The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Lincoln, Abraham
LINCOLN, Abraham, 16th President of the United States: b. in a rude farm cabin near Hodgensville, Ky., 12 Feb. 1809; d. Washington, D. C, 15 April 1865. The birthplace is marked by a memorial structure dedicated on his hundredth anniversary. He was the first son and second child of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, both born in Rockingham County, Va., of parents who were among the earliest emigrants to the new country beyond the mountains. They were married in Washington County, 12 June 1806, at the home of Richard Berry, guardian of the bride and husband of Lucy Shipley, her aunt. Thomas was not yet six when his father, Abraham, was killed by lurking Indians while he was at work on his farm. The estate, mostly of wild land, descended by the existing law to his eldest son. No account remains of the widow's subsequent life. Probably she did not long survive the tragedy. Thomas grew up utterly without education and apparently without a definite home. Principally occupied as a farm and forest laborer he acquired some knowledge of the tools and trade of a carpenter. For reasons not uncommon in the lives of families separated by distant migrations the President had little knowledge of his forbears beyond the paternal grandfather. Long after his death it transpired that the first American progenitor was Samuel Lincoln who came from England as a weaver's apprentice in 1637. Two elder brothers had previously settled at Hingham, Mass.; named after the English shire town of County Norwich, their ancestral home. Samuel joined them there after completing his apprenticeship at Salem. Neither of the brothers left issue, the name being perpetuated through Mordecai, son of the young weaver; Mordecai 2d, his grandson; John, a great-grandson who lived for a time in Berks County, Pa., removing to Virginia; Abraham, the Kentucky pioneer; and Thomas, fifth in the order of American birth. The pedigree has been further traced through four generations in England. In both the old home and the new the main and converging lines of heredity gave promise of family distinction should time and occasion propitiously meet. It was mistakenly believed for a time that Thomas and his wife were first cousins. She was the daughter of Joseph Hanks and Nancy Shipley (“Nanny” as named in the husband's will), who was a sister of Lucy Shipley, wife of Richard Berry before mentioned. Another sister, Mary by name, had married Abraham Lincoln the elder, and it was assumed that she was the mother of all his children. In fact, however, Mary Shipley died prior to the Kentucky migration and was succeeded by Bathsheba Herring, daughter of Leonard Herring, a Virginian of English parentage. Thomas was the son and only child of this second marriage and therefore unrelated by blood to Nancy his wife. It is worthy of passing mention that still another of the Shipley sisters was married to Thomas Sparrow and went with him to the Kentucky wilderness. Through the marriage of their daughter with one Charles Friend she became the grandmother of Dennis Friend who somehow came to be known as Dennis “Hanks”; and was no credit to either name. The irresponsible chatter of this waif did much to mislead the biographers both as to the story of Lincoln's youth and the Hanks genealogy. (Consult Lea and Hutchinson, ‘The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln,’ Boston 1909). The first home of Thomas and his wife was at Elizabethtown, Ky., where he pursued his trade as carpenter. Two adventures in farming ensued, the first on the Nolin Creek place where their famous son was born. A second son, also born there, lived but a few weeks. Upon neither farm apparently were payments made sufficient to create a salable interest. In 1817, several related families accompanying them, they moved to Indiana, settling on a wooded tract near Gentryville in Spencer County; so named after the keeper of a cross-roads store. A railroad junction point called Lincoln City occupies a part of the chosen homestead. In October of the following year a mysterious epidemic swept the district, Mrs. Lincoln being one of many victims. During the next 14 months, the daughter, but two years older than Abraham, kept house for the sorrowing family. On 2 Dec. 1819, Thomas took another wife from Kentucky, Sarah Johnston (née Bush), a widow with three children residing at Elizabethtown. Her advent greatly improved the family circumstances, for besides household conveniences such as the children had never known she brought a kind and cheerful nature. Among other benefits conferred she encouraged the boy in studies, which his father regarded as a form of idleness. Less than a year of school attendance is all that fell to his lot, but with this meagre help he learned to read and write and to “cipher to the rule of three.” Luckily there were a few good books within reach, all of which he eagerly read. He remembered well, thought much and diligently exercised the knowledge gained. In other respects he was a boy among boys, loving fun and not enamored of manual toil. He was made to work at home or on the neighboring farms, clerked at odd times in Gentry's store and at the age of 19 accompanied the son of that worthy on a flat-boat trip to New Orleans, trading along the way and returning by river packet. On that memorable venture he first came into conscious contact with slavery, witnessing, it is said, an auction sale of negroes and vowing that if ever the opportunity came to “hit” that system he would “hit it hard.” In the spring of 1830 at the beginning of his majority the family moved to Illinois to settle (temporarily as it proved) near Decatur. After helping to fence and break up part of a prairie farm and to erect a cabin thereon for the family shelter the young man turned to face the world on his own account. Besides the clothing he wore, he had nothing but his well-muscled frame of six and one-third feet in height, a mind matching his great stature in native strength and manners, rude and quaint, to be sure, but springing from a brave and generous soul. After a few weeks of labor with axe and hoe he engaged with John Hanks, one of his mother's tribe, to conduct another flat-boat down the great river. Their employer, Dennis Offut, had failed to provide the boat as promised whereupon the two men proceeded to build one. The delay caused Hanks to abandon the voyage but Lincoln with other help completed it. Offut, a merchant, loosely planted at New Salem, on the Sangamon, near Springfield, formed a liking for the stalwart youth, with the result that Lincoln became a resident of the mushroom village and a helper in the varied and often disastrous enterprises of his new-made friend. Offut soon drifted away but Lincoln remained, serving the small community as a mill-hand, clerk in the village stores, post-master, deputy