Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

. (page 35 of 41)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 41)
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phasis, "Moody, I feel better!" Shortly afterwards he asked, "Will
you stand by me?" "Certainly, I will," was the answer. "Well,
Moody, I can depend upon you; you are one in a hundred thousand!"
He then commenced pacing the floor again. Suddenly he wheeled,
the current of his thought having changed, and said, "Oh! Moody, I !
don't want you to think I have become a religious man because I
asked you to pray. I am sorry to say it, but I am not, and have never
pretended to be, religious. No one knows this better than you; but,
Moody, there is one thing about it — I do believe in Almighty God!
And I believe also in the Bible, and I say, damn me, if Nashville j
shall be surrendered!'""

And Nashville was not surrendered!

Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, called one day i
on General Halleck, and, presuming upon a familiar acquaintance in
California a few years since, solicited a pass outside of our lines to
see a brother in Virginia, not thinking that he would meet with a |


refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union men. "We
have been deceived too often," said General Halleck, "and I regret I
can't grant it." Judge B. then went to Stanton, and was very briefly
disposed of with the same result. Finally, he obtained an interview
with Mr. Lincoln, and stated his case. "Have you applied to Gen-
eral Halleck?" inquired the President. "Yes, and met with a flat
refusal," said Judge B. "Then you must see Stanton," continued the
President. "I have, and with the same result," was the reply. "Well,
then," said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile, "I can do nothing; for you
must know that I have very little influence with this Administration."

One bright morning, last May, the Sunday-school children of the
city of Washington, marching in procession on "anniversary" day,
passed in review through the portico on the north side of the White
House. The President stood at the open window above the door,
responding with a smile and a bow to the lusty cheers of the little
folks as they passed. Hon. Mr. Odell, always wide awake when Sun-
day-school children are around, with one or two other gentlemen,
stood by his side as I joined the group. It was a beautiful sight; the
rosy-cheeked beys and girls, in their "Sunday's best," with banners
and flowers, all intent upon seeing the President, and, as they caught
sight of his tall figure, cheering as if their very lives depended upon
it! After enjoying the scene for some time, making pleasant remarks
about a face that now and then struck him, Mr. Lincoln said; "I heard
a story last night about Daniel Webster when a lad, which was new
to me, and it has been running in my head all the morning. When
quite young, at school, Daniel was one day guilty of a gross violation
of the rules. He was detected in the act, and called up by the teacher
for punishment. This was to be the old-fashioned 'feruling' of the
hand. His hands happened to be very dirty. Knowing this, on his
way to the teacher's desk he spit upon the palm of his right hand,
wiping it off upon the side of his pantaloons. 'Give me your hand,
sir,' said the teacher, very sternly. Out went the right hand, partly
cleansed. The teacher looked at it a moment, and said, 'Daniel, if
you will find another hand in this school-room as filthy as that, I will
let you off this time!' Instantly from behind his back came the left
hand. 'Here it is, sir,' was the ready reply. 'That will do,' said the
teacher, 'for this time; you can take your seat, sir!'"

A new levy of troops required, on a certain occasion, the appoint-
ment of a large additional number of brigadier and major generals.
Among the immense number of applications, Mr. Lincoln came upon
one wherein the claims of a certain worthy (not in the service at all)
"for a generalship" were glowingly set forth. But the applicant
didn't specify whether he wanted to be brigadier or major general.
The President observed this difficulty, and solved it by a lucid in-
dorsement. The clerk, on receiving the paper again, found written
; across its back, "Major-General, I reckon. A. Lincoln."

It is said that, on the occasion of a serenade, the President was
called for by the crowd assembled. He appeared at a window with
his wife (who is somewhat below the medium height), and made the


following "brief remarks:" "Here I am, and here is Mrs. Lincoln.
That's the long and the short of it."

Soon after the opening of Congress last winter, my friend, the Hor
Mr. Shannon, from California, made the customary call at the White
House. In the conversation that ensued, Mr. Shannon said: "Mr.
President, I met an old friend of yours in California last summer, a
Mr. Campbell, who had, a good deal to say of your Springfield life."
"Ah!" returned Mr. Lincoln, "I am glad to hear of him. Campbell
used to be a dry fellow in those days," he continued. "For a time he
was Secretary of State. One day during the legislative vacation, a
meek, cadaverous-looking man, with a white neckcloth, introduced
himself to him at his office, and, stating that he had been informed
that Mr. C. had the letting of the hall of representatives, he wished to
secure it, if possible, for a course of lectures he desired to deliver in
Springfield. 'May I ask,' said the Secretary, 'what is to be the sub-
ject of your lectures?' 'Certainly,' was the reply, with a very solemn
expression of countenance. 'The course I wish to deliver is on the
Second Coming of our Lord.' 'It is of no use,' saidC. ; 'if you will
take my advice, you will not waste your time in this city. It is my '
private opinion that, if the Lord has been in Springfield once, He will
never come the second time!"

Some gentlemen were once finding fault with the President because
certain Generals were not given commands. "The fact is," replied
Mr. Lincoln, "I have got more pegs than I have holes to put them in."

A clergyman from Springfield, Illinois, being in Washington early
in Mr. Lincoln's administration, , called upor«^him, and in the course
of conversation asked him what was to be his policy on the slavery
question. "Well," said the President, "I will, answer, by telling you '
a story. You know Father B.,, the old Methodist preacher? and you
know Fox River and its freshets? Well, once in the presence of |
Father B., a young Methodist was worrying about Fox River, and ex-
pressing fears that he should be prevented from fulfilling some of his
appointments by a freshet in the river. Father B. checked him in
his gravest manner.^ Said he : 'Young man, I have always made it
a rule in my life not to cross Fox River till I get to it!' And," added
Mr. Lincoln, "I am not going to worry myself over the slavery
question till I get to it."

"I shall ever cherish among the brighest memories of my life,"
says Rev. Dr. J. P. Thompson, "the recollection of an hour in his
working-room last September, which was one broad sheet of sun-
shine. He had spent the morning poring over the returns of a court-
martial upon capital cases, and studying to decide them according to
truth; and upon the entrance of a friend, he threw himself into an
attitude^ of relaxation, and sparkled with good-humor. I spoke of the i
rapid rise of Union feeling since the promulgation of the Chicago
platform, and the victory at Atlanta; and the question was started,
which had contributed the most to the reviving of Union sentiment —
the victory or the platform. "I guess," said the President, "it was
the victory ; at any rate, I'd rather have that repeated."


Being informed of the death of John Morgan, he said, "Well, I
wouldn't crow over anybody's death; but I can take this as resignedly
as any dispensation of Providence."

My attention has been two or three times called to a paragraph
now going the rounds of the newspapers concerning a singular appa-
rition of himself in a looking-glass, which Mr. Lincoln is stated to
have seen on the day he was first nominated at Chicago. The story
as told is made to appear very mysterious, and believing that the taste
for the supernatural is sufficiently ministered unto without perverting
the facts, I will tell the story as the President told, it to John Hay, the
assistant private secretary, and myself. We were in his room together
about dark, the evening of the Baltimore Convention. The gas had
just been lighted, and he had been telling us how he had that after-
noon received the news of the nomination of Andrew Johnson for
Vice-President before he heard of his own.

It seemed that the dispatch announcing his renomination had been
sent to his office from the War Department while he was at lunch.
Directly afterward, without going back to the official chamber, he
proceeded to the War Department. While there, the telegram came
announcing the nomination of Johnson. "What," said he to the oper-
ator, "do they nominate a Vice-President before they do a Presi-
dent?" "Why," replied the astonished official, "have you not heard
of your own nomination? It was sent to the White House two hours
;ago." "It is all right," replied the President; "I shall probably find it
on my return."

Laughing pleasantly over this incident, he said, soon afterward: "A
very singular occurrence took place the day I was nominated at Chi-
cago, four years ago, which I am reminded of to-night. In the after-
noon of the day, returning home from down town, I went up-stairs to
Mrs. Lincoln's sitting-room. Feeling somewhat tired, I lay down
upon a couch in the room, directly opposite a bureau upon which
was a looking-glass. As I reclined, my eye fell upon the glass, and
I saw distinctly two images of myself, exactly alike, except that one
was a little paler than the other. I arose, and lay down again, with
the same result. It made me quite uncomfortable for a few moments;
but some friends coming in, the matter passed out of my mind. The
next day, while walking in the street, I was suddenly reminded of
the circumstance, and the disagreeable sensation produced by it re-
turned. I had never seen anything of the kind before, and did not
know what to make of it. I determined to go home and place my-
self in the same position, and if the same effect was produced, 1
would make up my mind that it was the natural result of some ori^ 1
ciple of refraction of optics which I did not understand, and dismiss
it. I tried the experiment, with the same result, and as I had said
to myself, accounting for it on some principle unknown to me, it
ceased to trouble me. But," said he, "some time ago I tried to
produce the same effect here, by arranging a glass and couch in
the same position, without success." He did not say, as is asserted in
the story as printed, that either he or Mrs. Lincoln attached any
omen to it whatever. Neither did he say the double reflection was
seen while he was walking about the room. On the contrary, it was


only visible in a certain position, and at a certain angle, and there-
fore, he thought, could be accounted for upon scientific principles.

A distinguished public officer being in Washington, in an inter-
view with the President, introduced the question of emancipation.
"Well, you see," said Mr. Lincoln, "we've got to be very cautious
how we manage the negro question. If we're not, we shall be like
the barber out in Illinois, who was shaving a fellow with a hatchet
face and lantern jaws like mine. The barber stuck his finger in his
customer's mouth to make his cheek stick out, but while shaving away
he cut through the fellow's cheek and cut off his own finger! If we
are not very careful, we shall do as the barber did!"

At the White House one day some gentlemen were present from
the West, excited and troubled about the commissions or omissions
of the Administration. The President heard them patiently, and then
replied: — "Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was
in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across
the Niagara River on a rope, would you shake the cable, or keep
shouting out to him — 'Blondin, stand up a little straighter — Blondin,
stoop a little more — go a little faster — lean a little more to the north —
lean a little more to the south?' No, you would hold your breath as
well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over.
The Government are carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures
are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Don't
badger them. Keep silence, and we'll get you safe across."

Being asked at another time by an "anxious" visitor as to what he
would do in certain contingencies — provided the rebellion was not
subdued after three or four years of effort on the part of the Govern-
ment — "Oh," said the President, "there is no alternative but to keep
'pegging' away!'

After the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, Governor Mor-
gan, of New York, was at the White House one day, when the Presi-
dent said : — "I do not agree with those who say that slavery is dead.
We are like whalers who have been long on a chase — we have at last
got the harpoon into the monster, but *we must now look how. we
steer, or, with one 'flop' of his tail, he will yet send us all into
eternity !"

During a public "reception," a farmer, from one of the border
counties of Virginia, told the President that the Union soldiers, in |
passing his farm, had helped themselves not only to hay, but his
horse, and he hoped the President would urge the proper officer to
consider his claim immediately.

Mr. Lincoln said that this reminded him of an old acquaintance of
his, "Jack Chase," who used to be a lumberman on the Illinois, a
steady, sober man, and the best raftsman on the river. It was quite
a trick, twenty-five years ago, to take the logs over the rapids; but
he was skilful with a raft, and always kept her straight in the channel.


day when the boat was plunging and wallowing along the boiling cur-
rent, and Jack's utmost vigilance was being exercised to keep her in
the narrow channel, a boy pulled his coat-tail, and hailed him with—
"Say, Mister Captain! I wish you would just stop your boat a min-
ute— I've lost my apple overboard!"

The President was once speaking about an attack made on him by
the Committee on the Conduct of the War for a certain alleged blun-
der, or something worse, in the Southwest— the matter involved being
one which had fallen directly under the observation of the officer to
whom he was talking, who possessed official evidence completely up-
setting all the conclusions of the Committee.

"Might it not be well for me," queried the officer, "to set this
matter right in a letter to some paper, stating the facts as they
actually transpired?"

"Oh, no," replied the President, "at least, not now. If I were to
try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop
might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I
know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until
the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me
■ won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out^ wrong, ten
angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

A gentleman was relating to the President how a friend of his had

been driven away from New Orleans as a Unionist, and how, on hi*
I expulsion, when he asked to see the writ by which he was expelled,

the deputation which called on him told him that the Government
I had made up their minds to do nothing illegal, and so they had
\ issued no illegal writs, and simply meant to make him go of his own
1 free will. "Well," said Mr. Lincoln, "that reminds me of a hotel-
| keeper down at St. Louis, who boasted that he never had a death in

his hotel, for whenever a guest was dying in his house he carried

him out to die in the gutter."

One evening the President brought a couple of friends into the
"State dining-room" to see my picture. Something was said, in the
conversation that ensued, that "reminded" him of the following cir-
cumstance : "Judge ," said he, "held the strongest ideas of rigid

government and close construction that I ever met. It was said of
him, on one occasion, that he would hang a man for blowing his
nose in the street, but he would quash the indictment if it failed to
specify which hand he blew it with!"

On one occasion, in the Executive chamber, there were present
a number of gentlemen, among them Mr. Seward.

A point in the conversation suggesting the thought, Mr. Lincoln
said: "Seward, you never heard, did you, how I earned my first dol-
lar?" "No," said Mr. Seward. "Well," replied he, "I was about eigh-
teen years of age. I belonged, you know, to what they call down
South, the 'scrubs:' people who do not own slaves are nobody there.
: But we had succeeded in raising, chiefly by my labor, sufficient pro-
duce, as I thought, to justify me in taking it down the river, to sell.

"After much persuasion, I got the consent of mother to go, and


constructed a little flatboat, large enough to take a barrel or two of
things, that we had gathered, with myself and little^bundle, down to
New Orleans. A steamer was coming down the river. We have,
you know, no wharves on the Western streams; and the custom was,
if passengers were at any of the landings, for them to go out in a
boat, the steamer stopping and taking them on board.

"I was contemplating my new flatboat, and wondering whether I
would make it stronger or improve it in any particular, when two
men came down to the shore in carriages with trunks, and looking at
the different boats, singled out mine, and asked, 'Who owns this?' I
answered, somewhat modestly, 'I do.' 'Will you,' said one of them,
'take us and our trunks out to the steamer?' 'Certainly,' said I. I
was very glad to have the chance of earning something. I supposed
that each of them would give me two or three bits. The trunks were
put on my flatboat, the passengers seated themselves on the trunks,
and I sculled them out to the steamboat.

"They got on board, and I lifted up their heavy trunks, and put
them on deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again, when
I called out that they had forgotten to pay me. Each of them took
from his pocket a silver half-dollar, and threw it on the floor of my
boat. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up the money.
Gentlemen, you may think it was a very little thing, and in these
days it seems to me a trifle; but it was a most important incident in
my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a
dollar in less than a day — that by honest work I had earned a dollar.
The world seemed wider and fairer before me. I was a more hope-
ful and contented being from that time."

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

The Presidential election was impending. Many thought another
call for men at such a time would injure, if not destroy, Mr. Lincoln's
chances for re-election. A friend said as much to him one day, after
the President had told him of his purpose to make such a call. "As
to my re-election," replied Mr. Lincoln, "it matters not. We must
have the men. If I go down, I intend to go, like the Cumberland,
with my colors flying!"

A gentleman was one day finding fault with the constant agitation
in Congress of the slavery question. He remarked that, after the
adoption of the Emancipation policy, he had hoped for something

"There was a man down in Maine," said the President, in reply,
"who kept a grocery-store, and a lot of fellows used to loaf around
that for their toddy. He only gave 'em New England rum, and thev
drank pretty considerable of it. But after a while they began to get
tired of that, and kept asking for something new — something new —
all the time. Well, one night, when the whole crowd were around,
the grocer brought out his glasses, and says he, 'I've got something
New for you to drink, boys, now.' 'Honor bright?' said they. 'Honor


bright,' says he, and with that he sets out a jug. 'Thar,' says he,
'that's something new; it's New England rum!' says he. Now," re-
marked Mr. Lincoln, "I guess we're a good deal like that crowd, and
Congress is a good deal like that store-keeper!"

About a week after the Chicago Convention, a gentleman from New
York called upon the President, in company with the Assistant Sec-
retary of War, Mr. Dana. In the course of conversation, the gentle-
man said : "What do you think, Mr. President, is the reason General
McClellan does not reply to the letter from the Chicago Conven-

"Oh!" replied Mr. Lincoln, with a characteristic twinkle of the eye,
"he is intrenching!"

On the occasion when the telegram from Cumberland Gap reached
Mr. Lincoln that "firing was heard in the direction of Knoxville,"
he remarked that he was "glad of it." Some person present, who
had the perils of Burnside's position uppermost in his mind, could
not see why Mr. Lincoln should be glad of it, and so expressed
himself. "Why, you see," responded the President, "it reminds me
of Mistress Sallie Ward, a neighbor of mine, who had a very large
family. Occasionally one of her numerous progeny would be heard
crying in some out-of-the-way place, upon which Mrs. Ward would
exclaim, 'There's one of my children that isn't dead yet!'"

"On Mr. Lincoln's reception-day, after the nomination," wrote
Theodore Tilton, in a letter to the Independent, "his face wore an
expression of satisfaction rather than elation. His reception of Mr.
Garrison was an equal honor to host and guest. In alluding to our
failure to find the old jail, he said, 'Well, Mr. Garrison, when you
first went to Baltimore, you couldn't get out; but the second time,
you couldn't get in.' When one of us mentioned the great enthusi-
asm at t he convention after Senator Morgan's proposition to
amend the Constitution, abolishing slavery, Mr. Lincoln instantly
said, 'It was I who suggested to Mr. Morgan that he should put that
idea into his opening speech.' This was the very best word he has
said since the proclamation of freedom."

In the spring of 1862, the President spent several days at Fortress
Monroe, awaiting military operations upon the Peninsula. As a
portion of the Cabinet were with him, that was temporarily the seat
of government, and he bore with him constantly the burden of public
affairs. His favorite diversion was reading Shakspeare, whom he
rendered with fine discrimination of emphasis and feeling. One day
(it chanced to be the day before the taking of Norfolk), as he sat
reading alone,_ he called to his aide* in the adjoining room — "You
have been writing long enough, Colonel, come in here! I want to
read you a passage in Hamlet." He read the discussion on ambition
between Hamlet and his courtiers, and the soliloquy, in which con-
science debates of a future state. This was followed by passages from

*Colonel Le Grand B. Cannon, of General Wool's staff.

694 the life, public services, and

Macbeth. Then opening to King John, he read from the third act
the passage in which Constance bewails her imprisoned, lost boy.
Then closing the book, and recalling the words —

"And, father cardinal, I have heard you say
That we shall see and know our friends in heaven :
If that be true, I shall see my boy again" —

Mr. Lincoln said: "Colonel, did you ever dream of a lost friend,
and feel that you were holding sweet communion with that friend,
and yet have a sad consciousness that it was not a reality? — just so
I dream of my boy Willie." Overcome with emotion, he dropped
his head on the table, and sobbed aloud.

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

Mr. Lincoln was greatly moved by the Secretary's words, and
tearing in pieces the paper containing the resignation, and throwing
his arms about the Secretary, he said : "Stanton, you have been a
good friend and a faithful public servant, and it is not for you to say

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 41)