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the shrewdness of New England without its rigidity; the geniality of the South without its passion. It combines the impulsiveness of the Carolinas, and the caution of Maine and Connecticut. In its more thinly settled districts men are obliged to fill larger spaces. The circumstances are more favorable for the development of strong individualities. A man cannot merge himself in a multitude or retire into a convenient obscurity. He must fill a place, do a work, assert himself, bring out the best that is in him, or suffer the consequent odium. The early life of the President was well adapted to call out the practical shrewdness, the strong common sense, and the knowledge of men which characterized him. In such societies men's culture, except in its practical adaptations, would have been wasted. Men's knowledge was estimated according to its visible practical contributions to the common weal. The emergencies of that pioneer life called for tact, readiness, practical ability. In the development of these the future President was not wanting in mental stimulus and training. The very meagreness of the sources of knowledge sharpened his appetite for it, and perhaps contributed to that characteristic thoroughness which placed
what knowledge he had so thoroughly at his command. The conscientious carefulness so early exhibited marked him throughout his official life; so that whatever men may think of his expressed sentiments on any subject, his discussions always show an opinion laboriously and conscientiously formed. The freedom and geniality of western life, its rough but genuine familiarity, tended to deepen a naturally sunny and affectionate dis. position. No less were the circumstances under which he appeared in political life adapted to sharpen his intellect and fit him for the wider arena upon which he was destined to enter. That close contact of political leaders with the people, requiring that the representatives of opposite parties should discuss the great questions of the day in their presence, was unfavorable to superficial knowledge or evasive logic. No point must be shirked, however difficult. In the sword play of debate before the people, exposed to a running fire of question and comment, with the keenest interest and the most intense feeling excited, he who evaded, if not exposed by his adversary, was discovered by the people, and compelled to meet the issue or blush for his ignorance or cowardice. From such a
school he came to the executive chair. You know well how exciting and alarming was the crisis at which he assumed it. His own election had been connived at by the opposite party to gain a pretext for the execution of their long cherished scheme of secession. South Carolina had begun the pestilent work and had turned her guns upon a government fortress. The executive, too timid, too imbecile, or too much in sympathy with the treason, to act, refused to lift a finger to strangle the infant rebellion. States were falling into line under the new Confederacy. Its agents had pilfered the public treasury and scattered the public munitions. The border States hung wavering in the balance, an ebject of apprehension and desire to either party. The slavery question was presenting itself under the most complicated aspect – the acknowledged source of the difficulty, yet incapable of being assailed for the time. Foreign nations were prepared to extend their sympathy only on the ground of a crusade against slavery, and we were compelled by fidelity to the Constitution, to deal only with the overt act of treason, at the risk of forfeiting sympathy and insuring foreign intervention. The conspirators were jubilant over their
first success, and boasting that their flag would soon wave over the capitol. On this scene of turmoil and danger Abraham Lincoln entered at his inauguration. Well might he look forward with apprehension. Well might he say on leaving his Western home: “A duty devolves upon me which is perhaps greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington.” But once committed to his duty he was not the man to shrink. He had been used to meeting emergencies.
He had been trained in the school of difficulty; and gathering up his manhood with a calm dignity and a childlike trust in God, he went forth to give his labor and his life for his country. It is, of course, foreign to my purpose to follow him through that administration so fruitful in events, in which the nation has made history faster than in all the rest of her life together. I desire only to bring out a few of those traits which most clearly illustrate the man, and with which the nation has been made familiar in his late position. His qualities of heart were such as commended him to all men. He was in the real sense of that term a hearty
The expression of this characteristic was with him something more than that assumed
cordiality and familiarity which is counted one of the politician's necessary weapons. It went beyond mere hand-shakings and expressions of good fellowship. He was naturally disposed to think well of his race. His prepossessions were generally in favor of a man. He would rather love than hate him; and hence his feeling was literally cordial — the spontaneous outgoing of a frank and manly nature.
In the theatre of his earlier victories, he was a man whose intellectual power his adversaries feared; but he would rather disarm an opponent with a good natured jest than with a sarcasm or denunciation. With such a nature, backed by a keen appreciation of the ludicrous, a ready memory, a quick perception, a wide experience, his power of anecdote and repartee has become proverbial. This feature of his character, which has provoked the sneers of the starched magnates of Europe, has ever appeared to my mind as a special gift for a special emergency. As already remarked, such a burden rested upon him as seldom or never fell to any ruler's lot. Added to the intricacy and number of the State questions constantly before him, his natural kindness of heart rendered him accessible to numberless petty, personal applications which