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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Whitney, Henry C. 'Henry C. Whitney 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=herndon616.html


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-- 619 --

Robert L. Wilson — one of the long nine
and two or three utter nonentities from interior counties in Illinois.
Geo Phelps — an utter nobody from Fulton Co.

I was in Washington in the Indian service for a few days before August and I merely said to Lincoln one day — "Everything is drifting into the war & I guess you will have to put me in the army." He said "I'm making Generals now & in a few days I will be making Quartermasters & I'll then fix you." — That was all that was ever said between Lincoln & me or anyone else on that subject. Wilson went to Lincoln and frankly said "Lincoln I have come on to secure the office of Paymaster in the Army: you know its in the line of business as Clerk and my son is excellent at accounts & I wish to make him my clerk." — Lincoln made no reply but cast his eyes down to the floor as if in the greatest mental distress & was silent for about 2 minutes. Wilson told me he was almost on the point of leaving the room & going home: but Lincoln turned the conversation on other matters & made no reply at all.

Edwards was assured tacitly at least that he should have the office. Now — on August 6th 1861. I got a N. Y. Herald & in it read the appointments of myself and all the above except Bell & my own appointment To Victor Bell he simply gave a letter to Yates [12] asking him to Commission Bell as Captain of a volunteer regiment: and you doubtless know that Lincoln went to the Adj. Regts. office and struck off Edwards name after he had made it. The reason he gave Edwards was that he had already appointed Dr Wallace [13] & fault would be found with him if should appoint — brothers in law. But before Edwards found it out he had given a paymaster bond with Dickey & Mc Clernand [14] on it.

Think of this. Two of the appointees were utterly worthless & I could just as well have been given & satisfied with a lesser place. & What meant his performance with Wilson.


Again. Ben. James (then of Chicago & formerly of Tremont) & W. O. Stoddard of Champaign — both wrote Lincoln stating they wanted to be Private Secretary. They both told me that Lincoln entertained with favor the idea of appointing one but not wishing to offend the other, he concluded to keep Nicolay: This may or may not be so: but how do you account for his failure to insist on your filling that closely confidential relation instead of the nobody he did take?


And how do you Explain his earnest desire to take into his Cabinet Judd a comparative stranger to him instead of his earnest friend Davis.


On the subject of Davis: let me give you two points.

1st. on March 5th 1861. I saw Lincoln & requested him to appoint Jim Somess (of Champaign) to a small clerkship. Lincoln was very impatient & said abruptly
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Whitney, Henry C. 'Henry C. Whitney 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=herndon616.html
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