The scene was so touching I hated to disturb it, yet we could not stay there all day; we had to move on.
did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers
, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag
— who of his own will struck the shackles from the limbs of four millions of people — will be honored thousands of years from now as man's name was never honored before.
David Dixon Porter (8 June 1813 – 13 February 1891) was a United States naval officer during the American Civil War.
Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885)Edit
- Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885)
- It looked queer to me to see boxes labeled 'His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America'. The packages so labeled contained Bass ale or Cognac brandy, which cost 'His Excellency' less than we Yankees had to pay for it. Think of the President drinking imported liquors while his soldiers were living on pop-corn and water!
- There was a small house on this landing, and behind it were some twelve negroes digging with spades. The leader of them was an old man sixty years of age. He raised himself to an upright position as we landed, and put his hands up to his eyes. Then he dropped his spade and sprang forward. "Bress de Lord," he said, "dere is de great Messiah I I knowed him as soon as I seed him. He's bin in my heart fo' long yeahs, an' he's cum at las' to free his chillun from deir bondage ! Glory, Hallelujah ! " And he fell upon his knees before the President and kissed his feet. The others followed his example, and in a minute Mr. Lincoln was surrounded by these people, who had treasured up the recollection of him caught from a photograph, and had looked up to him for four years as the one who was to lead them out of captivity.
- It was a touching sight that aged negro kneeling at the feet of the tall, gaunt-looking man who seemed in himself to be bearing all the grief of the nation, and whose sad face seemed to say, 'I suffer for you all, but will do all I can to help you.'
- Mr. Lincoln looked down on the poor creatures at his feet; he was much embarrassed at his position. 'Don't kneel to me,' he said. 'That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God's humble instrument ; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs, and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this Republic.'
- His face was lit up with a divine look as lie uttered these words. Though not a handsome man, and ungainly in his person, yet in his enthusiasm he seemed the personification of manly beauty, and that sad face of his looked down in kindness upon these ignorant blacks with a grace that could not be excelled. He really seemed of another world.
- Ah this scene was of brief duration, but, though a simple and humble affair, it impressed me more than anything of the kind I ever witnessed. What a fine picture that would have made Mr. Lincoln landing from a ship-of-war's boat, an aged negro on his knees at his feet, and a dozen more trying to reach him to kiss the hem of his garments! In the foreground should be the shackles he had broken when he issued his proclamation giving liberty to the slave.
- Twenty years have passed since that event; it is almost too new in history to make a great impression, but the time will come when it will loom up as one of the greatest of man's achievements, and the name of Abraham Lincoln — who of his own will struck the shackles from the limbs of four millions of people — will be honored thousands of years from now as man's name was never honored before.
- It was a minute or two before I could get the negroes to rise and leave the President. The scene was so touching I hated to disturb it, yet we could not stay there all day; we had to move on; so I requested the patriarch to withdraw from about the President with his companions and let us pass on.
- He did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag and cause. We struggled on, the great crowd preceding us, and an equally dense crowd of blacks following on behind all so packed together that some of them frequently sang out in pain.
- It was not a model style for the President of the United States to enter the capital of a conquered country, yet there was a moral in it all which had more effect than if he had come surrounded with great armies and heralded by the booming of cannon. He came, armed with the majesty of the law, to put his seal to the act which had been established by the bayonets of the Union soldiers the establishment of peace and goodwill between the North and the South, and liberty to all mankind who dwell upon our shores.
- We forced our way onward slowly, and, as we reached the edge of the city, the sidewalks were lined on both sides of the streets with black and white alike all looking with curious, eager faces at the man who held their destiny in his hand; but there was no anger in anyone's face; the whole was like a gala day, and it looked as if the President was some expected guest who had come to receive great honors. Indeed, no man was ever accorded a greater ovation than was extended to him, be it from warm hearts or from simple ceremony.
- It was a warm day, and the streets were dusty, owing to the immense gathering which covered every part of them, kicking up the dirt. The atmosphere was suffocating, but Mr. Lincoln could be seen plainly by every man, woman, and child, towering head and shoulders above that crowd; he overtopped every man there. He carried his hat in his hand, fanning his face, from which the perspiration was pouring. He looked as if he would have given his Presidency for a glass of water I would have given my commission for half that.