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Come, with han' grippin' on the hilt,
An' step that proves ye Victory's daughter !
Like shipwrecked men's on raf's for water.
Come, while our country feels the lift
Of a gret instinct shoutin' “ Forwards !”
Thet tarries long in han's o' cowards !
They kissed their cross with lips thet quivered,
A nation saved, a race delivered.
With Grant and Lee locked in the last desperate struggle at Petersburg, with final victory almost in sight, Lincoln spoke his second inaugural,—too grave for exultation, with the note of humility and faith. He is awed before the course of events since he stood there four years ago.
He feels the strangeness of both combatants appealing to the same Bible and the same God. For himself and his people he utters the fond hope, the fervent prayer, that “this awful scourge of war may pass away.” He accepts the suffering as the penalty of the nation—the whole nation for the sin of slavery. Humbly, resolutely, he faces with his people the final effort, the sacred duty: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, and to all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
RECONSTRUCTION: EXPERIMENTS AND
"GOD uses a good many ugly tools to dig up the stumps and burn off the forests and drain the swamps of a howling wilderness. He has used this old Egyptian plow of slavery to turn over the sod of these fifteen Southern States. Its sin consisted in not dying decently when its work was done. It strove to live and make all the new world like it. Its leaders avowed that their object was to put this belt of the continent under the control of an aristocracy which believes that one-fifth of the race is born booted and spurred and the other four-fifths ready for that fifth to ride. The war was one of freedom and democracy against the institutions that rest on slaves. It will take ten years for the country to shed the scar of such a struggle. The state of society at the South that produced the war will remain and trouble the land until freedom and democracy and the spirit of the nineteenth century takes its place. Only then can we grapple the Union together with hooks of steel, and make it as lasting as the granite that underlies the continent."
These were the brave words of a Southern newspaper, the Galveston Bulletin, in January, 1867, in the mid-throes of reconstruction. So it was that the best minds of the reunited nation foresaw and accepted the path on which we still are slowly mounting; often slipping, stumbling, falling, but still getting upward. When, on January 31, 1865, the vote of the House com
pleted the ratification by Congress of the Thirteenth Amend ment, abolishing slavery, a burst of jubilant cheering swept the whole assembly, and a wave of joy went through the North. Universal freedom seemed close at hand. Two months more, and the Confederate capital fell, on April 3, and still higher rose the trimph. Another week, and the North woke at midnight, to forget sleep and rejoice as over the final consummation,-Lee had surrendered! In those days it seemed to ardent souls that all the sacrifices of the past four years were repaid, and freedom and Union were completely won.
But real freedom of men, true union of a nation, are not achieved by votes of Congress alone, or victories of the sword. The first and worst was over, yet the work was only begun. And these first steps had been by a rough and bitter road, of which the next stage could not be smooth or sweet. The plow of slavery had been followed by the harrow of war,-blossoms and fruitage could not instantly follow.
Lincoln practically made his own the motto ascribed to the Jesuits, " The goal of to-day, the starting-point of tomorrow.” Even before to-day's goal was reached, his eye was measuring the next stage. While his patient shoulders were still bowed under the weight of war, his hands were reaching out to the work of reconstruction. In December, 1863, a year after the Emancipation Proclamation, he issued another proclamation. In this he offered full amnesty to all who had taken arms against the government, on condition simply of an oath to support the Constitution, and all laws and proclamations concerning slavery until such were legally overruled. From this amnesty were excepted those who had held diplomatic or high military offices in the Confederacy; those who had left Congress or the army or navy to aid the Confederate cause; and those who had
maltreated negro prisoners of war. Whether Lincoln in his own mind regarded the official classes as more blameworthy or more dangerous than their followers, we can only surmise; but he doubtless considered that public opinion was not ripe—the war being still flagrant-for a wider offer of pardon.
Further, he invited a return of the seceded States to their former relations, under these conditions: Wherever a number of voters equal to one-tenth of the registered list of 1860, having individually taken the oath of allegiance, shall unite to form a loyal State government, their organization will be recognized by the Federal government. It is desirable to retain as far as practicable the old State boundaries, constitution, and laws. Such a State government may make regulations for the negroes,-if their freedom and education are provided for,-as a “laboring, homeless, and landless class." The admission of representatives and senators must depend on the action of Congress.
Under this plan-regarded by the President as somewhat tentative and provisional, and expressly made dependent on Congress for its consummation by the admission of senators and representatives—within the next twelve months governments were established in three States where the Union arms were partly in the ascendant, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Congress, in July, 1864, passed a reconstruction bill on more radical lines; assuming that the rebel States were by their own act extinguished as States and were to be created de novo; directing that a provisional governor be forthwith appointed for every such State; requiring the new Legislatures to abolish slavery, exclude high Confederate officials from office, and annul the Confederate debt. The President let this bill fail for want of his signature, and in a proclamation explained his objections: He was not ready to accept the “ State suicide” theory; he did
not want to rest the abolition of slavery on the fiat of Congress (he was looking for the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment); and he was unwilling to sacrifice the provisional governments already set up in Louisiana and Arkansas. If in any other State a movement on the congressional plan was initiated, that might do well; but for any hard-and-fast, all-round plan the time was not ripe. The radicals, led by Wade and Henry Winter Davis, chafed bitterly, but Lincoln was not an easy man to fix a quarrel on.
In the following winter, 1864-5, the new Louisiana Legislature, recognized and encouraged by the President, elected two senators who applied at Washington for admission. The judiciary committee, headed by Lyman Trumbull, reported in their favor, and the large majority of the Senate took the same view. But Sumner was strongly opposed to beginning the readmission of the rebel States to congressional power until the rights of the freedmen were fully and finally established. Aided by two other radicals, Wade of Ohio and Zachariah Chandler of Michigan, he "talked against time," and defeated action until the end of the session. Under senatorial usage it was legitimate—but it was exasperating. The little world of Washington, always greatly given to tempests in a teapot, looked for a break between the President and the foremost man of his supporters. What it saw instead was, at the inauguration ball, Mr. Sumner entering in company with the President and with Mrs. Lincoln on his arm! No, Lincoln was not going to quarrel with Sumner—nor with any one, if it lay with him.
Richmond was taken, and through its streets moved the gaunt form of the President, his eyes taking grave, kind note of all. Back to Washington, and the supreme word comes at last. Lee has surrendered, the war is over, the