Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Origin of the “Influence” Story

Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, called one day on General Halleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces, and, presuming upon a familiar acquaintance in California a few years since, solicited a pass outside of our lines to see a brother in Virginia, not thinking that he would meet with a refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union men.

“We have been deceived too often,” said General Halleck, “and I regret I can’t grant it.”

Judge B. then went to Stanton, and was very briefly disposed of with the same result. Finally, he obtained an interview with Mr. Lincoln, and stated his case.

“Have you applied to General Halleck?” inquired the President.

“Yes, and met with a flat refusal,” said Judge B.

“Then you must see Stanton,” continued the President.

“I have, and with the same result,” was the reply.

“Well, then,” said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile, “I can do nothing; for you must know that I have very little influence with this Administration, although I hope to have more with the next.”