Friday, December 27, 2013

The Lincolns entertain officers of the Russian fleet

The Lincolns held a lavish reception for officers of the Russian Fleet which had docked in the Potomac River in Washington. The event was to recognize the support of Russia to the Union while at the dame time do discourage French and British recognition of the Confederacy.

Mr. Lincoln was also asked to comment on his Emancipation Proclamation and its status by Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's agent, Henry C. Wright. Mr. Lincoln told Mr. Wright, "I shall not attempt or modify the emancipation proclamation, not shall i return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress."

On Sunday, December 27, the president travels to Point Lookout in Maryland with Secretary Stanton to visit Confederate prisoners there.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The White House entertains a controversial guest

During this week, and mostly a secret occasion, the Lincoln's had a visit from Mary Lincoln's half sister, Emilie Todd Helm. What made the visit peculiar was the Emilie was the widow of Confederate General Benjamin Helm.

When Union general Daniel Sickles and New York Senator Ira Harris visited Mr. Lincoln and found out that there was an enemy among them, they were indignant.  Senator Harris and Emilie had a confrontation in which the senator reminded her that in recent battles the Union army had chased the rebels out of Chattanooga and that they ran like "scared rabbits." With that, Mrs. Helms reminded the senator that the Union had set the tone in that same fashion at Bull Run.

General Sickles insisted that the Lincolns should not have a rebel in their house. But Mr. Lincoln stood firm, replying that it was up to him to decide who could or could not visit.

Mr. Lincolon attended Frod's Theater twice this week. The first time he attended with his two secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay and long time friend, Leonard Swett, to see "Henry IV". His second visit with Mrs. Lincoln was to attend the performance of "Merry Wives of Windsor".

Friday, December 13, 2013

The president delivered his annual state of the country message to Congress

The president's annual state of the country message to Congress was delivered to both houses on December 9. The message included news of improved conditions of national affairs as well as new treaties with foreign governments including Spain, Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, and Columbia. Additionally the U.S. had a new treaty with Great Britain regarding the suppression of African slave trade.

The president reported that the blockade was increasingly successful and that construction of new war vessels was proceeding  And while the war was still an on-gong vital concern, the president laid out his amnesty plan which included the following: allowing for amnesty for those taking the oath of allegiance, with certain exceptions; those exceptions being for Confederate government officials and those found to have been mistreating colored prisoners of war; not opposing the re-establishment governments in those states of rebellion that were operated by free people; and that Congress would have the sole power to allow those re-established governments to be admitted to Congress.

He was also feeling well enough to begin seeing visitors.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Mr. Lincoln writes his annual address to Congress

As Mr. Lincoln continued to convalesce from his ailment following his return from the event in Gettysburg (where he spoke on November 19 at the dedication of the National Cemetery) he worked on the speech he was to deliver on December 8th -- his annual address to Congress on the state of the country.

His son Tad, who had been diagnosed with scarlet fever the day Mr. Lincoln left for his trip to Gettysburg, (November 18) was beginning to feel slightly better.

Mr. Lincoln's appointments for the week were mostly cancelled or postponed. The usual line of people wanting to speak to him at the White House was curtailed.

Mr. Lincoln also presented to me a fine gold watch in recognition for what he called "my kindness and care" for the president as his unofficial personal bodyguard. I was certainly humbled by the unexpected gift.