Peace and Politics are Mixed by Illinois Politicians

October 14, 1864

Judge Ebenezer Peck writes James W. Singleton, a strong peace Democrat who appears to want to undermine the Democratic presidential campaign of : “I received yours yesterday and this morning I had an interview with the President in relation to its contents; with every desire on his part to comply with your request in the premises; he does not deem it compatible to do so. The favorable results of the recent elections, might subject him to the imputation of being willing now, to disregard the desires of the radical men, who have so reluctantly come in to his support, and thus subject him to the imputation of catering to new element in disregard of their opinion.”

He stated during the conversation, that a rominent and sensible radical, had stated to him in a conversation upon this subject; and had while he (the radical) might afford to make the hazard of such a declaration as you desire, that the President could not.

Mr. L. spoke very kindly of you expressing his full confidence in your integrity of purpose, and intentions — he could not under advice, in the present juncture of affairs, do what you, and I might add, he desired.

I asked him if he could say that if any state in rebellion, Georgia for instance would cease hostilities, elect her senators and representatives, and then ask to be recognized as a state of the Union; to enjoy her full rights and immunities as such (now obstante slavery) in all respects, as before the rebellion, he would be for recognizing such state, and restore the people thereof, as if no difficulties had intervened; he said, although there would be no hesitation on his part so to say and act, if the fact should so be, and the event should occur, yet he did not feel justified so to avow in advance especially where so many imputations would rest upon a declaration, having the appearance of propitiating votes, from men who are not cordial, in support of his general administration.

I might add much more of expressions [of] Mr. L only of kindness to yourself and your motives; but in favor of a policy which I suppose you to have, and I know I have thoroughly at heart; an honest continued and beneficient peace, one which will bring to the country prosperity, permanency, unity and of consequence a happiness now apparently departed.

Discussion of the replacement for deceased Chief Justice Roger B. Taney continues. Presidential aide John Hay writes: “Judge [Joseph] Lewis talked to me this morning earnestly against [former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P.] Chase for that place. He says he is not a man of enlarged legal or financial knowledge that his supreme selfishness has gradually narrowed and concentrated his views of things in General; that his ignorance of men, & many other things that I knew before &c &c.

He says he thinks Chase really desired, toward the end of his continuance in office to injure and as far as possible destroy the influence and popularity of the Administration. By his constant denunciation of the extravagance of expenditure, his clamour against the inefficiency of other departments, his personal tone of slighting comment upon every act of the President, and more than all by his steady & persistent attempts to make the taxes more & more burdensome upon the people, (having increased his demands from $150,000,000 to $300,000,000 in the face of Lewis’ and Morrills representations) he clearly indicated his desire to excite popular discontents and grumblings against the Government.

His selfishness, continued the Judge, blinded him utterly to the character of the flatterers who surrounded. (I gave him some instances of this.) Lewis says that Field, for whom he gave up his place expressed himself as relieved by his absence.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “Seward was quite exultant over the elections; feels strong and self-gratified. Says this Administration is wise, energetic, faithful, and able beyond any of its predecessors; that it has gone through trials which none of them has ever known, and carried on, under extraordinary circumstances and against combinations such as the world has never known, a war unparalleled in the annals of the world. The death of Judge Taney was alluded to. His funeral takes place to-morrow. The body will pass from his residence at 7 A.m. to the depot; and be carried to Frederick, Maryland. Seward thought it his duty to attend the funeral in this city but not farther, and advised that the President should also. The AttorneyGeneral deemed if his duty and a proper courtesy to go 1864 with the remains to F. The President inquired my views. I thought the suggestions in regard to himself and Messrs. Seward and Bates very well, and it would be best not to take official action but to let each member of the Cabinet act his pleasure. For my own part, I felt little inclined to participate. I have never called upon him living, and while his position and office were to be respected, I had no honors for the deceased beyond those that were public. That he had many good qualities and possessed ability, I do not doubt; that he rendered service in Jackson’s administration is true, and during most of his judicial life he was upright and just. But the course pursued in the Dred Scott case and all the attending circumstances forfeited respect for him as a man or a judge.”

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

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