President Mobilizes Republican Forces for House Vote

October 31, 1863

President Lincoln continues his efforts to make sure that validly-elected congressmen are not excluded from voting in the congressional reorganization in December.  He writes Rhode Island Senator William Sprague: “There is danger that the above act of congress, intended to exclude improper applicants from seats, will be used to exclude proper ones. I propose that yourself, Senator Anthony and the Governor  maturely consider the subject, and frame credentials for the members in two or three different forms, and bring them on with you to be used if needed. The form on the other half of this sheet will perhaps answer for one. Let it be done qu[i]etly, as publicity might increase the danger. The members themselves need not to know of it.”

President Lincoln wrote a memorandum concerning Union soldiers operating in New York in support of the draft law: “The Provost-Marshal-General has issued no proclamation at all.  He has, in no form, announced anything recently in regard to troops in New-York, except in his letter to Governor Seymour of October 21st. which has been published in the newspapers of that State.  It has not been announced nor decided, in any form, by the Provost Marshal-General, or any one else in authority of the government, that every citizen who has paid his three hundred dollars commutation, is liable to be immediately drafted again, or that towns that have just raised the money to pay their quotas will have again to be subject to similar taxation or suffer the operation of the new conscription, nor is it probably that the like of these ever will be announced or decided.”

Maryland Governor Thomas Bradford writes President Lincoln regarding upcoming elections and his differences with Union forces led by General Robert C. Schenck: “Rumors are today current, and they reach me in such a shape that I am bound to believe them, that detachments of Soldiers are to be dispatched on Monday next to several of the Counties of the State with the view of being present at their Polls on Wednesday next, the day of our State Election – These troops are not residents of the State and consequently are not sent for the purpose of voting, and as there is no reason in my opinion to apprehend any riotous or violent proceedings at this Election, the inferrence is unavoidable that these Military detachments if sent are expected to exert some control or influence in that Election.”

I am also informed that orders are to be issued from this Military Department on Monday presenting certain restrictions or qualifications in the right of Suffrage — of what precise character I am not apprised — which the Judges of Election will be expected to observe.

From my knowledge of your sentiments on these subjects as expressed to Hon: R Johnson in my presence on 22d Inst, as also disclosed in your letter of instructions to Genl Schofield since published, in referrence to the Missouri Election, I can not but think that the orders above referred to are without your personal knowledge, and I take the liberty of calling the subject to your attention and invoking your interposition to countermand them. I can not but feel that to suffer any Military interference in the matter of our Election or to prescribe any test oath to voters, when all the Candidates in the State with the exception perhaps of two or three in one Congressional District, are all loyal men, would be justly obnoxious to the public sentiment of the State. There are other reasons why such proceedings would appear as an offensive discrimination against our State. Our Citizens are aware that highly important Elections have recently taken place in other States, without, as it is believed, any such interference by the Government authorities; and if voters by hundreds of thousands have been allowed to be cast there without objection and with no limit upon the Elective franchise other than the State laws prescribe, and where one at least of the Candidates so supported was considered so hostile to the Government that for months past he has been banished from the Country, certainly any such interference as between the loyal men now Candidates in this State, would under such comparison, be more justly objectionable and find nothing in the present Condition of things here to justify it.

I rely therefore upon your Excellency for such an order as will prevent it.

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

Prior Controversies Concern White House

October 30, 1863

Journalist Noah Brooks, a close Lincoln confidante, writes of the recent controversial speech on October 3 by Postmaster General Montgomery Blair in Rockville: “There is but one expression, and that of reprobation, toward Postmaster General Blair for his extraordinary course, and it now remains to be seen whether Lincoln will sacrifice his chances of a renomination by tacitly indorsing Blair’s ratiocinations by retaining him in the Cabinet.  Although he was appointed to his place upon the urgent request of such radicals as Sumner and Wilson, against whom he now turns, we cannot expect that any sense of obligation to them would induce him to modify his own private views or restrain his public utterances.  Good faith is not a characteristic trait of the Blair family.  But god sense, at least, might have restrained him from loading his own wrong-headed opinions upon the Administration of which he is a member.  Soon after the Pennsylvania election Judge Kelley, of Philadelphia, and John W. Forney called upon the President with their congratulations — and Forney, with his usual outspoken candor, very plainly said to the President, Blair being then present, that his conservative friend Governor Curtin desired the President to know that if the Rockville speech of Postmaster General Blair had been made thirty days earlier it would have lost the Union ticket in Pennsylvania twenty thousand votes.  He also expressed his astonishment to Blair that he, a Cabinet Minister, should have the hardihood to utter such sentiments in public, just on the even of important elections in other States, as those of the Rockville speech.  Blair responded that whatever Forney might think of the matter, he had only spoken at Rockville his honest sentiments.  ‘Then,’ said the impetuous Forney, turning upon him, ‘why don’t you leave the Cabinet,’ and not load down with your individual and peculiar sentiments the Administration to which you belong?’

“The President say by, a silent spectator of this singular and unexpected scene….

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary that former Ohio Governor William Dennison “came this morning to urge the sending of Rosecrans to Missouri.”  After the Lincolns attended a performance by Fanchon the Cricket at Ford’s Theatre, “About midnight the President came in.  I told him about Dennison’s note and asked if D— had not always been a Chase man.  He said ‘Yes until recently but he seems now anxious for my reelection.”

Hay writes regarding December 1862 cabinet crisis that President Lincoln tells him: “I do not now see how it could have been done better.  I am sure it was right.  If I had yielded to that storm & dismissed Seward the thing would all have slumped over one way & we should have been left with a scanty handful of supporters.  When Chase sent in his resignation I saw that the game was in my own hands & I put it through.  When I had settled this important business at last with much labor & to entire satisfaction, into my room one day walked D.D. Field & George Opdyke and began a new attack upon  me to force me to remove Seward.  For once in my life I rather gave my temper the vein and I talked to those men pretty damned plainly.  Opdyke may be right in being cool to me.  I may have given him reason this morning.”

“I wish they would stop thrusting that subject of the Presidency into my face.  I don’t want to hear anything about it.  The Republican of today has an offensive paragraph in regard to an alleged nomination of me by the mass meeting in New York last night.”

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Worries about Plot to Block Republican Congressmen

October 29, 1863

Presidential displeasure with the failure of General George Meade to engage the enemy continues.  Journalist Noah Brooks writes: “General Meade has been despatched by the President ‘to find a fight or resign.’”

President Lincoln writes to Vice President Hannibal Hamlin regarding the supposed plot by the clerk of the House of Representatives to block Republicans from being seated in the new Congress: “The above act of Congress was passed, as I suppose, to exclude improper applicants from seats in the House of Representatives and there is danger now that it will be used to exclude proper ones.  The attempt will be made, if at all, upon the members of those States whose delegations are entirely, or by a majority, Union men and of which your State is one.

I suppose your members already have the usual certificates – which let them bring on.  I suggest that for greater caution, yourself, the two senators, Messrs. Fessenden and Morrill, and the Governor consider this matter, and that the Governor make out an additional certificate, or set of certificates, in the form on the other half of this sheet, and still another, if on studying the law you gentlemen shall be able to frame one which will given additional gentlemen shall be able to frame one which will give additional security; and bring the whole with you, to be used if found necessary.  Let it all be done quietly.  The members of Congress themselves need not know of it.

President Lincoln writes Iowa Senator James W. Grimes regarding possible machinations to block legitimately-elected Republicans from taking their seats.   He encloses the text of a March 3, 1863 bill and writes: “The above act of congress was passed, as I suppose, for the purpose of shutting out improper applicants for seats in the House of Representatives; and I fear there is some danger that it will be used to shut out proper ones. Iowa, having an entire Union delegation, will be one of the States the attempt will be made upon, if upon any. The Governor doubtless has made out the certificates, and they are already in the hands of the members. I suggest that they come on with them; but that, for greater caution, you, and perhaps Mr. Harlan with you, consult with the Governor, and have an additional set made out according to the form on the other half of this sheet; and still another set, if you can, by studying the law, think of a form that in your judgment, promises additional security, and qu[i]etly bring the whole on with you, to be used in case of necessity.”  Characteristically, Lincoln added: “Let what you do be kept still.”

In recognizing Matias Romero M. Romero as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Mexico,” President Lincoln said: “You have hitherto resided with us, and for a considerable period have been the chief diplomatic representative of your country at this Capital. You know how sincerely and how profoundly during that residence the United States desired that Mexico might always enjoy the blessings of domestic and foreign peace with perfect security, prosperity, independence and freedom. You know also that, during the previous residence to which I have referred, you enjoyed the respect and esteem of this Government and the good-will of the people of the United States. I have the pleasure of assuring you that in all things, as well affecting your country as yourself personally, these feelings remain unchanged. Thanking you for the liberal sentiments you have expressed for the United States, and congratulating you upon the renewed confidence which your Government has reposed in you, it is with unaffected pleasure that I bid you welcome to Washington.

Presidential aide John Hay writes: “I Went down to Willard’s today & got from Palmer who is here a free ticket to New York and back for Walt. Whitman the poet who is going to New York to electioneer and vote for the Union ticket.”  He added: “The President tonight wrote letters to several of the more prominent Senators & [ ] of the Republican States urging them to take care of a supposed plot of Gen. Ehteridge.”

This crazy Tennessean, who was kindly taken up by the Republicans & made clerk of the House, has turned malignantly Copperhead and now hopes to reatin his clerkship by copper votes.  His plan for securing to the opposition the organization of the House is to take advantage of a foolish little law passed in the hurry of the concluding days of the last session (approved March 3, 1863) making certain specific requirements for credentials; and to throw out those state delegations which are principally Republican.  He will of course post those Governors whose delegations are a majority Democratic & will leave in ignorance those who have a Republican preponderance in their delegation This matter was suggested to the Presdt. Some days ago by a man named Briggs who came with a great show of mystery which I thought humbug and had two audiences of the Presdt.  The President has taken occasion to checkmate any such rascality by sending to some of the Governors a specific form gotten up by himself which will cover the case.  The members are to bring their ordinary certificate and these supplemental ones are to be procured by their Senators or some such and brought on in case of any such question being made.

[General James] Garfield was with the President today.  He always mentions Rosecrans with kindness, even tenderness & says he is a man of such fixed convictions as to be frequently unreasonable in holding to them.  At the battle of Chickamauga he became convinced that the field was lost & that his place was in the rear.  It really seemed so.  But when Garfield heard the firing steadily resumed on the left where Thomas was engaged he was convinced that the left still stood & urged Rosecrans to stay & save the field.  The General would not listen to such a suggestion & when Garfield begged permission himself to stay & join the battle on the left Rosecrans parted with him as if never expecting to see him again.

Talk of the 1864 presidential nomination is increasing as 1864 approaches – particularly actions being taken or expected to be taken by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, who has made no secret of his disagreements with President Lincoln.  Presidential aide John Hay writes: “I told the Tycoon that Chase would try to make capital out of the Rosecrans business.  He laughed & said, “I suppose he will, like the bluebottle fly, lay his eggs in every rotten spot he can find.”  He seems much amused at Chase’s mad hunt after the Presidency.  He says it may win.  He hopes the country will never do worse.”

I said he should not by making all Chase’s appointments make himself particeps criminis.

He laughed on & said he was sorry the thing had begun, for though the matter did not annoy him his friends insisted that it ought to.  He has appointed Ferry tax Comr. For Tennessee & has promised Plantz the District Attorneyship of Florida.  He thinks the matter a devilish good joke. He prefers letting Hcase have his own way in these sneaking tricks than getting into a snarl with him by refusing him what he asks.

Published in: on October 29, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Worries about Missouri and Tennessee as 1864 Presidential Campaign Stirs

October 28, 1863

President Lincoln continues to attempt to quiet the volatile political situation in Missouri.     Presidential aide John Hay writes: “The President today wrote a letter to [General John M.] Schofield in relation [to] his alleged arming of returned rebels in Missouri, in which he said that the government here had done the same thing frequently.  He orders Schofield to give attention to the matter, if things are wrong, right them; protect the polls from any interference by either citizens or soldiers.”  Lincoln writes Schofield, commander of Missouri: “There have recently reached the War Department, and thence been laid before me, from Missouri, three communications, all similar in import, and identical in object.  One of them, addressed to nobody, and without place or date, but having the signature of (apparently) the writer, is a letter of eight closely written foolscap pages.  The other two are written by a different person, at St. Joseph, Mo., and of the dates, respectively, October 12th and 13th. 1863, and each inclosing a large number of affidavits.  The general statements of the whole are, that the Federal and State authorities are arming the disloyal, and disarming the loyal, and that the latter will all be killed, or driven out of the State, unless there shall be a change.  In particular, no loyal man, who has been disarmed, is named; but the affidavits show by name, forty two persons, as disloyal, who have been armed.  They are as follows…

The remarkable fact, that the actual evil is yet only anticipated–inferred–induces me to suppose I understand the case.  But I do not state my impression, because I might be mistaken; and because your duty and mine is plain in any event.  The locality of nearly all this, seems to be St. Joseph, and Buchanan County.  I wish you to give special attention to this region, particularly on election day.  Prevent violence from whatever quarter; and see that the soldiers themselves, do no wrong.

President Lincoln writes Tennessee Military Governor Andrew Johnson: If not too inconvenient, please come at once, and have a personal consultation with me.”  On November 2, Johnson responds: “Since your dispatch of the twenty eighth (28) ulto I have been trying every way to start for Washington but it has been impossible.”

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

General Milroy is Spared a Court Martial

October 27, 1863

President Lincoln decides against ordering a court martial for the case of General Robert H Milroy: “In June last a Division was substantially lost at, and near Winchester, Va. At the time it was under Gen. Milroy as immediate commander in the field Gen. Schenck as Department commander at Baltimore and Gen. Halleck as General-in-Chief at Washington. Gen. Milroy, as immediate commander, was put in arrest, and subsequently a Court of Inquiry examined, chiefly with reference to disobedience of orders, and reported the evidence. The foregoing is a synoptical statement of the evidence, together with the Judge Advocate General’s conclusions. The disaster, when it came, was a surprize to all. It was very well known to Gen. Schenck and Gen. Milroy for some time before that Gen. Halleck thought the division was in general danger of a surprize at Winchester, that it was of no service there commensurate with the risk it incurred, and that it ought to be withdrawn; but although he more than once advised it’s withdrawal he never positively ordered it. Gen. Schenck, on the contrary, believed the service of the force at Winchester, was worth the hazard, and so did not positively order it’s withdrawal, until it was so late that the enemy cut the wire and prevented to [sic] order reaching Gen. Milroy. Gen. Milroy seems to have concurred with Gen. Schenck in the opinion that the force should be kept at Winchester at least till the approach of danger, but he disobeyed no order upon the subject. Some question can be made whether some of Gen. Halleck’s despatches to Gen. Schenck, should not have been construed to be orders to withdraw the force, and obeyed accordingly; but no such question can be made against Gen. Milroy. In fact the last order he received, was to be prepared to withdraw, but not to actually withdraw till further order, which further order never reached him. Serious blame is not necessarily due to every serious disaster, and I can not say that in this case, any of their officers is deserving of serious blame. No Court-Martial is deemed necessary or proper in the case.

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

Peeping Tom Gets Paternal Advice from President

October 26, 1863

President Lincoln writes a paternal letter to Captain James M. Cutts, former brother-in-law of the deceased Senator Stephen Douglas.  Although he approves the sentence received by Cutts has been charged with “peeping tom” activities, Cutts will serve no sentence: “Although what I am now to say is to be, in form, a reprimand, it is not intended to add a pang to what you have already suffered upon the subject to which it relates.  You have too much of life yet before you, and have shown too much of promise as an officer, for your future to be lightly surrendered.  You were convicted of two offences.  One of them, not of great enormity, and yet greatly to be avoided, I feel sure you are no danger of repeating.  The other you are not so well assured against.  The advice of a father to his son ‘Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee,’ is good, and yet not the best.  Quarrel not at all.  No man resolved to make the most of himself, can spare time for personal contention.  Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper, and the loss of self-control.  Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones, though clearly your own.  Better give your path to a dog, than be bitten by him in contesting for the right.  Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.

In the mood indicated deal henceforth with your fellow men, and especially with your brother officers; and even the unpleasant even you are passing from will not have been profitness to you.

President Lincoln writes Illinois Congressman Elihu. B. Washburne, regarding his two influential brothers: “Yours of the 12th. has been in my hands several days.  Inclosed I send the leave of absence for your brother, in as good form as I think I can safely put it.  Without knowing whether he would accept it, I have tendered the Collectorship at Portland, Me, to your other brother, the Governor.”  He adds an intriguing note about his willingness to serve a second term: “Thanks to both you and our friend Campbell, for your kind words and intentions.  A second term would be a great honor and a great labor, which together, perhaps I would not decline, if tendered.”

On October 12, Washburne had written President Lincoln on October 12: “Not withstanding the troubles that surround us, the time has come when we must confront the question of our next presidential candidate.  I think you ought to let some of your confidential friends know your wishes…I have a recent letter from Hon. Thompson Campbell…one of the most effective and vigorous champions of our cause in California, before the late election, and is a member of the Legislature from San Francisco.  Speaking of the Presidential candidate, he says: ‘If he wishes the nomination, I am clearly for your friend, Mr. Lincoln.’  He says he consented to go into the Legislature for the purpose of being better able to shape things in regard to the delegates to the National Convention next year.  He says further, and it si well to heed it, that if he be not greatly mistaken, the whole patronage of the Government in California, will be wielded against you next summer.  Campbell has done more to sustain your administration for the last six months, than all the office-holders in the State put together, and if he only knew your wishes and views I think he can be relied upon for an equally efficient service hereafter.” Washburne added: “Should you deem it best to make any suggestions to me in regard to these things, you know me well enough to be assured they will be openly and discreetly used.”

President Lincoln takes care of a little family business in a note to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: “The writer of the accompanying letter is one of Mrs. L[incoln]’s numerous cousins. He is a grandson of Millikin’s Bend, near Vicksburg—that is, a grandson of the man who gave name to Millikin’s Bend. His father was a brother to Mrs. L’s mother. I know not a thing about his loyalty beyond what he says. Supposing he is loyal, can any of his requests be granted? and, if any, which of them?”

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “We have had a somewhat stormy week, atmospherically, but it has cleared up gloriously this morning, and the new one begins with the good omen of a bright October.  The yellow leaves on the trees in the President’s grounds look golden in the radiance, and even the sombre evergreens in Lafayette Square appear more cheerful than usual.”

Stoddard adds: “We at the National Capital are waiting with feverish interest for the reutrns from your New-York elections.  It is impossible to regard otherwise than with the deepest anxiety the position assumed by the people of the most populous and powerful State in the Union.  It is not enough that all the rest are right, if New-York is wrong.”

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

Military Plans against Charleston Reviewed

October 25, 1863

President Lincoln talks to General  Alfred H. Terry and Colonel  Joseph R. Hawley about military plans for Charleston.”   John Hay writes: “I presented them to the President.  They said in answer to his inquiry why Charleton was not shelled that they preferred to save their fire for service against Johnson & Moultrie when the navy moves, rather than burst their guns now by throwing a few Shell into the city.  A very sensible conclusion as it appears to me.  They had a long talk & came away much pleased.”

Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson writes President Lincoln while campaigning in New York: “I am on a stumping tour in this state. Our friends are making a fair canvass and will I think win. But it is no such fight as we had in Pennsylvania. If we had such a canvass I think we should have 40,000 majority. Some of our best men are doing nothing. We have quite too much petty partizanship in this state for the good of the country. Some of the politicians and Editors ought to have, — as you said about the Missouri ranglers, — their heads knocked together.

A friend of mine spent an hour yesterday with [Governor Horatio] Seymour and had a full talk with him. Seymour says his party is gaining ground now and would carry the election if it had more time — that your call for men will give them several thousand votes. They are trying to make out of that call and will do so to some extent — it enables Seymour to take ground in favor of raising men and making a show of patriotism and it enables his “friends” to appeal to the fears of the selfish and the base. He and his “friends” are doing what they can in these respects.

Everybody wants to know why we do not raise more Black soldiers. I see why we do not. No one is organizing the movement. If an organizer like Butler, Forbes2 an eminent business man of Boston or some other good organizer had committed to him in the War office this great work and had full power to act he could in the border states and in the conquered portions of the rebel states raise men with great rapidity – fill our armies and distroy slavery. As it is — no head – we are doing but little and calling for more men here in the loyal states and must suffer by it. I intended that the conscription act should include the colored men free and slave but I do not see that they are enrolled in the Slave states. Our people do not understand this.

Since this war came upon us I have never writtened a line of complaint or criticism of the action of our Generals and I do so now for the first time and to say that it seems to me that Lee has completely fooled and outgeneraled the army of the Potomac — that it retreated before a shaddow. I do not see why we should spend weeks and thirty thousand dollars a mile to rebuild a road not worth defending and to reach a barren region of no account to hold. We shall have some hard questions put at us in the next Congress. Blair is universally denounced for his speeches and actions and is every hour setting men against you.3 On the opening of Congress — when the pressure of the elections are over — the war he has made causelessly upon us will be repelled – at any cost.

Onetime Secretary of War Simon Cameron is being sued by some Baltimore residents for false arrests back when he was secretary of war in July 1861.  Cameron writes President Lincoln: “I am very desirous of having the damage cases instituted by the leading Baltimore traitors [against?] tried, & decided, at the next term of the U. S. Court, which begins the 1st Monday in Nov.1 To me these cases are of much importance, and if left until it may suit the traitors, it may involve all my fortune. It is time the suits were made by the State Dept. and it is also, time that Congress passed an act for the relief — of those thus sued — but still there are contingencies enough to ruin me, if the trial is suffered to hang until the rebels are allowed to come back as repentant sinners & be received as the prodigal children of the republic.”

My attorney you will see recommends that the treason trials, be ordered for trial at the same court — and if you will have them so ordered, I feel confident the traitors will not give me much trouble. All the parties in Baltimore are banded together, — and many of them are related.

I will esteem it a great favor if you will order the trials to be commenced.

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

General Rosecrans is Removed as Commander of the Army of the Potomac

October 24, 1863

In the wake of Union defeats in southeastern Tennessee, General Ulysses S. Grant recommends replacing him with General George Thomas, who had gained fame as the “Rock of Chickamauga.”  Journalist Noah Brooks writes General William Rosecrans: “It is a sad disheartening that such things must be, but yet they must be, and it is a sufficient answer to all cavils to be able to say that no man in the nation was more pained at the necessity of the removal of General Rosecrans than was the President himself.”

President Lincoln writes General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck regarding Confederate reenforcement of their operations in East Tennessee and presses for an attack by General George Meade in northern Virginia: “Taking all our information together I think it probable that Ewell’s corps has started for East Tennessee by way of Abingdon, marching last Monday, say, from Meade’s front directly to the Railroad at Charlottesville– First, the object of Lee’s recent movement against Meade, his destruction of the Alexandria & Orange Rail road, and subsequent withdrawal, without more, not otherwise apparent, would be explained by this hypothesis. Secondly, the direct statement of Sharpe’s man that Ewell has gone to Tennessee. Thirdly, the Irishman’s statement that he has not gone through Richmond; and his further statement of an appeal made to the people at Richmond to go and protect their salt, which could only refer to the works near Abingdon. Fourthly, Graham’s statement from Martinsburg that Imboden4 is in retreat for Harrisonburg. This last matches with the idea that Lee has retained his cavalry, sending Imboden, and perhaps other scraps, to join Ewell.”

Upon this probability, what is to be done? If you have a plan matured, I have nothing to say. If you have not, then I suggest that with all possible expedition the Army of the Potomac get ready to attack Lee; and that, in the mean time, a raid shall, at all hazzards, break the Railroad at or near Lynchburg.

The appointment of Maine’s ex-Governor. Israel Washburn, Jr. as  collectorship at Portland is discussed by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase with President Lincoln.   “On returning to the Department I found a letter from Mr Fessenden,2 in which he had anticipated our wishes our wishes for the appointment of Gov. Washburn, by transmitting an application in his behalf from the merchants of Portland. This is very agreeable and I transmit his Commission at once,” writes Chase to Lincoln later.   The Washburns are politically important; brother Elihu B. Washburne (spelled differently) is an Illinois congressman and friend of President Lincoln

In the afternoon, President Lincoln addresses the Baltimore Presbyterian Synod after the synod moderator addresses him: “I can only say in this case, as in so many others, that I am profoundly grateful for the respect given in every variety of form in which it can be given from the religious bodies of the country.  I saw, upon taking my position here, that I was going to have an administration, if an administration at all, of extraordinary difficulty.  It was, without exception, a time of the greatest difficulty that this country ever saw.  I was early brought to a living reflection that nothing in my power whatever, in others to rely upon, would succeed without the direct assistance of the Almighty, but all must fail.

I have often wished that I was a more devout man than I am.  Nevertheless, amid the greatest difficulties of my Administration, when I could not see any resort, I would place my whole reliance in God, knowing that all would go well, and that He would decide for the right.

I thank you, gentlemen, in the name of the religious bodies which you represent, and in the name of the Common Father, for this expression of your respect.  I cannot say more.

After the Presbyterian meeting, President Lincoln pays a brief visit to the Government Printing Office at the request of the office’s commissioner, John D. Defrees.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes a New York friend: “I am an miserable as a rat.  The town is dull.  Miss Chase is so busy making her father next President that she is only a little lovelier than all other women.  She is to be married on November 12th which disgusts me with life.  She is a great woman & with a great future.”

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

President Plots Strategy to Counter House Plot

October 23, 1863

“Only a portion of the Cabinet present and but little done,” writes Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles of today’s cabinet meeting.  “The Missouri difficulty discussed, etc.”

President Lincoln discusses plot to block Republicans from taking their seats in the House with the Assistant House Clerk John R. Briggs, Jr.  The plot has been hatched by House Clerk Emerson Etheridge of Tennessee.    The next day, Lincoln writes Briggs: “Reflecting upon conversation with you yesterday, I think one point did not strike you on the moment, though it may have, and doubtless has, occurred to you since. The certificates from any Governor will be alike to all the members of his State, doubtless; I think, in fact, there is only one certificate for all, though there may be separate ones; but he will not discriminate between members from any one State; when he writes to a Governor suggesting amended certificates of particular form, it will cover the case of all the members from that State. But he will write (or has written) only to those Governors where a majority of the delegation is Democratic.”

And if you make a request for amended certificates, it will only be necessary, to request it of those Governors where a majority of the members are Republican, as he will attend to the other cases; but of the matter of policy and prudence in the case, to which and how many to send, your own shrewd sense will decide.

If it were necessary to procure the certificates here, in order to see all the points in which they liable to be dificient, in a strained construction of the law, I suppose I could get them, as they are doubtless in the office safe, and in the particular custody of the chief clerk, who can be relied upon. But it involves the imparting of the secret to him, which I am reluctant to do, and shall not, therefore, unless you shall, on reflection, think it may be necessary. I presume the act will show, for itself, all the points that absolutely require to be covered. To know whether California and Oregon are deficient, it might be quite advisable to see them, (the certificates,) they are so far off; but the chief clerk, I am afraid, will not be back (he is away, now,) untill too late for that purpose, as there is scarcely time now to communicate with them, Oregon especially.

The act referred to was approved on the 3d of March last.3

Please toss this note in the fire, that no stray paper may accidentally disclose affairs.

Concerned about violence and conflict over the recruitment of black slaves in Maryland for the Union Army, President Lincoln confers with General Robert C. Schenck, Union commander in Maryland.

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

President Lincoln Confers on Maryland Elections

October 22, 1863

President Lincoln meets with Maryland Governor Augustus Bradford and Senator Reverdy Johnson regarding the upcoming elections in Maryland.   Lincoln also writes General Robert C. Schenck, who is in charge of preserving order for the elections as well as recruiting black soldiers: “”Please come over here. The fact of one of our officers being killed on the Patuxent, is a specimen of what I would avoid. It seems to me we could send white men to recruit better than to send negroes, and thus inaugerate [sic] homicides on punctillio.”

President Lincoln briefly responded to expressions of loyalty from New School Presbyterian Synod: “It has been stated that he had a heavy responsibility resting upon him. He felt it when he considered the great territory of the country—the large population, with the institutions which have grown up – -liberty and religion to be maintained. He could only do his duty by the assistance of God and the means which He has supplied, of which the reverend gentlemen around him were noble examples. If God be with us, we will succeed; if not, we will fail.”

General Ambrose Burnside responds to President Lincoln’s questions regarding Union strength in Tennessee: “We have already over three thousand in the three years service & half armed– About twenty five hundred home guards many more recruits could have been had for the three years service but for the want of clothing & camp equipage We have not means of bringing those things with us & since our arrival we have not been able to accumulate them by transportation from Kentucky Our command is now & has been ever since our arrival on half rations of everything except fresh beef We have no rations of beafs beans rice pickles &c in fact no Small stores but sugar Coffee & Salt but the command is remarkably happy cheerful & willing & I hope we are all ready for any ordinary emergency The country thus far has supplied an abundance of forage We are suffering considerably for want of shoes & clothing & horse shoes– I have told Gen Halleck fully as to our position A road has been surveyed from Clinton to the mouth of Big South Fork on the Cumberland from which point are transported supplies After the Cumberland River becomes navigable to that place we will commence work on it at once with a view to making a good winter road– It runs along the line of the projected RR & will be of material assistance in building the Rail Road The RR is already built from this place to within 8 miles of Clinton & is graded that 8 miles – I hope to take Iron enough from the track above (above) I have to finish this grade to Clinton & I have already made arrangements to build the RR bridge at that place The abutments are already built After the wagon road is repaired the entire force will be put to work grading the RR from Clinton to the Cumberland to meet the road we are building in Kentucky I have understood that some obstacles have been thrown in the way of this work by persons declaring that the expenditures would not be authorized If such is the case I should have been notified of it & thereby save myself & others connected with the work very serious embarassed– I am daily becoming more satisfied of wisdom necessity & efficiency of the work.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes President Lincoln regarding his recent communication regarding Missouri affairs : “I venture to send for your perusal, a letter of my friend Broadhead – the last paragraph which alone relates to you – He is one of the very best samples of Missouri men. With sense & courage far above the common range, he is a plain, downright man: Sound in his principles, and (it may be stubbornly) true to them, he maintains them boldly, & always with a manly frankness which, I am forced to believe, is very uncommon.”

When you said to me, the other day, that you had no friends in Missouri, I answered that you had good materials there, out of which you could make the whole State your friends. And now (since the receipt of Broadhead’s letter, & several others of the same sort) I am more than ever convinced of the truth of my answer. For, I confidently hope that – in virtue of your three letters, to the General, to the Governor & to the Jacobins – we will be able to restore, in a good degree, peace, order & law in Missouri; and then, as Broadhead says, “the Country will thank & bless you.”

Shakespearean actor James Hackett writes President Lincoln about the unfortunate publication of their earlier correspondence: “About a month since my son John K. Hackett of New York wrote to me how vexed he had been at the unwarrantable liberty taken by certain Newspaper-Presses in publishing your kind sensible & unpretending letter to me of “17 Augt” last1 & more particularly at the Editorial remarks upon & [perversions?] of its subject-matter to antagonistic political purposes, accompanied by satirical abuse in general –

In order to calm my son’s fears that it might give you cause to regret your having thus favored me with such original materiél, I replied that I felt assured that, as a man of the world now and an experienced politician you were not likely to be so thin skinned, and that in my humble opinion such political squibs would probably affect your sensibility about as much as would a charge of mustard seed shot at forty yards distance, fired through a pop-gun barrel at the naturally armed Alligator, touch his nerves– Pray excuse the illustration! But, my son being a first rate shot with gun or pistol & theroughly aware of thin comparative effects, it was therefore an argumentum ad hominem.

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “I spoke to President today about Blair – his Rockville speech and the action of the Union League of Philadelphia leaving out his name in resolutions electing the Cabinet honorary members of the League.  He says Blair is anxious to run Swann and beat Winter Davis.  The President the contrary says that as Davis is the nominee of the Union convention & as we have recognized him as our candidate it would be mean to do anything against him now.”

Things in Maryland are badly mixed.  The unconditional Union people are not entirely acting in concert.  Thomas seems acceptable to every one.  Cresswell si going to make a good man. But Schenck is complicating the canvass with an embarrassing element, that of forcible negro enlistments.  The President is in favor of the voluntary enlistment of negroes with the consent of their masters & on payment of the price.  But Schenck’s favoriate way (or rather Irney’s whom Schenck approves) is to take a squad of soldiers into a neighborhood, & carry off into the army all the ablebodied darkies they can find without asking master or slave to consent.  Hence results like the case of [Eben] White& [John J.] Sothoron.  ‘The fact is,’the President observes, ‘Schenck is wider acaross the head in the region of the ears, & loves fight for its own sake, better than I do.’”

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