Confederate Sister-in-Law Emily Helm Arrives at the White House

December 13, 1863

President Lincoln, who had defended General John Schofield’s performance as Missouri commander, now appears disturbed with his recent actions.  Presidential aide John Hay writes:  “That While [Illinois Congressman Elihu B.] Washburne was in Missouri he saw or thought he saw that Schofield was working rather energetically in the politics of the State, and that he approached Schofield and proposed that he should use his influence to harmonize the conflicting elements so as to elect one of each wing, Gratz Brown and Henderson Schofield replied was that he would not consent to the election of Gratz Brown.”

Again when Gratz Brown was about coming to Washington he sent a friend to Schofield to say that he would not oppose his confirmation if he S would so far as his influence extended, agree to a convention of Missouri to make necessary alterations in her State Constitution.  Schofield’s reply as reported by brown to the President, was that he would not consent to a State Convention.  These things the President says are obviously transcendent of his instructions and must not be permitted. He has sent for Schofield to come to Washington and explain these grave matters.

The President is inclined to put Rosecrans in Schofields place and to give to Gen Curtis the Department of Kansas. But Halleck and Stanton stand in his way and he has to use the strong had so often with those impracticable gentlemen, that he avoid it when he can.”

These Kansas people are a queer lot.   Delahay is here all alive with the idea that there is a Chase conspiracy about the President of which Pomeroy is one of the head devils, while Pomeroy swears by the President night & morning.  Jim Lane told Champ. Vaughn he was for the President’s action in the Schofield case & requested him to so tell Schfield.  Yet he raised a deuce of a bobbery in the Union League Convention about the same matter, still disclaiming any personal hostility to the President in the matter.

Tonight Hackett arrived and spent the evening with the President. The conversation at first took a professional turn, the Tycoon showing a very intimate knowledge of those plays of Shakespaere where Falstaff figures.  He was particularly anxious to know why one of the best scenes in the play, that where Falstaff & Prince Hal alternately assume the character of the King, is omitted in the representation.  Hackett says it is admirable to read but ineffective on stage, that there is generally nothing sufficiently distinctive about the actor who plays Henry to make an imitation striking.”

Hackett plays with stuffing of India Rubber says Shakespeare refers to it when he says ‘How now! Blow Jack’ Hacket is very ausing and garrulous talker.  He had some good reminiscences of Houston, Crockett (the former he admirets, the latter he thinks a dull man), McCarthy and Prentiss.

[Generals Daniel] Sickles and [James] Wadsworth were in the room part of the evening.

I visited Mrs. L.  Her sister, Mrs. Gen. Helm is with her just arrived from Secessia.

Former Senator Illinois Senator Orville.H. Browning writes: “After breakfast went with him to the Presidents to try and get Henry Warfield, a lad of 18 years old, a rebel Prisoner at Camp Douglas, and a brother in law of Dr Brown, committed to the custody of the Dr – Got a preliminary order which was finally completed after passing thro several offices to the Commissary of prisoners.  The President told me his sister in law, Mrs. Helm was in the house, but he did not wish it know.  She wished an order for the protection of some Cotton she had at Jackson, Mississippi.  He thought she ought to have it, but he was afraid he would be censured if he did so.”

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