President Lincoln Leaves by Boat for Virginia War Front

June 20, 1864

“The weather for the past week has been singular – mostly cool, favorable to military operations, with one or two sultry days, and no rain,” White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch. Presidential aide John Hay writes John G Nicolay: “Madame is in the North. The President has gone today to visit Grant. I am alone in the White pest-house. The ghosts of twenty thousand drowned cats come in nights through the South Windows. I shall shake my buttons off with the ague before you get back.” The president is accompanied aboard the U.S.S. Baltimore by his son Tad, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox, and Caleb Willard, the proprietor of Willard’s Hotel in Washington for an overnight voyage to General Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters.

President Lincoln today interviews Philadelphia Postmaster Cornelius Walborn. President Lincoln writes a memo on their conversation: “Complaint is made to me that you are using your official power to defeat Judge Kelly’s renomination to Congress. I am well satisfied with Judge Kelly as an M.C. and I do not know that the man who might supplant him would be as satisfactory; but the correct principle, I think, is that all our friends should have absolute freedom of choice among our friends. My wish therefore is that you will do just as you think fit with your own suffrage in the case, and not constrain any of your subordinates to do other than as he thinks fit with his. This is precisely the rule I inculcated, and adhered to on my part, when a certain other nomination, now recently made, was being canvassed for.” On June 16, the New York Tribune had reported:

“The Postmaster-General has instructed Postmaster Walborn of Philadelphia to use his official influence to prevent the renomination of Judge Kelley. The fact is creating a feeling of deep resentment among the administration members of the House. Mr. Lincoln . . . will not permit his patronage to be used to destroy his stanchest friends.” Walborn’s denial appeared in the Tribune the next day: “The special dispatch of your Washington correspondent in this day’s paper is not correct. Postmaster-General Blair has never instructed, requested, or advised me as to the political future of Judge Kelley.

The anti-Lincoln New York World publishes an article – supposedly reprinted from the Essex Statesman, charging Mr. Lincoln asked Marshal Lamon “for the negro song of ‘Picayune Butler.’” Robert S. Harper wrote in Lincoln and the Press: “The history of The World under Manton Marble’s direction makes it easy to believe that the story was prepared in his office and made to appear as reprinted to give it added interest. Whatever the source of the story, it was a grand success from Marble’s point of view. It set the country to talking, and it hurt Lincoln deeply, perhaps more than any slur published about him.”

“Ward Hill Lamon, who was accused of singing, observed that Lincoln could not bring himself to read the bitter comment. He suggested the president issue a refutation, but he demurred. Many persons wrote to Lincoln and Lamon about the alleged episode, and again the marshal wanted to speak publicly, but the President told him to keep silent.”

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

President Attends Funeral of Arsenal Fire Victims

June 19, 1864

President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton led the funeral cortege for 178 of the 21 women who died in the fire at Arsenal on June 17. Many of them were Irish-American teenagers – the youngest was just 13.   They were buried in Congressional Cemetery across the Anacostia River. The others received a Catholic burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Stanton had written the Arsenal commandant: “”You will not spare any means to express the respect and sympathy of the government for the deceased and their surviving friends.” The Washington Star reported:

The remains of the fifteen dead, not removed, were enclosed in handsome coffins, silver mounted, with three handles on each side, and a plate on the breast, bearing the name of the inmate when known. The coffins were lined with muslin, and were made in the Arsenal carpenter shop, in which the remains were placed on Saturday morning when they were removed to the platform. The platform was about fifteen feet by twenty feet from the ground, covered with duck and trimmed with mourning. Over this was a canopy, draped with the American flag and mourning.

Under this canopy the coffins were placed — eight containing the remains of those who could not be identified ranged along the north side of the platform, each bearing a label marked “unknown,” and on the opposite side seven other coffins, with the names of each as follows, commencing at the east end with Annie Bache, Julia McCuin, Mrs. Collins, Elizabeth Branagan, Lizzie Brahler, Eliza Lacey and Maggie Yonson….

On the other side of the platform were the eight coffins, each marked “unknown.” Here the afflicted relatives gathered, passing excitedly along the line of coffins, eagerly scanning each, as if hoping in some possible way to be able to designate the one containing the remains of their own dead.

The National Intelligencer reported: “No such demonstrations of popular sympathy has ever been expressed in Washington before as by this immense out-pouring of people to attend the funeral of the victims of this sad disaster, and the demonstration will long be remembered by those who witnessed it.

Every hack in Washington, we believe, was engaged on yesterday, and to the credit of the hackmen, it should be stated, that they held a meeting of their association on Saturday night and agreed as a body that not withstanding the extraordinary demand for their services, only the lowest ordinary rate of funeral fare should be charged.

President Lincoln telegraphs Mrs. Lincoln in New York: “Tad arrived safely, and all well.”

At night, presidential aide John Hay accompanied President Lincoln to Ford’s Theater for “a Sacred Concert of profane music at Ford’s…..The Tycoon & I occupied private box & (both of us) carried on a hefty flirtation with the Monk Girls in the flies.”

About this time, according to John Waugh, “Soon after Lincoln was nominated in June the two Pennsylvanian politicians, Thaddeus Stevens and Simon Cameron came calling. Stevens, blunt speaking always, told the president that the certainty of his reelection would ride on the vote in Pennsylvania in the state elections in October. He told the president that if he was to work there for him with a good will, Lincoln must promise to reorganize his cabinet and purge the hated Montgomery Blair.

Lincoln rose to his full six feet four inches and spoke emphatically, with gestures to match. ‘Mr. Stevens,’ he told his cantankerous and demanding visitor, ‘I am sorry to be compelled to deny your request to make such a promise. If I were even myself inclined to make it, I have no right to do so. What right have I to remove Mr. Blair, and not make a similar promise to any other gentleman of influence to remove any other member of my cabinet whom he does not happen to like?’

Has it come to this, Lincoln demanded, ‘that the voters of this country are asked to elect a man to be President — to be the Executive — to administer the government, and yet that this man is to have no will or discretion of his own? Am I to be the mere puppet of power? To have my constitutional advisers selected beforehand, to be told I must do this or leave that undone? It would be degrading to my manhood to consent to any such bargain— I was about to say it is equally degrading to your manhood to ask it.”

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

President Lincoln Awaits Word on Second Battle of Petersburg

June 18, 1864

After a White House conference, President Lincoln writes Secretary. of War Edwin M. Stanton: “Hon. L. Anderson and Judge Williams of Ky. are here urging, first, that assessments, for some time suspended in West Ky, be again put in operation; and secondly, that Gen. E. A. Paine be assigned to command them. Do both these things for them unless you know some reason to the contrary. I personally know Gen. Paine to be a good true man, having a West-Point education; but I do not know much as to his Military ability.”

President Lincoln writes Secretary of Edwin M. Stanton: “Hon. L. Anderson and Judge Williams of Ky. are here urging, first, that assessments, for some time suspended in West Ky, be again put in operation; and secondly, that Gen. E. A. Paine be assigned to command them. Do both these things for them unless you know some reason to the contrary. I personally know Gen. Paine to be a good true man, having a West-Point education; but I do not know much as to his Military ability.”

President Lincoln writes Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles: “It seems that my old friend C. B. Denio, is in some trouble, pecuniarily, in consequence of not being allowed expences, and perhaps pay, on coming here. I feel confident he has not meant wrong, and I shall be glad for you to do the best for him you can, consistently with law & the good of the service.”

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary that he “worked in my office till night; then went and saw the President about fees in Phillips cases, in Illinois, about Adml Wilke’s case, and about appointment of Eben Moore to Montano.”

Philadelphia merchant George H. Stuart, president of the U. S. Christian Commission, writes to thank President Lincoln for his efforts on behalf of the commission: “I take the liberty of enclosing to you a slip, containing the result of a two week’s canvass in the state of Illinois by two agents — or rather representatives of the Christian Commission. You see how successful they have been. You may remember Rev Mr. McCabe, or Chaplain McCabe as he is more commonly called; He sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” — — Mrs. Julia Ward Howe’s — at the Christian Commission meeting in Washington in February — and a second time at your own request. I was sorry that I was not able to call on you while you were in Philadelphia — but I may thank you nevertheless for the words which you were kind enough to say of the Christian Commission, in your address at the Fair.3 We have not had time for the weeks past, since Grant has been marching on Richmond, for anything but the most earnest and laborious and continued exertions to help you and him and the army as much as we could. We are doing that still. The people have appreciated our labors: — and, without self-praise, under God’s help, we have been able to accomplish much. So your words were very encouraging. I am glad to say that we have two hundred delegates, all volunteers and unpaid — to-day, at various points in the Army of the Potomac — under very efficient organization and leadership. These men are working very hard for the bodies and souls of our noble soldiers — carrying to them comforts from the North in very large quantities. They are from all parts of our country, they are all loyal men, actuated with the one great impulse — to help and bless the soldiers of the union.”

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

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  

President Travels to Philadelphia for Sanitary Fair Speech

June 16, 1864

President Lincoln departs Washington by special train for Philadelphia early in the morning. After stops in Baltimore and Wilmington, President Lincoln arrives in Philadelphia in late morning.   In the late afternoon, he visits the Great Central [Sanitary Commission] Fair. The New York World, a strongly anti-Democratic newspaper, reported:

“At a quarter past four Mr. Lincoln entered a barouch and four and was conveyed to the fair, escorted by various military organizations, and flanked by the inevitable rag, tag and bobtail. At five o’clock the President arrived at the entrance on eighteenth Street, and after considerable squeezing was passed into the building, the police being scarcely able to keep off the crowd…

“Mr. Lincoln, with great difficulty, reached the reception room of the executive committee. Here he gave wings to one of those terse, clear-cut and original expressions which so mark the man. ‘I’d like,’ said he, ‘I’d like a little cold water.’ Memorable words!…

“Shortly after this solemn passage in a great man’s life, Mrs. Lincoln was announced. She speedily passed into the ladies’ room. The President’s wife looks as robust as ever. Her maternal graces bloom so brilliantly as when she left her rural home, wondering what ‘they say of us,’ and when she left her rural home, wondering what ‘they say of us,’ and floated toward Washington. Time does not attenuate her substantial form, and evidently sits lightly on her plac’d brow. Her walk is not less queenly than when she played in the prairie state the charming role of the ‘pretty maid milking her cow;’ and while possibly greater amplitutde of shirt is necessary than of yore, yet she still shows traces of her youthful ensemble.

“The President spent about an hour in making the tour of the fair, and finally brought up at the ‘collection room,’ where a well-prepared table was arranged. Your reporter was no near enough to catch the President’s first words upon entering the banquet hall, but is informed that he whispered to a companion on the left flank, ‘this is a right smart get-out.’”

At the Great Central Sanitary Fair, President Lincoln says: “I suppose that this toast was intended to open the way for me to say something. [Laughter.] War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible. It was deranged business, totally in many localities, and partially in all localities. It has destroyed property, and ruined homes; it has produced a national debt and taxation unprecedented, at least in this country. It has carried mourning to almost every home, until it can almost be said that the ‘heavens are hung in black.’ Yet it continues, and several relieving coincidents [coincidences] have accompanied it from the very beginning, which have not been known, as I understood [understand], or have any knowledge of, in any former wars in the history of the world. The Sanitary Commission, with all its benevolent labors, the Christian Commission, with all its Christian and benevolent labors, and the various places, arrangements, so to speak, and institutions, have contributed to the comfort and relief of the soldier. You have two of these places in this city–the Cooper-Shop and Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloons. [Great applause and cheers.] And lastly, these fairs, which, I believe, began only in last August, if I mistake not, in Chicago, then at Boston, at Cincinnati, Brooklyn, New York, at Baltimore, and those at present held at St. Louis, Pittsburg, and Philadelphia. The motive and object that lie at the bottom of all these are most worthy; for, say what you will, after all the most is due to the soldier, who takes his life in his hands and goes to fight the battles of his country. [Cheers.] In what is contributed to his comfort when he passes to and fro [from city to city], and in what is contributed to him when is sick and wounded, in whatever shape it comes, whether from the fair and tender hand of woman, or from any other source, is much, very much; but, I think there is still that which has as much value to him [in the continual reminders he sees in the newspapers, that while he is absent he is yet remembered by the loved ones at home.]–he is not forgotten. [Cheers.] Anotherview of these various institutions is worthy of consideration, I think; they are voluntary contributions, given freely, zealously, and earnestly, on top of all the disturbances of business, [of all the disorders,] the taxation and burdens that the war has imposed upon us, giving proof that the national resources are not at all exhausted, [cheers;] that the national spirit of patriotism is even [firmer and stronger than at the commencement of the rebellion [war].

It is a pertinent question often asked in the mind privately, and from one to the other, when is the war to end? Surely I feel as deep [great] an interest in this question as any other can, but I do not wish to name a day, or month, or a year when it is to end. I do not wish to run any risk of seeing the time come, without our being ready for the end, and for fear of disappointment, because the time had come and not the end. [We accepted this war; we did not begin it.] We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it never will until that time. [Great cheering.] Speaking of the present campaign, General Grant is reported to have said, I am going through on this line if it takes all summer. [Cheers.] This war has taken three years; it was begun or accepted upon the line of restoring the national authority over the whole national domain, and for the American people, as far as my knowledge enables me to speak, I say we are going through on this line if it take three years more. [Cheers.] My friends, I did not known but that I might be called upon to say a few words before I got away from here, but I did not know it was coming just here. [Laughter.] I have never been in the habit of making predictions in regard to the war, but I am almost tempted to make one. [Do it–do it!]–if I were to hazard it, it is this: That Grant is this evening, with General Meade and General Hancock, of Pennsylvania, and the brave officers and soldiers with him, in a position from whence he will never be dislodged until Richmond is take [loud cheering], and I have but one single proposition to put now, and, perhaps, I can best put it in form of an interrogative [interragotry]. If I shall discover that General Grant and the noble officers and men under him can be greatly facilitated in their work by a sudden pouring forward [forth] of men  and assistance, will give them to me? [Cries of ‘yes.’] Then, I say, stand ready, for I am watching for the chance. [Laughter and cheers.] I thank you, gentlemen.

Later at the Continental Hotel, President Lincoln addressed a serenade outside: “I attended the Fair at Philadelphia to-day in the hope that possibly it might aid something in swelling the contributions for the benefit of the soldiers in the field, who are bearing the harder part of this great national struggle in which we are engaged. [Applause.] I thought I might do this without impropriety. It did not even occur to me that a kind demonstration like this would be made to me. [A voice—“You are worthy of it,” and cheers.] I do not really think it is proper in my position for me to make a political speech; and having said at the Fair what I thought was proper for me to say there in reference to that subject, and being more of a politician than anything else, and having exhausted that branch of the subject at the fair, and not being prepared to speak on the other, I am without anything to say. I have really appeared before you now more for the purpose of seeing you [a voice: “Three cheers for Honest Old Abe!”] and allowing you to see me a little while, [laughter] and, to show to you that I am not wanting in due consideration and respect for you, when you make this kind demonstration in my honor. At the same time I must beg of you to excuse me from saying anything further.

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

Emancipation Amendment Fails in House of Representatives

June 15, 1864

While in Virginia the Second Battle of Petersburg begins, the House of Representatives votes on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, already passed by the Senate. The New York Times reported that Congressman “Fernando Wood of New York said that this was no time for a change of the organic law. We were in the midst of civil war. The din of the conflict and the groans of the dying and wounded are sad evidences of the destruction around us. The entire people are involved directly or indirectly in the dreadful conflict. There was too much excitement in the public mind to admit of calm and cautious investigation. If such a change could be made in the Constitution, this was not the time for it. The effect of such an amendment would produce a revulsion widespread and radical in character and add to the existing sectional hostility, and if possible, make the conflict more intense.”

“Among his reasons for opposing the resolution, he said it proposed to make social institutions subject to the Government, and this was an antagonism to the principles which underlie our republican system. It was unjust. It was the breach of good faith, and not reconcilable even with expediency. It struck at property, and involved the extermination of the whites of the Southern States and the forfeiture of their property, and lands to be given to the black race, who may drive the former out of existence.”

The House vote was 93 in favor, 65 opposed, and 23 not voting.   The result fell short of the two-thirds necessary for passage. Historian Roy P. Basler wrote in A Touchstone for Greatness regarding the proposed amendment to abolish slavery: “Personal rivalry with historical overtones developed when Senator Trumbull of Illinois, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, reported a substitute Joint Resolution differing from both Henderson’s and Sumner’s versions and following the language of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787: ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.’ Sumner tried to reinsert his ‘equal before the law’ phrase, but Trumbull’s resolution was adopted by the Senate without change. In the House, however, it failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds vote, when only four Democrats joined the unanimous eight-seven Republicans voting for it on June 15, 1864.

“Lincoln expected its defeat and saw that the proposal for complete abolition of slavery by amendment to the Constitution would be the key issue of his campaign for reelection. Even while the House was debating the resolution he called the chairman of the National Republican Committee, Senator Edwin D. Morgan of New York, to the White House, and asked him to make the keynote of his speech opening the convention a plea for the amendment, and to place the amendment as a plank in the Republican platform. Lincoln’s wishes were followed, and the delegates responded with great enthusiasm.”

Congress passes legislation authorizes equal pay for black troops retroactively to January 1, 1864

President Lincoln writes to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase: “The Governor of Iowa and some of the M.C.’s have a little embarrassment about the removal of a Mr. Atkinson, in your department, and the appointment to the place of a Mr. Sill, [2] I think. They claim a promise, which I know I never made, except upon the condition that you desired the removal of Atkinson. Please help me a little. If you will write me a note that you do not wish Atkinson removed, that will end the matter. On the contrary, if you do wish him removed, or even are indifferent about it, say so to me, accompanying your note with a nomination for Sill.”

“Have just read your despatch of 1 P.M. yesterday. I begin to see it. You will succeed. God bless you all,” President Lincoln wires General Ulysses S. Grant.   The general-in-chief had written the president: “Our forces will commence crossing the James to-day. The enemy show no signs yet of having brought troops to the south side of Richmond. I will have Petersburg secured, if possible, before they get there in much force. Our movement from Cold Harbor to the James River has been made with great celerity and so far without loss or accident.”

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

Army of the Potomac Approach Richmond-Petersburg Area

June 14, 1864

The Army of the Potomac, repeatedly battered by the Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee, begins to close in on Richmond and Petersburg, but President Lincoln warns against over-optimism. Journalist Noah Brooks writes: “The President said the other day: ‘I wish when you write and speak to people you would do all you can to correct the impression that the war in Virginia will end right off victoriously. To me the most trying thing in all of this war is that the people are too sanguine; they expect too much at once. I declare to you sir, that we are to-day further ahead than I thought one year and a half ago we should be, and yet there are plenty of people who believe that the war is about to be substantially closed. As God is my judge I shall be satisfied if we are over with the fight in Virginia within a year. I hope we shall be ‘happily disappointed,’ as the saying is, but I am afraid not — I am afraid not.’”

President Lincoln is sent formal written notification of his presidential nomination by former Ohio Governor William Dennison: “The National Union Convention which assembled in Baltimore on the 7″ of June 1864 has instructed us to inform you that you were nominated with enthusiastic unanimity for the Presidency of the United States for four years from the fourth of March next.

The resolutions of the Convention which we have already had the honor of placing in your hands,1 are a full and clear statement of the principles which inspired its action, and which, as we believe, the great body of Union men in the Country heartily approve. Whether those resolutions express the national gratitude to our soldiers and sailors; or the national scorn of compromise with rebels and consequent dishonor; or the patriotic duty of union and success: whether they approve the proclamation of emancipation, the constitutional amendment, the employment of former slaves as Union soldiers, or the solemn obligation of the Government promptly to redress the wrongs of every soldier of the Union of whatever color or race; whether they declare the inviolability of the pledged faith of the nation, or offer the national hospitality to the oppressed of every land, or urge the union by railroad of the Atlantic & Pacific oceans; whether they recommend public economy & vigorous taxation, or assert the fixed popular opposition to the establishment by armed force of foreign monarchies in our the immediate neighborhood of the United States, or declare that those only are worthy of official trust who approve unreservedly the views & policy indicated in the resolutions, — they were equally hailed with the heartiness of profound conviction.

Believing with you, Sir, that this is the people’s war for the maintenance of a government which you have justly described as “of the people, by the people, for the people”, we are very sure that you will be glad to know not only from the resolutions themselves, but from the singular harmony & enthusiasm with which they were adopted, how warm is the popular welcome of every measure in the prosecution of the war which is as vigorous, unmistakeable & unfaltering as the national purpose itself. No right, for instance, is so precious and sacred to the American heart as that of personal liberty. Its violation is regarded with just, instant & universal jealousy. Yet in this hour of peril every faithful citizen concedes that, for the sake of national existence and the common welfare, individual liberty may, as the Constitution provides in case of rebellion, be sometimes summarily constrained, asking only with painful anxiety that, in every instance and to the least detail, that absolutely necessary power shall not be hastily or unwisely exercised.

We believe, Sir, that the honest will of the Union men of the country was never more truly represented than in this Convention. Their purpose we believe to be the overthrow of armed rebels in the field, and the security of permanent peace and Union by liberty and justice under the Constitution. That these results are to be achieved amid cruel perplexities, they are fully aware. That they are to be reached only by cordial unanimity of counsel, is undeniable. That good men may sometimes differ as to the means and the time, they know. That in the conduct of all human affairs the highest duty is to determine, in the angry conflict of passion, how much good may be practically accomplished, is their sincere persuasion. They have watched your official course, therefore, with unflagging attention; and amid the bitter taunts of eager friends and the fierce denunciation of enemies; now moving too fast for some, now too slowly for others, they have seen you throughout this tremendous conflict test patient, sagacious, faithful, just; leaning upon the heart of the great mass of the people, and satisfied to be moved by its mighty pulsations.

It is for this reason that long before the Convention met the popular instinct had plainly indicated you as its candidate, and the Convention, therefore, merely recorded the popular will. Your character & career prove your unswerving fidelity to the cardinal principles of American Liberty and of the American Constitution. In the name of that liberty and Constitution, Sir, we earnestly request your acceptance of this nomination; reverently commending our beloved Country, and you its chief magistrate, with all its brave sons who on sea and land are faithfully defending the good old American cause of equal rights, to the blessing of Almighty God.

Freeman Cleaves wrote in Meade of Gettysburg: “Without a doubt, the crossing of the James on June 14-16, 1864, was one of Grant’s most splendid achievements, and possibly for this reason the important end to be gained was subordinated to the means. Everyone was so occupied in the mass exodus from Lee’s front that the vital necessity of immediate capture of Petersburg was neglected. Error twice compounded played its part, as did prevailing secrecy. But it was not expected that Petersburg, which lay about ten miles southwest of already occupied City Point near the junction of the James and the Appomattox, would present any great problem.

If anyone is to be blamed for lack of foresight and preparation, General Butler is the first to be named. It is true that he could not have known everything in Grant’s mind, but he continued to at as an independent commander, in effect neglecting orders. Inasmuch as Grant returned to the army on the fourteenth before Smith arrived at Bermuda Hundred, Smith received only Butler’s version of an order for another attack on Petersburg. Grant had asked that Smith start that same night, but instead arrangements were made for the next morning.   Grant had also asked Butler to supply Hannock, who also was to move toward Petersburg, with 6,000 rations, for ‘without this precaution the services of the corps cannot be had for an emergency tomorrow.’ The term ‘emergency’ is vague; yet all Butler had to do was to obey orders. However, he would not deplete his stores for an army he believed undeserving, not was he writing a passport to glory for any rival, including Baldy Smith, if he could possibly help it. Meade meanwhile was busy getting Hancock off and the bridge completed while keeping in constant touch with the other three corps. He never did learn that Petersburg was to be attacked, no did Hancock, who on that point was emphatic.”

General William Rosecrans writes to President Lincoln: “Major Hay has received such full details of the character of the conspiracy alluded to in my dispatches as will suffice to show you what important national interests are involved in the proper understanding and handling of the matter, and satisfy you that the whole should be laid immediately before you by an officer capable of giving such details as will enable you to adopt a policy the execution of which will give adequate security to the public interest.

I beg leave therefore to call your attention to a few points in connexion with the information he will give you.

1. The organization not only threatens great danger in case our military operations are unsuccessful or indecisive in their results but is now working great general mischief by spreading discontent among the people, circulating false reports injurious to the Government, creating doubt and discouragement, aiding spies suppliers of arms and other contraband and giving aid comfort and encouragement to the rebellion.

2. These conspirators are already to do anything in their power such as assisting guerillas and, whenever opportunity offers, joining them in destroying R.R. bridges, capturing our outposts threatening our depots and aiding in the work of plunder and murder and devastation. The present raid in Kentucky was invited and as you will observe unquestionably received aid from this organization bridges having been destroyed and other mischief done at distance of thirty or forty miles form the rebel raiders….

AL invested virtually all of his presidential salary in governmental bonds.

“By this time, Lincoln’s purchases of government securities had become confusing to him. With problems of the war occupying his every waking minute, he had not time for personal affairs. Therefore he asked Salmon P. Chase to have his purchases consolidated into one type of government bonds. Chase promised to have this done. Lincoln made a list of his holdings, pocketed everything at hand, walked over to the Treasury Department and emptied the contents of his pockets on Chase’s desk.

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

Father Appeals to President Lincoln for Son’s Parole

June 13, 1864

John M. Powell writes an impassioned if ill-spelled letter to President Lincoln that results in his son’s release: “You requested me to give you in writing what I desired you to do, in relation to my poor unfortunate son now in Alton Prison. At my ernest solicitation, and upon the statement of the surgeon that he could not be saved if left in the Hospital. Genl. Rosecrans Paroled him, so that his mother could take him to the Hotel and administer to his comforts and perhaps save his life. He is still as low as a man can be with — Typho-Malarial fever.

No man could have regretted more than I did that my son was seduced into the rebel army. He was at Oxford University Mississippi — and was surrounded by all the malign influences which have been so fatal to the young men of the South. I have tried to convince him that his oath to support the so called confederacy is of no binding effect; but I have been wholy unable to overcome his scruples of conscience. He will never return to the Confederate Army; though he considers it a point of honour not to forsware himself by takeing the oath required of him here. I would be glad to convince him of his error; but I would not persuade him to do any thing which would humiliate him in his own estimation — indeed I do not believe the boy can be induced to take the oath, and he will be compelled to go back to Prison unless you will interfere to Parol him. It is my purpose to send him to Princton College, where he himself desires to go in order to finish or complete his education.

What I now ask of you, is that you will order this young mans Parol to be taken with the condition that he will not return to the so called Confederacy. I am myself ready to give any bond for his good behavior which may be required. I have no doubt that after mature reflection and with the lapse of sufficient time, his judgment will be so enlightened that he will see his position in very different light from that in which he now views it.

I appeal to you, Mr President, as a father who can readily under stand the feelings, by which I am now prompted. I have been faithful to the Union, and I am truly anxious that my Son shall become satisfied of his error — a result which I have no doubt, mild treatment will effect. I would not do violence to his concience — and I beg you to spear him the terrors of a military prison in his present feeble condition.

I have myself been quite sick since I saw you — that is the reason why I have not complied with your suggestion by writing sooner.

President Lincoln writes Thomas Webster regarding invitation to address Great Central Fair at Philadelphia: “Will try to leave here Wednesday afternoon, say at 4 P.M. remain till Thursday afternoon, and then return. This subject to events.

President Lincoln writes to Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas: “Complaint is made to me that in the vicinity of Henderson [Kentucky], our military are seizing negroes and carrying them off without their own consent, and according to no rules whatever, except those of absolute violence. I wish you would look into this & inform me, and see that the making soldiers of negroes is done according to the rules you are acting upon, so that unnecessary provocation and irratation be avoided.” Thomas responds: “Telegram of this date recd.1 I have no doubt there has been ground for complaint in the vicinity of Henderson, Ky, but I will take immediate measures to prevent a recurrence of any acts of violence on the person of officers engaged in recruiting colored troops in Ky.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “On Monday, the 13th. The Prest. Directed me to give tot he Secy. of War, Genl Wallace[‘]s two orders no. 30 and 33, and telling me that the Secy. would issue an order revoking them, on the ground (not touching the legal merits of the question) that they relate to a subject about which the Genl. Ought not to give any order, without consulting the head of the Dept.

“I called on the Secy. and delivered the orders. He was evidently gruff and out of temper – talked harshly of Senator Johnson of Md., and of rebels and sympathize[r]s – and was barely civil to me – I told him that it was an easy thing to denoun[c]e men as rebels and disloyalists, and sometimes done to screen usurpation and oppression &c. That if all the persons and property aimed at by Genl. W.[allace] were tainted with rebellion that would give the Genl. No power of confiscation.

“He evidently hates to give the order, and if done at all, it will be very ungracefully.

Note. Friday, June 17, I do not know that the order is yet given.

Afterwards, the P[r]es[iden]t. Told me that the Secy. of War had written a letter to Genl. W[allace] (which he saw and was satisfied with) to stay the order; and that he had seen Genl W’s telegram admitting the re[eip]t of it., the order has not been enforced.

Presidential aide John Nicolay leaves White House for a western vacation to recover from ill health.

President Lincoln writes his son Robert: “My dear Son Washington, June 14, 1864.

Of course I will try to give the sittings for the `Crayon.’”

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

President Lincoln Receives Disjointed Appeal for Mercy and Help

June 12, 1864

Widow Ann Bowden writes President Lincoln a disjointed and imaginatively spelled plea for help: “Most worthey presedent please Excuase Me for takeing this Liberty But I Cannot Express my Grate gratitude for your kindness in granting Me the order for My Son john H Bowden’s of Chicago discharge what Goverment Bounty he has receved I have that Unbroken to refuned But the 1 hundred Dollers County Bounty I have Not Got It as I had to Use it Last winter to Maintain My Sick Boy and a dependant Sister I have Bin a widow Eleven years My Oldest Son a Loosing his health on Cheat Mountain Makes it Vary Bad for Us our kind president If you Can releave Me So that I Can take My Boy home with me I feel that God will reward you and I No he will Bless all your Undertakings please Answare.”

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

President Lincoln Thanks Ohio Soldiers

June 11, 1864

President Lincoln addressed soldiers of One Hundred Thirtieth Ohio Regiment: “Soldiers, I understand you have just come from Ohio—come to help us in this the nation’s day of trials, and also of its hopes. I thank you for your promptness in responding to the call for troops. Your services were never needed more than now. I know not where you are going. You may stay here and take the places of others who will be sent to the front; or you may go there yourselves.” He added: “Wherever you go I know you will do your best. Again I thank you. Good-by.” The New York Tribune reported: “The 130th Ohio, 100-day troops, having in its ranks lawyers, clergymen, some of the best men in the State—many of them taxed upon a hundred thousand dollars and upward, voted yesterday unanimously to go to the front and fight, and then marched to the White House to see and hear Mr. Lincoln.”

President Lincoln meets with Attorney General Edward Bates, who later writes in his diary: “ I laid before the Prest my correspondence with Genl. Wallace (com[mandin]g. The Middle Dept. relating to his confiscation orders, no 30 and 33 – I told the Prest that the orders were not only without law, but flatly against law and against his orders; and that the Genl’s letter of justification was wor[s]e than the orders, in that it avowed the illegal act, knowingly done, and defended it, upon grounds the most absurd.”

“I told him that the General was putting weapons in the hands of the enemies of the adm[inistratio]n., by assuming arbitrary and illegal powers, without a pretence of military necessity – That, regretting any conflict of jurisdiction, I must and would protect my office and myself, and, to that end, if Genl Wallace’s proceeding be not stopped, I wd. Leave of record, in the office, my solemn protest against the military usurpation.

New York businessman James R. Gilmore, a persistent advocate for a negotiated peace, writes President Lincoln: “Since I met you, I have been lecturing for the Soldier’s Aid Societies, in most of the large towns in New Hampshire, and Mass. and have seen, and talked unto, “the people”. They all say: “We like Mr Lincoln, but do not like his Cabinet. He means well, but is not “up” with public sentiment. Fremont is.”– Fremont’s name is a tower of strength with the Radicals. I am sorry for it, but it is so. A change in your Cabinet, just now, would be a “tub thrown to the whale.” It would conciliate the Radicals, and “squelch” Fremont.

Understand me, I do not say this to advise you, I only wish you may know how the New-England people feel. I think the salvation of the country depends on your reëlection, and I would do all I can to ensure it. The radical element is an important one, for nearly every New-England and Western Republican is now a Radical.

I have no authority to speak for the Tribune, but I know its managers, on this, think as I do — that it is important to conciliate the loyal Radicals.

The kindness and courtesy you have shown me embolden me to say this, but I trust you will pardon me, if I have spoken too freely.

I have written Col Jacquess — one letter to Chattanooga, and one to care of Generals Rosecrans and Thomas. As yet, I have no answer, but I expect one on my return to Boston — in a few days

Published in: on June 11, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment