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Fame, Fighting, Facade

Critical thinking activity to deconstruct primary sources to determine their validity and use as an objective resource.

Susan Amos

on 2 August 2016

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Transcript of Fame, Fighting, Facade

Invitation or illusion?
"His Excellency A. Lincoln,
President of the United States:

Can you not visit City Point for a day or two? I would like very much to see you, and I think the rest would do you good.

Respectfully, you &c.
U. S. Grant
“Your kind invitation received. Had already thought of going immediately after the next rain. Will go sooner if any reason for it. Mrs. L. and few others will probably accompany me. Will notify you of exact time, once it shall be fixed upon.

A. Lincoln”
Did Lincoln really believe that he would find rest and relaxation?
March 22, 1865

"The President's Health"

"We do not desire to create needless alarm in the minds of the people by heading this editorial with the above ominous caption. . . "

". . . Mr. Lincoln's physical powers have been tested beyond their capacity of endurance. . .

"Many who saw him at his inauguration, where the opportunity for noting the change in his personal appearance. . . were painfully impressed with his gaunt, skeleton-like appearance. . ."

Fame, Fighting, Facade
Does he need a vacation?
1860 vs. 1865
Does Lincoln's response raise any questions?
Left: Lincoln 1860 by Preston Butler
Right: Lincoln 1865 by Alexander Gardner
As you move through the presentation, read and answer the questions considering the following:

Do the writings reflect the author's true feelings or meanings?
How does this affect the value of primary sources in the context that it was written?
Can historians document the past accurately and objectively?
Why would General Grant invite President Lincoln to an active combat area (Petersburg, Virginia) and military camp at City Point, Virginia, in order to rest?
City Point Military Camp
Rebel Works
Petersburg, Virginia
General Grant and Julia at Military Headquarters, City Point, Virginia
According to historian Noah Trudeau in
Lincoln's Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24-April 8, 1865,
General Grant was lobbied by his wife Julia that President Lincoln needed a respite based on reports that she read in the newspapers related to his exhaustive state
Does this sound like a valid reason?

Was Julia trying to bolster her husband's fame and career, as well as, help the President?
Bruce Catton wrote in the introduction of
The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant

Julia remembers that her father warned Grant that she was not the sort to be happy as a soldier's wife. . .

Julia liked having her husband on a pedestal.
1860 circa
Julia & Ulysses S. Grant
by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
What would improve
Grant's reputation?
Author William McFeely made the following claims in his biography of Grant:
". . . war's great military hero, and he wanted to have at his elbow, when the war finally ended, its only greater hero- Abraham Lincoln."

"If Lincoln came, the two men could be together at the war's close, and there would be less risk of Grant's being left out of whatever was going to happen once the war was over."
How would employing the President's son and mentoring him affect Grant's career?
Robert Lincoln in uniform (1865). Library of Congress
"Executive Mansion, Washington,
January 19, 1865

Lieut. General Grant:

Please read and answer this letter as though I was not President, but only a friend. My son, now in his twenty second year,having graduated at Harvard, wishes to see something of the war before it ends. I do not wish to put him in the ranks, nor yet to give him a commission, to which those who have already served long, are better entitled, and better qualified to hold. Could he, without embarrassment to you, or detriment to the service, go into your Military family with some nominal rank, I and not the public, furnishing his necessary means? If no, say so without the least hesitation, because I am as anxious, and as deeply interested, that you shall not be encumbered as you can be yourself.

Yours truly,
A. Lincoln"
After receiving the following letter from President Lincoln, Robert Lincoln joined General Grant's staff as Captain and Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers.
Lincoln's Reply
to the
"Your kind invitation received."
Dead Confederate soldier
Fort Mahone
Battle of Petersburg
April 1865
Confederate fortifications
Siege of Petersburg 1864
City Point
Union Headquarters
Petersburg 1864-1865
"Had already thought of going immediately after the next rain."
General Grant's invitation and President Lincoln's acceptance occurred on March 20, 1865. At this time the Siege and Battle of Petersburg had been in process for nine months. Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia was 252 miles distance from Washington, D. C. via waterways. Its location on the James River was completely accessible by steamboat. So, why hadn't Lincoln already visited? Was he too invested in reelection proceedings? Did he only want to visit if victory was at hand? Was he fearful of being a distraction for General Grant and Robert?
"Will go sooner if any reason for it."
Lincoln may have been "fishing" for a better reason to visit quickly such as news related to a Union victory.

Author Noah Trudeau believed that Lincoln went to make sure he and General Grant were aligned in military strategies, as well as, encourage and honor the sacrificial service of Union soldiers and sailors.
"Mrs. L. and few others will probably accompany me."
Check your memory:
Did General Grant invite Mrs. Lincoln and her entourage?
Who was stationed at City Point that she might want to see?
"His Excellency A. Lincoln,
President of the United States:

Can you not visit City Point for a day or two? I would like very much to see you, and I think the rest would do you good.

Respectfully, your &c.
U. S. Grant,
River Queen Steamboat commissioned for the journey by the Lincolns to travel from Washington, D. C. to City Point, Virginia, March 23, 1865.
Lincoln's Excursion
Vacation or Vocation?
Visited Confederate prisoners of war from the Battle of Fort Stedman

Visited the Patrick Station battlefield after the battle
Visited Union Soldiers
"Good god you goin to shake
with me Uncle Abe"

Abraham Lincoln offers his hand to a Union soldier during the president’s visit to City Point in the spring of 1865. This sketch was made by Charles Wellington Reed, a Union soldier whose right hand was badly cut by a sabre during an 1864 raid on the Wheldon Railroad near Petersburg.
A very subdued President was overheard by Union Captain John Barnes lamenting that "
he had seen enough of the horrors of war and had hoped that this was the beginning of the end and that there would be no more bloodshed or ruin of homes.
River Queen Steamboat Conference
Author William McFeely reported that President Lincoln, General Ulysses Grant, General William Sherman, and Admiral David Porter met for long conversations discussing tactics required to bring the war to an end, maintaining civil order, reconstruction and defining the role the Southern states would have in the national government as the Union began to mend.
Created by: Susan Amos
Multi-media Project: HIST 579 Understanding Lincoln

Porter and Sherman both documented the account. Sherman in a letter to I. N. Arnold in 1872 described that he met with President Lincoln twice on the River Queen. And though the conversations began pleasant each time, they quickly became somber as they discussed Sherman's his tactics utilized in Georgia and his future strategies planned in Goldsboro, NC.
Analyze and apply the information
Harper's Magazine, Volume 94, 1897

"Of course they all knew the suppression of the rebellion was impending, and perhaps General Grant really wished for a personal consultation with him. It is not improbable, too, that Lincoln's presence was expected to have an encouraging effect upon the army."
Leslie J. Perry
Write a paragraph (minimum six sentences) summarizing the contents of this presentation. Refer back to the objectives at the the beginning of the presentation.
So, what?
Write a second paragraph (minimum six sentences) explaining why "What?" you summarized in the first paragraph is significant. Make sure that you provide evidence from this presentation or an outside source to support your opinion.
Now, what?
Write a third paragraph (minimum six sentences) describe how you would apply this knowledge and support with examples.
Ideas to ponder or question:
"Honest Abe", primary source validity, human nature, historian objectivity, fact vs. opinion, author, audience, time, related events, fiction vs. nonfiction
Full transcript