patriotic efforts to these ends.
You will, therefore, I trust, not impute my earnestness to presumption when I say to you, in all sincerity, that the passage of this Force bill will paralyze the Unionists of Virginia
, and be the means of precipitating her into secession-a calamity which, at this juncture, will unquestionably involve the whole country in a civil war.”
After a silence of some seconds, during which Mr. Lincoln
seemed to be absorbed in thought, he presently looked up with a smile, and said: “Well, I'll see what can be done about the bill you speak of. I think it can be stopped, and that I may promise you it will be.”
Thanking him most cordially and sincerely for his kindness in acceding to my request, I then inquired if I might announce from my place in the House
that he did not approve of the measure.
“By no means,” said he, “for that would make trouble.
The question would at once be asked, what right I had to interfere with the legislation of this Congress.
Whatever is to be done in the matter, must be done quietly.”
“But, as I have promised two of my colleagues,” said I, “to let them know the result of this interview, I hope you will at least allow me to acquaint them, confidentially, with the substance of your conversation 2” To this he assented, and warmly thanking him again, I got up to take leave; but, on his insisting that I should resume my seat, I remained in conversation with him some fifteen minutes longer.
As what subsequently passed between us had no special bearing on the object of my visit, it is needless now to make any further reference to it, except to say, that it served to deepen the impression already made upon me by the interview, that M3r. Lincoln
was a kind-hearted man; that he was, at that time, willing to allow the moderate men of the South
a fair opportunity to make further efforts for a settlement of our intestine and internecine difficulties, and that he was by no means disposed to interfere, directly or indirectly, with the institutions of slavery in any of the States, or to yield to the clamorous demand of those bloody-minded extremists, who were then so very keen to cry “havoc!”
and “let slip the dogs of war;” and afterward so exceedingly careful, with the characteristic caution of their kind, to keep out of harm's way during the continuance of hostilities.
Having concluded my visit, I was about to return to the Capitol
, when, perceiving that the House
flag was down (a recess having been ordered from five until seven o'clock the same evening), I went at once to my room (at-Willard's, where I boarded that winter), and employed myself until dinner in making full notes of the foregoing conversation, while it was fresh in my memory.