Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.

In a period of fervid political feeling it was natural that those Republicans who were dissatisfied with President Lincoln should begin, long before the close of his term of office, to seek consolation by arrangements for replacing him by a successor more to their taste.  Expressions of this purpose became definite in the autumn of 1863.  Mr. Arnold says that the coming presidential election was expected to bring grave danger, if not even anarchy and revolution.[64] Amid existing circumstances, an opposition confined to the legitimate antagonism of the Democracy would, of course, have brought something more than the customary strain inherent in ordinary times in government by party; and it was unfortunate that, besides this, an undue gravity was imported into the crisis by the intestinal dissensions of the Republicans themselves.  It seemed by no means impossible that these disagreements might give to the friends of peace by compromise a victory which they really ought not to have.  Republican hostility to Mr. Lincoln was unquestionably very bitter in quality, whatever it might be in quantity.  It was based in part upon the discontent of the radicals and extremists, in part upon personal irritation.  In looking back upon those times there is now a natural tendency to measure this opposition by the weakness which it ultimately displayed when, later on, it was swept out of sight by the overwhelming current of the popular will.  But this weakness was by no means so visible in the winter of 1863-64.  On the contrary, the cry for a change then seemed to come from every quarter, and to come loudly; for it was echoed back and forth by the propagandists and politicians, and as these persons naturally did most of the talking and writing in the country, so they made a show delusively out of proportion to their following among the people.

The dislike toward the President flourished chiefly in two places, and with two distinct bodies of men.  One of these places was Missouri, which will be spoken of later on.  The other was Washington, where the class of “public men” was for the most part very ill-disposed towards him.[65] Mr. Julian, himself a prominent malcontent, bears his valuable testimony to the extent of the disaffection, saying that, of the “more earnest and thorough-going Republicans in both Houses of Congress, probably not one in ten really favored"[66] the renomination of Mr. Lincoln.  In fact, there were few of them whom the President had not offended.  They had brought to him their schemes and their policies, had made their arguments and demands, and after all had found the President keeping his counsel to himself and acting according to his own judgment.  This seemed exasperatingly unjustifiable in a country where anybody might happen to be president without being a whit abler than any other one who had not happened to fall into the office.  In a word, the politicians had, and hated, a master.  Mr. Chase betrayed this when he complained that there was no “administration,

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