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. proficient as a journalist, Nicolay had was hoping to jot down a crusade biography of Lincoln in 1860, a wish that was once thwarted whilst an imprecise younger author named William Dean Howells received 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 activity, Nicolay interviewed males who had identified Lincoln either in the course of his years in Springfield and later while he grew to become the president of the us. "When it got here time to jot down their gigantic biography, however," Burlingame notes, "he and Hay made sparing use of the interviews" simply because they'd develop into "skeptical approximately human memory." Nicolay and Hay additionally feared that Robert Todd Lincoln may censor fabric that mirrored "poorly on Lincoln or his wife."Nicolay had interviewed such Springfield associates as Lincoln’s first legislations companions, John Todd Stuart and Stephen T. Logan. on the Illinois capital in June and July 1875, he talked to a few others together with Orville H. Browning, U.S. senator and Lincoln’s shut good friend 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 brief and spoke with John W. Bunn, a tender political "insider" from Springfield on the time Lincoln was once elected president, and once more with Hatch.Browning shed new gentle on Lincoln’s courtship and marriage, telling Nicolay that Lincoln usually informed him "that he used to be regularly lower than nice apprehension lest his spouse should 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 way of Matilda Edwards, they usually have been to that end criticized by way of associates for suppressing the data. Burlingame argues that this open dialogue of Lincoln’s melancholy of January 1841 is "perhaps the main startling new info within the Springfield interviews."Briefer and extra narrowly concentrated than the Springfield interviews, the Washington interviews care for the formation of Lincoln’s cupboard, his family with Congress, his habit in the course of the conflict, his humor, and his grief. In a memory through Robert Todd Lincoln, for instance, we research of Lincoln’s melancholy at normal 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 while he raised his head there have been evidences of tears upon his face. Upon my asking the reason for his misery he informed me that he had simply bought 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 in the course of the 1860 crusade and on Lincoln’s trip from Springfield to Washington in 1861, essay’s in keeping with firsthand testimony.
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Extra info for An oral history of Abraham Lincoln: John G. Nicolay's interviews and essays
It is getting so heavy I can't handle it. "13 Hatch suggested Nicolay, and Lincoln took the advice. 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.
I have to rely exclusively on documents. I would not trust my recollection in the slightest matter of historical interestyet every newspaper is full of long storiesin the utmost detailtelling us all about the great men and deeds of the past. 31 Perhaps the most startling new information in the Springfield interviews, which have escaped the attention of scholars,32 concerns Lincoln's depression of January 1841. Orville H. Browning revealed abundant new data about Lincoln's courtship, broken engagement, and subsequent attack of melancholy.
I am indebted to Wayne C. Temple and Thomas F. Schwartz, who generously read the manuscript and gave me the benefit of their vast knowledge of Lincoln and his times. I also received generous help from Fred Baumann, Katie McDonough, and other members of the staff at the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division; from Jennifer Lee and her colleagues at the John Hay Library at Brown University; and from Cheryl Schnirring and others at the Illinois State Historical Library. Because some of Nicolay's interviews were in a peculiar shorthand, I had to find someone who could translate them.
An oral history of Abraham Lincoln: John G. Nicolay's interviews and essays by John George Nicolay, Michael Burlingame