President Lincoln Focuses on Government of Norfolk-Portsmouth Region

January 18, 1864

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton writes to General Benjamin F. Butler: Virginia “Gov. [Francis] Pierpoint has been, from the first, a zealous and efficient supporter of the government.  He now understands that you have ordered all the municipal officers of Norfolk and Portsmouth to report to you in detail the amounts of all money received by them, &c. and also that you have constituted a commission to investigate the condition of the Savings Funds and Banking institutions there; and he, as Governor, feels aggrieved by these measures.  The President directs me to request you to suspend these measures until you can state to him, in writing or otherwise, your views of the necessity or propriety of them.”  The note has been drafted by President Lincoln.

President Lincoln writes a memo: “The bearer, John P.W. [M.] Thornton, a private in Co. E 61st New York volunteers, comes to me voluntarily under apprehension that he may be arrested, convicted, and punished as a deserter; and I hereby direct him to report forthwith to his regiment for duty, and upon condition that he does this, and faithfully serves out his term, or until he shall be honorably discharged for any cause, he is fully pardoned for any supposed desertion heretofor committed.”

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes to John Hay regarding a dinner the Lincolns are hosting on Thursday and his difficulty in placing the Chase family in view of Mrs. Lincoln’s opposition: “I have this morning procured from the Interior Dept. and mailed to you at Hilton Head, the laws of the 37th Congress, 3 Vols. in paper.  I suppose they will contain what you want – they cost nothing.

— When I came to direct the cards for the dinner, I referred the question of [the] ‘snub’ to the Tycoon who after a short conference with the powers at the other end of the hall came back and order Rhode Island and Ohio to be included in the list.  Whereat there soon arose such a rampage as the House hasn’t seen for a year, and I am again taboo.  How the thing is to end is yet as dark a problem as the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty.  [William O.] Stod[dard] fairly cowered at the violence of the storm, and I think for the first time begins to appreciate the awful sublimities of nature.   Things have subsided somewhat, but a day or two must of course bring them to a head.

White House aide Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “The humiliating confession must be made at all hazards – Washington, at least to the dwellers therein, is dull, insufferably dull.  True, Congress is in session, and is doing very well, but it is not doing anything exciting.  Even the expulsion of Garrett Davis, if he is to be expelled, would not excite anybody.  The social parties are charming, and sufficiently numerous, but there is no excitement in them, except to a few unfledged young officers, in the glory of new uniforms.  The weekly receptions at the President’s House are charming, and call together long lists of our most distinguished citizens, both soldiers and civilians; but a brilliant crowd does not make a man’s heart beat or his breath come quickly.  No, everything is tame and dull.”

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Published in: on January 18, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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