Lincoln's Personal Life by Nathaniel Wright Stephenson - HTML preview

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1. Herndon, 1-7, 11-14; 1, anon, 13; N. and H., 1, 23-27. This is the version of his origin accepted by Lincoln. He believed that his mother was the illegitimate daughter of a Virginia planter and traced to that doubtful source "all the qualities that distinguished him from other members" of his immediate family. Herndon, 3. His secretaries are silent upon the subject. Recently the story has been challenged. Mrs. Caroline Hanks Hitchcock, who identifies the Hanks family of Kentucky with a lost branch of a New England family, has collected evidence which tends to show that Nancy was the legitimate daughter of a certain Joseph H. Hanks, who was father of Joseph the carpenter, and that Nancy was not the niece but the younger sister of the "uncle" who figures in the older version, the man with whom Thomas Lincoln worked. Nancy and Thomas appear to have been cousins through their mothers. Mrs. Hitchcock argues the case with care and ability in a little book entitled Nancy Hanks. However, she is not altogether sustained by W. E. Barton, The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln.

Scandal has busied itself with the parents of Lincoln in another way. It has been widely asserted that he was himself illegitimate. A variety of shameful paternities have been assigned to him, some palpably absurd. The chief argument of the lovers of this scandal was once the lack of a known record of the marriage of his parents. Around this fact grew up the story of a marriage of concealment with Thomas Lincoln as the easy-going accomplice. The discovery of the marriage record fixing the date and demonstrating that accomplice. The discovery of the marriage record fixing the date and demonstrating that 24; Hanks, 59-67; Herndon, 5-6; Lincoln and Herndon, 321. The last important book on the subject is Barton, The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln.

2. N. and H., 1-13. 

3. Lamon, 13; N. and H., 1, 25. 

4. N. and H., 1, 25. 

5. Gore, 221-225. 

6. Herndon, 15. 

7. Gore, 66, 70-74, 79, 83-84, 116, 151-154, 204, 226-230, for all this group of anecdotes.

The evidence with regard to all the early part of Lincoln's life is peculiar in this, that it is reminiscence not written down until the subject had become famous. Dogmatic certainty with regard to the details is scarcely possible. The best one can do in weighing any of the versions of his early days is to inquire closely as to whether all its parts bang naturally together, whether they really cohere. There is a body of anecdotes told by an old mountaineer, Austin Gollaher, who knew Lincoln as a boy, and these have been collected and recently put into print. Of course, they are not "documented" evidence. Some students are for brushing them aside. But there is one important argument in their favor. They are coherent; the boy they describe is a real person and his personality is sustained. If he is a fiction and not a memory, the old mountaineer was a literary artist--far more the artist than one finds it easy to believe.

8. Gore, 84-95; Lamon, 16; Herndon, 16. 

9. Gore, 181-182, 296, 303-316; Lamon, 19-20; N. and H., I, 28-29. 


  1. N. and H., I, 32-34. 
  2. Lamon, 33-38, 51-52, 61-63; N. and H., 1, 34-36. 
  3. N. and H., 1, 40. 
  4. Lamon, 38, 40, 55. 
  5. Reminiscences, 54, 428. 


  1. N. and H., 1, 45-46, 70-72; Herndon, 67, 69, 72. 
  2. Lamon, 81-82; Herndon, 75-76. 
  3. Lincoln, 1, 1-9. 
  4. Lamon, 125-126; Herndon, 104. 
  5. Herndon, 117-118. 
  6. N. and H., 1, 109. 
  7. Stories, 94. 
  8. Herndon, 118-123. 
  9. Lamon, 159-164; Herndon, 128-138; Rankin, 61-95. 
  10. Lamon, 164. 
  11. Lamon, 164-165; Rankin, 95. 


1) Riddle, 337. 

2) Herndon, 436. 

3) and H., I, 138. 

4) Lincoln, I, 51-52. 

5) McClure, 65. 

6) Herndon, 184.185. 

7) Anon, 172-183; Herndon, 143-150, 161; Lincoln, 1, 87-92.

8) Gossip has preserved a melodramatic tale with regard to Lincoln's marriage. It describes the bride to be, waiting, arrayed, in tense expectation deepening into alarm; the guests assembled, wondering, while the hour appointed passes by and the ceremony does not begin; the failure of the prospective bridegroom to appear; the scattering of the company, amazed, their tongues wagging. The explanation offered is an attack of insanity. Herndon, 215; I,anon, 239-242. As might be expected Lincoln's secretaries who see him always in a halo give no hint of such an event. It has become a controversial scandal. Is it a fact or a myth? Miss Tarbell made herself the champion of the mythical explanation and collected a great deal of evidence that makes it hard to accept the story as a fact Tarbell, I, Chap. XI. Still later a very sane memoirist, Henry B. Rankin, who knew Lincoln, and is not at all an apologist, takes the same view. His most effective argument is that such an event could not have occurred in the little country town of Springfield without becoming at the time the common property of all the gossips. The evidence is bewildering. I find myself unable to accept the disappointed wedding guests as established facts, even though the latest student of Herndon has no doubts. Lincoln and Herndon, 321-322. But whether the broken marriage story is true or false there is no doubt that Lincoln passed through a desolating inward experience about "the fatal first of January"; that it was related to the breaking of his engagement; and that for a time his sufferings were intense. The letters to Speed are the sufficient evidence. Lincoln, I, 175; 182-189; 210-219; 240; 261; 267-269. The prompt explanation of insanity may be cast aside, one of those foolish delusions of shallow people to whom all abnormal conditions are of the same nature as all others. Lincoln wrote to a noted Western physician, Doctor Drake of Cincinnati, with regard to his "case"--that is, his nervous breakdown--and Doctor Drake replied but refused to prescribe without an interview. Lamon, 244.


1. Carpenter, 304-305.

2. Lamon, 243, 252-269; Herndon, 226-243, 248-251; N. and H., 201, 203-12.

3. A great many recollections of Lincoln attempt to describe him. Except in a large and general way most of them show that lack of definite visualization which characterizes the memories of the careless observer. His height, his bony figure, his awkwardness, the rudely chiseled features, the mystery in his eyes, the kindliness of his expression, these are the elements of the popular portrait. Now and then a closer observer has added a detail. Witness the masterly comment of Walt Whitman. Herndon's account of Lincoln speaking has the earmarks of accuracy. The attempt by the portrait painter, Carpenter, to render him in words is quoted later in this volume. Carpenter, 217-218. Unfortunately he was never painted by an artist of great originality, by one who was equal to his opportunity. My authority for the texture of his skin is a lady of unusual closeness of observation, the late Mrs. M. T. W. Curwen of Cincinnati, who saw him in 1861 in the private car of the president of the Indianapolis and Cincinnati railroad. An exhaustive study of the portraits of Lincoln is in preparation by Mr. Winfred Porter Truesdell, who has a valuable paper on the subject in The Print Connoisseur, for March, 1921.

4. Herndon, 264.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., 515.

7. A vital question to the biographer of Lincoln is the credibility of Herndon. He has been accused of capitalizing his relation with Lincoln and producing a sensational image for commercial purposes. Though his Life did not appear until 1890 when the official work of Nicolay and Hay was in print, he had been lecturing and corresponding upon Lincoln for nearly twenty-five years. The "sensational" first edition of his Life produced a storm of protest. The book was promptly recalled, worked over, toned down, and reissued "expurgated" in 1892.

Such biographers as Miss Tarbell appear to regard Herndon as a mere romancer. The well poised Lincoln and Herndon recently published by Joseph Fort Newton holds what I feel compelled to regard as a sounder view; namely, that while Herndon was at times reckless and at times biased, nevertheless he is in the main to be relied upon.

Three things are to be borne in mind: Herndon was a literary man by nature; but he was not by training a developed artist; he was a romantic of the full flood of American romanticism and there are traceable in him the methods of romantic portraiture. Had he been an Elizabethan one can imagine him laboring hard with great pride over an inferior "Tamburlane the Great"--and perhaps not knowing that it was inferior. Furthermore, he had not, before the storm broke on him, any realization of the existence in America of another school of portraiture, the heroic--conventual, that could not understand the romantic. If Herndon strengthened as much as possible the contrasts of his subject--such as the contrast between the sordidness of Lincoln's origin and the loftiness of his thought  -he felt that by so doing he was merely rendering his subject in its most brilliant aspect, giving to it the largest degree of significance. A third consideration is Herndon's enthusiasm for the agnostic deism that was rampant in America in his day. Perhaps this causes his romanticism to slip a cog, to run at times on a side-track, to become the servant of his religious partisanship. In three words the faults of Herndon are exaggeration, literalness and exploitiveness.

 But all these are faults of degree which the careful student can allow for. By "checking up" all the parts of Herndon that it is possible to check up one can arrive at a pretty confident belief that one knows how to divest the image he creates of its occasional unrealities. When one does so, the strongest argument for relying cautiously, watchfully, upon Herndon appears. The Lincoln thus revealed, though only a character sketch, is coherent. And it stands the test of comparison in detail with the Lincolns of other, less romantic, observers. That is to say, with all his faults, Herndon has the inner something that will enable the diverse impressions of Lincoln, always threatening to become irreconcilable, to hang together and out of their very incongruity to invoke a person that is not incongruous. And herein, in this touchstone so to speak is Herndon's value.

8.  8. Herndon, 265.

9. Lamon, 51.

10. Lincoln, I, 35-SO.

11. The reader who would know the argument against Herndon (436-446) and Lamon (486-502) on the subject of Lincoln's early religion is referred to The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, by William Eleazer Barton. It is to be observed that the present study is never dogmatic about Lincoln's religion in its early phases. And when Herndon and Lamon generalize about his religious life, it must be remembered that they are thinking of him as they knew him in Illinois. Herndon had no familiarity with him after he went to Washington. Lamon could not have seen very much of him--no one but his secretaries and his wife did. And his taciturnity must be borne in mind. Nicolay has recorded that he did not know what Lincoln believed. Lamon, 492. That Lincoln was vaguely a deist in the 'forties--so far as he had any theology at all--may be true. But it is a rash leap to a conclusion to assume that his state of mind even then was the same thing as the impression it made on so practical, bard-headed, unpoetical a character as Lamon; or on so combatively imaginative but wholly unmystical a mind as Herndon's. Neither of them seems to have any understanding of those agonies of spirit through which Lincoln subsequently passed which will appear in the account of the year 1862. See also Miss Nicolay, 384-386. There is a multitude of pronouncements on Lincoln's religion, most of them superficial.

12. Lincoln, I, 206. 

13. Nicolay, 73-74; N. and H., 1, 242; Lamon, 275-277. 

14. Lamon, 277-278; Herndon, 272-273; N. and H., 1, 245-249. 


  1. N. and H., I, 28~28& 
  2. Tarbell, 1, 211. 
  3. Ibid., 210-211.
  4. Herndon, 114. 
  5. Lincoln, II, 28-48. 
  6. Herndon, 306-308, 319; Newton, 4(141). 
  7. Tarbell, I, 209-210. 
  8. Herndon, 306. 
  9. Lamon, 334; Herndon, 306; N. and H., I, 297. 


1) Herndon, 307, 319. 

2) Herndon, 319-321. 

3) Herndon, 314-317. 

4) Herndon, 332-333. 

5) Herndon, 311-312. 

6) Herndon, 319. 

7) Lamon, 165. 

8) Herndon, 309. 

9) Herndon, 113-114; Stories, 18~ 

10) Herndon, 338. 

11) Lamon, 324. 

12) Lincoln, 11, 142. 

13) Herndon, 347. 

14) Herndon, 363. 

15) Herndon, 362. 

16) Lincoln, II, 172. 

17) Lincoln, II, 207.

18) Lincoln, II, 173. 

19) Lincoln, II, 165. 


1. Johnson, 234. 

2. I have permission to print the following letter from the Honorable John H. Marshall, Judge Fifth Judicial Circuit, Charleston, Illinois:

"Your letter of the 24th inst. at hand referring to slave trial in which Lincoln was interested, referred to by Professor Henry Johnson. Twenty-five years ago, while I was secretary of the Coles County Bar Association, a paper was read to the Association by the oldest member concerning the trial referred to, and his paper was filed with rue. Some years ago I spoke of the matter to Professor Johnson, and at the time was unable to find the old manuscript, and decided that the same had been inadvertently destroyed. However, quite recently I found this paper crumpled up under some old book records. The author of this article is a reputable member of the bar of this country of very advanced age, and at that time quoted as his authority well-known and very substantial men of the county, who had taken an active interest in the litigation. His paper referred to incidents occurring in 1847, and there is now no living person with any knowledge of it. The story in brief is as follows:

"In 1845, General Robert Matson, of Kentucky, being hard pressed financially, in order to keep them from being sold in payment of his debts, brought Jane Bryant, with her four small children to this county. Her husband, Anthony Bryant, was a free negro, and a licensed exhorter in the Methodist Church of Kentucky. But his wife and children were slaves of Matson. In 1847, Matson, determined to take the Bryants back to Kentucky as his slaves, caused to be issued by a justice of the peace of the county a writ directed to Jane Bryant and her children to appear before him forthwith and answer the claim of Robert Matson that their service was due to him, etc. This action produced great excitement in this county. Practically the entire community divided, largely on the lines of pro-slavery and anti-slavery. Usher F. Linder, the most eloquent lawyer in this vicinity, appeared for Matson, and Orlando B. Ficklin, twice a member of Congress, appeared for the negroes. Under the practice the defendant obtained a hearing from three justices instead of one, and a trial ensued lasting several days, and attended by great excitement. Armed men made demonstrations and bloodshed was narrowly averted. Two of the justices were pro-slavery, and one anti-slavery. The trial was held in Charleston. The decision of the justice was discreet. It was held that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the right of property, but that Jane and her children were of African descent and found in the state of Illinois without a certificate of freedom, and that they be committed to the county jail to be advertised and sold to pay the jail fees.

"At the next term of the circuit court, Ficklin obtained an order staying proceedings until the further order of the court. Finally when the case was heard in the circuit court Linder and Abraham Lincoln appeared for Matson, who was insisting upon the execution of the judgment of the three justices of the peace so that he could buy them at the proposed sale, and Ficklin and Charles Constable, afterward a circuit judge of this circuit, appeared for the negroes. The judgment was in favor of the negroes and they were discharged.

"The above is a much abbreviated account of this occurrence, stripped of its local coloring, giving however its salient points, and I have no doubt of its substantial accuracy."

3. Lincoln, II, 185. 

4. Lincoln, II, 186. 

5. Lamon, 347. 

6. Lincoln, II, 232-233. 

7. Lincoln, II, 190-262. 

8. Lincoln, 274-277. 


  1. Herndon, 371-372. 
  2. Lincoln, II, 329-330. 
  3. Lincoln, III, 1-2. 
  4. Herndon, 405-408. 
  5. Lincoln. II, 279. 
  6. Lamon, 416. 


  1. Lincoln, V, 127. 
  2. Tarbell, I, 335. 
  3. Lincoln, V, 127,138, 257-258. 
  4. Lincoln, V, 290-291. He never entirely shook off his erratic use of negatives. See, also, Lamon, 424; Tarbell, I, 338. 
  5. Lincoln, V, 293-32&6. McClure, 23-29; Field, 126,137-138; Tarbell, I, 342-357. 


  1. Letters, 172. 
  2. Lincoln, VI, 77, 78, 79, 93. 
  3. Bancroft, 11,10; Letters, 111. 


  1. Bancroft, II, 10; Letters, 172. 
  2. Bancroft, II, 9-10. 
  3. Herndon, 484. 
  4. McClure, 140-145; Lincoln, VI, 91, 97. 
  5. Recollections, 111. 
  6. Recollections, 121. 
  7. Recollections, 112-113; Tarbell, I, 404-415. 
  8. Tarbell, 1, 406. 
  9. Tarbell, I, 406. 
  10. Lincoln, VI, 91. 
  11. Tarbell, 1, 406. 
  12. Herndon, 483-484 
  13. Lamon, 505; see also, Herndon, 485. 
  14. Lincoln, VI, 110. 


1) Lincoln, VI, 130. 

2) Merriam, I, 318. 

3) Public Man, 140. 

4) Van Santvoord. 

5) N. and H., I, 36; McClure, 179.

6) Herndon, 492. 

7) Recollections, 39-41. 

8) Lincoln, VI, 162-164. 

9) Bancroft, II, 38-45. 

10) Public Man, 383. 

11) Chittenden, 89-90. 

12) Public Man, 387. 


1. Hay MS, I, 64. 

2. Tyler, II, 565-566. 

3. Bradford, 208; Seward, IV, 416. 

4. Nicolay, 213. 

5. Chase offered to procure a commission for Henry Villard, "by way of compliment to the Cincinnati Commercial" Villard, 1,177. 

6. N. and H., III, 333, note 12. 

7. Outbreak, 52. 

8. Hay MS, I, 91; Tyler, II, 633; Coleman, 1, 338. 

9. Hay MS, I, 91; Riddle, 5; Public Man, 487. 

10. Correspondence, 548-549.

11. See Miss Schrugham's monograph for much important data with regard to this moment. Valuable as her contribution is, I can not feel that the conclusions invalidate the assumption of the text.

12. Lincoln, VI, 192-220. 

13. Sherman, I, 195-1%. 

14. Lincoln, VI, 175-176. 

15. 127 0. R., 161.

16. Munford, 274; Journal of the Virginia Convention, 1861. 

17. Lincoln, VI, 227-230. 

18. N. R., first series, IV, 227. 

19. Hay MS, I, 143.

20. The great authority of Mr. Frederick Bancroft is still on the side of the older interpretation of Seward's Thoughts, Bancroft, II, Chap. XXIX. It must be remembered that following the war there was a reaction against Seward. When Nicolay and Hay published the Thoughts they appeared to give him the coup de grace. Of late years it has almost been the fashion to treat him contemptuously. Even Mr. Bancroft has been very cautious in his defense. This is not the place to discuss his genius or his political morals. But on one thing I insist, Whatever else he was-unscrupulous or what you will-he was not a fool. However reckless, at times, his spread-eagleism there was shrewdness behind it. The idea that he proposed a ridiculous foreign policy at a moment when all his other actions reveal coolness and calculation; the idea that he proposed it merely as a spectacular stroke in party management; this is too much to believe. A motive must be found better than mere chicanery.

Furthermore, if there was one fixed purpose in Seward, during March and early April, it was to avoid a domestic conflict; and the only way he could see to accomplish that was to side-track Montgomery's expansive all-Southern policy. Is it not fair, with so astute a politician as Seward, to demand in explanation of any of his moves 'he uncovering of some definite political force he was playing up to? The old interpretation of the Thoughts offers no force to which they form a response. Especially it is impossible to find in them any scheme to get around Montgomery. But the old view looked upon the Virginia compromise with blind eyes. That was no part of the mental prospect. In accounting for Seward's purposes it did not exist. But the moment one's eyes are opened to its significance, especially to the menace it had for the Montgomery program, is not the entire scene transformed? Is not, under these new conditions, the purpose intimated in the text, the purpose to open a new field of exploitation to the Southern expansionists in order to reconcile them to the Virginia scheme, is not this at least plausible? And it escapes making Seward a fool.

21.  21. Lincoln, VI, 23~237.

22. Welles, 1,17.

23. There is still lacking a complete unriddling of the three-cornered game of diplomacy played in America in March and April, 1861. Of the three participants Richmond is the most fully revealed. It was playing desperately for a compromise, any sort of compromise, that would save the one principle of state sovereignty. For that, slavery would be sacrificed, or at least allowed to be put in jeopardy. Munford, Virginia's Attitude toward Slavery and Secession; Tyler, Letters and Times of the Tylers; Journal of the Virginia Convention of 1861. However, practically no Virginian would put himself in the position of forcing any Southern State to abandon slavery against its will. Hence the Virginia compromise dealt only with the expansion of slavery, would go no further than to give the North a veto on that expansion. And its compensating requirement plainly would be a virtual demand for the acknowledgment of state sovereignty.

Precisely what passed between Richmond and Washington is still something of a mystery. John Hay quotes Lincoln as saying that he twice offered to evacuate Sumter, once before and once after his inauguration, if the Virginians "would break up their convention without any row or nonsense." Hay MS, I, 91; Thayer, I, 118-119. From other sources we have knowledge of at least two conferences subsequent to the inauguration and probably three. One of the conferences mentioned by Lincoln seems pretty well identified. Coleman II, 337-338. It was informal and may be set aside as having little if any historic significance. When and to whom Lincoln's second offer was made is not fully established. Riddle in his Recollections says that he was present at an informal interview "with loyal delegates of the Virginia State Convention," who were wholly satisfied with Lincoln's position. Riddle, 25. Possibly, this was the second conference mentioned by Lincoln. It has scarcely a feature in common with the conference of April 4, which has become the subject of acrimonious debate. N. and H., III, 422-428; Boutwell, II, 62-67; Bancroft, II, 102-104; Munford, 270; Southern Historical Papers, 1, 449; Botts, 195-201; Crawford, 311; Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, first session, Thirty-Ninth Congress; Atlantic, April, 1875. The date of this conference is variously given as the fourth, fifth and sixth of April. Curiously enough Nicolay and Hay seem to have only an external knowledge of It; their account is made up from documents and lacks entirely the authoritative note. They do not refer to the passage in the Hay MS, already quoted.

There are three versions of the interview between Lincoln and Baldwin. One was given by Baldwin himself before the Committee on Reconstruction some five years after; one comprises the recollections of Colonel Dabney, to whom Baldwin narrated the incident in the latter part of the war; a third is in the recollections of John Minor Botts of a conversation with Lincoln April 7, 1862. No two of the versions entirely agree. Baldwin insists that Lincoln made no offer of any sort; while' Botts in his testimony before the Committee on Reconstruction says that Lincoln told him that he had told Baldwin that he was so anxious "for the preservation of the peace of this country and to save Virginia and the other Border States from going out that (he would) take the responsibility of evacuating Fort Sumter, and take the chances of negotiating with the Cotton States." Baldwin's language before the committee is a little curious and has been thought disingenuous. Boutwell, I, 66. However, practically no one in this connection has considered the passage in the Hay MS or the statement in Riddle. Putting these together and remembering the general situation of the first week of April there arises a very plausible argument for accepting the main fact in Baldwin's version of his conference and concluding that Botts either misunderstood Lincoln (as Baldwin says he did) or got the matter twisted in memory. A further bit of plausibility is the guess that Lincoln talked with Botts not only of the interview with Baldwin but also of the earlier interview mentioned by Riddle and that the two became confused in recollection.

To venture on an assumption harmonizing these confusions. When Lincoln came to Washington, being still in his delusion that slavery was the issue and therefore that the crisis was "artificial," he was willing to make almost any concession, and freely offered to evacuate Sumter if thereby he could induce Virginia to drop the subject of secession. Even later, when he was beginning to appreciate the real significance of the moment, he was still willing to evacuate Sumter if the issue would not be pushed further in the Border States, that is, if Virginia would not demand a definite concession of the right of secession. Up to this point I can not think that he had taken seriously Seward's proposed convention of the States and the general discussion of permanent Federal relations that would be bound to ensue. But now he makes his fateful discovery that the issue is not slavery but sovereignty. He sees that Virginia is in dead earnest on this issue and that a general convention will necessarily involve a final discussion of sovereignty in the United States and that the price of the Virginia Amendment will be the concession of the right of secession. On this assumption it is hardly conceivable that he offered to evacuate Sumter as late as the fourth of April. The significance therefore of the Baldwin interview would consist in finally convincing Lincoln that he could not effect any compromise without conceding the principle of state sovereignty. As this was the one thing he was resolved never to concede there was nothing left him but to consider what course would most strategically renounce compromise. Therefore, when it was known at Washington a day or two later that Port Pickens was in imminent danger of being taken by the Confederates (see note 24), Lincoln instantly concentrated all his energies on the relief of Sumter. All along he had believed that one of the forts must be held for the purpose of "a clear indication of policy," even if the other should be given up "as a military necessity." Lincoln, VI, 301. His purpose, therefore, in deciding on the ostentatious demonstration toward Sumter was to give notice to the whole country that he made no concessions on the matter of sovereignty. In a way it was his answer to the Virginia compromise.

At last the Union party in Virginia sent a delegation to confer with Lincoln. It did not arrive until Sumter had been fired upon. Lincoln read to them a prepared statement of policy which announced his resolution to make war, if necessary, to assert the national sovereignty. Lincoln, VI, 243-245.

The part of Montgomery in this tangled episode is least understood of the three. With Washington Montgomery had no official communication. Both Lincoln and Seward refused to recognize commissioners of the Confederate government Whether Seward as an individual went behind the back of himself as an official and personally deceived the commissioners is a problem of his personal biography and his private morals that has no place in this discussion. Between Montgomery and Richmond there was intimate and cordial communication from the start. At first Montgomery appears to have taken for granted that the Secessionist party at Richmond was so powerful that there was little need for the new government to do anything but wait But a surprise was in store for it During February and March its agents reported a wide-spread desire in the South to compromise on pretty nearly any terms that would not surrender the central Southern idea of state sovereignty. Thus an illusion of that day--as of this--was exploded, namely the irresistibility of economic solidarity. Sentimental and constitutional forces were proving more powerful than economics. Thereupon Montgomery's problem was transformed. Its purpose was to build a Southern nation and it had believed hitherto that economic forces had put into its hands the necessary tools. Now it must throw them aside and get possession of others. It must evoke those sentimental and constitutional forces that so many rash statesmen have always considered negligible. Consequently, for the South no less than for the North, the issue was speedily shifted from slavery to sovereignty. Just how this was brought about we do not yet know. Whether altogether through foresight and statesmanlike deliberation, or in part at least through what might almost be called accidental influences, is still a little uncertain. The question narrows itself to this: why was Sumter fired upon precisely when it was? There are at least three possible answers.

(1) That the firing was dictated purely by military necessity. A belief that Lincoln intended to reinforce as well as to supply Sumter, that if not taken now it could never be taken, may have been the over-mastering idea in the Confederate Cabinet. The reports of the Commissioners at Washington were tinged throughout by the belief that Seward and Lincoln were both double-dealers. Beauregard, in command at Charleston, reported that pilots had come in from the sea and told him of Federal war-ships sighted off the Carolina coast. O. R. 297, 300, 301, 304, 305.

(2) A political motive which to-day is not so generally intelligible as once it was, had great weight in 1861. This was the sense of honor in politics. Those historians who brush it aside as a figment lack historical psychology. It is possible that both Governor Pickens and the Confederate Cabinet were animated first of all by the belief that the honor of South Carolina required them to withstand the attempt of what they held to be an alien power.

(3) And yet, neither of these explanations, however much either or both may have counted for in many minds, gives a convincing explanation of the agitation of Toornbs in the Cabinet council which decided to fire upon Sumter. Neither of these could well be matters of debate. Everybody had to be either for or against, and that would be an end. The Toombs of that day was a different man from the Toombs of three months earlier. Some radical change had taken place in his thought What could it have been if it was not the perception that the Virginia program had put the whole matter in a new light, that the issue had indeed been changed from slavery to sovereignty, and that to join battle on the latter issue was a far more serious matter than to join battle on the former. And if Toombs reasoned in this fearful way, it is easy to believe that the more buoyant natures in that council may well have reasoned in precisely the opposite way. Virginia had lifted the Southern cause to its highest plane. But there was danger that the Virginia compromise might prevail. If that should happen these enthusiasts for a separate Southern nationality might find all their work undone at the eleventh hour. Virginians who shared Montgomery's enthusiasms had seen this before then. That was why Roger Pryor, for example, had gone to Charleston as a volunteer missionary. In a speech to a Charleston crowd he besought them, as a way of precipitating Virginia into the lists, to strike blow. Charleston Mercury, April 11, 1861.

The only way to get any clue to these diplomatic tangles is by discarding the old notion that there were but two political ideals clashing together in America in 1861. There were three. The Virginians with their devotion to the idea of a league of nations in this country were scarcely further away from Lincoln and his conception of a Federal unit than they were from those Southerners who from one cause or another were possessed with the desire to create a separate Southern nation. The Virginia program was as deadly to one as to the other of these two forces which with the upper South made up the triangle of the day. The real event of March, 1861, was the perception both by Washington and Montgomery that the Virginia program spelled ruin for its own. By the middle of April it would be difficult to say which had the better reason to desire the defeat of that program, Washington or Montgomery.

24. Lincoln, VI, 240, 301, 302; N. R., first series, IV, 109, 235, 239; Welles, I, 16, 22-23, 25; Bancroft, II, 127, 129-130,138,139, 144; N. and H., III, Chap. XI, IV, Chap. I. Enemies of Lincoln have accused him of bad faith with regard to the relief of Fort Pickens. The facts appear to be as follows: In January, 1861, when Fort Pickens was in danger of being seized by the forces of the State of Florida, Buchanan ordered a naval expedition to proceed to its relief. Shortly afterward--January 2--Senator Mallory on behalf of Florida persuaded him to order the relief expedition not to land any troops so long as the Florida forces refrained from attacking the fort. This understanding between Buchanan and Mallory is sometimes called "the Pickens truce," sometimes "the Pickens Armistice." N. and H., III, Chap. XI; N. R., first series, 1, 74; Scott, II, 624-625. The new Administration had no definite knowledge of it. Lincoln, VI, 302. Lincoln despatched a messenger to the relief expedition, which was still hovering off the Florida coast, and ordered its troops to be landed. The commander replied that he felt bound by the previous orders which had been issued in the name of the Secretary of the Navy while the new orders issued from the Department of War; he added that relieving Pickens would produce war and wished to be sure that such was the President's intention; he also informed Lincoln's messenger of the terms of Buchanan's agreement with Mallory. The messenger returned to Washington for ampler instructions. N. and H., IV, Chap. I; N. R., first series, I, 109-110, 110-111.

Two days before his arrival at Washington alarming news from Charleston brought Lincoln very nearly, if not quite, to the point of issuing sailing orders to the Sumter expedition. Lincoln, VI, 240. A day later, Welles issued such orders. N. IL, first series, I, 235; Bancroft, II, 138-139. On April sixth, the Pickens messenger returned to Washington. N. and H., IV, 7. Lincoln was now in full possession of all the facts. In his own words, "To now reinforce Fort Pickens before a crisis would be reached at Fort Sumter was impossible, rendered so by the exhaustion of provisions at the latter named fort. . . . The strongest anticipated case for using it (the Sumter expedition) was now presented, and it was resolved to send it forward." Lincoln, VI, 302. He also issued peremptory orders for the Pickens expedition to land its force, which was done April twelfth. N. R., first series, I, 110-111, 115. How he reasoned upon the question of a moral obligation devolving, or not devolving, upon himself as a consequence of the BuchananMallory agreement, he did not make public. The fact of the agreement was published in the first message. But when Congress demanded information on the subject, Lincoln transmitted to it a report from Welles declining to submit the information on account of the state of the country. 10. IL, 440-441.

25. Lincoln, VI, 241. 


  1. May MS, I, 23. 
  2. N. and H., IV, 152.
  3. Hay MS, I, 45. 
  4. Hay MS, I, 46. 
  5. Hay MS, I, 5~56. 
  6. Sherman, I, 199. 
  7. Nicolay, 213. 
  8. N. and H., IV, 322-323, 360. 
  9. Bigelow, I, 360. 
  10. Nicolay, 229. 
  11. Lincoln, VI, 331-333. 
  12. Own Story, 55, 82. 


  1. Lincoln, VI, 297-325. 
  2. Lincoln, X, 199. 
  3. Lincoln, X, 202-203. 
  4. Lincoln, VI, 321. 
  5. Lincoln, VII, 56-57. 
  6. Bancroft, II, 121; Southern Historical Papers, I, 446. 
  7. Lincoln, VI, 304. 
  8. Hay MS, I, 65. 
  9. Lincoln, VI, 315. 
  10. 39 Globe, I, 222; N. and H., IV, 379. 


  1. White, 171. 
  2. Riddle, 40-52.
  3. Harris, 62. 
  4. Public Man, 139. 
  5. 37 Globe, III, 1334. 
  6. Chandler, 253. 
  7. White, 171. 
  8. Conway, II, 336. 
  9. Conway, II, 329. 
  10. Rhodes, III, 350. 
  11. Lincoln, VI, 351. 
  12. Hay MS, I, 93. 
  13. Hay MS, 1, 93. 
  14. Bigelow, I, 400. 
  15. Chandler, 256. 


  1. Lincoln, VII, 28-60. 
  2. Nicolay, 321. 
  3. C. W. I 3 66 
  4. Julian, 201. 
  5. Chandler, 228. 
  6. 37 Globe, II, 189-191; Lincoln, VII, 151-152; O. R., 341-346; 114 0. R., 786, 797; C. W., I, 5, 74, 79; Battles and Leaders, II, 132-134; Blaine, I, 383-384, 392-393; Pearson, 1, 312-313; Chandler, 222; Porter. 
  7. Swinton, 79-85, quoting General McDowell's memoranda of their proceedings. 
  8. 8 37 Globe, II, 15. 
  9. 9 Riddle, 296; Wade, 316; Chandler, 187.
  10. C. W., 1, 74. 
  11. 37 Globe, II, 1667. 
  12. 37 Globe, II, 1662-1668, 1732-1742. 
  13. Lincoln, VII, 151-152. 


  1. 37 Globe, II, 67. 
  2. Rhodes, III, 350. 
  3. 37 Globe, II, 3328. 
  4. 37 Globe, II, 2764. 
  5. 37 Globe, II, 2734. 
  6. 37 Globe II, 2972-2973. 
  7. 37 Globe, II, 440. 
  8. 37 Globe, II, 1136-1139. 
  9. Quoting 7 Howard, 43-46. 


  1. N. and H., IV, 444. 
  2. Own Story, 84. 
  3. Own Story, 85. 
  4. Gurowski, 123. 
  5. Hay MS, 1, 99; Thayer, 1,125. 
  6. N. and H., IV, 469. 
  7. Hay MS, I, 93. 
  8. 5 0. R., 41. 
  9. Swinton, 79-84; C. W., 1, 270.
  10. C. W., I, 270, 360, 387; Hay MS, II, 101. 
  11. Gorham, I, 347-348; Kelly, 34. 
  12. Chandler, 228; Julian, 205. 
  13. Hay MS, I, 101; 5 0. R., 1~ 
  14. 5 0. R., 50. 
  15. 5 0. R., 54-55; Julian, 205. 
  16. Hay MS, I, 103. 
  17. Hitchcock, 439. 
  18. Hitchcock, 440. The italics are his. 
  19. 5 0. R., 58. 
  20. 5 0. R., 59. 
  21. 5 0. R, 63. 
  22. Own Story, 226; 5 0. R., 18. 
  23. C. W., I, 251-252. 
  24. C. W., 1, 251-253, 317-318. 
  25. 15 0. R., 220; Hitchcock, 439, note. 
  26. 14 0. R., 66. 
  27. 12 0. R., 61. 
  28. 17 0. R., 219. 
  29. Rhodes, IV, 19. 
  30. Nicolay, 306; McClure, 168. 
  31. 17 0. R., 435. 
  32. Julian, 218. 
  33. N. and H., V, 453.
  34. Lincoln, VII, 266-267. 
  35. 37 Globe, II, 3386-3392. 


  1. Alexander, III, 15-17. 
  2. 37 Globe, II, 1493. 
  3. Julian, 215; Conway, I, 344. 
  4. 37 Globe II, 2363. 
  5. Lincoln, VII, 171-172. 
  6. 37 Globe, II, 1138. 
  7. Lincoln, VII, 172-173. 
  8. Pierce, IV, 78; 37 Globe, II, 25%. 
  9. Schurz, I, 187. 
  10. London Times, May 9, 1862, quoted in American papers. 
  11. 128 0. R., 2-3. 
  12. Lincoln, VII, 270-274. 
  13. Carpenter, 2021. 
  14. Galaxy, XIV, 842-843. 
  15. Lincoln, VII, 270-277; 37 Globe, II, 3322-3324, 3333. 
  16. Julian, 220; 37 Globe, II, 3286-3287. 
  17. Lincoln, VII, 280-286. 


