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ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A HISTORY
BY JOHN G. NICOLAY AND JOHN HAY

VOLUME ONE


TO THE HONORABLE ROBERT TODD LINCOLN

THIS WORK IS DEDICATED
IN TOKEN OF
A LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIP
AND ESTEEM


AUTHORS' PREFACE


A generation born since Abraham Lincoln died 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; 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 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

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