By john g. Nioolay and john hay

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Copyright, 1886 and 1890,

toy john G. nicolay

and john hay.







A GENERATION bom since Abraham Lincoln died jfjL has already reached manhood and womanhood. Yet there are millions still living who sympathized with him in his noble aspirations, who labored with him in his toilsome life, and whose hearts were saddened by his tragic death. It is the almost unbroken testimony of his contemporaries that by virtue of certain high traits of character, in certain momentous lines of purpose and achievement, he was incomparably the greatest man of his time. The deliberate judgment of those who knew him has hardened into tradition; for although but twenty-five years have passed since he fell by the bullet of the assassin, the tradition is already complete. The voice of hostile faction is silent, or unheeded,- even criticism is gentle and timid. If history had said its last word, if no more were to be known of him than is already written, his fame, however lacking in definite outline, however dis­torted by fable, would survive undiminished to the latest generations. The blessings of an enfranchised race would forever hail him as their liberator j the nation would ac­knowledge him as the mighty counselor whose patient courage and wisdom saved the life of the republic in its darkest hour; and illuminating his proud eminence as

x authors' pkeface

orator, statesman, and ruler, there would forever shine around his memory the halo of that tender humanity and Christian charity in which he walked among his fellow-countrymen as their familiar companion and friend.

It is not, therefore, with any thought of adding mate­rially to his already accomplished renown that we have written the work which we now offer to our fellow-citizens. But each age owes to its successors the truth in regard to its own annals. The young men who have been born since Sumter was fired on have a right to all their elders know of the important events they came too late to share in. The life and fame of Lincoln will not have their legitimate effect of instruction and example unless the circumstances among which he lived and found his opportunities are placed in their true light before the men who never saw him.

To write the life of this great American in such a way as to show his relations to the times in which he moved, the stupendous issues he controlled, the remarkable men by whom he was surrounded, has been the purpose which the authors have diligently pursued for many years. We can say nothing of the result of our labor; only those who have been similarly employed can appreciate the sense of inadequate performance with which we regard what we have accomplished. We claim for our work that we .have devoted to it twenty years of almost unremitting assiduity; that we have neglected no means in our power to ascertain the truth; that we have rejected no authentic facts essential to a candid story; that we have had no theory to establish, no personal grudge to gratify, no unavowed objects to subserve. We have aimed to write a sufficiently full and absolutely honest history of a great man and a great time; and although we take it for


granted that we have made mistakes, that we have fallen into such errors and inaccuracies as are unavoidable in so large a work, we claim there is not a line in all these volumes dictated by malice or unfairness.

Our desire to have this work placed under the eyes of the^ greatest possible number of readers induced us to accept the generous offer of "The Century Magazine"' to print it first in that periodical. In this way it re­ceived, as we expected, the intelligent criticism of a very large number of readers, thoroughly informed in regard to the events narrated, and we have derived the greatest advantage from the suggestions and corrections which have been elicited during the serial publication, which began in November, 1886, and closed early in 1890. We beg, here, to make our sincere acknowledgments to the hundreds of friendly critics who have furnished us with valuable information.

As " The Century" had already given, during several years, a considerable portion of its pages to the elucida­tion and discussion of the battles and campaigns of the civil war, it was the opinion of its editor, in which we coincided, that it was not advisable to print in the maga­zine the full narrative sketch, of the war which we had prepared. We omitted also a large number of chapters which, although essential to a history of the time, and directly connected with the life of Mr. Lincoln, were still episodical in their nature, and were perhaps not indis­pensable to a comprehension of the principal events of his administration. These are all included in the present volumes; they comprise additional chapters almost equal in extent and fully equal in interest to those which have already been printed in "The Century .7; Interspersed throughout the work in their proper connection and


sequence, and containing some of the most important of Mr. Lincoln's letters, they lend "breadth and unity to the historical drama.

We trust it will not he regarded as presumptuous if we say a word in relation to the facilities we have enjoyed and the methods we have used in the preparation of this work. We knew Mr. Lincoln intimately before his elec­tion to the Presidency. We came from Illinois to Wash­ington with him, and remained at his side and in his service—separately or together—until the day of his death. We were the daily and nightly witnesses of the incidents, the anxieties, the fears, and the hopes which pervaded the Executive Mansion and the National Capital. The President's correspondence, "both official and private, passed through our hands j he gave us his full confidence. We had personal acquaintance and daily official intercourse with Cabinet Officers, Members of Congress, Governors, and Military and Naval Officers of all grades, whose affairs brought them to the White House. It was during these years of the war that we formed the design of writing this history and began to prepare for it. President Lincoln gave it his sanction and promised his cordial cooperation. After several years7 residence in Europe, we returned to this country and began the execution of our long-cherished plan. Mr. Robert T. Lincoln gave into our keeping all the official and private papers and manuscripts in his possession, to which we have added all the material we could acquire by industry or by purchase. It is with the advantage, therefore, of a wide personal acquaintance with all the leading participants of the war, and of perfect familiarity with the manuscript material, and also with the assist­ance of the vast bulk of printed records and treatises


which have accumulated since 1865, that we have prose­cuted this work to its close.

