President Lincoln Extends Courtesy to Missouri Petitioner

October 8, 1864

A young Missouri woman goes to the White House to plead the case of Daniel Hayden, imprisoned in Illinois.   She recalled: “”I walked briskly to the White House the next morning and stood at the head of the stairs, waiting for my watch to say the moment, not in the least guessing how I was to get permission to enter. Standing at the end of the corridor nearest the door I had passed through the day before, I heard some one say: ‘This way, Mrs. Byers.’ Looking up I saw, to my great astonishment, at the farther end of the corridor, the President motioning for me to come. I walked up to where he stood as quickly as possible. He grasped my hand warmly,

led me in and introduced me to William H. Seward and Mr. [John] Nicolay. He sat down by his desk, reached out for the petition, wrote across the back, ‘Release this man on order No. — . A. Lincoln.’ As he handed it straight back to me he remarked with looks full of inexpressible sympathy and goodness: ‘Mrs. Byers, that will get your man out. And tell his poor old mother I wish to heaven it was in my power to give her back her eyesight so she might see her son when he gets home to her.’

Mrs. Byers-Jennings recalled: “That afternoon we went together from Willard’s hotel to dine with President Lincoln, and of all informal affairs I have ever attended, it certainly took the lead. I was seated at the right of the President, Col. Turner on his left: Mrs. Lincoln, the two boys and Col. Hancock occupied the rest of the table. When a dish of anything was brought, he reached out for it, handled the spoon like an ordinary farmer, saying to all in his reach: ‘Will you have some of this?’ dishing it into our plates liberally, and so it was throughout the whole dinner, as he said, truly informal. Mrs. Lincoln was very sweet and gracious.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes colleague John G. Nicolay: “Nothing as yet ripples the surface. Everybody is anxious about next Tuesday’s work” – the elections in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. “Raymond went home the other day rather discouraged about money matters.”

President Lincoln goes to the funeral of the only son of Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs.   Hay calls Lieutenant John R. Meig.“a very brilliant young engineer” who had been killed on October 3 under circumstances that Union officials considered murder.

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

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