Page images

A few days later, May 30th, 1864, in a letter to Senator Doolittle and others, from which I have quoted elsewhere, Mr. Lincoln stated: “When brought to my final reckoning may I have to answer for robbing no man of his goods, yet more tolerable even this, than for robbing one of himself and all that

was his."29

Speaking of a pardon which he had just issued to a soldier under sentence of death, he said: “I could not think of going into eternity with the blood of the poor young man on my


In their great contribution to the literature of the world, entitled, “Abraham Lincoln, A History,” the private secretaries of the great President speak of his sense of responsibility to God and belief in a future judgment in the following chaste and forceful language: “From that morning when, standing amid the falling snowflakes on the railway car at Springfield, he asked the prayers of his neighbors in those touching phrases whose echo rose that night in invocations from thousands of family altars, to the memorable hour when on the steps of the National Capitol he humbled himself before his Creator in the sublime words of the second inaugural, there is not an expression known to have come from his lips or pen but proves that he held himself answerable in every act of his career to a more august tribunal than any on earth. The fact that he was not a communicant of any church, and that he was singularly reserved in regard to his personal religious life, gives only the greater force to these striking proofs of his profound reverence and faith.”

Mr. Lincoln's religious faith unquestionably included belief in

FUTURE PUNISHMENT With him character and destiny were inseparably connected. The reward of virtue and the punishment of sin were sure. This life was the seed time of which the life to come was

29 Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. X., pp. 109-110. 80 D. D. Thompson, Abraham Lincoln, p. 83.

the harvest. He speaks of the "finally impenitent” clearly indicating his belief in the duration of moral conditions beyond the confines of this present world. Early in his public life, when a member of the Illinois legislature, during a tremendous struggle to secure the removal of the capital of the state from Salem to Springfield, Mr. Lincoln was greatly disturbed by efforts to couple with that movement, which he approved, other measures to which he was unchangeably opposed. While that struggle was in progress a caucus was held for the purpose of dissuading Mr. Lincoln from his determination to oppose the capital removal measure unless it was disassociated from the schemes to which he objected. Mr. Lincoln remained unyielding and past the hour of midnight he arose in the caucus and made what has been characterized as a speech of great eloquence and power in opposition to the movement as it then stood, at the close of which he said: "You may burn my body to ashes, and scatter them to the winds of heaven; you may drag my soul down to the regions of darkness and despair to be tormented forever; but you will never get me to support a measure which I believe to be wrong, although by doing so I may accomplish that which I believe to be right."31

In a letter to George Robertson dated August 15th, 1855, Mr. Lincoln expresses great depression of spirits, in view of what he regarded as the tendency in the direction of the perpetuation and nationalization of the institution of slavery. In this letter he says: "So far as peaceable voluntary Emancipation is concerned, the condition of the Negro slave in America, scarcely less terrible to the contemplation of a free man, is now as fixed and hopeless of change for the better, as that of the lost souls of the finally impenitent.

In granting a respite for Nathaniel Gordon, to whom he could not see his way clear to give a pardon, on February 4th, 1862, Mr. Lincoln said: "In granting this respite it becomes my painful duty to admonish the prisoner that, relinquishing

[ocr errors]

31 Ida M. Tarbell, Life of Lincoln, Vol. I., p. 139. 32 Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. II., p. 280.

GEN. JAMES 7. RUSLING, of Trenton, N.J., rolates a significant conversation which he heard on Sunday, July 5, 1863, in the room in Washington where Gen. Siokles lay wounded, Just aftor the great victory at Gettysburg. In reply to a question from Gen.

Sickles whether or not the President was anxious about the battle

at Gettysburg, Lincoln gravely said, "No, I was not; some of my cabinet and many others in Washington were, but I had no fears." Gen. Sicklos inquired how this was, and seemed curious about it. Hr. Lincoln hesitated, but finally roplied: "Well, I will tell you how it wa8. In the pinch of your campaign up there, when overybody seenod panic-stricken, and nobody could tell what was going to happen, oppressed by the gravity of our affairs, I went to my room one day, and locked the door, and got down on my knees botore Almighty God, and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg. I told him that this was his war, and our capse Hio danse, but we couldn't stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellors

llo. And I then and there made a solemn vow to Almighty God, that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg. I would stand by Him. And He aid stand by you boys, and I will stand by Him. And after that (I don't know how it was, and I can't explain it), soon a sweet comfort oropt into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands and that things would 80 all right at Gettysburg. And that is why I had no foars about you."

Asked concerning Vicksburg, the news of which victory had not yet reached him, he said, "I have been praying for Vicksburg also, and believe our Heavenly Father is going to give us victory there, too." of course, he did not know that Vicksburg had already surrendered the day before. Gen. Rubling says that yr. Lincoln spoke "solemnly and pathetically, as if from the depth of his heart," and that his manner was deeply touching.


I hereby certify that the foregoing 18 an account prepared by me of a conversation between President Lincoln and Gen, Sickles in my presence at Washington, D.C., July 5, 1863, relating to Gettysburg That statement was prepared with great care and lo absolutely correct in every particular.



fronton, N.J. Jane 24, 1914.

But, bei dene u Vi taha

« PreviousContinue »