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If the loyal people united were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided and partially paralyzed by a political'war among themselves? But the election was a necessity. We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we will have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.
But the election, along with its incidental and undesirable strife, has done good, too. 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. It shows, also, how sound and how strong we still are. It shows that even among the candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union and most opposed to treason can receive most of the people's votes. It shows, also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, and patriotic men are better than gold.
But the rebellion continues, and, now that the election is over, may not all have a common interest to reunite in a common effort to save onr common country? For my own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here, I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man's bosom. While I am duly sensible to the high compliment of are-election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God, for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed by the result.
May I ask those who have not differed with me to join with me in this same spirit towards those who have? And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen, and their gallant and skilful commanders.
But though the President rejoiced over the result mainly because of its public bearing on the welfare of the country, he was by no means insensible to the personal confidence in himself which it exhibited. This feeling he expressed in a speech which he made to the State Committee of Maryland, who waited on him to congratulate him upon the trust.
The Chairman had remarked that they felt under deep obligations to him because, by the exercise of rare discretion on his part, Maryland to-day occupied the proud position of a free State.
The President said that he would not attempt to conceal his gratification with the result of t*he election. He had exercised his best judgment for the good of the whole country, and to have the seal of* approbation placed upon his course was exceedingly grateful to his feelings.
Believing the policy he had pursued was the best and the only Oikwhich could save the country, he repeated what he had said before, that he indulged in no feeling of triumph over any one who had thought «»r acted differently from himself. He had no such feeling towards any living man. He thought the adoption of a Free State Constitution for Maryland was "a big thing," and a victory for right and worth a great deal more than the part of Maryland in the Presidential election, although of the latter he thought well. In conclusion, he repeated what he had said befpre: namely, that those who differed from and opposed us, will yet see that defeat was better for their own good than if they had been successful.
This same sense of personal gratitude found expression in the following letter which he wrote to Deacon John Phillips, of Stourbridge, Massachusetts, who, though a hundred and four years old, attended the polls to cast his vote for Mr. Lincoln:—
Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21,18W.
My Dear Sib :—I have heard of the incident at the polls in your town, in which you acted so honorable a part, and I take the liberty of writing to you to express my personal gratitude, for the compliment paid mo by the suffrage of a citizen so venerable.
The example of such devotion to civic duties in one whose days have already been extended an average lifetime beyond the Psalmist's limit, cannot but be valuable and fruitful. It is not for myself only, but for the country which you have in your sphere served so long and so well, that I thank you. Your friend and servant,
Deacon John Phillips.
We publish here, as it was written on the same day, the following graceful letter addressed by the President to Mrs. Bixby, a resident of Boston, who had lost five sons in the war, and whose sixth was lying severely wounded at the time in the hospital:—
Executive Maksion, Washington, November 21, 1*64.
Dear Madam:—I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. 1 feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln. To Mrs. Bixbt, Boston, Massachusetts.
This letter, addressed to one conspicuous among the thousands who had laid "costly sacrifices upon the altar o# Freedom/' touched the hearts of all, and strengthened the feelings of love which the great body of the people were coming to cherish for the man whom Providence had made their ruler.
Prominent among the sentiments which ruled the heart and life of Mr. Lincoln, was that reverential sense of dependence upon an Almighty Providence, which finds strong expression in the following letter which he addressed to Mrs. Eliza P. Gurney, an American lady resident in London, and wife of a wealthy Quaker banker of that city :—
My Esteemed Friend:—I have not forgotten, probably never shall forget, the very impressive occasion when yourself and friends visited me on a Sabbath forenoon, two years ago; nor had your kind letter, written nearly a year later, ever been forgotten. In all it has been your purpose to strengthen my reliance in God. I am much indebted to the good Christian people of the country for their constant prayer and consolation, and to no one of them more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this, but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own errors therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best lights He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends lie ordains. Surely, He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.
Your people—the Friends—hav t had, and are having, very great trials. On principle and faith opposed to both war and oppression, they can only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn and some the other. For those appealing to me on conscientious grounds, I have done and shall do the best I could and can in my own conscience under my oath to the law. That you believe this, I doubt not, and believing it, I shall still receive for our country and myself your earnest prayers to our Father in Heaven.
Your sincere friend,
This sense of religious reliance upon Providence, evident in all his acts, as well as in his expressions, and a feeling of the integrity and purity of purpose which pervaded all his acts, had won for Mr. Lincoln the cordial support of the various Christian churches of the country, and he had good reason, therefore, for thus expressing his indebtedness to the u Christian people of the land for their constant prayer and consolation.^ Though not a member of any church or sect, he never neglected a proper occasion for declaring his faitli in those great principles on which all Christian churches and sects are built.
When a committee of colored men from Baltimore came to him to present him an elegant copy of the Bible, he made the following brief speech in answer to their address :—
I can only say now, as I have often said before, it.has always been a sentiment with rae, that all mankind should be free. So far as I have been able, so far as came within my sphere, I have always acted as I believed was just and right, and done all I could for the good of mankind. I have, in letters sent forth from this office, expressed myself better than I can now.
In regard to the great Book, I have only to say it is the best gift which God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this Book. But for that Book, we could not know right from wrong. All those things desirable to man are contained in it, I return you sincere thanks for this very elegant copy of this great K Book of God which you present.
All knew that Mr. Lincoln was a man of thorough honesty of speech, and his whole life vindicated his assertion that he had acted as he believed was just and right, and had done all he could for the good of mankind. It was not strange, therefore, that the churches of the country gathered around such a leader of such a cause. When the General Conference of the Methodist Church met in May, 1864, they adopted a series of resolutions, expressing .the loyalty of that church, and their sympathy with him. These r jlutions were presented to the President, who response! to the accompanying address as follows :—
Gentlemen:—In response to your address, allow me to attest the accuracy <>f its historical statements, indorse the sentiments it expresses, and thank you in the nation's name for the sure promise it gives. Nobly sustained, as the Government has been, by all the churches, I would utter nothing which might in the least appear invidious against any. Yet without this, it may fairly be said, that the Methodist Episcopal Church, not less devoted than the best, is by its greatest numbers the most important of all. It is no fault in others that the Methodist Church Sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals, and more prayers to Heaven than any other. God bless the Methodist Church. Bless all the churches; and blessed be God, who in this our great trial giveth us the churches.
Similar action was also taken by the Baptist Church, and to their delegation, on the presentation of the resolutions, the President spoke as follows ;—
In the present very responsible position in which I am engaged, I have had great cause of gratitude for the support so unanimously given by all Christian denominations of the country. I have had occasion so frequently to respond to something like this assemblage, that I have said all I had to say. This particular body is, in all respects, as respectable as any that have been presented to me. The resolutions I have merely heard read, and I therefore beg to be allowed an opportunity to make a short response in writing.
These expressions were not confined to the religious bodies; they came to the President from all quarters. His sense of this sympathy on the part of those engaged in the educational interest was expressed in a letter which he wrote on learning that Princeton College had given him the degree of LL.D. The letter was as follows:—