The Boys' Life of Abraham Lincoln
by Helen Nicolay
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"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 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 offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses 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 offense 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 lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations."

The address ended, the Chief Justice arose, and the listeners who, for the second time, heard Abraham Lincoln repeat the solemn words of his oath of office, went from the impressive scene to their several homes in thankfulness and confidence that the destiny of the nation was in safe keeping.

Nothing would have amazed Mr. Lincoln more than to hear himself called a man of letters; and yet it would be hard to find in all literature anything to excel the brevity and beauty of his address at Gettysburg or the lofty grandeur of this Second Inaugural. In Europe his style has been called a model for the study and imitation of princes, while in our own country many of his phrases have already passed into the daily speech of mankind.

His gift of putting things simply and clearly was partly the habit of his own clear mind, and partly the result of the training he gave himself in days of boyish poverty, when paper and ink were luxuries almost beyond his reach, and the words he wished to set down must be the best words, and the clearest and shortest to express the ideas he had in view. This training of thought before expression, of knowing exactly what he wished to say before saying it, stood him in good stead all his life; but only the mind of a great man, with a lofty soul and a poet's vision; one who had suffered deeply and felt keenly; who carried the burden of a nation on his heart, whose sympathies were as broad and whose kindness was as great as his moral purpose was strong and firm, could have written the deep, forceful, convincing words that fell from his pen in the later years of his life. It was the life he lived, the noble aim that upheld him, as well as the genius with which he was born, that made him one of the greatest writers of our time.

At the date of his second inauguration only two members of Mr. Lincoln's original cabinet remained in office; but the changes had all come about gradually and naturally, never as the result of quarrels, and with the single exception of Secretary Chase, not one of them left the cabinet harboring feelings of resentment or bitterness toward his late chief. Even when, in one case, it became necessary for the good of the service, for Mr. Lincoln to ask a cabinet minister to resign, that gentleman not only unquestioningly obeyed, but entered into the presidential campaign immediately afterward, working heartily and effectively for his reelection. As for Secretary Chase, the President was so little disturbed by his attitude that, on the death of Roger B. Taney, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he made him his successor, giving him the highest judicial office in the land, and paying him the added compliment of writing out his nomination with his own hand.

The keynote of the President's young life had been persevering industry. That of his mature years was self-control and generous forgiveness. And surely his remark on the night of his second election for President, that he did not think resentment "paid," and that no man had time to spend half his life in quarrels, was well borne out by the fruit of his actions. It was this spirit alone which made possible much that he was able to accomplish. His rule of conduct toward all men is summed up in a letter of reprimand that it became his duty, while he was President, to send to one young officer accused of quarreling with another. It deserves to be written in letters of gold on the walls of every school and college throughout the land:

"The advice of a father to his son, 'beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee,' is good, but not the best. Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite."

It was this willingness of his to give up the "lesser things," and even the things to which he could claim an equal right, which kept peace in his cabinet, made up of men of strong wills and conflicting natures. Their devotion to the Union, great as it was, would not have sufficed in such a strangely assorted official family; but his unfailing kindness and good sense led him to overlook many things that another man might have regarded as deliberate insults; while his great tact and knowledge of human nature enabled him to bring out the best in people about him, and at times to turn their very weaknesses into sources of strength. It made it possible for him to keep the regard of every one of them. Before he had been in office a month it had transformed Secretary Seward from his rival into his lasting friend. It made a warm friend out of the blunt, positive, hot-tempered Edwin M. Stanton, who became Secretary of War in place of Mr. Cameron. He was a man of strong will and great endurance, and gave his Department a record for hard and effective work that it would be difficult to equal. Many stories are told of the disrespect he showed the President, and the cross-purposes at which they labored. The truth is, that they understood each other perfectly on all important matters, and worked together through three busy trying years with ever-increasing affection and regard. The President's kindly humor forgave his Secretary many blunt speeches. "Stanton says I am a fool?" he is reported to have asked a busy-body who came fleet-footed to tell him of the Secretary's hasty comment on an order of little moment. "Stanton says I am a fool? Well"—with a whimsical glance at his informant—"then I suppose I must be. Stanton is nearly always right." Knowing that Stanton was "nearly always right" it made little difference to his chief what he might say in the heat of momentary annoyance.

Yet in spite of his forbearance he never gave up the "larger things" that he felt were of real importance; and when he learned at one time that an effort was being made to force a member of the cabinet to resign, he called them together, and read them the following impressive little lecture:

"I must myself be the judge how long to retain in, and when to remove any of you from his position. It would greatly pain me to discover any of you endeavoring to procure another's removal, or in any way to prejudice him before the public. Such endeavor would be a wrong to me, and much worse, a wrong to the country. My wish is that on this subject no remark be made, nor question asked by any of you, here, or elsewhere, now, or hereafter."

This is one of the most remarkable speeches ever made by a President. Washington was never more dignified; Jackson was never more peremptory.

The President's spirit of forgiveness was broad enough to take in the entire South. The cause of the Confederacy had been doomed from the hour of his reelection. The cheering of the troops which greeted the news had been heard within the lines at Richmond, and the besieged town lost hope, though it continued the struggle bravely if desperately. Although Horace Greeley's peace mission to Canada had come to nothing, and other volunteer efforts in the same direction served only to call forth a declaration from Jefferson Davis that he would fight for the independence of the South to the bitter end, Mr. Lincoln watched longingly for the time when the first move could be made toward peace. Early in January, 1865, as the country was about to enter upon the fifth year of actual war, he learned from Hon. Francis P. Blair, Sr., who had been in Richmond, how strong the feeling of discouragement at the Confederate capital had become. Mr. Blair was the father of Lincoln's first Postmaster-General, a man of large acquaintance in the South, who knew perhaps better than anyone in Washington the character and temper of the southern leaders. He had gone to Richmond hoping to do something toward bringing the war to a close, but without explaining his plans to anyone, and with no authority from the government, beyond permission to pass through the military lines and return. His scheme was utterly impracticable, and Mr. Lincoln was interested in the report of his visit only because it showed that the rebellion was nearing its end. This was so marked that he sent Mr. Blair back again to Richmond with a note intended for the eye of Jefferson Davis, saying that the government had constantly been, was then, and would continue to be ready to receive any agent Mr. Davis might send, "with a view of securing peace to the people of our one common country."

Hopeless as their cause had by this time become, the Confederates had no mind to treat for peace on any terms except independence of the southern States; yet, on the other hand, they were in such straits that they could not afford to leave Mr. Lincoln's offer untested. Mr. Davis therefore sent north his Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens, with two other high officials of the Confederate government, armed with instructions which aimed to be liberal enough to gain them admittance to the Union lines, and yet distinctly announced that they came "for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries." This difference in the wording of course doomed their mission in advance, for the government at Washington had never admitted that there were "two countries," and to receive the messengers of Jefferson Davis on any such terms would be to concede practically all that the South asked.

When they reached the Union lines the officer who met them informed them that they could go no farther unless they accepted the President's conditions. They finally changed the form of their request, and were taken to Fortress Monroe. Meantime Mr. Lincoln had sent Secretary Seward to Fortress Monroe with instructions to hear all they might have to say, but not to definitely conclude anything. On learning the true nature of their errand he was about to recall him, when he received a telegram from General Grant, regretting that Mr. Lincoln himself could not see the commissioners, because, to Grant's mind, they seemed sincere.

Anxious to do everything he could in the interest of peace, Mr. Lincoln, instead of recalling Secretary Seward, telegraphed that he would himself come to Fortress Monroe, and started that same night. The next morning, February 3, 1865, he and the Secretary of State received the rebel commissioners on board the President's steamer, the River Queen.

This conference between the two highest officials of the United States government, and three messengers from the Confederacy, bound, as the President well knew beforehand, by instructions which made any practical outcome impossible, brings out, in strongest relief, Mr. Lincoln's kindly patience, even toward the rebellion. He was determined to leave no means untried that might, however remotely, lead to peace. For four hours he patiently answered the many questions they asked him, as to what would probably be done on various subjects if the South submitted; pointing out always the difference between the things that he had the power to decide, and those that must be submitted to Congress; and bringing the discussion back, time and again, to the three points absolutely necessary to secure peace—Union, freedom for the slaves, and complete disbandment of the Confederate armies. He had gone to offer them, honestly and frankly, the best terms in his power, but not to give up one atom of official dignity or duty. Their main thought, on the contrary, had been to postpone or to escape the express conditions on which they were admitted to the conference.

They returned to Richmond and reported the failure of their efforts to Jefferson Davis, whose disappointment equalled their own, for all had caught eagerly at the hope that this interview would somehow prove a means of escape from the dangers of their situation. President Lincoln, full of kindly thoughts, on the other hand, went back to Washington, intent on making yet one more generous offer to hasten the day of peace. He had told the commissioners that personally he would be in favor of the government paying a liberal amount for the loss of slave property, on condition that the southern States agree of their own accord to the freedom of the slaves. (*) This was indeed going to the extreme of liberality, but Mr. Lincoln remembered that notwithstanding all their offenses the rebels were American citizens, members of the same nation and brothers of the same blood. He remembered, too, that the object of the war, equally with peace and freedom, was to preserve friendship and to continue the Union. Filled with such thoughts and purposes he spent the day after his return in drawing up a new proposal designed as a peace offering to the States in rebellion. On the evening of February 5 he read this to his cabinet. It offered the southern States $400,000,000 or a sum equal to the cost of war for two hundred days, on condition that all fighting cease by the first of April, 1865. He proved more liberal than any of his advisers; and with the words, "You are all against me," sadly uttered, the President folded up the paper, and ended the discussion.

* Mr. Lincoln had freed the slaves two years before as a military necessity, and as such it had been accepted by all. Yet a question might arise, when the war ended, as to whether this act of his had been lawful. He was therefore very anxious to have freedom find a place in the Constitution of the United States. This could only be done by an amendment to the Constitution, proposed by Congress, and adopted by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States of the Union. Congress voted in favor of such an amendment on January 31, 1865. Illinois, the President's own State, adopted it on the very next day, and though Mr. Lincoln did not live to see it a part of the Constitution, Secretary Seward, on December 18, 1865, only a few months after Mr. Lincoln's death, was able to make official announcement that 29 States, constituting a majority of three-fourths of the 36 States of the Union, had adopted it, and that therefore it was the law of the land.

Jefferson Davis had issued a last appeal to "fire the southern heart," but the situation at Richmond was becoming desperate Flour cost a thousand dollars a barrel in Confederate money, and neither the flour nor the money were sufficient for their needs. Squads of guards were sent into the streets with directions to arrest every able-bodied man they met, and force him to work in defense of the town. It is said that the medical boards were ordered to excuse no one from military service who was well enough to bear arms for even ten days. Human nature will not endure a strain like this, and desertion grew too common to punish. Nevertheless the city kept up its defense until April 3. Even then, although hopelessly beaten, the Confederacy was not willing to give in, and much needless and severe fighting took place before the final end came. The rebel government hurried away toward the South, and Lee bent all his energies to saving his army and taking it to join General Johnston, who still held out against Sherman. Grant pursued him with such energy that he did not even allow himself the pleasure of entering the captured rebel capital. The chase continued six days. On the evening of April 8 the Union army succeeded in planting itself squarely across Lee's line of retreat; and the marching and fighting of his army were over for ever. On the next morning the two generals met in a house on the edge of the village of Appomattox, Virginia, Lee resplendent in a new uniform and handsome sword, Grant in the travel-stained garments in which he had made the campaign—the blouse of a private soldier, with the shoulder-straps of a Lieutenant-General. Here the surrender took place. Grant, as courteous in victory as he was energetic in war, offered Lee terms that were liberal in the extreme; and on learning that the Confederate soldiers were actually suffering with hunger, ordered that rations be issued to them at once.

Fire and destruction attended the flight of the Confederates from Richmond. Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, carrying with them their more important state papers, left the doomed city on one of the crowded and overloaded railroad trains on the night of April 2, beginning a southward flight that ended only with Mr. Davis's capture about a month later. The legislature of Virginia and the governor of the State departed hurriedly on a canal-boat in the direction of Lynchburg, while every possible carriage or vehicle was pressed into service by the inhabitants, all frantic to get away before their city was "desecrated" by the presence of the Yankees. By the time the military left, early on the morning of April 3, the town was on fire. The Confederate Congress had ordered all government tobacco and other public property to be burned. The rebel General Ewell, who was in charge of the city, asserts that he took the responsibility of disobeying, and that the fires were not started by his orders. Be that as it may, they broke out in various places, while a mob, crazed with excitement, and wild with the alcohol that had run freely in the gutters the night before, rushed from store to store, breaking in the doors, and indulging in all the wantonness of pillage and greed. Public spirit seemed paralyzed; no real effort was made to put out the flames, and as a final horror, the convicts from the penitentiary, overpowering their guards, appeared upon the streets, a maddened, shouting, leaping crowd, drunk with liberty.

It is quite possible that the very size and suddenness of the disaster served in a measure to lessen its evil effects; for the burning of seven hundred buildings, the entire business portion of Richmond, all in the brief space of a day, was a visitation so sudden, so stupefying and unexpected as to overawe and terrorize even evildoers. Before a new danger could arise help was at hand. Gen. Weitzel, to whom the city surrendered, took up his headquarters in the house lately occupied by Jefferson Davis, and promptly set about the work of relief; fighting the fire, issuing rations to the poor, and restoring order and authority. That a regiment of black soldiers assisted in this work of mercy must have seemed to the white inhabitants of Richmond the final drop in their cup of misery.

Into the rebel capital, thus stricken and laid waste, came President Lincoln on the morning of April 4. Never in the history of the world has the head of a mighty nation and the conqueror of a great rebellion entered the captured chief city of the insurgents in such humbleness and simplicity. He had gone two weeks before to City Point for a visit to General Grant, and to his son, Captain Robert Lincoln, who was serving on Grant's staff. Making his home on the steamer that brought him, and enjoying what was probably the most restful and satisfactory holiday in which he had been able to indulge during his whole presidential service, he had visited the various camps of the great army, in company with the General, cheered everywhere by the loving greetings of the soldiers. He had met Sherman when that commander hurried up fresh from his victorious march from Atlanta; and after Grant had started on his final pursuit of Lee the President still lingered. It was at City Point that the news came to him of the fall of Richmond.

