Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 338 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.

Nevertheless, though both logic and geography made neutrality impracticable, yet at least the desire to be neutral indicated a wavering condition, and therefore it was Mr. Lincoln’s task so to arrange matters that, when the State should at last see that it could by no possibility avoid casting its lot with one side or the other, it should cast it with the North.  For many weeks the two Presidents played the game for this invaluable stake with all the tact and skill of which each was master.  It proved to be a repetition of the fable of the sun and the wind striving to see which could the better make the traveler take off his cloak, and fortunately the patience of Mr. Lincoln represented the warmth of the sun.  He gave the Kentuckians time to learn by observation and the march of events that neutrality was an impossibility, also to determine with which side lay the probable advantages for themselves; also he respected the borders of the State during its sensitive days, though in doing so he had to forego some military advantages of time and position.  Deliberation brought a sound conclusion.  Kentucky never passed an ordinance of secession, but maintained her representation in Congress and contributed her quota to the armies; and these invaluable results were largely due to this wise policy of the President.  Many of her citizens, of course, fought upon the Southern side, as was the case in all these debatable Border States, where friends and even families divided against each other, and each man placed himself according to his own convictions.  It may seem, therefore, in view of this individual independence of action, that the ordinance of secession was a formality which would not have greatly affected practical conditions; and many critics of Mr. Lincoln at the time could not appreciate the value of his “border-state policy,” and thought that he was making sacrifices and paying prices wholly against wisdom, and out of proportion to anything that could be gained thereby.  But he understood the situation and comparative values correctly.  Loyalty to the State governed multitudes; preference of the State over the United States cost the nation vast numbers of would-be Unionists in the seceding States, and in fact made secession possible; and the same feeling, erroneous though it was from the Unionist point of view, yet saved for the Unionist party very great numbers in these doubtful States which never in fact seceded.  Mr. Davis appreciated this just as much as Mr. Lincoln did; both were shrewd men, and were wasting no foolish efforts when they strove so hard to carry or to prevent formal state action.  They appreciated very well that success in passing an ordinance would gain for the South throngs of adherents whose allegiance was, by their peculiar political creed, due to the winner in this local contest.

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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