The Life, Public Services and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln

By Henry J. Raymond

Chapter 20



IT seems hardly credible that four years should embrace within their narrow limit so immense a change  as the four years of Mr. Lincoln's first Administration had  brought to the country and to himself. When, on the 4th  of March, 1861, he took the oath of office, administered  to him by Chief-Justice Taney, the horizon was dark  with storms, whose duration and violence were as yet  happily unknown. He himself, as he stood on the steps  of the Capitol, was an untried man, sneered at by those  who had held the reins of power in the country, an  object for the rising hate of the aspiring aristocracy of  the South, which had already sought his life, and would  have sought it with still greater vindictiveness, if a tithe  of the sagacity, firmness, honesty, and patriotism which  animated his breast had been understood; even then an  object of interest and growing affection, comparatively  unknown as he was even to his own friends, to those  who saw the danger which was overhanging the country,  and were nerving themselves to meet it.

But now the fierceness of the storm seemed to be passing away, and clearer skies to be seen through the rolling  clouds. The citizen, who, four years before, was utterly untried and unknown, was now the chosen leader of a nation of thirty million people, who trusted in his honesty as they  trusted in the eternal principles of Nature, who believed  him to be wise, and knew him to be abundant in patience  and kindness of heart, with an army of half a million men and a navy of hundreds of vessels at his command,  one of the most powerful, certainly the most loved of all  the leaders of the nations of the earth. There could be  but one higher step for him to attain, and to that, also, in  the order of Providence, he was soon to be called.

The scene of his re-inauguration was a striking one.  The morning had been inclement, storming so violently  that up to a few minutes before twelve o'clock it was  supposed that the Inaugural Address would have to be  delivered in the Senate Chamber. But the people had  gathered in immense numbers before the Capitol, in spite  of the storm, and just before noon the rain ceased and the  clouds broke away, and, as the President took the oath of  office, the blue sky appeared above, a small white cloud,  like a hovering bird, seemed to hang above his head, and  the sunlight broke through the clouds and fell upon him  with a glory, afterwards felt to have been an emblem of  the martyr's crown, which was so soon to rest upon his  head.

The oath of office was administered by Chief-Justice  Chase, and the President delivered his second Inaugural  Address as follows:--

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 very 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 energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.

The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly 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 avoid 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 with 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 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, 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 prayer 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 these 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 there 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 bondsman'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 that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us 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 orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The only change which was made in the Cabinet was  one made necessary by the resignation, in consequence of  his election to the Senate, of Mr. Fessenden, Secretary of  the Treasury, whose post was filled on the 6th of March,  by the appointment of the Hon. Hugh McCullough, of  Indiana. With this exception, affairs went on as before, without any perceptible change in their working in consequence of the change of Administration.

The Senate met in extra session, and at once had a  sharp debate on the admission of the Senators from Arkansas, whose credentials were finally ordered to be sent  to the Committee of the Judiciary. The other business  before the Senate was Executive merely.

One of the acts passed by Congress near the close of  the session was an amendment of the laws for calling  out the National forces, one provision of which directed  the President to issue a proclamation, calling upon deserters to return to their duty within sixty days. Accordingly, on the 11th of March, the proclamation was  issued as follows:--


Whereas, the twenty-first section of the act of Congress, approved on the 3d instant, entitled "An Act to amend the several acts heretofore passed to provide for the enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes," requires that, in addition to the other lawful penalties of the crime of desertion from the military or naval service, all persons who have deserted the military or naval service of the United States who shall not return to said service or report themselves to a provost-marshal within sixty days after the proclamation hereinafter mentioned, shall be deemed and taken to have voluntarily relinquished and forfeited their citizenship and their right to become citizens, and such deserters shall be forever incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under the United States, or of exercising any rights of citizens thereof; and all persons who shall hereafter desert the military or naval service, and all persons who, being duly enrolled, shall depart the jurisdiction of the district in which they are enrolled, or go beyond the limits of the United States with intent to avoid any draft into the military or naval service duly ordered, shall be liable to the penalties of this section; and the President is hereby authorized and required forthwith, on the passage of this act, to issue his proclamation setting forth the provisions of this section, in which proclamation the President is requested to notify all deserters returning within sixty days as aforesaid that they shall be pardoned on condition of returning to their regiments and companies, or to such other organizations as they may be assigned to, until they shall have served for a period of time equal to their original term of enlistment:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do issue this my proclamation as required by said act, ordering and requiring all deserters to return to their proper posts; and I do hereby notify them that all deserters who shall within sixty days from the date of this proclamation, viz., on or before the 10th day of May, 1865, return to service or report themselves to a provost-marshal, shall be pardoned on condition that they return to their regiments of companies or to such other organization as they may be assigned to, and serve the remainder of their original terms of enlistment, and in addition thereto a period equal to the time lost by desertion.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

[L. S.]


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

In addition to the increase of our armies which this proclamation gave--for great numbers of deserters availed  themselves of its provisions--the draft, which had been  often postponed, was fairly put in operation on the 15th  of March;--not that there was so pressing and immediate a need of men, for the tide of military successes  continued to roll in full and strong in our favor; but the  authorities felt called upon to provide for future contingencies, which happily never arose.

On every hand the prospects of the rebellion were  growing darker. The stream of deserters from Lee's lines  was growing larger and larger, most of the men bringing  their arms with them, and all uniting in the same story of  the demoralization of those they had left behind. In their  extremity, the rebel leaders even began to turn to the  negro for help, and various propositions were introduced  into the rebel Congress looking towards the employment  of slaves as soldiers. The measure, however, was not a  popular one, for it was felt to be a practical abandonment  of those ideas of slavery for whose supremacy the rebellion had been set on foot. At one time the proposition  before the rebel Senate for arming the slaves was defeated  by one vote. The President referred to this extremity of  theirs, and this means of relief which they had sought, in a  speech which he made when a rebel flag, captured at  Anderson by the One Hundred and Fortieth Indiana Volunteers, was presented to Governor Morton in front of the  National Hotel on the 17th of March. A large crowd was  in attendance. Governor Morton made a brief speech, in  which he congratulated his auditors on the speedily approaching end of the rebellion, and concluded by introducing President Lincoln, whose purity and patriotism were  confessed, he said, by all, even among the most violent  of his opponents. His Administration would be recognized as the most important epoch of history. It had  struck the death-blow to slavery, and clothed the Republic with a power it never before possessed. If he  had done nothing more than put his name to the Emancipation Proclamation, that act alone would have made his  name immortal.

The President addressed the assembly substantially as  follows:--

FELLOW-CITIZENS:-- It will be but a very few words that I shall undertake to say. I was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and lived in Illinois; and now I am here, where it is my business to care equally for the good people of all the States. I am glad to see an Indiana regiment on this day able to present the captured flag to the Governor of Indiana. I am not disposed, in saying this, to make a distinction between the States, for all have done equally well.

There are but few views or aspects of this great war upon which I have not said or written something whereby my own opinions might be known. But there is one--the recent attempt of our erring brethren, as they are sometimes called, to employ the negro to fight for them. I have neither written nor made a speech on that subject, because that was their business, not mine, and if I had a wish upon the subject, I had not the power to introduce it, or make it effective. The great question with them was whether the negro, being put into the army, will fight for them. I do not know, and therefore cannot decide. They ought to know better than me. I have in my lifetime heard many arguments why the negroes ought to be slaves; but if they fight for those who would keep them in slavery, it will be a better argument than any I have yet heard. He who will fight for that, ought to be a slave. They have concluded, at last, to take one out of four of the slaves and put them in the army, and that one out of the four who will fight to keep the others in slavery, ought to be a slave himself, unless he is killed in a fight. While I have often said that all men ought to be free, yet would I allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be, and next to them those white people who argue in favor of making other people slaves. I am in favor of giving an appointment to such white men to try it on for these slaves. I will say one thing in regard to the negroes being employed to fight for them. I do know he cannot fight and stay at home and make bread too. And as one is about as important as the other to them, I don't care which they do. I am rather in favor of having them try them as soldiers. They lack one vote of doing that, and I wish I could send my vote over the river so that I might cast it in favor of allowing the negro to fight. But they cannot fight and work both. We must now see the bottom of the enemy's resources. They will stand out as long as they can, and if the negro will fight for them they must allow him to fight. They have drawn upon their last branch of resources, and we can now see the bottom. I am glad to see the end so near at hand. I have said now more than I intended, and will therefore bid you good-by.

But even the culminating interest of affairs before Richmond did not absorb exclusively the President's attention.  On the 17th he issued the following proclamation against  persons furnishing arms to the hostile Indians in the  West, who, stirred up by emissaries from the rebels, or  coming to the conclusion from their own judgment, that  while the white men were thus fighting each other, it was  surely a good time for the red man to strike, had, on more  than one occasion, since the rebellion broke out, spread  terror and destruction over the Northwest.

