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sedly civilized people since the darkest ages; but the grand armies of Eastern Tennessee and in Virginia, heavily increased in strength by new levies and by the withdrawal of troops from positions in which their action could not be effective in executing the intended advance upon the great central points of the rebellion, were put in condition for striking the last mortal blows upon a tottering conspiracy, too long suffered to gather hope from the delay of retribution on its crimes.
The following speech, delivered by Mr. Lincoln on the 18th of April, 1864, at a fair held in Baltimore for the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission, is particularly suggestive, in regard to the date, place, and occasion of its delivery. On his way to Washington, in February, 1861, he passed through the city of Baltimore incognito, to escape from a plot of assassination, of which he had been forewarned. On the 19th of April, in the same year, the blood of loyal soldiers, on marching to protect the National Capital, had flowed in the streets of that city. He now stood before an immense throng in the same city, on the anniversary eve of the assault upon those soldiers, at the fair in aid of an organization for the benefit of Union soldiers every-where. He spoke, too, of slavery, and was loudly cheered when he referred to the practically accomplished annihilation of that institution in Maryland. He even took this opportunity—the first public occasion presented—to announce his determined purpose of enforcing retaliation (long before enjoined on the army by special orders) for the crime, then just perpetrated, of massacreing the colored garrison of Fort Pillow, refusing quarter.
The report of this speech, as it appeared in the Baltimore journals at the time, is here given :
After the cheering had ended, and after, with great exertions, order had been secured-every body being anxious to see the President--he said, substantially:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN : Calling it to mind that we are in Baltimore, we can not fail to note that the world moves. [Applause ] Looking upon the many people I see assembled here to serve as they best may the soldiers of the Union, it cccurs to me that three years ago those soldiers could not pass through Baltimore. I would say, blessings upon the men who have wrought these changes, and the ladies who have assisted them. [Applause. This change which has taken place in Baltimore, is part only of a far wider change that is taking place all over the country.
When the war commenced, three years ago, no one expected that it would last this long, and no one supposed that the institution of slavery would be materially affected by it. But here we are. The war is not yet ended, and slavery has been very materially affected or interfered with. [Loud applause.] So true is it that man proposes and God disposes.
The world is in want of a good definition of the word liberty. We all declare ourselves to be for liberty, but we do not all mean the same thing. Some mean that a man can do as he pleases with himself and his property. With others, it means that some men can do as they please with other men and other men’s labor. Each of these things are called liberty, although they are entirely different. To give an illustration : A shepherd drives the wolf from the throat of his sheep when attacked by him, and the sheep, of course, thanks the shepherd for the preservation of his life; but the wolf denounces him as despoiling the sheep of his liberty—especially if it be a black sheep. [Applause.]
This same difference of opinion prevails among some of the people of the North. But the people of Maryland have recently been doing something to properly define the meaning of the word, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for what they have done and are doing. [Applause.]
It is not very becoming for a President to make a speech at great length, but there is a painful rumor afloat in the country, in reference to which a few words shall be said. It is reported that there has been a wanton massacre of some hundreds of colored soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, during a recent engagement there, and it is fit to explain some facts in relation to the affair. It is said by some persons that the Government is not, in this matter, doing its duty. At the commencement of the it was doubtful whether black men would be used as soldiers or not. The matter was examined into very carefully, and after mature deliberation, the whole matter resting as it were with himself, he, in his judgment, decided that they should. [Applause.]
He was responsible for the act to the American people, to a Christian nation, to the future historian, and, above all, to his God, to whom he would have, one day, to render an account of his stewardship. He would now say that in his opinion the black soldier should have the same protection as the white soldier, and he would have it. [Applause.] It was an error to
say that the Government was not acting in the matter. The Government has no direct evidence to confirm the reports in existence relative to this massacre, but he himself believed the facts in relation to it to be as stated. When the Government does know the facts from official sources, and they prove to substantiate the reports, retribution will be surely given. [Applause.
A month earlier, Mr. Lincoln had made the following happy response to a call of the assembled multitude at a fair, for sim. ilar objects, held in Washington:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I appear, to say but a word. This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, all that a man hath will he give for his life; and, while all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country's cause. The highest merit, then, is due to the soldier.
In this extraordinary war, extraordinary developments have manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents in these fairs are the women of America. I am not accustomed to the use of the language of eulogy; I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that, if all that has been said by orators and poets, since the creation of the world, in praise of women, were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America ! [Great applause.]
The spring elections of 1864, in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, showed still more decidedly than those of the previous year, that the Administration had become strong in the confidence and affection of the people. That this gratifying result had a direct relation to Mr. Lincoln in person, is seen in the fact that the Administration party in each of those States, had committed itself, without dissent, in favor of his reëlection, making this a distinct issue of the canvass. In twelve other States, nearly at the same time, the popular voice, as declared through State Conventions or Legislatures, demanded, with like unanimity and enthusiasm, that Mr. Lincoln should continue in the Presidency for another term. A similar current of opinion was seen to exist in every other loyal State. Since the celebrated “era of good feeling," in the days of President Monroe, this manifestation of popular sentiment has had no parallel. Abroad, too, no less than at home, the true friends of our Government have almost universally looked upon the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln, under the present circumstances of the country, as the manifest interest and duty of the American people.
The policy of Mr. Lincoln's Administration has been fully set forth in his own words. No dissembling, no insincerity, gives the least false tinge to any of his public papers or addresses. This outspoken, frank, confiding way of his, has given him a hold upon the popular heart, and upon the love of all true men, such as few statesmen have ever had. Honesty” is the word which has been commonly used in speaking of this trait-coupled with a sterling integrity that excludes all selfish and sinister ends; yet it is something more, as the Golden Rule has a wider scope than simple justice. He not only really believes in the right and the true as infinitely preferable to the wrong and the false, both in means and in end, but he is also sure that the people have the same pure faith, and will judge him with that degree of candor which he uses in unfolding to them his purposes and his thoughts. The spirit of that Diplo- . macy which conceals, and feigns, and doubles, and deceives, never for a moment darkened his mind.
Of necessity, the questions relating to slavery and the African element of our population, have occupied the foremost ground during all this great struggle, in which Mr. Lincoln has been called to lead the organized action of the nation. His whole policy on this general subject, and a concise history of his action and of the processes of his mind thereon, are set forth, with admirable frankness and precision, in the following letter to a gentleman in Kentucky:
WASHINGTON, April 4, 1864. A. G. HODGES, Esq., Frankfort, Ky.—My Dear Sir: You ask me to put in writing the substance of what I verbally said, the other day, in your presence, to Gov. Bramlette and Senator Dixon. It was about as follows:
I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think and feel. And yet, I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took, that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view, that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that, in ordinary civil administration, this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary, abstract judgment, on the moral question of slavery. I liad publicly declared this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery.
I did understand, however, that my oath to preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that Government that Nation-of which that Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the Nation, and yet preserve the Constitution?
By general law, life and limb must be protected ; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I feel that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the preservation of the Nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that to the best of my ability I had even tried to preserve the Constitution, if to save slavery or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of Government, Country and Constitution, all together. When early in the war, Gen. Fremont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity. When a little later, Gen. Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, Gen. Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come.
When, in March, and May, and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the Border States to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for nilitary emancipation and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposi