« AnteriorContinuar »
nificent reason, his understanding, his conscience, his tenderness, and kindness, his heart, rather than love, he approximated as nearly as most human beings in this imperfect state to an embodiment of the great moral principle, 'Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you.'”
Thousands of the brave men who honoured and loved Abraham Lincoln sleep on Southern soil. They went down to the graves of heroes from a thousand battlefields, through four long, bloody, dreadful years; and no heart throbbed with truer sympathy for them in their sufferings than the heart of the President; and no eyes shed hotter tears for their loss than his. And when the nation's offering was complete, and there were no more human sacrifices to be laid upon the altar of liberty on gory fields, and the country was jubilant over the final victory and the return of peace, the chieftain himself was added to the hecatomb of loyal men, the tears and lamentations of a loving and afflicted people consecrating the unparalleled sacrifice !
Well may the Grand Army of the Republic cherish the memory of their heroic leader, whose thoughts were ever with them on the field of conflict. How ring his beautiful words, “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature !”
HIS WORK FOR THE COLOURED RACE.
DRESIDENT LINCOLN'S life in the White House I was distinguished by his work for the coloured race. So providential and important were his relations to both free and enslaved negroes, that justice could not be done to him or the subject without a separate exhibit of his work for them. He was not only “The Saviour of His Country," but, also, “The Liberator of a Race.” While his great purpose was to save the Union, giving freedom to the slaves became absolutely necessary. He expressed his views in the following clear, forcible, and characteristic way, after three years of war :
“I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not see, think, and feel that it was wrong, and yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. . .. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had tried to preserve the Constitution, if, to preserve slavery or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of the government, country, and Constitution altogether. ... I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the nation's condition is not what either party or any man devised or expected ; God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills, also, that we of the North as well as you of the South shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.”
His memorable letter to Horace Greeley contained the following passages, which will appear more and more remarkable as the ages roll on :
“If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them.
“If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.
“My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery.
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it--if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it -and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.
" What I do about slavery and the coloured race, I do because it helps to save the Union ; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.
“I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the cause.
" I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views as fast as they appear to be true views.
“ I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”
For independent thought, invincible purpose, clearness of expression, model composition, and lofty sentiment, the foregoing was never excelled by American statesmen.
With these principles and aims, Mr. Lincoln grappled with slavery—the real cause of the Rebellion-and, finally, enlisted nearly two hundred thousand negroes as soldiers in the Union army, and gave liberty to every slave in the land.
Sojourner Truth was introduced to Mr. Lincoln as having “come all the way from Michigan to see you."
"I am very much pleased to see you,” responded Mr. Lincoln, rising from his seat, and shaking the old lady's hand cordially. “Take a seat.”
“Mr. President," replied Sojourner, “when you first took your seat I feared you would be torn to pieces, for I likened you unto Daniel, who was thrown into the lions' den; and if the lions did not tear you in pieces, I knew that it would be God that had saved you; and I said if He spared me I would see you before the four years expired, and He has done so, and now I am here to see you for myself.”
"I am truly glad that you have been spared to see this day," answered Mr. Lincoln.
“I appreciate you, for you are the best President who has ever taken his seat,” added the old lady.
“I suppose you refer to the emancipation of your race," responded the President.
For half-an-hour the conversation continued with as much cordiality and politeness on the part of the President as he would have shown to the most refined white woman in Washington.
At one time he learned that Frederick Douglas, the distinguished ex-slave, was in Washington; and he sent his carriage to his boarding-place, with the message : “Come up and take tea with me."
Mr. Douglas accepted the invitation; and, for the first time in the history of our country, a coloured man became an invited guest in the Executive Mansion. Mr. Douglas said of that interview, subsequently :
“Mr. Lincoln is one of the few white men I ever passed an hour with, who failed to remind me in some way, before the interview terminated, that I am a negro."
The children of Concord, Mass., sent a memorial to him, praying for the freedom of all slave children. He replied to it as follows :
“Tell those little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has; and that, as it seems, He wills to do it.”
A citizen of Washington entered the President's office one day, and found him counting greenbacks.
“This is something out of my usual line," Mr. Lincoln remarked; “but a President of the United States has a multitude of duties not specified in the Constitution or acts of Congress.”
The gentleman responded courteously, hinting that he would like to know what special duty was connected with that pile of greenbacks.
“This money belongs to a poor negro, who is a porter in the Treasury Department, at present very sick with the small-pox. He is now in the Hospital, and could not draw his pay because he could not sign his name. I have been to considerable trouble in overcoming the difficulty, and getting it for him, and cutting red tape, as you newspaper men say. I am now dividing the money, and putting by a portion, labelled, in an envelope, with my own hands, according to his wish.” Thus the kind-hearted man had turned aside from grave official duties to assist and comfort one of the humblest of God's creatures in his sufferings and sorrow.
A delegation of coloured men from Louisiana waited upon the President to ask for some additional rights.
“I regret, gentlemen, that you are not able to secure all your rights, and that circumstances will not permit