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Page [unnumbered] AtA*4L LINCOLuNr SOCIATION OFFICERS zRG W BNo R., Psident BENJAMIN P. THOMAs, Treas rer f E H~uMPizY, 'ice President PAUL M. ANGLE, Vice President Ro' P. BASLER, Executive Secretary DIRECTORS JýMrs Wt BOLLINGER HENRY A. CONVERSE RALPH G. LINDsTRoM F L. U ButLAR PAScAL ENos HATCH H M. MERRIAM A'iczEE. BUNN Lucy BOWEN HAY CHARLEs L. PATrON GEORG W. BUNN, J" EDGAR DEZWITT JONES JAMES G. RANDALL Jp*AUL CLAYTON MARY. E. HUMPHREY BENJAMIN P. THOMAS W. H. TOWNSEND HE ABRAHAM ZNCOL~LN ASSOCIATION is a not-forprofit corporation which has as its principal purpose the collection and dissemination of iipfomation regarding all phases of the life of Abraham Lincoln. The Association is supported principally by the dues of its members, which are five dollars ahnnuily for junior members and library members, and ten dollars annually for sustaining members. Three dollars of thitnnual dues pays for a subscription to The Abraham Lincoln Q4arterly. All members receive iaddition to the Quarterly an anzal volumee on some phase of Lincolhs life. Titles of books already published will be furnished on request. THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY Vol. VI, September, 1-5 * No. 3 T 4 A brha Lincoln Quarterly is published four times a year, in March, Jun.Septeruber and December, First NationaliBank Building, Spnfe1, Iliois. Subscription price $3oo nnually. regar to contributionsl to the Quarterly sould be addressed to the kditor, -764 Fir iNat'Iol Batik Buildi41g, Sprng
Page [unnumbered] THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY VOL. VI" SEPTEMBER, 1950 - No. 3 Editor Roy P. BASLER Associate Editors G. W. BUNN, JR. BENJAMIN P. THOMAS COPYRIGHT 1950 BY THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSOCIATION
Page [unnumbered] Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Library QJnmeon Staneli /796-1872 Editor of the Illinois State Journol
Page 139 THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY VOL. VI 4 SEPTEMBER, 150No. 3 "Too Pitchy to Touch" - President Lincoln and Editor Bennett By DAVID QUENTIN VoIGT A sEDITOR Of the powerful New York Herald James Gordon Bennett was one of the most forceful personalities in America during the thirty year period from 1840 to 1 870. Blessed with an almost uncanny nose for news, the crafty, dynamic Bennett seemed capable of doing almost anything with a newspaper, and during most of this period the Herald had more readers than any other paper in the country.' Bennett's Herald was at the crest of its popularity when the American Civil War broke out. But in spite of all his successes as an editor, James Gordon Bennett seems to have lived a lonely, bitter life. His climb to the top had left him with -many enemies-indeed during the period of the early 1 840's all the major newspapers in New York City, and quite a few outside had waged a long "~moral war" against Bennett's Herald, hoping to blast the 'Frank L. Mott, American journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United States through 250 Years 1690 to 1940 (New York, 1947)' P. 230. 139
Page 140 140 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY cross-eyed Scotchman out of existence as an editor. In his long career, Bennett's suffering at the hands of politicians led him to proclaim that the Herald would forever shun party politics and play the role of an "armed neutral" in all political contests. Bennett stuck to this vow, and although he supported certain political figures of his time, he was never devoted to any politician or cause. Throughout the years leading to the Civil War, Bennett persisted in his devious editorial policy toward the politicos of his time. When Abraham Lincoln began to emerge as a leader in the new Republican party, Bennett greeted him with contempt. For a long time the old editor would not even mention Lincoln in his columns, and when Lincoln came to New York to deliver his famous Cooper Institute address in February, 1860, the Herald gave him left-handed editorial comment2 and later accused him of having accepted money for this speech. Disturbed by the Herald's accusation, Lincoln explained the whole story in a letter to his friend C. F. McNeil. A check for $200oo had come as an unexpected and unasked for reward. Lincoln counseled his friend to say nothing of the matter in the hope that the Herald would soon tire of bringing it up.8 But Bennett was not easily silenced. When in May, 1i86o, the Republicans met in Chicago and nominated Lincoln for the presidency, the Herald editor derided the new party for choosing a "fourth-class lecturer who couldn't even speak good grammar" when men like Seward, Chase, and Banks were available.4 During the bitter election campaign that followed, Ben2 Oliver Carlson, The Man Who Made News: James Gordon Bennett (New York, 1942), pp. 296-297. 8Abraham Lincoln to C. F. McNeil, Springfield, April 6, 1860, John G. Nicolay and John Hay, eds., Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (New York, 1905), VI, 8-9. ' Carlson, op. cit., pp. 299-300.
Page 141 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 141 nett launched barbed editorials at Lincoln. At the same time, however, he allowed his correspondents covering the movements of the candidates to tell their stories as they saw them so that Herald writers such as Henry Villard turned in reports directly contrary to the vicious editorials of Bennett.5 Naturally, the Republicans coveted Bennett's support, and quite early in the campaign Joseph Medill, editor of the Chicago Tribune wrote to his friend Lincoln of a plan to muzzle or at least "neutralize" the Herald:6 I Start to N Y to night on a little business that may or may not result in benefit to our cause. A fortnight ago we opened correspondence with a reliable discreet, influential Republican in New York City suggesting to him to Sound Bennett of the Herald, and if he found him open to conviction to ascertain his terms. He has seen B. and finds him not unwilling to "dicker," terms moderate, and, "no cure no pay."... I'll have a preliminary interview with his "Satanic Majesty," before [Norman Buel] Judd arrives, and ascertain his State of mind.... We deem it highly important to spike that gun; his affirmative help is not of great consequence, but he is powerful for mischief. He can do us much harm if hostile. If neutralized a point is gained. We think his terms will not be immoderate. He is too rich to want money. Social position we suspect is what he wants. He wants to be in a position to be invited with his wife and son to dinner or tea at the White house, occasionaly [sic], and to be "made of," by the big men of the party. I think we can afford to agree to that much. It is not only the damage he can do us in the canvas in the close Eastern States, but the blows he can inflict on a Republican Administration during all its term. Continuing, Medill spoke in respectful terms of the universal influence of the Herald. From a talk with one of Bennett's editors, Medill believed Bennett might be won over; 6 Ibid., pp. 300-302. For a complete account of Villard's friendly attitude toward Lincoln, see Harold Garrison and Oswald G. Villard, eds., Lincoln On The Eve Of '61: A Journalist's Story by Henry Villard (New York, 1941). 6 Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln, Chicago, June 19, 1860, David C. Mearns, ed., The Lincoln Papers (New York, 1948), I, 261-262.
Page 142 142 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY from another source he learned that Bennett had often spoken highly of Lincoln, even conceding that he was "the strongest man Reps could have nominated." Bennett was undecided as to which candidate to support in the coming election and Medill's secret informer believed his support could be won for Lincoln. But if Bennett allowed his reporters to write favorably of Lincoln, if they chose to, he continued to be personally hostile until election day, when the Herald published almost two full pages of editorials urging the defeat of Lincoln and his sectional party and calling on the people of every class to vote for either Bell, Douglas, or Breckinridge, all of whom he considered to be Union men.7 When the news of Lincoln's election arrived, Bennett, sorrowfully urged the citizens to "settle down to their occupations and to discharge the duty which they owe to their families." 8 Until the actual outbreak of the Civil War, Bennett continued to attack Lincoln and to support the Southern cause. But with the fall of Sumter, he turned a quick about face. On April 14, an angry mob gathered about the Herald office and demanded that Bennett show his colors. According to Horace Greeley's Tribune, the mob dispersed only when the humiliated Bennett ran up the American flag and bowed beneath it to the crowd.9 Soon after this, Bennett dispatched the youthful Henry Villard to inform Lincoln that the Herald "would hereafter be unconditionally for the radical suppression of the Rebellion by force of arms." Lincoln could count on the support of the Herald in any "war measures." In addition, Mr. Bennett was pleased to present to Secretary of the Treasury Chase his son's famous sailing yacht, the Henrietta for use 7New York Herald, Nov. 6, 186o. 8 Allan Nevins, The Evening Post: A Century of Journalism (New York, 1922), p. 268. SCarlson, op. cit., pp. 314-315.
Page 143 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 143 in the revenue service, provided Lincoln would appoint young Bennett to a lieutenancy in that service.10 Meanwhile, Lincoln, realizing the importance of having Bennett on his side, had made overtures of his own by persuading Thurlow Weed, an Albany newspaper editor, and one of the most influential politicians in the Republican party, to confer with Bennett. Although he and Bennett were enemies, Weed accepted the mission and spent a pleasant evening conferring with the Herald editor. He returned to Lincoln fully convinced that he had won Bennett over, although the mob attack on the Herald office may have played a more important role. At any rate, on April 2o, one week after the fall of Sumter, the Herald pledged editorial allegiance to Lincoln's cause in typical Bennett fashion: 1 We now perceive that President Lincoln is right in treating this grand conspiracy and its developments as a gigantic insurrection, and in exercising his constitutional powers to suppress it as an insurrection. Thus relieved of the thankless office of a peacemaker, this journal is free to undertake the unqualified duty of sustaining the cause of the government and of the Union by force of arms. Three weeks later, on May 6, Lincoln requested Chase to accept young Bennett's offer of the yacht Henrietta, and soon thereafter young Bennett was commissioned a third lieutenant in the revenue service. Both Bennett and Henrietta remained in the service for a year.12 Thus Bennett and the Herald joined forces with the administration and the cause of the Union. Although no more editorial attacks were leveled at Lincoln himself, the "alli10 Henry Villard, Memoirs of Henry Villard, Journalist and Financier, 1835-1900oo (Boston, 1904), I, 162-163. 1 Herald, April 20, 1861. 12Paul M. Angle, ed., New Letters and Papers of Lincoln (Cambridge, 1930), pp. 272-273.
Page 144 144 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY ance" left much to be desired. Cabinet members and generals took editorial beatings in the Herald and Lincoln, too, was held up to ridicule through the activities of the self-styled "Chevalier" Wikoff, a Washington social spy for the Herald.'3 Bennett's alliance with Lincoln, such as it was, lasted throughout the remainder of 1861 and 1862. Towards the end of the latter year, however, there were signs that the connection was wearing thin and that the Herald editor would oppose any policy of emancipation. In April, 1862, when Lincoln signed a bill calling for gradual, compensated emancipation in the border states, Bennett approved, but at the same time bitterly predicted that the emancipationists would use this concession to pry more anti-slavery resolutions from Lincoln.'4 In September, answering the insistent demands of the abolitionists, Bennett ironically adjured Lincoln to put an end to slavery everywhere in the world: 1 Let the President, then, issue a universal proclamation of freedom to all the slaves of every nation, province and tribe on the face of the globe, including especially the slaves of the African King of Dahomey. That black rascal is, in truth, a most atrocious slaveholder. He not only takes the lives of his prisoners and subjects at his discretion, but on grand occasions he roasts them, stews them and eats them, and without salt.... we submit that, if a proclamation of freedom shall be agreed upon, it ought to embrace all the slaveholding nations and tribes on the globe, and especially that model African kingdom of Dahomey. But when Lincoln came out with his final Emancipation Proclamation on New Year's Day, 1863, Bennett's humor turned to bile. "We consider this pronunciamento unnecesWikoff succeeded in working his way into Mrs. Lincoln's confidence and used his influence to supply the Herald with gossip and at times, important scoops. See, Margaret Leech, Reveille in Washington, 1860-1865 (New York, 1941), pp. 290 -300oo. 4 Herald, April 4, 1862. '5Ibid., September 6, 1862.
