Abraham Lincoln eBook

George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 516 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.
right as God gave him to see the right, had striven on to finish the work that he was in.”  In England, apart from more formal tokens of a late-learnt regard and an unfeigned regret, Punch embodied in verse of rare felicity the manly contrition of its editor for ignorant derision in past years; and Queen Victoria symbolised best of all, and most acceptably to Americans, the feeling of her people when she wrote to Mrs. Lincoln “as a widow to a widow.”  Nor, though the transactions in which he bore his part were but little understood in this country till they were half forgotten, has tradition ever failed to give him, by just instinct, his rank with the greatest of our race.

Many great deeds had been done in the war.  The greatest was the keeping of the North together in an enterprise so arduous, and an enterprise for objects so confusedly related as the Union and freedom.  Abraham Lincoln did this; nobody else could have done it; to do it he bore on his sole shoulders such a weight of care and pain as few other men have borne.  When it was over it seemed to the people that he had all along been thinking their real thoughts for them; but they knew that this was because he had fearlessly thought for himself.  He had been able to save the nation, partly because he saw that unity was not to be sought by the way of base concession.  He had been able to free the slaves, partly because he would not hasten to this object at the sacrifice of what he thought a larger purpose.  This most unrelenting enemy to the project of the Confederacy was the one man who had quite purged his heart and mind from hatred or even anger towards his fellow-countrymen of the South.  That fact came to be seen in the South too, and generations in America are likely to remember it when all other features of his statecraft have grown indistinct.  A thousand reminiscences ludicrous or pathetic, passing into myth but enshrining hard fact, will prove to them that this great feature of his policy was a matter of more than policy.  They will remember it as adding a peculiar lustre to the renovation of their national existence; as no small part of the glory, surpassing that of former wars, which has become the common heritage of North and South.  For perhaps not many conquerors, and certainly few successful statesmen, have escaped the tendency of power to harden or at least to narrow their human sympathies; but in this man a natural wealth of tender compassion became richer and more tender while in the stress of deadly conflict he developed an astounding strength.

Beyond his own country some of us recall his name as the greatest among those associated with the cause of popular government.  He would have liked this tribute, and the element of truth in it is plain enough, yet it demands one final consideration.  He accepted the institutions to which he was born, and he enjoyed them.  His own intense experience of the weakness of democracy did not sour him, nor would any similar

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Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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