« AnteriorContinuar »
tion with Mr. Seward's scheme.
as it involved considerable detail, and he had his hands work of the conspirators was done, but the full, and more too, he had left Mr. Seward to prepare popular movement had not yet fully ratified the necessary papers. These papers he had signed, some of them without reading, trusting entirely to it. Ours is preeminently a country of mass Mr. Seward, for he could not undertake to read all meetings and conventions, of high-sounding papers presented to him; and if he could not trust resolves and speeches of flaming rhetoric. Perthe Secretary of State, whom could he rely upon in a public matter that concerned us all? He seemed dis haps their constant recurrence makes us less inclined to disclose or dwell on the project, but assured critical than we ought to be in scanning their me he never would have signed that paper had he been real or fictitious value. Because a certain numaware of its contents, much of which had no connec- ber of delegates assembled at Montgomery The Pres and framed a paper government, it did not dent reiterated they were not his instructions, and wished me distinctly to understand they were not, necessarily follow that the people of the cottonthough his name was appended to them-said the States stood behind them. In this case it was paper was an improper one— that he wished me to even so; but the military thrall by which revgive it no more consideration than I thought proper olution swept away conservatism was not untreat it as canceled — as if it had never been written.* derstood by the North. The difficult problem was presented to the Lincoln administration, not alone whether it should endeavor to knock down the revolutionary edifice half built, but also whether such an effort might not excite the whole Southern people to rise en masse to complete it. The disease of rebellion existing in an advanced stage, could the cure be best effected with sedatives or irritants ?
Mr. Welles acted upon this verbal assurance, and was highly gratified that the President thus corrected what he felt to be an encroachment upon the duties and powers of the Navy Department. Nevertheless it is apparent that he had his doubts whether Lincoln had fully and unreservedly given him his confidence in this affair. In these surmises he was correct; a circumstance had occurred between the President and Seward which the former could not communicate, and so far as is known never did communicate to any person but his private secretary, and of which the President's private papers have also preserved the interesting record. In order rightly to understand it, a brief glance at contemporary affairs is needful.
It will hardly be possible for the readers of history in our day to comprehend the state of public sentiment in the United States during the month of March, 1861. The desire for peace; the hope of compromise; the persistent disbelief in the extreme purposes of the South; and, strongest of all, a certain national lethargy, utterly impossible to account for,- all marked a positive decadence in patriotic feelings. The phenomenon is attested not only in the records of many public men willing to abandon constitutional landmarks and to sacrifice elementary rights of mankind, but also. shown in the words and example of military officers like Scott and Anderson in their consenting to shut their eyes to the truths and principles of their own profession,- that it is the right of the Government to repel menaces as well as blows, and that building batteries is as effective and aggressive war as firing can
This perversion of public opinion in fact extended back to the meeting of Congress in December. Under the spell of such a political nightmare the revolution had been half accomplished. The Union flag had been fired upon, the Federal laws defied, the secession government organized and inaugurated. The
* Welles, in "Galaxy," November, 1870.
From our point of view the answer is easy; but it was not of so ready solution in March, 1861. Lincoln in his hesitation to provision Sumter at all hazards was not executing his own inclinations, but merely submitting to what for the time seemed the military and, more than all, the political necessities of the hour. The Buchanan administration had first refused and then postponed succor to the fort. Congress had neglected to provide measures The conservative and means for coercion. sentiment of the country protested loudly against everything but concession. His own Cabinet was divided in council. The times were "out of joint." Public opinion was awry. Treason was applauded and patriotism rebuked. Laws were held to be offenses, and officials branded as malefactors. In Lincoln's own forcible simile, sinners were "calling the righteous to repentance."
It must be remembered too, that during the month of March, 1861, Lincoln did not yet know the men who composed his Cabinet. Neither, on the other hand, did they know him. He recognized them as governors, senators, and statesmen, while they yet looked upon him as a simple frontier lawyer at most, and a rival to whom chance had transferred the honor they felt to be due to themselves. The recognition and establishment of intellectual rank is difficult and slow. Perhaps the first real question of the Lincoln cabinet was, "Who is the greatest man?" It is pretty safe to assert that no one-not even he himself- believed it was Abraham Lincoln. Bearing this in mind, we shall be better able to understand and explain acts done and acts omitted during that memorable month.
In this state of affairs the policy of the new Administration was necessarily passive, expectant, cautious, and tentative. Other causes contributed to their embarrassments. The change from a long Democratic to a Republican régime involved a sweeping change of functionaries and subordinates. The impending revolution made both sides suspicious and vindictive; the new appointees could not, as in ordinary times, lean upon the experience and routine knowledge of the old. Passion swayed the minds of men. There was little calm reasoning or prudent counsel. The new party was not yet homogeneous. A certain friction mutually irritated Republicans of Whig, of Democratic, or of Free-soil antecedents against each other. Douglas was artfully leading a Senate debate to foster and strengthen the anti-war feeling of the North. The Cabinet had not become a working unit. Each Cabinet minister was beset by a horde of applicants, by over-officious friends, by pressing and most contradictory advice.
Seward naturally took a leading part in the new Cabinet. This was largely warranted by his prominence as a party manager; his experience in the New York governorship and in the United States Senate; the quieting and mediating attitude he had maintained during the winter; the influence he was supposed to wield over the less violent Southerners; the information he had gained from the Buchanan cabinet; his intimacy with General Scott; his acknowledged ability and talent; his optimism, which always breathed hope and impart ed confidence. During the whole of March he had been busy with various measures of tentative administration. He had advised appointments, written diplomatic notes and circulars, carried on a running negotiation with the rebel commissioners, sought to establish relations with the Virginia convention, sent Lander to Texas to kindle a "back fire" against secession, elaborated his policy of evacuating Sumter, proposed a change of party name and organization, and set on foot the secret expedition to Fort Pickens. All this activity, however, did not appear to satisfy his desires and ambition. His philosophic vision took a yet wider range. He was eager to enlarge the field of his diplomacy beyond the boundaries of the republic. Regarding mere partisanship as a secondary motive, he was ready to grapple with international politics. He would heal a provincial quarrel in the zeal and fervor of a continental crusade. He would smother a domestic insurrection in the blaze and glory of a war which must logically be a war of conquest. He would supplant the slavery question by the Monroe Doctrine. And who shall say that these im
First. We are at the end of a month's administra
tion, and yet without a policy, either domestic or foreign. Second. This, however, is not culpable, and it has even been unavoidable. The presence of the Senate, with the need to meet applications for patronage, have prevented attention to other and more grave matters. Third. But further delay to adopt and prosecute our policies for both domestic and foreign affairs would not only bring scandal on the Administration, but danger upon the country.
Fourth. To do this we must dismiss the applicants for office. But how? I suggest that we make the local appointments forthwith, leaving foreign or general ones for ulterior and occasional action.
Fifth. The policy at home. I am aware that my views are singular, and perhaps not sufficiently explained. My system is built upon this idea as a ruling one, namely, that we must
CHANGE THE QUESTION BEFORE THE PUBLIC FROM ONE UPON SLAVERY, OR ABOUT SLAVERY, for a question upon UNION OR DISUNION.
party question, to one of Patriotism or Union.
In other words, from what would be regarded as a
The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter, although not in fact a slavery or a party question, is so regarded. Witness the temper manifested by the Republicans in the free States, and even by Union men
in the South.
I would demand explanations from Spain and France, categorically, at once.
Russia, and send agents into Canada, Mexico, and CenI would seek explanations from Great Britain and tral America, to rouse a vigorous continental spirit of independence on this continent against European intervention.
Spain and France,
Would convene Congress and declare war against them.
But whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it.
For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct it incessantly.
Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active in it, or
Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once
adopted, debates on it must end, and all agree and abide.
