Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The news media needed a poll to figure this out?

This poll just in from the Washington Post: Shocking! We the People don't blame the new president (in office for less than three months) for the disastrous economy that he inherited!

Imagine that!

Good to know we're not as dumb as we look, eh? (Or as dumb as the news establishment owners would like us to be.)

But can this really be... news? Does this drivel pass for news these days?

Blame for Downturn Not Fixed on Obama
6 in 10 Back His Handling of Economy

The number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama's election, and the public overwhelmingly blames the excesses of the financial industry, rather than the new president, for turmoil in the economy, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.


(Pssst: they even have a video!)

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Looking back at Lincoln: On March 31, 1865

(Sketch by Lt. Charles Wellington Reed at City Point, Virginia, 1865. Reed won the Medal of Honor for saving the life of Captain John Bigelow at Gettysburg.)

On this day in 1865, Lincoln was said to have been depressed about an attack that Grant was planning to make on Petersburg, Virginia; a battle that would undoubtedly bring a high cost in lives ("Lincoln's last day: New facts now told for the first time," by W.H. Crook, Harper's Weekly, Sept. 1907.)

Lincoln anxiously watched the final campaign of the war from Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia, on board the 'River Queen' which was docked on the James River. As he did almost daily while away from Washington, Lincoln wrote to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton:

City Point, Va.,
March 31, 1865---8.30 p.m.

Hon. Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War:

At 12.30 p.m. to-day General Grant telegraphed me as follows:

There has been much hard fighting this morning. The enemy drove our left from near Dabney's house back well toward the Boydton plank road. We are now about to take the offensive at that point, and I hope will more than recover the lost ground.

Later he telegraphed again as follows:

Our troops, after being driven back on the Boydton plank road, turned and drove the enemy in turn and took the White Oak road, which we now have. This gives us the ground occupied by the enemy this morning. I will send you a rebel flag captured by our troops in driving the enemy back. There have been four flags captured to-day.

Judging by the two points from which General Grant telegraphs, I infer that he moved his headquarters about one mile since he sent the first of the two dispatches.



[1] OR, I, XLVI, III, 332. The time of this telegram is given as 3 P.M. in NH (XI, 64). Grant's telegrams quoted by Lincoln vary slightly from Lincoln's text. The first is marked as sent at Gravelly Run, 12:50 P.M., rather than 12:30 P.M., and as received at 4 P.M.: "There has been much hard fighting this morning the Enemy drove our left from near W Dabney house back well towards the Boydton plank Road We are now about to take the offensive at that point & I hope will more than recover the lost ground the heavy Rain & horrid roads have prevented the Execution of my designs or attempting them up to this time Gen Ords reports the capture of some prisoners this morning but does not say how many" (DLC-RTL).

The second is marked as sent from Boydton Road and received at 7 P.M.: "Our troops after being driven back on to Boydton plank road turned & drove the Enemy in turn & took the White Oak Road which we now have. This gives us the ground occupied by the Enemy this morning I will send you a rebel flag captured by our troops in driving the Enemy back. There has been four (4) flags captured today. The one I send you was taken from a Va Regiment of Hunters Brigade" (ibid.).

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 30, 1865

In March of 1865, President Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln and their son Tad visited Grant's Headquarters in City Point, Virginia - near Petersburg, on the James River.

The family arrived March 24th aboard the 'The River Queen,' and stayed (sleeping at night on the river boat) for two weeks. Lincoln frequently met with Grant and occasionally toured nearby battlefields as he anxiously awaited news from the front lines.

By now, everyone believed that an end to the war was imminent. Lincoln wanted to be as close as possible to the culminating actions of the war, and welcomed an escape from the daily pressures of Washington. When asked by General Collis how long he planned to stay, Lincoln apparently replied:

"Well, I am like the western pioneer who built a log cabin. When he commenced he didn't know how much timber he would need, and when he had finished, he didn't care how much he had used up. So you see I came down among you without definite plans, and when I go home I sha'n't regret a moment I have spent with you." (Pfanz.)

Lincoln, Grant and other high-ranking army officers met frequently in City Point to plan the end of the war, and they also planned for the reunification of the nation.

It was apparently on the River Queen that Lincoln dreamed the fateful premonition of his coming death:

Lincoln waited at City Point for news from General Grant that he had taken Petersburg and defeated the Confederate armies led by General Robert E. Lee. During this tense time, Lincoln was aboard the River Queen, a ship docked outside City Point. While on the ship, he had a dream. He dreamt that he was in the White House and walked in on a group of mourners. When he asked a soldier who had died, the soldier replied, "the President."

As he waited on the river boat for news, Lincoln could hear the sound of gunfire in the distance and could imagine the battles being waged. Lincoln wrote the following letter to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton:

City Point, Va., March 30, 1865-7.30 p.m.

To Edwin M. Stanton

Hon. Secretary of War: I begin to feel that I ought to be at home, and yet I dislike to leave without seeing nearer to the end of General Grant's present movement. He has now been out since yesterday morning, and although he has not been diverted from his programme, no considerable effect has yet been produced, so far as we know here. Last night at 10.15, when it was dark as a rainy night without a moon could be, a furious cannonade, soon joined in by a heavy musketry-fire, opened near Petersburg and lasted about two hours. The sound was very distinct here, as also were the flashes of the guns upon the clouds. It seemed to me a great battle, but the older hands here scarcely noticed it, and, sure enough, this morning it was found that very little had been done. A. LINCOLN.


OR, I, XLVI, III, 280. General John G. Parke telegraphed Colonel Theodore S. Bowers on March 30: "The enemy drove in our pickets on line in vicinity of steadman & made demonstration on other portions of the line. Signal Rockets were thrown up by enemy & general cannonading ensued accompanied with heavy musketry on both sides The main line was not touched, & the picket line re established. The casualties not yet reported. . . ." (DLC-RTL).

Stanton replied on March 31: "I hope you will stay to see it out, or for a few days at least. I have strong faith that your presence will have great influence in inducing exertions that will bring Richmond; compared to that no other duty can weigh a feather. There is . . . nothing to be done here but petty private ends that you should not be annoyed with. A pause by the army now would do harm; if you are on the ground there will be no pause. All well here." (OR, I, XLVI, III, 332).

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 29, 1863

On this day in 1863, Lincoln - persistent in his determination to raise African American troops wherever possible, as he believed this was the secret to winning the war - wrote a letter to Major General Banks asking him to provide any assistance possible to General Daniel Ullmann who was endeavoring to raise a brigade of African American soldiers in Louisiana.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, March 29, 1863.

Major General Banks
My dear Sir:

Hon. Daniel Ullmann, with a commission of Brigadier General, and two or three hundred other gentlemen as officers, goes to your department and reports to you, for the purpose of raising a colored brigade. To now avail ourselves of this element of force, is very important, if not indispensable. I therefore will thank you to help Gen. Ullmann forward with his undertaking, as much, and as rapidly, as you can; and also to carry the general object beyond his particular organization if you find it practicable. The necessity of this is palpable if, as I understand, you are now unable to effect anything with your present force; and which force is soon to be greatly diminished by the expiration of terms of service, as well as by ordinary causes. I shall be very glad if you will take hold of the matter in earnest.

You will receive from the Department a regular order upon this subject. Yours truly A. LINCOLN.


ALS, CSmH; ADfS, DLC-RTL. On January 13, Colonel Daniel Ullmann was authorized to raise a brigade of Negro Volunteers in Louisiana (OR, III, III, 14). A later order of March 24 authorized him to raise six companies of Louisiana Volunteer Infantry (ibid., pp. 99-100). On March 25, Stanton issued instructions to Banks and Ullmann covering the assignment (ibid., pp. 101-102). Banks acknowledged receipt of Lincoln's letter on April 17, "It gives me pleasure to assure you that I shall give him [Ullmann] every assistance . . . in carrying out your instructions. . . .'' (DLC-RTL). On September 3, 1863, Special Orders No. 50 revoked Ullmann's special powers and ordered him to report to Banks (ibid., p. 766).

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 28, 1861

Here is another first-hand account of Abraham Lincoln - specifically his use of humor to diffuse difficult situations - from the diary of London Times reporter William Russell:

"March 28

In the conversation which occurred before dinner, I was amused to observe the manner in which Mr. Lincoln used the anecdotes for which he is famous. Where men bred in courts, accustomed to the world, or versed in diplomacy, would use some subterfuge, or would make a polite speech, or give a shrug of the shoulders as the means of getting out of an embarrassing position, Mr. Lincoln raises a laugh by some bold west-country anecdote, and moves off in the cloud of merriment produced by his joke..."

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 27, 1861

On this day in 1861, a reporter from the London Times named William Russell wrote this rather amusing (although not terribly flattering) impression of newly elected president Abraham Lincoln in his personal diary:

"March 27, 1861

Soon afterwards there entered, with a shambling, loose, irregular, almost unsteady gait, a tall, lank, lean man, considerably over six feet in height, with stooping shoulders, long pendulous arms, terminating in hands of extraordinary dimensions, which, however, were far exceeded in proportion by his feet. He was dressed in an ill-fitting, wrinkled suit of black, which put one in mind of an undertaker's uniform at a funeral; round his neck a rope of black silk was knotted in a large bulb, with flying ends projecting beyond the collar of his coat; his turned-down shirt-collar disclosed a sinewy muscular yellow neck, and above that, nestling in a great black mass of hair, bristling and compact like a ruff of mourning pins, rose the strange quaint face and head, covered with its thatch of wild, republican hair, of President Lincoln.

The impression produced by the size of his extremities, and by his flapping and wide projecting ears, may be removed by the appearance of kindliness, sagacity, and the awkward bonhomie of his face; the mouth is absolutely prodigious; the lips, straggling and extending almost from one line of black beard to the other, are only kept in order by two deep furrows from the nostril to the chin; the nose itself - a prominent organ - stands out from the face, with an inquiring, anxious air, as though it were sniffing for some good thing in the wind; the eyes dark, full, and deeply set, are penetrating, but full of an expression which almost amounts to tenderness; and above them projects the shaggy brow, running into the small hard frontal space, the development of which can scarcely be estimated accurately, owing to the irregular flocks of thick hair carelessly brushed across it.

One would say that, although the mouth was made to enjoy a joke, it could also utter the severest sentence which the head could dictate, but that Mr. Lincoln would be ever more willing to temper justice with mercy, and to enjoy what he considers the amenities of life, than to take a harsh view of men's nature and of the world, and to estimate things in an ascetic or puritan spirit.

A person who met Mr. Lincoln in the street would not take him to be what - according to the usages of European society - is called a 'gentleman;' and, indeed, since I came to the United States, I have heard more disparaging allusions made by Americans to him on that account than I could have expected among simple republicans, where all should be equals; but, at the same time, it would not be possible for the most indifferent observer to pass him in the street without notice..."

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 26, 1863

On this day in 1863, Lincoln wrote a letter to Tennessee's military governor Andrew Johnson - the same Andrew Johnson who would become Lincoln's running mate and Vice President in 1864 - and urged him to raise an African American regiment in Tennessee. Lincoln stressed that if an "eminent citizen of a slave-state, and himself a slave-holder" were to take such action (raising an African American Army) it would inspire the Union while at the same time demoralizing the South.

A little more background on 'military governor' Andrew Johnson, from the White House biography database:

During the secession crisis, Johnson remained in the Senate even when Tennessee seceded, which made him a hero in the North and a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862 President Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee, and Johnson used the state as a laboratory for reconstruction. In 1864 the Republicans, contending that their National Union Party was for all loyal men, nominated Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice President.


Washington, March 26, 1863.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, March 26, 1863.

Hon. Andrew Johnson

My dear Sir:

I am told you have at least thought of raising a negro military force. In my opinion the country now needs no specific thing so much as some man of your ability, and position, to go to this work. When I speak of your position, I mean that of an eminent citizen of a slave-state, and himself a slave-holder. The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once. And who doubts that we can present that sight, if we but take hold in earnest? If you have been thinking of it please do not dismiss the thought. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 25, 1864

On this day in 1864, Lincoln penned an extraordinary letter (demonstrating - in my opinion - almost zero tolerance for excessive power grabs by politicians within his administration.)

The 'explanation' from B. B. French can be found, at length, in the annotation.

Executive Mansion,
March 25, 1864.

Hon. B. B. French Washington,

My dear Sir:

I understand a Bill is before Congress, by your instigation, for taking your office from the control of the Department of the Interior, and considerably enlarging the powers and patronage of your office. The proposed change may be right for aught I know; and it certainly is right for Congress to do as it thinks proper in the case. What I wish to say is that if the change is made, I do not think I can allow you to retain the office; because that would be encouraging officers to be constantly intriguing, to the detriment of the public interest, in order to profit themselves.

Yours truly



[1] ADfS, DLC-RTL. This letter is printed by Hertz (II, 946), without date or addressee. The bill (S.43) did not pass. Commissioner French replied on March 27, 1864:

"Your note of the 25th is recd. and I am greatly surprised at the contents. . . because I have been guilty of no intended impropriety, and of no wrong. I have been cruelly treated by your Secretary of the Interior, and have been forced by him, to defend myself, and, because I have done so, you have been appealed to to crush me. I do not believe you will do so when you know all the facts. . . .

"The Secretary of the Interior, when that excellent man, Caleb B. Smith was Secretary, was charged by Congress, with the supervision and control of the erection of the Capitol Extension and New Dome. He saw fit, of his own accord, to confer upon me the honor and trust of Disbursing Agent. I have bonds in the penalty of $40,000, and entered upon the duty, and performed it, I believe, satisfactorily to Mr. Smith. He resigned, Mr. Usher was appointed. . . removed my Clerk, who was charged with keeping my accounts, and for whose acts, I, alone, was responsible under my bonds, and placed another man in his stead. . . . On the 30th of June, 1863,. . . removing me from the place of disbursing agent,. . . appointed the clerk he had sent. . . with enlarged powers, and a salary of $2500 per annum. At this I felt grieved. . . and addressed to the Secretary, a letter. . . also. . . to you. . . .

"Naturally, I wrote to Senator Foot, informing him of the fact. . . . He replied. . . that as soon as Congress met it was his intention to introduce a bill placing the work on the Extension & Dome under the Commissioner of Public Buildings, where it belonged, & removing the office of Commissioner from any control of the Secy. I drew up a bill which I supposed would carry out what Senator Foot said, and sent it to him, keeping a copy of it. Some time afterwards a friend, to whom I showed the copy, wanted a few copies of it for his own use, and, without the least idea of there being any impropriety in my doing so, having a printing press and type in my office, I printed for him a few copies.

"I had no agency whatever in the introduction of the bill by Senator Foot, as he never mentioned it to me, that I remember, after he came to Washington, before its introduction. I never spoke to a Senator or Representative concerning it, unless spoken to. I had not the least agency in its introduction into the House. . . . After it was. . . referred to the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, I was notified by the Chairman. . . to appear before it on a certain day, which I did, and there met the Secretary of the Interior. He was heard fully, and said something to which I was forced to reply, and, at a subsequent meeting, I did reply. This is all my personal action in the matter. . . . I have never spoken to a member of the Senate Committee, except Senator Foot, on the subject of it. He submitted to me, unasked, some papers sent him by the Secy. for my answer, and I gave it. . . . I have done, Mr. President, exactly what you would have done in my case, and nothing more, except, perhaps, in the printing of about a dozen copies of the bill. . . .

"As I did not seek the passage of the bill in question, I cannot. . . seek to stop it; but I beg of you not to sacrifice me without granting me a personal interview.

"I have submitted your letter to Senator Foot who expressed much surprise at its contents. . . evidently written. . . under a false impression as to the facts, and that he would call upon you tomorrow and assure you that, so far as he was concerned, I had no agency whatever in the introduction of the bill, except that I drew it up for him, a thing that is done daily by officials about the Capital, at the request of members." (DLC-RTL).

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 24, 1848

On this day in 1848, Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln apparently took some time to inquire about his genealogy.

He responded to a letter from Solomon Lincoln (Solomon Lincoln of Massachusetts had apparently written more than one letter inquiring into his family history.) In 1865, after Lincoln's assassination, Solomon Lincoln published his findings on the history of the Lincoln family in Massachusetts.

March 24 1848

Mr. Solomon Lincoln,

Dear Sir:

Yours of the 21st. is received. I shall not be able to answer your interrogatories very fully; I will, however, do the best I can. I have mentioned that my grandfather's name was Abraham. He had, as I think I have heard, four brothers, Isaac, Jacob, Thomas, and John. He had three sons, Mordecai, Josiah, and Thomas, the last, my father. My uncle Mordecai, had three sons, Abraham, James, and Mordecai. Uncle Josiah had several daughters, and an only son, Thomas. My father has an only child, myself, of course.

This is all I know certainly on the subject of names; it is, however, my father's understanding that, Abraham [,] Mordecai, and Thomas are old family names of ours. The reason I did not mention Thomas as a family name in my other letter was because it is so very common a name, as to prove but little, if any thing, in the way of identification.

Since I wrote you, it occurred to me to enquire of Gov. McDowell, who represents the district in Virginia, including Rockingham, whether he knew persons of our name there. He informs he does; though none very intimately except one, an old man by the christian name of David. That he is of our family I have no doubt. I now address him a letter, making such enquiries as suggest themselves; and, when I shall receive an answer, I will communicate to you, any thing that may seem pertinent to your object.

Very truly yours


Lincoln also wrote to David Lincoln in Virginia at the suggestion of the same Governor McDowell mentioned in the letter above, who wondered if the two man might be related. Lincoln knew enough of his family history to realize that they likely were relatives; his grandfather Abraham Lincoln had moved west to Kentucky from the family's original home in Virginia, and Lincoln wasn't a common surname at the time.

March 24th. 1848.

Mr. David Lincoln

Dear Sir:

Your very worthy representative, Gov. McDowell [2] has given me your name and address, and, as my my [sic] father was born in Rockingham, from whence his father, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated to Kentucky, about the year 1782, I have concluded to address you to ascertain whether we are not of the same family. I shall be much obliged, if you will write me, telling me, whether you, in any way, know any thing of my grandfather, what relation you are to him, and so on. Also, if you know, where your family came from, when they settled in Virginia, tracing them back as far as your knowledge extends. Very respectfully



[1] ALS, original owned by Abraham Lucius Lincoln, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

[2] James McDowell.

You can view President Abraham Lincoln's entire (known) family tree on genealogy.com.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 23, 1863

On this day in 1863, Lincoln wrote to newly elected Governor of New York Seymour Washington - a Democrat who had been publicly critical of Lincoln's handling of the war, and especially the Emancipation Proclamation - and extended a hand of friendship. In his letter, Lincoln stressed the need for a good working relationship between the office of president and governor of New York - in spite of their differing positions on many matters - and suggested that whatever their differences "it is important that such difference should be as small as possible."

Private & Confidential
Executive Mansion,
March 23, 1863.

His Excellency Gov. Seymour Washington,

Dear Sir: [2] You and I are substantially strangers; and I write this chiefly that we may become better acquainted. I, for the time being, am at the head of a nation which is in great peril; and you are at the head of the greatest State of that nation. As to maintaining the nation's life, and integrity, [3] I assume, and believe, there can not be a difference of purpose between you and me. If we should differ as to the means, it is important that such difference should be as small as possible---that it should not be enhanced by unjust suspicions on one side or the other. In the performance of my duty, the co-operation of your State, as that of others, is needed---in fact, is indispensable. This alone is a sufficient reason why I should wish to be at [4] a good understanding with you.

Please write me at least as long a letter as this---of course, saying in it, just what you think fit. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN


[1] ALS-F, ISLA; ADfS, DLC-RTL. On April 14, Governor Seymour replied in part as follows: "I have delayed answering your letter for some days with a view of preparing a paper in which I wished to state clearly the aspect of public affairs from the stand point I occupy. . . . I have been prevented from giving my views in the manner I intended by a pressure of official duties. . . . In the mean while I assure you that no political resentments, or no personal objects will turn me aside from the pathway I have marked out for myself---I intend to show to those charged with the administration of public affairs a due deference and respect and to yield them a just and generous support in all measures they may adopt within the scope of their constitutional powers. For the preservation of this Union I am ready to make every sacrifice..."

[2] "Dear Sir:" appears only in the autograph draft in the Lincoln Papers.

[3] The autograph draft has a phrase deleted at this point as follows: "and relieving it from it's peril."

[4] In the autograph draft Lincoln substituted "at a good understanding" for "on good terms."

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 22, 1848

On this day in 1848, Lincoln demonstrated his considerable debating skills and sharp logical reasoning in a response to one Usher F. Linder.

Linder had accused Lincoln of undermining the soldiers who fought in the Mexican war whenever he criticized the war itself and President Polk's handling of the war.

Lincoln answered every point masterfully, suggesting that Usher had fallen into "one of the artfully set traps of Locofocoism" (the Locofocos were a radical branch of the Democratic Party of that time.)

Amazing how some topics never lose their relevancy...

Washington, March 22 1848

Friend Linder:

Yours of the 15th. is just received, as was a day or two ago, one from Dunbar [2] on the same subject. Although I address this to you alone, I intend it for you [,] Dunbar, and Bishop, [3] and wish you to show it to them. In Dunbar's letter, and in Bishop's paper, it is assumed that Mr. Crittenden's [4] position on the war is correct. Well, so I think. Please wherein is my position different from his? Has he ever approved the President's conduct in the beginning of the war, or his mode or objects in prossecuting it? Never. He condemns both. True, he votes supplies, and so do I. What, then, is the difference, except that he is a great man and I am a small one?

Towards the close of your letter you ask three questions, the first of which is "Would it not have been just as easy to have elected Genl. Taylor without opposing the war as by opposing it?" I answer, I suppose it would, if we could do neither---could be silent on the question; but the Locofocos here will not let the whigs be silent. Their very first act in congress was to present a preamble declaring that war existed by the act of Mexico, and the whigs were obliged to vote on it---and this policy is followed up by them; so that they are compelled to speak and their only option is whether they will, when they do speak, tell the truth, or tell a foul, villainous, and bloody falsehood. But, while on this point, I protest against your calling the condemnation of Polk "opposing the war." In thus assuming that all must be opposed to the war, even though they vote supplies, who do not not [sic] endorse Polk, with due deference I say I think you fall into one of the artfully set traps of Locofocoism.

Your next question is "And suppose we could succeed in proving it a wicked and unconstitutional war, do we not thereby strip Taylor and Scott of more than half their laurels?'' Whether it would so strip them is not matter of demonstration, but of opinion only; and my opinion is that it would not; but as your opinion seems to be different, let us call in some others as umpire. There are in this H.R. some more than forty members who support Genl. Taylor for the Presidency, every one of whom has voted that the war was ``unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President'' every one of whom has spoken to the same effect, who has spoken at all, and not one of whom supposes he thereby strips Genl. of any laurels. More than this; two of these, Col. Haskell [5] and Major Gaines, [6] themselves fought in Mexico; and yet they vote and speak just as the rest of us do, without ever dreaming that they ``strip'' themselves of any laurels. There may be others, but Capt. Bishop is the only intelligent whig who has been to Mexico, that I have heard of taking different ground.

Your third question is "And have we as a party, ever gained any thing, by falling in company with abolitionists?'' Yes. We gained our only national victory by falling in company with them in the election of Genl. Harrison. Not that we fell into abolition doctrines; but that we took up a man whose position induced them to join us in his election. But this question is not so significant as a question, as it is as a charge of abolitionism against those who have chosen to speak their minds against the President. As you and I perhaps would again differ as to the justice of this charge, let us once more call in our umpire. There are in this H.R. whigs from the slave states as follows: one from Louisiana, one from Mississippi, one from Florida, two from Alabama, four from Georgia, five from Tennessee, six from Kentucky, six from North Carolina, six from Virginia, four from Maryland and one from Delaware, making thirtyseven in all, and all slave-holders, every one of whom votes the commencement of the war "unnecessary and unconstitutional'' and so falls subject to your charge of abolitionism!

"En passant'' these are all Taylor men, except one in Tenn. two in Ky, one in N.C. and one in Va. Besides which we have one in Ills---two in Ia, three in Ohio, five in Penn. four in N.J. and one in Conn. While this is less than half the whigs of the H.R. it is three times as great as the strength of any other one candidate.

You are mistaken in your impression that any one has communicated expressions of yours and Bishop's to me. In my letter to Dunbar, I only spoke from the impression made by seeing in the paper that you and he were, "in the degree, though not in the extreme'' on the same tack with Latshaw. [7] Yours as ever



[1] ALS, IHi

[2] Alexander P. Dunbar.

[3] Captain William W. Bishop.

[4] Senator John J. Crittenden.

[5] Representative William T. Haskell of Tennessee.

[6] Representative John Pollard Gaines of Kentucky.

[7] William D. Latshaw of Coles County, Illinois.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 21, 1864

On this day in 1864, President Lincoln responded to a letter from two young sisters, Clara and Julia Brown (aged 11 and 13) which had accompanied the gift of an Afghan. I am somewhat amused to report that today - this date, March 21 - Lincoln seemed to be universally succinct in his correspondences, and it does not appear that Lincoln gave any major speeches on this day, other than appearing once again in the evening political debates of 1844.

This letter does demonstrate something that Lincoln was noted for: his love of children (and his respect for them as people in their own right;) along with this his willingness to take time out of his busy schedule to converse with people of all ages, classes and situations.

Executive Mansion Washington
March 21 1864

Misses Clara & Julia Brown

The Afgan you sent is received, and gratefully accepted. I especially like my little friends; and although you have never seen me, I am glad you remember me for the country's sake, and even more, that you remember, and try to help, the poor Soldiers.

Yours very truly A. LINCOLN


[1] Copy, DLC-HW. This letter is misdated March 2, 1864, in Tracy (p. 238). The copy was sent to Herndon by H. C. Brown, Nyack on the Hudson, February 13, 1867: "I enclose one [letter] recd by by [sic] my little daughters (then 11 & 13 years old respectively). . . .'' (Ibid.). A note on the bottom of the copy explains that a photograph of Clara and Julia was sent with the afghan. The letter from Clara and Julia, dated at Buffalo, New York, March 9, 1864, is as follows:

"Please accept this Afghan from your little friends who desire to express their regard. . . . The afghan was exhibited at the 'Central Fair' recently held here, and now we are very happy in sending it to our Dear President.

"Please remember that you have little friends in Buffalo who pray for you, that you may be cheerful, strong and wise.'' (DLC-RTL).

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 20, 1844

On this day in 1844, at least according to the Illinois State Register and the Sangamo Journal, Lincoln 'utterly demolished' nearly every position taken by fellow debater John Calhoun.

Lincoln took part in a series of debates, commencing on March 20th and continuing through the 25th, where representatives of both parties discussed (ie debated) the issues of the day in anticipation of an upcoming presidential election. It appears that Lincoln's debating skill was already drawing notice as early as 1844.

Debates with John Calhoun and Alfred W. Cavarly in Springfield, Illinois [1]
March 20-25, 1844

This being the first week of our Circuit Court, arrangements have been made by the public speakers, of both parties, to devote the evening hours, to the discussion of the great questions involved in the coming Presidential election. . . . Judge CAVARLY. . . . quoted . . . from a speech of Mr. Stuart, [2] made in Congress, an admission that the consumer of imported articles paid the duty. . . . This only bright spot in Mr. Stuart's speech, so disturbed Mr. Lincoln, that he promised to forfeit his ``ears'' and his ``legs'' if he did not demonstrate, that protected articles have been cheaper since the late Tariff than before. . . .

