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2d. In April following, he consummated an act which had been on his mind for many years; viz., abolished slavery in the District of Columbia: thus permitting thousands, who had never before drawn a free breath, to say, " We are free ;” e for the first time in our lives, we own ourselves.”
3d. Follow him but six months further, to Sept., 1862, and he makes known his determination to issue an order, on the first of January following, freeing every slave in the rebel States. e Will he do it?” was in everybody's mouth. He won't dare,” said some of the Copperheads; "there will be a bigger rebellion in the North than there is in the South.” — " It's unconstitutional,” said others; while many of us, who had for years been praying that slavery's chains might be broken, feared he would shrink from the task. But when the first of January arrived, true to his proclamation, he ' breaks every yoke,” looses the heavy burdens,” and says to the oppressed, " Go free.” Truly, future generations will call him blessed; and those who have hitherto been manacled by the galling chains of slavery can regard him as no less than their Redeemer.
Here permit us to take our leave of the life of the President, and for a few moments speak of his death. What shall we say of his murderer, — the fiend, who in cold blood robbed him of the remainder of his earthly existence, and our country of its Chief Magistrate and best man? Oh the blackness of his crime! One before which all others sink into insignificance. Even the crucifying of Jesus whitens into innocence, compared with the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. Christ had denounced wrath upon his cru
cifiers, and there was reason to fear that he would overturn their • kingdom. Not so in this case; for, sustaining and even purifying the best government in the world, our President lays down his life.
We feel justified in saying, that Judas, who betrayed his Lord, was an angel of light compared with — shall I say it? I will!
the demon damned who robbed us of our more than immortal President.
Are there tears, or is there blood enough, in all the Southern Confederacy to make atonement? No! As well speak of the viper expiating the crime of stinging an angel to death. The Chicago « Tribune” well says, " There can be no palliation, no mitigation, of the terrible deed. It was premeditated, coldblooded, devilish; without the shadow of excuse, and perpetrated without the incentive of offence. History, ancient or modern, whether in the days of Cæsar, or in the days of Borgia, furnishes no parallel to his bloody deed. He has damned himself to eternal infamy, and will live in history linked with the fool who fired the Ephesian fane,' — a name to be shuddered at, to be mentioned only with horror. His death will be no compensation for our loss, but will carry with it one consolation, — that the world has one less monster.”
But our President has passed on. Gone to his angel home. How I should like to have stood by his bedside, and mingled my tears with those of statesmen who sobbed aloud to know that he must leave them!
Yea; rather how much greater the privilege to be clairvoyant and claraudient, and see him pass from wife, children, statesmen, and friends below to join the holy hosts of martyrs, and hear their glad greeting and welcomings! Oh, think of the happy meeting, as the spirits of '76 gather around him! As the ' gates” open, and the everlasting doors” to the eternal world swing back, I seem to see Washington clasp his hand, and welcome him to that better" country” where all anxiety is gone, and he is for ever beyond the gunshot of the traitor, or sabre of the assassin.
Adams, Monroe, Hancock, Jefferson, Jackson, Clay, Webster, and Douglas, all bid him join their Congress, and work in a sphere where his labors will be crowned with tenfold the success ever known upon earth. Is that all? No! I see " Old John Brown," - who went before Lincoln, as John the Baptist went before Jesus the Nazarene, — whose soul has been marching on for six years, welcome Lincoln as slavery's last martyr. But this is not all: see the tens of thousands of soldiers, whose blood has stained every battle-field in the South, who died to save their country from the traitorous hands of those who would trample the Stars and Stripes under their feet, give him the right hand of fellowship, and welcome him to their celestial land. But a more affecting sight is yet before us: the poor slave, whose bitter experience tells better than all things else the horrors and degradation of slavery, approaches the Emancipator, — the last to drink the bitter cup of death in consequence of the institution; and, as he throws his arms around his neck, I hear him cry out, " Bress de Lord!” and thousands freed by his proclamations, join him in bidding him welcome to the land of the free.” The happy greeting of one freed slave is more than enough to repay for all blood that has been shed to get slavery out of the way.
RESULTS. In the massacre of our President, the South have dashed the chalice containing the healing balm of mercy to atoms. Justice takes its place; and to-day the olive branch, which was yesterday kindly vouchsafed, is withdrawn: the only cord of mercy has been severed by their own hands. Now that we have learned that mercy means nothing less than nursing a viper to sting us to death, the North is ready to say, in language backed up by every drop of Northern blood, if need be, "Let justice, stern and harsh, have its way.” In the language of another, we say, Yesterday we were, with the late President, for lenity; he had been so often right and wise; he had so won upon our confidence that we were preparing to follow and support him in a policy of conciliatory
kindness: to-day we are with the people for justice. Henceforth, let us treat this hell-born outbreak of slaveholding fiends as a rebellion. We ask not vengeance, but the justice which Abraham Lincoln's clemency would have withheld.
They have slain their mediators, their best friends; now let them feel the force of righteous, retributive justice. They have been barbarous before, — at Fort Pillow, at Andersonville, and at Libby Prison. They have massacred our troops after surrender, starved our prisoners, broken their paroles, and fought us without exchange; they have laid plots to burn and massacre in our Northern cities; they have sunk to every depth of meanness. There is no manliness, no chivalry, no honor in them. From the fugitive Jeff. Davis, the royal Bengal tiger of this " den of uncaged beasts," down to the meanest Copperhead whelp that yelps about " tyrant Lincoln ” and the " nigger war,” they are all inspired by the same accursed spirit of murderous hatred for every thing that conflicts with human slavery, and for everybody who thinks the Lord Christ better than Legree. Booth, who committed this murder, is but the representative of the class which made up the American Knights, Sons of Liberty, and other similar organizations. He was no more a Southerner than most of them. Born and bred in Baltimore, living among proslavery Democrats before the war, and among Copperheads since, he is just enough of a rebel to be a good sample of Copperheadism, - no more, no less. All he knows of politics is "e to curse the nigger, and curse the Lincoln Government.” This is the whole rebel and Copperhead creed. Whoever has this creed is fitted, in all except courage, to do as Booth did. He hates liberty, and loves despotism. So far from hating the negro, this very class like slavery, mainly because it gives them a black mistress, and black servants at each elbow. The negro enslaved, they love, and will die rather than give him up. The negro free, they hate; and would exterminate not only him, but every white man who believes he ought to be free. So, then, it is not the negro, but his freedom, that they hate; not the black man, but slavery, that they love. This proslavery creed is a crime against human nature, - an index of depravity in the heart. Whoever entertains it is an enemy of mankind, and lacks only Booth's courage to commit his crime.
CONCLUSION. Lincoln still works. Think you he could be happy shut up in a heaven, " beyond the bounds of time and space,” where there is nothing for him to do? No! His voice will ring more melodiously for freedom in the future than it ever has in the past. He will still blaze out the way for patriots: let us only follow in his footsteps, and soon our country will arise in a splendor hitherto unknown. As the blood of our martyred soldiers enriches the fields of the South, so will the lives lost enrich us in true Republicanism; and when our country shall have been redeemed, without the stain of slavery upon it, and we shall have learned the worth of a redeemed Republic by its cost, then will we be prepared as never before to appreciate the beauties of a Republican Government. Then, and not till then, will a halo of glory settle upon our country, with which the glory of the past will compare as the dim, Alickering taper upon the hearthstone compares with the splendor of the noonday sun.
“ His toils are past, his work is done,
His spirit fully blest;
And entered into rest.
Then let our sorrows cease to flow,
God has recalled his own;
The Progressive Age, Battle Creek, Mich.