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241. David Davis (William H. Herndon Interview).

20th Sept 1866

Mr Lincoln was not a social man by any means: his Stories — jokes &c. which were done to whistle off sadness are no evidences of sociality: he loved the struggling masses — all uprising towards a higher Civilization had his assent & his prayer. His was a peculiar nature

Lincoln had no spontaneity — nor Emotional Nature — no Strong Emotional feelings for any person — Mankind or thing. He never thanked me for any thing I did — never as I before said asked my advice about anything — never took my advice, Except as to the dollar: he asked no man advice — took no mans advice — listened patiently to all that had an idea —

I saw Browning at Chicago: he was 1st for Bates. I told him there was no Earthly Chance for him — Bates. Browning turned in and went for Lincoln heartily. Logan did nothing much — was not the kind of a man to go to men and order — Command or Coax Men to do what he wanted them to do — did not set up & toil — couldn't do so — was not in his nature.

Logan was beat for Congress by his own folly in connection with Lincolns momentary unpopularity. Logan told his friends at and around Delevan that his Election was sure — That they need not go to the polls. as they hated to vote for —

I don't Know anything about Lincoln's Religion — don't think anybody Knew. The idea that Lincoln talked to a stranger about his religion or religious views — or made such speeches, remarks &c about it as published is absurd to me. I Know the man so well: he was the most reticent — Secretive man I Ever Saw — or Expect to See. You know more about his religion than any man — you ought to Know it as a matter of Course.

Mr Lincoln was advised as Presdt that the various military trials in the Northern States — Even in the Southern border States where the Courts were open and untrammeled & free, were unconstitutional & wrong — and would not be sustained by the Supm Court — could not be — ought not to be. That such proceedings were dangerous to liberty — Mr Lincoln Said he was opposed to hanging — &c. That he did not love to Kill his fellow men — That if the world had no butchers but him he guessed the world would go bloodless. When ________ went to Lincoln about these military trials and asked him not to execute the men Convicted in Indiana, who had been Convicted by a military Commission he


said he wouldn't hang them — Execute them — but said — I guess I'll Keep them in prison awhile to prevent them from Killing the government. I am Satisfied that Lincoln was thoroughly opposed to these Military Commissions Especially in the free States, where the Courts were open — & free.

One word about Mr Lincoln as a lawyer &c. After he had returned from Congress and had lost his practice, Goodrich of Chicago proposed to him to open a law office in Chicago & go into partnership with him. Goodrich had an Extensive — a good practice there. Lincoln refused to accept — gave as a reason that he tended to Consumption — That if he went to Chicago that he would have to sit down and Study hard — That it would Kill him — That he would rather go around the Circuit — the 8 Judicial one than to sit down & die in Chicago. In my opinion I think Mr Lincoln was happy — as happy as he could be, when on this Circuit — and happy no other place. This was his place of Enjoyment. As a general rule when all the lawyers of a Saturday Evening would go home and see their families & friends at home Lincoln would refuse to go home — . It seemed to me that L was not domestically happy.

One time when I wanted to run for Circuit Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit Lincoln hadn't the manhood to come out for me in preference to Ben Edwards whom he despised — wouldn't do so because Ben was in the family — that is Ben Edwards bro Nin married Lincoln's wife's Sister. I had done Lincoln many, many favors — Electioneered for him — spent money for him — worked for him — toiled for him — still he wouldn't move. Lincoln I say again and again was a peculiar man. "None such."

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2655 — 58; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:45 — 48



1. Edward Bates, who would become the attorney general in AL's first cabinet.

2. Stephen T. Logan.

3. Possibly in WHH's hand: Joseph E. McDonald. See §§242, 554.