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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 30, 1865



In March of 1865, President Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln and their son Tad visited Grant's Headquarters in City Point, Virginia - near Petersburg, on the James River.

The family arrived March 24th aboard the 'The River Queen,' and stayed (sleeping at night on the river boat) for two weeks. Lincoln frequently met with Grant and occasionally toured nearby battlefields as he anxiously awaited news from the front lines.

By now, everyone believed that an end to the war was imminent. Lincoln wanted to be as close as possible to the culminating actions of the war, and welcomed an escape from the daily pressures of Washington. When asked by General Collis how long he planned to stay, Lincoln apparently replied:

"Well, I am like the western pioneer who built a log cabin. When he commenced he didn't know how much timber he would need, and when he had finished, he didn't care how much he had used up. So you see I came down among you without definite plans, and when I go home I sha'n't regret a moment I have spent with you." (Pfanz.)

Lincoln, Grant and other high-ranking army officers met frequently in City Point to plan the end of the war, and they also planned for the reunification of the nation.

It was apparently on the River Queen that Lincoln dreamed the fateful premonition of his coming death:

Lincoln waited at City Point for news from General Grant that he had taken Petersburg and defeated the Confederate armies led by General Robert E. Lee. During this tense time, Lincoln was aboard the River Queen, a ship docked outside City Point. While on the ship, he had a dream. He dreamt that he was in the White House and walked in on a group of mourners. When he asked a soldier who had died, the soldier replied, "the President."

As he waited on the river boat for news, Lincoln could hear the sound of gunfire in the distance and could imagine the battles being waged. Lincoln wrote the following letter to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton:

City Point, Va., March 30, 1865-7.30 p.m.

To Edwin M. Stanton

Hon. Secretary of War: I begin to feel that I ought to be at home, and yet I dislike to leave without seeing nearer to the end of General Grant's present movement. He has now been out since yesterday morning, and although he has not been diverted from his programme, no considerable effect has yet been produced, so far as we know here. Last night at 10.15, when it was dark as a rainy night without a moon could be, a furious cannonade, soon joined in by a heavy musketry-fire, opened near Petersburg and lasted about two hours. The sound was very distinct here, as also were the flashes of the guns upon the clouds. It seemed to me a great battle, but the older hands here scarcely noticed it, and, sure enough, this morning it was found that very little had been done. A. LINCOLN.

Annotation

OR, I, XLVI, III, 280. General John G. Parke telegraphed Colonel Theodore S. Bowers on March 30: "The enemy drove in our pickets on line in vicinity of steadman & made demonstration on other portions of the line. Signal Rockets were thrown up by enemy & general cannonading ensued accompanied with heavy musketry on both sides The main line was not touched, & the picket line re established. The casualties not yet reported. . . ." (DLC-RTL).

Stanton replied on March 31: "I hope you will stay to see it out, or for a few days at least. I have strong faith that your presence will have great influence in inducing exertions that will bring Richmond; compared to that no other duty can weigh a feather. There is . . . nothing to be done here but petty private ends that you should not be annoyed with. A pause by the army now would do harm; if you are on the ground there will be no pause. All well here." (OR, I, XLVI, III, 332).

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