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  

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