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Legislature. In 1846 he went to Congress, where he was particularly noticeable for his urgent desire to see the slaves in the District of Columbia emancipated. In 1854 the repeal of the Missouri Compromise brought Lincoln out in debate, and his speeches marked him as one of the most fiery of the AntiSlavery orators. When the Republican party was formed he became, naturally, its head in Illinois, and during 1858 took part in his great debates with Senator Douglass, in which his speeches outlined the policy of the Anti-Slavery men for all time.
In 1860, Douglass and Breckinridge being his two opponents, he was nominated and elected sixteenth President of the United States. Already States had seceded, and Lincoln was, from the first, face to face with a disrupted Union. He treated secession as a nullity, and in his intense desire to find some way out of the difficulty before him, proposed that Congress should pay for the slaves. This Congress agreed to do, but the suggestion had come too late.
The war issues absorbed everything, and although there were politics in the country still, they were as nothing. Lincoln's course from first to last was the same. With him the Union was before everything else, and he would listen to any plan which even looked toward its restoration. Even the emancipation of the slaves was only forced upon bim-near as was the measure to his soul-by the exigencies of the war. The history of the war is alike too well known and too long to be even summarized here.
The President returned Slidell and Mason to England and bent his efforts toward keeping the peace between this country and France as well as Great Britain. He maintained friendly relations with President Juarez in Mexico, and he welcomed the visit of the Russian fleet gladly and warmly. But, in fact, he had but one thought, the war; and the politics and the foreign relations of other presidents played but a small part in the gigantic task before him. Still, what there was of them he managed with great wisdom.
No President has had such a responsibility as that which Lincoln was called upon to bear. Even Washington had no such war to manage, no such anxious hours, for Washington's enemies were foreigners. Calmly, quietly, with infinite patience and almost intinite wisdom, the President carried on the government of the country and brought the war to an end. We are only beginning to learn now how great and good this man was: we will never fully realize how much we owe to him.
ANDREW JOHNSON was elected to Congress in 1843 and to the Senate in 1857. In both he was a bitter opponent to slavery. In 1862 Lincoln made him military Governor of Tennessee, where he was successful in his administration of the affairs of the State.
When Lincoln died Johnson became President. His hatred of secession found utterance in such expressions as “treason is a crime," and for time it was feared he would become the exponent of what was called the “ Party of Vengeance" in the North. Owing, however, to the influence of Secretary Seward, Johnson moderated his sentiments. He went so far in the other direction that he found himself in contlict with Congress. He attempted to nullify various acts of Congress, and was impeached by the House before the Senate. He was acquitted by a vote of thirty-five for conviction to nineteen for acquittal. The difference of one vote would have turned the tide. Fortunately the country was spared the scandal.
The remainder of his time in the White House Johnson spent in fighting Congress. During his term there were no politics to amount to anything, the
country being fully occupied in recovering from the chaos of the war. After his term had ended Johnson was elected to the Senate from Tennessee.
ULYSSES S. GRANT.
U. S. GRANT "Uncle Sam " Grant, as Lincoln called him when he heard of the capture of Donelson-after serving through the Mexican War under General Taylor and spending a few years in civil life, entered the service of the State of Illinois at the beginning of the war as mustering officer. He was made colonel of the twenty-first Illinois Volunteers, and soon after received his commission as brigadier-general. He captured Fort Donelson, the first capture of any importance made by the Union troops, and he followed this up by taking Vicksburg. Assuming the command of the Army of the Potomac, he received the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox, which act virtually ended the war.
General Grant appeared prominently in politics during the administration of Johnson. As general of the army, a rank revived for him by Congress, his position and intluence were alike important in national affairs. President Johnson had committed himself to the policy of punishing the Confederate leaders, and the work was begun by a persecution of General Robert E. Lee. Generai Lee appealed to General Grant, and the latter, who firmly believed the war was over, and that the best way to secure its fruits was to simply assume that the Confederates had been punished enough, at once responded to the appeal. He declared that the terms on which he had paroled General Lee and all other Southern officers must be respected, and that no one should be punished. Although there were enough hot-heads in Washington to have carried the policy of the President into effect, General Grant's influence was so great that against his objections nothing could be done. In order to prevent the President using the army officers in the South to further embitter the people, Congress passed an act declaring that no orders should be given to the army except through its general. This, in effect, placed Grant above the President in the administration of the army, a position Johnson vainly tried to get out of by sending Grant to Mexico as the U. S. Minister, a position the latter refused.
In 1868 he was unanimously nominated as the candidate of the Republican party for the presidency, and was elected by a sweeping majority. In his letter of acceptance he used the famous phrase, “Let us have peace,” and it is the proud record of the man who carried the war to its most bloody end, that he bent the whole power of his office to binding up the wounds and bringing the nation back once more to Constitutional government. General Grant believed in the nation, and in the inherent power of the national government, as he believed in the people and their capacity for self-rule.
One of the distinguishing features of his government was his desire to restore the finances of the country to a sure basis. He advocated specie payment of the bonds and resumption as soon as possible. He was warmly in favor of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, as he believed this would secure to the negro race the full benefits of the war. A request for annexation to the United States having been forwarded by the government of Santo Domingo, in the West Indies, President Grant did his best to secure the passage of the treaty, but, largely owing to the opposition of Charles Sumner, failed in the Senate. The necessity which is apparent now for some naval station to the south of us makes plain the wisdom of General Grant in his views of this matter.
When it appeared that the negroes in the South were not reaping the benefit of the Fifteenth Amendment, and were being oppressed by men in de
fiance of the law, Grant took prompt measures, and by a show of government troops in North Carolina put a stop to the whole business without difficulty. The consistent and firm friendship shown by the President for the men of the Southern States gave him an influence with them that materially assisted all the reconstruction measures.
A feature of Grant's administration, which will always redound to his credit, was his success with the treaty of Washington. The claims for damages to American commerce by Confederate vessels which had been built and armed in England, had created very sore feelings between the Americans and English. War talk was heard often, and affairs at one time looked dangerous. Grant's inflexible desire for peace curbed those of the angrier sort, and he finally had these and other American claims referred to arbitration. As a result of the Geneva congress, which grew out of the treaty of Washington, England paid the Alabama” claims. The San Juan boundary question was decided in our favor.
During Grant's second term the so-called “Whiskey Ring” was exposed, and the men who had been robbing the government were tried and punished. The President vetoed the Currency Intlation Bill, and his reasons were so good that the measure died.
The peculiar glory of Grant's administration is to be found in his firm and unvarying friendship for the Southern States. While he made it plain that he would cause the law to be obeyed, he would allow nothing to be done to further embitter those who were then slowly recovering from the effects of the war. No President ever gave utterance to a nobler sentiment than “Let us have peace,” and to this, in spirit as in word, Grant acted up. His wisdom in this regard brought the country together much sooner than it otherwise would have come, and the policy he stamped on the government survived him. Unlearned in statecraft, he saw this part of his duty plainly, and, seeing it, he was not found lacking. The reunited nation of to-day should hold Grant in higher honor for this than is due to him from the North for his victories in the war.
RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES.
RUTHERFORD B. Hayes won his rank as Major-General by brevet for his gallantry in the war. He went to Congress in 1865, and became Governor of Ohio four years later. He made for himself, from his entrance into public life, a record as an advocate of honest money, civil-service reform, and the pacification of the South. When he became President in 1876 he announced these three as the main features of his policy. He was able to withdraw the troops which had been kept in the South, an act which did much to soothe the feelings of the people of that section. He attempted to inaugurate civilservice reform, but was unable to bring it about. He vetoed the Silver Currency Bill on the ground that silver could not honestly be used as a legal tender in excess of its market value.
It is a marked feature of the administration of President Hayes that resumption of specie payment went into effect on January 1, 1879. "To this end the President had worked hard, and he had the delight of seeing it an accomplished fact. The dollar of the United States government once more became a dollar in fact,
President Hayes made himself felt in the scheme of a canal to join the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He took the ground that no such canal could ever be built unless it was to be controlled by the United States, and this view has been accepted as sound American policy since that time.