Thursday, August 27, 2020

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln that was used as a campaign badge (buttons) during the 1860 presidential election.

This ambrotype shows a bust portrait of Abraham Lincoln with no beard. The image is based on a photograph of Lincoln taken by Mathew B. Brady on February 27, 1860. At this time, Lincoln was in New York City to give an address at Cooper Union sponsored by the Young Men's Central Republican Union of New York on the 27th of February. This organization held numerous speeches by prospective candidates for the Republican Party's Presidential nomination. Lincoln made a case for banning slavery in all new U.S. territories while leaving it in the exiting fifteen southern states. This moderate position speech can be seen as the beginning of his successful presidential campaign.
Used as a campaign badge during the 1860 Presidential election, the ambrotype is made of collodion emulsion on a glass plate. It was originally housed in an oval brass frame and pinned to one's clothing to show support for Lincoln's candidacy. The ambrotype was later housed in this union photographic case made of a dark brown thermoplastic, called Gutta Percha, which is formed under heat into fancy patterns. The front and back of the case have a diagonal crisscrossed pattern inside a nonpareil border surrounded by a scroll design. The information about the use as a campaign badge rests on the existence of two cards inside the case behind the ambrotype. The first card reads: "A.F Clough, Ambrotypic Artist Warren, N.H." The second card, oval-shaped and orange-colored, reads: "For President. Hon. Abraham Lincoln. Manufactured by Geo. Clark, Jr. & Co., Ambrotype Artists No. 59 Court Street Boston."

From The Henry Ford Collections.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

An Interesting Incident with President Lincoln Signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

The roll containing the Emancipation Proclamation was taken to Mr. Lincoln at noon on the first day of January 1863, by Secretary Seward and his son Frederick. As it lay unrolled before him, Mr. Lincoln took a pen, dipped it in ink, moved his hand to the place for the signature, held it a moment, and then removed his hand and dropped the pen. After a little hesitation, he again took up the pen and went through the same movement as before. Mr. Lincoln then turned to Mr. Seward and said:
"I have been shaking hands since nine o'clock this morning, and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the Proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, 'He hesitated.'" 
He then turned to the table, took up the pen again, and slowly, firmly signed Abraham Lincoln, with which the whole world is now familiar. He then looked up, smiled, and said: "That will do?"



Transcript of Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President


WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State






Friday, August 21, 2020

A Humorous Speech — Lincoln in the Black Hawk War.

The friends of General Lewis Cass, when that gentleman was a candidate for the presidency[1], endeavored to endow him with a military reputation. Mr. Lincoln, at that time a representative in Congress (1847-1849), delivered a speech before the House, which, in its allusions to General Cass, was exquisitely sarcastic and irresistibly humorous:

"By the way, Mr. Speaker," said Mr. Lincoln, "do you know I am a military hero? Yes, sir, in the days of the Black Hawk War [1832], I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of General Cass's career reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's Defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass to Hull's surrender, and like him, I saw the place very soon afterward. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion. If General Cass went in advance of me in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry."

23 Year Old, Illinois Militia,
Captain Abraham Lincoln,
Black Hawk War, 1832.
Mr. Lincoln concluded by saying if he ever turned democrat and should run for the Presidency, he hoped they would not make fun of him by attempting to make him a military hero! 


[1] In the 1848 presidential campaign, Lewis Cass was the Democratic nominee but was defeated by the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor.

President Lincoln's Philosophies were Democratic. When and Why the Democratic and Republican Parties Switched Platforms.

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY
The Democratic-Republican Party is the earliest political party in the United States.
The title of "Democrat" has its beginnings in the South, going back to the founding of the Democratic-Republican Party in 1791 by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It held to small-government principles and distrusted the national government. Foreign policy was a major issue.
Democratic-Republican Party
After being the dominant party in U.S. politics from 1800 to 1828, the Democratic-Republicans split into two factions in 1828: the Federalist National Republicans, and the Jacksonians Democrats. Jacksonianism appears as a political impulse tied to slavery, the subjugation of Indians, and the celebration of white supremacy—so much so that scholars have dismissed the phrase “Jacksonian Democracy” as a contradiction in terms.

The Whig Party was a political party formed in 1834 by opponents of President Andrew Jackson and his Jacksonian Democrats, launching the ‘two-party system.' Led by Henry Clay, the name “Whigs” was derived from the English antimonarchist party and was an attempt to portray President  Jackson as "King Andrew." Whigs tended to be wealthy and have an aristocratic background. Most Whigs were based in New England and in New York. While Jacksonian Democrats painted the Whigs as the party of the aristocracy, they managed to win support from diverse economic groups and elect two presidents: William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. The other two Whig presidents, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore gained office as Vice Presidents next in the line of succession.

Early Whig Party Campaign Poster.
The Democrats and Whigs were evenly balanced in the 1830s and 1840s, however, by 1854, the Whig party disbanded. Other opposition parties emerged but the Democrats were dominant.

