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[223] Lincoln, whom he had just left alone, would see me. He soon came down with an invitation to walk up stairs, and as I did so, accompanied by the Colonel, I noticed that the corridors were strictly guarded by policemen — an unnecessary but natural precaution under the circumstances of apprehension and excitement that then prevailed in Washington.

On being introduced, Mr. Lincoln greeted me with great kindness and cordiality. “I'm glad to see you,” said he; “always glad to see an Old Line Whig. Sit down.”

Apologizing for disturbing him, I said: “I've no doubt that the unusual demands now made on your time and energies require you to have more rest than is likely to be allowed you here by the public; but my visit is not one of conventional formality or idle curiosity, as I come upon an important matter now pending in the House, and, therefore, trust that I am not trespassing too far on your courtesy in calling this evening.”

“Not a bit of it,” he replied; “not a bit. I'm really glad you have come, and wish that more of you Southern gentlemen would call and see me, as these are times when there should be a full, fair, and frank interchange of sentiment and suggestion among all who have the good of the country at heart. So draw up your chair, and tell me what's going on in the House to-day.”

Thus encouraged, showing him a copy of Stanton's Force bill, I called his attention to some of its extraordinary features, and to the fact that it was “bristling all over with war.” I spoke of the angry feeling it had excited in Congress, and of the painful anxieties it had caused throughout Virginia; how it had demoralized the members of her State convention, and was frustrating the patriotic efforts of her conservative citizens to keep her from seceding. I told him, also, how determined the friends of the measure were to force it through the House that evening, and how much reason there was to fear that its passage would do irreparable injury to the cause of the Union. “Consequently, Mr. Lincoln,” said I, “I have ventured to come to you to tell you frankly what I think of the policy of this bill — to ask your opinion of it, and to invoke your influence in having it defeated.”

While I was making these remarks, Mr. Lincoln listened to me with patient politeness, and when I paused for a reply, he said: “You must allow me the Yankee privilege of answering your questions by first asking a few myself. During the late Presidential canvass, were you not chairman of the National Executive Committee of the party that supported Bell and Everett?”

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