Whereas, Reliable information has been received that hostile Indians within the limits of the United States have been furnished with arms and munitions of war by persons dwelling in foreign territory, and are thereby enabled to prosecute their savage warfare upon the exposed and sparse settlements of the frontier: Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim and direct that all persons engaged in that nefarious traffic shall be arrested and tried by court-martial, at the nearest military post, and if convicted, shall receive the punishment due to their deserts.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this 17th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1865, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.

[L. S.]

By the President:


WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Two days afterwards the following orders were issued by  the State Department, directed against blockade-runners, a class who had been treated too long with leniency and  allowed too many facilities for carrying on their traffic,  which had greatly prolonged the war and increased its  burdens and difficulties:--


The President directs that all persons who now are or hereafter shall be found within the United States, and who have been engaged in holding intercourse or trade with the insurgents by sea, if they are citizens of the United States or domiciled aliens, be arrested and held as prisoners of war till the war shall close; subject, nevertheless, to prosecution, trial, and conviction for any offence committed by them, as spies or otherwise, against the laws of war.

The President further directs that all non-resident foreigners who now are or hereafter shall be found in the United States, and who have been or shall have been engaged in violating the blockade of the insurgent ports, shall leave the United States within twelve days from the publication of this order, or from their subsequent arrival in the United States if on the Atlantic side, and forty days if on the Pacific side of the country. And such persons shall not return to the United States during the continuance of the war.

Provost-Marshals and Marshals of the United States will arrest and commit to military custody all such offenders as shall disregard this order, whether they have passports or not, and they will be detained in such custody until the end of the war, or until discharged by subsequent order of the President.

WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

There was some little talk during the first part of the  month about negotiations for peace. The rebels seem to  have thought that, having failed so utterly in their conference with the President and Mr. Seward, they might  do better if they could succeed in opening negotiations  directly with General Grant. The President, however,  again defeated them by sending the following order:--

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 minor and purely military matter. He instructs me to say 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. Meantime you are to press to the utmost your military advantages.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

The official duties which devolved upon the President  were very heavy after his inauguration. The coming  in of a new Administration, though there was so  little change, called forth a swarm of office-seekers,  and the President's time and strength were severely  taxed. He was for a time quite ill, and about the 24th of  March took refuge in a visit to the Army of the Potomac. On the 25th, General Lee had made a sudden and  desperate attack upon Fort Stedman, an important position on the right of our lines before Petersburg, commanding our communications with City Point. By a  surprise, the rebels carried the fort and took some prisoners. But the neighboring fortifications turned a terrible fire upon it, and our troops, by a gallant assault, drove  the rebels out with great loss, so that the day, which began  with their success, was turned into a disastrous defeat for  them. An attack was also made by our forces on our  left, and important advantages were gained in that  quarter. The President was visiting the army at the  time, and arrived on the field in time to witness the retreat of the rebels, and to learn the story of their attack  and repulse from General Parke, whose brave fellows of  the Ninth Corps had retaken Fort Stedman. The Presidential party continued on their route to the extreme right,  going within six miles of Richmond. On their ride they  witnessed the crossing to the south side of the James of  General Sheridan's cavalry, with which, after having  raided in the early part of the month to the west of Richmond, defeated General Early utterly at Waynesboro',  and destroyed the James River Canal, and the Lynchburg Railroad, and done inestimable damage to the rebels,  he had come back by way of the White House, on the  Pamunkey, and was now crossing to the south side of the  James to take a prominent part in the approaching decisive assault upon the army of General Lee.

General Sherman effected a junction with the forces  under General Terry's command, at Goldsboro', N. C.,  on the 19th of March.

There were not Wanting those who thought that his march into North Carolina was a march into danger.  Said one of these persons to the President one day:-

Mr. Lincoln, as Sherman's army advances, the rebel forces necessarily concentrate and increase in number. Before long Sherman will drive the columns of Johnston, Bragg, Hoke, and others, within a few days' march of Lee's main army. May not Lee suddenly march south with the bulk of his army, form a junction with Johnston's troops, and before Grant can follow any considerable distance, strike Sherman's column with superior force, break his lines, defeat his army, and drive his broken fragments back to the coast, and with his whole army give battle to Grant, and perhaps defeat him?

"And perhaps not," replied the President. " Napoleon tried the same game on the British and Prussians, in 1815. He concentrated his forces and fell suddenly on Blucher, and won an indecisive victory. He then whirled round and attacked the British, and met his Waterloo. Bonaparte was hardly inferior to Lee in military talents or experience.

"But are you sure that Lee's forces, united with Johnston's, could beat Sherman's army? Could he gain his Ligny, before meeting with his Waterloo when he attacks Grant? I tell you, gentlemen, there is a heap of fight in one hundred thousand Western veterans. They are a good deal like old Zach. Taylor at Buena Vista--they don't know when they are whipped."

The President's judgment was better, his hopefulness  better founded, than the misgivings of his questioner.

Upon General Sherman's arrival at Goldsboro', he made  a journey to City Point, where he and General Grant held  consultation together, and with the President, as to the  campaign now about to commence. General Sherman  immediately returned to his command, and on the 30th  the decisive final movement of the war was begun by  General Sheridan, who moved his cavalry towards the  south and the left of our army. It had been the plan  that he should make a raid upon the Southside Railroad,  but when he had gone as far as Dinwiddie Court-House,  he was ordered by General Grant to abandon the raid,  and, in concert with the infantry under his own immediate  command, endeavor to turn Lee's right flank.

There was heavy fighting in that part of the lines on  the 30th and the 31st of March, for Lee knew that where  Sheridan was he must have a strong front to meet him, and the rebel troops were thrown out in that part of the  lines in heavy force. The President remained at City  Point, and at 3 P. M. sent the following telegram to the  Secretary of War:--

At 12.30 P. M. to-day, General Grant telegraphed me as follows:

There has been much hard fighting this morning. The enemy drove our left from near Dabney's house back well towards the Boydton Plankroad. We are now about to take the offensive at that point, and I hope will more than recover the lost ground.

Later he telegraphed again as follows:

Our troops, after being driven back to the Boydton Plankroad, turned and drove the enemy in turn, and took the White Oak road, which we now have. This gives us the ground occupied by the enemy this morning. I will send you a rebel flag captured by our troops in driving the enemy back. There have been four flags captured to-day.

Judging by the two points from which General Grant telegraphs, I infer that he moved his head-quarters about one mile since he sent the first of the two dispatches.


On the 1st of April, General Sheridan's plans and the  valor of the troops proved successful. The rebels being  flanked by the Fifth Corps, which had been placed under  his command, and vigorously attacked in front by the  cavalry, were thoroughly routed, with a loss of five or  six thousand prisoners, besides killed and wounded.

The only dispatch received from the President on this  day was one sent before the final success was achieved,  which was not till late in the afternoon.

The rebel right wing having been thus crushed, General  Grant not only threw his indomitable left forward, but  ordered a general attack all along the lines at daylight  next morning, which proved everywhere successful.

The following dispatches were sent by the President  during the day, and give a succinct account of the battle  and its results:--

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, April 2, 1865--8.30 A. M.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

Last night General Grant telegraphed that General Sheridan, with his cavalry and the Fifth Corps, had captured three brigades of infantry, a train of wagons, and several batteries; the prisoners amounting to several thousand.

This morning General Grant, having ordered an attack along the whole line, telegraphs as follows:--

Both Wright and Parke got through the enemy's lines. The battle now rages furiously. General Sheridan, with his cavalry, the Fifth Corps, and Miles's Division of the Second Corps, which was sent to him this morning, is now sweeping down from the west.

All now looks highly favorable. General Ord is engaged, but I have not yet heard the result in his front.


CITY POINT, 11 A. M., April 2.

Dispatches are frequently coming in. All is going on finely. Generals Parke, Wright, and Ord's lines are extending from the Appomattox to Hatcher's Run. They have all broken through the enemy's intrenched lines, taking some forts, guns, and prisoners.

Sheridan, with his own cavalry, the Fifth Corps, and part of the Second, is coming in from the west on the enemy's flank. Wright is already tearing up the Southside Railroad.



At 10.45 A. M. General Grant telegraphs as follows:--

Every thing has been carried from the left of the Ninth Corps. The Sixth Corps alone captured more than three thousand prisoners. The Second and Twenty-fourth Corps captured forts, guns, and prisoners from the enemy, but I cannot tell the numbers. We are now closing around the works of the line immediately enveloping Petersburg. All looks remarkably well. I have not yet heard from Sheridan. His head-quarters have been moved up to Banks's House, near the Boydton road, about three miles south west of Petersburg.


CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, April 2, 8.30 P. M.

At 4.30 P. M. to-day General Grant telegraphs as follows:--

We are now up and have a continuous line of troops, and in a few hours will be intrenched from the Appomattox below Petersburg to the river above. The whole captures since the army started out will not amount to less than twelve thousand men, and probably fifty pieces of artillery. I do not know the number of men and guns accurately, however. A portion of Foster's Division, Twenty-fourth Corps, made a most gallant charge this afternoon, and captured a very important fort from the enemy, with its entire garrison.

All seems well with us, and every thing is quiet just now.


The results of the fighting of this 2d of April were  so disastrous to the rebels, that General Lee saw at once  that he must evacuate Petersburg, and Richmond also.  His dispatch announcing the necessity was handed to  Mr. Davis while at church. He immediately left the church, and, making a hasty preparation for departure,  left that night by the Danville Railroad. Richmond and  Petersburg were both abandoned during the night. At  half-past eight the President sent the following dispatch  to Secretary Stanton:--

This morning Lieutenant-General Grant reports Petersburg evacuated, and he is confident that Richmond also is.

He is pushing forward to cut off, if possible, the retreating rebel army.


Fifteen minutes before this dispatch was sent, Richmond  had been occupied by our troops. The second brigade  of the Third Division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps,  under Major-General Weitzel, were the first to enter the  city. They found that the rebel authorities had not only  carried off whatever they could, but had set fire to  tobacco warehouses, Government workshops, and other  buildings, till there was great danger that the whole city  would be consumed. General Weitzel at once set the  men to work to put out the fires, and re-established as  much order as was possible.

The President, immediately after sending the above  dispatch, went to the front, where all things had changed  at once from the terrors of the fierce assault to the exultation of eager pursuit. General Grant's objective in  the whole campaign had been, not Richmond, but Lee's  army; and for that he pushed forward, regardless of the  captured cities which lay behind him, showing himself as  relentless in pursuit as he had been undaunted in attack.

The President did not, indeed, follow the army in its  forced march to cut off Lee's retreat, but he did what  would be almost as incredible, if we did not know how  difficult he found it to attribute to others hatred of  which he felt no impulse himself--he went to Richmond  on the day afar it was taken.

Nothing could be more characteristic or more striking  than his entrance into the rebel capital. He came up in  a man-of-war, about two P. M., to the landing called the Rocketts, about a mile below the city, and thence, accompanied by his young son and Admiral Porter, came  to the city in a boat. His coming was unannounced.  No roll of drums or presented arms greeted his approach.  He had not even a military guard. The sailors who had  rowed him up accompanied him, armed with carbines.  He came in no triumphal car, not even on horseback, to  be "the observed of all observers;" but, like any other  citizen, walked up the streets towards General Weitzel's  head-quarters, in the house occupied two days before by  Jefferson Davis. But the news of his arrival spread as  he walked, and from all sides the colored people came  running together, with cries of intense exultation, to  greet their deliverer. A writer in the Atlantic Monthly,  thus, from personal observation, describes the scene:--

They gathered round the President, ran ahead, hovered upon the flanks of the little company, and hung like a dark cloud upon the rear. Men, women, and children joined the constantly-increasing throng. They came from all the by-streets, running in breathless haste, shouting and hallooing, and dancing with delight. The men threw up their hats, the women waved their bonnets and handkerchiefs, clapped their hands, and sang, "Glory to God! glory, glory!" rendering all the praise to God, who had heard their wailings in the past, their meanings for wives, husbands, children, and friends sold out of their sight; had given them freedom, and after long years of waiting, had permitted them thus unexpectedly to behold the face of their great benefactor.

"I thank you, dear Jesus, that I behold President Linkum!" was the exclamation of a woman who stood upon the threshold of her humble home, and with streaming eyes and clasped hands gave thanks aloud to the Saviour of men.

Another, more demonstrative in her joy, was jumping and striking her hands with all her might, crying, "Bless de Lord! Bless de Lord! Bless de Lord!" as if there could be no end to her thanksgiving.

The air rang with a tumultuous chorus of voices. The street became almost impassable on account of the increasing multitude, till soldiers were summoned to clear the way. * * *

The walk was long, and the President halted a moment to rest. "May de good Lord bless you, President Linkum!" said an old negro, removing his hat and bowing, with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks. The President removed his own hat, and bowed in silence; but it was a bow which upset the forms, laws, customs, and ceremonies of centuries. It was a death-shock to chivalry and a mortal wound to caste. Recognize nigger! Faugh! A woman in an adjoining house beheld it, and turned from the scene in unspeakable disgust.

Arrived at General Weitzel's head-quarters, after a  brief interval the President held a short levée, then took  a rapid drive about the city, and left on his return at  half-past six P. M.

On Thursday he again visited Richmond, accompanied  by Mrs. Lincoln, Vice-President Johnson, and several  Senators and others. He held interviews while here with  some of the leading men, who sought to obtain from him  something which should make the submission of the  South more easy, and should save to the rebel leaders as  much as possible of their wealth and power. By them  he was urged to issue a conciliatory proclamation. He  aid, indeed, go so far as to send to General Weitzel the  following order, allowing the reassembling of the Virginia  Legislature for the purpose stated in the order:--


CITY POINT, April 6, 1865.

Major-General WEITZEL, Richmond, Va.:

It bas been intimated to me that the gentlemen who have acted as the Legislature of Virginia, in support of the rebellion, may now desire to assemble at Richmond and take measures to withdraw the Virginia troops and other support from resistance to the General Government. If they attempt it, give them permission and protection, until, if at all, they attempt some action hostile to the United States, in which case you will notify them, give them reasonable time to leave, and at the end of which time arrest any who remain. Allow Judge Campbell to see this, but do not make it public.

Yours, &c.,


As Lee surrendered the remains of his army to General Grant on Sunday, April 9, that reason no longer existed; and, on the 19th, General Weitzel received a telegram from the President in Washington to annul the  call, as the necessity for it had passed.

The President returned to Washington on April 9th,  his return having been hastened somewhat by an accident to Mr. Seward, who had been thrown from his  carriage some days previous, and had broken his right arm and his jaw. The news of Lee's surrender reached Washington shortly after Mr. Lincoln arrived, and caused the  greatest rejoicing, not only in Washington, but over the  whole country. In fact, the people had been borne on  the top of a lofty wave of joy ever since Sheridan's  victory at the Five Forks, and this but intensified the  universal exultation. A large company waited on the  President on Monday afternoon to congratulate him. In  answer to their call, he appeared, merely to say:--

If the company had assembled by appointment, some mistake had crept in their understanding. He had appeared before a larger audience than this one to-day, and he would repeat what he then said, namely, he supposed owing to the great, good news, the, re would be some demonstration. He would prefer to-morrow evening, when he should be quite willing, and he hoped ready, to say something. He desired to be particular, because every thing he said got into print. Occupying the position he did, a mistake would produce harm, and therefore he wanted to be careful not to make a mistake. [A voice, "You have not made any yet."]

The President was greeted with cheers, and, after bidding the crowd good-evening, retired.

On the next evening, an immense crowd assembled at  the Executive Mansion, which, as well as the various  departments, was illuminated in honor of the occasion.  The city, too, was ablaze with bonfires and waving with  flags.

It was under such circumstances of joy, too soon to be  changed into grief as deep as this exultation was high,  that Mr. Lincoln delivered this, his last public address,  on Tuesday, the 11th of April, as follows:--

FELLOW-CITIZENS:--We meet this evening not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace, whose joyous expression cannot be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow must not be forgotten.

A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing be overlooked. Their honors must not be parcelled out with others. I myself was near the front, and had the pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you. But no part of the honor for plan or execution is mine. To General Grant, his skilful officers, and brave men, all belongs. The gallant navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take active part. By these recent successes, the reinauguration of the national authority--reconstruction--which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike a case of war between independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with--no one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with and mould from disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and measure of reconstruction. As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly offer an answer. In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am much censured for some supposed agency in setting up and seeking to sustain the new State Government of Louisiana. In this I have done just so much and no more than the public knows. In the Annual Message of December, 1863, and the accompanying proclamation, I presented a plan of reconstruction, as the phrase goes, which I promised, if adopted by any State, would be acceptable to and sustained by the Executive Government of the nation. I distinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable, and I also distinctly protested that the Executive claimed no right to say when or whether members should be admitted to seats in Congress from such States. This plan was in advance submitted to the then Cabinet, and approved by every member of it. One of them suggested that I should then and in that connection apply the Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship for freed people, and that I should omit the protest against my own power in regard to the admission of members of Congress. But even he approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of Louisiana. The new Constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole State, practically applies the proclamation to the part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed people, and is silent, as it could not well be otherwise, about the admission of members to Congress. So that, as it applied to Louisiana, every member of the Cabinet fully approved the plan. The message went to Congress, and I received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal, and not a single objection to it from any professed emancipationist came to my knowledge until after the news reached Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move in accordance with it. From about July, 1862, I had corresponded with different persons supposed to be interested in seeking a reconstruction of a State Government for Louisiana. When the message of 1868, with the plan before mentioned, reached New Orleans, General Banks wrote me that he was confident that the people,with his military co-operation, would reconstruct substantially on that plan. I wrote to him and some of them to try it. They tried it, and the result is known. Such has been my only agency in getting up the Louisiana Government. As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as before stated. But as bad promises are better broken than kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise and break it, whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse to the public interest; but I have not yet been so convinced. I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed upon the question whether the seceded States, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps add astonishment to his regret were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring to answer that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression upon it. As appears to me, that question has not been nor yet is a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it may become, that question is bad as the basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all--a merely pernicious abstraction. We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper practical relation with the Union, and that the sole object of the Government, civil and military, in regard to those States, is to again get them into their proper practical relation. I believe that it is not only possible, but in fact easier, to do this without deciding or even considering whether those States have ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restore the proper practical relations between these States and the Union, and each forever after innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it. The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the Louisiana Government rests, would be more satisfactory to all if it contained fifty thousand, or thirty thousand, or even twenty thousand, instead of twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still, the question is not whether the Louisiana Government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, Will it be wiser to take it as it is and help to improve it, or to reject and disperse? Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government? Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore Slave State of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State Government, adopted a Free State Constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. This Legislature has already voted to ratify the Constitutional Amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand person's are thus fully committed to the Union and to perpetuate freedom in the State--committed to the very things, and nearly all things, the nation wants--and they ask the nation's recognition and its assistance to make good this committal. Now, if we reject and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We, in fact, say to the white man: You are worthless or worse; we will neither help you nor be helped by you. To the blacks we say: This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, held to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how. If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have so far been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize and sustain the new Government of Louisiana, the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts and nerve the arms of twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps towards it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new Government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. [Laughter.] Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the National Constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three-fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned, while a ratification by three-fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable. I repeat the question, Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government? What has been said of Louisiana will apply to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each State, and such important and sudden changes occur in the same State, and withal so new and unprecedented is the whole case, that no exclusive and inflexible plan can safely be prescribed as to details and collaterals. Such exclusive and inflexible plan would surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may and must be inflexible. In the present situation, as the phrase goes, it may be my duty to make some new announcement to the people of the South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act, when satisfied that action will be proper.

The surrender of Lee changed the whole aspect of the  war, and enabled the President to place matters on a different footing, both at home and With foreign nations.

The following proclamations were issued on April 11-the first substituting a closing of certain ports for the  blockade, as he was authorized to do by act of Congress  of July 18, 1861; the second correcting an error in the first;  and the third, to announce to foreign nations that the restrictions which they had placed upon our national vessels  must be withdrawn, or the same treatment would be extended to them:--


Whereas, by my proclamation of the 19th and 27th days of April, 1861, the ports of the United States in the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas were declared to be subject to blockade; but whereas the said blockade has, in consequence of actual military occupation by this Government, since been conditionally set aside or relaxed in respect to the ports of Norfolk and Alexandria in the State of Virginia, Beaufort in the State of North Carolina, Port Royal in the State of South Carolina, Pensacola and Fernandina in the State of Florida, and New Orleans in the State of Louisiana; and

Whereas, by the fourth section of the act of Congress approved on the 13th of July 1861, entitled "An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports and other purposes," the President, for the reasons therein set forth, is authorized to close certain ports of entry:

Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim that the ports of Richmond, Tappahanneck, Cherrytown, Yorktown, and Petersburg, in Virginia; of Camden, Elizabeth City, Edenton, Plymouth, Washington, Newbern, Ocracoke, and Wilmington, in North Carolina; of Charleston, Georgetown, and Beaufort, in South Carolina; of Savannah, St. Mary's, Brunswick, and Darien, in Georgia; of Mobile, in Alabama; of Pearl River, Shieldsboro', Natchez, and Vicksburg, in Mississippi; of St. Augustine, Key West, St. Mark's, Port Leon, St. John's, Jacksonville, and Apalachicola, in Florida; of Teche, Franklin, in Louisiana; of Galveston, La Salle, Brazes de Santiago, Point Isabel, and Brownsville, in Texas, are hereby closed, and all right of importation, warehousing, and other privileges shall, in respect to the ports aforesaid, cease until they shall have again been opened by order of the President; and if, while the said ports are so closed, any ship or vessel from beyond the United States, or having on board any articles subject to duties, shall attempt to enter any such port, the same, together with its tackle, apparel, furniture, and cargo, shall be forfeited to the United States.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the sea: of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this eleventh day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.

[L. S.]


WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Whereas, by my proclamation of this date, the port of Key West, in the State of Florida, was inadvertently included among those which are not open to commerce,--Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known that the said port of Key West is and shall remain open to foreign and domestic commerce, upon the same conditions by which that commerce has heretofore been governed. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington the eleventh day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.

[L. S.]


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Whereas, for some time past, vessels of war of the United States have been refused in certain ports privileges and immunities to which they were entitled by treaty, public law, or the comity of nations, at the same time that vessels of war of the country wherein the said privileges and immunities have been withheld have enjoyed them fully and uninterruptedly in the ports of the United States, which condition of things has not always been forcibly resisted by the United States, although on the other hand they have not failed to protest against and declare their dissatisfaction with the same. In the view of the United States no condition any longer exists which can be claimed to justify the denial to them by any one of said nations of the customary naval rights such as has heretofore been so unnecessarily persisted in. Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby make known that, if after a reasonable time shall have elapsed for the intelligence of this proclamation to have reached any foreign country in whose ports the said privileges and immunities shall have been refused as aforesaid, they shall continue to be so refuse as aforesaid, then and thenceforth the same privileges and immunities shall be refused to the vessels of war of the country, in the ports of the United States, and this refusal shall continue until the war vessels of the United States shall have been placed upon an entire equality in the foreign ports aforesaid with similar vessels of other countries. The United States, whatever claim or pretence may have existed heretofore, are now at least entitled to claim and concede an entire and friendly equality of rights and hospitalities with all maritime nations.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this eleventh day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.

[L. S.]


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Nor were these the only measures adopted which indicated that the war was over, the rebellion crushed, and  the era of peace and good feeling about to be ushered in.

On the 13th, the Secretary of War announced that,  "after mature consideration and consultation width the  Lieutenant-General upon the results of the recent campaign," the Department determined upon the following  measures, to be carried into immediate effect, viz.:--

First.--To stop all drafting and recruiting in the loyal States.

Second.--To curtail purchases of arms, ammunition, quartermaster's and commissary's supplies, and reduce the expenses of the military establishment in its several branches.

Third.--To reduce the number of general and staff officers to the actual necessities of the service.

Fourth.--To remove all military restrictions upon trade and commerce, so far as may be consistent with public safety.

This determination Of the Government, announced in  the newspapers of the 14th of April, afforded the country  a substantial and most welcome assurance that the war  was over. The heart of the nation beat high with gratitude to the illustrious Chief Magistrate, whose wisdom  and patience had saved his country; but whose glory,  not yet complete, was, before another sun should rise,  destined to receive the seal of immortality.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by DERBY & MILLER in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States  for the Southern District of New York.




Book Navigation Title Page Preface Illustrations Memorandum Table of Contents   ► Chapter I.   ► Chapter II.   ► Chapter III.   ► Chapter IV.   ► Chapter V.   ► Chapter VI.   ► Chapter VII.   ► Chapter VIII.   ► Chapter IX.   ► Chapter X.   ► Chapter XI.   ► Chapter XII.   ► Chapter XIII.   ► Chapter XIV.   ► Chapter XV.   ► Chapter XVI.   ► Chapter XVII.   ► Chapter XVIII.   ► Chapter XIX.   ► Chapter XX.   ► Chapter XXI. Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln.   ► Mr. Lincoln's Sadness   ► His Favorite Poem   ► His Religious Experience   ► His Sympathy   ► His Humor, Shrewdness, and Sentiment   ► The Emancipation Proclamation Appendix. Letters on Sundry Occasions.   ► To Mr. Lodges, of Kentucky   ► To General Hooker   ► To John B. Fry   ► To Governor Magoffin   ► To Count Gasparin   ► The President and General McClellan   ► Warnings Against Assassination Reports, Dispatches, and Proclamations Relating to the Assassination.   ► Secretary Stanton to General Dix   ► The Death-Bed   ► The Assassins   ► Reward Offered by Secretary Stanton   ► Flight of the Assassins   ► The Conspiracy Organized in Canada   ► Booth Killed. Harold Captured   ► Reward Offered by President Johnson   ► The Funeral Official Announcements   ► Acting Secretary Hunger to Minister Adams   ► Acting Secretary Hunter to his Subordinates   ► Orders from Secretary Stanton and General Grant   ► Orders from Secretary "Welles   ► Order from Secretary McCulloch   ► Order from Postmaster-General Dennison   ► Proclamation by President Johnson of a Day of Humiliation and Mourning.   ► Secretary Stanton to Minister Adams   ► Important Letter from J. Wilkes Booth   ► Indictment of the Conspirators   ► The Finding of the Court