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world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they, who fought here, have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that, from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
During the latter part of 1863, the success of the Union arms almost everywhere was so grand that the President issued one proclamation after another, calling on the people to assemble in their places of worship and offer up thanks to Almighty God. He called upon the people to honor and reverence God for the success at Gettysburg, himself publicly thanked Almighty God for the fall of Vicksburg, and on the fifteenth of July issued a proclamation setting apart the sixth of August to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise and prayer, inviting the people to render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things he had done in the nation's behalf, and to invoke the influences of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which had produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the counsels of the government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation, through the length and breadth of our land, all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and seiges, had been brought to suffer in mind, body or estate; and, finally, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.
On the third of October he issued another proclamation of thanksgiving, setting apart the last Thursday of November as the day to be observed. This latter was more in the nature of an annual thanksgiving. But having heard of the retreat of the rebel forces from East Tennessee, he issued a dispatch on the seventh of December recommending all loyal people, on the receipt of the information, to assemble at their places of worship and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.
The beginning of 1864 found the financial difficulties of the country most formidable, as the national currency had so far depreciated that it required $280 in currency to buy $100 in gold. Secretary Chase, of the Treasury department, resigned the position, and was followed by Mr. Fessenden, of Maine, as his successor. In May, General Grant commenced his campaign in Virginia, where each day's slaughter was almost equal to an army, and Sherman, at the same time, moved against the rebels, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, into Georgia. This was the commencement of his march of a thousand miles to the sea, making pauses only at Atlanta, reaching the sea at Savannah, thence north to Goldsboro he swept as with a besom of destruction through the rebel territory, and at last brought their forces to surrender after almost a year of continuous marching and fighting. After General Sherman left Atlanta, General Thomas skillfully planned his retreat on Nashville, and then hurled his troops against the rebel forces under Hood, at Franklin and Nashville, by which that part of the rebel army was almost annihilated.
During this whole year the Union forces were victorious on almost every battle-field. Notwithstanding the rebel armies were shattered and broken, they still hoped for a favorable turn to their cause by the defeat of Mr. Lincoln in the Presidential election then pending.
The Republican National Convention assembled in the city of Baltimore on the eighth of June, 1864. for the purpose of nominating candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. Mr. Lincoln was in the fourth year of his presidential term, during which time call after call and draft after draft had been made to keep up the strength of the army. He had found it necessary to remove hundreds of army officers high in command, he had given freedom to more than three million of slaves who were regarded as property when he entered the Presidential chair, and in all these transactions he had displeased a large number of influential citizens, which it was thought would make him many enemies. But when the Convention assembled, and after adopting a platform of principles, the next thing in order was to ballot for a Presidential candidate. On the first ballot every vote was given for Mr. Lincoln, except twentytwo from Missouri, which, under instructions, were given for General Grant. On motion of one of the Missouri delegates the nomination was made unaniAndrew Johnson of Tennessee was nominated for Vice President. Ex-Governor Dennison of Ohio was the President of the Convention, and he, accompanied by a committee, waited upon Mr. Lincoln, informed him of his nomination, and placed in his hands a copy of the platform which had been adopted. Mr. Lincoln replied:
"Having served four years in the depths of a great and yet unended national peril, I can view this call to a second term in nowise more flattering to myself than as an expression of the public judgment that I may better finish a difficult work in which I have labored from the first, than could any one less severely schooled to the task. In this view, and with assured reliance on that Almighty Ruler who has so graciously sustained us thus far, and with increased gratitude to the generous people for their continued confidence, I accept the renewed trust with its yet onerous and perplexing duties and responsibilities."
Gen. McClellan was the Democratic candidate for President, and George H. Pendleton for Vice President.
During the height of the canvass, President Lincoln, on the eighteenth of July, issued a call for five hundred thousand men, naming the number required from each State, and including a proviso that if the number was not voluntarily made up, drafting should commence on the fifth of September. His friends feared that it would cost him his election, and urged him to delay it. His uniform reply was that the men were needed, and that it was his duty to call for them, and that he should do it whatever the effect might be upon himself.
November came, and with it the day of election. When the electoral vote was counted, at the time fixed by law, it was found that, of 233 votes, Lincoln and Johnson had received 212 as candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. McClellan and Pendleton received the other 21 votes. The total popular vote cast was 4,015,902, and the majority in favor of Lincoln was 411,428. In a few words, courteously spoken to some of his friends who called upon him on the night of the election, he said: "I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one; but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people's resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity." On another occasion, soon after his election, he said: "It has demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war. Until now, it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility." This second election of President Lincoln destroyed the last hope of the rebellion. From that time their armies never gained a substantial victory.
The proclamation of President Lincoln, issued January 1, 1863, gave freedom to about three millions of human beings who, until that time, had been slaves and declared that they might be enlisted in the military services of the United States. Much prejudice existed among Union men, and even with Union soldiers, against enrolling colored troops. Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, made the initial move in the northern States. He received an order from the War Department, dated January 20, 1863, authorizing him to organize and equip regiments of colored men, to be called United States Colored Troops. As soon as this became known, colored men flocked to Massachusetts from many of the other States. The example of Massachusetts was followed by Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Kansas. In March, the Government sent Adjutant General Thomas to the Southwest for the purpose of organizing colored troops. It was but a short time after enlistment commenced until they were in the field. By their bravery in battle, they, at the same time, assisted in subduing the rebels and conquering the prejudices of the white soldiers.
Regarding slavery as the sole cause of the war, I select the following quotations from the annual message of President Lincoln to Congress, December 8, 1863. Speaking of our foreign relations, he says: "The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the suppression of the African slave trade, made on the 17th day of February last, has been duly notified and carried into execution. It is believed that, so far as American ports and American citizens are concerned, that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an end." Referring to the condition of the country at the time of their annual meeting a year before, and contrasting it with the present, he said: