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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Wilder, Daniel W. 'Daniel W. Wilder 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=herndon418.html


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-- 419 --

Nebraska. In March '65, at the same solicitation, he removed me. (Mark W. Delahay, of Leavenworth, my predecessor in office, ought to give you many facts in regard to Mr. L., but he is a very diffuse writer & not famous for hard sense. He corresponded much with Lincoln during the war.)

The cause of Lane's opposition and my removal was my going against his reelection as U.S. Senator — a record with which I am well pleased — his vote on the Civil Rights bill &c. showing just what he was.

Mr. Lincoln Knew Lane well even when I first saw him ('59) and it is one of the most surprising of his many contradictions of character that he should have taken into his confidence a man whom he Knew was utterly rotten, heartless and corrupt. I believe Lane dispensed more patronage than any other western Senator, and some of it corruptly. Still, when the re-nomination came along, Lane was for Chase (without Lincoln's Knowledge, I suppose) until about Feb'y '64 when he wrote me a letter that it was time to come out openly (in the paper) for Lincoln. Lincoln was not my first choice; I preferred somebody more radical. Lane simply wanted the man who was to win — and for the sake of the spoils.

Wm P. Dole of Indiana is another man (and a bad one too, I believe,) who had much to do with Lincoln. For a long time he had an exclusive back-stairs entrance to the White House and intrigued for himself (in thieving Indian contracts) and for Lane. Cale Smith (dead) was another Indian contract jobber, yet Mr. Lincoln made him U.S. Judge afterwards. Millions of money were dispensed in Kansas & the story connected with it would be a strange one — could it ever come to light, as it never will. The orthodox ministers who make Mr. Lincoln a part of the Godhead (you told me he was not Orthodox when I was in Springfield, but inclined to our own Theodore Parker {in writing his life, as I wish you had, you would have had no contradictions to reconcile} — a fact he bravely concealed while President) would be terribly shocked could they Know that Mr. Lincoln was the most adroit of the political schemers of his day. Thurlow Weed was not a fractional quarter section to Lincoln's township. [1]

From all this don't understand (as I Know you will not understand) that I do not appreciate that part of Mr. Lincoln's morality which sometimes made him an Apostle and a Prophet. I remember all those words and acts and Know that no other American President — not Washington — Ever approached them in sublimity. When Lincoln wrote to the Copperheads he used to tell them that he was following, not leading, the people. There must have been a twinkle in his eye when he wrote those things, for, though the Radicals led him, he was, by those very words, converting and leading Copperheads. It was "strategy, my boy."

By the way, Lincoln's greatest speech, Gettysburg, has two ideas — self-consecration and a "government of the people, for the people and by the people." This last is word for word from Theodore Parker (unconsciously, of course, to Lincoln at the time, his mind having assimilatied it) and you must give him the credit for
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Wilder, Daniel W. 'Daniel W. Wilder 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=herndon418.html
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