Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
might never have got farther away from obscurity than does the ordinary member of Congress.  Does this statement limit his greatness, by requiring a rare condition to give it play?  The question is of no serious consequence, since the condition existed; and the discussion which calls it forth is also of no great consequence.  For what is gained by trying to award him a number in a rank-list of heroes?  It is enough to believe that probably Lincoln alone among historical characters could have done that especial task which he had to do.  It was a task of supreme difficulty, and like none which any other man ever had to undertake; and he who was charged with it was even more distantly unlike any other man in both moral and mental equipment.  We cannot force lines to be parallel, for our own convenience or curiosity, when in fact they are not parallel.  Let us not then try to compare and to measure him with others, and let us not quarrel as to whether he was greater or less than Washington, as to whether either of them, set to perform the other’s task, would have succeeded with it, or, perchance, would have failed.  Not only is the competition itself an ungracious one, but to make Lincoln a competitor is foolish and useless.  He was the most individual man who ever lived; let us be content with this fact.  Let us take him simply as Abraham Lincoln, singular and solitary, as we all see that he was; let us be thankful if we can make a niche big enough for him among the world’s heroes, without worrying ourselves about the proportion which it may bear to other niches; and there let him remain forever, lonely, as in his strange lifetime, impressive, mysterious, unmeasured, and unsolved.


[79] See ante, pp. 237-241 (chapter on Reconstruction).

[80] Grant, Memoirs, ii. 460.

[81] Grant, Memoirs, ii. 459.  This differs from the statement of N. and H. x. 216, that “amid the wildest enthusiasm, the President again reviewed the victorious regiments of Grant, marching through Petersburg in pursuit of Lee.”  Either picture is good; perhaps that of the silent, deserted city is not the less effective.

[82] Between March 29 and the date of surrender, 19,132 Confederates had been captured, a fate to which it was shrewdly suspected that many were not averse.

[83] May 11, 1865.

[84] Hon. George W. Julian says:  “I spent most of the afternoon in a political caucus, held for the purpose of considering the necessity for a new cabinet and a line of policy less conciliatory than that of Mr. Lincoln; and while everybody was shocked at his murder, the feeling was nearly universal that the accession of Johnson to the presidency would prove a godsend to the country.” Polit.  Recoll. 255.


[**Transcriber’s Note:  The index covers volume I and volume II of the work.  For every term, the individual entries are arranged in order of appearance in the two volumes.  Index entries are therefore marked with “see vol. i.”, and “see vol. ii.” accordingly.  References that have no mark refer to the same volume as the last entry with a mark.]

Project Gutenberg
Abraham Lincoln, Volume II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook