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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Whitney, Henry C. 'Henry C. Whitney (Statement for William H. Herndon)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: history]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon647b.html


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-- 649 --

homemade buggy & rawboned horse enforced this belief. This Court was a very small & not very dignified one: and Lincoln had scarcely any business but was in fine spirits & full of stories which he told in and out of court: and Kept it lively for us: on Oct. 25th he delivered in a dingy, dirty court house: lit with a few tallow candles the famous "Peoria" speech: and I marked him then — and correctly as it seems — as one of the greatest men on Earth: He towered way up majestically above all other men I ever saw: I have never heard that speech equalled before or since except by Lincoln himself.

On March 5th or immediately thereafter (I think it was after 5th) 1861. I called at the White House with a young friend of both of us to procure for him a small clerkship. It was about noon, and we were soon admitted, altho' a large crowd was waiting for admission. The President was sitting before a fire in the fire place, very gloomy and dejected. He received us cordially, but abstractedly: and in reply to my request, said wearily: "Just let Jim wait a little: don't press anything now: I am much annoyed about something that has just happened: Davis, with that way of making a man do a thing whether he wants to or not made me appoint Williams [2] Judge in Kansas and John Jones in the State department: and I've got a hat full of dispatches already from Kansas cheifly: protesting against it, and asking if I was going to fill up all the offices from Illinois."

Not long after the inauguration Davis went with Lawrence Weldon to the White House: and demanded that he should be appointed District Attorney for Southern Illinois, and it was done. It was largely at Davis' importunity that Caleb Smith was appointed to a cabinet position and William P. Dole as Commissioner of Indian affairs: he failed, however, to get either himself or his cousin, Henry Winter Davis, in the cabinet. In appointing Judge Davis on the Supreme bench; he did no more than common gratitude demanded: for to Davis more than to any other man, he owed his nomination. I think Lincoln rather too hard on the "Davis" family in his interview with Thurlow Weed, as appears in the autobiography of the latter. [3]

I don't Know whether or not you want to correct errors in your book: but a great many creep into biography: I note some I think of: Father Chiniquy (the recusant Catholic Priest) recently writes [4] that he was a great friend of Lincoln — that Lincoln was his lawyer — & that Lincoln told him a lot of sickly sentimality about his destiny &c. that was not like Lincoln and I doubt if it ever happened: but it is true Lincoln was his lawyer in one case in Champaign "Spink v. Chiniquy for slander: [5] We tried the case twice & got a jury to try it a third time when
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Whitney, Henry C. 'Henry C. Whitney (Statement for William H. Herndon)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: history]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon647b.html
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