John Bidwell believed fervently in the Union cause. In 1864 he was a California delegate to the Republican National Convention in Baltimore on June 7-8, where Lincoln was renominated for president. Bidwell was in the delegation sent to the White House to inform Lincoln of his renomination.
Upon his return home, he spoke to the Butte County “Lincoln and Johnson Club” on August 10th, 1864, about his experiences. He was pleased to have met with President Lincoln and gave this description, as reported in the Weekly Butte Record:
While at the Capitol, I had the pleasure of several interviews with the President. I found him to be a man possessed of that great and most precious of all natural gifts, plain common sense. Still he was not exactly the man I had expected to see. I had been told that he was continually inclined to jest, and that he did not appear to appreciate the magnitude of our national troubles. Suffice it to say that much injustice has been done Mr. Lincoln in reference to his personal traits. What are called jokes should in most instances be styled apt illustrations. He is calm, reflective, quite fluent in speech, and evidently feels the weight of the responsibility resting upon him. The more I saw of him the better I was pleased, and the more he looked like a President.
(Weekly Butte Record, 20 August 1864)