Supporter Push Salmon P. Chase for Chief Justice

October 24, 1864

Speculation about a replacement for Chief Justice B. Taney continues. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner writes to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: “You ought to be C.J., & I do not doubt that you will be; for I cannot believe that the Presdt. will allow himself to be pushed from his original conclusion.

It has been said that Judge [Ira] Harris wished to be an Associate, &, to carry out this idea Judge Swayne was to be made C.J. I do not think this possible. It so happened that the Presdt. last spring mentioned Judge Swayne to me as the ablest of the new judges & a candidate for C.J. I spoke very frankly of the effect of such an appointment, & insisted that he had not the elements required for the head of the bench now. It was after this conversation that he said that he would tender the place to you, & I understand he has repeated this determination since, especially to the Senate Comttee. when it visited him to know the occasion of yr resignation. He then confessed that you & he could not get along together in the cabinet, but that he should be glad to make you C.J. John Sherman knows about this conversation.

I have written again to the Presdt. renewing my recommendation & insisting that the sooner it was done the better.”

Sumner writes President Lincoln: “It seems to me that there is a feverishness in the public mind with regard to the Chief Justiceship. Anti-Slavery men are all trembling, lest the opportunity should be lost of appointing a Chief Justice, who, in his interpretation of the Constitution & of the War Powers, would deal a death-blow to Slavery. They do not think that any old-fashioned lawyer, who has accepted for years pro-slavery glosses can do this. Our new Chief Justice must believe in Liberty & be inspired by it.

I think the nomination of Mr Chase would cause a glow of delight throughout the country among all the best supporters of the Administration, & according to my judgment, the sooner it is made the better.

You will pardon my earnestness; but I long to secure a just interpretation of the Constitution. NO personal friendship could induce me to intrude upon you, if I did not feel that I was consulting the best interests of my country.

Sumner added a postscript in which he : “I have to-day recd. a letter from Mr. Chase which contains a passage that venture to transcribe:

“It is perhaps not exactly en regle to say what one will do in regard to an appointment not tendered to him; but it is certainly not wrong to say to you that I should accept. If feel that I can do more for our cause & our country & for the success of the next Administration in that place than in any other. Happily it is now certain that the next Administration will be in the hands of Mr Lincoln from whom the world will expect great things. God grant that his name may go down to posterity with the two noblest additions historian ever record — Restorer & Liberator.

From New York, Thurlow Weed waxes pessimistic: “You kindly permitted me to visit you Sunday morning before last, but your cares and responsibilities are so great that I spared you, tho’ I did want to say things that seemed important. The Day before yesterday you went to a Review and I left before you returned.

I have done all that our Maryland Friends required, and have done something for our Friend Sweat.

Now I am in for a New-York Canvass. Nothing would so much here as a Victory, which it will not be your fault if we do not get.

Our State is in danger. There is a re-action in the public mind against us.

President Lincoln tells the 189th New York Regiment: “I am exceedingly obliged to you for this mark of respect. It is said that we have the best Government the world ever knew, and I am glad to meet you, the supporters of that Government. To you who render the hardest work in its support should be given the greatest credit. Others who are connected with it, and who occupy higher positions, their duties can be dispensed with, but we cannot get along without your aid. While others differ with the Administration, and perhaps, honestly, the soldiers generally have sustained it; they have not only fought right, but, so far as could be judged from their actions, they have voted right, and I for one thank you for it. I know you are en route for the front, and therefore do not expect me to detain you long, and will therefore bid you good morning.”

Speculation also continues about whether New York Democrats are splitting. Attorney General Edward Bates write: “I see, in the Chronicle, an account of a new movement in Politics, to weaken the Democratic nomination. It is headed by many of the most prominent democrats in the city and State of New York – such as F. B. Corning, Moses Taylor, Edwards Pierrepont, John A Dix, and the like.”

Published in: on October 24, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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