A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 609 pages of information about A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln.
carefully discriminating in his answers between what he was authorized under the Constitution to do as Executive, and what would devolve upon cooerdinate branches of the government, the interview came to nothing.  The commissioners returned to Richmond in great disappointment, and communicated the failure of their efforts to Jefferson Davis, whose chagrin was equal to their own.  They had all caught eagerly at the hope that this negotiation would somehow extricate them from the dilemmas and dangers of their situation.  Davis took the only course open to him after refusing the honorable peace Mr. Lincoln had tendered.  He transmitted the commissioners’ report to the rebel Congress, with a brief and dry message stating that the enemy refused any terms except those the conqueror might grant; and then arranged as vigorous an effort as circumstances permitted once more to “fire the Southern heart.”  A public meeting was called, where the speeches, judging from the meager reports printed, were as denunciatory and bellicose as the bitterest Confederate could desire.  Davis particularly is represented to have excelled himself in defiant heroics.  “Sooner than we should ever be united again,” he said, “he would be willing to yield up everything he had on earth—­if it were possible, he would sacrifice a thousand lives”; and he further announced his confidence that they would yet “compel the Yankees, in less than twelve months, to petition us for peace on our own terms.”

This extravagant rhetoric would seem merely grotesque, were it not embittered by the reflection that it was the signal which carried many additional thousands of brave soldiers to death, in continuing a palpably hopeless military struggle.


Blair—­Chase Chief Justice—­Speed Succeeds Bates—­McCulloch Succeeds Fessenden—­Resignation of Mr. Usher—­Lincoln’s Offer of $400,000,000—­The Second Inaugural—­Lincoln’s Literary Rank—­His Last Speech

The principal concession in the Baltimore platform made by the friends of the administration to their opponents, the radicals, was the resolution which called for harmony in the cabinet.  The President at first took no notice, either publicly or privately, of this resolution, which was in effect a recommendation that he dismiss those members of his council who were stigmatized as conservatives; and the first cabinet change which actually took place after the adjournment of the convention filled the radical body of his supporters with dismay, since they had looked upon Mr. Chase as their special representative in the government.  The publication of the Wade-Davis manifesto still further increased their restlessness, and brought upon Mr. Lincoln a powerful pressure from every quarter to satisfy radical demands by dismissing Montgomery Blair, his Postmaster-General.  Mr. Blair had been one of the founders of the Republican party, and in the very forefront of opposition to slavery extension, but had gradually attracted to himself the hostility of all the radical Republicans in the country.  The immediate cause of this estrangement was the bitter quarrel that developed between his family and General Fremont in Missouri:  a quarrel in which the Blairs were undoubtedly right in the beginning, but which broadened and extended until it landed them finally in the Democratic party.

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A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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