It is not in my especial province.
UNDER THE FOAM.
means in his power to strengthen and hold the forts,
But I neither seek to evade nor assume responsi- comprises the exact domestic policy you now urge, with bility.*
The conscientious historian must ask the reader to pause and re-read this most remarkable and pregnant document. It is a little difficult to imagine what must have been the feelings of a President, and particularly of a frank, loyal, and generous nature like that of Lincoln, to receive from his principal councilor and anticipated mainstay of his Administration such a series of proposals. That he should delegate his presidential functions and authority; that he should turn his back upon the party which elected him; that he should ignore the political battle which had been fought and the victory for moral government which had been won; that he should by an arbitrary act plunge the nation into foreign war; that he should ask his rival to rule in his stead-all this might be romantic statesmanship, but to the cool, logical mind of the President it must have brought thoughts excited by no other event of his most eventful life. What was to be said in answer? The tender of a grave issue like this presupposed grave purposes and determinations. Should he by a fitting rebuke break up his scarcely formed Cabinet and alienate the most powerful leader after himself, who might perhaps carry with him the organized support of all the Northern States which had voted for this rival at Chicago?
The President sent his reply the same day. He armed himself with his irresistible logic, his faultless tact, his limitless patience, his kindest but most imperturbable firmness. Only the "hand of iron in the glove of velvet" could have written the following answer:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 1, 1861.
HON. W. H. SEWARD.
MY DEAR SIR: Since parting with you I have been considering your paper dated this day, and entitled "Some thoughts for the President's consideration." The first proposition in it is, "First, We are at the end of a month's administration, and yet without a policy, either domestic or foreign."
At the beginning of that month, in the inaugural, said, "The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties and im posts." This had your distinct approval at the time; and, taken in connection with the order I immediately gave General Scott, directing him to employ every * Unpublished MS.
the single exception that it does not propose to abandon Fort Sumter.
Fort Sumter would be done on a slavery or party issue, Again, I do not perceive how the reënforcement of while that of Fort Pickens would be on a more national and patriotic one.
mingo certainly brings a new item within the range of The news received yesterday in regard to St. Doour foreign policy; but up to that time we have been preparing circulars and instructions to ministers and the like, all in perfect harmony, without even a suggestion that we had no foreign policy.
Upon your closing proposition, that "whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it,
to pursue and direct it incessantly,
"Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active in it, or
"Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once remark that if this must be done, I must do it. When adopted, debates on it must end, and all agree and abide," a general line of policy is adopted, I apprehend there is no danger of its being changed without good reason or continuing to be a subject of unnecessary debate; still, upon points arising in its progress I wish, and suppose I am entitled to have, the advice of all the
Your Ob't Serv't,
A. LINCOLN. †
In this reply not a word is omitted which contained that could be dispensed with. The was necessary, and not a hint or allusion is answer was conclusive and ended the argument. So far as is known, the affair never of the Cabinet, or even the most intimate of reached the knowledge of any other member the President's friends; nor was it probably ever again alluded to by either Lincoln or Seward. Doubtless it needed only the President's note to show the Secretary of State how serious a fault he had committed, for all his tireless industry and undivided influence continued to only without reserve, but with a sincere and be given for four long years to his chief, not devoted personal attachment. Lincoln, on his part, easily dismissed the incident from his thought with that grand and characteristic charity which sought only to cherish the virtues of men which readily recognized the strength and acknowledged the services of his Secretary, to whom he unselfishly gave, to his own last days, his generous and unwavering trust.
UNDER THE FOAM.
+ Unpublished MS.
IGHTNESS and laughter are with such as he
Charlotte Fiske Bates.
A SEQUEL TO THE CASTING AWAY OF MRS. LECKS AND MRS. ALESHINE."
BY FRANK R. STOCKTON,
Author of "Rudder Grange," "The Lady, or the Tiger?" etc.
