Abraham Lincoln Papers
Document: Abraham Lincoln, Memorandum for Cabinet, [July 14, 1864]1
1 Lincoln prepared this memorandum for his cabinet, though there is no evidence that he actually read it to them. Gen. Halleck had protested to Secretary of War Stanton that Postmaster General Mongomery Blair had unfairly criticized the military officers defending Washington from the attack by the Confederate forces under Gen. Jubal Early. Early’s troops had burned Blair’s house in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, before retreating, and Blair was reported as saying that the officers’ inability to prevent this was a “disgrace.” Halleck’s rejoinder was that “it is due to the honor of the accused that the slanderer should be dismissed from the cabinet.” Lincoln would not consider dismissing Blair, telling Stanton that “I do not consider what may have been hastily said in a moment of vexation at so severe a loss, is sufficient ground for so grave a step.” See Henry W. Halleck to Edwin M. Stanton, July 13, 1864, Edwin M. Stanton to Abraham Lincoln, July 14, 1864 and Lincoln to Stanton, July 14, 1864.
I must myself be the judge, how long to retain in, and when to remove any of you from, his position. It would greatly pain me to discover any of you endeavoring to procure anothers removal, or, in any way to prejudice him before the public. Such endeavor would be a wrong to me; and much worse, a wrong to the country. My wish is that on this subject, no remark be made, nor question asked, by any of you, here or elsewhere, now or hereafter--
Document: James R. Gilmore to Abraham Lincoln, July 21, 1864
New York July 21/64
My dear Mr Lincoln,
On my way home (Boston) this morning, I was very much surprised and mortified to see the absurd and ridiculous reports of Col Jaquess1 and my visit to Richmond in the Phila. Enquirer and N.Y. Times.2 I assure you I had no hand or part in it, nor any idea of any such publication being about to be made. Col Jaquess, though I was with him till 5 o’clock yesterday PM. said nothing to me of any intentions to make such a statement. Learning at Gen’l Butler’s that the N.Y. Herald was about to publish a statement Peace Comsrs had passed into the Rebel lines. I consulted with Jaquess and we, together, authorised the Tribune reporter to make the very modest statement in that paper of this morning, intending thereby to head off the Herald statement. There I supposed the matter was to end, till such time as it was thought advisable to publish what Davis3 said, in order to show that any talk of peace was delusive.
1 James F. Jaquess
2 Gilmore met Col. Jaquess in 1863, and became involved in his plan to undertake a peace mission to Richmond. There are numerous pieces of correspondence in this collection relating to Jaquess’ scheme and its aftermath.
3 Confederate President Jefferson Davis
This ridiculous statement having been made, it strikes me it is best to prepare an exact account of the trip and having have it published in the next Atlantic Monthly -- first submitting it to you. Such a paper I will get ready and forward to you in a few days, unless in the mean time you request to the contrary--
Yours very Truly,
J. R. Gilmore
Document: Schuyler Colfax to Abraham Lincoln, July 25, 1864
South Bend Ind, July 25. 1864.
My dear Sir,
I have been in various Counties in Northern Indiana the past ten days, and have every where been told that I must write you if the State is to be saved this fall, the soldiers of Indiana must be allowed to come home to vote.1 All the Northern States, save the hopeless one of New Jersey, seem to be either safe politically, or their soldiers are allowed to vote in the field, except Indiana & Illinois. As in 1856 & 1860, the October elections may decide the Presidential election, by deciding such States as New York &c. Pennsylvania & Indiana are the two doubtful States that vote in October. Both carried then, the contest ends. The soldiers of Pennsylvania can vote in the field. Indiana’s cannot. And, if you desire to strengthen the Army, what better means than to allow the Indiana Regiments to return home to recruit! They can do it more successfully than all other agencies; & their moral power for the Right will be very great, in addition to their votes.
1 In September, Lincoln asked General Sherman to do what he could to see that as many of Indiana’s soldiers as possible were furloughed so they would be able to go home to vote. Several thousand were furloughed. See Lincoln to Sherman, September 19, 1864.
Another point has been strongly suggested. If the draft occurs in September, and results as a much smaller draft did in 1862, its effect may be disastrous.2 If however, it happens to be pending at the October election, that fact will keep from the polls thousands of hostile Southern refugees, unnaturalized foreigners &c, who will fear, and justly, that their illegal voting will add their names to those in the wheel.
2 In July, Lincoln had called for 500,000 more volunteers. If the quota was not met by September 5, a draft was to be instituted. See Collected Works, VII, 448-49.
The correspondence with the Niagara Falls Rebel emissaries has of course attracted much attention.3 The terms you propose are exactly correct; but of course the Copperhead Press pervert the facts by insisting that the War is to be continued solely for the Negro. Before the draft comes, might it not be well to specify, if negotiations continue, with more minuteness of detail. Your mind of course has grasped all the legislation on the subject, of the past few years. Slavery abolished in the District of Columbia, & Territories. Rebel property confiscated, and the slaves of rebels declared free. The families of all slave soldiers enfranchised forever. No person allowed to sit as Senator, Representative &c, who cannot swear he has not voluntarily participated in the Rebellion. The coastwise Slave Trade prohibited. All the real estate of the disloyal States virtually forfeited for non payment of Direct Tax by Doolittle’s4 Tax bill. With this, & much more legislation on the statute book, to proffer them, as an initiative, -- laying down their arms -- the integrity of the Union -- & obedience to the Constitution & all the laws of the land -- would spike the batteries of enemies North as well as South. I think Congress erred in not passing a law, affirming your Emancipation Proclamation, which would have then brought it also within the scope of “the laws”; but if the Supreme Court affirms it, it’s a fixed fact just as strongly without it. But the laws I have alluded to, with the Abolition action of Arkansas & Louisiana, through their Conventions,5 seem to destroy Slavery almost as effectively as a promise by Rebel Commissioners could bring about.
3 Numerous Confederate agents in Canada were, at this time, making contact with Peace Democrats as well as Radical Republicans in the North, both with a view to peace and the defeat of Lincoln in November. See William C. Jewett to Horace Greeley, July 5, 1864; Greeley to Lincoln, July 7, 1864, and Lincoln’s response of July 9.
4 James R. Doolittle
5 Both Union-occupied states adopted new constitutions in 1864 which provided for the emancipation of slaves.
Pardon these suggestions. I have conversed with so many leading men about the present situation, I felt impressed to send you this summing-up of their views.
Yrs very truly
Document: James R. Gilmore to Abraham Lincoln, August 3, 1864
No 37 West Cedar St. Boston,
Aug 3. 1864
My dear Mr Lincoln;
I send you herewith, as promised, proof of “Our Visit to Richmond” for the next “Atlantic”1
1 Gilmore’s article appeared under the pseudonym “Edmund Kirke” in the September 1864 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. The article recounted his visit to Richmond with Col. James F. Jaquess. See Gilmore to Lincoln, July 21, 1864, as well as numerous other letters in this collection.
If you wish any part of it altered, suppressed, or added to, please advise me by the 7th inst. and I will govern myself by your wishes. If I do not hear from you, I shall conclude it is not objectionable and will let it go to press.
very respy & truly
J. R. Gilmore.
Document: John McMahon to Abraham Lincoln, August 5, 1864
The following Telegram received at Washington, 825 P.M. Aug 5 1864.
From Harmbrook Bradford Co Pa Aug 5 1864
The following lines will give you to understand what is justice & what is truth to all men
My Dear Sir I hope you will be kind enough to pay attention to these few lines
I am yours &c
Equal Rights & Justice to all white men in the United States forever-- White men is in Class number one & black men is in Class number two & must be governed by white men forever1
1 See John G. Nicolay to McMahon, August 6, 1864.
Document: John G. Nicolay to John McMahon, August 6, 1864
Washington, August 6th, 1864.
The President has received yours of yesterday and is kindly paying attention to it.1 As it is my business to assist him whenever I can, I will thank you to inform me, for his use, whether you are either a white man or a black one, because in either case you cannot be regarded as an entirely impartial judge. It may be that you belong to a third or fourth class of yellow or red men, in which case the impartiality of your judgment would be more apparent.
1 See McMahon to Lincoln, August 5, 1864.
Your obt Servt
(signed) Jno G Nicolay
Document: John D. Defrees to Benjamin F. Wade, August 7, 1864
Washington, Aug. 7 1864
Either Mr. Lincoln or a Copperhead must be the next President.
If the latter, an ignomenious peace -- a recognition of the Southern Confederacy, or the adoption of the Constitution of the Confederacy by all the States, will certainly follow.
Of course, you are not in favor of thus ending the present struggle for the existence of the nation; and yet, the address signed by Winter Davis1 and yourself is so construed and will be so used by those who wish the electin of a Copperhead.2
1 Henry Winter Davis
2 On August 5 the New York Tribune published the Wade-Davis manifesto, which condemned Lincoln’s pocket veto of their bill establishing a congressional plan of reconstruction.
Granted, if you please, that Mr. Lincoln ought to have signed the approved the reconstruction law, is his neglect to do so a sufficient reason for making war upon him, and thus lessen his chances for re-election.
In this hour of his the country’s greatest peril much should be overlooked by all thoes who desire that it should live.
At the commencement of the rebellion, and for some time afterwards, Mr. Lincoln hesitated as to the proper course to be pursued by the government towards slavery, and the use of Slaves as Soldiers. Union men were decided divided on these questions. At length he became convinced that our cause would be strengthened by their liberation, as far as possible, and their use in our armies -- and hence his proclamation.
More of our public men who then entertained what were called ul ultra views on the Slavery question, were applauded his act -- whilst those opposed to them, quietly ac acquiesed in it.
Is it not a little strange that most of the opposition to Mr. Lincoln, among Union men, is to be found among the very men who were loudest in their accomendations of the proclamation of freedom, as they called it?
Mr. Lincoln can be re-elected, -- but, it will require the United effort of all those who do not wish to see the restoration of the slave power in more than its former hideousness.
It is time now for the pioneer in the anti-slavery movement above all others, now to shrink from sustaining the President merely be cause, in all things, they do not agree with him.
The address to which I refer will do harm, unless you take a very early occasion, in a speech or letter, to say, that you mean to support Mr. L, notwithstanding his difference with you about the re-construction law -- and, as a friend, I do wish you may do so.
Yours & &
J. D. D.
Aug. 7 -- 1864
My dear sir.
I send you a copy of a letter sent by me to Mr. Wade to-day.
Please read it to the President, if you think proper.
Document: George B. Senter to John G. Nicolay, August 10, 18641
1 George B. Senter was mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland Ohio Aug 10th 1864
My dear Sir.
My engagements are so pressing that I cannot leave home at present or I should immediatly visit Washington, but I feel it my duty to give you my views of the state of things in Ohio. I have at the suggestion of our Committee been through Ohio, Michigan Ind Ills & Iowa, & must say our matters drag a little, & it is now high time for us to go to work in earnest. Of course the warm friends of Mr Chase2 are many of them sure & will not be very efficient, but still we may count on their support.
2 Salmon P. Chase
But the onslaught that Mr Wade3 has made on the President is a more serious matter. I am satisfied that he means if possible to defeat Mr Lincoln, I do not know that you are aware that Mr Wade confidently expected the nomination of Chicago in 60. The people generally of this section preferd Seward,4 but in view of the fact that Mr Chase was an Ohio Man it was felt that he ought to have the vote of Ohio, There was however a small collection that surrunded Mr Wade & had influenced his imagination with the belief that in the contest between Seward & Chase he could be nominated-- Indeed quite a congressional force was organized for him-- In order to get an entry into the convention these schemers according to the locality declarred themselves to be for Chase or Seward, as they deemed the chances bad for election delegates. A few succeeded in getting to be delegates & I personlly know that Wade & his set confidentaly expected the nomination & no man in the whole country was more chagrined than Mr Wade at the nomination of Mr Lincoln. He next tried to get a tool of his into the cabinet, failing in that he took good care that his creatures should have all the patronage, & no more miserable set ever had place than were appointed under his control in Ohio.
3 Benjamin F. Wade. The “onslaught” is probably a reference to the Wade-Davis manifesto which appeared in the press on August 5. The manifesto was a condemnation of Lincoln’s pocket veto of the Wade-Davis bill, establishing a Congressional plan for reconstruction.
4 William H. Seward
All the Congressman for Ohio feared him and every public place of unfortunate in Northern Ohio is filled with his set. They had done nothing for the cause, but in the main were a mere set of [fawners?] about him & were either fools or knaves, the latter set predominating. Mr Wade & all his set were desperatley hostile to the nomination of Mr Lincoln & only gave a sham preferance, Well judging that if Mr Lincoln were out of the way that Mr Chases friends would succeed as against them, and this was only more objectionable as Mr Chase was aware of his, Wades, true feelings-- The men who had done the work of the Republican party in days of adversity had no chance under Mr Lincolns appointments-- The only consideration that goverened Mr Wade -- and he controlled every thing except a few made appointments of Mr Chase -- was -- is he devoted to me and was he in favor of my nomination. Men who could not have secured the popular vote for Hog Reeves,5 were given the most important places and old & tried workers were left in the cold-- But the great body of the party have stood by Mr Lincoln and have demanded his renomination despite these things, knowing that he could not devote his personal attention to the distribution of favors, and that they would endure and wait for truth to vindicate itself-- One great drawback to the cause now is that the same set of office holders will be [persuaded?] still trusting that at the expiration of four years, new appointments will be made they have waited with patience.
5 A “hog reeve” was a town official charged with rounding up stray hogs and turning them over to the pound keeper, who fed them until they were claimed by the owner.
But now that Mr Wade has taken open ground of hostility to Mr Lincoln, it is hoped we may have speedy relief-- Mr Wade could never have written such a document as the protest-- Its subtle sophistry is Winter Davis,6 but the Malignity is Wades. If the President will permit such treason in the Camp, we might as well lay down our arms and surrender. I have seen no Copperhead attack half to malignant false, or mean as the assault of Wade & Davis, and unless the President takes hold of the matter & shows Mr Wade that he does not fear him, he might as well decline to run.
6 Henry Winter Davis
Every man who holds his appointment under Wade ought to be removed at once-- It will not only bring him to terms, but will exert a most salutary influence-- Indeed new appointments could be made that would help the cause powerfully-- There is neither ability zeal, or material aid to be had from a single appointee that Wade has made And all that might be had by the exercise of Judicious patronage.
We need also a press here devoted to the cause and that we can entirly control, which we can have if we will. I send you a copy of the Cleveland Herald with some articles marked-- We might have the entire control of this sheet-- And it has the largest circulation of any paper in the State, but it needs some attention. I must further add, unless we can head off this attack of Wade’s, the struggle will be doubtful. Let me hear from you immediately and I hope to be able in a short time to come to Washington
I am Very Truly
Geo B. Senter
Document: Daniel W. Wise to John G. Nicolay, August 17, 1864
Boston, Aug. 17 1864.
By this mail I send you a copy of the next “Campaign Document”, entitled “Character & Public Services of Abraham Lincoln”,1 wh. we have gotten up for the coming campaign with the view of an extensive circulation-- I have already interested prominent parties in it, & have no doubt but that it will be the means of much good. I think that the steel engraving likeness of the president, which it contains, is by far the best ever made of him--
1 This 76-page book was authored by William M. Thayer, and finally entitled, The Character and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.
By your position & acquaintance can you influence any party or club, or assn. to interest themselves in its general distribution
If so, you might put them in direct communication with me--
I am desirous to see the President reelected, & am working steadily & earnestly for that purpose-- As I have no office or favor to ask, it is wholly unselfish on my part--
I also mail a copy of the “Document” to the President, which please do me the favor to see that he gets--
Yours very Truly
Danl. W. Wise.
Document: Abraham Lincoln, Letter to The Shakers, August 8, 1864 [Copy in John Hay’s Hand]1
1 Lincoln was apparently the recipient of a chair made and sent by a Shaker community. His secretary, John Hay, may well have drafted this acknowledgement, but nothing further is known about this matter.
Washington; August 8, 1864.
My good friends
I wish to express to you my cordial thanks for the very comfortable chair you sent me some time since and to tell you how gratefully I appreciate the kindness which prompted the present.
At the same time And I must beg that you will pardon the length of time that, through an oversight in my office, has elapsed without an acknowledgment of your kindne present kindness.
I am very truly
Yr. friend & Servt
Document: Cuthbert Bullitt to John G. Nicolay and John Hay, August 20, 1864
New Orleans Augt 20th 64
Knowing how our worthy President;s pressed for time to Read the communications presented him, induces me to ask your polite attention to the enclosed communication, in reply to the attack of Thos. J Durant.1
1 Bullitt enclosed an article from the August 19, 1864 edition of The Daily True Delta, responding to a published letter of Durant which criticized Lincoln for vetoing the Wade-Davis bill.
It is useless to tell you that the protest of Winter Davis & Ben Wade emanates from Durant or rather it is a joint partnership concern--2
2 Henry Winter Davis and Benjamin F. Wade published, in the August 5 edition of the New York Tribune, a manifesto which condemned Lincoln’s pocket veto of their bill establishing a congressional plan of reconstruction.
I wish to assist in overthrowing this trio, especially Mr Durant, who with his myrmidons in office here, (all Chase3 men) are determined to defeat Mr Lincoln -- & there is no more affectual mode of doing it, than to publish Mr Durants letter to me in July 1862, which I forwarded to the President & which he answered,4 & is now in my possession, it is by the by one of the best letters ever written by Mr Lincoln, & ought to be presented to the public at this time--
3 Salmon P. Chase
4 Durant’s letter to Bullitt, criticizing administration policies in Louisiana is not in this collection, but Lincoln’s July 28 response to Bullitt is.
this letter of Mr Durant is some several pages long, in which he complains bitterly of the course pursued by the President, the Administration & the military, in fact his entire position, the reverse of what it is now,
We have to fight the enemy here, every foot of the ground, untill the election is over, & though Mr Lincolns friends are somewhat disapointed in his not turning his enemies out of office we do not despair--
If possible send Mr Durants letter by return mail as it will serve the cause of Mr Lincoln
Your Very Obt Servt
Document: Abraham Lincoln to Timothy P. Andrews, September 3, [Copy in a Secretarial Hand]1
1 Edward J. Mallett had already been named an official paymaster of volunteers in August of 1863, and he was, as requested, assigned to New York City. The wording of the recipient’s copy, which is in Lincoln’s autograph, is different from this file copy. See Collected Works, VI, 430.
Copy of letter on the appt of Gen Mallett
Septr 3d 186422
2 The date as originally written on this copy was “1864.” It was changed to “1862,” but the correct date is apparently 1863. See Collected Works, VI, 430.
I have to request that you will grant the application of Major Mallett, and assign him to duty in New York; if not inconsistent with, or injurious to the public service
Document: Horace Greeley to John G. Nicolay, August 21, 1864
New York, Aug. 21, 1864.
My dear sir:
Say to the President that another Envoy, not from Jeff. Davis, but from the heart of the Confederacy and [looking?] to represent its Union element,1 has just arrived here, and that I have very high hopes that some good may come of R’s mission2 in the way of dividing if not destroying the confederacy. I pray that he may, when be visits Washington, be so received as to strengthen the Unionists of the South.
1 The identity of this person is not known.
2 Lincoln conferred with Henry J. Raymond, editor of the New York Times, about a possible mission to Jefferson Davis to determine whether or not a peace conference could be arranged. No such mission took place. See Raymond to Lincoln, August 22, 1864; and Lincoln to Raymond, August 24, 1864.
Document: John G. Nicolay to William T. Otto, August 22, 18641
1 Otto was Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
Washington, Aug. 22, 1864.
My dear Sir:
In accordance with our conversation of today, I will be obliged if you will have an appointment made out for Edward D. Neill of Minnesota to be Secretary to the President to sign Land Patents.2
2 Neill replaced William O. Stoddard.
I enclose the resignation of Mr. Neill as a second class clerk in your Department, and respectfully ask that you appoint Charles H. Philbrick,3 of Illinois, to fill this vacancy, as soon as he shall arrive here. I have written him today to come.
3 Philbrick replaced Nicolay as assistant to the Illinois Secretary of State in 1860, and in 1864 became assistant to Nicolay and Hay in the White House.
Your obt Servt
Document: John G. Nicolay to Horace Greeley, August 23, 1864
Washington, Aug. 23, 1864.
I will be very glad to see the friend whom you mention in your note of the 21st inst., which is just received. Please give him a letter of introduction to me.1
1 See Greeley to Nicolay, August 21, 1864.
Jno. G. Nicolay
Document: William Dorsheimer to Abraham Lincoln, August 24, 18641
1 Dorsheimer was a Buffalo, New York attorney, who had previously served as an aide to Gen. John C. Fremont.
Buffalo, Aug 24 1864.
From a conversation with Mr. John T. Bush a respectable citizen living at Niagara Falls, and who is well known to Mr. Seward2 I learn that a good result may be obtained by making the Messrs Clay & Halcombe3 a statement of the correspondence between yourself and Mr. Greeley which you showed to me.4 If you think it proper I will explain to those gentlemen the essential points -- to wit your instruction to Mr. Greeley to read to them the letters which had passed between you and him and the misunderstanding which was produced by this neglect to read. As your conversation with me was quite unreserved I do not feel at liberty to report any portion of it without your permission.
2 William H. Seward
3 Clement C. Clay and James P. Holcombe were two of several Confederate representatives in Canada at this time who were making contact with Northern Peace Democrats and Radical Republicans in the United States.
4 Several letters that passed between Lincoln and Greeley regarding the abortive peace conference at Niagara Falls are in the collection. See especially, Greeley to Lincoln, July 7, 1864; and Lincoln to Greeley, July 9, 1864.
During the interview I had with you, you told me that you knew Mr. Davis5 would not entertain a proposition for peace on the basis of the Union. I am led to believe that Messrs Clay & Halcombe are willing to furnish to me the means of removing this impression from your mind. You will remember that you expressed to me the strongest desire to have such a proposition made by Mr. Davis. If I can have your consent to make the attempt I think I can procure through Messrs Clay & Holcombe a satisfactory assurance that Mr Davis is willing to open negotiations by conceding the reestablishment of the Union.
5 Jefferson Davis
I do not ask you to give me any official character but merely your permission to explain the correspondence above mentioned to them as you explained it to me, And also to tell them that you do not believe Mr Davis is willing to return to the Union.
A telegraphic despatch from you saying “you may do so” will answer the purpose I have in view. My reason for asking for a telegraphic reply is that I should prefer to go to Niagara next Saturday.6
6 See John G. Nicolay to William Dorsheimer, August 27, 1864.
I am confident that in addressing you in this way I lay myself open to the imputation of being impertinent and offensive and I have written to you in consequence of the strong and earnest representations which have been made to me.
Document: John G. Nicolay to William Dorsheimer, August 27, 18641
1 Dorsheimer was a Buffalo, New York attorney, who had previously served as an aide to Gen. John C. Fremont.
Washington, Aug 27, 1864.
Your letter of the 24th inst. was not received until this morning2 The President directs me to Thank you for your kind offer, and suggestion, but thinks the step you propose had better not be taken, because the danger of