President Lincoln Thanks General Philip Sheridan for Battle Victory

October 22, 1864

President Lincoln telegraphs General Philip H. Sheridan regarding his recent defeat of Confederates at Cedar Creek : “With great pleasure I tend to you and your brave army, the thanks of the Nation, and my own personal admiration and gratitude for the month’s operations in the Shenandoah Valley; and especially for the splendid work of October 19, 1864.”

President Lincoln writes William B. Campbell regarding affairs in Tennessee: “I presume that the conducting of a Presidential election in Tennessee in strict accordance with the old code of the State is not now a possibility. It is scarcely necessary to add that if any election shall be held, and any votes shall be case in the State of Tennessee for President and Vice President of the United States, it will belong, not to the military agents, nor yet to the Executive Department, but exclusively to another department of the Government, to determine whether they are entitled to be counted, in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States. Except it be to give protection against violence, I decline to interfere in any way with any presidential election.”

Politics mixing with judicial promotion in some letters to President Lincoln.   Senator John Sherman writes from Iowa: “In a conversation with Judge [Samuel F. ]Miller of the Supreme Court last evening he authorised me to say to you that he preferred the appointment of Gov. Chase as Chief Justice to any one named — and that he knew Judge [Samuel F.] Field concurred in this

He said he felt some delicacy in writing you as last winter he concurred in authorizing Judge Davis to say for him that the appointment of Judge Swayne would be acceptable — but subsequent reflection satisfied him that the public service would be best promoted by the selection of Gov Chase — As the hearty concurrence of the newly appointed Judges is vitally important I deem it proper to inform you of these facts — and I can assure you with great confidence that the profession in the States west of the Mississippi generally agree that Chase will bring more Judicial Strength to the Bench — and than any one named– I telegraphed you from Chicago in consequence of very decided opinions expressed there — in favor of Chase. With no personal preference between Chase & Swayne it is my firm conviction that Chase will reflect higher honor in the exalted position of Chief Justice than Judge Swayne & his appointment could be justified by obvious political reasons.

Allow me to say that Iowa is all right on the “main question” & will give you a greater majority than any man ever had in this State

Supreme Court Justice David Davis, who had been instrumental in Lincoln’s election as president, writes from his sick bed to President Lincoln: “I have been confined to my bed for three weeks which will account for my employing someone else to write for me. Chief Justice Taney is dead and of course you are thinking of his successor.1 I feel deeply and earnestly on the subject and have seen no reason to change my views since last Winter. I think now as then, that Judge Swayne ought to have the place; he is an able man and has been a practicing Lawyer all his life. Although of decided political views he has never been an active partisan. No regular partisan ought to be elevated to such a place Judic[i]al life should be kept as free as possible from party politics. To place a mere partisan in such a position weakens an administration and lessons the respect that should attach to the decisions of the Court. My earnestness on this subject must be my apology for addressing you in my weak state. If I was well I would go to Washington in person and solicit an interview.”

On a distinctly non-judicial matter, President Lincoln writes that Judge “James Hughes of Indiana is a worthy gentleman and a friend, whom I wish to oblige. He desires to trade in southern products, and all officers of the Army and Navy and other agents of the government will afford him such protection and such facilities of transportation, and otherwise in such business as can be consistently done with the regulations of trade and with the public service– ”

Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Watches Torchlight Procession Backing His Reelection

October 21, 1864

Tad Lincoln joins President Lincoln in observing a Republican torchlight procession from the second floor of the White House. Later, crowd calls for President, and he responds briefly.”   Journalist Noah Brooks later reports: “a splendid torchlight procession gotten up by the Lincoln and Johnson Club of this city. Nothing so fine has ever been seen in this city, and seldom, perhaps, has it been outdone elsewhere. Measuring by the length of the avenue, the procession was over two miles long, and it was resplendent from end to end with banners, torches, fireworks, transparencies and all of the paraphernalia of such a demonstration. Few finer sights could be shown than view of the length of Pennsylvania avenue, vanishing in the distance, gemmed with colored lights, flaming with torches, and illuminated with the lurid glare from shooting fires of red, green and blue Roman candles — the whole procession creeping like a living thing and winding its slow length around the White House, where the President looked out upon the spectacle…”   Stanley Kimmel wrote in Mr. Lincoln’s Washington: “Some fighting, the burning of a McClellan flag, and several arrests, enlivened the evening. In view of the immense number of persons on the streets, the amount of cannon-firing, and the incessant discharge of fireworks, it was remarkable that nothing of a more serious nature occurred.”

President Lincoln writes a pass for Judge James Hughes: “All officers of the Army and Navy of the United States are hereby authorized and required to afford every facility in their power to James Hughes of Indiana and his authorized agents or employees in the transmission to market of cotton or other products of the states in rebellion purchased by him or his agents, including transportation and protection, any orders to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Baltimore American editor Charles C. Fulton writes President Lincoln about the recent Maryland elections on October 12: “Owing to delay in receiving official returns of vote of Maryland troops on new constitution2 there has been considerable uncertainty felt as to result but all uncertainty is now removed by the arrival tonight of the commissioner sent to collect the vote in Sheridans army the new constitution has been clearly adopted by a majority of not less than 300 several organizations including the 3d Regt in West Va & the 3d Cav’y at Ft Gaines Mobile Bay these it is expected will considerably increase majority.” The election narrowly but conclusively approved the new Maryland constitution abolishing slavery.”

Published in: on October 21, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Issues Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

October 20, 1864

President Lincoln issues third proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving: “It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with his guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad, and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while he has opened to us new sources of wealth, and has crowned the labor of our working men in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of Freedom and Humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.”

Francis P Blair Sr. writes President Lincoln to push his son Montgomery for appointment as chief justice.   After outlining his family’s loyalty to the Union and President Lincoln, Blair writes: “Now I come to what I hope you will consider another & higher opportunity of serving you & the Republic by carrying your political principles & the support of your policy expressed in relation to the reconstruction, into the Supreme Court. I think Montgomery’s unswerving support of your administration in all its aspects coupled with his unfaltering attachment to you personally fits him to be your representative man at the head of that bench.’ He hesitatingly mentioned the fine qualities of his son, and assured the president that he could do nothing better to remove the cloud of ostracism which had descended upon Montgomery as a result of his removal from the Cabinet. Montgomery could go abroad, for his children needed to be educated, but he had to work in his profession to make a living. The elder Blair closed his letter by staring that, ‘Although I have urged this matter with some earnestness you will not infer that I set up any claim. You have done enough for the Blairs to entitle you to their gratitude & of their posterity.”

New York Attorney William O. Bartlett, a close friend of New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett, writes President Lincoln: “August Belmont bet $4.000 night before last that this State would go for McClellan.

Gen. [George B.] McClellan has been up to Fort Washington and spent a day with Mr. Bennett.

Mr. B. expressed the opinion to me, this morning, that you would be elected, but by a very close vote. He said that puffs did no good, and he could accomplish most for you by not mentioning your name.

Former Emigration Commissioner James Mitchell, an Indiana minister, writes President Lincoln in search of a new job: Permit me to state that I much desire to know the fate of my petition now in the hands of the Attorney General.

It is now near four months sinse the men of this Department cut off my salary, and assumed the remaining effects of my office (having drawn my files long before) If the Attorney General rules that my present position is not tenable, be so kind as to grant me one more so, that will not be so much exposed to the fierce fires of an unscrupulous faction on one hand and corrupt officials on the other; until I have time to form the necessary combinations for 1868 if God will permit me to live that long, for in this work success with me is a duty. Thank God the work for 1864 is done, and this administration will be continued in power– May your second term be as calm and peaceful as your first was dark and stormy — but I have fears Napolion has just entered on his new Combinations which were foiled last year by the action of England — in my opinion again do they include the United States, and North America. I hope I am wrong in this, but time will show.

I am thankful to you for what you have done– You have kindly laid down the foundation, and fixed the precedent, and I think the majority of the Nation will never permit a successor to build on any other– Yet I trust that class of opinions which I know have given you the vantage ground will not be abandoned in your second term.

My means being slender and my expenses sinse the revolution of political parties resulting in the election of Lain and McCarty to contest the seats of Bright and Fitch have been a heavy drain on my slender estate — as I have been under salary but a fragment of that long period through which I have looked to something like present results. I now therefore respectfully state that if I have a claim on the Government as an officer thereof — I desire to know it — as I stand in need of all I can legally claim.

I herewith submit a Copy of a paper some friends tendered on learning whilst at home that the appropriation for my office had been repealed.

Over a month later, as Attorney General Edward Bates is leaving office, he writes President Lincoln: “ beg your pardon for having overlooked, in the pressure of business, in my latter days in the office, the duty to give formal answer to your question concerning your power still to retain the Revd Mr Mitchell as your assistant or aid in the matter of executing the several acts of Congress relating to the emigration or Colonizing of the freed blacks.

It is too late for me now to give a formal opinion upon the question, as this is my last day in office. I can only say that, having examined all the acts referred to, I am satisfied that, notwithstanding the act which repeals the appropriation contingently, you still have something to do, under those acts; and therefore, that you have the same right to continue Mr Mitchell that you had to appoint him originally. And I hope it will be done, for he seems to be a good man, of zeal & capacity.

Published in: on October 20, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Missouri Causes President Lincoln Military and Political Difficulties

October 19, 1864

Political and military affairs in Missouri continue to be a problem. Illinois Governor Richard Yates writes: “From representations made to me by Committee & from the loyal people of North Missouri it is indispensable that more troops be sent. [Iowa] Gov [William] Stone of Iowa is willing to furnish them I am informed. I would urge upon you the importance of a telegraph order on him to send three tho[u]sand armed militia along the Hannibal & St Joe immy.”

Union General Carl Schurz writes President Lincoln about his political canvass and political problems in Missouri: “To-night I shall set out on a trip to Illinois and Wisconsin, having so far confined my labors to Pennsylvania and New-York.– As this is the place where I am awaiting orders, I hope the War-Department will not call on me for anything during my absence. Although it is not probable, yet, as a mistake might happen, I would ask you to drop a hint to those concerned.

Some time ago I wrote you a few lines about the state of things in Missouri and especially St. Louis.1 I should have been very glad to go there, had not the very precarious, and for a short time indeed alarming state of Mrs. Schurz’s health obliged me to spend here several days inactive. And now I can not so shape my appointments as to render a trip to St. Louis possible. But there is something else that can be done. A few days ago I had a conversation with Mr. Frederick Kapp, a leading German lawyer in New-York, — you probably know him. He took an active part in the Fremont-movement,2 but now he is willing to go to St. Louis and to use his influence there to heal up the existing divisions. As he was a member of the Fremont-National-Committee, he is likely to have considerable influence with the radical German element in Missouri. I shall write again to him to-day, and I hope he will start for St. Louis either this or next week.

In connection with this I would renew the suggestion I ventured upon some time ago. If you could do something in the way of placing some of the more important federal offices in Missouri at the disposal of the radical element, it would, no doubt, greatly facilitate a general reconciliation.

As a general thing the prospects are good. Pennsylvania has not done as well as she ought to have done, but I do not think there is any cause for alarm. The November-election will fetch out our heavy majorities.

From New York, attorney William Bartlett writes President Lincoln: “I do not know how you feel about the prospect, in Pennsylvania, at the Presidential election. Some of your friends here, whose judgment is commonly considered good, think there is no doubt whatever as to the result. For myself I confess that I am not without misgivings. I have not forgotten ’56. Your friends are not more confident now than Fremont’s were at that time. We might have saved the State then; we may lose it now. I am in possession of such information as leaves no doubt that much remains undone in that State which might be done. It would cost great effort and considerable money. I and my friends are ready and willing to furnish both; but not unless in your judgment it is advisable.

If you desire it I will repair at once to Washington, and submit to you the facts which I have, bearing on the case, and then I will be governed by your decision in the premises.

“Group of loyal Marylanders from east Washington, headed by band from Emory Hospital and carrying signs proclaiming ‘The Union Forever,’ joins delegation from Lincoln & Johnson Club of Washington and marches from Navy Yard to White House to serenade President Lincoln appears at upper window with Tad by his side holding torch, and responds to serenade.”

Maryland residents, accompanied by a band march from Navy Yard to the White House

President Lincoln responds to their serenade: “Something said by the Secretary of State in his speech at Auburn, has been construed by some into a threat that, if I shall be beaten at the election, I will, between then and the end of my constitutional term, do what I may be able, to ruin the government.”

Others regard the fact that the Chicago Convention adjourned, not sine die, but to meet again, if called to do so by a particular individual, as the intimation of a purpose that if their nominee shall be elected, he will at once size control of the government. I hope the good people will permit themselves to suffer uneasiness on either point. I am struggling to maintain government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling to maintain government, not to overthrow it. I therefore say, that if I shall live, I shall remain President until the fourth of next March; and that whoever shall be constitutionally elected therefor in November, shall be duly installed as President on the fourth of March; and that in the interval I shall do my utmost that whoever is to hold the helm for the next voyage, shall start with the best possible chance to save the ship.

This is due to the people both on principle, and under the constitution. Their will, constitutionally expressed, is the ultimate law for all. If they should deliberately resolve to have immediate peace even at the loss of their country, and their liberty, I know not the power or the right to resist them. I t is their own business, and they must do as they please with their own. I believe, however, they are still resolved to preserve their country and their liberty; and in this, in office or out of it, I am resolved to stand by them.

I may add that in this purpose to save the country and it’s liberties, no classes of people seem so nearly unanamous as the soldiers in the field and the seamen afloat. Do they not have the hardest of it? Who should quail while they do not?

God bless the soldiers and seamen, with all their brave commanders.

Union General Philip H. Sheridan rallies Union troops to defeat Confederate General Jubal Early at Battle of Cedar Creek.

Published in: on October 19, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Gets Reports on Campaign Progress

October 18, 1864

In Washington, President Lincoln meets with William O. Bartlett, a New York lawyer who is his primary link to James Gordon Bennett, the influential owner of the New York Herald.

Lincoln had been courting Bennett’s support – apparently even promising to appoint him as U.S. Minister to France.

From Pennsylvania, where the Republican Party is split into factions, Simon Cameron reports to President Lincoln on the October 11 state elections: “We are still, without the whole official returns — but I believe we will have 1500, or 2000. on the Congressional home vote — which is quite as much as we had a right to expect, considering that last year you sent home 17.000 to aid Gov. Curtin, and that he had only 15,560 maj — and that we have sent since to the field over 23,000– Looking at the votes in the counties, I find we have greatly increased our resident vote over Gov. Curtin; but we will do better, in Nov, and will give you 20 or 25.000. maj–

We have had difficulties in getting the army vote — and annoyances from officers at home which, with the aid of Mr Stanton and yourself, can be corrected, and will give us many votes. I will come to Washington, some day this week, to see you on the subject.

I am informed, by a Penn: officer stationed at Indianapolis, that all soldiers in the state, no matter where belonging, voted for Morton. He had no officers in command, that did not aid him. In this state we had very few of them to help us. A few changes would help us, greatly.

From Arkansas Christopher C. Andrews reports: “The 1st Brigade of the 3d Division 19th A. C. arrived here today from Morganza; and I learn that a few thousand more troops are coming from the lower Mississippi. One brigade of Gen. Dennis’s1 division arrived here about ten days ago; and the rest of the division is on the way up.

We ought to annihilate Prices’s army to compensate for the injury he has done.

Maj. Gen. Herron is at Little Rock having come up a few days ago.

Fortune may favor us by a rise in the Arkansas

I hardly think Price will venture this particular way in returning, as he must apprehend our getting reinforcements readily.

Conjectures amount to but little. The important thing is to have men enough in hand, and ready to strike and to march. I hope something will occur in our favor that is more than common place.

We have had two weeks of delightful weather, which is being taken advantage of by the troops at this place, in making earth works and building comfortable quarters.

I had the pleasure the other day of voting for you, the com

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay reports to the White House from Missouri where he had been sent to investigate reports about treasonous activities by anti-war secret societies: “I arrived here last night, having left St. Louis yesterday morning. I as there over a week, and talked very fully with our friends of all the different factions, and have I think as full and fair an understanding of their quarrels as one can get in such brief time.

My conclusion is, that there is little else than personal animosity, and the usual eagerness to appropriate the spoils, that is left to prevent a full and harmonious combination of all the Union voters of Missouri. Even these obstacles are fast giving way before the change and pressure of circumstances, and the mere lapse of time.

Of the Claybank faction, but little is left in point of numbers. Such portion of them as did not go to the Democracy (where they originally came from ) are fusing with the Radicals, until but a small nucleus, consisting of the office-holders, and a few old personal friends of Frank Blair, remains as a distinct and separate organization. They are held aloof more by pride and personal feeling, I think, than anything else.

A few days before my arrival in St. Louis, Mr. [William L.] Avery, the Secretary of the Western branch of the Union National Committee, had called a meeting of men belonging to the different factions, with a view of brining about united action, and also to devise measures for a more active campaign. The meeting was well attended, and the talk was conciliatory. A committee was appointed; when it met, Hume offered a resolution to raise a finance committee to collect funds, and Foy offered a substitute, proposing to vote for all candidates that would support Lincoln and Johnson, and that the primary meetings, conventions &c. for the selection of candidates should be called simply ‘Union’ meetings. The Radicals would not consent to strike the word ‘Radical’ from their party title, and voted down Foy’s substitute, whereupon he and others withdrew from the Committee. A number of Claybanks, however, took part in the primary meetings and conventions for nomination of the County ticket, and two or three Claybanks were put on the ticket.

Foy and Blair both told me that the only test they desire to make was that candidates, whether State, Congressional or County, should avow themselves for you. That the man who would not avow himself for you when the choice was only between yourself and McClellan, was clearly not your friend; and that you certainly could not wish your friends to vote for your enemies. While I was in St. Louis, the Claybanks held a caucus, to which I was invited, where the same sentiments were expressed, and at which a committee was appointed to address a letter to the various candidates, asking them the direct question whether or not they intended to support you. SO much for the Claybanks.

As to the Radicals, Hume called on me the day after my arrival, and told me that he had some weeks before interrogated Fletcher, the Radical candidate for Governor, and had received his private assurance that he would support you, but that he did not then deem it politic to declare his purpose, because such avowal would be almost certain to alienate from him a large number of Germans who were yet bitterly hostile to you, and who in such event would take measures to set up a ticket of their own. Afterwards I saw Fletcher, who had the evening before made a little reception speech at Barnum’s Hotel, in which, while announcing his determination not to vote for McClellan, he had not said anything about voting for you. Fletcher told me that when eh arrived, he had made up his mind to announce his purpose to vote for you; but that at Barnum’s he had found the letter of the Claybank Committee (which I have previously mentioned,) and the concluded he would not be coerced into an explanation; but that in the course of a week or ten days he would take occasion to declare himself for you. Meanwhile primary meetings had been held, and on Monday Oct 10th the County convention was held and a ticket nominated. The Convention did not adopt a resolution endorsing the national ticket. On the same day the Congressional Convention for the second District was held, and nominated Blow. He has not yet, even in private, admitted that he would vote for you. On the 12th, the Congressional Convention for the 1st District met Know was the candidate of the ‘Democrat’ Office clique – C. P. Johnson was the candidate of those against the Democrat. Johnson was nominated; but the Knox men contended that the nomination was unfair, and have bolted, and when I left were obtaining signatures requesting Knox to run independent. As that however would most likely insure the election of a Democrat, efforts were also being made to induce both Johnson and Knox to withdraw, and to combine the Union vote on Judge [Samuel T.] Clover [Glover]. The indications were when I came away that this would be done in a day or two.

