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of ultimate abolition, but chagrin and a species of gambler's desperation at the present and prospective loss of political domination for which they rushed headlong into revolution.
AMONG the first congratulations which poured in upon Mr. Lincoln was a terse greeting from Governor Chase, dated November 7th, that admirably expressed the prevalent feeling.
his portrait, ambitious politicians to note new party currents, and veteran statesmen to urge the adoption of favorite theories or the advancement of faithful adherents.
To all outside appearance Lincoln remained unchanged. In the unpretending two-story frame house which constituted his home, his daily routine continued as before, except that his door was oftener opened to welcome the curious visitor or to shelter the confidential discussion of ominous occurrences in national affairs. His daily public occupation was still to "You are President-elect. I congratulate you and proceed to the governor's office in the Statethank God. The great object of my wishes and labors house, to receive the cordial and entirely uncerfor nineteen years is accomplished in the overthrow of emonious greetings of high or low,-whosoever the slave power. The space is now clear for the estab- chose to enter at the open door,- and in the lishment of the policy of Freedom on safe and firm interim to keep himself informed, by means grounds. The lead is yours. The responsibility is vast. May God strengthen you for your great duties."* of the daily-increasing budget of letters and newspapers, of the events of the country at large, and to give directions to his private secretary as to what replies should be made to important communications. Beyond the arrival of distinguished visitors, there was in all this no sign of elevation or rulership; he was still the same kind neighbor and genial companion, who, whether on the street, in his office, or at his fireside, had for every one he met the same familiar nod or smile or cheering word,—the same bearing which for a quarter of a century had made his name a household synonym of manly affection, virtue, and honor.
Day after day confirmed the completeness of the Republican victory, and two weeks after election the city of Springfield was in all the blaze and glory of a great celebration to signalize the result. Projected merely as a local jubilee, it called to the city crowds of rejoicing strangers. Though he had not said a public word during the campaign, Mr. Lincoln could not on this occasion refuse the sound of his voice to the huge torch-light procession, and the crowds of his neighbors and friends whose shouts called him to the door of his modest home. It was not the voice of partisan exultation, however, but of patriotic liberality. "Friends and fellow-citizens," said he, "please excuse me on this occasion from making a speech. I thank you in common with all those who have thought fit by their votes to indorse the Republican cause. I rejoice with you in the success which has thus far attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicings, let us neither express nor cherish any hard feelings toward any citizen who by his vote has differed with us. Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling."
We will perceive hereafter how in this simple utterance of his opening presidential career he struck the keynote of blended firmness and charity, which was to become the characteristic of his Administration.
For some months Springfield now became the Mecca of American politics. Transient travelers and casual visitors tarried for a few hours to shake hands with the newly chosen chief; correspondents of leading newspapers established temporary headquarters from which to send their readers pen-pictures of his personal appearance, his daily habits, his home and public surroundings, and to catch the flying and often contradictory rumors of his probable intentions. Artists came to paint *Chase to Lincoln, Nov. 17th, 1860. Warden, "Life of Chase," p. 364.
Under this quiet exterior and commonplace routine he was, however, already undergoing most anxious and harassing labors. Day by day the horizon of politics gathered gloom,there were signs of disunion in the South, of discord in Congress, of weakness in Mr. Buchanan's administration. The theory of secession became the theme of every newspaper and the staple question of his daily visitors. Even upon theories Lincoln maintained a prudent reserve. Nevertheless his qualified comments to friends were prompt and clear. "My own impression is," said he (November 15th), "leaving myself room to modify the opinion if upon a further investigation I should see fit to do so, that this Government possesses both the authority and the power to maintain its own integrity. That, however, is not the ugly point of this matter. The ugly point is the necessity of keeping the Government together by force, as ours should be a government of fraternity." Later (December 13th) he formulated his opinion a little more in detail. "The very existence," said he, "of a general and national government implies the legal power, right, and duty of maintaining its own integrity. This, if not expressed, is at least implied in the Constitution. The right of a State to secede is not an open or debatable question. It was fully discussed in Jackson's
time, and denied not only by him, but by the vote of Congress. It is the duty of a President to execute the laws and maintain the existing Government. He cannot entertain any proposition for dissolution or dismemberment. He was not elected for any such purpose. As a matter of theoretical speculation it is probably true, that if the people, with whom the whole question rests, should become tired of the present government, they may change it in the manner prescribed by the Constitution."* The secrets of the incipient rebellion, and the treachery and conspiracy of a portion of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet, which have been already so fully laid bare from data only since become accessible, neither Mr. Lincoln nor any one save the actors themselves had then any means of knowing. But in addition fo other current sources of information the confidential letters of Captain Abner Doubleday, second in command at Fort Moultrie, written to the captain's brother in New York, were, so long as mail communication remained, forwarded to the President-elect, giving him an inside view of matters at that critical post.
Most important, however, in its influence, and most valuable in its possible as well as actual consequences, were the correspondence and unity of patriotic confidence which established themselves at an early day between Mr. Lincoln and General Scott. The general was evidently somewhat proud of his famous "Views," written to President Buchanan under date of October 29th, 1860, as a political suggestion. He transmitted a copy of the same to the President-elect, as he had done to many other gentlemen of prominence. A brief acknowledgment was written in reply (November 9th):
"Mr. Lincoln tenders his sincere thanks to General Scott for the copy of his 'views, etc.,' which is received; and especially for this renewed manifestation of his patriotic purposes as a citizen, connected as it is with his high official position and most distinguished character as a military captain."†
The delicate compliment and dignified reserve made their impression on the old hero. Called to Washington about the middle of December, and smarting under the neglect of Secretary Floyd and the discouraging indifference of President Buchanan, his hopes turned toward the elect of the people at Springfield. It was at this juncture (December 17th) that a personal and political friend of long standing called upon the general, and in a confidential but frank interview learned from his own lips the alarming dangers of the Government, the neglect of the Administration to
Nicolay, Manuscript Memoranda.
+ Lincoln to Scott, Nov. 9th, 1860. Unpublished MS. Washburne to Lincoln, Dec. 17th, 1860. Unpublished MS.
send reënforcements, the defenseless situation of Fort Moultrie, and that Sumter, the key of Charleston Harbor, lay at the mercy of the mob.
"None of his suggestions or recommendations have been acted upon, and of course he is powerless to do anything further, but his heart is sound and true. I wish to God,' said he, that Mr. Lincoln was in office.' He continued, 'I do not know him, but I believe him earnestly, Mr. Washburne, is he a firm man?' I answered that I had known you long and well and that you would discharge your duty, and your whole duty, then said resolutely and hopefully, 'All is not lost.""‡ in the sight of the furnace seven times heated. He
a true, honest, and conservative man.' Then he asked
In response to this patriotic expression of the general, the return mail carried back the following letter from Lincoln to Washburne:
"SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Dec. 21st, 1860.
"HON. E. B. WASHBURNE.
giving an account of your interview with General "MY DEAR SIR: Last night I received your letter Scott, and for which I thank you. Please present my respects to the general, and tell him, confidentially, I shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he can to either hold or retake the forts, as the case may require, at and after the inauguration. "Yours as ever, A. LINCOLN." ||
A little later Mr. Lincoln again sent messages of esteem and confidence to the general by Senators Cameron and Baker, who made visits to Springfield.
"I have seen General Scott," writes Cameron in reply (January 3d)," who bids me say he will be glad Union. He says Mr. Buchanan at last has called on to act under your orders in all ways to preserve the him to see that order shall be preserved at the inauguration, in this District; that for this purpose he has ordered here two companies of flying artillery, and that as a constable. The old warrior is roused, and he will he will organize the militia and have himself sworn in be equal to the occasion. "§
This statement was repeated in an autograph note from the general himself on the following day:
"Lieutenant-General Scott is highly gratified with the favorable opinion entertained of him by the President-elect as he learns through Senators Baker and Cameron, also personal friends of General S., who is happy to reciprocate his highest respect and esteem. The President-elect may rely with confidence on General S.'s utmost exertions in the service of his country (the Union) both before and after the approaching inauguration.”
The general then mentions in detail the measures just taken, under the reorganized Cabinet and the accession of Mr. Holt, to countermand the shipment of the Pittsburg guns, to send reënforcements to Fort Jefferson, and to secure the safety of Washington for the presidential count and the approaching inauguration.
Permit me," wrote Mr. Lincoln in reply, January 11th, "to renew to you the assurance of my high Lincoln to Washburne, Dec. 21st, 1860. Unpublished MS.
Cameron to Lincoln, Jan. 3d, 1861. Unpublished MS. ¶Scott to Lincoln, Jan. 4th, 1860. Unpublished MS.
appreciation of the many past services you have rendered the Union, and my deep gratification at this evidence of your present active exertions to maintain the integrity and honor of the nation."*
The President-elect was further gratified to receive about the same time from the veteran General Wool a letter of noble and uncompromising loyalty.
To this Mr. Lincoln replied as follows:
"SPRINGFIELD, ILL., December 17th, 1860. "MY DEAR SIR: Yours of the 11th was received two days ago. Should the convocation of governors of which you speak seem desirous to know my views on the present aspect of things, tell them you judge from my speeches that I will be inflexible on the territorial question; that I probably think either the Missouri line extended, or Douglas's and Eli Thayer's popular sovereignty, would lose us everything we gain by the Many thanks," he wrote in reply, January 14th, election; that filibustering for all south of us, and mak"for your patriotic and generous letter of the 11thing slave-States of it would follow, in spite of us, in instant. As to how far the military force of the Gov. either case; also that I probably think all opposition, ernment may become necessary to the preservation of real and apparent, to the fugitive-slave clause of the Con the Union, and more particularly how that force can stitution ought to be withdrawn. best be directed to the object, I must chiefly rely upon General Scott and yourself. It affords me the profoundest satisfaction to know, that with both of you judgment and feeling go heartily with your sense of professional and official duty to the work."t
Meanwhile trusty friends in Washington, both in and out of Congress, had kept Lincoln informed by letter of public events occurring there, so far as they were permitted to come to the knowledge of Republicans: how the Cabinet divided, how the message was scouted, the bold utterances of treason, the growing apprehensions of the public. But general opinion was still in a hopeful mood.
"Mr. Mann,” wrote one," who stated that he knew you personally, requested me to say that he had seen the Union dissolved twice- once when Southern members of Congress refused for three days to occupy their seats - and that it all ended in smoke. He did not appear the least alarmed about the secession movement, but others, particularly Thurlow Weed and Horace Greeley, expressed great anxiety."‡
These were influential names, and it may be well to cite their own words. "I am anticipating troubles," wrote Mr. Weed, December 2d, "not generally apprehended by our friends. I want the North to be sure she is right and then to go ahead." || Some days later he wrote further: "In consultation yesterday with several friends, it was thought best to invite the governors of several States to meet in this city on Thursday of next week, so that, if possible, there should be harmony of views and action between them. It occurred to me that you should be apprised of this movement. Of course it is to be quiet and confidential. I have been acting without knowledge of your views, upon vital questions. But I find it safe to trust the head and heart when both are under the guidance of right motives. I do not want you to be saddled with the responsibilities of the Government before you take the helm. On the question of preserving the Union, I am unwilling to see a united South and a divided North. Nor is such an alternative necessary. With wisdom and prudence we can unite the North in upholding the supremacy of the Constitution and Laws, and thus united, your Administration will have its foundation upon a rock. . . ." §
* Lincoln to Scott, Jan. 11th, 1861. Unpublished MS. + Lincoln to Wool, Jan. 14th, 1861. Unpublished MS. Trumbull to Lincoln, Dec. 2d, 1860. Unpublished MS. Weed to Swett, Dec. 2d, 1860. Unpublished MS. Weed to Lincoln, Dec. 16th, 1860. Unpublished MS.
thing, in my speeches, about secession. But my opin"I believe you can pretend to find but little, if anyion is, that no State can in any way lawfully get out of the Union without the consent of the others; and that it is the duty of the President and other government functionaries to run the machine as it is. "Truly yours, A. LINCOLN."¶
Mr. Greeley not only had similar fears, but, what was much worse, by his editorials in the "Tribune" encouraged the South to hope for peaceable disunion. He wrote (November 30th):
"Webster and Marshall and Story have reasoned well; the Federal flag represents a government, not a mere league; we are in many respects one nation from the St. John to the Rio Grande; but the genius of our institutions is essentially Republican and averse to the employment of military force to fasten one section of our Confederacy to the other. If eight States, having five millions of people, choose to separate from us, they cannot be permanently withheld from so doing by Federal cannon.'
"There is a pretty general belief here that the cotton-States will go out of the Union," wrote a correspondent from Washington. "One South Carolina member is sorry for the condition of things in his State — is at heart opposed to disunion; but I will not mention his name lest it should by some means get into the newspapers. Orr was forced into the secession movement against his will. This I have from good authority, and yet the statement may be a mistake. It is hard to get at the exact truth." ††
From another Mr. Lincoln received information as to the course of his party friends: "A good feeling prevails among Republican senators. The impression with all, unless there be one exception, is, that Republicans have no concessions to make or compromises to offer, and that it is impolitic even to discuss making them. . . . I was a little surprised that the House voted to raise a committee on the state of the Union. . . . Inactivity and a kind spirit is, it seems to me, all that is left for us to do, till the 4th of March."‡‡
HON. E. B. WASHBURNE.
(FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BRADY.)
"I have never in my life," wrote Mr. Corwin, chairman of the Committee of Thirty-three (December 10th)," seen my country in such a dangerous position. I look upon it with great alarm, but I am resolved not to be paralyzed by dismay. Our safety can only be insured by looking the danger full in the face and acting with calm dignity in such way as [that] if possible we may ride out the storm."*
These few extracts out of a multitude must suffice to indicate the current and character of the reports which reached Mr. Lincoln from various quarters. The hopes of the more sanguine were, unfortunately, not realized. The timid grew more despondent, the traitors bolder, and the crisis almost became a panic. Business men and capitalists of the Eastern States were beginning to exert a pressure for concessions to avert civil war, under which stanch Republicans were on the point of giving way. The border States, through their presses and their public men, implored a compromise, but the entreaty was uniformly directed to the Republicans to make concessions, and more often to justify than to denounce disunion. Some of the conspirators themselves adroitly encouraged this effort to demoralize the North by a pretense of contrition. "South Carolina, I suppose," wrote a friend to Mr. Lincoln," will try on her secession project. Perhaps some of the cotton-States will follow. Their number will not be large. Indeed I know that some of the
Corwin to Lincoln, Dec. 10th, 1860. Unpublished MS. + Fogg to Lincoln, Dec. 17th, 1860. Unpublished MS. VOL. XXXV.-11.
heretofore most rabid secessionists now tremble before the brink on which they stand. They would retreat without trying the experiment if they had not kindled a fire at home which is beyond their control. This, in substance, Jefferson Davis stated to Fitch no longer ago than yesterday." The profession did not well accord with the signing of the conspirator's secession address by that senator only three days before. "I listened yesterday to Mr. Crittenden's speech," wrote another friend," in support of his proposed compromise. În my opinion he is one of the most patriotic and at the same time mischievous of the Southern senators. . . . After Mr. Crittenden, Mr. Johnson of Tennessee took the floor. . . . His simple declaration that the supposed wrongs must be settled inside of the Union is worth a hundred-fold more than all the patriotic wailing of the antediluvian Crittendens." ‡
There were plenty of correspondents to announce and describe the present and impending dangers, but none to furnish a solution of the national difficulty. There was no end of wild suggestion, and that too from prominent men ordinarily capable of giving counsel. One, as we have seen, was for accepting disunion. Another thought a letter or proclamation from the Presidentelect would still the storm. A third wanted him to drop down into Washington "with a carpet-sack." A fourth advised him to march to the capital with a hundred thousand "wideawakes." Still a fifth proposed he should create a diversion by the purchase of Cuba.
