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JOHN A. GILMER.
with any declaration I could make. These political fiends are not half sick enough yet. Party malice, and not public good, possesses them entirely. They seek a sign, and no sign shall be given them.' At least such is my present feeling and purpose.'
And in this purpose he remained steadfast to the end, though put to yet more trying tests. It has already been mentioned, that with the opening of Congress, and the formation of the Senate Committee of Thirteen and the House Committee of Thirty-three, certain conservative men from the border slave-States endeavored to gain control of the political situation by forming a neutral or mediating party between the disunionists and the Republicans. Their policy was an utter mistake; for, while reprobating present dismemberment, their at. titude on the slavery question indicated clearly enough that, if clung to, it would inevitably drive them to the extreme plans of the cottonStates. Some of these would-be “neutral” States eventually went that direful road; and those which did not were saved only by the restraint of the Union army. But for the present their leaders were sincerely patriotic. From one of the most prominent of these, Hon. John A. Gilmer of North Carolina, to whom Lincoln
(FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BRADY.) afterwards made a tender of a Cabinet appointment, he received an inquiry, dated December Now, my dear sir, be assured I am not questioning 10th, concerning his opinions on several points your candor; I am only pointing out, that while a new
letter would hurt the cause which I think a just one, of the slavery controversy, saying:
you can quite as well effect every patriotic object with “I am not without hope that a clear and definite ex. 89, and 267 of the volume of Joint Debates between
the old record. Carefully read pages 18, 19, 74, 75, 88, position of your views on the questions mentioned may Senator Douglas and myself with the Republican Platgo far to quiet, if not satisfy, all reasonable minds that form adopted at Chicago, and all your questions will on most of them it will become plain that there is be substantially answered. I have no thought of recmuch more misunderstanding than difference, and that the balance are so much more abstract than practical.”+ ommending the abolition of slavery in the District of
Columbia, nor the slave-trade among the slave-States,
even on the conditions indicated; and if I were to However difficult to resist this appeal, so in- make such recommendation, it is quite clear Congress fluential, so respectful, so promising, the Presi- would not follow it. dent-elect felt himself bound to adhere to his "As to employing slaves in arsenals and dockyards,
it is a thing I never thought of in my life, to my recpolicy of refusing any public utterance, for Ollection, till I saw your letter; and I may say of it reasons which he set forth at some length in a precisely as I have said of the two points above. confidential answer, written December 15th. “ As to the use of patronage in the slave-States,
where there are few or no Republicans. I do not ex“I am greatly disinclined,” said he, “ to write a let- pect to inquire for the politics of the appointee, or ter on the subject embraced in yours; and I would not whether he does or not own slaves. I intend in that do so, even privately as I do, were it not that I fear you matter to accommodate the people in the several lomight misconstrue my silence. Is it desired that I shall calities, if they themselves will allow me to accommoshist the ground upon which I have been elected ? I date them. In one word, I never have been, am not cannot do it. You need only to acquaint yourself with now, and probably never shall be in a mood of harass. that ground, and press it on the attention of the South. ing the people either North or South. It is all in print and easy of access. May I be pardoned “On the territorial question I am inflexible, as you if I ask whether even you have ever attempted to pro- see my position in the book. On that there is a differcure the reading of the Republican platform, or my ence between you and us; and it is the only substanspeeches, by the Southern people ? If not, what reason tial difference. You think slavery is right and ought have I to expect that any additional production of mine to be extended; we think it is a wrong and ought to would meet a better fate? It would make me appear be restricted. For this neither has any just occasion as if I repented for the crime of having been elected to be angry with the other. and was anxious to apologize and beg forgiveness. To “ As to the State laws, mentioned in your sixth so represent me would be the principal use made of any question, I really know very little of them. I never letter I might now thrust upon the public. My old have read one. If any of them are in conflict with the record cannot be so used; and that is precisely the rea- fugitive-slave clause, or any other part of the Constituson that some new declaration is so much sought. tion, I certainly shall be glad of their repeal; but I
Lincoln to Raymond, Nov. 28th, 1860. Unpub. + Gilmer to Lincoln, Dec. 10th, 1860. Unpublished lished MS.
could hardly be justified, as a citizen of Illinois, or as below my name, and allow the whole to be published President of the United States, to recommend the re- together.
"Yours truly, peal of a statute of Vermont or South Carolina.”' *
“ A. LINCOLN.
“We recommend to the people of the States we repWe have given samples of these solicitations resent respectively, to suspend all action for dismem. coming from Republicans, from Douglas berment of the Union, at least until some act deemed Democrats, and from the adherents of Bell; to be violative of our rights shall be done by the incomthe following, coming from the fourth political ing administration.” : school, will perhaps be found of equal if not This letter Lincoln transmitted to Senator greater interest. its origin is given in the Trumbull at Washington, with the following words of the principal actor, General Duff direction : Green, who, in a letter some three years after
a wards, thus described it:
“ General Duff Green is out here endeavoring to
draw a letter out of me. I have written one which * In December, 1860, at the request of the President herewith I inclose to you, and which I believe could of the United States, I went to Springheld to see Mr.
not be used to our disadvantage. Still, it on consultaLincoln and urge him to go to Washington and exert
tion with our discreet friends you conclude that it may his influence in aid of the adjustment of the questions do us harm, do not deliver it. You need not mention then pending between the North and the South. I was
that the second clause of the letter is copied from the authorized by Mr. Buchanan to say to him that if he Chicago Platform. If, on consultation, our friends, came he would be received and treated with the cour.
including yourself, think it can do no harm, keep a tesy due to the President-elect. I saw Mr. Lincoln at
copy and deliver the letter to General Green.” Ø his own house, and did urge the necessity of his going to Washington and uniting his efforts in behalf of
While the fact is not definitely known, it is peace, telling him that in my opinion he alone could probable that this letter was delivered. Nothprevent a civil war, and that if he did not go, upon his ing further came of Duff Green's mission exconscience must rest the blood that would be shed.”+ cept a letter from himself in the“ New York Whether this proposition came by authority in the vaguest generalities. His whole aim had
Herald” mentioning his visit and its failure, or not, Lincoln could not publicly either ques- been to induce Lincoln tacitly to assume retion the truth of the envoy or the motive of the mission. In either case the appeal was the latter by his skillful answer pointed out the
sponsibility for the Southern revolt; and when most adroitly laid. Of course it was impossi- real conspirators, they were no longer anxious ble to accept or even to entertain it; on the other hand, a simple refusal might be made
to have a publication made.
The whole attitude and issue of the conthe basis of very serious misrepresentation. He therefore wrote the following reply:
troversy was so tersely summed up by Lincoln
in a confidential letter to a Republican friend, “SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Dec. 28th, 1860. under date of January 11th, 1861, that we can* Gex. Duff GREEN.
not forbear citing it in conclusion : “ MY DEAR SIR: I do not desire
amendment of the Constitution. Recognizing, however, that questions “ Yours of the 6th is received. I answer it only beof such amendment rightfully belong to the American cause I fear you would misconstrue my silence. What people, I should not feel justified nor inclined to with. is our present condition? We have just carried an elechold from them if I coukl a fair opportunity of express- tion on principles fairly stated to the people. Now we ing their will thereon through either of the modes pre. are told in advance the Government shall be broken scribed in the instrument.
up unless we surrender to those we have beaten, before “In addition I declare that the maintenance invio. we take the offices. In this they are either attempting late of the rights of the States, and especially the right to play upon us or they are in dead earnest. Either of each State to order and control its own domestic way, if we surrender, it is the end of us, and of the institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, Government. They will repeat the experiment upon us is essential to that balance of powers on which the per- ad libitum. A year will not pass till we shall have to fection and endurance of our political fabric depend; take Cuba as a condition upon which they will stay in and I denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the Union. They now have the Constitution under the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what which we have lived over seventy years, and acts of pretext, as the gravest of crimes.
