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riority to personal ambition, or of his patriotic devotion of heart, cloud the Northern judgment of his character. But with all the credit he enjoyed for justice and fairness, magnanimity of heart and sagacity of judgment, there is no deny. ing the disappointment we felt at finding him so slow, so cautious, so wanting in dignity of manners, so patient with feeble generals and compromising advisers.
And now, after the experience of the last eighteen months, what would not his least sparing critics give to have Mr. Lincoln back in his place? What praise would they not be disposed to concede to the very qualities then deemed so blameworthy ?
We have seen enough precipitancy and readiness to assume responsibility, enough executive decisiveness and promptness of action, to teach us the wisdom of the self-suspicion and modesty which Mr. Lincoln felt became a republican President. Now we see that he only waited patiently for the people to form their opinions and express their purposes, and wisely allowed no haste of the few in advance of public sentiment to drag him from his policy of keeping just abreast of the real wishes of the nation. It was this genuine respect for the people that kept him calm, prudent, patient, and always fully up with, but never an inch before, their line. Mr. Lincoln valued counsel in proportion as it was more or less direct from the people. For the Constitution and his oath of office he had the profound reverence which becomes a President of the United States; and in nothing he ever said or did, lost sight for a moment of his supreme obligation to maintain that fundamental instrument. But he did not bring the Constitution and the people's deliberate will into needless antagonism. He did not profess a reverence for the Constitution, with no regard for the American people that originally made it, or for that national life it was fashioned to protect. How sure we were that no supreme interest of the nation would be sacrificed to any Levitical literalism or Pharisaic scruples, and that the manifest will of the people would not be balked and broken by bringing down upon it their own fundamental law!
How different is that appeal to constitutional law and precedent which we have seen inaugurated with Mr. Lincoln's successor! He has taught us to associate only cramps on liberty, and fear for the safety of all our dearest national hopes, with “the Constitution." He has interpreted it against the people who made it, and claim its protection; against the proper distribution of the power and duties of the Government; against the authority of that Congress, fresh from the people, and the lawful representatives of their latest will; against the hopes and guarantees which the costly war we waged entitled the conquerors to exact; against our effective allies, the negroes, by whose help we won the battle, and whom we stand pledged in the sight of God and the nations to see established in the possession and safe enjoyment of the freedom they conquered for themselves and for us.
Under Mr. Lincoln's cautious policy we called aloud for a man willing to take the responsibility ; we wanted a dictator; we craved a leader who would issue his orders from the front, and not from the rear. And Providence has sent us what we asked for,-a President who had a will of his own, and a disposition to use it; who did not propose to wait for Congress or the people, but to inaugurate his own policy, and carry it into immediate effect. Already we have seen the consequences of that kind of resoluteness and determination. ThePresident, in the superabundance of that firmness we deplored the want of in his forerunner, has made us, with all our hearts, wish back again the deference, the law-abiding and self-withdrawing disposition, of Mr. Lincoln. Over against his tardiness and caution stand his successor's precipitation and rashness; in contrast with his tenderness and unwillingness to blame or to dismiss political opponents or military obstructives, we have the wholesale decapitations of men too faithful to the principles and votes that elected the VicePresident to adopt the views and wear the favors of the President, who, rising by accident so far beyond his own hopes, has fallen so far below those of the party that trusted him with his opportunity. For Mr. Lincoln's jests we have his successor's oaths; for his little stories about others, we have the President's great stories about himself; for his besi.
tancy, his successor's obstinacy; for his mild and forgiving temper, which at most appeared to treat our enemies too generously, the President's “policy,” which threatens to put the nation at the mercy of those in the South who fought us four years unto the death, and those in the North who secretly enjoyed their victories and furtively encouraged their resistance, or even openly applauded their success.