  1. Carpenter, 189. 
  2. Recollections, 161. 
  3. Recollections, 161-164; Carpenter, 119.
  4. Carpenter, 116. 
  5. Carpenter, 90. 
  6. Chapman, 449-450. 
  7. Carpenter, 187. 
  8. Lincoln, VIII, 52-53. 
  9. Lincoln, VIII, 50-51. 


  1. Reminiscences, 434. 
  2. Recollections, 261. 
  3. Galaxy, 842. 
  4. Galaxy, 845. 
  5. 5 Carpenter, 22. 
  6. O. R., 80-81. 
  7. C. W., I, 282. 
  8. Lincoln, VIII, 15. 
  9. Julian, 221. 
  10. Thayer, 1, 127. 
  11. Welles, 1,104; Nicolay, 313. 
  12. Thayer, 1,129. 
  13. Thayer, 1, 161. 
  14. Reminiscences, 334-335, 528; Tarbell, II, 118-120; Lincoln, VIII, 28-33. 
  15. Chase, 87-88. 
  16. Lincoln, VII, 40. 


1) Bigelow, I, 572. 

2) 37 Globe, III, 6. 

3) 37 Globe, III, 76. 

4) Lincoln, VII, 57-60. 

5) Lincoln, VII, 73. 

6) Swinton, 231. 

7) W., 1, 650. 

8) Bancroft, II, 365; Welles, 1, ~198. 

9) and H., VI, 265. 

10) Welles, I, 205; Alexander, III, 185. 

11) Welles, 1, 196-198. 

12) Welles, 1, 201-202. 

13) Welles, I, 200. 

14) Lincoln, VII, 195-197. 


1. Harris, 64. 

2. Gurowski, 312. 

3. Sherman Letters, 167. 

4. Julian, 223.

5. Recollections, 215; Barnes, 428; Reminiscences, XXXI, XXXI I, XXXVI II. Nicolay and Hay allude to this story, but apparently doubt its authenticity. They think that Weed "as is customary with elderly men exaggerated the definiteness of the proposition."

6. Jullan, 225. 

7. Lincoln, VIII, 154. 

8. Raymond, 704.

9. Recollections, 193-194. 

10. Lincoln, VII I, 206207. 

11. 37 Globe, III, 1068. 

12. Riddle, 278. 

13. Welles, I, 336. 

14. Lincoln, VIII, 235-237. 

15. Welles, I, 293. 

16. Lincoln, VIII, 527. 

17. Lincoln, IX, 3A. 

18. Lincoln, VIII, 307-308. 

19. Barnes, 428; Reminiscences, XXX, XXXIII-XXXVIII.

This story is told on the authority of Weed with much circumstantial detail including the full text of a letter written by McClellan. The letter was produced because McClellan had said that no negotiations took place. Though the letter plainly alludes to negotiations of some sort, it does not mention the specific offer attributed to Lincoln. Nicolay and Hay are silent on the subject. See also note five, above.

20. Tribune, July 7, 1863. 

21. Tribune, July 6, 1863. 

22. Lincoln, IX, 17. 

23. Lincoln, IX, 20-21. 


  1. Rhodes, III, 461; Motley's Letters, II, 146. 
  2. Reminiscences, 470. 
  3. Hay, Century.? 
  4. Carpenter, 281-282. 
  5. Van Santvoord.
  6. Hay, Century, 35. 
  7. Carpenter, 150. 
  8. Recollections, 97. 
  9. Recollections, 80. 
  10. Carpenter, 65. 
  11. Carpenter, 65-67. 
  12. Carpenter, 64. 
  13. Recollections, 267. 
  14. Carpenter, 64. 
  15. Recollections, 83-84. 
  16. Carpenter, 152. 
  17. Carpenter, 219. 
  18. Recollections, 103-105. 
  19. Lincoln, X, 274-275. 
  20. Recollections, 103. 
  21. Recollections, 95-96. 
  22. Hay, Century. 
  23. Rankin, 177-179. 
  24. Hay, Century, 35. 
  25. Carpenter. 
  26. Thayer, I, 198-190. 
  27. Thayer, I, 196-197. 
  28. Thayer, I, 199-200. 
  29. Carpenter, 104.
  30. Lincoln, VIII, 112-115. 
  31. Lincoln, IX, 210. 


  1. Lincoln, IX, 284. 
  2. Lincoln, IX, 219-221. 
  3. Lincoln, X, 38-39. 
  4. 38 Globe, I, 1408. 
  5. Bancroft, II, 429-430; Moore, VI, 497-498 
  6. Grant, II, 123. 
  7. Lincoln, X, 90-91. 


  1. Nicolay, 440. 
  2. Carpenter, 130; Hay MS. 
  3. Nicolay, 440. 
  4. Lincoln, X, 25-26. 
  5. 37 Globe, II, 2674. 
  6. Nicolay, 352. 
  7. Lincoln, X, 49. 
  8. Lincoln, X, 5~54. 
  9. Rankin, 381-387; Hay, Century. 
  10. Carpenter, 217. 
  11. Carpenter, 81. 
  12. Carpenter, 218. 
  13. Hay, Century, 37.
  14. Lincoln, X, 89. 
  15. Carpenter, 131. 
  16. Lincoln, X, 122-123. 
  17. Carpenter. 168-169. 
  18. Carpenter, 30-31. 
  19. Lincoln, X, 129. 


  1. Lincoln, X, 139-140. 
  2. Chittenden, 379. 
  3. Lincoln, X, 140-141. 
  4. Carpenter, 181-183.S. N. and H., X, 95-100. 
  5. Hay MS, I, 1617; N. and H., IX, 120121. 


  1. Reminiscences, 398. 
  2. Globe, I, 3148. 
  3. Riddle, 254. 
  4. Greeley, II, 664-666. 
  5. N. and H., 186190. 
  6. Gilmore, 240. 
  7. Gilmore, Atlantic. & Gilmore, 243-244. 
  8. Hay MS, I, 7677; N. and H., 167-173; Carpenter, 301-302. 
  9. N. and H., IX, 338-339. 
  10. Carpenter, 223-225. 
  11. Carpenter, 282; also, N. and H., IX, 364.
  12. N. and H., IX, 188. 
  13. N. and H., IX, 192. 
  14. N. and H., IX, 195. 
  15. N. and H IX, 212, note. 
  16. Lincoln, X, 164-166. 


  1. Julian, 247. 
  2. Times, August 1, 1864. 
  3. Herald, August 6, 1864. 
  4. Sun, June 30, 1889. 
  5. N. and H., IX, 250. 
  6. N. and H., IX, 218. 
  7. Times, August 18, 1864. & N. and H., IX, 197. 
  8. Herald, August 18, 1864. 
  9. Lincoln, X, 308. 
  10. N. and H., IX, 250. 
  11. Lincoln, X, 203-204. 
  12. N. and H., IX, 221. 
  13. Ibid. 
  14. Herald, August 26, 1864. 
  15. Tribune, August 27, 1864. 
  16. Times, August 26, 1864. 


  1. Herald, August 24, 1864. 
  2. Times, August 26, 1864~ 
  3. Pierce, IV, 197-198. 
  4. Pearson, 11,150-151. 
  5. Herald, August 23, 1864. 
  6. Pearson, II, 168. 
  7. Ibid. The terms offered Davis were not stated in the Atlantic article. See Gilmore, 289290.
  8. Tribune, August 27', 1864. 
  9. Sun, June 30, 1889. 
  10. Sun, June 30, 1889; Pearson, II, 160-161. 
  11. Pearson,, II, 164. 
  12. Pearson, II, 166. 
  13. Sun, June 30, 1889. 
  14. Tribune, August 30, 1864. 
  15. Pearson, II, 162. 
  16. Tribune, September 3, 1864. 
  17. Pearson, 11,165. 
  18. Sun, June 30, 1889. 
  19. Pearson, II, 167; Tribune, September 7, 1864. 
  20. Tribune, September 6, 1864. 
  21. Sun, June 30, 1889. 
  22. Tribune, September 9, 1864. 
  23. Tribune, September 7, 1864. 
  24. Tribune, September 12, 1864.
  25. Tribune, September 22, 1864. 


  1. N. and H., IX, 339. 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Arnold, 390. 
  4. Chandler, 274-276.
  5. The familiar version of the retirement of affair is contained in the Life of Chandler issued by the Detroit Post and Tribune without an author's name. This book throughout is an apology for Chandler. In substance its story of this episode is as follows: Chandler beheld with aching heart the estrangement between Lincoln and Wade; he set to work to bring them together; at a conference which he had with Wade, in Ohio, a working understanding was effected; Chandler hurried to Washington; with infinite pains he accomplished a party deal, the three elements of which were Lincoln's removal of Blair, Fremont's resignation, and Wade's appearance in the Administration ranks. Whatever may be said of the physical facts of this narrative, its mental facts, its tone and atmosphere, are historical fiction. And I have to protest that the significance of the episode has been greatly exaggerated. The series of dates given in the text can not be reconciled with any theory which makes the turn of the tide toward Lincoln at all dependent on a Blair-Fremont deal. Speaking of the tradition that Chandler called upon Lincoln and made a definite agreement with him looking toward the removal of Blair, Colonel W. O. Stoddard writes me that his "opinion, or half memory, would be that the tradition is a myth." See also, Welles, II, 156-158.
  6. Lincoln, X, 228-229. 
  7. Times, September 24, 1864. 
  8. Times, September 28, 1864. 
  9. N. and H., IX, 364. 
  10. Thayer, II, 214; Hay MS. 
  11. N. and H., IX, 377. 
  12. Thayer, II, 216; Hay MS, III, 29. 
  13. Lincoln, X, 261. 
  14. N. and H., IX, 378-379. 


  1. Lincoln, X, 283. 
  2. N. and H., IX, 392-394. 
  3. N. and H., IX, 210-211.
  4. One of the traditions that has grown up around Lincoln makes the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment a matter of threats. Two votes were needed. It was discovered according to this simpleminded bit of art that two members of the opposition had been guilty of illegal practices, the precise nature of which is conveniently left vague. Lincoln, even in some highly reputable biographies, sent for these secret criminals, told them that the power of the President of the United States was very great, and that he expected them to vote for the amendment. The authority for the story appears to be a member of Congress, John B. Aley. Reminiscences, 585-586; Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln, 335-336. To a great many minds it has always seemed out of key. Fortunately, there is a rival version. Shrewd, careful Riddle has a vastly different tale in which Lincoln does not figure at all, in which three necessary votes were bought for the amendment by Ashley. Riddle is so careful to make plain just what he can vouch for and just what he has at second hand that his mere mode of narration creates confidence. Riddle, 324-325. Parts of his version are to be found in various places.
  5. Nicolay, Cambridge, 601. 
  6. Lincoln, X, 38-39, and note; XI, 89. 
  7. 38 Globe, II, 903. 
  8. 38 Globe, II, 1127. 
  9. 38 Globe, 11,1129; Pierce, IV, 221-227. 
  10. Recollections, 249. 
  11. Nicolay, 503-504; Lincoln, XI, 43. 
  12. Lincoln, XI, 4446. 


  1. Grant, II, 459. 
  2. Tarbell, II, 229. 
  3. N. and H., IX, 457. 
  4. Pierce, IV, 236. 
  5. Lincoln, XI, 84-91.


  1. Tarbell, II, 231-232. 
  2. Pierce, IV, 235. 
  3. Tarbell, II, 232. 
  4. Recollections, 116. 
  5. Nicolay, 531. 
  6. N. and H., X, 283-284. 
  7. Julian, 255. 
  8. Recollections, 249. 
  9. Recollections, 119. 
  10. Nicolay, 532. 
  11. Recollections, 119-120; Carpenter, 293; Nicolay, 532; Tarbell, II, 235. 
  12. Nicolay, 539. 
  13. Thayer, II, 219; Hay MS, 
  14. Riddle, 332. 
  15. Nicolay, 530. 

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