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WHAT THE NEW PRESIDENT HAD TO FACE.
When Abraham Lincoln had been elected President of the United States he was still the same kindly man and had the same care for the pleasure of others as when in the old days he used to ride the circuit and in the evenings instead of enjoying himself at the inns with the other lawyers, would often walk far to visit some old friend of his humbler days. Once when urged not to go, as he would have to walk several miles, he answered: "Why, aunt's heart would be broken if I should leave town without calling upon her."
Now, so many people from all parts were constantly coming to call upon the President-elect that he could not receive them all in his own home and a large room in the State House was set apart for him to receive his guests. But there was no ceremony; there were no ushers to present them, or even servants to attend the
door; whoever wished to do so opened the door and walked in, and he received a kind greeting and probably carried away with him some word that he would remember.
But these were very busy days with Mr. Lincoln. Many of his friends seemed to feel that because they were his friends he should give them an office; and although when they were well suited to the place desired, he sometimes did this, he was far from making a rule; he said that public offices were not to be distributed as a reward of private friendship. He had the idea of civil service reform long before it was spoken of in the country and when it was the custom of every administration to turn out of office all those whom the former administration had appointed and to put in its own men as personal friends, or to reward political services, or to give the office-holders an opportunity to work for that party. The famous motto: "To the victors belong the spoils," refers to this custom, and the "spoils of office" mean the same thing.
In the selection of his cabinet, that is, the heads of the departments of state, army and navy, and the other departments most closely connected with the President and constantly meeting and advising with him, Lincoln showed the same spirit; he called around him, not his
personal friends, but men of influence from different parts of the country who represented the feeling of their section and who were skilful in the duties required of them. William H. Seward whom he had defeated as Presidential nominee in the Chicago convention, he invited to be secretary of state, and Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, a skilful financier, to be secretary of the treasury. It needed such a man, for the Republicans when they came into office found the public treasury empty. Lincoln was So anxious to be fair to all the people and give the South a representation also, that at one time he would have invited Mr. Stephens of Georgia into his cabinet; but he was afraid that Georgia would secede and take him with her; and this is what happened; for Mr. Stephens became Vicepresident of the new Confederacy.
Mr. Lincoln decided to leave Springfield in season to visit a few of the large cities and meet the people there on his way to his inauguration. On the morning of the eleventh of February, 1861, he and his party left Springfield. It was a cold, rainy morning. Long before the hour for starting a great crowd of his fellow-citizens had collected at the station. A few minutes before the hour Mr. Lincoln passed through the crowd shaking hands with as many as possible, and stepped upon the rear platform
of his train. "Here," says Mr. Lamon, "facing about to the throng which had closed around him, he drew himself up to his full height, removed his hat, and stood for several seconds in profound silence. His eye roved sadly over that sea of upturned faces; and he thought he read in them again the sympathy and friendship which he had often tried, and which he never needed more than he did then. There was an unusual quiver in his lip, and a still more unusual tear on his shrivelled cheek. His solemn manner, his long silence, were as full of melancholy eloquence as any words he could have uttered. . . . Imitating his example, every man in the crowd stood with his head uncovered in the fast-falling rain.
"'Friends,'" he said at last, "'no one who has never been placed in a like position can understand my feelings at this hour, nor the oppressive sadness I feel at this parting. For more than a quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands. Here I have lived from my youth, until now I am an old man. Here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed. Here all my children were born; and here one of them lies buried. To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am. All the strange, checkered past
seems to crowd now upon my mind. To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great God who assisted him, shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same omniscient Mind and almighty Arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail-I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him I commend you all. Permit me to ask, that, with equal security and faith, you will invoke His wisdom and guidance for me. With these few words I must leave you; for how long I know not. Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate farewell.'"'
Did any warning come to him as he stood there that never again would he look into these well-known faces? Was any hint given to him at the moment that when next he came to Springfield he would be borne there as the martyred President and that these same faces would gaze upon him with sadness and tears?
Mr. Lincoln had great public receptions at Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburg, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany, New York City and Philadelphia. Then there were stops at places on the route where Lincoln showed himself and spoke to the people. At one of these he said: