Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories

This was the turning point in the convention toward Mr. Lincoln's
nomination. The second ballot resulted: Seward, one hundred and
eighty-four and one-half; Lincoln, one hundred and eighty-one. On
the third ballot, Mr. Lincoln received two hundred and thirty
votes. One and one-half votes more would nominate him. Before the
ballot was announced, Ohio made a change of four votes in favor
of Mr. Lincoln, making him the nominee for President.

Other states tried to follow Ohio's example, but it was a long
time before any of the delegates could make themselves heard.
Cannons planted on top of the wigwam were roaring and booming;
the large crowd in the wigwam and the immense throng outside were
cheering at the top of their lungs, while bands were playing
victorious airs.

When order had been restored, it was announced that on the third
ballot Abraham Lincoln of Illinois had received three hundred and
fifty-four votes and was nominated by the Republican party to the
office of President of the United States.

Mr. Lincoln heard the news of his nomination while sitting in a
newspaper office in Springfield, and hurried home to tell his

As Mr. Lincoln had predicted, Judge Douglas' position on slavery
in the territories lost him the support of the South, and when
the Democratic convention met at Charleston, the slave-holding
states forced the nomination of John C. Breckinridge. A
considerable number of people who did not agree with either party
nominated John Bell of Tennessee.

In the election which followed, Mr. Lincoln carried all of the
free states, except New Jersey, which was divided between himself
and Douglas; Breckinridge carried all the slave states, except
Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, which went for Bell, and
Missouri gave its vote to Douglas.

The election was scarcely over before it was evident that the
Southern States did not intend to abide by the result, and that a
conspiracy was on foot to divide the Union. Before the
Presidential election even, the Secretary of War in President
Buchanan's Cabinet had removed one hundred and fifty thousand
muskets from Government armories in the North and sent them to
Government armories in the South.

Before Mr. Lincoln had prepared his inaugural address, South
Carolina, which took the lead in the secession movement, had
declared through her Legislature her separation from the Union.
Before Mr. Lincoln took his seat, other Southern States had
followed the example of South Carolina, and a convention had been
held at Montgomery, Alabama, which had elected Jefferson Davis
President of the new Confederacy, and Alexander H. Stevens, of
Georgia, Vice-President.

Southern men in the Cabinet, Senate and House had resigned their
seats and gone home, and Southern States were demanding that
Southern forts and Government property in their section should be
turned over to them.

Between his election and inauguration, Mr. Lincoln remained
silent, reserving his opinions and a declaration of his policy
for his inaugural address.

Before Mr. Lincoln's departure from Springfield for Washington,
threats had been freely made that he would never reach the
capital alive, and, in fact, a conspiracy was then on foot to
take his life in the city of Baltimore.

Mr. Lincoln left Springfield on February 11th, in company with
his wife and three sons, his brother-in-law, Dr. W. S. Wallace;
David Davis, Norman B. Judd, Elmer E. Elsworth, Ward H. Lamon,
Colonel E. V. Sunder of the United States Army, and the
President's two secretaries.

Early in February, before leaving for Washington, Mr. Lincoln
slipped away from Springfield and paid a visit to his aged
step-mother in Coles county. He also paid a visit to the unmarked
grave of his father and ordered a suitable stone to mark the

Before leaving Springfield, he made an address to his
fellow-townsmen, in which he displayed sincere sorrow at parting
from them.

"Friends," he said, "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 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
sincerity and faith you will invoke His wisdom and guidance for
me. With these words I must leave you, for how long I know not.
Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate

The journey from Springfield to Philadelphia was a continuous
ovation for Mr. Lincoln. Crowds assembled to meet him at the
various places along the way, and he made them short speeches,
full of humor and good feeling. At Harrisburg, Pa., the party was
met by Allan Pinkerton, who knew of the plot in Baltimore to take
the life of Mr. Lincoln.

Throughout his entire life, Abraham Lincoln's physical courage
was as great and superb as his moral courage. When Mr. Pinkerton
and Mr. Judd urged the President-elect to leave for Washington
that night, he positively refused to do it. He said he had made
an engagement to assist at a flag raising in the forenoon of the
next day and to show himself to the people of Harrisburg in the
afternoon, and that he intended to keep both engagements.

At Philadelphia the Presidential party was met by Mr. Seward's
son, Frederick, who had been sent to warn Mr. Lincoln of the plot
against his life. Mr. Judd, Mr. Pinkerton and Mr. Lamon figured
out a plan to take Mr. Lincoln through Baltimore between midnight
and daybreak, when the would-be assassins would not be expecting
him, and this plan was carried out so thoroughly that even the
conductor on the train did not know the President-elect was on

Mr. Lincoln was put into his berth and the curtains drawn. He was
supposed to be a sick man. When the conductor came around, Mr.
Pinkerton handed him the "sick man's" ticket and he passed on
without question.

When the train reached Baltimore, at half-past three o'clock in
the morning, it was met by one of Mr. Pinkerton's detectives, who
reported that everything was "all right," and in a short time the
party was speeding on to the national capital, where rooms had
been engaged for Mr. Lincoln and his guard at Willard's Hotel.

Mr. Lincoln always regretted this "secret passage" to Washington,
for it was repugnant to a man of his high courage. He had agreed
to the plan simply because all of his friends urged it as the
best thing to do.

Now that all the facts are known, it is assured that his friends
were right, and that there never was a moment from the day he
crossed the Maryland line until his assassination that his life
was not in danger, and was only saved as long as it was by the
constant vigilance of those who were guarding him.

The wonderful eloquence of Abraham Lincoln--clear, sincere,
natural--found grand expression in his first inaugural address,
in which he not only outlined his policy toward the States in
rebellion, but made that beautiful and eloquent plea for
conciliation. The closing sentences of Mr. Lincoln's first
inaugural address deservedly take rank with his Gettysburg speech

"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen," he said, "and
not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government
will not assail you.

"You can have no conflict without being yourselves the
aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the
Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve,
protect and defend' it.

"I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must
not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not
break our bonds of affection.

"The mystic cord of memory, stretching from every battle-field
and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over
this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when
again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of
our nature."

In selecting his Cabinet, Mr. Lincoln, consciously or
unconsciously, followed a precedent established by Washington, of
selecting men of almost opposite opinions. His Cabinet was
composed of William H. Seward of New York, Secretary of State;
Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron
of Pennsylvania, Secretary of War; Gideon E. Welles of
Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Caleb B. Smith of Indiana,
Secretary of the Interior; Montgomery Blair of Maryland,
Postmaster-General; Edward Bates of Missouri, Attorney-General.

Mr. Chase, although an anti-slavery leader, was a States-Rights
Federal Republican, while Mr. Seward was a Whig, without having
connected himself with the anti-slavery movement.

Mr. Chase and Mr. Seward, the leading men of Mr. Lincoln's
Cabinet, were as widely apart and antagonistic in their views as
were Jefferson, the Democrat, and Hamilton, the Federalist, the
two leaders in Washington's Cabinet. But in bringing together
these two strong men as his chief advisers, both of whom had been
rival candidates for the Presidency, Mr. Lincoln gave another
example of his own greatness and self-reliance, and put them both
in a position to render greater service to the Government than
they could have done, probably, as President.

Mr. Lincoln had been in office little more than five weeks when
the War of the Rebellion began by the firing on Fort Sumter.

The War of the Rebellion revealed to the people--in fact, to the
whole world--the many sides of Abraham Lincoln's character. It
showed him as a real ruler of men--not a ruler by the mere power
of might, but by the power of a great brain. In his Cabinet were
the ablest men in the country, yet they all knew that Lincoln was
abler than any of them.

Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, was a man famed in
statesmanship and diplomacy. During the early stages of the Civil
War, when France and England were seeking an excuse to interfere
and help the Southern Confederacy, Mr. Seward wrote a letter to
our minister in London, Charles Francis Adams, instructing him
concerning the attitude of the Federal government on the question
of interference, which would undoubtedly have brought about a war
with England if Abraham Lincoln had not corrected and amended the
letter. He did this, too, without yielding a point or sacrificing
in any way his own dignity or that of the country.

Throughout the four years of war, Mr. Lincoln spent a great deal
of time in the War Department, receiving news from the front and
conferring with Secretary of War Stanton concerning military

Mr. Lincoln's War Secretary, Edwin M. Stanton, who had succeeded
Simon Cameron, was a man of wonderful personality and iron will.
It is generally conceded that no other man could have managed the
great War Secretary so well as Lincoln. Stanton had his way in
most matters, but when there was an important difference of
opinion he always found Lincoln was the master.

Although Mr. Lincoln's communications to the generals in the
field were oftener in the nature of suggestions than positive
orders, every military leader recognized Mr. Lincoln's ability in
military operations. In the early stages of the war, Mr. Lincoln
followed closely every plan and movement of McClellan, and the
correspondence between them proves Mr. Lincoln to have been far
the abler general of the two. He kept close watch of Burnside,
too, and when he gave the command of the Army of the Potomac to
"Fighting Joe" Hooker he also gave that general some fatherly
counsel and advice which was of great benefit to him as a

It was not until General Grant had been made Commander-in-Chief
that President Lincoln felt he had at last found a general who
did not need much advice. He was the first to recognize that
Grant was a great military leader, and when he once felt sure of
this fact nothing could shake his confidence in that general.
Delegation after delegation called at the White House and asked
for Grant's removal from the head of the army. They accused him
of being a butcher, a drunkard, a man without sense or feeling.

President Lincoln listened to all of these attacks, but he always
had an apt answer to silence Grant's enemies. Grant was doing
what Lincoln wanted done from the first--he was fighting and
winning victories, and victories are the only things that count
in war.

The crowning act of Lincoln's career as President was the
emancipation of the slaves. All of his life he had believed in
gradual emancipation, but all of his plans contemplated payment
to the slaveholders. While he had always been opposed to slavery,
he did not take any steps to use it as a war measure until about
the middle of 1862. His chief object was to preserve the Union.

He wrote to Horace Greeley that if he could save the Union
without freeing any of the slaves he would do it; that if he
could save it by freeing some and leaving the others in slavery
he would do that; that if it became necessary to free all the
slaves in order to save the Union he would take that course.

The anti-slavery men were continually urging Mr. Lincoln to set
the slaves free, but he paid no attention to their petitions and
demands until he felt that emancipation would help him to
preserve the Union of the States.

The outlook for the Union cause grew darker and darker in 1862,
and Mr. Lincoln began to think, as he expressed it, that he must
"change his tactics or lose the game." Accordingly he decided to
issue the Emancipation Proclamation as soon as the Union army won
a substantial victory. The battle of Antietam, on September 17,
gave him the opportunity he sought. He told Secretary Chase that
he had made a solemn vow before God that if General Lee should be
driven back from Pennsylvania he would crown the result by a
declaration of freedom to the slaves.

On the twenty-second of that month he issued a proclamation
stating that at the end of one hundred days he would issue
another proclamation declaring all slaves within any State or
Territory to be forever free, which was done in the form of the
famous Emancipation Proclamation.

In the conduct of the war and in his purpose to maintain the
Union, Abraham Lincoln exhibited a will of iron and determination
that could not be shaken, but in his daily contact with the
mothers, wives and daughters begging for the life of some soldier
who had been condemned to death for desertion or sleeping on duty
he was as gentle and weak as a woman.

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