The Athenaeum. (Atlanta, GA) 1898-1925, February 01, 1925, Image 14
THE ATHENAEUM 156 tempted secession were legally void. The rest was a calm review of the grounds of dissention and a moving appeal to the hearts and minds of all lovers of the Union for a peaceable settlement and a resumption of healing friendships. The warning was not heeded and Lincoln found himself confront ed by the greatest and most abominable curse known to the American civilzation—the civil war- He carefully led the Union forces to vic tory and on January 1, 1863, Emancipation came, not of set purpose, but as a by product of National preservation. He had long waited for the chance to strike; it now came. He struck lawfully and assur ed effect. Lincoln here instituted into the Constitution of the United States the 13th amendment—which should be the pride of every Ne gro’s heart. In comment on the Proclamation Lincoln wrote the following words to A. C. Hodges on April 4, 1864: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I am naturally anti-slavery. I cannot remember when I did not think so and feel and I have never under stood that Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. I could not feel that to the best of my ability, I had even tried to preserve the Constitution if, to save slavery or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of the government, country, and Constitution altogether.” He had deali the finishing stroke to that degrading institution called “Slavery” and it is to him, that we owe our esteem and admiration . But how long was such a noble character to remain with us? He like almost every other great personality, completed in part his task And his martyrdom was also accomplished. He, on April 14, 1865, sought relaxation by witnessing a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washing ton. There he was shot by a crazed secession zealot, J. Wilkes Booth by name, stealthily approaching from the rear. He fell unconscious in his wife’s arms, and died about seven the following morning. The tragedy proved but a part of an infamous plot and several leading officials of the government were attacked- All of us can see into the heart of such a man. Yet we do recog nize the fact that in 1860 a grateful people gave their willing con fidence to the patriot and statesman under whose wise and successful administration the nation triumphantly emerged from the great civil strife which for four long years afflicted the country. It is altogether fitting that we turn aside from our daily tasks and speak of such a noble character. To him is our gratitude justly due, for to him, under God, more than to any other person, are we indebted for the Emanci pation Proclamation, for the successful vindication of the integrity of the Union, and for the maintenance of the power of the Republic. He was indeed a hero in martyrdom—a champion in the cause of freedom—a benefactor of the Negro race—and one of the greatest personalities known to civilization.