Part 12 out of 13
the effect that "Our Country, united and Free, must be saved, at
whatever hazard or cost; and nothing, not even the Constitution, must be
allowed to hold back the uplifted arm of the Government in blasting the
power of the Rebels forever;"--and upon this, adopting the language of
another--[Judge Thomas, of Massachusetts.]--Mr. Cox declared that "to
make this a War, with the sword in one hand to defend the Constitution,
and a hammer in the other to break it to pieces, is no less treasonable
than Secession itself; and that, outside the pale of the Constitution,
the whole struggle is revolutionary."
He thought, for such words as he had just quoted, Julian ought to have
been expelled, if those of Long justified expulsion!
Finally, being pressed by Julian to define his own position, as between
the Life of the Nation, and the Infraction of the United States
Constitution, Mr. Cox said: "I will say this, that UNDER NO
CIRCUMSTANCES CONCEIVABLE BY THE HUMAN MIND WOULD I EVER VIOLATE THAT
CONSTITUTION FOR ANY PURPOSE!"
This sentiment was loudly applauded, and received with cries of "THAT IS
IT!" "THAT'S IT!" by the Democratic side of the House, apparently in
utter contempt for the express and emphatic declaration of Jefferson
that: "A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the
highest duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws
of Necessity, of Self-preservation, of SAVING OUR COUNTRY WHEN IN
DANGER, are of higher obligation. To LOSE OUR COUNTRY by a scrupulous
adherence to written law WOULD BE TO LOSE THE LAW ITSELF, with Life,
Liberty, Property, and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus
absolutely SACRIFICING THE END TO THE MEANS."
[In a letter to J. B. Colvin, Sept. 20, 1810, quoted at the time
for their information, and which may be found at page 542 of vol.
v., of Jefferson's Works.]
Indeed these extreme sticklers for the letter of the Constitution, who
would have sacrificed Country, kindred, friends, honesty, truth, and all
ambitions on Earth and hopes for Heaven, rather than violate it--for
that is what Mr. Cox's announcement and the Democratic endorsement of it
meant, if they meant anything--were of the same stripe as those
querulous Ancients, for the benefit of whom the Apostle wrote: "For THE
LETTER KILLETH, but the Spirit giveth life."
And now, inspired apparently by the reckless utterances
of Long, if not by the more cautious diatribe of Cox, Harris of
Maryland, determining if possible to outdo them all, not only declared
that he was willing to go with his friend Long wherever the House chose
to send him, but added: "I am a peace man, a radical peace man; and I am
for Peace by the recognition of the South, for the recognition of the
Southern Confederacy; and I am for acquiescence in the doctrine of
Secession." And, said he, in the midst of the laughter which followed
the sensation his treasonable words occasioned, "Laugh as you may, you
have got to come to it!" And then, with that singular obfuscation of
ideas engendered, in the heads of their followers, by the astute
Rebel-sympathizing leaders, he went on:
"I am for Peace, and I am for Union too. I am as good a Union man as
any of you. [Laughter.] I am a better Union man than any of you!
[Great Laughter.] * * * I look upon War as Disunion."
After declaring that, if the principle of the expulsion Resolution was
to be carried out, his "friend," Mr. Long, "would be a martyr in a
glorious cause"--he proceeded to announce his own candidacy for
expulsion, in the following terms:
"Mr. Speaker, in the early part of this Secession movement, there was a
Resolution offered, pledging men and money to carry on the War. My
principles were then, and are now, against the War. I stood, solitary
and alone, in voting against that Resolution, and whenever a similar
proposition is brought here it will meet with my opposition. Not one
dollar, nor one man, I swear, by the Eternal, will I vote for this
infernal, this stupendous folly, more stupendous than ever disgraced any
civilized People on the face of God's Earth. If that be Treason, make
the most of it!
"The South asked you to let them go in peace. But no, you said you
would bring them into subjugation. That is not done yet, and God
Almighty grant that it never may be. I hope that you will never
subjugate the South. If she is to be ever again in the Union, I hope it
will be with her own consent; and I hope that that consent will be
obtained by some other mode than by the sword. 'If this be Treason,
make the most of it!'"
An extraordinary scene at once occurred--Mr. Tracy desiring "to know
whether, in these Halls, the gentleman from Maryland invoked Almighty
God that the American Arms should not prevail?" "Whether such language
is not Treason?" and "whether it is in order to talk Treason in this
Hall?"--his patriotic queries being almost drowned in the incessant
cries of "Order!" "Order!" and great disorder, and confusion, on the
Democratic side of the House.
Finally the treasonable language was taken down by the Clerk, and, while
a Resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Harris was being written out, Mr.
Fernando Wood--coming, as he said, from a bed of "severe sickness,"
quoted the language used by Mr. Long, to wit:
"I now believe there are but two alternatives, and they are either the
acknowledgment of the Independence of the South as an independent
Nation, or their complete subjugation and extermination as a People; and
of these alternatives I prefer the former"--and declared that "if he is
to be expelled for the utterance of that sentiment, you may include me
in it, because I concur fully in that sentiment."
[He afterwards (April 11,) said he did not agree with Mr. Long's
Every effort was unavailingly made by the Democrats, under the lead of
Messrs. Cox--[In 1886 American Minister at Constantinople.]--and
Pendleton,--[In 1886 American Minister at Berlin.]--to prevent action
upon the new Resolution of expulsion, which was in these words:
"Whereas, Hon. Benjamin G. Harris, a member of the House of
Representatives of the United States from the State of Maryland, has on
this day used the following language, to wit: 'The South asked you to
let them go in peace. But no; you said you would bring them into
subjection. That is not done yet, and God Almighty grant that it never
may be. I hope that you will never subjugate the South.' And whereas,
such language is treasonable, and is a gross disrespect of this House:
Therefore, 'Be it Resolved, That the said Benjamin G. Harris be expelled
from this House.'"
Upon reaching a vote, however, the Resolution was lost, there being only
81 yeas, to 58 (Democratic) nays--two-thirds not having voted
affirmatively. Subsequently, despite Democratic efforts to obstruct, a
Resolution, declaring Harris to be "an unworthy Member" of the House,
and "severely" censuring him, was adopted.
The debate upon the Long-expulsion Resolution now proceeded, and its
mover, in view of the hopelessness of securing a two-thirds affirmative
vote, having accepted an amendment comprising other two Resolutions and
a Preamble, the question upon adopting these was submitted on the 14th
of April. They were in the words following:
"Whereas, ALEXANDER LONG, a Representative from the second district of
Ohio, by his open declarations in the National Capitol, and publications
in the City of New York, has shown himself to be in favor of a
recognition of the so-called Confederacy now trying to establish itself
upon the ruins of our Country, thereby giving aid and comfort to the
Enemy in that destructive purpose--aid to avowed Traitors, in creating
an illegal Government within our borders, comfort to them by assurances
of their success and affirmations of the justice of their Cause; and
whereas, such conduct is at the same time evidence of disloyalty, and
inconsistent with his oath of office, and his duty as a Member of this
"Resolved, That the said Alexander Long, a Representative from the
second district of Ohio, be, and he is hereby declared to be an unworthy
Member of the House of Representatives.
"Resolved, That the Speaker shall read these Resolutions to the said
Alexander Long during the session of the House."
The first of these Resolutions was adopted, by 80 yeas to 69 nays; the
second was tabled, by 71 yeas to 69 nays; and the Preamble was agreed
to, by 78 yeas to 63 nays.
And, among the 63 Democrats, who were not only unwilling to declare
Alexander Long "an unworthy Member," or to have the Speaker read such a
declaration to him in a session of the House, but also refused by their
votes even to intimate that his conduct evidenced disloyalty, or gave
aid and comfort to the Enemy, were the names of such democrats as Cox,
Eldridge, Holman, Kernan, Morrisson, Pendleton, Samuel J. Randall,
Voorhees, and Fernando Wood.
Hence Mr. Long not only escaped expulsion for his treasonable
utterances, but did not even receive the "severe censure" which, in
addition to being declared (like himself) "an unworthy Member," had been
voted to Mr. Harris for recklessly rushing into the breach to help him!
[The Northern Democracy comprised two well-recognized classes: The
Anti-War (or Peace) Democrats, commonly called "Copperheads," who
sympathized with the Rebellion, and opposed the War for the Union;
and the War (or Union) Democrats, who favored a vigorous
prosecution of the War for the preservation of the Union.]
"THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT" DEFEATED IN THE HOUSE.
The debate in the House of Representatives, upon the Thirteenth
Amendment to the Constitution--interrupted by the treasonable episode
referred to in the last Chapter--was subsequently resumed.
Meanwhile, however, Fort Pillow had been stormed, and its garrison of
Whites and Blacks, massacred.
And now commenced the beginning of the end-so far as the Military aspect
of the Rebellion was concerned. Early in May, Sherman's Atlanta
Campaign commenced, and, simultaneously, General Grant began his
movement toward Richmond. In quick succession came the news of the
bloody battles of the Wilderness, and those around Spottsylvania, Va.;
at Buzzard Roost Gap, Snake Creek Gap, and Dalton, Ga.; Drury's Bluff,
Va.; Resaca, Ga.; the battles of the North Anna, Va.; those around
Dallas, and New Hope church, Ga; the crossing of Grant's forces to the
South side of the James and the assault on Petersburg. While the Union
Armies were thus valiantly attacking and beating those of the Rebels, on
many a sanguinary field the loyal men of the North, both in and out of
Congress, pressed for favorable action upon the Thirteenth Amendment.
"Friends of the wounded in Fredericksburg from the Battle of the
Wilderness"--exclaimed Horace Greeley in the New York Tribune, of May
31st,--"friends and relatives of the soldiers of Grant's Army beyond the
Wilderness, let us all join hands and swear upon our Country's altar
that we will never cease this War until African Slavery in the United
States is dead forever, and forever buried!"
Peace Democrats, however, were deaf to all such entreaties. On the very
same day, Mr. Holman, in the House, objected even to the second reading
of the Joint Resolution Amendatory of the Constitution, and there were
so many "Peace Democrats" to back him, that the vote was: 55 yeas to 76
nays, on the question "shall the Joint Resolution be rejected!"
The old cry, that had been repeated by Hendricks and others, in the
Senate and House, time and again, was still used--threadbare though it
was--"this is not the right time for it!" On this very day, for
instance, Mr. Herrick said: "I ask if this is the proper time for our
People to consider so grave a measure as the Amendment of the
Constitution in so vital a point? * * * this is no fitting time for
Very different was the attitude of Kellogg, of New York, and well did he
show up the depths to which the Democracy--the Peace Democracy--had now
fallen. "We are told," said he, "of a War Democracy, and such there
are--their name is legion--good men and true; they are found in the
Union ranks bearing arms in support of the Government and the
Administration that wields it. At the ballot-box, whether at home or in
the camp, they are Union men, and vote as they fight, and hold little in
common with the political leaders of the Democratic Party in or out of
this Hall--the Seymours, the Woods, the Vallandighams, the Woodwards,
and their indorsers, who hold and control the Democratic Party here, and
taint it with Treason, till it is a stench in the nostrils of all
After referring to the fact that the leaders of the Rebellion had from
the start relied confidently upon assistance from the Northern
Democracy, he proceeded:
"The Peace Democracy, and mere Party-hacks in the North, are fulfilling
their masters' expectations industriously, unceasingly, and as far as in
them lies. Not even the shouts for victory, in these Halls, can divert
their Southern allies here. A sullen gloom at the defeat and
discomfiture of their Southern brethren settles down on their disastrous
countenances, from which no ray of joy can be reflected. * * * They
even vote solid against a law to punish guerrillas.
"Sir," continued he, "in my judgment, many of those who withhold from
their Country the support they would otherwise give, find allegiance to
Party too strong for their patriotism. * * * Rejecting the example and
counsels of Stanton and Dickinson and Butler and Douglas and Dix and
Holt and Andrew Johnson and Logan and Rosecrans and Grant and a host of
others, all Democrats of the straightest sect, to forget all other ties,
and cleave only to their Country for their Country's sake, and rejecting
the overtures and example of the Republican Party to drop and forget
their Party name, that all might unite and band together for their
Country's salvation as Union men, they turn a deaf ear and cold
shoulder, and sullenly pass by on the other side, thanking God they are
not as other men are, and lend, if at all, a calculating, qualified, and
conditional and halting support, under protest, to their Country's
cause; thus justifying the only hope of the Rebellion to-day, that Party
spirit at the North will distract its counsels, divide and discourage
and palsy its efforts, and ultimately make way for the Traitor and the
parricide to do their worst."
Besides the set speeches made against the proposed
Constitutional amendment in the House, Peace-Democrats of the Senate
continued to keep up a running fire at it in that Chamber, on every
possible occasion. Garrett Davis was especially garrulous on the
subject, and also launched the thunders of his wrath at the President
quite frequently and even vindictively. For instance, speaking in the
Senate--[May 31,1864,]--of the right of Property in Slaves; said he:
"This new-born heresy 'Military Necessity,' as President Lincoln claims,
and exercises it, is the sum of all political and Military villainies
* * * and it is no less absurd than it is villainous. * * * The man
has never spoken or lived who can prove by any provision of the
Constitution, or by any principle, or by any argument to be deduced
logically and fairly from it, that he has any such power as this vast,
gigantic, all-conquering and all-crushing power of Military Necessity
which he has the audacity to claim.
"This modern Emperor, this Tiberius, a sort of a Tiberius, and his
Sejanus, a sort of a Sejanus, the head of the War Department, are
organizing daily their Military Courts to try civilians. * * *
"Sir, I want one labor of love before I die. I want the President of
the United States, I want his Secretary of War, I want some of his high
officers in Military command to bring a civilian to a Military
execution, and me to have the proud privilege of prosecuting them for
murder. * * * I want the law and its just retribution to be visited
upon these great delinquents.
"I would sooner, if I had the power, bring about such an atonement as
that, than I would even put down the Rebellion. It would be a greater
victory in favor of Freedom and Constitutional Liberty, a thousand-fold,
of all the People of America besides, than the subjugation of the Rebel
States could possibly be."
But there seemed to be no end to the' attacks upon the Administration,
made, in both Houses, by these peculiar Peace-Democrats. Union blood
might flow in torrents on the fields of the rebellious South, atrocities
innumerable might be committed by the Rebels, cold-blooded massacres of
Blacks and Whites, as at Fort Pillow, might occur without rebuke from
them; but let the Administration even dare to sneeze, and--woe to the
It was not the Thirteenth Amendment only, that they assailed, but
everything else which the Administration thought might help it in its
effort to put down the Rebellion. Nor was it so much their malignant
activity in opposition to any one measure intended to strengthen the
hands of the Union, but to all such measures; and superadded to this was
the incessant bringing forward, in both Houses of Congress, by these
restless Rebel-sympathizers, of Peace-Resolutions, the mere presentation
of which would be, and were, construed by the Rebel authorities at
Richmond, as evidences of a weakening.
Even some of the best of the Peace-Democrats, like S. S. Cox, for
instance, not only assailed the Tariff--under which the Union Republican
Party sought to protect and build up American Industry, as well as to
raise as much revenue as possible to help meet the enormous current
expenditures of the Government--but also denounced our great paper-money
system, which alone enabled us to secure means to meet all deficiencies
in the revenues otherwise obtained, and thus to ultimately conquer the
hosts of Rebellion.
He declared (June 2, 1864) that "The People are the victims of the
joint-robbery of a system of bounties under the guise of duties, and of
an inconvertible and depreciated paper currency under the guise of
money," and added: "No man is now so wise and gifted that he can save
this Nation from bankruptcy. * * * No borrowing system can save us.
The scheme of making greenbacks a legal tender, which enabled the debtor
to cheat his creditor, thereby playing the old game of kingcraft, to
debase the currency in order to aid the designs of despotism, may float
us for a while amidst the fluctuations and bubbles of the day; but as no
one possesses the power to repeal the Law of the Almighty, which decrees
(and as our Constitution has established) that gold and silver shall be
the standard of value in the World, so they will ever thus remain,
notwithstanding the legislation of Congress."
Not satisfied with this sort of "fire in the rear," it was attempted by
means of Democratic Free-Trade and antipaper-currency sophistries, to
arouse jealousies, heart-burnings and resentful feelings in the breasts
of those living in different parts of the Union--to implant bitter
Sectional antagonisms and implacable resentments between the Eastern
States, on the one hand, and the Western States, on the other--and thus,
by dividing, to weaken the Loyal Union States.
That this was the cold-blooded purpose of all who pursued this course,
would no doubt be warmly denied by some of them; but the fact remains no
less clear, that the effect of that course, whether so intended or not,
was to give aid and comfort to the Enemy at that critical time when the
Nation most needed all the men, money, and moral as well as material
support, it was possible to get, to put an end to the bloody Rebellion,
now--under the continuous poundings of Grant's Army upon that of Lee in
Virginia, and the advance of Sherman's Army upon that of Johnston in
Georgia--tottering to its overthrow. Thus this same speaker (S. S. Cox),
in his untimely speech, undertook to divide the Union-loving States
"into two great classes: the Protected States and the Unprotected
States;" and--having declared that "The Manufacturing States, mainly the
New England States and Pennsylvania, are the Protected States," and "The
Agricultural States," mainly the eleven Western States, which he named,
"are the Unprotected States"--proceeded to intemperately and violently
arraign New England, and especially Massachusetts, in the same way that
had years before been adopted by the old Conspirators of the South when
they sought--alas, too successfully!--to inflame the minds of Southern
citizens to a condition of unreasoning frenzy which made attempted
Nullification and subsequent armed Rebellion and Secession possible.
Well might the thoroughly loyal Grinnell, of Iowa--after exposing what
he termed the "sophistry of figures" by which Mr. Cox had seen fit "to
misrepresent and traduce" the Western States-exclaim: "Sir, I have no
words which I can use to execrate sufficiently such language, in
arraying the Sections in opposition during a time of War; as if we were
not one People, descended from one stock, having one interest, and bound
up in one destiny!"
The damage that might have been done to the Union Cause by such
malignant Democratic attacks upon the National unity and strength, may
be imagined when we reflect that at this very time the annual expenses
of our Government were over $600,000,000, and growing still larger; and
that $1.90 in legal tender notes of the United States was worth but
$1.00 in gold, with a downward tendency. Said stern old Thaddeus
Stevens, alluding on this occasion, to Statesmanship of the peculiar
stamp of the Coxes and Fernando Woods: "He who in this time will pursue
such a course of argument for the mere sake of party, can never hope to
be ranked among Statesmen; nay, Sir, he will not even rise to the
dignity of a respectable Demagogue!"
Within a week after this, (June 9, 1864), we find in the Senate also,
similarly insidious attacks upon the strength of the Government, made by
certain Northern Democrats, who never tired of undermining Loyalty, and
creating and spreading discontent among the People. The Bill then up,
for consideration, was one "to prohibit the discharge of persons from
liability to Military duty, by reason of the payment of money."
In the terribly bloody Campaign that had now been entered upon by Grant
--in the West, under Sherman, and in the East, under his own personal
eye--it was essential to send to the front, every man possible. Hence
the necessity for a Bill of this sort, which moreover provided, in order
as far as possible to popularize conscription, that all calls for drafts
theretofore made under the Enrolling Act of March 3, 1863, should be for
not over one year's service, etc.
This furnished the occasion for Mr. Hendricks, among other Peace
Democrats, to make opposing speeches. He, it seems, had all along been
opposed to drafting Union soldiers; and because, during the previous
Winter, the Senate had been unwilling to abolish the clause permitting a
drafted man to pay a commutation of $300 (with which money a substitute
could be procured) instead of himself going, at a time when men were not
quite so badly needed as now, therefore Mr. Hendricks pretended to think
it very strange and unjustifiable that now, when everything depended on
getting every possible man in the field, the Senate should think of
"abandoning that which it thought right last Winter!"
He opposed drafting; but if drafting must be resorted to, then he
thought that what he termed "the Horror of the Draft" should be felt by
as many of the Union people as possible!--or, in his own words: "the
Horror of the Draft ought to be divided among the People." As if this
were not sufficient to conjure dreadful imaginings, he added: "if one
set of men are drafted this year to serve twelve months, and they have
to go because the power of the Government makes them go, whether they
can go well or not, then at the end of the year their neighbors should
be subjected to the same Horror, and let this dreadful demand upon the
service, upon the blood, and upon the life of the People be distributed
And, in order apparently to still further intensify public feeling
against all drafting, and sow the seeds of dissatisfaction in the hearts
of those drafted at this critical time, when the fate of the Union and
of Republican Government palpably depended upon conscription, he added:
"It is not so right to say to twenty men in a neighborhood: 'You shall
go; you shall leave your families whether you can or not; you shall go
without the privilege of commutation whether you leave starving wives
and children behind you or not,' and then say to every other man of the
neighborhood: 'Because we have taken these twenty men for three years,
you shall remain with your wives and children safely and comfortably at
home for these three years.' I like this feature of the amendment,
because it distributes the Horror of the Draft more equally and justly
over the whole People."
Not satisfied with rolling the "Horror of the Draft" so often and
trippingly over his tongue, he also essayed the role of Prophet in the
interest of the tottering god of Slavery. "The People," said he,
"expect great results from this Campaign; and when another year comes
rolling around, and it is found that this War is not closed, and that
there is no reasonable probability of its early close, my colleague
(Lane) and other Senators who agree with him will find that the People
will say that this effusion of blood must stop; that THERE MUST BE SOME
ADJUSTMENT. I PROPHESY THIS."
And, as a further declaration likely to give aid and comfort to the
Rebel leaders, he said: "I do not believe many men are going to be
obtained by a draft; I do not believe a very good Army will be got by a
draft; I do not believe an Army will be put in the field, by a draft,
that will whip General Lee."
But while all such statements were, no doubt, intended to help the foes
of the Union, and dishearten or dismay its friends, the really loyal
People, understanding their fell object, paid little heed to them. The
predictions of these Prophets of evil fell flat upon the ears of lovers
of their Country. Conspirators, however much they might masquerade in
the raiment of Loyalty, could not wholly conceal the ear-marks of
Treason. The hand might be the hand of Esau, but the voice was the
voice of Jacob.
On the 8th of June--after a month of terrific and bloody fighting
between the immediate forces of Grant and Lee--a dispatch from Sherman,
just received at Washington, was read to the House of Representatives,
which said: "The Enemy is not in our immediate front, but his signals
are seen at Lost Mountain, and Kenesaw." So, at the same time, at the
National Capital, while the friends of the Union there, were not
immediately confronted with an armed Enemy, yet the signals of his
Allies could be seen, and their fire upon our rear could be heard, daily
and almost hourly, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The fight in the House, upon the Thirteenth Amendment, now seemed
indeed, to be reaching a climax. During the whole of June 14th, until
midnight, speech after speech on the subject, followed each other in
rapid succession. Among the opposition speeches, perhaps those of
Fernando Wood and Holman were most notable for extravagant and
unreasoning denunciation of the Administration and Party in power--whose
every effort was put forth, and strained at this very time to the
utmost, to save the Union.
Holman, for instance, declared that, "Of all the measures of this
disastrous Administration, each in its turn producing new calamities,
this attempt to tamper with the Constitution threatens the most
permanent injury." He enumerated the chief measures of the
Administration during its three and a half years of power-among them the
Emancipation Proclamation, the arming of the Blacks, and what he
sneeringly termed "their pet system of finance" which was to "sustain
the public credit for infinite years," but which "even now," said he,
"totters to its fall!" And then, having succeeded in convincing himself
of Republican failure, he exultingly exclaimed: "But why enumerate?
What measure of this Administration has failed to be fatal! Every step
in your progress has been a mistake. I use the mildest terms of
Fernando Wood, in his turn also, "mildly" remarked upon Republican
policy as "the bloody and brutal policy of the Administration Party."
He considered this "the crisis of the fate of the Union;" declared that
Slavery was "the best possible condition to insure the happiness of the
Negro race"--a position which, on the following day, he "reaffirmed"
--and characterized those members of the Democratic Party who saw Treason
in the ways and methods and expressions of Peace Democrats of his own
stamp, as a "pack of political jackals known as War Democrats."
On the 15th of June, Farnsworth made a reply to Ross--who had claimed to
be friendly to the Union soldier--in which the former handled the
Democratic Party without gloves. "What," said he, referring to Mr.
Ross, "has been the course of that gentleman and his Party on this floor
in regard to voting supplies to the Army? What has been their course in
regard to raising money to pay the Army? His vote will be found
recorded in almost every instance against the Appropriation Bills,
against ways and means for raising money to pay the Army. It is only a
week ago last Monday, that a Bill was introduced here to punish
guerrillas * * * and how did my colleague vote? Against the Bill.* * *
On the subject of arming Slaves, of putting Negroes into the Army, how
has my colleague and his Party voted? Universally against it. They
would strip from the backs of these Black soldiers, now in the service
of the Country, their uniforms, and would send them back to Slavery with
chains and manacles. And yet they are the friends of the soldier!"* * *
"On the vote to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law, how did that (Democratic)
side of the House vote? Does not the Fugitive Slave Law affect the
Black soldier in the Army who was a Slave? That side of the House are
in favor of continuing the Fugitive Slave Law, and of disbanding Colored
troops. How did that side of the House vote on the question of arming
Slaves and paying them as soldiers? They voted against it. They are in
favor of disbanding the Colored regiments, and, armed with the Fugitive
Slave Law, sending them back to their masters!"
He took occasion also to meet various Democratic arguments against the
Resolution,--among them, one, hinging on the alleged right of Property
in Slaves. This was a favorite idea with the Border-State men
especially, that Slaves were Property--mere chattels as it were,--and,
only the day before, a Northern man, Coffroth of Pennsylvania, had said:
"Sir, we should pause before proceeding any further in this
Unconstitutional and censurable legislation. The mere abolition of
Slavery is not my cause of complaint. I care not whether Slavery is
retained or abolished by the people of the States in which it exists
--the only rightful authority. The question to me is, has Congress a
right to take from the people of the South their Property; or, in other
words, having no pecuniary interest therein, are we justified in freeing
the Slave-property of others? Can we Abolish Slavery in the Loyal State
of Kentucky against her will? If this Resolution should pass, and be
ratified by three-fourths of the States--States already Free--and
Kentucky refuses to ratify it, upon what principle of right or law would
we be justified in taking this Slave-property of the people of Kentucky?
Would it be less than stealing?"
And Farnsworth met this idea--which had also been advanced by Messrs.
Ross, Fernando Wood, and Pruyn--by saying: "What constitutes property?
I know it is said by some gentlemen on the other side, that what the
statute makes property, is property. I deny it. What 'vested right'
has any man or State in Property in Man? We of the North hold property,
not by virtue of statute law, not by virtue of enactments. Our property
consists in lands, in chattels, in things. Our property was made
property by Jehovah when He gave Man dominion over it. But nowhere did
He give dominion of Man over Man. Our title extends back to the
foundation of the World. That constitutes property. There is where we
get our title. There is where we get our 'vested rights' to property."
Touching the ethics of Slavery, Mr. Arnold's speech on the same occasion
was also able, and in parts eloquent, as where he said: 'Slavery is
to-day an open enemy striking at the heart of the Republic. It is the
soul and body, the spirit and motive of the Rebellion. It is Slavery
which marshals yonder Rebel hosts, which confront the patriot Armies
of Grant and Sherman. It is the savage spirit of this barbarous
Institution which starves the Union prisoners at Richmond, which
assassinates them at Fort Pillow, which murders the wounded on the field
of battle, and which fills up the catalogue of wrong and outrage which
mark the conduct of the Rebels during all this War.
"In view of all the long catalogue of wrongs which Slavery has inflicted
upon the Country, I demand to-day, of the Congress of the United States,
the death of African Slavery. We can have no permanent Peace, while
Slavery lives. It now reels and staggers toward its last death-struggle.
Let us strike the monster this last decisive blow."
And, after appealing to both Border-State men, and Democrats of the Free
States, not to stay the passage of this Resolution which "will strike
the Rebellion at the heart," he continued: "Gentlemen may flatter
themselves with a restoration of the Slave-power in this Country. 'The
Union as it was!' It is a dream, never again to be realized. The
America of the past, has gone forever. A new Nation is to be born from
the agony through which the People are now passing. This new Nation is
to be wholly Free. Liberty, Equality before the Law, is to be the great
So, too, Mr. Ingersoll eloquently said--among many other good things:
--"It is well to eradicate an evil. That Slavery is an evil, no sane,
honest man will deny. It has been the great curse of this Country from
its infancy to the present hour, And now that the States in Rebellion
have given the Loyal States the opportunity to take off that curse, to
wipe away the foul stain, I say let it be done. We owe it to ourselves;
we owe it to posterity; we owe it to the Slaves themselves to
exterminate Slavery forever by the adoption of the proposed Amendment to
the Constitution. * * * I believe Slavery is the mother of this
Rebellion, that this Rebellion can be attributed to no other cause but
Slavery; from that it derived its life, and gathers its strength to-day.
Destroy the mother, and the child dies. Destroy the cause, and the
effect will disappear.
"Slavery has ever been the enemy of liberal principles. It has ever
been the friend of ignorance, prejudice, and all the unlawful, savage,
and detestable passions which proceed therefrom. It has ever been
domineering, arrogant, exacting, and overbearing. It has claimed to be
a polished aristocrat, when in reality it has only been a coarse,
swaggering, and brutal boor. It has ever claimed to be a gentleman,
when in reality it has ever been a villain. I think it is high time to
clip its overgrown pretensions, strip it of its mask, and expose it, in
all its hideous deformity, to the detestation of all honest and
After Mr. Samuel J. Randall had, at a somewhat later hour, pathetically
and poetically invoked the House, in its collective unity, as a
"Woodman," to "spare that tree" of the Constitution, and to "touch not a
single bough," because, among other reasons, "in youth it sheltered"
him; and furthermore, because "the time" was "most inopportune;" and,
after Mr. Rollins, of Missouri, had made a speech, which he afterward
suppressed; Mr. Pendleton closed the debate in an able effort, from his
point of view, in which he objected to the passage of the Joint
Resolution because "the time is not auspicious;" because, said he, "it
is impossible that the Amendment proposed, should be ratified without a
fraudulent use of the power to admit new States, or a fraudulent use of
the Military power of the Federal Government in the Seceded States,"
--and, said he, "if you should attempt to amend the Constitution by such
means, what binding obligation would it have?"
He objected, also, because "the States cannot, under the pretense of
amending the Constitution, subvert the structure, spirit, and theory of
this Government." "But," said he, "if this Amendment were within the
Constitutional power of amendment; if this were a proper time to
consider it; if three-fourths of the States were willing to ratify it;
and if it did not require the fraudulent use of power, either in this
House or in the Executive Department, to secure its adoption, I would
still resist the passage of this Resolution. It is another step toward
consolidation, and consolidation is Despotism; confederation is
It was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon of June 15th, that the House
came to a vote, on the passage of the Joint Resolution. At first the
strain of anxiety on both sides was great, but, as the roll proceeded,
it soon became evident that the Resolution was doomed to defeat. And so
it transpired. The vote stood 93 yeas, to 65 nays--Mr. Ashley having
changed his vote, from the affirmative to the negative, for the purpose
of submitting, at the proper time, a motion to reconsider.
That same evening, Mr. Ashley made the motion to reconsider the vote by
which the proposed Constitutional Amendment was rejected; and the motion
was duly entered in the Journal, despite the persistent efforts of
Messrs. Cox, Holman, and others, to prevent it.
On the 28th of June, just prior to the Congressional Recess, Mr. Ashley
announced that he had been disappointed in the hope of securing enough
votes from the Democratic side of the House to carry the Amendment.
"Those," said he, "who ought to have been the champions of this great
proposition are unfortunately its strongest opponents. They have
permitted the golden opportunity to pass. The record is made up, and we
must go to the Country on this issue thus presented." And then he gave
notice that he would call the matter up, at the earliest possible moment
after the opening of the December Session of Congress.
SLAVERY DOOMED AT THE POLLS.
The record was indeed made up, and the issue thus made, between Slavery
and Freedom, would be the chief one before the People. Already the
Republican National Convention, which met at Baltimore, June 7, 1864,
had not only with "enthusiastic unanimity," renominated Mr. Lincoln for
the Presidency, but amid "tremendous applause," the delegates rising and
waving their hats--had adopted a platform which declared, in behalf of
that great Party: "That, as Slavery was the cause, and now constitutes
the strength, of this Rebellion, and as it must be, always and
everywhere, hostile to the principles of Republican government, Justice
and the National safety demand its utter and complete extirpation from
the soil of the Republic; and that while we uphold and maintain the Acts
and Proclamations by which the Government, in its own defense, has aimed
a death-blow at this gigantic evil, we are in favor, furthermore, of
such an Amendment to the Constitution, to be made by the People in
conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and forever prohibit
the existence of Slavery within the limits or the jurisdiction of the
So, too, with vociferous plaudits, had they received and adopted another
Resolution, wherein they declared "That we approve and applaud the
practical wisdom, the unselfish patriotism and the unswerving fidelity
to the Constitution and the principles of American Liberty, with which
Abraham Lincoln has discharged, under circumstances of unparalleled
difficulty, the great duties and responsibilities of the Presidential
Office; that we approve and endorse, as demanded by the emergency, and
essential to the preservation of the Nation, and as within the
provisions of the Constitution; the Measures and Acts which he has
adopted to defend the Nation against its open and secret foes; that we
approve, especially, the Proclamation of Emancipation, and the
employment, as Union soldiers, of men heretofore held in Slavery; and
that we have full confidence in his determination to carry these and all
other Constitutional Measures essential to the salvation of the Country,
into full and complete effect."
