John G. Nicolay Reports on White House Turmoil

January 29, 1864

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes to colleague John Hay: “I have been for a week trying to get time to write, and haven’t yet succeeded.  Between work which arises and pleasure which allures, minor duties are unceremoniously laid on the shelf.  Congress sends up a hungrier swarm of gad-flies every morning to bedevil the President, and to generally retard and derange business[.] My subs are not yet well broken in and I must necessarily give everything my personal supervision

‘I came out of what Uncle Jesse calls the imbroligo of the Cabinet dinner with flying colors.  As I wrote before, after having compelled Her S[atanic] Majesty to invite the Spragues I was taboo, and she made up her mind resolutely not to have me at the dinner.  She fished around with Stod to try to get posted about managing the affair: but I instructed Stod to tell her, 1st that there was no way of his obtaining the requisite information, and 2dly that if there were, yet as it was exclusively my business he could and would not do anything in the premises.  Stod I think carried out my instructions faithfully[.] She expressed her great regret but still announced her determination to run the machine without my help.  “Things ran on till the afternoon of the dinner, when Edward [McManus] came up to tell me that she had backed down, requested my presence and assistance — apologizing and explaining that the affair had worried her so she hadn’t slept for a night or two.  I think she has felt happier since she cast out that devil of stubbornness. The dinner was got through creditably.  On Wednesday last she sent out cards for the Diplomatic Dinner.  While she has not in all matters done so, she has in the main adopted my advice and direction in this.”

“Society flourishes – I couldn’t begin to count the parties on all my fingers.  They are beginning to double up.  Phernanndiwud {Fernando Wood] had a grand blow-out last night to which he didn’t invite me.  Bob [Lincoln] has been home about a week, and Neil Dennison is staying with him.

“The Tycoon is taking the Arkansas matter in hand as you will see by the papers.  I have not yet had time to get you Gantt’s Address but will do so[.]

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “But little done at the Cabinet. Seward says the London Times says the Navy Department is now the most abused of any Department, but it knows not why, for no Department could have been better managed.”

President Lincoln writes General Daniel Sickles, who lost a leg at the Battle of Gettysburg: “Could you, without it’s being inconvenient, or disagreeable to yourself, immediately take a trip to Arkansas for me?”  Sickles responds: “Your telegram received this afternoon. I am ready to go at once. Shall I wait here for orders or proceed to Washington?”

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Published in: on January 29, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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