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Lincoln Arguing against the Emancipation Proclamation that he may learn all About it,
When Lincoln's judgment, which acted slowly, but which was almost as immovable as the eternal hills when settled, was grasping some subject of importance, the arguments against his own desires seemed uppermest in his mind, and, in conversing upon it, he would present those arguments to see if they could be rebutted.
This is illustrated by the interview between himself and the Chicago delegation of clergymen, appointed to urge upon him the issue of a Proclamation of Emancipation, which occurred September 13, 1862, more than a month after he had declared to the Cabinet his established purpose to take this step.
He said to this committee:
"I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope's bull against the comet!"
After drawing out their views upon the subject, he concluded the interview with these memorable words:
"Do not misunderstand me, because I have mentioned these objections. They indicate the difficulties which have thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God's will, I will do! I trust that, in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views, I have not in any respect injured your feelings."
Mr. Lincoln's Laugh.
Mr. Lincoln's "laugh" stood by itself.
The neigh of
a wild horse on his native prairie is not more undisguised and hearty. A group of gentlemen, among whom was his old Springfield friend and associate, Hon. Isaac N. Arnold, were one day conversing in the passage near his office, while awaiting admission. A congressional delegation had proceded them, and presently an unmistakable voice was heard through the partition, in a burst of mirth. Mr. Arnold remarked, as the sound died away: "That laugh has been the President's lifepreserver!"
Lincoln and the Newspapers.
On a certain occasion, the President was induced by a committee of gentlemen to examine a newly-invented "repeating" gun, the peculiarity of which was, that it prevented the escape of gas. After due inspection, he said: "Well, I believe this really does what it is represented to do. Now, have any of you heard of any machine or invention for preventing the escape of 'gas' from newspaper establishments?"
Lincoln's Bull-frog Story.
Violent criticism, attacks and denunciations, coming either from radicals or conservatives, rarely ruffled the President, if they reached his ears. It must have been in connection with something of this kind, that he once told a friend this story:
"Some years ago," said he, "a couple of emigrants, fresh from the Emerald Isle, seeking labor, were making their way toward the West. Coming suddenly one evening upon a pond of water, they were greeted with a grand chorus of frogs—a kind of music they had never before heard. 'B-a-u-m! B-a-u-m!'
"Overcome with terror, they clutched their 'shilleluhs,' and crept cautiously forward, straining their eyes in every direction to catch a glimpse of the enemy; but he was not to be found!
"At last a happy idea seized the foremost one-he sprang to his companion and exclaimed, 'And sure, Jamie! it is my opinion it is nothing but a noise!'"
Lincoln's Story of a Poodle Dog.
A friend who was walking over from the White House to the War Department with Mr. Lincoln, repeated to him the story of a "contraband" who had fallen into the hands of some good, pious people, and was being taught by them to read and pray.
Going off by himself one day, he was overheard to commence a prayer by the introduction of himself as "Jim Williams-a berry good nigga' to wash windows; 'spec's you know me now?"
After a hearty laugh at what he called this "direct way of putting the case," Mr. Lincoln said:
'The story that suggests to me, has no resemblance to it, save in the 'washing windows' part. A lady in Philadelphia had a pet poodle dog, which mysterionsly disappeared. Rewards were offered for him, and a great ado
made without efiect. Some weeks passed, and all hope of the favorite's return had been given up, when a servant brought him in one day in the filthiest condition imaginable. The lady was overjoyed to see her pet again, but horriffed at his appearance.
"Where did you find him!" she exclaimed.
“Oh,” replied the man, very unconcernedly, "a negro down the street had him tied to the end of a pole, swabbing windows."
Lincoln's Speech to the Union League.
The day following the adjournment at Baltimore, various political organizations call to pay their respects to the President. First came the convention committee, embracing one from each state represented-appointed to announce to him, formally, the nomination. Next came the Ohio delegation, with Mentor's band, of Cincinnati. Following these were the representatives of the National Union League, to whom he said, in conclud:ng his brief response:
"I do not allow myself to suppose that either the convention or the League have concluded to decide that I am either the greatest or the best man in America; but, rather they have concluded that it is not best to swap horses while crossing the river, and have further concluded that I am not so poor a horse, but that they might make a botch of it intrying to swap!"
Ejecting a Cashiered Officer frum the White
Among the callers at the White House one day was an officer who had been cashiered from the service. He had prepared an elaborate defence of himself, which he consumed much time in reading to the President. When he had finished, Mr. Lincoln replied, that even upon his own statement of the case. the facts would not warrant executive interference. Disappointed and considerably crest
fallen, the man withdrew.
A few days afterwards he made a second attempt to alter the President's convictions, going over substantially the same ground, and occupying about the same space of time, but without accomplishing his end.
The third time he succeeded in forcing himself into Mr. Lincoln's presence, who with great forbearance listened to another repetition of the case to its conclusion, but made no reply. Waiting for a moment, the man gathered from the expression of his countenance that his mind was unconvinced. Turning very abruptly, he said:
"Well, Mr. President, I see you are fully determined not to do me justice."
This was too aggravating, even for Mr. Lincoln. Manifesting, however, no more feeling than that indicated by a slight compression of the lips, he very quietly arose, laid down a package of papers he held in his hand, and then suddenly seizing the defunct officer by the coat-collar, he marched him forcibly to the door, saying, as he ejected him into the passage:
"Sir, I give you fair warning never to show yourself in this room again. I can bear censure, but not insult!"