July ~ Election Year 1864

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President Lincoln keeps busy dealing with political opposition, inaction in Congress and problems with his Cabinet. Journalist and activist Horace Greeley fails in his personal effort to negotiate peace with the Confederacy. General Grant’s siege of Richmond/Petersburg area continues while General Sherman makes slow, steady progress in capturing Atlanta.

July 1– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At most any other time, the repeal by Congress of the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850 would be the theme of general comment. But it comes now as a matter of course. The signature of the President, perfectly certain, is now all that is needed to make the repeal a law.” ~ The Liberator.

July 1–Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln appoints William Pitt Fessenden, Senator from Maine, as Secretary of the Treasury. Fessenden, age 57, a lawyer, politician and financier, has served in the Senate since 1854. [He will serve only until March 3, 1865, when he will return to the Senate, having restored the U S Treasury to a relatively sound condition. Lincoln describes him as “a Radical without the petulant and vicious fretfulness of many Radicals.” He dies in Portland, Maine on September 8, 1869, five weeks before his 63rd birthday.]

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July 2–Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The last business day of the session, and many of the Members have gone home already. Much is done and omitted to be done during the last hours of Congress. Members do wrong in abandoning their post at these important periods, and no one who does it should be trusted. I am told by the members of our naval committees that all naval matters are rightly done up in the two houses, but I discredit it. Some matters will be lost, and hurried legislation is always attended with errors.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

July 2– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 6th ultimo, requesting information upon the subject of the African slave trade, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the papers by which it was accompanied.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

July 5– Tuesday– New York City– Editor Horace Greeley, age 53, a critic of President Lincoln and advocating peace with the South, receives a letter from friends in Canada, asserting that Confederate representatives are available to discuss peace terms. Greeley in turn urges Lincoln to negotiate.

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Horace Greeley

 

July 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Telegrams this a.m. inform us that the pirate Alabama was sunk on the 19th of June off Cherbourg by the steamer Kearsarge, Commodore Winslow, after a fight of one hour and a half. Informed the President and Cabinet of the tidings, which was a matter of general congratulation and rejoicing. . . . The President appeared more constrained and formal than usual.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

July 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws, do hereby declare that in my judgment the public safety especially requires that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, so proclaimed in the said proclamation of the 15th of September, 1863, be made effectual and be duly enforced in and throughout the said State of Kentucky, and that martial law be for the present established therein. I do therefore hereby require of the military officers in the said State that the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus be effectually suspended within the said State, according to the aforesaid proclamation, and that martial law be established therein, to take effect from the date of this proclamation, the said suspension and establishment of martial law to continue until this proclamation shall be revoked or modified, but not beyond the period when the said rebellion shall have been suppressed or come to an end. And I do hereby require and command as well all military officers as all civil officers and authorities existing or found within the said State of Kentucky to take notice of this proclamation and to give full effect to the same. The martial law herein proclaimed and the things in that respect herein ordered will not be deemed or taken to interfere with the holding of lawful elections, or with the proceedings of the constitutional legislature of Kentucky, or with the administration of justice in the courts of law existing therein between citizens of the United States in suits or proceedings which do not affect the military operations or the constituted authorities of the Government of the United States.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

July 5– Tuesday– Roswell, Georgia– Federal cavalry under the command of General Kenner Garrard arrives to find the bridge across the Chattahoochee River had been burned by withdrawing Confederate soldiers. Garrard orders his troopers to commence burning all the mills and industrial buildings in town. According to his report, one of the cotton mills destroyed today contained over one million dollars worth of machinery and employed four-hundred workers.

July 6– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– “Received dispatches to-day from Captain Winslow of the Kearsarge relative to sinking the Alabama. Wrote congratulatory letter. There is great rejoicing throughout the country over this success, which is universally and justly conceded a triumph over England as well as over the Rebels. . . . Our large smooth-bore guns, the Dahlgrens, have been ridiculed and denounced by the enemies of the Navy Department, but the swift destruction of the Alabama is now imputed to the great guns which tore her in pieces.”~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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USS Kearsarge

 

July 7– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, cordially concurring with the Congress of the United States in the penitential and pious sentiments expressed in the aforesaid resolution and heartily approving of the devotional design and purpose thereof, do hereby appoint the first Thursday of August next to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of national humiliation and prayer.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln

July 8– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln vetoes the Wade-Davis reconstruction bill.

July 9– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “If you can find any person, anywhere, professing to have any proposition of Jefferson Davis in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of slavery, whatever else it embraces, say to him he may come to me with you; and that if he really brings such proposition, he shall at the least have safe conduct with the paper (and without publicity, if he chooses) to the point where you shall have to meet him. The same if there be two or more persons.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Horace Greeley.

July 12– Washington, D.C.– “I suppose you received my letter of the 9th. I have just received yours . . . and am disappointed by it. I was not expecting you to send me a letter, but to bring me a man, or men.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Horace Greeley.

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July 12– Tuesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “What sufferings have been occasioned by this sad, useless war– how much happier would we all be had not the political demagogues North and South been permitted to force this war upon a happy, prosperous people.” ~ Diary of William King.

July 15– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The passage of the bill by Congress which takes from the States formally declared to be in rebellion the right to participate in the next Presidential election will reduce the votes in the electoral college to be chosen next November to two hundred and forty-one. The States thus excluded are Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida– eleven in all, comprising eighty-nine electoral votes, were they in a condition to cast them. Three territories have been authorized to form State governments, but none of them will have time to do so in season to vote at the next Presidential election, and one of them (Nebraska) has already declined this tender of the privilege of becoming a State.” ~ The Liberator.

July 18– Monday– Niagra Falls, New York– Horace Greeley arrives to attempt peace negotiations.

July 18– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln calls for a half million more volunteers, in large part because of the large number of casualties suffered in Virginia and Georgia.

July 18– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with James R. Gilmore to discuss peace. Gilmore, age 42, a Massachusetts-born businessman, had made a secret trip, with Lincoln’s permission, to meet with President Davis in Richmond. However, he reports that the Confederacy demands recognition of its independence and the continuance of slavery. After the meeting Lincoln issues this announcement: “Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on other substantial and collateral points; and the bearer or bearers thereof shall have safe conduct both ways.” This effectively ends Horace Greeley’s efforts at peace talks.

July 22– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Copperheads seem to neglect a great argument which might be used against Mr. Lincoln. It is from a recent speech of Hon. J. L. M. Curry, the Secession leader of Alabama. ‘Should Lincoln be re-elected,’ says Mr. Curry, ‘our fond hopes will be dashed to the ground.’ This is an argument the Copperheads neglect to use.” ~ The Liberator.

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July 22– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “At the Cabinet-meeting the President read his correspondence with Horace Greeley on the subject of peace propositions from George Saunders and others at Niagara Falls. The President has acquitted himself very well– if he was to engage in the matter at all– but I am sorry that he permits himself, in this irregular way, to be induced to engage in correspondence with irresponsible parties like Saunders and Clay or scheming busybodies like Greeley. . . . Greeley is one of those who has done and is doing great harm and injustice in this matter. In this instance he was evidently anxious to thrust himself forward as an actor, and yet when once engaged he began to be alarmed; he failed to honestly and frankly communicate the President’s first letters, as was his duty, but sent a letter of his own, which was not true and correct, and found himself involved in the meshes of his own frail net.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

July 23– Saturday– New York City– “I will not let myself doubt the final issue. What further humiliation and disaster, public and private, we must suffer before we reach the end, God only knows; but this shabbiest and basest of rebellions cannot be destined to triumph.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

July 24– Sunday– Mansfield, Ohio– “We all feel that upon Grant and you, and the armies under your command, the fate of this country depends. If you are successful, it is ardently hoped that peace may soon follow with a restored union. If you fail, the wisest can hope for nothing but a long train of disasters and the strife of factious.” ~ Letter from Senator John Sherman to his brother General William Tecumseh Sherman.

July 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “We expect to await your program for further changes and promotions in your army. My profoundest thanks to you and your whole army for the present campaign so far.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to General William Tecumseh Sherman.

July 28– Thursday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “As to our situation here, you are doubtless well informed. My own feeling has always been confident, and it is now hopeful. If Mr. Lincoln is re-chosen, I think the war will soon be over. If not, there will be attempts at negotiation, during which the rebels will recover breath, and then war again with more chances in their favor. Just now everything looks well. The real campaign is clearly in Georgia, and Grant has skillfully turned all eyes to Virginia by taking the command there in person. Sherman is a very able man, in dead earnest, and with a more powerful army than that of Virginia. It is true that the mercantile classes are longing for peace, but I believe the people are more firm than ever. So far as I can see, the opposition to Mr. Lincoln is both selfish and factious, but it is much in favor of the right side that the Democratic party have literally not so much as a single plank of principle to float on, and the sea runs high. They don’t know what they are in favor of – hardly what they think it safe to be against. And I doubt if they will gain much by going into an election on negatives. I attach some importance to the peace negotiation at Niagara (ludicrous as it was) as an indication of despair on the part of the rebels . . . . Don’t be alarmed about Washington. The noise made about it by the Copperheads is enough to show there is nothing dangerous in any rebel movements in that direction. I have no doubt that Washington is as safe as Vienna. What the Fremont defection may accomplish I can’t say, but I have little fear from it. Its strength lies solely among our German Radicals, the most impracticable of mankind. If our population had been as homogeneous as during the Revolutionary war, our troubles would have been over in a year. All our foreign trading population have no fatherland but the till, and have done their best to destroy our credit. All our snobs, too, are Secesh.” ~ Letter from James Russell Lowell to his friend John Lothrop Motley, American Minister to the Austrian Empire.

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James Russell Lowell

 

July 29– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “‘A Bridge from Slavery to Freedom’ is the title of an able speech (printed in pamphlet form) delivered by Honorable Charles Sumner, in the United States Senate, on the bill to establish a Bureau of Freedmen, June 13th, 14th and 15th, 1864.” ~ The Liberator.

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