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PRESERVER OF THE UNION-SAVIOUR OF THE REPUBLIC: REMINISCENCES OF ABRAHAM
MAJOR WILLIAM H. LAMBERT
MONG the many associations that are met to commemo
rate the Centennial Anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, there is none that can rejoice in the honor done his name with greater fitness than The Union League of Philadelphia.
The Union League owes its being to the earnest purpose to uphold his hands; of it he was an Honorary member, and in acknowledging his election as such, he wrote, "The generous approval of a portion of my fellow citizens, so intelligent and patriotic as those comprising your association, assures me that I have not wholly failed."
Among the founders of the League were men who had early advocated his nomination for the Presidency, strenuously worked for his election, and heartily approved his administration; and when they united to form this organization they enrolled men of like sympathy and purpose, and The Union League became the prototype of many clubs emulous of its example. The League did not confine itself to mere verbal expressions of approbation, valuable and important as such evidences of sympathy and loyalty were, but it engaged actively and successfully in recruiting for the army, and, participating vigorously in the campaign for his renomination and reëlection, was powerfully effective in securing the triumph at the ballot which ensured final victory in the field. Having steadfastly and energetically supported the great President, The Union League of right joins the chorus of thanksgiving and praise for the life, the character, and the work of Abraham Lincoln.
United with the thousands who to-day commemorate the centenary of his birth, recalling all that we have heard and read concerning him, especially the many incidents of his
life that for months preparatory to this day have been narrated in our newspapers and magazines, remembering how he shaped our history and enriched our literature, it is hard to realize how little known he was to the country at large prior to the assembling of the convention that nominated him for the presidency.
He had served a single term in the national House of Representatives, he had been an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 1855, in the next year his name had been presented to the first National Convention of the Republican Party as a candidate for the vice-presidency; again placed in nomination by his party for the Senate, he engaged with Stephen A. Douglas in a political debate the most memorable in our history outside the halls of Congress, and as a result of this debate he secured a majority of the popular vote of the State for the Republican candidates for the Legislature, but as the majority of the legislators chosen were for Douglas, Lincoln was a second time defeated in his aspiration for the Senate. The fame of the debate led a club of young men in the city of New York to invite Lincoln to lecture, and in compliance he made a remarkable address at the Cooper Institute, in the presence of a large audience, comprising some of the foremost members of the Republican Party. Because of this address he was requested to deliver a series of speeches in the New England States. These speeches in New York and the East attracted the attention of men influential in the councils of the party, who, opposed to the more prominent candidates for the presidential nomination, were seeking a candidate who, in their judgment, would be more likely to be elected.
Consideration of Lincoln's availability, the importunity of the Republican candidates for Governor in Pennsylvania and Indiana-both "October States," and supposedly doubtfullocal antagonism to Seward and to Chase, and the intense earnestness of Lincoln's friends in Illinois and adjacent States, coöperated to secure for him the nomination.
Seemingly, Lincoln had made so little impression upon the people at large, that conservatives who deprecated the radical
phrase of the "Irrepressible Conflict," and feared its effect upon voters, had apparently forgotten-if indeed they had known that months before Seward had pronounced these objectionable words, Lincoln had declared, "A house divided against itself cannot stand; I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."
Despite efforts that have been made to controvert the statement, the truth is that for the moment the supreme fact of the Chicago Convention of 1860 "was the defeat of Seward rather than the nomination of Lincoln. It was the triumph of a presumption of availability over preeminence in intellect, and unrivalled fame."
Elected to the presidency by a minority of the popular vote, his election followed by the threatened withdrawal of several States, the successful candidate might well be awed by the stupendous responsibility that awaited him. The months of suspense between his election and his inauguration were fraught with intense anxiety. In the hope of averting the threatened calamity many public meetings urged compromise and favored liberal concessions. Reaction appeared to be setting in, and many who had helped to elect him seemed to regret their success; but whoever else was shaken, Lincoln was not, and to his intimate friends gave assurance of his firm adherence to the principles that had triumphed in his election. In letters to Senator Trumbull, Lincoln wrote:
"Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slaveryif there be, all our labor is lost, and ere long must be done again. Stand firm. The tug has to come, and better now than any
“If any of our friends do prove false, and fix up a compromise on the territorial question, I am for fighting again, that is all.” “If it prove true (report that the forts in South Carolina will be surrendered by the consent of President Buchanan), I will, if our friends at Washington concur, announce publicly at once that they are to be retaken after the inauguration. This will give the Union men a rallying cry, and preparations will proceed somewhat on this side as well as on the other."
These passages were read by Major Lambert from the original autograph letters.
Before anything else Lincoln represents the spirit of National Union against the spirit of Local Separation, the right and duty of nations to fight disintegration. Then Lincoln refrecents Human Freedom; hence the magic of his name for all who have had, who still will have, to fight anywhere against Slavery. Thirdly, Lincoln represents Americanism, as for the Monroe Doctrine at its critical moment, and but for him our Continent would now have two contrary pottion pobs. There
are the three greatest
impersonations in Abraham Lincoln : Union, Freedom, America.
Facsimile of Manuscript Tribute from Señor Joaquim Nabuco, Brazilian
men ask for him _ he has
Home to the hearts of all that love their kind; And they that seek hem there, henceforth, shall find Their man of men, - in all men's hearts at home .
The Mother made him from her from her common loam, And from her world-wide harvest filled
Poured by all paths, that from all quarters wind,
As in old
days all highways proused to Rome.
She said: "I make a universal man, Warmed with all laughter, tempered with all tears, Whose word and deed shall have the force of fate. I made not seven in all, since time began, Of men like these . They last a thousand years. They have the power to will, the will to wait."
Wendell Phillips Stafford.
Facsimile of Manuscript Tribute from Wendell Phillips Stafford, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia