“He is not of Age”

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The day of the presidential election in November, 1864, was gloomy and rainy. About noon I called on President Lincoln, and to my surprise found him entirely alone, as if by common consent everybody had avoided the White House. It was “cabinet day,” and at the meeting, which had been held earlier, only two members of the cabinet were present. Stanton was at his home, sick with chills and fever; Seward, Usher, and Dennison had returned to their own States to vote; and Fessenden was closeted with New York financiers in conference over ways and means to place the new loan. So Secretary Welles and Attorney-General Bates were left to ” run the machine,” and very little time had been occupied by them at their session with the President. Lincoln took no pains to conceal his anxious interest in the result of the election then going on all over the country, and said: ‘I am just enough of a politician to know that there was not much doubt about the result of the Baltimore convention ; but about this thing I am very far from being certain. I wish I were certain.” I spent nearly all the afternoon with the President, who apparently found it difficult to put his mind on any of the routine work of his office, and entreated me to stay with him. In the course of the afternoon he told an amusing story about a pet turkey of his boy “Tad.” It appears that Jack, the turkey, whose life had been spared the year before, at Tad’s earnest request, had mingled with the “Bucktail” soldiers from Pennsylvania, quartered in the grounds on the river front of the White House. The soldiers were voting under the direction of a commission sent on from their State, as was the custom in several States in the Union, and Tad, bursting into his father’s office, had besought the President to come to the window and see the soldiers who were “voting for Lincoln and Johnson.” Noticing the turkey regarding the proceedings with evident interest, Lincoln asked the lad what business the turkey had stalking about the polls in that way. “Does he vote?” “No,” was the quick reply of the boy; “he is not of age.” The good President dearly loved the boy, and for days thereafter he took great pride in relating this anecdote illustrative of Tad’s quick-wittedness.

Noah Brooks, Washington, D.C., in Lincoln’s Time, ed. Herbert Mitgang  (Chicago: Quadrangle  Books, 1971; Athens, Ga., and  London: University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 51.

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    April 20, 2020 at 22:48

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