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SANITARY AND CHRISTIAN COMMISSIONS-PRESIDENTIAL CONVENTIONS IN 1864-EMANCIPATION IN THE BORDER STATES.
SANITARY AND CHRISTIAN COMMISSIONS-BALTIMORE AND PHIL ADELPHIA FAIRS-THE PRESIDENCY-BALTIMORE CONVENTION— LINCOLN NOMINATED-CHICAGO CONVENTION-MCCLELLAN NOMINATED -CHASE RESIGNS-FESSENDEN APPOINTED SECRETARYLINCOLN'S VIEWS UPON RECONSTRUCTION-EMANCIPATION IN LOUISIANA, MARYLAND AND MISSOURI.
ARLY in the war, there had been organized a sanitary commission of intelligent, humane, christian gentlemen, who undertook the special duty, in conjunction with the regular medical officers of the army, of looking after and improving the sanitary condition of the soldier. Dr. Bellows of New York, a sincere and earnest christian, whose idea of Christianity consisted in doing good to others, of broad and generous patriotism, was one of the leading minds in organizing this efficient help to the Government, and was made President of the United States Sanitary Commission.
Everything which could contribute to the maintenance and preservation of the health of the army, its wholesome food, the comfort and hygiene of its camps; its hospitals, clothing and medical stores, received the constant, careful and enlightened consideration of the Commission. Voluntary associations to aid this work were organized in every section of the loyal States, and the whole people with generous liberality, placed in the hands of this Commission and in the hands of a kindred association called the Christian Commission, money, medicines, food, clothing, delicacies, wine, nurses, books, secular and religious instruction, and everything which could contribute to the welfare and relieve thewants of the soldiers;
THE SANITARY AND CHRISTIAN COMMISSION.
limited only by the extent to which they could be usefully and judiciously used. Sanitary stores, surgeons and kind nurses, following the soldiers to every battle-field, where the wounded were most tenderly cared for and nursed, and the dying soothed and their last messages carefully transmitted to family and friends. By these means they robbed the battle-field of half its horrors, and every soldier felt that kindness, skill and care would constantly attend him, and would leave nothing undone to relieve his sufferings, to restore him to health; and if it was his fate to die for his country, his last hours would be soothed by affection and christian sympathy. No appeal was ever made by these organizations for money or aid, which was not promptly responded to by the American people. Contributions from the mite of the widow and humble day laborer, the pittance of the child, to the products of the farm, and the shop, and the jewels and the gold of the rich, flowed in so lavishly that many millions were contributed during the war.
The Christian Commission expended more than six millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of these generous contributions, and sent five thousand clergymen, selected from the best and ablest in the land, to the camps and battlefields of this war. The Sanitary Commission had seven thousand societies, and through an unpaid board of directors distributed of these most patriotic offerings, fifteen millions of dollars in supplies and money.
When the telegraph flashed over the land news of a battle, the ablest and most skillful surgeons hastened to the battlefield, to give their brethren of the army the utmost of their skill and experience. The most practical and useful, as well as the gentlest and most refined of women, those of the highest culture, and social position, left homes of luxury and ease to minister as nurses to the wounded and the sick. The minister of God was ever present to soothe and cheer those who suffered, to pronounce the blessing of God upon him who sacrificed life to his country, and liberty.
In furtherance of these objects, a series of great fairs was inaugurated at Chicago, and extended to Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, and the chief
cities and towns of the Union.
The North Western Fair, held at Chicago in the fall of 1863,* was a striking illustra tion of what may be done by the energies of a free people in a cause which appeals to their hearts and judgments.
The spontaneous uprisings of the people to aid the cause of the Union, by aiding the soldier and relieving his sufferings, were scarcely less impressive than that uprising of the people, by which, when the President asked for 75,000 volunteer soldiers, they urged his acceptance of half a mil lion. The women of the country were the most active, efficient agents in these benevolent enterprises. With an organizing power, almost equal to that which organized armies, with a tireless energy which knew no rest or cessation, many noble women consecrated their time and their lives, to these noble purposes. The inspiration of a holy purpose, drew together all ranks and classes of the people, and infused into all the sublime resolve to leave nothing undone for the wounded, suffering soldier.
Party, sect, creed, and social distinctions melted away before the holy influence of these purposes, and all, rich and poor, laborer and millionaire, Catholic and Protestant, laid their gifts and contributions upon the altar of patriotism. Here was indeed a universal brotherhood. From the Presi dent to the day laberer, all united to honor, to relieve, to cheer the brave and sacrificing soldier. These Sanitary and Christian Commissions were the inspiration of religion and patriotism, and were the fairest flowers of Christian civilization. Their spirit was the spirit of Florence Nightingale pervading the women of a nation.
In April 1864, a grand fair for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission, was held at Baltimore. Mr. Lincoln, accompanied by a party of friends attended. He had not visited Baltimore since his hurried, unannounced, and unrecognized passage through that city on his way to the National Capital. Then, had his presence been known, the city would
* It was to this fair that Mr. Lincoln donated the original of the Emancipation Proclamation, which brought into its treasury several thousand dollars,
† I would gladly name those most active and prominent in these movements but I fear the list would be too large, and if selections were made, where could I stop?
LINCOLN AT THE BALTIMORE FAIR.
have become the scene of violence, tumult, and murder. Three years before, the Massachusetts Sixth, marching in good order quietly through its streets at the call of the Republic, and in obedience to its laws, had been brutally and murderously assailed by a secession mob, instigated by slaveholders. Three years before, and these slaveholders, with all their savage and brutal passions aroused, held a reign of terror in this fair city of refinement, culture, and art. Now, Mr. Lincoln was called to this city to witness the masses of its people, its honest free laborers, with its noblest and best of manhood, its highest in culture and social position, no longer controlled by slaveholders, but with a spirit an generous as patriotic, pouring into the treasury, for the relief of the Union soldiers, their offerings. The success of the Union cause, and the triumph of liberty, were no longer doubtful, and the whole loyal population of the city turned out to welcome and to cheer him as the preserver of the Republic. But cordial as was his reception by the white people, the reception given him by the negroes, more deeply touched his heart. He was their Emancipator. Slavery was practically abolished in Maryland, and was about to be forever prohibited by Constitutional law. These warm-hearted, impulsive children of the South, impressible and enthusiastic, had gathered about the depot in thousands, awaiting his arrival. Old and young, men and women, in all costumes, some bare headed and half clad, children led by mothers, and old grey headed men and women leaning on the arms of sons and daughters, were there to welcome their deliverer. When the cars arrived, and they could see his tall form, his earnest, genial, benevolent face, they cheered, shouted, prayed, wept, with an enthusiasm which none but a crowd of negroes could exhibit. They gathered around him, tried to touch him, to kiss his hands, followed his carriage; exclaiming "God bless you, God bless you, Massa Linkum." A crowd of thousands of these grateful people followed him thus for a mile to his lodgings-all the way filling the air with their cries of gratitude and delight, and proclaiming him their savior and their deliverer. He was deeply affected by these spontaneous demonstrations.
At the fair, the President made a speech peculiarly Lincolnian. He could not but contrast the condition of Baltimore, April, 1864, with what it was in the Spring of 1861. On this subject, he said:
"Calling it to mind that we are in Baltimore, we cannot 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 occurs 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. (Applause.) 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 following quaint and characteristic remarks upon liberty, were received with unbounded applause:
"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. (Applause.) 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, aud 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.)
• McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 280-81.