Union Meeting at the Capitol

March 31, 1863

A Union meeting is held at the Capitol.  President Lincoln, though appearing tired,  attends with Secretary of State William H.  Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, and Postmaster General Montgomery Blair.  Washington Chronicle reports:  “The greatest popular demonstration ever known in Washington.”  Jane Swisshelm reported on President Lincoln for the St. Cloud Democrat: “He is very tall and very pale. He walked quickly forward, bowed and took his seat. He was dressed in a plain suit of black which had a worn look; and I could see no sign of watch chain, white bosom or color. But all men have some vanity, and during the evening, I noticed he wore on his breast, an immense jewel, the value of which I can form no estimate. This was the head of a little fellow ‘Tad’ Lincoln, about seven years old, who came with him and for a while sat quietly beside him in one of the great chairs, but who soon grew restless and weary under the long drawn out speeches of the men in the desk, and who would wander from one Member of the Cabinet to another, leaning on and whispering to him, no doubt asking when that man was going to quit and let them go home; and then would come back to father, come around, whisper in his ear, then climb on his knee and nestle his head down on his bosom. As the long bony hand spread out over the dark hair, and the thin face above rest the sharp chin upon it, it was a pleasant sight. The head of a great and powerful nation, without a badge of distinction, sitting quietly in the audience getting bored or applauding like the rest of us; soothing with loving care the little restless creature so much dearer than all the power he wields – a power greater than that exercised by any other human being on earth.”

President Lincoln also meets with General Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac.  Historian John J. Hennesey wrote: “Hooker took full note of the transformation of his army and, true to his nature, he was eager to show it off.  He traveled to Washington in late March and boasted of having the ‘finest army on this planet,’ a force he could march ‘straight to New Orleans’ if he so chose.  While in Washington, Hooker invited Lincoln to come to Stafford to review his reconstituted army.   (‘Hooker has considerable liking for that sort of thing when he can make it pay,’ noted one of the army’s officers).  The visit, Hooker knew, would be an excellent chance, not just for Lincoln to see the army for the first time in six months, but also for the army to take stock of its revitalized self and the leader of the nation it served.”

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes of the Cabinet meeting in the morning: “With some effort, though with indifferent health, I have drawn up a communication to Mr. Seward on the subject of letters of marque.  But after the council to-day he read a dispatch from Mr. [Charles Francis] Adams, communicating two letters from Earl Russell, which are insolent, contemptuous and mean aggression not war.  It is pretty evident that a devastating and villainous war is to be waged on our commerce by the connivance of the English Government, which will, and is intended to, sweep our commerce from the ocean.”

Published in: on March 31, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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