« PreviousContinue »
When the notorious guerrilla (“ horse-thief," as Parson Brownlow always called him) John Morgan was killed, some one brought the news to Mr. Lincoln. “Well,” said he, “I would not crow over anybody's death, but I can take Morgan's death as resignedly as I can anybody's.” Pausing a moment, he indignantly exclaimed: “Morgan was a coward and a negrodriver—the kind of a man that the North knows nothing about.”
A friend and neighbor of Judge Kellogs, of Illinois, who had enlisted, was guilty of a misdemeanor, for which he was tried by courtmartial and condemned to be shot. The night previous to the day on which he was to be executed, Kellogg heard of it, and applied to the Secretary of War for a reprieve. Stanton flatly refused. “ Too much leniency in the service already; we must make an example of him.” “Well," Mr. Secretary,” said Kellogg, “I give you fair notice that the boy is not going to be shot.” So saying, he posted off to Lincoln, who had retired for the night, and partly begged, partly forced his way into Lincoln's sleeping
The President listened quietly to the excited Congressman, and then, rising on his
elbow, said: “Well, I do n't believe shooting him will do him any good; give me that pen.”
A boy soldier was confined at Elmira, New York, and under sentence of death for the atrocious crime of poisoning his guards, who were at the time holding him in confinement for desertion. One of the guards died from the effects of the poison. His mother and other friends made repeated efforts to have the sentence commuted, without avail. On the morning of the day when the prisoner was to die, his friends succeeded in convincing Lincoln that he was probably insane. He at once ordered a reprieve till this question could be determined; and greatly fearing his telegraphic dispatch should fail to reach Elmira in time to save the boy's life, sent, during the forenoon, three other dispatches by as many different lines to different parties at Elmira, each repeating the reprieve.
A poor girl, a foreigner, whose only friend was a brother in the army, received the crushing intelligence that her brother had been induced to desert, and was captured and condemned. She went to Washington, and tried, without avail, to get an interview with the President. Hon. Thomas Ford, of Ohio, met her at
REPRIEVES AND PARDONS.
the portico of the White House, and his sympathies were deeply enlisted. As he had an appointment to meet the President, he told her to follow him closely, and force herself between him and the President, and present her plea. She did as she was instructed. Lincoln looked first at her tearful face, then at her neat but scanty dress, and said: “My poor girl, you have come here with no governor or senator to plead your cause. You seem honest and truthful, and you do n't wear hoops, and I will be whipped but I will pardon your brother.”
This pardoning of deserters was just as well as humane. Young men and boys who were in the ranks, and whose relations were besotted with the virus of slavery, were, during the whole of the war, discouraged, deceived, and induced to desert by their traitorous friends at home. The pardoning power, so freely used, saved the life of many a young man who was less to blame for desertion than the unprincipled people who thus covertly and basely sought to weaken the armies and destroy the Government.
A poor woman, advanced in life, obtained an interview with the President, and said : “My husband and three sons all went into the army.
My husband was killed at the fight at - — I got along very badly since then, living all alone, and I thought I would come and ask you to release to me my oldest son.” Mr. Lincoln replied, in his kindest tone,“ Certainly, certainly, my good woman, if you have given us all, and your prop has been taken away, you are justly entitled to one of your boys.” The poor woman thanked him gratefully, and, fearing to trust her precious paper to other hands, went with it herself to the front in search of her son. She found him in a hospital mortally wounded. Having buried him, she returned with a broken heart to the President. He was greatly affected by her appearance and story, and said: “I know what
you wish me to do, and I will do it without your asking.” He then took up a pen and commenced writing an order for the release of the second son. “ While he was writing, the poor woman stood by his side, the tears running down her face, and passed her hand softly over his head, stroking his rough hair as I have seen a fond mother caress a son. By the time he had finished writing, his own eyes and heart were full.
He handed her the paper: "Now,' said he, 'you have one and I one of the other
two left; that is no more than right.' She took the paper, and reverently placing her hand again upon his head, the tears still upon her cheeks, said: “The Lord bless you, Mr. Lincoln. May you live a thousand years, and may you always be the head of this great nation!'”
“ A couple of well-known New York gentlemen called upon the President to solicit a pardon for a man who, while acting as mate for a sailing vessel, had struck one of his men a blow which resulted in his death. Convicted and sentenced for manslaughter, a powerful appeal was made in his behalf, as he had previously borne a good character. Giving the facts a hearing, Mr. Lincoln responded :
“« Well, gentlemen, leave your papers, and I will have the Attorney-General, Judge Bates, look them over, and we will see what can be done. Being both of us pigeon-hearted fellows, the chances are that, if there is any ground whatever for interference, the scoundrel will
Instances similar to the preceding were constantly recurring during the last eventful years of Mr. Lincoln's life. They were a source of
*"Six Months at the White House."