Cabinet Officers Write President

March 19, 1864

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton writes President Lincoln in response to his lengthy missive of the previous day: “Your order for the discharge of any prisoners of war, will be cheerfully & promptly obeyed.”

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes President Lincoln: “I enclose a letter from a member of the Kentucky Legislature & one of the calmest and most sensible men in the State known to me.

The part relating to the Union men of the State has the more interest for the fact that the writer has heretofore stood fast by [Governor Thomas E.] Bramlette.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes President Lincoln regarding the seizure of a steamer on the Mississippi River: “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the letter of Mr. Joshua Hanna, of Pittsburg, dated the 12th inst., addressed to the Secretary of War,1 and accompanying communication, dated the 16th inst., addressed to you, in relation to the case of the Steamer “Volunteer,’ seized in November last by the Mississippi Squadron, which were referred by you to this Department for information on the subject.

I would respectfully state that this Department has not been furnished by Rear Admiral Porter2 with a full report of the seizure of the Steamer “Volunteer.” On the 20th ultimo he forwarded to me an appraisement of the vessel, stating that she had been captured some time since for “illicit trading, robbing plantations &c.” and that owing to the scarcity of transports he had obtained permission from the Judge of the District to use her for Government service. The “Volunteer” was appraised at twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.) and a requisition for that sum was drawn by this Department for the payment of the same.

You will thus perceive that the case is in the hands of the District Court at Springfield Ills, and therefore, no longer under the control of this Department.

Elsewhere presidential politics continued to heat up.  “General John C. Fremont was being pushed to the enter the presidential race against President Lincoln.” Historian Allan Nevins wrote in Fremont, Pathmarker of the West: “The first token of the way the wind was veering appeared on March 19th, when radical and old-school Abolitionists of New York came together at Cooper Union in an earnest Fremont meeting,’ of which Fremont knew nothing in advance.  The men in charge were for the most part obscure. Under the blazing gas jets in Room 20 the erudite Friedrich Kapp declaimed, with a marked accent, upon the need for a change of government.  A Mr. Whipple gained the floor, and launched into personal abuse of Lincoln.   He had himself seen, he said,, the bad effects of liquor and the evil influence of slavery.  A platform calling for ‘vigorous, consistent, concentrated prosecution of the war’ was read amid cheers.  Then there was a stir at the door, a sudden clapping of hands, and everybody arose as the loose, ill-clad figure of Greeley shuffled in.  The editor’s remarks, as reported by his own journal, were confused, but he squeakily made three facts clear.  First, that he thought it would have been well to postpone all nominations and campaigning until people could se what Grant would do in the summer campaigns; second, that he advocated a single term for Presidents; and third, that while he expected to support the regular nominee of the Republican Convention, he believed that ‘the people of New York were in favor of putting down the rebellion and its cause, and sustaining Freedom, and he believed that John c. Fremont would carry out such views.’”

President Lincoln attends his wife’s afternoon reception at the White House.

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