Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
was aiding them to do these things.  But he never got his head sufficiently clear to appreciate this, and he faithfully continued to play the part for which he had been cast by them, but without understanding it.  He persistently charged the responsibility for his bootless return and ignominious situation upon Mr. Lincoln; and though his errand proved conclusively that the South was making no advances,[72] and though no man in the country was more strictly affected with personal knowledge of this fact than he was, yet he continued to tell the people, with all the weight of his personal authority, that the President was obstinately set against any and all proffers of peace.  Mr. Lincoln, betwixt mercy and policy, refrained from crushing his antagonist by an ungarbled publication of all the facts and documents; and in return for his forbearance he long continued to receive from Mr. Greeley vehement assurances that every direful disaster awaited the Republican party.  The cause suffered much from these relentless diatribes of the “Tribune’s” influential manager, for nothing else could make the administration so unpopular as the belief that it was backward in any possible exertion to secure an honorable peace.

If by sound logic the Greeley faction should have voted with the Democrats,—­since in the chief point in issue, the prosecution of the war, they agreed with the Democracy,—­so the war Democrats, being in accord with the Republicans, upon this same overshadowing issue should, at the coming election at least, have voted with that party.  Many of them undoubtedly did finally prefer Lincoln, coupled with Andrew Johnson, to McClellan.  But they also had anxieties, newly stirred, and entirely reasonable in men of their political faith.  It was plain to them that Mr. Lincoln had been finding his way to the distinct position that the abolition of slavery was an essential condition of peace.  Now this was undeniably a very serious and alterative graft upon the original doctrine that the war was solely for the restoration of the Union.  The editor of a war-Democratic newspaper in Wisconsin sought information upon this point.  In the course of Mr. Greeley’s negotiatory business Mr. Lincoln had offered to welcome “any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery.”  Now this, said the interrogating editor, implies “that no steps can be taken towards peace ... unless accompanied with an abandonment of slavery.  This puts the whole war question on a new basis and takes us war Democrats clear off our feet, leaving us no ground to stand upon.  If we sustain the war and war policy, does it not demand the changing of our party politics?” Nicolay and Hay print the draft of a reply by Mr. Lincoln which, they say, was “apparently unfinished and probably never sent.”  In this he referred to his past utterances as being still valid.  But he said that no Southerner had “intimated a willingness for a restoration of the Union in any

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