by Erin Carlson Mast
For Lincoln, the Soldiers’ Home was not just a place of relaxation, but a place of work. And for both relaxation and work, the Soldiers’ Home provided Lincoln privacy that did exist at the White House, allowing Lincoln to meet with allies and adversaries without it becoming common knowledge.
In August 1864, the presidential election loomed, and Lincoln’s chances for reelection seemed bleak. On September 11, 1864, he invited Fernando Wood, Democratic Congressman and leading Copperhead to the Soldiers’ Home for a meeting. The exact content of the meeting between Lincoln and Wood is unknown, but a few contemporaries provide recollections of what went on that September day.
According to Noah Brooks, journalist and friend to the Lincolns, Wood revealed that they did not expect their candidate to win because the public was not yet “ready” for peace, and tried to convince Lincoln that their attacks on him would do him no harm in the upcoming election.