Inside the White House in War Times: Memoirs and Reports of Lincoln's Secretary

By William O. Stoddard; Michael Burlingame | Go to book overview

Persons and Papers

This large south-fronting room has been the business office of all the Presidents who have lived in this house. In one sense it is the nerve-centre of the Republic. It is a wonderful historic cavern to move about in. The hearts and brains of a great people are somehow in connection with it, and they send to this chamber their blind impulses, their thrills of hope, their faintnesses of disappointment, their shivers of fear, and even their sinking of despair.

Mr. Lincoln will be here in a few minutes. He was always an early riser, and it is a good habit for him to have in these overworked times. He is apt to come striding along the hall at farm hours, as if he were in haste to get here and finish something left over from last evening, or attend to some crisis which came in the night, before the daily procession of visitors can set in.

That long table in the middle of the room is the board around which the Cabinet sits in council, and they are gathered there frequently, nowadays. How they appear when they are gathered will be very well imagined by future generations after looking at Carpenter's picture of the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is to be painted a few years hence and hung upon a wall of the Capitol. In that picture, however, without purpose of the painter, Mr. Montgomery Blair, the Postmaster-General, will be made to stand upon the square yard of carpet he occupied when he and the President took leave of each other, coldly, formally, without any hand-shaking, the day he ceased to be a member of the Cabinet.

These meetings are wonderfully secret affairs. Only a private secretary may enter the room to so much as bring in a paper. No breath of any "Cabinet secret" will ever transpire, so faithfully is the seal of this room guarded.

There is hardly an ornamental or a superfluous article of furniture in the room. This second-hand mahogany upright desk, from some old furniture auction--or that is what it looks like--here by the middle window, is Mr.

-11-

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Inside the White House in War Times: Memoirs and Reports of Lincoln's Secretary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Editor's Introduction vii
  • 1 - Inside the White House in War Times 1
  • Opening the Door 3
  • Persons and Papers 11
  • Weapons and War Ships 19
  • Gifts and Visitors 26
  • The Critics and the Gamblers 33
  • Bronzes and Earthworks 40
  • The Reception 47
  • A Variety of Uniforms 54
  • The Two Chieftains 61
  • The Monitor and the Union League 68
  • The Capitol and the Future 75
  • Sentries and Passes 82
  • A Battle Summer 89
  • The Echoes of the Proclamation 96
  • Realities and the Drama 103
  • A Vigil and a Victory 110
  • July 4th, 1863 117
  • The Contrabands and the New Captain 121
  • Pictures and Reports 127
  • There is an End of All Things 134
  • 2 - White House Sketches 141
  • Sketch 1 143
  • Sketch 2 148
  • Sketch 3 153
  • Sketch 4 156
  • Sketch 5 160
  • Sketch 6 165
  • Sketch 7 170
  • Sketch 8 176
  • Sketch 9 180
  • Sketch 10 184
  • Sketch 11 189
  • Sketch 12 193
  • Sketch 13 198
  • Notes 203
  • Index 221
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