Puslapio vaizdai

to offer him a seat on the Supreme Bench he distinctly intimated he would accept no place there but that of Chief-Justice. There never was a man who found it so easy to delude himself. He believed that he was indifferent to advancement and anxious only for the public good; yet in the midst of his enormous labors he found time to write interminable letters to every part of the country, all protesting his indifference to the Presidency but indicating his willingness to accept it, and painting pictures so dark of the chaotic state of affairs among his colleagues that the irresistible inference was that only he could save the country. For instance, he wrote to the editor of a religious newspaper, saying:

Had there been here an Administration in the true sense of the word a President conferring with his Cabinet and taking their united judgments, and with their aid enforcing activity, economy, and energy in all departments of public service-we could have spoken boldly and defied the world. But our condition here has always been very different. I preside over the funnel; everybody else, and especially the Secretaries of War and the Navy, over the spigots-and keep them well open, too. Mr. Seward conducts the foreign relations with very little let or help from anybody. There is no unity and no system, except so far as it is departmental. There is progress, but it is slow and involuntary; just what is coerced by the irresistible pressure of the vast force of the people. How, under such circumstances, can anybody announce a policy which can only be made respectable by union, wisdom, and courage?1

A few days later he wrote to another:

The Administration cannot be continued as it is. There is, in fact, no Administration, properly speaking. There are departments and there is a President. The latter leaves administration substantially to the heads of the former, deciding himself comparatively few questions. These heads act with almost absolute independence of each other.2

He could not bring himself to feel that the universal demonstrations in favor of the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln were genuine. He regarded himself all the while as the serious candidate, and the opposition to him as knavish and insincere. To one of his adherents he


It is impossible to reform and investigate without stirring up slanderers and revilers, both among those whose wrong-doings are exposed and unrighteous profits taken away, and among those, too, who think they see a good chance to take advantage of clamor to the injury of a public man, who, they fear, stands too well with the people.3

1 Chase to the Rev. J. Leavitt, Jan. 24, 1864. Warden, "Life of S. P. Chase," p. 562. p. 564.

2 Chase to Dickson, Jan. 27, 1864. Ibid.,
3 Chase to Gilbert, Jan. 30, 1864. Ibid., p. 567.

To another adherent in Ohio he wrote:

I cannot help being gratified by the preference expressed for me in some quarters, for those who express it are generally men of great weight, and high character, and independent judgment. They think there will be a change in the current, which, so far as it is not spontaneous, is chiefly managed by the Blairs.4

He said that he should be glad to have Ohio decidedly on his side, and that if Ohio should express a preference for any other person he would not allow his name to be used. This was quite an unnecessary engagement, as no candidate could possibly be nominated without the support of his own State.

Indifferent as he claimed to be in regard to of February promising to try to find a place his personal prospects, he yet wrote on the 6th for a man recommended by the editor of the "Evening Post," and complaining with some bitterness that that paper had not uttered a kind word in reference to him for some months past. There was, in fact, no limit to these overtures of the Secretary in every direction which he thought might be serviceable to him. A few days after the death of Archbishop Hughes, we find him writing to Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati, reporting the efforts which he is making in every quarter to have the Western prelate appointed the successor of the dead archbishop. On the 18th of January he wrote to a friend of his in Toledo, Ohio, Mr. James C. Hall, formally announcing his candidacy for the Presidency. He told him that a committee of prominent senators, representatives, and citizens had been organized to promote his election; that a sub-committee had conferred with him, and he had consented to their wishes. He then went on to say:

If I know my own heart, I desire nothing so much as the suppression of this rebellion and the establishment of union, order, and prosperity on sure and safe foundations; and I should despise myself if I felt capable of allowing any personal objects to influence me to any action which would affect, by one jot or tittle, injuriously, the accomplishment of those objects. And it is a source of real gratification to believe that those who desire my nomination desire it on public grounds alone, and will not hesitate in any matter which may concern me to act upon such grounds and on such grounds only.

He added that he desired the support of Ohio, and that if he did not receive it he would cheerfully acquiesce.

All through the winter this quasi-candidacy continued. It seemed of the utmost importance to the Secretary and his few adherents, though

4 Chase to Flamen Ball, Feb. 2, 1864. Warden, "Life of S. P. Chase," p. 570.

5 Chase to Bailey. Ibid., p. 571.

6 Chase to Purcell, Feb. 1, 1864. Ibid., p. 568.

it really formed an imperceptible eddy beside the vast current in which the will of the people was sweeping forward to its purpose. Being confined exclusively to politicians, it had, of course, its principal manifestation in the city of Washington. It played its little part in the election of Speaker of the House of Representatives. An attempt was made to identify Mr. Colfax, the most popular candidate for that office, with the adherents of Mr. Chase; but upon hearing of this he at once sought an audience with the President and positively repudiated any such connection. When Congress had organized, the message of the President was received with an enthusiasm which for the moment swept out of sight every trace of opposing opinion. From that moment there was no further question in regard to the Republican nomination.

There was at one time an effort on the part of some of the leading spirits in the Union League, a secret Republican organization which had been very zealous and effective in political work throughout the Union, to commit it to some measure hostile to Mr. Lincoln. This had alarmed even so experienced and astute an observer as Thurlow Weed, who sent to Mr. Seward in the autumn of 1863 a warning that "loyal leagues, into which Odd Fellows and Know Nothings rush, are fixing to control delegate appointments for Mr. Chase." Mr. Seward accepted this warning somewhat too readily, induced by his inveterate anti-masonic prejudices; these fears had no substantial foundation. Some of the leaders of the League, sympathizing strongly with the radicals of Missouri, had indeed from time to time made efforts to commit the order against the President; but such attempts failed there, as elsewhere, on account of the overwhelming tide of contrary opinion, and when the principal chapter of the order met in Washington on the 10th of December, they elected a list of officers who were almost all either friends of Mr. Lincoln or men of sufficient sagacity not to oppose him.

From the beginning Mr. Lincoln had been fully aware of Mr. Chase's candidacy and of everything that was done for its promotion. It was impossible for him to remain unconscious of it; and although he discouraged all conversation on the subject and refused to read letters relating to it, he could not entirely shut the matter out from his cognizance. He had his own opinion of the taste and judgment displayed by Mr. Chase in his criticisms of himself and of his colleagues in the Cabinet; but he took no notice of them.

I have determined [he said] to shut my eyes, so far as possible, to everything of the sort. Mr. Chase

1 MS.

makes a good Secretary, and I shall keep him where he is. If he becomes President, all right. I hope we may never have a worse man. I have observed with regret his plan of strengthening himself. troubling me, if I am compelled to decide in a way Whenever he sees that an important matter is to give offense to a man of some influence, he always ranges himself in opposition to me and persuades the victim that he has been hardly dealt with, and that he would have arranged it very differently. It was so with General Frémont, with General Hunter when I annulled his hasty proclamation, with General Butler when he was recalled from New Orleans, with these Missouri people when they called the other day. I am entirely indifferent as to his success or failure in these schemes so long as he does his duty at the head of the Treasury Department.2

When Rosecrans was removed from the command of the Army of the Cumberland, Mr. Chase pursued the same course. His spiteful comments on that act were reported to the President, who simply laughed at the zealous friend who brought him the news. When told that such tactics might give Mr. Chase the nomination, he said he hoped the country would never do worse. He regretted, however, that the thing had begun, because although it did not annoy him, his friends thought it ought to. He went on appointing by the dozen Mr. Chase's partisans and adherents to places in the Government. He knew perfectly what he was doing, and allowed himself the luxury of a quiet smile as he signed their commissions. He heard more of such gossip than was amusing or agreeable to him. He said on one occasion, "I wish they would stop thrusting that subject of the Presidency into my face. I do not want to hear anything about it."

Of course one reason for the magnanimity with which Mr. Lincoln endured this rivalry of his able and ambitious minister of finance was his consciousness of the inequality of the match between them. Although his renomination was a matter in regard to which he refused to converse much, even with intimate friends, he was perfectly aware of the drift of things. In capacity of appreciating popular currents and in judgment of individual character Mr. Chase was as a child beside him; and he allowed the opposition to himself in his own Cabinet to continue, without question or remark, with all the more patience and forbearance because he knew how feeble it was.

