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

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 8, 1865



On this day in 1865 - the last day of the Civil War - Abraham Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln traveled by train to Petersburg, Virginia. They spent the day visiting hospital camps and meeting with Union generals posted to the captured city.

That evening, back on board the 'River Queen,' the Lincolns were treated to a farewell concert by a military band. According to the visiting Marquis de Chambrun, President Lincoln requested two songs: "Marseillaise," and interestingly (it was one of Lincoln's favorites) "Dixie." (Adolphe de Pineton, marquis de Chambrun, Impressions of Lincoln and the Civil War: A Foreigner's Account (New York: Random House, 1952), 78-83.)

At around 11 P.M., the Lincolns and their entourage left City Point on their return trip to Washington.

Meanwhile, in the field, Grant received Lee's reply of April 7th (see yesterday's blog entry) early in the morning of April 8th. Grant responded immediately with terms for surrender:

"April 8th, 1865.
General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:

Your note of last evening in reply to mine of the same date, asking the conditions on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply I would say that, peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon,--namely, that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or will designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you, for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.

U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"

After another full day of fighting on April 8th, Lee sent another message through the lines to Grant, requesting further clarification:

"April 8th, 1865.

General: I received at a late hour your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army, but, as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia; but as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you at 10 A.M. to-morrow on the old state road to Richmond, between the picket-lines of the two armies.

R.E. Lee, General."

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