tv The Civil War Edwin Stanton Lincolns Assassination Aftermath CSPAN April 8, 2018 5:10pm-6:01pm EDT
recently traveled to norman, oklahoma, to learn about its rich history area learn about more about norman -- rich history. learn more about norman on our website. american history tv was recently at fort's theatre in washington dc for the 21st annual symposium hosted by the abraham lincoln institute and the ford's theatre society. talks about star the role edward stanton played after lincoln's assassination, including overseeing the trials of the conspiratorial. conspirrials of the ators. welcome back to our final
speaker of the afternoon. for those of you who celebrate, happy st. patrick's day today. i am michelle and i am here with the abraham lincoln institute. our next speaker has been described by his enemies and ,dmirers as irritable capricious, goodhearted, devoted, patriotic, duplicitous, aggressive, resilient, strong-willed, hateful, cruel, honest, unselfish, fearless, obsequious, incorruptible. to abraham lincoln, this man was indispensable. this litany of adjectives was not applied to our next speaker,
walter stahr. i already ruined the punchline. rather to the subject of his latest biography, the always fascinating edwin stanton. walter only shares the qualities that made stanton indispensable like diligence, persistence, and the ability to organize mountains of data. like stanton, walter stahr's background is in the law. after graduating from harvard, walter joined a law firm that focused on international law and this became walter's legal specialty with an emphasis on legal work relating to asia. walter's work went in a new direction in the early 2000 when he turned his attention to writing biographies of other notable lawyers in american history. his biography of john jay was published in 2005 to be followed by biographies of william seward and edwin stanton.
he is currently working on a biography of salmon chase. i recently learned from walter that the library of congress was an important factor in his path to becoming the historian we welcome today. as a young lawyer in the pre-internet age, he researched state law questions in the law library. from there he progressed to researching family history and local history. that led to visits to the main reading room, the manuscript division and the rare books and special collections division to research his biography of john jay. walter compared the contact high from doing historic research to taking drugs. [laughter] >> honestly, he said mainlining heroin but i do not think that was appropriate. just say no to drugs. in his own words there is no hope for the addict at that point. you are talking to the man who has taken the redeye flight from
california and taken a taxi directly to the library of congress. we are grateful there is as yet no 12-step program to cure walter stahr of his research addiction. speaking about lincoln's mars, edwin stanton, please join me in welcoming walter stahr. [applause] walter: thank you for that kind introduction. i was going to start on april 14, right here in ford's theater, but listening to some of the earlier speakers i thought i should go back before april 14. let's start on april 3, 1865. at 10:00 in the morning, a telegram arrives in the war department, a much smaller, more modest building. it is a telegram from richmond.
after four years, the union army has finally entered richmond. word flashes around the war department building and the clerks run out into the streets shouting. a large crowd has gathered in front of the war department demanding a speech from stanton, the secretary of war. he stepped out overcome by emotion and he says, friends and fellow citizens, at this great hour of my triumph, my heart is penetrated -- to almighty god for his deliverance of this nation. our thanks is due to the president, the army and navy, the gallant men who have risked their lives on the battlefield and drenched the soil with their blood. henceforth our commiseration and our age should be given to the wounded and the suffering. they bear the marks of their great sacrifices in this mighty
struggle. let us humbly offer up our thanks to divine providence for care over us and beseech him that he will guide and govern us in our duties hereafter as he has carried us to victory in the past and tedious to be humble in the midst of triumph, just in the hour of victory, and enable us to secure the foundations of this republic so that they have -- of this republic, soaked in blood, so that may live forever and ever. if you hear echoes there of lincoln's second inaugural, you are right, this is stanton's second inaugural. this is a fairly sober speech. i assure you that night in washington there was drinking and fireworks in celebration and that continued over the next few days with news that lee had surrendered and sherman was about to capture the last large
confederate army. it was a time of unrestrained rejoicing in washington. then on april 14, 1865, news arrived that someone had shot lincoln at ford's theater and that at the same time, someone had slashed and stabbed secretary of state seward in his home at lafayette square. stanton was incredulous. indeed he had been with him an hour ago. he had been injured in a carriage accident and was confined to his bed. ,ver his wife's protests
stanton headed over and realize to his horror that it was true. someone had slashed the secretary of state about the face and neck and he had survived and was able to talk to stanton briefly. stanton went back downstairs and with gideon welles, the two of them got into the carriage and came here to 10th street. the street was so crowded with people exchanging whatever rumors and news they had that they had to get out of their carriage and walk. i do not know how they learned that lincoln was no longer here in ford's in that box there, that he had been carried across the street to the peterson house. they did learn, and so they entered the peterson house and that is where my stanton book begins. with a short burly man pushing his way through the crowd, up the staircase, into the peterson
house, into the back bedroom where lincoln is lying diagonally on a bed, dying. stanton learned from the doctors within one minute that lincoln would never open his eyes. rather than go to the war department, he decided to stay put. he went into the next room, he sat down at a small table and went to work. his first message was to general grant, who was on a train headed north to see his family in new jersey. he said come back to washington. following up with a message saying take care of your personal security. messages to close the bridges, question those leaving washington, arrest suspicious persons. he summoned folks from ford's across the street to the peterson house because he wanted to question witnesses while their memory was still fresh. he was a lawyer, he knew the value of questioning witnesses
right away. when his aides could not keep up with the question and answers in long hand, he said find me someone who can take shorthand. soon a crippled clerk found himself sitting next to the secretary of war taking shorthand notes. stanton also sent out a series of what we would call press releases, telegrams addressed to general john dix in new york city which were disseminated immediately to the nation's newspapers. let me read the first few lines of the first of those messages, sent at about 1:00 in the morning on april 15. "this evening at about 9:30 p.m., at ford's theater, while sitting in his private box with mrs. lincoln and major wrath burn, was shot by an assassin who approached the president.
the assassin leaped upon the stage brandishing a large dagger or knife and made his escape to the rear of the theater. the pistol ball entered the back of the president's head and penetrated nearly through the head. the wound is mortal. the president has been insensible ever since it was inflicted and is now dying." those of you who are lincoln assassination buffs will have noted a couple minor errors in what i read compared to what happened. i will not reveal them now. overall, the message goes on to talk about seward and seward's son. and to describe the assassins to the extent he could. it is an amazingly detailed, amazingly accurate description of the events in ford's and at the seward house written within a couple hours of those events. in another of these press releases, and a few hours later,
-- sent a few hours later, stanton reported that a letter found in booth's trunk at the hotel shows the murder was planned before the fourth of march but fell through because beforeomplice backed out richmond could be heard from. even before lincoln passed away, stanton was focused on what would become his obsession -- proving that john wilkes booth was not just a man man, proving that he was paid and working for the confederate government. early the next morning, stanton was in the back bedroom as lincoln died. stanton supposedly said, right after lincoln's death, "now he belongs to the ages." i say supposedly because i do not think stanton said that. there were detailed accounts
written about lincoln's last hours and last minutes and death right after the assassination. some of them appeared in the newspapers, some of them were in private letters, including a long letter by james tanner. none of those accounts mention stanton saying anything right after lincoln died. what they describe is how lincoln's pastor let everyone in prayer and then people dispersed. those words first appear in print in 1890, when lincoln's secretaries hay and nikolay are publishing their biography of lincoln. i am not saying i'm not 100% sure he did not say it. hay was there, it is possible. i think if stanton had said anything so memorable, it would have somehow survived in print before 1890.
going back to april of 1865, stanton was incredibly busy in the days and weeks that followed the assassination organizing the funeral in washington, d.c. organizing the route for the funeral train that would take lincoln's remains back to the sacred ground of springfield. organizing the manhunt, the investigation into this complicated plot to assassinate not only lincoln but also johnson and perhaps stanton and grant. on april 20, stanton spent part of the day drafting what is one of the most famous things from the lincoln assassination, the poster offering rewards for the capture of john wilkes booth and his colleagues. "let the stain of innocent blood be removed from the land by the arrest and punishment of the murderers." a draft of that and stanton's
own hands is in the archives of the new york historical society. here in washington in the files of the national archives is the record of the investigation, such as the record exists, and that shows that stanton directed the investigation. there is a note in stanton's hand directing his aides to collate the evidence about the horses that were used by john wilkes booth and his colleague powell, the man who stabbed seward. for about two weeks after lincoln's death, stanford had no idea where john wilkes booth was. there were rumors all of the country that john wilkes booth was here. my favorite is from chicago, that john wilkes booth was in a brothel dressed as a woman amidst the prostitutes.
we cannot disregard it. stanton said a message to military authorities in chicago to go to the brothels and check it out. yes, there were clues pointing to what we know as the escape route, which you can take if you take the tour. there were clues pointing every other direction, and moreover he had another problem, that is that he and no ideas where jefferson davis was and he was hunting for jefferson davis as well. the reports were that davis intended to reunite with the rebel army and to die fighting in mexico or texas or some such place. it was not until the 26th of april that two detectives showed up at stanton's house to report that they had got john wilkes booth. they described for stanton how booth had been located at a barn and surrounded, how his colleague surrendered, there was a shot and then there was another shot. one of the federal soldiers shot
booth. booth was shot but he lingered a while on the porch of the farmhouse and then died. they brought the objects they had taken from booth's body including a diary. he looked at them all and gave them back to the detective. he gave orders that the body should be taken to a secure place and there should be a medical and dental examination. he wanted to be 100% sure that this was john wilkes booth. booth was dead and his colleagues were in prison, more precisely on prison ships anchored in the potomac river. stanton now turned his attention to the military commission that would try the john wilkes booth conspirators. it was controversial, but it was an easy decision for stanton to
use a military commission rather than a civil court to try the murderers. after all, there were dozens of military commissions in progress at that moment, trying man on -- men on charges of attempted arson in new york city or attempted sabotage. if military commissions could be used to try those offenses, surely, stanton thought, a military commission was the proper way to try those who had attempted, who had indeed killed the military leader of the united states in the military capital of the united states. stanton prepared, in his own hand, the procedures for that military commission. they are at the new york historical society. he required the defense lawyers take the so-called ironclad oath that they had neither supported nor aided the rebellion in any
way. he wrote, " no reporters but the official reporter should be admitted in the courtroom" and as the trial started it started behind closed doors. this led to a firestorm of protest in the newspapers. the new york world referral to -- the new york world for example, referred to mr. stanton's star chamber and the new york tribune, usually supportive of the administration, wrote that there was a "curious old document in existence known as the constitution of the united states." [laughter] the tribune continued that since it appeared that no copy of this document was in washington, it's then quotes certain sections, including the section that guarantees criminals trial by jury. stanton relented somewhat. he opened the door of the military commission to selected newspaper reporters and thus the remainder of the trial, which went on for quite a while, was reported in detail in the
newspapers. one of the hundreds of witnesses who testified that one of the defendants, michael was at stanton's house on the night before the murders asking questions about stanton and his habits. this and other evidence was notted that stanton only conducted the investigation, he was conducting an investigation into his own attempted murder as well as the murder of lincoln and the attempted murder of seward. there were eight defendants ranging from lewis powell, the man who had slashed seward, to mary surratt who ran the boarding house a few blocks of from here where john wilkes booth had stayed. stanton trying to prove not only the guilt of those eight defendants but to prove that they were working for richmond. in my view, this was a mistake. he should have waited to try to
prove the richmond/booth connection connection until she had more evidence from richmond, from canada, from banks, from other witnesses -- but stanton was never a man to wait. the commission convicted all of the defendants and sentenced for them to die after reaching their decision in june. surrat.luded mary summe five members of the commission wrote a petition to president johnson recommending that mary surratt, on account of her age and sex, not be executed. the sentences were not announced immediately in the newspapers judge advocate, the prosecutor in effect, joseph hold had to present the -- to present, had the proposed findings and sentences to president johnson. johnson was ill. so it took a couple of days.
on the fifth of july, johnson and hold finally had the meeting. in later years, the two men fought, and their allies fought, and down to this day, historians fight about whether johnson was showed the petition regarding mary surratt. i will take a pass on that one. whether he did or not show the petition, we know that johnson confirmed the sentences, they were announced the next day, the sixth of july, to take effect on the following day, the seventh of july, the four convicted defendants were executed on that day at about noon. this chapter of my book ends with the grim picture of the four bodies hanging from the gallows on that day.
stanton himself only lived four more years. he died in december of 1869, just after being nominated and confirmed to the supreme court, a position he was never able to fill. within weeks after he was dead, some newspapers were claiming that stanton had died by his own hand rather than bear the torture which was his own to bear from the execution of mary surratt. the longer version of this story appeared a few years later in which stanton's black servant was supposedly shaving stanton and tapped across the room for a moment and turned to see the razor slide across stanton's throat. yes. dramatic stuff. story, stanton's dr. wrote a long newspaper
article listing all the people who were present that stanton -- stanton's doctor wrote a long newspaper article listing all the people who were present that stanton died of congestive heart failure. he also found stanton's former servant and got affidavits from them about the circumstances of stanton's death, particularly that there were no/marks around -- that there were no slash marks around his neck. in 1937, a book was published entitled "why was lincoln murdered?" and the answer to that was simple -- stanton wanted him dead. yeah. to the book,rding wanted lincoln out of the way because the two of them disagreed about reconstruction, and with lincoln gone stan could gone, stanton could impose his own ideas about reconstruction. the book argued mainly through questions. for example, why did that first message not mention john wilkes booth by name? why did stanton deny lincoln a
stronger guard here in ford's theater? why did stanton not give strict orders that booth was to be captured and not killed? is it possible that stanton wanted booth dead so booth could not tell his tale, pointing toward stanton's own role? you get the general drift of it. serious historians were not especially impressed. i would not mention this book, the author is long gone, but for the fact that in a sense this argument that stanton had a role in the assassination is alive and well. in a 2011 book by bill o'reilly and martin dugard, they resurrect the argument, using the same insinuation method. [applause] using the same shall i call it,
question and insinuation method. for example, they suggest at one point that stanton hoped that if both lincoln and johnson were killed, that stanton himself could become president. that is nonsense. i mean, the act of succession in place at the time, provided that the order was president, vice president, the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives. the secretary of war is not on the list. if there had been an election, everyone would have said there is no chance for stanton given all the things he has done to -- during the war, that make him unpopular, would be a candidate for president. that book, if some of you may recall, i am sure the ford's people know, there was a controversy about whether that book should be stocked in the bookstore at the ford's theater and the park service decided not to stock it, viewing it as not sufficiently serious.
[applause] walter: that is an appropriate point to applaud because i will end and field questions. seward questions, stanton questions, assassination questions, whatever you would like to ask about. [applause] walter: yes. >> in your book you go over a lot of the times he had disagreements with various generals. he had an opinion about everybody. from fitzjohn porter tell you leases as grant -- ulysses s grant. he particularly had problems with william sherman in regards to atlanta, there was an issue where sherman issued an order about recruiting black laborers who were working with sherman's army. how many times did stanton have an issue with sherman and did
they have to have a meeting, or you have stanton going back to president lincoln, how many times was that occurring over the war and how did that complicate things? otherwise it became clear that sherman was probably not falling what the law was. walter: as secretary of war, he has relations with all of the major generals and those range from reasonably warm in the case of stanton and grant, to atrocious, in the case of stanton and mcclellan. sherman is somewhere in the middle. on, how should we say, practical and tactical things, stanton and sherman see eye to eye, and sherman is grateful for the rapid and whole some support the war department provides to him for the march from atlanta to the sea and the restocking in
savanna, and the march north to the carolinas. but the issue upon which stanton and sherman disagree is black soldiers. stanton, from the time of the emancipation proclamation, indeed even before the emancipation proclamation is keen to recruit blacks into the army and sherman will have none of it. sherman believes that blacks are not ready to be soldiers in his army and he pretty much succeeds all the way through in ensuring that blacks are not part of his army. this is the issue, the main issue, there are other issues , that lead stanton in early 1865, to govern a boat and go down to savanna, to see sherman face-to-face to talk about this.
-- to get on a boat and go down to savanna, to see sherman face-to-face to talk about this. amazingly, the two of them agree on what becomes sherman's most famous wartime's document, the special order number 15, which reserves the sea islands for blacks and says no whites can enter this space other than those in the army and with army passes. sherman liked it because it was going to keep the black refugees, who from his perspective were clogging the h, and near savanna stanton liked it, as did his philanthropic friends in the north because it created a temporary experiment in black self-government. so the stanton-sherman relationship is the most complicated, because it is neither black or white. it is a mixture of -- they get along well on some issues and not on this issue. yes? >> a similar question. [laughter]
i noticed in the museum, that there was a single guard in the box. when the president was shot, that guard was out getting a drink. was he ever identified and punished? and was he ever tied in with the possible conspiracy with booth? walter: i do not know the answer to that. i think he was identified for sure. by the end of the investigation, they are the names of almost everyone who was here in the theater. whether he was punished for dereliction of duty, by our standards, the security around lincoln was ridiculously lax. stanton did talk with lincoln about this from time to time. the president said if somebody wants me dead, they will kill me. it was not just that night that
the security around the president was lax, it was lax all the time, you could walk into the white house. over here. >> you've written two interesting books which i have read, first about seward and come i haven't read the john jay book, but we also -- but the book. you have installed. the heart of your stanton book, i haven't read the book on john jay, but i read the one on seward and the one about stanton. the heart of your stanton book, you do not get into today, but that is his service during the lincoln administration and all that he did on recruitment and direction of the army, the organization of the bureaucracy, i think you have great insight in your book about what he did. but your book about seward, referred to him as the indispensable man.
or lincoln's indispensable man. it occurs to me, having read both books, that of the two, who could have replaced stanton, who could have done what he did in the way he did to lead lincoln's department of war? walter: midway through the stanton book, as i was thinking about the title, i felt a little like the late jim fix published the complete book of running, then when it came time to publish the sequel, he thought , what would you call it? if it was in complete? -- i don't know. stanton himself at some point in 1864 or 1865, someone asked him that question because his health was bad, he said there were other men who could do what i was able to do. i am not sure. joseph holdt was considered by
early 1962 as a potential secretary of war but i do not think he would have as effective as stanton was in organizing the war department, in organizing the army, in some sense, organizing the north to bring the northern manpower and industrial advantages to bear steadily in fighting and reducing the south. so i am not sure that there were, as stanton claimed in that men in then, 100 north who could do the job that he did. i think it is a small number who could have accomplished what he did in the war department. yes? >> as stanton came into lincoln's cabinet he was a war democrat. did he ever actually changes political affiliation to that of a republican as he continued to support lincoln? walter: no. he lived here in the district of columbia, where one cannot vote
for president in political lines. he lived here in the district of columbia, where one cannot vote fo3r president and political lines. he was not a registered democrat because that concept did not exist. i think if you had asked him in 1864, when he spends a great deal of time on the lincoln reelection campaign, are you still democrat, he would say yes. i'm a union loving democrat like andrew johnson, like thousands of other union loving democrats and i would support the union party. lincoln's second presidential campaign was not run as a "republican," it was run as a union party candidate. this would've been stanton's answer in the election of 1868, when he campaigned for grant against the democratic nominee, if he had been asked are you
still democrat, he would've said i still believe those things i believed as a democrat but it is far more important to preserve the union and elect grant than to continue the policies of the -- of lincoln and elect grant. >> i have read your new book, and i believe stanton and lincoln were together in some piece of litigation before the war and had some interaction. could you refresh my memory? memory? walter: this is actually -- stanton and lincoln are both lawyers. they are both hired on the same side of a patent case. the patent case was originally set for trial in illinois. lincoln was hired as a local expert, the guy who would tell you the judge's pet peeves, the case was then transferred to cincinnati. it was going to be tried in cincinnati, ohio, and no one
bothered to tell lincoln that he was not needed. so he showed up. we know he was there. his name is reported in the newspapers. stanton was there, they had some interaction. it is usually said, you can find it in dozens of books that stanton insulted lincoln at that time. stanton insulted a lot of people a lot of the time. it is quite possible that he did, but when you look at the sources for that proposition, there is no letter from lincoln to his wife saying i have never been so insulted in my life as i was by that edwin stanton. there are letters from edwin stanton to his then fiance and soon-to-be wife describing what is going on and they do not even mention lincoln. they do not say anything like that contemptible lincoln. all of the sources are after both lincoln and stanton are
long dead and they are of the nature of, well, my uncle told me that -- i am not sure. but that they met in cincinnati, that they had that one brief period of work on that patent case together, yes they were there together. they did know one another. over here. sorry, i need to alternate. yes? >> stanton was in the cabinets of two other administrations, johnson and buchanan. i guess we tend to focus on a and the impeachment and all of that. what is important to know about his service in the buchanan cabinet? walter: after the election of lincoln, as the southern states 's -- to secede, the canon
buchanan's cabinet starts to fall apart. he needs a reliable democrats to fill short-term positions. stanton's close friend jeremiah black has been the attorney general and black says here is a reliable democrat, edwin stanton, make him the attorney general. which he does. in those days it does not take months and months for confirmation in those days, it was instantaneous. as a lawyer, i was looking forward to stanton as attorney general, oh boy, i said, you know that there are going to be interesting legal opinions and issues that he wrestled with -- no. none. but, he wrestles with the issue of fort sumter. buchanan was debating whether to hand the keys of fort sumter over to the southerners. and the cabinet debated this issue at considerable length in late december, and it is reported in great detail in the newspapers. stanton, along with black, form but you might call the "don't
the buchanan of cabinet. indeed, stanton reportedly told buchanan to his face that if he gave up fort sumter, he would go down in american history with benedict arnold, another man who gave up another fort. he was not a man to mince words. so his service in the buchanan cabinet is basically arguing buchanan out of things buchanan is thinking of doing and pushing buchanan. we tend to forget that before the incidents that led to the firing on fort sumter, there was the star of the west, and which buchanan tried to get arms into fort sumter and stanton was in favor of that. so, stiffening buchanan's spine is the short version of stanton service during the three months he serves as attorney general for buchanan.
over here. >> you refer to stanton's use of military tribunals to try, convict, and execute the conspirators which happened in less than three months. was there any sort of public outcry for the use of a civil involvement iny the supreme court, perhaps? walter: that was something -- you do a book like this, you do not make huge contributions to history, but i thought that that was a small contribution to history. i found a number of newspapers that criticized not only the trail was going to occur behind closed doors, but that it would be a military trial rather than a standard criminal trial in a civilian court. that criticism died down a lot once the doors were opened and the newspapers had something to report. but there was criticism at the
time of the decision to use a military commission. as i said, for stanton, this is not a particularly hard issue. from pretty much the day he , he andecretary of war he's colleagues were using military commissions to try offenses against the law of war. clearly were are clearly offenses against the law of war -- spying for the confederates, sabotaging railroad bridges, but some of them when you look at them you say that feels more political than a military crime. but there were thousands of justary commissions, not on and near the battlefield, but in ohio, indiana, new york, massachusetts. so by the time that the trial of the booth conspirators came up, it was easy for stand. -- dead easy for stanton.
i do not have any documents in which he is considering the pros and cons. a jury in the district of columbia? no. he does not want to present his case to a jury of southern - sympathizing residents of the district of columbia. he wants to present his case to a panel of generals who he chose and who ultimately answer to him. yes? >> are you familiar with, and how ridiculous are, the conspiracy theories. one that i read claimed that the guy shot in the barn was not booth, but somebody named boyd, and that years later, he got away and john wilkes booth was sighted somewhere else. walter: i am slightly familiar, because i mentioned in my talks, stanton foresaw this. in a sense. he knew that 20 years, 100 years later, there would be such theories.
so he did everything he could with the body of john wilkes booth in order to prove that this was john wilkes booth. he not only had doctors examine the body, he had john wilkes booth's dentist look at the teeth and say this is john wilkes booth. and among other things, on the tattoo, jwb.as a you have to bear in mind, booth was one of the most famous actors in america. when he walked into the theater, everyone would say, that is john wilkes booth. so i view this as almost impossible, that it was someone other than john wilkes booth whose body was shot at the barn and brought here and ultimately buried on stanton's instructions. >> i actually do think your comment about the drug addiction with the research is very funny
and very appropriate. [laughter] i do not want to make it sound like it was inappropriate. to the point, since stanton and chase were such intimate friends in the 1840's, what trajectory of their friendship or relationship do they have during the lincoln administration while they are serving together? walter: as michelle says, if you had asked stanton on the day he became a member of the lincoln cabinet, which of these people sitting around the table do you know, he would've said salmon chase. he is known him for 20 years. they had not been as close in the immediate run-up to the war. their politics had diverged dramatically. when they were close friends they were both self identified democrats. stanton remains a democrat, chase becomes a liberty party man, then a free soil, then a republican. during the war there is not a lot of personal interaction.
there are a few details, a letter in which stanton writes that one of his children is going to be baptized and he would like chase to be the godfather. there are more numerous or testy letters in which chase is chastising stanton for spending money to rapidly and stanton is -- spending money too rapidly, and stanton is chastising chase for not providing money quickly enough to win the war. lots of bureaucratic fights between the treasury department. so how to put it, i think they are like two people who remember they were once friends and they have grown apart and if you are yoursk chase, who best friends in washington, he would not have included, during the lincoln years, would not have included stanton on that list.
i am told i have time for one last question. >> hi, walter, how are you doing? it was interesting you talked about the generals having to answer to stanton on the tribunal. one of the things i found interesting was how little the generals thought they had to answer to stanton or lincoln. if we tried to run wars today the way they ran wars then, it is insanity. lincoln and stanton would say do this and the generals would sit there. can you talk about that a little bit? walter: the prime example of this would be general george mcclellan in 1862. lincoln issues a presidential order -- the army shall move on washington's birthday.
nothing happens. then lincoln and stanton press mcclellan to press on towards richmond, to capture richmond. he does, inch by inch. i love that this morning, the original virginia creeper, just kind of creeping toward richmond. [laughter] the generals, and mcclellan is a prime example of this. because they were in the newspapers every day, they had a certain political power themselves. they had political followers. they knew that they do not have to do everything washington ordered them to do. the means of communication were much more rudimentary than we have today. yes, there were telegraphs, but the telegram often went down and some generals were not beyond saying the telegraph lines were down when they had simply received in order they did not want to pay attention to.
it is not just mcclellan. all lost, -- a lot sherman, with , respect to the black troops disregarded it and he was quite confident in his relationship to grant and his relationship with his brother, senator john sherman, and his power base in ohio, that he was not going to be sacked. the generals in those days felt much more authority to take telegrams from washington as advisory rather than as orders. i think i am done. we will have the panel of all six of us momentarily. [applause] >> thank you for announcing our panel.
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