Thus heartily, thoroughly and unreservedly, endorsed in all the great
acts of his Administration--and even more emphatically, if possible, in
his Emancipation policy--by the unanimous vote of his Party, Mr.
Lincoln, although necessarily "chagrined and disappointed" by the
House-vote which had defeated the Thirteenth Amendment, might well feel
undismayed. He always had implicit faith in the People; he felt sure
that they would sustain him; and this done, why could not the votes of a
dozen, out of the seventy Congressional Representatives opposing that
Amendment, be changed? Even failing in this, it must be but a question
of time. He thought he could afford to bide that time.
On the 29th of August, the Democratic National Convention met at
Chicago. Horatio Seymour was its permanent President; that same
Governor of New York whom the 4th of July, 1863, almost at the moment
when Vicksburg and Gettysburg had brought great encouragement to the
Union cause, and when public necessity demanded the enforcement of the
Draft in order to drive the Rebel invader from Northern soil and bring
the Rebellion speedily to an end--had threateningly said to the
Republicans, in the course of a public speech, during the Draft-riots at
New York City: "Remember this, that the bloody, and treasonable, and
revolutionary doctrine of public necessity can be proclaimed by a mob as
well as by a Government. * * * When men accept despotism, they may have
a choice as to who the despot shall be!"
In his speech to this Democratic-Copperhead National Convention,
therefore, it is not surprising that he should, at this time, declare
that "this Administration cannot now save this Union, if it would."
That the body which elected such a presiding officer,--after the bloody
series of glorious Union victories about Atlanta, Ga., then fast leading
up to the fall of that great Rebel stronghold, (which event actually
occurred long before most of these Democratic delegates, on their
return, could even reach their homes)--should adopt a Resolution
declaring that the War was a "failure," was not surprising either.
That Resolution--"the material resolution of the Chicago platform," as
Vallandigham afterward characters it, was written and "carried through
both the Subcommittee and the General Committee" by that Arch-Copperhead
and Conspirator himself.--[See his letter of October 22, 1864, to the
editor of the New York News,]
It was in these words: "Resolved, That this Convention does explicitly
declare as the sense of the American People, that after four years of
failure to restore the Union by the experiment of War, during which,
under the pretense of a military necessity, or War-power higher than the
Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every
part, and public Liberty and private right alike trodden down and the
material prosperity of the Country essentially impaired--Justice,
Humanity, Liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts
be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate
Convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that at
the earliest practicable moment Peace may be restored on the basis of
the Federal Union of the States."
With a Copperhead platform, this Democratic Convention thought it
politic to have a Union candidate for the Presidency. Hence, the
nomination of General McClellan; but to propitiate the out-and-out
Vallandigham Peace men, Mr. Pendleton was nominated to the second place
on the ticket.
This combination was almost as great a blunder as was the platform--than
which nothing could have been worse. Farragut's Naval victory at
Mobile, and Sherman's capture of Atlanta, followed so closely upon the
adjournment of the Convention as to make its platform and candidates the
laughing stock of the Nation; and all the efforts of Democratic orators,
and of McClellan himself, in his letter of acceptance, could not prevent
the rise of that great tidal-wave of Unionism which was soon to engulf
the hosts of Copperhead-Democracy.
The Thanksgiving-services in the churches, and the thundering salutes of
100 guns from every Military and Naval post in the United States, which
--during the week succeeding that Convention's sitting--betokened the
Nation's especial joy and gratitude to the victorious Union Forces of
Sherman and Farragut for their fortuitously-timed demonstration that the
"experiment of War" for the restoration of the Union was anything but a
"Failure" all helped to add to the proportions of that rapidly-swelling
volume of loyal public feeling.
The withdrawal from the canvass, of General Fremont, nominated for the
Presidency by the "radical men of the Nation," at Cleveland, also
contributed to it. In his letter of withdrawal, September 17th, he
"The Presidential contest has, in effect, been entered upon in such a
way that the union of the Republican Party has become a paramount
necessity. The policy of the Democratic Party signifies either
separation, or reestablishment with Slavery. The Chicago platform is
simply separation. General McClellan's letter of acceptance is
reestablishment, with Slavery. The Republican candidate is, on the
contrary, pledged to the reestablishment of the Union without Slavery;
and, however hesitating his policy may be, the pressure of his Party
will, we may hope, force him to it. Between these issues, I think no
man of the Liberal Party can remain in doubt."
And now, following the fall of Atlanta before Sherman's Forces, Grant
had stormed "Fort Hell," in front of Petersburg; Sheridan had routed the
Rebels, under Early, at Winchester, and had again defeated Early at
Fisher's Hill; Lee had been repulsed in his attack on Grant's works at
Petersburg; and Allatoona had been made famous, by Corse and his 2,000
Union men gallantly repulsing the 5,000 men of Hood's Rebel Army, who
had completely surrounded and attacked them in front, flank, and rear.
All these Military successes for the Union Cause helped the Union
political campaign considerably, and, when supplemented by the
remarkable results of the October elections in Pennsylvania, Indiana,
and Maryland, made the election of Lincoln and Johnson a foregone
The sudden death of Chief-Justice Taney, too, happening, by a strange
coincidence, simultaneously with the triumph of the Union Party of
Maryland in carrying the new Constitution of that State, which
prohibited Slavery within her borders, seemed to have a significance*
not without its effect upon the public mind, now fast settling down to
the belief that Slavery everywhere upon the soil of the United States
[Greeley well said of it: "His death, at this moment, seemed to
mark the transition from the Era of Slavery to that of Universal
Then came, October 19th, the Battle of Cedar Creek, Va. where the Rebel
General Early, during Sheridan's absence, surprised and defeated the
latter's forces, until Sheridan, riding down from Winchester, turned
defeat into victory for the Union Arms, and chased the armed Rebels out
of the Shenandoah Valley forever; and the fights of October 27th and
28th, to the left of Grant's position, at Petersburg, by which the
railroad communications of Lee's Army at Richmond were broken up.
At last, November 8, 1864, dawned the eventful day of election. By
midnight of that date it was generally believed, all over the Union,
that Lincoln and Johnson were overwhelmingly elected, and that the Life
as well as Freedom of the Nation had thus been saved by the People.
Late that very night, President Lincoln was serenaded by a Pennsylvania
political club, and, in responding to the compliment, modestly said:
"I earnestly believe that the consequences of this day's work (if it be
as you assure, and as now seems probable) will be to the lasting
advantage, if not to the very salvation, of the Country. I cannot at
this hour say what has been the result of the election. But whatever it
may be, I have no desire to modify this opinion, that all who have
labored to-day in behalf of the Union organization have wrought for the
best interests of their Country and the World, not only for the present
but for all future ages.
"I am thankful to God," continued he, "for this approval of the People;
but, while deeply gratified for this mark of their confidence in me, if
I know my heart, my gratitude is free from any taint of personal
triumph. I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to me. It is
no pleasure to me to triumph over any one; but I give thanks to the
Almighty for this evidence of the People's resolution to stand by Free
Government and the rights of Humanity."
On the 10th of November, in response to another serenade given at the
White House, in the presence of an immense and jubilantly enthusiastic
gathering of Union men, by the Republican clubs of the District of
Columbia, Mr. Lincoln said:
"It has long been a grave question whether any Government, not too
strong for the Liberties of its People, can be strong enough to maintain
its existence in great emergencies. On this point the present
Rebellion. has brought our Republic to a severe test, and a
Presidential election, occurring in regular course during the Rebellion,
has added not a little to the strain. * * * But the election, along
with its incidental and undesired 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.
"But," said he, "the Rebellion continues; and now that the election is
over, may not all having a common interest reunite in a common effort to
save our common Country?
"For my own part," continued he--as the cheering, elicited by this
forcible appeal, ceased--"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 deeply
sensible to the high compliment of a reelection, and duly grateful, as I
trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right
conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my
satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the
And, as the renewed cheering evoked by this kindly, Christian utterance
died away again, he impressively added: "May I ask those who have not
differed with me, to join with me in this same spirit, towards those who
So, too, on the 17th of November, in his response to the complimentary
address of a delegation of Union men from Maryland.
[W. H. Purnell, Esq., in behalf of the Committee, delivered an
address, in which he said they rejoiced that the People, by such an
overwhelming and unprecedented majority, had again reelected Mr.
Lincoln to the Presidency and endorsed his course--elevating him to
the proudest and most honorable position on Earth. They felt under
deep obligation to him because he had appreciated their condition
as a Slave-State. It was not too much to say that by the exercise
of rare discretion on his part, Maryland to-day occupies her
position in favor of Freedom. Slavery has been abolished therefrom
by the Sovereign Decree of the People. With deep and lasting
gratitude they desired that his Administration, as it had been
approved in the past, might also be successful in the future, and
result in the Restoration of the Union, with Freedom as its
immutable basis. They trusted that, on retiring from his high and
honorable position, the universal verdict might be that he deserved
well of mankind, and that favoring Heaven might 'Crown his days
with loving kindness and tender mercies.']
The same kindly anxiety to soften and dispel the feeling of
bitterness that had been engendered in the malignant bosoms of the
Copperhead-Democracy by their defeat, was apparent when he said with
emphasis and feeling:
"I have said before, and now repeat, that I indulge in no feeling of
triumph over any man who has thought or acted differently from myself.
I have no such feeling toward any living man;" and again, after
complimenting Maryland for doing "more than double her share" in the
elections, in that she had not only carried the Republican ticket, but
also the Free Constitution, he added: "Those who have differed with us
and opposed us will yet see that the result of the Presidential election
is better for their own good than if they had been successful."
The victory of the Union-Republican Party at this election was an
amazing one, and in the words of General Grant's dispatch of
congratulation to the President, the fact of its "having passed off
quietly" was, in itself, "a victory worth more to the Country than a
battle won,"--for the Copperheads had left no stone unturned in their
efforts to create the utmost possible rancor, in the minds of their
partisans, against the Administration and its Party.
Of twenty-five States voting, Lincoln and Johnson had carried the
electoral votes of twenty-two of them, viz.: Maine, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan,
Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia,
and Nevada; while McClellan and Pendleton had carried the twenty-one
electoral votes of the remaining three, viz.: New Jersey, Delaware, and
Kentucky--the popular vote reaching the enormous number of 2,216,067 for
Lincoln, to 1,808,725 for McClellan--making Lincoln's popular majority
407,342, and his electoral majority 191!
But if the figures upon the Presidential candidacy were so gratifying
and surprising to all who held the cause of Union above all others, no
less gratifying and surprising were those of the Congressional
elections, which indicated an entire revulsion of popular feeling on the
subject of the Administration's policy. For, while in the current
Congress (the 38th), there were only 106 Republican-Union to 77
Democratic Representatives, in that for which the elections had just
been held, (the 39th), there would be 143 Republican-Union to 41
It was at once seen, therefore, that, should the existing House of
Representatives fail to adopt the Thirteenth Amendment to the
Constitution, there would be much more than the requisite two-thirds
majority for such a Measure in both Houses of the succeeding Congress;
and moreover that in the event of its failure at the coming Session, it
was more than probable that President Lincoln would consider himself
justified in calling an Extra Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress for
the especial purpose of taking such action. So far then, as the
prospects of the Thirteenth Amendment were concerned, they looked
decidedly more encouraging.
FREEDOM AT LAST ASSURED.
