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Q.-You are sure these are the words?
Q.-State whether or not, in a day or two afterward, Jefferson Davis, John C. Breckinridge, and others, were present in your house in Charlotte ?
Q.-And the assassination of the President was the subject of conversation ?
A.--A day or two afterward that was the subject of their conversation.
Q.-Can you remember what John C. Breckinridge said ?
A.-In speaking of the assassination of President Lincoln, he remarked to Davis that he regretted it very much ; that it was unfortunate for the people of the South at that time. Davis replied: “Well, General, I don't know; if it were to be done at all, it were better it were well done ; and if the same were done to Andrew Johnson, the beast, and to Secretary Stanton, the job would then be complete.”
Q.-You feel confident that you recollect the words ?
The expedient of assassinating Mr. Lincoln had long been a favorite one, beyond doubt, with many of the Southern traitors. It was no less unlawful, they might naturally reason, than levying war against the Government. That it was less manly, that it was infamous in the eyes of all nations, weighed little with many who had so long brazenly defied the sentiment of the civilized world. Mr. Lincoln, during the canvass of 1860, received letters threatening his life-in themselves of no consequence, but showing how easily Rebel notions even then took such a direction, and might sooner or later mature into act. It can not reasonably be doubted that there was a definite plan for assassinating Mr. Lincoln at Baltimore, in February, 1861. Northern Copperheads and Southern traitors kept the propensity alive by constant denunciations of the President as a tyrant, and by historic allusions, hightened in effect by poetic citations in praise of tyrannicide. These doctrines were fostered by the Copperhead secret orders undoubtedly in affiliation with Thompson, Clay and Tucker, and receiving from them pecuniary aid. This spirit was rampant at the Chicago Democratic National Convention, as shown in previous pages, and during the subsequent canvass. All these ideas apparently originated in the South, and were propagated from thence. It was under such training that the assassin was prepared for the conception, and nerved to the execution of his monstrous crime.
When the youthful Col. Dahlgren fell a victim to Southern hate, in Kilpatrick's unsuccessful raid for the rescue of pris. öners at Richmond, on the 4th of March, 1864, there was pretended to have been found on Dahlgren's person an order in his name, directing that the city be destroyed," and Jeff. Davis ånd Cabinet killed.” This "order," of which much was made in the Rebel States and abroad, has been satisfactorily shown to be a forgery, and it now but serves to reveal the dark under. current in the Southern mind, setting in the direction of a crime ultimately consummated.
There is positive proof, developed on the trial of the assassination conspirators, that, at the time of this raid of Kilpatrick, preparations were made for a wholesale massacre of several thousand Union prisoners, in case he had taken the city, by means of mines filled with gunpowder under the Libby prison. This fact has been officially conceded and justified in the report of a Rebel committee, which has recently come to light.
A lawyer of Alabama, named Gayle, perhaps quite as respectable as “philanthropist” Blackburn, published a notice (the authorship and genuineness of which are proved), on the 1st of December, 1864, in the Selma Dispatch, in these words :
ONE MILLION DOLLARS WANTED TO HAVE PEACE BY THE 1ST OF MARCH. If the citizens of the Southern Confederacy will furnish me with the cash, or good securities, for the sum of one million dollars, I will cause the lives of Abraham Lincoln, William H. Seward and Andrew Johnson to be taken by the 1st of March next. This will give us peace, and satisfy the world that cruel tyrants can not live in a “ land of libert;." If this is not accomplished, nothing will be claimed beyond the sum of fifty thousand dollars, in advance, which is supposed to be necessary to reach and slaughter the three villains.
I will give, myself, one thousand dollars toward this patriotie purpose. Every one wishing to contribute will address Box X, Cababa, Alabama.
DECEMBER 1, 1864.
During the same winter there were intimations in Southern quarters, and in sympathetic circles abroad, as indicated through the public prints, that some great event was about to happen, which would startle the world. The spirit of assassination had been carefully nursed. The crime itself had been repeatedly meditated and plotted. This fact was known to Davis. Men in his " confidential employment,” constantly at work, with his knowledge, on schemes the most infamous, were instigating and aiding the crime of Booth. Davis knew this crime to be intended, gave it his sanction, and rejoiced with no regret except that the plot was not more completely carried into effect. The assassination was not the mere freak of a madcap or fanatic. It was the natural outgrowth of the spirit which led the Rebellion, and which advanced on the same line to the vilest works of desperation. The barbarous oligarch and upstart autocrat who had deliberately starved thousands of Union prisoners, could have no compunction at seeing a chosen emissary stealthily murder the ruler to whose authority he must otherwise soon be forced to succumb.
