President Lincoln Lifts Publication Ban on New York World and Journal of Commerce

May 21, 1864

President Lincoln acts to lift the punishing actions he had taken earlier in the week as a result of the publication of a fraudulent proclamation in New York newspapers. Historian Robert S. Harper wrote in Lincoln and the Press: “President Lincoln’s reconsideration of that portion of the order which called for arrest of the editors probably was taken upon the advice of [General John] Dix, who had the case in hand from the start. The early arrest he promised may have been accomplished a few hours after the forgery appeared, although it was not until two days later that the New York Tribune heard a suspect was in Fort Lafayette. On Saturday morning, May 21, the Tribune said it ‘understood’ that Joseph Howard ‘one of the editors’ of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, had been arrested.

“The Tribune ‘understood’ correctly. Howard, city editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, was in a cell at Fort Lafayette, the confessed forger of the proclamation. Also in Fort Lafayette was a reporter for the Eagle, Francis A. Mallison, who admitted he participated in the hoax. Mallison was arrested by two detectives on Saturday morning, May 21, while on his way to a precinct house to report for the army draft.”

President Lincoln writes Clara and Julia Brown: “The Afgan you sent is received, and gratefully accepted. I especially like my little friends; and although you have never seen me, I am glad you remember me for the country’s sake, and even more, that you remember, and try to help, the poor Soldiers.”

President Lincoln sends a response to the New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association which had awarded him honorary membership: “You comprehend, as your address shows, that the existing rebellion, means more, and tends to more, than the perpetuation of African Slavery–that it is, in fact, a war upon the rights of all working people. Partly to show that this view has not escaped my attention, and partly that I cannot better express myself, I read a passage from the Message to Congress in December 1861:

“It continues to develop that the insurrection * * * * * * * * * * till all of liberty shall be lost.”

The views then expressed remain unchanged, nor have I much to add. None are so deeply interested to resist the present rebellion as the working people. Let them beware of prejudice, working division and hostility among themselves. The most notable feature of a disturbance in you city last summer, was the hanging of some working people by other working people. It should never be so. The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. Nor should this lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor–property is desirable–is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprize. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.

President Lincoln writes Christiana A. Sack: “I can not postpone the execution of a convicted spy, on a mere telegraphic despatch signed with a name I never heared before. Gen. Wallace may give you a pass to see him, if he chooses.” She had written the President: “`My brother Henry Sack is sentenced to be hung on Monday next at Eastiville in Genl Butlers Dept on charge of being a spy. I think I can prove that he is not a spy Please postpone the execution of the sentence & give me permission to see him.” The death sentence for the spy was eventually commuted.”

President Lincoln writes Secretary of State William H. Seward: “The Bill for Montana has passed, and I will thank you to have the applications for offices there, which are in your Department, briefed at once.”

Published in: on May 21, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Deals with Minor Matters

May 20, 1864

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes James R. Gilmore: “This morning I gave to the President the copy of ‘Harper’ which you left with me. He said he should take pleasure in looking over your article.

In answer to your question he asked me to write to you that he thinks the publication talked of had on the whole better not be made.

“I forward herewith a letter for you addressed to my care, which arrived last night.”

President Lincoln orders: “No person engaged in trade, and proceeding in strict accordance with the published Regulations of the Treasury Department, upon that subject, and promulgated according to the Regulation numbered LVI, and being the last on page 6, to the left opposite this, shall be hindered or delayed therein, by the Army or Navy, or any person or persons connected therewith.”

President Lincoln replies to Missourian Felix Schmedding: “The pleasure of attending your [Mississippi Valley Sanitary] fair is not within my power.”

President Lincoln makes a note: “Thomas E. Morris of New-Jersey calls and asks that his son, Josiah W. Morris, born Aug. 17. 1844, be appointed a Cadet. He entered the Anderson Troupe, now 15th. Penn. Cavalry — in Sep. 1862, where he has remained and still is, and is one of the boys recommended by Gen. Rosecrans for West-Point.”

Published in: on May 20, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

An Old Friend Seeks Help from President Lincoln

May 19, 1864

“I take this liberty to inform you that my son, William Duff has got home and is now married and doing well at this present time,” writes Hannah Armstrong to President Lincoln, who had once defended the son against a murder charge.   The president had ordered “Duff” Armstrong discharged from the army in September 1863.

Now Honerable Sir I have one more request to ask of you and I have hope through your good and kind feeling for the distressed you will grant it to me.

It is this there is here in my neighbourhood a daughter of Old Mr Jonathen Louge an old acquaintance of yours and she is in a very destitute condition on account of a long and protracted case if Sickness, and She having a large family of Small children she cannot now get along in any way without the assistance of her husband whose names in Louis Ishmel he is Company C 85th regiment Ills Infantry and has been in the service now nearly two years and has never had any leave of absence since he left home

And she is now in Such destitute circumstances that she is not able to maintain herself and family and he has always bourne an honourable character at home

I hope you now will grant my request by Discharging him from the Service and restoring him to his now destitute family and by so doing you will confer a favor on his poor Wife and me

President Lincoln sends a letter to Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in which in refers him to Mary Elizabeth Booth, widow of Major Lionel Booth killed at Fort Pillow: “She makes a point, which I think very worthy of consideration which is, widows and children in fact, of colored soldiers who fall in our service, be placed in law, the same as if their marriages were legal, so that they can have the benefit of the provisions made the widows & orphans of white soldiers. Please see & hear Mrs. Booth.”

Journalist Noah Brooks writes: “At this present writing our people, who have been unduly elated at the successes of Grant, are unduly cast down at the temporary check which has attended the National arms in the Shenandoah Valley, where Sigel has been unable to cope with the superior numbers of the rebel force under [John] Breckinridge, and has retired with considerable l9oss, and has probably allowed heavy reinforcement to join Lee’s army,a t present held in check by Meade.”

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

False Proclamation Excites New York and Agitates Washington

May 18, 1864

“AL orders arrest of editors and publishers of New York ‘World’ and ‘Journal of Commerce’ for printing spurious proclamation purporting to be 3signed by President. Publication of newspapers suspended.

President Lincoln goes to the War Department to deal with a fraudulent proclamation on the war that two New York newspapers – New York World and Journal of Commerce – had published. He meets with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary of State William H. Seward. Seward later tells Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles that “a forged proclamation had been published by sundry papers in New York, among others by the World and Journal of Commerce, imposing a fast on account of the failures of Grant and calling for a draft of 300,000 men. Seward said he at once sent on contradicting it and had ordered the English steamer to be delayed. He then had called on Stanton to know whether such a document had passed over the regular telegraph. Stanton said there had not. He (S.) then ordered that the other line should be at once seized, which was done. Seward then asked if the World and Journal of Commerce had been shut up. Stanton said he knew of their course only a minute before. Seward said the papers had been published a minute too long; and Stanton said if he and the President directed, they should be suspended. Seward thought there should be no delay. Gold, under the excitement, has gone up ten per cent, and the cotton loan will advance on the arrival of the steamer at Liverpool with the tidings. It seems to have been a cunningly devised scheme, — probably by the Rebels and the gold speculators, as they are called, who are in sympathy with them.”

Historian Frank A. Flowerwrites in Edwin McMasters Stanton“On the morning of May 18, 1864, the World and the Journal of Commerce of New York contained what purported to be a proclamation by President Lincoln setting aside the 26th of the moth as a ‘day of fasting humiliation, and prayer,’ and calling for four hundred thousand more troops to be furnished before June 15, following, or raised by a ‘peremptory draft.’ The document, although subsequently proven to be spurious, was in Lincoln’s style, and created excitement akin to panic in New York City. The substance of it was telegraphed to Stanton, who instantly ordered General [John A.] Dix (commanding at New York) to seize and close the offices and arrest the editors of the newspapers publishing the proclamation and seize the offices of the telegraph line which was supposed to have transmitted the forgery from Washington to New York.

“Having telegraphed this order ‘confidentially’ to Dix, Stanton proceeded to the White House and asked Lincoln to issue a proclamation authorizing what he himself had already directed to be done. Dix acted decisively, closing the several offices mentioned and arresting editors, managers, telegraph operators, and other employees as rapidly as they could be apprehended. On the 20th he arrested Joseph Howard, formerly private secretary to Henry Ward Beecher, who confessed authorship of the forgery and was sent to Fort Lafayette. In his confession Howard exonerated the editors of the offending papers, which fact was reported to Stanton, who replied by telegraph to Dix:

Your telegram respecting the arrest of Howard has been received and submitted to the President. He directs me to say that while, in his opinion, the editors, proprietors, and publishers of the World and the Journal of Commerce are responsible for whatever appears in their papers injurious to the public service, and have no right to shield themselves behind a pleas of ignorance or want of criminal intent; he is not disposed to visit them with vindictive punishment; and, hoping they will exercise more caution and regard for the public welfare in the future, he authorizes you to restore to them their respective establishments.

The pseudo-proclamation had declared: “In all seasons of exigency, it becomes a nation carefully to scrutinize its line of conduct, humbly to approach the Throne of Grace, and meekly to implore forgiveness, wisdom, and guidance.

For reasons known only to Him, it has been decreed that this country should be the scene of unparalleled outrage, and this nation the monumental sufferer of the Nineteenth Century. With a heavy heart, but an undiminished confidence in our cause

Shelby Foote wrote in The Civil War: “Only two papers, the New York World and the Journal of Commerce, were on the street with the story before the forgery was detected; bulletins of denial promptly quashed its effect on the gold market, defeating the scheme. With Lincoln’s approval, Stanton moved swiftly in reprisal. padlocking the offices of both papers and clapping their editors into military arrest, along with Howard, who was soon sniffed out. With three days the editors were released and their papers resumed publication, even Howard was freed within about three months, on the plea that he was ‘the only spotted child of a large family’ and had been guilty of nothing worse than ‘the hope of making some money.’ No real harm was done, except to increase the public’s impression of Stanton – and, inferentially, his chief – as a tyrant, an enemy of free speech and the press. One witness declared, however, that the affair ‘angered Lincoln more than almost any other occurrence of the war period.’ His ire was aroused in part by the fac that the country’s reaction to the bogus proclamation obliged him to defer issuing an order he had prepared only the day before, calling, in far less doleful words, for the draft of 300,000 additional troops.”

President Lincoln writes General John A. Dix in New York City: “Whereas, there has been wickedly and traitorously printed and published this morning, in the “New York World” and New York ‘Journal of Commerce‘ newspapers printed and published in the city of New York,–a false and spurious proclamation, purporting to be signed by the President, and to be countersigned by the Secretary of State, which publication is of a treasonable nature, designed to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States, and to the rebels now at war against the Government, and their aiders and abettors: you are therefore hereby commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in you r command, the editors, proprietors and published of the aforesaid newspapers, and all such persons as, after public notice has been given of the falsehood of said publication, print and publish the same, with intent to give aid and comfort to the enemy;–and you will hold the persons so arrested, in close custody, until they can be brought to trial before a military commission, for their offense. You will also take possession by military force, of the printing establishments of the ‘New York World‘ and ‘Journal of Commerce,’ and hold the same until further order, and prevent any further publication therefrom.

President Lincoln responded to a Methodist delegation visiting the White House: “In response to your address, allow me to attest the accuracy of it’s historical statements; indorse the sentiments it expresses; and thank you, in the nation’s name, for the sure promise it gives.

Nobly sustained as the government has been by all the churches, I would utter nothing which might, in the least, appear invidious against any. Yet, without this, it may fairly be said that the Methodist Episcopal Church, not less devoted than the best, is, by it’s greater number, the most important of all. It is no fault in others that the Methodist Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospital, and more prayers to Heaven than any. God bless the Methodist Church–bless all the churches–and blessed be God, Who, in this our great trial, giveth us the churches.

President Lincoln speaks at the termination of a fund-raising fair sponsored by the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Washington: “I appear to say but a word. This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, all that a man hath he given for his life; and while all contribute of their substance the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. The highest merit, then, is due to the soldier. [Cheers.]

In this extraordinary war extraordinary developments have manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and amongst these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents in these fairs are the women of America. [Cheers.]

I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy; I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of woman were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying God bless the women of America! [Great applause.]

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “I am so pressed in regard to prisoners of war in our custody, whose homes are within our lines, and who wish to not be exchanged, but to take the oath and be discharged, that I hope you will pardon me for again calling up the subject. My impression is that we will not ever force the exchange of any of this class; that taking the oath, and being discharged, none of them will again go the rebellion, but the rebellion again coming to them, a considerable per centage of them, probably not a majority, would rejoin it; that by a cautious discrimination the number so discharged would not be large enough to do any considerable mischief in any event; would give me some relief from an intolerable pressure. I shall be glad therefore to have your cheerful assent to the discharge of those whose names I may send, which I will only do with circumspection.”

In using the strong hand, as now compelled to do, the government has a difficult duty to perform. At the very best, it will be turns do both too little and too much. It can properly have not motive of revenge, no purpose to punish merely for punishment’s sake. While we must, by all available means, prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society. These general remarks apply to several classes of cases, on each of which I wish to say a word.

First, the dismissal of officers when neither incompetency, nor intentional wrong, nor real injury to the service, is imputed. In such cases it is both cruel and impolitic, to crush the man, and make him and his friends permanent enemies to the administration him and his friends permanent enemies to the administration if not to the government itself. I think of two instances. One wherein a Surgeon, for the benefit of patients in his charge, needed some lumber, and could only get it by making a false certificate wherein the lumber was denominated ‘butter & eggs’ and he was dismissed for the false certificate. The other a Surgeon by the name Owen who served from the beginning of the war till recently, with two servants, and without objection, when upon discovery that the servants were his own sons, he was dismissed.

Another class consists of those who are known or strongly suspected, to be in sympathy with rebellion. An instance of this is the family of Southern, who killed a recruiting office last autumn, in Maryland. He fled, and his family are driven from their home, without a shelter or crumb, except when got by burtherning our friends more than our enemies. Southern had no justification to kill the officer; and yet he would not have been killed if he had proceeded in the temper and manner agreed upon by yourself and Gov. Bradford. But this is past. What is to be done with the family? Why can they not occupy their old home, and excite much less opposition to the government than the manifestation of their distress is now doing? If the house is really needed for the public service; or if it has been regularly confiscated and the title transferred, the case is different.

Again, the cases of persons, mostly women, wishing to pass our lines, one way or the other. We have, in some cases, been apparantly, if not really, inconsistent upon this subject–that is, we have forced some to go wished to stay, and forced others to stay who wished to go. Suppose we allow all females, with ungrown children of either sex, to go South, if they desire, upon absolute prohibition against returning during the war; and all to come North upon the same condition of not returning during the war, and the additional condition of taking the oath.

I wish to mention two special cases–both of which you well remember. The first is that of Yocum. He was unquestionably guilty. No one asking for his pardon pretends the contrary. What he did, however, was perfectly lawful, only a short while before, and the change making it unlawful had not, even then been fully accepted in the public mind. It is doubtful whether Yocum did not suppose it was really lawful to return a slave to a loyal owner, though it is certain he did the thing secretly, in the belief that his superiors would not allow it if known to  them. But the great point with me that the severe punishment of five years at hard labor in the Penitentiary is not at all necessary to prevent the repetition of the crime by himself or by others. If the offence was one of frequent recurrence, the case would be different; but this case of Yocum is the single instance which has come to my knowledge. I think that for all public purposes, and for all proper purposes, he has suffered enough.

The case of Smithson is troublesome. His wife and children are quartered mostly on our friends, and exciting a great deal of sympathy, which will soon tell against us. What think you of sending him and his family South, holding the sentence over him to be re-inforced if he returns during the war.


Published in: on May 18, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Contemplates Action on Fort Pillow Massacre

May 17, 1864

The Cabinet meets and awaits more concrete news from the war fronts. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes: “A painful suspense in military operations. It is a necessary suspense, but the intense anxiety is oppressive, and almost unfits the mind for mental activity. We know it cannot be long before one or more bloody battles will take place in which not only many dear friends will be slaughtered but probably the Civil War will be decided as to its continuance or termination.”

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton a draft response to the Fort Pillow Massacre: “Please notify the insurgents, through the proper military channels and forms, that the government of the United States has satisfactory proof of the massacre, by insurgent forces, at Fort-Pillow, on the 12th. and 13th days of April last, of fully white and colored officers and soldiers of the United States, after the latter had ceased resistance, and asked quarter of the former.

That with reference to said massacre, the government of the United States had assigned and set apart by name insurgent officers, therefore, and up to that time, held by said government as prisoners of war.

That, as blood can not restore blood, and government should not act for revenge, any assurance, as nearly perfect as the case admits, given on or before the first day of July next, that there shall be no similar massacre, nor any officer or soldier of the United States, whether white or colored, now held, or hereafter captured by the insurgents, shall be treated other than according to the laws of war, will insure the replacing of said       insurgent officers in the simple condition of prisoners of war.

That the insurgents having refused to exchange, or to give any account or explanation in regard to colored soldiers of the United State captured by them, a number of insurgent prisoners equal to the number of such colored soldiers supposed to have been captured by said insurgents will, from time to time, be assigned and set aside, with reference to such captured colored soldiers; but that if no satisfactory attention shall be given to this notice, by said insurgents, on or before the first day of July next, it will be assumed by the government of the United States, that said captured colored troops shall have been murdered, or subjected to Slavery, and that said government will, upon said assumption, take such action as may then appear expedient and just.

Presumably this communication to Stanton was never signed or delivered. Historian Bruce Tap wrote in Over Lincoln’s Shoulder: “The course taken by the administration suggest that Lincoln initially bowed to public opinion. Stanton, on his own authority, immediately ordered rations to Confederate prisoners reduced by 20 percent; however, he was persuaded by Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commissioner of prisoner exchange, to refrain from harsher measures. With respect to Fort Pillow, after considering the various opinions of his cabinet officers, the president gave Stanton a clear directive on May 17. Stanton was to notify rebel authorities ‘through proper military channels’ that the U.S. government had adequate proof of the atrocities committed at Fort Pillow.   ‘That with reference to said massacre,’ Lincoln continued, ‘the government of the United States has assigned and set apart by name insurgent officers theretofore, and up to that time, held by said government as prisoners of war.’ Lincoln then demanded a specific guarantee from the Confederacy, to be received no later than July 1, that no such massacre would again occur and that all U.S. soldiers would be treated as bona fide prisoners of war. If these conditions were met, there would be no retaliation….”

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary about one of the favorite topics for complaint – Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and the Treasury Department: “Met Governor Morrill this evening, who at once spoke of the misconduct of the Treasury agents. We frankly discussed the subject. he is on the Committee of Commerce and has a right to know the facts, which I gave him. The whole proceeding is a disgrace and wickedness. I agree with Governor M. that the Secretary of the Treasury has enough to do attend to the finances without going into the cotton trade. But Chase is very ambitious and very fond of power. He has, moreover, the fault of most of our politicians, who believe that the patronage of office, or bestowment of public favors, is a source of popularity. It is the reverse, as he will learn.

Published in: on May 17, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

White House Concern for Financial and Military Matters Continues

May 16, 1864

President Lincoln writes Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: “Evening before last two gentlemen called on me, and talked so earnestly about financial matters, as to set me thinking of them a little more particularly since. And yet only one idea has occurred, which I think worth while even to suggest to you. It is this: Suppose you change your five per cent loan to six, allowing the holders of the fives already out to convert them into sixes, upon taking each an equal additional amount at six. You will understand, better than I all the reasons pro and con, among which probably will be, the rise of the rate of interest in Europe.

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “Preparations are being made for the demolition of the old State Department building, and for the completion of the north wing of the Treasury building, whose magnificent proportions will thus include rather more ground, is addition to the present structure, than is now occupied by the old ‘grey brick.’ There are many associations connected with that (for America) ancient and modest-looking affair on the corner by the President’s house. Webster, and Marcy, and a long list of our distinguished names, have by turns ruled in its shabby halls and offices, and from there have sent out documents to determine peace or war, and influence the destiny of nations and races. No doubt, future history will unearth strange things from the musty piles of documents stored away in those dusty archives.”

Stoddard adds: “Now that Messrs. [Benjamin F.] Wade and [Daniel] Gooch have made their terrible report about the Fort Pillow tragedy, the question is, ‘How shall we retaliate?’ and few believe that our merciful and kindly Chief Magistrate can so far harden his heart as to do justice to these offenders against all laws, human and divine. The retaliation will come, however, and it is a relief to be certain at the same time that nothing will be done in cruel and heathenish revenge, and that what is done will be in such a manner tha the whole civilized world will be compelled to approve the sentence and its execution.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes a friend: “Grant has fought one of the most wonderful series of battles on record during the past fortnight. No armies that the world has heretofore produced have stood pounding like that in Spottsylvania. He is waiting now for the mud to dry a little so that he can move upon Lee again.”

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary: “At night Mr Ewing and I went to Presidents about the Wilkes & Black cases, but did not see him.”

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Anxiety about Virginia Military Situation Hits White House

May 15, 1864

“The President is cheerful and hopeful — not unduly elated, but seeming confident,” writes presidential aide John G. Nicolay to his fiancee. “If my own anxiety is so great, what must be his solicitude, after waiting through three long, weary years of doubt and disaster, for such a consummation, to see the signs of final and complete victory every day growing so bright and auspicious.”

President Lincoln continues to counsel generals against military control of churches. He orders: “While I leave this case to the discretion of Gen. [Nathaniel] Banks, my view is, that the U.S. should not appoint trustees for on in any way take charge of church as such. If the building is needed for military purposes, take it; if it not so needed, let its church people have it, dealing with any disloyal people among them, as you deal with other disloyal people.

President Lincoln writes an endorsement on the request of Allison C. Poorman to “trade within the lines”: “The writer of the within is a family connection of mine, & a worthy man; and I shall be obliged if he be allowed what he requests, so far as the rules and exigencies of the public service will permit.”  In a second trading application, Lincoln writes forWilliam F. Shriver: “The writer of this is personally unknown to me, though married to a young relative of mine. I shall be obliged if he be allowed what he requests so far as the rules and exigencies of the public service will permit.”

Published in: on May 15, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Mourns General James Wadsworth

May 14, 1864

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: “The President came in last night in his shirt & told us of the retirement of the enemy from his works at Spottsylvania & our pursuit. I complimented him on the amount of underpinning he still has left & he said he weighed 180 pds. Important if true.”

News of the death of General James Wadsworth reaches the White House.   Hay writes in his diary: “I have not known the President so affected by a personal loss since the death of Baker, as by the death of General [James S.] Wadsworth. While deeply regretting the loss of Sedgwick, he added, “Sedgwick’s devotion an earnestness were professional. But no man has given himself up to the war with such self-sacrificing patriotism as Genl Wadsworth. He went into the service not wishing or expecting great success or distinction in his military career & profoundly indifferent to popular applause, actuated only by a sense of duty which he neither evaded nor sought to evade.”

President Lincoln writes Kansas Governor Thomas Carney: “The within letter is, to my mind, so obviously intended as a page for a political record, as to be difficult to answer in a straight-forward business-like way. The merits of the Kansas people need not to be argued to me. They are just as good as any other loyal and patriotic people; and, as such, to the best of my ability, I have always treated them, and intend to treat them. It is not my recollection that I said to you Senator Lane would probably oppose raising troops in Kansas, because it would confer patronage upon you. What I did say was that he would probably oppose it because he and you were in a mood of each opposing whatever the other should propose. I did argue generally too, that, in my opinion, there is not a more foolish or demoralizing way of conducting a political rivalry, than these fierce and bitter struggles for patronage.

As to your demand that I will accept or reject your proposition to furnish troops, made to me yesterday, I have to say I took the proposition under advisement, in good faith, as I believe you know; that you can withdraw it if you wish, but that while it remains before me, I shall neither accept or reject it, until, with reference to the public interest, I shall feel that I am ready. Yours truly

Carney had written him: ““Kansas has furnished more men according to her population, to crush this rebellion, than any other State in this Union. Her sons, to day; are scattered over the country, defending the Old Flag, while many of her peaceable citizens at home, are being murdered by lawless Guerrillas. Such is the intelligence I received today.

The Major General Commanding that Department, informed me, he needed more troops to secure protection to the State. I have tendered you two thousand troops, for One hundred days, such as you have accepted from other States, to be used as you might direct through the Commander of that Department, without other cost to the Government than the pay of Volunteers without bounty.

You refered the matter to the Secretary of War, for his consideration. I found that officer overburdened with business of such magnatude to the country, that he could not be seen, either upon my request or yours.

Published in: on May 14, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Senators Visit the White House

May 13, 1864

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: “Early this morning [Oregon Senator James W.] Nesmith came in with Ingalls spread eagle despatch [in New York Tribune] – which ‘Nez’ in the worst possible taste published in the papers – Seward and the President in the room together reading telegrams. Nesmith on hearing that Grant had said ‘I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer’ told an awful backwoods story which is a miracle of pertinency.”

Hay adds that Kansas Senator “Jim Lane came into my room this morning and said the President must chiefly guard against assassination. I poohpoohed him& said that while every prominent man was more or less exposed to the attacks of maniacs, no foresight could guard against them. He replied by saying that he had by his caution & vigilance prevented his own assassination when a reward of one hundred thousand dollars had been offered for his head. Bruce, who was sitting near, who has lost his contest in the House & who consequently is disposed to take rather cynical views of things, observed, when Lane had left, that he was probably anxious to convince the President that his life was very precious to him.’”

President Lincoln writes a memorandum regarding the shifting control of Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis, Tennessee among anti-Union and pro-Union forces: “I believe it is true with reference to the church within named I wrote as follows;

“If the Military have Military need of the Church building, let them keep it; otherwise let them get out of it, and leave it and it’s owners alone, except for cases causes that justify the arrest of any one”

March 4. 1864

A. Lincoln”

I am now told that the Military were not in possession of the building; and yet that in pretended execution of the above, they, the Military put one set of men out of and another set into the building– This, if true, is most extraordinary. I say again, if there be no military need for the building, let leave it alone, neither putting any one in or out of it, except you finding him on finding some one preaching or practicing treason, in which case lay hands upon him just as if he were doing the same thing in any other building, or in the open air streets or highways.

Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Tries to Calm Kansas Political Feud

May 12, 1864

President Lincoln writes Kansas Senator Samuel Pomeroy: “I did not doubt yesterday that you desired to see me about the appointment of Assessor in Kansas. I wish you and Lane would make a sincere effort to get out of the mood you are in. I[t] does neither of you any good—it gives you the means of tormenting my life out of me, and nothing else.

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary regarding the upcoming Republican National Convention in Baltimore in June: “I saw Governor Morgan yesterday respecting his circular. He says he sent it out in self-defense; that, while he knew I would stand by him in resisting a postponement of the convention, he was not certain that others would, should things by any possibility by adverse. He says the answers are all one way, except that of Spooner of Ohio, who is for a postponement. This is indicative of the Chase influence.

To-night Governor Morgan informs me that the hall in which the convention is to meet has been hired by the malcontents, through the treachery and connivance of H. Winter Davis, in whom he confided. He called on me to advise as to the course to be pursued. Says he can get the theatre, can build a temporary structure, or he can alter the call to Philadelphia. Advised to try the theatre for the present.

President Lincoln responds to Philadelphia shipbuilder John Birely: “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 11th May and the accompanying cane. I beg that you will accept the assurance of my cordial gratitude for your kindness.” Birely had written that”the wood of which [cane] was taken from the wreck of the United States ship Alliance, (now lying in the River Delaware.) the first American built man of war, that hoisted the glorious stars and stripes in the War of Independence.”

Published in: on May 12, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment