September 26, 1864
Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: Former Postmaster General Montgomery “Blair has gone into Maryland stumping. He was very much surprised when he got the President’s note. He had thought the opposition to him was dying out. He behaves very handsomely and is doing his utmost. He speaks in New York Tuesday night.
“Blair in spite of some temporary indiscretions is a good and true man and a most valuable public officer. He stood with the President against the whole Cabinet in favor of reinforcing Fort Sumter. He stood by Fremont in his emancipation decree, though yielding when the President revoked it. He approved the Proclamation of January, 1863, and the Amnesty Proclamation, & has stood like a brother beside the President always. What have injured him are his violent personal antagonisms and indiscretions. He made a bitter and vindictive fight on the Radicals of Missouri, though ceasing at the request of the Prest. He talked with indecorous severity of Mr. Chase, and with unbecoming harshness of Stanton, saying on street-corners, “this man is a liar, that man is a thief.” He made needlessly enemies among public men who have pursued him fiercely in turn. Whitelaw Reid said today that Hoffman was going to placard all over Maryland this fall ‘Your time has come.’ I said ‘He wont do anything of the kind & moreover Montgomery Blair will do more to carry Emancipation in Maryland than anyone of those who abuse him.”
Hay added: “Nicolay got home this morning looking rather ill. I wish he would start off & get hearty again, coming back in time to let me off to Wilmington. He says Weed said he was on track of the letter & hoped to get it…Nicolay thinks we will carry New York. The New Jersey men promise their state & the Kentuckians pluckily swear they will be on hand with theirs.”
House Speaker Schuyler Colfax writes President Lincoln from Indiana: “I have just telegraphed you about the effect of Gen [James B.] Fry’s decision that Union men who don’t run away & are in the hundred per cent extra draft are to be compelled to make up the desertions of skedaddlers who draft & yet that the Government claims the right to arrest these skedaddlers afterwards as deserters besides. It is our death-blow if you don’t revoke it. I have not time to argue the alienations it causes, for I am speaking every day & at home but a few hours this morning to answer letters accumulated.
I have been speaking every day & twice a day for six weeks — vice & strength almost exhausted — but still at it. Before the draft the District was safe. How it is now I cannot tell; for no one can calculate its effect till ballot boxes are opened.
Another letter about Indiana politics come from former Senator Joseph Wright, a War Democrat: “I have been over a large portion of the two southern districts, Cravens & Laws, (the two worst in the state) Our friends are sanguine, I do not think we will succeed in either. But if we are not greatly deceived, we shall reduce their majorities by thousands. We claim Warrick, Spencer, Pike, Posey, and Vanderburgh Floyd Scott, and our friends show the count by giving the vote of these counties by townships. We are gaining daily. All the doubtful men are with the (so called) democrats, We have none on the Union side. At some few points, half the audience are democrats, though they keep all away they can from our meetings.
All is safe in Indiana, unless there is some masked battery we cannot see. The democrats are not doing openly one half the work the Union men are. I have sometimes feared there is truth in the rumor that a large sum of money has been raised by Belmont & Co of New York — to wit, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars to be expended in importing votes from Illinois and other states through their secret societies, to operate in our election. This may be the “Masked Battery” and may account for their stillness and seeming quiet. I do not fear any violent opposition to the Draft, nor will it injure us; on the contrary I think good will grow out of it, as I am sure many democrats are runing out of the state to avoid it, but not a union man leaving the ground.
I speak tomorrow in Colfax district
From New Orleans General Stephen Hurlbut writes President Lincoln: “I have just entered upon charge of this Department under assignment from Maj Genl Canby.
Genl Banks has left for the North. Recent orders issued by Genl Canby will bring the whole force of the Cotton speculating interest to Washington with the most powerful & combined effort either to effect his removal or modification of the orders.
It is of primary consequence to our success that rigid non intercourse should be kept. I consider the Order No 513 herewith the most valuable if enforced that has been issued and earnestly entreat that no influence of any kind may be allowed to interfere with its exception.
Three months of diligent and effective blockade under this order will be more effective in Louisiana & Southern Mississippi than any other one thing.
No man can deal in purchases of cotton without violating his allegiance to the Country & of necessity holding communication with and giving aid to the public enemy
No man can carry it on without complicity by himself or his agents with the Confederate Military authorities and the enormous gains made by these adventurers are the evidence of the illegality and risk of the traffic.
As I am advised that a great effort will be made upon you personally I have thought it advisable to address you directly not exactly in an official character, but with the belief that you will give me credit for knowing whereof I affirm and for candor in my statements.