Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.

Besides those who have been named, the government also charged several other persons with complicity in the plot.  Among these were Jefferson Davis and some members of that notorious colony of Confederates who, in the wholesome and congenial safety of Canada, had been plotting mean crimes during the war.  Of course, since these men could not be captured and actually placed upon trial, there was little object in seeking evidence against them, and only so much was produced as came to the possession of the government incidentally in the way of its endeavor to convict those prisoners who were in its possession.  Under these circumstances there was not sufficient evidence to prove that any one of them aided or abetted, or had a guilty knowledge of, the conspiracy; yet certainly there was evidence enough to place them under such suspicion, that, if they were really innocent, they deserve commiseration for their unfortunate situation.

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It is startling to contemplate the responsibility so lightly taken by the mad wretch who shortly and sharply severed the most important life which any man was living on the fourteenth day of April, 1865.  Very rarely, in the course of the ages, have circumstances so converged upon a single person and a special crisis as to invest them with the importance which rested upon this great leader at this difficult time.  Yet, in the briefest instant that can be measured, an ignoble tippler had dared to cut the life-thread from which depended no small portion of the destinies of millions of people.  How the history of this nation might have been changed, had Mr. Lincoln survived to bear his influential part in reconstructing and reuniting the shattered country, no man can tell.  Many have indulged in the idle speculation, though to do so is but to waste time.  The life which he had already lived gives food enough for reflection and for study without trying to evolve out of arbitrary fancy the further things which might have been attempted by him, which might have been of wise or of visionary conception, might have brilliantly succeeded or sadly failed.

It is only forty years since Abraham Lincoln became of much note in the world, yet in that brief time he has been the subject of more varied discussion than has been expended upon any other historical character, save, perhaps, Napoleon; and the kind of discussion which has been called forth by Lincoln is not really to be likened to that which has taken place concerning Napoleon or concerning any other person whomsoever.  The great men of the various eras and nations are comprehensible, at least upon broad lines.  The traits to which each owes his peculiar power can be pretty well agreed upon; the capacity of each can be tolerably well expressed in a formula; each can be intelligibly described in fairly distinct phrases; and whether this be in the spirit of admiration or of condemnation will, in all cases which admit of

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