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520. Henry C. Whitney to William H. Herndon.

August 23d 1887.

Friend Herndon

Your three letters are all at hand to day on my return from a three weeks trip East. on my return last night I passed through Greencastle at midnight but had no idea you was there. You should hav recd the last photo long since: I sent it and it is an admirable likeness: the best I have seen. I am going in for a "Lecture on Lincoln" and I need your endorsement: I will see you about it later. If the mail has lost the photo: I can replace it — but I presume it is not lost. I mailed it to Springfield.

As to the cause of Lincolns melancholy I have no facts whatever of my own: and my judgement & opinion are founded on matters that have been mentioned between us privately & which cannot be printed. From Lamon's life & what was


then stated I based my inference mainly: then my reasoning was that Lincolns melancholy was illogical & unexplainable by any course of observation or reasoning — it was ingrained & being ingrained could not be reduced to rule or the cause arrayed: and was necessarily hereditary — but whether it came from a long line and far back or was simply formed during the period of gestation cannot be determined. Stuart said it all arose from abnormal digestion — from the failure of his liver to work while Matheny said he wasnt melancholy at all. I can't help you on this & please don't mention me in connection with it. The thumps kicks &c. I know nothing about: really my ideas on the whole subject I got from Lamons life which really on that subject is not very clear: You owe an apology to the world for not having written that book after doing so excellent service in gathering such a world of material. I think if you had written such a work it would have been the most graphic American Biography of anyone.

You touch me on a tender chord when you ask about Lincoln & Davis. The latter is now dead: he had many virtues & some defects & I can never forget his kindness to me in the first years of my acquaintance: but I dont think Lincoln held Davis very close to his heart: he was too loquacious — too vain — too vacillating in his friendships: look at Davis' array of posthumous friends & where are they? & who are they? we tried to raise $1000.# to pay for a bust of Davis & I will tell you of the success so far as I pursued it: and I pursued it through all his friends that I knew.

Weldon cheerfully subscribed $100.# Bishop ditto: Frank Orme $50.00: Swett $100.# & then the thing stuck: altho' the widow Davis expressed some desire to pay for the whole thing. Clifton H. Moore refused: Jno. G. Nicolay refused: George Perrin Davis refused: Mrs Swayne refused: Jesse Fell refused to try to do anything: so you see that when Davis' autocratic force was withdrawn, all love must also. I think Davis had no influence on Lincoln: he believed in you — Swett — Williams — Browning — Judd — Logan — Stuart: but he despised O. L. Davis — & only barely tolerated D. Davis Weldon — C. H. Moore: he liked Cullom & Lamon — both: this he told me himself in 1856. when both wanted to run for Pros Atty. Look at Thurlow Weeds autobiography & you will there see Lincolns feeling of contempt for Davis portrayed. I think Lincoln meant just what he said & what might be implied from what he did say. I can give you some further facts about Lincoln & Davis (not very significant) from my own knowledge: and will do so if you desire when I get a moments leisure. I have forgotten what office Dubois wanted: but it was no secret in Springfield & elsewhere that he did want a specifically named office. It seems to me it was 5th Auditor: but I am not clear: but any one in Springfield will recollect. He made a strong effort for it & was greatly chagrined when he got defeated. I don't recollect what the office was or who got it. Nicolay can inform you on both points: I think Lincoln never had any intention


of appointing Davis to any office at all & was disgusted at Davis' hoggishness after office for himself — for H. Winter Davis his cousin & for all his personal friends: In this very short time after Lincoln took the Presidential oath; Davis sought him out & forced him to appoint Archy Williams District Judge of Kansas & Jno A. Jones, Supt. of statistics in the State dept. Lincoln felt very sore over this to my certain knowledge. I can repeat nearly verbatim what Lincoln said to me about it on March 5th 1861. Davis undoubtedly had Williams appointed to get him out of the way of filling Mc Leans vacancy: & he had Jones appointed from pure love. When Davis was appointed with Holt & Campbell to adjust the Freemont claims his rage at Lincoln knew no bounds: he sent for me to meet him at St Louis at the Planters House and he kept me there for 2 days discussing Lincoln & Davis &c. he substantially sent a message to Lincoln by me — but I never delivered it: but I did say to Lincoln in 1861. (July) "Davis thinks you ought to make him a Supreme Judge & it looks as if you ought to do it." Lincoln didn't make the least reply. I feel satisfied he had not the slightest idea of doing so then. But if you want these matters more fully developed I will do so at greater lengath.

I can't help you on the ante-natal influences: it is a mere theory which I will run out at some length as soon as I can get a little time if it will avail you any

In haste / as ever Your Friend
H C Whitney

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3391 — 92



1. WHH was at JWW's home in Greencastle, Indiana, during the month of August 1887, working on their biography of AL.

2. Lamon.

3. Possibly a reference to AL's being kicked by a horse as a boy. See §§24, 78. The story is told in greater detail in H&W (1889), 59.

4. Weed, 1:607.

5. See §530.

6. Justice John McLean of the U.S. Supreme Court died on April 4, 1861.

7. The commission (consisting of David Davis, Joseph Holt, and Hugh Campbell) was appointed by the president in October 1861 to dispose of unsettled claims arising from the troubled administration of Maj. Gen. John C. Frčmont.