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infected sheep. It is a black, black page,-but let its blackness be mainly charged to war itself, and what war always breeds. In Northern prisons, the rate of mortality was nearly as high as in Southern; the work of hunger in the one was matched by cold in the other. “ All things considered,” says J. F. Rhodes in his impartial History of the United States, “the statistics show no reason why the North should reproach the South. If we add to one side of the account the refusal to exchange the prisoners ”a refusal based by Grant at one time on the military disadvantage of restoring the Southern prisoners to active service-"and the greater resources, and to the other the distress of the Confederacy; the balance struck will not be far from even." Enough for our present purpose that the Andersonville prison-pen was a hell. Well, after a time the Union armies were recruited by negroes, and the Confederates in resentment refused to consider these when captured as prisoners of war, and would not include them in the exchanges. Thereupon the Federal Government declared that its negro soldiers must receive equal rights with the whites, and until this was conceded there should be no exchange at all. Then some of the Andersonville prisoners drew up a petition, and signed and sent it to Washington, praying the government to hasten their release, and if necessary to hold the question of negro prisoners for negotiation, while pressing forward the liberation of its faithful and suffering white soldiers. But promptly by others in the prison-pen a counter petition was started, signed, and sent on. It ran in substance thus: “We are in evil case, and we earnestly desire that you hasten our deliverance by every means consistent with right and honor. But-honor first ! Let the nation's plighted faith to its black soldiers be kept, at whatever cost to us. We ask you to still refuse all exchange of prisoners, until the
same treatment can be secured for black and white.” Was ever a braver deed than that?
One picture more. In a military hospital at Washington, Walt Whitman was engaged as a volunteer nurse. letter to a friend, he depicted in a few sentences the tragedy of it all, and yet the triumph of the spirit over the body and over death itself. He wrote of a Northern hospital, but the like might be seen on Southern soil, as to-day among Russians or Japanese,—it is the tragedy and triumph of humanity. “These thousands, and tens and twenties of thousands, of American young men, badly wounded . . operated on, pallid with diarrhea, languishing, dying with fever, pneumonia, etc., open a new world somehow to me, giving closer insights,
showing our humanity tried by terrible, fearful tests, probed deepest, the living souls, the body's tragedies, bursting the petty bonds of art. To these, what are your dreams and poems, even the oldest and the tearfulest?
For here I see, not at intervals, but quite always, how certain man, our American man,-how he holds himself cool and unquestioned master above all pains and bloody mutilation. This, then, what frightened us all so long! Why, it is put to flight with ignominy—a mere stuffed scarecrow of the fields. Oh, death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory?”
When the war began, the absorbing issue at the North was the maintenance of the Union. The supreme, uniting purpose was the restoration of the national authority. Slavery had fallen into the background. But it soon began to come again to the front. Two tendencies existed at the North; one, to seek the restoration of the old state of things unchanged; the other, to seize the opportunity of war to put an end to slavery.
The pressure of events raised special questions which must be met. As soon as Northern armies were on Southern soil, slaves began to take refuge in the camps, and their masters, loyal in fact or in profession, followed with a demand for their return. Law seemed on the master's side; but the use of the army, engaged in such a war, to send slaves back to bondage, was most repugnant. At first some commanders took one course, some another. General Butler, a volunteer from Massachusetts, hit on a happy solution; he declared that slaves, being available to the enemy for hostile purposes, were like arms, gunpowder, etc., contraband of war," and could not be reclaimed. The stroke was welcomed with cheers and laughter; and “contraband” became a catchword. Congress, in March, 1862, forbade the army and navy to return fugitives.
General Fremont was in command in Missouri. He was ardent and uncompromising, and in August, 1861, he issued a drastic proclamation, declaring the State under martial law, threatening death to all taken with arms in their hands,
and giving freedom to the slaves of all rebels. The President remonstrated by letter against this too heroic surgery, and when Fremont declined to modify his order, used his authority to cancel it. The public reception of the incident marked and heightened the growing division of sentiment; the conservatives and especially the border State men, were alarmed and indignant at Fremont's action, while he became at once a favorite of the strong anti-slavery men.
This divergence among his own supporters added another to the complications which beset Lincoln and taxed him to the utmost. He had extraordinary tact and shrewdness in managing men, and in dealing with tangled situations. He showed this power toward his Cabinet officers, who included the most various material,-Seward, accomplished, resourceful, somewhat superficial, but thoroughly loyal to his chief after he knew him, managing the foreign relations with admirable skill, and somewhat conservative in his views; Chase, very able as a financier and jurist, but intensely ambitious of the Presidency, regarded as a radical as to slavery; Stanton, a great war minister but of harsh and intractable temper. These men and their colleagues Lincoln handled so skilfully as to get the best each had to contribute, and keep them and the political elements they represented in working harmony. No less successfully did he deal with Congress, guiding it to a great extent, but acquiescing in occasional defeats and disappointments so patiently that he disarmed hostility. He kept in closest touch with the common people; he was accessible to every one, listened to each man's grievance, remonstrance, or advice; and acquired an instinctive knowledge of what was in the hearts and minds of the millions.
In his own conduct, his guiding principle was fidelity to his official duty as he read it in the Constitution and the laws. He felt the specific, supreme task laid upon him to be
the restoration and maintenance of the Union. And to succeed in that, he knew he must rightly interpret and enforce the general sentiment and desire of the loyal people. If he let them become so divided as to no longer act together, the cause was lost. And to follow any personal opinion or conviction of his own, in disregard of his official duty, or in defiance of the popular will, was to betray his trust.
It was under these conditions that Lincoln dealt with slavery. No man more than he detested the institution, or desired its removal. But he felt that he had no right to touch it, except as empowered by the Constitution and the laws, or as guided by the supreme necessity of saving the nation's life. Beyond that he had no authority. Beyond that, his position toward slavery must be like that of a President toward, for example, a system of religion which he believed to be false and injurious. Be he intensely orthodox, believing infidelity to be the road to hell, yet he must not as President, put a straw across the path of the freethinker. Be he as heretical as Thomas Jefferson, he must not as President, any more than did Jefferson, lay a finger on the churches. Just so did Lincoln feel himself restricted as to slavery,—he could not touch it, except as the civil laws brought it within his province, or unless as supreme military commander the laws and necessities of war brought it within his authority.
Congress soon proceeded to discuss questions about slavery. Sumner, the foremost leader of the radicals, proposed resolutions, in February, 1862, declaring that the seceded States had by their acts extinguished their State organizations and relapsed into a territorial condition, subject only to Congress; and that slavery within them, existing only by a local authority now defunct, was thus abolished. Congress would take no such ground as that. But, as within its proper sphere, it abolished slavery in the