Page 145 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 145 sary, unwise and ill-timed, impracticable outside of the constitution and full of mischief," roared the Herald's lead editorial as Bennett predicted that the Proclamation would unite all the whites of the Confederacy more closely than ever before. He further declared that it was also futile as a war measure so long as the Union armies and fleets were held at bay by the South.16 A year later Bennett accused Lincoln of abolitionism, a charge he had frequently levelled against his rival, "Massa Greeley." Despite his dislike of Lincoln's cabinet and his opposition to emancipation and notwithstanding the activities of social spy "Chevalier" Wikoff, Bennett's relations with the president remained cordial throughout the first two and a half years of the war. Bennett even seemed to be developing a kind of affection for the president; once he wrote Lincoln praising him highly as the only man in the country who enjoyed the confidence of the people. "You can exercise more control over public opinion than half a dozen of cabinets or a whole bevy of generals. They believe that of all the government, you alone have a single purpose for the good of the republic." But such praise from Bennett required some form of return; in a postscript the Herald editor hoped Lincoln might be able to do a favor for the bearer of the letter, one of Bennett's friends.17 Late in the year 1863 Bennett took up his pen again to warn Lincoln about his cabinet, and of the necessity of the president's conducting any peace negotiations with the South on his own. As a concluding offer of loyalty Bennett promised to help raise the 300,000 fresh troops needed by the president.18 Such an offer was typical, for while Bennett always felt free to criticize cabinet members, generals, and "I Ibid., January 3, 1863. " Bennett to Lincoln, New York, August 11, 1862. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, The Library of Congress. " Bennett to Lincoln, New York, October 26, 1863. Ibid.
Page 146 146 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY Lincoln, himself, he never wavered in his loyalty to the Union cause. Lincoln, on his part, continued to appreciate the influence of Bennett's paper. "It is important to humor the Herald," he stated in a memorandum written in February, 1 863.'9 But the course of Lincoln's relations with the Herald led over a rocky road; as the year 1863 ran its course, it became increasingly evident that such a friendship could not last much longer. General Grant was winning victories for the Union in the West, and Bennett saw in the rising Illinois general the candidate to oppose President Lincoln in the forthcoming election. Headlining Grant as the "People's Candidate," a Herald editorial declared: 20 Of all men, in this view, General Grant is the man for the occasion.... And the best of it is that General Grant, of all men, has the most modest opinion of his services. He is, perhaps, in every respect, the most unpretending man in the army. So little has he had to do with politics that no other man can say positively what are his opinions on the parties and party questions of the day. All that we know is that his antecedents are democratic, and that his views and inclinations are sufficiently conservative movement for the Presidency. Let the independent masses of the people, therefore, who have cut themselves loose from the machinery of the corrupt and dismantled political parties of the day, take this Presidential business into their own hands, and bring General Grant at once into the field.... That was the beginning; the next day saw the opening salvo of an all out bombardment denouncing Lincoln and extolling Grant. Summing up "The Crisis of the CountryWho is to be Our Next President," Bennett pronounced: 21 19'Ibid. It is not certain in what connection Lincoln used this memorandum, but its tone is sufficient to judge his attitude. 20 December 15, 1863. m Ibid., December 06, 1865.
Page 147 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 147 His administration has proved a failure, including his official advisers, his measures of legislation, and his conduct of the war. His Cabinet, discordant and incompetent, has been a failure from the beginning. Seward has proved to be only a romantic dreamer, Chase a bold and dangerous financial experimentalist, Stanton a mad bull in a china shop, and Welles a veritable Rip Van Winkle sleeping at his post. As for Blair, Bates, and Usher, they may be passed over as of little account one way or the other. Of all the members of the administration... the President himself is the individual most directly responsible for our military failures. Constituting himself the promoter of Grant's interests, Bennett invited all interested citizens to come to the Herald office to sign a paper calling for a nomination meeting to be held in New York. A filler article beneath this announcement labeled Grant "The man who knows how to tan leather, politicians and the hides of rebels." 22 From December, 1863, until March, 1864, the Herald devoted much of its editorial space to plugging Grant for the presidency. Lincoln, his cabinet and generals were under constant bombardment as editorials denounced the "Unparalleled Corruption of the Administration." According to the Herald, gross dishonesty skulked through the War, Navy, and Treasury Departments; even the State Department which had very little to do with jobs and contracts "was guilty of corruption." Bennett promised that "In General Grant we shall have a President who will suppress political corruption, as he has suppressed the fraudulent sutlers in his army, and who will restore the government to its ancient purity, power and respect." 23 There was, however, one important weapon missing from the Herald's arsenal. Throughout the paper's campaign for his candidacy, General Grant showed no desire to play the 22 Ibid., December 16, 1863. 2 Ibid., January 14, 1864.
Page 148 148 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY role that Bennett offered him. The subject did not even find its way into Grant's Personal Memoirs. The possibility of the General's candidacy seemed of sufficient consequence to Lincoln, however, that he supposedly sent a friend of Grant's from the latter's hometown of Galena, Illinois, a certain J. Russell Jones, to visit the general and report on his attitude. Jones informed Lincoln that Grant was interested in neither politics nor the presidency.24 Lincoln's two secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, were convinced that the president had no fear of Grant. According to their version, when Lincoln's friends told him to beware of Grant, His usual reply was: "If he takes Richmond, let him have it." In reality, General Grant was never at any time a competitor for the nomination. Of course, after the battle of Missionary Ridge there was no lack of suggestions on the part of those who surrounded the victorious general, but he positively refused to, put himself in the lists or to give any sanction to the use of his name.2 Grant's private correspondence verifies the fact that he was not a candidate. "I am not a candidate for any office," he said in a letter to his father on February 2o, 1864. "All I want is to be left alone to fight this war out.... I know that I feel that nothing personal to myself could ever induce me to accept a political office." A month before the general had written to his friend, Isaac W. Morris: "In your letter you 24XWilliam E. 'Woodward, Meet General Grant (New York, 1928), PP. 307-308. For a more detailed account of Jones's part in this episode see Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (New York, 1939)' IL, 537-538. According to Sandburg, Lincoln wired J. Russell Jones to come to Washington. The latter arrived bringing one of his own letters from Grant in which the general confided that he was in the habit of throwing anything on the subject of politics into the waste-basket. Lincoln was overjoyed at reading this and exulted, "My son, [Jones] you will never know how gratifying that is to me. No man knows, when that presidential grub gets to gnawing at him.. and I didn't know but what there was one gnawing at Grant." wJohn G. Nicolay and John Hay, A braham Lincoln: A History (New York, 1890), IX, 58-59.
Page 149 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 149 say that I have it in my power to be the next President. This is the last thing in the world I desire. I would regard such a consummation as highly unfortunate for myself, if not for the country." Letters such as these, may have been shown to Lincoln, and if so, they convinced the president that Grant was a serious, fighting soldier and not a political general.26 Although given no encouragement by Grant, Bennett obstinately continued to proclaim the general as his candidate. He also kept up his attacks on Lincoln, one Herald editorial on "President Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief-His Military Incapacity," placing the blame for all the Union defeats squarely upon the President: 27 The responsibility lies with President Lincoln for all these misfortunes and failures, from the final Bull run down to the escape of the rebel army across the Potomac. Without education or practical service as a soldier, his experience with the Army of the Potomac has proved that he is equally deficient in the natural qualities of mind essential to the successful military leader. No braver army ever took the field than our heroic and self sacrificing Army of the Potomac; yet how different the net results of its arduous and bloody campaigns, under the management of President Lincoln, compared with the results of Grant's campaigns in the West. The Army of the Potomac stands to-day only some forty miles beyond Bull run, while General Grant has overrun and reconquered an empire. We contend that the man who has subjugated the rebellion in the West is the man to take the place of President Lincoln.... Such attacks continued until March, 1864, when Lincoln nominated Grant for the rank of Lieutenant General. Grant was now the commander of all the Union armies; his job was to continue the war to final victory. Bennett admitted that by elevating Grant to this new military post, the administration had succeeded in putting him "on the shelf" as far as 0 Franklin S. Edmonds, Ulysses S. Grant (Ellis P. Oberholtzer, ed., American Crisis Biographies, Philadelphia, 1915), pp. 212-213. 27Herald, January 21, 1864.
Page 150 150 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY the presidency was concerned.2 A few days later the Herald expressed the hope that Grant in his new capacity would be allowed to formulate and carry out his own plans for finishing the war without any meddling from the administration or the radical politicians.21 Bennett never completely abandoned Grant as his candidate, however, and even urged the general's nomination on an independent ticket. As time for the Republican nominating convention drew near, Bennett renewed his attacks on the administration, and when news of the president's renomination came through in June, the frustrated editor became more bitter than ever. All during June the barrage kept up, while in other columns Bennett lectured the Democrats, who were first scheduled to hold their convention at Chicago on the fourth of July. The Herald told of the marvelous opportunity the Democrats had to win the presidency by naming a strong military chief capable of capturing the people's imagination. Realizing that the northern Democrats were split into a war faction and a peace faction, Bennett urged the war faction to grab the upper hand and to name a strong general at Chicago.-30 A few days afterwards Bennett suggested that the man for the Democrats was General McClellan, whom he compared with Pericles of Ancient Greece as a soldier and orator. 31 Meanwhile in Washington certain members and friends of the administration became concerned about McClellan's candidacy. About the middle of July, Francis P. Blair, Sr., the father of Montgomery Blair, Lincoln's Postmaster General, after trying unsuccessfully to persuade McClellan to '8 Ibid., March 5, 1864. "~Ibid., March io, 1864. 80 Ibid., June 17, 1864. ft Ibid., June 25, 1864.
Page 151 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 151 refuse the Democratic nomination,32 dropped in on Bennett to urge him to switch to Lincoln for the cause of Union if for nothing else.33 I had a long, agreeable, enlightened conversation with him [reported Blair]. I expressed by views with earnestness and frankness, and as he did those he entertained-not forgetting old scores of differences-and as I left his office he gave me in pretty emphatic raucle [sic] Scotch accent his last words for the President: "Tell him to restore McClellan to the army and he will carry the election by default." Blair's peace mission did nothing to stop the editorial attacks on Lincoln, and shortly after it took place Bennett castigated Lincoln for insisting upon the abolition of slavery as a condition on which the South might re-enter the Union. Bennett maintained that the president had no constitutional right to take such a position and accused Lincoln of doing so to court the abolition vote. Calling the slavery issue a dead letter, Bennett declared the issue of the 1864 election to be whether the people wanted a decent president or four more years of Lincoln.34 August found the shifty editor on the side of the Democrats, urging them to name McClellan.35 By now it seemed that the Herald's long campaign against the administration was taking effect. There was evidence that certain administration leaders wanted to call a truce. Earlier Bennett had seemed willing to dicker; on March 26, John Hay noted that the "Chevalier" Wikoff had been in town, probably seeking campaign promises for Bennett. According to Hay, the administration was not interested at the time.36 2 William S. Myers, A Study in Personality: General George Brmton McClellan (New York, 1934), pp. 432-435 -8 William E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics (New York, 1933), II, 280. 8 Herald, August i, 1864. 86 Ibid., August 12, 1864. 36 Tyler Dennett, ed., Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay (New York, 1939), p. 168.
Page 152 152 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY During the month of August, 1864, Lincoln entertained little hope of re-election. On the 23d he had his cabinet members sign, without their reading, a secret memorandum: This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.87 Although pessimistic, Lincoln took steps to strengthen his position. Years later Thurlow Weed recalled in his autobiography that Lincoln, well aware of the importance of winning Bennett back to the Republican party, was willing to authorize Abram Wakeman, the surveyor of the port of New York, to offer the Herald editor the ministry to France.38 Lincoln wrote to Wakeman late in July89 and the latter visited Bennett in August, confiding to Lincoln that he had followed instructions and had read Lincoln's letter "with proper explanations to Mr. Bennett." Bennett's reply "after some moments of silence," was, that as far as he was concerned, "it did not amount to much." 40 Bennett, as usual, had his own agent who was negotiating with Lincoln about the time of Wakeman's visit. William 0. Bartlett, who seemed to have influence over the policies of both the Herald and Greeley's Tribune, was Bennett's 37Lincoln Memorandum of August 23, 1864. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. Autobiography of Thurlow Weed (Harriet A. Weed, Life of Thurlow Weed, I, Boston, 1883), p. 620. 39Abraham Lincoln to Abram Wakeman, Washington, July 25, 1864, Complete Works, X, 170. In this letter Lincoln sizes up the presidential contest pointing out to Wakeman that the contest will "almost certainly be no other than a contest between a union and a disunion candidate" and that the success of the latter would mean disunion. Calling the issue a "mighty one, for all people, and all times" Lincoln declared that "whoever aids the right will be appreciated and remembered." There is no mention of the French mission offer as a "remembrance", but perhaps this was part of the "proper explanations" which Wakeman spoke of. 4OWakeman to Lincoln, New York, August 12, 1864. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection.
Page 153 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 153 man.41 A strange figure who operated mysteriously,42 he may have been one of those referred to by Gideon Welles when he recorded: It is an infirmity of the President that he permits the little newsmongers to come around him and be intimate, and in this he is encouraged by Seward, who does the same, and even courts the corrupt and the vicious, which the President does not. He [the president] has great inquisitiveness. Likes to hear all the political gossip as much as Seward. But the President is honest, sincere, and confiding,-traits which are not so prominent in some by whom he is surrounded.43 Other men were interested in bringing Bennett over to the Lincoln side. Late in September, John Hay observed that the Herald was taking a thoroughly neutral course in the election battle and suggested that perhaps some of them had succeeded in capturing the old editor. Hay's personal opinion of Bennett was quite low: 44 Senator [James] Harlan thinks that Bennett's support is so important, especially considered as to its bearing on the soldier vote, that it would pay to offer him a political mission for it, and so told me. [John W.] Forney has also had a man talking to the cannie Scot who asked plumply, "Will I be a welcome visitor at the White House if I support Mr. Lincoln?" What a horrible question for a man to be able to ask. I think he is too pitchy to touch. So thinks the Presdt apparently: it is probable that Bennett will stay about as he is, thoroughly neutral, balancing carefully until October elections, and will then declare for the side which he thinks will win. It is better in many respects to let him alone. To a certain point the president agreed with his private secretary, for he refused to extend Bennett a special invita1 Charles J. Rosebault, When Dana Was the Sun: A Story of Personal Journalism (New York, 1931), pp. 177-179. " See the letter, William O. Bartlett to Abraham Lincoln, New York, September 3, 1864. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. "John T. Morse, Jr., ed., Diary of Gideon Welles (Boston, 1911), II, 130-131. "Dennett, op. cit., 215.
Page 154 154 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY tion. To his intimates Lincoln explained: 45 "I understand it; Bennett has made a great deal of money, some say not very properly, now he wants me to make him respectable. I have never invited Mr. Bryant or Mr. Greeley here: I shall not, therefore, especially invite Mr. Bennett." And yet something was brewing in Washington, for in the meantime Bennett's Herald had taken a curious stand on the political issues of the day. McClellan, nominated by the Democrats on a peace platform, received no real support from the Herald. The old editor had been urging the general to repudiate the Democratic peace plank and when he did, the paper still claimed that the peace faction within the party was too strong. Later Bennett was more specific when he asked, "A PREGNANT QUESTION-If McClellan be elected what will he do with Grant, Sherman and other such generals? We are desirous of information on that point." 46 The anomaly could scarcely have been phrased more succinctly. Although not friendly to McClellan, Bennett was not friendly to Lincoln either. The Herald's stand was, as Hay put it, "thoroughly neutral." Bennett must have enjoyed his position and at times he would ridicule both candidates. In an editorial entitled "Puzzle for Future Historians," he asked how the people could choose between two men each "without the least positive merit," and breathed an editorial sigh of relief that he at least would not be around to hear the historians marvel at the nation's stupidity: "What a subject for historic contemplation! How will this look a half century hence? Happy are those who shall not live to read such a mortifying record of our want of common sense." 47 It was no longer a question which candidate was the better man, " Leonard Swett to William H. Herndon, January 17, 1866. Quoted in William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Abraham Lincoln: The Story of a Great Life (New York, 1892), II, 242. " Herald, September 18, 1864. "Ibid., October io, 1864.
Page 155 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 155 but which party was "less objectionable in its ticket and policy as it stands before the country." 48 This was the pattern of the Herald editorials for a while, but as the election grew closer Bennett appeared to grow less critical toward Lincoln and more derogatory of the Democrats. Complaining of the Democratic failure to repudiate the Copperhead peace faction, the Herald demanded that McClellan again state his position on this score: "Is he in favor of war... until the war leaders of the rebellion are put down, or so far subdued as to signify their readiness to disband their armies, in order that the rebellious States may be restored to the Union...?" Bennett added that he was certain Lincoln would pursue such a policy, and that he felt the people should have a promise from McClellan to the same effect.49 Bennett's astonishingly pro-Lincoln attitude (for even a neutral course might be called that) seems to have been brought about by William 0. Bartlett. Indeed, this very editorial "was written at... Bartlett's suggestion." Bennett considered the somewhat equivocal editorial as a skillful maneuver to bring Herald readers into the Lincoln ranks, and Bartlett boasted that Bennett's paper was "a model paper for our side." 50 Surreptitiously, Bartlett was working hard for Lincoln. Believing that the president had a damaging letter from S.L.M. Barlow, McClellan's campaign manager, Bartlett proposed that John Hay forward the letter to New York, where it could be published "in the Herald to great advantage." 51 Bennett, however, was not to be wooed through love alone. 49 Ibid., October 22, 1864. "Ibid., October 27, 1864. 60 Bartlett to Lincoln, New York, October 27, 1864. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. 51 Bartlett to Lincoln, New York, October 15, 1864. Ibid.
Page 156 156 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY The French mission, which may have been offered tentatively through Wakeman earlier, was the price for the Herald's support. Bartlett was the go-between, and after a visit to the White House was able to report successfully to his chief: 52 My Dear Sir: I am from Washington, fresh from the bosom of Father Abraham. I had a full conversation with him, alone, on Tuesday evening, at the White House, in regard to yourself, among other subjects. I said to him: "There are but few days before the election. If Mr. Bennett is not certainly to have the offer of the French Mission, I want to know it now. It is important to me." We discussed the course which the Herald had pursued, at length, and I will tell you, verbally, at your convenience, what he said; but he concluded with the remark that in regard to the understanding between him and me, about Mr. Bennett, he had been a "shut pan, to every body"; and that he expected to do that thing (appoint you to France) as much as he expected to live. He repeated: "I expect to do it as certainly as I do to be re-elected myself." I wanted to see you; but I am obliged to do some work in Pennsylvania, about the election, and cannot till my return. Truly yours, W. O. Bartlett The next day General McClellan visited Bennett's home, presumably to secure last minute support from the Herald. Evidently McClellan got nowhere with the Scotch editor, for on that same day Bartlett wrote Lincoln that Bennett was all right: "Mrs. James Gordon Bennett has become a very ardent Lincolnite! Little Mac's visit to Fort Washington was like most of his advance movements-altogether unsuccessful." 5 When John Hay read Bartlett's letter, he commented: 2 Bartlett to Bennett, New York, November 4, 1864. Quoted In Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, III, 248. 5 Bartlett to Lincoln, Easton, Penna., November 5, 1864. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection.
Page 157 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 157 "Poor Mcs visiting those people and compromising himself to them has been of no avail and must be terribly humiliating to a man as well bred as McC. is." 54 Whatever may have been the outcome of Bartlett's negotiating, Bennett continued his "neutral" editorial policy; he talked of the two failures running for the presidency and once even urged the electors not to vote for either, but to exercise their constitutional rights and choose Grant. When the news of Lincoln's election came through on November 9, however, the Herald lead editorial called the news of the second term "so generally anticipated that it will create very little surprise." 55 Not long afterwards Bennett closed the book on the election of 1864 by summing up the moral results. He marveled at the ease with which Lincoln won. He noted that it was one of the most quiet and orderly elections ever held in the United States and also "one of the most signal political triumphs of human history." The people's desire to save the Union at all costs was the reason for Lincoln's triumph, which Bennett called a "double victory over enemies at home and abroad." 56 Obviously Bennett had returned to the Lincoln camp. One important matter remained to be settled-Lincoln's reward for Bennett's support during the closing months of the election campaign. The actual offer of the French Mission prize to Bennett was not made until late in February, 1865. On the twentieth of that month Bennett received a terse announcement from Lincoln telling of his appointment: "Dear Sir: I propose, at some convenient and not distant day, to nominate you to the United States Senate as Minister to France." 57 54 Dennett, op. cit., 232. 65Herald, November 9, 1864. 66 Ibid., November 14, 1864. 7 Lincoln to Bennett, Washington, February 20, 1865. Complete Works, XI, 8.
Page 158 158 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY Bennett took time for his decision. Finally, eight days after the offer was made, Bartlett wrote Lincoln that he would personally bring Bennett's answer "on Monday next, March 6th." As proof that the Herald was definitely in the Lincoln camp, Bartlett confided that the paper was "going to advocate extending the right of suffrage to the Negroes!"58 As Bartlett had promised, Bennett's decision on the French Mission was written on March 6. Bennett thanked the President profoundly for such a great honor but stated that he was too old to accept the "labors and responsibilities of such an important position" and added: 6 Besides, in the present relations of France and the United States, I am of the decided opinion that I can be of more service to the country in the present position I occupy While, therefore, entertaining the highest consideration for the offer you have made, permit me most respectfully to decline the service for the reasons assigned I am, My Dear Sir With sentiments of the highest respect Your most Obt Servant James G. Bennett Recognition was evidently all Bennett wanted for his services to the administration. Years later Alexander K. McClure, one of Lincoln's friends and himself an editor, wrote that Lincoln was fully aware of the old editor's desire to be noticed, and capitalized on this knowledge to gain Bennett's support: 60 "He [Bennett] had no desire for public office; but he did desire, after he had acquired wealth and news5 Bartlett to Lincoln, New York, February 28, 1865. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. 5 Bennett to Lincoln, New York, March 6, 1865. Ibid. " Alexander K. McClure, Abraham Lincoln And Men of War Times: Some Personal Recollections of War and Politics During the Lincoln Administration (Philadelphia, 1892), pp. 80-82.
Page 159 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 159 paper power, just the recognition that Lincoln gave him, and I doubt whether any one thing in Bennett's life ever gave him more sincere gratification than this voluntary offer... and his opportunity to decline the same." But McClure probably did not know about the Lincoln-Bartlett-Bennett negotiations. The whole transaction was shrouded in the utmost secrecy; as Lincoln put it, he was a "shut pan" to everyone. Meanwhile John Bigelow was named Minister to France. Twelve days after Lincoln's death Thurlow Weed wrote to Bigelow: 61 "I dare not tell all about the Bennett matter on paper. It was a curious complication for which two wellmeaning friends were responsible. Seward knew nothing about it until the Election was over, when he sent for me. I was amazed to see what had transpired." Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Navy secretary, did not learn of the negotiations until March 15, 1865. Even then he did not believe all he heard: "A rumor is prevalent and very generally believed that the French mission has been offered Bennett of the New York Herald. I discredit it. On one or two occasions this mission has been alluded to in Cabinet, but the name of B. was never mentioned or alluded to. There are sometimes strange and unaccountable appointments made...." When he did learn there was some truth in the rumor, Welles in his diary bitterly criticized Lincoln for offering the French post to "an editor without character for such an appointment, whose whims are often wickedly and atrociously leveled against the best men and the best causes regardless of honor or right." 62 Lincoln himself probably worried about the news of his offer and its effect on the New York press, for the amazing Bartlett reassured the president that the story would be 61 Thurlow Weed to John Bigelow, New York, April 26, 1865. Quoted in John Bigelow, Retrospections of an Active Life (New York, 1913), II, 520. 62 Morse, op. cit., II, 258-260.
Page 160 160 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY printed in the New York Tribune on March 15, 1865, in such a way as to "gratify" Lincoln.63 This strange character wielded an astonishing power over the New York press, for on the day named by Bartlett the Tribune lauded the Bennett appointment: 64 Some surprise has been expressed that this important mission was not filled previously to the adjournment of the Senate. We understand that it was tendered to JAMES GORDON BENNETT, esq., of this City, but declined by him, mainly on the ground that he could be of more service in extricating our country from her present difficulties at home than abroad. Since Benjamin Franklin-in every sense our first Embassador [sic] to France-we do not remember that an Editor has till now been designated for that post, which demands in its incumbent a full and intimate knowledge of our own and of European politics, a ripe general experience, and a special familiarity with the character and career respectively of the leading statesmen of Europe. These qualifications, we presume, dictated the selection of the veteran Editor of The Herald. In this manner Lincoln's election debt to Bennett was settled, although Bartlett's last letter on behalf of Bennett had one "last request." Bartlett wanted to know if a certain Mr. Gabriel Fleurot of New York, who had been consul at Bordeaux, France, during the Buchanan administration, might be reinstated.65 It was Bartlett's last request to Lincoln. On April 14, the president's assassination abruptly ended his relations with the Herald editor. For twelve days, from April 15 to April 26, the Herald columns carried thick black borders as Bennett admitted that the task of eulogizing Lincoln was too big for him:66 " Bartlett to Lincoln, New York, March 14, 1865. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. " New York Daily Tribune, March 15, 1865. 6 Bartlett to Lincoln, New York, March 22, 1865. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. 06Herald, April 17, 1865.
Page 161 TOO PITCHY TO TOUCH 161 NO-It will take a new school of historians to do justice to this eccentric addition to the world's gallery of heroes; for while other men as interesting and original may have held equal power previously in other countries, it is only in the present age of steam, telegraphs and prying newspaper reporters that a subject so eminent, both by genius and position, could have been placed under the eternal microscope of critical examinations.
Page 162 Lincoln and Negro Colonization in Central America By WARREN A. BECK HE election of 186o made the Republican party responsible for settling the most important issue confronting the nation-the slavery question. One proposed solution that Lincoln considered seriously was the colonization of the Negroes in some land, preferably in the Western Hemisphere, where they could develop as they chose, free of the domination of the white race. The earlier writings and speeches of the president show his belief that colonization could solve the slavery problem that had vexed American statesmen since colonial days. Out of scores of proposals submitted on colonization, Lincoln seriously considered only two. These were the project to colonize in the Chiriqui province of present day Panama and on Ile A'Vache, a small island near Haiti. The Chiriqui site was considered first. Belief that a simultaneous solution of both slavery and the racial problem could be accomplished simply by removing the Negro to some other part of the world was certainly not new. As early as 1776 Thomas Jefferson advocated a plan for colonization.1 In 1815, Paul Cuffe, a free Negro from Massachusetts, took the first boatload of free Negroes to Africa from the United States.2 In 1817 the American Colonization Society was formed and helped keep the idea nationally prominent.3 In 1819 Congress appropriated $oo,ooo 'Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union (New York, 1947), I, 511. 2 Raymond W. Logan, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti 1776-1891 (Chapel Hill, 1941), p. 216. s For the early history of the Society see Early Lee Fox, The American Colonization Society 1z87-184o (Baltimore, 1919). 162
Page 163 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 163 toward the founding of Liberia and many people sincerely believed that the solution to the national problem had been found. In the 1 82o's proposals for colonizing free Negroes in Haiti became a major issue.4 The backers of these schemes claimed that thousands of slaveholders stood ready to free their Negroes and be rid of slavery if the blacks could only be colonized abroad.5 However, the abolitionists and the free Negroes bitterly opposed any such plan. The abolitionists depicted the American Colonization Society as a total sham because it assumed that the blacks could not be elevated to a position of equality in this country." The free Negroes opposed colonization because they wanted to be accepted into American society on an equal basis and did not feel that anyone had a right to ship them out of America to a strange country. They preferred the United States despite the harsh treatment they received, even in the North.7 In addition, many who favored colonization doubted the feasibility of it. Hezekiah Niles, publisher of Niles Weekly Register, pointed out that colonization was doomed to fail because the Negroes reproduced so fast. To remove fifteen thousand colonists per years to Africa would cost $4,777,5oo and the cost would total $163,115,ooo by the time five hundred thousand had been removed. In the meantime, the Negro population in the country would have doubled.8 Despite this opposition, the American Colonization Society continued to be prominent and at "its annual ' Logan, op. cit., pp. 216-217. Loring Daniel Dewey, Correspondence Relative to the Emigration to Hayti (New York, 1824). 5josephine Seaton, William W. Seaton, A Biographical Sketch (Boston, 1871), pp. 265-266. 1 John Jay Chapman, William Lloyd Garrison (Boston, 1913), pp. 63-64. For more on the plight of the free Negro see Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, American Negro Slavery (New York, 1918), pp. 425-453, and Nevins, op. cit., I, 518-532. On the free Negroes' approach to colonization see Louis R. Mehlinger, "Attitude of the Free Negro Toward African Colonization" in Journal of Negro History, I (July, 1916), 276-3O1. s Norval Neil Luxon, Niles Weekly Register (Baton Rouge, 1947), pp. 271-272.
Page 164 164 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY meeting in Washington in 1852 Henry Clay was president, Webster was vice-president, President Fillmore attended, and numerous senators, representatives and Supreme Court justices applauded a hopeful address by the able Frederick P. Stanton of Tennessee." 9 On January 14, 1858, Francis Preston Blair, Jr., of Missouri, raised the hopes of colonization advocates when he introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to have a committee appointed to inquire into the expediency of providing for the acquisition of territory either in the Central or South American States, to, be colonized with colored persons from the United States who are now free, or who may hereafter become free, and who may be willing to settle in such territory as a dependency of the United States, with ample guarantees of their personal and political rights. In his speech Blair quoted Jefferson to strengthen his case for colonization. According to Blair, Jefferson believed that the emancipation of the black race was inevitable. Because Negroes could never be accepted as the equals of whites, however., a dual policy of emancipation and deportation, similar to the Spanish expulsion of the Moors, should be adopted. Blair went on to point out that territory acquired for this purpose would also serve as a bulwark against any further encroachment by England in the Central or South American region.'0 Although he had belonged to the Free Soil Party, F. P. Blair., Jr.'s, sentiments were those of the leaders of the Republican Party, particularly of Lincoln. Lincoln, who was first a Whig, followed the thinking of Henry Clay and believed, as did Clay, that colonization promised the one means of solving the race problem involved in the existence of slav11Nevins, OP. cit., 1, 511. 10 Congressional Globe, 35th Congress, ist Session, Pt. i, pp. 293-98.
Page 165 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 165 ery in the United States. In arriving at this belief that it was difficult for the black and white races to live on a basis of equality, Lincoln was influenced by his long association with friends from the South. Colonization was popular with many progressive thinkers in the South because it permitted them an expression of liberal and humane views on slavery without tainting them with abolitionism.1 Edward Bates of Missouri was another prominent Republican who endorsed this scheme put forward by former Southern or border state Whigs now become Republicans.12 As early as July 16, 1852 Lincoln expressed the belief which he still held during his first years in the White House, when, in a eulogy to Henry Clay he quoted from a speech given by the Whig leader before the American Colonization Society in 1827. " 'There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence.' " Lincoln went on to state that if colonization would remove from the land the dangerous presence of slavery and return this captive people to its homeland, it would be well worth undertaking.13 In his contest with Douglas the future Civil War president further developed his views. Replying to Douglas at Peoria on October 16, 1854, Lincoln declared that if the solution of the problem was left to him, his first impulse would be to free all the slaves and send them to Liberia.... But a moment's reflection would convince me that, " Frederic Bancroft, The Life of William H. Seward (New York, 1900), II, 345 -346. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History (New York, 1886), VI, 354. J. G. Randall, Lincoln the President (New York, 1945), I, 139. Charles H. Wesley, "Lincoln's Plan for Colonizing the Emancipated Negroes," Journal of Negro History, IV (January, 1919), 8. 2 Howard K. Beale, ed., "The Diary of Edward Bates 1859-1866," Annual Report of the American Historical Association 1930, IV (Washington, 1933), 113. 1 John G. Nicolay and John Hay, eds., Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (New York, 1905), II, 176.
Page 166 166 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY whatever high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there is not money enough in the world to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think that I would not hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them and make them politically and socially equals? My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites would not. Continuing, Lincoln declared, "I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect preventative of amalgamation.... Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by colonization."'14 In his reply to Douglas in the debate at Ottawa., Illinois, on August 2 1, 1858, Lincoln stated that., "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality." 1 The means by which Lincoln was to try the colonization experiment during the Civil War was provided by Ambrose W. Thompson, a Philadelphian, who had amassed a fortune in shipbuilding and the coastwise trade."' Becoming interested in the California trade, in 1855 Thompson and his associates formed The Chiriqui Improvement Company which obtained control of several hundred thousand acres of land in Panama. Thompson attempted to obtain government sup14 Ibid., II, 2o6-20',. 15 Edwin E. Sparks, ed., The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (Springfield, 1908), p. 101. "Philadelphia Enquirer, May 3o, 1882. Transcript of Ambrose W. Thompson obituary. See also Paul J. Scheips, "Ambrose W. Thompson: A Neglected Isthimian Promoter," Unpublished Master's Thesis, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, 1949.
Page 167 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 167 port for a projected railroad across the isthmus in addition to leasing the American navy bases on the Chiriqui Lagoon on the Atlantic and on Golfo Dulce on the Pacific. Thompson also proposed to supply the navy with coal that was reportedly the equal of the best Pennsylvania mines.'7 Though unsuccessful during Buchanan's administration, Thompson wasted little time in trying to gain government support for his projects after Lincoln took office. Beginning negotiations as early as May, 186 1,1 on August 8, Thompson made a specific proposal to the secretary of the navy to deliver coal at the Chiriqui Lagoon for one-half the price the government then paid.'9 In the meantime the president had referred the question of Chiriqui coal to his brother-in-law, Ninian W. Edwards, who, on August 9, 1861, enthusiastically endorsed the proposed contract.20 Edwards made no mention of colonization, although a pamphlet furnished by the company and enclosed with his report set forth the advantages of Chiriqui for such a project, inasmuch as the area would soon become a center of isthmian traffic and coal would provide a means by which a Negro colony could be immediately self-sustaining while developing the cultivation of cotton, sugar, coffee, and rice, and extending American commercial dominance over tropical America.2' 17 36th Congress, ist Session, House of Representatives, Report NO. 568, Report of the Hon. F. H. Morse, of Maine, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, H. R. in Relation to the Contract Made by the Secretary of the Navy for Coal and Other Privileges on the Isthmus of Chiriqui. Hereafter cited as The Morse Report. 47th Congress, ist Session, House of Representatives Ex. Doc. 46, Resolutions of the House of Representatives Relative to Certain Lands and Harbors Known as the Chiriqui Grant. Hereafter cited as Report on the Chiriqui Grant. 36th Congress, 2nd Session, House of Representatives, House Executive Document NO. 41, Reports from the Chiriqui Commission. John T. Morse, Jr., ed., Diary of Gideon Welles (Boston, 1911), 1, 150. 'Ambrose Thompson to Gideon welles, August 8, 1861. The Robert Todd Lincoln Collection of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln (Washington: Library of Congress, 1947. Hereafter cited as Lincoln Papers), Vol. 51, folio 11100. w Ninian W. Edwards to Abraham Lincoln., August 9, 1861. Ibid., Vol. 52, f11113-11120 -= "Important Considerations for Congress," enclosure with Ninian W. Edwards to Abraham Lincoln, August 9, 1861. Ibid., Vol. 52, f. 11109.
Page 168 168 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY Appointing a commission to investigate this plan, Lincoln referred its findings to Francis Preston Blair, Sr.22 Endorsing a government contract with the Chiriqui Improvement Company even more strongly than Edwards had, the senior Blair believed that the main purpose of such a contract should be to utilize the area controlled by Thompson and his associates to solve the Negro problem. He repeated Jefferson's contention that the Negroes would ultimately have to be shipped out of America, reviewed Lincoln's own endorsement of colonization, and discussed the activities of his son, Representative Francis Preston Blair, Jr., of Missouri, on behalf of deportation. Blair concluded his lengthy report with a recommendation that a responsible man be sent to Chiriqui to make an examination for the government, suggesting the name of Henry T. Blow of St. Louis, the United States Minister to Venezuela.23 The report of the elder Blair convinced Lincoln that he should proceed, and in December, 1861, he ordered the secretary of war to release Captain A. Thompson24 from his present duties so that he could escort Henry Blow to Central America for the purpose of reconnaissance of, and a report upon the lands, and harbors of the Isthmus of Chiriqui; the fitness of the lands to the colonization of the Negro race; the practicability of connecting the said harbors by a railroad; and the works which will be necessary for the Chiriqui Company to erect to protect the colonists as they may arrive, as well as for the protection and defense of the harbors at the termini of said road. 2 William E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics (New York, 1933), II, 196. 2 F. P. Blair, Sr., to Abraham Lincoln, November 16, 1861. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 61, f. 13002-13014. 24 Ambrose Thompson, Jr., is undoubtedly referred to here, as he was a Captain in the Army Quarter-Master Corps from August 22, 1861, to May ig, 1862. From Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903 (Washington, 1903), p. 955 -
Page 169 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 169 Simon Cameron, the secretary of war, was ordered to provide Captain Thompson with the necessary equipment and assistants.25 The president issued similar orders to the secretary of the navy, saying: You will please to issue orders immediately for an armed vessel 0*.. to sail on or before the i oth instant to convey Captain Thompson and party to the port of LaGuayra in Venezuela--- there to take on the Hon. Henry T. Blow, United States Minister to that government,--- to sail thence to the Lagoon of Chiriqui; while there to be under the direction of the Hon. Mr. Blow, who is also to have free use of the boats to ascend as far as may be practicable the streams, to examine the bordering valleys, lands, productions, etc. These objects accomplished, the Vessel will then proceed to Aspinwall and land the party; after which she can proceed upon any cruise in the Carribbean [sic] Sea, for the period of three weeks, at which time she must return to Aspinwall,---await the arrival of said party,--- when she will return with Mr. Blow to LaGuayra, after which, with all possible dispatch she must land Captain Thompson at a port in the United States nearest to, and in direct communication with Washington. This mission was to be carried out under sealed orders with every precaution for secrecy. 26 While Lincoln was ordering this expedition to Chiriqui, he referred to the subject of colonization in his first annual message to Congress on December 3, 186 1. The president proposed that persons freed by the fighting should be deemed free and "that in any event steps should be taken for colonies for them... at some place or places in a climate congenial to them. It might be well to consider, too, whether the free colored people already in the United States could not, so far 25 Abraham Lincoln to Simon Cameron, December [?], 1861. Lincoln Papers, Vol. -" Abraham Lincoln to Gideon Welles, December [?], 1861, Ibid., Vol. 64, f. 13637-13638.
Page 170 170 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY as individuals may desire., be included in such colonization."1127 For the moment, however, the Chiriqui project lapsed. An examination of the records in the National Archives disclosed no record of President Lincoln's order sending Minister Blow to Chiriqui. However, Blow was instructed by the State Department on December 17, i86i1, as follows: "'It is not improbable that the President may detach you from your post to undertake the charge of delicate and responsible duties elsewhere.' "Blow left on a leave of absence on February 2 2, 1862, and in his letter of resignation of April 2, 1862, from St. Louis, he referred to the State Department instructions of December 17, 1861, stating "'I desire Sir, to state that it was my intention (before learning of my leave of absence) to have remained in Caracas, until I had performed the duties, hinted at in your dispatch No. 2, and then to have tendered my resignation.' "128 Colonization was not an issue again until March and April of 1 862o when Congress debated a bill to free the slaves in the District of Columbia, and colonize them abroad. Despite the determined opposition of both ardent abolitionists and border state congressmen, the bill "releasing certain persons held to labor in the District of Columbia" became law on April i6., 1 86,o. One hundred thousand dollars was appropriated "to aid in the colonization and settlement of such free persons of African descent now residing in said District, including those to be liberated by this act, as may desire to emigrate. "29 With the passage of this law, Lincoln, for the first time, -'James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (Washington, 1897-1919), VIII, 3255. -28Letter to the author from Marcus W. Price, Director, General Records Division, The National Archives, Washington, D. C., August 25, 1948. 2937th Congress, 2nd Session, Public Laws of the United States (Boston, 1861 -1862), XII, 378.
Page 171 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 171 had legal grounds on which to proceed with the colonization of freedmen from the District of Columbia. The President was still primarily interested in the Chiriqui site and Secretary of the Navy Welles recorded in his diary that at the request of the president he spent some time looking over papers, titles, maps, reports and evidence, "and came to the conclusion that there was fraud and cheat in the affair.... Told the President I had no confidence in it, and asked to be released from its further consideration."30 Lincoln next turned the Chiriqui project over to Secretary of the Interior Caleb B. Smith and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. Chase in turn delegated this task to Edward Jordan, Solicitor of the Treasury. On April 22, Jordan recommended a contract with the Chiriqui Improvement Company to carry the government mails to the Pacific region, to supply coal for government uses at Chiriqui, and to colonize in this area.31 Smith also recommended Chiriqui as a colonization site in his report to the president of May 9. According to Smith, Liberia was out of the question because of the climate, the unwillingness of the Negroes to go so far from home, and the great expense involved in moving them that distance. Haiti was ruled out as a possible site because of the Catholic religion there, the low grade of civilization and the fear that the Spanish would soon overrun the island. Smith went on to emphasize that those Negroes who desired to emigrate preferred to remain in the western hemisphere and that because of its proximity to the United States and the availability of coal, Chiriqui was the only really acceptable site.32 On May 16, Smith again 3 Morse, op. cit., I, 150-151.,'Edward Jordan to S. P. Chase, April 22, 1862. Report on the Chiriqui Grant, p. 132. 3 Caleb B. Smith to Abraham Lincoln, May 9, 1862. 39th Congress, ist Session, Senate Executive Document No. 55. Report on the Transportation, Settlement, and Colonization of Persons of the African Race, pp. 7-9. Hereafter cited as Report on Colonization.
Page 172 172 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY wrote the president urging colonization at Chiriqui, and pointing out that a contract with a private company would provide the easiest and quickest means of beginning such a project because no treaty or additional legislation of any kind would be necessary.33 On May 15, 1862, the Reverend James Mitchell of Indiana., later appointed Commissioner of Emigration, presented Lincoln with additional reasons why the Negroes should be colonized. Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people, he declared; as long as the Negroes continued to live with the whites they would constitute a threat to the national life. Family life might also collapse and the increase of "the mixed breed bastards," might some day challenge the supremacy of the white man. Mitchell recommended the gradual colonization of the Negroes in Central America and Mexico. That region had once known a great empire and could become one again. This continent could then be divided between a race of mixed bloods and the Anglo-American.34 The colonization issue was permitted to lapse until July when Lincoln, seeking to ease the pressure for outright emancipation, appealed to the border state congressmen to agree to a scheme of compensated emancipation. He pointed out that it offered a chance to sell slaves to the government and not run the risk of losing their full value later. In order to quiet the fear of too many freedmen in their midst, Lincoln again urged colonization as the solution. "Room in South America for colonization can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go." 35 13 Caleb B. Smith to Abraham Lincoln, May 16, 1862. Ibid., pp. 10- 11. "~James Mitchell to Abraham Lincoln, May 18, 1862. Lincoln Papers. Vol. 76, f. 16044. 35 Abraham Lincoln to Congress, July 12, 1862. Ibid.., Vol. 8o, f. 17004-17009.
