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THE CLOSE OF THE REBELLION.
THE INAUGURAL Address.--PROCLAMATION TO DESERTERS.-SPEECHES BY THE PRESIDENT.-DESTRUCTION OF LEE'S ARMY.-THE PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO RICHMOND.-RETURN TO WASHINGTON.-CLOSE OF THE WAR
It seems hardly credible that four years should embrace within their narrow limit so immense a change as the four years of Mr. Lincoln's first Administration had brought to the country and to himself. When, on the 4th of March, 1861, he took the oath of office, administered to him by Chief-Justice Taney, the horizon was dark with storms, whose duration and violence were as yet happily unknown. He himself, as he stood on the steps of the Capitol, was an untried man, sneered at by those. who had held the reins of power in the country, an object for the rising hate of the aspiring aristocracy of the South, which had already sought his life, and would have sought it with still greater vindictiveness, if a tithe of the sagacity, firmness, honesty, and patriotism which animated his breast had been understood; even then an object of interest and growing affection, comparatively unknown as he was even to his own friends, to those who saw the danger which was overhanging the country, and were nerving themselves to meet it.
But now the fierceness of the storm seemed to be passing away, and clearer skies to be seen through the rolling clouds. The citizen, who, four years before, was utterly untried and unknown, was now the chosen leader of a nation of thirty million people, who trusted in his honesty as they trusted in the eternal principles of Nature, who believed him to be wise, and knew him to be abundant in patience and kindness of heart, with an army of half a million
men and'a navy of hundreds of vessels at his command, one of the most powerful, certainly the most loved of all the leaders of the nations of the earth. There could be but one higher step for him to attain, and to that, also, in the order of Providence, he was soon to be called.
The scene of his re-inauguration was a striking one. The morning had been inclement, storming so violently that up to a few minutes before twelve o'clock it was supposed that the Inaugural Address would have to be delivered in the Senate Chamber. But the people had gathered in immense numbers before the Capitol, in spite of the storm, and just before noon the rain ceased and the clouds broke away, and, as the President took the oath of office, the blue sky appeared above, a small white cloud, like a hovering bird, seemed to hang above his head, and the sunlight broke through the clouds and fell upon him with a glory, afterwards felt to have been an emblem of the martyr's crown, which was so soon to rest upon his head.
The oath of office was administered by Chief-Justice Chase, and the President delivered his second Inaugural Address as follows:
FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN:-At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed very fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.
The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avoid it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city, seeking to destroy it with warseeking to dissolve the Union and divide the effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather
than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial onlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease, or even before the conflict itself should cease. Fach looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other inen's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayer of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of these offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern there any departure from those Divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so, still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
The only change which was made in the Cabinet was one made necessary by the resignation, in consequence of his election to the Senate, of Mr. Fessenden, Secretary of the Treasury, whose post was filled on the 6th of March, by the appointment of the Hon. Hugh McCullough, of Indiana. With this exception, affairs went on as before,
without any perceptible change in their working in consequence of the change of Administration.
The Senate met in extra session, and at once had a sharp debate on the admission of the Senators from Arkansas, whose credentials were finally ordered to be sent to the Committee of the Judiciary. The other business before the Senate was Executive merely.
One of the acts passed by Congress near the close of the session was an amendment of the laws for calling out the National forces, one provision of which directed the President to issue a proclamation, calling upon deserters to return to their duty within sixty days. Accordingly, on the 11th of March, the proclamation was issued as follows:
Whereas, the twenty-first section of the act of Congress, approved on the 3d instant, entitled "An Act to amend the several acts heretofore passed to provide for the enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes," requires that, in addition to the other lawful penalties of the crime of desertion from the military or naval service, all persons who have deserted the military or naval service of the United States who shall not return to said service or report themselves to a provost-marshal within sixty days after the proclamation hereinafter mentioned, shall be deemed and taken to have voluntarily relinquished and forfeited their citizenship and their right to become citizens, and such deserters shall be forever incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under the United States, or of exercising any rights of citizens thereof; and all persons who shall hereafter desert the military or naval service, and all persons who, being duly enrolled, shall depart the jurisdiction of the district in which they are enrolled, or go beyond the limits of the United States with intent to avoid any draft into the military or naval service duly ordered, shall be liable to the penalties of this section; and the President is hereby authorized and required forthwith, on the passage of this act, to issue his proclamation setting forth the provisions of this section, in which proclamation the President is requested to notify all deserters returning within sixty days as aforesaid that they shall be pardoned on condition of returning to their regiments and companies, or to such other organizations as they may be assigned to, until they shall have served for a period of time equal to their original term of enlistment:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do issue this my proclamation as required by said act, ordering and requiring all deserters to return to their proper posts; and I do
hereby notify them that all deserters who shall within sixty days from the date of this proclamation, viz., on or before the 10th day of May, 1865, return to service or report themselves to a provost-marshal, shall be pardoned on condition that they return to their regiments or companies or to such other organization as they may be assigned to, and serve the remainder of their original terms of enlistinent, and in addition thereto a period equal to the time lost by desertion.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
In addition to the increase of our armies which this proclamation gave-for great numbers of deserters availed themselves of its provisions-the draft, which had been often postponed, was fairly put in operation on the 15th of March;-not that there was was so pressing and immediate a need of men, for the tide of military successes continued to roll in full and strong in our favor; but the authorities felt called upon to provide for future contingencies, which happily never arose.
On every hand the prospects of the rebellion were growing darker. The stream of deserters from Lee's lines was growing larger and larger, most of the men bringing their arms with them, and all uniting in the same story of the demoralization of those they had left behind. In their extremity, the rebel leaders even began to turn to the negro for help, and various propositions were introduced into the rebel Congress looking towards the employment of slaves as soldiers. The measure, however, was not a popular one, for it was felt to be a practical abandonment of those ideas of slavery for whose supremacy the rebellion had been set on foot. At one time the proposition before the rebel Senate for arming the slaves was defeated by one vote. The President referred to this extremity of theirs, and this means of relief which they had sought, in a speech which he made when a rebel flag, captured at Anderson by the One Hundred and Fortieth Indiana Vol