I Therefore Withdraw My Name~September 1864~the 17th

I, Therefore, Withdraw My Name ~ John C Fremont.

A day of politics. In response to the candidacy of McClellan, Fremont withdraws from the race for president. George Whitman writes that McClellan is not popular with the army. George Templeton Strong regrets that Secretary of War Stanton is part of Lincoln’s Cabinet. Frederick Douglass clarifies his political views. Sherman writes to his wife and to President Lincoln. Southern women confide in their diaries.

John C Fremont

John C Fremont

September 17–Saturday–Nahant, Massachusetts– “I would certainly prefer that the American people could be brought to a vote on the several propositions peculiar to the Cleveland platform. The right of asylum– the one-term policy – the direct vote of the people for their national chief magistrate – the Monroe doctrine – the confining exclusive to the representatives of the people in Congress the reconstruction of States – and the amendment of the Federal Constitution to prohibit Slavery, – are principles of primary magnitude and importance. But before all these is our country. It is menaced by rebellion. Loyal armies alone protect it. Should those armies retreat, and our protection be withdrawn; or should they advance, and our safety be established? Shall there be peace through the concessions of politicians, or peace through the action of war? Peace and division, or war and the Union. Other alternative there is none. And, as I still am of the mind that once led me to the field with the soldiers of the Republic, I cannot now hold a position, which, by dividing, hazards the success of all those who, whatever their differences at other points, agree, as upon the question of first consequence, that the restoration of the Union cannot be effected without the uninterrupted continuation of the war. I, therefore, withdraw my name from the Cleveland ticket.” ~ Letter of John Fremont withdrawing as a candidate for president. [While remaining critical of President Lincoln, Fremont, age 50, fears that McClellan will yield too much to the South for peace at almost any cost and worries that McClellan will allow slavery to be restored to its antebellum position. Fremont dies July 13, 1890.]

September 17– Saturday– New York City– “It’s certainly hard to vote for sustaining an Administration of which Stanton is a member. He is a ruffian and will always abuse the power of his great place to purposes of arbitrary, vindictive tyranny. . . . the part he would play if he dared is that of Doctor Francia, dictator of Paraguay, or of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror. Still it is a plain duty to uphold Lincoln, even with this millstone round his neck, as against the Chicago platform, McClellan and Pendleton.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

Edwin M Stanton, Secretary of War

Edwin M Stanton, Secretary of War

September 17– Saturday– Waterboro, New York– “I take the liberty of addressing you at the request of my cousin Milton S. Roberts, at whose home I am making a brief visit. He would not have delayed writing until this late hour, but he has not been well & did not feel in the mood of writing, & and under such circumstances did not think his letters would be very interesting. He has spoken a great many times to his friends how very very kind you were to him, & I assure you Mr. Whitman those kind attentions will never be forgotten. I hope that you may long be spared to do good among our sick & wounded soldiers, who indeed must feel very grateful to meet with such a friend as my cousin represents yourself to be. Kind words which cost nothing will often cheer their drooping spirits & as it sure give them new life and courage. My cousin seems to be gaining slowly, & his friends does not think him strong enough to return for two or three weeks. . . . Mr. Whitman we all thank you more than words can express for your kindness to Milton.” ~ Letter from Lizzie H. Smith to Walt Whitman.

William Lloyd Garrison, founding editor of the radical paper THE LIBERATOR

William Lloyd Garrison, founding editor of the radical paper THE LIBERATOR

September 17– Saturday– Rochester, New York– “You were pleased to remark in the last number of The Liberator . . . that the secessionist newspapers in Great Britain are publishing with exultation a letter recently addressed by Mr. Douglass to an English correspondent, and you further favor your readers with an extract from the same letter, which criticizes in plain terms the policy of the present administration towards the colored people of the country. I am sure you will allow me space in the columns of The Liberator (not to qualify, not to take back any charge, statement, or argument contained in that letter, not even to find fault with its publication, here or elsewhere, though it was flung off in haste, and was not written for publication, but for the eyes of the esteemed friend to whom it was addressed) to remove an inference respecting my present political course, which may possibly and will probably be drawn from the extract in question. In the first place, it is proper to state that the letter was not written recently, as you mistakenly allege, but three months ago, and was in no wise intended to be used against the present administration in the canvass and issues as now made up between the great parties and especially by the disloyal and slavery perpetuating nominations placed before the country by the Chicago convention. Since the date of those nominations, we are met by a new state of facts, and new considerations have arisen to guide and control the political action of all those who are animated by a sincere desire to see justice, liberty and peace permanently established in this rebellion and slavery cursed land. While there was, or seemed to be, the slightest possibility of securing the nomination and election of a man to the Presidency of more decided anti-slavery convictions and a firmer faith in the immediate necessity and practicability of justice and equality for all men, than have been exhibited in the policy of the present administration, I, like many other radical men, freely criticized, in private and in public, the actions and utterances of Mr. Lincoln, and withheld from him my support. That possibility is now no longer conceivable; it is now plain that this country is to be governed or misgoverned during the next four years, either by the Republican Party represented in the person of Abraham Lincoln, or by the (miscalled) Democratic Party, represented by George B. McClellan. With this alternative clearly before us, all hesitation ought to cease, and every man who wishes well to the slave and to the country should at once rally with all the warmth and earnestness of his nature to the support of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and to the utter defeat and political annihilation of McClellan and Pendleton; for the election of the latter, with their well known antecedents, declared sentiments, and the policy avowed in the Chicago platform, would be the heaviest calamity of these years of war and blood, since it would upon the instant sacrifice and wantonly cast away everything valuable, purchased so dearly by the precious blood of our brave sons and brothers on the battlefield for the perfect liberty and permanent peace of a common country. Let me say one other word. I would never give unintentionally the slightest joy to the enemies of human liberty. My rule is to do that least that they like most, and that most that they like least. But nothing strange has happened to me in the said exultation over my words by the secessionist newspapers in Great Britain or elsewhere. The common example of those who do not go at all, playing off those who go farthest against those who go, but do not go fast and far enough, is but repeated in this exultation; and if I mistake not, in other days, there were often utterances of The Liberator itself, both on the eve and in the middle of the Presidential campaigns, which caused even greater exultation among the known enemies of liberty against timid, shortsighted and trimming anti-slavery men in the high places of the country, than anything I ever wrote concerning Mr. Lincoln and his administration could produce.” ~ Letter from Frederick Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison. [Garrison publishes this letter in The Liberator of Friday September 23.]

Frederick Douglass on the speaker's platform

Frederick Douglass on the speaker’s platform

September 17– Saturday– near the Weldon Railroad, Virginia– “Here we are yet in the same place, and everything goes on just the same as when I last wrote. We have been expecting a big fight here, but so far we have been disappointed, We have a very strong position and are having pretty good easy times. I rather think Lee has about made up his mind that this Rail Road is a gone case, but if he thinks he can drive us away I wish he would pitch in, as we are all prepared for him, and I would about as soon fight it out on this line as any other, and if they will only attack us here it will suit us first rate. Recruits have been coming to this Army pretty fast lately and I think Grant will soon have force enough for another movement. . . . I received yesterday a map and newspaper from home, the last letter I got was from Walt and dated September 8th . . . . I suppose Mother, you have considerable excitement in Brooklyn now about election, as far as I can see Little Mac [General McClellan, the Democratic candidate for president] is not very popular in the Army, and I don’t think he has the least show to be elected.” ~ Letter from Union soldier George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

September 17– Saturday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “I have been sick all day. Took too much laudanum. Have sat up very little. Dr. Dwyer came from his home . . . this morn, dined, took tea and stayed all night here.” ~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman

September 17– Saturday– Atlanta, Georgia– “I have had some sharp correspondence with Hood about expelling the poor families of a brave people, which correspondence in due time will become public, and I take the ground that Atlanta is a conquered place and I propose to use it purely for our own military purposes which are inconsistent with its habitation by the families of a brave people. I am shipping them all, and by next Wednesday the town will be a real military town with no women boring me every order I give. Hood no doubt thought he would make capital out of the barbarity, etc., but I rather think he will change his mind before he is done.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to his wife Ellen.

General Sherman

General Sherman

September 17– Saturday– Atlanta, Georgia– “I will keep the [War] Department fully advised of all developments as connected with the subject in which you feel so interested. A Mr Wright, former member of Congress from Rome Georgia and a Mr King of Marietta are now going between Governor Brown and myself. I have said that some of the people of Georgia are now engaged in rebellion began in error and perpetrated in pride; but that Georgia can now save herself form the devastation of War preparing for her only by withdrawing her quota out of the Confederate Army, and aiding me to repel Hood from the border of the State; in which event instead of desolating the land, as we progress I will keep our men to the high roads and commons, and pay for the corn and meat we need and take. I am fully conscious of the delicate nature of such assertions, but it would be a magnificent stroke of policy, if I could without wasting a foot of ground or of principle arouse the latent enmity to Jeff Davis, of Georgia.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to President Lincoln.

September 17– Saturday– Augusta, Georgia– “How I do wish this war was over. I wish to breathe free. I feel pent up, confined, cramped. Never have I so fully realized the feeble hold upon this world’s goods as I do now. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed that peculiarly charming season the Indian Summer more than I have during the past few weeks. I imagine this contrasted with men clad in Yankee uniform rudely violating the privacy of my home. I imagine the booming of Yankee cannon and the clash of Yankee sabers and I ask myself how soon shall this thing be? Nor does it require an imaginative mind to foretell such an event but the last page of my Journal must bear no such cowardly record. I have sometimes doubted on the subject of slavery. I have seen so many of its evils chief among which is the terribly demoralizing influence upon our men and boys but of late I have become convinced the Negro as a race is better off with us as he has been than if he were made free, but I am by no means so sure that we would not gain by his having his freedom given him.” ~ Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.

Walter Savage Landor

Walter Savage Landor

September 17– Saturday– Florence, Italy– English poet Walter Savage Landor dies at 89 years of age.

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