Lincoln Card: "Submitted to the Sec. of War"

April 20, 1863

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Lincoln Card: "Submitted to the Sec. of War"
Autograph Note Signed
1 page | SMC 1602

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      Background

      “Submitted to the Sec. of War.” These half dozen words testify, as if in shorthand, to the extraordinary relationship between President Lincoln and his Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. A long story, it is told best, in brief, by Stanton’s private secretary, E.A. Johnson:

      “No two men were ever more utterly and irreconcilably unlike. The secretiveness which Lincoln wholly lacked, Stanton had in a marked degree; the charity which Stanton could not feel, coursed from every pore in Lincoln. Lincoln was for giving a wayward subordinate seventy times seven chances to repair his errors; Stanton was either for forcing him to obey or cutting off his head without more ado. Lincoln was as calm and unruffled as the summer sea in moments of gravest peril; Stanton would lash himself into a fury over the same condition of things. Stanton would take hardships with a groan; Lincoln would find a funny story to fit them. Stanton was all dignity and sternness, Lincoln all simplicity and good nature…. Yet no two men ever did or could work better in harness. They supplemented each other’s nature, and they fully recognized that they were a necessity of each other.”

      Stanton did not like Lincoln, at first, at all. Lincoln, he told everyone, was a gorilla, an imbecile, and a disgrace. But Lincoln only cared that Stanton was a brilliant administrator, and in one of the most magnanimous acts of his remarkably magnanimous presidency, made him Secretary of War. Lincoln would work closer with Stanton, in fact, than any other Cabinet member - and Stanton, simply, came to love him.

      On April 20th, 1863, Lincoln was concerned with admitting West Virginia into the Union; re-submitting a Quarter Master nomination to the Senate; arranging for a man’s pardon, a boy’s job, and an officer’s pay. An old friend was accused of war-profiteering, and then too, there was fighting in Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and a large force patrolling central Tennessee. Any one of these things might, in Lincoln’s judgment, have merited Stanton’s attention.


      Autograph Note Signed, as president, 1 page, sextodecimo, no place [Washington], April 20, 1863. Noting the submission of a document, not present, to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Published in Basler, VI: 180

      This note was apparently cut from a letter.
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