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success. He has maintained, through the terrible trials of his administration, a reputation, with the great body of the people, for unsullied integrity, of purpose and of conduct, which even Washington did not surpass, and which no President since Washington has equalled. He has had command of an army greater than that of any living monarch; he has wielded authority less restricted than that conferred by any other constitutional government; he has disbursed sums of money equal to the exchequer of any nation in the world; yet no man, of any party, believes him in any instance to have aimed at his own aggrandižement, to have been actuated by personal ambition, or to have consulted any other interest than the welfare of his country, and the perpetuity of its Republican form of government. This of itself is a success which may well challenge universal admiration, for it is one which is the indispensable condition of all other forms of success. No man whose public integrity was open to suspicion, no matter what might have been his abilities or his experience, could possibly have retained enough of public confidence to carry the country through such a contest as that in which we are now involved. No President suspected of seeking his own aggrandizement at the expense of his country's liberties, could ever have received such enormous grants of power as were essential to the successful prosecution of this war. They were lavishly and eagerly conferred upon Mr. Lincoln, because it was known and felt everywhere that he would not abuse them. Faction has had in him no mark for its assaults. The weapons of party spirit have recoiled harmlessly from the shield of his unspotted character.
It was this unanimous confidence in the disinterested purity of his character, and in the perfect integrity of his public purposes, far more than any commanding intellectual ability, that enabled Washington to hold the faith and confidence of the American people steadfast for seven years, while they waged
the unequal war required to achieve their independence. And it certainly is something more than a casual coincidence that this same element, as rare in experience as it is transcendent in importance, should have characterized the President upon whom devolves the duty of carrying the country through this second and far more important and sanguinary struggle.
No one can read Mr. LINCOLN's state papers without perceiving in them a most remarkable faculty of "putting things” so as to command the attention and assent of the common people. His style of thought as well as of expression is thoroughly in harmony with their habitual modes of thinking and of speaking. His intellect is keen, emphatically logical in its action, and capable of the closest and most subtle analysis : and he uses language for the sole purpose of stating, in the clearest and simplest possible form, the precise idea he wishes to convey. He has no pride of intellect—not the slightest desire for display-no thought or purpose but that of making everybody understand precisely what he believes and means to utter. And while this sacrifices the graces of style, it gains immeasurably in practical force and effect. It gives to his public papers a weight and influence with the mass of the people, which no public man of this country has ever before attained. And this is heightened by the atmosphere of humor which seems to pervade his mind, and which is just as natural to it and as attractive and softening a portion of it, as the smoky hues of Indian summer are of the charming season to which they belong. His nature is eminently genial, and he seems to be incapable of cherishing an envenomed resentment. And although he is easily touched by whatever is painful, the elasticity of his temper and his ready sense of the humorons break the force of anxieties and responsibilities under which a man of harder though perhaps a higher nature would sink and fail.
One of the most perplexing questions with which Mr. Lincoln has had to dcal in carrying on the war, has been that of
slavery. There are two classes of persons who cannot, even now, see that there was any thing perplexing about it, or that he ought to have had a moment's hesitation how to treat it. One, is made up of those who regard the law of slavery as paramount to the Constitution, and the rights of slavery as the most sacred of all the rights which are guaranteed by that instrument: the other, of those who regard the abolition of slavery as the one thing to be secured, whatever else may be lost. The former denounce Mr. Lincoln for having interfered with slavery in any way, for any purpose, or at any time: the latter denounce him, with equal bitterness, for not having swept it out of existence the moment Fort Sumter was attacked. In this matter, as in all others, Mr. LINCOLN has acted upon a fixed principle of his own, which he has applied to the practical conduct of affairs just as fast as the necessities of the case required and as the public sentiment would sustain him in doing. His policy has been from the outset a tentative one-as, indeed, all policies of government to be successful must always be. On the outbreak of the rebellion the first endeavor of the rebels was to secure the active co-operation of all the slaveholding States. Mr. LINCOLN's first action, therefore, was to withhold as many of these States from joining the rebel confederacy as possible. Every one can see now that this policy, denounced at the time by his more zealous anti-slavery supporters as temporizing and inadequate, prevented Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Missouri, and part of Virginia from throwing their weight into the rebel scale; and although it is very easy and very common to undervalue services to a cause after its triumph seems secure, there are few who will not concede that if these States had been driven or permitted to drift into the rebel confederacy, a successful termination of the war would have been much farther off than it seems at present. Mr. Lincoln did every thing in his power, consistent with fidelity to the Constitution, to retain the Border Slave States within the Union; and the degree of success
which attended his efforts is the best proof of their substantial wisdom.
His treatment of the slavery question has been marked by the same experimental policy. The various letters by which from time to time he has explained the principles on which he was acting, in any particular emergency, show very clearly that he has been far more anxious to take action which should be sanctioned and sustained by the country, and thus be permanently valuable, than to put forth any theory of his own or carry into effect the dogmas and opinions of any party, The whole case is stated with great clearness and force in a letter written by bim on the 4th of April to Mr. Hodges, who, with Governor Branlette and some other gentlemen of Kentucky, had called upon him on business relating to the draft, and with whom he had some conversation in regard to the misconceptions of his policy that seemed to be current in their State. That letter is as follows:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, April 4th, 1864. A. G. HODGES, Esq., Frankfort, Ky: My dear Slr:-You ask me to put in writing the substance of what I verbally said the other day, in your presence, to Governor Bramlette and Senator Dixon. It was about as follows:
"I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel, and yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery. I did understand, however, that my oath to preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every
indispeusable means, that government—that nation, of which that Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the nation and yet preserve the Constitution ? By general law, life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong,
assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability I had even tried to preserve the Coustitution, if, to save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and constitution, altogether. When, early in the war, General Fremont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity. When a little later, General Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arning of the blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, General Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come. When in March and May, and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the border States to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition, and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white military force, no loss by it any low, or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen and laborers. These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. We have the men; and we could not have had them without the
“And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, test himself by writing down in one live, that he is for subduing the rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking three hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be best for the measure he condemns. If he cannot face his case so stated, it is only because he cannot face the truth."
aud a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling this tale, I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to