My Dear General--Not at all with any effort to refer to events in regular chronological order, I shall try from time to time to instance the use of what is called "outside pressure" in efforts to influence the policy of the Government. As the President rarely looked into a newspaper, and thus systematically shunned labored leaders or commentaries on his own conduct, this pressure was necessarily applied personally, in conversation and by argument, and the White House being the peculiar theatre of that sort of war, I had a good chance for taking observations. During the whole time there was always some one topic upon which the popular mind was strongly exercised and widely divided, and concerning which popular representatives, self-elected or otherwise, were forcing their views upon Mr. Lincoln's attention. It was curious to observe how invariably each party in every case accused him of being under the undue personal influence of some opposing leader. In one week I culled from leading papers the several assertions, backed up with bitter phrases, that [ Secretary of State] Seward, [ Postmaster General] Blair, [ Secretary of War] Stanton, [ General] Halleck, [ General] McClellan, [ Senator] Trumbull and those terrible but undefined fellows the "radical abolitionists," were severally managing the Presidential machine and had the Chief Magistrate under their separate or collective thumbs. The truth is that history has given us few names of men so ready and willing to listen to all, and patiently to hear and weigh the arguments of every side, and at the same time so steadily firm in forming and following their own conclusions as was Abraham Lincoln.
This was in him the reverse of a disposition to disregard the popular will, but an instinctive consciousness that he himself knew the real popular feeling, as distinguished from the loud assertions of individuals. He was singularly able to discern between the passion and impulse of a heated moment,