Page images

He soon came to agree more actively with Grant's view of the situation. On August 17 he telegraphed:

"I have seen your despatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible."

He ventured to suggest that Sheridan might be reënforced and an attack made on Early. Eight days later he had occasion to telegraph Sheridan thus:

[ocr errors]

“Have just heard of your great victory. God bless you all, officers and men. Strongly inclined to come up

and see you.'

Everybody knows the final outcome, but probably only students of history realize how much Sheridan had to do with Lincoln's reëlection. His brilliant series of victories over Early changed the whole moral atmosphere at the North. The picturesqueness of the young leader, quietly riding back from Washington, finding his own demoralized troops flying along the road, rallying them, making them decide on reflection, as he puts it, that they had not done themselves justice, riding up and down the lines, assuring his men that the captured guns and camps must be recaptured, and wrecking Early's army so completely that it never counted in the history of the war again, was the kind of an apparition the President needed. Sheridan's despatch to Grant, “We have just sent them whirling through Winchester, and we after them to-morrow put one of the finishing strokes on the political campaign. It went to every home in the North and brought the flush of pride to every cheek. When Lincoln had read the telegrams relating the last fight with Early, he told his companions about the man who filled a piece of punk with powder, set it on fire, clapped it under a biscuit, and gave it to a dog. “ As for the dog, as a dog, I was never able to find him," said the man.

Farragut had already taken Mobile Bay and Sherman had just captured Atlanta. coming, father Abraham, 300,000 strong ” went through the land after Atlanta. “Sherman and Farragut,” said Seward in a speech at Chicago, “ have knocked the planks out of the Chicago platform,” — that platform which declared the war a failure. Sheridan demolished whatever was left of it. When Lincoln, on November 8, went to read the telegrams, it was without a reasonable doubt of the result.

He stayed in Stanton's office, following the returns. When there was a lull in the news he read aloud the writings of Petroleum V. Nasby.

We are

The result of the election was the most complete victory ever won in a presidential contest in America.

Two days after he told some serenaders what his election meant:

“It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies. On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test, and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion, added not a little to the strain.

“If the loyal people united were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided and partially paralyzed by a political war among themselves? But the election was a necessity.

? We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. But the election, along with its incidental and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war. Until now, it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also, how sound and how strong we still are. It shows that, even among the candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union and most opposed to treason can receive most of the people's votes.”

Of this address he said to the secretary who stood beside him lighting the page with a candle: “Not very graceful, but I am growing old enough not to care much for the manner of doing things."



When the President sent his annual message to Congress, December 6, 1864, he included among other things this short paragraph,“ Civil war continues in the Spanish port of San Domingo, apparently without prospect of an early close.” On this conflict hang an act of prudence by the President and one of his most characteristic stories. Seward one day came to a cabinet meeting with clouded brow. Spain, he said, was already sick of the European alliance, and was beginning to view the United States with a more friendly eye. Her government had never gone as far as Palmerston and Louis Napoleon in the effort for intervention, yet she had been led a certain distance by her hope of recovering her possessions in San Domingo. The negroes, however, had put up a good fight, and they had the sympathy of American abolitionists. It was important to separate Spain from the alliance, and yet not to offend those who sympathized with San Domingo. To the President, however, there seemed to be no difficulty. He was merely reminded of an inter

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »