Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS

HIS OWN poor health and his concern for Ellen's temporarily more serious condition competed with politics for a share in Stanton's thoughts during October and November. He still feared that she was succumbing to "rapid consumption," and on the advice of Surgeon General Barnes she remained in Pittsburgh, leaving the children in Washington. As always, he was lonely without her, especially now that the older children were occupied with parties and the theater. He wrote Ellen of how little Bessie, their youngest and favorite, was "standing by his side having finished her breakfast and says tell Mama 'good morning' and tell her to come home. She is obstinately bent on writing . . . and jumps up and down impatiently waiting for me to 'git out [of] there.'" For himself, he was as busy at his work as ever. To comfort Ellen and perhaps to reassure himself, he asserted that political developments held no immediate threat to him.

So long as Ellen remained unwell he hid his worries behind pleasant domestic details. "I am in the Library," he wrote, " Lewis stretched out on the sofa reading--Ellie prying around among the books, Bessie leaning over the table saying 'tell Mama I want her to come home after breakfast' and singing 'red, white & blue,' her face as bright as the morning sun beam--here she stops my writing to give me a kiss." Stanton made it appear that his chief concern of the moment was the choice of costumes for a masquerade ball which the Grants were giving for the children of Washington's official elite.

By late November, Ellen's condition greatly improved, and he wrote her that his hour for resigning must still be delayed. She undertook to visit his mother and sister at Gambier, even though she and they

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