Friday, December 28, 2012

The Cabinet discusses the formation of the new state of West Virginia

The Cabinet met on December 26 to discuss the new state of West Virginia.

Residents of the western part of Virginia had opposed secession. They formed what was known as the Restored Government of Virginia. They had petitioned to the federal government to form their own new Union state of West Virginia.

The Senate had approved the bill for statehood on July 14 which included the Willey Amendment.  The amendment called for children of slave born after July 4, 1863 would be free; at that slaves under the age of ten would be free at age 25; and that no slave could be allowed to come into the state to live there.

The House of Representatives approved a similar bill on December 10, approving the formation of the Union states without abolishing slavery.

It was up to President Lincoln to decide whether to sign the legislation.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Word of the losses at Fredericksburg reach the president

Mr. Lincoln received word that Major General Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Potomac was badly beaten at Fredericksburg in the battle on December 13. The Union army suffered nearly 13,000 casualties.

The president asked General Halleck to order General Burnside to withdraw.  Halleck refused, telling the president that he thought the commanding officer at the battle site needed to make that decision himself.  The president agreed.

During the week there was a confrontation in the cabinet. The result was that cabinet secretaries Salmon Chase, Secretary of Treasury; William Seward, Secretary of State; and Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War all offered their resignations.  All of the resignations were eventually denied. The president's comments on the situation was as follows: "The public interest does not admit of it. I therefore have to request that you will resume the duties of your departments respectively."

Friday, December 14, 2012

The president responds to congressional questions

Mr. Lincoln responded to Congress this week. Congress asked about his actions in the Minnesota Indian Uprising.

The chief executive provided information on December 11 concerning the actions of over three hundred Indians in their attack of a white settlement. Mr. Lincoln told them he had reviewed the transcripts and explained, "Anxious to not act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on the one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other. I caused a careful examination of the record of the trials."

He also responded to a request this week by New York Congressman Fernando Wood who aligned himself with the Southern Democrats.  Congressman Wood asked the president to consider a negotiated peace. The president said any serious effort for peace required that the Southern states stop their rebellion and rejoin the United States. And thus he rejected the congressman's proposal.

Friday, December 7, 2012

President Lincoln delivers his message to Congress

On December 1, President Lincoln delivered his Second Annual Message to Congress.  Here is what he said.

He called for three new amendments to the Constitution.  1) Every state that abolishes slavery before January 1, 1900 shall receive compensation from the United States.  2) All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by chances of war shall be forever free. 3) Congress may appropriate money and otherwise provide for colonizing free colored persons with their own consent at any place outside the United States.

He also notified Congress that foreign relations were more satisfactory than expected.  The treaty with Great Britain for suppression of the slave trade was in operation.Negro colonies in the United States might soon migrate to Haiti and Liberia. Progress continues on the building of the Pacific railroad.

In further action, the president responded to the military sentencing of 303 Dakota Indians to death for killing military personnel and civilians in Minnesota.  The president read the trial testimony and then rescinded the death sentences of all but 39 of the Indians.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The president meets with Major General Burnside

The president met with Major General Ambrose Burnside aboard the steamer "Baltimore" at Aquia Creek, Virginia and prior to Burnside's attack on Fredericksburg.

During the meeting, President Lincoln suggested a plan of attack. He told Burnside that the attack should be three pronged.  One prong being from Pamunkey and Port Royal, Virginia. The second attack would come from the south side of the Rappahannock, while the third assault would come from Burnside's main force crossing at Fredericksburg.

Both Burnside and Halleck rejected the idea as they both thought the president's plan would delay the attack.

Mr. Lincoln returned to Washington.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lamon's problems with fugitive slaves comes to a head

The fugitive slave law was causing problems with my position as U.S. Federal Marshal of the District of Columbia. The fugitives were trafficked into the district jails, under my responsibility. They were considered contrabands of war and were therefore forfeited by their owners.  Maryland slave owners wanted full recognition of their legal property.

The basis of much of my problems was General James S. Wadsworth, who commanded the Military District of Washington. Wadsworth and I never once had seen eye to eye.

I complained to President Lincoln about Wadsworth. The president called for a compromise. Each slave would be held in my jail for 24 hours. And then if the military discovered the slave was the property of a rebel owner, he would be released to me and given military protection.

