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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Davis, David. 'David Davis (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon349.html


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242. David Davis (William H. Herndon Interview).

Sept 20th Contd.

The democrats name I spoke about was Joseph E. McDonald Indianapolis — Joseph E. McDonald — good man — is true — .

As to the Press I told Lincoln, telegraphed him that the suppression of the Times Chicago was an error. Lincoln was too good a lawyer to know that this proceeding was Constitutional. The Vanlandingham [1] was an Error — the decision an outrage — and I should have so decided. Lincoln told me in Connexion with this, that he verily believed that Some of his men and officers did things to get him into trouble & difficulty — &c. Schenck's[ERROR: no link 2:2] Conduct as well as others.

Lincolns Statesmanship adherence to principle: he studied where the truth of a thing lay and so acted on his conviction: bent his whole soul to that idea and End. He looked far into the future and was philosophical truly scintific in his inductions — wherein was his forte —

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I informed Lincoln that the [Military?] trials as above Spoken of Could not Stand the test of Law and Constitution as I thought — and Said. [3] Lincoln was not a well read Man — read no histories — novels. — biographies &c — Studied Euclid — the Exact Sciences — His mind struggled to arrive at moral & physical — Mathematical demonstration. He Studied the Latin Grammar on the Circuit. He had a good mechanical mind and Knowledge. He never Complained of any food — nor beds — nor lodgings — He once Said at a table — "Well — in the absence of anything to Eat I will jump into this Cabbage. He hated drunkenness: Mr. Lincoln had unsurpassed reasoning powers — his Logical faculties were great: He reasoned from his own mind — his nature — and reflection rather than by. His analogy was great — his Comparison. When he believed his Client was oppressed — such as the Wright Case [4] he was terrific in denunciation — had no Mercy. Remember the Jessie B. Thomas Case [5] — Speech — Terrible — This was in 1840 —

Lincoln could bear no malice — nor could Thomas. Thos wrote to L. "Lincoln said I am sorry that I made that Thomas Speech."

Lincoln loved Clay — see Hollands life: [6] it is all false. He did not go for Clay because he Knew Clay Couldn't be Elected: he told me so: he loved & adored Clay — I Know this — all other Statements are unmittegated lie — Lincoln never visited Clay.

As a lawyer when he attacked Meanness & littleness — vice & fraud — he was most powerful — was merciless in his Catigation —

When Lincoln was Elected as Presdt he swore in his soul he would act justly: he said he intended to appoint democrats & Republicans alike — that the Republican payto [7] Composite — made up of all parties associations &c — Justice was Lincolns leading characteristic, modified by mercy — when possible.

Lincoln was a Man of strong passion for woman — his Conscience Kept him from seduction — this saved many — many a woman.

Lincoln was peculiar man. McWilliams [8] was a low vulgar man — yet Lincoln loved sharp — witty things — loved jokes &c and Lincoln atatched himself to this poor unfortunate Creature — This is how Lincoln happened to draw to him Some of his low vulgar & unscrupulous Men. It was wit & joke meeting & loving wit & Jokes — not the man for the men. Lincoln used these men merely to whistle off sadness — gloom & unhappiness. He loved their intellects. minds and felt sorry

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for their failings — and sympathised with them — He used such men as a tool — a thing to satisfy him — to feed his desires &c. McWilliams came up to Lincoln one day, and Said — "By ging Lincoln I don't intend to belong to any party in which I do myself & friends any good and to do no harm to any one Else. Lincoln said Good McWilliams — good — good.

The meanest man in the bar would always pay great deference & respect to Lincoln —

He never took advantage of a mans low character to prejudice the Jury. Mr Lincoln though that his duty to his client Extended to what was honorable and high minded — just and noble — nothing further —

Lincoln shrank from Controversy as a general rule. — hated quarrell — hated to say hard & sharp thing of any man and never Stept beyond this Except that his duty — his honor or obligations — principles demanded it

Lincoln had no power of organization — thought he had no administrative ability till he went to Washington. A man when forced to do Can do more than he or his friends dream of. & had administrative and Executive ability — to a certain degree — more than any man dreamed of.

He was Slow to form his Opinions — he was deliberate — Cool & demanded the light of all the facts Surrounding the Case — When he formed his opinions he was firm, Especially about questions of justice — principle — &c.&c.&c —

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2660 — 63, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2659; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:48 — 52

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Davis, David. 'David Davis (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon349.html
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