White House Calm After the Political Storm

August 26, 1864

At the Cabinet meeting at the White House, attendance is sparse with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair and Attorney General Edward Bates absent. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles notes that “Judge Johnson of Ohio informs me that [Ohio Senator Benjamin F.] Wade is universally denounced for uniting with Winter Davis in his protest, and that he has been stricken from the list of speakers in the present political campaign in that State.”

Another Ohio ally of President Lincoln, Cincinnati attorney Richard Corwine, writes two letters to report continuation agitation to replace Lincoln as the Union-Republican presidential nomination. In first letter, Corwin writes: :I had a call from one of Gen [General Benjamin F.] Butler’s aids, who was just from New York. His business is to organize a party in favor of his chief’s nomination for the Presidency in room of Mr. Lincoln. He disclosed much of their plan with the view of intrusting me in the movement. He premised by saying that Weed & Raymond would urge Lincoln to withdraw and that they had assurances of success because Seward had said, and Lincoln had concurred in it, that the latter had no prospect of being elected. Dudley Field, Winter Davis &c are interested in the movement and he said that Gov Andrew & all New England were united in the effort to nominate Butler & compell the President to withdraw It is proposed to issue a circular calling a Convention to assemble in this City the last of September, the call to issue immediately after the Chicago Convention. This aid wants to get the names of some influential Republicans to that paper. He is the same gentleman who came here last fall to effectuate the same thing, viz. the nomination of Butler. I frankly told him that I should regard any change of nominee now as being attended with the greatest possible danger to our ticket success, even if there seemed to be any necessity for a change, which I could not see. That I regarded the grumbling among the people in this, and a few other localities, as the result of the same bad influences that were at work to defeat the President’s nomination, and that they would be as short-lived now as they were then. That the nominations at Chicago would dissipate all such opposition or dissatisfaction with the same celerity and unanimity that did the firing upon Fort Sumpter silence the loud spoken sympathisers with the rebbles of the South at that time. That this opposition to the President sprang from the same source, deluding many good men, who will not fail to see and understand the movement soon enough. The disappointed politicians, who are at the head of the movement, will turn to the support of the President in due time because they will stare into their own political graves, which will be gaping to receive them, if they fail to come to his support.”

But I write you, for your own & the President’s information, of this movement. I was placed under no terms of confidence by this military gentlemen. Hence the freedom with which I communicate this conversation for your guidance in counteracting the movement. Let me have your views and all movements with the same freedom.

In the second letter, Corwine writes: “I had another visit from [General Benjamin F.] Butler’s Captain this morning. He is persistant in his efforts to have some influential men meet here to agree upon signers to the Call referred to in the enclosed letter. I assured him I could not help him. He said Lew Campbell was here and would meet any parties who would cooperate in the movement. I hardly suppose he will find any man of character to assist him. The dissatisfaction with Mr Lincoln’s nomination will not carried these men so far as to sign this call. This Captain said that Gen Hamilton of Texas and Forney sympathised with the movement. Of course, I knew how to receive this statement as, indeed, I did all he said. It is a desperate move of Mister David Dudley Field, &c to wreak their vengeance on Mr Lincoln for not allowing them to dictate the measures of the Government. The real men, at the bottom of this revolutionary measure, should be dragged to the light and exposed.”

I hope to be able shortly to make a speech to our people, when I intend to attack those sorehead politicians and expose their motives. The people must be speedily educated on this point to [the one?] that they may know why Mr Lincoln is abused.

Presdential aide John Hay, doing family business in Illinois, is concerned about a replacement for William O. Stoddard, who has been appointed U.S. marshal in Arkansas. Hay writes John G. Nicolay: “Has the appointment of Land Patent Secretary yet been made? Charlie Philbrick is perfectly steady now I am told. I saw him when last in Springfield & he was straight as a string. If you make it proper at yr. End of the line I am very sure you could not get a man more thoroughly discreet & competent. He made a most favorable impression on me when I saw – all of one evening…Stod[ard] has been extensively advertising himself in the Western Press. His asinity which is kept a little dark under your shadow at Washington blooms & burgeons in the free air of the West.”

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Published in: on August 26, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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