Visit to Washington by General Benjamin F. Butler is Blocked

April 6, 1864

President Lincoln blocks a planned trip by General Benjamin F. Butler to Washington. Presidential aide John Hay writes Butler on behalf of the president: “The President directs me to acknowledge receipt of your dispatch of this morning and to say that you will submit by letter or telegram, to the Secretary of War, the points in relation to the exchange of prisoners wherein you wish instructions; and that it is not necessary for you to visit Washington for the purpose indicated.”

Simon Cameron had gone to Virginia to meet with General Benjamin Butler, whose political support did not want to lose. He considered inviting Butler to Washington to discuss prisoner exchanges – always a ticklish topic.   Historian William Frank Zornow wrote in Lincoln & the Party Divided: “Whatever Lincoln had in mind in connection with this proposed visit is impossible to tell. Whether it was merely to be an exchange of social amenities or whether Lincoln hoped to succeed where Cameron had failed cannot be ascertained because the visit was never made. It was cancelled on the excuse that Mrs. Lincoln was ill. Had Lincoln really wanted to discuss politics with Butler, he could have made the trip alone. In view of the fact that no additional attempts were made to induce Butler to join the Union ticket, it might be concluded the president was not really too sorry he had refused.”

At night, President Lincoln travels to the U.S. Capitol for a lecture by George Thompson, English antislavery orator, in the House of Representatives.

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

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