. . . . Mr. Calhoun's first speech on Wednesday evening was . . . unanswerable. . . . Though Mr. Calhoun triumphantly established the first proposition, yet Mr. Lincoln had the hardihood to assert that it might probably fall upon the manufacturer, after Mr. Calhoun had shown that it positively fell upon the consumer. . . . Mr. Lincoln very candidly acknowledged his inability to prove that the tariff had anything to do with the late low prices throughout this country and Europe. . . .

There has been an interesting public discussion at the Court Room, on the political questions which divide the country, every evening of last week and Monday evening of this week. Mr. Cavarly of Green, lead off; and was followed by Wm. Brown, Esq. of Morgan---the two occupying two evenings. Mr. Calhoun followed Mr. Brown, and he by Mr. Lincoln, and these gentlemen continued the discussion five evenings.

The discussion has been well attended, and we readily accord to Mr. Calhoun due praise for making most of a bad cause. The efforts of Mr. Lincoln, were distinguished for ability, and in all candor we must say, that we did not discover a single position raised by Mr. Calhoun, that he did not entirely demolish.


[1] Illinois State Register, March 22, 29, 1844; Sangamo Journal, March 28, 1844.

[2] John T. Stuart.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Relevant quote of the day

Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.

- Thomas Jefferson

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Looking back at Lincoln: On March 19, 1862

On this day in 1862, Lincoln wrote the following letter to Dr. Samuel Boyd Tobey of the 'Representatives of the Society of Friends for New England.' The wistfulness displayed in his words - a longing for peace - is evident.

Lincoln never had the chance to be president without the Civil War either looming in the immediate future or barely having ended. How strange that this gentle man of peace was destined to become the greatest of our war-time presidents.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, March 19, 1862.

Dr. Samuel Boyd Tobey:

My dear Sir: A domestic affliction, of which doubtless you are informed, has delayed me so long in making acknowledgment for the very kind and appropriate letter, signed, on behalf, and by direction of a Meeting of the Representatives of the Society of Friends for New-England, held at Providence, Rhode Island the 8th. of second month 1862, by Samuel Boyce, clerk, and presented to me by yourself and associates.

Engaged, as I am, in a great war, I fear it will be difficult for the world to understand how fully I appreciate the principles of peace, inculcated in this letter, and everywhere, by the Society of Friends. Grateful to the good people you represent for their prayers in behalf of our common country, I look forward hopefully to an early end of war, and return of peace. Your obliged friend


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Be the change you want to create

We voted for him. We voted to fix our country.

Obama is going after the fat cats who bled us dry and into the poor house, and he's talking about more than simply recovery; he's talking about investing in our future by making real reforms.

I think its a good budget. It may not be perfect, but he's stressing the right things - clean fuel, infrastructure, education, health care, and oversight. AIG has just proven once again why we MUST have oversight. Oversight protects us - the people - from super-wealthy predator corporations. Like that peanut company... the one that didn't want us to know we were eating contaminated ingredients in foods we consume every day.

I have always believed our job of pushing for change was going to extend well beyond the election. We need to loudly demand and continue insisting on the change we demanded when we elected President Obama last fall. We shocked the world (and ourselves;) and we can go much further. England, France, Canada and even our 'enemy' Cuba have free health care for all who live there. We're not even trying to go that far (and we should;) but there is already stiff resistance from those who can afford the best and who profit from the current system. We could have free health care - we we have free grade school education - if our corporations weren't so greedy... and so powerful.

There are more of us 'common people' than wealthy predators, and we flexed our muscles in the last election. We can outvote them, and we can out-shout them if we work together. We can't stop pushing now. America has been degraded and shamed by the greed of a few, at the expense of the many. Why are we putting up with this? We should be leaning on Congress - every day if necessary - demanding that the change we said we wanted when we voted for Obama, actually becomes law.

We have a chance now, by supporting Obama's budget.

There will be a lot of resistance from the powerful AIGs of our land. They've been running lose and reckless for decades, and have gone totally 'rogue' the last eight years. Our national media is also in the pocket of the super-wealthy elite. They are still spreading propaganda packaged as news.

We have to use our eyes and our heads and separate the wheat from the chaff. The state of our economy is proof that greed is not good (as if most of us didn't already know that to begin with.) Time to end this greedy free-for-all and pull ourselves back up out of this mud, reclaim our national pride, our jobs, homes and our moral standards.

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Looking back at Lincoln: On March 18, 1836

On this day in 1836, Lincoln discovered that his horse was missing from a Springfield, Illinois stable. He took out a 'lost and found' ad in the Sangamo Journal (March 26, 1836,) as follows:

Advertisement for a Lost Horse [1]
March 26, 1836

FROM a stable in Springfield, on Wednesday, 18th inst. [2] a large bay horse, star in his forehead, plainly marked with harness; supposed to be eight years old; had been shod all round, but is believed to have lost some of his shoes, and trots and paces. Any person who will take up said horse, and leave information at the Journal office, or with the subscriber at New-salem, shall be liberally paid for their trouble.



[1] Sangamo Journal, March 26, 1836.

[2] March 18, 1836 was on a Thursday.

It's actually a little comforting to note that the man who was to be the greatest president in our history - at times - confused the days of the week just like (many of) the rest of us.

I've also noticed in his correspondences concerning Fort Sumter, that he often spelled the name 'Fort Sumpter.' I am not sure if the spelling has actually changed over time, or if he simply spelled it as it sounded. That Lincoln made mistakes, occasionally misspelled words and confused the day of the week that his horse was stolen keeps him a little more human, and a little less legend.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG can suck an egg

Dear America:

In their worst-ever advertising and self-promotion campaign, AIG has thrown rotten eggs at your homes, and laughed in your face while taking your money (all of it) because it was supposedly necessary to take YOUR money to clean up the egg mess. While busy not really cleaning up their mess... and repeatedly insisting that they need more money... AIG decided to use some of these money on hefty million dollar bonuses to be payed to the very AIG employees who did the egg-slinging.

Yes: they used your money your children's money, and your children's children's money to pay them. Some of these employees aren't even working for AIG anymore. It just gets better and better.

AIG has advertised in no uncertain terms that we are never to trust them again. We should never EVER give them any of our business, ever, while laughing hysterically at their TV commercials, until they finally die a quiet death or we take them over (for real -- we get the stock and can fire every one of these jackels. Every single one, from top to bottom. Clean house.)

Are we angry? You have no idea. Ask Iceland how they feel -- their entire country went bankrupt because of this domino effect, all started by AIG, the company 'too big to fail' (and too irresponsible to remain in business.)

(CNN) -- AIG paid 73 employees bonuses of more than $1 million, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo informed Congress in a letter Tuesday.
Congress is looking at ways to deal with the outrage surrounding AIG's controversial bonuses.

Cuomo also wrote that 11 of the employees no longer work for the company. The largest bonus paid was $6.4 million and seven more people received more than $4 million each.

"Until we obtain the names of these individuals, it is impossible to determine when and why they left the firm and how it is that they received these payments," Cuomo wrote to a congressional committee.

AIG has been under fire for awarding seven-figure bonuses to employees while being kept afloat by more than $170 billion from the U.S. government's financial bailout.

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Looking back at Lincoln: On March 17, 1865

On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth failed in his attempt to kidnap Abraham Lincoln enroute to a hospital near the Soldiers' Home.

On March 17th, Booth heard that Lincoln would be attending a performance of the play Still Waters Run Deep at a hospital near the Soldier's Home where the Lincoln family often stayed.

Booth set up his kidnapping team along the road that Lincoln would have traveled to reach the hospital, planning to snatch him as he passed by -- of course, Lincoln never appeared.

Booth later learned that Lincoln's plans had changed; and that he had instead attended a reception at the National Hotel - the very hotel in which Booth was staying.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 16, 1861

On this day in 1861, Lincoln recognized Luis Molina as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Nicaragua (the "Minister Plenipotentiary" was added as a token of respect and thanks.)

March 16, 1861

Mr. MOLINA: I am happy to receive the letters you present, and to recognize you, sir, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Nicaragua near the United States.

In conferring a higher rank upon you as a token of regard on the part of the Government and people of Nicaragua towards this country, they have done our Government and people an honor for which we are duly grateful, while they have also manifested an increased confidence in you, which we can attest is deserved, and thereby have done you a distinguished honor, upon which we congratulate you.

On behalf of the United States I fully reciprocate towards your Government and people the kind wishes and friendly purposes you so generously express towards ours.

Please communicate to his excellency the President of Nicaragua my high esteem and consideration, and my earnest wish for his health, happiness, and long life.

Be assured, sir, I do not allow myself to doubt that your public duties and social intercourse here will be so conducted as to be entirely acceptable to the Government and people of the United States.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 15, 1861

On this day in 1861, Lincoln wrote a letter to each member of his cabinet - his 'team of rivals' - asking each man whether or not he would supply Fort Sumter, and why.

He asked for their replies in writing.

The annotations at the end of this letter to Secretary of State William Seward provide a snippet from each response. All of these letters and annotations can be found in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4 (the University of Michigan has posted the entire library online.)

Executive Mansion
March 15. 1861

To William H. Seward [1]
The Hon. Secretary of State
My dear Sir

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.

Your Obt. Servt. A. LINCOLN.


[1] ALS copy, DLC-RTL. This letter, copied by Nicolay and signed by Lincoln, was sent to each member of the cabinet. The several copies which have been located are: to Bates, IHi; to Blair, DLC-Blair Collection; to Seward, NAuE; to Smith, MH; to Welles, A. Conger Goodyear, New York City. The lengthy replies in the Lincoln Papers are abridged as follows:

(1) (Secretary of State William) Seward, March 15--- "If it were possible to peacefully provision Fort Sumter, of course I should answer, that it would be both unwise and inhuman not to attempt it. But the facts of the case are known to be, that the attempt must be made with the employment of military and marine force, which would provoke combat, and probably initiate a civil war. . . . I would not provoke war in any way now. . . . ''

(2) (Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P.) Chase, March 16--- ". . . . If the attempt will so inflame civil war as to involve an immediate necessity for the enlistment of armies . . . I cannot advise it. . . . But it seems to me highly improbable that the attempt . . . will produce such consequences. . . . I return, therefore, an affirmative answer. . . . ''

(3) (Secretary of War Simon) Cameron, March 16--- " . . . it would be unwise now to make such an attempt. . . . I am greatly influenced by the opinions of the Army officers who have expressed themselves on the subject, and who seem to concur that it is, perhaps, now impossible to succor that fort, substantially, if at all. . . . All the officers within Fort Sumter, together with Generals Scott and Totten, express this opinion. . . . ''

(4) (Secretary of the Navy Gideon) Welles, March 15--- "The question has two aspects, one military, the other political. The military gentlemen . . . represent that it would be unwise . . . and I am not disposed to controvert their opinions. . . . In a political view, I entertain doubts of the wisdom of the measure. . . . I do not . . . think it wise. . . . ''

(5) (Secretary of the Interior Caleb B.) Smith, March 16--- "After a careful consideration of the opinions of Gens. Scott and Totten, and also those of Commodore String[h]am and Mr. Fox . . . I have arrived at the conclusion that the probabilities are in favor of the success of the proposed enterprise, so far as to secure the landing of the vessels at the Fort, but . . . . it would not be wise under all the circumstances. . . . ''

(6) (Postmaster General Montgomery) Blair, March 15--- ". . . I submit the following considerations in favor of provisioning that Fort. The ambitious leaders of the late Democratic party have availed themselves . . . to found a Military Government in the Seceding States. To the connivance of the late administration it is due alone that this Rebellion has been enabled to attain its present proportions. . . . I . . . agree that we must look to the people in these States for the overthrow of this rebellion. . . . How is this to be carried into effect? That it is by measures which will inspire respect for the power of the Government and the firmness of those who administer it does not admit of debate. . . . The evacuation of Fort Sumpter . . . will convince
So here is the breakout of the responses:

Seward: Nay
Chase: Aye
Cameron: Nay
Welles: Nay
Smith: Aye
Blair: Aye

History shows that Lincoln eventually decided to re-supply the Fort, the Confederates opened fire on Sumter... and the war began.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

AIG handing out executive bonuses

This is unbelievable.

A.I.G. Planning $100 Million in Bonuses After Huge Bailout

Published: March 14, 2009

WASHINGTON — Despite being bailed out with more than $170 billion from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, the American International Group is preparing to pay about $100 million in bonuses to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

An official in the Obama administration said Saturday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had called A.I.G.’s government-appointed chairman, Edward M. Liddy, on Wednesday and asked that the company renegotiate the bonuses.

Administration officials said they had managed to reduce some of the bonuses but had allowed most of them to go forward after the company’s chief executive said A.I.G. was contractually obligated to pay them.

In a letter to Mr. Geithner, Mr. Liddy wrote: “Needless to say, in the current circumstances, I do not like these arrangements and find it distasteful and difficult to recommend to you that we must proceed with them.”


Perhaps if these people had been FIRED, they would not be up for bonuses. What kind of business doesn't fire the employees who screw up on such a massive scale -- but instead gives them bonuses?

And what kind of suckers are we that we keep giving AIG money?

My husband isn't even getting a cost of living pay increase this year, let alone a bonus. He didn't break any laws, take advantage of anyone, do anything unethical or illegal, and he didn't destroy his company. Think the good guys don't finish last in this country?

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Looking back at Lincoln: On March 14, 1865

On this day in 1865, Lincoln was sick in bed (as he had been on the day before.) According to an entry in the diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, the cabinet met in his bedroom - so he was apparently too ill to get out of bed.

There is an interesting physical study of Lincoln (the book is The Physical Lincoln Complete, by John G. Sotos) that suggests that President Lincoln may have been suffering from cancer in his final months in office. The study of his physique and health history puts forward the prognosis that Lincoln and his sons, excepting Robert Todd, suffered from a rare genetic disorder called multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2B (MEN2B.) Similar to Marfan's Syndrom, MEN2B would have caused many of the physical affects for which Lincoln is known; his height and strange appearance, as well as his appearance of sadness.

I don't completely buy the author's 'all or nothing' premise that Lincoln was not depressed simply because he may have suffered from a disease that made him appear depressed, and was not worn down by the war simply because he may have appeared tired from advanced cancer. Lincoln's own words and the words of those around him testify that he agonized over the war. That he may also have suffered from a physical genetic disorder which may have caused him to develop cancer - a cancer that might have killed him within months even had he not been shot - is an interesting suggestion.

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Jon Stewart: The Cramer Take-down

And now the moment we've all been waiting for... Jon eats Cramer's lunch (after feeding him a steady diet of his own words.)

Stewart is no longer just a fake newsman and comedian; he is a national voice of conscience. I love it when he rips the corporate media for their BS.

Take-down accomplished.

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Jon Stewart: The Week in Cramer

Ah, what a week it has been! Culminating in an epic Jon Stewart take-down (I'll get to that in the next post.) But first... the week in Cramer.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 13, 1862

(A newly discovered photo that may show Lincoln riding on horseback. Look for the tall, dark stovepipe hat above the crowd and in the center top of the picture.)

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech before a delegation from Massachusetts concerning the gift of a whip.

Yes... a whip. It was apparently a very nice whip, but both gift and speech seem a little strange.

The speech has what appears to be a repeated segment (the second "but of those who seem to think only of whipping negroes" seems confusing when it directly follows "or of those who seem to think only of whipping negroes.") Is this an editing error in the New York Times? I suppose it wouldn't be the first.

Speech to a Massachusetts Delegation

March 13, 1862.

I thank you, Mr. TRAIN, for your kindness in presenting me with this truly elegant and highly creditable specimen of the handiwork of the mechanics of your State of Massachusetts, and I beg of you to express my hearty thanks to the donors. It displays a perfection of workmanship which I really wish I had time to acknowledge in more fitting words, and I might then follow your idea that it is suggestive, for it is evidently expected that a good deal of whipping is to be done. But, as we meet here socially, let us not think only of whipping rebels, or of those who seem to think only of whipping negroes, but of those who seem to think only of whipping negroes, but of those pleasant days which it is to be hoped are in store for us, when, seated behind a good pair of horses, we can crack our whips and drive through a peaceful, happy and prosperous land. With this idea, gentlemen, I must leave you for my business duties.


New York Times, March 22, 1862. Lincoln replied to a short speech by Representative Charles R. Train, who presented "an elegant whip, made by a Massachusetts whip company." Among the delegation was Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had come to Washington to gather impressions for an article to appear in the Atlantic Monthly for July, 1862, but being unable to get a personal appointment with the president, thus availed himself of the best opportunity.

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