November 8, 1864 (2)

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Telegram Sent on: November 8, 1864_(2).
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Next telegram November 8, 1864 (3)


Office US Military Telegraph

War Department

Washington D.C. November 8, 1864

Hon. W.H. Seward

Auburn, N.Y.

News from Grant, Sherman, Thomas, and Rosecrans satisfactory, but not important. Pirate Florida captured by Massachusetts Oct. 7th on coast of Brazil. The information is certain.

A. Lincoln


Sent 10:08 pm

By 3(?)

Historical analysis

This analysis makes use of a heuristic for historical thinking know as SCIM-C developed by David Hicks, Peter Doolittle and Tom Ewing. For more about this historical thinking heuristic please see

Summary of the telegram

This is a telegram sent by President Lincoln to the Secretary of State William H. Seward in which Lincoln is informing Seward that a pirate presumably from Florida was captured off the coast of Brazil.

The Context for this telegram

The Secretary of State’s duties are primarily focused in foreign affairs, so in the context that a pirate that was probably harassing Union naval operations around the coast of Florida was captured off the coast of Brazil; Lincoln wanted to inform Seward of a foreign affairs issue. The telegram was also sent during Sherman’s march to the sea which in the context of first sentence Lincoln wrote, implies that he could have been uninterested in the type of warfare that was going on.

Inferences about the telegram

Lincoln likely wanted to compartmentalize his different cabinet members with the news he got and what he sent. Discussing foreign affairs issues with Seward was likely what he wanted to do and discuss troop movements with his generals. The pirate that was captured could have been a man that Seward had wanted to capture for a while considering the people that were involved. “The information is certain” line could also indicate that there had been false information before on this important target and Lincoln wanted Seward to know personally that a possible long sought after target was captured.