General Butler’s Return to New Orleans Command Urged by Secretary Chase

October 9, 1863

The reinstatement of General Benjamin F. Butler as Union commander in New Orleans is urged by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase in a meeting with President Lincoln.   The controversial Butler had been removed as the military commander there a year earlier and had since been without a command.  He remained popular with Radical Republicans.

Attorney General Edward Bates writes President Lincoln regarding a troubling legal case: “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 3d instant referring certain documents in the case of Lewis Bollman, who has appealed to you to correct an alleged error of the Secretary of the Interior, in refusing to allow a claim for $130, for services on the Agricultural Report.”

Without discussing the much mooted question of the power of the President or Head of a Department to direct the payment of an account against the Government, irrespective of the action of the accounting officers, and, conceeding all that has been claimed for the Heads of the Departments in the premises, I think it may be safely affirmed that there is no law which imposes on the President the duty of adjusting and settling claims upon the Treasury. And if any such law existed, its observance would be simply impossible, since, as will be conceded by most persons, the President has enough to occupy his time and attention, without devoting them to the work of auditing private claims. I do not deny his power to control the action of the Secretary of the Interior, in a case like this, but I would seriously question the expediency of its exercise. And as, to entertain this appeal would be a precedent of doubtful propriety, I respectfully advise that you refer the claim to the Secretary of the Interior and the regular accounting officers.

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “Mrs. Thomas G. Clemsin is a daughter of the late Hon. John C. Calhoun, and is now residing near Bladensburg in Maryland.  She understands that her son, Calhoun Clemsin, is now a prisoner of War to us at “Johnsons Island[”]; and she asks the previlege merely of visiting him. With your approbation, I consent for her to go.”

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

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