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[222]

“ Though I have never allowed myself,” said I, “to look forward to such a contingency, and don't believe that there will be a permanent separation of the two sections on the basis of their labor systems, notwithstanding the untoward action and attitude of the cotton States, yet I consider it to be the bounden duty of us all in this crisis to do everything in our power to prevent the possibility of such a calamity. And as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I, therefore, beg and entreat you not to press this bill of yours.”

“'Tis useless,” he replied, “to say anything further. I'm sorry that I cannot comply with your request; for the bill must pass, and pass the House this evening.”

“Am I then to understand,” I asked, “that this is a party measure, and one that Mr. Lincoln approves of?”

To which he replied by telling me that he himself had originated it; that no one else was responsible for its provisions, and that he had never spoken to Mr. Lincoln on the subject.

Whereupon I remarked, “I am very glad to hear that, and will myself speak to him about it without delay I don't know him personally, but this is no time to stand on ceremony; so I shall go to him at once and ascertain, if possible, his opinion of the policy of such a movement as yours at this particular juncture; and, perhaps,” I added, as I turned to leave him, “Mr. Lincoln may not be so inflexible as you are in this matter, and can be induced to exert his influence to stop it in the Senate if too late to do so in the House.”

“Yes, that's likely!” was his laconic rejoinder, qualified by an incredulous laugh.

On my way to the cloak-room, I stopped to speak to two of my colleagues, Messrs. Thomas S. Bocock and Muscoe R. I. Garnett, who were standing together — in the area outside the bar of the House. Mentioning my purpose to see Mr. Lincoln, and the object of the visit, I requested them, if Stanton should call up the bill in my absence, to do me the favor to filibuster on it until I could get back to record my vote against it, which they promised to do; I, on my part, promising to report to them the particulars of my proposed interview. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when I left the Capitol, and driving rapidly to Willard's, where the President-elect had a suite of rooms fronting the avenue, the first person I met on reaching the hotel was an old acquaintance from the county of Berkeley, Virginia, Colonel Ward H. Lamon, Mr. Lincoln's law partner and compagnon de voyage from Springfield to Washington, who, on learning my wishes, kindly undertook to ascertain if Mr.

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