Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Coming Home

From Letters of a War Correspondent by Charles A. Page, Special Correspondent of the New York "Tribune" during the Civil War

May 3, 1865,  Springfield, Illinois
. . . .The train that brought him to his long home, moved slowly into the town, moved slowly through the masses of "plain people" who had come from all the country round about. These people had known him always as the boy struggling for knowledge while he battled with poverty; as the young man who surveyed their lands, and read all night, when perchance he stayed at their humble houses ; as the rising young lawyer who pleaded the causes of the poor for " only sweet pity's sake," who upheld the weak against the strong for only justice's sake, and because oppression was hateful to him ; as the politician whose continual plea was: "Let us see if this thing be right; if it be right let us have it, but if it be wrong let us put it away from us;" as the State legislator who, with one other, against an intolerant majority dared to file upon the records his protest against slavery; as the Presidential Elector who each four years spoke his convictions in every town in the State, though in a hopeless minority, for conscience' sake, and yet never lost his temper or called bad names ; as the candidate for senator who deliberately said, "I will not be double-faced, I will utter the same opinions at both ends of the State, I will not be made Senator by a fraud." And by and by he was made President and went from among them ; and they, watching from afar, were proud that one of themselves had become, in virtue and in station, " the foremost man of all this world."

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