President and Mrs. Lincoln Attend Services at New York Presbyterian Church

November 30, 1862

With Mary Todd Lincoln home from an extended trip to New England and New York, the family attended worship services at New York Presbyterian Church, a few blocks from the White House.  Journalist Noah Brooks, a Lincoln friend newly arrived in the capital, wrote a dispatch for his California Newspaper:

Last Sunday [November 30] I saw the President and his wife at church at Dr. Gurley’s (Presbyterian),where they habitually attend.  The building was crowded, as usual, with dignitaries of various grades, besides sinners of lesser note and rank.  Conspicuous among them all, as the crowd pour out of the aisles, was the tall form of the Father of the Faithful, who is instantly recognized by his likeness to the variety of his published likenesses.  The President and his wife are both in deep mourning for their son, who died last Spring, and his Excellency has grievously altered from the happy-faced Springfield lawyer of 1856, whom I then met on the stump in Illinois for Fremont. His hair is grizzled, his gait more stooping, his countenance sallow, and there is a sunken, deathly look about the large, cavernous eyes, which is saddening to those who see there the marks of care and anxiety, such as no President of the United States has ever before known.  It is a lesson for human ambition to look upon that anxious and careworn face, prematurely aged by public labors and private griefs, and to remember that with the fleetingly glory of his term of office have come responsibilities which make his life one long series of harassing care, and, while compelling him to save himself and his country from disgrace and reprobation, mark him with the daily scars of mental anxiety and struggle.  Whatever may be said of Abraham Lincoln by friend or foe, no one can ever question the pure patriots and the unblenching honesty of the man.  He inspires that feeling by his personal presence as much as by his acts, and as he moves down the church aisle, recognizing, with a cheerful nod, his friends on either side, his homely face lighted with a smile, there is an involuntary expression of respect on every face, and men, who would scorn to ‘toady’ to any President, look with commisserating admiration on that tall, mourning figure which embodies Abraham Lincoln, whom may God bless.”

Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Discusses War with Senator Orville H. Browning

November 29, 1862

Illinois Senator Orville H.  Browning, a long-time friend of President Lincoln who had recently been defeated for reelection, has a long talk at White House as Congress prepares to reconvene:  “At 12 I called on the President.   He was apparently very glad to see me, and received me with much cordiality.  We had a long familiar talk.   When speaking of the result of the recent elections I told him that his proclamations had been disasterous to us.  That prior to issuing them all loyal people were united in support of the war and the administration.  That the masses of the democratic party were satisfied with him, and warmly supporting him, and that their disloyal leaders could not rally them in opposition — They had no issue without taking ground against the war, and upon that we would annihilate them.   But the proclamations had revived old party issues — given them a rallying cry – capitol to operate upon and that we had the results in our defeat.   To this he made no reply.

I added that the Republican party could not put down the rebellion — that no party could do it — that it required a union of all loyal men in the free states to give us success, and that without that union we must disastrously fail.   To all this he fully assented.

I asked him weather Genl Pope was a failure, or whether he had been sacrificed by the bad faith of his officers.  He replied that he knew no reason to suspect any one of bad faith except Fitz John Porter, and that he very much hoped an investigation would relieve him from suspicion, but that at present he believed his disobedience of orders, and his failure to go to Popes aid in the battle of Friday had occasioned our defeat, and deprived us of a victory which would have terminated the war.   That all Popes orders, and al his movements had met with the full approval of Genl Halleck and himself with one exception. That during the conflict between Popes and the rebel army, he Ope, had placed a portion of his army in a position, which he pointed out to me on the map, which alarmed him, but that no bad results followed — in fact it had turned out fortunately

That after the last battle fought by Pope the army was much demoralized, and it was feared the enemy would be down on Washington.   In this emergency he had called McClellan here to take upon him the defence of the City — That he soon brought order out of chaos, and got the army in good condition. That for such work McClellan had great talents — Indeed for organizing, disciplining and preparing an army for the field and handling it in the field he was superior to any of our Genls. That when the rebels crossed into Maryland he sent for Burnsides and told him he must take command of our army, march against the enemy and give him battle.  Burnsides declined — said the responsibility was too great — the consequences of defeat too momentous — he was willing to command a Corps under McClelland, but was not willing to take the chief command of the army –hence McClellan was reinstated.  The battles of South Mountain and Antietam were fought with ability — as well as any Genl could have fought them, but McLellan was too slow in his movements.   He could and ought to have prevented the loss of Harper’s Ferry, but was six days marching 40 miles, and it was surrendered.  He did not follow up his advantages after Antietam.  The army of the enemy should have been annihilated, abut it was permitted to recross the Potomac without the loss of a man, and McClellan would not followed. He coaxed, urged & ordered him, but all would not do.  At the expiration of two weeks after a peremptory order to that effect he had only 3/4 of his army across the River, and was six days doing that, whereas the rebel army had effected a crossing in one day.

He concluded as he has in all the conversation I have had with him about McClellan by saying that his great defect was his excess of caution.   I asked him about what Butler told me in Springfield that Fitz John Porter & Genl Griffing had sent a despatch to McClellan to hold on, that they had Pope where they could ruin, and that this despatch was in the Presidents hands — He said there was no shadow of foundation for such a story and no truth in it.  I asked him about Burnsides army before Fredercksburg, and whether it was likely soon to accomplish any thing.  He answered that Burnsides was now here consulting upon that subject — That he and Hallack had just left the room as I entered   That to get at the enemy he had to cross the Rappanhannock, and that to cross in the face of an opposing strength, and could not ascertain it.  They had just been debating whether to move immediately, or whether to wait a few days till some collateral movement could be made to create a diversion which would render the passage less difficult, and that the question would be decided to day   Burnside had then gone with Halleck and would receive his final orders before he left him.

President Lincoln asks Attorney General Edward Bates for help regarding discord among Unionists in Missouri, factions of which plagued President Lincoln until his death: “Few things perplex me more than this questions between Gov. [Hamilton] Gamble, and the War Department, as to whether the peculiar force organized by the former in Missouri are ‘State troops,’ or ‘United States troops.’  Now, this is either an immaterial, or a mischievous question.  First, if no more is desired than to have it settled what name the forces is to be called by, it is material.  Secondly, if it is desired for more than the fixing a name, it can only be to get a position from which to draw practical interferences, then it is mischievous.  Instead of settling one dispute by deciding the question, I should merely furnish a nest full of eggs for hatching new disputes.  I believe the force is not strictly either ‘State troops’ or ‘United States troops.’  It is of mixed character.  I therefore think it is safer when a practical question arises, to decide that question directly, and not indirectly, by deciding a general abstraction supposed to include it, and also including a great more.  Without dispute, Gov. Gamble appoints the officers of this force, and fills vacancies when they occur.  The question now practically in dispute is ‘Can Gov. Gamble make a vacancy, by removing an officer, or accepting a resignation?  Now, while it is property that this question shall be settled, I do not perceive why either Gov. Gamble, or the government here, should care which way it is settled.  I am perplexed with it only because there seems to be pertinacity about it.  It seems to me that it might be either way without injury to the service; or that offer of the Secretary of War to let Gov. Gamble make vacancies, and he, the Secretary, to ratify the making of them, ought to be satisfactory.”

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Back from the War Front, President Lincoln Awaits Word

November 28, 1862

Somewhat mysteriously, General Ambrose Burnside telegraphs President Lincoln: “The officer that was to meet you this evening will call upon you at 8 — or 9 Oclock.”  The commander of the Army of the Potomac is maneuvering to get his army across the Rappahannock River to confront Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee.

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes President Lincoln regarding his upcoming annual message to Congress and the upcoming Emancipation Proclamation: “The noble sentiments and admirable language of your message touch my heart and increase my respect for your character and my affection for your person.

You did not ask my opinion of the particular plan developed, and, perhaps, I ought not to give it unasked.

Still I feel myself warranted by the very respect & affection I feel for you & my deep anxiety for the future of our country, in begging you to reflect whether, inasmuch as the argument of the message will apply, for the most part, as well to the proclamation, the acts to be yet performed by you under it, and to the scheme of compensated emancipation heretofore proposed, it would not be wise to forbear the introduction of the amendment of the Constitution and the recommendation of any more specific action than you have heretofore already submitted to the consideration of Congress

Men often agree as to a general policy, when details, such as time or mode, cannot be so easily agreed on. All our friends agree with you, in general, as to the ends to be reached by the proclamation & compensated emancipation: but many of them will probably be averse to attempting any such amendments of the Constitution as you have embodied in your draft of the pages.

In my judgment indeed there is no probability that a vote of two thirds can be commanded for any amendment of the constitution touching slavery or that any such amendment can obtain the sanction of two thirds of the States. Is it expedient to propose the measure if there is not a strong probability of its adoption? Will not such an act weaken rather than strengthen yourself and your administration?

Let me beg you most respectfully to consider these suggestions, if not already weighed and set aside.

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

General Burnside and President Lincoln Confer Regarding Offensive

November 27, 1862

Meeting aboard the steamer Baltimore near Aquia Creek, President Lincoln discussed military strategy with General Ambrose Burnside, the new commander of the Army of the Potomac.  President Lincoln writes General in chief Henry W. Halleck: “I have just had a long conference with Gen. Burnside.  He believes that Gen. Lees whole army, or nearly the whole of it is in front of him, at and near Fredericksburg.  Gen. B. says he could take into battle now any day, about, one hundred and ten thousand men, that his army is in good spirit, good condition, good moral, and that in all respects he is satisfied with officers and men; that he does not want more men with him, because he could not handle them to advantage; that he thinks he can cross the river in face of the enemy and rive him away, but that, to use his own expression, it is somewhat risky.  I wish the case to stand more favorable than this in two respect.  First, I wish his crossing of the river to be nearly free from risk; and secondly, I wish the enemy to be prevented from falling back, accumulating strength as he goes, into his intrenchments at Richmond.  I therefore propose that Gen. B. shall not move immediately; that we accumulate a force on the South bank of the Rappahanock–at, say, Port-Royal, under protection of one or two gun-boats, as nearly up to twentyfive thousand strong as we can.  At the same time another force of about the same strength as high up the Pamunkey, as can be protected by gunboats.  These being ready, let all three forces move simultaneously, Gen. B.’s force in it’s attempt to cross the river, the Rappahanock force moving directly up the South side of the river to his assistance, and ready, if found admissable, to deflect off to the turnpike bridge immediately North of Hanover C.H.; hurry North, and seize and hold the Mattapony bridge before mentioned, and also, if possible, press higher up the streams and destroy the railroad bridges.  Then, if Gen. B. succeeds in driving the enemy from Fredericksburg, he the enemy no longer has the road to Richmond, but we have it and can march into the city.  Or, possibly, having forced the enemy from his line, we could move upon, and destroy his army.  Gen. B’s main army would have the same line of supply and retreat as he has now provided; the Rappahanock force would that river for supply, and gun-boats to fall back upon; and the Pamunkey force would have that river for supply, and a line between the two rivers–Pamunkey & Mattapony–along which to fall back upon it’s gun-boats.  I think the plan promises the best results, with the least hazzard, of any now conceivable.”  He added: “The above plan, proposed by me, was rejected by Gen. Halleck & Gen. Burnside, on the ground that we could not raise and put in position, the Pamunkey force without too much waste.”

Published in: on November 27, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Meets with Army of the Potomac Commander

November 26, 1862

Historian William Marvel wrote: “Concerned about the army’s hesitation, Lincoln made arrangements to meet his general aboard the steamer Baltimore November 26, in the middle of Aquia Creek.  Burnside’s secretary went aboard the boat with him, but no one witnessed his conclave with the president.   Burnside complained of the witnessed his conclave with the president.  Burnside complained of the missing pontoons, a few of which began to appear only now, after [Confederate General James] Longstreet’s entire corps had occupied the opposite bank.  Lincoln had a plan to put a corps or more of reinforcement ashore at Port Royal, well downstream, and a similar force of new troops on the north bank of the Paunkey River, backed by gunboats.  These two could converge at or behind Fredericksburg while Burnside attacked head-on.  It was not bad strategy, as it could prevent Lee from falling back on Richmond while forcing him to abandon his lines at Fredericksburg.  Still, Burnside feared it would take too long to gather and deploy the other columns, which would put the campaign too far into winter; Halleck wanted Burnside to attack as soon as possible, or so he implied. Lincoln responded that he, as president, was in charge of such decisions, rather than Halleck.”

President Lincoln wrote Kentucky editor George P. Robertson: “A few days since I had a despatch from you which I did not answer.  If I were to be wounded personally, I think I would not shun it.  But it is the life of the nation.  I now understand the trouble is with Col. Utley; that he has five slaves in his camp, four of whom belong to the rebels, and one belonging to you.  If this be true, convey yours to Col. Utley, so that he can make him free, and I will pay you any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars.”  Lincoln scholar Roy P. Basler wrote: “On December 1, Robertson replied in a manner conclusively demonstrating Lincoln’s wisdom in withholding his first letter of November 20.  Robertson refused to acknowledge, as might any patriot concerned chiefly with preserving the constitutional rights of all loyal Kentuckians, that his personal affairs were the real issue.  His letter put the case thus:

In my late telegram to you I did not allude to either my boy Adam, or to Col. Utley, or to his case.  Divining your information, as you must have done, from some other source, you have been misinformed, and…misconceived the motive of my dispatch….I had put Col. Utley in the position which I preferred, and I neither intended nor desired to seek any …intervention in…my own case…The citation in my civil suit against him having been served, I can certainly obtain a judgement for $10000, and perhaps more…My object in that suit was far from mercenary — it was solely to try the question whether the civil or the military power is Constitutionally supreme in Kentucky…’

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Prepares for Military Conference with General Ambrose Burnside

November 25, 1862

President Lincoln telegraphs General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Armyh of the Potomac which was preparing for major milit: “If I should be in a Boat off Aquia-Creek, at dark to-morrow (wednesday) evening, could you, without inconvenience, meet me & pass an hour or two with me?”

President Lincoln also responds to a Chicago woman who was seeking a military commission for one of her sons: “ Your note of this morning is just received. If I can learn that your son has a commission from the Governor, enabling me to give him a staff appointment, and then any Brigadier General entitled to another staff officer, will ask to have your son for the place, I will appoint him. Without the first condition, it is not lawful for me to appoint him; and without the second, it would obviously be improper– Preserve this note & send it to me with any papers you may send, as evidence on the points named.

New York Times editor Henry J. Raymond, an influential Republican,  writes President Lincoln: “I beg permission “just once” to intrude upon your time & attention, in order to make a suggestion concerning the best mode of carrying into practical effect the policy of your Proclamation.

1. I think it clear that any attempt to make this war subservient to the sweeping abolition of Slavery, will revolt the Border States, divide the North and West, invigorate and make triumphant the opposition party, and thus defeat itself as well as destroy the Union.

2. I think it equally clear that an effort to use emancipation, within the limitation of law, against rebels as a military weapon purely & exclusively, will be sustained by the whole loyal country, Border States and all.

3. I suggest, then, that the Proclamation to be issued in January, take the form of a Military order, — commanding the Generals of the Army, within every designated state and part of a state in rebellion, to deprive the rebel forces of the aid direct & indirect derived from their slaves, by setting them free and protecting them in their freedom.

The advantages of such a mode of procedure, me judice, are;–

1. It avoids all cavil on points of legality and constitutionality.

2. It avoids the public odium and dissension inevitable to a in a more sweeping and less guarded movement.

3. It will free just as many slaves and thus attain the same practical results, inasmuch as no Proclamation can operate beyond the lines of our armies.

The only drawback I can think of is, that such a mode of reaching a result will not suit those who deem the mode of more importance than the result itself.

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Stands Firm on Dismissal of Major John J. Key

November 24, 1862

President Lincoln responds to a letter from former Army Major John J. Key, who had been dismissed from the service by President Lincoln in October: “A bundle of letters including one from yourself, was, early last week, handed me by Gen. [Henry W.] Halleck, as I understood, at your request.  I sincerely sympathise with you in the death of your brave and noble son.”

In regard to my dismissal of yourself from the military service, it seems to me you misunderstand me.  I did not charge, or intended to charge you with disloyalty.  I had been brought to fear that there was a class of officers in the army, not very inconsiderable in numbers, who were playing a game to not beat the enemy when they could, on some peculiar notion as to the proper way of saving the Union; and when you were proved to me, in your own presence, to have avowed yourself in favor of that ‘game,’ and did not attempt to controvert that proof, I dismissed you as an example and a warning to that supposed class.  I bear you no ill will; and I regret that I could not have the example without wounding you personally.  But can I now, in view of the public interest, restore you to the service, by which the army would understand that I indorse and approve that game myself?  If there was any doubt of your having made the avowal, the case would be different.  But when it was proved to me, in your presence, you did not deny or attempt to deny it, but confirmed it in my mind, by attempting to sustain the position by argument.

I am really sorry for the pain the case gives you, but I do not see how, consistently with duty, I can change it.

