Persuasive and cogent as this letter will now seem, it did not placate the indignation of the Kentuckians, nor change the destination of their delegates from the Chicago
to the Baltimore Convention.
The careful reader will note in this letter a decided advance upon Mr. Lincoln
's earlier allusions to Slavery in its necessary relations to our struggle.
By nature, slow, cautious, tentative, and far from sanguine, he had profoundly distrusted the policy of Emancipation; apprehending that its adoption would alienate from the Union
cause more strength than it would bring to its support.
This distrust yielded tardily to evidence, which (in fact) was slowly furnished; but when at length it appeared that, while very few original, hearty Unionists
were repelled by it, the Blacks became day by day a more active and more efficient element of our National strength, his doubts were fully dispelled, and his faith was the firmer and clearer for his past skepticism.
Hence, at the great gathering which inaugurated1
the National Cemetery
carved from the battle-field of Gettysburg
for the ashes of our brethren who there died that their country might live, though the elaborately polished oration of Edward Everett
was patiently listened to, while Cabinet Ministers
and Governors were regarded with lively curiosity, the central figure on the platform was the tall, plain, unpresuming, ungainly “ rail-splitter” from the prairies ; and the only words uttered that the world cares to remember were those of the President
, who — being required to say something — thus responded:
Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon tills continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The first National Convention of 1864 met at Cleveland
, May 31st, pursuant to a call “To the Radical men of the Nation.”
About 350 persons were present; very few or none of them in the capacity of delegates.
Ex-Gov. William F. Johnston
, of Pa.
, was made temporary and Gen. John Cochrane
, of N. Y.