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

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

The Monitor and the Union League

It is somewhat more than a fortnight since the death of little Willie, but we can yet all feel that the White House is a family residence as well as a business office. Everybody under this roof feels, at any time, like a member of a household rather than like a cog in a machine.

There will, of course, be no more receptions this season. Even the Diplomatic Corps will expect that such as are sometimes given it, of a limited and official character, will be dispensed with by the social law of a house in mourning.

Speaking of that kind of formal and perfunctory hospitality, the first reception by this Administration of the diplomatists who represent Europe at the court of this republic, took place on the 9th of March, 1861, and it was, in some respects, an odd affair. Every man and woman among them was imbued with the idea that one of the frequent revolutions to be expected in republics had arrived and was at work, and there was no such thing as telling what it might do. They were deeply interested, and they all came to pay their respects to the revolution. That reception was, in fact, a lot of fine old governments, in professedly robust health and expecting long lives, dropping in to see a young government, which they believed to be mortally sick and soon to pass away. So they all offered what they called their congratulations.

There seems to be something in a diplomatic education which enables a man to be impressively sincere, conversationally. Here is a polished and highly developed example, talking French, for he knows no English, across the table in the northeast room. Part of the reply he obtains is an expression of regret for the secretary's limited vocabulary. Calmly and smilingly he responds:

"You speak French like a native!" just as if the listener did not know that he is adding, inwardly, "of the United States." He will say the same thing to

-68-

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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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