surveyor and the like, rapidly growing in public esteem. Indian disturbances (the Black Hawk War) called for the creation of a military force. Lincoln volunteered as a private and was elected captain. No fighting occurred in his vicinity and the “war” soon ended. Returning to New Salem he became a candidate for the legislature, failing of election but receiving nearly the entire vote of his precinct. Settled in nothing save the desire for self-improvement, he ventured, with another as poor as himself and wholly on credit, to purchase a failing store. It continued to fail till only the debt remained. This burden, which he whimsically called “the national debt,” fell upon himself alone and was not fully discharged until his pay as Congressman at last provided the means. To business disaster was added the discipline of love and a lover's bereavement. He wooed and won Ann Rutledge, who shortly after the engagement died of a sudden illness. She was one of the Southern family of Rutledges, her father having been caught with the rest in the New Salem eddy along the inflowing stream of settlers. He was so nearly unmanned by this blow that his friends were alarmed, but it passed. By the election of 1834 he was sent to the legislature and was thrice re-elected. Largely through his efforts the State capital was removed from Vandalia to Springfield in his own county. Measuring himself against his fellows, many of them lawyers, he dared to enter the bar. With no help except from borrowed books, he had so far advanced by the autumn of 1836 as to gain admission. On 15 April of the following year he moved to Springfield and engaged in the practice. That day 28 years later, at the summit of national power and fame, an assassin's shot was to lay him low.
In politics the young statesman was of the minority faction. The Democratic party was dominant in both his State and the nation, such opposition as there was holding loosely together under the nondescript name of Whigs; but it gradually strengthened until in 1840 its presidential candidate (Harrison) was elected. In 1838 and again in 1840 Lincoln received the Whig vote for speaker of the assembly. He was also on the Whig electoral ticket in the campaigns of 1840, 1844 and 1852. His one election to Congress occurred in 1846, the term ending at the inauguration of the second Whig President (Taylor) 4 March 1849. He did not seek re-election, his district being governed by a kind of a “gentleman's agreement” that the honor should be passed around. Meanwhile (4 Nov. 1842) he was married to Mary Todd, daughter of Robert S. Todd of Louisville, Ky. She with two of their four sons lived to mourn his untimely death. One of the sons died in early infancy, another in the White House at the age of 12. Mrs. Lincoln was of high social rank, brilliant, cultured and ambitious. She proved a devoted wife and mother, but by reason of a cerebral ailment not generally known her married life was not altogether happy. Her last days (1882) were clouded by a mild insanity, hastened no doubt by the awful tragedy enacted in her presence and by the loss of her young son Thomas (“Tad”), who died 15 July 1871. The political activities referred to of course retarded Mr. Lincoln's progress in the law. Besides the legislative attendances at home and in Washington, there were repeated canvasses of his district and State to be cared for and no end of letters and conferences. As a “case” lawyer, however, his reputation steadily widened. The death of President Harrison almost at the beginning of his term and the early apostacy of Tyler, his successor, left nothing of Federal preferment to the Whig politicians. The advent of Taylor opened the door to a hungry crowd. Lincoln had supported him by speeches in Congress and elsewhere and the new Congressman from the Springfield district was of the opposite party. By current practice, therefore, Lincoln was entitled to a voice touching Federal appointments. The office of land commissioner was accorded to Illinois. After recommending others without success he sought the place for himself. Instead he was offered the governorship of Oregon Territory, a post which seemed to promise early promotion to the Senate. His wife rejected it and thus he was saved for greater things. During the next five years he practised law more assiduously than every before, advancing to high rank among the leaders of the Illinois bar. He appreciated the handicap of a defective education and strove mightily to overcome it. As he had studied grammar and surveying at New Salem he now grappled geometry, in order as he said to master the art of “demonstration.” But political events were soon to reclaim his attention. The controversy over slavery, measurably quieted by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, broke out afresh 30 years later and was again partially suppressed through a series of Congressional acts known as the compromise measures of 1850. Within a short four years the slave-holding South demanded and obtained the overthrow of all legislation which tended to confine or discredit her favorite institution. Stephen A. Douglas, the leading senator from Illinois, was chairman of the Committee on Territories. He had championed the settlement of 1850, and in doing so had proclaimed undying allegiance to the Missouri Compromise whereby “Mason and Dixon's Line” was made the northernmost limit of slavery. Now he had fathered the “Kansas-Nebraska bill,” the act which both in terms and by necessary implication rejected the compromises and denied their legality. His agency in the matter made the storm of protest especially violent in Illinois and Lincoln was thoroughly aroused. Douglas had great ability and towering ambition. He desired and expected to be President, having already contested the nomination of 1852. His advocacy of the repeal was likely, he believed, to ensure undivided support in the South which, with but a fraction of the Northern party strength, would give him the prize. His term in the Senate had yet four years to run but his colleague and friend from Illinois, James Shields, would be re-elected or replaced by the legislature shortly to be chosen. Lincoln entered the contest with vigor, speaking throughout the State and (against his own preference) standing for election to the lower house from Sangamon, his home county. “Anti-Nebraska” won by a slender margin and by general acclaim Lincoln became its candidate. To avoid a legal quibble touching eligibility he resigned his membership, only to see the vacancy filled by a Democrat chosen at a special election. Five of the majority, formerly Democrats, refused to support him, preferring Lyman Trumbull, one of their kind. After many ballots, the choice of a pro-slavery senator being imminent, he persuaded his friends to vote with the stubborn few; a fortunate outcome as it proved, though for the moment sorely disappointing.
Sixteenth President of the United States
The events of 1854-55 thus lightly sketched were accompanied and followed by a bitter struggle for the control of Kansas, first of the new States to seek admittance. Settlers from the North, some of them aided by anti-slavery societies, were met by “border-ruffians” so-called, entering from Missouri. Armed conflicts ensued and “Bleeding Kansas” became an effective war-cry from the free State hustings. The Democratic National Convention (1856) again rejected Douglas, naming James Buchanan, a Pennsylvanian, who was less prominent in the slavery party and therefore less obnoxious to its enemies. The various opposing elements drawing together under the name of Republicans met in mass convention, at Philadelphia and selected John C. Frémont as their standard bearer. Lincoln, though not in attendance and not in the least advised of any such purpose, was accorded 110 votes for the Vice-Presidency, making him the second choice in a field of 13. A third ticket, styled “American,” was headed by Millard Fillmore, who had become President upon the death of Taylor (1850), and greatly desired re-election. Buchanan was elected, carrying every slave State except Maryland. Pennsylvania supported him by a bare majority of the popular vote, and three other free States, including Illinois, went to him, but only because the majority was divided between Frémont and Fillmore. Slavery was continued in official power, but the triumph was big with disaster.
The new administration was wholly subservient. Unscrupulous efforts to force slavery upon unwilling Kansas were favored and seemed likely to succeed. Douglas, whose senatorial term was drawing to a close, could not lose his hold upon Illinois without abandoning all hopes of the Presidency. Making a virtue of necessity, therefore, he resisted the Kansas intrigues, and the State came in with a free constitution. This strategy worked marvelous improvement in his prospects at home. In 1854 when he returned red-handed from the slaughter of compromise he had encountered public obloquy and sullen resentment, resulting as already noted in the choice of a colleague inimical to his party. Now he came as the hero of a knightly rescue; the savior of free Kansas in some eyes, to others a stern defender of justice unshaken by personal risk. Republicans in and out of the State began to advise that his re-election be not opposed, deeming it “good politics” thus to promote schism in the enemy's household. Lincoln moved promptly to steady the Republican phalanx and the danger soon passed. Partly to head off the threatened defection, in part to bind the new legislature by a definite mandate from the people, a convention called for the nomination of State officers named Lincoln for the Senate. He responded (16 June 1858) in a speech which exhibited at their best both his intellectual power and his rare facility of terse and accurate expression. In this, the much-quoted “House-divided” speech, the truth was first made plain that choice must be made, soon or late, between a nation all slave and a nation all free. In declaring his fixed opinion that “either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States,” he was by no means unminded of the personal and party hazards immediately involved; but with habitual thoroughness his mind had gone deep. To his thinking the rock upon which his party must build was the basic antagonism between freedom and bondage, between liberty and tyranny, between right and wrong. Rejecting the warnings of timid advisers to whom the address was submitted in advance he stood by the truth as he saw it. The ensuing campaign, outwardly but a mere struggle for office, drew the lines and marshaled the forces of the impending Civil War. It took the form indeed of mimic battle. A series of joint debates, one in each of the seven Congressional districts, was arranged at Lincoln's instance. Vast audiences came to hear and the speeches stenographically reported were carried far on the wings of the press. The two champions were not unequally matched for the contest. Douglas, of course, had signal advantages in long parliamentary training and national fame. He was fluent, aggressive and courageous even to recklessness, with a quick eye to exposed points of attack. But as compared with Lincoln he was in truth the “little giant,” with emphasis on the first branch of his familiar sobriquet. Lincoln, the taller by eight inches or more, was of corresponding intellectual reach. Less voluble, less gifted in voice and exterior attractiveness, he was more thoughtful, better tempered, surer in his knowledge of the history involved and far above Douglas in the saving quality of humor. His own estimate of the comparative merits of their speeches was expressed late in the following year when he caused both to be reprinted side by side, for campaign purposes, without change and “without any comment whatever.”
The State was carried on the popular vote, but the existing apportionment gave the advantage to Douglas who was returned to the Senate by a majority of five. Commenting upon the outcome Lincoln wrote 19 November, “I am glad I made the late race. It gave me a hearing on the great and enduring question of the age, which I could have had in no other way; and though I now sink out of view, and shall be forgotten, I believe I have made some marks which will tell for the cause of liberty long after I am gone.” But he was not to be lost from sight or memory. The great debate continued on a wider field. He was called to speak in other States and finally (27 Feb. 1860) by a masterly address at Cooper Institute, in New York City, the growing impression of his leadership was greatly extended. But there were few to think of him then as a possible chief magistrate. The national convention was to meet within the next 80 days (16 May 1860) and it was the general belief that Senator William H. Seward of New York would be the Republican nominee. Fully two-thirds of the delegates expected to vote for him. There were, however, elements of weakness in his candidacy. He had echoed the sentiment of Lincoln's house-divided speech, terming the slavery dispute an “irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces,” one of which must eventually triumph, but he had previously declared in a Senate debate that there is a higher law than the Constitution governing the nation's stewardship of the public domain. This had associated him in the public mind with the extreme abolitionists by whom the constitution was openly flouted. Some of the Northern States which Frémont had failed to carry were necessary to Republican success. Three of them, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois, were to elect State officers in October. Republican leaders, in the last two especially, were convinced that Seward's nomination would alienate many voters otherwise friendly. Their firm opposition coupled with the purely personal hostility of Horace Greeley, whose newspaper, the New York Tribune, was widely read by Republicans, led to caution and delay. There was the usual array of “favorite sons” to receive perfunctory support on the opening ballot, but it was soon apparent that if Seward were set aside Lincoln would be the choice. The nomination was dictated by considerations of availability. Lincoln could carry Illinois — had done so but two years before. Indiana probably would favor him also. Pennsylvania, pledged to Simon Cameron, was indifferent toward Seward. In the midst of excitement prudence worked powerfully. Seward received but 173½ votes at first, 40½ fewer than the required majority. Lincoln had 102. The leader gained 11 votes on the second ballot as against a gain of 79 for his rival. The third resulted in a majority for Lincoln, and after a painful delay the nomination on motion of New York was made unanimous.
The Democratic convention had met at Charleston, S. C., in the preceding month (23 April 1860) hopelessly divided. Douglas held a decided preponderance over all opponents but not a two-thirds majority as required by the party usage. He had offended the South beyond forgiveness by his course in the debates with Lincoln hardly less than by his contumacy on the Kansas issue. The North refused to yield and the convention split into two angry factions without nomination by either. Eventually two Democratic candidates were presented, Douglas being named by the Northern wing and John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky by the Southern minority. A fourth ticket, headed by John Bell of Tennessee, appealed to the neutral element and proved stronger than was expected; it prevailed in three of the slave-holding States whose electoral votes aggregated 39. While division in the dominant party lent encouragement and vigor to the Republican campaign it can hardly be doubted that the pro-slavery element would have failed in any event. Lincoln received 180 electoral votes, all from the North, and Breckenridge 72, all from the South. Douglas carried Missouri only, but through a fusion agreement obtained three electoral votes from New Jersey, a total of 15. The popular vote, however, varied remarkably, that of Breckenridge being but a trifle more than that accorded to Bell. Douglas outstripped the former by more than half a million and fell behind Lincoln by a slightly lower number. The combined opposition polled nearly a million more votes than were cast for the candidate whose majority in the electoral college was 57 over all. Lincoln never forgot that he was a minority President, nor that his nomination had come from a convention “which was two-thirds for the other fellow.” To his analytical mind these circumstances evinced a confused state of public feeling and opinion calling for caution no less than firmness in the execution of his official trust.
The interval between the election and inauguration day (4 March 1861) was utilized by the southernmost States in perfecting measures of secession. Though it was well known that the incoming administration intended no interference with slavery where it already existed, its protagonists were stung to the quick by the decision of the country to confine the system to a limited area, and that upon the avowed ground that it was both politically and morally a wrong. Such a decision they regarded as insulting, but more than that, they perceived that it placed their cherished institution, as Lincoln had phrased it, “in the course of ultimate extinction.” Their resentment and their fears led to speedy action. Pretexts for dissolving the Union were not wanting; the thought was not new. Buchanan, confused and terrified by the situation, interposed no obstacles. In his message to the new Congress (3 Dec. 1860) he easily demonstrated the utter illegality of all attempts to secede, but with astonishing want of logic maintained that the Federal government possessed no lawful right to resist secession. In a word, that a nation ordained to be perpetual could not defend its perpetuity without breaking the law of its being. The result was that when the President-elect arose to repeat the inaugural oath, with its specific obligations to protect and defend the national Constitution and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, the forms of secession were already accomplished and a new nation, “all slave,” was asserting its separate existence.
The inaugural address, as tactfully as the case would admit, but without the slightest hint of uncertainty, declared that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union was unbroken; that all resolves and ordinances of attempted secession were legally void; and that so far as the means were provided the President would execute the laws in all the States alike. The rest was a calm review of the grounds of dissension and a moving appeal to the minds and hearts of all lovers of the Union for a peaceable settlement and a resumption of healing friendships. The address made no impression in the South except as its moderation was construed as a sign of weakness. The North indeed failed to grasp its real significance. As a declaration of policy it never stood in need of revision or enlargement. Doctrine, duty, purpose and method are all clearly defined; only the wisdom, perseverance, resourcefulness and will of the speaker were as yet unknown. With sagacity which seemed to border on rashness he summoned to his Cabinet the four principal leaders who had contested his nomination, Seward, Chase, Bates and Cameron. At least two of these deemed themselves vastly superior to their chief in all the qualities of statesmanship. Their great abilities served the country well, but the President's mastery was not long in doubt. Carefully avoiding acts of aggression, and with equal care declining to recognize by word or deed the claims of the so-called Confederate government, he waited for the crystallization of Union sentiment. It came with the assault upon Fort Sumter and its enforced surrender, 14 April 1861. The following day he proclaimed a state of insurrection, called forth the militia to the number of 75,000 and summoned Congress to assemble on the ensuing 4th of July. Four days later a blockade of some of the Southern ports was announced. Other measures of defense were taken, including calls for volunteers to re-enforce the regular army and navy, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in disaffected quarters, extension of the blockade, and the like, all in harmony with the declared purpose to protect the Union and execute its laws.
Pending the meeting of Congress loyal sentiment gradually strengthened. In a message of great power the case for the government was explained and enforced. All suggested legislation was promptly enacted. The South, more firmly united and not less determined, plunged into a military struggle and four years of bloody warfare ensued. The story of battles and campaigns must here be omitted; neither can the civil history of that troubled period be narrated except in barest outline. There were many in the loyal States whose resentment of Southern domination led them to favor separation as a fortunate riddance. Others accepted the extreme view of State rights, including the right of secession. Many shrank from civil war and would consent to disunion rather than fight. The abolitionists would make the war a means of destroying slavery forthwith, while the President and a vast majority of his party were committed to the doctrine that abolition could not lawfully be enforced. These must unite, if at all, upon the single purpose of saving the Union. The avowal of any other aim within the first year inevitably would have wrecked the national cause. Lincoln almost alone perceived that the one unifying appeal must be kept in the foreground, and with undying patience, disregarding ridicule, distrust and obloquy, he restrained rashness, encouraged the timid, reassured the doubtful, persuaded the hostile. At bottom his title to enduring fame rests upon his unerring comprehension of the great task before him and his matchless skill in putting into timely and convincing words the fundamental truths to which the minds of honest men at last must yield. Slavery which had invoked the sword perished by the sword. Emancipation came (1 Jan. 1863) not of set purpose but as a by-product of national self-preservation. Neither side expected it. “Each,” as stated in the second inaugural, “looked for . . . a result less fundamental and astounding.” But Lincoln's credit for the event is no less because he waited for an occasion to strike lawfully and with assured effect. It must have given him intense satisfaction. “I am naturally anti-slavery,” he wrote to A. C. Hodges, 4 April 1864. “If slavery is not wrong nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel. Yet I have never understood that the presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.” Emancipation, when it came, was purely a military expedient, a blow at the economic resources of a public enemy. “I felt,” he stated in the same letter, “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 that 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 the government, country and Constitution all together.” He had prepared well for the finishing stroke by proposing and urging a settlement on the basis of compensated emancipation. Logically, enemy property, especially that which the owner refused to sell, might be seized for military purposes. But only such as could be captured fell within that rule, hence a doubt as to the legal effect of a mere announcement of freedom to slaves not within military reach. This doubt was practically solved by the President's emphatic declaration that he would never retract or modify the edict of emancipation nor return to slavery any person freed by its terms. This was repeated in his last annual message (6 Dec. 1864), this final assurance being added: “If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it an executive duty to re-enslave such persons another and not I must be their instrument to perform it.” Negro regiments helped to extend the military lines which ultimately carried the reality no less than the promise of freedom to every slave. The 13th amendment to the Constitution was but the formal recognition of a fact already accomplished.
A marked example of both the sagacity and the magnanimity of the President is found in his selection of Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War upon the early retirement of Cameron. This imperious but intensely loyal man had treated Lincoln with marked discourtesy both before and after the latter came to the Presidency. But Lincoln comprehended both the strength and the weakness of his waspish critic. Disregarding the personal affronts he placed Stanton in a position of almost despotic power, and reaped for himself and the country a harvest of incomparable service. In the same spirit he made Salmon P. Chase chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, after that great minister of finance had retired from his Cabinet a disappointed aspirant for the presidential succession. General McClellan, while in command of the Potomac army, displayed toward his great superior a very unfortunate attitude. Remonstrances against submission to such treatment called forth no response but this: “I would hold McClellan's horse if that would bring us victories.” Chief among his many disappointments was the failure, one after another, of his chief military appointees. The field of choice was limited, of course, to those educated for the army and not openly disloyal. Only experience could determine who of these were fit to command. He would not condemn any in haste. Some were retained perhaps too long because better were as yet unknown. Repeated disasters at last sent incompetents to the rear and possibilities of victory began to emerge. High hopes inspired by the fall of Vicksburg (4 July 1863) and the concurrent defeat of Lee at Gettysburg suffered painful relapses. The following spring (9 March 1864) General Grant, whose successful career in the West had won the country's confidence, was placed in supreme control. Thence onward unity of plan and movement took the place of divided efforts. Meanwhile, very largely under the President's personal direction, the dangers of foreign intervention were met and averted. But as the season for nominations and elections approached conditions were extremely depressing. Immense losses attended the grapple with Lee's army in the Wilderness of Virginia. In Georgia the forces under Johnston were eluding the efforts of General Sherman to bring them to bay. Financial difficulties accumulated; discontent spread among powerful leaders in Congress and elsewhere. Lincoln naturally desired re-election, both on his own account and for the national cause, but the clamor of the few and the slow progress of events in the field led him at times to forbode defeat both in convention and at the polls. The convention met at Baltimore, 7 June 1864. His renomination, never in doubt, was made unanimous upon the first ballot. For reasons of expediency, a Vice-President was named from the South, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee succeeding Hannibal Hamlin of Maine. Opposition on the part of radicals did not cease immediately. They had previously (31 May 1864) held a mass convention which assumed to name Frémont as a Republican candidate, but no manifestation of popular support was evoked and its ticket was later withdrawn. The Democratic convention (29 Aug. 1864) nominated Gen. George B. McClellan, who despite his repeated failures as a general had retained a singular hold upon popular favor. His failures indeed had enhanced his popularity, owing to strenuous claims that the administration had thwarted his military plans in order to disgrace him. No more dangerous candidate could have been chosen as matters then stood, but the convention platform was a marvel of political unwisdom. It recited as an historical fact that the war so long waged for the Union had been a “failure,” and demanded the immediate cessation of hostilities that peace might be obtained through a convention of the States. Opportune victories, however, put an end to the charges of failure. The capture of Atlanta (2 Sept. 1864) and Sheridan's whirlwind progress through the Shenandoah Valley were campaign arguments of compelling force. McClellan carried but three States, New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky, casting 21 electoral votes. Lincoln received all the rest, 212 in number, and a popular majority of nearly 500,000.
Opposition in the North practically ceased with this overwhelming vote of confidence. There were murmurs of discontent over the President's evident inclination to deal leniently with the misguided South, but these came from would-be leaders rather than the masses. The Confederacy speedily fell apart. By his patience and sagacity, by his steadfast resolve and his faith in the integrity and capacity of the people, by his ready sympathy with the common sufferings and his eagerness to receive and to grant petitions for help and for mercy he had acquired and at last enjoyed an influence far greater than the mere authority of his office. Constantly assailed by ignorance and malice he had so administered his great trust as to make reunion comparatively easy. Hardly a word of denunciation fell from his lips or pen throughout those trying years. “I shall do nothing in malice,” he wrote. “What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.” His almost unbounded charity was based upon a profound study of the feelings and motives of men. He ruled by a right more Divine than any right of kings.
The principal army of the Confederacy surrendered to General Grant 9 April 1865. It was confidently expected that further resistance would shortly cease. In the elation of the moment it was resolved to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the fall of Fort Sumter by a harmless bit of ceremony, signalizing upon the same spot the restoration of the national authority throughout the land. Accordingly at noon of that day the identical flag which Major Anderson had been forced to haul down as the first definite concession to armed insurgency was by the same hand again unfurled above the crumbling fortress. That evening, the mission of the great President being in substance performed, his martyrdom was also accomplished. He had sought relaxation by witnessing a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington. There he was shot by a crazed secession zealot, J. Wilkes Booth by name, stealthily approaching from the rear. He fell unconscious in the arms of his wife and died at about seven of the following morning. The tragedy proved but a part of an infamous plot to slay several leading officials of the government. Secretary Seward, at about the same hour, was dangerously stabbed by one of the conspirators while lying sick at his home. Other intended victims escaped through miscarriages in the concerted scheme. Booth, leaping from the President's box to the stage below, sustained a fracture of the leg, but with the aid of confederates escaped across the Potomac. He was soon discovered in hiding and was fatally shot while resisting arrest. Four of the remaining conspirators, including a widow named Mary Surratt, were convicted by a military court and hanged (7 July 1865). Four others were sentenced to prison. Naturally the Confederate government was suspected of direct complicity in the crime. The suspicion was unfounded, but the mingled grief and rage of the people brought upon the South distressing consequences. Harsh measures of reconstruction were adopted, such as Lincoln surely would have disapproved and by his great influence might have averted. Friend and foe suffered in a common calamity.
Bibliography. — ‘Writings and Speeches; Lincoln's Complete Works,’ edited by his secretaries, J. G. Nicolay and John Hay (2 vols., New York 1894; same extended to 12 vols., id. 1905); ‘The Writings of Lincoln,’ Federal Edition, ed. by A. B. Lapsley (8 vols., New York 1906); ‘Life and Works,’ ed. by M. M. Mills (8 vols., New York 1907; same in 4 and 6 vols., respectively, ed. by Mills and J. H. Clifford, id. 1907-08); ‘Uncollected Letters,’ ed. by G. A. Tracy (1 vol., Boston 1917); ‘Political Debates’ (Columbus, Ohio, 1860); same, Cleveland 1894; same, ed. by A. T. Jones, Battle Creek, Mich., 1895; reprinted, Chicago 1900; same, ed. by E. E. Sparks, Springfield, Ill., 1908; same, with introduction by G. H. Putnam (New York and London 1912).
Biographies: Scripps, J. L. (New York and Chicago 1860; reprinted, Detroit 1900); Howard, J. K. (Columbus 1860); Howells, W. D., ‘Life and Speeches’ (id. 1860); Barrett, J. H. (Cincinnati 1860; enlarged, id. 1864 and 1865); ‘Lincoln and His Presidency’ (2 vols., id. 1904); Raymond, H. J., ‘Life’ (New York 1864); ‘History and Administration’ (id. 1864); ‘Life and Services’ (id. 1865); Holland, J. G, ‘Life’ (Springfield, Mass., 1867); Lamon, W. H., ‘Life to Inauguration’ (Boston 1872); Arnold, I. N., ‘Life’ (Chicago 1885; 5th ed., 1891); Nicolay and Hay, ‘Abraham Lincoln, a History’ (10 vols., New York 1890); Nicolay, J. G., ‘A Short Life’ (id. 1902); Nicolay, Helen, ‘The Boy's Life of Lincoln’ (New York 1906); ‘Personal Traits’ (id. 1906); Browne, F. F., ‘The Every-day Life’ (New York and Saint Louis 1887; curtailed ed. in 2 vols., Chicago 1913); Stoddard, W. O., ‘The True Story of a Great Life’ (New York 1884; revised ed., id. 1896); Herndon, W. H., and Weik, J. W., ‘Herndon's Lincoln’ (3 vols., Chicago 1890; 2 vols., New York 1892); Morse, J. T. (2 vols., Boston 1893; revised ed., id. 1899 and 1909); Hapgood, Norman, ‘Abraham Lincoln the Man of the People’ (New York 1899); Tarbell, Ida M., ‘Life’ (2 vols., New York 1900); Curtis, W. E., ‘The True Abraham Lincoln’ (Philadelphia 1903); Binns, H. B. (London and New York 1907); Morgan, James, ‘The Boy and the Man’ (New York 1908); Lord Charnwood, ‘Abraham Lincoln’ (New York 1916). More than 150 extended biographies exist, representing nearly every printed language.
Personal Reminiscences: Carpenter, F. B., ‘Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln: The Story of a Picture’ (Boston 1866; republished as ‘The Inner Life,’ etc.); Oldroyd, O. H., ‘The Lincoln Memorial,’ etc. (New York 1882); Rice, A. T, ‘Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time’ (New York 1886; rev. ed., id. 1909); Ward, W. H., ‘Abraham Lincoln, Tributes from His Associates,’ etc. (New York 1895); Chittenden, L. E., ‘Recollections of President Lincoln and His Administration’ (New York 1891); Whitney, H. C., ‘Life on the Circuit with Lincoln’ (Boston 1892); Dana, C. A., ‘Recollections of the Civil War with the Leaders at Washington and in the Field in the Sixties’ (New York 1898); Gilmore, James A., ‘Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War’ (Boston 1898); Schurz, Carl, ‘The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz’ (3 vols., New York 1908); Phillips, I. N., ‘Abraham Lincoln. By some Men who Knew Him’ (Bloomington, Ill., 1910); Welles, Gideon, ‘Diary’ (3 vols., Boston 1911); Thayer, W. R., ‘The Life and Letters of John Hay’ (2 vols., Boston 1911); Chapman, Ervin, ‘Latest Light on Abraham Lincoln and War-time Memories’ (New York 1917).
Sermons and Eulogies: Simpson, Matthew, “Funeral Address delivered at the Burial of President Lincoln at Springfield, 4 May 1865” (New York 1865); Beecher, H. W., “Oration on Raising the Old Flag at Sumter and Sermon on the Death of Abraham Lincoln” (Manchester, England, 1865); Brooks, Phillips, “The Life and Death of Abraham Lincoln. A sermon preached 26 April 1865” (Philadelphia 1865); Dudley, John L., “Discourse preached 16 April 1865 at Middletown, Conn.” (Middletown 1865); “Sermons preached in Boston on the Death of Abraham Lincoln. Together with funeral services in the executive mansion at Washington” (Boston 1865); “Our Martyr President. Voices from the Pulpit of New York and Brooklyn” (New York 1865); Sumner, Charles, “The Promises of the Declaration. Eulogy on Abraham Lincoln delivered before the Municipal Authorities of Boston, 1 June 1865” (Boston 1865); Bancroft, George, “Memorial Address . . . delivered before the Congress, 12 Feb. 1866” (Washington 1866); Stoddard, R. H., “Abraham Lincoln. An Horatian Ode” (New York 1865); Douglas, Fred, “Oration on the Unveiling of the Freedmen's Monument in Memory of Lincoln” (Washington (1876); Arnold, I. N., “Abraham Lincoln: A paper read before the Royal Historical Society, London, 16 June 1881” (Chicago 1883); Watterson, Henry, “Abraham Lincoln. An Oration, 12 Feb. 1895”; (Chicago 1900); Choate, J. H., “Abraham Lincoln. Address delivered before Edinburgh Philosophical Society, 13 Nov. 1900” (London 1900; New York 1901); Ingersoll, Robert, “Abraham Lincoln. A Lecture” (New York 1895; 1907); Reid, Whitelaw, “Address at University of Birmingham” (London 1910); addresses before Republican Club, city of New York, “Abraham Lincoln, 1887-1909” (New York 1909); “Abraham Lincoln. The Tribute of a Century; principal Addresses of the Centennial Year,” ed. by W. McChesney (Chicago 1910).
Topical Studies: Schurz, Carl, ‘An Essay’ (Boston 1891; republished 1909); Welles, Gideon, ‘Lincoln and Seward’ (New York 1874); Kelly, W. D., ‘Lincoln and Stanton’ (New York 1885); Coggeshall, W. T., ‘The Journeys of Abraham Lincoln: From Springfield to Washington . . . and from Washington to Springfield’ (Columbus, Ohio, 1865); Collis, H. T., and Ingersoll, Robert, ‘The Religion of Abraham Lincoln’ (New York 1900); Maynard, Mrs. W. C, ‘Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist?’ (Philadelphia 1891); Remsburg, J. E., ‘Abraham Lincoln; Was he a Christian?’ (Philadelphia 1893); Jackson, S. T., ‘Lincoln's Use of the Bible’ (Philadelphia 1909); Johnson, W. J., ‘Abraham Lincoln the Christian’ (Philadelphia 1913); Peters, M. C., ‘Abraham Lincoln's Religion’ (New York 1909); Wettstein, C. T., ‘Was Abraham Lincoln an Infidel?’ (New York 1910); Lowell, J. R., ‘The President's Policy’ (Boston 1864, 1871 and 1888); Hart, A. B., ‘Slavery and Abolition’ (New York 1906); Creelman, James, ‘Why We Love Lincoln’ (New York 1903); Hill, F. T., ‘Lincoln the Lawyer’ (New York 1906); Richards, J. T., ‘Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer-Statesman’ (Boston 1916); Rothschild, A., ‘Lincoln Master of Men’ (Boston 1906); ‘Honest Abe’ (id. 1917); Norton, E., ‘Abraham Lincoln, a Son of Mankind’ (New York 1911); Pillsbury, A. E., ‘Lincoln and Slavery’ (Boston 1913); McCarthy, C. H., ‘Lincoln's Plan of Reconstruction’ (New York 1901); Learned, M. D., ‘Abraham Lincoln: an American Migration’ (Philadelphia 1909); Lincoln, S., ‘Notes on the Lincoln Families of Massachusetts, etc.’ (Boston 1865); Lea and Hutchinson, ‘The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln’ (Boston 1900); Jenkins, H. M., ‘The Mother of Lincoln’ (Philadelphia 1900); Hitchcock, Caroline H., ‘Nancy Hanks’ (New York 1899); De Witt, D. M., ‘The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Its Expiation’ (New York 1909); Oldroyd, O. H., ‘The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln’ (Washington 1906); Pitman, Benn, ‘The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators’ (Cincinnati 1865); Surratt, John H., ‘Trial of in the Criminal Court of the District of Columbia’ (Washington 1867); Dodge, D. K, ‘Abraham Lincoln, the Evolution of His Literary Style’ (Urbana, Ill., 1900); Gilder, R. W., ‘Lincoln the Leader and Lincoln's Genius for Expression’ (Boston 1909); Garret and Hadley, ‘The Civil War from a Southern Standpoint’ (Philadelphia 1905); Hosmer, J. K., ‘The Appeal to Arms and Outcome of the Civil War’ (New York 1907); Rhodes, James F., ‘History of the United States’ (7 vols., New York 1912).