« PreviousContinue »
President goes to the Front.
Capture of Petersburg.
and sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
"By the President:
"W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
President Visits City Point-Lee's Failure-Grant's Movement-Abraham Lincoln in Richmond-Lee's Surrender-President's Impromptu Speech-Speech on Reconstruction-Proclamation Closing Certain Ports-Proclamation Relative to Maritime RightsSupplementary Proclamation-Orders from the War Department-The Traitor President.
On the afternoon of the 23d of March, 1865, the President, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln, his youngest son, and a few invited guests, left Washington for an excursion to City Point. The trip was taken under advice of his medical attendant, his health having become somewhat impaired by his unremitting attention to the pressing duties of his office.
A desperate attempt had been made by Lee to break through the lines surrounding him. Assaulting our right centre, he had been repulsed with a severe loss.
Shortly after, Grant determined that the moment had arrived for his advance. A movement was ordered along the entire line-Petersburg fell-Richmond was abandoned in hot haste-and Lee's routed army "driven to the wall."
During the progress of the movement, the President forwarded, from time to time, the particulars-pressed on to the evacuated Capital-entered it, conspicuous amid the sweeping mass of men, women, and children, black, white, and yellow, running, shouting, dancing, swinging their caps, bonnets, and handkerchiefs-passed on to the deserted mansion of the rebel chief, cheer upon cheer going up from the
Sherman in Motion.
excited multitude-there held a levee-left the same evening for City Point-and soon afterward returned to Washington.
Lee, hemmed in on every side, soon after surrendered; the terms of capitulation, which were dictated by the magnanimous President, and dated Appomattox Court House, April ninth, 1865, being as follows:
"GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE, ARMY C. S. :-In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate, one copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate, the officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander to sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their parole and the laws in force where they may reside.
"U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General." Johnston was next in order; and toward him Sherman was in motion.
The night following the President's arrival in Washington, the workmen of the Navy-yard formed in procession, marched to the White House, in front of which thousands were assembled, bands playing, and the entire throng alive with ex
Repeated calls having been made for him, he appeared at
President's Impromptu Speech.
the window, on the entrance door, calm amid the tumult, and was greeted with cheers and waving of hats.
Comparative silence having been secured, he said:
"MY FRIENDS :-I am very greatly rejoiced that an occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people can't restrain themselves. I suppose that arrangements are being made for some sort of formal demonstration—perhaps this evening or to-morrow night. If there should be such a demonstration, I, of course, will have to respond to it; and I will have nothing to say if you dribble it out of me.
"I see you have a band. I propose now closing up by requesting you to play a certain, piece of music, or a tuneI thought 'Dixie' one of the best tunes I ever heard.
'I had heard that our adversaries over the way had attempted to appropriate it. I insisted yesterday we had fairly captured it! I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his opinion that it is our lawful prize. I ask the band to give us a good turn upon it."
The band accordingly played "Dixie," with extraordinary vigor, when "three cheers and a tiger" were given, followed by the tune of "Yankee Doodle." The President then proposed three rousing cheers for Grant and all under his command-and next, three cheers for the Navy and all its forces.
The President then retired, amid cheers, the tune of "Hail Columbia," and the firing of cannon.
On the night of the eleventh of April, the Executive Departments, including the President's House, as also many places of business and private residences, were illuminated, and adorned with transparencies and national flags; bon-fires plazed in various parts of the city; and rockets were fired.
In response to the unanimous call of the thousands of both sexes who surrounded the Executive Mansion, Mr. Lincoln appeared at an upper window, and when the cheering
President's Last Public Speech.
with which he was greeted had subsided, spoke as follows in his last public speech:
"FELLOW-CITIZENS :-We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace, whose joyous expression cannot be restrained.
"In the midst of this, however, He, from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a National Thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated.
"Nor must those, whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing, be overlooked-and their honors must not be parcelled out. With others I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you, but no part of the honor, or praise, or execution, is mine. To General Grant, his skilful officers and brave men, all belongs. The gallant Navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take an active part. By these recent successes the reinauguration of the national authority, and the reconstruction, which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention.
"It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike the case of a war between independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with. No one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with and mould from disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment, that we, the loyal people, differ amongst ourselves as to the mode, manner, and measure of reconstruction.
"As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly offer an answer; for, spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am
Last Public Speech.
much censured from some supposed agency in setting up and seeking to sustain the new State Government of Louisiana. In this I have done just so much and no more than the public knows. In the annual Message of December, 1863, and the accompanying Proclamation, I presented a plan of reconstruction, as the phrase goes, which I promised, if adopted by any State, should be acceptable to and sustained by the Executive Government of the nation.
Difficulties of Reconstruction.
"I distinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable; and I also distinctly protested that the Executive claimed no right to say when or whether members should be admitted to seats in Congress from such States. This plan was in advance submitted to the then Cabinet, and as distinctly approved by every member of it. "One of them suggested that I should then, and in that connection, apply the Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship for freed people; and that I should omit the protest against my own power in regard to the admission of members of Congress; but even he approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of Louisiana. The new Constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole State, particularly applies the proclamation to the part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed people, and it is silent-as it could not well be otherwise about the admission of members to Congress; so that, as it applies to Louisiana, every member of the Cabinet fully approved the plan.
"The message went to Congress, and I received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal, and not a single objection to it by any professed emancipationist came to my knowledge until after the news reached Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move in accordance with it From about July, 1862, I had corresponded with