Friday, December 28, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 2:45 PM
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Today's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto at an opposition rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan brings to mind dictat....er, President Pervez Musharraf's recent claims that his crackdowns on freedom and on opposition parties were just what Lincoln did.
Dictator.....er, President Musharraf should read Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent "Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" to see exactly how Lincoln handled his rivals. He incorporated them into his cabinet in order to prevent their active opposition as well as to have the best political minds available in order to help the country.
There's a novel approach: let your rivals live so they can assist you in running your country instead of letting your supporters kill them. Dictato.....er, President Musharraf, you are still no Abraham Lincoln. Click here to see Musharraf's laughable claims to be just like Abe.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:35 AM
Monday, December 24, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 1:45 PM
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:16 PM
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 1:13 PM
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:25 PM
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
There has never been a shortage of books about Abraham Lincoln. There are one-volume and multi-volume biographies, books on his marriage, books about his physical and mental health, books questioning his sexuality, and books about his humor. More books have been written about Lincoln than any other U.S. President, with the possible exception of Washington.
And still the books come. From the Library Journal comes a list of new and upcoming books about Lincoln. The more intriguing ones to me, at least, will be "Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America" by Allen Guelzo (April 2008) and "Lincoln and the Court" by Brian McGinty (February 2008).
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:14 PM
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:44 PM
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:54 AM
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:27 PM
From today's Indianapolis Star comes the annual list of recommended books from the Indiana Superintendent of Public Education which people might want to consider when purchasing gifts. Dr. Suellen Reed this year has included a separate list of books about Abraham Lincoln since she wants Indiana students to learn as much as possible about him prior to the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009.
Her list of recommended books may be found here. You'll need Adobe Acrobat to read the pdf file. The list seems to be fairly inclusive and is broken down by grades. I'd suggest that she add David Donald's superb "Lincoln" biography. Another book would be "Twenty Days," the wonderful book by Philip Kundhart and Dorothy Meserve Kundhart which details the Lincoln assassination and each of the funerals. This would seem to be especially important for Indiana students since one of Lincoln's funerals was held in Indianapolis.
Indiana is planning major activities and ceremonies for the Lincoln Bicentennial. Here is a link for the website.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:58 AM
Monday, December 10, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 3:27 PM
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:58 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Here's a cool little story about a guy from the Boston, Massachusetts area who discovered a bunch of old newspapers stuck in the walls of his old house he's been renovating. At first, no one realized what the papers were, until someone noticed the date and headline. Dated April 15, 1865, the one paper contained the shocking headline that Abraham Lincoln had been shot and was not expected to survive. The other papers were from the days following the assassination.
A leading national dealer in antique and historic newspapers estimates that the paper from April 15 would be valued at approximately $700.00. Newsprint from that era was far more durable than that of today thanks to high rag print content. It's not uncommon for newspapers from the mid-1800's or even much earlier to appear nearly pristine. The papers in the photo appear to mostly intact, meaning that the finder might be able to sell them for a tidy amount of money in order to continue his home improvements.
Not only do I love American History, but I also love antiques. These stories are what motivates me to continue hunting for my treasures. I own a broadside (poster) from my hometown of Canton, Ohio, which announced the tragic news of the death of Lincoln. It's one of my more prized possessions.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Yesterday's speech by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in which he vowed to "serve no one religion" brought to mind that Abraham Lincoln faced his own religion litmus test while running for Congress in 1846.
Abraham Lincoln's faith, or lack thereof, has been debated by historians since his death and was a point of contention during his life. Countless books have been written about his religious beliefs, some stating that he was deeply spiritual, while others claim he was a non-believer, nearly an atheist. At the very least, it is true that he never became an official member of any church. However, he did attend services both prior to and after becoming president.
During the Congressional campaign of 1846, Lincoln's opponent was a popular evangelical Methodist preacher of the day, Peter Cartwright. Lincoln decided to attend one of Cartwright's revival meetings after having been accused as being an atheist or "infidel." The following text is taken from Carl Sandberg's "Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years":
In due time Cartwright said, "All who desire to lead a new life, to give their hearts to God, and go to heaven, will stand," and a sprinkling of men, women, and children stood up. Then the preacher exhorted, "All who do not wish to go to hell will stand." All stood up—except Lincoln. Then said Cartwright in his gravest voice, "I observe that many responded to the first invitation to give their hearts to God and go to heaven. And I further observe that all of you save one indicated that you did not desire to go to hell. The sole exception is Mr. Lincoln, who did not respond to either invitation. May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln, where are you going?"
And Lincoln slowly rose and slowly spoke. "I came here as a respectful listener. I did not know that I was to be singled out by Brother Cartwright. I believe in treating religious matters with due solemnity. I admit that the questions propounded by Brother Cartwright are of great importance. I did not feel called upon to answer as the rest did. Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going. I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress."
The point Lincoln was trying to make to Cartwright was that one's personal beliefs or non-beliefs are just that: personal.
It is disturbing that in the 21st Century, in a country founded on the guiding principle of freedom of religion, that a major presidential candidate has to give a speech defending his religious beliefs in order to cater to a group of people who are intolerant of beliefs which differ from theirs. It is time that candidates for the presidential office remind those citizens that Freedom of Religion means that we Americans are free to choose how we worship, when we worship, or even whether we worship at all.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 2:30 PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Today marks the 168th anniversary of the birth of George Armstrong Custer, the legendary army officer best known for his final battle and death at Little Bighorn.
I realize, of course, that the ties between Custer and Abraham Lincoln are tenuous at best. It is known that Lincoln met Custer's wife, Elizabeth (or Libby), at a reception and exclaimed "So this is the young woman whose husband goes into a charge with a whoop and a shout!" Therefore, Lincoln was obviously aware of the meteoric rise in rank (a temporary Major General at only 23) that Custer experienced in the Civil War. The only other link to Lincoln I can find is that Custer was stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln as his last post prior to his death. I have my reasons for writing today about Custer, if you will indulge me.
Custer was born on December 5, 1839 in the small village of New Rumley, Ohio. The village is in Harrison County, which was also the home of three men who were highly influential in Lincoln's life. My post of November 13, 2007 tells the story of Matthew Simpson, Edwin Stanton, and John Bingham. What's amazing to me is how four important Civil War era figures could hail from the same rural county.
Custer spent his entire youth living in Harrison County and attended college in the nearby village of Hopedale, Ohio. After a stint as a teacher, he enrolled at West Point, where he finished last in his class.
His career is well-known and his final battle and death are legendary. This link is a good place to read much more about the man. He remains a highly controversial figure of American history to this day.
I mentioned earlier why I wanted to write about Custer today. My departed father was born exactly 100 years later to the day on December 5, 1939 just four miles away from where Custer was born. And he is buried just a couple of miles from the Custer birthplace. My dad was forever fascinated by George Armstrong Custer and was proud to have shared a birthday with him, especially having been born in the same area.
Happy Birthday, Colonel Custer. Happy Birthday, dad. I miss you.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 6:17 PM
Monday, December 3, 2007
From a small town Illinois newspaper website comes this interesting story about the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas, and his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, lie in eternal rest. The Thomas Lincoln Cemetery is located in Coles County, Illinois in the village of Janesville.
The article quotes a gentleman who claims that his ancestor showed President-elect Lincoln the location of his father's grave just before Lincoln departed for Washington, D.C. to take the oath of office. While this story is probably a family legend with no basis in fact, it is indeed known that Lincoln did not attend the funeral of his father Thomas.
Although Abraham Lincoln absolutely treasured his step-mother Sarah, his relationship with his father was never good to begin with and the two grew far apart as Abraham attained adulthood. David Herbert Donald in his masterpiece biography "Lincoln" details the estrangement between father and son, which seemed primarily to stem from the younger Lincoln's ambition and drive for learning, concepts which were alien to Thomas. Additionally, Thomas was a member of a Baptist church and seemed to fault Abe for never joining. It's also known that Lincoln did visit his father and stepmother from time to time while riding the law circuit, but he had very little contact with Thomas most of the time.
The article in question is of interest but it does contain some inaccuracies. It claims that Sarah Bush Lincoln was deceased by the time Lincoln left for Washington, but she of course outlived him, stating "I know'd they'd kill him" when she received news of his assassination. The article also quotes a gentleman who claims that Lincoln and Thomas got on a lot better than historians claim. This contradicts what the facts seem to support.
Nonetheless, I found the article to be informative and it further added to my Lincoln knowledge. I hope it added to yours as well.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
With the possible exception of George Washington, no other American president has so many popular legends and myths associated with him than Abraham Lincoln. In his latest book on Lincoln, Edward Steers Jr. aims to debunk some of the most lingering Lincoln legends. Titled "Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President," Steers addresses fourteen stubborn myths about Lincoln and sets out to prove them incorrect once and for all. Beginning with the so-called Lincoln Birth Cabin , the book continues investigating myths about Lincoln throughout his life, including whether or not he had a love affair with Ann Rutledge, if Mary Todd Lincoln was a confederate spy, if Dr. Mudd was or was not guilty, etc.
The noted Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer, wrote the introduction for this book and touches briefly on how the myth of "Lincoln The Railsplitter" first started.
Steers, of course, is the author of the best-selling "Blood On The Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln". Here is a book review describing his latest book more fully. Looks like Steers might have another winner on his hands.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
From the November 29th, 2007 issue of The Buchtelite, the college newspaper for the University of Akron (Ohio), comes a somewhat amazing political opinion piece. The author, one Branden Szabo, twists historical facts about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era to make a point about the low approval ratings for George W. Bush.
Mr. Szabo "explains" to his readers how Lincoln "started his own unpopular war" in an attempt to equate Bush and Lincoln. As any fifth-grader can tell us, Lincoln did not start the Civil War. Young Mr. Szabo seems to forget a little something called "Fort Sumter," whose bombardment by Confederate forces was the first military action of the war. To claim that Lincoln began that war is historically inaccurate, no matter one's particular opinion of Lincoln himself.
Next, the writer of the piece goes on to quote Clement Vallandigham, the Ohio congressman who was deported to the Confederacy. Mr. Szabo states that Vallandigham was a "governor of Ohio." Well, no. Vallandigham was a Democrat candidate for governor of Ohio, but was defeated in a landslide in 1863 by War Democrat John Brough . He did indeed oppose the war and Lincoln in very strong speeches, which is why he was deported to the South, but he was not governor.
Mr. Szabo's opinion is that history will judge President Bush kindly for his actions regarding Iraq , just as it has Abraham Lincoln, who was hated by many during his life. That may or may not be true and only time will tell. Szabo has a right to his opinion, but he also has a responsibility to present historical facts accurately in stating that opinion.
As a graduate of the University of Akron, I am disappointed in The Buchtelite and its editorial staff for not insisting on stricter standards for what is usually a fine collegiate newspaper.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
According to the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, one of the latest projects planned for the celebration of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth is a specially commissioned modern dance. The dance will be debuted at the famous Ravinia Festival north of Chicago, but there is no scheduled date. The man who will create the work, Bill T. Jones, is a Tony Award-winning choreographer. The work is to be a full-length dance which will encompass an entire evening.
Lincoln of course appreciated poetry, Shakespeare, and other fine writing. He attended the theater often and also took in traveling troupes of performers. Still, the creation of a dance is a bit ironic when the story about Lincoln asking Mary Todd to dance is recalled. He said something along the lines of "Miss Todd, I would like to dance with you in the worst way." Later on, Mary quipped "And he certainly did!".
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
From a small paper in Illinois comes this article about a local woman, Brenda Alward, who has been busy making an Abraham Lincoln quilt. This quilt will be raffled in order to raise money for a statue of Abraham Lincoln which will be erected in Shelby County, Illinois at the county courthouse. Lincoln used to stay in Shelbyville, the county seat of Shelby County, when he rode the law circuit. The statue will depict a beardless Lincoln and one of his fellow lawyers, Anthony Thornton. In 1856, Lincoln and Thornton held a slavery debate at the courthouse.
You have to admire this woman. She worked on the quilt since early July of this year and finally finished it in October. It obviously required a lot of work and dedication to make this quilt, which will help her community to honor its connection to Lincoln. She included Lincoln silhouettes, a depiction of the tavern Lincoln stayed at, and even a Great Seal of The United States in her quilt.
The quilt looks beautiful. Somehow, I can't imagine that any of our more recent presidents will ever be honored in such a manner 150 years from now. All in all, this isn't a particularly important Lincoln-related story, but it's the kind of story which shows the general fascination people still have for our 16th president.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:49 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
UPDATE: Eighteen months after this original posting, the cardiologist I discuss below is back in the news. John Sotos is now seeking to borrow a piece of fabric from a pillowcase which supported Lincoln's head as Lincoln lay dying on April 14, 1865. The material contains dried blood and brain matter from Lincoln. Sotos would like to perform testing on the DNA in order to prove his theory that Lincoln suffered from a rare cancer. Click here for the latest in this saga.
Was Abraham Lincoln suffering from a rare form of cancer at the time of his death? According to an article from the November 25, 2007 edition of The Washington Post, a cardiologist is claiming that Lincoln had a very rare genetic syndrome which inevitably leads to thyroid or adrenal cancer. This syndrome, called MEN 2B, is inherited and causes nearly every person it affects to develop cancer. Some symptoms of the syndrome are above-average height, stomach problems, and tumors. Obviously Lincoln was quite tall, especially for the era, and it is known that he suffered from chronic constipation his entire life. On the other hand, another symptom is weakness. However, numerous sources document that Lincoln was quite strong throughout his life, even towards the end of his being able to hold an ax at arm's length without his arm shaking.
It's an interesting read, but much like the claims that Lincoln had Marfan syndrome, this claim of cancer in Lincoln will probably be debated for many years. And in the end, it doesn't really matter. It was John Wilkes Booth who killed Lincoln, not cancer or Marfan.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 11:07 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union. In testimony 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 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
My posting titled "Gettysburg Letter To Lincoln" from November 9th, 2007 describes how the president was invited almost as an afterthought to the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg. One of the myths that people believe is that Lincoln was the featured speaker at Gettysburg that day. In truth, the main address was presented by Edward Everett of Massachusetts, the leading orator of the day. His oration lasted for nearly 2 1/2 hours, while Lincoln's brief address took a little more than two minutes to deliver. Yet Lincoln's words remain immortal while Everett's have been forgotten by most.
Lincoln departed for Gettysburg the previous day on November 18, 1863. The trip was a long and arduous one in those days, taking some 16 hours by rail from Washington, D.C., a journey which is little more than two hours today. Probably the most popular legend holds that Lincoln wrote his Address on the back of an envelope while on the train trip to Gettysburg, a story that is almost certainly not true. Lincoln was not a good extemporaneous speaker, as recorded by numerous witnesses to the various times he gave "off the cuff" remarks. Indeed, he politely refused to give an impromptu speech on July 7, 1863 at the celebration of the Union victory at Gettysburg. He addressed the crowd which had gathered outside the White House, and he admitted that "this is the....occasion for a speech. But I am not prepared to make one worthy of the occasion. ..Having said this much, I will now take the music." Other instances show us that Lincoln was awkward with public speeches when he was not fully prepared to do so. For this reason, it is very doubtful that Lincoln wrote the Address in its entirety during the ride to Gettysburg, in spite of some witnesses who later swore that he wrote the speech on the train.
However, it is true that as late as November 17, Lincoln admitted to James Speed, his Attorney General, that he was only half-finished with his speech for Gettysburg. He even confessed that he was laboring to find the proper words to convey what he wanted to at the ceremony. Lincoln showed a "rough draft" to Speed and apparently to other witnesses as well. This further disproves the legend of the writing on an envelope while on the train.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This man resembles Lincoln better than most impersonators I've seen. The photo was taken at a re-enactment of Shiloh, but it was held in Ventura County, California. Here is a link to the article about the re-enactment held recently.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 3:12 PM
(NOTE: For the "new" photo of Lincoln at The White House announced on March 10, 2009, click here )
From the November 16, 2007 issue of USA Today comes the exciting news that an amateur historian may have made the find of his life: a "new" photo of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg! Mr. John Richter of Hanover, Pennsylvania had been researching the online database of Gettysburg photos on the Library of Congress website and thought he noticed Lincoln in a crowd scene in two different stereoviews.
After seeking a file enlargement, Richter continues to believe that the scene does indeed show Lincoln in the crowd. Eminent Lincoln authority Harold Holzer is also of the opinion that the figure in the stereoviews is Lincoln. If proven, these would be only the second and third photos known to exist of Lincoln at Gettysburg. The only other known photo was discovered in 1952.
You may see more of the information, including additional photos at the link to USA Today I provided. The photo I show in this posting is widely available on the Internet now, so I believe I'm not violating any copyright.
Other posts of mine deal further with The Gettysburg Address. This link tells the story of how and why Lincoln was invited to speak at Gettysburg during the dedication ceremony. And this link details the Address and the dedication ceremony itself. If I could choose one event from history to witness, it would be of Lincoln giving his immortal speech.
UPDATE: Please see my post for a followup to this story. That post describes the conference held in Gettysburg to discuss this new find. The story also contains another view of this photo.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The small village of Cadiz in the rural Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio has never been a very exciting place. Founded in 1804, its peak population was in the 1940's, when it had just under 5,000 residents. Thanks to a decline in the coal industry which has lasted for decades, the town has seen its population dwindle to barely 3,300. Today it struggles to survive, depending largely on farming and recreational tourism for its income. Unfortunately, its better days are far behind it.
Yet somehow, by some quirk of fate which makes history so fascinating to so many, this nondescript Ohio village was either the birthplace or home to three men who played major roles in Abraham Lincoln's life. When these men lived in Cadiz, Ohio, the village population was no more than 500. How one small crossroads gave us three important influences on Abraham Lincoln's life is one of history's mysteries. These men continued their national political influences after Lincoln's death as well. These are their stories.
Bishop Matthew Simpson
Matthew Simpson was born in Cadiz, Ohio on June 20, 1811 to parents who dedicated him at birth for the ministry. Simpson received the standard academic education of the day in Cadiz, and at the age of 18, he entered Madison College in Pennsylvania. He entered the Methodist Ministry in the middle 1830's, his first church being in Pittsburgh. From there, he ascended quickly in the church hierarchy and was eventually appointed Elder in 1837.
Simpson also served in academia, first as a Professor of Natural Science and then Vice-President of Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. In 1839 he was appointed president of the forerunner to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He served in that capacity until 1848, when he became editor of the Western Christian Advocate, a leading abolition newspaper. Reverend Simpson was then elected to the Episcopacy (i.e. Bishop) of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1852. He oversaw conferences of the M.E. Church throughout the United States and in most of its territories.
John A. Bingham
John A. Bingham was born on January 21, 1815 in Mercer, Pennsylvania but his family eventually relocated to Cadiz, Ohio. After two years as an apprentice printer, Bingham enrolled at Franklin College in New Athens, Ohio where he studied law. Bingham then opened his first law practice in Cadiz in 1840, although some sources claim that his first practice was actually in New Philadelphia, Ohio, a town about 20 miles from Cadiz.
Bingham first came to notoriety as an orator during the Whig campaign of William Henry Harrison in 1840. After continuing to serve as a respected lawyer, Bingham eventually ran for Congress in 1854 and was elected as first an Opposition Party candidate (i.e. anti-Democrat) and then as a Republican in 1856. He served until 1862, when he was defeated for re-election.
President Lincoln appointed Bingham to serve as Judge Advocate to the Union Army with the rank of Major in 1864. Bingham was re-elected to Congress in 1864. Upon Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865, John A. Bingham served as Judge Advocate on the military tribunal which oversaw the trials of the Lincoln co-conspirators. Bingham was one of only two civilians on the tribunal. Here is a great link to the trial, including a photo of the tribunal. Bingham gave the summation of the government's position in the closing arguments. This link contains Bingham's summation.
John Bingham continued to serve as a distinguished member of Congress and became the main Framer of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment contains the "due process" and "equal protection" clauses which have become a critical part of guaranteeing civil rights in the United States.
In 1868, Congressman Bingham became one of the judges involved in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Essentially, President Andrew Johnson was impeached as a result of long-running disputes with the Radical Republicans in Congress. They were upset with Johnson's conciliatory approach to the former Confederate states and his vetoes of civil rights bills. The final straw came when President Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (also a former resident of Cadiz, Ohio) for disregarding orders. This violated the Tenure Of Office Act which had been passed earlier by Congress. Johnson was acquitted by one vote and served the remainder of his term.
Bingham was defeated for re-election to Congress in 1872, but was appointed as Minister to Japan by President Grant. He served in that capacity until 1885.
He returned to his beloved Cadiz, Ohio in 1885. Upon his return, he would tell his visitors:
"The hills and primeval forest which girdle this village make a picture of quiet beauty which, I think, is scarcely surpassed in any part of our country which I have seen, or in Japan, the Land of The Morning."
John A. Bingham died on March 19, 1900 and is buried in the Union Cemetery in Cadiz, Ohio. If I might be permitted a personal aside, this cemetery is also the final resting place of many of my relatives, including my grandparents and great-grandparents. I'm proud that my ancestors share this cemetery with one of the leading political figures of American history. Today, Cadiz proudly claims John A. Bingham as a native son. The village commemorates his service to the country with an imposing statue in front of the county courthouse.
Edwin McMasters Stanton
Of the "sons of Cadiz" who were so interconnected with Abraham Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton had by far the most influence with Lincoln. Stanton was born December 19, 1814 in the town of Steubenville, Ohio, a town located 20 miles southeast of Cadiz, on the Ohio River.
Stanton spent his formative years in Steubenville and later enrolled in Kenyon College in Ohio. After leaving Kenyon in order to support his family, Stanton was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1836. At this time, he relocated to the village of Cadiz, where he built a house and practiced law until 1847. Stanton became the Harrison County prosecutor while in Cadiz and soon developed a reputation for being a brilliant lawyer. Stanton met and became good friends with John A. Bingham during his years in Cadiz and also became acquainted with Bishop Simpson. Like Simpson, Stanton was a Methodist.
In 1847, driven by the desire to earn more money for his immediate and extended family, Stanton moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he soon established a lucrative law practice. After nine years in Pittsburgh, Stanton then relocated to Washington, D.C. in order to work to further establish his reputation and increase his income.
Stanton soon attracted the attention of the Federal Government and in 1860, President James Buchanan appointed him Attorney General. While Stanton was grateful for the appointment, it meant leaving his financially rewarding private practice for the salary of a civil servant. Stanton strongly opposed secession and is often credited with providing the backbone to President Buchanan to finally oppose it as well.
It was in 1857 that Edwin M. Stanton and Abraham Lincoln first became acquainted. Both served on the same legal team in the McCormick-Manny reaper patent case. Stanton was one of the most famous attorneys in the country at this time, with a brilliant reputation. Lincoln was an able attorney in his own right, but did not have the experience or renown of Stanton. Stanton considered Lincoln a country bumpkin and asked "where did that long-armed creature come from?" Lincoln was treated with contempt during the entire case, but with his typical magnanimity, he believed that he learned how to be a much better lawyer merely by observing Stanton at work. Lincoln realized he had much more to learn about what it took to be a good lawyer.
Stanton's contempt for Lincoln continued even after the Civil War began. He frequently criticized Lincoln in letters to his friends and associates, referring often to Lincoln as an imbecile. Stanton firmly believed, as did many others, that the Rebel troops would take Washington, D.C. by as early as July 1861.
The early war effort had gone terribly for the Union. Disaster occurred for the Union troops from one battlefield to the other and the War Department was in a state of chaos. Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania had permitted corruption and graft to permeate the Department and was soon forced to resign in 1862.
Ignoring the past insults and contempt Stanton had shown him, President Lincoln turned to Stanton to take over the running of the War Department. It was a fortuitous decision. Stanton immediately reorganized the Department, weeded out corrupt officials, and cracked down on government contractors which had been providing poor equipment and food to the Union soldiers. He often worked for 14 or more hours a day, often standing the entire time, barking out orders and sending flurries of telegrams to generals and other officials. All of this was done to the ruin of his own health, for he had suffered from asthma his entire life.
Although Stanton held his contempt for Lincoln at the beginning of his service in the War Department, he gradually came to deeply respect and even admire Lincoln. The two worked in efficient harmony with one another throughout the final three years of the war and they in time developed a friendship. Both men shared the loss of children, both suffered from health issues, and both deeply felt the tragedy of the war. But both also held a deep commitment to winning the war no matter the terrible cost.
This relationship between Stanton and Lincoln is fully described in Doris Kearn Goodwin's excellent "Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius Of Abraham Lincoln." It is an outstanding source for learning much more about Stanton and Lincoln's early animosity and their profound mutual respect developed during the war.
The relationship of course took a tragic turn with the assassination of Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Upon Lincoln's death at 7:22 a.m. on Saturday April 15, 1865, Stanton reportedly said: "Now he belongs to the ages."
While Lincoln lay dying, and in the days and weeks after Lincoln's death, Stanton took over and almost single-handedly ran the Federal Government. He directed the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth, ordered the arrests of numerous suspects, appointed the Military Tribunal (appointing old Cadiz friend John A. Bingham to it) which tried the co-conspirators, and continued to oversee the War Department at the conclusion of the Civil War. It was almost a super-human effort.
Stanton continued on as Secretary of War under Lincoln's successor Andrew Johnson, but their relationship was strained at best. Finally in 1868, Johnson tried to fire Stanton, but Stanton refused to leave his post and literally barricaded himself in his office. At this point, the Radical Republicans in Congress impeached Johnson (see description under John A. Bingham), but failed to remove Johnson by a single vote. Stanton then left office and returned to his private practice.
Edwin Stanton's ultimate goal in life was to achieve appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Indeed, his old Cadiz friends Bishop Matthew Simpson and John Bingham lobbied for him in 1864 when a vacancy became available, but Lincoln felt that Stanton was too valuable at the War Department. Stanton finally achieved his goal when President Ulysses Grant nominated him on December 20, 1868. The U.S. Senate confirmed him the same day.
Sadly, Stanton never got to be seated at the Court. He died in Washington, D.C. just four days after his confirmation, on December 24, 1868. He was buried in Washington.
Today the village of Cadiz, Ohio does not have any commemorative statue or even a plaque remembering its most famous citizen. Stanton's hometown of Steubenville, Ohio does remember its native son with an impressive statue.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Many people don't know that Abraham Lincoln and his family owned a pet dog while they lived in Springfield, Illinois. Fido was born in circa 1855 and lived with the Lincoln family for five happy years. The dog was of uncertain ancestry, but closely resembled a retriever/shepherd mix and was roughly the color of mustard.
Fido often followed Lincoln around the streets of Springfield, happily carrying the daily paper or some other object for his master. The dog would wait calmly outside the barbershop while Lincoln would get a trim. Fido was apparently a full-fledged member of the family and was an inside dog with the run of the house. He loved a horsehair sofa in the home and often claimed it for his own.
His time with the Lincoln family ended upon Lincoln's election to the presidency. Lincoln noticed how terrified Fido was of the cannon blasts marking Lincoln's election and never enjoyed being around trains. Lincoln loved animals with a passion (he abhorred hunting and fishing, for example) and strongly believed that Fido would not survive the trip to Washington. So with great sorrow, the Lincolns gave Fido to a local family with the stipulation that he be an indoor dog, given special treats, allowed the run of the home, etc. In fact, the Lincolns even gave Fido's favorite horsehair sofa to the family who took over the raising of Fido.
Fido was still living at the time of Lincoln's assassination and his new owners brought the dog to greet mourners at the Lincoln family home in Springfield. Sadly, Fido himself was killed by a drunken man within a year of Lincoln's death.
Today, original photos or cartes-de-visite (CDV's) of Fido are highly sought after by collectors of Lincoln memorabilia. An original CDV of Fido can fetch upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They were sold as souvenirs in the months after Lincoln's death.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
On November 8, 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected to a second term as President of the United States. His running mate was Andrew Johnson, U.S. Senator from Tennessee. Johnson bitterly and bravely opposed secession and refused to have anything to do with the Confederacy. Johnson belonged to the "War Democrats" who remained loyal to the Union. Although Lincoln was still a member of the Republican party, Johnson was selected to run with Lincoln on the "Union Party" ticket.
The Democratic party nominee was George B. McClellan, the Union general whom Lincoln fired twice during the Civil War for poor results, inaction, and disobeying of orders. McClellan and his fellow "Peace Democrats" wanted to end the war at any cost, even if it meant that the Union would remain dissolved.
Going into the 1864 campaign, it wasn't at all clear that Lincoln would win re-election. The war effort was going poorly for the North, with one general after another failing to win victories. People were horrified by the endless slaughter of soldiers from both sides. Eventually, the tide shifted in favor of the Union thanks to Generals Grant and Sherman.
In the end, Lincoln and Johnson won the election with a comfortable 55%-45% victory in the popular vote and a landslide in the Electoral College. It must be remembered that the states which were in the Confederacy did not vote in this election.
Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be the greatest humorist who has ever occupied the White House. Numerous books have been written about his keen wit and humorous stories he loved to tell, at the same time conveying wisdom to those around him.
As for his wisdom, well, some things are better left unsaid.