Графични страници
PDF файл

come together to tell us how the Union was to be reconstructed. Having been beaten in the field, they were quietly stepping forward to claim the results of victory. But this murder has probably defeated their expectations. As Abraham Lincoln saved us, while living, from the open hostility and deadly blows of the slaveholders and secessionists, so, in dying, he may have saved us from their audacious craft, and their poisonous policy. We are reminded again what sort of people they are.

It is idle to say that it was the work only of one or two. When the whole South applauded Brooks in his attempt to assassinate Charles Sumner; when, during these four years, they have been constantly offering rewards for the heads of Lincoln and of Butler; and when no eminent Southern man has ever protested against these barbarisms, they made themselves accessories before the fact to this assassination. Throughout the South, to-day, there is, probably, very general exultation. FOOLS AND BLIND! Throughout the North, , this murder will arouse a stern purpose, not of revenge, we trust, or only such a revenge as will consist with the memory of Lincoln. The revenge we shall take for the murder of Lincoln will be, to raise the loyal black pupulation of the South not only to the position of freemen, but of voters ; to shut out from power forever the leaders of the rebellion; to re-admit no Southern State into the Union until it has adopted a free-state constitution, and passed that anti-slavery amendment so dear to Abraham Lincoln's heart. * We might not have insisted on these

* See, at the end of this discourse, an extract from the sermon preached by the writer on Fast Day, the day before this assassination, in regard to these points.

conditions, — perhaps it was necessary for Lincoln to die, to bring the nation to the point of demanding them.

I suppose that since the beginning of the world, there never was an hour in which a whole nation experienced at the same moment such a pang as was felt from Maine to San Francisco yesterday morning. The telegraphic wires sent a thrill of horror into every city and every large town on the Atlantic and Pacific, on the Kennebec and the Missouri, at the same time. It was like the blow of a hammer descending on the heart of the nation. But such a hammer and fire welds together the soul of a people into a strong, righteous purpose. As the attempt of Guy Fawkes to destroy the British Parliament united all England for two centuries against the Papacy; as the attempt of Brooks to murder Sumner united the free States against slavery, so this crime will unite the whole North to make thorough work with the rebellion, and put it down where it can never stir itself again.

The word “ assassin,” it is said, was introduced into Europe by the crusaders, and took its name from that mountain chief whose followers devoted themselves to murder any of his foes. He was named Ha-shish-in : 80 named from hashish, the intoxicating herb, which they took to give themselves the energy of madness. Assassins are always madmen, — they destroy the cause they mean to help.

To-day, then, amid our grief and tears, let us not lose that trust in Providence which the past four years

have been teaching to this nation, — and which every Good Friday and Easter Sunday, during eighteen centuries, have been teaching to mankind.

“ Bear him, brothers, to his grave ;
Over one more true and brave

Ne'er shall prairie grasses weep
In the ages yet to come,
When the millions in our room,

What we sow in tears, shall reap.

“One more look of that dead face, Of his murder's ghastly trace !

One more kiss, O widowed one! Lay your left hands on his brow, Lift your right hands up, and vow

That his work shall yet be done.

“ Patience, friends! The eye of God Every path by murder trod

Watches, lidless, day and night ; And the dead man in his shroud, And his children weeping loud,

And our hearts, are in his sight.

“We, in suffering, they, in crime, Wait the just award of time,

Wait the vengeance that is due; Not in vain a heart shall break, Not a tear for Freedom's sake

Fall unheeded: God is true.

• Lay the earth upon his breast, Lay our slain one down to rest,

Lay him down in hope and faith. And above the broken sod, Once again to Freedom's God

Pledge ourselves for life or death."


The following extract from a sermon preached by the writer, two days before, gives a further explanation of the points touched on our page :

No doubt much remains to be done. The gravest questions rise before us. There loom up now the questions, “what shall be done with the rebels ? Shall the leaders of the rebellion be punished, and how? What shall be done with the conquered States ? How shall they be governed ; by military or civil power?

In answering these questions it is evident, that, first of all, we need guarantees that the substantial results of the war shall not be lost--that the cure of the South shall be radical that there shall be no more treasons, no more rebellions. Any leniency that overlooks this necessity is not moderation, is not generosity --it is folly, cruelty, and crime. We may forgive; but we have no right so to forgive as to leave the old conspirators with power to conspire again.

What guarantees, then, do we need? Plainly, the first is the utter abolition and destruction of slavery in the South. We must not have it in any form or shape. We must not allow it to remain as apprenticeship, or as serfdom, or as pupilage. But can this be done if we give back the power over the Southern States into the hands of the old disloyal leaders, now made ten times as bitter as before their defeat ? I see by the prints that distinguished citizens of Virginia are on their way to Washington to arrange terms for the reconstruction and re-admission of Virginia into the Union. What do we want of distinguished citizens of Virginia ? We want them all to keep out of the way. We are to deal now with the real people of the South, colored and white, not with the old slaveholding aristocracy. We do not want any Hon. Mr. Hunters or Breckinridges ; no Governor Wise, no Governor Foote, to arrange terms with.

It seems to me that the question of punishment may be entirely set aside. We do not wish to punish any one. • Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.". They will be

punished enough, ro doubt of that. If defeat, disgrace, and utter ruin are punishments, if contempt at home and neglect abroad are punishments, if to have shown a want of statesmanship and ignorance of history, to have destroyed the peace and prosperity of these States is punishment, they have it. We have, no doubt, a right to punish them to any extent. The crimes of rebellion, treason, and waging civil war without a cause, are the blackest which can be committed by man. To lose life, property, and all, is not too severe a punishment. But what we wish is not to punish them, but to protect ourselves. And the most moderate punishment which is adequate is the best, because it is the most certain to be inflicted. And therefore I say, that, in my opinion, what we want is to keep all the old rebel leaders, and old slaveholding aristocracy out of the way, until the States of the South can be re-organized on the basis of freedom. We want to keep them from having anything to do with the government or control of the South until every Southern State is as loyal as Massachusetts. Now, every eminent Southern man is liable to be tried, convicted, and put to death for treason under the law of 1790. It is true that he can only be tried within the State where the act of treason was committed. But when Lee invaded Pennsylvania, he committed treason there, and so did the whole rebel government, for in treason all are principals — and the purpose of overthrowing the government of the United States by arms is a treasonable purpose — and every one who deliberately aids in any way that purpose, even by furnishing supplies, is held by the Courts to be a principal.

The punishment of death for treason is therefore hanging today over the head of every man concerned in the rebellion. They may be very grateful if allowed to escape by exile, confiscation, and disqualification. But looking, not at vengeance or punishment, but simply at self protection, it is my opinion that we might agree to waive the trial for treason, and substitute for it these penalties : 1st. In the case of Jefferson Davis, and his government, and all the chief conspirators, we might substitute

« ПредишнаНапред »