Congress of their own framing, with no prospect of “I am greatly averse to writing anything for the their being changed ; and they can never have a more public at this time; and I consent to the publication shallow pretext for breaking up the Government, or of this only upon the condition that six of the twelve extorting a compromise, than now. There is in my United States senators for the States of Georgia, judgment but one compromise which would really setAlabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas tle the slavery question, and that would be a proshall sign their names to what is written on this sheet hibition againsi acquiring any more territory.”|| * Lincoln toGilmer, Dec. 15th, 1860. Unpublished MS. Lincoln to Trumbull, Dec. 28th, 1860. Unpub. + Duff Green to Jefferson Davis, May 26th, 1863. Un- lished MS. published MS.
|| Lincoln to Hon. J. T. Hale, Jan. uth, 1861. UnLincoln to Duff Green, Dec. 28th, 1860. Unpub. published MS. lished MS.
BY GEORGE W. CABLE,
Author of “Old Creole Days,” “ The Grandissimes,” “Grande Pointe," etc.
could only near by be seen to stir the tops
ter, a small gray railway swamp. New Orleans, sixty miles or more platform and frame station-house, drowsing on away, was in that direction. Westward, rails, long legs in the mud and water, were still veiled causeway, and telegraph tapered away again in the translucent shade of the deep cypress across the illimitable hidden quicksands of the swamp whose long moss drapings almost over- “trembling prairie" till the green disguise of hung them on the side next the brightening reeds and rushes closed in upon the attenudawn. The solemn gray festoons did overhang ated line, and only a small notch in a far strip the farthest two or three of a few flimsy of woods showed where it still led on toward wooden houses and a saw-mill with its lum- Texas. Behind the Acadian the smoke of ber, logs, and sawdust, its cold furnace and (woman's early industry began to curl from idle engine.
two or three low chimneys. As with gun and game this man mounted But his eye lingered in the north. He stood by a short, rude ladder to firmer footing on with his dog curled at his feet beside a bunch the platform, a negro, who sat fishing for his of egrets,— killed for their plumage,- the butt breakfast on the bank a few yards up the of his long fowling-piece resting on the platstream where it bent from the north and west, form, and the arm half-outstretched whose slowly lifted his eyes, noted that the other was hand grasped the barrels near the muzzle. The a white man, an Acadian, and brought his hand, toil-hardened and weather-browned, gaze back again to hook and line.
showed, withal, antiquity of race. His feet He had made out these facts by the man's were in rough muddy brogans, but even so shape and dress, for the face was in shade. they were smallish and shapely. His garments The day, I say, was still in its genesis. The were coarse, but there were no tatters anywhere. waters that slid so languidly between the two He wore a wide Campeachy hat. His brown silent men as not to crook one line of the sta- "hair was too long, but it was fine. His eyes, too, tion-house's image inverted in their clear dark were brown, and, between brief moments of depths, had not yet caught a beam upon their alertness, sedate. Sun and wind had darkened whitest water-lily, nor yet upon their tallest his face, and his pale brown beard curled bulrush ; but the tops of the giant cypresses meager and untrimmed on a cheek and chin were green and luminous, and as the Acadian that in forty years had never felt a razor. glanced abroad westward, in the open sky far Some miles away in the direction in which out over the vast marshy breadths of the “shak- he was looking the broadening sunlight hadl ing prairie,"* two still clouds, whose under sur- struck and brightened a single red lug-sail faces were yet dusky and pink, sparkled on their that, for all the eye could see, was coming seaward edges like a frosted fleece. You could across the green land on a dry keel. But the not have told whether the Acadian saw the bayou, hidden in the tall rushes, was its highblack man or not. His dog, soiled and wet, way; for suddenly the canvas was black as it stood beside his knee, pricked his ears for turned its shady side, and soon was red again a moment at sight of the negro, and then as another change of direction caught the sundropped them.
beams upon its tense width and showed that, It was September. The comfortable air with much more wind out there than it would * The “ shaking prairie," " trembling prairie,” or having a top soil of vegetable mold overlying immense "prairie tremblante,” is low, level, treeless delta land, beds of quicksand.
