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A Man of the People - A Drama of Abraham Lincoln
by Thomas Dixon
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[Bookplate: EX LIBRIS

The books, and your capacity for understanding them, are just the same in all places.

A. Lincoln]

WILLIAM H. TOWNSEND



A MAN OF THE PEOPLE

A DRAMA OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN



BY

THOMAS DIXON

AUTHOR OF "THE BIRTH OF A NATION," "THE CLANSMAN," "THE LEOPARD'S SPOTS," ETC.



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY NEW YORK LONDON MCMXX

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY THOMAS DIXON

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



TO

WILLIAM HARRIS, JR.

WHOSE COURAGE AND HIGH IDEALS AS A PRODUCER GAVE TO THE AMERICAN STAGE THE EPOCH-MAKING PLAY

ABRAHAM LINCOLN



HISTORICAL NOTE

While the popular conception of Lincoln as the Liberator of the Slave is true historically, there is a deeper view of his life and character. He was the savior, if not the real creator, of the American Union of free Democratic States. His proclamation of emancipation was purely an incident of war. The first policy of his administration was to save the Union. To this fact we owe a united Nation to-day. It is this truth of history which I try to make a living reality in my play.

The scenes relating to the issues of our National life have been drawn from authentic records. The plot of the action is based on the letter of Colonel John Nicolay to Major Hay, dated August 25, 1864, in which the following opening paragraph is found:

"Hell is to pay. The New York politicians have got a stampede on that is about to swamp everything. Raymond and the National Committee are here to-day. R. thinks a Commission to Richmond is about the only salt to save us; while the President sees and says it would be utter ruination. The matter is now undergoing consultation. Weak-kneed damned fools are in the movement for a new candidate to supplant the President. Everything is darkness, doubt, and discouragement."

No liberty has been taken with an essential detail of history in the development of the action except to slightly shift the dates of two incidents for dramatic unity. In neither case does the change of date affect the validity of the scene as used.

THOMAS DIXON



DIVISION INTO ACTS

PROLOGUE: The Lincoln cabin in the woods of Indiana, 1820.

ACT I: In the President's room, the morning of August 23, 1864.

ACT II: The same, that evening.

ACT III: Scene 1. Jefferson Davis' room three days later, in Richmond. Morning.

Scene 2. Same as Acts I and II.

EPILOGUE—VICTORY. The Platform of the second Inauguration, March 4, 1865, before the Capitol at Washington.



A MAN OF THE PEOPLE

PROLOGUE



PERSONS OF THE PROLOGUE

ABE A Boy of Ten. SARAH His Sister. TOM LINCOLN His Father. NANCY His Mother. THE DOCTOR An Old-fashioned Pioneer.



PROLOGUE

SET SCENE: The rough-hewn log cabin of Tom Lincoln is seen in the center surrounded by the forest wilderness of Southern Indiana, 1820.

The cabin door is cut in level with the ground. There is no shutter to the door and no window to the cabin.

Right and Left of the door opening are rude benches of split logs. On the walls are stretched a coon and a small bear, squirrel and muskrat skins. In the foreground on the right is seen an old-fashioned wash pot set on three stones. Near the wash pot is fixed in the ground a pole, on the top of which are hung six gourds cut for martin swallows to nest in. Beside it are a rude bench and two wash tubs. On the left is a crude settee made of a split log with legs set in augur holes and a rough back made of saplings. An old-fashioned doctor's saddle-bags hang across the back of the settee. The trees are walnut, beech and oak—undergrowth of dogwood, sumac and wild grapevines. These vines, festooned over the cabin, give a sinister impression. A creek winds down through the hills behind the cabin.

AT RISE: SARAH is seen softly tiptoeing toward the cabin door. She pauses, listens and slowly peeps inside. She listens again and then slips away and calls.

SARAH

Abe! Abe!

[SARAH goes back to the door and peeps in and runs to the gate.]

Abe——! Ma's awake now!

[She returns to the door, peeps in again and runs once more to the gate.]

Abe——! He's feelin' her pulse! Come on in—don't stay out there in the woods....

[ABE enters slowly.]

ABE

What does he say?

SARAH

He ain't said nothin' yet.

ABE

He's a dumb doctor, anyhow. I couldn't get him to say a word comin', last night.

SARAH

Well, he's here now, and there's his saddle-bags full of medicine. You've been ridin' all night—you look terrible tired! Go to bed and sleep a little——

ABE

I can't—while Ma's so sick—I'm afraid to go to sleep——

SARAH

Why——?

ABE

You know why—Sarah——

SARAH

Ah, she ain't goin' to die now. She's talkin' to the doctor—lie down just a little while and get to sleep before the sun comes up or ye can't sleep——

[Pleading.]

—come on——

ABE

No—I'm scared—the plague's killin' folks every day—and nobody knows what to do for 'em——

[The DOCTOR and TOM enter from the cabin and come down slowly—the DOCTOR seems to be debating his course of action.]

[Eagerly to DOCTOR.]

You can do somethin' for her, Doctor?

DOCTOR

[Hesitates.]

Yes—Get me a clean towel and a bowl——

ABE

Run, SARAH—quick——

SARAH

[Running to cabin.]

Yes—I'll get 'em——

[The DOCTOR opens his saddle-bags, takes out his lancet and examines its keen point.]

TOM

What are ye goin' ter do with that knife?

DOCTOR

Bleed her, of course—it's the only thing to do——

[Starts toward cabin.]

ABE

[To his father.]

Don't let him do it——!

DOCTOR

What's that?

TOM

You shan't bleed her—I don't know nothin' 'bout doctorin'—but I know that'll kill her——

DOCTOR

I've a notion to give you the worst cussin' you ever had in your life, Tom Lincoln....

TOM

'Twouldn't do no good—Doctor——

DOCTOR

[Throwing his arms up.]

'Twould do me good! I've rode all night—thirty-five miles—from my home in Kentucky across the Ohio, into this wilderness, just for you to insult me——

TOM

I didn't mean to——

DOCTOR

Well, you're doin' it—and I'd give ye the cussin' that'ud pay me for my trouble comin' up here—if I hadn't heard what you've been doin' for your neighbors, in this plague. There's no doctor in thirty miles—— You've been the doctor and nurse—mother and father to 'em all. And when they die, you go into the woods, cut down a tree, rip out the boards, make the coffin, dig the grave and lower the dead with a prayer—I'd like to cuss you, Tom Lincoln—but I can't—damn ye——!

TOM

I'm sorry, Doctor—but I just couldn't let ye bleed her——

DOCTOR

All right—good-by——

[With a snort of anger, the DOCTOR throws his lancet into his saddle-bags, snaps them together, and starts for the gate.]

ABE

[Following the DOCTOR to gate.]

Doctor——!

DOCTOR

What do ye want——?

ABE

[Seizing his hand.]

Please don't go—I'm mighty sorry we made ye mad—I didn't go to do it—you see——

[He falters.]

I love my Ma so, I just couldn't see ye cut her arm open. And Pa didn't mean to hurt yer feelin's—won't ye stay and help us? Can't ye do somethin' else for her——?

[Pauses.]

I'll pay ye——! I'll work for ye a whole—year——

DOCTOR

You'd work for me a year?

ABE

[Eagerly.]

I'll work for ye five years if you'll just save her—just save her life—that's all—don't go—please, don't——

DOCTOR

[The DOCTOR slips his arm around the boy, draws him close and holds him a moment.]

You're a good boy, Abe——

ABE

You'll stay——?

DOCTOR

I'd stay and do something if I could, Sonny, but to tell ye the truth, I don't know what to do—I'm not quite sure I'm right about the bleedin', or I'd stay and make you both help me——

[He pauses.]

But I'm not sure——! I'm not sure! And I don't know what else to do—I've got no medicine—so I can't stay. All I can tell ye is to keep her warm—and give her everything good to eat that she can take—she's in God's hands—Good-by——

[The DOCTOR hurries through the gate—and leaves ABE and TOM gazing forlornly after him, as SARAH comes from the house.]

SARAH

I've got the towel and bowl all ready——

[Pauses.]

What's the matter——?

[Looks around.]

Where's the doctor——?

ABE

He's gone——

SARAH

Gone——?

TOM

Yes——

[NANCY enters by door of cabin.]

[NANCY'S sudden appearance in the door swings ABE around with a quick cry of pain. The sun is tinging the eastern sky with the splendor of an Indian Summer morning. The mother's figure in blue homespun suggests against the dark background of the cabin door the coming of a spirit from the unseen world. She pauses a moment in the doorway and smiles at her son.]

ABE

Oh, Ma, you mustn't——

TOM

[Following.]

Nancy——!

NANCY

I'm better, I'm a lot better——

ABE

You're too sick to come out here, Ma——

NANCY

[Smiling.]

I can walk—as well as you can,—see——

[She sways slightly toward the settee.]

ABE

But the Doctor says you must keep warm——

NANCY

Well—I have on the warm stockings that Sarah knit for me and the coon skin moccasins you made—don't you see, I'm better now——?

ABE

[Joyfully.]

Look, Pa, she's better!

SARAH

Yes—she's better!

TOM

[Alarmed.]

Don't try to walk—set down, honey!

NANCY

[Sinking on bench.]

Yes—I will——

[The boy comes closer, staring eagerly into his mother's face.]

NANCY

Come closer, my boy——

[ABE kneels at her feet.]

TOM

I'm a feared of this, Nancy—you better let me git a hot rock and wrap it up for your feet.

NANCY

Yes, Tom—and bring me the Bible. I want Abe to read to me.

[TOM goes into the cabin worried over her.]

ABE

Feel all right, Ma——?

NANCY

[She nods and breathes deeply—her eyes alight.]

I wanted to see the sun rise through the trees! You remember the day you cut down your first tree to begin the clearing and the sunlight came through the hole you'd made to the sky——

ABE

Yes—I remember.

NANCY

You called me to come and see it——

ABE

[In a whisper.]

Yes——

NANCY

I was proud that morning as I saw you stand with your ax on that big log—anything my boy starts to do—he does——

[Pauses.]

Your father taught you to use the ax and——

[Turns and looks at ABE.]

Your father's a good man, my son—kind-hearted and true and everybody likes him. They made him road supervisor of his township in Kentucky once. If he could read and write he would have gone to the legislature——

[TOM enters from the cabin with the rock and Bible, he crosses to NANCY, and ABE takes the rock and puts it under her feet—SARAH kneels and helps him. NANCY'S hand drops on the bench. TOM picks up her hand, and the chill of it worries him.]

[ABE and SARAH rise.]

NANCY

Read to me, son—I like to hear your voice——

ABE

[Brightly.]

All right—what——?

NANCY

The Twenty-third Psalm.

[ABE looks for the place.]

I love to hear you read, my boy. It means that you can do what any other man can—it means so much!

ABE

[Reads.]

The Lord is my shepherd—I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake——

NANCY

[In a whisper.]

Yea, tho' I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me——

[ABE stops, looks up at his mother in amazement.]

ABE

Ma——

NANCY

Remember always, my boy, that God is with you! He is in the day and the night. He is in the sun and the wind, the trees and the grass—and not a sparrow falls to the ground without He knows. You recollect the year you put up those gourds there——

[She points to the pole.]

for your martins——? You cried when they circled away in the fall——

[ABE nods.]

I told you God would send them back in the spring, didn't I——?

[She laughs softly.]

You said that He'd forget to tell them and they'd never find the way—but they came—didn't they——?

ABE

Yes, Ma, and I know now they'll come again next spring.

NANCY

So—I want you never again to doubt God, my boy, and I want you never to doubt yourself. Your bare feet, your ragged clothes, how poor you are—this is nothing! It doesn't count here—it's what you feel, it's what you believe—it's what you see that counts! I've taught you to read and write, and now you can do anything! If God takes me——

[She pauses exhausted.]

ABE

But you mustn't say that, Ma——!

NANCY

"The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether!"

ABE

No! no, Ma! Don't talk that way! You'll give up if you do——!

NANCY

If He calls, my son, then my work is done—and you can do all I've tried and failed to do——

ABE

[Alarmed.]

Had she better talk so much, Pa——

[Stoops to fix her feet.]

TOM

[Feeling her hand.]

Nancy——!

NANCY

Just a minute more, Tom——! Don't let him know yet—you know——!

TOM

[With upward look of faith.]

Yes, I know——

[To ABE.]

It's all right—boy——

NANCY

Come back close, my son, I want to tell you something I saw last night! I had a dream—the same one I had the night before you were born. You had grown a man—strong and brave—wise and gentle. The people hung on your words, and did you homage. But you remembered this cabin here in the deep woods and you were humble. I walked with you between two white pillars. It was still and solemn, in there. Outside I could hear the people calling your name. You bowed low and whispered in my ear: "This is all yours, my Mother. I bought it for you with my life. All that I am I owe to you——"

[Her voice sinks to a whisper that is half a laugh of religious ecstasy.]

ABE

[Joyfully.]

See how she's smilin'—Pa! She's getting well—I tell you——!

TOM

[Whispering.]

Don't ye understand, boy——?

ABE

No—what——?

SARAH

What—what is it——?

TOM

[In deep religious awe.]

Look—look at her eyes——! She's not telling ye a dream—she's looking through the gates of Heaven——

ABE

No—no—no——!

TOM

It's death—boy—it's come—Lord, God, have mercy——

[ABE springs to his feet and stares in anguish, as TOM falls on his knees beside NANCY. NANCY'S hand rests gently on TOM'S shaggy head, while he sobs. With her other hand she feels for ABE'S and holds it feebly.]

NANCY

Be good to your Father,——

[She pauses and breathes with difficulty.]

In the days to come, he will be the child and you the man——

ABE

Yes——

NANCY

And love your sister——

[ABE nods.]

If dark hours come, my spirit will be watching, my son—and I'll help you if I can——

ABE

Yes, I know it!

NANCY

And remember that you can be a great man in this free country if you only say—I will——

[NANCY'S body sinks in death as the boy lifts his face illumined by the light of a great purpose.]

ABE

Yes, Ma,—I will!

CURTAIN



PERSONS OF THE PLAY

ABRAHAM LINCOLN The President. MRS. LINCOLN His Wife. COLONEL NICOLAY His Secretary. EDWARD The Doorman. EDWIN M. STANTON Secretary of War. GEN. GEO. B. MCCLELLAN Lincoln's Rival. CAPTAIN VAUGHAN Of the U. S. Army. BETTY WINTER His Sweetheart. THADDEUS STEVENS Leader of Congress. HENRY RAYMOND Editor of the New York Times. JOHN R. GILMORE Of the New York Tribune. COLONEL JACQUESS A Methodist Clergyman. JEFFERSON DAVIS President of the Confederacy. JUDAH P. BENJAMIN His Secretary of State. JUDGE ROBERT OULD Commissioner of Exchange. ROBERT E. LEE Commanding General. A SISTER Who begs for her brother's life. A CONGRESSMAN Who demands a hearing. A LITTLE GIRL From Virginia. A MOTHER With a baby. A WOMAN Who has lost two sons. A TELEGRAPH OPERATOR In the White House. A DOORMAN At Richmond. COMMITTEEMEN, SOLDIERS AND GUARDS.



ACT I

SET SCENE: The President's room in the White House, August 23, 1864. A flat desk left center. At right a long table and chairs. Doors open right and left. Large windows open center. Beside the center window stands an upright desk. In one corner a rack with map rollers and folios of maps on the floor and leaning against the wall.

AT RISE: Colonel Nicolay, the President's Secretary, is seen writing before an enormous pile of mail. He reads a letter and throws it down in disgust. Reads another and hurls it into the waste basket. He rises—turns back to the desk and hurls an armful of the letters into the corner on the floor and removes enough letters to clear a space for his Chief to write.

[EDWARD enters dragging a mail bag.]

NICOLAY

[Calling to the Doorman.]

Edward!

EDWARD

Yes, sir——

NICOLAY

Hold that door tight this morning——

EDWARD

Tight as a drum, sir——

NICOLAY

If any men of importance try to crowd in before their time——

EDWARD

I'll look out for them, sir—here's another bag of letters, Colonel Nicolay——

NICOLAY

Another——?

EDWARD

And there's two more outside——

NICOLAY

My God——!

EDWARD

Don't blame me, sir—I didn't write 'em——

NICOLAY

No, I'll vouch for your loyalty to the President.

EDWARD

Where'll I put these——?

NICOLAY

Throw the bag in the corner—there's no room on his desk now——

EDWARD

[Obeying.]

Yes, sir——

[EDWARD throws the bag in the corner of the room where NICOLAY has already piled the letters from the desk, and turns to NICOLAY. He watches NICOLAY destroying letters for a moment.]

NICOLAY

Well, Edward——?

EDWARD

Will you tell me one thing, Colonel Nicolay——?

NICOLAY

If I can——

EDWARD

What do they say in these letters to the President——? I've served through four administrations—I've never seen such piles of letters in the White House before——

NICOLAY

Well, Edward—these letters ask two things of Abraham Lincoln: That he dismiss General Grant from command of the Army——

EDWARD

The idiots——

NICOLAY

And stop the war to-day—August 23, 1864,—make peace—peace at any price—to-day——

EDWARD

God save us! After nearly four years—quit, with nothing settled——?

NICOLAY

That's what these letters demand——

EDWARD

You couldn't believe it—— No wonder his eyes sink back in his head, an' he looks as if he were seeing ghosts——

[Pauses and starts.]

NICOLAY

Watch out for that door, Edward——

[EDWARD bows, and exits to door leading to the main corridor. NICOLAY returns to his task of reading the letters—one he tosses into the basket wearily—one he crumples in anger and hurls into the basket.]

NICOLAY

The fools——!

[He is absorbed in a letter when MRS. LINCOLN enters in a state of nervous excitement. He rises quickly, and goes to meet her.]

What is it, Mrs. Lincoln——?

MRS. LINCOLN

I have just heard that the Republican National Committee is in Washington——!

NICOLAY

They are——

MRS. LINCOLN

In conference at Senator Winter's house——?

NICOLAY

Yes——

MRS. LINCOLN

What do they want?

NICOLAY

There are ugly rumors——

MRS. LINCOLN

What——? What——? What——?

NICOLAY

I can't discuss it, Madam, until the Chief knows——

MRS. LINCOLN

Mr. Lincoln doesn't know——

NICOLAY

Not yet. He will, this morning. They've just sent a demand to me that he see them before his public reception begins——

MRS. LINCOLN

You've heard something—you know something—tell me—I can't endure the suspense——

NICOLAY

Only rumors—and they're too ugly to put into words—they're incredible——

MRS. LINCOLN

All the same, you believe them——

[Impetuously.]

What have you heard——?

NICOLAY

[Shakes his head.]

The Chief wouldn't like it if I talk, before he knows. I'll tell you a few things I'm thinking in plain English—if you'd like to hear——

MRS. LINCOLN

You can't make it too plain to suit me——

NICOLAY

In my opinion, the devil is to pay. Weak-kneed fools are deserting the Chief. Every man who loves Abraham Lincoln must get off his coat now and fight. He is the only man who can save this Nation to-day, and he's too big and generous to be trusted alone with wolves——

MRS. LINCOLN

What can you mean——? The Republican National Committee have no power over the President of the United States——

NICOLAY

No, Madam—— But they have certain powers over the Nominee of their party——

MRS. LINCOLN

But Mr. Lincoln is already the nominee of his party for the second term ... chosen two months ago—and the election is but eight weeks off—what do you mean——?

[EDWARD enters.]

EDWARD

Miss Betty Winter to see you, Ma'am——

MRS. LINCOLN

How fortunate—they're at her father's house——!