Page 173 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 173 The law of July 16, 1862, providing for the freeing of all slaves in the hands of the army, also granted an additional $500,000 for the president to use in colonizing all persons freed by this act who were willing to leave the country.-36 This meant that now more than the former slaves of the District of Columbia were eligible to be colonized. On August 2, 1862, John Usher, who was later secretary of the interior, wrote Lincoln a lengthy endorsement of immediate colonization. Usher believed the people were ready to accept colonization and that if the project was undertaken at once it would allay fears in the North of being overrun by freedmen.37 Despite these numerous endorsements of colonization, Lincoln's favoring of it, and the fact that it had been under consideration for almost a year, little had been done towards putting it into effect. More pressing problems concerning the prosecution of the war had to be considered first, and as late as July 22, 1862, the order with respect to colonization was dropped so that other matters could be considered in a cabinet meeting.388 By August 14~, 1862, however, Lincoln was ready to proceed with the Chiriqui project. On that day he gave an audience to a committee of Negro ministers. This was in itself a memorable event., for it marked the first time in American history that a president invited a group of the Negro race to the White House to discuss a public issue. "One of those present made a record of Lincoln's remarks as the first memorandum of words of the President of the United States addressed directly and exclusively to the people of that race." 89 36Public Laws of the United States, XII, 582. 37John Usher to Abraham Lincoln, August 2, 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 82, f. 17427-17434. 885. H. Dodson., compiler. "Diary and Correspondence of Salmon P. Chase,"' Annual Report of the American Historical Association 1902 (Washington, 19o3), 11, 48-49. ftCarl sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (New York, 1939)' I, 574. It is to this person that we are indebted for the story of that occasion. The text of
Page 174 174 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY The Reverend James Mitchell, the recently appointed commissioner of emigration, introduced the group to the president and Edwin M. Thomas acted as its chairman and spokesman. Lincoln explained that he had asked them to come so that he could speak to them about the colonization of the Negro race abroad. "And why should the people of your race... leave this country?" the president asked. He went on to explain that the two races could not live side by side because of the great difference between them. "Consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war." Lincoln pointed out that even as freedmen the Negroes would be better off removed from the United States. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white man. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but in this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best and the ban is still upon you. The president then informed the delegation that an excellent colonization site was available in Central America where men of their race would be welcome and where an abundance of coal would immediately put the colony on a firm financial footing. Lincoln concluded by asking the group to determine if a number of freedmen with their families would be willing to go as soon as arrangements could be made.40 There is no evidence that this committee ever reached a decision on colonization and advised President Lincoln of it. Lincoln's address to the Negro group appears both in the newspapers of the day, works about the Lincoln administration contemporary to that period, and in recent collections of Lincoln's writings. As these accounts are almost identical, it can be assumed that they are all based on the record preserved by this one man. 0 Henry J. Raymond, The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln (New York, 1865), pp. 504-508.
Page 175 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 175 Probably it did, however, for on August 25, 1862, a meeting of Negroes held at Union Bethel Church, Washington, D. C., protested against the president's plan of colonization in Central America. "Such dissatisfaction had been manifested in regard to the course of the committee who lately waited on.the president on the subject, that they did not attend. It was hinted that they had exceeded their instructions." Feeling ran so high that "tthe colored folks did not favor the presence of a white reporter at their meeting."141 But not all the Negroes were resentful against Lincoln for desiring to send them abroad. Edwin Thomas, who had been chairman of the committee, wrote the president on August 16, declaring that while he had originally-been opposed to colonization, when acquainted with the facts he favored it, and now asked the president's authorization to travel among his friends and co-workers of the Negro race in order to conVince them of the advisability of emigration.42 While the president was taking these steps to get colonization underway, his commissioner of emigration was not idle. The day after Lincoln's meeting with the Negroes, Mitchell inserted the following notice in the newspapers: "Correspondence is desired with colored men favorable to Central American, Liberian or Haytien emigration, especially the first named. Communication on the subject should be addressed to Rev. James Mitchell, Agent of Emigration."143 Mitchell also issued a memorandum to Negro ministers urging them to use their influence to encourage emigration. He informed them that the Hand of Divine Providence had decreed a separate existence for the races. The Negroes were held responsible for the Civil War and it was forecast that more bloodshed would result if they did not leave America. 41The [Baltimore] Sun, August 23, 1862. 42Edwin M. Thomas to Abraham Lincoln, August 16, 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 84, f. 17718-17719. a~ "The Colonization Scheme," Detroit Free Press, August 1.5, 1862.
Page 176 176 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY "This is a nation of equal white laborers, and as you cannot be accepted on equal terms there is no place here for you. You cannot go into the North or the West without arousing the growing feeling of hostility toward you. The South must also have a homogeneous population and any attempt to give the freedmen equal status in the South will bring disaster to both races." Mitchell went on to explain that the younger members of the colored race were the group he wished particularly to adopt the safe and prudent policy of colonization.44 Ambrose Thompson did not remain idle with this renewal of interest in Negro colonization. On August 19, 1862, he wrote the president that it was very important to begin colonization before the rainy season started.45 At this point one of the most controversial figures in Washington, Senator Samuel Clark Pomeroy of Kansas, became involved with Thompson in his colonization plan.46 On August 26, Pomeroy issued a message "To the Free Colored People of the United States" in which he outlined the colonization plans. "The hour has now arrived in the history of your settlement upon this continent when it is within your own power to "4James Mitchell, Commissioner of Emigration, to United States Ministers of the Colored Race, [?] 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 98, f. 20758-20759. "5Ambrose Thompson to Abraham Lincoln, August 19, 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 84, f. 17795-17796. " It is not clear just how Pomeroy became involved in the projected colonization. It was reported in the newspapers of the day that the president had persuaded Senator Pomeroy to take charge because of his experience in organizing the New England emigration to Kansas. Senator Orville Hickman Browning of Illinois believed Pomeroy was convinced that colonization was the only means of solving the racial question and was willing to offer his services to that end. Secretary of Navy welles suggested that Pomeroy's zeal on behalf of colonization had some ulterior motive behind it. In his official instructions Secretary of the Interior Smith reminded Pomeroy that he had volunteered his services and an historian of the period also declared that Pomeroy proposed to accompany and superintend the expedition. "The Colonization Scheme," Detroit Free Press, August 26, 1862. "Abraham Lincoln on Colonization of Negroes," Nation, L (January 30, 1890), I, 577. Raymond, op. cit., P. 508. Morse, op. cit., I, 123. Theodore Calvin Pease and James G. Randall, eds., The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning (Springfield, 1925), I, 577. Report on Colonization, pp. 16-17.
Page 177 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 177 take one step that will secure, if successful, the elevation, freedom, and social position of your race upon the American continent," he pleaded, proceeding from this grandiose beginning to praise the nobleness of the Negro race and not too modestly to outline his own qualifications to lead the expedition. He concluded: "I want mechanics and labourers, earnest, honest, and sober men, for the interest of a generation, it may be of mankind, are involved in the success of this experiment and with the approbation of the American people, and under the blessing of Almighty God, it cannot, it shall not fail." 4 On September 12, 1862, a provisional contract between Ambrose W. Thompson and the government was signed, providing for colonization on the Thompson lands in the Chiriqui province of New Granada. Senator Pomeroy was designated as special agent of the president and was to be the sole judge of the fitness of the Chiriqui site for colonization. Besides the signatures of Thompson and Smith the contract contained the following note from the president dated September 11, 1862, "The within contract is approved, and the Secretary of the Interior is directed to execute the same. (Signed) A. Lincoln." 48 The president next instructed Pomeroy to accompany the proposed colonizing expedition as his agent. He authorized Pomeroy to advance Thompson $50,000 when and if colonization actually began and also to allow Thompson such sums as might immediately be necessary for incidental expenses."49 The secretary of the interior sent Pomeroy more specific instructions. He was to escort the group of "Freedmen" who 7 Bedford Pim, The Gate of the Pacific (London, 1863), pp. 144-146. "Colonization Scheme," Detroit Free Press, August 27, 1862. On the basis of this Senator Pomeroy was later to claim that he had received as many as thirteen thousand applications from Negroes desiring to emigrate. 4 Report on the Chiriqui Grant, pp. 134-136. "Abraham Lincoln to Samuel Pomeroy, September so, 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 87, f. 18321-18322.
Page 178 178 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY were willing to colonize abroad at Chiriqui, but before attempting to establish a colony, no matter how promising the site, he should first obtain the permission of the local authorities, in order to prevent diplomatic misunderstandings.50 After receiving his instructions Pomeroy went to New York to obtain a ship for the venture. Robert Murray, United States Marshall at New York, was advised of Pomeroy's status as special agent of colonization and was asked to help him locate a vessel from the prizes available.5' On September 16 Secretary of Interior Smith wired Pomeroy: "President wants information.... Has Murray [United States Marshal] the control and custody of the vessel? Is there order of sale; and if so, when? Is any deposit necessary to, get the vessel?" t 52 President Lincoln's concern with Negro emigration at this time was significant because the month of September, 1 862o, represented a very critical moment for the Federal cause. Yet the president found time to interest himself in Negro colonization even to the point of having a telegram sent to hurry the procurement of a ship for the venture. The impending issuance of the preliminary proclamation of emancipation made it desirable for the administration to have a practical solution to the problem of caring for the thousands of slaves who would be freed. 53 In the preliminary emancipation proclamation issued on September 22, Lincoln declared "that the effort to colonize persons of African descent with their consent upon this continent. will be continued." 54 In late September the issue of colonization became an important topic at cabinet meetings as the president sought the 50Report on Colonization, pp. 16-17. 51 Caleb Smith to Robert Murphy, September 16, 1862. Ibid., p. 17. 52 Caleb Smith to Samuel Pomeroy, September 20, 1862. Ibid., p. 17. 58 Bancroft, op. cit., IL, 346. 11' Complete Works, VIII, 37 -
Page 179 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 179 opinions of his advisors on the Chiriqui project. Secretary of the Navy Welles branded the whole enterprise as "a rotten intrigue of the last administration." 55 Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, originally favorable to forcible deportation, had cooled toward the Chiriqui project through distrust of Thompson'9s motives.56 William H. Seward had no faith in colonization at all. He doubted the wisdom of taking people out of the country and did not think the Negroes would want to leave anyway.5 Salmon P. Chase had favored colonization the year before 5a8 but now felt that the only justification for it would be as a means of gaining a foothold in Central America.59 Bates along with Blair, at first favored forcible deportation, but ended by joining Stanton in opposing the Chiriqui venture. This left Smith as the only member of Lincoln's official family who favored it.6O Despite the opposition of most of his cabinet Lincoln permitted Pomeroy to continue his preparations for the expedition. But on October 7, 1862, Seward, fearing diplomatic repercussions, prevailed upon the president to call a tempo55Morse, op. cit., I, 150-152. 56 Smith, op. cit., 11, 197. In fact a distrust of the motives of both Pomeroy and Thompson worked against colonization. On July 1, 1864, presidential secretary John Hay wrote in his diary: "I am glad the President has sloughed off that idea of colonization. I have always thought it a hideous and barbaric humbug and the thievery of Pomeroy... (has) about converted him to the same belief." Tyler Dennet, ed., Lincoln and the Civil War in, the Diaries and Letters of John Hay (New York, 1939), p. 203. Distrust of Thompson's promotional activities had been apparent as early as 1851 when he tried to obtain a government loan Of $5,0o0,ooo for a proposed steamship line that would monopolize the California trade. In the House debates on the loan Representative Abraham W. Venable depicted Thompson as "9a modest, an unassuming, a 'timid' gentleman who comes here and demands of you that you shall let him dip his arms to the elbows in your public treasury." In the debate over the proposed naval contract the vitriolic Thad Stevens denounced Thompson as a scoundrel and hinted that he was prepared to bribe House members to put through his speculative swindle. Globe., 31st Congress, 2nd Session, P. 757. Ibid., 36th Congress, ist Session, Pt. 4, PP. 3172-3177. Ibid-., 36th Congress, 2nd Session, Pt. 1, p. 731. 117Bancroft, OP. cit., 11, 346. SAlbert B. Hart, Salmon Portland Chase (Boston, 1899), p. 261. 5Dodson, OP. cit., P. 93. 60Morse, op. cit., I, 15 1-152. Gerstle Mack, The Land Divided (New York, 1944), p. 276.
Page 180 180 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY rary halt. On that date John Usher, who had succeeded Smith as secretary of the interior, informed Pomeroy that the project would have to be abandoned for a time."' Although protests by the diplomatic representatives of the Central American states brought a suspension of the colonization plans, other factors would ultimately have doomed the project. Most important was the fact that the majority of the Negroes did not wish to leave the United States.02 They were no more willing to leave in 1862 than they had been previously, when the American Colonization Society was trying to send them to Liberia. Along with this unwillingness of the Negroes to emigrate came the discovery that they could be used in the war effort. A large number of freedmen found their way into the army, while still others were used to good advantage as laborers."3 Another force working against colonization was the opposition of the abolitionists who insisted that the blacks had a right to remain in the lands of their birth. They repeated Sumner's earlier argument that these Negroes were an important part of our national economy and any attempt to export them "would be fatal to the prosperity of the country." 64 The fight for unqualified emancipation became an important part of the election campaign of 1862 and anyone who endorsed colonization was open to violent attack.65 A major reason for the selection of the Chiriqui site had been the belief that the available coal would immediately 61 John Usher to Samuel Pomeroy, October 7, i862. Report on Colonization, p. 21. 2New Albany [Indiana] Weekly Ledger, October 29, 1862. (Transcript). Montgomery Blair to Abraham Lincoln, March 5, 1863. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 105, f22217-22218. 6 38th Congress, Ist Session, House of Representatives Executive Document No. 1, Report of John T. Usher, Secretary of the Interior, pp. XVIII-XIX. SBen: Perley Poore, Reminiscences of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis (Philadelphia, 1886), II, 107-o108. 0 James L. Sellers, "James R. Doolittle," The Wisconsin Magazine of History, XVII (March, 1934), 302-304.
Page 181 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 18i put the colony on a firm economic basis, but on September 5 the scientist Joseph Henry submitted a report blasting Chiniqui coal as being " as nearly worthless as any fuel can be"Y and claiming that the Chiriqui property "swill always be of little or no value to its owners." " Since the contract between the government and Thompson was not signed until September 12, the discovery that Chiriqui coal was valueless seems either to have been ignored or not to have been considered too important. Undoubtedly the most important cause of the abandonment of the Chiriqui colonization project was the diplomatic crisis the emigration plan had created. The fall of 1 862o was the most critical period of the war for the Union. France and England were both considering recognition of the Confederacy. Under such circumstances the friendship of Latin America that Secretary of State Seward had been cultivating since he took office was of extreme importance, and Seward could not permit the Negro colonization scheme to destroy it.07 In August, 1862, Honduras, first of the Central American states to voice an opinion, protested the proposed colonization.6 In September the American consul reported that panic prevailed in Nicaragua and Honduras because ''a dreadful deluge of Negro emigration... from the United States"9 was feared."" "There can be no doubt as to the genuineness of the fear felt on [Negro colonization]... in Central America. The prospect of four million freed Negroes immigrating into their territories was cause enough for the misgivings I'llJoseph Henry to Abraham Lincoln, September 5, 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 86, f. 18226-18227. '17Nathan L. Ferris, "The Relations of the United States with South America During the American Civil War," Hispanic American Historical Review, XXI (February,, 1941)., 53. "James R. Partridge to William Seward, August 26, 1862. Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, pp. 891-892. 691 A. B. Dickinson to William Seward, September 12, 1862. Ibid., p. 894.
Page 182 182 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY entertained by their government. "70 Nicaragua next protested officially to the American government. 7' The most serious diplomatic controversy was with Costa Rica, because that country claimed part of the land owned by Thompson upon which colonization was contemplated. On September 19 Luis Molina, the diplomatic representative of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras at Washington presented the case of those republics against Negro colonization, denouncing the attempt of the United States to use Central America to deposit "a plague of which the United States desired to rid themselves, " and reminding Seward that to be true to its own Monroe Doctrine the United States could no more assume that there were lands available in Spanish America for colonization than could a European power. Molina concluded his strong protest by hinting that the republics he represented were prepared to use force to repel what they interpreted as an invasion of their sovereignty.72 Seward attempted to. allay the fears of the Central American states by explaining that Senator Pomeroy had instructions not to colonize anywhere without the permission of the governments affected,73 and when Molina continued his objections,74 Seward concluded that the project must be abandoned. If the Chiriqui colonization venture had got underway, it is more than likely that it would have been as dismal a failure as the ill-fated attempt to plant a Negro colony on Haiti in 1863. Nevertheless, the project is important because of the 70 N. Andrew N. Cleven, "Some Plans for Colonizing Liberated Negro Slaves in Hispanic America," The Southwestern Political and Social Science Quarterly, VI (September, 1925), 157. 71Pedro zeledon to A. B. Dickinson., September 12, 1862. Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, pp. 897-898. 72Luis Molina to William Seward, September 19, 1862. Ibid., pp. 899-903. 73Wlla Seward to Luis Molina, September 24., 1862. Ibid., pp. 903-904. Same to same, October 1, 1862. Ibid., pp. 905-906. William Seward to C. N. Riotte,, October 6, 1862. Ibid., pp. 889-890. "'Luis Molina to William Seward., September 29, 1862. Ibid., pp. 904-905.
Page 183 LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 183 interest shown in it by President Lincoln and his apparent belief that emigration might help to solve the racial problem. It should be emphasized, however, that the interest of the Civil War president in such a solution sprang from the loftiest humanitarian motives. He had seen the inferior position the Negroes occupied even in the North and believed sincerely that they would be better off where their race could be free to work out its own destiny. As the war progressed and the freedmen proved their worth both as soldiers and as laborers, and as the country became more ready to accept them, Lincoln's interest in Negro colonization waned. He reluctantly approved the Haitian venture, but that project was to collapse from mismanagement and lack of support. Perhaps presidential secretary John Hay's diary of July 1, 1864, best depicts Lincoln's changed attitude. Hay recorded: "I am happy that the President has sloughed off that idea of colonization." 75 7" Dennet, op. cit., p. 203.
Page 184 The Mexican Envoy Visits Lincoln By ERNEST G. HILDNER, JR. T IS the wish of the President that you proceed to the place of residence of President-elect Lincoln and in the name of this government, and to make clear to him in an open manner, if opportunity offers, the desire which animates President Juarez, of entering into the most cordial relations with that government.... "9"1 As a result of these instructions, Matias Romero, in charge of the Mexican Legation in Washington, set out for Springfield, Illinois, on January 7, 1861, to pay a call on President-elect Lincoln.2 This visit would serve to introduce to Lincoln one of the most vexing problems in international relations to arise during his administration. Undoubtedly one of the chief considerations in arranging this early interview with Lincoln was to deepen an understanding or at least develop a sympathy with the Revolutionary movement and government in Mexico. It was believed on the part of the Mexican leaders that Lincoln was predisposed toward friendship, as his congressional record was well known and his attitude on Mexican policy had caused him political embarrassment, especially his speech to Congress of January 12, 1848. This had been designed to state the Whig position on the war and clear the way for the coming presidential campaign.3 It had been strongly antiadministration and as a result, pro-Mexican. Romero arrived in Springfield on the i8th and the next day called on Lincoln at his home. Here he informed Lin' Ocampo to Romero, Vera Cruz, December 22, 186o, Reservada, Numero 17, Archivo de Relationes Esteriores, Mexico, D.F., The Library of Congress, Microfilm, Legajo 7, Roll 8. 2 Romero to Minister of Foreign Relations, Washington, January 6, 1861, Reservada, Numero i, Ibid. 8 Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln 80og-9858 (Boston and New York, 1928), I, 424-427. 184
Page 185 ENVOY VISITS LINCOLN 185 coin of the object of his visit and produced a copy of his instructions in English. The two then entered into a discussion of current Mexican affairs. Romero explained fully the objects of the party of the Reform, showing that from the beginning of the republic, the clergy and the military had retained their privileged positions, regardless of the national well being. These elements were now being brought under control and equal opportunity offered to all citizens. The Mexicans had adopted the same principles as the United States and were delighted at the victory of the Republican Party, as this removed the fear of loss of territory at the hands of a Democratic administration controlled by the slave power. Mr. Lincoln maintained close attention during Romero's remarks and when he had concluded, declared in a vehement and explicit manner, that he hoped for peace and prosperity for Mexico and that during his government he hoped to remove all hindrances to that end. He also expressed the desire to settle all the questions pending between the two nations arising out of the recent war between them. Romero felt that Lincoln was most sympathetic towards Mexican problems since he offered to embody his sentiments in a letter for Romero's use. Lincoln questioned his visitor closely on conditions in his home country and was especially interested in the status of the peons, a group which he seemed to believe, lived in a state worse than that of the slaves on the southern plantations. The caller explained that conditions were not quite that bad, that they were contrary to law and that abuses would be corrected as soon as stable government was achieved. Two days later, January 21, Romero again visited Lincoln to take leave of him. No new matters were introduced as the interview took place in the presence of a number of other persons and Mr. Lincoln was quite occupied. The visitor himself felt that he had gone as far as his instructions indi
Page 186 i86 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY cated during the first call. In his opinion, the conference had been most rewarding and would prove helpful in forwarding Mexican interests. Romero concluded that Mr. Lincoln did not have a very clear picture of Mexican affairs and as a consequence he had taken pains to inform him regarding the causes of the difficulties which beset that nation. He stressed the point that the political diseases of Mexico needed and had received a radical cure. He flatteringly added that the now united nation was happy over the election of his host to the presidency of the United States and hoped that he would use his influence in favor of the present Mexican government. Romero was convinced that the new administration would be friendly, as the sentiments which Lincoln had expressed came from a man whom he judgred, "-sensible and honorable and his words bear the stamp of sincerity and not the pompous phrases, devoid of ideas., used by the persons educated in the school of false politics, who have the habit of offering much and giving little."2 While in Springfield, the envoy met the governor, members of the legislature, then in session, and other important state officials. To them all he conveyed the sympathy of Mexico for Republican principles and his personal hope for success in carrying them into operation. He made himself known in the hope that these men., friends of Lincoln, might use their influence with him in favor of the Mexican Government.*4 Romero left Springfield to return to Washington on January 22. just before his departure he sent Lincoln a note requesting the letter which had been promised setting forth Lincoln's sentiments on relations with Mexico." On his arrival in the national capital, February 2, he found the prom4 Romero to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chicago, Illinois, January 23, 1861, Reservada, Numero 2, Ibid. 11 Romero to Hon. A. Lincoln, Springfield, Ills., January 22, 1861, Ibid.
Page 187 ENVOY VISITS LINCOLN 187 ised letter awaiting him and immediately forwarded it, with a translation, to his home government. He excused the shortness of the note and its lack of specific commitments because of the pressure of other matters but was satisfied that it conveyed a favorable attitude toward Mexican affairs." On February 26, 1861, just before the inauguration of the Republican administration, Romero formally notified the State Department that the civil war in Mexico was at an end.7 From this time until late August he was busy keeping his superiors informed of the events accompanying the breakup of the Federal Union. An even more important task was the attempt to learn the designs of the newly formed Confederate States for acquisition of Mexican territory, Cuba or the Dominican Republic recently reoccupied by Spain. Likewise, he was active in trying to ferret out the intentions of the European powers with respect to intervention in Mexican affairs. As the United States was an interested party, Romero was frequently in consultation with William H. Seward on various aspects of policy with relation to both the Confederates and European intervention.8 The Secretary was an enigma to the envoy, and Romero was not happy in the negotiations which were under way. On July 17, 1861, the Mexican government ordered suspension of payment on the public debt, complicating an already complex situation. Romero and Seward continued their talks with little satisfaction on the part of the Mexican. "Romero to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, February 2, 1861, Reservada, Numero 3, enclosing a copy and a translation of Lincoln to Romero, Springfield, Illinois, January 21, 1861, Ibid. Lincoln's original letter is now in the Illinois State Historical Library. 7 Romero to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, February 28, 1861, Numero 29, enclosing the acknowledgment of J. S. Black, Secretary of State, of the same date, loc. cit. "Accounts of the negotiations of the period can be found in various places. See J. Fred Rippy, The United States and Mexico (New York, 1926), Chapters 13 and 14. Also Ralph Roeder, Juarez and His Mexico (New York, 1947), I, 366-37o, and passim.
Page 188 188 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY One ray of hope sustained him in these trying days. On August 20, because the Secretary was out of the city, Romero had an interview with Lincoln concerning the proposed intervention of the European powers. In this talk he emphasized the similarity of the Liberal party in Mexico to the Republicans in the United States, each seeking the well-being of the nation and its' inhabitants. Opposed to this program was the Reactionary party made up of those who sought only their own self-interest and who wished to establish either an aristocratic or monarchical form of government. In order to carry out their schemes they had enlisted the sympathy of European governments., desiring them to intervene in Mexican affairs. France was especially active in putting obstacles in the path of the Liberal party and showed marked preference for the reactionaries, over whom they exercised an overwhelming influence. Due to internal difficulties the decree of July 17 had been issued furnishing a cause for armed European intervention. Now the interests of the two governments were identical as a result of the activities of the agents of France and England in Northern Mexico, blocking the transfer of troops from California to Arizona by way of Guaymas, for which his government was willing to give permission. Lincoln listened attentively and then replied that Mr. Corwin (United States Minister to Mexico) had informed his government to the same effect. Romero was also told that the president and his cabinet considered their affair of profound and transcendent importance and gave Mr. Corwin's dispatches preference over all other foreign affairs. It was hoped that a squadron could be sent to prevent the intervention. Lincoln assured Romero that the proper orders would be drawn by Seward, but he was afraid that the United States had no power to spare at such a time. Other matters were touched upon and Romero recalled the friendly disposition
Page 189 ENVOY VISITS LINCOLN 189 Lincoln had shown toward Mexico, no doubt referring to the visit in Springfield.' This would seem to be the last visit that the representative of the Mexican nation had with the weary, war-burdened president, although he continued in Washington into the next administration, working vigorously and successfully for aid in the expulsion of the hated foreigner from Mexican soil. SRomero to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, August 21, 1861, Reservada, Numero 32, loc. cit.
Page 190 Lincoln Publications Books VINNIE REAM AND MR. LINCOLN. By Freeman H. Hubbard. New York: Whittlessey House, 1949. 271 pp. $2-75. This is the story of ten years in the life of Vinnie Ream Hoxie, the sculptress, written in the form of a novel for readers of highschool years. At the age of fifteen Vinnie lives in Washington with her family, is employed as a clerk in the Post Office, and is able to realize her ambitions to model in clay through a friendship with the sculptor Clark Mills, who instructs and encourages her. She undertakes a bust of Lincoln which she completes during a number of appointments with the president in his office at noon hour. The final sitting occurs a short time before his assassination. The bust is instrumental in securing a commission from Congress for a full-length marble statue of Lincoln for the Rotunda of the Capitol, at a fee of $Io,ooo. Vinnie is then nineteen. The story would be unbelievable were it not true. Mr. Hubbard writes simply and competently and fills in his background with vivid pictures of Washington in wartime, and with exciting incidents behind the lines in neighboring Virginia. It is a pleasure to be able to call attention in the Quarterly from time to time to thoughtfully planned, interesting and well written books for younger readers; and since the dividing line between books for readers of teen-age and their elders is a shifting and accommodating one, it is quite possible that many of the elders might enjoy Vinnie Ream and Mr. Lincoln also. G.W.B., Jr. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A HISTORY. By John G. Nicolay and John Hay. New York: The Century Company, 1890. 10 vols. $35.00. Five hundred sets of Nicolay and Hay's Lincoln have been bound for sale at the original publication price. The publisher announces that since plates no longer exist these sets are the last available. Anyone whose working library does not contain this indispensable work may wish to avail himself of the opportunity. 190
Page 191 LINCOLN PUBLICATIONS 191 Brochures, Pamphlets, Etc. NEW SALEM VILLAGE, Photographic Views and Brief Historical Sketch of New Salem State Park, Lincoln's New Salem, Illinois. By Fern Nance Pond. Ira E. Owen: Petersburg, Illinois, 1938, 1950. [16 pp.] 250. The eighth edition of a neat little brochure familiar to visitors at New Salem and to students of Lincoln. THE AGELESS LINCOLN, A Lincoln Day Address on "The Worth of Personal Effort." By Robert L. Kincaid. Reprinted from Vital Speeches of the Day, March 1, 1950. Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tennessee. [8 pp.] A notable Lincoln address delivered before the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, Lafayette, Indiana, February 12, 1950. THE SAGE OF LION'S DEN, a Review and Rejoinder. By William H. Townsend. Reprinted from the Lincoln Herald, December, 1949, Vol. 51, No. 4. Lincoln Memorial University: Harrogate, Tennessee. 4 PP. "FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS..." [By Charles Brower.] Batten, Barton, Durstine Sc Osborn, Incorporated, New York. [10 pp.] FIFTY-FIRST ANNUAL LINCOLN BIRTHDAY SERVICE. The Grand Army Hall and Memorial Association, Chicago, Illinois, February 13, 1950. i6 pp. EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION. Facsimile. National Archives, Washington, D. C. 5 pp (121/2 x 191/2). $i.oo. Facsimile No. 16 in a series of historic documents published in facsimile in order to meet the demand for copies of documents important in American history at a lower cost than individual photoprints. A Brady photograph of Lincoln from the negative in the records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer is No. 5 in the series and is priced at twenty cents. A price list of the series may be procured from the Exhibits and Publications Officer, National Archives, Washington 25, D. C.
Page 192 192 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY LINCOLN... One Hundred Years Later. By H. T. Morgan. 37 pp. Privately distributed. A Lincoln's collector's "modest tribute to 'the world's gentlest memory,' " this attractive looseleaf brochure contains facsimiles, excerpts from Lincoln, and excerpts from the correspondence of Mr. Morgan and fellow collectors concerning Lincoln memorabilia. The latter convey succinctly the passion of the devotee for his quest.
Page 193 News and Comment Arrangements have been concluded with the Rutgers University Press to publish The Writings of Abraham Lincoln in twelve volumes. Publication date has not been definitely set, but plans are now to make February 12, 1952, the day for celebration. Approximately fifty per cent more material will be included in the Writings than appears in the Complete Works and the supplementary collections by Tracy, Angle, Tarbell, and Hertz. This estimate is based upon the fact that additions have run to that percentage in the manuscript completed to date, covering the period of the first five volumes of the Complete Works (1905). The portion still to be assembled promises approximately the same average. Announcement has been made by Rutgers that P. J. Conkwright of Princeton, nationally known book designer who designed The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, will also handle the Writings. This is a matter of considerable gratification to the editors of the Writings and should be welcomed by members of the Association. The contemplated list price for the twelve volumes is one hundred and twenty-five dollars. Whatever the list price may be, for the benefit of members of the Association a prepublication price at a figure lower than list will be made well in advance of publication, so that all those who have supported and awaited completion of our greatest single effort will have an opportunity to benefit therefrom. As soon as details have been worked out, each member will receive notice by mail. Now is the time for any last minute responses to our repeated requests for information concerning Lincoln documents in the possession of members, or known to members as existing in outof-the-way places. If you have acquired additional documents but have not communicated the fact, please do so at once. If you have learned of existing documents but have not communicated with us, please send us the data. Our efforts to locate every private and public owner of Lincoln autographs have been as extensive as time and money could make them, but inevitably we shall miss items which are not reported to us. 193
Page 194 194 ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUARTERLY Alfred A. Knopf has announced a one volume life of Lincoln by Benjamin P. Thomas, to be published in 1953. The announcement will be welcome to Lincoln students. A modern one volume life is badly needed. Newton C. Farr of Chicago, co-chairman of the citizens' committee which is raising funds to purchase the Oliver R. Barrett Collection of Abraham Lincoln material for the State of Illinois has announced the appointment of Frank Gingrich as executive director. Mr. Gingrich will assist a committee of citizens headed by Mr. Farr and co-chairman Dr. David L. Owen, President of Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, in raising $220,000 to purchase the Barrett Lincoln Collection which will be given to the Illinois State Historical Library at Springfield. Mr. Gingrich, former manager of the Agriculture-Industry Relations program of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, has established headquarters at 160 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago. The Barrett Lincoln Collection Fund Committee, in addition to the co-chairmen, are: Honorary Chairman, Adlai E. Stevenson, Governor of Illinois; George W. Bunn, Jr., Springfield; Alfred W. Stern, Chicago; Dr. Karl A. Meyer, Chicago; Carl Sandburg, Flat Rock, North Carolina; Irving Dilliard, Collinsville; Paul M. Angle, Chicago; John H. Hauberg, Rock Island; William H. Avery, Chicago; J. Edward Day, Springfield; Benjamin P. Thomas, Springfield; David V. Felts, Decatur; Dr. Clarence P. McClelland, Jacksonville; Maurice R. Needham, Chicago; Scerial Thompson, Harrisburg. Contributors DAVID QUENTIN VOIGT is currently studying at Columbia University. "President Lincoln and Editor Bennett" is the outgrowth of his master's thesis written under the direction of Dr. David Donald. WARREN A. BECK is a member of the department of history in Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. ERNEST G. HILDNER, JR., is Dean of Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois.
Page 196 R. R. DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY, CHICAGO AND CRAWFORDSVILLE, INDIANA
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