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The Key Man in the Administration

July 4, 2018

The Siege of Vicksburg ended with Confederate surrender on July 4, 1863, but Lincoln probably never considered giving a speech at Vicksburg.  Who would be in the audience besides the victorious Union Army?  No, Gettysburg was the place to go.  That battle had ended the day before Vicksburg.  The town was not far from Washington, D.C., and the civilian audience would be friendly.  Also, a national cemetery was to be dedicated that November.

Charles Francis Adams did not hear Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address.  He was still at his post in England.  Perhaps he would have liked what Lincoln said.  The President had connected the war with the founding of the nation.  He cited the founding document when he affirmed the nation’s dedication “to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  Those words were penned by Thomas Jefferson, but Charles’s grandfather had been a member of the committee assigned to write the Declaration of Independence.  Lincoln could not go wrong by affirming Charles’s grandfather.

Perhaps Charles would have enjoyed Edward Everett’s massive oration which preceded Lincoln’s abbreviated remarks.  Charles Francis Adams and Edward Everett traveled in the same circles.  Each had run for Vice President as third party candidates, Adams in 1848 and Everett in 1860.  They were also brothers-in-law.

Still, Charles may have considered Lincoln’s speech to be the superior one.  But if he did think that, he probably would have attributed its worth to the influence of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward.  Surely Seward was the key man in the Administration, even more important than the President himself.  At least that’s what Charles Francis Adams was inclined to believe.

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