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Proclamation of Amnesty-Lincoln's Benevolence-His Self-relianceProgress of the Campaign-The Summer of 1864-Lincoln's Speech at Philadelphia-Suffering in the South-Raids-Sherman's March-Grant's Position Battle of the Wilderness-Siege of Petersburg-Chambersburg -Naval Victories-Confederate Intrigues-Presidential Election-Lincoln Re-elected-Atrocious attempts of the Confederates.
HE American political year begins with the meeting of Congress, which in 1863 assembled on Monday, December 7th. On the 9th, President Lincoln sent to both Houses a message, in which he set forth the principal events of the year, as regarded the interests of the American people. The previous day he had issued a proclamation of amnesty to all those engaged in the rebellion, who "should take an oath to support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the union of the states under it, with the Acts of Congress passed during the rebellion, and the proclamations of the President concerning slaves." From this amnesty those were excepted who held high positions in the civil or military service of the rebels, or who had left similar positions in the Union to join the enemy. It also declared that whenever, in any of the rebel states, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth of the qualified voters, should take this oath and
establish a state government which should be republican, it should be recognised as the government of the state. On the 24th March, he issued a proclamation following this, in which he defined more closely the cases in which rebels were to be pardoned. He allowed personal application to himself in all cases. Mr. Lincoln was of so gentle a disposition that he seldom refused to sign a pardon, and a weeping widow or orphan could always induce him to pardon even the worst malefactors. The manner in which he would mingle his humorous fancies, not only with serious business, but with almost tragic incidents, was very peculiar. Once a poor old man from Tennessee called to beg for the life of his son, who was under sentence of death for desertion. He showed his papers, and the President, taking them kindly, said he would examine them, and answer the applicant the next day. The old man, in an agony of anxiety, with tears streaming, cried, "To-morrow may be too late! My son is under sentence of death. It must be done now, or not at all." The President looked sympathetically into the old man's face, took him by the hands, and pensively said, "That puts me in mind of a little story. Wait a bit-I'll tell it.
"Once General Fisk of Missouri was a Colonel, and he despised swearing. When he raised his regiment in Missouri, he proposed to his men that he should do all the profanity in it. They agreed, and
for a long time not a solitary swear was heard among them. But there was an old teamster named John Todd, who, one day when driving his mules over a very bad road, and finding them unusually obstinate, could not restrain himself, and burst into a tremendous display of ground and lofty swearing. This was overheard by the Colonel, who at once brought John to book. 'Didn't you promise,' he said, indignantly, 'that I was to do all the swearing of the regiment?' 'Yes, I did, Colonel,' he replied; 'but the truth is, the swearing had to be done then, or not at all—and you weren't there to do it.' Well," concluded Mr. Lincoln, as he took up a pen, "it seems that this pardon has to be done now, or not at all, like Todd's swearing; and, for fear of a mistake,” he added, with a kindly twinkle in his eye, "I guess we'll do it at once." Saying this, he wrote a few lines, which caused the old man to shed more tears when he read them, for the paper held the pardon of his son. Once, and once only, was President Lincoln known to sternly and promptly refuse mercy. This was to a man who had been a slave-trader, and who, after his term of imprisonment had expired, was still kept in jail for a fine of 1000 dollars. He fully acknowledged his guilt, and was very touching in his appeal on paper, but Lincoln was unmoved. "I could forgive the foulest murder for such an appeal," he said, "for it is my weakness to be too easily moved
Anecdote of Lincoln.
by appeals for mercy; but the man who could go to Africa, and rob her of her children, and sell them into endless bondage, with no other motive than that of getting dollars and cents, is so much worse than the most depraved murderer, that he can never receive pardon at my hands. No; he may rot in jail before be shall have liberty by any act of mine." On one occasion, when a foolish young fellow was condemned to death for not joining his regiment, his friends went with a pardon, which they begged the President to sign. They found him before a table, of which every inch was deeply covered with papers. Mr. Lincoln listened to their request, and proceeded to another table, where there was room to write. "Do you know," he said, as he held the document of life or death in his hand, "that table puts me in mind of a little story of the Patagonians. They open oysters and eat them, and throw the shells out of the window till the pile gets higher than the house, and then "he said this, writing his signature, and handing them the paper-" they move."
Holland tells us that, in a letter to him, a personal friend of the President said, "I called on him one day in the earlier part of the war. He had just written a pardon for a young man who had been sentenced to be shot for sleeping at his post as sentinel. He remarked, as he read it to me, "I could not think of going into eternity with the blood of that poor young
man on my skirts." Then he added, "It is not to be wondered at that a boy raised on a farm, probably in the habit of going to bed at dark, should, when required to watch, fall asleep; and I cannot consent to shoot him for such an act." This story has a touching continuation in the fact that the dead body of this youth was found among the slain on the field of Fredericksburg, wearing next his heart a photograph of the great President, beneath which was written, God bless President Lincoln. Once, when a General went to Washington to urge the execution of twenty-four deserters, believing that the army was in danger from the frequency of desertion, President Lincoln replied, "General, there are already too many weeping widows in the United States. For God's sake, don't ask me to add to the number, for I won't do it."
It is certain that every man who knew anything of the inner workings of American politics, or of Cabinet secrets, during the war, will testify that no President ever did so much himself, and relied as little on others, as Lincoln. The most important matters were decided by him alone. He would listen to his Cabinet, or to anybody, and shrewdly avail himself of information or of ideas, but no human being ever had the slightest personal influence on him. Others might look up the decisions and precedents, or suggest the legal axioms for him, but he invariably