President Lincoln also responds to a letter from General Carl Schurz, a committed Republican upset with Democratic victories earlier in the month, in which Schurz wrote: .The people had sown confidence and reaped disaster and disappointment.  They wanted a change, and…they sought it in the wrong direction.  I entreat you, do not attribute to small incidents…what is a great historical event.  It is best that you…should see the fact in its true light and appreciate its significance: the results of the elections was a most serious and severe reproof to the administration….”  The President replies:

I have just received, and read, your letter of the 20th.  The purport of it we lost the late elections, and the administration is failing, because the war is unsuccessful; and that I must not flatter myself that I am not justly to blame for it.  I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and that I will be blamed, if I could do better.  You think I could do better; therefore I blame you for blaming me.  I understand you now to be willing to accept the help of men, who are not republicans, provided they have ‘heart in it.’  Agreed.  I want no others.  But who is to be the judge of hearts, or of ‘heart in it’?  If I must discard my own judgment, and take yours, I must also take that of others; and by the time I should reject all I should be advised to reject, I should have none left, republicans, or others–not even yourself.  For, be assured, my dear sir, there are men who have ‘heart in it’ that think you are performing your part as poorly as you think I am performing mine.  I certainly have been dissatisfied with the slowness of Buell and McClellan; but before I relieved them I had great fears I should not find successors to them, who would do better; and I am sorry to add, that I have seen little since to relieve those fears.  I do not clearly see the prospect of anymore rapid movements.  I fear we shall at last find out that the difficulty is in our case, rather than in particular generals.  I wish to disparage no one–certainly not those who sympathize with me; but I must say I need success more than I need sympathy, and that I have not seen the so much greater evidence of getting success from my sympathizers, than from those who are denounced as the contrary.  It does seem to me that in the field the two classes have been very much alike, in what they have done, and what they have failed to do.  In sealing their faith with their blood, Baker, an[d] Lyon, and Bohlen, and Richardson, republicans, did all that men could do; but did they any more than Kearney, and Stevens, and Reno, and Mansfield, none of whom were republicans, and some, at least of whom, have been bitterly, and repeatedly, denounced to me as secession sympathizers?  I will not perform the ungrateful task of comparing cases of failure.

In answer to your question ‘Has it not been publicly stated in the newspapers, and apparantly proved as a fact, that from the commencement of the war, the enemy was continually supplied with information by some of the confidential subordinates of as important an officer as Adjutant General Thomas?’  I must say ‘no’ so far as my knowledge extends.  And I add that if you can give any tangible evidence upon that subject, I will thank you to come to the City and do so.

Published in: on November 24, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Russian Post Causes Lincoln Problems

November 23, 1862

Secretary of State William H. Seward sent a note to President Lincoln: “Bayard Taylor, Mr Cameron’s Secretary, now in charge of the Legation desires to be Minister to Russia. I cannot, of course, [illegible] withhold his letter from you.1 How many complications this one mission produces.”

The American mission to St. Petersburg was a problem for the Lincoln Administration.   They had first sent Cassius Clay, an outspoken Kentucky abolitionist.   He last only a few months before he asked to be recalled, hoping for a military commission.  He was replaced in January 1862 by Secretary of War Simon Cameron, whom President Lincoln decided to remove from his post and needed a face-saving alternative.  Cameron also only lasted a few months.  In June 1862, Pennsylvania-born poet and travel-writer Bayard Taylor began his campaign to replace Cameron, writing Vice President Hannibal Hamlin:

Since reaching here, two facts have become apparent, both of which affect my plans — one favorably, and the other unfavorably. The first is, that Gen. Cameron will certainly not remain longer than September, when he will return to the United States. The second — Mr. Clay now regrets that he asked to be recalled, and desires to come back as successor to Mr. Cameron. He has already written to the President, asking to be re-appointed at the proper time. His object, however, as he frankly confesses, is simply to save a little money, by leaving his family behind him, and thereby reducing his expenditures. In this way, he could probably save some $3000 annually, but he would be equally satisfied with a position which would enable him to do the same thing at home. I do not wish to stand in the way of his interests, for I have a great admiration for his character and capacities; and if his object in asking to be returned were other than it is, would sacrifice my own desires. The true state of the case, however, does not oblige me to do this, and I see additional reasons for asking, most earnestly, to be allowed to remain in a higher capacity. I find that my volume of Travels in Russia has been approved by the Government Censor, and is allowed to be sold: I find, also, that my design of visiting Russian Asia could only be satisfactorily accomplished after I had been honored with some distinguished mark of the confidence of my Government — and the field is so vast, so important, and so interesting in its bearings on the future, not only of Russia but of all nations (our own included) that I cannot but think it worthy of some consideration at home. I have commenced the study of the Russian language, which I intend to master thoroughly. I intend also to make myself fully acquainted with the internal organization of the Empire — especially with all those phases and developments which it may be useful for us to know. In short, my residence here will be a period of earnest and laborious study, in which I hope to be of service to our beloved country. The researches and explorations I propose could, of course, only be accomplished after the termination of my official duties at this capital. For years I have looked forward to this work as the crowning labor of my life. If, on personal grounds, there is any hesitation in regard to my appointment, I have not a word to say: if not, I must ardently hope that other temporary political considerations may be laid aside, in this one instance.

