Imágenes de páginas

And thus the lowly-born son of the Western pioneer sat down in the presidential chair of a great Republic, -a seat more honorable than any throne on earth. The conirast between his humble home in early life and this

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

high position is seen in the sketch thus purposely {ivel of the imposing ceremonies of inauguration. Well Dight the eloquent statesman* add, after mentioning Cesar, William of Orange, and Henry IV. of France, all of whom were assassinated, “his star will not pale by the side of theirs. ... These are illustrious names; but there is nothing in them which can eclipse the simple life of our President, whose example will be an epoch in the history of humanity, and a rebuke to every usurper, to be commemorated forever by history and by song. 'I called thee from the sheep-cot to be ruler over Israel,' said the Lord to David; and whoever is thus called is more than Cæsar. Such an appointment was his; and his simple devotion to human rights was more than genius or power."

Hon. Charles Sumnor.



“ We wait beneath the furnace-blast

The pangs of transformation:
Not painlessly doth God recast
And mould anew the nation.

Hot burns the fire
Where wrongs expire ;
Nor spares the hand

That from the land
Uproots the ancient evil."


“I am for peace; but, when I speak, they are for war.” – Ps. cxx. 7.

THE “Quaker drop" showed itself in the inaugural address of the new President. The blood of a pious and peaceful ancestry coursed along the veins of him whom God had called to be the head of a great nation in its most troublous times : with a prescience belonging to that inheritance, he saw the gathering cloud, and heard the thunders of war. Yet he would fain stay the glittering bolt of destiny, and, if possible, forbid the clashing of contending steel. Hence the deprecatory tone of his first inaugural; the evident desire for peace, that shone, like the golden symbol of the descending Spirit, in the illuminated missals of other days. But it was unavailing. The soft utterances of peace were drowned in the noisy clamors of war; and the closing paragraph of that inaug. ural address was, even more than its author knew, the very voice of prophecy. Only a few short months, and " the mystic cords of memory” did stretch from many a " battle-field and patriot grave" to living hearts and


hearth-stones all over our broad land; and at the close of the mighty conflict, from his own grave — the grave of a martyr — was to come a voice pleading with humanity for liberty and righteousness. But we will not antici. pate.

Mr. Lincoln's first act was to choose a Cabinet. This he did with his usual discrimination; and though the lapse of time and changing course of events led to changes in the Cabinet, yet none are willing to impeach the wisdom which selected the first set of Cabinet-officers. For the important position of Secretary of State, William H. Seward of New York was selected; Salmon P. Chase of Ohio was placed in charge of the Treasury Department; Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania became Secretary of War; Gideon Welles of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Caleb B. Smith of Indiana, Secretary of the Interior; Montgomery Blair of Maryland was appointed Postmaster-General; and Edward Bates of Missouri, Atturney-General.

As every reader of to-day knows, the Southern States manifested a rebellious spirit long before Lincoln filled the chair of Washington. Had the imbecile Buchanan but possessed the old Roman spirit of one of his predecessors, he would have shown that he had a "backbone,” and taken a Jacksonian share of the “responsibility" in using measures that would have crushed the viper in the egg. But the pusillanimous policy adopted just suited the “let-me-alone " theory of the Southern secessionists ; and so the infamous Floyd could steal our arms, and the double-dyed traitor, Robert E. Lee, could linger in our ranks till he had possessed himself of Gen. Scott's plans, and then desert to the enemy, thenceforth to use his knowledge in an effort to overthrow the best Gov. ernment the world ever saw, and place a man, who dis

graced the name of a former President of our Republic, on a throne, the corner-stone of whose tottering pedestal was human slavery. And thus Buchanan made the way rough and hard for Lincoln. But the hour and the man were ready for each other. The President went calmly forward. “Coming to the presidency pre-occupied by the traditional theories and opinions of the political school in which he was educated, he devoted himself with a purpose single and exclusive to the practical interpretation of events, to the study of those lessons taught by the experience through which the country was called to pass; and learning, in common with a majority of his countrymen, in the strifes and agonies of the Rebellion, by the lurid glare of the fires of treason and of civil war, how to accommodate opinion to the altered relations of States, interests, and sections of the people, he marched, side by side with the advancing hosts of the best and most discerning, in the direction where Divine Providence pointed the way."*

Yet he could not conscientiously counsel war at first. His inaugural was an olive-branch vainly held out to hands that would not receive it. Then came a pause after its utterance. It was the lull before the storm; the portentous calm that precedes the burst of the tor. nado. “ Since the close of the Revolutionary struggle, no man had seen in the free States any other banner floating over a regiment of our people than the stars and stripes: though the waves of party-spirit bad often run mountain-high, and we had seemed just on the brink of disruption and civil war, yet the dreaded collision had always been somehow averted, and the moment of fiercest excitement, of wildest alienation, had often been the im

. Gov. Androw's Address.

[ocr errors]


mediate precursor of a halcyon era of reconciliation, peaco, and fraternal harmony. It was not easy for Northern men, especially those who never visited and sojourned at the South, to comprehend and realize the wide preva. lence and intensity of anti-national sentiment and feeling in those localities whose social order, industry and business, were entirely based on slavery. Neither envy. ing nor hating the Southerners while lamenting their delusions and restricting their exactions, it was hard indeed for many, if not most, of the citizens of the free States to realize that we stood on the brink of a volcano whose rumbling precluded an eruption of blood as well as ashes." But the country seemed unprepared for war in every

Jefferson Davis and John B. Floyd had directed the War Department for eight years with an eye to Southern supremacy. Most of our little army had been or. dered to Texas, where it was placed under command of the rebel general Twiggs, who soon betrayed it into the hands of his fellow-traitors. Floyd had acted the part of a thief in transferring arms and ammunition from Northern to Southern arsenals; and the larger and better portion of our little navy had been scattered over distant seas. Now, the South desired to gain entire possession of the forts along her shores, and thus obtain means to defy the North when it would collect the revenue that it should receive from vessels entering Southern ports. This, President Lincoln could not allow.

Yet he was slow to declare war. He could not, until it seemed unavoidable, imbrue his hands in a brother's blood. Hear his own words in reference to the Mexican War, spoken while a member of Congress : “Now, sir,

• Grooloy's “ History of the American Conflict," p. 429.

« AnteriorContinuar »