Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
event or on any condition whatever....  If Jefferson Davis wishes for himself, or for the benefit of his friends at the North, to know what I would do if he were to offer peace and reunion, saying nothing about slavery, let him try me.”  It must be admitted that this was not an answer, but was a clear waiver of an answer.  The President could not or would not reply categorically to the queries of the editor.  Perhaps the impossibility of doing so both satisfactorily and honestly may explain why the paper was left unfinished and unsent.  It was not an easy letter to write; its composition must have puzzled one who was always clear both in thought and in expression.  Probably Mr. Lincoln no longer expected that the end of the war would leave slavery in existence, nor intended that it should do so; and doubtless he anticipated that the course of events would involve the destruction of that now rotten and undermined institution, without serious difficulty at the opportune moment.  The speeches made at the Republican nominating convention had been very outspoken, to the effect that slavery must be made to “cease forever,” as a result of the war.  Yet a blunt statement that abolition would be a sine qua non in any arrangements for peace, emanating directly from the President, as a declaration of his policy, would be very costly in the pending campaign, and would imperil rather than advance the fortunes of him who had this consummation at heart, and would thereby also diminish the chance for the consummation itself.  So at last he seems to have left the war Democrats to puzzle over the conundrum, and decide as best they could.  Of course the doubt affected unfavorably the votes of some of them.

A measure of the mischief which was done by these suspicions and by Greeley’s assertions that the administration did not desire peace, may be taken from a letter, written to Mr. Lincoln on August 22 by Mr. Henry J. Raymond, chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Republican party.  From all sides, Mr. Raymond says, “I hear but one report.  The tide is setting strongly against us.”  Mr. Washburne, he writes, despairs of Illinois, and Mr. Cameron of Pennsylvania, and he himself is not hopeful of New York, and Governor Morton is doubtful of Indiana; “and so of the rest.”  For this melancholy condition he assigns two causes:  the want of military successes, and the belief “that we are not to have peace in any event under this administration until slavery is abandoned.  In some way or other the suspicion is widely diffused that we can have peace with union, if we would.”  Then even this stanch Republican leader suggests that it might be good policy to sound Jefferson Davis on the feasibility of peace “on the sole condition of acknowledging the supremacy of the Constitution,—­all other questions to be settled in a convention of the people of all the States.”  The President might well have been thrown into inextricable confusion of mind, betwixt the assaults of avowed enemies, the denunciations

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