Indications of Presidential Aspirations~February, 1864~1st to 4th

Indications of Presidential Aspirations ~ Gideon Welles

It’s an election year and politics are increasing on the minds of people. Lincoln issues a new draft call, orders provision for the return of disillusioned black emigres and sends condolences to a king. A radical abolitionist draws a lecture hall crowd. The debate about a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery begins to stir in the press. Devastation and shooting scraps abound in the South. War erupts in Europe as two big powers pick on a little country.

Abraham_Lincoln

February– Boston, Massachusetts– The February issue of Atlantic Monthly contains, among other things, “My Brother and I” by John Townsend Trowbridge, “House and Home Papers” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The Convulsionists of St. Medard” by Robert Dale Owen, “Presence” by Alice Cary, “Glacial Period” by Professor Louis Agassiz, “The Last Charge” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr and “Northern Invasions” by Edward Everett Hale.

February 1– Monday– New York City– “The Metropolitan Fair becomes interesting. Its administration brings up a great ethical question: is raffling sinful? The Standing Committee of the Sanitary Commission discussed it fully ten days ago and decided to advise the managers of the Fair to exclude and prohibit raffling. I acquiesced, not very heartily, for it seemed to me that there was more fuss about the matter than it deserved.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 1–Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Ordered, That a draft for 500,000 men, to serve for three years or during the war, be made on the 10th day of March next for the military service of the United States, crediting and deducting therefrom so many as may have been enlisted or drafted into the service prior to the 1st day of March and not heretofore credited.” ~ Executive order by President Lincoln.

February 1–Monday– Washington, D.C.– “You are directed to have a transport (either a steam or sailing vessel, as may be deemed proper by the Quartermaster-General) sent to the colored colony established by the United States at the island of Vache, on the coast of San Domingo, to bring back to this country such of the colonists there as desire to return. You will have the transport furnished with suitable supplies for that purpose, and detail an officer of the Quartermaster’s Department, who, under special instructions to be given, shall have charge of the business. The colonists will be brought to Washington, unless otherwise hereafter directed, and be employed and provided for at the camps for colored persons around that city. Those only will be brought from the island who desire to return, and their effects will be brought with them.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

February 1– Monday– Havana, Cuba– A correspondent for the New York Times notes that “The harbor . . . was enlivened, last week, by the presence of several foreign war vessels, in addition to the Spanish ones that are stationed here, and a deal of powder has been consequently wasted in the Interchange of the usual naval salutes.” The visiting warships were Russian and British.

February 1– Monday– Eider River, Denmark– An army of 57,000 Austrian and Prussian troops cross into Danish territory, beginning war with Denmark.

Austrian forces attack the Danes

Austrian forces attack the Danes

February 1– Monday– Grahamstown, South Africa– David Hume, an explorer and big-game hunter born in Scotland, dies at the age of 66.

February 2– Tuesday– New York City– “We trust that no amendments whatever will be made to the Constitution, and that nothing like a general movement will be made in favor of any. We do not believe that any are needed, or that the great object of all constitutions and of all laws – good government– would be promoted by any that could be made or devised. We know no subject of practical importance to the well-being of the American people that is not embraced in the provisions of the Constitution, or that is not treated more wisely than it would probably be treated by the men of this generation. All that we need is that the authority of the Constitution shall be maintained, and that the spirit which pervades it shall continue to animate and control the great body of the people whose welfare it is intended to promote. We do not believe the people desire or will consent to any change, either in its substance or its language.” ~ New York Times responds to various discussions and proposals about amending the Constitution, particularly an amendment to ban slavery.

February 2– Tuesday– New York City– Miss Anna Dickinson lectures at Cooper Union to an overflow crowd. A reporter describes the event: “Miss Dickinson was simply and neatly dressed in black. She came forward with merely a small slip of paper in her hand with the head-notes of her lecture upon it, and referred to it, very seldom. The lecture was nearly the same as that delivered in Washington. At the end of a remark asserting for the utter removal of Slavery, she said: ‘You can afford to cheer that, for Mr. Lincoln cheered it at Washington,’ a remark which called out great laughter. The last portion of her lecture was made up to a great extent, of allegorical comparisons and illustrations from incidents in the war and in history, in favor of her. In her appeal to young men to enlist, she recited the story of the Roman youth who saved Rome by leaping into the yawning chasm. Miss Dickinson retired amid applause.” [Dickinson, age 21, born in Philadelphia, befriended by Lucretia Mott and William Lloyd Garrison, is an out-spoken abolitionist and brilliant speaker who has already gone on record in support of Mr Lincoln’s re-election.]

 

Anna Dickinson

Anna Dickinson

February 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have read with feelings of profound sorrow your Majesty’s letter of the 5th December last announcing the death on the 30th of the preceding month, of His Majesty, your Brother, Kamehameha IV, and conveying also the pleasing intelligence of your Majesty’s constitutional succession to the Throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom. . . . It is gratifying to know that His Majesty’s place on the Throne and in the hearts of the Hawaiian people is occupied by one who was allied to him by the closest ties of blood, and by a long participation in the affairs of the Kingdom. . . . Your Majesty may ever firmly rely upon my sincere sympathy and cordial support and upon the abiding friendship of the people of the United States in the execution of the lofty mission entrusted to you by Providence. Commending your Majesty, and the bereaved Widow and People of the late King to the Fatherly protection and comfort of the Almighty, I remain Your Majesty’s Good Friend.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to King Kamehameha V, the new ruler of the Hawaiian Islands.

the new King of Hawaii

the new King of Hawaii

February 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I suppose you got a letter from me Saturday last. I am well as usual there has been several hundred sick soldiers brought in here yesterday. I have been around among them to-day all day– it is enough to make one heart-sick, the old times over again– they are many of them mere wrecks, though young men (sickness is worse in some respects than wounds) one boy about 16, from Portland, Maine, only came from home a month ago, a recruit, he is here now, very sick & downhearted, poor child, he is a real country boy, I think has consumption he was only a week with his regiment. I sat with him a long time. I saw [it] did him great good. I have been feeding some their dinners– it makes me feel quite proud, I find so frequently I can do with the men what no one else at all can, getting them to eat, (some that will not touch their food otherwise, nor for any body else)– it is sometimes quite affecting I can tell you. I found such a case to-day, a soldier with throat disease, very bad. I fed him quite a dinner– the men, his comrades around, just stared in wonder, & one of them told me afterwards that he (the sick man) had not eat so much at a meal, in three months. Mother, I shall have my hands pretty full now for a while– write all about things home. “~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

February 2– Tuesday– Gale’s Creek, North Carolina; La Grange, Tennessee; Whitesburg, Alabama; Strasburg, Virginia, Halcolm Island, Missouri– Skirmishes and fire fights.

February 2– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– Union warships destroy a British ship which refuses to stop and attempts to run the blockade into the harbor.

February 2– Tuesday– Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa– Johannes Henricus Brand, lawyer and politician, age 40, is inaugurated as the fourth president.

the new President of the Orange Free State

the new President of the Orange Free State

February 3– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Almost daily we have some indications of Presidential aspirations and incipient operations for the campaign. The President does not conceal the interest he takes, and yet I perceive nothing unfair or intrusive. He is sometimes, but not often, deceived by heartless intriguers who impose upon him. Some appointments have been secured by mischievous men, which would never have been made had he known the facts. In some respects he is a singular man and not fully understood. He has great sagacity and shrewdness, but sometimes his assertion or management is astray. When he relies on his own right intentions and good common sense, he is strongest.” ~ Gideon Welles in his diary evaluates President Lincoln.

February 4– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The fences are all burned down; the apple, the pear and the plum trees burned in ashes long ago, the torch applied to thousands of splendid mansions, the walls of which alone remain, and even this is seldom so, and where it is, their smooth plaster is covered with vulgar epithets and immoral diatribes. John Smith and Jo Doe, Federate and Confederate warriors, have left jack knife stereotyping on the doors and casings, where these, in their fewness, are preserved. The rickets and the railings—where are they? Where are the rose bushes and the violets? But above all, and beyond all, and dearer and more than all else—where, or where, are the once happy and contented people fled who lived and breathed and had their being here? Where are the rosy cheeked cherubs and blue eyed maidens gone? Where are the gallant young men? Where are all—where are any of them? But where are they gone—this once happy and contented people? The young men are sleeping in their graves at Shiloh, at Corinth, at Fort Donelson, and other fields of so-called glory. The young women have died of grief or are broken hearted; the children are orphans. Poor little things, I pity them from my heart as look at them—black and white—for they seem to have shared a common fate, and like dying in a common destiny. Their lives—I mean the master and slave, and their offspring—seem to have been inseparably blended. In many cases I found two or three white children, whose parents were dead, left to the mercies of the faithful slaves; and again, I have seen a large number of little Negro children, whose parents were likewise dead, nestled in the bosom of some white families, who, by a miracle, were saved from the vandalism of war.” ~ In the Traveler a visitor describes what he saw on his recent journey through Tennessee.

February 4– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the 26th ultimo, requesting ‘a copy of all the correspondence between the authorities of the United States and the rebel authorities on the exchange of prisoners, and the different propositions connected with that subject,’ I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of War and the papers with which it is accompanied.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

February 4– Thursday– Brandy Station, Virginia– “Reverend J Wheaton Smith . . . of Philadelphia . . . . lectured on his travels to the Holy Land. The men were delighted with the new departure. The religious interest still continues and we hope for good results from our labors.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 4– Thursday– Liverpool Heights, Mississippi; Moorefield, West Virginia; Mountain Fork, Arkansas; La Grange, Tennessee; Bolton Depot, Mississippi; Columbia, Louisiana; Champion’s Hill, Mississippi; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Edward’s Ferry, Mississippi; Rolling Prairie, Arkansas– Ambushes, fire fights, skirmishes and armed brawls.

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