Prior Controversies Concern White House

October 30, 1863

Journalist Noah Brooks, a close Lincoln confidante, writes of the recent controversial speech on October 3 by Postmaster General Montgomery Blair in Rockville: “There is but one expression, and that of reprobation, toward Postmaster General Blair for his extraordinary course, and it now remains to be seen whether Lincoln will sacrifice his chances of a renomination by tacitly indorsing Blair’s ratiocinations by retaining him in the Cabinet.  Although he was appointed to his place upon the urgent request of such radicals as Sumner and Wilson, against whom he now turns, we cannot expect that any sense of obligation to them would induce him to modify his own private views or restrain his public utterances.  Good faith is not a characteristic trait of the Blair family.  But god sense, at least, might have restrained him from loading his own wrong-headed opinions upon the Administration of which he is a member.  Soon after the Pennsylvania election Judge Kelley, of Philadelphia, and John W. Forney called upon the President with their congratulations — and Forney, with his usual outspoken candor, very plainly said to the President, Blair being then present, that his conservative friend Governor Curtin desired the President to know that if the Rockville speech of Postmaster General Blair had been made thirty days earlier it would have lost the Union ticket in Pennsylvania twenty thousand votes.  He also expressed his astonishment to Blair that he, a Cabinet Minister, should have the hardihood to utter such sentiments in public, just on the even of important elections in other States, as those of the Rockville speech.  Blair responded that whatever Forney might think of the matter, he had only spoken at Rockville his honest sentiments.  ‘Then,’ said the impetuous Forney, turning upon him, ‘why don’t you leave the Cabinet,’ and not load down with your individual and peculiar sentiments the Administration to which you belong?’

“The President say by, a silent spectator of this singular and unexpected scene….

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary that former Ohio Governor William Dennison “came this morning to urge the sending of Rosecrans to Missouri.”  After the Lincolns attended a performance by Fanchon the Cricket at Ford’s Theatre, “About midnight the President came in.  I told him about Dennison’s note and asked if D— had not always been a Chase man.  He said ‘Yes until recently but he seems now anxious for my reelection.”

Hay writes regarding December 1862 cabinet crisis that President Lincoln tells him: “I do not now see how it could have been done better.  I am sure it was right.  If I had yielded to that storm & dismissed Seward the thing would all have slumped over one way & we should have been left with a scanty handful of supporters.  When Chase sent in his resignation I saw that the game was in my own hands & I put it through.  When I had settled this important business at last with much labor & to entire satisfaction, into my room one day walked D.D. Field & George Opdyke and began a new attack upon  me to force me to remove Seward.  For once in my life I rather gave my temper the vein and I talked to those men pretty damned plainly.  Opdyke may be right in being cool to me.  I may have given him reason this morning.”

“I wish they would stop thrusting that subject of the Presidency into my face.  I don’t want to hear anything about it.  The Republican of today has an offensive paragraph in regard to an alleged nomination of me by the mass meeting in New York last night.”

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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