forth in the assertion of the policy to which he fell a sacrifice. The standard which he held in his hand must be uplifted again, higher and more firmly than before, and must be carried on to triumph. Above every tbing else, his proclamation cf-the 1st day of January, 1863, declaring throughout the parts of the country in rebellion the freedom of all persons who had been held as slaves, must be affirmed and maintained.
Events, as they rolled onward, have removed every doubt of the legality and binding force of that proclamation. The country and the rebel government have each laid claim to the public service of the slave, and yet but one of the two can have a rightful claim to such service. That rightful claim belongs to the United States, because every one born on their soil, with the few exceptions of the children of travelers and transient residents, owes them a primary allegiance. Every one so born has been counted among those represented in Congress; every slave has ever been represented in Congress-imperfectly and wrongly it may be—but still has been counted and represented. The slave born on our soil always owed allegiance to the General Government. It may in time past have been a qualified allegiance, manifested through his master, as the allegiance of a ward through its guardian or of an infant through its parent. But when the master became false to his allegiance the slave stood face to face with his country, and his allegiance, which may before have been a qualified one, became direct and immediate. His chains fell off
, and he stood at once in the presence of the nation, bound, like the rest of us, to its public defence. Mr. LINCOLN'S proclamation did but take notice of the already existing right of the bondman to freedom. The treason of the master made it a public crime for the slave to continue his obedience; the treason of a State set free the collected bondmen of that State.
“ This doctrine is supported by the analogy of precedents. In the times of feudalism the treason of the lord of the manor deprived lim of his serfs ; the spurious feudalism that existed among us differs in many respects from the feudalism of the middle ages, but so far the precedent runs parallel with the present case-for treason the master then, for treason the master now, loses his slaves.
“In the middle ages the sovereign appointed another lord over the serfs and the land which they cultivated : in our day the sovereign makes them masters of their own persons, lords over themselves.
“ It has been said that we are at war, and that emancipation is not a belligerent right. The objection disappears before analysis. In a war between independent powers the invading foreigner invites to his standard all who will give him aid, whether bond or free, and he rewards them according to his ability and his pleasure with gifts or freedom ; but when at a peace he withdraws from the invaded country he must take his aiders and comforters with him; or if he leaves them behind, where he has no court to enforce his decrees, he can give them no security, unless it be by the stipulations of a treaty. In a civil war it is altogether different. There, when rebellion is crushed, the old government is restored, and its courts resume their jurisdiction. So it is with us; the United States have courts of their own, that must punish the guilt of treason and vindicate the freedom of persons whom the fact of rebellion has set free.
• Nor may it be said, that because slavery existed in most of the States when the Union was formed, it cannot rightfully be interfered with now. A change has taken place, such as MADISON foresaw, and for which he pointed out the remedy. The constitutions of States had been transformed before the plotters of treason carried them away into rebellion. When the Federal Constitution was formed, general emancipation was thought to be near: and everywhere the respective legislatures had authority, in the exercise of their ordinary functions, to do away with slavery; since that time the attempt has been made in what are called Slave States to make the condition of slavery perpetual; and events have proved with clearness of demonstration, that a constitution which seeks to continue a caste of hereditary bondmen through endless generations is inconsistent with the existence of republican institutions. So, then, the new President and the people of the United States must insist that the proclamation of freemen shall stand as a reality. And moreover, the people must never cease to insist that the constitution shall be so amended as utterly to prohibit slavery on any part of our soil for evermore.
* Alas! that a State in our vicinity should withhold its assert to this last beneficent measure; its refusal was an encourage- , ment to our enemies equal to the gain of a pitched battle, and delays the only hopeful method of pacification. The removal of the cause of the rebellion is not only demanded by justice; it is the policy of mercy, making room for a wider clemency; it is