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content and to that of mankind. It was no longer to be a war for a slave empire on the one side, and a patched-out slave Republic on the other. The armies of the Union were stripped clean of their conservative hinderments, and marched forward in the greater campaigns of the conflict.
President Lincoln had reached high leadership in as wise statesmanship among the people and our armies ere this. Afterwards it became an undisputed control, grounded on his own and the righteous judgment of our people. He knew and understood that he was master-man and leader, as God made him, and that in his wisdom and conduct the issues of the great conflict depended. He was not in this presumptive, never obtrusive, and never assumed or appeared as dictator. He was always considerate, mild, and yielding to the point where he could yield no more; but in principles and choice of men to lead, when he had reached his determination, he was resolute, firm, and solid as the serf-beaten rock,
Here we rest. Here he stood before all men, as he did with and among the great leaders and statesmen of his Administration and his time, to whom he announced his forthcoming proclamation of freedom as follows: "When the rebel army was at Frederick, I determined, as soon as it should be driven out of Maryland, to issue a proclamation such as I thought most likely to be useful. I said nothing to any one; but I made the promise to myself—and to my Maker. The rebel army is now driven out, and I am going to fulfill that promise. I have got you together to hear what I have written down. I do not wish your advice about the main matter, for that I have determined for myself. This I say without intending anything but respect for any one of you.”
He was great and strong, and prevailed. He knew his gifts well. He prepared himself in every way open to his advancement, and forged ahead with the honest zeal of a reformer. He surmounted every obstacle, laid aside every minor and selfish consideration, every temporary or seeming advantage, that he might the more certainly strike the underlying evil and carry on his work against it with all his strength. He was so profoundly and devoutly impressed with his duty, so faithful and persevering in it, and waited so patiently his declared interpretation and its exact fulfillment, that these proved him to be no less than God's prophet.
He was unswayed by disappointment, defeat, or seeming disaster. He was on the unpopular side, and the under one, for more than twenty-five years, and was usually defeated with his party. But he took his defeat complacently, without murmur or a word about being neglected. In God's time he came to leadership, when he rose steadily in work that proved him the best friend of men for more than eighteen centuries. He carried our Nation through the greatest conflict of modern times, sealing it a victory forever, in his complete triumph over every contention, his patriotic service, his sacrifice, his exaltation and return to his Makur when the great labor of his life was done.
Most of the world's great reformers have wrought out their work through similar conflicts. Christ said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. x, 34.) By this he did not mean to declare that his gospel of peace should be preached, propagated, or carried into the hearts of men by forcible means; but, knowing well the greedy and murderous spirit of disobedient and despotic men, he knew that the civil and religious rights of his people would need to be gained and protected by the strong arm of law and "the sword.”
Luther was protected in his civil rights by the powerful Elector of Saxony and his allies, a sort of Confederated Germany. In that time, if any one of the German States had been seriously threatened, all of them would have united, as they did afterwards against the political aggression of the popes, the decaying power of Charles V, and his more cruel son, Philip II. However, Luther endured a long and angry
contest, coming near to war and bloodshed very often, over which he triumphed only by reason of this available power of the sturdy, heroic Germans who so bravely and righteously sustained him.
William of Orange and his brave Netherlanders fought their way to victory against Philip II, the butcher Alva, and the devil, through long years of disaster and death, regardless of losses and the most merciless and bloody despotism ever known in Europe.
Oliver Cromwell hewed out and cut his way against all resistance, in one of the most successful campaigns in the world's progress, with his brave yeomanry of God-fearing
He overthrew a merciless dynasty. He tried and executed a king who would have expeditiously and heartlessly slain all of them if he had been restored to power. He did this in an era not to be measured by the conditions of to-day, but when, to preserve the limited rights and liberties of the freest and most enlighted people, he could do no better.
Washington and his ragged and barefooted veterans founded this Nation on the well-defined basis of freedom, equality, and popular government-one that before their day had been no more than a dream of mankind.
Lincoln, as devoted a hero as any of these, with the help of millions of co-patriots, took up the mightier work of saving the people's liberties. He, in leadership that stands alone, overthrew the slaveholders' defined limitations of human rights. By the grace of God in repentance and the awakened conscience of the people, he enlarged these to include the black men, who, in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, were made, for all time, equals among the sons of men, bringing them under the benign power of Christ's Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do even so to them.”
President Lincoln encountered force without cause in
beginning his work of saving the Nation. He preferred peace and the amicable settlements of disputes, and to save the Union he would have foregone the amelioration of slavery for the time, to avert civil war. But the conspirators and the enemies of free government everywhere were never more mistaken than when they believed him too weak or timid to use force in his line of duty when he had cause to do so. Although suddenly brought to the use of force, he took up the study of the subject in his usual diligent way, in all its bearings. He persevered until he became the master spirit and strategist in the art of war. When he saw that war was inevitable, actually upon us, he at once set about using the most potent and powerful forces available to keep the Nation from falling to pieces in the onset.
While it is an unexplained mystery, it is still true that our progress, like that of other peoples under great leaders, has always been, and apparently had to be, through struggle and conflict. Either through persevering adventure or war we have reached our high place among nations and our supremacy on the American Continent. Standing as we do to-day, without any hostile rival in the roll of nations, we can not realize the desperate condition our country was in at the time of President Lincoln's inauguration and for a few weeks following. He was so nearly alone in the work of uniting the loyal people that, if he had not succeeded beyond what any other man or leader had done, secession, with its continuing evils, would have been inevitable.
The war went on in campaigns and advancing movements that overcame every obstacle to complete success. carried on by leaders and men who had the strength, power, and equipment to win victory at twice its fearful cost, had duty required. They neither faltered nor hesitated, but pressed forward to the waste and bloody sacrifice, all the more brave and determined since they knew they must meet and utterly defeat Americans of our own kind and kindred. It
was a great struggle, as the world measures conflict, won on fields of carnage that staggered men in wonderment. In imagination we see our great leaders and our multitudes of God's herces on both sides pass before us in grand review. As they move along the Nation's highway, amid floods of imperishable light in harmonious fellowship and concord, there are no conquerors and no slaves, no servants and no foes. All are equal under the same laws, all bettered alike, the unshackled slaves, the freed masters, and the free citizens, because the sin that cursed and darkened the whole land has been purged away and forever obliterated.
President Lincoln was re-elected in 1864; inaugurated the second time, March 4, 1865. No change in the vigorous policy of conducting the war was made or thought of. It was continued to the end, in faith and fulfillment, that the integrity of the Nation and the liberties of the people should be maintained and strengthened, but never abridged nor diminished. There was little change in the Cabinet. The war was in furious progress. Grant was in front of Richmond, with cannon and belts of artillery, brigades and divisions of men overlapping in lines of bristling steel, steadily closing down on the fated Rebellion.
In his second Inaugural Address the President closed, saying: “With malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the Nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
When the work was done, when Lee had surrendered on April 11th on Grant's generous terms, the great achievement of the prophet-leader was accomplished, and he, too, passed over, as he predicted. A darker hand than ever shadowed the sun on this continent, and a more vicious-tempered