“Unfinished, Like the Union Itself.” That was the caption beneath a photo of the dome under construction for the Capitol building in 1861. The caption was in a book published in 1960, Meet Mr. Lincoln (by Richard Hanser & Donald B. Hyatt). There had not yet been the “new birth of freedom.” The unfinished Capitol building seemed like a sign, heralding that fact.
Then, in 2012, came the Steven Spielberg epic, Lincoln. That film portrays President Abraham Lincoln, in January 1865, moving heaven and earth to get the 13th Amendment passed by the House of Representatives. Stormy Cabinet meetings revolving around the anti-slavery Amendment were shown. In his vehemence on the subject, the mild-mannered Abe even slams down his hand onto the table!
“Wow!” I thought. “What does Gideon Welles say about January 1865?” Welles was Secretary of the Navy during the administrations of Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. He kept a private diary of events, later published after his death. For some reason, the Welles diary is not so easy to obtain.
Eagerly I read through January 1, 1865: There are cases of fraud at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
January 3, 1865 tells of rumors that “Old Mr. Blair” and his son Montgomery had gone to Richmond on a peace mission. Also, Simeon Draper, Collector of Customs at New York, had been appointed cotton agent by the Secretary of the Treasury. Draper would be disposing of the captured cotton at Savannah, Georgia. (Cotton was worth a lot of money then because of the Union “blockade” of the South. “Blockade” is in quotes because special cotton passes allowed favored persons to penetrate the “blockade.”)
January 4, 1865 informs us that the President is not yet decided whether “exemplified copies” shall be furnished in the Stover case. (I have no idea what “the Stover case” is at this point.) Union troops are embarking for Wilmington, North Carolina.
The January 5, 1865 entry in the Welles diary reports the U.S. Congress has convened. Elsewhere, there are rumors about the peace mission to Richmond.
Much more is found in the January 6, 1865 diary entry. General William Tecumseh Sherman plans to march through the Carolinas to assist at Wilmington. General Ulysses S. Grant has sent forward a military force to cooperate with the Union fleet at Wilmington. (Union victory in January 1865 in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher meant that Wilmington, 30 miles upriver, could no longer be used by the Confederacy as a port. The Battle of Wilmington was fought February 11–22, 1865. ) More appertain to the question of the Spielberg movie and its depiction of intense drama centered upon Abraham Lincoln and the 13th Amendment, Welles also wrote on January 6th, “At the Cabinet meeting no very important matter was taken up. There was a discussion opened by Attorney-General Speed, as to the existing difficulties in regard to the government of the negro population. They are not organized nor is any pains taken to organize and teach them to take care of themselves or to assist the government in caring for them.”
Well, maybe the intense drama depicted in the Steven Spielberg movie comes later on in January 1865. I am looking through the Gideon Welles diary for any mention of such things as Lincoln slamming down his hand upon the table.
The unfinished Capitol dome of 1861; the Steven Spielberg movie arriving just after Barack Obama had been re-elected; these things are signs. And so it was that, while watching the Russia Today news, a report by Gayane Chichakyan caught my attention. It wasn’t her report so much that intrigued me. It was the background. Reporting outdoors in the streets of Washington, DC, in the background of Ms. Chichakyan could be seen scaffolding covering the dome of the U.S. Capitol building. I immediately sat up: It was another case of “Unfinished, like the Union itself!” This had to signify that President Obama was up to something. But what?
A “Capitol Dome Restoration Project” is underway. “The United States Capitol Dome, symbol of American democracy and world-renowned architectural icon, was constructed of cast iron more than 150 years ago. The Dome has not undergone a complete restoration since 1959-1960,” a government web site informs us.  A “Restoration”? Is that anything like a “Reconstruction”?
Reconstruction of course denotes the harsh Union occupation of the South after the coup d’état achieved by Radical Republicans had eliminated the easy-going Abraham Lincoln. (Background: List of the Traitors, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, July 25, 2015.)
And now a “Restoration” is underway. Three horrifying shootings have taken place, all of them in the South, in States once part of the Confederacy: Dylann Storm Roof, South Carolina; The Chattanooga shooting of unarmed U.S. Marines, Tennessee; The Lafayette theater shooting, Louisiana.
——- Sources ——-
 “Battle of Wilmington”, Wikipedia, July 26, 2015.