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Prominent among the measures passed by Congress during the remainder of the session was the bill establishing a Freedmen's Bureau.
A resolution offered by Mr. Sumner, and passed, excited a good deal of interest in England. It declared that the rebel debt or loan was “simply an agency of the rebellion, which the United States can never under any circumstances recognize in any part, or in any way.” To the parties who had taken the rebel loan thinking that the South was sure to succeed, or at least to secure some terms of peace which would provide for the assumption of the rebel debt, this resolution, coming as it did after such great military successes on our part, was the re. verse of cheering.
Two messages were sent to Congress by the President in reference to approaching International Exhibitions in Norway and in Portugal, and a resolution was passed requesting the President to call upon the citizens to join in them.
The House passed a bill repealing so much of the Confiscation Act passed July 17, 1862, 244, as prohibited the forfeiture of the real estate of rebels beyond their natural lives. But the Senate failed to take similar action, and the law, therefore, remained unchanged.
Resolutions were reported to the Senate by the Committee on Military Affairs, that soldiers discharged for sickness or wounds should be preferred for appointment to civil offices, and recommending citizens generally to give them a similar preference in their private business. The President was in full sympathy with the feeling which led to this action, as appears by the following order, which he made for the appointment of a Mrs. Bushnell as postmistress at Sterling, Illinois :
Mr. Washburne has presented to me all the papers in this case, and finding Mrs. Bushnell as well recommended as any other, and she being the widow of a soldier who fell in battle for the Union, let her be appointed.
A. LIXCOLN. The question of the recognition of the State Governments in, and the admission of Senators and Representatives from, Louisiana and Arkansas was brought upin both Houses, but was not pressed to a vote, though reports were made in favor of such recognition and admission.
The Tariff Bill was modified, a bill for a loan of $600,000,000 was passed, with many other bills of less importance, and on the 3d of March Congress adjourned sine die.
The Senate, however, was at once convened in extra session, by a proclamation issued by the President on February 17th, as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF STAT PROCLAMATION.
By the President of the United States. Whereas, objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at twelve o'clock on the 4th of March next, to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, bave considered it to be my duty to issue my proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the City of Washington, on the 4th day of March next, at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body, are hereby required to take notice. Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at Washing.
ton, this seventeenth day of February, in the year of our Lord L. B.) one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President:
WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State. The military operations during February continued to furnish cheering successes. The peace conference had not been suffered to interfere in the least with military movements. The rebel commissioners were hardly within their lines before General Grant made another movement, taking and holding, though not without severe loss, another of the roads leading southwardly out of Petersburg, called the Vaughan Road, and giving our troops command of yet another called the Boydton Plankroad. A very encouraging symptom of the situation was the increasing number of desertions from the rebel ranks,
by which General Lee's army was steadily and seriously diminishing.
Our own forces meanwhile were being continually augmented by new recruits, which were rapidly obtained, by the strong exertions made in every district to avoid a draft. Many questions arose and had to be decided by the President in reference to the draft. The following letter from him to Governor Smith, of Vermont, was called forth by complaints that its burdens were not equally distributed :
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASIIINGTON, February , 1865. His Excellency Governor SMITH, of Vermont:
Complaint is made to me, by Vermont, that the assignment of her quota for the draft on the pending call is intrinsically unjust, and also in bad faith of the Government's promise to fairly allow credits for men previously furnished. To illustrate, & supposed case is stated as follows:
Vermont and New Hampshire must between them furnish six thousand men on the pending call; and being equal, each must furnish as many as the other in the long run. But the Government finds that on former calls Vermont furnished a surplus of five hundred, and New Hampshire a surplus of fifteen hundred. These two surpluses making two thousand, and added to the six thousand, making eight thousand to be furnished by the two States, or four thousand each, less by fair credits. Then subtract Vermont's surplus of five hundred from her four thousand, leaves three thousand five hundred as her quota on the pending call; and likewise subtract New Hampshire's surplus of fifteen hundred from her four thousand, leaves two thousand five hundred as her quota on the pending call. These three thousand five hundred and two thousand five hundred make precisely six thousand, which the supposed case requires from the two States, and it is just equal for Vermont to furnish one thousand more now than New Hampshire, because New Hampshire has heretofore furnished one thousand more than Vermont, which equalizes the burdens of the two in the long run. And this result, so far from being bad faith to Vermont, is indispensable to keeping good faith with New Hampshire. By no other result can the six thousand men be obtained from the two States, and at the same time deal justly and keep faith with both, and we do but confuse ourselves in questioning the process by which tho right result is reached. The supposed case is perfect as an illustration.