Never, perhaps, has the death of any man called forth so many expressions of sorrow and respect, or inspired so many exalted tributes from orators, poets and authors, as well as from the people of every class. In British America, the shock seemed almost as universal as in the States. From all parts of Great Britain, from Germany, France, Italy, and the countries beyond, as from the diplomatic representatives of all nations at the National Capital, have come unaffected utterances of sympathy and high recognitions of the goodness and greatness of the departed. Letters of condolence were addressed to Mrs. Lincoln by Queen Victoria and the Empress Eugenie, with their own hands. Numerous public bodies and popular meetings-parliaments, associations, and gatherings of the people--throughout Europe as well as this country, have sent similar tokens. From the multitude of the higher tributes to the character of Mr. Lincoln, only a few brief extracts can be given here.
In the course of his oration, delivered in New York on the
occasion of Mr. Lincoln's death, our great historian, George Bancroft, said:
Those who come after us will decide how much of the won. derful results of his public career is due to his own good common sense, his shrewd sagacity, readiness of wit, quick inter, pretation of the public mind, his rare combination of fixedness and pliancy, his steady tendency of purpose; how much to the American people, who, as he walked with them side by side, inspired him with their own wisdom and energy; and how much to the overruling laws of the moral world, by which the selfishness of evil is made to defeat itself. But after every allowance, it will remain that members of the government which preceded his administration opened the gates of treason, and he closed them; that when he went to Washington the ground on which he trod shook under his feet, and he left the republic on a solid foundation ; that traitors had seized public forts and arsenals, and he recovered them for the United States, to whom they belonged ; that the capital, which he found the abode of slaves, is now the home only of the free ; that the boundless public domain which was grasped at, and, in a great measure, held for the diffusion of slavery, is now irrevocably devoted to freedom ; that then men talked a jargon of a balance of power in a republic between slave States and free States, and now the foolish words are blown away forever by the breath of Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee; that a terrible cloud of politi. cal heresy rose from the abyss threatening to hide the light of the sun, and under its darkness a rebellion was rising into indefinable proportions ; now the atmosphere is purer than ever before, and the insurrection is vanishing away; the country is cast into another mold, and the gigantic system of wrong, which had been the work of more than two centuries, is dashed down, we hope forever. And as to himself personally, he was then scoffed at by the proud as unfit for his station, and now, against the usage of later years, and in spite of numerous competitors, he was the unbiassed and the undoubted choice of the American people for a second term of service. Through all the mad business of treason he retained the sweetness of a most placable disposition; and the slaughter of myriads of the best on the battle-field, and the more terrible destruction of our men in captivity by the slow torture of exposure and starvation, had never been able to provoke him into harboring one vengeful feeling or one purpose of cruelty.
How shall the nation most completely show its sorrow at Mr. Lincoln's death ? How shall it best honor his memory? There can be but one answer. He was struck down when he was
highest in its service, and in strict conformity with duty was engaged in carrying out, principles affecting its life, its good name, and its relations to the cause of freedom and the progress of mankind. Grief must take the character of action, and breathe itself forth in the assertion of the policy to which he fell a sacrifice. The standard which he held in his hand must be uplifted again, higher and more firmly than before, and must be carried on to triumph. Above everything else, his proclamation of the first day of January, 1863, declaring throughout the parts of the country in rebellion the freedom of all persons who have been held as slaves, must be affirmed and maintained.
Referring to the deed of the assassin, and to the attempt to sever the Union, Mr. Bancroft said :
To that Union Abraham Lincoln has fallen a martyr. His death, which was meant to sever it beyond repair, binds it more closely and more firmly than ever. The death blow aimed at him was aimed not at the native of Kentucky, not at the citizen of Illinois, but at the man who, as President, in the executive branch of the government, stood as the representative of every man in the United States. The object of the crime was the life of the whole people ; and it wounds the affections of the whole people. From Maine to the South-west boundary on the Pacific, it makes us one. The country may have needed an imperishable grief to touch its in most feeling. The grave that receives the remains of Lincoln, receives the martyr to the Union; the monument which will rise over his body will bear witness to the Union; his enduring memory will assist during countless ages to bind the States together, and to incite to the love of our one, undivided, indivisible country. Peace to the ashes of our departed friend, the friend of his country and his race. Happy was his life, for he was the restorer of the republic; he was happy in his death, for the manner of his end will plead forever for the Union of the States and the freedom of man.
The venerable Lewis Cass, a life-long political opponent, after excusing himself from taking an active part in the great demonstration at Detroit, on account of infirm health, wrote as follows:
But in the numerous assemblages, which the impressive ceremonies will call together, there will not be one who will mourn more sincerely than I do the deplorable event which has