NICOLAY

Yes——

MRS. LINCOLN

Show her right in here, Edward——

EDWARD

Yes, Madam——

MRS. LINCOLN

[To NICOLAY.]

And she's loyal to Mr. Lincoln—

EDWARD

[At door left.]

Right this way,—Miss Betty——

[BETTY enters—a young woman 25 years old—poised, cultured, charming.]

MRS. LINCOLN

[Meeting Betty.]

Welcome—my child——

BETTY

You're always so kind——!

NICOLAY

Excuse me, ladies—while I go out and get rid of some of these people waiting to see the President——

[NICOLAY exits.]

MRS. LINCOLN

Tell me, dear, you've heard something—the Republican National Committee are at your father's——

BETTY

They were there—they've adjourned to Thaddeus Stevens' house across the street from us—— They were locked in with father for two hours——

MRS. LINCOLN

Locked in——?

BETTY

[Nods.]

With the keyhole chinked up——!

MRS. LINCOLN

And you didn't get a hint of what they're up to——?

BETTY

Not the faintest——

MRS. LINCOLN

Oh, Betty—they're discussing me——

BETTY

They didn't mention your name——

MRS. LINCOLN

How do you know——?

BETTY

Well—I did hear a little——! I could hear from the next room when they got excited! It's Abraham Lincoln they're discussing—not his wife——

MRS. LINCOLN

You're sure——?

BETTY

Sure——! It sounded like a regular dog fight—with one big brute howling——

[Imitates.]

—the President's name above the din——

MRS. LINCOLN

But, you can't be sure, my dear——

BETTY

What on earth could they be discussing you for——?

MRS. LINCOLN

My loyalty, of course—you know that my brothers are in the Southern Army, fighting the Union. Fools have accused me of giving them important secrets of the Government. When I hate them for all they have done to me and mine——!

BETTY

But my dear Mrs. Lincoln—no one believes such lies about you now—not even in this bitter campaign—it's absurd——

MRS. LINCOLN

[Hesitates.]

That is not the real thing I'm afraid of, child—it's something worse—I'm going to take you into my confidence now—may I?

BETTY

I'll be tickled to death with the honor——!

MRS. LINCOLN

And I'm going to ask you to help me——

BETTY

I'll be in the Cabinet next——!

MRS. LINCOLN

The truth is, I owe A. T. Stewart and Company an enormous bill for dresses—$60,000——

BETTY

Sixty thousand—oh, my Lord! That's worse than mine——!

MRS. LINCOLN

I had to get them! The world said the White House would be disgraced by my awkward husband's regime—I've shown them better! But I just couldn't tell Mr. Lincoln. He has no idea of the cost of clothes. If these jackals have found out and attack him on my account, the thought of it will kill me——

BETTY

But you know he'd defend you against any one who dares attack you.

MRS. LINCOLN

Yes, dear—but it would hurt him so to hear it from their brutal lips. I want you to find out from your father, if they know——

BETTY

And if they know——?

MRS. LINCOLN

Get here before they do, and I'll head them off—I'll tell Mr. Lincoln first——

BETTY

[Smiling.]

On one condition—that you help me——

MRS. LINCOLN

Anything you ask——

BETTY

I've promised my fiance that I would get an appointment for him to see the President on something very important——

MRS. LINCOLN

Mr. Lincoln will be here in a few minutes. I'll have him see your sweetheart first——

BETTY

But—it's a personal matter and he doesn't wish to come to a public reception. He wants an hour alone—— Could you get it for him, to-night?

MRS. LINCOLN

I—think—so——

BETTY

You'll try——?

MRS. LINCOLN

I'll do it, child—certainly! You're one loyal friend we have in that crowd of wolves on the Capitol Hill——

BETTY

All right, I'll find out if they're discussing politics or your dressmaker's bill.

[BETTY hurries to the door, followed by MRS. LINCOLN.]

MRS. LINCOLN

God bless you, child——

[NICOLAY enters by the other door.]

—Hurry!

BETTY

If it's dresses—I'll beat them to the White House!

[BETTY exits.]

NICOLAY

The President is coming, Madam——

MRS. LINCOLN

I'm going. But I may want to see him before that Committee—in case I send in—see that he comes, will you?

NICOLAY

I'll try to manage it. The friends of the Chief may call on you for some inside work, Madam.

MRS. LINCOLN

[Eagerly.]

I'll do my part, never fear!

[MRS. LINCOLN exits and NICOLAY hastily arranges his desk and stands at attention as LINCOLN enters.]

[LINCOLN crosses the room with long nervous stride, reaches his desk, looks at the pile of letters and shakes his head wearily.]

LINCOLN

Sorry for you, John, with all these letters on your hands——

[Laughs.]

You have to work——!

NICOLAY

I'm trying to get them out of your way, sir——

LINCOLN

Thank you—you know the ones I want to see——

NICOLAY

Yes, sir——

LINCOLN

[Softly.]

And don't forget that no man or woman can be turned from that door, who comes here to ask for the saving of a human life——

[Pauses.]

There's a firing squad shooting a boy down in Virginia this morning——!

[Shakes his head.]

I hope I didn't do wrong to let them. Somehow I could not find an excuse to save him——

[Sighs.]

The Generals are all after me about my pardons——

NICOLAY

The Secretary of War is out there now, champing his bit, to head you off on some of them, I think——

LINCOLN

Don't let old Mars in yet. He's no business here at this hour. Let him paw a hole in the ground.

[Pauses.]

Any news from the front, this morning?

NICOLAY

[Handing him a telegram.]

From General Grant's lines—only this, sir——

LINCOLN

[Reads.]

"Confederate Cavalry raiders capture a Brigadier General and fifty army mules."—Too bad—rush a regiment after the mules—they're worth $200 a piece—Jeff Davis can have my Brigadier General——!

NICOLAY

[Laughs.]

Yes, sir—and this came in code from Sherman—

[Hands LINCOLN another telegram.]

LINCOLN

[Eagerly.]

Word from Sherman! Good!

[Reads.]

—"Scouts report Hood's trenches before Atlanta are impregnable—carefully considering a flank movement—but as yet, I cannot find the position or strength of Hood's second line——" W. T. Sherman——

[Pauses.]

Grant's deadlocked with Lee at Petersburg—If-Sherman-could-only-give-us-Atlanta!——

[Pauses.]

I've a notion to telegraph Sherman an order direct——!

NICOLAY

I wouldn't go over General Grant's head, sir, with a military order—he's sensitive——

LINCOLN

It might make trouble—Grant might resent my interference with his plan of campaign——

NICOLAY

It would have to be filed in the War Department——

LINCOLN

Yes—I know. Anything else——?

NICOLAY

[Handing him a large document.]

Baker's full report of the secret service on the Copperhead Societies—— He asks for the immediate arrest of their leaders—and I think he's right——

LINCOLN

[Shakes his head.]

It won't do—it won't do just now—it's an ugly business—too ugly for haste—I'll look it over carefully——

[Lays the report on his desk.]

I'm ready now to see the people——

NICOLAY

The Republican National Committee are in town, sir——

LINCOLN

What on earth are they doing here——?

NICOLAY

That's what everybody's asking——

LINCOLN

They should be in their States, leading the Party to victory—— What do they want?

NICOLAY

To see you——

LINCOLN

Umph——!

NICOLAY

Henry Raymond, their Chairman, is with them, and has just sent word demanding a hearing before your public reception this morning.

LINCOLN

Make the appointment later. They're all distinguished men. They can wait while the humbler people have their turn. I came up here from the wilderness. I know what it means to have the great rush by me——

[Laughs.]

No—I'll see the common folks first——

NICOLAY

I think you'd better see this Committee right away, sir——

LINCOLN

Why——? What have you heard——?

NICOLAY

Some ugly rumors——

LINCOLN

Spare me the rumors! We've enough of them flying around Washington to poison us all. They can only wish me to hedge on some of my principles in this crisis. I've made all the campaign statements I'm going to make. I've faith in the good sense of the people. I'm going to plant my feet squarely on that faith and wait the verdict of this election——

NICOLAY

You won't see the Committee now——?

LINCOLN

No——! I'll take my bath of public opinion first. I want to see real men and women and feel their hearts beat close to mine. It tones me up for the day's work—let them in.

[STANTON bursts into the room in a towering rage.]

STANTON

Mr. President, I've been kept waiting!

[Confronting NICOLAY.]

[NICOLAY turns away and laughs.]

Nicolay! How dare you keep me waiting in an anteroom, while you talk to the President! I want you to understand, sir, that as Secretary of War, I've the right to enter this room at any hour, day or night, announced or unannounced, and by God, I'm going to exercise that privilege!

[STANTON paces the floor furiously.]

LINCOLN

[Laughing.]

Well, you're here now, and it's all right, Stanton—Easy! Easy, or we'll have to put some rocks in your pocket to hold you down. What can I do——?

STANTON

Mr. President, I've come here this morning to make a square issue with you on the abuse of the pardoning power which you are making daily——

LINCOLN

As Chief Magistrate of the people, I have been clothed with that power, Stanton——

STANTON

[Angrily.]

You have no right to exercise it under the present conditions! Discipline in our armies must be maintained. You are hamstringing me and every General in the field—by suspending the death penalty of our Courts-Martial. Men are deserting in thousands and we've got to put a stop to it.

LINCOLN

That's what I say——! Bring to me the traitors who are causing them to desert, and see what I'll do to them!

STANTON

You can't evade the issue I'm making, sir! You'll be asked this morning to pardon a deserter. I call a halt here and now—will you stop to-day the use of this pardoning power——?

LINCOLN

I've got to hear both sides—it's my solemn duty——

STANTON

All right, I'm done. There's my resignation as your Secretary of War—Good-by!

[STANTON strides angrily to the door and LINCOLN speaks as he puts his hand on the knob.]

LINCOLN

Wait a minute——

STANTON

It's no use——

LINCOLN

Come back here. I've something to say to you.

[STANTON returns.]

