Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

GHA PTER III.

Mr. Lincoln's Administration in issue before the People.—Disadvantages of the Hour.—Opposition in Official Quarters, and on the Union side in Congress.-The “Radical "Movement.—Recapitulation of the Administration Policy in regard to Virginia and Missouri.-Mr. Lincoln's Method with the Insurrectionary States.— Gen. Fremont's Military Administration in Missouri.-His Removal.—Personality of the Missouri Feud.-How Mr. Lincoln Regarded it.—His Letter to Gen. Schofield.—His Reply to the Demands of the “Radical” Committee.—The Situation in Louisiana.-Military Governorship in Tennessee.—State Reorganization in Arkansas.Factious Opposition.—Uprising of the People for Mr. Lincoln.—The Baltimore Convention.—The Nominations.—Responses of Mr. Lincoln.—Address of the Methodist General Conference.—The President's Reply.

As the time approached at which nominations were to be made for the offices of President and Vice-President for the ensuing Presidential term, it naturally happened that the public acts and personal character of Abraham Lincoln came to receive more particular consideration among the people in all parts of the nation, and also in the countries of Europe, than at any previous period during his administration. His policy was freely discussed, his conduct of affairs, domestic and foreign, was canvassed with the unrestricted freedom which accords with the genius of republican institutions; and it soon became evident that the coming election, whatever its other results, was at least to determine the popular verdict upon Mr. Lincoln's management of affairs thus far, and upon his fitness for completing the work in progress. The brief summary of the events of the war heretofore given has failed clearly to present the exact position of the great struggle, if it is not manifest to the reader that the moment when the preliminary decision was to be had, by representatives of the dominant party, “fresh from the people,” in national convention, was not so specially favorable as to insure an indorsement of the President from a merely temporary bias or caprice. President Lincoln himself was not deceived, however gratified he might have been with such successes as had been first gained, as to the desperation with which the military campaigns of this season were to be contested. His customary moderation of tone, and his habitual confidence in the cause, appear in the following speech in response to a serenade, on the night of May 9th, after the Wilderness battles:

FELLow-Citizens: I am very much obliged to you for the compliment of this call, though I apprehend it is owing more to the good news received to-day from the army than to a desire to see me. I am, indeed, very grateful to the brave men who have been struggling with the enemy in the field, to their noble commanders who have directed them, and especially to our Maker. Our commanders are following up their victories resolutely and successfully. I think, without knowing the particulars of the plans of Gen. Grant, that what has been accomplished is of more importance than at first appears. I believe I know (and am especially grateful to know), that Gen. Grant has not been jostled in his purposes; that he has made all his points; and to-day he is on his line, as he purposed before he moved his armies. I will volunteer to say that I am very glad at what has happened; but there is a great deal still to be done. While we are grateful to all the brave men and officers for the events of the past few days, we should, above all, be very grateful to Almighty God, who gives us victory.

There is enough yet before us requiring all loyal men and patriots to perform their share of the labor and follow the example of the modest General at the head of our armies, and sink all personal considerations for the sake of the country. commend you to keep yourselves in the same tranquil mood that is characteristic of that brave and loyal man. I have said more than I expected when I came before you; repeating my thanks for this call, I bid you good bye. [Cheers.]

A month later, the public heart was less exultant. The war had dragged wearily on, to a great extent disappointing the popular hope. The “short, sharp, decisive "battles once promised were found to be partly too real, partly illusive. An almost unlimited vista of bloodshed and devastation still opened

before the eye directed to the future. The past had its palpable triumphs, but the spirit of the rebellion was apparently still as rampant as ever. Nor, as will have been observed from the two preceding chapters, had the grand cooperative campaigns, from which early and decisive results had been too sanguinely anticipated, culminated in any conclusive triumphs, even far on into midsummer. There were, then, it may be undoubtingly said, few adventitious circumstances to conduce to a prejudiced judgment in Mr. Lincoln's favor. It may, indeed, be affirmed that there was a vantage-ground in the possession of the chief executive power and its patronage; but never, probably, were officers of the Government so closely and exclusively occupied with their immediate duties, or so little attentive to any supposed interest in the succession. Scarcely any one of them certainly took an active part in any organized efforts to influence the Presidential nomination, except in behalf of other candidates. Thus, whatever personal adherents were gained by the possession of the Presidential office, must have been more than counterbalanced by the inevitable alienations resulting from the disappointment of expectants, and by the adverse efforts of many in place. Mr. Lincoln had, further, the disadvantage of an active and perhaps increasing party in Congress, from whom he might at least have expected a partisan support, who manifested on all occasions a zealous personal opposition. To such an extent was this opposition carried, in fact, now upon one ground and now upon another, that it was even doubtful whether, in the Spring of 1864, a majority of either branch of Congress could be relied on for the support of distinctively Administration measures. A “Radical” movement was organized, with its central club in Washington and an extensive correspondence throughout the country, with the earnest purpose of bringing forward a leading member of the Cabinet as the next Presidential candidate. Whatever thorough organization and energetic political management could do to bring forward a new man, under the “Radical "party cry, was done. And after the refusal of the Secretary of the Treasury to allow a further use of his name as a rallying point, there was still a resolute remnant who joined their fortunes to the cause of Gen. Fremont, on whose behalf an independent convention was called, in opposition to the Republican Union organization. A proper devotion to “the truth of history” would seem to require an effort to understand the exact meaning of this “IRadical” movement, and the justice of its opposition to Mr. Lincoln. For this end, it will be necessary to go backward a little, to consider the state of affairs in Missouri, out of which this division arose, and in Louisiana, where further material was furnished to the growing flame. The early policy of the Administration in regard to the restoration of loyal State Governments, in place of those in complicity with the rebellion, received the explicit sanction of Congress and the people, as illustrated in the case of Virginia, in 1861. It was held that the loyal people of that State, in disowning the authority of officers in rebellion, and in establishing, through a State Convention, a new government, at the head of which was Gov. Pierpoint, were to be sustained by the United States, under the guarantees of the Constitution. Practically, it mattered little as to the relative numbers of the loyal and disloyal in any State thus to be rescued from treasonable sway. It was only expedient that the numbers, in general terms, should be such as to justify the attempt to maintain their ascendency, with such aids as could be reasonably given by the National Government. The disloyal inhabitants, having forfeited their rights as citizens by joining the rebellion, were not entitled to be regarded, in re-constituting loyal State governments. Their pleasure was not to be consulted. The fact that they might be a majority, abated nothing from the rights of a loyal minority to be sustained in organizing a legitimate government. The carrying out of this principle—so obvious that at the outset it was scarcely controverted, except by undisguised traitors—led to the emphatic recognition of the government established at Wheeling in 1861; in the name of the whole State of Virginia. A National force was sent into Western Virginia, to prevent the armed intervention of the Rebel Government to defeat this purpose. The Pierpoint Government was distinctly recognized by every branch of the National Government, and Senators and Representatives from Virginia took their seats in Congress, from Eastern no less than from Western Virginia, under no other tenure of office than such as the new State Government, recognized by Congress as the only legitimate government in that State, gave these members, by virtue of legislative and popular elections. Virginia was subsequently divided, as could only have been done constitutionally on the fullest recognition of this policy, and the new State of West Virginia created, the Pierpoint Government still maintaining its jurisdiction over Virginia proper—the remainder of the State. In Missouri, no pretense of secession had been consummated. The people represented in State convention, had distinctly refused to join hands with the traitors of South Carolina and Mississippi. Yet the Governor of Missouri, defying the loyal majority of the people of that State, openly levied war against the National Government, and endeavored to coerce his State into the movement, which its people had emphatically repudiated. Gov. Jackson's organized forces were captured or driven out, and he himself ere long fled from the State, leaving no loyal successor entitled to assume his functions. The State Convention, whose loyalty had already been demonstrated, reorganized the State Government, with Gov. Gamble at its head. This Government, too—and the principle of its establishment was the same, though the circumstances differed, as that applied in the case of Virginia—was recognized at Washington, and the State fully represented in Congress. In both States, a system of emancipation had been adopted, which was nominally gradual, instead of being unconditional and immediate. This action was originated by the people of those States, not forced upon them by the National Government. Unhappily, Gen. Fremont, during his brief military administration in Missouri, had been less successful in restoring order than had Gen. Rosecrans in Western Virginia. Fremont had been appointed a Major-General among the very first after the outbreak of war, by Mr. Lincoln, of his own motion, with only the support and approval, as may now, without impropriety, be stated, of a single Cabinet officer, Mr. Blair. This former Republican stand

« AnteriorContinuar »