Republican Presidential Race Begins as President Lincoln Contemplates His Mortality

February 6, 1864

President Lincoln visits Illinois Congressman Owen  Lovejoy who is dying of cancer.  “This war is eating my life out,” President Lincoln tells Lovejoy, one of his strongest supporters in the House.  “I have a strong impression that I shall not live to see the end.”

President Lincoln meets during the afternoon with painter Francis B. Carpenter who intends to immortalize the  first reading of Emancipation Proclamation.  Carpenter recalled: “The appointed hour found me at the well-remembered door of the official chamber, — that door watched daily, with so many conflicting emotions of hope and fear, by the anxious throng regularly gathered there. The President had preceded me, and was already deep in Acts of Congress, with which the writing-desk was strewed, awaiting his signature. He received me pleasantly, giving me a seat near his own arm-chair; and after having read Mr. Lovejoy’s note, he took off his spectacles, and said, “Well, Mr. C , we will turn you in loose here, and try to give you a good chance to work out your idea.” Then, without paying much attention to the enthusiastic expression of my ambitious desire and purpose, he proceeded to give me a detailed account of the history and issue of the great proclamation.:

President Lincoln rebuffs former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning who approaches him on behalf of a client: “At night went to see the President on behalf of Mrs Fitz, a loyal widow of Mississippi owning a cotton plantation there, and from whom the U S Army had taken all her slaves amounting to 47, and 10,000 bushels of corn — She is now a refugee in St Louis, reduced to indigence.  She asks no compensation for her slaves, but wishes the government to give her a sufficient number of negroes out of those accumulated upon its hands to work her farm the ensuing season, and enable her to raise a crop of cotton, she to pay them out of the proceeds the same wages which the government pays those it employs.  I made the proposition to the President thinking it reasonable and just, and worthy at least of being considered.  He became very much excited, and did not discuss the proposition at all, but said with great vehemence he had rather take a rope and hang himself than to do it.  That there were a great many poor women who had never had any property at all who were suffering as much as Mrs Fitz — that her condition was a necessary consequence of the rebellion, and that the government could not make good the losses occasioned by rebels.  I reminded him that she was loyal, and that her property had been taken from her by her own government, and was now being used by it, and I thought it a case eminently proper for some sort of remuneration, and her demand reasonable, and certainly entitled to respectful consideration.  He replied that she had lost no property — that her slaves were free when they were taken, and that she was entitled to no compensation.

I called his attention to the fact that a portion of her slaves, at least, had been taken in 1862, before his proclamation, and put upon our gun boats, when he replied in a very excited manner that he had rather throw up, than to do what was asked, and would not do anything about it.  I left him in no very good humor.

U.S. Marshal Ward Hill Lamon writes President Lincoln from New York City about the so-called Pomeroy Circular supporting Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase’s presidential candidacy. : “I am not sure when I can leave here for home having some important business in this city– Mr. H. G. Fant — (Banker in Washington City) who is here (& by the way an earnest, and enthusiastic friend of yours recd this morning from Washington City under the Frank of Mr. [James] Ashley M. C. of Ohio a most scurrilous and abusive pamphlet about you, your administration & the succession– I have not read it. Fant just told me of it and has handed it to [Leonard] Swett who leaves for Washington to night– He will show it to you and it will speak for itself–

I find the people here as elsewhere for you — your only opponents & enemies, being among your own office holders & the Democracy. I have met very many democrats, who boldly declare themselves for you, — among them Judge [Onias] Skinner of Illinois.

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Published in: on February 6, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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