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THE author of this book was a deeply interested observer, and in an humble way as member of Congress from Illinois, an actor during the administration of ABRAHAM LINCOLN; and he had the honor of enjoying his friendship, for twenty years previous to his election as President.
This work was begun during his life, and the author was honored and encouraged to go forward in its preparation by his approval. He trusts he may without vanity, hope to have contributed something of permanent value to the record (hereafter to be fully made up) of the last six most eventful years.
If he has been able to aid to any extent, the American people to a better understanding, and to a fuller and more just appreciation of the moral and intellectual character of Mr. LINCOLN, and the means by which slavery has been overthrown and the slaveholders' rebellion subdued, he will be amply rewarded for the labor bestowed.
In regard to the truthfulness and impartiality of the work, the author will only say that, while acknowledging frankly that all his convictions and sympathies have been with the cause of liberty and loyalty, he has not, consciously, done injustice to any.
The great struggle between liberty and slavery in the United States, substantially terminated with the martyrdom of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The blow of the assassin which struck down the great apostle of freedom, was the last, malignant, expiring effort of slavery. The shot
which pierced the heart of Lovejoy at Alton, Illinois, and that which penetrated the brain of LINCOLN, were alike aimed by that institution. The eradication of slavery from the republic was made certain by the death of the Great Emancipator.
It seems a fit occasion to pause at the end of this great drama, to look back over the record of the conflict, to recall the leading events which have marked its history; to do proper honor and justice to the great actors, and, especially, to trace the life and career of the greatest hero of the drama, by whose wisdom, fidelity to principle, truth, singleness of purpose, and boldness, the triumph of freedom has been accomplished.
The experiment of self-government in North America was, up to the period of the great slaveholders' rebellion, a most wonderful success. The settlement, growth, advance, union, independence and consolidation of the United States; the establishment, by the people, of a representative national government, and the rapid advance of the nation, up to the period of the civil war, have had no parallel in history. For nearly ninety years succeeding Independence, the career of the nation was a rapid course of prosperity and happiness. Freedom, general education, with security for person and property, developed and stimulated an industry, enterprise and energy, which produced results which outrun the calculations of all the political economists.
The population of the United States which, at the time of its recognition by Great Britain in 1783, was less than three millions, in 1860, had reached and exceeded thirty millions. Thirteen sparsely settled states, stretching along the Atlantic coast, multiplied to thirty-three, bordering all the great inland seas; and organized society, crossing the great Father of Waters, found a pathway over the Rocky Mountains, and planted great states on the golden shores of the Pacific. This vast territorial area was being welded, connected and entwined together by a network of innumerable railways, telegraph lines, navigable rivers, roads and canals, into one great national unity. The school-house, the church, the newspaper, the library, the academy, the college and university, followed close upon the heels of the pioneer, bringing the means of intellectual and moral culture to every child. Labor was liberally rewarded; the emigrant from every clime was welcomed, there was food and land
enough for all. Meanwhile, the nation, respected abroad, its growth a wonder, the land of hope and promise to the poor of every clime,was looked upon by the friends of liberty and civilization, as demonstrating man's ability, safely, wisely, and judiciously, to administer the government. But there was one anomaly- -one great disease preying upon the body politic-African slavery. This brought upon this otherwise happy country, the desolation and suffering of a five years' bloody civil war.
That has now passed away, and we are entering upon a new era; a destiny now dawns upon us of a great continental republic, freed from slavery, and based upon the grand idea of human liberty; recognizing God as the common Father, and the universal brotherhood of man.
I shall attempt to write a history of this conflict. There is no sublimer page in human progress, than that which I humbly attempt to record the history of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, and the overthrow of Slavery in the United States. Preliminary and introductory to that history, I propose to give a rapid sketch of the "irrepressible conflict" between freedom and slavery, from 1789 down to 1860; the antagonism between liberty and slavery, so clearly stated by Mr. LINCOLN, in his Springfield speech, of June, 1858: "A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of Slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward, until it becomes alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as well as South."
Slavery was ever the only seriously dangerous cause of division among the states. The people of our country were essentially one, with a common Anglo-Saxon lineage, a common religion; one in language, one in literature, and one in law and history. That portion of earth called the United States, is well adapted by physical conformation, to be the home of one national family, and not of many. Remove slavery, and the people would gravitate into a homogeneous nationality.
This antagonism, between free and slave labor, produced a great conflict of ideas, fierce, earnest, and violent; at last in 1861, it became a tremendous conflict, both of ideas and of arms; a conflict of thoughts and principles, of laws and constitutional enactments, as well as of vast armies; a conflict, the magnitude of which has no parallel in past history.
I shall attempt, rapidly, to describe this conflict, as it exhibited itself in Legislatures, and in the Halls of Congress, in the forums of courts, through the mighty modern engines of the press, on the stump, in the great arena of political conventions, and in the pulpit, and among the people. I shall follow it from the triumph of the slave power in the admission of the slave state of Missouri, to the triumph of free labor, in the admission of the free states of California and Oregon. I shall sketch the desperate and fierce struggle between freedom and slavery for Kansas; the first clashing there, by the belligerent forces, of the weapons of material war; the Sharpe's rifles of New England against the bowieknives of the border-ruffians; the speeches of Beecher, Phillips and Sumner, against those of Atchison, Toombs and Mason.
I shall attempt to describe the prominent appearance, upon the political arena, in June, 1858, of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the great leader, who thereafter was, so far as man could do it, to "guide the whirlwind and direct the storm." The prominent position of this great statesman of the West, will require that at this part of the record, I should pause, and enquire what had been the training and culture of this influential leader; what his preparation; and what manner of man this was, that so quietly and so gently, and yet so firmly grasped the helm, and directed the ship of state in accordance with public sentiment.
I shall describe the early life of LINCOLN; his career in Congress, on the stump, and at the bar. I shall sketch his great intellectual combat with Douglas in 1858; his wonderful power over the people; his nomination for, and election to, the presidency.
I shall then enter upon the great object of my work; the history, executive and legislative, of the administration of LINCOLN, and of the progressive steps which resulted in the overthrow of slavery in the United States. I shall narrate how this inexperienced, but vigorous statesman, with little knowledge of men and of affairs, guided by a
constant sense of duty, taking for his political compass and guide the great principle of the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal," reposing unwavering faith and confidence in the people; and, with unshaken fidelity to national union based on freedom, never for a moment forgetting his responsibility to God;—how this selfmade, self-educated man of the prairies, rising from the humblest position, simple, pure, humble, but firm, perfectly honest and truthful; how he was enabled to guide and control the government through this most stupendous civil war, to complete success; how he triumphed over all enemies; how he conquered the fierce rage and rancor of opposing factions and parties; how he subdued the prejudices of enemies, and forced the oftimes reluctant respect of other nations; how he organized and held together all the loyal people of the nation against its foes, and triumphed over, or healed all rivalries and divisions among his own political friends; composed the quarrels and jealousies of rival generals; triumphed over all the enemies of his country; securing ever the love and confidence of the people; crushing the power and machinations of rebels and traitors; restoring national unity;-and crowned his glorious life by becoming the emancipator and savior of his country. This grand career, this great drama, of which LINCOLN is the leading spirit, is my theme. I shall trace events through these terrible convulsions, and truthfully exhibit LINCOLN, always calm, sagacious, inflexible, with a prophetic faith, seeing, hoping for, and comprehending the end from the beginning. This man, who "with malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gave him to see the right;" this man to whom, under Providence, was given the sublime mission to save his country, to emancipate a race, and to restore, or rather reëstablish and consolidate unity, based on liberty to all; this man, his deeds, his services,-I shall attempt truthfully to delineate. I shall also record the deeds of his able and efficient helpers, in the cabinet, in Congress, in the field; at the head of the press, and in private life, by whom he was aided in his great work. But the people themselves, were above all leaders; and it was their energy, and patriotism, and self-denial, which saved the republic.
This young, enthusiastic and energetic people, themselves improvised armies, the numbers of which had no parallel; their ingenuity, industry