Isaac Newton Arnold

Isaac Newton Arnold, (1815 – 1884)

Born in Hartwick, Otsego County, New York, on November 30, 1815. Attended the district and select schools and Hartwick Seminary, then taught school in Otsego County from 1832-1835. Arnold was admitted to the bar and began his practice in Cooperstown N.Y., then moved his practice to Chicago Illinois. Arnold enjoyed success in his practice, evidenced by the fact that he was first sought by Manny in the McCormick reaper case.

Politics soon became a part of Arnold’s life – city clerk of Chicago – delegate to conventions – member of the Illinois House of Representatives – and presidential elector. After an unsuccessful run for US Congress in 1858, Arnold was later elected to the 37th and 38th Congress. Arnold was entertained in the Lincoln home, commenting on Mrs. Lincoln’s excellent cooking and her table loaded with venison, wild turkey, prairie chicken, quail and other game.

Arnold supported Lincoln and the Republican Party, evidenced by Lincoln confiding in Arnold about matters occurring in his home state of Illinois. As the Civil War continued on Arnold thought it best that General Halleck be removed. President Lincoln firmly replied “Without claiming to be your superior, which I do not, my position enables me to understand my duty in all these matters better than you…”

Arnold introduced a bill to prohibit slavery in every place subject to national authority, and later to abolish slavery in the United States. Once Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Arnold encouraged the president to donate a copy for auction at the Northwestern Sanitary Commission. Prodded by Arnold again, the document made its way to Chicago and was sold – but later lost in the great fire of Chicago. Though Arnold’s loyalty to Lincoln remained, his neglect of mending political fences in Chicago caused him not to seek reelection.

Arnold stays in Washington and hopes to secure service with the government – which Lincoln does by offering him a position as Auditor for the Treasury Department. Arnold wished to discuss the matter with the president right before he left to go to Ford’s theater. Lincoln says “Excuse me now, I am going to the theater. Come and see me in the morning. Johnson would honor the job pledge.

Arnold is a part of the Illinois delegation on the Lincoln funeral train. Once the funeral was over, Arnold began in earnest to write a biography of Lincoln. A few years later he was summoned to defend Mary Lincoln in her insanity trial. Arnold did so, but was uneasy about the whole process. Arnold’s second biography of Lincoln is regarded as one of the best of the early works. No substantial biography of Arnold himself exists. Many of his papers were apparently destroyed in the Chicago fire. He is remembered as an anti-slavery congressman, friend of Lincoln, and author of the life of Lincoln. Arnold died in Chicago on April 24, 1884, and is buried in Graceland Cemetery.

No Comments »

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.