122. George E. Baker to William H. Herndon.
Washington, Jan, 16, 1866.
My Dear Sir:
I have not by any means forgotten you and cannot consider you an "entire Stranger".
I doubt if it is proper or even possible for me to give you very intelligent replies to your inquiries, as to my views of Mr. Lincoln.
I have always said that his greatest lack was experience as an Executive and as a Statesman — and it was in my judgment a most serious deficiency. But his originality unaffected simplicity and devotion to duty impressed me with a great love and veneration for him.
After three years in the Presidency a marked improvement in his executive ability was apparent and six years I believe would have shown still greater improvement.
I think it is idle for any intelligent man to say he was peculiarly fitted or well fitted for an Executive. Under the circumstances he may have been the man for President, But it cannot be truly said that he displayed any ability except we bring all the extraordinary circumstances into the view with him.
161His success it seems to me consisted very much in the confidence and respect he won from the people. Other wiser, greater and as good men might not have won this and then all would have been lost in some of our great crises.
So no one can overestimate Abraham Lincoln's services to the country.
In some haste
I am yours truly
Geo. E. Baker.
Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:299 — 300