A marked example of both the sagacity and the magnanimity of the President is found in his selection of Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War upon the early retirement of Cameron. This imperious but intensely loyal man had treated Lincoln with• marked discourtesy both before and after the latter came to the Presi dency. But Lincoln comprehended both the strength and the weakness of his waspish critic. Disregarding the personal affronts he placed Stanton in a position of almost despotic power, and reaped for himself and the country a harvest of incomparable service. In the same spirit he made Salmon P. Chase chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, after that great minister of finance had retired from his Cabinet a disappointed aspirant for the presi dential succession. General McClellan, while in command of the Potomac army, displayed toward his great superior a very unfortunate attitude. Remonstrances against submission to such treatment called forth no response but this: would hold McClellan's horse if that would bring us victories.* Chief among his many disappointments was the failure, one after another, of his chief military appointees. The field of choice was limited, of course, to those educated for the army and not openly disloyal. Only experience could determine who of these were fit to command. He would not condemn any in haste. Some were retained perhaps too long because better were as yet unknown. Re peated disasters at last sent incompetents to the rear and possibilities of victory began to emerge. High hopes inspired by the fall of Vicksburg (4 July 1863) and the concurrent defeat of Lee at Gettysburg suffered painful relapses. The following spring (9 March 1864) General Grant, whose successful career in the West had won the country's confidence, was placed in supreme control. Thence onward unity of plan and movement took the place of divided efforts. Meanwhile, very largely under the President's personal direction, the dangers of foreign intervention were met and averted. But as the season for nominations and elec tions approached conditions were extremely de pressing. Immense losses attended the grapple with Lee's army in the Wilderness of Virginia. In Georgia the forces under Johnston were eluding the efforts of General Sherman to bring them to bay. Financial difficulties accumulated; discontent spread among powerful leaders in Congress and elsewhere. Lincoln naturally de sired re-election, both on his own account and for the national cause, but the clamor of the few and the slow progress of events in the field led him at times to forbode defeat both in convention and at the polls. The convention met at Baltimore, 7 June 1864. His renomina tion, never in doubt, was made unanimous upon the first ballot. For reasons of expediency, a Vice-President was named from the South, An drew Johnson of Tennessee succeeding Hanni bal Hamlin of Maine. Opposition on the part of radicals did not cease immediately. They had previously (31 May 1864) held a mass convention which assumed to name Fremont as a Republican candidate, but no manifestation of popular support was evoked and its ticket was later withdrawn. The Democratic conven tion (29 Aug. 1864) nominated Gen. George B. McClellan, who despite his repeated failures as a general had retained a singular hold upon popular favor. His failures indeed had en hanced his popularity, owing to strenuous claims that the administration had thwarted his military plans in order to disgrace him. No more dangerous candidate could have been chosen as matters then stood, but the conven tion platform was a marvel of political unwis dom. It recited as an historical fact that the war so long waged for the Union had been a "failure,* and demanded the immediate cessa tion of hostilities that peace might be obtained through a convention of the States, Opportune victories, however, put an end to the charges of failure. The capture of Atlanta (2 Sept.
1864) and Sheridan's whirlwind progress through the Shenandoah Valley were campaign arguments of compelling force. McClellan car ried but three States, New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky, casting 21 electoral votes. Lin coln received all the rest, 212 in number, and a popular majority of nearly 500,000.
Opposition in the North practically ceased with this overwhelming vote of confidence. There were murmurs of discontent over the President's evident inclination to deal leniently with the misguided South, but these came from would-be leaders rather than the masses. The Confederacy speedily fell apart. By his patience and sagacity, by his steadfast resolve and his faith in the integrity and capacity of the people, by his ready sympathy with the common sufferings and his eagerness to receive and to grant petitions for help and for mercy he had acquired and at last enjoyed an influence far greater than the mere authority of his office. Constantly assailed by ignorance and malice he had so administered his great trust as to make reunion comparatively easy. Hardly a word of denunciation fell from his lips or pen throughout those trying years. 'II shall do nothing in malice,* he wrote. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.* His almost unbounded charity was based upon a profound study of the feelings and motives of men. He ruled by a right more Divine than any right of kings.
The principal army of the Confederacy sur rendered to General Grant 9 April 1865. It was confidently expected that further resist ance would shortly cease. In the elation of the moment it was resolved to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the fall of Fort Sumter by a harmless bit of ceremony, signalizing upon the same spot the restoration of the national au thority throughout the land. Accordingly at noon of that day the identical flag which Major Anderson had been forced to haul down as the first definite concession to armed insurgency was by the same hand again unfurled above the crumbling fortress. That evening, the mission of the great President being in substance per formed, his martyrdom was also accomplished. He had sought relaxation by witnessing a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington. There he was shot by a crazed secession zealot, J. Wilkes Booth by name, stealthily approaching from the rear. He fell unconscious in the arms of his wife and died at about seven of the following morning. The tragedy proved but a part of an infamous plot to slay several leading officials of the government. Secretary Seward, at about the same hour, was dangerously stabbed by one of the conspirators while lying sick at his home. Other intended victims escaped through miscarriages in the concerted scheme. Booth, leaping from the President's box to the stage below, sustained a fracture of the leg, but with the aid of confederates escaped across the Potomac. He was soon discovered in hiding and was fatally shot while resisting arrest. Four of the remaining conspirators, including a widow named Mary Surratt, were convicted by a military court and hanged (7 July 1865). Four others were sentenced to prison. Natu rally the Confederate government was suspected of direct complicity in the crime. The suspicion was unfounded, but the mingled grief and rage of the people brought upon the South distress ing consequences. Harsh measures of recon struction were adopted, such as Lincoln surely would have disapproved and by his great in fluence might have averted. Friend and foe suffered in a common calamity.