On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln asked his cabinet members to sign a sealed memorandum without reading it. They complied. The text of the "Blind Memorandum" was later revealed to be the following:
MEMORANDUM.The election of 1864 was rapidly approaching, and Lincoln feared he would be defeated. This was not an unreasonable belief. No American president had been re-elected to a second term since Andrew Jackson won his second term in 1832. And then there was the war news: despite months of bloody fighting, neither Richmond nor Atlanta had fallen.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, August 23, 1864.
This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.