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to offer him a seat on the Supreme Bench he To another adherent in Ohio he wrote: distinctly intimated he would accept no place
I cannot help being gratified by the preference there but that of Chief-Justice. There never expressed for me in some quarters, for those who was a man who found it so easy to delude express it are generally men of great weight, and himself. He believed that he was indifferent high character, and independent judgment. to advancement and anxious only for the pub- They think there will be a change in the current, lic good; yet in the midst of his enormous which, so far as it is not spontaneous, is chiefly labors he found time to write interminable let- managed by the Blairs. 4 ters to every part of the country, all protesting He said that he should be glad to have his indifference to the Presidency but indicat- Ohio decidedly on his side, and that if Ohio ing his willingness to accept it, and painting should express a preference for any other perpictures so dark of the chaotic state of affairs son he would not allow his name to be used. among his colleagues that the irresistible infer- This was quite an unnecessary engagement, as ence was that only he could save the country. no candidate could possibly be nominated For instance, he wrote to the editor of a relig- without the support of his own State. ious newspaper, saying:
Indifferent as he claimed to be in regard to Had there been here an Administration in the of February promising to try to find a place
his personal prospects, he yet wrote on the 6th true sense of the word a with his Cabinet and taking their united judgments, for a man recommended by the editor of the and with their aid enforcing activity, economy, and Evening Post,” and complaining with some energy in all departments of public service — we bitterness that that paper had not uttered a kind could have spoken boldly and defied the world. word in reference to him for some months But our condition here has always been very differ- past. There was, in fact, no limit to these ent. I preside over the funnel; everybody else, and overtures of the Secretary in every direction especially the Secretaries of War and the Navy, over which he thought might be serviceable to him. the spigots — and keep them well open, too. Mr. Seward conducts the foreign relations with
A few days after the death of Archbishop
very little let or help from anybody. There is no unity Hughes, we find him writing to Archbishop and no system, except so far as it is departmental. Purcell of Cincinnati, reporting the efforts which There is progress, but it is slow and involuntary; he is making in every quarter to have the just what is coerced by the irresistible pressure of Western prelate appointed the successor of the the vast force of the people. How, under such cir- dead archbishop. On the 18th of January he cumstances, can anybody announce a policy which wrote to a friend of his in Toledo, Ohio, Mr. can only be made respectable by union, wisdom, James C. Hall, formally announcing his candiand courage?1
dacy for the Presidency. He told him that a A few days later he wrote to another:
cominittee of prominent senators, representa
tives, and citizens had been organized to proThe Administration cannot be continued as it is. mote his election; that a sub-committee had There is, in fact, no Administration, properly speak- conferred with him, and he had consented to ing. There are departments and there is a President their wishes. He then went on to say: The latter leaves administration substantially to the heads of the former, deciding himself comparatively
If I know my own heart, I desire nothing so much few questions. These heads act with almost abso- as the suppression of this rebellion and the establute independence of each other.2
lishment of union, order, and prosperity on sure
and safe foundations; and I should despise myself He could not bring himself to feel that the if I felt capable of allowing any personal objects to universal demonstrations in favor of the reëlec- influence me to any action which would affect, by tion of Mr. Lincoln were genuine. He re- one jot or tittle, injuriously, the accomplishment of garded himself all the while as the serious those objects. And it is a source of real gratification
. candidate, and the opposition to him as knav- to believe that those who desire my nomination ish and insincere. To one of his adherents he desire it on public grounds alone, and will not
hesitate in any matter which may concern me to wrote:
act upon such grounds and on such grounds only. It is impossible to reform and investigate without He added that he desired the support of stirring up slanderers and revilers, both among Ohio, and that if he did not receive it he would those whose wrong-doings are exposed and unrighteous profits taken away, and among those, too, who cheerfully acquiesce. think they see a good chance to take advantage of
All through the winter this quasi-candidacy clamor to the injury of a public man, who, they continued. It seemed of the utmost importance fear, stands too well with the people.3
to the Secretary and his few adherents, though 1 Chase to the Rev. J. Leavitt, Jan. 24, 1864. War- 4 Chase to Flamen Ball, Feb. 2, 1864. Warden, den, “ Life of S. P. Chase," p. 562.
“ Life of S. P. Chase," P: 570. 2 Chase to Dickson, Jan. 27, 1864. Ibid., p. 564. 5 Chase to Bailey. Ibid., p. 571. 3 Chase to Gilbert, Jan. 30, 1864. Ibid., p. 567. 6 Chase to Purcell, Feb. 1, 1864. Ibid., p. 568.
it really formed an imperceptible eddy beside makes a good Secretary, and I shall keep him where the vast current in which the will of the people he is. If he becomes President, all right. I hope was sweeping forward to its purpose. Being we may never have a worse man. I have observed confined exclusively to politicians, it had, of with regret his plan of strengthening himself. course, its principal manifestation in the city troubling me, if I am compelled to decide in a way
Whenever he sees that an important matter is of Washington. It played its little part in the to give offense to a man of some influence, he alelection of Speaker of the House of Represen- ways ranges himself in opposition to me and pertatives. An attempt was made to identify Mr. suades the victim that he has been hardly dealt Colfax, the most popular candidate for that with, and that he would have arranged it very difoffice, with the adherents of Mr. Chase; but ferently. It was so with General Frémont, with upon hearing of this he at once sought an
General Hunter when I annulled his hasty proclaaudience with the President and positively re- from New Orleans, with these Missouri people when
mation, with General Butler when he was recalled pudiated any such connection. When Congress they called the other day. I am entirely indifferent had organized, the message of the President as to his success or failure in these schemes so long was received with an enthusiasm which for the as he does his duty at the head of the Treasury moment swept out of sight every trace of oppos- Department.2 ing opinion. From that moment there was no further question in regard to the Republican When Rosecrans was removed from the nomination.
command of the Army of the Cumberland, There was at one time an effort on the part of Mr. Chase pursued the same course. His some of the leading spirits in the Union League, spiteful comments on that act were reported a secret Republican organization which had to the President, who simply laughed at the been very zealous and effective in political work zealous friend who brought him the news. throughout the Union, to commit it to some When told that such tactics might give Mr. measure hostile to Mr. Lincoln. This had Chase the nomination, he said he hoped the alarmed even so experienced and astute an country would never do worse. He regretted, observer as Thurlow Weed, who sent to Mr. however, that the thing had begun, because al. Seward in the autumn of 1863 a warning that though it did not annoy him, his friends thought " loyal leagues, into which Odd Fellows and it ought to. He wenton appointing by the dozen Know Nothings rush, are fixing to control Mr. Chase's partisans and adherents to places delegate appointments for Mr. Chase.”1 Mr. in the Government. He knew perfectly what Seward accepted this warning somewhat too he was doing, and allowed himself the luxury readily, induced by his inveterate anti-masonic of a quiet smile as he signed their commissions. prejudices; these fears had no substantial He heard more of such gossip than was amusfoundation. Some of the leaders of the League, ing or agreeable to him. He said on one ocsympathizing strongly with the radicals of casion, “ I wish they would stop thrusting that Missouri, had indeed from time to time made subject of the Presidency into my face. I do efforts to commit the order against the Presi- not want to hear anything about it.” dent; but such attempts failed there, as else- Of course one reason for the magnanimity where, on account of the overwhelming tide with which Mr. Lincoln endured this rivalry of of contrary opinion, and when the principal his able and ambitious minister of finance was chapter of the order met in Washington on the his consciousness of the inequality of the match 10th of December, they elected a list of officers between them. Although his renomination was who were almost all either friends of Mr. Lin- a matter in regard to which he refused to concoln or men of sufficient sagacity not to oppose verse much, even with intimate friends, he was him.
perfectly aware of the drift of things. In capacFrom the beginning Mr. Lincoln had been ity of appreciating popular currents and in fully aware of Mr. Chase's candidacy and of judgment of individual character Mr. Chase everything that was done for its promotion. It was as a child beside him; and he allowed was impossible for him to remain unconscious the opposition to himself in his own Cabinet to of it; and although he discouraged all conver- continue, without question or remark, with all sation on the subject and refused to read letters the more patience and forbearance because he relating to it, he could not entirely shut the mat- knew how feeble it was. ter out from his cognizance. He had his own The movement in favor of Mr. Chase culopinion of the taste and judgment displayed minated in the month of February in a secret by Mr. Chase in his criticisms of himself and circular signed by Senator Pomeroy of Kansas, of his colleagues in the Cabinet; but he took and widely circulated through the Union. It no notice of them.
is admitted by Mr. Chase's sincerest admirers I have determined she said) to shut my eyes, so that the weak point of his character was the far as possible, to everything of the sort. Mr. Chase incapacity shown in his judgment of men and 1 MS.