I gave Mr. Foy your message and learned from him that he and the other office-holders are entirely willing to acquiesce in your wishes. They claim they have always been ready to support the ticket as soon as candidates were ready to declare themselves for you. I am satisfied that the indisposition on the part of both radicals and claybanks to come forward in a manly spirit and heal their dissensions, is due entirely to the long and chronic character of the quarrel, and that in the very nature of the case the reconciliation will be somewhat slow, although it seems to be going on pretty satisfactorily now.

It seems to be very well understood that with the exception of very few impracticables, the Union men will cast their votes, for you, for the radical Congressmen, for the Emancipation candidates for the State Legislature and the State Convention, so that in practice nearly everybody is right and united, while in profession everybody is wrong, or at cross purposes. I do not see that anything but time will abate the disorder.

When I arrived, Gen. Rosecrans had not yet issued his order about the election, and the radicals were very apprehensive, and anxious about that – more so than about their own factious quarrels, or the distribution of patronage. They said,’a good election order is the main thing we want. That, and that alone will enable us to carry the State.’ Rosecrans issued his order and they expressed themselves entirely satisfied with it. They said I might assure you would carry the State. Fletcher, who knows more of the other parts of the State than of the City, seems confident of the same result. He think he will be elected by ten thousand majority. I think he is perhaps too sanguine, but he seems pretty confident, and as he has lately been a good deal among the people, his judgment ought to be pretty good.

I urged upon the factions in the 1st Congressional district, that their quarrel ought not to be permitted to lose us the Congressman there – that if we continued to make giants as we had done in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania we should get a two-thirds vote in the House and thus be able to pass the Constitutional Amendment about Slavery. They acknowledge the importance of the matter and will I think unite on a third candidate and elect him.

Published in: on October 18, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Replacement Suggestions of Chief Justice Taney Hit White House

October 17, 1864

Recommendations to replace Chief Justice Roger B. Taney continue to flow to the White House – some obscure, some prominent. Former Ohio Governor David Todd writes President Lincoln: Allow me to advise that you leave the Chief Justiceship vacant until after the fall of Richmond. And then tender the position to [Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton. “I know whereof I speak” We have carried this State by about 50.000. including the Soldier’s vote. Your majority will be from 20.000 to 30.000. better, say 75.000.”

Perhaps more welcome was a letter from William Warburton: “I forward to day by Adams Express, another Hat, in place of the one first sent you, returned. I feel much gratified that Your Excellency has indicated your willingness to accept a Hat from your humble servant.

It will give me great pleasure to know that the Hat now sent fits properly, and is pleasing to you.

About this time, an Austrian vice consul, E.T. Hardy, wrote his government: “Mr. Lincoln will probably be the re-elected next President. It is usual to regard him as inferior intellect to some members of his cabinet, at the head of whom Mr. Seward is supposed to stand. But Mr. Lincoln wears well. As he is more honest, so he is more logical than the Secretary of State: as he is more original, so are his turns more unexpected, he is very shrewd and pointed in his observations and acts. I should regard him as a more formidable antagonist in any encounter than the Secretary, whose specious plausibilities are not always discreet.”

From Illinois, however, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne is pessimistic: “It is no use to deceive ourselves about this State.”

We have no close, active, efficient organization. Everything is at sixes and sevens and no head or tail to anything.

There is imminent danger of our losing the State.

Moulton, our candidate for Congressman at large, was here yesterday. He has been canvassing the State diligently since the 12th of August and he says that to-day we would lose the State by 10.000 majority without the soldiers vote.3

Steps must be taken, instantly, to have every soldier home possible.

Please consult with Mr. Stanton and have the most efficient measures taken to have our soldiers started home at once. There are vast numbers of them in hospitals and at garrisoned forts, who can be spared, if we cannot get any from the front

We shall lose 20.000 votes on our majority of 1860 in four northern Congressional districts.

The Copperheads are working with desperation.

If you would save our State from the most appalling calamity, pray do not neglect what I herein suggest about getting the soldiers home.– We want them home not only on the election day, but several days before.

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary: “Called on the President and urged on him the appointment of Mr Stanton as chief Justice. He said nothing in reply to what I urged except to admit Mr Stantons ability, and fine qualifications. I think he was pleased with what I said and I have some hope that he will adopt my suggestion.”

The complications of politics and the soldier vote is indicated in a letter from Norman Wiard to President Lincoln about Pennsylvania: “A few days before the Pennsylvania election,2 I learned that from three to four thousand of the employees of the Quarter Master Department, from Pennsylvania Ohio and Indiana had been over looked by all persons engaged in the effort to have voters at home during the election. I obtained this information from Col Ellison3 Q M of this Dept and immeadiatly went to the Capitol in company with Mr Halstead and informed Mr Washburne4 of the Con” Committee of the facts. He was much interested and imeadiatly called on the Sect” of War in reference to the matter The result was about one thousand voters went to Pennsylvania for the Union ticket who were [incited?] to go home by an arrangement made with the R. R. companies to send them at a fare of 1/4 of a cent a mile. The details of this arrangement was intrusted to Col Ellison Q M of this Dept, and to Captain Thomas5 Military Store keeper, each man being furnished with the necessary furlough. When they returned as I am informed, three of the men boasted they had voted the Copper Head ticket and upon hearing this Col Ellison discharged them. Where upon these Copper heads managed to get Col Ellison removed, and Captain Thomas it is said is to be subjected to the same discipline. It often proves dangerous for any one to support the administration a fact which is exciting much feeling among your supporters and friends. “

Lucien Anderson writes President Lincoln to report on conditions in Kentucky: “Genl. [Solomon] Meredith as you know is in command of the District We have made speeches in three of the Counties west of the river in accordance with the policy of the Gen’l which is wise & conciliatory the people in the Counties where we have been have attended and listened attentively and they profess to be all right in many places I think they intend to do right the town of Mayfield in Graves Co. which is near the center of the seven Counties west of the river heretofore occupied by our troops was last night evacuated and the troops withdrawn to this place which leav[e]s all these Counties subject to rebell & Gurillia rule unless these Counties are held of course no votes will be polled the Genl says he intends to reoccupy that place in a few days, but says his forces are not sufficient to hold beyond a doubt the whole of these Counties therefore he desires more troops immediately which I hope will be given him, the whole district shall be canvassed if tis possible to do so, nothing on my part shall be wanting, I hope Kentucky will do her duty in this contest, am not however sanguine, if she fails it will not be the fault of the true men of the state.”

Published in: on October 17, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Military Questions Dominate in the Middle of Political Campaign

October 16, 1864

General Philip Sheridan is on his way from the Shenandoah Valley to Washington for military conferences. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton writes President Lincoln from Fortress Monroe: “Have just arrived and will go on immediately.1 It has occurred to me to propose Genl Jno A Logan for Missouri, or else for Hooker’s present command, and then Hooker go to Missouri– What is your opinion in respect to this proposition? Expect to reach City Point at 9. AM– Please let me have your answer.” President Lincoln and Stanton are contemlating a replacement for General William S. Rosecrans as commander of Missouri.

Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson writes President Lincoln regarding military affairs: “Sometime since for varied reasons and in compliance with the wishes of the real Union men of this state I requested the Secy of War to include all Eastern Tenn in the Dept of the Cumb[erland]. This should be done I hope there is no objection to it by the Executive The change can produce no conflict but on the contrary will produce harmony & concert of action I have again renewed the request to the Secy of War & hope that there will be favorable action on the part of the Prest & the Secy of War.”

Meanwhile, military authorities are questioning the treasonable intent of anti-war societies operating in the North. William Frank Zornow wrote in Lincoln & the Party Divided: “The Dodd trial had no sooner ended than Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt issued a report on October 16 further exposing the activity of the secret societies. This report was based to a large extent on information supplied by Rosecrans, Carrington, Morton and Colonel Sanderson, who had been investigating the organizations for many months. The Holt report served as a convenient device to keep the public aware of the nature and magnitude of the treason being committed by the Democratic party. A special edition was prepared and circulated as campaign propaganda. ‘If there is a prudent, a thoughtful, a patriotic man in this country who thinks of voting for McClellan, we pray him to study the astounding testimony in the treason trial at Indianapolis,’ said the New York Tribune. ‘There is no longer room for a doubt of its nefarious purposes. The evidence in the trial of Dodd…is overwhelmingly conclusive,’ echoed the Boston Daily Journal.

Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Attends Funeral of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney

October 15, 1864

The funeral of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney is held early in the day. Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary regarding the funeral of Chief Justice Taney: “The Prest. Sec.y Seward and the P.M. Genl. Gov Den[n]ison, attended the body, from the dwelling to the cars.” Bates adds: “Mass was sung in the Jesuits’ church at Fred[eric]k. And I saw his body placed in the grave (beside his mother, as he had ordered) in the old church yard there.”

Historian Allan Nevins wrote: “We have some evidence (although secondhand) confirming the supposition that the President had thought of naming Chase as Chief Justice some time before Taney’s death. According to Orville H. Browning, Secretary of the Treasury Fessenden told him on the morning after Taney died that he knew the post would be Chase’s. Fessenden tells us that after Chase resigned, Lincoln refused to reinstate him in the Cabinet despite Fessenden’s plea that he do so. Lincoln spoke of his respect for Chase, adding that if the Chief Justiceship was now vacant, he would appoint him to that place. When, a few days later, Browning called on Mrs. Stanton, she asked him to see the President about naming the Secretary of War as chief Justice. Browning wrote in his diary that he feared the appointment of Chase, and was anxious to prevent it.”

Chase himself recorded in his diary at the end of June that the President had spoken of intending to appoint him Chief Justice if a vacancy occurred. Chase had learned this from Congressman Samuel Hooper of Massachusetts, who received the intelligence from Lincoln in the midst of the Cabinet crisis.

Support for various candidacies quickly mobilizes. From Concord, New Hampshire, William E. Chandler recommends former Postmaster General Montgomery Blair. California heavyweights Theodore Low and Stephen Field write President Lincoln: “The appointment of Hon S P Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court vice Taney deceased would in our opinion be eminently Judicious & highly satisfactory to the loyal people of the Pacific Coast.” From the Chicago Tribune, Joseph Medill writes: “The result of last Tuesday’s election was too much for old Dred Scott Taney.1 He saw that it was useless to stay any longer, so he made his exit.

