Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
came before Mr. Lincoln for his signature it placed him in an embarrassing position, because his approval might seem to be an implied contradiction of the position which he had taken concerning the present status of Tennessee and Arkansas.  It was not until February 8, the very day of the count, that he conquered his reluctance, and when at last he did so and decided to sign the resolution, he at the same time carefully made his position plain by a brief message.  He said that he conceived that Congress had lawful power to exclude from the count any votes which it deemed illegal, and that therefore he could not properly veto a joint resolution upon the subject; he disclaimed “all right of the executive to interfere in any way in the matter of canvassing or counting electoral votes;” and he also disclaimed that, by signing the resolution, he had “expressed any opinion on the recitals of the preamble, or any judgment of his own upon the subject of the resolution.”  That is to say, the especial matter dealt with in this proceeding was ultra vires of the executive, and the formal signature of the President was affixed by him without prejudice to his official authority in any other business which might arise concerning the restored condition of statehood.

When the counting of the votes began, the members of the Senate and House did not know whether Mr. Lincoln had signed the resolution or not; and therefore, in the doubt as to what his action would be, the famous twenty-second joint rule, regulating the counting of electoral votes, was drawn in haste and passed with precipitation.[76] It was an instance of angry partisan legislation, which threatened trouble afterward and was useless at the time.  No attempt was made to present or count the votes of Arkansas and Tennessee, and the president of the Senate acted under the joint resolution and not under the joint rule.  Yet the vote of West Virginia was counted, and it was not easy to show that her title was not under a legal cloud fully as dark as that which shadowed Arkansas and Tennessee.

* * * * *

When Mr. Lincoln said concerning his reelection, that the element of personal triumph gave him no gratification, he spoke far within the truth.  He was not boasting of, but only in an unintentional way displaying, his dispassionate and impersonal habit in all political relationships,—­a distinguishing trait, of which history is so chary of parallels that perhaps no reader will recall even one.  A striking instance of it occurred in this same autumn.  On October 12, 1864, the venerable Chief Justice Taney died, and at once the friends of Mr. Chase named him for the succession.  There were few men whom Mr. Lincoln had less reason to favor than this gentleman, who had only condescended to mitigate severe condemnation of his capacity by mild praise of his character, who had hoped to displace him from the presidency, and who, in the effort to do so, had engaged in what might

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