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this day have the ear of the people, fail not to declare at once the Divine justice against our national sin, and the Divine compassion for all who repent of their complicity with it.
Last Sunday I counselled my people that this blow is the end of human slavery in this Republic, perhaps in the world; and that an aristocracy which had committed the last crime of assassinating its truest friends, can have no more hope of life in any
world ruled by God. It is too early to say who among the individual criminals that have involved this Republic in war should suffer judicial punishment, or what that punishment shall be. When that question comes up it will be met and settled by the calm wisdom and conscience of the loyal American people. To-day there can be nothing better done than to draw the portrait of the great and good man, who, on the very summit of triumph over his nation's foes, even while bending in a gracious attitude of mercy to a subdued enemy, became a martyr to Freedom. If we can hold in our souls a clear and full image of this noble American, we shall carry about with us a guide through all the perils to come. Let me, then, ask your attention to a discourse on the life and character of ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, February 12, 1809. His paternal ancestors were from Pennsylvania, of Quaker connection, They intermarried with Virginia women, and removed to Kentucky in 1782, where his grandfather was killed by the Indians, in 1784. Both his father and mother were born in Virginia, At seven years of age his family removed to Indiana, and little ABRAHAM, being then a large boy, was put to work with his axe to hew down the forests. For half a century he has plied that axe, till he has hewed his way up through the material, social, civil wilderness of our new American life, to the millennial day of Universal Liberty, guarded by Social Order and the People's Law.
For twelve years, till he was nineteen, he toiled in the forest, with only one year at school, and then went to New Orleans, as a hired hand on a flat-boat. In 1830, at the age of twenty-one, he removedto Macon County, Illinois, and, true to his filial duty, helped build a log cabin for his father's family, and made rails enough to fence ten acres of land. Probably about this time he offered himself at the office of a lawyer now distinguished in Southern Indiana, as a student, but was rejected at once, as a hopeless subject. I doubt not God had better business for him
just then, than learning Southern Indiana law. He was kept, like Washington, where he could learn of men, study the new life of the mighty West, and slowly mature into a noble growth of manhood. At twenty-two he helped build a boat, at twelve dollars a month, and then took it to New Orleans. On his return he was put in charge of a store and mill, in Menard County, Illinois. In 1832, at the age of twenty-three, he enlisted as a soldier in a volunteer company, going into the Black Hawk War, and was made Captain. He served three months, and on returning home was nominated for the Legislature, and in his own County, strongly opposed to him in politics, received two hundred and seventy-seven out of two hundred and eighty-four votes, though he failed of election. Then he opened a country store, which he gave up to take the office of Postmaster, and began to read law by borrowing books at night, to be returned in the morning. At the same time he bought a compass and chain, and a treatise on surveying, and became a practical surveyor. In 1834 he was elected to the Legislature of Illinois, at the age of twenty-five, and re-elected in 183638 and 1840. In 1836 he began to practice law, not a day too late for him, at the age of twenty-seven. He had become a man before he became a lawyer, and to that fact we owe, perhaps, the preservation, at once of the Constitution and liberty in this Republic.
In April, 1837, at the age of twenty-eight, he removed to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, where he lived twenty-four years, till he left it for the capital of the nation, as President of the United States. His success in the law was immediate and eminent, and his interest in politics did not decline. He was often candidate for Presidential elector, and became a favorite of the people, as a public speaker, as early as 1844. In 1846, at the age of thirty-seven, He was elected to Congress from Illinois. In the Congress in which he sat he was chiefly noticed for his votes in favor of liberty, and in 1849 he offered a bill for abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. He was a member of the Convention that nominated General Taylor for the Presidency, 1848. In 1849 he was a candidate for United States Senator from Illinois. He continued in the practice of his profession till the events between 1850 and 1856 aroused him to a new interest in national politics. He had become one of the most eminent men of a State not poor in able men, and when, in 1858, the Republican party of Illinois looked about for a rival
worthy of Stephen A. Douglas, it unanimously nominated him for United States Senator. On this occasion he made that remarkable speech in which he declared that this Union must, of necessity, become “all free or all slave"-a speech which, like the famous address of Mr. Seward, at Rochester, New York, in 1858, announcing the “irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery, has been so wonderfully verified by the events of the last four years.
In the memorable discussion that followed between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas, the former was fairly placed before the American people as one of the ablest men of the party to which he was attached. He was defeated as candidate for the Senate, only to be nominated as candidate for President of the United States, in 1860, and in November of that year was fairly and triumphantly elected Chief Magistrate of the Republic, at the age of fifty-one.
