President Lincoln Concerned with Border States

October 10, 1864

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes President Lincoln from Missouri where he had gone to assure the alignment of feuding Republican factions: “I reached here safely on Saturday last at about noon. Since then I have seen and talked with a number of gentlemen, but up to this time rather with a view of getting at the precise state of feeling they entertain, than in the way of suggestion to any of them. Things are in a pretty bad tangle, but I think they are gravitating towards an understanding – temporary at least if not permanent – which will unite the vote of all the union men on the electoral and State ticket. But I shall look farther, and talk more, tomorrow, and will report progress as soon as any is made.” John Hay writes Nicolay: “Pennsylvania fellows are very confident.”

President Lincoln writes Baltimore Collector of Customs Henry W Hoffman: “A convention of Maryland has framed a new constitution for the State; a public meeting is called for this evening, at Baltimore, to aid in securing its ratification by the people; and you ask a word from me, for the occasion. I presume the only feature of the instrument, about which there is serious controversy, is that which provides for the extinction of slavery. It needs not to be a secret, and I presume it is no secret, that I wish success to this provision. I desire it on every consideration. I wish all men to be free. I wish the material prosperity of the already free which I feel sure the extinction of slavery would bring. I wish to see, in process of disappearing, that only thing which ever could bring this nation to civil war. I attempt no argument. Argument upon the question is already exhausted by the abler, better informed, and more immediately interests sons of Maryland herself. In only add that I shall be gratified exceedingly if the good people of the State shall, by their votes, ratify the new constitution.”

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “Advised with the President in regard to a proceeding of the late Colonel Harris, who offered a bounty, or directed the recruiting officer to promise a bounty, of $100 to each marine who should enlist. It came to my knowledge in July, 1863, and I prohibited it, because it would create dissatisfaction with the sailors. The legal point I did not examine, but I was opposed to it as impolitic and inexpedient. In reply to my inquiries as to when he commenced giving this bounty, he said in June, and I supposed it was the preceding June and therefore covered but one month, the bounty to be paid after two years service. But I now learn it commenced in June, 1862, and consequently covers thirteen, instead of one month, and that there are over eleven hundred so enlisted. I decided they must be discharged or paid the bounty, and as there was a question as to the legality of the bounty, I thought it best, so long as I supposed there was only one month’s enlistment, todischarge, but when I ascertained it was for more than a year and embraced over eleven hundred, I thought best to reexamine the whole subject with the President. He concurs with me and decides it is best to pay the bounty.”

From New York, Republican boss Thurlow Weed writes President Lincoln: “I am so anxious about the Navy Vote that I must annoy you a moment.

Mr [Simeon] Draper wrote Geo. Harrington for a steamer (Revenue Cutter) to go to the Blockading Squadron’s, but Harrington did not understand his Letter. This morning Telegraphs Harrington, and will, I trust, get a favorable answer.

Meantime I am anxious about the vote of the Sailors on the Mississippi, and have written to Frederick Seward advising him to obtain a Government Steamer for our Agents to go from Cairo down the River to the different Gun Boats.

If these two objects are effected we shall save many thousand Votes.

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