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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Sweet, Leonard. 'Leonard Swett 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=herndon162.html


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-- 164 --

He was much more eager for it, than he was for the first one, and yet from the first he discouraged all efforts on the part of his friends to obtain it. From the middle of his first term, all his adversaries were busily at work for themselves. Chase had three, or four secret societies, and an immense patronage extending all over the country; Fremont was constantly at work; yet Lincoln would never do anything either to hinder them, or to help himself.

He was considered too conservative, and his adversaries were trying to outstrip him in satisfying the radical element. I had a conversation with him upon this subject in October in 1863, and tried to induce him to recommend in his annual message, the consitutional amendment abolishing slavery. I told him was not very radical, but I believed the result of this war would be the extermination of slavery; that Congress would pass the resolution; and that it was proper at that time to be done. I told him if he took that stand, it was an outside position and no one could maintain himself upon any measure more radical, and if he failed to take the position, his rivals would. Turning to me suddenly he said, "Is not that question doing well enough now?" I replied that it was. "Well", said he, "I have never done an official act with a view to promote my own personal aggrandizement, and I don't like to begin now, I can see that time coming; whoever can wait for it, will see it — whoever stands in its way, will be run over by it."

His rivals were using money profusely; Journals and influences were being subsidized against him. I accidentally learned that a Washington newspaper through a purchase of the establishment was to be turned against him, and consulted him about taking steps to prevent it. The only thing I could get him to say, was, that he would regret to see the paper turned against him. Whatever was done had to be done without his knowledge. Bennett with his paper you know is a power. [4] The old fellow wanted to be noticed by Lincoln, and he wanted to support him. A friend of his who was certainly in his secrets (it came out through a woman when a Frenchman would say, "Who is she?") [5] came over to Washington and intimated if Lincoln would invite Bennett to come over and chat with him, his paper would be all right. Bennett wanted nothing, He simply wanted to be noticed. Lincoln in talking about N. said, "I understand N. Bennett has made a great deal of money, some say not very properly; now he wants me to make him respectable. I have never invited Mr. Bennett or Mr. Greely here — I shall not therefore, especially Mr. Bennett."

All Lincoln would say was, that he was receiving everybody and he should receive Mr. Bennett if he came. Notwithstanding his entire inaction, he never for a moment doubted his second nomination. One time in his room disputing with him as to who his real friends were; he told me if I would not show it, he would make a list of how the Senate stood. When he got through, I pointed out some five, or six that I told him I knew he was mistaken in. Said he, "You may think so, but you keep that until the Convention and tell me then whether I was right." He
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Sweet, Leonard. 'Leonard Swett 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=herndon162.html
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