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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Speed, Joshua F. 'Joshua F. Speed 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=herndon156.html


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-- 157 --

As soon as I entered the room the President remarked that he desired to see me after he was through giving audiences and that if I had nothing to do I could take the Papers and amuse myself till he was ready.

In the room when I entered I observed two ladies in humble attire — sitting across the fire place from where the President sat — modestly waiting their turn — One after another came & went, each and all of them bent on their own business — Some satisfied, and others grumbling — The hour had now come to close the door to all visitors. No one was left in the room except myself the two women & the President —

With rather a peevish & fretful air he turned to them and said "Well ladies what can I do for you?

They both commenced to speak at once From what they said he soon learned that one was the wife and the other Mother of two men imprisoned for resisting the draft in Western Pensylvania —

Stop said he — dont say any more — Give me your petition — The old lady responded — Mr Lincoln — weve got no petition — we couldnt write one, and had no money to pay for writing one — I thought it best to come & see you — Oh said he — Dont say any thing more I understand your cases — He rang his bell & ordered one of the Messengirs to tell Genl Dana [1] to bring him the names of all the men in prison for resisting the Draft in Western Pensylvania — The Genl soon came with the list — He inquired if there was any [difference?] in the charges or degrees of guilt The General replied that he knew of none.

"Well said he these fellows have suffered long enough and I have thought so for some time and now that mind is on it, I believe I will turn out the flock" — So draw up the order General and let me sign it — It was done & the General left the room — Turning then to these women he said "now ladies you can go — "

The young woman ran forward & was about to kneel in thankfulness — Get up he said dont kneel to me — thank God & go.

The old woman came forward with tears in her eyes to say Good bye — good bye said she Mr Lincoln — I shall never see you again till we meet in Heaven —

She had the Presidents hand in hers — He instantly took her right hand in both of his and following her to the door & said I am afraid with all my troubles I shall never get there — But if I do I will find you — That you wish me to get there is the best wish you could make for me — good bye —

We were alone — I said to him — Lincoln with my knowledge of your nervous sesibility it is a wonder that such scenes as this dont kill you — I am said he very unwell — my feet & hands are always cold — I suppose I ought to be in bed —

But things of that sort dont hurt me — For to tell you the truth — that scene which you witnessed is the only thing I have done to day which has given me any pleasure — I have in that made two people happy — That old lady was no counterfeit — The Mother spoke out in all the features of her face — It is more than we can often say that in doing right we have made two people happy in one day —

"Speed die when I may I want it said of me by those who know me best to say
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Speed, Joshua F. 'Joshua F. Speed 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=herndon156.html
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