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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 30, 1864 & 1865

On this day in 1864, Lincoln reiterated his complete faith in General Ulysses S. Grant - a full year before the war was won - in the following letter:

Executive Mansion Washington,
April 30, 1864

Lieutenant General Grant.

Not expecting to see you again before the Spring campaign opens, I wish to express, in this way, my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plans I neither know, or seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant; and, pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any constraints or restraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster, or the capture of our men in great numbers, shall be avoided, I know these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there is anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it.

And now with a brave Army, and a just cause, may God sustain you. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN

Grant replied immediately on May 1st, with the following:

Your very kind letter of yesterday is just received. The confidence you express for the future, and satisfaction with the past, in my military administration is acknowledged with pride. It will be my earnest endeavor that you, and the country, shall not be disappointed.

From my first entrance into the volunteer service of the country, to the present day, I have never had cause of complaint, have never expressed or implied a complaint, against the Administration, or the Sec. of War, for throwing any embarassment in the way of my vigorously prossecuting what appeared to me my duty. Indeed since the promotion which placed me in command of all the Armies, and in view of the great responsibility, and importance of success, I have been astonished at the readiness with which every thing asked for has been yielded without even an explaination being asked. Should my success be less than I desire, and expect, the least I can say is, the fault is not with you.

This was shortly before the Wilderness Campaign, or Battle of the Wilderness: a three day battle of attrition that marked the beginning of Grant's sustained offensive against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Lee actually inflicted more casualties on the Union troops in three days of intense fighting, but unlike the North, was unable to spare any great loss of men -- he could no longer replace them.

In 1865, Lincoln's funeral train crossed the border of Ohio and into my home state (and Lincoln's boyhood home) of Indiana.

From an excellent Lincoln research site that documents the entire journey:

In Indiana the train went through Richmond (while the church bells rang tumultuously), Centreville, Germantown, Cambridge, Knightstown, Charlotteville, and others. It arrived in Indianapolis at 7:00 A.M. The coffin was carried to the Indiana State House in a hearse topped by a silver-gilt eagle. Although rain had been almost an everyday occurrence on the journey, it was so heavy in Indianapolis that the giant procession was canceled and the entire day devoted to viewing. Because of the rain, Governor Oliver P. Morton failed to give his oration. Streetcars in Indianapolis bore slogans of mourning: Car #10 said, “Sorrow for the Dead; Justice for the Living; Punishment for Traitors.” Car #13 said, “Fear Not, Abraham; I Am Thy Shield; Thy Reward Shall Be Exceedingly Great.” Car #20 said, “Thou Art Gone and Friend and Foe Alike Appreciate Thee Now.” Late in the evening the Lincoln Special departed Indianapolis destined for Chicago, a journey of 210 miles.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jon Stewart: Obama's first 100 days (of media circus)

I am so grateful to Jon Stewart: he apparently watches this mindless media drivel so that the rest of us don't have to.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
How to Judge a Guy in 100 Days
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

Labels: , , , , ,

Liberal schmiberal: Torture is illegal

I had to laugh when reading a recent Associated Press article about 'liberal democrats' (and the story made a point of pointing out that the Democrats were LIBERAL) who are calling for an independent investigation into Bush era torture procedures.

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats turned up the pressure on the Obama administration Tuesday to start a criminal investigation by a special counsel into harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects.

It would be a conflict of interest for President Barack Obama's Justice Department to investigate lawyers from the Bush administration, even though they no longer work for the government, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Democrats wrote, "It is impossible to determine at this stage, and before conclusion of the necessary investigation, whether additional conflicts of interest might exist or arise."

The letter said a special counsel's investigation would insulate the department from accusations that the investigation was politically inspired.

Most of the 16 signers were Democratic liberals. Seven committee Democrats did not sign the letter, nor did any of the 16 Republicans.

Independent investigation means an investigation done by people who are, by their very independent nature, not going to do this in a partisan manner. The entire point is to take the politics out of this discussion and look at the legality. And yet conservative democrats and of course Republicans slam the very idea of investigating criminal behavior - and yes, torture is illegal - in the last administration because of course, that would be 'partisan.'

And that is a giant crock of BS.

I'm an independent. I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I don't consider myself 'liberal' or 'conservative.' I do however believe in the Geneva Conventions, our Constitution and our rule of law. I believe that all three were ravaged during the last administration, and I want to see an investigation. I believe our safety as a country resides entirely in our right as citizens to hold our government accountable to the law and to the people who supposedly represent our American democracy. I believe that if we stray as a nation from our ideals, then we have to make a firm move back to them by holding ourselves and our leaders accountable. If we can't do that... we are no longer a democracy.

If we all know that torture is illegal and against the Geneva Conventions (not to mention all sense of morality;) and we all know that Bush and Cheney directed the CIA to torture - they even admitted it - then we as a nation are all on the hook for their behavior until an investigation takes place. All of us. Every single one of us. We are responsible as a nation until we pin the behavior on the handful of bad apples who perpetuated it.

This is not a partisan issue: this is a national issue. This is a question of who we are as Americans, and what we are willing to sweep under the rug to remain comfortable. Its also a question of bullying, because the Republicans are desperate that this information not be investigated, and are using anything and everything to bully the rest of us into dropping it.

But it must not be dropped. This is our national soul on the line.

I personally am not comfortable. I won't be comfortable until the America I believe in - the ideals of liberty and justice that our grandfathers fought for against fascism in WWII, not to mention the freedom our ancestors bled for in the Revolution and Civil Wars - is redeemed. Many soldiers of our grandfathers' generation were tortured - were waterboarded - during WWII. Those who tortured them (those that we caught and tried after the war) were punished; some were executed. I can't even imagine what surviving POWs from that great war must be thinking today. We are betraying them.

Our children and grandchildren will judge us by how we behave today. Right now... we have earned an 'F' in restoring justice to our land. And we are proving to be cowards in the face of bullying by those who use the word 'partisan' to escape any further embarrassment and political association to an administration that they allowed to run amok.

Labels: , , , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 29, 1865

While Lincoln lay in state at the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, the first post-assassination Harper's Weekly was published on this day in 1865.

The prose... well let's just say that we've come a long way from the days when news was also art.

sonofthesouth.net has graciously posted all copies of Harpers Weekly from the Civil War era, so it is possible to read the paper in its entirety on that site. It is an amazing resource; not simply for news of the day, but because it offers a glimpse into Civil War culture (at least in the North,) and the obvious appreciation of language that was prevalent at that time.

Its not so hard to see how Lincoln could have produced his timeless speeches in the context of his time (not to detract from their richness and classic eloquence.) Good writing and use of English was esteemed in that era; it was something all writers and speakers aspired to perfect in their public lives.

How tragic that we have lost that appreciation for our native tongue.

From Harpers Weekly, April 19th, 1865:


THE Fourteenth of April is a dark day in our country's calendar. On that day four years ago the national flag was for the first time lowered at the bidding of traitors. Upon that day, after a desperate conflict with treason for four long, weary years—a conflict in which the nation had so far triumphed that she breathed again in the joyous prospect of coming peace —her chosen leader was stricken down by the foul hand of the cowardly assassin. Exultation that had known no bounds was exchanged for boundless grief. The record upon which had been inscribed all sorts of violence possible to the most malignant treason that ever sought to poison a nation's heart had been almost written full. But not quite full. Murder had run out its category of possible degrees against helpless loyalists in the South, against women and children whose houses had been burned down over their heads, and against our unfortunate prisoners, who had been tortured and literally starved to death. But there still remained one victim for its last rude stroke—one victim for whom, it was whispered in rebel journals South and North, there was still reserved the dagger of a BRUTUS. Beaten on every field of recognized warfare, treason outdid its very self, and killed our President.

Read the entire story...

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 18, 1863

On this day in 1863, Lincoln wrote the following memorandum concerning one Francis Capen, who claimed to be a "Certified Practical Meteorologist—& Expert in Computing the Changes of the Weather."

Capen was seeking work with the War Department and claiming that he could predict the weather. Lincoln obviously was not impressed:

April 28, 1863

It seems to me Mr. Capen knows nothing about the weather, in advance. He told me three days ago that it would not rain again till the 30th. of April or 1st. of May. It is raining now & has been for ten hours. I can not spare any more time to Mr. Capen.


I can certainly identify with this entry.

Before the Civil War, the Army Corps of Engineers was already gathering and using weather data. When the war began - and after seeing the impact of weather on troop marches (mud) and battles (wind and rain) - battlefield commanders requested accurate weather forecasts so they could better plan their movements.

Without any legitimate meteorologists (Francis Capen appears to have been a crank,) the Army gathered weather data as best as they could, and transmitted it by telegraph (i.e. 'its raining here and the wind appears to be blowing in your general direction.') Of course this wasn't a terribly accurate way to gather and distribute weather data, but it was better than nothing.

This fledgling system evolved into the National Weather Bureau, which eventually became the National Weather Service. Now we have satellites and radar... but we here in Indiana can testify: they still get it wrong much of the time!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama re swine flu: Everybody stay calm

I love this guy.

The media is whipping this swine flu outbreak into the usual fear frenzy (as they did with the bird flu that was supposedly bearing down on us a few years ago.) But President Obama - as always - keeps his cool. Stay calm everyone. We're keeping an eye on it, but no need to panic.

What an antidote he is... to the last eight years of 'be afraid.'

Obama: Swine flu 'no cause for alarm'

(CNN) -- President Obama said Monday that the swine flu outbreak is a "cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert," but is not a "cause for alarm."

He added that the federal government is closely monitoring emerging cases and had declared a public health emergency as a "precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively."

Meanwhile, the European Union's health commissioner Monday called on people to avoid traveling to both the United States and Mexico, which seems to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

As many as 103 deaths in Mexico are thought to have been caused by swine flu, the country's health minister said. An additional 1,614 reported cases have been reported in the country.

Someday a flu pandemic is likely going to hit us here. This may be it. Or it not. We've certainly had scares before. Obama is right: no need to panic until we see how this thing is going to progress.

Labels: , , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 27, 1861

On this day in 1861, Lincoln authorized suspension of the writ of habeas corpus: if the need should arise, as troops moved into Washington to protect the city along a vital army travel line between Philadelphia and Washington. In other words... through troublesome but neutral Maryland.

Many people have argued that because the now revered Abraham Lincoln authorized the suspension of habeas corpus during his presidency, any president should feel free to do it in a time of war. Any war, in any land.

What they seldom mention is that Lincoln authorized the (in this case) potential suspension, during a time of war between states within our nation, between American citizens, and in order to directly protect the nation's capitol; and that the laws of our own country, in our own country, were being broken by an insurrection -- not a foreign war.

There was much anger and even hatred directed towards Lincoln in his time over this issue, even from fellow northerners. Habeas corpus has always been a touchy issue in this 'land of the free and home of the brave.' Personally... I wish Lincoln had found a way to avoid this act and subsequent suppression of the press. Just as Roosevelt's presidency will always be marred by the US treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII, Lincoln's legacy will always contain the 'habeas corpus question.' It was and remains to this day, a dangerous precedent - one that can easily be misused by less honorable men in more lenient times.

The order sent to General Winfield Scott:

April 27, 1861

To the Commanding General of the Army of the United States:

You are engaged in repressing an insurrection against the laws of the United States. If at any point on or in the vicinity of the [any] military line, which is now [or which shall be] used between the City of Philadelphia and the City of Washington, via Perryville, Annapolis City, and Annapolis Junction, you find resistance which renders it necessary to suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus for the public safety, you, personally or through the officer in command at the point where the [at which] resistance occurs, are authorized to suspend that writ. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Biting the bipartisan hand... has consequences

File this under 'fool me once...' From the Huffington Post:

In a meeting with House Republicans at the White House Thursday, President Obama reminded the minority that the last time he reached out to them, they reacted with zero votes -- twice -- for his stimulus package. And then he reminded them again. And again. And again.

A GOP source familiar with the meeting said that the president was extremely sensitive -- even "thin-skinned" -- to the fact that the stimulus bill received no GOP votes in the House. He continually brought it up throughout the meeting.

Obama also offered payback for that goose egg. A major overhaul of the health care system, he told the Republican leadership, would be done using a legislative process known as reconciliation, meaning that the GOP won't be able to filibuster it.

Health care reform is coming -- at last!

Labels: , , , , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 26, 1861 & 1865

On this day in 1861, Lincoln formally addressed the 'Frontier Guard;' a unit assigned to protect the White House itself. The Guard was composed mostly of Kansas men under the command of Kansas Senator James "Bloody Jim" Lane.

On April 18th of 1861, Lincoln's aide John Hay recalled in his diary:

"The White House is turned into barracks. Jim Lane marshaled his Kansas Warriors today at Willard's and placed them at the disposal of Mj. Hunter, who turned them tonight into the East Room. It is a splendid company—worthy of such an armory. Besides the western Jayhawkers it comprises some of the best materiel of the East. Senator [Samuel C.] Pomeroy and old Anthony Bleecker stood shoulder to shoulder in the ranks. Jim Lane walked proudly up and down the ranks with a new sword that the Major had given him."

Lincoln's words to the Frontier Guard were as follows, according to the New York Tribune, May 1, 1861:

April 26, 1861

I have desired as sincerely as any man---I sometimes think more than any other man---that our present difficulties might be settled without the shedding of blood. I will not say that all hope is yet gone. But if the alternative is presented, whether the Union is to be broken in fragments and the liberties of the people lost, or blood be shed, you will probably make the choice, with which I shall not be dissatisfied.

On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth was shot in the neck by Union Sergeant Boston Corbett as he tried to leave a burning tobacco barn - set on fire by surrounding Union forces - on the Garrett farm near Port Royal, Virginia. Paralyzed, Booth was dragged out of the burning building and died at the scene after several hours.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 25, 1865

The young Teddy Roosevelt and his brother Elliot watching the funeral procession from their grandfather's window.

On this day in 1865, Abraham Lincoln's coffin was placed on a 14-foot long funeral carriage drawn by 16 horses, and carried through the streets of New York City in a grand funeral procession.

This from a great website that documents the entire timeline of 'The Lincoln Express' and all of its stops between Washington and Springfield:

At about 2:00 P.M. Mr. Lincoln's coffin was placed on a magnificent 14-foot long funeral car. It was drawn by 16 horses wearing long blankets. A funeral procession began that went up Broadway to Fourteenth Street, over to Fifth Avenue, up Fifth to Thirty-fourth Street, and across Thirty-fourth to Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River Railway Depot. 75,000 ordinary citizens marched in the huge procession through New York's jam-packed streets. Windows along the route rented for up to $100 a person. When the procession neared Union Square, it passed Theodore Roosevelt's grandfather's home where the 6 1/2 year old future president was viewing the proceedings from a second story window. Shortly after 4:00 P.M. the funeral train was on its way again - this time headed for Albany (141 miles away). During this leg of the journey the train was pulled by a locomotive named the Union, and the pilot engine was named the Constitution. Large crowds of spectators gathered as the train passed through Manhattanville, Yonkers, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown, Sing-Sing, Peekskill, Garrison's Landing (opposite West Point), Cold Spring, Fishkill, North Hamburg, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Staatsburg, Rhinebeck, Barrytown, Tivoli, Germantown, Catskill, Hudson, Stockport, Coxsackie, Stuyvesant, Schodack, and Castleton. The train arrived in Albany at 11:00 P.M., and the coffin was moved to the State House for public viewing. Throughout the night the local citizenry passed by to pay their last respects to the slain president.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 24, 1865

The only known photo of Lincoln lying in state is from New York (Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had insisted that no photos be taken of Lincoln lying inside his coffin.)

On this day in 1865, The Lincoln Express made the 86-mile trip from Philadelphia's Kensington Station, through New Jersey, and on to New York. It arrived in Jersey City at 10:00 a.m. (however the station clock hands were frozen at exactly 7:20, the time of Lincoln's death.)

Lincoln's coffin was carried off the train and taken across the Hudson River on a ferry. It was then brought to New York's City Hall, carried up the circular staircase under the rotunda, and placed on a black velvet dais.

The public was admitted after 1:00 P.M., and according to accounts, at one point there were over 500,000 people in line waiting to view the late president.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 23, 1863

On this day in 1863... I have to go with this one - its too bizarre to leave out.

I found this in The Lincoln Log -- so it has to be true!

President allegedly attends spiritualist seance in White House. Nothing happens until Lincoln leaves. Then spirits pinch Sec. Stanton 's ears and tweak Sec. Welles' beard. -- Elizabeth Lindsey, "Observance of the Lincoln Centennial," Lincoln Herald 59 (Fall 1957):14.

I have often heard that Mary Todd Lincoln held seances in the White House after Willie's death, persistently attempting to contact his spirit. She even persuaded President Lincoln to attend a few of them. Sounds like Willie - known as a prankster - many finally have made an appearance.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 22, 1861

On this day in 1861, President Lincoln met with approximately "twenty highly respectable citizens of Baltimore" who had traveled to see him in person at the White House to request that he halt all travel of Union troops through Maryland.

According to the Evening Star [Washington, DC, 22 April 1861,] Lincoln responded that his goal was simply to secure the capitol of the Union and protect the lives of its citizens.

The newspaper went on to report: "While it is evident that it is the earnest desire of the President to prevent bloodshed in Maryland, he is doubtless unflinchingly determined that, forcibly, if necessary, the communication of this city with the progressing bodies of troops coming to its relief shall be kept open."

Lincoln's reply to the delegation, as reported by the newspapers of that time:

April 22, 1861

You, gentlemen, come here to me and ask for peace on any terms, and yet have no word of condemnation for those who are making war on us. You express great horror of bloodshed, and yet would not lay a straw in the way of those who are organizing in Virginia and elsewhere to capture this city. The rebels attack Fort Sumter, and your citizens attack troops sent to the defense of the Government, and the lives and property in Washington, and yet you would have me break my oath and surrender the Government without a blow. There is no Washington in that--- no Jackson in that--- no manhood nor honor in that. I have no desire to invade the South; but I must have troops to defend this Capital. Geographically it lies surrounded by the soil of Maryland; and mathematically the necessity exists that they should come over her territory. Our men are not moles, and can't dig under the earth; they are not birds, and can't fly through the air. There is no way but to march across, and that they must do. But in doing this there is no need of collision. Keep your rowdies in Baltimore, and there will be no bloodshed. Go home and tell your people that if they will not attack us, we will not attack them; but if they do attack us, we will return it, and that severely.


[1] Hertz, II, 830-31. Although the source of Lincoln's remarks as printed by Hertz is probably a newspaper, the editors have been unable to locate it. Hertz dates the event April 28, 1861, but reports in the Baltimore Daily Exchange and The South, April 23, 1861, indicate conclusively that this reply was made to committee of fifty representing the Young Men's Christian Associations of Baltimore on Monday, April 22. Reports in the Philadelphia and New York papers as well as the Baltimore papers give only fragments of Lincoln's remarks as printed by Hertz, and the editors have reproduced the Hertz text for want of a satisfactory contemporary source.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 21, 1865

On this day in 1865, Lincoln's body began the long trip home by train to Springfield, Illinois, where he would be buried on May 4th.

300 mourners rode the train called "The Lincoln Special," which carried the body of Lincoln and his dead son Willie through 180 cities and seven states, retracing the same route Lincoln took when he came to Washington to assume the presidency in 1861.

Scheduled stops were made all along the route, and were published by newspapers in advance so that mourners could view the president.

Huge crowds turned out at every planned stop, waiting as long as five hours to pass by Lincoln's casket. At each stop along the route, Lincoln's coffin was carried off of the train, placed on a decorated horse-drawn hearse, and led by a solemn procession to a local public building for public viewing. Even in death, Abraham Lincoln was the president of the people; and was made available to the people so that they could come together and mourn his passing.

While in Philadelphia, Lincoln's body lay in state on in the east wing of Independence Hall; the site where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie had died suddenly in Washington during Lincoln's second year in office, most likely of typhoid fever. The family had always planned to take Willie's body back to Springfield when Lincoln left office. After Lincoln's assassination, Willie's body was disinterred from the mausoleum in Washington, D.C. and placed on the train with Lincoln's casket so the two could be buried together in the family plot.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 20, 1861

The 'Baltimore Riot' of 1865

On this day in 1861, President Lincoln replied to embattled Baltimore mayor Brown - who had complained about the "fearful condition of affairs in this city. The people are exasperated . . . by the passage of troops, and . . . are decided in the opinion that no more should be ordered to come. . . . It is my solemn duty to inform you that it is not possible for more soldiers to pass through Baltimore unless they fight their way at every step..."

Maryland did not secede from the Union along with her neighboring, southern states, but she did share a sympathy with them: may Marylanders were southern sympathizers and deeply resented the flow of Union troops through Baltimore (to the point of rioting.)

And thus an uneasy and brittle relationship existed between 'neutral' Maryland - just across the bridge from Washington - and the Union. The train hub in Baltimore was frequently ground zero for the escalation of anti-Union tensions, beginning with Lincoln's famous passage by night through the city on the way to his inauguration in 1861, and continuing throughout the war.

Lincoln wrote the following reply to Mayor Brown; Brown's message to the president and his reply were passed through three men named Hugh L. Bond, George W. Dobbin, and John C. Brune:

Gov. Hicks, & Mayor Brown Washington, April 20. 1861

Gentlemen: Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin & Brune, is received. I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to keep the peace in the trying situation in which you are placed. For the future, troops must be brought here, but I make no point of bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge myself, of course I must leave details to Gen. Scott. He hastily said, this morning, in presence of these gentlemen, ``March them around Baltimore, and not through it.'' I sincerely hope the General, on fuller reflection, will consider this practical and proper, and that you will not object to it. By this, a collision of the people of Baltimore with the troops will be avoided, unless they go out of their way to seek it. I hope you will exert your influence to prevent this.

Now, and ever, I shall do all in my power for peace, consistently with the maintainance of government. Your Obt. Servt.


Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 19, 1865

On this day in 1865, Lincoln's funeral procession was held in Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets in an eerie silence as the presidents body was carried in a procession led by African American soldiers (and followed by many freed slaves,) on a hearse pulled by six white horses, from the White House to the Capitol building.

The funeral was held shortly after noon on Wednesday, April 19, 1865. About 600 guests entered the same way the public had the day before - through the crepe-covered South Portico and the Green Room and into the candle-lit East Room. There was a cross of lilies near Mr. Lincoln's head; General Ulysses S. Grant was seated on this side. At the opposite end of the coffin was seated Robert and Tad Lincoln and some of their mother's relatives. The cabinet stood on one side of the room behind President Andrew Johnson and former Vice President Hannibal Hamlin. An Episcopalian priest, Rev. Charles Hall, began the service with the words: "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord." He read from Corinthians 15:20: "But now is Christ risen from the dead." Dr. Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, delivered the eulogy:

"I have said that the people confided in the late lamented President with a full and loving confidence. Probably no man since the days of Washington was ever so deeply and firmly imbedded and enshrined in the very hearts of the people as Abraham Lincoln. Nor was it a mistaken confidence and love. He deserved it - deserved it well - deserved it all. He merited it by his character, by his acts, and by the whole tenor, and tone, and spirit of his life. He was simple and sincere, plain and honest, truthful and just, benevolent and kind. His perceptions were quick and clear, his judgments were calm and accurate, and his purposes were good and pure beyond a question. Always and everywhere he aimed and endeavored to be right and to do right. His integrity was thorough, all-pervading, all-controlling, and incorruptible. It was the same in every place and relation, in the consideration and the control of matters great or small, the same firm and steady principle of power and beauty that shed a clear and crowning luster upon all his other excellences of mind and heart, and recommended him to his fellow citizens as the man, who, in a time of unexampled peril, when the very life of the nation was at stake, should be chosen to occupy, in the country and for the country, its highest post of power and responsibility."

Among the five dozen ministers present were Bishop Matthew Simpson of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Dr. E. H. Gray, the Baptist chaplain of the Senate and pastor of the E. Street Baptist church.. Bishop Simpson gave the opening and Dr. Gray gave the closing prayer. (Simpson subsequently performed the marriage of Robert Todd Lincoln.)

After the guests departed, 12 army sergeants carried the coffin out to the waiting funeral hearse drawn by six white horses that brought the coffin to the Capitol. Thousands of Union soldiers, including many who left hospital beds to participate, filed in behind the funeral procession -- which was led by French and a contingent of black soldiers who arrived late and turned around in time to lead the parade. At the end of the parade behind the dignitaries and the soldiers were 40,000 newly-freed blacks, holding hands. Over 100,000 more Americans lined the streets. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper reported: "Every window, housetop, balcony and every inch of the sidewalks on either side was densely crowded with a mournful throng to pay homage to departed worth. Despite the enormous crowd the silence was profound. It seemed akin to death it commemorated. If any conversation was indulged in, it was in suppressed tones, and only audible to the one spoken to. A solemn sadness reigned everywhere. Presently the monotonous thump of the funeral drum sounded in the street, and the military escort of the funeral car began to march past with solemn tread, muffled drum and arms reversed."

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 18, 1865

From the May 16, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly

On this day in 1865, Lincoln's body lay in state in the East Room of the White House. The body would remain there until April 19th, when the formal funeral was held and a funeral procession carried the fallen president to a waiting catafalque in the rotunda of the Capitol Building.

Mourners lined up outside White House, waiting for the 9:30 A.M. opening of the White House gate. Many had to wait more than six hours to pay their respects. About 25,000 walked through the South Portico into the entry hall and the Green Room before entering the East Room, which had been darkened for the occasion. The mirrors in the room were covered -- as they were for other funerals held there -- and the frames swathed in black crepe. Black cloth also covered the walnut, lead-lined coffin -- which was only two inches longer than the 6-4 President. A silver plate on the lid read: "ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 16TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BORN FEBRUARY 12, 1809, DIED APRIL 15, 1865." On each side of the coffin were four silver handles and four shamrocks formed by silver tacks. The coffin itself sat on a platform covered in black cloth. Flowers from the White House grounds and greenhouse encircled the coffin and perfumed the air. Two dozen ranking Union officers formed an honor guard. Journalist Noah Brooks wrote in Washington in Lincoln's Time:

"The great room was draped with crape and black cloth, relieved only here and there by white flowers and green leaves. The catafalque upon which the casket lay was about fifteen feet high, and consisted of an elevated platform resting on a dais and covered with a domed canopy of black cloth which was supported by four pillars, and was lined beneath with fluted white silk. In those days the custom of sending 'floral tributes' on funeral occasions was not common, but the funeral of Lincoln was remarkable for the unusual abundance and beauty of the devices in flowers that were sent by individuals and public bodies. From the time the body had been made ready for burial until the last services in the house, it was watched night and day by a guard of honor, the members of which were one major-general, one brigadier-general, two field officers, and four line officers of the army and four of the navy. Before the public were admitted to view the face of the dead, the scene in the darkened room - a sort of chapelle ardente - was most impressive. At the head and foot and on each side of the casket of their dead chief stood the motionless figures of his armed warriors.

When the funeral exercises took place, the floor of the East Room had been transformed into something like an amphitheatre by the erection of an inclined platform, broken into steps, and filling all but the entrance side of the apartment and the area about the catafalque. This platform was covered with black cloth, and upon it stood the various persons designated as participants in the ceremonies, no seats being provided...

For eight hours, the public passed by the coffin. Only then were special groups of visitors allowed to pay their respects. After mourners departed about 7:30 P.M., carpenters built platforms all around the East Room for guests invited to the funeral. The noise nearly drove Mary Todd Lincoln crazy -- indeed, it so disturbed her that at her request it was not dismantled until after she moved out of the White House in May.

In one of the strange twists of history, Lincoln himself spoke (to his aides John Nicolay and John Hay, and to others) and apparently wrote about a strange dream he had of his own impending death, while working and sleeping on board the River Queen in City Point, Virginia a few weeks before:

"About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

p. 116-117 of Recollections of Abraham Lincoln 1847-1865 by Ward Hill Lamon (Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1994).

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 17, 1865

On this day in 1865, while the nation remained in an uproar over the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the largest manhunt in history - for John Wilkes Booth, David Herold and the other conspirators - continued in earnest under the direction of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Conspirator Lewis Powell, the man who had attacked Secretary of State Seward in his bed (Seward survived,) was lost. Unfamiliar with the Washington area, lacking food and shelter - and without any assistance from David Herold, who was hiding in the Maryland swamps with Booth - Paine wandered into Surratt's Boarding house at the exact moment that Mary Surratt was being questioned about her knowledge of the conspiracy. Bad timing to say the least. Powell apparently claimed to be a ditch-digger hired by Mary Surratt, but she denied knowing him. They were both arrested, having apparently incriminated each other.

Meanwhile people all over the North claimed to have seen John Wilkes Booth; anyone bearing the unhappy resemblance to him was in serious risk of being captured and strung up by angry mobs.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 16, 1865

On this day in 1865 - Easter Sunday - the nation was in a state of shock and mourning. All across the country, clergymen praised and eulogized the fallen president from the pulpit. In the April 19, 1865 Harper's Weekly - the first edition in print after the presidents' assassination - a remarkable account of the assassination, and the following dirge:


LOWER the starry flag Amid a sovereign people's lamentation For him the honored ruler of the nation ;

Lower the starry flag !

Let the great bells be toll'd

Slowly and mournfully in every steeple, Let them make known the sorrow of the people; Let the great bells be toll'd !

Lower the starry flag, And let the solemn, sorrowing anthem, pealing, Sound from the carven choir to fretted ceiling; Lower the starry flag!

Let the great bells be toll'd,

And let the mournful organ music, rolling, Tune with the bells in every steeple tolling; Let the great bells be toll'd !

Lower the starry flag;

The nation's honored chief in death is sleeping, And for our loss our eyes are wet with weeping; Lower the starry flag !

Let the great bells be toll'd ;

His honest, manly heart has ceased its beating, His lips no more shall speak the. kindly greeting;

Let the great bells be toll'd!

Lower the starry flag;

No more shall sound his voice 'in scorn of error, Filling the traitor's heart with fear and terror; Lower the starry flag !

Let the great bells be toll'd ;

He reverenced the gift which God has given, Freedom to all, the priceless boon of Heaven, Let the great bells be toll'd !

Lower the starry flag;

Hit dearest hopes were wedded with' the nation, He valued more than all the land's salvation ;

Lower the starry flag!

Let the great bells be toll'd ;

His name shall live on History's brightest pages, His voice shall sound through Time's remotest ages ; Let the great bells be toll'd !

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 15, 1861 & 1865

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died in a bed at the Peterson boarding house across the street from Ford's Theater at 7:22 a.m., after being shot in the back of the head at close range by famous actor John Wilkes Booth. He was 56.

Pandemonium broke out in Washington as the news of the attack on the president spread through the city. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton took over organization of the manhunt for Booth and his fellow conspirators. Ailing Secretary of State Seward, who was recovering from a carriage accident, had also been viciously attacked in his bed by conspirator Thomas Paine, but somehow lived. Vice President Johnson was on the conspirators' hit list, but slept soundly through the night at the Kirkwood hotel when his assigned assassin, George Atzerodt, spent the night drinking instead of killing.

Booth had meanwhile had made it across the Navy Yard bridge before news of the assassination reached the army guards. The guards posted at the bridge questioned Booth briefly, but with no reason (as of yet) to stop him, they waved him through. Booth, hampered by a broken leg that he suffered by landing badly on the stage after he shot the president (he apparently caught his spur on the presidential bunting as he leaped from the box,) rode into Maryland, where he met up with fellow conspirator David Herold.

After the president died, his body was carried out of the Peterson House in a temporary coffin, and an autopsy was performed:

Edward Curtis, an Army surgeon in attendance, later wrote that, during the autopsy, while he removed Lincoln's brain, a bullet “dropped out through my fingers” into a basin with a clatter. The doctors stopped to stare at the offending bullet, “the cause of such mighty changes in the world's history as we may perhaps never realize.” During the autopsy, Mary Lincoln sent the surgeons a note requesting they cut a lock of Lincoln's hair for her.

News of the president's death traveled quickly and, by the end of the day, flags across the country flew at half-staff, businesses were closed and people who had recently rejoiced at the end of the Civil War mourned Lincoln's shocking assassination.

Four years before: on this day in 1861, newly elected President Lincoln issued the Proclamation Calling Militia and Convening Congress.

April 15, 1861


Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law,

Now therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. The details, for this object, will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured.

I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to re-possess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective chambers, at 12 o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July, next, then and there to consider and determine, such measures, as, in their wisdom, the public safety, and interest may seem to demand.

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this fifteenth day of April in the year of our Lord One thousand, Eight hundred and Sixtyone, and of the Independence the United States the Eightyfifth.


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 14, 1865

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C., as he sat in the presidential booth watching the comedy 'Our American Cousin' with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and friends Major Henry R. Rathbone, and Rathbone's fiancee, Clara Harris.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles was awakened to the news that Lincoln had been shot, and along with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, rushed to Ford's Theater. Hearing that Lincoln had been taken to a house across the street, both men ran into the house where they were told by an attending doctor that Lincoln would probably only live another three hours.

From the diary of Gideon Welles:

"The President had been carried across the street from the theater to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered by ascending a flight of steps above the basement and passing through a long hall to the rear, where the President lay extended on a bed, breathing heavily. Several surgeons were present, at least six, I should think more. Among them I was glad to observe Doctor Hall, who, however, soon left. I inquired of Doctor Hall, as I entered, the true condition of the President. He replied the President was dead to all intents, although he might live three hours or perhaps longer.

The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occasionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance. His slow, full respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he took. His features were calm and striking. I had never seen them appear to better advantage than for the first hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that his right eye began to swell and that part of his face became discolored.

Senator Sumner was there, I think, when I entered. If not he came in soon after, as did Speaker Colfax, Mr. Secretary McCulloch, and the other members of the cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward. A double guard was stationed at the door and on the sidewalk to repress the crowd, which was of course highly excited and anxious. The room was small and overcrowded. The surgeons and members of the cabinet were as many as should have been in the room, but there were many more, and the hall and other rooms in the front or main house were full. One of these rooms was occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and her attendants, with Miss Harris. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Kinney came to her about twelve o'clock. About once an hour Mrs. Lincoln would repair to the bedside of her dying husband and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by emotion.

A door which opened upon a porch or gallery, and also the windows, were kept open for fresh air. The night was dark, cloudy, and damp, and about six it began to rain. I remained in the room until then without sitting or leaving it, when, there being a vacant chair which some one left at the foot of the bed, I occupied it for nearly two hours, listening to the heavy groans and witnessing the wasting life of the good and great man who was expiring before me.

About 6 A.M. I experienced a feeling of faintness, and for the first time after entering the room a little past eleven I left it and the house and took a short walk in the open air. It was a dark and gloomy morning, and rain set in before I returned to the house some fifteen minutes later. Large groups of people were gathered every few rods, all anxious and solicitous. Some one or more from each group stepped forward as I passed to inquire into the condition of the President and to ask if there was no hope. Intense grief was on every countenance when I replied that the President could survive but a short time. The colored people especially-and there were at this time more of them, perhaps, than of whites - were overwhelmed with grief.

A little before seven I went into the room where the dying President was rapidly drawing near the closing moments. His wife soon after made her last visit to him. The death struggle had begun. Robert, his son, stood with several others at the head of the bed. He, bore himself well but on two occasions gave way to overpowering grief and sobbed aloud, turning his head and leaning on the shoulder of Senator Sumner. The respiration of the President became suspended at intervals and at last entirely ceased at twenty-two minutes past seven"

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 13, 1861

On this day in 1861, the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln replied to representatives of the Convention of the State of Virginia who formally requested that Lincoln lay out the "policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate States."

Virginia didn't secede from the Union until the war had officially begun. The people of the historically significant state, which geographically and economically straddled the divide between the North and South, were genuinely torn as to whether or not to follow other southern states into secession. They took their time and debated the issue at length.

I found an excellent essay which delves deeply into the discussions of the Convention of the State of Virginia - I highly recommend reading it for additional background information about pre-Civil War Virginia.

Virginians were Virginians before all else: and that included nation. This dedication to statehood can be traced directly back to the American Revolution and founding fathers like Virginian Thomas Jefferson himself. For a clearer understanding of this mindset, and much, much more, I highly recommend April 1865: The Month That Saved America. I'm re-reading it this month (seems appropriate.)

But back to Lincoln's reply to Virginia:

[April 13, 1861]

Hon: William Ballard Preston, Alexander H. H. Stuart, & George W. Randolph, Esq---

Gentlemen: As a committee of the Virginia convention, now in session, you present me a preamble and resolution, in these words:

Whereas, [2] in the opinion of this Convention the uncertainty which prevails in the public mind as to the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue toward the seceded States is extremely injurious to the industrial and commercial interests of the country; tends to keep up an excitement which is unfavorable to the adjustment of pending difficulties, and threatens a disturbance of the public peace; therefore

Resolved, that a committee of three delegates be appointed by this Convention to wait upon the President of the United States, present to him this preamble and resolution, and respectfully ask of him to communicate to this Convention the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate States.

Adopted by the Convention of the State of Virginia, Richmond, April 8th 1861

In pursuance of the foregoing resolution, the following delegates were appointed to constitute said committee.

Hon. William Ballard Preston.

Hon. Alexander H. H. Stuart.

George W. Randolph Esq.



In answer I have to say, that having, at the beginning of my official term, expressed my intended policy, as plainly as I was able, it is with deep regret, and some mortification, I now learn, that there is great, and injurious uncertainty, in the public mind, as to what that policy is, and what course I intend to pursue. Not having, as yet, seen occasion to change, it is now my purpose to pursue the course marked out in the inaugeral address. I commend a careful consideration of the whole document, as the best expression I can give of my purposes. As I then, and therein, said, I now repeat:

"The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess, the property, and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties, and imposts; but, beyond what is necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion---no using of force against, or among the people anywhere''

By the words "property, and places, belonging to the Government'' I chiefly allude to the military posts, and property, which were in the possession of the Government when it came to my hands. But [3] if, as now appears to be true, in pursuit of a purpose to drive the United States authority from these places, an unprovoked assault, has been made upon Fort-Sumpter, I shall hold myself at liberty to re-possess, if I can, like places which had been seized before the Government was devolved upon me.

And, in every event, I shall, to the extent of my ability, repel force by force.

In case it proves true, that Fort-Sumpter has been assaulted, as is reported, I shall perhaps, cause the United [States] mails to be withdrawn from all the States which claim to have seceded---believing that the commencement of actual war against the Government, justifies and possibly demands this.

I scarcely need to say that I consider the Military posts and property situated within the states, which claim to have seceded, as yet belonging to the Government of the United States, as much as they did before the supposed secession.

Whatever else I may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt to collect the duties, and imposts, by any armed invasion of any part of the country---not meaning by this, however, that I may not land a force, deemed necessary, to relieve a fort upon a border of the country. From the fact, that I have quoted a part of the inaugeral address, it must not be infered that I repudiate any other part, the whole of which I re-affirm, except so far as what I now say of the mails, may be regarded as a modification.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 12, 1861 and 1865

On this day in 1861, at 4:30 a.m., Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina; the first shots fired in the Civil War.

Four years and hundreds of thousands of deaths later, Lincoln was negotiating with the 'Rebel Legislature' of Virginia after the conflict had officially come to an end with the surrender of Lee's army several days before.

Lincoln wrote to General Godfrey Weitzel, the officer in command of Richmond, in his continued negotiations with 'Judge Campbell' - the man who was apparently designated spokesmen for the Rebel government body in Virginia.

In this response Lincoln appears frustrated... no doubt wondering what it will take to pull not only Virginia, but the entire Confederacy back into the Union. The differences in ideology between the two sides, the two halves of the country had not changed; one side had simply beaten the other in armed conflict.

War Department,
Washington, D.C., April 12. 1865

``Cypher'' Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major General Weitzel
Richmond, Va

I have just seen Judge Campbell's letter to you of the 7th. He assumes as appears to me that I have called the insurgent Legislature of Virginia together, as the rightful Legislature of the State, to settle all differences with the United States. I have done no such thing. I spoke of them not as a Legislature, but as ``the gentlemen who have acted as the Legislature of Virginia in support of the rebellion.'' I did this on purpose to exclude the assumption that I was recognizing them as a rightful body. I dealt with them as men having power de facto to do a specific thing, towit, ``to withdraw the Virginia troops, and other support from resistance to the General Government,'' for which in the paper handed Judge Campbell I promised a specific equivalent, to wit, a remission to the people of the State, except in certain cases, the confiscation of their property. I meant this and no more. In as much however as Judge Campbell misconstrues this, and is still pressing for an armistice, contrary to the explicit statement of the paper I gave him; and particularly as Gen. Grant has since captured the Virginia troops, so that giving a consideration for their withdrawal is no longer applicable, let my letter to you, and the paper to Judge Campbell both be withdrawn or, counter-manded, and he be notified of it. Do not now allow them to assemble; but if any have come, allow them safe-return to their homes. A. LINCOLN


[1] ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 386-87. The time of this telegram is marked by the clerk as 6 P.M. See Lincoln's memorandum to Campbell, April 5, and communications to Grant and to Weitzel, April 6, supra. On April 7, Judge Campbell wrote Weitzel:

``The events of the war have placed under the military control of the United States the natural and artificial channels of communication of the Confederate States, their emporiums of commerce and intercourse, and all the places that have any special importance in a military point of view. The armies of the Confederacy are diminished in point of numbers, and debilitated from the want of adequate equipments, transportation, and supplies. The spirit of the people is not broken and the resources of the country allow of a prolonged and embarrassing resistance. Humanity as well as patriotism requires that such a contest, which must be in the end fruitless, should be averted. To do this is the province of enlarged and [wise] statesmanship. The obstacles to an immediate accommodation arise [from the] condition of the Confederate Government and nature of the questions involved [in] the war. The Confederate Government has made no provision [for] the possibility of its failure. Its functionaries don't understand how [they] can negotiate for the subversion or overthrow of their [Government]. All the powers of negotiation are in the hands of the [President], and he is not willing to employ them for such [a] result. The affections and hopes of the people are concentrated [in] the Army, and it will be difficult to bring them [to] take action without the co-operation and counsel of their [brethren] of the army. Thus while reflecting persons are convinced that the [cause] of the Confederate States can't be achieved, and they are predisposed [to] an adjustment, there is a great difficulty in obtaining an [acknowledgment] of this conviction from a legally constituted authority. I [think] that an armistice would obviate much of this difficulty, nor [do] I believe that there would be any danger of a [delay] in securing peace by this temporary cessation of hostilities. The [disbanding] of the armies would be the probable, I may say the [certain], result of such a measure.

``The legislature of Virginia [will or should] be immediately convened. The legislature of South Carolina will meet according [to] adjournment in May.

``The President of the United States in his memorandum left with [me] states three indispensable conditions to peace, which when examined are [all] included in the single one of the restoration of the Union by [the] consent of the seceding States. If his proclamations upon the subject of slavery have the force of law I suppose that it became operative when it was issued, and that rights were vested under it. I do not presume that his revocation of that proclamation could destroy the rights thus acquired.

``The acceptance of the Union involves acceptance of his proclamation, if it be valid as a law. In Virginia the question of limits is one of great concern and interest, and in both States the averages of taxes, the confiscation acts, the bills of pains and penalties, the oaths of allegiance, the right to representation in Congress, and the condition of the slave population, are subjects of importance. I do not very well see how these matters can be adjusted without a very grave, important, and patient inquiry between the parties; that is, the United States and the authorities of the States. I have stated that the regular session of the legislature of South Carolina will be held in May. I would recommend that all the facilities offered in Virginia to the assembling of their legislature be extended to that State, and that it be invited to send commissioners to adjust the questions that are supposed to require adjustment.

``I have made a statement of the practical difficulties that exist in order to encourage you to persevere in the course of patience, moderation, forbearance, and conciliation that has marked your conduct since you entered Richmond. Many of the difficulties will be removed or lessened by such a course, and I do not know of any that will not be aggravated by the adoption of the opposite.'' (OR, I, XLVI, III, 657. Brackets are in the source.)

An even crazier exchange of telegrams between Weitzel and Lincoln concerned Sunday services, and even the prayers being said in Richmond.

A piece of advice when working through this: read the annotation first.

War Department
Washington, D.C., April 12. 1865

``Cypher'' Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major General Weitzel,
Richmond, Va.

I have seen your despatch to Col. Hardie about the matter of prayers. I do not remember hearing prayers spoken of while I was in Richmond; but I have no doubt you have acted in what appeared to you to be the spirit and temper manifested by me while there.

Is there any sign of the rebel Legislature coming together on the understanding of my letter to you? If there is any such sign, inform me what it is; if there is no such sign you may as [well] withdraw the offer. A. LINCOLN


[1] ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 385. The time of this telegram is marked by the clerk as 9 A.M. On April 9, Charles A. Dana had telegraphed Stanton from Richmond: ``On Friday evening I asked Weitzel . . . what he was going to do about opening the churches on Sunday. He answered that all were to be allowed to be opened on condition that no disloyalty should be uttered and that the Episcopal ministers would be required to read the prayer for the President. . . . I told him this was all right. Last evening he sent [George F.] Shepley to me to ask that this order might be relaxed, so that the clergy would only be required not to pray for Jeff. Davis. Shepley said this was what had been determined on by . . . Weitzel before I gave orders to the contrary. I answered I had given no orders at all . . . and that Weitzel must act in the matter entirely on his own judgment. It appears that Judge Campbell thought it very desirable that a loyal prayer should not be exacted, and that Weitzel had consented to it; but when I asked him the question . . . he gave me an answer opposite to the reality. I report the fact, confessing that it shakes a good deal my confidence in Weitzel. . . .'' (OR, I, XLVI, III, 677).

Whereupon Stanton telegraphed Weitzel: ``It has just been reported to this Department that you have, at the instance of Mr. Campbell, consented that service should be performed in the Episcopal churches of Richmond to-day without the usual prayer said in loyal churches of that denomination for the President . . . and that you have even agreed to waive that condition. If such has been your action it is strongly condemned by this Department . . . you are directed immediately to report by telegraph your action in relation to religious services in Richmond . . . and also to state what took place between you and Mr. Campbell on the subject. . . .'' (Ibid., p. 678).

Weitzel replied the next day: ``The orders in relation to religious services in Richmond were verbal, and were applicable alike to all religious denominations. . . . They were, in substance, that no expression would be allowed in any part of the church service . . . which in any way implied a recognition of any other authority than that of the United States. . . . No orders were given as to what would be preached or prayed for, but only as to what would not be permitted. . . . I have had personally but three interviews with Judge Campbell---two of them in the presence of, and the other by the written command of, the President. In neither of these interviews was any question discussed in relation to church or prayers. . . .'' (Ibid., pp. 696-97).

On April 11, James A. Hardie telegraphed Weitzel: ``The Secretary of War directs me to say that your explanation . . . is not satisfactory. . . . The Secretary also directs me to instruct you that officers commanding in Richmond are expected to require from all religious denominations in that city, in regard to their rituals and prayers, no less respect for the President . . . than they practiced toward the rebel chief . . . before he was driven from the capital.'' (Ibid., p. 711).

Weitzel's reply to Lincoln's telegram of April 12 was received at 3 P.M.: ``You spoke of not pressing little points. You said you would not order me, but if you were in my place you would not press them. The passports have gone out for the legislature, and it is common talk that they will come together.'' (Ibid., p. 724).

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 11, 1865

Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these States and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it. - Abraham Lincoln, April 11, 1865

On this day in 1865, Lincoln gave his last public speech to the people of the United (once again) States. He spoke of peace, forgiveness and reconstruction. While all around him, people were celebrating and reveling in the moment, Lincoln was already thinking and planning ahead. He spoke of reintegrating the South, and integrating the African American into American society. He spoke of giving former slaves full citizenship and the ability to vote.

Within days the president would be dead, shot down by an assassin's bullet. We'll never know if Lincoln could have - through his strength of leadership, and the credibility he carried out of the Union victory - overcome racial hatreds and speeded the cause of Civil Rights in this country. We'll never know if he could have held back the looting carpetbaggers from the North who preyed on the devastated South, stoking hatreds and resentments that linger to this day. Lincoln had thought well into the future; but the future he dreamed was apparently not to be his... or ours.

Last Public Address

April 11, 1865

We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing, be overlooked. Their honors must not be parcelled out with others. I myself, was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you; but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine. To Gen. Grant, his skilful officers, and brave men, all belongs. The gallant Navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take active part.

By these recent successes the re-inauguration of the national authority---reconstruction---which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike the case of a war between independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with. No one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with, and mould from, disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and means of reconstruction.

As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I can not properly offer an answer. In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am much censured for some supposed agency in setting up, and seeking to sustain, the new State Government of Louisiana. In this I have done just so much as, and no more than, the public knows. In the Annual Message of Dec. 1863 and accompanying Proclamation, I presented a plan of re-construction (as the phrase goes) which, I promised, if adopted by any State, should be acceptable to, and sustained by, the Executive government of the nation. I distinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable; and I also distinctly protested that the Executive claimed no right to say when, or whether members should be admitted to seats in Congress from such States. This plan was, in advance, submitted to the then Cabinet, and distinctly approved by every member of it. One of them suggested that I should then, and in that connection, apply the Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship for freed-people, and that I should omit the protest against my own power, in regard to the admission of members to Congress; but even he approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of Louisiana. The new constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole State, practically applies the Proclamation to the part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed-people; and it is silent, as it could not well be otherwise, about the admission of members to Congress. So that, as it applies to Louisiana, every member of the Cabinet fully approved the plan. The Message went to Congress, and I received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal; and not a single objection to it, from any professed emancipationist, came to my knowledge, until after the news reached Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move in accordance with it. From about July 1862, I had corresponded with different persons, supposed to be interested, seeking a reconstruction of a State government for Louisiana. When the Message of 1863, with the plan before mentioned, reached New-Orleans, Gen. Banks wrote me that he was confident the people, with his military co-operation, would reconstruct, substantially on that plan. I wrote him, and some of them to try it; they tried it, and the result is known. Such only has been my agency in getting up the Louisiana government. As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as before stated. But, as had promises are better broken than kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise, and break it, whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse to the public interest. But I have not yet been so convinced.

I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed on the question whether the seceded States, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps, add astonishment to his regret, were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring to make that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression upon it. As appears to me that question has not been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad, as the basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all---a merely pernicious abstraction.

We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper practical relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier, to do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these states have even been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these states and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it.

The amount of constituency, so to to [sic] speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is ``Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?'' ``Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State Government?''

Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to the Union, and to perpetual freedom in the state---committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the nation wants---and they ask the nations recognition, and it's assistance to make good their committal. Now, if we reject, and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We in effect say to the white men ``You are worthless, or worse---we will neither help you, nor be helped by you.'' To the blacks we say ``This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how.'' If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have, so far, been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize, and sustain the new government of Louisiana the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts, and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it? Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned; while a ratification by three fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.

I repeat the question. ``Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government?

What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each state; and such important and sudden changes occur in the same state; and, withal, so new and unprecedented is the whole case, that no exclusive, and inflexible plan can safely be prescribed as to details and colatterals. Such exclusive, and inflexible plan, would surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

In the present ``situation'' as the phrase goes, it may be my duty to make some new announcement to the people of the South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act, when satisfied that action will be proper.


[1] AD-P, ISLA. On ← April 11, Salmon P. Chase had written Lincoln at length about reconstruction:

``I am very anxious about the future: and most about the principles which are to govern reconstruction for as these principles are sound or unsound so will be the work & its results. . . .

``And first as to Virginia.

``By the action of every branch of the Government we are committed to the recognition & maintenance of the State organization of which Governor Pierpont is the head. You know all the facts. . . . There will be a pressure for the recognition of the rebel organization on condition of profession of loyalty. It will be far easier and wiser, in my judgment, to stand by the loyal organization already recognized.

``And next as to the other rebel States:

``The easiest & safest way seems to me to be the enrollment of the loyal citizens without regard to complexion and encouragement & support to them in the reorganization of State Governments under constitutions securing suffrage to all citizens. . . . This you know has long been my opinion. . . .

``This way is recommended by its simplicity, facility & above all, justice. It will be, hereafter, counted equally a crime & a folly if the colored loyalists of the rebel states shall be left to the control of restored rebels, not likely, in that case, to be either wise or just, until taught both wisdom and justice by new calamities.

``The application of this principle to Louisiana is made somewhat difficult by the organization which has already taken place: but happily the Constitution enables the Legislature to extend the right of suffrage. . . .

``The same result can be assured in Arkansas by an amendment of the state constitution; or what would be better, I think, by a new Convention . . . without distinction of color. To all the other states the general principle may be easily applied. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).

On the morning after Lincoln's speech, Chase wrote again:

``The American of this morning contains your speech of last evening. Seeing that you say something on the subject of my letter to you yesterday---reconstruction---, & refer, though without naming me, to the suggestions I made in relation to the Amnesty Proclamation, when you brought it before the Heads of Departments, I will ask your permission to add some observations to what I have already written.

``I recollect the suggestions you mention; my impression is that they were in writing. There was another which you do not mention and which, I think, was not in writing. It is distinct in my memory; though doubtless forgotten by you. It was an objection to the restriction of participation in reorganization to persons having the qualifications of voters under the laws of their several states just before rebellion.

``Ever since questions of reconstruction have been talked about, it has been my opinion that the colored loyalists ought to be allowed to participate in it and it was because of this opinion that I was anxious to have this question left open. I did not however say much about the restriction. I was the only one who expressed a wish for its omission; & I did not desire to seem pertinacious.

``You will remember, doubtless, that the first order ever issued for enrollment with a view to reconstruction went to General Shepley & directed the enrollment of all loyal citizens; and I suppose that, since the opinion of Attorney General Bates, no one, connected with your administration, has questioned the citizenship of free colored men more than that of free white men. The restriction in the amnesty proclamation operated as a revocation of the order to General Shepley:---but, as I understood you not to be wedded to any particular plan of reconstruction, I hoped & believed that reflection & observation would probably satisfy you that the restriction should not be adhered to.

``I fully sympathized with your desire for the restoration of the Union by the change of rebel slave States into Union free States; and was willing, if I could not get exactly the plan I thought best, to take the plan you thought best, & to trust the future for modifications. I welcomed, therefore, with joy the prospects of good results from the cooperation of General Banks with the free state men of Louisiana. I think General Banks' error, & I have said so to him, was in not acting through instead of over the Free State Committee. This Committee had already shown itself disposed to a degree of liberality towards the colored people quite remarkable at that time. They had admitted delegates from the creole colored population into their free State Convention, & had evinced a readiness to admit intelligent colored citizens of that class to the rights of suffrage. I have no doubt that great & satisfactory progress would have been made in the same direction had not the work been taken out of their hands. This created the impression that the advocates of general suffrage were to be treated with disfavor by the representatives of the Government. Discouragement & disinterest were the natural consequences.

``For one I was glad of all the good that was done; and, naturally, wanted more. So when I came to Washington last winter I saw Gen Banks: and, being now more deeply than ever persuaded of the necessity of universal suffrage, I begged him to write himself & to induce the Senators & Representatives elect from Louisiana to write to members of the Legislature and urge them to exercise their power under the constitution by passing an act extending suffrage to colored citizens. I knew that many of our best men in and out of Congress had become thoroughly convinced of the impolicy and injustice of allowing representation in Congress to States which had been in rebellion and were not yet prepared to concede equal political rights to all loyal citizens. They felt that if such representation should be allowed & such states reinstated in all their former rights as loyal members of the Union, the colored population would be practically abandoned to the disposition of the white population, with every probability against them; and this, they believed would be equally unjust & dangerous.

``I shared their sentiment & was therefore extremely desirous that General Banks should take the action I urged upon him. I thought indeed that he concurred, mainly, in my views, & would to some extent at least act upon them. I must have been mistaken, for I never heard that he did anything in that direction.

``I know you attach much importance to the admission of Louisiana, or rather to the recognition of her right to representation in Congress as a loyal State in the Union. If I am not misinformed there is nothing in the way except the indisposition of her Legislature to give satisfactory proof of loyalty by a sufficient guaranty of safety & justice to colored citizens through the extension to loyal colored men of the right of suffrage. Why not, then, as almost every loyal man concurs with you as to the desirableness of that recognition, take the shortest road to it by causing every proper representation to be made to the Louisiana Legislature of the importance of such extension.

``I most earnestly wish you could have read the New Orleans papers for the last few months. Your duties have not allowed it. I have read them a good deal---quite enough to be satisfied that, if you had read what I have, your feelings of humanity & justice would not let you rest till all loyalists are made equal in the right of self protection by suffrage.

``Once I should have been, if not satisfied, reasonably contented by suffrage for the more intelligent & for those who have been soldiers; now I am convinced that universal suffrage is demanded by sound policy and impartial justice alike.

``I have written too much already & will not trouble you with my reasons for this conclusion. I shall return to Washington in a day or two & perhaps it will not be disagreeable to you to have the whole subject talked over. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).

Labels: , ,