2 J. H., Diary, Oct. 16, 1863.
his choice of intimates; and in no instance during his whole Administration, till the public was this defect more glaringly exhibited than debt shall become a burden too great to be borne. in the selection of such a man as Senator Pom: Third, that the patronage of the Government through eroy to conduct his canvass for the Presidency. the necessities of the war has been so rapidly inThe two Kansas senators, Lane and Pomeroy, loosely placed, as to render the application of the
creased, and to such an enormous extent, and so hated each other intensely, and as long as they one-term principle absolutely essential to the certain were in office together wrangled persistently safety of our republican institutions. Fourth, that over the patronage of their State. The Presi- we find united in Hon. Salmon P. Chase more dent once wrote to Pomeroy, after declining an of the qualities needed in a President during the interview with him :
next four years than are combined in any other
available candidate. His record is clear and unimI wish you and Lane would make a sincere effort peachable, showing him to be a statesman of rare to get out of the mood you are in. It does neither ability and an administrator of the highest order, of you any good; it gives you the means of tor- while his private character furnishes the surest menting my life out of me, and nothing else.1 available guarantee of economy and purity in the
management of public affairs. Fifth, that the Each thought the other got the advantage discussion of the Presidential question, already comof him, each abused the President roundly Oped a popularity and strength in Mr. Chase unex
menced by the friends of Mr. Lincoln, has develbehind his back; but Lane, being the more pected even to his warmest admirers; and while we subtle and adroit politician of the two, never
are aware that its strength is at present unorganized, allowed himself to be put in an attitude of open and in no condition to manifest its real magnitude, hostility to the Administration. Pomeroy's we are satisfied that it only needs a systematic and resentment drove him at last into a mood of faithful effort to develop it to an extent sufficient to sullen animosity towards the President, and it overcome all opposing obstacles. For these reasons was under his weak leadership that the elements the friends of Mr. Chase have determined on of opposition to Mr. Lincoln at last came to
measures which shall present his claims fairly and gether. As the confidential circular issued by been effected, which already has its connections in
at once to the country. A central organization has the committee of which Pomeroy was the all the States, and the object of which is to enable head was the most considerable effort made his friends everywhere most effectually to promote within the Republican party to defeat the his elevation to the Presidency. We wish the hearty renomination of Mr. Lincoln, we give the coöperation of all those who are in favor of the document, to show upon how slender a founda- speedy restoration of the Union on the basis of unition this opposition was based.
versal freedom, and who desire an administration of the Government during the first period of its new
life which shall to the fullest extent develop the The movements recently made throughout the capacity of free institutions, enlarge the resources country to secure the renomination of President of the country, diminish the burdens of taxation, Lincoln render necessary counter-action on the elevate the standard of public and private morality, part of those unconditional friends of the Union vindicate the honor of the Republic before the world, who differ from the policy of the Administration.
and in all things make our American nationality the So long as no efforts were made to forestall the fairest example for imitation which human progress political action of the people, it was both wise and has ever achieved. If these objects meet your appatriotic for all true friends of the Government to proval, you can render efficient aid by exerting devote their influence to the suppression of the re- yourself at once to organize your section of the bellion; but when it becomes evident that party country, and by corresponding with the chairman and the machinery of official influence are being of the National Executive Committee for the purused to secure the perpetuation of the present Admin- pose either of receiving or imparting information. istration, those who conscientiously believe that the interests of the country and of freedom demand a Of this circular, sent broadcast over the change in favor of vigor and purity and nationality, country, many copies of course fell into the have no choice but to appeal at once to the people hands of the President's friends, and they soon before it is too late to secure a fair discussion of principles.
began to come to the Executive Mansion. Those in behalf of whom this appeal is made The President, who was absolutely without have thoughtfully surveyed the political field, and curiosity in regard to attacks upon himself, rehave arrived at the following conclusions : First, fused to look at them, and they accumulated that even were the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln desir- unread in the desk of his secretary. At last, able, it is practically impossible against the union of however, the circular got into print, and it apinfluences which will oppose him. Second, that peared in the “National Intelligencer” of should he be reëlected, his manifest tendency towards Washington on the morning of the 22d of Febcompromises and temporary expedients of policy will become stronger during a second term than it ruary. Mr. Chase at once wrote to the President has been in the first, and the cause of human to assure him that he had no knowledge of the liberty, and the dignity of the nation, suffer propor- existence of the letter before seeing it in print. tionately, while the war may continue to languish He gave a brief account of the solicitations of consented to be a candidate for the Presidency, Before the President wrote this letter the adding, with his usual nobility of phrase : candidacy of Mr. Chase had already passed
1 Lincoln to Pomeroy, May 12, 1864. MS. his friends, in compliance with which he had VOL. XXXVIII.-37.
I have never wished that my name should have completely out of sight. In fact, it never could a moment's thought in comparison with the com- have been said to exist except in the imagination mon cause of enfranchisement and restoration, or be of Mr. Chase and a narrow circle of adherents. continued before the public a moment after the in- He was by no means the choice even of the dication of a preference by the friends of that cause great body of the radicals who were disconfor another. I have thought this explanation due tented with Mr. Lincoln. So early as the 17th to you as well as to myself. If there is anything in of December, 1863, Mr. Medill, the editor of my action or position which in your judgment the “Chicago Tribune,” who represented the will prejudice the publicinterests under my charge, I beg you to say so. I do not wish to administer most vehement Republican sentiment of the the Treasury Department one day without your en
North-west, wrote: tire confidence. For yourself I cherish sincere respect | presume it is true that Mr. Chase's friends are and esteem, and, permit me to add, affection. Dif- working for his nomination, but it is all lost labor; ferences of opinion as to administrative action have Old Abe has the inside track so completely that he not changed these sentiments, nor have they been will be nominated by acclamation when the conchanged by assaults upon me by persons who pro- vention meets. The people will say to Chase : fess themselves the special representatives of your " You stick to finance and be content until after views and policy. You are not responsible for acts 1868"; and to Grant, “Give the rebels no rest; not your own; nor will you hold me responsible put them through; your reward will come in due except for what I do or say myself. Great numbers time"; but Uncle Ábe must be allowed to boss the now desire your reëlection. Should their wishes be reconstruction of the Union. fulfilled by the suffrage of the people, I hope to carry with me into private life the sentiments i now
And from the opening of the year 1864 the cherish, whole and unimpaired.
feeling in favor of the renomination of Lincoln
grew so ardent and so restless that it was The President next day acknowledged the almost impossible for the most discreet of the receipt of this letter, and promised to answer it Republican leaders to hold the manifestations more fully when he could find time to do so. of the popular preference in check. An attempt The next week he wrote at greater length:1 was made by the Treasury officials in Indiana
I would have taken time to answer yours of the to prevent the State convention which met in 22d sooner, only that I did not suppose any evil could February from declaring for Lincoln, but it was result from the delay, especially as, by a note, i all in vain. Wherever any assembly of Repubpromptly acknowledged the receipt of yours, and licans came together fresh from the people promised a fuller answer. Now, on consideration I the only struggle was as to who should get find there is really very little to say. My knowl- first on the floor to demand the President's reedge of Mr. Pomeroy's letter having been made nomination. Mr. Chase's principal hope was, public came to me only the day you wrote, but I of course, founded upon the adhesion of his had, in spite of myself, known of its existence sev- friends in Ohio; but the result there, as elseeral days before. I have not yet read it, and I think I shall not. I was not shocked or surprised by the where, proved how blind he was to the course appearance of the letter, because I had had knowl- of politics. The governor of the State wrote edge of Mr. Pomeroy's committee and of secret to the President ? that he was mortified to hear issues which, I supposed, came from it and of secret that he had been set down as a Chase man. agents who, I supposed, were sent out by it, for several weeks. I have known just as little of these
The fact that Mr. Chase has been laboring, for the things as my friends have allowed me to know. past year at least, with an eye single to promoting They bring the documents to me, but I do not read his own selfish purposes, totally regardless of the them; they tell me what they think fit to tell me, consequences to the Government, as I believe has but I do not inquire for more. I fully concur with been the case, is alone sufficient to induce me to you that neither of us can be justly held responsible oppose him; but aside from this, the policy inaugufor what our respective friends may do without our rated under your lead must be maintained, and it instigation or countenance; and I assure you, as you would be suicidal to change leaders in the midst of have assured me, that no assault has been made the contest. upon you by my instigation or with my countenance. Whether you shall remain at the head of the which came from the leading men of the State,
This is only a specimen of dozens of letters Treasury Department is a question which I do not allow myself to consider from any standpoint other who had been relied upon by Mr. Chase to than my judgment of the public service, and, in that promote his canvass; and finally the feeling view, I do not perceive occasion for a change.2 grew so strong in Ohio that although no au
1 Lincoln to Chase, Feb. 29, 1864. MS.
President and his eulogy of Mr. Chase, and claimed 2 After this correspondence had passed, Mr. Pom- that the latter had nothing to do with the circular, but eroy, who, whatever his defects of character, did not had been “ drafted into the service” without his lack courage, rose in his place in the Senate (March consent. 10), reiterated with added energy his criticisms of the 3 Tod to Lincoln, Feb. 24, 1864.
thorized convention of Republicans was to prevent his renomination by the Republican meet at that time, the Union members of the convention which was to meet at Baltimore in legislature took the matter in hand and gave, June. There was no voice of opposition to on the 25th of February, the coup de grâce to him in any organized Republican assembly, the Secretary's candidacy. They held a full except in Missouri, and even there the large caucus, and nominated Mr. Lincoln for reëlec- majority of radical Republicans were willing tion, at the demand, as they said, of the people to accept the universal verdict of their party; and the soldiers of Ohio. The State of Rhode but there were a few earnest spirits scattered Island, which Mr. Chase had expected the per- throughout the country to whom opposition sonal influence of his son-in-law, Governor to the Administration had become the habit of Sprague, to secure for him, also made haste to a lifetime. There were others not so honest, range itself with the other States of the North; who had personal reasons for disliking the and as more than a month before the great President. "To these it was impossible to stand State of Pennsylvania had by the unanimous quietly by and see Mr. Lincoln made his expression of the Union members of its legis- own successor without one last effort to lature declared for Lincoln, the Secretary at prevent it. The result of informal consultalast concluded that the contest was hopeless, tions among them was the publication of a and wrote another letter to Mr. Hall, referring number of independent calls for a mass conto his former statement that should his friends vention of the people to meet at Cleveland, in Ohio manifest a preference for another he Ohio, on the 31st of May, a week before the would acquiesce in that decision, and adding: assembling of the Republican convention at
Baltimore. The recent action of the Union members of our legislature indicates such a preference. It becomes
The two centers of this disaffection were in my duty, therefore,- and I count it more a privi- St. Louis and New York. In the former city lege than a duty,– to ask that no further consider- it was composed of a small fraction of a facation be given to my name. It was never more tion. The large majority of those radical poliimportant than now that all our efforts and all our ticians who had been for two years engaged energies should be devoted to the suppression of the in the bitter struggle with Blair and his assorebellion, and to the restoration of order and pros- ciates still retained their connection with the perity, on solid and sure foundations of union, free- Republican party, and had no intention of dom, and impartial justice; and I earnestly urge all with whom my counsels may have weight to breaking off their relations with the Union allow nothing to divide them while this great work, party of the nation. It was a small fraction in comparison with which persons and even parties of their number which issued its call to the are nothing, remains unaccomplished.
disaffected throughout the nation. Harking
back to the original cause of quarrel, they had In the closing line of this letter occurs the attached themselves blindly to the personal first intimation of that feeling of revolt against fortunes of General Frémont; they now put the Republican party which afterwards led Mr. themselves in communication with a small club Chase to seek the nomination of the Demo- of like-minded enthusiasts in New York called crats. In numerous letters written during the the“ Central Frémont Club,” and invited their spring he reiterated his absolute withdrawal radical fellow-citizens to meet them in confrom the contest, but indulged in sneers and vention at Cleveland. They made no pretense insinuations against the President, which show of any purpose of consultation or of independhow deeply he was wounded by his discom- ent individual action. The object stated in fiture. 1
their call was “in order then and there to rec
ommend the nomination of John C. Frémont THE CLEVELAND CONVENTION.
for the Presidency of the United States, and BEFORE the snows melted, it had become to assist in organizing for his election.” They evident to the most narrow and malignant of denounced“ the imbecile and vacillating policy Mr. Lincoln's opponents that nothing could of the present Administration in the con
1 In an article published in “The Galaxy,” July, 1873, spirits.” In a letter of the 7th of May (Chase to Riddle, by Mr. J. M. Winchell, whom Mr. Schuckers in his Warden, p. 576) Mr. Chase said: “I am trying to keep
. "Life of Chase” calls the author of the Pomeroy cir- all Presidential aspiration out of my head. "I fancy that colar (see Schuckers' “ Life of Chase," p. 500), occurs as President I could take care of the Treasury better this singular passage: “ The movement in favor of with the help of a Secretary than I can as Secretary the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Chase, had culmi- without the help of a President. But our Ohio folks nated in disaster ; that gentleman's chief supporters, in- don't want me enough, if they want me at all, to make cluding his senatorial son-in-law, having manisested a it proper for me to allow my name to be used. I plentiful lack of nerve or zeal, when the critical question hope the time is not distant when I can honorably became public, of arraying him against his official chief, separate myself from political affairs altogether, leaving and
made haste to take him at his word of declination, the new era to the new men whom God may raise up diplomatically spoken, in order to rouse their flagging for it.”