Page images
PDF
EPUB

churches, cities, States themselves—and that fought with a fury never surpassed, he not only crushed, but extinguished in four years. A court that had been the chief bulwark of slavery, he so re-organized as to make it a citadel of liberty and light for all time to come. He found a race immured in a bondage that had lasted already two hundred years, and had only been compacted and fortified by invention and commerce, by arts, by legislation, by social usage, by ethnic theories, and even by what was called religion; he pretended to no special fondness for the race; he refused to make war in its behalf; but he took it up cheerfully in the sweep of his plans, and left it a race of free workers and soldiers. He came to the capital of an empire severed by what seemed to the world eternal lines; with sectional interests and irremovable hatreds forbidding reconstruction. He left it the capital of an empire so restored that the thought of its division is henceforth an absurdity; with its unity more complete than that of Great Britain; with its flag and its unchallenged rule supreme again from the lakes to the gulf. Nay, he found a nation that had lost in a measure its primitive faith in the grand ideas of its own Constitution; and he left that nation so instructed and renewed, so aware of the supremacy of principles over forces, so committed to the justice and the liberty which its founders had valued, that the era of his power has been the era of its new birth; that its history forever will be noble and more luminous for his inspirations.

"From the topmost achievment yet realized of man, he has stepped to the skies. He leads henceforth the hosts whom he marshalled, and who at his word went forth to battle, on plains invisible to our short sight. He stands side by side, once more, with the orator, so cultured and renowned, with whom he stood on the heights of Gettysburg; but now on hills where rise no graves, and on which march in shining ranks, with trumpet-swell and palms of triumph, immortal hosts. He is with the fathers and founders of the republic, whose cherished plans he carried out, whose faith and hope had, in his work, their great fruition. He is with all the great builders of States, who, working in earnest faith and hope, and with true conse cration, have laid the foundations of human progress and made mankind their constant debtors. The heavens are his home, but the world and its records will take care of his fame; for of all whom he meets and dwells with there, no one has held a higher trust, no one has been more loyal to it, no one has left a work behind more rich and vast; and so long as the government which he re-established shall continue to endure, so long as the continent which he made again the home of one nation, shall hold that nation within its compass and shall continue to attract to its bosom the liberty-loving from every land, so long as the people which he emancipated shall make the palmetto and the orange tree quiver with the hymns of its jubilee, so long as the race which he has set forward shall continue to advance through brightening paths to the future that waits for its swift steps, a fame as familiar as any among men, a character as distinguished and an influence as wide, will be the fame, the character, and the influence of him who came four years ago, an unknown man from his home in the West, but who has now written in letters of light on pages as grand and as splendid as any in the history of the world, the illustrious name of ABRAHAM LINCOLN."

THE END.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »