President Lincoln Returns to Washington

April 19, 1864

After delivering short speech to Sanitary Commission Fair on Monday, President Lincoln comes back to Washington by train in the morning – missing the regular Tuesday morning cabinet meeting. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles complains in his diary: “He has a fondness for attending these shows only surpassed by [Secretary of State William H.] Seward. Neither Seward, nor Blair, not Chase was present with us to-day. Blair was with the President at Baltimore. Being a Marylander, there was propriety in his attendance.”   With Congress about to adjourn, President Lincoln attends the final levee of the congressional season which is well attended.

President aide John G. Nicolay writes Union General Benjamin F. Butler regarding President Lincoln’s Confederate sister-in-law, Martha Todd White, who had recently returned to her home in Alabama: “I find the following statement floating about the newspapers.

‘Mrs. J. Todd White, a sister to Mrs. President Lincoln, was a rebel spy and sympathizer. When she was passed into the confederacy a few days ago, by way of Fortress Monroe, she carried with her in trunks all kinds of contraband goods, together with medicines, papers, letters, etc. which will be doubtless of the greatest assistance to those with whom she consorts.

[‘]When Gen. Butler wished to open her trunks, as the regulations of transit there prescribe, this woman showed him an autograph pass or order from President Lincoln, enjoining upon the Federal officers not to open any of her trunks and not subject the bear of the pass, her packages, parcels, or trunks, to any inspection or annoyance.

[‘]Mrs. White said to General Butler, or the officers in charge there, in substance, as follows: ‘My trunks are filled iwth contraband, but I defy you to touch them. Here (passing it under their noses)

[‘]Mrs. White said to General Butler, or the officers in charge there, in substance, as follows: ‘My trnks are filled with contraband, but I defy you to touch them. Here (passing it under their noses) here is the positive order of your master!’

[‘]Mrs. White was thus allowed to pass without the inspection and annoyance so premeptorily forbidden by President Lincoln, in an order written and signed by his own hand, and to-day the contents of his wife’s sister’s trunks are giving aid and comfort to the enemy – nor least is the shock which these facts will give to the loyal hearts whose hopes and prayers and labors sustain the cause which is thus betrayed in the very White House [.]

Now the President is not conscious of having given this lady a pass which permitted her to take any ting more than the ordinary baggage allowed, nor which exempted her from the existing rates of inspection. He certainly gave her no such extraordinary privileges as are above describe and implied.

“Will you please inform me whether Mrs White presented to you what purported to be anything more than the usual pass on which persons have been sent through our lines, or which purported to entitle her to carry more than ordinary baggage?

2d Did she take with her more than ordinary baggage?

3d Was or was not her baggage inspected?

4th Did she use the language alleged in the above statement?

P.S. Are such passes usually taken up by our Officers? If so, please send me this pass, or a copy of it.

President Lincoln is sent a communication from West Tennessee leaders: “The undersigned, citizens of West Tennessee, unconditional Supporters of the Federal government and of your Administration, hereby accredit to you, Col. P. E. Bland and J M Tomeny Esq. Of Memphis, for the purpose of conferring with you, and others in Authority, in relation to the interests of the Government and the loyal people of West Tennessee in their mutual relations to each other.

Having implicit confidence in the integrity, loyalty and intelligence of these gentlemen, we have prevailed on them to proceed to Washington, and represent to you and others in Authority the Situation, Sentiments and necessities of the people of the Western Division of our State, and to request of you the adoption and enforcement of such measures of policy as may, in your judgement, be conducive to the welfare and happiness of the people whom they represent, and calculated to effect the early restoration of Tennessee to her proper position in the Federal Union, upon a Sound and loyal basis.

President Lincoln hosts the finalTuesday reception of the winter season. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary the next day: “The last public evening reception of the season took place last evening at the Executive Mansion. It was a jam, not creditable in its arrangements to the authorities. The multitude were not misbehaved, farther than crowding together in disorder and confusion may be so regarded. Had there been a small guard, or even a few police officers, present, there might have been regulations which would have been readily acquiesced in and observed. There has always been a want of order and proper management at these levees or receptions, which I hope may soon be corrected.”

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Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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