Abraham Lincoln and New Jersey
Abraham Lincoln frequently passed through New Jersey on the way to New York or Washington. There is no record, however, of the 16th President ever spending the night in the state although his wife vacationed on the Jersey shore during the Civil War. Indeed, Mr. Lincoln made only two real speeches in the state — both short ones to the separate houses of the State Legislature on February 21, 1861. New Jersey was a state that was never particularly friendly to him politically — although the Republican delegation supported his nomination in 1860 and the “Opposition Party” carried some electoral votes for him that year.
After Mr. Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech in February 1860, he received several invitations to speak in New Jersey. Illinois friend Mayson Brayman reported that while he visited with Mr. Lincoln in his New York City hotel room, there “came a delegation from Patterson and Orange in New Jersey, begging him to go over and make speeches in those places. Thus, you perceive the fame of Ancient Abraham has extended even into foreign lands. To these unsophisticated heathens he presented me with a caution to be careful what they said, as I was a democrat. Then came a Young mans Committee of five whereupon I bolted for the door taking another man’s coat in my haste.”1
Mr. Lincoln was invited by the Young Men’s Working Club of the Republican Party in Newark to give a speech but he declined. He wrote Isaac Pomeroy that after 10 speeches in New England, “I shall be so far worn down, and also will be carried so far beyond my allotted time, that an immediate return home will be a necessity with me.” He continued: “I hope I may yet be able to visit New-Jersey & Pa. before the fall elections. While at New-York a Mr. William Silvey got a promise from me that I would write him whether I could visit, & speak at New-Ark. Will you please show him this.”2
New Jersey was a difficult state for Republicans. It was one of the most conservative states in the North and Republicans had been wise in 1859 to nominate and elect a conservative businessman-farmer, Charles Smith Olden. State Republicans hope to repeat this small miracle with a bigger one in 1860. “New Jersey’s conservatism, albeit a reflection of local conflicts elsewhere, aroused hope in the breast of a favorite son, William L. Dayton,” wrote historian William B. Hesseltine. ‘What was needed, as local observers saw it, was a candidate who was an avowed Republican, who had demonstrated his ‘backbone,’ and who was right on the tariff. They realized that Seward, who had Cameron’s support in Pennsylvania, but not Curtin’s could not carry the state. Judge Dayton, on the other hand, a ‘Republican conservative, sound on both slavery and the tariff, might carry both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”3 In 1856, Dayton had been the Republican candidate for Vice President. He won the party’s nomination over a relatively unknown former congressman from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln.
Officially, the New Jersey delegation to the Republican National Convention in Chicago in May was uninstructed. New Jersey Republicans was worried that the nomination of Seward would kill their campaign chances in the state. Historian William E. Barringer noted: “New Jersey was one of the ‘doubtful’ or anti-Seward states which killed off Seward’s chances by jointly insisting that the election would be lost if Seward were nominated. New Jersey was the object of special attention from the Lincoln promoters for the additional reason that Seward forces were working on an arrangement whereby New Jersey would swing to Seward after a first-ballot vote for Dayton, while Lincoln would be supported for Vice President by the whole Seward force.”4
Historian Allan Nevins wrote: “New Jersey was half won over that Thursday night by sheer force of argument — W. L. Dayton could not be nominated, Seward could not be elected. Pennsylvania presented a harder problem.” 5 Nevins wrote: “One other witness asserts that the critical moment came when committees from the Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania delegations, meeting in David Wilmot’s rooms on the fateful night, took a poll to decide which man, Lincoln, Cameron, or Dayton, had the most support. This is the story told by Charles Perrin Smith, in personal reminiscences deposited in the New Jersey State Library. Early in the week, he relates, a body of New England delegates, headed by John A. Andrew, had called upon the New Jersey delegation. They said that if Seward could not be elected, they would support anyone who could, but, pointing out that the opposition strength was divided among Cameron, Dayton, and Lincoln, declared that unless Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana agreed on a single man, the New Englanders would go into the convention to vote for Seward. Smith states that on Thursday at noon the four doubtful States assembled at the Cameron rooms. in an attempt to unite. Reeder presided. It was soon evident that nothing could be done by so large a body. The matter was therefore referred to a committee of three from each of the four States, which sat in David Wilmot’s rooms from six until ten without reaching a decision. As a last recourse, one delegate proposed that it should be ascertained which of the three candidates had the greatest actual strength, and could carry the largest number of delegates from the four States, if the other two were dropped. This showed that Lincoln stood in the strongest position; and Pennsylvania and New Jersey then decided to turn to him after the first ballots.” 6
On the convention floor, Republican State Chairman Thomas H. Dudley nominated Dayton . On the first ballot, New Jersey cast 14 votes for their favorite son. On a second ballot, Dayton received only 10 votes and Seward 4. On the third ballot, however, Mr. Lincoln picked up 8, Seward 5 and Dayton only 1. Mr. Lincoln was unanimously declared the nominee at the end of the balloting.
Convention delegate N. W. Voorhees wrote Mr. Lincoln in June: “A number of ratification meetings have been held at which the very best spirit prevailed. A number of leading Fillmore men were with us at Chicago and are now laboring in our ranks. Those of our Delegation who voted for Seward cordially approve your nomination. They rejoice that they can wage the contest on principle in behalf of Candidates who have ever battled manfully for the distinctive principles of the Republican organization. You may rest assured that the approval of your nomination in New Jersey is heart felt and universal, and that we go into the contest earnestly, conscientiously, hopefully[.] May success crown our efforts and may our cause prevail!” 7
Historian Charles Merriam Knapp wrote that “the supporters of Lincoln in New Jersey were jubilant, since it appeared to be generally conceded that, unless fusion of the opposing factions should by some chance take place, Republican success in the state in November was certain.” The Democrats did try to put the factions supporting John Breckinridge and Stephen Douglas in a unified ticket, but Knapp wrote that it was done “too late to give complete success in the election…” 8 The actual results were close and confusing because there were three Douglas electors in addition to a Democrat fusion slate for the Electoral College. Mr. Lincoln ran as a candidate of the “Opposition Party”, not the Republicans. The highest Democratic fusion elector got about 4,500 more votes than the top Lincoln elector, but the top four Lincoln electors got more votes than the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh fusion electors. As a result, Mr. Lincoln took four electoral votes and Douglas just three.
New Jersey was never in the running for a cabinet position in the new Lincoln Administration. New Jersey politicians, however, were drawn into the patronage war concerning Simon Cameron of neighboring Pennsylvania. Beset by Republican complaints about various rumored cabinet nominees, especially Pennsylvania’s Simon Cameron, the President-elect used New Jersey for his own purposes. New Jersey Republican State Chairman Thomas H. Dudley came to Springfield in early January to protest Cameron’s nomination to the cabinet. President elect Lincoln sent Dudley back to Philadelphia to ask the opinion of Henry C. Carey. Historians Carman and Luthin wrote: “Carey, a prominent leader of the Quaker City, needed no urging.” In a letter to Lincoln, Carey expressed his opinion of Cameron in no uncertain terms:
“There exists throughout the State an almost universal belief that his fortune has been acquired by means that are forbidden to the man of honor….There stands on the records of the courts, and but a very few years old, charges that would, if proved, involve the commission of serious crime….Most of our well-disposed fellow citizens….look upon him at the very incarnation of corruption….His appointment would be a signal to all the vultures of the Union to flock around the Treasury….He is, therefore, the first choice of all the political gamblers of the State.”9
Former Senator William L. Dayton, who had defeated Mr. Lincoln for the Republican vice presidential designation in 1856, was apparently considered for the Cabinet — but not very seriously. Dayton had supported Lincoln at the Chicago Republican Convention and impressed him with his natural diplomacy. Mr. Lincoln used Dayton as a foil for a delegation who came to protest the inclusion of William H. Seward in the Cabinet as secretary of State. According to Ward Hill Lamon, Mr. Lincoln told the delegation that “He had hoped to have Mr. Seward as Secretary of State and Mr. Chase his Secretary of Treasury. He expressed his regrets that he could not be gratified in this desire, and added that he could not reasonably expect to have things just as he wanted them. Silence prevailed for some time, and he then added: ‘This being the case, gentlemen, how would it do for us to agree upon a change like this? To appoint Mr. Chase Secretary of the Treasury, and offer the State Department to Mr. William L. Dayton of New Jersey?'”
As Ward Hill Lamon related the story, “The delegation was shocked, disappointed, outraged. Mr. Lincoln, continuing in the same phlegmatic manner, again referred to his high appreciation of the abilities of Mr. Seward. He said Mr. Dayton was an old Whig, like Mr. Seward and himself, and that he was from New Jersey, and was ‘next door to New York.’ Mr. Seward, he added, could go as Minister to England, where his genius would find wonderful scope in keeping Europe straight about our home troubles. The delegation was nonplussed. They, however, saw and accepted the inevitable.” 10 Historian William E. Barringer noted that President-elect Lincoln “commented at length on his regard for Seward, how Seward and his principles would be honored in the choice of Dayton.” It was effective theater and Mr. Lincoln’s audience responded predictably. Seward stayed in the Cabinet. When Seward prevailed in getting Lincoln to appoint Massachusetts Congressman Charles Francis Adams named to the ministry in London; Dayton got Paris as a consolation prize. He worked to keep Emperor Napoleon from aiding Confederacy and served until his death in December 1864.
While preparations were underway for Mr. Lincoln’s 1861 trip to Washington for his inauguration, an invitation was received from Governor Olden to speak in Trenton. Mr. Lincoln accepted but declined other requests for Trenton speeches. The Lincolns spent two nights in New York — more than at any other stop on his trip from Springfield to Washington. While there, he wrote a note to Newark’s residents, apologizing to the city’s Republicans: “I shall be able to do no more than to bow to the people of New Ark from the train.” On February 21, the pre-presidential entourage left New York on the Cortlandt Street Ferry for Jersey City where state officials, including Attorney General William L. Dayton, welcomed him. A reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote:
“We landed at Jersey City, and proceeded to the centre of the largest depot, where a large platform had been erected…The cars had been all removed and the spacious depot was filled by at least 20,000 people. Mr. Lincoln stepped upon the platform and one wild yell went up; for several minutes all was drowned in the shouts of thousands of strong throats. The President-elect came on the platform, accompanied by the Joint committee of the New Jersey Legislature and the Common Council of Jersey City, and was received by Mayor Van Vorst, who simply welcomed the President-elect to Jersey City…” In his welcome, Dayton said: ” We may not hope to equal the magnificence of the ovation which has thus far attended your course to the Capitol, but in cordiality we are second to none. We have assembled here to testify to our appreciation of your character, our unwavering loyalty to the laws and the Constitution, and our devotion to the interest of this great country and the perpetuity of the Union…”11
President-elect Lincoln told the crowd: “I shall only thank you briefly for this very kind and cordial reception — not as given to me individually, but as to the representative of the chief magistracy of this great nation. I cannot make any speech now to you, as I shall be met frequently to-day in the same manner as you have received me here, and, therefore, have not the strength to address you at length. I am here before you care-worn, for little else than to greet you, and to say farewell,. You have done me the very high honor to present your reception of me through your own great man — a man with whom it is an honor to be associated anywhere — a man with whom no State could be poor [Applause, long continued]. His remarks of welcome, though brief, deserve an hour’s well-considered reply; but time, and the obligations before me, render it necessary for me to close my remarks — allow me to bid you a kind and grateful farewell.”
According to the New York Tribune, “Mr. Lincoln’s remarks were received with demonstration of applause, and the waving of handkerchiefs. Loud calls were then made for Vice President Hamlin; but it was announced that he was not present, and would be detained in New-York till to-morrow. There followed a rush to shake hands with Mr. Lincoln, and in the rush and crush the policemen and reporters were nearly annihilated. Loud cries were kept up for ‘Lincoln, Lincoln,’ and to quiet the crowd Mr. Lincoln once more came to the front of the platform and said:”
‘There appears to be a desire to see more of me, and I can only say that from my position, especially when I look around the gallery (bowing to the ladies), I feel that I have decidedly the best of the bargain, and in this matter I am for no compromises here.’ [Applause and much laughter.]12
A young and small Irish-American then snuck on the platform and shook hands with the President-elect before a policeman knocked back into the crowd. Then, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr. LIncoln “entered the car, which was appropriately adorned with American and New Jersey flags. The train started from the depot at five minutes to nine o’clock, and moved away amid cheers from the crowd, ‘Hail Columbia’ from Dodworth [band], and a cannon salute of thirty-four guns.”13
In Newark, the President-elect detrained the “lower depot” so he could take a carriage through the city streets and be seen by a crowd that numbered between 25,000 and 75,000. The Mayor welcomed him: “On behalf of the Common Council and my fellow citizens I most cordially welcome you to our city and tender its hospitality. I welcome you, sir, on behalf of the citizens of the metropolis of this State in point of population and trade, who have ever been loyal to the Constitution and maintained the integrity of the Union, and who entertain the ardent hope that your Administration will be governed by that wisdom and discretion which will be the means of transmitting the Confederated States as a unit to your successors and through them to the latest generations.”14
Mr. Lincoln said: “Mr. Mayor: “I thank you for the reception to your city, and would say in response, that I bring a heart sincerely devoted to the work you desire I should do. With my own ability I cannot succeed, without the sustenance of Divine Providence, and of this great, free, happy, and intelligent people. Without thee I cannot hope to succeed; with them I cannot fail. Again I return you my thanks.”15
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported: “We left the cars and took carriages to pass through the city. A large police force cleared the way. The President, in a fine open barouche, escorted by a large body of citizens, mounted, started off. Our route through the city was about a mile long, and upon emerging from the depot, a scene was before us that, for wild, crazy excitement, had not been equaled since we left Springfield [Illinois]. On both sides of the streets was one dense mass of people.” He reported:
“Hanging by the neck to a lamp-post was an effigy, with a placard attached, inscribed ‘The Traitor’s Doom’. At the Public School about one thousand small children were assembled in front of the building, and as we passed, sang the well known Hutchinson [Family Singers] melody of ‘We are a Band of Brothers.’ Mr. Lincoln’s carriage halted a moment; he bowed to them, and we passed on. A gentleman informed us that Newark has a population of about 80,000, and gave a Democratic majority of 500. It is estimated that at least 75,000 persons witnessed the reception. Mr. Lincoln bid them good-bye, and we were once more on our way at 10.17 A.M.”16
Mr. Lincoln retrained at Newark’s “upper depot” and continued on his way. At Elizabeth, he was introduced from the train to 15,000 people by J.J. Chetwood. Mr. Lincoln spoke a few unrecorded remarks, and went on his way to Rahway where he again showed himself briefly. At New Brunswick, Judge John Van Dyke introduced President-elect Lincoln to the assembled crowd. Mr. Lincoln then made a few remarks, saying substantially that “he was gratified with the manifestations of respect and kind feelings which his fellow-citizens ere pleased to give so frequently; that he did not appear before them to make a speech, because he had none to make, and didn’t know that it would be proper to make a speech even if he had one to make and the disposition to make it. He appeared to see them and give them an opportunity to see him; to say good morning to them, and, when the cars started off, to say farewell.”17
“At Princeton the student body was out in force, sending forth ear-splitting skyrocket cheers that fairly lifted the cars from the tracks,” wrote Lincoln scholar Victor Searcher. “Lincoln acknowledged the exuberant demonstration as the train slowed. The college men piled into the excursion train that was following and regaled onlookers with organized cheering and college songs, ‘Gaudeamus Igitur,’ ‘Integer Vita,’ ‘The Horn that Once Thro’ Nassau’s Halls,’ and ‘Upidee.'” 18 The Philadelphia Inquirer reported: “Every farm house which could boast a gun or large pistol, had them out, and gave us a salute…”19
President-elect Lincoln was greeted by a 34-gun salute when he arrived at noon in Trenton. Mayor Franklin S. Mills and Attorney General Dayton accompanied Mr. Lincoln for a carriage ride from the train station to the State Capitol, where Governor Charles Smith Olden greeted him. The Democratic-controlled Senate waited impatiently and amused itself with satirical resolutions such as: “Resolved: “That we trust this Legislature may always have a democratic member that shall exceed the President-elect by two and a half inches in height.”20 Mr. Lincoln delivered a brief but poignant address to the State Senate:
“I am very grateful to you for the honorable reception of which I have been the object. I can not but remember the place that New-Jersey holds in our early history. In the early Revolutionary struggle, few of the States among the old Thirteen had more of the battle-fields of the country within their limits than old New-Jersey. May I be pardoned if, upon this occasion, I mention that away back in my childhood, the earliest days of my being able to read, I got hold of a small book, such a one as few of the younger members have ever seen, ‘Weem’s Life of Washington.’ I remember all the accounts there given of the battle fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New-Jersey. The crossing of the river; the contest with the Hessians; the great hardships endured at that time, all fixed themselves on my memory more than any single revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come; I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in according with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle. You give me this reception, as I understand, without distinction of party. I learn that this body is composed of a majority of gentlemen who, in the exercise of their best judgment in the choice of a Chief Magistrate, did not think I was the man. I understand, nevertheless, that they came forward here to greet me as the constitutional President of the United States — as citizens of the United States, to meet the man who, for the time being, is the representative man of the nation, united by a purpose to perpetuate the Union and liberties of the people. As such, I accept this reception more gratefully than I could do did I believe it was tendered to me as an individual.”21
Afterwards, Mr. Lincoln addressed the New Jersey General Assembly: “I have just enjoyed the honor of a reception by the other branch of this Legislature, and I return to you and them my thanks for the reception which the people of New-Jersey have given, through their chosen representatives, to me, as the representative, for the time being, of the majesty of the people of the United States. I appropriate to myself very little of the demonstrations of respect with which I have been greeted. I think little should be given to any man, but that it should be a manifestation of adherence to the Union and the Constitution. I understand myself to be received here by the representatives of the people of New-Jersey, a majority of whom differ in opinion from those with whom I have acted. This manifestation is therefore to be regarded by me as expressing their devotion to the Union, the Constitution and the liberties of the people. You, Mr. Speaker, have well said that this is a time when the bravest and wisest look with doubt and awe upon the aspect presented by our national affairs. Under these circumstances, you will readily see why I should not speak in detail of the course I shall deem it best to pursue. It is proper that I should avail myself of all the information and all the time at my command, in order that when the time arrives in which I must speak officially, I shall be able to take the ground which I deem the best and safest, and from which I may have no occasion to swerve. I shall endeavor to take the ground I deem most just to the North, the East, the West, the South, and the whole country. I take it, I hope, in good temper — certainly no malice toward any section. I shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peaceful settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. [Cheers.] None who would do more to preserve it. But it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. [Here the audience broke out into cheers so loud and long that for some moments it was impossible to hear Mr. L’s voice. He continued: And if I do my duty, and do right, you will sustain me, will you not? [Loud cheers, and cries of ‘Yes,’ ‘Yes,’ ‘We will.’] Received, as I am, by the members of a Legislature the majority of whom do not agree with me in political sentiments, I trust that I may have their assistance in piloting the ship of State through this voyage, surrounded by perils as it is; for, if it should suffer attack now, there will be no pilot ever needed for another voyage.” He concluded: “Gentlemen, I have already spoken longer than I intended and must beg leave to stop here.”22
After his speeches to the legislature, Mr. Lincoln took time for lunch at Trenton. In brief remarks to the crowd outside, Mr. Lincoln said that he had already given two speeches “and if I was to speak again here, I should only have to repeat in a great measure much that I have said, which would be disgusting to my friends around me who have met here. I have no speech to make [‘that’s right’], but merely appear to see you and let you look at me; and as to the latter, I think I have greatly the best of the bargain. [Laughter.] My friends, allow me to bid your farewell.”23 At 2:30 the Lincoln entourage departed Trenton, crossed the Delaware, and moved on to Philadelphia.
President Lincoln was to return to New Jersey once more — in June 1862 on his way to and from West Point to confer with General Winfield Scott about military affairs. On June 24, while returning from his overnight visit in New York, Mr. Lincoln stopped briefly in Jersey City and said: “When birds and animals are looked at through a fog they are seen to disadvantage, and so it might be with you if I were to attempt to tell you why I went to see Gen. Scott. I can only say that my visit to West Point did not have the importance which has been attached to it; but it conceived [concerned matters that you understand quite as well as if I were to tell you all about them. Now, I can only remark that it had nothing whatever to do with making or unmaking any General in the country. [Laughter and applause.] The Secretary of War, you know, holds a pretty tight rein on the Press, so that they shall not tell more than they ought to, and I’m afraid that if I blab too much he might draw a tight rein on me.”24
Mrs. Lincoln, Willie and Tad spent part of August at Long Branch in 1861. Mrs. Lincoln wrote an invitation to a friend, saying “we expect to visit Long Branch,’ to remain a week or ten days, about the lat of the present month. We have invitations from three different hotels, with suits of rooms, offered us in each, if you are not well, sea bathing, will be beneficial to you. We have railroad passes, and the trip will cost nothing, which is a good deal to us [in] these times.”25
Presidential aide John Hay joined the Lincoln family there but did not find it to his taste, writing a friend: “Finding it hideously dull at Long Branch (the gay & festive Jenkins of the [New York] Herald is paid by the line for making the world believe that the place is not ghastly and funereal) the crowd a sort of queer half-baked New Jersey confectionery, with a tendency to stammer when spoken to, and to flatten its nose against our windows while we ate.” 26 Hay went back in the late summer of 1863. His diary entry was slightly more positive: “Staid about a week at Long Branch. Fine air– disgusting bathing — pretty women and everything lovely. No politics, no war, nothing to remind me while there that there was such a thing as government, or a soul to save.”27
Among Mrs. Lincoln’s White House social circle former New Jersey Governor William A. Newell. Dr. Newell had been chief executive of New Jersey from 1857 to 1860, elected by the American and Republican Parties working together. In the 1840s, he had been elected to Congress as a Whig and served with Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln. During the Lincoln Administration, his sole official position was as New Jersey superintendent of the United States Life Saving Service, a seaside organization that Newell had founded while in Congress. But Newell involved himself in other schemes as well. Mary Lincoln wrote Gideon Welles: “Our particular friend Dr. Newell of New Jersey, is making application, for the building of a steamer. The President, is interested that he may succeed in his application, he is esteemed by all who know him, a most estimable gentleman. I enclose his card & we will be under obligation to you, if the contract is awarded, to the men, for whom he applies.” 28
Newell was persistent in his relationship with the Lincolns throughout the war — sending along information, advice, and requests. Lincoln biographer Emanuel Hertz wrote: “The Governor was unquestionably one of Lincoln’s friends, loyal to the core, frequently invited to the White House by Mrs. Lincoln, as a number of her unpublished letters testify. Colonel Hatfield, one of Newell’s friends, desired promotion in the army. He enlisted Governor Newell’s undivided support, exacted a promise that Governor Newell would neither support nor recommend any one for any position which would, in any degree, interfere with Hatfield’s chances. Subsequently, and while this application was pending, Governor Newell was compelled to recommend another friend, Colonel Allen, for a minor position; and as might be expected, Lincoln saw his way to granting the minor job at Governor Newell’s request, but could not appoint the former to Brigadier-Generalship, which he wanted. When it became known that the minor appointment was made, Colonel Hatfield promptly charged Governor Newell with double-dealing and unfairness. The Governor, for some reason, had to take notice of the charge and was forced to refute the charge. Lincoln was the only one who could help him out of his predicament and Governor Newell did not hesitate to appeal to Lincoln to clear him. To our generation — looking in retrospect at the much-occupied and overworked Chief Magistrate, it seems almost inconceivable that he found time to enter into such minor issues, such local misunderstandings, while the very existence of the country was at stake. And still he seems to have had time for all things — especially to help a friend, to remove a mistaken belief, to rectify a wrong impression, to clear a name and destroy baseless enmity. Witness the two letters — Newell to the President and the President to Newell:
‘Col. Hatfield is impressed with the belief,’ writes Governor Newell, ‘that I have not faithfully urged his appointment to a brigadiership with your Excellency, chiefly on account of the few words I said to you in relation to Col. Allen. You will remember that upon the eve of the departure of the Burnside Expedition I said to you that Col. Allen would like to be made a Brigadier over the Regiment which he had commanded as acting Brigadier. At the same time I stated that I did not desire that he should by any means interfere with my application previously made for Hatfield and that Allen should only be advanced if two were given to us, and that I desired Hatfield to be understood to be my choice over all others.
‘Your Excellency knows how faithfully, zealously, and importunately I have urged Hatfield’s appointment and I beg you to write on this note that I have acted in good faith with him, and urged his success to the best of my ability.’
President Lincoln responded: “Your note on the other half of this sheet is exactly true as far as within my power to Know. Your advocacy of Col. Hatfield for a Brigadier-General has been earnest, without reservation, oft repeated, and persistent, so that I can and do know it was not in your power to do more for Col. Hatfield with me than you have done — “You never urged Col. Allen, except with the express reservation that his appointment should in no wise interfere with Col. Hatfield.”29
During the early period of the Civil War, Mr. Lincoln’s relations with the state’s political hierarchy was relatively cordial. Telegraph operator H. B. Berry recalled visiting the White House with Leonard Swett, an old Lincoln friend from Illinois. That night, five big men from New Jersey also made an appearance. President Lincoln whispered to Swett: The state of New Jersey is a long, narrow state. These five men all come from the north end. I should think when they left, it would have tipped the state up.”30
New Jersey’s then governor, Charles Olden, performed ably during this trying time. Historian William B. Hesseltine wrote: “Governor Olden showed Massachusetts Governor John A.] Andrew’s aggressiveness without the New Englander’s bombast and a promptness that was almost up to [Connecticut Governor William] Buckingham’s standard. Olden stayed long hours at his job. In the first twenty-one months of the war he was absent from his office but two days. Methodically, conscientiously, he wrote his own letters, and kept a careful eye on military expenditures.” 31 Olden had been elected by New Jersey’s “Opposition Party” which was the catch-all for non-Democrats in the state — including Republicans, former Whigs and Know-Nothings. He was a conservative on slavery issues who favored compromise at the Peace Conference held in Washington just before President Lincoln’s first inauguration in 1861. When he Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862, he opposed it, but he was always diligent in organizing the war effort in New Jersey.
Unlike other states, Republican officials in New Jersey did not engage in pitched patronage battles. Republican attorney John C. Ten Eyck joined the U.S. Senate in 1859 and kept a low profile during the Civil War until Democrats named his replacement. But after President Lincoln’s well-publicized public letter to Erastus Corning and a group of New York Democrats, Ten Eyck wrote him: “You have ‘hit the nail on the head’ Your reply to Corning and his associates — is complete and triumphant– It is most judicious and timely — You take your positions correctly & state them strongly — All I ask of you, when you take them, is to stand by them — and to die by them if need be, you wont die Singly and alone, if you do-” 32 President Lincoln wrote Senator Ten Eyck in 1864 for a favor: “Dr. J. R. Freese, now editor of a leading Union Journal in New Jersey, resided, for a time, in Illinois, when & where I made his acquaintance, and since when I have enjoyed much of his friendship. He is somewhat wounded with me now, that I do not recognize him as he thinks I ought. I wish to appoint him a Provost-Marshal in your State. May I have your approval?”33 Freese was duly appointed a commissioner of enrollment in the state. Because he was elected before the Civil War, Ten Eyck was able to serve out his entire term during the Lincoln Administration. Other New Jersey Republicans were not so lucky.
Abolitionist sentiment was never strong in New Jersey. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued in draft form in September 1862, was not popular in the state and Republican candidates paid a heavy price. Historian Allan Nevins called the 1862 election results a “debacle for Republicans: Joel Parker, a tall, dignified, well-educated Douglas Democrats, ran away with the governorship…while Democrats took four of the rive House seats, and gained full control of the legislature.” 34 Parker, who defeated Newark businessman Marcus L. Ward, was a dark horse candidate who had not been expected to win the support of the Democratic convention.
Historian William C. Wright wrote that “Of all the nation’s governors, Joel Parker was one of the Lincoln administration’s most outspoken critics. However, while he attacked the administration’s handling of political issues and its use of ‘war power,’ he could not bring himself to call for a halt in the fighting.” 35 Parker supported the war effort but strongly opposed the Emancipation proclamation. In an 1864 campaign speech, he said that “the majority of the people, without respect to party, wanted peace, and desired compromise, but the Republican leaders would not consent to fair terms, and refused to submit the momentous issue to the people.”36
Like other mid-Atlantic governors, Governor Parker was alarmed by the invasion of Pennsylvania by Confederate forces at the end of June 1863 even though he engaged in the usual gubernatorial complaints about conscription and the state’s draft quota. He telegraphed President Lincoln on June 29: “The people of New Jersey are apprehensive that the invasion of the enemy may extend to her soil. We think that the enemy should be driven from Pennsylvania. There is now certainly great apathy under such fearful circumstances. That apathy should be removed. The people of New jersey want McClellan at the head of the Army of the Potomac. If that cannot be done, then we ask that he may be put at the head of the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania troops now in Pennsylvania, defending these Middle States from invasion. If either appointment be made, the people would rise en masse.”37
President Lincoln responded: “Your dispatch of yesterday received. I really think the attitude of the enemies’ army in Pennsylvania, presents us the best opportunity we have had since the war began. I think you will not see the foe in New-Jersey. I beg you to be assured that no one out of my position can know so well as if he were in it, the difficulties and involvements of replacing Gen. McClellan in command — and this aside from any imputations upon him.”38
When President Lincoln visited the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair in June 1864, he was presented with a cane from the “loyal ladies of Trenton” who stated: “Approaching as you do so near the character & experiencing the trials and responsibilities of the venerated Father of our Country, most especially in unswerving fidelity to free principles & the discharge of all the duties with which you have been invested by a confiding people, we trust that you may find in the staff now presented you, as an ‘heir loom’…” A month later, President Lincoln sent thanks for “a very pretty Cane.”39
Meanwhile, Republican legislators in New Jersey coalesced early behind the reelection of President Lincoln. In the 1864 Republican National Convention, some New Jersey Republicans saw a brief opportunity to advance one of their own as an alternative to Vice President Hannibal Hamlin. Historian James F. Glonek noted: “Reasoning that a deadlock was impending, the New Jersey delegation contemplated urging a favorite son, James M. Scovel, William A. Newell or William L. Dayton.” 40 Newell continued to be a favorite of President Lincoln. That fall, President Lincoln wrote a New York Republican leader: “Allow me to introduce Gov. W. A. Newell of New-Jersey. You know him by reputation. He and I were in congress together sixteen years ago. He is a true friend of the Union, and every way a reliable gentleman. Please hear him whenever he calls.”41
For New Jersey Democrats, General George B. McClellan was essentially a favorite son, having relocated to the state after he lost his command of the Army of the Potomac in November 1862. As in 1860, the 1864 presidential election was close and the Republican state chairman, Charles P. Smith, noted that Mr. Lincoln might have won the state’s electoral votes if more financial resources had been provided to the state party. Instead, New Jersey was only one of three states that George McClellan carriedin this case by a 53-47% margin. only slightly worse than the margin by which Mr. Lincoln had lost the state in 1860.
New Jersey politics and economic interests played a key role in the vote for the 13th Amendment. Historian Roy M. Basler wrote: “The delegation in Congress from New Jersey also figured in these private maneuvers, when representative James M. Ashley of Ohio, urged Lincoln’s Secretary Nicolay on January 18, 1865, that the Camden & Amboy Railroad interest had promised Ashley ‘that if he would help postpone the Raritan railroad bill [to create another railroad franchise in New Jersey] over this session they would in return make the New Jersey Democrats help about the [Thirteenth] Amendment, either by their votes or absence.’ Senator Sumner was the proponent of the Raritan bill, however, and when Ashley had asked him to drop it for this session Sumner did not agree, because he said he thought the amendment would pass anyway. Ashley thought Sumner had other motives; namely, that the amendment would final and then Sumner’s resolution containing the phrase ‘all persons are equal before the law’ could be reintroduced and passed. Nicolay continued, ‘Ashley therefore desired the President to send for Sumner, and urged him to be practical and secure the passage of the amendment in the manner suggested by Mr. Ashley.” President Lincoln dearly wanted those votes but knew that any interference with the obstreperous Senator Charles Sumner could be counterproductive.42
Basler wrote: “Such were the business pressures, and private personal motives, of some representatives when the historic amendment came to a roll-call vote in the House of representatives on January 31, 1865. Of the five New Jersey representatives, for example, the single Republican John F. Starr voted yea; two Democrats, Andrew J. Rogers and George Middleton, abstained; one Democrat, William G. Steele, and one Constitutional Union Party representative, Nehemiah Perry, voted nay. The Amendment passed with 119 yeas, 56 nays, and 8 abstaining. Thus the eight members not voting, including the two from New Jersey, secured the amendment’s passage.”43
After President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, his funeral train passed through New Jersey. But state residents wanting to pay their respects to Mr. Lincoln had either to stand by the railroad line. Alternatively, they could have gone to Philadelphia or New York City where the casket was opened for public viewing. As in life, Mr. Lincoln in death never spent an overnight in New Jersey.
- Andrew Freeman ,
, p. 67.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln ,Volume III, p. 554 (Letter form Abraham Lincoln to Isaac Pomeroy March 3, 1860)
- William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, pp. 33-34.
- William E. Barringer, House Dividing: Lincoln as President Elect, p. 25.
- Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861 , Volume II, p. 256.
- Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861, Volume II, p. 258.
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from John C. Ten Eyck to Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1863).
- Charles Merriam Knapp, New Jersey Politics During the Civil War, p. 33-34.
- Harry J. Carman and Reinhard H. Luthin, Lincoln Forms His Cabinet, p. 39.
- Ward Hill Lamon, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865, p. 21.
- Earl Schenck Miers, editor, New Jersey and the Civil War, pp. 2-3.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp. 233-34. (Remarks at Jersey City, New Jersey, February 21, 1861).
- Earl Schenck Miers, editor, New Jersey and the Civil War, p. 4.
- Earl Schenck Miers, editor, New Jersey and the Civil War, p. 5.
- Roy p. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp. 233-34 (Remarks at Newark, New Jersey, February 21, 1861).
- Earl Schenck Miers, editor, New Jersey and the Civil War, p. 6.
- Roy p. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, p. 235 (Remarks at New Brunswick, New Jersey, February 21, 1861).
- Victor Searcher, Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness, p. 226.
- Earl Schenck Miers, editor, New Jersey and the Civil War, p. 7.
- Earl Schenck Miers, editor, New Jersey and the Civil War, p. 8.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp. 235-236 (Address to the New Jersey Senate at Trenton, New Jersey, February 21, 1861).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp. 235-236 (Address to the New Jersey Senate at Trenton, New Jersey, February 21, 1861).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp. 237-238 (Remarks at Trenton House, Trenton, New Jersey, February 21, 1861).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume V, p. 284 (Remarks at Jersey City, New Jersey, June 24, 1862).
- Justin G. Turner, and Linda Levitt Turner, editors, Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters, p. 94.
- Michael Burlingame, At Lincoln’s Side: John Hay’s Civil War Correspondence and Selected Writings, p. 11 (August 21, 1861).
- Michael Burlingame and John R. Turner Ettlinger, Inside Lincoln’s White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 78.
- Thomas F. Schwartz and Kim M. Bauer, Unpublished Mary Todd Lincoln, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, p. 3 (Letter from Mary Todd Lincoln to Gideon Welles, September 16, 1861).
- Emanuel Hertz, Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait, pp. 125-126 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to William Newell, February 18, 1862)
- Don E. and Virginia Fehrenbache, editors, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 29-30.
- William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, p. 171.
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from N. W. Voorhees to Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1860).
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to John C. Ten Eyck, September 19, 1864).
- Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: War Becomes Revolution, 1862-1863, p. 320.
- Paul A. Stellhorn and Michael J. Birkner, editors, The Governors of New Jersey, 1664-1974, 1664-1974, p. 133.
- Paul A. Stellhorn and Michael J. Birkner, editors, The Governors of New Jersey, 1664-1974, 1664-1974, p. 134.
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Joel Parker to Abraham Lincoln, June 29, 1863).
- Roy P. Basler, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume VI, pp. 311-312 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Joel Parker, June 30, 1863).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume VII, p. 458 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to the Loyal Ladies of Trenton, New Jersey, July 25, 1864).
- James F. Glonek, “Lincoln, Johnson, and the Baltimore Ticket”, The Abraham Lincoln Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 5, March 1951, p. 263.
- Roy P. Basler, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume VII, p. 543 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Simeon Draper, September 8, 1864).
- Roy P. Basler, A Touchstone for Greatness, p. 200.
- Roy P. Basler, A Touchstone for Greatness, pp. 200-201.