Page images

Washington. Without the assistance of that divine Being who ever attended him, I can. not succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

Mr. Lincoln had invited several gentlemen to accompany him to Washington; among others, Norman B. Judd, David Davis, Edwin V. Sumner, John Pope, David Hunter, and Ward Laman.

Mr. Lincoln was very much affected as he entered the car, after saying good-bye to his friends. He was on his way to become the chief executive of a great nation. But instead of elation at the prospect before him of exercising influence and power, there was depression of spirit.

In Montgomery, Jefferson Davis was talking of carrying the sword and torch into Northern cities, of conquest, war, and devastation. In Springfield, the words of Abraham Lincoln were in the spirit of those spoken by Jesus Christ in the “ Sermon on the Mount.” His voice trembled and its tender pathos brought tears to the eyes of those who heard him.

It was natural that the people should desire to see the man who had been elected President, and the route to Washington was arranged to take in a number of the large cities—Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburg, Cleveland, and Buffalo. In each of these he spent a night and addressed great crowds of people. When the train left Cleveland, Mr. Patterson, of Westfield, was invited into Mr. Lincoln's car. “Did I understand that your home is in Westfield ?” Mr. Lincoln asked.

[graphic][merged small]

“Yes, sir; that is my home.”

"Oh, by-the-way, do you know any one living there by the name of Bedell?"

“Yes, sir, I know the family very well.”

“I have a correspondent in that family. Mr. Bedell's little girl, Grace, wrote me a very interesting letter advising me to wear whiskers, as she thought it would improve my looks. You see that I have followed her suggestion. Her letter was so unlike many that I received some that threatened assassination in case I was elected that it was really a relief to receive it and a pleasure to answer it.”

The train reached Westfield, and Mr. Lincoln stood upon the platform of the car to say a few words to the people.

“I have a little correspondent here, Grace Bedell, and if the little miss is present, I would like to see her.”

Grace was far down the platform, and the crowd prevented her seeing or hearing him.

“Grace, Grace, the President is calling for you!" they shouted.
A friend made his way with her through the crowd.
“ Here she is."

Mr. Lincoln stepped down from the car, took her by the hand, and gave her a kiss.

“You see, Grace, I have let my whiskers grow for you.”(')

The kindly smile was upon his face. The train whirled on. His heart was lighter. For one brief moment he had forgotten the burdens that were pressing him with their weight.

At Buffalo, Albany, and New York great crowds welcomed him. No boastful words fell from his lips. He gave no hint as to his course of action other than to preserve the Union and faithfully execute the trust committed to him by the people.

His speeches were disappointing. People expected he would give an outline of what he intended to do. It seems probable that he himself did not know. He had faith in God, in the people, and in himself. He would endeavor to execute the laws in accordance with the Constitution, and do the right thing at the right time.

Would he ever become President? There were rumors that the electoral vote never would be declared—that something would happen to prevent its being counted.

February 13th was the day fixed by law. Strange faces appeared

[graphic][merged small]

in Washington. The boarding houses were filling with dark - visaged men who lounged in the saloons and swaggered along the streets, who jostled Northern men into the gutter.

“That Black Republican Abolitionist never will be President,” the common remark uttered with oaths. Few Northern men at the capital doubted that there was a plan

to seize the Government. It was known that General Scott Feb. 8,

was loyal. What would he do to put down a conspiracy? Mr.

L. E. Chittenden, a member of the Peace Congress, called upon him at his headquarters in Winder's Building. He was lying on a sofa.

“A Chittenden of Vermont! Why, that was a good name when Ethan Allen took Ticonderoga! Well, Vermont must be as true to-day


as she always has been. What can the commander of the army do for Vermont?”

“Very little at present. I called to pay my personal respects. In common with many other loyal men, I am anxious about the count of the electoral vote on next Wednesday. Many fear that the vote will not be counted or the result declared."

“Pray, tell me why it will not be counted ? There have been threats, but I have heard nothing of them recently. I supposed I had suppressed that infamy. Has it been resuscitated? I have said that any man who attempted by force or parliamentary disorder to obstruct or interfere with the lawful count of the electoral vote for President and Vice-president of the United States should be lashed to the muzzle of a 12-pounder and fired out of a window of the Capitol. I would manure the hills of Arlington with fragments of his body were he a Senator or chief magistrate of my native State! It is my duty to suppress insurrection--my duty !!" ()

The ruffianly-looking men who had frequented the bar-rooms when they reached the Capitol on the morning of February 13th found they

could not gain admittance to the building without a ticket. SolFeb 13, diers of the United States in their blue uniforms guarded every

entrance. The tickets were signed either by the Vice-president, John C. Breckinridge, or by the Speaker of the House, and they had been issued so sparingly that the galleries of the representatives’ chamber and the corridors were not crowded. The members of the Peace Conference in session at Willard's Hall were admitted by a vote of both Houses of Congress, but Senators and representatives could not admit their friends except by authority of the presiding officers. Ruffians might shake their fists at the soldiers and use vile language, but neither by bribe or threat could they enter the Capitol. No soldiers were to be seen except those that were guarding the doors. Within the Capitol were several hundred men, who entered as citizens, but who, upon a preconcerted signal, would be transformed into soldiers armed with rifles.

The hour for the Senate and House to meet in convention arrives, and the Senators enter the hall. Mr. Breckinridge occupies the chair as presiding officer. For four years he has been Vice-president of the United States, sworn to obey the laws. He has been loyal to the Constitution. He has too high a sense of obligation to countenance any plan for a seizure of the Government, or to obstruct the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. His voice is clear and distinct: “It is my duty


to open the certificates of election in the presence of the two Houses, and I now proceed to the performance of that duty.”

Another voice breaks in: “I rise to a point of order. Is the count to proceed under menace? Shall the count be made under menace? Shall members be required to perform constitutional duty before the janizaries of Scott are withdrawn from the hall ?”

“ The point of order is not sustained,” the calm reply of Breckinridge as he hands the certificate of Maine to Senator Trumbull, who reads it. There is no other interruption. The last certificate is read,

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »