« PreviousContinue »
and organized them for the protection of the Government, and arranged with such patriotic citizens as were to be found in the city for volunteer reënforcements, should the emergency require them. Mr. Lincoln, on his arrival, was conducted to a public hotel, and the following day the usual ceremonies of the inauguration proceeded without disturbance. Chief Justice Taney, though very old, still discharged the duties of his high office, and administered the oath to Mr. Lincoln. As he thus legalized the stamp of condemnation which the people had placed upon his wicked decision, his reflections must have been gloomy. He could not but foresee that his name would go down to posterity inseparably associated with the infamous attempt he had made to destroy justice and establish oppression upon the prostrate rights of man.
The inaugural was delivered in a clear and distinct tone, touched, at times, with pathos and softened with expostulation. In it the new President exhausted all his powers
of reason and persuasion, in an effort to disabuse the minds of the rebels, and bring them peaceably back to their allegiance. His absorbing desire to avert the horrors of war overshadowed every other thought, and he plead with those determined traitors as a father would plead with his wayward sons.
He concluded by saying: “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You can have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it.
“I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every patriot grave and battle-field to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when touched again, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
These solemn and touching words were received by the rebels and their friends in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Richmond, Charleston, and elsewhere, with outcries of vituperation and contemptuous sneers. God had “prepared to pour
out his vials of wrath.” The tongue of an angel could not have softened those traitor hearts.
Mr. Lincoln proceeded to organize his cabinet and prepare for the trying emergencies which obviously hastened upon him, trusting, however, that some peaceable exit might be found from the difficulties which beset the Government. Meantime the fully-organized “ Confederacy” at Montgomery used every exertion to concentrate and strengthen their cause, and to make their first intended blow fatal to the Government. Their newspapers and orators were full of boasting and intimidation. They sang the triumphant songs of victory before the battle began, and gloated in imagination over the prostrate land of liberty :
“In dreams through camp and court they bore
The trophies of the conqueror.”
Abraham Lincoln and the loyal Christian people of the land labored and prayed as Americans never labored and prayed before. On the 17th of April the storm burst on Sumter, enveloping that fortress in a shower of bombs and wrapping it in consuming fire.
We have now arrived at a period in the life of Abraham Lincoln where the grandest events crowded thick and fast upon him and upon the country. To write his life as it transpired during the succeeding four years, would be to write the history of the greatest civil war ever waged upon the globe. And were such a task within the capacity of this volume, or of the writer, it would be wholly beyond the object sought in this biography. Let us trace only such incidents as more directly illustrate his character and the principles by which he was actuated.
THE CALL TO ARMS.
THE CALL TO ARMS.
HE news of the bombardment of Sumter flew on the wings of the lightning to
every hamlet and home in our broad Union, and instantly patriotic millions sprang to their feet, looking eagerly to Mr. Lincoln, and ready for his word of command. He hastily drew up his proclamation for seventy-five thousand men, a number which, in the light of later events, appears strangely inadequate to the task before them. Mr. Douglas, the life-long political antagonist of Mr. Lincoln, and the champion of this very power now in arms, could not resist the appeal. On the evening before it was issued, he visited Mr. Lincoln at his private apartments, listened to the proclamation, and gave it his hearty approval, except in the number of men called to arms, which he recom