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refer to his veto of the measure, or to his proclamation, or to both. Now there is in the proclamation not one utterance or intimation that could fairly be construed into an encroachment upon the rights and the prerogatives of the legislative branch of government. That accusation, therefore, must refer to the President's refusal to make the measure effective by his signature. It seems incredible that such able and learned men should have gone before the nation making such a serious charge against the President, for in vetoing a measure of which he disapproved he was unquestionably exercising his rightful prerogative. The right of veto is as fully guaranteed to the President by the national Constitution as is the right of members of Congress to introduce, advocate and vote for measures which they desire to have enacted. No one, and least of all the President himself, for a moment questioned the right of Mr. Davis to prepare this bill and advocate its adoption, or the right of Mr. Wade to support it. And the insinuation that in preventing that objectionable measure from becoming a law, the Executive had encroached upon the rights and prerogatives of the legislative branch of government was too absurd to merit respectful consideration but for the high standing of its authors.
However, in spite of the great service which these gentlemen rendered the cause of civic righteousness, their conduct in this case should not be forgotten, but should be remembered and held up as an illustration of the utterly unreasonable extent to which great men may go when moved by passion and animosity. Viewed in the light of the almost unanimous approval which the President's reconstruction policy received when presented in his annual message it is passing strange that within six brief months so great a change had been wrought as to make possible the passage of the Davis Reconstruction Bill, and the unseemly and harmful imbroglio which plunged the government and the country into such humiliation and peril. The lowest level of this revolt was reached in the following portion of the Manifesto:
"The President by preventing this Bill from becoming a law, holds the electoral vote of the Rebel states at the dictation of his personal ambition. ... If electors for President be allowed to be chosen in either of those states a sinister light will be cast on the motives which induced the President to hold for naught the will of Congress rather than his government in Louisiana and Arkansas.'
That insinuation caused President Lincoln the most excruciating pain. It was too base to be answered and too serious to be ignored. He could only refer to it in private conversation, as he sometimes did, in terms of deep regret, but never with anger or resentment. The astonishing character of this assault upon the President appears when it is remembered that it occurred at a time when it could not possibly accomplish and good and could not fail to result in harm by adding immensely to the perils which were threatening the nation's life. Congress had adjourned and the veto of the Davis Bill was beyond recall. The President had been renominated by the national convention of his party, and his re-election was necessary to the preservation of the Union. The Confederate-favoring forces of the loyal states were all arrayed against him and were rapidly gathering into their ranks the people who were weary of the war and had been led to believe that peace by negotiation and without further bloodshed could be secured. Under this delusion multitudes of loyal people were forsaking the Union party and uniting with the opposition, and the only possible influence of the Wade-Davis Manifesto was to strengthen the opposition to the President and in like measure increase the perils of the nation.
With heart and soul, by voice and pen, I was struggling with the Union forces to aid in arresting the tide of defection from the President's supporters when that denunciatory Manifesto was published and was greeted with wild enthusiasm by the cohorts of disunion in all the loyal states. In remembrance I can feel today the pain that filled my soul when I read that Manifesto and witnessed its appalling influence upon the public mind. In common with other Union workers throughout the land I could not refrain from crying out, “Oh, why did they do it; what good could they hope to accomplish by such methods?" And that cry became nation-wide and continued during the weeks that followed. How effective for evil that Manifesto proved to be is indicated by the fact that within eighteen days after it was published the President and the leaders of his party had become convinced that his defeat in November was altogether probable. That calamity was averted by a providential intervention, an account of which appears on other pages of this book, but the mad revolt from the disasters of which we so narrowly escaped, should be remembered that we may avoid the spirit that produced it.
The extent to which great men at that period of agitation and strife were influenced by unreasoning prejudice and passion is indicated by the fact that many of our most distinguished statesmen, even after they had expressed their approval of the President's reconstruction policy, as set forth in his annual message, aligned themselves with this utterly unreasonable assault upon President Lincoln because of his faithful and conscientious discharge of his duty as Chief Executive of the nation.
In view of all this it brings warmth and gladness to the heart to read the following from Hon. James M. Ashley, which forms a fitting conclusion to this chapter:
"The first time I called at the White House, after Senator Wade and Henry Winter Davis issued their celebrated Manifesto against Mr. Lincoln, the President, as he advanced to take my hand, said: 'Ashley, I am glad to see by the papers that you refused to sign the Wade and Davis Manifesto.'
“ 'Yes, Mr. President,' I answered, 'I could not do that,' and added, for
"'Close as sin and suffering joined
We march to fate abreast.'
“It was a picture as we stood thus, my lips quivering with emotion, while tears stood on the eyes of both. On many occasions during the darkest hours of our great conflict men who were in accord were often in such close touch with each other that each could feel the pulse-beat of the other's heart.
“This incident tells its own story. Mr. Lincoln regarded both Mr. Wade and Mr. Davis as able and honest men, and he knew they were my warm personal friends. He also knew that nothing but a sense of public duty could have separated me from them. No one regretted their mistake more than I did; and, knowing my close relations to them, Mr. Lincoln did not hesitate to speak to me of their mistake in the kindest spirit.”
So fully did public sentiment come into harmony with President Lincoln that at the next and final session of this, the Thirty-ninth Congress, the Davis Reconstruction Bill, after a fiery speech in its favor by its author, was on February 21st, 1865, killed by a vote of 91 to 64.
EXTRACTS FROM AN UNPUBLISHED MANU
SCRIPT OF REV. P. D. GURLEY, D.D.
HE manuscript from which the following selections
have been taken was secured from Doctor Gurley's
daughter, Mrs. Emma K. Adams, of Washington, D. C.
One of the first things Abraham Lincoln did, upon entering the White House as President, was to select a church and take a pew for his family and himself. He decided on the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, saying in after years, “I went there because I like the pastor, Dr. Gurley, and because he preached the gospel and let politics alone. I get enough politics during the week.” The intimacy and mutual admiration which existed between the President and his pastor is well known. The Author.
One morning, as Mr. Lincoln's pastor and intimate friend, I went over to the White House in response to an invitation from the President. He had me come over before he had his breakfast. The night before we had been together and Mr. Lincoln had said: “Doctor, you rise early; so do I; come over tomorrow morning about seven o'clock. We can talk for an hour before breakfast." This I did, as before stated, and after breakfasting with Mrs. Lincoln and exchanging a few words in the hall with the President who was about to pass up to his office, I started for home. As I passed out of the gateway which leads up to the White House and stepped on the street I was joined by a member of my congregation.