It was a providential blessing that in such a crisis the President-elect was a man of unfailing common sense and complete self-control. He watched the rising clouds of insurrection; he noted the anxious warnings of his friends. He was neither buoyed up by reckless hopes, nor cast down by exaggerated fears. He bided his time, grasped at no rash counsels or experiments, uttered neither premature cry of alarm nor boast of overweening confidence. He resisted pressing solicitations to change his position, to explain his intention, to offer, either for himself or the great national majority which chose him, any apology for his or their high prerogative exercised in his election.
It must not, however, be inferred from the foregoing that Mr. Lincoln shut himself up in total silence. To discreet friends, as well as to honorable opponents, under the seal of conWilliams to Lincoln, Dec. 19th, 1860. Unpublished
fidence, he was always free to repeat his well-formed convictions, and even in some degree to foreshadow his probable course. It is gratifying to note in this connection, especially since it evinces his acute judgment of human nature, that in few instances was such confidence violated during the whole period of his candidacy and official life. By unnoticed beginnings he easily and naturally assumed the leadership of his party in the personal interviews and private correspondence following the election, called out by the manifestations of Southern discontent. He was never obtrusive nor dictatorial; but in a suggestion to one, a hint to another, a friendly explanation or admonition to a third, he soon gave direction, unity, and confidence to his adherents.
Mr. Bryant, for instance, was strongly opposed to Mr. Seward's going into the Cabinet. Lincoln wrote him a few lines in explanation, which brought back the following qualified acqui
"I have this moment received your note. Nothing could be more fair or more satisfactory than the principle you lay down in regard to the formation of your
council of official advisers. I shall always be convinced that whatever selection you make it will be made conscientiously.
Mr. Greeley was, as we have seen, indulging in damaging vagaries about peaceable secession, and to him Lincoln sent a word of friendly caution. Greeley wrote a statement of his views in reply, but substantially yielded the point. He said a State could no more secede at pleasure from the Union than a stave could secede from a cask. That if eight or ten contiguous States sought to leave, he should say, "There's the door go!" But,
"if the seceding State or States go to fighting and defying the laws, the Union being yet undissolved save by their own say-so, I guess they will have to be made to behave themselves. I fear nothing, care for nothing, but another disgraceful back-down of the free States. That is the only real danger. Let the Union slide-it may be reconstructed; let Presidents be assassinated, we can elect more; let the Republicans be defeated and crushed, we shall rise again. But another nasty compromise, whereby everything is conceded and nothing secured, will so thoroughly disgrace and humiliate us that we can never again raise our heads, and this country becomes a second edition of the Barbary States, as they were sixty years ago. Take any form but that.'"t
*W. C. Bryant to Lincoln, Jan. 3d, lished MS.
1861. Unpub+ Greeley to Lincoln, Dec. 22d, 1860. Unpublished
THURLOW WEED. (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BRADY.)
On this point Lincoln's note had reassured his shrinking faith. The "Tribune" announced that Mr. Lincoln had no thought of concessions, and thenceforward that powerful journal took a more healthy and hopeful tone.
Hon. William Kellogg, the Illinois representative on the Committee of Thirty-three, wrote to him for instructions as to the course he should pursue. Under date of December 11th Mr. Lincoln replied to him as follows:
"Entertain no proposition for a compromise in regard to the extension of slavery. The instant you do they have us under again: all our labor is lost, and sooner or later must be done over. Douglas is sure to be again trying to bring in his Popular Sovereignty.' Have none of it. The tug has to come, and better now than later. You know I think the fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution ought to be enforced-to put it in its mildest form, ought not to be resisted." +
Some weeks later Kellogg visited Lincoln to urge his views of compromise on the Presidentelect. As a result of that visit Lincoln wrote the following letter to Seward on February 1st:
"On the 21st ult. Hon. W. Kellogg, a Republican member of Congress of this State, whom you probably know, was here in a good deal of anxiety for our friends to go in the way of compromise on the now vexed question. While he was with me I received a dispatch from Senator Trumbull, at Washington, althe border-State men, Kellogg's firmness gave way, and he announced his willingness to recede from the Republican declarations. The change effected nothing but the sacrifice of his own consistency. He lost his friends and gained no followers. His concession was spurned by the disunionists; and being a large and corpulent man, the wits of the day made themselves merry by dubbing his apostacy the "Mammoth Cave."