Slavery is something “no man desires for himself”

March 22, 1864

“I never knew a man who wished to be himself a slave,” President Lincoln writes.  “Consider if you know any good thing, that no man desires for himself.”

Snow storm hits Washington.  Cabinet meeting at the White House was somewhat acrimonious.  Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes: “At the Cabinet-meeting Chase manifested a little disturbance of mind at my letter respecting the Ann Hamilton and the Princeton, sent in reply to his somewhat arrogant letter to me. Seward asked him if he had any gold to sell. He said no, if S. wanted to make money he had better get a permit from General Butler to carry in military supplies, and then persuade me to let the vessel pass the blockade. He then made a wholly perverted statement; confounded the two cases; said he never looked behind the military permit, which was sufficient for the Treasury. “But,” said I, “General Butler explicitly states that this trading permit to a Baltimorean to trade in North Carolina was based on your 52, 53, and 55 trade regulations, and I should like to know if they will bear that construction.” “Ah,” said he, “the permit was before the regulations were promulgated.” “No,” I replied, “they were distinctly and particularly cited as his authority.”

Chase did not pursue the subject, but tried to pass it off as a joke. His jokes are always clumsy; he is destitute of wit. It was obvious that he was nettled and felt himself in the wrong.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes: “My support of Mr. L.[incoln] is not grounded upon an affirmative approval of all that is done in his name.  There are many things done, especially under the Departments of Treasury and war, which I do not approve   In fact, I often remonstrate against them.  But he is immeasurably preferable to his opponents – Our only chance of a return to law and order – our only means to keep down the reckless, revolutionary spirit of the Radicals.”  He added: “I hold terms with the extreme Radicals, but denounce them openly – and in that we are even.”

I know very little of what is going on in politics and electioneering.  As I am not identified with any extreme party, nobody approaches me, to make interest, nor thinks it worth while (or perhaps safe) to tell me what he is aiming at.

I take no part in schemes of electioneering.  But in my own quiet way by letters to friends, and by the inculcation of principles, in my opinion and other public documents – I give Mr. Lincoln the best support I can; and I believe that, in some quarters, it is not without effect.

Historian Brooks D. Simpson wrote in Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865:“The Grants returned to Washington on the evening of March 22 after Julia had spent a day shopping in Philadelphia – she wanted to make sure that she wore clothes suitable for the wife of the lieutenant general.  In some respects she had a better idea than did her husband of what awaited them….. Grant’s stay in Washington was brief.  After directing Halleck to provide for the transfer east of Philip H. Sheridan to head the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry, the commanding general headed back to Culpeper, Virginia, where he had established headquarters.”

At night, the Lincolns host a well-attended reception at the White House.  Benjamin Brown French, federal commissioner of buildings, writes in his diary: “I went to the President’s in the toughest snowstorm of the winter.  Snow when I started, about 4 inches deep, and it was falling fast.  Had to walk through the Capitol & to the west gate, & my feet were perfectly wet when I got into the car, and most frozen when I got to the President’s.  Fortunately I had a pair of dress boots there, so I borrowed a pair of stockings of Mr. Nicolay, and got through the evening very nicely.  The reception was very handsome, though not large, Mrs. Lincoln was as amiable as possible, and Abraham as full of fun and story as ever I saw him.  The evening really passed off most pleasantly…”

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

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