Hay entered quietly. “I saw the light, sir. Is there anything I can
shook his head but honestly was glad to see his young secretary. He
couldn’t talk to Mary any more. Not since Willie had died. The war was
only a nuisance to her now. John was his only confidant. No one in the
government. No one in the cabinet. Only this young man was left who
had Lincoln’s best interest at heart.
unless you can kick the Rebels out of Maryland for me.”
only I could, sir.”
as Lincoln looked back down at the Emancipation Proclamation. What a
wonderfully ugly man, Hay thought. He resembles no one else in the world.
Sometimes he stands like a giant or a god looking down on all the lesser
men, the mortal men of the world. And other times, like now, he can
make himself almost small. Stooped. Tired. Withered. Crushed by the
sir. If there’s nothing…”
was agitated today.”
sir. I noticed.”
has got his hands on some horrifying rumors, John. From England.” Hay
stopped breathing. Short prayer. The only good news from England is
Palmerston’s carriage driver is a friend of ours,” Lincoln said with
only a slight smile. “He tells us that if we lose tomorrow, and the
Rebels are allowed to remain in Maryland to threaten Baltimore and Washington,
France and maybe even Russia will enter into conversations with the
South aimed at resuming commerce.”
is something that could be overcome, Mr. President.”
John. I’m not sure that it could.”
silence. Only the rain. Lincoln’s attention had been drawn to a map.
a beautiful place, sir. I’ve been there, believe it or not,” Hay said.
beg your pardon.”
Nice farming land, down in a pretty little valley. Mostly Germans. It’s
got a nice, wide, beautiful little stream running through it.”
I’ve heard. It’s got an Indian name. I can’t remember.”
sir. Antietam Creek.”
glanced at the words one more time. These words will stop them. Not
the army. Not the navy. No military force on earth could stop the British
if they choose to challenge the blockade. But these words - these two
words - they will stop them. Tomorrow, with a victory, the war will
no longer be about politics, or state’s rights, or cotton or even wholly
about the Union any more. When the world hears these two words, nothing
will be the same – ever again.
passage is an excerpt
from To Make Men Free, and may not be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.
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