tv Abraham Lincolns Governors CSPAN March 18, 2017 7:04pm-7:54pm EDT
"american history tv." >> >> the incoming president of the abraham lincoln institute has written a review of stephen's book for the journal of american history. let me quote. nation willo save a stand for years as the book on lincoln's relationship with governors. it is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand how the north mobilized to win the civil war." present pleasure to
stephen ingle. -- engle. [applause] mr. engle: what a wonderful introduction, and for the preview of the review. i want to thank everyone here who has made my stay an absolute delight. if i appear nervous, i really am. this is a real stage. not just any stage. in any case, i want to thank the staff and michelle and the board for invited me -- inviting me. i am probably the least lincoln scholars here given the illustrious crew you always assemble. this, i am not half of professor harris's age but i am envious of his productivity. i confess that bob was going to
bring out the book to hold up but he confessed that he would drop it, which is a testament to the fact that i come from the michael burlingame school of writing history. [laughter] mr. engle: a shout out to michael, who i have read for many years and many of the scholars here, i have read their works. a tremendous pleasure to be here. >> [indiscernible] thank you. dr. engle: thank you, michael. it's interesting. this project had its origins in germany in 1996. ahad a conversation with professor visiting as a scholar and we became great friends over the couple weeks he was there and he and i talked a lot about civil war and reconstruction. he was there doing a paper on a war.for the road to total he was with a number of scholars.
and i would like to talk about what he called "federal history." old-fashioned federal history. no one was doing old-fashioned federal history, and now i know why. i begin this project in 1996 and it has taken me almost 20 years to bring to the light of day what has been a labor of love for more than two decades. one of the things that i thought i needed to do to acquaint myself with federal history was not only visit all of the statehouses and read all of the of thers' letter books governors of 23 northern states, but i came to recognize that statehouses and state governors were caused was between the national and the local. threedecided to read newspapers for every one of those 23 northern states for every day of the war. through that i am asked several
hundred pages of testimony about how central the statehouse became during the american civil war. began to reflect on putting pen to paper, i kept coming up with the same theme, saying opening scenes for what is a continuing work in progress, our democratic ideal and our self-government. so, imagine this scene in april 1861. it's april 17. it is wednesday. william vancouver is an iowa state congressman who receives a telegram in davenport, iowa from abraham lincoln, asking for men to be put into federal service. the governor of the state is sam kirkwood. he is a republican. he is on his farm in iowa city. because there is no telegraph service between these towns, vandiver decides to ride on horseback to tell the governor
the news. he finds governor kirkwood in his overalls, his boots, rake in hand, tending his stocks. kirkwood reads the dispatch, looks at vancouver, and responded -- you mean the president was a whole regiment of men? do you suppose i can raise that many? how many are in iowa? [laughter] first, the governor had no idea how big his population was and he had no the size of a regiment. after all, more than 70,000 iowans would serve in the civil war. the means by which kirkwood would receive the call was not typical, it revealed the the nation,ss of and gave me the title for the -- "gathering to save a nation."
historians grapple over how and north restored the union. it provides a model of how fragile the union was in the 19th century. it inspired loyal political leaders to demonstrate that states had more rights in the union than outside of the union. this revelation motivated loyal state leaders to unite in the hopes of vindicating democracy. the ensuing war ironically forced a powerful nationstate alliance that produced a northern state army powerful enough to defeat the confederates. scholars have expanded investigations to include the character of governors, northern and southerners, as contributors to the factors of this victory.
the union's defense of 1861 revealed intense nationalist dealings, but marshaling the resources required extraordinary coordination between nation and state. organized, itey rested on the partnership between abraham lincoln and his loyal state governors. thehaped to the ways that should federal power in pursuit of union. it was a new nation that lincoln referred to at gettysburg. thehe 150 years since conflict, only "lincoln and the war governors" has been preserved as a seminal work on this important relationship.
lincoln as a master manipulator of public opinion and political opinion and conflicts with governors over mobilization. he argued that the president was , doing what was needed despite the governors. the victory of nationalism over over states rights was, in the last analysis, the victory of keener intellect over men of lesser minds. as much as scholars credit lincoln with engineering victory, he also benefited from governor's selective efforts. hardly did he regard his chief executives as men of lesser minds or dismiss them as spectators watching the were --
watching the war unfold from state capitals. quite the contrary. loyal governors demonstrated considerable influence by collaborating with the president, partnering with him to mobilize for war, and at times, pushing him toward greater national efforts. governors experience the same that lincolnwer experienced during the war. governors held extraordinary power in wartime. the partnership between lincoln was maintained most rheumatic in the area of national mobilization. lincoln understood their importance far better than the rider allowed. yes, they had disagreements, but lincoln was not trying to ruinower them politically, their prestige, or dominate their state affairs.
rather, he regarded these as essential parts of the whole, -- as essential fors of the whole maintaining democracy and self-governance. without the willingness of local governors who agreed independently to marshall state resources and cooperate in establishing and national army, lincoln would have been hard-pressed to preserve the union. harris takes this up "lincoln and the republican governors." respects their constitutional authority and worked with them to maintain a unified war effort. he emphasizes the junta fusion is that lincoln -- he rep -- he emphasizes the contribution of
the governors in the war. on a practical level, this took shape as unionists mobilized for war. effort, cooperative loyal governors exercised important powers. citizens looked to them for leadership. their partnerships offer impressive examples of federal, state, and local cooperation that not only resulted in union victory -- they had been regionally driven as a decentralized the system. they themselves stayed within decentralized federal systems. as much as northerners accepted states rights, they rejected the
promotion of state sovereignty over national sovereignty. the war in for site is the this is-- the war in the ability of states to express citizenship and union first, even ones that contain slavery. governors functioned as agents of a national coalition that activism, that emphasize the united states as a single nation. as such, preserving the union gave the appearance of nationalism. ,y answering lincoln's call northerners chose to emphasize the same rights that southerners did in leaving the union. only they used it to cooperate with lincoln. in doing so, they placed nation above state and realized -- and relied on the union for national authority. that was an alliance between
lincoln and the governors and it reinforced the union. but it did not mean that they lessened their commitment to local government. on the contrary. they kept popular sovereignty and pitted agrarian and industrial resistance against each other. the fusion oftood state politics and nationalist state governors compromised union. levelsl and state navigated the shoals of nationally sure in and conscription. when lincoln expanded his aims to assist governors in maintaining support for the war, it tested popular sovereignty's limits. the secretary of the navy addicted as much early in the war. the government will doubtless be
stronger after the conflict is over then it has ever been, he confided to his wife, and there will be less liberty, but perhaps with greater security. state executives clung to a wide range of powers that prior to the war had existed independent of one another. spiriting the volunteer despite jealousies and competing ambitions as well as cooperate with the national government. the governors were as worried about the expansion of national powers as the conduct during the war. unity was important for northerners to achieve victory. yet they debated the nature of the union they were preserving. governors were party spokesman, policy formulators. yet in times of peas, they
served as figureheads. toislators delegated governors limited powers suited for the times. they had to do powers -- executive and administrative. -- they had two powers, executive and administrative. typically, state constitutions relegated them to be commanders in chief of the state militias, granting them power to convene the legislature, create and submit touches, fill vacancies in state offices, and granted them some appointed powers. but constitutions limited their often qualifying the governor's veto power and restricting oversight of elected officers. before the war, the governor's cabinets are small and included typically a lieutenant governor, and auditor of public accounts,
a superintendent of approvals, and attorney general. in many regions, these were elected, rather than appointed, thus minimizing control by the governor. but with the assistance of executive secretary and one or two clerks, they supervise the matters of state government, including institutions for the insane, prisons, public schools, public works, and the office of the adjutant general. they recommended changes to improve their citizens' economic and social conditions. but the exigencies of war turned them into powerful politicians and voters carefully monitored , also inendancy maintaining a balance between local and national priorities. maintaining the armies and worked with
legislatures to accommodate the changes of the war. they made advances and relied on .gents citizens kept them accountable for their decisions. it may governments all the more answerable to the electorate. california, illinois, iowa, kansas, new york, ohio, west virginia missed the whole's by any them. delaware, indiana, kentucky, oregon allow their governors for-your terms. most importantly, with their authority as commanders in chief , they were allowed to take emergency actions. but their formal powers did not equip them with the powers for
leadership and they relied on to offerbetter suited assistance. many chief executives came into office having one popularity and credibility thanks to their legal acumen or previous political service. some were lifelong democrats. some had been whigs. of thewrote the tide political movement over kansas statehood that helped engineer the rebuttal can party. they established a sectional activity dedicated to preserving the union. with the war outbreak, they forged a stronger relationship a national spirit that tied them to the cause. they mobilized voters and maintained alliances at home. strongly remained
