Washington Life Returns to Normal

July 14, 1864

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “The raiders have retired across the Potomac with all their booty safe! Nobody seems disposed to hinder them.” Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: “Nothing of importance yet. This evening a the President started to the Soldiers’ Home I asked him “what news? & he said, “Wright telegraphs that he thinks the enemy are all across the Potomac but that he has halted & sent out an infantry reconnaissance, for fear he might come across the rebels & catch some of them.” The Chief is evidently disgusted.”

Hay is sent north to meet New York Tribune Editor Horace Greeley. He writes to White House aide Edward D. Neill: “I am going to New York on business. Will be gone only a very few days.”

I leave matters in your hands till my return. There will probably be little to do. Refer as little to the President as possible. Keep visitors out of the house when you can. Inhospitable, but prudent.

President Lincoln writes Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “Your note of to-day, inclosing Gen. Halleck’s letter of yesterday, relative to offensive remarks supposed to have been made by the Post-Master-General concerning the Military officers on duty about Washington, is received. The General’s letter, in substance demands of me that if I approve the remarks, I shall strike the names of those officers from the rolls; and that if I do not approve them, the Post-Master-General shall be dismissed from the Cabinet. Whether the remarks were really made I do not known; nor do I suppose such knowledge is necessary to a correct response. If they were made I do not approve them; and yet, under the circumstances, I would not dismiss a member of the Cabinet therefor. I do not consider what may have been hastily said in a moment of vexation at so severe a loss is sufficient ground for so grave a step. Besides this, truth is generally the best vindication against slander. I propose continuing to be myself the judge as to when a member of the Cabinet shall be dismissed.” Halleck had written: “As there have been for the last few days a large number of officers on duty in and about Washington who have devoted their time and energies night and day, and have periled their lives, in the support of the Government, it is due to them as well as to the War Department that it should be known whether such wholesale denouncement & accusation by a member of the cabinet receives the sanction and approbation of the President…If so the names of the officers accused should be stricken from the rolls of the Army; if not, it is due to the honor of the accused that the slanderer should be dismissed from the cabinet…”

About this time, Lincoln composes a memo to his cabinet: “I must myself be the judge, how long to retain in, and when to remove any of you from, his position. It would greatly pain me to discover any of you endeavoring to procure anothers removal, or, in any way to prejudice him before the public. Such endeavor would be a wrong to me; and much worse, a wrong to the country. My wish is that on this subject, no remark be made, nor question asked, by any of you, here or elsewhere, now or hereafter.

Published in: on July 14, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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