DR. ENDERTON'S letter astonished and angered me, but in spite of my indignation I could not but feel amused at the crafty way in which he had put a stop to the probable perpetual peregrinations of the ginger-jar. I handed the letter to Mr. Dusante, and when he had read it his face flushed, and I could see that he was very angry, although he kept his temper under excellent control.
"Sir," he said presently, "this shall not be allowed. That jar, with its contents, is my property until Mrs. Lecks has consented to receive it. It is of my own option that I return it at all, and I have decided to return it to Mrs. Lecks. Any one interfering with my intentions steps entirely beyond the line of just and warrantable procedure. Sir, I shall not go westward to-morrow morning, but, with my family, will accompany you to Chicago, where I shall require Mr. Enderton to return to me my property, which I shall then dispose of as I see fit. You must excuse me, sir, if anything I have said regarding this gentleman with whom you are connected has wounded your sensibilities."
"Oh, don't think of that!" I exclaimed. "Pitch into Enderton as much as you please, and you may be sure that I shall not object. When I took the daughter to wive, I did not marry the father. But, of course, for my wife's sake I hope this matter will not be made the subject of public comment."
"You need have no fear of that," said Mr. Dusante; " and you will allow me to remark that Mr. Enderton's wife must have been a most charming lady."
"Why do you think so?" I asked.
"I judge so," he answered, with a bow, "from my acquaintance with Mrs. Craig."
I now went immediately to Ruth, who, I found, knew nothing of what had occurred, except that her father had gone on to Chicago in
advance of our party, and had had time only to bid her a hasty good-bye. I made no remarks on this haste which would not allow Mr. Enderton to take leave of us, but which gave him time to write a letter of some length; and as Ruth knew nothing of this letter, I determined not to mention it to her. Her father's sudden departure surprised her but little, for she told me that he always liked to get to places before the rest of the party with whom he might be journeying. "Even when we go to church," she said, "he always walks ahead of the rest of us. I don't understand why he likes to do so, but this is one of his habits."
When I informed Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine of what had happened, they fairly blazed. "I don't know what Mr. Dusante calls it," exclaimed Mrs. Lecks, "but I know what I call it!"
"Yes, indeed!" cried Mrs. Aleshine, her round eyes sparkling with excitement; "if that is n't ex-honesty, then he ain't no ex-missionary! I pity the heathen he converted!"
"I'll convert him," said Mrs. Lecks, "if ever I lay eyes on him! Walkin' away with a package with my name on it! He might as well take my gold spectacles or my tortoiseshell comb! I suppose there's no such thing as ketchin' up with him, but I'll telegraph after him; an' I'll let him know that if he dares to open a package of mine, I'll put the law on him!"
"That 's so," said Mrs. Aleshine. "You kin send telegraphs all along the line to one station an' another for conductors to give to him in the cars, an' directed to Mr. Enderton, a tall man with gray-mixed hair an' a stolen bundle. That's the way they did in our place when Abram Marly's wife fell into the cistern, an' he 'd jus' took the cars to the city, an' they telegraphed to him at five different stations to know where he 'd left the ladder."
"Which ain't a bad idea," said Mrs. Lecks, "though his name will be enough on it without no description; an' I 'll do that this minute, an' find out about the stations from the clerk."
"You must be very careful," I said, "about Copyright, 1887, by Frank R. Stockton. All rights reserved.
anything of that kind, for the telegrams will be read at the stations, and Mr. Enderton might be brought into trouble in a way which we all should regret; but a dispatch may be worded so that he, and no one else, would understand it."
Very well," said Mrs. Lecks, "an' let 's get at it; but I must say that he don't deserve bein' saved no trouble, for I 'm as sure as that I'm a livin' woman that he never saved nobody else no trouble sence the first minute he was born."
The following dispatch was concocted and sent on to Bridger, to be delivered to Mr. Enderton on the train:
The package you know of has been stolen. You will recognize the thief. If he leaves it at Chicago hotel, let him go. If he opens it, clap him in jail. MRS. LECKS.
