President Lincoln Returns to Washington and Work

June 17, 1864

After visiting the Great Central [Christian Commission] Fair, he Lincoln leave Philadelphia for the capital early in the morning. Presidential aide Edward Duffield Neill recalled that the Lincolns “returned one morning about ten o’clock. As official business had accumulated during his absence, as soon as he entered the house he went immediately to his office. In less than an hour I went to see him, and found him stretched out, his head on the back of one chair, his legs resting on another, his collar and cravat on the table, a mulatto barber lathering his face, while the Attorney-General, Edward Bates, was quietly seated by his side, talking to him upon some matter of state. It was a striking illustration of his desire to be at work. To the question whether his visit was pleasant, he replied that it was, and the ladies, he believed, had made several thousand dollars by placing him on exhibition.”

President Lincoln writes Senator Lyman Trumbull: “Yours relative to reorganization of a State Government for Arkansas is received. I believe none of the Departments have had any thing to do with it. All that has been done within the range you mention, is embraced in an informal letter and telegraphic correspondence between parties there and myself, copies of which I have already furnished to Mr. Daves of the H.R. for the object corresponding to yours. It will save labor, and oblige me, if you will procure him to show you them. I believe you will find mentioned, a proclamation of Gen. Steele, no copy of which is with with [sic] the correspondence. The reason is I could not find it.

If, after reading this, it still would be more satisfactory to you to have copies for yourself, let me known, and I will have them made out as soon as I reasonably can.

After several missed train connections, presidential aide John Hay returns from St. Louis – missing the Lincolns’ train in Philadelphia five minutes.   After arriving at the White House that afternoon, Hay reports on his meeting in St. Louis with General William Rosecrans regarding the supposedly treasonous activities of the Knights of the Golden Circle: “I saw him at once and gave him the impressions I have recorded…The situation of affairs had been a good deal changed in my transit by the Avatar of Vallandigham in Ohio. The President seemed not over-well

pleased that Rosecrans had not sent all the necessary papers by me, reiterating his want of confidence in Sanderson, declining to be made a party to q quarrel between Stanton and Rosecrans, and stating in reply to Rosecrans’ suggestion of the importance of the great secrecy, that a secret which had already been confided to Yates Morton Brough Bramlette & their respective circles of officers could scarcely be worth the keeping now. He treats the Northern section of the conspiracy as not especially worth regarding, holding it a mere political organization, with about as much malice and as much of puerility as the Knights of the Golden circle.

About Vallandigham himself, he says that the question for the Government to decide is whether it can afford to disregard the contempt of the authority & breach of discipline displayed in Vallandigham’s unauthorized return: for the rest, it cannot be result in benefit to the Union cause to have so violent and indiscreet a man go to Chicago as a firebrand to his own party. The President had some time ago seriously thought of annulling the sentence of exile but had been too much occupied to do it. Fernando Wood said to [President Lincoln] on one occasion that he could do nothing more politic than to bring Val. back: in that case he could promise him two democratic candidates for President this year. ‘These war democrats’ said F.W. ‘Are scoundrelly hypocrites: they want to oppose you & favor the war at once which is nonsense. There are but two sides in this fight: yours and mine – war & peace. You will succeed while the war lasts, I expect, but we shall succeed when the war is over. I intend to keep my record clear for the future.”

The President said one thing in which I differ from him. He says ‘The opposition politicians are so blinded with rage seeing themselves unable to control the politics of the country that they may be able to manage the Chicago convention for some violent end, but they cannot transfer the people, the honest though misguided masses to the same course[.]” I said “I thought the reverse to be true: that the sharp managers would go to Chicago to try to do some clever and prudent thing such as nominate Grant without platform: but that the barefooted Democracy from the heads of the hollows who are now clearly for peace would carry everything in the Convention before them. As it was at Cleveland; the New York politicians who came out to intrigue for Grant could not get a hearing. They were as a feather in the wind in the midst of that blast of German fanaticism. I think my idea is sustained by the action of the Illinois Convention which endorses Val. On his return & pledges the party strength to protect him. In the stress of this war politics have drifted out of the hands of politicians & are now more than ever subject to genuine popular currents.”

The President said he would take the matter into consideration and would write tomorrow the 18th to Brough & Heintzelman about Val. And to Rosecrans at an early day.

Elsewhere in unseasonably hot morning, there is an explosion at the Washington Arsenal and 21 young women, mostly Irish-Americans, were killed while packing cartridges in their unhealthy and cramped working conditions.

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

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