Treasury Problems Erupting; President Watches Rockets

June 25, 1864

Conflict between President Lincoln and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase is coming to a head. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “I am daily more dissatisfied with the Treasury management. Everything is growing worse. Chase, though a man of mark, has not the sagacity, knowledge, taste, or ability of a financier. Has expedients, and will break down the government. There is no one to check him. The President has surrendered the finances to his management entirely. Other members of the Cabinet are not consulted. Any dissent from, or doubts even, of his measures is considered as a declaration of hostility and an embarrassment of his administration. I believe I am the only one who has expressed opinions that questioned his policy, and that expression was mild and kindly uttered. Blair said about as much and both [he and I] were lectured by Chase. But he knew not then, nor does he know now, the elementary principles of finance and currency. Congress surrenders to his capricious and superficial qualities as pliantly as the President and the Cabinet. If they do not legalize his projects, the Treasury is to be closed, and under a threat, or something approaching a threat, his schemes are sanctioned, and laws are made to carry them into effect; but woe awaits the country in consequence.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary:“In conversation with the Prest., I told him that I had not yet learned that the Secy. Of War had issued the promised order, revoking Genl. [Lew] Wallace’s confiscation orders, at Baltimore — I only knew that no public steps were taken to enforce them. He said yes, it had been issued — Stanton read him the letter to Wallace, and he (the P[resident] approved it; and he saw Gen. W[allace’]s telegram, acknowled[d]ging the rec[e]ipt of it[.]

“And so, it seems, that genl. W.[allace] ostentatiously publishes his orders, assuming very broad jurisdiction, and now, silently abstains from executing them — saying nothing about the revoking order! And thus the Government lies under the odium of assuming the power, without the spirit to enforce it.”

President Lincoln visits the Washington Navy Yard. Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary: “At night went with the President and assistant Secy Fox to the Navy Yard to witness the throwing of Rockets and signals from 6 & 12 pound guns – Went in Presidents carriage and returned at 10 O’clock at night.”

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

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