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ONE night in July, 1863, during the rejoicing over the victory at Vicksburg, some paraders stopped in front of Seward's house, serenaded him, and called for a speech. His impromptu response displayed patriotic fervor and sentimental egotism, but it also truly represented his recent aims and his hopes for the future:

"When I saw a commotion upheaving in the state, I thought it consistent with the duty of a patriot and a Christian to avert the civil war if it was possible, and I tried to do so. If this was a weakness, I found what seemed an instruction excusing it in the prayer of our Savior that the cup, the full bitterness of which was understood by himself alone, might pass. But I found, also, an instruction in regard to my duty in his resignation: Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.' When it was clear that without fault on your part or mine the civil war was inevitable, I then thought it consistent with the duty of a patriot and a Christian to take care that the war should be begun not by the friends of the Union, but by its enemies, so that in maintaining the Union we should not only maintain the cause of our country, but should be maintaining it in righteous self-defence."


"I thought, further, that it was consistent with my duty as a patriot and a Christian to do what was in my power to render the war as light in its calamities and as short in its duration as possible. Therefore, I proposed to retain on the side of the loyal states as many of the states which were disturbed by elements of sedition as could be retained by a course of calm and judicious conduct. I would have had, if possible, the insurrection confined to

the seven original so-called seceding states. When all these conditions had been secured, so far as was possible to secure them, I thought still further that it was consistent with my duty as a patriot and a Christian to combine the loyal states and consolidate them into one party for the Union, because I knew that disunion had effectually combined the people of the disloyal states to overthrow the Union."

"Once engaged in the contest, I was prepared to demand, as I have demanded ever since, that no treasure, no amount of human life necessary to save the nation's life, should be withheld. I thought that the war might be ended in three months-in six months-in a year-and I labored to that end. . . . We failed to make that exhibition [of zeal, determination, and consistency], and so the war has been protracted into its third year."

"But we have reached, I think, the culminating point at last; we have ascertained the amount of sacrifice which is necessary to save the Union, and the country is prepared to make it.'

"The Union is to be saved, after all, only by human efforts by the efforts of the people."

"You must be prepared to do more. If the capital must fall before it can be saved, which I have always thought unnecessary, and which now seems impossible, even in that case, let us be buried amid its ruins. For myself, this is my resolution. If the people of the United States have virtue enough to save the Union, I shall have their virtue. If they have not, then it shall be my reward that my virtue excelled that of my countrymen.'


The administration decided early in July, 1863, to issue a proclamation calling for a day of thanksgiving for the great military successes that had been achieved. Its preparation was given to Seward, who sat himself down, as he wrote to his wife, "to compose a presidential call upon the people for thanksgiving, prayer, and praise to our Heavenly Father. I think you must have read in it and under it what I think and how I feel.'


15 Works, 485-88.

23 Seward, 176. He referred to Lincoln's proclamation of July 17, 1863.



Shortly after the battle of Gettysburg it had been decided to secure a part of the battle-field for a cemetery, where the bodies of the fallen combatants might be brought together in fraternal burial. In November, 1863, the cemetery was ready for dedication. Edward Everett was the orator of the day. The President, the Secretary of State, and others formed a special party from Washington. On the evening of November 18, 1863, not long after their arrival, they were serenaded, and Seward responded to a call for a speech. He was upward of sixty years of age, he said, and had been in public life practically forty years, and this was the first time the people so near the border of Maryland had been willing to hear his voice. The reason was, he continued, that forty years before he saw that slavery was opening a graveyard that was to be filled with brothers falling in strife. During all this period he had tried to have the cause removed by constitutional means. He thanked God that the people were willing to hear him at last, and that the strife was to end in the destruction of an evil that should have been removed by deliberate councils and peaceful means. He believed that thereafter we should

"be united, be only one country, having only one hope, one ambition, and one destiny.

"To-morrow, at least, we shall feel that we are not enemies, but that we are friends and brothers, that this Union is a reality, and we shall mourn together for the evil wrought by this rebellion. We are now near the graves of the misguided, whom we have consigned to their last resting-place, with pity for their errors, and with the same heart full of grief with which we mourn over a brother by whose hand, raised in defence of his government, that misguided brother perished."

It was on the morrow-after Everett's long and brill

15 Works, 490.

iant oration—that Lincoln uttered what is probably the briefest and most perfect patriot-speech in any language. Its impressiveness was in its impersonality and in the modesty that recognized the occasion as one on which the living should "be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced."

One of the wisest decisions of Seward's life was made near the end of 1861. It was to relinquish all aspirations for the presidency. But it was not so easy for his political friends to surrender their hopes. In December, 1861, some of them in Philadelphia organized a “William H. Seward Club" for the purpose of making him Lincoln's successor. When they informed Seward of the fact he pronounced the proceeding "altogether unwise," "a partisan movement, and, worst of all, a partisan movement of a personal character"; and he insisted that his name should be dropped "henceforth and forever." No evidence has been found to indicate that


"If, when the present civil war was looming up before us," he wrote, "I had cherished an ambition to attain the high position you have indicated, I should have adopted one of two courses which lay open to me-namely, either to withdraw from the public service at home to a position of honor without great responsibility abroad, or to retire to private life, and, avoiding the caprices of fortune, await the chances of public favor.

"But I deliberately took another course. I renounced all ambition, and came into the executive government to aid in saving the Constitution and integrity of my country or to perish with them. I knew that I must necessarily renounce all expectation of future personal advantage, in order that the counsels I might give to the President in such a crisis should not only be, but be recognized as being, disinterested, loyal, and patriotic.


Acting on this principle, I shun no danger and shrink from no responsibilities. So I neither look for, nor, if it should be offered to me, would I ever hereafter accept, any reward."

"I could never consent to be a President of a division of the Republic. I cheerfully give up any aspiration for rule in the whole

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the Secretary ever thought of reconsidering the decision here announced and soon made public.' In the summer of 1863 John Bigelow wrote an article for a Paris newspaper, suggesting Seward's candidacy in 1864. He then sent a copy to the Secretary, and at the same time expressed a desire to resign. Seward's jocose and unofficial answer of July 21, 1863, said:

"MY DEAR BIGELOW,-I have just received your letter of the 3d inst., and I am glad that you remain in the consulate. I suppose that I can imagine the reason why you desire to resign, and, if I do, I am the more convinced that you ought to stay at your post.

"I shall certainly report your violation of your instructions, by your article in the Opinion Nationale, to the President, though I will mercifully withhold the deserved punishment. Some good but impatient friends, as you see, are bringing his name forward for re-election. It will show you how just and generous he is in that he is able to overlook your crime of putting me in his way, and I think that he will only be the more decided in his conviction that you must stay where you are. As for me, I am bent upon leading the way for whosoever may follow in restoring peace and Union in our unhappy country, by withdrawing all the provocations to anger that are associated with my name.

The military victories of the summer of 1863 were a promise of political victories in the autumn. What Seward said in a speech in Auburn, just before the election, was the most positive evidence that he cherished no ambition beyond his present position as Secretary of

Republic as a contribution to the efforts necessary to maintain it in its integrity. I not only ask but peremptorily require my friends, in whose behalf you have written to me, to drop my name, henceforth and forever, from among those to whom they look as possible candidates."-3 Seward, 50. Welles erroneously asserted that this position was not taken until after the Cabinet crisis of December, 1862.—Lincoln and Seward, 84, 85.

1 New York Herald, March 4, 1862.

2 Bigelow MSS. 3 Seward, 196, gives a report of a conversation on this subject, in 1863, between Lincoln and Seward.

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