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By George Lowell Austin.
There is something eminently satisfactory in the reflection that, when the new faith, “That all men are created equal,” and that “Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” was finally assailed by the slave-power of America, and had to pass the ordeal of four years of war, a man born and reared in poverty, deficient in education, unused to the etiquette even of ordinary society, and untutored in the art of diplomacy and deception, had been selected by the people of the United States to become the representative of the new faith, and the defender of the government established upon it. This man was Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, the record of whose life, at once important, eventful, and tragic, it is pleasant to recall.
There are, in my judgment, at least four men associated with the period of the civil war, who, in their early lives, their struggles, their training, and their future callings, ought forever to command the admiration of this people: Lincoln, the lowly, the exalted, the pure man in rude marble, the plain cover to a gentle nature, the giant frame and noble intellect; Grant, the defender of the Federal Union, the unflinching soldier, around whose dying couch a whole nation now lingers, whose light will shine down through future ages a warning to conspirators, to freemen a pledge, and to the oppressed a beacon of hope; Stanton, the lion of Buchanan’s cabinet, the collaborator of Lincoln, the supporter of Grant, gifted with the far-seeing eye of a Carnot, spotless in character, incorruptible in integrity, great in talent and learning, and a fit object of unhesitating trust; and John Rogers, the American sculptor, who has offered, in his beautiful and famous group of statuary, “The Council of War,” an undying tribute to these three great leaders in American history, and is himself worthy to be grouped with them in our remembrance.
“Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath,
And stars to set; but all—
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!”
If we could have looked into a rude log-cabin in Hardin county, Kentucky, on the morning of the 12th of February, 1809, we should have seen an infant just born,—and with what promise of future greatness? Looking ahead ten years, we should have discerned this infant, Abraham, developing into youth, still living in the old log-cabin, with neither doors nor windows, with wolves and bears for neighbors, with a shiftless father. But his mother was dead! Still this mother had left her impress, and she had become in that boy’s heart “an angel of a mother.” She made him what he afterwards proved himself to be. Follow Abraham Lincoln where we will,—from the cradle to the grave,—and we shall find