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On the fourth day of April, just one month after the second inauguration of President Lincoln, his feet trod the pavements of the rebel capital, and he held a levee in the mansion just evacuated by the rebel President, who was then a fugitive, with $100,000 offered as a reward for his arrest.
On the ninth of April the whole rebel army, under General Lee, styled the army of Northern Virginia, and now reduced to about twenty-five thousand men, surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House. The news flashed on the wires to all parts of the loyal States. Victory! Victory!! Peace! Peace!! were the exclamations from the lips of all, and the wildest demonstrations of delight were spontaneously indulged in by the loyal millions in every part of the land. The surrender of the rebel General Johnston, with all his forces was only a question of a few days' time.
The tremendous burden of responsibility which for four long, weary years rested upon the shoulders of President Lincoln, was now about to be removed, and he was looking forward in joyous anticipation to the day when the clangor of arms should cease, and with the smoke of battle cleared away, he should enter upon the pacific work of restoring the nation from the ravages of war to its proper condition in time of peace.
As a fitting initial to the work of restoration, the President instituted measures to have the old flag, which had been lowered at Fort Sumter in the presence of the parricidal sons of the nation, on the fourteenth of April, 1861, elevated to its place on the fourth anniversary of that event. Orders were issued by the Secretary of War to Capt. Gadsden to have the fine ocean steamer, Arago, in readiness to convey a select party to that historic spot, the mass of ruins that was once called Fort Sumter.
Of the party who sailed on the Arago, to the number of two or three hundred, it is necessary to men
tion the names of a few who were assigned to special duties on that occasion. There was General Robert Anderson, the hero of the expedition, and the Rev. Henry Hard Beecher, who had been selected to deliver the oration. Then there was William Lloyd Garrison, of our own country, and George Thompson, of England, "life-long co-workers for the abolition. of slavery, each the champion of a great nation." There was also General, now Governor, Dix, of New York; Hon Joseph Holt, of Kentucky; Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts; Justice Swayne, of the Supreme Court of the United States, and a host of others, including Lieutenant Governor Charles Anderson, a brother to the General, and who soon after became Governor of the State of Ohio, in consequence of the death of Governor Brough.
Besides the Arago there were other vessels chartered for the occasion, each bearing some of the distinguished personages of the land, so that the entire party numbered about five thousand. A correspondent of the New York Independent, describing the approach to the battered walls of Fort Sumter, says: "There was but one strain worthy of the moment; it was neither the Star Spangled Banner nor our own grand America. We all broke forth into
"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. "
The vessels had been so well timed that the party landed about noon on the day they were celebrating, April 14th. A prayer was offered by the Rev. Matthias Harris-who was Chaplain at the Fort four years before—and a portion of Scripture read, followed by the reading of the dispatch sent by Major Anderson to the Government, announcing the evacuation of Fort Sumter on the 14th of April, 1861. The Major, now General, Anderson, and Sergeant Hart then stepped forward and hoisted the well preserved
flag, amid unbounded euthusiasm, and salutes were fired from the batteries and fleet. Sergeant Hart was the same man who, when the staff of this flag had been shot off four years before, rescued and restored it to its place upon the fortifications. As soon as the flag was thrown to the breeze, Gen. Anderson delivered the following brief speech:
My Friends and Fellow Citizens, and Brother Soldiers: By the considerate appointment of the Hon. Secretary of War, I am here to fulfill the cherished wish of my heart through four long years of bloody war; to restore to its proper place this dear flag, which floated here during peace, before the first act of cruel rebellion. I thank God that I have lived to see this day, and to be here to perform this duty to my country. My heart is filled with gratitude to that God who has so signally blessed us; who has given us blessings beyond measure. May all the world proclaim, Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace; good will toward
Rev. Henry Ward Beecher then delivered a most thrilling and eloquent oration of about two hours duration. A synopsis of that oration can not be given here, but I must satisfy myself with one or two quotations:
"When God would prepare Moses for emancipation, He overthrew his first steps, and drove him for forty years to brood in the wilderness. When our flag came down, four years it lay brooding in darkness. It cried to the Lord, 'Wherefore am I deposed?' Then arose before it a vision of sin. It had strengthened the strong and forgotten the weak. It proclaimed liberty, but trod upon slaves. In that seclusion it dedicated itself to liberty. Behold to-day it fulfills its vows! When it went down four million people had no flag. To-day it rises and [the same] four million people cry out, 'Behold our Flag!'
"From this pulpit of broken stone we speak forth our earnest greeting to all our land. We offer to the President of these
United States our solemn congratulations that God has sustained his life and health under the unparalleled burdens and sufferings of four bloody years, and permitted him to behold this auspicious consummation of that national unity for which he has labored with such disinterested wisdom."
The kindly words spoken of President Lincoln. were never known to him. Little did the orator think that in less than ten hours the hand of an assassin would put an end to that life, for the preservation of which he had been pouring out congratulations. Rumors of threatened assassination had from time to time reached the ear of the public, but so many dark days had been passed in safety that little or no danger was apprehended of such a calamity, especially at this time, when the enemies of the nation were melting away before our armies as mist before the rising sun.
Mr. Lincoln saw the storm coming long before it burst upon the nation, and from the time he became satisfied that he was about to be the choice of the people for President of the United States, he never doubted that he was chosen by the Almighty to do some special work. This feeling clung to him all through his presidential career. Running parallel with this was another feeling, that when his work was done he would pass away. On these two points he often conversed, and to his friends he sometimes expressed himself quite freely.
Among the earliest of his utterances on record with reference to these matters, is a series of conversations in the autumn of 1860, with the Hon. Newton Bateman, of Springfield, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Illinois, now President elect of Knox College. After Mr. Lincoln was nominated by the Chicago convention in May, 1860, he for a time received the public at his own residence. This, however, interfered so much with the privacy of the family that the Executive Chamber, a fine, large room in the State House, was tendered to him. In this he received all who had a mind to call on him, until after his election and departure for Washington. The room of Mr. Bateman was adjoining the Executive Chamber, and by a private door the occupants of these rooms could communicate when they desired to do so. This door was frequently open during the seven months the room was occupied by Mr. Lincoln. When he was tired he would often close the outer door against intrusion, and