And it was no illiterate, obscure, vulgar, county-court pettifogger, that was chosen by the people of the United States to this exalted position. Of course the enemies of the Republic, at home and abroad, vilified and ridiculed him as they always have hated and despised every great friend of the people. Unhappily, too many of the friends of freedom were not clear-sighted enough to recognize at once in this simple, unpretending, homely citizen, the Father of the American People. Many doubted his capacity; others ridiculed his rhetoric and manners; others slandered his character, or denounced him as a masked friend of the despotism that was assailing the nation's life. But if all these men had reflected, they would have suspended their judgment. They would have seen that no university could have been so good a school for the man who was to defend the American People against a fierce and proud aristocracy, as just the life which Abraham Lincoln had lived for fifty years. He had seen and he knew well all kinds of men. He was acquainted with free labor; not alone by writing elegant essays or committing to memory and reciting flowery speeches upon it, but by actively working in its every important department. He was an experienced legislator, a distinguished lawyer, a trusted political leader, only requiring opportunity to become a statesman. Mr. Seward declared, as early as 1844, that Abraham Lincoln would become one of the foremost men of the country, and his judgment was that of every man qualified to appreciate him, who was not blinded by envy or political prejudice. He was known in
public and private to be a stanch friend of universal freedom, And better than this, he had lived through the toils and temptations of a new country, and come out at fifty a pure, honest, reli. gious man.
I remember seeing his portrait presented by himself to a worthy old woman in Kentucky, after he became President, with the touching inscription, in his own hand: "In remembrance of a Bible presented to me twenty years ago by your pious hands.”
He was a man in whom the people had learned to confide; and experience has proved that in the long run, the people can be trusted to select their rulers. Like the people, in all ages, his nature was slow, many-sided, often obscure and apparently contradictory in its motions, not brilliant or melo-dramatic, but patient, ever searching for truth, ever opening into unexpected developments of power, adequate for all emergencies, created to separate wrong from right, and plant justice and liberty on foundations as enduring as the human race.
He rose at once to the exigency of the hour. The slave aristocracy, far more penetrating than the people, knew Abraham Lincoln for their most formidable enemy, and revolted in fury when his election was announced. For four dismal months had the work of disorganization gone on, till seven States had seceded, established a pretended government, elected a president, and enrolled an army. The government at Washington was meanwhile but a hollow name—treasonable in spirit, anxious only to compromise with rebels who threatened its own existence. Already had the dread decree gone forth among the nations, that the Union was forever gone. The North was distracted only less than the border States, all of which were on the eve of revolution.
At this gloomy hour Abraham Lincoln began his journey, on February 11, 1861, from Springfield, Illinois, to the national capital. To his friends, at parting, he said: "A duty devolves upon me, which is perhaps greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I think I can not succeed without the same divine aid which sustained him, and in the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support, and I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that di
vine assistance, without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain."
He journeyed slowly, visiting the principal cities of Indiana, Ohio and the Middle States, on his way, and speaking brief words of wisdom and conciliation to the people. We thought those little, homely, rugged speeches, unworthy then, but now we see the admirable judgment that managed to say nothing when nothing ought to be said, and to deliver great principles in the most familiar way.
Three ideas appeared prominent through all the public and private addresses of this journey: First, that salvation could come to the Republic from no man, but only from Almighty God and the American people; second, that the Union was not a “free love” arrangement, which could be dissolved or renewed at pleasure, aud that the so-called doctrine of State Rights meant practically the power of any State to "rule everything below and ruin everything above it;" third, that the object of the fathers in establishing this Union was the freedom of mankind, and he, like them, was willing to work and to die for that end. In his speech at Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, as if in anticipation of his own sacrifice, he said concerning the idea which was the center of the Revolutionary war and the Declaration of Independence : “ It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight should be lifted from the shoulders of all men. If this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it!” Noble man! Thou hast fallen by the assassin's hand; but not till that old bell on Independence Hall has pealed out, "Liberty through all the land !”
On this journey, at Albany, N. Y., I first saw Mr. Lincoln. I saw him three times in one day—first, in the morning, in the hall of Representatives, where he delivered a few gracious words to the assembled Legislature. I remarked chiefly during his speech the depth of kindness in his grave and tender eyes, out of which looked a soul large enough to enfold all mankind. Again I saw him at noon, escorted down State street, by a great throng of citizens, quite surrounded by a military array; he standing up at his full hight in his carriage. Never had I seen, never shall I again see, so majestic a sight. I felt, as I looked on him then, that there was a man strong enough to fight secession, backed by all the powers of earth and all the demons of the