Cabinet Discusses Recruitment of Seamen for Navy

March 25, 1864

On a rainy, windy day in Washington, the Cabinet meets at the White House.  Secretary of War Gideon Welles writes: “At Cabinet to-day, I brought up the subject of a scarcity of seamen. The President seemed concerned, and I have no doubt was. Stanton was more unconcerned than I wished, but did not object to my suggestions. I had commenced, but not completed, a letter to the President urging the importance and necessity of an immediate transfer of 12,000 men to the Navy. The army has by bounties got thousands of sailors and seamen who are experts. This letter I finished and had copied after my return. On reading it to Fox it stirred him up, and the prospect is certainly most unpromising.

Chase, who sat beside me when I first made mention of the difficulty we were experiencing from the effects of the enrollment act and the policy pursued by the War Department, remarked that nothing could be expected where there were no Cabinet consultations and no concerted action. Stanton and the President were in private consultation at the time in a corner of the room. This is no unfrequent occurrence between the two at our meetings, and is certainly inconsiderate and in exceeding bad taste. Chase was, I saw, annoyed and irritated.

Mr. Bates and others soon left. Usher sat quietly and intent, not listening perhaps to catch a word, but U. has great curiosity.

President Lincoln writes Commissioner of Buildings Benjamin B. French: “I understand a Bill is before Congress, by your instigation, for taking your office from the control of the Department of the Interior, and considerably enlarging the powers and patronage of your office.  The proposed change may be right for aught I know; and it certainly is right for aught I know; and it certainly is right for Congress to do as it thinks proper in the case.  What I wish to say is that if the change is made, I do not think I can allow you to retain the office; because that would be encouraging officers to be consistently intriguing, to the detriment of the public interest, in order to profit themselves.”

President Lincoln writes New York State Republican boss Thurlow Weed and sends it via aide John G. Nicolay to deliver personally: “I have been both pained and surprised recently at learning that you are wounded because a suggestion of yours as to the mode of conducting our national difficulty, has not been followed – pained, because I very much wish you to have no unpleasant feeling proceeding from me, and surprised, because my impression is that I have seen you, since the last Message issued, apparantly feeling very cheerful and happy.”

At night, Illinois Republican Congressman Owen Lovejoy dies in Brooklyn after a year-long bout with cancer.  “Lincoln grieved quietly at yet another ruinous loss.  Lovejoy had been a radical he could always count on in the crunch, and he was gone,” wrote Lincoln chronicler John Waugh.  “The president was to say of his longtime friend that ‘throughout my heavy and perplexing responsibilities here, to the day of his death, it would scarcely wrong any other to say he was my most generous friend.’”

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

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