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Title: Behind the Scenes - or, Thirty years a slave, and Four Years in the White House
Author: Keckley, Elizabeth, ca. 1818-1907.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Behind the Scenes,

Thirty Years a Slave,
and Four Years in the White House

       *       *       *       *       *



Preface                                                                3
Chapter I. Where I was born                                            7
Chapter II. Girlhood and its Sorrows                                  13
Chapter III. How I gained my Freedom                                  19
Chapter IV. In the Family of Senator Jefferson Davis                  28
Chapter V. My Introduction to Mrs. Lincoln                            34
Chapter VI. Willie Lincoln's Death-bed                                41
Chapter VII. Washington in 1862-3                                     50
Chapter VIII. Candid Opinions                                         57
Chapter IX. Behind the Scenes                                         62
Chapter X. The Second Inauguration                                    68
Chapter XI. The Assassination of President Lincoln                    77
Chapter XII. Mrs. Lincoln leaves the White House                      89
Chapter XIII. The Origin of the Rivalry between
    Mr. Douglas and Mr. Lincol                                       101
Chapter XIV. Old Friends                                             106
Chapter XV. The Secret History of Mrs. Lincoln's
    Wardrobe in New York                                             119
Appendix--Letters from Mrs. Lincoln to Mrs. Keckley                  147

       *       *       *       *       *







G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers.

       *       *       *       *       *


I have often been asked to write my life, as those who know me know that
it has been an eventful one. At last I have acceded to the importunities
of my friends, and have hastily sketched some of the striking incidents
that go to make up my history. My life, so full of romance, may sound
like a dream to the matter-of-fact reader, nevertheless everything I
have written is strictly true; much has been omitted, but nothing has
been exaggerated. In writing as I have done, I am well aware that I have
invited criticism; but before the critic judges harshly, let my
explanation be carefully read and weighed. If I have portrayed the dark
side of slavery, I also have painted the bright side. The good that I
have said of human servitude should be thrown into the scales with the
evil that I have said of it. I have kind, true-hearted friends in the
South as well as in the North, and I would not wound those Southern
friends by sweeping condemnation, simply because I was once a slave.
They were not so much responsible for the curse under which I was born,
as the God of nature and the fathers who framed the Constitution for the
United States. The law descended to them, and it was but natural that
they should recognize it, since it manifestly was their interest to do
so. And yet a wrong was inflicted upon me; a cruel custom deprived me of
my liberty, and since I was robbed of my dearest right, I would not have
been human had I not rebelled against the robbery. God rules the
Universe. I was a feeble instrument in His hands, and through me and the
enslaved millions of my race, one of the problems was solved that
belongs to the great problem of human destiny; and the solution was
developed so gradually that there was no great convulsion of the
harmonies of natural laws. A solemn truth was thrown to the surface, and
what is better still, it was recognized as a truth by those who give
force to moral laws. An act may be wrong, but unless the ruling power
recognizes the wrong, it is useless to hope for a correction of it.
Principles may be right, but they are not established within an hour.
The masses are slow to reason, and each principle, to acquire moral
force, must come to us from the fire of the crucible; the fire may
inflict unjust punishment, but then it purifies and renders stronger the
principle, not in itself, but in the eyes of those who arrogate judgment
to themselves. When the war of the Revolution established the
independence of the American colonies, an evil was perpetuated, slavery
was more firmly established; and since the evil had been planted, it
must pass through certain stages before it could be eradicated. In fact,
we give but little thought to the plant of evil until it grows to such
monstrous proportions that it overshadows important interests; then the
efforts to destroy it become earnest. As one of the victims of slavery I
drank of the bitter water; but then, since destiny willed it so, and
since I aided in bringing a solemn truth to the surface _as a truth_,
perhaps I have no right to complain. Here, as in all things pertaining
to life, I can afford to be charitable.

It may be charged that I have written too freely on some questions,
especially in regard to Mrs. Lincoln. I do not think so; at least I have
been prompted by the purest motive. Mrs. Lincoln, by her own acts,
forced herself into notoriety. She stepped beyond the formal lines which
hedge about a private life, and invited public criticism. The people
have judged her harshly, and no woman was ever more traduced in the
public prints of the country. The people knew nothing of the secret
history of her transactions, therefore they judged her by what was
thrown to the surface. For an act may be wrong judged purely by itself,
but when the motive that prompted the act is understood, it is construed
differently. I lay it down as an axiom, that only that is criminal in
the sight of God where crime is meditated. Mrs. Lincoln may have been
imprudent, but since her intentions were good, she should be judged more
kindly than she has been. But the world do not know what her intentions
were; they have only been made acquainted with her acts without knowing
what feeling guided her actions. If the world are to judge her as I have
judged her, they must be introduced to the secret history of her
transactions. The veil of mystery must be drawn aside; the origin of a
fact must be brought to light with the naked fact itself. If I have
betrayed confidence in anything I have published, it has been to place
Mrs. Lincoln in a better light before the world. A breach of trust--if
breach it can be called--of this kind is always excusable. My own
character, as well as the character of Mrs. Lincoln, is at stake, since
I have been intimately associated with that lady in the most eventful
periods of her life. I have been her confidante, and if evil charges are
laid at her door, they also must be laid at mine, since I have been a
party to all her movements. To defend myself I must defend the lady that
I have served. The world have judged Mrs. Lincoln by the facts which
float upon the surface, and through her have partially judged me, and
the only way to convince them that wrong was not meditated is to explain
the motives that actuated us. I have written nothing that can place Mrs.
Lincoln in a worse light before the world than the light in which she
now stands, therefore the secret history that I publish can do her no
harm. I have excluded everything of a personal character from her
letters; the extracts introduced only refer to public men, and are such
as to throw light upon her unfortunate adventure in New York. These
letters were not written for publication, for which reason they are all
the more valuable; they are the frank overflowings of the heart, the
outcropping of impulse, the key to genuine motives. They prove the
motive to have been pure, and if they shall help to stifle the voice of
calumny, I am content. I do not forget, before the public journals
vilified Mrs. Lincoln, that ladies who moved in the Washington circle in
which she moved, freely canvassed her character among themselves. They
gloated over many a tale of scandal that grew out of gossip in their own
circle. If these ladies, could say everything bad of the wife of the
President, why should I not be permitted to lay her secret history bare,
especially when that history plainly shows that her life, like all
lives, has its good side as well as its bad side! None of us are
perfect, for which reason we should heed the voice of charity when it
whispers in our ears, "Do not magnify the imperfections of others." Had
Mrs. Lincoln's acts never become public property, I should not have
published to the world the secret chapters of her life. I am not the
special champion of the widow of our lamented President; the reader of
the pages which follow will discover that I have written with the utmost
frankness in regard to her--have exposed her faults as well as given her
credit for honest motives. I wish the world to judge her as she is, free
from the exaggerations of praise or scandal, since I have been
associated with her in so many things that have provoked hostile
criticism; and the judgment that the world may pass upon her, I flatter
myself, will present my own actions in a better light.

    14 Carroll Place, New York,
    March 14, 1868.



My life has been an eventful one. I was born a slave--was the child of
slave parents--therefore I came upon the earth free in God-like thought,
but fettered in action. My birthplace was Dinwiddie Court-House, in
Virginia. My recollections of childhood are distinct, perhaps for the
reason that many stirring incidents are associated with that period. I
am now on the shady side of forty, and as I sit alone in my room the
brain is busy, and a rapidly moving panorama brings scene after scene
before me, some pleasant and others sad; and when I thus greet old
familiar faces, I often find myself wondering if I am not living the
past over again. The visions are so terribly distinct that I almost
imagine them to be real. Hour after hour I sit while the scenes are
being shifted; and as I gaze upon the panorama of the past, I realize
how crowded with incidents my life has been. Every day seems like a
romance within itself, and the years grow into ponderous volumes. As I
cannot condense, I must omit many strange passages in my history. From
such a wilderness of events it is difficult to make a selection, but as
I am not writing altogether the history of myself, I will confine my
story to the most important incidents which I believe influenced the
moulding of my character. As I glance over the crowded sea of the past,
these incidents stand forth prominently, the guide-posts of memory. I
presume that I must have been four years old when I first began to
remember; at least, I cannot now recall anything occurring previous to
this period. My master, Col. A. Burwell, was somewhat unsettled in his
business affairs, and while I was yet an infant he made several
removals. While living at Hampton Sidney College, Prince Edward County,
Va., Mrs. Burwell gave birth to a daughter, a sweet, black-eyed baby,
my earliest and fondest pet. To take care of this baby was my first
duty. True, I was but a child myself--only four years old--but then I
had been raised in a hardy school--had been taught to rely upon myself,
and to prepare myself to render assistance to others. The lesson was not
a bitter one, for I was too young to indulge in philosophy, and the
precepts that I then treasured and practised I believe developed those
principles of character which have enabled me to triumph over so many
difficulties. Notwithstanding all the wrongs that slavery heaped upon
me, I can bless it for one thing--youth's important lesson of
self-reliance. The baby was named Elizabeth, and it was pleasant to me
to be assigned a duty in connection with it, for the discharge of that
duty transferred me from the rude cabin to the household of my master.
My simple attire was a short dress and a little white apron. My old
mistress encouraged me in rocking the cradle, by telling me that if I
would watch over the baby well, keep the flies out of its face, and not
let it cry, I should be its little maid. This was a golden promise, and
I required no better inducement for the faithful performance of my task.
I began to rock the cradle most industriously, when lo! out pitched
little pet on the floor. I instantly cried out, "Oh! the baby is on the
floor;" and, not knowing what to do, I seized the fire-shovel in my
perplexity, and was trying to shovel up my tender charge, when my
mistress called to me to let the child alone, and then ordered that I be
taken out and lashed for my carelessness. The blows were not
administered with a light hand, I assure you, and doubtless the severity
of the lashing has made me remember the incident so well. This was the
first time I was punished in this cruel way, but not the last. The
black-eyed baby that I called my pet grew into a self-willed girl, and
in after years was the cause of much trouble to me. I grew strong and
healthy, and, notwithstanding I knit socks and attended to various kinds
of work, I was repeatedly told, when even fourteen years old, that I
would never be worth my salt. When I was eight, Mr. Burwell's family
consisted of six sons and four daughters, with a large family of
servants. My mother was kind and forbearing; Mrs. Burwell a hard
task-master; and as mother had so much work to do in making clothes,
etc., for the family, besides the slaves, I determined to render her all
the assistance in my power, and in rendering her such assistance my
young energies were taxed to the utmost. I was my mother's only child,
which made her love for me all the stronger. I did not know much of my
father, for he was the slave of another man, and when Mr. Burwell moved
from Dinwiddie he was separated from us, and only allowed to visit my
mother twice a year--during the Easter holidays and Christmas. At last
Mr. Burwell determined to reward my mother, by making an arrangement
with the owner of my father, by which the separation of my parents could
be brought to an end. It was a bright day, indeed, for my mother when it
was announced that my father was coming to live with us. The old weary
look faded from her face, and she worked as if her heart was in every
task. But the golden days did not last long. The radiant dream faded all
too soon.

In the morning my father called me to him and kissed me, then held me
out at arms' length as if he were regarding his child with pride. "She
is growing into a large fine girl," he remarked to my mother. "I dun no
which I like best, you or Lizzie, as both are so dear to me." My
mother's name was Agnes, and my father delighted to call me his "Little
Lizzie." While yet my father and mother were speaking hopefully,
joyfully of the future, Mr. Burwell came to the cabin, with a letter in
his hand. He was a kind master in some things, and as gently as possible
informed my parents that they must part; for in two hours my father must
join his master at Dinwiddie, and go with him to the West, where he had
determined to make his future home. The announcement fell upon the
little circle in that rude-log cabin like a thunderbolt. I can remember
the scene as if it were but yesterday;--how my father cried out against
the cruel separation; his last kiss; his wild straining of my mother to
his bosom; the solemn prayer to Heaven; the tears and sobs--the fearful
anguish of broken hearts. The last kiss, the last good-by; and he, my
father, was gone, gone forever. The shadow eclipsed the sunshine, and
love brought despair. The parting was eternal. The cloud had no silver
lining, but I trust that it will be all silver in heaven. We who are
crushed to earth with heavy chains, who travel a weary, rugged, thorny
road, groping through midnight darkness on earth, earn our right to
enjoy the sunshine in the great hereafter. At the grave, at least, we
should be permitted to lay our burdens down, that a new world, a world
of brightness, may open to us. The light that is denied us here should
grow into a flood of effulgence beyond the dark, mysterious shadows of
death. Deep as was the distress of my mother in parting with my father,
her sorrow did not screen her from insult. My old mistress said to her:
"Stop your nonsense; there is no necessity for you putting on airs. Your
husband is not the only slave that has been sold from his family, and
you are not the only one that has had to part. There are plenty more men
about here, and if you want a husband so badly, stop your crying and go
and find another." To these unfeeling words my mother made no reply. She
turned away in stoical silence, with a curl of that loathing scorn upon
her lips which swelled in her heart.

My father and mother never met again in this world. They kept up a
regular correspondence for years, and the most precious mementoes of my
existence are the faded old letters that he wrote, full of love, and
always hoping that the future would bring brighter days. In nearly every
letter is a message for me. "Tell my darling little Lizzie," he writes,
"to be a good girl, and to learn her book. Kiss her for me, and tell her
that I will come to see her some day." Thus he wrote time and again, but
he never came. He lived in hope, but died without ever seeing his wife
and child.

I note a few extracts from one of my father's letters to my mother,
following copy literally:

    "SHELBYVILE, Sept. 6, 1833.


    "Dear Wife: My dear biloved wife I am more than glad to meet
    with opportun[i]ty writee thes few lines to you by my
    Mistress who ar now about starterng to virginia, and sevl
    others of my old friends are with her; in compeney Mrs. Ann
    Rus the wife of master Thos Rus and Dan Woodiard and his
    family and I am very sorry that I havn the chance to go with
    them as I feele Determid to see you If life last again. I am
    now here and out at this pleace so I am not abble to get of
    at this time. I am write well and hearty and all the rest of
    masters family. I heard this eveng by Mistress that ar just
    from theree all sends love to you and all my old frends. I am
    a living in a town called Shelbyville and I have wrote a
    greate many letters since Ive beene here and almost been
    reeady to my selfe that its out of the question to write any
    more at tall: my dear wife I dont feeld no whys like giving
    out writing to you as yet and I hope when you get this letter
    that you be Inncougege to write me a letter. I am well
    satisfied at my living at this place I am a making money for
    my own benifit and I hope that its to yours also If I live to
    see Nexct year I shall heve my own time from master by giving
    him 100 and twenty Dollars a year and I thinke I shall be
    doing good bisness at that and heve something more thean all
    that. I hope with gods helpe that I may be abble to rejoys
    with you on the earth and In heaven lets meet when will I am
    detemnid to nuver stope praying, not in this earth and I hope
    to praise god In glory there weel meet to part no more
    forever. So my dear wife I hope to meet you In paradase to
    prase god forever * * * * * I want Elizabeth to be a good
    girl and not to thinke that becasue I am bound so fare that
    gods not abble to open the way * * * *

      "_Hobbs a servant of Grum_."

The last letter that my mother received from my father was dated
Shelbyville, Tennessee, March 20, 1839. He writes in a cheerful strain,
and hopes to see her soon. Alas! he looked forward to a meeting in vain.
Year after year the one great hope swelled in his heart, but the hope
was only realized beyond the dark portals of the grave.

When I was about seven years old I witnessed, for the first time, the
sale of a human being. We were living at Prince Edward, in Virginia, and
master had just purchased his hogs for the winter, for which he was
unable to pay in full. To escape from his embarrassment it was necessary
to sell one of the slaves. Little Joe, the son of the cook, was selected
as the victim. His mother was ordered to dress him up in his Sunday
clothes, and send him to the house. He came in with a bright face, was
placed in the scales, and was sold, like the hogs, at so much per pound.
His mother was kept in ignorance of the transaction, but her suspicions
were aroused. When her son started for Petersburgh in the wagon, the
truth began to dawn upon her mind, and she pleaded piteously that her
boy should not be taken from her; but master quieted her by telling her
that he was simply going to town with the wagon, and would be back in
the morning. Morning came, but little Joe did not return to his mother.
Morning after morning passed, and the mother went down to the grave
without ever seeing her child again. One day she was whipped for
grieving for her lost boy. Colonel Burwell never liked to see one of his
slaves wear a sorrowful face, and those who offended in this particular
way were always punished. Alas! the sunny face of the slave is not
always an indication of sunshine in the heart. Colonel Burwell at one
time owned about seventy slaves, all of which were sold, and in a
majority of instances wives were separated from husbands and children
from their parents. Slavery in the Border States forty years ago was
different from what it was twenty years ago. Time seemed to soften the
hearts of master and mistress, and to insure kinder and more humane
treatment to bondsmen and bondswomen. When I was quite a child, an
incident occurred which my mother afterward impressed more strongly on
my mind. One of my uncles, a slave of Colonel Burwell, lost a pair of
ploughlines, and when the loss was made known the master gave him a new
pair, and told him that if he did not take care of them he would punish
him severely. In a few weeks the second pair of lines was stolen, and my
uncle hung himself rather than meet the displeasure of his master. My
mother went to the spring in the morning for a pail of water, and on
looking up into the willow tree which shaded the bubbling crystal
stream, she discovered the lifeless form of her brother suspended
beneath one of the strong branches. Rather than be punished the way
Colonel Burwell punished his servants, he took his own life. Slavery had
its dark side as well as its bright side.



I must pass rapidly over the stirring events of my early life. When I
was about fourteen years old I went to live with my master's eldest son,
a Presbyterian minister. His salary was small, and he was burdened with
a helpless wife, a girl that he had married in the humble walks of life.
She was morbidly sensitive, and imagined that I regarded her with
contemptuous feelings because she was of poor parentage. I was their
only servant, and a gracious loan at that. They were not able to buy me,
so my old master sought to render them assistance by allowing them the
benefit of my services. From the very first I did the work of three
servants, and yet I was scolded and regarded with distrust. The years
passed slowly, and I continued to serve them, and at the same time grew
into strong, healthy womanhood. I was nearly eighteen when we removed
from Virginia to Hillsboro', North Carolina, where young Mr. Burwell
took charge of a church. The salary was small, and we still had to
practise the closest economy. Mr. Bingham, a hard, cruel man, the
village schoolmaster, was a member of my young master's church, and he
was a frequent visitor to the parsonage. She whom I called mistress
seemed to be desirous to wreak vengeance on me for something, and
Bingham became her ready tool. During this time my master was unusually
kind to me; he was naturally a good-hearted man, but was influenced by
his wife. It was Saturday evening, and while I was bending over the bed,
watching the baby that I had just hushed into slumber, Mr. Bingham came
to the door and asked me to go with him to his study. Wondering what he
meant by his strange request, I followed him, and when we had entered
the study he closed the door, and in his blunt way remarked: "Lizzie, I
am going to flog you." I was thunderstruck, and tried to think if I had
been remiss in anything. I could not recollect of doing anything to
deserve punishment, and with surprise exclaimed: "Whip me, Mr. Bingham!
what for?"

"No matter," he replied, "I am going to whip you, so take down your
dress this instant."

Recollect, I was eighteen years of age, was a woman fully developed, and
yet this man coolly bade me take down my dress. I drew myself up
proudly, firmly, and said: "No, Mr. Bingham, I shall not take down my
dress before you. Moreover, you shall not whip me unless you prove the
stronger. Nobody has a right to whip me but my own master, and nobody
shall do so if I can prevent it."

My words seemed to exasperate him. He seized a rope, caught me roughly,
and tried to tie me. I resisted with all my strength, but he was the
stronger of the two, and after a hard struggle succeeded in binding my
hands and tearing my dress from my back. Then he picked up a rawhide,
and began to ply it freely over my shoulders. With steady hand and
practised eye he would raise the instrument of torture, nerve himself
for a blow, and with fearful force the rawhide descended upon the
quivering flesh. It cut the skin, raised great welts, and the warm blood
trickled down my back. Oh God! I can feel the torture now--the terrible,
excruciating agony of those moments. I did not scream; I was too proud
to let my tormentor know what I was suffering. I closed my lips firmly,
that not even a groan might escape from them, and I stood like a statue
while the keen lash cut deep into my flesh. As soon as I was released,
stunned with pain, bruised and bleeding, I went home and rushed into the
presence of the pastor and his wife, wildly exclaiming: "Master Robert,
why did you let Mr. Bingham flog me? What have I done that I should be
so punished?"

"Go away," he gruffly answered, "do not bother me."

I would not be put off thus. "What _have_ I done? I _will_ know why I
have been flogged."

I saw his cheeks flush with anger, but I did not move. He rose to his
feet, and on my refusing to go without an explanation, seized a chair,
struck me, and felled me to the floor. I rose, bewildered, almost dead
with pain, crept to my room, dressed my bruised arms and back as best I
could, and then lay down, but not to sleep. No, I could not sleep, for I
was suffering mental as well as bodily torture. My spirit rebelled
against the unjustness that had been inflicted upon me, and though I
tried to smother my anger and to forgive those who had been so cruel to
me, it was impossible. The next morning I was more calm, and I believe
that I could then have forgiven everything for the sake of one kind
word. But the kind word was not proffered, and it may be possible that I
grew somewhat wayward and sullen. Though I had faults, I know now, as I
felt then, harshness was the poorest inducement for the correction of
them. It seems that Mr. Bingham had pledged himself to Mrs. Burwell to
subdue what he called my "stubborn pride." On Friday following the
Saturday on which I was so savagely beaten, Mr. Bingham again directed
me come to his study. I went, but with the determination to offer
resistance should he attempt to flog me again. On entering the room I
found him prepared with a new rope and a new cowhide. I told him that I
was ready to die, but that he could not conquer me. In struggling with
him I bit his finger severely, when he seized a heavy stick and beat me
with it in a shameful manner. Again I went home sore and bleeding, but
with pride as strong and defiant as ever. The following Thursday Mr.
Bingham again tried to conquer me, but in vain. We struggled, and he
struck me many savage blows. As I stood bleeding before him, nearly
exhausted with his efforts, he burst into tears, and declared that it
would be a sin to beat me any more. My suffering at last subdued his
hard heart; he asked my forgiveness, and afterwards was an altered man.
He was never known to strike one of his servants from that day forward.
Mr. Burwell, he who preached the love of Heaven, who glorified the
precepts and examples of Christ, who expounded the Holy Scriptures
Sabbath after Sabbath from the pulpit, when Mr. Bingham refused to whip
me any more, was urged by his wife to punish me himself. One morning he
went to the wood-pile, took an oak broom, cut the handle off, and with
this heavy handle attempted to conquer me. I fought him, but he proved
the strongest. At the sight of my bleeding form, his wife fell upon her
knees and begged him to desist. My distress even touched her cold,
jealous heart. I was so badly bruised that I was unable to leave my bed
for five days. I will not dwell upon the bitter anguish of these hours,
for even the thought of them now makes me shudder. The Rev. Mr. Burwell
was not yet satisfied. He resolved to make another attempt to subdue my
proud, rebellious spirit--made the attempt and again failed, when he
told me, with an air of penitence, that he should never strike me
another blow; and faithfully he kept his word. These revolting scenes
created a great sensation at the time, were the talk of the town and
neighborhood, and I flatter myself that the actions of those who had
conspired against me were not viewed in a light to reflect much credit
upon them.

The savage efforts to subdue my pride were not the only things that
brought me suffering and deep mortification during my residence at
Hillsboro'. I was regarded as fair-looking for one of my race, and for
four years a white man--I spare the world his name--had base designs
upon me. I do not care to dwell upon this subject, for it is one that is
fraught with pain. Suffice it to say, that he persecuted me for four
years, and I--I--became a mother. The child of which he was the father
was the only child that I ever brought into the world. If my poor boy
ever suffered any humiliating pangs on account of birth, he could not
blame his mother, for God knows that she did not wish to give him life;
he must blame the edicts of that society which deemed it no crime to
undermine the virtue of girls in my then position.

Among the old letters preserved by my mother I find the following,
written by myself while at Hillsboro'. In this connection I desire to
state that Rev. Robert Burwell is now living[A] at Charlotte, North

    "HILLSBORO', April 10, 1838.

    "MY DEAR MOTHER:--I have been intending to write to you for a
    long time, but numerous things have prevented, and for that
    reason you must excuse me.

    "I thought very hard of you for not writing to me, but hope
    that you will answer this letter as soon as you receive it,
    and tell me how you like Marsfield, and if you have seen any
    of old acquaintances, or if you yet know any of the
    brick-house people who I think so much of. I want to hear of
    the family at home very much, indeed. I really believe you
    and all the family have forgotten me, if not I certainly
    should have heard from some of you since you left Boyton, if
    it was only a line; nevertheless I love you all very dearly,
    and shall, although I may never see you again, nor do I ever
    expect to. Miss Anna is going to Petersburgh next winter, but
    she says that she does not intend take me; what reason she
    has for leaving me I cannot tell. I have often wished that I
    lived where I knew I never could see you, for then I would
    not have my hopes raised, and to be disappointed in this
    manner; however, it is said that a bad beginning makes a good
    ending, but I hardly expect to see that happy day at this
    place. Give my love to all the family, both white and black.
    I was very much obliged to you for the presents you sent me
    last summer, though it is quite late in the day to be
    thanking for them. Tell Aunt Bella that I was very much
    obliged to her for her present; I have been so particular
    with it that I have only worn it once.

    "There have been six weddings since October; the most
    respectable one was about a fortnight ago; I was asked to be
    the first attendant, but, as usual with all my expectations,
    I was disappointed, for on the wedding-day I felt more like
    being locked up in a three-cornered box than attending a
    wedding. About a week before Christmas I was bridesmaid for
    Ann Nash; when the night came I was in quite a trouble; I did
    not know whether my frock was clean or dirty; I only had a
    week's notice, and the body and sleeves to make, and only one
    hour every night to work on it, so you can see with these
    troubles to overcome my chance was rather slim. I must now
    close, although I could fill ten pages with my griefs and
    misfortunes; no tongue could express them as I feel; don't
    forget me though; and answer my letters soon. I will write
    you again, and would write more now, but Miss Anna says it is
    time I had finished. Tell Miss Elizabeth that I wish she
    would make haste and get married, for mistress says that I
    belong to her when she gets married.

    "I wish you would send me a pretty frock this summer; if you
    will send it to Mrs. Robertson's Miss Bet will send it to me.

    "Farewell, darling mother.

      "Your affectionate daughter,

[Footnote A: March, 1868.]



The years passed and brought many changes to me, but on these I will not
dwell, as I wish to hasten to the most interesting part of my story. My
troubles in North Carolina were brought to an end by my unexpected
return to Virginia, where I lived with Mr. Garland, who had married Miss
Ann[e] Burwell, one of my old master's daughters. His life was not a
prosperous one, and after struggling with the world for several years he
left his native State, a disappointed man. He moved to St. Louis, hoping
to improve his fortune in the West; but ill luck followed him there, and
he seemed to be unable to escape from the influence of the evil star of
his destiny. When his family, myself included, joined him in his new
home on the banks of the Mississippi, we found him so poor that he was
unable to pay the dues on a letter advertised as in the post-office for
him. The necessities of the family were so great, that it was proposed
to place my mother out at service. The idea was shocking to me. Every
gray hair in her old head was dear to me, and I could not bear the
thought of her going to work for strangers. She had been raised in the
family, had watched the growth of each child from infancy to maturity;
they had been the objects of her kindest care, and she was wound round
about them as the vine winds itself about the rugged oak. They had been
the central figures in her dream of life--a dream beautiful to her,
since she had basked in the sunshine of no other. And now they proposed
to destroy each tendril of affection, to cloud the sunshine of her
existence when the day was drawing to a close, when the shadows of
solemn night were rapidly approaching. My mother, my poor aged mother,
go among strangers to toil for a living! No, a thousand times no! I
would rather work my fingers to the bone, bend over my sewing till the
film of blindness gathered in my eyes; nay, even beg from street to
street. I told Mr. Garland so, and he gave me permission to see what I
could do. I was fortunate in obtaining work, and in a short time I had
acquired something of a reputation as a seamstress and dress-maker. The
best ladies in St. Louis were my patrons, and when my reputation was
once established I never lacked for orders. With my needle I kept bread
in the mouths of seventeen persons for two years and five months. While
I was working so hard that others might live in comparative comfort, and
move in those circles of society to which their birth gave them
entrance, the thought often occurred to me whether I was really worth my
salt or not; and then perhaps the lips curled with a bitter sneer. It
may seem strange that I should place so much emphasis upon words
thoughtlessly, idly spoken; but then we do many strange things in life,
and cannot always explain the motives that actuate us. The heavy task
was too much for me, and my health began to give way. About this time
Mr. Keckley, whom I had met in Virginia, and learned to regard with more
than friendship, came to St. Louis. He sought my hand in marriage, and
for a long time I refused to consider his proposal; for I could not bear
the thought of bringing children into slavery--of adding one single
recruit to the millions bound to hopeless servitude, fettered and
shackled with chains stronger and heavier than manacles of iron. I made
a proposition to buy myself and son; the proposition was bluntly
declined, and I was commanded never to broach the subject again. I would
not be put off thus, for hope pointed to a freer, brighter life in the
future. Why should my son be held in slavery? I often asked myself. He
came into the world through no will of mine, and yet, God only knows how
I loved him. The Anglo-Saxon blood as well as the African flowed in his
veins; the two currents commingled--one singing of freedom, the other
silent and sullen with generations of despair. Why should not the
Anglo-Saxon triumph--why should it be weighed down with the rich blood
typical of the tropics? Must the life-current of one race bind the other
race in chains as strong and enduring as if there had been no
Anglo-Saxon taint? By the laws of God and nature, as interpreted by
man, one-half of my boy was free, and why should not this fair
birthright of freedom remove the curse from the other half--raise it
into the bright, joyous sunshine of liberty? I could not answer these
questions of my heart that almost maddened me, and I learned to regard
human philosophy with distrust. Much as I respected the authority of my
master, I could not remain silent on a subject that so nearly concerned
me. One day, when I insisted on knowing whether he would permit me to
purchase myself, and what price I must pay for myself, he turned to me
in a petulant manner, thrust his hand into his pocket, drew forth a
bright silver quarter of a dollar, and proffering it to me, said:

"Lizzie, I have told you often not to trouble me with such a question.
If you really wish to leave me, take this: it will pay the passage of
yourself and boy on the ferry-boat, and when you are on the other side
of the river you will be free. It is the cheapest way that I know of to
accomplish what you desire."

I looked at him in astonishment, and earnestly replied: "No, master, I
do not wish to be free in such a manner. If such had been my wish, I
should never have troubled you about obtaining your consent to my
purchasing myself. I can cross the river any day, as you well know, and
have frequently done so, but will never leave you in such a manner. By
the laws of the land I am your slave--you are my master, and I will only
be free by such means as the laws of the country provide." He expected
this answer, and I knew that he was pleased. Some time afterwards he
told me that he had reconsidered the question; that I had served his
family faithfully; that I deserved my freedom, and that he would take
$1200 for myself and boy.

This was joyful intelligence for me, and the reflection of hope gave a
silver lining to the dark cloud of my life--faint, it is true, but still
a silver lining.

Taking a prospective glance at liberty, I consented to marry. The
wedding was a great event in the family. The ceremony took place in the
parlor, in the presence of the family and a number of guests. Mr.
Garland gave me away, and the pastor, Bishop Hawks, performed the
ceremony, who had solemnized the bridals of Mr. G.'s own children. The
day was a happy one, but it faded all too soon. Mr. Keckley--let me
speak kindly of his faults--proved dissipated, and a burden instead of a
help-mate. More than all, I learned that he was a slave instead of a
free man, as he represented himself to be. With the simple explanation
that I lived with him eight years, let charity draw around him the
mantle of silence.

I went to work in earnest to purchase my freedom, but the years passed,
and I was still a slave. Mr. Garland's family claimed so much of my
attention--in fact, I supported them--that I was not able to accumulate
anything. In the mean time Mr. Garland died, and Mr. Burwell, a
Mississippi planter, came to St. Louis to settle up the estate. He was a
kind-hearted man, and said I should be free, and would afford me every
facility to raise the necessary amount to pay the price of my liberty.
Several schemes were urged upon me by my friends. At last I formed a
resolution to go to New York, state my case, and appeal to the
benevolence of the people. The plan seemed feasible, and I made
preparations to carry it out. When I was almost ready to turn my face
northward, Mrs. Garland told me that she would require the names of six
gentlemen who would vouch for my return, and become responsible for the
amount at which I was valued. I had many friends in St. Louis, and as I
believed that they had confidence in me, I felt that I could readily
obtain the names desired. I started out, stated my case, and obtained
five signatures to the paper, and my heart throbbed with pleasure, for I
did not believe that the sixth would refuse me. I called, he listened
patiently, then remarked:

"Yes, yes, Lizzie; the scheme is a fair one, and you shall have my name.
But I shall bid you good-by when you start."

"Good-by for a short time," I ventured to add.

"No, good-by for all time," and he looked at me as if he would read my
very soul with his eyes.

I was startled. "What do you mean, Mr. Farrow? Surely you do not think
that I do not mean to come back?"


"No, what then?"

"Simply this: you _mean_ to come back, that is, you _mean_ so _now_, but
you never will. When you reach New York the abolitionists will tell you
what savages we are, and they will prevail on you to stay there; and we
shall never see you again."

"But I assure you, Mr. Farrow, you are mistaken. I not only _mean_ to
come back, but _will_ come back, and pay every cent of the twelve
hundred dollars for myself and child."

I was beginning to feel sick at heart, for I could not accept the
signature of this man when he had no faith in my pledges. No; slavery,
eternal slavery rather than be regarded with distrust by those whose
respect I esteemed.

"But--I am not mistaken," he persisted. "Time will show. When you start
for the North I shall bid you good-by."

The heart grew heavy. Every ray of sunshine was eclipsed. With humbled
pride, weary step, tearful face, and a dull, aching pain, I left the
house. I walked along the street mechanically. The cloud had no silver
lining now. The rosebuds of hope had withered and died without lifting
up their heads to receive the dew kiss of morning. There was no morning
for me--all was night, dark night.

I reached my own home, and weeping threw myself upon the bed. My trunk
was packed, my luncheon was prepared by mother, the cars were ready to
bear me where I would not hear the clank of chains, where I would
breathe the free, invigorating breezes of the glorious North. I had
dreamed such a happy dream, in imagination had drunk of the water, the
pure, sweet crystal water of life, but now--now--the flowers had
withered before my eyes; darkness had settled down upon me like a pall,
and I was left alone with cruel mocking shadows.

The first paroxysm of grief was scarcely over, when a carriage stopped
in front of the house; Mrs. Le Bourgois, one of my kind patrons, got out
of it and entered the door. She seemed to bring sunshine with her
handsome cheery face. She came to where I was, and in her sweet way

"Lizzie, I hear that you are going to New York to beg for money to buy
your freedom. I have been thinking over the matter, and told Ma it would
be a shame to allow you to go North to _beg_ for what we should _give_
you. You have many friends in St. Louis, and I am going to raise the
twelve hundred dollars required among them. I have two hundred dollars
put away for a present; am indebted to you one hundred dollars; mother
owes you fifty dollars, and will add another fifty to it; and as I do
not want the present, I will make the money a present to you. Don't
start for New York now until I see what I can do among your friends."

Like a ray of sunshine she came, and like a ray of sunshine she went
away. The flowers no longer were withered, drooping. Again they seemed
to bud and grow in fragrance and beauty. Mrs. Le Bourgois, God bless her
dear good heart, was more than successful. The twelve hundred dollars
were raised, and at last my son and myself were free. Free, free! what a
glorious ring to the word. Free! the bitter heart-struggle was over.
Free! the soul could go out to heaven and to God with no chains to clog
its flight or pull it down. Free! the earth wore a brighter look, and
the very stars seemed to sing with joy. Yes, free! free by the laws of
man and the smile of God--and Heaven bless them who made me so!

The following, copied from the original papers, contain, in brief, the
history of my emancipation:--

    "I promise to give Lizzie and her son George their freedom,
    on the payment of $1200.


    "June 27, 1855."

    "LIZZY:--I send you this note to sign for the sum of $75, and
    when I give you the whole amount you will then sign the other
    note for $100.

      "ELLEN M. DOAN.

    "In the paper you will find $25; see it is all right before
    the girl leaves."

    "I have received of Lizzy Keckley $950, which I have
    deposited with Darby & Barksdale for her--$600 on the 21st
    July, $300 on the 27th and 28th of July, and $50 on 13th
    August, 1855.

    "I have and shall make use of said money for Lizzy's benefit,
    and hereby guarantee to her one per cent. per month--as much
    more as can be made she shall have. The one per cent., as it
    may be checked out, I will be responsible for myself, as well
    as for the whole amount, when it shall be needed by her.


    "ST. LOUIS, 13th August, 1855."

    "Know all men by these presents, that for and in
    consideration of the love and affection we bear towards our
    sister, Anne P. Garland, of St. Louis, Missouri, and for the
    further consideration of $5 in hand paid, we hereby sell and
    convey unto her, the said Anne P. Garland, a negro woman
    named Lizzie, and a negro boy, her son, named George; said
    Lizzie now resides at St. Louis, and is a seamstress, known
    there as Lizzie Garland, the wife of a yellow man named
    James, and called James Keckley; said George is a bright
    mulatto boy, and is known in St. Louis as Garland's George.
    We warrant these two slaves to be slaves for life, but make
    no representations as to age or health.

    "Witness our hands and seals, this 10th day of August, 1855.

      "JAS. R. PUTNAM, [L.S.]
      "E. M. PUTNAM, [L.S.]
      "A. BURWELL, [L.S.]"


    "Be it remembered, that on the tenth day of August, in the
    year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five,
    before me, Francis N. Steele, a Commissioner, resident in the
    city of Vicksburg, duly commissioned and qualified by the
    executive authority, and under the laws of the State of
    Missouri, to take the acknowledgment of deeds, etc., to be
    used or recorded therein, personally appeared James R. Putnam
    and E. M. Putnam, his wife, and Armistead Burwell, to me
    known to be the individuals named in, and who executed the
    foregoing conveyance, and acknowledged that they executed the
    same for the purposes therein mentioned; and the E. M. Putnam
    being by me examined apart from her husband, and being fully
    acquainted with the contents of the foregoing conveyance,
    acknowledged that she executed the same freely, and
    relinquished her dower, and any other claim she might have in
    and to the property therein mentioned, freely, and without
    fear, compulsion, or undue influence of her said husband.

    "In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed
    my official seal, this 10th day of August, A.D. 1855.

      [L.S.] "F. N. STEELE,
      "_Commissioner for Missouri_."

    "Know all men that I, Anne P. Garland, of the County and City
    of St. Louis, State of Missouri, for and in consideration of
    the sum of $1200, to me in hand paid this day in cash, hereby
    emancipate my negro woman Lizzie, and her son George; the
    said Lizzie is known in St. Louis as the wife of James, who
    is called James Keckley; is of light complexion, about 37
    years of age, by trade a dress-maker, and called by those who
    know her Garland's Lizzie. The said boy, George, is the only
    child of Lizzie, is about 16 years of age, and is almost
    white, and called by those who know him Garland's George.

    "Witness my hand and seal, this 13th day of November, 1855.

      "ANNE P. GARLAND, [L.S.]
      "Witness:--JOHN WICKHAM,
          "WILLIS L. WILLIAMS."

    _In St. Louis Circuit Court, October Term, 1855. November 15,

    "Be it remembered, that on this fifteenth day of November,
    eighteen hundred and fifty-five, in open court came John
    Wickham and Willis L. Williams, these two subscribing
    witnesses, examined under oath to that effect, proved the
    execution and acknowledgment of said deed by Anne P. Garland
    to Lizzie and her son George, which said proof of
    acknowledgment is entered on the record of the court of that

    "In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and affix the seal
    of said court, at office in the City of St. Louis, the day
    and year last aforesaid.

      [L.S.] "WM. J. HAMMOND, _Clerk_."


    "I, Wm. J. Hammond, Clerk of the Circuit Court within and for
    the county aforesaid, certify the foregoing to be a true copy
    of a deed of emancipation from Anne P. Garland to Lizzie and
    her son George, as fully as the same remain in my office.

    "In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and affix the seal
    of said court, at office in the City of St. Louis, this
    fifteenth day of November, 1855.

      "WM. J. HAMMOND, _Clerk_.
      "By WM. A. PENNINGTON, D.C."


    "I, the undersigned Recorder of said county, certify that the
    foregoing instrument of writing was filed for record in my
    office on the 14th day of November, 1855; it is truly
    recorded in Book No. 169, page 288.

    "Witness my hand and official seal, date last aforesaid.

      [L.S.] "C. KEEMLE, _Recorder_."



The twelve hundred dollars with which I purchased the freedom of myself
and son I consented to accept only as a loan. I went to work in earnest,
and in a short time paid every cent that was so kindly advanced by my
lady patrons of St. Louis. All this time my husband was a source of
trouble to me, and a burden. Too close occupation with my needle had its
effects upon my health, and feeling exhausted with work, I determined to
make a change. I had a conversation with Mr. Keckley; informed him that
since he persisted in dissipation we must separate; that I was going
North, and that I should never live with him again, at least until I had
good evidence of his reform. He was rapidly debasing himself, and
although I was willing to work for him, I was not willing to share his
degradation. Poor man; he had his faults, but over these faults death
has drawn a veil. My husband is now sleeping in his grave, and in the
silent grave I would bury all unpleasant memories of him.

I left St. Louis in the spring of 1860, taking the cars direct for
Baltimore, where I stopped six weeks, attempting to realize a sum of
money by forming classes of young colored women, and teaching them my
system of cutting and fitting dresses. The scheme was not successful,
for after six weeks of labor and vexation, I left Baltimore with
scarcely money enough to pay my fare to Washington. Arriving in the
capital, I sought and obtained work at two dollars and a half per day.
However, as I was notified that I could only remain in the city ten days
without obtaining a license to do so, such being the law, and as I did
not know whom to apply to for assistance, I was sorely troubled. I also
had to have some one vouch to the authorities that I was a free woman.
My means were too scanty, and my profession too precarious to warrant my
purchasing [a] license. In my perplexity I called on a lady for whom I
was sewing, Miss Ringold, a member of Gen. Mason's family, from
Virginia. I stated my case, and she kindly volunteered to render me all
the assistance in her power. She called on Mayor Burritt with me, and
Miss Ringold succeeded in making an arrangement for me to remain in
Washington without paying the sum required for a license; moreover, I
was not to be molested. I rented apartments in a good locality, and soon
had a good run of custom. The summer passed, winter came, and I was
still in Washington. Mrs. Davis, wife of Senator Jefferson Davis, came
from the South in November of 1860, with her husband. Learning that Mrs.
Davis wanted a modiste, I presented myself, and was employed by her on
the recommendation of one of my patrons and her intimate friend, Mrs.
Captain Hetsill. I went to the house to work, but finding that they were
such late risers, and as I had to fit many dresses on Mrs. Davis, I told
her that I should prefer giving half the day to her, working the other
in my own room for some of my other lady patrons. Mrs. D. consented to
the proposition, and it was arranged that I should come to her own house
every day after 12 M. It was the winter before the breaking out of that
fierce and bloody war between the two sections of the country; and as
Mr. Davis occupied a leading position, his house was the resort of
politicians and statesmen from the South. Almost every night, as I
learned from the servants and other members of the family, secret
meetings were held at the house; and some of these meetings were
protracted to a very late hour. The prospects of war were freely
discussed in my presence by Mr. and Mrs. Davis and their friends. The
holidays were approaching, and Mrs. Davis kept me busy in manufacturing
articles of dress for herself and children. She desired to present Mr.
Davis on Christmas with a handsome dressing-gown. The material was
purchased, and for weeks the work had been under way. Christmas eve
came, and the gown had been laid aside so often that it was still
unfinished. I saw that Mrs. D. was anxious to have it completed, so I
volunteered to remain and work on it. Wearily the hours dragged on, but
there was no rest for my busy fingers. I persevered in my task,
notwithstanding my head was aching. Mrs. Davis was busy in the adjoining
room, arranging the Christmas tree for the children. I looked at the
clock, and the hands pointed to a quarter of twelve. I was arranging the
cords on the gown when the Senator came in; he looked somewhat careworn,
and his step seemed to be a little nervous. He leaned against the door,
and expressed his admiration of the Christmas tree, but there was no
smile on his face. Turning round, he saw me sitting in the adjoining
room, and quickly exclaimed:

"That you, Lizzie! why are you here so late? Still at work; I hope that
Mrs. Davis is not too exacting!"

"No, sir," I answered. "Mrs. Davis was very anxious to have this gown
finished to-night, and I volunteered to remain and complete it."

"Well, well, the case must be urgent," and he came slowly towards me,
took the gown in his hand, and asked the color of the silk, as he said
the gas-light was so deceptive to his old eyes.

"It is a drab changeable silk, Mr. Davis," I answered; and might have
added that it was rich and handsome, but did not, well knowing that he
would make the discovery in the morning.

He smiled curiously, but turned and walked from the room without another
question. He inferred that the gown was for him, that it was to be the
Christmas present from his wife, and he did not wish to destroy the
pleasure that she would experience in believing that the gift would
prove a surprise. In this respect, as in many others, he always appeared
to me as a thoughtful, considerate man in the domestic circle. As the
clock struck twelve I finished the gown, little dreaming of the future
that was before it. It was worn, I have not the shadow of a doubt, by
Mr. Davis during the stormy years that he was the President of the
Confederate States.

The holidays passed, and before the close of January the war was
discussed in Mr. Davis's family as an event certain to happen in the
future. Mrs. Davis was warmly attached to Washington, and I often heard
her say that she disliked the idea of breaking up old associations, and
going South to suffer from trouble and deprivation. One day, while
discussing the question in my presence with one of her intimate
friends, she exclaimed: "I would rather remain in Washington and be
kicked about, than go South and be Mrs. President." Her friend expressed
surprise at the remark, and Mrs. Davis insisted that the opinion was an
honest one.

While dressing her one day, she said to me: "Lizzie, you are so very
handy that I should like to take you South with me."

"When do you go South, Mrs. Davis?" I inquired.

"Oh, I cannot tell just now, but it will be soon. You know there is
going to be war, Lizzie?"


"But I tell you yes."

"Who will go to war?" I asked.

"The North and South," was her ready reply. "The Southern people will
not submit to the humiliating demands of the Abolition party; they will
fight first."

"And which do you think will whip?"

"The South, of course. The South is impulsive, is in earnest, and the
Southern soldiers will fight to conquer. The North will yield, when it
sees the South is in earnest, rather than engage in a long and bloody

"But, Mrs. Davis, are you certain that there will be war?"

"Certain!--I know it. You had better go South with me; I will take good
care of you. Besides, when the war breaks out, the colored people will
suffer in the North. The Northern people will look upon them as the
cause of the war, and I fear, in their exasperation, will be inclined to
treat you harshly. Then, I may come back to Washington in a few months,
and live in the White House. The Southern people talk of choosing Mr.
Davis for their President. In fact, it may be considered settled that he
will be their President. As soon as we go South and secede from the
other States, we will raise an army and march on Washington, and then I
shall live in the White House."

I was bewildered with what I heard. I had served Mrs. Davis faithfully,
and she had learned to place the greatest confidence in me. At first I
was almost tempted to go South with her, for her reasoning seemed
plausible. At the time the conversation was closed, with my promise to
consider the question.

I thought over the question much, and the more I thought the less
inclined I felt to accept the proposition so kindly made by Mrs. Davis.
I knew the North to be strong, and believed that the people would fight
for the flag that they pretended to venerate so highly. The Republican
party had just emerged from a heated campaign, flushed with victory, and
I could not think that the hosts composing the party would quietly yield
all they had gained in the Presidential canvass. A show of war from the
South, I felt, would lead to actual war in the North; and with the two
sections bitterly arrayed against each other, I preferred to cast my lot
among the people of the North.

I parted with Mrs. Davis kindly, half promising to join her in the South
if further deliberation should induce me to change my views. A few weeks
before she left Washington I made two chintz wrappers for her. She said
that she must give up expensive dressing for a while; and that she, with
the Southern people, now that war was imminent, must learn to practise
lessons of economy. She left some fine needle-work in my hands, which I
finished, and forwarded to her at Montgomery, Alabama, in the month of
June, through the assistance of Mrs. Emory, one of her oldest and best

Since bidding them good-by at Washington, early in the year 1860, I have
never met any of the Davis family. Years of excitement, years of
bloodshed, and hundreds of thousands of graves intervene between the
months I spent in the family and now. The years have brought many
changes; and in view of these terrible changes even I, who was once a
slave, who have been punished with the cruel lash, who have experienced
the heart and soul tortures of a slave's life, can say to Mr. Jefferson
Davis, "Peace! you have suffered! Go in peace."

In the winter of 1865 I was in Chicago, and one day visited the great
charity fair held for the benefit of the families of those soldiers who
were killed or wounded during the war. In one part of the building was a
wax figure of Jefferson Davis, wearing over his other garments the dress
in which it was reported that he was captured. There was always a great
crowd around this figure, and I was naturally attracted towards it. I
worked my way to the figure, and in examining the dress made the
pleasing discovery that it was one of the chintz wrappers that I had
made for Mrs. Davis, a short time before she departed from Washington
for the South. When it was announced that I recognized the dress as one
that I had made for the wife of the late Confederate President there was
great cheering and excitement, and I at once became the object of the
deepest curiosity. Great crowds followed me, and in order to escape from
the embarrassing situation I left the building.

I believe it now is pretty well established that Mr. Davis had on a
water-proof cloak instead of a dress, as first reported, when he was
captured. This does not invalidate any portion of my story. The dress on
the wax figure at the fair in Chicago unquestionably was one of the
chintz wrappers that I made for Mrs. Davis in January, 1860, in
Washington; and I infer, since it was not found on the body of the
fugitive President of the South, it was taken from the trunks of Mrs.
Davis, captured at the same time. Be this as it may, the coincidence is
none the less striking and curious.



Ever since arriving in Washington I had a great desire to work for the
ladies of the White House, and to accomplish this end I was ready to
make almost any sacrifice consistent with propriety. Work came in
slowly, and I was beginning to feel very much embarrassed, for I did not
know how I was to meet the bills staring me in the face. It is true, the
bills were small, but then they were formidable to me, who had little or
nothing to pay them with. While in this situation I called at the
Ringolds, where I met Mrs. Captain Lee. Mrs. L. was in a state bordering
on excitement, as the great event of the season, the dinner-party given
in honor of the Prince of Wales, was soon to come off, and she must have
a dress suitable for the occasion. The silk had been purchased, but a
dress-maker had not yet been found. Miss Ringold recommended me, and I
received the order to make the dress. When I called on Mrs. Lee the next
day, her husband was in the room, and handing me a roll of bank bills,
amounting to one hundred dollars, he requested me to purchase the
trimmings, and to spare no expense in making a selection. With the money
in my pocket I went out in the street, entered the store of Harper &
Mitchell, and asked to look at their laces. Mr. Harper waited on me
himself, and was polite and kind. When I asked permission to carry the
laces to Mrs. Lee, in order to learn whether she could approve my
selection or not, he gave a ready assent. When I reminded him that I was
a stranger, and that the goods were valuable, he remarked that he was
not afraid to trust me--that he believed my face was the index to an
honest heart. It was pleasant to be spoken to thus, and I shall never
forget the kind words of Mr. Harper. I often recall them, for they are
associated with the dawn of a brighter period in my dark life. I
purchased the trimmings, and Mr. Harper allowed me a commission of
twenty-five dollars on the purchase. The dress was done in time, and it
gave complete satisfaction. Mrs. Lee attracted great attention at the
dinner-party, and her elegant dress proved a good card for me. I
received numerous orders, and was relieved from all pecuniary
embarrassments. One of my patrons was Mrs. Gen. McClean, a daughter of
Gen. Sumner. One day when I was very busy, Mrs. McC. drove up to my
apartments, came in where I was engaged with my needle, and in her
emphatic way said:

"Lizzie, I am invited to dine at Willard's on next Sunday, and
positively I have not a dress fit to wear on the occasion. I have just
purchased material, and you must commence work on it right away."

"But Mrs. McClean," I replied, "I have more work now promised than I can
do. It is impossible for me to make a dress for you to wear on Sunday

"Pshaw! Nothing is impossible. I must have the dress made by Sunday;"
and she spoke with some impatience.

"I am sorry," I began, but she interrupted me.

"Now don't say no again. I tell you that you must make the dress. I have
often heard you say that you would like to work for the ladies of the
White House. Well, I have it in my power to obtain you this privilege. I
know Mrs. Lincoln well, and you shall make a dress for her provided you
finish mine in time to wear at dinner on Sunday."

The inducement was the best that could have been offered. I would
undertake the dress if I should have to sit up all night--every night,
to make my pledge good. I sent out and employed assistants, and, after
much worry and trouble, the dress was completed to the satisfaction of
Mrs. McClean. It appears that Mrs. Lincoln had upset a cup of coffee on
the dress she designed wearing on the evening of the reception after the
inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, which
rendered it necessary that she should have a new one for the occasion.
On asking Mrs. McClean who her dress-maker was, that lady promptly
informed her,

"Lizzie Keckley."

"Lizzie Keckley? The name is familiar to me. She used to work for some
of my lady friends in St. Louis, and they spoke well of her. Can you
recommend her to me?"

"With confidence. Shall I send her to you?"

"If you please. I shall feel under many obligations for your kindness."

The next Sunday Mrs. McClean sent me a message to call at her house at
four o'clock P.M., that day. As she did not state why I was to call, I
determined to wait till Monday morning. Monday morning came, and nine
o'clock found me at Mrs. McC.'s house. The streets of the capital were
thronged with people, for this was Inauguration day. A new President, a
man of the people from the broad prairies of the West, was to accept the
solemn oath of office, was to assume the responsibilities attached to
the high position of Chief Magistrate of the United States. Never was
such deep interest felt in the inauguration proceedings as was felt
today; for threats of assassination had been made, and every breeze from
the South came heavily laden with the rumors of war. Around Willard's
hotel swayed an excited crowd, and it was with the utmost difficulty
that I worked my way to the house on the opposite side of the street,
occupied by the McCleans. Mrs. McClean was out, but presently an aide on
General McClean's staff called, and informed me that I was wanted at
Willard's. I crossed the street, and on entering the hotel was met by
Mrs. McClean, who greeted me:

"Lizzie, why did you not come yesterday, as I requested? Mrs. Lincoln
wanted to see you, but I fear that now you are too late."

"I am sorry, Mrs. McClean. You did not say what you wanted with me
yesterday, so I judged that this morning would do as well."

"You should have come yesterday," she insisted. "Go up to Mrs. Lincoln's
room"--giving me the number--"she may find use for you yet."

With a nervous step I passed on, and knocked at Mrs. Lincoln's door. A
cheery voice bade me come in, and a lady, inclined to stoutness, about
forty years of age, stood before me.

"You are Lizzie Keckley, I believe."

I bowed assent.

"The dress-maker that Mrs. McClean recommended?"

"Yes, madam."

"Very well; I have not time to talk to you now, but would like to have
you call at the White House, at eight o'clock to-morrow morning, where I
shall then be."

I bowed myself out of the room, and returned to my apartments. The day
passed slowly, for I could not help but speculate in relation to the
appointed interview for the morrow. My long-cherished hope was about to
be realized, and I could not rest.

Tuesday morning, at eight o'clock, I crossed the threshold of the White
House for the first time. I was shown into a waiting-room, and informed
that Mrs. Lincoln was at breakfast. In the waiting-room I found no less
than three mantua-makers waiting for an interview with the wife of the
new President. It seems that Mrs. Lincoln had told several of her lady
friends that she had urgent need for a dress-maker, and that each of
these friends had sent her mantua-maker to the White House. Hope fell at
once. With so many rivals for the position sought after, I regarded my
chances for success as extremely doubtful. I was the last one summoned
to Mrs. Lincoln's presence. All the others had a hearing, and were
dismissed. I went up-stairs timidly, and entering the room with nervous
step, discovered the wife of the President standing by a window, looking
out, and engaged in lively conversation with a lady, Mrs. Grimsly, as I
afterwards learned. Mrs. L. came forward, and greeted me warmly.

"You have come at last. Mrs. Keckley, who have you worked for in the

"Among others, Mrs. Senator Davis has been one of my best patrons," was
my reply.

"Mrs. Davis! So you have worked for her, have you? Of course you gave
satisfaction; so far, good. Can you do my work?"

"Yes, Mrs. Lincoln. Will you have much work for me to do?"

"That, Mrs. Keckley, will depend altogether upon your prices. I trust
that your terms are reasonable. I cannot afford to be extravagant. We
are just from the West, and are poor. If you do not charge too much, I
shall be able to give you all my work."

"I do not think there will be any difficulty about charges, Mrs.
Lincoln; my terms are reasonable."

"Well, if you will work cheap, you shall have plenty to do. I can't
afford to pay big prices, so I frankly tell you so in the beginning."

The terms were satisfactorily arranged, and I measured Mrs. Lincoln,
took the dress with me, a bright rose-colored moiré-antique, and
returned the next day to fit it on her. A number of ladies were in the
room, all making preparations for the levee to come off on Friday night.
These ladies, I learned, were relatives of Mrs. L.'s,--Mrs. Edwards and
Mrs. Kellogg, her own sisters, and Elizabeth Edwards and Julia Baker,
her nieces. Mrs. Lincoln this morning was dressed in a cashmere wrapper,
quilted down the front; and she wore a simple head-dress. The other
ladies wore morning robes.

I was hard at work on the dress, when I was informed that the levee had
been postponed from Friday night till Tuesday night. This, of course,
gave me more time to complete my task. Mrs. Lincoln sent for me, and
suggested some alteration in style, which was made. She also requested
that I make a waist of blue watered silk for Mrs. Grimsly, as work on
the dress would not require all my time.

Tuesday evening came, and I had taken the last stitches on the dress. I
folded it and carried it to the White House, with the waist for Mrs.
Grimsly. When I went up-stairs, I found the ladies in a terrible state
of excitement. Mrs. Lincoln was protesting that she could not go down,
for the reason that she had nothing to wear.

"Mrs. Keckley, you have disappointed me--deceived me. Why do you bring
my dress at this late hour?"

"Because I have just finished it, and I thought I should be in time."

"But you are not in time, Mrs. Keckley; you have bitterly disappointed
me. I have no time now to dress, and, what is more, I will not dress,
and go down-stairs."

"I am sorry if I have disappointed you, Mrs. Lincoln, for I intended to
be in time. Will you let me dress you? I can have you ready in a few

"No, I won't be dressed. I will stay in my room. Mr. Lincoln can go down
with the other ladies."

"But there is plenty of time for you to dress, Mary," joined in Mrs.
Grimsly and Mrs. Edwards. "Let Mrs. Keckley assist you, and she will
soon have you ready."

Thus urged, she consented. I dressed her hair, and arranged the dress on
her. It fitted nicely, and she was pleased. Mr. Lincoln came in, threw
himself on the sofa, laughed with Willie and little Tad, and then
commenced pulling on his gloves, quoting poetry all the while.

"You seem to be in a poetical mood to-night," said his wife.

"Yes, mother, these are poetical times," was his pleasant reply. "I
declare, you look charming in that dress. Mrs. Keckley has met with
great success." And then he proceeded to compliment the other ladies.

Mrs. Lincoln looked elegant in her rose-colored moiré-antique. She wore
a pearl necklace, pearl ear-rings, pearl bracelets, and red roses in her
hair. Mrs. Baker was dressed in lemon-colored silk; Mrs. Kellogg in a
drab silk, ashes of rose; Mrs. Edwards in a brown and black silk; Miss
Edwards in crimson, and Mrs. Grimsly in blue watered silk. Just before
starting downstairs, Mrs. Lincoln's lace handkerchief was the object of
search. It had been displaced by Tad, who was mischievous, and hard to
restrain. The handkerchief found, all became serene. Mrs. Lincoln took
the President's arm, and with smiling face led the train below. I was
surprised at her grace and composure. I had heard so much, in current
and malicious report, of her low life, of her ignorance and vulgarity,
that I expected to see her embarrassed on this occasion. Report, I soon
saw, was wrong. No queen, accustomed to the usages of royalty all her
life, could have comported herself with more calmness and dignity than
did the wife of the President. She was confident and self-possessed, and
confidence always gives grace.

This levee was a brilliant one, and the only one of the season. I became
the regular modiste of Mrs. Lincoln. I made fifteen or sixteen dresses
for her during the spring and early part of the summer, when she left
Washington; spending the hot weather at Saratoga, Long Branch, and other
places. In the mean time I was employed by Mrs. Senator Douglas, one of
the loveliest ladies that I ever met, Mrs. Secretary Wells, Mrs.
Secretary Stanton, and others. Mrs. Douglas always dressed in deep
mourning, with excellent taste, and several of the leading ladies of
Washington society were extremely jealous of her superior attractions.



Mrs. Lincoln returned to Washington in November, and again duty called
me to the White House. The war was now in progress, and every day
brought stirring news from the front--the front, where the Gray opposed
the Blue, where flashed the bright sabre in the sunshine, where were
heard the angry notes of battle, the deep roar of cannon, and the
fearful rattle of musketry; where new graves were being made every day,
where brother forgot a mother's early blessing and sought the lifeblood
of brother, and friend raised the deadly knife against friend. Oh, the
front, with its stirring battle-scenes! Oh, the front, with its ghastly
heaps of dead! The life of the nation was at stake; and when the land
was full of sorrow, there could not be much gayety at the capital. The
days passed quietly with me. I soon learned that some people had an
intense desire to penetrate the inner circle of the White House. No
President and his family, heretofore occupying this mansion, ever
excited so much curiosity as the present incumbents. Mr. Lincoln had
grown up in the wilds of the West, and evil report had said much of him
and his wife. The polite world was shocked, and the tendency to
exaggerate intensified curiosity. As soon as it was known that I was the
modiste of Mrs. Lincoln, parties crowded around and affected friendship
for me, hoping to induce me to betray the secrets of the domestic
circle. One day a woman, I will not call her a lady, drove up to my
rooms, gave me an order to make a dress, and insisted on partly paying
me in advance. She called on me every day, and was exceedingly kind.
When she came to take her dress away, she cautiously remarked:

"Mrs. Keckley, you know Mrs. Lincoln?"


"You are her modiste; are you not?"


"You know her very well; do you not?"

"I am with her every day or two."

"Don't you think you would have some influence with her?"

"I cannot say. Mrs. Lincoln, I presume, would listen to anything I
should suggest, but whether she would be influenced by a suggestion of
mine is another question."

"I am sure that you could influence her, Mrs. Keckley. Now listen; I
have a proposition to make. I have a great desire to become an inmate of
the White House. I have heard so much of Mr. Lincoln's goodness that I
should like to be near him; and if I can enter the White House no other
way, I am willing to go as a menial. My dear Mrs. Keckley, will you not
recommend me to Mrs. Lincoln as a friend of yours out of employment, and
ask her to take me as a chambermaid? If you will do this you shall be
well rewarded. It may be worth several thousand dollars to you in time."

I looked at the woman in amazement. A bribe, and to betray the
confidence of my employer! Turning to her with a glance of scorn, I

"Madam, you are mistaken in regard to my character. Sooner than betray
the trust of a friend, I would throw myself into the Potomac river. I am
not so base as that. Pardon me, but there is the door, and I trust that
you will never enter my room again."

She sprang to her feet in deep confusion, and passed through the door,
murmuring: "Very well; you will live to regret your action today."

"Never, never!" I exclaimed, and closed the door after her with a bang.
I afterwards learned that this woman was an actress, and that her object
was to enter the White House as a servant, learn its secrets, and then
publish a scandal to the world. I do not give her name, for such
publicity would wound the sensitive feelings of friends, who would have
to share her disgrace, without being responsible for her faults. I
simply record the incident to show how I often was approached by
unprincipled parties. It is unnecessary to say that I indignantly
refused every bribe offered.

The first public appearance of Mrs. Lincoln that winter was at the
reception on New Year's Day. This reception was shortly followed by a
brilliant levee. The day after the levee I went to the White House, and
while fitting a dress to Mrs. Lincoln, she said:

"Lizabeth"--she had learned to drop the E--"Lizabeth, I have an idea.
These are war times, and we must be as economical as possible. You know
the President is expected to give a series of state dinners every
winter, and these dinners are very costly; Now I want to avoid this
expense; and my idea is, that if I give three large receptions, the
state dinners can be scratched from the programme. What do you think,

"I think that you are right, Mrs. Lincoln."

"I am glad to hear you say so. If I can make Mr. Lincoln take the same
view of the case, I shall not fail to put the idea into practice."

Before I left her room that day, Mr. Lincoln came in. She at once stated
the case to him. He pondered the question a few moments before

"Mother, I am afraid your plan will not work."

"But it _will_ work, if you will only determine that it _shall_ work."

"It is breaking in on the regular custom," he mildly replied.

"But you forget, father, these are war times, and old customs can be
done away with for the once. The idea is economical, you must admit."

"Yes, mother, but we must think of something besides economy."

"I do think of something else. Public receptions are more democratic
than stupid state dinners--are more in keeping with the spirit of the
institutions of our country, as you would say if called upon to make a
stump speech. There are a great many strangers in the city, foreigners
and others, whom we can entertain at our receptions, but whom we cannot
invite to our dinners."

"I believe you are right, mother. You argue the point well. I think that
we shall have to decide on the receptions."

So the day was carried. The question was decided, and arrangements were
made for the first reception. It now was January, and cards were issued
for February.

The children, Tad and Willie, were constantly receiving presents. Willie
was so delighted with a little pony, that he insisted on riding it every
day. The weather was changeable, and exposure resulted in a severe cold,
which deepened into fever. He was very sick, and I was summoned to his
bedside. It was sad to see the poor boy suffer. Always of a delicate
constitution, he could not resist the strong inroads of disease. The
days dragged wearily by, and he grew weaker and more shadow-like. He was
his mother's favorite child, and she doted on him. It grieved her heart
sorely to see him suffer. When able to be about, he was almost
constantly by her side. When I would go in her room, almost always I
found blue-eyed Willie there, reading from an open book, or curled up in
a chair with pencil and paper in hand. He had decidedly a literary
taste, and was a studious boy. A short time before his death he wrote
this simple little poem:

  "WASHINGTON, D. C., October 30, 1861.

   DEAR SIR:--I enclose you my first attempt at poetry.

      "Yours truly,
      "WM. W. LINCOLN.

  "_To the Editor of the National Republican._"


    THERE was no patriot like Baker,
      So noble and so true;
    He fell as a soldier on the field,
      His face to the sky of blue.

    His voice is silent in the hall
      Which oft his presence graced;
    No more he'll hear the loud acclaim
      Which rang from place to place.

    No squeamish notions filled his breast,
      _The Union_ was his theme;
    "_No surrender and no compromise_,"
      His day-thought and night's dream.

    His Country has _her_ part to pay
      To'rds those he has left behind;
    His widow and his children all,
      She must always keep in mind.

Finding that Willie continued to grow worse, Mrs. Lincoln determined to
withdraw her cards of invitation and postpone the reception. Mr. Lincoln
thought that the cards had better not be withdrawn. At least he advised
that the doctor be consulted before any steps were taken. Accordingly
Dr. Stone was called in. He pronounced Willie better, and said that
there was every reason for an early recovery. He thought, since the
invitations had been issued, it would be best to go on with the
reception. Willie, he insisted, was in no immediate danger. Mrs. Lincoln
was guided by these counsels, and no postponement was announced. On the
evening of the reception Willie was suddenly taken worse. His mother sat
by his bedside a long while, holding his feverish hand in her own, and
watching his labored breathing. The doctor claimed there was no cause
for alarm. I arranged Mrs. Lincoln's hair, then assisted her to dress.
Her dress was white satin, trimmed with black lace. The trail was very
long, and as she swept through the room, Mr. Lincoln was standing with
his back to the fire, his hands behind him, and his eyes on the carpet.
His face wore a thoughtful, solemn look. The rustling of the satin dress
attracted his attention. He looked at it a few moments; then, in his
quaint, quiet way remarked--

"Whew! our cat has a long tail to-night."

Mrs. Lincoln did not reply. The President added:

"Mother, it is my opinion, if some of that tail was nearer the head, it
would be in better style;" and he glanced at her bare arms and neck. She
had a beautiful neck and arm, and low dresses were becoming to her. She
turned away with a look of offended dignity, and presently took the
President's arm, and both went down-stairs to their guests, leaving me
alone with the sick boy.

The reception was a large and brilliant one, and the rich notes of the
Marine Band in the apartments below came to the sick-room in soft,
subdued murmurs, like the wild, faint sobbing of far-off spirits. Some
of the young people had suggested dancing, but Mr. Lincoln met the
suggestion with an emphatic veto. The brilliance of the scene could not
dispel the sadness that rested upon the face of Mrs. Lincoln. During the
evening she came upstairs several times, and stood by the bedside of the
suffering boy. She loved him with a mother's heart, and her anxiety was
great. The night passed slowly; morning came, and Willie was worse. He
lingered a few days, and died. God called the beautiful spirit home, and
the house of joy was turned into the house of mourning. I was worn out
with watching, and was not in the room when Willie died, but was
immediately sent for. I assisted in washing him and dressing him, and
then laid him on the bed, when Mr. Lincoln came in. I never saw a man so
bowed down with grief. He came to the bed, lifted the cover from the
face of his child, gazed at it long and earnestly, murmuring, "My poor
boy, he was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know
that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is
hard, hard to have him die!"

Great sobs choked his utterance. He buried his head in his hands, and
his tall frame was convulsed with emotion. I stood at the foot of the
bed, my eyes full of tears, looking at the man in silent, awe-stricken
wonder. His grief unnerved him, and made him a weak, passive child. I
did not dream that his rugged nature could be so moved. I shall never
forget those solemn moments--genius and greatness weeping over love's
idol lost. There is a grandeur as well as a simplicity about the picture
that will never fade. With me it is immortal--I really believe that I
shall carry it with me across the dark, mysterious river of death.

Mrs. Lincoln's grief was inconsolable. The pale face of her dead boy
threw her into convulsions. Around him love's tendrils had been twined,
and now that he was dressed for the tomb, it was like tearing the
tendrils out of the heart by their roots. Willie, she often said, if
spared by Providence, would be the hope and stay of her old age. But
Providence had not spared him. The light faded from his eyes, and the
death-dew had gathered on his brow.

In one of her paroxysms of grief the President kindly bent over his
wife, took her by the arm, and gently led her to the window. With a
stately, solemn gesture, he pointed to the lunatic asylum.

"Mother, do you see that large white building on the hill yonder? Try
and control your grief, or it will drive you mad, and we may have to
send you there."

Mrs. Lincoln was so completely overwhelmed with sorrow that she did not
attend the funeral. Willie was laid to rest in the cemetery, and the
White House was draped in mourning. Black crape everywhere met the eye,
contrasting strangely with the gay and brilliant colors of a few days
before. Party dresses were laid aside, and every one who crossed the
threshold of the Presidential mansion spoke in subdued tones when they
thought of the sweet boy at rest--

"Under the sod and the dew."

Previous to this I had lost my son. Leaving Wilberforce, he went to the
battle-field with the three months troops, and was killed in
Missouri--found his grave on the battle-field where the gallant General
Lyon fell. It was a sad blow to me, and the kind womanly letter that
Mrs. Lincoln wrote to me when she heard of my bereavement was full of
golden words of comfort.

Nathaniel Parker Willis, the genial poet, now sleeping in his grave,
wrote this beautiful sketch of Willie Lincoln, after the sad death of
the bright-eyed boy:

"This little fellow had his acquaintances among his father's friends,
and I chanced to be one of them. He never failed to seek me out in the
crowd, shake hands, and make some pleasant remark; and this, in a boy of
ten years of age, was, to say the least, endearing to a stranger. But he
had more than mere affectionateness. His self-possession--_aplomb_, as
the French call it--was extraordinary. I was one day passing the White
House, when he was outside with a play-fellow on the side-walk. Mr.
Seward drove in, with Prince Napoleon and two of his suite in the
carriage; and, in a mock-heroic way--terms of intimacy evidently
existing between the boy and the Secretary--the official gentleman took
off his hat, and the Napoleon did the same, all making the young Prince
President a ceremonious salute. Not a bit staggered with the homage,
Willie drew himself up to his full height, took off his little cap with
graceful self-possession, and bowed down formally to the ground, like a
little ambassador. They drove past, and he went on unconcernedly with
his play: the impromptu readiness and good judgment being clearly a
part of his nature. His genial and open expression of countenance was
none the less ingenuous and fearless for a certain tincture of fun; and
it was in this mingling of qualities that he so faithfully resembled his

"With all the splendor that was around this little fellow in his new
home, he was so bravely and beautifully _himself_--and that only. A wild
flower transplanted from the prairie to the hot-house, he retained his
prairie habits, unalterably pure and simple, till he died. His leading
trait seemed to be a fearless and kindly frankness, willing that
everything should be as different as it pleased, but resting unmoved in
his own conscious single-heartedness. I found I was studying him
irresistibly, as one of the sweet problems of childhood that the world
is blessed with in rare places; and the news of his death (I was absent
from Washington, on a visit to my own children, at the time) came to me
like a knell heard unexpectedly at a merry-making.

"On the day of the funeral I went before the hour, to take a near
farewell look at the dear boy; for they had embalmed him to send home to
the West--to sleep under the sod of his own valley--and the coffin-lid
was to be closed before the service. The family had just taken their
leave of him, and the servants and nurses were seeing him for the last
time--and with tears and sobs wholly unrestrained, for he was loved like
an idol by every one of them. He lay with eyes closed--his brown hair
parted as we had known it--pale in the slumber of death; but otherwise
unchanged, for he was dressed as if for the evening, and held in one of
his hands, crossed upon his breast, a bunch of exquisite flowers--a
message coming from his mother, while we were looking upon him, that
those flowers might be preserved for her. She was lying sick in her bed,
worn out with grief and over-watching.

"The funeral was very touching. Of the entertainments in the East Room
the boy had been--for those who now assembled more especially--a most
life-giving variation. With his bright face, and his apt greetings and
replies, he was remembered in every part of that crimson-curtained hall,
built only for pleasure--of all the crowds, each night, certainly the
one least likely to be death's first mark. He was his father's
favorite. They were intimates--often seen hand in hand. And there sat
the man, with a burden on his brain at which the world marvels--bent now
with the load at both heart and brain--staggering under a blow like the
taking from him of his child! His men of power sat around
him--McClellan, with a moist eye when he bowed to the prayer, as I could
see from where I stood; and Chase and Seward, with their austere
features at work; and senators, and ambassadors, and soldiers, all
struggling with their tears--great hearts sorrowing with the President
as a stricken man and a brother. That God may give him strength for all
his burdens is, I am sure, at present the prayer of a nation."

This sketch was very much admired by Mrs. Lincoln. I copy it from the
scrap-book in which she pasted it, with many tears, with her own hands.



In the summer of 1862, freedmen began to flock into Washington from
Maryland and Virginia. They came with a great hope in their hearts, and
with all their worldly goods on their backs. Fresh from the bonds of
slavery, fresh from the benighted regions of the plantation, they came
to the Capital looking for liberty, and many of them not knowing it when
they found it. Many good friends reached forth kind hands, but the North
is not warm and impulsive. For one kind word spoken, two harsh ones were
uttered; there was something repelling in the atmosphere, and the bright
joyous dreams of freedom to the slave faded--were sadly altered, in the
presence of that stern, practical mother, reality. Instead of flowery
paths, days of perpetual sunshine, and bowers hanging with golden fruit,
the road was rugged and full of thorns, the sunshine was eclipsed by
shadows, and the mute appeals for help too often were answered by cold
neglect. Poor dusky children of slavery, men and women of my own
race--the transition from slavery to freedom was too sudden for you! The
bright dreams were too rudely dispelled; you were not prepared for the
new life that opened before you, and the great masses of the North
learned to look upon your helplessness with indifference--learned to
speak of you as an idle, dependent race. Reason should have prompted
kinder thoughts. Charity is ever kind.

One fair summer evening I was walking the streets of Washington,
accompanied by a friend, when a band of music was heard in the distance.
We wondered what it could mean, and curiosity prompted us to find out
its meaning. We quickened our steps, and discovered that it came from
the house of Mrs. Farnham. The yard was brilliantly lighted, ladies and
gentlemen were moving about, and the band was playing some of its
sweetest airs. We approached the sentinel on duty at the gate, and asked
what was going on. He told us that it was a festival given for the
benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers in the city. This suggested an
idea to me. If the white people can give festivals to raise funds for
the relief of suffering soldiers, why should not the well-to-do colored
people go to work to do something for the benefit of the suffering
blacks? I could not rest. The thought was ever present with me, and the
next Sunday I made a suggestion in the colored church, that a society of
colored people be formed to labor for the benefit of the unfortunate
freedmen. The idea proved popular, and in two weeks "the Contraband
Relief Association" was organized, with forty working members.

In September of 1862, Mrs. Lincoln left Washington for New York, and
requested me to follow her in a few days, and join her at the
Metropolitan Hotel. I was glad of the opportunity to do so, for I
thought that in New York I would be able to do something in the
interests of our society. Armed with credentials, I took the train for
New York, and went to the Metropolitan, where Mrs. Lincoln had secured
accommodations for me. The next morning I told Mrs. Lincoln of my
project; and she immediately headed my list with a subscription of $200.
I circulated among the colored people, and got them thoroughly
interested in the subject, when I was called to Boston by Mrs. Lincoln,
who wished to visit her son Robert, attending college in that city. I
met Mr. Wendell Phillips, and other Boston philanthropists, who gave me
all the assistance in their power. We held a mass meeting at the Colored
Baptist Church, Rev. Mr. Grimes, in Boston, raised a sum of money, and
organized there a branch society. The society was organized by Mrs.
Grimes, wife of the pastor, assisted by Mrs. Martin, wife of Rev. Stella
Martin. This branch of the main society, during the war, was able to
send us over eighty large boxes of goods, contributed exclusively by the
colored people of Boston. Returning to New York, we held a successful
meeting at the Shiloh Church, Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, pastor. The
Metropolitan Hotel, at that time as now, employed colored help. I
suggested the object of my mission to Robert Thompson, Steward of the
Hotel, who immediately raised quite a sum of money among the dining-room
waiters. Mr. Frederick Douglass contributed $200, besides lecturing for
us. Other prominent colored men sent in liberal contributions. From
England[B] a large quantity of stores was received. Mrs. Lincoln made
frequent contributions, as also did the President. In 1863 I was
re-elected President of the Association, which office I continue to

For two years after Willie's death the White House was the scene of no
fashionable display. The memory of the dead boy was duly respected. In
some things Mrs. Lincoln was an altered woman. Sometimes, when in her
room, with no one present but myself, the mere mention of Willie's name
would excite her emotion, and any trifling memento that recalled him
would move her to tears. She could not bear to look upon his picture;
and after his death she never crossed the threshold of the Guest's Room
in which he died, or the Green Room in which he was embalmed. There was
something supernatural in her dread of these things, and something that
she could not explain. Tad's nature was the opposite of Willie's, and he
was always regarded as his father's favorite child. His black eyes
fairly sparkled with mischief.

The war progressed, fair fields had been stained with blood, thousands
of brave men had fallen, and thousands of eyes were weeping for the
fallen at home. There were desolate hearthstones in the South as well as
in the North, and as the people of my race watched the sanguinary
struggle, the ebb and flow of the tide of battle, they lifted their
faces Zionward, as if they hoped to catch a glimpse of the Promised Land
beyond the sulphureous clouds of smoke which shifted now and then but to
reveal ghastly rows of new-made graves. Sometimes the very life of the
nation seemed to tremble with the fierce shock of arms. In 1863 the
Confederates were flushed with victory, and sometimes it looked as if
the proud flag of the Union, the glorious old Stars and Stripes, must
yield half its nationality to the tri-barred flag that floated grandly
over long columns of gray. These were sad, anxious days to Mr. Lincoln,
and those who saw the man in privacy only could tell how much he
suffered. One day he came into the room where I was fitting a dress on
Mrs. Lincoln. His step was slow and heavy, and his face sad. Like a
tired child he threw himself upon a sofa, and shaded his eyes with his
hands. He was a complete picture of dejection. Mrs. Lincoln, observing
his troubled look, asked:

"Where have you been, father?"

"To the War Department," was the brief, almost sullen answer.

"Any news?"

"Yes, plenty of news, but no good news. It is dark, dark everywhere."

He reached forth one of his long arms, and took a small Bible from a
stand near the head of the sofa, opened the pages of the holy book, and
soon was absorbed in reading them. A quarter of an hour passed, and on
glancing at the sofa the face of the President seemed more cheerful. The
dejected look was gone, and the countenance was lighted up with new
resolution and hope. The change was so marked that I could not but
wonder at it, and wonder led to the desire to know what book of the
Bible afforded so much comfort to the reader. Making the search for a
missing article an excuse, I walked gently around the sofa, and looking
into the open book, I discovered that Mr. Lincoln was reading that
divine comforter, Job. He read with Christian eagerness, and the courage
and hope that he derived from the inspired pages made him a new man. I
almost imagined that I could hear the Lord speaking to him from out the
whirlwind of battle: "Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of
thee, and declare thou unto me." What a sublime picture was this! A
ruler of a mighty nation going to the pages of the Bible with simple
Christian earnestness for comfort and courage, and finding both in the
darkest hours of a nation's calamity. Ponder it, O ye scoffers at God's
Holy Word, and then hang your heads for very shame!

Frequent letters were received warning Mr. Lincoln of assassination, but
he never gave a second thought to the mysterious warnings. The letters,
however, sorely troubled his wife. She seemed to read impending danger
in every rustling leaf, in every whisper of the wind.

"Where are you going now, father?" she would say to him, as she observed
him putting on his overshoes and shawl.

"I am going over to the War Department, mother, to try and learn some

"But, father, you should not go out alone. You know you are surrounded
with danger."

"All imagination. What does any one want to harm me for? Don't worry
about me, mother, as if I were a little child, for no one is going to
molest me;" and with a confident, unsuspecting air he would close the
door behind him, descend the stairs, and pass out to his lonely walk.

For weeks, when trouble was anticipated, friends of the President would
sleep in the White House to guard him from danger.

Robert would come home every few months, bringing new joy to the family
circle. He was very anxious to quit school and enter the army, but the
move was sternly opposed by his mother.

"We have lost one son, and his loss is as much as I can bear, without
being called upon to make another sacrifice," she would say, when the
subject was under discussion.

"But many a poor mother has given up all her sons," mildly suggested Mr.
Lincoln, "and our son is not more dear to us than the sons of other
people are to their mothers."

"That may be; but I cannot bear to have Robert exposed to danger. His
services are not required in the field, and the sacrifice would be a
needless one."

"The services of every man who loves his country are required in this
war. You should take a liberal instead of a selfish view of the
question, mother."

Argument at last prevailed, and permission was granted Robert to enter
the army. With the rank of Captain and A. D. C. he went to the field,
and remained in the army till the close of the war.

I well recollect a little incident that gave me a clearer insight into
Robert's character. He was at home at the time the Tom Thumb combination
was at Washington. The marriage of little Hopo'-my-thumb--Charles
Stratton--to Miss Warren created no little excitement in the world, and
the people of Washington participated in the general curiosity. Some of
Mrs. Lincoln's friends made her believe that it was the duty of Mrs.
Lincoln to show some attention to the remarkable dwarfs. Tom Thumb had
been caressed by royalty in the Old World, and why should not the wife
of the President of his native country smile upon him also? Verily, duty
is one of the greatest bugbears in life. A hasty reception was arranged,
and cards of invitation issued. I had dressed Mrs. Lincoln, and she was
ready to go below and receive her guests, when Robert entered his
mother's room.

"You are at leisure this afternoon, are you not, Robert?"

"Yes, mother."

"Of course, then, you will dress and come down-stairs."

"No, mother, I do not propose to assist in entertaining Tom Thumb. My
notions of duty, perhaps, are somewhat different from yours."

Robert had a lofty soul, and he could not stoop to all of the follies
and absurdities of the ephemeral current of fashionable life.

Mrs. Lincoln's love for her husband sometimes prompted her to act very
strangely. She was extremely jealous of him, and if a lady desired to
court her displeasure, she could select no surer way to do it than to
pay marked attention to the President. These little jealous freaks often
were a source of perplexity to Mr. Lincoln. If it was a reception for
which they were dressing, he would come into her room to conduct her
downstairs, and while pulling on his gloves ask, with a merry twinkle in
his eyes:

"Well, mother, who must I talk with to-night--shall it be Mrs. D.?"

"That deceitful woman! No, you shall not listen to her flattery."

"Well, then, what do you say to Miss C.? She is too young and handsome
to practise deceit."

"Young and handsome, you call her! You should not judge beauty for me.
No, she is in league with Mrs. D., and you shall not talk with her."

"Well, mother, I must talk with some one. Is there any one that you do
not object to?" trying to button his glove, with a mock expression of

"I don't know as it is necessary that you should talk to anybody in
particular. You know well enough, Mr. Lincoln, that I do not approve of
your flirtations with silly women, just as if you were a beardless boy,
fresh from school."

"But, mother, I insist that I must talk with somebody. I can't stand
around like a simpleton, and say nothing. If you will not tell me who I
may talk with, please tell me who I may _not_ talk with."

"There is Mrs. D. and Miss C. in particular. I detest them both. Mrs. B.
also will come around you, but you need not listen to her flattery.
These are the ones in particular."

"Very well, mother; now that we have settled the question to your
satisfaction, we will go down-stairs;" and always with stately dignity,
he proffered his arm and led the way.

[Footnote B: The Sheffield Anti-Slavery Society of England
  contributed through Mr. Frederick Douglass, to the Freedmen's
  Relief Association, $24.00; Aberdeen Ladies' Society, $40.00;
  Anti-Slavery Society of Edinburgh, Scotland, $48.00; Friends at
  Bristol, England, $176.00; Birmingham Negro's Friend Society,
  $50.00. Also received through Mr. Charles R. Douglass, from the
  Birmingham Society, $33.00.]



Often Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln discussed the relations of Cabinet officers,
and gentlemen prominent in politics, in my presence. I soon learned that
the wife of the President had no love for Mr. Salmon P. Chase, at that
time Secretary of the Treasury. She was well versed in human character,
was somewhat suspicious of those by whom she was surrounded, and often
her judgment was correct. Her intuition about the sincerity of
individuals was more accurate than that of her husband. She looked
beyond, and read the reflection of action in the future. Her hostility
to Mr. Chase was very bitter. She claimed that he was a selfish
politician instead of a true patriot, and warned Mr. Lincoln not to
trust him too far. The daughter of the Secretary was quite a belle in
Washington, and Mrs. Lincoln, who was jealous of the popularity of
others, had no desire to build up her social position through political
favor to her father. Miss Chase, now Mrs. Senator Sprague, was a lovely
woman, and was worthy of all the admiration she received. Mr. Lincoln
was more confiding than his wife. He never suspected the fidelity of
those who claimed to be his friends. Honest to the very core himself,
and frank as a child, he never dreamed of questioning the sincerity of

"Father, I do wish that you would inquire a little into the motives of
Chase," said his wife one day.

The President was lying carelessly upon a sofa, holding a newspaper in
his hands. "Mother, you are too suspicious. I give you credit for
sagacity, but you are disposed to magnify trifles. Chase is a patriot,
and one of my best friends."

"Yes, one of your best friends because it is his interest to be so. He
is anything for Chase. If he thought he could make anything by it, he
would betray you to-morrow."

"I fear that you are prejudiced against the man, mother. I know that you
do him injustice."

"Mr. Lincoln, you are either blind or will not see. I am not the only
one that has warned you against him."

"True, I receive letters daily from all parts of the country, telling me
not to trust Chase; but then these letters are written by the political
enemies of the Secretary, and it would be unjust and foolish to pay any
attention to them."

"Very well, you will find out some day, if you live long enough, that I
have read the man correctly. I only hope that your eyes may not be
opened to the truth when it is too late." The President, as far as I
could judge from his conversation with his wife, continued to confide in
Mr. Chase to the time of his tragic death.

Mrs. Lincoln was especially severe on Mr. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of
State. She but rarely lost an opportunity to say an unkind word of him.

One morning I went to the White House earlier than usual. Mr. Lincoln
was sitting in a chair, reading a paper, stroking with one hand the head
of little Tad. I was basting a dress for Mrs. Lincoln. A servant
entered, and handed the President a letter just brought by a messenger.
He broke the seal, and when he had read the contents his wife asked:

"Who is the letter from, father?"

"Seward; I must go over and see him today."

"Seward! I wish you had nothing to do with that man. He cannot be

"You say the same of Chase. If I listened to you, I should soon be
without a Cabinet."

"Better be without it than to confide in some of the men that you do.
Seward is worse than Chase. He has no principle."

"Mother, you are mistaken; your prejudices are so violent that you do
not stop to reason. Seward is an able man, and the country as well as
myself can trust him."

"Father, you are too honest for this world! You should have been born a
saint. You will generally find it a safe rule to distrust a
disappointed, ambitious politician. It makes me mad to see you sit still
and let that hypocrite, Seward, twine you around his finger as if you
were a skein of thread."

"It is useless to argue the question, mother. You cannot change my

Mrs. Lincoln prided herself upon her ability to read character. She was
shrewd and far-seeing, and had no patience with the frank, confiding
nature of the President.

When Andrew Johnson was urged for military Governor of Tennessee, Mrs.
Lincoln bitterly opposed the appointment.

"He is a demagogue," she said, almost fiercely, "and if you place him in
power, Mr. Lincoln, mark my words, you will rue it some day."

General McClellan, when made Commander-in-Chief, was the idol of the
soldiers, and never was a general more universally popular. "He is a
humbug," remarked Mrs. Lincoln one day in my presence.

"What makes you think so, mother?" good-naturedly inquired the

"Because he talks so much and does so little. If I had the power I would
very soon take off his head, and put some energetic man in his place."

"But I regard McClellan as a patriot and an able soldier. He has been
much embarrassed. The troops are raw, and the subordinate officers
inclined to be rebellious. There are too many politicians in the army
with shoulder-straps. McClellan is young and popular, and they are
jealous of him. They will kill him off if they can."

"McClellan can make plenty of excuse for himself, therefore he needs no
advocate in you. If he would only do something, and not promise so much,
I might learn to have a little faith in him. I tell you he is a humbug,
and you will have to find some man to take his place, that is, if you
wish to conquer the South."

Mrs. Lincoln could not tolerate General Grant. "He is a butcher," she
would often say, "and is not fit to be at the head of an army."

"But he has been very successful in the field," argued the President.

"Yes, he generally manages to claim a victory, but such a victory! He
loses two men to the enemy's one. He has no management, no regard for
life. If the war should continue four years longer, and he should remain
in power, he would depopulate the North. I could fight an army as well
myself. According to his tactics, there is nothing under the heavens to
do but to march a new line of men up in front of the rebel breastworks
to be shot down as fast as they take their position, and keep marching
until the enemy grows tired of the slaughter. Grant, I repeat, is an
obstinate fool and a butcher."

"Well, mother, supposing that we give you command of the army. No doubt
you would do much better than any general that has been tried." There
was a twinkle in the eyes, and a ring of irony in the voice.

I have often heard Mrs. Lincoln say that if Grant should ever be elected
President of the United States she would desire to leave the country,
and remain absent during his term of office.

It was well known that Mrs. Lincoln's brothers were in the Confederate
army, and for this reason it was often charged that her sympathies were
with the South. Those who made the hasty charge were never more widely

One morning, on my way to the White House, I heard that Captain
Alexander Todd, one of her brothers, had been killed. I did not like to
inform Mrs. Lincoln of his death, judging that it would be painful news
to her. I had been in her room but a few minutes when she said, with
apparent unconcern, "Lizzie, I have just heard that one of my brothers
has been killed in the war."

"I also heard the same, Mrs. Lincoln, but hesitated to speak of it, for
fear the subject would be a painful one to you."

"You need not hesitate. Of course, it is but natural that I should feel
for one so nearly related to me, but not to the extent that you suppose.
He made his choice long ago. He decided against my husband, and through
him against me. He has been fighting against us; and since he chose to
be our deadly enemy, I see no special reason why I should bitterly mourn
his death."

I felt relieved, and in subsequent conversations learned that Mrs.
Lincoln had no sympathy for the South. "Why should I sympathize with the
rebels," she would say; "are they not against me? They would hang my
husband to-morrow if it was in their power, and perhaps gibbet me with
him. How then can I sympathize with a people at war with me and mine?"
She always objected to being thought Southern in feeling.

Mr. Lincoln was generous by nature, and though his whole heart was in
the war, he could not but respect the valor of those opposed to him. His
soul was too great for the narrow, selfish views of partisanship. Brave
by nature himself, he honored bravery in others, even his foes. Time and
again I have heard him speak in the highest terms of the soldierly
qualities of such brave Confederate generals as Lee, Stonewall Jackson,
and Joseph E. Johns[t]on. Jackson was his ideal soldier. "He is a brave,
honest Presbyterian soldier," were his words; "what a pity that we
should have to fight such a gallant fellow! If we only had such a man to
lead the armies of the North, the country would not be appalled with so
many disasters."

As this is a rambling chapter, I will here record an incident showing
his feeling toward Robert E. Lee. The very morning of the day on which
he was assassinated, his son, Capt. Robert Lincoln, came into the room
with a portrait of General Lee in his hand. The President took the
picture, laid it on a table before him, scanned the face thoughtfully,
and said: "It is a good face; it is the face of a noble, noble, brave
man. I am glad that the war is over at last." Looking up at Robert, he
continued: "Well, my son, you have returned safely from the front. The
war is now closed, and we soon will live in peace with the brave men
that have been fighting against us. I trust that the era of good feeling
has returned with the war, and that henceforth we shall live in peace.
Now listen to me, Robert: you must lay aside your uniform, and return to
college. I wish you to read law for three years, and at the end of that
time I hope that we will be able to tell whether you will make a lawyer
or not." His face was more cheerful than I had seen it for a long while,
and he seemed to be in a generous, forgiving mood.



Some of the freedmen and freedwomen had exaggerated ideas of liberty. To
them it was a beautiful vision, a land of sunshine, rest and glorious
promise. They flocked to Washington, and since their extravagant hopes
were not realized, it was but natural that many of them should bitterly
feel their disappointment. The colored people are wedded to
associations, and when you destroy these you destroy half of the
happiness of their lives. They make a home, and are so fond of it that
they prefer it, squalid though it be, to the comparative ease and luxury
of a shifting, roaming life. Well, the emancipated slaves, in coming
North, left old associations behind them, and the love for the past was
so strong that they could not find much beauty in the new life so
suddenly opened to them. Thousands of the disappointed, huddled together
in camps, fretted and pined like children for the "good old times." In
visiting them in the interests of the Relief Society of which I was
president, they would crowd around me with pitiful stories of distress.
Often I heard them declare that they would rather go back to slavery in
the South, and be with their old masters, than to enjoy the freedom of
the North. I believe they were sincere in these declarations, because
dependence had become a part of their second nature, and independence
brought with it the cares and vexations of poverty.

I was very much amused one day at the grave complaints of a good old,
simple-minded woman, fresh from a life of servitude. She had never
ventured beyond a plantation until coming North. The change was too
radical for her, and she could not exactly understand it. She thought,
as many others thought, that Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln were the government,
and that the President and his wife had nothing to do but to supply the
extravagant wants of every one that applied to them. The wants of this
old woman, however, were not very extravagant.

"Why, Missus Keckley," said she to me one day, "I is been here eight
months, and Missus Lingom an't even give me one shife. Bliss God,
childen, if I had ar know dat de Government, and Mister and Missus
Government, was going to do dat ar way, I neber would 'ave comed here in
God's wurld. My old missus us't gib me two shifes eber year."

I could not restrain a laugh at the grave manner in which this good old
woman entered her protest. Her idea of freedom was two or more old
shifts every year. Northern readers may not fully recognize the pith of
the joke. On the Southern plantation, the mistress, according to
established custom, every year made a present of certain under-garments
to her slaves, which articles were always anxiously looked forward to,
and thankfully received. The old woman had been in the habit of
receiving annually two shifts from her mistress, and she thought the
wife of the President of the United States very mean for overlooking
this established custom of the plantation.

While some of the emancipated blacks pined for the old associations of
slavery, and refused to help themselves, others went to work with
commendable energy, and planned with remarkable forethought. They built
themselves cabins, and each family cultivated for itself a small patch
of ground. The colored people are fond of domestic life, and with them
domestication means happy children, a fat pig, a dozen or more chickens,
and a garden. Whoever visits the Freedmen's Village now in the vicinity
of Washington will discover all of these evidences of prosperity and
happiness. The schools are objects of much interest. Good teachers,
white and colored, are employed, and whole brigades of bright-eyed dusky
children are there taught the common branches of education. These
children are studious, and the teachers inform me that their advancement
is rapid. I number among my personal friends twelve colored girls
employed as teachers in the schools at Washington. The Colored Mission
Sabbath School, established through the influence of Gen. Brown at the
Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, is always an object of great
interest to the residents of the Capital, as well as to the hundreds of
strangers visiting the city.

In 1864 the receptions again commenced at the White House. For the first
two years of Mr. Lincoln's administration, the President selected a lady
to join in the promenade with him, which left Mrs. Lincoln free to
choose an escort from among the distinguished gentlemen that always
surrounded her on such occasions. This custom at last was discontinued
by Mrs. Lincoln.

"Lizabeth!"--I was sewing in her room, and she was seated in a
comfortable arm-chair--"Lizabeth, I have been thinking over a little
matter. As you are well aware, the President, at every reception,
selects a lady to lead the promenade with him. Now it occurs to me that
this custom is an absurd one. On such occasions our guests recognize the
position of the President as first of all; consequently, he takes the
lead in everything; well, now, if they recognize his position they
should also recognize mine. I am his wife, and should lead with him. And
yet he offers his arm to any other lady in the room, making her first
with him and placing me second. The custom is an absurd one, and I mean
to abolish it. The dignity that I owe to my position, as Mrs. President,
demands that I should not hesitate any longer to act."

Mrs. Lincoln kept her word. Ever after this, she either led the
promenade with the President, or the President walked alone or with a
gentleman. The change was much remarked, but the reason why it was made,
I believe, was never generally known.

In 1864 much doubt existed in regard to the re-election of Mr. Lincoln,
and the White House was besieged by all grades of politicians. Mrs.
Lincoln was often blamed for having a certain class of men around her.

"I have an object in view, Lizabeth," she said to me in reference to
this matter. "In a political canvass it is policy to cultivate every
element of strength. These men have influence, and we require influence
to re-elect Mr. Lincoln. I will be clever to them until after the
election, and then, if we remain at the White House, I will drop every
one of them, and let them know very plainly that I only made tools of
them. They are an unprincipled set, and I don't mind a little
double-dealing with them."

"Does Mr. Lincoln know what your purpose is?" I asked.

"God! no; he would never sanction such a proceeding, so I keep him in
the dark, and will tell him of it when all is over. He is too honest to
take the proper care of his own interests, so I feel it to be my duty to
electioneer for him."

Mr. Lincoln, as every one knows, was far from handsome. He was not
admired for his graceful figure and finely moulded face, but for the
nobility of his soul and the greatness of his heart. His wife was
different. He was wholly unselfish in every respect, and I believe that
he loved the mother of his children very tenderly. He asked nothing but
affection from her, but did not always receive it. When in one of her
wayward impulsive moods, she was apt to say and do things that wounded
him deeply. If he had not loved her, she would have been powerless to
cloud his thoughtful face, or gild it with a ray of sunshine as she
pleased. We are indifferent to those we do not love, and certainly the
President was not indifferent to his wife. She often wounded him in
unguarded moments, but calm reflection never failed to bring regret.

Mrs. Lincoln was extremely anxious that her husband should be re-elected
President of the United States. In endeavoring to make a display
becoming her exalted position, she had to incur many expenses. Mr.
Lincoln's salary was inadequate to meet them, and she was forced to run
in debt, hoping that good fortune would favor her, and enable her to
extricate herself from an embarrassing situation. She bought the most
expensive goods on credit, and in the summer of 1864 enormous unpaid
bills stared her in the face.

"What do you think about the election, Lizabeth?" she said to me one

"I think that Mr. Lincoln will remain in the White House four years
longer," I replied, looking up from my work.

"What makes you think so? Somehow I have learned to fear that he will be

"Because he has been tried, and has proved faithful to the best
interests of the country. The people of the North recognize in him an
honest man, and they are willing to confide in him, at least until the
war has been brought to a close. The Southern people made his election a
pretext for rebellion, and now to replace him by some one else, after
years of sanguinary war, would look too much like a surrender of the
North. So, Mr. Lincoln is certain to be re-elected. He represents a
principle, and to maintain this principle the loyal people of the loyal
States will vote for him, even if he had no merits to commend him."

"Your view is a plausible one, Lizabeth, and your confidence gives me
new hope. If he should be defeated, I do not know what would become of
us all. To me, to him, there is more at stake in this election than he
dreams of."

"What can you mean, Mrs. Lincoln? I do not comprehend."

"Simply this. I have contracted large debts, of which he knows nothing,
and which he will be unable to pay if he is defeated."

"What are your debts, Mrs. Lincoln?"

"They consist chiefly of store bills. I owe altogether about
twenty-seven thousand dollars; the principal portion at Stewart's, in
New York. You understand, Lizabeth, that Mr. Lincoln has but little idea
of the expense of a woman's wardrobe. He glances at my rich dresses, and
is happy in the belief that the few hundred dollars that I obtain from
him supply all my wants. I must dress in costly materials. The people
scrutinize every article that I wear with critical curiosity. The very
fact of having grown up in the West, subjects me to more searching
observation. To keep up appearances, I must have money--more than Mr.
Lincoln can spare for me. He is too honest to make a penny outside of
his salary; consequently I had, and still have, no alternative but to
run in debt."

"And Mr. Lincoln does not even suspect how much you owe?"

"God, no!"--this was a favorite expression of hers--"and I would not
have him suspect. If he knew that his wife was involved to the extent
that she is, the knowledge would drive him mad. He is so sincere and
straightforward himself, that he is shocked by the duplicity of others.
He does not know a thing about any debts and I value his happiness, not
to speak of my own, too much to allow him to know anything. This is
what troubles me so much. If he is re-elected, I can keep him in
ignorance of my affairs; but if he is defeated, then the bills will be
sent in, and he will know all;" and something like a hysterical sob
escaped her.

Mrs. Lincoln sometimes feared that the politicians would get hold of the
particulars of her debts, and use them in the Presidential campaign
against her husband; and when this thought occurred to her, she was
almost crazy with anxiety and fear.

When in one of these excited moods, she would fiercely exclaim--

"The Republican politicians must pay my debts. Hundreds of them are
getting immensely rich off the patronage of my husband, and it is but
fair that they should help me out of my embarrassment. I will make a
demand of them, and when I tell them the facts they cannot refuse to
advance whatever money I require."



Mrs. Lincoln came to my apartments one day towards the close of the
summer of 1864, to consult me in relation to a dress. And here let me
remark, I never approved of ladies, attached to the Presidential
household, coming to my rooms. I always thought that it would be more
consistent with their dignity to send for me, and let me come to them,
instead of their coming to me. I may have peculiar notions about some
things, and this may be regarded as one of them. No matter, I have
recorded my opinion. I cannot forget the associations of my early life.
Well, Mrs. Lincoln came to my rooms, and, as usual, she had much to say
about the Presidential election.

After some conversation, she asked: "Lizzie, where do you think I will
be this time next summer?"

"Why, in the White House, of course."

"I cannot believe so. I have no hope of the re-election of Mr. Lincoln.
The canvass is a heated one, the people begin to murmur at the war, and
every vile charge is brought against my husband."

"No matter," I replied, "Mr. Lincoln will be re-elected. I am so
confident of it, that I am tempted to ask a favor of you."

"A favor! Well, if we remain in the White House I shall be able to do
you many favors. What is the special favor?"

"Simply this, Mrs. Lincoln--I should like for you to make me a present
of the right-hand glove that the President wears at the first public
reception after his second inaugural."

"You shall have it in welcome. It will be so filthy when he pulls it
off, I shall be tempted to take the tongs and put it in the fire. I
cannot imagine, Lizabeth, what you want with such a glove."

"I shall cherish it as a precious memento of the second inauguration of
the man who has done so much for my race. He has been a Jehovah to my
people--has lifted them out of bondage, and directed their footsteps
from darkness into light. I shall keep the glove, and hand it down to

"You have some strange ideas, Lizabeth. Never mind, you shall have the
glove; that is, if Mr. Lincoln continues President after the 4th of
March next."

I held Mrs. Lincoln to her promise. That glove is now in my possession,
bearing the marks of the thousands of hands that grasped the honest hand
of Mr. Lincoln on that eventful night. Alas! it has become a prouder,
sadder memento than I ever dreamed--prior to making the request--it
would be.

In due time the election came off, and all of my predictions were
verified. The loyal States decided that Mr. Lincoln should continue at
the nation's helm. Autumn faded, winter dragged slowly by, and still the
country resounded with the clash of arms. The South was suffering, yet
suffering was borne with heroic determination, and the army continued to
present a bold, defiant front. With the first early breath of spring,
thousands of people gathered in Washington to witness the second
inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. It
was a stirring day in the National Capital, and one that will never fade
from the memory of those who witnessed the imposing ceremonies. The
morning was dark and gloomy; clouds hung like a pall in the sky, as if
portending some great disaster. But when the President stepped forward
to receive the oath of office, the clouds parted, and a ray of sunshine
streamed from the heavens to fall upon and gild his face. It is also
said that a brilliant star was seen at noon-day. It was the noon-day of
life with Mr. Lincoln, and the star, as viewed in the light of
subsequent events, was emblematic of a summons from on high. This was
Saturday, and on Monday evening I went to the White House to dress Mrs.
Lincoln for the first grand levee. While arranging Mrs. L.'s hair, the
President came in. It was the first time I had seen him since the
inauguration, and I went up to him, proffering my hand with words of

He grasped my outstretched hand warmly, and held it while he spoke:
"Thank you. Well, Madam Elizabeth"--he always called me Madam
Elizabeth--"I don't know whether I should feel thankful or not. The
position brings with it many trials. We do not know what we are destined
to pass through. But God will be with us all. I put my trust in God." He
dropped my hand, and with solemn face walked across the room and took
his seat on the sofa. Prior to this I had congratulated Mrs. Lincoln,
and she had answered with a sigh, "Thank you, Elizabeth; but now that we
have won the position, I almost wish it were otherwise. Poor Mr. Lincoln
is looking so broken-hearted, so completely worn out, I fear he will not
get through the next four years." Was it a presentiment that made her
take a sad view of the future? News from the front was never more
cheering. On every side the Confederates were losing ground, and the
lines of blue were advancing in triumph. As I would look out my window
almost every day, I could see the artillery going past on its way to the
open space of ground, to fire a salute in honor of some new victory.
From every point came glorious news of the success of the soldiers that
fought for the Union. And yet, in their private chamber, away from the
curious eyes of the world, the President and his wife wore sad, anxious

I finished dressing Mrs. Lincoln, and she took the President's arm and
went below. It was one of the largest receptions ever held in
Washington. Thousands crowded the halls and rooms of the White House,
eager to shake Mr. Lincoln by his hand, and receive a gracious smile
from his wife. The jam was terrible, and the enthusiasm great. The
President's hand was well shaken, and the next day, on visiting Mrs.
Lincoln, I received the soiled glove that Mr. Lincoln had worn on his
right hand that night.

Many colored people were in Washington, and large numbers had desired to
attend the levee, but orders were issued not to admit them. A gentleman,
a member of Congress, on his way to the White House, recognized Mr.
Frederick Douglass, the eloquent colored orator, on the outskirts of the

"How do you do, Mr. Douglass? A fearful jam to-night. You are going in,
of course?"

"No--that is, no to your last question."

"Not going in to shake the President by the hand! Why, pray?"

"The best reason in the world. Strict orders have been issued not to
admit people of color."

"It is a shame, Mr. Douglass, that you should thus be placed under ban.
Never mind; wait here, and I will see what can be done."

The gentleman entered the White House, and working his way to the
President, asked permission to introduce Mr. Douglass to him.

"Certainly," said Mr. Lincoln. "Bring Mr. Douglass in, by all means. I
shall be glad to meet him."

The gentleman returned, and soon Mr. Douglass stood face to face with
the President. Mr. Lincoln pressed his hand warmly, saying: "Mr.
Douglass, I am glad to meet you. I have long admired your course, and I
value your opinions highly."

Mr. Douglass was very proud of the manner in which Mr. Lincoln received
him. On leaving the White House he came to a friend's house where a
reception was being held, and he related the incident with great
pleasure to myself and others.

On the Monday following the reception at the White House, everybody was
busy preparing for the grand inaugural ball to come off that night. I
was in Mrs. Lincoln's room the greater portion of the day. While
dressing her that night, the President came in, and I remarked to him
how much Mr. Douglass had been pleased on the night he was presented to
Mr. Lincoln. Mrs. L. at once turned to her husband with the inquiry,
"Father, why was not Mr. Douglass introduced to me?"

"I do not know. I thought he was presented."

"But he was not."

"It must have been an oversight then, mother; I am sorry you did not
meet him."

I finished dressing her for the ball, and accompanied her to the door.
She was dressed magnificently, and entered the ball-room leaning on the
arm of Senator Sumner, a gentleman that she very much admired. Mr.
Lincoln walked into the ball-room accompanied by two gentlemen. This
ball closed the season. It was the last time that the President and his
wife ever appeared in public.

Some days after, Mrs. Lincoln, with a party of friends, went to City
Point on a visit.

Mrs. Lincoln had returned to Washington prior to the 2d of April. On
Monday, April 3d, Mrs. Secretary Harlan came into my room with material
for a dress. While conversing with her, I saw artillery pass the window;
and as it was on its way to fire a salute, I inferred that good news had
been received at the War Department. My reception-room was on one side
of the street, and my work-room on the other side. Inquiring the cause
of the demonstration, we were told that Richmond had fallen. Mrs. Harlan
took one of my hands in each of her own, and we rejoiced together. I ran
across to my work-room, and on entering it, discovered that the girls in
my employ also had heard the good news. They were particularly elated,
as it was reported that the rebel capital had surrendered to colored
troops. I had promised my employees a holiday when Richmond should fall;
and now that Richmond had fallen, they reminded me of my promise.

I recrossed to my reception-room, and Mrs. Harlan told me that the good
news was enough for her--she could afford to wait for her dress, and to
give the girls a holiday and a treat, by all means. She returned to her
house, and I joined my girls in the joy of the long-promised holiday. We
wandered about the streets of the city with happy faces, and hearts
overflowing with joy. The clerks in the various departments also enjoyed
a holiday, and they improved it by getting gloriously fuddled. Towards
evening I saw S., and many other usually clear-headed men, in the
street, in a confused, uncertain state of mind.

Mrs. Lincoln had invited me to accompany her to City Point. I went to
the White House, and told her that if she intended to return, I would
regard it as a privilege to go with her, as City Point was near
Petersburg, my old home. Mrs. L. said she designed returning, and would
be delighted to take me with her; so it was arranged that I should
accompany her.

A few days after we were on board the steamer, _en route_ for City
Point. Mrs. Lincoln was joined by Mrs. Secretary Harlan and daughter,
Senator Sumner, and several other gentlemen.

Prior to this, Mr. Lincoln had started for City Point, and before we
reached our destination he had visited Richmond, Petersburg, and other
points. We arrived on Friday, and Mrs. Lincoln was much disappointed
when she learned that the President had visited the late Confederate
capital, as she had greatly desired to be with him when he entered the
conquered stronghold. It was immediately arranged that the entire party
on board the River Queen should visit Richmond, and other points, with
the President. The next morning, after the arrangement was perfected, we
were steaming up James River--the river that so long had been
impassable, even to our gunboats. The air was balmy, and the banks of
the river were beautiful, and fragrant with the first sweet blossoms of
spring. For hours I stood on deck, breathing the pure air, and viewing
the landscape on either side of the majestically flowing river. Here
stretched fair fields, emblematic of peace--and here deserted camps and
frowning forts, speaking of the stern vicissitudes of war. Alas! how
many changes had taken place since my eye had wandered over the classic
fields of dear old Virginia! A birthplace is always dear, no matter
under what circumstances you were born, since it revives in memory the
golden hours of childhood, free from philosophy, and the warm kiss of a
mother. I wondered if I should catch a glimpse of a familiar face; I
wondered what had become of those I once knew; had they fallen in
battle, been scattered by the relentless tide of war, or were they still
living as they lived when last I saw them? I wondered, now that Richmond
had fallen, and Virginia been restored to the clustering stars of the
Union, if the people would come together in the bonds of peace; and as I
gazed and wondered, the River Queen rapidly carried us to our

The Presidential party were all curiosity on entering Richmond. They
drove about the streets of the city, and examined every object of
interest. The Capitol presented a desolate appearance--desks broken, and
papers scattered promiscuously in the hurried flight of the Confederate
Congress. I picked up a number of papers, and, by curious coincidence,
the resolution prohibiting all free colored people from entering the
State of Virginia. In the Senate chamber I sat in the chair that
Jefferson Davis sometimes occupied; also in the chair of the
Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens. We paid a visit to the mansion
occupied by Mr. Davis and family during the war, and the ladies who
were in charge of it scowled darkly upon our party as we passed through
and inspected the different rooms. After a delightful visit we returned
to City Point.

That night, in the cabin of the River Queen, smiling faces gathered
around the dinner-table. One of the guests was a young officer attached
to the Sanitary Commission. He was seated near Mrs. Lincoln, and, by way
of pleasantry, remarked: "Mrs. Lincoln, you should have seen the
President the other day, on his triumphal entry into Richmond. He was
the cynosure of all eyes. The ladies kissed their hands to him, and
greeted him with the waving of handkerchiefs. He is quite a hero when
surrounded by pretty young ladies."

The young officer suddenly paused with a look of embarrassment. Mrs.
Lincoln turned to him with flashing eyes, with the remark that his
familiarity was offensive to her. Quite a scene followed, and I do not
think that the Captain who incurred Mrs. Lincoln's displeasure will ever
forget that memorable evening in the cabin of the River Queen, at City

Saturday morning the whole party decided to visit Petersburg, and I was
only too eager to accompany them.

When we arrived at the city, numbers crowded around the train, and a
little ragged negro boy ventured timidly into the car occupied by Mr.
Lincoln and immediate friends, and in replying to numerous questions,
used the word "tote."

"Tote," remarked Mr. Lincoln; "what do you mean by tote?"

"Why, massa, to tote um on your back."

"Very definite, my son; I presume when you tote a thing, you carry it.
By the way, Sumner," turning to the Senator, "what is the origin of

"Its origin is said to be African. The Latin word _totum_, from _totus_,
means all--an entire body--the whole."

"But my young friend here did not mean an entire body, or anything of
the kind, when he said he would tote my things for me," interrupted the

"Very true," continued the Senator. "He used the word tote in the
African sense, to carry, to bear. Tote in this sense is defined in our
standard dictionaries as a colloquial word of the Southern States, used
especially by the negroes."

"Then you regard the word as a good one?"

"Not elegant, certainly. For myself, I should prefer a better word; but
since it has been established by usage, I cannot refuse to recognize

Thus the conversation proceeded in pleasant style.

Getting out of the car, the President and those with him went to visit
the forts and other scenes, while I wandered off by myself in search of
those whom I had known in other days. War, grim-visaged war, I soon
discovered had brought many changes to the city so well known to me in
the days of my youth. I found a number of old friends, but the greater
portion of the population were strange to me. The scenes suggested
painful memories, and I was not sorry to turn my back again upon the
city. A large, peculiarly shaped oak tree, I well remember, attracted
the particular attention of the President; it grew upon the outskirts of
Petersburg, and as he had discovered it on his first visit, a few days
previous to the second, he insisted that the party should go with him to
take a look at the isolated and magnificent specimen of the stately
grandeur of the forest. Every member of the party was only too willing
to accede to the President's request, and the visit to the oak was made,
and much enjoyed.

On our return to City Point from Petersburg the train moved slowly, and
the President, observing a terrapin basking in the warm sunshine on the
wayside, had the conductor stop the train, and one of the brakemen bring
the terrapin in to him. The movements of the ungainly little animal
seemed to delight him, and he amused himself with it until we reached
James River, where our steamer lay. Tad stood near, and joined in the
happy laugh with his father.

For a week the River Queen remained in James River, anchored the greater
portion of the time at City Point, and a pleasant and memorable week was
it to all on board. During the whole of this time a yacht lay in the
stream about a quarter of a mile distant, and its peculiar movements
attracted the attention of all on board. General Grant and Mrs. Grant
were on our steamer several times, and many distinguished officers of
the army also were entertained by the President and his party.

Mr. Lincoln, when not off on an excursion of any kind, lounged about
the boat, talking familiarly with every one that approached him.

The day before we started on our journey back to Washington, Mr. Lincoln
was engaged in reviewing the troops in camp. He returned to the boat in
the evening, with a tired, weary look.

"Mother," he said to his wife, "I have shaken so many hands to-day that
my arms ache tonight. I almost wish that I could go to bed now."

As the twilight shadows deepened the lamps were lighted, and the boat
was brilliantly illuminated; as it lay in the river, decked with
many-colored lights, it looked like an enchanted floating palace. A
military band was on board, and as the hours lengthened into night it
discoursed sweet music. Many officers came on board to say good-by, and
the scene was a brilliant one indeed. About 10 o'clock Mr. Lincoln was
called upon to make a speech. Rising to his feet, he said:

"You must excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. I am too tired to speak
to-night. On next Tuesday night I make a speech in Washington, at which
time you will learn all I have to say. And now, by way of parting from
the brave soldiers of our gallant army, I call upon the band to play
Dixie. It has always been a favorite of mine, and since we have captured
it, we have a perfect right to enjoy it." On taking his seat the band at
once struck up with Dixie, that sweet, inspiring air; and when the music
died away, there were clapping of hands and other manifestations of

At 11 o'clock the last good-by was spoken, the lights were taken down,
the River Queen rounded out into the water and we were on our way back
to Washington. We arrived at the Capital at 6 o'clock on Sunday evening,
where the party separated, each going to his and her own home. This was
one of the most delightful trips of my life, and I always revert to it
with feelings of genuine pleasure.



I had never heard Mr. Lincoln make a public speech, and, knowing the man
so well, was very anxious to hear him. On the morning of the Tuesday
after our return from City Point, Mrs. Lincoln came to my apartments,
and before she drove away I asked permission to come to the White House
that night and hear Mr. Lincoln speak.

"Certainly, Lizabeth; if you take any interest in political speeches,
come and listen in welcome."

"Thank you, Mrs. Lincoln. May I trespass further on your kindness by
asking permission to bring a friend with me?"

"Yes, bring your friend also. By the way, come in time to dress me
before the speaking commences."

"I will be in time. You may rely upon that. Good morning," I added, as
she swept from my room, and, passing out into the street, entered her
carriage and drove away.

About 7 o'clock that evening I entered the White House. As I went
up-stairs I glanced into Mr. Lincoln's room through the half-open door,
and seated by a desk was the President, looking over his notes and
muttering to himself. His face was thoughtful, his manner abstracted,
and I knew, as I paused a moment to watch him, that he was rehearsing
the part that he was to play in the great drama soon to commence.

Proceeding to Mrs. Lincoln's apartment, I worked with busy fingers, and
in a short time her toilette was completed.

Great crowds began to gather in front of the White House, and loud calls
were made for the President. The band stopped playing, and as he
advanced to the centre window over the door to make his address, I
looked out, and never saw such a mass of heads before. It was like a
black, gently swelling sea. The swaying motion of the crowd, in the dim
uncertain light, was like the rising and falling of billows--like the
ebb and flow of the tide upon the stranded shore of the ocean. Close to
the house the faces were plainly discernible, but they faded into mere
ghostly outlines on the outskirts of the assembly; and what added to the
weird, spectral beauty of the scene, was the confused hum of voices that
rose above the sea of forms, sounding like the subdued, sullen roar of
an ocean storm, or the wind soughing through the dark lonely forest. It
was a grand and imposing scene, and when the President, with pale face
and his soul flashing through his eyes, advanced to speak, he looked
more like a demigod than a man crowned with the fleeting days of

The moment the President appeared at the window he was greeted with a
storm of applause, and voices re-echoed the cry, "A light! a light!"

A lamp was brought, and little Tad at once rushed to his father's side,

"Let me hold the light, Papa! let me hold the light!"

Mrs. Lincoln directed that the wish of her son be gratified, and the
lamp was transferred to his hands. The father and son standing there in
the presence of thousands of free citizens, the one lost in a chain of
eloquent ideas, the other looking up into the speaking face with a
proud, manly look, formed a beautiful and striking tableau.

There were a number of distinguished gentlemen, as well as ladies, in
the room, nearly all of whom remarked the picture.

I stood a short distance from Mr. Lincoln, and as the light from the
lamp fell full upon him, making him stand out boldly in the darkness, a
sudden thought struck me, and I whispered to the friend at my side:

"What an easy matter would it be to kill the President, as he stands
there! He could be shot down from the crowd, and no one be able to tell
who fired the shot."

I do not know what put such an idea into my head, unless it was the
sudden remembrance of the many warnings that Mr. Lincoln had received.

The next day, I made mention to Mrs. Lincoln of the idea that had
impressed me so strangely the night before, and she replied with a sigh:

"Yes, yes, Mr. Lincoln's life is always exposed. Ah, no one knows what
it is to live in constant dread of some fearful tragedy. The President
has been warned so often, that I tremble for him on every public
occasion. I have a presentiment that he will meet with a sudden and
violent end. I pray God to protect my beloved husband from the hands of
the assassin."

Mr. Lincoln was fond of pets. He had two goats that knew the sound of
his voice, and when he called them they would come bounding to his side.
In the warm bright days, he and Tad would sometimes play in the yard
with these goats, for an hour at a time. One Saturday afternoon I went
to the White House to dress Mrs. Lincoln. I had nearly completed my task
when the President came in. It was a bright day, and walking to the
window, he looked down into the yard, smiled, and, turning to me, asked:

"Madam Elizabeth, you are fond of pets, are you not?"

"O yes, sir," I answered.

"Well, come here and look at my two goats. I believe they are the
kindest and best goats in the world. See how they sniff the clear air,
and skip and play in the sunshine. Whew! what a jump," he exclaimed as
one of the goats made a lofty spring. "Madam Elizabeth, did you ever
before see such an active goat?" Musing a moment, he continued: "He
feeds on my bounty, and jumps with joy. Do you think we could call him a
bounty-jumper? But I flatter the bounty-jumper. My goat is far above
him. I would rather wear his horns and hairy coat through life, than
demean myself to the level of the man who plunders the national treasury
in the name of patriotism. The man who enlists into the service for a
consideration, and deserts the moment he receives his money but to
repeat the play, is bad enough; but the men who manipulate the grand
machine and who simply make the bounty-jumper their agent in an
outrageous fraud are far worse. They are beneath the worms that crawl in
the dark hidden places of earth."

His lips curled with haughty scorn, and a cloud was gathering on his
brow. Only a moment the shadow rested on his face. Just then both goats
looked up at the window and shook their heads as if they would say "How
d'ye do, old friend?"

"See, Madam Elizabeth," exclaimed the President in a tone of enthusiasm,
"my pets recognize me. How earnestly they look! There they go again;
what jolly fun!" and he laughed outright as the goats bounded swiftly to
the other side of the yard. Just then Mrs. Lincoln called out, "Come,
Lizabeth; if I get ready to go down this evening I must finish dressing
myself, or you must stop staring at those silly goats."

Mrs. Lincoln was not fond of pets, and she could not understand how Mr.
Lincoln could take so much delight in his goats. After Willie's death,
she could not bear the sight of anything he loved, not even a flower.
Costly bouquets were presented to her, but she turned from them with a
shudder, and either placed them in a room where she could not see them,
or threw them out of the window. She gave all of Willie's
toys--everything connected with him--away, as she said she could not
look upon them without thinking of her poor dead boy, and to think of
him, in his white shroud and cold grave, was maddening. I never in my
life saw a more peculiarly constituted woman. Search the world over, and
you will not find her counterpart. After Mr. Lincoln's death, the goats
that he loved so well were given away--I believe to Mrs. Lee, _née_ Miss
Blair, one of the few ladies with whom Mrs. Lincoln was on intimate
terms in Washington.

During my residence in the Capital I made my home with Mr. and Mrs.
Walker Lewis, people of my own race, and friends in the truest sense of
the word.

The days passed without any incident of particular note disturbing the
current of life. On Friday morning, April 14th--alas! what American does
not remember the day--I saw Mrs. Lincoln but for a moment. She told me
that she was to attend the theatre that night with the President, but I
was not summoned to assist her in making her toilette. Sherman had swept
from the northern border of Georgia through the heart of the Confederacy
down to the sea, striking the death-blow to the rebellion. Grant had
pursued General Lee beyond Richmond, and the army of Virginia, that had
made such stubborn resistance, was crumbling to pieces. Fort Sumter had
fallen;--the stronghold first wrenched from the Union; and which had
braved the fury of Federal guns for so many years, was restored to the
Union; the end of the war was near at hand, and the great pulse of the
loyal North thrilled with joy. The dark war-cloud was fading, and a
white-robed angel seemed to hover in the sky, whispering "Peace--peace
on earth, good-will toward men!" Sons, brothers, fathers, friends,
sweethearts were coming home. Soon the white tents would be folded, the
volunteer army be disbanded, and tranquillity again reign. Happy, happy
day!--happy at least to those who fought under the banner of the Union.
There was great rejoicing throughout the North. From the Atlantic to the
Pacific, flags were gayly thrown to the breeze, and at night every city
blazed with its tens of thousand lights. But scarcely had the fireworks
ceased to play, and the lights been taken down from the windows, when
the lightning flashed the most appalling news over the magnetic wires.
"The President has been murdered!" spoke the swift-winged messenger, and
the loud huzza died upon the lips. A nation suddenly paused in the midst
of festivity, and stood paralyzed with horror--transfixed with awe.

Oh, memorable day! Oh, memorable night! Never before was joy so
violently contrasted with sorrow.

At 11 o'clock at night I was awakened by an old friend and neighbor,
Miss M. Brown, with the startling intelligence that the entire Cabinet
had been assassinated, and Mr. Lincoln shot, but not mortally wounded.
When I heard the words I felt as if the blood had been frozen in my
veins, and that my lungs must collapse for the want of air. Mr. Lincoln
shot! the Cabinet assassinated! What could it mean? The streets were
alive with wondering, awe-stricken people. Rumors flew thick and fast,
and the wildest reports came with every new arrival. The words were
repeated with blanched cheeks and quivering lips. I waked Mr. and Mrs.
Lewis, and told them that the President was shot, and that I must go to
the White House. I could not remain in a state of uncertainty. I felt
that the house would not hold me. They tried to quiet me, but gentle
words could not calm the wild tempest. They quickly dressed themselves,
and we sallied out into the street to drift with the excited throng. We
walked rapidly towards the White House, and on our way passed the
residence of Secretary Seward, which was surrounded by armed soldiers,
keeping back all intruders with the point of the bayonet. We hurried on,
and as we approached the White House, saw that it too was surrounded
with soldiers. Every entrance was strongly guarded, and no one was
permitted to pass. The guard at the gate told us that Mr. Lincoln had
not been brought home, but refused to give any other information. More
excited than ever, we wandered down the street. Grief and anxiety were
making me weak, and as we joined the outskirts of a large crowd, I began
to feel as meek and humble as a penitent child. A gray-haired old man
was passing. I caught a glimpse of his face, and it seemed so full of
kindness and sorrow that I gently touched his arm, and imploringly

"Will you please, sir, to tell me whether Mr. Lincoln is dead or not?"

"Not dead," he replied, "but dying. God help us!" and with a heavy step
he passed on.

"Not dead, but dying! then indeed God help us!"

We learned that the President was mortally wounded--that he had been
shot down in his box at the theatre, and that he was not expected to
live till morning; when we returned home with heavy hearts. I could not
sleep. I wanted to go to Mrs. Lincoln, as I pictured her wild with
grief; but then I did not know where to find her, and I must wait till
morning. Never did the hours drag so slowly. Every moment seemed an age,
and I could do nothing but walk about and hold my arms in mental agony.

Morning came at last, and a sad morning was it. The flags that floated
so gayly yesterday now were draped in black, and hung in silent folds at
half-mast. The President was dead, and a nation was mourning for him.
Every house was draped in black, and every face wore a solemn look.
People spoke in subdued tones, and glided whisperingly, wonderingly,
silently about the streets.

About eleven o'clock on Saturday morning a carriage drove up to the
door, and a messenger asked for "Elizabeth Keckley."

"Who wants her?" I asked.

"I come from Mrs. Lincoln. If you are Mrs. Keckley, come with me
immediately to the White House."

I hastily put on my shawl and bonnet, and was driven at a rapid rate to
the White House. Everything about the building was sad and solemn. I was
quickly shown to Mrs. Lincoln's room, and on entering, saw Mrs. L.
tossing uneasily about upon a bed. The room was darkened, and the only
person in it besides the widow of the President was Mrs. Secretary
Welles, who had spent the night with her. Bowing to Mrs. Welles, I went
to the bedside.

"Why did you not come to me last night, Elizabeth--I sent for you?" Mrs.
Lincoln asked in a low whisper.

"I did try to come to you, but I could not find you," I answered, as I
laid my hand upon her hot brow.

I afterwards learned, that when she had partially recovered from the
first shock of the terrible tragedy in the theatre, Mrs. Welles asked:

"Is there no one, Mrs. Lincoln, that you desire to have with you in this
terrible affliction?"

"Yes, send for Elizabeth Keckley. I want her just as soon as she can be
brought here."

Three messengers, it appears, were successively despatched for me, but
all of them mistook the number and failed to find me.

Shortly after entering the room on Saturday morning, Mrs. Welles excused
herself, as she said she must go to her own family, and I was left alone
with Mrs. Lincoln.

She was nearly exhausted with grief, and when she became a little quiet,
I asked and received permission to go into the Guests' Room, where the
body of the President lay in state. When I crossed the threshold of the
room, I could not help recalling the day on which I had seen little
Willie lying in his coffin where the body of his father now lay. I
remembered how the President had wept over the pale beautiful face of
his gifted boy, and now the President himself was dead. The last time I
saw him he spoke kindly to me, but alas! the lips would never move
again. The light had faded from his eyes, and when the light went out
the soul went with it. What a noble soul was his--noble in all the noble
attributes of God! Never did I enter the solemn chamber of death with
such palpitating heart and trembling footsteps as I entered it that day.
No common mortal had died. The Moses of my people had fallen in the hour
of his triumph. Fame had woven her choicest chaplet for his brow. Though
the brow was cold and pale in death, the chaplet should not fade, for
God had studded it with the glory of the eternal stars.

When I entered the room, the members of the Cabinet and many
distinguished officers of the army were grouped around the body of their
fallen chief. They made room for me, and, approaching the body, I lifted
the white cloth from the white face of the man that I had worshipped as
an idol--looked upon as a demi-god. Notwithstanding the violence of the
death of the President, there was something beautiful as well as grandly
solemn in the expression of the placid face. There lurked the sweetness
and gentleness of childhood, and the stately grandeur of godlike
intellect. I gazed long at the face, and turned away with tears in my
eyes and a choking sensation in my throat. Ah! never was man so widely
mourned before. The whole world bowed their heads in grief when Abraham
Lincoln died.

Returning to Mrs. Lincoln's room, I found her in a new paroxysm of
grief. Robert was bending over his mother with tender affection, and
little Tad was crouched at the foot of the bed with a world of agony in
his young face. I shall never forget the scene--the wails of a broken
heart, the unearthly shrieks, the terrible convulsions, the wild,
tempestuous outbursts of grief from the soul. I bathed Mrs. Lincoln's
head with cold water, and soothed the terrible tornado as best I could.
Tad's grief at his father's death was as great as the grief of his
mother, but her terrible outbursts awed the boy into silence. Sometimes
he would throw his arms around her neck, and exclaim, between his broken
sobs, "Don't cry so, Mamma! don't cry, or you will make me cry, too! You
will break my heart."

Mrs. Lincoln could not bear to hear Tad cry, and when he would plead to
her not to break his heart, she would calm herself with a great effort,
and clasp her child in her arms.

Every room in the White House was darkened, and every one spoke in
subdued tones, and moved about with muffled tread. The very atmosphere
breathed of the great sorrow which weighed heavily upon each heart. Mrs.
Lincoln never left her room, and while the body of her husband was being
borne in solemn state from the Atlantic to the broad prairies of the
West, she was weeping with her fatherless children in her private
chamber. She denied admittance to almost every one, and I was her only
companion, except her children, in the days of her great sorrow.

There were many surmises as to who was implicated with J. Wilkes Booth
in the assassination of the President. A new messenger had accompanied
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln to the theatre on that terrible Friday night. It
was the duty of this messenger to stand at the door of the box during
the performance, and thus guard the inmates from all intrusion. It
appears that the messenger was carried away by the play, and so
neglected his duty that Booth gained easy admission to the box. Mrs.
Lincoln firmly believed that this messenger was implicated in the
assassination plot.

One night I was lying on a lounge near the bed occupied by Mrs. Lincoln.
One of the servants entering the room, Mrs. L. asked:

"Who is on watch to-night?"

"The new messenger," was the reply.

"What! the man who attended us to the theatre on the night my dear, good
husband was murdered! He, I believe, is one of the murderers. Tell him
to come in to me."

The messenger had overheard Mrs. Lincoln's words through the half-open
door, and when he came in he was trembling violently.

She turned to him fiercely: "So you are on guard to-night--on guard in
the White House after helping to murder the President!"

"Pardon me, but I did not help to murder the President. I could never
stoop to murder--much less to the murder of so good and great a man as
the President."

"But it appears that you _did_ stoop to murder."

"No, no! don't say that," he broke in. "God knows that I am innocent."

"I don't believe you. Why were you not at the door to keep the assassin
out when he rushed into the box?"

"I did wrong, I admit, and I have bitterly repented it, but I did not
help to kill the President. I did not believe that any one would try to
kill so good a man in such a public place, and the belief made me
careless. I was attracted by the play, and did not see the assassin
enter the box."

"But you should have seen him. You had no business to be careless. I
shall always believe that you are guilty. Hush! I shan't hear another
word," she exclaimed, as the messenger essayed to reply. "Go now and
keep your watch," she added, with an imperious wave of her hand. With
mechanical step and white face the messenger left the room, and Mrs.
Lincoln fell back on her pillow, covered her face with her hands, and
commenced sobbing.

Robert was very tender to his mother in the days of her sorrow.

He suffered deeply, as his haggard face indicated, but he was ever manly
and collected when in the presence of his mother. Mrs. Lincoln was
extremely nervous, and she refused to have anybody about her but myself.
Many ladies called, but she received none of them. Had she been less
secluded in her grief, perhaps she would have had many warmer friends
to-day than she has. But far be it from me to harshly judge the sorrow
of any one. Could the ladies who called to condole with Mrs. Lincoln,
after the death of her husband, and who were denied admittance to her
chamber, have seen how completely prostrated she was with grief, they
would have learned to speak more kindly of her. Often at night, when Tad
would hear her sobbing, he would get up, and come to her bed in his
white sleeping-clothes: "Don't cry, Mamma; I cannot sleep if you cry!
Papa was good, and he has gone to heaven. He is happy there. He is with
God and brother Willie. Don't cry, Mamma, or I will cry too."

The closing appeal always proved the most effectual, as Mrs. Lincoln
could not bear to hear her child cry.

Tad had been petted by his father, but petting could not spoil such a
manly nature as his. He seemed to realize that he was the son of a
President--to realize it in its loftiest and noblest sense. One morning,
while being dressed, he looked up at his nurse, and said: "Pa is dead.
I can hardly believe that I shall never see him again. I must learn to
take care of myself now." He looked thoughtful a moment, then added,
"Yes, Pa is dead, and I am only Tad Lincoln now, little Tad, like other
little boys. I am not a President's son now. I won't have many presents
any more. Well, I will try and be a good boy, and will hope to go some
day to Pa and brother Willie, in heaven." He was a brave, manly child,
and knew that influence had passed out of their hands with the death of
his father, and that his position in life was altered. He seemed to feel
that people petted him, and gave him presents, because they wanted to
please the President of the United States. From that period forward he
became more independent, and in a short time learned to dispense with
the services of a nurse. While in Chicago, I saw him get out his clothes
one Sunday morning and dress himself, and the change was such a great
one to me--for while in the White House, servants obeyed his every nod
and bid--that I could scarcely refrain from shedding tears. Had his
father lived, I knew it would have been different with his favorite boy.
Tad roomed with Robert, and he always took pride in pleasing his

After the Committee had started West with the body of the President,
there was quite a breeze of excitement for a few days as to where the
remains should be interred. Secretary Stanton and others held frequent
conferences with Robert, Mr. Todd, Mrs. Lincoln's cousin, and Dr. Henry,
an old schoolmate and friend of Mr. Lincoln. The city authorities of
Springfield had purchased a beautiful plat of ground in a prosperous
portion of the city, and work was rapidly progressing on the tomb, when
Mrs. Lincoln made strenuous objection to the location. She declared that
she would stop the body in Chicago before it should be laid to rest in
the lot purchased for the purpose by the City of Springfield. She gave
as a reason, that it was her desire to be laid by the side of her
husband when she died, and that such would be out of the question in a
public place of the kind. As is well known, the difficulty was finally
settled by placing the remains of the President in the family vault at
Oak Ridge, a charming spot for the home of the dead.

After the President's funeral Mrs. Lincoln rallied, and began to make
preparations to leave the White House. One day she suddenly exclaimed:
"God, Elizabeth, what a change! Did ever woman have to suffer so much
and experience so great a change? I had an ambition to be Mrs.
President; that ambition has been gratified, and now I must step down
from the pedestal. My poor husband! had he never been President, he
might be living to-day. Alas! all is over with me!"

Folding her arms for a few moments, she rocked back and forth, then
commenced again, more vehemently than ever: "My God, Elizabeth, I can
never go back to Springfield! no, never, until I go in my shroud to be
laid by my dear husband's side, and may Heaven speed that day! I should
like to live for my sons, but life is so full of misery that I would
rather die." And then she would go off into a fit of hysterics.



For five weeks Mrs. Lincoln was confined to her room. Packing afforded
quite a relief, as it so closely occupied us that we had not much time
for lamentation.

Letters of condolence were received from all parts of the country, and
even from foreign potentates, but Mr. Andrew Johnson, the successor of
Mr. Lincoln, never called on the widow, or even so much as wrote a line
expressing sympathy for her grief and the loss of her husband. Robert
called on him one day to tell him that his mother would turn the White
House over to him in a few days, and he never even so much as inquired
after their welfare. Mrs. Lincoln firmly believes that Mr. Johnson was
concerned in the assassination plot.

In packing, Mrs. Lincoln gave away everything intimately connected with
the President, as she said that she could not bear to be reminded of the
past. The articles were given to those who were regarded as the warmest
of Mr. Lincoln's admirers. All of the presents passed through my hands.
The dress that Mrs. Lincoln wore on the night of the assassination was
given to Mrs. Slade, the wife of an old and faithful messenger. The
cloak, stained with the President's blood, was given to me, as also was
the bonnet worn on the same memorable night. Afterwards I received the
comb and brush that Mr. Lincoln used during his residence at the White
House. With this same comb and brush I had often combed his head. When
almost ready to go down to a reception, he would turn to me with a
quizzical look: "Well, Madam Elizabeth, will you brush my bristles down

"Yes, Mr. Lincoln."

Then he would take his seat in an easy-chair, and sit quietly while I
arranged his hair. As may well be imagined, I was only too glad to
accept this comb and brush from the hands of Mrs. Lincoln. The cloak,
bonnet, comb, and brush, the glove worn at the first reception after the
second inaugural, and Mr. Lincoln's over-shoes, also given to me, I have
since donated for the benefit of Wilberforce University, a colored
college near Xenia, Ohio, destroyed by fire on the night that the
President was murdered.

There was much surmise, when Mrs. Lincoln left the White House, what her
fifty or sixty boxes, not to count her score of trunks, could contain.
Had the government not been so liberal in furnishing the boxes, it is
possible that there would have been less demand for so much
transportation. The boxes were loosely packed, and many of them with
articles not worth carrying away. Mrs. Lincoln had a passion for
hoarding old things, believing, with Toodles, that they were "handy to
have about the house."

The bonnets that she brought with her from Springfield, in addition to
every one purchased during her residence in Washington, were packed in
the boxes, and transported to Chicago. She remarked that she might find
use for the material some day, and it was prudent to look to the future.
I am sorry to say that Mrs. Lincoln's foresight in regard to the future
was only confined to cast-off clothing, as she owed, at the time of the
President's death, different store bills amounting to seventy thousand
dollars. Mr. Lincoln knew nothing of these bills, and the only happy
feature of his assassination was that he died in ignorance of them. Had
he known to what extent his wife was involved, the fact would have
embittered the only pleasant moments of his life. I disclose this secret
in regard to Mrs. Lincoln's debts, in order to explain why she should
subsequently have labored under pecuniary embarrassment. The children,
as well as herself, had received a vast number of presents during Mr.
Lincoln's administration, and these presents constituted a large item in
the contents of the boxes. The only article of furniture, so far as I
know, taken away from the White House by Mrs. Lincoln, was a little
dressing-stand used by the President. I recollect hearing him say one

"Mother, this little stand is so handy, and suits me so well, that I do
not know how I shall get along without it when we move away from here."
He was standing before a mirror, brushing his hair, when he made the

"Well, father," Mrs. Lincoln replied, "if you like the stand so well, we
will take it with us when we go away."

"Not for the world," he exclaimed; but she interrupted him:

"I should like to know what difference it makes if we put a better one
in its place."

"That alters the question. If you will put a stand in its place worth
twice as much as this one, and the Commissioner consents, then I have no

Mrs. Lincoln remembered these words, and, with the consent of the
Commissioner, took the stand to Chicago with her for the benefit of
little Tad. Another stand, I must not forget to add, was put in its

It is charged that a great deal of furniture was lost from the White
House during Mr. Lincoln's occupation of it. Very true, and it can be
accounted for in this way: In some respects, to put the case very
plainly, Mrs. Lincoln was "penny wise and pound foolish." When she moved
into the White House, she discharged the Steward, whose business it was
to look after the affairs of the household. When the Steward was
dismissed, there was no one to superintend affairs, and the servants
carried away many pieces of furniture. In this manner the furniture
rapidly disappeared.

Robert was frequently in the room where the boxes were being packed, and
he tried without avail to influence his mother to set fire to her vast
stores of old goods. "What are you going to do with that old dress,
mother?" he would ask.

"Never mind, Robert, I will find use for it. You do not understand this

"And what is more, I hope I never may understand it. I wish to heaven
the car would take fire in which you place these boxes for
transportation to Chicago, and burn all of your old plunder up;" and
then, with an impatient gesture, he would turn on his heel and leave the

"Robert is so impetuous," his mother would say to me, after the closing
of the door. "He never thinks about the future. Well, I hope that he
will get over his boyish notions in time."

Many of the articles that Mrs. Lincoln took away from the White House
were given, after her arrival in Chicago, for the benefit of charity

At last everything was packed, and the day for departure for the West
came. I can never forget that day; it was so unlike the day when the
body of the President was borne from the hall in grand and solemn state.
Then thousands gathered to bow the head in reverence as the plumed
hearse drove down the line. There was all the pomp of military
display--drooping flags, battalions with reversed arms, and bands
playing dirge-like airs. Now, the wife of the President was leaving the
White House, and there was scarcely a friend to tell her good-by. She
passed down the public stairway, entered her carriage, and quietly drove
to the depot where we took the cars. The silence was almost painful.

It had been arranged that I should go to Chicago. When Mrs. Lincoln
first suggested her plan, I strongly objected; but I had been with her
so long, that she had acquired great power over me.

"I cannot go West with you, Mrs. Lincoln," I said, when the idea was
first advanced.

"But you must go to Chicago with me, Elizabeth; I cannot do without

"You forget my business, Mrs. Lincoln. I cannot leave it. Just now I
have the spring trousseau to make for Mrs. Douglas, and I have promised
to have it done in less than a week."

"Never mind. Mrs. Douglas can get some one else to make her trousseau.
You may find it to your interest to go. I am very poor now, but if
Congress makes an appropriation for my benefit, you shall be well

"It is not the reward, but--" I commenced, by way of reply, but she
stopped me:

"Now don't say another word about it, if you do not wish to distress me.
I have determined that you shall go to Chicago with me, and you _must_

When Mrs. Douglas learned that Mrs. Lincoln wished me to accompany her
West, she sent me word:

"Never mind me. Do all you can for Mrs. Lincoln. My heart's sympathy is
with her."

Finding that no excuse would be accepted, I made preparations to go to
Chicago with Mrs. L.

The green car had specially been chartered for us, and in this we were
conveyed to the West. Dr. Henry accompanied us, and he was remarkably
attentive and kind. The first night out, Mrs. Lincoln had a severe
headache; and while I was bathing her temples, she said to me:

"Lizabeth, you are my best and kindest friend, and I love you as my best
friend. I wish it were in my power to make you comfortable for the
balance of your days. If Congress provides for me, depend upon it, I
will provide for you."

The trip was devoid of interest. We arrived in Chicago without accident
or delay, and apartments were secured for us at the Tremont House, where
we remained one week. At the expiration of this time Mrs. Lincoln
decided that living at the hotel was attended with too much expense, so
it was arranged that we should go to the country. Rooms were selected at
Hyde Park, a summer resort.

Robert and Tad accompanied their mother to Hyde Park. We arrived about 3
o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday. The place had just been opened the
summer before, and there was a newness about everything. The
accommodations were not first-class, the rooms being small and plainly
furnished. It was a lively day for us all. Robert occupied himself
unpacking his books, and arranging them on the shelves in the corner of
his small but neat room. I assisted him, he talking pleasantly all the
while. When we were through, he folded his arms, stood off a little
distance from the mantel, with an abstracted look as if he were thinking
of the great change in his fortunes--contrasting the present with the
past. Turning to me, he asked: "Well, Mrs. Keckley, how do you like our
new quarters?"

"This is a delightful place, and I think you will pass your time
pleasantly," I answered.

He looked at me with a quizzical smile, then remarked: "You call it a
delightful place! Well, perhaps it is. Since you do not have to stay
here, you can safely say as much about the charming situation as you
please. I presume that I must put up with it, as mother's pleasure must
be consulted before my own. But candidly, I would almost as soon be
dead as be compelled to remain three months in this dreary house."

He seemed to feel what he said, and going to the window, he looked out
upon the view with moody countenance. I passed into Mrs. Lincoln's room,
and found her lying upon the bed, sobbing as if her heart would break.

"What a dreary place, Lizzie! And to think that I should be compelled to
live here, because I have not the means to live elsewhere. Ah! what a
sad change has come to us all." I had listened to her sobbing for eight
weeks, therefore I was never surprised to find her in tears. Tad was the
only cheerful one of the party. He was a child of sunshine, and nothing
seemed to dampen the ardor of his spirits.

Sunday was a very quiet day. I looked out of my window in the morning,
upon the beautiful lake that formed one of the most delightful views
from the house. The wind was just strong enough to ripple the broad
bosom of the water, and each ripple caught a jewel from the sunshine,
and threw it sparkling up towards the sky. Here and there a sail-boat
silently glided into view, or sank below the faint blue line that marked
the horizon--glided and melted away like the spectral shadows that
sometimes haunt the white snow-fields in the cold, tranquil light of a
winter's moon. As I stood by my window that morning, looking out upon
the lake, my thoughts were etherealized--the reflected sunbeams
suggested visions of crowns studded with the jewels of eternal life, and
I wondered how any one could call Hyde Park a dreary place. I had seen
so much trouble in my life, that I was willing to fold my arms and sink
into a passive slumber--slumber anywhere, so the great longing of the
soul was gratified--rest.

Robert spent the day in his room with his books, while I remained in
Mrs. Lincoln's room, talking with her, contrasting the present with the
past, and drawing plans for the future. She held no communication, by
letter or otherwise, with any of her relatives or old friends, saying
that she wished to lead a secluded life for the summer. Old faces, she
claimed, would only bring back memories of scenes that she desired to
forget; and new faces, she felt assured, could not sympathize with her
distress, or add to the comforts of her situation.

On Monday morning, Robert was getting ready to ride into Chicago, as
business called him to the city.

"Where you goin', brother Bob?"--Tad generally called Robert, brother

"Only into town!" was the brief reply.

"Mayn't I go with you?"

"Ask mother. I think that she will say no."

Just then Mrs. Lincoln came in, and Tad ran to her, with the eager

"Oh, Ma! can't I go to town with brother Bob? I want to go so badly."

"Go to town! No; you must stay and keep me company. Besides, I have
determined that you shall get a lesson every day, and I am going to
commence to-day with you."

"I don't want to get a lesson--I won't get a lesson," broke in the
impetuous boy. "I don't want to learn my book; I want to go to town!"

"I suppose you want to grow up to be a great dunce. Hush, Tad; you shall
not go to town until you have said a lesson;" and the mother looked

"May I go after I learn my book?" was the next question.

"Yes; if Robert will wait for you."

"Oh, Bob will wait; won't you, Bob?"

"No, I cannot wait; but the landlord is going in this afternoon, and you
can go with him. You must do as mother tells you, Tad. You are getting
to be a big boy now, and must start to school next fall; and you would
not like to go to school without knowing how to read."

"Where's my book, Ma? Get my book quick. I will say my lesson," and he
jumped about the room, boisterously, boy-like.

"Be quiet, Tad. Here is your book, and we will now begin the first
lesson," said his mother, as she seated herself in an easy-chair.

Tad had always been much humored by his parents, especially by his
father. He suffered from a slight impediment in his speech, and had
never been made to go to school; consequently his book knowledge was
very limited. I knew that his education had been neglected, but had no
idea he was so deficient as the first lesson at Hyde Park proved him to

Drawing a low chair to his mother's side, he opened his book, and began
to slowly spell the first word, "A-P-E."

"Well, what does A-p-e spell?"

"Monkey," was the instant rejoinder. The word was illustrated by a small
wood-cut of an ape, which looked to Tad's eyes very much like a monkey;
and his pronunciation was guided by the picture, and not by the sounds
of the different letters.

"Nonsense!" exclaimed his mother. "A-p-e does not spell monkey."

"Does spell monkey! Isn't that a monkey?" and Tad pointed triumphantly
to the picture.

"No, it is not a monkey."

"Not a monkey! what is it, then?"

"An ape."

"An ape! 'taint an ape. Don't I know a monkey when I see it?"

"No, if you say that is a monkey."

"I do know a monkey. I've seen lots of them in the street with the
organs. I know a monkey better than you do, 'cause I always go out into
the street to see them when they come by, and you don't."

"But, Tad, listen to me. An ape is a species of the monkey. It looks
like a monkey, but it is not a monkey."

"It shouldn't look like a monkey, then. Here, Yib"--he always called me
Yib--"isn't this a monkey, and don't A-p-e spell monkey? Ma don't know
anything about it;" and he thrust his book into my face in an earnest,
excited manner.

I could not longer restrain myself, and burst out laughing. Tad looked
very much offended, and I hastened to say: "I beg your pardon, Master
Tad; I hope that you will excuse my want of politeness."

He bowed his head in a patronizing way, and returned to the original
question: "Isn't this a monkey? Don't A-p-e spell monkey?"

"No, Tad; your mother is right. A-p-e spells ape."

"You don't know as much as Ma. Both of you don't know anything;" and
Master Tad's eyes flashed with indignation.

Robert entered the room, and the question was referred to him. After
many explanations, he succeeded in convincing Tad that A-p-e does not
spell monkey, and the balance of the lesson was got over with less

Whenever I think of this incident I am tempted to laugh; and then it
occurs to me that had Tad been a negro boy, not the son of a President,
and so difficult to instruct, he would have been called thick-skulled,
and would have been held up as an example of the inferiority of race. I
know many full negro boys, able to read and write, who are not older
than Tad Lincoln was when he persisted that A-p-e spelt monkey. Do not
imagine that I desire to reflect upon the intellect of little Tad. Not
at all; he is a bright boy, a son that will do honor to the genius and
greatness of his father; I only mean to say that some incidents are
about as damaging to one side of the question as to the other. If a
colored boy appears dull, so does a white boy sometimes; and if a whole
race is judged by a single example of apparent dulness, another race
should be judged by a similar example.

I returned to Washington, with Mrs. Lincoln's best wishes for my success
in business. The journey was devoid of incident. After resting a few
days, I called at the White House, and transacted some business for Mrs.
Lincoln. I had no desire to enter the house, for everything about it
bitterly reminded me of the past; and when I came out of the door, I
hoped that I had crossed the threshold for the last time. I was asked by
some of my friends if I had sent my business cards to Mr. Johnson's
family, and my answer was that I had not, as I had no desire to work for
the President's family. Mr. Johnson was no friend to Mr. Lincoln, and he
had failed to treat Mrs. Lincoln, in the hour of her greatest sorrow,
with even common courtesy.

Having promised to make a spring trousseau for Mrs. Senator Douglas as
soon as I should return from Chicago, I called on her to meet the
engagement. She appeared pleased to see me, and in greeting me, asked,
with evident surprise:

"Why, Keckley"--she always called me Keckley--"is this you? I did not
know you were coming back. It was reported that you designed remaining
with Mrs. Lincoln all summer."

"Mrs. Lincoln would have been glad to have kept me with her had she been

"Able! What do you mean by that?"

"Simply this: Already she is laboring under pecuniary embarrassment, and
was only able to pay my expenses, and allow me nothing for my time."

"You surprise me. I thought she was left in good circumstances."

"So many think, it appears. Mrs. Lincoln, I assure you, is now
practising the closest economy. I must do something for myself, Mrs.
Douglas, so I have come back to Washington to open my shop."

The next day I collected my assistants, and my business went on as
usual. Orders came in more rapidly than I could fill them. One day, in
the middle of the month of June, the girl who was attending the door
came into the cutting-room, where I was hard at work:

"Mrs. Keckley, there is a lady below, who wants to see you."

"Who is she?"

"I don't know. I did not learn her name."

"Is her face familiar? Does she look like a regular customer?"

"No, she is a stranger. I don't think she was ever here before. She came
in an open carriage, with a black woman for an attendant."

"It may be the wife of one of Johnson's new secretaries. Do go down,
Mrs. Keckley," exclaimed my work-girls in a chorus. I went below, and on
entering the parlor, a plainly dressed lady rose to her feet, and asked:

"Is this the dressmaker?"

"Yes, I am a dressmaker."

"Mrs. Keckley?"


"Mrs. Lincoln's former dressmaker, were you not?"

"Yes, I worked for Mrs. Lincoln."

"Are you very busy now?"

"Very, indeed."

"Can you do anything for me?"

"That depends upon what is to be done, and when it is to be done."

"Well, say one dress now, and several others a few weeks later."

"I can make one dress for you now, but no more. I cannot finish the one
for you in less than three weeks."

"That will answer. I am Mrs. Patterson, the daughter of President
Johnson. I expect my sister, Mrs. Stover, here in three weeks, and the
dress is for her. We are both the same size, and you can fit the dress
to me."

The terms were satisfactorily arranged, and after measuring Mrs.
Patterson, she bade me good morning, entered her carriage, and drove

When I went up-stairs into the work-room, the girls were anxious to
learn who my visitor was.

"It was Mrs. Patterson, the daughter of President Johnson," I answered,
in response to several questions.

"What! the daughter of our good Moses. Are you going to work for her?"

"I have taken her order."

"I fear that Johnson will prove a poor Moses, and I would not work for
any of the family," remarked one of the girls. None of them appeared to
like Mr. Lincoln's successor.

I finished the dress for Mrs. Patterson, and it gave satisfaction. I
afterwards learned that both Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Stover were
kindhearted, plain, unassuming women, making no pretensions to elegance.
One day when I called at the White House, in relation to some work that
I was doing for them, I found Mrs. Patterson busily at work with a
sewing-machine. The sight was a novel one to me for the White House, for
as long as I remained with Mrs. Lincoln, I do not recollect ever having
seen her with a needle in her hand. The last work done for the Johnsons
by me were two dresses, one for each of the sisters. Mrs. Patterson
subsequently wrote me a note, requesting me to cut and fit a dress for
her; to which I replied that I never cut and fitted work to be made up
outside of my work-room. This brought our business relations to an
abrupt end.

The months passed, and my business prospered. I continually received
letters from Mrs. Lincoln, and as the anniversary of her husband's death
approached, she wrote in a sadder strain. Before I left Chicago she had
exacted the promise that should Congress make an appropriation for her
benefit, I must join her in the West, and go with her to visit the tomb
of the President for the first time. The appropriation was made one of
the conditions of my visit, for without relief from Congress she would
be unable to bear my expenses. The appropriation was not made; and so I
was unable to join Mrs. Lincoln at the appointed time. She wrote me that
her plan was to leave Chicago in the morning with Tad, reach Springfield
at night, stop at one of the hotels, drive out to Oak Ridge the next
day, and take the train for Chicago the same evening, thus avoiding a
meeting with any of her old friends. This plan, as she afterwards wrote
me, was carried out. When the second anniversary approached, President
Johnson and party were "swinging round the circle," and as they were to
visit Chicago, she was especially anxious to be away from the city when
they should arrive; accordingly she hurried off to Springfield, and
spent the time in weeping over the tomb where repose the hallowed ashes
of her husband.

During all this time I was asked many questions about Mrs. Lincoln, some
prompted by friendship, but a greater number by curiosity; but my brief
answers, I fear, were not always accepted as the most satisfactory.



Mrs. Lincoln from her girlhood up had an ambition to become the wife of
a President. When a little girl, as I was told by one of her sisters,
she was disposed to be a little noisy at times, and was self-willed. One
day she was romping about the room, making more noise than the nerves of
her grandmother could stand. The old lady looked over her spectacles,
and said, in a commanding tone:

"Sit down, Mary. Do be quiet. What on earth do you suppose will become
of you if you go on this way?"

"Oh, I will be the wife of a President some day," carelessly answered
the petted child.

Mrs. Lincoln, as Miss Mary Todd, was quite a belle in Springfield,
Illinois, and from all accounts she was fond of flirting. She generally
managed to keep a half-dozen gentlemen biting at the hook that she
baited so temptingly for them. The world, if I mistake not, are not
aware that the rivalry between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stephen A. Douglas
commenced over the hand of Miss Mary Todd. The young lady was ambitious,
and she smiled more sweetly upon Mr. Douglas and Mr. Lincoln than any of
her other admirers, as they were regarded as rising men. She played her
part so well that neither of the rivals for a long time could tell who
would win the day. Mr. Douglas first proposed for her hand, and she
discarded him. The young man urged his suit boldly:

"Mary, you do not know what you are refusing. You have always had an
ambition to become the wife of a President of the United States. Pardon
the egotism, but I fear that in refusing my hand to-night you have
thrown away your best chance to ever rule in the White House."

"I do not understand you, Mr. Douglas."

"Then I will speak more plainly. You know, Mary, that I am ambitious
like yourself, and something seems to whisper in my ear, 'You will be
President some day.' Depend upon it, I shall make a stubborn fight to
win the proud position."

"You have my best wishes, Mr. Douglas; still I cannot consent to be your
wife. I shall become Mrs. President, or I am the victim of false
prophets, but it will not be as Mrs. Douglas."

I have this little chapter in a romantic history from the lips of Mrs.
Lincoln herself.

At one of the receptions at the White House, shortly after the first
inauguration, Mrs. Lincoln joined in the promenade with Senator Douglas.
He was holding a bouquet that had been presented to her, and as they
moved along he said:

"Mary, it reminds me of old times to have you lean upon my arm."

"You refer to the days of our youth. I must do you the credit, Mr.
Douglas, to say, that you were a gallant beau."

"Not only a beau, but a lover. Do you remember the night our flirtation
was brought to an end?"

"Distinctly. You now see that I was right. I am Mrs. President, but not
Mrs. Douglas."

"True, you have reached the goal before me, but I do not despair. Mrs.
Douglas--a nobler woman does not live--if I am spared, may possibly
succeed you as Mrs. President."

A few evenings after Mr. Douglas had been discarded, Mr. Lincoln made a
formal proposal for the hand of Miss Todd, but it appears that the young
lady was not willing to capitulate at once. She believed that she could
send her lover adrift to-day and win him back to-morrow.

"You are bold, Mr. Lincoln."

"Love makes me bold."

"You honor me, pardon me, but I cannot consent to be your wife."

"Is this your final answer, Miss Todd?" and the suitor rose nervously to
his feet.

"I do not often jest, Mr. Lincoln. Why should I reconsider to-morrow my
decision of to-day."

"Excuse me. Your answer is sufficient. I was led to hope that I might
become dearer to you than a friend, but the hope, it seems, has proved
an idle one. I have the honor to say good night, Miss Todd," and pale,
yet calm, Mr. Lincoln bowed himself out of the room.

He rushed to his office in a frantic state of mind. Dr. Henry, his most
intimate friend, happened to come in, and was surprised to see the young
lawyer walking the floor in an agitated manner.

"What is the matter, Lincoln? You look desperate."

"Matter! I am sick of the world. It is a heartless, deceitful world, and
I care not how soon I am out of it."

"You rave. What has happened? Have you been quarrelling with your

"Quarrel! I wish to God it was a quarrel, for then I could look forward
to reconciliation; the girl has refused to become my wife, after leading
me to believe that she loved me. She is a heartless coquette."

"Don't give up the conquest so easily. Cheer up, man, you may succeed
yet. Perhaps she is only testing your love."

"No! I believe that she is going to marry Douglas. If she does I will
blow my brains out."

"Nonsense! That would not mend matters. Your brains were given to you
for different use. Come, we will go to your room now. Go to bed and
sleep on the question, and you will get up feeling stronger to-morrow;"
and Dr. Henry took the arm of his friend Lincoln, led him home, and saw
him safely in bed.

The next morning the doctor called at Mr. Lincoln's room, and found that
his friend had passed a restless night. Excitement had brought on fever,
which threatened to assume a violent form, as the cause of the
excitement still remained. Several days passed, and Mr. Lincoln was
confined to his bed. Dr. Henry at once determined to call on Miss Todd,
and find out how desperate the case was. Miss Todd was glad to see him,
and she was deeply distressed to learn that Mr. Lincoln was ill. She
wished to go to him at once, but the Doctor reminded her that she was
the cause of his illness. She frankly acknowledged her folly, saying
that she only desired to test the sincerity of Mr. Lincoln's love, that
he was the idol of her heart, and that she would become his wife.

The Doctor returned with joyful news to his patient. The intelligence
proved the best remedy for the disease. Mutual explanations followed,
and in a few months Mr. Lincoln led Miss Todd to the altar in triumph.

I learned these facts from Dr. Henry and Mrs. Lincoln. I believe them to
be facts, and as such have recorded them. They do not agree with Mr.
Herndon's story, that Mr. Lincoln never loved but one woman, and that
woman was Ann Rutledge; but then Mr. Herndon's story must be looked upon
as a pleasant piece of fiction. When it appeared, Mrs. Lincoln felt
shocked that one who pretended to be the friend of her dead husband
should deliberately seek to blacken his memory. Mr. Lincoln was far too
honest a man to marry a woman that he did not love. He was a kind and an
indulgent husband, and when he saw faults in his wife he excused them as
he would excuse the impulsive acts of a child. In fact, Mrs. Lincoln was
never more pleased than when the President called her his child-wife.

Before closing this rambling chapter I desire to refer to another

After the death of my son, Miss Mary Welsh, a dear friend, one of my old
St. Louis patrons, called to see me, and on broaching the cause of my
grief, she condoled with me. She knew that I had looked forward to the
day when my son would be a support to me--knew that he was to become the
prop and main-stay of my old age, and knowing this, she advised me to
apply for a pension. I disliked the idea very much, and told her
so--told her that I did not want to make money out of his death. She
explained away all of my objections--argued that Congress had made an
appropriation for the specific purpose of giving a pension to every
widow who should lose an only son in the war, and insisted that I should
have my rights. She was so enthusiastic in the matter that she went to
see Hon. Owen Lovejoy, then a member of the House from Illinois, and
laid my case before him. Mr. Lovejoy was very kind, and said as I was
entitled to the pension, I should have it, even if he had to bring the
subject before Congress. I did not desire public agitation, and Mr.
Lovejoy prepared my claim and laid it before the Commissioners. In the
meantime he left Washington, and Mr. Joseph Lovejoy, his brother,
prosecuted the claim for me, and finally succeeded in securing me a
pension of eight dollars per month. Mr. Joseph Lovejoy was inclined to
the Democratic party, and he pressed my claim with great earnestness; he
hoped that the claim would not be allowed, as he said the rejection of
it would make capital for his party. Nevertheless the pension was
granted, and I am none the less thankful to Mr. Joseph Lovejoy for his
kindness to me, and interest in my welfare.



In order to introduce a pleasant chapter of my life, I must take a
slight retrospective glance. Mrs. Ann[e] Garland, the mistress from whom
I purchased my freedom in St. Louis, had five daughters, all lovely,
attractive girls. I used to take pride in dressing the two eldest, Miss
Mary and Miss Carrie, for parties. Though the family labored under
pecuniary embarrassment, I worked for these two young girls, and they
were always able to present a good appearance in society. They were much
admired, and both made the best matches of the season. Miss Mary married
Dr. Pappan, and Miss Carrie, Dr. John Farrow. I loved them both
tenderly, and they were warmly attached to me. Both are now dead, and
when the death-film was gathering in the eyes, each called for me and
asked to die in my arms. Miss Carrie did not long survive her sister,
and I wept many tears over the death-beds of the two lovely flowers that
had blossomed so sweetly beneath my eyes. Each breathed her last in the
arms that had sheltered them so often in the bright rosy period of life.
My mother took care of my son, and Miss Nannie Garland, the fourth
daughter, when a wee thing, became my especial charge. She slept in my
bed, and I watched over her as if she had been my own child. She called
me Yiddie, and I could not have loved her more tenderly had she been the
sister of my unfortunate boy. She was about twelve years old when I
purchased my freedom, and resigned my charge to other hands. After Mr.
Garland's death, the widow moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and I lost
sight of the family for a few years. My mother accompanied them to
Vicksburg, where she died. I made two visits to Vicksburg as a free
woman, the object of my second visit being to look after the few
effects left by my mother. As I did not visit my mother's grave at the
time, the Garlands were much surprised, but I offered no explanation.
The reason is not difficult to understand. My mother was buried in a
public ground, and the marks of her grave, as I learned, were so obscure
that the spot could not be readily designated. To look upon a grave, and
not feel certain whose ashes repose beneath the sod, is painful, and the
doubt which mystifies you, weakens the force, if not the purity, of the
love-offering from the heart. Memory preserved a sunny picture of my
mother's face, and I did not wish to weave sombre threads--threads
suggestive of a deserted grave-yard--into it, and thus impair its
beauty. After spending a few weeks with the family, I returned to St.
Louis, and then came North. The war broke out, and I lost all trace of
the Garlands. Often, during my residence in Washington, I recalled the
past, and wondered what had become of those who claimed my first duty
and my first love. When I would mention their names and express interest
in their welfare, my Northern friends would roll up their eyes in

"Why, Lizzie, how can you have a kind thought for those who inflicted a
terrible wrong upon you by keeping you in bondage?" they would ask.

"You forget the past is dear to every one, for to the past belongs that
golden period, the days of childhood. The past is a mirror that reflects
the chief incidents of my life. To surrender it is to surrender the
greatest part of my existence--early impressions, friends, and the
graves of my father, my mother, and my son. These people are associated
with everything that memory holds dear, and so long as memory proves
faithful, it is but natural that I should sigh to see them once more."

"But they have forgotten you. They are too selfish to give a single
thought to you, now that you no longer are their slave."

"Perhaps so, but I cannot believe it. You do not know the Southern
people as well as I do--how warm is the attachment between master and

My Northern friends could not understand the feeling, therefore
explanation was next to useless. They would listen with impatience, and
remark at the close, with a shrug of the shoulders, "You have some
strange notions, Lizzie."

In the fall of 1865 a lady called on me at my apartments in Washington.
Her face looked familiar, but I could not place her. When I entered the
room, she came towards me eagerly:

"You are surprised to see me, I know. I am just from Lynchburg, and when
I left cousin Ann[e] I promised to call and see you if I came to
Washington. I am here, you see, according to promise."

I was more bewildered than ever.

"Cousin Ann[e]! Pardon me--"

"Oh, I see you do not recognize me. I am Mrs. General Longstreet, but
you knew me when a girl as Bettie Garland."

"Bettie Garland! And is this indeed you? I am so glad to see you. Where
does Miss Ann[e] live now?" I always called my last mistress, Miss

"Ah! I thought you could not forget old friends. Cousin Ann[e] is living
in Lynchburg. All the family are in Virginia. They moved to the old
State during the war. Fannie is dead. Nannie has grown into a woman and
is married to General Meem. Hugh was killed in the war, and now only
Spot, Maggie, and Nannie are left."

"Fannie, dead! and poor Hugh! You bring sad news as well as pleasant.
And so my little pet is married? I can hardly believe it; she was only a
child when I saw her last."

"Yes, Nannie is married to a noble man. General Meem belongs to one of
the best families in Virginia. They are now living at Rude's Hill, up
beyond Winchester, in the Shenandoah Valley. All of them want to see you
very badly."

"I should be delighted to go to them. Miss Bettie, I can hardly realize
that you are the wife of General Longstreet; and just think, you are now
sitting in the very chair and the very room where Mrs. Lincoln has often

She laughed: "The change is a great one, Lizzie; we little dream to-day
what to-morrow will bring forth. Well, we must take a philosophical view
of life. After fighting so long against the Yankees, General Longstreet
is now in Washington, sueing for pardon, and we propose to live in
peace with the United States again."

I had many questions to ask her about old friends, and the time passed
rapidly. She greeted me with the frankness that she had always extended
to me, and I was transported to days of the long-ago. Her stay in
Washington was brief, as the General arranged his business, and they
left the capital the next day.

Mrs. Longstreet gave me the Garlands' address, and I wrote to them,
expressing the hope that I would be able to see them before long. In
reply came letters full of tender sympathy and affection. In the winter
of 1865, Miss Nannie wrote to me that she had the best husband in the
world; that they designed going to housekeeping in the spring, and that
they would be glad to have me make them a visit in July, 1866. She sent
me a pressing invitation. "You must come to me, dear Lizzie," she wrote.
"We are now living at Rude's Hill. I am dying to see you. Ma, Maggie,
Spot, and Minnie, sister Mary's child, are with me, and you only are
needed to make the circle complete. Come; I will not take no for an

I was anxious to go myself, and when I received the urgent invitation I
concluded to go at once, and I wrote them to expect me in August. On the
10th of August I left Washington for Virginia, taking the train for
Harper's Ferry. The journey was attended with several disappointments.
We arrived at Harper's Ferry in the night, and being asleep at the time,
I was carried to the station beyond, where I had to wait and take the
return train. After returning to Harper's Ferry, where I changed cars
for Winchester, I missed the train, and was detained another day. From
Winchester the only way to reach Rude's Hill was by a line of stages. We
commenced the weary drive in the evening, and rode all night. A young
gentleman in the stage said that he knew General Meem well, and that he
would tell me when we reached the place. Relying upon him, I went to
sleep, and it appears that the polite young gentleman followed my
example. About four o'clock in the morning one of the passengers shook
me, and asked:

"Aunty, don't you want to get out at Rude's Hill?"

I started up, rubbing my eyes. "Yes. Are we there?"

"More than there. We have passed it."

"Passed it!"

"Yes. It is six miles back. You should not sleep so soundly, Aunty."

"Why _did_ you not tell me sooner? I am _so_ anxious to be there."

"Fact is, I forgot it. Never mind. Get out at this village, and you can
find conveyance back."

The village, New Market, was in a dilapidated condition; everything
about it spoke plainly of the sad destruction of war. Getting out of the
stage I went into a house, by courtesy named a hotel, where I obtained a
cup of coffee.

"Is there no conveyance from here to Rude's Hill?" I asked.

"Yes; the stage returns this evening," answered the landlord.

"This evening! I want to go as soon as possible. I should die if I had
to stay all day in this lonely place."

A colored man behind the bar, seeing how earnest I was, came forward,
and informed me that he would drive me over to General Meem's place in
an hour. This was joyful news, and I urged him to get ready to start as
soon as possible.

While standing in the door of the hotel, impatiently waiting for my
colored friend to drive round with his little wagon, a fat old lady
waddled across the street and greeted me.

"Ain't you Lizzie?"

"Yes," I answered, surprised that she should know my name.

"I thought so. They have been expecting you at Rude's Hill every day for
two weeks, and they do but little but talk about you. Mrs. Meem was in
town yesterday, and she said that she expected you this week certain.
They will be mighty glad to see you. Why, will you believe it! they
actually have kept a light burning in the front window every night for
ten nights, in order that you might not go by the place should you
arrive in the night."

"Thank you. It is pleasant to know that I am expected. I fell asleep in
the stage, and failed to see the light, so am here instead of at Rude's

Just then the colored man drove up with the wagon, and I got in with
him, and was soon on the road to General Meem's country-seat.

As we drove up to Rude's Hill, I observed a young man standing in the
yard, and believing it to be Spot, whom I had not seen for eight years,
I beckoned to him. With an exclamation of joy, he came running towards
me. His movements attracted the attention of the family, and in a minute
the door was crowded with anxious, inquiring faces. "It is Lizzie! It is
Lizzie!" was the happy cry from all parties. In my eagerness to get to
them, I stepped from the wagon to the top of the stile, intending to
make a triumphant leap into the yard; but, alas! my exultation was
brief. My hoop-skirt caught on one of the posts, and I fell sprawling
into the yard. Spot reached me first and picked me up, only to put me
into the arms of Miss Nannie, her sister Maggie, and Mrs. Garland. Could
my friends of the North have seen that meeting, they would never have
doubted again that the mistress had any affection for her former slave.
I was carried to the house in triumph. In the parlor I was divested of
my things, and placed in an easy-chair before a bright fire. The
servants looked on in amazement.

"Lizzie, you are not changed a bit. You look as young as when you left
us in St. Louis, years ago," and Mrs. Meem, my foster child, kissed me

"Here, Lizzie, this is Minnie, Minnie Pappan, sister Mary's child.
Hasn't she grown?" and Miss Maggie led a tall, queenly lady up to me.

"Minnie! Poor dear Miss Mary's child! I can hardly believe it. She was
only a baby when I saw her last. It makes me feel old to see how large
she has grown. Miss Minnie, you are larger than--your mother was--your
dear mother whom I held in my arms when she died;" and I brushed a tear
from each of my eyes.

"Have you had your breakfast, Lizzie?" asked Mrs. Garland.

"No, she has not," exclaimed her children in a chorus. "I will get her
breakfast for her," and Nannie, Maggie, and Minnie started for the

"It is not necessary that all should go," said Mrs. Garland. "Here is
the cook, she will get breakfast ready."

But the three did not heed her. All rushed to the kitchen, and soon
brought me a nice hot breakfast.

While I was eating, the cook remarked: "I declar, I nebber did see
people carry on so. Wonder if I should go off and stay two or three
years, if all ob you wud hug and kiss me so when I cum back?"

After I had finished my breakfast, General Meem came in. He greeted me
warmly. "Lizzie, I am very glad to see you. I feel that you are an old
acquaintance, I have heard so much of you through my wife, her sister,
and her mother. Welcome to Rude's Hill."

I was much pleased with his appearance, and closer acquaintance proved
him to be a model gentleman.

Rude's Hill, during the war, was once occupied by General Stonewall
Jackson for his head-quarters, which gave more than ordinary interest to
the place. The location was delightful, but the marks of war could be
seen everywhere on the plantation. General Meem was engaged in planting,
and he employed a large number of servants to assist him in his work.
About a mile from Rude's Hill was Mount Airy, the elegant country-seat
of the General's brother. The two families visited each other a great
deal, and as both entertained plenty of company, the Autumn months
passed pleasantly. I was comfortably quartered at Rude's Hill, and was
shown every attention. We sewed together, talking of old times, and
every day either drove out, or rode on horseback. The room in which I
sat in the daytime was the room that General Jackson always slept in,
and people came from far and near to look at it. General Jackson was the
ideal soldier of the Southern people, and they worshipped him as an
idol. Every visitor would tear a splinter from the walls or windows of
the room, to take away and treasure as a priceless relic.

It did not take me long to discover that I was an object of great
curiosity in the neighborhood. My association with Mrs. Lincoln, and my
attachment for the Garlands, whose slave I had once been, clothed me
with romantic interest.

Colonel Harry Gilmore, well known as a partisan leader in Maryland and
Virginia during the war, was a frequent visitor at Mount Airy and Rude's
Hill. One day I accompanied a party to a tournament, and General Meem
laughed pleasantly over the change that had come to me in so short a

"Why, Lizzie, you are riding with Colonel Gilmore. Just think of the
change from Lincoln to Gilmore! It sounds like a dream. But then the
change is an evidence of the peaceful feeling of this country; a change,
I trust, that augurs brighter days for us all."

I had many long talks with Mrs. Garland, in one of which I asked what
had become of the only sister of my mother, formerly maid to Mrs. G's

"She is dead, Lizzie. Has been dead for some years. A maid in the old
time meant something different from what we understand by a maid at the
present time. Your aunt used to scrub the floor and milk a cow now and
then, as well as attend to the orders of my mother. My mother was severe
with her slaves in some respects, but then her heart was full of
kindness. She had your aunt punished one day, and not liking her
sorrowful look, she made two extravagant promises in order to effect a
reconciliation, both of which were accepted. On condition that her maid
would look cheerful, and be good and friendly with her, the mistress
told her she might go to church the following Sunday, and that she would
give her a silk dress to wear on the occasion. Now my mother had but one
silk dress in the world, silk not being so plenty in those days as it is
now, and yet she gave this dress to her maid to make friends with her.
Two weeks afterward mother was sent for to spend the day at a neighbor's
house, and on inspecting her wardrobe, discovered that she had no dress
fit to wear in company. She had but one alternative, and that was to
appeal to the generosity of your aunt Charlotte. Charlotte was summoned,
and enlightened in regard to the situation; the maid proffered to loan
the silk dress to her mistress for the occasion, and the mistress was
only too glad to accept. She made her appearance at the social
gathering, duly arrayed in the silk that her maid had worn to church on
the preceding Sunday."

We laughed over the incident, when Mrs. Garland said: "Lizzie, during
the entire war I used to think of you every day, and have longed to see
you so much. When we heard you were with Mrs. Lincoln, the people used
to tell me that I was foolish to think of ever seeing you again--that
your head must be completely turned. But I knew your heart, and could
not believe that you would forget us. I always argued that you would
come and see us some day."

"You judged me rightly, Miss Ann[e]. How could I forget you whom I had
grown up with from infancy. Northern people used to tell me that you
would forget me, but I told them I knew better, and hoped on."

"Ah! love is too strong to be blown away like gossamer threads. The
chain is strong enough to bind life even to the world beyond the grave.
Do you always feel kindly towards me, Lizzie?"

"To tell you candidly, Miss Ann[e], I have but one unkind thought, and
that is, that you did not give me the advantages of a good education.
What I have learned has been the study of after years."

"You are right. I did not look at things then as I do now. I have always
regretted that you were not educated when a girl. But you have not
suffered much on this score, since you get along in the world better
than we who enjoyed every educational advantage in childhood."

I remained five weeks at Rude's Hill, and they were five of the most
delightful weeks of my life. I designed going direct to Richmond, but
the cholera was reported to be raging in that city, so I took the train
for Baltimore. In Baltimore I stopped with Mrs. Annette Jordan. Mrs.
Garland had given me a letter to Mrs. Douglas Gordon, who introduced me
to several Baltimore ladies, among others Mrs. Doctor Thomas, who said
to me, with tears in her eyes: "Lizzie, you deserve to meet with success
for having been so kind to our friends in the days of the past. I wish
there were more women in the world like you. I will always do what
little I can to promote your welfare."

After remaining in Baltimore a few days, I came to the conclusion that I
could do better in Washington; so I returned to the capital, and
reopened my business.

In the spring of 1867, Miss Maggie Garland paid a visit to Baltimore.
Before leaving Virginia she said to some of her friends in Lynchburg
that she designed going by Washington to see Lizzie. Her friends
ridiculed the idea, but she persisted:

"I love Lizzie next to mother. She has been a mother to us all. Half the
pleasure of my visit is that I will be able to see her."

She wrote me a letter, saying that she designed visiting me, asking if
it would be agreeable. I replied, "Yes, come by all means. I shall be so
glad to see you."

She came and stayed at my rooms, and expressed surprise to find me so
comfortably fixed.

I can not do better than conclude this chapter with two letters from my
dear young friends, the first from Mrs. General Meem, and the second
from Miss Maggie Garland. These letters show the goodness of their
hearts and the frankness of their natures. I trust that they will not
object to the publicity that I give them:

    "RUDE'S HILL, Sept. 14, 1867.

    "MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I am nearly ashamed of myself for
    neglecting to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, and the
    very acceptable box of patterns, some weeks ago; but you will
    pardon my remissness, I know, for you can imagine what a busy
    time I've had all summer, with a house full of company most
    of the time, and with very inefficient servants, and in some
    departments _none at all_; so I have had to be at times
    dining-room servant, house-maid, and the last and most
    difficult, dairy-maid. But I have turned that department over
    to our gardener, who, though as green at the business as
    myself, seems willing to learn, and has been doing the
    milking all summer. These are a _few_ of the reasons why I
    have not written to you before, for I hope you will always
    believe that you occupy a large place in my memory and
    affection, whether I write to you or not; and such a poor
    correspondent as yourself ought not to complain. Mother, Mag,
    Uncle John, and Spot are still with us; the former will pass
    the winter with me, but the others all talk of leaving before
    long. The approach of winter always scatters our guests, and
    we have to spend the long, dreary winters alone. But we are
    to have the railroad to Mt. Jackson by Christmas, perhaps
    sooner; and then, if we can raise the wind, we can spend a
    portion of the winter in the city, and I hope you will find
    time to come up and _spend the day_ with me, as we will be
    near neighbors. I so seldom indulge in the pleasant task of
    writing letters that I scarcely know what will interest my
    correspondent, but I flatter myself that _you_ will be glad
    to hear anything and everything about us all, so I'll begin
    with the children. Hugh has improved a great deal, and is
    acknowledged to be the smartest child and the finest looking
    in the State; he talks as plainly as I do, and just as
    understandingly as a child of ten years old; his nurse often
    says we need not set our hearts on that child, he is too
    smart ever to be raised; but I trust his _badness_ will save
    him, for he is terribly spoilt, as such interesting children
    are bound to be. Miss Eliza, no longer called _Jane_, is
    getting to be a little 'star girl,' as her Papa calls her;
    she is just learning to walk, and says a good many words
    quite plainly. You would never take her for the same little
    _cry-baby_ of last summer, and she is a little beauty too--as
    white as the driven snow, with the most beautiful blue eyes,
    and long, dark lashes you ever saw. She will set _somebody_
    crazy if she grows up to be as lovely as she now promises to
    be. My dear good husband has been, like myself, run to death
    this summer; but it agrees with him, and I never saw him
    looking better. He has fallen off a little, which is a great
    improvement, I think. He often speaks of you, and wonders if
    you were sufficiently pleased with your visit last summer to
    repeat it. I hope so, for we will always be glad to welcome
    you to Rude's Hill, whenever you have time to come; provided,
    of course, you have the wish also. Spot expects to hang out
    his shingle in St. Louis next winter. His health is greatly
    improved, though he is still very thin, and very, very much
    like dear father. Mag has promised to teach a little cousin
    of ours, who lives in Nelson County, until February, and will
    leave here in two weeks to commence her labors. I hate to see
    her leave, but she is bent on it, and our winters are so
    unattractive that I do not like to insist on her shutting
    herself up all winter with three old people. She will have
    very pleasant society at Cousin Buller's, and will perhaps
    spend the rest of the winter with Aunt Pris, if Uncle
    Armistead remains in Binghampton, New York, as he talks of
    doing. Do write to me before you get too busy with your fall
    and winter work; I am so anxious to hear all your plans, and
    about your stay in New York. By the by, I will have to
    direct this to Washington, as I do not know your New York
    address. I suppose your friends will forward it. If you are
    going to remain any length of time in New York, send me your
    address, and I will write again. * * I have somehow made out
    a long letter, though there is not much in it, and I hope you
    will do the same before long. _All_ send love.

      "Yours affectionately,
      "N. R. G. MEEM.

    "My pen and ink are both so wretched that I fear you will
    find some difficulty in making out this scratch; but _put on
    your specks_, and what you can't read, just guess at. I
    enclose a very poor likeness of Hugh taken last spring; don't
    show it to anybody, for I assure you there is scarcely the
    faintest resemblance to him now in it.

      "N. R. G. M."

I give only a few extracts from the pleasant letter from Miss Maggie
Garland. The reader will observe that she signs herself "Your child,
Mag," an expression of love warmly appreciated by me:

    "SEDDES, Dec. 17, 1867.

    "So many months have passed, my dear Lizzie, since I was
    cheered by a sight of your welcome handwriting, that I must
    find out what is the matter, and see if I can't persuade you
    to write me a few lines. Whatever comes, 'weal or woe,' you
    know I shall always love you, and I have no idea of letting
    you forget me; so just make up your mind to write me a nice
    long letter, and tell me what you are doing with yourself
    this cold weather. I am buried in the wilds of Amherst, and
    the cold, chilling blasts of December come whistling around,
    and tell us plainly that the reign of the snow-king has begun
    in good earnest. Since October I have been teaching for my
    cousin, Mr. Claiborne, and although I am very happy, and
    every one is so kind to me, I shall not be sorry when the day
    comes when I shall shut up school-books forever. None of
    'Miss Ann[e]'s' children were cut out for 'school-marms,'
    were they, Yiddie? I am sure I was only made to ride in my
    carriage, and play on the piano. Don't you think so? * * *
    You must write me where you are, so I can stop and see you on
    my way North; for you know, dear Lizzie, no one can take your
    place in my heart. I expect to spend the Christmas holidays
    in Lynchburg. It will be very gay there, and I will be glad
    enough to take a good dance. This is a short letter to send
    you after such a long silence, but 'tis too cold to write.
    Let me hear from you very soon.

      "Your child MAG.

    "Please write, for I long to hear from you."



In March, 1867, Mrs. Lincoln wrote to me from Chicago that, as her
income was insufficient to meet her expenses, she would be obliged to
give up her house in the city, and return to boarding. She said that she
had struggled long enough to keep up appearances, and that the mask must
be thrown aside. "I have not the means," she wrote, "to meet the
expenses of even a first-class boarding-house, and must sell out and
secure cheap rooms at some place in the country. It will not be
startling news to you, my dear Lizzie, to learn that I must sell a
portion of my wardrobe to add to my resources, so as to enable me to
live decently, for you remember what I told you in Washington, as well
as what you understood before you left me here in Chicago. I cannot live
on $1,700 a year, and as I have many costly things which I shall never
wear, I might as well turn them into money, and thus add to my income,
and make my circumstances easier. It is humiliating to be placed in such
a position, but, as I am in the position, I must extricate myself as
best I can. Now, Lizzie, I want to ask a favor of you. It is imperative
that I should do something for my relief, and I want you to meet me in
New York, between the 30th of August and the 5th of September next, to
assist me in disposing of a portion of my wardrobe."

I knew that Mrs. Lincoln's income was small, and also knew that she had
many valuable dresses, which could be of no value to her, packed away in
boxes and trunks. I was confident that she would never wear the dresses
again, and thought that, since her need was urgent, it would be well
enough to dispose of them quietly, and believed that New York was the
best place to transact a delicate business of the kind. She was the wife
of Abraham Lincoln, the man who had done so much for my race, and I
could refuse to do nothing for her, calculated to advance her interests.
I consented to render Mrs. Lincoln all the assistance in my power, and
many letters passed between us in regard to the best way to proceed. It
was finally arranged that I should meet her in New York about the middle
of September. While thinking over this question, I remembered an
incident of the White House. When we were packing up to leave Washington
for Chicago, she said to me, one morning:

"Lizzie, I may see the day when I shall be obliged to sell a portion of
my wardrobe. If Congress does not do something for me, then my dresses
some day may have to go to bring food into my mouth, and the mouths of
my children."

I also remembered of Mrs. L. having said to me at different times, in
the years of 1863 and '4, that her expensive dresses might prove of
great assistance to her some day.

"In what way, Mrs. Lincoln? I do not understand," I ejaculated, the
first time she made the remark to me.

"Very simple to understand. Mr. Lincoln is so generous that he will not
save anything from his salary, and I expect that we will leave the White
House poorer than when we came into it; and should such be the case, I
will have no further need for an expensive wardrobe, and it will be
policy to sell it off."

I thought at the time that Mrs. Lincoln was borrowing trouble from the
future, and little dreamed that the event which she so dimly
foreshadowed would ever come to pass.

I closed my business about the 10th of September, and made every
arrangement to leave Washington on the mission proposed. On the 15th of
September I received a letter from Mrs. Lincoln, postmarked Chicago,
saying that she should leave the city so as to reach New York on the
night of the 17th, and directing me to precede her to the metropolis,
and secure rooms for her at the St. Denis Hotel in the name of Mrs.
Clarke, as her visit was to be _incog._ The contents of the letter were
startling to me. I had never heard of the St. Denis, and therefore
presumed that it could not be a first-class house. And I could not
understand why Mrs. Lincoln should travel, without protection, under an
assumed name. I knew that it would be impossible for me to engage rooms
at a strange hotel for a person whom the proprietors knew nothing about.
I could not write to Mrs. Lincoln, since she would be on the road to New
York before a letter could possibly reach Chicago. I could not telegraph
her, for the business was of too delicate a character to be trusted to
the wires that would whisper the secret to every curious operator along
the line. In my embarrassment, I caught at a slender thread of hope, and
tried to derive consolation from it. I knew Mrs. Lincoln to be
indecisive about some things, and I hoped that she might change her mind
in regard to the strange programme proposed, and at the last moment
despatch me to this effect. The 16th, and then the 17th of September
passed, and no despatch reached me, so on the 18th I made all haste to
take the train for New York. After an anxious ride, I reached the city
in the evening, and when I stood alone in the streets of the great
metropolis, my heart sank within me. I was in an embarrassing situation,
and scarcely knew how to act. I did not know where the St. Denis Hotel
was, and was not certain that I should find Mrs. Lincoln there after I
should go to it. I walked up to Broadway, and got into a stage going up
town, with the intention of keeping a close look-out for the hotel in
question. A kind-looking gentleman occupied the seat next to me, and I
ventured to inquire of him:

"If you please, sir, can you tell me where the St. Denis Hotel is?"

"Yes; we ride past it in the stage. I will point it out to you when we
come to it."

"Thank you, sir."

The stage rattled up the street, and after a while the gentleman looked
out of the window and said:

"This is the St. Denis. Do you wish to get out here?"

"Thank you. Yes, sir."

He pulled the strap, and the next minute I was standing on the pavement.
I pulled a bell at the ladies' entrance to the hotel, and a boy coming
to the door, I asked:

"Is a lady by the name of Mrs. Clarke stopping here? She came last
night, I believe."

"I do not know. I will ask at the office;" and I was left alone.

The boy came back and said:

"Yes, Mrs. Clarke is here. Do you want to see her?"


"Well, just walk round there. She is down here now."

I did not know where "round there" exactly was, but I concluded to go

I stopped, however, thinking that the lady might be in the parlor with
company; and pulling out a card, asked the boy to take it to her. She
heard me talking, and came into the hall to see herself.

"My dear Lizzie, I am so glad to see you," she exclaimed, coming forward
and giving me her hand. "I have just received your note"--I had written
her that I should join her on the 18th--"and have been trying to get a
room for you. Your note has been here all day, but it was never
delivered until to-night. Come in here, until I find out about your
room;" and she led me into the office.

The clerk, like all modern hotel clerks, was exquisitely arrayed, highly
perfumed, and too self-important to be obliging, or even courteous.

"This is the woman I told you about. I want a good room for her," Mrs.
Lincoln said to the clerk.

"We have no room for her, madam," was the pointed rejoinder.

"But she must have a room. She is a friend of mine, and I want a room
for her adjoining mine."

"We have no room for her on your floor."

"That is strange, sir. I tell you that she is a friend of mine, and I am
sure you could not give a room to a more worthy person."

"Friend of yours, or not, I tell you we have no room for her on your
floor. I can find a place for her on the fifth floor."

"That, sir, I presume, will be a vast improvement on my room. Well, if
she goes to the fifth floor, I shall go too, sir. What is good enough
for her is good enough for me."

"Very well, madam. Shall I give you adjoining rooms, and send your
baggage up?"

"Yes, and have it done in a hurry. Let the boy show us up. Come,
Elizabeth," and Mrs. L. turned from the clerk with a haughty glance, and
we commenced climbing the stairs. I thought we should never reach the
top; and when we did reach the fifth story, what accommodations! Little
three-cornered rooms, scantily furnished. I never expected to see the
widow of President Lincoln in such dingy, humble quarters.

"How provoking!" Mrs. Lincoln exclaimed, sitting down on a chair when we
had reached the top, and panting from the effects of the climbing. "I
declare, I never saw such unaccommodating people. Just to think of them
sticking us away up here in the attic. I will give them a regular going
over in the morning."

"But you forget. They do not know you. Mrs. Lincoln would be treated
differently from Mrs. Clarke."

"True, I do forget. Well, I suppose I shall have to put up with the
annoyances. Why did you not come to me yesterday, Lizzie? I was almost
crazy when I reached here last night, and found you had not arrived. I
sat down and wrote you a note--I felt so badly--imploring you to come to
me immediately."

This note was afterwards sent to me from Washington. It reads as


    "Wednesday, Sept. 17th.

    "MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I arrived _here_ last evening in utter
    despair _at not_ finding you. I am frightened to death, being
    here alone. Come, I pray you, by _next_ train. Inquire for

      "MRS. CLARKE,
      "Room 94, 5th or 6th Story.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "House so crowded could not get another spot. I wrote you
    especially to meet me here last evening; it makes me wild to
    think of being here alone. Come by _next train_, without

      "Your friend,
      "MRS. LINCOLN.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "I am booked Mrs. Clarke; inquire for _no other person_.
    _Come, come, come._ I will pay your expenses when you arrive
    here. I shall not leave here or change my room until you

      "Your friend, M. L.

    "Do not leave this house without seeing me.


I transcribe the letter literally.

In reply to Mrs. Lincoln's last question, I explained what has already
been explained to the reader, that I was in hope she would change her
mind, and knew that it would be impossible to secure the rooms requested
for a person unknown to the proprietors or attachés of the hotel.

The explanation seemed to satisfy her. Turning to me suddenly, she

"You have not had your dinner, Lizzie, and must be hungry. I nearly
forgot about it in the joy of seeing you. You must go down to the table
right away."

She pulled the bell-rope, and a servant appearing, she ordered him to
give me my dinner. I followed him down-stairs, and he led me into the
dining-hall, and seated me at a table in one corner of the room. I was
giving my order, when the steward came forward and gruffly said:

"You are in the wrong room."

"I was brought here by the waiter," I replied.

"It makes no difference; I will find you another place where you can eat
your dinner."

I got up from the table and followed him, and when outside of the door,
said to him:

"It is very strange that you should permit me to be seated at the table
in the dining-room only for the sake of ordering me to leave it the next

"Are you not Mrs. Clarke's servant?" was his abrupt question.

"I am with Mrs. Clarke."

"It is all the same; servants are not allowed to eat in the large
dining-room. Here, this way; you must take your dinner in the servants'

Hungry and humiliated as I was, I was willing to follow to any place to
get my dinner, for I had been riding all day, and had not tasted a
mouthful since early morning.

On reaching the servants' hall we found the door of the room locked. The
waiter left me standing in the passage while he went to inform the clerk
of the fact.

In a few minutes the obsequious clerk came blustering down the hall:

"Did you come out of the street, or from Mrs. Clarke's room?"

"From Mrs. Clarke's room," I meekly answered. My gentle words seemed to
quiet him, and then he explained:

"It is after the regular hour for dinner. The room is locked up, and
Annie has gone out with the key."

My pride would not let me stand longer in the hall.

"Very well," I remarked, as I began climbing the stairs, "I will tell
Mrs. Clarke that I cannot get any dinner."

He looked after me, with a scowl on his face:

"You need not put on airs! I understand the whole thing."

I said nothing, but continued to climb the stairs, thinking to myself:
"Well, if you understand the whole thing, it is strange that you should
put the widow of ex-President Abraham Lincoln in a three-cornered room
in the attic of this miserable hotel."

When I reached Mrs. Lincoln's rooms, tears of humiliation and vexation
were in my eyes.

"What is the matter, Lizzie?" she asked.

"I cannot get any dinner."

"Cannot get any dinner! What do you mean?"

I then told her of all that had transpired below.

"The insolent, overbearing people!" she fiercely exclaimed. "Never mind,
Lizzie, you shall have your dinner. Put on your bonnet and shawl."

"What for?"

"What for! Why, we will go out of the hotel, and get you something to
eat where they know how to behave decently;" and Mrs. Lincoln already
was tying the strings of her bonnet before the glass.

Her impulsiveness alarmed me.

"Surely, Mrs. Lincoln, you do not intend to go out on the street

"Yes I do. Do you suppose I am going to have you starve, when we can
find something to eat on every corner?"

"But you forget. You are here as Mrs. Clarke and not as Mrs. Lincoln.
You came alone, and the people already suspect that everything is not
right. If you go outside of the hotel to-night, they will accept the
fact as evidence against you."

"Nonsense; what do you suppose I care for what these low-bred people
think? Put on your things."

"No, Mrs. Lincoln, I shall not go outside of the hotel to-night, for I
realize your situation, if you do not. Mrs. Lincoln has no reason to
care what these people may say about her as Mrs. Lincoln, but she should
be prudent, and give them no opportunity to say anything about her as
Mrs. Clarke."

It was with difficulty I could convince her that she should act with
caution. She was so frank and impulsive that she never once thought that
her actions might be misconstrued. It did not occur to her that she
might order dinner to be served in my room, so I went to bed without a
mouthful to eat.

The next morning Mrs. Lincoln knocked at my door before six o'clock:

"Come, Elizabeth, get up, I know you must be hungry. Dress yourself
quickly and we will go out and get some breakfast. I was unable to sleep
last night for thinking of you being forced to go to bed without
anything to eat."

I dressed myself as quickly as I could, and together we went out and
took breakfast, at a restaurant on Broadway, some place between 609 and
the St. Denis Hotel. I do not give the number, as I prefer leaving it to
conjecture. Of one thing I am certain--the proprietor of the restaurant
little dreamed who one of his guests was that morning.

After breakfast we walked up Broadway, and entering Union Square Park,
took a seat on one of the benches under the trees, watched the children
at play, and talked over the situation. Mrs. Lincoln told me: "Lizzie,
yesterday morning I called for the _Herald_ at the breakfast table, and
on looking over the list of diamond brokers advertised, I selected the
firm of W. H. Brady & Co., 609 Broadway. After breakfast I walked down
to the house, and tried to sell them a lot of jewelry. I gave my name as
Mrs. Clarke. I first saw Mr. Judd, a member of the firm, a very pleasant
gentleman. We were unable to agree about the price. He went back into
the office, where a stout gentleman was seated at the desk, but I could
not hear what he said. [I know now what was said, and so shall the
reader, in parentheses. Mr. Brady has since told me that he remarked to
Mr. Judd that the woman must be crazy to ask such outrageous prices,
and to get rid of her as soon as possible.] Soon after Mr. Judd came
back to the counter, another gentleman, Mr. Keyes, as I have since
learned, a silent partner in the house, entered the store. He came to
the counter, and in looking over my jewelry discovered my name inside of
one of the rings. I had forgotten the ring, and when I saw him looking
at the name so earnestly, I snatched the bauble from him and put it into
my pocket. I hastily gathered up my jewelry, and started out. They asked
for my address, and I left my card, Mrs. Clarke, at the St. Denis Hotel.
They are to call to see me this forenoon, when I shall enter into
negotiations with them."

Scarcely had we returned to the hotel when Mr. Keyes called, and Mrs.
Clarke disclosed to him that she was Mrs. Lincoln. He was much elated to
find his surmise correct. Mrs. L. exhibited to him a large number of
shawls, dresses, and fine laces, and told him that she was compelled to
sell them in order to live. He was an earnest Republican, was much
affected by her story, and denounced the ingratitude of the government
in the severest terms. She complained to him of the treatment she had
received at the St. Denis, and he advised her to move to another hotel
forthwith. She readily consented, and as she wanted to be in an
out-of-the-way place where she would not be recognized by any of her old
friends, he recommended the Earle Hotel in Canal street.

On the way down to the hotel that morning she acceded to a suggestion
made by me, and supported by Mr. Keyes, that she confide in the
landlord, and give him her name without registering, so as to ensure the
proper respect. Unfortunately, the Earle Hotel was full, and we had to
select another place. We drove to the Union Place Hotel, where we
secured rooms for Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Lincoln changing her mind, deeming
it would not be prudent to disclose her real name to any one. After we
had become settled in our new quarters, Messrs. Keyes and Brady called
frequently on Mrs. Lincoln, and held long conferences with her. They
advised her to pursue the course she did, and were sanguine of success.
Mrs. Lincoln was very anxious to dispose of her things, and return to
Chicago as quickly and quietly as possible; but they presented the case
in a different light, and, I regret to say, she was guided by their
counsel. "Pooh," said Mr. Brady, "place your affairs in our hands, and
we will raise you at least $100,000 in a few weeks. The people will not
permit the widow of Abraham Lincoln to suffer; they will come to her
rescue when they know she is in want."

The argument seemed plausible, and Mrs. Lincoln quietly acceded to the
proposals of Keyes and Brady.

We remained quietly at the Union Place Hotel for a few days. On Sunday
Mrs. Lincoln accepted the use of a private carriage, and accompanied by
me, she drove out to Central Park. We did not enjoy the ride much, as
the carriage was a close one, and we could not throw open the window for
fear of being recognized by some one of the many thousands in the Park.
Mrs. Lincoln wore a heavy veil so as to more effectually conceal her
face. We came near being run into, and we had a spasm of alarm, for an
accident would have exposed us to public gaze, and of course the
masquerade would have been at an end. On Tuesday I hunted up a number of
dealers in secondhand clothing, and had them call at the hotel by
appointment. Mrs. Lincoln soon discovered that they were hard people to
drive a bargain with, so on Thursday we got into a close carriage,
taking a bundle of dresses and shawls with us, and drove to a number of
stores on Seventh Avenue, where an attempt was made to dispose of a
portion of the wardrobe. The dealers wanted the goods for little or
nothing, and we found it a hard matter to drive a bargain with them.
Mrs. Lincoln met the dealers squarely, but all of her tact and
shrewdness failed to accomplish much. I do not care to dwell upon this
portion of my story. Let it answer to say, that we returned to the hotel
more disgusted than ever with the business in which we were engaged.
There was much curiosity at the hotel in relation to us, as our
movements were watched, and we were regarded with suspicion. Our trunks
in the main hall below were examined daily, and curiosity was more
keenly excited when the argus-eyed reporters for the press traced Mrs.
Lincoln's name on the cover of one of her trunks. The letters had been
rubbed out, but the faint outlines remained, and these outlines only
served to stimulate curiosity. Messrs. Keyes and Brady called often, and
they made Mrs. Lincoln believe that, if she would write certain letters
for them to show to prominent politicians, they could raise a large sum
of money for her. They argued that the Republican party would never
permit it to be said that the wife of Abraham Lincoln was in want; that
the leaders of the party would make heavy advances rather than have it
published to the world that Mrs. Lincoln's poverty compelled her to sell
her wardrobe. Mrs. L.'s wants were urgent, as she had to borrow $600
from Keyes and Brady, and she was willing to adopt any scheme which
promised to place a good bank account to her credit. At different times
in her room at the Union Place Hotel she wrote the following letters:

    CHICAGO, Sept. 18, 1867.

    "MR. BRADY, _Commission Broker, No. 609 Broadway,
    New York_:

    "I have this day sent to you personal property, which I am
    compelled to part with, and which you will find of
    considerable value. The articles consist of four camels' hair
    shawls, one lace dress and shawl, a parasol cover, a diamond
    ring, two dress patterns, some furs, etc.

    "Please have them appraised, and confer by letter with me.

      Very respectfully,
      "MRS. LINCOLN."

    "CHICAGO, ----.

    "MR BRADY _No 609 Broadway, N.Y. City_

    "**** DEAR SIR:--The articles I am sending you to dispose of
    were gifts of dear friends, which only urgent necessity
    compels me to part with, and I am especially anxious that
    they shall not be sacrificed.

    "The circumstances are peculiar, and painfully embarrassing;
    therefore I hope you will endeavor to realize as much as
    possible for them. Hoping to hear from you, I remain, very

      "MRS. A. LINCOLN."

    "Sept. 25, 1867.

    "W.H. BRADY, ESQ.:--My great, great sorrow and loss have made
    me painfully sensitive, but as my feelings and pecuniary
    comforts were never regarded or even recognized in the midst
    of my overwhelming bereavement--_now_ that I am pressed in a
    most startling manner for means of subsistence, I do not know
    why I should shrink from an opportunity of improving my
    trying position.

    "Being assured that all you do will be appropriately
    executed, and in a manner that will not startle me very
    greatly, and excite as little comment as possible, again I
    shall leave all in your hands.

    "I am passing through a very painful ordeal, which the
    country, in remembrance of my noble and devoted husband,
    should have spared me.

    "I remain, with great respect, very truly,

      "MRS. LINCOLN.

    "P.S.--As you mention that my goods have been valued at over
    $24,000, I will be willing to make a reduction of $8,000, and
    relinquish them for $16,000. If this is not accomplished, I
    will continue to sell and advertise largely until every
    article is sold.

    "I must have means to live, at least in a medium comfortable

      "M. L."

The letters are dated Chicago, and addressed to Mr. Brady, though every
one of them was written in New York; for when Mrs. L. left the West for
the East, she had settled upon no definite plan of action. Mr. Brady
proposed to show the letters to certain politicians, and ask for money
on a threat to publish them if his demands, as Mrs. Lincoln's agent,
were not complied with. When writing the letters I stood at Mrs.
Lincoln's elbow, and suggested that they be couched in the mildest
language possible.

"Never mind, Lizzie," she said; "anything to raise the wind. One might
as well be killed for a sheep as a lamb."

This latter expression was a favorite one of hers; she meaning by it,
that if one must be punished for an act, such as theft for instance,
that the punishment would be no more severe if a sheep were taken
instead of a lamb.

Mr. Brady exhibited the letters quite freely, but the parties to whom
they were shown refused to make any advances. Meanwhile our stay at the
Union Place Hotel excited so much curiosity, that a sudden movement was
rendered expedient to avoid discovery. We sent the large trunks to 609
Broadway, packed the smaller ones, paid our bills at the hotel, and one
morning hastily departed for the country, where we remained three days.
The movement was successful. The keen-eyed reporters for the daily
papers were thrown off the scent, and when we returned to the city we
took rooms at the Brandreth House, where Mrs. Lincoln registered as
"Mrs. Morris." I had desired her to go to the Metropolitan Hotel, and
confide in the proprietors, as the Messrs. Leland had always been very
kind to her, treating her with distinguished courtesy whenever she was
their guest; but this she refused to do.

Several days passed, and Messrs. Brady and Keyes were forced to
acknowledge that their scheme was a failure. The letters had been shown
to various parties, but every one declined to act. Aside from a few
dresses sold at small prices to secondhand dealers, Mrs. Lincoln's
wardrobe was still in her possession. Her visit to New York had proved
disastrous, and she was goaded into more desperate measures. Money she
must have, and to obtain it she proposed to play a bolder game. She gave
Mr. Brady permission to place her wardrobe on exhibition for sale, and
authorized him to publish the letters in the _World_.

After coming to this determination, she packed her trunks to return to
Chicago. I accompanied her to the depot, and told her good-by, on the
very morning that the letters appeared in the _World_. Mrs. Lincoln
wrote me the incidents of the journey, and the letter describes the
story more graphically than I could hope to do. I suppress many
passages, as they are of too confidential a nature to be given to the

    "CHICAGO, October 6th.

    "My DEAR LIZZIE:--My ink is like myself and my spirits
    failing, so I write you to-day with a pencil. I had a
    solitary ride to this place, as you may imagine, varied by
    one or two amusing incidents. I found, after you left me, I
    could not continue in the car in which you left me, owing to
    every seat's berth being engaged; so, being simple _Mrs.
    Clarke_, I had to eat 'humble-pie' in a car less commodious.
    My thoughts were too much with my 'dry goods and interests'
    at 609 Broadway, to care much for my surroundings, as
    uncomfortable as they were. In front of me sat a middle-aged,
    gray-haired, respectable-looking gentleman, who, for the
    whole morning, had the page of the _World_ before him which
    contained my letters and business concerns. About four hours
    before arriving at Chicago, a consequential-looking man, of
    formidable size, seated himself by him, and it appears they
    were entirely unknown to each other. The well-fed looking
    individual opened the conversation with the man who had read
    the _World_ so attentively, and the conversation soon grew
    warm and earnest. The war and its devastation engaged them.
    The bluffy individual, doubtless a Republican who had
    pocketed his many thousands, spoke of the widows of the land,
    made so by the war. My reading man remarked to him:

    "'Are you aware that Mrs. Lincoln is in indigent
    circumstances, and has to sell her clothing and jewelry to
    gain means to make life more endurable?'

    "The well-conditioned man replied: 'I do not blame her for
    selling her clothing, if she wishes it. I suppose _when sold_
    she will convert the proceeds into five-twenties to enable
    her to have means to be buried.'

    "The _World_ man turned towards him with a searching glance,
    and replied, with the haughtiest manner: 'That woman is not
    dead yet.'

    "The discomfited individual looked down, never spoke another
    word, and in half an hour left his seat, and did not return.

    "I give you word for word as the conversation occurred. May
    it be found through the execution of my friends, Messrs.
    Brady and Keyes, that 'that woman is not yet dead,' and being
    alive, she speaketh and gaineth valuable hearers. Such is
    life! Those who have been injured, how gladly the injurer
    would consign them to mother earth and forgetfulness! Hoping
    I should not be recognized at Fort Wayne, I thought I would
    get out at dinner for a cup of tea. * * * will show you what
    a creature of _fate_ I am, as miserable as it sometimes is. I
    went into the dining-room alone; and was ushered up to the
    table, where, at its head, sat a very elegant-looking
    gentleman--at his side a middle-aged lady. My black veil was
    doubled over my face. I had taken my seat next to him--he at
    the head of the table, I at his left hand. I immediately
    _felt_ a pair of eyes was gazing at me. I looked him full in
    the face, and the glance was earnestly returned. I sipped my
    water, and said: 'Mr. S., is this indeed you?' His face was
    as pale as the table-cloth. We entered into conversation,
    when I asked him how long since he had left Chicago. He
    replied, 'Two weeks since.' He said, 'How strange you should
    be on the train and I not know it!'

    "As soon as I could escape from the table, I did so by
    saying, 'I must secure a cup of tea for a lady friend with me
    who has a head-ache.' I had scarcely returned to the car,
    when he entered it with a cup of tea borne by his own
    aristocratic hands. I was a good deal annoyed by seeing him,
    and he was so agitated that he spilled half of the cup over
    my _elegantly gloved_ hands. _He_ looked very sad, and I
    fancied 609 Broadway occupied his thoughts. I apologized for
    the absent lady who wished the cup, by saying that 'in my
    absence she had slipped out for it.' His heart was in his
    eyes, notwithstanding my veiled face. Pity for me, I fear,
    has something to do with all this. I never saw his manner
    _so_ gentle and sad. This was nearly evening, and I did not
    see him again, as he returned to the lady, who was his
    sister-in-law from the East. * * * What evil spirit possessed
    me to go out and get that cup of tea? When he left me,
    _woman-like_ I tossed the cup of tea out of the window, and
    tucked my head down and shed _bitter tears_. * * At the depot
    my darling little Taddie was waiting for me, and his voice
    never sounded so sweet. * * * My dear Lizzie, do visit Mr.
    Brady each morning at nine o'clock, and urge them all you
    can. I see by the papers Stewart has returned. To-morrow I
    will send the invoice of goods, which please to not give up.
    How much I miss you, tongue cannot tell. Forget my fright and
    nervousness of the evening before. Of course you were as
    innocent as a child in all you did. I consider you my best
    living friend, and I am struggling to be enabled some day to
    repay you. Write me often, as you promised.

      "Always truly yours,
      "M. L."

It is not necessary for me to dwell upon the public history of Mrs.
Lincoln's unfortunate venture. The question has been discussed in all
the newspapers of the land, and these discussions are so recent that it
would be useless to introduce them in these pages, even if I had an
inclination to do so. The following, from the New York _Evening
Express_, briefly tells the story:

"The attraction for ladies, and the curious and speculative of the other
sex in this city, just now, is the grand exposition of Lincoln dresses
at the office of Mr. Brady, on Broadway, a few doors south of Houston
street. The publicity given to the articles on exhibition and for sale
has excited the public curiosity, and hundreds of people, principally
women with considerable leisure moments at disposal, daily throng the
rooms of Mr. Brady, and give himself and his shop-woman more to do than
either bargained for, when a lady, with face concealed with a veil,
called and arranged for the sale of the superabundant clothing of a
distinguished and titled, but nameless lady. Twenty-five dresses, folded
or tossed about by frequent examinations, lie exposed upon a closed
piano, and upon a lounge; shawls rich and rare are displayed upon the
backs of chairs, but the more exacting obtain a better view and closer
inspection by the lady attendant throwing them occasionally upon her
shoulders, just to oblige, so that their appearance on promenade might
be seen and admired. Furs, laces, and jewelry are in a glass case, but
the 'four thousand dollars in gold' point outfit is kept in a
paste-board box, and only shown on special request.

"The feeling of the majority of visitors is adverse to the course Mrs.
Lincoln has thought proper to pursue, and the criticisms are as severe
as the cavillings are persistent at the quality of some of the dresses.
These latter are labelled at Mrs. Lincoln's own estimate, and prices
range from $25 to $75--about 50 per cent less than cost. Some of them,
if not worn long, have been worn much; they are jagged under the arms
and at the bottom of the skirt, stains are on the lining, and other
objections present themselves to those who oscillate between the dresses
and dollars, 'notwithstanding they have been worn by Madam Lincoln,' as
a lady who looked from behind a pair of gold spectacles remarked. Other
dresses, however, have scarcely been worn--one, perhaps, while Mrs.
Lincoln sat for her picture, and from one the basting threads had not
yet been removed. The general testimony is that the wearing apparel is
high-priced, and some of the examiners say that the cost-figures must
have been put on by the dressmakers; or, if such was not the case, that
gold was 250 when they were purchased, and is now but 140--so that a
dress for which $150 was paid at the rate of high figures cannot be
called cheap at half that sum, after it has been worn considerable, and
perhaps passed out of fashion. The peculiarity of the dresses is that
the most of them are cut low-necked--a taste which some ladies attribute
to Mrs. Lincoln's appreciation of her own bust.

"On Saturday last an offer was made for all the dresses. The figure
named was less than the aggregate estimate placed on them. Mr. Brady,
however, having no discretionary power, he declined to close the
bargain, but notified Mrs. Lincoln by mail. Of course, as yet, no reply
has been received. Mrs. L. desires that the auction should be deferred
till the 31st of the present month, and efforts made to dispose of the
articles at private sale up to that time.

"A Mrs. C-- called on Mr. Brady this morning, and examined minutely each
shawl. Before leaving the lady said that, at the time when there was a
hesitancy about the President issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, she
sent to Mrs. Lincoln an ashes-of-rose shawl, which was manufactured in
China, forwarded to France, and thence to Mrs. C--, in New York. The
shawl, the lady remarked, was a very handsome one, and should it come
into the hands of Mr. Brady to be sold, would like to be made aware of
the fact, so as to obtain possession again. Mr. Brady promised to
acquaint the ashes-of-rose donor, if the prized article should be among
the two trunks of goods now on the way from Chicago."

So many erroneous reports were circulated, that I made a correct
statement to one of the editors of the New York _Evening News_. The
article based upon the memoranda furnished by me appeared in the _News_
of Oct. 12, 1867. I reproduce a portion of it in this connection:

"Mrs. Lincoln feels sorely aggrieved at many of the harsh criticisms
that have been passed upon her for travelling incognito. She claims that
she adopted this course from motives of delicacy, desiring to avoid
publicity. While here, she spoke to but two former acquaintances, and
these two gentlemen whom she met on Broadway. Hundreds passed her who
had courted her good graces when she reigned supreme at the White House,
but there was no recognition. It was not because she had changed much in
personal appearance, but was merely owing to the heavy crape veil that
hid her features from view.

"She seeks to defend her course while in this city--and with much force,
too. Adverting to the fact that the Empress of France frequently
disposes of her cast-off wardrobe, and publicly too, without being
subjected to any unkind remarks regarding its propriety, she claims the
same immunity here as is accorded in Paris to Eugenie. As regards her
obscurity while in this city, she says that foreigners of note and
position frequently come to our stores, and under assumed names travel
from point to point throughout our vast domain, to avoid recognition and
the inconveniences resulting from being known, though it even be in the
form of honors. For herself she regards quiet preferable to ostentatious
show, which would have cost her much indirectly, if not directly; and
this she felt herself unable to bear, according to the measure of her
present state of finances.

"In a recent letter to her bosom friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Keckley, Mrs.
Lincoln pathetically remarks, 'Elizabeth, if evil come from this, pray
for my deliverance, as I did it for the best.' This referred to her
action in placing her personal effects before the public for sale, and
to the harsh remarks that have been made thereon by some whom she had
formerly regarded as her friends.

"As to the articles which belonged to Mr. Lincoln, they can all be
accounted for in a manner satisfactory even to an over-critical public.
During the time Mr. Lincoln was in office he was the recipient of
several canes. After his death one was given to the Hon. Charles Sumner;
another to Fred. Douglass; another to the Rev. H. H. Garnet of this
city, and another to Mr. Wm. Slade, the present steward of the White
House, who, in Mr. Lincoln's lifetime, was his messenger. This
gentleman also received some of Mr. Lincoln's apparel, among which was
his heavy gray shawl. Several other of the messengers employed about the
White House came in for a share of the deceased President's effects.

"The shepherd plaid shawl which Mr. Lincoln wore during the milder
weather, and which was rendered somewhat memorable as forming part of
his famous disguise, together with the Scotch cap, when he wended his
way secretly to the Capitol to be inaugurated as President, was given to
Dr. Abbot, of Canada, who had been one of his warmest friends. During
the war this gentleman, as a surgeon in the United States army, was in
Washington in charge of a hospital, and thus became acquainted with the
head of the nation.

"His watch, his penknife, his gold pencil, and his glasses are now in
possession of his son Robert. Nearly all else than these few things have
passed out of the family, as Mrs. Lincoln did not wish to retain them.
But all were freely given away, and not an article was parted with for

"The Rev. Dr. Gurley of Washington was the spiritual adviser of the
President and his family. They attended his church. When little 'Willie'
died, he officiated at the funeral. He was a most intimate friend of the
family, and when Mr. Lincoln lay upon his death-bed Mr. Gurley was by
his side. He, as his clergyman, performed the funeral rites upon the
body of the deceased President, when it lay cold in death at the City of
Washington. He received the hat worn last by Mr. Lincoln, as we have
before stated, and it is still retained by him.

"The dress that was worn by Mrs. Lincoln on the night of the
assassination was presented to Mrs. Wm. Slade. It is a black silk with a
little white stripe. Most of the other articles that adorned Mrs.
Lincoln on that fatal night became the property of Mrs. Keckley. She has
the most of them carefully stowed away, and intends keeping them during
her life as mementos of a mournful event. The principal articles among
these are the earrings, the bonnet, and the velvet cloak. The writer of
this saw the latter on Thursday. It bears most palpable marks of the
assassination, being completely bespattered with blood, that has dried
upon its surface, and which can never be removed.

"A few words as regard the disposition and habits of Mrs. Lincoln. She
is no longer the sprightly body she was when her very presence illumed
the White House with gayety. Now she is sad and sedate, seeking
seclusion, and maintaining communication merely with her most intimate
personal friends. The most of her time she devotes to instructive
reading within the walls of her boudoir. Laying her book aside
spasmodically, she places her hand upon her forehead, as if ruminating
upon something momentous. Then her hand wanders amid her heavy tresses,
while she ponders for but a few seconds--then, by a sudden start, she
approaches her writing-stand, seizes a pen, and indites a few hasty
lines to some trusty friend, upon the troubles that weigh so heavily
upon her. Speedily it is sent to the post-office; but, hardly has the
mail departed from the city before she regrets her hasty letter, and
would give much to recall it. But, too late, it is gone, and probably
the secrets it contains are not confidentially kept by the party to whom
it was addressed, and soon it furnishes inexhaustible material for
gossip-loving people.

"As some citizens have expressed themselves desirous of aiding Mrs.
Lincoln, a subscription-book was opened at the office of her agent, Mr.
Brady, No. 609 Broadway, this morning. There is no limitation as to the
amount which may be given, though there was a proposition that a dollar
should be contributed by each person who came forward to inspect the
goods. Had each person who handled these articles given this sum, a
handsome amount would already have been realized.

"The colored people are moving in this matter. They intend to take up
collections in their churches for the benefit of Mrs. Lincoln. They are
enthusiastic, and a trifle from every African in this city would, in the
aggregate, swell into an immense sum, which would be doubly acceptable
to Mrs. Lincoln. It would satisfy her that the black people still have
the memory of her deceased husband fresh in their minds.

"The goods still remain exposed to sale, but it is now announced that
they will be sold at public auction on the 30th of this month, unless
they be disposed of before that at private sale."

It is stated in the article that the "colored people are moving in this
matter." The colored people were surprised to hear of Mrs. Lincoln's
poverty, and the news of her distress called forth strong sympathy from
their warm, generous hearts. Rev. H. H. Garnet, of New York City, and
Mr. Frederick Douglass, of Rochester, N.Y., proposed to lecture in
behalf of the widow of the lamented President, and schemes were on foot
to raise a large sum of money by contribution. The colored people
recognized Abraham Lincoln as their great friend, and they were anxious
to show their kind interest in the welfare of his family in some way
more earnest and substantial than simple words. I wrote Mrs. Lincoln
what we proposed to do, and she promptly replied, declining to receive
aid from the colored people. I showed her letter to Mr. Garnet and Mr.
Douglass, and the whole project was at once abandoned. She afterwards
consented to receive contributions from my people, but as the services
of Messrs. Douglass, Garnet, and others had been refused when first
offered, they declined to take an active part in the scheme; so nothing
was ever done. The following letters were written before Mrs. Lincoln
declined to receive aid from the colored people:

    "183 BLEECKER ST., NEW YORK, October 16th, 1867.
    "J. H. BRADY, ESQ.:--

    "I have just received your favor, together with the
    circulars. I will do all that lies in my power, but I fear
    that will not be as much as you anticipate. I think, however,
    that a contribution from the colored people of New York will
    be worth something in a moral point of view, and likely that
    will be the most that will be accomplished in the
    undertaking. I am thoroughly with you in the work, although
    but little may be done.

      "I am truly yours,

    "P.S.--I think it would be well if you would drop a line to
    Mr. Frederick Douglass, at Rochester, New York.

      "H. H. G."

    "ROCHESTER, Oct. 18, 1867.

    "MY DEAR MRS. KECKLEY:--You judge me rightly--I am willing to
    do what I can to place the widow of our martyr President in
    the affluent position which her relation to that good man and
    to the country entitles her to. But I doubt the wisdom of
    getting up a series of lectures for that purpose; that is
    just the last thing that should be done. Still, if the thing
    is done, it should be done on a grand scale. The best
    speakers in the country should be secured for the purpose.
    You should not place me at the head nor at the foot of the
    list, but sandwich me between, for thus out of the way, it
    would not give _color_ to the idea. I am to speak in Newark
    on Wednesday evening next, and will endeavor to see you on
    the subject. Of course, if it would not be too much to ask, I
    would gladly see Mrs. Lincoln, if this could be done in a
    quiet way without the reporters getting hold of it, and using
    it in some way to the prejudice of that already much abused
    lady. As I shall see you soon, there is less reason to write
    you at length.

      "I am, dear madam,
        "With high respect,
          "Very truly yours,

    "POTTSVILLE, Oct. 29, 1867.

    "MY DEAR MRS. KECKLEY:--You know the drift of my views
    concerning the subscription for Mrs. Lincoln. Yet I wish to
    place them more distinctly before you, so that, if you have
    occasion to refer to me in connection with the matter, you
    can do so with accuracy and certainty.

    "It is due Mrs. Lincoln that she should be indemnified, as
    far as money can do so, for the loss of her beloved husband.
    Honor, gratitude, and a manly sympathy, all say yes to this.
    I am willing to go farther than this, and say that Mrs.
    Lincoln herself should be the judge of the amount which shall
    be deemed sufficient, believing that she would not transcend
    reasonable limits. The obligation resting on the nation at
    large is great and increasing, but especially does it become
    colored men to recognize that obligation. It was the hand of
    Abraham Lincoln that broke the fetters of our enslaved
    people, and let them out of the house of bondage. When he
    was slain, our great benefactor fell, and left his wife and
    children to the care of those for whom he gave up all. Shame
    on the man or woman who, under such circumstances, would
    grudge a few paltry dollars, to smooth the pathway of such a
    widow! All this, and more, I feel and believe. But such is
    the condition of this question, owing to party feeling, and
    personal animosities now mixed up with it, that we are
    compelled to consider these in the effort we are making to
    obtain subscriptions.

    "Now, about the meeting in Cooper Institute; I hold that that
    meeting should only be held in concert with other movements.
    It is bad generalship to put into the field only a fraction
    of your army when you have no means to prevent their being
    cut to pieces. It is gallant to go forth single-handed, but
    is it wise? I want to see something more than the spiteful
    _Herald_ behind me when I step forward in this cause at the
    Cooper Institute. Let Mr. Brady out with his circulars, with
    his list of commanding names, let the _Herald_ and _Tribune_
    give a united blast upon their bugles, let the city be
    placarded, and the doors of Cooper Institute be flung wide
    open, and the people, without regard to party, come up to the
    discharge of this national duty.

    "Don't let the cause be made ridiculous by failure at the
    outset. Mr. Garnet and I could bear any mortification of this
    kind; but the cause could not. And our cause must not be
    damaged by any such generalship, which would place us in the
    van unsupported.

    "I shall be at home by Saturday; please write me and let me
    know how matters are proceeding. Show this letter to Messrs.
    Brady and Garnet.

      "I am, dear madam,
        "Very truly yours,

  "ROCHESTER, Oct. 30, 1867.

    "MY DEAR MRS. KECKLEY:--It is just possible that I may not
    take New York in my route homeward. In that case please write
    me directly at Rochester, and let me know fully how the
    subscription business is proceeding. The meeting here last
    night was a grand success. I speak again this evening, and
    perhaps at Reading tomorrow evening. My kind regards to all
    who think of me at 21, including Mrs. Lawrence.

      "Very truly yours,

    "ROCHESTER, Nov. 10, 1867.

    "MY DEAR MRS. KECKLEY:--I very easily read your handwriting.
    With practice you will not only write legibly but elegantly;
    so no more apologies for _bad_ writing. Penmanship has always
    been one of my own deficiencies, and I know how to sympathize
    with you.

    "I am just home, and find your letter awaiting me. You should
    have received an earlier answer but for this absence. I am
    sorry it will be impossible for me to see you before I go to
    Washington. I am leaving home this week for Ohio, and shall
    go from Ohio to Washington. I shall be in New York a day or
    two after my visit to Washington, and will see you there. Any
    public demonstration in which it will be desirable for me to
    take part, ought to come off the last of this month or the
    first of next. I thank you sincerely for the note containing
    a published letter of dear Mrs. Lincoln; both letters do
    credit to the excellent lady. I prize her beautiful letter to
    me very highly. It is the letter of a refined and spirited
    lady, let the world say what it will of her. I would write
    her a word of acknowledgment but for fear to burden her with
    correspondence. I am glad that Mr. Garnet and yourself saw
    Mr. Greeley, and that he takes the right view of the matter;
    but we want more than right views, and delay is death to the
    movement. What you now want is action and cooperation. If Mr.
    Brady does not for any reason find himself able to move the
    machinery, somebody else should be found to take his place;
    he made a good impression on me when I saw him, but I have
    not seen the promised simultaneous movement of which we spoke
    when together. This whole thing should be in the hands of
    some recognized solid man in New York. No man would be better
    than Mr. Greeley; no man in the State is more laughed at, and
    yet no man is more respected and trusted; a dollar placed in
    his hands would be as safe for the purpose as in a
    burglar-proof safe, and what is better still, everybody
    believes this. This testimonial must be more than a negro
    testimonial. It is a great national duty. Mr. Lincoln did
    everything for the black man, but he did it not for the black
    man's sake, but for the nation's sake. His life was given for
    the nation; but for being President, Mr. Lincoln would have
    been alive, and Mrs. Lincoln would have been a wife, and not
    a widow as now. Do all you can, dear Mrs. Keckley--nobody can
    do more than you in removing the mountains of prejudice
    towards that good lady, and opening the way of success in the

      "I am, dear madam, very truly yours,

Many persons called at 609 Broadway to examine Mrs. Lincoln's wardrobe,
but as curiosity prompted each visit, but few articles were sold.
Messrs. Brady & Keyes were not very energetic, and, as will be seen by
the letters of Mrs. Lincoln, published in the Appendix, that lady
ultimately lost all confidence in them. It was proposed to send
circulars, stating Mrs. Lincoln's wants, and appealing to the generosity
of the people for aid, broad-cast over the country; but the scheme
failed. Messrs. Brady & Keyes were unable to obtain the names of
prominent men, whom the people had confidence in, for the circular, to
give character and responsibility to the movement--so the whole thing
was abandoned. With the Rev. Mr. Garnet, I called on Mr. Greeley, at the
office of the _Tribune_, in connection with this scheme. Mr. Greeley
received us kindly, and listened patiently to our proposals--then said:

"I shall take pleasure in rendering you what assistance I can, but the
movement must be engineered by responsible parties. Messrs. Brady &
Keyes are not the men to be at the head of it. Nobody knows who they
are, or what they are. Place the matter in the hands of those that the
people know and have some confidence in, and then there will be a chance
for success."

We thanked Mr. Greeley for his advice, for we believed it to be good
advice, and bowed ourselves out of his room. When Messrs. Brady & Keyes
were informed of the result of our interview, they became very much
excited, and denounced Mr. Greeley as "an old fool." This put an end to
the circular movement. The enterprise was nipped in the bud, and with
the bud withered Mrs. Lincoln's last hope for success. A portion of the
wardrobe was then taken to Providence, to be exhibited, but without her
consent. Mr. Brady remarked that the exhibition would bring in money,
and as money must be raised, this was the last resort. He was of the
impression that Mrs. Lincoln would approve of any movement, so it ended
in success. This, at least, is a charitable view to take of the subject.
Had the exhibition succeeded in Providence, it is my opinion that the
agents of Brady & Keyes would now be travelling over the country,
exposing Mrs. Lincoln's wardrobe to the view of the curious, at so much
per head. As is well known, the city authorities refused to allow the
exhibition to take place in Providence; therefore Mr. Brady returned to
New York with the goods, and the travelling show scheme, like the
circular scheme, was abandoned. Weeks lengthened into months, and at
Mrs. Lincoln's urgent request I remained in New York, to look after her
interests. When she left the city I engaged quiet lodgings in a private
family, where I remained about two months, when I moved to 14 Carroll
Place, and became one of the regular boarders of the house. Mrs.
Lincoln's venture proved so disastrous that she was unable to reward me
for my services, and I was compelled to take in sewing to pay for my
daily bread. My New York expedition has made me richer in experience,
but poorer in purse. During the entire winter I have worked early and
late, and practised the closest economy. Mrs. Lincoln's business
demanded much of my time, and it was a constant source of trouble to me.
When Mrs. L. left for the West, I expected to be able to return to
Washington in one week from the day; but unforeseen difficulties arose,
and I have been detained in the city for several months. As I am writing
the concluding pages of this book, I have succeeded in closing up Mrs.
Lincoln's imprudent business arrangement at 609 Broadway. The firm of
Brady & Keyes is dissolved, and Mr. Keyes has adjusted the account. The
story is told in a few words. On the 4th of March I received the
following invoice from Mr. Keyes:

"March 4, '68.

"_Invoice of articles sent to Mrs. A. Lincoln:_

  1 Trunk.
  1 Lace dress.
  1 do. do. flounced.
  5 Lace shawls.
  3 Camel hair shawls.
  1 Lace parasol cover.
  1 do. handkerchief.
  1 Sable boa.
  1 White do.
  1 Set furs.
  2 Paisley shawls.
  2 Gold bracelets.
  16 Dresses.
  2 Opera cloaks.
  1 Purple shawl.
  1 Feather cape.
  28 yds. silk.


  1 Diamond ring.
  3 Small do.
  1 Set furs.
  1 Camel hair shawl.
  1 Red do.
  2 Dresses.
  1 Child's shawl.
  1 Lace Chantilly shawl."

The charges of the firm amounted to eight hundred dollars. Mrs. Lincoln
sent me a check for this amount. I handed this check to Mr. Keyes, and
he gave me the following receipt:

   "Received, New York, March 4, 1868, of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln,
   eight hundred and twenty dollars by draft on American National
   Bank, New York.

      "S. C. KEYES."

I packed the articles invoiced, and expressed the trunks to Mrs.
Lincoln at Chicago. I then demanded and received a receipt worded as

    "Received, New York, March 4, 1868, of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln,
    eight hundred and twenty dollars in full of all demands of
    every kind up to date.

      "S. C. KEYES."

This closed up the business, and with it I close the imperfect story of
my somewhat romantic life. I have experienced many ups and downs, but
still am stout of heart. The labor of a lifetime has brought me nothing
in a pecuniary way. I have worked hard, but fortune, fickle dame, has
not smiled upon me. If poverty did not weigh me down as it does, I would
not now be toiling by day with my needle, and writing by night, in the
plain little room on the fourth floor of No. 14 Carroll Place. And yet I
have learned to love the garret-like room. Here, with Mrs. Amelia
Lancaster as my only companion, I have spent many pleasant hours, as
well as sad ones, and every chair looks like an old friend. In memory I
have travelled through the shadows and the sunshine of the past, and the
bare walls are associated with the visions that have come to me from the
long-ago. As I love the children of memory, so I love every article in
this room, for each has become a part of memory itself. Though poor in
worldly goods, I am rich in friendships, and friends are a recompense
for all the woes of the darkest pages of life. For sweet friendship's
sake, I can bear more burdens than I have borne.

The letters appended from Mrs. Lincoln to myself throw a flood of light
upon the history of the "old clothes" speculation in New York.



"CHICAGO, Sunday Morning, Oct. 6.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I am writing this morning with a broken heart after a
sleepless night of great mental suffering. R. came up last evening like
a maniac, and almost threatening his life, looking like death, because
the letters of the _World_ were published in yesterday's paper. I could
not refrain from weeping when I saw him so miserable. But yet, my dear
good Lizzie, was it not to protect myself and help others--and was not
my motive and action of the purest kind? Pray for me that this cup of
affliction may pass from me, or be sanctified to me. I weep whilst I am
writing. * * * * I pray for death this morning. Only my darling Taddie
prevents my taking my life. I shall have to endure a round of newspaper
abuse from the Republicans because I dared venture to relieve a few of
my wants. Tell Mr. Brady and Keyes not to have a line of mine once more
in print. I am nearly losing my reason.

  "Your friend,
  "M. L."

"CHICAGO, Oct. 8.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--Bowed down with suffering and anguish, again I write
you. As we might have expected, the Republicans are falsifying me, and
doing _just_ as they did when they prevented the Congressional
appropriation. Mrs. ---- knows something about these same people. As her
husband is _living_ they dare not utter all they would desire to speak.
You know yourself how innocently I have acted, and from the best and
purest motives. They will _howl_ on to prevent my disposing of my
things. What a _vile, vile_ set they are! The _Tribune_ here, Mr.
White's paper, wrote a very beautiful editorial yesterday in my behalf;
yet knowing that I have been deprived of my rights by the party, I
suppose I would be _mobbed_ if I ventured out. What a world of anguish
this is--and how I have been made to suffer! * * * You would not
recognize me now. The glass shows me a pale, wretched, haggard face, and
my dresses are like bags on me. And all because I was doing what I felt
to be my duty. Our minister, Mr. Swazey, called on me yesterday and said
I had done perfectly right. Mrs. F-- says every one speaks in the same
way. The politicians, knowing they have deprived me of my just rights,
would prefer to see me starve, rather than dispose of my things. They
will prevent the sale of anything, so I have telegraphed for them. I
hope you have received from B. the letters I have consigned to his care.
See to this. Show none of them. Write me every day.

  "M. L."

"CHICAGO, Wednesday, October 9th.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--It appears as if the fiends had let loose, for the
Republican papers are tearing me to pieces in this border ruffian West.
If I had committed murder in every city in this _blessed_ Union, I could
not be more traduced. And you know how innocent I have been of the
intention of doing wrong. A piece in the morning _Tribune_, signed 'B,'
pretending to be a lady, says there is no doubt Mrs. L.--_is_
deranged--has been for years past, and will end her life in a lunatic
asylum. They would doubtless like me to begin it _now_. Mr. S., a very
kind, sympathizing minister, has been with me this morning, and has now
gone to see Mr. Medill, of the _Tribune_, to know if _he_ sanctioned his
paper publishing such an article. * * * Pray for me, dear Lizzie, for I
am very miserable and broken-hearted. Since writing this, I have just
received a letter from Mr. Keyes, begging and pleading with me to allow
them to use my name for donations. I think I will consent. * *

  "Truly yours,
   M. L."

"CHICAGO, Sunday, Oct. 13.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I am greatly disappointed, having only received one
letter from you since we parted, which was dated the day after. Day
after day I sent to Mrs. F. for letters. After your promise of writing
to me every other day, I can scarcely understand it. I hope to-morrow
will bring me a letter from you. How much I miss you cannot be
expressed. I hope you have arrived safely in Washington, and will tell
me everything. * * * Was there ever such cruel newspaper abuse lavished
upon an unoffending woman as has been showered upon my devoted head? The
people of this ungrateful country are like the 'dogs in the manger;'
will neither do anything themselves, nor allow me to improve my own
condition. What a Government we have! All their abuse lavished upon me
only lowers themselves in the estimation of all true-hearted people. The
Springfield _Journal_ had an editorial a few days since, with the
important information that Mrs. Lincoln had been known to be _deranged_
for years, and should be _pitied_ for all her _strange acts_. I should
have been _all right_ if I had allowed _them_ to take possession of the
White House. In the comfortable stealings by contracts from the
Government, these low creatures are allowed to hurl their malicious
wrath at me, with no one to defend me or protect me, if I should starve.
These people injure themselves far more than they could do me, by their
lies and villany. Their aim is to prevent my goods being sold, or
anything being done for me. _In this_, I very much fear, they have

"Write me, my dear friend, your candid opinion about everything. I
wished to be made better off, quite as much to improve your condition as
well as for myself. * * * Two weeks ago, dear Lizzie, we were in that
_den_ of discomfort and dirt. _Now_ we are far asunder. Every other day,
for the past week, I have had a chill, brought on by excitement and
suffering of mind. In the midst of it I have moved into my winter
quarters, and am now very comfortably situated. My parlor and bedroom
are very sweetly furnished. I am lodged in a handsome house, a very
kind, good, _quiet_ family, and their meals are excellent. I consider
myself fortunate in all this. I feel assured that the Republicans, who,
to cover up their own perfidy and neglect, have used every villanous
falsehood in their power to injure me--I fear they have _more_ than
succeeded, but if their day of reckoning does not come in this world, it
_will surely_ in the next. * * * *

"_Saturday._--I have determined to shed no more tears over all their
cruel falsehoods, yet, just now, I feel almost forsaken by God and
man--except by the _latter_ to be vilified. Write me all that Keyes and
Brady think of the result. For myself, after _such_ abuse, I _expect_
nothing. Oh! that I could see you. Write me, dear Lizzie, if only a
line; I cannot understand your silence. Hereafter direct your letters to
Mrs. A. Lincoln, 460 West Washington street, Chicago, Ill., care of D.
Cole. Remember 460. I am always so anxious to hear from you, I am
feeling so _friendless_ in the world. I remain always your affectionate

  M. L."


"I cannot send this letter off without writing you two little incidents
that have occurred within the past week. We may call it _justice_
rendered for _evil words_, to say the least. There is a paper published
in Chicago called the _Republican_, owned and published by Springfield
men. Each morning since my return it has been thrown at my door, filled
with abuse of myself. Four days ago a piece appeared in it, asking 'What
right had Mrs. L. to diamonds and laces?' Yesterday morning an article
appeared in the same paper, announcing that the day previous, at the
house of Mr. Bunn (the owner of the paper), in Springfield,
Illinois--the house had been entered at 11 in the morning, by burglars,
and had been robbed of _five_ diamond rings, and a quantity of fine
laces. This morning's paper announces the recovery of these articles.
Mr. Bunn, who made his hundreds of thousands off our government, is
running this paper, and denouncing the wife of the man from whom he
obtained his means. I enclose you the article about the recovery of the
goods. A few years ago he had a _small grocery_ in S----. These facts
can be authenticated. Another case in point: The evening I left my house
to come here, the young daughter of one of my neighbors in the same
block, was in a house not a square off, and in a childish manner was
regretting that I could not retain my house. The man in the house said:
'Why waste your tears and regrets on Mrs. Lincoln?' An hour afterward
the husband and wife went out to make a call, doubtless to gossip about
me; on their return they found their young boy had almost blinded
himself with gunpowder. Who will say that the cry of the 'widow and
fatherless' is disregarded in _His_ sight! If man is not merciful, God
will be in his own time.

  M. L."

"CHICAGO, October 29.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I received a very pleasant note from Mr. F. Douglass
on yesterday. I will reply to it this morning, and enclose it to you to
hand or send him immediately. In this morning's _Tribune_ there was a
little article _evidently_ designed to make capital _against_ me just
now--that _three_ of my brothers were in the Southern army during the
war. If they had been friendly with me they might have said they were
_half_ brothers of Mrs. L., whom she had not known since they were
infants; and as she left Kentucky at an early age her sympathies were
entirely Republican--that her feelings were entirely with the North
during the war, and always. I never failed to urge my husband to be an
_extreme_ Republican, and now, in the day of my trouble, you see how
_this_ very party is trying to work against me. Tell Mr. Douglass, and
every one, how deeply my feelings were enlisted in the cause of freedom.
Why _harp_ upon these _half_ brothers, whom I never knew since they were
infants, and scarcely then, for my early home was truly at a _boarding_
school. Write to him all this, and talk it to every one else. If we
succeed I will soon send you enough for a very large supply of trimming
material for the winter.

  "M. L."

"CHICAGO, Nov. 2nd.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--Your letter of last Wednesday is received, and I
cannot refrain from expressing my surprise that before now K. and B. did
not go out in _search_ of names, and have sent forth all those
circulars. Their conduct is becoming mysterious. We have heard enough of
_their talk_--it is time now they should be _acting_. Their delay, I
fear, has ruined the business. The circulars should all have been out
before the _election_. I cannot understand their slowness. As Mr.
Greeley's home is in New York, he could certainly have been found had he
_been sought_; and there are plenty of other good men in New York, as
well as himself. I venture to say, that _before_ the election not a
circular will be sent out. I begin to think they are making a political
business of _my clothes_, and not for _my_ benefit either. Their delay
in acting is becoming very suspicious. Their slow, bad management is
_ruining_ every prospect of success. I fear you are only losing your
time in New York, and that I shall be left _in debt_ for what I am owing
the firm. I have written to K. and B., and they do nothing that I
request. I want neither Mr. Douglass nor Garnet to lecture in my behalf.
The conduct in New York is disgusting me with the whole business. I
cannot understand what they have been about. Their delay has only given
the enemies time to _gather_ strength; what does it all mean? Of course
give the lady at 609 permission to sell the dresses cheaper. * * * I am
feeling wretchedly over the slowness and _do-nothing_ style of B. & K. I
believe in my heart I am being used as a tool for party purposes; and
they do not design sending out a circular. * * *

  "Your friend,
   M. L."

"CHICAGO, Nov. 9, 1867.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--* * * Did you receive a letter a few days since, with
one enclosed for F. Douglass? also a printed letter of mine, which I
wished him to read? Do write me every other day at least, I am so
_nervous and miserable_. And Lizzie, dear, I fear we have not the
_least_ chance of success. _Do_ remain in New York a little longer, and
occupy yourself with the sewing of your friends. _Then_ I shall be able
to learn _some_thing about my business. In _your heart_ you know there
will be no success. _Why_ do you not candidly express yourself to me?
Write me, if only a few lines, and that very frequently. R. called up on
yesterday, with Judge Davis. * * * R. goes with Judge D. on Tuesday, to
settle the estate, which will give us each about $25,000, with the
income I told you of, $1,700 a year for each of us. You made a mistake
about my house costing $2,700--it was $1,700. The $22,000 Congress gave
me I spent for house and furniture, which, owing to the smallness of my
income, I was obliged to leave. I mention about the division of the
estate to you, dear Lizzie, because when it is done the _papers_ will
harp upon it. You can explain everything in New York; please do so to
every one. Please see H. G., if it should come out in the papers. I had
hoped, if something was gained, to have immediately placed _you_ in more
pleasant circumstances. Do urge F. D. to add his name to the circular;
also get them to have Beecher's. There must not be an hour's delay in
this. R. is very spiteful at present, and I think hurries up the
division to _cross_ my purposes. He mentioned yesterday that he was
going to the Rocky Mountains so soon as Edgar Welles joined him. He is
very _deep_. * * * Write me, _do_, when you receive this. Your silence
pains me.

  "Truly yours,
  "M. L."


"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I closed and sent off my letter before I had finished
all I had to say. Do not hint to K. or B., or any one else, my doubts of
them, _only watch them_. As to S. so many falsehoods are told in the
papers that all the stuff about his wife and himself may be untrue. I
hope it may prove so. I received a letter from Keyes this morning. I
believe I wrote you that I had. How hard it is that I cannot see and
talk with you in this time of great, _great_ trouble. I feel as if I had
not a friend in the world save yourself. * * I sometimes wish myself out
of this world of sorrow and care. I fear my fine articles at B.'s are
getting pulled to pieces and soiled. I do not wish you to leave N.Y.
without having the finest articles packed up and returned to me. The
_single_ white camel's hair shawl and the two Paisleys I wish returned
to me, if none of them are sold. Do you think there is the least chance
of _their_ being sold? I will give you a list of the articles I wish
returned to me from Mr. Brady's before _you leave_ New York for

 "1 Camel's hair shawl, double black centre.
  1 Camel's hair shawl, double white centre.
  1 Single white camel's hair shawl.
  2 Paisley shawls--white.
  1 Pair bracelets and diamond ring.
  1 Fine lace handkerchief.
  3 Black lace shawls.
  2 Black lama shawls.
  1 Dress, silk unmade, white and black.
  1 White boa.
  1 Russian sable boa.
  1 Russian sable cape.
  1 A. sable cape, cuffs and muff.
  1 Chinchilla set.

"The lace dress, flounce, and shawl, if there is no possibility of their
being sold. Also all other fine articles return me, save the dresses
which, with prices lowered, may be sold. * *

  "M. L."

"CHICAGO, Nov. 15, '67.

"MY DEAR KECKLEY;--Your last letter has been received, and believe me, I
duly appreciate your great interest in my affairs. I hope the day _may_
arrive when I can return your kindness in _more_ than words. As you are
aware of my beloved husband's great indulgence to me in pecuniary
matters, thereby allowing me to indulge in bestowing favors on those
whom I considered worthy of it, it is in this respect I feel chiefly the
humiliation of my small circumscribed income. If Congress, or the
Nation, had given me the four years' salary, I should have been able to
live as the widow of the great President Lincoln should, with sufficient
means to give liberally to all benevolent objects, and at my death
should have left at least half of it to the freedmen, for the liberty of
whom his precious sacred life was sacrificed. The men who prevented
_this_ being done by their villanous unscrupulous falsehoods, are no
friends of the colored race, and, as you well know, have led Johnson on
in his wicked course.

"'_God is just_,' and the day of retribution will come to all such, if
not in this world, in the great hereafter, to which those hoary-headed
sinners are so rapidly hastening, with an innocent conscience. I did not
feel it necessary to raise my weak woman's voice against the
persecutions that have assailed me emanating from the tongues of such
men as Weed & Co. I have felt that their infamous false lives was a
sufficient vindication of my character. They have never forgiven me for
standing between my pure and noble husband and themselves, when, for
their own vile purposes, they would have led him into error. _All this_
the country knows, and why should I dwell longer on it? In the blissful
home where my worshipped husband dwells God is ever merciful, and it is
the consolation of my broken heart that my darling husband is ever
retaining the devoted love which he always so abundantly manifested for
his wife and children in this life. I feel assured his watchful, loving
eyes are always watching over us, and he is fully aware of the wrong and
injustice permitted his family by a country he lost his life in
protecting. I write earnestly, because I feel very deeply. It appears to
me a very remarkable coincidence, that most of the good feeling
regarding my straitened circumstances proceeds from the colored people,
in whose cause my noble husband was so largely interested. Whether we
are successful or not, Mr. F. Douglass and Mr. Garnet will always have
my most grateful thanks. They are very noble men. If any _favorable_
results should crown their efforts, you may well believe at my death,
whatever sum it may be, will be bequeathed to the colored people, who
are very near my heart. In yesterday's paper it was announced that Gov.
Andrew's family were having $100,000 contributed to them. Gov. A. was a
good man, but what did _he_ do compared to President Lincoln? Right and
left the latter gave, when he had but little to bestow, and in
consequence his family are now feeling it; yet for my life I would not
recall a dollar he ever gave. Yet his favorite expression, when I have
playfully alluded to the 'rainy day' that might be in store for _himself
and his own_ on several occasions, he has looked at me so earnestly and
replied, 'Cast your bread upon the waters.' Although the petty sum of
$22,000 was an insufficient return for Congress to make me, and
allowanced to its meagreness by men who traduced and vilified the loved
wife of the great man who _made them_, and from whom they amassed great
fortunes--for _Weed, and Seward, and R._ did this last. And yet, _all
this_ was permitted by an American people, who owed _their_ remaining a
nation to my husband! I have dwelt too long on this painful subject, but
when I have been compelled from a pitiful income to make a
boarding-house of my home, as I now am doing, think you that it does
not rankle in my heart?

"Fortunately, with my husband's great, great love for me--the knowledge
of this future for his petted and idolized wife was spared him, and yet
I feel in my heart _he_ knows it all. Mr. Sumner, the intimate friend of
better days, called to see me two or three weeks since--he who had been
an habitué of the White House--both the rooms of the President and my
own reception-room, in either place he was always sure of a heartfelt
welcome; my present situation must have struck a painful chord in his
noble, sympathizing heart. And yet, when I endeavored to ameliorate my
condition, the cry has been so fearful against me as to cause me to
forget my own identity, and suppose I had plundered the nation, indeed,
and committed murder. This, certainly, cannot be America, 'the land of
the _free_,' the 'home of the _brave_.' The evening before Mr. Sumner's
last call I had received Mr. Douglass's letter; I mentioned the
circumstance to Mr. Sumner, who replied: 'Mr. Frederick Douglass is a
very noble, talented man, and I know of no one who writes a more
beautiful letter.' I am sending you a long letter, Lizzie, but I rely a
great deal on your indulgence. My fear is that you will not be able to
decipher the scrawl written so hastily.

  "I remain, truly yours,

"CHICAGO, Nov. 17.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--By the time you receive this note, you will doubtless
find the papers _raving_ over the large income which we are each _said_
to have. Knowing exactly the amount we each will have, which I have
already informed you, I was going to say, I have been shocked at the
_fabulous_ sum set down to each, but I have learned not to be surprised
at anything. Of course it is gotten up to defeat success. _You_ will
_now_ see the necessity for those circulars being issued weeks since. I
enclose you a scrap from yesterday's _Times_ of C., marked No. 1; also
No. 2, to-day's _Times_. The sum of $11,000 has been subtracted in
twenty-four hours from the same paper. If it continues for a few days
longer, it will soon be right. It is a secesh paper--says Congress gave
me $25,000 as a _present_, besides $20,000 of remaining salary. The
$25,000 _you_ know to be utterly false. You can show this note to B. &
K., also the scraps sent. Let no one see them but themselves, and then
burn them. It is all just as I expected--that when the division took
place, a 'mountain would be made of a mole-hill.' And I fear it will
succeed in injuring the premeditated plans. If the _war rages_, the
_Evening News_ might simply say that the sum assigned each was false,
that $75,000 was the sum the administrator, Judge Davis, filed his bonds
for. But by all means _my authority_ must not be given. And then the
_Evening News_ can descant on the $25,000 each, with income of $1,700
each, and Mrs. Lincoln's share, she not being able to touch any of her
sons' portion. My _word_ or _testimony_ must not appear in the article;
only the paper must speak _decidedly_. It must be managed very
judiciously, and without a day's delay.

  "Yours truly,
  "M. L."

"Nov 17--(Private for yourself).

"LIZZIE:--Show the note enclosed with this to B. & K.; do not let them
retain it an instant after reading, nor the printed articles. I knew
these falsehoods would be circulated when the estate was divided. What
_has_ been the cause of the delay about the circulars? I fear, between
ourselves, we have reason to distrust those men,----. Whatever is raised
by the colored people, I solemnly give my word, at my death it shall
_all_, every cent, be returned to them. And out of the sum, if it is
$50,000, _you_ shall have $5,000 at my death; and I cannot live long,
suffering as I am now doing. If $25,000 is raised by your people, you
shall have the sum at my death; and in either event, the $25,000 raised,
or $50,000, I will give you $300 a year, and the promised sum at my
death. It will make your life easier. I have more faith in F.D.'s and
G.'s efforts, than in B. & K., I assure you. This division has been
trumped up just now through spite. * * I have written to Judge Davis for
an exact statement, which I will send to you when received. Write if
any thing is doing. * * *

  "M. L."

"CHICAGO, November 21.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--Your letter of Tuesday is just received. I have just
written B. a note of thanks for his kindness; also requesting the
articles of which I gave you a list. Do see Keyes about it; K. will have
it done. And will you _see_ that they are forwarded to _me_ before _you_
leave New York? K. sent me a telegram on yesterday that eight names were
on the circulars, and that they would be sent out _immediately_. What
success do you think they will have? By all means assure K. & B. I have
great confidence in them. These circulars must bring some money. Your
letter made me quite sad. Talk to K. & B. of the _grateful feelings_ I
express towards them. Do pet up B., and see my things returned to me.
Can you not, dear Lizzie, be employed in sewing for some of your lady
friends in New York until December 1st? If I _ever_ get any money you
will be well remembered, be assured. R. and a party of young men leave
for the Rocky Mountains next Monday, to be absent three weeks. If the
circulars are sent out, of course the _blasts_ will be blown over again.
So R. is out of the way _at the time_, and money comes in, I will not
care. Write the hour you receive this. I hope they will send out 150,000
circulars. Urge K. & B. to do this.

  "Your friend,
  "M. L."

"Saturday Morning, November 23d.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--Although I am suffering with a fearful headache
to-day, yet, as your note of Wednesday is received, I must write. I am
grieved to find that you are so wretchedly low-spirited. * * * On
Wednesday, the 20th of November, K. sent me the telegram I send you. If
he is not in earnest, what does it mean? What is the rate of expenses
that B. has gone to in my business, that he dares to withhold my immense
amount of goods? Do you believe they _intend_ sending out those
circulars? Of course you will be well rewarded if we have any success,
but as to $500 'now,' I have it not for myself, or any one else. Pray,
what does B. propose to charge for _his expenses_? I pray God there will
be some success, although, dear Lizzie, entirely between ourselves, I
fear I am in villanous hands. As to money, I haven't it for myself just
now, even if nothing comes in. When I get my things back, if ever,
from----, I will send you some of those dresses to dispose of at
Washington for your own benefit. If we get something, you will find that
_promises_ and performance for _this_ life will be forth-coming. * * * *
It is _mysterious_ why B. NEVER writes, and K. _once_, perhaps, in three
weeks. All this is very strange. * *

  "M. L."

"CHICAGO, Sunday, Nov. 24th.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--I wrote you on yesterday and am aware it was not a
pleasant letter, although I wrote what I fear will turn out to be
_truths_. It will be two weeks to-morrow since the legally attested
consent from me was received by B. and K., and yet _names_ have not been
obtained for it, when last heard from. * * However, we will soon see for
ourselves. If you and I are honest in our motives and intentions, it is
no reason _all_ the world is so. * * * If I should gain nothing
pecuniarily by the loud cry that has been made over my affairs, it has
been a losing game indeed. * * * * And the laugh of the world will be
against me if it turns out as I _now_ think; there is no doubt it will
be _all_ failure. If they had issued those circulars when they should
have done, before the election, then it would have been all right. Alas!
alas! what a mistake it has all been! I have thought seriously over the
whole business, and know what I am about. I am grateful for the sympathy
of Mr. F. Douglass and Mr. Garnet. I see that F. D. is advertised to
lecture in Chicago some time this winter. Tell him, for me, he must call
and see me; give him my number. If I had been able to retain a house, I
should have offered him apartments when he came to C.; as it is, I have
to content _myself_ with lodgings. An ungrateful country this! I very
much fear the malignity of Seward, Weed, and R. will operate in Congress
the coming winter, and that I will be denounced _there_, with their
infamous and villanous falsehoods. The father of wickedness and lies
will get those men when they 'pass away;' and such fiends as they are,
always linger in this mortal sphere. The agitation of mind has very much
impaired my health. * * * * Why, why was not I taken when my darling
husband was called from my side? I have been allowed no rest by those
who, in my desolation, should have protected me. * * * * How dearly I
should love to see you _this very sad day_. Never, dear Lizzie, think of
my great nervousness the night before we parted; I had been so harassed
with my fears. * * * *

  "Always yours,
  "M. L."

"December 26.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--Your letters just received. I have just written to K.
to withdraw the C. Go to him yourself the moment you receive this. The
idea of Congress doing anything is ridiculous. How much ---- could
effect _if he chose_, through others. Go to B. & K. the moment you
receive this.

  M. L."

"CHICAGO, December 27.

"DEAR LIZZIE:--I wrote you a few lines on yesterday. I have twice
written to Mr. K. to have the C. stopped. Go and see him on the subject.
I believe any more newspaper attacks would _lay me low_ * * * As
_influence_ has passed away from me with my husband, my slightest act is
misinterpreted. '_Time makes all things_ right.' I am positively
suffering for a decent dress. I see Mr. A. and _some recent_ visitors
eyeing my clothing askance. * * Do send my black merino dress to me very
soon; I must dress better in the future. I tremble at the bill that B. &
K. may send me, I am so illy prepared to meet any expense. All my
articles not sold must be sent to me. I leave _this_ place _early_ in
the spring; had you better not go with me and share my fortunes, for a
year or more? * * Write.

  "Yours, etc.,
  M. L."

"CLIFTON HOUSE, January 12.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--Your last letter was received a day or two since. I
have moved my quarters to _this house_, so please direct all your
letters _here_. Why did _you_ not urge them _not_ to take my goods to
Providence? For heaven's sake see K. & B. when you receive this, and
have them immediately returned to me, _with their bill_. I am so
miserable I feel like taking my own life. My darling boy, my Taddie
_alone_, I _fully_ believe, prevents the deed. Your letter announcing
that my clothes[C] were to be paraded in Europe--those I gave you--has
almost turned me wild. R. would go _raving distracted_ if such a thing
was done. If you have the _least regard_ for our reason, pray write to
the bishop that it _must_ not be done. How little did I suppose you
would do _such a thing_; you cannot imagine how much my overwhelming
sorrows would be increased. May kind Heaven turn your heart, and have
you write that _this_ exhibition must not be attempted. R. would blast
us all if you were to have this project carried out. Do remember _us_ in
our unmitigated anguish, and have those clothes, worn on those fearful
occasions, recalled. * * I am positively dying with a broken heart, and
the probability is that I shall be living but a _very_ short time. May
we all meet in a better world, where _such grief_ is unknown. Write me
all about yourself. I should like you to have about four black widow's
caps, just such as I had made in the fall in New York, sent to me. * * *
Of course you would not suppose, if I had you come out here and work for
me six weeks, I would not pay your expenses and pay you as you made
_each_ dress. The probability is that I shall need _few_ more clothes;
my rest, I am inclined to believe, is _near at hand_. Go to B. & K., and
have my clothes sent me without further publicity. * * * I am feeling
too weak to write more to-day. Why are you so silent? For the sake of
_humanity_, if not _me_ and my children, _do not_ have those black
clothes displayed in Europe. The thought has almost whitened every hair
of my head. Write when you receive this.

  "Your friend,
   M. L."


   [Footnote C: The clothes that I have given for the benefit of
   Wilberforce College. They have been deeded to Bishop Payne,
   who will do with them as he thinks best, for the cause to
   which they are dedicated. The letter on page 366 will explain
   more fully.]

"NEW YORK CITY, Jan. 1st, 1868.

"BISHOP PAYNE, D.D.--DEAR SIR:--Allow me to donate certain valuable
relics, to be exhibited for the benefit of Wilberforce University, where
my son was educated, and whose life was sacrificed for liberty. These
sacred relics were presented to me by Mrs. Lincoln, after the
assassination of our beloved President. Learning that you were
struggling to get means to complete the college that was burned on the
day our great emancipator was assassinated, prompted me to donate, in
trust to J. P. Ball (agent for Wilberforce College), the identical cloak
and bonnet worn by Mrs. Lincoln on that eventful night. On the cloak can
be seen the life-blood of Abraham Lincoln. This cloak could not be
purchased from me, though many have been the offers for it. I deemed it
too _sacred_ to sell, but donate it for the cause of educating the four
millions of slaves liberated by our President, whose private character I
revere. You well know that I had every chance to learn the true man,
being constantly in the White House during his whole administration. I
also donate the glove[D] worn on his precious hand at the last inaugural
reception. This glove bears the marks of thousands who shook his hand on
that last and great occasion. This, and many other relics, I hope you
will receive in the name of the Lincoln fund. I also donate the dress
worn by Mrs. Lincoln at the last inaugural address of President Lincoln.
Please receive these from--

  Your sister in Christ,


   [Footnote D: I have since concluded to retain the glove as a
   precious _souvenir_ of our beloved President.]

"CLIFTON HOUSE, Jan. 15, 1868.

"MY DEAR LIZZIE:--You will think I am sending you a deluge of letters. I
am so very sad today, that I feel that I must write you. I went out last
evening with Tad, on a little business, in a street car, heavily veiled,
very imprudently having _my month's living_ in my pocket-book--and, on
return, found it gone. The loss I deserve for being so careless, but it
comes very hard on poor me. Troubles and misfortunes are fast
overwhelming me; may _the end_ soon come. I lost $82, and quite a new
pocket-book. I am very, very anxious about that bill B. & K. may bring
in. Do go, dear Lizzie, and implore them to be moderate, for I am in a
very narrow place. Tell them, I pray you, of this last loss. As they
have not been successful (BETWEEN OURSELVES), and only given me great
sorrow and trouble, I think their demand should be very small. (Do not
mention this to them.) _Do_, dear Lizzie, go to 609, and talk to them on
this subject. Let my things be sent to me immediately, and _do_ see to
it, that nothing is left behind. I can afford to lose nothing they have
had placed in their hands. I am literally suffering for my black dress.
Will you send it to me when you receive this? I am looking very shabby.
I hope you have entirely recovered. _Write_ when you receive this.

  "Very truly yours,
   M. L."

"CHICAGO, Feb. 7.

"MR. BRADY:--I hereby authorize Mrs. Keckley to request my bill from
you; also my goods. An exact account must be given of everything, and
all goods unsold returned to me. Pray hand Mrs. Keckley my bill, without
fail, immediately.


"SATURDAY, Feb. 29.

"DEAR LIZZIE:--I am only able to sit up long enough to write you a line
and enclose this check to Mr. K. Give it to him when he gives you up my
goods, and require from him an exact inventory of them. I will write you
to-morrow. The hour you receive this go to him, get my goods, and do
not _give him the check until_ you get the goods, and be sure you get a
receipt for the check from him. * * In his account given ten days since,
he said we had borrowed $807; now he writes for $820. Ask him what this
means, and get him to deduct the $13. I cannot understand it. A letter
received from K. this morning says if the check is not received the
first of the week, my goods _will be sold_ so do delay not an hour to
see him. * * My diamond ring he writes has been sold; the goods sold
have amounted to $824, and they appropriate all this for their expenses.
A precious set, truly. My diamond ring itself cost more than that sum,
and I charged them not to sell it under $700. Do get my things safely
returned to me. * * *

  "M. L."

       *       *       *       *       *


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