By John George Nicolay, Michael Burlingame
John C. Nicolay, who had recognized Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, served as leader White condo secretary from 1861 to 1865. expert as a journalist, Nicolay had was hoping to put in writing a crusade biography of Lincoln in 1860, a hope that used to be thwarted whilst an vague younger author named William Dean Howells acquired the activity. Years later, even if, Nicolay fulfilled his ambition; with John Hay, he spent the years from 1872 to 1890 writing a enormous ten-volume biography of Lincoln.In instruction for this job, Nicolay interviewed males who had identified Lincoln either in the course of his years in Springfield and later whilst he grew to become the president of the U.S.. "When it got here time to write down their gigantic biography, however," Burlingame notes, "he and Hay made sparing use of the interviews" simply because that they had develop into "skeptical approximately human memory." Nicolay and Hay additionally feared that Robert Todd Lincoln may possibly censor fabric that mirrored "poorly on Lincoln or his wife."Nicolay had interviewed such Springfield neighbors as Lincoln’s first legislation companions, John Todd Stuart and Stephen T. Logan. on the Illinois capital in June and July 1875, he talked to a couple of others together with Orville H. Browning, U.S. senator and Lincoln’s shut pal and adviser for over thirty-five years, and Ozias M. Hatch, Lincoln’s political best friend and Springfield neighbor. 4 years later he again in short and spoke with John W. Bunn, a tender political "insider" from Springfield on the time Lincoln used to be elected president, and once more with Hatch.Browning shed new mild on Lincoln’s courtship and marriage, telling Nicolay that Lincoln frequently informed him "that he was once always below nice apprehension lest his spouse may still do anything which might deliver him into shame" whereas within the White condominium. in the course of their study, Nicolay and Hay additionally realized of Lincoln’s despondency and erratic habit following his rejection by means of Matilda Edwards, they usually have been as a result criticized by means of buddies for suppressing the data. Burlingame argues that this open dialogue of Lincoln’s melancholy of January 1841 is "perhaps the main startling new details within the Springfield interviews."Briefer and extra narrowly targeted than the Springfield interviews, the Washington interviews take care of the formation of Lincoln’s cupboard, his family members with Congress, his habit throughout the battle, his humor, and his grief. In a memory through Robert Todd Lincoln, for instance, we research of Lincoln’s depression at common Lee's break out after the conflict of Gettysburg: "I went into my father’s workplace ... and located him in [much] distress, his head leaning upon the table in entrance of him, and whilst he raised his head there have been evidences of tears upon his face. Upon my asking the reason for his misery he advised me that he had simply got the knowledge that Gen. Lee had succeeded in escaping around the Potomac river. . ."To complement those interviews, Burlingame has integrated Nicolay’s unpublished essays on Lincoln throughout the 1860 crusade and on Lincoln’s trip from Springfield to Washington in 1861, essay’s in response to firsthand testimony.
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Extra info for An oral history of Abraham Lincoln: John G. Nicolay's interviews and essays
Among his first duties was to make copies of Lincoln's autobiography written for John L. 14 After the election, the president-elect kept Nicolay on as secretary. Not everyone approved of the choice. Herman Kreismann thought it "ridiculous" because Nicolay lacked the necessary polish and savoir-faire: "It wants a man of refinement and culture and thoroughly at home Page xiii in fine society. He arranges the President's dinners and parties and all that and a great deal depends on that appointment whether our republican [administration] will make itself ridiculous or not.
Ritchie notes that a "statement is not necessarily truer if written down at the time than if recalled later in testimony. "40 For all his skepticism about reminiscences, John Hay thought anecdotes about public men as important as their correspondence. "Real history is not to be found in books, but in the personal anecdotes and private letters of those who make history," he told a friend a few years before his death. "These reveal the men themselves and the motives that actuated them, and give us also their estimate of those who are associated with them.
At Dixon we heard of the battle with the Indians by the volunteers under Stillman. The whole army was then marched to that battle ground; but it being found that the Indians had left, and the time of the men being about expired, the Governor called for new Volunteers to assemble in 20 days. Meanwhile to protect the frontier during this interim between the disbanding of the old and the assembling of the new forces, the Spy company was organized (at Ottawa) with Elijah Iles for our captainL & I both being privates.