Friday, June 27, 2014

Mr. Lincoln visits with General Grant at City Point, Virginia

The president and his party, along with his son Tad, traveled this week via the U.S.S. Baltimore to visit with General Grant and the troops at City Point on the James River in Virginia. The president and the general rode horseback about ten miles to the front where Mr. Lincoln was greeted enthusiastically by the soldiers including members of the U.S. Colored troops.

"Hurray for the Liberator" and "Hurray for the President" they shouted all along the way. Mr. Lincoln was reportedly moved to tears. That evening General Grant promised the president that "you will never hear of me further from Richmond than now, till I have taken may take a long summer day, but I will go in."

Mr. Lincoln, upon returning to the white House, writes to William Dennison, Republican Party chairman, accepting the nomination for a second term. He also congratulates the delegates for recognizing the military efforts saying "the solder and seaman forever must and will be remembered by the grateful country for whose salvation they devote their lives."

Friday, June 20, 2014

The president supports a fund raising effort in Philadephia

Mr. Lincoln approved a sitting with "the Crayon" which his son, Robert, had requested.  Being familiar with Porte Crayon (David Hunter Strother), myself, as he was also a resident of Berkeley County, VA and a fine artist for Harpers Weekly, I approved the move. In this instance, however, I had not been consulted on this particular matter.

The president traveled by train to attend the Great Fair in Philadelphia in aid of the U.S. Sanitary Commission.  There he spoke briefly saying "war, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration is one of the most terrible.  We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when the object is obtained." He went on to predict that General Grant and the Union army was in place to never be dislodged until Richmond is taken.

Later that same evening he attended a reception and spoke at the Union League in Philadelphia. He returned to Washington the following day.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mr. Lincoln is nominated at the Republican Convention

The Republican National Convention opened in Baltimore, Maryland surrounded by much excitement. I sent a telegram to Mr. Lincoln indicating "enthusiastic unanimity beyond even my expectations. Preliminaries not yet settled. Nomination to be made tomorrow."

The convention delegates did indeed nominate Abraham Lincoln. They also confirmed their endorsement of Andrew Jackson as vice-president. Mr. Lincoln received the notification via telegram as he waited for news at the telegraph office arriving from the front about General Grant's efforts.

This convention was much different from the one in Chicago, IL in 1860 at the Wigwam, where several candidates split the vote.  There was much less arm twisting and much less alcohol flowing this round.  Mr. Lincoln was the unanimous choice.

Mr. Lincoln concurred with Edwin Stanton regarding the payment of $300 from those who decided they wanted to opt out of serving in the military. Secretary Stanton was recommending that clause frustrated the object of enrollment by furnishing money instead of men. Mr. Lincoln agreed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

With the convention looming, the news from the war is disturbing

In preparations for the upcoming Republican National Convention, Mr. Lincoln asked me to speak on his behalf among the fourteen counties of the 8th circuit of Illinois.  This was familiar territory for me for I had been an attorney on the 8th Circuit for a dozen years.  I was pleased to have been asked.  I was not going to let a little bruising from my recent carriage accident stand in my way.

The president also indicated to me that he preferred dropping Hannibal Hamlin from the vice-presidential slot in favor of Andrew Johnson, the military governor of Tennessee. Although Tennessee had seceded, Johnson was a staunch Union man. Mr. Lincoln felt Johnson's name on the ticket would enhance his chance for re-election -- which was certainly not a forgone conclusion. But the president also thought he should leave that decision up to the convention delegates.

The only thing that dampened spirits going into the convention was the horrible news that General Grant had lost 7,000 men in one hour in the trenches at Cold Harbor near Richmond. It didn't help to also hear the news that General Lee had only lost 1,500 over that same time period.


Friday, May 30, 2014

A third party candidate emerges for the upcoming election

With the Republican National Convention approaching (June 7 in Baltimore) came the news that disillusioned Republicans had joined with Copperheads and had chosen John Fremont as a third party candidate.  While not surprised, Mr. Lincoln was disappointed.  Radical Republicans had not been on his side from day one. Some criticized his Emancipation Proclamation as not going far enough while others thought his Reconstruction ideas were too soft.  Mr. Lincoln knew could not win any points where the Radicals were concerned.

Fremont and Mr. Lincoln had been at odds throughout the war when Fremont was relieved of command for attempting himself to enlist contraband Negroes into his regiment. Fremont would now represent the "Radical Democracy -- a protest for the "imbecile and vacillating policy of the present administration." The New York Times reported the new party's convention to be "a congregation of malcontents, representing no constituents and controlling no votes." They reported only about 400 attended.

Meanwhile, Congress had stripped me of part of my salary in a dispute over my financial reports.  As if that weren't enough, I was in a carriage mishap. I am badly bruised from falling from my carriage. And I am expected to be at the Baltimore Convention next week.


Friday, May 23, 2014

The president suspends the operation of two newspapers

The president was troubled by reports in the New York World and Journal of Commerce newspaper who had both printed proclamations erroneously attributed to him.  his reaction was to suspend operation of both newspapers. After conferring with Secretaries Stanton and Seward, Mr. Lincoln does not go ahead with his plan to arrest the newspaper editors in question or the publishers. By the end of the week, he had also lifted the publishing ban for both newspapers.

Mr. Lincoln wrote to U.S. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on behalf of Mrs. Booth, wife of Major Lionel Booth of the U.S. Colored Troops, who had fallen at Fort Pillow. Mr. Lincoln suggested that colored soldier's descendants should be allowed the same provisions as had been already approved for widows and orphans of white soldiers.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mr. Lincoln's response to an argument among two Senators

Earlier in the week, a band from the 27th Michigan Volunteers serenaded the president and friends at teh White House.

The president was grateful this week to receive a cane presented by John Birely, a Philadelphia ship builder who had built the cane from wood from the wreck of the U.S. ship The Alliance which had sunk in the Rd Rover in Delaware.  Birely called himself "an old soldier and officer of the War of 1812."

Mr. Lincoln became annoyed when he became involved in a dispute between Senator Samuel Pomeroy and Senator Lane, both from Kansas regarding who they supported to be the state assessor.  Finally done with the whole argument, Mr. Lincoln told them to "make a sincere effort to get out of the mood you are in.  It does neither of you any good -- it gives you the means of tormenting my life out of me, and nothing else."

Mr. Lincoln was quite troubled this week by the death of General Wadsworth. Wadsworth was Grant's oldest division commander at age 56.  A veteran of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, General Wadsworth was wounded at the Wilderness on May 5 and died two days later in an enemy hospital.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The incident at Fort Pillow is discussed by the Cabinet

At the Cabinet meeting this week, Mr. Lincoln presented each Cabinet member with a report of the atrocities at Fort Pillow, TN where a number of U.S. Colored Troops were reportedly massacred after they had surrendered. He was looking for their input on what the course of the government should be in response to that troubling action by the Confederates. Several days later, each member offered their response out loud to the other members of the Cabinet.

This week the Marine band resumed their concert series on the White House grounds.  The concerts had been put on hold for some time. The crowd enthusiastically welcomed their patriotic and uplifting musical renditions. Instead of speaking, Mr. Lincoln calls for and receives three cheers for General Grant and the armies under his command.

Mr. Lincoln receives very unfavorable news of the Union army's actions at the Wilderness. He retires with what he said was a "saddened heart."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mr. Lincoln pardons twenty-five Dakota Indians

This week Matthew Brady sends several of his photographs to the White House to make stereoscopic studies of the president at work in his office.

He shared a smile in relating a telegram he got from Mrs. Lincoln who is with their son Tad at work. Tad had asked about the goats. Mr. Lincoln shared that he returned a telegram saying "Tell Tad the goats and father are very well..especially the goats."

The president pardoned twenty-five of the Indian prisoners being held in Davenport, Iowa at Camp McClellan who were part of the recent Dakota uprising. Special Commissioner for Indian Affairs, George E. H. Day, had pleaded for mercy on their behalf.

On a letter to General Ulysses S. Grant, Mr. Lincoln expressed "entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time....And now with a brave Army and a just cause, may God sustain you."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Young Tad locks the closet being used by Mr. Carpenter

One of my favorite duties in the White House is to attend the receptions held by Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. The final one for the season was held on April 19 with a huge crowd attending. My duties, as always, were to keep an eye out for trouble None came my way this particular evening.

This week Mr. Lincoln sat for a portrait by F. B. Carpenter.  Mr. Carpenter, an very reputable artist, had commandeered one of the closets closest to the president's young son's "theater", much to the annoyance of Tad.  Tad locked the closet and hid the key. Only the gentle nudging of Mr. Lincoln, the father, persuaded Tad to give up the key so that Mr. Carpenter could get his supplies

On April 25, Mr. Lincoln invites a few friends including Pennsylvania Governor Curtin to witness the marching of General Burnside's troops (about 30,000 strong) past the White House enroute to reinforce the Army of the Potomac..


Friday, April 18, 2014

Mr. Lincoln meets with Chippewa Indian chiefs at the White House

A Mr. L.H. Putnam, a Negro man, visited the president this week. Mr. Lincoln was impressed that he was "a very intelligent colored man" and send him to Secretary Edwin Stanton to speak about the Colored Troops.

The president also received a delegation of Chippewa Indian chiefs, anxious for their supplemental treaty be approved by the Senate.  Mr. Lincoln assures them that the treaty had been passed on earlier in the week to Senate officials and then gives the chiefs an tour of the White House.

Mr. Lincoln also helped the opening of the Maryland Sanitary Commission Fair in Baltimore, commenting in his remarks that Baltimore seemed to be much more in favor of the Union than it had been at the beginning of the war. Over 6,000 persons were reported in the audience for his remarks.

In further military action, Mr. Lincoln commuted the sentence of twenty prisoners who had been sentenced to death by the firing squad for various offences.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mr. Lincoln writes about his views on slavery

This week the president took to writing his views on slavery.  it was constantly an issue.  Mr. Lincoln took to thinking about it often, and tweaking his stance frequently. This week he wrote "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not think so, and feel. I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgement and feeling on slavery. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assume this ground, and now avow it."

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln have attended the theater regularly over the last several weeks, seeing plays including King Lear, Der Freischutz, and Faust.  It is one of Mr. Lincoln's fondest pleasures, attending theater.  I for one am not enamored by his insistence on attending as I see the theater as an unsafe place for him to be seen. Not that my input has the slightest impact on his decision to go. He wants to hear my input, but just as quick to dismiss it.

His scheduled trip to Fortress Monroe to check on the troops was postponed. Mrs. Lincoln was not feeling well.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mr. Lincoln continues to not be concerned with his safety

I was Mr. Lincoln's bodyguard, so one should not be surprised that I was always concerned with his safety. Mr. Lincoln, on the other hand, did not seem to be concerned with his, saying "I long ago made up my mind that if anybody wants to kill me, he will do it."

It never became more apparent than this week when someone named Francis Xavier came into Mr. Lincoln's office to try to convince the Mr. Lincoln that he, Mr. Xavier, was indeed President of the United States. I was summoned and threw the man out. He was obviously "off his rocker" but still could have harmed Mr. Lincoln. Fortunately upon frisking Mr. Xavier, I found no weapons.

Mr. Lincoln met with Joseph H. Barrett, the commissioner of pensions, this week. Mr. Lincoln was fretting over an attempt by party officials to postpone the upcoming Republican National Convention, to be held in Baltimore, to a later date. Mr. Lincoln opposed the postponement.

He also delivered to the Senate a treaty signed by the Nez Perce Indians in the Washington Territory.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The president continues to sit for Francis Carpenter's portrait

It took hours of time each week committed by the president to sit for portrait artist Francis Carpenter as he prepared his canvas rendering of the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln's Cabinet.. Young Tad was no longer getting in the artist's way and in general, seemed to take a liking to the long term visitor at the Whited House. Tad was also excited to learn this week that a gift of a new pony was being sent to the White House.

In several meetings this week with Secretary of the Navy Giddeon Welles, it was determined that the Union Navy needed more sailors. By week's end, the president had signed an order for 12,000 of the army's men to be transferred to the navy.

The Lincolns hosted a splendid White House reception well attended by the general populous in spite of a snow storm. He also informed Congress of a new treaty with the Shawnee Indians.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nevada becomes the 36th state of the Union

During this week in March, Mr. Lincoln abandoned attempts by Mr. Hay to sign up 10 percent of the population of Florida in an effort to seat a loyalist government there. Mr. Hay said loyalist to the Union had been persecute and had fled the state. Recently the Union had lost a battle in Olustee (February 20, 1864) attempting to cut of rebel supplies and in an attempt to recruit colored soldiers.

On March 21, Mr. Lincoln signed the legislation to allow Nevada to enter as the thirty-sixth stat of the Union.

Friday, March 14, 2014

President Lincoln meets General Grant

On March 8, following Congressional approval of the new rank of Lt. general for Ulysses S. Grant, the president and the new leader of the Union forces met for the first time. The following day, the president introduced Lt. General Grant to his cabinet. In his remarks the president said "the nation's appreciation of what you have done, and its reliance upon you for what remains to do,  in the existing great struggle, are now presented with this commission, constituting you Lt. General in the Army of the United States." At the meeting, Mr. Lincoln handed over command of 860,000 men and assigned him to the eastern theater.  Grant had preferred the west, but the president prevailed.

With Grant becoming the head of the army, Mr. Lincoln assigned General Halleck as Chief of Staff, while at the same time assigning General Sherman to command the military Division of Mississippi and General James. McPherson as commander of the Department and Army of Tennessee. The president also issued a draft order for the enlistment of an additional 200,000 men.

The president and his wife attended the last in the Edwin Booth series of plays at the Grover Theater, this time attending "Richard III".

Friday, March 7, 2014

The president sends appointment to Congress to raise Ulysses S. Grant to Lt. General

This week was a busy one at the White House.  The president appointed General Ulysses S. Grant as Lt. General and sent that to Congress. Members of Congress and their families attended a closed reception hosted by the Lincolns at the White House. The president and Mrs. Lincoln attended three plays, "Hamlet", "Fool's Revenge" and "Richelieu", all performed by Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth at Grover's Theater.

And speaking of Shakespeare. While Mr. Lincoln was sitting from Francis Carpenter's portrait, the president recited the soliloquy of the king in "Hamlet" from memory.

It was at this time also that the president, a long time advocate of the transcontinental railroad, established the starting point of the Union Pacific Railroad as being on the western boundary of the state of Iowa.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Pomeroy Circular endorsed Samuel Chase as the next president

Mr. Lincoln had waffled on the upcoming election. The eight previous presidents had not been elected to a second term,

On February 23, Samuel Pomeroy sent out a pamphlet regarding the upcoming election, calling Lincoln's reelection "practically impossible" due to Mr. Lincoln's "vacillation and indecision" and the "feebleness of his will". Pomeroy was echoing the sentiment of many of Pomeroy's fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives. Pomeroy endorsed the election of Samuel Chase, a Lincoln Cabinet member as Secretary of the Treasury.

Chase turned in his resignation to be able to spend more time campaigning. But Mr. Lincoln outfoxed him by failing to act on the resignation. Mr. Lincoln said instead that he would deal with the resignation when he could find time to do that.

Chase's bid for the presidency was further derailed later in the week when both the National Committee of the Republican Party and the Republican convention of Ohio (Chase's home state) both announced their endorsement of Mr. Lincoln in the upcoming election

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mr. Lincoln confers with Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew

This week President Lincoln challenged Massachusetts Governor Andrews concerning freemen and refugees from slavery being forceably detained on their passage northward.  Mr. Lincoln suspected that Governor Andrews, who personally had formed two regiments (2,000 men) known as the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (colored) in late 1862, was not directed toward equality in the governor's home state. Mr. Lincoln said to Andrews "if it really be true that Massachusetts wished to afford a permanent home...for...colored persons....I shall be only to glad to know it...I would not hinder from going, any person who is free by terms of the proclamation of any of the acts of Congress."

Mr. Lincoln, at this time, was also quite aware that the U.S. Colored Troops were indeed making a difference in the union army and Navy. By the end of 1863, he had been informed that over 50,000 colored soldiers had enlisted into the U.S.C.T. as organized by the legislation forming the Bureau of U.S. Colored Troops in May of this past year.

The first family hosted a private reception at the White House where those attending were entertained by the Commodore Foote and the Fairy Queen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fire destroys the White House stables and six horses

A fire this week destroyed the White House stables. What was particularly troubling was the loss of six horse who died in the blaze, including a pony belonging to Willie that had been passed down to Tad when Willie died. The pony had been a gift to Willie and with his death, had been the only reminder that had remained in the White House. Several days later, Patterson McGee, a disgruntled former stable employee was arrested by the Metropolitan Police for deliberately setting the stable fire.

Congress appropriated $12,000 for the stables to be rebuilt. The president appointed Benjamin French to be in charge of the construction.

Mr. Lincoln again met with artist Francis Carpenter. They took young Tad along and walked together to Matthew Brady's Washington studio where several photographs were taken to help Mr. Carpenter with his portrait. It was on that occasion that the president was also photographed alongside of Tad.

Mary and Abraham Lincoln attended another play the evening of February 19. The play was Shakespeare's "Richard III" which they attended at Grover's Theater. The starring role was played by Edwin Booth, son of the famous Shakespearean actor Junius Brutus Booth.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Congress passes a bill to bring a warden into the district's jails

As expected, Congress approved bill submitted by Senator James E. Grimes of Iowa as warden for the jails of the District of Columbia. I had already prepared myself for this news and accepted it as another veiled attempt to disrupt the president's efforts.

Mr. Lincoln also spent time again with artist Francis Carpenter concerning ideas for the painting of the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Mr. Lincoln had given Mr. Carpenter use of a small closet for his paints and supplies. Unfortunately for Mr. Carpenter, the Lincoln's young son Tad had used the closet as a dressing room for his pretend theater and was outraged finding Mr. Carpenter had taken it over. In a huff, young Tad locked the closet and refused to give up the key. Mr. Lincoln was quite embarrassed by the situation, and after apologizing to the artist in residence, confronted Tad saying "do you know you are making your father a great deal of trouble?"  Tad reluctantly gave up the keys and closet at his father's insistence.

Our long-time friend and judge of the 8th Circuit of Illinois, Associate Justice David Davis visited with Mr. Lincoln this week. His recent appointment to the Supreme Court had been long desired by Judge Davis, but postponed until October 1862. Judge Davis had gotten on Mr. Lincoln's bad side by offering Cabinet appointments to men who turned their presidential votes at the Republican National Convention way back in 1860. Mr. Lincoln had specifically order Judge Davis, who was Lincoln's campaign manager, to not promise anything to anyone.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mr. Lincoln develops a test plan to help restart the southern economy

In an interesting move this week, Mr. Lincoln sent Alpheus Lewis into the south to meet with plantation owners in Mississippi and Arkansas with a revolutionary test plan in hand. The president's plan was to allow plantation owners to re-hire newly freed slaves on their plantation to keep the southern plantations in business and stave off a complete collapse of their economy, bringing starvation to both the former slaves and the whites on the plantation.

It was no surprise that the radical Republicans vehemently opposed the idea and instead wanted the southern economy to undergo change from agriculture to industrial at the end of the war.

Mr. Lincoln also added Union General Daniel Sickles to his list of emissaries with assignments in the south. Sickle has his leg amputated following the battle at Gettysburg and had requested the president give him an assignment to help aid the Union. Mr. Lincoln asked Sickles to look into preparations for the new government of Arkansas.

The president's social calendar for the week included a public reception at the White House attended by long lines and probably eight thousand persons and a visit to Grover's Theater with Senator Chales Sumner of Massachusetts to attend the play "Gamea".

Friday, January 24, 2014

The president orders officials in Arkansas to set elections for their state to return to the Union

This week, President Lincoln worked with officials in Arkansas to set up an election to become the first state to return to the Union. Both Louisianan and Arkansas had been mostly under Union jurisdiction. Mr. Lincoln thought that being able to pull states back into the Union under his recent Amnesty plan would greatly undermine the Confederacy.

The Lincolns also hosted a dinner for Cabinet members, members of the Supreme Court and others and their wives at the White House. He always like my presence at these type of events as his official greeter. And I always enjoyed being there.

What I wasn't enjoying recently was testimony made before Congress by recently deposed Jailer Benedict Milburn who erroneously told those troublesome radical Republicans that I made $30,000 from my position as U.S. Federal Marshal and another $18,000 from feeding the prisoners.  While this was certainly an "unmitigated falsehood", I suggested that I would be happy if my remuneration by even 1/6th of that.    

Friday, January 17, 2014

President Lincoln meets with one of his critics

This week the president met with Anna Dickinson and then attended her presentation in from of the House of Representatives. The lady was an abolitionist and women's rights activist who had been critical of Mr. Lincoln. She in fact had called him a "scoundrel" on numerous occasions. Dickinson was the first woman to ever address the Congressmen.

In her address, she took issue sternly of the president's proposal for reconstruction and his apparent generosity to the rebels. She also advocated strongly for suffrage for women.

Around this time radical Republicans in Congress were also considering naming a warden for the jails of the District of Columbia in an attempt to undermine some of my authority as U.S. Federal Marshal. When I complained to Mr. Lincoln about the Congressional attempts, Mr. Lincoln assured me that he still had my full support. He said that their way of getting at him was through me, and that was just part of the way things were done in Washington. He told me not to worry.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The president declines getting into the butchering business

President Lincoln hated blood because it reminded him of the long on-going war. During this recent week, with his commuting of the death sentence of an Ohio soldiers for deserting, the president wrote "I did this, not on any merit in the case, but because I am trying to evade the butchering business lately."

In that same nature of the president, he recently gave the father of a Union soldier condemned to death a note saying his son was "not to be shot until further orders from me." The father argued that he was asking for a commutation and that the president could surely change his mind and have his son shot the next week. Mr. Lincoln replied "well, my old friend, I see you are not very well acquainted with me. If your son never looks on death till further orders come from me to shoot him, he will live to be a great deal older than Methuselah."

He also asked Naval Admiral John Dahlgren to meet with Captain Lavender of New York in reference to an idea Lavender had which would aid Union ships by removing under water obstructions from the paths of Naval vessels.

Two treaties with Indian tribes, the Shoshonee Nation of Indians and the Chippewa tribe, were delivered to Congress this week.

Mr. Lincoln also suggested that the nation mourn the recent death of his former Secretary of the Interior, Caleb Smith by draping the executive buildings in Washington in black bunting for fourteen days.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The President and Mrs. Lincoln host their annual New Years Day reception

The annual New Year's Day reception was something I always enjoyed. It was the absolute best way to kick off the new year, with a reception at the White House. This year the first family hosted Union army and navy officers at 11:30 and then opened the White House to the public.  As usual, large lines had formed early in the morning to attend this festive event. Included in this year's reception visitors were four Negroes who were graciously greeted by the President and Mrs. Lincoln.

The Lincoln's again attended Ford's Theater on January 2. This time they were using the box offered by Colonel James D. Greene.

Mr. Lincoln met with and made arrangements this week for artist Francis Carpenter to begin sittings for a painting he had proposed to show President Lincoln's first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to members of his Cabinet. That event had occurred on July 22, 1862 and had surprised its members. Mr. Carpenter was to maintain a studio in the White House for several months in order to complete the painting.