Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
been the case occasionally in times past.  McClellan and the Emancipation Proclamation had not quite yet been succeeded by any other questions of equal potency for alienating a large section of the party from the President.  Not that unanimity prevailed by any means; that was impossible under the conditions of human nature.  The extremists still distrusted Mr. Lincoln, and regarded him as an obstruction to sound policies.  Senator Chandler of Michigan, a fine sample of the radical Republican, instructed him that, by the elections, Conservatives and traitors had been buried together, and begged him not to exhume them, since they would “smell worse than Lazarus did after he had been buried three days.”  Apparently he ranked Seward among these defunct and decaying Conservatives; certainly he regarded the secretary as a “millstone about the neck” of the President.[52] Still, in spite of such denunciations, times were not in this respect so bad as they had been, and the danger that the uncompromising Radicals would make wreck of the war was no longer great.

* * * * *

Another event, occurring in this autumn of 1863, was noteworthy because through it the literature of our tongue received one of its most distinguished acquisitions.  On November 19 the national military cemetery at Gettysburg was to be consecrated; Edward Everett was to deliver the oration, and the President was of course invited as a guest.  Mr. Arnold says that it was actually while Mr. Lincoln was “in the cars on his way from the White House to the battlefield” that he was told that he also would be expected to say something on the occasion; that thereupon he jotted down in pencil the brief address which he delivered a few hours later.[53] But that the composition was quite so extemporaneous seems doubtful, for Messrs. Nicolay and Hay transcribe the note of invitation, written to the President on November 2 by the master of the ceremonies, and in it occurs this sentence:  “It is the desire that, after the oration, you, as Chief Executive of the Nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use, by a few appropriate remarks.”  Probably, therefore, some forethought went to the preparation of this beautiful and famous “Gettysburg speech.”  When Mr. Everett sat down, the President arose and spoke as follows:[54]—­

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met on a great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate,

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