Abraham Lincoln and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania helped nominate Abraham Lincoln for President. However, prior to Mr. Lincoln’s selection as the Republican presidential nominee in 1860, he had never given a speech in the state. In early June 1848, Congressman Lincoln had been an Illinois delegate to the Whig National Convention in Philadelphia, supporting the nomination of General Taylor. But there is no record of him giving a speech there although he gave a speech on the way home in nearby Delaware and traveled north to give a series of speeches that September in Massachusetts.
Mr. Lincoln declined invitations to speak in the state in 1860 when it might have helped his nascent presidential candidacy. After Mr. Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech in February 1860, he was invited by the Young Men’s Working Club of the Republican Party in Newark, New Jersey to give a speech but he declined. He wrote Isaac Pomeroy that after 10 speeches in New England, “I shall be so far worn down, and also will be carried so far beyond my allotted time, that an immediate return home will be a necessity with me. At this very sitting I am declining invitations to go to Philadelphia, Reading, and Pittsburgh in Pa.” 1
His decision may have been influenced by the fact that Pennsylvania had its own candidate for the Republican presidential nomination — Senator Simon Cameron. In 1860, according to historian John D. Stewart II, “The Cameron organization is best described as a core or cadre from which a machine could be constructed. His numerous friends throughout the state were strong at the local level. Over the years, too, he had constructed a working relationship with many state newspapers and could generally rely on a ‘good press’ for support. A former Democrat, Cameron could count on the suppo9rt of some of his old colleagues. But most important, he had the backing of the Pennsylvania Railroad which reputedly controlled the state, and had been a champion of state protectionists and new industries since 1842. The reason for his tremendous power, according to one biographer, was extremely simple. ‘Here was a man who would make more personal exertions to oblige his ‘friends’ than perhaps any many who ever occupied a seat in the Senate of the United States.” 2
Pennsylvania was a swing state which the Republicans had not carried in 1856 but needed to carry in 1860 to win the presidential nomination. But as important as the presidential election was, to Pennsylvania Republicans even more important was the election of a Republican as governor. Along with Republicans in another swing state, Indiana, Pennsylvanians were concerned that the nomination of New York Senator William H. Seward would doom their chances to win the governorship. They needed the Republican Party to nominee a candidate more appealing to the relatively conservative voters of Pennsylvania and Indiana. Indiana gubernatorial candidate Henry S. Lane was very determined to block Seward’s nomination. Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Curtin was equally determined. Both Lane and Curtin faced gubernatorial elections a month before the presidential election in November — elections that would be a bellwether for Republican success.
Curtin recalled: “Though not a delegate I went to the Republican National Convention at Chicago in May, 1860, determined to do al in my power to prevent the nomination of Senator Seward. I had no personal bias in the matter, for at that time I had not become personally acquainted with either Seward or Lincoln. I knew, however, in my own state at least a large part of those who would support [John] Bell and [Edward] Everett if Seward were nominated would under other circumstances come to us. My sole opposition to Senator Seward was based on upon his want of strength in Pennsylvania, as the natural result of defeat in that state in October would have been a national defeat in November.” 3
Upon arrival in Chicago, Curtin quickly agreed to work in concert with Lane to prevent Seward’s nomination and unite them behind an alternative candidacy. Pennsylvania Republican Chairman Alexander K. McClure remembered: “Both of the candidates [for governor] presented in these two pivotal States were men of peculiar fitness for the arduous task they had assumed. Both were admittedly the strongest men that could have been nominated by the opposition to the Democracy, and both were experienced and consummate politicians. Their general knowledge of politics and of the bearing of all political questions likely to be felt in the contest made them not only wise counselors but all appreciated the fact that they were of all men the most certain to advise solely with reference to success. Neither of them cared whether Seward, Lincoln, Bates, or any of the other men named for President should be nominated, if the man chosen was certain to be the most available. They were looking solely to their own success in October, and their success meant the success of the Republican Party in the nation. With Lane was John D. Defrees, chairman of his State committee, who had been called to that position because he was regarded as best fitted to lead in the desperate contest before him. I was with Curtin and interested as he was only in his individual success, as he had summoned me to take charge of his October battle in Pennsylvania. The one thing that Curtin, Lane, and their respective lieutenants agreed upon was that the nomination of Seward meant hopeless defeat in their respective States. Lane and Defrees were positive in the assertion that the nomination of Seward would lose the Governorship in Indiana. Curtin and I were equally positive in declaring the nomination of Seward would defeat Curtin in Pennsylvania.”
There was no personal hostility to Seward in the efforts made by Curtin and Lane to defeat him. They had no reason whatever to hinder his nomination, excepting the settled conviction that the nomination of Seward meant their own inevitable defeat. It is not true, as has been assumed by many, that the objection to Seward was because of his radical or advanced position in Republican faith. It was not Seward’s ‘irrepressible conflict’ or his ‘higher-law’ declarations which made Curtin and Lane oppose him as the Republican candidate. On the contrary, both of them were thoroughly anti-slavery men, and they finally accepted Lincoln with the full knowledge that he was even in advance of Seward in forecasting the ‘irrepressible conflict.’” 4
Ohio journalist Murat Halstead wrote: “The Pennsylvanians had been fed upon meat, such that they presented themselves at Chicago with the presumption that they had only to say what they wished, and receive the endorsement of the Convention. And they were for Cameron. He was the only man, they a thousand times said, who would certainly carry Pennsylvania. They were astonished, alarmed, and maddened to find public opinion settling down upon Seward and Lincoln, and that one or the other must be nominated. They saw that Lincoln was understood to be the only man to defeat Seward, and thinking themselves capable of holding that balance of power, so much depended upon, and so deceptive on those occasions, stood out against the Lincoln combination. Upon some of the delegation, Seward operations had been performed with perceptible effect. The Seward men had stated that the talk of not carrying Pennsylvania was all nonsense. Seward had a good Tariff record, and his friends would spend money enough in the State to carry it against any Democratic candidate who was a possibility. The flood of Seward money promised for Pennsylvania was not without efficacy. The phrase used was, that Seward’s friends ‘would spend oceans of money.’” 5
McClure, who was just 32 in 1860, later wrote: “Cameron was a Senator when Lincoln served his single term in Congress, but they did not become even acquaintances, and he first became involved in Lincoln’s political life in 1860, when both were candidates for the Republican nomination for President. Cameron’s candidacy was not regarded as a serious effort to nominate him, but the peculiar political situation in Pennsylvania greatly favored him in making himself the candidate of the State, and with his sagacity and energy in political affairs he was not slow to avail himself of it. Curtin was the prominent candidate for Governor, and Cameron led Curtin’s opponents. Curtin commanded the nomination for Governor, and naturally enough desired a united party to assure his election. Cameron secured a majority of votes in the State Convention for President, and reasonably claimed that he was as much entitled to the united support of the party for President as Curtin was entitled to it for Governor. The conflict between the two elements of the party led to a compromise, by which a nearly united delegation was given to Cameron for a complimentary vote for President. Cameron himself believed, in after years, that he could have been nominated and elected if he had been heartily pressed by Pennsylvania.” 6
The key to Mr. Lincoln’s victory was locking up the Indiana and Pennsylvania delegations which were concerned about the election of their gubernatorial candidates in October. Pennsylvania was leaning to Bates, but at a meeting of the two delegations at the Cook County Court House, Illinois Lt. Gov. Gustave Koerner’s contention that German-Americans would never support Bates helped convince Pennsylvania that Bates was not a viable office for Republicans. 7 Historian William E. Baringer wrote that “Pennsylvania might go for Bates as their second choice, because the People’s Party there, which, like the Opposition Party of New Jersey, espoused ‘a superficial and only half-developed Republicanism,’ and contained many old line Whig and Know-Nothings, seemingly could carry the state most easily with ‘a prominent Whig who had been more or less affiliated with the American Party.’ Bates promoters were there in force to point out the perfect qualifications of their candidate.” When the Pennsylvania delegation met without outsiders, it voted to back Mr. Lincoln as their second choice. 8
McClure attributed Lincoln’s nomination to Curtin and Lane: “When it became known that Seward’s nomination would defeat the party in Pennsylvania and Indiana, the natural inquiry was, Who can best aid these candidates for Governor in their State contests? Indiana decided in favor of Lincoln at an early stage of the struggle, and her action had much to do in deciding Pennsylvania’s support of Lincoln. The Pennsylvania delegation had much less knowledge of Lincoln than the men of Indiana, and there were very few original supporters of Lincoln among them. Wilmot was for Lincoln from the state, Stevens was for Judge McLean; [A. H.] Reeder was for General Cameron. The delegation was not a harmonious one, because of the hostility of a considerable number of the delegates to Cameron for President, and it was not until the first day that the convention met that Pennsylvania got into anything like a potential attitude….The battle came then between Bates and Lincoln, and but for the facts that Indiana had previously declared for Lincoln, and that Curtin and Lane were acting in concert, there is little reason to doubt that Bates would have been preferred. Much feeling was exhibited in decided the third choice of the State, and Lincoln finally won over Bates by four majority. When it became known that Pennsylvania had indicated Lincoln was her third choice, it gave a wonderful impetus to the Lincoln cause.” 9
The key meetings took place on Thursday of convention week. Historian Allan Nevins wrote: “A special factor perhaps helped to bring the Pennsylvanians over to Lincoln’s side. The Rock Island Bridge had been constructed by two Pennsylvanians, William L. Scott and his brother-in-law John F. Tracy, men associated in railway building, shipping, and coal mining. Tracy, in fact, had gone to Chicago in 1854, and taken over the extension of the Rock Island Railroad, then a few miles west of Chicago, across the Mississippi and into Iowa. Tracy employed as attorney for the railroad Norman Norman B. Judd, and it was through Judd that Lincoln was made special counsel in the famous bridge case. As it happened, the Chicago convention found a partner of Scott’s and Tracy’s named Morrow B Lowry (who had charge of some of their Great Lakes shipping) a delegate from Pennsylvania. Lowry and Judd were good friends. Moreover, Lowry knew Lincoln, and had consulted with him in the bridge case. In after years, Lowry frequently boasted that he had been the active agent in bringing the Pennsylvania vote over to Lincoln. At any rate, about midnight, Davis came down the stairs of the Tremont House from the Cameron rooms and exultantly told Medill: ‘Damned if we haven’t got them!’ As they had apparently been bought and sold once or twice before, this was saying a good deal. He had promised Cameron a Cabinet position. According to A.K. McClure, this pledge also was unnecessary; the delegation had already decided to support Lincoln when the Senator’s friends maneuvered Davis into giving the inducement! What is certain is that the promise was made. It was given without authority, and to a man quite unfit for a Cabinet position; but in time it was duly honored.” 10
Historian Reinhard H. Luthin noted: “Curtin’s lieutenant, Alexander K. McClure, a participant in the midnight caucus that swung Pennsylvania to Lincoln, insisted that the shift to Lincoln was made before the promise of a Cabinet post to Cameron. Later McClure declared that as soon as the Pennsylvania delegation had decided to support Lincoln, one of Cameron’s confidential advisers, John P. Sanderson, of the Philadelphia Daily News, obtained a conference with Judge Davis and Leonard Swett, and secured this promise in behalf of his chief from them.” 11
Historian Allan Nevins wrote: “One other witness asserts that the critical moment came when committees from the Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania delegations, meeting in David Wilmot’s rooms on the fateful night, took a poll to decide which man, Lincoln, Cameron, or Dayton, had the most support. This is the story told by Charles Perrin Smith, in personal reminiscences deposited in the New Jersey State Library. Early in the week, he relates, a body of New England delegates, headed by John A. Andrew, had called upon the New Jersey delegation. They said that if Seward could not be elected, they would support anyone who could, but, pointing out that the opposition strength was divided among Cameron, Dayton, and Lincoln, declared that unless Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana agreed on a single man, the New Englanders would go into the convention to vote for Seward. Smith states that on Thursday at noon the four doubtful States assembled at the Cameron rooms. In an attempt to unite. Reeder presided. It was soon evident that nothing could be done by so large a body. The matter was therefore referred to a committee of three from each of the four States, which sat in David Wilmot’s rooms from six until ten without reaching a decision. As a last recourse, one delegate proposed that it should be ascertained which of the three candidates had the greatest actual strength, and could carry the largest number of delegates from the four States, if the other two were dropped. This showed that Lincoln stood in the strongest position; and Pennsylvania and New Jersey then decided to turn to him after the first ballots.” 12
Historian William B. Hesseltine wrote: “In Pennsylvania, amid many assurances that Seward could not possibly have carried the state, there was great rejoicing over the tariff, Simon Cameron told an audience at Harrisburg that Lincoln’s record on protection was ‘clear, emphatic, and beyond suspicion.’ In Philadelphia the People’s Party talked of the Republican nominee as a friend of the poor, a lover of liberty, and a ‘conspicuous advocate’ of protection, river and harbor improvements, a Pacific railroad, and free homesteads.” 13 Pennsylvania was particularly important because it voted for governor in October and the results would be a harbinger of the national presidential results a month later.
The split between the Curtin and Cameron factions was patched over but not closed during the campaign. The Curtin faction liquored up the Cameron faction of the Republican State Committee the night before the state committee convened it then took over complete leadership of the Republican campaign effort under State Chairman Alexander K. McClure. McClure biographer William H. Russell noted: “From the start of the campaign, McClure recognized that he must not only win votes, but make sure that his contribution was known and appreciated by those who would come into power. Beginning in June, he wrote to Lincoln about once a week until the November election, reporting the progress of the campaign. Usually he devoted more space to the difficulties of the Democrats than to the work of the People’s Party. Lincoln always sent a brief reply, showing by his inquiries and suggestions that he appreciated the practical problems of the campaign.” 14 Historian Robert L. Bloom noted: “The Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign of 1860 was not fought on state issues. Indeed, state issues had been dormant for most of the preceding decade…The record and platforms of the national parties were the primary factors shaping public attitudes. An increasingly pro-tariff state, Pennsylvania presented a golden opportunity the Republicans since the long-standing anti-protectionist course of their rivals made Democratic candidates exceedingly vulnerable.” 15
“My confidence in our success in this State has never been shaken,” McClure wrote Mr. Lincoln. “I think I have weighed carefully & appreciated our dangers — at least it has been my aim to do so, rather than to seek for the more flattering aspects of the battle. I have never doubted but that we should have a struggle in October that would stagger our friends, if not thoroughly prepared for it, for a party voting in over-confidence is most easily defeated; and to guard that one point the whole efforts of our organization have been directed,” McClure wrote Mr. Lincoln at the end of August. “I was pained to learn from an unquestionable source that some of our petty bickerings in this State have been obtruded upon you. Rest assured that there will be no factious war in our ranks. Those who are charged with the responsibility of this great struggle in Penna. can afford to be wronged, but cannot afford to quarrel.” 16
Pennsylvania Republicans continued to quarrel, but not as much as Pennsylvania Democrats did. Historian Reinhard H. Luthin wrote: “The Republican feud, however, was indeed mild when compared with the Democrats’ family quarrels. The Republican troubles were grounded in the rivalry of two state leaders, Cameron and Curtin. The Democratic rupture was based on the friction between two national chieftains, Buchanan and Douglas.” 17 The Cameron faction was alienated but the Curtin faction worked doubly hard and produced a Republican victory by 30,000 votes in November.
Alexander K. McClure recalled: “It was believed on all sides that unless Pennsylvania could be carried in October, Lincoln’s defeat would be certain in November. Pennsylvania was thus accepted as the key to Republican success, and Lincoln naturally watched the struggle with intense interest. In accordance with his repeated solicitations, he was advised from the headquarters of the State Committee, of which I was chairman, of all the varied phases of the struggle. It soon became evident from his inquiries and versatile suggestions that he took nothing for granted. He had to win the preliminary battle in October, and he left nothing undone within his power to ascertain the exact situation and to understand every peril involved in it.” 18
Pennsylvania’s economic interests, however, were not united behind Mr. Lincoln. “McClure found it difficult to raise funds in Philadelphia. For business men believed that if Lincoln and Curtin should triumph, that city would lose its profitable southern trade; moreover, merchants were disgusted with politics and politicians,” wrote Historian Reinhard H. Luthin. “This conservatism in Philadelphia and elsewhere throughout the state furnished the Democrats with what they hoped would be their most effective campaign arguments. They charged the Republicans with abolitionism.” 19 Both sides were probably surprised by the strength of Mr. Lincoln’s 60,000-vote victory in November, nearly doubling the 32,000-vote gubernatorial majority Curtin had won a month earlier. The Republican sweep included all but 7 of the state’s 25 seats in Congress.
Mr. Lincoln’s ability to work with both the Curtin and Cameron factions in Pennsylvania in 1860 was illustrative of his political dexterity. But that dexterity was tested in the months before President-elect Lincoln became President Lincoln. Cameron was a former Democrat with widespread business interests in newspapers, banking and manufacturing, he was a friend and colleague of James Buchanan. Rumors of alleged corruption dated back to his alleged swindle of Indians and provided his nickname. But in 1857, Thad Stevens decided to help return him to the Senate as a Republican. Stevens was successful but not without the stink of corruption surrounding Cameron’s election. Cameron had a long reputation as a political wheel-dealer. Historian Allan Nevins wrote that Cameron’s “papers show that for years he had been in the habit of lending legislators small sums on their notes, with the understanding that these would never be presented for payment if the beneficiaries furnished some quid pro quo. He was president of the Lebanon Valley Railroad, with offices at Reading, and prominent in other business enterprises — coal, banking, insurance — which offered possibilities in the way of pressure or reward. In short, he could wave his hand with fair confidence that a number of Harrisburg Democrats would instantly fall into line.” 20
Allegations of Cameron’s corruption swept back to Springfield, Illinois, once it became clear that he was under consideration for the Cabinet. Historian William E. Baringer wrote: “Pursuant to the Lincoln request that charges of corruption be specific, opponents conducted researches into Cameron’s history. “If I am incorrect,’ wrote one, ‘in supposing that Mr. Cameron defrauded the Winnebago half-breeds of $66,000 about the year 1832, I am not mistaken in believing that his general reputation is shockingly bad….I tell you the public conscience has received a violent shock….’ If the Republican Party ‘is to be saved from utter ruin.’ Cameron must be excluded. James H. Van Alen of New York sent to Springfield a sheaf of congressional documents dealing with the Wisconsin aborigines. A Pennsylvania editor to whom Lincoln was indebted for past favors termed the Chief ‘the incarnation of the idea of public corruption. His election to the Senate was alleged to have been purchased for $32,000. ‘He is corrupt as a dung hill.’” 21
When Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens discovered that Cameron had reversed his pledge to Stevens not to accept a cabinet position, Stevens wrote Illinois Congressman Elihu B. Washburne: “If it be possible (as I fear) that he has so far forgotten his honor as to consent to be again considered a candidate, you may well understand how I should view it personally. I do not say what I know of the Generals antecedents — But his character may be well inferred from this ACT — I must ever look upon him as a man destitute of honor and honesty.” 22 There was a long and vicious tug of-war between pro-Cameron Republicans and anti-Cameron Republicans — both inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Cameron’s nomination was pushed by Seward ally Thurlow Weed of New York but opposed by many New York City Republicans at odds with Seward.
Cameron was not shy in reminding Judge David Davis about commitments that had been made in Chicago. Lincoln scholar Elwin L. Page, who wrote a book about the struggle, noted: “On November 19, [Joseph] Casey wrote to David Davis that he and Russell Erret had just got back from seeing Lincoln. Except for a small lot of politicians in Philadelphia and a wild Irishman in Pittsburgh, everybody was for Cameron. Read’s pretensions, said Casey were preposterous. Those backing him wanted jobs, and his friends were so few that Read could gratify them all if he got a cabinet place. As for Cameron, he wished to stay in the Senate, but his friends wanted him in the cabinet.
“That same November 19, Casey wrote also to Leonard Swett a letter that came into Lincoln’s hands. It was much like his letter to Judge Davis, but it added that, besides Reeder and Pollock, David Wilmot (of Proviso fame) and Tad Stevens (both delegates to Chicago) were for Cameron.
“Then Casey threw a bomb that burst with a loud bang. On the 27th he wrote Swett: ‘From some things that occurred when I was at Springfield, my mind has since been in doubt, as to whether Mr. Lincoln has been made fully acquainted with the conversations and understandings, had between you & Judge Davis on the one side, & myself, on the other, at the Tremont House, the night before the nominations.’ Of course, said Casey, he had had to communicate those understandings to a few of Cameron’s most confidential friends, ‘in order to counteract other schemes, and overcome other inducements, from different quarters.’ Casey felt that he would be a ruined man if the assurances given by Swett and Davis were not realized.23
Page wrote: “The electoral college of Pennsylvania wished to back Cameron, but Cameron told it to do nothing; it made him uncomfortable, he said, lest Lincoln think that it acted at his desires; he doubted that he ought to leave the Senate. So Casey wrote to Davis on November 28. Davis sent the letter to Lincoln.” Although Cameron had supporters in Pennsylvania, he also had vocal opponents. Mr. Lincoln invited representatives of both camps to visit with him in Springfield. Page wrote former Governor “Andrew H. Reeder saw Lincoln on December 6, at Springfield in behalf of Cameron. On December 18 to Lincoln that he had told Cameron that Lincoln desired to see him, and Cameron was pleased. But four days later Reeder had to write that on second thought Cameron had concluded that if he went west there would be misapprehension that he was personally soliciting a place.” 24
Page wrote: “David Wilmot was asked by Lincoln on December 5 to go to Springfield. He replied that he would go as soon as his engagement in court permitted. His mind, he said, had been rather inclined to support Cameron, who was of unquestioned ability ‘in his way,’ a powerful politician, and tactful in his dealings with men. No appointment obnoxious to him ought to be made. But in view of Pennsylvania’s quarrels, he had come to think that perhaps it would be as well to pas Pennsylvania by,” wrote Lincoln scholar Elwin Page. “Wilmot did not reach Springfield until the morning of December 24. He wrote Lincoln from the St. Nicholas Hotel that he would wait on him at any hour. Lincoln’s reply was to wait on Wilmot at the hotel, where he spent most of the day. What happened in that long talk we shall never know. The Lincoln Papers are silent. The Wilmot Papers have been destroyed.” 25
Lincoln friend Leonard Swett recalled that when Thurlow Weed met with President-elect Lincoln at the end of December: “General Cameron was desirous of being Secretary of the Treasury, and the question of his relations to the Cabinet was considered. This was the only subject upon which Mr. Weed, as it seemed to me, did not speak with entire freedom. He spoke kindly of General Cameron; said that Pennsylvania was entitled to a place in the Cabinet, and conceded that state would be for Cameron. He thought, however, it would be wiser to give Cameron some other place than the Treasury.” 26 Cameron subsequently met with President Lincoln on December 30; he was offered a Cabinet spot on December 31 but President Lincoln subsequently regretted the appointment and tried to rescind it.
Pennsylvania Republican Alexander K. McCLure wrote: “About the 1st of January, 1861, I received a telegram from Lincoln requesting me to come to Springfield. It is proper to say that this invitation was in answer to a telegram from me advising him against the appointment of General Cameron as Secretary of War. The factional feuds and bitter antagonisms of that day have long since perished, and I do not purpose in any way to revive them. On the 31st of December, Lincoln had delivered to Cameron at Springfield a letter notifying him that he would be nominated for a Cabinet position. This fact became known immediately upon Cameron’s return, and inspired very vigorous opposition to his appointment, in which Governor Curtin, Thaddeus Stevens, David Wilmot, and many others participated. Although the [State] Senate, of which I was a member, was just about to organize, I hastened to Springfield and reached there at seven o’clock in the evening. I had telegraphed Lincoln of the hour that I should arrive and that I must return at eleven the same night. I went directly from the depot to Lincoln’s house and rang the bell, which was answered by Lincoln himself opening the door. I doubt whether I wholly concealed my disappointment at meeting him. Tall, gaunt, ungainly, ill clad, with a homeliness of manner that was unique in itself, I confess that that my heart sank within me as I remembered that this was the man chosen by a great nation to become its rules in the gravest period of its history. I remember his dress as if it were but yesterday — snuff-colored and slouchy pantaloons; open black vest, held by a few brass buttons; straight or evening dress-coat, with tightly-fitting sleeves to exaggerate his long, bony arms, and all supplemented by an awkwardness that was uncommon among men of intelligence. Such was the picture I met in the person of Abraham Lincoln. We sat down in his plainly furnished parlor, and were uninterrupted during the nearly four hours that I remained with him, and little by little, as his earnestness, sincerity, and candor were developed in conversation, I forgot all the grotesque qualities which so confounded me when I first greeted him. Before half an hour had passed I learned not only to respect, but, indeed, to reverence the man.
McClure continued:”It is needless to give any account of the special mission on which I was called to Springfield, beyond the fact that the tender of a Cabinet position to Pennsylvania was recalled by him on the following day, although renewed and accepted two months later, when the Cabinet was finally formed in Washington. It was after the Pennsylvania Cabinet imbroglio was disposed of that Lincoln exhibited his true self without reserve.27 Historian William E. Baringer wrote: “In Washington, according to reporters there, Cameron’s alleged appointment was popular. But it was not popular with the Chase wing of whilom Democrats. They went to [Lyman] Trumbull, one of their number, with vociferous complaint, demanding to know how Trumbull had let it happen, the Illinois Senator replying that he was not consulted, which was not true, and that he had no responsibility for it, which was correct.” 28
“Lincoln is in a fix,” correctly declared Lincoln law partner William H. Herndon to Lyman Trumbull. Cameron’s appointment to an office in his Cabinet bothers him. If Lincoln do appoint Cameron he gets a fight on his hands, and if he do not he gets a quarrel deep, abiding, & lasting. What a world we live in! The game of politics is a pure game, full of honesty and true deep gratitude. Three fourths of the political world — those who lead especially — are corrupt — fish — dollar — power seekers — mud hunters — scoundrels. So this political world wags. Poor Lincoln! God help him! Pshaw what a scramble for office! What angry looks & growls for bones that have fat & meat on them Dogs fight away!” 29
At Cameron’s behest, Pennsylvania Congressman James Kennedy Moorhead and Cameron ally Alex Cummings visited Mr. Lincoln in Springfield. Judge David Davis met with Mr. Lincoln and told them that “Lincoln was not favorable to Cameron’s appointment. We finally had an interview with Lincoln ourselves. He was very much opposed to appointing Cameron, and expressed himself very emphatically in that direction.” President-elect Lincoln told them: “All through the campaign my friends have been calling me ‘Honest Old Abe,’ and I have been elected mainly on that cry. What will be thought now if the first thing I do is appoint C., whose very name stinks in the nostrils of the people for his corruption?” Moorhead recalled: “We came away without any very strong expectations of success. We were satisfied a good deal would have to be done after Mr. L. came here to Washington if it was accomplished.” 30
Historians Carman and Luthin wrote: “Opposition to Cameron came not alone from the Curtinites of Pennsylvania. Other groups outside of the Keystone State now joined the anti-Cameron forces. Joseph Medill, Charles H. Ray, and Horace White, who edited and published the influential Chicago Press & Tribune, wanted no part of the wily Pennsylvanian. To give him a place in the Cabinet would, they declared, be catastrophic. Moreover, they wanted Chase in the Cabinet to offset the Cameron-Seward influence. Ray and Medill, according to the latter’s biographer, were fearful that Weed, Cameron, and Caleb Smith would get control of the Cabinet. White, equally apprehensive, protested to Senator Trumbull: ‘If I am incorrect in supposing that Mr. C. defrauded the Winebago half-breeds of $66,000 about the year 1832, I am not mistaken in believing that his general reputation is shockingly bad….For my part I wish that Albany and Harrisburgh were in the bottom of the sea.’ At this time — the closing days of December 1860 — the Judd-Trumbull, or anti-Davis, anti-Seward, anti-Cameron faction of the Illinois Republicans received support from Vice President-elect Hamlin, who had no love for Cameron. On December 27 Hamlin wrote to Lincoln protesting against Cameron’s possible appointment. Apparently Hamlin’s letter reached Lincoln or was read by him shortly after the latter had on December 31 handed Cameron the written invitation to join the Cabinet family.” 31
Chicago editor Charles H. Ray wrote to Massachusetts Gov. John A. Andrew, “The Cameron business has been arrested; and now if by such energetic remonstrances as yours, we can prevent it being reopened, a great victory will have been gained.” He continued: “We here — I mean Mr. Lincoln’s original friends, especially among the Radical Democrats, are doing what we can to get Mr. Chase into the Cabinet as a counterbalance to the schemers who hang upon the skirts of Mr. Seward. We feel that he is necessary to a complete vindication of the financial promises which were made to the people; and that his great ability in affairs will give the force to Mr. Lincoln which nature has denied him, and which Mr. Seward also lacks. But we will have nothing to do with the Cameron gang except to denounce their malpractices, in the Senate, and hold them up to the reprobation of the country. Mr. C. being set aside, I think Chase would accept the portfolio of the Treasury, simply from his just idea of the great good of which he may be the author. Why not write him from Boston urging his acceptance?” 32
Although Cameron had his sights fixed on nomination as secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Lincoln did not. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles recalled: “At no time had his private judgment inclined the President to give Cameron the treasury. The intrigue of the New York clique and a few similar characters in Pennsylvania had, in some degree biased his mind, but sweeping condemnation on ever hand outside of the circle mentioned, convinced him his own instincts were right and that it would be an unacceptable if not improper appointment. Mr. Seward, who had trusted to his friends to accomplish his wishes, felt at length compelled to express his feelings and views. He stated to the President that association with Mr. Cameron would on many accounts make the appointment of that gentleman more pleasant to him than Mr. Chase, but dwelt strongly and more particularly on the understanding which existed and the disappointment which would follow if he discarded the Pennsylvania senator. On these points the President had arrived at conclusions entirely different, and Senator Preston King, whom, with others he consulted, while they had not a strong partiality for Mr. Chase, protested most earnestly against placing Cameron in the treasury.” 33
In February 1861, Pennsylvania’s business community rallied behind Cameron after it appeared that Pennsylvania might be omitted from the new Lincoln cabinet. According to John D. Stewart II, “Tom Scott, dynamic, thirty-eight-year-old vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad proposed a deal to stop the cabinet fight, but Cameron was neither impressed nor cooperative. He chose to play a waiting game as opposition to Salmon Chase for the treasury post grew throughout the Commonwealth.” Without an alternative to Cameron acceptable to a wide swath of the state’s commercial and political leaders, Cameron’s selection seemed inevitable. When Mr. Lincoln was in Philadelphia, noted Bradley Hoch, “Lincoln met privately with Judge James Milliken who represented Pennsylvania coal and iron interests, Morton McMichael of the Philadelphia North American who represented the press, and several other individuals. There was great pressure on Lincoln to appointed Simon Cameron to his cabinet.” 35 Cameron biographer Erwin S. Bradley wrote: “The way was now open for a fresh reappraisal of Cameron’s claims to a cabinet post when Lincoln appeared in Philadelphia en route to the capital. On February 22, Simon Cameron received personal or proxy endorsements from A .K. McClure, A.G. Curtin, Eli Slifer, Morton McMichael, Henry C. Carey, and James Milliken, speaking for the powerful coal and iron interests of Pennsylvania. Senators James Dixon, Edward D. Baker, and Zachariah Chandler sent endorsements to the capital. Capitulation of the anti-Cameron faction, believed the New York Times, had removed the last barrier to Cameron’s entrance into the cabinet. At Washington on February 28 and March 1, talks took place between Lincoln and Cameron. Since S. P. Chase was definitely slated for the Treasury, only the War Department was available. According to the pro-Cameron sheet in Harrisburg, the Telegraph, Lincoln urged the War Department upon him. Lincoln nominated Cameron for the post the day following his inauguration.” 36
As Milliken related the meeting with President-elect Lincoln in a letter to Cameron: “I addressed Mr. Lincoln frankly and candidly. I pointed out our political position, and the importance that the state as a unit on all questions relating to his administration and the state administration, and that I was now authorized to speak, for the Governor, Mr. McClure and the members of the state administration, present and say that all opposition to your appointment had been withdrawn and your appointment desired. That I also represented the Iron and Coal men of Penn., and for that large class and their interests — with very few individual exceptions — I was also authorised to speak and that they too desired your appointment. That for the Press, Mr. McMichael would speak, which he did, and, that with your appointment, his administration should receive our hearty support.” 37
The Cameron controversy had abated during President-elect Lincoln’s 10-day trip from Illinois to Washington. The Lincoln entourage from Springfield to Washington train detoured from Ohio to Pittsburgh on February 14 — arriving three hours late because a disabled train had blocked its path at Rochester, Pennsylvania. According to Lincoln scholar Victor Searcher, rain “had thinned the crowd that had been waiting long and patiently to see the man for whom the community had so overwhelmingly voted. Nevertheless, a hardy group acclaimed him as he detrained.” 38 Lincoln scholar Bradley R. Hoch wrote: “Finally at 8 P.M. the locomotive engine ‘Comet,’ decorated with American flags, pulled three passengers and one baggage car into the station in Allegheny City.” 39 After a brief welcome, the Lincoln entourage was taken to Mononaghela House, arriving at 9 P.M. Rather than give his prepared remarks to the thousands who waited inside and outside the hotel, Mr. Lincoln decided to speak the next morning.
It was still raining the next morning when Mayor George Wilson introduced the President-elect to a large crowd gathered outside the hotel. Journalist Henry Villard wrote: “The rain in which the Presidential party entered Pittsburgh last night was still pouring down this morning, but the President-elect was nevertheless true to his word, and appeared on the balcony of his hotel at eight thirty A.M. and delivered the address, promised the previous evening, to a multitude of five thousand people, under an ocean of umbrellas.” 40 According to the Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle, Mr. Lincoln “wore a black dress suit, rather fashionably made, with large turndown collar and black tie. A judiciously cultivated beard and whiskers hides the hollowness of his jaws to some extent, and takes away the prominence of the cheek bones, given him in engravings.” 41
Mr. Lincoln said: “You know that it has not been my custom, since I started on the route to Washington, to make long speeches; I am rather inclined to silence, ['That's right'] and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual now-a-days to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot. [Laughter, and a voice -- 'No raillery Abe.'] 42 Mr. Lincoln’s remarks were reported:
“Notwithstanding the troubles across the river, [the speaker pointing southwardly, and smiling] there is really no crisis, springing from anything in the government itself. In plain words, there is really no crisis except an artificial one! What is there now to warrant the condition of affairs presented by our friends ‘over the river?’ Take even their own view of the questions involved, and there is nothing to justify the course which they are pursing. I repeat it, then — there is no crisis, excepting such a one as may be gotten up at any time by designing politicians. My advice, then, under such circumstances, is to keep cool. If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to and end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled just as surely as all other difficulties of like character which have originated in this government have been adjusted. Let the people on both sides keep their self-possession, and just as other clouds have cleared away in due time, so will this, and this great nation shall continue to prosper as heretofore. But, fellow citizens, I have spoken longer on this subject than I had intended in the outset — and I shall say no more at present.”
“Fellow citizens, as this is the first opportunity which I have had to address a Pennsylvania assemblage, it seems a fitting time to indulge in a few remarks upon the important question of a tariff — a subject of great magnitude, and one which is attended with many difficulties, owing to the great variety of interests which it involves. So long as direct taxation for the support of government is not resorted to, a tariff is necessary. The tariff is to the government what a meal is to the family; but, while this is admitted, it still becomes necessary to modify and change its operations according to new interests and new circumstances. So far there is little difference of opinion, but the question as to how far imposts may be adjusted for the protection of home industry, gives rise to various views and objections. I must confess that I do not understand this subject in all its multiform bearings, but I promise you that I will give it my closest attention, and endeavor to comprehend it more fully. and here I may remark that the Chicago platform contains a plank upon this subject, which I think should be regarded as law for the incoming administration. In fact, this question, as well as all other subjects embodied in that platform, should be varied from what we gave the people to understand would be our policy when we obtained their votes. Permit me, fellow citizens, to read the tariff plank of the Chicago platform, or rather, to have it read in your hearing by one who has younger eyes than I have.”
“Mr. Lincoln’s private Secretary then read section twelfth of the Chicago platform, as follows:
That, while providing revenue for the support of the General Government by duties upon imposts, sound policy requires such an adjustment of the imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interest of the whole country, and we commend that policy of national exchanges which secures to the working men liberal wages, to agriculture remunerating prices, to mechanics and manufacturers an adequate reward for their skills, labor and enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence.”
“Mr. Lincoln continued — Now, fellow-citizens, I must confess that there are shades of difference in construing even this plank of the platform. But I am not now intending to discuss these differences, but merely to give you some general ideas upon this subject. I have long thought that if there be any artifice of necessity which can be produced at home with as little or nearly the same labor as abroad, it would be better to protect that article. Labor is the true standard of value. If a bar of iron, got out of the mines of England, and a bar of iron taken from the mines of Pennsylvania, be produced at the same cost, it follows that if the English bar be shipped from Manchester to Pittsburg to Manchester, the cost of carriage is appreciably lost. [Laughter.] If we had no iron here, then we should encourage its shipment from foreign countries; but when we can make it as cheaply in our own country. This brings us back to our first proposition, that if any article can be produced at home with nearly the same cost as abroad, the carriage is lost labor.”
‘The treasury of the nation is in such a low condition at present that this subject now demands the attention of Congress, and will demand the immediate consideration of the new Administration. The tariff bill now before Congress may or may not pass at the present session. I confess I do not understand the precise provisions of this bill, and I do not know whether it can be passed by the present Congress or not. It may or may not become the law of the land — but if it does, that will be an end of the matter until a modification can be effected, should it be deemed necessary. If it does not pass (and the latest advices I have to the effect that it is still pending) the next Congress will have to give it their earliest attention.’
‘According to my political education, I am inclined to believe that the people in the various sections of the country should have their own views carried out through their representatives in Congress, and if the consideration of the Tariff bill should be postponed until the next session of the National Legislature, no subject should engage your representatives more closely than that of a tariff. And if I have any recommendation to make, it will be that every man who is called upon to serve the people in a representative capacity, should study this whole subject thoroughly, as I intend to do myself, looking to all the varied interests of our common country, so that when the time for action arrives adequate protection can be extended to the coal and iron of Pennsylvania, the corn of Illinois and the ‘reapers of Chicago.’ Permit me to express the hope that this important subject may receive such consideration at the hands of your representatives, that the interests of no part of the country may be overlooked, but that all sections may share in common the benefits of a just and equitable tariff. [Applause.]”
“But I am trespassing upon your patience — [cries of 'no!' 'no!' 'Go on -- we'll listen!'] and must bring my remarks to a close. Thanking you most cordially for the kind reception which you have extended me, I bid you all adieu [Enthusiastic applause.]” 43
New York Herald reporter Henry Villard wrote: “After the delivery of the speech immediate arrangements were made for leaving the hotel. In spite of the unfavorable weather the streets through the procession passed was lined on each side by cheering Republicans. At the depot the President was again subject to uncomfortable crowding by the absence of all police force and the inefficiency of his military guard, but he stood in rain for a long while and endured the pressure of the curious without any signs of impatience.44 Victor Searcher wrote: “At the railroad station Lincoln endured jostling and pushing without a sign of impatience, waiting for the Presidential Special to pull into the depot for its scheduled 10:00 A.M. departure.” 45 Villard wrote: “While the party was waiting for the train a little boy was reached over to the President by his father and heartily kissed. Three lassies also made their way to him and received the same salutation.” 46 After Pittsburgh, the Lincoln entourage, turned northwest by train to Cleveland, Ohio then east again across Ohio to Buffalo, New York. The Lincolns traveled across New York to Albany, south to New York City and New Jersey — arriving in Philadelphia seven days later.
President-elect Lincoln had a very full day by the time he arrived in Philadelphia late on the afternoon of February 21 shortly before 4 P.M. He had departed New York City that morning and made a series of brief remarks across New Jersey before separately addressing both houses of the New Jersey Legislature in the afternoon. The 16th President was very conscious of the symbolism of his arrival on the eve of the birthday of America’s first President in the city where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution had been written.
When the Lincoln entourage arrived at the Kensington train station, it was driven to the Continental Hotel through great crowds of people inside and outside the hotel.
Bradley Hoch wrote: “American flags and bunting decorated houses and businesses along the entire parade route. Near Girard Avenue a military squad fired a one-hundred-gun salute. At Frankford Avenue below Girard, the William Penn Hose company fire hall was decorated with flags, and the fire truck was parked in the street. When the procession passed, the fire bell in the cupola and other smaller bells rang in tribute.” 47 Mr. Lincoln was greeted by Mayor Alexander Henry on a hotel balcony. After responding to the reception and commenting on the anxious state of the country, Mr. Lincoln said: “I say I deem it a happy circumstance that the dissatisfied portion of our fellow citizens do not point us to anything in which they are being injured, or about to be injured, from which I have felt all the while justified in concluding that the crisis, the panic, the anxiety of the country at this time is artificial. If there be those who differ with me upon this subject, they have not pointed out the substantial difficulty that exists.
“I do not mean to say that this artificial panic has not done harm. That it has done much harm I do not deny. The hope that has been expressed by your worthy Mayor, that I may be able to restore peace and harmony and prosperity to the country, is most worthy in him; and most happy indeed shall I be if I shall be able to fulfill and verify that hope. (Cheers)”
“I promise you in all sincerity, that I bring to the work a sincere heart. Whether I will bring a head equal to that heart, will be for future time to determine. It were useless for me to speak of the details of the plans now. I shall speak officially on next Monday week, if ever. If I should not speak, then it were useless for me to do so now. When I do speak, as your worthy Mayor has expressed the hope, I will take such grounds as I shall deem best calculated to restore peace, harmony and prosperity to the country, and tend to the perpetuity of the nation, and the liberty of these States and all these people. (Applause.)”
“Your worthy Mayor has expressed the wish, in which I join with him, that if it were convenient for me to remain with you in your city long enough to consult, [your merchants and manufacturers;] or, as it were, to listen to those breathings rising within the consecrated walls where the Constitution of the United States, and, I will add, the Declaration of American Independence was originally framed, I would do so.” 48
Returning inside the hotel, Mr. Lincoln told the welcoming committee: “I must now get some refreshment, gentlemen. After that I shall be glad to shake hands with all of you that I can. But there are sufficient people out here to keep me shaking hands for six hours. I will shake as long as I can shake, and then will content myself with a look that will answer the same purpose. That’s the way I have done in other places, where large crowds of people have people have called upon me, and so I must do here.” 49 He first greeted leaders of Philadelphia government and then stood on an interior balcony greeting the public as they entered the Continental Hotel and moved up the stairs to face him. By 10 P.M., the Lincolns were treated to a fireworks display before they retired from the public for the night. But Mr. Lincoln’s day was not over. He met with Illinois Republican Chairman Norman Judd and detective Allan Pinkerton about the assassination threat posed for the President-elect in Baltimore. Against his better judgment, Mr. Lincoln eventually agreed to strong suggestions from Pinkerton and Senator William H. Seward that he cut short his visit to Harrisburg the next day and go through Baltimore in the middle of the following night. During the night, Pinkerton worked with Thomas A. Scott, the influential vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, to make appropriate transportation arrangements for the next night.
To keep to his schedule, Mr. Lincoln had to get up early the next morning. Before the Lincolns left for the state capital at Harrisburg, Mr. Lincoln went alone to Independence Hall. There, Mr. Lincoln responded to the welcome extended by Council President Theodore L. Cuyler: “I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to our distracted country. I can say in return, sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated, and were given to the world, from this hall in which we stand. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. (Great cheering.) I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence — I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that independence. (Applause.) I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. (Great applause.) It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. (Cheers.) This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
“Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can’t be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle — I was about to say i would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it. (Applause.)”
“Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the Government. The Government will not use force unless force is used against it. (Prolonged applause and cries of ‘That’s the proper sentiment.’)”
“My friends, this is a wholly unprepared speech. I did not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here — I supposed I was merely to do something towards raising a flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet, (Cries of ‘no, no’), but I have said nothing but what I am wiling to live by, and, in the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.”
A platform had been set up outside Independence Hall from which Mr. Lincoln was to speak and raise a flag. At the flag-raising outside, Mr. Lincoln said: “I am invited and called before you to participate in raising above Independence Hall the flag of our country, with an additional star upon it. (Cheers.) I propose now, in advance of performing this very pleasant and complimentary duty, to say a few words. I propose t say that when that flag was originally raised here it had but thirteen stars. I wish to call your attention to the fact, that, under the blessing of God, each additional star added to that flag has given additional prosperity and happiness to this country until it has advanced to its present condition; and its welfare in the future, as well as in the past, is in your hands. (Cheers.) Cultivating the spirit that animated our fathers, who gave renown and celebrity to this Hall, cherishing that fraternal feeling which has so long characterized us as a nation, excluding passion, ill-temper and precipitate action on all occasions, I think we may promise ourselves that not only the new star placed upon that flag shall be permitted to remain there to our permanent prosperity for years to come, but additional ones shall from time to time be placed there, until we shall number as was anticipated by the great historian, five hundred millions of happy and prosperous people. (Great applause.) With these few remarks, I proceed to the very agreeable duty assigned me.51
President Lincoln returned briefly to his hotel before his entourage left for the train station and Harrisburg around 9 A.M. Before leaving the city, Mr. Lincoln met with the Frederick W. Seward, the son of future Secretary of State Seward, who presented a message about Baltimore’s dangers which was strikingly similar to Pinkerton’s. On the trip to Harrisburg, Norman Judd briefed President-elect Lincoln on the plans for his travels that night. “I said to him that the step to him was so important that I felt that is should be Communicated to the other gentlemen of the Party.” Mr. Lincoln replied. “You can do as you like about that.” 52
On the way from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, President-elect Lincoln stopped briefly at Lancaster where he picked out a 6 foot-six inch resident to be his personal escort. Mr. Lincoln made a brief address from the balcony of Cadwell House: “I come before you to see and be seen, and as regards the ladies, I have the best of the bargain; but, as to the gentlemen, I cannot say as much. There is plenty of matter to speak about in these times, but it is well known that the more a man speaks the less he is understood — the more he says one thing, his adversaries contend he meant something else. I shall soon have occasion to speak officially, and then I will endeavor to put my thoughts just as plain as I can express myself, true to the Constitution and Union of all the states, and to the perpetual liberty of all the people. Until I so speak, there is no need to enter upon the details.” 53
Lincoln scholar John Mason Potter wrote: “The run to Harrisburg is made without incident. It has taken four and a half hours, and the arrival in the Pennsylvania capital at 2 o’clock is momentous. There is a tremendous outpouring of men, women, and children who have come to see the man who is to be the sixteenth President. The reception is especially cordial, and Governor Andrew G. Curtin assures him that should reconciliation fail, Pennsylvania stands ready to provide men and financial support to the Union. Lincoln replies that he hopes matters will never reach that point.” 54
The Lincoln entourage was installed at Jones House on Market Square in Harrisburg. Governor Andrew Curtin introduced the President-elect, who told his audience: “Perhaps the best thing that I could do would be simply to endorse the patriotic and eloquent speech which your Governor has just made in your hearing. [Applause.] I am quite sure that I am unable to address to you anything so appropriate as that which he has uttered.”
“Reference has been made by him to the distraction of the public mind at this time and to the great task that lies before me in entering upon the administration of the General Government. With all the eloquence and ability that your Governor brings to this theme, I am quite sure he does not — in his situation he cannot — appreciate as I do the weight of that great responsibility. I feel that, under God, in the strength of the arms and wisdom of the heads of these masses, after all, must be my support. [Immense cheering.] As I have often had occasion to say, I repeat to you — I am quite sure I do not deceive myself when I tell you I bring to the work an honest heart; I dare not tell you that I bring a head sufficient for it. [A voice -- 'we are sure of that.'] If my own strength should fail, I shall at least fall back upon these masses, who, I think, under any circumstances will not fail.”
“Allusion has been made to the peaceful principles upon which this great Commonwealth was originally settled. Allow me to add my meed of praise to those peaceful principles. I hope no one of the Friends who originally settled here, or who lived here since that time, or who live here now, has been or is a more devoted lover of peace, harmony and concord than my humble self.”
“While I have been proud to see to-day the finest military array, I think, that I have ever seen, allow me to say in regard to those men that they give hope of what may be done when war is inevitable. But, at the same time, allow me to express the hope that in the shedding of blood, their services may never be needed, especially in the shedding of fraternal blood. It shall be my endeavor to preserve the peace of this country so far it can possibly be done, consistently with the maintenance of the institutions of the country. With my consent, or without my great displeasure, this country shall never witness the shedding of one drop of blood in fraternal strife.” 55
In mid-afternoon, Mr. Lincoln addressed both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature. After complimenting the state on the reception given him and recounting the events of the morning in Philadelphia, he said: “I could not help hoping that there was in the entire success of that beautiful ceremony, at least something of an omen of what is to come. [Loud applause.] Nor I could I help, feeling then as I often have felt, that in the whole of that proceeding I was a very humble instrument. I had not provided the flag; I had not made the arrangement for elevating it to its place; I had applied but a very small portion of even my feeble strength in raising it. In the whole transaction, I was in the hands of the people who had arranged it, and if I can have the same generous co-operation of the people of this nation, I think the flag of our country may yet be kept flaunting gloriously. [Enthusiastic, long continued cheering.]
“I recur for a moment but to repeat some words uttered at the hotel in regard to what has been said about the military support which the general government may expect from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in a proper emergency. To guard against any possible mistake do I recur to this. It is not with any pleasure that I contemplate the possibility that a necessity may arise in this country for the use of the military arm. [Applause.] While I am exceedingly gratified to see the manifestation upon your streets of your military force here, and exceedingly gratified at your promise here to use that force upon a proper emergency, while I make these acknowledgments, I desire to repeat, in order to preclude any possible misconstruction, that I do most sincerely hope that we shall have no use for them — [loud applause] — that it will never become their duty to shed blood, and most especially never to shed fraternal blood. I promise that, (in so far as I may have wisdom to direct,) if so painful a result shall in any wise be brought about, it shall be through no fault of mine. [Cheers.]”
“Allusion has also been made, by one of your honored Speakers, to some remarks recently made by myself at Pittsburgh, in regard to what is supposed to be the especial interest of this great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I now wish only to say, in regard to that matter, that the few remarks which I uttered on that occasion were rather carefully worded. I took pains that they should be so. I have seen no occasion since to add to them or subtract from them. I leave them precisely as they stand; [applause] adding only now that I am pleased to have an expression from you, gentlemen of Pennsylvania, significant that they are satisfactory to you.”
“And now, gentlemen of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, allow me again to return to you my most sincere thanks.” 56
After the speech, Mr. Lincoln was returned to Jones House for dinner. Governor Curtin recalled: “Encouraged by Mr. Lincoln’s cool and collected bearing I at first discouraged the idea of a secret journey, advising the president-elect to travel by daylight, volunteering to go with him in person. But when full and convincing proof of the plot was laid before us by Mr. Judd, knowing that the assassination of the head of the government would bring national ruin, I instantly changed my mind and joined in devising means to secure his safety. In the evening a public dinner was given the president-elect, and at its close I invited him to go and spend the night at my house. He accepted the invitation, and to allay suspicion, all members of his party but Colonel Lamon were left behind at the hotel. We were at once driven in a closed carriage to the outskirts of the city, where a special train, consisting of an engine, tender and passenger car was standing. I stood on the street crossing until I saw them enter the car and then went home. The wires between Harrisburg and Washington, and between the former city and Philadelphia had already been cut to prevent any news of his movements getting abroad, and with Colonel Lamon as his only companion, he started on the journey to Washington.” 57
Mr. Lincoln recalled: “In New York some friend had given me a new beaver hat in a box and in it had placed a soft wool hat. I had never worn one of the latter in my life. I had this box in my room. Having informed a very few friends of the secret of my new movements and the cause, I put on an old overcoat that I had with me and, putting the soft hat in my pocket, I walked out of the house at a back door, bareheaded, without exciting any special curiosity. Then I put on the soft hat and joined my friends without being recognized by strangers, for I was not the same man.” 58
John Mason Potter wrote of the train: “Ostensibly, it is waiting to take officials of the railroad back to Philadelphia. Only two persons aboard know its real mission — Franciscus, who wants to be sure his important charge arrives at his destination safely, and Enoch Lewis, general superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The steam is up and all is in readiness. The baggage car, empty, is between the passenger car and the locomotive so that neither the engineer nor fireman can look back and see how many passengers there are, or even more important, who they are.” Governor Curtin saw the President-elect off, but not before telegraph wires between Harrisburg and Philadelphia were cut. 59
Detective Allan Pinkerton wrote: “Mr. Lamon offered Mr. Lincoln a Revolver and Bowie Knife and I at one protested, saying that I would not for the world have it said that Mr. Lincoln had to enter the National Capitol Armed: that I anticipated no trouble: that if we went through at all we must do so by stratagem, but that if fighting had to be done, it must be done by others than Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln said that he wanted no arms: that he had no fears and that he felt satisfied that all my plans would work right.”
“Mr. Lincoln was cool, calm, and self possessed — firm and determined in his bearing. He evinced no sign of fear or distrust, and throughout the entire night was quite self possessed.
‘On arriving at the vicinity of the Depot we left the carriage, and I walked round the corner to the Depot. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Lamon followed. I met Mr. [George R.] Dunn [agent for the Harnden's Express Company, who was working with Pinkerton] in the Depot who showed me to the sleeping car. I entered by the rear, followed by Mr. Lincoln — no one appeared to notice us….Mr. Dunn soon left us and in about three minutes from the time we got aboard the strain started.’ ” 60
So that the train conductor would not see Mr. Lincoln, Pinkerton gave him Mr. Lincoln’s tickets. Having reached Washington early on the morning of February 23, Mr. Lincoln began a series of conferences about his cabinet appointments and political affairs. After three months of suspense, Simon Cameron was finally named secretary of war after Mr. Lincoln’s presidential inauguration. Ten frustrating months followed. Historian Allan Nevins wrote that Cameron “was not dishonest, for no proof exists that as Secretary he took a penny not his own. This veteran spoilsman was not a whit more inclined to play politics with his high office than Chase or Blair. But he was an incompetent administrator; flustered, inexact, forgetful, he had no ability to organize an efficient War Office as Chase and George Harrington organized an efficient Treasury, and Welles and Gustavus V. Fox organized an efficient Navy Department. He lacked vigilance in guarding against contract abuses; and worst of all, he was totally unable to plan.” 61
Interior Department official John Palmer Usher recalled how Cameron explained his situation to a group of fellow Pennsylvanians. “His speech was vehement and his auditors, who it appeared to me, were jealous of his fame and power, sat silent while he spoke. I was somewhat surprised at his declaration that he never made any contracts while he was secretary of war, and after he sat down I fell into a conversation with him about it. He said all contracts were made in the quartermaster and commissary departments; that this thing of accusing him of making corrupt contracts was the most preposterous and absurd thing of all.
“If I have any ability whatever, it is an ability to make money. I do not have to steal it. I can go into the street any day, and as the world goes, make all the money I want. It was absurd to accuse me of that. When the war broke out I knew that the railroad from Baltimore to Harrisburg, the Northern Central of Pennsylvania, was bound to be good property; the soldiers and people devoted to the preservation of the Union traveling to Washington would necessarily be transported over it. The stock was then worth only a few cents on the dollar. I knew that from the very necessity of the case it would advance in value to par or nearly so. I bought large blocks of this stock, and told Mr. Lincoln if he would give me ten thousand dollars I would make him all the money he wanted.” 62
Cameron’s principal political rival was Republican governor Andrew Curtin, an attorney and advocate of education as secretary of the Commonwealth. He lost an1854 contest for Senate to Cameron, with whom he had long-standing differences on politics, principle, and railroad association. He headed Pennsylvania’s delegation to 1860 Republican convention, which was pledged to Cameron on first ballot.
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. As Alexander McClure related the story
“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.” 63
At a critical point in the war effort in September 1862, Governor Curtin took the lead in organizing a conference of northern governors at Altoona, Pennsylvania that was held on September 24. “The Altoona conference of the loyal Governors was originally proposed by Curtin to Lincoln and cordially approved by the President before the call was issued,” maintained Alexander K. McClure. “It was a supreme necessity to crystallize the loyal sentiment of the country in support of the coming and then clearly foreshadowed Emancipation policy. Curtin telegraphed Governor Andrew of Massachusetts: ‘In the present emergency would it not be well that the loyal Governors should meet at some point in the Border States to take measures for the more active support of the government?’ The Governors of Massachusetts, Ohio, and West Virginia responded promptly, and the call was issued on the 14th of September, and the Altoona conference met on the 24th, the day after the Emancipation Proclamation had been published to the world. There were seventeen Governors in attendance, and after a full interchange of views, Curtin and Andrew were charged with the duty of preparing and address to the President and the country. That address, coming as the united voice of the loyal States through their Governors, was regarded by Lincoln as of inestimable service to the cause of the Union. It not only gave the keynote for every loyal man to support the Emancipation policy, but it suggested to the President to call out additional troops to keep a reserve of 100,000 men for any emergency of the war.”
Curtin recalled that the Altoona Conference, “had its inception in a dispatch I sent to Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, early in September, 1862, telling him that in my opinion the time had come to give the ware a definite aim and end, and that it seemed to me that the governors of the loyal states should take prompt, united and decided action in the matter. Governor Andrew replied that he shared the same views and a voluminous correspondence between us and the governors of the other Northern States followed. Finally Governor Andrew and I went to see the President. He told us that he was preparing a proclamation emancipating the slaves, and asked us if it would not be advisable for him to wait until we had requested him to act before issuing it. We told him that by all means he should issue it first and we would at once follow it up with a strong address of commendation and support. As a result of our interview with the President it was agreed that the course which Governor Andrew and I proposed should be followed.” 65
“One result of the [Emancipation] proclamation was to turn a potentially harmful convention of Northern governors at Altoona,, Pennsylvania, into an innocuous farce,” wrote historian Allan Nevins. “It inevitably aroused some pernicious newspaper speculation that it was hostile to Lincoln, that it aimed at the overthrow of McClellan that it was a maneuver by Andrew and Curtin to get themselves re-elected, and so on. Happily, these two governors had enough sense to go to Lincoln beforehand. He told them of his impending proclamation, and with characteristic considerateness asked if they wished him to defer its issuance until they had requested him to act. They replied that he should by all means bring it out first, and they would follow it with a strong address of commendation. This was done; the conference met on the Allegheny crest September 24, and agreed to a paper written by Andrew. All appended their names but Bradford of Maryland, who, aware how deeply his State was torn, remarked: ‘Gentlemen, I am with you heart and soul, but I am a poor man, and if I sign that address I may be a ruined one.’ Misrepresentation of the conference nevertheless persisted, and it had better never been held.” 66
Historian James G. Randall wrote: “By that time [of the Altoona conference] he had clipped the gubernatorial wings by publicly associating himself with their effort, giving it his own emphasis, and the governors found themselves with nothing to do but to endorse the President’s policy, which they did in a laudatory public statement. Lincoln smilingly thanked the visiting magistrates for their support and indicated that no fact had so thoroughly confirmed to him the justice of the emancipation proclamation as the approval of the executives of the loyal states. On some aspects he would not answer them specifically at the time, he said, but he would give these matters his most favorable consideration, carrying them out ‘so far as possible.’”67 “According to one account the governors found the President doing the talking, then ushering them out before their complaints had been presented. The public statements that issued from the White House interview were favorable to the President; it was in that sense that the Altoona incident took its place in history.” 67
Historian T. Harry Williams wrote: “Startling rumors came out of Altoona to cheer the Jacobins. According to press reports the governors believed McClellan a failure and were considering serving the administration with a united demand that he be removed and a Republican general put in his place. The New York Herald screamed that the meeting was a Republican plot to kill off the general. Later a committee of the governors, headed by the redoubtable Andrew, called on Lincoln to give him their views about the war and to tell him that they wanted more Republican influence in the Cabinet. They got no further than the opening salutations. The wily president sensed their purpose and shut them off by doing all the talking himself during the entire interview.” 68
Painter Francis B. Carpenter recalled one night when Governor Curtin was in President Lincoln’s office: “I took this opportunity to get at the truth concerning a newspaper story which went the rounds a year or two previous, purporting to be an account of a meeting of the loyal Governors in Washington, early in the war. It was stated that the President laid the condition of the country before such a council, convened at the White House, and anxiously a waited the result. An oppressive silence followed. Curtin was represented as having been standing, looking out of one of the windows, drumming unconsciously upon a pane of glass. Mr. Lincoln, at length addressing him personally, said: ‘Andy what is Pennsylvania going to do?’ Turning around, Curtin replied: ‘She is going to send twenty thousand men to start with, and will double it, if necessary!’ ‘This noble response…overwhelmed the President, and lifted the dead weight which seemed to have paralyzed all present.”
After Carpenter related this version, “both parties smiled and shook their heads. ‘It is a pity to spoil so good a story,’ returned the President, ‘but, unfortunately, there is not a word of truth in it. I believe the only convocation of Governors that has taken place during the war,’ he added, looking at Curtin, ‘was that at Altoona — was it not?’” 70
Massachusetts Congressman George Boutwell similarly asked if Mr. Lincoln had been pushed into the Emancipation Proclamation by the Altoona Conference, which actually occurred on September 26, four days after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Mr. Lincoln denied it, saying “the fact is, I never thought of the meeting of the governors at Altoona, and I can hardly remember that I knew anything about it.” 71
Earlier in the month, the Confederate invasion of Maryland had alarmed the government of Pennsylvania. On September 11, President Lincoln wrote Governor Curtin: “The application made to me by your adjutant-general for authority to call out the militia of the State of Pennsylvania has received careful consideration. It is my anxious desire to afford, as far as possible, the means and powers of the Federal Government to protect the State of Pennsylvania from invasion by the rebel forces, and since, in your judgement, the militia of the State are required, and have been called upon you, to organize for home defense and protection, I sanction the call that you have made, and will receive them into the service and pay of the United States to the extent that they can be armed, equipped, and usefully employed. The arms and equipments now belonging to the General Government will be needed for the troops called out for the national armies, so that arms can only be furnished for the quota of militia furnished by the draft of nine-months’ men, heretofore ordered. But as arms may be supplied by the militia under your call, these, with the 30,000 in your arsenal, will probably be sufficient for the purpose contemplated by your arsenal will probably be sufficient for the purposes contemplated by your call. You will be authorized to provide such equipments as may be required, according to the regulations of the United States service, which, upon being turned over to the United States Quartermaster’s Department, will be paid for at regulation prices, or the rates allowed by the department for such articles. Railroad transportation will also be paid for, as in other cases, Such general officers will be supplied as the exigencies of the service will permit.” 72
The next day, President Lincoln wrote Curtin: “Your dispatch asking for eighty thousand disciplined troops to be sent to Pennsylvania is received. Please consider. We have not to exceed eighty thousand disciplined troops, properly so called, this side of the mountains, and most of them, with many of the new regiments, are now close in the rear of the enemy supposed to be invading Pennsylvania. Start half of them to Harrisburg, and the enemy will turn upon and beat the remaining half, and then reach Harrisburg before the part going there, and beat it too when it comes. The best possible security for Pennsylvania is putting the strongest force possible into the enemies rear.” 73
More than two months before the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, President Lincoln wrote Curtin: “I do not think the people of Pennsylvania should be uneasy about an invasion. Doubtless a small force of the enemy is flourishing about in the Northern part of Virginia on the ‘Scew-horn’ principle, on purpose to divert us in another quarter. I believe it is nothing more. We think we have adequate forces close after them.”74 A few days later, President Lincoln wrote the governor: “The whole disposable force at Baltimore & elsewhere in reach have already been sent after the enemy which alarms you. The worst thing the enemy could do for himself would be to weaken himself before Hooker, & therefore it is safe to believe he is not doing it; and the best thing he could for himself, would be to get us so scared as to bring part of Hooker’s force away, and that is just what he is trying to do. I will telegraph you in the morning about calling out the militia”. 75 The next day, President Lincoln wrote Curtin: “Gen. Halleck tells me he has a dispatch from Gen. Schenck this morning, informing him that our forces have joined, and that the enemy menacing Penn. will have to fight or run to-day. I hope I am not less anxious to do my duty to Pennsylvania, than yourself; but I really do not yet see the justification for incurring the trouble and expense of calling out the militia. I shall keep watch and try to do my duty.” 76
On June 29, Simon Cameron wrote President Lincoln: “We have reliable and undoubted information from three distinct sources that General [Robert E.] Lee now has nearly if not quite one hundred thousand (100000) men between Chambersburg on the Upper side of South Mountain and Gettysburg on the East side of the Mountain and the Susquehanna River — His columns at present extend from Shippensburg to near Harrisburg & from Gettysburg to near Columbia — They have over two hundred fifty (250) pieces of Artillery by actual count — Within the next forty eight 48 hours Lee will cross the Susquehanna River unless Genl Meade strikes his columns tomorrow & compels him to concentrate his forces west of the Susquehanna for a General Battle — Let me impress on you the absolute necessity of action by Meade tomorrow even if attended with great risk because if Lee gets his Army across the Susquehanna and puts our armies on the defensive at that time you will readily comprehend the disastrous results that must follow to the Country[.]” 77
Mr. Lincoln was gratified by the Union victory at Gettysburg on July 1-3 — but not by the Union failure to confront General Lee’s army again before it recrossed the Potomac River into Virginia. In mid-July, Mr. Lincoln wrote a few lines of poetry about the invasion from the point of view of General Lee
“In eighteen sixty three, with pomp,
and mighty swell,
Me and Jeff’s Confederacy, went
forth to sack Phil-del
The Yankees they got arter us, and
giv us particular hell,
And we skedaddled back again,
and didn’t sack Phil-del.” 78
That year, Governor Curtin announced his retirement for health reasons; he was slated for a diplomatic assignment by President Lincoln. The prospect of a Cameron victory in Curtin’s stead may have helped revive his health and reignited his ambitions for reelection. Once again, the Republicans nominated Curtin to be a candidate in the early October election. Journalist James M. Scovel recalled visiting the White House in 1863 after a summer swing through Pennsylvania. “Boy, what news from your pilgrimage beyond the Alleghanies?” the President asked him the night before the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election. “Have no fear of Pennsylvania,” Scovel replied. “The Methodist preachers are all on the stump for Lincoln and Curtin, and the young women are wearing rosettes with the names entwined. The old Keystone is good for twenty thousand majority, and that means your renomination as President.” Mr. Lincoln laughed but Scovel reported that he had never “seen that face light up with such a burst of gladness.” President Lincoln took Scovel across Lafayette Park to visit Secretary of State William H. Seward and announce: “We’ve won the fight.” 79 Curtin won reelection despite the endorsement of his Democratic opponent, Judge George W. Woodward, by Gen. George B. McClellan. Historian David E. Long noted that “in 1863, Union prospects had been very bright in the aftermath of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and Woodward had suffered from the taint of Copperheadism and the anti-Vallandigham backlash.” 80 Long wrote that “many suspected he was a copperhead attempting to pass himself off as a conventional Democrat. Regardless, he was decidedly an opponent of emancipation. Peace Democrat Heister Clymer, a state senator, suggested that Woodward, if elected, would join with Vallandigham, Seymour, and Governor Joel Parker of New Jersey to compel the administration to abandon its antislavery policies.” 81
McClure wrote: “The secret of Curtin’s re-election in 1863 was the devotion of the Pennsylvania soldiers to him and his cause. He was the earliest of all the Governors in the States to devise and put into practical execution every measure that could lessen the sorrows of war to his people. After every battle in which Pennsylvania troops were engaged Curtin was always among the first visitors to camp and hospital, and his sympathetic hand was felt and his voice was heard by the sick and wounded. He had his official commissioners to visit every part of the country in search of Pennsylvania troops needing kind ministrations, and early in the war he obtained legislative authority to bring the body of every soldier who was killed or died in the service home for burial at the cost of the State.” 82
The1863 election was considerably easier for Pennsylvania Republicans than the 1862 elections had been. James K. Moorhead represented Pittsburgh. He survived the 1862 Democratic onslaught in Pennsylvania in which the Republicans lost several congressional seats, and all the statewide offices. Shortly after his reelection he went to the White House where President Lincoln greeted him by saying: “And what word do you bring, Moorhead; you, at any rate, were not defeated?” The irate Moorhead responded: “No, no, Mr. President, but I am sorry to say it was not your fault that we were not all beaten.” According to Congressman Kelly, Moorhead continued “in the same nervous manner” to berate President Lincoln. “Mr. President, I came as far as Harrisburg yesterday, and passed the evening with a number of the best and most influential men of our State, including some of those who have been your most earnest supporters, and they charged me to tell you that when one of them said, ‘he would be glad to hear some morning that you had been found hanging from the post of a lamp at the door of the White House,’ others approved the expression.” 83 Historian Allan Nevins argued, however “part of the Slender Democratic margin was provided by the sheer efficiency of the part organization, far surpassing that of the Republicans.” 84
One congressional casualty of the 1862 election was House Speaker Galusha Grow, who had succeeded his legal mentor, David Wilmot, in Congress at age 27. Grow had a strong will and weak health; he was an indefatigable and fearless campaigner. He favored easy land and hard money. Grow, a bachelor attorney who preferred policy to politics, politics to the law, and workers to capitalists. He later found a career in business. He sometimes took positions out of synch with Pennsylvania’s pro-tariff, anti-immigrant electorate. Grow was an ally of Thaddeus Stevens in the House and opponent of Simon Cameron in Pennsylvania politics. Journalist Ben Perley Poore wrote that Grow “was a thorough politician and a good presiding officer, possessing the tact, the quickness of perception, and the decision acquired by editorial experience.” 85 Grow had lost first bid for the Speakership in 1859 but in 1861, he defeated fellow Republican Frank Blair for the post. According to historian Allan Nevins wrote that Grow’s “rapid rise was attributable partly to talent, partly to the assistance of his law partner David Wilmot, and partly to his zealous championship of homestead legislation. A man of homespun simplicity, a working and not a talking leader, and a former Democrat who had been quick to join the join the new Republican Party, he was popular both at home and in the House.” 86
One Republican survivor in 1862 was Philadelphia Congressman William D. Kelley, whom Maine Republican James G. Blaine described as a congressman of “ability, fidelity and usefulness.” 87 Indiana Congressman George W. Julian wrote in his memoirs that “Judge Kelley…first attracted attention by the wonderful volume and power of his voice. It filled the entire Hall, and subdued all rival sounds…” 88 Kelley’s personality had helped set the tone for Mr. Lincoln’s relations with the committee that informed him of his nomination for President. “As in conclusion he said, ‘Now I will not longer defer the pleasure of taking you, and each of you, by the hand,’ Mr. Lincoln joined Mr. [George] Ashman [sic], and approached the Hon. E. D. Morgan, who was Governor of the Empire State, chairman of the Republican Executive Committee, and the most commanding figure of the visiting party. Accident had placed me at the left hand of the Governor, who was not only gifted as a conversationalist but was eminently taciturn, and made no audible response to the cordial welcome with which he had been greeted. Mr. Lincoln, as if determined to elicit a colloquy, said, ‘Pray, Governor, how tall may you be?’ ‘Nearly six feet three,’ said the brawny and distinguished man, who relapsed into silence, and was thus likely to embarrass his eager interlocutor. But, interposing, I somewhat boisterously exclaimed: ‘And pray, Mr. Lincoln, how tall may you be?’ ‘Six feet four’ said he. At hearing which I bowed profoundly, saying: Pennsylvania bows humbly before New York, but still more humbly before Illinois. Mr. Lincoln, is it not curious that I, who for the last twelve years have yearned for a president to whom I might look up, should have found one here in a State where so many people believe they grow nothing but ‘Little Giants?’ (The popular sobriquet of Stephen A. Douglas.) A peal of laughter greeted this interjection. The ice was broken. A free flow of chat and chaff pervaded the room, and before the company dispersed, every guest had an opportunity for a pleasant exchange of words with the whilom rail-splitter, Abraham Lincoln.89
Kelley was a Republican radical who maintained cordial relations with President Lincoln. However, in 1864, opposition from the Philadelphia postmaster, Cornelius A. Walborn, endangered his reelection and he asked for the intervention of President Lincoln. President Lincoln in turn employed two journalist allies of the administration, John W. Forney and Morton McMichael, editor of the Philadelphia North American, to help get Walborn to stop organizing postal workers against Kelley.
Forney was editor of the Philadelphia Press and Washington Chronicle (started in 1861). He had been an early ally of President James Buchanan in Pennsylvania, but Buchanan’s failure to deliver on expected patronage and newspaper appointments led Forney to become a Douglas Democrat. This, in turn, led to his appointment as Clerk of the House in 1858 in a deal between Douglas Democrats and Republicans. He had strenuously opposed any compromise with Breckinridge Democrats in Pennsylvania to present a united Democratic ticket in 1860. He supported Douglas, he later said, in order to help Lincoln carry Pennsylvania. After his conversion to Lincoln, Forney helped arrange publication of some Lincoln speeches and won printing contracts with the Lincoln Administration. He was a War Democrat who was appointed as Secretary of the Senate in 1861.
Historian Richard Carwardine wrote: “No editor was more loyal to the administration than John W. Forney, a Philadelphia ex-Democrat whose admiration for what he termed Lincoln’s ‘unconscious greatness’ was no doubt underscored by the president’s part in getting him elected as secretary of the Senate and in securing commissions for his sons. The undeviating Unionism of his Philadelphia Press gave it every appearance of a White House organ.” 90 Carwardine noted that Forney’s “papers would set the tone for the pro-administration press in 1864 by being the first to endorse Lincoln’s renomination, when many other Republican editors doubted his ability to win. The president’s opponents called Forney ‘Lincoln’s dog’.” 91 Carwardine wrote: “Forney developed a newspaper which carried a message of uncompromising Unionism daily to as many as 30,000 troops in the camps and hospitals of the Army of the Potomac. His papers would set the tone for the pro-administration press in 1864 by being the first to endorse Lincoln’s renomination, when many other Republican editors doubted his ability to win.” 92
Forney was indeed a faithful, if not always judicious loyalist. On the night before President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address in November 1863, Forney gave a speech to serenaders there and denounced the lack of public “gratitude…[to] that great wonderful mysterious inexplicable man…” 93 Historian Gabor Boritt noted that “Forney was routinely described as ‘Lincoln’s dog,’ and the newsman did not fail to inform the president of this. The president, in turn, helped him unstintingly. Forney got the lucrative job of secretary of the Senate, his son a commission with the Marines, his brother-in-law a route agency with the Post Office Department, and his cousin a sinecure in the Interior Department.” 94
Thaddeus Stevens was never “Lincoln’s dog.” He was a Radical Republican who often pressed President Lincoln on war and emancipation policies. Journalist Ben Perley Poore wrote: “Thaddeus Stevens was the despotic ruler of the House. No Republican was permitted by ‘Old Thad’ to oppose his imperious will without receiving a tongue-lashing that terrified others if it did not bring the refractory Representative back into party harness…..He would often use invectives, which he took care should never appear printed in the official reports.” 95 Illinois Congressman Isaac N. Arnold wrote that Stevens “was the most sarcastic and witty, as well as the most eccentric member of the House. Respected, and somewhat feared, alike by friend and foe, few desired a second encounter with him in the forensic war of debate. If he did not demolish with an argument or crush with his logic, he could silence with an epigram or a sarcasm. Ready, adroit, and sagacious, as well as bold and frank, he exerted a large influence upon legislation. He was a bitter and uncompromising party chief, and better adapted to lead an opposition, than to conduct and control a majority.” 96
Maine Republican James G. Blaine wrote that Stevens “had the reputation of being somewhat unscrupulous as to political methods, somewhat careless in personal conduct, somewhat lax in personal morals; but to the one great object of his life, the destruction of slavery and the elevation of the slave, he was supremely devoted. From the pursuit of that object nothing could deflect him. Upon no phase of it would he listen to compromise. Any man who was truly anti-slavery was his friend.” 97
As House Chairman of Ways and Means Committee, Stevens pushed tariff and tax policies to finance the war and supported the issuance of currency not backed by gold. An attorney and investor with strong links to banks and railroads, he owned the economically troubled Caledonia Iron Works that was destroyed by Confederates before Battle of Gettysburg. Sarcastic and bombastic by turns, Stevens was strongly abolitionist, he defended runaway slaves for free and fought tirelessly for racial equality, but equivocated on black suffrage. He was bitterly sarcastic, quarrelsome and vindictive, but personally generous. He strayed from his mother religious habits but remained a proselytizing teetotaler (although he occasionally indulged himself). His vice of choice was gambling. He also gambled in politics — putting everything he could on the politicians he backed.
Although Stevens’ nickname was later the “Great Commoner,” he frequently found opportunities to help favored bankers and businessmen — and consistently favored the high tariff that Pennsylvania businesses required. At 66 in 1858, he had once again elected to Congress and at a time when most men are retiring from active life, he began his most influential political phase. He backed Judge McLean at the 1860 Republican National Convention, sought reelection to Congress that year but set his political sights on a Senate seat. He failed in that quest and his effort to replace Simon Cameron as Pennsylvania’s man in the Cabinet. His greatest success was the election of his Pennsylvania ally, Galusha Grow, as speaker of the new Congress.
As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Stevens was the effective leader of the House and a constant thorn in the side of Secretary of the Treasury Chase on financing the nation’s war debt. He was a proponent of District of Columbia emancipation and use of black soldiers, but he lost many battles — even over matters controlled by his own committee. He thought President Lincoln legally wrong in his April 19, 1861 “blockade” of Southern ports, arguing that the authorization of the cities as ports of entry should simply have been revoked. Lincoln’s actions, he felt, recognized the Confederacy as a separate nation. According to an account he later gave the New York Herald of his conversation with the President at the White House:
“Well, that is a fact, I see the point now, but I don’t know anything about the law of nations and I thought it was all right.”
“As a lawyer, Mr. Lincoln, I should have supposed you would have seen the difficulty at once.”
“Oh well, I’m a good enough lawyer in a western law court but we don’t practice the law of nations up there, and I supposed Seward knew all about it, and I left it to him. But it’s done now and can’t be helped so we must get along as well we can.” 98
Given that presidential faux pas, Stevens felt all restrictions on Union action toward the South were removed. Historian Allan Nevins wrote: “When Thad Stevens rose to assail the contention of Representative A. B. Olin of New York that the rebellious States were still inside the Union, and that their loyal people were entitled to its full protection, he took issue with Lincoln as well. Stevens at least subconsciously cherished a resentful belief that he and not Cameron should have sat for Pennsylvania in the Cabinet. He never saw Lincoln when he could help it, and never spoke cordially of him. While close to Chase, whom he had known for full twenty years and with whom he worked closely in meeting the financial needs of the nation, he felt contempt for Seward, and dislike for Montgomery Blair. It would have been well had Stevens devoted himself exclusively to financial affairs; but this iron-willed man held deep convictions about the war, in which force must be used to the utmost, and about the peace, in which the North must show no softness, no spirit of compromise, no magnanimity. In brooding over what he regarded as Lincoln’s delays and excessive generosity, Stevens sometimes exhibited a frenzy of anger.” 99
Stevens biographer Ralph Korngold wrote that “Lincoln believed that the Union could best be saved by having the federal government interfere with slavery as little as possible; Stevens believed it could best be saved by vigorously attacking and destroying the institution. Lincoln believed that the Negro was unassimilable, a stranger in a strange land, and must eventually emigrate or be deported; Stevens believed that he was an integral part of the American nation and that national policy must be shaped accordingly. Stevens advocated his antislavery measures from conviction; Lincoln adopted them from necessity. The delay in their application, occasioned by Lincoln’s resistance, may well have been salutary, but it should be considered that when Stevens advocated the measures he undoubtedly took the President’s resistance into account, as he took into account the time required to mold public opinion for their acceptance. That Lincoln should have championed them when he believed the situation required it, even though himself not fully convinced, is proof of his adaptability and his suppleness as a statesman. ‘I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me,’ he wrote in his letter to Hodges.” 100
In the summer of 1863, Stevens and Cameron visited the President at the White House. Stevens told Mr. Lincoln that the “Convention at Baltimore has nominated you again, and, not only that, but we are going to elect you. But the certainty of that will depend very much on the vote we can give you in P[ennsylvani]a in October; and in order that we may be able in our State to go to work with a good will we want you to make us one promise; namely that you will reorganize your Cabinet and leave Montgomery Blair out of it.” When Mr. Stevens ceased his litany complaints, Mr. Lincoln denied “your request to make such a promise.” He intimated to accede would be to become ‘the mere puppet of power…” 101 Stevens declined to support the President’s reelection, saying later: “If the Republican Party desires to succeed, they must get Lincoln off the rack and nominate a new man.” 102
Although he differed with President Lincoln, Congressman Stevens was not above asking for a favor. Indiana Congressman Schuyler Colfax recalled that Stevens “used to tell, with great gusto, this story of his own personal experience. Mr. Stevens had gone with an old lady from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (his district), to the White House, to ask the pardon of her son, condemned to die for sleeping on his post. The President suddenly turned upon his cynical Pennsylvania friend, whom he knew had so often assailed him for excessive lenity, and said, ‘Now, Thad, what would you do in this case if you happened to be President?’ Mr. Stevens knew how many hundreds of his constituents were waiting breathlessly to hear the result of that old woman’s pilgrimage to Washington. Of course, Congressmen who desired to be re-elected liked to carry out the desires of their constituents. Stevens did not relish the President’s home-thrust, but replied that, as he knew of the extenuating circumstances, he would certainly pardon him. ‘Well, then,’ said Mr. Lincoln, after a moment’s writing in silence, ‘here, madam, is your son’s pardon.’ Her gratitude filled her heart to overflowing, and it seemed to her as though her son had been snatched from the gateway of the grave. She could only thank the President with her tears as she passed out, but when she and Mr. Stevens had reached the outer door of the White House she burst out, excitedly, ‘I knew it was a lie! I knew it was a lie!’ ‘What do you mean’ asked her astonished companion. ‘Why, when I left my country home in old Lancaster yesterday, the neighbors told me that I would find that Mr. Lincoln was an ugly man, when he is really the handsomest man I ever saw in my life.’ And certainly, when sympathy and mercy lightened up those rugged features, many a wife and mother pleading for his intervention had reason to think him handsome indeed.” 103
Congressman John Covode also made his share of patronage requests. In July 1861, Mr. Lincoln wrote Secretary of War Simon Cameron: “Hon. John Covode presents the name of William D. Slack, for a Lieutenancy. Mr. Covode says he has not had one for his District; and I think he ought to have this, especially as the young man is generally very competent & has considerable military experience.” 104 Like Mr. Lincoln, “Honest John” Covode’s reputation was built on integrity. He headed a House committee investigating Buchanan administration concerning Kansas. Historian Reinhard H. Luthin wrote: “The Covode Committee’s weighty report, exhibiting alleged corruption in several government departments and made available by the summer of 1860, was too bulky for campaign use; but an abridgment was distributed throughout the North. In August Senator Preston King of New York, chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, reported that one printer was supplying them with 40,000 copies of the Covode Committee tract every day.” 105 “Honest John “possessed an exaggerated reputation as a congressional sleuth,” wrote historian T. Harry Williams. “Although his work on the Committee [on the Conduct of the War] was of small moment, he regarded himself with immense seriousness.” 106
Pennsylvania’s representatives during the Civil War were more prominent than its senators. Senator Edgar Cowan was described by historian Allan G. Bogue as an inexperienced politician who “had been a raftsman, boat builder, schoolteacher, and medical student before becoming a lawyer, and he was as formidable in intellect as his height of six-foot-four made him in stature.” 107
Senator David Wilmot had served in the House of Representatives at the time of Mr. Lincoln’s one term there. He was responsible for the Wilmot Proviso introduced in 1846 to exclude extension of slavery to territories. His proposal split Democrat Party and cost him renomination in 1850. In 1861 Wilmot replaced Senator Cameron for the remainder of his Senate term. Allan Bogue wrote: “Almost a legend by then, Wilmot had been a man of gargantuan appetite in his younger days and, according to the Pennsylvania congressman Galusha Grow, one of the great barroom speakers of his time. Now in failing health, he did not take a prominent role in the proceedings of the Thirty-seventh Congress. At the conclusion of the third session, he left the chamber amid the angry recriminations of his supporters, who charged that the failure of the Cameron wing of the Pennsylvania Republicans to close ranks behind him had handed the election to Charles R. Buckalew.” 108
Cameron had indeed tried to replace Wilmot in the seat in January, 1863, and was bitterly disappointed at the result. He wrote President Lincoln: “I would have been elected, only for the treachery of Wilmot. His confidential friend a repr. from his own district voted for Judge [William D.] Kelly, & thus defeated me. I have done my duty, & those who have defeated me, & elected an enemy of your Admn. may take the responsibility.” 109 Instead, Democratic attorney Charles R. Buckalew was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate seat. Having lost his Senate position, Wilmot lobbied President Lincoln for a position on the U.S. Court of Claims: “A position on the Court of Claims is national, the Bench of the District is local. I feel that, Mr. President very much — more perhaps than I ought. Again, while able to labor, in quiet and without excitement, I am satisfied that I have not many years in which to make provision for the family I must leave behind. The salary on the court of claims is $1000 greater than on the District Court.” President Lincoln replied simply: “I will do that.”110 Two months later, Wilmot wrote to express his appreciation, having failed to get an appointment to see the President: “I desired to express my thanks for your generous kindness towards me. Indeed Mr. President, I am truly and deeply greatful, for so distinguished a mark of your confidence and regard.”111
Out of elective or appointive office, Simon Cameron took an active role in promoting President Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg wrote: “Among Union members of the Pennsylvania Legislature early in January a paper was passed around. An address to the President, it was, saying that the voters of Pennsylvania had indorsed his policies generously at the recent election and ‘We are only responding to their demand when we thus publicly announce our unshaken preference for your reelection to the Presidency in 1864.’ Signed by every Union member of Senate and Assembly, this paper was sent to Lincoln on January 14, by Simon Cameron with the message: ‘You are now fairly launched on our second voyage….Providence has decreed your reelection, and no combination of the wicked can prevent it.’”112
At the Republican National Convention in Baltimore, Cameron renominated Vice President Hannbal Hamlin. All of Pennsylvania’s votes were cast for Hamlin on the first ballot. But Cameron and another Pennsylvania Republican leader, Alexander K. McClure, much later maintained that President Lincoln had actually investigated other nominees. Years later, Cameron said that President Lincoln had sent him to visit General Benjamin F. Butler several months earlier — to sound out Butler if he would be interested in the vice presidency. Butler supposedly declined. McClure and Cameron were credited by historian Don E. Fehrenbacher with creating the myth of President Lincoln’s intervention in the selection of his 1864 running mates. “McClure stands alone as creator of the myth,” wrote Fehrenbacher. “It had virtually no existence before he spoke out in 1891, and he was, after all, the only convention delegate who ever claimed to have been asked by Lincoln to work for the nomination of Johnson. Such lack of supporting evidence from contemporary sources is one of the principle weaknesses of McClure’s story. For example, there is no support for his assertion that he was consulted by Lincoln in every major political crisis; there is no trace of the several telegrams he supposedly received from the president during the month before the convention; and there does not appear to have been any suggestion in newspapers or private correspondence that the nomination was manipulated from the White House.” 113
Fehrenbacher maintained that McClure is the source of some of the “contradictory evidence.” Fehrenbacher wrote that McClure “appears in his story as one of Lincoln’s closest advisers and staunchest supporters, always ready to do whatever the president asks. Yet, in March 1864, he was confidentially expressing doubt about Lincoln’s ability to win reelection and pondering the chances of defeating his renomination. Rumors of his wavering led him to write LIncoln in May, assuring him of his ‘cordial, earnest & faithful’ support.’” 114 Fehrenbacher concluded: “If Lincoln’s intervention was decisive, as McClure maintained, his wishes must have been communicated to a large number of delegates; yet he concealed those wishes so carefully, even from some of his closest associates, that they remained unknown for more than a quarter of a century.” 115
Pennsylvania would prove critical to the reelection of President Lincoln in 1864; he narrowly defeated Democrat George B. McClellan, 52-48%, in November. “There was an extraordinarily large turnout in Pennsylvania in October,” wrote historian David El. Long. “Nearly 64,000 more ballots were cast in 1864 than two years early. The Republican/Union margin of victory overall was less than 12,000, smaller than 9,000 came from the ten most populous counties.” 116 Unlike in 1860, Mr. Lincoln had help from both factions of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, albeit reluctantly. This time, Simon Cameron rather than Alexander McClure was running Mr. Lincoln’s campaign, but at Mr. Lincoln’s behest, Cameron invited McClure to consult with him.
The President received good but guarded news from editor John W. Forney in mid-September: “I have been absent from Washington only three days, and write to you to assure you that our political prospects could not look brighter. And they are improving every hour. Still, there are some things to be done in our State to insure perfect harmony and success in November. Curtin’s friends are cold. I need not remind you of the feud between them and Gen — Cameron. We can easily adjust that, but a great deal of good could be accomplished, if we could produce a thorough reconciliation between Stanton and Curtin. I know no more magnanimous man than Edwin M. Stanton. Would he not be willing, for the sake of the common cause, for me to bring Curtin or McClure to Washington for a free conference or a “love-feast?” I know you have much on hand, but I commit this case to you, and will have the honor to call on you on Friday morning at 10 o’clock.” 117
Ten days later, things were looking up for Forney: “Our people are working with heart and hope. You would be amazed if you could see how they are working. The most active are the rich men: men who have never before taken any part except to vote and sway, I am glad to say, old Democrats. I think our majority, from present aspects, will be equal to my prediction — at least 50,000.” 118 Cooperation was uneven, as Congressman Kelley wrote the President at the end of September: “I care not what committees may report our state is not safe. It is very doubtful. The campaign is not being conducted by the state committee with reference to your election, but to so organizing legislative and committee and other influence as to constrain you to accept Simon Cameron as Secty of War — or if that fail to restore him to the Senate. I am not mistaken on this, nor do I utter the language of prejudice. Our State Com. is ignoring every man, and every influence that is not devoted to Cameron. In my district though he knows he cannot defeat me, he is organizing a movement to have me cut as a means of impairing my influence — He is also engaged in an attempt to defeat Col McClures election to the Legislature. He is everywhere courting the impression that he alone of Pennsylvanias sons is potential with you, and that he is certain of going into the Cabinet.” 119 About the same time, Cameron wrote the President: “I write this to assure you that all is well. I may run over to see you some day, next week.” 120 By October 22, Forney could write: “Things are looking very well in our State. Col. McClure made a very able speech last night to a large audience at Concert Hall, and Gov. Curtin presided at a still larger assemblage at the Academy of Music…” 121
On June 16, 1864, Mr. Lincoln had traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Sanitary Fair there. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Broad Street was packed with people from the Depot to Chestnut Street, and the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. The procession was greeted with cheers from the men and the waving of handkerchiefs by the ladies. The crowd pressed forward with the greatest anxiety to catch a glimpse of the president and his suite. Flags were displayed in profusion all along the route. At the house of the Franklin Hose and Steam Engine Company, on Broad Street, above Fitzwater, the large bell on the cupola was sounded, and the steamer and hose carriage gaily decorated with flags and displayed on the pavement. As the carriages passed this point a shrill, clear voice sung out ‘Three cheers for Old Abe!’ These were given with a will — the shout being deafening….The front windows of the La Pierre House presented a magnificent scene. The president was loudly cheered and handkerchiefs were waved from the windows by the ladies. To this mark of respect the president responded, as he did on several occasions along the route, by gracefully bowing to those who thus sought to do him honor. Chestnut Street presented a gay appearance when viewed from Broad Street. As the procession passed the Mint the employees, who were all in front of the building, gave three hearty cheers for the Chief Magistrate. At the headquarters of the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments there was another demonstration. Two companies of colored troops, with presented arms and a fine band, were drawn up in line. As the barouche passed six hearty cheers were given for President Lincoln, and the band struck up the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’ The Union League House was beautifully decorated. The Stars and Stripes were hung gracefully across the building, beneath the windows of every story, while both the state and National colors were displayed from the windows. From the flag-staff floated white streamers, each containing the name of a State. The windows of the house were occupied by ladies, who waved their handkerchiefs enthusiastically, and upon the steps were many members of the League, who cheered lustily. The president was kept quite busy in returning the salutations. The National Union Club House was also beautifully decorated, but not quite so elaborately as the League House, and the same demonstrations met the president there. Down towards the Continental the crowd increased, and it was with difficulty that the carriages could be turned into Ninth Street. The crowd at the Continental on the arrival of the escort was immense, and the air was rent with the hearty cheers from the multitude who were assembled to do homage to the distinguished guest.” 122
The New York World, which was the house organ of the Democratic National Committee, reported Mr. Lincoln’s visit with a large dose of sarcasm: “At a quarter past four Mr. Lincoln entered a barouch and four and was conveyed to the fair, escorted by various military organizations, and flanked by the inevitable rag, tag and bobtail. At five o’clock the President arrived at the entrance on eighteenth Street, and after considerable squeezing was passed into the building, the police being scarcely able to keep off the crowd.”
Mr. Lincoln, with great difficulty, reached the reception room of the executive committee. Here he gave wings to one of those terse, clear-cut and original expressions which so mark the man. ‘I’d like,’ said he, ‘I’d like a little cold water.’ Memorable words!…
Shortly after this solemn passage in a great man’s life, Mrs. Lincoln was announced. She speedily passed into the ladies’ room. The President’s wife looks as robust as ever. Her maternal graces bloom so brilliantly as when she left her rural home, wondering what ‘they say of us,’ and floated toward Washington. Time does not attenuate her substantial form, and evidently sits lightly on her plac’d brow. Her walk is not less queenly than when she played in the prairie state the charming role of the ‘pretty maid milking her cow;’ and while possibly greater amplitude of shirt is necessary than of yore, yet she still shows traces of her youthful ensemble.
The President spent about an hour in making the tour of the fair, and finally brought up at the ‘collection room,’ where a well-prepared table was arranged. Your reporter was not near enough to catch the President’s first words upon entering the banquet hall, but is informed that he whispered to a companion on the left flank, ‘this is a right smart get-out.’”
The World continued: “Mr. Lincoln passed some time in shaking hands. This salutation is with him a peculiarity. It is not the pump-handle ‘shake,’ nor a twist, nor a spasmodic motion from side, nor yet a reach toward the knee and a squeeze at arm’s length. When Mr. Lincoln performs this rite, it becomes a solemnity. A ghastly smile overspreads his peculiar countenance, then, after an instant’s pause, he suddenly thrusts his ‘flapper’ at you as a sword is thrust in tierce; you feel your hand enveloped as in a fleshy vice, a cold clamminess overspreads your unfortunate digits; a corkscrew burrows its way from your finger nails to your shoulder, the smile disappears, and you know that you are unshackled. You carefully count your fingers to see that none of them are missing, or that they have not become assimilated in a common mass, and wonder why Mr. Lincoln does not put that ‘hand’ on the throat of the rebellion, instead of employing it in writing proclamations.” 123
Mr. Lincoln told the crowd: “I suppose that this toast was intended to open the way for me to say something. [Laughter.] War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible. It was deranged business, totally in many localities, and partially in all localities. It has destroyed property, and ruined homes; it has produced a national debt and taxation unprecedented, at least in this country. It has carried mourning to almost every home, until it can almost be said that the ‘heavens are hung in black.’ Yet it continues, and several relieving coincidents [coincidences] have accompanied it from the very beginning, which have not been known, as I understood [understand], or have any knowledge of, in any former wars in the history of the world. The Sanitary Commission, with all its benevolent labors, the Christian Commission, with all its Christian and benevolent labors, and the various places, arrangements, so to speak, and institutions, have contributed to the comfort and relief of the soldier. You have two of these places in this city — the Cooper-Shop and Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloons. [Great applause and cheers.] And lastly, these fairs, which, I believe, began only in last August, if I mistake not, in Chicago, then at Boston, at Cincinnati, Brooklyn, New York, at Baltimore, and those at present held at St. Louis, Pittsburg, and Philadelphia. The motive and object that lie at the bottom of all these are most worthy; for, say what you will, after all the most is due to the soldier, who takes his life in his hands and goes to fight the battles of his country. [Cheers.] In what is contributed to his comfort when he passes to and fro [from city to city], and in what is contributed to him when is sick and wounded, in whatever shape it comes, whether from the fair and tender hand of woman, or from any other source, is much, very much; but, I think there is still that which has as much value to him [in the continual reminders he sees in the newspapers, that while he is absent he is yet remembered by the loved ones at home.] — he is not forgotten. [Cheers.] Another view of these various institutions is worthy of consideration, I think; they are voluntary co, nt, ribu, tions, given freely, zealously, and earnestly, on top of all the disturbances of business, [of all the disorders,] the taxation and burdens that the war has imposed upon us, giving proof that the national resources are not at all exhausted, [cheers;] that the national spirit of patriotism is even [firmer and stronger than at the commencement of the rebellion [war].
It is a pertinent question often asked in the mind privately, and from one to the other, when is the war to end? Surely I feel as deep [great] an interest in this question as any other can, but I do not wish to name a day, or month, or a year when it is to end. I do not wish to run any risk of seeing the time come, without our being ready for the end, and for fear of disappointment, because the time had come and not the end. [We accepted this war; we did not begin it.] We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it never will until that time. [Great cheering.] Speaking of the present campaign, General Grant is reported to have said, I am going through on this line if it takes all summer. [Cheers.] This war has taken three years; it was begun or accepted upon the line of restoring the national authority over the whole national domain, and for the American people, as far as my knowledge enables me to speak, I say we are going through on this line if it take three years more. [Cheers.] My friends, I did not known but that I might be called upon to say a few words before I got away from here, but I did not know it was coming just here. [Laughter.] I have never been in the habit of making predictions in regard to the war, but I am almost tempted to make one. [Do it -- do it!] — if I were to hazard it, it is this: That Grant is this evening, with General Meade and General Hancock, of Pennsylvania, and the brave officers and soldiers with him, in a position from whence he will never be dislodged until Richmond is take [loud cheering], and I have but one single proposition to put now, and, perhaps, I can best put it in form of an interrogative [interrogatory]. If I shall discover that General Grant and the noble officers and men under him can be greatly facilitated in their work by a sudden pouring forward [forth] of men and assistance, will give them to me? [Cries of 'yes.'] Then, I say, stand ready, for I am watching for the chance. 124
Afterwards, Mr. Lincoln appeared at the Union League Club for a reception. He was welcomed by Daniel Dougherty. President Lincoln told the members: “I thank you, sir, for your kinds words of welcome. I am happy at the opportunity of visiting the Union League of Philadelphia, the first, I believe, of the Union Leagues — an organization free from political prejudices, and prompted in its formation by motives of the highest patriotism. I have many a time heard of its doing great good, and no one has charged it with doing any wrong. But it is not my intention to make a speech. My object in visiting Philadelphia was exclusively to witness the Sanitary Fair, and I need scarcely say that I have been more than delighted in witnessing the extraordinary efforts of your patriotic me and lovely ladies in behalf of the suffering soldiers and sailors of our country. It will now afford me pleasure to take each of you by the hand.” 125
Emerging from the club, President Lincoln spoke to the crowd outside from the steps: “Fellow Citizens: I am very grateful to-night for this reception, which you have tendered me. I will not make a speech. I came among you thinking that my presence might do some good towards swelling the contributions of the great Fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission, who intend it for the soldiers in the field. While at the Fair I said a few words which I thought proper to say in connection with it. At the solicitation of the Union League I speak to you, and, in conclusion, I thank you for this great demonstration which you have paid me, and beg you will excuse me.” 126
Back at the Continental Hotel, Mr. Lincoln had to make another speech — this time from the hotel balcony: “I attended the Fair at Philadelphia to-day in the hope that possibly it might aid something in swelling the contributions for the benefit of the soldiers in the field, who are bearing the harder part of this great national struggle in which we are engaged. [Applause.] I thought I might do this without impropriety. It did not even occur to me that a kind demonstration like this would be made to me. [A voice -- 'You are worthy of it,' and cheers.] I do not really think it is proper in my position for me to make a political speech; and having said at the Fair what I thought was proper for me to say there in reference to that subject, and being more of a politician than anything else, and having exhausted that branch of the subject at the fair, and not being prepared to speak on the other, I am without anything to say. I have really appeared before you now more for the purpose of seeing you [a voice: 'Three cheers for Honest Old Abe!'] and allowing you to see me a little while, [laughter] and, to show to you that I am not wanting in due consideration and respect for you, when you make this kind demonstration in my honor. At the same time I must beg of you to excuse me from saying anything further.”
Lincoln aide Edward Duffield Neill recalled Mr. Lincoln’s return to the White House from Philadelphia: “As official business had accumulated during his absence, as soon as he entered the house he went immediately to his office. In less than an hour I went to see him, and found him stretched out, his head on the back of one chair, his legs resting on another, his collar and cravat on the table, a mulatto barber lathering his face, while the Attorney-General, Edward Bates, was quietly seated by his side, talking to him upon some matter of state. It was a striking illustration of his desire to be at work. To the question whether his visit was pleasant, he replied that it was, and the ladies, he believed, had made several thousand dollars by placing him on exhibition.” 127
Mr. Lincoln later complained to some Chicago women who tried to enlist his presence for a Sanitary Fair there: “I was nearly pulled to pieces before I reached Philadelphia. The train stopped at every station on the route, and at many places where there were no stations, only people; and my hand was nearly wrung off before I reached the f air. Then from the depot for two miles it was a solid mass of people blocking the way. Everywhere there were people shouting and cheering; and they would reach into the carriage and shake hands, and hold on, until I was afraid they would be killed, or I pulled from the carriage. When we reached the fair it was worse yet. The police tried to open a way through the crowds for me, but they had to give it up; and I didn’t know as I was going to get in at all. The people were everywhere; and, if they saw me starting for a place, they rushed there first, and stood shouting, hurrahing, and trying to shake hands. By and by the Committee had worried me along to a side door, which they suddenly opened, pushed me in, and then turned the key; and that gave me a chance to lunch, shake myself, and draw a long breath. That was the only quiet moment I had; for all the time I was in Philadelphia I was crowded, and jostled, and pulled about, and cheered, and serenaded, until I was more used up than I ever remember to have been in my life. I don’t believe I could stand another big fair.” 128
Ten months later, Mr. Lincoln’s funeral train stopped in Philadelphia so that the public could pay its respects. After President Lincoln’s murder, Philadelphia-based editor Forney had eulogized him in the Washington Chronicle: “All men see him and know him, and through all the ages his life and example will never be absent. Long after this generation is dead and forgotten — long after the events of this marvelous [sic] time are wrapped in mystery — the life and doings of this man will be read with far more interest than that now given to Julius Caesar. Children will look deep into the line of his face, in bust and picture, to see what manner of man it was that wrote Emancipation. His body we give to the grave, but his manhood we consecrate to everlasting emulation and fame. He has done his work for America, and now America gives him to mankind.” 129
- Elwin L. Page, Cameron for Lincoln’s Cabinet, p. 6-7.
- Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, editors, Herndon’s Informants.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, pp. 48-49.
- William E. Barringer, A Housing Dividing, p. 156.
- Harry Pratt, editor, Concerning Mr. Lincoln, (Letter from William H. Herndon to Lyman Trumbull, January 27, 1861), p. 45.
- Michael Burlingame, editor, An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln, John G. Nicolay’s Interviews and Essays, (John G. Nicolay Conversation with James Kennedy Moorhead), pp. 61-62.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works by Abraham Lincoln, Letter form Abraham Lincoln to Isaac Pomeroy, March 3, 1860, Volume III, p. 554.
- John D. Stewart II, “The Great Winnebago Chieftan: Simon Cameron’s Rise to Power 1860-1867,” Pennsylvania History, January 1972.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Lincoln Among His Friends, (Andrew G. Curtin), p. 195.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, (Gideon Welles), p. 356-361.
- Erwin S. Bradley, Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Secretary of War: A Political Biography, pp. 172-173.
- Charles M. Segal, editor, Conversations with Lincoln, (Letter from James Millkin to Simon Coffey, February 22, 1861), p. 77.
- Henry Villard, Lincoln on the Eve of ’61, p. 85.
- Bradley R. Hoch, “The Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle, February 15, 1861, p. 68.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, February 14, 1861, Volume IV, p. 209.
- Henry Villard, Lincoln on the Eve of ’61, p. 85.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, pp. 152-153.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, pp. 32-34.
- William E. Baringer, Lincoln’s Rise to Power, pp. 268-269.
- William E. Baringer, Lincoln’s Rise to Power, p. 269.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, pp. 32-34.
- Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861, Volume II, p. 256-257.
- Reinhard H. Luthin, The First Lincoln Campaign, p. 15.
- Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861, Volume II, p. 258.
- William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, p. 63.
- William H. Russell, “A. K. McClure and the People’s Party in the Campaign of 1860,” Pennsylvania History, October 1961, p. 337.
- Robert L. Bloom, “Newspaper Opinion in the State Election of 1860,” Pennsylvania History, October 1861, p. 351.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from Alexander K. McClure to Abraham Lincoln, August 27, 1860.
- Reinhard H. Luthin, The First Lincoln Campaign, p. 203.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, p. 44.
- Reinhard H. Luthin, The First Lincoln Campaign, p.206.
- Allan Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln, Volume I, p. 80.
- William E. Baringer, A House Dividing, pp. 172-173.
- David Mearns, editor, The Lincoln Papers, (Letter from Thaddeus Stevens to Elihu B. Washburne, January 19, 1861), p. 411.
- Elwin L. Page, Cameron for Lincoln’s Cabinet, p. 8.
- Elwin L. Page, Cameron for Lincoln’s Cabinet, p. 9.
- Harry J. Carman and Reinhard H. Luthin, Lincoln Forms His Cabinet, p. 28.
- Harry Pratt, Concerning Mr. Lincoln, (Letter Charles H. Ray wrote to Massachusetts Gov. John A. Andrew, January 17, 1861), pp. 37-39.
- John D. Stewart II, “The Great Winnebago Chieftain: Simon Cameron’s Rise to Power 1860-1867,” Pennsylvania History, January 1972, p. 32.
- Bradley R. Hoch, The Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania, p. 73.
- Victor Searcher, Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness, p. 86.
- Bradley R. Hoch, Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania, p. 66.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Speech at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 15, 1861), Volume IV, p. 211-213.
- Victor Search, Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness, p. 94.
- Henry Villard, Lincoln on the Eve of ’61, p. 85.
- Bradley R. Hoch, The Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania, p. 73.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Speech at the Flag-raising before Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1861, Volume IV, pp. 241-242.
- Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, Herndon’s Informants: Letter, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln, (William H. Herndon interview with Norman B. Judd, ca. November 1866), p. 434.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Remarks at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1861), Volume IV, p. 242-243.
- John Mason Potter, Thirteen Desperate Days, p. 157.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Reply to Governor Andrew J. Curtin at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1861 – Pennsylvania Daily Telegraph, February 22, 1861), Volume IV, pp. 243-44.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Excerpt of Address to the Pennsylvania General Assembly at Harrisburg, February 22, 1861 – Pennsylvania Daily Telegraph, February 22, 1861), Volume IV, p.244- 245.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Lincoln Among His Friends (Andrew Curtin), p. 198.
- Samuel P. Bates, Martial Deeds of Pennsylvania, p. 105.
- John Mason Potter, Thirteen Desperate Days, p. 176.
- Charles M. Segal, editor, Conversations with Lincoln, (Allan Pinkerton, Record Book of 1861), p. 80.
- Allan Nevins, War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862, pp. 215-216.
- Charles M. Segal, editor, Conversations with Lincoln, (Allan Pinkerton, Record Book of 1861), p. 80.
- Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862, pp. 215-216.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, (John Palmer Usher, speech, at Wyandotte Kansas, June 20, 1887), pp. 380-381.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln’s Own Yarns and Stories, pp. 124-125.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, pp. 269-270.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Lincoln Among His Friends (Andrew G. Curtin), pp. 198-199.
- Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: War Becomes Revolution, 1862-1863, pp.239-240.
- James G. Randall, Lincoln the President, Springfield to Gettysburg, Volume II, p. 230.
- James G. Randall, Lincoln the President, Springfield to Gettysburg, Volume II, p. 232.
- T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and the Radicals, p. 185.
- Francis B. Carpenter, Six Months at the White House, pp. 82-83.
- Josiah G. Holland, Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 394-395.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to September 11, 1862), Volume V, p. 414-15.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to September 12, 1862), Volume V, p. 417.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Andrew G. Curtin, April 28, 1863), Volume VI, p. 189.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Andrew G. Curtin, May 1. 1863), Volume VI, p. 193.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Andrew G. Curtin, May 2. 1863), Volume VI, p. 195.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from Simon Cameron to Abraham Lincoln, June 29, 1863.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, First Supplement, p. 194.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, “Lincoln Among His Friends: A Sheaf of Intimate Memories,” (James M. Scovel, Lippincott’s Magazine), p. 521.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, (John Palmer Usher, speech, at Wyandotte Kansas, June 20, 1887), pp. 380-381.
- David E. Long, The Jewel of Liberty, p. 245.
- David E. Long, The Jewel of Liberty, p. 51.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, pp. 265-266.
- Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: War Becomes Revolution, 1862-1863, p. 319.
- Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862, p.180.
- Allen Thorndike Rice, editor, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 259-260.
- Richard Carwardine, “Abraham Lincoln, the Presidency, and the Mobilization of Union Sentiment,” in Susan-Mary Grant and Brian Holden Reid, editors, The American Civil War: Explorations and Reconsiderations, p. 82.
- Susan-Mary Grant and Brian Holden Reid, The American Civil War: Explorations and Reconsiderations, (Richard Carwardine, “Abraham Lincoln, The Presidency, and the Mobilization of Union Sentiment”), p. 82.
- Richard J. Carwardine, Lincoln: Profiles in Power, p. 265.
- Gabor Boritt, The Gettysburg Gospel, p. 78.
- Gabor Boritt, The Gettysburg Gospel, p. 59.
- Ben Perley Poore, Perley’s Reminiscences, Volume II, p. 101.
- Isaac N. Arnold, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 222.
- James G. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, Volume I, p. 323.
- Richard Nelson Current, Old Thad Stevens, p. 146-147.
- Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: War Becomes Revolution, 1862-1863, pp.340-341.
- Ralph Korngold, Thaddeus Stevens: A Being Darkly Wise and Rudely Great, p. 224.
- Michael Burlingame, editor, An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln, John G. Nicolay’s Interviews and Essays, (Interview between Thad Stevens & Mr. Lincoln as related by R.M. Hohe to John G. Nicolay), pp. 77-78.
- Ralph Korngold, Thaddeus Stevens: A Being Darkly Wise and Rudely Great, p. 202.
- Allen Thorndike Rice, editor, Reminiscences of Lincoln, (Schuyler Colfax), pp. 340-341.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Simon Cameron, July 11, 1861, Volume IV, p. 445.
- Reinhard H. Luthin, The First Lincoln Campaign, p. 176.
- T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and the Radicals, p. 71.
- Allan C. Bogue, Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate, p. 37.
- Allan C. Bogue, Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate, p. 37.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from Simon Cameron to Abraham Lincoln, January 13, 1863.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to David Wilmot, January 9, 1863), Volume VI, p.52.
- Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, The War Years, Volume II, p. 645.
- Don E. Fehrenbacher, “The Making of a Myth: Lincoln and the Vice Presidential Nomination of 1864,” Civil War History, December 1992, p. 286.
- Don E. Fehrenbacher, “The Making of a Myth: Lincoln and the Vice Presidential Nomination of 1864,” Civil War History, December 1992, p. 287.
- Don E. Fehrenbacher, “The Making of a Myth: Lincoln and the Vice Presidential Nomination of 1864,” Civil War History, December 1992, p. 288.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from David Wilmot to Abraham Lincoln, March 10, 1863.
- David E. Long, The Jewel of Liberty, p. 246.
- Allen Thorndike Rice, editor, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, (William D. Kelley), pp. 275-276.
- Ben Perley Poore, Perley’s Reminiscences, Volume II, p. 101.
- James G. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, Volume I, p. 327.
- George W. Julian, Political Recollections, 1840 to 1862, p. 365.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from John W. Forney to Abraham Lincoln, September 14, 1864.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from John W. Forney to Abraham Lincoln, September 24, 1864.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from William D. Kelley to Abraham Lincoln, September 30, 1864.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from Simon Cameron to Abraham Lincoln, September 29, 1864.
- Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Letter from John W. Forney to Abraham Lincoln, October 22, 1864.
- Bradley R. Hoch, The Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania, (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 17, 1864), pp. 112-113.
- Herbert Mitgang, editor, Lincoln as They Saw Him, pp. 404-406.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Great Central Sanitary Fair, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 16, 1864, Volume VII, pp. 394-396.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Speech before the Union League Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 16, 1864, Volume VII, pp. 397.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Speech to Crowd before the Union League Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 16, 1864, Volume VII, pp. 397.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, (Minnesota Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, St. Paul, February 1885), p. 602.
- Mary A. Livermore, My Story of the War, pp. 579-580.
- William C. Harris, “Lincoln’s Last Months,” Washington Daily Chronicle, May 5, 1865, p. 239.