In late October, Taylor renewed his campaign but writing Seward: “You will have already heard, through Mr. Cameron, that I desire to remain in charge of this Legation — that my only reason for accepting the Secretaryship was the opportunity which it gave me to qualify myself for more important duties. In this desire I am very anxious to have the support of your good-will, and therefore beg that you will hear the grounds on which I base my application.

As I have no purely political services to present, so I have no political ambition to gratify. My principal claim is, simply, the profound interest which I feel in Russia, her people, her present development, and her position with regard to the other great powers of the world. My knowledge of Turkey, Asia Minor, India, China and Japan, enables me to undertake the study, with peculiar advantages. The information which I am now gradually acquiring cannot fail to be of great value to the Government of the United States, in its future and possibly still more intimate relations with that of His Imperial Majesty. Without overestimating my own capacity, I may safely claim greater qualifications for the task — such as the knowledge of languages, the study of races, familiarity with European society and general experience of the world — than most of the applicants for the post, whose claims are based entirely on partizan services. The first measure applied to an American representative at foreign courts is that of social cultivation and general intelligence. His degree of political distinction at home is rarely understood, and has but a subordinate value. This post, especially, has not yet been filled by any one who has taken the trouble to acquaint himself with the language, institutions and natural destiny of the Empire. The Russians are sensitive on this point, and justly so. The little knowledge I have already been able to acquire has gained me their cordial good-will, and without any other recommendation, except their knowledge of me as an author, my relations with the officers of the Imperial Government are of the most cordial and agreeable kind.

Our interests here have been much damaged by the frequent changes in the Legation. My appointment would be one change the less — probably two, as I am willing to remain here for some years. You may ask, what is the selfish motive behind these reasons? It is, to produce a work in Russia which shall truly represent this great Empire to the world — which shall be so thorough and exact that it shall supersede all other works on the subject for many years to come. The necessary labor demanded by such a work would be almost entirely within the line of my official duty. In other respects, you are probably able to judge whether the interests of the country may be safely confided to my hands.

The above is my sole ambition. I shall never seek political distinction, I can save very little from the salary without damaging the standing of the Legation, and my social desires, so far as the circles of Courts are concerned, have already been satisfied. My private means have been so damaged by the war that I cannot afford to remain as Secretary, besides which, a subordinate capacity is not adapted to my habits of mind.

Taylor would not get the mission but he did get a Christmas Day note from President Lincoln suggesting that Taylor prepare a lecture on  “Serfs, Serfdom, and Emancipation in Russia.”   In 1863, Taylor would be named charge d’affaires at St. Petersburg.

Published in: on November 23, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Frustrated with General Nathaniel Banks

November 22, 1862

Having decided to replace Louisiana’s military Governor, Benjamin F. Butler, with another political general from Massachusetts, Nathaniel Banks, President Lincoln is frustrated with the failure of Banks to depart quickly for New Orleans.  He writes:

Early last week you left me in high hope with your assurance that you would off with your expedition at the end of that week, or early in this.  It is now the end of this, and I have just been overwhelmed and confounded with the sight of a requisition made by you, which, I am assured, can not be filled, and got off within an hour short of two months!  I inclose you a copy of the requisition, in some hope that it is not genuine–that you have never seen it.

