President Angered by Advance, Butchered Publication of Springfield Speech

September 3, 1863

President Lincoln discovers that the manuscript of his remarks for Springfield, Illinois rally have been leaked and published in a mangled fashion.  He writes Springfield attorney James C. Conking: “I am mortified this morning to find the letter to you, botched up, in the Eastern papers, telegraphed from Chicago.  How did this happen?”

“When word got around Washington that the President had prepared a special paper, the correspondents sought to obtain copies,” wrote historian Robert S. Harper wrote in Lincoln and the Press.  “All, including the Associated Press man, were turned down.  Lincoln explained he had found it a source of mischief to give advance copies of anything to the press and that he had learned he could not depend on promises of secrecy.”  Harper added: “A couple of days before the letter was to be read at Springfield, it appeared word for word in the New York Evening Post and was telegraphed back to the Washington newspapers.”.

His friend Conkling replies to the president  the next day: “In order that the St Louis Chicago and Springfield papers might publish your Letter simultaneously and at the earliest period after the meeting, so as to gratify the intense anxiety which existed with regard to your views, copies were sent to the two former places with strict injunctions not to permit it to be published before the meeting or make any improper use of it  But it appears that a part of it was telegraphed from Chicago to New York contrary to my express directions.  I do not know what particular individual is chargeable with this breach of faith, but I presume it was some one connected with the Chicago Tribune.  I was very much mortified at the occurrence, but hope that no prejudicial results have been experienced as the whole letter was published the next day.”

President Lincoln writes D. M. Leatherman: “I see your card on my table. I would be glad to oblige all, but it is impossible. I suppose I understand your business at this time. It is about some property claimed by a woman in or near Memphis, under a deed from her husband who is in the rebel service, and which claim has been passed upon once or twice already. The impropriety of bringing such cases to me, is obvious to any one who will consider that I could not properly act on any case without understanding it, and that I have neither the means nor time, to obtain such understanding.”

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Published in: on September 3, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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