Connecticut Patronage Bedevils President

December 21, 1863

President Lincoln writes Connecticut Senators Lafayette S. Foster and James Dixon: “The Marshalship of Connecticut has given me some trouble. Of the Sec. of the Navy, Gov. of the State, two Senators, and three Representatives in Congress, who have made recommendations, two are for Mr. Nichols, two for Mr. Hammond, two for Mr. Barnum, and one for Mr. Phelps. [2] Nothing has been said to me against the integrity or capacity of any of these candidates. So far as stated, three of them are equally well presented. Something more than a year ago Mr. Hammond was so well presented to me for one of the Internal Revenue offices, that it was with great regret I felt constrained to decline giving it to him; and I then wrote one of his friends substantially that I would be glad of a future opportunity to recognize him. I think I should now do this when he stands at least the equal of any competitor, on other grounds. Accordingly I send up his nomination. Please show, or state this to the other gentlemen. He added:

Since writing the above I have seen letters from six different, and as I understand, respectable and influential citizens of Connecticut, protesting against the appointment of Mr. Hammond.

President Lincoln write Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “Sending a note to the Secretary of the Navy as I promised, he called over and said that the strikes in the Ship-yards had thrown the completion of vessels back so much, that he thought Gen. Gilmores proposition entirely proper. He only wishes (and in which I concur) that Gen. Gilmore will courteously confer with and explain to Admiral Dahlgren.

In regard to the Western matter, I believe the programme will have to stand substantially as I first put it. Henderson and especially Brown believe that the social influences of St. Louis would inevitably tell injuriously upon Gen. Pope, in the particular difficulty existing there; and I think there is some force in that view. As to retaining Gen. S. temporarily, if this should be done, I believe I should scarcely be able to get his nomination through the Senate. Send me over his nomination, which however I am not yet quite ready to send to the Senate

While at the  War Department, President Lincoln reads decoded message intended for Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin,.”

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Published in: on December 21, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Committed to Emancipation Proclamation

December 20, 1863

President Lincoln writes Bostonian Henry Wright: “I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation; nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.” The anti-slavery activist had written Lincoln: “ I want nothing of you—you can do nothing for me—except—this one favor . . . that you will write for me, & subscribe your name to it—with your own hand—this sentence in your late Message – i.e. `I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation; nor shall I return to slavery any person, who is free by the terms of the proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.’” Wright, an associate of Wendell Phillips, wrote: “I have given 30 years of my life to the Abolition of slavery—by lecturing, by public & private discussions, & by scattering, broad cast, tracts & pamphlets bearing on that subject. I regard the American Republic as the God-appointed Messiah of Liberty to the great family of Nations.”

In New York City, noted Lincoln biographer John Waugh, two anti-Lincoln journalists employed by the New York World “produced a seventy-two-page pamphlet that went on sale on newsstands in New York City just before Christmas 1863.   It sold for twenty-five cents a copy, and was titled Miscegenation: The Theory of the blending of the Races, Applied to the White Man and the Negro.  The subtitle was crucial, for without that nobody had any idea what the new word meant….     “Croly and Wakeman mailed the pamphlet widely to abolitionist leaders and reformers.  From everything it said, all who read it assumed it was a philippic from the pen of a fire-eating abolitionist, quite likely a miscegenationist himself.”

Published in: on December 20, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Russian Fleet Officers Visit the White House

December 19, 1863

Presidential aide John Hay writes: “There was a reception this morning to the Officers of Russian fleet at the Executive Mansion[.]  There were present by invitation: Supreme Court, Cabinet, Diplomatic body, Congress, Officers of the Army & Navy.  Congressman John T. Stuart, a former law partner of Abraham Lincoln, writes his wife that “cousin John & Sue called at Eleven and sent in their cards for Mrs. Lincoln. The messenger brought back that Mrs. Lincoln was dressing — that a card had been sent to Mrs. Craig to the reception that evening at from One to Two.  I had also a card — and at One O’clock I called at Willards for Cousin Sue and Charley and we went to the White House. We went into the Blue Room bowed to Mr. Lincoln who held out his hand & said How are you Stuart!  I introduced Cousin Sue & Charley and passed over to Cousin Mary.  Her salutations were how are you Mrs. Craig!!  How do you do Cousin John!!! and afer a few common place words of ceremony & form we passed into the East Room.   It was very select reception confined to Members of Congress, the Cabinet, Foreign legations and a few distinguished strangers.  The dressing of the ladies was very elegant.  The reception was give mainly to the Russian Navy who were present in full dress with their ladies who were magnificently dressed.  Sue was in ecstacies and would exclaim that is real Tibet!!  That is the genuine Cashmere!  What magnificent cloth of Gold!  We walked around and saw and heard all that was to be seen and heard.  It was a scene for many reasons well worth being seen and remembered.  After we had been some time in the East Room we received a message from Cousin Mary that she wished us to remain awhile after the reception was over. We did so and after the reception was over Charley [Craig], Cousins Sue [Craig} and myself were invited in Mary’s private Room.  After a very pleasant chat of several minutes I made my bow.  Cousin John and Charley staid awhile longer who left Sue & Cousin Mary alone.  Sue remained about one hour & left with an invitation to accompany Mary to Church to day,she promising to send her carriage to Willards for Sue & Charley and I believe also an invitation for them to dine at the White House to day.”

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “Mr. [Joseph R.] Flannigan, editor of th3e Phila. News, which sometime since hoisted the named of Lincoln for the Presidency came in this afternoon, and not being able to see the President, sat down and talked politics with me.  From what he says Chase is actively at work through his friend in Phila.  F. Says that he has been applied to, to do the press-work for two papers to be published in Chase’s interest; one formerly an organ of the Union League, and a new one to be started by one of the Hardings of the Inquirer – both bought by Jay Cooke & Co.”   Cooke was the government’s chief bond salesman and a key friend and supporter of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary:“Today [Bate’]s son] Dick left us, to begin a new experiment for his reformation and redemption.  I had urged his resignation of his place.  (Deputy Solicitor of the Court of Claims) A few days ago he sent in his resignation.  The President declined to accept it, until he had consulted me.  I told him that it was done by my advice, and informed him, in general terms, the reason why.”

John Hay notes: “Secretary Seward has just received another idiotic despatch from [Cassius] Clay abusing the Emperor Napoleon like a pickpocket.”

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Losing Patience with Missouri Commander John Schofield

December 18, 1863

President Lincoln meets with an emissary from Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin, Alexander M. White of Pennsylvania.

President Lincoln writes Illinois Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, in whose distract Ulysses S. Grant lived prior to the Civil War: “The Joint Resolution of thanks to Gen. Grant & those under his command, has been before me, and is approved. If agreeable to you, I shall be glad for you to superintend the getting up of the Medal, and the making of the copy to be be [sic] engrossed on parchment, which I am to transmit to the General.”

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton regarding the military situation in Missouri: “I believe Gen. Schofield must be relieved from command of the Department of Missouri, otherwise a question of veracity, in relation to his declarations as to his interfering, or not, with the Missouri Legislature, will be made with him, which will create an additional amount of trouble, not to be overcome by even a correct decision of the question.  The question itself must be avoided.  Now for the mode.  Senator Henderson, his friend, thinks he can be induced to ask to be relieved, if he shall understand he will be generously treated; and, on this latter point, Gratz Brown will help his nomination, as a Major General, through the Senate.  In no other way can he ben confirmed; and upon his rejection alone, it would be difficult for me to sustain him as Commander of the Department.  Besides, his being relieved from command of the Department.  Besides, his being relieved from command of the Department, and at the same time confirmed as a Major General, will be the means of Henderson and Brown leading off together as friends, and will go far to heal the Missouri difficulty.

Another point.  I find it is scarcely less than indispensable for me to do something for Gen. Rosecrans; and I find Henderson and Brown will agree to him for the commander of their Department.

Again, I have received such evidence and explanations, in regard to the supposed cotten transactions of Gen. Curtis, as fully restores in my mind the fair presumption of his innocence; and, as he is my friend, and what is more, as I think the countries friend, I would be glad to relieve him from the impression that I think him dishonest, by giving him a command.  Most of the Iowa and Kansas delegations, a large part of that of Missouri, and the delegates from Nebraska, and Colorado, ask this in behalf of Gen. C. and suggest Kansas and other contiguous territory West of Missouri, as a Department for him.

In a purely military point of view it may be that none of these things is indispensable, or perhaps, advantageous; but in another aspect, scarcely less important, they would give great relief, while, at the worst, I think they could not injure the military service much.  I therefore shall be greatly obliged if yourself and Gen. Halleck can give me your hearty co-operation, in making the arrangement.  Perhaps the first thing would to send Gen. Schofield’s nomination to me.  Let me hear from you before you take any actual step in the matter.

President Lincoln goes to Willard’s Hall to listen to lecture on Russia by Bayard Taylor, former secretary to minister at St. Petersburg.

Published in: on December 18, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Deals with Pardons, Patronage and Freedmen’s Issues

December 17, 1863

President Lincoln writes General Stephen A. Hurlbut: “I understand you have, under sentence of death, a tall old man, by the name of Henry F. Luckett ?  I personally knew him, and did not think him a bad man. Please do not let him be executed, unless upon further order from me, and, in the mean time, send me a transcript of the record.”

President Lincoln sends to Congress a message: “Herewith I lay before you a letter addressed to myself by a Committee of gentlemen representing the Freedman’s Aid Societies in Boston, New-York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. The subject of the letter, as indicated above, is one of great magnitude, and importance, and one which these gentlemen, of known ability and high character, seem to have considered with great attention and care. Not having the time to form a mature judgment of my own, as to whether the plan they suggest is the best, I submit the whole.”

After meeting with a Baltimore delegation : “To-day Hon. Mr. Webster, M.C. with Messrs Hoffman, Lester, Poteat, Lusby, representing that Gen. Pierce, Mr. Wright, and Mr. Given, Senator, agree with them, call, and ask that James L. Ridgely, be restored as Collector of Internal Revenue, in the 2nd. District. They say the grounds of his removal were misrepresentations, and that Mr. Stuart, sought nominations in several conventions, & failing bolted the nominations made this year. The States Attorney for Baltimore Co. also concurs, & in fact, they say the entire county organization concurs. These members are all for emancipation.”

President Lincoln had donated a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation for auction at the Sanitary Fair in Chicago.   He now writes Chicago jeweler James H. Hoes: “I have received from the Sanitary Commission of Chicago, the Watch which you placed at their disposal, and I take the liberty of conveying to you my high appreciation of your humanity and generosity, of which I have unexpectedly become the beneficiary.”

At night, President Lincoln attends “Merry Wives of Windsor” at Ford’s Theatre.

Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Beset by Congressman Fernando Wood

December 16, 1863

President Lincoln talks to New York Congressman  Fernando Wood about amnesty for Northern sympathizers with rebellion.  Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “This morning early Edward came into the President’s office and announced that Mr. [Fernando] Wood was here to see him.  ‘I am sorry he is here,’ said the President.  ‘I would rather he should not come about here so much.  Tell Mr. Wood that I have nothing as yet to tell him, on the subject we conversed about when he was last here.’  Edward went out to deliver his message.

“‘I can tell you what Wood (F.) Wants,’ said the President to me.  ‘He came here one day last week to urge me to publish some sort of amnesty for the northern sympathizers and abettors of the rebellion, which would include Vallandigham, and permit him to return; and promised that if I would do so, they would have two Democratic candidates in the field at the next Presidential election.”

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton regarding an aging widow whose husband had been secretary of the navy and secretary of state: “I am so repeatedly applied to for leave to Mrs. Upshur, (widow of Sec. [Abel P.] Upshur  her sister, and grand-child to come on the flag-of truce boat from City Point, that I shall be obliged if you will permit it.”

Published in: on December 16, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Spends First Day Back in the Office after a Long Illness

December 15, 1863

“The President has recovered his health so as to go out. He was at the theater four nights this week to see Hacket as Falstaff, and received the usual formal call of the Justices of the Supreme Court yesterday.  While he had the varioloid he said that he at last had something that he could give all his friends — the disease…”

Presidential aide John Hay writes that “the President took Swett, Nicolay & me to Ford’s with him to see Falstaff in Henry IV.  Dixon came in after a while.  Hackett was most admirable.  The President criticized H.’s reading of a passage where Hackett said, “Mainly thrust at me,” the President thinking it should read “Mainly thrust at me.” I told the Prest  tho’t he was wrong, that ‘mainly’ merely meant ‘strongly,’ fiercely.”  Aide William O. Stoddard sometimes accompanied the President to the theater and observed his fascination with the problems of Shakespeare’s lead characters like Lady Macbeth and Othello.  “His strong love of humor made Falstaff a great favorite with him, and he expressed a great desire to see [Shakespearean actor James Hackett] in that character,” wrote Stoddard.  “I was with him the first night [of Hackett’s engagement], and expected to see him give himself up to the merriment of the hour, although I knew that his mind was very much preoccupied by other things.  To my surprise, however, he appeared even gloomy, although intent upon the play, and it was only a few times during the whole performance that he went so far as to laugh at all, and then no heartily.  He seemed for once to be studying the character and its rendering critically, as if to ascertain the correctness of his own conception as compared with that of the professional artist.”

Presidential John G. Nicolay writes that Ohio Senator Benjamin F. “Wade rode down with me in my carriage to his lodgings today – and the conversation turning on Chase’s aspirations to the Presidency, by way of illustrating how long he had been planning and working for it, told me that at the beginning of the war when the new regiments were being officered, he (Wade) had got several second lieutenants appointed, but not paying further attention to them, he found that Chase got the commissions and forwarded them with letters claiming the merit of having attained the appointments.”  Wade was often a sharp critic of President Lincoln.

President Lincoln is trying to jump-start reconstruction in Louisiana.  He writes Dr. Thomas Cottman, a Louisiana planter with whom he had met: “You were so kind as to say this morning that you desire to return to Louisiana, and to be guided by my wishes, to some extent, in the part you may take in bringing that state to resume here rightful relation to the general government.

My wishes are in a general way expressed as well as I can express them, in the Proclamation issued on the 8th of the present month, and in that part of the annual message which relates to that proclamation.  It there appears that I deem the sustaining of the emancipation proclamation, where it applies, as indispensable; and I add here that I would esteem it fortunate, if the people of Louisiana should themselves place the remainder of the state upon the same footing, and then, if in their discretion it should appear best, make some temporary provision for the whole of the freed people, substantially as suggested in the last proclamation.  I have not put forth the plan in that proclamation, as a Procrustean bed, to which exact conformity is to be indispensable; and in Louisiana particularly, I wish that labor already done, which varies from that plan in no important particular, may not be thrown away.

The strongest wish I have, not already publicly expressed, is that in Louisiana and elsewhere, all sincere Union men would stoutly eschew cliqueism, and, each yielding something in minor matters, all work together.  Nothing is likely to be so baleful in the great work before us, as stepping aside of the main object to consider who will get the offices if a small matter shall go thus, and who else will get them, if it shall go otherwise.  It is a time now for real patriots to rise above all this.  As to the particulars of what I may think best to be done in any state, I have publicly stated certain points, which I have thought indispensable to the reestablishment and maintenance of the national authority; and I go further than this because I wish to avoid both the substance and the appearance of dictation.

Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner writes to British statesman John Bright:”The Presdt’s proposition of reconstruction has two essential features — (1) The irreversibility of Emancipation, — making it the ‘corner-stone’ of the new order of things, (2) the reconstruction or revival of the States by preliminary process before they take their place in the Union. –I doubt if the details will be remembered a fortnight from now.”

“Any plan which fastens Emancipation beyond recall will suit me.  All that I have proposed has been simply to secure this result.  And thank God! this will be done.  The most determined Abolitionists now are in the slave-states– & naturally for with them it is a death-grapple!–But how great & glorious will be this country when it fully redeemed, & stands before the world without a slave–an example of Emancipation!  Pardon my exultation!

President Lincoln takes “Swett Nicolay & me to Fords with him to see Falstaff in Henry IV,” writes John Hay in his diary.  “Dixon came in after a while.  Hackett was most admirable.  The President criticized H’s reading of a passage where Hackett said, ‘Mainly thrust at me” the President thinking it should read ‘mainly thrust at me.’  I told the Presdt. I tho’t he was wrong, that ‘mainly’ merely meant ‘strongly’ ‘fiercely.’

The Presdt, thinks the dying speech of Hotspur an unnatural and unworthy thing – as who does not.

Published in: on December 15, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Write Amnesty for Sister-in-law Emilie Hardin

December 14, 1863

President Lincoln writes out an amnesty for his sister-in-law, Emilie T. Helm: “Mrs. Emily T. Helm, not being excepted from the benefits of the proclamation by the President of the United States issued on the 8th. day of December. 1863, and having on this day taken and subscribed the oath according to said proclamation, she is fully relieved of all penalties and forfeitures, and remitted to all her rights, all according to said proclamation, and not otherwise; and, in regard to said restored rights of person and property, she is to be protected and afforded facilities as a loyal person.”  He added a postscript: “Mrs. Helm claims to on some cotten at Jackson, Mississippi, and also some in Georgia; and I shall be glad, upon either place being brought within our lines, for her to be afforded the proper facilities to show her ownership, and take her property.”

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “This morning early Edward came into the President’s office and announced that Mr. [Fernando] Wood was here to see him.  ‘I am sorry he is here,’ said the President.  ‘I would rather he should not come about here so much.  Tell Mr. Wood that I have nothing as yet to tell him, on the subject we conversed about when he was last here.’  Edward went out to deliver his message.

“‘I can tell you what Wood (F.) Wants,’ said the President to me.  ‘He came here one day last week to urge me to publish some sort of amnesty for the northern sympathizers and abettors of the rebellion, which would include Vallandigham, and permit him to return; and promised that if I would do so, they would have two Democratic candidates in the field at the next Presidential election.”

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary: “Up early and went to Willard’s Hotel to breakfast with Dr L W Brown.  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 proliminary 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 known.  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.”

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “The President’s Message, and the accompanying Proclamation [of Amnesty], are universally applauded here, and I am sorry to se that some professedly loyal prints at the North extend to it s chilling and suspicious a greeting.  One would think, to read their viciously penned leaders, that the ‘old gentleman at the White House,’ as they civilly call h8im, had suddenly become metamorphosed into the deepest and most designing of intriguers for personal popularity.” Stoddard said if critics “will examine with due care the reports of the condition of affairs, political and military, in large portions of Louisiana and Arkansas, and in almost the whole of Tennessee, they will be apt to discover a very considerable degree of preparation for the efficient action of such a plan of reconstruction and pardon as the President has promulgated.”

Published in: on December 14, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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.”

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Still Sick President Lincoln Refuses Callers

December 12, 1863

The President returns to bed and turns away visitors.  President Lincoln, however, does meet with Minnesota Senator Alexander Ramsey about the court martial of Captain Thomas A. P. Champlin.

General John Palmer, an Illinois political general who was an old Democratic colleague of President Lincoln had resigned.  President Lincoln wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “Gen. Palmer’s resignation was not accepted by me. You remember I promised to write him on the subject, which however I have neglected to do. I do not want him to resign, unless there be some reason not yet known to me.”

Published in: on December 12, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment