President Lincoln Renominated by Union Convention in Baltimore

June 8, 1864

The National Union Convention meeting in Baltimore renominates Abraham Lincoln for President and nominates Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson for vice president over incumbent Hannibal Hamlin. U.S. Marshal Ward Hill Lamon recalled in his memoirs: “On the day of his renomination at Baltimore, Mr. Lincoln was engaged at the War Department in constant telegraphic communication with General Grant, who was then in front of Richmond. Throughout the day he seemed wholly unconscious that anything was going on at Baltimore in which his interests were in any way concerned. At luncheon time he went to the White House, swallowed a hasty lunch, and without entering his private office hurried back to the War Office. On his arrival at the War Department the first dispatch that was shown him announced the nomination of Andrew Johnson for Vice-President.

“This is strange,” said he, reflectively; “I thought it was usual to nominate the candidate for President first.”

His informant was astonished. “Mr. President,” said he, “have you not heard of your own renomination? It was telegraphed to you at the White House two hours ago.”

Mr. Lincoln had not seen the dispatch, had made no inquiry about it, had not even thought about it. On reflection, he attached great importance to this singular occurrence. It reminded him, he said, of an ominous incident of mysterious character which occurred just after his election in 1860. It was the double image of himself in a looking-glass, which he saw while lying on a lounge in his own chamber at Springfield. There was Abraham Lincoln’s face reflecting the full glow of health and hopeful life; and in the same mirror, at the same moment of time, was the face of Abraham Lincoln showing a ghostly paleness. On trying the experiment at other times, as confirmatory tests, the illusion reappeared, and then vanished as before.

Mr. Lincoln more than once told me that he could not explain this phenomenon; that he had tried to reproduce the double reflection at the Executive Mansion, but without success; that it had worried him not a little; and that the mystery had its meaning, which was clear enough to him. To his mind the illusion was a sign, — the life-like image betokening a safe passage through his first term as President; the ghostly one, that death would overtake him before the close of the second. Wholly unmindful of the events happening at Baltimore, which would have engrossed the thoughts of any other statesman in his place that day, — forgetful, in fact, of all earthly things except the tremendous events of the war, — this circumstance, on reflection, he wove into a volume of prophecy, a sure presage of his re-election. His mind then instantly travelled back to the autumn of 1860; and the vanished wraith —the ghostly face in the mirror, mocking its healthy and hopeful fellow—told him plainly that although certain of re-election to the exalted office he then held, he would surely hear the fatal summons from the silent shore during his second term. With that firm conviction, which no philosophy could shake, Mr. Lincoln moved on through a maze of mighty events, calmly awaiting the inevitable hour of his fall by a murderous hand.

Historian James F. Glonek wrote: “This nomination by the Baltimore convention had not been produced by Abraham Lincoln. It was, instead, the product of curiously interrelated forces. Because of the general demand for a War Democrat, two strong candidates, Dickinson and Johnson, were able to organize extensive backing. Hamlin had substantial support but he failed because New England, his home section, failed to back him, and because Lincoln refused to act in his behalf. Although the president had been disappointed in Hamlin, who consistently supported Radical proposals during the war, he did not work to bring about the vice-president’s defeat. On the contrary, even when a deadlocked convention sought his advise, Lincoln remained consistently non-committal.”

In the evening, President Lincoln alone goes to play at Grover’s Theatre.

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Published in: on June 8, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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