President Lincoln Rejects Resignation by Treasury Secretary Chase

February 29, 1864

President Lincoln responds to a resignation letter by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase: “I would have taken time to answer yours of the 22nd. sooner, only that I did not suppose any evil could result from the delay, especially as, by a note, I promptly acknowled[ged] 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 it’s 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 own 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 will not allow myself to consider from any stand-point other than my judgment of the public service; and, in that view, I do not perceive occasion for a change

Meanwhile, Ohio friends of Chase visit the White House to determine if the president knew of or approved General Frank Blair’s attack on the House floor.  Former Ohio Congressman Albert Riddle recalled: “My successor in the House, R. P. Spalding, the personal and confidential friend nearest the Secretary, was absent in Ohio, but was expected back on Sunday night. He came on Monday. I had an interview with him, and heard that he had met Mr. Chase at Baltimore and had found him in a very unpleasant state of mind.

I was alarmed by the fear of a threatened defection of the Chase men at the coming convention, and more particularly in the campaign and at the polls. It was of the utmost importance that every possible vote should be secured for Mr. Lincoln. To me, it seemed possible that the resignation of Mr. Chase for reasons reflecting on Mr. Lincoln, might defeat him. Mr. Chase’s resignation would be made to appear to them as solely due to the President.

Spalding fully adopted my views, and at my request accompanied me to meet the President, toward whom he had never been cordial, though he was never among his detractors.

Mr. Lincoln received us politely but with no pretence of cordiality. After brief salutations he passed around to the other side of the long wide table and sat down by a bundle of papers, grimly awaiting my assault.

” Mr. President,” I said, ” I am one of the personal and political friends of Mr. Chase, who believes that the safety of the Union cause requires that you should be unanimously nominated at the June Convention, and should receive in November the eagerly cast ballot of every man devoted to our country. It is this conviction which brings me here to remove, if I can, a most seriously disturbing cause which threatens to render this consummation impossible.

” As you are aware, on last Saturday, General Frank Blair, a Republican representative from Missouri, repeated on the floor of the House his attack of the early part of the session upon the Secretary of the Treasury, and this with added acrimony. You are aware of the unfortunate occurrence between General Blair and the Executive, in reference to the resumption by Mr. Blair of this Government’s commission and his assignment to one of the highest commands in the army, and you are also aware of his departure, following immediately upon the close of the speech. These events, coincident with his attack, seemed as if planned for dramatic effect, as parts of a conspiracy against a most important member of the Cabinet and Administration. The always alert, jealous, and somewhat exacting abolitionists, forgetting how impossible it is that you can be guilty of an attack upon your Secretary upon your own administration, believe that Blair must have had at least your countenance in this wretched business, and they demand the instant resignation of Mr. Chase. It is only by the strenuous exertions of one or two persons that this has been delayed.

” Mr. President, Mr. Chase’s abrupt resignation now would be equal in its effects to a severe set-back of the army under Grant. It would foretell the defection of his friends at Baltimore, equal in effect to the defeat of that army in a pitched battle. Their defection in November might be the destruction of our cause.

President Lincoln responded: “Gentlemen, I am glad to meet you, glad for your mission, and especially for your way of executing it. It makes my statement easier than I expected.

I nevertheless will say about what I intended. Your frankness and cordiality shall be fully responded to.”  He then showed them his response to Chase.

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “It is a war and spring-like day, with a promise of rain in the murky and heavy sky, and the air which comes in at my open windows might be that of May.  The crocuses are in full bloom in the public gardens, and here and there other early plants are beginning to be confident that winter is almost gone.”   He added: “In the political circles of the Capital, an increase of activity is clearly discernible.  The unfortunate ‘secret circular,’ issued by a more zealous than discreet friend of Secretary [Salmon P.] Chase, has turned all eyes upon him more than ever, as the most prominent opponent of the reelection pf President Lincoln, and as his wiser supporters seem to think, very unfortunately for him.  Our people, as a general thing, has a prejudice against ‘secret circulars.’  Other candidates are mentioned, and even the Vice-Presidency is seriously talked of among the class of men out of whom it has heretofore been our practice to select that very honorable but very powerless office.”

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Presidential Politics Continues to Heat Up

February 28, 1864

President Lincoln gains support for renomination as friends of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase continue to press his candidacy.  Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary : ‘Friend [Isaac] Newton is full of news. He tells me today, that a secret pamphlet has been gotten up (he thinks, by the machinations of Secy. Usher and Senator Pomeroy) levelled agst. Mrs. L.[incoln] in reference to the infamous Watt scandal.  He expects to get a copy tomorrow; and if turn out to be what supposes, thinks it will produce an explosion.”

President Lincoln is informed Union members of Ohio Legislature unanimously supported his renomination. Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes home: “The interest of the week has been centered in political matters almost entirely.  Chase as you know would like to be the next candidate for the end.  Notwithstanding he made but little headway, he still persevered, and succeeded during this winter in enlisting a few malcontents in the republican party actively in his behalf.  They organized a committee, and have issued one or two documents designed mainly to damage Mr. Lincoln; and about a week ago a Secret Circular signed by Senator Pomeroy as Chairman of the Committee, disparaging Mr. Lincoln and lauding Mr. Chase found its way into print.  The Circular I suppose was not issued with Mr. Chase’s knowledge or consent; but being circulated by his active friends, is nevertheless connected in the public mind with Mr. Chase’s know aspirations to the Presidency and consequently he is, whether justly or unjustly, what very slight prospect he had because it has stirred up all Mr. Lincoln’s friends to active exertion, and already four States have chosen and instructed their delegates for him.  Nothing, as things look now, can prevent the renomination and re-election of Mr Lincoln, except serious military disasters during the Spring campaigns and which of course we do not look for.

“Still they sometimes come and a very disagreeable one has within a day or two been reported to us in Florida.  Gen. Seymour it seems, neglected Gillmore’s instructions to stay in his position and wait for the enemy; but went out to find him and has lost a battle, 800 or a thousand men and five guns.  Our first information about it came from Hay, although I infer from his letters that he was not in or near the fight.

“Tonight the city is full of rumors that the Army of the Potomac is in motion but the President has no reliable information about it.

President Lincoln cables Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas: “I wish you would go to the Mississippi river at once, and take hold of, and be master in, the contraband and leasing business.”

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Addresses New York Draft Quotas

February 27, 1864

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “You ask some instruction from me in relation to the Report of a Special Commission, constituted by an order of the War Department, dated Dec. 5 1863, ‘to revise the enrolment & quotas of the City & State of New-York, & report whether there be any & what errors, or irregularities therein, and what corrections, if any should be made.’  [The aspect of this case, as presented by this order and report, is entirely new to me, I having personally known nothing of the order, commission, or report, until now presented for my consideration.]  In the correspondence between the Governor of New-York and myself last summer, I understood him to complain that the enrolments in several of the Districts of that State had been neither accurately nor honestly made; and, in view of this I for the draft then immediately ensuing, ordered an arbitrary reduction of the quotas in several of the Districts, wherein they seemed to large, [for the draft then immediately ensuing,] and said ‘After this drawing these four Districts and also the seventeenth and twentyninth shall be carefully re-enrolled, and, if you please, agents of yours may witness every step of the process’  In a subsequent letter I believe some additional Districts were put into the list of those to be re-enrolled.  My idea was to do the work over, according to the law, in presence of the complaining party, and thereby to correct anything which might be found amiss.  The Commission, whose work I am considering, seem to have proceeded upon a totally different idea.  Not going forth to find men at all, they have proceeded altogether upon paper examinations and mental processes.  One of their conclusions, as I understand is, that as the law stands, and attempting to follow it, the e[n]rolling officers could not have made the enrolments much more accurately than they did.  The report, on this point, might be useful to Congress.

The Commission conclude that the quotas for the draft should be based upon entire population, and they proceed upon this basis to give a table for the State of New-York, in which some districts are reduced, and some increased;  and let them be reduced according to the table, in the others.  This to be no precedent for subsequent action; but as I think this report may, on full consideration, be shown to have much that is valuable in it, I suggest that such consideration be given it; and that it be especially considered whether it’s suggestion can be conformed to without an alteration of the law.

