« AnteriorContinuar »
different aspect. That on this contract, involving from one million to twelve hundred thousand dollars, the contractors should attempt a fraud which at the most could profit them only one or two hundred, or even one thousand dollars, is to my mind beyond the power of rational belief.
That they did not, in such a case, strike for greater gains proves that they did not, with guilty or fraudulent intent, strike at all. The judgment and sentence are disapproved and declared null, and the accused ordered to be discharged.
"A. LIncoLN. "March 18, 1865."
Then followed an incident as original as anything in the life of Henry the Fourth, of France, or of a Lacedæmonian king. As Mr. Sumner was making an abstract of the indorsement for communication by telegraph to the anxious parties, the President broke into quotation from Petroleum V. Nasby, and, seeing that his visitor was less at home than himself in this patriotic literature, he said, “I must initiate you,” and then repeated with enthusiasm the message he had sent to the author : “For the genius to write these things I would gladly give up my office.” Then rising and turning to a standing-desk behind, he opened it and took out a pamphlet collection of the letters already published, which he proceeded to read aloud, evidently enjoy. ing it much. For the time he seemed to forget the case he had just decided, and Presidential duties. This continued more than twenty minutes, when Mr. Sumner, thinking there must be many at the door waiting to see the President on graver matters, took advantage of a pause, and, thanking him for the lesson of the morning, left. Some thirty persons, including Senators and Representatives, were in the anteroom as he passed out.1
Though with the President much during the intervening days before his death, this was the last business Mr. Sumner transacted with him.
1 This incident is related by Mr. Sumper in his Introduction to the Boston edition of the Na by Letters, in 1872.
RESPECT FOR THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM
RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT A MEETING OF SENATORS AND REPRESENT
ATIVES, APRIL 17, 1865.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN breathed his last on the morning of Saturday, April 15th. Congress not being in session, there was a meeting of Senators and Representatives then in Washington, April 17th, at noon, when Hon. Lafayette S. Foster, President pro tempore of the Senate, was called to the Chair, and Hon. Schuyler Colfax was chosen Secretary. Senator Foot, of Vermont, stated the object of the meeting. On motion of Mr. Sumner, a Committee of five from each House was ordered to report at four o'clock, P. M., on the action proper for the meeting. The Chair appointed Mr. Sumner, Mr. Harris, of New York, Mr. Rev. erdy Johnson, of Maryland, Mr. Ramsey, of Minnesota, and Mr. Conness, of California, on the part of the Senate, also Mr. Washburne, of Illinois, Mr. Smith, of Kentucky, Mr. Schenck, of Ohio, Mr. Pike, of Maine, and Mr. Coffroth, of Pennsylvania, on the part of the House of Representatives. On motion of Mr. Schenck, the Chairman and Secretary of the meeting were added to the Committee.
The Committee reported a list of pall-bearers for the funeral, and also a Congressional Committee of one from each State to accompany the remains of the late President to Illinois, which were adopted by the meeting.
They also reported the following resolution, drawn by Mr. Sumner, which was unanimously agreed to.
THE members of the Senate and House of Repre
sentatives now assembled in Washington, humbly confessing their dependence upon Almighty God, who rules all that is done for human good, make haste, at
this informal meeting, to express the emotions with which they have been filled by the appalling tragedy that has deprived the nation of its head and covered the land with mourning, and, in further declaration of their sentiments, resolve unanimously,
1. That, in testimony of their veneration and affection for the illustrious dead, who has been permitted, under Providence, to do so much for his country and for Liberty, they will unite in the funeral services, and by an appropriate committee will accompany his remains to their place of burial in the State from which he was taken for the national service.
2. That in the life of Abraham Lincoln, who, by the benignant favor of republican institutions, rose from humble beginnings to the height of power and fame, they recognize an example of purity, simplicity, and virtue which should be a lesson to mankind; while in his death they acknowledge a martyr whose memory will become more precious as men learn to prize those principles of constitutional order, and those rights, civil, political, and human, for which he was made a sacrifice.
3. That they invite the President of the United States, by solemn proclamation, to recommend that the people of the United States should assemble on a day appointed by him, in public testimony of their grief, and to dwell on the good that has been done on earth by him we now mourn.
4. That a copy of these resolutions be communicated to the President of the United States, and also to the afllicted widow of the late President, as an expression of sympathy in her great bereavement.
RIGHT AND DUTY OF COLORED FELLOW-CITIZENS
IN THE ORGANIZATION OF GOVERNMENT.
LETTER TO COLORED CITIZENS OF North Carolina, May 13, 1865.
The letter to Mr. Sumner by colored citizens is the first public expression of their interest in the suffrage. The answer was according to the sentiments Mr. Sumner had early declared.
WILMINGTON, N. C., April 29, 1865. Hon. CHARLES SUMNER, Washington.
Dear Sir, – We, the undersigned citizens, Executive Board of the Colored Union Leagues of this city, respectfully ask your attention to the subject of Reconstruction in this State, and for a few plain directions in relation to a proper stand for us to make.
We forward also a copy of the Herald, containing an article on Reconstruction, which causes us much anxiety, in connection with other facts that are constantly pressed upon our attention in this Rebel State, although much is said concerning its loyalty that is unreliable and untrue. Many of us have done service for the United States Government, at Fort Fisher and elsewhere, and we shrink with horror at the thought that we may be left to the tender mercies of our former Rebel masters, who have taken the oath, but are filled with malice, and swear vengeance against us as soon : as the military are withdrawn.
We are loyal colored citizens, and strive in all things so to conduct ourselves that no just cause of complaint mav exist, although we suffer much from the unwillingness of the Secessionists to regard us as freemen, and look up to the flag of our country with trembling anxiety, knowing that the .franchise alone can give us security for the future.
We speak with moderation and care, we lay no charges, but we fear that an ill-judged lenity to Rebels in this State will leave little to us and our children but the bare name of freedmen. We remember Louisiana! Better "smash the egg" than permit it to produce a viper.
We beg an early answer. Direct, simply, “ Alfred Howe, Wilmington, North Carolina." Do not frank your letter: I send a stamp. For reference,
Jonathan C. Gibbs mentions the name of Rev. H. H. Garnett, a colored Presbyterian minister in Washington, and Hon. Judge Kelley, from Pennsylvania.
ALFRED Howe, President.
WASHINGTON, May 13, 1865. ENTLEMEN, — I am glad that the colored citi
zens of North Carolina are ready to take part in the organization of government. It is unquestionably their right and duty.
I see little chance of peace or tranquillity in any Rebel State, unless the rights of all are recognized without distinction of color. On this foundation we must build. The article on Reconstruction to which
which you call my attention proceeds on the idea, born of Slavery, that persons with a white skin are the only “citizens.” This is a mistake.
do me the honor to ask me the proper stand for you to make, I have no hesitation in replying that you must insist on all the rights and privileges of a citizen. They belong to you. They are yours; and whoever undertakes to rob you of them is a usurper and impostor.
Of course you will take part in any primary meetings for political organization, open to citizens generally, and will not miss any opportunity to show your loyalty and fidelity. Accept my best wishes, and believe me, Gentlemen,