Lincoln Plots Against Postponement

April 3, 1864

Lincoln’s commissioner of pensions Joseph H. Barrett, was called to the White House to discuss an attempt to postpone the Republican Union Convention scheduled for June in Baltimore. Barrett wrote that :the attempted movement to postpone the Baltimore convention, called to meet in June. He wanted this scheme defeated, and, in fact, it never gained much headway.” Barrett subsequently wrote a campaign biography of Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and His Presidency.

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary after meeting at the White House: “At night went to the Presidents, and got an order for the release of Ludwell Y Browning, a rebel prisoner at Camp Douglass [in Illinois]. Spoke to the President also about Capt Black’s case, and about the appointment of Eben: Moore Esq, as Secretary of the Territory of Mantano [Montana]. The President told me that a few days before Govr [Thomas] Bramlett of Ky: Hon Archibald Dixon & Mr Hodges of the same state had called upon him in regard to the enlistment of slaves as soldiers in Ky, in reference to which there has been much dissatisfaction in that State, and that everything had been amicably adjusted between them, and that they had gone home satisfied. He said when they were discussing the matter he asked them to let him make a little speech to them, which he did and with which they were much pleased. That afterwards Mr [Albert] Hodges came back to him, and asked him to give him a copy of his remarks to take with him to Ky — He told Mr Hodges that what he had said was not written, and that he had not then time to commit it to paper — but to go home and he would write him a letter in which he would give, as nearly as he could all that he had said to them orally — that he had written the letter today, Sunday, and wished to show it to me, as he felt the need of sympathy & advice. He then read it to me. It contained his views of the necessity and propriety of the enlistment of negroes to aid the Union cause. A well written and excellent paper.”

He also stated to me, at length, the reason which impelled him to issue the proclamation of emancipation, but which I have not now time to commit to paper. I have no doubt he was honest & sincere in what he did, and actuated by conscientious views of public duty — This is the first talk I have had with him on public affairs since he issued that proclamation.

The letter to Hodges would become one of President Lincoln’s most insightful documents regarding his operation of the war.

Illinois friend and editor Thomas J. Pickett petitions president: “Am removed from agency Island Rock Island without chance to be heard in defense desire investigation: will send Evidence by mail.”

New York businessman Ambrose W. Thompson, a would-be developer of the Chiriqui region of Panama, writes to follow up his meeting the previous day regarding European affairs and American politics: “In continuation of the conversation of Saturday, I would respectfully suggest, that opinions may be formed in Europe and reflected thence through the press and socially, to & through this country, which will do more to strengthen your position in in the coming struggle, than if they were formed and originally promulgated here. What the general tenor of these should be, I know sufficiently well; but there may be peculiar and distinctive points which should be touched, or avoided, and which you alone can designate. It is these that I desired to learn from you. On parting from you yesterday I mentioned that a note to Mr. Adams might be useful. Upon reflection I think otherwise. Such a note might be misconstrued. I therefore do not wish it.”

Upon the other subject, — change of a portion of the cabinet — there is much to be gained, especially financially– If something is not done the results of expansion in the money representation, may be ruinous. I beg to make one suggestion, — Negotiate a loan of one hundred millions in Europe upon the condition that the money or its average amount is to remain there in Bankers hands. Use this as a credit to break down exchange. Gold falls with exchange — prices of subsistence with gold. To illustrate the operation. If you have the amount named to your credit in Europe, draw against it, — sell the exchange at a gradually reducing rate so as not to create ruin of present holders, remit the amount received for sales, to keep the credit intact — and you have control of the markets. Army supplies will be reduced one half. Your finances become managable. You will gain the eclat financially and politically. Suppose you should lose a few millions (which you must lose at first) and save some five hundred millions in expenses & place the credit of the country in an unassailable position!– Who would then doubt the skill of the movement, or fail to render praise at the result? It would crush the Chase faction at a blow, and as the loan made with such an understanding would be taken by all the Bankers of Europe, it would also crush out the Confederate negotiations for capital & for recognition. I believe the negotiation can be made, but it should be inaugurated secretly & by yourself.

I desired much to lay this whole plan before you in detail; but the time did not admit. If you wish I can make quiet inquiries & write you from England an outline of the whole matter. I shall sail on the morning of the 6th inst in the Steamer China from New York & will be glad to have your views on the subjects named. They will be held by myself save only so far as you wish them promulgated & then the source will be unknown.

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Published in: on April 3, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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