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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; McPherson, Edward. 'Edward McPherson to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon229.html


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169. Edward McPherson to William H. Herndon.

Washington, D.C., Mch 13, 1866

My dear Sir —

On inquiry yesterday, I ascertained that Mr Bancroft's oration on Mr Lincoln [1] will not be issued under 6 weeks or two months. He is adding notes, & a steel Engraving of Mr. L. is being prepared. The manuscript is still in Mr. B's hands. — We have, this week, the criticism of the London Times, [1] which you anticipated in yr. last. —

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In the sentence you quote from Mr B's oration as to Mr Lincoln's unsteady supervision of affairs, &c., sometimes confusing things by sudden interferences, &c. I supposed Mr. B referred to occasional practice of Mr L. issuing a direct order on a given subject to the executing officer, & not through the dept to which the officer was immediatedly responsible; &, as a result, an officer sometimes found himself addressed by contradictory orders, & the history of the case became confused, as well as the action of the officer unsettled. Sometimes — in special cases — Mr L. set aside rules established by himself or with his approval, & without notice to the dept; &, occasionally, on being remonstrated with, revoked his action, when satisfied of its irregularity, or dangerous tendency. I think, his personal feelings sometimes swerved him from a necessary adherence to rule; & I believe it is true that, on points on which the Prest was weak, the admn of affairs was thereby made unsteady. — I have so understood. Of course, these were mere details, & never struck a principle. — On a great principle, he was immovable; yet on details affecting it, he was capable of being reasoned with & of taking reverse steps. A striking illustration was, in his consent given when at Richmond for the reassembling of the rebel Va legislature, subsequently revoked, on coming to Washn, & being satisfied that it was a mistaken privilege which cd be abused to the injury of the Govt. [3] — I know, he held back many hours, but at last revoked the consent. Mr Lincoln grew prodigiously during his term, in intellect, skill, & general administrative ability. — Yet I do not believe he ever became a first class executive officer. — He was rather too cautiously deliberate to succeed in that special line. I have reports of two of yr Addresses — not the third. [4] Can you send it? I hope you are pressing on with yr book — I will send a copy of Mr Bancroft's Oration as soon as printed.

Very truly Yrs
Ewd. McPherson

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2521 — 22

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; McPherson, Edward. 'Edward McPherson to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon229.html
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