Between the receipt of this news and the following forenoon, before any information of the great fire had reached them, a visit to the rebel capital was arranged for the President and Rear Admiral Porter. Ample precautions for their safety were taken at the start. The President went in his own steamer, the River Queen, with her escort, the Bat, and a tug used at City Point in landing from the steamer. Admiral Porter went in his flagship; while a transport carried a small cavalry escort, as well as ambulances for the party. Barriers in the river soon made it impossible to proceed in this fashion, and one unforeseen accident after another rendered it necessary to leave behind the larger and even the smaller boats; until finally the party went on in the Admiral's barge rowed by twelve sailors, without escort of any kind. In this manner the President made his entry into Richmond, landing near Libby Prison. As the party stepped ashore they found a guide among the contrabands who quickly crowded the streets, for the possible coming of the President had already been noised through the city. Ten of the sailors armed with carbines were formed as a guard, six in front, and four in rear, and between them the President and Admiral Porter, with the three officers who accompanied them, walked the long distance, perhaps a mile and a half, to the centre of the town.

Imagination can easily fill in the picture of a gradually increasing crowd, principally of negroes, following the little group of marines and officers with the tall form of the President in its centre; and, when they learned that it was indeed "Massa Lincum," expressing their joy and gratitude in fervent blessings and in the deep emotional cries of the colored race. It is easy also to imagine the sharp anxiety of those who had the President's safety in their charge during this tiresome and even foolhardy march through a town still in flames, whose white inhabitants were sullenly resentful at best, and whose grief and anger might at any moment break out against the man they looked upon as the chief author of their misfortunes. No accident befell him. He reached General Weitzel's headquarters in safety, rested in the house Jefferson Davis had occupied while President of the Confederacy; and after a day of sightseeing returned to his steamer and to Washington, there to be stricken down by an assassin's bullet, literally "in the house of his friends."


Refreshed in body by his visit to City Point and greatly cheered by the fall of Richmond, and unmistakable signs that the war was over, Mr. Lincoln went back to Washington intent on the new task opening before him—that of restoring the Union, and of bringing about peace and good will again between the North and the South. His whole heart was bent on the work of "binding up the nation's wounds" and doing all which lay in his power to "achieve a just and lasting peace." Especially did he desire to avoid the shedding of blood, or anything like acts of deliberate punishment. He talked to his cabinet in this strain on the morning of April 14, the last day of his life. "No one need expect that he would take any part in hanging or killing these men, even the worst of them," he exclaimed. Enough lives had been sacrificed already. Anger must be put aside. The great need now was to begin to act in the interest of peace. With these words of clemency and kindness in their ears they left him, never again to come together under his wise chairmanship.

Though it was invariably held in check by his vigorous common-sense, there was in Mr. Lincoln's nature a strong vein of poetry and mysticism. That morning he told his cabinet a strange story of a dream that he had had the night before—a dream which he said came to him before great events. He had dreamed it before the battles of Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg and Vicksburg. This time it must foretell a victory by Sherman over Johnston's army, news of which was hourly expected, for he knew of no other important event likely to occur. The members of the cabinet were deeply impressed; but General Grant, who had come to Washington that morning and was present, remarked with matter-of-fact exactness that Murfreesboro was no victory and had no important results. Not the wildest imagination of skeptic or mystic could have pictured the events under which the day was to close.

It was Good Friday, a day observed by a portion of the people with fasting and prayer, but even among the most devout the great news of the week just ended changed this time of traditional mourning into a season of general thanksgiving. For Mr. Lincoln it was a day of unusual and quiet happiness. His son Robert had returned from the field with General Grant, and the President spent an hour with the young captain in delighted conversation over the campaign. He denied himself generally to visitors, admitting only a few friends. In the afternoon he went for a long drive with Mrs. Lincoln. His mood, as it had been all day, was singularly happy and tender. He talked much of the past and future. After four years of trouble and tumult he looked forward to four years of quiet and normal work; after that he expected to go back again to Illinois and practice law. He was never more simple or more gentle than on this day of triumph. His heart overflowed with sentiments of gratitude to Heaven, which took the shape, usual to generous natures, of love and kindness to all men.

From the very beginning there had been threats to kill him. He was constantly receiving letters of warning from zealous or nervous friends. The War Department inquired into these when there seemed to be ground for doing so, but always without result. Warnings that appeared most definite proved on examination too vague and confused for further attention. The President knew that he was in some danger. Madmen frequently made their way to the very door of the Executive Office; sometimes into Mr. Lincoln's presence; but he himself had so sane a mind, and a heart so kindly even to his enemies, that it was hard for him to believe in political hatred deadly enough to lead to murder. He summed up the matter by saying that since he must receive both friends and strangers every day, his life was of course within the reach of any one, sane or mad, who was ready to murder and be hanged for it, and that he could not possibly guard against all danger unless he shut himself up in an iron box, where he could scarcely perform the duties of a President.

He therefore went in and out before the people, always unarmed, generally unattended. He received hundreds of visitors in a day, his breast bare to pistol or knife. He walked at midnight, with a single Secretary or alone, from the Executive Mansion to the War Department and back. In summer he rode through lonely roads from the White House to the Soldiers' Home in the dusk of the evening, and returned to his work in the morning before the town was astir. He was greatly annoyed when it was decided that there must be a guard at the Executive Mansion, and that a squad of cavalry must accompany him on his daily drive; but he was always reasonable, and yielded to the best judgment of others.

Four years of threats and boastings that were unfounded, and of plots that came to nothing passed away, until precisely at the time when the triumph of the nation seemed assured, and a feeling of peace and security settled over the country, one of the conspiracies, seemingly no more important than the others, ripened in a sudden heat of hatred and despair.

A little band of desperate secessionists, of which John Wilkes Booth, an actor of a family of famous players, was the head, had their usual meeting-place at the house of Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, the mother of one of the number. Booth was a young man of twenty-six, strikingly handsome, with an ease and grace of manner which came to him of right from his theatrical ancestors. He was a fanatical southerner, with a furious hatred against Lincoln and the Union. After Lincoln's reelection he went to Canada, and associated with the Confederate agents there; and whether or not with their advice, made a plan to capture the President and take him to Richmond. He passed a great part of the autumn and winter pursuing this fantastic scheme, but the winter wore away, and nothing was done. On March 4 he was at the Capitol, and created a disturbance by trying to force his way through the line of policemen who guarded the passage through which the President walked to the East front of the building to read his Second Inaugural. His intentions at this time are not known. He afterwards said he lost an excellent chance of killing the President that day.

After the surrender of Lee, in a rage akin to madness, he called his fellow-conspirators together and allotted to each his part in the new crime which had risen in his mind. It was as simple as it was horrible. One man was to kill Secretary Seward, another to make way with Andrew Johnson, at the same time that he murdered the President. The final preparations were made with feverish haste. It was only about noon of the fourteenth that Booth learned that Mr. Lincoln meant to go to Ford's Theatre that night to see the play "Our American Cousin." The President enjoyed the theatre. It was one of his few means of recreation, and as the town was then thronged with soldiers and officers all eager to see him, he could, by appearing in public, gratify many whom he could not personally meet.

Mrs. Lincoln asked General and Mrs. Grant to accompany her. They accepted, and the announcement that they would be present was made in the evening papers, but they changed their plans and went north by an afternoon train. Mrs. Lincoln then invited in their stead Miss Harris and Major Rathbone, daughter and stepson of Senator Ira Harris. Being detained by visitors, the play had made some progress when the President appeared.. The band struck up "Hail to the Chief," the actors ceased playing, the audience rose and cheered, the President bowed in acknowledgment, and the play went on again.

From the moment he learned of the President's intention Booth's actions were alert and energetic. He and his confederates were seen in every part of the city. Booth was perfectly at home in Ford's Theatre. He counted upon audacity to reach the small passage behind the President's box. Once there, he guarded against interference by arranging a wooden bar, to be fastened by a simple mortice in the angle of the wall and the door by which he entered, so that once shut, the door could not be opened from the outside. He even provided for the chance of not gaining entrance to the box by boring a hole in the door, through which he might either observe the occupants, or take aim and shoot. He hired at a livery stable a small fleet horse.

A few moments before ten o'clock, leaving his horse at the rear of the theatre, in charge of a call-boy, he entered the building, passing rapidly to the little hallway leading to the President's box. Showing a card to the servant in attendance, he was allowed to enter, closed the door noiselessly, and secured it with the wooden bar he had made ready, without disturbing any of the occupants of the box, between whom and himself yet remained the partition and the door through which he had bored the hole.

No one, not even the actor who uttered them, could ever remember the last words of the piece that were spoken that night—the last that Abraham Lincoln heard upon earth; for the tragedy in the box turned play and players alike to the most unsubstantial of phantoms. For weeks hate and brandy had kept Booth's brain in a morbid state. He seemed to himself to be taking part in a great play. Holding a pistol in one hand and a knife in the other, he opened the box door, put the pistol to the President's head, and fired. Major Rathbone sprang to grapple with him, and received a savage knife wound in the arm. Then, rushing forward, Booth placed his hand on the railing of the box and vaulted to the stage. It was a high leap, but nothing to such a trained athlete. He would have got safely away, had not his spur caught in the flag that draped the front of the box. He fell, the torn flag trailing on his spur; but though the fall had broken his leg, he rose instantly brandishing his knife and shouting, "Sic Semper Tyrannis!" fled rapidly across the stage and out of sight. Major Rathbone shouted, "Stop him!" The cry, "He has shot the President!" rang through the theatre, and from the audience, stupid at first with surprise, and wild afterward with excitement and horror, men jumped upon the stage in pursuit of the assassin. But he ran through the familiar passages, leaped upon his horse, rewarding with a kick and a curse the boy who held him, and escaped into the night.

The President scarcely moved. His head drooped forward slightly, his eyes closed. Major Rathbone, not regarding his own grievous hurt, rushed to the door to summon aid. He found it barred, and someone on the outside beating and clamoring to get in. It was at once seen that the President's wound was mortal. He was carried across the street to a house opposite, and laid upon a bed. Mrs. Lincoln followed, tenderly cared for by Miss Harris. Rathbone, exhausted by loss of blood, fainted, and was taken home. Messengers were sent for the cabinet, for the Surgeon-General, for Dr. Stone the President's family physician, and for others whose official or private relations with Mr. Lincoln gave them the right to be there. A crowd of people rushed instinctively to the White House, and bursting through the doors shouted the dreadful news to Robert Lincoln and Major Hay who sat together in an upper room.

The President had been shot a few minutes after ten o'clock. The wound would have brought instant death to most men. He was unconscious from the first moment, but he breathed throughout the night, his gaunt face scarcely paler than those of the sorrowing men around him. At twenty-two minutes past seven in the morning he died. Secretary Stanton broke the silence by saying, "Now he belongs to the ages."

Booth had done his work thoroughly. His principal accomplice had acted with equal audacity and cruelty, but with less fatal result. Under pretext of having a package of medicine to deliver, he forced his way to the room of the Secretary of State, who lay ill, and attacked him, inflicting three terrible knife wounds on his neck and cheek, wounding also the Secretary's two sons, a servant, and a soldier nurse who tried to overpower him. Finally breaking away, he ran downstairs, reached the door unhurt, and springing upon his horse rode off. It was feared that neither the Secretary nor his eldest son would live, but both in time recovered.

Although Booth had been recognized by dozens of people as he stood before the footlights brandishing his dagger, his swift horse soon carried him beyond any hap-hazard pursuit. He crossed the Navy Yard bridge and rode into Maryland, being joined by one of his fellow-conspirators. A surgeon named Mudd set Booth's leg and sent him on his desolate way. For ten days the two men lived the lives of hunted animals. On the night of April 25 they were surrounded as they lay sleeping in a barn in Caroline County, Virginia. Booth refused to surrender. The barn was fired, and while it was burning he was shot by Boston Corbett, a sergeant of cavalry. He lingered for about three hours in great pain, and died at seven in the morning. The remaining conspirators were tried by military commission. Four were hanged, including the assailant of Secretary Seward, and the others were sentenced to imprisonment for various lengths of time.

Upon the hearts of a people glowing with the joy of victory the news of the President's death fell as a great shock. In the unspeakable calamity the country lost sight of the great national successes of the past week; and thus it came to pass that there was never any organized celebration in the North over the downfall of the rebellion. It was unquestionably best that it should be so. Lincoln himself would not have had it otherwise, for he hated the arrogance of triumph. As it was, the South could take no offense at a grief so genuine; and the people of that section even shared, to a certain extent, in the mourning for one who, in their inmost hearts, they knew to have wished them well.

Within an hour after Mr. Lincoln's body was taken to the White House the town was shrouded in black. Not only the public buildings, the shops, and the better class of dwellings were draped in funeral decorations; still more touching proof of affection was shown in the poorest class of homes, where laboring men of both colors found means in their poverty to afford some scanty bit of mourning. The interest and veneration of the people still centered at the White House, where, under a tall catafalque in the East Room the late chief lay in the majesty of death, rather than in the modest tavern on Pennsylvania Avenue, where the new President had his lodgings, and where the Chief Justice administered the oath of office to him at eleven o'clock on the morning of April 15.

It was determined that the funeral ceremonies in Washington should be held on Wednesday, April 19, and all the churches throughout the country were invited to join at the same time in appropriate observances. The ceremonies in the East Room were simple and brief, while all the pomp and circumstance that the government could command were employed to give a fitting escort from the Executive Mansion to the Capitol, where the body of the President lay in state. The procession moved to the booming of minute guns, and the tolling of all the bells in Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria; while, to associate the pomp of the day with the greatest work of Lincoln's life, a detachment of colored troops marched at the head of the line.

When it was announced that he was to be buried at Springfield every town and city on the way begged that the train might halt within its limits, to give its people opportunity of showing their grief and reverence. It was finally arranged that the funeral cortege should follow substantially the same route over which Lincoln had come in 1861 to take possession of the office to which he added a new dignity and value for all time. On April 21, accompanied by a guard of honor, and in a train decked with somber trappings, the journey was begun. At Baltimore, through which, four years before, it was a question whether the President-elect could pass with safety to his life, the coffin was taken with reverent care to the great dome of the Exchange, where, surrounded with evergreens and lilies, it lay for several hours, the people passing by in mournful throngs. The same demonstration was repeated, gaining constantly in depth of feeling and solemn splendor of display in every city through which the procession passed. In New York came General Scott, pale and feeble, but resolute, to pay his tribute of respect to his departed friend and commander.

Springfield was reached on the morning of May 3. The body lay in state in the Capitol, which was richly draped from roof to basement in black velvet and silver fringe, while within it was a bower of bloom and fragrance. For twenty-four hours an unbroken stream of people passed through, bidding their friend and neighbor welcome home and farewell. At ten o'clock on the morning of May 4 the coffin lid was closed, and vast procession moved out to Oak Ridge, where the town had set apart a lovely spot for his grave. Here the dead President was committed to the soil of the State which had so loved and honored him. The ceremonies at the grave were simple and touching. Bishop Simpson delivered a pathetic oration, prayers were offered, and hymns were sung, but the weightiest and most eloquent words uttered anywhere that day were those of the Second Inaugural, which the Committee had wisely ordained to be read over his grave, as centuries before, the friends of the painter Raphael chose the incomparable canvas of "The Transfiguration" to be the chief ornament of his funeral.

Though President Lincoln lived to see the real end of the war, various bodies of Confederate troops continued to hold out for some time longer. General Johnston faced Sherman's army in the Carolinas until April 26, while General E. Kirby Smith, west of the Mississippi River, did not surrender until May 26.

As rapidly as possible Union volunteer regiments were disbanded, and soon the mighty host of 1,000,000 men was reduced to a peace footing of only 25,000. Before the great army melted away into the greater body of citizens its soldiers enjoyed one final triumph—a march through the capital of the nation, undisturbed by death or danger, under the eyes of their highest commanders and the representatives of the people whose country they had saved. Those who witnessed the solemn yet joyous pageant will never forget it; and pray that their children may never see its like. For two days this formidable host marched the long stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue, starting from the shadow of the Capitol and filling the wide street as far as Georgetown, its serried ranks moving with the easy yet rapid pace of veterans in cadence step. As a mere spectacle this march of the mightiest host the continent has ever seen was grand and imposing, but it was not as a spectacle alone that it affected the beholder. It was no holiday parade. It was an army of citizens on their way home after a long and terrible war. Their clothes were worn, and pierced with bullets, their banners had been torn with shot and shell, and lashed in the winds of many battles. The very drums and fifes had called out the troops to night alarms, and sounded the onset on historic fields. The whole country claimed these heroes as part of themselves. They were not soldiers by profession or from love of fighting; they had become soldiers only to save their country's life. Now, done with war, they were going joyously and peaceably back to their homes to take up the tasks they had willingly laid down in the hour of their country's need.

Friends loaded them with flowers as they swung down the Avenue—both men and officers, until some were fairly hidden under their fragrant burden. Grotesque figures were not absent, as Sherman's legions passed with their "bummers" and their regimental pets. But with all the shouting and the joy there was, in the minds of all who saw it, one sad and ever-recurring thought—the memory of the men who were absent, and who had, nevertheless, so richly earned the right to be there. The soldiers in their shrunken companies thought of the brave comrades who had fallen by the way; and through the whole vast army there was passionate unavailing regret for their wise, gentle and powerful friend Abraham Lincoln, gone forever from the big white house by the Avenue—who had called the great host into being, directed the course of the nation during the four years that they had been battling for its life, and to whom, more than to any other, this crowning peaceful pageant would have been full of deep and happy meaning.

Why was this man so loved that his death caused a whole nation to forget its triumph, and turned its gladness into mourning? Why has his fame grown with the passing years until now scarcely a speech is made or a newspaper printed that does not have within it somewhere a mention of his name or some phrase or sentence that fell from his lips? Let us see if we can, what it was that made Abraham Lincoln the man that he became.

A child born to an inheritance of want; a boy growing into a narrow world of ignorance; a youth taking up the burden of coarse and heavy labor; a man entering on the doubtful struggle of a local backwoods career—these were the beginnings of Abraham Lincoln if we look at them only in the hard practical spirit which takes for its motto that "Nothing succeeds but success." If we adopt a more generous as well as a truer view, then we see that it was the brave hopeful spirit, the strong active mind, and the great law of moral growth that accepts the good and rejects the bad, which Nature gave this obscure child, that carried him to the service of mankind and the admiration of the centuries as certainly as the acorn grows to be the oak.

Even his privations helped the end. Self-reliance, the strongest trait of the pioneer was his by blood and birth and training, and was developed by the hardships of his lot to the mighty power needed to guide our country through the struggle of the Civil War.

The sense of equality was his also, for he grew from childhood to manhood in a state of society where there were neither rich to envy nor poor to despise, and where the gifts and hardships of the forest were distributed without favor to each and all alike. In the forest he learned charity, sympathy, helpfulness—in a word neighborliness—for in that far-off frontier life all the wealth of India, had a man possessed it, could not have bought relief from danger or help in time of need, and neighborliness became of prime importance. Constant opportunity was found there to practice the virtue which Christ declared to be next to the love of God—to love one's neighbor as oneself.

In such settlements, far removed from courts and jails, men were brought face to face with questions of natural right. The pioneers not only understood the American doctrine of self-government—they lived it. It was this understanding, this feeling, which taught Lincoln to write: "When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government that is despotism;" and also to give utterance to its twin truth: "He who would be no slave must consent to have no slave."

Lincoln was born in the slave State of Kentucky. He lived there only a short time, and we have reason to believe that wherever he might have grown up, his very nature would have spurned the doctrine and practice of human slavery. Yet, though he hated slavery, he never hated the slave-holder. His feeling of pardon and sympathy for Kentucky and the South played no unimportant part in his dealings with grave problems of statesmanship. It is true that he struck slavery its death blow with the hand of war, but at the same time he offered the slaveowner golden payment with the hand of peace.

Abraham Lincoln was not an ordinary man. He was, in truth, in the language of the poet Lowell, a "new birth of our new soil." His greatness did not consist in growing up on the frontier. An ordinary man would have found on the frontier exactly what he would have found elsewhere—a commonplace life, varying only with the changing ideas and customs of time and place. But for the man with extraordinary powers of mind and body—for one gifted by Nature as Abraham Lincoln was gifted, the pioneer life with its severe training in self-denial, patience and industry, developed his character, and fitted him for the great duties of his after life as no other training could have done.

His advancement in the astonishing career that carried him from obscurity to world-wide fame—from postmaster of New Salem village to President of the United States, from captain of a backwoods volunteer company to Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, was neither sudden nor accidental, nor easy. He was both ambitious and successful, but his ambition was moderate, and his success was slow. And, because his success was slow, it never outgrew either his judgment or his powers. Between the day when he left his father's cabin and launched his canoe on the headwaters of the Sangamon River to begin life on his own account, and the day of his first inauguration, lay full thirty years of toil, self-denial, patience; often of effort baffled, of hope deferred; sometimes of bitter disappointment. Even with the natural gift of great genius it required an average lifetime and faithful unrelaxing effort, to transform the raw country stripling into a fit ruler for this great nation.

Almost every success was balanced—sometimes overbalanced, by a seeming failure. He went into the Black Hawk war a captain, and through no fault of his own, came out a private. He rode to the hostile frontier on horseback, and trudged home on foot. His store "winked out." His surveyor's compass and chain, with which he was earning a scanty living, were sold for debt. He was defeated in his first attempts to be nominated for the legislature and for Congress; defeated in his application to be appointed Commissioner of the General Land Office; defeated for the Senate when he had forty-five votes to begin with by a man who had only five votes to begin with; defeated again after his joint debates with Douglas; defeated in the nomination for Vice-President, when a favorable nod from half a dozen politicians would have brought him success.

Failures? Not so. Every seeming defeat was a slow success. His was the growth of the oak, and not of Jonah's gourd. He could not become a master workman until he had served a tedious apprenticeship. It was the quarter of a century of reading, thinking, speech-making and lawmaking which fitted him to be the chosen champion of freedom in the great Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. It was the great moral victory won in those debates (although the senatorship went to Douglas) added to the title "Honest Old Abe," won by truth and manhood among his neighbors during a whole lifetime, that led the people of the United States to trust him with the duties and powers of President.

And when, at last, after thirty years of endeavor, success had beaten down defeat, when Lincoln had been nominated, elected and inaugurated, came the crowning trial of his faith and constancy. When the people, by free and lawful choice, had placed honor and power in his hands, when his name could convene Congress, approve laws, cause ships to sail and armies to move, there suddenly came upon the government and the nation a fatal paralysis. Honor seemed to dwindle and power to vanish. Was he then after all not to be President? Was patriotism dead? Was the Constitution only a bit of waste paper? Was the Union gone?

The outlook was indeed grave. There was treason in Congress, treason in the Supreme Court, treason in the army and navy. Confusion and discord were everywhere. To use Mr. Lincoln's forcible figure of speech, sinners were calling the righteous to repentance. Finally the flag, insulted and fired upon, trailed in surrender at Sumter; and then came the humiliation of the riot at Baltimore, and the President for a few days practically a prisoner in the capital of the nation.

But his apprenticeship had been served, and there was to be no more failure. With faith and justice and generosity he conducted for four long years a war whose frontiers stretched from the Potomac to the Rio Grande; whose soldiers numbered a million men on each side. The labor, the thought, the responsibility, the strain of mind and anguish of soul that he gave to this great task, who can measure? "Here was place for no holiday magistrate, no fair weather sailor," as Emerson justly said of him. "The new pilot was hurried to the helm in a tornado. In four years—four years of battle days—his endurance, his fertility of resources, his magnanimity, were sorely tried and never found wanting." "By his courage, his justice, his even temper, his humanity, he stood a heroic figure in the centre of a heroic epoch."

What but a lifetime's schooling in disappointment, what but the pioneer's self-reliance and freedom from prejudice, what but the clear mind, quick to see natural right and unswerving in its purpose to follow it; what but the steady self-control, the unwarped sympathy, the unbounded charity of this man with spirit so humble and soul so great, could have carried him through the labors he wrought to the victory he attained?

With truth it could be written, "His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong." So, "with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gave him to see the right" he lived and died. We who have never seen him yet feel daily the influence of his kindly life, and cherish among our most precious possessions the heritage of his example.


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