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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 saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war-seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide 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 let it perish. And the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful 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 or 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 casier 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 offenses ! for it must needs be that offense come; but woe to that man by whom the offenses cometh.” If we shall suppose American slavery is one of those offenses 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 offense came, shall wo discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? 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 everv 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 firaness in the right, as God gives us to see 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.
The oath of office was then administered to the President by Chief Justice Chase. Reverberating cannon, saluting the re-inaugurated Chief Magistrate, and giving voice to the people's joy, announced the close of the brief ceremony. The address, in the grand setting of events before and after, has an imperishable luster, and a priceless worth—to be recognized wherever the tongue in which it is written is known. Compared with that of four years previous, it shows the same kindly forbearance and good-will toward his enemies, the same yearning for restored harmony under the cqual laws of a free republic. Yet wide was the contrast between the two addresses, and between the two occasions. He was no longer the comparatively inexperienced statesman, entering upon a position of unexampled trials, undertaking to lead the people, at their command, through a wilderness of untold dangers to the State. He had gained the last ridge, and paused to converse with them on the duties remaining, as they entered the longed-for land. Then, he had been willing, for the sake of peace although he had ever felt that “if slavery was not wrong, nothing was wrong "—to leave the removal of this evil to the slow processes of time, through the convictions of those sustaining it, and the formalities of legislation; but now he rejoiced in his own decisive act, which had summarily ended this great wrong, striking down at once the cause and the support of the Rebellion. Then, he had taken his official oath before a Chief Justice whose most memorable act was an attempt, by a political decision, to render impregnable the bulwarks of slavery. Now, he was sworn by a Chief Justice who believed that no inherent right of manhood was dependent on the hue of the skin, or on
the accident of birth. Before, treason was rampant, and armed Rebels gathering in Charleston, where the germ of secession had been for thirty years developing into sturdy growth. The same Charleston, almost a ruin, was now under the heel of the military power it had insulted, and proud South Carolina was overrun, from border to border, by unsparing Western soldiery. Four years the most wonderful the nation had ever seen, or, perhaps, ever may sce--years into which the ordinary history of generations had been condensed, had made the name of ABRAIIAM LINCOLN more famous and enduring than any other American name in his century. As the procession returned from the Capitol to the White House, but little after midday, hundreds of persons were gazing upward at a bright star, visible in the heavens-not less marvelous than the favorable sunlight
A phenomenon so rare-to many spectators altogether unknown hitherto—was the subject of universal comment.
The public reception at the White House, on Saturday evening, was attended by perhaps greater numbers than ever before. The day had closed without serious accident. Vague rumors had been in the air of a plot of assassination, to culminate on that day; but no disorder of any kind occurred. Political opponents, heretofore the most hostile, now outwardly seemed quietly to assume the attitude of reverent acquiescence in the renewed leadership of the Chosen One of the people, the Elect of Providence.
Hon. William P. Fessenden, having been elected a Senator from the State of Maine, for the term of six years, commencing on the 4th of March, 1865, had resigned his office as Secretary of the Treasury, to take his seat in the Senate on that day. Mr. Fessenden had assumed tho always responsible and trying position of Finance Minister, at a time of peculiar difficulty, when the country was comparatively depressed, in view of heavy losses in war without decisive victories, and when a heavy conscription impending, with its burdensome demands upon the Treasury, added to the heretofore severc strain upon the financial capabilities of the Government. Despite all the criticism and captiousness incident to such a time, Mr. Fessenden, by the oven tenor of his course-avoid.
ing hazardous experiments and visionary resorts-passed safely through the ordeal, and left to his successor no harder task than that he had himself assumed when taking the office. President Lincoln selected Hon. Hugh McCulloch, of Indiana, to fill the place made vacant by Senator Fessenden's resignation-an appointment not only promptly confirmed by the Senate, but cordially approved by the people. Judge McCulloch had organized the Currency bureau, and perfected the working of the National Bank system originated by Gov. Chase; and his later labors, as Secretary of the Treasury, have been attended with such marked success as to insure him a reputation in the office scarcely inferior to that of either of his predecessors under Mr. Lincoln's Administration.
This appointment of another Cabinet officer from Indiana, led to the resignation of Mr. Usher as Secretary of the Interior, to take effect on the 15th of May. Mr. Lincoln appointed Hon. James Harlan, a Senator from Iowa, to fill this vacancy, and his nomination, which was eminently satisfactory to the country, was at once confirmed by the Senate, on the 9th of March, in advance of the time at which he was to enter upon his duties at the head of the Department of the Interior. No other changes occurred in the constitution of Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet, at his entrance upon his second term of office.
The called session of the Senate terminated on the 11th of March. A large proportion of the nominations sent into that body, during this brief session, were promotions in the army and navy. Few changes were made in civil offices, the Presi. ident having determined to adopt no general system of “rotation." The Executive Mansion was, however, thronged by unusual numbers, during the first two or three weeks, and his time continually occupied with visitors, on manifold business, the variety and amount of which was such as no President before him ever grappled with, or would have conceived as within the range of possible attention. Much of this tax upon his time and vital energy was levied for the mere personal interests of either the visitor himself, or some importunate friend or constituent. Mr. Lincoln was uniformly indulgent to such appeals, when made in no offensive manner; and a positive element of the wasting weariness which these incessant calls occasioned him, was the sympathetic regret he felt for the many whom he was daily compelled to disappoint, whom yet he would gladly have gratified. Much of this "pressure ” related to other matters than official appointments. Most of it was, perhaps, as unavoidable by the visitor, as it was deemed to be by the President. But it was not, on this account, any the less exhausting. These, and other cares of graver sort, were manifestly telling upon his physical condition. For some days prior to the 15th of March, he was obliged to deny himself to visitors altogether. To those who had the opportunity of occasionally meeting him, when in his office, this change was doubtless generally apparent. It may be readily seen by all who compare his photographic likenesses, taken in the early part of the year 1864, with those of February and March, 1865. Not a little of this change was probably due to the anxieties he had continuously felt, and to the labors he had undergone, in connection with the great military campaigns of the past twelve-month, which were not near 'a final consummation.
On the 17th of March, Mr. Lincoln was present at the presentation to Gov. Morton, of Indiana, of a flag captured at Fort Anderson, near Wilmington, by Indiana troops. The ceremony occurred at the National Hotel, and the President, responding to the request of those present, made the following memorable speech from the balcony:
FELLOW CITIZENS: It will be but a very few words that I shall undertake to say. I was born in Kentucky; raised in Indiana, and live in Illinois (laughter), and I now am here, where it is my business to be, to care equally for the good people of all the States. I am glad to see an Indian regiment on this day able to present this captured flag to the Governor of the State of Indiana. I am not disposed, in saying this, to make a distinction between the States, for all have done equally well.
There are but few views or aspects of this great war upon which I have not said or written somethivg, whereby my own views might be made known. There is one: the recent attempt of our erring brethren, as they are sometimes called [laughter], to employ the negro to fight for them. I have