republican throughout the war. the most prominent republican governors throughout the war included janet -- john andrew, william buckingham of connecticut, samuel kirkwood of edwinedwin morgan -- morgan -- only two years in new israel washburn, and richard gates of illinois. the task of preserving the union also fell on local -- loyal democratic governors who nonetheless supported the union war effort. thomas bramlett of kentucky, john downey of california, jewell parker of new jersey, david todd of ohio, whitaker of oregon. remained loyal to
support lincoln at the first and revealed the complex interplay of loyalty and locality. governors were forced to choose between economic ties and the conservatism that associated them with small government and hostility toward fugitive slaves. those governors with democratic in 1863 and -- 1864, the military situation turned in the union's favor. still, governors suffered with intractable state legislate legislatures. hostility led to tension as whileors struggled
maintaining support at home. in short, they served as the main springs of nationalism, the represent a vast and diverse constituency that left them unprotected by washington bureaucracy. lincoln understood this accountability. he began the struggle aiming only to bring the old union back together, and as the conflict , he marshaled forces opposite to jefferson davis, making the federal system work, rely on governors, encouraging their best efforts, and through them securing most of the support necessary from the state legislatures. unusual humility, study and
purposeful, a quality that harriet beecher stowe once described as "peculiar." it is not aggressive so much as passive, she described, and it the stone buttress, but the wire cable. it yields on the side and on that to popular needs, and yet tenaciously and inflexibly bound to carry its great in. -- it's great and. lincoln needed the governors and people believed the president needed them as well. there was no better example of followingin the weeks the second bull run. when northern people called on the governors to exercise their ability to influence the president, whether he needed it or not to make war.
they had a hand in a hand in expanding war aims, what ever form it may take. lincoln waited for the opportunity to act publicly to minimize political fallout. he knew many citizens were conservative when it came to racial matters, but they might thatlling to accept emancipation could weaken the confederacy. the decision weight on him, as northern governors. he stood behind his emancipation venture, but it was time to go public, he thought, with a move against the confederates and abandon a conciliatory approach. perhaps we are doing as well as
other states, one governor but itout to lincoln, nearly drives me mad when i see the american army is running before a generation of scandal some american liberty almost prostrate. god only knows if the president will ever burst his bonds of border stages of, but the people are somehow blessed with an instinct of faith, before whom, i believe, mountains will move. move mountains, but he yielded to rhode island governor william sprague, who suggested that new england .overnors meet to discuss war i amote to andrew -- heartily sick and tired of any double policies, he declared to a war meeting in newport.
no white glove handling will do this, he claimed. we must strike the enemy and his vital parts, wherever those were. [laughter] wanted to sprague stir the governors. it is time for the states to stir the federal government, he wrote andrew. we will have nothing but victories, remove incompetent and unfaithful generals, and emancipate and employ the slaves. we live with the south and slavery after all that has happened? the president should be awoke at last, he argued. to awaken the administration, he published the proceedings of a union meeting in that city, recommending the loyal governors to devisehe president a plan that they may be effective in rescuing the union from its current peril.
the governors of the loyal states, wrote the editor, know the sentiments of the people better than the president. body of wise and patriotic men and might be able to point out the radical defects in the present mode of conducting the war and propose some plan giving at reasonable promise of success. if lincoln trusts the people, as occasions,ar on many then it was wise to offer them a stratagem to declare their opinions. we think it is the duty of the state executives to hold such consultations immediately. residents -- sent
a letter to all of the governors entitled "to the governors of intentiontates." her was to reinforce the sentiment of horace greeley's tribune article that appeared on august 20, entitled "the prayer of 20 urged thewhich are president to liberate slaves. yet many northerners had seen few signs of new war aims. the governorsto to take action to end slavery. sovereignvernors of states have a right in we beseech you to enforce it, to demand of the president when he calls for men to tell you what he wants with them. we feel it is your duty to demand of him to tell and -- in plains which words which he intends shall live, slavery or freedom?'
-- slavery or freedom?" to be sure, governors were conscious of the powers. the northern populace had come to lean on them. during the political talk of and union leadership found justified away for the union to preserve the union while accepting emancipation as a necessary part of the war. consequently, the union ultimately prevailed because loyal governors stood by lincoln's war aims and encouraged him to take measures necessary to win. , the united states that southerners had succumbed to have fundamentally changed from the one of years earlier. they claimed new powers and responsibilities. slaveryionalism and gave way to governmental power.
in the postwar, the struggle that characterize the new environment. industrialization's accelerated pace, activist intervention in the economy came under the watchful eyes of legislatures. stay government shrank in the years following piece, as did the roles of governors, and the depression of the 1870's, combined with growing democratic majorities further added to state development with a hostility to government and a desire to challenge state activism. legislatures continue to pass legislation,
they soon gave way to local control. the passing year distanced war from the cause that governors wanted to find. although a few went on to some distinguished political careers in congress, most return to obscurity, many to poverty, and faded from historical memory. the new york times wrote that one governor's departure marked the last of the famous war governors. what a distinguished list, wrote the editor. soon they would be nothing more than a memory. hopefully with this book they now have a history of their
efforts. thank you very much. [applause] yes, i will take questions, but i can hardly see. >> i understand. when union troops arrested the legislatures of maryland, how did the maryland governor respond to that? which side was he on? dr. engle: that is a great question. which side was the maryland governor on monday arrested the legislatures in maryland. he is a slave owner who is thinking of is getting rid of his own slaves. he would get rid of his own slaves. but he is conflicted because he is in a state that has a fairly large free black population, about the same number of slave populations. blacks and slaves.
on the governor was walking a very narrow road in trying to decipher the best path for him, staying loyal to the efforts of lincoln's administration and the best interests of the people of maryland. one of the reasons he holds off on keeping the legislature into session is that very reason. he feared that they would probably secede. so he waits until the military comes to occupy annapolis and they would convene in frederick a few weeks later. great question. over here. >> great talk. this is an important subject. i am from connecticut. william buckingham? dr. engle: william buckingham of
connecticut is an absolute stalwart example of a tremendously gifted chief executive. from a small state, minimal war,rces, early on in the he sends agents to procure everything that the soldiers might need. every state sent agents to new york, boston and connecticut was way ahead in preparing for this war because new england, so they wanted to take the lead. they wanted to be the movers and shakers of public policy early on in the war. and of course, he maintains a great record in conscription and thenteer and replenishing ranks and keeping the state budget intact and actually he is one of the few governors who
would not make it to be field as much as the other new england governors and that think part of that was some health reasons as other commitments in new england. yet? >> as a follow-on to this gentleman's question -- can you describe a comment on the disloyal governors in the border states? dr. engle: the disloyal governors of the border states -- some interesting term. . am careful to say that ofead a tremendous number letters about whether he was or was not loyal. regardless of what kentuckians believed, regardless of what his colleagues believed in the colleagues of his believed him to be secretly working with the confederacy and
jefferson davis and they believed in a conservative approach to find a way to maintain his power and use other operatives in kentucky for what in that state.do [indiscernible] >> [indiscernible] dr. engle: i'm sorry? statejackson -- in that -- takes broader and more defined state -- steps and begins to employ southern the confederate war effort. he is a more definite disloyal governor. and again, lincoln has to find missourians and other state .peratives to work with him and he does. he's very effective with that. >> hi.
professor engle, would you entertain the audience talking about the accomplishments of the governor of indiana? he managed to raise money without putting the legislature in session, and also how he enabled brigadier general jefferson davis to get away with murder? [laughs]: teedo great questions. oliver. morton is an interesting figure. he is a devoted republican. loses his legislature to democrats and would not regain for most of the war. it is very hard to run a war thatt from a legislature is absolutely opposed. he has to lean on the federal government. he has to lean on federal resources to help him undertake what he is really hard-pressed
to do in indiana. is indianaprising prisons to me one of the most interesting facets of the war. how this loyal opposition operated at the 30,000 feet highest levels. morton is unable to pay the interest on the bank loans indiana has taken and has no way of raising money because he has no means of raising money, other than using his own worth, as many governors would. and during the war, it is an parent -- it is apparent that there is a fairly hostile population to description and he would lean on stanton and would come to washington unbeknownst , to seek a loan of 200 $50,000, and he does get this
loan, but it's only to pay the interest of the state note that is due to go back in new york. the otherquestion question was about jefferson c. davis. i have the biography of don , who was the commander of the army at the time that jefferson davis shoots william bill nelson in the hotel lobby -- actually in the stairway. interesting case, how he gets off for murder. i don't want to go into all of the details. let's just say there was enough that nelsonsuggest .eserved what was coming to him
the governor believed as much as well. so, sorry. >> some practical things. how did states finance their part in the work, and when soldiers were called up by the spare it toid they the state or the federal government? they appointed their own officers. when the war went on, what does lincoln do with the governors to federal --m with the dr. engle: state governors negotiated bank loans. >> did they raise taxes? dr. engle: there was an income tax, but they did not raise very much money. .hey chiefly relied on bankers so, most governors raised funds privately through their
taxes,ture, not to raise but to appropriate funds through negotiation of loans. most governors, you have to recognize most governors are so uninformed about how to function during war, one of the best things they do is to advised on military advisers. yet governors appointed a lot of governors up to the rank of colonel who were republican. the opposition feared that they were playing politics with office appointments. some were, some were. a lot of those office appointments were then taken more seriously by a board of examiners who then would try to
take politics out of the appointment. there would be boards to examine who were the best .andidates >> to whom did the soldiers swear an oath of allegiance? dr. engle: you would swear enough oath to the federal government, but you were with the state militia. >> it was federalized question mark dr. engle: -- it was federalized? dr. engle: yes, everything was federalized. >> there is a regiment from almost every state in the union army. they had to keep the settlement down in their states -- the copperheads of indiana or something. this increasingly becomes a problem after the -- 1862 and the
state conscription and emancipation proclamation. is theyg in particular have to keep at home a certain contingent of regiments, especially in those counties that are important railway junctions. toernors were very attuned an indian uprising. governors had a problem at home and a number of issues that could not conform to providing lincoln all of the troops he needs. governor,on becomes things change in a good way, but they understand the pressing need for local control, and to proceduralertain rules for union armies. >> what states were most
problematic in this regard? dr. engle: indiana, pennsylvania, iowa, missouri -- [laughter] dr. engle: kansas. kansas. one of the fascinating things about the subject -- as a kept -- how did theis union managed to pull this off? i mean that sincerely. how in the world did they manage off and make this look like a foregone conclusion question mark absolutely not. there were very dark days for leaders who believed that the next group was going to take office. and you have to understand there were legislatures who raised to pay the penalty for democrats to be exempted.
so you have serious opposition to this war it home and lincoln is very much aware of that. and governors are very much aware they will be elected every year. they don't have for years. they are going to be office -- out of office very quickly if they do not manage this local war at home, whether there are guerrillas coming through or indians or what is going to happen to fugitive slaves moving into ohio or illinois or indiana or even into iowa? have an incredible responsibility during this time. yeah. did the federal government stop relying on the governors to raise troops and switch over to national conscription? and in order to switch over, were there constitutional issues regarding states rights that had to be solved? dr. engle: sure. great question. number one -- a little context
here -- the emancipation proclamation lincoln signs 1863,ing june 1, volunteerism is at an all-time low. left imagine this. the battle of fredericksburg, these major, apocalyptic battles. most governors are printing the casualties. if you are reading the newspaper, this is not a time for you to be patriotic. this is a time for you to say, this is as good as it is going to get. was others had a problem with was the state militias, the governor could draft for the state militias if those state militias had not met. most people do not realize what that militia act was really responsible for. but congress in march would ask for an enrollment package which was the first step toward a
occursl conscription act the governors called on lincoln and the congressman, their senators -- we need a national draft. there's no way -- we don't have enough money in the bank to incentivize volunteering and we are losing the war. ?ow can we sell this distribute the burden of war to the masses who have not participated. convince them it is your turn. the governors cannot do this. if they can, it is very hard. a nationalor conscription act in april 1863, which then will take effect some 90 days after that, if the have not been met. one of the things i found early gwen moore isy -- a player and every town took up
a little recruiting poster, thousands of people flocked to des moines, iowa. thousands flocked to boston. they marry next year, it is a trickle. people are not real -- the very next year, it is a trickle. people are not volunteering for a war efforts that they believe, in many cases, not to be winning. the national construction act comes at an all-time low in our public perception, and governors are hard-pressed to sell this, but they now have to sell this as a way for the people who have gone forward that there is another constituency out there that can share the burden and the labor of fighting the war and carrying on what you started so we do not die. unfortunately, by sending provost marshals to every state, the national draft is not that much more successful. i would argue it was not as
successful as they expected it to be. within the year, they would return volunteering and incentivizing dating men to join back to the state governors, who recognized everything was related at that point to what was going on in the field or the politics in washington. newspapers.ead the the subscription rates were at an all-time high. even these obscure local newspapers went up in subscriptions. people read about the war. and newspaper editors were very effective. and you print on christmas day the list of casualties for the 14th maine, that is not front-page news you want to read on christmas day. wantnors recognized there to have to find a way to incentivize volunteers other than conscription, which was --
that is why i'm saying this was such a hard-fought contest on both fronts, both the confederates as well as the home fronts, trying to figure out, how can we win this war and maintain this sort of, you know, focus on local governments. great question. thank you. [applause] [indistinct conversations] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]