If we gained nothing else by our long association with Mr. Lincoln we hope at least that we acquired from him the habit of judging men and events with candor and impartiality. The material placed in our hands was un­exampled in value and fullness; we have felt the obliga­tion of using it with perfect fairness. We have striven to be equally just to friends and to adversaries; where the facts favor our enemies we have recorded, them ungrudg­ingly ; where they bear severely upon statesmen and gen­erals whom we have loved and honored we have not scrupled to set them forth, at the risk of .being accused of coldness and ingratitude to those with whom we have lived on terms of intimate friendship. The recollection of these friendships will always be to us a source of pride and joy j but in this book we have known no allegiance but to the truth. We have in no case relied upon our own memory of the events narrated, though they may have passed under our own eyes; we have seen too often the danger of such a reliance in the reminiscences of others. We have trusted only our diaries and memoranda of the moment 5 and in the documents and reports we have cited we have used incessant care to secure authen­ticity. So far as possible, every story has been traced to its source, and every document read in the official record or the original manuscript.

We are aware of the prejudice which exists against a book written by two persons, but we feel that in our case the disadvantages of collaboration .are reduced to the minimum. Our experiences, our observations, our ma­terial, have been for twenty years not merely homoge­neous—they have been identical. Our plans were made


with thorough concert -, our studies of the subject were carried on together; we were able to work simultaneously without danger of repetition or conflict. The apportion­ment of our separate tasks has been dictated purely by convenience 5 the division of topics between us has been sometimes for long periods, sometimes almost for alter­nate chapters. Each has written an equal portion of the work; while consultation and joint re vision have been con­tinuous, the text of each remains substantially unaltered. It is in the fullest sense, and in every part, a joint work. We each assume responsibility, not only for the whole, but for all the details, and whatever credit or blame the public may award our labors is equally due to both.

We commend the result of so many years of research and diligence to all our countrymen, North and South, in the hope that it may do something to secure a truthful history of the great struggle which displayed on both sides the highest qualities of American manhood, and may contribute in some measure to the growth and maintenance throughout all our borders of that spirit of freedom and nationality for which Abraham Lincoln lived and died.


vol. I

abraham lincoln ,..,..... Frontispiece.

From a photograph taken about 1860 by Hesler, of Chicago; from the original negative owned by George B. Ayres, Phila­delphia.


land warrant, issued to abraham linkhorn (lincoln). .. 10

fac-simile from the field-book of daniel boone 12

surveyor's certificate for abraham linkhorn (lincoln). 14

house in which thomas lincoln and nancy hanks were

married 16

fac-simile of the marriage bond of thomas lincoln 22

certificate, or marriage list, containing the names of

thomas lincoln and nancy hanks 26

sarah bush lincoln at the age of 76 .... — 32

From a photograph in possession of William H. Herndon.

cabin on goose-nest prairie, ill., in which thomas

lincoln lived and died 48

model of lincoln's invention for buoying vessels 72

fac-simile of drawings in the patent office .... 73

leaf from abraham lincoln's exercise book 82

soldier's discharge from the black hawk war, signed

by A. lincoln, captain 92

black hawk ••••••............. 96

From a portrait by Charles B. King, from McKenny & Hall's " Indian Tribes of North America."




stephen T. logan 112

From the portrait in possession of his daughter, Mrs. L. H. Coleman.

abraham lincoln's surveying instruments, saddle bag,

etc 114

plan op roads surveyed by A. lincoln and others 116

fac-simile of lincoln's report op the road survey 118

O. H. browning . 128

From a photograph by Waide.

martin van buren 144

From a photograph by Brady.

col. E. D. baker 160

From a photograph by Brady, about 1861.

lincoln and stuart's law-office, springfield , 168

lincoln's bookcase and inkstand 170

From the Keyes Lincoln Memorial Collection, Chicago.

globe tavern, springfield 174

Where Lincoln lived after Ms marriage.

william henry harrison 176

From a painting, in 1841, by Henry Inman, owned by Benja­min Harrison.

fac-simile of marriage certificate of abraham lincoln. 3.88

joshua speed and wife 192

From a painting by Healy, about 1864.

house in which abraham lincoln was married 208

gen. james shields 224

From a photograph owned by David Delany.

henry clay 240

After a photograph by Rockwood, from the daguerreotype owned by Alfred Hassack.

zachary taylor 256

From the painting by Vanderlyn in the Corcoran Gallery.

joshua R. giddings 288

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