As to the Military situation, a few words are, at this time, necessary:
Hood had now marched Northward, with some 50,000 men, toward Nashville,
Tenn., while Sherman, leaving Thomas and some 35,000 men behind, to
thwart him, had abandoned his base, and was marching Southward from
Atlanta, through Georgia, toward the Sea.
On the 30th of November, 1864, General Schofield, in command of the 4th
and 23rd Corps of Thomas's Army, decided to make a stand against Hood's
Army, at Franklin, in the angle of the Harpeth river, in order to give
time for the Union supply-trains to cross the river. Here, with less
than 20,000 Union troops, behind some hastily constructed works, he had
received the impetuous and overwhelming assault of the Enemy--at first
so successful as to threaten a bloody and disastrous rout to the Union
troops--and, by a brilliant counter-charge, and subsequent obstinate
defensive-fighting, had repulsed the Rebel forces, with nearly three
times the Union losses, and withdrew the next day in safety to the
defenses of Nashville.
A few days later, Hood, with his diminished Rebel Army, sat down before
the lines of Thomas's somewhat augmented Army, which stretched from bank
to bank of the bight of the Cumberland river upon which Nashville is
And now a season of intense cold set in, lasting a week or ten days.
During this period of apparent inaction on both sides--which aroused
public apprehension in the North, and greatly disturbed General Grant--I
was ordered to City Point, by the General-in-Chief, with a view to his
detailing me to Thomas's Command, at Nashville.
On the way, I called on President Lincoln, at the White House. I found
him not very well, and with his feet considerably swollen. He was
sitting on a chair, with his feet resting on a table, while a barber was
shaving him. Shaking him by the hand, and asking after his health, he
answered, with a humorous twinkle of the eye, that he would illustrate
his condition by telling me a story. Said he: "Two of my neighbors, on
a certain occasion, swapped horses. One of these horses was large, but
quite thin. A few days after, on inquiry being made of the man who had
the big boney horse, how the animal was getting along?--whether
improving or not?--the owner said he was doing finely; that he had
fattened almost up to the knees already!"
Afterward--when, the process of shaving had been completed, we passed to
another room--our conversation naturally turned upon the War; and his
ideas upon all subjects connected with it were as clear as those of any
other person with whom I ever talked. He had an absolute conviction as
to the ultimate outcome of the War--the final triumph of the Union Arms;
and I well remember, with what an air of complete relief and perfect
satisfaction he said to me, referring to Grant--"We have now at the head
of the Armies, a man in whom all the People can have confidence."
But to return to Military operations: On December 10th? Sherman reached
the sea-board and commenced the siege of Savannah, Georgia; on the 13th,
Fort McAllister was stormed and Sherman's communications opened with the
Sea; on the 15th and 16th, the great Battle of Nashville was fought,
between the Armies of Thomas and Hood, and a glorious victory gained by
the Union Arms--Hood's Rebel forces being routed, pursued for days, and
practically dispersed; and, before the year ended, Savannah surrendered,
and was presented to the Nation, as "a Christmas gift," by Sherman.
And now the last Session of the Thirty-eighth Congress having commenced,
the Thirteenth Amendment might at any time come up again in the House.
In his fourth and last Annual Message, just sent in to that Body,
President Lincoln had said:
"At the last Session of Congress a proposed Amendment of the
Constitution abolishing Slavery throughout the United States, passed the
Senate, but failed for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote in the
House of Representatives. Although the present is the same Congress,
and nearly the same members, and without questioning the wisdom or
patriotism of those who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the
reconsideration and passage of the measure at the present Session. Of
course the abstract question is not changed; but an intervening election
shows, almost certainly, that the next Congress will pass the measure if
this does not. Hence there is only a question of time as to when the
proposed Amendment will go to, the States for their action. And as it
is to so go, at all, events, may we not agree that the sooner the
better? It is not claimed that the election has imposed a duty on
members to change their views or their votes, any farther than, as an
additional element to be considered, their judgment may be affected by
it. It is the voice of the People now, for the first time, heard upon
the question. In a great National crisis like ours, unanimity of action
among those seeking a common end is very desirable--almost
indispensable. And yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable
unless some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority simply
because it is the will of the majority. In this case the common end is
the maintenance of the Union; and, among the means to secure that end,
such will, through the election, is most clearly declared in favor of
such Constitutional Amendment."
After affirming that, on the subject of the preservation of the Union,
the recent elections had shown the existence of "no diversity among the
People;" that "we have more men now than we had when the War began;"
that "we are gaining strength" in all ways; and that, after the
evidences given by Jefferson Davis of his unchangeable opposition to
accept anything short of severance from the Union, "no attempt at
negotiation with the Insurgent leader could result in any good," he
appealed to the other Insurgents to come back to the fold--the door of
amnesty and pardon, being still "open to all." But, he continued:
"In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the National
Authority, on the part of the Insurgents, as the only indispensable
condition to ending the War, on the part of the Government, I retract
nothing heretofore said as to Slavery. I repeat the declaration made a
year ago, that 'while I remain in my present position I shall not
attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation, nor shall I
return to Slavery any Person who is Free by the terms of that
Proclamation, or by any of the Acts of Congress.' If the People should,
by whatever mode or means, make it an Executive duty to Reenslave such
Persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it. In
stating a single condition of Peace I mean simply to say that the War
will cease on the part of the Government, whenever it shall have ceased
on the part of those who began it."
On the 22d of December, 1864, in accordance with the terms of a
Concurrent Resolution that had passed both Houses, Congress adjourned
until January 5, 1865. During the Congressional Recess, however, Mr.
Lincoln, anxious for the fate of the Thirteenth Amendment, exerted
himself, as it afterward appeared, to some purpose, in its behalf, by
inviting private conferences with him, at the White House, of such of
the Border-State and other War-Democratic Representatives as had before
voted against the measure, but whose general character gave him ground
for hoping that they might not be altogether deaf to the voice of reason
[Among those for whom he sent was Mr. Rollins, of
Missouri, who afterward gave the following interesting account of
"The President had several times in my presence expressed his deep
anxiety in favor of the passage of this great measure. He and
others had repeatedly counted votes in order to ascertain, as far
as they could, the strength of the measure upon a second trial in
the House. He was doubtful about its passage, and some ten days or
two weeks before it came up for consideration in the House, I
received a note from him, written in pencil on a card, while
sitting at my desk in the House, stating that he wished to see me,
and asking that I call on him at the White House. I responded that
I would be there the next morning at nine o'clock.
"I was prompt in calling upon him and found him alone in his
office. He received me in the most cordial manner, and said in his
usual familiar way: 'Rollins, I have been wanting to talk to you
for some time about the Thirteenth Amendment proposed to the
Constitution of the United States, which will have to be voted on
now, before a great while.'
"I said: 'Well, I am here, and ready to talk upon that subject.
"He said: 'You and I were old Whigs, both of us followers of that
great statesman, Henry Clay, and I tell you I never had an opinion
upon the subject of Slavery in my life that I did not get from him.
I am very anxious that the War should be brought to a close at the
earliest possible date, and I don't believe this can be
accomplished as long as those fellows down South can rely upon
the Border-States to help them; but if the Members from the
Border-States would unite, at least enough of them to pass the
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, they would soon see that
they could not expect much help from that quarter, and be willing
to give up their opposition and quit their War upon the Government;
that is my chief hope and main reliance to bring the War to a
speedy close, and I have sent for you as an old Whig friend to come
and see me, that I might make an appeal to you to vote for this
Amendment. It is going to be very close; a few votes one way or
the other will decide it.'
"To this, I responded: 'Mr. President, so far as I am concerned,
you need not have sent for me to ascertain my views on this
subject, for although I represent perhaps the strongest
Slave-district in Missouri, and have the misfortune to be one of the
largest Slave-owners in the country where I reside, I had already
determined to vote for the Amendment.
"He arose from his chair, and grasping me by the hand, gave it a
hearty shake, and said: 'I am most delighted to hear that.'
"He asked me how many more of the Missouri delegates in the House
would vote for it.
"I said I could not tell; the Republicans of course would; General
Loan, Mr. Blow, Mr. Boyd, and Colonel McClurg.
"He said, 'Won't General Price vote for it? He is a good Union
man.' I said I could not answer.
"'Well, what about General King?'
"I told him I did not know.
"He then asked about Judges Hall and Norton.
"I said they would both vote against it, I thought.
"'Well,' he said, 'are you on good terms with Price and King?'
"I responded in the affirmative, and that I was on easy terms with
the entire delegation.
"He then asked me if I would not talk with those who might be
persuaded to vote for the amendment, and report to him as soon as I
could find out what the prospect was.'
"I answered that I would do so with pleasure, and remarked at the
same time, that when I was a young man, in 1848, I was the Whig
competitor of King for Governor of Missouri, and, as he beat me
very badly, I thought now he should pay me back by voting as I
desired him on this important question.
"I promised the President I would talk to this gentleman upon the
"He said: 'I would like you to talk to all the Border-State men
whom you can approach properly, and tell them of my anxiety to have
the measure pass; and let me know the prospect of the Border-State
vote,' which I promised to do.
"He again said: 'The passage of this Amendment will clinch the
whole subject; it will bring the War, I have no doubt, rapidly to a
close.'"--Arnold's Life of Lincoln, pp. 358-359,]
On the 5th of January, 1865, the Christmas Recess having expired,
Congress re-assembled. The motion to reconsider the vote-by which the
Joint Resolution, to amend the Constitution by the abolition of Slavery,
had been defeated--was not called up, on that day, as its friends had
not all returned; but the time was mainly consumed in able speeches, by
Mr. Creswell of Maryland, and Stevens of Pennsylvania, in which the
former declared that "whether we would or not, we must establish Freedom
if we would exterminate Treason. Events have left us no choice. The
People have learned their duty and have instructed us accordingly." And
Mr. Thaddeus Stevens solemnly said: "We are about to ascertain the
National will, by another vote to amend the Constitution. If gentlemen
opposite will yield to the voice of God and Humanity, and vote for it, I
verily believe the sword of the Destroying Angel will be stayed, and
this People be reunited. If we still harden our hearts, and blood must
still flow, may the ghosts of the slaughtered victims sit heavily upon
the souls of those who cause it!"
On the 6th of January, Mr. Ashley called up his motion to reconsider the
vote defeating the Thirteenth Amendment, and opened the debate with a
lengthy and able speech in favor of that measure, in concluding which he
"The genius of history, with iron pen, is waiting to record our verdict
where it will remain forever for all the coming generations of men to
approve or condemn. God grant that this verdict may be one over which
the friends of Liberty, impartial and universal, in this Country and
Europe, and in every Land beneath the sun, may rejoice; a verdict which
shall declare that America is Free; a verdict which shall add another
day of jubilee, and the brightest of all, to our National calendar."
The debate was participated in by nearly all the prominent men, on both
sides of the House--the speeches of Messrs. Cox, Brooks, Voorhees,
Mallory, Holman, Woods and Pendleton being the most notable, in
opposition to, and those of Scofield, Rollins, Garfield and Stevens,
in favor of, the Amendment. That of Scofield probably stirred up "the
adversary" more thoroughly than any other; that of Rollins was more
calculated to conciliate and capture the votes of hesitating, or
Border-State men; that of Garfield was perhaps the most scholarly and
eloquent; while that of Stevens was remarkable for its sledge-hammer
pungency and characteristic brevity.
Mr. Pendleton, toward the end of his speech, had said of Mr. Stevens:
"Let him be careful, lest when the passions of these times be passed
away, and the historian shall go back to discover where was the original
infraction of the Constitution, he may find that sin lies at the door of
others than the people now in arms." And it was this that brought the
sterling old Patriot again to his feet, in vindication of the acts of
his liberty-inspired life, and in defense of the power to amend the
Constitution, which had been assailed.
The personal antithesis with which he concluded his remarks was in
itself most dramatically effective, Said he:
"So far as the appeals of the learned gentleman (Mr. Pendleton) are
concerned, in his pathetic winding up, I will be willing to take my
chance, when we all moulder in the dust. He may have his epitaph
written, if it be truly written, 'Here rests the ablest and most
pertinacious defender of Slavery, and opponent of Liberty;' and I will
be satisfied if my epitaph shall be written thus: 'Here lies one who
never rose to any eminence, and who only courted the low ambition to
have it said that he had striven to ameliorate the condition of the
poor, the lowly, the downtrodden, of every race, and language, and
As he said these words, the crowded floors and galleries broke out into
involuntary applause for the grand "Old Commoner"--who only awaited its
cessation, to caustically add: "I shall be content, with such a eulogy
on his lofty tomb and such an inscription on my humble grave, to trust
our memories to the judgment of after ages."
The debate, frequently interrupted by Appropriation Bills, and other
important and importunate measures, lasted until the 31st of January,
when Mr. Ashley called the previous question on his motion to
Mr. Stiles at once moved to table the motion to reconsider. Mr.
Stiles's motion was lost by 57 yeas to 111 nays. This was in the nature
of a test-vote, and the result, when announced, was listened to, with
breathless attention, by the crowded House and galleries. It was too
close for either side to be satisfied; but it showed a gain to the
friends of the Amendment; that was something. How the final vote would
be, none could tell. Meanwhile it was known, from the announcements on
the floor, that Rogers was absent through his own illness and Voorhees
through illness in his family.
The previous question being seconded and the main question ordered, the
yeas and nays were called on the motion to reconsider--and the intense
silence succeeding the monotonous calling of the names was broken by the
voice of the Speaker declaring the motion to reconsider, carried, by 112
yeas to 57 nays.
This vote created a slight sensation. There was a gain of one,
(English), at any rate, from among those not voting on the previous
motion. Now, if there should be but the change of a single vote, from
the nays to the yeas, the Amendment would be carried!
The most intensely anxious solicitude was on nearly every face, as Mr.
Mallory, at this critical moment, made the point of order that "a vote
to reconsider the vote by which the subject now before the House was
disposed of, in June last, requires two-thirds of this Body," and
emphatically added: "that two-thirds vote has not been obtained."
A sigh of relief swept across the galleries, as the Speaker overruled
the point of order. Other attempted interruptions being resolutely met
and defeated by Mr. Ashley, in charge of the Resolution, the "previous
question" was demanded, seconded, and the main question ordered--which
was on the passage of the Resolution.
And now, amid the hush of a breathless and intent anxiety--so absolute
that the scratch of the recording pencil could be heard--the Clerk
commenced to call the roll!
So consuming was the solicitude, on all sides, for the fate of this
portentous measure, that fully one-half the Representatives kept tally
at their desks as the vote proceeded, while the heads of the gathered
thousands of both sexes, in the galleries, craned forward, as though
fearing to lose the startlingly clear responses, while the roll-call
When it reached the name of English--Governor English, a Connecticut
Democrat, who had not voted on the first motion, to table the motion to
reconsider, but had voted "yea" on the motion to reconsider,--and he
responded with a clear-cut "aye" on the passage of the Resolution--it
looked as though light were coming at last, and applause involuntarily
broke forth from the Republican side of the floor, spreading instantly
to the galleries, despite the efforts of the Speaker to preserve order.
So, when Ganson of New York, and other Democrats, voted "aye," the
applause was renewed again and again, and still louder again, when, with
smiling face--which corroborated the thrilling, fast-spreading, whisper,
that "the Amendment is safe!"--Speaker Colfax directed the Clerk to call
his name, as a member of the House, and, in response to that call, voted
Then came dead silence, as the Clerk passed the result to the Speaker
--during which a pin might have been heard to drop,--broken at last by the
Speaker's ringing voice: "The Constitutional majority of two-thirds
having voted in the affirmative, the Joint Resolution is passed."
[The enrolled Resolution received the approval and signature of the
President, Feb. 1, 1865,]
The words had scarcely left the Speaker's lips, when House and galleries
sprang to their feet, clapping their hands, stamping their feet, waving
hats and handkerchiefs, and cheering so loudly and so long that it
seemed as if this great outburst of enthusiasm--indulged in, in defiance
of all parliamentary rules--would never cease!
In his efforts to control it, Speaker Colfax hammered the desk until he
nearly broke his mallet. Finally, by 4 o'clock, P.M., after several
minutes of useless effort--during which the pounding of the mallet was
utterly lost in the noisy enthusiasm and excitement, in which both the
Freedom-loving men and women of the Land, there present, participated
--the Speaker at last succeeded in securing a lull.
Advantage was instantly taken of it, by the successor of the dead Owen
Lovejoy, Mr. Ingersoll of Illinois, his young face flushing with the
glow of patriotism, as he cried: "Mr. Speaker! In honor of this
Immortal and Sublime Event I move that the House do now adjourn." The
Speaker declared the motion carried, amid renewed demonstrations of
During all these uncontrollable ebullitions of popular feeling in behalf
of personal Liberty and National Freedom and strength, the Democratic
members of the House had sat, many of them moving uneasily in their
seats, with chagrin painted in deep lines upon their faces, while others
were bolt upright, as if riveted to their chairs, looking straight
before them at the Speaker, in a vain attempt, belied by the pallid
anger of their set countenances, to appear unconscious of the storm of
popular feeling breaking around them, which they now doggedly perceived
might be but a forecast of the joyful enthusiasm which on that day, and
on the morrow, would spread from one end of the Land to the other.
Harris, of Maryland, made a sort of "Last Ditch" protest against
adjournment, by demanding the "yeas and nays" on the motion to adjourn.
The motion was, however, carried, by 121 yeas to 24 nays; and, as the
members left their places in the Hall--many of them to hurry with their
hearty congratulations to President Lincoln at the White House--the
triumph, in the Halls of our National Congress, of Freedom and Justice
and Civilization, over Slavery and Tyranny and Barbarism, was already
being saluted by the booming of one hundred guns on Capitol Hill.
How large a share was Mr. Lincoln's, in that triumph, these pages have
already sufficiently indicated. Sweet indeed must have been the joy
that thrilled his whole being, when, sitting in the White House, he
heard the bellowing artillery attest the success of his labors in behalf
of Emancipation. Proud indeed must he have felt when, the following
night, in response to the loud and jubilant cries of "Lincoln!"
"Lincoln!" "Abe Lincoln!" "Uncle Abe!" and other affectionate calls,
from a great concourse of people who, with music, had assembled outside
the White House to give him a grand serenade and popular ovation, he
appeared at an open window, bowed to the tumult of their acclamations,
and declared that "The great Job is ended!"--adding, among other things,
that the occasion was one fit for congratulation, and, said he, "I
cannot but congratulate all present--myself, the Country, and the whole
World--upon this great moral victory. * * * This ends the Job!"
Substantially the job was ended. There was little doubt, after such a
send off, by the President and by Congress, in view of the character of
the State Legislatures, as well as the temper of the People, that the
requisite number of States would be secured to ratify the Thirteenth
Amendment. Already, on the 1st of February, that is to say, on the very
day of this popular demonstration at the Executive Mansion, the
President's own State, Illinois, had ratified it--and this circumstance
added to the satisfaction and happiness which beamed from, and almost
made beautiful, his homely face.
Other States quickly followed; Maryland, on February 1st and 3rd; Rhode
Island and Michigan, on February 2nd; New York, February 2nd and 3rd;
West Virginia, February 3rd; Maine and Kansas, February 7th;
Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, February 8th; Virginia, February 9th;
Ohio and Missouri, February 10th; Nevada and Indiana, February 16th;
Louisiana, February 17th; Minnesota, February 8th and 23rd; Wisconsin,
March 1st; Vermont, March 9th; Tennessee, April 5th and 7th; Arkansas,
April 20th; Connecticut, May 5th; New Hampshire, July 1st; South
Carolina, November 13th; Alabama, December 2nd; North Carolina, December
4th; Georgia, December 9th; Oregon, December 11th; California, December
20th; and Florida, December 28th;--all in 1865; with New Jersey, closely
following, on January 23rd; and Iowa, January 24th;--in 1866.
Long ere this last date, however, the Secretary of State (Mr. Seward)
had been able to, and did, announce (November 18, 1865) the ratification
of the Amendment by the requisite number of States, and certified that
the same had "become, to all intents and purposes, valid as a part of
the Constitution of the United States."
Not until then, was "the job" absolutely ended; but, as has been already
mentioned, it was, at the time Mr. Lincoln spoke, as good as ended. It
was a foregone conclusion, that the great end for which he, and so many
other great and good men of the Republic had for so many years been
earnestly striving, would be an accomplished fact. They had not failed;
they had stood firm; the victory which he had predicted six years before
[He had said in his Springfield speech, of 1858: "We
shall not fail; if we stand firm we shall not fail; wise counsels
may accelerate, or mistakes delay, but sooner or later the Victory
is sure to come."]
LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURATION.
While the death of Slavery in America was decreed, as we have seen; yet,
the sanguine anticipations of Mr. Lincoln, and other friends of Freedom,
that such a decree, imperishably grafted into the Constitution, must at
once end the Rebellion, and bring Peace with a restored Union, were not
realized. The War went on. Grant was still holding Lee, at Petersburg,
near Richmond, while Sherman's victorious Army was about entering upon a
campaign from Savannah, up through the Carolinas.
During the previous Summer, efforts had been made, by Horace Greeley,
and certain parties supposed to represent the Rebel authorities, to lay
the ground-work for an early Peace and adjustment of the differences
between the Government of the United States and the Rebels, but they
miscarried. They led, however, to the publication of the following
important conciliatory Presidential announcement:
"WASHINGTON, July 18, 1864.
"To whom it may concern:
"Any proposition which embraces the restoration of Peace, the integrity
of the whole Union, and the abandonment of Slavery, and which comes by
and with an authority that can control the Armies now at War against the
United States, will be received and considered by the Executive
Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on
substantial and collateral points; and the bearer or bearers thereof
shall have safe conduct both ways.
"(Signed) ABRAHAM LINCOLN."
About the same time, other efforts were being made, with a similar
object in view, but which came to naught. The visit of Messrs. Jacques
and Gilmore to the Rebel Capital on an informal Peace-errand was, at
least, valuable in this, that it secured from the head and front of the
armed Conspiracy, Jefferson Davis himself, the following definite
"I desire Peace as much as you do; I deplore bloodshed as much as you
do; but I feel that not one drop of the blood shed in this War is on my
hands. I can look up to my God and say this. I tried all in my power
to avert this War. I saw it coming, and for twelve years I worked night
and day to prevent it; but I could not. The North was mad and blind; it
would not let us govern ourselves; and so the War came: and now it must
go on till the last man of this generation falls in his tracks, and his
children seize his musket and fight our battle, unless you acknowledge
our right to self-government. We are not fighting for Slavery. We are
fighting for INDEPENDENCE; and that, or EXTERMINATION, we WILL have."
[The Nation, July 2, 1885, contained the following
remarks, which may be pertinently quoted in support of this
authoritative statement that the South was "not fighting for
Slavery," but for Independence--that is to say: for Power, and what
would flow from it.]
["The Charleston News and Courier a fortnight ago remarked that
'not more than one Southern soldier in ten or fifteen was a
Slaveholder, or had any interest in Slave Property.' The
Laurensville Herald disputed the statement, and declared that 'the
Southern Army was really an Army of Slaveholders and the sons of
Slaveholders.' The Charleston paper stands by its original
position, and cites figures which are conclusive. The Military
population of the eleven States which seceded, according to the
census of 1860, was 1,064,193. The entire number of Slaveholders
in the Country at the same time was 383,637, but of these 77,335
lived in the Border States, so that the number in the Seceding
States was only 306,302. Most of the small Slaveholders, however,
were not Slave-owners, but Slave hirers, and Mr. De Bow, the
statistician who supervised the census of 1850, estimated that but
little over half the holders were actually owners. The proportion
of owners diminished between 1850 and 1860, and the News and
Courier thinks that there were not more than 150,000 Slave-owners
in the Confederate States when the War broke out. This would be
one owner to every seven White males between eighteen and
forty-five; but as many of the owners were women, and many of the
men were relieved from Military service, the Charleston paper is
confirmed in its original opinion that there were ten men in the
Southern Army who were not Slave-owners for every soldier who had
Slaves of his own."]
And when these self-constituted Peace-delegates had fulfilled the duty
which their zeal had impelled them to perform, and were taking their
leave of the Rebel chieftain, Jefferson Davis added:
"Say to Mr. Lincoln, from me, that I shall at any time be pleased to
receive proposals for PEACE on the basis of our INDEPENDENCE. It will
be useless to approach me with any other."
Thus the lines had been definitely and distinctly drawn, on both sides.
The issue of Slavery became admittedly, as between the Government and
the Rebels, a dead one. The great cardinal issue was now clearly seen
and authoritatively admitted to be, "the integrity of the whole Union"
on the one side, and on the other, "Independence of a part of it."
These precise declarations did great good to the Union Cause in the
North, and not only helped the triumphant re-election of Mr. Lincoln,
but also contributed to weaken the position of the Northern advocates of
Slavery, and to bring about, as we have seen, the extinction of that
inherited National curse, by Constitutional Amendment.
During January, of 1865, Francis P. Blair having been permitted to pass
both the Union and Rebel Army lines, showed to Mr. Lincoln a letter,
written to the former, by Jefferson Davis--and which the latter had
authorized him to read to the President--stating that he had always
been, and was still, ready to send or to receive Commissioners "to enter
into a Conference, with a view to secure Peace to the two Countries."
On the 18th of that month, purposing to having it shown to Jefferson
Davis, Mr. Lincoln wrote to Mr. Blair a letter in which, after referring
to Mr. Davis, he said: "You may say to him that I have constantly been,
am now, and shall continue, ready to receive any agent whom he, or any
other influential person now resisting the National Authority, may
informally send to me, with the view of securing Peace to the People of
our common Country." On the 21st of January, Mr. Blair was again in
Richmond; and Mr. Davis had read and retained Mr. Lincoln's letter to
Blair, who specifically drew the Rebel chieftain's attention to the fact
that "the part about 'our common Country' related to the part of Mr.
Davis's letter about 'the two Countries,' to which Mr. Davis replied
that he so understood it." Yet subsequently, he sent Messrs. Alexander
H. Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter, and John A. Campbell as Commissioners,
with instructions, (January 28, 1865,) which, after setting forth the
language of Mr. Lincoln's letter, proceeded strangely enough to say: "In
conformity with the letter of Mr. Lincoln, of which the foregoing is a
copy, you are to proceed to Washington city for informal Conference with
him upon the issues involved in the existing War, and for the purpose of
securing Peace to the two Countries!" The Commissioners themselves
stated in writing that "The substantial object to be obtained by the
informal Conference is, to ascertain upon what terms the existing War
can be terminated honorably. * * * Our earnest desire is, that a just
and honorable Peace may be agreed upon, and we are prepared to receive
or to submit propositions which may, possibly, lead to the attainment of
that end." In consequence of this peculiarly "mixed" overture, the
President sent Secretary Seward to Fortress Monroe, to informally confer
with the parties, specifically instructing him to "make known to them
that three things are indispensable, to wit:
"1. The restoration of the National Authority throughout all the
"2. No receding, by the Executive of the United States, on the Slavery
question, from the position assumed thereon in the late Annual Message
to Congress, and in preceding documents.
"3. No cessation of hostilities short of an end of the War and the
disbanding of all forces hostile to the Government."
Mr. Lincoln also instructed the Secretary to "inform them that all
propositions of theirs, not inconsistent with the above, will be
considered and passed upon in a spirit of sincere liberality;" to "hear
all they may choose to say, and report it" to him, and not to "assume to
definitely consummate anything." Subsequently, the President, in
consequence of a dispatch from General Grant to Secretary Stanton,
decided to go himself to Fortress Monroe.
Following is the dispatch:
OFFICE UNITED STATES MILITARY TELEGRAPH. WAR DEPARTMENT.
"The following telegram received at Washington, 4.35 A.M., February
2, 1865. From City Point, Va., February 1, 10.30 P.M., 1865
"Now that the interview between Major Eckert, under his written
instructions, and Mr. Stephens and party has ended, I will state
confidentially, but not officially, to become a matter of record,
that I am convinced, upon conversation with Messrs. Stephens and
Hunter, that their intentions are good and their desire sincere to
restore Peace and Union. I have not felt myself at liberty to
express, even, views of my own, or to account for my reticency.
This has placed me in an awkward position, which I could have
avoided by not seeing them in the first instance. I fear now their
going back without any expression from any one in authority will
have a bad influence. At the same time I recognize the
difficulties in the way of receiving these informal Commissioners
at this time, and do not know what to recommend. I am sorry,
however, that Mr. Lincoln cannot have an interview with the two
named in this dispatch, if not all three now within our lines.
Their letter to me was all that the President's instructions
contemplated to secure their safe conduct, if they had used the
same language to Major Eckert.
"U. S. GRANT,
"Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON,
"Secretary of War."
Mr. Stephens is stated by a Georgia paper to have repeated the
following characteristic anecdote of what occurred during the
interview. "The three Southern gentlemen met Mr. Lincoln and Mr.
Seward, and after some preliminary remarks, the subject of Peace
was opened. Mr. Stephens, well aware that one who asks much may
get more than he who confesses to humble wishes at the outset,
urged the claims of his Section with that skill and address for
which the Northern papers have given him credit. Mr. Lincoln,
holding the vantage ground of conscious power, was, however,
perfectly frank, and submitted his views almost in the form of an
argument. * * * Davis had, on this occasion, as on that of Mr.
Stephens's visit to Washington, made it a condition that no
Conference should be had unless his rank as Commander or President
should first be recognized. Mr. Lincoln declared that the only
ground on which he could rest the justice of War--either with his
own people, or with foreign powers--was that it was not a War for
conquest, for that the States had never been separated from the
Union. Consequently, he could not recognize another Government
inside of the one of which he alone was President; nor admit the
separate Independence of States that were yet a part of the Union.
'That' said he 'would be doing what you have so long asked Europe
to do in vain, and be resigning the only thing the Armies of the
Union have been fighting for.' Mr. Hunter made a long reply to
this, insisting that the recognition of Davis's power to make a
Treaty was the first and indispensable step to Peace, and referred
to the correspondence between King Charles I., and his Parliament,
as a trustworthy precedent of a Constitutional ruler treating with
Rebels. Mr. Lincoln's face then wore that indescribable expression
which generally preceded his hardest hits, and he remarked: 'Upon
questions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is
posted in such things, and I don't pretend to be bright. My only
distinct recollection of the matter is that Charles lost his head,'
That settled Mr. Hunter for a while." Arnold's Lincoln, p. 400.
On the night of February 2nd, Mr. Lincoln reached Hampton Roads, and
joined Secretary Seward on board a steamer anchored off the shore. The
next morning, from another steamer, similarly anchored, Messrs.
Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell were brought aboard the President's
steamer and a Conference with the President and Secretary of several
hours' duration was the result. Mr. Lincoln's own statement of what
transpired was in these words:
"No question of preliminaries to the meeting was then and there made or
mentioned. No other person was present; no papers were exchanged or
produced; and it was, in advance, agreed that the conversation was to be
informal and verbal merely. On our part, the whole substance of the
instructions to the Secretary of State, hereinbefore recited, was stated
and insisted upon, and nothing was said inconsistent therewith; while,
by the other party, it was not said that in any event or on any
condition, they ever would consent to Re-union; and yet they equally
omitted to declare that they never would so consent. They seemed to
desire a postponement of that question, and the adoption of some other
course first, which, as some of them seemed to argue, might or might not
lead to Reunion; but which course, we thought, would amount to an
indefinite postponement. The Conference ended without result."
In his communication to the Rebel Congress at Richmond, February 6.
1865, Jefferson Davis, after mentioning his appointment of Messrs.
Stephens, Hunter and Campbell, for the purpose stated, proceeded to say:
"I herewith transmit, for the information of Congress, the report of the
eminent citizens above named, showing that the Enemy refused to enter
into negotiations with the Confederate States, or any one of them
separately, or to give to our people any other terms or guarantees than
those which the conqueror may grant, or to permit us to have Peace on
any other basis than our unconditional submission to their rule, coupled
with the acceptance of their recent legislation on the subject of the
relations between the White and Black population of each State."
On the 5th and 9th of February, public meetings were held at Richmond,
in connection with these Peace negotiations. At the first, Jefferson
Davis made a speech in which the Richmond Dispatch reported him as
emphatically asserting that no conditions of Peace "save the
Independence of the Confederacy could ever receive his sanction. He
doubted not that victory would yet crown our labors, * * * and sooner
than we should ever be united again he would be willing to yield up
everything he had on Earth, and if it were possible would sacrifice a
thousand lives before he would succumb." Thereupon the meeting of
Rebels passed resolutions "spurning" Mr. Lincoln's terms "with the
indignation due to so gross an insult;" declared that the circumstances
connected with his offer could only "add to the outrage and stamp it as
a designed and premeditated indignity" offered to them; and invoking
"the aid of Almighty God" to carry out their "resolve to maintain" their
"Liberties and Independence"--to which, said they, "we mutually pledge
our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." So too, at the second
of these meetings, presided over by R. M. T. Hunter, and addressed by
the Rebel Secretary Judah P. Benjamin, resolutions were adopted amid
"wild and long continued cheering," one of which stated that they would
"never lay down" their "arms until" their "Independence" had "been won,"
while another declared a full confidence in the sufficiency of their
resources to "conduct the War successfully and to that issue," and
invoked "the People, in the name of the holiest of all causes, to spare
neither their blood nor their treasure in its maintenance and support."
As during these Peace negotiations, General Grant, by express direction
of President Lincoln, had not changed, hindered, nor delayed, any of his
"Military movements or plans," so, now that the negotiations had failed,
those Military movements were pressed more strenuously than ever.
[The main object of this Conference on the part of the Rebels was
to secure an immediate truce, or breathing spell, during which they
could get themselves in better condition for continuing the War.
Indeed a portion of Mr. Seward's letter of Feb. 7, 1865, to Mr.
Adams, our Minister at the Court of St. James, giving him an
account of the Conference with the party of Insurgent
Commissioners, would not alone indicate this, but also that it was
proposed by that "Insurgent party," that both sides, during the
time they would thus cease to fight one another, might profitably
combine their forces to drive the French invaders out of Mexico and
annex that valuable country. At least, the following passage in
that letter will bear that construction:
"What the Insurgent party seemed chiefly to favor was a
postponement of the question of separation, upon which the War is
waged, and a mutual direction of efforts of the Government, as well
as those of the Insurgents, to some extrinsic policy or scheme for
a season, during which passions might be expected to subside, and
the Armies be reduced, and trade and intercourse between the People
of both Sections resumed. It was suggested by them that through
such postponements we might now have immediate Peace, with some not
very certain prospect of an ultimate satisfactory adjustment of
political relations between this Government, and the States,
Section, or People, now engaged in conflict with it."
For the whole of this letter see McPherson's History of the
Rebellion, p. 570.]
Fort Fisher, North Carolina, had already been captured by a combined
Military and Naval attack of the Union forces under General Terry and
Admiral Porter; and Sherman's Army was now victoriously advancing from
Savannah, Georgia, Northwardly through South Carolina. On the 17th of
February, Columbia, the capital of the latter State, surrendered, and,
the day following, Charleston was evacuated, and its defenses, including
historic Fort Sumter, were once more under that glorious old flag of the
Union which four years before had been driven away, by shot and shell
and flame, amid the frantic exultations of the temporarily successful
armed Conspirators of South Carolina. On the 22nd of February, General
Schofield, who had been sent by Grant with his 23rd Corps, by water, to
form a junction with Terry's troops about Fort Fisher, and capture
Wilmington, North Carolina, had also accomplished his purpose
The Rebel Cause now began to look pretty desperate, even to Rebel eyes.
[Hundreds of Rebels were now deserting from Lee's Armies about
Richmond, every night, owing partly to despondency. "These
desertions," wrote Lee, on the 24th February, "have a very bad
effect upon the troops who remain, and give rise to painful
apprehensions." Another cause was the lack of food and clothing.
Says Badeau (Military History of Ulysses S. Grant, vol. iii., p.
399): "On the 8th of January, Lee wrote to the Rebel Government
that the entire Right Wing of his Army had been in line for three
days and nights, in the most inclement weather of the season.
'Under these circumstances,' he said, 'heightened by assaults and
fire of the Enemy, some of the men had been without meat for three
days, and all were suffering from reduced rations and scant
clothing. Colonel Cole, chief commissary, reports that he has not
a pound of meat at his disposal. If some change is not made, and
the commissary department reorganized, I apprehend dire results.
The physical strength of the men, if their courage survives, must
fail under this treatment. Our Cavalry has to be dispersed for
want of forage. Fitz Lee's and Lomax's Divisions are scattered
because supplies cannot be transported where their services are
required. I had to bring Fitz Lee's Division sixty miles Sunday
night, to get them in position. Taking these facts in connection
with the paucity of our numbers, you must not be surprised if
calamity befalls us.'" Badeau's (Grant, vol. iii., p. 401,)]
Toward the end of February, the Rebel General Longstreet having
requested an interview with General Ord "to arrange for the exchange of
citizen prisoners, and prisoners of war, improperly captured," General
Grant authorized General Ord to hold such interview t and "to arrange
definitely for such as were confined in his department, arrangements for
all others to be submitted for approval." In the course of that
interview "a general conversation ensued on the subject of the War,"
when it would seem that Longstreet suggested the idea of a composition
of the questions at issue, and Peace between the United States and the
Rebels, by means of a Military Convention. It is quite probable that
this idea originated with Jefferson Davis, as a /dernier resort/; for
Longstreet appears to have communicated directly with Davis concerning
his interview or "interviews" with Ord. On the 28th of February, 1865
the Rebel Chief wrote to Lee, as follows:
"RICHMOND, VA., February 28.
"Gen. R. E. LEE, Commanding, etc.,
"GENERAL: You will learn by the letter of General Longstreet the result
of his second interview with General Ord. The points as to whether
yourself or General Grant should invite the other to a Conference is not
worth discussing. If you think the statements of General Ord render it
probably useful that the Conference suggested should be had, you will
proceed as you may prefer, and are clothed with all the supplemental
authority you may need in the consideration of any proposition for a
Military Convention, or the appointment of a Commissioner to enter into
such an arrangement as will cause at least temporary suspension of
"Very truly yours
Thereupon General Lee wrote, and sent to General Grant, the following
"HEADQUARTERS C. S. ARMIES, March 2, 1865.
"Lieut. Gen. U. S. GRANT,
"Commanding United States Armies:
"GENERAL: Lieut.-Gen. Longstreet has informed me that, in a recent
conversation between himself and Maj.-Gen. Ord, as to the possibility of
arriving at a satisfactory adjustment of the present unhappy
difficulties by means of a Military Convention, General Ord stated that
if I desired to have an interview with you on the subject, you would not
decline, provided I had authority to act. Sincerely desirous to leave
nothing untried which may put an end to the calamities of War, I propose
to meet you at such convenient time and place as you may designate, with
the hope that, upon an interchange of views, it may be found practicable
to submit the subjects of controversy between the belligerents to a
Convention of the kind mentioned.
"In such event, I am authorized to do whatever the result of the
proposed interview may render necessary or advisable. Should you accede
to this proposition, I would suggest that, if agreeable to you, we meet
at the place selected by Generals Ord and Longstreet, for the interview,
at 11 A.M., on Monday next.
"Very respectfully your obedient servant,
"R. E. LEE, General."
Upon receipt of this letter, General Grant sent a telegraphic dispatch
to Secretary Stanton, informing him of Lee's proposition. It reached
the Secretary of War just before midnight of March 3rd. He, and the
other members of the Cabinet were with the President, in the latter's
room at the Capitol, whither they had gone on this, the last, night of
the last Session of the Thirty-Eighth Congress, the Cabinet to advise,
and the President to act, upon bills submitted to him for approval. The
Secretary, after reading the dispatch, handed it to Mr. Lincoln. The
latter read and thought over it briefly, and then himself wrote the
"WASHINGTON, March, 3, 1865, 12 P.M.
"LIEUTENANT GENERAL GRANT: The President directs me to say to you that
he wishes you to have no Conference with General Lee, unless it be for
the capitulation of General Lee's Army, or on some other minor and
purely Military matter. He instructs me to say to you that you are not
to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such
questions the President holds in his own hands, and will submit them to
no Military Conferences or Conventions. Meanwhile you are to press to
the utmost your Military advantages.
"EDWIN M. STANTON,
"Secretary of War."
General Grant received this dispatch, on the day following, and at once
wrote and sent to General Lee a communication in which, after referring
to the subject of the exchange of prisoners, he said: "In regard to
meeting you on the 6th inst., I would state that--I have no authority to
accede to your proposition for a Conference on the subject proposed.
Such authority is vested in the President of the United States alone.
General Ord could only have meant that I would not refuse an interview
on any subject on which I have a right to act; which, of course, would
be such as are purely of a Military character, and on the subject of
exchange, which has been entrusted to me."
Thus perished the last reasonable hope entertained by the Rebel
Chieftains to ward off the inevitable and mortal blow that was about to
smite their Cause.
The 4th of March, 1865, had come. The Thirty-Eighth Congress was no
more. Mr. Lincoln was about to be inaugurated, for a second term, as
President of the United States. The previous night had been vexed with
a stormy snow-fall. The morning had also been stormy and rainy. By
mid-day, however, as if to mark the event auspiciously, the skies
cleared and the sun shone gloriously upon the thousands and tens of
thousands who had come to Washington, to witness the second Inauguration
of him whom the people had now, long since, learned to affectionately
term "Father Abraham"--of him who had become the veritable Father of his
People. As the President left the White House, to join the grand
procession to the Capitol, a brilliant meteor shot athwart the heavens,
above his head. At the time, the superstitious thought it an Omen of
triumph--of coming Peace--but in the sad after-days when armed Rebellion
had ceased and Peace had come, it was remembered, with a shudder, as a
portent of ill. When, at last, Mr. Lincoln stood, with bared head, upon
the platform at the eastern portico of the Capitol, where four years
before, he had made his vows before the People, under such very
different circumstances and surroundings, the contrast between that time
and this--and all the terrible and eventful history of the interim
--could not fail to present itself to every mind of all those congregated,
whether upon the platform among the gorgeously costumed foreign
diplomats, the full-uniformed Military and Naval officers of the United
States, and the more soberly-clad statesmen and Civic and Judicial
functionaries of the Land, or in the vast and indiscriminate mass of the
enthusiastic people in front and on both sides of it. As Chief Justice
Chase administered the oath, and Abraham Lincoln, in view of all the
people, reverently bowed his head and kissed the open Bible, at a
passage in Isaiah (27th and 28th verses of the 5th Chapter) which it was
thought "admonished him to be on his guard, and not to relax at all, in
his efforts," the people, whose first cheers of welcome had been stayed
by the President's uplifted hand, broke forth in a tumult of cheering,
until again hushed by the clear, strong, even voice of the President, as
he delivered that second Inaugural Address, whose touching tenderness,
religious resignation, and Christian charity, were clad in these
"FELLOW COUNTRYMEN: At this second appearing to take the Oath of the
Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than
there was at the first. Then, a statement, somewhat in detail, of a
course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration
of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly
called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still
absorbs the attention and engrosses the energy of the Nation, little
that is new could be presented. The progress of our Arms, upon which
all else depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it
is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high
hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
"On the occasion corresponding to this, four years ago, all thoughts
were anxiously directed to an impending Civil War. All dreaded it--all
sought to avert it. While the Inaugural Address was being delivered
from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without War,
Insurgent agents were in the city, seeking to destroy it without War
--seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide the effects, by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated War; but one of them would make War rather than
let the Nation survive; and the other would accept War rather than let
it perish--and the War came.
"One-eighth of the whole population were colored Slaves, not distributed
generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it.
These Slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew
that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the War. To strengthen,
perpetuate and extend this interest was the object for which the
Insurgents would rend the Union, even by War; while the Government
claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement
of it. Neither Party expected for the War the magnitude or the duration
which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of
the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself
should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less
fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the
same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem
strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in
wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us
judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be
answered--that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His
own purposes. 'Woe unto the World because of offences! for it must
needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence
cometh.' If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those
offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which,
having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and
that He gives to both North and South this terrible War, as the woe due
to those by Whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any
departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living
God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray
--that this mighty scourge of War may speedily pass away. Yet, if God
wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two
hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until
every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn
with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must
be said, 'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the
right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the
work we are in; to bind up the Nation's wounds, to care for him who
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do
all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting Peace among
ourselves, and with all Nations."
With utterances so just and fair, so firm and hopeful, so penitent and
humble, so benignant and charitable, so mournfully tender and sweetly
solemn, so full of the fervor of true piety and the very pathos of
patriotism, small wonder is it that among those numberless thousands
who, on this memorable occasion, gazed upon the tall, gaunt form of
Abraham Lincoln, and heard his clear, sad voice, were some who almost