Hope I’m not overwhelming anyone with posts, but I figure a lot of people bored at home right now. Stay safe!
I mentioned the weird Halleck rumor in an earlier post. This might shed some light.
After Halleck had been withdrawn from the field he was kept at Washington by Mr. Lincoln, and was in and around the White House all the time. “He was,” said Judge Usher, “a great, big, clever, intelligent clerk.” Somebody asked Lincoln what he had Halleck around so much for, and he answered that, as there were no military men in the Cabinet, it was handy to have somebody around who could explain the movements of the troops in the field when the despatches came in. Halleck was, in short, a sort of Presidential explainer.
John P. Usher, interview with George Alfred Townsend, THE BOSTON SUNDAY BUDGET, MAY 14, 1882.
Another random thing I found has been bothering me, and perhaps some of my readers can help figure it out. Colorful journalist Joseph Howard, Jr., the one responsible for the Scotch cap story and the forged draft proclamation during Lincoln’s time, finished his long and eminent career by writing reminiscences for the Boston Globe. You never really know whether to trust Howard’s claims, but in one, he wrote the following:
On my desk has for many years rested a human skull. In the stirring days, of which I speak above, it was the head of a man whose forceful nature gave him prominence among his fellows, and made him a factor in wide horizoned affairs. He knew Mrs Lincoln, and admired her long silken hair, praised her beautiful shoulders, and guided her through the mazes of an etiquette to which she was an utter and absolute stranger. He knew all these men of whom I speak, shook hands with the suave Yulee, tasted the liquid ambrosia with Mason, played poker with Schenck, discussed finance with Chase, and almost equalled Buchanan in deportment. If that skull could speak, it would charm New England with its memories, as it often delighted gay parties with its pleasantries and enlivened the halls of legislation with its bright and witty powers of debate. Boston Sunday Globe, July 16, 1899
What? As far as I can tell, he never explained further, nor did anyone inquire. Is he talking about a bust of Charles Sumner or N. P. Willis, perhaps? Is he just being creative with language, or did he possess an actual skull? People did start donating their brains to science by this time, so maybe. I’m not sure if the guy was from New England or if Howard just says that because he is writing for a Boston audience (Howard was a Massachusetts native). But this is someone who debated in the legislative halls, so this isn’t Wikoff or anyone else who was merely a suave major player in the social scene. Isn’t this a weird paragraph to include in the Boston Sunday Globe without further explanation? Any ideas?