Chapter 10

  1. Keckley, Behind the Scenes, 101.   Worth noting, too, is an error in the literature.   Albert Beveridge, in his Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, page 51n, cites a note from William Faux (a kind of early travelling sociologist) that in pioneer cabins, "[m]ale dress and undress before the females and nothing is thought of it."   It may have seemed so to Faux, but Alfred Kinsey discovered that not even flashes of nudity occur in such lower-level situations.   Rather, with their extraordinary sense of nudity lower-level individuals manage to "aquire a considerable knack of removing daytime clothing and putting on night clothing, without exposing any part of the body."   Kinsey, et. al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 367.

    From the text: “Lincoln commented with outright chagrin, ‘Whew, our cat has a long tale to-night…it is my opinion that if some of that tail were nearer the head, it would be a better style’.

    A slightly more complete quote from Keckley reads: "Her [Mrs Lincoln] dress was white satin, trimmed with black lace.   The trail was very long, and as she swept through the room, Mr. Lincoln was standing with his back to the fire, his hands behind him, and his eyes on the carpet.   His face wore a thoughtful, solemn look.   The rustling of the satin dress attracted his attention.   He looked at it a few moments; then, in his quaint, quite way remarked-

                    'Whew! our cat has a long tail tonight.'

                    Mrs. Lincoln did not reply.   The President added:

                    'Mother, it is my opinion, if some of that tail were nearer the head, it would be in better style;' and he glanced at her bare arms and neck.   She had a beautiful neck and arm, and low dresses were becoming to her.   She turned away with a look of offended dignity, and presently took the President's arm, and both went downstairs to their guests, leaving me alone with the sick boy."

  2. As reported, for instance, in Herndon and Weik's Herndon's Life of Lincoln, 274-75.   And by David Davis himself in Wilson and Davis, Herndon's Informants, page 350.   For especially loud spell-outs, see Michael Burlingame's chapter "Lincoln's Anger and Cruelty" in The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln, page 147f.

    From Herndon and Weik: "As he [Lincoln] reached that point in his speech wherein he narrated the hardened action of the defendant in fleecing the old woman of her pension his eyes flashed, and throwing aside his handkerchief, which he held in his right hand, he fairly launched into him.   His speech for the next five or ten minutes justified the declaration of Davis, that he was 'hurtful in denunciation and merciless in castigation.'   There was no rule of court to restrain him in his argument, and I never, either on the stump or on other occasions in court, saw him so wrought up."

    From Wilson and Davis, David Davis (WHH interview), Sept 20, 1866.

    "His analogy was great, his comparison.   When he believed his client was oppressed, such as the Wright case he was terrific in denunciation, had no mercy."

  3. Arnold, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, 416.

    “Personal abuse, injustice and indignity offered to himself did not disturb him, but gross injustice and bad faith towards others made him indignant, and when brought to his knowledge, his eyes would blaze with indignation, and [a] denunciation few could endure.”

    A slightly more complete quote reads: "He was a man of great evenness of temper, rarely excited to anger.   Personal abuse, injustice, and indignity did not disturb him, but gross injustice and bad faith towards others made him indignant, and when such were brought to his knowledge, his eyes would blaze with indignation, and his denunciation few could endure.   When someone dared to suggest to him that he might placate the rebel masters, and secure peace, by abandoning the freedmen, he exclaimed: 'Why, it would be an astounding breach of faith!   If I should do it, I ought to be damned in time and eternity.'   To this day, the South does not appreciate, nor does the world know, how much the Confederates were indebted to the humane, kind, almost divine spirit of Lincoln."

  4. N.M. Knapp to O.M. Hatch, n.p., May 12, 1859.

    “What he does & says is all his own. What Seward and others do you feel you have read in books or speeches, or that is a sort of deduction from what the world is full of. But what Lincoln does you feel to be something newly mined out—something above the ordinary. Don’t be surprised at any result in reference to him.”

  5. Herndon and Weik, Herndon's Life of Lincoln, 432.   Also Wilson and Davis, Herndon's Informants, 168. 

    “One great public mistake of his character as generally received and acquiesced in:--he is considered by the people of this country as a frank, guileless, unsophisticated man. There never was a greater mistake. Beneath a smooth surface of candor and an apparent declaration of all his thoughts and feelings, he exercised the most exalted tact and the wisest discrimination. He handled and moved man remotely as we do pieces upon a chessboard. He retained through life, all the friends he ever had, and he made the wrath of his enemies to praise him. This was not by cunning or intrigue in the low acceptation of the term, but by far seeing, reason and discernment. He always told enough only, of his plans and purposes, to induce the belief that he had communicated all; yet he reserved enough, in fact, to have communicated nothing. HE told all that was unimportant with a gushing frankness; yet no man ever kept his real purposes more closely, or penetrated the future further with his deep designs.”

    The full letter is in appendix 3 of the present volume.

    From Herndon and Weik:   "One great public mistake of his character, as generally received and acquiesced in, is that he is considered by the people of this country as a frank, guileless, and unsophisticated man.   There never was a greater mistake.   Beneath the smooth surface of candor and apparent declaration of all his thoughts and feelings, he exercised the most exalted tact and the wisest discrimination.   He handled and moved men remotely as we do pieces upon a chess board.   He retained through life all the friends he ever had, and he made the wrath of his enemies to praise him.   This was not by cunning or intrigue, in the low acceptation of the term, but by far seeing reason and discernment.   He always told enough only of his plans and purposes to induce the belief that he had communicated all, yet he reserved enough to have communicated nothing.   He told all that was unimportant with a gushing frankness, yet no man ever kept his real purpose closer, or penetrated the future further with his deep designs."

  6. Lincoln's victory "had been a rankling disappointment" to Seward, Chase, Cameron, and Bates.   And as Margaret Leech further noted, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles "was unique among the Cabinet members [in that] he did not think himself a better man than the President."   Leech, Reville in Washington, 40.

    From the text: “The entire situation was instantly revamped by Lincoln’s immediately asking each loser (Chase, Seward, Cameron and Bates) to come join him in his cabinet. All did so, though in the case of Chase, with jealousy and hurt feelings still a boil.”

    From Leech, Revile in Washington, 40: "Welles had been a newspaper man in Hartford, and did not know the stem from the stern of a ship, but he was an industrious and capable administrator.   He was also very irritable, and those who undervalued him did not know that, with a pen dipped in gall, he kept a diary.   In one respect, Welles was unique among the Cabinet members-he did not think himself a better man than the President."

  7. Lincoln's handling of this entire Chase and Seward conflict, which is pivotal for still other reasons yet to be examined, has been described in three biographies, each with slightly different details: (I) Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4, 253-72 (the quotations in this paragraph are from Nicolay and Hay, 268, 271); (2) Thomas, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, 350-55; (3) Donald, Lincoln, 377-406.

    “When the cabinet had retired, and the President remained with the resignation of Mr. Chase in his hands,” he spoke with his friend, Senator Harris, who had just entered the room, of how as a boy he had found a way to carry pumpkins on horseback. Using this analogy he told Harris, “Now I can ride; I have got a pumpkin in each end of my bag.”

  8. Nicolay, Personal Traits of Abraham Lincoln, 242.

    “I do not see how it could have been done better. I am sure it was right. If I had yielded to that storm and dismissed Seward the thing would all have slumped over one way, and we should have been left with a scanty handful of supporters. When Chase gave in his resignation I saw that the game was in my hands, and I put it through.”

  9. Nicolay and Hay, vol. 4, 270-271.

    “The untrained diplomatist of Illinois had thus met and conjured away, with unsurpassed courage and skill, one of the severest crises that had ever threatened the integrity of his Administration, [and it] left the President seated more firmly than ever in the saddle.”

                   

     

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