PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE

THE CIVIL WAR YEARS

Abraham Lincoln Orders General Scott to Appoint Thaddeus Lowe as Chief Aeronaut

Memoirs of Thaddeus Lowe, pages 74-75

    On July 25th, I received a message from the President asking me to spend the evening with him at the White House. I suspected that Professor Henry had related to him my difficulties for he seemed perfectly conversant with them.


        He had hoped that the letter of introduction his secretary had given me to General Scott would have so clearly indicated to the General the President's desire in the matter, that the General would have interested himself in the creation of a department of Aeronautics, and thus have obviated the necessity for further action. But Lincoln was not willing to leave any stone unturned that might aid in crushing the rebellion. The Union forces had suffered a complete rout at Bull Run only a few days before, and stragglers from the battle field were still coming in to Washington.


        The President was much perturbed and expressed the thought that had General MacDowell had the information that only observations from a balloon could give, the result might have been different.


        We were seated at an old table in the President's work room and saying, "Professor I wish you would confer with General Scott again at once." The President took out a card and wrote on it!


Anne Read Collection

        The first time I called on General Scott it was at the behest of the President that I might lay my plans before him for his consideration, but there was no mistaking the intent of the message I now carried though clothed in the gentle language so characteristic of Lincoln.


        The following morning I waited on Lieutenant General Scott, and presented the President's card. The orderly returned and stated that the General was engaged. I called again in a few hours, and received the same answer; a few hours later I was at his office again, and was informed that he was at lunch; the fourth time I called, and this time the General of the Army was asleep.


        All this time the President was awaiting the result of my conference with General Scott, and when with some heat, possibly, I reported that General Scott could not be seen on official business even at the President's suggestion, he looked at me a moment, laughed, arose and seizing his tall silk hat bade me "come on." He proposed to find out what was the matter with Scott.


        We soon reached the General's headquarters. This time the General's guard turned out as the sentry called "The President of the United States." The Orderly saluted and presto, we stalked into the presence of the old General, who certainly looked startled.


        "General," said the President, "this is my friend Professor Lowe, who is organizing an Aeronautic Corps for the Army, and is to be its Chief. I wish you would facilitate his work in everyway, and give him a letter to Captain Dahlgren, Commandant of the Navy Yard, and one to Captain Meigs, with instructions for them to give him all the necessary things to equip his branch of the service on land and water."


        It was extraordinary how matters changed, the atmosphere cleared at once. The General gave the orders with Alacrity, and when I returned with the President to the White House, I had at last letters which put in definite motion the wheels which made me Chief of the Corps of Aeronautics of the United States Army, though as a matter of fact my troubles had barely begun, so cumbersome was the official machinery, so interwoven the bands of "red tape."


INDEX PAGE

BEFORE THE WAR

CIVIL WAR YEARS

INVENTIONS AND INDUSTRY

NORRISTOWN PENNSYLVANIA YEARS

PASADENA CALIFORNIA YEARS

MOUNT LOWE RAILWAY

AFTER THE RAILWAY

LOWE FAMILY

BOOKS ABOUT LOWE

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

EVENTS AND REUNIONS

ARTIFACTS AND HISTORY

ENCYCLOPEDIA BIOGRAPHY

ACCLAMATIONS AND AWARDS

LINKS TO OTHER THADDEUS LOWE WEBSITES