Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
possibly be compassed.  That it could be carried only by the aid of a contingent of Democratic votes did not so much discourage them as stimulate their zeal; for such votes would prevent the mischief of a partisan or sectional aspect.  In his message to Congress, December 6, 1864, the President referred to the measure which, after its failure in the preceding session, was now to come up again, by virtue of that shrewd motion for reconsideration.  Intelligibly, though not in terms, he appealed for Democratic help.  He said:—­

“Although the present is the same Congress and nearly the same members, and without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the reconsideration and passage of the measure at the present session.  Of course the abstract question is not changed; but an intervening election shows, almost certainly, that the next Congress will pass the measure if this does not.  Hence there is only a question of time as to when the proposed amendment will go to the States for their action; and as it is so to go, at all events, may we not agree that the sooner the better.  It is not claimed that the election has imposed a duty on members to change their views or their votes, any further than, as an additional element to be considered, their judgment may be affected by it.  It is the voice of the people now for the first time heard upon the question.  In a great national crisis like ours unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable,—­almost indispensable.  And yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable unless some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority.  In this case the common end is the maintenance of the Union, and among the means to secure that end, such will, through the election, is more clearly declared in favor of such a constitutional amendment.”

In the closing sentence the word “maintenance” is significant.  So far as the restoration of Union went, the proclamation had done nearly all that could be done.  This amendment was to insure the future maintenance of the Union by cutting out the cause of disunion.

The President did not rest content with merely reiterating sentiments which every man had long known that he held.  Of such influence as he could properly exert among members of the House he was not chary.  The debate began on January 6, 1865, and he followed it closely and eagerly.  On the 27th it was agreed that the voting should take place on the following day.  No one yet felt sure of the comparative strength of the friends and opponents of the measure, and up to the actual taking of the vote the result was uncertain.  We knew, says Arnold, “we should get some Democratic votes; but whether enough, none could tell.”  Ex-Governor English of Connecticut, a Democrat, gave the first Aye from his party; whereupon loud cheers burst forth; then ten others followed his example.  Eight more Democrats gave their indirect aid by being

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