Northern Democrats were in serious opposition to Southern Democrats on the issue of slavery. Northern Democrats, led by Stephen Douglas, believed in Popular Sovereignty—letting the people of the territories vote on slavery. The Southern Democrats (known as "Dixiecrats"), reflecting the views of the late John C. Calhoun, insisted slavery was national.

The Democrats controlled the national government from 1852 until 1860, and Presidents Pierce and Buchanan were friendly to Southern interests. In the North, the newly formed anti-slavery Republican Party came to power and dominated the electoral college. In the 1860 presidential election, the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, but the divide among Democrats led to the nomination of two candidates: John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky represented Southern Democrats, and Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois represented Northern Democrats. Nevertheless, the Republicans had a majority of the electoral vote regardless of how the opposition split or joined together, and Abraham Lincoln was elected.

WHY THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTIES SWITCHED PHILOSOPHIES
The National Union Party (1864–1865), the temporary name used by the Republican Party, was created by the merger of the Republican Party, Unionist Party, War Democrats.
After 1865, Republicans, who dominated northern states, orchestrated an ambitious expansion of federal power, helping to fund the transcontinental railroad, the state university system, and the settlement of the West by homesteaders, and instating a national currency and protective tariff. Democrats, who dominated the South, opposed these measures. After the Civil War, Republicans passed laws that granted protections for Negroes and advanced social justice; again, Democrats largely opposed these expansions of power.

Fast forward to 1936. Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt won reelection that year on the strength of the New Deal, a set of Depression-remedying reforms including regulation of financial institutions, the founding of welfare and pension programs, infrastructure development, and more. Roosevelt won in a landslide against Republican Alf Landon, who opposed these exercises of federal power.

So, sometime between the late 1860s and 1936, the Democratic party of small government became the party of big government, and the Republican party of big government became rhetorically committed to curbing federal power. How did this switch happen?

William Jennings Bryan Legendary "Octopus Poster" from the 1900 Campaign.
The transition to the parties' flipping may be contributed to the turn of the 20th century when a highly influential Democrat named William Jennings Bryan blurred party lines by emphasizing the government's role in ensuring social justice through expansions of federal power — traditionally, a Republican stance.

Republicans didn't immediately adopt the opposite position of favoring limited government. Instead, for a couple of decades, both parties are promising an augmented federal government devoted in various ways to the cause of social justice. Only gradually did Republican rhetoric drift to the counterarguments. The party's small-government platform cemented in the 1930s with its heated opposition to the New Deal.

But why did William Jennings Bryan and other turn-of-the-century Democrats start advocating for big government? Democrats, like Republicans, were trying to win the West. The admission of new western states to the union in the post-Civil War era created a new voting bloc, and both parties were vying for its attention.

Democrats seized upon a way of ingratiating themselves to western voters: Republican federal expansions in the 1860s and 1870s had turned out favorable to big businesses based in the northeast, such as banks, railroads, and manufacturers, while small-time farmers like those who had gone west received very little. Both parties tried to exploit the discontent this generated, by promising the little guy some of the federal largesse that had already gone to the business sector. From this point on, Democrats stuck with this stance — favoring federally funded social programs and benefits — while Republicans were gradually driven to the counterposition of hands-off government.

From a business perspective, the loyalties of the parties did not really switch. Although the rhetoric and to a degree the policies of the parties do switch places, their core supporters don't — which is to say, the Republicans remain, throughout, the party of bigger businesses; it's just that in the earlier era bigger businesses want bigger government and in the later era they don't.

In other words, earlier on, businesses needed things that only a bigger government could provide, such as infrastructure development, a currency, and tariffs. Once these things were in place, a small, hands-off government became better for business.

Abraham Lincoln, photograph by Gardner, 1865.
In conclusion, President Abraham Lincoln's political philosophy, today, would actually be democratic, not a republican.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Unfounded Quotes Attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

BOOKS, MEDIA, AND THE INTERNET ARE FULL OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S QUOTES THAT HE NEVER SAID. THE QUOTES BELOW CANNOT BE VERIFIED.
CLICK
"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

"God must love the common man, he made so many of them".

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."

"If I knew that I had eight hours to chop a tree down, I would spend the first six sharpening my axe."

"The best way to predict your future is to create it."

"The philosophy taught in the classroom in this generation will become the philosophy of the government in the next generation."

“When I have nowhere else to go, I fall upon my knees.”

"I am a slow walker but I never walk back."


"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion."

"Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it."

"Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them friends?" Or, "I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends."

"I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be."

"In the end, it is not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."

"I will prepare and some day my chance will come."

"A friend is someone who has the same enemies you have."

"Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle."

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."

"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."

"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"

"Whatever you are, be a good one."

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

"A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure."

"A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade."

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."

"The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people."

"No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child."

"No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens."

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."

"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have."

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."

"Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived."

"All that loves labor serves the nation. All that harms labor is treason to America."

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Lincoln is often credited with this saying. Lincoln allegedly said it in a speech in Clinton, Illinois, on September 2, 1858. In 1905 two newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and the Brooklyn Eagle gathered testimony to see if Lincoln really said it. The evidence was conflicting and dubious in some particulars. No contemporary accounts of this quote from the Clinton Illinois speech contain this utterance. However, tradition still attributes it to Lincoln, and it has remained a favorite in popular usage.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE LINKING THESE TEN CANNOTS PHRASES TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN AS THE AUTHOR:
You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

You cannot further brotherhood of men by inciting class hatred.

You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
By Roger J Norton
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Alexander Gardner's Finest 1863 Photograph of President Lincoln.

In mid-summer of 1863, both President Lincoln’s and the Union’s future were looking up. The twin victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July had dealt a serve blow to the Confederate war effort. Much of the initial opposition in the North to his early politics was beginning to melt away, and even his most ardent opponents were forced to admit that Lincoln was honest, patriotic, and moving the country forward. To escape the heat that summer, Mary Lincoln along with their children Robert and Tad decided to head north to the White Mountains of Vermont for an extended holiday. 

“Alone” in the White House, the President decided on Sunday, August 9th to pay a visit to the famed Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner, whose studio was located at the corner of 7th and D streets. Earlier that year Mr. Gardner had left the employ of Matthew Brady, who was considered one of the premier photographers in the country, to open his own photography studio. 
Signed carte-de-visite of Lincoln, as photographed by Alexander Gardner in 1863.
The President, accompanied by his assistant secretary John Hay, would pose that day for what has become one of the more iconic images associated with Mr. Lincoln’s Presidency. The photo shows the President seated in a three-quarter profile, his left arm resting on a table and holding a copy of the Washington Morning Chronicle, while his right hand, holding his spectacles, rests upon his leg. The President’s slight smile and a distant look in his eyes make it seems as though he is focusing upon some unseen goal. The clarity of Gardner’s image is so remarkable that a housefly that had landed on the President’s trousers is clearly visible. The image is attached to a gilt-ruled mount, and was boldly signed by the President beneath the image with his trademark “A. Lincoln.” 

“Four Score and Seven” Magazine Article
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

German Journalist, Henry Villard, and Abraham Lincoln's Relationship with Him.

HENRY VILLARD, FROM A PENNILESS IMMIGRANT TO THE JOURNALIST WHO COVERED ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Henry Villard
13 Years Old
Born in 1835 to an educated family in the German city of Speyer, Henry had more early advantages than most immigrants. His family was prosperous and well-connected. Politics would help to split the family. When the Liberal Revolution of 1848 began, Henry was only thirteen years of age. 

His father stayed loyal to the old aristocratic regime, but other relatives sympathized with the revolutionists. Henry expressed his views when he refused to pray for the King during a service at school. Facing expulsion for his disobedience, Henry’s conservative father saw him as a disgrace to his family.
The failed German Revolutions of 1848-1849 led to a large exodus of refugees.
Henry was later sent off to study technology at a polytechnic school in Munich. Without telling his father, he instead enrolled in the University of Munich in the literature and writing program. At the end of his term, the eighteen-year-old was confronted with the reality that he soon had to face his father with the news that he had deceived him. He took the money he had left and decided to immigrate to the United States in 1853. It was more appealing to risk death on the high seas than the wrath of his father.

Henry Villard wrote of his first day in America, after disembarking in New York:
“My landing upon American soil took place under anything but auspicious circumstances. I was utterly destitute of money, had but a limited supply of wearing apparel, and that not suited to the approaching cold season, and I literally did not know a single person in New York or elsewhere in the Eastern States to whom I could apply for help and counsel. To crown all, I could not speak a word of English."
Immigrants arriving in New York in the 1850s typically disembarked at South Street.
Like many newly arrived immigrants, Villard found lodging in the city’s German community, among people who spoke his language. “Our landlord was Max Weber, an ex-officer of the Baden army, who had emigrated in consequence of his participation in the revolutionary outbreak of 1849,” Villard recalled, “He afterward rose to prominence in the War of the Rebellion. Among his regular boarders were several political exiles. These two circumstances made [Weber’s house] a favorite resort of the German refugees then still numerous in New York. Almost every evening there was a gathering of them in the tap-room, where there were noisy political discussions in true German beer-house style. They dwelt upon the Fatherland as well as the United States, and I listened to them with intense interest.” Villard found that the refugees were intensely interested in American politics and society, although they often had little actual experience of the United States beyond the Hudson River.

Villard decided that as intriguing as New York City was, he wanted to see the world to the west:

“I left New York on November 19, with eighteen dollars in my pocket and all my other possessions in a large hand-bag. I had decided to go via Philadelphia and Pittsburg to Cincinnati. My reason for choosing this city as my destination was solely the fact, gathered from my guide-book, that it had a large German population, including a considerable percentage of Bavarians.”

As Villard continued to move across the country he sought out German refugees along the way. Some were warm and friendly, others seemed locked in thoughts of Germany and showed no interest in America. A few were bitterly disappointed by the reality of American democracy.

When Villard got to Chicago he was visited by a step-uncle who reconciled him with the parents Villard had abandoned back in Germany and invited him to Belleville, in St. Clair County, Illinois. Belleville, founded in 1814, was the largest city in Illinois with a population of 2,941 in 1850 (part of the St. Louis Metro Area today) in the southern part of the state at the Mississippi River. At the time, it was a growing center for German immigrants who arrived after the failed Revolution of 1848. The population would more than double between 1850 and 1860. By 1870, 90% of the people living in Belleville would be German immigrants and their children.
Villard placed himself under the care of his uncle Theodore, a Belleville farmer, and his wife. He had never met them before, and his sudden arrival at their home must have been a surprise to them. He remembered his uncle behaving stiffly towards him on their first encounter. As they came to know each other, his uncle and aunt, and their eight children provided a surrogate family for the teenaged Villard. He had difficulties with his own parents in Germany that he did not have here with his immigrant family. “I found myself in a family circle again,” Villard wrote in his Memoirs, “I now felt the softening, elevating influences of this sweet home-life, and a sense of inner peace and happiness awoke in me that I had not felt for years.”

Villard threw himself into farm work and “with these occupations in the daytime, and reading, games, and music in the evening — my aunt and the eldest daughter were very musical — time passed very quickly, and Christmas, 1854, was at hand before we knew it.” The immigrant family brought their Christmas customs from their homeland, “The observance of it was in true German style, with a great tree which the whole family helped to decorate, and there were presents for everybody.”

Belleville was not only home to German immigrants, but it was also a center of German culture in Southern Illinois. Its stores and businesses were modeled on those found in Germany. Villard later recalled the many German beer halls where the men met for an hour or two each week to socialize and talk politics. Villard wrote that “The town had but six or seven thousand inhabitants, and had no special external attractions except that it contained an almost purely German community. I was told that the population included only a few hundred native Americans. We hardly ever heard any English spoken. The business signs were almost exclusively in German.” The fact that it was so German led to its rapid growth; “this very German character of the place and the adjacent settlements made Belleville peculiarly attractive to people of that nationality.”

One of the leading figures of this community was Gustav Koerner. He was a man of the law in Germany who became a refugee following a failed uprising in 1833 that he participated in. Koerner resumed the practice of law in the United States, and took a “lively interest in politics.” He became active in the Democratic Party and “rendered valuable service as a party manager and effective speaker both in English and in German,” according to Villard.  American political parties routinely campaigned in English and German in those days. Villard charts Koerner’s amazing career:

“He was elected to both houses of the Legislature, made a circuit judge, and subsequently a member of the Supreme Court, and, finally, Lieutenant-Governor and ex officio President of the Senate. He was then holding that office. When the proslavery tendencies of his party became so pronounced under Presidents Pierce and Buchanan, he assisted in the formation of the Republican party, and remained one of its leaders till after the Civil War.”

Villard writes that Koerner was “intimately acquainted with Abraham Lincoln” and that he represented the U.S. during the Civil War in Madrid.

While Villard loved life in Belleville, he sought a bigger stage. He moved to Chicago in 1856, and that same year he joined the newly emerging anti-slavery party, the Republicans. The city was in the midst of a mayoral election. “I had no right to vote,” Villard tells us in his memoirs, “but that did not prevent me from enlisting as a violent partisan on the anti-Democratic side. The contest was fought directly over slavery.” There were rioting and street fighting at the polls as partisans of each side tried to obstruct their opponents from voting. When the pro-slavery Democrats won, Villard wrote that he “felt woefully depressed in spirit. It seemed to me almost as if the world would come to an end.”

That same year, the Territory of Kansas was becoming a place of conflict between pro- and anti-slavery forces. The territory would soon become a state and the Congress had decreed that the decision on whether slavery would be allowed there would be made by the people living in the territory. Abolitionists and slaveowners began to move to the state to give their side the most votes. Villard conceived a scheme:

“My project was nothing less than the forming of a society among the young Germans throughout the Northwest to secure a large tract of land in Kansas and settle the members upon it. The colony was to be, like the other Northern settlements, a vanguard of liberty, and to fight for free soil, if necessary. Of course, I aspired to be the head of the organization.”

Villard raised a lot of money in Chicago for the project, but not enough to start the colony. He decided to use some of the money to travel East on a fundraising swing through New York and Philadelphia. As his money ran low in he realized he had to abandon his dream. He also came to the grudging conclusion that his financial failure left him in an “awkward position.”

Villard was prevailed upon to take over a failing German-language newspaper in Racine. Wisconsin. A third of the people in the city of 12,000 was German and he thought the paper could succeed. It had been a Democratic Party paper and the Racine Republicans financed the purchase to turn it into a Republican outlet to the German immigrants they hoped to convert.

Most immigrants to the United States in the mid-1800s spoke languages other than English. Many lived and died in the U.S. without ever becoming fluent in English. They wanted to read news of their homelands and their adopted country in the languages they knew from birth. Newspapers in French, Dutch, German, and other languages abounded.

According to Leah Weinryb Grohsgal, the Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities and Coordinator of the National Digital Newspaper Program:

“The first German newspaper printed on American shores predated the Revolution by almost half a century!  In fact, the first foreign-language newspaper in the United States was in German—Die Philadelphische Zeitung, begun by Benjamin Franklin in 1732 in his Philadelphia printing shop…these newspapers were critical for maintaining German American identity.  For many German immigrants, the emphasis was on the first part of that identity—they were Germans first, and sought to become Americans without relinquishing their German-ness.  The group established a pattern that other immigrant groups followed later.  They came to America, settled into cultural enclaves, and constructed microcosms of their society in the new country.”

By 1860 there were an estimated 67 German newspapers just in the Old Northwest. Even Lincoln bought a German newspaper in Illinois to try to influence immigrant voters. Multilingual campaigning was an accepted part of American politics by every party except for the Know-Nothings.
In 1856 the new Republican Party ran the first major-party candidate who campaigned against slavery. John C. Fremont was a famous explorer and dashing military man. Although he lost the presidency, his candidacy established the viability of anti-slavery candidates.
When Villard took possession of the paper, he saw what a mess it was. “There was only an old-style hand press, on which six hundred copies could be printed in a working-day of twelve hours,” he wrote, “The appearance of the paper was indeed wretched, and its contents no better.” The readership itself was suspect. Villard reports that “There were nominally about three hundred and eighty names on the books, but a close examination proved that many of the rural subscribers had either not paid at all for years, or paid in farming produce — butter, eggs, chickens, potatoes, corn, and the like.”

Villard was editing one of only three German Republican newspapers in Wisconsin. There were more than twenty German Democratic papers arrayed against him in the state. The paper was particularly important because Villard published it during the Presidential Election of 1856, the first time a major party candidate, Republican John C. Freemont, ran on an explicitly anti-slavery platform. Villard’s job, he said, was “to persuade the local German voters to go with the Republican party.”

Villard was a practitioner of advocacy journalism. He became totally absorbed in the political campaign and particularly in the organization of immigrant voters. He took on the role of a campaigner to the German-speakers:

“I volunteered to organize a German wing of the local Republican club, and, although this was no easy task, owing to the stolid allegiance of my countrymen to the other party, I succeeded in working up the membership of nearly fifty from the smallest beginnings. We held frequent meetings, which gave me the long-desired opportunity to practice public speaking. I readily got over the first embarrassment, common to all beginners in that art, and acquired considerable fluency. I even addressed some gatherings of German voters especially brought together to listen to me. I was so much encouraged that I even ventured on two occasions on the bold experiment of speaking in English before general meetings of the Republican club.”

Villard’s growing popularity in Wisconsin brought him to the attention of a German paper in New York. He was soon hired as a Western political correspondent with the Neue Zeit, a progressive paper with a strong women’s rights focus. He was then hired as a contributor by the Staats-Zeitung in New York. This was a German paper of national renown, with the third-largest circulation of any newspaper in any language in New York City. In the male world of newspapers, it was unique in having a woman, Anna Uhl, at its helm. No figurehead, Anna Uhl “was the active business-manager” in Villard’s words. She sent him to cover the Lincoln Douglas Debates in 1858. His reporting there would endear him to Lincoln and make his career.


WHEN ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND STEPHEN DOUGLAS DEBATED HENRY VILLARD WAS THERE TO REPORT TO THE GERMAN COMMUNITY.
There were seven debates between Abe Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in the race for the Senate seat from Illinois.
Henry Villard first saw future president Abraham Lincoln at the August 27, 1858 debate in Freeport, Illinois. Both men were there because Lincoln was set to debate the leading national Democratic politician of the day, Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln was running against Douglas for the Senate seat for Illinois. The same pair would square off for the presidency two years later. Villard, who had immigrated from Germany as an eighteen-year-old just five years earlier, was a rising journalist who was working for the thriving German-language press in America. Soon he would become a correspondent for some of the most prominent English-language papers in the United States.

When he saw the previously unknown Lincoln for the first time, Villard thought that by his appearance “there was nothing in favor of Lincoln.” Lincoln was a “lean, lank, indescribably gawky figure, [with] an odd-featured, wrinkled, inexpressive, and altogether uncomely face,” he wrote. The urbane Villard remarked that when speaking, Lincoln “used singularly awkward, almost absurd up-and-down and sidewise movements of his body to give emphasis to his arguments.” Villard remembered later that Lincoln’s “voice was naturally good,” but Lincoln “frequently raised it to an unnatural pitch.”

These deficits of physical presentation would be serious impediments in a campaign that hinged on a series of debates between Lincoln and Douglas on slavery and the future of the country. Lincoln stood against the spread of slavery beyond those states where it already existed. Douglas argued that each new state admitted to the Union should be permitted to decide for itself whether it would be slave or free, whether blacks were people or property.
Lincoln followed Douglas from town to town in Illinois, challenging him at every stop to debate him. The better-known Douglas finally agreed to seven public debates.
Both Lincoln’s lack of training as a speaker and his odd appearance affected his performance in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and yet,” Villard wrote, “the unprejudiced mind felt at once that, while there was on the one side in Douglas a skillful dialectician and debater arguing a wrong and weak cause, there was on the other a thoroughly earnest and truthful man, inspired by sound convictions in consonance with the true spirit of American institutions.”

Villard met Lincoln at Freeport and would meet him “frequently afterward in the course of the campaign.” While put-off by Lincoln’s rural style, Villard wrote that Lincoln was “most approachable, good-natured, and full of wit and humor.” Some of Lincoln’s “humor” gave Villard doubts about the Illinois lawyer. “I could not take a real personal liking to the man,” Villard says, “owing to an inborn weakness for which he was even then notorious and so remained during his great public career. He was inordinately fond of jokes, anecdotes, and stories.”
Huge crowds turned out for the debates. Held in the summer and fall of 1858, each debate opened with a one-hour argument from one candidate, followed by a ninety-minute response from the other. Then the first speaker would have another thirty minutes to reply. Unlike modern presidential “debates” there were no questions from journalists, although audiences frequently yelled questions, comments, and insults to Lincoln and Douglas.
Lincoln’s habit of explaining every point with an earthy story made him popular among the ordinary folks of the countryside but drove his more educated listeners to distraction. Villard says that Lincoln loved to hear “funny stories, and still more to tell them himself out of the inexhaustible supply provided by his good memory and his fertile fancy.” While the jokes were often used by him as a way of communicating with farmers and workers, Villard believed that Lincoln loved them as much for the fun they gave him. He recalled that “the coarser the joke, the lower the anecdote, and the riskier the story, the more he enjoyed them, especially when they were of his own invention.” Even worse, from Villard’s perspective, Lincoln “possessed… a singular ingenuity in bringing about occasions in the conversation for indulgences of this kind.” In other words, he always tried to work-in a joke if he could.

Henry Villard, 1866
Villard traveled around following the campaigns. He attended four of the debates, six other speeches by Lincoln, and eight by his Douglas. This was arduous. “It was a very hot summer,” he remembered, “and I was obliged to travel almost continuously.” Illinois had was still fairly undeveloped beyond Chicago and Villard said he traveled over “poorly constructed railroads, and bad country roads.” He lived and ate at “taverns in town and country,” which were “as a rule…wretched” where he “fared miserably in many places.” Villard was particularly unhappy when he traveled to “the southern part of the state, then known as “Egypt (or Little Egypt)” and mostly inhabited by settlers from the Southern states.” It was called “Egypt” because Cairo, Illinois was the only important city there. Villard found Egypt’s “food and lodging…nearly always simply abominable.” A half-century later, Villard said that he could “still vividly remember the day of semi-starvation, and the night with half-a-dozen room-mates, I passed at Jonesboro’, where the third joint debate took place.”

While Villard was traveling the countryside, he wrote later, Lincoln “and I met accidentally, about nine o’clock on a hot, sultry evening, at a flag railroad station about twenty miles west of Springfield.” Lincoln “had been driven to the station in a buggy and left there alone. I was already there. The train that we intended to take for Springfield was about due. After vainly waiting for half an hour for its arrival, a thunderstorm compelled us to take refuge in an empty freight car standing on a side track, there being no buildings of any sort at the station.”

Two refugees from the weather, Lincoln, and Villard had a frank discussion. Here is how Villard recalled their conversation:
“We squatted down on the floor of the car and fell to talking on all sorts of subjects. It was then and there he told me that, when he was clerking in a country store, his highest political ambition was to be a member of the state Legislature. ‘Since then, of course,’ he said laughingly, ‘I have grown some, but my friends got me into THIS business [meaning the canvass]. I did not consider myself qualified for the United States Senate, and it took me a long time to persuade myself that I was. Now, to be sure,’ he continued, with another of his peculiar laughs, ‘I am convinced that I am good enough for it; but, in spite of it all, I am saying to myself every day: “It is too big a thing for you; you will never get it.” Mary [his wife] insists, however, that I am going to be Senator and President of the United States, too.’ These last words he followed with a roar of laughter, with his arms around his knees, and shaking all over with mirth at his wife’s ambition. ‘Just think,’ he exclaimed, ‘of such a sucker as me as President!’”
Lincoln would, of course, be elected president just two years later and Henry Villard would develop a close journalistic relationship with him. Villard, who had arrived penniless in the United States in 1853, would one day own both The New York Post and the Nation Magazine, and a good deal more besides. These are stories we will develop in the next installment of The Immigrants’ Civil War.

GERMAN IMMIGRANT HENRY VILLARD WAS BECOMING ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT JOURNALISTS IN CIVIL WAR ERA AMERICA.
Lincoln's Farewell Address to Springfield, Illinois.
Two years after journalist Henry Villard had first met Abraham Lincoln, he was elected president. In those days, the president was not inaugurated until March of the year after the election. This meant that the president-elect would stay at his home in Springfield, Illinois for months after he was elected. During the time between the election and Lincoln’s inauguration, seven slave states would vote to secede from the United States.
Lincoln Outside his Springfield House October of 1860. Illustration by Rees Print & Lithograph Company.
To cover the president-elect, the Associated Press sent the young German newspaperman to Springfield. When Henry Villard arrived, Lincoln had been given the Governor’s Room in the State Capitol for his work. In the mid-Nineteenth Century, presidents were expected to be “men of the people,” open to the advice of the common man and woman. Accordingly, Villard wrote, Lincoln “appeared daily, except Sundays, between nine and ten o’clock, and held a reception till noon, to which all comers were admitted, without even the formality of first sending in cards.” Reflecting a half-century later, Villard said that “Altogether, probably no other president-elect was so approachable to everybody…” Lincoln’s habit of unprotected interaction with the public would contribute to his death four years later.

Villard remembered Lincoln as a careful listener at these public receptions. The journalist wrote that when he met with visitors, Lincoln “showed remarkable tact in dealing with each of them, whether they were rough-looking Sangamon County farmers still addressing him familiarly as “Abe,” sleek and pert commercial travelers, staid merchants, sharp politicians; or preachers, lawyers, or other professional men.” Lincoln “showed a very quick and shrewd perception of and adaptation to individual characteristics and peculiarities. He never evaded a proper question or failed to give a fit answer,” according to Villard.

In February 1861, Lincoln began his long trip to Washington. The trip would take weeks. Lincoln planned on stopping at cities throughout the North along the way to build support for his presidency and opposition to Southern secession. Henry Villard had become close to Lincoln in his months of covering the Springfield interregnum and he was the only journalist allowed to accompany the president-elect as part of his official party. Villard wrote that “The start on the memorable journey was made shortly after eight o’clock on the morning of Monday, February 11. It was a clear, crisp winter day. Only about one hundred people, mostly personal friends, were assembled at the station to shake hands for the last time with their distinguished townsman. It was not strange that he yielded to the sad feelings which must have moved him at the thought of what lay behind and what was before him, and gave them utterance in a pathetic formal farewell to the gathering crowd…”
Photo of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861. With Civil War just weeks away, Lincoln concluded his Inaugural Address: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Villard asked the president-elect to scribble down his Farewell speech. We only have it because of Villard. Here is what Lincoln said:
“My Friends,– No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To these people, I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and in the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain. Again I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”
Along the way, Lincoln’s train stopped at every major city and town. There the president-elect would speak and local officials would offer their support. At some stops, local Republicans would hold “serenades, torchlight processions, and gala theatrical performances,” according to Villard. In one week alone, Lincoln gave more than fifty speeches at train stations and city halls. This campaign by train “was a very great strain upon his physical and mental strength, and he was well-nigh worn out when he reached Buffalo” wrote Villard.
This photo of Lincoln was taken during President-elect Lincoln's first sitting in Washington, D.C., the day after his arrival by train, on February 24, 1861. It was taken by Scottish immigrant Alexander Gardner. The immigrant photographer would go on to record iconic images of the Civil War.
This was the first time that many Americans would see Lincoln. If they expected a heroic figure, they were disappointed. Villard said that in this swing across the North, Lincoln was “unprepossessing” and Villard described him as displaying “the gawkiest figure, and the most awkward manners…”  When discussing a technical issue like tariffs, Lincoln could descend into “crude, ignorant twaddle” that gave Villard “doubts as to his capacity for the high office he was to fill.”

When Lincoln reached New York City on February 20th, he was aware that the city’s mayor was sympathetic to the South. Mayor Fernando Wood hoped that if the slave states proceeded to leave the Union that the Federal government would let them go without military conflict. Lincoln met with Wood and the city council at City Hall and told them that “there is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of this Union.” He was prepared to wage war against anyone who tried to break up the United States.
When Lincoln reached Pennsylvania he received word that there was a plot to assassinate him in Baltimore. Instead of traveling with his inaugural party, he disguised himself and traveled with just one bodyguard making a secret night trip through Baltimore on February 23, 1861, on his way to the national capital for his inauguration. The cartoonist had a field day with his supposed disguise in a Scottish Kilt and Tam.
By Patrick Young, Esq.
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Abraham Lincoln's Funeral Rail-Car Landed in Minnesota in 1911 Before Being Destroyed by Fire.

Abraham Lincoln’s funeral rail-car carried the president’s body 1,600 miles from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Ill., after he was assassinated in 1865. It ended up decades later in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, where it met its end.
It was just three-quarters of a mile from the clanging bell atop of the Columbia Heights fire hall to the wind-whipped grass fire roaring to its south. But by the time the village’s fledging fire department could respond to the alarm, that seven-block distance proved too great to save a sacred relic of U.S. history.

That grass fire on March 18, 1911, not only consumed 10 blocks of early Columbia Heights, it razed the funeral train car that had carried slain President Abraham Lincoln’s body home from Washington, D.C., to Illinois. More than 7 million people in 180 cities and seven states had solemnly watched the train chug halfway across the country in 1865.
So what was the funeral car doing in Minnesota 46 years later?

First, some background on what historians describe as the Air Force One of its era. The special car christened the “United States,” was built in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1863 and 1864 at the U.S. Military Car Shops during the Civil War.

It was designed with 16 wheels to smooth out the ride for Lincoln and his advisers. Etched-glass windows, fancy upholstered interior walls, and a painted bald eagle national crest adorned the car, which had meeting rooms and parlors for relaxing.
Coach Recreation from the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Assassination, in Springfield, Illinois, on April 15, 2015.
One problem. Lincoln never climbed aboard when he was alive. He might have found it too ostentatious, especially in wartime, according to Jack El-Hai, one of Minnesota’s leading history writers who has researched the ill-fated train car.

Newspapers published the funeral train’s scheduled stops in the days leading up to Lincoln’s May 4, 1865, funeral in Springfield, Illinois. Puffing black smoke, the train would stop in town after town along its 1,600-mile route. His coffin would be placed behind an elaborate horse-drawn hearse and brought to public buildings for viewing.
Lincoln didn’t ride alone. The body of his son, Willie, was exhumed from a cemetery in Washington so he could be buried with his father in Springfield. Willie had died of typhoid fever at 11 during his father’s first term.

After the funeral, the government sold Lincoln’s rail-car for $6,850 ($115,960 today) to the Union Pacific Railroad, whose executives used it for several years. They sold it for $2,000 to an entrepreneur named Franklyn Snow, who tried to cash in on the morbid artifact at commercial exhibits across the Midwest. Maybe it was too close to the Civil War because the shows flopped.

The Colorado Central Railroad bought the car for $3,000 and stripped it down for use as a day coach and a work car. After bouncing around for nearly 40 years, the car found its would-be savior in Minnesota.

His name was Thomas Lowry, a Minneapolis land developer, railroad honcho, civic booster, and streetcar magnate. Realizing the value of this neglected piece of history, Lowry purchased the car in 1905. He planned to completely restore and permanently display it somewhere people could witness the old train car’s historic splendor.

Lowry called his treasure “the most sacred relic in the United States.” But he died in 1909 from tuberculosis that had dogged him for the four years he owned the car. Perhaps he hoped his rescue of the Lincoln funeral car might become part of his legacy, right along with his beloved namesake — the Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis.

After his death, Lowry’s estate donated the train car to the Minnesota Federation of Women’s Clubs. That group planned to secure it in an exhibit space later that summer of 1911. In the meantime, it was idled and stored in Columbia Heights on 37th Avenue between Quincy and Jackson streets.

Columbia Heights, located just north of Minneapolis, was an unlucky 13 years old when the grass fires swept across Anoka County that mid-March Saturday in 1911. The fire department was just four years old, paying local men a couple of bucks to respond when the bell rang above the original headquarters on 40th Avenue and 7th Street. By the time the fire squad responded, it was too late to save the old funeral rail-car.

Car That Carried Remains of Lincoln Is Burned in Spectacular Prairie Fire,” screamed the headlines in the Minneapolis Sunday Journal. “Relic of Martyred President Reduced to Blackened Framework of Wood and Iron.

Historians reported that they could only save a metal coupling from the ashes. Photos after the fire showed the charred shell and framework.

Over the years, pieces of the train car have surfaced. In St Paul, renowned painter and illustrator Edward Brewer moved the old Meeker Dam lock master’s house a half-mile up from the Mississippi River to Pelham Boulevard. The artist’s father had acquired a piece of the metal rail from the Lincoln funeral car, and Brewer used it to suspend a kettle over his fireplace, according to old newspaper clippings.

Illinois history buffs, meanwhile, have constructed a replica of the funeral car that now tours the country in a semitrailer truck, because driving it down rail lines proved too costly.

During that 2013 replica project, organizers didn’t know the precise color to paint the window frames. Witnesses couldn’t agree if it was claret red or chocolate brown.

So they tracked down a Minnesota man who inherited a window frame from a relative who had secured it after the 1911 fire. The man with the window agreed to scrape off a paint sample in exchange for a piece of black bunting that once had been draped on the funeral car. He requested that his name be kept secret. Paint-chip tests showed that the window frames were dark maroon with four parts black to one part red.

The mystery of the exterior color of President Lincoln's funeral train car... Solved!

Here is one more eerie coincidence. The real, one-of-a-kind, Lincoln hearse, which carried the president’s body from the Springfield train station to the Illinois Capitol building and then to the Oak Ridge Cemetery, is long gone. The livery’s owners had lent it out for the funeral procession and kept it for 22 years until it was destroyed in an 1887 fire. Also lost were three men and 200 horses.
Funeral Hearse Recreation from the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Assassination, in Springfield, Illinois, on April 15, 2015.
Two silver medallions from Abraham Lincoln's hearse survived and were displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as part of the exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of his assassination. 
One of two Surviving Silver Medallions from
the Funeral Hearse's Center Side Panels.
The medallions haven't been seen by the public since Lincoln's funeral in 1865 and were separated shortly afterward. Historians thought they'd been destroyed in the 1887 livery fire. But the hearse's owner had removed the medallions. One ended up at the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri, and the other one at the private Harlan Crow Library in Dallas, Texas.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.