Now, for his successor I am convinced that 99 of every 100 of your political friends and supporters desire you to make Mr. Chase Chief-Justice. You never did a more popular act in your life than to appoint him to the vacancy.

Vice President Hannibal Hamlin writes President Lincoln to suggest Treasury Secretary William P. Fessenden for Taney’s post: “I notice by the papers the name of Secy Fessenden1 in connection with the apt. of Chief Justice of the S C of the U. S.2

I wish I could see you and if it would be of any avail I would go to W to see you– I presume Mr F would be much gratified with the apt and is most eminently qualefied for the place, and let me assure you, if you can consistently give him the place it will confer a lasting obligation upon me–

I go to N. Y. and Pa to engage in the Prest canvass

Defeated for renomination as vice president, Hamlin’s recommendation may not have been altruistic. Fessenden’s nomination would take him out of contention for the senatorial post from Maine that Hamlin wanted to occupy.


Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Peace and Politics are Mixed by Illinois Politicians

October 14, 1864

Judge Ebenezer Peck writes James W. Singleton, a strong peace Democrat who appears to want to undermine the Democratic presidential campaign of : “I received yours yesterday and this morning I had an interview with the President in relation to its contents; with every desire on his part to comply with your request in the premises; he does not deem it compatible to do so. The favorable results of the recent elections, might subject him to the imputation of being willing now, to disregard the desires of the radical men, who have so reluctantly come in to his support, and thus subject him to the imputation of catering to new element in disregard of their opinion.”

He stated during the conversation, that a rominent and sensible radical, had stated to him in a conversation upon this subject; and had while he (the radical) might afford to make the hazard of such a declaration as you desire, that the President could not.

Mr. L. spoke very kindly of you expressing his full confidence in your integrity of purpose, and intentions — he could not under advice, in the present juncture of affairs, do what you, and I might add, he desired.

I asked him if he could say that if any state in rebellion, Georgia for instance would cease hostilities, elect her senators and representatives, and then ask to be recognized as a state of the Union; to enjoy her full rights and immunities as such (now obstante slavery) in all respects, as before the rebellion, he would be for recognizing such state, and restore the people thereof, as if no difficulties had intervened; he said, although there would be no hesitation on his part so to say and act, if the fact should so be, and the event should occur, yet he did not feel justified so to avow in advance especially where so many imputations would rest upon a declaration, having the appearance of propitiating votes, from men who are not cordial, in support of his general administration.

I might add much more of expressions [of] Mr. L only of kindness to yourself and your motives; but in favor of a policy which I suppose you to have, and I know I have thoroughly at heart; an honest continued and beneficient peace, one which will bring to the country prosperity, permanency, unity and of consequence a happiness now apparently departed.

Discussion of the replacement for deceased Chief Justice Roger B. Taney continues. Presidential aide John Hay writes: “Judge [Joseph] Lewis talked to me this morning earnestly against [former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P.] Chase for that place. He says he is not a man of enlarged legal or financial knowledge that his supreme selfishness has gradually narrowed and concentrated his views of things in General; that his ignorance of men, & many other things that I knew before &c &c.

He says he thinks Chase really desired, toward the end of his continuance in office to injure and as far as possible destroy the influence and popularity of the Administration. By his constant denunciation of the extravagance of expenditure, his clamour against the inefficiency of other departments, his personal tone of slighting comment upon every act of the President, and more than all by his steady & persistent attempts to make the taxes more & more burdensome upon the people, (having increased his demands from $150,000,000 to $300,000,000 in the face of Lewis’ and Morrills representations) he clearly indicated his desire to excite popular discontents and grumblings against the Government.

His selfishness, continued the Judge, blinded him utterly to the character of the flatterers who surrounded. (I gave him some instances of this.) Lewis says that Field, for whom he gave up his place expressed himself as relieved by his absence.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “Seward was quite exultant over the elections; feels strong and self-gratified. Says this Administration is wise, energetic, faithful, and able beyond any of its predecessors; that it has gone through trials which none of them has ever known, and carried on, under extraordinary circumstances and against combinations such as the world has never known, a war unparalleled in the annals of the world. The death of Judge Taney was alluded to. His funeral takes place to-morrow. The body will pass from his residence at 7 A.m. to the depot; and be carried to Frederick, Maryland. Seward thought it his duty to attend the funeral in this city but not farther, and advised that the President should also. The AttorneyGeneral deemed if his duty and a proper courtesy to go 1864 with the remains to F. The President inquired my views. I thought the suggestions in regard to himself and Messrs. Seward and Bates very well, and it would be best not to take official action but to let each member of the Cabinet act his pleasure. For my own part, I felt little inclined to participate. I have never called upon him living, and while his position and office were to be respected, I had no honors for the deceased beyond those that were public. That he had many good qualities and possessed ability, I do not doubt; that he rendered service in Jackson’s administration is true, and during most of his judicial life he was upright and just. But the course pursued in the Dred Scott case and all the attending circumstances forfeited respect for him as a man or a judge.”

