Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
been going on long enough to enable Mr. Lincoln to know pretty well what measure of confidence he could place in the several generals.  He had tried his experiments and was now using his conclusions.  Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, Hancock, and Meade were no longer undiscovered generals; while Fremont, McClellan, Halleck—­and perhaps two or three more might be named—­may be described in a counter-phrase as generals who were now quite thoroughly discovered.  The President and the country were about to get the advantage of this acquired knowledge.

A consequence of these changed conditions, of the entrance upon this new stage of the war, becomes very visible in the life of Mr. Lincoln.  The disputation, the hurly-burly, the tumultuous competition of men, opinions, and questions, which made the first eighteen months of his presidency confusing and exciting as a great tempest on the sea, have gone by.  For the future his occupation is rather to keep a broad, general supervision, to put his controlling touch for the moment now here, now there.  He ceases to appear as an individual contestant; his personality, though not less important, is less conspicuous; his influence is exerted less visibly, though not less powerfully.  In short, the business-like aspect affects him and his functions as it does all else that concerns the actual conduct of the war; he too feels, though he may not formulate, the change whereby a crisis has passed into a condition.  This will be seen from the character of the remainder of this narrative.  There are no more controversies which call for other chapters like those which told of the campaigns of McClellan.  There are no more fierce intestine dissensions like those which preceded the Proclamation of Emancipation,—­at least not until the matter of reconstruction comes up, and reconstruction properly had not to do with the war, but with the later period.  In a word, the country had become like the steed who has ceased fretfully to annoy the rider, while the rider, though exercising an ever-watchful control, makes less apparent exertion.

* * * * *

By one of the odd arrangements of our governmental machine, it was not until December 7, 1863, that the members of the Thirty-eighth Congress met for the first time to express those political sentiments which had been in vogue more than a year before that time, that is to say during the months of October and November, 1862, when these gentlemen had been elected, at the close of the summer’s campaign.  It has been said and shown that a very great change in popular feeling had taken place and made considerable advance during this interval.  The autumn of 1863 was very different from the autumn of 1862!  A Congress coming more newly from the people would have been much more Republican in its complexion.  Still, even as it was, the Republicans had an ample working majority, and moreover were disturbed by fewer and less serious dissensions among themselves than had

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