"I think that will make him keep his fingers off it," said Mrs. Lecks; "an' if Mr. Dusante chooses to send somethin' of the same kind to some other station, it won't do no harm. An' if that Enderton gets so skeered that he keeps out of sight an' hearin' of all of us, it'll be the best thing that 's happened yet. An' I want you to understan', Mr. Craig, that nothin' 's goin' to be said or done to make your wife feel bad; an' there's no need of her hearin' about what 's been done or what's goin' to be done. But I'll say for her, that though, of course, Mr. Enderton is her father and she looks up to him as such, she's a mighty deal livelier and gayer-hearted when he's away than when he's with her. An' as for the rest of us, there's no use sayin' anythin' about our resignedness to the loss of his company."
"I should say so," said Mrs. Aleshine; "for if there ever was a man who thought of himself ninety-nine times before he thought of anybody else once, an' then as like as not to forgit that once, he 's the man. An' it's not, by no means, that I 'm down on missionaries, for it 's many a box I 've made up for 'em, an' never begrudged neither money nor trouble, an' will do it ag'in many times, I hope. But he ought n't to be called one, havin' given it up,-unless they give him up, which there's no knowin' which it was,- for if there 's anythin' which shows the good in a man, it's his bein' willin' to give up the comforts of a Christian land an' go an' convert heathens; though bein' willin' to give up the heathens an' go for the comforts shows him quite different, besides, as like as not, chargin' double an' only half convertin'."
Mr. Dusante was fully determined to go on with us until he had recovered possession of the ginger-jar. His courteous feelings towards Mrs. Craig and myself prevented his
saying much about Mr. Enderton, but I had good reason to believe that his opinions in regard to my father-in-law were not very different from those of Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine. Ever since Mr. Enderton had shown his petulant selfishness, when obliged to give up his room at the railroad station for the use of the women of his party, Mr. Dusante had looked upon him coldly, and the two had had but little to say to each other. We were all very glad that our pleasant party was not to be broken up; and although there was no resignation at the absence of the ginger-jar, we started on our journey the next day in a pleasanter mood for the absence of Mr. Enderton. Before we left, Mr. Dusante sent a telegram to Kearney Junction, to be delivered to Mr. Enderton when he arrived there. What this message was I do not know, but I imagine its tone was decided.
Our journey to Chicago was a pleasant one. We had now all become very well acquainted with each other, and there was no discordant element in the combined party. Some of us were a little apprehensive of trouble, or annoyance at least, awaiting us in Chicago, but we did not speak of it; and while Ruth knew nothing of her father's misbehavior, it might have been supposed that the rest had forgotten it.
At Chicago we went at once to Brandiger's Hotel, and there we found, instead of Mr. Enderton, a letter from him to Ruth. It read as follows:
MY DEAR DAUGHTER: I have determined not to wait here, as originally intended, but to go on by myself. I am sorry not to meet you here, but it will not be long before we are together again, and you know I do not like to travel with a party. Its various members always incommode me in one way or another. I had proposed to go to Philadelphia and wait for you there, but have since concluded to stop at Meadowville, a village in the interior of Pennsylvania, where, as they have informed me, the two women, Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine, reside. I wish to see the party all together before I take final leave of them, and I suppose the two women will not consent to go any closed is a note to your husband relating to business farther than the country town in which they live. Inmatters. I hope that he will take the best of care of you during the rest of the journey, and thus very much oblige YOUR AFFECTIONATE FATHER.
This was my note:
MR. CRAIG. SIR: I should have supposed that you would have been able to prevent the insolent messages which have been telegraphed to me from some members of your party, but it is my lot to be disappointed in those in whom I trust. I shall make no answer to these messages, but will say to you that I am not to be browbeaten in my intention to divide among its rightful claimants the money now in my possession. It is not that I care for the comparatively paltry sum that will fall to myself and my daughter, but it is the principle of the matter for which I am contending. It was due to me that the amount should have been returned