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606. Thomas Mather (Jesse W. Weik Interview).

[ca. 1883]

"Entering the room," related Mather in later years, "I found the old warrior, grizzly and wrinkled, propped up in the bed by an embankment of pillows behind his back. His hair and beard were considerably disordered, the flesh seemed to lay in rolls across the warty face and neck, and his breathing was not without great labor. In his hand he still held Lincoln's letter. He was weak from long-continued illness, and trembled very perceptibly. It was evident that the message from Lincoln had wrought up the old veteran's feelings. ‘General Mather,’ he said to me, in great agitation, ‘present my compliments to Mr. Lincoln when you return to Springfield, and tell him I expect him to come on to Washington as soon as he is ready. Say to him that I'll look after those Maryland and Virginia rangers myself; I'll plant cannon at both ends of Pennsylvania avenue, and if any of them show their heads or raise a finger I'll blow them to hell.’ On my return to Springfield," concludes Mather, "I hastened to assure Mr. Lincoln that, if Scott were alive on the day of the inauguration, there need be no alarm lest the performance be interrupted by any one. I felt certain the hero of Lundy's Lane would give the matter the care and attention it deserved."

Herndon & Weik (1889), 492-93



1. JWW wrote in The Real Lincoln: "I knew General Mather well, and when I was in Springfield often heard him relate the incidents of his trip to Washington [in 1861]" (1922:304). The account given there (304-6) conveys the same anecdote but in entirely different words. As no original has been found, the text given here is from H&W (1889) as being closer to the time of JWW's interviews with Mather in the 1880s.

2. Gen. Winfield Scott.

3. Threats to AL's inaugural had been made by secessionist sympathizers in Maryland and Virginia.