The pending call is not for three hundred thousand men subject to fair credits, but is for three hundred thousand remaining after all fair credits have been deducted, and it is impossible to concede what Vermont asks without coming out short of three hundred thousand men, or making other localities pay for the partiality shown her,
This upon the case stated. If there be different reasons for making an allowance to Vermont, let them be presented ar.d considered. Yours truly,
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The success at Fort Fisher was ably followed up by General Terry. One by one the rebel forts on the Cape Fear River fell into our hands, and on the 22d of February Wilmington was evacuated, and was occupied by our troops without a struggle.
Heavy cavalry expeditions were prepared and sent out through the Southwest, in different directions, and made good progress. But the crowning glory of the month was the success of Sherman's march through South Carolina. Starting from Savannah, he moved northwest through swamps which were thought impassable for an army, forced the line of the Salkehatchie River, pressed on into the heart of the State, and on the 17th entered Columbia, the capital of the State, without a battle. His presence there made the evacuation of Charleston a necessity, and on the next day our forces entered its grassgrown streets, and the old flag floated again from Fort Sumter, from which, four years before, it had been traitorously torn down. Sherman's progress northward continued to be rapid, but hardly any thing that he could do could give so much joy as the fall of that nest of treason had given. Coming, as it did, just before the 22d of February, it made the celebration of Washington's birthday one of great rejoicing. The public buildings in Washington were illuminated, and all over the country it was a day of joy and gladness of heart.
It was not the military successes alone which made the people glad : a general system of exchanging prisoners had been at last agreed upon, and our poor fellows were rapidly coming forward out of those hells on earth, in which the rebel authorities had kept them.
In fact, all things seemed auspicious for the future. The close of President's Lincoln's first Administration was brilliant in itself, and gave full promise of yet brighter things to come.
THE CLOSE OF THE REBELLION.
THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS.--ProcLAMATION TO DESERTERS.-SPEECHES BI
THE PRESIDENT.—DESTRUCTION OF LEE's Army.—THE PRESIDENT'S Visit To RICHMOND.—RETURN TO WASHINGTON.—CLOSE OF TIE WAR.
It seems hardly credible that four years should embrace within their narrow limit so immense a change as the four years of Mr. Lincoln's first Administration had brought to the country and to himself. When, on the 4th of March, 1861, he took the oath of office, administered to hịm by Chief-Justice. Taney, the horizon was dark with storms, whose duration and violence were as yet happily unknown. He himself, as he stood on the steps of the Capitol, was an untried man, sneered at by those who had held the reins of power in the country, an object for the rising hate of the aspiring aristocracy of the South, which had already sought his life, and would have sought it with still greater vindictiveness, if a tithe of the sagacity, firmness, honesty, and patriotism which animated his breast had been understood ; even then an object of interest and growing affection, comparatively unknown as he was even to his own friends, to those who saw the danger which was overhanging the country, and were nerving themselves to meet it.
But now the fierceness of the storm seemed to be passing away, and clearer skies to be seen through the rolling clouds. The citizen, who, four years before, was utterly un. tried and unknown, was now the chosen leader of a nation of thirty million people, who trusted in his honesty as they trusted in the eternal principles of Nature, who believed him to be wise, and knew him to be abundant in patience and kindness of heart, with an army of half a million