Quiet Day at the White House

March 16, 1863

The Cabinet continues discussion of  letters of marque and piracy begun the previous week.

A day after spending the evening with President Lincoln, Senator Charles Sumner writes British statesman John Bright to complain about Secretary of Stated William H. Seward “A difficulty, amounting almost to calamity, is the want of confidence in Mr. Seward.  There is not a senator — not one — who is his friend politically, & the larger part are positively, & some even bitterly against him.  It is known that from the beginning he has had no true conception of our case; that he regarded this tremendous event with levity; that he has filled his conversation & his writings with false prophecies; that he has talked like a politician, & that he has said things & kept up relations, shewing an utter indifference to his old party associations.  There are some who attribute to him a purpose of breaking down the Republican Party, even at the expense of his country, to revenge his defeat at Chicago.  I do not share this judgment, &, when I have heard it pressed upon the Presdt, I have presented a milder theory which is simply this: that he failed at the beginning to see this event in its true character & that, blinded by an illimitable egotism, he has never been able fully to correct his original misapprehensions.

In the House of Reps. he has no friends; nor among his colleagues of the cabinet, not one of whom regards him with any favor.–I have mentioned before the vis inertia of the Presdt — & his indisposition to change.  Then there is a fear of his friends in the press & in business, lest they should make war on the Administration, if he were dismissed.

President Lincoln writes that West Virginia Congressman Kellian V. Whaley “calls and says he has nothing to fall back upon now, except to have Rev. Mr. Stevens, appointed a chaplain for the hospital at Charleston, Kanhawa Co. Va.”

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Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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