NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Wilson, Robert L. 'Robert L. Wilson 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=herndon201.html


Previous page

Next page

-- 207 --

such as ought not to be made, and they knew, and their importunities were urgent in proportion to the unfitness for the appointee: he said he was so badgered with applications for appointments that he thought sometimes that the only way that he could escape from them would be to take a rope and hang himself, on one of the trees in the lawn south of the Presidents House, [1] looking out at the trees through the window at the same time.

I was with him one day in his office; parties were coming in, and doing business with him; he would send a card to the Department with which the business was being transacted. I remarked to him this reminds me of the office of the Justice of the Peace. Yes, says he, but it is hardly as respectable; he then went on to say that when he first commenced doing the duties, he was entirely ignorant not only of the duties, but of the manner of doing the business, he said he was like the Justice of the Peace, who would often speak of the first case he had ever tried, and called it, his "great first case least understood."

The night after the first Bull Run Battle, accompanied by Mr. Hanchett, M.P. from Wisconsin, and Mr McInder now a member, and the Successor of Mr Hanchett, now deceased, called at the White House to get the news from Manassass — as it was called. After having failed to obtain any information at Mr Seward's, and other places where we had sought it. The excitement was intense. Stragglers were coming in; but knew nothing except there had been a great fight, and they had made their escape, but did not know that any one else was so lucky. Messengers were coming in, bearing dispatches to the President, and Secretary of War, but outsiders knew nothing, but rumors, and no two agreed. We having arrived there, were told that Mr Lincoln was at the Secretary of War's office. We started for that place, but met parties who had just come from there, and said there was a great crowd around the building, but outsiders knew nothing. We sat down to rest, and while we were sitting. Mr Lincoln accompanied by Mr Nickolay, his private Secretary came along: and being the only one acquainted with Mr Lincoln, it was proposed that I should join the party, and ask of him the news. I did so. He said, it was contrary to Army Regulations to give military information to parties not in military service. I said to him then, I don't ask for the news, but you tell me the quality of the news, — is it good, or is it bad. Placing his mouth near my ear he said in a sharp, shrill voice, "damned bad". This is the only time I ever heard Mr Lincoln use profane language — if indeed it was in that connection profane. When I became fully acquainted with the details of the fight, I became satisfied that, used at that time, and in qualification of the nature of the news, that no other word would have conveyed the true meaning of the word bad.

The labor caused by the breaking out of the war at the commencement of his Administration, imposed on him more work than one man could do. He adopted no hours for business, but did business at all hours, rising early in the morning, and retiring late at night, making appointments at very early, and very late hours. He never had any time for rest and recuperation.

Previous page

Next page


Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Wilson, Robert L. 'Robert L. Wilson 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=herndon201.html
Powered by PhiloLogic