Slike strani
PDF
ePub

what St. Paul says, “and now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.""

From the day of his leaving Springfield to assume the duties of the Presidency, when he so impressively asked his friends and neighbors to invoke for him the guidance and wisdom of God, to the evening of his death, he seemed ever to live and act in the consciousness of his responsibility to that God, and with the trusting faith of a child he leaned confidingly upon His Almighty Arm. He was visited during his administration by many Christian delegations, representing the various religious denominations of the Republic, and it is known that he was relieved and comforted in his great work by the knowledge that the Christian world were praying for his success. Some one said to him, one day, “no man was ever so remembered in the prayers of the people, especially those who pray

not to be heard of men,' as you are.” He replied, “I have been a good deal helped by just that thought."

The support which Mr. Lincoln received during his administration from the religious organizations, and the sympathy and confidence between the great body of Christians and the President, was a source of immense strength and power to him.

I know of nothing revealing more of the true character of Mr. Lincoln, his conscientiousness, his views of the slavery question, his sagacity and his full appreciation of the awful trial through which the country and he had to pass, than the following incident stated by Mr. Bateman, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Illinois.

On one occasion, in the Autumn of 1860, after conversing with Mr. Bateman at some length, on the, to him, strange conduct of Christian men and ministers of the Gospel supporting slavery, he said:

" I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me- - and I think He has — I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but Truth is everything. I know I am right, because I know that Liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I

6

have told them that a house divided against itself cannot stand ; and Christ and Reason say the same; and they will find it so.

"• Douglas don't care whether slavery is voted up or down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with God's help I shall not fail. I may not see the end; but it will come, and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find that they have not read their Bibles right.'

“Much of this was uttered as if he was speaking to himself, and with a sad, earnest solemnity of manner impossible to be described. After a pause, he resumed : ‘Does n't it appear strange that men can ignore the moral aspect of this contest? A revelation could not make it plainer to me that slavery or the Government must be destroyed. The future would be something awful, as I look at it, but for this rock on which I stand, (alluding to the Testament which he still held in his hand,) especially with the knowledge of how these ministers are going to vote. It seems as if God had borne with this thing (slavery) until the

very teachers of religion had come to defend it from the Bible, and to claim for it a divine character and sanction; and now the cup of iniquity is full, and the vials of wrath will be poured out. After this the conversation was continued for a long time. Everything he said was of a peculiarly deep, tender and religious tone, and all was tinged with a touching melancholy. He repeatedly referred to his conviction that the day of wrath was at hand, and that he was to be an actor in the terrible struggle which would issue in the overthrow of slavery, though he might not live to see the end.”

The place Mr. Lincoln will occupy in history, will be higher than any which he held while living. His Emancipation Proclamation is the most important historical event of the nineteenth century. Its influence will not be limited by time, nor bounded by locality. It will ever be treated by the historian as one of the great land-marks of human progress.

He has been compared and contrasted with three great personages in history, who were assassinated, with Cæsar, with William of Orange, and with Henry the IV. of France. He was a nobler type of man than either, as he was the product of a higher and more Christian civilization.

The two men, whose preëminence in American history will not hereafter be questioned, are Washington and Lincoln. Lincoln was as pure as Washington, as modest, as just, as

patriotic; less passionate by nature, more of a democrat, with more faith in the people, and more hopeful of the future. Washington will be the representative man of the era of Independence; and Lincoln, that of universal liberty.

The cardinal ideas of Lincoln's policy, were national Unity and Liberty. That the portion of the earth called the United States should continue the home of one national family, recognizing the brotherhood of man, was his grand aim. This great family, with a continent for a homestead, universal liberty, restrained and guided by intelligence and Christianity, was his sublime ideal of the future. For this he lived, and for this he died.

CHAPTER XXX.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF THE WAR.

THE WAR POWERS OF THE GOVERNMENT—THE RIGHT TO TREAT

THE CONFEDERATES AS PUBLIC ENEMIES—THE HABEAS CORPUS, WHO MAY SUSPEND IT—THE RIGHT TO EMANCIPATE SLAVES IN TIME OF WAR — To ESTALISH MILITARY GOVERNMENTS OVER REBELLIOUS AND BELLIGERENT TERRITORY—THE LEGAL Status OF REBELLIOUS STATES-JUDICIAL DECISIONS—MAY CONDITIONS BE IMPOSED UPON REBELLIOUS STATES, BEFORE BEING PERMITTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE GOVERNMENT-AND BY WHAT POWER— WHO MUST DETERMINE WHETHER A STATE GOVERNMENT 18 REPUBLICAN IN FORM-WHAT HAS BEEN SETTLED BY THE WAR.

I PROPOSE in this, the concluding chapter, to give a

history of the Constitution during the war. During the rebellion, a great party condensed into a single, short sentence its creed and its policy: The Union as it was, and the Constitution as it is.To this it was replied, the America of the past is gone forever; a new nation has been born through the agony of the great civil war. The theories and the institution which produced that war, have been overthrown, and their roots are being eradicated. Changes in the construction of the Constitution; in the development of its long dormant and scarcely suspected war powers, and amendments to the Constitution itself, have produced changes which almost amount to a revolution. The attention of the people has been so absorbed by the stirring scenes of the conflict, by the hopes which elated, and the fears which depressed them, that they have scarcely noticed, in the presence of these more stirring events, this revolution. A revolution as important in its results as the defeat of hostile armies, or the overthrow of armed rebellion. Great civil wars have almost always produced great changes. When they have secured liberty and justice; when they have exalted the sentiment of national honor; and when, in any large degree, they have promoted the public welfare, then the results which they have produced are more important, more paramount, more permanent, and more worthy of admiration than the most renowned of victories. War, in itself, is but a record of suffering, heightened often, it is true, by the display of the highest virtue and capacity, but chiefly interesting from its results; and as the means to accomplish great ends.

The most valuable lessons in history are derived, not from mere military operations, but from the conflict of the great ideas and principles which underlie all great wars. In the great and sad tragedy of our civil war, crowded, as it has been, with scenes of the most intense interest, nothing is more important than the great political revolution which it has accomplished. The two great ideas which the Union armies represented, were Nationality and Liberty. At the South, it was Slavery and the State. National Unity and Universal Freedom have triumphed; and, with their triumph, there has been a great change of opinion in respect to the war powers of the Government under the Constitution, including the powers of the President and Congress, on the subject of rebellion, slavery, treason, and

The history of these changes, the Constitutional history of the war, is worthy of the profound study of all enlightened statesmen and thinkers, of all who trust in and admire, or who fear the progress of popular government.

It is, doubtless, too early to write this part of the history of the great conflict. The atmosphere is not yet clear of the clouds of the contest, and the billows of contending opinion have not yet entirely subsided. I propose to note some of the changes, and thereby aid those who, in cooler and calmer days, shall make up the record.

Let us go back, and see what was the condition of public opinion, which in our country makes the law, preceding the war, on the subjects suggested, and compare it with the present, and the great changes will be obvious and striking. The best evidence of public opinion upon the construction of the Constitution in regard to slavery, State rights, the

war.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »