Lincoln's Personal Life HTML version

Preparing A Different War
During the five weeks which remained to Lincoln on earth, the army was his most
obvious concern. He watched eagerly the closing of the enormous trap that had been
slowly built up surrounding Lee. Toward the end of March he went to the front, and for
two weeks had his quarters on a steamer at City Point. It was during Lincoln's visit that
Sherman came up from North Carolina for his flying conference with Grant, in which the
President took part. Lincoln was at City Point when Petersburg fell. Early on the morning
of April third, he joined Grant who gives a strange glimpse in his Memoirs of their
meeting in the deserted city which so recently had been the last bulwark of the
Confederacy.[1] The same day, Richmond fell. Lincoln had returned to City Point, and
on the following day when confusion reigned in the burning city, he walked through its
streets attended only by a few sailors and by four friends. He visited Libby Prison; and
when a member of his party said that Davis ought to be hanged, Lincoln replied, "Judge
not that ye be not judged."[2] His deepest thoughts, however, were not with the army.
The time was at hand when his statesmanship was to be put to its most severe test. He
had not forgotten the anxious lesson of that success of the Vindictives in balking
momentarily the recognition of Louisiana. it was war to the knife between him and them.
Could he reconstruct the Union in a wise and merciful fashion despite their desperate
He had some strong cards in his hand. First of all, he had time. Congress was not in
session. He had eight months in which to press forward his own plans. If, when Congress
assembled the following December, it should be confronted by a group of reconciled
Southern States, would it venture to refuse them recognition? No one could have any
illusions as to what the Vindictives would try to do. They would continue the struggle
they had begun over Louisiana; and if their power permitted, they would rouse the nation
to join battle with the President on that old issue of the war powers, of the dictatorship.
But in Lincoln's hand there were four other cards, all of which Wade and Chandler would
find it hard to match. He had the army. In the last election the army had voted for him
enthusiastically. And the army was free from the spirit of revenge, the Spirit which
Chandler built upon. They had the plain people, the great mass whom the machine
politicians had failed to judge correctly in the August Conspiracy. Pretty generally, he
had the Intellectuals. Lastly, he had--or with skilful generalship he could have--the
The Thirteenth Amendment was not yet adopted. The question had been raised, did it
require three-fourths of all the States for its adoption, or only three-fourths of those that
were ranked as not in rebellion. Here was the issue by means of which the Abolitionists
might all be brought into line. It was by no means certain that every Northern State would
vote for the amendment. In the smaller group of States, there was a chance that the
amendment might fail. But if it were submitted to the larger group; and if every
Reconstructed State, before Congress met, should adopt the amendment; and if it was
apparent that with these Southern adoptions the amendment must prevail, all the great
power of the anti-slavery sentiment would be thrown on the side of the President in favor
of recognizing the new State governments and against the Vindictives. Lincoln held a