Wadsworth was upset. The president responded by transferring Wadsworth into combat on November 19. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Major General Burnside's plan to attack the rebels is approved

The new commander, Major General Ambrose Burnside, issued a plan to attack the Confederate army during this week.  The plan was intended to confuse General Robert E. Lee by making it look like the Army of the Potomac was attacking General Longstreet's troops,while instead crossing the Rappahannock River and attack Fredericksburg.  Burnside's 120,000 Union soldiers were awaiting the president's approval. Mr. Lincoln liked the plan and gave the go ahead saying in a telegram sent by General in Chief Henry Halleck "He (the president) thinks it will succeed if you move rapidly; otherwise not."

Unfortunately, while General Halleck wired the approval for the action, he failed to order the needed pontoon boats for the army to cross the river.  The army was halted on the wrong side of the river and had to wait. In the meantime, the Confederates bolstered their position at Fredericksburg.

The president was also the guest of the Navy Department, going with Secretaries Chase and Seward to witness the demonstration of the Hyde rocket on November 14. The rocket, developed by Joshua Hyde, contained a war head and an adjustable timed fuse.  Lt. Commander Mitchel set up the demonstration by placing the rocket in a perforated cylindrical iron launching tube. Instead of firing, the rocket exploded in the tube. The president and secretaries miraculously were not injured in the accident.  the Hyde rocket project was scrapped.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

General George McClellan is relieved of is command

After many frustrations with General George McClellan including his failed Peninsular Campaign and his failure to chase General Lee following the battle at Sharpsburg on September 17, Mr. Lincoln relieved the general of his command. In his General Order #182, the president stated "General McClellan thinks he is going to whip the rebels by strategy, and the army has got the same notion. They have no idea that this war is to be carried on and put through by hard, tough fighting."

With that the president gave the command to Major General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside had been offered the command previously and had turned it down due to his personal friendship and loyalty to General McClellan. This time he declined again until he was told if he didn't accept, General Hooker would become the commanding officer of the Army of the Potomac. That sealed the deal, because General Burnside hated General Hooker.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The president discusses his spiritual thoughts on the war

At a prayer meeting held at Mr. Lincoln's office in the White House, the president prays "If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced, but we find it still continues: and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us." The meeting was at the suggestion of Eliza Gurney, whose husband was an English Quaker.

Previously he had said that both parties of the war claim that they were doing the will of God. Mr. said "Both may be, and one must be wrong. God can not be for and against the same thing at the same time."

President Lincoln had always believed that he was "an instrument of Providence."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mr. Lincoln contemplates sending Negroes to Liberia

Mr. Lincoln mulls over a letter presented to him by the New York State Colonization Society written by Rev. J. B. Pinney suggesting the emigration of Negroes to Liberia.  The president decided to take the proposal under advisement.

Mr. Lincoln also removed General Don Carlos Beall from command of the Department of the Ohio for failing to pursue Confederate General Braxton Bragg. 

Mr. Lincoln also wrote to U.S. Navy Captain John Dahlgren. Dahlgren was in charge of Union munitions at the Naval yard. The president asked Captain Dahlgren to secure for his son, Tad, "a little gun that he cannot hurt himself with."  The youngster already had a uniform and marched with the soldiers.  He was fascinated with the military. And his 8th birthday was just around the corner.

P.T. Barnum presented one of his oddest attractions at the White House to entertain Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. The show featured "Commodore" Nutt, a twenty-nine inch tall dwarf.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mr. Lincoln appoints Illinois judge Davis to the Supreme Court

President Lincoln met with Attorney General Edward Bates and asked Mr. Bates to draw up the proper paperwork so that Mr. Lincoln could appoint David Davis of Illinois as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judge Davis had been the long time chief judge of the 8th Judicial District of Illinois when Mr. Lincoln and I rode the circuit.  Mr. Davis had also been instrumental in helping Mr. Lincoln gather the nomination at the Republican National Convention at the Wigwam in Chaicago, Illinois in May 1860.

I had known of Mr. Lincoln's displeasure of Judge Davis' actions during the convention. Against Mr. Lincoln's specific wishes, Judge Davis had promised Cabinet seats to states who threw their votes to Mr. Lincoln.  Judge Davis had wanted a Supreme Court position since Mr. Lincoln had been in Washington. Mr. Lincoln made him wait until now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Newspaper reports said that I sang inappropriate songs

Admittedly I got in some trouble during our recent trip to Sharpsburg, Maryland. Mr. Lincoln often asked me to play my banjo for him and sing little silly songs to lighten his spirit, which had certainly been troubled by this long war.

I always obliged, often singing "off color" songs. In this instance, it was reported that I sang songs for the president that were inappropirate and disrepectful of the dead and wounded lying on the field of battle. That could not have been further from the truth.

There were no dead and dying on the field on the day we walked the grounds.  The battle had taken place September 17. We walked the field on October 3, long after the dead had been buried and the wounded had been removed to local buildings being used as hospitals.

I wrote out an explantion about the affair and complained to the president that we were being unfairly represented.  His response was "You know, Hill, this is the truth and the whole truth about the affair, but I dislike appearing as an apologist for an act of my own which I know was right.  Keep this paper, and we will see about it." Thus, at his insistence, the newspaper report went unchallenged.

Friday, October 5, 2012

President Lincoln visits with General McClellan at Sharpsburg, Maryland

On October 1, we left Washington by special train to Harpers Ferry to visit General McClellan at Sharpsburg, Maryland.  The president was furious with his commanding general. He had intended for General McClellan to puruse and crush General Lee's army.  Instead, McClellan's army was still in Sharpsburg, weeks after the September 17th battle.

Our train, carrying Gen. McClernand, Capt. Wright Rives, Ozias M. Hatch, John W. Garrett (president of B. & O. Railroad) arrived in Harper's Ferry at noon. General McClellan arrived and reviewed the troops stationed at Bolivar Heights with Mr. Lincoln. Prior to spending the night in Harper's Ferry, Mr. Lincoln asked me to send a telegram to his wife. I carried it to the telegraph office in the lower town.  The message was as follows: "General McClellan and myself are to be photographed by Mr. Gardner if we can be still long enough.  I feel General McClellan will have no trouble at his end but I may sway in the breeze a bit."

Upon reaching Sharpsburg, President Lincoln was indeed the subject of several photographs.  I myself was in one photograph sitting on a chair in a group setting.

Mr. Lincoln complained to General McClellan for his lack of action. The general had a whole list of excuses as to why his men were still in Shaprsburg. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

The President issues his prelinary proclamation and suspends habeas corpus

On September 22, Mr. Lincoln presented his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. The following day the proclamation appeared in the newspapers. Reaction was very mixed. Cabinet member Montgomery Blair, Postmaster General, was particularly troubled that the announcement would alientate the border states and affect the upcoming election.

Two days later, Mr. Lincoln, in another quite controversial move, suspended the writ of habeas corpus. With his announcement concerning the writ, Mr. Lincoln said "all Rebels and Insurgents, the aiders and abetters, ... and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting military drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice" anywhere in the country would be arrested, with their writ suspended.

Meanwhile, the president was troubled that General McClellan had let General Lee's army escape back into the south following their actions at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The two armies clash at Sharpsburg, Maryland

The President spent the week preparing his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

McClellan had been privy to General Lee's orders found on the ground in Frederick, Maryland on September 13. The lost orders indicated that General Lee had split his army into several parts.  Upon receiving the orders, General McClellan said "Here is a paper which if I cannot whip Bobbie Lee, I will be willing to go home." Still, General McClellan was slow to purse.

President Lincoln continued to moniter the actions of General McClellan at South Mountain and Sharpsburg, Maryland. Fierce action at Sharpsburg on the 17th gave the Union a semblence of victory on the field.

Friday, September 14, 2012

General Lee invades Maryland

Word reaches the president that General Lee's army is approaching Maryland. Military and Cabinet meetings were held to discuss the issue at hand.  General McClellan reported that he had 80,000 men at his command in Washington City.

General Lee's forces forded the Potomac River just north of Leesburg on Friday September 12. Following his recent vicoty at Bull Run/Manassas, General Lee wanted to bring the action onto northern soil. The rebel soldiers sang "Maryland, My Maryland" in hopes that Marylanders would rally to support their cause.  Instead, Lee's men, about one-fourth barefoot and one-half who one newspaper described as "scarcrows", did not make a favorable impression on Marylanders.

In Washington, President Lincoln saw Lee's invasion as an opportunity to crush the Confederate army and end the war.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The president appoints General McClellan to defend Washington

Following the recent loss at the second battle of Bull Run?Manassas, Mr. Lincoln is pressured to relieve General George McClellan of command.  Instead, much to several Cabinet members dislike, the president appointed General McClellan to the defenses of Washington City.

As part of his new assignment, General McClellan assigned two new companies (Company D and K) of the 150th Pennsylvania to guard the Soldier's Home in Washington.  The Soldier's Home was where Mr. Lincoln spent most nights during the summer.

Lincoln's son, Tad, was a favorite of Company K. They prsented him with a uniform and a commission as a third lieutenant.  Tad often was found in lines with the soldiers and often took meals with them, eating the same rations the soldiers received.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mr. Lincoln abandons plans for colonization of blacks to Central America

Mr. Lincoln appointed Kansas Senator Pomeroy as commissioner for the African colonization. Almost before Pomeroy got started, the ministers of Central American governments protested the selection of Chirique for the relocation of the blacks. The Cabinet met and Mr. Lincoln withdrew his support for the Chirique project.

The president spends much of the next few days monitoring the second battle at Manassas Junction/Bull Run from the telegraph office at the War Department. He was shocked to hear that General Pope and his men were unable to gain a victory. "I believe we are whipped again," he told his secretary John Hay.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The president responds to Horace Greeley's anti-slavery editorial

Mr. Lincoln dined on August 18 with recently exchanged prisoners of war General George McCall, General Michael Corcoran, Colonel Orlando Willcox and Colonel Alfred Wood. General Halleck and the Secretary of War also were present at the dinner.

At the president's request, I sought out the New York Tribune newspaper containing Horace Greeley's anti-slavery editorial "The Prayer of Twenty Millions" and brought it to the White House. Mr. Lincoln responded to Mr. Greeley by saying. "my paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it."

Mrs. Lincoln is inconsolable following the news this week that her brother. Colonel Alexander Todd died of gun shot wounds received at the battle of Baton Rogue.

Friday, August 17, 2012

President Lincoln suggests blacks in America relocate to a Central American country

This week President Lincoln met with a delegation of colored men at the White House. The black committee was led by Edward Thomas, president of the Anglo-African Institute for th Encouragement of Industry and Arts.

At the meeting, the president suggested that "you and we are different races. We have between us broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong, I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to both of us, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side." He suggested to them that they perhaps relocate to a Central American country.

Countries Mr. Lincoln had in mind for relocation included Haiti, Honduras and Chiriqui Lagoon in New Granada (Panama).

Free blacks in general responded with hostility toward the president's suggestions. The Liberator newspaper reminded its readers that blacks "are as much the natives of this country as any of their oppressors."

Friday, August 10, 2012

The President continues to oppose having blacks serve in the Union Army

On Monday, August 4, 1862, President Lincoln turned down the offer of accepting two black Indiana regiments to be brought into the Union Army. He said he would allow the to be laborers, but not soldiers. Mr. Lincoln was opposed to having blacks serve in the army saying it "would produce dangerous and fatal dissatisfactions in our army and would do more injury than good."

Three days later, at the Naval Yard in Washington, Mr. Lincoln, Secretaries Stanton and Seward, and Captain John Dahlgren witness experiments of the Rafael repeating cannon. Mr. Stanton suggests that the new gun be brought in to be considered by the Ordinance Bureau.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

President Lincoln disallows the arming of fugitives in New Orleans

Lincoln's Cabinet met to discuss current war problems including General John Phelps attempt to not only protect fugitive slaves in New Orleans but to arm them. This irritated the president and his Cabinet. The issue of arming blacks was a politically charged issue the president was unwilling to allow. When the cease and desist order was issued to General Phelps, he resigned.

Congress enacted legislation allowing the president to issue pardons for soldiers sent to prison for court martial. The president issued 90 pardons this week to free those men awaiting trial.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mr. Lincoln reads preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet

On Tuesday July 22, 1862, the president read his draft of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation at the day's Cabinet meeting. He proposed the proclamation to become effective on January 1, 1863. Among other suggestions was Secretary Seward's suggestion that the president wait until a military victory to release the idea to the public. Secretary Salmon Chase pressed the president to remove General McClellan from command.

The president sent an executive order calling to military commanders to seize property in the states of the rebellion for military purposes, employ persons of African descent and pay them reasonable wages, and to keep an accounting of all items taken for proper compensation.

The president was saddened by the news of the death of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.


Friday, July 20, 2012

President Lincoln informally announces his intentions to free the slaves

On July 13, while riding in a carriage to attend the funeral of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's infant son, James, Mr. Lincoln presented his thoughts on a proclamation to free the slaves. In the conversation with Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, the president spoke of the delicacy of the proclamation, its timing and importance. It is the first time the president had shared his thought on the subject to someone in his Cabinet.

He has a meeting with General Dix. The president encouraged General Dix to be in charge of the prisoner exchange program.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The President Visits General McClellan at Harrison's Landing, Virginia

President Lincoln and a military advisor boarded the ship U.S.S. Ariel to visit General George McClellan and his men. They docked at Harrison's Landing, Virginia. McClellan has just completed the Peninsula Campaign which in the president's mind had been a complete failure.

Mr. Lincoln said the trip was to elevate the president's spirits and in turn, hopefully also raise the spirits of the soldiers in the Union Army. A three hour troop review was received boisterously by the men in blue. He also met with General Ambrose Burnside for dinner aboard the steamer "Alice Price".

Following the three day trip, the president returned to Washington City. Upon his return to the capital, the president named General Henry Halleck General in Chief. It was a position General McClellan had vigorously sought.

Mr. Lincoln met with representatives of the Border States and suggested they consider a release of their slaves upon the government paying them compensation for their loss of property. He also signed legislation creating a national award of valor to be known as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Friday, July 6, 2012

President Lincoln calls in more troops

President Lincoln sent a call out to the governors of 17 states asking them to fill their quotas. Mr. Lincoln estimated that the call for troops would bring in an estimated 300,000 more soldiers for the Union Army.

On the subject of fugitive blacks, Mr. Lincoln recommended to Secretary Stanton that they not be sent back to their masters. The president said instead they should be given work and paid a reasonable wage.

He also approved the Morrill Land Grant Act providing for public lands to be donated to states for use as colleges to teach agriculture and mechanical arts.

He also spent time with military casualties being transported to the Soldier's Home following their action in the Peninsula Campaign.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mr. Lincoln travels to West Point to meet with General Scott

General Pope and President Lincoln traveled by train to West Point, New York to confer with Major General Winfield Scott. On the trip Mr. Lincoln also attended a rifled cannon being produced at Parrott's Cold Spring Foundry. He returned to Washington City on June 25.

The president issued orders calling for General Fremont to be relieved of his command.

The president verbalized his resolve for the war effort in a letter to Secretary Seward that he wanted Mr. Seward to use at a conference of Union governors meeting in New York. It was to be used along with the president's request for more troops. His message said, "I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or y term expires, or Congress of the country forsakes me."


Friday, June 22, 2012

Robert E. Lee's house, "Arlington" becomes a hospital

Mr. Lincoln officially ordered that the Lee mansion "Arlington", which was located directly across the river from Washington City, be converted into a hospital.

Mr. Lincoln spent the evening of June 18 at the Soldier's Home with Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin. After dinner Mr. Lincoln read his draft of what he called the Emancipation Proclamation. When the president returned, I offered to ride alongside on his future trips to the cottage. He had no comment to me.

The Senate chose the Honorable Solomon Foot President pro tempore of the Senate. That made him third in the line of succession behind Mr. Lincoln and Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Meeting held to discuss Fugitive Slave law

President Lincoln hosted a meeting at the White House on the evening of June 11 with myself, General Wadsworth and Senator Browning. The topic a controversy over the Fugitive Slave Law. Fugitive slaves were handled through the marshal's office that I operated. Mr. Lincoln suggested each slave be held twenty-four hours. If it was determined the slave was the property of a rebel owner, he would be released to my charge and given military protection.

The president announced that the Marine band concerts, held weekly on the White House lawn, were to be suspended. The reason for Mr. Lincoln's decision was because the family was still mourning the death of their son, Willie. The elite of Washington were not happy with the decision.

Mrs. Lincoln spent time visiting the military hospitals in the area. And then she prepare her family for a move to the cottage at the Soldier's Home for the summer.

Friday, June 8, 2012

President Lincoln pardons man indicted of treason

As a promise to Kentucky's Congressional delegation, Mr. Lincoln pardoned Herman Franks who had been indicted for treason.

Charles Sumner of the congressional Committee on Government Relations had recommended a bill to appoint commissioners to the Negro governments of both Liberia and Haiti. This week Mr. Lincoln signed that bill.
These were the first Negro governments  recognized by Congress. Recognition of Haiti had been denied since the administration of President of Thomas Jefferson in 1804 when Haiti became an independent country.

Mr. Lincoln met with Maryland Governor Augustus W. Bradford and Colonel John R. Kenly. Kenly had been captured at the battle of Front Royal on May 23. He was allowed to be paroled in order to arrange for exchanges for his men still incarcerated.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Mr. Lincoln supports my efforts as U. S. District Marshal

In spite of continued criticism from the radicals in Congress, Mr. Lincoln continued to support my position. He sent me a memo this week, dated May 28, saying "The bearer of this, W. H. Lamon, is Marshal of the District of Columbia and my particular friend."

New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley who was indicted for criminal libel for publishing false editorials about me, continues to seek resolution without going to trial. He asked that I be allowed to select any member of Congress from Greeley's own party to negotiate a settlement, with both of us agreeing beforehand to abide by their decision.

Mr. Lincoln ordered that the military take possession of all railroad transportation in the country.

Mr. and Mrs Lincoln attended a concert by opera star Clara Louise Kellogg held on  Tuesday night at the Ford's Theater in Washington City.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mr. Lincoln voids General Hunter's Order No. 11 -- freeing the slaves

President Lincoln acted swiftly in nullifying the May 9 orders of General Hunter's order to fee the slaves in his department. Mr. Lincoln said "neither General Hunter, nor any other commander, or person, has been authorized by the government of the United States, to make proclamations declaring the slaves of any state free."

The president. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Commander Dahlgren inspected the camps and soldiers at Fredericksburg, Virginia. There was great excitement among the troops to have Mr. Lincoln visit them. Upon his return, he spent much of his time at the telegraph office monitoring messages concerning the troubling movements of General Banks.

The president was happy to learn from Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase that General McDowell had begun movement of his 20,000 as ordered.

Friday, May 18, 2012

President Lincoln establishes the Department of Agriculture

Mr. Lincoln signed the bill this week establishing a non-Cabinet level Department of Agriculture. Prior to this week, the agriculture division was under the Secretary of the Interior.

As for myself, I was embroiled in a disagreement that ended in a libel suit I filed earlier this year against New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley. Greeley had printed editorials criticizing my work as federal marshal of the District of Columbia. Greeley had been indicted by the grand jury in March, hearings had been scheduled and postponed. Greeley was trying to settle the matter out of court, claiming the editorials were written in his absence and that he had not read hem until after they appeared in his newspaper.

Friday, May 11, 2012

President Lincoln travels to Fortress Monroe

The president, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Chase left for Fortress Monroe. Upon arrival, arrangements were made for the president to tour the ironclad ship, the Moniter.

The President was unhappy that General George McClellan had not captured Norfolk. So he sent General Wool instead. Wool talked of going in through Willoughby Point. The president and Secretary Stanton went out in a boat and scouted for other possible invasion sites closer to the target. Mr. Lincoln even went ashore to check it out further. General Wool, who had earlier promised the president he would take Norfolk within 48 hours, lived up to his promise by taking Norfolk with no fight at all -- the Confederates had abandoned the city prior to his arrival. The "victory" preserved the naval yard for the Union.

Friday, May 4, 2012

James Holenshade demonstrates a breech loading cannon

President Lincoln and others were at the Naval Yard yesterday to watch Mr. James C. C. Holenshade of Cincinnati, Ohio demonstrate his invention, a breech loading cannon. Mary Lincoln and several others witnessed the trials of the gun which was reported in the New York Herald as having "proceeded in a satisfactory manner."

Earlier in the week, the president had criticized General George McClellan, telling his military leader "your call for Parrott guns from Washington alarms me -- chiefly because it argues indefinite procrastination. Is anything to be done?"

Today he received news that Yorktown, Virginia had been abandoned by the Confederates.

Friday, April 27, 2012

News Reaches Washington City of the Capture of New Orleans

The president and his cabinet were excited to receive the notification that Navel Officer David G. Farragut had captured the city of New Orleans.
Mr. Lincoln was honored as the first American president to board a foreign ship as he visited the Naval Yard and was taken to board the French frigate "Gassendi". While on board he received a twenty-one gun salute.
My wife Sally continued to fix up our rental property in Washington, adding to the livability of the house and raising the appearance higher on her social registry.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The President Works to End Slavery in the District of Columbia

Senator Browning of Illinois met with President Lincoln at the White House to discuss a bill to end slavery in District of Columbia. Senator Browning also wanted to appoint a successor for my father-in-law, my wife Sally's father Judge Stephen T. Logan, on commission to examine into claims at Cairo, Illinois.
The president appointed J. G. Berret, former Ohio Congressman Samuel F. Vinton, and North Carolinean Daniel R. Goodloe commissioners to act for abolition of slavery in District of Columbia. It was a process Mr. Lincoln had favored since his days in the House of Representatives.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Testimony against Newspaper Editor Horace Greeley

During my testimony, I counter attacked Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune who had been indicted for attacking me personally in editorials that I deemed libelous. Greeley claimed the editorial was written without his knowledge by a staff writer. The editor was in the process of trying to settle the matter out of court.
Mrs. Lincoln received the dreadful news that her half brother, Samuel Todd, was mortally wounded at fighting at Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee.
At the same time, Mr. Lincoln continues to have difficulties dealing with General George McClellan. In a letter he tells his general  "The country will not fail to note — is now noting — that the present hesitation to move upon an entrenched enemy, is but the story of Manassas repeated." The president affirms his support for the general, but warns him, "But you must act."

Friday, April 6, 2012

The President Meets the Builders of the Moniter

President Lincoln hosts a meeting with engineers John Ericsson and A. C. Stimers, the men who designed and helped build the ironclad "Monitor."
The president travels with Commander Dahlgren to visit General McClellan at Alexandria, Virginia. He also meets with the Committee on the Conduct of War.
I spent much of the week preparing for my appearance in court coming up on April 8.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bill Established to Take the Jails out of my Control

A bill had been fashioned in the House to render helpless my overseeing of the federal jails in the District of Columbia to unofficially wrestle control from me and people they called my "negro-catching creatures." Fortunately for me, the bill laid upon the table and was never acted upon.
The president, meanwhile, gave me his unconditional support.
Mr. Lincoln toured the Naval Yard in Washington City and met with his cabinet.
He also wrote a letter introducing his new Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurses, Dorothea L. Dix.
Mrs. Lincoln entertained a few dozen family members visiting from Illinois.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Quaker Friends Society Recommend Peaceful Solution to the War

The president answered  Samuel B. Tobey, of the Society of Friends in New England (Quakers) suggestion that the war be resolved through peaceful "direct negotiation" by suggesting "how fully I appreciate the principles of peace . . . and I look forward hopefully to an early end of war, and return of peace."
Mrs. Lincoln has ventured out of her bedroom for the first time since the death of her son.
Mr. Lincoln sends a letter of support to Governor Peirpoint (VA) at the Wheeling Convention telling him to draw up a resolution for the new state and send it for him to look at.
Meanwhile, as Lincoln's bodyguard, I was notified that my complaint against Horace Greeley for defaming my name in his newspaper would be heard in court on April 8.

Friday, March 16, 2012

President Lincoln Proposes a Compensated Emancipation of the Slaves

President Lincoln explained his proposal in a letter to Senator James McDougal on March 14, 1862 saying that he estimated there were 432,622slaves at $400 each. Mr. Lincoln estimated the cost for the government to compensate slave owners for the loss of their property would cost $173 million. He also estimated at the same time that conducting the war for a period of 87 days actually was costing $174 million, and thus the compensation would shorten the war and actually save the country money. The Border States did not support the proposal and it died.
There was much excitement at the White House over last week's naval battle that took place near Fortress Monroe, Virginia last week. The two opposing ironclads, the Moniter and the Virginian fought in the harbor.

Friday, March 9, 2012

President in Discussions with General George McClellan

The President attended the funeral of General Frederick Lander at the residence of Samuel Chase.
President Lincoln also met with General George McClellan several times regarding his campaign to Harpers Ferry, Virginia and his plan for the Peninsula campaign. The president was tired of the general's inactivity. Newspapers had in fact taken the offensive against McClellan, calling it "a contest of inertia where our side outsat the other."
Following the meetings, the president demoted General McClellan to the commander only of the Army of the Potomac.
He also received a dispatch from the Naval department that the Union's new ironclad, the Moniter, was currently steaming toward Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Committee on the Conduct of the War Meets

The Committee on the Conduct of the War met and recommended to the president that the Army of the Potomac be separated into corps.
The president is encouraged by the doctor's report that Tad is recovering from his fever.
By Congressional authority, Mr. Lincoln takes control of the telegraph lines and appoints a commission to look at state prisoners in military custody.
He recommends to Secretary Stanton that Dr. Isaac Hayes be appointed surgeon of volunteers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Willie Lincoln's death

Willie Lincoln died at 5 pm on February 20.  The president cancels his meetings. Mrs. Lincoln is frantic. Officials and their wives meet with the Lincolns to offer their condolences. The president comments "My poor boy, he was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so much. It is hard, hard to have him die." Meanwhile, the president's youngest son,Tad, continues to suffer from typhoid fever.

The Cabinet meets but President Lincoln does not attend. Congress passes a joint resolution to have the government buildings dark in the evening as a tribute to the passing of the president's son. Willie's funeral was held on February 24. Dr. Phineas D. Gurley conducted the services with burial at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown. All government offices were closed.

Reports were that Tad Lincoln's condition was improving.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The White House concerns for the two Lincoln children's illnesses

The was no regular routing in the White House as meetings and receptions were cancelled. The president spent much of his time with his two sons Willie and Tad, both who were very ill from typhoid fever. Reports varied, depending on the day and the source, saying that they were getting better or that they had made no improvement.

The war went on, with General Grant continuing to hold Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Secretary Stanton's recommendation that Grant be classified as major general was endorsed by the president.

The president defended his arrest of the state legislature of Maryland, saying it was in the public interest. Mr. Lincoln feared that the southern sympathizers in the legislature could vote for secession of Maryland which would surround Washington City with southern sates supporting the rebellion.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Social Life in Washington

Mary Lincoln hosted a ball on February 5 called by the local newspapers as "A very respectable if not a brilliant success. The East Room was filled with well dressed guests looking very beautiful and the [midnight] supper was magnificent." Over 600 invitations had been sent out. Sally and I attended. This being her first formal introduction to Washington's social life, Sally was extremely pleased with the affair, calling it "superb."

The enthusiasm for the party was overshadowed by the concern of the Lincoln family of the severe illness of their 11 year old son Willie. It was feared that Willie had typhoid fever, a common occurrence in disease ridden Washington City. They are concerned too that their son Tad has also contracted typhoid fever.

Several functions are cancelled including the weekly reception due to the illnesses.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lincoln's Order for the U.S. Marshal

President Lincoln ordered me as U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia to refrain from arresting or committing fugitive slaves. Enforcing the fugitive slave law had become controversial. The job of enforcing the law and returning fugitive slaves to their proper owners was the duty of my office. Evidently the pressure from the radicals in Congress had caused the president to change the way I handled the fugitive slave business.

My wife Sally finally decided to come to Washington City to live. We sought out a house, finally renting a dwelling on the corner of 15th and I streets from Jonah Hoover at the cost of $170 per month. Sally furnished the house elegantly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Resignation is Tendered but Not Accepted

On January 23, 1862, my frustrations reached a high point. I tendered my resignation telling the president "there appears to be a studious effort upon the part of the more radical part of the party which you placed in power, to pursue me with relentless persecution. I am now under condemnation by the United States Senate for doing what I am sure meets your approval. I fear you will be driven to the necessity of either sustaining the action of that body or breaking with them to sustain me, which you cannot afford to do under the circumstances."

My resignation was not accepted by the president. He reminded me that I served him, not Congress. He told me not to take the assaults personally. The Radicals attacked me, he said, because they couldn't attack him.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Congress Confirms Stanton as Secretary of War

Congress approved of the appointment of Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War.  Mr. Lincoln had put aside his personal feelings about Stanton to make the appointment. While representing opposite sides in a dispute as attorneys, Stanton had once characterized Mr. Lincoln as a gorilla. Mr. Lincoln thought Stanton was of impeccable honesty with great attention to detail.

Mr. Lincoln's charge to Mr. Stanton was to get the army moving. The president had recently characterized the war effort as "exceedingly discouraging" saying if General McClellan did not want to use the army (now in winter quarters) Mr. Lincoln would like to borrow them.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Mr. Lincoln meets with James Shields

Mr. Lincoln and General James Shields of Illinois met on January 8. Shields had challenged Mr. Lincoln to a duel back in 1842 when Lincoln criticized him in a letter to the newspaper. Shields was a crack shot with a pistol. Mr. Lincoln, who was challenged, got to choose the weapons. He chose broad swords. His long arms and tremendous strength gave Mr. Lincoln an obvious advantage.  Shields backed down and cancelled the duel.

Later Mr. Lincoln commented that "If all the good things I have ever done are remembered as long and as well as my scrape with Shields, it is plain I shall not be forgotten."

On this day, Mr. Lincoln decided to replace Simon Cameron with Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War. He submitted Stanton's name to Congress. Cameron's war department had become extremely corrupt and inept. Mr. Lincoln proposed to Congress that Cameron be appointed minister to Russia.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The New Year Arrives

I was a host on January 1 at the new year reception hosted at the White House. Cabinet members and members of Congress met with the President and Mrs. Lincoln starting at 11 am. The general public was allowed into the reception starting at noon. Hundreds gathered and greeted Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln right up to the time the gates were closed at 2 pm. I was troubled with so many unknown persons in close access of Mr. Lincoln. I discussed my concerns following the reception. Mr. Lincoln listened to my concerns but did not take them seriously.

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War met and reported that they wanted General George McClellan removed as commanding General. Mr. Lincoln visited General McClellan who was ill at home. The president was not in favor of relieving General McClellan of his position.