BECK index


Getting Re-elected

by Sanderson Beck



White House
December 1863

OWEN LOVEJOY is waiting, and ABRAHAM LINCOLN appears in the doorway in a dressing gown.

Lovejoy, are you afraid?

No, I have had the smallpox; come in.

Lincoln enters and sits next to him.

It is a bad disease, but it has its advantages.
For the first time since I have been in office
I have something to give everybody that calls,
and the office-seekers are staying away.
The doctors are calling it varioloid,
and they say it is a mild form of smallpox.
I am feeling better already.

Mr. President, have you thought about
what is going to happen after the war?

Yes, I have been working on that.
With my annual message to Congress
I am going to send them a
Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.
Although there are exceptions
for former government officials
and high-ranking Confederate officers,
I am going to grant a full pardon to everyone
with restoration of all property rights
except as to slaves or in cases where
the rights of third parties have intervened.
This is based on the condition
that all these persons shall take and subscribe
an oath to support, protect, and defend
the Constitution and the Union of states.


Lincoln is talking with his wife MARY.

I received a telegram from Fortress Monroe,
where your sister Emilie is being denied a pass
because she refused to take
the oath of allegiance to the United States.

I can understand that because of
the grief she feels for her late husband.

I have directed them to send her here to us.

Oh, good!
I would like to comfort her in her grief.
We both have lost so much.
Three of our brothers in the Confederate Army
have been killed—
Sam at Shiloh, David at Vicksburg,
and my baby brother Alexander at Baton Rouge.

Many people will not understand.
So I suggest that we keep this a secret.


Mary knocks on a bedroom door, and her sister EMILIE HELM opens the door and lets her in.

May I come in, Emilie?
I have something I want to tell you.

Mary closes the door, and they both sit down.

What is it, sister?

In my grief over my son Willie’s death
I have been comforted by knowing
that his spirit is still alive.

What do you mean?

He comes to me every night
with the same sweet adorable smile
he has always had.
He does not always come alone;
sometimes little Eddie is with him,
and twice he has come with our brother Alec.
He tells me he loves his Uncle Alec
and is with him most of the time.


Mary and Emilie Helm are talking with SENATOR IRA HARRIS and GENERAL DANIEL SICKLES, who has lost a leg.

The President was very kind to me
when I was in the hospital
recovering from my wound.

We have whipped the rebels at Chattanooga,
and I hear, madam,
that the scoundrels ran like scared rabbits.

It was the example, Senator Harris,
that you set them at Bull Run and Manassas.

Why isn’t Robert in the Army?
He is old enough and strong enough
to serve his country.
He should have gone to the front
some time ago.

Robert is making preparations now
to enter the Army, Senator Harris.
He is not a shirker as you seem to imply,
for he has been anxious to go for a long time.
If fault there be, it is mine.
I have insisted that
he should stay in college a little longer
as I think an educated man
can serve his country
with more intelligent purpose
than an ignoramus.

I have only one son,
and he is fighting the rebels.

Harris looks at Emilie.

HARRIS (Cont’d.)
And madam, if I had twenty sons,
they should all be fighting the rebels.

And if I had twenty sons,
they should all be opposing yours.
My husband died fighting at Chickamauga.

Emilie is so upset that she stands up and leaves the room, followed by Mary.

Really! My sister is in mourning.


Lincoln is talking with JOHN HAY.

I had a peculiarly pleasant dream last night.
I was at a party,
and I overheard someone say of me,
“He is a very common-looking man.”
In the dream I replied,
“The Lord prefers common-looking people.
That is the reason he makes so many of them.”


GENERAL JOHN SCHOFIELD comes in, and Lincoln welcomes him with a handshake.

General Schofield, I am glad to meet you.

Sir, General Halleck handed me
this dispatch from General Grant.
He wants either McPherson or myself
to replace General Foster.

Why, Schofield, that cuts the knot, don’t it?
Then I can replace you
in Missouri with General Rosecrans.
Tell Halleck to come over here,
and we will fix it right away.

Very well, sir.


Lincoln is meeting with a U.S. Marshal, J. RUSSELL JONES.

I have sent for you to know
if that man Grant wants to be President.

Jones reaches into his pocket and pulls out a letter.

I have an idea, Mr. President,
that this letter will interest you.
I received it on my way to the train
as I left home.
Grant wrote, “Nothing would induce me
to think of being a presidential candidate
so long as there is a possibility
of having Mr. Lincoln re-elected.”

Lincoln puts his hand on the shoulder of Jones as they walk toward the door.

You will never know
how gratifying that is to me.
No man knows,
when that presidential grub
gets to gnawing at him,
just how deep it will get until he has tried it;
and I didn’t know whether
there was one gnawing at Grant.



February 1, 1864


Spain is trying to regain
control over the Dominican Republic,
where the United States has established
a colony for Negroes on the island of Vache.
The question arises whether we should
intervene to protect their independence.
We could annex this island domain,
but that would likely anger Spain.
However, our refusing to help them
could cause resentment among the Negroes
and their sympathizers.

That reminds me of an interview
between two Negroes.
One of them was a preacher
and said to his friend,
“Joe, there are two roads for you.
One of ‘em leads straight to hell,
and de udder go right to damnation.
Which way do you want to go?”
Joe answered, “I go troo de wood.”
Gentlemen, I am not disposed to take on
any new trouble just at this time,
and I shall go neither for Spain nor the Negro
but shall take to the woods.
Mr. Stanton, I direct you
with the help of Mr. Welles
to send a transport ship
to the colony at Vache to bring back
to this country those colonists
who desire to return here.
They may bring their possessions too.

Where shall we take them?

Bring them to Washington.
They can be employed
in the camps for colored persons.



February 10

Lincoln is working at his desk when LEONARD SWETT comes in.

Good morning, Mr. President.

Get out of the way, Swett.
Tomorrow is butcher-day,
and I must go through these papers
and see if I cannot find some excuse
to let these poor fellows off.

Excuse me, sir; I thought you
went through the pending executions yesterday.

I reviewed sixty-three yesterday,
but I have thirty-two more cases today.

Swett goes out.


Lincoln is still working on the papers. Suddenly JOHN NICOLAY comes running in.

The stables are on fire!

Lincoln and Nicolay run out of the room.


Lincoln, Nicolay, and others are running to the stables to see what they can do. Lincoln leaps over the hedge and opens the stable door, but the fire is raging. WARD HILL LAMON grabs Lincoln to keep him from running into the burning stables. Lincoln weeps.

Willie’s pony is in there.
I wanted to save him.

It is beyond you, sir.
I cannot let you risk your life.


Lincoln is talking with Nicolay and hands him a paper.

I have ordered a call for
five hundred thousand more men in March.
Now I am commuting the death sentences
of all the deserters to imprisonment
for the duration of the war.
We have got to win this war
as soon as we can.



February 20

Lincoln is working at his desk. Nicolay comes in and hands Lincoln a newspaper.

Good morning, Mr. President.
The Washington Constitutional Union
has reprinted the Pomeroy Circular.
You may recall that is the secret document
we showed you a while back in which
Senator Pomeroy explains why
Mr. Chase should be nominated this year
instead of you.

Thank you for the news, Nicolay.
I have not read that document.

Mr. Chase is obviously working hard
to get himself elected President.

Yes, that appears to be the case.
However, my good friend Seward seems
to have given up his Presidential ambition,
at least for this year.

Why are you keeping Chase in the cabinet
when it is well known that he is opposed to you?

Now see here; when I was elected,
I resolved to hire my four presidential rivals,
pay them their wages, and be their boss.
These were Seward, Chase, Cameron, and Bates;
but I got rid of Cameron
after he had played himself out.
As to discharging Chase or Seward,
don’t talk of it.
I pay them their wages and am their boss,
wouldn’t let either of them out on the loose
for the fee simple of the Almaden patent.

Do you want to be renominated
for a second term as President, sir?

I am doing everything I can
to serve our country in this office,
and I shall leave it to others to decide
whether they think it best to renominate me.



March 8

Lincoln is talking with GENERAL ULYSSES GRANT. Stanton and Nicolay are also present, and all are dressed in evening clothes.

General Grant, tomorrow I shall formally
appoint you to be the first lieutenant general
since George Washington, the only other one.
I shall make a very short speech to you,
to which I desire you to reply for an object.
That you may be properly prepared to do so,
I have written what I shall say,
only four sentences in all,
which I will read from my manuscript
as an example which you may follow
and also read your reply—
as you are perhaps not so much accustomed
to public speaking as I am;
and I therefore give you
what I shall say so that you may consider it.

Lincoln hands a paper to grant.

LINCOLN (Continued)
There are two points that I would like
to have you make in your answer:
first, to say something which shall prevent
or obviate any jealousy of you
from any of the other generals in the service;
and second, something which shall put you
on as good terms as possible
with the Army of the Potomac.
If you see any objection to doing this,
be under no restraint whatever in expressing
that objection to the Secretary of War.

I understand, Mr. President.

General Grant, I am reminded of a story.
There once was a monkey general called Jocko,
and tremendous things were expected of him
in the Monkey War.
Jocko said that he was eager to fight,
but he was worried that his tail was too short
for a high-ranking commander.
So monkey surgeons docked the tails
of other monkeys
and spliced them onto Jocko’s tail.
Eventually he had a tail so long and so heavy
that it had to be draped over his shoulder
and wrapped around his chest
that was covered with medals.
Finally the weight of the tail broke Jocko’s back.
So far, General Grant,
I have had many generals like Jocko—
always wanting more men
and never fighting enough.
I don’t give many military orders.
Some of those I do give, I know are wrong.
Sometimes I think all of them are wrong.
You seem to be a general who fights.

Just watch and see, Mr. President.
What do you want me to do?

The country wants you to take Richmond.
Can you do it?

If I have the troops.

I shall give you everything
that the country and I can provide
in the way of men or anything else.
With you outranking him, I am sure that
the General-in-Chief Halleck will resign.

I suggest you keep him on, Mr. President.
The War Department could
make him Chief of Staff.
I could fight in the field,
and he could make sure that
we have enough manpower and firepower.

That is a good idea.


Lincoln is making a formal presentation to Grant in the presence of Stanton, Chase, Welles, Bates, Montgomery Blair, Usher, Nicolay, Owen Lovejoy, JOHN RAWLINS, and Grant’s teen-age son FRED GRANT.

General Grant, the nation’s appreciation
of what you have done
and its reliance upon you for what
remains to do in the existing great struggle
are now presented with this commission
constituting you Lieutenant-General
in the Army of the United States.
With this high honor devolves upon you
also a corresponding responsibility.
As the country herein trusts you,
so under God it will sustain you.
I scarcely need to add that
with what I here speak for the nation
goes my own hearty personal concurrence.

Lincoln presents Grant with a third star, and shakes his hand.

Congratulations, General.

Grant has in one hand a half sheet of note paper written in pencil, and he has difficulty reading from it.

Mr. President, I accept this commission
with gratitude for the high honor conferred.
With the aid of the noble armies
that have fought on so many fields
for our common country,
it will be my earnest endeavor
not to disappoint your expectations.
I feel the full weight of the responsibilities
now devolving on me;
and I know that if they are met,
it will be due to those armies
and above all to the favor of that providence
which leads both nations and men.

Those attending applaud.


Lincoln is talking with Grant.

I am going west,
and I will be gone about nine days.
Then I will return and direct operations
from the Eastern headquarters.
This has been the warmest campaign
I have witnessed during the war.

Mrs. Lincoln shares in the universal gratitude
and admiration for you,
and she is inviting you to a party
at the White House this evening
for a dinner arranged specially for you.

Mrs. Lincoln must excuse me.
I must be in Tennessee at a given time.

But we can’t excuse you.
Mrs. Lincoln’s dinner without you
would be Hamlet with Hamlet left out.

I appreciate the honor
Mrs. Lincoln would do me,
but time is important now,
and really, Mr. Lincoln,
I have had enough of this show business.


Lincoln is visiting the bedside of the ill Owen Lovejoy.

I am gaining very slowly.
It is hard work drawing the sled uphill.

This war is eating my life out.
I have a strong impression that
I shall not live to see the end.


Lincoln is working at his desk when Stanton and Grant come in.

Now, General, state your case.

I have no case to state.
I am satisfied as it is.

Mr. President, General Grant
has been exceeding his authority
and is putting Washington in danger
by stripping away the garrisons.

Now, Mr. Secretary,
you know we have been trying
to manage this army for nearly three years,
and you know we haven’t done much with it.
We sent over the mountains
and brought Mr. Grant,
as Mrs. Grant calls him,
to manage it for us,
and now I guess we’d better
let Mr. Grant have his own way.

But we don’t even know his plans.

I don’t want to know them.
People are always asking me
what is happening,
and I don’t want to cause a leak.
General, you just tell us what you need,
and Mr. Stanton and I will see to it that
you get whatever is in our power to give you.

Mr. President,
I will not call for more assistance
unless I find it impossible
to do with what I already have.



March 21

Lincoln is meeting with the CHAIRMAN and members of a committee from the New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association.

Mr. President,
our Workingmen’s Association
was organized last year.
We have elected you an honorary member
and are supporting your re-election.

The honorary membership in your association,
as generously tendered, is gratefully accepted.
You comprehend, as your address shows,
that the existing rebellion means more
and tends to do more than
the perpetuation of African slavery—
that it is in fact a war upon
the rights of all working people.
None are so deeply interested to resist
the present rebellion as the working people.
Let them beware of prejudice, working division,
and hostility among themselves.
The most notable feature of a disturbance
in your city of New York last summer
was the hanging of some working people
by other working people.
It should never be so.
The strongest bond of human sympathy,
outside of the family relation,
should be one uniting all working people
of all nations and tongues and kindreds.
Nor should this lead to a war upon property
or the owners of property.
Property is the fruit of labor;
property is desirable,
is a positive good in the world.
That some should be rich
shows that others may become rich,
and hence is just encouragement
to industry and enterprise.
Let not him who is houseless
pull down the house of another,
but let him labor diligently
and build one for himself,
thus by example assuring that
his own shall be safe from violence when built.


Lincoln is talking with 21-year-old ANNA ELIZABETH DICKINSON.

They tell me you are on my side.
I want to know how it is.

Mr. President, your emancipation policy
is not moving fast enough.
I have come to plead with you
to give justice to the Negro.

That reminds me of a story.

Sir, I did not come here to hear stories.
I can read better ones than you can tell me
in the papers any day.

I have shown you letters
from officials in Louisiana.
What do you think of
my plan for reconstruction there?

I think it is all wrong,
as radically bad as can be.

Well, Miss Dickinson,
you are a very popular orator,
and I am sure that you can talk better than I.
All I can say is, if the radicals want me to lead,
let them get out of the way and let me lead.

All right, Mr. President.
I have spoken my last word to you.


The painter FRANCIS BICKNELL CARPENTER is using the light of the chandelier in this room as he paints a portrait of the sitting Lincoln.

According to the New York Tribune
the conspiracy in Richmond to kidnap you
has five hundred or a thousand men
who have sworn to put through that project.

Well, even if true,
I do not see what the rebels would gain
by killing or getting possession of me.
I am but a single individual,
and it would not help their cause
or make the least difference
in the progress of the war.
Everything would go right on just the same.
Ever since I was nominated for President
in Chicago four years ago,
the threats have come in the mail
like regular installments.

Really?! I had no idea.

Oh, there is nothing like
getting used to things.


Lincoln is talking with the Judge Advocate General, JOSEPH HOLT, who hands him a paper.

This soldier ran away during a battle,
and he was also convicted of
stealing from his comrades.
He does not deny his guilt;
he will better serve his country
dead than living.
As far as we know, he has no family.

Well, Judge, I think I must put this
with my leg cases.

Leg cases?

Lincoln points to some files stuffed into a pigeonhole in his desk.

They are the cases that you call
“cowardice in the face of the enemy,”
but I call them my “leg cases.”
I put it to you
and leave you to decide for yourself:
if almighty God gives a man
a pair of cowardly legs,
how can he help their running away with him?


Lincoln is receiving A. G. RIDDLE and RUFUS SPALDING.

Mr. President, we have been appointed
by the supporters of Mr. Chase
to meet with you to see
if we can work out a satisfactory compromise.

Good morning, gentlemen.

Lincoln shakes their hands and then walks to the end of the cabinet table and sits down, but the other two men remain standing.

We believe the Republican ranks
need harmony at this time.
The salvation of the nation
demands your re-election,
but recent events have endangered the harmony
that is indispensable to success.
The speech by Congressman Frank Blair
against Mr. Chase and your renewing
of Mr. Blair’s military commission
seemed as if planned for dramatic effect
as part of a conspiracy against
a most important member
of the cabinet and the administration.
The always alert, jealous
and somewhat exacting abolitionists
believe that Blair must have had at least
your countenance in this wretched business,
and they demand
the instant resignation of Mr. Chase.
It is only by the strenuous exertion
of one or two persons
that this has been delayed.
Mr. President,
Mr. Chase’s abrupt resignation now
would be equal in its effects
to a severe set-back of the army under Grant.
It would foretell the defections
of his friends at Baltimore,
equal in effect to the defeat
of an army in a pitched battle.
Their defection in November
might be the destruction of our cause.
I pray you to remember
who these abolitionists are.
They are the first, the oldest anti-slavery men—
the abolitionists who conquered, first of all,
the pro-slavery North,
and who with later allies
have conducted the great struggle
to the issue of war,
who made your accession to power possible.
I know they have at times been over hasty.
They were, however, the first to leap to your side,
and they have pressed most closely after you,
nay, would push you forward.

Lincoln stands up and walks to the men and shakes their hands again.

Gentlemen, I am glad for your mission
and especially glad for your way of executing it.
It makes my statement easier than I expected.
I nevertheless will say about what I intended.

Lincoln picks up a batch of papers from the table.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Have you seen my letter to Mr. Chase
of February 29 in reply to his of the 22nd
concerning his candidacy
and offering his resignation?

I have.

I have not.

I read now from that letter.
“My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy’s letter
having been made public
came to me only the day you wrote;
but I had, in spite of myself,
known of its existence several days before.
I have not yet read it, and I think I shall not.
I was not shocked or surprised
by the appearance of the letter
because I had had knowledge
of Mr. Pomeroy’s Committee
and of secret issues
which I supposed came from it
and of secret agents who I supposed
were sent out by it for several weeks.
I have known just as little of these things
as my own friends have allowed me to know.
They bring the documents to me,
but I do not read them.
They tell me what they think fit to tell me,
but I do not inquire for more.
I fully concur with you that neither of us
can be justly held responsible
for what our respective friends may do
without our instigation or countenance;
and I assure you, as you have assured me,
that no assault has been made upon you
by my instigation or with my countenance.

“Whether you shall remain
at the head of the Treasury Department
is a question which I will not allow myself
to consider from any stand-point
other than my judgment of the public service;
and in that view
I do not perceive occasion for a change.”

Lincoln puts the letter back on the table and smiles.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
The Blairs are, as you know, strong,
tenacious men, having some peculiarities,
among them the energy with which
their feuds are carried on.

Yes, Montgomery says that when the Blairs
go in for a fight, they go in for a funeral.

Exactly, and they are building
an anti-slavery party in Missouri.
Frank has in some way permitted himself
to be put in a false position.
He is in danger of being kicked out
of the house built by himself.
You know that they contributed more
than any twenty men
to bring forward Fremont in 1856.
I know that they mainly induced me
to make him a major-general
and send him to Missouri.
Frank called on me and said he wished
to make a speech in the House
on the Mississippi trade regulations.
I told him that if he did the subject justice,
he would be doing a public service.
“But,” I said, “if you intend to make it
the occasion of pursuing a personal warfare,
you had better remain silent.”
His speech greatly annoyed me
because the trade relations
had been made by the cabinet.
When he assailed Mr. Chase
for the working of the machinery,
he did him an injustice.
Before making his second speech,
Frank again called at the White House.
He was leaving for the front and wanted
to resume his commission as a major-general.
So I sent to the War Department
and ordered that his resignation be cancelled.
He told me nothing about the farewell address
that he would make.
Within three hours I heard that
this speech had been made, and I knew that
another bee-hive was kicked over.
My first thought was to have cancelled
the order restoring him to the army
and assigning him to command.
Perhaps this would have been best.
On such reflection as I was able
to give the matter, however,
I concluded to let them stand.
If I was wrong in this,
the injury to the service can be set right.
And there you see how far I am responsible
for Frank Blair’s assaults on Mr. Chase.

Mr. President, spare us all further details.
We only ask your word.

Your word is the highest human evidence.

I can not see now, as I could not see then,
how the public service
could be advanced by his retirement.



Baltimore Sanitary Fair
April 18

Lincoln is making a speech to a large audience.

Ladies and gentlemen:
Calling to mind that we are in Baltimore,
we cannot fail to note that the world moves.
Looking upon these many people
assembled here to serve, as they best may,
the soldiers of the Union,
it occurs at once that three years ago
the same soldiers could not
so much as pass through Baltimore.
The change from then till now
is both great and gratifying.
Blessings on the brave men
who have wrought the change
and the fair women who strive
to reward them for it!

But Baltimore suggests more
than could happen within Baltimore.
The change within Baltimore is
part only of a far wider change.
When the war began three years ago,
neither party nor any man expected
it would last till now.
Each looked for the end
in some way long ere today.
Neither did any anticipate
that domestic slavery
would be much affected by the war.
But here we are; the war has not ended,
and slavery has been much affected—
how much needs not now to be recounted.
So true is it that
man proposes, and God disposes.
But we can see the past,
though we may not claim to have directed it;
and seeing it in this case
we feel more hopeful
and confident for the future.

The world has never had a good definition
of the word “liberty,”
and the American people just now
are much in want of one.
We all declare for liberty;
but in using the same word
we do not all mean the same thing.
With some the word “liberty” may mean
for each man to do as he pleases with himself
and the product of his labor;
while with others the same word may mean
for some men to do
as they please with other men
and the product of other men’s labor.
Here are two, not only different,
but incompatible things
called by the same name—liberty.
And it follows that each of the things is
by the respective parties called
by two different and incompatible names—
liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf
from the sheep’s throat,
for which the sheep
thanks the shepherd as a liberator,
while the wolf denounces him
for the same act as the destroyer of liberty,
especially as the sheep was a black one.
Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed
upon a definition of the word liberty;
and precisely the same difference prevails today
among us human creatures, even in the North,
and all professing to love liberty.
Hence we behold the processes by which
thousands are daily passing
from under the yoke of bondage,
hailed by some as the advance of liberty
and bewailed by others
as the destruction of all liberty.
Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland
have been doing something to define liberty;
and thanks to them in what they have done
the wolf’s dictionary has been repudiated.

It is not very becoming for one in my position
to make speeches at great length;
but there is another subject upon which
I feel that I ought to say a word.
A painful rumor, true I fear, has reached us
of the massacre by the rebel forces
at Fort Pillow in the West end of Tennessee
on the Mississippi river
of some three hundred colored soldiers
and white officers,
who had just been overpowered
by their assailants.
There seems to be some anxiety
in the public mind
whether the government is doing it’s duty
to the colored soldier
and to the service at this point.
At the beginning of the war and for some time
the use of colored troops was not contemplated;
and how the change of purpose was wrought,
I will not now take time to explain.
Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved
to turn that element of strength to account;
and I am responsible for it
to the American people,
to the Christian world, to history,
and on my final account to God.
Having determined to use
the Negro as a soldier,
there is no way but to give him
all the protection given to any other soldier.
The difficulty is not in stating the principle
but in practically applying it.
It is a mistake to suppose
the government is indifferent to this matter
or is not doing the best it can in regard to it.
We do not today know that a colored soldier
or white officer commanding colored soldiers
has been massacred by the rebels
when made a prisoner.
We fear it, believe it, I may say,
but we do not know it.
To take the life of one of their prisoners
on the assumption that they murder ours
when it is short of certainty
that they do murder ours,
might be too serious, too cruel a mistake.
We are having the Fort Pillow affair
thoroughly investigated;
and such investigation will probably
show conclusively how the truth is.
If, after all that has been said,
it shall turn out that
there has been no massacre at Fort Pillow,
it will be almost safe to say
there has been none
and will be none elsewhere.
If there has been the massacre
of three hundred there,
or even the tenth part of three hundred,
it will be conclusively proved;
and being so proved,
the retribution shall as surely come.
It will be matter of grave consideration
in what exact course to apply the retribution;
but in the supposed case, it must come.



May 7

Lincoln is meeting with CHARLES DANA, the Assistant Secretary of War.

Grant has been fighting
in the Wilderness for two days,
and we are not getting any authentic accounts
of what has happened since he moved.
Stanton and I are very much troubled,
and we have decided to send you down there.
How soon can you start?

I will be ready in half an hour and will get off
just as soon as a train and escort
can be got ready at Alexandria.


Dana is ready to travel and comes into the office.

You sent for me, sir?

Well, Dana, since you went away,
I have been feeling very unhappy about this.
I don’t like to send you down there.
You can’t tell just where Lee is
or what he is doing,
and Jeb Stuart is rampaging around pretty lively
in between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan.
It’s a considerable risk,
and I don’t like to expose you
to the danger you will have to meet
before you can reach Grant.

Mr. Lincoln, I have got a first-rate horse,
and twenty cavalrymen are ready at Alexandria.
If we meet a small force of Stuart’s people,
we can fight;
and if they are too many,
they will have to have
mighty good horses to catch us.

But you are not concerned about it at all?

No, sir.
Don’t feel any hesitation on my account.
Besides, it’s getting late,
and I want to get down
to the Rappahannock by daylight.

All right. If you feel that way,
I won’t keep you any longer.
Good night, and goodbye.


Lincoln and Mary are sitting and talking.

I received a wire from General Grant today
that our army lost 32,000 men in the last week.

He is a butcher
and is not fit to be at the head of an army.


During an intermission Lincoln in his box is talking with COL. JAMES GRANT WILSON.

Did I ever tell you
the story of Grant at the circus?

No, Mr. President,
I’m sorry to say you never did.

When Grant was a boy, he went to the circus.
The ringmaster offered a silver dollar to anyone
who could ride an ill-tempered mule
once around the ring without being thrown off.
Several men tried and failed.
Grant piped up that he would like to try.
He got nearly around before he was thrown.
He picked himself up
and said he would try again.
This time he sat facing the rear of the mule
and grabbed ahold of its tail, baffling the mule.
Grant managed to prod that mule
into circling the ring
and collected the silver dollar.
Just so, Grant will hold on to Bobby Lee.


Lincoln and Mary are visiting the wounded. A well-dressed woman ahead of them is giving out pamphlets. A WOUNDED SOLDIER lifts up one to read the title and starts laughing. Lincoln approaches him.

My good fellow,
that lady doubtless means you well,
and it is hardly fair
for you to laugh at her gift.

Well, Mr. President,
how can I help laughing?
She has given me a tract on
“The Sin of Dancing,”
and both of my legs are shot off.



June 8

Lincoln is talking with his assistant secretary John Hay.

Sir, I received a letter from Nicolay, who is
at the Republican convention in Baltimore.
He wants to know
whom you approve for Vice President.
In addition to Vice President Hamlin,
the main candidates are
Andrew Johnson of Tennessee
and Daniel Dickinson of New York.
Nicolay wrote,
“Cook wants to know confidentially
whether Swett is all right;
whether in urging Holt for Vice President
he reflects the President’s wishes;
whether the President has any preference,
either personal or on the score of policy;
or whether he wishes not even to interfere
by a confidential intimation.
Please get this information for me, if possible.”

Hay hands the letter to Lincoln, who takes it and writes on the back as he says what he is writing.

“Swett is unquestionably all right.
Mr. Holt is a good man,
but I had not heard or thought of him for V. P.
Wish not to interfere about V. P.
Can not interfere about platform.
Convention must judge for itself.”
That is my response.

Lincoln hands the letter back to Hay.



June 9

A committee led by GOVERNOR WILLIAM DENNISON is calling on President Lincoln.

I need not say to you, sir,
that the Convention in thus
unanimously nominating you for reelection
but gave utterance to the almost universal voice
of the loyal people of the country.
To doubt of your triumphant election
would be little short of abandoning the hope
of the final suppression of the rebellion
and the restoration of the authority
of the Government over the insurgent states.

I will neither conceal my gratification
nor restrain the expression of my gratitude
that the Union people,
through their Convention
in the continued effort to save
and advance the nation,
have deemed me not unworthy
to remain in my present position.
I know no reason to doubt that
I shall accept the nomination tendered;
and yet perhaps I should not declare definitely
before reading and considering
what is called the platform.
I will say now, however,
I approve the declaration in favor of
so amending the Constitution
as to prohibit slavery throughout the nation.
When the people in revolt,
with a hundred days of explicit notice
that they could within those days
resume their allegiance
without the overthrow of their institutions,
and they could not resume it afterwards,
elected to stand out,
such amendment to the Constitution
as is now proposed
became a fitting and necessary conclusion
to the final success of the Union cause.
Such alone can meet and cover all cavils.
Now the unconditional Union men,
North and South,
perceive its importance and embrace it.
In the joint names of Liberty and Union,
let us labor to give it legal form
and practical effect.

The convention in Baltimore decided to include
those Democrats who support the war,
and so we changed the Republican Party
to the National Union Party.

I am very grateful for the renewed confidence
which has been accorded to me
by the convention and by the National Union.
I am not insensible at all
to the personal compliment there is in this;
yet I do not allow myself to believe that
any but a small portion of it
is to be appropriated as a personal compliment.
The convention and the nation, I am assured,
are alike animated by a higher view
of the interests of the country
for the present and the great future,
and that part I am entitled to appropriate
as a compliment is only that part which
I may lay hold of as being
the opinion of the convention and of the League,
that I am not entirely unworthy to be instructed
with the place I have occupied
for the last three years.
I have not permitted myself, gentlemen,
to conclude that
I am the best man in the country;
but I am reminded, in this connection,
of a story of an old Dutch farmer,
who remarked to a companion once that
“it was not best to swap horses
when crossing streams.”


Lincoln is speaking to a group of serenaders from Ohio.

What we want, still more than
Baltimore conventions or Presidential elections
is success under General Grant.
I propose that you constantly bear in mind
that the support you owe
to the brave officers and soldiers in the field
is of the very first importance,
and we should therefore bend
all our energies to that point.
I propose that we give three cheers
for General Grant and the officers
and soldiers with him.

Lincoln takes off his hat and swings it three times as he and the crowd shout “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”



Philadelphia Sanitary Fair
June 16

Lincoln is making a speech to a large audience.

War at its best is terrible,
and this war of ours
in its magnitude and in its duration
is one of the most terrible.
It has 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 coincidences
have accompanied it from the very beginning
which have not been known
in any former wars in the history of the world.
The Sanitary Commission
and the Christian Commission
with all their benevolent labors
have contributed to the relief of the soldiers.
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.
In what is contributed to his comfort
when he passes to and fro
and when he 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—he is not forgotten.
The voluntary contributions,
given freely, zealously, and earnestly
on top of all the disturbances of business,
the taxation and burdens
that the war has imposed upon us,
give proof that the national resources
are not at all exhausted,
that the national spirit of patriotism
is even stronger than it was
at the commencement of the rebellion.
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 an interest
in this question as any other can;
but I do not wish to name
a day or month or year when it is to end.
I do not wish to run a 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 a worthy object,
and the war will end
when that object is attained.
Under God I hope it never will until that time.
Speaking of the present campaign,
General Grant is reported to have said,
“I am going through on this line
if it takes all summer.”
I have never been in the habit
of making predictions in regard to the war,
but I am almost tempted to make one.
If I were to hazard it, it is this:
That Grant and the brave officers and soldiers
with him are in a position
from whence he will never be dislodged
until Richmond is taken.
(Loud cheering)
I have but one proposition to put now,
and perhaps I can best put it
in the form of an interrogative.
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
of men and assistance,
will you give them to me?
(Cries of “Yes!”)
Then I say, stand ready,
for I am watching for the chance.
I thank you, gentlemen.

The audience applauds.



June 30

Lincoln is talking with Hay.

Mr. Chase has sent me his resignation.


He is still insisting that I appoint Mr. Field
to be assistant Secretary of the Treasury
in New York.
Senator Morgan does not accept Field
and has suggested three men for the job;
but Mr. Chase has refused all three of them.
This time Chase is insisting too much;
I would be abdicating
my constitutional powers to him.
It’s a big fish, and I cannot stand it any longer.
Therefore I am accepting his resignation.
I want you to notify the Senate
that Chase has resigned
and that I am nominating David Tod
to be his successor as Secretary of the Treasury.


Lincoln is talking with Hay.

Yesterday I was able to get to the Senate
your dispatch that
Mr. Tod has declined the appointment
before they voted on his nomination.

Early this morning I sent them the nomination
of Senator William Pitt Fessenden from Maine.

Mr. Fessenden is in the ante-room
waiting to see you now.

Start at once for the Senate
and then let Fessenden come in.

Hay takes some papers and goes out. WILLIAM PITT FESSENDEN comes in, shakes hands with Lincoln, and sits down.

Good morning, Mr. President.

Good morning, Senator.

In regard to the vacant place at the Treasury,
I suggest that you nominate Hugh McCulloch.
I think he has been doing a good job
as Comptroller of the Currency under Chase.
Hundreds of banks have been chartered,
and not one has failed yet.

Mr. Fessenden,
I have nominated you for that place.
Mr. Hay has just taken your name to the Senate.

Fessenden leaps to his feet.

You must withdraw it!
I cannot accept.

If you decline, you must do it in open day,
for I shall not recall the nomination.
You have been chairman of the Senate committee
on Finance and understand the issues.
You have a national reputation
and the confidence of the country.
I know there was a bitter contest
between you and Mr. Hamlin
for the vice presidential nomination;
but I think you will be easily confirmed
for Secretary of the Treasury.
This is a crisis that demands any sacrifice,
even life itself.
I believe my choosing you is a special proof
that providence will not desert me.

You are very persuasive, Mr. President.
If the country is in danger,
I am obliged to consider it.


Lincoln is talking with ZACHARIAH CHANDLER while the members of his cabinet at the table listen. Fessenden is now in the cabinet.

Mr. President,
do you plan to sign the Wade-Davis bill
that revises your reconstruction plan?

This bill was placed before me
a few moments before Congress adjourns.
It is a matter of too much importance
to be swallowed in that way.

If it is vetoed,
it will damage us fearfully in the Northwest.
The important point is that one
prohibiting slavery in the reconstructed states.

That is the point on which
I doubt the authority of Congress to act.

It is no more than you have done yourself.

I conceive that I may in an emergency
do things on military grounds
which cannot be done
constitutionally by Congress.

This is most regrettable.

Chandler goes out.

I do not see how any of us now can deny
and contradict what we have always said,
that Congress has no constitutional power
over slavery in the states.

I agree with that.
I have even had my doubts
as to the constitutional efficacy
of your own decree of emancipation
in such cases where it has not been carried
into effect by the actual advance of the Army.

This bill and the position of these gentlemen
seem to me to make the fatal admission
in asserting that the insurrectionary states
are no longer in the Union,
that states, whenever they please,
may of their own motion
dissolve their connection with the Union.
Now I am convinced
we cannot survive that admission.
If that be true, I am not President;
these gentlemen are not Congress.
I have laboriously endeavored
to avoid that question
ever since it first began to be mooted,
thus to avoid confusion and disturbance
in our own councils.
It was to obviate this question
that I earnestly favored the movement
for an amendment to the Constitution
abolishing slavery,
which passed the Senate
and failed in the House.
I thought it much better, if it were possible,
to restore the Union without the necessity
of a violent quarrel among its friends
as to whether certain states have been in
or out of the Union during the war—
a merely metaphysical question and one
unnecessary to be forced into discussion.

The threats made by the extreme Radicals
have no foundation,
and the people will not bolt their ticket
on a question of metaphysics.

If they choose to make a point upon this,
I do not doubt that they can do harm.
They have never been friendly to me.
At all events, I must keep some consciousness
of being somewhere near right.
I must keep some standard
or principle fixed within myself.
Therefore I shall not sign that bill,
and I shall draw up a proclamation
explaining why.

That is a pocket veto, then,
and it will not be popular in Congress.



Fort Stevens
July 12

During a battle Lincoln is standing among the soldiers and is watching the fighting. GENERAL HORATIO WRIGHT is concerned about the President’s safety. Nearby SURGEON CRAWFORD is shot in the ankle.

I am hit.

SOLDIERS immediately move to take him inside the building.

Mr. President,
you are exposed in this position.
Sharpshooters are aiming at us,
and I suggest that you take cover.
Also I think we need to shell those houses.

All right, but the capital is being threatened,
and I want to see what is happening.

An OFFICER, standing three feet from Lincoln, is hit by a bullet that kills him. Soldiers carry him off.

Mr. President, I must insist.
You are running a needless risk.
Do I have to order a guard to remove you?

LINCOLN (Laughing)
That would be a funny sight.
I will agree to sit behind this parapet.



July 14

Lincoln is meeting with his cabinet.

I received a note today from Mr. Stanton
asking me to consider removing
the Postmaster General from the cabinet
because of some remarks he made
concerning military officers
on duty about Washington
after his home was pillaged and burned.
I have drawn up a memorandum,
and I am now going to read it to you.
“I must myself be the judge,
how long to retain in
and when to remove any of you
from his position.
It would greatly pain me to discover any of you
endeavoring to procure another’s removal
or in any way to prejudice him
before the public.
Such endeavor would be a wrong to me
and much worse, a wrong to the country.
My wish is that on this subject
no remark be made nor question asked
by any of you here or elsewhere
now or hereafter.”
Now I would like to take up the question of
calling for another five hundred thousand men.

That call will mean a draft,
which will spoil your chances for re-election.

It matters not; we must have the men.
If I go down, I intend to go
like the Cumberland with my colors flying.


Lincoln is talking with his secretary, who is now Major John Hay.

Major Hay, I want you
to take this message to Niagara
and inform Mr. Greeley by telegraph
that you are on the way.
This document can be used to assist those
who may have a plan for negotiating a peace.
Please read it aloud and then memorize it.

“To whom it may concern:
Any proposition which embraces
the restoration of peace,
the integrity of the whole Union,
and the abandonment of slavery,
and which comes by and with an authority
that can control the armies
now at war against the United States,
will be received and considered by
the Executive Government of the United States,
and will be met by liberal terms
on other substantial and collateral points,
and the bearer or bearers thereof
shall have safe conduct both ways.
Abraham Lincoln”


Lincoln is talking with Welles.

General Grant is the most extraordinary man
in command that I know of.
I heard nothing direct from him
and wrote to know why
and whether I could do anything
to promote his success.
Grant replied that he had tried to do
the best he could with what he had;
that he believed that
if he had more men and arms,
he could use them to good advantage
and do more than he had done;
but he supposed I had done
and was doing all I could;
that if I could do more,
he felt that I would do it.


Lincoln and Marshall Lamon are locking the doors and sit down to talk.

You know I have always told you
I thought you an idiot that ought to be
put in a strait jacket for your apprehension
of my personal danger from assassination.
You also know that the way
we skulked into this city in the first place
has been a source of shame and regret to me,
for it did look cowardly.

Yes, go on.

Well, I don’t now propose
to make you my father-confessor
and acknowledge a change of heart;
yet I am free to admit that just now
I don’t know what to think:
I am so staggered.

Go on, go on.

Last night about eleven o’clock
I went out to the Soldiers’ Home alone
riding Old Abe, as you call him….



Lincoln is riding his horse at a leisurely pace toward the Soldiers’ Home. He hears a rifle shot, and his horse suddenly starts running fast. Lincoln’s hat is left behind.



Lincoln and Lamon are talking.

At a break-neck speed
we soon arrived in a haven of safety.
Meanwhile I was left in doubt whether
death was more desirable from
being thrown from a runaway federal horse
or as the tragic result of a rifle-ball
fired by a disloyal bushwhacker
in the middle of the night.
Now in the face of this testimony in favor of
your theory of danger to me personally
I can’t bring myself to believe that
anyone has shot or will deliberately shoot at me
with the purpose of killing me;
although I must acknowledge that
I heard this fellow’s bullet whistle
at an uncomfortably short distance
from these headquarters of mine.
I have concluded that the shot
was the result of accident.
I can truthfully say that one of the Abes
was frightened on this occasion,
but modesty forbids my mentioning which of us
is entitled to that distinguished honor.
This whole thing seems farcical.
Mr. Nichols from my bodyguard found my hat.

Lincoln shows the hat to Lamon.

There is a bullet-hole right through the crown!
Mr. President, this is serious.

No good can result at this time
from giving it publicity.
It does seem to me that I am in more danger
from the augmentation of imaginary peril
than from a judicious silence,
be the danger ever so great;
and moreover I do not want it understood
that I share your apprehensions.
I never have.
I am determined to borrow no trouble.
I believe in the right
and that it will ultimately prevail;
and I believe it is the inalienable right of men,
unimpaired even by
this dreadful distraction of our country,
to be happy or miserable at his own election,
and I for one make choice
of the former alternative.

Unless you are more careful and discreet,
in less than a week you’ll have neither
inalienable nor any other rights.
The time may not be far distant
when this republic will be
minus a pretty respectable President.
I must insist that you always travel
with a company of bodyguards from now on.

All right.



August 19

Lincoln is talking with FREDERICK DOUGLASS.

I am alarmed by the increasing
opposition to the war in the North.

I believe the mad cry against it is because
it is being made an abolition war.

I am concerned that a peace
might be forced upon me
which would leave still in slavery
all who have not come within our lines.
I want to make my proclamation as effective
as possible in the event of such a peace.
The slaves are not coming into our lines
as rapidly and numerously as I had hoped.
I would like to know what means can be used
to induce slaves in the rebel states
to come within the Federal lines.

The slaveholders know how
to keep such things from their slaves,
and probably very few of them
know of your proclamation.

I am troubled by the attitude of Mr. Greeley.
There is a growing impatience
at the war through the North.
Some are accusing me of failing to make peace
when I might have done so to advantage.
I am afraid of what might come
of all these complaints;
but I believe that no solid and lasting peace
could come short of absolute submission
on the part of the rebels.
I am not going to give them rest
by futile conferences at Niagara Falls
or elsewhere with unauthorized persons.
I see the danger of premature peace,
and I wish to provide means of rendering
such consummation as harmless as possible.
Well, I want you to set about devising
some means of making them acquainted with it
and for bringing them into our lines.
Would you be willing to undertake
the organizing of a band of scouts
composed of colored men,
whose business should be somewhat after
the original plan of John Brown,
to go into the rebel states
beyond the lines of our armies,
carry the news of emancipation,
and urge the slaves
to come within our boundaries?

I will confer with leaders in our community
to see what might be done.

Lincoln hands Douglass some papers. A MESSENGER comes into the room.

Mr. President,
Governor Buckingham from Connecticut
wishes to see you.

I can go out and wait, Mr. President.

Tell Governor Buckingham to wait,
for I want to have a long talk
with my friend, Frederick Douglass.

The Messenger goes out.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Three days ago Wisconsin’s former governor,
Alexander Randall, handed me
a letter from Charles Robinson,
the editor of a Democratic paper in Wisconsin.
He is a war Democrat and complained that
my Niagara letter committed
the country and me to an abolition war
rather than a war for the Union
so that even if the Union
could be obtained by negotiation,
the war would go on for abolition.
Please read my draft of a reply
and give me your opinion
as to whether or not I should send it.
I wish to relieve the fears of my peace friends
by showing that what they fear cannot happen
as it is wholly beyond my power.
Even if I would, I could not carry on
the war for the abolition of slavery.
The country would not sustain such a war,
and I could do nothing
without the support of Congress.
I could not make the abolition of slavery
an absolute prior condition
to the re-establishment of the Union.


Douglass has finished reading the letter.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Shall I send forth this letter?

Certainly not.
It would be given a broader meaning
than you intend to convey;
it would be taken as a complete surrender
of your anti-slavery policy
and do you serious damage.
In answer to your Copperhead accusers,
your friends can make the argument
of your want of power,
but you cannot wisely say a word
upon that point.

Douglass, I hate slavery as much as you do,
and I want to see it abolished altogether.


Lincoln is talking with THADDEUS STEVENS, SIMON CAMERON, and others from Pennsylvania.

In order that we in Pennsylvania
may be able to go to work with a good will,
I want you to make us one promise,
that you will reorganize your cabinet
and leave Montgomery Blair out of it.

Lincoln stands up and walks up and down the length of the office while he talks.

I am sorry, Mr. Stevens,
but I am compelled to deny your request.
Even if I were inclined to do that,
I would have no right to do so.
Has it come to this,
that the voters of this country are asked
to elect a man to be President—
to be Executive—
to administer the Government,
and yet that man is to have no will
or discretion of his own?
Am I to be the mere puppet of power?
To have my constitutional advisers
selected beforehand,
to be told I must do this or leave that undone?
It would be degrading to my manhood
to consent to any such bargain.
I was about to say it is equally degrading
to your manhood to ask it.
Yes, I desire to be re-elected,
and I have enough pride to wish
that my four years should be endorsed.
I believe I can serve better than any new man
in putting down the rebellion
and restoring peace
and prosperity to the country.
But I would have the courage
to refuse the office
rather than to accept on such disgraceful terms
as really not to be President after I am elected.


Lincoln is talking with the judge JOSEPH MILLS and A. W. RANDALL, the ex-governor of Wisconsin.

Mr. President, why can’t you seek seclusion
and play hermit for a fortnight?

Ah, two or three weeks would do me no good.
I cannot fly from my thoughts—
my solicitude for this great country
follows me wherever I go.
I do not think it is personal vanity or ambition,
though I am not free from these infirmities;
but I cannot but feel that
the weal or the woe of this great nation
will be decided in November.
There is no program offered
by any wing of the Democratic Party
but that must result in
the permanent destruction of the Union.

But, Mr. President,
General McClellan is in favor
of crushing out the rebellion by force.
He will be the Chicago candidate.

Sir, the slightest knowledge of arithmetic
will prove to any man that the rebel armies
cannot be destroyed by Democratic strategy.
It would sacrifice all the white men
of the North to do it.
There are now in the service of the United States
nearly 150,000 able-bodied colored men,
most of them under arms.
The Democratic strategy demands that
these forces be conciliated
by restoring them to slavery.
The black men who now
assist Union prisoners to escape
are to be converted into our enemies
in the vain hope of gaining
the good will of their masters.
We shall have to fight two nations
instead of one.
There have been men base enough
to propose to me to return to slavery
the black warriors of Port Huron and Oluster,
and thus win the respect
of the masters they fought.
Should I do so, I should deserve
to be damned in time and eternity.
Come what will,
I will keep my faith with friend and foe.
My enemies pretend
I am now carrying on this war
for the sole purpose of abolition.
So long as I am President, it shall be carried on
for the sole purpose of restoring the Union.
But no human power can subdue this rebellion
without the use of the emancipation policy
and every other policy calculated to weaken
the moral and physical forces of the rebellion.
Let my enemies prove to the country
that the destruction of slavery is not necessary
to a restoration of the Union.
I will abide the issue.


Lincoln is talking with a Boston Journal REPORTER.

I have faith in the people.
They will not consent to disunion.
The danger is in their being misled.
Let them know the truth,
and the country is safe.

You are wearing yourself out with work.

I can’t work less, but it isn’t that.
Work never troubled me.
Things look badly, and I can’t avoid anxiety.
Personally, I care nothing about a re-election,
but if our divisions defeat us,
I fear for the country.

But what is right must eventually triumph,
and I have never despaired of the result.

Neither have I, but I may never live to see it.
I feel a presentiment that
I shall not outlast the rebellion.
When it is over, my work will be done.

Lincoln walks with the reporter to the doorway of the Reception Room.

The enemies are human beings, are they not?
One cannot be completely remorseless,
even in war.
The line must be drawn somewhere.

An ELDERLY WOMAN in the Reception Room hears this and comments.

How can you speak kindly of your enemies
when you should destroy them?

What, Madam? Do I not destroy them
when I make them my friends?



September 23

Lincoln is talking with Hay.

Good morning, sir.
Have you heard the news that
General Fremont has withdrawn
his candidacy for President?

Yes, that is good news.
I guess Sherman taking Atlanta
took the wind out of his sails.

Is it true that
Postmaster General Blair has resigned?

Yes, I have accepted his resignation.

Has Dennison been appointed to succeed him?

I have telegraphed to him today—
have as yet received no answer.

What is Mr. Blair going to do?

He is going up to Maryland to make speeches.
If he will devote himself to the success
of the national cause without exhibiting
bad temper towards his oppressors,
he can set the Blair family up again.

Winter Davis is taking the stump also.
I doubt if his advocacy of you
will be hearty enough to be effective.

If he and the rest can succeed
in carrying the state for emancipation,
I shall be very willing to lose the electoral vote.


Montgomery Blair encounters Welles and Bates as they are coming out of the White House.

Ah, Mr. Welles and Mr. Bates.
I suppose you are both aware
that my head is decapitated.
I am no longer a member of the cabinet.


Blair takes out a letter and reads it.

The President has accepted my resignation.
He wrote me this letter.
“My dear sir. You have generously said to me
more than once that whenever
your resignation could be a relief to me,
it was at my disposal.
The time has come.
You very well know that this proceeds
from no dissatisfaction of mine
with you personally or officially.
Your uniform kindness has been unsurpassed
by that of any friend;
and, while it is true that
the war does not so greatly add
to the difficulties of your department,
as to those of some others,
it is yet much to say, as I most truly can,
that in the three years and a half during which
you have administered the General Post Office,
I remember no single complaint
against you in connection therewith.
Yours, A. Lincoln”
I have no doubt that I am
a peace offering to Fremont and his friends.

Although pacifying the partisans of Fremont
might have been a consideration,
I don’t think the President
would ever yield to that.
I think it is more likely an attempt
to restore balance to the cabinet
after Chase’s resignation.
I think the President is losing a true friend,
and I will miss you too.



October 19

Lincoln speaks from a balcony to a group of serenaders.

Friends and fellow citizens:
I am notified that this is a compliment
paid me by the loyal Marylanders,
resident in this District.
I infer that the adoption of the new constitution
for the state, furnishes the occasion;
and that, in your view,
the extirpation of slavery constitutes
the chief merit of the new constitution.
Most heartily do I congratulate you
and Maryland and the nation
and the world upon the event.
I regret that it did not occur two years sooner,
which I am sure would have saved
to the nation more money
than would have met
all the private loss incident to the measure.
But it has come at last, and I sincerely hope
its friends may fully realize
all their anticipations of good from it;
and that its opponents may, by its effects,
be agreeably and profitably, disappointed.

A word upon another subject.
Something said by the Secretary of State
in his recent speech at Auburn
has been construed by some into a threat that,
if I shall be beaten at the election,
I will, between then
and the end of my constitutional term,
do what I can to ruin the government.

Others regard the fact that
the Chicago Convention adjourned,
not sine die, but to meet again,
if called to do so by a particular individual,
as the intimation of a purpose
that if their nominee shall be elected,
he will at once seize control of the government.
I hope the good people will permit themselves
to suffer no uneasiness on either point.
I am struggling to maintain government,
not to overthrow it.
I am struggling especially to prevent
others from overthrowing it.
I therefore say, that if I shall live,
I shall remain President
until the fourth of next March;
and that whoever shall be constitutionally
elected therefore in November
shall be duly installed as President
on the fourth of March;
and that in the interval I shall do my utmost
that whoever is to hold the helm
for the next voyage shall start
with the best possible chance to save the ship.

This is due to the people
both on principle and under the Constitution.
Their will, constitutionally expressed,
is the ultimate law for all.
If they should deliberately resolve
to have immediate peace
even at the loss of their country and their liberty,
I know not the power or the right to resist them.
It is their own business,
and they must do as they please with their own.
I believe, however, they are still resolved
to preserve their country and their liberty;
and in this, in office or out of it,
I am resolved to stand by them.

I may add that in this purpose
to save the country and its liberties,
no classes of people seem so nearly unanimous
as the soldiers in the field
and the seamen afloat.
Do they not have the hardest of it?
Who should quail while they do not?
God bless the soldiers and seamen
with all their brave commanders.


Mary is talking with LIZZY KECKLY.

There are rumors about you and General Sickles
and now also about Abram Wakeman.
You have been criticized for associating
with a certain class of men.

I have an object in view, Lizabeth.
These men have influence,
and we require influence to re-elect Mr. Lincoln.
I will be clever to them until after the election,
and then, if we remain in the White House,
I will drop every one of them.

Is that not double-dealing?

Not with men who are
already an unprincipled set.

Does the President know
what your purpose is?

God, no!
He would never sanction such a proceeding;
so I keep him in the dark.
He is too honest
to take proper care of his interests;
so I feel it to be my duty
to electioneer for him.
Poor Mr. Lincoln,
he is almost a monomaniac
on the subject of honesty.

What are you going to do about your debts?
I have never heard of such bills.

I owe altogether about
twenty-seven thousand dollars.
Mr. Lincoln has but little idea
of the expense of a woman’s wardrobe.
He glances at my rich dresses
and is happy in the belief that
the few hundred dollars
that I obtain from him
supply all my wants.
I must dress in costly materials.
The people scrutinize every article
that I wear with critical curiosity.
The very fact of having grown up in the West
subjects me to more searching observation.
To keep up appearances I must have money—
more than Mr. Lincoln can spare for me.
He is too honest to make a penny
outside of his salary;
consequently I had, and still have,
no alternative but to run in debt.
The Republican politicians must pay my debts.
Hundreds of them are getting immensely rich
off the patronage of my husband,
and it is but fair that they would
help me out of my embarrassment.
If he is re-elected,
I can keep him in ignorance of my affairs;
but if he is defeated,
then the bills will be sent in,
and he will know all.
If he is defeated,
I don’t know what I shall do.

Mary sobs hysterically.



November 8

As Lincoln comes in, the TELEGRAPH OPERATOR hands him some dispatches and gives him the news.

John Forney claims a ten thousand
Union majority in Philadelphia.

Forney is a little excitable.

Mr. Fulton in Baltimore has wired a win
by fifteen thousand in the city
and five thousand in the state.

All hail, free Maryland!

We are getting a message now from Boston.
Samuel Hooper and A. H. Rice have won
by about four thousand each.

Is this not a clerical error for four hundred?

No, these are being confirmed.
You are winning a big victory, sir.

GENERAL THOMAS ECKERT comes in covered with mud.

I fell crossing the street.
It’s raining hard out there.

For such an awkward fellow,
I am pretty sure-footed.
When I wrestled, it used to take
a rather dexterous man to throw me.
I remember the evening in 1858
that decided the contest for the Senate
between Mr. Douglas and myself
was something like this—
dark, rainy, and gloomy.
From reading the returns I had ascertained
that we had lost the legislature
and started to go home.
The path had been worn hog-backed
and was slippery.
Both my feet slipped from under me,
but I recovered myself and lit clear;
and I said to myself,
“It is a slip, and not a fall.”

Henry Winter Davis has maliciously opposed
the Navy for two years for no cause,
and I am glad that
he is being effaced from Maryland politics.

You have more of that feeling
of personal resentment than I.
Perhaps I have too little of it;
but I never thought it paid.
A man has no time
to spend half his life in quarrels.
If any man ceases to attack me,
I never remember the past against him.


More returns have come in.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
It appears that General McClellan has won
only New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky.
If we hold on in New York,
it is an overwhelming victory.
I will send a messenger to Mrs. Lincoln.
She is more anxious than I.



November 10

Lincoln speaks from the balcony to serenaders. Hay holds a candle so that Lincoln can read his speech.

It has long been a grave question
whether any government,
not too strong for the liberties of its people,
can be strong enough to maintain
its own existence in great emergencies.
On this point the present rebellion
brought our republic to a severe test,
and a presidential election occurring
in regular course during the rebellion
added not a little to the strain.
If the loyal people, united, were put
to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion,
must they not fail when divided
and partially paralyzed
by a political war among themselves?
But the election was a necessity.
We can not have free government
without elections;
and if the rebellion could force us to forego
or postpone a national election,
it might fairly claim
to have already conquered and ruined us.
The strife of the election is but human nature
practically applied to the facts of the case.
What has occurred in this case
must ever recur in similar cases.
Human nature will not change.
In any future great national trial,
compared with the men of this,
we shall have as weak and as strong,
as silly and as wise, as bad and good.
Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this
as philosophy to learn wisdom from
and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

But the election along with its incidental
and undesirable strife has done good too.
It has demonstrated that a people’s government
can sustain a national election
in the midst of a great civil war.
Until now it has not been known to the world
that this was a possibility.
It shows also how sound
and how strong we still are.
It shows that
even among candidates of the same party,
he who is most devoted to the Union
and most opposed to treason
can receive most of the people’s votes.
It shows also to the extent yet known
that we have more men now
than we had when the war began.
Gold is good in its place;
but living, brave, patriotic men
are better than gold.

But the rebellion continues;
and now that the election is over,
may not all having a common interest
re-unite in a common effort
to save our common country?
For my own part I have striven and shall strive
to avoid placing any obstacle in the way.
So long as I have been here,
I have not willingly
planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.

While I am deeply sensible
to the high compliment of a re-election,
and duly grateful as I trust to almighty God
for having directed my countrymen
to a right conclusion,
as I think, for their own good,
it adds nothing to my satisfaction
that any other man may be disappointed
or pained by the result.
May I ask those who have not differed with me
to join with me in this same spirit
towards those who have?
And now let me close by asking three hearty cheers
for our brave soldiers and seamen
and their gallant and skilful commanders.

The crowd shouts, “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”

The end of Part 8

Copyright © 2008 by Sanderson Beck

Learning Politics and Law
In Congress and Out
Debating Douglas
Becoming President
Civil War Begins
Proclaiming Emancipation
War by Conscription
Getting Re-elected
Victory and Death

How Lincoln Could Have Prevented Civil War
Lincoln Bibliography
Lincoln Chronology

BECK index