John Hay to John Nicolay, August 7, 1863, Washington, DC, in Tyler Dennett, ed., Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay (New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1939), 75-76.
Transcription adapted from Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, edited by Tyler Dennett
Adapted by Brenna McKelvey, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay (1939)
To J.G. Nicolay
Executive Mansion, Washington,
August 7, 1863.
The draft fell pretty heavily in our end of town. William Johnson (cullud) was taken while polishing the Executive boots and rasping the Imperial Abolition whisker. Henry Stoddard is a conscript bold. You remember that good-natured shiny-faced darkey who used to be my special favorite a year ago at Willard’s. He is gone, en haut de la spout. And the gorgeous headwaiter, G. Washington. A clerk in the War Department named Ramsey committed suicide on hearing he was drafted. Our friend Henry A. Blood was snatched from his jealous desk. And Bob Lamon is on the [torn off]. Bob [Lincoln] and his mother have gone through to the white mountains. (I don’t take any special stock in the matter & write the locality in small letters.) Bob was so shattered by the wedding of the idol of all of us, the bright particular Teutonne, that he rushed madly off to sympathize with nature in her sternest aspects. They will be gone some time. The newspapers say the Tycoon will join them after a while. If so, he does not know it. He may possibly go for a few days to Cape May where Hill Lamon is now staying, though that is not certain.
This town is as dismal now as a defaced tombstone. Everybody has gone. I am getting apathetic & write blackguardly articles for the Chronicle from which West extracts the dirt & fun & publishes the dreary remains. The Tycoon is in fine whack. I have rarely seen him more serene & busy. He is managing this war, the draft, foreign relations, and planning a reconstruction of the Union, all at once. I never knew with what tyrannous authority he rules the Cabinet, till now. The most important things he decides & there is no cavil. I am growing more and more firmly convinced that the good of the country absolutely demands that he should be kept where he is till this thing is over. There is no man in the country, so wise, so gentle, and so firm. I believe the hand of God placed him where he is.
They are working against him like beavers though; Hale & that crowd, but don’t seem to make anything by it. I believe the people know what they want and unless politics have gained in power & lost in principle they will have it.
I am getting on very comfortably. Howe is a very good fellow. I hate to give orders to a man who was a Senator in Massachusetts while I was in jackets and button-cintured trousers. Still he is better than Stod. As he is never stuffy and always on hand.
I will wind up with a little gossip. Mrs. Davenport told it to Wise & Wise told me. Mrs. Davenport loquitur. “Have you heard the dreadful story about Miss Carroll of Baltimore? Raped by a negro! What are we coming to?”
Wise. “How did she appear to like it?”
Mrs. D. “You have heard about Mrs. Emory’s maid? Gone to Philadelphia to be confined!”
Wise. “Who has gotten in her way; not Mrs. Emory, I hope.”
Mrs. D. “No! you naughty fellow. Lord Lyons’ valet.”
That’s all I know of high life that would interest you. Take care of yourself & write when you have nothing better to do.