It must to many be a very perplexing problem to account for the policy which prevails in an administration appointed in the interests of anti-slavery, and successfully sustained by the people in a war brought triumphantly through under their own guidance. The President's own defalcation from Northern and Republican principles is not so unaccountable. Born below the slave-holding order, and representing in the labordespising South the necessity of daily personal toil, Mr. Johnson grew up a natural hater of the aristocratic and slave-holding class, and found his only way to the elevation his natural ambition and strong native powers made necessary to him by the lucky and honorable road he took. He became the champion of his own despised class; and, under the support and the sympathies of the laboring people of Tennessee, he climbed
up that long series of official stairs which his own enumeration has made so familiar. There is no need to disparage Mr. Johnson's talents. We think more highly of them than most Republicans. He is undoubtedly a man of great native force of intellect and exceeding strength of will, with clear and forcible powers of expression, fully capable, when calm and collected, of an impressive statement of his opinions. Moreover, we are not disposed to doubt or deny his love for the Union or his genuine patriotism. We believe in his sincere hatred of slavery, - not as a moral wrong, but as a political evil; and in his full persuasion that it is dead past resurrection. But his mind is trained chiefly to contend, and is capable of vigor only in reasoning to a foregone conclusion. His will has personal passion for its chief inspiration and stiffening. He is weak in his moral perceptions and his instincts for right, angry at opposition, disdainful of counsel. Perilously open to flattery, and even soft to those who throw
themselves upon his mercy and protection, he is hard as the nether mill-stone to those who question his wisdom or dispute his will. He cannot distinguish between persons and principles. His opinions are passions; his resolutions, like the wild bull's, who shuts his eyes as he lowers his horns and makes his charge.
Mr. Lincoln kept his personality so in the background, that he could at once accept the wisdom of events, follow the leadings of Providence, welcome the counsel of the experienced, and accommodate the national policy to the turn of circumstances and the indication of the people's will. Mr. Johnson's personality is so huge and obtrusive that it blocks his own way, and makes the national problem a personal equation. He is a Southern man in every fibre of his being, with all the violent, unsubdued, obstinate, revolutionary qualities which mark that effete slave-system and the semi-civilization it produced. He is not accountable for his temperament, his blood, and the prejudices of his breeding. We are responsible for putting him where the one man's death could seat those prejudices and passions in the presidential chair. It is not so much to his discredit as to our peril, that his blood and breeding have proved themselves too strong for his promises or his original intentions. No man knows how he is going to use power till he has it. No man knows how the secret fibres of his will, steeped in unconscious dews of old associations and local sympathy, may suffer him to act, when he is suddenly in a position to do as he chooses. At such a crisis, a man's nature overpowers his will. Every man desires the approbation and confidence of his own immediate class and section, his birth-place and early playmates, more than that of all the world besides. And this familiar principle of human nature accounts for the unexpected zeal with which a Presi. dent, elected for his supposed hostility to the whole Southern policy, has, since he came to power, turned to the South as to his natural ally, - the most earnestly coveted approver and upholder of his course.
But how shall we account for the support which the President's re-actionary policy has received from the members of his cabinet ? We have no right to assume their deliberate want of principle, - no right to doubt their intelligence, their patriotism, or their uprightness. Mr. Seward, for instance, is a man of consummate ability and experience, a philosophical and practical statesman, familiar beyond any man in the land with public business, and possessed of natural faculties of the rarest kind. When we remember that for twenty years, almost single-handed, he led the anti-slavery fight under the Constitution, and by his prudence and persistency, his grasp of principles and command of himself, won the battle, so that to him, more than to all other men in this country, we owe the education of the political mind of the nation to anti-slavery sentiments; when we consider, besides, that his diplomatic adroitness, his mingled courage and pru. dence, staved off, during the whole war, the interposition of England and France, and enabled the country to concentrate its whole strength upon the rebellion, - it can be only with the greatest reluctance that we can attribute to such a political leader an unworthy motive or a blind policy. His adhesion to the President's policy can be explained perhaps without discredit to his principles, however damaging the explanation may seem to his judgment. Those men — and Mr. Seward above them all — who have shaped the foreign policy of the nation, and successfully conducted the war to its close, are naturally and pardonably anxious to believe that the whole work is done, that nothing of serious importance remains to be accomplished, or is to be dated from any later administration than their own. Tired and worn with their herculean labors, they think the nation as weary of struggle, as impatient for fixed and settled conclusions, as they are.
But the nation is resolved to bear the ills it has, great as they are, sooner than accept any anodyne or skin-deep remedy. Statesmen who have earned the love and gratitude of a whole generation may tell them, that it is safe to admit rebellious States, which have just laid down their arms, back to equal powers and rights with those which have spent half their substance, and a tithe of their young men, in resisting