Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
condition could really be reached, and that it could be reached by the road which he had marked out.  This confidence indicated an opinion of human nature much higher than human nature has yet appeared entitled to.  It also anticipated on the part of the Southerners an appreciation of the facts of the case which few among them were sufficiently clear-minded to furnish.  It is curious to observe that Lincoln saw the present situation and foresaw the coming situation with perfect clearness, at the same time that he was entirely unable to see the uselessness of his panacea; whereas, on the other hand, those who rejected his impracticable plan remained entirely blind to those things which he saw.  It seems an odd combination of traits that he always recognized and accepted a fact, and yet was capable of being wholly impractical.

In connection with these efforts in behalf of the slaveholders, which show at least a singular goodness of heart towards persons who had done everything to excite even a sense of personal hatred, it may not be seriously out of place to quote a paragraph which does not, indeed, bear upon slavery, but which does illustrate the remarkable temper which Mr. Lincoln maintained towards the seceding communities.  In December, 1861, in his annual message to this Congress, whose searching anti-slavery measures have just been discussed, he said:—­

“There are three vacancies on the bench of the Supreme Court....  I have so far forborne making nominations to fill these vacancies for reasons which I will now state.  Two of the outgoing judges resided within the States now overrun by revolt; so that if successors were appointed in the same localities, they could not now serve upon their circuits; and many of the most competent men there probably would not take the personal hazard of accepting to serve, even here, upon the Supreme Bench.  I have been unwilling to throw all the appointments northward, thus disabling myself from doing justice to the South on the return of peace; although I may remark that to transfer to the North one which has heretofore been in the South would not, with reference to territory and population, be unjust."[3] To comment upon behavior and motives so extraordinary is, perhaps, as needless as it is tempting.


[1] Also in the House Thaddeus Stevens and Lovejoy, and in the Senate Sumner, did not vote.

[2] Lincoln’s intimate personal and political friend, and afterward his biographer.

[3] Annual Message to Congress, December, 1861.



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