Elsewhere in Washington, attention is on presidential politics. Missouri Congressman Frank Blair, on leave from his army post,  delivers first speech against Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. “‘A more profligate administration of the Treasury Department never existed under any Government…’ Frank said.  The whole Mississippi valley, he charged, ‘is rank and fetid with the fraud and corruptions practiced there by his agents… ‘Permits’ to buy cotton are just as much a marketable commodity as the cotton itself…The practice of taking bribes on the part of these Treasury agents for permits to trade, and for conniving at violations of law, is so common that it has almost ceased to attract attention or excite comment.  It is the most corrupting and demoralizing system that ever was invented, and has become a public scandal.’  No wonder, Frank raged, that General Grant said, ‘No honest man could do business under such a system.’

Congressman Henry T. Blow had attacked Blair for the introduction of that resolution, but Blair replied that:

‘A more profligate administration of the Treasury Department never existed under any Government; that the whole Mississippi is rank and fetid with the fraud and corruptions practiced there by his agents; that ‘permits’ to buy cotton are just as much a marketable commodity as the cotton itself; that these permits to buy cotton are brought to St. Louis and other western cities by politicians and favorites from distant parts of the country, and sold on ‘change to the highest bidder, whether he be a secessionists or not, and that, too, at a time when the best Union men in these cities are refused permits. That is equally true of the ‘trade stores,’ as they are called – monopolies of trae in certain districts or cities in the South.  These ‘trade stores’ are given to political partisans and favorites, who share the profits with other men who furnish the capital, Mr. Chase furnishing capital to his friends and partisans in the shape of a permit or privilege to monopolize the trade of a certain city or district; and furthermore, ti can be established that the practice of taking bribes on the part of these Treasury agents for permits to trade, and for conniving at violations of law, is so common that it has almost ceased to attract attention or excite comment.  It is the most corrupting and demoralizing system that ever was invented, and has become a public scandal.’  No wonder, Frank raged, that General Grant said, ‘No honest man could do business under such a system.’

Blair’s brother, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, begins sending the incendiary speech to other Republicans – just as Chase’s friends had sent around the Pomeroy Circular.

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Cabinet Meeting at the White House Focuses on Politics

February 26, 1864

“Only three of us were at the Cabinet council to-day,” wrote Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles in his diary. “Some matters of interest were touched upon, but there was soon a discussion on recent political movements.  The President has been advised of the steps taken to forward the Chase operations.  Circulars were put in his hands before signed.”

President Lincoln issues “General Orders, No. 76″ regarding deserters: “The President directs that the sentences of all deserters, who have been condemned by Court Martial to death, and that have not been otherwise acted upon by him, be mitigated to imprisonment during the war, at the Dry Tortugas, Florida, where they will be sent under suitable guards by orders from army commanders.

The Commanding Generals, who have power to act on proceedings of Courts Martial in such cases, are authorized in special cases to restore to duty deserters under sentence, when in their judgment the service will be thereby benefited.

For the second straight night, President Lincoln watches actor Edwin Booth at Grover’s Theater.

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Louisiana Elects Reconstruction Governor

February 25, 1864

Michael Hahn, a moderate Unionist, is elected governor of Louisiana in a reconstruction vote arranged by General Nathaniel Banks on February 22.   Words of his election over a more conservative candidate and a more radical candidate is sent to the White House by attorney Cuthbert Bullitt: “I had the honor of giving you the news of our State elections, later accounts, renders the victory more brilliant. The Lincoln ticket beating all opposition, Slaying the Chase men right & left”

President Lincoln instructs Secretary of the Treasury to have J.F. Bailey at the White House at 7 PM to discuss  New York customs problems.  President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “I am told there are on hundred colored men at Alexandria, Va. who wish to go to Massachusetts; with their own consent and the consent of Gov. Pierpoint, let them go.”

President Lincoln writes General Frederick Steele regarding reconstruction in Arkansas: “General Sickles is not going to Arkansas.  He probably will make a tour down the Mississippi, and home by the Gulf and ocean, but he will not meddle in your affairs.  At one time I did intend to have him call on you and explain more fully than I could do, by letter or Telegraph, so as to avoid a difficulty coming of my having made a plan here while the convention made one there, for re-organizing Arkansas, but even his doing that, has been given up for more than two weeks.  Please show this to Gov. Murphy to save me Telegraphing him.

General Sickles here, and if an order has been made to that effect that it may be revoked.  His coming here would only be an annoyance and will do no good.  Everything is working well.  General Steele is doing everything that can be done.’

President and Mrs. Lincoln attend Grover’s Theatre performance by actor Edwin Booth, playing Brutus in ‘Julius Caesar.”

Published in: on February 25, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Accumulates Support for Reelection

February 24, 1864

On the heels of news of support in Indiana and Ohio for his reelection, President Lincoln meets with a New York political delegation headed by Senator Edwin D.  Morgan.

President Lincoln issues a pass to former Secretary of War Simon Cameron to visit Fortress Monroe – where he will sound out General Benjamin Butler, a former Massachusetts congressman admired by Radical Republicans, about presidential politics.

Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

President Lincoln Delays Response to Secretary Chase

February 23, 1864

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase does not attend Cabinet meeting at the White House.  “As usual, two or three were absent,” writes Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles in his diary.  John Palmer “usher has gone to the front, where there was a ball and fancy demonstrations.  He is fond of matters of that kind and of the little flying gossip that is about.”

In the wake of the Pomeroy Circular, President Lincoln’s supporters are even more active. Historian William Frank Zornow wrote Lincoln & the Party Divided that “many of Lincoln’s officeholders ‘serving their country at prices ranging from $3,500 to $6,000 per annum’ were equally as active in the President’s behalf.  At the [Indiana] state convention on February 23, Lincoln’s men, former Governor Cyrus Allen, Provost Marshall Richard Thompson, and John Defrees, superintendent of the Government Printing Office, surprised Chase’s supporters by forcing through a resolution endorsing the President’s re-election even before the temporary organization had been completed.  It was a stunning blow to the Chase men, who were taken completely by surprise.”1

President Lincoln writes to Salmon P. Chase regarding the Pomeroy Circular: “Yours of yesterday in relation to the paper issued by Senator Pomeroy was duly received; and I write this note merely to say I will answer a little more fully when I can find the leisure to do so.” Chase wrote Lincoln on February 22: “It is probable that you have already seen a letter printed in the Constitutional Union Saturday afternoon, & reprinted in the Intelligencer this morning, written by Senator Pomeroy, as Chairman of a Committee of my political friends.

‘I had no knowledge of the existence of this letter before I saw it in the Union.

‘A few weeks ago several gentlemen called on me & expressed their desire, which, they said, was shared by many earnest friends of our common cause, that I would allow my named to be submitted to the consideration of the people in connexion with the approaching election of Chief Magistrate.  i replied that I feared that any such use of my name might impair my usefulness as Head of the Treasury Department & that I much preferred to continue my labors where I am & free from distracting influences, until I could honorably retire from them.  We had several interviews.  After consultation, and conference with others, they expressed their united judgment that the use of my name as proposed would not affect my usefulness in my present position, and that I ought to consent to it.  I accepted their judgment as decisive; but at the same time told them distinctly that I could render them no help, except what Might come incidently from the faithful discharge of public duties, for these must have my whole time.  I said also that I desired them to regard themselves as not only entirely at liberty, but as requested to withdraw my name from consideration wherever, in their judgment the public interest would be promoted by so doing.

‘The organization of the Committee, I presume, followed these conversations; but I was not consulted about it; nor have I been consulted as to  its action; nor do I even know who compose it.  I have never wished that my name should have a moment’s thought in comparison with the common cause of enfranchisement & restoration or be continued before 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 interest under my charge I beg you to say so.  I do not wish to administer 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 assault upon me by persons who profess themselves to spread representations of your views and policy.  Your 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 reelection.  Should their wishes be fulfilled by the suffrages of the people I hope to carry with me, into private life the sentiments I now cherish, whole and unimpaired.’

President Lincoln writes young Willie Smith: “Your fiend, Leroy C. Driggs, tells me you are a very earnest friend of mine, for which please allow me to thank you.  You and those of your age are to take charge of this country when we older ones shall have gone; and I am glad to learn that you already take so lively an interest in what just now so deeply concerns us.”

At night, the Lincolns host their regular Tuesday evening reception which is well attended.

Published in: on February 23, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Secretary Chase Denies Presidential Candidacy to President Lincoln

February 22, 1864

By a 4-1 margin, the Republican National Committee backs President Lincoln’s reelection at a meeting at the Washington home of the chairman of the Republican National Committee, New York Senator Edwin D. Morgan.  Meanwhile, the Pomeroy Circular is published in National Intelligencer, creating a backlash against the presidential candidacy of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase.  Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “A circular, ‘strictly private,’ signed by Senator Pomeroy and in favor of Mr. Chase for President, has been detected and published.  IT will be more dangerous in its recoil than its projectile.  That is, it will damage Chase more than Lincoln.  The effect on the two men themselves will not be serious.  Both of them desire the position, which is not surprising; it certainly is not in the President, who would be gratified with an indorsement.  Were I to advise Chase, it would be not to aspire for the position, especially not as a competitor with the man who has given him his confidence, and with whom he has acted in the administration of the government at a most eventful period.  The period well understands Chase’s wish, and is somewhat hurt that he should press forward under the circumstances.  Chase tries to have it though that he is indifferent and scarcely cognizant of what is doing in his behalf, but no one of his partisans is well posted as Chase himself.

The National Committee appointed at Chicago met today.  As Connecticut had sent forward no one as a substitute in my place, I was for a brief time with the committee.  I judge that four fifths are for the reelection of the President. The proceedings were harmonious, and will, I think, be satisfactory.  I do not like this machinery and wish it could be dispensed with.

Historian William Ernest Smith wrote in Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics that Missouri Congressman Frank “ Blair was begging the President to allow him to force the Radicals into the open.  Their recent convention in Baltimore had endorsed Lincoln for renomination, but it had extended its sympathy to the Radicals of Missouri, who were calling loudly for his defeat.  They deplored the influence of the conservatives in the Cabinet, meaning Blair, Bates, and Welles.   The Speaker of the House of Representatives had justified the President in distrusting him by his recent public announcement that he was opposed to Lincoln’s renomination, and Congressman Blow had just arraigned Blair in the House of Representatives.”

Historian John Nevins wrote in The War for the Union, “Chase assured Lincoln on February 22 that he had known nothing about the circular or a formal committee, although he had consented to the use of his name to ‘several gentlemen’ who had called him.  Ten years later, his statement that he had no prior knowledge of the circular was contradicted by its author, James M. Winchell, who declared flatly that Chase had been informed of the proposed action and approved it fully.”

White House aide William O. Stoddard writes in an anonymous newspaper dispatch: “I have had a quiet week of it here – no excitement of any kind among the general public, and not much beside routine work among officials.  As to Congress, some of us will begin to lower our opinion of that August body if they do not soon get to work in better fashion.

Attorney General Edward Bates writes: “Saw the President.  Talked about Mo. affairs – suggested the R.R. (S.W. Branch) good in itself for the nation and the State. And would be sure to unite the state for him.”  President Lincoln writes General  Frederick Steele, commander in Arkansas: “Your of yesterday received.  Your conference with citizens approved.  Let the election be on the fourteenth of March, as they agreed.”  Steele had written the previous day: “I called together the prominent citizens who telegraphed you opposite opinions in regard to the day on which the election should be held and they agree unanimously on the fourteenth (14) of March.  Your written instructions are not yet rec’d.  It is probable that several thousand votes will be polled in excess of the required number.  A. A. C. Rogers of Pine Bluff is announced as opposing candidate for governor.”

President Lincoln writes to Benjamin F. Loan: “At your instance I directed a part of the advertising for this Department to be done in the St. Joseph Tribune.  I have just been informed that the Tribune openly avows it’s determination that in no event will it support the re-election of the President.  As you probably known, please inform me whether this is true.  The President’s wish is that no objection shall be made to any paper respectfully expressing it’s preference for the nomination of any candidate; but that the patronage of the government shall be given to none which engages in cultivating a sentiment to oppose the election of any when he shall have been fairly nominated by the regular Union National Convention.”

At night, President Lincoln speaks briefly at the Patent Office Fair for benefit of Christian Commission. Mary Lincoln was said to have told Mr. Lincoln after his speech: “That was the worst speech I ever listened to in my life.  How any man could get up and deliver such remarks to an audience is more than I can understand.  I wanted the earth to sink and let me go through.”

Published in: on February 22, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Impact of Pomeroy Circular Being Assessed

February 21, 1864

President Lincoln is kept abreast of efforts to promote the presidential candidacy of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.  Historians Harry. J. Carman and Reinhard H. Luthin wrote in Lincoln and the Patronage: “”Neither the pamphlet entitled The Next Presidential election nor the ‘Pomeroy Circular’ met with the reception hoped for by their authors.  In fact, both aroused hostility and condemnation.  Embarrassed and somewhat humiliated. Chase protested to Lincoln that the ‘Circular’ had been issued without his knowledge and offered to resign.  To his friends the Treasury head wrote that he had finally, very reluctantly, consented to allow his name to be used for the presidency.  For Lincoln his ambitious cabinet officer presented a dilemma.  For the President to intimate that Chase should resign his post would be an admission that he feared the talented Ohioan as a rival; moreover, the nation might interpret such a course as notice that Lincoln had cast his lot with the conservatives, and thus further alienate the radical antislavery wing of the party.  Any such split would not only endanger the Unionist cause but jeopardize Lincoln’s own reelection.  On the other hand, if he retained Chase he would place his administration in the uniquely embarrassing position of having one of its chief officers striking at it from within.  Shrewdly Lincoln refrained from accepting Chase’s resignation.  Instead, he endured what must have been a galling situation and awaited developments as the state Republican-Unionist conventions met to decide on their presidential preferences.”

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Lincolns Hold Saturday Reception at White House

February 20, 1864

President Lincoln writes Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase:” Herewith I return the affidavit you handed me. In glancing over it I do not perceive anything necessarily inconsistent with the practice of detectives, and others, engaged in the business of “rascal-catching;” but a closer consideration might show it. It seems to me that August, the month within which the affiant fixes his first interview with Hanscomb, was really before Hanscomb left Boston and came to New York.”  Chase had written the President in regard to problems with the Customs office in New York: The Solicitor informs me that Hanscomb went to New York before August: but, also, shows me a letter from Mr. Bailey in which he says he does not put much confidence in its statements. You were kind enough to say you would see Mr. Bailey: but he will not be here till the latter part of this week or the first of next.

Nearby at the War Department, there was controversy over the commanders appointed in the Army of the Potomac.   Historian Freedman Cleaves wrote in Meade of Gettysburg,:   “In Washington again on the twentieth, Meade so strongly objected to Sedgwick’s removal that Stanton allowed him a concession.  Sedgwick, he suggested could be transferred to military operations in the Shenandoah Valley, an independent command.  In that case, Meade preferred John Gibbon to succeed him with the Sixth Corps.  But Lincoln interposed with an order directly that General Franz Sigel be assigned to the Shenandoah.  Although he never proved much of a general, Sigel had organized the Third Missouri Volunteers and had son some early success in his state.  Brought east, he had fought in the Shenandoah and at Second Bull Run.  His command was later given the dignity of an Eleventh Corps, as designated, but he could never get along with Halleck and therefore asked to be relieved.  After several radical German delegations pressed for his reappointment, Lincoln acted.  As a result, Meade was able to retain an officer whom army men considered on of his best soldiers.  Otherwise, only Hancock, among his former corps leaders, would have been left.”

The Washington Constitutional Union publishes the “Pomeroy Circular” pushing the presidential candidacy of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.  The Pomeroy Circular stated in part: “Those in behalf of whom this communication is made have thoroughly surveyed the political field, and have arrived at the following conclusions:

“First, that even were the reelection of Mr. Lincoln desirable, it is prctically impossible against the union of influences which will oppose him.

Second, that should he be reelected, 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 and honor of the nation, suffer proportionately, while the war may continue to languish 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 ‘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, clear and unimpeachable, showing him to be a statesman of rare ability and an administrator of the very highest order, while his private character furnishes the surest obtainable guarantee of economy and purity in the management of public affairs.

“Fifth, that the discussion of the Presidential question, already commenced by the friends of Mr. Lincoln, has developed a popularity and strength in Mr. Chase unexpected even to his warmest admirers and while we are aware that this strength is at present unorganized, and in no condition to manifest its real magnitude, we are satisfied that it only needs 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…”

Published in: on February 20, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment