Lincoln Holds First State Dinner

State Dining Room

Thursday, March 28, 1861

As the Fort Sumter situation worsens, the Lincolns prepare for their first state dinner at the White House. Mary Todd Lincoln writes: “We have given our last general levee until next winter, our cabinet dinner comes off this evening, a party of 28 will dine with us. Our friends have all left, except Mrs Grimsley & Mr and Mrs Kellogg of Cincinnati. The latter leave for home, tomorrow. Mrs. G will remain a week or two longer. This is certainly a very charming spot & I have formed many delightful acquaintances. Every evening our blue room is filled with the elite of the land, last eve, we have about 40 to call in, to see us ladies from Vice P. Breckinridge down.”

New American ambassador to Britain Charles Frances Adams visits Secretary of State William H. Seward who tells him that in the Lincoln government there is: “No system, no relative ideas, no conception of his situation – much absorption in the details of office dispensation, but little application to great ideas. The Cabinet without unity, and without confidence in the head or each other.”

After the state dinner, President Lincoln calls a special meeting of the cabinet at which he reads a letter from General Winfield Scott calling for abandoning Forts Pickens and Sumter. A Scott aide writes: “Before dinner the General received from President Lincoln a note, asking him to come at once to the executive mansion. On setting out, the General whispered to me, that Mr. Lamon had informed him (Mr. Lamon had been down to Charleston with a letter from General Scott, with the sanction of Mr. Lincoln) that Governor Pickens wished to come back into the Union. The General also remarked that he supposed Mr. Lincoln wished to converse with him about Forts Sumter and Pickens, and he seemed to expect the President would be willing to give up both.”

The Scott memo read: “It is doubtful, according to recent information from the South, whether the voluntary evacuation of Fort Sumter alone would have a decisive effect upon the States now wavering between adherence to the Union and secession. It is known, indeed, that it would be charged to necessity, and the holding of Fort Pickens would be adduced in support of that view. Our Southern friends, however, are clear that the evacuation of both the forts would instantly soothe and give confidence to the eight remaining slave-holding States, and render their cordial adherence to this Union perpetual.” At the Cabinet meeting, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair is infuriated by Scott’s suggestion and states: “‘Mr. President, you can now see that General Scott, in advising the surrender of Fort Sumter, is playing the part of a politician, not a general.”

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Illness Hits the White House

Lincoln Family, 1861

Wednesday, March 20, 1861

Willie and Thomas “Tad” Lincoln are ill. Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes: “Excepting the fact that the two little boys [Willie and Tad Lincoln] have the measles, every body about the White House is in good health, notwithstanding the fact that some of us have work and annoyance enough to make almost anybody sick. There is consolation in the fact however that this rush cannot last many weeks longer and that then we will enjoy our leisure all the better…”

Things continue to be unwell between Mary Todd Lincoln and Julia Jayne Trumbull, the wife of Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull. Their friendship dissolved in 1855 when Trumbull defeated Lincoln for a Senate seat. Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, Mary’s cousin, writes from the White House: To-morrow night Mary has another reception, the last of the season. I presume it will be pleasant as there will not be so much of a crowd. The children are very much better and I think will soon be quite well. I have not seen Mrs. Trumbull — she sent me word she expected me to call, as that is etiquette, but I concluded in the present state of affairs, that as Mrs. Crittenden, McLean, Foster & various other senators wives had called specially to see me that Mrs. Trumbull might waive ceremony also, if she wished to see me. Trumbull is exceedingly unpopular here and particularly so with the conservative portion of the Republican party.”

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Lincoln Seeks Job for Black White House Servant

Saturday, March 16, 1861

President Lincoln looks for a job for William Johnson, an African-American who has accompanied Lincoln from Springfield to act as a valet. White House servants object to his color so Lincoln seeks other employment. He writes Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles: “The bearer (William) is a servant who has been with me for some time & in whom I have confidence as to his integrity and faithfulness. He wishes to enter your service. The difference of color between him & the other servants is the cause of our seperation. If you can give him employment you will confer a favour on Yours truly.”

Lincoln eventually finds employment for Johnson at the Department of the Treasury next door to the White House but Johnson continues to act as a valet and barber to the President. He will accompany Lincoln to Gettysburg in November 1863. Like Lincoln, he will fall ill with variloid. Unlike the President, Johnson will die. Lincoln will pay for Johnson’s funeral and handle his estate in January 1864.

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Lincoln Solicits Cabinet Opinions on Fort Sumter

Friday, March 15, 1861

President Lincoln writes to his Cabinet: “Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort-Sumpter, under all the circumstances, is it wise to attempt it? Please give me your opinion, in writing, on this question.”

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  

General Scott Sends Memo to President Lincoln

General Winfield Scott

Sunday, March 10, 1861

Meeting at Montgomery, Alabama, the new Confederate Congress adopts constitution.

President and Mrs. Lincoln worship at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which they will attend regularly during the Lincoln Presidency.

General Winfield Scott sends Abraham Lincoln a detailed memorandum on military options: “The President has done me the honor to address to me certain professional questions, to which he desires answers. I proceed with them categorically.
“1. To what point of time can Major Anderson maintain his position, at Fort Sumter, without fresh supplies or reinforcement?”
Answer. In respect to subsistence, for the garrison, he has hard bread, flour & rice for about 26 days, & salt meat (port) for about 48 days; but how long he could hold out against the whole means of attack which the South Carolinians have in, & about the city of Charleston & its Harbour, is a question that cannot be answered with absolute accuracy. Reckoning the [batteries] troops at 3,500 (now somewhat disciplined) the batteries at 4 powerfull land, & at least one floating — all mounting guns & mortars of large calibre, & of the best patterns; — & supposing those means to be skillfully & vigorously employed — Fort Sumter with its less than 100 men — including common laborers & musicians — ought to be taken by a single assault, & easily, if harassed perseveringly for several previous days & night by threats & false attacks, with the ability, from the force of overwhelming numbers, of converting one out of every three or four of those, into a real attack.
“2. Can you with all the means now in your control, supply or reinforce Fort Sumter within that time?’
“Answer. No: Not within many months. See answer to No. 3.
“3. If not, what amount of means, & of what description, in addition to that already at your control, would enable you to supply & reinforce that fortress within the time?’
“Answer: A fleet of war vessels & transports, 5,000 additional regular troops & 20,000 volunteers, in order to take all the batteries in the Harbor of Charleston (including Ft. Moultrie) after the capture of all the batteries in the approach or outer Bay. And to raise, organize & discipline such an army, would require new acts of Congress & from six to eight months.”

Secretary of State William H. Seward writes President Lincoln regarding diplomatic positions: “I received last night what seemed to be authoritative as an announcement that Mr Fessenden withdraws his claim upon a chief or any mission. This is a relief.
“I like Clay for Spain — And am prepared to dispose of the question at once.
“I like equally Corwin to Mexico — and am also ready —
“As to Fremont and France — the prestige is good — But I think that is all. If as I have heard, he is to be engaged in raising money there for his estates, it would be a serious complication — Besides this he is by birth and education a South Carolinian and I am not certain of his being so very decided in the defence of the Union as a minister at Paris ought to be — I would rather send Dayton there — For England I am sure Mr Adams far above all others adapted to British Court & Society and infinitely more watchful capable, efficient, reliable every thing — New England is an important point. What better can we do for her. N.Jersey gives us little, and that grudgingly — I think Daytons appointment would be as much too large for her as any thing else we are likely to do for New England would be too small for her.
“After considering these things you will please decide. I can wait on you this morning on this subject if you wish, or I shall be ready to acquiesce at once in your decision without further conference.
“Please hold in reserve Secretaryships of these legations. They are almost as good as missions and hardly less important.”

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lincoln Cabinet Meeting Held on Fort Sumter

Saturday, March 9, 1861

Cabinet meeting on Fort Sumter at night as concern mounts over its fate. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles maintains that a relief exposition could be successful without first destroying the Charleston forts. General Winfield Scott disagrees.

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “I was astonished to be informed that Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor must be evacuated and that gen. Scott, Gen. Totten, and Major Anderson concur in opinion that, as the place has but 28 days provisions, it must be relieved, if at all, in that time; and that it will take a force of 20,000 men, at least, and a bloody battle, to relieve it!’

Lincoln Holds First White House Reception

Elizabeth Todd Grimsley

Friday, March 8, 1861

The Lincolns are overwhelmed in their first White House reception for what Attorney General Edward Bates calls “a motley crowd” that required President Lincoln to shake hands for two and a half hours. Lincoln aide John G. Nicolay writes: “For over two hours the crowd poured in as rapidly as the door would admit them, and many climbed in at the windows. It was withal more ‘ton’-ish than such things usually are. Of course in such a crowd crinoline suffered, and at least fifty men have been swearing worse than ‘our army in Flanders,’ ever since they home that evening, over the loss of new hats and valuable overcoats.”

“And what a crush and jam it was!,” recalled Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, Mrs. Lincoln’s cousin. “But the young private Secretaries Nicolay and Hay managed the introductions to the President and the receiving party wonderfully well. The hand shaking was a thing long to be remember by the President, and while it was gratifying, we must confess to a sigh of relief when we heard the marine Band strike up ‘Yankee Doodle’, the signal for retiring. The President took me on his arm and we made the circuit of the East room, a custom as old as the house itself, I believe, and a silly one, in that the wife of the President is relegated tot he escort of another gentleman.”
“We were amused at the many remarks we overheard — such as, ‘The President bears himself well, and does not seem the least embarrassed’. ‘How much alike the President and Mrs. Grimsley are!’ ‘Yes! Brother and sister. They must belong to a very tall family.’
“And so ended that memorable reception, the last in which north and south would mingle for many years.”

Charles Francis Adams, soon to be the U.S. ambassador to England, wrote: “Such a crush was, I imagine, never seen in the White House before, on a similar, or any other, occasion. After two vain attempts to get into the reception room, Dexter and I resolutely set ourselves in the main current, and were pushed and squeezed along. It was a motley crowd. There they were — the sovereigns; some in evening dress, others in morning suits; with gloves and without gloves; clean and dirty; all pressing in the same direction, and all behaving with perfect propriety. There was no ill temper; no vulgarity or noise; no rudeness; in spire of the crowd and discomfort, everything was respectful and decorous. The sight was one not pleasant to see, and even less pleasant to participate in; but still good of its kind. Here, as everywhere, the people governed themselves. At last, after the breath was nearly out of our bodies, Dexter and I came in sight of the President — the tall, rapidly bobbing head of the good ‘Abe,’ as he shook hands with his guests, and quickly passed them along. The vastly greater number he hurried by him; but, when any one he knew came along, he bent himself down to the necessary level, and seemed to whisper a few words in the ear, in pleasant, homely fashion; though not exactly in one becoming our President. I hurried by as quickly as I could, and retreated into the rear of the room, there to observe. I stayed about an hour and a half, meeting Mr. Sumner, Mr. and Mrs. S.A. Douglas and others, and subsequently, leaving by the south front, reached home with ‘tir’d eye-lids upon tir’d eyes.’”

President Lincoln Faces Twin Challenges: Secession & Patronage

Wednesday, March 6, 1861

President Lincoln was besieged on two fronts.

Lincoln aide John Hay wrote a newspaper article: “The ‘irrepressible conflict’ of office seekers has fairly set in, and the members of Congress are waylaid, dogged, importuned, buttonholed, coaxed and threatened persistently, systematical, and without mercy, by day and by night, There seems to be no way to abate the nuisance, and they must bear the infliction with the best grace they can assume. It is astonishing how many gentlemen are now in Washington, from all parts of the country, who have served the nation or served states, elected Lincoln, or elected congressmen, or performed some signal political service, for which they claim, modestly of course, to be rewarded by the party. It is singular, too, while their merits loom up in their own estimation into magnificent proportions the offices which they claim dwindle into relative insignificance. The members of the cabinet have the charming prospect of being in a state of regular siege for months to come. Secretary [Caleb] Smith entered upon the duties of the Interior today. In five minutes the ante-room was filled with a motley crowd of applicants, each anxious to gain immediate audience and have his little matter attended to; but they were, most of them, doomed to disappointment, and could not even effect an entrance.”

Hay wrote: “If any fears existed that the President would be in any respect an instrument in other hands they are, I apprehend, pretty well dispersed. He does his own thinking and acting, and, while he will take counsel from his constitutional advisers, he will never shrink from the responsibility of decision upon all measures of government.”

Both the Union and Confederacy struggled to win the loyalty of Virginia. Frederick Seward, son of Secretary of State William H. Seward, wrote: “All the energies of the disunionists were put forth therefore to acquire Virginia. It was confidently believed, however, at the North, that the disunion leaders were in a minority, though a very active and persevering one. The disunionists themselves insisted that their policy meant peace, not war, for all the free States, even if united, could not hope to conquer all the slaveholding ones. While the debates in the Virginian convention thus dragged along, the leaders cast about for means to ‘fire the Southern heart,’ and so secure a ‘united South.’
“On his way home from St. John’s Church, the first Sunday after his arrival in Washington, Mr. Lincoln had said to my father: ‘Governor Seward, there is one part of my work that I shall have to leave largely to you. I shall have to depend upon you for taking care of these matters of foreign affairs, of which I know so little, and with which I reckon you are familiar.”
“President Lincoln now had set about his laborious duties in good faith, and the first shape in which they presented themselves to him was in the swarm of office-seekers that beleaguered the White House, filling all the halls, corridors, and offices from morning till night. The patient good humour and the democratic habits of the new President led him to give audience to everybody, at all hours. Even the members of his Cabinet, sometimes, had to force their way through the crowd, and get the private ear of the President in the corner of a roomful of visitors, before they could impart to him grave matters of state.”

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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President Lincoln is Inaugurated Amid Tight Security

Lincoln's First Inauguration

Monday, March 4, 1861

About noon, President-elect Lincoln travels to the unfinished U.S. Capitol by carriage with outgoing President James Buchanan. Army and police were on high alert for potential violence on the cold, windy day.

Journalist Ben Perley Poore wrote: “The preparations for the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln were of an unusual character. Many believed that an attempt would be made on that day by the Secessionists to obtain possession of the Government, and great precautions against this were taken. The ostensible director was General Scott, who had his headquarters at a restaurant near the War Department, and who rode about the city in a low coupe drawn by a powerful horse. But the real director of the military operations was Colonel Stone, of the regular army, who had been organizing the military of the District, and who had been organizing the military of the District, and who had a very respectable force at his command. He had a battalion of the united States Engineer Corps directly in the rear of the President’s carriage, and sharp-shooters belonging to a German company were posted on buildings all along the route, with orders to keep a vigilant watch as the President’s carriage approached, and to fire at any one who might aim a weapon at the President. There was also a large force of detectives stationed along the route and at the Capitol.
“The procession was a very creditable one, the United States troops and the District Militia making a fine show, with the Albany Burgess Corps, and a few organizations from a distance. Mr. Lincoln rode with President Buchanan, and, on arriving at the Capitol, entered the Senate Chamber leaning on the old gentleman’s arm. After Mr. Hamlin had taken his oath of office as Vice-President, and several new Senators had sworn in, a procession was formed, as usual, which repaired to the platform erected over the steps of the eastern portico of the Capitol. When Mr. Lincoln came out he was easily distinguished as his tall, gaunt figure rose above those around him.
“His personal friend, Senator [Edward D.] Baker, of Oregon, introduced him to the assemblage, and as he bowed acknowledgments of the somewhat faint cheers which greeted him the usual genial smile lit up his angular countenance. He was evidently somewhat perplexed, just then, to know what to do with his new silk hat and a large gold-headed cane. The cane he put under the table, but the hat appeared to be too good to place on the rough boards. Senator Douglas saw the embarrassment of his old friend, and, rising, took the shining hat from its bothered owner and held it during delivery of the inaugural address. Mr. Lincoln was listened to with great eagerness. He evidently desired to convince the multitude before him rather than to bewilder or dazzle them. It was evident that he honestly believed every word that he spoke, especially the concluding paragraphs, one of which I copy from the original

Indiana Congressman George W. Julian recalled: “The day was beautiful, and the procession to the Capitol quite imposing. Mr. Lincoln and ex-President Buchanan entered the Senate chamber arm in arm; and the latter was so withered and bowed with age that in contrast with the towering form of Mr. Lincoln he seemed little more than half a man. The crowd which greeted the President in front of the east portico of the Capitol was immense, and has never been equaled on any similar occasion with the single exception of General Garfield’s inauguration. Mr. Lincoln’s voice, though not very strong or full-toned, rang out over the acres of people before him with surprising distinctness, and was heard in the remotest parts of his audience. The tone of moderation, tenderness, and good-will, which marked his address, made an evident impression, and the most heartfelt plaudits were called forth by the closing passage..

Massachusetts Congressman Charles Francis Adams remembered: “Lincoln’s inauguration (Monday) came with a sudden change of weather. The sun shone brightly, but a strong wind carried on it clouds of that Washington dust, which, then much more than now — for the streets were not yet asphalted — was wont to render walking detestable on days of early march. I wrote two accounts of what took place; one in my diary, which, however, was rather short, as I also wrote for publication a long descriptive letter, printed a few days later in the Boston Transcript.. It was dated March 4th. From the Senate gallery I saw Lincoln walk in, army in arm with Buchanan, and the two seated themselves in front of the desk of the Vice-President. And, ‘in spite of the wry neck and dubious eye, the outgoing President was,’ to my mind, ‘undeniably the more presentable man of the two; his tall, large figure, and white head, looked well beside Mr. Lincoln’s lank, angular form and hirsute face; and the dress of the President-elect did not indicate that knowledge of the proprieties of the place which was desirable. Then followed the inaugural, delivered from ‘the miserable scaffold’ on the east front before ‘a vast sea, not exactly of upturned human faces, but of hats and shirt-bosoms of all descriptions.’ Of the inaugural, I did not hear one word; for I was standing on a projection of the unfinished Senate wing of the standing on a projection of the unfinished Senate wing of the Capitol, watching the scene, and was thus too far removed. But ‘Mr. Lincoln’s delivery struck me as good; for it was quiet, with but little gesture and small pretence of oratory; the audience did not strike me as very enthusiastic — not such as they tell us hailed Jackson when he stood on the same steps on the occasion of the first invasion of Washington by the hordes of the youthful West — but it was silent, attentive, appreciate, and wonderfully respectable and orderly. At length a louder and more prolonged cheer announced that the inaugural was delivered. The Chief Justice administered the oath of office, and the long, eager, anxious struggle was over. A Republican President was safely inaugurated.
“Not until the ceremony was over did the curious cease to speculate as to the probabilities of ‘a bead being drawn on Mr. Lincoln,’ and the chances of assassination; and the question was curiously discussed whether the whole South would not yet furnish one Ravaillac.’ Now the procession was re-formed, and the new President was escorted to the White House. I started for home. As I walked up by way of F Street and the Patent Office, parallel with Pennsylvania Avenue, the procession’s route, I chance to meet Mr. Sumner, and joined him. ‘He seemed satisfied with the inaugural, and remarked of it: ‘I do not suppose Lincoln had it in his mind, if indeed he ever heard of it; but the inaugural seems to me best described by Napoleon’s simile of ‘a hand of iron and a velvet glove.’‘ At home, on the other hand, I found my father in high glee over the endorsement that same inaugural gave him, and he was declaring the party saved. I also met Winter Davis, who pronounced himself as ready to stand on the President’s position.’ Thus, that day, every one was, as Seward predicted they would be, ‘satisfied.’”

Journalist Henry Villard wrote:“Great efforts were made to render the inauguration an imposing occasion. The city itself indicated, by the scantiness of festive array, that the mass of the inhabitants were hostile to the new rule. Burt many thousands, including militia and political organizations, had come from the North and helped to give imposing proportions to the traditional procession from the White House to the farther end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The morning was cloudy and raw; nevertheless, at least thirty thousand people listened to the reading of the message from the historical corner of the Capitol. Probably two-thirds of the immense audience caught every word of the clear utterance of the new President. Not the faintest disturbance occurred then or at any time during the day. On the contrary, the chief figure of the occasion was lustily cheered. For some reason or other, offensive demonstrations and even violence to the President had been apprehended, and the small regular force held in readiness for the repression of such attempts. Old General Scott, who rarely left his quarters, owing to his infirmities, made a special effort and was on duty near the Capitol, receiving frequent reports from the army officers in charge of the detachments of regulars distributed over the city; but not the remotest sign of mischief appeared. In the evening, the customary big inauguration ball came off, and, as usual, it was a very crowded, much mixed and, upon the whole, very ordinary affair, though the newspapers the next morning praised it as the most brilliant festivity that had ever taken place in the national capital.”

Iowan Charles Aldrich wrote: “The days dragged slowly, but finally the 4th of March dawned upon the federal city, and everyone wsa bestirring himself in preparation for the great event of the century. I had secured a ticket which I could obtain admission to the Capitol building and possibly a seat in the gallery of the proceeedings were to take place. I preferred, however, to join the crowd outside, in the hope that I could get close enough to the stand to hear the great inaugural address. At that time little had been done in the way of decorating the grounds on the east front of the Capitol. Across the street from the northeast entrance there still stood a high board fence. These boards were set up on end, and were far from being a graceful addendum to the landscape. The platform had been erected about halfway up the northeast steps, and extended in the direction of the street. There was a multiplicity of seats provided for such people as could gain admittance. At the outer edge of the platform a wide board was set up on its end, and formed the back of the seat from which the occupant could face the President while he was speaking. Stephen A. Douglas sat on the south end of this front row of seats, occupying a place in the corner. I had heard him speak in the United States Senate and in Tammany Hall, New York City, and was familiar with his appearance.
“I went across the street a distance of ten or twelve rods, and selected standing-room with my back against one of those tall boards. The area in front of this northeast corner of the Capitol was filled with spectators to the number of many thousands. Just before the appearance of Mr. Lincoln, a file of soldiers, doubtless regulars, came into the area, and marched along in front of the platform, slowly making their way through the crowd. From where I stood I could see their bayonets above the heads of the people. There was at that time serious apprehension that the President might be shot when he appeared to make his address, but this small company of men was all that was in sight in the way of defense. It was quietly understood, however, that several hundred men were scattered through the crowd armed with revolvers. Had any hostile hand been raised against the President its owner would very speedily have bitten the dust. It was a solemn and almost gloomy time, because there was a universal consciousness that we were just on the outbreak of war.”
“However, the assembled multitude had not long to wait before President Lincoln appeared, walking alone through the door that led to the portico outside of the Senate chamber. He walked quickly down the steps to the front of the platform. Removing his hat he looked for some place to dispose of it. From where I stood I plainly saw Stephen A. Douglas reach for the hat and the President yielded it to him. It was stated afterwards in the papers that Mr. Douglas quietly remarked: ‘Mr. President, I will take your hat.’ Some of the newspaper people who were sadly lacking in reverence stated that ‘Mr. Douglas could not be President himself, but that he held the hat of the man who was.’ The next movement on the part of Mr. Lincoln was thrusting his hand into his right breeches pocket and taking out a steel spectacle case. He opened this with a snap and drew out a pair of spectacles which he placed before his eyes. At that time he could not make a movement, however slight, which did not elicit rounds of applause. When he removed his hat, when he put on his glasses, and when he restored the steel case to his pocket, there were loud cheers. He took his place at a table which had been conveniently placed, and drew out the manuscript of his inaugural address. The first words he uttered were — ‘Fellow citizens of the united States!’ It seemed to everybody who heard him that he dwelt upon and emphasized the word ‘united.’ At all events, his expression was greeted with loud cheers. From this time until the close of his address his auditors were loud in their applause. I never listened to a speaker whose enunciation was so clear and distinct as that of Mr. Lincoln. You not only heard every word that he uttered, but every sentence was most clearly expressed. I believe his voice was perfectly audible to every one of the people who occupied the acres before and around him. At the close of his address he was greeted with deafening cheers, which seemed to carry with them an expression of highest confidence in the President.”
“When he concluded he stepped to one side of the table upon which lay an apparently well-worn copy of the Bible. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Taney — the President kissing the Bible — after which the people who occupied the platform and steps arose and slowly filed into the Capitol. The address was already printed and was at once upon the streets. I know that it was as profoundly satisfying to the people present, as it was to the loyal people of the whole country.”

Wisconsin’s Carl Schurz recalled the scene: “I saw Lincoln step forward to the desk upon which the Bible lay — his rugged face, appearing above all those surrounding him, calm and sad, but so unlike any other in that distinguished assemblage that one might well have doubted how they could work together. I saw Senator Douglas standing close by him, his defeated antagonist, the ‘little giant’ of the past period, who, only two years before, had haughtily treated Lincoln like a tall dwarf. I witnessed the remarkable scene when Lincoln, about to deliver his inaugural address, could not at once find a convenient place for his hat, and Douglas took that hat and held it like an attendant, while Lincoln was speaking. I saw the withered form of Chief Justice Taney, the author of the famous Dred Scott decision, that judicial compend of the doctrine of slavery, administer to oath of office to the first President elected on a distinct anti-slavery platform. I saw, standing by, the outgoing President, James Buchanan, with his head slightly inclined on one side, and his winking eye, and his white neck-cloth — the man who had done more than any other to degrade and demoralize the National Government and to encourage the rebellion, now to retire to an unhonored obscurity…”

Benjamin Brown French, who became a Lincoln Administration official, recalled: “The inauguration ceremonies over, we escorted the new President to the white house where he received all comers with that cordial welcome that so strongly marks the sincerity of the man.
“In the procession was a sort of triumphal car, splendidly trimmed, ornamented and arranged, in which rode thirty-four young girls. On our return, the girls all alighted, & I took them in and introduced them to the President. He asked to be allowed to kiss them all, & he did so, It was a very interesting scene, & elicited much applause.”

Winfield Scott Proposes Response to Secession

Sunday, March 3, 1861

President-elect Lincoln works on his inaugural address to be delivered the next day.

He confers with William H. Seward about his attempt to manipulate cabinet selection. Lincoln has dinner at Willard for his cabinet appointees. The next day he sent their nominations to the Senate without obtaining final acceptance from such problematic appointees as Salmon Chase.

The first of three Confederate commissioners, recently resigned Georgia Congressman Martin J. Crawford, arrives in Washington.

General Winfield Scott follows up on his dinner with Lincoln the previous night by writing:
“Hoping that, in a day or two, the new President will have, happily, passed through all personal dangers, & find himself installed an honored successor of the great Washington — with you as chief of his cabinet — I beg leave to repeat, in writing, what I have before said to you, orally, this supplement to my printed “views,” (dated October last) on the highly disordered condition of our (so late) happy & glorious union. To meet the extraordinary exigencies of the times, it seems to me that I am guilty of no arrogance in limiting the President’s field of selection to one of the four plans of procedure, subjoined: —
I. Throw off the old, & assume a new designation — the Union party; — adopt the conciliatory measures proposed by Mr. Crittenden, or the Peace convention, & my life upon it, we shall have no new case of secession, but, on the contrary, an early return of many, if not al the states which have already broken off from the Union. Without some equally benign measure, the remaining slave holding states will, probably, join the Montgomery confederacy in less than sixty days, when this city — being included in a foreign country — would require permanent Garrison of at least 35,000 troops to protect the Government within it.
II. Collect the duties on foreign goods outside the ports of which this Government has lost the command, or close such ports by acts of congress, & blockade them.
III. Conquer the seceded States by invading armies. No Doubt this might be done in two or three years by a young able General — a Wolfe, a Sesaix or a Hoche, with 300,000 disciplined men — estimating a third for Garrisons, & the loss of a yet greater number by skirmishes, sieges, battles & southern fevers. The destruction of life and property, on the other side, would be frightful — however perfect the moral discipline of the invaders.
The conquest completed at that enormous waste of human life, to the north and north west — with at least $250–000,000, added thereto, and cui bono? — Fifteen devastated provinces — not to be brought into harmony with their conquerors; but to be held, for generations, by heavy garrisons — at an expense quadruple the net duties or taxes which it would be possible to extract from them — followed by a Protector or an emperor.
IV. Say to the seceded [sister] — States — wayward sisters, depart in peace!

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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