Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On February 26, 1864

I guess he tired of pardoning them all, one at a time.

On this day in 1864, Lincoln directed via General Orders No. 76, that all deserters condemned to death by Court Martial be instead imprisoned at Dry Tortugas, Florida, or (in special cases) returned to duty for the remainder of the war.

General Orders, No. 76.
War Department, Adjutant-General's Office

Washington, February 26, 1864.

Sentence of Deserters.

The President directs that the sentences of all deserters, who have been condemned by Court Martial to death, and that have not been otherwise acted upon by him, be mitigated to imprisonment during the war, at the Dry Tortugas, Florida, where they will be sent under suitable guards by orders from army commanders.

The Commanding Generals, who have power to act on proceedings of Courts Martial in such cases, are authorized in special cases to restore to duty deserters under sentence, when in their judgment the service will be thereby benefited.

Copies of all orders issued under the foregoing instructions will be immediately forwarded to the Adjutant General and to the Judge Advocate General.

By order of the Secretary of War: E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

There is a reason that the people loved Lincoln; the people who met him, who knew him, who encountered him during the Civil War... and especially those he rescued from death. Lincoln, in his own personal humility, actually thought about how he himself might behave under fire and apparently came to the conclusion:

"I have not fully made up my mind how I should behave when mini-balls were whistling, and those great oblong shells shrieking in my ear. I might run away." (Meeting Mr. Lincoln, edited by Victoria Radford.)

Lincoln was a merciful man; he himself was no stranger to pain and loss, and therefore was able to recognize it right away in others. In his position as president, and when petitioned for help, he seemed to make every effort to ease the suffering of those who bore the burden of the war (he himself bore a similar burden as Commander in Chief.)

This often meant releasing prisoners; or in this case, returning a soldier son to an elderly mother with no other means of support.

I was waiting my turn to speak to the president one day... when my attention was attracted by the sad patient face of a woman advanced in life, who in a faded hood and shawl was among the applicants for an interview.

Presently Mr. Lincoln turned to her, saying in his accustomed manner, "Well, my good woman, what can I do for you this morning?"

"Mr President," said she, "my husband and three sons all went into the army. My husband was killed in the fight at ______. I get along very badly since then, living all alone, and I thought I would come and ask you to release my oldest son."

Mr. Lincoln looked into her face a moment, and in his kindest accents responded, "Certainly! Certainly! If you have given us all, and your prop has been taken away, you are justly entitled to one of your boys!" He immediately made out an order discharging the young man, which the woman took, and thanking him gratefully, went away.

I had forgotten the circumstance... till last week, when happening to be here again, who should come in but the same woman. It appeared that she had gone herself to the front, with the President's order, and found the son she was in search of had been mortally wounded in a recent engagement, and taken to a hospital. She found the hospital, but the boy was dead, or died while she was there. The surgeon in charge made a memorandum of the facts upon the back of the President's order, and almost broken-hearted, the poor woman had found her way again into Mr. Lincoln's presence.

He was much affected by her appearance and story, and said: "I know what you wish me do to now, and I shall do it without your asking: I shall release to you your second son." Upon this, he took up his pen and commenced writing the order.

While he was writing the poor woman stood by his side, the tears running down her face, and passed her hand softly over his head, stroking his rough hair, as I have seen a fond mother caress a son. By the time he had finished writing, his own heart and eyes were full. He handed her the paper: "Now," said he, "you have one and I have one of the other two left: that is no more than right."

She took the paper, and reverently placing her hand again upon his head, the tears still upon her cheeks, said: "The Lord bless you, Mr. Lincoln. May you live a thousand years, and may you always be the head of this great nation!"

This acccount was told by a reporter for the Washington Republican named Murtaugh (Six Months at the White House, by F.B. Carpenter.)

Mr. Lincoln will indeed live a thousand years as the head of our nation. He is our moral leader; the man to whom we turn in these dark, uncertain times for guidance, comfort and enduring wisdom.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home