STANTON

You're wasting your breath——

LINCOLN

Stanton, I appointed you Secretary of War against the advice of every man about me. You were a cantankerous Democrat and my enemy. You had said the meanest things about me that were ever spoken in Washington—and that's putting it pretty strong. You called me a low clown—the original gorilla. In spite of all this, I saw your great qualities! I saw that you were absolutely fearless and absolutely honest, that your nerves were made of steel and your capacity for work was boundless. Even in your passions and hatreds, you showed a loyalty to the Union that rose above the parties and creeds of a lifetime. I like men of your strong personality. They stand between a nation and hell. And so, I appointed you, my bitter foe, to my cabinet. I've never regretted it for a minute in these years of blood and anguish. You've made the best Secretary of War this country ever had. In spite of your mean traits and your awful profanity, I've learned to love you! Now, you've resigned, and done your duty, as you see it. I've accepted your resignation, conscripted you again, and reappointed you——!

[Pauses and strokes his shoulder.]

Go back to your desk and stick to the rules—that's your business; and I'll keep right on here tempering Justice with Mercy when I get a chance.

STANTON

[Gazing at him a moment hopelessly.]

Well,—I suppose I'll have to try——!

[Snorts.]

But—I'm—damned—if—you—interfere—with—me—again!

[STANTON hurries to the door.]

LINCOLN

All right now—— But look here, Stanton——

[STANTON pauses.]

If I have to send over a pardon or two to you this morning——

STANTON

Hell fire!

LINCOLN

Easy—easy now! You'll know they're very urgent, and will admit of no delay on account of red tape——

STANTON

[Throws his hands up in wild gesture of despair.]

Oh, my God!

[STANTON exits.]

LINCOLN

John, the old Fox was trying to head me off, wasn't he——? Get them in here quick—who's the first in turn——?

NICOLAY

A young lady to plead for the life of her brother——

LINCOLN

Bring her in!

[As NICOLAY goes to the door, LINCOLN follows to meet the young woman. She enters, a forlorn little figure with baby face and blonde hair. She is plainly dressed in homespun cloth and does not wear hoopskirts. The President greets her with the utmost deference.]

[Taking both her hands.]

My dear young lady—I'm glad to see you—good old Pennsylvania Dutch! I knew you before you spoke—my folks came down to Virginia from there, in the old Colonial days——

THE SISTER

[Overcome.]

Oh—Meester—Presiden—you are so goot to me—you are so kind——

[Pauses overcome.]

I haf no speech——

LINCOLN

Come now, tell me in your own way what I can do to help you——

THE SISTER

Oh—Meester Presiden—you can do all—you can do any t'ing—und I am so happy to see you—I cannot begin——

LINCOLN

[Soothing her.]

Take your time, little girl—all the others will have to wait on you now——

THE SISTER

Ya-ya—it is my turn now—ya, und I must hurry. You see, it's mine brudder—he ist just von leetle poy, Meester Presiden—von leetle poy with curly hair like mine——

[She chokes.]

LINCOLN

[Taking her hand.]

And what happened to him, my dear?

THE SISTER

Vell, you see he lif wid me in Pennsylvania—ve are all alone to-gedder—und he lef me und go into der armee—und von bad man he giv him a leetle book vot tell him to desert und go home to his peoples—I haf dot leetle book, Meester Presiden——

[She hands him the book.]

Und my brudder he's such a leetle poy, he read und he tink vot ze book say is so, und he leef ze armee und come home und kiss me und say, "I vill take care of you now, mein seester——"

[Breaks down.]

Und zey come und take heem, und now he is to be shot——

[She chokes.]

[LINCOLN reads the title of the little book.]

LINCOLN

"Why should Brothers Fight?" "By Richard Vaughan"—an old Copperhead leader I'll warrant!

[Pauses.]

And you came to me, all alone, little girl?

THE SISTER

Ya—I haf no friens here——

LINCOLN

Your Congressman does not know of this?

[NICOLAY begins to make out the pardon.]

THE SISTER

I do not know ze Congress-man—mein leetle brudder is all I haf——

LINCOLN

Alone, friendless—with no Congressman to speak for you! Well, little girl, you don't need anybody to speak for you—you speak for yourself—you're good and honest and love your brother—and by jings, you don't wear hoopskirts—I'm sorry to rile old Stanton again——

[Laughs.]

But I'm going to pardon your brother——!

THE SISTER

[Seizes and kisses his hand.]

Oh—Meester Presiden—I praise ze good God——

LINCOLN

There! There! Now, don't do that, you'll have me crying in a minute and John Nicolay here will see me——

THE SISTER

Ya! Meester Nicolay—won't mind—he so kind to me too——

[NICOLAY has prepared the pardon and the President signs and hands it to her.]

THE SISTER

[Seizing the pardon.]

Wiz all my heart!

LINCOLN

[To NICOLAY.]

Send her to Stanton, and tell him to rush that order to stay the execution. They shall not shoot this poor boy, ignorant of our laws, but if he can find the man who put that little book——

[Holds up book.]

into his hand, advising desertion—I'll hang him on a gallows forty cubits high!

[He lays the booklet on his desk.]

[NICOLAY writes on the back of the pardon.]

THE SISTER

[Joyfully.]

Mein brudder he vill go back und he vill be von goot poy for you, Meester Presiden——

LINCOLN

Yes, I know he will, my child, I know he will. Good-by, and God bless you.

THE SISTER

Und God bless you, Meester Presiden——!

[NICOLAY pauses at the door and gives orders to the doorman.]

NICOLAY

Edward, take her to the War Office with this message——

EDWARD

Yes, sir——

CONGRESSMAN

I demand to see the President at once——

NICOLAY

I can't admit you, Mr. Congressman, just now——

CONGRESSMAN

[Forcing his way in.]

I demand it, sir——

[LINCOLN crosses to the door.]

LINCOLN

What is it, John——

CONGRESSMAN

Mr. President, I have been here three times! I demand the right to see you—to ask the pardon of one of my constituents.

LINCOLN

All right! Out with it!

CONGRESSMAN

He is one of the solid citizens of Massachusetts; a slave trader whose ship has been confiscated. He has spent five years in prison, and cannot pay the heavy fine in money imposed—— He is not a bad man at heart.

LINCOLN

And he wants me to pardon him—this slave-trader——!

CONGRESSMAN

I ask it as a matter of justice—he has paid the penalty—five long years in prison——

LINCOLN

[Laughs.]

I might pardon a murderer from old Massachusetts, she's done glorious service in this war—but a man who can make a business of going to Africa and robbing her of helpless men, women and children and selling them into bondage——!

[He pauses and stiffens.]

—before that man can have liberty by any act of mine, he can stay in jail and rot!

NICOLAY

[To the Congressman.]

Now, you've got it——!

CONGRESSMAN

[Crestfallen.]

Yes—I heard it——

LINCOLN

[Turning back to his desk, and examining his papers.]

Good—— Bring in the next one, John!

[As NICOLAY exits with the Congressman who continues to talk in loud tones, a sweet little girl of twelve slips by and reaches the President's desk unannounced. The President has taken his seat and is writing. While the President continues to write, the little girl slips close and watches him wistfully. He lifts his head, sees her, and smiles.]

Why, what a wee girl—and you got in here all by yourself——?

VIRGINIA

I slipped in when no one was looking——

LINCOLN

Did you? What did you do that for?

VIRGINIA

I was afraid they wouldn't let me in, if they knew what I wanted——

LINCOLN

[Tenderly.]

And what do you want?

VIRGINIA

If you please, sir—a pass to go through the lines to Virginia—my brother's there—he was shot in the last battle—and I want to see him.

LINCOLN

Of course, you do—and you shall too.

[He seizes his pen, writes a pass and hands it to her.]

VIRGINIA

[Breathlessly.]

Oh, thank you—thank you!

LINCOLN

[Casually placing his hand on her head.]

Of course, you're loyal——?

[VIRGINIA'S lips quiver, she hesitates, looks up into his face through dimmed eyes, and her slender body stiffens as she slowly speaks.]

VIRGINIA

Yes—loyal—with all my heart—to Virginia!

[The trembling little fingers hand the pass back as the tears roll down her cheeks. LINCOLN looks away to hide from her his own emotion, stoops and takes her hand in his. His voice is low and tender and full of feeling.]

LINCOLN

I know what it cost you to say that, child. You're a brave little girl! And I'll love you always for this glimpse you've given me of a great spirit and a great people. That's why I can't let the South go—— They can't leave this Union. We need them—— Now I can trust you——?

VIRGINIA

[Eagerly.]

Yes, sir!

[NICOLAY enters with a young mother and baby and hesitates at sight of the little girl.]

LINCOLN

Come on in, John—it's all right. I'm about through with this young lady——

[NICOLAY brings the young mother to the desk and LINCOLN takes VIRGINIA down stage.]

Come down here, dear, so old man Nicolay can't hear us—he mightn't understand.

[He sits on a chair and draws the girl close.]

You see, I understand you—and can trust you implicitly. Now if I give you back this and let you go—will you promise me that no word shall pass your lips of what you've seen inside our lines?

VIRGINIA

Oh, yes—I promise——!

LINCOLN

[Handing her the pass.]

May God speed the day, child, when your people and mine shall no longer be enemies——

VIRGINIA

Thank you, sir!

LINCOLN

Run now!

[VIRGINIA exits. At the door she throws him a kiss.]

[LINCOLN comes quickly to the mother and greets her cheerily.]

Well, little mother, what's the matter?

[She hesitates and appeals to NICOLAY.]

NICOLAY

Tell him yourself——

THE MOTHER

[Trembling.]

If you please, sir, we ain't been married but a little over a year, and my husband's never seen the baby——

LINCOLN

That's too bad——

THE MOTHER

He's in the army and I couldn't stand it any longer—so I came down to Washington to get a pass to take the baby to him. But he wouldn't let me have it at the War Office——

LINCOLN

[Laughs.]

I'll bet old Mars wouldn't—Phew!

[Pauses and turns to NICOLAY.]

What do you say. John—let's send her down?

NICOLAY

The strictest orders have been issued to allow no more women to go to the front——

LINCOLN

Humph——! Well, I'll tell you what we can do—give her husband a leave of absence, and let him come up here to see them!

THE MOTHER

[Laughing and crying.]

You don't mind my laughing, do you? I just can't help it—I can't stop! I can't stop laughing!

LINCOLN

Laugh and cry as much as you please—but tell me where are you stopping?

THE MOTHER

Nowhere yet, sir——

LINCOLN

How's that?

THE MOTHER

I went straight from the depot to the War Office and then I just walked the street blind with crying till I made up my mind to come here.

LINCOLN

We'll fix that then! Nicolay will write you an order that will take you and your baby to a good hospital and care for you till your husband comes—and fix it so he can stay here a week with you——

THE MOTHER

[Laughs.]

I just can't thank you! I'm so happy, all I can do is to laugh!

LINCOLN

Laugh on, little mother—and off with you now—clear out!

[The mother goes out laughing.]

[NICOLAY shows the little mother out and returns to LINCOLN.]

NICOLAY

The deputation of colored men whom you asked to come this morning are waiting, sir—will you see them now?

LINCOLN

At once——

[LINCOLN turns to his desk and takes up a document containing his plan of Colonization and examines it as NICOLAY and three well-dressed colored men enter. They are typical Africans.]

FIRST NEGRO

[Bowing deferentially.]

Mr. President——!

SECOND NEGRO

[Tenderly.]

Our Father Abraham——

THIRD NEGRO

[With religious feeling.]

We salute our Savior!

LINCOLN

Welcome, my friends. I have sent for you this morning to place in your hands a copy of my plan for colonization and to ask your help——

FIRST NEGRO

Yes, sir——

[The ebony faces with their cream white teeth showing in smiles and their wide rolling eyes make a striking contrast to the rugged face and poise of the President.]

LINCOLN

Your race is suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. On this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours——

FIRST NEGRO

It's so—yes, it's so——!

LINCOLN

Go where you are treated best and the ban is still upon you. I cannot alter it if I would. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. For the sake of your people you should sacrifice something of your present comfort.

FIRST NEGRO

Let our great leader show us the way——

LINCOLN

The Colony of Liberia is an old one, and it is open to you. I am now arranging to open another in Central America. You are intelligent and know that success does not so much depend on external help as on self-reliance. If you will engage in the enterprise I will spend the money Congress has entrusted to me for this purpose. I ask you to consider it seriously, not for yourselves merely, nor for your race and ours for the present time, BUT FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND.

FIRST NEGRO

We will, sir——!

LINCOLN

The practical thing I want to ascertain is whether I can get a number of able-bodied men with their wives and children to go at once—men who "can cut their own fodder" so to speak——? Take this plan, show it to your people——

[Hands the document to the First Negro.]

—and find this out for me——

FIRST NEGRO

We'll do our best——

THIRD NEGRO

[Bowing out with religious ecstasy.]

Praise God forever for our Savior-Leader——!

[NICOLAY ushers out the three Negroes and shows in a stately black-robed figure in mourning for her dead. She walks quietly to the President and extends her hand with a gracious smile.]

THE WOMAN

Perhaps I've done wrong to take up your time——

LINCOLN

My time belongs to the people, Madam——

THE WOMAN

I've come to you, Mr. President, under an impulse I could not resist. Mr. Stoddard, your third Secretary, is my friend. He told me this morning that all night the sound of your footfall came from this room. He heard it at nine, at ten, at eleven. At midnight the Secretary of War left the door ajar and the steady tramp came with heavier sound. The last thing he heard at three was the muffled beat upstairs. The guard said it had not stopped at daylight. I saw you staggering alone under a Nation's sorrow and I wondered if you had been given the vision to see the dawn of a new life for our people. I know I'm looking into the eyes of the man whose word can stop this war and divide the Union—I have come to tell you that I lost my first born son at Fredericksburg—a lad of twenty——

[She pauses and LINCOLN bends and presses her hand.]

May God help you in your trials, Mr. President, as he has helped me in mine——

LINCOLN

[Startled.]

You lost your first born at Fredericksburg and come to say this to me?

THE WOMAN

And I've been praying for you, day and night since——

LINCOLN

[Softly.]

Will you say that again, Madam——

THE WOMAN

I have been praying for you, day and night, and I've come this morning to bring you this message—Be strong and courageous, and God will bring the Nation through!

LINCOLN

You say this to me—standing beside the grave of your son?

THE WOMAN

And beside the cot of my other boy of sixteen who was dangerously wounded in General Grant's last battle. I am proud of two such sons to lay on the altar of my country. I had to tell you that I'm praying for you.

[LINCOLN closes both hands over hers and holds them a moment in silence.]

LINCOLN

[With upward gaze.]

How strange that you should come to me in this black hour with such a message. I've often wondered if the soul of my mother were not speaking to me! The day she died in the woods of Indiana, she told me that if dark hours came, her spirit would be watching, and she'd help me if she could! While you were talking to me—I got the tremor of her voice and the quiver of her lips—how strange!

[Looking down into her face.]

Thank you, Madam! You have brought me medicine for both body and soul.

[LINCOLN presses her hand again and she quietly goes as he gazes after her.]

[NICOLAY starts to follow her to the door—LINCOLN lifts his hand.]

John, I'm rested now—I'm ready for any work——!

NICOLAY

The National Committee have just arrived, sir.

LINCOLN

All right—let them in!

[LINCOLN resumes his place beside his desk and the Committee headed by HENRY RAYMOND, Editor of the New York Times, enter and solemnly range themselves about the President.]

[To HENRY RAYMOND—taking his hand formally.]

Raymond, this is an unexpected honor you and your Committee do me. I thought you were at your desk in the Times office pouring hot shot into the flanks of our enemies, and the boys were all at home fighting for the victory that must be ours on the first Tuesday in November. Not that you're unwelcome. You are the leaders of public opinion. The people rule this country, and I am their servant—what is it——?

RAYMOND

You may be sure, Mr. President, that our mission is of the gravest importance. These gentlemen have brought such startling reports from their several states as to the bitterness and closeness of the fight, that they have reached a unanimous conclusion——

LINCOLN

And that is——?

RAYMOND

That with your personality and record against General McClellan's, your Democratic opponent—the election for us is lost.

LINCOLN

Your statement is blunt. But, as I have been renominated for a second term, my administration has been endorsed by our party, and the election is only eight weeks off—there is but one conclusion possible—and that is, that you should roll up your sleeves and get to work.

RAYMOND

The National Committee, Mr. President, has reached a different conclusion——

LINCOLN

Yes——?

RAYMOND

In view of your unpopularity, in view of the criticism of your policies, and your conduct of the war—they have decided to ask you to withdraw from the ticket and permit them to name a new candidate——

LINCOLN

[Springing to his feet.]

What——!

RAYMOND

I have stated it bluntly——

LINCOLN

And this is your unanimous verdict, gentlemen——?

ALL

Yes.

LINCOLN

[Paces the floor a moment and then faces the Committee.]

It surpasses human belief! Future generations will hold it incredible—that you, my party leaders, should heap this insult upon the man who led you to your first and only victory. That you should come here to-day to ask me to quit under fire, to sacrifice without a blow all I hold worth fighting for on this earth——!

RAYMOND

The Committee made their request solely on the ground of patriotic duty—and ask you for the sacrifice upon the same grounds. They have found it impossible to defend your policies——

LINCOLN

[Brusquely.]

What policies?

RAYMOND

Understand me, Mr. President—I am telling you the conclusion of this Committee——

LINCOLN

All right, Raymond—fire away—spare me the oratory, please—just give me the plain reasons, one at a time, why you wish me to get off the ticket——

RAYMOND

The first policy found indefensible has been your handling of the border slave states of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri. You have not yet declared the slaves free in these states, the only ones in which you actually have the power to do so—at all.

LINCOLN

The first policy of my Administration has been to save for the Union the great border states—for the simple reason—with these border slave states, we have such a balance of power that the Union may be saved! Without these states, the Union cannot be saved! Therefore in my Proclamation of Emancipation, I purposely did not raise the question of the right or wrong of slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. But the Constitution of the United States, which I have sworn to uphold in the border states of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, guarantees to their people the right to hold slaves if they choose.

RAYMOND

But why pat on the back the slaveholder of Maryland and strike at the slaveholder of South Carolina?

LINCOLN

Because Maryland is loyal to the Union, and South Carolina is fighting it. My Proclamation was not a sermon on the rights of man—black or white. It was an act of war—a blow aimed at the heart of the seceding South to break its wealth and power, end the war, and save the Union. I know the spell of State loyalty in the South, gentlemen. I was born there. Many a mother in Richmond wept the day our flag fell from their Capitol. But they brushed their tears away and sent their sons to the front the next day, to fight that flag—in the name of Virginia! So would thousands of mothers in these border slave states, if I put them to the test. In God's own time slavery will be destroyed. I have saved these states for our cause by conciliation and compromise. I will not apologize for this act.

[He lifts his hand to stop interruption.]

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not, either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union, without freeing a slave, I would do it. And if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. And if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union!

[Pauses and faces his accusers.]

I'll test this question right here—will the three Committeemen from Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland stand up for a minute?

[The three Committeemen rise.]

Will the gentleman from Kentucky tell me what would have been the effect if I had included his state in my proclamation freeing the slaves——?

THE KENTUCKY COMMITTEEMAN

The state would have seceded from the Union, sir.

LINCOLN

Just so, and in Missouri?

THE MISSOURI COMMITTEEMAN

The Legislature would have joined the Confederacy within twenty-four hours.

LINCOLN

And Maryland——?

THE MARYLAND COMMITTEEMAN

Maryland would have promptly cut the railroads leading into Washington, isolated the Capital and joined the South.

LINCOLN

And with the loss of our Capital, Europe, eager to strike, would have recognized the Confederacy, would they not?

THE MARYLAND COMMITTEEMAN

Undoubtedly, sir——

LINCOLN

So I hold——

THE MARYLAND COMMITTEEMAN

Our State believed you when you said in your Inaugural: "I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists!"

LINCOLN

Then you three gentlemen, at least, are with me on this issue?

ALL THREE

Yes—! Yes—! Yes—!

LINCOLN

I thought so——

[To Raymond.]

What next?

RAYMOND

Your plan to colonize the Negro race as expressed in your Proclamation of Emancipation and in the bill which you have had passed through Congress has hurt your best friends——

LINCOLN

And why should it? My views on that subject were known to all men before you nominated me first in Chicago, four years ago. I said then that I believed there is a sharp physical difference between the white and black races, and I have always linked colonization with freedom. The Negro cannot remain in a free democracy unless we absorb him into our social and political life. Therefore, we must colonize him. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to future generations—above all, we owe it to the Negro himself. He was brought here by cruel force. At our own expense, therefore, we should return him to the home of his fathers, and build there a free republic for his children. We should give him our language and our ideals, and we should give him millions of our money, until he can stand alone. We must face this problem squarely now.

RAYMOND

Yet you compromise on other issues.

LINCOLN

Only because I must to save the Union. Trim and hedge on this issue, and future generations will feel their way back to it through blood and tears. I have always held that the happiness and progress of this Union of Free Democratic States will be secure only in the separation of the white and black races, and I will not eat my words!——

[Pauses.]

—the next charge in your bill of indictment, gentlemen?

RAYMOND

I now present the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, leader of Congress, the representative of the radical wing of our party, who have split our organization by nominating another candidate for President—Mr. Stevens will give their views.

STEVENS

[Pompously to the Committee.]

The radical wing of the party, gentlemen, has been the only creative force within it—and is the only thing that gives it an excuse for being to-day.

LINCOLN

[Firmly.]

Which means that you think that I am superfluous and always have been—I thank you—proceed!

STEVENS

We denounce first your policy of reconstruction in the South as weak and vacillating—a civil and military failure. As the army advances, the South should be held as conquered soil, its civilization torn up by the roots, the property of the Southern white people confiscated and given to the negroes. The ballot must be taken from the whites and given to their slaves. We demand this just vengeance and we will be content with nothing less!

LINCOLN

Stevens, I greet with shame your demands! Surely the vastness of this war, its grim battles, its heroism, its anguish, its sublime earnestness, should sink all schemes of revenge. Before the grandeur of its simple story our children will walk with uncovered heads. Conquered soil! The South has never been out of this Union. Secession was null and void from the beginning. I say to the South now, as I have always said: "Come back home! You can have peace at any moment, by simply laying down your arms and submitting to the National Authority." When the South lies crushed at our feet, God's vengeance shall be enough.

STEVENS

The life of our party, sir, demands that the Negro be given the ballot and made the ruler of the South. This is not vengeance. It is justice—it is patriotism.

LINCOLN

The Nation cannot be healed until the South is healed. Let the gulf be closed in which we bury strifes and hatreds. The good sense of our people will never consent to your scheme of vengeance.

STEVENS

The people have no sense! And a new fool is born every second.

LINCOLN

I have an abiding faith in their honesty and good purpose. I have trusted the people before, and they have not failed me.

STEVENS

Bah——!

LINCOLN

I can't tell you, Stevens, how your venomous plans sicken me. I'd rather work with you than fight you, if it's possible. But the line is drawn now—we've got to fight—and I'm not afraid of you.

STEVENS

You had better listen——

LINCOLN

I'll suffer my right arm to be severed from my body before I'll sign one measure of revenge on a brave, fallen foe!

STEVENS

I have always known you had a sneaking admiration for the South!

LINCOLN

I love the South—it is a part of this Union! And when the curse of slavery is lifted, it should be the garden spot of the world—I love every foot of its soil—every hill and valley, and every man, woman and child in it. I am an American!

STEVENS

The kind of an American that makes the election of your opponent, General George B. McClellan, a certainty——

LINCOLN

Well, who would you put in my place?

[He faces RAYMOND and STEVENS, and dead silence follows.]

Come on—out with his name——!

[They remain silent.]

You can't name him? Let me try to nominate him for you—— On a platform of proscription and revenge, the hanging of rebel leaders, the confiscation of the property of the white people of the South and its bestowment upon the negroes, the taking of the ballot from the whites and setting their slaves to rule over them—on this program I resign as your candidate and nominate for President, the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens——

THE COMMITTEE

[In a wild uproar.]

No! No! No! Not by a damn sight! To hell with Stevens!

[LINCOLN quietly laughs and STEVENS angrily lifts his hand to quiet them.]

STEVENS

Now that you've had your joke—let me remind you that the radical wing of the Republican Party has already named General John C. Fremont against you——

LINCOLN

[To the Committee.]

What say you, gentlemen——? Shall I resign in favor of the bolter who attempted to dictate to you your platform and your candidate before your convention met? Do you ask me to resign in favor of General Fremont?

THE COMMITTEE

No! No! Down with the bolter! To the devil with Fremont. No! No! No! Damnation—no——

[RAYMOND quiets the uproar.]

STEVENS

I am not asking you to nominate Fremont. We split the party and named Fremont because we wouldn't have you. Get off the ticket and we will withdraw Fremont and put up a man who can be elected! Whatever the chances of General Fremont at this moment the election of McClellan on a Democratic Copperhead Platform is conceded by your own party councils. McClellan is even now choosing his Cabinet——

LINCOLN

They say it is not wise to count chickens before they're hatched—we still have our chance!

STEVENS

You have no chance! You have already been weighed and found wanting! In the Congressional election, what happened?—your majorities were wiped out. Maine cut you down from nineteen thousand to four! The Democrats swept Ohio. Indiana deserted us. In Pennsylvania even, we lost by four thousand. New York elected Horatio Seymour against us. New Jersey turned you down. Wisconsin was a tie. In your own state of Illinois, the Democrats won by seventeen thousand——!

LINCOLN

Even so, Stevens—the ballots in this election have not yet been counted! My faith in the ultimate good sense of the people is unshaken. You can fool some of the people all the time. You can fool all of the people sometimes. But you can't fool all the people all the time!

STEVENS

That's why we ask you to get off the ticket! You are to-day the most unpopular man who ever sat in the Presidential chair. For the first time in our history the effigy of a living President—your effigy—has been publicly burned in the streets of American towns and cities, amid the curses and jeers of the men who elected you! Your administration is a failure—your conduct of the war a series of blunders——

LINCOLN

[Brusquely.]

For example——

STEVENS

[Furiously.]

For one thing—you have never yet chosen a successful General. The South has not changed Commanders since Jeff Davis appointed Robert E. Lee. In thirty days of the last campaign in a series of massacres, Lee has killed and wounded sixty-two thousand of our men—more than he himself commanded—and Grant has only reached the point where McClellan stood in 1862. He could have marched there by McClellan's old line without the loss of a man. Washington is piled with the wounded, the dying and the dead. Your mail is choked with letters demanding the removal of this butcher as our Commander, and you refuse—why?

LINCOLN

[Smiling calmly.]

Well, now that you've really let off steam, I think you'll feel better, Stevens——!

STEVENS

I demand, sir, an answer to my question—why have you not removed Grant?

LINCOLN

[Quickly.]

Because I can't spare him! He is the one General we have developed who knows how to fight—his business is not to reach any particular spot where McClellan stood. McClellan was generally standing somewhere—he was a great engineer—of the stationary type—— Grant is a fighter. His business is to find and destroy Lee's army—and his sledge hammer blows are winning this war!

STEVENS

Winning—is he? And yet Lee sends a division under Jubal Early and reconquers the Valley of Virginia—invades Maryland and Pennsylvania, throws his shells into Washington and burns the home of one of your Cabinet——

LINCOLN

And if old Jubal Early had been a little earlier, he would have burned Washington, too—but thank God, Grant got here in time—didn't he? What have you got to say to that?

STEVENS

That Lee's strategy has been superb, his moral victory complete! He holds Grant by the throat while he invades the North, and shells our Capitol—a feat that not one of your generals has yet done for Richmond in four years—and still you cling to Grant——!

LINCOLN

[Angrily.]

Now, I'm going to talk plain English to you, Stevens. You're an Abolitionist, and you can't do Grant justice. Your crowd demanded his removal after the battle of Shiloh—and you made it so hot for me then, I had to appoint General Halleck his superior, to save him for the country. You can't forget that Grant is a Democrat, and therefore he may vote for McClellan against our party, in this election!

STEVENS

I've heard that he is for McClellan.

LINCOLN

Exactly! And you can't forget that his wife is a Southern woman whose dowry was in Slaves, and therefore at this moment, Grant is constructively a slaveholder, whose slaves I have not freed——

STEVENS

I protest——

LINCOLN

It's no use—I know the process of your mind—I can see the wheels go round inside! You tell me that the star of Grant has set in a welter of blood before Lee's army. I do not believe it. I know that miles of hospital barracks are the witnesses of our agony. I know that every city, town and village is in mourning. From these stricken homes there has arisen a storm of protest against the new leader of the army. The word butcher is bandied from lip to lip. They tell me that Grant is merely a bulldog fighter—that he can win only as long as thousands are poured into his ranks to take the place of the dead—They tell me that he has no genius, no strategy, no skill. My reply to this is simple but unanswerable. We must fight to win. Grant is the ablest general we have developed. His losses are appalling—but the struggle is on now to the bitter end! Our resources are exhaustless. The South cannot replace her fallen soldiers—and therefore her losses are fatal! If we continue to fight, five millions cannot whip twenty millions—the end is certain—and we're now locked in the last death grapple before—VICTORY!

STEVENS

It's a waste of time to talk——!

LINCOLN

I've thought so from the first, but I've tried to be polite——

STEVENS

[Trying to go.]

Good day, sir——!

LINCOLN

[Cordially.]

Good day, Stevens——

[Pauses.]

You know this meeting reminds me of what happened in Illinois once——

STEVENS

[Throwing up his hands in anger.]

I won't hear it, sir! You and your stories are sending this country to hell—it's not more than a mile from there now!

LINCOLN

I believe it is just a mile from here to the Capitol where you sit!

STEVENS

[Going in rage.]

Damnation!

[STEVENS goes muttering furiously.]

RAYMOND

You will consider our request, Mr. President?

LINCOLN

Raymond, this is the most brutal insult ever offered to a man in my position in the history of this country. I'm going to waive the insult and give your request my earnest thought. If I can save the Union—that's the only question—that's the only question!

RAYMOND

You will give us your answer to-day?

LINCOLN

[Firmly.]

No. I must have time to think. As I've listened to you, the conviction grows on me that the life of the Union may be bound with mine now, and I'm not going to give up—without a fight.

RAYMOND

[Brusquely.]

We cannot leave Washington without your answer, Mr. President.

LINCOLN

You'll get it in due time.

RAYMOND

The time is short——

LINCOLN

It may be long enough yet, to save the Nation——

RAYMOND

[Firmly.]

The Committee must take definite action before we leave—we will give you ten days to decide——

LINCOLN

I understand. Good day, gentlemen!

ALL

[Bowing out.]

Good day, Mr. President.

[LINCOLN stands erect, with NICOLAY watching them go in silence. When the last man is gone, he turns to NICOLAY.]

LINCOLN

It's infamous, John! Infamous!

[MRS. LINCOLN enters hurriedly.]

Don't tell her the nasty things old Thad said to me. It will hurt her.

NICOLAY

Of course not.

MRS. LINCOLN

[Tensely.]

What is it, Father—what did they say?

[He pauses and she presses him tremblingly.]

What did they say? What did they say?

LINCOLN

[With dreamy look.]

They told me in plain English that I am the most unpopular man in the United States—that my conduct of the war is a series of blunders, my administration a failure!

MRS. LINCOLN

[Relieved.]

Oh!—is that all!

LINCOLN

What more——?

MRS. LINCOLN

I thought they had something important to tell you——

LINCOLN

[Laughs.]

Oh!——

MRS. LINCOLN

That is of no importance, because it's a lie——

LINCOLN

But, if they believe it, and millions of people believe it——

MRS. LINCOLN

Well, they won't. I've something important to ask of you—Betty Winter's in my room and wants to bring her lover here to see you alone for an hour to-night——

LINCOLN

I'll see Miss Betty Winter any time—she is my good friend—make it nine o'clock.

MRS. LINCOLN

[Going.]

At nine—don't forget now!

LINCOLN

I'll not——

[MRS. LINCOLN exits.]

John, is General McClellan at home?

NICOLAY

I saw him to-day, sir.

LINCOLN

Go to his house immediately and tell him I want to see him here at eight o'clock to-night. Say that it's a matter of the gravest importance—both to him and to the country—he can't refuse.

NICOLAY

Yes, sir.

LINCOLN

Say to General McClellan that I would come to him but for the fact that it would attract attention which I wish to avoid. It will be the best for both that this meeting should not be known. Ask him to come in a closed carriage. Assure him that you will meet him at the door and he will see no one but me——

NICOLAY

You can't take me into your confidence, Chief?

LINCOLN

[Pauses.]

Partly—I'm going to put McClellan to the supreme test, John. If he will make me one pledge on the Copperhead issue which I will ask of him, I'll name for this Committee a candidate they're not looking for—I'll give them the surprise of their life—so help me God!

NICOLAY

I don't think the General will give that pledge, sir.

LINCOLN

[Gazing upward and folding his arms.]

I wonder!—I wonder if he will!

[NICOLAY exits.]

I wonder if he will——

CURTAIN



ACT II

SET SCENE: The same as Act I at a quarter to eight the same evening.

AT RISE: EDWARD, the old Doorman, is straightening the furniture in the room. He clumsily clears the floor of a litter of letters and places them in the corner with the unopened bag. He draws the heavy draperies of the windows and adjusts them so that no ray of light can reach the outside. MRS. LINCOLN enters and watches him fix the draperies.

MRS. LINCOLN

[Speaking suddenly.]

Edward——!

EDWARD

[Jumping in fright.]

Yes, Madam!

MRS. LINCOLN

What on earth are you doing in here——?

EDWARD

[In terror of MRS. LINCOLN.]

Just—er drawin'—er the curtains, Madam.

MRS. LINCOLN

[Sternly.]

These curtains haven't been drawn in a year——

EDWARD

[Stammering.]

I-don't-think-they-have-either——

MRS. LINCOLN

You know they haven't!

EDWARD

[Gulping wind.]

Yes'm——

MRS. LINCOLN

Who told you to draw them?

EDWARD

Colonel Nicolay!

MRS. LINCOLN

Where is he?

EDWARD

Down-stairs, on the door.

MRS. LINCOLN

In your place?

EDWARD

Yes'm——

MRS. LINCOLN

While you're up here acting as house maid?

EDWARD

[Embarrassed.]

Well, so it seems, Madam——

MRS. LINCOLN

[Sternly.]

What does this mean?

EDWARD

I do not know, Madam——

MRS. LINCOLN

[Sarcastically.]

And you haven't the slightest idea—I suppose?

EDWARD

Not the slightest. My experience as Doorman of the White House has taught me that my first duty is to obey the orders of my Chief——

MRS. LINCOLN

Mr. Lincoln asked you to remain on duty here to-night?

EDWARD

[Bows.]

Asked me as a particular personal favor to him, that I remain on duty until eight o'clock and dismiss all the other White House attendants——

MRS. LINCOLN

The guard has been dismissed!

EDWARD

Yes, Madam, both of them—inside and out.

MRS. LINCOLN

Ask Colonel Nicolay to come here——

EDWARD

[Hesitates.]

Yes'm——

MRS. LINCOLN

[Sharply.]

Quick!

EDWARD

[Jumps.]

Right away, Madam!

[MRS. LINCOLN quickly examines the President's desk, looking for a memorandum of his appointments—she finds a pad and reads.]

MRS. LINCOLN

At eight o'clock —— ——

At nine o'clock—Miss Betty Winter——

[NICOLAY enters hurriedly.]

NICOLAY

What is it, Madam?

MRS. LINCOLN

Who has this mysterious appointment with the President at eight o'clock—the name is blank.

NICOLAY

I am forbidden to discuss it with any one.

MRS. LINCOLN

[Angrily.]

Indeed!

NICOLAY

I am sorry.

MRS. LINCOLN

Do you know who is coming?

NICOLAY

Yes——

MRS. LINCOLN

Do you know the subject for discussion at this meeting?

NICOLAY

I wish to God I did——

[LINCOLN enters and glances at his wife in surprise.]

LINCOLN

Will you go back to the door, John——

NICOLAY

At once—sir——

LINCOLN

And tell Edward I'm much obliged to him for staying, but he can go now——

NICOLAY

Yes, sir——

LINCOLN

See that he goes before our visitor arrives. I have asked him to say nothing about this appointment.

NICOLAY

You can trust him implicitly, sir——

[NICOLAY exits.]

MRS. LINCOLN

But, you can't trust your wife, to-night, it seems——

LINCOLN

[Whimsically.]

Well, you know you're a woman, Mother——

MRS. LINCOLN

[Angrily.]

Thank God——

LINCOLN

Amen! So say I!

MRS. LINCOLN

You're afraid to tell me—who this man is——?

LINCOLN

I may tell you to-morrow——

MRS. LINCOLN

When—you've-made-some-fatal-blunder——

LINCOLN

I'll make no mistake this time——

MRS. LINCOLN

Then why are you afraid of my woman's intuition——

LINCOLN

[Smiling.]

I'm not afraid of your intuition, Mother——

MRS. LINCOLN

Thank you.

LINCOLN

I didn't say it!——

[Laughs.]

—But you know you do talk too much sometimes!

MRS. LINCOLN

[Angrily.]

And I'm going to say something to you now. I thought this morning that you would treat those scoundrels with the contempt they deserve when they dared to ask you to sacrifice yourself and the cause of the Union to the ambitions of some traitor behind them.

LINCOLN

No! No! They're honest in what they say——

MRS. LINCOLN

[Furious.]

You're too good and simple for this world! Don't you know that some schemer is behind all this——?

LINCOLN

Maybe—— It's not a crime, Mother, for a man to aspire to high office, if the bee's in his bonnet. You know I've felt it tickle me lots of times——

MRS. LINCOLN

Don't—don't—don't say such foolish things. You need a guardian. You kept three men in your Cabinet who used their position to try to climb into the Presidency over your head. And you didn't kick them out.

LINCOLN

The country needed them.

MRS. LINCOLN

[With earnest dignity.]

The country needs you—you are the man, and the only man who has the simple common sense to save this Union first, and settle all other questions afterwards——

LINCOLN

That may be so—too——

MRS. LINCOLN

Tell me one thing—is the man who has this appointment at eight the traitor whom Raymond's Committee is trying to put in your place——?

LINCOLN

No! Yet—if there is anywhere a better man who can render the country a greater service than I can, he ought to be in my place——

MRS. LINCOLN

But don't you see that it isn't really the man who can give the greater service who will win in such a treacherous fight? It's the liar and the hypocrite who may win.

LINCOLN

I have no right in such an hour to think of my own ambitions. My personal desire for a second term is the biggest thing in my life, God knows——

[He pauses as his voice breaks—he struggles a moment and lifts his hand as if to throw off an obsession with a determined smile.]

And yet, my personal desire is a petty thing! My duty to-day is the biggest thing in the world!

MRS. LINCOLN

You won't take my advice and send these men about their business?

LINCOLN

Mary, I've got to fight this thing out alone, with myself and God——

MRS. LINCOLN

I sometimes think, Father, that you're the stubbornest man the Lord ever made!

LINCOLN

I've got to be—to do this job——

[MRS. LINCOLN exits.]

[LINCOLN paces the floor with his arms locked behind him in tense thought.]

[NICOLAY enters.]

NICOLAY

The carriage is approaching, sir.

LINCOLN

The coast is clear?

NICOLAY

Yes. Edward has gone——

[He pauses.]

You, of course, realize, Chief, the importance of a cool head in dealing with McClellan——

LINCOLN

I won't lose my temper, John.

NICOLAY

McClellan may lose his——

LINCOLN

I'll watch out——

[Looking over his desk.]

That report of Baker's on the Copperhead Societies——

NICOLAY

[Pointing.]

Under that paper weight, sir——

LINCOLN

Oh, yes, I see——

[Picks up report, glances at it, and lays it back on his desk.]

I'm ready—bring him in. See that we are not interrupted, and when he goes, I'll not need you any more to-night. I'll let in the young people myself, at nine o'clock.

NICOLAY

Yes, sir.

[NICOLAY exits and LINCOLN returns to his desk and writes.]

[NICOLAY enters with GENERAL MCCLELLAN. The General is thirty-eight years old, dressed in a uniform of immaculate cut, flashing with gold. While his figure is short and stocky, in striking contrast to the President, he is a man of commanding appearance, and gives one the impression of a born leader of men. He enters with quick military precision and salutes with studied formality the President as his superior officer. The President answers his salute, as NICOLAY exits.]

LINCOLN

I suggest, General McClellan, that we forget for the moment that I am the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy—and we have a little heart to heart talk in a perfectly informal way——

McCLELLAN

[Stiffening.]

May I enquire, Mr. President, at once, to what I owe this extraordinary summons?

LINCOLN

[Cordially.]

Will you be seated, General——?

McCLELLAN

Thank you, I prefer to stand.

[Angrily.]

What right have you to send for me or ask anything, after the foul injustice with which you have treated me as Commanding General——

LINCOLN

[Interrupting.]

Just a moment—I have not treated you with injustice—I have treated you with more than justice. I have treated you with the generous faith and love of a father for a wayward boy——

McCLELLAN

Really!

LINCOLN

I have. When I appointed you to the chief command of our Army, you were but thirty-four years old. I did it against the bitterest opposition of my party leaders. They told me you were a pro-Slavery Democrat—a political meddler, and that you were opposed to me on every issue before the people. I refused to listen. I asked but one question: Is McClellan the man to whip the new army into a mighty fighting machine, and hurl it against the Confederacy? I said to them: "I don't care what his religion is, or his politics may be. The question is, not whether I shall save the Union—but that the Union shall be saved. My future and the future of my party can take care of themselves"—and I appointed you.

McCLELLAN

And forced me to march against Richmond before I was ready!

LINCOLN

I ordered you to move, because it was necessary to forestall a great tragedy. Your army of 180,000 men had gone into winter quarters around a glittering camp over which a young Napoleon presided. Fools about you daily advised that you proclaim the end of the Republic and establish yourself as Dictator. You do not deny this——?

McCLELLAN

No. The fact is well known. Besides, Stanton, your Secretary of War, was at that time my attorney, and he knew——

LINCOLN

Exactly. I took the bull by the horns and ordered your grand army to move on Richmond. When you failed and retreated, I refused to dismiss you against the fierce protest of my Cabinet. I left you in command of half our men and appointed General Pope to lead the other half.

McCLELLAN

[Sneeringly.]

And he led them to overwhelming disaster at the second battle of Manassas——

LINCOLN

[Quickly.]

For which disaster, you must share the blame. You were ordered to join Pope. You didn't move. Pope was broken by a deliberate design, that was little short of treason, sir. But instead of agreeing to the demand for your trial by court martial, I did the most unpopular act of my life. I reappointed you to the chief command of the whole army—defied public opinion, and faced a storm of abuse in my party councils.

McCLELLAN

And when I led that superb, reorganized army to our first victory at Antietam, you removed me from my command before I could win my campaign.

LINCOLN

I removed you from your command because, after you had cut Lee's army to pieces, and he had but 23,000 men left, and you had 75,000—three to one—you lay down on your arms and allowed Lee to escape across the river without a blow—while Jeb. Stuart with his cavalry once more insulted you by riding around your army. Come now, can't we leave to posterity to settle the merits of our controversy over the command of armies? Can't you believe me to-day, when I tell you with God as my witness, that I have never allowed a personal motive to enter into a single appointment or removal which I have made——?

McCLELLAN

I cannot believe it——

LINCOLN

In spite of the fact that when I reappointed you to the chief command of the army after the disaster to Pope, you thought that my messenger was an officer with a warrant for your arrest! You still say no——?

McCLELLAN

I still say no—you had to do it—and you know that you had to reappoint me.

LINCOLN

Well, I'll not pretend that I didn't understand the seriousness of that hour. The Army was behind you, to a man! I sounded the officers, I sounded the men. They were against me and with you. If the leaders had dared risk their necks on a revolution, they might have won and set up a Dictatorship!

McCLELLAN

Just so!

LINCOLN

This power over men which you possess, General McClellan, is a marvelous thing. It is a dangerous force. It can be used to create a Nation, or destroy one. Because you held this power over your men, I honestly believed you were the ablest General in sight, and I called you back to your high position.

McCLELLAN

[With a smile.]

Very kind!

LINCOLN

You had to win or lose at Antietam. If you had won I was vindicated, and your success would have been mine! But when Lee's army escaped, you lost the power over the imagination of your men, the threat of a Dictatorship had passed—the supremacy of the civil government was restored, and I removed you from command——

McCLELLAN

[Angrily.]

I repeat that your act was one of foul injustice!

LINCOLN

[Cordially.]

All right then. I've given you my side. Granted for the sake of argument that I have treated you unfairly, I'm going to put you to a supreme test. I am going to propose, on a certain condition, to the man whom I have wronged, an amazing thing——

McCLELLAN

Hence the secrecy with which I am summoned!

LINCOLN

Yes. I have just written out on this sheet of paper——

[Takes up the sheet.]

and addressed to Henry Raymond, Chairman of our National Committee, my resignation as a Candidate for the Presidency for a second term—and I will give it to him to-night, if you will agree to take my place and save the Union?

McCLELLAN

[Overwhelmed with excitement.]

What-can-you-mean——?

LINCOLN

Exactly what I've said.

McCLELLAN

[Paces the floor trembling.]

And your conditions——?

LINCOLN

Very simple. Agree to preside to-morrow night at a great Democratic Union Mass Meeting in New York, and boldly put yourself at the head of that wing of your party which stands for the preservation of the Union——

McCLELLAN

And you——?

LINCOLN

I will withdraw from the race, secure your endorsement, or prevent my party from naming a successor, take the stump for you and guarantee your election.

McCLELLAN

[Studies LINCOLN a moment with suspicion.]

You are in earnest——?

LINCOLN

I was never more so.

McCLELLAN

And there is no string to this offer?

LINCOLN

On my word of honor——

[Dreamily.]

It is needless for me to say that I came into this office with high ambitions to serve my country. My dream of glory may be at an end and I have left only the agony and the tears——

[He pauses, breathes deeply, and struggles with his emotions, recovers himself, and goes on wistfully.]

I did want a chance to stay here for another term to see the sun shine again, to heal my country's wounds, and show all the people, North, South, East and West, that I love them. But I can't risk the chances of this election—if you and I can come to a perfect understanding, and you agree to take my place upon the solemn pledge to save the Union without division. I've made up my mind to this, because I have on my desk here a report from our Secret Service——

[Pauses and picks up the report.]

showing that the Copperhead Societies are of your party and are thoroughly organized in every state of the North—that they demand an immediate peace and will accept a division of the Union——

McCLELLAN

[Interrupting.]

What has this to do with me, may I ask——?

LINCOLN

[Evenly.]

This report shows that they propose to end the war on the night of the election by a revolutionary uprising which will result in the recognition of the Confederacy. I am now being urged to arrest their leaders.

[He pauses and watches McCLELLAN closely.]

I shall answer no. Let sleeping dogs lie. One revolution at a time. If the Union candidate wins the election, they won't dare to rise. If he loses, it's all over anyhow—and it makes no difference what they do.

McCLELLAN

A sensible decision——

LINCOLN

I'm glad you agree with it. Now the Democratic Convention meets in Chicago next week—you have no opposition. Your nomination will be unanimous. The question is,—what will they do on the issue of the war? The leaders of the Copperhead Societies are now in touch with the rebel government in Richmond——

McCLELLAN

That's a large statement, sir—even about Copperhead Societies——

LINCOLN

I have the proofs in this document——

[Touches BAKER'S report.]

My fear is, that they may get complete control of your Convention——

McCLELLAN

[Angrily.]

Indeed——?

LINCOLN

I have heard the ugly rumor that they are counting on you——

McCLELLAN

[Advancing.]

Stop——!

LINCOLN

[Going to meet McCLELLAN and holding his gaze firmly.]

Well——?

McCLELLAN

No man can couple the word Treason with my name, sir——!

LINCOLN

Have I done so——?

McCLELLAN

You are insinuating it!

LINCOLN

Am I?

McCLELLAN

I demand a retraction!

LINCOLN

[Smiling.]

Then, I apologize for my careless expressions. I am glad to see you meet the ugly subject in this way! I have never believed you a traitor to the Union. That's why I sent for you to-night. Will you denounce these men publicly at a Union Mass Meeting, and let me resign and take the stump for you——?

McCLELLAN

[Hesitates.]

I am sure of this election without your help, sir!

LINCOLN

You can't be——

McCLELLAN

A straw vote was taken yesterday in the Carver Hospital. The wounded soldiers gave me three votes to your one. Straws show which way the wind is blowing. I know that your party is divided—that John C. Fremont has split your organization, and is daily gaining ground—that unless he retires, you can't be elected! Your party is in a hopeless panic—and my election is conceded. Yet, you ask me allow you to dictate the policy of my administration!

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