|Walt Whitman (18191892). Prose Works. 1892.|
|V. November Boughs|
|18. Small Memoranda|
ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE, Washington, Aug. 22, 1865.As I write this, about noon, the suite of rooms here is filld with southerners, standing in squads, or streaming in and out, some talking with the Pardon Clerk, some waiting to see the Attorney General, others discussing in low tones among themselves. All are mainly anxious about their pardons. The famous 13th exception of the Presidents Amnesty Proclamation of, makes it necessary that every secessionist, whose property is worth $20,000 or over, shall get a special pardon, before he can transact any legal purchase, sale, &c. So hundreds and thousands of such property owners have either sent up here, for the last two months, or have been, or are now coming personally here, to get their pardons. They are from Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and every southern State. Some of their written petitions are very abject. Secession officers of the rank of Brigadier General, or higher, also need these special pardons. They also come here. I see streams of the $20,000 men, (and some women,) every day. I talk now and then with them, and learn much that is interesting and significant. All the southern women that come (some splendid specimens, mothers, &c.) are dressd in deep black.
Thousands losthere one or two preservd.
| Immense numbers (several thousands) of these pardons have been passd upon favorably; the Pardon Warrants (like great deeds) have been issued from the State Department, on the requisition of this office. But for some reason or other, they nearly all yet lie awaiting the Presidents signature. He seems to be in no hurry about it, but lets them wait.|| 2|
| The crowds that come here make a curious study for me. I get along, very sociably, with any of themas I let them do all the talking; only now and then I have a long confab, or ask a suggestive question or two.|| 3|
| If the thing continues as at present, the property and wealth of the Southern States is going to legally rest, for the future, on these pardons. Every single one is made out with the condition that the grantee shall respect the abolition of slavery, and never make an attempt to restore it.|| 4|
| Washington, Sept. 8, 9, &c., 1865.The arrivals, swarms, &c., of the $20,000 men seeking pardons, still continue with increasd numbers and pertinacity. I yesterday (I am a clerk in the U. S. Attorney Generals office here) made out a long list from Alabama, nearly 200, recommended for pardon by the Provisional Governor. This list, in the shape of a requisition from the Attorney General, goes to the State Department. There the Pardon Warrants are made out, brought back here, and then sent to the President, where they await his signature. He is signing them very freely of late.|| 5|
| The President, indeed, as at present appears, has fixd his mind on a very generous and forgiving course toward the returnd secessionists. He will not countenance at all the demand of the extreme Philo-African element of the North, to make the right of negro voting at elections a condition and sine qua non of the reconstruction of the United States south, and of their resumption of co-equality in the Union.|| 6|
| A glint inside of Abraham Lincolns Cabinet appointments. One item of many.While it was hanging in suspense who should be appointed Secretary of the Interior, (to take the place of Caleb Smith,) the choice was very close between Mr. Harlan and Col. Jesse K. Dubois, of Illinois. The latter had many friends. He was competent, he was honest, and he was a man. Mr. Harlan, in the race, finally gaind the Methodist interest, and got himself to be considerd as identified with it; and his appointment was apparently askd for by that powerful body. Bishop Simpson, of Philadelphia, came on and spoke for the selection. The President was much perplexd. The reasons for appointing Col. Dubois were very strong, almost insuperableyet the argument for Mr. Harlan, under the adroit position he had placd himself, was heavy. Those who pressd him adducd the magnitude of the Methodists as a body, their loyalty, more general and genuine than any other sectthat they represented the West, and had a right to be heardthat all or nearly all the other great denominations had their representatives in the heads of the governmentthat they as a body and the great sectarian power of the West, formally askd Mr. Harlans appointmentthat he was of them, having been a Methodist ministerthat it would not do to offend them, but was highly necessary to propitiate them.|| 7|
| Mr. Lincoln thought deeply over the whole matter. He was in more than usual tribulation on the subject. Let it be enough to-say that though Mr. Harlan finally receivd the Secretaryship, Col. Dubois came as near being appointed as a man could, and not be. The decision was finally made one night about 10 oclock. Bishop Simpson and other clergymen and leading persons in Mr. Harlans behalf, had been talking long and vehemently with the President. A member of Congress who was pressing Col. Duboiss claims, was in waiting. The President had told the Bishop that he would make a decision that evening, and that he thought it unnecessary to be pressd any more on the subject. That night he calld in the M. C. above alluded to, and said to him: Tell Uncle Jesse that I want to give him this appointment, and yet I cannot. I will do almost anything else in the world for him I am able. I have thought the matter all over, and under the circumstances think the Methodists too good and too great a body to be slighted. They have stood by the government, and helpd us their very best. I have had no better friends; and as the case stands, I have decided to appoint Mr. Harlan.|| 8|
NOTE TO A FRIEND.
| || [Written on the fly-leaf of a copy of Specimen Days, sent to Peter Doyle, at Washington, June, 1883.]|
Pete, do you remember(of course you doI do well)those great long jovial walks we had at times for years, (186672) out of Washington Cityoften moonlight nightsway to Good Hope;or, Sundays, up and down the Potomac shores, one side or the other, sometimes ten miles at a stretch? Or when you workd on the horse-cars, and I waited for you, coming home late togetheror resting and chatting at the Market, corner 7th Street and the Avenue, and eating those nice musk or watermelons? Or during my tedious sickness and first paralysis (73) how you used to come to my solitary garret-room and make up my bed, and enliven me, and chat for an hour or soor perhaps go out and get the medicines Dr. Drinkard had orderd for mebefore you went on duty?
Give my love to dear Mrs. and Mr. Nash, and tell them I have not forgotten them, and never will.
WRITTEN IMPROMPTU IN AN ALBUM.
GERMANTOWN, PHILA., Dec. 26, 83.
In memory of these merry Christmas days and nightsto my friends Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Churchie, May, Gurney, and little Aubrey.
A heavy snow-storm blocking up everything, and keeping us in. But souls, hearts, thoughts, unloosd. And soone and all, little and bighavnt we had a good time?
THE PLACE GRATITUDE FILLS IN A FINE CHARACTER.
From the Philadelphia Press, Nov. 27, 1884, (Thanksgiving number.)
Scene.A large family supper party, a night or two ago, with voices and laughter of the young, mellow faces of the old, and a by-and-by pause in the general jovialty. Now, Mr. Whitman, spoke up one of the girls, what have you to say about Thanksgiving? Wont you give us a sermon in advance, to sober us down? The sage nodded smilingly, lookd a moment at the blaze of the great wood fire, ran his forefinger right and left through the heavy white moustache that might have otherwise impeded his voice, and began: Thanksgiving goes probably far deeper than you folks suppose. I am not sure but it is the source of the highest poetryas in parts of the Bible. Ruskin, indeed, makes the central source of all great art to be praise (gratitude) to the Almighty for life, and the universe with its objects and play of action.
| We Americans devote an official day to it every year; yet I sometimes fear the real article is almost dead or dying in our self-sufficient, independent Republic. Gratitude, anyhow, has never been made half enough of by the moralists; it is indispensable to a complete character, mans or womansthe disposition to be appreciative, thankful. That is the main matter, the element, inclinationwhat geologists call the trend. Of my own life and writings I estimate the giving thanks part, with what it infers, as essentially the best item. I should say the quality of gratitude rounds the whole emotional nature; I should say love and faith would quite lack vitality without it. There are peopleshall I call them even religious people, as things go?who have no such trend to their disposition.|| 12|