President Lincoln Calls Senate into Session

February 28, 1863 

President Lincoln writes: “Whereas objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at twelve o’clock on the fourth of March next, to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive: Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, have considered it to be my duty to issue this my Proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the City of Washington, on the fourth day of March next, at twelve o’clock at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body are hereby required to take notice.”  President Lincoln goes to the capitol to sign appointments and promotions.”

Published in: on February 28, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Deals with Job Requests

February 27, 1863

President Lincoln writes Quartermaster General  Montgomery C. Meigs, still seeking a job for the son of longtime friend Edward D. Baker, who was killed at the Battle of Balls’ Bluff in October 1, 1861: “What I said within for Lieutenant Baker to be a Commissary I now say for him to be a Quarter Master.”

President Lincoln write Barney Williams, a blackface minstrel whose show Lincoln had recently visited: “Your note of today is received. I do not think I can put your nephew among the first ten appointments now soon to be made. I really wish to oblige you; but the best I can do is to keep the papers, and try to find a place before long. Yours truly,

Members of Congress from the West visit the White House to discuss trade.

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Worries about Racial Troubles in Missouri

February 26, 1863

Attorney General Edward Bates talks with President Lincoln at War Dept. about antidraft disturbances in Bates’ home state of Missouri.  Bates writes in his diary: “I found Mr. Stanton in consultation with the Prest and the Genl. in chief (Halleck) and perhaps I ought to have retired, but, being invited in, I entered and made a brief statement – Mr. S’s manner was impatient and brusque – not to say uncivil – He, plainly, did not understand my object, and answered as if to an accusation – said the draft com[mis]s]ione]r. (Mr. Pors) was appointed by his authority, under the cons:[cript] Law and the genl. Laws of war.  I said there was a statute which perhaps gave the P. the power.  He seemed to acquiesce, referring to the act of [ ] July, 62 – and said refer the papers to him, and he’d give full answer. – I said, well, and left – but there is nothing to refer to Mr. Stanton.” Bates added: “When I entered, the Prest rose, and with a bland countenance, advanced and shook [h]ands.  The Secy.l and the Genl. Kept their seats, and I thought looked disturbed and sulky.  The genl. I know ‘has no love for me,’ and the Secy. I fear, would break with me outright, if he thought it quite safe. I shall be prudent with both, taking good care not [to] trust myself in their power – in any thing [.]”

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

National Bank Act is Signed by President Lincoln

February 25, 1863

President Lincoln signs the National Bank Act developing a uniform banking system to support the currency legislation passed a year earlier.  Historian Walter A. McDougall noted that “fierce opposition from Wall Street, state banking interests, and old Jacksonians delayed passage until February 1863, when Senator John Sherman offered bribes under the guise of a compromise. One amendment killed proportional distribution of the Treasury’s largesse in favor of the large eastern banks, and another ensured 100 percent redemption of federal notes only at national banks based in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. The financial community, theretofore surly, found patriotism plus 5 percent more to its liking. All those initiatives were grist for the mills of hustlers and frauds. But the extraordinary Republican package made the partnership between the public and private sectors more than a motto.

Attorney General Edward Bates writes: “At night, Mr. [Isaac] Newton and Mr. Sargent called to see me, and Mr. N (as usual) had secrets to tell – He took me aside to say he must have a talk with me, but now – saying only that he had just had a long private talk with the P. partly about me – that the P. assured him that he had full and unabated confidence in me”.

This was in answer to my frequent refusals to go to the P. at his N’s instance, and volunteer opinion and advice, when not asked. In fact, for some time I have not recd. the consideration which I thought my due, especially in regard to Mo. Affairs — and also, some matters proper to my own office — I do not doubt the [Presidents’s] personal confidence, but he is under constant pressure of extreme factions and of bold and importunate men, who taking advantage of his amiable weakness, commit him beforehand to their ends, so as to bar all future deliberation.

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Lincoln Cabinet discusses possible embarrassment of General George B. McClellan

February 24, 1863

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary regarding Cabinet meeting: “In C.C. the Prest. produced a Resolution of the senate, asking for a letter of Genl. Scott, written just before his retirement, complaining of Gen McClellan’s neglect and disobedience of orders[.]

The P. doubted the propriety of sending it, and put the question.

“He considered it a blow at McClellan, which he thought impolitic and unhandsome on our part.

“I gave my opinion agst. Sending the letter – partly on the P[resident]’s ground, but chiefly on the ground that it was more a covert attack upon the P. than an open one upon McClellan.

“I understood Mr. Seward and several others to concur in my view.  Mr. Chase alone, spoke openly for giving the letter, not on the ground that ti was wisely called for, but that we ought not to seem to have secrets.  I thought it wd. Be refused.

A group of West Virginia citizens visit President Lincoln, who writes General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck: “This morning the West-Virginia delegation call and say that the enemy contemplate invading & over-running them, in the early Spring; and that, for this object, among other things they are building a plank-road from Staunton to Beverly. To meet this our friends are anxious, first, that the 7 Virginia Infantry, and the 1st. Virginia Cavalry both now under Gen. Hooker, may be sent back to West-Virginia. These regiments are greatly reduced, our having not more than one hundred and sixteen men. Secondly, they desire that, if, possible, a larger portion of their force in West-Virginia, should be mounted, in order to meet the increasing guerallaism with which they are annoyed & threatened.  Can these things, or some of them, be done?”

At night, President Lincoln goes to  blackface minstrel performance by Barney Williams at Grover’s Theater.

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Simon Cameron Resigns as Minister to Russia

February 23, 1863

President Lincoln deals with the replacement of former Secretary of War Simon Cameron as U.S. minister to Court of St. Petersburg.   Cameron has been in the job for only a year.  He was appointed in a face-saving move after Lincoln forced him out of the War Department.   Kentucky firebrand Cassius Clay, who preceded Cameron in the Russian post, now wants his old job back.  Cameron biographer Erwin S. Bradley writes: “Although a candidate for the Senate in January, 1863, the minister to Russia could see no impropriety in retaining his post.  In Washington, enemies of Cassius Clay, fearful of his entrance into the Lincoln Cabinet, were pressing for Cameron’s resignation in order to rid themselves of Clay.  At Lincoln’s request he visited the White House on December 14 and had two Presidential interviews during January, 1863, but the matter dragged on for two months until Lincoln peremptorily demanded a decision.  On February 23, 1863, in the midst of the embarrassing inquiry of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives into the methods of his Senatorial candidacy, Cameron tendered his resignation to Lincoln.  Not only was concern for his family’s health a compelling factor in his decision; he was also ‘activated by a strong desire once more to mingle with his countrymen,’ and to use all his energy ‘in every measure essential to the overthrow of a conspiracy.’  He gave assurances of continued support for the Lincoln administration.  If given the power to do so, he would not recall one recommendation offered during his cabinet tenure.  This last remark, clearly a slap at the President, referred to his altered report on arming of the slaves.”

Published in: on February 23, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Amid Snow, President Lincoln Decides Not to Attend Church Service at Capitol

February 22, 1863

Having discussed the issue with his cabinet, President Lincoln decides not to attend a meeting of the U.S. Christian Commission in House of Representatives.  He writes Alexander Reed: “While, for reasons which I deemed sufficient, I must decline to preside, I can not withhold my approval of the meeting, and it’s worthy objects.  Whatever shall be sincerely, and in God’s name, devised for the good of the soldier and seaman, in their hard spheres of duty, can scarcely fail to be blest.  And, whatever shall tend to turn thoughts from the unreasoning, and uncharitable passions, prejudices, and jealousies incident to a great national trouble, such as ours, and to fix them upon the vast and long-enduring consequences, for weal, or for woe, which are to result from the struggle; and especially, to strengthen our reliance on the Supreme Being, for the final triumph of the right, can not but be well for us all.

“A severe snowstorm.  Did not venture abroad,” writes Navy Secretary Gideon Welles in his diary.  “Had a call from [Navy Captain John]  Dahlgren, who is very grateful that he is named for admiral.  Told him to thank the President, who had made it a specialty; that I did not advise it.  He called with reference to a written promise the President had given one Dillon for $150,000 provided a newly invented gunpowder should prove effective.  I warned Dahlgren that these irregular proceedings would involve himself and others in difficulty; that he President had not authority for it; that there was no appropriation in our Department from which this sum could be paid; that he ought certainly to know, and the President should understand, that we could not divert funds from their legitimate appropriation.  I cautioned him, as I have had occasion to do repeatedly, against encouraging the President in these well-intentioned but irregular proceedings.  He assures me he does restrain the President as far as respect will permit, but his ‘restraints’ are impotent, valueless.  He is no check on the President, who has a propensity to engage in matters of this kind, and is liable to be constantly imposed upon by sharpers and adventurers.  Finding the heads of Departments opposed to these schemes, the President goes often behind them, as in this instance; and subordinates, flattered by his notice, encourage him.  In this instance, Dahlgren says it is the President’s act, that he is responsible, that there is in his written promise, that is not my act nor his (d.’s).

Published in: on February 22, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Lincoln Host Saturday Reception

February 21, 1863

The Lincolns again hold a regular Saturday afternoon levee at White House. President looks haggard and careworn,” reports  Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, “yet he preserves his good nature.” New York Herald reports that “the President was cordial in his greetings, and Mrs. Lincoln manifested towards all visitors the affability for which she is distinguished.”

Dr. Anson Henry, President Lincoln’s former physician from Springfield, visits the Washington and has dinner with the Lincolns.   Dr. Henry was a close family friend who lived in Oregon; he always interested in a better patronage position.

Published in: on February 21, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Meets with Chippewa Indians at the White House

February 20, 1863

Worry about the military strategy to retake Charleston continues.  Assistant Navy Secretary Gustavus V. Fox writes Samuel F. Dupont, who is commanding the attack on Charleston, South Carolina: “I hope you will hold to the idea of carrying your flag supreme and superb, defiant and disdainful, silent amid the 200 guns until you arrive at the centre of this wicked rebellion and there demand the surrender of the Forts, or swift destruction.  The President and Mr. Welles are very much struck with this program and Halleck and Cullum, as I have written you, declare that all their defences must be evacuated if you pass the forts.  The sublimity of such a silent attack is beyond words to describe, and I beg of you not to let the Army spoil it.  The immortal wreath of laurel should cluster around your flag alone.”

President Lincoln also meets with a group of  Chippewa Indians at the White House.

Published in: on February 20, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Cabinet Meeting Discusses Religious Service at Capitol

February 19, 1863

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary of today’s Cabinet meeting: “The President desired a consultation as to the expedience of an extra session of the Senate.  Chase favored.  Seward opposed.  No very decided opinion expressed by the others.  I was disinclined to it.”  Welles then described the discussion for President Lincoln to attend a religious service on Sunday at the Capitol:

The President has been invited to preside at a meeting for religious Christian purposes on Sunday evening.  Chase favored it.  All the others opposed it but Usher, who had a lingering, hesitating, half-favorable inclination to favor it.  Has been probably talked with and committed to some extent; so with Chase.

The  President on Tuesday expressed a wish that Captain Dahlgren should be made an admiral, and I presented to-day both his and Davis’s names.

Commenting on the cabinet meeting, Attorney General Edward bates wrote: “In C. C. today, the Prest. mentioned the question of brevetting the meritorious regular officers, among whom promotion is so slow.”

President Lincoln asksd Secretary of the Interior John Palmer Usher to “see my old friend, Dr. [Anson] Henry, now from Oregon.”  The president also writes his old law partner, William H. Herndon: “Would you accept a job of about a month’s duration at St. Louis, five dollars a day & mileage?”  Herndon apparently declined the offer.

President Lincoln writes New York political boss Thurlow Weed, apparently regarding fund-raising for New England elections: “The matters I spoke to you about are important; & I hope you will not neglect them.”

Published in: on February 19, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment