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  • 1900
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and substance, was about this: ‘I would to God that such Democracy as you folks here in Egypt have were not only almost, but altogether, shaken out of, not only you, but all that heard me this day, and that you would all join in assisting in shaking off the shackles of the bondmen by all legitimate means, so that this country may be made free as the good Lord intended it.'”

Said Ficklin in rejoinder: “Lincoln, I remember of reading somewhere in the same book from which you get your Agrippa story, that Paul, whom you seem to desire to personate, admonished all servants (slaves) to be obedient to them that are their masters according to the flesh, in fear and trembling.

“It would seem that neither our Savior nor Paul saw the iniquity of slavery as you and your party do. But you must not think that where you fail by argument to convince an old friend like myself and win him over to your heterodox abolition opinions, you are justified in resorting to violence such as you practiced on me to-day.

“Why, I never had such a shaking up in the whole course of my life. Recollect that that good old book that you quote from somewhere says in effect this: ‘Woe be unto him who goeth to Egypt for help, for he shall fall. The holpen shall fall, and they shall all fall together.'”


Lincoln’s quarrel with Shields was his last personal encounter. In later years it became his duty to give an official reprimand to a young officer who had been court-martialed for a quarrel with one of his associates. The reprimand is probably the gentlest on record:

“Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones, though clearly your own.

“Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.”


Some one came to the President with a story about a plot to accomplish some mischief in the Government. Lincoln listened to what was a very superficial and ill-formed story, and then said: “There is one thing that I have learned, and that you have not. It is only one word–‘thorough.'”

Then, bringing his hand down on the table with a thump to emphasize his meaning, he added, “thorough!”


Being in Washington one day, the Rev. Robert Collyer thought he’d take a look around. In passing through the grounds surrounding the White House, he cast a glance toward the Presidential residence, and was astonished to see three pairs of feet resting on the ledge of an open window in one of the apartments of the second story. The divine paused for a moment, calmly surveyed the unique spectacle, and then resumed his walk toward the War Department.

Seeing a laborer at work not far from the Executive Mansion, Mr. Collyer asked him what it all meant. To whom did the feet belong, and, particularly, the mammoth ones? “You old fool,” answered the workman, “that’s the Cabinet, which is a-settin’, an’ them thar big feet belongs to ‘Old Abe.'”


A soldier tells the following story of an attempt upon the life of
Mr. Lincoln “One night I was doing sentinel duty at the entrance to the Soldiers’ Home. This was about the middle of August, 1864. About eleven o’clock I heard a rifle shot, in the direction of the city, and shortly afterwards I heard approaching hoof-beats. In two or three minutes a horse came dashing up. I recognized the belated President. The President was bareheaded. The President simply thought that his horse had taken fright at the discharge of the firearms.

“On going back to the place where the shot had been heard, we found the President’s hat. It was a plain silk hat, and upon examination we discovered a bullet hole through the crown.

“The next day, upon receiving the hat, the President remarked that it was made by some foolish marksman, and was not intended for him; but added that he wished nothing said about the matter.

“The President said, philosophically: ‘I long ago made up my mind that if anybody wants to kill me, he will do it. Besides, in this case, it seems to me, the man who would succeed me would be just as objectionable to my enemies–if I have any.’

“One dark night, as he was going out with a friend, he took along a heavy cane, remarking, good-naturedly: ‘Mother (Mrs. Lincoln) has got a notion into her head that I shall be assassinated, and to please her I take a cane when I go over to the War Department at night–when I don’t forget it.'”


Two ladies from Tennessee called at the White House one day and begged Mr. Lincoln to release their husbands, who were rebel prisoners at Johnson’s Island. One of the fair petitioners urged as a reason for the liberation of her husband that he was a very religious man, and rang the changes on this pious plea.

“Madam,” said Mr. Lincoln, “you say your husband is a religious man. Perhaps I am not a good judge of such matters, but in my opinion the religion that makes men rebel and fight against their government is not the genuine article; nor is the religion the right sort which reconciles them to the idea of eating their bread in the sweat of other men’s faces. It is not the kind to get to heaven on.”

Later, however, the order of release was made, President Lincoln remarking, with impressive solemnity, that he would expect the ladies to subdue the rebellious spirit of their husbands, and to that end he thought it would be well to reform their religion. “True patriotism,” said he, “is better than the wrong kind of piety.”


During the Presidential campaign of 1864 much ill-feeling was displayed by the opposition to President Lincoln. The Democratic managers issued posters of large dimensions, picturing the Washington Administration as one determined to rule or ruin the country, while the only salvation for the United States was the election of McClellan.

We reproduce one of these 1864 campaign posters on this page, the title of which is, “The True Issue; or ‘That’s What’s the Matter.'”

The dominant idea or purpose of the cartoon-poster was to demonstrate McClellan’s availability. Lincoln, the Abolitionist, and Davis, the Secessionist, are pictured as bigots of the worst sort, who were determined that peace should not be restored to the distracted country, except upon the lines laid down by them. McClellan, the patriotic peacemaker, is shown as the man who believed in the preservation of the Union above all things–a man who had no fads nor vagaries.

This peacemaker, McClellan, standing upon “the War-is-a-failure” platform, is portrayed as a military chieftain, who would stand no nonsense; who would compel Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Davis to cease their quarreling; who would order the soldiers on both sides to quit their blood-letting and send the combatants back to the farm, workshop and counting-house; and the man whose election would restore order out of chaos, and make everything bright and lovely.


One day when President Lincoln was receiving callers a buxom Irish woman came into the office, and, standing before the President, with her hands on her hips, said:

“Mr. Lincoln, can’t I sell apples on the railroad?”

President Lincoln replied: “Certainly, madam, you can sell all you wish.”

“But,” she said, “you must give me a pass, or the soldiers will not let me.”

President Lincoln then wrote a few lines and gave them to her.

“Thank you, sir; God bless you!” she exclaimed as she departed joyfully.


It was in the spring of 1830 that “Abe” Lincoln, “wearing a jean jacket, shrunken buckskin trousers, a coonskin cap, and driving an ox-team,” became a citizen of Illinois. He was physically and mentally equipped for pioneer work. His first desire was to obtain a new and decent suit of clothes, but, as he had no money, he was glad to arrange with Nancy Miller to make him a pair of trousers, he to split four hundred fence rails for each yard of cloth–fourteen hundred rails in all. “Abe” got the clothes after awhile.

It was three miles from his father’s cabin to her wood-lot, where he made the forest ring with the sound of his ax. “Abe” had helped his father plow fifteen acres of land, and split enough rails to fence it, and he then helped to plow fifty acres for another settler.


Whenever the people of Lincoln’s neighborhood engaged in dispute; whenever a bet was to be decided; when they differed on points of religion or politics; when they wanted to get out of trouble, or desired advice regarding anything on the earth, below it, above it, or under the sea, they went to “Abe.”

Two fellows, after a hot dispute lasting some hours, over the problem as to how long a man’s legs should be in proportion to the size of his body, stamped into Lincoln’s office one day and put the question to him.

Lincoln listened gravely to the arguments advanced by both contestants, spent some time in “reflecting” upon the matter, and then, turning around in his chair and facing the disputants, delivered his opinion with all the gravity of a judge sentencing a fellow-being to death.

“This question has been a source of controversy,” he said, slowly and deliberately, “for untold ages, and it is about time it should be definitely decided. It has led to bloodshed in the past, and there is no reason to suppose it will not lead to the same in the future.

“After much thought and consideration, not to mention mental worry and anxiety, it is my opinion, all side issues being swept aside, that a man’s lower limbs, in order to preserve harmony of proportion, should be at least long enough to reach from his body to the ground.”


A Union officer in conversation one day told this story:

“The first week I was with my command there were twenty-four deserters sentenced by court-martial to be shot, and the warrants for their execution were sent to the President to be signed. He refused.

“I went to Washington and had an interview. I said:

“‘Mr. President, unless these men are made an example of, the army itself is in danger. Mercy to the few is cruelty to the many.’

“He replied: ‘Mr. General, there are already too many weeping widows in the United States. For God’s sake, don’t ask me to add to the number, for I won’t do it.'”


In the early stages of the war, after several battles had been fought, Union troops seized a church in Alexandria, Va., and used it as a hospital.

A prominent lady of the congregation went to Washington to see Mr. Lincoln and try to get an order for its release.

“Have you applied to the surgeon in charge at Alexandria?” inquired Mr. Lincoln.

“Yes, sir” but I can do nothing with him,” was the reply.

“Well, madam,” said Mr. Lincoln, “that is an end of it, then. We put him there to attend to just such business, and it is reasonable to suppose that he knows better what should be done under the circumstances than I do.”

The lady’s face showed her keen disappointment. In order to learn her sentiment, Mr. Lincoln asked:

“How much would you be willing to subscribe toward building a hospital there?”

She said that the war had depreciated Southern property so much that she could afford to give but little.

“This war is not over yet,” said Mr. Lincoln, “and there will likely be another fight very soon. That church may be very useful in which to house our wounded soldiers. It is my candid opinion that God needs that church for our wounded fellows; so, madam, I can do nothing for you.”


An amusing instance of the President’s preoccupation of mind occurred at one of his levees, when he was shaking hands with a host of visitors passing him in a continuous stream.

An intimate acquaintance received the usual conventional hand-shake and salutation, but perceiving that he was not recognized, kept his ground instead of moving on, and spoke again, when the President, roused to a dim consciousness that something unusual had happened, perceived who stood before him, and, seizing his friend’s hand, shook it again heartily, saying:

“How do you do? How do you do? Excuse me for not noticing you. I was thinking of a man down South.”

“The man down South” was General W. T. Sherman, then on his march to the sea.


When Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania described the terrible butchery at the battle of Fredericksburg, Mr. Lincoln was almost broken-hearted.

The Governor regretted that his description had so sadly affected the President. He remarked: “I would give all I possess to know how to rescue you from this terrible war.” Then Mr. Lincoln’s wonderful recuperative powers asserted themselves and this marvelous man was himself.

Lincoln’s whole aspect suddenly changed, and he relieved his mind by telling a story.

“This reminds me, Governor,” he said, “of an old farmer out in Illinois that I used to know.

“He took it into his head to go into hog-raising. He sent out to Europe and imported the finest breed of hogs he could buy.

“The prize hog was put in a pen, and the farmer’s two mischievous boys, James and John, were told to be sure not to let it out. But James, the worst of the two, let the brute out the next day. The hog went straight for the boys, and drove John up a tree, then the hog went for the seat of James’ trousers, and the only way the boy could save himself was by holding on to the hog’s tail.

“The hog would not give up his hunt, nor the boy his hold! After they had made a good many circles around the tree, the boy’s courage began to give out, and he shouted to his brother, ‘I say, John, come down, quick, and help me let go this hog!’

“Now, Governor, that is exactly my case. I wish some one would come and help me to let the hog go.”


Judge Joseph Gillespie, of Chicago, was a firm friend of Mr. Lincoln, and went to Springfield to see him shortly before his departure for the inauguration.

“It was,” said judge Gillespie, “Lincoln’s Gethsemane. He feared he was not the man for the great position and the great events which confronted him. Untried in national affairs, unversed in international diplomacy, unacquainted with the men who were foremost in the politics of the nation, he groaned when he saw the inevitable War of the Rebellion coming on. It was in humility of spirit that he told me he believed that the American people had made a mistake in selecting him.

“In the course of our conversation he told me if he could select his cabinet from the old bar that had traveled the circuit with him in the early days, he believed he could avoid war or settle it without a battle, even after the fact of secession.

“‘But, Mr. Lincoln,’ said I, ‘those old lawyers are all Democrats.’

“‘I know it,’ was his reply. ‘But I would rather have Democrats whom I know than Republicans I don’t know.'”


Leonard Swett told this eminently characteristic story:

“I remember one day being in his room when Lincoln was sitting at his table with a large pile of papers before him, and after a pleasant talk he turned quite abruptly and said: ‘Get out of the way, Swett; to-morrow is butcher-day, and I must go through these papers and see if I cannot find some excuse to let these poor fellows off.’

“The pile of papers he had were the records of courts-martial of men who on the following day were to be shot.”


It took quite a long time, as well as the lives of thousands of men, to say nothing of the cost in money, to take Richmond, the Capital City of the Confederacy. In this cartoon, taken from “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,” of February 21, 1863, Jeff Davis is sitting upon the Secession eggs in the “Richmond” nest, smiling down upon President Lincoln, who is up to his waist in the Mud of Difficulties.

The President finally waded through the morass, in which he had become immersed, got to the tree, climbed its trunk, reached the limb, upon which the “bad bird” had built its nest, threw the mother out, destroyed the eggs of Secession and then took the nest away with him, leaving the “bad bird” without any home at all.

The “bad bird” had its laugh first, but the last laugh belonged to the “mudsill,” as the cartoonist was pleased to call the President of the United States. It is true that the President got his clothes and hat all covered with mud, but as the job was a dirty one, as well as one that had to be done, the President didn’t care. He was able to get another suit of clothes, as well as another hat, but the “bad bird” couldn’t, and didn’t, get another nest.

The laugh was on the “bad bird” after all.


Once, when asked what he remembered about the war with Great Britain, Lincoln replied: “Nothing but this: I had been fishing one day and caught a little fish, which I was taking home. I met a soldier in the road, and, having been always told at home that we must be good to the soldiers, I gave him my fish.”

This must have been about 1814, when “Abe” was five years of age.


Lincoln was once associate counsel for a defendant in a murder case. He listened to the testimony given by witness after witness against his client, until his honest heart could stand it no longer; then, turning to his associate, he said: “The man is guilty; you defend him–I can’t,” and when his associate secured a verdict of acquittal, Lincoln refused to share the fee to the extent of one cent.

Lincoln would never advise clients to enter into unwise or unjust lawsuits, always preferring to refuse a retainer rather than be a party to a case which did not commend itself to his sense of justice.


General Creswell called at the White House to see the President the day of the latter’s assassination. An old friend, serving in the Confederate ranks, had been captured by the Union troops and sent to prison. He had drawn an affidavit setting forth what he knew about the man, particularly mentioning extenuating circumstances.

Creswell found the President very happy. He was greeted with: “Creswell, old fellow, everything is bright this morning. The War is over. It has been a tough time, but we have lived it out,–or some of us have,” and he dropped his voice a little on the last clause of the sentence. “But it is over; we are going to have good times now, and a united country.”

General Creswell told his story, read his affidavit, and said, “I know the man has acted like a fool, but he is my friend, and a good fellow; let him out; give him to me, and I will be responsible that he won’t have anything more to do with the rebs.”

“Creswell,” replied Mr. Lincoln, “you make me think of a lot of young folks who once started out Maying. To reach their destination, they had to cross a shallow stream, and did so by means of an old flatboat. When the time came to return, they found to their dismay that the old scow had disappeared. They were in sore trouble, and thought over all manner of devices for getting over the water, but without avail.

“After a time, one of the boys proposed that each fellow should pick up the girl he liked best and wade over with her. The masterly proposition was carried out, until all that were left upon the island was a little short chap and a great, long, gothic-built, elderly lady.

“Now, Creswell, you are trying to leave me in the same predicament. You fellows are all getting your own friends out of this scrape; and you will succeed in carrying off one after another, until nobody but Jeff Davis and myself will be left on the island, and then I won’t know what to do. How should I feel? How should I look, lugging him over?

“I guess the way to avoid such an embarrassing situation is to let them all out at once.”

He made a somewhat similar illustration at an informal Cabinet meeting, at which the disposition of Jefferson Davis and other prominent Confederates was discussed. Each member of the Cabinet gave his opinion; most of them were for hanging the traitors, or for some severe punishment. President Lincoln said nothing.

Finally, Joshua F. Speed, his old and confidential friend, who had been invited to the meeting, said, “I have heard the opinion of your Ministers, and would like to hear yours.”

“Well, Josh,” replied President Lincoln, “when I was a boy in Indiana, I went to a neighbor’s house one morning and found a boy of my own size holding a coon by a string. I asked him what he had and what he was doing.

“He says, ‘It’s a coon. Dad cotched six last night, and killed all but this poor little cuss. Dad told me to hold him until he came back, and I’m afraid he’s going to kill this one too; and oh, “Abe,” I do wish he would get away!’

“‘Well, why don’t you let him loose?’

“‘That wouldn’t be right; and if I let him go, Dad would give me h–. But if he got away himself, it would be all right.’

“Now,” said the President, “if Jeff Davis and those other fellows will only get away, it will be all right. But if we should catch them, and I should let them go, ‘Dad would give me h–!'”


Don Piatt, a noted journalist of Washington, told the story of the first proposition to President Lincoln to issue interest-bearing notes as currency, as follows:

“Amasa Walker, a distinguished financier of New England, suggested that notes issued directly from the Government to the people, as currency, should bear interest. This for the purpose, not only of making the notes popular, but for the purpose of preventing inflation, by inducing people to hoard the notes as an investment when the demands of trade would fail to call them into circulation as a currency.

“This idea struck David Taylor, of Ohio, with such force that he sought Mr. Lincoln and urged him to put the project into immediate execution. The President listened patiently, and at the end said, ‘That is a good idea, Taylor, but you must go to Chase. He is running that end of the machine, and has time to consider your proposition.’

“Taylor sought the Secretary of the Treasury, and laid before him Amasa Walker’s plan. Secretary Chase heard him through in a cold, unpleasant manner, and then said: ‘That is all very well, Mr. Taylor; but there is one little obstacle in the way that makes the plan impracticable, and that is the Constitution.’

“Saying this, he turned to his desk, as if dismissing both Mr. Taylor and his proposition at the same moment.

“The poor enthusiast felt rebuked and humiliated. He returned to the President, however, and reported his defeat. Mr. Lincoln looked at the would-be financier with the expression at times so peculiar to his homely face, that left one in doubt whether he was jesting or in earnest. ‘Taylor!’ he exclaimed, ‘go back to Chase and tell him not to bother himself about the Constitution. Say that I have that sacred instrument here at the White House, and I am guarding it with great care.’

“Taylor demurred to this, on the ground that Secretary Chase showed by his manner that he knew all about it, and didn’t wish to be bored by any suggestion.

“‘We’ll see about that,’ said the President, and taking a card from the table, he wrote upon it

“‘The Secretary of the Treasury will please consider Mr. Taylor’s proposition. We must have money, and I think this a good way to get it.



Among the men whom Captain Lincoln met in the Black Hawk campaign were Lieutenant-Colonel Zachary Taylor, Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, and Lieutenant Robert Anderson, all of the United States Army.

Judge Arnold, in his “Life of Abraham Lincoln,” relates that Lincoln and Anderson did not meet again until some time in 1861. After Anderson had evacuated Fort Sumter, on visiting Washington, he called at the White House to pay his respects to the President. Lincoln expressed his thanks to Anderson for his conduct at Fort Sumter, and then said:

“Major, do you remember of ever meeting me before?”

“No, Mr. President, I have no recollection of ever having had that pleasure.”

“My memory is better than yours,” said Lincoln; “you mustered me into the service of the United States in 1832, at Dixon’s Ferry, in the Black Hawk war.”


In February, 1860, not long before his nomination for the Presidency, Lincoln made several speeches in Eastern cities. To an Illinois acquaintance, whom he met at the Astor House, in New York, he said: “I have the cottage at Springfield, and about three thousand dollars in money. If they make me Vice-President with Seward, as some say they will, I hope I shall be able to increase it to twenty thousand, and that is as much as any man ought to want.”


In September, 1864, a New York paper printed the following brutal story:

“A few days after the battle of Antietam, the President was driving over the field in an ambulance, accompanied by Marshal Lamon, General McClellan and another officer. Heavy details of men were engaged in the task of burying the dead. The ambulance had just reached the neighborhood of the old stone bridge, where the dead were piled highest, when Mr. Lincoln, suddenly slapping Marshal Lamon on the knee, exclaimed: ‘Come, Lamon, give us that song about “Picayune Butler”; McClellan has never heard it.’

“‘Not now, if you please,’ said General McClellan, with a shudder; ‘I would prefer to hear it some other place and time.'”

President Lincoln refused to pay any attention to the story, would not read the comments made upon it by the newspapers, and would permit neither denial nor explanation to be made. The National election was coming on, and the President’s friends appealed to him to settle the matter for once and all. Marshal Lamon was particularly insistent, but the President merely said:

“Let the thing alone. If I have not established character enough to give the lie to this charge, I can only say that I am mistaken in my own estimate of myself. In politics, every man must skin his own skunk. These fellows are welcome to the hide of this one. Its body has already given forth its unsavory odor.”

But Lamon would not “let the thing alone.” He submitted to Lincoln a draft of what he conceived to be a suitable explanation, after reading which the President said:

“Lamon, your ‘explanation’ is entirely too belligerent in tone for so grave a matter. There is a heap of ‘cussedness’ mixed up with your usual amiability, and you are at times too fond of a fight. If I were you, I would simply state the facts as they were. I would give the statement as you have here, without the pepper and salt. Let me try my hand at it.”

The President then took up a pen and wrote the following, which was copied and sent out as Marshal Lamon’s refutation of the shameless slander:

“The President has known me intimately for nearly twenty years, and has often heard me sing little ditties. The battle of Antietam was fought on the 17th day of September, 1862. On the first day of October, just two weeks after the battle, the President, with some others, including myself, started from Washington to visit the Army, reaching Harper’s Ferry at noon of that day.

“In a short while General McClellan came from his headquarters near the battleground, joined the President, and with him reviewed the troops at Bolivar Heights that afternoon, and at night returned to his headquarters, leaving the President at Harper’s Ferry.

“On the morning of the second, the President, with General Sumner, reviewed the troops respectively at Loudon Heights and Maryland Heights, and at about noon started to General McClellan’s headquarters, reaching there only in time to see very little before night.

“On the morning of the third all started on a review of the Third Corps and the cavalry, in the vicinity of the Antietam battle-ground. After getting through with General Burnside’s corps, at the suggestion of General McClellan, he and the President left their horses to be led, and went into an ambulance to go to General Fitz John Porter’s corps, which was two or three miles distant.

“I am not sure whether the President and General McClellan were in the same ambulance, or in different ones; but myself and some others were in the same with the President. On the way, and on no part of the battleground, and on what suggestions I do not remember, the President asked me to sing the little sad song that follows (“Twenty Years Ago, Tom”), which he had often heard me sing, and had always seemed to like very much.

“After it was over, some one of the party (I do not think it was the President) asked me to sing something else; and I sang two or three little comic things, of which ‘Picayune Butler’ was one. Porter’s corps was reached and reviewed; then the battle-ground was passed over, and the most noted parts examined; then, in succession, the cavalry and Franklin’s corps were reviewed, and the President and party returned to General McClellan’s headquarters at the end of a very hard, hot and dusty day’s work.

“Next day (the 4th), the President and General McClellan visited such of the wounded as still remained in the vicinity, including the now lamented General Richardson; then proceeded to and examined the South-Mountain battle-ground, at which point they parted, General McClellan returning to his camp, and the President returning to Washington, seeing, on the way, General Hartsoff, who lay wounded at Frederick Town.

“This is the whole story of the singing and its surroundings. Neither General McClellan nor any one else made any objections to the singing; the place was not on the battle-field; the time was sixteen days after the battle; no dead body was seen during the whole time the President was absent from Washington, nor even a grave that had not been rained on since the time it was made.”


Nothing in Lincoln’s entire career better illustrated the surprising resources of his mind than his manner of dealing with “The Trent Affair.” The readiness and ability with which he met this perilous emergency, in a field entirely new to his experience, was worthy the most accomplished diplomat and statesman. Admirable, also, was his cool courage and self-reliance in following a course radically opposed to the prevailing sentiment throughout the country and in Congress, and contrary to the advice of his own Cabinet.

Secretary of the Navy Welles hastened to approve officially the act of Captain Wilkes in apprehending the Confederate Commissioners Mason and Slidell, Secretary Stanton publicly applauded, and even Secretary of State Seward, whose long public career had made him especially conservative, stated that he was opposed to any concession or surrender of Mason and Slidell.

But Lincoln, with great sagacity, simply said, “One war at a time.”


The President made his last public address on the evening of April 11th, 1865, to a gathering at the White House. Said he

“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 cannot be restrained.

“In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow must not be forgotten.

“Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing be overlooked; their honors must not be parceled out with others.

“I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting the good news to you; but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine.

“To General Grant, his skillful officers and brave men, all belongs.”


One day an old lady from the country called on President Lincoln, her tanned face peering up to his through a pair of spectacles. Her errand was to present Mr. Lincoln a pair of stockings of her own make a yard long. Kind tears came to his eyes as she spoke to him, and then, holding the stockings one in each hand, dangling wide apart for general inspection, he assured her that he should take them with him to Washington, where (and here his eyes twinkled) he was sure he should not be able to find any like them.

Quite a number of well-known men were in the room with the President when the old lady made her presentation. Among them was George S. Boutwell, who afterwards became Secretary of the Treasury.

The amusement of the company was not at all diminished by Mr. Boutwell’s remark, that the lady had evidently made a very correct estimate of Mr. Lincoln’s latitude and longitude.


Lincoln was appointed postmaster at New Salem by President Jackson. The office was given him because everybody liked him, and because he was the only man willing to take it who could make out the returns. Lincoln was pleased, because it gave him a chance to read every newspaper taken in the vicinity. He had never been able to get half the newspapers he wanted before.

Years after the postoffice had been discontinued and Lincoln had become a practicing lawyer at Springfield, an agent of the Postoffice Department entered his office and inquired if Abraham Lincoln was within. Lincoln responded to his name, and was informed that the agent had called to collect the balance due the Department since the discontinuance of the New Salem office.

A shade of perplexity passed over Lincoln’s face, which did not escape the notice of friends present. One of them said at once:

“Lincoln, if you are in want of money, let us help you.”

He made no reply, but suddenly rose, and pulled out from a pile of books a little old trunk, and, returning to the table, asked the agent how much the amount of his debt was.

The sum was named, and then Lincoln opened the trunk, pulled out a little package of coin wrapped in a cotton rag, and counted out the exact sum, amounting to more than seventeen dollars.

After the agent had left the room, he remarked quietly that he had never used any man’s money but his own. Although this sum had been in his hands during all those years, he had never regarded it as available, even for any temporary use of his own.


At a Saturday afternoon reception at the White House, many persons noticed three little girls, poorly dressed, the children of some mechanic or laboring man, who had followed the visitors into the White House to gratify their curiosity. They passed around from room to room, and were hastening through the reception-room, with some trepidation, when the President called to them:

“Little girls, are you going to pass me without shaking hands?”

Then he bent his tall, awkward form down, and shook each little girl warmly by the hand. Everybody in the apartment was spellbound by the incident, so simple in itself.


Uncle Sam was pretty well satisfied with his horse, “Old Abe,” and, as shown at the Presidential election of 1864, made up his mind to keep him, and not “swap” the tried and true animal for a strange one. “Harper’s Weekly” of November 12th, 1864, had a cartoon which illustrated how the people of the United States felt about the matter better than anything published at the time. We reproduce it on this page. Beneath the picture was this text:

JOHN BULL: “Why don’t you ride the other horse a bit? He’s the best animal.” (Pointing to McClellan in the bushes at the rear.)

BROTHER JONATHAN: “Well, that may be; but the fact is, OLD ABE is just where I can put my finger on him; and as for the other –though they say he’s some when out in the scrub yonder–I never know where to find him.”


“One time I remember I asked Mr. Lincoln what attribute he considered most valuable to the successful politician,” said Captain T. W. S. Kidd, of Springfield.

“He laid his hand on my shoulder and said, very earnestly:

“‘To be able to raise a cause which shall produce an effect, and then fight the effect.’

“The more you think about it, the more profound does it become.”


A cashiered officer, seeking to be restored through the power of the executive, became insolent, because the President, who believed the man guilty, would not accede to his repeated requests, at last said, “Well, Mr. President, I see you are fully determined not to do me justice!”

This was too aggravating even for Mr. Lincoln; rising he suddenly seized the disgraced officer by the coat collar, and marched him forcibly to the door, saying as he ejected him into the passage:

“Sir, I give you fair warning never to show your face in this room again. I can bear censure, but not insult. I never wish to see your face again.”


Salmon P. Chase, when Secretary of the Treasury, had a disagreement with other members of the Cabinet, and resigned.

The President was urged not to accept it, as “Secretary Chase is to-day a national necessity,” his advisers said.

“How mistaken you are!” Lincoln quietly observed. “Yet it is not strange; I used to have similar notions. No! If we should all be turned out to-morrow, and could come back here in a week, we should find our places filled by a lot of fellows doing just as well as we did, and in many instances better.

“Now, this reminds me of what the Irishman said. His verdict was that ‘in this country one man is as good as another; and, for the matter of that, very often a great deal better.’ No; this Government does not depend upon the life of any man.”


George B. Lincoln, a prominent merchant of Brooklyn, was traveling through the West in 1855-56, and found himself one night in a town on the Illinois River, by the name of Naples. The only tavern of the place had evidently been constructed with reference to business on a small scale. Poor as the prospect seemed, Mr. Lincoln had no alternative but to put up at the place.

The supper-room was also used as a lodging-room. Mr. Lincoln told his host that he thought he would “go to bed.”

“Bed!” echoed the landlord. “There is no bed for you in this house unless you sleep with that man yonder. He has the only one we have to spare.”

“Well,” returned Mr. Lincoln, “the gentleman has possession, and perhaps would not like a bed-fellow.”

Upon this a grizzly head appeared out of the pillows, and said:

“What is your name?”

“They call me Lincoln at home,” was the reply.

“Lincoln!” repeated the stranger; “any connection of our Illinois Abraham?”

“No,” replied Mr. Lincoln. “I fear not.”

“Well,” said the old gentleman, “I will let any man by the name of ‘Lincoln’ sleep with me, just for the sake of the name. You have heard of Abe?” he inquired.

“Oh, yes, very often,” replied Mr. Lincoln. “No man could travel far in this State without hearing of him, and I would be very glad to claim connection if I could do so honestly.”

“Well,” said the old gentleman, “my name is Simmons. ‘Abe’ and I used to live and work together when young men. Many a job of woodcutting and rail-splitting have I done up with him. Abe Lincoln was the likeliest boy in God’s world. He would work all day as hard as any of us and study by firelight in the loghouse half the night; and in this way he made himself a thorough, practical surveyor. Once, during those days, I was in the upper part of the State, and I met General Ewing, whom President Jackson had sent to the Northwest to make surveys. I told him about Abe Lincoln, what a student he was, and that I wanted he should give him a job. He looked over his memorandum, and, holding out a paper, said:

“‘There is County must be surveyed; if your friend can do the work properly, I shall be glad to have him undertake it–the compensation will be six hundred dollars.’

“Pleased as I could be, I hastened to Abe, after I got home, with an account of what I had secured for him. He was sitting before the fire in the log-cabin when I told him; and what do you think was his answer? When I finished, he looked up very quietly, and said:

“‘Mr. Simmons, I thank you very sincerely for your kindness, but I don’t think I will undertake the job.’

“‘In the name of wonder,’ said I, ‘why? Six hundred does not grow upon every bush out here in Illinois.’

“‘I know that,’ said Abe, ‘and I need the money bad enough, Simmons, as you know; but I have never been under obligation to a Democratic Administration, and I never intend to be so long as I can get my living another way. General Ewing must find another man to do his work.'”

A friend related this story to the President one day, and asked him if it were true.

“Pollard Simmons!” said Lincoln. “Well do I remember him. It is correct about our working together, but the old man must have stretched the facts somewhat about the survey of the county. I think I should have been very glad of the job at the time, no matter what Administration was in power.”


President Lincoln said, long before the National political campaign of 1864 had opened:

“If the unworthy ambition of politicians and the jealousy that exists in the army could be repressed, and all unite in a common aim and a common endeavor, the rebellion would soon be crushed.”


The President once explained to a friend the theory of the Rebellion by the aid of the maps before him.

Running his long fore-finger down the map, he stopped at Virginia.

“We must drive them away from here” (Manassas Gap), he said, “and clear them out of this part of the State so that they cannot threaten us here (Washington) and get into Maryland.

“We must keep up a good and thorough blockade of their ports. We must march an army into East Tennessee and liberate the Union sentiment there. Finally we must rely on the people growing tired and saying to their leaders, ‘We have had enough of this thing, we will bear it no longer.'”

Such was President Lincoln’s plan for headingoff the Rebellion in the summer of 1861. How it enlarged as the War progressed, from a call for seventy thousand volunteers to one for five hundred thousand men and $500,000,000 is a matter of well-known history.


Three or four days after the battle of Bull Run, some gentlemen who had been on the field called upon the President.

He inquired very minutely regarding all the circumstances of the affair, and, after listening with the utmost attention, said, with a touch of humor: “So it is your notion that we whipped the rebels and then ran away from them!”


Old Dennis Hanks was sent to Washington at one time by persons interested in securing the release from jail of several men accused of being copperheads. It was thought Old Dennis might have some influence with the President.

The latter heard Dennis’ story and then said: “I will send for Mr. Stanton. It is his business.”

Secretary Stanton came into the room, stormed up and down, and said the men ought to be punished more than they were. Mr. Lincoln sat quietly in his chair and waited for the tempest to subside, and then quietly said to Stanton he would like to have the papers next day.

When he had gone, Dennis said:

“‘Abe,’ if I was as big and as ugly as you are, I would take him over my knee and spank him.”

The President replied: “No, Stanton is an able and valuable man for this Nation, and I am glad to bear his anger for the service he can give the Nation.”


The quaint remark of the President to an applicant, “My dear sir, I have not much influence with the Administration,” was one of Lincoln’s little jokes.

Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, once replied to an order from the President to give a colonel a commission in place of the resigning brigadier:

“I shan’t do it, sir! I shan’t do it! It isn’t the way to do it, sir, and I shan’t do it. I don’t propose to argue the question with you, sir.”

A few days after, the friend of the applicant who had presented the order to Secretary Stanton called upon the President and related his reception. A look of vexation came over the face of the President, and he seemed unwilling to talk of it, and desired the friend to see him another day. He did so, when he gave his visitor a positive order for the promotion. The latter told him he would not speak to Secretary Stanton again until he apologized.

“Oh,” said the President, “Stanton has gone to Fortress Monroe, and Dana is acting. He will attend to it for you.”

This he said with a manner of relief, as if it was a piece of good luck to find a man there who would obey his orders.

The nomination was sent to the Senate and confirmed.


Many applications reached Lincoln as he passed to and from the White House and the War Department. One day as he crossed the park
he was stopped by a negro, who told him a pitiful story. The President wrote him out a check, which read. “Pay to colored man with one leg five dollars.”


When the Republican party came into power, Washington swarmed with office-seekers. They overran the White House and gave the President great annoyance. The incongruity of a man in his position, and with the very life of the country at stake, pausing to appoint postmasters, struck Mr. Lincoln forcibly. “What is the matter, Mr. Lincoln,” said a friend one day, when he saw him looking particularly grave and dispirited. “Has anything gone wrong at the front?” “No,” said the President, with a tired smile. “It isn’t the war; it’s the postoffice at Brownsville, Missouri.”


Immediately after Mr. Lincoln’s nomination for President at the Chicago Convention, a committee, of which Governor Morgan, of New York, was chairman, visited him in Springfield, Ill., where he was officially informed of his nomination.

After this ceremony had passed, Mr. Lincoln remarked to the company that as a fit ending to an interview so important and interesting as that which had just taken place, he supposed good manners would require that he should treat the committee with something to drink; and opening the door that led into the rear, he called out, “Mary! Mary!” A girl responded to the call, to whom Mr. Lincoln spoke a few words in an undertone, and, closing the door, returned again and talked with his guests. In a few minutes the maid entered, bearing a large waiter, containing several glass tumblers, and a large pitcher, and placed them upon the center-table. Mr. Lincoln arose, and, gravely addressing the company, said: “Gentlemen, we must pledge our mutual health in the most healthy beverage that God has given to man–it is the only beverage I have ever used or allowed my family to use, and I cannot conscientiously depart from it on the present occasion. It is pure Adam’s ale from the spring.” And, taking the tumbler, he touched it to his lips, and pledged them his highest respects in a cup of cold water. Of course, all his guests admired his consistency, and joined in his example.


A few days before the President’s death, Secretary Stanton tendered his resignation as Secretary of War. He accompanied the act with a most heartfelt tribute to Mr. Lincoln’s constant friendship and faithful devotion to the country, saying, also, that he, as Secretary, had accepted the position to hold it only until the war should end, and that now he felt his work was done, and his duty was to resign.

Mr. Lincoln was greatly moved by the Secretary’s words, and, tearing in pieces the paper containing the resignation, and throwing his arms about the Secretary, he said:

“Stanton, you have been a good friend and a faithful public servant, and it is not for you to say when you will no longer be needed here.”

Several friends of both parties were present on the occasion, and there was not a dry eye that witnessed the scene.


When the War was fairly on, many people were astonished to find that “Old Abe” was a fighter from “way back.” No one was the victim of greater amazement than Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. Davis found out that “Abe” was not only a hard hitter, but had staying qualities of a high order. It was a fight to a “finish” with “Abe,” no compromises being accepted. Over the title, “North and South,” the issue of “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” of December 24th, 1864, contained the cartoon, see reproduce on this page. Underneath the picture were the lines:

“Now, Jeffy, when you think you have had enough of this, say so, and I’ll leave off.” (See President’s message.) In his message to Congress, December 6th,

President Lincoln said: “No attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good. He would accept of nothing short of the severance of the Union.”

Therefore, Father Abraham, getting “Jeffy’s” head “in chancery,” proceeded to change the appearance and size of the secessionist’s countenance, much to the grief and discomfort of the Southerner. It was Lincoln’s idea to re-establish the Union, and he carried out his purpose to the very letter. But he didn’t “leave off” until “Jeffy” cried “enough.”


In October, 1864, President Lincoln, while he knew his re-election to the White House was in no sense doubtful, knew that if he lost New York and with it Pennsylvania on the home vote, the moral effect of his triumph would be broken and his power to prosecute the war and make peace would be greatly impaired. Colonel A. K. McClure was with Lincoln a good deal of the time previous to the November election, and tells this story:

“His usually sad face was deeply shadowed with sorrow when I told him that I saw no reasonable prospect of carrying Pennsylvania on the home vote, although we had about held our own in the hand-to-hand conflict through which we were passing.

“‘Well, what is to be done?’ was Lincoln’s inquiry, after the whole situation had been presented to him. I answered that the solution of the problem was a very simple and easy one–that Grant was idle in front of Petersburg; that Sheridan had won all possible victories in the Valley; and that if five thousand Pennsylvania soldiers could be furloughed home from each army, the election could be carried without doubt.

“Lincoln’s face’ brightened instantly at the suggestion, and I saw that he was quite ready to execute it. I said to him: ‘Of course, you can trust want to make the suggestion to him to furlough five thousand Pennsylvania troops for two weeks?’

“‘To my surprise, Lincoln made no answer, and the bright face of a few moments before was instantly shadowed again. I was much disconcerted, as I supposed that Grant was the one man to whom Lincoln could turn with absolute confidence as his friend. I then said, with some earnestness: ‘Surely, Mr. President, you can trust Grant with a confidential suggestion to furlough Pennsylvania troops?’

“Lincoln remained silent and evidently distressed at the proposition I was pressing upon him. After a few moments, and speaking with emphasis, I said: ‘It can’t be possible that Grant is not your friend; he can’t be such an ingrate?’

“Lincoln hesitated for some time, and then answered in these words: ‘Well, McClure, I have no reason to believe that Grant prefers my election to that of McClellan.’

“I believe Lincoln was mistaken in his distrust of Grant.”


Lincoln was constantly bothered by members of delegations of “goody-goodies,” who knew all about running the War, but had no inside information as to what was going on. Yet, they poured out their advice in streams, until the President was heartily sick of the whole business, and wished the War would find some way to kill off these nuisances.

“How many men have the Confederates now in the field?” asked one of these bores one day.

“About one million two hundred thousand,” replied the President.

“Oh, my! Not so many as that, surely, Mr. Lincoln.”

“They have fully twelve hundred thousand, no doubt of it. You see, all of our generals when they get whipped say the enemy outnumbers them from three or five to one, and I must believe them. We have four hundred thousand men in the field, and three times four make twelve,–don’t you see it? It is as plain to be seen as the nose on a man’s face; and at the rate things are now going, with the great amount of speculation and the small crop of fighting, it will take a long time to overcome twelve hundred thousand rebels in arms.

“If they can get subsistence they have everything else, except a just cause. Yet it is said that ‘thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.’ I am willing, however, to risk our advantage of thrice in justice against their thrice in numbers.”


General McClellan had little or no conception of the greatness of Abraham Lincoln. As time went on, he began to show plainly his contempt of the President, frequently allowing him to wait in the ante-room of his house while he transacted business with others. This discourtesy was so open that McClellan’s staff noticed it, and newspaper correspondents commented on it. The President was too keen not to see the situation, but he was strong enough to ignore it. It was a battle he wanted from McClellan, not deference.

“I will hold McClellan’s horse, if he will only bring us success,” he said one day.


G. H. Giddings was selected as the bearer of a message from the President to Governor Sam Houston, of Texas. A conflict had arisen there between the Southern party and the Governor, Sam Houston, and on March 18 the latter had been deposed. When Mr. Lincoln heard of this, he decided to try to get a message to the Governor, offering United States support if he would put himself at the head of the Union party of the State.

Mr. Giddings thus told of his interview with the President:

“He said to me that the message was of such importance that, before handing it to me, he would read it to me. Before beginning to read he said, ‘This is a confidential and secret message. No one besides my Cabinet and myself knows anything about it, and we are all sworn to secrecy. I am going to swear you in as one of my Cabinet.’

“And then he said to me in a jocular way, ‘Hold up your right hand,’ which I did.

“‘Now,’ said he, consider yourself a member of my Cabinet.”‘


With the possible exception of President Washington, whose political opponents did not hesitate to rob the vocabulary of vulgarity and wickedness whenever they desired to vilify the Chief Magistrate, Lincoln was the most and “best” abused man who ever held office in the United States. During the first half of his initial term there was no epithet which was not applied to him.

One newspaper in New York habitually characterized him as “that hideous baboon at the other end of the avenue,” and declared that “Barnum should buy and exhibit him as a zoological curiosity.”

Although the President did not, to all appearances, exhibit annoyance because of the various diatribes printed and spoken, yet the fact is that his life was so cruelly embittered by these and other expressions quite as virulent, that he often declared to those most intimate with him, “I would rather be dead than, as President, thus abused in the house of my friends.”


General “Joe” Hooker, the fourth commander of the noble but unfortunate Army of the Potomac, was appointed to that position by President Lincoln in January, 1863. General Scott, for some reason, disliked Hooker and would not appoint him. Hooker, after some months of discouraging waiting, decided to return to California, and called to pay his respects to President Lincoln. He was introduced as Captain Hooker, and to the surprise of the President began the following speech:

“Mr. President, my friend makes a mistake. I am not Captain Hooker, but was once Lieutenant-Colonel Hooker of the regular army. I was lately a farmer in California, but since the Rebellion broke out I have been trying to get into service, but I find I am not wanted.

“I am about to return home; but before going, I was anxious to pay my respects to you, and express my wishes for your personal welfare and success in quelling this Rebellion. And I want to say to you a word more.

“I was at Bull Run the other day, Mr. President, and it is no vanity in me to say, I am a darned sight better general than you had on the field.”

This was said, not in the tone of a braggart, but of a man who knew what he was talking about. Hooker did not return to California, but in a few weeks Captain Hooker received from the President a commission as Brigadier-General Hooker.


The President, like old King Saul, when his term was about to expire, was in a quandary concerning a further lease of the Presidential office. He consulted again the “prophetess” of Georgetown, immortalized by his patronage.

She retired to an inner chamber, and, after raising and consulting more than a dozen of distinguished spirits from Hades, she returned to the reception-parlor, where the chief magistrate awaited her, and declared that General Grant would capture Richmond, and that “Honest Old Abe” would be next President.

She, however, as the report goes, told him to beware of Chase.


Lincoln had been born and reared among people who were believers in premonitions and supernatural appearances all his life, and he once declared to his friends that he was “from boyhood superstitious.”

He at one time said to Judge Arnold that “the near approach of the important events of his life were indicated by a presentiment or a strange dream, or in some other mysterious way it was impressed upon him that something important was to occur.” This was earlier than 1850.

It is said that on his second visit to New Orleans, Lincoln and his companion, John Hanks, visited an old fortune-teller–a voodoo negress. Tradition says that “during the interview she became very much excited, and after various predictions, exclaimed: ‘You will be President, and all the negroes will be free.'”

That the old voodoo negress should have foretold that the visitor would be President is not at all incredible. She doubtless told this to many aspiring lads, but Lincoln, so it is avowed took the prophecy seriously.


So great was Lincoln’s anxiety for the success of the Union arms that he considered no labor on his part too arduous, and spent much of his time in looking after even the small details.

Admiral Dahlgren was sent for one morning by the President, who said “Well, captain, here’s a letter about some new powder.”

After reading the letter he showed the sample of powder, and remarked that he had burned some of it, and did not believe it was a good article–here was too much residuum.

“I will show you,” he said; and getting a small piece of paper, placed thereupon some of the powder, then went to the fire and with the tongs picked up a coal, which he blew, clapped it on the powder, and after the resulting explosion, added, “You see there is too much left there.”


McClellan was a thorn in Lincoln’s side–“always up in the air,” as the President put it–and yet he hesitated to remove him. “The Young Napoleon” was a good organizer, but no fighter. Lincoln sent him everything necessary in the way of men, ammunition, artillery and equipments, but he was forever unready.

Instead of making a forward movement at the time expected, he would notify the President that he must have more men. These were given him as rapidly as possible, and then would come a demand for more horses, more this and that, usually winding up with a demand for still “more men.”

Lincoln bore it all in patience for a long time, but one day, when he had received another request for more men, he made a vigorous protest.

“If I gave McClellan all the men he asks for,” said the President, “they couldn’t find room to lie down. They’d have to sleep standing up.”


General Meade, after the great victory at Gettysburg, was again face to face with General Lee shortly afterwards at Williamsport, and even the former’s warmest friends agree that he might have won in another battle, but he took no action. He was not a “pushing” man like Grant. It was this negligence on the part of Meade that lost him the rank of Lieutenant-General, conferred upon General Sheridan.

A friend of Meade’s, speaking to President Lincoln and intimating that Meade should have, after that battle, been made Commander-in-Chief of the Union Armies, received this reply from Lincoln:

“Now, don’t misunderstand me about General Meade. I am profoundly grateful down to the bottom of my boots for what he did at Gettysburg, but I think that if I had been General Meade I would have fought another battle.”


In one of his reminiscences of Lincoln, Ward Lamon tells how keenly the President-elect always regretted the “sneaking in act” when he made the celebrated “midnight ride,” which he took under protest, and landed him in Washington known to but a few. Lamon says:

“The President was convinced that he committed a grave mistake in listening to the solicitations of a ‘professional spy’ and of friends too easily alarmed, and frequently upbraided me for having aided him to degrade himself at the very moment in all his life when his behavior should have exhibited the utmost dignity and composure.

“Neither he nor the country generally then understood the true facts concerning the dangers to his life. It is now an acknowledged fact that there never was a moment from the day he crossed the Maryland line, up to the time of his assassination, that he was not in danger of death by violence, and that his life was spared until the night of the 14th of April, 1865, only through the ceaseless and watchful care of the guards thrown around him.”


President Lincoln was calm and unmoved when England and France were blustering and threatening war. At Lincoln’s instance Secretary of State Seward notified the English Cabinet and the French Emperor that as ours was merely a family quarrel of a strictly private and confidential nature, there was no call for meddling; also that they would have a war on their hands in a very few minutes if they didn’t keep their hands off.

Many of Seward’s notes were couched in decidedly peppery terms, some expressions being so tart that President Lincoln ran his pen through them.


General Farnsworth told the writer nearly twenty years ago that, being in the War Office one day, Secretary Stanton told him that at the last Cabinet meeting he had learned a lesson he should never forget, and thought he had obtained an insight into Mr. Lincoln’s wonderful power over the masses. The Secretary said a Cabinet meeting was called to consider our relations with England in regard to the Mason-Slidell affair. One after another of the Cabinet presented his views, and Mr. Seward read an elaborate diplomatic dispatch, which he had prepared.

Finally Mr. Lincoln read what he termed “a few brief remarks upon the subject,” and asked the opinions of his auditors. They unanimously agreed that our side of the question needed no more argument than was contained in the President’s “few brief remarks.”

Mr. Seward said he would be glad to adopt the remarks, and, giving them more of the phraseology usual in diplomatic circles, send them to Lord Palmerston, the British premier.

“Then,” said Secretary Stanton, “came the demonstration. The President, half wheeling in his seat, threw one leg over the chair-arm, and, holding the letter in his hand, said, ‘Seward, do you suppose Palmerston will understand our position from that letter, just as it is?’

“‘Certainly, Mr. President.’

“‘Do you suppcse the London Times will?’


“‘Do you suppose the average Englishman of affairs will?’

“‘Certainly; it cannot be mistaken in England.’

“‘Do you suppose that a hackman out on his box (pointing to the street) will understand it?’

“‘Very readily, Mr. President.’

“‘Very well, Seward, I guess we’ll let her slide just as she is.’

“And the letter did ‘slide,’ and settled the whole business in a manner that was effective.”


One morning President Lincoln asked Major Eckert, on duty at the White House, “Who is that woman crying out in the hall? What is the matter with her?”

Eckert said it was a woman who had come a long distance expecting to go down to the army to see her husband. An order had gone out a short time before to allow no women in the army, except in special cases.

Mr. Lincoln sat moodily for a moment after hearing this story, and suddenly looking up, said, “Let’s send her down. You write the order, Major.”

Major Eckert hesitated a moment, and replied, “Would it not be better for Colonel Hardie to write the order?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Lincoln, “that is better; let Hardie write it.”

The major went out, and soon returned, saying, “Mr. President, would it not be better in this case to let the woman’s husband come to Washington?”

Mr. Lincoln’s face lighted up with pleasure. “Yes, yes,” was the President’s answer in a relieved tone; “that’s the best way; bring him up.”

The order was written, and the man was sent to Washington.


“You can’t carry on war without blood-letting,” said Lincoln one day.

The President, although almost feminine in his kind-heartedness, knew not only this, but also that large bodies of soldiers in camp were at the mercy of diseases of every sort, the result being a heavy casualty list.

Of the (estimated) half-million men of the Union armies who gave up their lives in the War of the Rebellion–1861-65–fullY seventy-five per cent died of disease. The soldiers killed upon the field of battle constituted a comparatively small proportion of the casualties.


London “Punch” caricatured President Lincoln in every possible way, holding him and the Union cause up to the ridicule of the world so far as it could. On August 23rd, 1862, its cartoon entitled “Lincoln’s Two Difficulties” had the text underneath: LINCOLN: “What? No money! No men!” “Punch” desired to create the impression that the Washington Government was in a bad way, lacking both money and men for the purpose of putting down the Rebellion; that the United States Treasury was bankrupt, and the people of the North so devoid of patriotism that they would not send men for the army to assist in destroying the Confederacy. The truth is, that when this cartoon was printed the North had five hundred thousand men in the field, and, before the War closed, had provided fully two million and a half troops. The report of the Secretary of the Treasury which showed the financial affairs and situation of the United States up to July, 1862. The receipts of the National Government for the year ending June 30th, 1862, were $10,000,000 in excess of the expenditures, although the War was costing the country $2,000,000 per day; the credit of the United States was good, and business matters were in a satisfactory state. The Navy, by August 23rd, 1862, had received eighteen thousand additional men, and was in fine shape; the people of the North stood ready to supply anything the Government needed, so that, all things taken together,the “Punch” cartoon was not exactly true, as the facts and figures abundantly proved.


An old and intimate friend from Springfield called on President Lincoln and found him much depressed.

The President was reclining on a sofa, but rising suddenly he said to his friend:

“You know better than any man living that from my boyhood up my ambition was to be President. I am President of one part of this divided country at least; but look at me! Oh, I wish I had never been born!

“I’ve a white elephant on my hands–one hard to manage. With a fire in my front and rear to contend with, the jealousies of the military commanders, and not receiving that cordial co-operative support from Congress that could reasonably be expected with an active and formidable enemy in the field threatening the very life-blood of the Government, my position is anything but a bed of roses.”


Ward Lamon, one of President Lincoln’s law partners, and his most intimate friend in Washington, has this to relate:

“I am not aware that there was ever a serious discord or misunderstanding between Mr. Lincoln and General Grant, except on a single occasion. From the commencement of the struggle, Lincoln’s policy was to break the backbone of the Confederacy by depriving it of its principal means of subsistence.

“Cotton was its vital aliment; deprive it of this, and the rebellion must necessarily collapse. The Hon. Elihu B. Washburne from the outset was opposed to any contraband traffic with the Confederates.

“Lincoln had given permits and passes through the lines to two persons–Mr. Joseph Mattox of Maryland and General Singleton of Illinois–to enable them to bring cotton and other Southern products from Virginia. Washburne heard of it, called immediately on Mr. Lincoln, and, after remonstrating with him on the impropriety of such a demarche, threatened to have General Grant countermand the permits if they were not revoked.

“Naturally, both became excited. Lincoln declared that he did not believe General Grant would take upon himself the responsibility of such an act. ‘I will show you, sir; I will show you whether Grant will do it or not,’ responded Mr. Washburne, as he abruptly withdrew.

“By the next boat, subsequent to this interview, the Congressman left Washington for the headquarters of General Grant. He returned shortly afterward to the city, and so likewise did Mattox and Singleton. Grant had countermanded the permits.

“Under all the circumstances, it was, naturally, a source of exultation to Mr. Washburne and his friends, and of corresponding surprise and mortification to the President. The latter, however, said nothing further than this:

“‘I wonder when General Grant changed his mind on this subject? He was the first man, after the commencement of this War, to grant a permit for the passage of cotton through the lines, and that to his own father.’

“The President, however, never showed any resentment toward General Grant.

“In referring afterwards to the subject, the President said: ‘It made me feel my insignificance keenly at the moment; but if my friends Washburne, Henry Wilson and others derive pleasure from so unworthy a victory over me, I leave them to its full enjoyment.’

“This ripple on the otherwise unruffled current of their intercourse did not disturb the personal relations between Lincoln and Grant; but there was little cordiality between the President and Messrs. Washburne and Wilson afterwards.”


The story as to how President Lincoln won the support of James Gordon Bennett, Sr., founder of the New York Herald, is a most interesting one. It was one of Lincoln’s shrewdest political acts, and was brought about by the tender, in an autograph letter, of the French Mission to Bennett.

The New York Times was the only paper in the metropolis which supported him heartily, and President Lincoln knew how important it was to have the support of the Herald. He therefore, according to the way Colonel McClure tells it, carefully studied how to bring its editor into close touch with himself.

The outlook for Lincoln’s re-election was not promising. Bennett had strongly advocated the nomination of General McClellan by the Democrats, and that was ominous of hostility to Lincoln; and when McClellan was nominated he was accepted on all sides as a most formidable candidate.

It was in this emergency that Lincoln’s political sagacity served him sufficiently to win the Herald to his cause, and it was done by the confidential tender of the French Mission. Bennett did not break over to Lincoln at once, but he went by gradual approaches.

His first step was to declare in favor of an entirely new candidate, which was an utter impossibility. He opened a “leader” in the Herald on the subject in this way: “Lincoln has proved a failure; McClellan has proved a failure; Fremont has proved a failure; let us have a new candidate.”

Lincoln, McClellan and Fremont were then all in the field as nominated candidates, and the Fremont defection was a serious threat to Lincoln. Of course, neither Lincoln nor McClellan declined, and the Herald, failing to get the new man it knew to be an impossibility, squarely advocated Lincoln’s re-election.

Without consulting any one, and without any public announcement: whatever, Lincoln wrote to Bennett, asking him to accept the mission to France. The offer was declined. Bennett valued the offer very much more than the office, and from that day until the day of the President’s death he was one of Lincoln’s most appreciative friends and hearty supporters on his own independent line.


Once, in reply to a delegation, which visited the White House, the members of which were unusually vociferous in their demands that the Silent Man (as General Grant was called) should be relieved from duty, the President remarked:

“What I want and what the people want is generals who will fight battles and win victories.

“Grant has done this, and I propose to stand by him.”

This declaration found its way into the newspapers, and Lincoln was upheld by the people of the North, who, also, wanted “generals
who will fight battles and win victories.”


President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward met Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, on February 2nd, 1865, on the River Queen, at Fortress Monroe. Stephens was enveloped in overcoats and shawls, and had the appearance of a fair-sized man. He began to take off one wrapping after another, until the small, shriveled old man stood before them.

Lincoln quietly said to Seward: “This is the largest shucking for so small a nubbin that I ever saw.”

President Lincoln had a friendly conference, but presented his ultimatum that the one and only condition of peace was that Confederates “must cease their resistance.”


During the Civil War, Clement L. Vallandigham, of Ohio, had shown himself, in the National House of Representatives and elsewhere, one of the bitterest and most outspoken of all the men of that class which insisted that “the war was a failure.” He declared that it was the design of “those in power to establish a despotism,” and that they had “no intention of restoring the Union.” He denounced the conscription which had been ordered, and declared that men who submitted to be drafted into the army were “unworthy to be called free men.” He spoke of the President as “King Lincoln.”

Such utterances at this time, when the Government was exerting itself to the utmost to recruit the armies, were dangerous, and Vallandigham was arrested, tried by court-martial at Cincinnati, and sentenced to be placed in confinement during the war,

General Burnside, in command at Cincinnati, approved the sentence, and ordered that he be sent to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor; but the President ordered that he be sent “beyond our lines into those of his friends.” He was therefore escorted to the Confederate lines in Tennessee, thence going to Richmond. He did not meet with a very cordial reception there, and finally sought refuge in Canada.

Vallandigham died in a most peculiar way some years after the close of the War, and it was thought by many that his death was the result of premeditation upon his part.


In August, 1864, the President called for five hundred thousand more men. The country was much depressed. The Confederates had, in comparatively small force, only a short time before, been to the very gates of Washington, and returned almost unharmed.

The Presidential election was impending. Many thought another call for men at such a time would insure, if not destroy, Mr. Lincoln’s chances for re-election. A friend said as much to him one day, after the President had told him of his purpose to make such a call.

“As to my re-election,” replied Mr. Lincoln, “it matters not. We must have the men. If I go down, I intend to go, like the Cumberland, with my colors flying!”


The cartoon reproduced below was published in “Harper’s Weekly” on January 31st, 1863, the explanatory text, underneath, reading in this way:

MANAGER LINCOLN: “Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to say that the tragedy entitled ‘The Army of the Potomac’ has been withdrawn on account of quarrels among the leading performers, and I have substituted three new and striking farces, or burlesques, one, entitled ‘The Repulse of Vicksburg,’ by the well-known favorite, E. M. Stanton, Esq., and the others, ‘The Loss of the Harriet Lane,’ and ‘The Exploits of the Alabama’–a very sweet thing in farces, I assure you–by the veteran composer, Gideon Welles. (Unbounded applause by the Copperheads).”

In July, after this cartoon appeared, the Army of the Potomac defeated Lee at Gettysburg, and sounded the death-knell of the Confederacy; General Hooker, with his corps from this Army opened the Tennessee River, thus affording some relief to the Union troops in Chattanooga; Hooker’s men also captured Lookout Mountain, and assisted in taking Missionary Ridge.

General Grant converted the farce “The Repulse of Vicksburg” into a tragedy for the Copperheads, taking that stronghold on July 4th, and Captain Winslow, with the Union man-of-war Kearsarge, meeting the Confederate privateer Alabama, off the coast of France, near Cherbourg, fought the famous ship to a finish and sunk her. Thus the tragedy of “The Army of the Potomac” was given after all, and Playwright Stanton and Composer Welles were vindicated, their compositions having been received by the public with great favor.


Secretary of State Seward did not appreciate President Lincoln’s ability until he had been associated with him for quite a time, but he was awakened to a full realization of the greatness of the Chief Executive “all of a sudden.”

Having submitted “Some Thoughts for the President’s Consideration”–a lengthy paper intended as an outline of the policy, both domestic and foreign, the Administration should pursue–he was not more surprised at the magnanimity and kindness of President Lincoln’s reply than the thorough mastery of the subject displayed by the President.

A few months later, when the Secretary had begun to understand Mr. Lincoln, he was quick and generous to acknowledge his power.

“Executive force and vigor are rare qualities,” he wrote to Mrs. Seward. “The President is the best of us.”


Superintendent Chandler, of the Telegraph Office in the War Department, once told how President Lincoln wrote telegrams. Said he:

“Mr. Lincoln frequently wrote telegrams in my office. His method of composition was slow and laborious. It was evident that he thought out what he was going to say before he touched his pen to the paper. He would sit looking out of the window, his left elbow on the table, his hand scratching his temple, his lips moving, and frequently he spoke the sentence aloud or in a half whisper.

“After he was satisfied that he had the proper expression, he would write it out. If one examines the originals of Mr. Lincoln’s telegrams and letters, he will find very few erasures and very little interlining. This was because he had them definitely in his mind before writing them.

“In this he was the exact opposite of Mr. Stanton, who wrote with feverish haste, often scratching out words, and interlining frequently. Sometimes he would seize a sheet which he had filled, and impatiently tear it into pieces.”


Several United States Senators urged President Lincoln to muster Southern slaves into the Union Army. Lincoln replied:

“Gentlemen, I have put thousands of muskets into the hands of loyal citizens of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Western North Carolina. They have said they could defend themselves, if they had guns. I have given them the guns. Now, these men do not believe in mustering-in the negro. If I do it, these thousands of muskets will be turned against us. We should lose more than we should gain.”

Being still further urged, President Lincoln gave them this answer:

“Gentlemen,” he said, “I can’t do it. I can’t see it as you do. You may be right, and I may be wrong; but I’ll tell you what I can do; I can resign in favor of Mr. Hamlin. Perhaps Mr. Hamlin could do it.”

The matter ended there, for the time being.


The President took a lively interest in all new firearm improvements and inventions, and it sometimes happened that, when an inventor could get nobody else in the Government to listen to him, the President would personally test his gun. A former clerk in the Navy Department tells an incident illustrative.

He had stayed late one night at his desk, when he heard some one striding up and down the hall muttering: “I do wonder if they have gone already and left the building all alone.” Looking out, the clerk was surprised to see the President.

“Good evening,” said Mr. Lincoln. “I was just looking for that man who goes shooting with me sometimes.”

The clerk knew Mr. Lincoln referred to a certain messenger of the Ordnance Department who had been accustomed to going with him to test weapons, but as this man had gone home, the clerk offered his services. Together they went to the lawn south of the White House, where Mr. Lincoln fixed up a target cut from a sheet of white Congressional notepaper.

“Then pacing off a distance of about eighty or a hundred feet,” writes the clerk, “he raised the rifle to a level, took a quick aim, and drove the round of seven shots in quick succession, the bullets shooting all around the target like a Gatling gun and one striking near the center.

“‘I believe I can make this gun shoot better,’ said Mr. Lincoln, after we had looked at the result of the first fire. With this he took from his vest pocket a small wooden sight which he had whittled from a pine stick, and adjusted it over the sight of the carbine. He then shot two rounds, and of the fourteen bullets nearly a dozen hit the paper!”