The movement in favor of Mr. Chase culminated in the month of February in a secret circular signed by Senator Pomeroy of Kansas, and widely circulated through the Union. It is admitted by Mr. Chase's sincerest admirers that the weak point of his character was the incapacity shown in his judgment of men and 2 J. H., Diary, Oct. 16, 1863.

his choice of intimates; and in no instance was this defect more glaringly exhibited than in the selection of such a man as Senator Pom eroy to conduct his canvass for the Presidency. The two Kansas senators, Lane and Pomeroy, hated each other intensely, and as long as they were in office together wrangled persistently over the patronage of their State. The President once wrote to Pomeroy, after declining an interview with him :

I wish you and Lane would make a sincere effort to get out of the mood you are in. It does neither of you any good; it gives you the means of tormenting my life out of me, and nothing else.1

Each thought the other got the advantage of him, each abused the President roundly behind his back; but Lane, being the more subtle and adroit politician of the two, never allowed himself to be put in an attitude of open hostility to the Administration. Pomeroy's resentment drove him at last into a mood of sullen animosity towards the President, and it was under his weak leadership that the elements of opposition to Mr. Lincoln at last came together. As the confidential circular issued by the committee of which Pomeroy was the head was the most considerable effort made within the Republican party to defeat the renomination of Mr. Lincoln, we give the document, to show upon how slender a foundation this opposition was based.

The movements recently made throughout the country to secure the renomination of President Lincoln render necessary counter-action on the part of those unconditional friends of the Union who differ from the policy of the Administration.

So long as no efforts were made to forestall the political action of the people, it was both wise and patriotic for all true friends of the Government to devote their influence to the suppression of the rebellion; but when it becomes evident that party and the machinery of official influence are being used to secure the perpetuation of the present Administration, those who conscientiously believe that the interests of the country and of freedom demand a change in favor of vigor and purity and nationality, have no choice but to appeal at once to the people before it is too late to secure a fair discussion of principles.

Those in behalf of whom this appeal is made have thoughtfully surveyed the political field, and have arrived at the following conclusions: First, that even were the reelection of Mr. Lincoln desir able, it is practically impossible against the union of influences which will oppose him. Second, that should he be reëlected, his manifest tendency towards compromises and temporary expedients of policy will become stronger during a second term than it has been in the first, and the cause of human liberty, and the dignity of the nation, suffer proportionately, while the war may continue to languish

1 Lincoln to Pomeroy, May 12, 1864. MS.

during his whole Administration, till the public debt shall become a burden too great to be borne. Third, that the patronage of the Government through the necessities of the war has been so rapidly increased, and to such an enormous extent, and so loosely placed, as to render the application of the one-term principle absolutely essential to the certain safety of our republican institutions. Fourth, that we find united in Hon. Salmon P. Chase more of the qualities needed in a President during the next four years than are combined in any other available candidate. His record is clear and unimpeachable, showing him to be a statesman of rare ability and an administrator of the highest order, while his private character furnishes the surest available guarantee of economy and purity in the management of public affairs. Fifth, that the discussion of the Presidential question, already comoped a popularity and strength in Mr. Chase unexmenced by the friends of Mr. Lincoln, has develpected even to his warmest admirers; and while we are aware that its strength is at present unorganized, and in no condition to manifest its real magnitude, we are satisfied that it only needs a systematic and faithful effort to develop it to an extent sufficient to overcome all opposing obstacles. For these reasons the friends of Mr. Chase have determined on measures which shall present his claims fairly and at once to the country. A central organization has been effected, which already has its connections in all the States, and the object of which is to enable his friends everywhere most effectually to promote his elevation to the Presidency. We wish the hearty coöperation of all those who are in favor of the speedy restoration of the Union on the basis of universal 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 capacity of free institutions, enlarge the resources of the country, diminish the burdens of taxation, elevate the standard of public and private morality, vindicate the honor of the Republic before the world, and in all things make our American nationality the fairest example for imitation which human progress has ever achieved. If these objects meet your approval, you can render efficient aid by exerting yourself at once to organize your section of the country, and by corresponding with the chairman of the National Executive Committee for the purpose either of receiving or imparting information.

Of this circular, sent broadcast over the country, many copies of course fell into the hands of the President's friends, and they soon began to come to the Executive Mansion. The President, who was absolutely without curiosity in regard to attacks upon himself, refused to look at them, and they accumulated unread in the desk of his secretary. At last, however, the circular got into print, and it appeared in the "National Intelligencer" of Washington on the morning of the 22d of February. Mr. Chase at once wrote to the President to assure him that he had no knowledge of the existence of the letter before seeing it in print. He gave a brief account of the solicitations of his friends, in compliance with which he had

consented to be a candidate for the Presidency, adding, with his usual nobility of phrase:

I have never wished that my name should have a moment's thought in comparison with the common cause of enfranchisement and restoration, or be continued before the public a moment after the indication of a preference by the friends of that cause for another. I have thought this explanation due to you as well as to myself. If there is anything in my action or position which in your judgment will prejudice the public interests under my charge, I beg you to say so. I do not wish to administer the Treasury Department one day without your entire confidence. For yourself I cherish sincere respect and esteem, and, permit me to add, affection. Differences of opinion as to administrative action have not changed these sentiments, nor have they been changed by assaults upon me by persons who profess themselves the special representatives of your views and policy. You are not responsible for acts not your own; nor will you hold me responsible except for what I do or say myself. Great numbers now desire your reëlection. Should their wishes be fulfilled by the suffrage of the people, I hope to carry with me into private life the sentiments I now cherish, whole and unimpaired.

The President next day acknowledged the receipt of this letter, and promised to answer it more fully when he could find time to do so. The next week he wrote at greater length: 1

I would have taken time to answer yours of the

22d sooner, only that I did not suppose any evil could result from the delay, especially as, by a note, I promptly acknowledged the receipt of yours, and promised a fuller answer. Now, on consideration I find there is really very little to say. My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's letter having been made public came to me only the day you wrote, but I had, in spite of myself, known of its existence several days before. I have not yet read it, and I think I shall not. I was not shocked or surprised by the appearance of the letter, because I had had knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's committee and of secret issues which, I supposed, came from it and of secret agents who, I supposed, were sent out by it, for several weeks. I have known just as little of these things as my friends have allowed me to know. They bring the documents to me, but I do not read them; they tell me what they think fit to tell me, but I do not inquire for more. I fully concur with you that neither of us can be justly held responsible for what our respective friends may do without our instigation or countenance; and I assure you, as you have assured me, that no assault has been made upon you by my instigation or with my countenance. Whether you shall remain at the head of the Treasury Department is a question which I do not allow myself to consider from any standpoint other than my judgment of the public service, and, in that view, I do not perceive occasion for a change.2

1 Lincoln to Chase, Feb. 29, 1864. MS.

2 After this correspondence had passed, Mr. Pomeroy, who, whatever his defects of character, did not lack courage, rose in his place in the Senate (March 10), reiterated with added energy his criticisms of the

Before the President wrote this letter the candidacy of Mr. Chase had already passed completely out of sight. In fact, it never could have been said to exist except in the imagination of Mr. Chase and a narrow circle of adherents. He was by no means the choice even of the great body of the radicals who were discontented with Mr. Lincoln. So early as the 17th of December, 1863, Mr. Medill, the editor of the "Chicago Tribune," who represented the most vehement Republican sentiment of the North-west, wrote:

I presume it is true that Mr. Chase's friends are working for his nomination, but it is all lost labor; Old Abe has the inside track so completely that he will be nominated by acclamation when the convention meets. . . . The people will say to Chase: "You stick to finance and be content until after 1868"; and to Grant, "Give the rebels no rest; put them through; your reward will come in due time"; but Uncle Abe must be allowed to boss the reconstruction of the Union.

And from the opening of the year 1864 the feeling in favor of the renomination of Lincoln grew so ardent and so restless that it was almost impossible for the most discreet of the Republican leaders to hold the manifestations of the popular preference in check. An attempt was made by the Treasury officials in Indiana to prevent the State convention which met in February from declaring for Lincoln, but it was all in vain. Wherever any assembly of Republicans came together fresh from the people the only struggle was as to who should get first on the floor to demand the President's renomination. Mr. Chase's principal hope was, of course, founded upon the adhesion of his friends in Ohio; but the result there, as elsewhere, proved how blind he was to the course of politics. The governor of the State wrote to the President 3 that he was mortified to hear that he had been set down as a Chase man.

The fact that Mr. Chase has been laboring, for the past year at least, with an eye single to promoting his own selfish purposes, totally regardless of the consequences to the Government, as I believe has been the case, is alone sufficient to induce me to oppose him; but aside from this, the policy inaugurated under your lead must be maintained, and it would be suicidal to change leaders in the midst of the contest.

This is only a specimen of dozens of letters which came from the leading men of the State, who had been relied upon by Mr. Chase to promote his canvass; and finally the feeling grew so strong in Ohio that although no au

President and his eulogy of Mr. Chase, and claimed that the latter had nothing to do with the circular, but had been "drafted into the service" without his consent.

3 Tod to Lincoln, Feb. 24, 1864.

thorized convention of Republicans was to meet at that time, the Union members of the legislature took the matter in hand and gave, on the 25th of February, the coup de grâce to the Secretary's candidacy. They held a full caucus, and nominated Mr. Lincoln for reëlection, at the demand, as they said, of the people and the soldiers of Ohio. The State of Rhode Island, which Mr. Chase had expected the personal influence of his son-in-law, Governor Sprague, to secure for him, also made haste to range itself with the other States of the North; and as more than a month before the great State of Pennsylvania had by the unanimous expression of the Union members of its legislature declared for Lincoln, the Secretary at last concluded that the contest was hopeless, and wrote another letter to Mr. Hall, referring to his former statement that should his friends in Ohio manifest a preference for another he would acquiesce in that decision, and adding: The recent action of the Union members of our legislature indicates such a preference. It becomes my duty, therefore, and I count it more a privilege than a duty,-to ask that no further consider ation be given to my name. It was never more important than now that all our efforts and all our energies should be devoted to the suppression of the rebellion, and to the restoration of order and prosperity, on solid and sure foundations of union, freedom, and impartial justice; and I earnestly urge all with whom my counsels may have weight to allow nothing to divide them while this great work, in comparison with which persons and even parties are nothing, remains unaccomplished.

In the closing line of this letter occurs the first intimation of that feeling of revolt against the Republican party which afterwards led Mr. Chase to seek the nomination of the Democrats. In numerous letters written during the spring he reiterated his absolute withdrawal from the contest, but indulged in sneers and insinuations against the President, which show how deeply he was wounded by his discomfiture.1


BEFORE the snows melted, it had become evident to the most narrow and malignant of Mr. Lincoln's opponents that nothing could

1 In an article published in "The Galaxy," July, 1873, by Mr. J. M. Winchell, whom Mr. Schuckers in his "Life of Chase" calls the author of the Pomeroy circular (see Schuckers' "Life of Chase," p. 500), occurs this singular passage: "The movement in favor of the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Chase, had culminated in disaster; that gentleman's chief supporters, including his senatorial son-in-law, having manifested a plentiful lack of nerve or zeal, when the critical question became public, of arraying him against his official chief, and made haste to take him at his word of declination, diplomatically spoken, in order to rouse their flagging

prevent his renomination by the Republican convention which was to meet at Baltimore in June. There was no voice of opposition to him in any organized Republican assembly, except in Missouri, and even there the large majority of radical Republicans were willing to accept the universal verdict of their party; but there were a few earnest spirits scattered throughout the country to whom opposition to the Administration had become the habit of a lifetime. There were others not so honest, who had personal reasons for disliking the President. To these it was impossible to stand quietly by and see Mr. Lincoln made his own successor without one last effort to prevent it. The result of informal consultations among them was the publication of a number of independent calls for a mass convention of the people to meet at Cleveland, Ohio, on the 31st of May, a week before the assembling of the Republican convention at Baltimore.

The two centers of this disaffection were in St. Louis and New York. In the former city it was composed of a small fraction of a faction. The large majority of those radical politicians who had been for two years engaged in the bitter struggle with Blair and his associates still retained their connection with the Republican party, and had no intention of breaking off their relations with the Union party of the nation. It was a small fraction of their number which issued its call to the disaffected throughout the nation. Harking back to the original cause of quarrel, they had attached themselves blindly to the personal fortunes of General Frémont; they now put themselves in communication with a small club of like-minded enthusiasts in New York called the "Central Frémont Club," and invited their radical fellow-citizens to meet them in convention at Cleveland. They made no pretense of any purpose of consultation or of independent individual action. The object stated in their call was "in order then and there to recommend the nomination of John C. Frémont for the Presidency of the United States, and to assist in organizing for his election." They denounced "the imbecile and vacillating policy of the present Administration in the con

spirits." In a letter of the 7th of May (Chase to Riddle, Warden, p. 576) Mr. Chase said: "I am trying to keep all Presidential aspiration out of my head. I fancy that as President I could take care of the Treasury better with the help of a Secretary than I can as Secretary without the help of a President. But our Ohio folks don't want me enough, if they want me at all, to make it proper for me to allow my name to be used. I hope the time is not distant when I can honorably separate myself from political affairs altogether, leaving the new era to the new men whom God may raise up for it."

« AnkstesnisTęsti »