Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
and few Southerners doubted that he was sure of taking it and Richmond.  In the middle country Sherman, after taking Atlanta, had soon thereafter marched cheerily forth on his imposing, theatrical, holiday excursion to the sea, leaving General Thomas behind him to do the hard fighting with General Hood.  The grave doubt as to whether too severe a task had not been placed upon Thomas was dispelled by the middle of the month, when his brilliant victory at Nashville so shattered the Southern army that it never again attained important proportions.  In June preceding, the notorious destroyer, the Alabama, had been sunk by the Kearsarge.  In November the Shenandoah, the last of the rebel privateers, came into Liverpool, and was immediately handed over by the British authorities to Federal officials; for the Englishmen had at last found out who was going to win in the struggle.  In October, the rebel ram Albemarle was destroyed by the superb gallantry of Lieutenant Cushing.  Thus the rebel flag ceased to fly above any deck.  Along the coast very few penetrable crevices could still be found even by the most enterprising blockade-runners; and already the arrangements were making which brought about, a month later, the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington.

Under these circumstances the desire to precipitate the pace and to reach the end with a rush possessed many persons of the nervous and eager type.  They could not spur General Grant, so they gave their vexatious attention to the President, and endeavored to compel him to open with the Confederate government negotiations for a settlement, which they believed, or pretended to believe, might thus be attained.  But Mr. Lincoln was neither to be urged nor wheedled out of his simple position.  In his message to Congress he referred to the number of votes cast at the recent election as indicating that, in spite of the drain of war, the population of the North had actually increased during the preceding four years.  This fact shows, he said, “that we are not exhausted nor in process of exhaustion; that we are gaining strength, and may, if need be, maintain the contest indefinitely.  This as to men.  Material resources are now more complete and abundant than ever.  The natural resources, then, are unexhausted, and, as we believe, inexhaustible.  The public purpose to reestablish and maintain the national authority is unchanged, and, as we believe, unchangeable.  The manner of continuing the effort remains to choose.  On careful consideration of all the evidence accessible, it seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good.  He would accept nothing short of severance of the Union,—­precisely what we will not and cannot give.  His declarations to this effect are explicit and oft-repeated.  He does not attempt to deceive us.  He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves.  He cannot voluntarily re-accept the Union; we cannot voluntarily yield it.  Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible.  It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory.  If we yield, we are beaten; if the Southern people fail him, he is beaten.  Either way, it would be the victory and defeat following war.

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