Copyright, 1887, by George W. Cable. All rights reserved.
find by and by in here under the lee of the assertions, to which the man replied in low, swamp, it was following the unseen meander- grave monosyllables, bought his game,- as ings of the stream. Presently it reached a more he might have done two hours before, but open space where a stretch of the water lay an Acadian can wait. There was some troushining in the distant view. Here the boat it- ble to make exact change, and the agent, self came into sight, showed its bunch of some saying “Hold on, I 'll fix it,” went into the half-dozen passengers for a minute or two, and station just as the group from the Sicilian's vanished again, leaving only its slanting red boat reached the platform. The agent came sail skimming nautilus-like over the vast bustling out again with his eyes on his palm, breezy expanse.
counting small silver. Yet more than two hours later the boat's “ Here! But he spoke to the empty air. one blue-shirted, barefoot Sicilian sailor in red He glanced about with an offended frown. worsted cap had with one oar at the stern just "Achille!” There was no reply. He turned turned her drifting form into the glassy calm to one of the negroes: “Where's that 'Caby the railway station, tossed her anchor fun ?" Nobody knew. Down where his canoe ashore, and was still busy with small matters had lain tiny rillets of muddy water were still of boat-keeping, while his five passengers running into its imprint left in the mire; but clambered to the platform.
canoe, dog, and man had vanished into the The place showed somewhat more move- rank undergrowth of the swamp. ment now. The negro had long ago wound
8 his line upon its crooked pole, gathered up his stiffened fishes from the bank, thrust them into the pockets of his shamelessly ragged Of the party that had.come in the Sicilitrousers, and was gone to his hut in the un- an's boat four were men and one a young derbrush. But the few amphibious households woman. She was pretty; so pretty, and of round about were passing out and in at the such restful sweetness of countenance, that half-idle tasks of their slow daily life, and a the homespun garb, the brand-new creaking young white man was bustling around, now gaiters, and a hat that I dare not describe into the station and now out again upon the were nothing against her. Her large, soft, platform, with authority in his frown and a dark eyes, more sweetly but not less plainly pencil and two matches behind his ear. It than the attire, confessed her a denizen of the was Monday. Two or three shabby negroes woods. with broad, collapsed, glazed leather traveling- Not so the man who seemed to be her husbags of the old carpet-sack pattern dragged band. His dress was rustic enough; and yet their formless feet about, waiting to take the you would have seen at once that it was not train for the next station to hire out there as the outward circumstance, but an inward sinrice harvesters, and one, with his back turned, gularity, that had made him and must always leaned motionless against an open window keep him a stranger to the ordinary ways of gazing in upon the ticking telegraph instru- men. There was an emotional exaltation in ments. A black woman in blue cotton gown, his face as he hastily led his companions with red-and-yellow Madras turban, and some military directness to the ticket window. Two sportsman's cast-off hunting-shoes, minus the others of the men were evidently father and shoe-strings, crouched against the wall. Beside son, the son barely twenty years of age, the her stood her shapely mulatto daughter, with parent certainly not twice as old; and the last head-covering of white cotton cloth, in which of the group was a strong, sluggish man of female instinct had discovered the lines of years somewhat near, but under, fifty. grace and disposed them after the folds of the They bought but one ticket; but, as one Egyptian fellah head-dress. A portly white may say, they all bought it, the youngest exman, with decided polish in his command- tricating its price with difficulty from the ing air, evidently a sugar-planter from the Mis- knotted corner of his red handkerchief, and sissippi “coast” ten miles north ward, moved the long, thin hand of the leader making the about in spurred boots, and put personal ques- purchase, while the eyes of the others followed tions to the negroes, calling them“ boys," and every movement with unconscious absorption. the mulattress, "girl."
The same unemotional attentiveness was in The pot-hunter was still among them; or, their forms as their slow feet drifted here and rather, he had drawn apart from the rest and there always after the one leader, their eyes stood at the platform's far end, leaning on his on his demonstrative hands, and their ears gun, an innocent, wild-animal look in his rest- drinking in his discourse. He showed them less eyes, and a slumberous agility revealed in the rails of the track, how smooth they were, his strong, supple loins. The station-agent how they rested on their cross-ties, and how went to him and with abrupt questions and they were spiked in place always the same