Published in: on October 14, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Politics Preoccupies President Lincoln

October 13, 1864  

President Lincoln visits the Telegraph Office at the nearby War Department for news of recent state elections. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “The President is greatly importuned and pressed by cunning intrigues just at this time. Thurlow Weed and [Henry J.] Raymond are abusing his confidence and good nature badly. [John] Hay says they are annoying the President sadly. This he tells Mr. Fox, who informs me. They want, Hay says, to control the Navy yard but dislike to come to me, for I give them no favorable response. They claim that every mechanic or laborer who does not support the Administration should be turned out of employment. Hay’s representations alarmed Fox, who made it a point to call on the President. F. reports that the President was feeling very well over the election returns, and, on the subject of the Navy Yard votes, expressed his intention of not further interfering but will turn the whole matter over to me whenever the politicians call upon him. I have no doubt he thinks so, but when Weed and Raymond, backed by Seward, insist that action must be taken, he will hardly know how to act. His convictions and good sense will place him with me, but they will alarm him with forebodings of disaster if he is not vindictive. Among other things an appeal has been made to him in behalf of Scofield, a convicted fraudulent contractor, who is now in prison to serve out his sentence.”

President Lincoln writes Indiana Governor Oliver Morton: “ In my letter borne by Mr. Mitchell to Gen. Sherman, I said that any soldiers he could spare for October need not to remain for November. I therefore can not press the General on this point. All that the Sec. of War and Gen. Sherman feel they can safely do, I however, shall be glad of.”

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary: “Chief Justice [Roger B.] Taney died last night. This morning I called on Secy Fessenden on business for Mr Wm Butler of Illinois, and others, and after despatching my business I asked Mr Fessenden if his friends, without his participation, would procure him to be appointed Chief Justice, he would accept the place. He replied that if would be vain to make an effort in his behalf, and that he could not consent that any steps should be taken by his friends looking to such a result, for he knew that the place was designed for Mr Chase, and that the appointment would be tendered to him, and accepted by him — that when Mr Chase resigned as Secretary of the Treasury, and Tod, of Ohio, was nominated to the vacancy he, Fessenden, as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Senate called on the President to induce him to withdraw Tod’s nomination and reinstate Mr Chase — that the President refused to do so, and showed a determination not to take him back into the cabinet, but remarked that he had great respect for Mr Chase, and that would appoint him to that place – that previously when it was thought the Chief Justice was near his end, he had made up his mind, in the event of his death to appoint Mr Chase, and that he had not changed his mind, and would appoint him now if the place was vacant. Mr Fessenden added that he had communicated this conversation to Mr Chase as his friend — that he was satisfied Mr Chase would accept, and that he could not now, honorably, consent that any movement should be made in his behalf.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes John G. Nicolay of Taney’s death: “I have not heard anything this morning about the succession. It is a matter of the greatest personal importance that Mr Lincoln has ever decided.” Hay writes in his diary: “Last night Chief Justice [Roger B.] Taney went home to his fathers. The elections carried him off, said Banks this morning.

“Already (before his poor old clay is cold) they are beginning to canvass vigorously for his successor. Chase men say the place is promised to their magnifico, as crazy old [Adam] Gurowski styles him.

“I talked with the President one moment. He says he does not think he will make the appointment immediately. He will be, he says, rather ‘shut pan’ in the matter at present.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “Chief Justice Taney died last night, in ripe old age – 88. The event has been long expected and takes no one by surprise. I called at his house last evening, and was told the he was not better, and I was prepared, at any moment to hear of his death.” Bates adds: “He was a man of great and varied talents: a model of a presiding officer; and the last specimen within my knowledge, of a grave and polished old fashioned gentleman.”

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “The President is greatly importuned and pressed by cunning intrigues just at this time. Thurlow Weed and Raymond are abusing his confidence and good nature badly. Hay says they are annoying the President sadly. This he tells Mr. Fox, who informs me. They want, Hay says, to control the Navy Yard but dislike to come to me, for I give them no favorable response. They claim that every mechanic or laborer who does not support the Administration should be turned out of employment. Hay’s representations alarmed Fox, who made it a point to call on the President. F. reports that the President was feeling very well over the election returns, and, on the subject of the Navy Yard votes, expressed his intention of not further interfering but will turn the whole matter over to me whenever the politicians call upon him. I have no doubt he thinks so, but when Weed and Raymond, backed by Seward, insist that action must be taken, he will hardly know how to act. His convictions and good sense will place him with me, but they will alarm him with forebodings of disaster if he is not vindictive. Among other things an appeal has been made to him in behalf of Scofield, a convicted fraudulent contractor, who is now in prison to serve out his sentence. Without consulting me, the President has referred the subject to Judge-Advocate General Holt, to review and report to him. Holt knows nothing of the case, and, with his other duties, cannot examine this matter thoroughly. Why should the President require him, an officer of another Department, wholly unacquainted with the subject, to report upon it? There are probably two thousand pages of manuscript. The New York party jobbers are in this thing. They will . . . try to procure [Scofield's] release and pardon for a consideration.”

Maryland adopts new constitution that abolishes slavery.

Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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