My dear General, this expanding, and piling up of impedimenta, have been, so far, almost our ruin, and will be our final ruin if it is not abandoned.  If you had the articles of this requisition upon the wharf, with the necessary animals to make them of any use, and forage for the animals, you could not get vessels together in two weeks to carry the whole, to say nothing of your twenty thousand men; and, having, the vessels, you could not put the cargoes aboard in two weeks more.  And, after all, where you are going, you have no use for them.  When you parted with me, you had no such idea in your mind.  I know you had not, or you could not have expected to be off so soon as you said.  You must get back to something like the plan you had then, or expedition is a failure before you start.  You must be off before Congress meets.  You would be better off any where, and especially where you are going, for not having a thousand wagons, doing nothing but hauling forage to feed the animals that draw them, and taking at least two thousand men to care for the wagons and animals, who otherwise might be two thousand good soldiers.

Now dear General, do not think this is an ill-natured letter–it is the very reverse.  The simple publication of this requisition would ruin you.

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Emancipation Riles Border State Representatives

November 21, 1862

President Lincoln is informed by former Wisconsin Governor Alexander Randall of the controversy in Kentucky over the refusal of Army Captain William Utley to return a fugitive slave to editor George Robertson.   A Kentucky delegation also met with him.  The New York Tribune reported: “On Friday President Lincoln, in the course of an interview with unconditional Union Kentuckians, discussed at length the question of Emancipation. He said that he would rather die than take back a word of the Proclamation of Freedom, and he dwelt upon the advantages to the Border States of his scheme for the gradual abolishment of Slavery, which he urged them to bring fairly before their people.

They assured him that it should be done. They propose to start two Emancipation journals in Kentucky to counteract the influence of the Louisville papers, and when the proper time comes, Congressman Casey, Judge Williams, and perhaps Joseph Holt also will canvass the State. They are confident of achieving a success equal to that of the Missouri Emancipationists after they have once fairly got the question before the people.

Mr. Lincoln also expressed his determination to enforce vigorous measures to rid the State of Rebel sympathizers, and for that purpose a new Provost-Marshal General who has his heart in the work will be appointed.

Historian William Ernest Smith wrote that Maryland resident Francis P. Blair, Sr. “advises the President to recommend compensation for the slaves which were the property of Union men and had been lost through the operations of the war.  He proposed the confiscation of the estates of traitors and the use of their property in payment for the freed negroes.  ‘This deserves consideration,’ he says, ‘in view of the not improbable necessity of emancipation by martial law in the Gulph States.’  Such a blow, he thought, ‘would probably divide the slave holders & might bring openly to the side of the Union the greater portion of them with a view to prevent, if possible, the necessity of the measure and to be in condition to great the benefit of the law & it would deprive them of all sympathy,’ if they refused to come back into the Union and accept the offer.  He believed, too, that the slaveholders would not accept the offer unless the President offered to provide for the colonization of the freedmen.”

President Lincoln is annoyed with the lack of progress regarding reconstruction in Louisia and writes two letters to Military Governor  George F. Shepley: “Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for Congress in that State.  In my view, there could be no possible object in such an election.  We do not particularly need members of congress from there to enable us to get along with legislation here.  What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana, are willing to be members of congress & to swear support to the constitution; and that other respectable citizens there are willing vote for them and send them.  To send a parcel of Northern men here, as representatives, elected as would be understood, (and perhaps really so,) at the point of the bayonet, would be disgusting and outrageous; and were I a member of congress here I would vote against admitting any such man to a seat.

In a second letter, President Lincoln writes General Shepley to urge speedy elections: “Your letter of 6th. Inst. to the Secretary of War has been placed in my hands; and I am annoyed to learn from it that, at it’s date, nothing had been done about congressional elections.  On the 14th. of October I addressed a letter to Gen. Butler, yourself and others upon this very subject, sending it by Hon. Mr. Bouligny.  I now regret the necessity of inferring that you had not seen this letter up to the 6th Inst. I inclose you a copy of it, and also a copy of another addressed to yourself this morning, upon the same general subject, and placed in the hands of Dr. Kennedy.  I ask attention to both.”

I wish elections for Congressmen to take place in Louisiana; but I wish it be a movement of the people of the Districts, and not a movement of our military and quasi-military, authorities there I merely wish our authorities to give the people a chance–to protect them against secession interference.  Of course the election can not be according to strict law–by state law, there is, I suppose, no election day, before January; and the regular election officers will not act, in many cases, if any.  These knots must be cut, the main object being to get an expression of the people.  If they would fix a day and a way, for themselves, all the better; but if they stand idle not seeming to know what to do, do you fix these things for them by proclamation.  And do not waste a day about it; but, fix the election day early enough that we can hear the result here by the first of January.  Fix a day for an election in all the Districts, and have it held in as many places as you can.

Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment