Abraham Lincoln and Michigan

Abraham Lincoln and Michigan

Michigan copy

Abraham Lincoln gave one speech in Michigan – in the presidential campaign of 1856. Mr. Lincoln gave many speeches for Republican Presidential candidate John C. Frémont that year, but the one in Kalamazoo was preserved by the Detroit Advertiser. The speech was given in what is now Bronson Park at a giant Frémont rally at which no less than four separate speaking locations were operated simultaneously on August 27. The Battle Creek Glee Club performed as did eight bands. For those requiring more than intellectual sustenance, there were long tables of food. Although the town’s population was only 10,000, a crowd of at least that size – and maybe twice that size was present that afternoon.

Senator Zachariah Chandler, a Republican who was to bedevil Mr. Lincoln as President, spoke before him that day. Mr. Lincoln was introduced by a Republican state official, Circuit Court Judge Hezekiah G. Wells, to whom Mr. Lincoln had written six days earlier: “I at last I am able to say, no accident preventing, I will be with you on the 27th.”1 Given the competing venues, it was not the ideal situation for a relatively unknown out-of-state politician to make his speaking debut in Michigan. Henry P. Smith recorded in his diary:

The crowd was so dense about the stands that one could not get near enough to hear the most popular ones. After a while, I found Hattie (Smith’s wife) and the Pages and we tried our luck at several stands and finally at one of them Mr. H.G. Wells (Kalamazoo circuit judge), who is as tall as a bean pole, introduced another six footer as Mr. Lincoln, the tall sucker from Illinois.
As soon as he opened his mouth, we determined to hear him, whether or no, and elbowed our way to the stand to get the whole speech and it was the best one of the day and we gave him three cheers that could be heard in Illinois – if the wind was right.2

In his speech, Mr. Lincoln addressed the twin issues of the slavery and Union and argued that supporters of former President Millard Fillmore who hated slavery should support Frémont rather than help elect Democrat James Buchanan by splitting the anti-slavery vote. The key question, argued Mr. Lincoln, was” Shall the Government of the United State prohibit slavery in the United States?”

“Fellow countrymen: – Under the Constitution of the U.S. another Presidential contest approaches us. All over this land – that portion at least, of which I know much–the people are assembling to consider the proper course to be adopted by them. One of the first considerations is to learn what the people differ about. If we ascertain what we differ about, we shall be better able to decide. The question of slavery, at the present day, should be not only the greatest question, but very nearly the sole question. Our opponents, however, prefer that this should not be the case. To get at this question, I will occupy your attention but a single moment. The question is simply this: – Shall slavery be spread into the new Territories, or not? This is the naked question. If we should support Fremont successfully in this, it may be charged that we will not be content with restricting slavery in the new territories. If we should charge that James Buchanan, by his platform, is bound to extend slavery into the territories, and that he is in favor of its being thus spread, we should be puzzled to prove it. We believe it, nevertheless. By taking the issue as I present it, whether it shall be permitted as an issue, is made up between the parties. Each takes his own stand. This is the question: Shall the Government of the United State prohibit slavery in the United States.”

“We have been in the habit of deploring the fact that slavery exists amongst us. We have ever deplored it. Our forefathers did, and they declared, as we have done in later years, the blame rested on the mother Government of Great Britain. We constantly condemn Great Britain for not preventing slavery from coming amongst us. She would not interfere to prevent it, and so individuals were enabled to introduce the institution without opposition. I have alluded to this, to ask you if this is not exactly the policy of Buchanan and his friends, to place this government in the attitude then occupied by the government of Great Britain – placing the nation in the position to authorize the territories to reproach it, for refusing to allow them to hold slaves. I would like to ask your attention, any gentleman to tell me when the people of Kansas are going to decide. When are they to do it? How are they to do it? I asked that question two years ago – when, and how are [They] to do it? Not many weeks ago, our new Senator from Illinois, (Mr. Trumbull) asked Douglas how it could be done. Douglas is a great man – at keeping from answering questions he don’t want to answer. He would not answer. He said it was a question for the Supreme Court to decide. In the North, his friends argue that the people can decide it at any time. The Southerners say there is no power in the people, whatever. We know that from the time that white people have been allowed in the territory, they have brought slaves with them. Suppose the people come up to vote as freely, and with as perfect protection as we could do it here. Will they be at liberty to vote their sentiments? If they can, then all that has ever been said about our provincial ancestors is untrue, and they could have done so, also. We know our Southern friends say that the General Government cannot interfere. The people say they, have no right to interfere. They could as truly say, – ‘It is amongst us – we cannot get rid of it.'”
“But I am afraid I waste too much time on this point. I take it as an illustration of the principle, that slaves are admitted into the territories. And, while I am speaking of Kansas, how will that operate? Can men vote truly? We will suppose that there are ten men who go into Kansas to settle. Nine of these are opposed to slavery. One has ten slaves. The slaveholder is a good man in other respects; he is a good neighbor and being a wealthy man, he is enabled to do the others many neighborly kindnesses. They like the man, though they don’t like the system by which he holds his fellow-men in bondage. And here let me say, that in intellectual and physical structure, our Southern brethren do not differ from us. They are, like us, subject to passions, and it is only their odious institution of slavery, that makes the breach between us. These ten men of whom I was speaking, live together three or four years; they intermarry; their family ties are strengthened. And who wonders that in time, the people learn to look upon slavery with complacency? This is the way in which slavery is planted, and gains so firm a foothold. I think this is a strong card that the Nebraska party have played, and won upon, in this game.”
“I suppose that this crowd are opposed to the admission of slavery into Kansas, yet it is true that in all crowds there are some who differ from the majority. I want to ask the Buchanan men, who are against the spread of slavery, if there be any present, why not vote for the man who is against it? I understand that Mr. Fillmore’s position is precisely like Buchanan’s. I understand that, by the Nebraska bill, a door has been opened for the spread of slavery in the Territories. Examine, if you please, and see if they have ever done any such thing as try to shut the door. It is true that Fillmore tickles a few of his friends with the notion that he is not the cause of the door being opened. Well; it brings him into this position; he tries to get both sides, one by denouncing those who opened the door, and the other by denouncing those who opened the door, and the other by hinting that he doesn’t care a fig for its being open. If he were President, he would have one side or the other – he would either restrict slavery or not. Of course it would be so. There could be no middle way. You who hate slavery and love freedom, why not, as Fillmore and Buchanan are on the same ground, vote for Fremont? Why not vote for the man who takes your side of the question? ‘Well,’ says Buchanier, ‘it is none of our business.’ But is it not our business? There are several reasons why I think it is our business. But let us see how it is. Others have urged these reasons before, but they are still of use. By our Constitution we are represented in Congress in proportion to numbers, and in counting the numbers that give us our representatives, three slaves are counted as two people. The State of Maine has six representatives in the lower house of Congress. In strength South Carolina is equal to her. But stop! Maine has twice as many white people, and 32,000 to boot! And is that fair? I don’t complain of it. This regulation was put in force when the exigencies of the times demanded it, and could not have been avoided. Now, one man in South Carolina is the same as two men here. Maine should have twice as many men in Congress as South Carolina. It is a fact that any man in South Carolina has more influence and power in Congress today than any two now before me. The same thing is true of all slave States, though it may not be in the same proportion. It is a truth that cannot be denied, that in all the free States no white man is the equal of the white man of the slave States. But this is in the Constitution, and we must stand up to it. The question, then is, ‘Have we no interest as to whether the white man of the North shall be the equal of the white man of the South?’ Once when I used this argument in the presence of Douglas, he answered that in the North the black man was counted as a full man, and had an equal vote with the white, while at the South they were counted at but three-fifths. And Douglas, when he had made this reply, doubtless thought he had forever silenced the objection.”
“Have we no interest in the free Territories of the United States – that they should be kept open for the homes of free white people? As our Northern States are growing more and more in wealth and population, we are continually in want of an outlet, through which it may pass out to enrich our country. In this we have an interest – a deep and abiding interest. There is another thing, and that is the mature knowledge we have–the greatest interest of all. It is the doctrine, that the people are to be driven from the maxims of our free Government, that despises the spirit which for eighty years has celebrated the anniversary of our national independence.”
“We are a great empire. We are eighty years old. We stand at once the wonder and admiration of the whole world, and we must enquire what it is that has given us much prosperity, and we shall understand that to give up that one thing, would be to give up all future prosperity. This cause is that every man can make himself. It has been said that such a race of prosperity has been run nowhere else. We find a people on the North-east, who have a different government form ours, being ruled by a Queen. Turning to the South, we see a people who, while they boast of being free, keep their fellow beings in bondage. Compare our Free States with either, shall we say here that we have no interest in keeping that principle alive? Shall we say – ‘Let it be.’ No – we have an interest in the maintenance of the principles of the Government, and without this interest, it is worth nothing. I have noticed in Southern newspapers, particularly the Richmond Enquirer, the Southern view of the Free States. They insist that slavery has a right to spread. They defend it upon principle. They insist that their slaves are far better off than Northern freemen. What a mistaken view do these men have of Northern laborers! They think that men are always to remain laborers here – but there is no such class. The man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him. These men don’t understand when they think in this manner of Northern free labor. When these reasons can be introduced, tell me not that we have no interest in keeping the Territories free for the settlement of free laborers.”
“I pass then, from this question. I think we have an ever growing interest in maintaining the free institutions of our country.”
“It is said that our party is a sectional party. It has been said in high quarters that if Fremont and Dayton were elected the Union would be dissolved. The South do not think so. I believe it! I believe it! It is a shameful thing that the subject is talked of so much. Did we not have a Southern President and Vice President at one time? And yet the Union has not yet been dissolved. Why, at this very moment, there is a Northern President and Vice-President. [Franklin] Pierce and [William] King were elected, and King died without ever taking his seat. The Senate elected a Northern man from their own numbers, to perform the duties of the Vice-President. He resigned his seat, however, as soon as he got the job of making a slave State out of Kansas. Was not that a great mistake? (A voice. – ‘He didn’t mean that!’)”
“Then why didn’t he speak what he did mean? Why did not he speak what he ought to have spoken? That was the very thing. He should have spoken manly, and we should then have known where to have found him. It is said we expect to elect Fremont by Northern votes. Certainly we do not think the South will elect him. But let us ask the question differently. Does not Buchanan expect to be elected by Southern votes? Fillmore, however, will got out of this contest the most national man we have. He has no prospect of having a single vote on either side of Mason and Dixon’s line, to trouble his poor soul about. (Laughter and cheers.)”
“We believe that it is right that slavery should not be tolerated in the new territories, yet we cannot support for this doctrine, except in one part of the country. Slavery is looked upon by men in the light of dollars and cents. The estimated worth of the slaves at the South is $1,000,000,000, and in a very few years, if the institution shall be admitted into the territories, they will have increased fifty per cent in value.”
“Our adversaries charge Fremont with being an abolitionist. When pressed to show proof, they frankly confess that they can show no such thing. They then run off upon the assertion that his supporters are abolitionists. But this they have never attempted to prove. I know of no word in the language that has been used so much as that one ‘abolitionist,’ having no definition. It has no meaning unless taken as designating a person who is abolishing something. If that be its signification, the supporters of Fremont are not abolitionists. In Kansas all who come there are perfectly free to regulate their own social relations. There has never been a man there who was an abolitionist – for what was there to be abolished? People there had perfect freedom to express what they wished on the subject, when the Nebraska bill was first passed. Our friends in the South, who support Buchanan, have five disunion men to one at the North. This disunion is a sectional question. Who is to blame for it? Are we? I don’t care how you express it. This government is sought to be put on a new track. Slavery is to be made a ruling element in our government. The question can be avoided in but two ways. By the one, we must admit, and allow slavery to triumph, or, by the other, we must triumph over the black demon. We have chosen the latter manner. If you of the North wish to get rid of this question, you must decide between these two ways – submit and vote for Buchanan, submit and vote that slavery is a just and good thing and immediately get rid of the question; or unite with us, and help us to triumph. We would all like to have the question done away with, but we cannot submit.”
“They tell us that we are in company with men who have long been known as abolitionists. What care we how many may feel disposed to labor for our cause? Why do not you, Buchanan men, come in and use your influence to make our party respectable? (Laughter.) How is the dissolution of the Union to be consummated? They tell us that the Union is in danger. Who will divide it? Is it those who make the charge? Are they themselves the persons who wish to see this result? A majority will never dissolve the Union. Can a minority do it? When this Nebraska bill was first introduced into Congress, the sense of the Democratic party was outraged. That party has prided itself, that is was the friend of individual, universal freedom. It was that principle upon which they carried their measures. When the Kansas scheme was conceived, it was natural that this respect and sense should have been outraged. Now I make this appeal to the Democratic citizens here. Don’t you find yourself making arguments in support of these measures, which you never would have made before? Did you ever do it before this Nebraska bill compelled you to do it? If you answer this in the affirmative, see how a whole party have been turned away from their love of liberty! And now, my Democratic friends, come forward. Throw off these things, and come to the rescue of this great principle of equality. Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles. Come, and keep coming! Strike, and strike again! So sure as God lives, the victory shall be yours. (Great cheering.)”3
The next day, Mr. Lincoln returned to Illinois. It was not surprising that Mr. Lincoln did not come back to Michigan in 1859 when he made appearances in several midwestern states that were to be instrumental in his nomination for the presidency. Michigan was Seward country. In May 1860 Michigan provided strong support at the Republican National Convention in Chicago for the nomination of New York Senator William H. Seward. Michigan delegation chairman Austin Blair seconded Seward’s nomination. Few delegations were as solid for Seward as Michigan and few delegates more fervent than Blair. When a motion was made to make Mr. Lincoln’s nomination unanimous, “Blair of Michigan made the speech of the hour,” according to journalist Murat Halstead. Blair proclaimed:
“‘Michigan, from first to last, has cast her vote for the great Statesman of New York. She has nothing to take back. She has not sent me forward to worship the rising sun, but she has put me forward to say that, at your behest here to-day, she lays down her first, best loved candidate to take up yours, with some beating of the heart, with some quivering in the veins (much applause); but she does not fear that the fame of Seward will suffer, for she knows that his fame is a portion of the history of the American Union; it will be written, and read, and beloved long after the temporary excitement of this day has passed away, and when Presidents themselves are forgotten in the oblivion which comes over all temporal things. We stand by him still. We have followed him with an eye single and with unwavering faith in times past. We martial now behind him in the grand column which shall go out to battle for Lincoln.'”4

In the 1860 presidential election, Abraham Lincoln received more that 57% of Michigan’s votes. Austin Blair’s own election as governor in 1860 was the result of a political compromise. “Slightly built, intense and nervous in manner, Blair gave the appearance of a devout crusader,” wrote historian William B. Hesseltine.5 “Though Blair had shown himself a willing party worker and an able stump speaker, he had failed thus far to receive form his party the recognition he so ardently desired. He had long been ambitious for a seat in Congress, but his home in Jackson was in the same congressional district as Detroit, and both in 1856 and in 1858 the machinations of Detroit politicians had forestalled his nomination.” In order to keep him happy in 1860 “the Detroiters wangled a unanimous gubernatorial nomination for Blair and persuaded him to accept it by solemnly promising that he could be United States senator in 1862,” wrote Hesseltine.6 They also named him chairman of the 1860 convention delegation, but four years later he was denied the promised seat in the Senate.

Blair was elected governor and proved an able and honest governor for three two-year terms. Michigan chronicler Frank B. Woodford wrote that Blair was “energetic, capable and wholly dedicated…To Michigan he became what Lincoln was to the Union.”7 He was critical of President Lincoln but supportive of his war policies. When he was inaugurated as governor in January 1861, Blair said to the state legislature: “I recommend you at an early day to make manifest to the gentlemen who represent this State in the two Houses of Congress, and to the country, that Michigan is loyal to the Union, the Constitution, and the laws and will defend them to the uttermost; and to proffer to the President of the United States, the whole military power of the State for that purpose. Oh, for the firm, steady hand of a Washington, or a Jackson, to guide the ship of State in this perilous storm! Let us hope we will find him on the 4th of March. Meantime, let us abide in the faith of our fathers – “Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever.”8 When President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, Blair said: “I rejoice to say that I can now, with my whole heart, support the administration and the president of the United States.”9

Senator Zachariah Chandler was a retail merchant and former mayor of Detroit who strongly supported the Underground Railroad. A Radical Republican and a member of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, he was a frequent visitor to the White House with Senators Benjamin Wade and Lyman Trumbull – whom John Hay called the “Jacobin Club.” Brash, stubborn, coarse, pugnacious, straightforward, hard-drinking and rich, Chandler used his ideals and money to consolidate his power and oppose slavery. Hay called him “the representative of the bloodthirstiest spirit of anti-slavery zeal.”10 Historian Allan Nevins called him “a man of unbounded self-confidence, aggressiveness, and radicalism.”11 Journalist Noah Brooks wrote that Chandler, “tall, saturnine, at times grim and at times jocular, was one of the Senators who attracted the attention of visitors to the Capitol; his bold and sometimes reckless audacity, his perfect self-control, and his wonderful familiarity with the ins and outs of politics, made him a most interesting personality in the Senate.”12 Historian Allan G. Bogue wrote that “Chandler was abolitionist in sympathy, a speaker who rolled his eyes and contorted his features, and was generally without the ‘graces or conventions of eloquence and oratory.'”13

“He was not eloquent according to the canons of oratory; but he was widely intelligent, had given careful attention to public questions, and spoke with force and clearness,” wrote Maine Congressman James G. Blaine. Chandler, however, “was a natural leader. He had abounding confidence in himself, possessed moral courage of a high order, and did not know the sensation of physical fear. He was zealous in the performance of public duty, radical in his convictions, patriotic in every thought, an unrelenting foe to all forms of corruption. He distinguished between a friend and an enemy. He was always ready to help the one, and though not lacking magnanimity, he seldom neglected an opportunity to cripple the other.”14

The Lincoln Administration got off to a bad start with Chandler on appointments – causing him to complain to the White House less than a month after President Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861: “Michigan has been utterly ignored in the distribution of offices by your administration Illinois has rec’d eight times, Ohio seven, New York, Eleven & Maine three times as much as Michigan Even Wisconsin has recd more than three times as much in both honor & Emolument. I have a list of every appointment made by your administration outside of States, except the last two days of the called session. I trust something like justice may yet be done & would suggest the propriety of with holding further appointments until a list shall have been submitted to you …”15

Chandler evinced a different tone when he wrote President Lincoln in August1861: “You may not recollect that we met at Kalamazoo in 1856 at the Mass Convention there. I write at this time to invite yourself & Mrs. Lincoln to visit Detroit & become my guests with Mr. & Mrs. Senator Trumbull on the Second of Oct at the time of our State Fair. C. M. Clay & Family will be with me at that time. I will place at the exclusive disposal of yourself & Friends the Directors Car upon the Michigan Central R R & will promise you during your stay entire exemption from the persecution of office seeking & applications to speak. Michigan is one of the certain states, therefore no political reason can be assigned for the visit. Yet in my estimation & that of some of your most judicious Friends, if made, it may have an important bearing upon results. This I will more fully explain to Senator Trumbull should you accept this invitation I think Mr. & Mrs. Hamlin will meet you here”

Mr. Lincoln’s memory was far too retentive to have forgotten meeting Chandler in 1859. President Lincoln wrote back his graceful regrets: “It is the opinion of friends, backed by my own judgment, that I should not really, or apparently, be showing myself about the country”16

As a member of the Committee on the Conduct of the War (CCW), Chandler was outspoken in his criticism of Union General George B. McClellan. Historian Bruce Tap wrote: “Chandler clearly was motivated by patriotic impulses when he attacked McClellan. He wanted to invigorate the nation’s army and boost the country’s sagging morale. However, publicly to attack the general of the nation’s largest army, particularly when that same army was in a vulnerable position, was both unwise and irresponsible….it was frustration with Lincoln that prompted Chandler’s action. Lincoln would not accept the committee’s position on McClellan (at least not as quickly as committee members wanted). Chandler was not content simply to offer advice to the president, and his ill-advised speech was a bid to direct and control executive action. With this speech (of July 16) and the use of committee testimony, the CCW had stepped beyond its authorization. It was not a question of drafting future legislation; it was not a question of the executive refusing to enforce laws that Congress had passed. Representing the committee, Chandler was attempting to mobilize public opinion to force the president to act in certain ways. Information, taken in the strictest confidence, was placed before the public for the express purpose of pressuring Lincoln to relieve McClellan of his command. And, as subsequent events demonstrated, the effect on the morale of the Army of the Potomac’s leading generals as not beneficial as they became increasingly alienated from the Republican Administration.”17

After the Union defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run Chandler revealed his anger with the Lincoln Administration in a letter to fellow Senator Lyman Trumbull: “It is treason, rank treason, call it by what name you will, which has caused our later disasters. Jealousy & discontent at the removal of McClelland [sic] & promotion of Pope will be the cause assigned, but where ruin, death & the probable destruction of the Govt is the effect of disobedience orders treason is the cause. I fear nothing will save us but a demand of the loyal Governors backed by a threat, that a change of policy & men shall immediately be made….This seems to me the last hour. Your President is unstable as water. If he has as I suspect, been bullied by those traitor Generals, how long must it before he will by them be set aside & a Military Dictator set up. McClelland’s army is totally demoralized & made for anything but fighting. It will not fight under its present commanders….For God & country’s sakes, send some one to stay with the President who control & hold him. I do not dispair (sic] but my only hope is in the Lord, & I don’t believe he will let us be destroyed.”18

Chandler was Michigan’s most controversial politician but he rallied his followers in the 1862 to preserve Republican control of the State legislature and return Austin Blair to the governor’s seat. Republicans – which faced significant losses elsewhere in the North in 1862 – held on to five of Michigan’s congressional seats. After the 1863 elections, Chandler sent a letter that began: “Will You pardon me for writing as Your Sincere Friend plainly and truthfully.” He then warned against the evil influence of Thurlow Weed and Senator Edwin D. Morgan of New York on his upcoming message to Congress. He also bitterly denounced Secretary of State William H. Seward: “You are aware that Michigan was one of Gov Sewards strong holds. There is not one Seward man in this State today.” Chandler wrote that radicals had carried Republicans to victory in the fall elections: “Conservatives & traitors are buried together, for Gods sake don’t exhume their remains in Your Message. They will smell worse than Lazarus did after he had been buried three days.”19

President Lincoln admitted that he had met with Weed and Morgan but not together and not about his annual message. He then added: “I am very glad the elections this autumn have gone favorably, and that I have not, by native depravity, or under evil influences, done anything bad enough to prevent the good result.”20

Chandler played a major role in bringing the Republican Party together in September by engineering the withdrawal of radical John C. Frémont from the election. According to historian Allan Nevins, “The night after they had made the arrangement with Frémont’s friends, Senator Chandler and [Chandler associate] David H. Jerome went to Washington, arriving in the morning. They at once called at the White House, where they were ‘anxiously and eagerly received by the President.’ When Chandler had announced the result of his negotiations. ‘Mr. Lincoln at once fulfilled his part by addressing a note to Mr. Blair asking his resignation (which was promptly tendered), thereby closing the dangerous breach, and making certain his reelection.'”21

More pleasant than his relation with Chandler were those with Michigan Congressman Francis W. Kellogg, who actively raised Michigan regiments for the Union army. In December 1860, Kellogg had recommended Chandler for the Cabinet: “Mr. Chandler is one of the best men in the nation for that office His business qualifications are of the highest order and that Department of the Gov’t under his control would be less expensive & more efficient till it was indeed a blessing to the people Mr. Chandler began life in Detroit without a dollar & by attention to business – without engaging in speculations he has accumulated a large fortune He never had a note protested and amid all the financial storms of the last 20 yrs has kept on his way unharassed [sic] until he is confessedly one of the very first merchants in the West He knows how to do business as Homer knew how to write poetrey [sic] He has a genius for business and therefore he excels”.22

After Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Kellogg wrote President Lincoln: “There is but one feeling now among loyal & patriotic men in this part of the Country and I cannot doubt that it is universal We want the war prosecuted with such vigor that the rebel armies shall have no opportunity to recover from their defeat To that end we hope and pray that you will order a Draft for 400 or 500,000 men that the Nation may feel assured of the speedy suppression of the rebellion – the rebel leaders and armies be disheartened and the brave men who survive the bloody battles of the last week be encouraged by the knowledge that the ranks of thin & battered regiments will soon be filled and their numbers render victory easy & certain hereafter.”23 Ten months later, President Lincoln wrote Kellogg: “I find the card of yourself and Governor Blair on my table. If you and he please I will call and take you riding at half past 3.”24

Jacob M. Howard replaced Senator Kinsley Bingham on Bingham’s death in 1861. Howard, a former state attorney general and a founder of the Republican Party, was described as a” good man” by John Hay.25 Historian Allan G. Bogue wrote: “Known in Michigan as ‘Honest Jake,’ he was somewhat portly with iron-gray hair, hazel eyes, and high coloring, used cologne ‘profusely,’ and continuously chewed a private blend of fine-cut unsweetened tobacco. His colleagues considered him one of the better constitutional lawyers in the chamber, and he did not demur at that judgment.”26

Howard wrote Mr. Lincoln in June 1863 to congratulate him on his recent letter to New York Democrats and to oppose any peace negotiations with the South on Compromise on the Emancipation Proclamation: “Pardon me for saying that that proclamation is mighty. It is a terrible weapon, & for one I hope & trust it will never be recalled, – never! At first we did not contemplate such a measure, but it was wickedly & wantonly forced upon the administration. Now that it has been adopted let us die rather than give it up; let us remove the a[c]cursed pretext for the rebellion, & make the conquest complete!”27

Nothing came of the rumored negotiations. But President Lincoln suffered politically from the continuation of the war. He didn’t do quite as well in Michigan in the 1864 election as in 1860, winning 55% of the vote to Democrat George B. McClellan’s 45%.


  1. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (CWAL), Volume II, p. 360 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Hezekiah G. Wells, August 21, 1856).
  2. Dave Hager, “Abraham Lincoln in Bronson Park Kalamazoo Marks 150th Anniversary of Future President’s Speech Here,” Kalamazoo Gazette, August 18, 2006.
  3. CWAL, Volume II, pp. 361-66 (Speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan, August 27, 1856).
  4. Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860 , pp. 46-47.
  5. William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, p. 48.
  6. William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, p. 74.
  7. Frank B. Woodford, Father Abraham’s Children: Michigan Episodes in the Civil War, p. 19.
  8. Charles Lanman, The Red Book of Michigan;Civil, Military and Biographical History, p. 148.
  9. William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, p. 267.
  10. Michael Burlingame, Lincoln’s Journalist: John Hay’s Anonymous Writings for the Press, 1860-1864, p. 276 (June 26, 1862).
  11. Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862, p. 182.
  12. Noah Brooks, Washington in Lincoln’s Time, p. 35.
  13. Allan G. Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate, p. 38.
  14. James G. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congressman from Lincoln to Garfield , Volume I, p. 319
  15. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Zachariah Chandler to Abraham Lincoln, March 30, 1861, March 30, 1861).
  16. CWAL, Volume IV, pp. 102-03 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Zachariah Chandler, August 31, 1861).
  17. Bruce Tap, Over Lincoln’s Shoulder: The Committee on the Conduct of the War, p. 125.
  18. Wood Gray, The Hidden Civil War: The Story of the Copperheads, Noah Brooks, Washington in Lincoln’s Time, p. 35.
  19. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Zachariah Chandler to Abraham Lincoln, November 15, 1863).
  20. CWAL, Volume VII, pp. 24-25 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Zachariah Chandler, November 20, 1863).
  21. Allan Nevins, Fremont, Pathmarker of the West, p. 660.
  22. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Francis W. Kellogg to Abraham Lincoln, November 16, 1860).
  23. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Francis W. Kellogg to Abraham Lincoln, July 10, 1863).
  24. CWAL, Volume VII, p. 326 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Francis W. Kellogg, May 1, 1864).
  25. Michael Burlingame, Lincoln’s Journalist: John Hay’s Anonymous Writings for the Press, 1860-1864, January 11, 1862, p. 191.
  26. Allan G. Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate, p. 39.
  27. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Jacob M. Howard to Abraham Lincoln, July 8, 1863).