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It is the day of adversity. A great grief throws its shadow over heart and hearth and home. There is such a sorrow as this land never knew before; agony such as never until now wrung the heart of the nation. In mansion and cottage, alike, do the people bow themselves.
We have been through the Red Sea of war, and across the weary, desert marches of griefs and bereavements, but heretofore we have felt that our leader was with us, and believed that surely as Moses was led by the pillar of cloud and of fire, so did God lead him.
But now that leader is not. Slain, slain by the hand of the assassin, murdered beside his wife! The costliest blood has been shed, the clearest eye is closed, the strongest arm is nerveless—the Chief Magistrate is no
“The mighty man cries bitterly; the day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”
It is no mere official mourning which hangs its sad drapery everywhere. It is not alone that a President of the Republic is, for the first time, assassinated. No; there is the tender grief that characterizes the bereavement of a
loved friend, which shows there was something in this man which grappled him to men's hearts as with hooks of steel.
But mourning the death of the Chief Magistrate, it becomes us to review the elements of his career as a ruler, which have so endeared him to loyal hearts.
If I were to sketch the model statesman, I would say he must have mental breadth and clearess, incorruptible integrity, strength of will, tireless patience, humanity, preserved from demoralizing weakness by conscientious reverence for law, ardent love of country, and, regulating all, a commanding sense of responsibility to God, the Judge of all. These, though wrapped in seeming rustic garb, were found in Abraham Lincoln. He had mental breadth and clearness. In spite of a defective early education, he became a self-taught thinker, and later in life he read widely and meditated profoundly, until he acquired a thorough mental discipline. He possessed the power to comprehend a subject at once in the aggregate and in its details. His eye swept a wide horizon and descried clearly all within its circumference. He was a keen logician, whose apt manner of “putting thing" made him more than a match for practiced diplomatists and wily marplots. There were men of might about his council-board, scholars and statesmen, but none arose to his altitude, much less was either his master.
That very facetiousness sometimes critcised, kept him from becoming morbid, and gave healthfulness to his opinions, free alike from fever and paralysis. That his was incorruptible integrity, no man dare question. He was not merely above reproach, but eminently above
suspicion. Purity is receptive. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," is as profound in philosophy as comprehensive in theology. Purity in the realm of moral decision and motive, is a skylight to the soul, through which truth comes direct. Abraham Lincoln was so pure in motive and purpose, looked so intensely after the right that he might pursue it, that he saw clearly where many walked in mist.
Without developing the characteristics of the ideal statesman analytically, let us see how they were manifest in his administration.
It began amid the rockings of rebellion. A servilė predecessor, deplorably weak, if not criminal, had permitted treason to be freely mouthed in the national capitol, treasonable action to be taken by State authorities, and armed treason to resist and defy federal authority, and environ with bristling works the forts and flag of the Union. At such a juncture, Mr. Lincoln, then barely escaping assassination, was inaugurated. As was right, he made all proper efforts for conciliation, tendered the olive-branch, proposed such changes of existing laws, and even of the Constitution, as should secure Southern rights from the adverse legislation of a sectional majority. All was refused, and traitors said, 66 We will not live with you. Though you sign a blank sheet and leave us to fill it with our own conditions, we will not abide with you."
Refusing peace, war was commenced, not by the President, but by secessionists. War has been waged on a scale of astounding vastness for four years, and Mr. Lincoln falls as the day of victory dawns.
His claim to the character of a great statesman is to be estimated in view of the fiery ordeal which tried him, and not by the gauge of peaceful days. In addition to the most powerful armed rebellion ever organized, he was confronted by a skillful, able, persistent, well compacted partisan opposition. He was to harmonize sectional feelings as antagonistic as Massachusetts and Kentucky, and to rally to one flag generals as widely apart in sentiment and policy as Phelps and Fitz John Porter. That under such difficulties he sometimes erred in judgment and occasionally' failed in execution, is not strange, for he was a man, but that he erred so seldom, and that he so admirably retrieved his mistakes, shows that he was more by far than an ordinary man; more by far than an average statesman. Standing where we do today, we feel that he was divinely appointed for the crisis; that he was chosen to be the Moses of our pilgrimage, albeit, he was to die at Pisgah and be buried against Beth-Peor, while a Joshua should be commissioned to lead us into the land of promise.
In studying the administration of these four eventful years, it seems to me there were four grand landmarks of principle governing him, ever visible to the eye of the President, by which he steadily made his way.
I. THE UNION IS INCAPABLE OF Division.
In his first Inaugural he said: “I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual.” In his reply to Fernando Wood, then Mayor of New York, he said, “ There is nothing that could ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of the Union.” By this rule
he walked. The Union was one for all time, and there was no authority for its division lodged anywhere. He would use no force, would exercise no authority not needed for this purpose. But what force was needed, whether moral or physical, should be employed. Hence the call for troops. Hence the marching armies of the Republic, and the thunder of cannon at the gates of Vicksburg, Charleston and Richmond. Hence the sus pension of the habeas corpus, the seizure and occasional imprisonment of treason-shriekers and sympathizers, for which he has been denounced as a tyrant by journals, which, slandering him while living, have the effrontery to put on the semblance of grief and throw lying emblems of mourning to the wind! For the exercise of that authority, he went for trial to the American people, and they triumphantly sustained him.
II. The second grand regulating idea of his administration may be best stated in his own words: “GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE." He conceded the people to be the Government. Their will was above the opinion of secretaries and generals. He recognized their right to dictate the policy of the administration. Their majesty was ever before him as an actual presence. On the 11th of February, 1861, he said, in Indianapolis, “Of the people when they rise in mass in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, it may be said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against them,'” and again, “I appeal to you to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with the President, not with office-seekers, but with you rests the question, Shall the Union and