Slike strani

about the issues that arose between the different members of the Cabinet family comes to us chiefly through the Diary of Welles, who has described with apparent impartiality the idiosyncrasies of each of the secretaries and whose references to the tact, patience, and gracefully exercised will-power of the President are fully in line with the best estimates of Lincoln's character.

One of the first and most difficult tasks confronting the President and his secretaries in the organisation of the army and of the navy was in the matter of the higher appointments. The army had always been a favourite provision for the men from the South. The representatives of Southern families were, as a rule, averse to trade and there were, in fact, under the more restricted conditions of business in the Southern States, comparatively few openings for trading on the larger or mercantile scale. As a result of this preference, the cadetships in West Point and the commissions in the army had been held in much larger proportion (according to the population) by men of Southern birth. This was less the case in the navy because the marine interests of New England and of the Middle States had educated a larger number of Northern men for naval

[ocr errors]

interests. When the war began, a very considerable number of the best trained and most valuable officers in the army resigned to take part with their States. The army lost the service of men like Lee, Johnston, Beauregard, and many others. A few good Southerners, such as Thomas of Virginia and Anderson of Kentucky, took the ground that their duty to the Union and to the flag was greater than their obligation to their State. In the navy, Maury, Semmes, Buchanan, and other men of ability resigned their commissions and devoted themselves to the (by no means easy) task of building up a navy for the South; but Farragut of Tennessee remained with the navy to carry the flag of his country to New Orleans and to Mobile.

It was easy and natural during the heat of 1861 to characterise as traitors the men who went with their States to fight against the flag of their country. Looking at the matter now, forty-seven years later, we are better able to estimate the character and the integrity of the motives by which they were actuated. We do not need to-day to use the term traitors for men like Lee and Johnston. It was not at all unnatural that with their understanding of the government of the States in which they had been born, and

[ocr errors]

with their belief that these States had a right
to take action for themselves, they should have
decided that their obligation lay to the State
rather than to what they had persisted in think-
ing of not as a nation but as a mere confederation.
We may rather believe that Lee was as honest
in his way as Thomas and Farragut in theirs,
but the view that the United States is a nation
has been maintained through the loyal services
of the men who held with Thomas and with




On April 12, 1861, came with the bombardment of Fort Sumter the actual beginning of the War. The foreseeing shrewdness of Lincoln had resisted all suggestions for any such immediate action on the part of the government as would place upon the North the responsibility for the opening of hostilities. Shortly after the fall of Sumter, a despatch was drafted by Seward for the guidance of American ministers abroad. The first reports in regard to the probable action of European governments gave the impression that the sympathy of these governments was largely with the South. In France and England, expressions had been used by leading officials which appeared to foreshadow an early recognition of the Confederacy. Seward's despatch as first drafted was unwisely angry and truculent in tone. If brought into publication, it would probably have increased the antagonism of the men who were

ruling England. It appeared in fact to foreshadow war with England. Seward had assumed that England was going to take active part with the South and was at once throwing down the gauntlet of defiance. It was Lincoln who insisted that this was no time, whatever might be the provocation, for the United States to be shaking its fist at Europe. The despatch was reworded and the harsh and angry expressions were eliminated. The right claimed by the United States, in common with all nations, to maintain its own existence was set forth with full force, while it was also made clear that the nation was strong enough to maintain its rights against all foes whether within or without its boundaries. It is rather strange to recall that throughout the relations of the two men, it was the trained and scholarly statesman of the East who had to be repressed for unwise truculency and that the repression was done under the direction of the comparatively inexperienced representative of the West, the man who had been dreaded by the conservative Republicans of New York as likely to introduce into the national policy "wild and woolly” notions.

In Lincoln's first message to Congress, he asks the following question: "Must a government

« PrejšnjaNaprej »