Assassination of President Lincoln, The—II—President Lincoln’s Death

The assassination of President Lincoln brings forth some grave ideas in regard to whether it was the design of God or solely the work of man. It is queer to hear the adherents of both these doctrines argue about what neither know anything of, except as their opinions, and I listen to find the point of the argument that they wish to prove, but I only hear one tell what he believes and the other in turn gives his ideas on the subject. One believed in fore-ordination and pointed to the Bible as proof. The other discarded the idea that God had any hand in the matter at all and left it altogether with man.

Differing with both, I will give my ideas which are based upon what I think every candid person will admit. Freedom is opposed to slavery, this all will admit. Now is freedom an element of intelligence or does it belong to our senses? Is it a truth that exists as a principle, the same as mathematics? Is it not like confined steam or anything that wants its liberty? Admit that liberty is wisdom as far as it goes and you have one point to reason from. Suppose wisdom to be an element and every act to come within its knowledge, so that nothing can transpire without its knowledge. Suppose everything is within this atmosphere of wisdom, as your body for instance, and if anything touches your body, your wisdom knows it. Everything that is seen by the natural eye existed without wisdom before it assumed a body. The chicken existed before it burst through the shell and had an identity and showed life, though when it came out of the shell, it assumed a new character. Now had the egg been destroyed before the chicken was hatched, would the idea chicken be destroyed to wisdom? I say no.

You hold a bullet in your hand. If you let go of it, the bullet will drop. Now wisdom knows that the bullet will fall and the holding of it one minute or more will not change the law or truth which knows that it will fall. Just as you drop the ball, someone catches it. Now is the law of gravitation changed? No, but you as a being cannot see outside your senses, that is, that there is any wisdom independent of what mankind knows and so you cannot see any wisdom outside the bullet. And if you try to account for its falling, you only make it less clear. In the fate of the President, men try to prove that he is alive after admitting that he is dead. Now he is neither alive nor dead, but if he is dead, then wisdom is not wisdom, for if you admit that the President had any wisdom and then assert that he is dead, you contradict yourself. Let us look at it in another light.

I said freedom was an element of wisdom. No principle can make itself manifest to man unless it assumes some form. Take the idea of gravitation. If there was nothing to fall, you could not prove the principle, so Freedom must have some medium by which to prove itself and so it works through man. Men may be compared to checkers. Liberty represented by Lincoln and Slavery represented by Davis are the players, and either Freedom or Slavery, the stakes. Every person who has any great interest in the great game reflects himself on the board. Now there is no intelligence in the checkers but the wisdom is in the players. The President is the party representative of Freedom and as all loyal persons are concentrated on him, it is not strange that he should play with hesitation and caution lest he lose, for slavery is a keen player and a hard element to contend with and often gains a point and then loses it.

At last Freedom gains the advantage and slavery has to yield. This excites the public and brings on discussion and discordant feelings and everyone gives his opinion and someone attacks the President and destroys the medium or body. But he is not in the body but in the principle Freedom with the people and feels the advantage gained over slavery and rejoices with the people as much as any of us. Wisdom no longer requires that he should play the game but lets another person assume the office while the President sits, looks on and enjoys the fruits of his labor. I look upon the change that has taken place in that way. He has finished his work and given up to another who will put the law in force on the traitors. Not that he has lost anything, for I cannot think that he has.

I have no death but the death of error. Wisdom cannot die. Slavery he destroyed, and he reigned till he had brought all the enemies of freedom under his feet and the last enemy was slavery. Now he delivers up the keys to his successor that his wisdom shall be all in all. Now the identity of Abraham Lincoln as a man was his own, independent of the people, and the elements of Freedom and Slavery were so evenly divided in him that he was sensitive to the outside impression of each party or element, and had he professed more of either element, either of slavery or freedom in him, it would have made matters worse. But the combination of the two made him sensitive to all feelings of each element and he was directed by the true element of freedom and justice which made every move and saw the effect thereof. He was not a man of party but of principle. Now since he has established the principle, it needs another element to gather up the grain of his threshing and burn up the chaff, and that task has fallen into Andrew Johnson's hands.

April 1865