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.”

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