regardful of his obligations and the rights of others, with a lofty contempt of all sordid considerations—a man as incapable of soiling his conscience or his palm with the touch of filthy lucre not his own as ever ‘lived in the tides of time.’
Such was the man against whom an angry and resentful government fulminated charges of the most despicable and cowardly crimes, and upon whom it set ‘all the little dogs, Tray, Blanche
and Sweetheart,’ to worry at his heels, and with the teeth of their envenomed slanders to tear to shreds the fair mantle of his unblemished reputation.
The helpless prisoner, though subjected to the anguish of knowing of these wanton assaults, was kept with closed mouth, forbidden to utter a word in his own defense.
He bore them with a lofty contempt, inspired by the mens conscia recti
, and with a philosophy springing from his serene confidence that soon or late triumphant truth would vindicate his name.
The time came when the sleeping public conscience was aroused to a sense of the rank injustice of holding in imprisonment a man charged with such heinous crimes, not only without a trial, but without even an indictment or arraignment at the bar of public justice.
Such men as Horace Greeley
, Gerrit Smith
, John A. Andrews
, and others of the men who had been his bitterest political foes took up his case and determined that justice should be done.
They investigated the pretended evidence on which it was claimed that he was implicated in the odious crimes with which he had been charged.
They convinced themselves, and openly proclaimed to the world their conviction that there was not the slightest ground for such charges.
Even Thaddeus Stevens
, who would, no doubt, gladly have seen Jefferson Davis
hung for high treason, did not hesitate to declare his confidence that he was innocent of all the other charges, saying that he knew Jefferson Davis
, and that whatever else might be said of him, he was a gentleman incapable of such crimes.
There was not even a pretense or persistence in those charges.
They were absolutely abandoned.
He was indicted for treason, a purely political crime.
He was liberated from imprisonment on a bond signed by Horace Greeley
, Gerrit Smith
and Commodore Vanderbilt
The government never ventured to press the case to trial.
At the ensuing term of court a nolle prosequi
was entered and Jefferson Davis
passed a free man into the body of his fellow-citizens.
But, although thus completely vindicated, the filthy streams of slander and abuse, which so long flowed unrestrained over his fair