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f V. 



DIARY 

GIDEON W 

IN THREE VC 
VOLUME 






:^,'P 







DIARY OI 

GIDEON WE 

SECEETARY OF THE NAVY 
LINCOLN AND JOHNSC 

WITH AN INTEODUCTION BY JOH1 

AND 
WITH ILLUSTRATION! 

VOLUME II 

APRIL i, 1864 DECEMBE: 




t e 



COPYRIGHT, 1909, AND IQIO, BY EDGAR ' 
COPYRIGHT, igil, BY EDGAR T. WELLES AND HOUGH- 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Published October iqii 



CONTENTS 

XVIII 
APRIL, 1864 

Seward and the Case of the Sir William Peel, cap 
Waters John M. Forbes's Opinions on the Na 

The Seymours of Connecticut The Wilkes < 
journed Du Pont's Intrigues against the Dep 
of John C. Rives The Debate on the Resoluti< 
sentative Long from the House The Matter < 
bacco at Richmond Cabinet Discussion of the I 

The Gold Panic abated Chase's Financier] 
Officers sustain the Secretary's Course in Relati 
Sumner on the Currency Question An Est: 
Banks Halleck's Opinion of Banks Propos< 
up the James River The Feud between Chase 
Charges of Improprieties in the Treasury Dep? 
found Guilty 

XIX 

MAY, 1864 

Investigating the Massacre at Fort Pillow Cabine- 
Massacre Rumors of the Battle of the Wild 
Porter's Report of Banks's Mismanagement of th< 
dition The President's Disappointment in Bar 



vi CONTENTS 

Vice-President Rigorous Dealing with the ( 
advocated Gathering of Delegates for the 
tion The Abduction of Arguellis The Rej 
nominates Lincoln and Johnson The Rel 
Welles and Vice-President Hamlin Fogg rec 
Switzerland His Detailed Account of the Fo 
Cabinet John P. Hale defeated for the Sena 
Hampshire Legislature Admiral Gregory's Ui 
the Light-Draft Monitors The Smith Brothe 
with Contract Frauds The Case of Hender 
The Presidential Excursions to Army Headc 
diet of the Court Martial in Charles W. SCOL< 
Management of the Country's Finances A 
Cullen Bryant in behalf of Henderson Bryj 
the Evening Post The Resignation of Chasi 

XXI 

JULY, 1864 

Governor Tod declines the Treasury Portfolio and 
appointed The Sinking of the Alabama ( 
the Cotton Trade The Trial of General Di: 
New York Papers The Kearsarge and the A 
in the War Office as to the Confederate Inva 
The Confederates near Washington Watchi 
Fort Stevens Conversation with General 
Whiting on Halleck's Incompetency The . 
York Evening Post towards the Navy Depa 
Henderson's Removal The Mistakes in the 1 

Thomas G. Welles goes to the Front G 
ference The Unofficial Peace Movements ] 

Talk with Solicitor Whiting on Recons 



CONTENTS 

ful Peace Proposals at Richmond - The PJ 
Greeley How Farragut was discovered 
The Character of Chase Politics in the Br 
Pressure from Massachusetts in behalf of th 
Proposed Movement against Wilmington, N 
Navy benefited by the Army Draft McC 
President by the Democratic Convention . 

XXIII 
SEPTEMBER, 1864 

Farragut and Du Pont contrasted New Yoi 
Clellan Political Pressure on the Brooklyi 
New York Collectorship The Question c 
South Effect of the Success of Sherman at A 
tion to Lincoln Embarrassment caused by 
in Payment of Navy Requisitions Talk \ 
Chairman Raymond of the Republican Nation 
from a Committee in reference to the Brookly 
ragut asks for Rest and Shore Exercise I 
Command of North Atlantic Squadron Spei 
on the Subject of Abandoned Plantations 3 
federate Refugees on Lake Erie Reception 
dan's Victory at Winchester by the Opponen 
tion Robert C. Winthrop's Unfortunate PC 
the Cabinet Cotton-Trading in Texas r . 
in reference to Acting Admiral Lee's Detaclu 
Atlantic Squadron The Court Martial in tin 
Downes Seward and the Presidential Proc 
Admission as a State 

XXIV 



viii CONTENTS 

Labor of preparing an Annual Report Pro] 
Department take a Ship building in the Unite< 

XXV 
DECEMBER, 1864 

The President reads his Message in Cabinet 
Japanese Vessel The President appoints 
Justiceship Usher's Anxiety as to Ms E-ea; 
Political Plans Sumner on Chase's Ap] 
praises Welles' s Report Conversation with ] 
ard's and Chase's Views on States' Rights T. 

Hood's Army defeated by Thomas The 
towards the Old Party Hacks The Office 
ated McClellan accused of Treachery in 1 
paign Death of William L. Dayton, Minis 
closure in the Newspapers of Plans for the W 

An Arrest in the Case urged The Presic 
mitigate Punishment and grant Favors An 
ness The Capture of Savannah The J; 
The Question of the Right of Congress or t 
Executive Documents Failure of Butler in 
pedition 

XXVI 

JANUARY, 1865 

The Peace Mission of the Blairs Sherman's Ca] 
Wilmington Expedition Discussion of wha 
groes General Butler's Dismissal from Con 
the James An Estimate of his Character 



CONTENTS 

gan his Possible Successor General Sherman's 
gan declines the Treasury Portfolio News of the 
Anderson The Brightest Day in Four Years I 
mentioned for the Treasury Seward on Chased 
Cabinet Blair on Seward's Intrigues with Sect 
Beginning of the War 

XXVIII 

MARCH, 1865 

Secretary Welles assured of Reappointment Attiti 
Blaine towards the Navy Department Lincoln's 
ration The New Vice-President's Rambling Spee 
appointed Secretary of the Treasury John P. Hal 
to Spain Admiral Porter on Buchanan's Secessic 
A Committee from Maine Bennett of the A 
talked of as Minister to France The Combinati 
Papers against the Navy Department The Presi< 
the Verdict against F. W. Smith Mr. J. M. Forl 
Case Paymasters' Accounts and the Appropria 
and the Smith Case Comptroller Taylor's Acti 
Navy Requisitions Seward asks for a Man-of-W 
P. Hale to Spain An Interesting Statement by G 

XXIX 

APRIL, 1865 

Greeley's "bleeding, bankrupt, ruined country" leti 
England Greeley's Morbid Appetite for Notorie 
over the Fall of Richmond Stanton's Account of 
cussion in Buchanan's Cabinet Seward injurec 
Accident Mutual Misconceptions of the Nort! 
corrected bv the War News of Lee's Surrender 



x CONTENTS 

Question of Negro Suffrage The Trial of th< 

The Cabinet calls on Secretary Seward 
Davis Great Review of the Union Armies in 
to Charleston, Savannah, and Wilmington 
in favor of the Republic in Mexico The ( 
Appointees in the South France and Eng 
gerent Rights from the Confederates Death 

Du Font's Differences with the Secretary 
and his Relations with Lincoln Preston Ki 
President The President overrun with Vis 
Aspect of the Negro Suffrage Question S 
Usurpation of Power by the Executive . . 

XXXI 

JULY, 1865 

McCulloch alarmed for the Treasury Lack of 
Department Sumner's Work in behalf of I 
Closing of Ford's Theatre Alexander 'H. 
Book Generals Grant and Sherman hostile 
in Mexico Cabinet Discussion of the Subjec 
against President Lincoln sent to the Tortugas 
Trial of Jefferson Davis discussed in Cabinet 
the Iron Ram Dunderberg Ex-Vice-Presi< 
Navy Agency in Washington 

XXXII 
AUGUST, 1865 

The Military annuls the Municipal Election in ] 
federates organizing to regain Political Asce: 



CONTENTS 

XXXIII 

SEPTEMBER DECEMBER, 1865 

3STegro Suffrage Question in Connecticut Circular again 
Laical Assessments in the Navy Yards Conversation with ] 
On, Stanton, and Harlan in regard to such Assessments 
ominated for Congress Opinion of General Thomas W 
*idllips's Uselessness Seward's Speech at Auburn, N. Y. 
Compliments for the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary 
T"a,vy Suicide of Preston King His Character and Cai 
Conversation with the President on the Subject of the Congress 
'ducus in regard to the Admission of Representatives fro 
o-uthern States Fogg recalled from Switzerland His Im 
knowledge of the Construction of the Lincoln Cabinet H 
ie Story in Detail The President's Message Conver 
i"tli Sumner on the President's Reconstruction Policy ] 
Lent for the Impeachment of the President Grant's Rep 
-s Southern Journey Another Talk with Sumner The C 
B,QCO, Master Plumber at the Philadelphia Navy Yard I 
Stanton's Proposed Resignation Arrest of Captain Se 
"dered Senator Morgan on Sumner and the President's '. 
- Seward's Projected Cruise Conversation with Senator 

XXXIV 
JANUARY, 1866 

President's New Year Reception Death of Henry "\ 
Efvis Seward off to the West Indies General Webb and 
a,;poleon The Charges against Semmes The Shena 
ts<3 Congress seems disposed to open War on the Presid 
i Animated Conversation with Sumner Assistant Sec: 



CONTENTS 

ie President's View of the Revolutionary Intentions of the Ri 
Js The Republican Convention in Connecticut Cabi] 
.scussion of the President's Veto of the Freedmen's Bureau Bill 
ie Senate sustains the Veto Thaddeus Stevens and the Tenc 
3 Delegation Memorial Meeting in Honor of Henry Win 
ivis The President's Speech on the Veto A Design to atten 
ipeachment of the President . . . . 

XXXVI 

MARCH, 1866 

as's Influence in his Reconstruction Committee Conversat 
th Baldwin of the Committee The Committee reports a Re 
}ion for admitting Representatives from Tennessee The Tre 
y Department embarrassed by the Test Oath in procuring Offici 
the South A Call from Governor Dennison in reference t 
sstoration of Harmony in the Republican Party A Talk w 
:nator Grimes Attitude of Grimes and Fessenden towards 
resident Cabinet Discussion of the Fenian Situation 1 
snnecticut Gubernatorial Candidates General Hawley calls 
jcretary Welles and on the President Sumner on Louis I 
>leon's Action in regard to the Presidency of the World's Congi 
Savants The President vetoes the Civil Rights Bill Cabi 
iscussion of the Bill Seward and the Proposed Purchase of 
anish West Indies The Semmes Case The Outlook in C 
icticut Banks and the Use of Naval Vessels for the French ! 
>sition Butler and the Grey Jacket 

XXXVII 

APT?TT. IQAft 



CONTENTS 

to United States Minister Motley in Austria in re 
ican Situation Conversation with Senator Trui 
dition of the Country General Butler's Intrig 
Jacket Case The Programme of the Reconstruc 

XXXVIII 
MAY, 1866 

Cabinet Discussion of the Reconstruction Programir 
Stanton's Position Publication of the Discussi 
mentioned for Senator from Connecticut Colo: 
the Union The Objections to her Admission 
sending a Naval Vessel to attend the Laying of tl 

Captain S. P. Lee objects to his Appointment 
of the Mare Island Navy Yard, and Mr. Blair as 
tion for his Son-in-Law The Senatorial Situatic 

Assistant Secretary Fox's Proposed Europea 
from Captain Lee Cordial Farewells from Fox 
and his Cabinet serenaded Speeches of the Ci 
Captain Lee's Orders to the Mare Island Navy 
His Intrigues Death of General Scott His 
President at the Beginning of the War and hi 
Seward A Constitutional Amendment reported 

XXXIX 
JUNE, 1866 

The Fenian Situation on the Great Lakes What to 

'-*. tured Fenians Seward's Position as a Supporte 

tration The President issues a Proclamation 

Fenians Attorney-General Speed's Preliminary 

in the Cabinet considered Call for a Nation; 



xiv CONTENTS 

Idea of the Radical Programme The Radi 
son's Resignation Attorney-General Spee< 
sident vetoes the New Freedmen's Bureau Bill 
it over the Veto General Thomas requested 
Local Politics in Tennessee Montgomery Bl 
War The President's Position weakened I 
ing Influence Tennessee ratifies the Fourt 
Henry Stanbery nominated as Attorney-Gene 
ual Reticence The Senate passes the Resc 
Tennessee Delegation to Congress The Joy i 
Promotions Attorney-General Stanbery t 
Japanese Government asks for a Delay in I 
due Great Britain, France, and the United S 
Japan The Army and Navy Promotions - 
dall of Wisconsin appointed Postmaster-Gene: 
sends in his Resignation The President sig 
Senator Daniel Clark of New Hampshire apj 
for New Hampshire General Dix appointee 

XLI 

AUGUST, 1866 

Riot in New Orleans Conversation with Govei 
The Situation in that State Further Intr 
Suspected Participation of the Radicals in the 
ances Rumor of a Captured Slaver She] 
Stanton declares himself against the Philac 
Estimate of Secretary McCulloch Dennisc 
tions Reception to Queen Emma of the Ha 
Philadelphia Convention Full and Harmonic 
Government in Texas established Seward s 
a Peace Proclamation in Consequence The 



CONTENTS 

ington The Democrats failing to take Advantage 

Ante-Election Pressure for Removals Sewa 
No Disunionist to be employed in the Navy Yards 
with Senator Fogg of New Hampshire on the Subj 
sion of States Judge Holt, charged with Miscon 
of Lincoln's Assassins, asks for a Court of Inquiry 
appointed Minister to France and also Naval Office 
Samuel J. Tilden Naval Constructor Webb and 

The Aged Widow of Commodore Barney pleads 

XLIII 

OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER, 

Letter from General Sherman indorsing the President' 
mate of General Dix The Case of Jefferson Da^s 
the Cabinet The Suppression of the Constitutic 
Issue in the Philadelphia Convention Thurlow \ 
parted The Results of Political Inaction on the 
ministration The Removal of J. G. Bolies frc 
Colleetorship Texas desires Protection from Indi 

The Jefferson Davis Case Election Returns f r< 

The Elections go against the Administration - 
in Consultation with Chief Justice Chase Distu; 
land feared General Sherman to accompany M 
to Mexico Louis Napoleon and the Mexican Sitt 
of War with France Thaddeus Stevens as a Lei 
look for Congressional Action The President's 3V 

XLIV 

DECEMBER, 1866 
A Call from Charles Sumner San Domingo prop 



xvi CONTENTS 

sident's Speechmaking Speechmaking on th 
and Cabinet Ministers a Mistake Seward's 
a Bungling Piece of Business Radical Meml 
the South The Question of Naval Courtes: 
Tucker of the Peruvian Navy Senator Dix< 
Sad Death of Robert G. Welles . . . 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN Phot 

From a photograph taken in 1864 (copyright, 1891, b; 



SALMON P. CHASE .... 
DAVID GLASGOW FARRAGUT 
MONTGOMERY BLAIR . . . 

EDWARD BATES 

GUSTAVUS V. Fox .... 
HUGH McCuLLOCH .... 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN , 



From a portrait by Matthew Wilson, painted for S 
and said to be the last portrait of Lincoln. Now re] 
first time by permission of Mr. Edgar T. Welles. 



SAMUEL F. Du PONT 
PERCIVAL DRAYTON 
PRESTON KING . . 



DIARY OF GIDEON WELL 

VOLUME II 
APRIL 1, 1864 DECEMBER 31, If 



DIARY OF GIDEON 

APRIL 1, 1864 DECEMBE 

XVIII 

Seward and the Case of the Sir William Peel, captun 
John M. Forbes's Opinions on the National ( 
mours of Connecticut The Wilkes Court 3V 
Font's Intrigues against the Department De* 
The Debate on the Resolution to expel Repres 
House The Matter of the French Tobacco a 
Discussion of the Financial Situation The 
Chase's Financiering Able Naval Officers i 
Course in Relation to Du Pont Sumner on tt 
An Estimate of General Banks Halleck's 0{ 
posed Demonstration up the James River TJ 
and the Blairs Charges of Improprieties in 
ment Wilkes found Guilty. 

April 1, 1864, Friday, The Chronicl 
contains my letter, with some errors, t< 
sponse to a call relating to transfers. It 
motion among the Members of Congr* 



DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [A: 

ward spoke to me concerning the case of tl 
am Peel, captured at the mouth of the Rio Gi 
lad carried contraband ostensibly to Matamora 
.ons had gone direct to Brownsville, and cottoj 

brought direct from that place in return, 
led, however, that she was captured in M 
rs, though near the United States, and the: 
j-d says she must be given up. I asked him to \\ 
ptured in Mexican waters, no power but Mexico 
5 the claim. This he undertook to deny, provide 
rnment of Mexico was enfeebled by revolution ar 
to sustain itself. But I told him if able to asser 
.tain neutrality, then Mexico, and she alone, 
vene ; if not able to maintain her claim of neuti 
ther one could make a claim of Mexican jurisdi 
im fearful he will make a misfire on this questioi 
never looked into maritime law, and will mak 
fice of national or individual rights to keep in 
and. 

ml 2, Saturday. John M. Forbes called. After 
n one or two subjects he spoke of the National 
ion and his regret that the call was so early 
i me as one of the committee to reconsider the su 
him I would hear and consider anything from 



1864] THE SEYMOURS OF CON] 

and hence he desired delay. Forbes mea 
is right. He is shrewd and sagacious, bu 
feelings and partialities unavoidably. I 
desires to have Mr. Chase a candidate, 
of only Ben Butler, whom he dislikes. 

Cautioned Fox to beware of yielding 
and opinions of detective Olcott, unless 
facts in his possession. Mr. Wilson, 1 
advise in these matters, and nothing be 
seizure and arrest but by Mr. Wilson's c 

April 4, Monday. Heard an excellen 
day from Bishop Whipple. 

Called on Stanton, respecting the 1 
Gillmore from June 12 to July 6, 1863. 

Had a call from J. P. Hale respecti 
This man, so long a Senator, has no 
statesmanlike views. Would set aside 
and law because he thinks it operates hs 
whom he knows. 

April 5, Tuesday. The returns of the 
tion come in favorably. Buckingham 
largely increased majority, and the Ui 
thirds at least of the Legislature. This d 



6 DIARY OF GIDEON T 

returning sense among some of the cor 
he was chosen by a majority of some t! 
he is defeated, 

April 6, Wednesday. Little of impor 
ments by the army in contemplation, y 
communicated to the Navy Departm 
mation that ironclads may be wanted 
This intimation, or obscure request, cc 
General Grant; nothing from the War '. 

April 7, Thursday. Adjourned the T 
to-day until Monday, the 18th inst. r . 
in, and the case will go to judgment z 
ments are delivered. Defense wantec 
and the members of the Court desired 1 
days. Every effort has been made to ev 
case and to get up false ones. All of 1 
have been introduced, etc., etc. 

April 8, Friday. Answered a lette 
Chairman of Naval Committee, on the 
ing the Marine Corps. In answering 
Hale, it is important to so word my 
to leave the honorable gentleman son 
makes it a rule to oppose any measure 



1864] DU FONT'S INTKIGT 

But little at the Cabinet. Neither 
attended. Seward says our friends in th 
are to be defeated. Told him I regretted 
not an unmitigated evil. I had not the a 
it which he seemed to entertain. I certai 
to make concessions to retain them. 

Called this evening on Admiral Dahlj 
solable for the loss of his son. Advised 
and mingle in the world, and not yield 1 
irremediable. 

Wise, who is Chief ad interim of the ( 
is almost insane for the appointment c 
too many, supposes the way to promotio: 
those who stand in his way, or whom '. 
in his way. Mr. Everett writes to old 
Dahlgren. Admiral Stringham and Wo 
yesterday in behalf of Wise and both < 
were sent by Wise. 

April 9, Saturday. Senator Wilson to- 
yesterday called in relation to the inv 
Olcott is prosecuting in Boston. They 
to call by Smith brothers, who are beg 
easy. Their attacks on others, if not 
have provoked inquiries concerning t 



x-v-f 4-1r\ rt. rvf\-*\ 4-1 s\w\ s\v\ 



8 DIARY OF GIDEON 

intrigue, and, to his discredit, calle< 
which I had sent in with report and w 
before his resolution was offered, thoi 
presented them. Few of the Member 
work thoroughly, or give matters exa 
like Spaulding, are often victimized, 
friend Winter Davis, like all intrigi 
selves in some of their movements. F 
was the petted man of the Departm 
and had courted and brought into h 
best officers of the Navy. These alw* 
Those who were not of his circle wer 
form my opinions and conclusions f 
heard. Fox was very devoted to hin 
too much for him. To no man has 1 
partiality. As a general thing, I ha^ 
sidering his associations and preju 
service, has been fair and just tow* 
DuPont asked for nothing that Fox w* 
ent to have me grant, yet eventually 

April 11, Monday. John C. Rives, : 
terday. He was a marked charact< 
simple-hearted, and sagacious, witl 
without fear, generous and sincere, w 



1864] FRENCH TOBACCO AT RI< 

discussion has been carried on, on a resc 
by the Speaker, Colfax, to expel Long, 
from Ohio, for some discreditable partis; 
in a speech last Friday. There being ai 
I went to the Capitol for the first time tl 
Orth, Kenyon, Winter Davis, and one o: 
latter was declamatory, eloquent, but tl 
please me, nor the subject. Long I despi 
tions, but Coif ax is not judicious in his ] 
went beyond the line of his party, and Cc 
them responsible for Long's folly. 

April 12, Tuesday. To-day have a let 
Lee respecting the exportation of Fren 
Richmond. This is an arrangement o1 
which I have always objected, but to wl 
was persuaded to yield his assent some ] 
subject has lingered until now. Admi: 
French naval vessels and transports are , 
about to proceed up the James River, s 
shall keep an account of their export. 

I took the dispatch to the Cabinet-me 
from Mr. Seward what his arrangements 
not present. When the little business ( 
posed of, I introduced the subject to th 



10 DIARY OF GIDEON 1 

War and Assistant Secretary of .Stai 
me, or consulting me on the subject, 
saw, when I introduced the topic. Tt 
I well understood. He knew full well n 
whole proceeding, which I had foug] 
times, until he finally gave in to Sewar 
some of the difficulties which I had sugg 
the President preferred not to see me. 
me if this is but the beginning of the 
perience. 

At the Cabinet-meeting, Chase, a 
weekly exhibit, showing our national 
teen hundred millions, said he should 
Navy Department and also that of the 
farther calls on the Treasury for coin, 
provide for foreign bills which stood 
others, and if he had paid the Interic 
partment than the State and Navy, wh 
and possibly the War Department sore 
I thought it not right; that I had exp 
culty in making California payments, 
because I supposed all domestic bills 

Chase did not meet the point squa 
other subjects, and answered some qi 
sident's about the daily custom rece 



1864] CABINET DISCUSSION OF I 

Treasury paper instead to an unlimited 
would be no relief; that by reducing the 
and making it payable in specie on demanc 
his legal tenders and gold nearer to equal! 
ent remarked that something must be do 
ing the bank paper; said he did not fully 
financial questions in all their bearings; n 
ble inquiries of Mr. Chase concerning h 
were bought for custom-house purposes. 

Mr. Usher made some inquiries and su 
bringing down the price of gold and comp< 
others to disgorge that were worthy an ok 
years gone by. His ideas were crude, absi 
ous. He evidently has never given the sub 

Mr. Grimes and Mr. Hale had a roun 
yesterday. The former had the best of the 
did not do himself, the Department, and 
justice. 

April 13, Wednesday. Matters press 
ment. Have been very busy. Some talk ^ 
Annapolis and the Naval School, League 
navy yard. Suggested that New Englan< 
nopolize and that we should avoid even 
of sectionalism. 

f~^^m-m"[4-^A ~I\/T-w U 11 o -rvn-krM -rr/irt-f-^-w^n-v-r f*v*A 



12 DIARY OF GIDEON 

it. Du Pont and his satellites have b< 
and others take such a partisan, pers< 
tions that no honest or fair treatmer 
them in a case like this. Without e 
Greeley has always vigorously indors 
his flings at the Navy Department. 

Gold is reported at 190 to-day; th 
hundred and ninety dollars of Tre; 
standard, to buy one hundred dollars 
depreciated. 

April 15, Friday. Chase and Blair 
at the Cabinet-meeting to-day, nor \? 
takes upon himself the French to 
wishes me to procure some one to in 
on the facts of the case of the Sir Wil 
I thought Charles Eames as good t 
matters as any lawyer whom I kne 1 
me I should give the case to Eames. 

The gold panic has subsided, or rat 
in New York. It is curious to see th< 
tures and remarks on the expedients 
are resorted to. Gold is truth. Its 
fiction, sustained by public confide 
there is a belief that it will ultimately 



1864] CHASE'S FINANGIERIN 

within our lines. But for the gunboats, 
possess themselves of the defenses, yet G 
wants the magnanimity and justice to i 
even mention the service. 

There is still much excitement and uneas 
gold and currency question. Not a day 
spoken to on the subject. It is unpleasai 
views are wholly dissimilar from the policy 
Department, and Chase is sensitive and te: 
I may say if others do not agree with hii 
expedients. Mr. Chase is now in New Yc 
rected the payment of the May interest, a] 
thro wing out so much gold will affect the m* 
It will be likely to have that effect for a f ev 
cure for the evil. The volume of irredeema 
be reduced before there can be permanent i 
butes to speculators the rise in gold! As 
manufacturers with affecting the depth of ^ 
ers, because they erect dams across the fa 
one cannot reason with our great financi 
ject. He will consider it a reflection on hii) 
and claims he cannot get along successful!; 

I remarked to Senator Trumbull, whom ] 
ing my evening walk last Thursday, and \ 
that I could hardly answer or discuss his in 



14 DIARY OF GIDEON 

paper, by the contrivances he is th 
dollar, the customs certificates, the : 
ury notes, etc., etc., are all failures 
prove so. The Secretary of the Trea 
rich country filled with enthusiasm 
full of wealth, with which they res] 
their recourses and sacrifices were n 
talent on the part of the Secretary 
The Secretary is not always bold 
taxation; he is not wise beyond othi 
tained the true measure of value; h 
instead of abiding by fixed princi 
irredeemable paper and general infl 
five-per-cents may be taken, but at 
try! He is in New York and may n 
he does, it will be with the banks anc 
cent. If so, the banks will not be abl 
ors, and they, being cramped, will si 
The fancy stocks will be likely to fal 
and the surplus money may seek % 
but under the inflation how expensi 

April 18, Monday. The steamei 
her boilers in New York Harbor, am 
have been mischief. sn<?h a,s Fan! 11 



1864] THE PRESIDENT'S RECE 

loan with the banks, and they have closed 
customers. Money, or investments, are tc 
ment securities, rather than railroad and 
ments, for the moment. 

April 19, Tuesday. The President did i 
pearance to-day in Cabinet. He was i] 
evening at the opening of the fair, and is 
made a speech. He has a fondness for 
shows only surpassed by Seward. Neit! 
Blair, nor Chase was present with us to 
with the President at Baltimore. Beinj 
there was propriety in his attendance. 

April 20, Wednesday. The last publi 
tion of the season took place last evening 
Mansion. It was a jam, not creditable in 
to the authorities. The multitude were ] 
farther than crowding together in disoi 
sion may be so regarded. Had there beei 
or even a few police officers, present, th 
been regulations which would have bee: 
esced in and observed. There has always 
order and proper management at these 
tions, which I hope may soon be corrects 



DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AP: 

?es and specifications against the parties in New 
ared and in the hands of the copyists. 

ml 22j Friday. Neither Seward nor Chase nor 
ras at the Cabinet-meeting to-day. For some 
;e has been disinclined to be present and evident 
rpose. When sometimes with him, he takes occasi 
e to the Administration as departmental, a 
ag council, not acting in concert. There is much 
, and his example and conduct contribute 1 
ixd is more responsible than any one, howeve 
gh he is generally present. Stanton does not 
lly to come, for the President is much of his time '<. 
Department, and what is said or done is comi 
1 by the President, who is fond of telling as well 
ing what is new. Three or four times daily the 
it goes to the War Department and into the tele; 
5 to look over communications. 
>ngress is laboring on the tax bill. The Member 
D their duty because taxation is unpopular. A 
nity. Chase has not pressed for it heretofore fc 
5 reason. 

wil 23, Saturday. We have met with some disas 
h Carolina. Am apprehensive the army has b 



1864] STANTON'S CABINET 

said that things in these days must conf 
opinions. It is evident that our statesm* 
the importance nor condition of the mon 
question. 

April 25, Monday. Reverses in North < 
at this time. The death of Flusser is mos 
presume the blame of the disasters will 
the Navy, which, in fact, is merely auxili 
Letter-writers and partisan editors who 
petted by the military find no favor with 
as a consequence the Navy suffers detrac 

Burnside's army corps passed throu 
to-day, whites, blacks, and Indians m 
30,000. All the indications foreshadow a 
and battle in Virginia at an early day. 

Fox and Edgar have gone to Fortress 
for naval aid and assistance come up from 

April 26, Tuesday. Sent a letter to Nav 
favor of an iron navy yard, transmitting f< 
cations. Action is required and should ha^ 
Congress long since. 

Neither Chase nor Blair were at the Cat 
was Stanton. The course of these men is re 

tm-f +-Vk T^-rv^oix'l^kYfJ- T o-rv nstvtw 



18 DIARY OP GIDEON 

frequent assemblages and mutual c< 
measures would secure. At such a tine 
have the combined wisdom of all. 

Rear-Admiral Porter has sent me 
letter in relation to affairs on Red ] 
that have taken place at Mansfield 
The whole affair is unfortunate. Grea 
property has been made in consequen 
general in command. It is plain frc 
account that Banks is no general, has 
is wholly unfit for the position assigne 
exhibited military capacity, and I ] 
should adhere to him. It is to be a 
degree to Seward, who caused Butler 
Banks, and naturally desires he shouli 
and therefore hopes and strives agaii 
much of the demagogue, is superficig 
bility and a smack of party manage] 
successful. The President thinks he ] 
tensions and friends to back him, but 
Banks is not only no general, but he is 
man. He is something of a politicia 
of his own stamp, and for his own j 
not true and reliable. 

There is an attempt to convert th: 



1864] GENERAL BANKS'S CAP. 

April 27, Wednesday. The Wilkes c< 
closed its labors. The proceedings have n 
but, as the members are anxious to get 
journed the court for ten days, unless so 
dissolved. 

George Bliss, Jr., counsel for Scofield,w. 
as a fraudulent contractor, writes a tart 
his client. I have referred him to Wilson, 
He says by telegraph Wilson has not res 
I am sorry for this delay. Fox and Edj 
evening from Hampton Roads, absenl 

April 28, Thursday. Admiral Lee sends 
dispatch and also a communication to h 
Butler. On the latter Fox has made a prc 
On the 26th inst. General B. calls on the 1 
cooperation. Wants ironclads and gunbo 
Richmond; is going to move on the 30th 
tion or movement is to be secret; they a 
City Point, etc., etc. Only four days to i: 
and they are to proceed up a river who 
buoyed out. The scheme is not practice 
sanction of General Grant. It must, ho^ 
intended to deceive the enemy, and to do \ 
must first deceive our own people. A som< 



20 DIARY OF GIDEON 

censured. Whether the President wil 
him is to be seen. 

General Frank Blair has resigned I 
and the President has revoked the a< 
itary resignation. This is a stretch of 
tion that I do not like. Much censure 
sident for this act, and it will have add 
violent and injudicious speech of Gene 
in unmeasured terms Mr. Chase. H< 
pointees of Chase, and his general po 
permits in the valley of the Missis! 
corrupt. I have an unfavorable opir 
management there and on the coast, 
things in the conduct of Chase hi: 
prove. 

The Blairs are pugnacious, but 
especially those of Montgomery Blair 
sound and judicious in the main. A 
General Blair has been much used a 
mittee of Congress has pronounced 1 
ery, having been altered so as to cc 
worth of stores some $8000 or $10,( 
wrong on the Treasury agents, and < 
certainly have actively used it. Whei 
encouragement to the scandal is mu 



1864] WILKES FOUND GUIL1 

among the subordinates of a licentious cha 
Chase is cognizant of the facts. It has su] 
knowing the facts, he should have perm; 
most implicated to retain a position of gr 
great weakness, or implication in error we 
tion. I do not for a moment entertain th( 
former is not a trait in his character. 

These matters cannot be suppressed. I 
will not assent to a committee. He cann 
since Frank Blair has left, I think he will 
Colfax, the Speaker, will give him prett 
committee as he wishes. The majority ^ 
Chase, as they should be, and none probab 
opponents. 

The President to-day related to two or 
circumstances connected with his giving a 
sister of his wife, Mrs. White. He gave 
frankness, and without disguise. I will n< 
all, though they do him credit on a subjec' 
abuse. The papers have assailed him for 
Mrs. White to carry merchandise. Briefly 
at the White House and sent in her card 1 
her sister, who declined to receive or see he 
or three times repeated these applications 
the President, with the same result. The '. 

no CG onrl^ a a in onrrm PQCOQ IIA Via a mxrcm fn 



22 DIARY OP GIDEON ' 

suspension and a reprimand. It is a . 
the conviction. 

Army movements indicate an ear 
but when and where to be fought is u: 
ton. 

Congress to-day has ordered a com 
ury. It is made up as only Colfax coi 
friends of Chase are on it, and Brool 
with them. 

Thirty years ago I was accustomed 
a resident of Portland, Maine. He 
zealous Whig partisan, with no settl< 
ing from the New York Express, his p 
changed very little, though now elei 
with, those who call themselves Dei 
Democratic organization. 



XIX 

Investigating the Massacre at Fort Pillow Cabine 
Massacre Rumors of the Battle of the Wilderness 
Report of Banks's Mismanagement of the Red I 
The President's Disappointment in Banks News 
eral Wadsworth and General Sedgwick McCle 
Secretary Chase declines to pay Bills abroad in C 
Victory at Spottsylvania A Visit to the Confe< 
Belle o?lain Talk with Governor Morgan on Abus 
lations Trouble at the Charlestown Navy Yard 
Forged Proclamation Arrest of a Spaniard charge* 
in the Slave Trade Chase on the Cotton Speculat 
of two New York Newspapers for publishing the Fc 

May 2, Monday. Rumors thick and unpl< 
to the clerks and women employed at 
Much is doubtless exaggeration, but then 
agreeable truths. 

May 3, Tuesday. At the Cabinet-meetin 
requested each member to give him an opi: 
course the Government should pursue in 
recent massacre at Fort Pillow. The comm 
gress who have visited the scene returned 



A 11 J.T. - 



24 DIARY OF GIDEON 

Tom is filled with unrestrained ze* 
It is much of it youthful fervor but i 

May 4, Wednesday. Our forces are 
erable strength at Hampton Roads 
vessels there are in the Roads ovei 
transports. Whether the movemen 
River exclusively or a portion up the 
is not known. 

May 5, Thursday. I have written i 
ent in relation to the Fort Pillow m 
satisfactory to me, nor can I make it 
ence of what was done, nor am I cei 
I could come to a conclusion on so j 
a question. The idea of retaliation, 
which is the popular noisy demanc 
cannot assent to or advise it. The le 
be held accountable and punished, b 
of killing negro soldiers after they ha 
not be permitted, and the Rebel leac 
upon to avow or disavow it. But ho' 
Shall we go to Jeff Davis and his gov 
General Lee? If they will give us no ai 
will kill the negroes, or justify Forres 



1864] RUMORS OF THE WILDEE 

ously been offered. It is that the Presk 
proclamation declare the officers who had c 
massacre outlaws, and require any of our o: 
capture them, to detain them in custody ar 
them, but hold them to punishment. Tl 
not very distinctly enunciated. In a coi 
followed the reading of our papers, I ex 
favorable to this new suggestion, which relic 
of much of the difficulty. It avoids comn 
the Rebel authorities. Takes the matter in 
We get rid of the barbarity of retaliation. 

Stanton fell in with my suggestion, so fa 
that, should Forrest, or Chalmers, or any c 
ous in this butchery be captured, he should 
for trial for the murders at Fort Pillow. I s; 
and mentioned to him some of the adv* 
course, and he said it made a favorable impi 
him to say so, for it appeared to me that th< 
Seward did not appreciate it. 

We get no tidings from the front. Thei 
sion that we are on the eve of a great ba1 
may already have commenced. 

May 7, Saturday. Some fragmentary int 
to us of a conflict of the two great armiei 

l t,n Tmvp f.a.lrAn rlfl.rA. Thft 



26 DIARY OF GIDEON 

precipitated in advance. A dispatch 
to Quartermaster-General Meigs ca 
indicates an onward movement. Oth< 
ation is to the same effect. At least 
and others' also. 

To-day's news confirms the impr< 
nothing specific. All our conclusion 
way, and there can be no doubt th( 
back and our forces have advanced. 

Mr. Heap, clerk to Rear-Admiral P 
day from Alexandria on the Red Rn 
plorable account of affairs in a confid 
Admiral Porter and more fully detal 
misfortunes are attributed entirely ai 
incapacity of General Banks. Neithei 
Mr. Heap admit any mitigating circ 
pute to his imbecility the loss of the 
probable sacrifice of the fleet and the 
him of equivocating, of electioneerin 
cotton and general malfeasance and i 

I took Heap with me to the Presid< 
Ms own story. It was less full and dem 
but it seemed to convince the Pref 
thought was over-partial to Banks, J 
that Seward contributed to that feel: 



1864] LOSS OF WADSWORTH AND 

of a certain description; has great ambitio 
principle. It was Seward's doings that s 
Orleans. 

Who got up the Red River expedition I ! 
wise than by Admiral Porter, who writes 
the orders from Halleck. I know that I a 
in company with Seward last summer wil 
ting up an expedition to capture Mobile; t! 
for General Halleck; that the latter, wht 
not prepared to adopt our views, want* 
General Banks, was thinking of operati 
Mississippi, etc. Seward surrendered wi1 
remonstrance. Halleck was to let us kno 
heard from Banks, and I have never had i 
since. 

May 10, Tuesday, At the Cabinet, th< 
dispatches from General Grant, General 
Sherman, and some others. I had previou 
these dispatches. They were all in good i 
tone. There have been some conflicting ( 
to General Wadsworth, who is undoubted 
body is, I think, in the hands of the Rel 
spirits have fallen in this war. He shoulc 
and fair-dealing, have been at this mom< 

AT/vwr "V/AT.1j- Kn4- -i-Vi/% 



28 DIARY OF GIDEON ' 

ing, I apprehend, than this, and his lc 
will be felt by the army and country. 

May II, Wednesday. A craving, i 
vaded the community through the da 
from any quarter received, yet a c< 
everywhere that much is being done. 
Department at 9 P.M. The President 
anxiously waiting intelligence. 

I met Blair as I came from the Depai 
me to go to his house. A letter from 
asking me to name the month to whicl 
the Union National Convention, if I c 
ment, was received and answered by E 
was a singular document and surprised : 
Blair, who said he had seen the circub 
gave me even greater surprise, for Moi 
consulted and interchanged views wii 
concurring against postponement. It v 
at our last interview. 

Blair, as well as myself, was puzzled 
willing to believe that no mischief ^ 
course of Thurlow Weed and some Ne 
has been singular. Blair took from his j 
Barlow of New York, a Copperhead lea 



1864] VICTORY AT SPOTTSYLV. 

giving up party politics. Barlow replied tl 
give up their principles, and quotes a lette 
was written by a distinguished member o 
Cabinet last September, urging the organi 
servative party on the basis of the Crittend 
This extract shocks Blair. He says it n 
written by Seward. I incline to the same < 
Usher crossed my mind, and I so remarkec 
September U/s position was more equivocal 
and he might have written such a letter 
perfidy. Seward could not. 

May 12, Thursday. Late last night, ]V 
newspaper correspondent, called at my 1 
General Grant's headquarters at 8 A.M. ; 
ports hard fighting on Tuesday, but repres 
to have had the best of it. General Rot 
wounded, arrived in Washington. 

Secretary Chase sends me a letter that 
unwilling to pay bills drawn abroad in coin, 
Department to buy coin and pay the bills 
the Treasury. In other words, the Treasu: 
declines to meet government obligations as 
is incapable of discharging its fiscal duties, 
be a fiscal but a brokerage establishment 



30 DIARY OF GIDEON 

trains, and destroyed the depot of Eel 
Dam. Our troops are in good heart 
auspicious for the republic. Many 
been offered up for the Union, anc 
fallen. I dwell not on particulars. r . 
documents will give them. The tidini 
the patriotic everywhere, but among 
known as Copperheads, it is obvious 
tion in the success of the Union arms 
ness this factious and traitorous spirit 
itself. 

I saw Governor Morgan yesterday 
lar. He says he sent it out in self-de 
knew I would stand by him in resistii 
the convention, he was not certain 
should things by any possibility be a 
answers are all one way, except that 
who is for a postponement. This is in 
influence. 

To-night Governor Morgan inforj 
in which the convention is to meet h 
malcontents, through the treachery 2 
Winter Davis, in whom he confided, 
advise as to the course to be pursued, 
theatre, can build a temporary struc 



EXCURSION TO BELLE PLAIN 

'. Representative Gooch of the Charlestown, M 
>tts, district, has undertaken, with a few other 
spirits, to discuss the management of the navy 
las had much to say of the rights of the citizen 
e naval gentlemen. Wants the civilians to cc 
ard. In all matters of conflict between the govern 
he mischievous element of the yard, Mr. Gooch 
.st the government. This morning he called on ] 
st against Admiral Smith and the naval manage 
> yard. After hearing his complaints I remarkec 
[ifficulties at that yard were traced mainly tc 
iam, and antagonisms got up between civilian! 
. officers had their origin with him and his assoc 
ished me to order a restoration of all appointi 
tain departments to Merriam, which I declinec 
lim I would select two masters instead of leavic 
}yment of workmen with the Chief Engineer. 

ly 14, Saturday. Attended the funeral of C< 
is. His death gives embarrassment as to a succ 
higher class of marine officers are not the mei 
levate or give efficiency to the corps. To supe 
will cause much dissatisfaction. Every man v 
slaughed and all his friends will be offended wi1 
hat will be deemed an insult. But there is a di 



32 DIARY OF GIDEON 

rough place with no dwelling, an 
way from the shore some twenty or tl 
Some forty or fifty steamers and b 
crowded with persons, were there. R 
to reinforce Grant's army, or the w 
returning from battle. Rows of st: 
which was a maimed or wounded Unic 
ing towards the steamers which were t 
ington, while from the newly arrived 
the fresh soldiers going forward to th 
way along the new and rough-made 
of mules and horses, we arrived at tl 
two or three hundred feet in height, a 
broken footpath to the summit, on ^ 
quarters of General Abercrombie ar 
was steep and laborious. We had < 
prisoners here, but were told they we: 
and a half miles. The majority were 
thither, and, though tired and relu 
The prisoners, said to be about 7000 
camped in a valley surrounded by st< 
ference of the basin being some two 
turning, we passed through the cen 
basin. The prisoners were rough, 
good and effective soldiers, I should j 



1864] ABUSES IN COTTON SPECI 

believe that J. E. B. Stuart was killed, : 
received just as I came on board the bo 
He was earnest, though uninformed, and i 
western North Carolina. Returning, we re 
ton at 9 P.M. 

To-day I have been busy in preparii 
letters and matters for Congress. 

Governor Morgan called on me relati 
cotton speculations, and malconduct of 
and others. Some of the malpractices wh 
izing the army and the officials and disgi 
people in the lower Mississippi are becon 
will, I trust, lead to legislative correeti* 
introduced the subject and thought propc 
I freely gave him facts and my views, wh 
Chase and the Treasury management. A 
gan showed me is crudely drawn but intro 
an entire change. It is not, in some of its 
should have proposed, but it will inaprov 
system. 

May 17, Tuesday. A painful suspense ii 
tions. It is a necessary suspense, but the i: 
oppressive, and almost unfits the mind for 
We know it cannot be long before one or r 



34 DIARY OF GIDEOI 

Smith, with opposition to the Ad] 
briefly to the President some of th 
Mr. Gooch was not a free agent whei 
difference between the Governmem 
that G. could not do otherwise than 
yard, and that Merriam was a cum 
up a citizen's feeling for selfish pur] 

Things are getting in such condit 
native but to dismiss the man Mer 
ham writes me that M. has got up ; 
the Massachusetts Senators and '. 
he has hired a man to circulate for j 
ing against the naval management 
up a hostile feeling. It is this, I pre 
call on the President. 

Met Governor Morrill this eveni 
of the misconduct of the Treasury a 
cussed the subject. He is on the Cc 
and has a right to know the facts, \ 
whole proceeding is a disgrace an 
with Governor M. that the Secreta 
enough to do to attend to the finar 
the cotton trade. But Chase is ve 
fond of power. He has, moreover, 1 
politicians, who believe that the pa 



1864] A FORGED PROCLAMATI 

of the East Gulf Squadron, had left me but 
previously, I sent for him, there having be 
the case. While waiting for Temple, Mr. ! 
that a forged proclamation, had been public 
papers in New York, among others by the T 
nal of Commerce, imposing a fast on aecoun 
of Grant and calling for a draft of 300,00( 
said he at once sent on contradicting it ai 
the English steamer to be delayed. He the 
Stanton to know whether such a document 1 
the regular telegraph. Stanton said then 
(S.) then ordered that the other line sho 
seized, which was done. Seward then ask< 
and Journal of Commerce had been shut up 
he knew of their course only a minute befoi 
the papers had been published a minute 
Stanton said if he and the President direct 
be suspended. Seward thought there shou 
Gold, under the excitement, has gone u 
and the cotton loan will advance on the 
steamer at Liverpool with the tidings. It 
been a cunningly devised scheme, pr< 
Rebels and the gold speculators, as they j 
are in sympathy with them. 



36 DIARY OF GIDE01 

I told him she was yet in the hands 
was likely to be for some time, and 
not certain that it would be best 
Atlantic. But he was nervous; sai 
to stop the Eebel ironclads from co: 
should happen to get a victory. 

The recent arrest of a Spaniard 
New York, and who was abducted 
officials under instructions or by dir 
of State is exciting inquiry. Arguell 
in some way, participated in the si 
assertion be true, we have no e5 
Spain, and I am therefore surpris< 
There is such hostility to the sla 
wrong may perhaps be perpetrate 
without scrutiny, but I hope not. '. 
said in Cabinet on the subject, nor 
regard to it, except what I see in th 

Mr. Seward sometimes does strs 
inclined to believe he has committ 
which make me constantly appreh 
knows that slavery is odious and 
traffic are distrusted, and has, it seei 
sion to exercise arbitrary power, < 
win popular applause by doing an 



1864] THE COTTON SPECULAT 

speculations. It was a new and singula 
and I said it could not be otherwise than ( 
said, "Yes, your whole fleet out West is 
devotes his attention to getting cotton z 
himself, with a piano and his pipe, on th 
I replied this could not be so. The nava 
ture and retain nothing, which the court 
to be good prize. We were interrupted at 
elude the Committee on Commerce ha^ 
that they disapprove of his " Trade Rega 
outburst on the Navy is to turn off atten 
cials. But we shall see. 

Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps t 
this evening and given me many interes 
cerning the Red River expedition and the 
General Banks. Among other matters 
facts in regard to cotton speculations by p 
with General Banks some of his staf 
ceedingly discreditable. Among others w 
mentions is one Clark from Auburn, ! 
appears to be managing director of the c< 

Our gunboats are detained above the h 
and we may lose them, though it is possifc 
be a rise before June. The expedition ha 
ures, of which we shall be better informe< 



38 DIARY OF GIDEON 

Times. If I am not mistaken, he has 
ants and a def amer of the Departmer 
ous class of reckless sensation-writer 
set of journalists who misinform the j 
one of them has regard for truth, 
use of their positions to subserve se! 
This forger and falsifier Howard is a 
arable tribe. 

The seizure of the office of the 1 
Commerce for publishing this forgerj 
considerate, and wrong, and cannot 
are mischievous and pernicious, 
against the Union and the Governm 
enance and encouragement to the I 
this instance the dupes, perhaps th 
knave and wretch. The act of suspe 
and the whole arbitrary and oppresi 
its origin with the Secretary of State 
doubt, was willing to act on Seward's 
President, in deference to Seward, y: 

These things are to be regretted 
Administration and strengthen its e 
ministration ought not to be conden 
of one, or at most two, of its memb 
be if the President was less influence 



1864] MR. SANFORD AND THE NI 

Seward sent to my house on Saturday ev 
of dispatches from Mr. Dayton, and also 
low, our consul at Paris, relative to the co 
ings of the French Government. That br 
the blockade for tobacco looks mischievo 
more vessels ought doubtless to appear in E 
Bigelow, in his confidential dispatch, te 
it was not judicious to have explained to tl 
ernment in regard to the resolution of our I 
sentatives that they would maintain the M< 

May 30, Monday. My constant applicat 
no time for several days to jot down occurs 
remarks. 

Mr. Sanford was very pertinacious and 
his scheme of going out in the Niagara, a 
that Mr. Seward favored it. I am inclinec 
ard fell into the arrangement without i 
This is the best view for Seward. Sanford : 
notoriety; delights to be busy and fussy, to s 
power; and to have a vessel like the Niagai 
to his mission would have filled him wit 
would not have elevated the country, for 
character is known abroad and wherevei 
which is one of obtrusive intermeddlings, 



40 DIARY OF GIDEON 

May 31, Tuesday. No special matl 
Seward sent me on Saturday a corr 
himself and Lord Lyons and the TJ 
relative to a large amount of cotton \ 
a few months since in Georgia by one , 
Englishman, who desires to bring it o\ 
do that, to have it protected. The Sec 
the Secretary of the Treasury for vi 
thought the proposition to bring it o 
when our military lines were so extenc 
cotton the agents of the Treasury wo 
care as the property of loyal citizens 
well to advise the Navy and War Dep 
their officers. Hence the communica 

I decline giving any such instructio] 
ten Mr. Seward, considering it illegal a 
telling him it would be a precedent f o: 
products of the South into foreign hai 
tions of war which we should be bour 
but Englishmen would have the presui 
a request. It is entitled to no respe 
Not unlikely it is cotton of the Rebel 
up. 



XX 

Fremont nominated to the Presidency by the Clevela 
Estimate of Fremont General Cochrane, the 
President Rigorous Dealing with the Conf ed 
cated Gathering of Delegates for the Baltimoi 
Abduction of Arguellis The Republican Conve 
coin and Johnson The Relations of Secretai 
President Hamlin Hamlin and Johnson and 
Nomination John P. Hale defeated for the Sens 
Hampshire Legislature Admiral Gregory's Unfa 
Light-Draft Monitors The Smith Brothers of 
Contract Frauds The Case of Henderson, ! 
Presidential Excursions to Army Headquarters - 
Court Martial in Charles W. Scofield's Case Ch 
the Country's Finances A Letter from Willia 
behalf of Henderson Bryant and Godwin and 
The Resignation of Chase. 

June I, Wednesday. Called on the Pres 
the appointment of midshipmen. After 
list with some care, he finally designated to 
[and] one apprentice, and desired me to cc 
inations. 

When I called on the President, Major- 
was with him, and, as I went in, was givi 



DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES p 

put forward as the representative of the pric 
fhich we were contending, and I have no reas 
that he was not faithful to the cause. He was, 

as soon as nominated, surrounded, to a great e: 
ad men, in whom no good man had confidence 
ng was very well so far as he appeared befoi 
.c. I saw that he was anxious to be elected bi 
sively so; he was not obtrusive, but, on the con 
ved and retiring. In nothing did he show exti 
r ability or character, but my conclusions were th 
traits were undeveloped. He did not grow upc 
served men usually do. Colonel Benton had in f< 
3 extolled him, though opposed to his candi 
^rnor Marcy, no friend of Benton, and not part 
lont, had, when Secretary of War, given him 
fame by a most remarkable indorsement in his 
:t in (I think) 1848. 

.ave since learned that that part of Marcy 7 s repo] 
en by Colonel Benton himself, and that Pres 
compelled Marcy to incorporate it in the annu 
of the War Department. The affair seems incr< 
st to me, who knew the several parties, but I le 
way that leaves no doubt of its truth. Marc; 
:y but was timid and subservient. Fremont has g 
putation during the War. In power his surroun 



1864] FREMONT AND COCHRA? 

I am surprised that General Cochrane si 
barked in the scheme. But he has been w 
ratio. A Democrat, a Barnburner, a cc 
Abolitionist, an Anti-abolitionist, a Democrs 
and now a radical Republican. He has son 
inent, ability; can never make a mark as a 
will not surprise me if he should change his 
the close of the political campaign, and su 
inees of the Baltimore Convention. There i 
ence of views and policy between him anc 
the convention which has nominated the 
geneous mixture of weak and wicked mer 
jeopard and hazard the Republican and TJj 
many of them would defeat it and give succ 
perheads to gratify their causeless spite a 
sident. He is blamed for not being more ei 
cause he is despotic in the same breath. He 
being too mild and gentle towards the Rebe 
tyrannical and intolerant. There is no dou 
ficult part to perform in order to satisfy a] 

This war is extraordinary in all its aspec 
and no man was prepared to meet them. 11 
for the censorious and factious to compl 
right. I have often thought that greater 
well be exercised, and yet it would tend to 

TVT 4- *J- -M V.rt/-, T-x ^>-\ !-. !. T ,3 /% "U 4- * 4-"U 



44 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE i 

work benignantly. Were a few of the leaders to be stripped 
of their possessions, and their property confiscated, their 
families impoverished, the result would be salutary in the 
future. But I apprehend there will be very gentle measures 
in closing up the Rebellion. The authors of the enormous 
evils that have been inflicted will go unpunished, or will 
be but slightly punished. 

June 2, Thursday. There is intense anxiety in relation 
to the Army of the Potomac. Great confidence is felt in 
Grant, but the immense slaughter of our brave men chills 
and sickens us all. The hospitals are crowded with the 
thousands of mutilated and dying heroes who have poured 
out their blood for the Union cause. Lee has returned to 
the vicinity of Richmond, overpowered by numbers, 
beaten but hardly defeated. 

June 3, Friday. For several days the delegates to the 
National Convention have been coming in. Had a call 
from several. Met a number at the President's. All favor 
the President. There is a spirit of discontent among the 
Members of Congress, stirred up, I think, by the Treasury 
Department. Chase has his flings and insinuations against 
the President's policy, or want of policy. Nothing suits 
him. 

There seems some difference among the delegates about 
the Vice-Presidency, but they will be likely to renominate 
Hamlin, though he has not much personal strength and has 
not the mind and temperament to build up a party for the 
country. There is an impression here that he has great 
strength in New England, but that is not my opinion. He 
has party cunning and management but not breadth and 
strength and is but little cared for there; is not offensive or 
obnoxious, but there is no zeal for him. As the President 
is a Western man and will be renominated, the Convention 
will very likely feel inclined to go East and to renominate 
the Vice-President also. Should New York be united on 



VV U U.JLVJ. 



the Empire State, but there can be no union in that State 
upon either of those men or any other. 

June 4, Saturday. Many delegates to Convention in 
town. Some attempts made by Members of Congress to 
influence them. The friends of Chase improve the oppor- 
tunity to exclaim against Blair. 

There has been continued fighting, though represented 
as not very important. Still there is heavy loss, but we 
are becoming accustomed to the sacrifice. Grant has not 
great regard for human life. 

June 6, Monday. Am urged to go to Baltimore but do 
not deem it advisable. Some talk with Blair respecting 
Chase and Seward, who, though not assimilating and un- 
like in many respects, continue to get along. Each has a 
policy which seems to me unsound, and Blair coincides 
with me, but is so intent on other matters, personal to the 
Blairs and the vindictive war upon them, that he is com- 
pelled to defer the differences on grave questions to what 
so nearly concerns him. 

I am uncomfortable about the extradition, or rather the 
abduction, of Arguellis, the Spaniard. The act shocks me, 
and the Administration will justly be held accountable. 
Some of us who know nothing on the subject will have to 
share the responsibility. I knew nothing of the subject, nor 
that there was such a man, until after the wrong had been 
committed and the man was on his way to Cuba. Marshal 
Murray then informed me, and said he was here to escape 
the grand jury. A few days after the subject was alluded 
to in the Cabinet. Seward introduced it incidentally, partly 
as a feeler and partly to affirm hereafter that the subject 
had been mentioned. A few words passed between him 
and the President. As no one said a word by way of com- 
ment, I inquired if there was not a law in New York against 
abduction? Seward claimed there was no law prohibiting 



46 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNES 

the extradition, that we might do it or not. It was an 
act of comity merely; Spain could not demand it, etc., etc. 
It was in answer to these remarks that I put the inquiry. 
I saw it grated, and when I further remarked if there was 
no treaty or law for it, I should doubt the propriety of act- 
ing, I saw I was making discord, and the subject dropped. 
The arrest is an arbitrary and unauthorized exercise of 
power by the Secretary of State. 

June 7, Tuesday. The Convention to-day is the absorb- 
ing theme but there is something from the army relative to 
the late fights that disturbs me. We have had severe 
slaughter. Brave men have been killed and maimed most 
fearfully, but Grant persists. 

June 8, Wednesday. The President was renominated 
to-day at Baltimore. A contest took place in regard to 
Missouri, and the wrong delegates were admitted by an 
almost unanimous vote. A strange perversion. There was 
neither sense nor reason nor justice in the decision. 
Rogues, fanatics, hypocrites, and untruthful men secured 
and triumphed over good and true men. Prejudice over- 
came truth and reason. The Convention exhibited great 
stupidity and actually stultified itself in this matter. 

When the vote of the Convention was taken on the nom- 
ination for President, it was found the Missouri delega- 
tion who had been admitted were not in harmony with the 
Convention. They would not vote for Mr. Lincoln. He 
had all the rest of the votes. There was much intrigue 
and much misconception in this thing. 

On the question of Vice-President there was greater 
diversity of opinion at the beginning, but ultimately and 
soon all united on Andrew Johnson. Personally I did not 
regret this result, although I took no part in its accom- 
plishment. The delegates and papers of my State gener- 
ally have disapproved of Hamlin's course towards me, and 
I have no doubt it contributed to their casting a united 



vote at the start for Johnson. Hamlin and his friends 
will give me credit for influence which I do not possess, 
and ascribe to me revenge for malevolence I have never felt. 
Without cause and because I would not extend undue 
favor to one of his friends by official abuse, he has treated 
me coldly, discourteously, and with bad temper, so 
much so as to attract attention and inquiry, and lead to 
opposition to his renomination. 

June 9, Thursday. There seems to be general satisfac- 
tion with the nominations made at Baltimore, and with the 
resolutions adopted. Except the nomination for Vice- 
President, the whole proceedings were a matter of course. 
It was the wish of Seward that Hamlin should again be the 
Vice, and the President himself was inclined to the same 
policy, though personally his choice is Johnson. This, I 
think, was the current Administration opinion, though 
with no particular zeal or feeling. Blair inclined to the 
policy of taking Hamlin, though partial to Johnson. I 
took no part and could not well take any. Yet to-day 
from several quarters it is said to me that Connecticut 
overthrew Hamlin, and that it was my doings which led to 
it. While this is not correct, I am nowise disposed to be 
dissatisfied with the change that has been made. 

Concluded to retire the marine officers who are past the 
legal age, and to bring in Zeilin as Commandant of the 
Corps. There seems no alternative. . . . 

1' June 10, Friday. The caucus of the New Hampshire 
members of the legislature friendly to the Administration 
has resulted in the substitution of Cragin for John P. Hale. 
This will be a sore and sad disappointment to Hale, who 
had until recently thought himself invincible in New 
Hampshire. Although I have no doubt he would make 
terms with the Copperheads if he could, they would not 
with him, and it therefore seems scarcely possible that it 
can be otherwise than he will be fully and finally defeated. 
1 Four pages omitted on account of a duplication in the manuscript, 



52 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 10 

I rejoice at it, for he is worthless, a profligate politician, a 
poor Senator, an indifferent statesman, not without talents, 
though destitute of industry, and I question his integrity. 
He has some humor, is fond of scandal, delights in defam- 
ing, loves to oppose, and is reckless of truth in his assaults. 
The country will sustain no loss from his retirement. As 
chairman of the Naval Committee and the organ of com- 
munication between the Navy Department and the Senate, 
he has rendered no service, but has been a constant em- 
barrassment and obstruction. During the whole of this 
civil war, when all our energies and efforts were exerted 
in the cause of the Union and the country, no assistance, 
no word of encouragement even, has ever come to the De- 
partment from John P. Hale; but constant assaults, insinu- 
ations, and pronounced, if not wilful and deliberate, mis- 
representations have emanated from him. Of course, I 
shall not regret his defeat, for though his term does not 
expire till the close of this Administration, and my connec- 
tion with the Government may terminate at the same time, 
I am glad that his factious conduct is not indorsed by his 
State, and that the buffoon and vilifier will not be in a po- 
sition to do further injury. He has been less offensive this 
session than heretofore, whether because he had become 
aware that his conduct did not meet the approval of the 
people and the election was at hand, I care not to judge. 
A letter from Admiral Gregory, inclosing a report from 
himself and Chief Engineer King on the Chimo, one of the 
light-draught monitors, gives a bad account. There have 
been mistakes and miscalculations in this class of vessels 
of a serious character. Stimers and Fox have had them in 
charge, and each has assured me that my apprehensions 
were groundless. Fox has been persistent in this matter, and 
assumed that the objections were wholly groundless. Ad- 
miral Gregory has also given me strong assurances that all 
was right. The Chimo, the first, would, he said, be a little 
deep, but this would be obviated in all the others, and not 
very bad in her case. I am not satisfied with Stimers's 



1864] CONTRACT FRAUDS 53 

management, yet Fox has in this matter urged what has 
been done. The report indicates unfitness on the part of 
Stimers, who miscalculated or made no calculation for dis- 
placement, has become vain, and feared to acknowledge 
his error. 

June 11, Saturday. There is very little from the army 
that is decisive or satisfactory. Constant fighting is going 
on, killing without any battle. The bodies of our brave 
men, slain or mutilated, are brought daily to Washington 
by hundreds. Some repulse we have had beyond what is 
spoken of, I have no doubt. But our army holds on with 
firmness, and persistency, and courage, being constantly 
reinforced. 

June 20, Monday. A very busy and eventful week has 
passed without my having time to jot down incidents, 
much less observations and reflections. Among other mat- 
ters, on representations made by attorneys, detectives, 
and others, I directed the arrest of Smith Brothers, in Bos- 
ton. It is stated they have attempted to defraud the gov- 
ernment in the delivery of the articles under contract. Mr. 
Wilson, Mr. Goodman, Mr. Eames, Mr. Watkins, Mr. Fox, 
Mr. Faxon, Admiral Smith, all concur in opinion as to the 
criminality of the Smiths. Yet they stand high in Boston 
as pious, sharp men, who profess great honesty and much 
religion. The arrest will bring down abuse and hostility 
upon me from many. But duty demanded action, however 
unpleasant. 

Mr. Rice called on me early Saturday morning with a 
telegram received at midnight from Mrs. Smith, concern- 
ing the arrest of her husband. She is in great distress and 
has the earnest sympathy of Mr. Rice, who believes the 
Smiths innocent. He says the arrest has ruined forever the 
families, whether innocent or guilty. Mr. Gooch soon came 
in with a similar telegram, received at midnight, and went 

SQTYIA strvrv rnnrp Kripflv. OnnrVh fplf. hn.rl n.nrl 



54 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 20 

slept but little. I told Mr. Rice that the parties should have 
the benefit of bail, or rather that I had written Mr. Wilson, 
authorizing bail. Colonel Olcott writes Fox, to whom these 
matters are specially committed, opposing bail; wants 
them confined in Fort Warren, where they have been sent, 
until he has examined their papers. He is a cormorant, 
searching papers, utterly reckless. I told Fox that I wished 
a firm but mild man ; that I would not be oppressive. But 
Fox is violent against these men, who, he believes, are 
hypocrites and rascals. While I may not differ with him in 
that respect, they have rights in common with us all that 
must be respected and not rudely violated. 

Preliminary measures for the arrest and trial of Hender- 
son, Navy Agent at New York, have been taken. From 
the .statements of Savage, Stover, and others he has been 
guilty of malfeasance, although standing high in the com- 
munity as a man of piety and purity. It has been with re- 
luctance that I have come to the conclusion that it was my 
duty to ask his removal and take measures against him. 
But I am left no alternative. That he, like all the Navy 
Agents, was getting rich at the public expense I have not 
doubted, that there were wrong proceedings in this mat- 
ter I fully believed, and yet to break with old friends was 
and is unpleasant. My own impression is that Henderson 
has kept more accurate accounts than his predecessors, and 
I expect his books will square up faithfully, accurate in 
dollars and cents, but the wrong has been in another 
way. His representative, and friend, and fellow church- 
member Odell has looked into the subject, and says he has 
committed great frauds. 

The gold bill, as it is called, has been finally enacted and 
we shall soon ascertain whether it effects any good. Chase 
and his school have the absurd follies of the Whigs and 
John Law in regard to money and finance. I have no con- 
fidence in his financial wisdom or intelligence on those 
subjects. 

We get no good army news from Petersburg. Our troops 



1864] PRESIDENTIAL EXCURSIONS 55 

have suffered much and accomplished but little, so far as I 
can learn. But there is disinclination to communicate 
army intelligence, as usual. Were the news favorable, it 
would be otherwise. 

The President in his intense anxiety has made up his 
mind to visit General Grant at his headquarters, and left 
this P.M. at five. Mr. Fox has gone with him, and not un- 
likely favored and encouraged the President in this step, 
which I do not approve. It has been my policy to discour- 
age these Presidential excursions. Some of the Cabinet 
favored them. Stanton and Chase, I think, have given them 
countenance heretofore. 

He can do no good. It can hardly be otherwise than 
harmful, even if no accident befalls him. Better for him and 
the country that he should remain at his post here. It 
would be advantageous if he remained away from the War 
Department and required his Cabinet to come to him. 

June 21, Tuesday. The President being absent, there 
was no Cabinet-meeting to-day. Massachusetts Represent- 
atives are sensitive and sore concerning the arrest of the 
Smiths. I wrote Mr. Wilson not to be severe and to take 
bail. 

June 22, Wednesday. Much sensational news concerning 
delay of army movements. I am inclined to think our peo- 
ple have learned caution from dear experience, dear in 
the best blood of the country. 

Gold had gone up to-day to 230. Legislation does not 
keep down the price or regulate values. In other and 
plainer terms, paper is constantly depreciating and the 
tinkering has produced the contrary effect from that in- 
tended by our financiers. 

June 23, Thursday. A call in force this A.M. from a large 
portion of the Massachusetts delegation in behalf of the 
Smith brothers, now in Fort Warren, wanting them to be 



56 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 23 

bailed, but at the same time admitting a bail bond to be 
useless or valueless. They proposed, however, the whole 
Massachusetts delegation should unite in a bond, guaran- 
teeing the appearance of the Smiths for trial. Told them I 
thought this not a proper proceeding, that it was perhaps 
doubtful whether bail could properly be taken, that I had 
written to Mr. Wilson that I wished, if it could be done, 
that there should be bail, etc., etc. The interview was long; 
Senator Wilson, Mr. Rice, Mr. Dawes were the principal 
speakers. 

In the afternoon Mr. Rice called at my house with a tele- 
gram to the effect that Mr. Wilson would be willing to take 
bail, but that Assistant Secretary Fox, who has the matter 
in special charge, had written him not to do so without the 
consent of Colonel Olcott, etc. I told Mr. Rice, I thought 
there must be some misapprehension, that I thought Mr. 
Wilson would act discreetly and properly, that we should 
probably hear from him by to-morrow morning's mail. 
He was earnest, sensitive, and expressed great distrust, or 
want of confidence in Mr. Fox. I told him, while Mr. Fox 
was very earnest and persevering, I thought it an error to 
impute to him personal enmity against the Smiths and 
others. 

Admiral Lee sends me some papers relative to a permit 
issued by General Butler to one Lane, of the steamer Phila- 
delphia, to trade in Chowan River, North Carolina. It was 
a little, dirty, speculating intrigue, initiated as early as last 
March, in a letter from General Butler addressed to the 
President, proposing to send in ploughs, harrows, and 
farming utensils to loyal farmers in North Carolina, in ex- 
change for cotton and products of the country, plausible 
and taking rascality. The President indorsed that he ap- 
proved the object. On this General Butler granted a per- 
mit. Captain Smith, senior officer in the Sounds, declined 
to recognize it, but detained the boat and sent the papers 
to Admiral Lee. The latter failed called the paper many 
names, said President's permit must be respected. 



1864] VERDICT IN THE SCOFIELD CASE 57 

I showed the papers to Seward and Blair, and was dis- 
posed to telegraph and detain the vessel. B. was inclined, 
though doubtingly, to favor my views, S. advised waiting 
the arrival of the President, but both condemned the pro- 
ceedings as wholly improper. 

Some warm discussion took place, Rice tells me, in the 
House on the currency and financial questions, showing 
serious differences in the Ways and Means Committee and 
between them and the Secretary of the Treasury. It will 
not surprise me should radical differences be developed. 
The whole system is one of error, ruinous error to the coun- 
try. 

June 24, Friday. Telegraphed to Wilson directly on 
reaching Department (and finding no letter from Wilson), 
directing him to bail the Smiths in sums of $20,000 each. 

Have given some examination of the Scofield trial, which 
is very voluminous, and had Watkins investigate, review, 
and report. I conclude to approve the finding, though 
there may be some irregularities and mistakes adverse to 
the Government. Mr. Bliss, counsel for S., filed a docu- 
ment, excepting to some legal points, yesterday. To-day, 
after learning my conclusion and looking at the finding, 
he takes stronger exceptions and declares the finding not 
conformable to facts and evidence. He wishes me to sub- 
mit the legal questions to the Attorney-General or some 
one else. Alluded to Mr. Eames. Wishes Mr. Watkins 
to examine the evidence. To Eames he says that it is the 
intention of Scofield and his counsel to prosecute the mem- 
bers of the court individually for false imprisonment. To 
Watkins, he further says that it is their intention to hold 
me accountable, and to have me arrested when I am in 
New York. All this does not induce me to change my con- 
clusion of approving the verdict of the court martial, but I 
think it may be proper to advise the court that it is in 
error on the subject of jurisdiction, that they can take 
cognizance of open-market purchases as well as others, and 



58 

though, had they done so, the punishment might have been 
greater, yet I will still approve the finding. Let him have 
the benefit of the mistake the court has made. 

Fox is much dissatisfied with the verdict. Thinks it in- 
adequate; should have been imprisoned five years and fined 
one hundred thousand dollars. He wishes me to return the 
papers for revision, and to state the punishment is inade- 
quate. But this is not advisable, even were it strictly cor- 
rect and allowable. The ends desired will be accomplished 
by this punishment. A more severe one, such as he sug- 
gests, will endanger a reaction. 

The President was in very good spirits at the Cabinet. 
His journey has done him good, physically, and strength- 
ened him mentally and inspired confidence in the General 
and army. Chase was not at the Cabinet-meeting. I know 
not if he is at home, but he latterly makes it a point not to 
attend. No one was more prompt and punctual than him- 
self until about a year since. As the Presidential contest 
approached he has ceased in a great measure to come to 
the meetings. Stanton is but little better. If he comes, it 
is to whisper to the President, or take the dispatches or the 
papers from his pocket and go into a corner with the Pre- 
sident. When he has no specialty of his own, he withdraws 
after some five or ten minutes. 

Mr. Seward generally attends the Cabinet-meetings, 
but the questions and matters of his Department he sel- 
dom brings forward. These he discusses with the President 
alone. Some of them he communicates to me, because it is 
indispensable that I should be informed, but the other mem- 
bers are generally excluded. 

June 25, Saturday. There are some blunders in the 
finding of the court in Scofield's case that I do not like. I 
telegraphed to Wilson, Judge-Advocate, to come here for 
consultation and explanation, but a telegram just received 
says he is unable from indisposition. 

The Treasury management is terrible, ruinous. Navy 



1864] CHASE'S MISMANAGEMENT 59 

requisitions are wantonly withheld for weeks, to the ruin 
of the contractor. In the end the government will suffer 
greatly, for persons will not under these ruinous delays deal 
with the government at ordinary current rates. The pay of 
the sailors and workmen is delayed until they are almost 
mutinous and riotous. There is no justifiable excuse for 
this neglect. But Mr. Chase, having committed blunders 
in his issues, is now desirous of retiring certain paper, and 
avails himself of funds of creditors on naval account to ac- 
complish this. It is most unjust. The money honestly due 
to government creditors should not be withheld for Treas- 
ury schemes, or to retrieve its mistakes. 

I am daily more dissatisfied with the Treasury manage- 
ment. Everything is growing worse. Chase, though a man 
of mark, has not the sagacity, knowledge, taste, or ability 
of a financier. Has expedients, and will break down the 
government. There is no one to check him. The President 
has surrendered the finances to his management entirely. 
Other members of the Cabinet are not consulted. Any dis- 
sent from, or doubts even, of his measures is considered as a 
declaration of hostility and an embarrassment of his ad- 
ministration. I believe I am the only one who has expressed 
opinions that questioned his policy, and that expression 
was mild and kindly uttered. Blair said about as much and 
both [he and I] were lectured by Chase. But he knew not 
then, nor does he know now, the elementary principles of 
finance and currency. Congress surrenders to his capri- 
cious and superficial qualities as pliantly as the President 
and the Cabinet. If they do not legalize his projects, the 
Treasury is to be closed, and under a threat, or something 
approaching a threat, his schemes are sanctioned, and 
laws are made to carry them into effect ; but woe awaits 
the country in consequence. 

June 27, Monday. I sent Mr. Eames to New York last 
evening to consult with Mr. Wilson in the New York and 
Boston cases, giving my views in each. Henderson will 



60 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 27 

struggle hard to get clear, and no effort must be spared to 
elicit the truth. Scofield's case must be straightened, or 
rather court must be straightened in his case. In the case 
of the Smiths at Boston, I fear there has been unnecessary 
harshness. Olcott has made an ostentatious display of au- 
thority and been, I apprehend, tyrannical and oppressive. 
He is a harsh, rough instrument, and I shall be glad when 
he shall have done service with me. Yet in saying this I 
admit from what I have seen he has some good qualities as 
a detective. I have seen nothing to doubt his honesty; he 
is industrious and indefatigable, but vain, reckless, re- 
gardless of private rights, and all his qualities have been 
exercised in the case of the Smiths, who are shrewd, piously 
honest, self-righteous, and wary as well as sharp. It will 
not surprise me if they prove an overmatch for him and the 
lawyers. 

I have a very earnest letter to-day from William C. 
Bryant in behalf of his partner and publisher, Henderson. 
It was handed to me by Mr. Odell, Representative from 
Brooklyn, and inclosed was also an open letter to the Pre- 
sident, which he wished me to deliver. Mr. 0. is, like H., a 
prominent member of the Methodist Church. They are of 
opposite politics. Of course Mr. H. stimulated Mr. B. to 
write these letters, and, having got them, sends them 
through his religious associate. Mr. B. evidently believes 
H. innocent and injured. This is natural. Odell knows he 
is not. Morgan believes that both Bryant and Godwin are 
participants in the plunder of Henderson. I have doubts 
as regards B., who is feeling very badly, and thinks there is 
a conspiracy in which Seward and Thurlow Weed are 
chiefs. I am supposed to be an instrument in their hands, 
and so is the President. But it so happens that neither of 
them knew any of the facts until the arrest of Henderson 
and his removal were ordered. 

It grieves me that the Evening Post and Mr. Bryant 
should suffer by reason of the malfeasance of Henderson. 
As regards Godwin, I cannot say that my faith in him is 



1864] THE EVENING POST'S EDITORS 61 

much greater than in Henderson, and yet I know but little 
of him. The Evening Post does not sustain the character 
which it had under Bigelow and Leggett. Bryant is a good 
general editor in many respects, but the political character 
of the paper has been derived in a great degree from others. 
Of late there have been some bad surroundings. Opdyke, 
J. G. C. Gray, D. D. Field, and others of like complexion 
have been the regents and advisers of Godwin, until the 
paper is losing some of its former character, perhaps 
more than any of us are aware. 

I dined to-day with Attorney- General Bates, and after 
my return this evening wrote a reply to Bryant's letter, 
disabusing his mind of some of its errors, provided his 
convictions are open to the truth. 

Mrs. Franklin J. Smith of Boston sends me through Sen- 
ator Sumner a touching and affecting letter in behalf of her 
husband. I gave Mr. Bryant's letter to the President, who 
read it aloud to me and said he would reply. 

June 28, Tuesday. We have bad news from Sherman 
to-day. Neither Seward, Chase, nor Stanton was at the 
Cabinet-meeting. The President, like jmyself , slightly in- 
disposed. 

Mrs. General Hunter was at our house this evening and 
has tidings of a favorable character from her husband, who 
is in the western part of Virginia. Has done great mischief 
to the Rebels, and got off safely and well. This small bit of 
good news is a relief, as we are getting nothing good from 
the great armies. 

Gold has gone up to 240. Paper, which our financiers 
make the money standard, is settling down out of sight. 
This is the result of the gold bill and similar measures, yet 
Chase learns no wisdom. We are hurrying onward into a 
financial abyss. There is no vigorous mind in Congress to 
check the current, and the prospect is dark for the country 
under the present financial management. It cannot be sus- 
tained. 



62 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 29 

June 29, Wednesday. Nothing from the army. We hear 
that the pirate Alabama is at Cherbourg. Is she to remain 
there to be repaired? Seward tells me he knows one of the 
French armed vessels recently sold is for Sweden, and he 
has little doubt both are; that the French government is 
not deceitful in this matter. 

Congress is getting restive and discontented with the 
financial management. The papers speak of the appoint- 
ment of Field, Assistant Secretary, to be Assistant Treas- 
urer at New York, in the place of Cisco. I doubt if any one 
but Chase would think of him for the place, and Chase, as 
usual, does not know the reason. But Field has talents, 
and Chase takes him from association. Morgan prefers 
Hillhouse, and Seward wants Blatchford. 

The closing hours of Congress are crowded, as usual, but 
I believe matters are about as square as usual. Our naval 
bills have mostly been disposed of. 

June 30, Thursday. All were surprised to-day with the 
resignation of Secretary Chase and the nomination of Gov- 
ernor David Tod as his successor. I knew nothing of it till 
the fact was told me by Senator Doolittle, who came to see 
and advise with me, supposing I knew something of the 
circumstances. But I was wholly ignorant. Chase had not 
thought proper to consult me as to his resignation, nor had 
the President as to his action upon it, or the selection. My 
first impression was that he had consulted Seward and per- 
haps Blair. I learn, however, he advised with none of his 
Cabinet, but acted from his own impulses. I have doubts 
of Tod's ability for this position, though he has good com- 
mon sense and was trained in the right school, being a 
hard-money man. Not having seen the President since this 
movement took place, I do not comprehend his policy. It 
can hardly be his intention to reverse the action of Chase 
entirely without consulting those who are associated with 
him in the Government. And yet the selection of Tod indi- 
cates that, if there be any system in the movement. The 




SALMON P. CHASE 



1864] THE RESIGNATION OF CHASE 63 

President has given but little attention to finance and the 
currency, but yet he can hardly be ignorant of the fact 
that Chase and Tod are opposites. The selection of Tod is 
a move in the right direction if he has made the subject a 
sufficient study to wield the vast machine. On this point I 
have my doubts. His nomination will disturb the "Bub- 
bles," the paper-money men, and the question was 
not acted upon but referred to the Finance Committee, who 
have been with the Senate. I have no doubt their astonish- 
ment at the obtrusion of a hard-money man upon them was 
made manifest. 

Blair and Bates both called at my house this evening and 
gave me to understand they were as much taken by sur- 
prise as myself. Mr. Bates says he knows nothing of T. 
Blair expresses more apprehensions even than myself, who 
have my doubts. 

The retirement of Chase, so far as I hear opinions ex- 
pressed, and they are generally freely given, appears 
to give relief rather than otherwise, which surprises me. I 
had thought it might create a shock for a brief period, 
though I did not fear that it would be lasting. I look upon 
it as a blessing. The country could not go on a great while 
longer under his management, which has been one of expe- 
dients and of no fixed principles, or profound and correct 
financial knowledge. 

It is given out that a disagreement between himself and 
the President in relation to the appointment of Assistant 
Treasurer at New York was the cause of his leaving. I 
think likely that was the occasion of his tendering his re- 
signation, and I have little doubt he was greatly surprised 
that it was accepted. He may not admit this, but it is none 
the less true, I apprehend. Yet there were some circum- 
stances to favor his going, there is a financial gulf ahead. 



XXI 

Governor Tod declines the Treasury Portfolio and Senator Fessenden is 
appointed The Sinking of the Alabama Cabinet Discussion of the 
Cotton Trade The Trial of General Dix for suspending two N ew 
York Papers The Kearsarge and the Alabama Ignorance in the 
War Office as to the Confederate Invasion of Maryland The Con- 
federates near Washington Watching the Fighting from Fort 
Stevens Conversation with General Halleck Solicitor Whiting 
on Halleck's Incompetency The Attitude of the New York Evening 
Post towards the Navy Department after Agent Henderson's Removal 
The Mistakes in the Light-draft Monitors Thomas G. Welles 
goes to the Front Greeley's Futile Interference The Unofficial 
Peace Movements Blair speaks his Mind Talk with Solicitor 
Whiting on Reconstruction Secretary Fessenden advertises a New 
Loan Newspaper Attack on the Navy Department. 

July 1, Friday. This day is the anniversary of my birth. 
I am sixty-two years of age. Life is brief. Should I survive 
another year, I shall then have attained my grand climac- 
teric. Yet it is but the journey of a day, and of those who 
set out with me in the morning of life how few remain! 
Each year thins out the ranks of those who went with me 
to the old district school in my childhood. 

Governor Tod has declined the position of Secretary of 
the Treasury. It does not surprise me. Senator Fessenden 
has been appointed, who will, it is said, accept, which does 
surprise me. I doubt if his health will permit him to bear 
the burden. He has abilities; is of the same school as Chase. 
Has been Chairman of the Committee of Finance during 
Chase's administration of the Treasury, and, I have sup- 
posed, a supporter of his policy. Yet I have had an im- 
pression that Fessenden is an improvement upon Chase, 
and I trust he is. 

But the President's course is a riddle. Tod is a hard- 
money man; Fessenden has pressed through Congress the 
paper system of Chase. One day Tod is selected ; on his re- 



fusal, Fessenden is brought forward. This can in no other 
way be reconciled than in the President's want of know- 
ledge of the subject. His attention never has been given to 
the finances. He seems not aware that within twenty-four 
hours he has swung to opposite extremes. 

Seward can hardly have been consulted, for Fessenden 
has been his sharp and avowed opponent of late, and 
unless he has changed, or shall change, will prove a trouble- 
some man for him in the Cabinet. 

The President has great regard for Chase's abilities but 
is glad to be relieved of him, for C. has been a load of late, 
is a little disappointed and dissatisfied, has been cap- 
tious, and uncertain, favored the faultfinders, and, in a 
way, encouraged opposition to the President. 

July 2, Saturday. The last business day of the session, 
and many of the Members have gone home already. Much 
is done and omitted to be done during the last hours of 
Congress. Members do wrong in abandoning their post at 
these important periods, and no one who does it should be 
trusted. I am told by the members of our naval commit- 
tees that all naval matters are rightly done up in the two 
houses, but I discredit it. Some matters will be lost, and 
hurried legislation is always attended with errors. 

July 5, Tuesday. On the morning of Sunday the 3rd, 
went with Postmaster-General Blair and family and my 
own family, also Mr. Fox, Mr. Faxon, Dr. Horwitz, Com- 
mander Aulick on an excursion down the Potomac and Bay 
to the Capes, to Norfolk, and Fortress Monroe, returning 
to Washington this A.M. at five o'clock. National salutes 
were fired from the American, English, and French frigates 
and also from the Fortress at meridian on the 4th. The 
jaunt was very pleasant. 

Telegrams this A.M. inform us that the pirate Alabama 
was sunk on the 19th of June off Cherbourg by the steamer 
Kearsarge, Commodore Winslow, after a fight of one hour 
2 



66 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULYS 

and a half. Informed the President and Cabinet of the 
tidings, which was a matter of general congratulation and 
rejoicing. 

Mr. Fessenden appeared at Cabinet-meeting as the suc- 
cessor of Mr. Chase. Although the regular day of meeting, 
all were specially notified, and all promptly attended. The 
President appeared more constrained and formal than 
usual. When Mr. Stanton came in, he was accompanied by 
a clerk, whom he seated at the President's table. The sub- 
ject of trade and especially trade in cotton with the Rebels, 
was the subject of general interest which the President de- 
sired to lay before us. He appeared to have no fixed pur- 
pose in his own mind. Alluded to a Mr. Atkinson who had 
called on him. Said that Mr. A. had impressed him with 
some very striking facts. The most prominent was, that 
although the Rebels sold less cotton they received about 
as much for it in consequence of high price as when they 
had more of the article. The President thought it might be 
well to take measures to secure the cotton, but was opposed 
to letting the Rebels have gold. 

Seward was voluble but not clear and pointed. Fessen- 
den had seen Atkinson, had interview with him, thought 
him intelligent. On the subject of trade with the Rebels 
was not posted. Stanton made extended, and in the main 
sensible and correct, remarks, being wholly opposed to 
fighting and trading at the same time with the Rebels, 
ground which I have uniformly taken, but have not al- 
ways been supported. Blair made a few sensible remarks, 
as did Mr. Bates. Usher, thinking it apparently a duty to 
say something, talked without much point or force, on a 
subject he did not understand, nor to which he had given 
much attention. Mr. Bates made a legal suggestion. As 
Stanton had pretty clearly expressed my views, I did not 
care to multiply words farther than to say so, and to regret 
that a bill had passed the last moment of the session depriv- 
ing the Mississippi Squadron of prize. 

This was Hrmp T TmHp.rKt.nnfl. n.t. fVip insrf-.iora.'Hrm nf r^Vinaa 



1864] THE TRIAL OF GENERAL DIX 67 

who could not have been aware of the effect of what he 
urged. The incidental remarks of some of the gentlemen 
on the subject of trade, and especially of restrictions on 
gold, struck me as the wretched remnants of error which I 
hope will go out with Mr. Chase. I also trust we shall get 
rid of his trade regulations, trading agents, and other mis- 
chievous machinery. 

The subject of the arrest and trial of General Dix in New 
York for suspending the publication of the World and Jour- 
nal of Commerce was brought forward. There was a little 
squeamishness with some on the subject. The President 
very frankly avowed the act to be his, and he thought the 
government should protect Dix. Seward was positive and 
bold on that. 

I expressed no opinion, nor did Blair or Bates. While I 
regret that the papers should have been suppressed or 
meddled with, I would not, I think, permit a general officer 
to be arrested and tried by a State judge for obeying an 
order of the President. If there is a disposition to try the 
question before the United States tribunals, it would be 
well to permit it. This was my hasty conclusion. 

July 6, Wednesday. Admiral Porter called on me to-day 
direct from his command. Had a long interview on his 
affairs. 

Received dispatches to-day from Captain Winslow of 
the Kearsarge relative to sinking the Alabama. Wrote 
congratulatory letter. There is great rejoicing throughout 
the country over this success, which is universally and 
justly conceded a triumph over England as well as over the 
Rebels. In my first draft, I made a point or two, rather too 
strong perhaps, against England and the mercenary, pirat- 
ical spirit of Semmes, who had accumulated chronometers. 

While our people generally award me more credit than I 
deserve in this matter, a malevolent partisan spirit exhibits 
itself in some, which would find fault with me because this 
battle did not sooner take place. These assaults disturb me 



68 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 6 

less, perhaps, than they ought; they give me very little 
uneasiness because I know them to be groundless. Violent 
attacks have been made upon the Department and myself 
for the reason that our naval vessels were not efficient, had 
no speed; but in the account of the battle, the Kearsarge is 
said, by way of lessening the calamity, to have had greater 
steaming power than the Alabama, and to have controlled 
the movement. Our large smooth-bore guns, the Dahl- 
grens, have been ridiculed and denounced by the enemies 
of the Navy Department, but the swift destruction of the 
Alabama is now imputed to the great guns which tore her 
in pieces. 

A summer raid down the valley of the Shenandoah by the 
Rebels and the capture of Harper's Ferry are exciting mat- 
ters, and yet the War Department is disinclined to com- 
municate the facts. Of course, I will not ask. A few words 
from Stanton about " cursed mistakes of our generals," 
loss of stores that had been sent forward, bode disaster. 
General Sigel is beaten and not the man for the command 
given him, I apprehend. He is always overwhelmed and 
put on the run. It is represented that the Rebel army is in 
large force, 30,000 strong, under Ewell. We always have 
big scares from that quarter and sometimes pretty serious 
realities. I can hardly suppose Ewell there with such a 
command without the knowledge of Grant, and I should 
suppose we would hear of the movement of such a body 
from other sources. But the military authorities seem not 
to know of them. 

I have sometimes thought that Lee might make a sudden 
dash in the direction of Washington or above, and inflict 
great injury before our troops could interfere, or Grant 
move a column to protect the city. But likely Grant has 
thought and is prepared for this ; yet he displays little strat- 
egy or invention. 

July 7, Thursday. I am apprehensive of trouble in mak- 
ing future contracts. Old contractors have been attacked 



1864] A CONFEDERATE RAID 69 

and called to account, and will be shy. But the great damage 
is from the neglect or delay of the Treasury, which does not 
pay. Honest contracts are not fairly treated by the Treas- 
ury. Men are kept out of their money after due, wrong- 
fully. I had the material, and began the preparation, for a 
pretty strong statement to Mr. Chase at the time he re- 
signed. 

Very mischievous efforts are being made in some quar- 
ters to injure the President and assist Chase by reason of 
his going out. I know nothing of the particulars from either 
of them, but I feel a conviction that the country is bene- 
fited by Mr. Chase's retirement. His longer continuance 
in the Treasury would have been a calamity. It would have 
been better could he have left earlier. 

July 8, Friday. The War Department keeps very close 
as to matters at Harper's Ferry and vicinity. There is 
either little knowledge of what is doing, or a very great 
reluctance to communicate. Mr. Felton, President of the 
Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore R. R. sends me a 
letter by private hands, stating that while he was not 
alarmed, he desired a gunboat at Gunpowder Creek, etc., 
to protect railroad property. Sent Fox to inquire of Gen- 
eral Halleck as to the necessity. General H. thinks it un- 
necessary; but will advise us in season if wanted. Beyond 
this nothing is communicated. 

Stanton tells me that he has no idea the Rebels are in 
any force above, and should not give them a serious 
thought, but that Grant says he thinks they are in force, 
without, however, giving his reasons or any facts. The 
President has been a good deal incredulous about a very 
large army on the upper Potomac, yet he begins to mani- 
fest anxiety. But he is under constraint, I perceive, such as 
I know is sometimes imposed by the dunderheads at the 
War Office, when they are in a fog, or scare, and know not 
what to say or do. It is not natural or the way of the Pre- 
sident to withhold information, or speculation at such times, 



70 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULYS 

and I can always tell how things are with Halleck and 
Stanton when there are important movements going on. 
The President is now enjoined to silence, while Halleck is in 
a perfect maze, bewildered, without intelligent decision or 
self-reliance, and Stanton is wisely ignorant. I am inclined 
to believe, however, that at this time profound ignorance 
reigns at the War Department concerning the Rebel raid 
in the Shenandoah Valley; that they absolutely ;know 
nothing of it, its numbers, where it is, or its destination. 
It has to me appeared more mischievous than to others. I 
think we are in no way prepared for it, and a fierce onset 
could not well be resisted. It is doubtful, however, whether 
the onset will be made, for it is the nature of man to lose his 
opportunities. The true course of the Rebels is to strike at 
once at this point. 

July 9, Saturday. The Rebel invasion of Maryland, if 
not so large or formidable as last year and year before, looks 
to me very annoying, the more so because I learn no- 
thing satisfactory or reliable from the War Office, and am 
persuaded there is both neglect and ignorance there. It is 
evident there have not been sufficient preparations, but 
they are beginning to move. Yet they hardly have any ac- 
curate information. Stanton seems stupid, Halleck always 
does. I am not, I believe, an alarmist, and, as I have more 
than once said, I do not deem this raid formidable if rightly 
and promptly met, but it may, from inattention and 
neglect, become so. It is a scheme of Lee's strategy, but 
where is Grant's? 

The Blairs have left, strangely, it appears to me, at this 
time, on a fishing excursion among the mountain streams 
of interior Pennsylvania, and the ladies have hastily run 
off from Silver Spring to Cape May, leaving their premises 
at a critical moment. 

Our Alabama news comes in opportunely to encourage 
and sustain the nation's heart. It does them as well as me 
good to dwell upon the subject and the discomfiture of the 



1864] THE ENEMY NEAR WASHINGTON 71 

British and Rebels. The perfidy of the former is as infam- 
ous as the treason of the latter. Both were whipped by the 
Kearsarge, a Yankee ship with a Yankee commander and a 
Yankee crew. 

July 10, Sunday. When at the Department, Sunday 
morning, the 10th, examining my mail, one of the clerks 
came in and stated that the Rebel pickets were on the out- 
skirts of Georgetown, within the District lines. There had 
been no information to warn us of this near approach of 
the enemy, but my informant was so positive and soon 
confirmed by another that I sent to the War Depart- 
ment to ascertain the facts. They were ignorant had 
heard street rumors, but they were unworthy of notice 
and ridiculed my inquiry. 

Later I learned that young King, son of my neighbor 
Z. P. K., was captured by the Rebel pickets within the Dis- 
trict lines and is a prisoner. 

July 11, Monday. The Rebels are upon us. Having 
visited upper Maryland, they are turning their attention 
hitherward. General Wallace has been defeated, and it 
was yesterday current that General Tyler and Colonel 
Seward were prisoners, the latter wounded. But it seems 
only the last is true of the latter. 

There is now a call from the War Department for gun- 
boats at Havre de Grace, Gunpowder and Bush Rivers. 
Have ordered off three, but was afraid they would not ar- 
rive in season, for the call was not made and its necessity 
was scouted at Headquarters until the Rebels had cut the 
York and Baltimore Road. We have word by telegram this 
P.M. that the bridge over Gunpowder has been burned but 
a gunboat was on hand. Have no particulars. 

Tom G. Welles was this day appointed to the staff of 
General McCook. I regret his passion for the service and 
his recklessness and youth. 

The Rebel pickets appear in strength in front of Forts 



72 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JTJLTII 

Stevens and DeRussy on the borders and within the Dis- 
trict lines. Went to Stanton, but got from him nothing at 
all. He exhibits none of the alarm and fright I have seen in 
him on former occasions. It is evident he considers the 
force not large, or such that cannot be controlled, and yet 
he cannot tell their number nor where they are. 

I rode out this evening to Fort Stevens, latterly called 
Fort Massachusetts. Found General Wright and General 
McCook with what I am assured is an ample force for its 
defense. Passed and met as we returned three or four 
thousand, perhaps more, volunteers under General Meigs, 
going to the front. Could see the line of pickets of both 
armies in the valley, extending a mile or more. There was 
continual firing, without many casualties so far as I could 
observe, or hear. Two houses in the vicinity were in flames, 
set on fire by our own people, because they obstructed the 
range of our guns and gave shelter to Rebel sharpshooters. 
Other houses and buildings had also been destroyed. A 
pretty grove nearly opposite the fort was being cut down. 
War would not spare the tree, if the woodman had. 

I inquired where the Rebel force was, and the officers 
said over the hills, pointing in the direction of Silver Spring. 
Are they near Gunpowder or Baltimore? Where are they? 
Oh! within a short distance, a mile or two only. I asked 
why their whereabouts was not ascertained, and their 
strength known. The reply was that we had no fresh 
cavalry. 

The truth is the forts around Washington have been 
vacated and the troops sent to General Grant, who was 
promised reinforcements to take Richmond. But he has 
been in its vicinity more than a month, resting, apparently, 
after his bloody march, but has effected nothing since his 
arrival on the James, nor displayed any strategy, while Lee 
has sent a force threatening the National Capital, and we 
are without force for its defense. Citizens are volunteer- 
ing, and the employees in the navy yard are required to 
man the fortifications left destitute. Stanton and Halleck, 



1864] THE ENEMY NEAR WASHINGTON 73 

who scouted Fenton's application and bluffed my inquir- 
ies, are now the most alarmed men in Washington. 

I am sorry to see so little reliable intelligence. It strikes 
me that the whole demonstration is weak in numbers but 
strong in conception that the Rebels have but a small 
force. I am satisfied no attack is now to be apprehended on 
the city; the Rebels have lost a remarkable opportunity. 
But on our part there is neglect, ignorance, folly, imbe- 
cility, in the last degree. The Rebels are making a show of 
fight while they are stealing horses, cattle, etc., through 
Maryland. They might easily have captured Washington. 
Stanton, Halleck, and Grant are asleep or dumb. 

The waste of war is terrible; the waste from imbecility 
and mismanagement is more terrible and more trying than 
from the ravages of the soldiers. It is impossible for the coun- 
try to bear up under these monstrous errors and wrongs. 

July 12, Tuesday. The Rebels captured a train of cars 
on the Philadelphia and Baltimore Road, and have burnt 
the bridges over Gunpowder and Bush Rivers. It is said 
there were 1500 of these raiders. 

Governor Bradford's house, a short distance out of Bal- 
timore, was burnt by a small party. General demoraliza- 
tion seems to have taken place among the troops, and there 
is as little intelligence among them as at the War Office in 
regard to the Rebels. General Wallace and his force were 
defeated, and panic and folly have prevailed. 

Admiral Goldsborough and some of our naval officers 
tendered their services, if required. It seemed to me unnec- 
cessary, for I do not believe the Rebels have a large con- 
centrated force in this vicinity, or that they design to 
make an attack on the city, but for the Navy to hold back 
when all are being called out would appear bad. I there- 
fore requested Fox to see General Halleck, who much 
wanted aid, and Goldsborough and the men were therefore 
ordered and have gone to Fort Lincoln. It would be much 



74 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 12 

We have no mails, and the telegraph lines have been cut; 
so that we are without news or information from the outer 
world. 

Went to the President's at 12, being day of regular Cab- 
iriet-meeting. Messrs. Bates and Usher were there. The 
President was signing a batch of commissions. Fessenden 
is absent in New York. Blair informs me he had been early 
at the council chamber and the President told him no mat- 
ters were to be brought forward. The condition of affairs 
connected with the Rebels on the outskirts was discussed. 
The President said he and Seward had visited several of 
the fortifications. I asked where the Rebels were in force. 
He said he did not know with certainty, but he thought the 
main body at Silver Spring. 

I expressed a doubt whether there was any large force at 
any one point, but that they were in squads of from 500 to 
perhaps 1500 scattered along from the Gunpowder to the 
falls of the Potomac, who kept up an alarm on the outer 
rim while the marauders were driving off horses and cattle. 
The President did not respond farther than to again re- 
mark he thought there must be a pretty large force in the 
neighborhood of Silver Spring. 

I am sorry there should be so little accurate knowledge 
of the Rebels, sorry that at such a time there is not a full 
Cabinet, and especially sorry that the Secretary of War is 
not present. In the interviews which I have had with him, 
I can obtain no facts, no opinions. He seems dull and stu- 
pefied. Others tell me the same. 

It was said yesterday that the mansions of the Blairs 
were burned, but it is to-day contradicted. 

Rode out this P.M. to Fort Stevens. Went up to the 
summit of the road on the right of the fort. There were 
many collected. Looking out over the valley below, where 
the continual popping of the pickets was still going on, 
though less brisk than yesterday, I saw a line of our men 
lying close near the bottom of the valley. Senator Wade 
came up beside me. Our views corresponded that the 



ceeded tnem in numbers. We went together into tne tort, 
where we found the President, who was sitting in the shade, 
his back against the parapet towards the enemy. 

Generals Wright and McCook informed us they were 
about to open battery and shell the Rebel pickets, and 
after three discharges an assault was to be made by two 
regiments who were lying in wait in the valley. 

The firing from, the battery was accurate. The shells 
that were sent into a fine mansion occupied by the Rebel 
sharpshooters soon set it on fire. As the firing from the fort 
ceased, our men ran to the charge and the Rebels fled. We 
could see them running across the fields, seeking the woods 
on the brow of the opposite hills. It was an interesting and 
exciting spectacle. But below we could see here and there 
some of our own men bearing away their wounded com- 
rades. I should judge the distance to be something over 
three hundred yards. Occasionally a bullet from some long- 
range rifle passed above our heads. One man had been shot 
in the fort a few minutes before we entered. 

As we came out of the fort, four or five of the wounded 
men were carried by on stretchers. It was nearly dark as 
we left. Driving in, as was the case when driving out, we 
passed fields as well as roads full f soldiers, horses, teams, 
mules. Camp-fires lighted up the woods, which seemed to 
be more eagerly sought than the open fields. 

The day has been exceedingly warm, and the stragglers 
by the wayside were many. Some were doubtless sick, 
some were drunk, some weary and exhausted. Then men 
on horseback, on mules, in wagons as well as on foot, bat- 
teries of artillery, caissons, an innumerable throng. It was 
exciting and wild. Much of life and much of sadness. 
Strange that in this age and country there is this strife and 
struggle, under one of the most beneficent governments 
which ever blessed mankind and all in sight of the Cap- 
itol. 

In times gone by I had passed over these roads little 



76 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 12 

anticipating scenes like this, and a few years hence they 
will scarcely be believed to have occurred. 

July 13, Wednesday. It is no doubt true that the Rebels 
have left. I called on General Halleck on a matter of busi- 
ness, and while there, about 11, he had a telegram saying 
the Rebels passed through Rockville to the northwest 
about 3 this A.M. They are making, I remarked, for Ed- 
wards Ferfy and will get off with their plunder if we have 
no force there to prevent. He said it was by no means cer- 
tain they would cross at Edwards Ferry. We looked 
over the map together, and he, like myself, thought it prob- 
able they had taken that course. I remarked that they ap- 
peared not to have concentrated their force at any one 
place. Halleck asked by what authority I said that. There 
was harshness and spite in his tone. I coolly said by my 
own judgment and the observation of almost any one who 
had any intelligence on the subject. He said he did not 
think I had heard so from any military man who knew 
anything about it. I said no military man or any other had 
been able to tell me where they were concentrated to the 
amount of five thousand. Nor have I found any except 
Halleck, Hitchcock, and a few around the Department ex- 
press an opinion that there was a large number, or that 
they were concentrated. They were defiant and insolent, 
our men were resolute and brave, but the Bureau generals 
were alarmed and ignorant, and have made themselves and 
the Administration appear contemptible. 

The Rebels, before leaving, burnt the house of Judge 
Blair, Postmaster-General. This they claimed to have done 
in retaliation for the destruction of the house of Governor 
Letcher, a disgraceful act and a disgraceful precedent. 
I have no idea that General Hunter or any officer author- 
ized the burning of Letcher's house. It was doubtless done 
by some miscreants, hangers-on, stragglers, who ought to 
be punished. But men in authority appear to have had 
direction in burning Blair's house. 



1864] A NATIONAL DISGRACE 77 

July 14, Thursday. Communication is again opened 
with the North. It is evident there was never any force 
sufficient to have interrupted it, had there been ordinary 
ability and sagacity on the part of the military. The Chron- 
icle and the army papers are striving to make it appear 
there was a large Rebel force and that there had been seri- 
ous danger, that we have had a great deliverance. 

July 15, Friday. We had some talk at Cabinet-meeting 
to-day on the Rebel invasion. The President wants to be- 
lieve there was a large force, and yet evidently his private 
convictions are otherwise. But the military leaders, the 
War Office, have insisted there was a large force. We have 
done nothing, and it is more gratifying to our self -pride to 
believe there were many of them, especially as we are likely 
to let them off with considerable plunder scot-free. 

The National Intelligencer comments with a good deal of 
truth and ability on our national humiliation, as exempli- 
fied in this late affair. There is no getting away from the 
statements and facts presented. 

Seward and Stanton seem disturbed. There is something 
which does not suit them. Seward followed Stanton out, 
and had a talk in the anteroom. I met Solicitor Whiting 
as I left the White House, who was very anxious to talk. 
Deplored the miserable military management. Imputes 
the whole folly and scare to General Halleck. Says Stanton 
has disapproved his policy, but [that] the President clings 
to Halleck, who is damaging him and the Administration 
greatly; that Halleck and Blair are both injuring the Pre- 
sident. "Why," said I, "you do not mean to identify Blair 
with this pitiful business." "Oh no," said he, "but Blair is 
so perverse on the slavery question that he is getting all the 
radical element of the country against the Administra- 
tion." As I did not care to enter into controversy on that 
topic, and it was late, I left him. But the conversation 
indicates that Stanton intends to throw off responsibility 
on to Halleck. 



78 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY is 

Grant and the Army of the Potomac are reposing in im- 
mense force near Richmond. Our troops have been sent 
from here and drawn from all quarters to reinforce the 
great army, which has suffered immense losses in its march, 
without accomplishing any thing except to reach the ground 
from which McClellan was withdrawn. While daily rein- 
forced, Grant could push on to a given point, but he seems 
destitute of strategy or skill, while Lee exhibits tact. This 
raid, which might have taken Washington and which has 
for several days cut off our communications with the 
North, was devised by Lee while beleaguered at Richmond, 
and, though failing to do as much as might have been ac- 
complished, has effected a good deal. 

The deportment of Stanton has been wholly different 
during this raid from any former one. He has been quiet, 
subdued, and apparently oppressed with some matter that 
gave him disquiet. On former occasions he has been active, 
earnest, violent, alarmed, apprehensive of danger from 
every quarter. It may be that he and Halleck have dis- 
agreed. Neither of them has done himself credit at this 
time. 

The arrest of Henderson, Navy Agent, and his removal 
from office have seriously disturbed the editors of the Even- 
ing Post, who seem to make his cause their own. This sub- 
ject coming up to-day, I told the President of the conduct 
of his District Attorney, Delafield Smith, who, when the 
case was laid before him by Mr. Wilson, attorney for the 
Department, remarked that it was not worth while to 
prosecute, that the same thing was done by others, at 
Washington as well as New York, and no notice was taken 
of it. Wilson asked him if he, the prosecuting law officer of 
the Government, meant to be understood as saying it was 
not worth while to notice embezzlement, etc. I related 
this to the President, who thereupon brought out a cor- 
respondence that had taken place between himself and 
W. C. Bryant. The latter averred that H. was innocent, 
and denounced Savage, the principal witness against him, 



1864] ATTITUDE OF THE EVENING POST 79 

because arrested and under bonds. To this the President 
replied that the character of Savage before his arrest was 
as good as Henderson's before he was arrested. He stated 
that he knew nothing of H.'s alleged malfeasance until 
brought to his notice by me, in a letter, already written, 
for his removal; that he inquired of me if I was satisfied he 
was guilty; that I said I was; and that he then directed, or 
said to me, "Go ahead, let him be removed." 

These are substantially the facts. I said to him that the 
attorneys who had investigated the subject expressed a full 
conviction of his guilt; that I had come to the same con- 
clusion, and did not see how a prosecution and summary 
proceedings could be avoided. 

The Evening Post manifests a belligerent spirit, and ev- 
idently intends to make war upon the Navy Department 
because I will not connive at the malfeasance of its pub- 
lisher. In a cautious and timid manner they have sup- 
ported the policy of the Navy Department hitherto, though 
fearful of being taunted for so doing. Because their pub- 
lisher was Navy Agent they have done this gently. But 
they now, since Henderson's arrest and trial, assail the 
monitors and the monitor system, which they have hither- 
to supported, and insidiously and unfairly misrepresent 
them and the Department. 

I am surprised at the want of judgment manifested in 
hastening to make this assault. It would have been more 
politic, certainly, to have delayed, for the motive which 
leads them to make this abrupt turn cannot be misunder- 
stood. They know it is painful for me to prosecute one of 
their firm, that it pains me to believe him guilty, but that 
when the facts are presented, they should know me well 
enough to be aware that I would not cover or conceal the 
rascality even to oblige them. I claim no merit, but I 
deserve no censure for this plain and straightforward dis- 
charge of my duty. 

I hear it said to-day that there has been disagreement 



1 j. C(J J_ J /"I J_. J.1 



80 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 15 

General Hinks to Point Lookout and Stanton counter- 
manded the order for General Barnes. 

July 16, Saturday. Mr. Faxon, Chief Clerk, is ill and 
leaves for New York in the Tacoma. Shall greatly miss 
him. No one can fill his place. Thomas G. Welles is with 
his general, McCook, relieved from duty at Fort Stevens. 
I observe and have for some time past that the Gazette at 
Cincinnati, a paper in the interest of Mr. Chase, has been 
violent and reckless in its assaults on the Navy Depart- 
ment. With some smattering information of matters gen- 
erally, there is much palpable ignorance in regard to our 
monitors, ordnance, etc. 

July 18, Monday. I yesterday went with my sons and 
Dr. Horwitz to Silver Spring, passing over the ground 
of the late fight. The chimneys of the burnt houses, the 
still barricaded road, the trampled fields, and other evid- 
ences bear testimony to what had occurred. The Blairs 
were absent from Silver Spring, but we turned down the 
lane which leads to it and went to the walls of Montgomery 
Blair's house, situated pleasantly on a little wooded em- 
inence. But all was silent. Waste and war. Judge B. tells 
me the house and furniture cost him just about $20,000. 
The Rebels have done him this injury, and yet some whom 
they have never personally harmed denounce him as not 
earnest in the cause, as favoring the Rebels and their views. 
We went through the grounds to the mansion of the elder 
Mr. Blair. The place was less injured than I had supposed, 
and there must have been extra pains taken for the preserv- 
ation of the shrubbery and the growing crops. Fields of 
the best corn I have seen this year were untouched. What 
depredation or plunder had been committed in the house 
I could not tell, for it was closed. My son, who led our 
pickets, was the first to enter it after the Rebels left. He 
found some papers scattered over the floor, which he gath- 
ered up. There had been crowds of persons there filling 



1864] THE MISTAKES IN THE MONITORS 81 

the house, sleeping on the floors, prying into the family 
privacy, but not more rudely, perhaps, than our own sol- 
diers would have done, had the place been in their power. 

July 19, Tuesday. At the Cabinet-meeting to-day, the 
President brought forward specially the riot in Coles 
County, Illinois, and the controversy between Governor 
Pierpont and General Butler, with especial reference in the 
latter case to affairs at Norfolk, where the military authori- 
ties have submitted a vote to the inhabitants whether they 
will be governed by martial law. Of course the friends of 
civil administration, who denied the validity of the whole 
proceeding, would not vote, and the military had it all as 
they pleased. This exhibition of popular sovereignty de- 
stroying itself pleases Butler. He claims to have found 
large quantities of whiskey, which he seized and sold. But 
all the whiskey in Norfolk is there under permits issued 
by himself. While Butler has talents and capacity, he is 
not to be trusted. The more I see of him, the greater is my 
distrust of his integrity. All whiskey carried to Norfolk is 
in violation of the blockade. 

Mr. Ericsson and the newspapers are discussing the 
monitors. He is honest and intelligent, though too enthu- 
siastic, and claiming too much for his invention, but the 
newspapers are dishonest and ignorant in their statements, 
and their whole purpose is to assail the Department. But 
the system will vindicate itself. There have been errors and 
mistakes in the light-class monitors. I trusted too much 
to Fox and Stimers, and am therefore not blameless. But I 
was deceived* without its being intended perhaps, suppos- 
ing that Ericsson and Lenthall had a supervision of them 
until considerable progress had been made towards their 
completion. I confided in Fox, who was giving these ves- 
sels special attention, and he confided in Stimers without 
my being aware that he was giving him the exclusive man- 
agement of them. Fox and Lenthall were daily together, 
and I had not a doubt that much of the consultation was 



82 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 19 

in regard to them, until, becoming concerned from what I 
heard, I questioned Lenthall direct, when he disclaimed all 
responsibility and almost all knowledge of them. I then 
inquired clearly and earnestly of Fox, who placed the 
whole blame on Stimers. The latter, I heard, had quar- 
relled with Ericsson and had been carrying forward the 
construction of these vessels, reporting and consulting 
with no one but Fox and Admiral Gregory. 

July 20, Wednesday. My son, Thomas G. Welles, left 
to-day for the Army of the Potomac, having received 
orders from the War Department to report to General 
Grant. To part with him has been painful to me beyond 
what I can describe. Were he older and with more settled 
principles and habits, some of the anxieties which oppress 
me would be relieved. But he is yet a mere youth and has 
gone to the camp with boyish pride and enthusiasm, and 
will be in danger of being misled when beyond a parent's 
control. He is just eighteen and goes alone on his mission. 
I have tried to dissuade him so far as I could with pro- 
priety, but there was a point beyond which I could not 
well go. In the condition of the country and when others 
were periling their lives and the lives of their children, how 
could I refrain, and resist the earnest appeals of my son, 
whose heart was set upon going? To have positively pro- 
hibited him would have led to bad results, and perhaps not 
have accomplished the end desired. Yet it has been hard 
to part with him, and as he left me, I felt that it was uncer- 
tain whether we should ever meet again, and if we do he 
may be mutilated, and a ruined man. I have attended 
closely to my duties, but am sad, and unfit for any labor. 

July 21, Thursday. Edgar and John left this morning 
for Connecticut. 

Wrote a letter to Attorney-General Bates, transmitting 
copy of the report of Mr. Wilson inculpating Attorney 
Delafield Smith, of New York in the management of the 



1864] GREELEY'S FUTILE INTERFERENCE 83 

prosecution of the Navy Agent for embezzlement, suggest- 
ing that it be laid before the President for such action as 
he may order. I have already mentioned the course of 
Smith to him. I am apprehensive that Smith himself may 
be liable to be called to account for malconduct in other re- 
spects. But he is a pet of Seward, who sometimes closes his 
eyes to the obliquities of his friends. 

It will not surprise me if Seward, Weed, and Smith make 
friends with Henderson and the Evening Post concern, with 
whom they have hitherto quarrelled, and try to screen or 
exculpate Henderson. In so doing a common war will be 
made on me. The Post has broken ground already in a re- 
mote way but sufficient to indicate malice and revenge, and 
their determination to defend Henderson's guilt. 

July 22, Friday. At the Cabinet-meeting the President 
read his correspondence with Horace Greeley on the sub- 
ject of peace propositions from George Saunders and others 
at Niagara Falls. The President has acquitted himself very 
well, if he was to engage in the matter at all, but I 
am sorry that he permits himself, in this irregular way, to 
be induced to engage in correspondence with irresponsible 
parties like Saunders and Clay or scheming busybodies 
like Greeley. There is no doubt that the President and the 
whole Administration are misrepresented and misunder- 
stood on the subject of peace, and Greeley is one of those 
who has done and is doing great harm and injustice in this 
matter. In this instance he was evidently anxious to thrust 
himself forward as an actor, and yet when once engaged he 
began to be alarmed; he failed to honestly and frankly 
communicate the President's first letters, as was his duty, 
but sent a letter of his own, which was not true and correct, 
and found himself involved in the meshes of his own frail 
net. 

Colonel Jaquess is another specimen of inconsiderate 
and unwise, meddlesome interference. The President as- 
sented to his measure and gave him a card, or passport, to 



84 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 22 

go beyond our lines. There is no doubt that the Colonel 
was sincere, but he found himself unequal to the task he had 
undertaken. Instead of persuading Jeff Davis to change 
his course, Davis succeeded in persuading poor Jaquess 
that the true course to be pursued was to let Davis & Co. 
do as they pleased. The result was that Jaquess and his 
friend Gilmore (alias Kirke), who went to Richmond to 
shear, came back shorn. 

In these peace movements, the President has pursued 
his usual singular course. Seward was his only confidant 
and adviser, as usual in matters of the greatest importance. 
He says that Mr. Fessenden accidentally came in on other 
business while he was showing Seward the Greeley corre- 
spondence; and he was let into a knowledge of what was 
going on, but no one else. John Hay was subsequently 
told, before going off, and now, to-day, the Cabinet are 
made acquainted with what has been done. The President, 
instead of holding himself open to receive propositions, has 
imposed conditions and restrictions that will embarrass 
the parties. 

July 25, Monday. There has been a little ferment in 
military circles, as newspaper correspondents write. Blair 
told me a few days since that Cutts came on his steps to 
sympathize and express his regret that the vandals should 
have burnt his (Blair's) house. Blair said that nothing 
better could be expected while poltroons and cowards had 
the management of military affairs. Cutts left abruptly. 
I now hear it stated that General Halleck reported the re- 
mark to Stanton, and Stanton forwarded Halleck's letter 
to the President, who remarked that men would speak 
their minds freely in this country. I have no idea that 
either Halleck or Stanton will press the subject farther. 
It would please Blair, I think, if they would. 

Mr. Solicitor Whiting spent an hour at my house last 
evening. The principal topic of discussion was that of Re- 
construction. He maintains that the States which have 



1864] RECONSTRUCTION DISCUSSED 85 

seceded have no rights, that they cannot resume position 
in the Union without consent, and the formation of a new 
constitution in each which excludes slavery. I denied the 
right of Congress to impose that condition on a State, like 
North Carolina for instance, and insisted that the States 
must be equal in political rights, that if Massachusetts 
or any of the old States reserved and retained that power, 
it belonged as well to North Carolina. An amendment of 
the Constitution would be necessary abolishing slavery in 
all. Without meeting that point, he expressed a disbelief 
in the reserved right of Massachusetts on that subject. He 
denied that a majority, or the whole people, of North Caro- 
lina could establish or reestablish a government and con- 
tinue to be or to become a member of the Union after hav- 
ing been in rebellion, except by consent or permission. 
"Then," said I, "you recognize the right and the fact of 
secession." This he was unwilling to admit, but dwelt on 
international law, belligerent attitudes, and matters out- 
side of the Constitution to punish States inside. I asked 
what he would do with loyal citizens in Rebel States, 
those who had never borne arms or done any act to forfeit 
their allegiance, men like John Minor Botts or Andrew 
Johnson, for instance. He maintained that being in States 
that rebelled they were to be treated like the Rebels. 

Solicitor Whiting is self -sufficient but superficial, with 
many words, some reading, but no very sound or well- 
founded political views. Yet he considers himself a pater 
conscriptus, a teacher learned in the law and wise on the 
subject of government. Seward consults him, and Stanton 
uses him. He writes letters and opinions to order, gets up 
pamphlets; is serving without pay, and is careful to tell 
that fact. One of these years, sooner or later, let no one be 
surprised to find all his services fully compensated. Men 
who profess to serve the government gratuitously are 
usually better paid than others. 

Met General Emory at Blair's. Has just come in from 
pursuit of the raiders, without overtaking them. Had quite 



86 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 25 

a talk concerning matters on the Red River and our dis- 
aster there. He gives an interesting detail. Tells the old 
story of a multitude of fussy men who accompanied Banks 
with little carpet-bags filled with greenbacks, etc. 

Donald McKay publishes a letter defending the Navy 
Department from newspaper attacks on the subject of the 
monitors. It is very well done and unexpected. The Even- 
ing Post publishes it, and so does the Times copy it, but 
not yet the Tribune. 

Blair is sore and vexed because the President frequently 
makes a confidant and adviser of Seward, without consult- 
ing the rest of the Cabinet. I told him this had been the 
course from the beginning; Seward and Chase had each 
striven for the position of Special Executive Counsel; that 
it had apparently been divided between them, but Seward 
had outgeneraled or outintrigued Chase. The latter was 
often consulted when others were not, but often he was not 
aware of things which were intrusted to Seward (who was 
superserviceable) and managed by him. 

July 26, Tuesday. Fessenden has got out an advertise- 
ment for a new loan and an address to the people in its be- 
half. Am not certain that the latter is judicious. Capital- 
ists will not as a general thing loan or invest for patriotism, 
but for good returns. The advertisement gives high inter- 
est, but accompanied by the appeal will excite doubt, rather 
than inspire confidence among the money-lenders. I am 
inclined to think he will get funds, for his plan is sensible 
and much wiser than anything of his predecessor. The idea 
with Chase seemed to be to pay low interest in money but 
high prices in irredeemable paper, a scheme that might 
have temporary success in getting friends and popularity 
with speculators but is ruinous to the country. The errors 
of Chase in this respect Mr. Fessenden seems inclined to 
correct, but other measures are wanted and I trust we shall 
have them. 

Only Bates, Usher, and myself were at the Cabinet to- 



1864] ATTACK ON THE NAVY DEPARTMENT 87 

day. Stanton sent over, to inquire if his attendance was 
necessary. 

There are rumors that the retreating Rebels have turned 
upon our troops in the valley, and that our forces, badly 
weakened by the withdrawal of the Sixth Army Corps, are 
retreating towards Harper's Ferry. This is not improbable. 
They may have been strengthened as our forces were weak- 
ened. 

Rode out this evening, accompanied by Mrs. Welles, 
and spent an hour with the President and Mrs. Lincoln at 
the Soldiers' Home. 

The papers contain a letter from Governor Letcher stat- 
ing that General Hunter gave the order for burning his 
(L.'s) house. I shall wish to hear from H. before believing 
that he could give such an order, and yet I confess I am not 
without apprehensions, for Hunter is not always possessed 
of so much prudence as one should have who holds so re- 
sponsible a position. The burning of the Institute at the 
same place and time was not creditable to the army, and if 
there is any justification or ameliorating circumstances, 
they should be made to appear. The crude and indefensi- 
ble notions of some of our people, however, are not general. 
Indiscriminate warfare on all in the insurrectionary region 
is not general, and few would destroy private property 
wantonly. 

The New York papers are engaged in a covert and sys- 
tematic attack on the Navy Department, covert so far 
as the Republican or Administration press is concerned. 
Greeley of the Tribune is secretly hostile to the President 
and assails him indirectly in this way; so of the Evening 
Post, a paper hitherto friendly but whose publisher is under 
bail for embezzlement and fraud which the Navy Depart- 
ment would not conceal. The Times is a profligate Seward 
and Weed organ, wholly unreliable and in these matters 
regardless of truth or principle. It supports the President 
because it is the present policy of Seward. The principal 
editor, Raymond, is an unscrupulous soldier of fortune, yet 



88 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 26 

recently appointed Chairman of the Republican National 
Executive Committee. He and some of his colleague's are 
not to be trusted, yet these political vagabonds are the 
managers of the party organization. His paper, as well as 
others, are in a combination with Norman Wiard and pre- 
tenders like him against the monitors. Let the poor devils 
work at that question. The people will not be duped or 
misled to any great extent by them. 

There are demonstrations for a new raid into Maryland 
and Pennsylvania. I told the President I trusted there 
would be some energy and decision in getting behind them, 
cutting them off, and not permitting them to go back, in- 
stead of a scare and getting forces to drive them back with 
their plunder. He said those were precisely his views and 
he had just been to see and say as much to Halleck. I in- 
quired how H. responded to the suggestion. The President 
said he was considering it, and was now wanting to ascer- 
tain where they had crossed the Potomac and the direction 
they had taken. 

I apprehend it is not a large force, but a cavalry raid, 
which will move rapidly and create alarm. Likely they will 
go into the Cumberland Valley and then west, for they will 
scarcely take the old route to return. But these are crude 
speculations of mine. I get nothing from Halleck, and I 
doubt if he has any plan, purpose, or suggestion. Before he 
will come to a conclusion the raiders will have passed be- 
yond his reach. 



XXII 

The Fiasco at Petersburg Welles's Lack of Confidence in Grant At- 
torney-General Bates's Opinion of the Cabinet and of General Halleck 

Assault of Wade and Winter Davis upon the President for omitting 
to sign a Reconstruction Bill Sheridan supersedes Hunter on the 
Upper Potomac Party Assessments in the Brooklyn Navy Yard 
Publication of the Niagara Peace Proceedings Farragut passes Forts 
Morgan and Gaines Count Gurowski and his Published Diary 
The New York Press Depredations by the Tallahassee Outburst 
of Seward in the Cabinet Unsuccessful Peace Proposals at Richmond 

The President's Opinion of Greeley How Farragut was discovered 

Du Font's Intriguing The Character of Chase Politics in the 
Brooklyn Navy Yard Pressure from Massachusetts in Behalf of the 
Smith Brothers Proposed Movement against Wilmington, N. C. 
The Navy benefited by the Army Draft McClellan nominated for 
President by the Democratic Convention. 

August 1, Monday. We yesterday had word that our 
forces had mined and blown up a fortification in front of 
Petersburg. All sorts of stories were current, some of them 
absurdly wild and ridiculous. Petersburg was said to be 
in flames. Our army were reported to have undermined a 
large portion of the city. Men of sense gave credit to the 
absurdity. I went over to the War Department, and Stan- 
ton showed me a telegram from Grant, stating the mine 
had been sprung, but the result is inconclusive, and evid- 
ently, I think, a disappointment. Stanton seemed uncer- 
tain and confused. 

Exciting and silly stories prevailed about the raid into 
Pennsylvania. Street rumors put the Rebels at 40,000, 
and the press states that number, but reports are contra- 
dictory. Am still of the opinion that the force is small and 
the scare great. Governor Curtin and all Harrisburg are 
doubtless in a ferment. Was told the bells in Harrisburg 
were all ringing an alarm. I asked if it included the dinner- 
bell of Governor Curtin, for he would be frantic to stir up 
the ueoDle. and never disbelieved the largest fib that was 



90 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. i 

Had a letter from Tom this A.M., dated at Headquarters 
of the 18th Army Corps, at midnight of the 29th, stating 
an assault was to be made in the morning. Could not give 
details. There would be a sharp conflict, and he would do 
his duty. Bidding good-bye and sending love to all. This 
evening we hear from him after the fight, that he was well 
but tired and exhausted. 

The President went yesterday to Fortress Monroe to 
meet General Grant, by prior arrangement, which made 
me distrust final operations at Petersburg, for if such were 
the fact, he could not well be absent. The President tells 
me the movement was well planned and well executed up 
to the closing struggle, when our men failed to do their 
duty. There must, I apprehend, have been fault in the 
officers also, not Grant, who originates nothing, is dull 
and heavy, but persistent. 

August 2, Tuesday. Judge Thomas and Mr. Train, coun- 
sel for Smith Brothers of Boston, had an interview of nearly 
two hours with me on Saturday, wishing the trial postponed, 
a different court, and that the trial should take place in 
Boston. They called and were with me half an hour yes- 
terday. Finally arranged that the trial should be post- 
poned four weeks, until Tuesday the 30th, although their 
friends had urged a speedy trial, but declined other 
changes. Two hours later the President sent for me and 
also for Mr. Fox. On going to the Executive Mansion, I 
found Messrs. Thomas and Train with the President, 
where they had gone over the whole subject that they had 
previously discussed with me. The President heard them 
kindly and then said he could not act without consulting 
me. I remarked that I had given the subject a hearing and 
examination, and supposed it was disposed of. The Pre- 
sident said he could not interfere, but should be glad if it 
could be arranged so as to give them time and also a trial 
at Boston. 

I wrote a letter to Pickering, Winsiow & Co., who, with 



1864] THE FIASCO AT PETERSBURG 91 

certain Bostonians, wish to do something to assist the 
blockade. They hardly know what or how. 

At the Cabinet, Messrs. Blair, Bates, and myself were 
present. Fessenden and Usher are absent. Seward and 
Stanton had been there in advance. There is design in all 
this. Went over proceedings of the armies at Atlanta and 
Petersburg. Stanton dislikes to meet Blair in council, 
knowing that B. dislikes and distrusts him. Seward and 
Stanton move together in all matters, yet Seward fears a 
quarrel with Blair, and he tries to keep in with him and at 
the same time preserve his intimacy with Stanton. Both 
mouse about the President, who, in his intense interest and 
inquisitiveness, spends much of his time at the War De- 
partment, watching the telegraph. Of course, opportunities 
like these are not lost by Stanton, and, General lialleck 
being placed here indorsed by General Scott as the mil- 
itary adviser of the President, he has equal or greater ad- 
vantages to play the sycophant, and does so. 

The explosion and assault at Petersburg on Saturday 
last appears to have been badly managed. The results were 
bad and the effect has been disheartening in the extreme. 
There must have been some defect or weakness on the 
part of some one or more. I have been waiting to get the 
facts, but do not yet get them to my satisfaction. It is 
stated in some of the letters written that lots were cast as 
to which corps and which officers should lead in the assault. 
I fear there may be truth in the report, but if so, and Grant 
was in it or cognizant of it, my confidence in him never 
very great would be impaired. I should not be sur- 
prised to learn that Meade committed such an act, for I do 
not consider him adequate to his high position, and yet I 
may do him injustice. My personal acquaintance with him 
is slight, but he has in no way impressed me as a man of 
breadth and strength or capabilities, and instead of select- 
ing and designating the officer for such a duty, it would be 
hi accordance with my conceptions of him to say, Let any 
one, Cast lots, etc., but I shall be reluctant to believe this 



92 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 2 

of Grant, who is reticent and, I fear, less able than he is 
credited. He may have given the matter over to Meade, 
who has done this. Admiral Porter has always said there 
was something wanting in Grant, which Sherman could 
always supply, and vice versa, as regards Sherman, but that 
the two together made a very perfect general officer and 
they ought never to be separated. If Grant is confiding in 
Meade, relying on him, as he did on Sherman, Grant 
will make a failure, I fear, for Meade is not Sherman, nor 
the equal of Sherman. Grant relies on others, but does not 
know men, can't discriminate. I feel quite unhappy 
over this Petersburg matter, less, however, from the 
result, bad as it is, than from an awakening apprehension 
that Grant is not equal to the position assigned him. God 
grant that I may be mistaken, for the slaughtered thou- 
sands of my countrymen who have poured out their rich 
blood for three months on the soil of Virginia from the 
Wilderness to Petersburg under his generalship can never 
be atoned in this world or the next if he without Sherman 
prove a failure. A blight and sadness comes over me like a 
dark shadow when I dwell on the subject, a melancholy 
feeling of the past, a foreboding of the future. A nation's 
destiny almost has been committed to this man, and if it is 
an improper committal, where are we ? 

The consequence of the Petersburg failure, and the late 
successful raid of the Rebels, will embolden them to our 
injury. They will take courage, keep fewer troops to man 
their batteries at Richmond, and send more to harass our 
frontiers, perhaps to strengthen Hood in opposing Thomas 
and Sherman. 

In the mean time, where is Halleck and what is he doing? 
I hear nothing of him, do not see him. The President goes 
to advise with him, but I do not think he is ever wiser or 
better for these interviews. 

Seward and Stanton make themselves the special confid- 
ants of the President, and they also consult with Halleck, 
so that the country is in a great degree in the hands of this 



1864] BATES ON THE CABINET 93 

triumvirate, who, while they have little confidence in each 
other, can yet combine to control or influence the President, 
who is honest. 

Attorney-General Bates, who spent last evening with 
me, opened his heart freely as regards the Cabinet. Of 
Blair he thought pretty well, but said he felt no intimacy 
with, or really friendly feelings for, any one but me; that I 
had his confidence and respect, and had from our first 
meeting. Mr. Seward had been constantly sinking in his 
estimation; that he had much cunning but little wisdom, 
was no lawyer and no statesman. Chase, he assures me, is 
not well versed in law principles even, is not sound nor 
of good judgment. General Halleck he had deliberately 
charged with intentional falsehood and put it in writing, 
that there should be no mistake or claim to have misappre- 
hended him. He regretted that the President should have 
such a fellow near him. 

August 4, Thursday. This day is set apart for fasting, 
humiliation, and prayer. There is much wretchedness and 
great humiliation in the land, and need of earnest prayer. 

General Hooker has arrived from Atlanta, having left in 
a pet because General Howard was given McPherson's 
position. He is vain, has some good and fighting qualities 
and thinks highly and too much of himself. t 

August 5, Friday. Only four of us with the President to- 
day. Mr. Fessenden has gone to Maine. Seward and Stan- 
ton were absent when the rest were there. 

I was with the President on Wednesday when Governor 
Morgan was there, and the President produced the corre- 
spondence that had passed between himself and Chase at 
the time C. resigned. It was throughout characteristic. I 
do not think the event was wholly unexpected to either, 
and yet both were a little surprised. The President fully 
understands Chase and had made up his mind that he 
would not be again overridden in his own appointments. 



94 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 5 

Chase, a good deal ambitious and somewhat presuming, 
felt he must enforce his determinations, which he had al- 
ways successfully carried out. In coming to the conclusion 
that a separation must take place, the President was 
prompted by some, and sustained by all, his Cabinet with- 
out an exception. Chase's retirement has offended no- 
body, and has gratified almost everybody. 

I told Blair as we left the Executive Mansion to-day that 
I felt depressed in consequence of the result at Petersburg, 
beyond what I ought from the fight itself, in consequence 
of impaired confidence in Grant. He tried to encourage me 
and partially succeeded. I do not distrust or depreciate 
General G. ; but, if he has ability, I think he needs a better 
second in command, a more competent executive officer 
than General Meade, and he should have known that fact 
earlier. The knowledge of the worth of our generals is often 
purchased at too great a cost of blood and treasure. It is 
dear tuition. 

August 6, Saturday. I had a telegram from Tom this 
morning, stating that Colonel Stedman was mortally 
wounded and would probably not survive the night, that 
General Ord desired his promotion without delay, that it 
might be received before his death, and wishing me to call 
at once on the President. I did so, who responded readily 
to the recommendation, and I then, at his request, saw 
Secretary Stanton, who met me in the right spirit. 

While at the President's Blair came in, and the President 
informed us he had a telegram from Greeley, desiring the 
publication of the whole peace correspondence. Both Blair 
and myself advised it, but the President said he had tele- 
graphed Greeley to come on, for he desired him to erase 
some of the lamentations in his longest letter. I told him 
while I regretted it was there, the whole had better be pub- 
lished. Blair said it would have to come to that ultimately. 
But the President thought it better that that, nart should 



1864] AN ASSAULT ON THE PRESIDENT 95 

I remarked that I had seen the Wade and Winter 
Davis protest. He said, Well, let them wriggle, but it was 
strange that Greeley, whom they made their organ in pub- 
lishing the protest, approved his course and therein dif- 
fered from the protestants. The protest is violent and 
abusive of the President, who is denounced with malignity 
for what I deem the prudent and wise omission to sign a 
law prescribing how and in what way the Union shall be 
reconstructed. There are many offensive features in the 
law, which is, in itself, a usurpation and abuse of authority. 
How or in what way or ways the several States are to put 
themselves right retrieve their position is in the fu- 
ture and cannot well be specified. There must be latitude 
given, and not a stiff and too stringent policy pursued in 
this respect by either the Executive or Congress. We have 
a Constitution, and there is still something in popular gov- 
ernment. 

In getting up this law it was as much an object of Mr. 
Winter Davis and some others to pull down the Adminis- 
tration as to reconstruct the Union. I think they had the 
former more directly in view than the latter. Davis's con- 
duct is not surprising, but I should not have expected that 
Wade, who has a good deal of patriotic feeling, common 
sense, and a strong, though coarse and vulgar, mind, would 
have lent himself to such a despicable assault on the Pre- 
sident. 

There is, however, an infinity of party and personal in- 
trigue just at this time. A Presidential election is approach- 
ing, and there are many aspirants, not only for Presidential 
but other honors or positions. H. Winter Davis has a good 
deal of talent but is rash and uncertain. There is scarcely 
a more ambitious man, and no one that cannot be more 
safely trusted. He is impulsive and mad and has been acute 
and contriving in this whole measure and has drawn Wade, 
who is ardent, and others into it. Sumner, I perceived, was 
bitten before he left Washington. Whether he has improved 
I am not informed. Sumner is not a constitutionalist, but 



96 DIARY OF "GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 6 

more of a centralist than the generality of our people, and 
would be likely to sanction what seem to me some of the 
more offensive features of this bill. Consolidating makes it 
more a government of the people than of the States. 

The assaults of these men on the Administration may 
break it down. They are, in their earnest zeal on the part 
of some, and ambition and malignity on the part of others, 
doing an injury that they cannot repair. I do not think 
Winter Davis is troubled in that respect, or like to be, but 
I cannot believe otherwise of Wade and others; yet the 
conduct of Wade for some time past, commencing with the 
organization of the present Congress in December last, has, 
after the amnesty proclamation and conciliatory policy of 
reconstruction, been in some respects strange and difficult 
to be accounted for, except as an aspiring factionist. I am 
inclined to believe that he has been bitten with the Pre- 
sidential fever, is disappointed, and, in his disappointment, 
with a vague, indefinite hope that he may be successful, 
prompted and stimulated not only by Davis but Colfax, 
he has been flattered to do a foolish act. 

August 8, Monday. Going into the War Department 
yesterday morning to inquire if any tidings had been re- 
ceived concerning Colonel Stedman of the llth Connecti- 
cut Infantry, who was wounded, probably mortally, on 
Friday, I found the President with General Grant, Stan- 
ton, and General Halleck in the Secretary's room. I pro- 
posed leaving on making the single inquiry, provided they 
were in secret council, but the President and General Grant 
declared they were not, for me. Learning that poor Sted- 
man was dead, and that some little intelligence had been 
received from Mobile, I soon left, for there was, it appeared 
to me, a little stiffness as if I had interrupted proceedings. 
General Grant has been to Frederick and placed Sheridan 
in command of the forces on the upper Potomac instead of 
Hunter, which is a good change, for H., though violently 
earnest, is not exactly the man for that command. I think 



1864] POLITICS IN THE NAVY YARD 97 

him honest and patriotic, which are virtues in these days, 
but he has not that discretion and forbearance sufficient to 
comprehend rightly the position that was given him. 

Mr. Seward sent me to-day some strange documents 
from Raymond, Chairman of the National Executive Com- 
mittee. I met R. some days since at the President's, with 
whom he was closeted. At first I did not recognize Ray- 
mond, who was sitting near the President conversing in a 
low tone of voice. Indeed, I did not look at him, supposing 
he was some ordinary visitor, until the President re- 
marked, "Here he is; it is as good a time as any to bring up 
the question." I was sitting on the sofa but then went for- 
ward and saw it was Raymond. He said there were com- 
plaints in relation to the Brooklyn Navy Yard; that we 
were having, and to have, a hard political battle the ap- 
proaching fall, and that the fate of two districts and that of 
King's County also depended upon the Navy Yard. It was, 
he said, the desire of our friends that the masters in the 
yard should have the exclusive selection and dismissal of 
hands, instead of having them subject to revision by the 
Commandant of the yard. The Commandant himself they 
wished to have removed. I told him such changes could not 
well be made and ought not to be made. The present or- 
ganization of the yard was in a right way, and if there were 
any abuses I would have them corrected. 

He then told me that in attempting to collect a party 
assessment at the yard, the Naval Constructor had ob- 
jected, and on appealing to the Commandant, he had ex- 
pressly forbidden the collection. This had given great 
dissatisfaction to our party friends, for these assessments 
had always been made and collected under preceding 
administrations. I told him I doubted if it had been done, 
certainly not in such an offensive and public manner; 
that I thought it very wrong for a party committee to go 
into the yard on pay-day and levy a tax on each man as he 
received his wages for party purposes; that I was aware 
parties did strange things in New York, but there was no 

2 



98 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 8 

law or justice in it, and the proceeding was, in my view, 
inexcusable and indefensible; that I could make no record 
enforcing such assessment; that the matter could not stand 
investigation. He admitted that the course pursued was not 
a politic one, but he repeated former administrations had 
practiced it. I questioned it still, and insisted that it was 
not right in itself. He said it doubtless might be done in a 
more quiet manner. I told him if obnoxious men, open and 
offensive opponents of the Administration, were there, 
they could be dismissed. If the Commandant interposed to 
sustain such men, as he suggested might be the case, there 
was an appeal to the Department ; whatever was reasonable 
and right I was disposed to do. We parted, and I expected 
to see him again, but, instead of calling himself, he has 
written Mr. Seward, who sent his son with the papers to 
me. In these papers a party committee propose to take 
the organization of the navy yard into their keeping, to 
name the Commandant, to remove the Naval Constructor, 
to change the regulations, and make the yard a party ma- 
chine for the benefit of party, and to employ men to elect 
candidates instead of building ships. I am amazed that 
Raymond could debase himself so far as to submit such a 
proposition, and more that he expects me to enforce it. 

The President, in a conversation with Blair and myself 
on the Wade and Davis protest, remarked that he had not, 
and probably should not read it. From what was said of it 
he had no desire to, could himself take no part in such a 
controversy as they seemed to wish to provoke. Perhaps 
he is right, provided he has some judicious friend to state 
to him what there is really substantial in the protest en- 
titled to consideration without the vituperative asperity. 

The whole subject of what is called reconstruction is 
beset with difficulty, and while the executive has indicated 
one course and Congress another, a better and different 
one than either may be ultimately pursued. I think the 
President would have done well to advise with his whole 
Cabinet in the measures he has adopted, not only as to 



1864] THE NIAGARA PEACE PROCEEDINGS 99 

reconstruction or reestablishing the Union, but as to this 
particular bill and the proclamation he has issued in re- 
gard to it. 

When the Rebellion shall have been effectually sup- 
pressed, the Union government will be itself again, re- 
union will speedily follow in the natural course of events, 
but there are those who do not wish or intend reunion 
on the principle of political equality of the States. Unless 
they can furnish the mode and terms, and for fear they 
may not be successful, various schemes are projected. 

The issuing of the proclamation with reasons for not 
signing the bill, and yet expressing his acquiescence in the 
policy if any of the States adopt it, is denounced as anom- 
alous; so is the condition of the country, and so will be re- 
union, whenever and however it may take place. I have 
never asked who was the adviser and counsellor of the 
President in issuing the proclamation. It is sufficient that I 
was not. There is one who was, and how many more is not 
material. There may have been one, possibly two, but the 
project is wholly the President's. 

August 9, Tuesday. At the Cabinet to-day there was no 
special business. Seward and Stanton were not present. 
Mr. Fessenden is absent in Maine. Governor Hahn of 
Louisiana was present a short time. 

Alluding to the Niagara peace proceedings, the President 
expressed a willingness that all should be published. 
Greeley had asked it, and when I went into the President's 
room Defrees 1 was reading the proof of the correspondence. 
I have advised its entire publication from the first moment 
I had knowledge of it. Whether it was wise or expedient 
for the President to have assented to Greeley's appeal, or 
given his assent to any such irregular proceedings, is an- 
other thing, not necessary to discuss. Mr. Seward was con- 
sulted in this matter, and no other one was called in that I 
am aware. Mr. Fessenden says he happened, accidentally 

1 John D. Defrees, the government printer. 



100 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 9 

and uninvited, to come in and was knowing to it. No other 
member of the Cabinet was consulted, or advised with, 
until after the meeting took place at Niagara. 

Fox left this P.M. for his annual vacation in New Hamp- 
shire. Faxon returned last Wednesday. The absence of 
either of them makes my duties more arduous. 

General Averill is reported to have thrashed the raiders 
on the upper Potomac. 

News of Farragut's having passed Forts Morgan and 
Gaines was received last night, and sent a thrill of joy 
through all true hearts. It is not, however, appreciated as 
it should be by the military. The President, I was sorry, 
spoke of it as important because it would tend to relieve 
Sherman. This is the narrow view of General Halleck, 
whom I tried to induce to make a joint demonstration 
against Mobile one year ago. He has done nothing new 
and only speaks of the naval achievement as a step for 
the army. While I regard the acts and opinions of Hal- 
leck as of little worth, I regret that from constant 
daily intercourse he should be able to imbue the Presid- 
ent at times with false and erroneous notions. Halleck 
never awarded honest credit to the Navy; the President 
neve'r knowingly deprived them of any merit. Yet I have 
mentioned the result. 

Passing from the Executive Mansion to the Navy De- 
partment, I met the Count Gurowski, a Polish exile and a 
very singular man of most unhappy manners and temper. 
He has made himself obnoxious to almost everybody by 
constant and everlasting faultfinding and denunciation of 
almost everybody. Yet he has a strong but fragmentary 
mind with quite a retentive memory. Violent, self-opin- 
ionated, acrimonious, dissatisfied, he nevertheless has had 
great experience and often expresses opinions on questions 
that have passed and been disposed of that are sound and 
striking. They are, however, rather reminiscences of the 
opinions of others, reflections of their views, than original 
thoughts on his part. At least, such have been my con- 



1864] COUNT GUROWSKI AND HIS DIARY 101 

elusions of him. So far as I can judge, he has no proper dis- 
criminating powers, no just perceptions of character, is a 
creature of 'violent impulses and hatreds. Easily flattered, 
and as easily offended. A rough, uncouth bear, with no 
nice sense of honor, and when his prejudices are enlisted, 
has not a very great regard for truth, I fear. 

He has just put out two volumes of a diary, in horrid 
style and bad English, commenting with great freedom 
on men and things, abusing in clumsy language almost all 
public characters. It so happens that I am one of the few 
that have escaped his assaults, without ever having courted 
favor, or, it seems, offended him. But shortly after the ap- 
pearance of the last volume, a party was given by me to 
the Cabinet and to Congress. All my associates except 
Stanton he had coarsely abused and very many of the mem- 
bers. I did not think proper to invite the Count to meet 
these men, and he has exhibited unmistakable rage and 
disgust at the supposed slight. Of course, no cause of of- 
fense having been given, there is no way of appeasing 
this Polish bear. I have, therefore, not attempted it nor 
noticed his indignation. Meeting him to-day, as I have 
stated, he saw and recognized me, seemed to be embar- 
rassed and to hesitate, then dropped his head and, turning 
off when within about fifty feet, he went far around, with 
his head bent over, shame and passion in his countenance. 
Poor Gurowski! 

August 10, Wednesday. The tidings this evening from 
Mobile, derived from the Rebels, are satisfactory. It is 
stated that the Tecumseh was sunk by Fort Morgan's 
guns. I discredit this. She may have grounded or she may 
have encountered a torpedo; but most likely it was one of 
the river boats, though they, being of light draft, would 
be less likely to keep the channel and encounter the obstruc- 
tions and torpedoes. If the guns of Fort Morgan sunk an 
ironclad, it was doubtless one of the river monitors. 



102 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 10 

August 11, Thursday. The papers speak of a violent 
altercation between Blair and Stanton on Tuesday in 
Cabinet. It so happened that Stanton was not present with 
Blair. I do not believe that the two have interchanged 
words for weeks. There never was cordiality between 
them. It is also stated that three or four members of the 
Cabinet have resigned. Stanton, it is said with some earn- 
estness, and reasserted, has tendered his resignation. 
There is no truth in any of these rumors, not a shadow 
to build upon. If Stanton ever, at any time or under any 
circumstances, has spoken in whisper to the President of 
resigning, he did not mean it, for he would be, I think, one 
of the very last to quit, and never except on compulsion. I 
have little doubt that Blair would leave to-morrow, pro- 
vided he could carry Stanton out with him and he could 
be got out in no other way. 

August 12, Friday. This has been one of the warmest 
and most uncomfortable days of the season. For several 
days the weather has been extremely warm. A telegram 
from New York to-day said that ice could not be procured 
so rapidly as was wanted for the steamer to proceed to the 
squadron at Mobile to relieve the wounded and sick. I 
directed them to seize if necessary. Delay is not admissible 
at such a time. 

Have news this evening that a new pirate craft, the 
Tallahassee, has appeared off New York, burning vessels. 
Steamers ordered off in pursuit. 

Stanton not at the Cabinet. Had undoubtedly seen the 
President and Seward in advance, done his errand, and got 
away before Blair arrived. Fessenden has not yet returned. 

August 13, Saturday. Had some talk with Senator Lot 
Morrill, who is a good deal excited, not to say alarmed. 
The slow progress of our armies, the mismanagement of 
military affairs exemplified in the recent raids, the factious 
and discontented spirit manifested by Wade, Winter 



1864] THE NEW YORK PRESS 103 

Davis, and others, have generated a feeling of despondency 
in which he participates. Others express to me similar 
feelings. 

There is no doubt a wide discouragement prevails, 
from the causes adverted to, and others which have con- 
tributed. A want of homogeneity exists among the old 
Whigs, who are distrustful and complaining. It is much 
more natural for them to denounce than to approve, to 
pull down than to build up. Their leaders and their follow- 
ers, to a considerable extent, have little confidence in 
themselves or their cause, and hence it is a ceaseless labor 
with them to assail the Administration of which they are 
professed supporters. 

The worst specimens of these wretched politicians are in 
New York City and State, though they are to be found 
everywhere. There is not an honest, fair-dealing Adminis- 
tration journal in New York City. A majority of them 
profess to be Administration, and yet it is without sin- 
cerity. The New York Herald with a deservedly bad name, 
gives tone and direction to the New York press, particu- 
larly those of Whig antecedents and which profess to sup- 
port the Administration. It is not, of course, acknowledged 
by them, nor are they conscious of the leadership, but it is 
nevertheless obvious and clear. When the Herald has in 
view to defame or put a mark upon a man, it commences 
and persists in its course against him. He may be the 
friend of the Tribune and Times. Of course, they do not at 
first assent to what is said by the Herald. Sometimes they 
will make a defense, perhaps an earnest and strong one, 
but the Herald does not regard it and goes on attacking, 
ridiculing, abusing, and defaming. Gradually one of the 
journals gives way, echoes slightly the slanders of the 
Herald, and having once commenced, it follows up the 
work. The other journals, when things have proceeded to 
that length, also acquiesce. This is a truthful statement 
of the standing and course and conduct of the papers I 
have named. 



104 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. is 

The Times is a stipendiary sheet; its principal editor, 
Raymond, mercenary, possessing talent but a subservient 
follower of Weed and Seward. At present, the paper being 
in the hands of Thurlow Weed and sic, it will not for the 
campaign openly attack the President, who is the candi- 
date. But it will, unde-r the lead of the Herald, attack any 
and every member of the Cabinet but Seward, unless Sew- 
ard through Weed restrains him. 

The Tribune is owned by a company which really de- 
sired to give a fair support to the Administration, but 
Greeley, the editor, is erratic, unreliable, without stabil- 
ity, an enemy of the Administration because he hates 
Seward, a creature of sentiment or impulse, not of reason 
nor professed principle. Having gone to extremes in the 
measures that fermented and brought on this war, he 
would now go to extremes to quell it. I am prepared to see 
him acquiesce in a division of the Union, or the continu- 
ance of slavery, to accomplish his personal party schemes. 
There are no men or measures to which he will adhere 
faithfully. He is ambitious, talented, but not considerate, 
persistent, or profound. 

The Evening Post is a journal of a different description 
and still retains some of its former character for ability and 
sense. Bryant, I am inclined to believe, means well, and of 
himself would do well. But he is getting on in years, and 
his son-in-law Godwin attempts to wield the political 
bludgeon. In him the mercenary and unscrupulous parti- 
san is apparent. I was compelled to expose Henderson, the 
publisher, for malfeasance, and the commission before 
whom he was arraigned held him to bail for embezzle- 
ment. The Post blackguarded the witness, and Godwin 
said that if the Navy Department could afford to do with- 
out the Evening Post, the Evening Post could afford to do 
without the Navy Department. This Colonel Oloott tells 
me Godwin said to Wilson, the attorney for the Depart- 
ment. 

These are the Administration journals in the city of New 



1864] THE TALLAHASSEE'S DEPREDATIONS 105 

York. Thurlow Weed has control of the Evening Journal 
of Albany and to a considerable extent of the press of the 
State of Whig antecedents. He is sagacious, unscrupulous, 
has ability and great courage, with little honest principle, 
is fertile in resources, a keen party tactician, but cannot 
win respect and confidence, for he does not deserve them. 
For some time past he has been ingratiating himself with 
the Copperhead journals and leaders, and by his skill has 
made fools of their editors, but I apprehend has not fooled 
their leading managers. He evidently believes, not without 
reason, he is using them; they know they are using him; to 
some extent each may deceive the other. There is a 
feigned difference between him and Seward, or there has 
been, but no one is misled by it. Weed is indispensable to 
Seward and the master mind of the two. This is as well 
known to the Copperhead leaders as to any persons. Re- 
cently Weed has been here and has had interviews with the 
President, to what purpose, whether of his own volition or 
by invitation, I have never inquired. I have noticed that 
Seward endeavors to impress on the President the value of 
Weed's opinion, especially in party matters. 

August 15, Monday. Depredations by the piratical 
Rebel Tallahassee continue. We have sixteen vessels in 
pursuit, and yet I feel no confidence in their capturing her. 
It is so easy to elude the pursuit of the most vigilant and 
many in command are not vigilant that it will not sur- 
prise me if she escapes. Should that be the case, the Navy 
Department will alone be held responsible. I am already 
censured in some of the papers for not having vessels, two or 
three, cruising at the time she appeared. Had that been 
the case we could not have communicated with them when 
we received intelligence, but, being in port, several were 
at once dispatched in pursuit. I find I have become very 
indifferent to the senseless complaints of the few loud 
grumblers. 

From Mobile Bay the news continues favorable. Had 



106 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 15 

Farragut's preliminary dispatch of the 5th to-day. Have 
just written a congratulatory letter to him. These letters 
are difficult to pen. They must be brief and comprehensive, 
satisfactory to the Navy, the Government, and country, 
and not discreditable to the Department. 

August 16, Tuesday. Have been compelled to advise the 
Treasury that their management and delay is destroying 
the public credit. Men will not contract with the govern- 
ment if in violation of good faith they are kept out of their 
pay for months after it is due. Mr. Fessenden has not yet 
returned. 

At the Cabinet-meeting to-day Mr. Seward inquired of 
me in relation to some captured cotton claimed by the 
French. I told him I had no recollection of it, but, if a 
naval capture, it had been sent to the courts for adjudica- 
tion. This, he said, would not answer his purpose. If they 
had no business to capture it, the French would not be 
satisfied. I remarked that neither would the courts, who, 
and not the State or Navy Departments, had exclusive 
jurisdiction and control of the matter; it was for the judi- 
ciary to decide whether the capture was good prize, and 
whether, if not good prize, there was probable cause, and 
to award damages if there had been a flagrant wrong com- 
mitted. 

As Mr. Seward has no knowledge of admiralty or mari- 
time law or of prize proceedings, I was not displeased that 
Mr. Bates took up the matter and inquired by what au- 
thority he or the Executive Department of the government 
attempted to interfere with a matter that was in court. 
Seward attempted to reply, but the Attorney-General was 
so clearly right, and Seward was so conscious of his inabil- 
ity to controvert the law officer, that he flew into a violent 
rage and traversed the room, said the Attorney-General had 
better undertake to administer the State Department, that 
he wanted to keep off a war, he had kept off wars, but he 
could not do it if he was to be thwarted and denied inf orma- 



1864] SEWARD'S OUTBURST IN CABINET 107 

tion. I told him he would have all the information we had 
on the subject, but it was no less clear that until the judi- 
cial remedies were exhausted there should be no Executive 
interference, no resort to diplomacy or negotiations. 

It was to me a painful exhibition of want of common in- 
telligence as to his duties. He evidently supposes that his 
position is one of unlimited and unrestrained power, that 
he can override the courts and control and direct their ac- 
tion, that a case of prize he can interfere with and with- 
draw if he pleases. All his conversation exhibited such 
utter ignorance of his own duties and those of the court in 
these matters that one could scarcely credit it as possible. 
But it has been so through his whole administration of the 
State Department. 

My impression was, on witnessing his outbreak and 
hearing his remarks, that, having the senatorship in view, 
he was proposing to leave the Cabinet, and I am by no 
means certain that he has not some thoughts of such a 
step, men aspiring for office often have strange fancies, 
and, in his wild fancy and confidence in the ability and 
management of his friend Weed, thinks that he can in- 
dorse him into the Chicago Convention a fortnight hence. 
This last I do not suppose, and yet there is design in what 
took place. "There were," said he, "twenty-eight Senators 
who undertook to expel me from the Cabinet, but they did 
not succeed. I have been here to keep the peace and I have 
done it so far. You," turning to the Attorney-General, 
"may get another and have war," etc., etc., etc. 

August 17, Wednesday. I wrote a letter to the Secretary 
of State, softly pointing out the proper course of proceeding 
in this French claim for captured cotton, for I should be 
sorry to have him let down himself and the Government. 
But I know not how, having taken charge of this claim, he 
will receive it. I think, however, he will show his shrewd- 
ness and tact and take the hint, if he has not committed 
himself, as he often does, without being aware of the effect. 



108 DIARY OF GIDEON 'WELLES [AUG. 17 

Had quite a talk to-day with Mr. Lenthall, Naval Con- 
structor, on the subject of the light-draft monitors and 
his duties generally. He claims to know but little about 
them. I told him this would not answer, that I should hold 
him responsible for what pertained to his bureau; that it 
was his duty to criticize, and let me know what, in his 
opinion was wrong; that it was his duty to know, and he 
must not plead ignorance to me; that on important matters 
I did not want his views second-handed, but he must come 
to me direct. From what I could learn in relation to the 
light-draft vessels, I had come to the conclusion that, 
while I had trusted to him, he had mere superficial conver- 
sations with Mr. Fox, without seeing or advising with me, 
and I apprehended Fox and Stimers had been going on 
without consulting others, with confident belief they would 
give us very superior vessels, until they awoke to the fact 
that they were not Naval Constructors or the men to do 
this work, except under the advice and direction of experts. 
I had supposed until last spring that Lenthall and Ericsson 
were giving the light ironclads their attention, but I found 
they were not, and I had not been advised of the fact. My 
plain talk seemed to astonish, and yet not altogether dis- 
please Lenthall. He said he had no doubt Mr. Fox and Mr. 
Stimers had committed the great mistake I alluded to. 
They thought after submitting their plans to him, without, 
however, procuring from him any computations, but an 
expression, that struck him more favorably than Ericsson 
that they could show off something for themselves that 
would give them a name. 

Fred Seward called on me with a letter from Raymond 
to his father inquiring whether anything had been effected 
at the navy yard and custom-house, stating the elections 
were approaching, means were wanted, Indiana was just 
now calling most urgently for pecuniary aid. I told Seward 
that I knew not what the navy yard had to do with all 
this, except that there had been an attempt to levy an as- 
sessment on all workmen, as I understood, when receiving 



1864] MISSION OF JAQUESS AND GILMORE 109 

their monthly pay of the paymaster, by a party committee 
who stationed themselves near his desk in the yard and 
attempted the exaction; that I was informed Commodore 
Paulding forbade the practice, and I certainly had no cen- 
sure to bestow on him for the interdiction. If men choose 
to contribute at their homes, or out of the yards, I had no 
idea that he would object, but if he did and I could know 
the fact, I would see such interference promptly corrected; 
but I could not consent to forced party contributions. 
Seward seemed to consider this view correct and left. 

I am sadly oppressed with the aspect of things. Have 
just read the account of the interview at Richmond be- 
tween Jaquess and Gilmore on one side and Jeff Davis and 
Benjamin on the other. 1 What business had these fellows 
with such a subject? Davis asserts an ultimatum that is 
inadmissible, and the President in his note, which appears 
to me not as considerate and well-advised as it should have 
been, interposes barriers that were unnecessary. Why 
should we impose conditions, and conditions which would 
provoke strife from the very nature of things, for they con- 
flict with constitutional reserved rights? If the Rebellion 
is suppressed in Tennessee or North Carolina, and the 
States and people desire to resume their original constitu- 
tional rights, shall the President prevent them? Yet the 
letters to Greeley have that bearing, and I think them 
unfortunate in this respect. 

They place the President, moreover, at disadvantage in 
the coming election. He is committed, it will be claimed, 
against peace, except on terms that are inadmissible. 
What necessity was there for this, and, really, what right 
had the President to assume this unfortunate attitude 
without consulting his Cabinet, at least, or others? He did, 
he says, advise with Seward, and Fessenden, who came in 

1 An account of the interview of Colonel James F. Jaquess and Mr. James 
E. Gilmore with the President of the Confederacy and his Secretary of State, 
written by Mr. Gilmore, appeared in the Atlantic Monthly for September, 
1864. 



110 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 17 

accidentally, also gave it his sanction. Now Seward is a 
trickster more than a statesman. He has wanted to get an 
advantage over Horace Greeley, and when the President 
said to Greeley, therefore, that no terms which did not in- 
clude the abolition of slavery as one of the conditions 
[would be admissible], a string in Greeley J s harp was 
broken. But how it was to affect the Union and the great 
ends of peace seems not to have been considered. The 
Cabinet were not consulted, except the two men as named, 
one, if not both, uninvited, nor as regarded Jaquess and 
Gilmore in their expedition. It will be said that the Pre- 
sident does not refuse other conditions, and that he only 
said " to whom it may concern" he would make peace with 
those conditions, but that he does not refuse different and 
modified conditions to others. (It was undoubtedly an 
adroit party movement on the part of the President that 
rebuked and embarrassed Greeley and defeated a wily in- 
trigue.) But, after all, I should, even with this interpreta- 
tion, wish the President not to be mixed up with such a 
set, and not to have this ambiguity, to say the least. Most 
of the world will receive it as a distinct ultimatum. 

August 18, Thursday. Mr. Seward brought me this A.M. 
a dispatch from Consul Jackson at Halifax, saying the pi- 
rate Rebel Tallahassee had arrived at that port. I had on 
Sunday morning last, the 14th, sent orders to Commodore 
Paulding to immediately dispatch the San Jacinto, then 
just arrived at New York and in quarantine, to proceed to 
Halifax, anticipating that the pirate craft would go thither 
for coal. The Commodore on the same day sent me a dis- 
patch that orders had been given the San Jacinto to pro- 
ceed to sea, and a second telegram, received that evening, 
said she would pass through the Sound. When, therefore, I 
to-day got word that the Tallahassee was in Halifax, I 
thought the San Jacinto should be there. I immediately 
inquired at what time she had sailed, that I might calcu- 
late with some certainty. This evening I have a telegram 



1864] THE TALLAHASSEE AT HALIFAX 111 

from Captain Case, Executive Officer, Brooklyn Yard, 
that the San Jacinto has not yet sailed but was coaled and 
ready and would proceed in the morning. I know not when 
I have been more disappointed and astonished, and I have 
just written for an explanation. It cannot have been other- 
wise than there was inattention and neglect, for there could 
have been no purpose or design to defeat my orders. But 
the sin which is great, and almost inexcusable of this 
neglect will fall on me, and not on the guilty parties. They 
have defeated my plans and expectations, and I shall be 
assailed and abused by villainous partisans for it. 

I trust some of the officers who have been sent in pursuit 
will have the perseverance and zeal to push on to Halifax, 
yet I have my apprehensions. They lack persistency. Not 
one of them is a Farragut, or Foote, or Porter, I fear. But 
we will see. 

I have ordered the Pontoosuc, which is at Bangor, to 
proceed immediately to Halifax, and trust she will get 
there. The Merrimac is somewhere on the Banks and may 
fall in with the Tallahassee. Budd, who commands the 
Merrimac, will prove an ugly customer for the pirate, if he 
falls in with him. 

August 19, Friday. Much pressed with duties. A pleas- 
ant hour at the Cabinet, but no special subject. Fessenden 
still absent. Stanton did not attend. Blair inquired about 
the Niagara peace correspondence. The President went 
over the particulars. Had sent the whole correspondence 
to Greeley for publication, excepting one or two passages 
in Greeley's letters which spoke of a bankrupted country 
and awful calamities. But Greeley replied he would not 
consent to any suppression of his letters or any part of 
them; and the President remarked that, though G. had put 
him (the President) in a false attitude, he thought it better 
he should bear it, than that the country should be dis- 
tressed by such a howl, from such a person, on such an oc- 
casion. Concerning Greeley, to whom the President has 



112 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 19 

clung too long and confidingly, he said to-day that Greeley 
is an old shoe, good for nothing now, whatever he has 
been. "In early life, and with few mechanics and but little 
means in the West, we used," said he, "to make our shoes 
last a great while with much mending, and sometimes, when 
far gone, we found the leather so rotten the stitches would 
not hold. Greeley is so rotten that nothing can be done 
with him. He is not truthful; the stitches all tear out." 

Both Blair and myself concurred in regret that the Pre- 
sident should consult only Seward in so important a mat- 
ter, and that he should dabble with Greeley, Saunders, and 
company. But Blair expresses to me confidence that the 
President is approaching the period when he will cast off 
Seward as he has done Ghase. I doubt it. That he may 
relieve himself of Stanton is possible, though I see as yet 
no evidence of it. To me it is clear that the two S.'s have an 
understanding, and yet I think each is wary of the other 
while there is a common purpose to influence the President. 
The President listens and often defers to Seward, who is 
ever present and companionable. Stanton makes himself 
convenient, and is not only tolerated but, it appears to me, 
is really liked as a convenience. 

Seward said to-day that Mr. Raymond, Chairman of 
the National Executive Committee, had spoken to him 
concerning the Treasury, the War, the Navy, and the 
Post-Office Departments connected with the approaching 
election; that he had said to Mr. Raymond that he had 
better reduce his ideas to writing, and he had sent him 
certain papers; but that he, Seward, had told him it 
would be better, or that he thought it would be better, to 
call in some other person, and he had therefore sent for 
Governor Morgan, who would be here, he presumed, on 
Monday. All which means an assessment is to be laid on 
certain officials and employees of the government for party 
purposes. Likely the scheme will not be as successful as 
anticipated, for the depreciation of money has been such 
that neither can afford to contribute. Good clerks are 



1864] INDIFFERENT NAVAL OFFICERS 113 

somewhat indifferent about remaining, and so with me- 
chanics. I cannot, for one, consent to be an instrument in 
this business, and I think they must go elsewhere for funds. 
To a great extent the money so raised is misused, misap- 
plied, and perverted and prostituted. A set of harpies and 
adventurers pocket a large portion of the money extorted. 
It is wanted now for Indiana, a State which has hosts of cor- 
rupt and mischievous political partisans who take to them- 
selves large pay for professed party services without con- 
tributing anything themselves. 

August 20, Saturday. My sons Edgar and John got home 
this morning from a visit to Connecticut. Have word that 
the Pontoosuc arrived at Halifax about four hours after 
the Tallahassee had sailed, having been ordered off by 
the authorities. This warning was not, however, until she 
had got more than half the coal she wanted, and, I am sus- 
picious, after a knowledge of the fact that the Pontoosuc 
was on its way to Halifax, for the order of the Department 
to the Pontoosuc was sent to Bangor by open telegraph, 
not in cipher. 

I yesterday wrote a rebuke to Paulding in relation to the 
neglect in sending forward the San Jacinto, also for omit- 
ting to send me a copy of instructions, and also for not ad- 
vising me of the return of the Grand Gulf and the Eolus, 
by telegraph. All was lazily sent by mail. On sending to 
him to at once send out the Grand Gulf again, I am in- 
formed her engines are taken to pieces and it will require 
two days to get her ready. Among the commanders there 
has been, as I apprehended, an indifference that is dis- 
creditable. Several of them were on the track of the pirate, 
fell in with the wrecks and floating cargoes of his victims, 
and, with an eye to salvage, then turned about and re- 
turned. These fellows will never wear an admiral's flag on 
the active list, or command a squadron in time of war. 

As I exnected. the Daoers uarticularlv the Adminis- 



114 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 20 

cause the Tallahassee is not captured. The blame is 
thrown entirely on the Department, no censure on the 
officers who were negligent in obeying orders. On the 
other hand, not one word of commendation is given by 
these journals to the Department for the success at Mo- 
bile. Such is the justice and intelligence of miserable parti- 
sans and an unscrupulous partisan press. 

August 22, Monday. Mr. Fessenden returned yesterday, 
a long absence for such a period as this. The course 
pursued at the Treasury Department in withholding money 
from the naval contractors for months after it is due is rep- 
rehensible and injurious in the highest degree to the public 
credit. Mr. F. is not responsible for this wrong. It was the 
work of Chase, who, in order to retire his interest-bearing 
notes, seized the money which legitimately belonged to the 
naval contractors to the amount of $12,000,000. As a con- 
sequence we shall lose some of our best contractors, who 
feel there is bad faith and no dependence on the govern- 
ment. 

Some of the contractors for light-draft monitors are writ- 
ing pressing letters. If disposed to act fairly, they should 
be promptly met; but if attempting to take advantage of 
our necessities, we must see that the public suffers no detri- 
ment. 

Olcott, the detective, sends me a curious letter of E. 
Delafield Smith, with a not less curious indorsement by 
Olcott. Smith thinks the transactions of his office have 
been scrutinized and asks Olcott. 0. inquires of me how he 
shall answer, 

August 23, Tuesday. Received dispatches to-day from 
Admiral Farragut confirming intelligence received several 
days since through Rebel sources. The official account 
confirms my own previous impressions in regard to opera- 
tions. Secretary Stanton in one of his bulletins represented 
that Fort Gaines had surrendered to General Granger and 



1864] THE NAVY AND FORT GAINES 115 

the army. It is shown that the proposition of Colonel 
Anderson, who commanded the fort, was to surrender to 
the fleet after the monitors had made an assault, that Ad- 
miral Farragut consulted with General Granger, that the 
terms were dictated from the squadron, that Colonel An- 
derson and Major Brown went on board the Admiral's 
vessel when the arrangement was consummated, etc. 

Why should the Secretary of War try to deprive an of- 
ficer like Farragut and the naval force of what is honestly 
their due? It is only one of many like occurrences during 
the War. I do not recollect a single instance of generous 
award to the Navy by Stanton or Halleck. Some will 
doubtless get in error by it, but I think the country mainly 
rightly appreciates it, and history may put all right. Not 
the history of this day and period; a generation at least 
must pass away before the errors, prejudices, and perver- 
sion of partisans will be dissipated, and the true facts be 
developed. I have had but brief opportunities to look into 
the so-called histories of the great events now passing, but 
the cursory examination which I have given let me see 
mountains of error, and much of it, I am sorry to say, was 
not unintentional on the part of the writers. Facts were 
made or worked to suit the partialities or prejudices of the 
person who professed to record them. Many in this day 
who read and hear of the capture of New Orleans believe it 
was taken by General Butler and the army, who were a 
hundred miles distant when the city surrendered, and it is 
obviously the purpose of the Secretary of War to so spread 
such an impression in regard to the capture of Fort Gaines, 
so that the Navy shall not have the credit. 

It does not surprise nor grieve me that another and dif- 
ferent class the intense partisan should wholly ignore 
the Navy Department in all naval victories. No word of 
credit is awarded us by them for the late achievement, yet 
I know the people are not wholly ignorant on the subject. 
Some of the more thoughtful will appreciate the labor and 
responsibility devolving on those who prepared the work, 



116 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 23 

and furnished the means for the work in hand. Some credit 
is due for the selection of Farragut in the first instance. 
Mervine had been first assigned to command the blockade 
in the Gulf. I found when organizing the squadron at the 
commencement of the Rebellion that there was pressure 
and claim of usage for the senior officers. Many who were 
counted best had seceded and proved traitors. My thoughts 
turned to Gregory for that command, but Paulding, who 
was then the detailing officer, persuaded me to take Mer- 
vine. It was a mistake. Gregory is infinitely the better 
man. A few months satisfied me that Mervine, a worthy 
man doubtless, was good for nothing as an officer for such 
duties as the times required, and he was detached. He and 
his friends were greatly miffed and wanted a court of in- 
quiry. Anxious to secure an efficient man for his successor, 
I consulted many and scrutinized carefully. The choice 
was eventually narrowed down to two, McKean and C. H. 
Bell. Foote, whom I consulted with others, after much 
hesitation inclined me to McKean, of whom I thought well 
from his promptness and patriotism immediately on his re- 
turn from Japan in the Niagara. He was certainly an im- 
provement on Mervine, but yet not the man, I was soon 
convinced, partly from ill health, for the work that 
was wanted. 

When the expedition to New Orleans was determined 
upon, the question as to who should have command of the 
naval forces became a subject of grave and paramount im- 
portance. I had heard that Farragut resided in Norfolk at 
the beginning of the troubles, but that he abandoned the 
place when Virginia seceded and had taken up his residence 
inthecityof New York. The fact interested me. Ihadknown 
something of him in Folk's administration, and his early 
connection with Commodore Porter was in his favor. All 
that I heard of him was to his credit as a capable, energetic, 
and determined officer, of undoubted loyalty. Admirals 
Joe Smith and Shubrick spoke well of him. The present 
Admiral D. D. Porter, who, with others, was consulted, 




DAVID GLASGOW FARRAGUT 



1864] HOW FARRAGUT WAS DISCOVERED 117 

expressed confidence in him, and as Porter himself was to 
take a conspicuous part in the expedition, it had an im- 
portant influence. But among naval officers there was not 
a united opinion. Most of them, I think, while speaking 
well of Farragut, doubted if he was equal to the position, 
certainly not so well appointed a man as others, but yet 
no one would name the man for a great and active campaign 
against Mobile or some other point. They knew not of New 
Orleans. After the question was decided, and, I believe, 
after Fox and D. D. Porter both wrote Farragut unofficially 
of his probable selection to command the new Gulf Squad- 
ron, I was cautioned in regard to the step I was taking. 
Senator Hale, when he learned the fact, asked me if I was 
certain of my man, Southern born, a Southern resident, 
with a Southern wife, etc. Several Members of Congress 
questioned me closely; few knew Farragut, who had not 
then carved out a great name, and there was, I became con- 
scious, a general impression or doubt whether I had not 
made a mistake. I will not follow the subject here. His 
works speak for themselves, and I am satisfied the selec- 
tion was a proper one, probably the very best that could be 
made. 

At that time Du Pont was in favor, almost a favorite. 
He had sought to be, or his friends had sought to have him, 
transferred to Washington to take the place of Paulding. 
Seward proposed it, and thought Paulding might be other- 
wise provided for, suggesting the navy yard at Philadel- 
phia or Brooklyn, or a squadron. I did not assent to the 
arrangement, and the President, who saw I had some feel- 
ing on the subject, concurred with me emphatically. 
Seward said the subject had been brought to him by Winter 
Davis, in other words, Du Pont. 

I did not then, as I do now, know thoroughly either 
Davis or Du Pont. It was a skillful intrigue, yet it did not 
succeed. But the blockade, requiring a close and minute 
hydrographical knowledge of the coast, brought me in con- 
tact with Mr. Bache of the Coast Survey. Mr. Bache 



118 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG.! 

sought to make our acquaintance personal and intimat 
and but for my unremitting and ceaseless devotion topres 
ing current duties I should have fully responded. But 
had not time. I think he saw and appreciated it, and he ii 
timated, not exactly proposed, a board to take up the sul 
ject of our Southern coast, its channels, approaches, inlet 
and defenses in detail, and report to me. It struck n 
favorably, and Du Pont was put upon that board wit 
him, was brought to Washington, and commenced formir 
a clique while reporting on the surveys of the coast. E 
moved with great skill, and I, being unsuspicious, was, 
can perceive, to some extent deceived. But I think the i 
success of the intrigue of H. Winter Davis and himse 
through Seward led Du Pont to the conclusion that 1 
would not be likely to make head against me during th 
administration. He therefore changed his tactics, becarr 
greatly friendly and profoundly respectful, designing, if 1: 
could, to use me. To some extent he did so. Old Admin 
Shubrick was his relative and patron. Mr. Fox was devote 
to him, and I listened much to Fox as well as to Shubric] 
Admiral Paulding, then here, was kindly disposed, as d< 
tailing officer, to second Du Pont, and Admiral Davis wi 
his shadow. Of course with such surroundings, and wil 
Du Pont himself, who became friendly, I think trul 
friendly, and almost deferential, I yielded much to h 
wishes and recommendations. It was early arranged thi 
he should have a squadron to effect a lodgment at son 
port on the South Atlantic. Fernandina was much thougl 
of, but Port Royal and Bull's Bay were mentioned. A drv 
sion of the Atlantic Squadron, then commanded by Ai 
miral Stringham, became indispensable, and Stringha 
himself, having taken offense, unwisely, at some order i 
sued in my absence, proposed to resign just as the subje 
of dividing the squadron was taken up, which made tl 
way clear for Du Pont. He took the Navy Register ai 
made to a great extent his selection of officers. It was 
Du Pont squadron emphatically. Poor Mercer, who hi 



1864] DU FONT'S INTRIGUING 119 

been his devoted friend, was detached from the Wabash, 
which was made Du Font's flag-ship, and died of a broken 
heart. But neither Farragut nor David D. Porter were 
within the charmed circle. DuPont had some jealousy, I 
saw, of Porter, but none of Farragut. I do not remember 
to have ever heard a complimentary remark of F. from 
Du Pont, but he evidently considered him a fair fighting 
officer, of ordinary standing, not one of the elite, not of 
the Du Pont Navy. Of Porter he entertained a higher 
opinion, but he was no favorite, and, without any charge 
against him, I was given to understand that he was a 
troublesome fellow. . . . 

August 24, Wednesday. A comparatively quiet day. The 
consul at Halifax is telegraphing me that Rebel armed ves- 
sels are soon to be off the coast. He does not give me his 
authority nor any facts. Such apprehensions are constantly 
being expressed by the Northern Governors and municipal 
authorities every season. I shall not be surprised if there is 
some foundation for this. At all events, have sent orders 
to be prepared. 

August 25, Thursday. Most of the vessels sent out in 
pursuit of the Tallahassee have returned, and with scarcely 
an exception the commanders have proved themselves 
feeble and inefficient. Imputations of drunkenness and of 
disloyalty or of Rebel sympathy are made against some of 
them. As usual, there may be exaggerations, but there is 
some truth in some of the reports. 

Calling on the President near eleven o'clock, I went in as 
usual unannounced, the waiter throwing open the door as I 
approached. I found Messrs. Seward, Fessenden, and Stan- 
ton with Raymond, Chairman of the Executive National 
Committee, in consultation with the President. The Presid- 
ent was making some statement as to a document of his, 
and said he supposed his style was peculiar and had its ear- 
marks, so that it could not be mistaken. He kept on talk- 



120 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 25 

ing as if there had been no addition to the company, and as 
if I had been expected and belonged there. But the topic 
was not pursued by the others when the President ceased. 
Some inquiry was put to me in regard to intelligence from 
the fleet at Mobile and the pursuit of the Tallahassee. Mr. 
Fessenden rose and, putting his mouth to the ear of the 
President, began to whisper, and as soon as I could answer 
the brief inquiries, I left the room. 

It was easy to perceive that Seward, Stanton, and Ray- 
mond were disconcerted by my appearance. Except the 
whispering by Fessenden I saw nothing particular on his 
part. It appeared to me he was being trained into a process. 
Stanton, with whom he seems to have a sort of sympathy, 
is evidently used as an intermediate by Seward to make 
them (Seward and Fessenden) friends, and this gathering I 
could easily read and understand, although it may be diffi- 
cult to describe the manner, etc., which made it clear to me. 

The Democrats hold a party nominating convention 
next Monday at Chicago, which is naturally attracting a 
good deal of attention. There is a palpable effort to give 
6clat, and spread abroad a factitious power for this assem- 
blage in advance. To this the Administration journals, and 
particularly those of New York, have conduced. I do not 
think that anything serious is to be apprehended from that 
convention, if Seward can keep quiet; but his management, 
which is mismanagement, and his shrewdness, which is fre- 
quently untowardness, will ever endanger a cause. 

I hear little of Chase, though I doubt not that his aspira- 
tions are unextinguished. That he is disappointed because 
his retirement made so little sensation and has been so 
readily acquiesced in, I have no doubt. I have heard that 
he had written a friend here to the effect that it was expe- 
dient, under the circumstances, to support Lincoln, al- 
though he had many dislikes to the man and his policy. 
But I am assured he has an expectation, sometimes amount- 
ing to confidence, that Fremont will ultimately be with- 
drawn and that there will then be union and harmony. I 



1864] THE CHARACTER OF CHASE 121 

can believe most of this. Chase has a good deal of intellect, 
knows the path where duty points, and in his calmer mo- 
ments, resolves to pursue it. But, with a mind of consider- 
able resources, he has great weaknesses in craving aspira- 
tion which constantly impair his strength. He has inord- 
inate ambition, intense selfishness for official distinction 
and power to do for the country, and considerable vanity. 
These traits impair his moral courage; they make him a 
sycophant with the truly great, and sometimes arrogant 
towards the humble. The society of the former he courts, 
for he has mental culture and appreciation, but his political 
surroundings are the mean, the abject, the adulators and 
cormorants who pander to his weaknesses. That he is ir- 
resolute and wavering, his instinctive sagacity prompting 
him rightly, but his selfish and vain ambition turning him 
to error, is unquestionably true. I have little doubt, how- 
ever, that he will, eventually, when satisfied that his own 
personal aspirations are not to be gratified, support the re- 
election of the President. Am not certain it is not already 
so arranged. 

August 26, Friday. Am harassed by the pressure on the 
enlistment question. A desire to enter the Navy to avoid 
the draft is extensive, and the local authorities encourage 
it, so that our recruiting rendezvous are, for the time being, 
overrun. The Governors and others are applying for more 
rendezvous in order to facilitate this operation. The draft 
for five hundred thousand men is wholly an army conscrip- 
tion. Incidentally it aids the Navy, and to that extent 
lessens the number of the army. I have been willing to avail 
ourselves of the opportunity for naval recruiting, but the 
local authorities are for going beyond this and making our 
enlistments a primary object of the draft. Because I cannot 
consent to this perversion I am subjected to much captious 
criticism, even by those who should know better. 

Neither Stanton, Blair, nor Bates were to-day at the 
Cabinet-meeting. Judge Johnson of Ohio informs me that 



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. 

August 27, Saturday. Much party machinery is just at 
this time in motion. No small portion of it is a prostitution 
and abuse. The Whig element is venal and corrupt, to a 
great extent. I speak of the leaders of that party now asso- 
ciated with Republicans. They seem to have very little 
political principle; they have no belief in public virtue or 
popular intelligence; they have no self-reliance, no confid- 
ence in the strength of a righteous cause, little regard for 
constitutional restraint and limitations. Their politics and 
their ideas of government consist of expedients, and cun- 
ning management with the intelligent, and coercion and 
subornation of the less informed. 

Mr. Wakeman, the postmaster at New York, with whom 
I am on very good terms, for he is affable, insinuating, 
and pleasant, though not profound nor reliable, a New 
York politician, has called upon me several times in relation 
to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He is sent by Raymond, by 
Humphrey, by Campbell and others, and I presume Seward 
and Weed have also been cognizant of and advising in the 
matter. Raymond is shy of me. He evidently is convinced 
that we should not harmonize. Wakeman believes that all 
is fair and proper in party operations which can secure by 
any means certain success, and supposes that every one 
else is the same. Raymond knows that there are men of a 
different opinion, but considers them slow, incumbrances, 
stubborn and stupid, who cannot understand and will not 
be managed by the really ready and sharp fellows like him- 
self who have resources to accomplish almost anything. 
Wakeman has been prompted and put forward to deal with 
me. He says we must have the whole power and influence 
of the government this coming fall, and if each Depart- 
ment will put forth its whole strength and energy in our 



favor we shall be successful. He had just called on Mr. 
Stanton at the request of our friends, and all was satisfac- 
torily arranged with him. Had seen Mr. Fessenden and 
was to have another interview, and things were working 
well at the Treasury. Now, the Navy Department was 
quite as important as either, and he, a Connecticut man, 
had been requested to see me. There were things in the 
Navy Yard to be corrected, or our friends would not be 
satisfied, and the election in New York and the country 
might by remissness be endangered. This must be pre- 
vented, and he knew I would use all the means at my dis- 
posal to prevent it. He then read from a paper what he 
wanted should be done. It was a transcript of a document 
that had been sent me by Seward as coming from Ray- 
mond, for the management of the yard, and he complained 
of some proceedings that had given offense. Mr. Halleck, 
one of the masters, had gathered two or three hundred 
workmen together, and was organizing them with a view to 
raise funds and get them on the right track, but Admiral 
Paulding had interfered, broken up the meetings, and pro- 
hibited them from assembling in the Navy Yard in future. 

I told him I approved of Paulding' s course; that there 
ought to be no gathering of workmen in working hours and 
while under government pay for party schemes; and there 
must be no such gatherings within the limits of the yard at 
any time. That I would not do an act myself that I would 
condemn in an opponent. That such gatherings in the 
government yard were not right, and what was not right I 
could not do. 

He was a little staggered by my words or manner, or 
both; insisted we could not succeed without doing these 
things, that other parties had done them, and we must; 
but he had full confidence I would do right and should tell 
them so when he returned. 

Neither Wakeman nor those who sent him are aware that 
the course which he would pursue would and ought to de- 
stroy any party. No administration could justify and sus- 



tain itself that would misuse power and the public means 
as they propose. Such action would sooner or later destroy 
the government. Their measures would not stand the test 
of investigation, and would be condemned by the public 
judgment, if healthy. They are not republican but imperial. 

August 29, Monday. We have word through Rebel 
channels that the Union forces have possession of Fort Mor- 
gan. This will give us entire control of the Bay of Mobile. 

The President sent me a bundle of papers, embracing a 
petition drawn up with great ability and skill, signed by 
most of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress and a 
large number of the prominent merchants in Boston, asking 
special favors in behalf of Smith Brothers, who are under 
arrest for fraudulent deliveries under contract, requesting 
that the trial may be held in Boston and that it may be 
withdrawn from the military and transferred to the civil 
tribunals. Senator Sumner and Representative Rice wrote 
special letters to favor the Smiths. The whole scheme had 
been well studied and laboriously got up, and a special 
delegation have come on to press the subject upon the 
President. 

He urged me to relieve him from the annoying and tre- 
mendous pressure that had been brought to bear upon him 
in this case by religious or sectarian and municipal influ- 
ence. I went briefly over the main points; told him the 
whole subject ought to be referred to and left with the 
Navy Department in this stage of the proceedings, that I 
desired him to relieve himself of all care and trouble by 
throwing the whole responsibility and odium, if there was 
odium, on the Navy Department, that we could not pur- 
sue a different course in this case from the others, it 
could not be made an exception. He then asked why not 
let the trial take place in Boston and thus concede some- 
thing. I told him this might be done, but it seemed to me 
inexpedient; but he was so solicitous political and party 
considerations had been artfully introduced, against which 



54] A QUEER STORY FROM BERMUDA 125 

tie could be urged, when Solicitor Whiting and others 
erred that three Congressional districts would be sacri- 
ed if I persisted that the point was waived and the 
esident greatly relieved. The President evinced shrewd- 
ss in influencing, or directing me, but was sadly imposed 
on by the cunning Bostonians. 

A Mr. Buel, formerly of Connecticut, who has recently 
ien up his residence in Bermuda, called on me a day or 

since with a letter from Collins Brothers, of Hartford, 
10 presented him as a worthy, truthful, and reliable man, 
Dught up by themselves, had lived with them from 
54 to 1862, etc., representing that he had matters of 
)ment to communicate, etc. Buel wanted permission to 
port four horses to Bermuda, where he was engaged 
gely in agriculture, with a view of supplying New York 
d New England with early vegetables. In this matter I 
dined to interfere farther than to indorse the respecta- 
ity of the Messrs. Collins. But Buel had a public matter 
communicate. When at Bermuda, Consul Allen had in- 
duced him to a Mr. Bailor, who claimed to be a com- 
ssioner duly authorized by the authorities of the State of 
iorgia to negotiate for peace. His credentials he had 
r en into the hands of Consul Allen, from whom they 
re stolen when going from Hamilton to St. George's, at a 
use where he stopped with a lady who had come with 
n that distance. Not only were Bailor's credentials 
den, but his own dispatches to our government. As he 
3med the subject of great importance, and as Bermuda 
a filled with Rebels and their sympathizers, Consul 
^en hastened to St. George's, where the packet was about 
sail, and, having no time to write an explanatory letter, 

1 merely penned a line, and opened his heart to Mr. 
.el, to whom he communicated the above facts, which 
el narrated to me. Bailor had come on from Bermuda 
New York with Buel, and is now in Washington or on 

way hither from New York. 
Buel, besides the indorsement of the Messrs. Collins, 



126 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 29 

had the appearance of an honest man, but the story ap- 
peared to me so absurd and incredible in many and most 
respects, that I gave it little weight, and felt inclined to 
believe that both he and Allen were imposed upon. So be- 
lieving, I soon dismissed Mr. Buel, referring him in the 
matter of his horses to the Secretary of the Treasury, or 
War, or both. 

To-day, when leaving the President, Buel met me in the 
outer hall, where he was in waiting, and again introduced 
the subject of his horses and Bailor. The latter, he said, 
was in Washington, had had interviews with the President 
and Mr. Seward, had dined with the Secretary of State on 
Saturday, etc., and suggested that it might be well for the 
President to see him (Buel) on the matter of Bailor's cre- 
dentials; and he wanted also a definite answer about the 
horses. The latter, I perceived, was the most interesting 
and absorbing topic with him, and I was therefore for 
passing on, when it occurred to me that if Bailor was really 
here, having interviews with the President and Secretary 
of State, whether empowered or not, an intriguing 
busybody or mischief-maker, I ought perhaps to inform 
the President in regard to Buel and mention my own im- 
pressions. I therefore returned to the President, briefly 
stated the facts, and asked if he would see Bailor. He was 
evidently a little surprised at my knowledge of Bailor, said 
he had been here and got in with Seward, who had become 
sick of him, he thought, and the President himself believed 
Bailor a "shyster." I introduced Buel, who did not re- 
move the impression that Bailor was a "shyster," and 
most of the conversation was on the condition of Bermuda 
and Buel's private affairs. 

The Rebel leaders understand Seward very well. He is 
fond of intrigue, of mystery, of sly, cunning management, 
and is easily led off on a wild chase by subtle fellows who 
can without difficulty excite his curiosity and flatter his 
vanity. Detectives, secret agents, fortune-tellers are his 
delight: and the stupid statements of Bailor, especially 



1864] ATTACK ON WILMINGTON URGED 127 

when corroborated by Allen, who is evidently a victim, 
imposed upon him. 

August 30, Tuesday. Not much of interest at the Cabi- 
net. Seward, Blair, and Bates absent from Washington. 
The capture of Fort Morgan is confirmed by accounts 
from Sherman. 

Am trying to arrange for changes in command of our 
squadrons and of our navy yards. Something must be 
done to close the entrance to Cape Fear River and port of 
Wilmington. I give no credit to the newspaper gossip of 
connivance on the part of our naval officers with blockade- 
runners which many good men believe; but there is a want 
of effective action. Admiral Lee is true and loyal, careful, 
and circumspect almost to a fault, but, while vigilant, he 
has not dash and impetuous daring, and there seems some 
defect in the blockade which makes Wilmington appear an 
almost open port. It is true that blockade-running has 
become systematized into a business, and the ingenuity and 
skill of Englishmen and the resources of English capital 
are used without stint in assisting the Rebels. 

I have been urging a conjoint attack upon Wilmington 
for months. Could we seize the forts at the entrance of 
Cape Fear and close the illicit traffic, it would be almost as 
important as the capture of Richmond on the fate of the 
Rebels, and an important step in that direction. But the 
War Department hangs fire, and the President, whilst 
agreeing with me, dislikes to press matters when the mil- 
itary leaders are reluctant to move. 

Fox urges the immediate recall of Farragut and giving 
him the North Atlantic Squadron. But to withdraw Farra- 
gut from Mobile suddenly will give cause for censure. The 
country is expecting the capture of the city of Mobile. I 
do not think it an important object at this moment. We 
have the bay and have closed all communication from 
abroad. To capture the city will be difficult, very difficult 
if the army does not take the principal work in hand. If 



Farragut is recalled, the failure or omission to take the 
city will be imputed to the Navy Department. Besides, to 
withdraw Farragut and place him in the North Atlantic 
Squadron will be to advertise our object, and cause the 
Rebels to prepare for the work of defense. These and other 
considerations have weight, and prevent me from acting. 
It is important, however, that the port of Wilmington 
should be closed, and no effort should be spared to secure 
that object. Stantofr expressed himself willing in our last 
conversation but doubted if General Grant could be 
brought into the movement just now, and was, I saw, dis- 
inclined himself to advise or recommend the measure. 
Have had some talk with Fox and sent him to urge Halleck 
and Stanton. He had an errand to perform with the Pre- 
sident and proposed to open the subject to him also. As I 
had done so several times, and always found the President 
willing, and on the last two or three occasions solicitous, 
yet, like Stanton, deferring to Grant, I thought well of the 
proposition. It was suggested that Gillmore was at leisure 
or would be a good officer to command in such an expedi- 
tion. I have a good opinion of Gillmore as a second officer 
and as an engineer or artillery officer, but his skill and 
strength in other respects and particularly in organizing 
and controlling men and planning and carrying out de- 
tails of an important movement as chief are questionable, 
and therefore, I should, unless satisfied by competent men 
who know him better than I do, hesitate in regard to his 
selection. This is pretty plain and direct work, and he 
may succeed. Stanton has agreed to send for Gillmore and 
get his views. In some proposed changes of our squadron 
commands I find embarrassments. This one of taking 
Farragut from the West Gulf and transferring him to the 
North Atlantic is one. It will be a right and proper measure 
at the right time. But who shall succeed him? Dahlgren 
has asked to be relieved of his present command, which he 
earnestly sought, but I am doubtful about giving him the 
Western Gulf. Though I do not question his courage, 



1864] McCLELLAN FOR PRESIDENT 129 

which, however, is artificial, he evades responsibility, is 
craving in his demands, and profuse in expenditure. Fox 
has advised his transfer to the Mississippi, and that Porter 
should take Dahlgren's command. But this change does 
not suit me nor would it gratify either of those admirals. 
A second suggestion from Fox is that Porter should have 
command of a flying squadron for the defense of the coast 
and the West Indies which it is proposed to raise. This 
strikes me more favorably, provided he is to leave the Mis- 
sissippi. 

August 31, Wednesday. The complaints in regard to re- 
cruiting are severe and prolonged. They come in numbers. 
It seems to be taken for granted that we can open a ren- 
dezvous in every county. I have no doubt that the ren- 
dezvous are overcrowded and that abuses are practiced in 
consequence. The impending draft for the army indirectly 
benefits the Navy, or induces persons to enter it. Their 
doing so relieves them and their localities from the draft. 
Hence the crowd and competition. Then come in the 
enormous bounties from the State and municipal authori- 
ties over which naval officers have no control, and which 
lead to bounty-jumping and corruption. 

Admiral Porter came by order. Says he prefers remain- 
ing in his present command. In a long interview our inter- 
change of opinion concerning men and naval matters was 
on the whole satisfactory. 

General McClellan was to-day nominated as the candi- 
date of the so-called Democratic party. It has for some 
days been evident that it was a foregone conclusion and the 
best and only nomination the opposition could make. The 
preliminary arrangements have been made with tact and 
skill, and there will probably be liberality, judgment, and 
sense exhibited in launching and supporting the nominee, 
which it would become the Union men to imitate. That 
factious, narrow, faultfinding illiberality of radicals in 
Congress which has disgraced the press ostensibly of the 



130 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. si 

Administration party, particularly the press of New York 
City, has given strength to their opponents. McClellan 
will be supported by War Democrats and Peace Democrats, 
by men of every shade and opinion; all discordant elements 
will be made to harmonize, and all differences will be sup- 
pressed. Whether certain Republican leaders in Congress, 
who have been assailing and deceiving the Administration, 
and the faultfinding journals of New York have, or will, 
become conscious of their folly, we shall soon know. They 
have done all that was in their power to destroy confidence 
in the President and injure those with whom they were 
associated. If, therefore, the reelection of Mr. Lincoln is 
not defeated, it will not be owing to them. 

In some respects I think the President, though usually 
shrewd and sensible, has mismanaged. His mistakes, I 
think, are attributable to Mr. Seward almost exclusively. 
It has been a misfortune to retain Stanton and Halleck. He 
might have brought McClellan into the place of the latter, 
and Blair had once effected the arrangement, but Seward 
defeated it. As I have not been in the close confidence of 
the President in his party personal selections and move- 
ments, I am left to judge of many things, as are all the 
Cabinet except Mr. Seward and to some extent Mr. Stanton, 
who is in the Seward interest. It has seemed to me a great 
misfortune that the President should have been so much 
under the influence of these men, but New York State is a 
power and Seward makes the most of it. I have regretted 
that the President should have yielded so much to Greeley 
in many things and treated him with so much considera- 
tion. Chase and Wade, though not in accord, have by 
their ambition and disappointments done harm, and, in a 
less degree, the same may be said of Mr. Sumner. Others 
of less note might be named. Most of them will now cease 
grumbling, go to work to retrieve their folly so far as they 
can. Possibly the New York editors may be perverse a 
few weeks longer, sufficiently so to give that city over- 
whelmingly to the opposition, and perhaps lose the State. 



1864] LINCOLN AND THE NEWSMONGERS 131 

Seward will, unintentionally, help them by over-refined 
intrigues and assumptions and blunders. It has some- 
times seemed to me that he was almost in complicity with 
his enemies, and that they were using him. I am not cer- 
tain that the latter is not true. 

It is an infirmity of the President that he permits the 
little newsmongers to come around him and be intimate, 
and in this he is encouraged by Seward, who does the same, 
and even courts the corrupt and the vicious, which the 
President does not. He has great inquisitiveness. Likes to 
hear all the political gossip as much as Seward. But the 
President is honest, sincere, and confiding, traits which 
are not so prominent in some by whom he is surrounded. 



XXIII 

Farragut and Du Pont contrasted New York shouting for McClellan 
Political Pressure on the Brooklyn Navy Yard The New York Col- 
lectorship The Question of Trading with the South Effect of the 
Success of Sherman at Atlanta on the Opposition to Lincoln Em- 
barrassment caused by the Treasury's Delay in Payment of Navy Re- 
quisitionsTalk with J. M. Forbes Chairman Raymond of the 
Republican National Committee Call from a Committee in reference 
to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Farragut aska for Rest and Shore Exer- 
cise Embarrassment as to Command of North Atlantic Squadron 
Special Cabinet-Meeting on the Subject of Abandoned Plantations 
Piratical Acts of Confederate Refugees on Lake Erie Reception of the 
News of Sheridan's Victory at Winchester by the Opponents of the Ad- 
ministration Robert C. Winthrop's Unfortunate Position Blair 
leaves the Cabinet Cotton-Trading in Texas The Elder Blair 
calls in reference to Acting Admiral Lee's Detachment from the North 
Atlantic Squadron The Court Martial in the Case of Commander 
Downes Seward and the Presidential Proclamation of Nevada's 
Admission as a State. 

September 1, Thursday. Great is the professed enthusi- 
asm of the Democrats over the doings at Chicago, as if it 
were not a matter of course. Guns are fired, public meet- 
ings held, speeches made with dramatic effect, but I doubt 
if the actors succeed even in deceiving themselves. Not- 
withstanding the factious and petty intrigues of some 
professed friends, a species of treachery which has lurked 
in others who are disappointed, and much mismanagement 
and much feeble management, I think the President will 
be reflected , and I shall be surprised if he does not have a 
large majority. 

At Chicago there were extreme partisans of every hue, 
Whigs, Democrats, Know-Nothings, Conservatives, War 
men and Peace men, with a crowd of Secessionists and 
traitors to stimulate action, all uniting as partisans, 
few as patriots. Among those present, there were very 
few influential names, or persons who had public confid- 



ence, but scoundrels, secret and open traitors of every 
color. 

General Gillmore and Fox went yesterday to the front 
to see General Grant and try to induce him to permit a 
force to attack and close the port of Wilmington. It is, 
undoubtedly, the most important and effective demonstra- 
tion that can be made. If of less prestige than the capture 
of Richmond, it would be as damaging to the Rebels. 

September 2, Friday. Admiral Farragut's dispatch relat- 
ive to the capture of Fort Morgan and the infamous con- 
duct of General Page in spiking his guns after his surrender 
is received. It was most disgraceful and would justify se- 
vere treatment. 

Some of the Administration presses and leaders have 
undertaken to censure me for slighting Du Pont. Not one 
of them awards me any credit for selecting Farragut. Yet 
it was a great responsibility, for which I was severely crit- 
icized, and until he had proved himself worthy of my choice, 
I felt it. 

The contrast between Farragut and Du Pont is marked. 
No one can now hesitate to say which is the real hero ; yet 
three years ago it would have been different. Farragut is 
earnest, unselfish, devoted to the country and the service. 
He sees to every movement, forms his line of battle with 
care and skill, puts himself at the head, carries out his 
plan, if there is difficulty leads the way, regards no danger 
to himself, dashes by forts and overcomes obstructions. 
Du Pont, as we saw at Sumter, puts himself in the most 
formidable vessel, has no order of battle, leads the way 
only until he gets within cannon-shot range, then stops, 
says his ship would not steer well, declines, however, to go 
in any other, but signals to them to go forward without 
order or any plan of battle, does not enjoin upon them to 
dash by the forts ; they are stopped under the guns of Sum- 
ter and Moultrie, and are battered for an hour, a sufficient 
length of time to have gone to Charleston wharves, and 



Admiral out of harm's way. 

When I appointed Du Pont to command a squadron, I 
met the public expectation. All but a few naval officers, 
most of whom were under a cloud, approved and applauded 
so judicious a selection. But no cheering response was made 
to the appointment of Farragut. Some naval officers said 
he was a daring, dashing fellow, but they doubted his dis- 
cretion and ability to command a squadron judiciously. 
Members of Congress inquired who he was, and some of 
them remonstrated, and questioned whether I was not 
making a mistake, for he was a Southern man and had a 
Southern wife. Neither the President nor any member of 
the Cabinet knew him, or knew of him except, perhaps, 
Seward, but he was not consulted and knew nothing of the 
selection until after it was made. When told of the ap- 
pointment, he inquired if Farragut was equal to it, and 
asked if it would not have been better to have transferred 
Du Pont to that command. 

Farragut became a marked man in my mind when I was 
informed of the circumstances under which he left Norfolk. 
At the time the Virginia convention voted to secede he de- 
nounced the act, and at once abandoned the State, leaving 
his home and property the day following, avowing openly 
and boldly, in the face and hearing of the Rebels by whom 
he was surrounded, his determination to live and die owing 
allegiance to no flag but that of the Union under which he 
had served. This firm and resolute stand caused me not 
only to admire the act, but led me to inquire concerning 
the man. I had known of him slightly during Folk's ad- 
ministration, when I had charge of a naval bureau, remem- 
bered his proposition to take San Juan d'Ulloa at Vera 
Cruz, and all I heard of him was well, but he was generally 
spoken of as were other good officers. Fox, Foote, and 
Dahlgren gave him a good name. Admiral D. D. Porter 
was emphatic in his favor, and his knowledge and estimate 
of men were generally pretty correct. Admiral Smith con- 



1864] NEW YORK SHOUTS FOR McCLELLAN 135 

sidered him a bold, impetuous man, of a great deal of 
courage, and energy, but his capabilities and power to 
command a squadron was a subject to be determined only 
by trial. 

Had any other man than myself been Secretary of the 
Navy, it is not probable that either Farragut or Foote 
would have had a squadron. At the beginning of the Re- 
bellion, neither of them stood prominent beyond others. 
Their qualities had not been developed; they had not pos- 
sessed opportunities. Foote and myself were youthful 
companions at school. And I have stated the circum- 
stances under which Farragut was brought to my notice. 
Neither had the showy name, the scholastic attainments, 
the wealth, the courtly talent, of Du Pont. But both were 
heroes. Du Pont is a polished naval officer, selfish, heart- 
less, calculating, scheming, but not a hero by nature, though; 
too proud to be a coward. 

September 3, Saturday. New York City is shouting, for 
McClellan, and there is a forced effort elsewhere to get a 
favorable response to the almost traitorous proceeding at 
Chicago. As usual, some timid Union men are alarmed, 
and there are some, like Raymond, Chairman of the Na- 
tional Committee, who have no fixed and reliable princi- 
ples to inspire confidence, who falter, and another set; ,like 
Greeley, who have an uneasy, lingering hope that they can, 
yet have an opportunity to make a new candidate. But 
this will soon be over. The Chicago platform is unpatri- 
otic, almost treasonable to the Union. The issue is made 
up. It is whether a war shall be made against Lincoln to 
get peace with Jeff Davis. Those who met at Chicago 
prefer hostility to Lincoln rather than to Davis. Such is 
extreme partisanism. 

We have to-day word that Atlanta is in our possession, 
but we have yet no particulars. It has been a hard, long 
struggle, continued through weary months. This intelli- 
gence will not be gratifying to the zealous partisans who 



136 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 3 

have just committed the mistake of sending out a peace 
platform, and declared the war a failure. It is a melan- 
choly and sorrowful reflection that there are among us so 
many who so give way to party as not to rejoice in the suc- 
cess of the Union arms. They feel a conscious guilt, and 
affect not to be dejected, but discomfort is in their coun- 
tenances, deportment, and tone. While the true Unionists 
are cheerful and joyous, greeting all whom they meet over 
the recent news, the Rebel sympathizers shun company 
and are dolorous. This is the demon of party, the days 
of its worst form, a terrible spirit, which in its excess 
leads men to rejoice in the calamities of their country and 
to mourn its triumphs. Strange, and wayward, and unac- 
countable are men. While the facts are as I have stated, I 
cannot think these men are destitute of love of country; 
but they permit party prejudices and party antagonisms 
to absorb their better natures. The leaders want power. 
All men crave it. Few, comparatively, expect to attain 
high position, but each hopes to be benefited within a 
certain circle which limits, perhaps, his present ambition. 
There is fatuity in nominating a general and warrior in 
time of war on a peace platform. 

September 5, Monday. Mr. Blair returned this morning 
from Concord. He had, I have little doubt, been sent for, 
partly to see and influence me. I am not sufficiently duc- 
tile for Mr. Raymond, Chairman of the National Exec- 
utive Committee, who desires to make each navy yard a 
party machine. The party politicians of King's County 
wish to make the Brooklyn Navy Yard control their county 
and State elections, and this not by argument, persuasion, 
conviction, personal effort on their part, but by the arbi- 
trary and despotic exercise of power on the part of the Sec- 
retary of the Navy. I told Blair I could not be instrument- 
al in any such abuse, and read to him Admiral Paulding's 
letter. I should have read it to Ravmond, had he DOS- 



1864] THE NEW YORK COLLECTORSHIP 137 

approachable, a wall that he cannot penetrate or get over. 
E. B. Washburne is in this business; so are Usher and 
others. They want me to do a mean thing, and think it 
would benefit the party, a most egregious error, were 
I so weak as to listen to them. The wrong which they would 
perpetrate would never make a single convert, control a 
single vote, but it would create enmities, intensify hatred, 
increase opposition. They would remove any man who is 
not openly with us and of our party organization, would 
employ no doubtful or lukewarm men in the yard, whatever 
may be their qualifications or ability in their trade. But re- 
moving them would not get us their vote, and instead of 
being lukewarm or doubtful they would be active election- 
eers against us, exciting sympathy for themselves and 
hatred towards the Administration for its persecution of 
mechanics and laborers for independent opinions. 

Blair like a man of sense, has a right appreciation of 
things, as Paulding's letter satisfied him. Whether it will 
Raymond and Washburne is another question, about which 
I care not two straws; only for their importuning the Pre- 
sident, would not give the old Whig Party a moment's at- 
tention. His good sense and sagacity are against such exer- 
cise or abuse of power and patronage, as I heard him once 
remark. It is an extreme of partyism such as is practiced 
in New York. 

Blair informed me that Simeon Draper is appointed Col- 
lector of New York, and the evening papers confirm the 
fact. I also learn from Blair that Chase opposed the ap- 
pointment of Preston King, saying he was not possessed of 
sufficient ability for the place. Gracious heaven! A man 
who, if in a legal point of view not the equal, is the superior 
of Chase in administrative ability, better qualified in some 
respects to fill any administrative position in the govern- 
ment than Mr. Chase! And in saying this I do not mean to 
deny intellectual talents and attainments to the Secretary 
of the Treasury. Mr. Fessenden also excepted to King, but 
not for the reasons assigned by Mr. Chase. It is because 



138 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 5 

Mr. King is too obstinate! He is, indeed, immovable in 
maintaining what he believes to be right, but open always 
to argument and conviction. If the opposition of Fessenden 
is not dictated by Chase, he has fallen greatly in my estima- 
tion, and I am in any event prepared to see the Treasury 
Department fall away under such management. The se- 
lection of Sim Draper with his vicious party antecedents 
is abominable. I am told, however, that prominent mer- 
chants advised it. This shows how little attention should 
be paid in such matters to those who traffic. I have no 
confidence in Draper. I look upon him as corrupt, and 
his appointment will beget distrust in the Administration. 
I so expressed myself to Mr. Blair, although he had ac- 
quiesced in the selection, not from choice, but to pre- 
vent the place from being conferred upon another. 

September 6, Tuesday. A disagreeable, rainy day. Only 
a light Cabinet-meeting. As usual the dignitaries were 
absent, but Seward is not in Washington. Fessenden and 
Stanton were not with us, and Usher has gone to Indiana. 
Mr. F. W. Seward is always punctually present when his 
father is away, and remained to the last. Governor Koer- 
ner sent his name in before we left and was introduced. He 
is recently from Spain. Says Semmes was taunted into 
fighting the Kearsarge by French and other European 
officers. 

September 9, Friday. At the Cabinet council Fessenden 
introduced some trade regulations prepared with the inten- 
tion of carrying out the last enactment of Congress, and 
designed to supersede all former regulations. This last law 
is, so far as he could make it so, a creation of Mr. Chase, 
and I am surprised that Senators Morrill and Morgan 
should have yielded to him. The regulations of Mr. Fes- 
senden are tainted with Chase's schemes and errors, and 
belong to the same school of monopoly permits and favor- 
itism. They met with little favor, however. The President 



1864] TRADING WITH THE SOUTH 139 

objected at the threshold to that part of the plan which 
threw upon him the odium, and labor, and responsibility 
of selecting the agents who were to proceed within the 
Rebel lines. Both he and Mr. Fessenden, however, started 
with the assumption, and as a settled fact, that the cotton 
within the Rebel lines must be sought for and brought out, 
trading on the part of the government with the enemy. 
The only difference between them was whether it should 
be by a few selected agents specially permitted, or whether 
it should be open to all who wished to trade with the 
Rebels. Mr. Fessenden's plan was the first, the President's 
was the last. All gave a preference to the President's plan, 
or view of opening the traffic to all if to any. Mr. Stanton 
stated some of the objections to traffic beyond our lines, 
and thought, if it were to be done, it should be in concur- 
rence with the generals in the Departments. Mr. Blair 
questioned the whole policy of trading with the enemy, or 
having dealings with them while in a state of war. The 
principles of absolute non-intercourse with those in arms 
which I have always maintained no one undertook now to 
controvert when suggested by Mr. Blair. The President 
explained his views were that extensive regions lay open 
where neither army was in possession, where there was an 
abundance of cotton which the parties or owners (non-bel- 
ligerents) would bring forward, but the moment the cotton 
appeared, approaching a market, it was immediately 
seized and appropriated by our own soldiers and others. 
It was plunder. He desired to correct this, and wished Mr. 
Fessenden to so modify and so shape his regulations as to 
effect it. 

The position of Mr. Blair I deem eminently correct as 
between people of different nations. But this is not our 
case; ours is not an ordinary war, and our great primary 
fundamental purpose is a restoration of the Union. Com- 
mercial intercourse is not one of the means of attaining that 
end. A large portion of the people in the Rebel region are 
not enemies of the Union; they sincerely desire its restora- 



140 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 9 

tion and the benefits that would flow from it. Give them, 
whenever amicable, the opportunity. Promote friendly 
intercourse. Let the people in such portions of the country 
as are not strictly in military occupation come forward with 
their cotton and begin to feel that they are of us and we of 
them. Tennessee and Kentucky, northern Georgia and 
Alabama, the entire country bordering on the Mississippi, 
etc., etc., can thus, under skillful and right treatment be 
soon reclaimed. We want no frontiers. 

The success of Sherman at Atlanta, following on that of 
Farragut at Mobile, has very much discomposed the op- 
position. They had planned for a great and onward dem- 
onstration for their candidate and platform, but our naval 
and army successes have embarrassed them exceedingly. 
General McClellan, in his letter of acceptance, has sent out 
a different and much more creditable and patriotic set of 
principles than the convention which nominated him; but 
the two are wholly irreconcilable. It will be impossible for 
Vallandigham, Wood, Tom Seymour, Long, Brooks, and 
men of that stripe to support McClellan without an utter 
abandonment of all pretensions to consistency or principle. 
Yet some of that class will be likely to adhere to him, while 
those who are sincere will not. But the letter will be likely 
to secure him more friends than he will lose by it. 

September 10, Saturday. Seward made a speech at 
Auburn, intended by him, I have no doubt, as the keynote 
of the campaign. For a man of not very compact thought, 
and who, plausible and serious, is often loose in his expres- 
sions, the speech is very well. In one or two respects it is 
not judicious and will likely be assailed. 

Chase, who has been expressing his discontent, not in 
public speeches but in social intercourse down East, is 
beginning to realize that the issue is made up, no new 
leaders are to be brought forward, and he will now sup- 
port Lincoln in order to defeat McClellan. So with others. 
After doing what they could to weaken the President and 



1864] TALK WITH J. M. FORBES 141 

impair confidence in him, they now turn in and feel the 
necessity of counteracting their own unwise and mistaken 
policy. 

Mr. Fessenden assures me that the payment of Navy 
requisitions commences forthwith, and will be prosecuted 
earnestly. It certainly is time. There are over thirteen 
millions of suspended requisitions in the Treasury, every 
dollar of which is due the parties. Many of them should 
have been paid three and four months ago. Chase com- 
menced this system of deferring payments for value re- 
ceived. I have explained matters to Mr. Fessenden, who, 
however, does not yet, I apprehend, fully realize the conse- 
quences and the great wrong. The credit of the Depart- 
ment and of the government is seriously impaired, and the 
Navy Department is by these delays compelled to pay an 
extra price for everything it purchases, because the Treas- 
ury does not promptly pay the requisitions drawn on it. My 
administration of the Department is injured by these de- 
lays, and made to appear extravagant in its expenditures, 
when it is in fact the only one, except the Post-Office, that 
struggles for economy. 

September 12, Monday. No news of special importance 
to-day. The election in Maine is eliciting comments. The 
opposition are expecting to make large gains, while the 
friends of the Administration are pretty confident they will 
maintain their majority of last year. Both parties evidently 
consider the result as indicative of the great result in the 
fall, and for this reason more than usual interest is mani- 
fested. 

September 13, Tuesday. Had an interesting half-hour 
talk with J. M. Forbes, a sensible man and true patriot. 
He wishes the President to make the issue before the coun- 
try distinctly perceptible to all as democratic and aristo- 
cratic. The whole object and purpose of the leaders in the 
Rebellion is the establishment of an aristocracy, although 



lew loiiowers. ivir. roroes wisnes me uo urge urns suojecc 
upon the President. It is not in my nature to obtrude my 
opinions upon others. Perhaps I err in the other extreme. 
In the course of the conversation he related a violent and 
strange assault that was made upon him by Mr. Seward 
some time since, in the railroad cars or on the platform at a 
stopping-place, denouncing him for trying to postpone the 
nominating convention. Mr. Blair, in walking over with 
me, took the opportunity of stating his conviction that 
there was a deep intrigue going forward on the part of the 
"little villain" using Greeley's epithet to Raymond 
to effect a change of Cabinet next March. The grumbling 
and the complaint about the employe's in the Navy Yards 
meant more than was expressed. It is to gradually work 
upon the President and get him, if possible, dissatisfied 
with me and with the administration of the Navy Depart- 
ment. I doubt if this is so and yet should not be at all 
surprised to find Blair to be right in his conjectures. I 
know that the managers are very much dissatisfied because 
I do not make the yards bitterly partisan, and permit levies 
for money to be made on the workmen for party purposes. 
This is particularly the case at the Brooklyn yard. Ray- 
mond has in party matters neither honesty nor principle 
himself, and believes that no one else has. He would com- 
pel men to vote, and would buy up leaders. Money and 
office, not argument and reason, are the means which he 
would use. This fellow, trained in the vicious New York 
school of politics, is Chairman of the Republican National 
Committee; is spending much of his time in Washington, 
working upon the President secretly, trying to poison his 
mind and induce him. to take steps that would forever 
injure him. Weed, worse than Seward, is Raymond's 
prompter, and the debaucher of New York politics. 

September 14, Wednesday. I had a formal call to-day 
from a committee consisting of Mr. Cook of Illinois, a 
member of the National Committee, Mr. Humphrey, an 



1864] THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD MATTER 143 

ex-Member of Congress from Brooklyn, and two or three 
other gentlemen. Mr. Cook opened the subject by present- 
ing me a resolution, adopted unanimously by the National 
Committee, complaining in general terms that the em- 
ploye's of the Brooklyn Navy Yard were, a majority of 
them, opposed to the Administration. He also presented a 
paper which the President had given him from certain 
persons in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, complain- 
ing in a similar manner of the condition of affairs in the 
Charlestown and Kittery navy yards. Our interview was 
long, and matters were pretty fully gone into. After read- 
ing the papers, I stated that these were charges in general 
terms, and asked if they had any specific facts, anything 
tangible for us to inquire into. Was there any case within 
their knowledge, or the knowledge of any one to whom 
they could refer, of wrong, of disloyalty, of offensive po- 
litical bearing? They were evidently unprepared to an- 
swer. Mr. Cook said he had understood there were some 
warrant officers who ought to be removed. I explained 
there were naval officers and there were civilians in the 
Navy Yards. The former were detailed to duty, the latter 
are appointees of the Department. The masters are ap- 
pointed by the Department and they employ all the work- 
men, subject to the approval of the chiefs of their respect- 
ive departments. I had appointed and retained all the 
masters in Brooklyn by the advice of Mr. Humphrey and 
his associates. If there were any improper persons em- 
ployed there, it was by the masters thus selected on Mr. 
Humphrey's recommendation. Mr. Cook said he had not 
fully understood this matter. Mr. Humphrey said there 
were a good many disloyal men in the yard. I requested 
him to point them out, to give me their names, to specify 
one. He was not prepared, nor were either of the men with 
him. Mr. Humphrey said that a majority of the men in the 
yard were Copperheads, opposed to the Administration. I 
asked him how he knew that to be the case, for I could not 
credit it. He said he had been told so, and appealed to the 



144 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 14 

master joiner, who was present, a little deaf. The mas- 
ter joiner thought that four sevenths were opposed to the 
Administration. I inquired on what data he made that 
statement. He said he had no data but he could tell pretty 
well by going round the yard and mingling with the men. 
I told him that besides introducing partyism into the yard, 
which was wrong, his figure was mere conjecture, and 
asked if their ward committees in the city outside the yard 
did their duty, if they canvassed their wards, knew how 
many navy yard men were in each ward, and how they 
stood relatively with parties. They were aware of no such 
canvass, had no facts, had done nothing outside. 

But the burden of their complaint was against Mr. 
Davidson, the Assistant Naval Constructor, who would not 
dismiss, or give his approval to dismiss, any man of the op- 
position. Again I asked for facts. "Why, if there is this 
wrong, has not a case been brought to my knowledge? You 
must, certainly, among you all, know of a single case if 
there is such a grievance as you represent." Mr. Hum- 
phrey appealed to the master joiner, who related the cir- 
cumstance of a difference that had grown up between a 
workman and a quarterman, an appeal was made to Mr. 
Hallock, the master, Hallock wrote his dismissal for insub- 
ordination, and Mr. Davidson had not approved it; no 
action had yet been taken. 

This was the only case they could recollect. This, I told 
them, was not a case of disloyalty, or objectionable party 
opinion, but one of discipline. If as stated, the facts should 
have been reported to me, and I would have given them 
attention. But nothing, they were confident, could be done 
with Mr. Davidson to favor the Republican Party. I asked 
Mr. H. if he knew Mr. Davidson's political opinion. Told 
him Mr. D. had been recommended by every Republican 
Member of Congress from Philadelphia. Mr. H. did not 
know what his opinions were, but he had no sympathy 
with us. I told him my impressions were that D. was a 
friend and supporter of the President, but he had gone a 



1864] THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD MATTER 145 

stranger to Brooklyn, and been treated with neglect and 
now was much misrepresented; that I was satisfied and 
confirmed that my impressions were correct, that there 
was no proper party organization in Brooklyn, that they 
had no proper canvass, that they did not labor and exert 
themselves properly, but sat down leisurely and called on 
the President and Secretary of the Navy to do their party 
work and organization for them; that in this way they 
could never make themselves formidable. They must 
mingle with the people, be with them and of them, con- 
vince them by intercourse that the Republicans were right. 
That they should invite the employees to their meetings, 
furnish them with arguments, get them interested, and 
they would, in that way, have their willing efforts and 
votes. 

They thought, they said, they had a pretty good organiz- 
ation, but if allowed to go into the yard they could better 
organize, it would help them much. I told them I thought 
such a proceeding would be wrong; it was a maxim with me 
not to do that which I condemned in another. They said if 
they could go near the paymaster when he was paying the 
men off, and get the assessment off each man, it would 
greatly aid them. I told them it would help them to no 
votes. The man who was compelled to pay a party tax 
could not love the party who taxed him. His contribution 
must, like his vote, come voluntarily, and they must per- 
suade and convince him to make him earnest and effective. 

I promised to write instructing Delano, the constructor, 
to pass on the selections and dismissals of men, and' not to 
depute this duty to his assistant. This, they thought, 
would afford them relief, and though I perceived there was 
disappointment hi the matter of money-getting, which is 
obviously the great object in view, they went off appar- 
ently satisfied with the victory for Delano. 

September 15, Thursday. Admiral Farragut writes that 
his health is giving way under the great labor imposed and 



146 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 15 

long-continued service in the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea. 
Says he must have rest and shore exercise. The Depart- 
ment had ordered him North to command the North At- 
lantic Blockading Squadron and capture Wilmington. 
These orders he had not received when his dispatch was 
written, and I am exceedingly embarrassed how to pro- 
ceed. Fox tells me that Grant, with whom he has con- 
versed, would not be satisfied with Lee. Grant had so said 
or intimated to him when Fox was sent with Gillmore to 
consult with Grant in regard to operations at Wilmington. 
My own convictions are that Lee is not the man for that. 
That kind of work is not in him, except under the imme- 
diate orders of another. He is true and loyal, prudent and 
cautious. Farragut would take the place three times while 
Lee was preparing, and hesitating, and looking behind for 
more aid. It pains me to distress him and the Blairs by 
detaching him and ordering another to the work, but indi- 
vidual feelings, partialities, and friendships must not be in 
the way of public welfare. 

The importance of closing Wilmington and cutting off 
Rebel communication is paramount to all other questions, 
more important, practically, than the capture of Rich- 
mond. It has been impossible to get the War Department 
and military authorities to enter into the spirit of this work. 
They did not appreciate it. But they and Grant have now 
engaged in it, and Grant is persistent. Just at this crisis 
Farragut unfortunately fails. It is unavoidable, a necessity. 
He would not ask relief if not compelled to, and may try to 
obey the orders, though I think not; and if he offers to, I 
shall not, under the present aspect of affairs, accept the 
service from him. But who shall take his place? Lee is not 
the man, whatever his worth in other respects. Admiral 
Porter is probably the best man for the service, but his se- 
lection will cut Lee to the quick. Porter is young, and his 
rapid promotion has placed him in rank beyond those who 
were his seniors, some of whom it might be well to have in 
this expedition. But again personal considerations must 



1864] PORTER FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC 147 

yield to the public necessities. I think Porter must perform 
this duty. Neither Goldsborough nor Du Pont are men for 
such service. Nor is Davis. Dahlgren has some good quali- 
ties, but lacks great essentials and cannot be thought of for 
this command. His promotion is not and never will be 
popular with the Navy. Men as well as officers participate 
in this feeling. I regret it. I strove to have him suppress 
his aspirations as premature and not earned afloat. But it is 
difficult to reason with vain ambition. Dahlgren is not for 
such a duty the equal of Porter, even were he popular with 
the service and the country. I see no alternative but 
Porter, and, unprejudiced and unembarrassed, I should 
select him. The movement is secret, and I have no one 
to confer with but Fox, who is over-partial to Porter 
.and whose opinion is foregone, and known already before 
asking. 

Now, how to dispose of Lee? I think we must send him 
for the present to the West Gulf, and yet that is not strictly 
right, perhaps, to others. His harvest of prize money, I 
think, is greater than that of any other officer, and the 
West Gulf, should Wilmington be closed, will be likely, if 
the war continues, to be the theatre of blockade-running. 
I think, however, Lee must, for a time at least, have the 
position. 

September 16, Friday. At the Cabinet nothing of interest. 
Seward and Fessenden were early there and left. Judge 
Otto, 1 who was present in the place of Usher, presented a 
paper for the removal of Charles L. Lines, a land officer in 
Kansas, stating he was a troublesome man and an opponent 
of the Administration. It is not usual for me to volunteer 
remarks touching the appointments of another Depart- 
ment, but I could not forbear saying this statement if cor- 
rect was extraordinary, that Lines was an old Whig, 
we had been old opponents in Connecticut, that he, in 
earnest zeal, went early to Kansas, had made sacrifices of 

1 William T. Otto, Assistant Secretary of the Interior. 



148 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. ie 

domestic comfort, had lost one or two sons there, and I 
should be surprised if he was not a Mend of the President. 
Otto said he knew nothing on the subject. It was a ques- 
tion in which Senator Jim Lane took an interest and had 
been submitted by Mr. Edmunds. 1 The President said he 
was sorry Lane had come here just at this time, for he 
would want him (the President) to adopt all his personal 
quarrels. For the present, and until he knew more, he de- 
clined to interfere. 

Acting Admiral Bailey has come here, and dislikes, I pre- 
sume, his orders to the Portsmouth Navy Yard, would 
have preferred his command of the East Gulf Squadron. 
I had supposed he desired and would be gratified with the 
change. But prize money is a great stimulant. 

September 17, Saturday. Talked over the subject of Wil- 
mington, examined its localities, and considered the posi- 
tion of things fully with Porter and Fox. I had intended 
Blair should have been present, for the meeting was at his 
house, but he was compelled to leave for Baltimore. 

Porter has preferred retaining the Mississippi Squadron, 
but repeated what he has heretofore said, that he had 
been treated kindly by the Department, and if I ordered 
him to go over Niagara Falls in an iron pot he should obey 
the order. In other words, he and every naval officer must 
submit and give up their own wishes to the orders of the 
Department without a murmur of dissent. 

There was a special Cabinet-meeting to-day on the sub- 
ject of the abandoned plantations. A person of the name 
of Wright wishes the President to put him in possession of 
what he claims to be his plantation, now in the occupancy 
of Mr. Flanders, the Treasury agent. It seems that F. has 
fifty-two of these plantations, or had some time since, 
perhaps he has more now. 

The President said serious questions were rising in re- 
gard to this description of property; appeals were made to 

1 James M. Edmunds, Commissioner of the General Land Office. 



1864] ABANDONED PLANTATIONS 149 

him, and he could not undertake to investigate and adjust 
them. Quite a discussion took place in which the President, 
Mr. Bates, and Mr. Stanton took the principal part.'* It was 
not made distinctly to appear how these plantations came 
into the hands of Mr. Flanders, the Treasury agent. ' All 
who were present, except Mr. Bates and myself, seemed to 
take it for granted that it was legitimate and proper. They 
said the law had prescribed how abandoned plantations 
became forfeit. Mr. Stanton said he had given the subject 
great attention and most thorough investigation, and he 
made a somewhat emphatic and labored argument, telling 
the President (very properly I think) he could not, 'and 
ought not to, take upon himself the details of these em- 
barrassing questions; that when Admiral Farragut and 
General Butler took possession of New Orleans, many of 
the inhabitants fled, leaving their plantations, and kept 
themselves within the Rebel lines; thousands of negroes 
were left unprovided for. It became necessary for the gov- 
ernment to provide for them ; the military authorities had 
taken up their deserted plantations and seized others, and 
let them, out for the negroes to work. When Mr. Chase got 
his Treasury agents at work, it was thought best to turn 
these plantations over to him. After a little time, Chase 
became sick of his bargain, and desired the War Depart- 
ment to retake possession and responsibility but he (S.) had, 
declined. 

Mr. Bates wanted a definition of "abandoned." Was it 
"abandonment" for a man to leave his home with his 
family and go for a few months to the North, or to Cuba, 
or to Richmond? etc. Mr. Stanton said the statute made 
that clear, but Mr. Bates thought Congress, though they 
made law, did not make dictionaries. I put the question if a 
man had two plantations, one in Alabama and one in Louis- 
iana, at the time of the capture of New Orleans, and he, 
being in Alabama, remained there, within the Rebel lines, 
attending to his private domestic affairs, whether ^that 
would be an abandonment of his Louisiana plantation so 



150 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. i? 

that Mr. Flanders could take and hold it. I also asked if 
there was not a preliminary question to all this, would it 
not be necessary to ascertain by proper, legal inquiry 
whether the owner was a Rebel and traitor. 

There is too much of a disposition to jump to a conclu- 
sion to take for granted on many occasions. The 
owner by legal title-deeds and records is entitled to his land 
unless he has forfeited it. If a Rebel and traitor, he may 
have forfeited it, but who is to decide that he is a traitor? 
Not the military commander or quartermaster, and yet no 
other officer or tribunal has passed over them. 

Some difference appeared between Fessenden and Stan- 
ton as to which should have the custody of the plantations. 
F. thought the agent should report to S. and vice versa. If 
seized or taken possession of from military necessity, I have 
never been able to see why the Treasury agent should have 
them. If not a military necessity, how can he have posses- 
sion, except under some legal decision? It is not sufficient 
that the law says the land of a traitor shall be forfeited. 
Who shall expound and carry the law into effect, trans- 
ferring title? Not the Treasury agent, certainly. 

The President said he wished some means devised to re- 
lieve him from these questions. He could not undertake to 
investigate them. Stanton said that was true, but that, 
having given the subject great consideration, he was pre- 
pared to say what in his opinion was best, that was that 
the whole of the matters pertaining to abandoned planta- 
tions should be turned over to the War Department and he 
would organize a bureau or tribunal to make rightful dispo- 
sition of each case presented. 

September 19 . Monday. Grant has gone up to the Shen- 
andoah to see Sheridan. I had advised Porter and Fox to 
visit Grant on James River, but this prevented, and yes- 
terday it was said at the War Department he would be 
here to-day. We now learn he has already returned to the 
Army of the Potomac, so P. and F. left this P.M. to visit 



1864] PIRATICAL ACTS ON LAKE ERIE 151 

him and arrange particulars. Grant has not yet decided 
or made known what general he shall select for this serv- 
ice. 

September 20, Tuesday. Intelligence reaches us this 
morning that Sheridan has achieved a great victory over 
Early in the valley of the Shenandoah, after much hard 
fighting. This will do much to encourage and stimulate all 
Union-loving men, and will be ominous to Lee. 

At Cabinet-meeting. Met Fessenden on my way, who 
said he had called in but the President told him there was 
"no business." This is the announcement three out of four 
days of meeting. Sometimes matters are brought forward 
notwithstanding. I found the Postmaster-General and the 
Attorney-General with the President. In a few minutes 
Fessenden returned, and shortly after Stanton came in. 
It was easy to perceive that the latter was full, that he 
had something on the brain, and I concluded he had 
additional tidings from Sheridan. But, the President 
being called out just as he entered, Stanton went and 
seated himself by Fessenden and conversed in an under- 
tone. He had remarked as he came in that he had sent for 
Mr. Seward. When Seward arrived, Stanton unfolded and 
read a telegram, stating two steamers had been captured 
on Lake Erie by Rebels from Canada. This he said was a 
matter that immediately concerned the State and Navy 
Departments. He inquired what naval force we had there. 
I told him I apprehended more than we were authorized to 
have by treaty stipulations. He inquired what the treaty 
was; said he knew nothing about that. Seward explained. 
Stanton wanted to know where the Michigan was. I told 
him she had lain at Johnson's Island most of the summer 
to aid the army and guard prisoners and my impression was 
that she was still there. As usual, he was excited, and, 
as usual, a little annoyed that I viewed the matter coolly. 
He soon left, and Seward also, each agreeing to let me 
know as soon as they had farther information. On my re- 



152 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 20 

turn to the Department I telegraphed to Commodore 
Rodgers in New York to hold himself in readiness to obey 
any orders, and also to Admiral Paulding to have one 
hundred picked men and officers ready to proceed on im- 
mediate service if required. I then called on Stanton, who 
agreed to furnish transportation for these men and four 
guns to Buffalo, if the occasion needed them, and he was 
confident it would, thought they had better be sent at 
all events, officers, men, and guns. I thought it premature 
but that we would be prepared. Just before leaving the 
Department for the day, Stanton sent me a dispatch just 
received, that some Rebel refugees had come on board the 
packet-boat Parsons at Maiden, the boat being on her way 
from Detroit to Sandusky; had risen on the officers and 
crew and seized the boat, had subsequently seized and sunk 
the Queen of the West, then run their own boat into a 
Canada port and disabled and then deserted her. I called 
on Stanton at the War Department on my way home and 
remarked the flurry was pretty well over, and the fuss 
ended. He did not, he said, consider it so by any means. 
One vessel was destroyed, and one was rushing over the 
lake and all our vast shipping on the Lakes was at its mercy. 
I requested him to reread the dispatch he had sent me. 
He did so, and was a little nonplussed; but said the pirate 
was there and would do the same thing over again. I 
thought not immediately. He thought they would at once, 
and we should be prepared by having two more naval ves- 
sels. The army had two, he said, which they would turn 
over to us. I remarked that we had best keep within the 
terms of the treaty, and call on the British authorities to 
do then* duty. I remarked this was a piece of robbery and 
could not be considered in any other light; that the robbers 
had come from Canada and risen upon the vessel upon 
which they had embarked, and had fled into Canada with 
the stolen property. The State Department had, or should 
have, the question now in hand. This, I perceived, was 
letting off the affair in too quiet a way to suit the Secretary 



1864] ROBERT C. WINTHROP 153 

of War, and I left him. He is always in an excited panic, a 
sensational condition, at such times. 

There was some conversation after the others left, be- 
tween the President, Blair, and myself chiefly by them 
in regard to men and things in Maryland. In the early 
days of the Administration, H. Winter Davis and his crew 
had been more regarded than they deserved. 

Some matters in Dakota were also alluded to. Todd, 
who succeeded in obtaining the seat of delegate over Dr. 
Jayne, brother-in-law of Trumbull, had undertaken to be 
exacting, and the President had told him so. I well remem- 
ber that early in the Administration Trumbull had pressed 
the appointment of his brother-in-law to that Territory, 
against the' wishes and convictions of the President. It 
appeared to me that Trumbull was unreasonable, but he 
then succeeded. His brother-in-law had just previously 
been elected to the Illinois Senate by seven votes in a dis- 
trict that was usually Democratic; his appointment com- 
pelled him to resign and a candidate of opposite politics 
was elected. The control of the legislature went into other 
hands; Richardson, an opponent of the Administration, was 
elected; 1 a quarrel then broke out in Nebraska between the 
two Jayne and Todd from Springfield, etc., etc. 

September 21, Wednesday. The victory of Sheridan has a 
party-political influence. It is not gratifying to the op- 
ponents of the Administration. Some who want to rejoice 
in it feel it difficult to do so, because they are conscious 
that it strengthens the Administration, to which they are 
opposed. The partisan feeling begins to show itself strongly 
among men of whom it was not expected. In New York 
there has been more of this than elsewhere. Robert C. 
Winthrop, once potent and powerful in Massachusetts, a 
man of position and of talent, not a great man, but a 
scholar of taste and pretension, a gentleman and states- 
man, made his appearance in New York, with Fernando 

1 To the United States Senate, William A. Richardson. 



154 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 21 

and Ben Wood, Rynders/and others, whom in other days 
he detested. Winthrop is a disappointed man. He had high 
aspirations and high expectations, and not without reason. 
Had he pursued a faithful, conscientious course, he would 
have won high official distinction and influence. But, con- 
fident of his strong position in New England and with the 
Whigs, he courted their enemies, repelled the Republicans 
and fell. As he swerved from the track, Sumner and others, 
who did not, perhaps, regret his error, stepped forward, and 
poor Winthrop in a very short time found that instead of 
gaming new friends he had lost old ones. For several years 
he felt very uncomfortable, and has now committed an- 
other great mistake. The National Intelligencer, which has 
endeavored to hold a position of dignified neutrality during 
this Administration, has finally given way and become 
strongly partisan. This I regret, for the editor has ability, 
and has made his paper respectable. His discussions of 
current and important questions have been highly credit- 
able and often instructive, and I cannot but think it un- 
fortunate that he should take an attitude which will injure 
him and his paper and do good to no one. 

Some attempt is made by the Richmond papers to help 
the cause of McCiellan by an affectation of dread of his 
superior military attainments and abilities and his greater 
zeal for the Union. The effort is so bald, so manifestly in- 
tended for their sympathizing friends, that no one can be 
deceived by it. There was a time when such stuff had a 
market in the North, but that time has gone by. 

September 22, Thursday. Senator Harris called on me. 
He is jubilant over Sheridan's success, but much disturbed 
by the miserable intrigues of Weed and Seward in the city 
of New York. Says he has told the President frankly of his 
error, that he has only given a little vitality to Weed, whose 
influence has dwindled to nothing, and would have entirely 
perished but for the help which the President has given 
1 Isaiah Rynders, a local politician of New York. 



1864] WEED AND SEWARD MANOEUVRING 155 

him. This he is aware has been effected through Seward, 
who is a part of Weed. The removal of Andrews as Naval 
Officer, the appointment of Wakernan to his place, causing 
Wakernan to leave the post-office, into which they have 
thrust Kelly, an old fiddler for Seward in other years, is a 
Weed operation. Seward carried it out. 

Blair tells me that Weed is manoeuvring for a change of 
Cabinet, and Morgan so writes me. He has for that reason, 
B. says, set his curs and hounds barking at my heels and is 
trying to prejudice the President against me. Not unlikely, 
but I can go into no counter-intrigues. If the President 
were to surrender himself into such hands, which I do 
not believe, he would be unworthy his position. He has 
yielded more than his own good sense would have prompted 
him already. For several months there has been a pretended 
difference between Seward and Weed; for a much longer 
period there has been an ostensible hostility between Weed 
and Sim Draper. I have never for a moment believed in 
the reality of these differences ; but I am apprehensive the 
President is in a measure, or to some extent, deceived by 
them. He gives himself too much, I sometimes think 
into the keeping of Seward, who is not always truthful, not 
sensitively scrupulous, but a schemer, while Weed, his 
second part, and of vastly more vigor of mind, is reckless 
and direct, persistent and tortuous, avaricious of late, and 
always corrupt. We have never been intimate. I do not 
respect him, and he well knows it. Yet I have never treated 
him with disrespect, nor given him cause of enmity, except 
by avoiding intimacy and by declining to yield to improper 
schemes of himself and his friends. On one occasion, at an 
early period of the Administration, Mr. Seward volun- 
teered to say that he always acted in concert with Weed, 
that " Seward 's Weed and Weed's Seward." If, as Blair 
supposes, Weed is operating against me, Seward probably 
is also, and yet I have seen no evidence of it, certainly 
none recently. 



156 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 23 

September 23, Friday. No business of importance brought 
before the Cabinet to-day. Some newspaper rumors of 
peace, and of letters from Jeff Davis and others, all wholly 
groundless. Seward and Fessenden left early. Mr. Bates 
and myself came out of the Executive Mansion together 
and were holding a moment's conversation, when Blair 
joined us, remarking as he did so, " I suppose you are both 
aware that my head is decapitated, that I am no longer 
a member of the Cabinet." It was necessary he should re- 
peat before I could comprehend what I heard. I inquired 
what it meant, and how long he had had the subject sub- 
mitted or suggested to him. He said never until to-day; 
that he came in this morning from Silver Spring and found 
this letter from the President for him. He took the letter 
from his pocket and read the contents, couched in 
friendly terms, reminding him that he had frequently 
stated he was ready to leave the Cabinet when the Pre- 
sident thought it best, etc., etc., and informing him the 
time had arrived. The remark that he was willing to leave 
I have heard both him and Mr. Bates make more than 
once. It seemed to me unnecessary, for when the President 
desires the retirement of any one of his advisers, he would 
undoubtedly carry his wishes into effect. There is no Cab- 
inet officer who would be willing to remain against the wishes 
or purposes of the President, whether right or wrong. 

I asked Blair what led to this step, for there must be a 
reason for it. He said he had no doubt he was a peace- 
offering to Fremont and his friends. They wanted an offer- 
ing, and he was the victim whose sacrifice would propitiate 
them. The resignation of Fremont and Cochrane was re- 
ceived yesterday, and the President, commenting on it, 
said F. had stated "the Administration was a failure, po- 
litically, militarily, and financially," that this included the 
Secretaries of State, Treasury, War, and Postmaster-Gen- 
eral, and he thought the Interior, but not the Navy or the 
Attorney-General. As Blair and myself walked away to- 
gether toward the western gate, I told him the suggestion 




MONTGOMERY BLAIR 



1864] BLAIR LEAVES THE CABINET 157 

of pacifying the partisans of Fremont might, have been 
brought into consideration, but it was not the moving 
cause; that the President would never have yielded to that, 
except under the pressing advisement, or deceptive appeals 
and representations of some one to whom he had given his 
confidence. "Oh," said Blair, "there is no -doubt Seward 
was accessory to this, instigated and stimulated by Weed." 
This was the view that presented itself to my mind, the 
moment he informed me he was to leave, but on reflection 
I am not certain that Chase has not been more influential 
than Seward in this matter. In parting with Blair the Pre- 
sident parts with a true friend, and he leaves no adviser so 
able, bold, sagacious. Honest, truthful, and sincere, he has 
been wise, discriminating, and correct. Governor Denni- 
son, who is to succeed him, is, I think, a good man, and I 
know of no better one to have selected. 

Blair has just left me. I was writing and just closing the 
preceding page as he called. He says he has written his 
resignation and sent it in or rather handed it to the Pre- 
sident. The letter from the President which he received 
this morning was to him entirely unexpected. But, though 
a surprise, he thinks it right and will eventuate well. That 
Seward has advised it he does not doubt, though the Pre- 
sident does not intimate it. But the President tells him that 
Washburne recommended it. Strange if the President is 
influenced by so untruthful, unreliable, and mean a man as 
Washburne. But Washburne thinks it will help the Pre- 
sident among the Germans. The President thinks it is ne- 
cessary to conciliate Weed (he might have said Chase also) 
who, with his friends, defeated Wadsworth for Governor 
two years ago. Such are Blair's conclusions and, I may 
add, my own. Yet I cannot but think there must be some- 
thing ulterior, for it is unlike the President to dismiss an 
acknowledged and true friend, a public officer who has, he 
says, discharged his duties well and against whom there is 
no complaint. Why, then, is he dismissed or asked to re- 
sign, when there is no cause? My impression is that the 



158 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 23 

President does not intend to part with Blair, and I shall be 
disappointed if he is not recalled, perhaps to some other 
position in the Cabinet, perhaps to act in an important 
capacity for the restoration of the Union. But this is all 
speculative. 1 

September 24, Saturday. Sheridan follows up his work, 
and bids fair to disperse and annihilate Early's entire 
army. The effect of his successive victories has been a 
great fall in the price of gold, or an appreciation of paper 
currency. We are, I think, approaching the latter days of 
the Rebellion. The discomfiture of Early is likely to make 
Lee's continuance in Richmond uncomfortable, yet where 
can he go to make a more effectual stand? Some indica- 
tions of a desire on the part of the authorities of Georgia to 
effect a restoration, are more than intimated, and a prev- 
alent feeling of despondency is manifest throughout the 
Rebel region. An effective blow by Grant at Richmond or 
the retreat of the Rebel army will be the falling in of the 
crater. 

September 26, Monday. The consuls in London, Liver- 

1 At a subsequent period the President informed me that Mr. Chase had 
many friends who felt wounded that he should have left the Cabinet, and 
left alone. The Blairs had been his assailants, but they remained and were 
a part of the Administration. This Mr. C. and his friends thought invidious, 
and the public would consider it a condemnation of himself and an approval 
of the Blairs. If Montgomery Blair left the Cabinet, Chase and his friends 
would be satisfied, and this he (the President) thought would reconcile all 
parties, and rid the Administration of irritating bickerings. He considered 
both of them his friends, and thought it was well, as Chase had left, that 
Blair should go also. They were both in his confidence still, and he had great 
regard for each of them. 

The relations of Stanton with Blair were such that it was difficult for the 
two to remain and preserve the unity and freedom necessary for good ad- 
ministration and social intercourse. It was not Seward's policy to advise the 
dismissal of Blair, but he would strenuously urge that Stanton, between 
whom and Blair there was hostility, should be retained. At this time the 
President was greatly embarrassed by contentions among his friends, by 
nominal Republicans, by intense radicals, and the strong front of the Demo- 
crats. G. W. 



1864] COTTON-TRADING IN TEXAS 159 

pool, etc., report a probable change of tactics by the Rebels 
in fitting out fast-sailing privateers to depredate on our 
commerce. It is a policy that has been a constant source of 
apprehension to me from the time it was determined to 
have a blockade an international process instead of 
closing the ports, which is a domestic question. The Rebels 
failed to push the privateering scheme, as I have always 
believed under secret admonitions from England and 
France. Those governments have not conformed to the 
extent expected to Rebel views, and not unlikely a demon- 
stration may be made on our commerce, perhaps on some 
one of our light-armed blockaders by a combination of two 
or three of their purchased cruisers. 

September -27, Tuesday. Received mail from Admiral 
Farragut. Among his dispatches one confidential, inclos- 
ing a letter from General Canby, who had received a singu- 
lar order signed by the President, directing that one A. J. 
Hamilton should be permitted to export cotton from Sa- 
bine Pass, Galveston, etc., himself, and that Hamilton's 
written order should be a permit for others to export. As 
General Canby, to whom this document was directed, has 
no control over the squadron, he had inclosed the Presid- 
ent's order to Admiral Farragut. The Admiral had trans- 
mitted it to the senior officer off Galveston, and communi- 
cated copies of the whole correspondence to me, remarking 
that it would lead to immense swindling. 

I submitted this extraordinary document to the Presid- 
ent, and remarked as I did so, that in the discussions that 
had taken place on this subject on two or three occasions 
within the last six weeks, and since this order (dated, I 
think, the 9th of August) was issued, no allusion had been 
made to it, that it conflicted with the blockade which the 
Department was obliged to enforce, and that I was sur- 
prised on receiving the information. The President seemed 
embarrassed but said he believed it was all right. "How 
right?" I inquired. He said it was one of Seward's ar- 



160 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 27 

rangements, that he guessed would come out well enough; 
but evidently did not himself know, or, if he knew, was 
unwilling or unable to explain. 

This is another specimen of the maladministration and 
improper interference of the Secretary of State. Com- 
mencing with the first expedition sent out to supply Sum- 
ter, which he took measures to defeat, there has been on 
his part a constant succession of wrong acts, impertinent 
intrigues in the affairs of other Departments, blunders 
and worse than blunders, that disgrace the Administra- 
tion. There is unmistakable rascality in this cotton order. 
Thurlow Weed was here about the time it was issued, and 
it will not surprise me if he has an interest in it. 

Seward thinks to keep his own name out of the transac- 
tion. The President has been made to believe that the 
order was essential; the Secretary of State has so presented 
the subject to him that he probably thought it a duty. 
There are times when I can hardly persuade myself that 
the President's natural sagacity has been so duped, but his 
confidence in Seward is great, although he must know him 
to be, I will not say a trickster, because of his position and 
our association, but over-cunning to be strictly honest. 
And when I say this, I do not apply to him dishonesty in 
money transactions when dealing with men, or the gov- 
ernment perhaps, but political cheating, deceiving, wrong 
administration. He knows this scheme to bring out cotton 
was a fraud, and hence, instead of coming directly to me, 
who have charge of the blockade, or bringing the question 
before the Cabinet in a frank and honorable manner, there 
is this secret, roundabout proceeding, so characteristic of 
the Secretary of State. 

He insisted on a blockade at the beginning. Would not 
listen to closing the ports. Would make it an international, 
not permit it to be a domestic, question. Now, in violation 
of international law and of fair and honorable blockade, he 
and his friends are secretly bringing out cotton from Texas. 
This is not in good faith, but is prostituting the govern- 



1864] ACTING ADMIRAL LEE'S CASE 161 

ment and its 'action. I regret that Farragut did not disre- 
gard the order until it came to him legitimately through 
the proper channel. 

Had a call from my old friend the elder Blair. It was not 
unexpected. Detaching Lee from the North Atlantic 
Squadron I supposed would cause dissatisfaction to Lee, 
who would, through his wife, stimulate her father to make 
an effort in his behalf. The old man got word to-day that 
Lee was detached and hastened to me. He thought himself 
hard used in the blows that fell upon his children. Frank 
had been smitten for exposing Fre'mont and Chase. Mont- 
gomery had been dismissed from the Cabinet, and simul- 
taneously Lee had been detached from his command after 
two years' faithful service. I told him the case appeared a 
hard one as he presented it; that I felt the removal of Mont- 
gomery from our counsels as the greatest misfortune that 
had befallen the Cabinet, but my consolation was that it 
would only be temporary and he would certainly soon have 
as honorable a position; that Frank had done and was 
doing great service, which the country would, if it did not 
already, appreciate; that Lee was not degraded in being 
assigned to another command. I knew him to be cautious 
and vigilant, but not, perhaps, the man for an immediate 
demonstration, an assault requiring prompt action. He 
had labored well, and in a pecuniary point of view been 
better paid than any man in the Navy. 

The old man wanted me to recommend him for promo- 
tion to a full commission as rear-admiral, but that, I told 
him, followed deserving action. It must be earned. 

Acting Admiral Lee has acquitted himself very well, 
has discharged his duties intelligently and firmly. But he 
can never be a great commander. While he has adminis- 
tered the affairs of his squadron safely, he has failed to 
devise and execute any important act. The same oppor- 
tunities in the hands of Porter, or Foote, or Farragut, and, 
I think, of John Rodgers, would have shown vastly more 
important results. His caution runs into timidity. He is 
2 



162 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. 27 

avaricious and ambitious, I fear ungenerous and illiberal ; 
is destitute of heroic daring. 

September 28, Wednesday. I called to-day on Secretary 
Fessenden with Farragut's dispatch and the order of the 
President permitting A. J. Hamilton of Texas to bring out 
cotton, to the Treasury agent. He disclaims all knowledge 
of the transaction and says he will not recognize it. Looks 
upon it as an outrageous swindle, violating the blockade, 
and imposing upon the country. "Why," he pertinently 
inquires, "was not this question, so important, not sub- 
mitted to the whole Cabinet." He was very earnest and 
wished me to again inquire of the President in regard to it. 

Had an interview with Attorney-General Bates respect- 
ing some questions submitted to him for opinion. The old 
gentleman is very honest and right-minded; delights to be 
thought a little or a good deal obstinate, if satisfied he 
is right. 

The finding of a court martial in the case of Commander 
Downes of the R. R. Cuyler, which ran short of fuel, and 
he, instead of using his sails and striving to get into port, 
proceeded to dismantle his vessel, burning his spars, gun- 
carriages, caissons, etc., bought lumber from on board a 
merchant vessel on its way to Cuba; and for all this sends 
hi a dispatch complaining of his engineer and preferring 
charges against him, without any seeming consciousness 
that he was responsible himself, or blamable. But the 
court condemns Downes and dismisses him from the serv- 
ice. The sentence is severe but correct, though the pun- 
ishment may be mitigated. It is necessary, however, to 
correct a rising error among a certain class of officers who 
are inclined to relieve the commander of a ship of responsi- 
bility, a pernicious error that would, if acquiesced in, 
demoralize the service. That his engineer was in fault is 
doubtless true, but the commander must make himself 
acquainted with the condition of his vessel and its equip- 
ment. Downes has proved himself an officer of merit in 



1864] NEVADA ADOPTS A CONSTITUTION 163 

some respects, and it must be remembered to his credit at a 
time when a great failing has put him in jeopardy. 

September 29, Thursday. The appointments to the Naval 
Academy are a great annoyance and often a great embar- 
rassment. Of course the Secretary is much blamed for 
every disappointment, although he has none but contingent 
appointments. Persons often apply to the President, who is 
restricted in his appointments, but who gives a favorable 
indorsement to almost all. Each considers this abundant 
to secure him a place, and denounces me if he does not 
succeed. 

I again spoke to the President in relation to his order to 
A. J. Hamilton, and remarked to him that it was in conflict 
with the blockade. He was disturbed, and said Seward had 
fixed that up, and he presumed it was right. "Suppose 
you see Seward yourself," said he. This I must do, but to 
little purpose, I apprehend. 

The great fall in gold within a few days begins to effect 
prices. In other words, commodities are getting nearer 
their actual value by the true money standard. Recent 
victories have largely contributed to this, but there are 
other causes, and I think Fessenden may be a more correct 
financier than Chase, but neither is exactly fitted for the 
place. 

September 30, Friday. 'At the Cabinet-meeting Seward 
produced a telegram from Governor Nye of the Nevada 
Territory, stating that the new constitution had been 
adopted by the people, and desired the President to issue 
a proclamation announcing the fact pursuant to law. The 
telegram stated the vote, which was very decisive, and 
Seward thought sufficient was done by the Governor in 
sending this word to authorize the President to act ; but the 
latter queried whether he ought not first to see the consti- 
tution, and know what were its provisions, and whether a 
more formal communication than a telegraphic dispatch 



164 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [SEPT. so 

ought not to be received. Seward, however, was, in his 
loose way of treating the most important questions, ready 
to act, said almost everything was done nowadays by 
telegraph. He received and sent the most important com- 
munications in that way, and presumed the other Depart- 
ments did also, and turned to Fessenden as if to have him 
verify the fact. Fessenden said, however, with some sharp- 
ness, the President would do as he pleased, but that he, 
Fessenden, would not put his name to a proclamation 
under such circumstances, but would have, in a proper 
form, the fact. 

The President, differing with Seward, yet unwilling to 
give dissatisfaction, told him he might prepare a procla- 
mation, and in the mean time he would examine the laws 
and consider the subject. No reasons were given for the 
extreme haste exhibited. Seward said the Governor was 
very anxious about it, and Nye, a Democrat of former 
years, is one of his pets and somewhat thick of late with 
both him and Weed. I suggested that if the people had 
framed and adopted their constitution, and it was not in- 
consistent with the Federal Constitution, it was and would 
be their form of government, whether the President enun- 
ciated the fact a few days earlier or not, that being a mere 
ministerial act. But, supposing there was some objection- 
able feature, that they had extended or altered the pre- 
scribed boundaries, or inserted some improper provisions, 
the President might feel himself greatly embarrassed if 
he acted without knowledge. 

This, however, is a specimen of the manner in which the 
Secretary of State administers affairs. He would have 
urged on the President to this unwise proceeding to gratify 
one of his favorites. It is a trait in his character. 



XXIV 

Seward and the Texas Cotton Matter Arranging for an Exchange of 
Uf Naval Prisoners Fessenden on the Naval Officers Relations of 
Fessenden, Stanton, and Seward The Bounty to enlisting Marines 
Death of Judge Taney A Call from General Banks Getting the 
Election Returns Cabinet Discussion of the President's Message, 
especially as to Reconstruction The Discovery of Gold in the Terri- 
tories and the Treasury's Fiscal Policy Discussion of the Chief-Jus- 
ticeship of the Supreme Court Resignation of Attorney-General 
Bates Solicitor Whiting's Aspirations Judge Taney 's Compli- 
ment to the Navy Department The Case of the Captured Confeder- 
ate Cruiser Florida The Attitude of the New York Evening Post 
towards the Navy Department Political Tour of Governors Morgan 
and Morrill before the Election The Labor of preparing an Annual 
Report Proposal that the Navy Department take a Ship building in 
the United States for Japan. 

October 1, Saturday. The President yesterday made in- 
quiry of me as to the disposition made of Farragut. In- 
formed me that General Canby wanted him to remain at 
Mobile, and that F. preferred doing so to coming to Wil- 
mington. I told him Farragut was relieved of the latter 
duty, and he could remain as long as he pleased in the Gulf. 
This morning the President called at the Navy Department 
and made further inquiry. Said that Halleck and Sherman 
had some movements on hand, and the War Department 
also, and would like to know if F. could remain. I told him 
he could. 

Shortly after he left, two dispatches from Admiral Far- 
ragut came on to my table, received by this morning's 
mail, in which he expressed decided aversion to taking 
command at Wilmington. 

These dispatches inform me that General Canby has an 
expedition on foot for the capture of Mobile, that he is 
getting troops for this purpose, etc., all of which has been 
studiously kept from the Navy Department, and now 



166 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. i 

when ready to move, they are embarrassed. I immediately 
went over to the War Department and the President was 
there. He was, I soon saw, but slightly informed of the 
proposed army movement, but Stanton and Halleck, find- 
ing they had refined too much, had communicated hastily 
with him, in order that he should see me. 

All this is bad administration. There will be want of 
unity and concert under such management. It is not be- 
cause the President has any want of confidence in his 
Cabinet, but Seward and Stanton both endeavor to avoid 
Cabinet consultations on questions of their own Depart- 
ments. It has been so from the beginning on the part of 
the Secretary of State, who spends more or less of every 
day with the President and worms from him all the inform- 
ation he possesses and can be induced to impart. A dis- 
position to constantly intermeddle with other Depart- 
ments, to pry into them and often to control and sometimes 
counteract them, has manifested itself throughout, often 
involving himself and others in difficulty. Chase for some 
time was annoyed that things were so but at length went 
into competition for the President's ear and company. He 
did not succeed, however, as against Seward, though adopt- 
ing his policy of constant attendance. Stanton has been 
for the departmental system always. Pressing, assuming, 
violent, and impatient, intriguing, harsh, and arbitrary, he 
is often exceedingly offensive in his manners, deportment, 
and many of his acts. 

A majority of the friends of the Administration in the 
last Congress was opposed to the President, but his oppo- 
nents were the cronies and intimates of Stanton, or Chase, 
who, however, were not cordial towards one another or in 
anything but in their hostility to the President. Stanton 
kept on more intimate terms with the President, while 
his friends were the most violent in their enmity. Wade, 
Winter Davis, and men of that description were Stanton's 
particular favorites and in constant consultation with 
him. 



1864] SEWARD AND THE TEXAS COTTON 167 

October 3, Monday. Had an interview with Seward, 
agreeable to the wishes of the President, concerning the 
order to A. J. Hamilton for bringing out cotton. I per- 
ceived that S. was prepared for me, and had expected an 
earlier call. He said that the scheme was one by which cer- 
tain important persons in the Rebel cause were to be con- 
verted. Had himself not much faith that it would amount 
to anything, and yet it might. The President believed 
there would be results; but had been very confidential and 
secret in all that was done. He (S.) had drawn up the order 
carefully by special request of the President, but had never 
communicated to anyone but Stanton what had been done. 
Some time since Stanton had got some inkling of the sub- 
ject and had directly applied to him for information, and 
when this was done he did not feel at liberty to withhold 
from a colleague intelligence sought. But he at once in- 
formed the President that he had told Stanton. Nothing 
had yet been done, and nothing farther said, until I had 
brought up the subject. I remarked that the subject was 
of a character which seemed to deserve general consulta- 
tion in the Cabinet, for three of the members besides him- 
self were concerned in its executions; that I was especially 
so, it being my special duty to prevent intercourse with the 
Rebels and enforce the blockade. But this order conflicted 
with that duty, was not in good faith, I apprehended, with 
others of our people, or with foreign powers. I told him I 
had made inquiries of Fessenden, for the order expressly 
referred to the Treasury agents, and they would of course 
report to him. Seward said there was no interference with 
the blockade. He had prepared the order with great care 
and sent one copy to General Canby, and one to Admiral 
Farragut, and proposed to send and get it for my perusal, 
give me a copy if I wished. I told him I already had a copy, 
which seemed to surprise him. He appeared not to be aware 
that it was the duty of a naval officer to communicate his 
official acts to the Navy Department; that all the three 
Departments must come into possession of this confidential 



circular, ana not uniiKeiy it would go into trie courts. ie 
is not yet dispossessed of his early error that the govern- 
ment can be carried on by executive order regardless of 
Department or laws. 

October 4, Tuesday. But little at the Cabinet of special 
importance. Governor Dennison, the new Postmaster- 
General, for the first time took his seat. 

Late in the afternoon the President called upon me to 
inquire respecting arrangements for a proposed exchange 
of naval prisoners which was making some disturbance at 
the War Department and with General Butler. For some 
.fifteen months our naval officers and men who had been 
captured remained in Rebel prisons. Their number was not 
large, but the omission to exchange, whether from neglect 
or design, was justly causing dissatisfaction. For more than 
a year I had, at various times, made inquiry of the Secre- 
tary of War and at the War Department, generally oral, 
but sometimes by letter, and received evasive answers, of 
difficulties on account of remoteness, of unusual prisoners, 
of refusal by the Rebels to exchange negroes, but with 
assurances that matters would be soon adjusted. Some of 
our men we had learned were in irons and in close confine- 
ment, with slight prospect of relief. I gave the President 
briefly the facts, that there had been no exchange of 
naval prisoners for fourteen or fifteen months, that in the 
exchanges going on no naval prisoners were embraced, that 
appeals earnest and touching had been made to me by our 
prisoners and by theirs, but I had been able to afford no 
relief. 

An informal correspondence after months of unavailing 
effort through the War Department channel had sprung 
up between Mr. Fox and Webb, who commanded the 
Atlanta, and was a prisoner in Fort Warren, they having 
been some years ago shipmates. Fox had written Webb 
in reply to an application for release that we were willing to 
exchange but the Rebel authorities would not. This had 



1864] EXCHANGE OF NAVAL PRISONERS 169 

led the Rebel prisoners in Fort Warren to write most earn- 
estly to Richmond. A few weeks since Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Williams had been released at Charleston, and sent 
to our fleet under flag of truce with thirty days' leave to 
effect an exchange, and brought me a letter from Mallory, 
" Secretary Confederate Navy," stating he had not re- 
ceived letters which had been sent, but accepting a propo- 
sition to exchange naval officers, and proposing himself to 
exchange all naval prisoners. This had been assented to by 
us, and we now sent orders for the Circassian to proceed with 
a hundred or two prisoners to Port Royal and bring home 
our men. But after instructions had been sent to Boston for 
them to go by the Circassian, we had received by telegram 
from Ould 1 word that the yellow fever prevailed at Charles- 
ton, with a suggestion that the proper exchange could take 
place on the James River. When this suggestion was made, 
I objected to it from an impression that it would come 
within the army cartel and cause difficulty, but after dis- 
cussing the subject with Mr. Fox, who dwelt on the infec- 
tion, getting yellow fever in the squadron and at Port 
Royal, and some conversation with General Hitchcock, I 
reluctantly yielded assent. Word had been sent to our 
senior officer, Melancthon Smith, on the James, who had 
communicated with Butler, and hence the difficulty. 

October 5, Wednesday. The President came to see me 
pretty early this morning in relation to the exchange of 
prisoners. It had troubled him through the night. I was at 
no loss to perceive that behind the subject of exchange 
there were matters undisclosed to me. He read again this 
morning the closing remarks of a long telegram from But- 
ler. I have no question there were improper remarks in 
that dispatch which they at the War Department were un- 
willing either Mr. Fox or myself should see, for I called 
Fox in to have all the facts disclosed. He and Webb had, 
by their correspondence, led to the late movement, which 

1 Acting for the Confederate government. 



170 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 5 

was, however, humane and right. The President said he 
wanted the subject to be got along with harmoniously, that 
they were greatly ruffled at the War Department, and if I 
had no objection he would go and see Seward, tell him the 
facts, get him to come over, and bring the Secretary of War 
and all in interest to a consultation. I told him I had no 
objection, nor any feeling, as it affected myself, on the sub- 
ject. All I wanted was our imprisoned men. 

In less than an hour the President returned with Seward. 
We went briefly over the question and read to him Mai- 
lory's letter. After discussing the subject, went, by request 
of the President, with him to the War Department. Gen- 
eral Hitchcock and General Halleck came in soon. Stanton 
was ill-mannered, as usual, where things did not please him, 
and on one or two occasions a little offensive. Did not 
know why there should be different exchanges; the Rebels 
would not recognize negroes. I told him that, while general 
cartel was neglected, the army were making exchanges here, 
and by Butler on the James, Sherman at Atlanta, Canby 
at New Orleans, and Foster at Hilton Head. I thought it 
proper and felt it my duty to see that the naval men were 
not entirely neglected. That no question as regards color 
had ever come up in regard to naval exchange ; that colored 
men in our service were not a distinct organization, etc., 
etc. It was, he said, our duty to prevent Rebel masters 
from reclaiming slaves who had been in our service. He 
thought I ought not to write the Confederate Secretary of 
the Navy, recognizing him as Secretary. That the slave- 
owners would insist on retaining and reclaiming their 
slaves wherever and whenever they could, I had no doubt. 
It was a question of property, and of local and legal right 
with them which we could not prevent. It was a compli- 
cated and embarrassing question, but he must not suppose, 
nor would the country permit our countrymen to suffer in 
captivity on such a question. To absolutely stop exchanges 
because owners held on to their slaves when they got them 



1864] EXCHANGE OF NAVAL PRISONERS 171 

As regarded Mallory, I told him I had carefully avoided 
giving him a title, that I had written to the Hon. Mr. 
Mallory in answer to a communication I had received. 

The President said that the correspondence was a past 
transaction, that we need not disturb that matter; the 
Navy arrangement must go forward, and the Navy have 
its men. He wrote and read a brief letter to General Grant 
proposing to turn over the prisoners we had sent to him. 
After reading it he asked for comments and opinions. 
General Hitchcock, a man of warm sympathies but little 
moral courage, began a speech, sycophantic to Stanton, in- 
timating that the War Department should have exclusive 
control of the cartel, etc. I told him I was perfectly willing 
and desired it, if they would not obstruct the exchange but 
get back our men. All assented to the President's letter. 
Stanton and Seward preferred it should be addressed to 
General Butler instead of General Grant, but the Presid- 
ent preferred addressing the General-in-Chief and I com- 
mended his preference. We telegraphed Capt. Melancthon 
Smith, to turn the prisoners over to General Grant to be 
disposed of. 

In the course of the conversation, Stanton, who began 
to feel that his position might not stand, said he had known 
nothing about these exchanges. I told him we had written 
him requesting that the Rebel prisoners at different points 
might be sent to Fort Warren in order to be exchanged. 
General Hitchcock, his commissioner, had been consulted 
in the matter, and had communicated with Mr. Fox, to 
whom had been given the charge of details for the Navy, as 
General Hitchcock had them for the War Department. 
General Hitchcock himself had proposed that we should 
take some one or two army men on board the Circassian as 
a special favor. After this matter was disposed of, and be- 
fore leaving the room, Seward spoke aside to the President 
and also to the Secretary of War, stating he had appointed 
a meeting between them and Weed and Raymond, who 
were in the building, he had no doubt. As I came out of the 



172 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 5 

Secretary's apartment, Weed was in the opposite room, 
and evidently saw me, for he immediately stepped aside so 
as not to be seen. It was not an accidental move, but 
hastily and awkwardly done. They waited half behind the 
door until we passed out. 

October 6, Thursday. Admiral Porter has arrived from 
Cairo and proceeds to-morrow to Hampton Roads to take 
command of the North Atlantic Squadron. It is with re- 
luctance that he comes into this transfer, but yet he 
breathes not an objection. I should not have mentioned 
the circumstance but for the fact that many put a false 
construction upon it. He will have a difficult task to per- 
form and not the thanks he will deserve, I fear, if success- 
ful, but curses if he fails. 

October 7, Friday. The President was not at his house 
to-day. Mr. Bates had said to me that the President told 
him there was no special business. Nevertheless, I preferred 
soon after twelve to walk over, having some little business 
of my own. Fessenden, Usher, and myself arrived about 
the same moment, and we had half an hour's friendly talk. 
In the course of it, Fessenden took an occasion to pass an 
opinion upon certain naval officers, showing the prejudiced 
partisan rather than the enlightened minister and states- 
man. Farragut, he said, was the only naval officer who has 
exhibited any skill and ability; there were undoubtedly 
other officers, but they had not been brought out. I in- 
quired what he thought of Foote. "Well, I allude more 
particularly to the living," said he, "but what is Lee, that 
you have kept him in? Is there any reason except his re- 
lationship to the Blairs and to Fox?" he knew of no 
other reason. I inquired when Lee had been remiss, and 
asked him if he knew that Montgomery Blair and Lee were 
not on speaking terms and had not been for years. He 
seemed surprised and said he was not. I told him such was 
the case; that he had never expressed a wish in Lee's be- 



1864] FESSENDEN, STANTON, AND SEWARD 173 

half to me, or manifested any gratification at that selection, 
but on the contrary, I knew Blair had thought, with him, 
that it was an appointment not judicious. I did not tell F. 
of the narrow animosity of Lee towards Fox. But all this 
spleen came, I knew, from the War Department and cer- 
tain influences connected with it. Dahlgren he also de- 
nounced, yet when I inquired if he had ever investigated 
the subject, if he was aware that Dahlgren had maintained 
an efficient blockade, while Du Pont, whom he half com- 
plimented, had not [sic]. "Then," said I, " what do you say 
of Porter ? " He admitted that he had thought pretty well 
of Porter until he begun to gather in cotton, and run a race 
with Banks to get it instead of doing his duty. I told him 
this was ungenerous and, I apprehended, a sad mistake on 
his part. The whole tenor of the conversation left no doubt 
on my mind that Stanton, Winter Davis, Wade, Chase, the 
thieving Treasury agents and speculators had imposed on 
Fessenden. 

. . . Fessenden is, in some personal matters, very much 
of a partisan, and his partisan feelings have made him the 
victim of a very cunning intrigue. He dislikes Seward, and 
yet is, through other instrumentalities, the creature to 
some extent of Seward. 

Stanton, having been brought into the Cabinet by Sew- 
ard, started out as a radical. Chase and others were de- 
ceived by his pretensions at the beginning, but some time 
before leaving the Cabinet, Chase found a part of his mis- 
take. Fessenden and others have not yet. They suppose 
Stanton is with them; Seward knows better. I have no 
doubt but Stanton when with Fessenden, Wade, and others 
acquiesces and participates in their expressed views against 
Seward. Hating Blair, it has grieved Stanton that Lee, the 
brother-in-law of Blair, should have command, and Fes- 
senden has been impressed accordingly. Himself inclined 
to radicalism on the slavery issue, though in other respects 
conservative, Fessenden, who is in full accord with Chase. 



174 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 7 

sented as the friend of Seward. Yet Blair has no more con- 
fidence in, or regard for, Seward than Fessenden has, and I f 
have been surprised that he should acquiesce in the errone- | 
ous impression that is abroad. It is easy to perceive why I 
Seward should favor the impression alluded to. Blair was [ 
ready to accept the denunciatory resolution of the Balti- 
more convention as aimed at him, whereas it was intended 
more particularly for Seward. The Missouri radicals are 
some who were deceived by the impression that Seward | 
and Blair were a unit. In the convention there was a de- \ 
termination to get rid of Mr. Seward, but the managers, i 
under the contrivance of Raymond, who has shrewdness, : 
so shaped the resolution as to leave it pointless, or as not | 
more direct against Seward than against Blair, or by others I 
against Chase and Stanton. 1 

October 10, Monday. Advised with the President in re- j 
gard to a proceeding of the late Colonel Harris, who offered j 
a bounty, or directed the recruiting officer to promise a | 
bounty, of $100 to each marine who should enlist. It came } 
to my knowledge in July, 1863, and I prohibited it, because ! 
it would create dissatisfaction with the sailors. The legal 
point I did not examine, but I was opposed to it as impol- I 
itic and inexpedient. In reply to my inquiries as to when ! 
he commenced giving this bounty, he said in June, and I 
supposed it was the preceding June and therefore covered 
but one month, the bounty to be paid after two years 
service. But I now learn it commenced in June, 1862, and 
consequently covers thirteen, instead of 'one month, and 
that there are over eleven hundred so enlisted. I decided 
they must be discharged or paid the bounty, and as there 
was a question as to the legality of the bounty, I thought it 
best, so long as I supposed there was only one month's en- 
listment, to discharge, but when I ascertained it was for 
more than a year and embraced over eleven hundred, I 
thought best to reexamine the whole subject with the 
President. He concurs with me and decides it is best to 
pay the bounty, 



on me this forenoon relative to New York voters in the 
Navy. Wanted one of our boats to be placed at the disposal 
of the New York commission to gather votes in the Mis- 
sissippi Squadron. A Mr. Jones was referred to, who sub- 
sequently came to me with a line from the President, and 
wanted also to send to the blockading squadrons. Gave 
permission to go by the Circassian, and directed command- 
ers to extend facilities to all voters. 

Much is said and done in regard to the soldier's vote, and 
many of the States not only have passed laws but altered 
their constitutions to permit it. The subject is one that has 
not struck me favorably. I have not, perhaps, given it the 
consideration that I ought, certainly not enough to ad- 
vocate it, and yet it seems ungracious to oppose it. Were 
I to vote on this question at all, I should, with my present 
impressions, vote against it. 

October 12, Wednesday. Returns of the elections from 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana come in to-day. They 
look very well, particularly the two latter. Pennsylvania 
does not quite come up to my expectations. The city of 
Philadelphia has done very well, but in too many of the 
counties there are Democratic gains, not such, perhaps, 
as to overcome the Union majorities, but will much reduce 
them. 

October 13, Thursday. The President is greatly impor- 
tuned and pressed by cunning intrigues just at this time. 
Thurlow Weed and Raymond are abusing his confidence 
and good nature badly. Hay says they are annoying the 
President sadly. This he tells Mr. Fox, who informs me. 
They want, Hay says, to control the Navy Yard but dis- 
like to come to me, for I give them no favorable response. 
They claim that every mechanic or laborer who does not 
support the Administration should be turned out of em- 
ployment. Hay's representations alarmed Fox, who made 



176 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 13 

it a point to call on the President. F. reports that the Pre- 
sident was feeling very well over the election returns, and, 
on the subject of the Navy Yard votes, expressed his inten- 
tion of not further interfering but will turn the whole mat- 
ter over to me whenever the politicians call upon him. I 
have no doubt he thinks so, but when Weed and Raymond, 
backed by Seward, insist that action must be taken, he 
will hardly know how to act. His convictions and good 
sense will place him with me, but they will alarm him with 
forebodings of disaster if he is not vindictive. Among 
other things an appeal has been made to him in behalf of 
Scofield, a convicted fraudulent contractor, who is now in 
prison to serve out his sentence. Without consulting me, 
the President has referred the subject to Judge-Advocate- 
General Holt, to review and report to him. Holt knows 
nothing of the case, and, with his other duties, cannot ex- 
amine this matter thoroughly. Why should the President 
require him, an officer of another Department, wholly un- 
acquainted with the subject, to report upon it? There are 
probably two thousand pages of manuscript. The New 
York party jobbers are in this thing. They will . . . try to 
procure [Scofield's] release and pardon for a consideration. 

October 14, Friday. Seward was quite exultant over the 
elections; feels strong and self -gratified. Says this Ad- 
ministration 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 Attorney- 
General deemed it his duty and a proper courtesy to go 



1864] DEATH OF JUDGE TANEY 177 

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 par- 
ticipate. 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 administra- 
tion is true, and during most of his judicial life he was up- 
right 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. 

October 15, Saturday. The speeches of Jeff Davis betoken 
the close of the War. The rebellion is becoming exhausted, 
and I hope ere many months will be entirely suppressed. 
Not that there may not be lingering banditti to rob and 
murder for a while longer, the offspring of a demoralized 
state of society, but the organized rebellion cannot long 
endure. 

One of the assistants from the office of Judge-Advocate 
Holt came from that office to make some inquiries as to the 
views of the Department in Scofield's case. He says that 
Thurlow Weed and Raymond are very urgent in the mat- 
ter, and that some one named Williamson is active and 
pressing. I have no doubt a heavy fee lies behind a pardon 
in this case, which is pressed upon the President as if it 
were all-essential that it should be granted before the elec- 
tion. It pains me that the President should listen to such 
fellows in such a matter, or allow himself to be tampered 
with at all. The very fact that he avoids communicating 
with me on the subject is complimentary to me; at the 
same time it is evident that he has some conception of the 
unworthy purpose of the intriguers I mention. 

General Banks called on me yesterday formally before 



178 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 15 

leaving Washington. I have not previously seen him since 
he returned, though I hear he has called on part of the 
Cabinet. We had some conversation respecting his com- 
mand and administration in Louisiana. The new consti- 
tution, the climate, etc., were discussed. Before leaving, 
he alluded to the accusations that had been made against 
him, and desired to know if there was anything specific. I 
told him there'liad been complaints about cotton and errors 
committed; that these were always numerous when there 
were reverses. That, he said, was very true, but he had 
been informed Admiral Porter had gone beyond that, and 
was his accuser. I remarked that several naval officers had 
expressed themselves dissatisfied, some of them stronger 
than Admiral Porter, that others besides naval officers 
had also complained. 

The Republican of this evening has an article evidently 
originating with General Banks, containing some un- 
worthy flings at both Lee and Porter. Banks did not write 
the paragraph nor perhaps request it to be written, but the 
writer is his willing tool and was imbued with General 
Banks's feelings. He is doubtless Hanscom, a fellow without 
conscience when his interest is concerned, an intimate and, 
I believe, a relative, of Banks. 

November 25. For some weeks I have been unable to 
note down occurrences daily. On the evening of the elec- 
tion, the 8th, I went to the War Department about nine 
o'clock by invitation of the President. Took Fox with 
me, who was a little reluctant to go lest he should meet 
Stanton, who had for some days been ill. The Department 
was locked, but we were guided to the south door. The 
President was already there, and some returns from dif- 
ferent quarters had been received. He detailed particulars 
of each telegram which had been received. Hay soon j oined 
us and, after a little time, General Eaton. Mr. Eckert, the 
operator, had a fine supper prepared, of which we partook 
soon after 10. It was evident shortly after that the election 



1864] THE RECONSTRUCTION QUESTION 179 

had gone pretty much one way. Some doubts about New 
Jersey and Delaware. We remained until past one in the 
morning and left. All was well. 

The President on two or three occasions in Cabinet- 
meeting alluded to his message. It seemed to dwell heavy 
on his mind, more than I have witnessed on any former 
occasion. On Friday, the 25th, he read to us what he had 
prepared. There was nothing very striking, and he evid- 
ently labors in getting it up. The subject of Reconstruc- 
tion and how it should be effected is the most important 
theme. He says he cannot treat with Jeff Davis and the 
Jeff Davis government, which is all very well, but whom 
will he treat with, or how commence the work? All ex- 
pressed themselves very much gratified with the document 
and his views. I suggested whether it would not be well to 
invite back not only the people but the States to their ob- 
ligations and duties. We are one country. I would not 
recognize what is called the Confederate government, for 
that is a usurpation, but the States are entities and may 
be recognized and treated with. Stanton, who was present 
for the first time for six weeks, after each had expressed his 
views, and, indeed, after some other topic had been taken 
up and disposed of, made some very pertinent and in the 
main proper and well-tuned remarks, advising the Pre- 
sident to make no new demonstration or offer, to bring for- 
ward his former policy and maintain it, to hold open the 
doors of conciliation and invite the people to return to their 
duty. He would appeal to them to do so, and ask them 
whether it would not have been better for them and for all, 
had they a year since accepted his offer. 

Each of the members of the Cabinet were requested to 
prepare a brief statement of the affairs of their respective 
Departments. Seward had already handed in much of his. 
I told the President I would hand him my brief the next 
day. 

At this meeting on the 25th, Mr. Usher made some allu- 
sion to the gold that was forthcoming in the Territories 



180 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [NOV. 25 

The President interrupted him, saying he had been giving 
that matter a good deal of attention and he was opposed to 
any excitement on the subject. He proposed that the gold 
should remain in the mountains until the War was over, 
for it would now only add to the currency and we had al- 
ready too much currency. It would be better to stop than 
to increase it. 

Mr. Fessenden said something must be done, for he 
could not any longer negotiate on the basis of paying in- 
terest in coin. We cannot, he says, get the specie and must 
stop paying it out. I was amused. Neither of them ap- 
peared to have even the rudiments of finance and currency. 
Gold is no longer a currency with us. It is merchandise, and 
all that may be got from Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and Cali- 
fornia will not swell the volume of currency. Our banking 
and irredeemable paper issues are legal tenders and made 
currency not based on specie, and of course it is an inferior 
currency. 

Our Secretary of the Treasury must learn that if he does 
not demand and pay out gold he will have none. If he will 
reduce the volume of paper currency, so as to create a de- 
mand for gold, he will get it, but he will never have it if he 
slights it. He has schemes for getting out cotton to relieve 
him and the Treasury in making payments, and the block- 
ade is to be indirectly violated in order to get cotton from 
the Rebels with which to purchase gold. Of course we shall 
have to pay the Rebels if not in gold, in its equivalent, for 
all the cotton we get of them, and shall thus furnish them 
with the sinews of war. 

It cannot be otherwise than that the country will be- 
come impoverished with such ideas pervading the govern- 
ment. There will be devastation and ruin, if not corrected, 
before us. Fessenden is of the old Whig school of folly on 
finance and currency; is resorting to flimsy expedients, in- 
stead of honest, hard truth. Gold is truth; irredeemable 
paper and flimsy expedients are not. 



1864] THE CHIEF-JUSTICESHIP 181 

[November 26, Saturday.] I called on the President Satur- 
day, the 26th, as I had promised him I would the day be- 
fore, with my abstract for the message, intending to have a 
full, free talk with him on the subjects that were under re- 
view the day previous. But Mr. Bates was there with his 
resignation, and evidently anxious to have a private inter- 
view with the President. 

The question of Chief Justice has excited much remark 
and caused quite a movement with many. Mr. Chase is 
expecting it, and he has many strong friends who are urg- 
ing him. But I have not much idea that the President will 
appoint him, nor is it advisable he should. I had called on 
the President on the 23d, and had some conversation, after 
dispatching a little business, in regard to this appointment 
of Chief Justice. He said there was a great pressure and a 
good many talked of, but that he had not prepared his mes- 
sage and did not intend to take up the subject of judge be- 
fore the session commenced. 

"There is," said he, "a tremendous pressure just now 
for Evarts of New York, who, I suppose, is a good lawyer? " 
This he put inquiringly. I stated that he stood among the 
foremost at the New York bar; perhaps no one was more 
prominent as a lawyer. ' ' But that, ' ' I remarked, ' ' is not all . 
Our Chief Justice must have a judicial mind, be upright, of 
strict integrity, not too pliant ; should be a statesman and a 
politician." By politician I did not mean a partisan. [I 
said] that it appeared to me the occasion should be im- 
proved to place at the head of the court a man, not a parti- 
san, but one who was impressed with the principles and 
doctrines which had brought this Administration into 
power; that it would conduce to the public welfare and his 
own comfort to have harmony between himself and the 
judicial department, and that it was all-important that he 
should have a judge who would be a correct and faithful 
expositor of the principles of his administration and policy 
after his administration shall have closed. I stated that 



182 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [NOV. 26 

gomery Blair, it appeared to me, best conformed to these 
requirements; that the President knew the man, his ability, 
his truthfulness, honesty, and courage. 

The President at different points expressed his concur- 
rence in my views, and spoke kindly and complimentarily 
of Mr. Blair, but did not in any way commit himself, nor 
did I expect or suppose he would. 

I have since seen and had a full conversation with Blair. 
We had previously exchanged a few words on the subject. 
I then stated to him that, while it would gratify me to see 
him on the bench, I preferred that he should continue in 
active political life, and that I had especially desired he 
should go into the War Department. This point was al- 
luded to in our present interview, and he confessed the War 
Department was more congenial to his feelings, but Seward 
wanted a tool there, and if he had influence, it would be 
exerted against him (Blair) for that place. Yet in a conver- 
sation which he had with Seward about a week since, Sew- 
ard had given him (Blair) to understand that he was his 
(Seward's) candidate for Chief Justice. I told him that he 
could hardly be sincere in this, for Evarts would not con- 
sent to be a candidate nor think of it if Seward was not for 
him. Blair seemed a little shocked with this view of facts, 
and remarked that if Seward was not for him he was an 
infernal hypocrite. 

Blair .says he is singularly placed at this juncture, for the 
Marylanders are disposed to put him in the Senate at this 
time, while this judicial appointment is pending. I told him 
that personally I should be as much pleased to see him in 
the Senate as in the Court. 

Governor Dennison, Postmaster-General, called at my 
house this evening to have some conversation on the sub- 
ject of judge. He says he is and was at the last session 
committed for his fellow townsman Judge Swayne, who was 
at the time recommended by all on the bench; that he had 
called on the President at that time in behalf of Swayne, 
and the President then remarked that that seemed a set- 




EDWARD BATES 



1864] RESIGNATION OF MR. BATES 183 

tied question in which all were agreed. Governor D. is 
now a little embarrassed, for he feels particularly friendly 
to Blair. 

As regards Mr. Chase, Governor D., like myself, thinks 
it impossible that he should receive the appointment, 
that it is one which the President cannot properly make. 
Says they could not assimilate, and that, were Chase in 
that position, a life tenure, he would exhibit his re- 
sentments against the President, who he thinks has pre- 
vented his upward official career. He then told me that he 
labored to get Chase into the Treasury, and how sadly he 
had been disappointed over his failure as a financier. One 
of the strong traits of Chase, he says, is the memory of dif- 
ferences, and that he never forgets or forgives those who 
have once thwarted him. He may suppress his revenge, but 
it is abiding. 

The resignation of Attorney-General Bates has initi- 
ated more intrigues. A host of candidates are thrust 
forward, or are thrusting themselves forward. Evarts, 
Holt, Gushing, Whiting, and the Lord knows who, are all 
candidates. Under the circumstances it appears to me the 
appointment must go to one of the Border States, and hence 
I have thought Holt would most probably be the candidate ' 
of the President. He is, moreover, of Democratic anteced- 
ents; still I have no information on the subject. 

Fox tells me that Whiting sought him yesterday and in- 
troduced the subject of the Navy Department, and in- 
quired of Fox if he would remain were I to leave. To this 
F. says he replied he thought not, for we had got along so 
well together that he did not believe he could be reconciled 
to another.. Whiting told him that would have great influ- 
ence in the matter; that it was thought Senator Grimes 
might be offered the appointment if there was a change. 
All of this means that Whiting wants to be Attorney-Gen- 
eral, but New England cannot have more appointments, 
and the little fellow is intriguing for a remote chance. 
Could the Secretary of the Navy come from Iowa, the At- 



184 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [NOV. 26 

torney-General, he thinks, might be selected from New 
England. The game is very easily read. Little Whiting's 
intrigues are not equal to his egotism, and yet he is a con- 
venient instrument for others. He writes for Stanton, for 
Seward, and for the President, and intrigues generally. 
But he overestimates himself. He will never go into the 
Cabinet. 

R. H. Gillett, formerly Solicitor of the Treasury, now a 
practicing lawyer, chiefly in the Supreme Court, stopped 
me a few mornings since to relate his last interview with 
Judge Taney. They were discussing governmental affairs. 
The Chief Justice was, he says, communicative and in- 
structive. He said the Navy Department made less noise 
than some of the others, but no Department of the govern- 
ment was so well managed or better performed its duty. 

This was, and is, high praise from a quarter that makes 
it appreciated. The Chief Justice could, as well as any man, 
form a correct opinion, and in giving it he must have been 
disinterested. Twenty-five and thirty years ago we were 
slightly acquainted, but I do not remember that I have 
exchanged a word with him since the days of Van Buren, 
perhaps I did in Folk's administration. The proceed- 
ings in the Dred Scott case alienated my feelings entirely. 
I have never called on him, as I perhaps ought in courtesy 
to have done, but it was not in me, for I have looked on 
him and his court as having contributed, unintentionally 
perhaps, but largely, to the calamities of our afflicted coun- 
try. They probably did not mean treason but thought 
their wisdom and official position would give national 
sanction to a great wrong. Whether Judge T. retained 
any recollection of me, or our former slight acquaintance, 
I probably shall never know, but his compliment I highly 
value. 

The case of the Florida has from time to time and in 
various ways been up. She was taken by Collins in the 
Wachusett at Bahiaand brought to Hampton Roads. Hav- 
ing been captured in neutral waters, a great outcry has 



1864] THE CASE OF THE FLORIDA 185 

gone up from the English press and people, and some of our 
own have manifested a morbid sentiment with those Eng- 
lish who have nothing to do with the subject. The Secre- 
tary of State has not known what to say, and, I think, not 
what to do. In our first or second conversation he ex- 
pressed a hope that we should not be compelled to give up 
the Florida, and this he repeated in each of our subsequent 
interviews. I told him the idea ought not to be seriously 
thought of for a moment, and said that I knew of no in- 
stance where a belligerent armed vessel had been restored. 
That he owed a respectful apology to Brazil, I not only 
admitted but asserted. We have disturbed her peace, been 
guilty of discourtesy, etc., etc. Yet Brazil herself has in the 
first instance done wrong. She has given refuge and aid to 
the robbers whom she does not recognize as a government. 
She has, while holding amicable relations with us, seen these 
pirates seize and burn our merchant vessels, and permitted 
these plundering marauders to get supplies and to refit in 
her ports, and almost make her harbors the base of opera- 
tions. What Brazil will demand or require I know not. 
Although she has done wrong to us in giving comfort and 
assistance to these robbers, I would make amends for her 
offended sovereignty by any proper acknowledgments. I do 
not believe she will have the impudence to ask restitution. 
If she did, it would be under British prompting and I would 
not give it. The case is not as if the war was between two 
nations. Yet some of our politicians and editors are treat- 
ing it as such. Among others the New York Evening Post. I 
am inclined to think there is something personal towards 
me in this pertness of the Evening Post. The papers have 
alluded to differences between Seward and myself. There 
has been no such controversy or difference as the Post rep- 
resents on this subject. All our talk has been amicable, 
he doubtful and hesitating, I decided and firm on certain 
points which, if he does not assent to, he does not contro- 
vert. But the publisher of the Evening Post is held in bail 
for malfeasance at the instance of the Navy Department. 



186 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [NOV. 26 

Great efforts have been made to let him off, to which I 
could not yield, and his case is to come off before the 
grand jury now in session. Under these circumstances the 
editors of the Post are very willing to differ with me on a 
public question, and yet they would never admit that they 
were actuated by personal considerations or a design to in- 
fluence and bias the jury. It is, they think, their nice sense 
of honor, which would have us, as a nation, humble our- 
selves to Brazil for having taken a pirate by the throat 
within her jurisdiction, and that same sense of honor would 
screen a malefactor from exposure and punishment. 

Brazil, and other governments who have given shelter, 
comfort, and aid to the piratical vessels that have plund- 
ered our commerce under a pretended flag which neither 
Brazil nor any other nation recognizes, committed the first 
great wrong. The government of Brazil is aware that tho 
Rebel pirates have no admiralty court, that they have 
never sent in a vessel captured for condemnation; there- 
fore Brazil herself, by permitting and acquiescing in the 
outrages on a friendly nation, is the first aggressor, and she 
should be held to it. If we have injured Brazil, let us make 
reparation, full and ample. If she has injured us, let her 
do her duty also, in this respect. So far as her majesty is 
disturbed by our taking a sneaking thief, whom she was 
entertaining, by the throat, an outlaw with some of his 
robberies upon him, let all proper atonement be made. 

I suggested to Mr. Seward that proceedings should be 
commenced against the prisoners captured on the Florida 
as pirates, but he shrank from it, although it would have 
relieved him of many difficulties. It would not have been 
wrong to have gone to extremes with them, but the prose- 
cution would bring out the true points and stop noise. 

Governor Morgan detailed his journey with Governor 
Morrill through the different States, visiting the different 
governors and our political friends prior to the election, 
under an appointment, it seems, from the Secretary of 
War, ostensibly to attend to the draft. It was when polit- 



1864] TOUR OF MORGAN AND MORRILL 187 

ical affairs looked darkest. He thinks that he and M. unde? 
this appointment and visit did much to dissipate the gloom. 
The intrigues of the radicals were totally defeated, and, 
after opposing and abusing the President, all of them 
finally came in, as I had no doubt they would. Morgan 
says the malcontents held their final secret meeting at the 
house of one of the editors of the Evening Post. 

Chase was, Morgan says, open and sharp in his opposi- 
tion to the President, they heard of him at various 
places, but, finding he could accomplish nothing, he 
eventually came in, called on the President, procured the 
sacrifice of Blair as a pretext for his wounded and bruised 
feelings and those of his friends. This is Morgan's repre- 
sentation. 

There was probably something in this, and also, I think, 
in the intrigues of Thurlow Weed. Strange antagonisms 
seem to have been harnessed up together in some party- 
political personal operations. Morgan thinks Chase will be 
appointed Chief Justice, but I do not yet arrive at that 
conclusion. The President sometimes does strange things, 
but this would be a singular mistake, in my opinion, for 
one who is so shrewd and honest, an appointment that 
he would soon regret. In this M. agrees with me, and also 
that Blair is the man. 

The place of Attorney-General has been tendered to 
Holt, who declines it, preferring his present position. This 
I think an error; that is, no man should decline a place of 
such responsibility in times like these when the country is 
so unanimous in his favor. Whiting, Solicitor of the War 
Department and patent lawyer, is sorely disappointed. 

November 30, Wednesday. Have just finished and sent 
my report to the printer. It is long and has been a weari- 
some and laborious business. To weigh conflicting claims 
and opinions, to make needed suggestions of reform and 
improvement, without exciting hostility or committing 
error, to do justice to merit, to avoid the commission or 



188 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [NOV. so 

omission of acts which provoke controversy, to speak of 
one's own acts without egotism and yet without want of 
manly self-respect, to condense much in little space, to 
narrate briefly the deeds of our naval men, to encourage 
and stimulate them in well-doing, with a multitude of 
detail, make the preparing of an annual report in a time 
like this very laborious. The reports of the Chiefs of Bu- 
reaus and of naval officers are to be scanned with care; the 
various briefs and suggestions submitted have to be can- 
vassed and weighed, and the views, whether adopted or 
rejected, to be criticized. To get this off my hands is a 
great relief. What censures and complaints and criticisms, 
just and unjust, may follow for the next few days and weeks 
do not trouble me. I am only now glad that the labor is off 
my hands, and I dismiss it from my mind. If its sugges- 
tions and recommendations shall elicit investigation, in- 
quiry, or action, I, conscious of right intentions, shall try 
to be prepared in the premises. 

There are some singular movements in regard to our re- 
lations with Japan and certain transactions connected with 
that people that cause me annoyance. Some two years ago, 
or more, our Minister or Commissioner to Japan notified 
the State Department or the Secretary of State that the 
Japanese government wanted two or three of our vessels, 
and had placed in his hands, or would place in the hands 
of such persons as he, the Minister, might select, $600,000 
for the purpose. Mr. Pruyn, the Minister, accepted the 
trust and appointed his brother-in-law, Lansing, and Thur- 
low Weed to execute it. Mr. Seward addressed a note to 
me on the subject, submitting the letter. I advised that 
the government in no way should become involved in the 
affair, and gave offense to Weed, who, not friendly before, 
has intrigued against me ever since. My advice would have 
been the same, had any other person than Weed been 
named. Without regarding my suggestions, the work went 
on. One of the vessels is finished. I know not whether 
more than one has been commenced. A difference has 



1864] A VESSEL BUILT FOR JAPAN 189 

grown up between Japan and the European powers, and, 
under the direction of Mr. Pruyn, our Minister, we have 
joined in the fight, become involved in 'an English and 
French war with Japan, although the Japanese have no 
quarrel with us. Now comes an inquiry to me from per- 
sons sent here by Weed, to know if the Navy Depart- 
ment will not examine, approve, and take this vessel, 
which has been built and been paid for. I am not pleased 
with the management or proposed arrangement. This 
whole proceeding on the American side had appeared to 
me a fraud and swindle to enrich Weed & Co. It is wicked 
to prostitute the government to such a private purpose, 
and to impose upon the Japanese, who have trusted us. 
I am opposed to having the Navy Department mixed up 
in any manner with this scheme, and have let the Presid- 
ent know what I think of it and Seward also. Weed does 
not approach me on the subject. He has not been able to 
use the Navy Department as he wishes, and, like John 
P. Hale, is at enmity with me because I will not consent 
to be used in swindling operations. New York party pol- 
itics are always more or less personal. Party organizations 
are considered convincing contrivances to be used by lead- 
ing managers for their benefit. 



XXV 

The President reads his Message in Cabinet The Question of the Japan- 
ese Vessel The President appoints Chase to the Chief-Justiceship 
Usher's Anxiety as to his Reappointment Blair's Political Plans 
Sumner on Chase's Appointment Sumner praises Welles's Report 
Conversation with Preston King Seward's and Chase's Views on 
States' Rights The Scofield Case again Hood's Army defeated by 
Thomas The President's Leniency towards the Old Party Hacks 
The Office of Vice-Admiral created McClellan accused of Treachery in 
the Peninsular Campaign Death of William L. Dayton, Minister to 
France Disclosure in the Newspapers of Plans for the Wilmington 
Expedition An Arrest in the Case urged The President's Disposition 
to mitigate Punishment and grant Favors An Instance of his Kindness 
The Capture of Savannah The Japanese Difficulty The Question 
of the Right of Congress or the Courts to call for Executive Documents 
Failure of Butler in the Wilmington Expedition. 

December 3, Saturday. The President read his message 
at a special Cabinet-meeting to-day and general criticism 
took place. His own portion has been much improved. 
The briefs submitted by the several members were incor- 
porated pretty much in their own words. One paragraph 
proposing an Amendment to the Constitution recogniz- 
ing the Deity in that instrument met with no favorable 
response from any one member of the Cabinet. The Pre- 
sident, before reading it, expressed his own doubts in regard 
to it, but it had been urged by certain religionists. 

I should have been glad, and so stated, had there been 
a more earnest appeal to the Southern people and to the 
States respectively to return to duty. I would have said to 
the people that their States are part of the Union; that 
they were not to be considered, not to be treated, as out- 
laws; that, by returning to their allegiance, their persons 
and property should be respected; and I would have in- 
vited State action. 

Mr. Seward spoke to me before the message was taken 



1864] THE JAPANESE VESSEL 191 

up, respecting the Japanese vessel. He said it was desir- 
able we should take it. I inquired if it would not involve 
us in difficulty with Japan, and whether we were really 
acting in good faith. "Oh," he said, "the money should 
be returned to them whenever they made a demand, but 
if they got such a vessel they would begin to play the 
pirate and raise the devil." 

The President seemed disinclined to interest himself in 
the matter, indicating, I thought, that Seward had set- 
tled the question with him, and that my objections would 
not be likely to prevail. Fessenden made one inquiry, and 
Dennison another, each of a general character but indi- 
cating a concurrence with me, and Seward made haste to 
turn off and introduce another topic. 

Thurlow Weed and Lansing, the brother-in-law of 
Pruyn, are awaiting the action of the government. They 
have, and for two years have had, $800,000 in gold be- 
longing to the Japanese in their hands, and it is an im- 
portant question to them. 

December 5, Monday. Congress convened. A quorum 
present in each house, but the President did not send in 
his message. I had calls from many Members. All in good 
spirits and hopeful. 

Mr. Seward sent for my perusal a draught of an execu- 
tive order forbidding the Japanese vessel from leaving, 
and authorizing the Navy Department to purchase. I dis- 
like this thing in every aspect, and am not disposed to be 
mixed up with it. Some weeks since application was made 
for a survey and appraisal of this vessel. This was ordered, 
as is usual in all cases, and without any connection with 
the government or the Japanese. The Board valued her at 
$392,000, and at this price we, under direction of the 
President at the solicitation of Seward, agreed to take her. 
These late government movements make it embarrassing. 
I declined to give any opinion or make any suggestion in 
regard to the executive order, but said orally to the clerk 



192 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 5 

that our offer was still considered as good, irrespective of 
other matters. Two hundred thousand dollars in gold 
would purchase this vessel; in paper currency she is ap- 
praised at 1392,000. It is easy to perceive that Mr. Weed 
and Mr. Pruyn will realize a clever sum for their labors. 
They have had for one or two years the use of $800,000 in 
gold. This vessel has not cost them over $200,000 in gold. 
The government takes it at $392,000 and must pay that 
sum in gold to Japan. Who pockets the $192,000? It can- 
not be otherwise than that this subject will be inquired 
into. It ought to be. 

December 6, Tuesday. Nothing of moment at the Cabi- 
net. Neither Seward nor Fessenden was present. The new 
Attorney-General declines to be sworn in until confirmed. 

Shortly after leaving the Cabinet I heard that Chase 
had been nominated to, and confirmed by, the Senate as 
Chief Justice. Not a word was interchanged in the Cabinet 
respecting it. Stanton, who came in late and just as we 
were leaving, professed to have come over merely to learn 
if the message had been received, and how. It is possible 
he was in the secret, but no other one who was present, 
and his knowledge is perhaps doubtful. The President had 
said to us before Stanton came in that he had sent up yes- 
terday the nominations of Dennison and Speed, but men- 
tioned no others. I am sorry he should have withheld the 
fact, which we all knew in less than one hour, that he had 
to-day sent in Chase for Chief Justice. Dennison informs 
me that [he went to the theatre with the President last 
evening and parted with him after 11 o'clock, and not a 
word was said to him on the subject. 

I hope the selection may prove a good one. I would not 
have advised it, because I have apprehensions on that sub- 
ject. Chase has mental power and resources, but he is 
politically ambitious and restless, prone to, but not very 
skillful in, intrigue and subtle management. If he applies 
himself strictly and faithfully to his duties, he may sue- 



1864] GHASE APPOINTED CHIEF-JUSTICE 193 

ceed on the bench, although his mind, I fear, is not so much 
judicial as ministerial. He will be likely to use the place 
for political advancement and thereby endanger confid- 
ence in the court. He, though selfishly stubborn some- 
times, wants moral courage and frankness, is fond of adula- 
tion, and with official superiors is a sycophant. I hope the 
President may have no occasion to regret his selection. 

December 8, Thursday. The Senate have since commence- 
ment of the session labored over the question of continu- 
ing or displacing Hale from the position of Chairman of 
the Naval Committee. He has been, without cause or 
reason, a constant and vindictive opponent of the Depart- 
ment, at times annoying and almost embarrassing its 
action. I have forborne any controversy with him, and, 
in my acts and recommendations, have generally been 
sustained by Congress and the country. One year ago, 
at the commencement of this Congress, it appeared to me 
that the Senate owed to itself, not less than the Depart- 
ment and the country, the duty of substituting another for 
this factious and unworthy man. As they did not do it 
then, I scarcely expected they would do it now. He then 
appealed to them feelingly, and implored them to help 
him because his election was pending. Some of them 
thought the lesson had been instructive and would prove 
useful, as they assured me, and therefore voted for him. 
His conduct disappointed them but did not me. 

This year he is not present, but went to Halifax the 
week before the session commenced, and from there writes 
a beseeching letter, begging to serve out the few weeks that 
remain of his Senatorial life on the Naval Committee. 
Sumner, who too often permits his personal sympathies 
to overrule public duty in matters of this land, labored 
hard, I am told, for Hale. Action was postponed from 
day to day to gather strength, but a last attempt to retain 
him was made this morning and he received but seven 
votes. I have avoided, properly, introducing the subject 



194 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 8 

to any Senator while the question was pending, and to 
three or four who have spoken to me, I have been cool and 
reserved. Yet, not unlikely, Hale will be violent and abus- 
ive towards me. Perhaps not; he is uncertain and unreli- 
able. I feel indifferent. His career is about closed. It has 
never been useful or wholesome. He has no constructive 
ability; can attack and try to pull down, but is unable to 
successfully defend and build up. 

The Members of Congress and the press, with scarcely 
an exception, are complimentary to my report. Even the 
New York Times and Herald commend it. But the Times 
of to-day has a captious, faultfinding article. It is dissatis- 
fied, because, in stating facts, I mention that the Navy 
has been always ready to cooperate with the army at Wil- 
mington, was ready and waited at Mobile, Texas, etc., 
etc. This the Times denounces as attacking the War De- 
partment or army. If to tell the truth is so construed, I 
cannot help it. For a long time the Times has been profuse 
in its censures of the Navy Department in regard to Wil- 
mington. Mr. Seward, knowingly, was guilty of the same 
injustice in his speech delivered to the crowd from his 
parlor window the week of the election. These men do not 
wish the truth disclosed. They cannot romance and 
falsify me as they have done in this respect. 

December 9, Friday. At the Cabinet little as usual was 
done. Fessenden and Stanton were not present. Seward 
came late. No measure of any importance was introduced. 
Seward, Usher, and myself came out together, the other 
two a little in advance of me. Seward took Usher aside 
in the large hall just as they were coming out, and he 
spoke and beckoned to me also after the others had turned 
off to come with them. He said, as I came up, that he was 
remarking to Usher that Congress and the country were 
full of speculations about appointments; that he did not 
care a damn about himself, if the President wanted him 
he would remain, and would go if he did not. He was going 



1864] USHER'S ANXIETY 195 

to take no part against any other member of the Cabinet, 
but should stand by them. Usher said it was important 
that he should know, for he had to depend on his salary 
or income for his support, and probably Mr. S. could let 
him know what were the President's intentions. The sub- 
ject seemed to be one on which the two had been previously 
conversing, and U. was evidently in some suspense or 
anxiety. I did not see nor apprehend the pertinency or 
occasion for the conversation, except that U. may have 
heard, or learned, something which has disturbed him, 
and sought information from S., who chose to have me 
hear him utter nonsense to Usher. 

I remarked that I gave no thought to the rumors, manu- 
factured by correspondents and quidnuncs; that if Mem- 
bers of Congress or committees attempted to dictate to 
the President, he would know how to appreciate them. 
The conversation did not exceed five minutes, perhaps not 
more than three. We then came out, but Usher seemed 
disturbed and clung to and walked off with Seward, al- 
though his carriage was waiting in the opposite direction. 

December 10, Saturday. Blair called on me in somewhat 
of a disturbed state of mind and wanted my advice. He 
had had one interview with the President since I last saw 
him, in which the President said he disliked to remove 
Hoffman from the collectorship of Baltimore, but that the 
Spanish mission would be vacant, and he would place 
that at Blair's disposal to arrange with Senator Hicks and 
Hoffman, as he pleased. Blair replied that he could go into 
no such arrangement; that he had no confidence in Hoff- 
man, who is wholly unreliable, had deserted everybody 
and ought to be discarded. The appointment of Chase has 
brought the Maryland malcontents into position, and the 
trimmers, including Hicks and his friend Governor Swann, 
were looking to what they thought the rising power. Blair 
fears the President is flinching and will succumb, and 
thought it advisable that he, or some one, should have an 



196 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 10 

explicit conversation with the President, and wanted my 
advice. I told him that it seemed to me very important 
that such a conversation should take place, but no one 
could do this so well as himself. As regarded myself, it 
was a weakness with me not to obtrude advice; it was with 
reluctance I gave the President unasked my opinion on 
any subject, and on the several matters connected with his 
plans he himself could best discuss them with the Pre- 
sident. Blair agreed with me and said he would see the 
President, and would boldly and frankly express himself. 
Blair's present view is to go into the Senate, in place of 
Governor Hicks, who wishes to be made collector of Balti- 
more. Of course Hoffman, the present collector, must be 
removed as the initiatory step to this end. 

December 15, Thursday. The Members of Congress have 
hardly commenced work as yet. They are feeling about. 
The malcontents are not in better mood than before the 
election. Chase's appointment gives satisfaction to Sen- 
ator Surnner and a few others; but there is general dis- 
appointment. Public sentiment had settled down under 
the conviction that he could not have the position. Sumner 
helped to secure it for him. The President told Chandler 
of New Hampshire, who remonstrated against such selec- 
tions, that he would rather have swallowed his buckhorn 
chair than to have nominated Chase. 

Sumner declares to me that Chase will retire from the 
field of politics and not be a candidate for the Presidency. 
I questioned it, but S. said with emphasis it was so. He 
had assured the President that Chase would retire from 
party politics. I have no doubt Sumner believes it. What 
foundations he has for the belief I know not, though he 
speaks positively and as if he had assurance. My own 
convictions are that, if he lives, Chase will be a candidate 
and his restless and ambitious mind is already at work. 
It is his nature. 

In his interview with me to-day, it being the first time 



1864] CONVERSATION WITH PRESTON KING 197 

we have met since he reached Washington, Sumner com- 
menced by praising my report, which he complimented 
as a model paper, the best report he had read from a 
Department, etc., etc. As he is a scholar and critic, a 
statesman and politician capable of forming an opinion, 
has culture, discrimination, and good judgment, I could 
not but feel gratified with his praise. He says he read every 
word of it. Very many Members have given me similar 
complimentary assurances, but no one has gratified me so 
much as Sumner. 

December 16, Friday. Met Attorney-General Speed to- 
day at Cabinet-meeting and was introduced by the Pre- 
sident. Mr. Seward read the correspondence with the 
Brazilian representative in relation to the capture of the 
Florida. It is quite diplomatic, but Seward has the best of 
it thus far, for the Brazilian commenced too strong and 
has overshot the mark. What ground Seward will ulti- 
mately occupy is uncertain. He does not know himself, I 
apprehend; indeed, he has more than once said as much to 
me. I desire him to maintain our rights while doing jus- 
tice to Brazil. Why has she given shelter and refuge and 
aid and supplies to Rebel pirates who are depredating on 
the commerce of a nation with which she is on terms of 
amity? Put her on the defensive. 

Preston King dined with me to-day. Had a couple of 
hours' very agreeable conversation with him. He is a man 
of wonderful sagacity; has an excellent mind and judgment. 
Our views correspond on most questions. On the suppres- 
sion of the Rebellion, on the rights of the States, on the re- 
establishment of the Union, on the extinguishment of slav- 
ery, there was entire concurrence of opinion. I did not 
doubt our agreement on these points before we met. I 
had touched on them with some others and found great be- 
wilderment. There is, I think, no man in the Cabinet but 
Dennison who agrees with me on the subject of State 
rights. Seward on two or three occasions has had flings 



200 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. w 

when parties fail with me, they go to the President, and of 
course state their ill success, but, claiming to have a case, 
press him to act, and he, knowing from them my decision, 
sends for Fox to get the facts. It is not a very satisfactory 
way, but is the President's peculiarity. He sometimes has 
excused himself on the ground that he did not wish to dis- 
turb me to come over when he only wished to make a sim- 
ple inquiry, etc., supposed Fox might know the facts. 
Weed and his set have Scofield in hand; want his money 
for electioneering purposes. Thinks he would succeed if I 
were away or not consulted. 

Stanton came in this morning to tell me he had just got 
a telegram from General Thomas, announcing the defeat 
and annihilation of Hood's army. Present indications are 
an early closing of the Rebellion. If we have tolerable suc- 
cess the next ten days, they will have no formidable army 
but Lee's at Richmond. 

December 17, Saturday. Admiral Dahlgren writes me 
that Sherman is with him in his cabin (14th inst.). 

Mr. Chandler, 1 employed by the Department to attend 
to alleged frauds in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, arrived 
here this morning. Discloses great rascalities, of which we 
shall have more hereafter. Among others he mentions the 
facts connected with young Clandaniels, who was seduced 
by Scofield. Living on a salary of $750, pinched for sub- 
sistence, the serpent Scofield approached him, gave him in 
friendly kindness $50. He made further gratuities, then 
proposed to him, he being clerk of the storekeeper, to pass 
short weights and measure. To receipt for 70,000 pounds 
when there were but 50,000. His share in these villainies, 
C. says, is about $5000. He restores $3600 and his gold 
watch. 

I directed Fox to go and request the President to be pre- 

1 William E. Chandler, subsequently Secretary of the Navy under 

TJ riso : J __ i A*.4-lm, An/4 QAnn4-A fw\vt XTnwr TTnmv^flVk iwrt 



1864] WEED IN THE SCOFIELD CASE 201 

sent in order that he might hear Chandler's statement, for, 
as I anticipated, the President had sent for Fox yesterday 
to inquire respecting Scofield. The President came, and on 
hearing Chandler's statement, seemed glad to know the 
facts. Says Thurlow Weed first came to him in behalf of 
Scofield; that he was disposed to act from representations 
then made, two or three months ago (it was before elec- 
tion) ; that he had communicated with me at that time, and 
sent the papers to Governor Morgan, who had given them 
over to Anthon, Judge- Advocate-General, to make a sum- 
mary; that Anthon had done so and said Scofield was 
rightly convicted. Yesterday Mr. Spencer and others had 
pressed him very hard to release Scofield on his paying the 
fine, but he remarked he had some other matters pending. 
He therefore had sent for Fox to know how matters were. 

I hardly think they will get Scofield released, after to- 
day's interview. But the President does not rightly appre- 
ciate Weed & Co., who are concerned in this business. He 
says Weed, on seeing Judge Anthon's report, said he had 
nothing further to say. Nor has he. But Raymond and 
Darling and others have been pushed forward, Raymond 
willingly, and doubtless under the expectation of high fees, 
for Scofield and others bid high. 

This is one of the cases that has caused the malevolent 
intrigues of Raymond, Weed, and others against me. I 
have been in the way of their greed and intrigues. They 
could not use me but they have secretly slandered me, 
had their insinuations, flings, and contrivances through 
the press and social circles to injure me in public estima- 
tion. The work has been very adroitly done, but the Pre- 
sident, while standing firmly by me, is not aware, I think, 
of the real motives that move them. 

December 19, Monday. The contractors for the Puritan 
and Dictator are in trouble and embarrassed. Congress 
has extended to them relief, contingent on my action. If 
I do not so interpret the resolution as to render imme- 



202 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 19 

diate assistance, I shall be censured for delay. If I take 
the responsibility of acting promptly and before reports 
are made the censure will be no less severe. That the con- 
tractors can fulfill all the stipulations, every one knows to 
be improbable, I may say impossible. If I rigidly re- 
quire them, the men will be ruined and the country not 
benefited. If I waive the impossible, and accept what is 
practicable, I shall give the censorious and malicious op- 
portunities to assail and denounce me. I covet no such dis- 
cretionary power. 

Commodore Rodgers writes that the Dictator has ar- 
rived safely at Hampton Roads and performed satisfac- 
torily, but fails to give details. 

Captain Winslow called on me to-day. He is looking 
well and feels happy. Luck was with him in the fight with 
the Alabama. 

The House of Representatives to-day passes a resolution 
of H. Winter Davis, aimed at the Secretary of State for his 
management of foreign affairs, and asserting the authority 
of the House in these matters. There is a disposition to 
make the legislative, fortunately the representative branch, 
the controlling power of the government. The whole was 
conceived in a bad spirit and is discreditable to the getters- 
up and those who passed the resolutions. Davis has never 
been, and never will be, a useful Member of Congress. Al- 
though possessing talents, he is factious, uneasy, and un- 
principled. He is just now connected with a clique of mal- 
contents, most of whom were gathering a few months [ago] 
around our present Chief Justice. An embryo party is 
forming and we shall see what comes of it and whether the 
ermine is soiled. 

Wise of the Ordnance Bureau writes me a long letter in 
answer to a dispatch from Dahlgren in regard to casting 
solid and hollow guns, etc. It is a controversy in which I 
do not care to become embroiled, D. is sensitive and proud; 
W. has been meddlesome and perhaps unjust. D. feels 
hurt; W. feels rebuked. 



meeting. Speed is attending the Court. The others ab- 
sent, as usual, without cause, and the course pursued sus- 
tains them in this neglect. Seward is at the President's 
everyday when there is no Cabinet-meeting and at a differ- 
ent hour on Cabinet days. As Stanton does not go to the 
President, the President goes to Stanton. Not unfre- 
quently he hurries at the close to go to the War Depart- 
ment. Fessenden frets because there are no Cabinet con- 
sultations and yet stays away himself. 

Old Tom Ewing of Ohio was hanging around the door of 
the Executive Mansion as I went in. I stopped for a mo- 
ment to exchange civilities. Usher, who followed me, in- 
formed the President that the old man was waiting for an 
interview and thought of leaving, but U. advised him to 
remain now that he had got there. The President ex- 
pressed his regret at Usher's advice and, turning to me, 
said, "You know his object?" I said it was probably 
Wilkes' case. The President said it was, and, notwithstand- 
ing Wilkes had abused both him and me, he was inclined 
to remit his sentence, looking inquiringly at me as he 
spoke. I told him that I should not advise it; that at the 
proper time and in the proper way something might be done, 
perhaps, without injury, though Wilkes had no claim, and 
this hiring old Mr. Ewing, who is sellinghis personal influence, 
is all bad. Usher took strong and emphatic ground against 
any favor to Wilkes, who is heartless and insubordinate. 

It is a misfortune that the President gives his ear to a 
class of old party hacks like Ewing and Tom Corwin, men 
of ability and power in their day, for whom he has high re- 
gard but who are paid to come here and persuade the Pre- 
sident to do wrong. Ewing would not, of himself, do or 
advise another to do what he beseeches of the President, 
except for money. All this the President has the sagacity 
to see, but hardly the will to resist. I shall not be surprised 
if he yields, as he intimated he was ready to do before any 
remark from me. 



204 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 20 

The Senate and House to-day passed an act in conform- 
ity with my recommendation, indorsed by the President, 
creating the office of Vice-Admiral, to correspond with the 
army grade of Lieutenant-General. 

Mr. Usher relates a conversation he had with General 
Heintzelman at Steubenville in regard to General McClel- 
lan, in which General H. says he has been reading and re- 
viewing the events and incidents of the Peninsular Cam- 
paign, and he is fully convinced that McClellan intended 
to betray the army. General H. tells how he was left and 
the guard at a bridge over which it was necessary he should 
pass was withdrawn, without notice to him, although he 
had sent three times to McClellan for instructions and re- 
ceived none. Other singular and unaccounted-for facts are 
mentioned. 

I have heard these intimations from others who had sim- 
ilar suspicions and convictions, but I have never yet been 
willing to believe he was a traitor, though men of standing 
call him such. His conduct was strange and difficult to be 
reconciled with an intelligent and patriotic discharge of 
the duties of his position. I long ago, and early indeed, was 
satisfied his heart was not earnest in the cause. He wanted 
to be victorious in any conflict as he would in a game of 
chess. Massachusetts and South Carolina were equally at 
fault in his estimation, and he so declared to me at Cum- 
berland on the Pamunkey in May, 1862. x The disasters 
before Richmond followed soon after, and these were suc- 
ceeded by his inexcusable conduct and that of his subord- 
inate generals in failing to reinforce and sustain Pope and 
our army at the Second Battle of Bull Run. 

But while I have never had time to review the acts of 
that period, I still incline to the opinion that his conduct 
was the result of cool and selfish indifference rather than of 
treachery and positive guilt. General Heintzelman and 
others are not only prejudiced against him but positively 
inimical. 

1 See vol. i, p. 107. 



1864] DEATH OF MINISTER DAYTON 205 

December 21, Wednesday. Wrote Gilpin, District Attor- 
ney at Philadelphia, in answer to his private letter as to 
prosecution for frauds in Philadelphia Navy Yard. 

The papers are publishing the details of the expedition 
to Wilmington, and disclosing some confidential circum- 
stances which ought not to be made public. One of the 
Philadelphia editors says the facts were ascertained and 
given to the press by Osborn of New York, a prowling mer- 
cenary correspondent of the newspapers who buys black- 
mail where he can, and sells intelligence surreptitiously ob- 
tained. I wrote to the Secretary of War, giving him the 
facts for such action as he may be disposed to take. He in- 
formed Fox that he would arrest and try by court martial. 

Intelligence of the death of Mr. Dayton, our Minister to 
France, creates some commotion among public men. The 
event was sudden and his loss will be felt. . . . I had a light 
and pleasant acquaintance with him when in the Senate 
some fifteen or eighteen years ago, and we had some cor- 
respondence and one or two interviews in the Fremont 
campaign in 1856, when he was pleased to compliment me, 
on comparing Connecticut and New Jersey, with having 
done much to place my own State in a right position. We 
met again in the spring of 1861. He was a dignified and 
gentlemanly representative, not a trained diplomat, and 
unfortunately not acquainted with the language of the 
French Court. A numerous progeny has arisen at once to 
succeed him. John Bigelow, consul at Paris, has been ap- 
pointed Charge", and I doubt if any other person will be 
selected who is more fit. Raymond of the Times wants it, 
but Bigelow is infinitely his superior. 

December 22, Thursday. The Secretary of War returns 
my letter concerning the disclosures made of the Wilming- 
ton expedition with an indorsement of Assistant-Secre- 
tary Dana stating the Secretary desires to know what ac- 
tion I wish to have taken. 

T hfl.vp. nnt.inpHI that, nnr pnprcrptirt n.nH nTYvrYmt. 



206 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 22 

of War always desires a strong backer. He does rash and 
violent things, but he always wants some one to bear the 
brunt, or one on whom he can, if trouble ensues, throw the 
responsibility. The Judge-Advocate-General is attached 
to the War Department, there is a Solicitor of the War De- 
partment, the provost marshals are appointments of that 
Department. I sent the Secretary the facts in Osborn's 
case, giving names, and he now wishes me to specify his 
course of action, while I have none of the machinery or offi- 
cers which Congress has assigned to him in abundance. 

I indorsed on the letter that as the expedition was joint, 
Army and Navy, I had supposed it sufficient to ad- 
vise him of the facts in order to have the offenders pun- 
ished, that I thought the offense ought not to pass unnot- 
iced, and that I recommended the person who had given 
the subject for publication should be arrested and tried by 
military court martial. This I know will not be satisfac- 
tory, but it is as much as I, clothed with no power, ought to 
do. 

December 23, Friday. Being a little late at Cabinet, 
found the President, Seward, and Stanton with my letter 
before them in relation to Osborn. Stanton was evidently 
not satisfied with my presentation of the case, and yet was 
not prepared to specify his objections. He spoke of the 
publishers as equally deserving arrest, which I did not con- 
trovert, but expressed an opinion that all implicated should 
be attended to. I furnished proof as to the complicity of 
Osborn. On this further proceedings might be had. Sew- 
ard was interested in a late singular decision of Judge Wylie 
of the District Court against Baker, for false arrest and 
imprisonment at the instigation of the late Secretary of the 
Treasury, the present Chief Justice Chase. Under this de- 
cision, he said, no Cabinet officer was safe. Stanton said 
he would be imprisoned a thousand years at least. 

This proceeding of the court had evidently caused Stan- 
ton to hesitate in the matter of Osborn, and hence he 



1864] DISCLOSURE OF WILMINGTON PLANS 207 

wanted me to make special request for the arrest, not only 
of 0. but the different editors, who, he thought, should be 
punished. I did not incline to that view. 0. .had surrepti- 
tiously obtained information and sold to editors. The 
President remarked that he thought an example of Osborn 
might answer without a squabble with the editors. Both 
he and Stanton dwelt on the disinclination of General Dix 
to have a fight with newspapers. 

An investigation as to the true condition of matters 
with Judge Wylie in the Baker and Gwin case was directed. 
The President suggested a difference in this and arrests 
under the military department. 

I have had much difficulty in regard to the Dictator and 
the Puritan. The large balance due falls heavily on the 
contractors, who claim they are losing interest at the rate 
of about two hundred and fifty dollars per day. It is very 
hard that they should thus suffer, but the law for their re- 
lief is very bungling in its phraseology. I have delayed ac- 
tion, and consulted with several. Admiral Smith, Fox, and 
Faxon advise payment. Lenthall objects. I requested 
Senator Grimes to examine the papers and the law yester- 
day, and had intended to associate Mr. Rice with him, so 
as to have an opinion from the Chairman of each naval 
committee; but Rice had gone to Boston. Grimes advised 
payment, so I ordered half a million to be paid towards the 
Puritan, but none to the Dictator until we had a more satis- 
factory and full report. 

December 24, Saturday. Called on the President to com- 
mute the punishment of a person condemned to be hung. 
He at once assented. Is always disposed to mitigate pun- 
ishment, and to grant favors. Sometimes this is a weak- 
ness. As a matter of duty and friendship I mentioned to 
him the case of Laura Jones, a young lady who was resid- 
ing in Richmond and there engaged to be married but 
came up three years ago to attend her sick mother and had 
been unable to pass through the lines and return. I briefly 



208 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 24 

stated her case and handed a letter from her to Mrs. Welles 
that he might read. It was a touching appeal from the poor 
girl, who says truly the years of her youth are passing 
away. I knew if the President read the letter, Laura would 
get the pass. I therefore only mentioned some of the gen- 
eral facts. He at once said he would give her a pass. I told 
him her sympathies were with the Secessionists, and it 
would be better he should read her own statement. But 
he declined and said he would let her go; the war had de- 
populated the country and prevented marriages enough, 
and if he could do a kindness of this sort he was disposed 
to, unless I advised otherwise. He wrote a pass and handed 
me. 

The numerous frauds at the Philadelphia Navy Yard 
are surprising. But it is well to have an exposure, hit 
where and whom it may. 

In the trial of Thurlow Weed at New York for libel on 
Opdyke, Stover, contractor, convicted of fraud, was a wit- 
ness and gave strange testimony. Plaintiff's counsel sued 
for exemplified copy of his conviction. If it comes properly 
from the court, must grant it, but am not disposed to be 
mixed up with the parties. 

Osborn writes, or telegraphs, denying explicitly and un- 
equivocally any knowledge of the publication of the con- 
traband news respecting the attack on Fort Fisher, and 
wishes me to communicate to Secretary Stanton. Sent 
Stanton a copy of the dispatch. 

December 25, Sunday. Have intelligence this evening 
of the capture of Savannah. Hardee fled with his forces. 

The Rebellion is drawing to a close. These operations in 
the heart of the Rebel region are destroying their self-con- 
fidence, and there are symptoms of extreme dissatisfaction 
among them. 

Mr. Eads and Miss Eads of St. Louis, Mr. Faxon, and 
Sam Welles and L. F. Whitin dined with us. 



1864] THE CAPTURE OF SAVANNAH 209 

December 26, Monday. Received a letter from Osborn 
denying that he furnished information concerning opera- 
tions against Fort Fisher. At the same time Mr. Faxon 
tells me that Hart, a correspondent of the Rochester Demo- 
crat, says that paper was informed a fortnight previous. 

Mr. Fox presses for further and more earnest application 
to Stanton for the punishment of 0. Says Stanton thinks 
and asserts that I am not very anxious on the subject. In 
other words he desires me to importune him to harsh and 
general measures against 0. and others. As O. is doubt- 
less already arrested, I wrote Stanton transmitting his de- 
nial, also the letter of the Philadelphia Press, stating besides 
the assertion of Hart, and recommended a speedy trial. 

Three hundred guns were fired by order of the Secretary 
of War on Vermont Avenue on account of the capture of 
Savannah. I felt as joyful as any one, perhaps, over Sher- 
man's success, but I should have dispensed with over two 
hundred and sixty of those guns, had I made the order. 

We have nothing definite or satisfactory from the Wil- 
mington expedition. The weather has not been favorable, 
and there has been almost too imposing a force to furnish 
us as good success as we have sometimes had. 

I have no faith in General Butler's scheme of knocking 
down Fort Fisher by bio wing up a vessel filled with powder. 
Herein I differ with military men. The ordnance officers 
of the Navy and army advised the scheme, and are, as is 
also Fox, quite confident of its success. (Butler's influence.) 
I hope it may be so, and that the powder vessel may get 
near Fort Fisher, and be left by the crew before the explo- 
sion. Could we get Wilmington now along with Savannah, 
the Rebellion would run low. 

December 27, Tuesday. Mr. Seward sends me a letter 
from the British Charge", stating her Majesty's desire to 
confer the Order of the Bath on Lieutenant Pearson 1 and 

1 Lieut. Frederick Pearson, who commanded the United States ship in 
the fight of Sept. 5-8, 1864, with the Japanese. 
2 



210 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 27 

desiring my opinions. I am opposed to the whole thing, 
and regret that our Minister should have pressed our naval 
officers to take any part in the fight with the Japanese. It 
appears to me to have been unnecessary to say the least, 
and this English compliment is designed to fasten us more 
closely with the allies against a people who have mani- 
fested more friendly feelings towards us than any Christian 
power. Mr. Thurlow Weed and Mr. Pruyn may be bene- 
fited. They have the money of the Japanese in their 
pockets. 

At Cabinet to-day Seward, Fessenden, and Stanton were 
absent, the three most important of all who should be pre- 
sent at these meetings. The President was very pleasant 
over a bit of news in the Richmond papers, stating the 
fleet appeared off Fort Fisher, one gunboat got aground 
and was blown up. He thinks it is the powder vessel which 
has made a sensation. It will not surprise me if this is the 
fact. I have at no time had confidence in the expedient. 
But though the powder-boat may fail, I hope the expedi- 
tion will not. It is to be regretted that Butler went with 
the expedition, for though possessed of ability as a civilian 
he has shown no very great military capacity for work like 
this. But he has Weitzel and if he will rely on him all may 
be well. I am apprehensive from what I have heard that 
too large a portion of the troops are black or colored, but 
fear there are too few of either kind, and no first-rate mili- 
tary officers to command and direct them. The Navy will, 
I think, do well. It is a new field for Porter, who has been 
amply supplied with men and boats. 

December 28, Wednesday. I received a dispatch last even- 
ing about midnight, from Lieutenant-Commander Preston 
on board the Santiago de Cuba at Fortress Monroe, having 
been sent off from Wilmington by Admiral Porter. The 
information is not altogether satisfactory. The powder- 
boat was blown up about three hundred yards from Fort 
Fisher. No mention is made of results. I apprehend noth- 



ing serious. Have had no faith in this experiment at any 
time. I fear Porter relied too much upon it, and should not 
be surprised if the expedition would have done better with- 
out than with it. The troops are said to have disembarked 
above Fort Fisher, to have taken some earthworks and 
prisoners, and then to have reembarked. This reads of 
and like Butler. I will not prejudge the men or movements. 

Mr. Seward sent me to-day a line from Thurlow Weed, 
who wanted the pardon or release of Stover. I sent Mr. 
Seward word how I had disposed of a similar application 
from the opposite party, viz. declining to furnish copies to 
outside parties who were in controversy. Mandates from 
the court must be respected. He made a second application 
with similar result, and directly after the second call I re- 
ceived an application from Mr. Brown, agent for the oppo- 
site parties, stating the court had granted a commission 
which would be here to-morrow with interrogatories to ex- 
amine me and the Assistant Secretary. Calling on Mr. 
Seward in the afternoon, I showed him Brown's letter. 
He advised me not to testify nor to give any copies of any 
record. I told him there might be some difficulty or com- 
plaint. He said no, he always refused; told of their sending 
an officer on one occasion to arrest him, [and that] he ap- 
plied to and got from the War Department a guard. It 
was all under the authority of the President, who would 
refuse to give copies of the record and restrain the heads 
of Department from acting as witnesses in such cases. I 
told him I had received no such authority from the Pre- 
sident and should prefer to have it in writing from the 
President himself. I added that if he knew what was the 
President's order or position, he could put it in writing on 
the back of the paper of Brown, and I would stop and get 
the President's signature. He took up a pen, but dropped 
it and said it had better not be in his handwriting. 

After being out a little time, he returned, followed soon 
after by Mr. Hunter with a paper a little longer than 
seemed to me necessary, and with an unfinished sentence. 



212 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 28 

I remarked that the President might say if he thought 
proper the public interest required this testimony should 
be withheld. But this did not suit S., who directed how 
the paper should be finished. 

Returning, I called on the President, who had a large 
crowd in attendance, chiefly females. I stated briefly the 
case and handed him the paper, which he carefully read, 
but said he should want to think of the subject some be- 
fore putting his name to the paper. I told him I was glad 
of it, and would leave the paper with him and would call at 
ten to-morrow for an answer, provided he should then be 
ready to give one. This met his approval. 

December 29, Thursday. I called at the Executive Man- 
sion at precisely ten this A.M. The President was not in. 
Mr. Attorney-General Speed came in soon after, and, 
while waiting for the President I stated to him the case. 
He said he had heard something from Mr. Seward concern- 
ing it last evening. On the question of giving exemplified 
copies of public records and trial by court martial he was 
partly decided that copies should be furnished. The Presid- 
ent came in while we were discussing the subject, and said 
he had not fully determined, but his opinion from the con- 
sideration he had given it coincided with that of Mr. Speed, 
but he proposed to send for Mr. Seward, who shortly came, 
On hearing that the President had hesitated in signing the 
paper prepared by him and doubted its correctness, he was 
very much surprised, not to say chagrined; but when Speed 
joined in those doubts, Seward was annoyed, indeed quite 
angry. He denied that the public papers of any Depart- 
ment were to be subjected to private examination, and most 
emphatically denounced any idea of furnishing copies on 
the claim or demand of any State court or any court in 
a private suit. If it was conceded in a single instance, it 
must be in all. "And," said he, pointing to the private 
shelves of the President, which he keeps locked, "they will 
demand those papers." "But those," said the President, 



1864]" BUTLER'S FAILURE AT WILMINGTON 213 

"are private and confidential, a very different affair." 
"Call them," said Seward, "what you please, you cannot 
retain them from Congress or the court if you concede the 
principle in this case. You cannot discriminate on their 
call;, they will not admit the rectitude of your judgment 
and discrimination, if you give up to them the right of the 
demand now made on the Secretary of the Navy. He 
must not furnish them copies nor must he testify." 

Without being convinced, the President was an attentive 
listener, and I think his faith was somewhat shaken. "We 
will look at this matter fully and carefully," said he. "If 
the Secretary of State is right, we shall all of us be of his 
opinion, for this is a big thing, and this question must have 
been up and passed upon before this day." 

He then decided he would have a legal opinion from the 
Attorney-General, and framed questions for him to answer. 
Some modifications were suggested, and the matter closed 
for the present by the President instructing me not to give 
my evidence or copies till this question was decided. 

Lieutenant[-Commander] Preston arrived this P.M. with 
dispatches from Rear-Admiral Porter off Wilmington. The 
expedition has proved a failure. The powder-ship was a 
mere puff of smoke, doing no damage so far as is known. 
In this I am not disappointed. The Navy silenced the bat- 
teries and did, so far as I can learn, all that we had a right 
to expect. From Lieutenant[-Commander] Preston's oral 
account, as well as from the dispatches, the troops appear 
to have behaved well. It was a mistake that General But- 
ler, a civilian without military knowledge or experience in 
matters of this kind, should have been selected for this 
command. He is not an engineer, or an artillerist. He 
did not land. General Weitzel is wholly under his influ- 
ence, and the two did nothing. Had the military been 
well commanded the results would, in some respects, have 
been different, and, I think, a success. General Butler has 
won laurels under the smoke and fire and fight of the Navy, 
as at Hatteras or at New Orleans, and he flattered 



214 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 29 

himself that he should in like manner be favored at Wil- 
mington. 

General Grant ought never to have given him this com- 
mand. It is unfortunate that Butler is associated with 
Grant, for he has great mental power which gives him un- 
due ascendancy over his official superior. Certainly Gen- 
eral Grant must have known that Butler was not the pro- 
per officer for such an expedition. Why did he give B. this 
command? 

Fox says Grant occasionally gets drunk. I have never 
mentioned the fact to any one, not even to my wife, who 
can be trusted with a secret. There were such rumors of 
him when in the West. . . . 

Went with Fox to the President with Admiral Porter's 
dispatches. He read them carefully through, and after a 
very brief conversation I asked what was now to be done. 
The President said he must refer me to General Grant so 
far as the military part was concerned. He did not know 
that we wanted any advice on naval matters. 

I said we had a large squadron there which we could 
not retain on that station unless something was to be ef- 
fected, for it was wasting our naval strength. He said he 
hoped we had at this time enough vessels to close the ports 
to blockade-runners, and again said, " I must refer you to 
General Grant." 

We left the President about 3.30 P.M. I had then much 
of my mail to get off. Did not leave the Department until 
ten. After dinner, took my usual walk. Fox called at my 
house, and a dispatch was framed to Grant as the President 
had directed. I said to Fox that it ought to go through 
Stanton, or that he should see it. When he was leaving 
and after he had got the door open, Fox said Stanton might 
not be at the Department, and would be likely to oppose 
if he was, and he doubted if it was best to say anything to 
him. Inconsiderately I assented, or rather did not dissent. 

December 30, Friday. At Cabinet various speculations. 



18641 BUTLER'S FAILURE AT WILMINGTON 215 

Fessenden and Stanton, as usual, absent. President says 
Stanton readily gives up Butler, but makes a point whether 
Porter is any better. I do not admit this to be just to Por- 
ter, who is an energetic officer, though naval-wise not a 
lucky one, nor has he some of the qualities which give an 
easy time to those who administer the Department and 
would wish to economize in expenditures. There may be 
with some of those who cooperate with him cause to com- 
plain that he is not always observant of their rights, yet I 
do not remember to have heard that complaint from Sher- 
man, Grant, or any trained military man. I do not sup- 
pose he has great respect for Butler, as a general or as the 
commander of the military of this expedition. But I have 
not yet heard of anything derelict on his part, or any 
act of commission or omission towards the military com- 
mander. 

December 31, Saturday. Mr. Stanton sent, informing me 
he had a private telegram from General Grant which he 
would submit. I had last night word from General G. in- 
forming me of the fact. 

Stanton I found in a very pleasant mood, not at all dis- 
posed to defend or justify Butler, whose course he com- 
mented on and disapproved. In doing this, however, he 
censured Porter as being indiscreet and at fault; but when 
I dissented and asked wherein he was to blame, Stanton 
made no attempt to specify, but spoke of him as blatant, 
boisterous, bragging, etc. The dispatch of General Grant 
stated he had received my telegram, that he should imme- 
diately organize another expedition secretly, which he 
hoped to get off by Monday, would give sealed orders not 
to be opened until outside, and that no one but himself, 
the quartermaster, and telegraphic operator in cipher 
should have the contents. Stanton said no one but him- 
self and the telegraph-operator knew the contents. I told 
him I should inform Fox, for I must have some one to as- 
sist and with whom alone I would consult. 



Commodore Rodgers came up from the fleet and en- 
tered just after I returned from the War Department. He 
is very indignant that the military part of the expedition 
should have been such a total failure, and is indignant to- 
wards Butler, who, he says, has defeated the whole expe- 
dition, which, with a military commander of courage and 
skill, would have been a success. I went with the Commo- 
dore to the President, who read Admiral Porter's dispatch 
and listened calmly to the statements of Rodgers denounc- 
ing Butler and his failures, at Petersburg, at Richmond, 
and now at Wilmington. 

Sent Fox to Stanton to detain the steamboat at Balti- 
more until a special messenger, Lieutenant-Commander 
Preston, could arrive and proceed in her to Hampton 
Roads and there take a boat for Wilmington. Telegraphed 
to Norfolk to have a boat ready for Preston to go immedi- 
ately on board. The Newbern was ready, Barry telegraphs 
this evening. Preston bore dispatch to Porter to hold his 
own, for Grant promises to send a military force by Mon- 
day or at farthest by Tuesday. 

Butler has a well-prepared article in the Norfolk Regime, 
written by Clark, the editor, a creature of his but a man of 
some ability. The general himself undoubtedly assisted in 
its concoction. But military as well as naval men, without 
a single exception that has come to my knowledge, cen- 
sure the general and commend the admiral. My own con- 
victions are decidedly with the Navy, and I believe I can 
judge impartially, notwithstanding my connection with 
the Navy. I do not think Grant entirely exempt from 
blame in having permitted such a man as Butler to have 
command of such an expedition. I so told Stanton this 
morning, and recommended to him that they should be 
dissociated, that Butler should be sent to some distant 
position, where he might exercise his peculiar and extra- 
ordinary talent as a police officer or military governor, but 
not to trust him with any important military command. 
I am not certain we should have been able to engage the 



1864] BUTLER'S FAILURE AT WILMINGTON 217 

army in this expedition but for Butler, and we could not 
have enlisited Butler had we not assented to the powder- 
boat. That was not regular military, and had it been a suc- 
cess, the civilian General would have had a triumph. 



XXVI 

The Peace Mission of the Blairs Sherman's Captured Cotton The 
Wilmington Expedition Discussion of what to do with the Negroes 
General Butler's Dismissal from Command of the Army of the James 
An Estimate of his Character Death of Edward Everett His Sup- 
port of the Navy Department Rejoicings over the Capture of Fort 
Fisher Attitude of Evening Post and Mr. Bryant towards the Navy 
Department Stanton's Visit to Savannah Southern Pride Efforts 
on behalf of the Smith Brothers after their Conviction Prospects of 
Peace The Qualities of Assistant Secretary Fox The Constitu- 
tional Amendment abolishing Slavery passes the House. 

January 1, 1865, Sunday. The date admonishes me of 
passing time and accumulating years. Our country is still 
in the great struggle for national unity and national life; 
but progress has been made during the year that has just 
terminated, and it seems to me the Rebellion is not far 
from its close. The years that I have been here have been 
oppressive, wearisome, and exhaustive, but I have labored 
willingly, if sometimes sadly, in the cause of my country 
and of mankind. 

What mischief has the press performed and is still doing 
in the Rebel States by stimulating the people to crime by 
appeals to their manhood, to their courage, to all that they 
hold dear, to prosecute the war against the most benignant 
government that a people ever had ! Violent misrepresenta- 
tion and abuse, such as first led them to rebel, are still con- 
tinued. The suppression for a period of the Rebel press in 
Richmond, Charleston, and one or two other points would 
do more than armies in putting an end to this unnatural 
war. 

Mr. Solicitor Chandler, who has charge of the cases of 
fraud at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, made a report and 
spent some time with me this morning. 



1865] THE BLAIRS' PEACE MISSION 219 

Had some talk with Mr. Merritt, 1 Fox, and Faxon con- 
cerning Osborn, the reporter for Sunday newspapers of 
naval matters. Merritt thinks he is misapprehended in re- 
gard to late publications. Fox thinks not, and claims he 
has facts showing Osborn to be an unmitigated rascal. I 
am inclined to think him a bad fellow, but am not alto- 
gether satisfied with the course pursued in his arrest. 

January 2, Monday. This is the day for official inter- 
change, yesterday being Sunday. Was at the Executive 
Mansion precisely at twelve, as requested, with Mrs. 
Welles, the first Cabinet officer to arrive, I believe, al- 
though the others were there within ten minutes. Many 
of the foreign ministers and their suites were there, prob- 
ably all. Some of them came in advance. Remained over 
half an hour and returned home. Received until 4 P.M. 
The day is one which the people seem to enjoy, and one 
which they want. A little more system at the President's 
would improve matters. 

January 3, Tuesday. Much engaged. The two days 
have brought an amount of business which it is difficult to 
dispose of in a single day. But three of us at the Cabinet- 
meeting. Various little matters talked up. 

Old Mr. Blair was lingering hi an adjoining room during 
the latter part of our sitting. Rumor has said that he and 
his son Montgomery had gone on a peace mission, and that 
Davis had invited them to Richmond. Nothing has been 
said to me on the subject, yet I am inclined to believe there 
has been a demonstration sufficient for the rumor. They 
have, for some purpose, been to the front, their absence has 
been longer than was contemplated, but I am not confident 
that any results have been obtained. 

Simeon Draper, Collector of Customs at New York, 
called on me a few days since, stating that he had been ap- 
pointed cotton agent by the Secretary of the Treasury, to 

1 M. F. Merritt of Connecticut, a personal friend of Secretary Welles. 



220 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 3 

proceed to Savannah and dispose of the captured cotton 
recently taken by Sherman. Draper called to get from me 
a letter of introduction to Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, as he 
would be likely to be thrown in Dahlgren's company. Of 
course, I could not refuse. But the idea of sending such a 
man on such a mission, when he has more than any one 
honest man can do to discharge his duties as a collector 
faithfully, sickened me. Fessenden certainly knows as lit- 
tle of men as Chase. This mission of Draper will be a swin- 
dle, I can scarcely doubt. A ring will be formed for the 
purchase of the cotton, regardless of public or private 
rights. 

January 4, Wednesday. Called on the President to con- 
sult as to the selection of counsel in the Henderson case, 
since the death of William Curtis Noyes. Told him I 
thought we should have the best lawyer we could obtain, 
for the defense had secured Evarts and Pierrepont, and 
suggested the name of 0' Conor provided we could secure 
his services. He is of the opposite party in politics, but in 
a matter of this kind the public interest should not be per- 
mitted to suffer from that cause. It may be difficult to 
secure him, for I understand he has relinquished his prac- 
tice. The President heartily concurred in my views and 
earnestly advised that 0' Conor should be employed. 

The President does not yet decide whether exemplified 
copies shall be furnished in the Stover case, but Mr. Speed 
informs me that there can be no question that they should 
be furnished. This will, I presume, be the result; but, in- 
quiring to-day for the record, it is found to be missing from 
the Department. Some months since the President called 
for it, and it was, I understood, committed to the custody 
of Mr. Browning, counsel for Stover. 

A special messenger from Admiral Porter brings word 
that the fleet is at Beaufort. Rode home with Stanton, 
who tells me the troops are embarking at Hampton Roads 
to-day for Wilmington. 



] THE WILMINGTON EXPEDITION 221 

anuary 5, Thursday. Congress reassembled to-day, 
ay Members absent. Some talk with Montgomery 
ir relative to the visitation of himself and father with a 
v of reaching Richmond. He says they got no answer 
a Jeff Davis until since their return to Washington, 
father will go down again in a few days. Sent for Com- 
ider Parker to come here with the Don to convey [him] 
ikely to attract less attention. 

he papers comment on his mission. A corps of corre- 
idents always on the watch will form often very shrewd 
sometimes very correct opinions as to the object and 
pose of movements. In this instance, the first intima- 
. which I had or saw was in the National Intelligencer, 
eh has recently changed hands, and which heretofore 
not had the reputation of giving first news. 

anuary 6, Friday. Special messenger from Admiral 
ter arrived this morning with dispatches. Left the 
airal and the fleet in Beaufort, coaling, refitting, tak- 
in supplies, etc. He is not for giving up, but is deter- 
ed to have Wilmington. We shall undoubtedly get 
place, but I hardly know when. In the mean time he 
Ls a large part of our naval force locked up. Admirals, 
generals, do not like to part with any portion of their 
mands. As things are, I cannot well weaken him by 
idrawing his vessels, yet justice to others requires it. 
airal Porter wrote to General Sherman in his distress, 
he sent me Sherman's reply. It shows great confid- 
3 on the part of General' Sherman in the Admiral, and 
confidence is mutual. Instead of sending Porter troops 
writes him that he proposes to march through the 
olinas to Wilmington and in that way capture the 
e. He does not propose to stop and trouble himself 
L Charleston. Says he shall leave on the 10th inst. 
3 can get his supplies, and names two or three places 
the seaboard to receive supplies; mentions Bull's 
, Georgetown, and Masonborough. His arrangement 



222 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. e 

and plan strike me favorably; but it will be four or five 
weeks before he can reach Wilmington, and we cannot 
keep our vessels there locked up so long. Besides, General 
Grant has sent forward a military force from Hampton 
Roads to cooperate with the fleet, a fact unknown to 
Sherman when his letter was written. Whether this will 
interfere with or disarrange Sherman's plan is a question. 
I am told General Terry is detailed to command the mil- 
itary. He is a good man and good officer yet not the one 
I should have selected unless attended by a well-trained 
and experienced artillery or engineer officer. 

I am apprehensive that General Grant has not discrim- 
inating powers as regards men and fails in measuring their 
true character and adaptability to particular service. He 
has some weak and improper surroundings; does not ap- 
preciate the strong and particular points of character, 
but thinks what one man can do another can also achieve. 

The papers are discussing the Wilmington expedition. 
Generally they take a correct view. The New York Trib- 
une, in its devotion to Butler, closes its eyes to all facts. 
Butler is their latest idol, and his faults and errors they 
will not admit, but would sacrifice worth and truth, good 
men and the country, for their parasite. 

At the Cabinet-meeting no very important matter was 
taken up. There was a discussion opened by Attorney- 
General Speed, as to the existing difficulties in regard to 
the government of the negro population. They are not 
organized nor is any pains taken to organize them and 
teach them to take care of themselves or to assist the 
government in caring for them. He suggests that the 
Rebel leaders will bring them into their ranks, and blend 
and amalgamate them as fighting men, will give them 
commissions and make them officers. The President said 
when they had reached that stage the cause of war would 
cease and hostilities cease with it. The evil would cure 
itself. Speed is prompted by Stanton, who wants power. 



1865] GENERAL BUTLER'S DISMISSAL 223 

January 14, Saturday. The week has been one of inter- 
esting incidents, incessant occupation. Admiral Farra- 
gut came a week since and called on me. After half an 
hour or more of conversation on affairs connected with 
his command, the capture of Mobile, and matters gener- 
ally, I went with him to the President. In the evening, 
he, with Mrs. F. and Captain Drayton, spent the evening 
with us. 

Much speculation has been had concerning the dismissal 
of General Butler. It was anticipated that, being a fa- 
vorite with the extremists, his dismissal would create a 
great excitement, but it has passed off without irritation, 
almost without sensation. The quidnuncs and, indeed, 
most of the public impute his dismissal from the Army of 
the James to the Wilmington failure; but it will soon be 
known that General Grant desired to get rid of him. 
Butler's greater intellect overshadowed Grant, and an- 
noyed and embarrassed the General-in-Chief. 

General Butler's farewell to his army is in many respects 
skillful and adroit, but in some respects will prove a fail- 
ure. He does not conceal his chagrin but has hardly dis- 
covered whom to strike. 

The New York Tribune has striven to warp and torture 
facts to help Butler, regardless of others and of stern truth. 
But the Tribune is unsupported. Of course the Rebels and 
Copperheads will be gratified, and do not conceal their joy. 
They have some cause for their hate, for he has been a 
severe, perhaps in some cases an oppressive, governor. 

I cannot forget, while glad he is withdrawn from the 
Fort Fisher command, which he was unfitted to fill, the 
service which he rendered at Baltimore and in Maryland 
early in the War, nor his administrative ability at New 
Orleans, with some infirmities it is true, but which was in 
many respects valuable to the country. Not a merit which 
he has should be obscured. I am not his admirer, and 
should lament to see him in any responsible position with- 
out a superior. He has inordinate and irrepressible am- 



224 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 14 

bition, and would scruple at nothing to gratify it and his 
avarice. 

The Committee on the Conduct of the War have sum- 
moned him to Washington. There was mischief in this. 
He had been ordered by the President to Lowell. The 
President yielded. It was well, perhaps, for Butler was 
off duty. But in Washington he will help the mischief- 
makers make trouble and stimulate intrigue and faction. 
Allied with Wade and Chandler and H. Winter Davis, 
he will not only aid but breed mischief. This is intended, 

Seward fears him. There is no love between them, and 
yet S. would prefer to avoid a conflict. Butler has the 
reckless audacity attributed to tbe worst revolutionists of 
France, in the worst of times, but is deficient in personal 
courage. He is a suitable idol for Greeley, a profound 
philanthropist, being the opposite of G. in almost every- 
thing except love of notoriety. 

The discoveries and disclosures in the Philadelphia 
Navy Yard are astounding. Some twenty or more ar- 
rests have been made, and many of the parties confess 
their criminality. Some of the worst have not, but the 
proof against them is strong. 

As these men, with scarcely an exception, are friends 
of the Pennsylvania delegation and appointees of the Ad- 
ministration, extraordinary efforts will be made in their 
behalf. The Representatives in Congress have, however, 
thus far behaved pretty well. Kelley protests that he will 
stand by no culprit, yet several he pronounces to be among 
the honestest men in Philadelphia, wants them released 
and restored. 

In Boston the trial of Smith Brothers is brought to a 
close. It has been on hand some three months. This P.M. 
(Saturday) Senator Sumner and Representative Hooper 
called on me with a telegram from the counsel of Smith 
objecting to the court for the next trial. F. W. Smith's 
trial is ended; Ben is assigned for next week. The counsel 
request Sumner to call upon me, and, if I will not grant 



55] DEATH OF EDWARD EVERETT 225 

eir request, to go to the President. I told them I was 
t disposed to consider the subject, and Sumner said he 
is not inclined to call on the President. 
Contentions and rivalries in the Washington Navy Yard 
ve annoyance. Twenty per cent of the workmen are 
smissed by order of the Department, and the Senators 
id Representatives from Maryland object that any Mary- 
cider should be of the number dismissed. These strifes 
aong the men and the combinations among the rogues 
id their friends in the different cities are exciting and 
awing out attacks and intrigues against me. The inter- 
fence of Members of Congress is injurious. 

January 16, Monday, Mr. Eames has returned and 
ings me word that 0' Conor decides he will not break 
r er his rule of trying no more jury cases. He therefore 
sclines to undertake the case of Henderson. Advises that 
should take Caleb Gushing. This does not exactly corn- 
et with my views, and yet after looking over the whole 
ound it appears to me that the best thing I can do 
.11 be to give him the cases of the Navy agencies. The 
esident, with whom I have consulted, approves this 
urse. 

Edward Everett died suddenly yesterday morning, 
e 15th. It seems a national loss, although he has reached 
ripe age. His last four years have been useful and dis- 
ayed more manly vigor and wholesome, intellectual, en- 
getic action than he has ever before exhibited. Hereto- 
re, with high mental culture and great scholastic attain- 
ents, his policy has been artificial and conventional, 
it latterly his course has been natural. At no moment of 
3 life did he stand better with his countrymen than when 
ricken down. I am indebted to him for many encour- 
;ing words and kind support in my administration of the 
avy Department. Our party associations ran in differ- 
.t channels until the advent of Lincoln, but from the 
mmencement of the War he frankly, earnestly, and ef- 
2 



226 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. ie 

ficiently aided me in many ways. He has written much, 
and with success, for the Navy in this great struggle. 

General Butler called on me this P.M. He has come to 
testify before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, 
called probably on his own suggestion, greatly pre- 
ferring Washington, for the present at least, to Lowell. I 
am sorry he has come here. It is for no good or patriotic 
purpose, I apprehend. As for the "Committee on the Con- 
duct of the War," who have brought him here, they are 
most of them narrow and prejudiced partisans, mischiev- 
ous busybodies, and a discredit to Congress. Mean and 
contemptible partisanship colors all their acts. Secretly 
opposed to the President, they hope to make something 
of Butler, who has ability and is a good deal indignant, 
I am not disposed to do injustice to Butler, nor do I wish 
to forget the good service he has rendered, but I cannot 
be his partisan, nor do I think the part he acted in the 
Wilmington expedition j ustifiable. He does not state clearly 
what his expectations and intentions were, but is clear 
and unequivocal in his opinion that Fort Fisher could not 
be taken except by siege, for which he had no preparation. 
General Grant could not have been of that opinion or 
a siege train would have been sent. In a half-hour's con- 
versation he made no satisfactory explanation, although 
ingenious and always ready with an answer. 

January 17, Tuesday. The glorious news of the capture 
of Fort Fisher came this morning. We had two or three 
telegrams from Porter and officers of the Navy and 
Generals Terry and Comstock of the army. Fort Fisher 
was taken Sunday evening by assault, after five hours' 
hard fighting. The sailors and marines participated in 
the assault. We lose Preston and Porter, two of the very 
best young officers of our navy. Have not yet particulars. 

This will be severe for Butler, who insisted that the 
place could not be taken but by a siege, since his powder- 
boat failed. 



THE CAPTURE OF FORT FISHER 227 

te Admiral Porter a hasty private note, while the 
iger was waiting, congratulating him. It is a great 
ih for Porter, greater since the first failure and 
ference with Butler. 

he Cabinet-meeting there was a very pleasant feel- 
sward thought there was little now for the Navy to 
Dennison thought he would like a few fast steamers 
,il service. The President was happy. Says he is 
I with the manners and views of some who address 
rho tell him that he is now reflected and can do 
he has a mind to, which means that he can do some 
ihy thing that the person who addresses him has a 
o. There is very much of this, 
an interview with Caleb Gushing, who called at my 
on the subject of retaining him in the cases of the 
agencies. Mr. Eames, who came with him, had 
i the subject, and agreed as to the compensation 
as which I had previously stipulated. 

lary 18, Wednesday. The congratulations over the 
3 of Fort Fisher are hearty and earnest. Some few 
[ have met are a little out of humor. General Butler 
Dt appear gladsome, and it is not in human nature 
3 should. H. Winter Davis, who for some cause 
me, is not satisfied. I do not doubt that he is glad 
e succeeded, but he does not like it that any credit 
even remotely come to me. There are three or four 
to him. 

tractors are here innumerable for relief. Dema- 
assail me on one hand for expenditures, while con- 
s complain that their bargains with the Depart- 
re so losing that they must have relief. 

mry 21, Saturday. The congratulations and hearty 
>f the people over the victory at Fort Fisher are 
ratifying. It is a comfort, too, to see, with scarcely 
option, that there is a rightful appreciation of the 



228 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 21 

true merits of those who engaged in the contest, as well as 
of those who planned and persistently carried out this work. 

But there is a contemptible spirit in one or two partisan 
journals that indicates the dark side of party and per- 
sonal malice. The Evening Post in the capture of Fort 
Fisher makes no mention of the Navy. In some comments 
the succeeding day, the ill feeling again displays itself. 
The army is extolled, the Navy is ignored in the capture, 
and turned off and told to go forward and take Wilmington, 
which the editor says Admiral Porter can do if as eager as 
he has been for cotton bales. This gross and slanderous 
injustice called out a rebuke from G. W. Blunt which the 
editor felt bound to publish, but accompanied it with churl- 
ish, ill-natured, virulent, and ill-concealed malevolence. 
All this acrimony proceeds from the fact that the pub- 
lisher of the Post is arrested and under indictment for fraud 
and malfeasance, and the Navy Department has declined 
to listen to the appeals of the editors to forbear prosecut- 
ing him. Henderson's guilt is known to them, yet I am 
sorry to perceive that even Mr. Bryant wishes to rescue 
H. from exposure and punishment, and, worse than that, 
is vindictive and maliciously revengeful, because I will not 
condone crime. No word of kindness or friendship has 
come to me or been uttered for me in the columns of the 
Post since Henderson's arrest, and the Navy is defamed 
and its officers abused and belied on this account. In this 
business I try to persuade myself that Godwin and Hen- 
derson are the chief actors; but Mr. Bryant himself is not 
wholly ignorant of what is done. 

At the Cabinet-meeting yesterday Stanton gave an in- 
teresting detail of his trip to Savannah and the condition 
of things in that city. His statements were not so full and 
comprehensive as I wished, nor did I get at the real object 
of his going, except that it was for his health, which seems 
improved. There is, he says, little or no loyalty in Sa- 
vannah and the women are frenzied, senseless partisans. 
He says much of the cotton was claimed as British pro- 



1865] STANTON'S VISIT TO SAVANNAH 229 

perty, they asserting it had the British mark upon it. Sher- 
man told them in reply he had found the British mark on 
every battle-field. The muskets, cartridges, caps, projec- 
tiles were all British, and had the British mark upon them. 
I am glad he takes this ground and refuses to surrender up 
property purchased or pretended to be purchased during 
the War, but which belongs in fact to the Confederate 
government. Mr. Seward has taken a different and more- 
submissive view, to my great annoyance on more than one 
occasion, though his concessions were more generally 
to French claimants. 

I am apprehensive, from the statement of Stanton, and 
of others also, that the Rebels are not yet prepared to 
return to duty and become good citizens. They have not, 
it would seem, been humbled enough, but must be reduced 
to further submission. Their pride, self-conceit, and arro- 
gance must be brought down. They have assumed supe- 
riority, and boasted and blustered, until the wretched 
boasters had brought themselves to believe they really 
were a superior class, better than the rest of their country- 
men, or the world. Generally these vain fellows were desti- 
tute of any honest and fair claim to higher lineage or fam- 
ily, but are adventurers, or the sons of adventurers, who 
went South as mechanics or slave-overseers. The old 
stock have been gentlemanly aristocrats, to some extent, 
but lack that common-sense energy which derives its 
strength from toil. The Yankee and Irish upstarts or 
their immediate descendants have been more violent and 
extreme than the real Southerners, but working together 
they have wrought their own destruction. How soon they 
will possess the sense and judgment to seek and have 
peace is a problem. Perhaps there must be a more thor- 
ough breakdown of the whole framework of society, a 
greater degradation, and a more effectual wiping out of 
family and sectional pride in order to eradicate the aristo- 
cratic folly which has brought the present calamities upon 
themselves and the country. If the fall of Savannah and 



230 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 21 

Wilmington will not bring them to conciliatory measures 
and friendly relations, the capture of Richmond and 
Charleston will not effect it. They may submit to what 
they cannot help, but their enmity will remain. A few 
weeks will enlighten us. 

January 23, Monday. There was a smart brush in the 
House to-day between Brooks and Stevens, the cause of 
controversy General Butler, or rather a letter which 
Brooks had received and construed into a challenge. It 
will serve for a day or two to divert attention from the 
Wilmington affair, which must annoy Butler, who is still 
here under the order of the summons of the Committee on 
the Conduct of the War. 

January 24, Tuesday. President sent for me this even- 
ing. Found Stanton with him, having a dispatch from 
General Grant desiring him to request me to remove Com- 
mander Parker, the senior officer on the upper James. 
After some conversation, informing them that we had two 
gunboats above, and that the Atlanta and Ironsides had 
been ordered thither, I mentioned that Farragut was here, 
and the President sent for him. On hearing how matters 
stood, he at once volunteered to visit the force. The 
President was pleased with it, and measures were at once 
taken. 

I rode down to Willard's after parting at the Executive 
Mansion and had a few additional words with Admiral 
Farragut and invited Mrs. F. to stop at our house during 
the Admiral's absence. 

January 28, Saturday. Have been busy, with no time 
to write in this book, Congress calling for information, 
bills preparing, and a mass of investigations at the navy 
yards, all to be attended to in addition to current busi- 
ness. Mr. Fox has gone with General Grant to Fort Fisher. 

Strange efforts are being made by some of our Massa- 



1865] PROSPECTS OF PEACE 231 

chusetts men for Smith Brothers, who have been tried for 
frauds and convicted. This is but one of many cases, and 
to relieve them because they are wealthy, and have posi- 
tion, ecclesiastical and political, must prevent the punish- 
ment of others. The President wrote me that he desired 
to see the case before it was disposed of. I told him I cer- 
tainly intended he should do so after witnessing the press- 
ure that was brought to bear. He said he had never 
doubted it, but " There was no way to get rid of the crowd 
that was upon me," said he, "but by sending you a note." 

The Philadelphia cases of fraud are very annoying and 
aggravating. Our own party friends are interceding for 
some of the accused. They have not yet, like the Massa- 
chusetts gents, besieged the President, but they will do 
so. Their wives and relatives are already appealing to 
me. 

To-day J. P. Hale had a tirade on the Department, de- 
nouncing it for prosecuting the Smiths. Was malicious 
towards both the Assistant Secretary and myself, and 
strove, as he has formerly done, to sow dissension, and 
stir up bad feeling. The poor fellow is having his last rant 
and raving against the Navy Department. 

January 30. Great talk and many rumors from all 
quarters of peace. The journeys of the elder Blair to 
Richmond have contributed to these rumors, both here and 
at Richmond. I am not certain that early measures may 
not be taken, yet I do not expect immediate results. There 
were, however, many singular things in the early days of 
these troubles, and there may be as singular things in 
its close. There is difficulty in negotiating, or treating, 
with the Rebels. At the commencement Mr. Seward con- 
sulted and diplomatized with the organs of the Rebels, and 
supposed he could shape and direct their movements. I 
should not be surprised were he to fall into the same train 
of conduct at the close, perhaps with more success now 
than at the beginning. The President, with much shrewd- 



232 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. so 

ness and much good sense, has often strange and incompre- 
hensible whims; takes sometimes singular and unaccount- 
able freaks. It would hardly surprise me were he to under- 
take to arrange terms of peace without consulting any 
one. I have no doubt that the senior Blair has made his 
visits in concert with the President. Seward may have 
been in the movement. He has queer fancies for a states- 
man. He told me last week that he had looked in no book 
on international law or admiralty law since he entered 
on the duties of his present office. His thoughts, he says, 
come to the same conclusions as the writers and students. 
This he has said to me more than once. In administrat- 
ing the government he seems to have little idea of constitu- 
tional and legal restraints, but acts as if the ruler was 
omnipotent. Hence he has involved himself in constant 
difficulties. 

Admiral Farragut returned from James River Saturday 
night and came directly to my house, and spent yesterday 
with me. The condition of things on the upper James was 
much as I supposed. Commander Parker seems not to 
have been equal to his position, but I must have his own 
account before forming a decided opinion. 

I subsequently learned that Fox, who was present at 
the close of the interview at the President's on the evening 
of the 24th, and by whom I sent telegrams to General 
Grant and Commodore Parker, had, on reaching the tele- 
graph office, substituted his own name for mine to the com- 
munications. Farragut, who was present and knew the 
facts and what took place at the President's, learned what 
Fox had done when he arrived at Grant's quarters, for 
he saw the telegrams. The proceeding was certainly an 
improper one, and it is not surprising that Farragut was 
indignant. 

I have, on one or two occasions, detected something 
similar in Fox in regard to important orders, where he 
had been intrusive or obtrusive, evidently to get his name 
in the history of these times, and perhaps to carry the 




GUSTAVUS V. FOX 



1865] THE QUALITIES OF MR. FOX 233 

impression that he was at least a coadjutor with the 
Secretary in naval operations. 

Farragut "assures me he has observed and detected this 
disposition and some objectionable acts in Fox, as in this 
instance, which he thinks should be reproved and cor- 
rected, but while I regret these faults I have deemed them 
venial. 

I perceive that Admiral Farragut, like many of the 
officers, is dissatisfied with Mr. Fox, who, he says, as- 
sumes too much and presumes too much. There is truth 
in this, but yet it is excusable perhaps. I wish it were 
otherwise. He is very serviceable and, to me, considerate, 
deferring and acquiescing in my decision when fixed, 
readily and more cheerfully than most others; but he is, 
I apprehend, often rough with persons who have business 
at the Department. In many respects, in matters that are 
non-essentials, I yield to him and others, and it annoys 
many by reason of his manner and language. His position 
is a hard one to fill. The second person in any organiza- 
tion, especially if he is true and faithful to his principal, 
incurs the censure and ill-will of the multitude. For these 
things allowance must be made. Fox commits some mis- 
takes which cause me trouble, and it is one of his infirmities 
to shun a fair and honest responsibility for his own errors. 
This is perhaps human nature, and therefore excusable. 
With the Naval officers he desires to be considered all- 
powerful, and herein is another weakness. But he is fa- 
miliar with the service and has his heart in its success. 

Admiral Farragut favors a Board of Admiralty. It is a 
favorite theme with others to give naval ascendancy in 
court sessions. I can perceive arguments in its favor which 
would relieve the Secretary of labor, provided rightly con- 
stituted and properly regulated. There would, however, be 
jealousies in the service of such a board, as there are of the 
Assistant Secretary. It would be claimed that it dictated 
to the Secretary and abused his confidence. It would not 
be beneficial to the government and country. 



234 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 31 

January 31, Tuesday. I made a short stay at Cabinet 
to-day. The President was about to admit a delegation 
from New York to an interview which I did not care to 
attend. The vote was taken to-day in the House on the 
Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery, which was 
carried 119 to 56. It is a step towards the reestablishment 
of the Union in its integrity, yet it will be a shock to the 
framework of Southern society. But that has already been 
sadly shattered by their own inconsiderate and calamitous 
course. When, however, the cause, or assignable cause for 
the Rebellion is utterly extinguished, the States can and 
will resume their original position, acting each for itself . 
How soon the people in those States will arrive at right 
conclusions on this subject cannot now be determined. 

John P. Hale is giving his last venomous rants against 
the Navy Department. He has introduced a resolution 
calling for certain information, the adoption of which was 
opposed by Conness, the small-pattern Senator from Cali- 
fornia. I should have been glad to have it slightly amended 
and adopted, although it might give me some labor, at a 
time when my hands are full, to respond. 



XXVII 

miral Porter's Advancement The President and Seward meet the 
Confederate Commissioners at Hampton Roads A Board of Admi- 
ralty proposed in the House and voted down The President's Peace 
Measure Fessenden as Secretary of the Treasury Morgan his Pos- 
sible Successor General Sherman's Ability Morgan declines the 
Treasury Portfolio News of the Capture of Fort Anderson The 
Brightest Day in Four Years Hugh McCulloch mentioned for the 
Treasury Seward on Chase's Service in the Cabinet Blair on 
Seward's Intrigues with Secessionists at the Beginning of the War. 

February 1, Wednesday. The board of which Admiral 
,rragut is President is in session. Their duties to advise 

the subject of promotion for meritorious conduct in 
ttle. I am not disposed to act under this law without 
nsultation with and advice from earnest men in the 
vice. There is a disposition to place Porter in advance 

Fox, to which I cannot assent unless it comports with 
3 views and opinions of senior men, who are entitled to 
3ak on a question that so nearly concerns them. Ad- 
ral Porter is a man of courage and resources, but has 
eady been greatly advanced, and has some defects 
d weaknesses. 

February 2. The President and Mr. Seward have gone 
Hampton Roads to have an interview with the Rebel 
Domissioners, Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell. None 
the Cabinet were advised of this move, and without 
3eption, I think, it struck them unfavorably that the 
lief Magistrate should have gone on such a mission. 

February 4, Saturday. There was yesterday no meeting 
the Cabinet. This morning the members were notified 
meet at twelve meridian. All were punctually on hand, 
le President with Mr. Seward got home this morning. 



Both speak of the interview with the Rebel commissioners 
as having been pleasant and without acrimony. Seward 
did not meet or have interview with them until the Pre- 
sident arrived. No results were obtained, but the discus- 
sion will be likely to tend to peace. In going the Presid- 
ent acted from honest sincerity and without pretension. 
Perhaps this may have a good effect, and perhaps other- 
wise. He thinks he better than any agent can negotiate 
and arrange. Seward wants to do this. 

For a day or two, the naval appropriation bill has been 
under consideration in the House. A combination, of 
which H. Winter Davis is the leader, made it the occasion 
for an onset on the Department and the Administration. 
The move was sneaking and disingenuous, very much in 
character with Davis, who is unsurpassed for intrigue and 
has great talents for it. He moved an amendment, having 
for its object a Board of Admiralty, which should control 
the administration of the Department. The grounds of 
this argument were that the Department had committed 
errors and he wanted a board of naval officers to prevent 
it. He presents the British system for our guidance and of 
course has full scope to assail and misrepresent whatever 
has been done. But, unfortunately for Davis, the English 
are at this time considering the question of abandoning 
their system. 

Mr. Rice, Chairman of the Naval Committee, a Boston 
merchant, is reported to have made a full and ample and 
most successful reply to Davis, who was voted down. I 
have not doubted the result, but there was a more formid- 
able effort made than was at first apparent. The Speaker, 
who is not a fair and ingenuous man, although he professes 
to be so, and also to be personally friendly to me, is strictly 
factious and in concert with the extremists. In prepara- 
tion for this contest he had called General Schenck to the 
chair. Schenck is one of the Winter Davis clique, and so 
far as he dare permit it to be seen, and more distinctly than 
he supposes, has the sympathy of Colfax. Stevens, Chair- 



565] THE PRESIDENT'S PEACE MEASURE 237 

ian of the Ways and Means, is of the same stripe. It is 
combination of the radicals prompted and assisted by 
>u Pont and Wilkes. Hitherto hating each other, and in- 
idiously drawing in others, the miserable wretched com- 
mations of malcontents and intriguers, political and 
ival, had flattered themselves they should succeed. But 
ley were voted down. I am told, however, that under 
ie rulings and management of the hypocritically sancti- 
.onious Speaker the subject is to be reopened. 

February 6, Monday. There was a Cabinet-meeting 
st evening. The President had matured a scheme which 
3 hoped would be successful in promoting peace. It was 
proposition for paying the expenses of the war for two 
indred days, or four hundred millions, to the Rebel 
:ates,to be for the extinguishment of slavery, or for such 
irpose as the States were disposed. This in few words 
as the scheme. It did not meet with favor, but was 
:opped. The earnest desire of the President to conciliate 
id effect peace was manifest, but there may be such a 
ling as so overdoing as to cause a distrust or adverse 
eling. In the present temper of Congress the proposed 
easure, if a wise one, could not be carried through suc- 
issfully. 

I do not think the scheme could accomplish any good 
suits. The Rebels would misconstrue it if the offer was 
ade. If attempted and defeated it would do harm. 
The vote of to-day in the House on the renewed effort 
Winter Davis to put the Navy Department in commis- 
m was decided against him. He and his associates had 
trigued skillfully. They relied on the Democrats going 
ith them in any measure against the Administration, 
id, having succeeded in rebuking Seward for his con- 
ict of our foreign affairs in not conforming to their views, 
avis and his friends now felt confident that they could 
directly admonish me. But a portion of the Democrats 
icame aware of the intrigue, and declined to be made the 



DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 6 

instruments of the faction. It seems to have been a sore 
disappointment. 

February 1, Tuesday. Very little before the Cabinet. 
The President, when I entered the room, was reading with 
much enjoyment certain portions of Petroleum V. Nasby 
to Dennison and Speed. The book is a broad burlesque 
on modern Democratic party men. Fessenden, who came 
in just after me, evidently thought it hardly a proper sub- 
ject for the occasion, and the President hastily dropped 
it. 

Great efforts continue to be made to get the release of 
Smith brothers. Quite a number of persons are here in 
their interest, and Members of Congress are enlisted for 
them. 

Efforts are being made to aid a set of bad men who have 
been cheating and stealing from the government in Phila- 
delphia. Strange how men in prominent positions will, 
for mere party, stoop to help the erring and the guilty. 
It is a species of moral treason. 

J. P. Hale is, as usual, loud-mouthed and insolent in the 
Senate, belying, perverting, misstating, and misrepre- 
senting the Navy Department. The poor fellow has but 
few more days in the Senate, and is making the most of 
them for his hate. 

February 10, Friday. On Wednesday evening Mrs. W. 
held a levee, which always disarranges. The season has 
thus far been one of gaiety. Parties have been numerous. 
Late hours I do not like, but I have a greater dislike to 
late dinners. The dinner parties of Washington are to be 
deprecated always by those who regard health. 

The President has communicated his movements tending 
to peace. Jeff Davis has published the letter of Stephens, 
Hunter, and Campbell. They do not materially differ. 
The prospect of peace does not seem nearer than before 
the interview took place, yet I trust we are approximating 



HE PRESIDENT'S PEACE MEASURE 239 

;h desired result. There are ultras among us who 
favor the cessation of hostilities except on terms 
iditions which make that event remote. A few 
radicals are inimical to the Administration, and 
ill measures of the Administration which are likely 
; an immediate peace. They are determined that 
;es in rebellion shall not resume their position in 
m except on new terms and conditions independent 
in the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Wade 
enate and Winter Davis in the House are leading 
i this disturbing movement. It is the positive ele- 
iolent without much regard to Constitutional or 
'hts, or any other rights indeed, except such as 
,y themselves define or dictate, 
auch was done to-day at the Cabinet. Some dis- 
of general matters. Speed suggested what if one 
States, Michigan for instance, should decline to 
nators or Representatives to Congress, or take 
ion of themselves in the conduct of the federal 
tent; or supposing Michigan were to take such ac- 
non-action, and the western peninsula of that 
sing a minority, should non-concur with the State 
ist in being represented in Congress. In the course 
marks, I inquired what would be said or done pro- 
iy State should choose to adopt a different organ- 
rom any that we now have, for instance, corn- 
executive, legislative, and judicial powers in the 
nds, elect perhaps ten men and have one go out 
The subjects were novel. The President thought 
are implied obligations on the part of each State 
m its duties to the general government which they 
t neglect or refuse. 

t as yet no Secretary of the Treasury. Fessenden 
tenens, reluctantly, I apprehend. The place is one 
> does not like and cannot fill, and he is aware of 
3 he a very useful man to devise measures in coun- 
las ability as a critic and adviser but is querulous 



240 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB.IO 

and angular. Some allowance must be made for infirm 
health, which has sharpened a sometimes unhappy temper. 
On two or three occasions he has manifested a passionate 
and almost vindictive ferocity towards Preston King which 
surprised me. His ability is acute rather than compre- 
hensive. My intercourse with him has been pleasant, but 
not very intimate. We must soon know his successor. Of 
all the men named, Morgan is probably the best, and my 
impression is that he will finally be appointed. Some will 
object because Seward is from the same State, but that is a 
frivolous objection. I am not certain who the radicals are 
pressing for the place. They will not be pleased with Mor- 
gan if S. remains, but who their favorite is I do not learn. 

February 11, Saturday. The local municipal authorities 
of New York City are taking high-handed ground in re- 
gard to naval enlistments in that city, such as cannot 
be permitted. They forbid the recruiting of any in the 
city unless they are accredited to that locality. 

A letter from the Secretary of the Treasury on the sub- 
ject of trade regulations was got up by one who did not 
understand what he was writing about, or else intended no 
one else should understand. There is great swindling and 
rascality in carrying out these regulations. 

February 21, Tuesday. Have had no time the last ten 
eventful days to open this book; and am now in haste. 

In the Senate as well as in the House, there has been 
a deliberate and mendacious assault on the Navy Depart- 
ment, but with even less success than the first. Senator 
Wade moved to adopt the Winter Davis proposition for 
a Board of Admiralty. It obtained, I am told, but two 
votes. A proposition which, under proper direction and 
duly prepared was not destitute of merit as a naval meas- 
ure, provided the government is to have a more military 
and central character, has been put down, probably for 
vears. rcerharjs forever. 



1865] ASSAULT ON THE NAVY DEPARTMENT 241 

The scheme in this instance was concocted by a few 
party aspirants in Congress and a few old and discom- 
fited naval officers, with some quiddical lawyer inventors, 
schemers, and contractors. They did not feel inclined 
to make an open assault on me; they therefore sought to 
do it by indirection. Much of the spite was against the 
Assistant Secretary, who may have sometimes been rough 
and who has his errors as well as his good qualities, but 
who has well performed his duties, sometimes, per- 
haps, has overdone, has his favorites and decided pre- 
judices. 

Senator Hale, while he does not love me, has now par- 
ticular hatred of Fox, and in striving to gratify his grudge 
is really benefiting the man whom he detests. He and 
others in the House have spoken of F. as the actual Secre- 
tary instead of the Assistant, striving thereby to hold him 
to a certain degree of accountability, and also hoping to sow 
dissension between him and me. For three years Hale made 
it his chief business to misrepresent and defame me, and 
he had with him at the beginning some who have become 
ashamed of him. In the mean time he has obtained other 
recruits. Blaine of Maine dislikes Fox, and in his dislike 
denounces the Navy Department, which he says, in gen- 
eral terms, without mentioning particulars, is misman- 
aged. 

But I have no reason to complain when I look at results 
and the vindication of able champions. They have done 
me more than justice. Others could have done better, 
perhaps, than I have done, and yet, reviewing hastily 
the past, I see very little to regret in my administration 
of the Navy. In the matter of the light-draft monitors 
and the double-enders I trusted too much to Fox and Sti- 
mers. In the multiplicity of my engagements, and suppos- 
ing those vessels were being built on an improved model, 
under the approval and supervision of Lenthall and the 
advice of Ericsson, I was surprised to learn when they were 
approaching completion, that neither Lenthall nor Erics- 



242 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 21 

son had participated, but that Fox and Stimers had taken 
the whole into their hands. Of course, I could not attempt 
to justify what would be considered my own neglect. I 
had been too confiding and was compelled, justly perhaps, 
to pay the penalty in this searching denunciation of my 
whole administration. Neither of the men who brought me 
to this difficulty take the responsibility. 

We have made great progress in the Rebel War within 
a brief period. Charleston and Columbia have come into 
our possession without any hard fighting. The brag and 
bluster, the threats and defiance which have been for 
thirty years the mental aliment of South Carolina prove 
impotent and ridiculous. They have displayed a talking 
courage, a manufactured bravery, but no more, and I 
think not so much inherent heroism as others. Their ful- 
minations that their cities would be Saragossas were 
mere gasconade, their Pinckneys and McGrawths and 
others were blatant political partisans. 

General Sherman is proving himself a great general, and 
his movements from Chattanooga to the present demon- 
strate his ability as an officer. He has, undoubtedly, 
greater resources, a more prolific mind, than Grant, and 
perhaps as much tenacity if less cunning and selfishness. 

In Congress there is a wild, radical element in regard to 
the rebellious States and people. They are to be treated 
by a radical Congress as no longer States, but Terri- 
tories without rights, and must have a new birth or crea- 
tion by permission of Congress. These are the mistaken 
theories and schemes of Chase, perhaps in conjunction 
with others. 

I found the President and Attorney-General Speed in 
consultation over an apprehended decision of Chief Jus- 
tice Chase, whenever he could reach the question of the 
suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Some intimation 
comes through Stanton, that His Honor the Chief Justice 
intends to make himself felt by the Administration when 
he can reach them. I shall not be surprised, for he is am- 



1865] MORGAN DECLINES THE TREASURY 243 

bitious and able. Yet on that subject he is as much im- 
plicated as others. 

The death of Governor Hicks a few days since has 
brought on a crisis of parties in Maryland. Blair is a can- 
didate for the position of Senator, and the President wishes 
him elected, but Stanton and the Chase influence, including 
the Treasury, do not, and hence the whole influence of 
those Departments is against him. Blair thinks the Presid- 
ent does not aid him as much as he had reason to suppose 
he would, and finds it difficult to get an interview with him. 
I think he has hardly been treated as he deserves, or as the 
President really wishes, yet the vindictiveness of the Chief 
Justice and Stanton deter him, control him against his 
will. 

The senior Blair is extremely anxious for the promotion 
of his son-in-law, Lee, and has spoken to me several times 
on the subject. He called again to-day. I told him of the 
difficulties, and the great dissatisfaction it would give the 
naval officers. Pressed as the old man is by not only Lee 
but Lee's wife, and influenced by his own willing partial- 
ity, he cannot see this subject as I and others see it. 

A few days since the President sent into the Senate 
the nomination of Senator E. D. Morgan for the Treasury. 
It was without consultation with M., who immediately 
called on the President and declined the position. 

Seward, whom I saw on that evening, stated facts to 
me which give me some uneasiness. He called, he says, 
on the President at twelve to read to him a dispatch, and 
a gentleman was present, whom he would not name, but 
S. told the gentleman if he would wait a few moments he 
would be brief, but the dispatch must be got off for Europe. 
The gentleman declined waiting, but as he left, the Pre- 
sident said, "I will not send the paper in to-day but will 
hold on until to-morrow." Seward says he has no doubt the 
conversation related to M.'s nomination, but that, the 
paper being made out, his private secretary took it up 
with the other nominations, and the President, when aware 



244 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 21 

of the fact, sent an express to recall it, in order to keep 
faith with the gentleman mentioned. This gentleman 
was, no doubt, Fessenden. 

I called on Governor Morgan on Sunday evening and 
had over an hour's conversation with him, expressing my 
wish and earnest desire that he should accept the place, 
more on the country's account than his own. He gave me 
no favorable response. Said that Thurlow Weed had spent 
several hours with him that morning to the same effect as 
myself and trying to persuade him to change his mind, but 
he would give Weed no assurance ; on the contrary had per- 
sisted in his refusal. He, Morgan, was frank and com- 
municative, as he has generally been with me on important 
questions, and reviewed the ground, State-wise and na- 
tional-wise. "What," he inquired, "is Seward's object? 
He never in such matters acts without a motive, and Weed 
would not have been called here except to gain an end." 

Seward, he says, wants to be President. What does he 
intend to do? Will he remain in the Cabinet, or will he 
leave it? Will he go abroad, or remain at home? These, 
and a multitude of questions which he put me, showed 
that Morgan had given the subject much thought, and 
especially as it affected himself and Seward. Morgan has 
his own aspirations and is not prepared to be used by 
Weed or Seward in this case. 

My own impressions are that Morgan has committed a 
great mistake as regards himself. Seward may be jealous 
of him, as M. is suspicious he is, but I doubt if that was 
the controlling motive with S. I think he preferred Mor- 
gan, as I do, for the Treasury, to any tool of Chase. The 
selection, I think, was the President's, not Seward's, though 
the latter readily fell in with it. Blair had advised it. 
Fessenden was probably informed on the morning when 
Seward met him at the President's and desired to have 
the nomination postponed. 

I am told Thurlow Weed expressed great dissatisfaction 
that Morgan did not accept the position. That Weed and 



1865] THE CAPTURE OF FORT ANDERSON 245 

Seward may have selfish schemes in this is not unlikely, 
but whether they have or not, it was no less the duty of 
Morgan to serve his country when he could. 

February 22. The late news combines with the anni- 
versary to make this an interesting day. While the heavy 
salutes at meridian were firing, young Gushing came in 
with the intelligence of the capture of Fort Anderson. I 
went with him to the President. While there General Joe 
Hooker came in; and Seward, for whom the President 
had sent, brought a dispatch from Bigelow at Paris of a 
favorable character. General H. thinks it the brightest 
day in four years. 

The President was cheerful and laughed heartily over 
Cushing's account of the dumb monitor which he sent 
past Fort Anderson, causing the Rebels to evacuate with- 
out stopping to even spike their guns. 

The belief seems general that McCulloch will receive 
the appointment of Secretary of the Treasury. If I do not 
mistake, the rival opponents of the President desire this 
and have been active in getting up an opinion for the 
case. So far as I know the President has not consulted the 
Cabinet. Some of them, I know, are as unenlightened as 
myself. I know but little of McC.; am not sufficiently 
acquainted with him to object, or even to criticize the 
appointment. The fact that Fessenden and Chase are re- 
puted to be in his favor, and that he has been connected 
with them and is identified with their policy gives me 
doubtful forebodings. 

Governor Morgan called upon me and expresses a pretty 
decided conviction that McCulloch is not the candidate 
of Chase and Fessenden, does not indorse Chase's schemes 
and will put himself on the true basis. This gives me some 
confidence. 

Met Speed at the President's a day or two since. He is 
apprehensive Chase will fail the Administration on the 
question of habeas corpus and State arrests. The President 



initials ui ^iiae uu uiieseiuea-sures. ivi j. U.IIIIK a,ii a-uroio 
intriguer can, if lie chooses, escape these committals. I re- 
member that, on one occasion when I was with him, Chase 
made a fling which he meant should hit Seward on these 
matters, and as Seward is, he imagines, a rival for high 
position, the ambition of Chase will not permit the oppor- 
tunity to pass, when it occurs, of striking his competitor. 
There is no man with more fierce aspirations than Chase, 
and the bench will be used to promote his personal ends. 
Speed and myself called on Seward on Monday, after 
the foregoing interview with the President. Seward thinks 
Chase, if badly disposed, cannot carry the court, but this 
is mere random conjecture. He has, so far as I can ascer- 
tain, no facts. In the course of his remarks, Seward, who 
was very much disturbed, broke out strongly against Chase, 
who had, he said, been a disturber from the beginning and 
ought never to have gone into the Cabinet. He had ob- 
jected to it, and but from a conviction that he (Seward) 
could better serve the country than any other man in the 
State Department, he would not have taken office with 
Chase for an associate. The Cabinet, with the single excep- 
tion of Chase, had been harmonious and united. He spoke 
of the early trouble of the blockade, which he said Chase 
opposed, and then tried to make difficulty. It is not the 
first time when I have detected an infirmity of memory and 
of statement on this point. I at once corrected Seward, 
and told him I was the man who made the strong stand 
against him on the question of blockade, and that Chase 
failed to sustain me. I have no doubt that Seward in those 
early days imputed my course on that question to Chase's 
influence, whereas nothing was farther from the truth. 
I had not even the assistance I expected and was promised 
from Chase. Mr. Blair and Mr. Bates stood by me; Chase 
promised to, but did not. This conversation confirms an 
impression I have had of Seward, who imputed to others 
views derived from his rival antagonist. If I differed from 



1865] RUMORS OF CABINET CHANGES 247 

him, he fully believed it was the intrigue of Chase that 
caused it, a very great error, for I followed my own con- 
victions. 

Rumors and speculations of Cabinet changes have been 
thick for the last half of this month. Much has been said 
and done to effect a change in the Navy Department. 
Not that there is very great animosity towards me per- 
sonally, or my course and policy, but then aspirants for 
Cabinet positions and changes multiply chances. There 
are three or four old naval officers who are dissatisfied 
with me and with almost everybody else, and who would 
be satisfied with no one. They fellowship with certain in- 
triguers in Congress and out, and have exhausted them- 
selves in attacking, abusing, and misrepresenting me. 

This violence is just now strongest against Fox, who, 
as second or executive officer, is courted and hated. Find- 
ing that he sustains me, they detest him, and as is not 
uncommon are more vindictive towards him than towards 
the principal. He is sometimes rough and sailor-like in 
manner, which gives offense, but stands true to his chief. 

There is a little clique of self-constituted and opinion- 
ated but not very wise radicals who assume to dictate to 
the Administration as regards men and measures, but who 
have really little influence and deserve none. Hale in the 
Senate and H. Winter Davis in the House may be con- 
sidered the leaders. The latter is the centre of his few as- 
sociates and has far greater ability than either. Generals 
Schenck and Garfield and a few others gather round him. 
The same men with a larger circle are hostile to Seward, 
against whom the strongest secret war is waged. Stanton 
is on terms with these men, and to some extent gives them 
countenance, even in their war upon the President, to 
whom they are confessedly opposed. Seward thinks to 
propitiate these men by means of Stanton, and perhaps 
he does in some measure, but the proceeding gives him 
no substantial strength. Stanton is faithful to none, not 
even to him. 



248 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 22 

In preparing a reply to Hale it has been necessary to ap- 
pend a reply also from Fox, who is drawn into the resolu- 
tion. He (F.) and Blair have been preparing this with some 
circumspection and care. I do not think it a judicious 
paper in some respects. It is a tolerable statement of 
facts and proceedings in regard to the attempt to relieve 
Fort Sumter in 1861. Fox is the hero of his own story, 
which is always unpleasant. There is an extra effort to 
introduce and associate with him great names, which will 
be seized by his enemies. I am not sorry that certain 
facts come out, but I should be glad to have the whole 
story told of that expedition and others connected with 
it. No allusion is made to Commander Ward, who vol- 
unteered for this service and persisted in it until Gen- 
eral Scott and Commodore Stringham finally dissuaded 
him. 

Blair, in talking over the events of that period, gives me 
always some new facts, or revises old ones. He reminds me 
that he was determined at the time when the relief of Sum- 
ter was discussed, in case it was not done or attempted, 
to resign his seat in the Cabinet, and had his resignation 
prepared. But his father remonstrated and followed him 
to the Cabinet-meeting, and sent in a note to him from 
Nicolay's room. After the meeting adjourned and the 
members left, the elder Blair had an interview with the 
President and told him it would be treason to surrender 
Sumter. General Scott, General Totten, Admiral String- 
ham, and finally Ward had given it up as impossible to 
be relieved. Blair maintains that Seward was all that time 
secretly intriguing with the Rebel leaders, that he was 
pledged to inform them of any attempt to relieve that 
fortress. 

It was Seward, Blair says, who informed Harvey and 
had him telegraph to Charleston that a secret expedition 
was fitting out against Sumter. This betrayal by Harvey 
did not interfere with his mission to Lisbon. Why? Be- 
cause he had Seward in his power. There are facts which 



1865] SEWARD'S INTRIGUES 249 

go to confirm this. I have a confidential letter from the 
President of April 1, 1861, which reads more strangely 
now, if possible, than then, though I was astonished at that 
time and prepared for strange action if necessary. 



XXVIII 

Secretary Welles assured of Reappointment Attitude of James G. Blaine 
towards the Navy Department Lincoln's Second Inauguration 
The New Vice-President's Rambling Speech McCulloch appointed 
Secretary of the Treasury John P. Hale made Minister to Spain 
Admiral Porter on Buchanan's Secessionist Sympathies A Commit- 
'tee from Maine Bennett of the New York Herald talked of as Minis- 
ter to France The Combination of New York Papers against the 
Navy Department The President disapproves the Verdict against 
F. W. Smith Mr. J. M. Forbes on the Smith Case Paymasters' 
Accounts and the Appropriations Sumner and the Smith Case 
Comptroller Taylor's Action in regard to Navy Requisitions Seward 
asks for a Man-of-War to carry John P. Hale to Spain An Interesting 
Statement by General Butler. 

March 1, Wednesday. Judge J. T. Hale called on me 
to say he had had a conversation with the President and 
had learned from him that I had his confidence and that he 
intended no change in the Navy Department. He said a 
great pressure had been made upon him to change. I have 
no doubt of it, and I have at no time believed he would 
be controlled by it. At no time have I given the subject 
serious thought. 

Mr. Eads and Mr. Blow inform me that Brandagee in 
his speech, while expressing opposition to me for not favor- 
ing New London for a navy yard, vindicated my honesty 
and obstinacy, which Blaine or some one impugned, 
Blaine is a speculating Member of Congress, connected, 
I am told, with Simon Cameron in some of his projects, 
and is specially spiteful towards the Navy Department. 
I do not know him, even by sight, though he has once or 
twice called on me. Some one has told me he had a diffi- 
culty with Fox. If so, the latter never informed me, and 
when I questioned him he could not recollect it. 

March 2, Thursday. Had a houseful of visitors to wit- 
ness the inauguration. Speaker Colfax is grouty because 



1865] LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURATION 251 

Mrs. Welles has not called on his mother, a piece of eti- 
quette which Seward says is proper. I doubt it, but Seward 
jumps to strange conclusions. 

Hale, as I expected he would, made an assault on Fox's 
appendix to my reply, and denounces it as egotistical auto- 
biography, and is determined it shall not be printed. The 
poor fellow seems not aware that he is advertising and 
drawing attention to what he would suppress. 

March 3, Friday. The city quite full of people. General 
Halleck has apprehensions that there may be mischief. 
Thinks precautions should be taken. Advises that the 
navy yard should be closed. I do not participate in these 
fears, and yet I will not say it is not prudent to guard 
against contingencies. 

At the Cabinet-meeting to-day, the President gave 
formal notice that he proposed inviting McCulloch to the 
Treasury early next week. He said that doing this rend- 
ered a change necessary or essential in the Interior, con- 
cerning which he already had had conversation with Mr. 
Usher, and should have more to say; that in regard to the 
other gentlemen of the Cabinet, he wished none of them 
to resign, at least for the present, for he contemplated no 
changes. 

March 4, Saturday. Was at the Capitol last night until 
twelve. All the Cabinet were present with the President. 
As usual, the tune passed very pleasantly. Chief Justice 
Chase came in and spent half an hour. Later in the night 
I saw him in the Senate. Speed says Chase leaves the 
Court daily to visit the Senate, and is full of aspirations. I 
rode from the Capitol home at midnight with Seward. He 
expressed himself more unreservedly and warmly against 
Chase than I have ever heard him before. 
The inauguration took place to-day. There was great 
want of arrangement and completeness in the ceremonies. 
All was confusion and without order, a jumble. 



252 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 4 

The Vice-President elect made a rambling and strange 
harangue, which was listened to with pain and mortifica- 
tion by all his friends. My impressions were that he was 
under the influence of stimulants, yet I know not that he 
drinks. He has been sick and is feeble; perhaps he may 
have taken medicine, or stimulants, or his brain from sick- 
ness may have been overactive in these new responsibil- 
ities. Whatever the cause, it was all in very bad taste. 

The delivery of the inaugural address, the administer- 
ing of the oath, and the whole deportment of the President 
were well done, and the retiring Vice-President appeared 
to advantage when contrasted with his successor, who has 
humiliated his friends. Speed, who sat at my left, whis- 
pered me that " all this is in wretched bad taste " ; and very 
soon he said, "The man is certainly deranged." I said to 
Stanton, who was on my right, "Johnson is either drunk or 
crazy." Stanton replied, "There is evidently something 
wrong." Seward says it was emotion on returning and re- 
visiting the Senate; that he can appreciate Johnson's feel- 
ings, who was much overcome. I hope Seward is right, 
but don't entirely concur with him. There is, as Stanton 
says, something wrong. I hope it is sickness. 

The reception at the President's this evening was a 
crowded affair, not brilliant, as the papers say it was. 
In some respects the arrangement was better than here- 
tofore for the Cabinet gentlemen and their families, but 
there is room for much improvement. Such was the crowd 
that many were two hours before obtaining entrance after 
passing through the gates. When I left, a little before 
eleven, the crowd was still going in. 

The day has been fatiguing and trying. The morning 
was rainy. Soon after noon the clouds disappeared and 
the day was beautiful; the streets dreadful. 

March 6, Monday. The weather continues to be fine. 
Thousands have left the city, which is still crowded. The 
inauguration ball of this evening is a great attraction, 




HUGH McCULLOCH 



1865] THE VICE-PRESIDENT'S CONDUCT 253 

particularly to the young. Seward has sent to me a re- 
quest to attend, and Dennison desires it. I have no desire 
to go, but my family have, as well as my associates. 

Current business at Department has accumulated, and 
the day has been one of unceasing application. Did not 
leave Department until after five o'clock. McCulloch's 
name was sent in to-day for the Treasury. I fear he 
wants political knowledge and experience, though as a 
financier he may not be unequal to the position; but will 
not prejudge him. He has been a successful banker, and 
that seems to have furnished the argument for his appoint- 
ment. It by no means follows, however, that a successful 
banker, good at business details and accumulating inter- 
est, is able to strike out and establish the policy of the na- 
tion in regard to its currency and finance. He may have 
these essential financial qualities, but I do not think they 
entered into the considerations which led to his selection. 

March 7, Tuesday. The meeting at the Cabinet was in- 
teresting, the topics miscellaneous. Vice-President John- 
son's infirmity was mentioned. Seward' s tone and opin- 
ions were much changed since Saturday. He seems to have 
given up Johnson now, but no one appears to have been 
aware of any failing. I trust and am inclined to believe 
it a temporary ailment, which may, if rightly treated, be 
overcome. 

Chief Justice Chase spent an hour with the President 
last evening, and is urging upon him to exempt sundry 
counties in eastern Virginia from the insurrectionary 
proclamation. He did not make his object explicit to the 
President, but most of the Cabinet came, I think, to the 
conclusion that there was an ulterior purpose not fully 
disclosed. 

It is obvious that Chase has his aspirations stimulated. 
This movement he considers adroit. By withdrawing 
military authority and restoring civil jurisdiction he ac- 
complishes sundry purposes. It will strike a blow at State 



254 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH? 

individuality and break down Virginia, already by his aid 
dismembered and divided. It will be a large stride in the 
direction of the theory of the radicals, who are for reduc- 
ing old States to a Territorial condition. It is centralizing, 
to which he has become a convert; [it] will give the Chief 
Justice an opportunity to exercise his authority on ques- 
tions of habeas corpus, military arrests, etc. 

The Chief Justice had also certain views on the present 
condition of the blockade, and took occasion to inform the 
President that his original opinion, which corresponded 
with mine, had undergone quite a modification; that he is 
now satisfied that closing the ports by a public or inter- 
national blockade was better than to have closed them 
by legislative enactment or executive order, in effect a 
municipal regulation. Artful dodger. Unstable and unre- 
liable. When Speed made some inquiry on these matters, 
the President stated "it related to one of the early and most 
unpleasant differences we had ever had in Cabinet." It 
was one of the subjects that made me distrust and doubt 
Chase, who, while fully assenting to my opinions in our 
private conversations, did not vigorously sustain me in a 
Cabinet discussion. 

The Spanish mission being vacant, it was asked if any 
of the number wished it. Whether it was intended as a 
polite tender to Usher I know not, or to any other, but I 
think not to any one but Usher, and perhaps not to him, 
This mission is a sort of plaything in the hands of Seward. 
The truth is, there is little utility in these legations near 
the governments of foreign potentates, but they are con- 
venient places for favorites or troublesome fellows who 
are to be sent away. 

March 10, Friday. At the Cabinet to-day Seward could 
not suppress his delight over intelligence, just received, 
that the Danish-French ironclad sold to the Rebels was 
stopped at Corunna. We have had multitudinous and 
various pieces of intelligence respecting this vessel, none 



1865] JOHN P. HALE MINISTER TO SPAIN 255 

of them reliable. The next arrival may bring statements 
in direct opposition to those we now have. 

Each of the Departments finished up their matters with 
the Senate, which will doubtless adjourn to-morrow. 

March 11, Saturday. Mr. Eames tells me the Court has 
decided adversely in the matter of cotton captured by 
the Navy on the Red River. I perceive that the Court is 
adjudicating on the Treasury regulations and policy of the 
Chief Justice. 

John P. Hale has been nominated and confirmed as 
Minister to Spain, a position for which he is eminently 
unfit. This is Seward's doings, the President assenting. 
But others are also in fault. I am told by Seward, who is 
conscious it is an improper appointment, that a majority 
of the Union Senators recommended him for the French 
mission, for which they know he has no qualifications, ad- 
dress, nor proper sense to fill. Some of the Senators pro- 
tested against his receiving the mission to France, but 
Seward says they acquiesced in his going to Spain. I am 
satisfied that Seward is playing a game with this old hack. 
Hale has been getting pay from the War Department for 
various jobs, and S. thinks he is an abolition leader. 

March 13, Monday. Rear-Admiral Porter spent the 
evening at my house. Among other things he detailed 
what he saw and knew of Jeff Davis and others in the early 
days of the Rebellion. He was, he admits, and as I was 
aware, on intimate terms with Davis and Mrs. Davis, 
and had been so for some years. On the evening after 
reception of the news that South Carolina passed the se- 
cession ordinance he called at Davis's house. A number 
of Secession leaders, he says, were there. It was a rainy, 
disagreeable evening, but Mrs. Davis came down stairs 
bonneted and prepared to go out. She caught him and 
congratulated him on the glorious news. South Carolina 
had declared herself out of the Union, which was to be 



256 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MABCHIS 

broken up. She was going to see the President, Buchan- 
an, and congratulate him. Wanted to be the first to 
communicate the intelligence to him. Porter told her the 
weather and roads were such she could not walk, and, one 
of the Members of Congress having come in a hack, he, 
Porter, took it and accompanied her. On the way he in- 
quired why she should feel so much elated. She said she 
wanted to get rid of the old government; that they would 
have a monarchy South, and gentlemen to fill official po- 
sitions. This, he found, was the most earnest sentiment, 
not only of herself but others. Returning in the carriage 
to Davis's house, he found that the crowd of gentlemen 
was just preparing to follow Mrs. D. to call on the Pre- 
sident and interchange congratulations. They all spoke 
of Buchanan, he says, as being with them in sentiment, and 
Porter believes him to have been one of the most guilty 
in that nefarious business; that he encouraged the active 
conspirators in his intercourse with them, if he did not 
openly approve them before the world. 

Governor Canby of Maine called on me a week ago and 
spoke of having a naval vessel on the eastern coast for re- 
cruiting purposes and for protection. After a little discus- 
sion of the subject, he said there was a committee in Wash- 
ington who had procured themselves to be appointed to 
come on and make formal application; that they desired 
to attend the inauguration, and had got up this excuse; 
would make probably a little display and hoped they might 
be gratified with a few words of recognition, etc., etc. Two 
or three hours later, the committee, Mr. Poor and his two 
associates, came in with Mr. Pike, who introduced them. 
Mr. Poor was the chairman and presented me a paper 
containing sundry resolutions indorsed by the President, 
to the effect that he wished them to have vessels if they 
could be spared. Mr. Poor was verbose and pompous; let 
me know his official importance; wanted their application 
should be granted. I told them their proposition for steam- 
ers to patrol the Maine coast was inadmissible, but such. 



1865] A COMMITTEE FROM MAINE 257 

protection as could be extended and the occasion required 
would be regarded. My remarks were not such as suited 
the pragmatical chairman. The other gentlemen exhib- 
ited more sense. 

Two or three days after, I had a communication from 
the committee, who wanted to know if their application 
in behalf of the State of Maine could be granted. Remem- 
bering Governor Canby's remarks, I wrote them at some 
length the views I had expressed orally at our interview. 

Soft words and a superfluity of them only added fuel to 
Chairman Poor's vanity, and he replied by a supercilious 
and silly letter which indicated a disposition to cut a figure, 
and I replied by a brief but courteous line, tersely con- 
taining the same opinions I had given. 

March 14, Tuesday. The President was some indisposed 
and in bed, but not seriously ill. The members met in his 
bedroom. Seward had a paper for excluding blockade- 
runners and persons in complicity with the Rebels from 
the country. 

John P. Kale's appointment to Spain was brought up. 
Seward tried to gloss it over. Wanted Hale to call and see 
me and make friends with Fox. Hale promised he would, 
and Seward thought he might get a passage out in a govern- 
ment vessel. 

The capture and destruction of a large amount of to- 
bacco at Fredericksburg has created quite a commotion. 
It was a matter in which many were implicated. Several 
have called on me to get permission to pass the blockade 
or have a gunboat to convoy them. One or more have 
brought a qualified pass from the President. Colonel 
Segar, the last of them, was very importunate. I told him, 
as I have all others, that I should not yield in this matter; 
that I was opposed on principle to the whole scheme of 
special permits to trade and had been from the time that 
Chase commenced it; that I was no believer in the policy 
of trading with public enemies, carrying on war and peace 

2 



258 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 14 

at the same time. Chase was the first to broach and in- 
troduce this corrupting and demoralizing scheme, and I 
have no doubt he expected to make political capital by it, 
His course in this matter does much to impair my confid- 
ence in him. It was one of many not over scrupulous 
intrigues. Fessenden followed in the footsteps of Chase, 
not from any corrupt motives, nor for any political or 
personal aspirations, but in order to help him in financial 
matters. He had a superficial idea that cotton would help 
him get gold, that he must get cotton to promote trade 
and equalize exchange. 

March 15, Wednesday. A rumor is prevalent and very 
generally believed that the French mission has been offered 
Bennett of the New York Herald. I discredit it. On one 
or two occasions this mission has been alluded to in Cab- 
inet, but the name of B. was never mentioned or alluded 
to. There are sometimes strange and unaccountable ap- 
pointments made. . . . 

March 16, Thursday. Mr. Blair wishes a young friend 
paroled, and requests me to see the President. I am disin- 
clined to press these individual cases on the President, 
Mrs. Tatnall, wife of the Rebel commodore, desires to 
come North to her friends in Connecticut. Mrs. Welles, 
wife of Albert Welles, wants a permit to go to Mobile to 
join her husband. Miss Laura Jones, an old family ac- 
quaintance, wishes to go to Richmond to meet and marry 
her betrothed. These are specimen cases. 

Blair believes the President has offered the French mis- 
sion to Bennett. Says it is the President and not Seward, 
and gives the reasons which lead him to that conclusion, 
He says he met Bartlett, the [runner] of Bennett, here last 
August or September; that Bartlett sought him, said 
they had abused him, B., in the Herald but thought much 
of him, considered him the man of most power in the 
Cabinet, but were dissatisfied because he had not con- 



1865] BENNETT FOR MINISTER TO FRANCE 259 

trolled the Navy Department early in the Administration 
and brought it into their (the Herald's) interest. Blair re- 
plied that the Herald folks had never yet learned or un- 
derstood the Secretary of the Navy; that he was a hard- 
headed and very decided man in his opinions. He says 
Bartlett then went on to tell him that he was here watch- 
ing movements and that they did not mean this time to 
be cheated. . . . 

I am sorry to hear Blair speak approvingly of the ap- 
pointment of Bennett, ... an editor without character 
for such an appointment, whose whims are often wickedly 
and atrociously leveled against the best men and the best 
causes, regardless of honor or right. 

As for Bartlett, he is a mercenary . . . who sought to 
use the Navy Department and have himself made the 
agent to purchase the vessels for the Navy. Because I 
would not prostitute my office and favor his brokerage, 
he threatened me with unceasing hostility and assaults, 
not only from the Herald but from nearly every press in 
New York. He said he could control them all. I was 
incredulous as to his influence over other journals, and at 
all events shook him off, determined to have nothing to do 
with him. In a very short time I found the papers slash- 
ing and attacking me, editorially and through corre- 
spondents. Washburne, Van Wyck, D , J. P. Hale, 

and others cooperated with them, perhaps intentionally; 
most certainly they were, intentionally or otherwise, the 
instruments of the combination of correspondents led on 
by this Bartlett, who boasted of his work and taunted me 
through others. 

But the New York press was unable to form a public 
sentiment hostile to the administration of the Navy De- 
partment. There were a few, very few, journals in other 
parts of the country that were led astray by them, and 
some of the frivolous and surface scum of idle loungers 
echoed the senseless and generally witless efforts to depre- 
ciate my labors, but the people and a large portion of the 



260 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH ie 

papers proved friendly. The New York Tribune was, while 
professing friendship, the most malicious and mean; the 
Times and the Herald were about alike; the Evening Post 
gave me a halting support; the Express was, as usual, 
balderdash; the Journal of Commerce in more manly op- 
position; the Commercial Advertiser alone was at that time 
fair and honestly friendly. Most of the weeklies were ve- 
hicles of blackguardism against me by the combined 
writers. Although somewhat annoyed by these concerted 
proceedings in New York and Washington, formed for 
mischief, I was too much occupied to give much heed to 
the villainous and wicked course pursued against me. 

March 18, Saturday. The President this day returned 
the abstract made by Eames in the case of F. Smith of 
Boston with an indorsement in his own handwriting, dis- 
approving the verdict and annulling the proceedings. It is, 
I regret to say, a discreditable indorsement, and would, 
if made public, be likely to injure the President. He has, 
I know, been much importuned in this matter, as I have, 
and very skillful and persistent efforts have been pursued 
for months to procure this result. Senators and Represent- 
atives have interposed their influence to defeat the ends of 
justice, and shielded guilty men from punishment, and 
they have accomplished it. They have made the President 
the partisan of persons convicted and pronounced guilty 
of fraud upon the government. Of course, rascality will 
flourish. I regret all this on the President's account, as well 
as that of the ends of justice. I had in my letter to the 
President invited a conference after he had examined the 
case, and on Tuesday last, when he was not well and was in 
bed, I had, among other things, mentioned Smith's case. He 
said he had gone through with Mr. Eames' summing-up, an 
opinion which seemed to him to be able and impartial; that 
he had handed the paper to Sumner to read, etc., and he 
would see me in relation to it when Sumner returned the 
document. 



1865] THE CASE OF THE SMITH BROTHERS 261 

Having got excited, he may have forgotten my request 
and his promise, and I have no doubt was reluctant to see 
me before the question was disposed of, knowing I should 
be unwilling to bring it up after such disposition. But 
this is unavoidable, for I must consult him as to Ben Smith 
and other cases hinged in with this. 

The news from the army continues favorable, and it 
seems impossible for the Rebel leaders to continue much 
longer to hold out. Everything is giving way to the Union 
forces. The currency is getting into better shape, but 
there will be still tremendous struggles and revulsions be- 
fore its sound restoration can be accomplished. 

March 20, Monday. Seward sends me a half-scary 
letter from Sanford, who is in Paris, that Page intends 
coming out of Ferrol and righting the Niagara. I do not 
believe it, though, were Page a desperate and righting man, 
it would be probable. But Page wants power. Not un- 
likely his associates have come to the conclusion that there 
is no alternative, and that he must make up his mind to 
fight. Under this stimulant he may do so, but I have my 
doubts. 

Craven is a good officer, though a little timid and inert 
by nature. The occasion is a great one for him and will 
rouse his energies. I wish he had smooth-bores instead 
of rifles on his vessel, provided they have a conflict; wish 
he was more of a rifle himself. 

I apprehend Seward has been cheated and humbugged 
in regard to this vessel by the Rebels and the French, and 
I am not satisfied with the part Denmark has played. 
Our Minister does not appear to have been efficient in the 
matter, or if so, it has not been disclosed. The State De- 
partment is mum, troubled. 

March 21, Tuesday. Called on the President this morn- 
ing concerning the Smith case. Asked if the same course 



262 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 21 

if there was no more evidence. I asked what I was to do 
with the employees who had been in complicity with Smith 
and passed his articles. We then had a little conversation 
as regards the master machinist, Merriam, and one or two 
others. The President said if they had been remiss, Smith's 
pardon ought not to cover them. 

I stated the case of of Philadelphia, a young con- 
tractor who had been detected like Smith, and under the 
stern commands of his father-in-law had made a full con- 
fession, and the latter had made full restitution to the 
amount of more than $14,800. That the President said 
was a large amount, greatly exceeding Smith's. I told him 
Smith had not been taken in hand by his father-in-law, 
had made no confession, no restitution. Now the question 

was whether I should prosecute , and have him fined 

and imprisoned after doing all in his power to make the 
government good, while Smith, an older and, I feared, a 
much greater offender, who made no confession, no resti- 
tution, went unpunished. 

The President was annoyed. I told him there were a 
number of persons under bonds, who had confessed and 
made restitution of smaller amounts. Were their offenses 
to be overlooked or excused? 

After some little talk, he wished me to get our solicitor 
to look into these cases, and call again. He has evidently 
acted without due consideration, on the suggestion and 
advice of Sumner, who is emotional, and under the press- 
ure of Massachusetts politicians, who have been active 
to screen these parties regardless of their guilt. 

When at the Cabinet to-day, the President and McCul- 
loch wished to know if I would be willing to take Arnold 
of Chicago for Solicitor of the Navy, and release Chandler 
for a Treasury appointment. While I think Arnold a 
worthy and an estimable man, I told the President and 
Secretary of the Treasury I preferred that Chandler 
should go forward with his duties. McCulloch was a little 
pressing; the President, however, did not urge the matter. 



1865] J. M. FORBES ON THE SMITH CASE 263 

March 22, Wednesday. Mr. Eames brings me the opinion 
of the Court in the cotton case of prize Alexander 
Red River cotton. I think Chief Justice Chase has got 
himself in a fix, and will have to back down. He must divest 
himself of personal aspiration and partisan feeling to be a 
successful judge. The Court will not be subservient to him 
if he commits such grave mistakes. 

Olcott, the detective, or commissioner, writes Fox a 
strange letter about the conclusions in Smith's case. He 
has seen Sumner's argument, or a part of it, and is alarmed. 
Sumner says the Smiths should have some redress. Olcott 
intimates that if they propose to arrest him he will flee 
the country. The fellow has no moral courage. So long 
as the responsibility was with me, he was very courageous. 
He feared I would not fearlessly meet questions, was in- 
clined to encourage me; but as soon as a cloud shadows his 
path an ounce of responsibility comes upon him 
the valiant commissioner wilts and is abject. I had on 
Monday told Chandler that in my opinion these traits 
belonged to Olcott; that he was rash, reckless, and arbi- 
trary in the exercise of power but would cringe himself. 
C. reminds me of this estimate. 

March 23, Thursday. An extra of the Boston Journal 
contains Senator Sumner's review, or argument, of the 
case of Smith Brothers. It is not a creditable document 
for Mr. Sumner in any aspect, and he will probably regret 
that he ever sent out such a document. A letter from 
Hooper accompanies the paper, quite as discreditable. 

J. M. Forbes tells me he went into Sumner's room and 
found Hooper and Gooch there. The three were in high 
glee, and Sumner was detailing his success in getting the 
executive pardon. Forbes told them it was proper they 
should understand his position. He believed it was an 
executive error, but a greater error for Massachusetts Re- 
presentatives to interfere and stop legal proceedings 
through their political influence. Sumner spoke of the 



264 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 23 

smallness of the amount involved. Forbes replied that if 
one of his servants was detected, and convicted of having 
stolen a silver spoon, though only a teaspoon, he would 
kick him out of the house and not trust him farther. Nor 
would he be persuaded to excuse and take the thief into 
favor because he had been trusted with all his silver and 
only stolen, or been detected in having stolen, one small 
spoon. 

The President has gone to the front, partly to get rid of 
the throng that is pressing upon him, though there are 
speculations of a different character. He makes his office 
much more laborious than he should. Does not generalize 
and takes upon himself questions that properly belong to 
the Departments, often causing derangement and irregu- 
larity. The more he yields, the greater the pressure upon 
him. It has now become such that he is compelled to flee, 
There is no doubt he is much worn down; besides he wishes 
the War terminated, and, to this end, that severe terms 
shall not be exacted of the Rebels. 

March 24, Friday. Attorney-General Speed calls upon me 
in some trouble. The Secretary of the Treasury has asked 
his opinion whether appropriations for the next fiscal year 
which have been covered into the Treasury can be now 
drawn upon. This has been the practice during the War, 
but the First Comptroller objects to passing requisitions 
and questions its legality. In this ruling the Comptroller 
is probably strictly legally correct, but to attempt to 
rigidly enforce the law would be disastrous. The fault 
originates in the Treasury; the usage has been theirs; not 
only this, it has been their delinquency which makes the 
present difficulty. Paymasters do not settle their accounts 
promptly. The Fourth Auditor's office is two years behind, 
and their requisitions cannot be adjusted and carried to 
the proper appropriation until their accounts are settled at 
the Auditor's office. The Attorney-General thinks he shall 
legally be compelled to go with the Comptroller if required 



1865] PAYMASTERS' ACCOUNTS 265 

to give an opinion, and he thinks McCulloch inclined to 
exact it. In that event both Navy and Army must come to 
a standstill, the credit of the Treasury will be injured, loans 
cannot be negotiated, and the government will be involved 
in financial embarrassments. 

A paymaster, for instance, especially a new one, commits 
errors in his drafts. He makes a requisition, perhaps for 
$100,000, and, in uncertainty from what appropriation 
the money should come, he draws the whole amount from 
"Pay of the Navy"; but $12,000 should have been from 
" Equipment," for coal, etc., $10,000 from "Provisions 
and Clothing," $10,000 from "Construction," and $12,000 
is to pay prize; so that only $56,000 should have been taken 
from "Pay of the Navy." But this cannot be corrected 
and carried to the proper heads until the paymaster's ac- 
count is settled, which will not be sooner than 1867. In 
the mean time the appropriation of "Pay of the Navy" 
is exhausted, through ignorance of the new paymasters 
and the carelessness of the old ones. 

Wrote a letter to Olcott, the detective, as Stanton calls 
him, or, as he calls himself and wishes to be called, Commis- 
sioner, in answer to a strange letter from him proposing to 
make a report for Congress, to prevent the repeal of the 
law which subjects contractors to military arrest and trial 
by court martial. I gave him to understand that I had no 
hand in originating the law and could not, nor did I feel 
disposed to, interpose to prevent its repeal when Congress 
thought proper. Notified him that he would hereafter 
correspond with the Solicitor instead of Assistant Secre- 
tary, enjoined economy, etc., etc. It will not do to let this 
man go on unchecked. He is zealous, in a certain sense I 
think honest, but is rash, reckless, at times regardless of 
the rights of others, assumes authority, but I am inclined 
to believe acts with good intentions; and he is wild in 
his expenditures. Of course he will be dissatisfied and not 
unlikely abusive of me for checking and correcting his 
errors. 



266 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 25 

March 25, Saturday. Called on Secretary McCulloch 
to-day in relation to payment of our requisitions which 
the Comptroller, under the impression he is the govern- 
ment, has rejected. He sees the difficulty and the necessity 
of doing away with the objections interposed by the Comp- 
troller, but yet knows not how to do it. 

Senator Sumner called on me in relation to the case of 
the Smiths, or rather he introduced that subject among 
others in his visit. He usually calls on me for half an hour 
or an hour's conversation Saturday afternoon. He read me 
two or three letters from Boston correspondents, lauding 
his course and censuring the prosecution. They had 
touched his weak point. He was feeling well and was ready 
now to " do something for these men, who had been greatly, 
deeply wronged." I asked him if he was satisfied the gov- 
ernment had not been injured by their transactions. He 
said the government could have been injured to but a small 
amount in very extensive transactions, and the injury, if 
there was any, only a single article, on which the govern- 
ment was under a strange misapprehension. Mr. Hooper 
was cited as authority in the matter of Banca and [Straits?] 
tin, which he claimed was identical. I told him the last 
Prices Current showed a difference of eight cents a pound. 
But I asked him what he had to say of the transaction of 
the Smiths in regard to anchors, an article in which they 
did not deal, but for which they had by some means and 
for some purpose got the contract; had them by collusion 
paid for in May; they were arrested on the 17th of June, 
when the articles, though paid for, were not all delivered. 
They had underlet the contract to Burns, who made the 
deliveries, and the anchors were many of them worthless, 
would not pass inspection; and the arrest before full and 
final delivery was plead as the excuse, although requisition 
had been issued in May. What of the files, machine-cut, 
instead of hand-cut as contracted? What of the combina- 
tion with Henshaw not to bid, whereby they got a contract 
for a number of hundred tons of iron at $62.50, when other 



1865] CRAVEN AND THE STONEWALL 267 

parties sold at the same time for $53? Simmer had not 
looked into these matters. He could not answer me. I 
showed him the correspondence of the Smiths with the 
Trenton Iron Company, expressly stipulating for inferior 
iron to be delivered to the navy yard, if it would pass in- 
spection. After reading, he said he did not like the trans- 
action. Evidently knew not the case in which he had 

interfered. I stated to him 's case, and asked his 

advice how to proceed, when had confessed and made 

full restitution, while the Smiths had done neither, and 
were pardoned. 

March 27, Monday. Immediately after the capture of 
Charleston, it was suggested at one of the Cabinet-meet- 
ings, by Dennison and Speed, that we should go thither 
on the anniversary of the fall of Sumter and raise again the 
old flag. I declined to be a party in such a movement, as 
Sumter was already taken and the flag had been raised on 
its ruins. But others, I see, have taken a different view, and 
Stanton with a party is to go to Charleston for the purpose 
indicated. Without having heard a word from Seward, 
I shall expect him to work into the party. He likes fuss and 
parade; is already preparing his speech. 

Ordered to-day the Wyoming to the East Indies. Had 
dispatches on Saturday from Craven, who is on the Niagara 
watching the Rebel ironclad Stonewall at Corunna. He 
says he is "in an unenviable and embarrassing position." 
There are many of our best naval officers who think he has 
an enviable position, and they would make sacrifices to 
obtain it. Perhaps Craven will fight well, though his 
language is not bold and defiant, nor his sentiments such 
as will stimulate his crew. It is an infirmity. Craven is 
intelligent, and disciplines his ship well, I am told, but his 
constant doubts and misgivings impair his usefulness. 

March 28, Tuesday. Edgar, Fox, and others left to-day 
for a trip on the Santiago de Cuba, to Havana., Charleston, 



268 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 28 

etc., etc. They were to return by the 15th prox., but will 
hardly get back before the 17th. 

The President being absent on a visit to the army near 
Richmond, there was to-day no Cabinet-meeting. 

Comptroller Taylor declines to pass requisitions, and 
refuses to obey the Secretary of the Treasury; will act on 
the order of the President. I see not the distinction. If 
illegal, the order of the President does not legalize it. 

The strict letter of the law is doubtless with the Comp- 
troller in this matter of drawing money before the com- 
mencement of the fiscal year. But, unfortunately for him, 
he has acted otherwise and the usage of himself and prede- 
cessor, Comptroller Whittlesey, under Mr. Secretary, now 
Chief Justice, Chase, have been wholly different. Mr. 
Taylor said yesterday that he did not pass requisitions 
last year, that the appropriation bill did not pass until 
after the commencement of the fiscal year. But he is mis- 
taken. The appropriation was covered into the Treasury 
in May, and we had drawn, and he had passed, over four 
millions before the 1st of July. He has this year paid over 
one million before he accidentally discovered that his action 
conflicted with the law. The Secretary of the Treasury sent 
to notify me that a draft for ten thousand dollars on "Pay 
of the Navy" was presented by Riggs & Co., and desired 
to know if I would not pay from some other appropriation. 
I declined to do the illegal act and complicate and embar- 
rass accounts. 

March 29, Wednesday. The Secretary of State has writ- 
ten me, requesting that J. P. Hale, recently appointed 
Minister to Spain, should be sent out in a public ship. I 
have written him in reply that it cannot be done without 
much inconvenience and expense; that it would be better 
to send out a purchased steamer with cabin room than to 
attempt to crowd him and suite on board a man-of-war. 
The whole scheme is petty foolishness, an attempt on the 
part of Seward to ingratiate himself with the Abolitionists, 



whom he privately denounces and ridicules. It is one of 
those small meannesses which aspiring and not over- 
scrupulous men sometimes resort to. A shameful prosti- 
tution, waste, and wrong. 

March 30, Thursday. The President still remains with 
the army. Seward yesterday left to join him. It was after 
I saw him, for he was then expecting the President would 
return last evening or this morning. Stanton, who was 
present, remarked that it was quite as pleasant to have the 
President away, that he (Stanton) was much less annoyed. 
Neither Seward nor myself responded. As Seward left 
within less than three hours after this interview, I think 
the President must have telegraphed for him, and, if so, 
I come to the conclusion that efforts are again being made 
for peace. 

I am by no means certain that this irregular proceeding 
and importunity by the Executive is the wisest course. 
Yet the President has much shrewdness and sagacity. He 
has been apprehensive that the military men are not very 
solicitous to close hostilities, fears our generals will 
exact severe terms. 

Mr. Faxon left this P.M. for Connecticut. His absence 
and that of Mr. Fox and Edgar will make my labors ex- 
ceedingly arduous for the next fortnight, for Faxon will 
not return until week after next, and the others the week 
following. 

March 31, Friday. I had a call to-day from Wylly Wood- 
bridge of Savannah. We were fellow students and fellow 
boarders at good Parson Cornwall's at Cheshire Academy 
forty-four years ago. He much younger than myself. Time 
has ploughed his furrows deep since then, and of our com- 
panions much the larger portion have passed from earth. 

General Butler called on me while we were conversing 
and had a pleasant interview. In speaking of his brief ad- 
ministration at Baltimore, General B. said if he had not 



270 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 31 

been summarily displaced and called to Washington, he 
would within forty-eight hours have had Winans hung in 
Union Square. Had that been done, he is confident it 
would have checked the Rebellion. To have executed a 
man of Winans' wealth and position would have struck 
terror, showed we were in earnest. 



XXIX 

Greeley's "bleeding, bankrupt, ruined country" Letter published In Eng- 
land Greeley's Morbid Appetite for Notoriety Rejoicings over the 
Fall of Richmond Stanton's Account of the Sumter Discussion in 
Buchanan's Cabinet Seward injured in a Runaway Accident 
Mutual Misconceptions of the North and the South corrected by the 
War News of Lee's Surrender Cabinet Discussion of the Convening 
of the Virginia Legislature The President's Dream News of Lin- 
coln's Assassination and the Attack on the Sewards Visit to Seward's 
House The President's Last Hours Johnson takes the Oath as 
President Grief of the Colored People Lincoln's Funeral Gen- 
eral Sherman's Attempt to make Peace Terms Sherman suspected of 
Designs against the Government Proposed Proclamation against 
Attacks on the Commerce of the United States. 

April I, Saturday. The President yet remains with the 
army, and the indications are that a great and perhaps 
final battle is near. Tom writes me, dating his letter " Head- 
quarters Army of the James, near Hatcher's Run/' saying 
he had scarcely slept for forty-eight hours, the army having 
commenced moving on the evening of the 27th, and his 
letter was dated the evening of the 29th. General Ord 
must, therefore, have moved his army from before Rich- 
mond, crossed the James, and got below Petersburg. I 
infer, therefore, that the demonstration will be on that 
plan, and I trust defeat and capture of Lee and his army. 

Greeley's letter of last summer to the President, urging 
peace for our "bleeding, bankrupt, ruined country" has 
been published in England. This was the letter which 
led to the Niagara conference. I advised its publication 
and the whole correspondence at the time, but the Presid- 
ent was unwilling just then, unless Greeley would consent 
to omit the passage concerning our ruined country, but to 
this Greeley would not consent, and in that exhibited weak- 
ness, for it was the most offensive and objectionable part 
of his letter. 



272 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL i 

How it comes now to be published in England I do not 
understand. I should have preferred its appearance at 
home in the first instance. Poor Greeley is nearly played 
out. He has a morbid appetite for notoriety. Wishes to be 
noted and forward in all shows. Four years ago was 'zeal- 
ous or willing to let the States secede if they wished, 
Six months later was vociferating, "On to Richmond." 
Has been scolding and urging forward hostile operations, 
Suddenly is for peace, and ready to pay the Rebels four 
hundred millions or more to get it, he being allowed to 
figure hi it. He craves public attention. Does not exhibit 
a high regard for principle. I doubt his honesty about as 
much as his consistency. It is put on for effect. He is a 
greedy office-hunter. 

April 2, Sunday. A telegram from the President this 
morning to the War Department states that a furious fight 
is going on. Sheridan has got west of Petersburg on the 
South Side Railroad, creeping from the west, at the same 
time Grant has ordered an advance of our lines. Wright 
and Parke are said to have broken through the Rebel 
lines. General Ord is fighting, but results unknown. 
General Halleck states that Lee has undoubtedly sent out 
his force to protect the railroad and preserve his communi- 
cations, that this has left Richmond weak, and Ord is press- 
ing on the city. I inquired if Ord was not below Peters- 
burg at Hatcher's Run. He said no, that was newspaper 
talk. Told him I had supposed otherwise. 

On going to the War Department a few hours later to 
make further inquiries, I carried with me Tom's letter, 
but Halleck was not there. Stanton, however, maintained 
the same ground until I read Tom's letter, when he 
yielded. 

April 3, Monday. Intelligence of the evacuation of 
Petersburg and the capture of Richmond was received this 
A.M., and the city has been in an uproar through the day. 



1865] THE FALL OF RICHMOND 273 

Most of the clerks and others left the Departments, and 
there were immense gatherings in the streets. Joy and 
gladness lightened every countenance. Secessionists and 
their sympathizers must have retired, and yet it seemed as 
if the entire population, the male portion of it, was abroad 
in the streets. Flags were flying from every house and store 
that had them. Many of the stores were closed, and 
Washington appeared patriotic beyond anything ever 
before witnessed. The absence of the Assistant, Chief 
Clerk, and Solicitor compelled my attendance until after 
3 P.M. close of mail. 

Attorney-General Speed and myself met by agreement 
at Stanton's room last night at nine, to learn the condi- 
tion of affairs with the armies. We had previously been 
two or three times there during the day. It was about 
eleven before a dispatch was received and deciphered. 
The conversation between us three was free, and, turning 
on events connected with the Rebellion, our thoughts and 
talk naturally traveled back to the early days of the 
insurrection and the incipient treason in Buchanan's 
cabinet. Stanton became quite communicative. He was 
invited, as I have previously understood, through the in- 
fluence of Black. Says Buchanan was a miserable coward, 
so alarmed and enfeebled by the gathering storm as to 
be mentally and physically prostrated, and he was appre- 
hensive the President would not survive until the fourth 
of March. The discussion in regard to the course to be 
pursued towards Anderson and the little garrison at Sum-r 
ter, became excited and violent in December, 1860. On 
the 27th or 29th of that month there were three sessions 
of the Cabinet in council. Sitting late at night, Buchanan, 
wrapped in an old dressing-gown or cloak, crouched in a 
corner near the fire, trembled like an aspen leaf. He asked 
what he should do. Declared that Stanton said he ought 
to be hung and that others of the Cabinet concurred with 
him. This, Stanton said, grew out of his remarks that if 
they yielded up Sumter to the conspirators it was treason, 
2 



274 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRILS 

and no more to be defended than Arnold's. In the discus- 
sion Holt was very emphatic and decided in his loyalty, 
Toucey the most abject and mean. When called upon by 
the President for his opinion, Toucey said he was for order- 
ing Anderson to return immediately to Fort Moultrie. 
He was asked if he was aware that Moultrie was dis- 
mantled, and replied that would make no difference, An- 
derson had gone to Sumter without orders, and against 
orders of Floyd, and he would order him back forthwith. 
Stanton says he inquired of Toucey if he ever expected 
to go back to Connecticut after taking that position, and 
Toucey said he did, but asked Stanton why he put the 
question. Stanton replied that he had inquired in good 
faith, that he might know the character of the people in 
Connecticut or Toucey's estimate of them, for were he, 
S., to take that position and it were known to the people 
of Pennsylvania, he should expect they would stone him 
the moment he set foot in the State, stone him through 
the State, and tie a stone around his neck and throw him 
in the river when he reached Pittsburg. Stanton gives 
Toucey the most despicable character in the Buchanan 
cabinet, not excepting Floyd or Thompson. 

April 4, Tuesday. Very little intelligence received from 
the armies to-day. The President still at City Point, or 
its vicinity, holding interviews with the generals and hav- 
ing an eye to the close, which is near. In the mean time the 
Treasury is likely to suffer. The First Comptroller will not 
pass bill or requisition for pay. A draft for ten thousand 
dollars was presented to the Treasury which matured to- 
day, and the holder, Kiggs, was referred to me to see if I 
could not make arrangement to pay under some other 
appropriation. I declined to move in the matter. The Kear- 
sarge, destined for Europe, the Wyoming for Brazil, and 
other vessels are detained, and trouble wells up on every 
side. 



1865] PROPOSAL TO CLOSE PORTS 275 

April 5, Wednesday. We get no particulars of the sur- 
render of Richmond, of the losses and casualties, of the 
time and circumstances of the evacuation. On Sunday 
afternoon Lee sent word to Davis that they were doomed, 
and advised his immediate departure. With heavy hearts 
and light luggage the leaders left at once. 

Mr. Seward read to Mr. McCulloch and myself a pro- 
clamation which he had prepared for the President to sign, 
closing the ports to foreign powers, in the Rebel States. 
He and myself have had several conversations for the last 
two or three months on this subject. The time had ar- 
rived when it seemed to him proper to issue it, and unless 
the President returned forthwith it was, he thought, ad- 
visable that he, Mr. Seward, should go to Richmond and 
see him. He could also communicate with the President 
on the subject of payment of requisitions of the Navy and 
War Departments. Accordingly, a telegram was prepared 
and sent to the President, and Seward, anticipating that 
the President would remain a few days longer, made pre- 
parations to leave by procuring the promise of a revenue 
cutter to convey him. He is filled with anxiety to see the 
President, and these schemes are his apology. 

Within half an hour after parting from Mr. Seward, his 
horses ran away with the carriage in which he was taking 
a ride, he jumped from the vehicle, was taken up badly 
injured, with his arm and jaw broken, and his head and 
face badly bruised. 

April 6, Thursday. Commander Collins of the Wachu- 
sett, who captured the Florida, arrived to-day for trial, 
ordered by request of the State Department to satisfy the 
wounded honor of Brazil. 

A telegram from Dr. E. W. Hale states J. T. Hale, late 
Member of Congress, is dying. He was a Representative 
in the three last Congresses, Chairman of the Committee 
of Claims, and one of the most sensible, useful, yet unpre- 
tending Members of the House. Too few men of that de- 



276 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 6 

scription are sent to Congress. Noisy, blatant, superficial 
declaimers and mere party intriguers are favorites. 

April 7, Friday. We have word that Sheridan has had 
a battle with a part of Lee's army, has captured six Rebel 
generals and several thousand prisoners. His dispatch 
intimates the almost certain capture of Lee. 

In the closing up of this Rebellion, General Grant has 
proved himself a man of military talent. Those who have 
doubted and hesitated must concede him some capacity 
as a general. Though slow and utterly destitute of genius, 
his final demonstrations and movements have been mas- 
terly. The persistency which he has exhibited is as much 
to be admired as any quality in his character. He is, how- 
ever, too regardless of the lives of his men. 

It is desirable that Lee should be captured. He, more 
than any one else, has the confidence of the Rebels, and 
can, if he escapes, and is weak enough to try and continue 
hostilities, rally for a time a brigand force in the interior. 
I can hardly suppose he would do this, but he has shown 
weakness, and his infidelity to the country which edu- 
cated, and employed, and paid him shows gross ingrati- 
tude. His true course would be to desert the country he has 
betrayed, and never return. 

Memo. This Rebellion which has convulsed the nation 
for four years, threatened the Union, and caused such sac- 
rifice of blood and treasure may be traced in a great degree 
to the diseased imagination of certain South Carolina 
gentlemen, who some thirty and forty years since studied 
Scott's novels, and fancied themselves cavaliers, imbued 
with chivalry, a superior class, not born to labor but to 
command, brave beyond mankind generally, more in- 
tellectual, more generous, more hospitable, more liberal 
than others. Such of their countrymen as did not own 
slaves, and who labored with their own hands, who de- 
pended on their own exertions for a livelihood, who were 
mechanics, traders, and tillers of the soil, were, in their 



1865] SECTIONAL MISCONCEPTIONS 277 

estimate, inferiors who would not fight, were religious and 
would not gamble, moral and would not countenance 
duelling, were serious and minded their own business, 
economical and thrifty, which was denounced as mean and 
miserly. Hence the chivalrous Carolinian affected to, and 
actually did finally, hold the Yankee in contempt. The 
women caught the infection. They were to be patriotic, 
Revolutionary matrons and maidens. They admired the 
bold, dashing, swaggering, licentious, boasting, chivalrous 
slave-master who told them he wanted to fight the Yankee 
but could not kick and insult him into a quarrel. And they 
disdained and despised the pious, peddling, plodding, per- 
severing Yankee who would not drink, and swear, and 
fight duels. 

The speeches and letters of James Hamilton and his 
associates from 1825 forward will be found impregnated 
with the romance and poetry of Scott, and they came ul- 
timately to believe themselves a superior and better race, 
knights of blood and spirit. 

Only a war could wipe out this arrogance and folly, 
which had by party and sectional instrumentalities been 
disseminated through a large portion of the South. Face 
to face in battle and in field with these slandered Yan- 
kees, they learned their own weakness and misconception 
of the Yankee character. Without self-assumption of 
superiority, the Yankee was proved to be as brave, as 
generous, as humane, as chivalric as the vaunting and 
superficial Carolinian to say the least. Their ideal, how- 
ever, in Scott's pages of "Marmion/ 3 "Ivanhoe," etc., no 
more belonged to the Sunny South than to other sections 
less arrogant and presuming but more industrious and 
frugal. 

On the other hand, the Yankees, and the North generally, 
underestimated the energy and enduring qualities of the 
Southern people who were slave-owners. It was believed 
they were effeminate idlers, living on the toil and labor of 
others, who themselves could endure no hardship such as 



278 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 7 

is indispensable to soldiers in the field. It was also be- 
lieved that a civil war would, inevitably, lead to servile 
insurrection, and that the slave-owners would have their 
hands full to keep the slaves in subjection after hostilities 
commenced. Experience has corrected these misconcep- 
tions in each section. 

April 10, Monday. At day-dawn a salute of several 
guns was fired. The first discharge proclaimed, as well as 
words could have done, the capture of Lee and his army. 
The morning papers detailed the particulars. The event 
took place yesterday, and the circumstances will be nar- 
rated in full elsewhere. 

The tidings were spread over the country during the 
night, and the nation seems delirious with joy. Guns are 
firing, bells ringing, flags flying, men laughing, children 
cheering; all, all are jubilant. This surrender of the great 
Rebel captain and the most formidable and reliable army 
of the Secessionists virtually terminates the Rebellion. 
There may be some marauding, and robbing and murder 
by desperadoes, but no great battle, no conflict of armies, 
after the news of yesterday reaches the different sections. 
Possibly there may be some stand in Texas or at remote 
points beyond the Mississippi. 

Called on the President, who returned last evening, 
looking well and feeling well. Signed the proclamation 
closing the Southern ports. Seemed gratified that Seward 
and myself were united in the measure, remembering, I 
think, without mentioning, the old difference. 

April 11, Tuesday. The cotton question was the chief 
topic at the Cabinet. Secretary McCulloch is embarrassed 
how to dispose of the Savannah capture. I am afraid of 
replevin and other troubles. Told him I thought it an er- 
ror that the Rebel cotton had not been brought forward 
and sold in parcels instead of accumulating public and priv- 
ate in such quantity as to attract the vultures. 



1865] AFTER LEE'S SURRENDER 279 

April 12, Wednesday. The President to-day issued a 
proclamation excluding after a reasonable time the naval 
vessels of those powers which deny hospitality to our ships, 
in other words applying the principle of reciprocity. 
This rule I have long since urged upon the Secretary of 
State, but he has halted, put it off, and left us to put up 
with the insolence of the petty officials of John Bull. But 
we shall now assert our rights and, I hope, maintain them. 

The President addressed a multitude who called upon 
him last evening in a prepared speech disclosing his views 
on the subject of resumption of friendly national relations. 

April 13, Thursday. Gave the President the case of 
Stiners, court-martialed and condemned for fraud as a 
contractor, similar in principle to the case of the Smiths 
in Boston. 

Some conversation with him yesterday and to-day in 
regard to his speech Tuesday night and the general ques- 
tion of reestablishing the authority of the government 
in the Rebel States and movements at Richmond. 

The President asked me what views I took of WeitzePs 
calling the Virginia legislature together. Said Stanton and 
others were dissatisfied. Told him I doubted the policy 
of convening a Rebel legislature. It was a recognition of 
them, and, once convened, they would, with their hostile 
feelings, be inclined, perhaps, to conspire against us. He 
said he had no fear of that. They were too badly beaten, 
too much exhausted. His idea was, that the members of 
the legislature, comprising the prominent and influential 
men of their respective counties, had better come to- 
gether and undo their own work. He felt assured they 
would do this, and the movement he believed a good one. 
Civil government must be reestablished, he said, as soon 
as possible; there must be courts, and law, and order, or 
society would be broken up, the disbanded armies would 
turn into robber bands and guerrillas, which we must 
strive to prevent. These were the reasons why he wished 



280 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 13 

prominent Virginians who had the confidence of the 
people to come together and turn themselves and their 
neighbors into good Union men. But as we all had taken 
a different view, he had perhaps made a mistake, and was 
ready to correct it if he had. 

I remarked, in the course of conversation, that if the 
so-called legislature came together, they would be likely 
to propose terms which might seem reasonable, but which 
we could not accept; that I had not great faith in negoti- 
ating with large bodies of men, each would encourage 
the other in asking and doing what no one of them would 
do alone; that he could make a better arrangement with 
any one the worst of them than with all; that he 
might be embarrassed by recognizing and treating with 
them, when we were now in a condition to prescribe what 
should be done. 

April 14, Friday. Last night there was a general illum- 
ination in Washington, fireworks, etc. To-day is the anni- 
versary of the surrender of Sumter, and the flag is to be 
raised by General Anderson. 

General Grant was present at the meeting of the Cab- 
inet to-day, and remained during the session. The subject 
was the relations of the Rebels, the communications, the 
trade, etc. Stanton proposed that intercourse should be 
opened by his issuing an order, that the Treasury would 
give permits to all who wished them to trade, excluding 
contraband, and he, Stanton, would order the vessels to 
be received into any port. I suggested that it would be 
better that the President should issue a proclamation 
stating and enjoining the course to be pursued by the 
several Departments. 

McCulloch expressed a willingness to be relieved of the 
Treasury agents. General Grant expressed himself very 
decidedly against them; thought them demoralizing, etc. 
The President said we, i. e. the Secretaries of Treasury, 
War, and Navy, had given the subject more attention than 



he had and he would be satisfied with any conclusion we 
would unite upon. I proposed to open the whole coast to 
any one who wished to trade, and who had a regular clear- 
ance and manifest, and was entitled to a coast license. 
Stanton thought it should not extend beyond the military 
lines. General Grant thought they might embrace all this 
side of the Mississippi. 

Secretary Stanton requested the Cabinet to hear some 
remarks which he desired to make, and to listen to a pro- 
position or ordinance which he had prepared with much 
care and after a great deal of reflection, for reconstruction 
in the Rebel States. The plan or ordinance embraced two 
distinct heads, one for asserting the Federal authority in 
Virginia, the other for reestablishing a State government. 
The first struck me favorably, with some slight emenda- 
tions; the second seemed to me objectionable in several es- 
sentials, and especially as in conflict with the principles of 
self-government which I deem essential. There was little 
said on the subject, for the understanding was that we 
should each be furnished with a copy for criticism and sug- 
gestion, and in the mean time we were requested by the 
President to deliberate and carefully consider the proposi- 
tion. He remarked that this was the great question now 
before us, and we must soon begin to act. Was glad Con- 
gress was not in session. 

I objected that Virginia occupied a different position 
from that of any other .State in rebellion; that while regu- 
lar State governments were to be established in other 
States, whose Secession governments were nullities and 
would not be recognized, Virginia had a skeleton organiza- 
tion which she had maintained through the War, which 
government we had recognized and still recognized; that we 
to-day acknowledged Pierpont as the legitimate Governor 
of Virginia. He had been elected by only a few border 
counties, it was true; had never been able to enforce his 
authority over but a small portion of the territory or popu- 
lation; nevertheless we had recognized and sustained him. 



282 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 14 

The President said the point was well taken. Governor 
Dennison said he thought we should experience little diffi- 
culty from Pierpont. Stanton said none whatever. 

I remarked the fact was not to be controverted that we 
had treated with the existing government and could not 
ignore our own acts. The President and a portion of the 
Cabinet had, in establishing the new State of West Vir- 
ginia, recognized the validity of the government of Vir- 
ginia and of Pierpont's administration, which had given its 
assent to that division. Without that consent no division 
could legally have taken place. I had differed with others 
in that matter, but consistency and the validity of our 
own act required us to continue to acknowledge the ex- 
isting government. It was proper we should enforce the 
Federal authority, and it was proper we should aid Gov- 
ernor Pierpont, whose government was recognized and 
established. In North Carolina a legal government was 
now to be organized and the State reestablished in her 
proper relations to the Union. 

Inquiry had been made as to army news on the first 
meeting of the Cabinet, and especially if any information 
had been received from Sherman. None of the members 
had heard anything, and Stanton, who makes it a point to 
be late, and who has the telegraph in his Department, had 
not arrived. General Grant, who was present, said he 
was hourly expecting word. The President remarked it 
would, he had no doubt, come soon, and come favorable, 
for he had last night the usual dream which he had pre- 
ceding nearly every great and important event of the 
War. Generally the news had been favorable which suc- 
ceeded this dream, and the dream itself was always the 
same. I inquired what this remarkable dream could be. 
He said it related to your (my) element, the water ; that 
he seemed to be in some singular, indescribable vessel, 
and that he was moving with great rapidity towards an in- 
definite shore; that he had this dream preceding Sumter, 
Bull Bun, Antietam, Gettysburg, Stone River, Vicksburg, 



1865] THE ASSASSINATION OF LINCOLN 283 

Wilmington, etc. General Grant said Stone River was 
certainly no victory, and he knew of no great results which 
followed from it. The President said however that might 
be, his dream preceded that fight. 1 

"I had," the President remarked, "this strange dream 
again last night, and we shall, judging from the past, have 
great news very soon. I think it must be from Sherman. 
My thoughts are in that direction, as are most of yours." 

I write this conversation three days after it occurred, 
in consequence of what took place Friday night, and but 
for which the mention of this dream would probably have 
never been noted. Great events did, indeed, follow, for 
within a few hours the good and gentle, as well as truly 
great, man who narrated his dream closed forever his 
earthly career. 

I had retired to bed about half past-ten on the evening 
of the 14th of April, and was just getting asleep when 
Mrs. Welles, my wife, said some one was at our door. 
Sitting up in bed, I heard a voice twice call to John, my 
son, whose sleeping-room was on the second floor directly 
over the front entrance. I arose at once and raised a win- 
dow, when my messenger, James Smith, called to me that 
Mr. Lincoln, the President, had been shot, and said Sec- 
retary Seward and his son, Assistant Secretary Frederick 
Seward, were assassinated. James was much alarmed and 
excited. I told him his story was very incoherent and im- 
probable, that he was associating men who were not to- 
gether and liable to attack at the same time. " Where," 
I inquired, "was the President when shot?" James said 

1 General Grant interrupted to say Stone River was no victory, that 
a few such fights would have ruined us. The President looked at Grant 
curiously and inquiringly; said they might differ on that point, and at all 
events his dream preceded it. This was the first occasion I had to notice 
Grant's jealous nature. In turning it over in my mind at a later period, I 
remembered that Rawlina had been sent to Washington to procure action 
against General McClernand at Vicksburg. Later there was jealousy 
manifested towards General Thomas and others who were not satellites. 
G. W. 



284 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL u 

he was at Ford's Theatre on 10th Street. "Well," said I, 
" Secretary Seward is an invalid in bed in his house yonder 
on 15th Street." James said he had been there, stopped in 
at the house to make inquiry before alarming me. 

I immediately dressed myself, and, against the earnest 
remonstrance and appeals of my wife, went directly to Mr. 
Seward' s, whose residence was on the east side of the square, 
mine being on the north. James accompanied me. As we 
were crossing 15th Street, I saw four or five men in earn- 
est consultation, standing under the lamp on the corner 
by St. John's Church. Before I had got half across the 
street, the lamp was suddenly extinguished and the knot 
of persons rapidly dispersed. For a moment and but a 
moment I was disconcerted to find myself in darkness, 
but, recollecting that it was late and about time for the 
moon to rise, I proceeded on, not having lost five steps, 
merely making a pause without stopping. Hurrying for- 
ward into 15th Street, I found it pretty full of people, 
especially so near the residence of Secretary Seward, 
where there were many soldiers as well as citizens already 
gathered. 

Entering the house, I found the lower hall and office full 
of persons, and among them most of the foreign legations, 
all anxiously inquiring what truth there was in the horrible 
rumors afloat. I replied that my object was to ascertain 
the facts. Proceeding through the hall to the stairs, I 
found one, and I think two, of the servants there holding 
the crowd in check. The servants were frightened and 
appeared relieved to see me. I hastily asked what truth 
there was in the story that an assassin or assassins had 
entered the house and assaulted the Secretary. They said 
it was true, and that Mr. Frederick was also badly injured. 
They wished me to go up, but no others. At the head of 
the first stairs I met the elder Mrs. Seward, who was 
scarcely able to speak but desired me to proceed up to Mr. 
Seward's room. I met Mrs. Frederick Seward on the third 
story, who, although in extreme distress, was, under the 



1865] VISIT TO SEWARD'S HOUSE 285* 

circumstances, exceedingly composed. I asked for the 
Secretary's room, which she pointed out, the southwest 
room. As I entered, I met Miss Fanny Seward, with whom 
I exchanged a single word, and proceeded to the foot of the 
bed. Dr. Verdi and, I think, two others were there. The 
bed was saturated with blood. The Secretary was lying 
on his back, the upper part of his head covered by a cloth, 
which extended down over his eyes. His mouth was open, 
the lower jaw dropping down. I exchanged a few whispered 
words with Dr. V. Secretary Stanton, who came after 
but almost simultaneously with me, made inquiries in a 
louder tone till admonished by a word from one of the 
physicians. We almost immediately withdrew and went 
into the adjoining front room, where lay Frederick Seward. 
His eyes were open but he did not move them, nor a limb, 
nor did he speak. Doctor White, who was in attendance, 
told me he was unconscious and more dangerously injured 
than his father. 

As we descended the stairs, I asked Stanton what he had 
heard in regard to the President that was reliable. He said 
the President was shot at Ford's Theatre, that he had 
seen a man who was present and' witnessed the occurrence. 
I said I would go immediately to the White House. Stan- 
ton told me the President was not there but was at the 
theatre. "Then," said I, "let us go immediately there." 
He said that was his intention, and asked me, if I had not 
a carriage, to go with him. In the lower hall we met 
General Meigs, 1 whom he requested to take charge of the 
house, and to clear out all who did not belong there. 
General Meigs begged Stanton not to go down to 10th 
Street; others also remonstrated against our going. Stan- 
ton, I thought, hesitated. Hurrying forward, I remarked 
that I should go immediately, 'and I thought it his duty 
also. He said he should certainly go, but the remonstrants 
increased and gathered round him. I said we were wasting 
time, and, pressing through the crowd, entered the car- 

1 Montgomery C. Meigs, Quartermaster-General. 



286 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 14 

riage and urged Stanton, who was detained by others after 
he had placed his foot on the step. I was impatient. Stan- 
ton, as soon as he had seated himself, turned round, rose 
partly, and said the carriage was not his. I said that was 
no objection. He invited Meigs to go with us, and Judge 
Cartter of the Supreme Court * mounted with the driver. 
At this moment Major Eckert 2 rode up on horseback 
beside the carriage and protested vehemently against Stan- 
ton's going to 10th Street; said he had just come from 
there, that there were thousands of people of all sorts there, 
and he considered it very unsafe for the Secretary of War 
to expose himself. I replied that I knew not where he 
would be more safe, and that the duty of both of us was 
to attend the President immediately. Stanton concurred. 
Meigs called to some soldiers to go with us, and there was 
one on each side of the carriage. The streets were full of 
people. Not only the sidewalk but the carriage-way was 
to some extent occupied, all or nearly all hurrying towards 
10th Street. When we entered that street we found it 
pretty closely packed. 

The President had been carried across the street from 
the theatre, to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered 
by ascending a flight of steps above the basement and pass- 
ing through a long hall to the rear, where the President lay 
extended on a bed, breathing heavily. Several surgeons 
were present, at least six, I should think more. Among them 
I was glad to observe Dr. Hall, who, however, soon left. 
I inquired of Dr. H., as I entered, the true condition of the 
President. He replied the President was dead to all intents, 
although he might live three hours or perhaps longer. 

The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the 
bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been 
stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occa- 
sionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce 
have expected from his spare appearance. His slow, full 

1 That is, of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. 



1865] THE PRESIDENT'S LAST HOURS 287 

respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he i 
took. His features were calm and striking. I had never i 
seen them appear to better advantage than for the first ! 
hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that, his right eye j 
began to swell and that part of his face became discolored, i 

Senator Sunnier was there, I think, when I entered. If 
not he came in soon after, as did Speaker Colfax, Mr. 
Secretary McCulloch, and the other members of the Cab- 
inet, with the exception- of Mr. Seward. A double guard 
was stationed at the door and on the sidewalk, to repress 
the crowd, which was of course highly excited and anxious. 
The room was small and overcrowded. The surgeons ancT~~| 
members of the Cabinet were as many as should have i 
been in the room, but there were many more, and the hall 
and other rooms in the front or main house were full. One 
of these rooms was occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and her at- 
tendants, with Miss Harris. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Kinney 
came to her about twelve o'clock. About once an hour Mrs. 
Lincoln would repair to the bedside of her dying husband 
and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by 
emotion. 

[April 15.] A door which opened upon a porch or gallery, 
and also the windows, were kept open for fresh air. The 
night was dark, cloudy, and damp, and about six it began 
to rain. I remained in the room until then without sitting or 
leaving it, when, there being a vacant chair which some one 
left at the foot of the bed, I occupied it for nearly two hours, 
listening to the heavy groans, and witnessing the wasting 
life of the good and great man who was expiring before me^~ 

About 6 A.M. I experienced a feeling of faintness and J 
for the first time after entering the room, a little past 
eleven, I left it and the house, and took a short walk in the 
open air. It was a dark and gloomy morning, and rain set 
in before I returned to the house, some fifteen minutes 
[later]. Large groups of people were gathered every few 
rods," all anxious and solicitous. Some one or more from 
each group stepped forward as I passed, to inquire into 



288 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL is 

the condition of the President, and to ask if there was no 
hope. Intense grief was on every countenance when I 
replied that the President could survive but a short time. 
The colored people especially and there were at this 
time more of them, perhaps, than of whites were over- 
whelmed with grief. 

~~~ Returning to the house, I seated myself in the back 
parlor, where the Attorney-General and others had been 
engaged in taking evidence concerning the assassination, 
Stanton, and Speed, and Usher were there, the latter 
asleep on the bed. There were three or four others also 
in the room. While I did not feel inclined to sleep, as many 
did, I was somewhat indisposed. I had been so for several 
days. The excitement and bad atmosphere from the 
crowded rooms oppressed me physically. 

A little before seven, I went into the room where the 
dying President was rapidly drawing near the closing mo- 
ments. His wife soon after made her last visit to him. 
The death-struggle had begun. Robert, his son, stood 
with several others at the head of the bed. He bore him- 
self well, but on two occasions gave way to overpowering 
grief and sobbed aloud, turning his head and leaning on 
the shoulder of Senator Sumner. The respiration of the 
President became suspended at intervals, and at last en- 
tirely ceased at twenty-two minutes past seven. 

A prayer followed from Dr. Gurley; and the Cabinet, 
with the exception of Mr. Seward and Mr. McCulloch, 
immediately thereafter assembled in the back parlor, from 
which all other persons were excluded, and there signed 
a letter which was prepared by Attorney-General Speed 
to the Vice-President, informing him of the event, and 
that the government devolved upon him. 

Mr. Stanton proposed that Mr. Speed, as the law officer, 
should communicate the letter to Mr. Johnson with some 
other member of the Cabinet. Mr. Dennison named^me. 
I saw that, though all assented, it disconcerted Stanton, 
who had expected and intended to be the man and to have 



I865J JOHNSON TAKES THE OATH 289 

Speed associated with him. I was disinclined personally 
to disturb an obvious arrangement, and therefore named 
Mr. McCulloch as the first hi order after the Secretary of 
State. 

I arranged with Speed, with whom I rode home, for a 
Cabinet-meeting at twelve meridian at the room of the 
Secretary of the Treasury, in order that the government 
should experience no detriment, and that prompt and ne- 
cessary action might be taken to assist the new Chief Magis- 
trate in preserving and promoting the public tranquillity. 
We accordingly met at noon. Mr. Speed reported that the 
President had taken the oath, which was administered by 
the Chief Justice, and had expressed a desire that the affairs 
of the government should proceed without interruption. 
Some discussion took place as to the propriety of an in- 
augural address, but the general impression was that it 
would be inexpedient. I was most decidedly of that opinion. 

President Johnson, who was invited to be present, de- 
ported himself admirably, and on the subject of an inau- 
gural said his acts would best disclose his policy. In all es- 
sentials it would, he said, be the same as that of the late 
President. He desired the members of the Cabinet to go 
forward with their duties without any change. Mr. Hunter, 
Chief Clerk of the State Department, was designated to 
act ad interim as Secretary of State. I suggested Mr. Speed, 
but I saw it was not acceptable in certain quarters. Stan- 
ton especially expressed a hope that Hunter should be 
assigned to the duty. 

A room for the President as an office was proposed 
until he could occupy the Executive Mansion, and Mr. 
McCulloch offered the room adjoining his own in the 
Treasury Building. I named the State Department as 
appropriate and proper, at least until the Secretary of 
State recovered, or so long as the President wished, but 
objections arose at once. The papers of Mr. Seward would, 
Stanton said, be disturbed; it would be better he should 
be here, etc., etc. Stanton, I saw, had a purpose; among 

2 



290 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 15 

other things, feared papers would fall under Mr. Johnson's 
eye which he did not wish to be seen. 

On returning to my house this morning, Saturday, I 
found Mrs. Welles, who had been ill and confined to the 
house from indisposition for a week, had been twice sent 
for by Mrs. Lincoln to come to her at Peterson's. The 
housekeeper, knowing the state of Mrs. W.'s health, had 
without consultation turned away the messenger, Major 
French, but Mrs. Welles, on learning the facts when he 
came the second time, had yielded, and imprudently gone, 
although the weather was inclement. She remained at the 
Executive Mansion through the day. For myself, wearied, 
shocked, exhausted, but not inclined to sleep, the day, 
when not actually and officially engaged, passed off 
strangely. 

I went after breakfast to the Executive Mansion. There 
was a cheerless cold rain and everything seemed gloomy, 
On the Avenue in front of the White House were several 
hundred colored people, mostly women and children, 
weeping and wailing their loss. This crowd did not appear 
to diminish through the whole of that cold, wet day; they 
seemed not to know what was to be their fate since their 
great benefactor was dead, and their hopeless grief affected 
me more than almost anything else, though strong and 
brave men wept when I met them. 

At the White House all was silent and sad. Mrs. W. was 
with Mrs. L. and came to meet me in the library. Speed 
came in, and we soon left together. As we were descending 
the stairs, "Tad," who was looking from the window at 
the foot, turned and, seeing us, cried aloud in his tears, 
"Oh, Mr. Welles, who killed my father?" Neither Speed 
nor myself could restrain our tears, nor give the poor boy 
any satisfactory answer. 

[April 16.] Sunday, the 16th, the President and Cabinet 
met by agreement at 10 A.M. at the Treasury. The Presid- 
ent was half an hour behind time. Stanton was more than 
an hour late. He brought with him papers, and had many 



.1865] DISCUSSION OF RECONSTRUCTION 291 

suggestions relative to the measure before the Cabinet at 
our last meeting with President Lincoln. The general policy 
of the treatment of the Rebels and the Rebel States was dis- 
cussed. President Johnson is not disposed to treat treason 
lightly, and the chief Rebels he would punish with exem- 
plary severity. 

Stanton has divided his original plan and made the re- 
establishing of State government applicable to North. 
Carolina, leaving Virginia, which has a loyal government 
and governor, to arrange that matter of election to which 
I had excepted, but elaborating it for North Carolina and 
the other States. 

Being at the War Department Sunday evening, I was 
detained conversing with Stanton. Finally Senator Sum- 
ner came in. He was soon followed by Gooch and Dawes 
of Massachusetts and some two or three others. One or 
more general officers also came in. Stanton took from his 
table, in answer to an inquiry from Sumner, his document 
which had been submitted to the Cabinet and which was 
still a Cabinet measure. 

It was evident the gentlemen were there by appoint- 
ment, and I considered myself an intruder or out of place. 
If so, Stanton did not know how to get rid of me, and it 
seemed awkward for me to leave. The others doubtless 
supposed I was there by arrangement; perhaps I was, 
but I felt embarrassed and was very glad, after he had 
read to them his first programme for Virginia, and had 
got about half through with the other, when Sumner de- 
manded to know what provision was made for the colored 
man to vote. A line was brought me at this time by the 
messenger, which gave me an opportunity to leave. 

[April 17.] On Monday, the 17th, I was actively engaged 
in bringing forward business which had been interrupted 
and suspended, issuing orders, and in arranging for the 
funeral solemnities of President Lincoln. Secretary Seward 
and his son continue in a low condition, and Mr. Fred Sew- 



292 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL is 

April 18, Tuesday. Details in regard to the funeral, 
which takes place on the 19th, occupied general attention 
and -little else than preliminary arrangements and con- 
versation was done at the Cabinet-meeting. From every 
part of the country comes lamentation. Every house, al- 
most, has some drapery, especially the homes of the poor, 
Profuse exhibition is displayed on the public buildings 
and the dwellings of the wealthy, but the little black 
ribbon or strip of black cloth from the hovel of the poor 
negro or the impoverished white is more touching. 

I have tried to write something consecutively since the 
horrid transactions of Friday night, but I have no heart 
for it, and the jottings down are mere mementos of a 
period, which I will try to fill up when more composed, 
and I have leisure or time for the task. 

Sad and painful, wearied and irksome, the few preceding 
incoherent pages have been written for future use, for the 
incidents are fresh in my mind and may pass away with 
me but cannot ever be by me forgotten. 

[April 19.] The funeral on Wednesday, the 19th, was 
imposing, sad, and sorrowful. All felt the solemnity, and 
sorrowed as if they had lost one of their own household, 
By voluntary action business was everywhere suspended, 
and the people crowded the streets. 

The Cabinet met by arrangement in the room occupied 
by the President at the Treasury. We left a few minutes 
before meridian so as to be in the East Room at precisely 
twelve o'clock, being the last to enter. Others will give 
the details. 

I rode with Stanton in the procession to the Capitol. 
The attendance was immense. The front of the procession 
reached the Capitol, it was said, before we started, and 
there were as many, or more, who followed us. A brief 
prayer was made by Mr. Gurley in the rotunda, where we 
left the remains of the good and great man we loved so well. 
Returning, I left Stanton, who was nervous and full of 
orders, and took in my carriage President Johnson and 




ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

From n portrait by Matthew Wilson, painted for Secretary Welle 



1865] LINCOLN'S FUNERAL 293 

Preston King, their carriage having been crowded out of 
place. Coming down Pennsylvania Avenue after this 
long detention, we met the marching procession in broad 
platoons all the way to the Kirkwood House on Twelfth 
Street. 

There were no truer mourners, when all were sad, than 
the poor colored people who crowded the streets, joined 
the procession, and exhibited their woe, bewailing the loss 
of him whom they regarded as a benefactor and father. 
Women as well as men, with their little children, thronged 
the streets, sorrow, trouble, and distress depicted on their 
countenances and in their bearing. The vacant holiday 
expression had given way to real grief. Seward, I am told, 
sat up in bed and viewed the procession and hearse of the 
President, and I know his emotion. Stanton, who rode 
with me, was uneasy and left the carriage four or five 
times. 

[April 21.] On the morning of Friday, the 21st, I went 
by appointment or agreement to the Capitol at 6 A.M. 
Stanton had agreed to call forme before six and take me in 
his carriage, the object being to have but few present when 
the remains were taken from the rotunda, where they had 
lain in state through Thursday, and were visited and seen 
by many thousands. As I knew Stanton to be uncertain and 
in some respects unreliable, I ordered my own carriage to be 
ready at an early hour. I wished also to take my sons with 
me to the obsequies, the last opportunity they or I would 
have to see the remains and to manifest our respect and 
regard for the man who had been the steady and abiding 
friend of their father. Stanton, as I expected, was late, 
and then informed me he had not, as he agreed he would, 
informed Governor Dennison of our purpose. He said he 
had to go for another friend, and wished me to take up 
Governor D. Not until I had got to Dennison's house was 
I aware of Stanton's neglect. It was then about six. Gover- 
nor D., who had not yet risen, sent me word he would be 
ready in three minutes. I think he was not five. Stanton, 



294 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 21 

I perceived, did not tell me the truth about another visitor. 
He moved in great haste himself, being escorted by the 
cavalry corps which had usually attended the President. 

We hurried on, reached the Capitol, and entered the 
rotunda just as Mr. Gurley was commencing an earnest 
and impressive prayer. When it was concluded, the re- 
mains were removed and taken to the depot, where, in 
waiting, were a car and train prepared for the commence- 
ment of the long and circuitous journey of the illustrious 
dead to his last earthly resting-place in Springfield, in the 
great prairies of the West. We were, as we had intended, 
an hour in advance of the time, and thus avoided the 
crowd, which before the train departed thronged the roads 
and depot. 

The meeting of the Cabinet was not protracted. Stanton 
did not bring forward his reconstruction or reestablishing 
scheme. He seemed desirous of evading or avoiding the 
subject. I alluded to but did not care to press it, if no one 
seconded me. We discussed the measure of amnesty, and 
the Attorney-General expressed his views as to the con- 
struction which he would put upon the proclamation and 
declarations of the late President. Stanton and he, I per- 
ceived, were acting in concert, and one if not two others 
had been spoken to in advance. 

Stanton called at my house about 6 P.M. and invited me 
to a hasty Cabinet convention at 8 P.M. on important mat- 
ters requiring immediate action. When we had assembled, 
General Grant and Preston King were also present. Stan- 
ton briefly mentioned that General Grant had important 
communications from General Sherman, and requested 
that he would read them, which he did. It stated he had 
made a peace, if satisfactory, with the Rebels, etc., etc. 
This and everything relating to it will be spread before the 
world. Among the Cabinet and all present there was but 
one mind on this subject. The plan was rejected, and Sher- 
man's arrangement disapproved. Stanton and Speed were 
emphatic in their condemnation, though the latter ex- 



1865] SHERMAN'S PEACE TERMS 295 

pressed personal friendship for Sherman. General Grant, 
I was pleased to see, while disapproving what Sherman 
had done, and decidedly opposed to it, was tender to sens- 
itiveness of his brother officer and abstained from censure. 
Stanton came charged with specified objections, four in 
number, counting them off on his fingers. Some of his ar- 
gument was apt and well, some of it not in good taste 
nor precisely pertinent. 

It was decided that General Grant should immediately 
inform General Sherman that his course was disapproved, 
and that generals in the field must not take upon them- 
selves to decide on political and civil questions, which be- 
longed to the executive and civil service. The military 
commanders would press on and capture and crush out the 
Rebels. 

[April 22.] On Saturday, the 22d, I learned that General 
Grant left in person to go to General Sherman instead of 
sending written orders. This was sensible, and will insure the 
work to be well and satisfactorily done. Senator Sumner 
called on me with inquiries which he heard in the street 
relative to General Sherman. As he came direct from the 
War Department, I was satisfied that Stanton, as usual, 
after enjoining strict secrecy upon others, was himself com- 
municating the facts in confidence to certain parties. One 
or two others spoke to me in the course of the afternoon on 
the same subject. 

[April 23.] Sunday morning, the papers contained the 
whole story of Sherman's treaty and our proceedings, with 
additions, under Stanton' s signature. I was not sorry to see 
the facts disclosed, although the manner and some of Stan- 
ton's matter was not particularly commendable, judicious, 
or correct. But the whole was characteristic, and will be 
likely to cause difficulty, or aggravate it, with Sherman, 
who has behaved hastily, but I hope not, as has been in- 
sinuated, wickedly. He has shown himself a better general 
than diplomatist, negotiator, or politician, and we must 
not forget the good he has done, if he has only committed 



296 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 23 

an error, and I trust and believe it is but an error, a 
grave one, it may be. But this error, if it be one, had its 
origin, I apprehend, with President Lincoln, who was for 
prompt and easy terms with the Rebels. Sherman's terms 
were based on a liberal construction of President Lincoln's 
benevolent wishes and the order to Weitzel concerning the 
Virginia legislature, the revocation of which S. had not 
heard. 

Speed, prompted by Stanton, who seemed frantic but 
with whom he sympathized, expressed his fears that Sher- 
man at the head of his victorious legions had designs upon 
the government. Dennison, while disapproving what Sher- 
man had done, scouted the idea that he had any unworthy 
aspirations. I remarked that his armies were composed of 
citizens like ourselves, who had homes and wives and 
children as well as a government that they loved. 1 

April 25, Tuesday. I find myself unable to get Stanton 
and McCulloch to the sticking-point on the subject of 
opening our ports to coast trade. This and Reconstruction 
were the last subjects before President Lincoln at the 
Cabinet-meeting on the day before his death. 

The course and position were discussed to-day in Cabinet 
with some earnestness. Speed came strongly charged, and 
had little doubt that Sherman was designing to put him- 
self at the head of the army. Thought he had been seduced 
by Breckinridge, and was flattering himself that he would 

1 In reading and reconsidering this whole subject after the excitement 
and apprehensions stimulated by the impulsive zeal, if nothing more, of 
Stanton, I am satisfied that Sherman was less censurable than under the 
excitement at the time appeared, that he was in fact substantially carry- 
ing out the benignant policy of President Lincoln to which Stanton was 
opposed. No one, except perhaps Speed, fully sympathized with Stanton, 
yet all were in a degree influenced by him. At the time we had been 
made to believe, by the representations of Stanton, that he and Judge- 
Advocate-General Holt had positive evidence that Jeff Davis, Clay, 
Thompson, and others had conspired to assassinate Mr. Lincoln, Mr. 
Johnson, and most of the Cabinet. Strange stories were told us and it was 
inder these representations, to which we then gave credit, that we were 
less inclined to justify Sherman. G. W. 



1865] SUSPICIOUS OF SHERMAN 297 

be able to control and direct public affairs. Governor 
Dennison, while censuring Sherman, would not condemn 
him unheard; he may have- some reasons that we know not 
of, may have been short of ammunition or supplies. 

I suggested that it might be vanity, eccentricity, an 
error of judgment, the man may have thought himself 
to be what he is not, that I had no fears of his misleading 
the army or seducing them to promote any personal 
schemes of ambition, if he had such. Every regiment, and 
probably every company, in that army had intelligent men, 
fit to be legislators; they were of us and a part of us, would 
no more tolerate usurpation on the part of Sherman than 
we would. 

"Suppose," said Speed, "he should arrest Grant when 
Grant arrived at Raleigh/' etc., etc. Men will have strange 
phantoms. I was surprised at Speed, but he has, evidently, 
conversed on this subject before with some one or more, 
who has similar opinions. This apprehension which I have 
sometimes heard intimated has never made a serious im- 
pression on me, for I have confidence in our people, and 
so I have in Sherman, who believed himself to be carry- 
ing out the wishes of Mr. Lincoln and the policy of the 
Administration. It is the result of the conference at City 
Point, and intended to be in furtherance of the proclama- 
tion of Weitzel, the revocation of which he has not seen. 

In reflecting on this subject, I think we have permitted 
ourselves amid great excitement and stirring events to be 
hurried into unjust and ungenerous suspicions by the 
erroneous statements of the Secretary of War. Speed 
adopts and echoes the jealousies and wild vagaries of 
Stanton, who seems to have a mortal fear of the generals 
and the armies, although courting and flattering them. 
He went to Savannah to pay court to Sherman when that 
officer was the favored general and supposed to have eclipsed 
Grant, but, the latter having gained the ascendant by the 
fall of Richmond and the capture of Lee, Stanton would 
now reinstate himself with Grant by prostrating Sherman. 



298 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 25 

Had conversation with President Johnson in regard to 
a proclamation that we would no longer forbear proceed- 
ing against those who might be taken plundering our com- 
merce as pirates. He concurred with me most fully, after 
discussing the question, and desired me to bring him the 
form of proclamation or have it prepared for the next 
Cabinet day. As the subject of preparing these papers 
belonged properly to the State Department, I felt it would 
be improper to slight Mr. Hunter, who is Acting Secretary. 
I therefore called upon him, and fortunately met Senator 
Sumner, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, 
who entered heartily into the measure and said he had some 
days since alluded to it as a step that should be taken. 

When brought before the Cabinet, Stanton objected 
to it because the declaration had been made April 19, 
1861, and though we had forborne for four years, no new 
enunciation should be made, but every man we now had or 
whom we should hereafter capture, should be hung. Speed 
took much the same ground, though more narrow and 
technical. President Johnson was very explicit in ex- 
pressing his opinions, but as the subject was new and 
there were these differences of opinion it was postponed 
for consideration. 

April 29, Saturday. Mellen, the Treasury agent, called 
on me to-day with a crude mess in relation to Treasury 
agents and trade regulations. I told him they were not 
what we wanted and I did not like them, that I thought 
the whole fabric which had been constructed at the Treas- 
ury should be swept away. He claims it cannot be done 
by the Executive under the law, and it is true Chase and 
his men have tied up matters by legislation, literally plac- 
ing the government in the hands of the Treasury. 



XXX 

McCulloch as Secretary of the Treasury Stanton's Proclamation offering 
a Reward for the Apprehension of Davis and Others The Question of 
Negro Suffrage The Trial of the Assassins of Lincoln The Cabinet 
calls on Secretary Seward Capture of Jefferson Davis Great 
Review of the Union Armies in Washington Visit to Charleston, 
Savannah, and Wilmington Grant urges Action in favor of the 
Republic in Mexico The Oath administered to Appointees in the 
South France and England withdraw Belligerent Rights from the 
Confederates Death of Admiral Du Pont Du Font's Differences 
with the Secretary Senator Trumbull and his Relations with Lincoln 
Preston King an Adviser to the President The President overrun 
with Visitors The Political Aspect of the Negro Suffrage Question 
Senator Wade on the Usurpation of Power by the Executive. 

May 1, 1865 

May 2. A very protracted session of the Cabinet. The 
chief subject was the Treasury regulations. There was 
unanimity, except McCulloch, who clings to the schemes 
of Chase and Fessenden. The latter can, however, hardly be 
said to have schemes of his own. But the policy of Chase 
and his tools, which F. adopted, is adhered to by McCul- 
loch, who is new in place and fears to strike out a policy 
of his own. He fears to pursue any other course than 
the one which has been prescribed. 

McCulloch is a correct man in business routine but is not 
an experienced politician or educated statesman. He 
wants experience in those respects, and needs grasp and 
power to extricate himself from among a rotten and cor- 
rupt swarm of leeches who have been planted in the Treas- 
ury. Some legal points being raised, the subject was re- 
ferred to Attorney-General Speed to examine and report. 

Stanton produced a paper from Judge-Advocate-Gen- 
eral Holt, to the effect that Jeff Davis, Jacob Thompson, 
Sanders, 1 and others were implicated in the conspiracy to 
1 George N. Sanders, a Confederate agent in Canada. 



300 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 2 

assassinate President Lincoln and others. A proclamation 
duly prepared was submitted by Stanton with this paper 
of Holt, which he fully indorses, offering rewards for their 
apprehension. McCulloch and Hunter, whose opinions 
were asked, went with Stanton without a question. I, on 
being asked, remarked if there was proof of the complicity 
of those men, as stated there was, they certainly ought to 
be arrested, and that reward was proper, but I had no facts, 

May. The calls upon the President by associations 
claiming to represent States and municipalities are be- 
coming less. To some extent they may have been useful in 
the peculiar condition of public affairs by inspiring con- 
fidence, and in giving the President an opportunity to 
enunciate his opinions in the absence of any inaugural, but 
they have been annoying at times, obstructions to busi- 
ness, and were becoming irksome. The President was not 
displeased with these manifestations and has borne him- 
self well through a period which has been trying and ardu- 
ous, and is gathering to himself the good wishes of the 
country. 

I called up the subject of free communication through 
the coast to all vessels having regular clearance, but was 
told the President and Secretary of the Treasury were en- 
deavoring to make a satisfactory arrangement which should 
be in conformity with the act of July 2, 1864. It is obvious 
that the intention of that act was to place the Treasury 
above ; or independent of, the President, one of Chase's 
demonstrations, and his hand is in this movement. 

A proclamation, or order, that those who were taken 
plundering our commerce should be punished, and that 
forbearance to put in execution the proclamation of the 
19th of April, 1861, would not longer be exercised, was op- 
posed by Stanton and Speed. Others failed to sustain me, 
except McCulloch, who gave me partial support. Stanton 
considers it his special province to guard Seward's policy 
as it has been, not being aware that Seward has changed. 



1865] THE QUESTION OF NEGRO SUFFRAGE 301 

The subject of reestablishing the Federal authority, and 
of a reorganization of the State governments in the insur- 
rectionary region was discussed. The Secretary of War 
was requested to send copies of the modified plan to each 
head of Department, and a special Cabinet-meeting was 
ordered on Monday, the 8th, to consider the subject. 

At the Cabinet-meeting the plan of asserting the Federal 
authority and of establishing the State government in Vir- 
ginia was fully considered. Stanton's project with several 
radical amendments presented by me was adopted. I was 
surprised and gratified with the alacrity and cheerfulness 
he exhibited, and the readiness with which he adopted and 
assented to most of my amendments. In one instance he 
became a little pugnacious, Speed and Dennison having 
dissented. Two of my recommendations were not adopted, 
and as no other one presented amendments, I cared not to 
appear fastidious, but am nevertheless satisfied I was right. 
The session was long, over four hours. 

May 9, Tuesday. A proclamation of amnesty proposed 
by Speed was considered and, with some changes, agreed to. 

The condition of North Carolina was taken up, and a 
general plan of organization intended for all the Rebel 
States was submitted and debated. No great difference of 
opinion was expressed except on the matter of suffrage.. 
Stanton, Dennison, and Speed were for negro suffrage; 
McCulloch, Usher, and myself were opposed. It was 
agreed, on request of Stanton, we would not discuss the 
question, but each express his opinion without preliminary 
debate. After our opinions had been given, I stated I was 
for adhering to the rule prescribed in President Lincoln's 
proclamation, which had been fully considered and ma- 
tured, and besides, in all these matters, I am for no further 
subversion of the laws, institutions, and usages of the 
States respectively, no* for Federal intermeddling in local 
matters, than is absolutely necessary, in order to rid them 
of the radical error which has caused our national trouble. 



302 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 9 

All laws, not inconsistent with those of the conquerors, 
remain until changed to the conquered, is an old rule. 

This question of negro suffrage is beset with difficulties 
growing out of the conflict through which we have passed 
and the current of sympathy for the colored race. The 
demagogues will make use of it, regardless of what is best 
for the country, and without regard for the organic law, 
the rights of the State, or the troubles of our government. 
There is a fanaticism on the subject with some, who per- 
suade themselves that the cause of liberty and the Union 
is with the negro and not the white man. White men, and 
especially Southern white men, are tyrants. Senator 
Sumner is riding this one idea at top speed. There are 
others, less sincere than Sumner, who are pressing the 
question for party purposes. On the other hand, there 
may be unjust prejudices against permitting colored per- 
sons to enjoy the elective franchise, under any circum- 
stances ; but this is not, and should not be, a Federal ques- 
tion. No one can claim that the blacks, in the Slave States 
especially, can exercise the elective franchise intelligently, 
In most of the Free States they are not permitted to vote. 
Is it politic, and wise, or right even, when trying to restore 
peace and reconcile differences, to make so radical a 
change, provided we have the authority, which I deny, 
to elevate the ignorant negro, who has been enslaved 
mentally as well as physically, to the discharge of the high- 
est duties of citizenship, especially when our Free States 
will not permit the few free negroes to vote? 

The Federal government has no right and has not at- 
tempted to dictate on the matter of suffrage to any State, 
and I apprehend it will not conduce to harmony to arro- 
gate and exercise arbitrary power over the States which 
have been in rebellion. It was never intended by the found- 
ers of the Union that the Federal government should pre- 
scribe suffrage to the States. We shall get rid of slavery by 
constitutional means. But conferring on the black civil 
rights is another matter. I know not the authority. The 



1865] THE QUESTION OF NEGRO SUFFRAGE 303 

President in the exercise of the pardoning power may limit 
or make conditions, and, while granting life and liberty to 
traitors, deny them the right of holding office or of voting. 
While, however, he can exclude traitors, can he legiti- 
mately confer on the blacks of North Carolina the right to 
vote? I do not yet see how this can be done by him or by 
Congress. 

This whole question of suffrage is much abused. The 
negro can take upon himself the duty about as intelligently 
and as well for the public interest as a considerable portion 
of the foreign element which comes amongst us. Each will 
be the tool of demagogues. If the negro is to vote and ex- 
ercise the duties of a citizen, let him be educated to it. The 
measure should not, even if the government were empow- 
ered to act, be precipitated when he is stolidly ignorant and 
wholly unprepared. It is proposed to do it against what 
have been and still are the constitutions, laws, usages, and 
practices of the States which we wish to restore to fellow- 
ship. 

Stanton has changed his position, has been converted, is 
now for negro suffrage. These were not his views a short 
time since. But aspiring politicians will, as the current 
now sets, generally take that road. 

The trial of the assassins is not so promptly carried into 
effect as Stanton declared it should be. He said it was his 
intention the criminals should be tried and executed before 
President Lincoln was buried. But the President was 
buried last Thursday, the 4th, and the trial has not, I 
believe, commenced. 

I regret they are not tried by the civil court, and so ex- 
pressed myself, as did McCulloch; but Stanton, who says 
the proof is clear and positive, was emphatic, and Speed 
advised a military commission, though at first, I thought, 
otherwise inclined. It is now rumored the trial is to be 
secret, which is another objectionable feature, and will be 
likely to meet condemnation after the event and excite- 
ment have passed off. 



304 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAYS 

The rash, impulsive, and arbitrary measures of Stanton 
are exceedingly repugnant to my notions, and I am pained 
to witness the acquiescence they receive. He carries 
others with him, sometimes against their convictions w 
expressed to me. 

The President and Cabinet called on Mr. Seward at his 
house after the close of the council. He came down to meet 
us in his parlor. I was glad to see him so well and animated, 
yet a few weeks have done the work of years, apparently, 
with his system. Perhaps, when his wounds have healed, 
and the fractured jaw is restored, he may recover in some 
degree his former looks, but I apprehend not. His head 
was covered with a close-fitting cap, and the appliances to 
his jaw entered his mouth and prevented him from articu- 
lating clearly. Still he was disposed to talk, and we to lis- 
ten. Once or twice, allusions to the night of the great 
calamity affected him more deeply than I have ever seen 
him. 

May 10, Wednesday. Senator Sumner called on me. We 
had a long conversation on matters pertaining to the affairs 
of Fort Sumter. He has been selected to deliver an oration 
on Mr. Lincoln's death to the citizens of Boston, and de- 
sired to post himself in some respects. I told him the influ- 
ence of the Blairs, and especially of the elder, had done 
much to strengthen Mr. Lincoln in that matter, while 
Seward and General Scott had opposed. 

Sumner assures me Chase has gone into Rebeldom to 
promote negro suffrage. I have no doubt that Chase has 
that and other schemes for Presidential preferment in 
hand in this voyage. S. says that President Johnson is 
aware of his (Chase's) object in behalf of the negroes, and 
favors the idea of their voting. On this point I am skep- 
tical. He would not oppose any such movement, were 
any State to make it. I so expressed myself to Sumner, 
and he assented but intended to say the negroes were the 
people. 



1865] THE TRIAL OF THE ASSASSINS 305 

May 11. The papers, and especially those of New York, 
are complaining of the court which is to try the assassins, 
and their assault is the more severe because it is alleged 
that the session is to be secret. This subject is pretty much 
given over to the management of the War Department, 
since Attorney-General Speed and Judge-Advocate-Gen- 
eral Holt affirm that to be legal, and a military court the 
only real method of eliciting the whole truth. It would be 
impolitic, and, I think, unwise and injudicious, to shut off 
all spectators and make a " Council of Ten" of this Com- 
mission. The press will greatly aggravate the objections, 
and do already. 

May 12, Friday. The President does not yet sufficiently 
generalize., but goes too much into unimportant details, 
and personal appeals. He will, however, correct this with a 
little experience, I have no doubt. 

I inquired of the Secretary of War if there is any founda- 
tion for the assertion that the trial of the assassins is to be 
in secret. He says it will not be secret, although the doors 
will not be open to the whole public immediately. Full and 
minute reports of all the testimony and proceedings will be 
taken and in due time published; and trusty and reliable 
persons, in limited numbers, will have permission to at- 
tend. This will relieve the proceeding of some of its objec- 
tionable features. 

Stanton has undertaken to get the projected amnesty 
proclamation (as last altered, amended, corrected, and 
improved) printed, also the form of government for North 
Carolina as last shaped, and as far as anything decisive had 
taken place. Dennison inquired when he might have 
copies, and he promises to send immediately. The truth is, 
it is still in the hands of the President, who will shape it 
right. King has been of service in this matter. 

May 13 and 14. The piratical ram Stonewall has reached 
Nassau and is anchored in the outer harbor, from which 

2 



ish authorities. 

Extraordinary efforts are made, in every quarter where 
it is supposed influence can be felt, to embarrass the Navy 
Department and procure favor for Henderson, Navy 
Agent, whose trial is near. G. W. Blunt has come on from 
New York for the express purpose of getting the case post- 
poned, by inducing the Department to interfere. Told 
Blunt the case had gone to the courts and I could not 
undertake to interfere and direct the courts in the matter. 
The attorneys had the case in hand. Blunt requested me 
not to give a positive refusal till Monday. In the mean 
time Preston King called on me on Sunday, as I ascer- 
tained at the request of Blunt. King had, on two previous 
occasions, conversed with me on the subject, and then and 
now fully concurred in the propriety and correctness of my 
course. Mr. Lowrey, brother-in-law of Fox, has written 
the latter entreating him to favor Henderson, saying I 
would yield, if Fox would only take ground for H. Morgan 
has written me begging I will not incur the resentment of 
the editors of the Post by insisting on the prosecution. I 
am urged to do wrong in order to let a wrongdoer escape. 

Intelligence was received this morning of the capture of 
Jefferson Davis in southern Georgia. I met Stanton this 
Sunday P.M. at Seward's, who says Davis was taken dis- 
guised in women's clothes. A tame and ignoble letting- 
down of the traitor. 

May 15. Sir Frederick Bruce has not yet returned. Had 
an interview with Seward on the subject of the Stonewall. 
He is confident the English will deny her hospitality, but 
Hunter tells me they let her have enough coal to reach 
Havana. They dared not refuse! Will send two ironclads to 
encounter her, provided they can meet her. 

May 16, Tuesday. Great questions not taken up at the 



1865] COMPLIMENTS FROM SENATOR DIXON 307 

Cabinet. Several minor matters considered. Mr. Harlan, 
successor of Mr. Usher in the Department of the Interior, 
was with us to-day. Remarked to President Johnson that 
Governor Dennison and myself proposed leaving on Satur- 
day next for Charleston, and if the subject of reconstruc- 
tion and amnesty was to be taken up before we left, there 
might be haste. He said the whole matter would be sat- 
isfactorily disposed of, he presumed, before Saturday; is 
expecting some North Carolina Union men. 

May 17, Wednesday. The Stonewall has gone to Ha- 
vana. Seward promises to have Tassara posted. Is confid- 
ent the Spaniards will exclude her from their ports; but 
thinks it would be well to have our ironclads sent out. 

Seward is getting better, but is seriously injured and will 
be long in getting well. Fred lingers in a low state. 

May 18, Thursday. Notice is given to-day of a grand 
parade of the armies of the Potomac, of the Tennessee, and 
Georgia, etc., etc., to take place on Tuesday and Wednes- 
day next. This interferes with our proposed trip, which 
has so often been deferred. But there is no alternative. It 
will not do to be absent on such an historic occasion. 

May 19, Friday. Preston King tells me he has a letter 
from Senator Dixon, speaking of me in very compliment- 
ary terms and expressing a wish that I may continue in 
the Cabinet, assuring K. that this is the sentiment of all 
parties in Connecticut. The President is not yet prepared to 
complete the Amnesty Proclamation, nor to issue the order 
for the reestablishment of the authority of the local State 
governments. Our North Carolina friends have not ar- 
rived. Seward was to-day in the State Department, and 
the President with the rest of us went to his room. I not- 
iced that his old crony and counterpart, Thurlow Weed, 
was with him as we entered. Seward was gratified and ev- 
idently felt complimented that we called. Was very decis- 



308 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 19 

ive and emphatic on the subject of a proclamation declar- 
ing the Rebel vessels pirates and also a proclamation for 
opening the ports. Both these measures I had pressed 
rather earnestly; but Stanton, and Speed under Stanton's 
prompting, had opposed, for some assumed technical reas- 
on [?], the first, i. e. declaring the Rebel vessels pirates, and 
McCulloch the last, opening the ports. I was, therefore, 
pleased when Seward, unprompted, brought them both for- 
ward. I suggested that the proclamation already issued 
appeared to me to be sufficient, but I was glad to have his 
opinions on account of the opposition of Speed. 

Received a telegram this P.M. from Commander Frailey 
and one from Acting-Rear-Admiral Radford, stating that 
the former, in command of the Tuscarora, had convoyed 
to Hampton Roads the William Clyde, having on board 
Jeff Davis, Stephens, etc. 

This dispatch, addressed to me, Stanton had in his hand 
when I entered his room, whither he had sent for me. The 
telegraph goes to the Department of War, where it has an 
office, and I before have had reason to believe that some 
abuse a sort of an espionage existed. Half apologiz- 
ing for an obvious impropriety, he said the custody of these 
prisoners devolved on him a great responsibility, and until 
he had made disposition of them, or determined where 
they should be sent, he wished their arrival to be kept a 
secret. He was unwilling, he said, to trust Fox, and spe- 
cially desired me to withhold the information from him, 
for he was under the Blairs and would be used by them, 
and the Blairs would improve the opportunity to embar- 
rass him. 

I by no means concur in his censures or his views. Fox, 
like Stanton, will sometimes confide secrets which he had 
better retain, but not, I think, when enjoined. The Blairs 
have no love for Stanton, but I do not think he has any 
cause of apprehension from them in this matter. 

He wished me to order the Tuscarora to still convoy and 
guard the Clyde, and allow no communication with the 



1865] DAVIS AND STEPHENS IN CUSTODY 309 

prisoners except by order of General Halleck or the War 
Department, General Halleck, Stanton has ordered 
down from Richmond to attend to this business, and 
again earnestly requested and enjoined that none but we 
three himself, General Grant, and myself should 
know of the arrival and disposition of these prisoners. I 
told him the papers would have the arrivals announced in 
their next issue. 

Stanton said no word could get abroad. He had the tele- 
graph in his own hands and could suppress everything. 
Not a word should pass. I remarked he could not stop the 
mails, nor passenger-boats, and twenty-four hours would 
carry the information to Baltimore and abroad in that way. 
Twenty-four hours, he said, would relieve him. 

Stanton is mercurial, arbitrary and apprehensive, 
violent and fearful, rough and impulsive, yet possessed 
of ability and energy. I, of course, under his request, shall 
make no mention of or allusion to the prisoners, for the 
present. In framing his dispatch, he said, with some em- 
phasis, the women and children must be sent off. We did 
not want them. "They must go South/' and he framed 
his dispatch accordingly. When he read it I remarked, 
"The South is very indefinite, and you permit them to 
select the place. Mrs. Davis may designate Norfolk, or 
Richmond." "True," said Grant with a laugh. Stanton 
was annoyed, but, I think, altered his telegram. 

May 20, Saturday. Stanton informed me this P.M. that 
Halleck had gone from Richmond to Fortress Monroe and 
he wished certain persons, whom he named, should be sent 
in a naval vessel to Fort Warren, certain others to Fort 
Delaware, others to Fort McHenry. He still urged secrecy, 
but in less than an hour our regular dispatches by mail 
stated the facts. Others also had them. 

General Sherman is here. I have not yet met him, but I 
understand he is a little irate towards Stanton and very 
mad with Halleck. This is not surprising, and yet some 



310 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 20 

allowance is to be made for them. Sherman's motives 
cannot be questioned, although his acts may be. Stanton 
was unduly harsh and severe, and his bulletin to General 
Dix and specifications were Stantonian. Whether the 
President authorized, or sanctioned, that publication I 
never knew, but I and most of the members of the Cabinet 
were not consulted in regard to the publication, which was 
not in all respects correct. General Grant, who as unequiv- 
ocally disapproved of Sherman's armistice as any member 
of the Administration, was nevertheless tender of General 
Sherman, and did not give in to the severe remarks of 
Stanton at the time. 1 

[May 22 and 23.] On the 22d and 23d, the great review 
of the returning armies of the Potomac, the Tennessee, and 
Georgia took place in Washington. I delayed my pro- 
posed Southern trip in order to witness this magnificent and 
imposing spectacle. I shall not attempt at this time and 
here to speak of those gallant men and their distinguished 
leaders. It was computed that about 150,000 passed in 
review, and it seemed as if there were as many spectators. 
For several days the railroads and all communications 
were overcrowded with the incoming people who wished 
to see and welcome the victorious soldiers of the Union. 
The public offices were closed for two days. On the spacious 
stand in front of the Executive Mansion the President, Cab- 
inet, generals, and high naval officers, with hundreds of our 
first citizens and statesmen, and ladies, were assembled. 
But Abraham Lincoln was not there. All felt this. 

May 24. I went with Postmaster-General Dennison and 
a portion of our families and a few friends on board the 
Santiago de Cuba, one of our fast vessels of about fourteen 

1 At a later period President Johnson assured me that Stanton's publica- 
tion was wholly unauthorized by him, that he knew nothing of it until he 
saw it in the papers. We were all imposed, upon by Stanton, who had a pur- 
pose. He and the Radicals were opposed to the mild policy of President 
Lincoln, on which Sherman had acted, and which Stanton opposed and was 
determined to defeat. G. W. 



18Q5] VISIT TO CHARLESTON 311 

hundred tons, on a trip to Savannah. The late President 
had suggested to me some weeks before his death that he 
would be pleased to go on such an excursion to Charleston, 
and visit Dahlgren, who was, with him, a favorite. Subse- 
quent events and his protracted visit to the upper waters 
of the James and Richmond altered this plan, and might 
have defeated it, even had his life been prolonged. 

His death postponed and seemed at times likely to de- 
feat it altogether, but after repeated delays we on this day 
embarked and went down the Potomac. Of the voyage and 
its incidents I make here brief mention, for what is written 
is penned after our return, and from memory chiefly. 

[May 25 and 26-1 The day was fine and our sail down the 
river exceedingly pleasant. When I arose on the following 
morning, the 25th, we had passed Cape Henry and were at 
sea. The wind was strong from the southeast and the sea 
rough, with one or two smart storms of rain. Most of the 
passengers and some others were sick this and the follow- 
ing day, when we passed Cape Hatteras and Frying-Pan 
Shoals. Unexpectedly to myself, I was not seasick. 

On the morning of Sunday, the 27th [sic], 1 we were off 
Charleston Bar, waiting the tide and a pilot. Admiral 
Dahlgren came down in a tug and brought the fleet pilot, 
who took us in. Fort Sumter, whose ruins were prominent, 
we passed, and Morris and Sullivan's Islands, with their 
batteries, and anchored the Santiago near the town. 

May 27 [sic]. Mrs. Welles, who had not left her bed after 
retiring on the 24th on the lower Potomac, was brought 
upon deck and had a bed under the awning. The day was 
delicious, the air balmy, and she, as did all of us, enjoyed 
the scene. Our whole company, with the exception of Mrs. 
Welles and Mrs. Howard, went on shore and dispersed in 
squads over the city. With Dahlgren and a few others, I 
went to the Rebel navy yard and thence to the citadel 
and various parts of the city. Late in the afternoon we 

1 Sunday was the 28th. 



312 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 27 

took carriages which were politely furnished by General 
Hatch, and rode through the principal streets and into the 
suburbs, visiting the cemeteries, etc. 

[May 29.] On Monday we took a morning ride, Mrs. 
Welles being able to go with us, and drove about the place, 
Returning to the wharf, we took a tug, visited the Pawnee, 
and then went to Sumter, Moultrie, Fort Johnston, etc, 
The day was beautiful and all enjoyed it. 

There was both sadness and gratification in witnessing 
the devastation of the city and the deplorable condition of 
this seat of the Rebellion. No place has suffered more or 
deserved to have suffered more. Here was the seat of 
Southern aristocracy. The better blood the superior 
class, as they considered themselves here held sway and 
dictated the policy, not only of Charleston but of South 
Carolina, and ultimately of the whole South. The power 
of association and of exclusiveness has here been exempli- 
fied and the consequences that follow from the beginning 
of evil. Not that the aristocracy had more vigorous in- 
tellects, greater ability, for they had not, yet their wealth, 
their ancestry, the usage of the community gave them 
control. 

Mr. Calhoun, the leading genius and master mind of the 
State, was not one of the elite, the first families, but was 
used, nursed, and favored by them, and they by him. He 
acknowledged their supremacy and deferred to them ; they 
recognized his talents and gave him position. He pandered 
to their pride; they fostered his ambition. 

Rhett, one of the proudest of the nobility, had the ambi- 
tion of Calhoun without his ability, yet he was not desti- 
tute of a certain degree of smartness, which stimulated his 
aspirations. More than any one else, perhaps, has he con- 
tributed to precipitating this Rebellion and brought these 
terrible calamities on his State and country. The gentle- 
manly, elegant, but brilliantly feeble intellects of his class 
had the vanity to believe they could rule, or establish a 
Southern empire. Their young men had read Scott's 



1865] CHARLESTON AND SAVANNAH 313 

novels, and considered themselves to be knights and barons 
bold, sons of chivalry and romance, born to fight and to 
rule. Cotton they knew to be king, and slavery created cot- 
ton. They used these to combine other weak minds at the 
South, and had weak and willing tools to pander to them 
in certain partisans at the North. 

The results of their theory and the fruits of their labors 
are to be seen in this ruined city and this distressed people. 
Luxury, refinement, happiness have fled from Charleston; 
poverty is enthroned there. Having sown error, she has 
reaped sorrow. She has been, and is, punished. I rejoice 
that it is so. fc 

On Monday evening we left for Savannah, but, a storm 
coming on, the Santiago put into Port Royal, having lost 
sight of our consort. It had been our intention to stop at 
this place on our return, but, being here, we concluded to 
finish our work, and accordingly went up to Beaufort. Re- 
turning, we visited Hilton Head and Fort Welles on invita- 
tion from General Gillmore. 

[May 30.] Tuesday we proceeded up the Savannah River, 
and, on reaching the city, were provided with carriages to 
examine it and the environs. Savannah has suffered less 
from war than Charleston, and, though stricken, has the 
appearance of vitality if not of vigor. 

We drove out to Bonayentura, the former possession of 
Tatnall, which has been converted into a cemetery. The 
place has an indescribable beauty, I may say grandeur, im- 
pressing me beyond any rural place I have visited. Long 
rows of venerable live oaks, the splendid and valuable tree 
of the South, festooned with moss, opened up beautiful 
vistas and drives. The place I can never forget. 

I called on General Grover, in company with Admiral 
Dahlgren, and had half an hour's interesting conversation 
on the condition of affairs in Georgia and the South gener- 
ally. General Birge of Connecticut called on us at the 
boat, where we also met Samuel Cooley of Hartford, an old 
and familiar acquaintance. 



314 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 30 

Mrs. Jefferson Davis was at the Pulaski House. She had 
accompanied her husband to Fortress Monroe, and been 
ordered South when he was committed to the Fortress, 
The vessel in which she came had been in sight of ours a 
considerable portion of the day before we reached Charles- 
ton, and was in that harbor when we arrived there, but left 
and arrived here before us. 

We took our departure on the afternoon of Tuesday and 
passed down Thunderbolt Inlet to Wassaw Sound, going 
over the ground where the Weehawken captured the At- 
lanta. This Southern coast is a singular network of interior 
navigable waters interlacing each other, of which we knew 
very little before this Civil War. The naval men seemed 
to be better informed as regards the coast of Europe than 
their own country. 

The sun had set when we reached Savannah River, and 
it was dark when we left. Most of the company were im- 
portunate to visit Havana, but I thought it not best, and 
the steamer therefore turned homeward. 

[May 31- June 7.] We had calm and delightful weather. 
Were amused as persons on shipboard usually are. Off the 
entrance to Cape Fear we had some fishing . Saw and signalled 
a steamer on the inside near Fort Caswell, which came out 
to us. Two or three Treasury agents were on board, and 
Judge Casey of the Court of Claims, who is here, I sur- 
mise, like many others, for speculation. 

During the night we were serenaded by a fine band, 
which had come off in a steamer. We ascertained in the 
morning that it was General Hawley and staff in an army 
boat, they having come down from Wilmington to meet 
us. By invitation we went on board with them and pro- 
ceeded up the Cape Fear to Wilmington. The Santiago 
was directed to proceed around Smith's Island opposite to 
Fort Fisher and await us. The beach for some distance 
was strewn with wrecks of blockade-runners, or, more 
modestly and correctly speaking, several were beached. 
Our jaunt to Wilmington was pleasant, and our ride 



1865] THE RETURN TO WASHINGTON 315 

through various streets exceedingly warm. We returned 
early in order to visit Fort Fisher by daylight. These 
formidable defenses, which we finally captured, have given 
me exceeding annoyance for several years. The War De- 
partment and military, so long as Halleck controlled, had 
no comprehension of the importance of capturing this place, 
and by so doing cutting off Rebel supplies. 

We stopped a few hours at Fortress Monroe and walked 
round on the ramparts. Jeff Davis was a prisoner in one of 
the casemates, but I did not see him. 

June 8. The Santiago arrived at the Navy Yard, Wash- 
ington, this day, shortly after meridian. My two sons, 
Edgar and Tom, were awaiting our arrival and came off in 
the boat to receive us. All were well. 

Governor Dennison and myself called immediately on 
the President* and reported our return. We found him with 
a delegation headed by Judge Sharkey from Mississippi, 
concerning the subject of reorganizing that State. The 
President was glad to receive us, and invited us, after in- 
troduction, to participate in the discussion. Subsequently, 
after the delegation had withdrawn, we briefly reported 
the results of our observation as to the condition and senti- 
ments of the people of North and South Carolina and 
Georgia. 

Found matters at the Department had proceeded satis- 
factorily. Some matters which might have been disposed 
of awaited my action. 

June 9, Friday. Attended Cabinet-meeting. Mr. Seward 
was present. We met in the Blue Room for his accommo- 
dation. Affairs of Texas were discussed. Hamilton, who 
was appointed military governor by Mr. Lincoln, is here 
pressing himself for a continuance in that position. There 
seemed a general disposition to acquiesce in that arrange- 
ment. I remarked that I was not personally familiar with 
Hamilton, but I supposed him loyal. He had been a pro- 



316 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES 

fuse talker, but his profoundness and capability, an 
may add, his sincerity had sometimes appeared to 
questionable. I mentioned Governor Pease as a loyal i* 
reliable man of sound judgment, and undoubted 
and rightmindedness. 

June 10, Saturday. Absorbed in bringing forward n 
ters which had accumulated and disposing of them. 
instructions to Rear- Admiral Goldsborough essentially 
understood. Paymaster Cunningham says he has 
told there will be expenditures to officers to travel 
visit navy yards, and desires an authorization to pay 
Declined to give it. 

June 12, Monday. Sat an hour to Simmons for medallion. 
The President asked me if it would not be best under the 
circumstances, and as we had no word from Govern* r 
Pease, to continue Hamilton in the position of Governor <f 
Texas for the mere purpose of organizing, etc. I acqui- 
esced in most of his suggestions, though I told him my im- 
pressions of H. were not favorable. 

June 13, Tuesday. At the Cabinet-meeting to-day Judge 
Sharkey and Mr. George were formally introduced to tlic 
Cabinet, remaining, however, but a moment. It is con- 
cluded to make Sharkey provisional Governor. He is a 
man of mind and culture, Whig in his antecedents, and I 
think with some offensive points on the subject of slavery 
and popular rights; but he was and is opposed to repudia- 
tion and bad faith by Mississippi. The subject of Treasury 
agents and tax of twenty-five per cent on cotton was dis- 
cussed at great length in the Cabinet. All but the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury for abolishing agents and tax. McC. 
thinks the Executive has no authority. 

Asked McCulloch if it was true that Clerk Henderson 
had been reappointed. He said yes, after Solicitor Jor- 
dan investigated and reported the charge against him 



1865] GRANT ON THE MEXICAN SITUATION 317 

groundless. Told him I was satisfied H. was not a proper 
man, etc. 

June 14 and 15. Not well, but pressed in disposing of 
current business. Acting Rear-Admiral Godon reported in 
person. Had returned with Susquehanna to Hampton 
Roads from Havana. The authorities of Cuba, he says, 
very courteous, and the people entirely American. 

June 16, Friday. At Cabinet-meeting General Grant 
came in to press upon the government the importance of 
taking decisive measures in favor of the republic of Mex- 
ico. Thought that Maximilian and the French should be 
warned to leave. Said the Rebels were crossing the Rio 
Grande and entering the imperial service. Their purpose 
would be to provoke differences, create animosity, and pre- 
cipitate hostilities. Seward was emphatic in opposition to 
any movement. Said the Empire was rapidly perishing, 
and, if let alone, Maximilian would leave in less than 
six months, perhaps in sixty days, whereas, if we inter- 
fered, it would prolong his stay and the Empire also. 
Seward acts from intelligence, Grant from impulse. 

Seward submitted a paper drawn up by himself, favor- 
able to the purchase of Ford's Theatre to be devoted to 
religious purposes. Governor Dennison, who sometimes 
catches quickly at schemes, expressed his readiness to sign 
this, but no others concurred, and it was dropped. 

June 17, Saturday. Called on the President with lists of 
the candidates for the Naval School. After going over the 
lists, he requested they might be left, and that I would call 
on him at noon to-morrow. I reminded him that it was 
Sunday. He remarked if any other time would be more 
convenient to me, it would be acceptable to him. 

June 19, Monday. Called yesterday on the President, as 
requested and appointed by him on Saturday. After run- 



318 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE w 

ning over the different classes of appointments which the 
President is authorized to make at the Naval School, he 
said he knew little of them and should leave them chiefly to 
me. There were four selections of the class of ten at large 
to be made, and perhaps thirty candidates, three of whom 
were from Tennessee. He spoke highly of each and ex- 
pressed a wish that all three should be appointed. I said he 
could so order, but suggested that exception might be 
taken to the appointment of three from his own State, and 
only one to all others. He appreciated the objection, but 
said they were all good boys. I intimated a probability 
that all, or nearly all, the candidates were also excellent 
young men. It was finally left that two of them should be 
appointed, and that the other must if possible come in 
under another class. 

June 20, Tuesday. Mr. Seward was absent from the 
Cabinet-meeting. All others were present. The meetings 
are better and more punctually attended than under Mr. 
Lincoln's administration, and measures are more generally 
discussed, which undoubtedly tends to better administra- 
tion. Mrs. Seward lies at the point of death, which is the 
cause of Mr. Seward's absence. 

The subject of appointments in the Southern States 
the Rebel States was discussed. A difficulty is experi- 
enced in the stringent oath passed by the last Congress. 
Men are required to swear they have rendered no volun- 
tary aid to the Rebellion, nor accepted or held office under 
the Rebel government. This oath is a device to perpetuate 
differences, if persisted in. 

I was both amused and vexed with the propositions and 
suggestions for evading this oath. Stanton proposed that 
if the appointees would not take the whole oath, to swear 
to as much as they could. Speed was fussy and uncertain; 
did not know but what it would become necessary to call 
Congress together to get rid of this official oath. Harlan 1 

1 Harlan had succeeded Secretary Usher in the Department of the Interior. 



1865] THE NEW OATH OF OFFICE 319 

believed the oath proper and that it should stand. Said it 
was carefully and deliberately framed, that it was de- 
signed, purposely, to exclude men from executive appoint- 
ments. Mr. Wade and Mr. Sunnier had this specially in 
view. Thought there was no difficulty in these appoint- 
ments except judges. All other officers were temporary; 
judges were for life. I remarked that did not follow. If the 
Senate, when it convened, did not choose to confirm the 
judicial appointments, the incumbents could only hold 
until the close of the next session of Congress. But above 
and beyond this I denied that Congress could impose limit- 
ations and restrictions on the pardoning power, and thus 
circumscribe the President's prerogative. I claimed that 
the President could nominate, and the Senate confirm, an 
officer independent of that form and oath, and if the ap- 
pointee took and faithfully conformed to the constitu- 
tional oath, he could not be molested. McCulloch inclined 
to my views, but Stanton insisted that point had been 
raised and decided and could not, therefore, be maintained. 
I claimed that no wrong decision could be binding, and I 
had no doubt of the wrongfulness of such a decision, deny- 
ing that the constitutional rights of the Executive could be 
frittered away by legislation. There is partyism in all this, 
not union or country. 

June 21, Wednesday. Mrs. Seward, wife of Secretary 
Sewardj died this A.M. Mr. Seward sends me a letter in- 
closing dispatch of Lord John Russell in relation to belli- 
gerent rights to the Rebels. Both France and England 
withdraw belligerent rights from them, France, it would 
seem, unconditionally, but England with conditions, and, 
as usual, our Secretary is outmanoeuvred. He writes me 
that our naval vessels will not extend courtesies to British 
naval vessels, etc. Disagreed and wrote him of the diffi- 
culty of instructing naval officers. But called at State 
Department. It was late and no one there. 



320 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 22 

June 22, Thursday. I called early on the President in 
relation to Seward's letter concerning the blockade and 
courtesy to British vessels. He concurred in my views. I 
went to the State Department and saw Mr. Hunter. He 
agreed with me and complimented my letter, and also one 
I wrote a few days since regarding the Japanese vessel, 
which seems to have made an impression upon him, and 
which he complimented as very statesmanlike and in- 
structive. 

June 23, Friday. Rear-Admiral Dahlgren returned this 
morning from Charleston. Two years since he left. Simul- 
taneous with his return come tidings of the death of Rear- 
Admiral Du Pont, whom he relieved, and who died this 
A.M. in Philadelphia. Du Pont possessed ability, had ac- 
quirements, was a scholar rather than a hero. He was a 
courtier, given to intrigue, was selfish, adroit, and skillful. 
Most of the Navy were attached to him and considered 
his the leading cultured mind in the service. He nursed 
cliques. There are many intelligent and excellent officers, 
however, who look upon him with exceeding dislike; yet 
Du Pont had, two and three years ago, greater personal 
influence than any man in the service. He knew it, and in- 
tended to make it available in a controversy with the De- 
partment on the subject of the monitor vessels, to which 
he took a dislike. Although very proud, he was not phys- 
ically brave. Pride would have impelled him to go into 
action, but he had not innate daring courage. He was de- 
termined not to retain his force or any portion of it in 
Charleston Harbor, insisted it could not be done, dis- 
obeyed orders, was relieved, and expected to rally the 
Navy and country with him, but was disappointed. Some 
of his best friends condemned his course. He sought a 
controversy with the Department, and was not successful. 
Disappointed and chagrined, he has been unhappy and 
dissatisfied. I believe I appreciated and did justice to his 




SAMUEL F. DU PONT 



1865] DEATH OF ADMIRAL DU PONT 321 

any time provoked to do him wrong. He challenged me 
to remove him, and felt confident I would not do it. I 
would not have done it had he obeyed orders and been 
zealous for operations against Charleston. As it was, I 
made no haste, and only ordered Foote and Dahlgren when 
I got ready. Then the step was taken. Du Pont was 
amazed, yet had no doubt the Navy would be roused in his 
favor, and that he should overpower the Department. 
Months passed. He procured two or three papers to speak 
for him, but there was no partisanship in the Navy for 
him, except with about half a dozen young officers, whom 
he had petted and trained, and a few mischievous politi- 
cians. 

Returning to Delaware, he went into absolute retire- 
ment. None missed or called for him. This seclusion did 
not please him and became insupportable, but he saw no 
extrication. He therefore prepared a very adroit letter in 
the latter part of October, 1863, ostensibly an answer to a 
dispatch of mine written the preceding June. This skillful 
letter, I have reason to believe, was prepared in concert 
with H. Winter Davis, and was intended to be used in an 
assault on me at the session of Congress then approaching. 
Although much engaged, I immediately replied, and in 
such a manner as to close up Du Pont. Davis, however, 
made his attack in Congress, but in such a way as not to 
draw out the correspondence. Others remedied that de- 
ficiency, and Davis got more than he asked. Du Pont sank. 
He could rally no force, and the skill and tact at intrigue 
which had distinguished him in earlier years and in lower 
rank was gone. He felt that he was feeble and it annoyed 
him. Still, his talent was not wholly idle. False issues were 
put forth, and doubtless some have been deceived by them. 

Admiral Porter is ordered to superintend the Naval 
School. In some respects a good officer, but is extravagant 
in expenditure sometimes, and I am apprehensive has a 
tendency to be partial. I trust, however, he may prove 
successful. 



322 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 23 

A letter of General Grant/urging the necessity of prompt 
action against the Imperial Government of Mexico, was 
read in Cabinet. Differences of opinion were expressed, but 
there was not a general concurrence in the apprehensions 
expressed by General Grant, who, naturally perhaps, de- 
sires to retain a large military force in service. 

In a long conversation with Blair this evening he told 
me he had put himself in communication with some of the 
New York editors. Greeley had disappointed him, and 
was unreliable. Marble of the World he commends highly, 
I incline to think he has ability and he, or some of his 
writers, exhibits more comprehension of the true principles 
and structure of the government than in other journals. 
There is in the World more sound doctrine in these days 
than in most papers. 

Blair still holds on to McCleilan, stronger, I think, 
than he did a year ago. Perhaps Marble and his New 
York friends have influenced him more than he supposes, 
and that he, instead of, or as well as they, may have been 
at least parti illy converted. 

June 24, Saturday. Senator Trumbull called on me to- 
day. Says he is and has been Johnsonian. Is not pre- 
pared to say the Administration policy of Reconstruction 
is not the best that could be suggested. As Trumbull is by 
nature censorious, a faultfinder, I was prepared 
to hear him censure. But he has about him some of the 
old State-rights notions which form the basis of both his 
and my political opinions. 

He expressed a hope that we had more regular Cabinet- 
meetings and a more general submission of important 
questions to the whole council than was the case under Mr, 
Lincoln's administration. Trumbull and the Senators gen- 
erally thought Seward too meddlesome and presuming. 
The late President well understood and rightly appreciated 
the character and abilities of Trumbull, and would not 
quarrel with him, though he felt him to be ungenerous and 



1865] LINCOLN AND SENATOR TRUMBTJLL 323 

exacting. They had been pretty intimate r though of op- 
posing parties, in Illinois, until circumstances and events 
brought them to act together. In a competition for the 
seat of Senator, Mr. Lincoln, though having three fourths 
of the votes of their combined strength, 1 when it was neces- 
sary they should have all to succeed in choosing a Senator, 
finding that Trumbull would not give way, himself with- 
drew and went for T., who was elected. The true traits of 
the two men were displayed in that contest. Lincoln was 
self-sacrificing for the cause; Trumbull persisted against 
great odds in enforcing his own pretensions. When L. was 
taken up and made President, Trumbull always acted as 
though he thought himself a more fit and proper man than 
Lincoln, whom he had crowded aside in the Senatorial 
contest. 

Preston King thinks that D. D. T. Marshall had better 
be retained as storekeeper at Brooklyn for the present, 
unless there is evidence of fraud or corruption. On these 
matters K. is very decided and earnest and would spare no 
one who is guilty. I have always found him correct as well 
as earnest. King is domiciled at the Executive Mansion, 
and I am glad the President gives him so truly and fully 
his confidence, and that he has such a faithful and com- 
petent adviser. 

The President permits himself to be overrun with vis- 
itors. I find the anteroom crowded through the day by 
women and men seeking audience, often on frivolous and 
comparatively unimportant subjects which belong pro- 
perly to the Departments, often by persons who have cases 
which have been investigated and passed upon by the 
Secretaries or by the late President. This pressure will, if 
continued, soon break down the President or any man. No 
one has sufficient physical endurance to perform this labor, 
nor is it right. 

June 26, Monday. A very wet day. Was to have visited 

1 On the first ballot Lincoln had 45 votes and Trumbull 5. 



Admiral Dahlgren on the Pawnee with the President, but, 
the day being inclement and the President somewhat indis- 
posed, the visit was deferred. 

June 27, Tuesday. The President still ill, and the visit 
to the Pawnee further postponed. No Cabinet-meeting. 
The President is feeling the effects of intense application to 
his duties, and over-pressure from the crowd. 

A great party demonstration is being made for negro 
suffrage. It is claimed the negro is not liberated unless he 
is also a voter, and, to make him a voter, those who urge 
this doctrine would subvert the Constitution, and usurp 
or assume authority not granted to the Federal govern- 
ment. While I am not inclined to throw impediments in the 
way of the universal, intelligent enfranchisement of all 
men, I cannot lend myself to break down constitutional 
barriers, or to violate the reserved and undoubted rights of 
the States. In the discussion of this question, it is evident 
that intense partisanship instead of philanthropy is the 
root of the movement. When pressed by arguments which 
they cannot refute, they turn and say if the negro is not 
allowed to vote, the Democrats will get control of the gov- 
ernment in each of the seceding or rebellious States, and in 
conjunction with the Democrats of the Free States they 
will get the ascendency in our political affairs. As there 
must and will be parties, they may as well form on this 
question, perhaps, as any other. It is centralization and 
State rights. It is curious to witness the bitterness and in- 
tolerance of the philanthropists in this matter. In their 
zeal for the negro they lose sight of the fundamental law 
of all constitutional rights and safeguards, and of the civil 
regulations and organization of the government. 

June 30, Friday. The weather for several days has been 
exceedingly warm. For some time there have been com- 
plaints of mismanagement of affairs in the storekeeper's 
department at Boston, and on Monday last I made a 



5J WADE ON EXECUTIVE USURPATION 325 

a/nge, appointing an officer who lost a leg in the serv- 

Mr. Gooch comes to me with an outcry from the 

ston delegation wanting action to be deferred. Told 

if there was any reason for it I would give it consider- 
on. He wished to know the cause of the change. I 
d him the welfare and best interest of the service, 
is not my purpose in this and similar cases to be placed 

-fche defensive. I do not care to make or prefer charges, 
b I feel it a most unpleasant task to remove even objec- 
XDL able men. 

IThe President is still indisposed, and I am unable to per- 
t some important business that I wished to complete 
:li the close of the fiscal year. There are several Radical 
ambers here, and have been for some days, apparently 
sdlous to see the President. Have met Senator Wade 
3 or three times at the White House. Complains that 

> Executive has the control of the government, that 
ngress and the Judiciary are subordinate, and mere in- 
uirnents in his hands ; said our form of government was 
-the whole a failure; that there are not three distinct and 
dependent departments but one great controlling one with 
D others as assistants. Mentions that the late President 
led out 75,000 men without authority. Congress, when 
same together, approved it. Mr. Lincoln then asked for 
>,000 men and four hundred millions of money. Con- 
>ss gave him five of each instead of four. I asked him if 
supposed or meant to say that these measures were pro- 
sed without consulting, informally, the leading members 
each house. He replied that he did not, and admitted 
Lt the condition of the country required the action which 
s taken, that it was right and in conformity with public 
>ectation. 

Chad Stevens called on me on business and took occasion 
express ultra views, and had a sarcastic hit or two but 
liout much sting. He is not satisfied, nor is Wade, yet I 
nk the latter is mollified and disinclined to disagree with 

> President. But his friend Winter Davis, it is under- 



326 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 30 

stood, is intending to improve the opportunity of deliver- 
ing a Fourth-of-July oration, to take ground distinctly an- 
tagonistic to the Administration on the question of negro 
suffrage. 



XXXI 

McCulloch alarmed for the Treasury Lack of Economy in the War De- 
partment Sumner's Work in behalf of Negro Suffrage The Closing 
of Ford's Theatre Alexander H. Stepheus's Proposed Book Gen- 
erals Grant and Sherman hostile to Maximilian's Rule in Mexico 
Cabinet Discussion of the Subject The Conspirators against Pre- 
sident Lincoln sent to the Tortugas to await Trial The Trial of Jef- 
ferson Davis discussed in Cabinet The Completion of the Iron 
Ram Dunderberg Ex-Vice-President Hamlin and the Navy Agency 
in Washington. 

July 1, Saturday. I am this day sixty-three years old 
have attained my grand climacteric, a critical period in 
man's career. Some admonitions remind me of the frail- 
ness of human existence and of the feeble tenure I have on 
life. I cannot expect, at best, many returns of this anni- 
versary and perhaps shall never witness another. 

July 8, Saturday. The week has been one of intense 
heat, and I have been both busy and indolent. Incidents 
have passed without daily record. The President has been 
ill. On Friday I met him at the Cabinet. He has been 
threatened, Dennison tells me, with apoplexy. So the 
President informed him. 

Mr. Seward has undertaken to excuse and explain his 
strange letter to me stating "our vessels will withhold cour- 
tesy from the English." He was not aware what he wrote. 
Damns the English and said he was ready to let them 
know they must not insult us, and went into pretty glib 
denunciation of them. Says the French want to get out 
of Mexico and will go if we let them alone. In Cabinet yes- 
terday, Dennison mentioned a call he had from Sir Freder- 
ick Bruce, who desired him to bring to the notice of the 
President the grievance of an Englishman. Seward and 
Stanton objected to the informality of the proceedings, 



322 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNI 

A letter of General Grant/urging the necessity of pro: 
action against the Imperial Government of Mexico, ' 
read in Cabinet. Differences of opinion were expressed, 
there was not a general concurrence in the apprehensi 
expressed by General Grant, who, naturally perhaps, 
sires to retain a large military force in service. 

In a long conversation with Blair this evening he t 
me he had put himself in communication with some of 
New York editors. Greeley had disappointed him, i 
was unreliable. Marble of the World he commends hig] 
I incline to think he has ability and he, or some of 
writers, exhibits more comprehension of the true princi] 
and structure of the government than in other journ 
There is in the World more sound doctrine hi these d 
than in most papers. 

Blair still holds on to McClellan, stronger, I thi 
than he did a year ago. Perhaps Marble and his 
York friends have influenced him more than he suppo 
and that he, instead of, or as well as they, may have b 
at least parti illy converted. 

June 24, Saturday. Senator Trumbull called on me 
day. Says he is and has been Johnsonian. Is not ] 
pared to say the Administration policy of Reconstrucl 
is not the best that could be suggested. As Trumbull i 
nature censorious, a faultfinder, I was prepa 
to hear him censure. But he has about him some of 
old State-rights notions which form the basis of both 
and my political opinions. 

He expressed a hope that we had more regular Cabii 
meetings and a more general submission of import 
questions to the whole council than was the case under J 
Lincoln's administration. Trumbull and the Senators g 
erally thought Seward too meddlesome and presurn 
The late President well understood and rightly apprecia 
the character and abilities of Trumbull, and would 
quarrel with him, though he felt him to be ungenerous i 



1865] LINCOLN AND SENATOR TRUMBULL 323 

exacting. They had been pretty intimate, though of op- 
posing parties, in Illinois, until circumstances and events 
brought them to act together. In a competition for the 
seat of Senator, Mr. Lincoln, though having three fourths 
of the votes of their combined strength, 1 when it was neces- 
sary they should have all to succeed in choosing a Senator, 
finding that Trumbull would not give way, himself with- 
drew and went for T., who was elected. The true traits of 
the two men were displayed in that contest. Lincoln was 
self-sacrificing for the cause; Trumbull persisted against 
great odds in enforcing his own pretensions. When L. was 
taken up and made President, Trumbull always acted as 
though he thought himself a more fit and proper man than 
Lincoln, whom he had crowded aside in the Senatorial 
contest. 

Preston King thinks that D. D. T. Marshall had better 
be retained as storekeeper at Brooklyn for the present, 
unless there is evidence of fraud or corruption. On these 
matters K. is very decided and earnest and would spare no 
one who is guilty. I have always found him correct as well 
as earnest. King is domiciled at the Executive Mansion, 
and I am glad the President gives him so truly and fully 
his confidence, and that he has such a faithful and com- 
petent adviser. 

The President permits himself to be overrun with vis- 
itors. I find the anteroom crowded through the day by 
women and men seeking audience, often on frivolous and 
comparatively unimportant subjects which belong pro- 
perly to the Departments, often by persons who have cases 
which have been investigated and passed upon by the 
Secretaries or by the late President. This pressure will, if 
continued, soon break down the President or any man. No 
one has sufficient physical endurance to perform this labor, 
nor is it right. 

', 
June 26, Monday. A very wet day. Was to have visited 

1 On the first ballot Lincoln had 45 votes and Trumbull 5. 



328 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULYS 

which should come through the State Department. The 
objection was well taken, but Seward could not well pre- 
vent, having been constantly committing irregularities by 
interfering with other Departments. 

McCulloch is alarmed about the Treasury, Finds that 
Fessenden had neither knowledge nor accuracy; that it 
would have been as well for the Department and the coun- 
try had he been in Maine, fishing, as to have been in the 
Treasury Department. His opinion of Chase's financial 
abilities does not increase in respect as he becomes more 
conversant with the finances. But McCulloch, while a busi- 
ness man, and vastly superior to either of his two immediate 
predecessors, or both of them, in that respect, has unfor- 
tunately no political experience and is deficient in know- 
ledge of men. 

In some exhibits yesterday, it was shown that the mil- 
itary had had under pay during the year about one million 
men daily. Over seven hundred thousand have been paid 
off and discharged. There are still over two hundred thou- 
sand men on the rolls under pay. The estimates of Fessen- 
den are exhausted, the loan is limited by law, and McCul- 
loch is alarmed. His nerves will, however, become stronger, 
and he can he will find ways to weather the storm. 
Stanton has little idea of economy, although he parades 
the subject before the public. It is notorious that no econ- 
omy has yet penetrated the War Department. The troops 
have been reduced in number, men have been mustered 
out, because from the cessation of hostilities and the 
expiration of their terms they could not longer be retained, 
but I have not yet seen any attempt to retrench expenses 
in the quartermasters', commissary, or any other branch 
of the military service, certainly none in the War De- 
partment proper. 

On Tuesday the 4th, I went with Mrs. Welles and Mrs. 
Bigelow, wife of John B., our minister to France, to Silver 
Spring, a pleasant drive. The Blairs, as usual, were hos- 
pitable and interesting. They do not admire Louis Napo- 



A PRESIDENTIAL EXCURSION 329 

ind want his troops should be expelled from Mexico. 
B. is j oyous, pleasant, and happy, and it is evident her 
md wished her to see and get something of the views 
i Blairs, but, while intelligent and charming, she is not 
und on matters of State, and was a little disconcerted 
3 plain, blunt remarks of the elder Mr. and Mrs. Blair. 
las, however, a woman's instincts. 

ly 9. I yesterday proposed to the President to take a 
excursion down the river. He is pale and languid. It 
lonth since he came to the Executive Mansion, and he 
ever yet gone outside the doors. I told him this would 
answer, that no constitution would endure such 
and close confinement. While impressing him with my 
5, Speed came in, who earnestly joined me and im- 
d the President to go and take Stanton with him. It 
i, he said, do them both good. Stanton was not well, 
is overworked. There was, Speed said, a beautiful 
the River Queen, the President's yacht, intended by 
:on for his use, in which Mr. Lincoln had taken his 
sions to Hampton Roads and to Richmond. He made 
appeal to me on this point. But I told him that I 
nothing of such a boat ; that she did not belong to the 
r, nor had I any control over her. Speed said that he 
' the boat, that he came from Richmond on board of 

.e President said he thought he would go and would 
me word. About noon, his clerk, Muzzy, sent me 
that the President would go the next day at 11 A.M. 
.e River Queen. Here was a dilemma. I went over to 
Vliite House to ask whether it was expected I would 
T I could not order the Queen. Muzzy said the Queen 
lot the boat; it was his mistake; that the President 
I not put his foot on that vessel, would go with me on 
vy vessel, etc. While talking, the President came in 
the library and said he wanted a naval vessel, 
snt with the President, his daughter Mrs. Patterson, 



her two children, Mrs. Welles, Edgar, and John, Marshal 
Gooding, Horace Maynard, and two or three of the Pres- 
ident's secretaries on the Don, and proceeded down the 
Potomac below Acquia Creek. It was a cloudy summer 
day, extremely pleasant for a sail. The President was 
afflicted with a severe headache, but the excursion was of 
benefit to him. 

Commander Parker gave us a specimen of squadron drill 
and movements which was interesting. We returned to 
Washington about 8 P.M. 

July 10, Monday. A rainy day. We were to have had an 
excursion to the Pawnee, the flag-ship of Admiral Dahl- 
gren, but the weather has prevented. 

I read to the President two letters from Senator Sumner 
of the 4th and 5th of July, on the subject of negro suffrage 
in the Rebel States. Sumner is for imposing this upon those 
States regardless of all constitutional limitations and 
restriction. It is evident he is organizing and drilling for 
that purpose, and intends to make war upon the Adminis- 
tration policy and the Administration itself. The President 
is not unaware of the scheming that is on foot, but I know 
not if he comprehends to its full extent this movement, 
which is intended to control him and his Administration. 

July 11, Tuesday. The Cabinet-meeting was full. Stan- 
ton submitted an application from Judge Campbell, asking 
to be released from imprisonment in Pulaski. .Seward 
talked generalities, but on the whole would not advise 
Campbell's release at present. Said C. was a fool; that he 
lacked common sense and had behaved singularly. I re- 
marked that he was a judge of the highest court, had failed 
in his duty at -a critical moment, that he was the only judge 
on that bench that had been recreant and a traitor, and he 
would be one of the last I would recommend for special 
favor. The others coincided with me, and some were even 
stronger. 



1865] THE CLOSING OF FORD'S THEATRE 331 

Stanton also stated the circumstances under which he 
had sent a guard to close Ford's Theatre, and prevent it 
from being reopened. Was opposed to its ever being 
again used as a place of public amusement. Ford, he said, 
expected to make money from the tragedy, by drawing 
crowds to the place where Lincoln was slain. McCulloch 
and Harlan said that a crowd was gathering for riotous 
purposes, and that commotion would have followed the 
opening of the theatre. Stanton assigned that as one of the 
principal reasons for his course. It was concluded that it 
would not be advisable for the present to permit any at- 
tempt to open the theatre, for, in the present state of the 
public mind, tumult and violence, endangering not only the 
theatre but other property in the vicinity and human life, 
would be certain to follow. 

The President and Cabinet agreed to visit Rear-Admiral 
Dahlgren on the Pawnee. Went on the tug Geranium from 
the foot of 7th St. at half past-four. Had a pleasant time. 
A heavy shower came upon us on our return and delayed 
us at the wharf for nearly an hour. 

Both Stanton and Seward are disposed to exercise arbi- 
trary power, have too little regard for personal rights. 
The two men, I think, act in concert and have an under- 
standing with each other on most important questions. If 
neither felt quite so severe towards Campbell, the traitor 
judge, as the rest of us, they were harsher towards the 
other prisoners. On the question of Ford's Theatre there 
had, I thought, been preconcert between them. True some 
others of the Cabinet were under apprehension of a mob 
disturbance and concurred with them. I thought Ford's 
course not commendable in some respects, but, after all, 
who shall destroy his property or take it from him? A 
wrong is done him whether deprived of his own by arbitrary 
government acts or by mob violence. Stanton says he has 
been compelled to seize buildings for public use and can 
take this. But this is a perversion. He does not need this 
building; it is an excuse, a false pretext. And I doubt if he 



332 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY n 

will put it to any public use, though I presume he will pay 
Ford for depriving him of his property. 

July 12, Wednesday. The Pawnee left to-day for Ports- 
mouth. Edgar went in her, though with some reluctance. 

Newton Case, of Hartford, wishes me to get permission 
of the Secretary of War for him to visit and correspond with 
Alexander H. Stephens, now in Fort Warren, who is prepar- 
ing a work which Case and others are to publish. Stanton 
declines extending any facilities. Says Stephens can write 
and they can publish, but he won't help them. I thought 
the refusal injudicious. The work will be forthcoming. 
Why be discourteous and harsh to the prisoner? I have not 
a high regard for Stephens, who has not erred in ignorance, 
but he has ability and I would let him tell his story. 

July 13, Thursday. Read to the President a letter from 
Col. Ashbel Smith of Texas, who sends me resolutions 
adopted at Houston, and writes me on the condition of 
affairs. The President was pleased with the letter. A num- 
ber of Senators and Representatives are here in behalf of 
the Navy Agents whose terms are about to expire. The 
public interest does not influence these men. They are 
here to help men retain positions which they are occupying 
to no advantage to the country. I stated the case to the 
President briefly, and my opinion of the policy. He re- 
ferred the whole subject to me to dispose of. I told him I 
had no doubts or embarrassments except in the case of 
Brown, for whom the President was committed on an 
urgent appeal of Mr. Hamlin. 

July 14, Friday. But little of importance at the Cabinet. 
Seward read a letter from Bigelow, Minister at Paris, re- 
presenting that indications were that Maximilian would 
soon leave Mexico, had sent to Austria considerable 
amounts of money, etc. Also read extracts from a private 
letter of Prince de Joinville of similar purport. All of this, 



5] CABINET DISCUSSION OF MEXICO 333 

-ell understood, was intended to counteract a speech of 
>ntgomery Blair, delivered last Tuesday at Hagerstown, 
vhich he makes an onslaught on Seward and Stanton, as 
LI as France. 

Before we left, and after all other matters were disposed 
the President brought from the other room a letter from 
neral Sheridan to General Grant, strongly indorsed by 
5 latter and both letter and indorsement strongly hostile 
the French and Maximilian. Seward was astounded. 
sCulloch at once declared that the Treasury and the 
intry could not stand this nor meet the exigency which 
Dther war would produce. Harlan in a few words sus- 
ned McCulloch. Seward was garrulous. Said if we got 
war and drove out the French, we could not get out cur- 
ves. Went over our war with Mexico. Dennison in- 
ured why the Monroe Doctrine could not be asserted, 
ivard said if we made the threat we must be prepared to 
antain it. Dennison thought we might. "How, then," 
rs Seward, "will you get your own troops out of the 
intry after driving out the French?" "Why, march 
>m out," said Dennison. "Then," said S., "the French 
.1 return." "We will then," said D., "expel them again." 
remarked the country was exhausted, as McCulloch 
,ted, but the popular sentiment was strongly averse to 
mch occupancy. If the Mexicans wanted an imperial 
fernment, no one would interfere to prevent them, though 
might and would regret it, but this conduct of the 
3nch in imposing an Austrian prince upon our neighbors 
s very revolting. I hoped, however, we should not be 
npelled to take the military view of this question. 
Fhurlow Weed passed into the White House as I came 
3n the portico this morning. I had seen a person, with- 
: recognizing that it was Weed, hurrying forward, as if 
be in advance of me. Following him immediately, I saw 
o it was and was surprised to see him, instead of going 
ect to the stairs, turn square round the bulkhead and 
it until I had passed. 



334 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 15 

July 15, Saturday. Had some conversation with the 
President in regard to an application of F. W. Smith, for an 
indorsement made by the late President Lincoln on Smith's 
trial. It was an irregular proceeding on the part of Pre- 
sident L., procured by Sumner, and I have no doubt he 
regretted his action. The President (Johnson), after read- 
ing the indorsement, remarked it was very sweeping, and 
wished me to wait a few days. 

July 17, Monday. Last Tuesday, when on board the 
Pawnee with the President and Cabinet, Stanton took me 
aside and desired to know if the Navy could not spare a gun- 
boat to convey some prisoners to Tortugas. I told him a 
vessel could be detailed for that purpose if necessary, but I 
inquired why he did not send them by one of his own trans- 
ports. He then told me he wanted to send the persons con- 
nected with the assassination of President Lincoln to 
Tortugas, instead of a Northern prison, that he had men- 
tioned the subject to the President, and it was best to get 
them into a part of the country where old Nelson or any 
other judge would not try to make difficulty by habeas 
corpus. Said he would make further inquiries and see me, 
but wished strict secrecy. On Friday he said he should 
want a boat and I told him we had none here, but the 
Florida might be sent to Hampton Roads, and he could 
send his men and prisoners thither on one of the army 
boats in the Potomac. I accordingly sent orders for the 
Florida. Yesterday General Townsend called on me twice 
on the subject, and informed me in the evening that Gen- 
eral Hancock would leave in a boat at midnight to meet 
the Florida. I suggested that General H. had better wait; 
we had no information yet that the Florida had arrived, 
and she would be announced to us by telegraph as soon as 
she did arrive. To-day I learn the prisoners and a guard 
went down last night, and I accordingly sent orders by 
telegraph, by request of Secretary of War, to receive and 
convey the guard and prisoners to Tortugas. 



1865] DISCUSSION OF THE DAVIS TRIAL 335 

Seward sent to see me. Had dispatches from the Span- 
ish government that the Stonewall should be given up. Is 
to send me copies, but the yellow fever is prevalent in 
Havana and it would be well to leave the Stonewall there 
until fall. 

July 18, Tuesday. The President to-day in Cabinet, 
after current business was disposed of, brought forward the 
subject of Jefferson Davis' trial, on which he desired the 
views of the members. Mr. Seward thought there should 
be no haste. The large amount of papers of the Rebel gov- 
ernment had not yet been examined, and much that would 
have a bearing on this question might be expected to be 
found among them. Whenever Davis should be brought to 
trial, he was clear and decided that it should be before a 
military commission, for he had no confidence in proceed- 
ing before a civil court. He was very full of talk, and very 
positive that there should be delay until the Rebel papers 
were examined, and quite emphatic and decided that a 
military court should try Davis. Stanton did not dissent 
from this, and yet was not as explicit as Seward. He said 
he intended to give the examination of the Rebel papers to 
Dr. Lieber, : and with the force he could give him believed 
the examination could be completed in two weeks' time. 
Subsequently it was said Dr. L. had gone home and would 
return next week. 

McCulloch was not prepared to express an opinion but 
thought no harm would result from delay. 

I doubted the resort to a military commission and 
thought there should be an early trial. Whether, were he 
to be tried in Virginia, as it was said he might be, the coun- 
try was sufficiently composed and organized might be a 
question, but I was for a trial before a civil, not a military, 
tribunal, and for treason, not for the assassination. Both 
Seward and Stanton interrupted me and went into a dis- 
cussion of the assassination, and the impossibility of a con- 

1 Francis Lieber. 



336 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY is 

viction, Seward taking the lead. It was evident these two 
intended there should be no result at this time and the 
talk became discursive. Twice the President brought all 
back to the question, and did not conceal his anxiety 
that we should come to some determination. But we got 
none. 

While in Cabinet a dispatch from Admiral Radford was 
sent me, stating that the Treasury agent, Loomis, at Rich- 
mond, claimed the ship timber in the Navy Yard at that 
place. I handed the dispatch to McCulloch and asked what 
it meant. He professed not to know and I told him I would 
bring the matter up as soon as the subject under discussion 
was disposed of. He directly after came to me and said he 
must go, and should be satisfied with whatever conclusion 
we came to. Before he got away, the matter in hand was 
postponed, and I then called his attention to the dispatch. 
He said there was no necessity for discussing the matter, he 
was disposed to yield to whatever I claimed, which I told 
him was all ship timber and all naval property. 

I was satisfied that there was money in this proceed- 
ing. Governor Pierpont wrote me a week or two since that 
the railroad companies wanted this timber for railroad 
purposes, but I declined letting them have it. Hence 
these other proceedings, wholly regardless of the public 
interest. 

Later in the day I went to the Treasury Department and 
was assured that a telegram should be sent to the Treasury 
agent, to give up this timber to the Navy. 

Seward explained farther about the French-Mexican 
matter. He is evidently much annoyed by Blair's speech. 
Says Bigelow never made the remarks imputed to him, 
and those which he did make were unauthorized and de- 
nounced. 

July 19, Wednesday. Sent telegram to Admiral Radford 
and General Terry in regard to the ship timber at Rich- 
mond. Wrote to Ashbel Smith of Texas. 



1865] DISCUSSION OF THE DAVIS TRIAL 337 

July 20, Thursday. Mrs. Welles and John departed to- 
day for Narragansett, leaving me lonely and alone for two 
months. I submit because satisfied it is best, yet it is a 
heavy deprivation, quite a shadow on life's brief journey, 
the little that is left for me. 

On receiving a letter to-day from General Terry, saying 
the Treasury agent needed specific instructions from the 
Secretary of the Treasury, I called on Mr. McCulloch. He 
thought all could be put right without difficulty. The way 
to effect it was for me to send a requisition, or request the 
naval officer to make a requisition for the timber, and the 
agent would grant it. I told him that neither I nor any 
naval officer would make requisition; that the order in the 
President's proclamation was sufficient authority for me 
and for naval officers, though it might not do for the 
Treasury agents, who were presuming and self-sufficient. 
He thought I was more a stickler for forms than he had sup- 
posed ; said they had receipted for this timber to the War 
Department. I told him I knew not what business either 
they or the War Department had with it, but because they 
had committed irregularities, I would not, unless the 
President countermanded his own very proper order. He 
still declared they wanted something to show for this, after 
having receipted for it. I told him I would instruct an 
officer to make demand, and the demand would be his 
voucher if he needed one. He said very well, perhaps it 
would. I accordingly so sent. 

July 21, Friday. A very warm day. Thermometer 90 
and upward. Chief subject at the Cabinet was the offense 
and the disposition of J. Davis. The President, it was ev- 
ident, was for procuring a decision or having the views of 
the Cabinet. Seward thought the question might as well 
be disposed of now as at any time. He was satisfied there 
could be no conviction of such a man, for any offense, be- 
fore any civil tribunal, and was therefore for arraigning 
him for treason, murder, and other offenses before a mil- 

2 



338 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 21 

itary commission. Dennison, who sat next him, immedi- 
ately followed, and thought if the proof was clear and be- 
yond question that Davis was a party to the assassination, 
then he would have him by all means brought before a 
military tribunal, but unless the proof was clear, beyond a 
peradventure, he would have him tried for high treason 
before the highest civil court. When asked what other court 
there was than the circuit court, he said he did not wish 
him tried before the court of this District. And when 
further asked to be more explicit on the subject of the 
question of murder or assassination, he said he would trust 
that matter to Judge Holt and the War Department, and, 
he then added, the Attorney-General. McCulloch would 
prefer, if there is to be a trial, that it should be in the 
courts, but was decidedly against any trial at present, 
would postpone the whole subject. Stanton was for a trial 
by the courts for treason, the highest of crimes, and, by 
the Constitution, only the courts could try him for that 
offense. Otherwise he would say a military commission. 
For all other offenses he would arraign him before the mil- 
itary commission. Subsequently, after examining the Con- 
stitution, he retracted the remark that the Constitution 
made it imperative that the trial for treason should be in 
the civil courts, yet he did not withdraw the preference he 
had expressed. I was emphatically for the civil court and 
an arraignment for treason; for an early institution of pro- 
ceedings; and was willing the trial should take place in Vir- 
ginia. If our laws or system were defective, it was well to 
bring them to a test. I had no doubt he was guilty of trea- 
son and believed he would be convicted, wherever tried. 
Harlan would not try him before a civil court unless satis- 
fied there would be conviction. If there was a doubt, he 
wanted a military commission. He thought it would be 
much better to pardon Davis at once than to have him 
tried and not convicted. Such a result, he believed, would 
be most calamitous. He would, therefore, rather than run 
that risk prefer a military court. Speed was for a civil 



1865] DISCUSSION OF THE DAVIS TRIAL 339 

tribunal and for a trial for treason; but until the Rebellion 
was entirely suppressed he doubted if there could be a trial 
for treason. Davis is now a prisoner of war and was enti- 
tled to all the rights of belligerent, etc., etc. I inquired if 
Davis was not arrested and a reward offered for him and 
paid by our government as for other criminals. 

The question of counsel and the institution of proceed- 
ings was discussed. In order to get the sense of each of the 
members, the President thought it would be well to have 
the matter presented in a distinct form. Seward promptly 
proposed that Jefferson Davis should be tried for treason, 
assassination, murder, conspiring to burn cities, etc., by a 
military commission. The question was so put, Seward and 
Harlan voting for it, the others against, with the exception 
of myself. The President asked my opinion. I told him I did 
not like the form in which the question was put. I would 
have him tried for military offenses by a military court, but 
for civil offenses I wanted the civil courts. I thought he 
should be tried for treason, and it seemed to me that the 
question before us should first be the crime and then the 
court. The others assented and the question put was, 
Shall J. D. be tried for treason? There was a unanimous 
response in the affirmative. Then the question as to the 
court. Dennison moved a civil court. All but Seward and 
Harlan were in the affirmative; they were in the nega- 
tive. 

Stanton read a letter from Fortress Monroe, saying 
Davis' health had been failing for the last fortnight; that 
the execution of the assassins had visibly affected him. 
Davis remarked that President Johnson was " quick on the 
trigger." 

I this day took possession of the rooms in the new wing 
which had been prepared and furnished for the Secretary 
of the Navy. . > 

The solicitor, Mr. Bolles, arrived to-day and entered 
upon his duties so far as to take possession of his rooms. 
He was not anxious, I perceived, to enter upon his new 



340 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 21 

duties on Friday, although he did not assign that as the 
reason for delay. 

July 24, Monday. On Saturday evening I went with the 
President (whose health is suffering from excessive labor 
and care) and Preston King down the Potomac and took a 
sail yesterday hi the Bay, returning last evening to Wash- 
ington. Mr. Fox and Mr. Faxon accompanied us, also 
Wright Rives, the President's private secretary, also Dr. 
Duval. It was a small, pleasant, quiet party, intended to 
promote health and strength, especially to the President, 
who permits himself to be overtaxed. 
f The great iron ram Dunderberg was launched on Satur- 
day. The papers give details of the vessel from its incep- 
tion to the launch, but much of it warped. Among other 
things it is said the Navy Department entered upon the 
construction of this ship with great reluctance. It was 
after deliberate consideration. If it had been stated that I 
engaged in this work and made this contract with great 
caution and circumspection it would have been true. At 
the time this decision was made and the vessel commenced, 
a foreign war was feared. We had a large defensive force, 
but not as many and formidable vessels as we should need 
in the event of a war with a maritime power. 

We had contracted for the Dictator and the Puritan, tur- 
reted vessels, which, if completed, would break up any 
attempted blockade of our harbors or coasts, but we could 
not cruise with them. Admiral Smith urged that one of 
these vessels should be of iron, the other of wood. The 
Assistant Secretary, Mr. Fox, was urgent and persistent 
for the construction of four vessels. Mr. Lenthall was not 
partial to the turreted form of vessel. I decided in favor of 
two, and but two, and the Dictator and the Puritan were 
the results of that decision. I have since wished that one 
of these vessels was of wood, as Admiral Smith proposed, 
and I have rejoiced that I did not yield to the appeals for 
more. Probably those who urged the construction of more 
are glad also. 



1865] THE IRON RAM DUNDERBERG 341 

The Dunderberg was a different description of vessel. 
Mr. Webb had been importuned to build a large vessel for 
the government and was urged as the best man for such a 
contract in the country by numbers of the first men in 
New York and elsewhere. While glad to have the indorse- 
ment of such men, I by no means entered into a contract to 
oblige them or Mr. Webb, who, I have no doubt, procured 
the names by solicitation. In view of what was being done 
by England and France, and of the then condition of our 
affairs, I felt that we might need such a vessel. So feeling, 
I came to the conclusion that Mr. Webb was the best 
builder with whom I could contract, offered the best terms, 
and, under the circumstances, his plan, though excep- 
tionable, was perhaps the best, with some modifications. 
These he made, reserving the turrets, to which Mr. Lent- 
hall strongly objected, and which he predicted Mr. Webb 
would wish to abandon before the ship was completed. 
Events have verified his anticipations. These are some of 
the facts in regard to the Dunderberg. I take no special 
pride in the vessel, and could I have the money which she 
costs, I should prefer it to the vessel. Yet I feel assured I 
did right in ordering her to be built. We could not, in the 
crowded condition of the yards, attempt to build her in 
either of them. 

In the violent assaults of Winter Davis and others upon 
the Department, I was accused of not having a navy of 
formidable vessels. I had vessels for the purposes then 
wanted. Ships of a more expensive and formidable char- 
acter, like the Dunderberg, could not be built in a day. 
Now, when they are likely not to be wanted, and when 
they are drawing near completion, the same class of per- 
sons abuse me for what I have done towards the building 
up of a formidable navy. But one must not expect to 
escape the abuse and unjust attacks of demagogues. I cer- 
tainly ought not to complain, for the country has nobly 
stood by me through all the misrepresentation and detrac- 
tion of the malicious and ungenerous who have made it a 



342 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 24 

point to assail me. Conscious that I have tried to do my 
duty, I have borne with patience. 

I called on the President in relation to the Navy Agent 
in Washington, Brown, whose term expires on the 27th 
inst. Last winter, it was understood between Mr. Lincoln 
and myself that paymasters should hereafter perform the 
duty of Navy Agents, and thus save the expense of that 
class of officers. But about the 4th of March Vice-Presid- 
ent Hamlin made a special appeal in behalf of Brown, and 
in view of Hamlin's disappointments and retirement, the 
good Mr. Lincoln had not the stamina to refuse him, or to 
say to him that it conflicted with a policy which he had 
deliberately adopted. My relations with Hamlin were such 
that I could not very well argue this point, and the Pre- 
sident could modify or yield his own opinions. He under- 
stood my embarrassment and addressed me a note, stating 
his pledge inconsiderately made to Hamlin. I have sub- 
mitted this note and the circumstances to President John- 
son. He concurs with me, and is also somewhat embar- 
rassed from delicacy, in consequence of his attitude towards 
Hamlin, whom he superseded. I suggested that he might 
oblige Hamlin by giving some other place to Brown or to 
any one else whom H. should name. This met his approval, 
and he suggested that I should have a letter prepared to 
H. for him, the President, to sign. I proposed speaking to 
Brown himself, stating the general policy of appointing no 
Navy Agent, and that, by acquiescing, the President would 
feel disposed to consider him and Hamlin favorably. He 
liked this, and I accordingly stated the case to Brown soon 
after, who was a good deal flurried and not prepared to 
decide whether he would resign or let his appointment run 
out and another be appointed, but would inform me on 
Wednesday. 

While with the President, I remonstrated on his severe 
labors which are overtasking his system. The anterooms 
and halls above and below were at the time a good deal 
crowded. He said he knew not what to do with these peo- 



THE TREASURY AGENT SYSTEM 343 

that a large delegation from Maryland had just left 
, having called in relation to appointments in that State 
here. 

r e had some conversation in regard to the Baltimore 
ers and Maryland matters and differences which there 
bed. The combination against the Blairs is fed and 
tulated from MJaryland]. I expressed myself very de- 
dly for the Blairs, whom I had long known and who 
brue men. To which he fully responded and made the 
a,rk that they were true to their friends always, a 
ity ever to be commended. 

jily 25, Tuesday. McCulloch remarked that he had lost 
onfidence in Treasury agents, that the system was one 
emoralization. Of this there can be no doubt, and 
Q was mischief in the inception. Chase, with an over- 
lened Department and with more duties than he could 
large, coveted this business and fancied its patronage 
Id aid his popularity. 

ae Chief Justice is now, I see, at Hanover, N. H., mak- 
>arty speeches on negro suffrage and expressing opin- 
on questions that may come before him for adjudica- 



ily 26, Wednesday. Blair called on me in some trouble 
acting the Maryland appointments, which have been 
>ntly contested. From some intimation he appre- 

Is that his friend B , the marshal, is in danger, and 

touches him in a tender point. He therefore wished 
o have an interview with the President. I went almost 
ediately to the Executive Mansion. General Slocum 
with the President, but I waited till he was through, 
then stated the case. He told me it was his intention to 
f the Maryland appointments to-day and get them off 
ands, and asked if I really supposed Blair cared much 
.t the marshalship. I assured him he did and was sens- 
in regard to it. He reached over and took up a paper, 



344 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JULY 26 

which he examined closely. It convinced me that Blair's 
suspicions were right, and I spoke earnestly and zealously 
for the Blairs. We had a free conversation in regard to 
them, and as to the policy which should be pursued in 
Maryland. I did not hesitate to oppose the selection of 
opponents or doubtful friends, and to express my opinion 
that the friends were the reliable supporters of the Adminis- 
tration in that State. 

July 27, Thursday. Brown, the Navy Agent, did not call 
on me yesterday as he promised. I therefore sent a pay- 
master to take charge of the office and directed a transfer 
to be made at two o'clock. But the messenger returned 
about that hour with a letter from Brown, stating that a 
consultation had been had with the President, who would 
see me, but if no change of programme was ordered by 
5 P.M. he would immediately thereafter transfer. About 
three I received a note that the President wished to see 
me. He said Hamlin had been to see him and was very vehe- 
ment, from some cause, in behalf of Brown. I stated what 
had been done; that I felt a little delicate in consequence of 
my relations with H., so had President Lincoln and him- 
self also. I informed him I had a frank conversation with 
Brown, who said he wanted time to consider, but had obvi- 
ously telegraphed to Hamlin. The President said he could 
not understand why H. should take such extraordinary in- 
terest in this case. He then got me the statutes and 
showed me a law on which Hamlin dwelt with some empha- 
sis. We read it over together. I told the President the law 
offered no serious obstacle to me. He said he took the same 
view and would not deviate from his convictions. But 
Hamlin was vehement, and he wished to treat him with 
courtesy, and give him time to fully examine the case. 

The paymaster (Fulton), who called to have the transfer 
made, said Brown told him he should not be prepared to 
transfer at two. F. then said he would wait, when a man 
whom he did not know, but who sat smoking a cigar, said it 



1865] HAMLIN AND THE NAVY AGENCY 345 

would be of no use, F. could wait or not. This man was 
Hamlin. Fulton replied that his business was with the Navy 
Agent and not with him (Hamlin.) The latter soon re- 
marked he would go over and see Harlan, Secretary of the 
Interior. 

Postmaster-General Dennison took a walk with me this 
evening. Returning, we had a cup of tea together. A 
shower came on, which detained him through the evening, 
and among a variety of topics we got on this of Hamlin 
and the Navy Agent. He thought the proceeding most 
extraordinary, and was especially surprised at the conduct 
of Hamlin. This led to some exposure of Hamlin's conduct 
which I have made to no others. 

July 28, Friday. Immediately after reaching the De- 
partment this morning I was told there was a suspension of 
action in the case of the Navy Agency. Soon after, Mr. 
Brown called. I told him he had not kept his promise of 
seeing me on Wednesday. He was, as Jack Downing says, 
"a little stumped" but said he supposed it was of no use. 
He then informed me that the President had been seen the 
night before, and had referred the case of the Navy Agency 
to the Attorney-General and the Solicitor of the Depart- 
ment for their written opinion on a legal point. 

Mr. Bolles, the Solicitor, came in soon after Brown left, 
and said he had been with the President and Hamlin the 
previous evening, and that the President would in writing 
call for the written opinion of himself and Ashton, Acting 
Attorney-General. In a little time B. and A. came in. 
Ashton did not at first rightly comprehend the case, but 
soon reached it, and a brief but clear opinion was soon 
given and transmitted to the President. It will, I think, be 
conclusive, and dispense with the farther services of Ex- 
Vice-President Hamlin for the present. Perhaps I judge 
him severely, but he seems to me a violent and unscrupu- 
lous man, avaricious and reckless. Mr. Bridge, Chief of 
Provisions and Clothing, says he has no doubt Hamlin is a 



348 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [ATJG. i 

Rebels appear to be arrogant and offensively dictatorial. 
Perhaps there is exaggeration in this respect. 

The military, it seems, have interfered and nullified the 
municipal election in Richmond, with the exception of a 
single officer. Why he alone should be retained, I do not 
understand. Nor am I informed, though I have little 
doubt, who directed and prompted this military squelching 
of a popular election. It was not a subject on which the 
Cabinet was informed. Such a step should not have been 
taken without deliberation, under good advisement, and 
with good reasons. There may have been such, for the 
Rebels have been foolish and insolent, and there was want- 
ing a smart and stern rebuke rightly administered. If not 
right, the wicked may be benefited and their malpractices 
strengthened by the interference. 

From various quarters we learn that the Rebels are 
organizing through the Southern States with a view to re- 
gaining political ascendency, and are pressing forward pro- 
minent Rebels for candidates in the approaching election. 
Graham in North Carolina, Etheridge in Tennessee, are 
types. 

Seward and Speed are absent at Cape May. Dennison 
tells me that Stanton on Friday stated we had a military 
force of 42,000 on the Rio Grande. I'f so, this on the part of 
the military means war, and we are in no condition for war. 
I have not been entirely satisfied with Seward's manage- 
ment of the Mexican question. Our remonstrance or pro- 
test against French influence and dictation has been feeble 
and inefficient, but Stanton and Grant are, on the other 
hand, too belligerent. 

August 2. General Butler called on me to-day. Came 
direct from the Executive Mansion. Says the President is 
no better. He could not see him. Is confined to his room, 
indeed he every day confines himself to the house and 
room. General B. was very much inclined to talk on public 
affairs, and evidently intends taking an active part in the 



1865] BUTLER'S RECONSTRUCTIVE VIEWS 349 

rising questions. Much of our conversation related to Jeff 
Davis and General Lee, both of whom he would have tried, 
convicted, and executed. Mild and lenient measures, he 
is convinced, will have no good effect on the Rebels. 
Severity is necessary. 

Cameron called on me with his friend for the twentieth 
time at least, in relation to two appointments in the Phila- 
delphia Navy Yard. He does not conceal from me, nor 
probably from any one, that he intends to be a candidate 
for the Senate. Hence his vigilance in regard to certain 
appointments, and he has prevailed in the Treasury and in 
the Post Office, against the combined efforts of all the 
Members of Congress. In sustaining, as he does, the policy 
of the President he shows sagacity. Kelley and the Mem- 
bers, but especially K., have shot wild on negro suffrage. 
There is a strong pressure towards centralism at this time. 
Many sensible men seem to be wholly oblivious to constitu- 
tional barriers and restraints, and would have the Federal 
government assume authority to carry out their theories. 
General Butler, to-day, speaks of the Rebel States as dead. 
I suggested that it was a more correct theory to consider 
them as still States in and of the Union, but whose proper 
constitution functions had been suspended by a con- 
spiracy and rebellion. He said that was pretty much his 
view. 

Chief Engineer Stimers sends in his resignation. I had 
given him orders to the Powhatan, and he does not wish to 
go to sea. 

Unfortunately Stimers has got into difficulty with 
Lenthall and Isherwood; others, perhaps, are in fault. 
Stimers rendered good service in the first Monitor, and 
afterwards at Charleston, for which I felt under obliga- 
tions to him, and did not hesitate to express it. Subse- 
quently, when preparing to build the light-draft monitors, 
he and the Assistant Secretary took the subject in hand. 
Stimers became intoxicated with his own importance. 
While I supposed the Naval Constructor and Chief Eng- 



362 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 16 

be correction, the truth will come out, but to some extent 
the slander will long remain to taint the minds of many. 

August 17, Thursday. Alden came to-day. Said he was 
sent for by Porter in relation to the place made vacant by 
Drayton's death. In many respects I like Alden, who is, 
however, a sycophant and courtier, but the very steps 
taken by Porter must, for the present, exclude him. Porter 
is Superintendent of the Naval Academy and reports to the 
Navigation Bureau made vacant by Drayton's death. It 
will not do to have the Chief of that Bureau subordinate to 
Porter or an instrument in his hands. I apprehend that 
such would be the case were Alden selected. He is particu- 
larly intimate with Porter and would defer greatly to him, 
be, in fact, a mere instrument to him. I shall, I think, 
take Jenkins for this place, though he is really, from his in- 
dustry, better adapted to and must ultimately have another 
Bureau, either Yards and Docks or Equipment and 
Recruiting. 

August 18, Friday. Senators Doolittle and Foster and 
Mr. Ford, who have been on a mission to the Plains, visit- 
ing New Mexico, Colorado, etc., had an interview with 
the President and Cabinet of an hour and a half. Their 
statement in relation to the Indians and Indian affairs ex- 
hibits the folly and wickedness of the expedition which has 
been gotten up by somebody without authority or the 
knowledge of the government. 

Their strong protestations against an Indian war, and 
their statement of the means which they had taken to pre- 
vent it came in very opportunely. Stanton said General 
Grant had already written to restrict operations; he had 
also sent to General Meigs. I have no doubt a check has 
been put on a very extraordinary and unaccountable pro- 
ceeding, but I doubt if an entire stop is yet put to war ex- 
penses. 

Stanton is still full of apprehension and stories of plots 



he evidently wishes the President to be alarmed. He had 
quite a story to-day, and read quite a long affidavit from 
some one whom I do not recall, stating he had been in com- 
munication with C. C. Clay and others in Canada, that 
they wanted him to be one of a party to assassinate Pre- 
sident Lincoln and his whole Cabinet. Dennison and 
McCulloch and I thought the President seemed inclined to 
give this rigmarole some credence. I think the story, though 
plausibly got up, was chiefly humbug. Likely Stanton be- 
lieves me stupid because I give so little heed to his sensa- 
tional communications; but really a large portion of them 
seem to me ludicrous and puerile. He still keeps up a guard 
around his house, and never ventures out without a stout 
man to accompany him who is ordinarily about ten feet be- 
hind him. This body-guard is, I have no doubt, paid for 
by the public. He urged a similar guard for me and others. 

August 19, Saturday. I have a letter from Eames, who is 
at Long Branch, ill, and has been there for three weeks. He 
informs me that Senator Sumner wrote Mrs. E., with 
whom he corresponds, wishing that she and her husband 
would influence me to induce the President to change his 
policy. This letter Eames found on his arrival at Long 
Branch, and wrote Sumner he could not change me. 

Sumner bewails the unanimity of the Cabinet; says 
there is unexampled unanimity in New England against 
the policy of the Administration; thinks I ought to resign; 
says Wade and Fessenden are intending to make vigorous 
opposition against it, etc., etc. 

The proceedings of the political conventions in Maine 
and Pennsylvania leave no doubt in my mind that exten- 
sive operations are on foot for an organization hostile to 
the Administration in the Republican or Union party. 
The proceedings alluded to indicate the shape and charac- 
ter of this movement. It is the old radical anti-Lincoln 
movement of Wade and Winter Davis, with recruits. 



364 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 19 

That Stanton has a full understanding with these men 
styling themselves Radicals, I have no doubt. It is under- 
stood that the Cabinet unanimously support the policy of 
the President. No opposition has manifested itself that I 
am aware. At the beginning, Stanton declared himself in 
favor of negro suffrage, or rather in favor of allowing, by 
Federal authority, the negroes to vote in reorganizing the 
Rebel States. This was a reversal of his opinion of 1863 
under Mr. Lincoln. I have no recollection of any disavowal 
of the position he took last spring, although he has acqui- 
esced in the President's policy apparently, has cer- 
tainly submitted to it without objection or remonstrance. 
The Radicals in the Pennsylvanian convention have 
passed a special resolution indorsing Mr. Stanton by name, 
but no other member of the Cabinet. Were there no under- 
standing on a point made so prominent by the Radicals, 
such a resolution would scarcely have been adopted or 
drafted. Convention resolutions, especially in Pennsyl- 
vania, I count of little importance. A few intriguing man- 
agers usually prepare them, they are passed under the 
strain of party excitement, and the very men who voted 
for them will very likely go against them in two weeks. 
At this time, however, unusual activity has been made by 
Forney, Kelley, and others, and the resolution has particu- 
lar significance. 

August 21, Monday. I took a ride yesterday with Gov- 
ernor Dennison to Silver Spring and had a pleasant inter- 
view of a couple of hours with the elder Blair. He has great 
political sagacity, tact, and ability and watches with keen 
eyes the movements of men and parties. I find his views 
in most respects correspond with my own as to demon- 
strations now being made by ultra-partisans . He attributes 
much to Stanton, and suggested that General Grant ought 
to be made Secretary of War. Therein I differed from him. 

General Rousseau called on me to-day in behalf of Com- 
mander Pendergrast, who has been suspended by court 



1865] THE JEFFERSON DAVIS CASE 365 

martial for two years. The sentence I have thought severe 
and intended to mitigate it. Admiral Porter, as well as 
General R,., thinks P. has been sufficiently punished; says 
Fox has been a little vindictive in the matter. This I am 
unwilling to believe, although Fox has remonstrated on 
two occasions, when I have had the case under considera- 
tion. Pendergrast says that most of the court which tried 
him were retired officers, placed on the retired list by the 
board of which his uncle, the late Commodore P., was 
a member, and that they as well as others have supposed 
that he was a son instead of nephew of the Commodore, 
and he is apprehensive there was a prejudice against him 
on that account. 

August 22, Tuesday. Seward presented some matters of 
interest in relation to the Spanish- American States. Spain 
is getting in difficulty with Chili and also Peru, and Seward 
writes to Mr. Perry, Secretary of Legation (J. P. Hale is 
Minister), suggesting arbitration, etc. 

Stanton submitted some reports in regard to the health 
of Jeff Davis, who has erysipelas and a carbuncle. Attor- 
ney-General Speed says he is waiting to hear from associate 
counsel in the case. These associates, he says, are Evarts of 
New York and Clifford of Massachusetts, both learned and 
able counsel before the court, but not as distinguished for 
success with a jury. The President, I saw by his manner 
and by an inquiry which he put, had not been consulted or 
was not aware that these gentlemen had been selected. So 
with other members of the Cabinet, except Stanton and 
Seward. These two gentlemen had evidently been advised 
with by the Attorney-General, no doubt directed him. 

I would have suggested that General Butler should be 
associated in this trial, not that I give him unreserved con- 
fidence as a politician or statesman, but he possesses great 
ability, courage, strength, I may add audacity, as a lawyer, 
and he belongs to a school which at this time and in such a 
trial should have a voice. Our friends should not permit 



366 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 22 

personal feelings to control them in so important a matter 
as selecting counsel to try such a criminal. 

The President said he had invited an interview with 
Chief Justice Chase as a matter of courtesy, not knowing 
but he might have some suggestion to make as to time, 
place of trial, etc.; but the learned judge declined to hold 
conference on the subject, though not to advise on other 
grave and important questions when there was to be judi- 
cial action. I see the President detests the traits of the 
Judge. Cowardly and aspiring, shirking and presumptu- 
ous, forward and evasive; ... an ambitious politician; 
possessed of mental resources yet afraid to use them, irre- 
solute as well as ambitious; intriguing, selfish, cold, grasp- 
ing, and unreliable when he fancies his personal advance- 
ment is concerned. 

August 23, Wednesday. A very perceptible change of 
weather since yesterday. Had a call from Rev. Mr. Boyn- 
ton, who proposes to write a history of the Navy during 
the great Rebellion. Had half an hour's conversation. 
Made various suggestions. 

General (Commander) Carter, 1 a naval officer to whom I 
gave leave in the summer of 1861 to enter the army, called 
and proposes to relinquish the army appointment and re- 
turn to his old profession. 

[August 25.] A number of days have passed since I 
opened this book. On Friday, 25th, we had a pleasant Cab- 
inet-meeting. Speed read an elaborate opinion on the au- 
thority of judges in the State of Mississippi. The President 
dissented wholly from some of his positions. Provisional 
Governor Sharkey wanted the judges appointed by him 
should have authority to enforce the habeas corpus. Speed 
thought they were not legally empowered to exercise judi- 
cial functions. The President thought they were. Read 
from his proclamation establishing a provisional govern- 
1 Samuel Powhatan Carter. 



1865] REPUBLICAN REVERSES IN MEXICO 367 

ment in Mississippi and said he had drawn that part of 
the proclamation himself and with special reference to 
this very question. I inquired whether the habeas corpus 
privilege was not suspended in that State so that no judge 
whatever could issue the writ. 

A telegram from General Carleton in New Mexico gives 
a melancholy account of affairs in Mexico. The republican 
government has met with reverses, and the President, 
Juarez, is on our borders, fleeing to our country for pro- 
tection. Seward is in trouble; all of us are, in fact. Many 
of the army officers are chafing to make war on the impe- 
rial government and drive the French from that country. 
They are regardless of the exhausted state of our affairs. 

[August 26.] Called with Postmaster-General Dennison 
on the President on Saturday evening and spent a couple 
of hours with him conversing on the condition of the times, 
and matters relating to the war. The President is animated 
and warms up to enthusiasm when dwelling on the occur- 
rences in Tennessee, and especially the services of General 
Thomas, whom he loves not less than Grant, to whom he 
is quite friendly. His description of the fight of Nashville 
is graphic and highly interesting. 

[August 27.] On Sunday, the 27th, I took the President 
in my carriage, with Postmaster-General Dennison, for a 
ride of a couple of hours or more. Went out 14th Street, 
crossed Rock Creek at Pease's Mill, thence to Tenally- 
town, and returned via Georgetown. It was a pleasant 
afternoon and we all enjoyed the drive. I think it will do 
the President good. 



August 29, Tuesday. At the meeting to-day Speed said 
he had associated with him in the case of Jeff Davis, Evarts 
of New York, Clifford of Massachusetts, and [no name 
given] of Kentucky. It was suggested that General Butler 
would be of use, perhaps. But the question arose whether 
he would be acceptable to the associate counsel. Speed 



368 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG. 29 

said he would write to him if it were wished, and he would 
consult with the others. All admitted that such a man 
would be well in most respects, had quickness, aptness, 
will, vigor, force, etc., etc., but yet might be an unpleas- 
ant associate, and there is danger that he would think more 
of Benjamin F. Butler than the case in hand. 

Speed says no court can be held until November in Vir- 
ginia, North Carolina, or Tennessee. At that late day, the 
session of the Supreme Court will be so near that it will be 
difficult to have such a protracted trial. 

The President sent for the Chief Justice a few days since 
with a view to confer with him as to the place, time, etc., of 
holding the court, but Chase put himself on his judicial re- 
serve. Of course the President did not press the subject. 
Yesterday, Chase called voluntarily on the President and 
had some general conversation and was in the President's 
opinion not disinclined to talk on the very subject which he 
the other day declined, but he little understands the char- 
acter of President Johnson if he supposes that gentleman 
will ever again introduce that subject to him. 

Judge Chase talked more especially of the inconvenient 
court arrangements at Norfolk, to which place the courts 
had been ordered by act of Congress instead of Richmond. 
I inquired if the Chief Justice could not order a special 
session of the court at an earlier day than the fourth 
Tuesday of November. Speed said he undoubtedly could 
if so disposed. I suggested that the inquiry had best be 
made. The President earnestly approved the suggestion. 
Thought it would be well to ascertain the views of the sev- 
eral Departments of the government, and know whether 
they were harmonious. If Judge Chase was disposed, the 
trial might come off in October, ample accommodation 
would be provided in Norfolk; but unless the Chief Justice 
would order a special session, there must be delay. I have 
seen no indications of a desire on the part of the Chief 
Justice to preside at the trial of Davis. 



1865] THE RADICALS AND RACE EQUALITY 369 

August 30, Wednesday. At my special request the Pre- 
sident made an order restoring General Hawley to duty, who 
had been mustered out of service. Had some conversation 
with General Hawley, who was an original and earnest 
Abolitionist, on political subjects. I perceive that the 
negro is pretty strong on his brain. Advised him to keep 
within constitutional limitations and not permit humani- 
tarian impulses to silence reason or break our govern- 
mental restraints. Suggested that he should also caution 
Warner not to commit his paper too strongly and incon- 
siderately to Radical impulses. 

There is an apparent determination among those who are 
ingrained Abolitionists to compel- the government to im- 
pose conditions on the Rebel States that are wholly un- 
warranted. Prominent men are striving to establish a 
party on the basis of equality of races in the Rebel States, 
for which the people are not prepared, perhaps they 
never will be, for these very leaders do not believe in social 
equality, nor will they practice it. Mr. Sumner, who is an 
unmarried man, has striven to overcome what seems a 
natural repugnance. A negro lawyer has been presented 
by him to practice in the Supreme Court, and extra demon- 
strations of that kind have been made by him and Chief 
Justice Chase. Sumner, I think, has become a devotee in 
this matter; it is his specialty, and, not being a Constitu- 
tionalist in politics, he is sincere, I have no doubt, in his 
schemes. I cannot say quite as much in favor of the Chief 
Justice. His work is connected more closely with political 
party aspirations. Sumner is not divested of them. General 
Hawley is of that school. Wants to do for the negro. His 
old associates are on that idea. Many of them most of 
them would assume, and have the government assume, 
arbitrary power, regardless of the Constitution, to carry 
into effect their opinions and wishes. General H. is too 
intelligent for this, yet it is evident he would strain a point 
for the negro. 

Judge Blair has been making a speech at Clarksville in 

2 



370 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [AUG.SO 

Maryland which appears to Hie to be in some respects in- 
judicious just at this time. Yet it is a demonstration de- 
liberately made and for a purpose. He anticipates a new 
formation of parties and is preparing for it in advance, all 
of which may be well, provided he does not go too fast and 
too far. I think his speech is too intensely personal to be 
effective. This is not the time to make assaults on Seward, 
perhaps not on Stanton, unless confident not only that he 
is right but that he will be sustained. He will not be sup- 
ported by the press of either party. I am not certain that 
he wishes to be at present; but whether, if he loses the gen- 
eral confidence, he can regain it when he exhibits so much 
acrimony, is doubtful. 

I think better of Blair than most persons will on reading 
his speech. He is not a malignant or revengeful man; is 
generous, frank, truthful, honest; scorns a mean thing, 
detests duplicity, and abhors a liar. He has good political 
and general intelligence, understands men generally very 
well, but I think is sometimes imposed upon. In his friend- 
ships and hates he occupies no middle ground, and some- 
times, I think, judges, severely and harshly. I see no rea- 
son for the onslaught on Seward at this time. 

Holt is also assailed, as if Seward and Stanton were not 
enough. It is painful to have a man like Holt denounced. 
He is a stern, stubborn, relentless man, has his faults, 
but I believe is a patriot and a statesman of ability. I have 
esteemed him to be the ablest man in Buchanan's cabinet, 
and beyond any other one the principal mind to sustain the 
national integrity in that combination during the winter 
preceding the advent of President Lincoln, and I regretted 
that he was not preferred to Stanton as the successor of 
Cameron if one of that cabinet were taken. Why Blair 
should attack Holt, I do not understand, unless because of 
his identification with Stanton, which is certainly not to 
his credit. Blair brings out a singular and unfortunate let- 
ter of Holt's to some one in Pittsburg, which had escaped 



1865] BLAIR'S ATTACK ON HOLT 371 

days. But the changes and vicissitudes which have oc- 
curred during the last few eventful years have taught me 
to have forbearance for men's utterances and actions. My 
own language was sometimes mild and gentle when it should 
have been strong to resist the coming storm which I vainly 
hoped might be averted; at other times it was rash and 
almost violent when mildness and conciliation were neces- 
sary. Human foresight is short and insufficient, and in- 
dulgence is due to men in positions of responsibility who were 
compelled to act, and who in view of the calamities that 
overhung the country strove to extricate the government 
and country. 



XXXIII 

The Negro Suffrage Question in Connecticut Circular against Political 
Assessments in the Navy Yards Conversation with Dennison, 
Stanton, and Harlan in regard to such Assessments Banks nominated 
for Congress Opinion of General Thomas Wendell Phillips's Use- 
lessness Seward's Speech at Auburn, N. Y. His Compliments for 
the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy Suicide of 
Preston King His Character and Career Conversation with the 
President on the Subject of the Congressional Caucus in regard to the 
Admission of Representatives from the Southern States Fogg 
recalled from Switzerland His Intimate Knowledge of the Construc- 
tion of the Lincoln Cabinet He tells the Story in Detail The 
President's Message Conversation with Sumner on the President's 
Reconstruction Policy Movement for the Impeachment of the Pre- 
sident Grant's Report on his Southern Journey Another Talk with 
Sumner The Case of Pasco, Master Plumber at the Philadelphia 
Navy Yard Rumor of Stanton's Proposed Resignation Arrest of 
Captain Semmes ordered Senator Morgan on Sumner and the Pre- 
sident's Policy Seward's Projected Cruise Conversation with 
Senator Dixon. 

September 28. I have been absent during most of the 
month of September in my native State and among the 
scenes of my childhood and youth. Change is there. Of the 
companions who fifty years ago it was my pleasure to love, 
and who I truly believe loved me, few, only few, remain, 
while of those who were in middle life or more advanced 
age, men who encouraged and stood by me, who volun- 
tarily elected me to the Legislature when I was but twenty- 
four, scarcely one remains. Their children and grandchild- 
ren to some extent occupy their places, but a different 
class of persons have come into the old town and much 
altered its character. 

Little of importance has transpired during the month. 
The rebellious States are reorganizing their governments 
and institutions, submitting to results they could not 
arrest or avert. In the Free States, political conventions 
have been held and movements made to revivify old par- 



hibition of intense hate towards the Rebels which bodes 
mischief has manifested itself. 

In New York an extraordinary step, a coup d'etat, was 
taken by the Democratic organization, which indorsed 
President Johnson and nominated Union men to some of 
the most important places on the ticket. A counter move 
was made by the Union party, which nominated an entire 
new ticket, and passed resolutions not remarkable in any 
respect. 

The Massachusetts Republican convention did not like 
to take ground antagonistic to the Administration, al- 
though the leaders, particularly Sumner and his friends, 
cannot suppress their hostile feelings. Their resolutions, 
adopted at Worcester, are very labored, and abound more 
in words than distinct ideas, reminding one of the old 
woman who wished to scream but dared not. 

In Connecticut the question of amending the State Con- 
stitution so as to erase the word "white" is pending. 
Some feeling among the old Abolitionists and leading 
politicians was exhibited, and they may, and probably 
will, work up some feeling in its favor; but generally the 
people are indifferent or opposed to it. But for the na- 
tional questions before the country, the amendment would 
be defeated; the probabilities appeared to me in its favor. 
I avoided interfering in the question or expressing an opin- 
ion on the subject, but the partisans are determined to 
draw me out. It is asserted in the Times that I am op- 
posed to negro suffrage. Two of the editors deny this and 
have so written me. I replied in a hasty note that no one 
was authorized to say I had expressed opposition to it. 
Since then I have had a telegram from the editor of the 
Press, Warner, asking if I am in favor of negro suffrage. 
Disliking to be catechized in this way and not disposed to 
give a categorical answer, I replied that I was in favor of 
intelligence, not of color for qualification for suffrage. The 
truth is I have little or no feeling on the subject, and as we 



374 DIARY OF GIDEOJN WUJJLLUS [SEPT. 28 

require that the electors shall read, and have few negroes 
in Connecticut, I acquiesce in, rather than advocate, the 
amendment. I would not enslave the negro, but his en- 
franchisement is another question, and until he is better 
informed, it is not desirable that he should vote. The great 
zeal of Sumner and the Abolitionists in behalf of the negro 
voting has no responsive sympathy with me. It is a species 
of fanaticism, zeal without discretion. Whenever the time 
arrives that he should vote, the negro will probably be per- 
mitted. I am no advocate for social equality, nor do I labor 
for political or civil equality with the negro. I do not want 
him at my table, nor do I care to have him in the jury-box, 
or in the legislative hall, or on the bench. The negro does 
not vote in Connecticut, nor is he taxed. There are but a 
few hundreds of them. Of these perhaps not half can read 
and consequently cannot vote, while, if the restriction is 
removed, all will be taxed. 

Judge Blair came to see me the day after I came back. 
He is preparing a reply to Judge Holt. During my absence 
the papers have published a statement made by Mr. Fox 
in relation to the Sumter expedition, which was sent to the 
Senate as an appendix to my reply to a call of the Senate, 
but that body declined to receive FVs statement. It comes 
in now, aptly, with Blair's speech, and will doubtless be 
considered a part of the scheme. General Meigs hastened 
too fast to reply in order to assure Mr. Seward. 

There are serious mistakes or blunders in Meigs's letter, 
which, however, will doubtless be corrected. Blair wished 
to get the armistice signed by Holt, Toucey, and Mallory, 
and asked if I remembered it. I told him I did, and that 
we had it on our files. But on sending for the volume I 
find it is only a copy. Yet my convictions were as positive 
as Blair's that the original was in the Navy Department. 
I thought I remembered the paper distinctly, its color 
and general appearance, but the copy does not corre- 
spond with my recollection, yet I cannot doubt it is the 
paper which I saw. From this difference I am admonished 
of the uncertainty and fallibility of human testimony. 



1865] NEGRO SUFFRAGE IN CONNECTICUT 375 

October. Some slight indisposition and pressing duties 
have postponed my daily remarks. The President had ex- 
pressed to me his intention to go to Richmond and Raleigh 
on the 3d inst., and invited me to accompany him, but I 
doubted if he would carry the design out, and he said on 
the 3d he must postpone it for the present, which I think 
will be for the season. 

A vote was taken in Connecticut on Monday, the 2d, on 
the proposed Constitutional Amendment to erase the word 
"white" and permit the colored persons to vote. I was not 
surprised that the proposition was defeated by a very de- 
cided majority, yet I had expected that the question might 
be carried on the strong appeal to party. But there is 
among the people a repugnance to the negro, and a posi- 
tive disinclination to lower the standard of suffrage. They 
will not receive the negro into their parlors on terras of so- 
cial intimacy, and they are unwilling to put him in the 
jury-box or any political position. There are probably not 
five hundred colored persons who could be made electors, 
and the grievance is therefore not very great. 

The defeat of the Constitutional Amendment has caused 
a great howl to be set up by certain extremists, in the State 
and out of it. While I might have voted affirmatively had 
I been in the State, I have no wailing over the negative 
results. I regret to witness the abuse of the Press and other 
papers on those whom it failed to convince, and who con- 
sequently voted according to their convictions. This abuse 
and denunciation will tend to alienate friends, and weaken 
the influence of the Union leaders in future elections. 

The effect of the vote elsewhere will be to impair cen- 
tralization, which has been setting in strong of late, and 
invigorate State action, and in this respect the result will 
be beneficent. I apprehend our extreme negro advocates 
are doing serious injury to the negro in their zeal in his be- 
half, and they are certainly doing harm to our system by 
insisting on the exercise of arbitrary and unauthorized 
power in aid of the negro. 



376 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 

Some of the workmen in the Philadelphia Navy Yard 
complained that an assessment had been levied upon them 
for party purposes. I had written a pretty decisive letter 
correcting the evil when I went to the Cabinet-meeting on 
Tuesday, and had given it out to be copied. After the gen- 
eral business before the Cabinet had been disposed of, the 
President took me aside and said complaints of a similar 
character had been made to him. I told him my own con- 
clusion and what I had done, which he approved. The op- 
portunity is most favorable to correct a pernicious prac- 
tice, which I last year would not sanction, and which led 
Raymond, Thurlow Weed, and others to try to prejudice 
President Lincoln against me. 

On Wednesday Amos Kendall called and wished me to 
go with him to the President. He alluded to old friendly 
political associations and relations between us. I was glad 
of the opportunity of taking him to the President, whom I 
was about to call upon with my letter to the Commandant 
of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, respecting the improper 
assessment of workmen. After a brief interview Mr. 
Kendall left, and I read my letter concerning the assess- 
ment of workmen, which the President complimented and 
desired it should go to other yards and be made public. 

[The letter follows.] 

NAVY DEPARTMENT, 

g IR . 3 October, 1865. 

The attention of the Department has been called to an at- 
tempt recently made in Philadelphia to assess or tax for party 
purposes the workmen in the Navy Yard. It is claimed by those 
who have participated in these proceedings, that the practice has 
prevailed in former years, at that and other Navy Yards, of 
levying contributions of this character on mechanics and laborers 
employed by the Government. 

Such an abuse cannot be permitted; and it is the object of this 
communication to prohibit it, wherever it may be practiced. 

From inquiries instituted by the Department, on the com- 
plaint of sundry workmen, who represented that a committee 
had undertaken, through the agency of the masters, to collect 



1865] POLITICAL ASSESSMENTS 377 

equal to one day's labor, for party purposes it has been ascer- 
tained that there had been received from the workmen before 
these proceedings were arrested, the sum of $1052. 

This and all other attempts to exact money from laborers in 
the public service, either by compulsion or voluntary contribu- 
tion, is, in every point of view, reprehensible, and is wholly and 
absolutely prohibited. Whatever money may have been exacted, 
and is now in the hands of the Masters, will be forthwith re- 
turned to the workmen from whom it was received; and any 
Master or other appointee of this Department who may be 
guilty of a repetition of this offense, or shall hereafter participate 
in levying contributions in the Navy Yards, from persons in the 
Government service, for party purposes, will incur the displeasure 
of the Department, and render himself liable to removal. The 
organization of the Yard must not be perverted to aid any party. 
Persons who desire to make voluntary party contributions, can 
find opportunities to do so, at ward or other local political meet- 
ings, and on other occasions than during working hours. They 
are neither to be assisted nor opposed, in this matter, by govern- 
ment officials. The Navy Yards must not be prostituted to any 
such purpose, nor will Committee men be permitted to resort 
thither, to make collections for any political party whatever. 
Working men, and others in the service of the Government, are 
expected and required to devote their time and energies during 
working hours, and while in the Yard, to the labor which they are 
employed to execute. 

It has been also represented that some of the Masters at some 
of the Navy Yards employ extra hands preceding warmly con- 
tested elections, and that much of the time of these superfluous 
hands is devoted to party electioneering. Such an abuse, if it 
exists in any department of any of the Navy Yards, must be cor- 
rected. No more persons should be retained in the Navy Yards 
than the public service actually requires. Party gatherings and 
party discussions are at all times to be avoided within the Yards. 
It will be the duty of the Commandants of the respective Yards, 
and of all officers, to see that this order is observed. 

Very respectfully, 

COMMO. CHAS. H. BELL, G - WELLES, 

Commdt. Navy Yard, Secty. of the Navy. 

New York. 

(Also written to all the other Commandants of Navy Yards.) 



380 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 10 

brary, he took occasion to express his satisfaction with my 
circulars and his thorough conviction of their rectitude. 
He was exceedingly pleased with the manner of their recep- 
tion by the public. Said Preston King, when last there, had 
advised that we should pursue a straightforward course 
and leave consequences to themselves. 

Leaving the President, I went on to the library. Stan- 
ton and Dennison were there, and, I think, Ashton and 
W. E. Chandler. Harlan soon came in. Dennison almost 
immediately addressed me on the subject of my circular 
respecting assessments. He said it was likely to have an 
effect on other Departments. He had received this morn- 
ing a petition from the clerks in the New York post-office 
inclosing my circular, and asking to be relieved of a five 
per cent assessment which had been levied upon them for 
party purposes. I remarked that they were proper sub- 
jects to be exempt from such a tax in times like these, that 
I disliked and was decidedly opposed to this whole princi- 
ple of assessment of employe's of the government for party 
objects, if not broken up it would demoralize the gov- 
ernment and country. 

Stanton said if I had issued such a circular one year ago, 
we should have lost the election. I questioned the correct- 
ness of that assertion, and told him that I took the same 
ground then that I did now, although I issued no circular. 
He said he was aware I objected to assessments in the 
yards, but had understood that I finally backed down and 
consented. I assured him he was greatly mistaken; that 
Raymond had annoyed President Lincoln with his de- 
mands, and that I had been importuned to permit the tax to 
be levied but that I had never consented or changed my 
views, or actions, or been ever requested to do so by Pre- 
sident Lincoln. 

Dennison said that Mr. Harlan' s committee he, 
Harlan, being chairman had made an assessment on all 
office-holders and he thought it was right. Stanton earn- 
estly affirmed its rightfulness, and said the Democrats 



1865] BANKS NOMINATED FOR CONGRESS 381 

raised two dollars for every one raised by us. Asked if I 
did not pay an assessment. I told him I contributed 
money, but did not submit to be assessed or taxed. Harlan 
sat by and said nothing, though occasionally rolling up his 
eye and showing his peculiar smile. I told the gentlemen 
that, while differing with them, I was gratified to have the 
President with me. He came in a few moments after, and 
the subject was dropped. 

October 11. The elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and 
Iowa come in favorable, though the vote and the majori- 
ties are reduced from the Presidential election. I am glad 
that the Union party has done well in Philadelphia, for if 
we had lost the city or given a small vote, there would have 
been a claim that it was in consequence of my circulars. As 
it is, I get no credit, but I escape censure for doing right. 

October 12, Thursday. General Banks has received the 
nomination for Congress from the Middlesex district, 
made vacant by the resignation of Gooch, appointed Naval 
Officer. Stone and Griffith were competitors for the nom- 
ination, neither of them known abroad. If I mistake not, 
Stone has a musty reputation as a politician. While they 
were struggling, Banks came home from. New Orleans and 
succeeded over both. He will probably be elected, for I see 
by his speech he classes himself among the Radicals and 
foreshadows hostility to the Administration. 

The Radicals of Massachusetts are preparing to make 
war upon the President. This is obvious, and Sumner has 
been inclined to take the lead. But there is no intimacy 
between Banks and Sumner. They are unlike. Sumner is 
honest but imperious and impracticable. Banks is precisely 
the opposite. I shall not be surprised if Banks makes war 
upon the Navy Department, not that he has manifested 
any open hostility to myself, but there is deep-seated ani- 
mosity between him and Admiral Porter and other naval 
officers of his command who were on the Red River 
expedition. 



378 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 

I called on Seward on Wednesday in relation to the 
Stonewall, the Harriet Lane, the Florida, etc., as he was 
about leaving to be absent for a fortnight, and we may 
wish to send to Havana before he returns. After disposing 
of business, and I had left his room, he sent his messenger 
to recall me. He seemed a little embarrassed and hesitating 
at first, but said he wished to say to me that he had had full 
and free and unreserved talks recently with the President; 
that he had found him friendly and confiding, and more 
communicative than Mr. Lincoln ever had been; that he 
knew and could say to me that the President had for me, 
for him (Seward), and indeed for all the Cabinet a friendly 
regard; that he had no intention of disturbing any member 
of the Cabinet; that I had reason to be specially gratified 
with the President's appreciation of me. Some general 
conversation followed on past transactions and events. 
Among other things we got on to Blair's letters and 
speeches. He says the original armistice, alluded to by 
Blair, was left by Buchanan with other papers on the office 
table at the Executive Mansion or with the Attorney- 
General. 

Seward, McCulloch, Harlan, and Speed were absent 
from Washington on Friday, the 6th, the day of the last 
Cabinet-meeting. No very important questions were pre- 
sented and discussed. The presence of the assistants in- 
stead of the principals operates, I perceive, as an obstruc- 
tion to free interchange of opinion. 

At the last Cabinet-meeting in September, Seward read 
a strange letter addressed to one of the provisional gov- 
ernors, informing him that the President intended to con- 
tinue the provisional governments in the several insurrec- 
tionary States until Congress assembled and should take 
the subject in hand with the newly formed constitutions. I 
was amazed, and remarked that I did not understand the 
question or status of the States to be as stated, and was 
relieved when the President said he disapproved of that 
part of the letter. Speed asked to have the letter again read 



1865] THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENTS 379 

and was evidently satisfied with it. Seward made a pencil 
correction or alteration that was unimportant and mean- 
ingless, when the President said very emphatically he 
wished no reference to Congress in any such communica- 
tion, or in any such way. Stanton, I observed, remained 
perfectly silent though very attentive. It appeared to me 
that the subject was not novel to him. 

In an interview with the President the Monday follow- 
ing (the 2d inst.), I expressed my wish that no letter should 
be sent defining the policy of the Administration without 
full and careful consideration. The President said he 
should see to that, and that Seward's letter as modified by 
himself was a harmless affair. 

I have sent out another circular in relation to the ap- 
pointment of masters in the navy yards. These appoint- 
ments have caused great difficulty in the Department, the 
Members of Congress insisting on naming them, and al- 
most without an exception the party instead of the mechan- 
ical qualifications of the man is urged. It is best to be 
relieved of this evil, and I shall try to cure it. 

I see that Senator Grimes by letter expresses his disap- 
proval of the Radical movements in the Iowa State Conven- 
tion. Doolittle has been still more emphatic in Wisconsin. 
Things are working very well. The conventions in the 
Rebel States are discharging their duties as satisfactorily, 
perhaps, as could be expected. Some of the extreme Repub- 
licans, of the Sumner school, are dissatisfied, but I think 
their numbers are growing less. The Democrats, on the 
other hand, are playing what they consider a shrewd party 
game, by striving to take advantage of the errors and im- 
practicable notions of the ultras. Therefore the policy of 
the Administration appears to be growing in favor, though 
the machinery of politics is at work in an opposite direc- 
tion. 

October 10, Tuesday. As I went into the President's 
office this morning and was passing him to enter the li- 



382 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 13 

October 13. Met General Thomas of the Army of the 
Tennessee at the President's. He has a fine, soldierly ap- 
pearance, and my impressions are that he has, intellect- 
ually and as a civilian, as well as a military man, no su- 
perior in the service. What I saw of him to-day confirmed 
my previous ideas of the man. He has been no courtly 
carpet officer, to dance attendance at Washington during 
the War, but has nobly done his duty. 

Little was done at the Cabinet. Three of the assistants 
being present instead of the principals, there was a disin- 
clination to bring forward measures or to interchange 
views freely. Stanton took occasion before the President 
came in to have a fling at my circular against party assess- 
ments, which seems to annoy him. I told him the princi- 
ples and rule laid down in that circular were correct; that 
the idea which he advocated of a tax upon employe's and 
office-holders was pernicious and dangerous, would em- 
bitter party contests and, if permitted to go on, would 
carry the country to the devil. Stanton said he then wished 
to go to the devil with it; that he believed in taxing office- 
holders for party purposes, compelling them to pay money 
to support the Administration which appointed them. 
Weed and Raymond are in this thing, and mad with me for 
cutting off supplies. 

October 21. Have been unable to write daily. The Pre- 
sident has released A. H. Stephens, Regan, Trenholm, and 
others on parole, and less dissatisfaction has manifested 
itself than I expected. 

The Episcopal convention at Philadelphia is a disgrace 
to the church, to the country, and the times. Resolutions 
expressing gratification on the return of peace and the 
removal of the cause of war have been voted down, and 
much abject and snivelling servility exhibited, lest the 
Rebels should be offended. There are duties to the country 
as well as the church. 

Montgomery Blair made a speech to a Democratic meet- 



55] WENDELL PHILLIPS'S USELESSNESS 383 

I at Cooper Institute, New York. As much exception 

II be taken to the audience he selected as to his remarks, 
though he has cause for dissatisfaction, it is to be re- 
stted that he should run into an organization which is 
stile to those who have rallied for the Union. True, they 
ofess to support the President and approve his course, 
lis is perhaps true in a degree, but that organization was 
stious during the War, and was in sympathy with the 
jbels prior to hostilities. Their present attitude is from 
tred of the Republicans more than sympathy with the 
esident. Those of us who are Democrats and who went 
:o the Union organization ought to act in good faith 
th our associates, and not fly off to those who have im- 
rilled the cause, without fully reflecting on what we have 
ne, and are doing. Perhaps Blair feels himself justified, 
.t I would not have advised his course. 

Wendell Phillips has made an onset on the Administra- 
>n and its friends, and also on the extremists, hitting 
inks and Sumner as well as the President. Censorious 
d unpractical, the man, though possessed of extraordin- 
Y gifts, is a useless member of society and deservedly 
thout influence. 

Secretary Seward has been holding forth at Auburn in a 
idied and long-prepared speech, intended for the special 
idation and glory of himself and Stanton. It has the art- 
. shrewdness of the man and of his other half, Thurlow 
eed, to whom it was shown, and whose suggestions I 
ink I can see in the utterances. Each and all the Depart- 
mts are shown up by him; each of the respective heads 
mentioned, with the solitary exception of Mr. Bates, 
litted by design. 

The three dernier occupants of the Treasury are named 
th commendation, so of the three Secretaries of the In- 
ior and the two Postmasters-General. The Secretary of 
3 Navy has a bland compliment, and, as there have not 
en changes in that Department, its honors are divided 
tween the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary. But 



384 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [OCT. 21 

Stanton is extolled as one of the lesser deities, is abso- 
lutely divine. His service covers the War and months pre- 
ceding, sufficient to swallow Cameron, who is spoken of 
as honest and worthy. Speed, who is the only Attorney- 
General mentioned, is made an extraordinary man of ex- 
traordinary abilities and mind, for like Stanton he falls in 
with the Secretary of State. 

It is not particularly pleasing to Seward that I, with 
whom he has had more controversy on important ques- 
tions than with any man in the Cabinet, I, a Democrat, 
who came in at the organization of the Lincoln Cabinet 
and have continued through without interruption, espe- 
cially at the dark period of the assassination and the great 
change when he was helpless and of no avail, it is not 
pleasing to him that I should alone have gone straight 
through with my Department while there have been 
changes in all others, and an interregnum in his own. 
Hence two heads to the Navy Department, my Assist- 
ant's and mine. Had there been two or three changes as 
in the others, this remark would probably not have been 
made. Yet there is an artful design to stir up discord by 
creating ill blood or jealousy between myself and Fox, 
whom they do not love, which is quite as much in the vein 
of Weed as of Seward. I have no doubt the subject and 
points of this speech were talked over by the two. Indeed, 
Seward always consults Weed when he strikes a blow. 

His assumptions of what he has done, and thought, and 
said are characteristic by reason of their arrogance and 
error. He was no advocate for placing Johnson on the 
ticket as Vice-President, as he asserts, but was for Hamlin, 
as was every member of the Cabinet but myself. Not that 
they were partisans, but for a good arrangement. 

December 1. It is some weeks since I have had time to 
write a word in this diary. In the mean time many things 
have happened which I desired to note but none of very 
great importance. What time I could devote to writing 



1865] SUICIDE OF PRESTON KING 385 

when absent from the Department has been given to the 
preparation of my Annual Report. That is always irksome 
and hard labor for me. All of it has been prepared at my 
house out of the office hours, except three mornings when I 
have remained past my usual hour of going to the Depart- 
ment. 

My reports are perhaps more full and elaborate than I 
should make them; but if I wish anything done I find I 
must take the responsibility of presenting it. Members of 
Congress, though jealous of anything that they consider, 
or which they fear others will consider, dictation, are 
nevertheless timid as regards responsibility. When a mat- 
ter is accomplished they are willing to be thought tfce 
father of it, yet some one must take the blows which the 
measure receives in its progress. I therefore bring forward 
the principal subjects in my report. If they fail, I have 
done my duty. If they are carried, I shall contend with no 
one for the credit of paternity. I read the last proof pages 
of my report this evening. 

Members of Congress are coming in fast, though not 
early. Speaker Coif ax came several days since. His coming 
was heralded with a flourish. He was serenaded, and de- 
livered a prepared speech, which was telegraphed over the 
country and published the next morning. It is the off- 
spring of an intrigue, and one that is pretty extensive. 
The whole proceeding was premeditated. 

My friend Preston King committed suicide by drowning 
himself in the Hudson River. His appointment as Col- 
lector was unfortunate. He was a sagacious and honest 
man, a statesman and legislator of high order and of 
unquestioned courage in expressing his convictions and 
resolute firmness in maintaining them. To him, a Demo- 
crat and Constitutionalist, more than to any other one 
man may be ascribed the merit of boldly meeting the arro- 
gant and imperious slaveholding oligarchy and organizing 
the party which eventually overthrew them. While 
Wendell Phillips, Sumner, and others were active and f ana- 



386 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. l 

tical theorists, Preston King was earnest and practical. 
J. Q. Adams and Giddings displayed sense and courage, but 
neither of them had the faculty which K. possessed for con- 
centrating, combining, and organizing men in party meas- 
ures and action. I boarded in the same house with King 
in 1846 when the Wilmot Proviso was introduced on an 
appropriation bill. Hoot and Brinkerhoff of Ohio, Rath- 
bun and Grover and Stetson [sic] * of New York, besides 
Wilmot and some few others whom I do not recall, were in 
that combination, and each supposed himself the leader. 
They were indeed all leaders, but King, without making 
pretensions, was the man, the hand, that bound this sheaf 
together. From the day when he took his stand King 
never faltered. There was not a more earnest party man, 
but he would not permit the discipline and force of party 
to carry him away from his honest convictions. Others 
quailed and gave way but he did not. He was not eloquent 
or much given to speech-making, but could state his case 
clearly, and his undoubted sincerity made a favorable 
impression always. 

Not ever having held a place where great individual and 
pecuniary responsibility devolved upon him, the office of 
Collector embarrassed and finally overwhelmed him. 

Some twenty-five years ago he was in the Retreat for the 
Insane in Hartford, and there I knew him. He became 
greatly excited during the Canadian rebellion and its disas- 
trous termination and the melancholy end of some of his 
townsmen had temporarily impaired his reason. But it was 
brief; he rapidly recovered, and, unlike most persons who 
have been deranged, it gave him no uneasiness and he spoke 
of it with as much unconcern as of a fever. The return of 
the malady led to his committing suicide. Possessed of the 
tenderest sensibilities and a keen sense of honor, the party 
exactions of the New York politicians, the distress, often 

1 There was no Stetson in Congress at the time. Perhaps Wheaton of 
New York, who was one of the supporters of the Proviso, was the man 
whom Mr. Welles had in mind. 




PRESTON KING 



1865] THE CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS 387 

magnified, of those whom he was called upon to displace, 
the party requirements which Weed, who boarded with 
him, and others demanded, greatly distressed him, and led 
to the final catastrophe. 

King was a friend and pupil of Silas Wright, with whom 
he studied his profession ; was the successor of that grand 
statesman in both branches of Congress. Both had felt 
most deeply the bad faith and intrigue which led to the 
defeat of Van Buren in 1844, and to the ultimate downfall 
of the Democratic party, for the election of Polk, Pierce, 
and Buchanan were but flickering efforts to rekindle the 
fires of the old organizations. Confidence and united zeal 
never again prevailed, and parties subsequently took a sec- 
tional or personal character. 

December 3. Told the President I disliked the proceed- 
ings of the Congressional caucus on Saturday evening. 
The resolution for a joint committee of fifteen to whom the 
whole subject of admission of Representatives from States 
which had been in rebellion [should be referred] without 
debate was in conflict with the spirit and letter of the Con- 
stitution, which gives to each house the decision of elec- 
tion of its own members, etc. Then in appointing Stevens, 
an opponent of State rights, to present it there was some- 
thing bad. The whole was, in fact, revolutionary, a blow 
at our governmental system, and there had been evident 
preconcert to bring it about. The President agreed with 
me, but said they would be knocked in the head at the 
start. There would be a Representative from Tennessee 
who had been a loyal Member of the House since the War 
commenced, or during the War, who could present himself, 
and so state the case that he could not be controverted. I 
expressed my gratification if this could be accomplished, 
knowing he alluded to Maynard, but suggested a 
doubt whether the intrigue which was manifest by the 
resolution, the designation of Stevens, and Colfax's 
speech had not gone too far. 



388 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 3 

Congress organized about the time this conversation 
took place. Maynard was put aside, I think by concert 
between himself and the Radical leaders. The resolution 
introduced by Stevens passed by a strict party vote. In 
the Senate, Sumner introduced an avalanche of radical 
and some of them absurd resolutions. These appeared 
to have absorbed the entire attention of that body, which 
adjourned without the customary committee to wait upon 
the President and inform him that Congress was organized. 
This was not unintentional. There was design in it. 

Fogg of New Hampshire, our late Minister to Switzer- 
land, came to see me this evening with Chandler, Assistant 
Secretary of the Treasury. 

The recall of Fogg was an unwise, unjust, and I think an 
impolitic act on the part of Seward, and I shall not be sur- 
prised if he has cause to rue it. Fogg was associated with 
me' on the National Executive Committee in the Presiden- 
tial campaign of 1860, and was brought in particularly inti- 
mate relations with Mr. Lincoln at that time. No one, per- 
haps, knows better than F. the whole workings in relation 
to the formation of the Cabinet of 1861. These he detailed 
very minutely this evening. Much of it I had known be- 
fore. He has a remarkable memory, and all the details of 
1860 and 1861 were impressed upon his mind. He was the 
first to bring me assurance that I was selected for the Cab- 
inet from New England. I thought at the time his, F.'s, 
original preferences were in another direction, although 
the selection of myself was, he then and now assured me, 
acceptable to him. At that time F., listening to Seward' s 
friends, believed he would not accept an appointment in the 
Cabinet. Such were the givings-out of his friends and of 
Seward himself. I told F. at the time, as he still recollects, 
he was deceiving himself, and that Mr. Lincoln was in a 
strange delusion if he believed it. 

Weed tried to induce Mr. Lincoln to visit Mr. Seward at 
Auburn. Said General Harrison went to Lexington in 
1841 to see Mr. Clay, who advised in the formation of that 



1865] FOGG ON THE LINCOLN CABINET 389 

Cabinet. Mr. Lincoln declined to imitate Harrison. The 
next effort was to try to have a meeting at Chicago, but 
this Mr. L. also declined. But he did invite Hamlin to meet 
him there. On his way Hamlin was intercepted by Weed, 
who said the offer of the State Department was due to Mr. 
Seward, but S. would decline it. The courtesy, however, 
was, he claimed, due to Mr. S. and to New York. H. was 
persuaded, and Mr. L. intrusted him with a letter tender- 
ing the appointment to Seward. 

Shortly after the commencement of the session of Con- 
gress in December, 1860, Fogg says Hamlin, when coming 
down from the Capitol one afternoon after the adjourn- 
ment of the Senate, fell in company with Seward, or was 
overtaken by him. They walked down the avenue together, 
Seward knowing H. had been to Chicago. On reaching 
Hamlin's hotel, he invited S. to go in, and a full conversa- 
tion took place, S. declaring he was tired of public life and 
that he intended to resign his seat or decline a reelection 
and retire, that there was no place in the gift of the Pre- 
sident which he would be willing to take. Several times he 
repeated that he would not go into the Cabinet of Mr. Lin- 
coln. Having heard these refusals in various forms, Ham- 
lin then told him he had a letter from Mr. Lincoln, which 
he produced. Seward, H. says to Fogg, trembled and was 
nervous as he took it. He read the letter, put it in his 
pocket, and said, while his whole feelings were repugnant 
to a longer continuance in public employment, he yet was 
willing to labor for his country. He would, therefore, con- 
sult his friends before giving a final answer. The next, or 
succeeding, day he left for New York, but before going he 
mailed a letter to the President elect accepting the appoint- 
ment. Hamlin repeated all the facts to Fogg last week, so 
far as he was concerned. 

Great efforts were made to secure the Treasury for Cam- 
eron. This was a part of the programme of Weed and 
Seward. I have always understood that Mr. Lincoln be- 
came committed to this scheme in a measure, though it was 



390 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 3 

unlike him. Fogg explains it in this way : In the summer and 
fall a bargain was struck between Weed and Cameron. The 
latter went to Albany and then to Saratoga, where he spent 
several days with the intriguers. Cameron subsequently 
tried to get an invitation that fall to Springfield, but Lin- 
coln would not give it. This annoyed the clique. After the 
election, Swett, who figured then as a confidential friend 
and intimate of Lincoln, not without some reason, was 
sent, or came, East to feel the public pulse. At a later day 
he went to California and had a finger in the Alameda 
quicksilver mine. Swett was seized by Weed and Com- 
pany, open rooms and liquors were furnished by the New 
York junto, and his intimacy with Lincoln was magnified. 
Cameron took him to his estate at Lochiel and feasted him. 
Here the desire of Cameron to go to Springfield was made 
known to Swett, who took upon himself to extend an invi- 
tation in Mr. Lincoln's name. With this he took a large 
body-guard and went to Springfield. Although surprised, 
Mr. Lincoln could not disavow what Swett had done. 
Cameron was treated civilly; his friends talked, etc. After 
his return, Mr. Lincoln wrote him that in framing his 
Cabinet he proposed giving him a place, either in the 
Treasury or the War Department. Cameron immediately 
wrote, expressing his thanks and accepting the Treasury. 
Mr. Lincoln at once wrote that there seemed some misap- 
prehension and he therefore withdrew his tender or any 
conclusive arrangement until he came to Washington. I 
have heard some of these things from Mr. L[incom]. Fogg, 
who now tells them to me, says he knows them all. 

Mrs. Lincoln has the credit of excluding Judd of Chicago 
from the Cabinet. The President was under great personal 
obligations to Judd, and always felt and acknowledged it. 
When excluded from the Cabinet, he selected the mission 
to Berlin. 

Caleb Smith was brought in at a late hour and after 
Judd's exclusion. Weed and Seward had intended to bring 
in Emerson Etheridge and Graham of North Carolina, and 



1865] FOGG ON THE LINCOLN CABINET 391 

Smith was adopted when the New York junto could do no 
better. 

After the President came to Washington, a decided on- 
set was made by the anti-Seward men of New York and 
others against Chase. An earlier movement had been 
made, but not sufficient to commit the President. Senator 
Wade of Ohio did not favor Chase. Governor Dennison 
was strongly for him, and Wade, who disliked Seward, 
finally withdrew opposition to C. But about the time I 
reached Washington on the 1st of March another hitch had 
taken place. I had remained away until invited, and had 
been mixed up with none of the intrigues. 

The President (Lincoln) told me on Sunday, 3d March, 
that there was still some trouble, but that he had become 
satisfied he should arrange the matter. Fogg tells me that 
Greeley and others who were here attending to the rightful 
construction of the Cabinet had deputed him to call upon 
the President and ascertain if Chase was to be excluded. A 
rumor to that effect had got abroad and Lamon, a close 
friend of Lincoln (too close), was offering to bet two to one 
that C. would not have the Treasury. Fogg called on the 
President, but first Mrs. L. and then Seward interrupted 
them. On Tuesday, the 5th, at 7 A.M., Fogg and Carl 
Schurz called on the President to make sure of Chase. 
Seward followed almost immediately. Lincoln, in a whis- 
per, told F. all was right, and subsequently informed him 
that he had been annoyed and embarrassed by Seward on 
the 1st of March, who came to him and said that he, S., had 
not been consulted as was usual in the formation of the 
Cabinet, that he understood Chase had been assigned to 
the Treasury, that there were differences between himself 
and Chase which rendered it impossible for them to act in 
harmony, that the Cabinet ought, as General Jackson said, 
to be a unit. Under these circumstances and with his con- 
viction of duty and what was due to himself, he must insist 
on the excluding of Mr. Chase if he, Seward, remained. 
Mr. Lincoln expressed his surprise after all that had taken 



392 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 3 

place and with the great trouble on his hands, that he 
should be met with such a demand on this late day. He 
requested Mr. S. to further consider the subject. 

The result was that Mr. Lincoln came to the conclusion 
if Seward persisted, he would let him go and make Dayton, 
of New Jersey, Secretary of State. But Seward did not 
persist. 

December 5. The organization of Congress was easily 
effected. There had been manifestly preliminary arrange- 
ments, made by some of the leading spirits. Stevens's 
resolution was passed by a strict party vote. The new 
Members, and others weak in their understandings, were 
taken off their legs, as was designed, before they were aware 
of it. 

In the hurry and intrigue no committee was appointed 
to call on the President. I am most thoroughly convinced 
there was design in this, in order to let the President know 
that he must wait the motion of Congress. 

I think the message, which went in this P.M., will prove 
an acceptable document. The views, sentiments, and doc- 
trines are the President's, not Seward's. He may have 
suggested verbal emendations ; nothing except what related 
to foreign affairs. But the President himself has vigorous 
common sense and on more than one occasion I have seen 
him correct Seward's dispatches. 1 

December 6. Seward, apprehending a storm, wants a 
steamer to take him to Cuba. Wishes to be absent a fort- 
night or three weeks. Thinks he had better be away; that 
the war will be pretty strong upon us for the first few weeks 
of the session and he had better show the Members that 
we care nothing about them by clearing out. 

A court martial of high officers in the case of Craven, 
who declined to encounter the Stonewall, has made it- 

1 I became satisfied subsequently that none of the Cabinet had any more 
than myself to do with it. G. W. 



1865] CONVERSATION WITH SUMNER 393 

self ridiculous by an incongruous finding and award which 
I cannot approve. It is not pleasant to encounter so large 
a number of officers of high standing, but I must do my 
duty if they do not. 

December 7. This is a day of National Thanksgiving. 
Heard a vigorous sermon from Mr. Lewis. Should not 
subscribe to all his doctrines, but his sermon increased my 
estimate of him. 

Seward called at my house. Wished me to examine and 
put an estimate on the French possessions in the West 
Indies, the Spanish Main, and Gulf of St. Lawrence. He 
did not explain himself further. He may think of buying 
France out of Mexico, but he mistakes that government 
and people. Besides we do not want those possessions. If 
we could have Martinique or Guadaloupe as a naval or 
coaling-station, we should embrace the opportunity of get- 
ting either, but we want only one. We do not want [inde- 
cipherable]. The islands in the [Gulf of] St. Lawrence we 
want, and so do the French, as fishing-stations. 

December 8, Friday. Sumner called on me with young 
Bright. We had quite a talk on the policy of the Govern- 
ment, and his own views. Sumner's vanity and egotism 
are great. He assumes that the Administration is wholly 
wrong, and that he is beyond peradventure right; that 
Congress has plenary powers, the Executive none, on re- 
establishing the Union. He denounced the policy of the 
President on the question of organizing the Rebel States 
as the greatest and most criminal error ever committed by 
any government. Dwelt on what constitutes a republican 
government; says he has read everything on the subject 
from Plato to the last French pamphlet. Tells me that 
a general officer from Georgia had informed him within a 
week that the negroes of that State were better qualified to 
establish and maintain a republican government than the 



394 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. s 

the men who have involved the President in this trans- 
cendent error, I, a New England man, New England's 
representative in the Cabinet, have misrepresented New 
England sentiment. McCulloch was imbued with the per- 
nicious folly of Indiana, but Seward and myself were foully, 
fatally culpable in giving our countenance and support to 
the President in his policy. 

I insisted it was correct, that the country aside from 
heated politics approved it, and asked if he supposed there 
was any opposition to that policy in the Cabinet. He said 
he knew Stanton was opposed to it, and when I said I was 
not aware of it, he seemed surprised. He asked if I had 
read his Worcester speech. I told him I had but did not 
indorse it. He replied, " Stanton does." "Stanton," said 
he, "came to Boston at that time; the speech was thrown 
into the cars, and he had read it before I met him. Stanton 
complimented the speech. I said it was pretty radical or 
had pretty strong views. Stanton said it was none too 
strong, that he approved of every sentiment, every opinion 
and word of it." 

I told Sumner I did not understand Stanton as occupy- 
ing that position, and I apprehended the President did not 
so understand him. I told him that I well recollected that 
on one occasion last spring, when I was in the War Depart- 
ment, he and Dawes and Gooch came in there. He said, 
"Yes, and Colfax was there." "I recollect he was. Stan^ 
ton took out his project for organizing a government in 
North Carolina. I had heard it read on the last day of Mr. 
Lincoln's life, and had made a suggestion respecting it, and 
the project had been modified. Some discussion took place 
at the War Department on the question of negro suffrage. 
Stanton said he wanted to avoid that topic. You [Sumner] 
wanted to meet it, When that discussion opened I left, for 
I knew I could not agree with you." 

Sumner said he well recollected that meeting; that he 
and Colfax had proposed modifications of the plan and put 
it in an acceptable shape, but that we had upset it. One 



1865] MOVEMENT FOR IMPEACHMENT 395 

other member of the Cabinet had written him a few days 
before he left home expressing sympathy with him, and one 
other had spoken equally cordially to him since he arrived 
here. "You may have had a letter from Speed," I re- 
marked. "No," said he, "but Speed has had a conversa- 
tion with me." 

I think Harlan must be the man, yet my impressions were 
that Harlan held a different position. Perhaps Iowa has 
influenced him. Our conversation, though earnest, was not 
in anger or with any acrimony. He is confident that he 
shall carry Stevens's resolution through the Senate, and be 
able to defeat the President in his policy. 

December 9, Saturday. Mr. Fox informed me a day or 
two since that he had an offer of the charge of a coal com- 
pany in Pennsylvania. Thinks they will give him very 
high pay. Will not go unless they do. He spoke of it again 
to-day. Wishes to go to Pennsylvania for a few days next 
week. I should personally regret to lose either him or 
Faxon. Each seems indispensable to me. It would be a job 
to train others. 

December 11, Monday. I gave the President a full rela- 
tion of my interview with Sumner. He was much inter- 
ested and maintains well his position. I think they will not 
shake him. Sumner sent me through the mail a newspaper 
containing a memorial for the impeachment of the Pre- 
sident. He marked and underscored certain passages which 
he said wrote on the margin were answers to some 
of my questions put to him in our conversation. The 
attack upon the President is coarse and unworthy of 
a thought. 

December 12, Tuesday. Not a very long session of the 
Cabinet. Some conversation in regard to the Rebel leaders 
led me to inquire whether it might not be best to parole 
Mallory, who has written me personally. He offers to make 



396 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 12 

t 

disclosures and assist in reestablishing Union feeling. 

Stanton objected; says Judge Holt advises his trial, etc. 

Senator Nye called and had a long talk with me, chiefly 
in regard to the Rebels. Is pretty strongly touched with 
the Sumner notions, but seems disposed to recant and con- 
sider suggestions. To him and others I have stated my 
objections to the Stevens resolution. Most of the Members 
have said their principal object was to have the two houses 
in perfect accord and of one mind. I have declared this an 
indirect attempt to defeat or evade the Constitution, 
which intended separate action. Hence the two branches. 
This proposed committee, I maintain, is revolutionary and 
calculated to promote, if not designed to create, alienation 
and sectional parties. Nye says the resolution will be dis- 
emboweled and of little moment, but Nye himself is unre- 
liable. 

December 13, Wednesday. The Radicals have been 
busy. They are feeling their way now. The President has 
been deceived, I think, in some persons in whom he has con- 
fided, and the patronage of the government, without his 
being aware of it, has been turned against the Administra- 
tion. 

December 14, Thursday. Admiral Farragut came this 
morning, and the general order setting aside the doings of 
his court was printed and handed in shortly after his ar- 
rival. The proceedings were a shocking jumble, a fellow 
feeling probably among some members of the court. I 
should not be surprised if Farragut's kind and generous 
heart acquiesced against his better judgment, but I do not 
know. We had some talk in regard to promotions. It will 
make lifelong enmities to supersede. F. suggests that 
medals will answer an equal purpose. 

December 15, Friday. A sudden change of weather. In- 
tensely cold. General Grant was in the council-room at the 



1865] GRANT'S SOUTHERN JOURNEY 397 

Executive Mansion to-day, and stated the result of his ob- 
servations and conclusions during his journey South. He 
says the people are more loyal and better-disposed than he 
expected to find them, and that every consideration calls 
for the early reestablishment of the Union. His views are 
sensible, patriotic, and wise. I expressed a wish that he 
would make a written report, and that he communicate 
also freely with the Members of Congress. 

December 16, Saturday. Senator Sumner called again this 
evening. He is almost beside himself on the policy of the 
Administration, which he denounces with great bitterness. 
The President had no business to move, he says, without 
the consent and direction of Congress. I asked him if the 
Southern States were to have no postmasters, no revenue 
officers, no marshals, etc. I said to him: "There are two 
lines of policy before us. One is harsh, cold, distant, defi- 
ant ; the other kind, conciliatory, and inviting. Which," said 
I, "will soonest make us a united people?" He hesitated 
and gave me no direct answer, but said the President's 
course was putting everything back. This I told him was a 
general assertion; that conciliation, not persecution, was 
our policy, and therein we totally disagreed with him. 

It was not right to accuse him, he said, of a persecuting 
spirit. He had advised clemency, had taken ground against 
the execution of Jefferson Davis, and asked if I was op- 
posed to his being hung. I told him that I was not pre- 
pared to say that I was, and while he was so charitable 
towards Davis, he was very different toward all others 
South, though a large portion of the people were opposed to 
secession. I stated to him the views of General Grant, who 
had found the people disposed to acquiesce and become 
good citizens, that he found those who had been most 
earnest and active in the Rebellion were the most frank 
and thorough in their conversion. Governor McGrath ad- 
mitted his error, was satisfied slavery was a curse, had no 
wish for its restoration; but Governor Aiken, who has been 



398 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. ie 

passively loyal during the whole years of the war, was 
wanting some apprentice system, introduction of coolies, 
or some process for legal organized labor. While McGrath 
had made great advances, Aiken had made none. Sumner 
wanted to know what Grant's opinion was worth as com- 
pared with Chase's. I valued it highly, for it seemed to me 
practical common sense from a man of no political know- 
ledge or aspiration, while Chase theorized and had great 
political ambition. 

Sumner closed up with a violent denunciation of the 
provisional governors, especially Perry and Parsons, and 
said that a majority of Congress was determined to over- 
turn the President's policy. 

December 18, Monday. Called on Secretary of the Treas- 
ury in behalf of Pease of Janesville for collector. He, 
McCulloch, defers too much to the dictates of Members of 
Congress, who have personal objects in view, and many of 
them unfriendly to the Administration. Told him of my 
interview with Sumner. McCulloch said in regard to 
Stanton that if he had said to Sumner he approved of the 
Worcester speech, he was a double-dealer, wore two 
faces, that if really opposed to the President's policy he 
ought not to remain in the Cabinet. 

On my way, returning to the Navy Department, I called 
and had an interview with the President. Told him of my 
conversation with Sumner, and that I was confirmed in the 
conviction that a deep and extensive intrigue was going on 
against him. He seemed aware of it, but not yet of its ex- 
tent or of all the persons engaged in it. I remarked that the 
patronage of the Executive had, I believed, been used to 
defeat the policy of the Executive, and a summary removal 
of one or two mischievous men at the proper time would be 
effective and salutary. He said he should not hesitate one 
moment in taking off the heads of any of that class of 
busybodies. 

I showed him a copy of the New Orleans Tribune which 



1865] DENNISON ON STANTON 399 

Siimner had sent me, with passages underscored in a me- 
morial for the impeachment of the President. He wished 
the copy and I gave it to him. 

Called on Dennison this evening and had a full and free 
interchange with him. He inquired if I had ever heard a 
distinct avowal from Seward on the question of negro 
suffrage or the provisional governments, or from Stanton 
explicitly in its favor. I replied that I had not and he said 
he had not. He tells me that he hears from some of Stan- 
ton's intimates that he will probably soon resign. This is 
mere trash, unless he finds himself about being cornered; 
then he will make a merit of what cannot be avoided. Den- 
nison ridicules the flagrant humbug which Seward and the 
papers have got up of Stanton's immense labors, which are 
really less than those of his own, McCulloch's, or mine. 
Grant, Meigs, and others discharge the labors for which S. 
gets credit. D. intends leaving to-morrow for Ohio, to be 
absent for ten days. Wants me to accompany him in the 
morning to the President. 

December 19, Tuesday. Cabinet-meeting. Not much of 
special interest. Harlan brought forward a little complica- 
tion with a Rhode Island editor, in which he was involved 
when chairman of the electioneering committee in 1864. 
He was rather laughed down. 

Dennison called for me this A.M. to go to the President. 
We had over half an hour's conversation on the graver 
questions before Congress, and the factious partisan in- 
trigues that are being carried on. 

Dennison had three or four important post-office ap- 
pointments which he submitted, and said they were recom- 
mended by Members of Congress. I asked if he knew their 
status on the great questions pending. He said he had not 
made that inquiry. I asked if the time had not arrived 
when we should know who was who, and what we were 
doing to fortify or weaken ourselves and the cause of right. 
The President said he thought it a duty. 



400 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 20 

December 20, Wednesday. Senator Sumner, by his im- 
petuous violence, will contribute to put things right be- 
yond any other man. The President's message and Gen- 
eral Grant's letter seem to have made him demented. 
Some who have acted with him and been indoctrinated in 
his extreme views are suddenly roused to consciousness. 

December 21, Thursday. Chandler, Assistant Secretary 
of the Treasury, sent me a note this evening, stating that 
a pardon had been proposed for Pasco, recently convicted, 
after long struggles and delays, of a series of outrageous 
frauds and villainies upon the Government. Pasco was 
master plumber in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, one of a 
combination of thieves, cheats, and rascals. He was the 
principal scoundrel of the gang. He acknowledges that he 
had signed fraudulent certificates; in one instance admits 
that a party had delivered 20,000 pounds of copper, for 
which he was paid, when he actually delivered but 16,000; 
in another instance for 25,000 when only 19,000 was de- 
livered. He received $8200 for the last false certificate, 
or one third of the swindle, the Government losing or being 
cheated out of about $26,000 in a single transaction. So of 
the former. Specifications of eleven distinct cheats similar 
to these, some of them of larger amounts, besides cases of 
actual theft, were proven on this fellow. He plead guilty, 
and was a week or two since sentenced to eighteen months 
imprisonment. Judge Cadwalader gave light punishment 
for the alleged reason that Pasco plead guilty and had 
made restitution when he could not escape conviction and 
fine. How much he may have cheated and defrauded the 
Government without detection cannot be known. 

I called on the President after receiving Chandler's note 
and stated the facts. He was a good deal disturbed and 
seemed unable to express himself. He is evidently sur- 
prised, and I apprehend has blindly committed himself for 
a pardon. He says a large portion of the Pennsylvania 
delegation applied for the pardon, the district attorney 
among them, also a portion of the jury. 



principal chat was on the great question and he expresses 
himself as concurring in my opinions. 

December 22, Friday. McCulloch, Stanton, and Denni- 
son are absent from Washington. Seward read a letter 
from Bigelow at Paris, which indicates peace, though all 
the diplomats here believe a war inevitable. Seward re- 
presents that Montholon was scared out of his wits when 
General Logan was appointed to Mexico. He certainly is 
not a very intelligent or cultured diplomat. The horizon 
is not perfectly clear, but the probabilities are peaceful. 
Had a talk with the President on the subject of Pasco. 
Chandler was the attorney of the Department in this in- 
vestigation and prosecution at the Philadelphia Navy 
Yard, and I had him state the case to the President. He 
presented the whole very well, confirming all that I had 
stated, and making the case stronger against Pasco. The 
President was puzzled and avoided any direct answer. I 
have little doubt he has been imposed upon and persuaded 
to do a very improper thing. But we shall see. This case 
presents the difficulties to be surmounted in bringing 
criminals to justice. Pasco was a public officer, an active 
partisan, very popular and much petted by leading party 
men in official position. Detected in cheating and stealing, 
public men for a time thought the Department was harsh 
and severe in bringing him to trial. Objections were made 
against his being tried by court martial, and he was 
turned over to the civil courts. But a trial could not be 
had. Term after term it was carried along. Confessions 
from others implicated and the books and documents pro- 
duced were so conclusive that finally he plead guilty and 
disgorged so far as he was actually detected. In censer 
quence of his pleading guilty and making restitution of the 
amounts clearly ascertained, Judge Cadwalader gave him 
a mild sentence of only one year and a half of imprison- 
ment. Having, after a long struggle, reached this stage, the 



402 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 22 

politicians and the court favoring him, we now have the 
President yielding to the pressure of Members of Congress, 
and, without inquiry or a call for the records or the facts, 
pardoning this infamous leader of fraud and crime. The 
influence will be pernicious, and scoundrels will be 
strengthened. I shall be glad to know that the President 
has not committed himself irretrievably. 

December 23, Saturday. R. J. Meigs called on me by re- 
quest of the President in relation to Captain Meade, who 
is under suspension, having been convicted and sentenced 
last May. He now, through his friend Meigs, appeals to 
the President. I told him there was no appeal. He could 
have a pardon from the President, or perhaps he could 
order the proceedings to be set aside. 

A late general order prohibiting officers from coming to 
Washington without permission troubles Meade, who 
claims this is his residence and that he is here on private 
business. Fox protests against his being here intriguing 
and annoying the President, Department, Congress, and 
others, and has appealed to me earnestly and emphatically 
to order Meade to leave Washington, but it is one of those 
cases which we cannot enforce arbitrarily, although no in- 
justice would be done. He has some excuse for being in 
Washington, and we must not be tyrants. 

Governor Pease left to-day. His brother John went 
three or four days since. Yesterday, when all the others 
had withdrawn from the Cabinet council but the Pre- 
sident, Seward, and myself, and perhaps Chandler, 
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who had been pre- 
sent, Seward inquired if there was any truth in the re- 
port or rumor that Stanton had left, or was about to leave, 
the Cabinet. The President replied warmly, as it seemed 
to me, that he had not heard of any such rumor. Seward 
said it was so stated in some of the papers, but he had sup- 
posed there was nothing in it, for he and Stanton had an 
understanding to the effect that Stanton would remain as 



1865] RUMOR OF STANTON'S RESIGNATION 403 

long as he did, or would give him notice if he changed. The 
President said he presumed it was only rumor, that he 
reckoned there was not much in it; he had heard nothing 
lately and we might as well keep on for the present without 
any fuss. Seward said he knew Stanton had talked this 
some time ago. "I reckon that is all," said the President. 
Seward had an object in this talk. He knows Stanton's 
views and thoughts better than the President does. The 
inquiry was not, therefore, for information on that specific 
point. If it was to sound the President, or to draw out any 
expression from me, he wholly failed, for neither gave him 
an explicit reply. 

December 26, Tuesday. Captain Walker, of the De Soto, 
called last evening. He has been actively engaged at Cape 
Haytien, and should not have left with his vessel until the 
arrival of another. Seward made a formal request that he 
should be recalled and reprimanded on the ex parte state- 
ment of the consul, who himself was in error. I declined 
acceding to Seward's strange request, and desired him to 
possess himself of all the facts. Subsequently he wrote me 
approving Walker's course, and told me he should require 
an explanation from Folsom, the consul. 

I have detailed the De Soto to take Seward to Cuba, and 
he obscurely hints that his ultimate destination will be 
some point on the Mexican coast. Has mystical observa- 
tions and givings-out. I give them little credit, as he seems 
to be aware. After some suggestions of a public nature, he 
subsides into matters private, intimating a wish that it 
should be understood he goes for his health, for a relaxa- 
tion, wishes to escape the tumult and reception of New 
Year's Day, wants the f actionists in Congress should un- 
derstand he cares little for them and has gone off recreating 
at the only time they are leveling their guns at us. 1 

1 Stanton contrived to have the President surrounded most of the time 
by his detectives, or men connected with the military service who are 
creatures of the War Department. Of ^course, much that was said to the 



\ 

404 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 26 

No very important matters before the Cabinet. Seward 
had a long story about Mrs. Cazneau 1 and St. Domingo. I 
judge from his own statement or manner of stating, and 
from his omission to read Mrs. C.'s communication, that he 
has committed some mistakes which he does not wish to 
become public. 

December 27, Wednesday. Have ordered Raphael 
Semmes to be arrested. He was, I see by the papers, 
taken in Mobile, and will soon be here. There are some 
nice points to be decided in his case, and I should have 
been glad had he absented himself from the country, though 
his case is one of the most aggravated and least excusable 
of the whole Rebel host. He did not belong in the Rebel 
region and has not therefore the poor apology of those who 
shelter themselves under the action of their States; he was 
educated and supported by that government which he de- 
serted in disregard of his obligations and his oath; he made 
it his business to rob and destroy the ships and property of 
his unarmed countrymen engaged in peaceful commerce; 
when he finally fought and was conquered he practiced a 
fraud, and in violation of his surrender broke faith, and 
without ever being exchanged fought against the Union at 
Richmond; escaping from that city, he claims to have been 
included in Johnston's surrender, and therefore not amen- 
able for previous offenses. Before taking this step, I twice 
brought the subject before the President and Cabinet, each 
and all of whom advised, or concurred in the propriety of, 
the arrest and trial of Semmes. It is a duty which I could 

President in friendly confidence went directly to Stanton. In this way 
a constant espionage was maintained on all that transpired at the White 
House. Stanton, in all this time had his confidants among the Radicals 
opponents of the President in Congress, a circle to whom he betrayed 
the measures and purposes of the President and with whom he concocted 
schemes to defeat the measures and policy of the Administration. The 
President knew my opinion and convictions of Stanton's operations and of 
Stanton himself. G. W. 

1 General William L. Cazneau was the special agent of the United 
States in the Dominican Republic, and the negotiations for the purchase of 
the Bay of Samana were conducted through him. 



1865] ARREST OF SEMMES ORDERED 405 

not be justified in evading, yet I shall acquire no laurels in 
the movement. But when the actors of to-day have passed 
from the stage, and I with them, the proceedings against 
this man will be approved. 

December 28, Thursday. Senator Morgan tells me that 
Sumner grows more radical and violent in his views and 
conduct on the subject of reestablishing the Union, de- 
clares he will oppose the policy of the Administration, and 
acts, Morgan says, as if demented. It has been generally 
supposed that Wilson would occupy a different position 
from Sumner, but Morgan says they will go together. 
Morgan himself occupies a rather equivocal position. 
That is, he will not, I am satisfied, go to the extreme length 
of Sumner. Yet he does not frankly avow himself with the 
President, nor does he explicitly define his opinions, if he 
has opinions which are fixed. He was one of the sixteen in 
the Republican caucus who opposed Stevens's joint resolu- 
tion, while fourteen supported. As there must, I think, be 
a break in the Administration party, Morgan will be likely 
to adhere, in the main, to the Administration, and yet that 
will be apt to throw him into unison with the Democrats, 
which he will not willingly assent to, for he has personal 
aspirations, and shapes his course with as much calculation 
as he ever entered upon a speculation in sugar. 

He says Grimes told him that Harlan was expecting to be 
President. Not unlikely, and Grimes himself has probably 
similar expectations. So has Morgan, and so have a num- 
ber of Senators and Representatives as well as other mem- 
bers of the Cabinet. Both Seward and Stanton are 
touched with the Presidential fever, or rather have the 
disease strong in their system. 

December 29, Friday. Dennison and Speed were not at 
the Cabinet council to-day. Not much was done. Stanton 
has got back, and in some allusions to Sumner appeared to 
think him as absurd and heretical as any of us. Of course, 



406 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [DEC. 29 

some one is cheated. Seward is preparing to take a cruise, 
and will leave to-morrow for the West Indies in the steamer 
De Soto. There has been much mystery in this premedi- 
tated excursion. I am amused and yet half-disgusted with 
Seward's nonsense. He applied to me some weeks since 
for a public naval vessel to proceed to Havana, and per- 
haps beyond. Without inquiries, I take it for granted he 
goes on public business, or he would not ask for a public 
vessel, for I told . him that we had not one ready, but 
would have one if necessary. When it was settled he should 
have a vessel, he talked of a family excursion. Wanted re- 
laxation, wanted Fred should go, said he wanted to get 
away from the receptions, etc., of the New Year. There is 
not a man in Washington who is more fond of these parades. 
Another time he whispers to me that Congress will try to 
raise the devil, and their fiercest guns will be directed to 
us. He prefers to be out of the way and let them spend 
their wrath. Once or twice he has said to me that his in- 
tention is to visit Mexico. To-day he took me aside and 
made some inquiries about St. Thomas, which during the 
war I had said might be a desirable acquisition as a coaling-- 
station and central point in the West Indies. His action 
and talk indicate anticipated trouble and perhaps compli- 
cations, the development or denouement of which he cares 
not to be here to witness. From his conversation to-day, it 
would seem he expects no embarrassment from France. 
Without any distinct and explicit committal on the "Re- 
construction" question, he means, in Cabinet, to be under- 
stood as with the President, and Sumner so understands. 
His man Raymond went off at first with Stevens and the 
Radicals, but after having been harnessed in that team, he 
has jumped out of the traces. Interest, patronage, Seward's 
influence have caused this facing about and may compel 
him to act with the Administration; but he is unreliable. 
I have so told the President, yet I am glad to have him 
move in the right direction. 
I submitted Semmes's case again in Cabinet. Told the 



1865] TALK WITH SENATOR DIXON 407 

President he was here, and had some conversation, general 
in its character, as to what should be done with him, with- 
out any other indication than approval, but no suggestion. 

December 30, Saturday. The closing-up of the year, an 
eventful one. A review of it from my standpoint would be 
interesting in many respects, and, should God grant me 
length of days and mental and physical strength, I shall be 
glad to present my views when my official days have term- 
inated. Senator Dixon called this morning, and we had a 
long and frank talk. I approved of his course in the Senate, 
and his reply to Sumner. He is evidently prepared for a 
breach in the party, and I think desires it. While I do not 
desire it, I do not deprecate it if the counsels of Sumner, 
Stevens, and the extreme Radicals are insisted upon and the 
only alternative. His principal inquiry was as to the course 
our friends in Connecticut would pursue in case of a breach 
of the party. I told him I thought they would be disposed 
to stand by the Administration, yet at the first go-off the 
Radical element might have the ascendancy in the State 
convention, which would assemble in about a month. But 
before that time the lines would probably be drawn. The 
organization or party machinery will control most of the 
party, irrespective of the merits of the questions in issue. 

I gave Colston, Semmes's son-in-law, a pass to visit him 
to-day, and take the papers and the report of Winslow to 
him. Had a conversation with Dr. Lieber, who was at my 
house yesterday, respecting Semmes's offenses. The Doctor 
has no question on that point, and thinks Lee and the 
whole of his army liable for treason, notwithstanding 
Grant's terms. Advised Solicitor Bolles to call on Dr. L. 
Bolles thinks the trial of Semmes should be by a military 
or naval commission instead of by court martial. 

The President sends a singular paper for a new trial of 
Captain Meade, who has already been tried and is under 

r>o rvf pmivf. mQ.rf.ia.l T Irnnw nnf. Vinw VIA <mr VP 



XXXIV 

The President's New Year Reception Death of Henry Winter Davis 
Seward off to the West Indies General Webb and Louis Napoleon 
The Charges against Semmes The Shenandoah Case Congress 
seems disposed to open War on the President An Animated Conversa- 
tion with Sumner Assistant Secretary Fox to resign his Position 
The Case of Naval Constructor Hoover Another Call from Sumner 
The Semmes Case Social Calls from former Secessionist Sympathizers 
Henry Wilson on the Question of a Break in the Party. 

January 1, 1866, Monday. Made complimentary call 
with my family on the President at 11 A.M. By special 
request I went some fifteen minutes before the time speci- 
fied, but there were sixty or eighty carriages in advance of 
us. The persons who got up the programme were evid- 
ently wholly unfit for the business. Instead of giving the 
first half-hour to the Cabinet and the several legations, and 
then to Army and Navy officers, Members of Congress, 
etc., in succession, numbers, including Members of Con- 
gress, and they embrace everybody, all the members 
of their respective boarding-houses, all their acquaint- 
ances, immediate and remote, who were in Washington, 
were there at an early hour. Consequently there was 
neither order nor system. After a delay of about twenty 
minutes we were landed in the Executive Mansion, which 
was already filled to overflowing in the hall and ante- 
rooms. While moving in the crowd, near the entrance to 
the Red Room, some of the officials signed to us and threw 
open the door to the Blue Room, or reception-room, which 
we entered, much relieved; but on turning, we found the 
President and his family immediately behind us. The 
affair passed off very well. A great want of order and sys- 
tem prevails on these occasions, owing to the ignorance and 
want of order of the marshal. No one having any concep- 
tion of discipline or forethought directs or counsels those 



1866] DEATH OF HENRY WINTER DAVIS 409 

in charge. We left in a very short time, and the company 
began to flock in upon us at our house before twelve, and 
until past four a pretty steady stream came and went, 
naval and army officers, foreign ministers, Senators and 
Representatives, bureau officers and clerks, civilians and 
strangers. Pleasant but fatiguing, and the day was murky 
and the roads intolerable. 

Mr. Seward left on Saturday. The rest of the members 
received, as did many other officials. 

Henry Winter Davis, a conspicuous Member of the last 
Congress and a Maryland politician of notoriety, died on 
Saturday. He was eloquent, possessed genius, had ac- 
quirements, was eccentric, ambitious, unreliable, and 
greatly given to intrigue. In politics he was a centralist, 
regardless of constitutional limitations. I do not consider 
his death a great public loss. He was restless and active, 
but not useful. Still there will be a class of extreme Radi- 
cals who will deplore his death as a calamity and eulogize 
his memory. 

When at the Executive Mansion the memory of the late 
President crowded upon my mind. He would have enjoyed 
the day, which was so much in contrast with all those he 
had experienced during his presidency. 

January 2, Tuesday. Neither Seward nor Stanton was at 
Cabinet council. Seward is on his way to the West Indies, 
Gulf, etc. He wishes to be absent until the issues are fully 
made up and the way is clear for him what course to take. 
There maybe other objects, but this is the chief. The talk 
about his health is ridiculous. He is as well as he has been 
at any time for five years. Stanton had no occasion to be 
present. Some discussion as to whether the State of Louis- 
iana is entitled to cotton bought by the Rebel organization 
or government. Dennison and myself had a free talk with 
the President after the others left. Although usually reti- 
cent, he at times speaks out, and he expressed himself em- 
phatically to-day. The manner in which things had been 



410 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 2 

got up by the Radicals before the session he commented 
upon. "This little fellow [Coif ax] shoved in here to make a 
speech in advance of the message, and to give out that the 
principle enunciated in his speech was the true policy of the 
country/' were matters alluded to with sharpness, as were 
the whole preconcerted measures of the Radicals. " I do not 
hear that the colored people called or were invited to visit 
Sumner or Wilson/' said the President, "but they came 
here and were civilly treated." 

January 3, Wednesday. General James Watson Webb 
called on me. He has been laid up by the gout at his son- 
in-law's, Major Benton's, house. He came home from 
Brazil via Paris, saw Louis Napoleon, dined with him, gave 
him good advice, wants to get out of Mexico, etc., etc. Has 
communicated to the President the Emperor's feelings and 
wishes. No doubt he saw Louis Napoleon, with whom he 
had a close acquaintance when that dignitary wanted 
friends and perhaps a dinner. It is creditable to him 
that he is not ungrateful to Webb. 

Colonel Bolles, Solicitor and Judge Advocate, desires to 
prefer a number of charges against Semmes, and has, I 
fear, more thought of making a figure than of the point I 
wish presented; that is, a breach of parole, bad faith, viola- 
tion of the usages of war in the surrender and escape from 
the Alabama. That he and a million of others have been 
guilty of treason there is no doubt; that he ran the block- 
ade, burnt ships after a semi-piratical fashion there is no 
doubt; so have others been guilty of these things, and I do 
not care to select and try Semmes on these points, though 
perhaps the most guilty. 

January 4, Thursday. The messages of the Governors 
and other indications favor the conciliatory policy of the 
Administration rather than the persecuting spirit of Ste- 
vens and other extreme Radicals. These latter are hesitating 
and apparently moderating their tone. They commenced 



1866] THE SHENANDOAH CASE 411 

with too strong a purchase. Sumner, I am told, is ex- 
tremely violent, and I hear of some others. They are gen- 
erally men that will not yield a hobby or theory, and I 
therefore doubt if they can be toned down and made 
reasonable. 

January 5, Friday. I submitted the two cases, one of 
Judge Wayne for money due his granddaughter, and one 
of Mallory for a cylinder, to the Cabinet. The parties 
claim the first money due, and the last property seized by 
the Rebels and recaptured by the Union forces. All 
seemed united in the opinion that no action could be taken 
in behalf of these and similar claims at present. 

Mr. Seward being absent, Mr. Hunter, who is Acting 
Secretary of State, stated that there was some embarrass- 
ment in regard to the Shenandoah. Both the State and the 
Treasury Departments appear to have been anxious to get 
possession of this vessel, but they are much more anxious 
to get rid of her. Dudley, consul at Liverpool, undertook 
to send her to the United States by a captain and picked- 
up crew, but after proceeding about six hundred miles and 
encountering rough weather she returned. Seward sent 
me word, a few hours before he left, with Dudley's dis- 
patch that the vessel was on his (D.'s) hands, that he had 
sent to Admiral Goldsborough for an officer and crew to 
navigate her, but if the Admiral declined, he desired that 
I should send out the necessary force to England. This I 
did not feel inclined to do, but told him we would receive 
her here when delivered. Hunter now brings up the ques- 
tion in Cabinet, and advises that the vessel remain in 
Liverpool until after the vernal equinox, unless the Navy 
Department would receive her in Liverpool. Stanton 
thought this the proper course, and that I should send out 
for her. This suggestion I was satisfied came from Seward, 
who had turned the subject over to him before leaving. I 
incline to think she had best be sold for what she will bring 
in Liverpool. 



412 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 5 

An effort to procure the pardon of K , a swindler 

now in Sing Sing, was made through McCulloeh. But on 
learning the nature of the case he at once dropped it. The 
President sends, making inquiry concerning Hale, prisoner 
in Philadelphia, and Wetmore in Boston. The first is one 
of a nest of swindlers and thieves, of whom Pasco, just 
pardoned by the President, was chief; the second swindled 
men under him, or was guilty of a breach of trust like 
Marston, whom the President also pardoned. 

January 8. The Members of Congress since their return 
appear more disposed to avoid open war with the Pre- 
sident, but yet are under the discipline of party, which is 
cunningly kept up with almost despotic power. I am con- 
fident that many of those who are claimed as Republicans, 
and who are such, are voting against their convictions, but 
they have not the courage and independence to shake off 
the tyranny of party and maintain what they know to be 
right. The President and the Radical leaders are not yet 
in direct conflict, but I see not how it is to be avoided. 
When the encounter takes place there will be those who 
have voted with the Radicals, who will then probably go 
with the President, or wish to do so. This the leaders 
understand, and it is their policy to get as many committed 
as possible, and to get them repeatedly committed by test 
votes. Williams of Pittsburg, a revolutionary and whiskey- 
drinking leader, introduced a resolution to-day that the 
military should not be withdrawn, but retained until Con- 
gress, not the President, should order their discharge. This 
usurpation of the Executive prerogative by Congress is 
purposely offensive, known to be such, yet almost every 
Republican voted for it in the House. The Representatives 
who doubted and were opposed dare not vote against it. 
While thus infringing on the rights of the Executive, the 
Radical leaders studiously claim that they are supporting 
the President, and actually have most of his appointees 
with them. Were the President to assert his power and to 



1866] ESTIMATE OF WILLIAM D. KELLEY 413 

exercise it, many of those who now follow Sunmer and 
Stevens would hesitate, for the home officials are neces- 
sary to their own party standing. The President will sooner 
or later have to meet this question squarely, and have a 
square and probably a fierce fight with these men. Seward 
expects but deprecates it, and has fled to escape respons- 
ibility. 

January 9, Tuesday. The Freedmen's Bureau wants 
three Jboats which are on the Tombigbee. They were 
blockade-runners which were ordered to be turned over to 
the Navy, but they are not naval captures. The Freedmen's 
Bureau has no funds. This is an indirect way of obtaining 
means, as wrong as the Bureau scheme itself. I think it 
would be better to go direct to Congress for money. If, 
however, the President rescinds the order turning over 
those boats, the Navy Department cannot interfere or 
object. The boats are strictly abandoned property and 
fall within the scope of the Treasury. The last three days 
have been severely cold. 

January 10, Wednesday. Judge Kelley had a long inter- 
view with me to-day. Asks for favors that cannot be 
granted. Advised him that the attempts to give the Navy 
Yard a party character exclusively were injudicious, and 
he assented. We talked of various matters. Kelley is earnest, 
with aspirations, as have most active politicians; has de- 
termination and zeal, but not profound or correct ideas; 
does not possess influence to a great degree, and will never 
be a man of mark. I think him a better man than many 
others, but yet not always safe or sound. 

Judge Blair called this P.M., and his views and positions 
are diametrically opposed to those of Kelley. But if less 
demonstrative, he is more profound and has vastly greater 
qualities, and grasp and comprehension. Better under- 
stands men. Is more of a statesman and more of a politi- 
cian, and by politician I do not mean party demagogue, 



Blair believes a rupture inevitable, and thinks the President 
is wise in delaying the conflict. Therein I think he is mis- 
taken. He attributes Williams's move to Stanton, who he 
avers is intriguing, and he thinks there is a cloud between 
Stanton and the President. It would be well if there was a 
wall between them. 

January 12, Friday. Nothing very particularly interest- 
ing to-day in Cabinet. Stanton said he was to introduce 
some persons to the President and had appointed soon 
after 1 P.M. for the purpose. This was a play. Mr. Cox, a 
Rebel of Georgetown, fled South at the beginning of the 
Rebellion, leaving his fine residence. This was taken and 
used as a school for colored children. Cox has now re- 
turned and wants his house, demands it. The charitable 
occupants, who are filled with benevolence for the negro, 
are unwilling to relinquish the house, which is very valu- 
able, to the owner. Some of those who have the matter in 
charge went to Stanton, who said it would be necessary to 
apply to the President. He consented to introduce them, 
but suggested that a formidable array of ladies whose hus- 
bands occupy prominent positions, such as the wives of 
Senators and members of the Cabinet, [would be effective.] 
Mrs. Senators Trumbull, Morgan, Wilson, Pomeroy, etc., 
Mrs. McCulloch, Stanton, Harlan, etc., were of the num- 
ber. Mrs. Welles was appealed to, but sensibly concluded, 
as she had no fact to communicate, that she would dis- 
charge her duty best by remaining away, and leaving the 
President to form his decision without annoyance from 
those who could not aid him. To this assemblage of ladies, 
and for the purpose, robbing a man of his dwelling, 
Stanton performed the part of usher. 

January 13, Saturday. I had this P.M. quite an animated 
talk with Senator Sumner. He called on me in relation to 
Semmes. Wished him to be tried on various important 



1866] CONVERSATION WITH SUMNER 415 

points which would bring out the legal status, not only of 
the Rebels, but their cause. He thinks that many of the 
important points which we have from tune to time dis- 
cussed, and on which we have generally agreed, might be 
passed upon by a commission. I am not, however, in- 
clined to make the trial so broad. 

Passing from this, we got on to the question of Recon- 
struction. I was anxious to get an inside view of the move- 
ments and purposes of the Radicals, and in order to do this, 
it would not do to put questions direct to Sumner,for then 
he would put himself on his guard, and be close-mouthed. 
I therefore entered into a discussion, and soon got him 
much interested, not to call it excited. We went over the 
ground of the status of the States, their political condi- 
tion. Pie, condemning unqualifiedly the policy of the Pre- 
sident, said, while he would not denounce it as the greatest 
crime ever committed by a responsible ruler, he did pro- 
claim and declare it the greatest mistake which history has 
ever recorded. The President, he said, was the greatest 
enemy of the South that she had ever had, worse than Jeff 
Davis ; and the evil which he had inflicted upon the country 
was incalculable. All was to be done over again, and done 
right. Congress, he says, is becoming more firm and united 
every day. Only three of the Republican Senators Doo- 
little, Dixon, and Cowan had given way, and he under- 
stood about a like proportion in the House. Asked if I 
had read Howe's 1 speech, which Foot and Fessenden in- 
dorsed. Understood Fessenden was as decided as Foot, but, 
not being on speaking terms, had not himself heard Fessen- 
den. All Congress was becoming of one mind, and while 
they would commence no war upon the President, he must 
change his course, abandon his policy. The President had 
violated the Constitution in appointing provisional gov- 
ernors, in putting Rebels in office who could not take the 
test oath, in reestablishing rebellion, odious, flagrant rebel- 
lion. Said he had three pages from one general in Arkansas, 

1 Timothy Otis Howe, Senator from Wisconsin. 



' ' whitewashing ' ' message. 

I told him the Executive had rights and duties as well as 
Congress, and that they must not be overlooked or 
omitted. That the Rebel States had an existence and 
would be recognized and sustained although their func- 
tions were for a time suspended by violence. That under 
military necessity, martial law existing and the President 
being commander-in-chief , provisional governors had been 
temporarily appointed, but the necessity which impelled 
their appointment was passing away, the States were re- 
suming their position in the Union, and I did not see how, 
without abandoning our system of constitutional govern- 
ment, they were to be disorganized, or unorganized, and 
deprived of their local civil government and the voice of 
the people suppressed. That he spoke of them as a " con- 
quered people," subject to terms which it was our duty to 
impose. Were his assumption true, and they a foreign con- 
quered people, instead of our own countrymen, still they 
had their rights, were amenable to our laws and entitled to 
their protection; modern civilization would not permit of 
their enslavement. That were we to conquer Canada and 
bring it within our jurisdiction, the people would retain 
their laws and usages when they were not inconsistent with 
our own, until at least we should make a change. That I 
thought our countrymen were entitled to as much consid- 
eration as the laws of nations and the practice of our own 
government had and did recognize as belonging to a con- 
quered people who were aliens. That this was the policy 
of the President. He had enjoined upon them, it was true, 
the necessity of making their constitutions and laws con- 
form to the existing condition of affairs and the changes 
which war had brought about. They had done so, and were 
each exercising all the functions of a State. Had their gov- 
ernors, legislatures, judges, local municipal authorities, etc. 
We were collecting taxes of them, appointing collectors, 
assessors, marshals, postmasters, etc. 



1866] CONVERSATION WITH SUMNER 417 

I saw I had touched on some views that impressed him, 
and our interview and discussion became exceedingly ani- 
mated. 

"The President, in his atrocious wrong," said Sumner, 
"is sustained by three of his Cabinet. Seward is as thick- 
and-thin a supporter of the whole monstrous error as you 
orMcCulloch." 

I asked him if he supposed the Cabinet was not a unit on 
the President's policy. He said he knew it was not. Three 
of the members concurred with him (Sumner) fully, en- 
tirely. 

I expressed doubts. "Why," said he, "one of them has 
advised and urged me to prepare and bring in a bill which 
should control the action of the President and wipe out his 
policy. It has got to be done. Half of the Cabinet, as well 
as an overwhelming majority of the two houses of Con- 
gress, are for it, and the President must change his whole 
course." If he did not do it, Congress would. 

January 15, Monday. Was much disturbed by what 
Sumner said in regard to a member of the Cabinet who had 
urged him to bring in a bill adverse to the President's pol- 
icy. Sumner is truthful and therefore his statement is re- 
liable. Although he is credulous, I cannot think he was 
deceived, nor is he practicing deception. I started out last 
evening, thinking I would see the President on this sub- 
ject, but stopped and talked over the matter with Gov- 
ernor Dennison, who proposed to go with me some evening 
this week. 

January 16, Tuesday. Told Mr. Hunter that it would be 
best to turn over the Shenandoah to the Secretary of the 
Treasury as abandoned property, and let Consul Dudley 
sell her in Liverpool. McCulloch says he has no agent 
there, but Dudley can do the work. I do not wish to be 
mixed up with the Anglo-Rebel affairs of this vessel. 



418 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 17 

January 17, Wednesday. Mr. Fox, the Assistant Secre- 
tary of the Navy, informed me some days since of an offer 
which he had for the presidency of the new steamboat line 
about to be established between New York and San Fran- 
cisco. I regret to lose him from the Department, where, 
notwithstanding some peculiarities which have caused dis- 
satisfaction with a few, he is of almost invaluable service, 
and he has in him a great amount of labor. He has a com- 
bination of nautical intelligence and common sense such 
as can hardly be found in another, and we have worked 
together with entire harmony, never in a single instance 
having had a misunderstanding. I have usually found his 
opinions sensible and sound. When I have had occasion to 
overrule his opinions, he has acquiesced with a readiness 
and deference which won my regard. His place I cannot 
make good in some respects. Faxon, Chief Clerk, would be 
as great a loss to me, in some particulars greater, but 
there are certain subjects wherein Fox, from his naval ex- 
perience, is superior to any man who can be readily found. 

January 27. My letter to the Naval Committee in rela- 
tion to the contract of Paul S. Forbes for the Idaho has 
disturbed certain parties. It interposes pretty decisive ob- 
jections against lobby intrigues and deviations from the 
contract. Certain party men wish to be considered econo- 
mists, and yet would be glad to pay Forbes a few hundred 
thousand dollars more than the contract price. They would 
be glad to censure the Department, but find they cannot do 
this and occupy an economical position. Forbes acts 
stupidly. His vessel is likely to prove a failure. He can- 
not build her and complete her on his own offer. He has 
proved himself less sagacious and less capable than he had 
the reputation of being, or than he himself supposed he 
was, but yet makes no admission of error and failure. 

Forney 1 and the Union Representatives of Philadel- 
phia have appealed to me to reinstate Hoover, the Naval 

1 John W. Forney, Secretary of the Senate. 



1866] THE CASE OF HOOVER 419 

Constructor, whom they pronounce an honest man, etc., 
backed by a formidable list of names. I wrote Forney that 
Hoover had been guilty of accepting bribes and that I 
could not give him my confidence, and requested him to 
so inform his associates. He answers in an apologetic letter 
and promises to be more careful in future. I saw him at 
one of McCulloch's receptions, and told him the corre- 
spondence ought to be published in order to set the Depart- 
ment right. He assented and said he would publish it with 
his last letter if I had no objection. I assented and sent 
him the correspondence and after a day or two he writes 
that he has consulted with the Union Representatives and 
concluded the disclosure was not best. In reply, I state 
that if I rightly understan4 them, they ,wish to have the 
Philadelphia public remain ignorant of the facts, and con- 
tinue to believe the Department oppressive. Differing with 
them, I ask a return of the correspondence. 

January 30. I had another long talk with Senator Sum- 
ner, who called on me on Saturday. It was of much the 
same purport as heretofore. He is pleased with a speech 
of Secretary Harlan, made the preceding evening, which I 
had not then read, and said it came up to the full measure 
of his requirements. "Then," said I, "he probably is that 
member of the Cabinet who has been urging you to bring 
in a bill to counteract the President's policy." "No," said 
Sumner, "it was not Harlan but another member. There 
are," continued he, "four members of the Cabinet who are 
with us and against the President." "Then," replied I, 
"you must include Seward." This he promptly disclaimed. 
I told him he must not count Dennison. He was taken 
aback. "If you knowfrom D.'s own mouth, have it from 
himself, I will not dispute the point," said Sumner. I 
told him I knew D.'s views, that last spring he had, at the 
first suggestion, expressed himself for negro suffrage, but 
that he had on reflection and examination come fully into 
the President's views. He replied that he had known 



420 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 30 

D.'s original position and had supposed it remained un- 
changed. Sumner told me he should make a very thorough 
speech this week on the great question the treatment 
of the States and people of the South but should avoid 
any attack on the President; would not be personal. Tells 
me that Governor Hamilton of Texas has written him im- 
ploring him to persevere. 

I am afraid the President has not always been fortunate 
in his selection of men. Either Hamilton is a hypocrite or 
there is a bad condition of things in Texas. The entire 
South seem to be stupid and vindictive, know not their 
friends, and are pursuing just the course which their op- 
ponents, the Radicals, desire. I fear a terrible ordeal awaits 
them in the future. Misfortune and adversity have not 
impressed them. 

Have had much canvassing and discussion of Semmes's 
case with Solicitor Bolles, Mr. Eames, Fox, and others, 
and to-day took the papers to the Cabinet. When I men- 
tioned the purport of the documents, which were somewhat 
voluminous, the President proposed that he and I should 
examine them together before submitting them to the 
Cabinet and thus save time. After going over the papers 
with him, he expressed a desire to leave the whole subject 
in my hands to dispose of as I saw proper. I remarked that 
the questions involved were so important that I preferred 
the course taken should be strictly administrative, and I 
wished to have the best authority, and careful and deliber- 
ate consideration and conclusion. The offenses charged 
being violation of the laws of war, I thought our action 
should be intelligent and certain. The President said he 
had confidence in my judgment and discretion, inquired 
why a purely naval court martial could not dispose of the 
subject. He exhibited a strong disinclination to commit 
the case to the military, and was more pointed and direct 
on that subject than I have before witnessed. He requested 
me to take the papers and consult such persons as I pleased 
and report in due time. 



1866] NEW SOCIAL RELATIONS 421 

We had some general conversation on the tone and tem- 
per of Congress and the country. The President is satis- 
fied that his policy is correct, and is, I think, very firm in 
his convictions and intentions to maintain it. The 
Radicals who are active and violent are just as determined 
to resent it. 

I took occasion to repeat what I have several times urged, 
the public enunciation of his purpose, and at the proper 
time, and as early as convenient or as there was an oppor- 
tunity, to show by some distinct and emphatic act his in- 
tention to maintain and carry into effect his administrative 
policy. That while a conflict or division was not sought but 
avoided, there should be no uncertainty, yet a demonstra- 
tion which should leave no doubt as to his determination. 
On this we concurred. 

January 31. The new shape of affairs shows itself in 
the social gatherings. At Mrs. Welles's reception to-day, a 
large number of the denizens of Washington who have not 
heretofore been visitors and whose sympathies and former 
associations were with the Rebels called. So many who 
have been distant and reserved were present as to excite 
her suspicions, and lead her to ask if I was not conceding too 
much. These new social friends are evidently aware of ex- 
isting differences in the Administration. I noticed at the 
reception at the Executive Mansion last evening the fact 
that there was a number in attendance as if by preconcert. 
This I attribute more to the insane folly of the Radicals, 
who under Thad Stevens are making assaults on the Pre- 
sident, than to any encouragement which the President has 
given to Rebel sympathizers. If professed friends prove 
false and attack him, he will not be likely to repel such 
friends as sustain him. I certainly will not. 

While at a party at Senator Harris's, Senator Wilson took 
me one side and inquired if we were to have a break in the 
party. I told him I saw no necessity for it. The President 
was honest and sincere in his policy; it has been adopted 



422 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JAN. 31 

with care and great deliberation, and I thought intelli- 
gently. I knew it to be with right intentions. If any con- 
siderable number of our friends were resolved to oppose the 
President and the policy of the Administration a division 
would be unavoidable. He could not abandon his convic- 
tions to gratify mere factious schemers. 

We then got on the subject of the recently published let- 
ter of a " conversation between the President and a dis- 
tinguished Senator," in which there were indications that 
the President would not go for unlimited negro suffrage in 
the District. Wilson inquired what course the President 
would be likely to pursue. I told him I was unable to 
answer that question, except as he would, from a general 
knowledge of the President's opinions on fundamental 
questions. He would be disposed to have the people of the 
District exercise the same rights in this regard as the people 
of the States. 



XXXV 

A Mixed Commission proposed to try Semmes Judge-Advocate-General 
Holt Party Politics and Reconstruction The Democratic Conven- 
tion in Connecticut Welles's Part in the Organization of the Demo- 
cratic Party in Connecticut The Naval Appropriation Bill Sumner 
makes his Weekly Call Bancroft's Oration on the Death of Lincoln 
The Freedmen'e Bureau Bill The President's View of the Revolu- 
tionary Intentions of the Radicals The Republican Convention in 
Connecticut Cabinet Discussion of the President's Veto of the 
Freedmen's Bureau Bill The Senate sustains the Veto Thaddeus 
Stevens and the Tennessee Delegation Memorial Meeting in Honor 
of Henry Winter Davis The President's Speech on the Veto A 
Design to attempt Impeachment of the President. 

February 1. Colonel Bolles and Eames have prepared an 
order for the President to sign for a mixed commission to try 
Semmes. I took it to the President this P.M. He expressed 
himself strongly against a military trial or military control. 
Wished the Navy to keep the case in its own hands. Said he 
wished to put no more in Holt's control than was ab- 
solutely necessary; that Holt was cruel and remorseless, 
made so perhaps by his employment and investigations; 
that his tendencies and conclusions were very bloody. The 
President said he had a large number of Holt's decisions 
now pointing to the desk which he disliked to take up; 
that all which came from that quarter partook of the traits 
of Nero and Draco. I have never heard him express himself 
so decidedly in regard to Holt, but have on one or two pre- 
vious occasions perceived that his confidence in the Judge- 
Advocate-General was shaken. 

I long since was aware that Holt was severe and unre- 
lenting, and am further compelled to think that, with a 
good deal of mental vigor and strength as a writer, he has 
strange weaknesses. He is credulous and often the dupe 
of his own imaginings. Believes men guilty on shadowy 
suspicions, and is ready to condemn them without trial. 



424 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 

Stanton has sometimes brought forward singular pape 
relating to conspiracies, and dark and murderous desigi 
in which he had evident faith, and Holt has assured hi: 
in his suspicions. 

I am glad that the President does not consider him ii 
fallible, and that he is guarded against the worst trait 
the others will develop themselves, if they have n< 
already. 

I stated to the President that I would not advise 
military, naval, or mixed commission to try Semmes f< 
treason or piracy, for the civil tribunals had cognizance < 
those offenses. But if he had violated the laws of war f< 
which he could not be arraigned in court, there was pe 
haps a necessity that we should act through a commissio: 
He realized the distinction and the propriety of acting ar 
wished me to bring the subject before the full Cabinet. 

One of my troubles in the matter of the charges ai 
specifications has been to limit our action to violations 
the law of war. The lawyers who have it in charge, esp 
cially Colonel Bolles, are for embracing a wider range. I 
wishes to figure in the case. 

Senator Dixon gave me to-day a slip from the N( 
Haven Courier, written by Babcock, the Collector, takii 
issue with Deming in his late speech. Babcock sustains tl 
policy of the President, and his article is very creditabl 
Dixon wished me to write him and says McCulloch will < 
so. I wish some of our more reliable friends would have tl 
sagacity and determination to do this subject justice. 

February 2, Friday. I think the President, though cal 
and reticent, exhibits indications of not being fully sat] 
fied in some respects with the conduct and course of sor 
in whom he has confided; yet he carefully abstains fro 
remarks respecting persons. There can be no doubt th 
Stanton has given certain of the leading Radicals to und* 
stand that his views correspond with theirs, but I do n 
know that the President is fully aware of that fact. Se 1 



1866] POLITICS AND RECONSTRUCTION 425 

ard, while he says nothing very decisively, leaves no doubt 
that he coincides in the general policy of the President. 
Harlan made a singular speech to the Iowa Radicals a 
week ago, but has written an explanatory letter which is no 
explanation. I have no doubt that Dennison is sincerely 
with the President and means to sustain his measures, yet 
he makes visible, without intending it, his apprehension 
that by this policy the Democrats may get a controlling 
influence. In this he is not singular, for many of the lead- 
ing Radicals, especially those of Whig antecedents, have 
similar apprehensions and are afraid to trust the people. 
Having power, they do not scruple at means to retain it. 
The truth is the Radical leaders in Congress openly and 
secretly have labored to defeat the President, and their 
hostility has engendered a distrust in their own minds, and 
caused fairer men, like Dennison, to have fears that the 
President might identify himself with the Democrats. 
This subject gives me no uneasiness whatever. I shall not 
be surprised if the extreme men become alienated, but 
their abandonment of the President will, under the work- 
ing of our system of intelligent free thought and action, 
make room for the more reasonable and calculating of the 
opposition, if met with intelligent candor and determina- 
tion. He will naturally feel kindly disposed towards those 
who sustain him and his measures, and will not be likely to 
give his confidence to those who oppose both. 1 

1 The President was at this time greatly embarrassed by the advice and 
suggestions of Mr. Seward, who, though personally friendly to the President 
and the Administration, was himself so much of a party man, and so much 
under the influence of extreme partisans, as to be governed rather by party 
than by country. It was the aim and object of his New York friends to keep 
alive party distinctions created by Secession and the War, and to throw the 
power of the Administration into the Republican, or, in other words, Radical, 
hands. New York is. a great State and has local controversies of its own, 
independent of the Federal Government, but the centralists could not secure 
and hold the ascendancy there except by the aid of the Federal Govern- 
ment. The New York politicians had, therefore, a double part to play, and 
Mr. Seward was their agent to effect their purpose. Whilst Thad Stevens 
and the extreme Radicals were making war on the Executive, it was im- 
portant for the New-Yorkers, and indeed for men of similar views in other 



426 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 5 

February 5, Monday. I wrote Calvin Day a general let- 
ter on the condition of affairs. What are his views and 
opinions I know not. His usual good sense leads me to hope 
he is correct, yet his feelings are very decided, perhaps, 
like others, unrelenting, against the Rebels. He can, I 
think, have no confidence in, or respect for, Stevens, but 
his sentiments in regard to Dixon are not more favorable. 
The papers in Connecticut have most of them launched 
off with the Radicals, especially those with which he is asso- 
ciated. I did not wish to intermeddle or even to express an 
opinion on the eve of the nominating convention or the 
elections, but there seemed a duty to counsel an old friend 
whose prejudices are strong. Whether he will heed what I 
have written remains to be seen. 

States not to break immediately with the President, but to use the power 
and patronage of the Executive to promote their own ends. He had been 
elected by them, and Mr. Seward urged that he should not neglect them, 
even if they disagreed with him, for he insisted that the Democrats, al- 
though their views were with him on present questions, were opposed to 
him and his Administration. Party before country was inculcated by both 
Radicals and Democrats. The President had in the past as in the pre- 
sent placed country above party, and was consequently not a favorite with 
either. 

Almost all the members of the Cabinet were strict party men and were 
subjected to severe discipline in those days. Without an exception they 
approved the principles and assented to the opinions and purposes of the 
President, but it was soon given out that they must conform to the theory 
and doctrines of Thad Stevens if they designed to preserve their Republican 
Party identity. Congress was the supreme department of the Government 
and must be recognized as the supreme power. Members of Congress must 
be permitted to exercise executive duties. The legislative department must 
control the action of the Government, prescribe its policy, its measures, and 
dictate appointments to the executive, or subordinate, department. Most 
of the members of the Cabinet acquiesced or submitted to the usurpation. 
No appointments or nominations to office made by the Executive, who was 
bound to see the laws executed, were confirmed by the Senate, except the 
nominees were first recommended or indorsed by Radical Members of Con- 
gress. Some of the Cabinet under these circumstances surrendered and 
made terms. 

Mr. Seward advised that there should be compromise and concession. 
The President, unwilling to break with those who elected him, yielded and 
failed to make a stand and appeal to his countrymen for support. As a con- 
sequence, the unscrupulous Radicals wielded the government in all its 
departments. G. W. 



1866] THE PARTIES IN CONNECTICUT 427 

February 6, Tuesday. Seward read a letter in regard to 
the Shenandoah, expressing my views and adopting my 
suggestions and almost my language. The city is full of 
visitors, and Washington is gay with parties. Attended 
reception at the Executive Mansion and afterward called 
on Sir Frederick Bruce and his niece Lady Elma Thurlow. 
Met at each [place] Madame La Verte (and daughter), of 
Mobile, who is making demonstration here and writing, I 
am told, a South-side view of the Rebellion. I met her here 
nearly forty years ago, then Miss Wharton, a gay and 
intelligent young lady. 

February 7, Wednesday. The Democratic Party, as it 
calls itself, held yesterday its convention in Connecticut, 
and the nomination of Governor as well as the resolutions 
adopted exhibit more sense and patriotism than has been 
shown for years. Mr. English, the candidate for Governor, 
was a useful Member of Congress of enlarged and liberal 
views, who was not in his votes controlled strictly by 
party, herein differing widely from a class of narrow and 
pig-headed party leaders who have been a discredit to the 
State. In no State has mere partyism shown itself during 
the War to greater disadvantage than in Connecticut. 
Party and party organizations rose above country, or 
duty. In fact, party was a substitute for country. Ad- 
versity has taught them wisdom, yet the leaders are most 
of them short-sighted and narrow-minded, incapable of 
comprehending the true "principles of government or 
of foreseeing results. Instead of considering how questions 
will affect the country, free institutions, or the cause of 
human rights and justice, the whole aim, study, and pur- 
pose have been to get a party ascendancy, power, and the 
patronage of office. With them party is the end, not 
the means. 

The organization of the Democratic Party of Connecti- 
cut has been, perhaps, the most efficient and effectual of 
any party in any State. Whatever of good or evil it may 



428 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB.? 

have had, I, probably beyond any other person, am respons- 
ible for. When in 1826 I took charge of the Times and ad- 
vocated Jackson's election, there was no systematic party 
organization nor much interest manifested in political prin- 
ciples on national subjects, nor much concerted political 
action hi the State. Few, comparatively, attended the 
polls. There were, it is true, the more intelligent and at 
the same tune the old contending partisans in the State. 
Disagreeing and contending among themselves, they 
nevertheless each hated Jackson. Embittered local con- 
troversies affecting the State had for several years ab- 
sorbed general questions. 

February 8. Neither of the feeble organizations dis- 
cussed or professed much regard for any of those funda- 
mental principles which had created and previously influ- 
enced parties, or which were then again just looming up 
above the horizon. The Federalists had been beaten in 1818 
and felt that they deserved it, but they had always until 
then been in the ascendant and wielded the power of the 
State, and still desired most earnestly to do so. The Re- 
publicans of those days were held in subjection and had 
great deference for the Federal dignitaries. Scarcely one of 
the leaders possessed independence and strength of char- 
acter sufficient to firmly resist the well-organized dominant 
party and form and avow individual opinion. The mass 
or body of the people were patriotic, but, under ecclesias- 
tical as much as political ruling, had little zeal or devotion 
for parties or leaders. This was the condition of things 
when I came upon the stage of action, full of enthusiasm 
and earnest work, and commenced the labor of bringing 
together the minds which sympathized and agreed with 
me. Very few of the prominent men came into the fold, 
and such as did were most of them disappointed and disaf- 
fected men. Some aspiring individuals whispered encour- 
agement, but kept out of sight. By letters, by private cor- 
respondence and personal interviews with the people, by 



1866] THE PARTIES IN CONNECTICUT 429 

ascertaining names of men in different towns and localities, 
urging and inviting them to come forward, I laid the foun- 
dation of what was and is known as the Democratic Party 
of Connecticut. John M. Niles aided, and as he was the 
elder man by some years, he was more openly recognized 
as the leader. But Niles had not perseverance and was 
often and easily discouraged. Circumstances favored, and 
though abused, hated, insulted, and at first despised, the 
organization thus commenced, after many trials and re- 
verses, obtained an ascendancy in the State. 

When this became established, the vicious, the corrupt, 
the time-serving, and the unprincipled flocked to us. The 
Seymours, the Ingersolls, the Phelpses, etc., became Demo- 
crats. The organization was thorough, and the discipline 
rigid and severe. Trimmers and mere office-hunters be- 
came jealous and dissatisfied, made secret and sometimes 
open war upon me, were whipped and returned. The drill 
and discipline of twenty years made the organization com- 
pact, and when the Democratic Party of the country in 
1848 became unfaithful in a measure to their principles, 
the discipline of party carried many into a false position. I 
declined to follow the nullifiers, compromisers, and seces- 
sionists, but the organization which I had instituted held 
to party and became perverted. New men who ' ' knew not 
Joseph" controlled the organization. For a time they re- 
tained the ascendancy, but ultimately they broke down, 
and for ten or twelve years they have been in a minority. 
Through the War the leaders have been almost all of them 
hostile to the Administration and malignant against the 
cause of the Union. Some, like English, have risen above 
the trammels of party. 

The ticket, with the exception of English, has not much 
strength, and some bad men are on it. I -am apprehensive 
that the Republicans will not be as judicious in their move- 
ment, will not nominate a better man for Governor nor 
give as hearty an indorsement to the President and his 
policy. 



430 DIAEY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 9 

February 9, Friday. Mr. Seward read a very elaborate 
paper on French affairs, which was under discussion over 
two hours and seemed then not entirely satisfactory. The 
old story as to what Louis Napoleon is going to do was 
repeated. He has 'signified that he will, on receiving an 
assurance from us of non-intervention in Mexico, inform us 
what his arrangements are for withdrawing his troops. I 
thought Seward a little too ready to give an assurance, and 
that he was very little trusted and got very little in return. 

February 10, Saturday. Was last night at a loud-heralded 
and large party given by Marquis Montholon, the French 
Minister. Am inclined to believe there was something 
political as well as social in the demonstration. No similar 
party has been given by the French Minister for five years. 

The Naval Appropriation Bill has been before the House 
this week, when demagogues of small pattern exhibited 
their eminent incapacity and unfitness for legislation. It 
is a misfortune that such persons as Washburne and 
Ingersoll of Illinois and others are intrusted with import- 
ant duties. Important and essential appropriations for 
the navy yards at Norfolk and Pensacola were stricken 
out, because they are in the South; in Boston because it 
is a wealthy- community. Without knowledge, general or 
specific, the petty demagogues manifest their regard for 
the public interest and their economical views, by making 
no appropriations, or as few as possible for the Navy, re- 
gardless of what is essential. "We have now Navy enough 
to thrash England and France," said one of these small 
Representatives in his ignorance; therefore [they] vote no 
more money for navy yards, especially none in the South- 
ern States. 

Sumner made me his usual weekly visit this P.M. He is 
as earnest and confident as ever, probably not without 
reason. Says they are solidifying in Congress and will set 
aside the President's policy. I inquired if he really thought 
Massachusetts could govern Georgia better than Georgia 



could govern herself, for that was the kernel of the 
question: Can the people govern themselves? He could 
not otherwise than say Massachusetts could do better for 
them than they had done for themselves. When I said 
every State and people must form its own laws and gov- 
ernment; that the whole social, industrial, political, and 
civil structure was to be reconstructed in the Slave States; 
that the elements there must work out their own condition, 
and that Massachusetts could not do this for them, he did 
not controvert farther than to say we can instruct them 
and ought to do it, that he had letters showing a dreadful 
state of things South, that the colored people were suffering 
beyond anything they had ever endured in the days of 
slavery. I told him I had little doubt of it; I had expected 
this as the first result of emancipation. Both whites and 
blacks in the Slave States were to pass through a terrible 
ordeal, and it was a most grievous and melancholy thing to 
me to witness the spirit manifested towards the whites of 
the South who were thus afflicted. Left to themselves, they 
have great suffering and hardship, without having their 
troubles increased by any oppressive acts from abroad. 

February 12, Monday. Mr. Bancroft has to-day deliv- 
ered his oration on the death of Lincoln. It is the anni- 
versary of his birth, and hence the occasion. The orator, 
or historian, acquitted himself very well. Some things were 
said which would hardly have been expected at such a 
time, particularly some sharp points against England and 
Lord John Russell, which I was not sorry to hear. Both 
the Minister and the Government were bad enemies of ours 
in our troubles; they added to these trials; they made them 
formidable; they intended our ruin. 

February 13, Tuesday. McCulloch asked me yesterday, 
in the President's room in the Capitol, if I had examined 
the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, and when I told him I had not, 
that I had never been partial to the measure, had doubted 



432 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 13 

its expediency, even during the War, but as Congress, the 
Administration, and the country had adopted it, and as I 
had no connection with it, I had little inclination to inter- 
est myself in the matter, he said he wished I would examine 
the bill, and I told him I would, though opposed to that 
system of legislation, and to Government's taking upon it- 
self the care and support of communities. To-day the 
President inquired of me my opinions, or rather said he 
thought there were some extraordinary features in the bill, 
and asked what I thought of them, or of the bill. My reply 
was similar to that I gave McCulloch yesterday. He ex- 
pressed a wish that I would give the bill consideration, for 
he apprehended he should experience difficulty in signing 
it. The bill has not yet reached him. 

Showed the President the finding of the court in the case 
of Meade, who had obtained a new trial and had a little 
severer punishment than in the former case. The President 
thought it would be well not to hurry Semmes's case. Told 
him there were reasons why delay would be acceptable and 
I should prefer it, only I wished it off my hands. But as he 
desired delay we would not hurry the matter. He alluded 
with some feeling to the extraordinary intrigue which he 
understood was going on in Congress, having nothing short 
of a subversion or change in the structure of the govern- 
ment in view. The unmistakable design of Thad Stevens 
and his associates was to take the government into their 
own hands, the President said, and to get rid of him by 
declaring Tennessee out of the Union. A sort of French 
Directory was to be established by these spirits in Con- 
gress, the Constitution was to be remodeled by them, etc. 

February 14, Wednesday. Have examined the bill for the 
Freedmen's Bureau, which is a terrific engine and reads 
more like a decree emanating from despotic power than a 
legislative enactment by republican representatives. I do 
not see how the President can sign it. Certainly I shall not 
advise it. Yet something is necessary for the wretched 



1866] THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU BILL 433 

people who have been emancipated, and who have neither 
intelligence nor means to provide for themselves. In time 
and briefly, if let alone, society will adapt itself to cir- 
cumstances and make circumstances conform to existing 
necessities, but in the mean time there will be suffering, 
misery, wretchedness, nor will it be entirely confined to 
the blacks. 

I am apprehensive that the efforts of our Northern phil- 
anthropists to govern the Southern States will be product- 
ive of evil, that they will generate hatred rather than love 
between the races. This Freedmen's Bureau scheme is a 
governmental enormity. There is a despotic tendency in 
the legislation of this Congress, an evident disposition to 
promote these notions of freedom by despotic and tyran- 
nical means. 

February 15, Thursday. The State Convention yesterday 
appears to have got along better in Connecticut than I ap- 
prehended, yet there is obviously Radical animosity lurking 
and fermenting there which will be likely to show itself 
soon. Among the leaders, most of whom have been impreg- 
nated with Radical views, there is no love for the President 
nor any intention to support his policy. In Hartford they 
detest Dixon and Cleveland, who support the Adminis- 
tration, and they like Hawley, who is much given to the 
negro, but is really well-intentioned and as fair-minded as 
one can be who has been a zealous Abolitionist, and is hope- 
ful of political honors. 

February 16, Friday. After Cabinet-meeting I had an 
interview and pretty free interchange of opinion with the 
President on the Freedmen's Bureau Bill and other sub- 
jects. I expressed myself without reserve, as did the 
President, who acquiesced fully in my views. This being 
the case, I conclude he will place upon it his veto. Indeed, 
he intimated as much. Desired, he said, to have my ideas 
because they might add to his own, etc. 
2 



434 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 

There is an apparent rupturing among the Radicals, 01 
portion of them. They wish to make terms. Will adrr 
the representation from Tennessee if the President w 
yield. But the President cannot yield and sacrifice 1 
honest convictions by way of compromise. 

Truman Smith came to see me yesterday. Says tl 
House wants to get on good terms with the President, ai 
ought to; that the President is right, but it will be well 
let Congress decide when and how the States shall be repi 
sented. Says Deming is a fool, politically speaking, ai 
that our Representatives, all of them, are weak ai 
stupid. I have an impression that Truman called at tl 
suggestion of Seward, and that this matter of concedii 
to Congress emanates from the Secretary of State, ai 
from good but mistaken motives. 

February 17, Saturday. Governor Morgan called tt 
morning on matters of business. Had some talk on curre 
matters. He says Tennessee Representatives will be a 
mitted before the close of next week; that he so told Wils< 
and Sumner yesterday, whereat Sumner seemed great 
disturbed. From some givings-out by Morgan, intimatio 
from Truman Smith, and what the President himself h 
heard, I think there is a scheme to try and induce him 
surrender his principles in order to secure seats to t' 
Tennessee delegation. But they will not influence him 
do wrong in order to secure right. 

February 19, Monday. Attended special Cabinet-meeti] 
this morning, at ten, and remained in session until abo 
1 P.M. The President submitted a message which he h: 
prepared, returning the Freedmen's Bureau Bill to the Se 
ate with his veto. The message and positions were ful 
discussed. Seward, McCulloch, and Dennison agreed wi 
the President, as did I, and each so expressed himse 
Stanton, Harlan, and Speed, while they did not absolute 
dissent, evidently regretted that the President had n 



1866] THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU BILL 435 

signed the bill. Stanton was disappointed. Speed was 
disturbed. Harlan was apprehensive. The President was 
emphatic and unequivocal in his remarks, earnest to elo- 
quence in some portion of a speech of about twenty min- 
utes, in which he reviewed the intrigues of certain Radical 
leaders in Congress, without calling them by name, their 
council of fifteen which in secret prescribed legislative 
action and assumed to dictate the policy of the Adminis- 
tration. The effect of this veto will probably be an open 
rupture between the President and a portion of the Repub- 
lican Members of Congress. How many will go with him, 
and how many with the Radical leaders, will soon be 
known. Until a vote is taken, the master spirits will have 
time to intrigue with the Members and get them com- 
mitted. They will be active as well as cunning. 

Senator Trumbull, who is the father of this bill, has not 
been classed among the Radicals and did not intend to be 
drawn in with them when he drew up this law. But he is 
freaky and opinionated, though able and generally sensible. 
I shall be sorry to have him enter into associations that will 
identify him with extremists, and yet it will not surprise 
me should such be the case. He will be the champion of his 
bill and, stimulated and courted by those with whom he 
does not sympathize, will strive to impair the effect of the 
impregnable arguments and reasoning of the message. 

February 20, Tuesday. The Cabinet was pleasant and 
harmonious on the matters before it to-day, though out- 
side rumors make them divided. Much excitement exists 
in Congress and out of it on the subject of the veto. The 
dark, revolutionary, reckless intrigues of Stevens manifest 
themselves. In the House, the bigoted partisans are 
ready to follow him in his vindictive and passionate 
schemes for Radical supremacy. Radicalism having been 
prevalent during the War, they think it still popular. 

On the vote which was taken to-day in the Senate, the 
veto was sustained and the bill defeated, there not being 



436 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 20 

the requisite two thirds in its favor. Morgan, Dixon, Doo- 
little, and four or five others with the Democrats, eighteen 
in all against thirty. Violent and factious speeches were 
made in the Senate, and also in the House. Stevens, as I 
expected he would, presented his schemes to oppress the 
South and exclude the States from their constitutional 
right of representation. Such men would plunge the coun- 
try into a more wicked rebellion, one more destructive of 
our system of government, a more dangerous condition 
than that from which we have emerged, could they pre- 
vail. As an exhibition of the enlightened legislation of the 
House, Stevens, the Radical leader, Chairman of the Re- 
construction Committee, the committee which shapes 
and directs the action of Congress, and assumes executive 
as well as legislative control, announced that his com- 
mittee, or directory it may be called, was about to report 
in favor of admitting the Tennessee Members, but the 
President having put his veto on the Freedmen's Bill, they 
would not now consent, and he introduced his resolution 
declaring, virtually, that the Union is divided, that the 
States which were in rebellion should not have their con- 
stitutional right of representation. 

February 21, Wednesday. Took the President the execut- 
ive order for the trial of Semmes. Found that he hesitated. 
Told him I had no feeling whatever in regard to it. That 
I was not willing nor did I believe we could legally try him 
for treason or piracy by a military commission, for those 
crimes were cognizable by the civil courts, but a violation 
of the laws of war required, perhaps, a commission and 
could be reached in no other way. He assented to these 
views, but thought it would be better to get an opinion 
from the Attorney-General. Moreover, he thought delay 
rather advisable at this time. I told him I thought it a 
good opportunity to show that he was ready to bring crim- 
inals to trial when the duty devolved on him. 

Senators Doolittle and Cowan were with the President 



when I called on him this morning. Doolittle had the 
rough plan of a bill to modify and terminate the Freed- 
men's Bureau Bill. I prefer non-action. So does Cowan, 
and I think the President also. Doolittle thinks something 
will be advisable to satisfy the public, whose sympathies 
have been excited by cunning appeals. This is Seward. 

Whiting, Solicitor, or late Solicitor, of the War Depart- 
ment, came to see me. It was amusing to see how self- 
satisfied he was in weaving a pleasant web on the subject 
of negro suffrage and the questions at issue. He is writing 
and publishing a series of numbers in the Republican, 
which, he says, were penned at my suggestion some 
months since, doubtless in part at least for my benefit. 
In the midst of our talk Montgomery Blair came in, and 
Whiting left with great speed. Blair is gratified with the 
stirring-up of the waters of controversy, and anticipates, 
I doubt not, that Stanton, who still occupies an ambiguous 
attitude, may be brought to a plain development of his true 
position. He insists that Stanton is playing false to the 
President. No doubt of it in my mind, yet he and Seward 
are in accord, but Seward is not treacherous. 

February 22, Thursday. Washington's Birthday. Ad- 
vantage is taken of it by those who sustain the late veto to 
assemble and give expression to their feelings, for there is 
quite as much of feeling, partisan feeling, as of honest 
opinion in what is done and said on this subject. The lead- 
ing Radicals, on the other hand, are precipitating them- 
selves into monstrous error and showing their incapacity to 
govern or even organize a permanent party. Only want of 
sagacity on the part of their opponents, the Democrats, 
prevents them from slipping into the shoes which the Rad- 
icals are abandoning. It is complained that the President 
treats the Rebels and the Copperheads kindly. It is not 
strange that he does so, for kindness begets kindness. 
They treat him respectfully, while the Radical leaders are 
arrogant, presuming, and dictatorial. They assume that 



438 D1AKY Ub' G1DEUJN WELLES [FEB. 

the legislative branch of the Government is absolute, tl 
the other departments, and especially the executive, i 
subordinate. Stevens and his secret joint committee 
directory have taken into their hands the government a: 
the administration of affairs. It is an incipient conspirac 
Congress, in both branches, or the majority of Congre 
are but puppets in the hands of the Directory and do lit 
but sanction and obey the orders of that committee. 

To-day both branches of Congress have adjourned a: 
there are funeral solemnities at the Capitol in memoris 
of the late Henry Winter Davis, a private citizen, w 
died in Baltimore two or three months since, but who h 
been a conspicuous actor among the Radicals. He possess 
genius, a graceful elocution, and erratic ability of a certe 
kind, but was an uneasy spirit, an unsafe and undesiral 
man, without useful talents for his country or mankir 
Having figured as a leader with Thad Stevens, Wade, a 
others, in their intrigues, extraordinary honors are n< 
paid him. A programme, copied almost literally from tl 
of the 12th in memory of Mr. Lincoln, is sent out. Ord< 
to commemorate this distinguished "Plug Ugly" a 
"Dead Rabbit" are issued. President and Cabin 
judges, foreign ministers, and other officials have se* 
assigned them in the Hall of the Representatives for t 
occasion. The whole is a burlesque, which partakes of t 
ridiculous more than the solemn, intended to belit 
the memory of Lincoln and his policy as much as to ex 
Davis, who opposed it. I would not go, could not 
without a feeling of degradation. I yesterday suggest 
to the President my view of the whole proceedings, tt 
they were in derogation of the late President and the A 
ministration. The Radicals wished Davis to be consider 
the equal or superior of Lincoln. 

There was a large gathering of the citizens to-day at 1 
theatre to approve the veto, and they subsequently w< 
to the Executive Mansion, where the President address 
them in quite a long speech for the occasion. 



1866] ABUSE OF THE PRESIDENT 439 

February 23, Friday. The papers of this morning con- 
tain the reported speech of President Johnson yesterday. 
It is longer than the President should have delivered, if 
he were right in addressing such a crowd. His remarks 
were earnest, honest, and strong. One or two interruptions 
which called out names I wish were omitted. 

The Chronicle, Forney's paper, is scandalously abusive 
and personally indecent, false, and vindictive. An attempt 
is made, by innuendo, to give the impression that the 
President was excited by liquor. Count Gurowski, the 
grumbler, is around repeating the dirty scandal. Says the 
President had drunk too much bad whiskey to make a good 
speech. Eames tells me that Gurowski, who now lives with 
him, says that Stanton declared to him that he was op- 
posed to the veto. Well, he did suggest that there might, 
he thought, be an improvement by one or two alterations, 
but as a whole he was understood to acquiesce and assent to 
the message. I doubted if he was sincere, for there was an 
ambiguity in what he said, yet, having said something, he 
could to his Radical friends aver he was opposed. 

I told the President I was sorry he had permitted him- 
self to be drawn into answering impertinent questions to a 
promiscuous crowd and that he should have given names 
of those whose course he disapproved. Not that his re- 
marks were not true, but the President should not be 
catechized into declarations. Yet it is the manner and cus- 
tom in the Southwest, and especially in Tennessee, to do 
this on the stump. Stanton patronizes Forney's Chronicle 
and proscribes the Intelligencer. Conversing with the 
President, I told him I thought this improper. He said he 
would bring the subject before us at the next meeting. 

February 24, Saturday. The extremists are angry and 
violent because the President follows his own convictions, 
and their operations through the press are prolific in manu- 
facturing scandal against him. No harm will come of it, if 



440 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [FEB. 24 j 

[ 

selves that they had more than two thirds of each house, 1 

and could, therefore, carry all their measures over any veto. ! 

The President says there has been a design to attempt im- j 

peachment if he did not yield to them. I am inclined to be- \ 

lieve this has been talked of among the leaders, but they j 

would not press a majority of their own number into the j 

movement. ' 

February 26, Monday. Senator Doolittle called to have 
a conversation with me on existing topics and consult as to 
the propriety of his attending a public meeting and speaking 
at Baltimore. Governor Dennison came in with Governor 
Cox of Ohio while we were conversing, and spent the even- 
ing with us. The great questions before the country were 
canvassed freely, and Governor Cox displayed intelligence 
and decision that pleased me. He has quick perception 
and a right appreciation of what is taking place, and a 
pretty correct estimate of the actors. 

In the Senate, Sherman has been speaking against the 
declaratory resolution, which passed the House under the 
lash of Stevens from the Directory Committee, asserting 
that eleven States are out of the Union and must not be 
represented until Congress shall permit them. This resolu- 
tion is fulminated in spite, because the President put his 
veto on the Freedmen's Bill. Such legislation is character- 
istic of Stevens and his colaborers. 



XXXVI 

Stevens's Influence in his Reconstruction Committee Conversation with 
Baldwin of the Committee The Committee reports a Resolution for 
admitting Representatives from Tennessee The Treasury Depart- 
ment embarrassed by the Test Oath in procuring Officials in the South 
A Call from Governor Dennison in reference to a Restoration of 
Harmony in the Republican Party A Talk with Senator Grimes 
Attitude of Grimes and Fessenden towards the President Cabinet 
Discussion of the Fenian Situation The Connecticut Gubernatorial 
Candidates General Hawley calls on Secretary Welles and on the Pre- 
sident Sumner on Louis Napoleon's Action in regard to the Presidency 
of the World's Congress of Savants The President vetoes the Civil 
Rights Bill Cabinet Discussion of the Bill Seward and the Proposed 
Purchase of the Danish West Indies The Semmes Case The Outlook 
in Connecticut Banks and the Use of Naval Vessels for the French 
Exposition Butler and the Grey Jacket. 

March 3, Saturday. The week as usual has been busy. 
The faction in Congress holds possession of the majority in 
both houses, yet there are signs of restiveness, of mis- 
giving, on the part of many. Baldwin, from the Wor- 
cester District, Massachusetts, who is on the Directory, or 
Reconstruction, Committee, assures me that Stevens has 
in a great measure lost his influence in that committee. I 
have no doubt that Baldwin and others so believe when 
away from Stevens and perhaps when with him, but with- 
out intending it or even being fully aware of the extent to 
which it is carried, they are subjected, controlled, and di- 
rected by him. They may, by appeals, modify, but not to 
great extent, Stevens's plans. Baldwin intimates that action 
will be taken in behalf of the Tennessee Members, admit- 
ting them to the seats to which they are elected, early next 
week. The same thing has been repeated to me to-day by 
others. There is a manifest feeling of the gross wrong 
committed by their exclusion, not only to the State but to 
the Federal Union. 



442 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 3 

They have made the necessity of action in this case felt, 
and Stevens has had to yield, but he will, I presume, make 
the proceeding odious and unjust. Baldwin asks, Why not 
pass a law admitting those States? I told him Tennessee 
had been admitted seventy years ago. He said he did not 
strictly mean admission, but a law authorizing them to 
resume their relations with the Government. I said I could 
not see the necessity, or even the expediency of such a law, 
for, the Rebellion being suppressed, Tennessee and each of 
the States resumed their position as States, and if they 
sent loyal men here, I thought they should be admitted ; if 
disloyal or unpardoned Rebels, such could be rejected. He 
was, however, very tenacious on this point, and I doubt 
not is committed to it. What harm, inquired he, can come 
from passing such a law, preliminary to receiving the 
Members. I told him it was, as a general rule, harmful to 
over-legislate, it is harmful to pass laws without authority, 
to assume powers or to concede them; that Congress, as 
a body, had no business with the election of Members, but 
the Constitution directs each house shall decide for itself 
in regard to the members of the respective bodies. The two 
houses could not legally or by any constitutional authority 
exclude a State or deny it representation. It was, however, 
unpleasant for the President and Congress to be in antag- 
onism, and if it was mere form which he had in view with- 
out objectionable points or ulterior purpose, possibly such 
a bill might not be vetoed, yet I thought it very question- 
able, for it would be centralizing and magnifying federal 
power here and dwarfing the State. 

I therefore anticipate that Stevens, finding the Commit- 
tee and Congress are determined to admit the Tennessee 
Members to their seats, will set to work to frame an of- 
fensive bill such as the President cannot sign, or which, 
if he does sign, will discredit himself and violate his, and all 
correct, principles. This, however, I am satisfied he will 
not do. Then on him is to be thrown the responsibility of 
excluding the Tennessee Members. 



1866] STEVENS AND HIS DIRECTORY 443 

I intimated to the President my conjectures, and he re- 
marked he was prepared for such an alternative whenever 
it was presented. He had, from some quarter, been pre- 
viously admonished in regard to the doings of the Com- 
mittee. 

Stevens is determined to have an issue between the Ex- 
ecutive and Congress, and, notwithstanding a majority of 
Congress and of the country deprecate such an issue, and 
Members to me and others express their dislike of and op- 
position to Stevens, I incline to the opinion that he will, by 
the working of his Directory machinery, be successful in 
raising that issue. Should he, the result will be likely to rend 
the party, unless the minority are subservient and tamely 
submissive. The Administration must be supported or 
opposed. The positive and violent will oppose; the mild 
and passive will yield. Congress must be with the Admin- 
istration or against it. Double-dealing cannot continue. I 
am apprehensive that there is treachery to the President in 
quarters which he will ultimately keenly feel. Sometimes 
I think he suspects the mischief, but is unwilling to have 
a breach just at this time and listens to those who advise . 
temporizing and expediency. 

Sherman (Senator), after speaking against the concur- 
rent resolution, finally voted for it in the face of his own 
delivered opinion, argument, and conviction. This is a 
specimen of the influence of party discipline at this time in 
Congress. It is all-powerful. 

Governor Dennison tells me this evening that he has 
written a letter to Patterson of New Hampshire, stating 
that he has removed no man and intends to remove none 
on account of differences between Congress and the Presi- 
dent, provided they belong to the Union party. I am afraid 
he has gone farther than is wise in this matter, for if 
Stevens gets up the issue between the President and Con- 
gress, it may be necessary for the President to relieve him- 
self of troublesome and officious electioneers in post-offices. 
I suspect Dennison has been entrapped by fair words. 



444 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 3 

If I mistake not, the Union League organization has 
contributed largely to present difficulties. It is controlled 
by extreme Radicals and rules many Members of Congress. 
An irresponsible faction, organized for mischief. 

March 5, Monday. The Reconstruction Committee have 
reported a resolution for admitting Tennessee Members. It 
is, in its phraseology and conditions, in character with the 
dissimulating management and narrow, unpatriotic parti- 
sanship of those who control the action of Congress. Ten- 
nessee is pronounced to be in a condition to exercise all the 
functions of a State, therefore she shall not send Repre- 
sentatives until she complies with certain conditions which 
Congress exacts but has no authority to impose, and which 
the people of that State cannot comply with and preserve 
their independence, self-respect, and the right guaranteed 
to them by the Constitution. How intelligent and sensible 
men, not opposed to our government and the Constitution 
itself can commit themselves to such stuff I am unable to 
comprehend, but the madness of party, the weakness of 
men who are under the discipline of an organization which 
chafes, stimulates, threatens, and coaxes, is most astonish- 
ing. 

In conversation with Senator Grimes, Chairman of the 
Naval Committee, I regret to see he still retains his rancor 
towards the South, though I hope somewhat modified. He 
is unwilling to make needful appropriations for the navy 
yards at Norfolk and Pensacola because they are in the 
Rebel States. Yet a navy yard at Pensacola is important, 
it may be said necessary, to the protection of the Gulf 
Coast and the Mississippi in time of war. A foreign power 
can blockade that region, the whole valley of the Missis- 
sippi be locked up ; and Western Members would permit 
this rather than expend a small sum for necessary purposes 
in a navy yard at the South. But Grimes is not so in- 
tensely wrong as others living in the Mississippi Valley. He 
will not, however, avail of the opportunity of procuring a 



1866] THE TEST OATH 445 

magnificent site at Hampton Roads for the Naval School, 
because it is in Virginia. 

March 6, Tuesday. The Secretary of the Treasury is 
embarrassed by the test oath. He finds it difficult to pro- 
cure good officers for collectors and assessors in the Rebel 
States and still more difficult to get good subordinates. 
When he attempts to reason with Members of Congress, 
they insist that their object is to exclude the very men re- 
quired and say they want Northern men sent into those 
States to collect taxes. As if such a proceeding would not 
excite enmities and the foreign tax-gatherer be slain! 

I advised McCulloch to address a strong and emphatic 
letter to the President, stating the difficulties, which letter 
the President could communicate to Congress. A direct 
issue would then be made, and the country could see and 
appreciate the difficulties of the Administration. Dennison 
took the same view, and stated some of his difficulties, and 
I suggested that he should also present them to the Pre- 
sident. Seward was not prepared to act. Harlan was ap- 
prehensive that a confession of the fact that it was not pos- 
sible to procure men of integrity who could take the test 
oath, would operate injudiciously just at this time. There 
is, he thinks, a growing feeling for conciliation in Congress, 
and such a confession would check this feeling. The sug- 
gestion was adroitly if not ingenuously put. Stanton half- 
responded to Harlan; doubted the expediency of a letter 
from McCulloch; said it was unnecessary; that he paid 
officers who could not take the oath; thought the Secretary 
of the Treasury might also ; but concluded by saying he had 
not examined the question. Finally the subject was post- 
poned to Friday. Stanton said it had presented itself to 
him in a new form during the discussion, and he required a 
little time for examination and reflection before submitting 
his views. 

March 7, Wednesday. I have addressed a letter concern- 
ing League Island, communicating the report of Mr. Fox, 



446 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES . [MAKCH 7 

the Assistant Secretary, who visited Philadelphia with the 
Naval Committee. The improvidence and neglect of Con- 
gress on this subject shows how unreliable all legislation is 
for the public interest in high party times. By an intrigue 
Brandegee of New London was placed on the Naval Com- 
mittee. Colfax purchased his support by that appoint- 
ment, and the displacement of English, an act of dis- 
simulation and discourtesy to me personally as well as a 
sacrifice of the public interest. Brandegee wants the navy 
yard at New London because he lives there and it is his 
home, not for the public interest and the national welfare, 
and for that narrow, selfish, low object the Navy and the 
country are sacrificed. 

March 8, Thursday. Myers of Philadelphia had a long 
conversation with me in regard to the "admission" of Ten- 
nessee. I told him, as I have others, that Tennessee had 
been admitted more than seventy years ago. Well, he said, 
he did not mean admission, but to permit her to send Repre- 
sentatives. I told him he did mean admission and nothing 
else, and that permission to send Representatives was quite 
as offensive as his first position. The Constitution secured 
her that right when the State was admitted and made part 
of the Union, and Congress could neither deprive nor grant 
her the privilege of representation. Much more of like 
tendency passed between us pleasantly. He expects to 
make a speech on the subject. 

Governor Dennison called this evening to see whether 
he, McCulloch, and myself had not best consult with the 
President in regard to the welfare of the Republican Party 
and endeavor to bring about a reconciliation with the fac- 
tious majority in Congress. I told him I could see no bene- 
fit that would result from such an effort; that the Presid- 
ent's policy was well defined; that when Congress assem- 
bled, the Members well understood that policy, and that 
they, the Radicals, had promptly organized to oppose and 
defeat it ; that this hostility or antagonism had gone forward 




GIDEON WELLES 



1866] TALK WITH SENATOR GRIMES 447 

for three months, Congress doing nothing, accomplishing 
nothing towards a restoration of the Union, but on the 
contrary had devoted its time and energies to prevent it. 
What, I asked him, could the President do under these 
circumstances? He cannot abandon his honest, rightful 
convictions, and to approach or attempt to approach these 
Radical leaders in their present state of mind would be 
misconstrued and retard rather than promote the work. 
The Republican Party had evidently about accomplished 
its mission. Slavery was abolished and the Rebellion sup- 
pressed. Perhaps it would result beneficially to take a new 
departure. He appeared to acquiesce in my suggestions. 

March 9, Friday. Senator Grimes, after an interview 
this A.M. on naval matters, got on to the subject of our 
public affairs generally, and particularly the differences 
between the President and the party in Congress. He dis- 
claims Stevens and Sumner, and spoke of each in severe 
and denunciatory terms, the former as a pretty un- 
scrupulous old fellow, unfit to lead any party, Sumner as 
a cold-blooded, selfish, dangerous man. When I spoke of 
him as honest but theoretical and yet, I believe, truthful, 
Grimes was disinclined to award him these traits, and I per- 
ceive has a strong prejudice perhaps I should better 
define it by saying hate of the Massachusetts Senator, 
who, though a student learned in books, Grimes asserts is 
not a statesman or wise legislator. 

With very respectable talents, Grimes is of a suspicious 
and somewhat jealous nature, inclining to be misanthropic. 
He must be classed as of the Radical school, but recognizes 
no Radical leader, has no respect for them; abhors Stevens 
as a debauchee in morals and politics. He is intimate with 
Fessenden, who is dyspeptic and has similar traits, and the 
two hunt in couples. They were both former admirers of 
Seward, but now and for some time past they dislike him, 
think his influence on Johnson pernicious. 

When I saw during the fall that the extremists were 



448 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 9 

gathering up their strength against the President, it was a 
question with me how these two Senators would go. Their 
natural tendency would, I knew, incline them to the oppo- 
sition. They are both intense on the negro. But neither of 
them liked Sumner or Stevens, who were in the extreme 
advance. The President was originally of a different school 
of politics, and there is not, therefore, that intimacy between 
them which begets zeal, but during the War they have 
been bound by a common interest. They had no personal 
opposition to the President and, I think, no feeling against 
him except that which minds like theirs would have against 
the elevation above them of an old associate Senator whom 
they had regarded as an equal rather than a superior. 
Though differing with him in fundamental principles of our 
government, they respected his honesty. 

Grimes says he came here at the commencement of the 
present session kindly disposed to the President and not 
very hostile to his policy. But he soon found that certain 
obnoxious Democrats had free access to the White House, 
and that pardoned Rebels hung around there. He was not 
satisfied with this state of things, and spoke of it, and was 
asked why he and others remained away. Soon after he 
was invited to breakfast with the President, and spent two 
hours with him discussing all subjects in full and most 
satisfactorily. Allusion was made to Fessenden, and he 
expressed a wish that the two should come together and 
interchange opinions. The President requested him to 
speak to Fessenden and invite an interview. As the next 
day was Sunday, Grimes inquired if it would be agreeable 
for the President to see him on the Sabbath. The Pre- 
sident assented, and F. spent several hours most satisfact- 
orily at the White House and went over general measures 
now prominent. 

On the following day appeared the celebrated letter of 
"a conversation of the President with a distinguished 
Senator." Grimes says on reading it he asked Fessenden 
if that was his conversation. F. after reading the letter said 



1866] TALK WITH SENATOR GRIMES 449 

he had had no such conversation, and they soon ascertained 
that Dixon was the Senator. The two, finding that they 
were not the only confidants of the President, thereupon 
left him, and allied themselves to the Radicals. They had 
ascertained that the President conversed freely with others, 
was not likely to commit himself to their keeping exclus- 
ively, and therefore should have their opposition or at all 
events could not rely on their support. 

I inquired of Grimes what there was offensive in the let- 
ter, or the President's policy, or wherein he was inconsist- 
ent; said that doubtless many, who, like him and Fessen- 
den, had peculiar views of their own, had called on the 
President and he had frankly conversed with each of them, 
notwithstanding their different shades of opinion, and 
each, perhaps, had construed the friendly courtesy and 
kindly greeting as favoring his tenet, while the aim had 
been to commit himself to none, but to be friendly and con- 
ciliatory with all. 

I asked Grimes where all this was to end; what we were 
to expect when Members of Congress made it a point to dis- 
agree, organized a joint committee of the two houses to get 
round constitutional difficulty, which committee was to 
establish a policy for Congress and the country, arrogated 
to itself and stimulated Congress to arrogate or usurp 
executive powers, were passing declaratory resolutions 
which had no force, but were designed to irritate and be 
offensive, with other extraordinary proceedings. I told 
him the country had a present and a future before it, and its 
fate was to some extent in the hands of men in responsible 
positions and for which they were accountable. The coun- 
try, I said, appeared to me to be in peril; that we must 
either reunite or diverge still farther soon. We cannot 
remain inactive, must either advance or recede. 

I could perceive he was disturbed, but soon remarked 
that the Southern people were a damned set of traitors, as 
bad now as at any time during the Rebellion, and he had 
no confidence in them. 



450 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAECH 9 

I admitted they were bad, malignant, foolish to a great 
extent, but asked when they would be better, and if no 
better, were we to be forever a disunited country. Their 
indebtedness in various forms under their sham organiza- 
tion could not be less than twenty-five hundred millions; 
the property in slaves which was extinguished by emanci- 
pation could not be less than twenty-five hundred millions 
more; other individual losses were immense. To all this 
they were compelled to submit, and besides this they were 
to pay then- proportion of our debt incurred in whipping 
them. Now was it strange that they were sore and com- 
plaining, and were we doing right in excluding them from 
all participation in the government, to which they were 
entitled under the Constitution? We must adopt concilia- 
tory measures or national calamities would soon be upon 
us, and we ought not to shut our eyes to the facts. 

He admitted something must be done, but said that he 
had confidence that all would come right. He guessed we 
were nearer now than some apprehended. This he said 
with a smile and manner that impressed me as coming 
from one who thinks he and his associates have the reins in 
their hands and intend to guide the government car safely. 
But the subject should not be trifled with. 

McCulloch inquired of Stanton if he had reached a solu- 
tion of the difficulty in regard to the oath. Stanton replied 
that he had given it considerable thought and come to the 
conclusion that it would be best for McCulloch to prepare 
a letter setting forth the difficulties of the case. This letter, 
I remarked, had better be addressed to the President. 
Stanton did not respond favorably to this suggestion. He 
thought it would do as well to send it to one of the commit- 
tee. This was also Harlan's view. Dennison took very 
decided ground with me. 

The rumors that the Fenians had seized Navy Island 
and that ten thousand volunteers had been called out by the 
Canadian authorities were current this morning. Seward 
was unwell and not at the Cabinet-meeting. The British 



1866] THE FENIAN SITUATION 451 

and Canadian Governments were each much excited. The 
last arrival brings information that the habeas carpus is sus- 
pended in Ireland and the propriety of some governmental 
action here was discussed. 

Stanton thought a proclamation should be issued and 
decisive measures taken, as was done by Van Buren in his 
day. Regretted Seward was not present, for we knew not 
what appeals had been made by the British Government. 
The propriety of taking some action was generally con- 
curred in, and Stanton rather pressed it. I proposed that 
General Grant should be consulted, sent to the frontiers, 
and perhaps it would be well to address a communication 
on the subject which would form the basis of government 
action. Stanton could see no necessity for bringing Grant 
out; a proclamation from the President to put down these 
Fenian organizations was what was required. I assented, 
but stated that the occasion and condition of the country 
and of our public affairs were such that I thought it would 
be wise to have the public authorities fully heard, and all 
of them. The Irish element, I stated, was a strong one and 
clannish, and if a movement against an organization of 
theirs was to be made, I wished to see others besides the 
President moving, and especially did I desire, under exist- 
ing circumstances, when the militia might be called to act, 
that General Grant should be consulted. Harlan thought 
a circular from the Attorney-General exhorting vigilance 
on the part of attorneys and marshals would be sufficient; 
the circular could be got into print. While I did not object 
to that process, I expressed my conviction that it would be 
wise to have General Grant identified with the Adminis- 
tration in these movements. Dennison and McCulloch 
concurred with me. 

After the others left, the President expressed his satisfac- 
tion with the direction I had indicated and the bearing it 
seemed to have on others. 

March 10, Saturday. Thad Stevens has to-day made a 



452 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 10 

blackguard arid disreputable speech in the House. Begin- 
ning with the false assertion that the speech was prepared 
two months ago, and continuing with the equally false 
assurance that an interlude, or byplay, which was intro- 
duced was unpremeditated, this wretched old man dis- 
played more strongly than in his speech those bad traits 
of dissimulation, insincerity, falsehood, scandal-loving, 
and defamation that have characterized his long life. 
The Radical managers and leaders were cognizant of his 
speech, and had generally encouraged it, but I shall be dis- 
appointed if they do not wish the vain old man had been 
silent before many months. Such disgraceful exhibitions 
can do the author and his associates no good, nor those 
whom he assails enduring harm. The people may not in the 
first excitement and under the discipline of party be enabled 
to judge of the conspirators correctly who are striving to 
divide the Union, not by secession but by exclusion. It is 
clearly a conspiracy, though not avowed. 

March 13, Tuesday. Had a call this evening from Mr. 
English, the Democratic candidate for Governor in Con- 
necticut. He is very decidedly, and I think sincerely, in 
favor of the President's policy. With General Hawley, who 
is the Administration candidate, I am more intimate, and 
for him I personally feel special regard, yet such is the 
strange mixture of parties that his election would be hailed 
as a triumph by the opponents of the Administration. I am 
much embarrassed by this state of things. I believe Haw- 
ley intends to support the President, yet, tainted by party, 
he also aims to support Congress in its differences with the 
Executive. He will rind it difficult to reconcile the two, 
and if compelled to make an election he would be more 
likely at the present moment to go wrong, I fear, than 
right. 

Mr. English desired an introduction to the President, 
whom he wishes to see concerning some person who is 
imprisoned in Tennessee, and is acting in concert with 



1866] THE TEST OATH . 453 

a Mr. Fleming, whom, with his beautiful wife, I met this 
evening at the President's house. 

Seward was not at the Cabinet to-day. I brought for- 
ward the subject of the test oath, and McCulloch says he 
has prepared a letter which he will show me. Dennison is 
to prepare one also. 

On the subject of the Fenians there was less inclination 
to converse, but the subject was referred to the Attorney- 
General to send circulars to the District Attorneys, etc. I 
suggested that the Administration should show a solid 
front, and, therefore, General Grant should send a com- 
munication. To this Stanton demurred. It would neces- 
sarily come through his Department, and he would be 
openly committed. 

March 14, Wednesday. Secretary McCulloch sent me his 
letter this morning on the subject of the test oath, to read 
and criticize. It is in the main very well done. I would 
have proposed some alterations, but, on making one or two 
suggestions as feelers, I perceived he had the usual sens- 
itiveness in regard to his own production and, therefore, 
desisted. My course differs from his in this respect, for in 
public communications I want criticism from friends until 
the document is signed and has gone from me. 

I called upon him with the paper, and we had a talk on 
subjects generally. The communication of Clarke, Comp- 
troller of the Currency, was printed this A.M. in the Intel- 
ligencer. It is a piece of impertinence and insubordination 
which deserves rebuke, prompt and summary. I advised 
McCulloch to have his scalp off before sundown. He is 
more forbearing; says that is what Clarke wishes. 

March 16, Friday. A quiet Cabinet-meeting with no- 
thing of interest discussed. Dennison read his communica- 
tion on the test oath. It is less vigorous and pertinent than 
McCulloch' s, but will do as a backer. McCulloch showed 
me a letter from Henry Ward Beecher to Defrees in which 



454 DIARY OF GIDEON .WELLES [MARCH ie 

it is said that the postmaster at Brooklyn (Lincoln) in- 
formed him (Beecher) that Senator Pomeroy had author- 
ized and requested him (L.) to inform B. that he (P.) called 
at the White House a week since, and found the President, 
his son, and son-in-law all drunk and unfit for business, 
that the President kept a mistress at the White House, etc. 
I advised that these slanders should be told the President 
in order that he might be aware of the character of the 
scandals circulated. 

By appointment McCulloch, Dennison, and myself 
agreed to meet the President this evening at seven. At that 
hour McCulloch and I came together near Dennison' s door 
and went in. Soon after Speed and his wife were an- 
nounced. D. went in to them with an understanding that 
he would join us at the White House. But he failed to 
do so. 

Mr. English of Connecticut was with the President when 
we went in, but left almost immediately. The President 
expressed himself pleased with English, and dissatisfied 
with something which Hawley had said, some answers 
to inquiries, as I understood. McCulloch remarked that it 
would not do for us to disconnect ourselves from the War 
Party, even if some had got astray, for every loyal house- 
hold had its representative in the army, and the feeling 
was strong in their favor. 

The letter on the test oath McC. read to us. I suggested 
a single alteration which I mentioned before, calling the 
Southerners "our rebellious countrymen" instead of a 
' ' hostile people . ' ' The President approved the suggestion, 
and McCulloch came into it. Some other alterations, 
chiefly verbal, suggested themselves, but, witnessing the 
sensitiveness of McC., I did not mention them. 

March 17, Saturday. This being St. Patrick's Day, con- 
siderable apprehensions were entertained by the English- 
men here that there would be more active demonstration 
by the Fenians. Sir Frederick Bruce did not hesitate to say 



1866] THE CONNECTICUT CAMPAIGN 455 

to me on Thursday evening at the Marquis Montholon's 
party when I met him, that he had great anxiety and 
should feel relieved after Saturday. But the day has passed 
off peaceably. We have had no telegraphs of riot or dis- 
order on the frontier or in Canada. There is less disturb- 
ance in our own country than is usual on this anniversary. 

By special invitation from Secretary Seward himself, I 
went this evening to meet a Belgian delegation at his house. 
Mrs. Welles and Edgar went with me. McCulloch, Denni- 
son, and Speed were similarly invited, as were others. I 
found we were after-dinner guests, appendages to the spe- 
cial party, called in to set off the Secretary's party. The 
evening was cold, fires low or out, and though the persons 
assembled put on the best face, it was an uncomfortable 
affair, and I for one in no very good humor, believing I had 
been uselessly put to inconvenience without cause. 

Am having sharp questions and importunities in regard 
to the Connecticut election, and do not choose to answer 
them or to be mixed up in the contest, which has been 
badly shaped. The fault is as much here in Washington as 
elsewhere. Foreseeing the issues which the Radicals in 
Congress were forming, I suggested near the commence- 
ment of the session to the President, that unless the lines 
were sharply drawn, they would have him at disadvantage. 
We now see it in the result in New Hampshire, and similar 
consequences may be expected in Connecticut. General 
Hawley's sympathies and feelings are with the Radicals 
in the differences between the President and Congress, or 
rather with Congress than the President. English, on the 
other hand, is wholly with the President, and totally, earn- 
estly opposed to the Congressional policy. The election of 
English would secure a friend to the President, but English 
and those who support him opposed his (the President's) 
election and most of them opposed the War. Hawley, 
while not in full accord with the President on present ques- 
tions, and I am afraid not on the rights of the States, sup- 
ported his election, and was an earnest soldier from the 



456 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES 

beginning of the War until the whole Rebel for 
dered and dispersed. While I think well of both c 
I have a particular personal regard for Hawl 
well as intimate party relations in the past. 

The President and very many of his friends 
pleased to have English succeed. But they do nx 
hend the whole circumstances, personal and po 
they cannot know them. It is not a personal ques 
organization is a revival of ante- War difference: 
menced and has gone on under the old party t> 
stand for the Administration should have been, 
autumn, but the nominations from Governor c 
been made by parties as organized years ago. It> 
to change front, or get up a new arrangement 
issue should have commenced last December, an 
sident himself should have led in the fight by a/ 
the policy of his Administration and rallying his 
its support. He would have had the State, tih. 
and Congress with him, but he hesitated, was re 
encounter those who elected him, and then posl 
long for us to begin in Connecticut, for this elec 
place in three weeks. 

As things are, I cannot take an active part ir 
test. Were Hawley more emphatic and unequivc 
the President, I should enter earnestly, heartily 
struggle, although I did not advise his nominatic 
it to be made. I think, when elected, he will gl" 1 
ministration fair support, but he is an ardent pj 
doubt on the subject of his course paralyzes rn; 
efforts. I am unwilling to believe that Hawley d 

March 19, Monday. Allen of the Intelligencer c 
me to-day in reference to the Connecticut elec -I 
it is stated in the papers that I have written letl 
Hawley's election, yet Hawley is making speech 
the President. Told him I had written no let-* 
purport indicated, had purposely abstained anc 



1866] THE CONNECTICUT CAMPAIGN 457 

to. Asked what statements and what papers he referred to, 
and doubted if Hawley had made speeches in opposition 
to the Administration. It would not be politic for him to 
do so. That English is in favor of the President's policy 
as distinguished from that of Stevens or Congress, is true. 
The Republicans of Connecticut thought they did a shrewd 
thing in passing one resolution in favor of the President 
and another in favor of Congress. This inconsistency, 
equivocation, or contradiction is now troublesome. 

March 20, Tuesday. Little of interest at the Cabinet- 
meeting. After the others had left had a free talk with the 
President. He thinks, in view of the feeling manifested by 
Congress and the favorable reception of Stewart's resolu- 
tions for general amnesty, it will be well to delay the case 
of Semmes. 

I read to him a letter received from General Hawley in 
regard to the election in Connecticut, and a letter from my- 
self to Crofut, stating my views on present questions, and, 
believing General H. concurred in them, I wished him 
success, but not if he was opposed to them and the Admin- 
istration. 

The President approved my letter. Said Mr. English 
appeared to be a gentleman of character and friendly. 
Asked what had been his previous party course and 
whether I had seen a series of questions which were put to 
Hawley and Hawley's answer. I informed him that Eng- 
lish had always been a Democrat, but patriotic, gentle- 
manly, and not extreme or ultra. Had given support to 
some important questions of ours during the War. The 
questions and answers I had seen, but knew not how 
correct. 

March 21, Wednesday. Collectors Babcock of New 
Haven and Smith of Bridgeport called on me this morning. 
They had just arrived, having come on in relation to the 
Connecticut election. English appears to have created an 



458 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAECH21 

excitement, almost a panic, in regard to the wishes of the 
Administration. There is alarm on the part of the gentle- 
men and doubtless much at home which has impelled them 
to come here. English has represented to them that he had 
had a long interview on one or two occasions with the Pre- 
sident, and that United States officers were to be turned out 
if they voted for Hawley. Babcock said three or four in his 
office had their resignations ready and he should tender his 
if that was exacted. They informed me that Cleveland, 
Postmaster at Hartford, had called, or was to participate 
in, a meeting favorable to English, and under the excite- 
ment Starkweather of Norwich, Chairman of the State 
Committee of the Republicans, had sent in his resignation 
as Postmaster. There is excitement and a party panic in 
that State, Both Babcock and Smith admitted and as- 
serted that these troubles had their origin in the equivocal, 
ambiguous, and inconsequential resolutions of the Repub- 
lican Convention, which spoke two voices, and made the 
party support antagonistic positions. 

General Hawley and Mr. E. H. Owen came and spent 
more than an hour with me after the interview with B. and 
S. They had come to Washington impelled by the same 
causes as those of the other two gentlemen, but without 
preconcert. Much the same ground was reviewed and the 
same arguments used, and I told them their difficulties 
were the results in a great measure of the inconsistent atti- 
tude of the convention in indorsing both the President 
and the Radical majority in Congress, who were in direct 
antagonism; that no man could support the two honestly. 

Hawley two or three times expressed a wish that I would 
write a letter indorsing him. This, had the issue been direct 
and fair, I could have done cheerfully, but I asked him 
what I could say. I was a supporter of the measures of the 
policy of the Administration; these measures and that 
policy had my earnest approval; I was advising to them, 
was identified with them. Of course I desired their success. 
If I knew that he was in favor of the Administration policy 



1866] A CALL FROM GENERAL HAWLEY 459 

and opposed to the schemes of the Radicals who would 
defeat it, I could say something definite and positive, but 
unless that were the case I could do him no good. As 
things were, I should be compelled, while expressing my 
personal regard and belief that he would, if elected, be in 
accord with the Administration, [to say] that my under- 
standing of his position was that his views coincided with 
those of the President, and particularly that he favored the 
early reestablishment of the Union and of the Government 
in all its departments, that he recognized the rights of each 
and all of the States, was for the admission of loyal Sen- 
ators and Representatives promptly, was against sectional 
division and the exclusion of any of the States. Both 
Hawley and Owen gave a hesitating but full assent at first; 
but Hawley thought the word confidence or belief would be 
better than understanding. Owen concurred, yet all of us 
saw the embarrassment, and I expressed again my doubts 
whether I could give any letter or written statement as 
things were without accompanying it with qualifications 
which would destroy its effect. 

They left me at 1 P.M. to meet Senator Foster, who was 
to accompany them to the President, and they were to 
see me after the interview, which lasted over two hours. 
They expressed themselves satisfied with the views of the 
President and his course in regard to the election, his ob- 
ject being to sustain his own measures and policy and his 
preference being for those candidates of his own party who 
occupy that position. He had given Mr. English no letter 
and did not intend to take part with any candidates in a 
merely local election. 

Hawley wished to know if I had read the Civil Rights 
Bill and whether I thought the President would veto it. I 
told him I had been through the bill, but had exchanged 
no opinions regarding it; that I thought it very centralizing 
and objectionable, and my impressions were the President 
would disapprove of it, though very reluctant to have 
further difficulty with Congress. 



460 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 21 

They left, I thought, better satisfied with the President 
than I was with the course of the Republicans in Connec- 
ticut. 

In yesterday's Intelligencer was a leading editorial arti- 
cle in relation to myself and my position. The editor had 
called on me the preceding evening, and we had a conver- 
sation in relation to public affairs, the substance of which 
he has incorporated in his article. What he says regarding 
my course or stand in the Connecticut election is a little 
stronger than the actual conversation will warrant. I de- 
clined giving any letter or authorization of the use of my 
name, and informed him I did not wish to become mixed 
up with the election, which was in many respects unpleas- 
ant to me, in consequence of the ambiguous and equivocal 
course of the Republican Convention. An honest, open, 
fair expression of views on their part would have left me 
free to approve or condemn. 

March 22, Thursday. Messrs. Babcock and Smith called 
this morning with a written statement correcting the 
Chronicle, which they proposed to present that paper for 
publication. I concurred in the propriety of their course. 
Both gentlemen expressed themselves highly pleased with 
their interview with the President and with other friends 
in Washington. 

March 23, Friday. Special notice from the President 
that there would be no Cabinet-meeting. Called upon him 
this P.M. and gave him, generally, my views in regard to 
what is called the Civil Rights Bill, which, if approved by 
him, must lead to the overthrow of his Administration as 
well as that of this mischievous Congress which has passed 
it. The principles of that bill, if carried into effect, must 
subvert the government. It is consolidation solidified, 
breaks down all barriers to protect the rights of the States, 



1866] THE CONNECTICUT SITUATION 461 

between the States and citizens and between citizens of the 
same State. No bill of so contradictory and consolidating a 
character has ever been enacted. The Alien and Sedition 
Laws were not so objectionable. I did not inquire of the 
President what would be his course in regard to the bill, 
but we did not disagree in opinion on its merits, and he 
cannot give it his sanction, although it is unpleasant to him 
to have these differences with Congress. 

He tells me that Senator Pomeroy disavows having 
stated that he saw the President drunk at the White 
House, but says he (Pomeroy) wrote Lincoln, the Post- 
master at Brooklyn, that he saw Robert, the President's 
son, in liquor, and he thought the same of his son-in-law, 
Senator Patterson. 

March 24, Saturday. The Intelligencer of this morning 
contains an adroit letter from Cleveland, the Hartford 
Postmaster, stating that he is openly supporting English 
for Governor, who is in favor of the measures, policy, veto, 
and speech of the President, and that he is opposing Haw- 
ley, who is opposed to them, and tendering his resignation 
if his course is disapproved. On this letter the President 
indorsed that his (C.'s) action in sustaining his (the Pre- 
sident's) measures and policy is approved and the resigna- 
tion is, therefore, not accepted. 

This correspondence will be misconstrued and misunder- 
stood, I have no doubt. The Democrats will claim that it 
is a committal for English, and the Republicans will acqui- 
esce to some extent. Yet the disposition of the subject is 
highly creditable to the sagacity and tact of the President. 
I regret that he did not earlier and in some more conspicu- 
ous case take action. 

I do not like the shape things are taking in Connecticut, 
and to some extent the position of the President is and will 
be misunderstood. He is, I think, not satisfied with the 
somewhat equivocal position of Hawley, and would now 
prefer that English should be the Union candidate. Herein 



462 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAKCH24 

he errs, as things are situated, for most of his friends are 
supporting Hawley and some of his bitterest opponents 
are supporting English. He should soon draw the line of 
demarcation. In the break-up of parties which I think is 
now upon us, not unlikely Hawley will plunge into central- 
ism, for thither go almost all Radicals, including his old 
Abolition associates. The causes or circumstances which 
take him there will be likely to bring English into the 
President's support. Nevertheless, under the existing state 
of things, I should, unless something farther occurs between 
this and election, probably, on personal grounds, prefer 
Hawley. It is too late to effect a change of front with 
parties. 

Senator Sumner came this P.M. as usual on Saturdays. 
He doubts the correctness of taking naval vessels for the 
French Exhibition. Grimes, with whom I have had some 
conversation, has contributed to Sumner J s doubts. It is 
certainly a strange proceeding to require or expect the 
Navy to furnish four vessels with their crews for this carry- 
ing service without any appropriation of funds for that 
object. It is not a naval matter, enters not into our esti- 
mates, and we have no suitable vessels. The House is very 
loose and reckless, however, in its proceedings, and ap- 
pears to be careless of current legislation. Specific appro- 
priations they would misapply, and are, in fact, pressing 
and insisting that I shall divert funds appropriated by law 
for one purpose to another and different purpose. But this 
was not Sumner's trouble. He thought it bad economy, as 
it undoubtedly is. I said to him that if I was called to do 
this transportation without instructions, I would, as a 
matter of economy, sooner charter merchant ships than 
dismantle and attempt to convert and use naval vessels 
for the purpose. 

I learn in confidence from Sumner that dispatches from 
our legation in France have reached the State Department 
which have not been brought before the Cabinet. Louis 
Napoleon has quarreled with his cousin, who was president 



1866] THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL VETOED 463 

of the commission of savants, and he has left Paris and 
resigned the presidency. Napoleon has appointed in his 
place, as president of the World's Congress of wise men 
and inventors, his son, now some eight or ten years of age. 
This Sumner thinks an insult or worse, and is disposed to 
give the whole thing a rebuff. I shall be glad to have him, 
but he will not attempt to move without first consulting 
Seward, and that gentleman has his heart so much in the 
interest of France, his friends are so engaged in the Exhibi- 
tion, that he has held back this information and will set 
himself earnestly at work to overpersuade Sumner, who, as 
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, has 
seen the dispatches. He may succeed. Sumner was, how- 
ever, very earnest and pleased with his own idea of hitting 
Louis Napoleon a blow. 

March 26, Monday. Senator Doolittle called at my 
house last evening on the subject of the Civil Rights Bill, 
which it is now well understood, outside, will meet an 
Executive veto. Doolittle has an 'elaborate bill of his 
own which he proposes to submit. Something, he thinks, 
must be done. His bill is, perhaps, somewhat less offens- 
ive than the one which has been passed by both houses, 
but the whole thing is wrong and his plan has the same 
objectionable machinery as the other. I frankly told 
him that the kind of legislation proposed, and which 
Congress was greedy to enact, was not in my view cor- 
rect, was sapping the foundation of the government and 
must be calamitous in its results. We went together to 
Senator Morgan's and talked over the subject an hour or 
more with him. ~ 

The President convened the Cabinet this A.M. at ten 
and read his message returning the Civil Rights Bill with 
his veto. Before reading it he desired the members to ex- 
press their opinions. Seward said he had carefully studied 
the bill and thought it might be well to pass a law declar- 



fc^rtm-i ny-v 4- in f\"V*r\ rt O r*l r"\rA.^"i f\ 



464 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 26 

questions raised on that point, though there never was a 
doubt in his own mind. The rest of the bill he considered 
unconstitutional in many respects, and having the mis- 
chievous machinery of the Fugitive Slave Law did not 
help commend it. 

McCulloch waived remark; had not closely scrutinized 
the bill, and would defer comment to Stanton, merely re- 
marking that he should be gratified if the President could 
see his way clear to sign the bill. 

Stanton made a long argument, showing that he had 
devoted much time to the bill. His principal point was to 
overcome the obnoxious features of the second section, 
which he thought should be construed favorably. He did 
not think judges and marshals, or sheriffs and local officers 
should be fined and imprisoned; did not think it was in- 
tended to apply to officers, but merely to persons. The bill 
was not such a one as he would have drawn or recom- 
mended, but he advised that under the circumstances it 
should be approved. 

The President having previously been put in possession 
of my views, I briefly remarked that my objections were 
against the whole design, purpose, and scope of the bill, 
that it was mischievous and subversive. 

Mr. Dennison thought that, though there might be 
some objection to parts, he, on the whole, would advise 
that the bill should receive Executive approval. 

Mr. Harlan had not closely read the bill, but had met 
difficulties in the second section, and in one or two others 
which had been measurably removed by Stanton's argu- 
ment. He thought it very desirable that the President and 
Congress should act in concert if possible. 

Speed was ill and not present. 

The Senate to-day deprived Stockton of New Jersey 
of his seat. It was a high-handed, partisan proceeding, in 
which Sumner, Fessenden, Morrill, and others exhibited a 
spirit and feeling wholly unworthy of then- official position. 
While I have no special regard for Stockton and his party 



1866] SENATOR STOCKTON UNSEATED 465 

in New Jersey, I am compelled to believe they have in this 
instance certainly been improperly treated and for a fac- 
tious purpose, and I apprehend that I can never think so 
well of some of the gentlemen who have been conspicuous in 
this proceeding. Had Stockton acted with Sunmer and 
Fessenden against the veto, he never would have been 
ousted from his seat. Of this I have no doubt whatever, 
and I am ashamed to confess it, or say it. I am passing no 
judgment on his election, for I know not the exact facts, 
but the indecent, unfair, arbitrary conduct of the few 
master spirits is most reprehensible. 

March 27, Tuesday. The proceedings of the Senate, 
though exciting, do not overshadow the interest felt in the 
Connecticut election. Although the President strives to 
be disinterested and indifferent between the candidates for 
Governor, I cannot be mistaken in the fact that he inclines 
favorably to English. I am sorry for this, because, his 
friends, those who elected him, are almost all of them sup- 
porters of Hawley. Those who voted for him, those who 
have stood by his measures since called to administer the 
Government and are sincerely friendly to his policy are 
committed to Hawley and the ticket which he heads. True, 
Hawley on mere organized party grounds is himself in- 
clining to Congress, and I am constrained to believe will 
eventually identify himself with the centralists. English 
will be the opposite. But these questions are not made 
controlling in this election, as they should have been at the 
beginning of the contest. 

March 28, Wednesday. The death of Senator Foot has 
checked excitement. Senators have put off discussing the 
veto till next week. Many of them are going to Connecti- 
cut to electioneer. Some will accompany the remains of 
the deceased Senator to Vermont. In the mean time Trum- 
bull will prepare himself to attack the veto with all his 
power. So with others. 
2 



466 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MARCH 29 

March 29, Thursday. Attended, with the rest of the 
Cabinet, the President to the Capitol, the funeral of 
Senator Foot. Great interest was felt. He was pater 
senatus and much loved and respected. Had been twenty- 
three years in Congress. 

He was on the Naval Committee in the first years of my 
administration and always a firm friend of the Depart- 
ment. This brought him intimate with me and somewhat in 
collision with J. P. Hale, who was Chairman of the Naval 
Committee and an opponent and faultfinder, ending with 
the retirement of Foot from the Committee, much to my 
regret, for, next to Grimes, he interested himself more in 
naval matters than any of his associates on the Senate 
Committee. Although indisposed to complain and always 
avoiding censorious remarks, he in apologizing for his 
course in retiring from the Committee stated that the 
association with the Chairman was unpleasant. 

March 30, Friday. Mr. Seward brought up in the Cab- 
inet to-day the subject of the purchase of the Danish 
islands in the West Indies, particularly St. Thomas. For 
a year or so the question has been under consideration. 
The Danes wish to sell and first edged in the matter gently. 
The Secretary of State did not give the matter earnest at- 
tention, but the Navy Department in our war, feeling the 
want of a station in the West Indies, has favored the sub- 
ject. My Report of 1865 roused the Secretary of State, 
and he began when the War was over to press the purchase, 
first talking round about the French islands. Finally he 
visited St. Thomas in a public ship. I do not think there 
has been over-much shrewdness in the transaction on our 
part as yet. It would have been better for Seward to have 
remained away from the islands, but should we acquire it 
his visit will undoubtedly become historical, and it will not 
afflict him, perhaps, if the country pays largely for the 
record of his name and visit. 

He proposes to offer ten millions for all the Danish 



islands. I think it a large sum. At least double what I 
would have offered when the islands were wanted, and three 
times as much as I am willing the Government should 
give now. In fact I doubt if Congress would purchase 
for three millions, and I must see Seward and tell him my 
opinion. 

I again brought the subject of Semmes's trial before the 
Cabinet. The question should be disposed of, for we are 
detaining our officers and others as witnesses. Speed has 
recommended that the trial should go forward under the 
mixed commission, and to-day recommended it anew. Said 
it would be an interesting trial. Stanton said he did not 
advise it for mere curiosity, but if the proceedings were to 
take place he would wish thorough work should be made 
and the extreme penalty of the law inflicted. Governor 
Dennison was very prompt and decided in the expression of 
his wish that Sernmes should be tried and punished. 

I repeated what I have frequently stated, that the Navy 
Department would have nothing to do with trying him for 
treason, piracy, or any offense which could be reached by 
the civil courts, but he was charged with, and I suppose 
was guilty of, violating the usages and laws of war. The 
truth was, however, on investigating the subject, the points 
had been narrowed down and mitigated, so that I believed 
his offense was really less aggravated than had been charged 
and believed. 

The President was evidently not prepared to decide what 
course to take. I submitted Semmes's application for a 
parole, which was favorably indorsed by Judge-Advocate- 
General Bolles. As the session of the Cabinet was some- 
what protracted and Stanton was wishing a special niter- 
view, I proposed to the President to call to-morrow, which 
seemed to relieve and gratify him. 

March 31, Saturday. I had an interview with the Pre- 
sident concerning Semmes, as understood yesterday. 
Showed him the papers, and, after some conversation, he 



468 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAECHSI 

proposed to see Judge- Advocate-General Bolles, Solicitor of 
the Navy Department; said he would on the whole prefer 
him to the Attorney-General in this matter, and named 
Monday next. 

By the President's request I went into the library and 
was introduced to Doctor Norris, with whom the President 
desired me to have some conversation. Doctor N. said 
he believed that the President and I had had some consult- 
ation in relation to a sea voyage for Robert, the President's 
son. He supposed I knew the circumstances. I told him I 
was aware of the young man's infirmity, that he had once 
spoken to me himself on the subject in a manner to touch 
my sympathy in his behalf. That I had also conversed 
with his father, as he seemed to be aware, and as he (the 
father) had doubtless advised him. He said that was so, 
and proceeded to tell me that R. had been beguiled into 
intemperance after he became of age, through his generous 
qualities, goodness of heart, and friendly disposition. He, 
therefore, thought it possible to reclaim him. 

I had very little expectation of such a result, but it is 
important, for his father's sake and for the country's, that 
the President should in these days be relieved of the care 
and anxiety which his excesses and passions involve. To 
send him abroad in a public ship is the best disposition that 
can be made of him, and a voyage to the East Indies would 
be better than any other, and such a voyage was now in 
preparation. Doctor Norris thought this desirable. 

I subsequently saw the President and told him what had 
taken place and that I could make the arrangement with 
little trouble to him. It seemed to give him consolation. 

Letters from Connecticut do not speak with confidence 
of the result of the election next Monday. But my impres- 
sions are that the Union Party with Hawley will be suc- 
cessful. The battle will not be on the strict political issues 
before the country. On these issues, if well defined and the 
candidates were sauarelv presented. I have no doubt that 



1866] THE OUTLOOK IN CONNECTICUT 469 

would be union against disunion, the President versus 
Congress under the lead of Stevens. But politics and par- 
ties have become strangely mixed. Hawley ; I am appre- 
hensive, leans to the Congressional policy at present, but 
I trust observation and reflection will bring him right. 

The true Union men who sustain the President feel that 
the defeat of Hawley would be a triumph to Toucey, Sey- 
mour, Eaton, and others who opposed the Government in 
war and whom they, for that reason, detest, and they will 
band together to support Hawley from matters of the past 
rather than issues of the present. Moreover Hawley has 
popular qualities. For ten years he has fought the Union 
battles in our political contests and in the field, and though 
he may be touched with Radicalism, he has good reasoning 
faculties and a sense of right within him on which I rely. 
The people have correct instincts in these matters, and I 
therefore feel pretty sure he will succeed. The worst is, 
should that be the case, the curse of party will claim that 
it is a triumph over the Administration. No harm will 
come of it, perhaps, but it is annoying and vexatious to 
have results to which men have contributed turned against 
themselves. But it cannot be helped. The distinction can- 
not now be drawn. Parties are in a transition state. 

Sumner tells me this P.M. that his committee will go 
against the use of naval vessels for the French Exhibition. 
This will be counter to Banks, who laid himself out largely 
in this matter, and Sumner will not be grieved to have 
Banks disappointed. There is obviously no special love 
between these two gentlemen. They are opposites in many- 
respects. Banks has thought to gain popularity in this 
move, which was concocted by himself and Seward, to use 
naval vessels and naval appropriations for a purpose not 
naval. To make their scheme appear less expensive, I am 
told that General Butler has succeeded in inducing the 
Secretary of the Treasury to interfere in the matter of 
the Grey Jacket, condemned as prize. If so, I regret it. 
McCulloch has been imposed upon. Butler is reckless, 



470 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAECHSI 

avaricious, unscrupulous. He knows there is neither law 
nor justice in his course on this question, but he has the 
promise of large fees. For three months he has been an- 
noying me on this subject. He then went to the Attorney- 
General and for a time made some headway. Failing 
there, he has now imposed upon McCulloch, who has 
been deceived by Butler's cunning and browbeaten by 
his audacity. 



XXXVII 

The Semmes Case The President's Son Robert to investigate the Slave- 
Trade on the African Coast The Price of the Danish Islands Pro- 
clamation announcing Peace in all the Southern States except Texas 
Hawley elected in Connecticut by a Small Majority The President's 
Kind Heart A Call from Commodore Stockton The Outlook for 
John P. Stockton's Return to the Senate from New Jersey The Civil 
Rights Bill in the Senate after the Veto Semmes's Release decided 
upon The Senate passes the Civil Rights Bill over the Veto Sen- 
ator E. D. Morgan's Vote for the Bill Incongruous Elements at Gen- 
eral Grant's Reception Talk with Theodore Tilton there The 
House passes the Civil Rights Bill over the Veto Senator Doolittle 
suggests Cabinet Changes Discussion of the Cabinet Situation with 
the President Pessimistic Views of Montgomery Blair and Congress- 
man Maynard of Tennessee The Fenians in Maine Seward's Dis- 
patches to United States Minister Motley in Austria hi regard to the 
Mexican Situation Conversation with Senator Trumbull on the Con- 
dition of the Country General Butler's Intrigues in the Grey Jacket 
Case The Programme of the Reconstruction Committee. 

April 2, Monday. Called with General Bolles on the 
President in relation to the case of Raphael Semmes. The 
call was pursuant to appointment. Secretary Harlan was 
with the President when we called, about 1 P.M. The Pre- 
sident inquired as soon as the subject was taken up whether 
any facts were ye't public in relation to the decision of 
the Supreme Court in the Indiana cases. He said the 
Court was nearly tied, but that judgment would probably 
be rendered to-morrow, at all events within a day or two. 
That decision might have a bearing on Semmes's case. I 
remarked that it might be well to delay action until we 
heard from the Court. The President said he thought so 
and that was why he had made the inquiry, but added we 
might as well talk over the matter at this time and get the 
points designated. Bolles said he had, perhaps, no remarks 
to make in the present position of things, but if Semmes was 
not to be immediately tried, a parole would be advisable, 



472 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 2 

unless the case was wholly abandoned. I remarked that it 
appeared to me best that he should be tried or the case 
abandoned, rather than have a parole. A trial would best 
satisfy the public and serve the ends of justice. It would 
place the Government in the best attitude. If tried at all it 
should be for violating the laws of war, a case which the 
established legal tribunals could not reach. His conduct as 
a buccaneer or rebel in capturing and destroying the ships 
of peaceful merchants was not the question, but, escaping 
after striking his colors and sending his boat to the Kear- 
sarge announcing his surrender, and without an exchange, 
he had subsequently entered first the Rebel naval serv- 
ice and then the military, and made war upon those who 
claimed him as their lawful prisoner. If in this he had not 
acted in bad faith and violated the usages of civilized war- 
fare, we had no case against him. But if he had done these 
things, it was proper he should be tried, and it must be by 
a military commission, for it did not belong to the courts. 
It was in that view I favored a trial. The courts were pro- 
ceeding against no parties for treason; partisans were 
blaming the President because there were no trials and 
convictions when it was not within his province to pro- 
secute or try. But here was a case which belonged to him 
specially and no one else. Hence if he ordered Semrnes to 
trial the country would be satisfied that he was sincere and 
discharging his duty towards the worst Rebels, and they 
would understand that the courts were not as prompt as the 
Executive. He would, however, await the decision of the 
Court. 

When alone I brought up the subject of placing his son 
on a naval vessel. Told him of the Monocacy, Commander 
Carter, late brigadier-general in Tennessee. The Pre- 
sident said at once he did not wish connection with Carter 
in this matter. I then mentioned the Chattanooga, Cap- 
tain McKinstry. This vessel would have an interesting 
voyage. Stated to him the purpose of the Department in 
regard to her. He approved it. Said, however, it was desir- 



1866] THE PEACE PROCLAMATION 473 

able Robert should have something to do. We spoke of 
positions, and, perhaps the Secretary of State would find 
him some civil employment. This met his views. I in- 
quired if he or I should see Seward. He desired me to do so, 
and, feeling that he should be relieved of the care and 
anxiety of a parent in this crisis, I took upon myself that 
object. I called immediately at the State Department. 
Seward, appreciating the whole case, at once entered into 
the subject and said he would employ Robert, whom he 
knew to be capable, to look into the slave-trade at Cape of 
Good Hope and on the African coast. 

I stated to Seward that he had named too high a price 
for the Danish islands; that five millions was, I appre- 
hended, more than our people would feel like giving; that 
I would not offer more than three. He thanked me; said he 
would inquire their lowest terms, that Raasloff was anxious 
to sell, etc., etc., but thought not less than five millions 
would be required. 

April 3, Tuesday. The proclamation announcing peace 
in all the Rebel States but Texas appeared in the National 
Republican this morning. I was at first a little startled by 
it, apprehending it would cause some difficulty with our 
volunteer officers, who, by law, ceased to act on the return 
of peace. This provision towards that class of officers was 
one of those headless moves of J. P. Hale, made in the 
spirit of a demagogue under professed apprehension that 
Mr. Lincoln, or whoever might be President, would use the 
Navy to make himself dictator. The proclamation does 
not include Texas; therefore the Rebellion is not declared 
wholly suppressed. When I spoke of the subject to-day 
in Cabinet, I found that none of the members had been 
apprised of the fact, except Seward, and he not until five 
o'clock the preceding evening, when he was compelled to 
send to Hunter, Chief Clerk, at Georgetown. A sudden 
determination seems to have influenced the President. He 
did not state his reasons, but it is obvious that the Radicals 



474 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRILS 

are taken by surprise and view it as checkmating some of 
their legislation. 

The returns from Connecticut leave no doubt of the 
election of Hawley, though by a very small majority, some 
six or eight hundred. This is well, better than a larger 
majority, and serves as a warning to the extremists. 
There is no denying that the policy of the President would 
have been sustained by a large majority of the people of 
Connecticut, were that the distinct issue. But this was 
avoided, yet Forney, in his Chronicle, asserts that the 
President is defeated, and his veto has been vetoed by the 
State. An idle falsehood. Mere partisanship will not con- 
trol, and there has been much of it in this election. Each 
of the parties shirked the real, living issues, though the 
Democrats professed to respect them because the Repub- 
licans were divided upon the issues, and to press them 
destroyed or impaired that organization. 

April 4, Wednesday. Consulted again with the President 
in regard to the case of Semmes. Peace having been de- 
clared in all the States and the decision of the Supreme 
Court in the Indiana cases Milligan and others being 
adverse to military commissions, I thought there should be 
prompt decision. The President inquired if it would not be 
best to parole him and require him to be in readiness when 
called. I replied it was for him to decide, but that it 
seemed to me best to dispose of Semmes, and if it was de- 
termined not to proceed to try him after this decision of 
the Court, I would advise his unconditional release rather 
than a parole. The President said he had some doubts, 
but wished to get rid of the subject, for Semmes's wife was 
annoying him, crying and taking on for her husband. The 
President has a gentle and kind heart, melted by woman's 
tears. I said I should be satisfied with whatever conclusion 
he came to ; that it might go over to the next meeting of the 
Cabinet, or he could decide when it pleased him and send 
me word. 



1866] THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL 475 

Commodore Stockton came to see me. Says things are 
in a satisfactory condition in the New Jersey Legislature. 
Is confident that his son John will be returned to the Senate 
with a good Johnson Republican. Is confident Scovel will 
hold out, and have, if necessary, others to help him; and 
assures me that enough Republicans will unite with the 
Democrats to return two such men. Wright, the present 
Senator, is ready for the arrangement. This may all be so, 
but I have grave doubts of its success. It is undoubtedly 
Stockton's arrangement, and he and his associates have 
heretofore been omnipotent in New Jersey, which is a 
strange State in some respects. Possibly he may succeed 
there. He could not in any other State. But the return 
of John Stockton, after what has taken place, would be 
honorable to New Jersey and one of the greatest triumphs 
that was ever achieved. 

April 5, Thursday. The Senate did not get to a vote to- 
day on what is called the Civil Rights Bill. Much interest 
is felt in the result, increased by the uncertainty which 
exists in regard to the decision. Just about one third of the 
Senate is with the President, but two of the Senators are 
in bad health, and it is doubtful if they can be present, 
though it is believed they will be. Wright of New Jersey 
has been brought here at the peril of his life, and will, it is 
said, be present and vote. Dixon, long and seriously ill, 
rode out a short time to-day, and will attend if a time be 
fixed for the vote. Stewart of Nevada has persuaded him- 
self that it is best for him to desert and go with the majority. 
Stockton was deprived of his seat by the Radical majority 
in order to carry this vote. There are some vague intima- 
tions that Morgan is equivocating and may go with 
Stewart, but I discredit it. He has, without direct assur- 
ance, given me to understand otherwise; took tea with me 
night before last, and spent an hour or more in conversation, 
chiefly on this subject. While I did not get or expect a 
pledge, I could form no other conclusion than that he 



476 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRILS 

approved and stands by the President's veto. He spoke, 
among other things, of a letter he wrote the editor of the 
Evening Post, indicating his difference with them on the 
Civil Rights Bill. In speaking of the fate of the bill in the 
House, in case it should pass the Senate, I alluded to the 
position and strong feeling of Bingham and told him what 
the President had that day said to me of the committals of 
Bingham. Morgan expressed himself highly gratified with 
this, for he had heard that Bingham was wavering. I, 
therefore, gave little heed to the insinuations that Morgan 
dissembles or will prove false; should not give it a second 
thought, did I not, since these rumors, recall a remark of 
Mr. George D. Morgan, that the Senator, E. D. M., would 
vote for the bill. But every look and thought, as well as 
expression, is watched and published. The sentiments, 
language, and course of Senator Wade and some others are 
in the highest degree reprehensible. 

April 6, Friday. The decision of the Supreme Court in 
the Indiana cases Milligan, Bolles, and others was 
discussed. Attorney-General Speed could not state ex- 
actly the points. The judges do not give their opinions until 
next winter. They seem to have decided against the legal- 
ity of military commissions. 

I inquired what should be done in Semmes's case, which 
had been long pending. Little was said, and the President 
remarked he would see me after the session, and I therefore 
remained. He remarked that there was a somewhat strange 
state of things. Grant thought the paroles he had given 
covered almost everything. The courts were taking up 
some of the cases for treason and were showing them- 
selves against military commissions. He therefore thought 
it would be as well to release Semmes on his parole. 

I suggested, in view of the present condition of affairs, 
and this late decision of the Court, that if Semmes could 
not have a nrorrmt trial, it would ho he.ttfir to release him 



1866] SEMMES'S RELEASE DECIDED UPON 477 

two paroles from him, one on the surrender of the Ala- 
bama, and another at the time of Johnston's surrender. 
I would not take another. Nor would it be right, after 
holding him over three months in custody, to prolong his 
imprisonment. 

The President assented to my suggestion and wished 
me to present it in some form for his action. My first 
thought was to place the grounds of his release, first on 
the proclamation, and second on the recent decision of 
the Supreme Court, making no allusion to Semmes's long 
imprisonment; but on second thought I omitted the 
President's own act, the proclamation, for it would be used 
against him by the captives. 

The Senate by a vote of 33 to 15 this evening overrode 
the veto on the Civil Rights Bill. Wright of New Jersey 
was in his seat, but Dixon was not. Morgan, unexpectedly 
to me, and, I think, to most persons, voted with the ma- 
jority. The vote of M. was one of calculation, not of con- 
viction. I shall be disappointed if he does not lose rather 
than gain by the step he has taken. Such is usually the 
righteous termination of calculations made by scheming 
and ambitious men who consent to do wrong. In this 
instance M. may have had honest reasons. It is true he 
voted for the passage of the bill, but that was, as he has 
said to me, without much consideration given to the law, 
and, in repeated interviews and conversations since, he had 
left the impression on my mind that he should sustain the 
veto. 

General and Mrs. Grant gave their last reception for the 
season this evening. Being somewhat indisposed, I did not 
propose to attend, but Edgar had not returned and there 
was no one to accompany Mrs. Welles and her friend, and 
I was, consequently, under the necessity of going, though 
afflicted with a severe headache. The party was in some 
respects unlike any of the season, and there was present 
not only a numerous but a miscellaneous company of con- 
tradictions. There had been some pre-understanding on 



478 DIAEY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 6 

the part of the Radicals, or a portion of them, to attend 
and to appropriate General Grant, or at least his name and 
influence, to themselves. But, most unexpectedly to them, 
as I confess it was to me, the President and his two daugh- 
ters appeared early, and Montgomery Blair and some of 
his ladies were also on hand. There came also Alexander 
H. Stephens, Vice-President of the late Confederacy, so 
called. When, therefore, Thad Stevens, Trumbull, and 
others, not exactly homogeneous though now acting to- 
gether, came in, they were evidently astonished and 
amazed. 

Stevens, though a brave old stager, was taken aback and 
showed himself discomfited. Trumbull betrayed surprise. 
I was not in a condition to circulate much in the crowd, but 
heard repeatedly, amid the exultation over the vote of the 
Senate, expressions of vexation that there was such a 
strange attendance here. Theodore Tilton, as full of fanat- 
ical, fantastical, and boyish enthusiasm as of genius and 
talent, but with no sensible ideas of the principles on which 
our government is founded or accurate knowledge of our 
republican federal system, or of the merits involved in 
pending questions, was boisterous over the result in the 
Senate. It was sufficient for him that a victory had been 
achieved for an ideal and fanciful theory, regardless of 
consequences, and indifferent whether we had a union or 
an empire, so that he could do a little more for the black 
man than for the white man. When a little older, if his 
erratic genius does not spoil him, he will be a little wiser. 
For a time he fastened himself on me, but I was too indis- 
posed to do more than listen. He gloated over Morgan's 
vote; said he could have thrown his hat to the ceiling when 
he heard it, not that he cared for Morgan. 

General and naval officers, as well as politicians, were 
present, with most of the foreign ministers. Of the Cabinet 
I saw none but Harlan. 

April 7, Saturday. Senator Doolittle informs me that, 



i860] THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL 479 

had Morgan held true, Dixon would, though still quite 
sick, have gone to the Senate, and the veto would have 
been sustained; but D. considered it too much in his feeble 
health to go there and give an unavailing vote. Doolittle 
says Morgan informed him early in the day of his course, 
but assigned no reasons for this unexpected stand. 

Ajyril 10, Tuesday. Though not well to-day nor for 
several days past, I went to Department and to Cabinet- 
meeting. Quite a discussion on the Mexican question. 
Seward proposes to give Austria notice that she must not 
assist the Imperialists in Mexico. Some of us asked why 
notice to that effect had not already been served upon the 
French. He said the French had been notified, but there 
had not boon sufficient time to receive an answer. I had 
little faith in French promises, as I have often said when 
this subject has been up. Dennison to-day expressed 
similar opinion and has always been ardent on this matter 
of French occupancy in Mexico. Seward showed some 
irritability, as I have seen him on one or two occasions 
when this subject has been discussed. 

The President inquired privately in regard to the Chat- 
tanooga, when she would probably be ready, what Mr. 
Seward thought of it, etc. I told him all was right, that 
the vessel would probably sail soon after the 1st prox. 

The Civil Eights Bill passed the House yesterday by a 
vote of nearly three to one. The party drill was very effect- 
ive. Only Raymond of the Radicals voted to sustain the 
veto. He has been general manager in the House, but could 
not carry a single member with him if he tried, nor could 
Seward help him, or he did not. All of Stanton's pets were 
active in opposing the veto, Bingham, who had been 
vehement in denouncing the bill as a bundle of unconstitu- 
tional outrages, had besought a veto, urged objections, 
was quieted, paired off; did not vote; listened to Stanton 
and could not shake off the fetters of party. Not a word 
escaped the President to-day on the subject, but it was 



480 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRILIO 

evident he felt deeply. I, for one, would not introduce the 
topic, for I could not, unasked, state my opinions, which 
would be in opposition, and almost discourteous, to some 
of my associates. Oh, Bingham! Bingham! 

April 13, Friday. I do not get well. But little of interest, 
British fund agents and brokers show great impudence in 
regard to Rebel debts and cotton loans. McHenry, Rich- 
ardson, and others present plans and schemes which are 
deserving such a rebuke as should be felt by them and their 
countrymen. 

Stanton made some crude suggestions for national 
quarantine, not very explicit, and beset with difficul- 
ties. I asked if anything of the kind had ever been at- 
tempted, if it was not a matter for State or municipal, 
rather than federal, regulation. He admitted it was, but 
the other members had not given the subject a thought, 
and did not like to come athwart Stanton. 

Doolittle called on me last night full of exceeding great 
trouble. Insists the President has not as yet taken so firm 
and decided a stand as duty requires. Wishes me to coun- 
sel and urge upon him the necessity of doing something 
positive. Says the impression is getting pretty universal 
that the President can do nothing for himself, etc., etc. 
There is some truth in all this ; not that the President lackn 
courage, but he dislikes to break with those who elected 
him. 

Doolittle wishes Speed to leave, and Stanton also. Say? 
the first has no stamina, nor power, nor character as a law- 
yer. That he is the laughing-stock of the court and of the 8 
first lawyers. Does not and cannot strengthen the Pre- 
sident. Suggests that Stanton should be turned out ami 
that Grant should be assigned, temporarily, to the Depart- 
ment. Doolittle earnestly desires me to counsel the Pre- 
sident. I told him it would be delicate for me to do sc>, 
even if invited by the President, but I would not obtrude 
upon him in such a matter concerning my colleagues. 



1806] THE CABINET SITUATION 481 

April 14, Saturday. This being the anniversary of the 
assassination of President Lincoln, the several Depart- 
ments were closed by order of the President. 

Had an hour's talk with the President on several mat- 
ters, but chiefly in relation to the policy of the Administra- 
tion, which was brought about by my referring to the inter- 
view which I had had with Senator Doolittle on Thursday 
evening, and his urgent request that I would communicate 
with the President on the subject-matter of our consulta- 
tion. I remarked that there were certain suggestions, 
which delicacy forbade rne to mention, unsolicited, but that 
thero was an apprehension that the Radicals were strength- 
ening themselves by the non-action, or limited actions, of 
the Executive and by conceding to Members of Con- 
gress almost all opportunities [for placing] their Radical 
friends. 

The President said it was exceedingly annoying and dis- 
couraging; to witness so good a man as Doolittle despond- 
ing, and especially on the subject of removals and appoint- 
ments, when Doolittle himself was not prepared to take or 
recommend action, even in his own State. It was true that 
his Cabinet was not in all respects what he wished; but he 
had taken it as he found it. Harlan, to be sure, came in 
later, but it was understood he Bought and desired the 
position, although he had since obtained an election to the 
Senate. He supposed Ilarlan was not in accord with the 
policy of the Administration, and delicacy and propriety 
would seem to prompt him to resign. But he had, as yet, 
shown no disposition to give up his place. Speed, he said, 
certainly added no strength to the Administration, was 
manifestly in harmony with the Radicals, advising with 
and encouraging them. Delicacy should cause him, feeling 
as he did, to retire, but he had made no advance in that 
direction, nor would he, probably, uninvited. Stanton, he 
remarked, was claimed by the Radicals to be in their inter- 
est, and probably such was the fact, yet he had given him no 
intimation of that character, except in some general crit- 



482 

icism on one or two measures in which he finally yielded 
and acquiesced. His Department had been an absorbing 
one during the War and still was formidable. To have an 
open rupture with him in the present condition of affairs 
would be embarrassing certainly, yet Stanton held on. 

The delicacies and proprieties which should govern the 
relations that are supposed to exist between a President 
and his Cabinet associates his political family, as it were 
would indicate to men of proper sensibility the course 
which they should pursue, if they did not agree with the 
person whom they were expected to advise in the adminis- 
tration of affairs. If these three men did not approve his 
general policy, the President said they had not, as he was 
aware, disapproved of it. Statements were made in some 
of the Radical papers that the persons named were opposed 
to the Administration of which they were a part. Rumors 
to that effect had come to him in such a way and from such 
sources that he was not at liberty to doubt it. "Still they 
hold on here, and some of them likely report our proceed- 
ings. I do not, however, know the fact. What, then, can 
I do? Are these men to whom I give my confidence hypo- 
crites, faithless, insincere, treacherous? The time has not 
arrived for a decisive stand. With mischievous Radical 
leaders, who appear to have little regard for the country, 
it is not a proper time to take upon ourselves other quarrels 
nearer home." 

The President said he had borne, as well as he could, the 
malicious war which had been waged upon him for doing 
his duty, administering the Government for the whole 
country, not for a faction. If the schemes of the Radical 
managers to control the Executive had sometimes an- 
noyed him, they had not caused him to deviate from what 
he was satisfied was right and for the best interest of the 
country. But it did grieve and wound him to witness such 
men as Doolittle desponding and giving way. Cowan, an 
intelligent, sensible, and good Senator, he said, was also 
complaining, and it was hard to be under the necessity 



1866] THE CABINET SITUATION 483 

of holding these men up, while compelled to encounter 
the whole opposition. Their discouragement afflicted him 
more than all that the Radicals had done or would do. 

Only a day or two since Cowan had, with others, pressed 
earnestly for some changes in Pennsylvania which they 
said ought by all means to be made, and on their repre- 
sentations he had finally agreed to make some changes. But 
just as they were being ordered, Cowan began to show and 
have doubt, asked a suspension, and finally backed down 
and would consent to but two of the same changes he had 
urged. "These men take upon themselves no responsibility 
while goading me on to move, when I am breasting this 
storm. J ' This he said he was ready to do. It was a duty and 
he could meet it, but it pained him to have good and true 
friends waver. 

At the proper time he should be ready to act, but his 
friends must permit him to judge when to act. It would be 
pleasanter to him to have more cordiality, a more free 
interchange of opinions, more unity and earnestness on the 
part of all his Cabinet, for there was obvious distrust 
among them, distrust of each other, and that on 
topics where the Administration was most interested. 

I have given the substance and, so far as I can recall, the 
words. There was much desultory conversation inter- 
mixed. 

April 16, Monday. Senator Doolittle came yesterday. 
I told him I had seen the President on Saturday and learned 
from him that he (D.) had been at the Mansion on Friday 
evening. I made known to him the feelings of the President 
and that he was not prepared for an open rupture, but Doo- 
little said that would not do. The President must act 
promptly. We were losing by delay. Wanted to know how 
Dennison stood and asked me to go with him and call on 
Dennison. 

But the Governor was not in, and we went on to the 

T i j._ i : ~A-,-,J,'~~ *. 4-1** s4s>/%-M T 



484 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL ie 

said we must not deter the President from his ride, he took 
so little exercise. Patterson, his son-in-law, we met at the 
top of the stairs, who told us the President had company 
through the day, that Smythe had been there and it was, he 
thought, definitely settled that S. should be Collector at 
New York. Smythe, from what I hear of him, is better 
than some of the candidates, perhaps better than any. It 
has occurred to me that certain New York gentlemen were 
selecting for themselves, rather than the Administration. 

Passing Montgomery Blair's with a view of calling on his 
father, the former came to the door and asked me in, while 
he sent for his father. As usual, the Judge was strong in his 
opinions against Seward, Stanton, and others. He predicts 
another revolution or rebellion as the inevitable conse- 
quence of measures now being pursued. Says there will be 
two governments organized here in Washington. 

Maynard of Tennessee made a similar suggestion at my 
house two or three evenings since. He believes that the 
Senators and Representatives of the next Congress will 
appear from all the States, that those from the Rebel 
States will, with the Democratic Members from the loyal 
States, constitute a majority, that they will organize and 
by resolution dispense with the test oath and have things 
their own way. The extreme and reprehensible course of 
the Radicals is undoubtedly hurrying on a crisis, which will 
overwhelm them, if it does not embroil, perhaps subvert, 
the government, but the South is too exhausted and the 
Northern Democrats too timid, narrow-minded, and tired 
for such a step. 

The Fenians are reported to be gathering in some force 
at Eastport in Maine. The Winooski, gunboat, was sent 
thither last week with orders to wait instructions. Seward 
advised that no instructions should, for the present, be 
sent, but on Saturday I forwarded general orders to pre- 
serve neutrality. This evening Seward called at my house 
and wanted instructions sent by telegraph. Told him I had 
already sent by mail, but would send a telegram also. 



1866] PRANCE, AUSTRIA, AND MEXICO 485 

Sperry, Postmaster at New Haven, was at my house last 
evening, and is very full of Connecticut parties and Con- 
necticut politics, with a professed desire to sustain the 
Administration, and the usual wish to make the Party in 
Connecticut and the Administration identical, a work 
which more distinguished men than he are laboring in vain 
to effect, not only in that State but elsewhere. What is ir- 
reconcilable cannot be made to harmonize. The organiza- 
tion, or those who control the organization, of the Union 
Party, are studiously, designedly opposed to the Adminis- 
tration, and it is their purpose to break it down, provided 
they cannot control it and compel unconstitutional action. 
They have no thought for the country, but are all for 
party. Sperry is for himself. 

April 17, Tuesday. Seward read the dispatches which he 
proposed to send to Mr. Motley, the first, protesting 
against the sending of troops to Mexico by the Austrian 
Government, the second, in case they did send, after being 
thus notified, that he ask for his papers and withdraw from 
Vienna. 

McCulloch favored the first paper, but objected to the 
last; deprecated war under any circumstances, and even at 
any time for so worthless a people as the Mexicans. Stan- 
ton was for both. Dennison was most emphatic for both 
and for maintaining the Monroe Doctrine. Was ready to 
fight the European Powers, if they presumed to interfere 
with the American states; considered the honor and wel- 
fare of the country involved in this. Speed concurred with 
McCulloch, Harlan with Dennison. I suggested it would 
have been better, and would now be better, to meet the 
real party if we were to do anything; that we should take 
the head of France rather than the tail of Austria. That 
I did not mean to object to the measures marked out by 
the Secretary of State, which I looked upon as a menace, 
but that to fire off an ultimatum to remote Austria, while 
we had done nothing of the kind as regards France, whose 



486 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 17 

troops were on our Southwestern frontiers, did not strike 
me favorably. 

Seward said he was only waiting Bigelow's dispatches to 
take the same course towards France, if she did not recede. 

Have a telegram this evening from Commander Cooper 
of the Winooski that the Ocean Spray had arrived at East- 
port with five hundred stand of arms and asking if he 
should permit them to land. Within five minutes Colonel 
Seward came in with papers from the Secretary of State, 
consisting of a note from Sir Frederick Bruce, inclosing 
two telegrams from Eastport in regard to arms on the 
Spray, urging that the arms and the Fenians should not be 
permitted to meet. These had been sent to Stanton, who 
had returned them with a note [to the effect] that General 
Meade was on his way to Eastport, but he disliked to send 
an order by telegraph, for that would apprize the Fenians 
of his coming, and suggesting that the Navy could take 
some action. Seward wrote in pencil on the back of the 
envelope inclosing the papers, that I "could send orders 
to restrain action, or another to that effect." 

I observe that these men are very chary about disturbing 
the Fenians, and I do not care to travel out of the line of 
duty to relieve them. I therefore sent word that I was con- 
tent to leave the subject with Cooper till to-morrow, when 
General Meade would doubtless be at Eastport; if not, the 
civil authorities were there, with whom the Navy would 
cooperate, or whom they could assist. 

Speed and Stanton expressed an opinion, in which others 
of the Cabinet concurred, that property once taken and 
used by the Rebel Government became forfeited to the 
original owner and was legal capture. I had so previously 
decided last fall on the question of twenty-two rollers and 
machinery captured at Charlotte and now at Norfolk. 

Thad Stevens yesterday introduced a resolution direct- 
ing that three copies of Forney's Chronicle should be sent 
to our legations and consuls abroad and be paid for out of 
the contingent of the 'House, a monstrous proposition 



1866] THE CONDUCT OF SENATOR MORGAN 487 

made in wanton recklessness and supported by sixty votes. 
Forney in return puffs Stevens as the "Great Commoner." 

April 18, Wednesday. The President was to have sent 
me word when he would see Captain McKinstry, but, hav- 
ing failed to do so, I called on him to-day and he appointed 
this evening or any hour to-morrow. 

Some conversation took place on the subject of New 
York appointments. I congratulated him that he had got 
the Collector and Attorney off his hands, and though I had 
personally but slight knowledge of either, it seemed to me 
they were as good as any of the candidates named. The 
President said he found New York broken up into cliques; 
that he could satisfy neither without dissatisfying all 
others. That all had selfish objects of their own to gratify 
and wished to use him for their own personal ends. 

The conduct of Morgan had, he said, been very extraor- 
dinary. In all his conversations he had expressed him- 
self in accord with the Administration on the question of 
the Civil Rights Bill and the veto. But he wanted the 
nomination of Collector should be sent in before the vote 
was taken, was particularly urgent on Monday morning, 
and from what had since transpired there was, he thinks, 
a sinister design. Results had shown that it was well he 
did not comply with Morgan's urgent request. 

In nominating Stanbery to the Supreme Court, he had 
a desire to get a sound man on the bench, one who was 
right on fundamental constitutional questions. Stanbery, 
he says, is with us thoroughly, earnestly. 

Alluding to certain persons in the Cabinet, he expressed 
himself with much feeling and said a proper sense of de- 
cency should prompt them to leave, provided they were 
not earnestly and sincerely with the Administration. 

April 19, Thursday. The President last evening ad- 
dressed a large concourse who assembled under a call of 
soldiers and sailors who desired to serenade and thank him 



488 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRILS 

for a proclamation in their favor for government em- 
ployment. His speech is bold and well enough if it was 
advisable that the Chief Magistrate should address such 
gatherings. 

Senator Trumbull called upon me this morning for the 
first time in several months. It was to ask a favor, and for 
Mrs. Trumbull more than himself. I regretted that I could 
not without violating regulations grant it, for both of them 
have been a little miffed because I opposed his two great 
measures which have been vetoed. The speech of the* 
President last evening was alluded to, and Trumbull was 
very emphatic in condemning Presidential speechmaking. 
We did not greatly differ on this subject, for it has never 
been regarded favorably by me. Sometimes ib may be ex- 
cusable, but omission is better than compliance with calln 
from irresponsible gatherings. Frequent harangues t<s 
promiscuous crowds lessen the dignity of the President. 

Passing from this subject to the condition of the coun- 
try, he asked me if I was willing, or would consent, that 
Senators and Representatives should be admitted to takt* 
part in the Government, coming from Rebel States and 
districts. I told him I was most assuredly willing, pro- 
vided they were loyal and duly and properly elected. 
"Then," inquired he, "how could you deny one a seat in 
Congress from South Carolina during the existence of the* 
Rebellion?" "That," said I, "is a different question, but I 
am by no means prepared to say I would not have been glad 
to have seen a true and loyal man like Andrew Johnson, or 
yourself, here from that State during the War. I regretted 
that more did not, like Johnson, remain in 1861. Would 
you have expelled them?" Without answering me direct, 
Trumbull became a good deal excited and was very em- 
phatic against the Rebels. I said we would have no con- 
troversy on that point. I was not their apologist, though I 
was not their persecutor, now that the Rebellion was sup- 
pressed. They had greatly erred and wronged us, had slain 
our kindred and friends, wasted our treasure, etc., but he 



1866] TALK WITH SENATOR TRUMBULL 489 

and I should not bear resentment. We had a country to 
care for and should, I thought, exert ourselves to promote 
reconciliation and reestablish the Union in all its integ- 
rity at the earliest attainable moment. 

' ' Without conditions?' ' inquired he. " The Constitution, ' ' 
replied I, " provides for all that is necessary to be done. 
The condition of affairs is anomalous, but the path is plain. 
Each State is entitled to the Senators and Representatives 
according to population. Why are eleven unrepresented 
and denied their rights by an arbitrary and despotic 
majority of Congress?" 

He imputed the difficulty chiefly to the President, who, 
he declared, had failed to act up to the principles of his 
message ; and he quoted a passage. I told him the course of 
the President I thought perfectly consistent and I knew it 
was honest. But why was Tennessee, for instance, more 
loyal than Kentucky, excluded from representation in 
either branch of Congress? He said the President was to 
blame for that, for had he not put his veto on the Freed- 
men's Bureau Bill, Tennessee, and he thought Arkansas 
and Louisiana also, would long before this have had their 
Representatives in Congress. I told him this did not 
appear to me very enlightened and correct statesmanship. 
Why those States should be denied their undoubted con- 
stitutional rights, because the President and Congress dis- 
agreed, I could not understand. He complained that the 
President was not frank, that he had advised civil rights 
in his message to all, and yet vetoed the very bill which 
confirmed those rights. 

I remarked that the subject of civil rights personal 
rights belonged to the States, not to the Federal Govern- 
ment. The amendment to the Constitution had abolished 
slavery, and the blacks had the same remedies that the 
whites had to preserve their freedom. That undoubtedly 
some of the States would, at least for a time, make dis- 
criminating laws. Illinois, I presume, did, and I thought 
Connecticut also. He denied that Illinois made any dis- 



490 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APBIL 19 

tinction affecting the civil rights of the negro, and asked 
when and in what respects the civil rights were affected in 
Connecticut. 

"Both States," said I, "deny them suffrage, which is 
claimed as a right by the extreme Radicals in Congress." 
He said there were not ten men in Congress who took that 
view; there were just eight, he finally remarked in the 
Senate, and perhaps double that number in the House. 
"But," said he, "suffrage is a privilege, not a right." I re- 
marked I so considered it, but Sumner and others took a 
different view. "Well, then," said he, "in what other re- 
spects are the civil rights of the negro affected?" "He is 
not," said I, "by our laws put on terms of equality. He is 
not permitted to get into the jury box; he is not allowed to 
act as an appraiser of property under any circumstances, 
and there are other matters wherein distinctions are 
made." "These," replied he, "are all matters of privi- 
lege." 

"What, then," said I, "do you mean by civil rights? 
Please to define it." "The right," replied he, "to his lib- 
erty, to go and come as he pleases, have the avails of his 
own labor, not to be restricted in that respect. Virginia/' 
continued he, "has passed a law that they shall not leave 
the estate on which they reside without a permit." I know 
not that Virginia denies or restricts the right to emigrate. 
The other rights mentioned the negro possesses. 

April 20, Friday. The subject of advertising came up. 
Dennison had made inquiry and ascertained that the 
Intelligencer had the largest circulation. Stanton said 
President Lincoln had ordered him to publish in the 
Chronicle. There was evidently a wish to get along without 
action. I advised that there should be uniformity in the 
Departments as to the papers employed. The President 
said certainly it was best there should be general accord. 

April 24, Tuesday. Admiral Farragut and Mrs. F. are 



1866] C. A. WASHBURN'S DIFFICULTY 491 

staying with us, and I find little time to write. Have had 
several interviews with the President and Mr. Seward in 
relation to the cruise of the Chattanooga and passage of 
Colonel Robert Johnson, under an appointment of the 
State Department. The President evidently feels embar- 
rassed, yet anxious on his son's account. He is aware of 
the importance to himself and the country that he should 
be relieved from the care of this unfortunate young man, 
but is unwilling that anything personal to himself should 
be done. 

I called last Thursday with Captain McKinstry and 
introduced him first to the President and then to Messrs. 
Stover and Robert Johnson. Subsequently I saw Mr. 
Seward, who arranged the subject-matter of the mission. 
I addressed him a letter, stating the cruise of the Chatta- 
nooga and the principal points at which she would stop. 
By request of Mr. S. an alteration was made, avoiding 
Australia and going to China and Japan instead of running 
directly on the west coast of South America. . . . 

At the Cabinet-meeting I submitted Admiral Godon's 
dispatch of the 23d of January, stating the demands and 
difficulties of Mr. Washburn, 1 our Minister to Paraguay, 
who had been absent from his post more than a year and 
has been wintering since last September with his family 
in Buenos Ayres. In the mean time the allies have block- 
aded the river and object to his passing through the lines, 
and he has made a demand for the Wasp or some other 
naval vessel to convey him and his family. 

Mr. Seward, without knowing all the facts, at once 
requested that Mr. Washburn should have public convey- 
ance. I showed him Godon's dispatch, who states that no 
foreign power has attempted to pass the blockade, that he 
cannot do it without obtaining from the Buenos Ayres 
authorities coal, and that to return the courtesy by setting 
them at defiance would be ungracious; that no foreign 
government has a representative in Paraguay; that we 
1 Charles Ames Washburn, brother of Elihu B. Washburne. 



492 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 24 

have no interests there, and that if Mr. Washburn gets 
there he will be almost the only American in the territory 
and will require a naval force to protect him. 

Although taken a little aback by the statements of 
Godon, Seward had committed himself too strongly to 
back down. He said the Minister must go through the 
blockade, whether it cost $3000 or $30,000; that he must 
get the coal of the Buenos Ayres authorities and dis- 
oblige them by violating the blockade, if Mr. Washburn 
could not go without; and he (Seward) wanted to take 
Godon's dispatch and read. 

April 25, Wednesday. Major-General Benjamin F. But- 
ler is exercising a great and dangerous influence at the 
Treasury Department. He has been employed in some 
cases and is using his opportunities to press others where he 
is employed as counsel. As he has talents but no principles, 
is avaricious and unscrupulous, I have given our friends 
McCulloch and Chandler at the Treasury an occasional 
admonition concerning him. 

In 1863 the Grey Jacket, a steamer laden with cotton, 
was captured by the Kennebec on the way from Mobile to 
Cuba. The cargo and vessel were valued at about half a 
million of dollars, and were condemned on the showing of 
the captain and owners. An appeal was taken, but the 
case was so flagrant that there was no avoiding condemna- 
tion. The owners had employed various counsel, first 
Nott and others of New Orleans, then Seward and Blatch- 
f ord of New York, but all have on hearing the facts 
abandoned the case. About the first of last December it 
was put in the hands of General Butler, who commenced a 
series of intrigues and manoeuvres, and from his persistency 
and unscrupulousness had evidently a large contingent 
fee. I have heard it stated at $125,000. But he found no 
favor at the Navy Department. His last appeal with me 
was a half -threat to go to Congress and make an appeal to 
their sympathies for a man who had lost his all by this 



1866] INTRIGUES OF GENERAL BUTLER 493 

capture and condemnation. I replied that my appeal for 
sympathy in behalf of the sailors who had nobly done 
their duty in sunshine and storm, in winter and summer, 
day and night, would probably be as effective as his. He 
then changed, proposed that the captors should take 
one half and the claimant the other, surrendering by this 
arrangement the moiety which should go to the naval pen- 
sion fund. I told him that was impossible; the Secretary of 
the Navy should make no such arrangement; moreover he 
was the trustee of that fund and held it sacred. 

One other futile attempt was made in company with the 
Attorney-General, whom he persuaded to come with him, 
but after a brief talk Speed appeared to think he had been 
imposed upon and abandoned the case. 

Failing at these points, Butler commenced intriguing at 
the Treasury, where he was listened to by Chandler, and 
finally Caleb Gushing was employed at Chandler's sugges- 
tion to give a written opinion, General Butler being the 
prompter. Gushing was timid, hesitated to present his 
opinion unsustained, and General Butler drew up a pre- 
amble and resolution which he procured Thad Stevens to 
present and procured to be passed under the previous 
question, without debate, to the effect that cases of this 
description should be suspended until the judgment of the 
Supreme Court should be obtained next winter. There are 
one or two clauses in certain acts which Chase procured 
to be inserted when he was striving to absorb the whole 
government in the Treasury Department, having the Pre- 
sidency in view. These clauses Butler and Gushing made 
the foundation of their proceeding. Stevens 's resolution 
was passed on the 9th, and Cushing's opinion is dated on 
the llth. The whole thing is disgraceful even to a lobby 
agent and discreditable to the Treasury Department, which 
has, so far as the Secretary is concerned, unwittingly lent 
itself to Butler. How far the Assistant Secretary is in- 
volved is uncertain. . . . Great derangement in order to 
get a great fee has been effected. 



494 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [APRIL 27 

April 27, Friday. . . . Senator Guthrie has thrown a 
mischievous resolution into the Senate in relation to an 
order forbidding officers from visiting Washington, and 
inquiring if any have been refused permission to come here 
and appeal to the President or to Congress. The object 
is to show that naval officers are denied the privileges of 
citizens, and to make out that the Navy Department is 
arbitrary. Senator G. seemed not aware that persons on 
entering the service, officers as well as privates, surrender 
certain privileges which private citizens enjoy who are not 
in the service and subsisting on the Treasury, and subject 
themselves to certain restraints. The inquiry is designed 
to get up sympathy for the officers ; no interest is manifested 
for or given to the men, who are under greater restraint. 
. . . Senator Guthrie himself is guiltless of any mischiev- 
ous intent and has been prompted by some one, and I can- 
not be mistaken as to who that some one is. 

April 30, Monday. The Central Directory, or Stevens' s 
Reconstruction Committee, have submitted their plan of 
Reconstruction, which means division for four years longer 
at least. The papers of the day contain this extraordinary 
programme, which is an outrage, and yet is said to have 
had the approval of all the Republican members of that 
extraordinary committee. It makes me sad to see men in 
trusted and responsible positions so devoted to party, so 
trained and subservient to faction as to trifle with the wel- 
fare of a great nation. No one can read the propositions 
submitted without seeing that the whole scheme is one for 
party ascendancy. The result will be, after a struggle, 
perhaps of years, the ultimate overwhelming and dis- 
graceful defeat of the authors and their party. 



XXXVIII 

Cabinet Discussion of the Reconstruction Programme of Congress Stan- 
ton's Position Publication of the Discussion Mr. Welles mentioned 
for Senator from Connecticut Colorado admitted to the Union The 
Objections to her Admission The Question of sending a Naval Vessel 
to attend the Laying of the Atlantic Cable Captain S. P. Lee objects 
to his Appointment as Commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard, and 
Mr. Blair asks for Consideration for his Son-in-Law The Senatorial 
Situation in Connecticut Assistant Secretary Fox's Proposed Euro- 
pean Trip A Call from Captain Lee Cordial Farewells from Fox 
The President and his Cabinet serenaded Speeches of the Cabinet 
Officers Captain Lee's Orders to the Mare Island Navy Yard revoked 
His Intrigues Death of General Scott His Influence on the 
President at the Beginning of the War and his Relations with Seward 
A Constitutional Amendment reported to the Senate. 

May 1, Tuesday. We have intelligence that Valparaiso 
has been bombarded by the Spaniards. A brutal and semi- 
barbarous proceeding on the part of Spain. 

In Cabinet the President brought forward the subject of 
Reconstruction as now before Congress in the report of the 
Committee of Fifteen. He said his purpose was to know the 
opinions of the several members of the Cabinet in regard 
to these propositions of the Committee and his own policy, 
which was different. 

Seward in a very long talk expressed himself opposed to 
the plan of the Committee. Stanton broke in upon the 
President before Seward. Was very glad the President had 
brought the matter before the Cabinet in this formal man- 
ner. He had, like all the members of the Cabinet, approved 
the policy of the President from the beginning. With one 
or two others he had, he said, taken at the inception a dif- 
ferent view of negro suffrage, or, as he expressed it, of 
allowing all the people of the State to vote. But in all his 
talk, which was very loud and emphatic, he expressed no 



496 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY i 

opinion on the subject before us, either of sustaining or 
opposing the scheme of Thad Stevens and his Com- 
mittee. 

Mr. McCulloch was very decided in his opposition to the 
plan of the Committee and equally decided in favor of the 
President's policy. He declared himself not so hopeful as 
Mr. Seward, especially since reading the scheme of the 
Committee. 

Dennison, who interposed out of the usual order, 
thought it premature to express any opinion, for it was not 
yet certain what course Congress would take. 

Stanton, who should have followed McCulloch, was 
silent, evidently intending to be passed as having already 
spoken, though really giving no opinion. I was not dis- 
posed to permit any such get-off and therefore waited. 

The President, whose feelings were very intense, spoke at 
some length in regard to the condition of the country, the 
effect which these schemes must have on the efforts to re- 
establish the Union. 

Mr. Dennison again spoke at some length, expressing 
himself opposed to many things in the programme of the 
Committee, and was not prepared to say how long repre- 
sentation should be denied to the Southern States. 
Thought four years too long. 

McCulloch, who has important business at his Depart- 
ment almost always when we have grave and important 
questions, obtained permission to leave, having stated his 
views. 

The President, holding the paper in his hand, said he 
had brought the subject forward that he might know how 
each one viewed it. I remarked that was very proper and 
I trusted each would state his opinion, that I thought it 
due to him, and I then turned towards Stanton. Thus 
appealed to, and the President turning towards him also, 
Stanton said he did not approve the propositions of the 
Committee hi the present form; he believed they might be 
amended and essentially improved, and thought it worth 



1866] THE RECONSTRUCTION PROGRAMME 497 

the attempt to reconcile action between the President and 
Congress. 

I declared myself unequivocally opposed to the whole 
scheme, which I considered an outrage and a wrong. I said 
that I was not in favor of any Constitutional Amendment 
in the present condition of the country, that I knew not 
what right Congress had to pass amnesty laws or prescribe 
terms to the States. 

Stanton interrupted to say that I was opposed to any 
terms with Congress, that I was ironclad on this subject of 
Reconstruction, and had not only fifteen-inch guns leveled 
against Congress, but was for running my prow into 
them. 

I replied that I was not aware that I was unreasonable, 
but my convictions were that Congress had no authority 
to prescribe terms on which States should be represented; 
that the Constitution had done this; that each house was 
entitled to pass on the election and qualifications of each 
member of its own body. 

Stanton said that the convictions of Congress were 
exactly opposed to mine, and, therefore, I could make no 
compromise with them. I told him I could compromise 
no principle, nor consent to any usurpation. 

Dennison again said he was opposed to the plan, but 
repeated that he did not know how soon the people or 
States should be represented. I said immediately, if the 
Representatives were loyal, I wish they could be sworn in 
to-morrow. 

Harlan was very reserved. He agreed, he said, with Mr. 
Stanton in pretty much all he had said, and had no doubt 
a majority of Congress wanted to be in harmony with the 
President. 

The session was very long, extending over nearly four 
hours, most of the time on the subject of Reconstruction, 
the President speaking twice at considerable length and 
objecting to all conditions precedent to admitting loyal 
Members to the seats. 



498 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 2 

May 2, Wednesday. The papers to-day contain a synop- 
sis of what took place yesterday in the Cabinet on the sub- 
ject of Reconstruction. I have no doubt that the Pre- 
sident himself furnished the information and probably the 
report precisely as it is published. He has shown tact and 
sagacity in doing it. The report of the position of each 
member is accurate, although I think Stanton was less 
decided than stated. Nevertheless he intended that the 
President should take that impression, and I appreciate 
the adroitness of the President in giving publicity to Stan- 
ton's position as he represented himself in the Cabinet. 
The Radical friends of Stanton will be incredulous as to 
his position in the Cabinet. He must, however, content 
himself with the exposition made or openly deny it. He 
can no longer equivocate or dissemble. 

In a conversation which I had with the President yes- 
terday after the other members left, he remarked that the 
tune had come when we must know whether we had a 
united or divided Cabinet; that the Radicals had strength- 
ened themselves by constant representations that portions 
of the Cabinet were with them. 

To-day Seward remarked to me that while he should say 
nothing in regard to the opinion of his associates, he had 
said, and should repeat to others, that he was not misrepre- 
sented in the report. I told him I was glad that Stanton's 
position was so clearly defined, for I had not so understood 
him. Seward said Stanton had gone along with us so far; 
that Stanton had come into Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet under 
peculiar circumstances, and had said to him (Seward) that 
he should stand by his (Seward' s) policy while he remained 
in the Cabinet and go with him on all essential questions. 

May 3, Thursday. Had a pretty full talk with Mr. Rice, 
Chairman of the Naval Committee, on the subject of Re- 
construction. He said he did not approve of the report of 

the Rfifirmstrnr.t.irm rirvmm if/tap in n.ll rpsnAP.ts n.nH hn.d nn 



us] THE RECONSTRUCTION PROGRAMME 499 

State adopted the requirement prescribed by Congress, 
3 should be permitted to send Representatives without 
jting the action of other States. This was Bingham's 
lendment, and a majority of Congress would adopt that 
licy. 

I told him our differences were fundamental; that I did 
t admit Congress could prescribe terms or make preced- 
t conditions to any State before it could exercise the 
institutional right guaranteed to all the States of send- 
5 Senators and Representatives to make laws for the 
lole country. That this was a right guaranteed in the 
>st imposing and solemn form, yet for five months Con- 
jss had violated that Constitutional guaranty. 
The Southern people were still Rebels in heart, he said, 
d would I admit them to be represented while this was 
3 case? They were violent in their language and conduct, 
d would we allow them to take part in the government 
die that state of things continued? I told him I knew not 
w he could prevent it; men would use language that was 
ensive; but if he regarded the Constitution he would not 

that account deprive them of their rights, or lay down 
written tests. The whole scheme of imposing conditions 

the States, denying them representation, was usurpa- 
m and an outrage; Congress, not the Southern people, 
sre in this matter the criminals. I asked whether he sup- 
sed that by excluding the Southern States and people 
im the government, denying them rights guaranteed by 
B Constitution, taxing them without allowing them 
Dresentation, would conciliate, would reconcile, would 
sten restoration, make them better friends six months 
nee, or six years hence? 

May 4, Friday. The subject of Reconstruction was not 
scussed to-day in Cabinet. Seward, while the President 
is engaged with some one, remarked on the publication 
lich had been made of our last meeting, saying that he 
nchided the report had been made by Stanton, for the 



500 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAT 

papers had said it was from a Cabinet Minister, and the 
was no interest felt as regarded any one else but Stanto 
There were, he remarked, some other indications. All th 
was said playfully as he walked the room and took snu 
But I could see it was not play for Stanton, whose counte: 
ance betrayed his vexation. Seward saw it also, and wh< 
Stanton said that Seward was the only one who would ( 
this, draw up and publish proceedings hi Cabinet, - 
the subject was dropped. 

As we came out at the close of the meeting, McCulloi 
said to me that he had hoped there would have been sor 
call for a decided expression from Stanton, for the new 
papers and many honest men were disputing in regard 
the truth of the report of his views in the Cabinet expoi 
tion, and he (McC.) thought it wrong that a Cabinet Mi 
ister should occupy a false or an equivocal position on su 
a question, at such a time. In all of which I concurred. 

There is no doubt that the Radicals are surprised ai 
many of them incredulous at the enunciation of Stantoi 
remarks and position in the Cabinet. I apprehend that ] 
one was more astounded at the publication than Stant< 
himself . It ended any double course, if one had been pi; 
sued. Sumner has repeatedly assured me, most emphati 
ally, that Stanton was with him and opposed to the Pi 
sident's policy. Others have said the same. These m< 
were deceived and have been until now, and they cann 
believe they have been duped. 

The President has not been unaware of the conflict! 
statements in regard to Stanton, and for this reason adopt 
the course of calling out the individual opinions of ea 
member of his Cabinet and then took the opportunity 
throwing them in a condensed form before the public. Tl 
gives the attitude and views of the Administration and 
each member of it on the subject of the report of the Recc 
struction Committee in advance of the debate in Congre; 
and prevents misrepresentations and false assumptions 
regard to them. It has been the policy of the Radical lead* 



1866] STANTON'S POSITION 501 

to claim that the Cabinet was divided, that Stanton and 
others were with them, and hence their papers and orators 
have eulogized and magnified Stanton into enormous pro- 
portions. All this has now terminated. I did not under- 
stand Stanton as expressing himself quite so decidedly as 
he is represented to have done in the report, though it 
appeared to me he meant to be understood as represented. 
No doubt he dissembles. He said he did not approve the 
Directory plans in many respects, and if he were compelled 
to act upon them as now presented he should avow him- 
self opposed; and he thought Congress and the President 
not so far apart that they could not come together. 

I followed in direct antagonism and objected unequivo- 
cally to the whole programme, I had no faith in Constitu- 
tional amendments at this time, in the present existing state 
of affairs, with eleven States unrepresented and without 
any voice in1:he deliberations; nor could I admit that Con- 
gress could prescribe terms to the States on which they 
should be permitted to enjoy their Constitutional right 
of representation, or that Congress should usurp and take 
to itself the pardoning power, which is a prerogative of 
the Executive, nor were they to prosecute and punish the 
people without trial. I, therefore, antagonized Stanton 
purposely. He saw and felt it. Hence I think he hardly 
committed himself so fully as represented. But he does not 
deny it. Will he? 

May 5, Saturday. Senator Morgan says that in the 
debate on Lewis Campbell's appointment as Minister to 
Mexico, Wade declared in executive session he intended to 
vote in favor of no man for any appointment who favored 
the Johnson policy and opposed the policy of Congress. 
Campbell, he said, was in favor of the Johnson policy. He 
then launched off into a tirade against Maximilian, in 
which he got terribly excited, but finally closed by voting 
for Campbell, who is an Ohio man. 

The Senate rejected the nomination of Frank Blair for 



502 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MATS 

Collector at St. Louis. No man in the country, perhaps, 
did so much and so efficiently and timely against the Re- 
bellion as General Blair in Missouri at the beginning of the 
Rebellion. But he is not of the Radical faction. 

A. E. Burr, who is a member of the Connecticut Legisla- 
ture from Hartford, writes me that there is a good deal of 
feeling on the subject of Senator; thinks that a majority 
might be concentrated on me if I am so disposed. One of 
the newspaper correspondents, Ripley, has called on me on 
the same subject. R. has seen Dixon, who says he should 
like to have me elected and will do anything to bring it 
about, provided it is my wish, but he adds the difficulty is 
I will do nothing for myself. D. says there is not a doubt of 
my election if I will earnestly enter the canvass. He may 
be correct, probably is, but I cannot approve, or do, what 
others do in these matters. While I should feel gratified 
with the unsolicited compliment of such a testimonial, I do 
not so crave it as to employ or enter into such means as are 
too freely used to obtain it. If a good and true man can be 
secured I will aid him. 

May 8, Tuesday. The subject of admitting Colorado 
was to-day before the Cabinet. The bill has passed both 
houses after having been once rejected. Congress in 1863 
authorized the formation of a State constitution, and the 
people refused to take upon themselves local State govern- 
ment. Subsequently the people formally adopted it by a 
small majority in a vote of some six thousand, and elected 
Senators, who are here anxious to get their seats. After the 
proposition and Senators were rejected, it was ascertained 
the latter would vote with the Radicals, and that their 
votes would contribute to overrule and defeat the Execu- 
tive. This new light led Senators to re vise their votes. The 
Constitution restricts suffrage to the whites, but Senators 
and others who insist on negro suffrage where the blacks 
are numerous, and in States where Congress has no right to 
intervene, voted for Colorado. 



1866] THE ADMISSION OF COLORADO 5( 

Seward, McCulloch, and myself were against admittii 
the State. She had a population of less than twenty thoi 
sand, as claimed by some, and not exceeding thirty < 
thirty-five thousand, as insisted by the most strenuous f< 
admission. As a principle I have uniformly opposed recoi 
nizing and admitting States with a population below tl 
ratio for one Representative. This has always ruled. Tl 
slaveholders thrust in Florida and Arkansas as an offset 1 
Free States; and Kansas was authorized under peculiar an 
extraordinary circumstances to form a constitution wit! 
I think, less than sixty thousand. There was, perhap 
some excuse for admitting and authorizing Colorado 1 
frame a constitution when the difficulties of the count] 
and the attempts of the Rebels to lessen the number i 
States was before us. But the people then refused sel 
government. 

I therefore had no difficulty in coming to my conclusioi 
on general principles. Stanton thought it might in th 
instance be well enough to let them in and avoid furtb 
trouble. Harlan argued for admission with some abilil 
and tact, but did not meet the great underlying principl 
He thought it expedient, and with so much effect as 
cause Dennison to doubt, who was at first opposed to tl 
bill. The question was deferred. 

The subject of sending naval vessels to attend the layii 
of the Atlantic telegraph was considered. Seward, Denr 
son, and Harlan in the affirmative. McCulloch and Sta; 
ton opposed. I felt very indifferent; had advised Field 
go to Congress. Told him I should not act without autho 
ity from Congress or an order from the Executive. State 
to the President that we could, without any difficulty < 
much additional expense, detail a vessel, Mr. Seward ha' 
ing said we did not require all the four ordered to the fisl 
ing-ground. Although my faith in the success of the oces 
telegraph is not great, yet, in view of the fact that Congre 
had once ordered a vessel and of our present ability 
spare one, and the further fact that a vessel had be< 



504 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MATS 

ordered to assist or be present at laying the Russian tele- 
graph, it might be expedient to show a friendly feeling as 
regards this, and I would assent, though unwilling to 
advise it. 

The President thought it would be well for Congress to 
take up the subject, or, at all events, that we should delay 
a day or two before deciding. This I approved as the bet- 
ter course. Stanton, who had seen my previous indiffer- 
ence, immediately slapped me on the shoulder and said I 
could decide readily with the President. I said I could, for 
he usually was not far wrong. Stanton was vexed. 

May 12, Saturday. Moore, the President's Private Secre- 
tary, came to me on Wednesday, the 9th, by request of the 
President, who desired him to consult with me respecting 
orders recently issued to Captain S. P. Lee to take com- 
mand at Mare Island Navy Yard. He said the elder Blair 
was very importunate on the subject and made it a personal 
matter. I told him I was aware of what Lee was procuring 
to be done through others, and that therein he was violat- 
ing regulations and usage, but that it was characteristic of 
him. The orders to him were complimentary, for he had 
seniors who had prior claims, but I considered Lee a good 
yard officer. His case was peculiar. I had given him the 
command of the North Atlantic Squadron when other and 
older officers were entitled to the position. But, knowing 
that he had good business qualities, and that much that 
was improper was then being carried on in violation of 
blockade by Treasury men and by General Butler, I had 
purposely selected him for that position. The business por- 
tion of his duties were well performed, but as an officer he 
has not sufficient energetic fighting qualities. Some efforts 
towards getting possession of the entrance of [the] Cape 
Fear [River] and capturing Fort Fisher were proposed, but 
eventuated in nothing, and when the army finally in- 
dicated a willingness to join in a cooperative movement, 
the first step taken was to detach Lee. While in command, 



1866J CAPTAIN S. P. LEE'S APPOINTMENT 605 

however, he had been wonderfully favored in procuring 
prize money, being entitled to one twentieth of all the cap- 
tures on that extensive blockade. He had, consequently, 
accumulated a handsome fortune of over $150,000. With 
the fortune he now sought rank to which the Navy was 
opposed. I have been more blamed for favoritism to Lee 
than to any other officer. But while others blamed me for 
favors to Lee, he was dissatisfied because I did not give 
him promotion and was continually harassing my old 
friend his father-in-law to press his promotion. I had 
repeatedly assured Mr. Blair, as well as Lee, that it was 
impossible to gratify him. Both they and those opposed 
to him had done me injustice. I had in view the good of the 
service without partiality or prejudice. 

I told Moore to tell the President that Lee had now had 
about nine months' waiting orders, that every officer of his 
grade was on duty, that he could not expect to escape duty 
and remain in the service; that his rank did not entitle him 
to a squadron, but it would be unpleasant for him after 
having acted as rear-admiral to take a single ship and go 
under the command of another. I had, therefore, given 
him the California shore station, to which, however, he 
was not entitled, but as a compromise under the peculiar 
circumstances. But this duty he was trying to evade 
through political influence, and, instead of coming to the 
Department, he was intriguing and operating through his 
father-in-law and annoying the President. I requested 
him to communicate the facts in full to the President, for 
I desired him to know them and would myself speak to 
him on the subject. 

At a caucus of the Republican members of the Connecti- 
cut Legislature General Ferry on the seventh ballot was 
nominated. Senator Foster had been confident of a re- 
election, but there never was a case worse managed. His 
friends went into a caucus without qualification, having 
Governor Buckingham and Ferry for competitors. B. was 
from the same town with Foster, and the contest conse- 



506 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAT 12 

quently had a personal bearing. Ferry, being from the 
western part, slipped hi between them. I had told Dixon 
and had written to some friends that the struggle would be 
likely to eventuate in Ferry's nomination. 

Babcock and Sperry of New Haven have undertaken to 
manage the matters, and they have, as I expected they 
would, made a failure. They have been afraid of dividing 
the party, and, as the Radicals outnumber them in the 
organization, they must go against their conviction and 
do wrong. I do not believe there is vim enough among the 
friends of Johnson to make a stand in this matter. Bab- 
cock has run his head into a bag and taken others 
with him. He is afraid to withdraw it lest he should see 
something. By this action he has demoralized the mem- 
bers. 

Fox is bewildered with the idea of going out in his official 
capacity as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to Europe. 
I am sorry to see so much self-glorification. But he is 
stimulated by Seward, Grimes, and others. 

Old Mr. Blair came in to-day and had more than an 
hour's talk with me in behalf of Lee. I went over the ground 
with him, as I did with Moore. "But," said Mr. Blair, 
"I ask as a favor to myself, who have labored here in 
Washington for thirty-five years without office, that Lee 
may have a position in Washington." He said his sons, 
Montgomery and Frank, had been sacrificed, and he asked 
me as an old friend to spare Lee. I told him I was willing to 
do anything in my power for him or either of his sons, but 
I could not depart from what is right and the usages of 
the service; that Lee had been guilty of great impropriety 
in procuring him to take up his cause with the President or 
myself; that Lee had received special favors, had become 
rich in a place which others believed justly theirs, and that 
they had imputed his success to the Blair influence; that, 
were I to give Lee position here in one of the bureaus, as he, 
Mr. Blah*, requested, or were I to give him promotion as 
asked, it would cause great dissatisfaction in the service, 




FRANCIS PJJESTON ELAIK, SR. 



1866] CAPTAIN S. P. LEE'S APPOINTMENT 507 

and be charged to the Blairs; that I, as a friend, was un- 
willing that discontent against them should be incurred for 
Lee; that he ought not to absorb their influence nor strive 
to get court favor at their expense. 

Mr. Blair claimed that Lee stood next to Farragut and 
Porter in the Navy and ought to be made an admiral; says 
he would have been but for Fox, and named some things 
against Fox which I told him were incorrect. At length he 
drew out an application from Lee, but not signed though 
in his handwriting, asking a year's leave. I told him it was 
an extraordinary application, such as no one of his rank 
had made, and that Lee must know it was improper. He 
could not think, after his great pecuniary success, of re- 
maining idle in the service, nor must he strive to evade its 
duty. If he declined the Navy Yard at Mare Island, he 
might take Pensacola, or he might have a good ship, but he 
must not decline service after nine months' leisure. I told 
him I could do better for Lee if absent than if here, that 
whatever I had done for him had been unsolicited and when 
he was away. 

Mr. Blair deprecated the desolation of his house from 
this order to move; said his daughter and grandchildren 
would leave him, and he and his old woman would pack up 
and go to California also, which was very hard at seventy- 
five. I said that neither he, his wife, nor daughter would go, 
that he had been urged to this application by this improper 
view. 

May 14, Monday. Mr. Smythe, Collector in New York, 
called at my house yesterday with Senator Doolittle, and 
both were much interested in the election of Senator in Con- 
necticut. I remarked to them that the subject had been 
greatly mismanaged, and I doubted, knowing the men and 
their management, or mismanagement, whether anything 
could now be done; that Foster and his friends had been 
sanguine and full of confidence, so much so that they 
had taken no precautionary measures, and he and his 



508 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY u 

friends could not, in good faith, make farther move for him, 
and yet they would do nothing for any one else. 

Mr. Smythe said that from information which he had 
there was no doubt that Ferry would be defeated and a true 
man elected. There were, he said, three candidates spoken 
of, myself, Foster, and Cleveland; that they could do 
better with me than with either, Foster next, and Cleve- 
land last. 

I repeated that I could not well see how Foster could now 
be taken up, and yet so intense were he and his friends that 
they would engage for no others. Smythe said he would 
leave this evening and would go on to-morrow to New 
Haven, confident he could do something. 

But all will be labor lost. I have little doubt that if the 
matter were taken up sensibly the election of a true man 
could be secured. But Babcock, Sperry, Starkweather, and 
others, who had managed things at New Haven, would 
interest themselves for no one but Foster, while his chances 
are the worst after what has been done, and to now be a 
candidate would be dishonorable. 

The Democrats, who would securely control this, would 
probably unite on me sooner than any one named, but the 
Republican friends of Johnson have been manipulated by 
Foster's friends and taught to stand by their party until 
they have no independence or strength. The weak and 
simple conduct of Babcock and the Republican Johnson 
men, is disgusting. They have resolved and re-resolved 
that they will not divide the Republican Party. Conse- 
quently they must go with it in all its wrongdoing and mis- 
chief, because the Radicals, being a majority, will control 
what is called the Republican Party. This is the light, friv- 
olous training and results of Connecticut Whiggery. While 
preferring to be Johnson men and to support the Admin- 
istration, they are aiding the election of a Radical, anti- 
Johnson, anti-Administration man to the Senate, all, 
as they claim, to preserve the party, but certainly without 
regard as to consistency or principle. 



1866] FOX'S EUROPEAN TRIP 509 

May 17, Thursday. Have been some indisposed, with 
a good deal to do. Fox is about leaving, but is managing 
and contriving to get position and go abroad with eclat. 
Seward has encouraged him in this, and it is not pleasant 
for me to oppose it, although the whole proceeding is wrong 
in my opinion, or rather is such as should not be encour- 
aged. Faxon thinks the demonstration is, on the part of 
Fox, for self-glorification and with a design to steal fame at 
my expense. This may have some foundation, but I hope 
not, and believe not, in so aggravated a degree as Faxon 
and some others conjecture. The President spoke of this 
queer mission to-day in rather contemptuous terms, and 
said there were efforts on the part of some to glorify Fox as 
an indispensable part of the Government. I made the mat- 
ter as pleasant as I well could to the President, for Fox 
has been useful and I wish him to have the full benefit of it. 
To me he has been respectful and always obedient and at- 
tentive. I do not believe he intends to arrogate anything 
at my expense. If he attempts it, time will correct it. His 
work, as I understand, is to be made the agent of some of 
the South American states in building some turreted ves- 
sels and perhaps others, and he fancies that by going across 
the Atlantic in the Miantonomah he shall obtain useful 
celebrity. This, in my opinion, is the impelling motive 
and he is not, perhaps, sufficiently considerate of myself 
and others in pressing forward his scheme. 

Faxon does not believe that he intends to resign his place 
in the Department, but thinks that he means to resume 
his position here on his return. That cannot be and I am 
unwilling to believe he would, if he could, be guilty of the 
bad faith and duplicity that would be involved in such 
a procedure. 

May 18, Friday. Ferry was elected Senator on the 
part of the House of Representatives of Connecticut by 
some thirty majority on Wednesday. In the Senate the 
election was postponed for a week, three of the Republican 



consternation among the Radicals here, and I have no 
doubt at home also. A violent onset will now be made on 
the three recusant or independent Senators. Intriguers at 
New Haven, and intriguers in their respective districts 
will be at work to influence them, and I have my doubts 
whether one or more of them may not be shaken. 

In the mean time our friends should be at work upon 
others. A great mistake, however, has been committed in 
getting the members pledged for persons instead of prin- 
ciples. I have advised' that they should put themselves 
on impregnable ground for the Union, irrespective of men 
or parties. 

Seward has gone home. He told me he intended to make 
a speech while absent in favor of the President and his 
policy. Originating no measure himself, and cautious and 
calculating in adopting the plans of others, he nevertheless 
supposes that what he says has wonderful influence. I do 
not think he has ever made a speech which gave shape or 
character to a party, though usually the oracle of Weed and 
the managers of his party. Often his remarks have been 
more harmful than beneficial. His harangues at Auburn 
are studied orations, prepared after consultation with his 
confidants, and he is now pregnant with one. If it is a 
quiet baby, passive and pleasant, I shall be satisfied; if 
it has some deformities, I shall not be surprised. 

May 19, Saturday. Dixon informed me last evening 
that he was apprehensive Foster would leave his friends in 
the lurch. Brandegee and some others came on from New 
Haven and had a private interview with Fessenden, who 
took Foster in hand, and D. believes has succeeded in cap- 
turing or controlling him. I think it probable, for Foster 
has wanted stamina and decision in this instance, though 
I think he is very well disposed and possessed of a pretty 
good share of good sense, if he had the courage to 
use it. - 



1866] A CALL FROM CAPTAIN LEE 511 

May 21, Monday. Captain S. P. Lee called on me to-day 
respecting his orders to Mare Island. The President on 
Saturday showed me an application which Lee had made 
to him to be relieved from the orders and placed on leave 
for one year. Mr. Blair had left with me a similar paper, 
unsigned, however. The President inquired what he should 
do with the paper. I answered that it was an extraordinary 
application even if made to the Department, but more ex- 
traordinary in passing over the Department and applying 
to the President to rid himself of orders. 

The President said he would refer the paper to me to dis- 
pose of. [It reached me this A.M., and Lee followed it within 
half an hour. He showed a consciousness of manner in 
opening the subject, and made a half -turn apology for hav- 
ing gone to the President by saying, if he had not called on 
me, his father-in-law, Mr. Blair, had. I did not conceal 
from him my surprise at the unusual course he had pur- 
sued, the more so as his age, experience, and long attend- 
ance at Washington precluded any idea that it was the 
result of ignorance. 

I told him that he had been favored and fortunate in 
some respects beyond any officer of his grade, perhaps be- 
yond any officer in the service; that he could not expect to 
remain off duty while all others were on duty; that he had 
been eight months on waiting orders, and that no officer 
had asked a year's leave; that he assigned no reason, nor 
could I conceive of any that would justify such leave. 

He said his case was peculiar and he wished to remain in 
Washington to attend to his promotion. 

Then, said I, any officer would be entitled to the same 
privilege, and the service would soon be in a demoralized 
state ; that I did not desire for his own reputation to see him 
seated at the threshold of the Executive Mansion, or at the 
door of the Senate, beseeching for undue favors; that he 
would do well to leave his case in the hands of the Depart- 
ment, as did other officers. He certainly would fare as well 
if away as if here. 



512 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 21 

The interview was long and unpleasant. Again this even- 
ing he has called at my house to repeat the same plea. 

The President, I find, is by no means pleased with the steps 
that have been taken in regard to Fox's going to Russia. 
He thinks that injustice is designed towards me by Seward, 
certain Radicals, and by Fox himself. His surmises are 
probably correct, except as regards Fox, who does not wish 
to do me wrong, though, perhaps, not sufficiently ^consider- 
ate in his efforts for this mission; and on other occasions 
the same fault may appear. 

May 22, Tuesday. Little of interest transpired to-day 
hi Cabinet. Wrote Lee repeating the order to Mare Island. 
But for a word from the President he would have been 
court-martialed. He presumes greatly on his connection 
with the Blairs and would himself monopolize all that is 
due them; is full of low intrigue, is selfish and is avaricious, 
regardless of what belongs to others. 

May 23, Wednesday. Fox called on me last evening 
and unexpectedly bade me farewell. Said he would not 
trust himself to call at the Department to-day. He was 
very much affected, said words were wanting to express his 
high respect and admiration for me and the qualities which 
I possessed for the position which I filled. Spoke of over 
five years' intercourse, during which there had not been one 
unpleasant word, nor, as he was aware, an unpleasant 
thought between us. I have not time now to speak of F. 
and his qualities, but shall do so. He has been useful to 
the country and to me, relieving me of many labors and 
defending me, I believe, always. His manner and ways 
have sometimes given offense to others, but he is patriotic 
and true. 

The President and his Cabinet were serenaded this even- 
ing. I am opposed to these methods of calling out public 
men; have respectfully suggested to both Presidents Lin- 
coln and Johnson that it was not advisable to address gath- 



1866] CAPTAIN LEE'S ORDERS REVOKED 513 

erings at such times, and was determined not to break over 
the rule myself. I had, therefore, given the subject no at- 
tention and was embarrassed when a crowd of perhaps a 
thousand appeared before my door with a band of music. 
Declining to make remarks, I stated that I approved the 
policy of the Administration and was for the union of the 
States and the rights of the States. 

I understand Stanton read off a long address and McCul- 
loch and Dennison each made speeches. The latter ac- 
quitted himself with credit, and Stanton read his prepared 
address from his door, a man standing each side of him 
with a lighted candle. Dennison made a soothing speech 
for the party; said everything was lovely. Speed ran away, 
and Harlan would not show himself. 

May 28, Monday. Events have crowded thick, and I 
have been unable to find time to record them. Judge Blair 
called on me yesterday with a request that I would, for his 
father's sake, revoke the orders of Captain Lee to Mare Is- 
land. Lee has been busy and mischievous in his intrigues 
to evade duty. I am told has seen every Senator but one 
and related his services and sorrows. As a last resort he 
threatens to take his wife and child to California and thus 
leave his father-in-law's family desolate. His persisting in 
this respect has made Mr. Blair, who is now seventy-five, 
sick and is likely to permanently affect his health. 

Judge Montgomery Blair, who for nine years, he tells me, 
has not spoken to Lee, and who would, I have no doubt, 
feel relieved were Lee in California, earnestly requested for 
his father's sake, that the orders might be revoked. I fin- 
ally told him that I would, with the approval of the Presi- 
dent, to whom Lee himself had appealed, revoke them and 
place Lee on leave for two months. The President, on whom 
we called, assented, and I this morning sent Lee a revoca- 
tion of the order to Mare Island. He knew the fact yester- 
day. Two hours after the order revoking his detail to Mare 
Island, I received a long communication of eight or ten 



514 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 28 

foolscap pages, dated the 26th., accepting the order, and 
stating he should proceed to Mare Island by next steamer. 
I immediately wrote him that he was at liberty to go or 
remain, and that I made it optional with him to present 
a future claim for favor for indulgence granted. 

The intrigues of this man to get his orders counter- 
manded have been as wonderful as disgusting. His wife 
was made to harass her old father and threaten him with 
an interruption of domestic arrangement and family repose 
if he was not permitted to remain. Appliances and meas- 
ures through others were used. My wife was compelled to 
listen to lamentations on account of the cruel orders of the 
Department. I called on the President the latter part of 
last week, and there were sixty or eighty children from the 
orphan asylum with the matron and others, and I was im- 
plored, for the children's sake, to revoke the orders, that 
Mrs. Lee could remain, for she was one of the managing 
directors of the school, etc., etc. 

The President invited me to come and see him on Satur- 
day. He was not reconciled to the arrangement in regard 
to Fox. We went over the whole subject, and I told him 
Fox had rendered great service, such as I thought would 
justify his visiting Europe for six months in behalf of the 
Department. Among other things the President has re- 
ceived from some quarter an impression that Fox is a Rad- 
ical and strong in that interest. This, I think, is one of the 
intrigues of Lee, through the elder Blair. 

May 29, Tuesday. At the Cabinet-meeting word was 
received of the death of Lieutenant-General Scott at West 
Point at the advanced age of eighty. He was great in stat- 
ure, and had great qualities with some singular weaknesses 
or defects. Vanity was his great infirmity, and that was 
much exaggerated by political or party opponents. He had 
lofty political aspirations in former years, but they had ex- 
pired before him. Courteous, deferential, and respectful to 
his official superiors always, he expected and required the 



1866] DEATH OF GENERAL SCOTT 515 

same from others. Though something of a politician, I do 
not think his judgment and opinion in regard to public af- 
fairs were always correct or reliable. In the early stages of 
the late Civil War I thought, and still think, his counsels 
were not wise, and yet they received extraordinary favor 
and had great weight with President Lincoln. My impres- 
sions are that Mr. Seward persuaded the President that 
the opinions and advice of General Scott were of more 
value than those of any others or all others, and Seward was 
before Mr. Lincoln's inauguration thought to be the coming 
man. This he used and contrived by flattery to infuse into 
General S. the advice on public affairs which he wished to 
have commended to the President when he made military 
inquiries. 

The course of the General at the beginning of our troubles 
was equivocal and unreliable. He began right and with 
good advice to Mr. Buchanan to garrison the forts of the 
South. A small military force in different localities would 
have served as rallying-points, strengthened the union 
sentiment and checked disunion. But he seemed to have 
doubted his own advice, halted, and after Congress con- 
vened in 1860 would fall into Mr. Seward's views and was 
ready to let the "wayward sisters go in peace." He, in 
those days, imbibed an impression, common among the 
politicians in Washington, that Mr. Lincoln, the newly 
elected President, was unequal to the position, for he had 
not figured on the national arena. It was supposed, there- 
fore, that one of his Cabinet would be the managing man 
of the incoming administration, and that Mr. Seward, his 
principal competitor in the Republican nominating con- 
vention, who was to be the Secretary of State, would be 
that manager. This was the expectation of Mr. Seward 
himself, as well as of General Scott and others. He had 
been a conspicuous party leader for twenty years, with a 
reputation much overrated for political sagacity, and with 
really very little devotion to political principles, which he 
always subordinated to his ambition. It was not surpris- 



516 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [MAY 29 

ing that General Scott viewed him as the coming man, and 
as Mr. Seward was a man of expedients more than prin- 
ciple, he soon made it obvious that he intended to have 
no war, but was ready to yield anything the Constitu- 
tion itself if necessary to satisfy the Secessionists. The 
General under this influence abandoned his early recom- 
mendations and ultimately advised surrendering all the 
forts. 

The Senate, after many caucuses on the part of the Re- 
publican members, have an amendment of the Constitu- 
tion modified from that reported by the construction, or 
obstruction, committee. This amendment may be less of- 
fensive than that which passed the House by excluding one 
of the States from any voice or participation, but it ought 
not to receive the sanction of the Senate. Yet I have little 
doubt that it will and that the canvassing has been a pro- 
cess of drilling the weak and better-minded members into 
its support. Disgraceful as it may seem, there is no doubt 
that secret party caucus machinery has been in operation 
to carry through a Constitutional Amendment. Senators 
have committed themselves to it without hearing opposing 
arguments, or having any other discussion than that of a 
strictly party character in a strictly private meeting. Of 
course this grave and important matter is prejudged, pre- 
determined. Eleven States are precluded from all repre- 
sentation in either house, and, of the Senators in Wash- 
ington, all not pledged to a faction are excluded from the 
caucus when the decision is made. This is the statesman- 
ship, the legislation, the enlightened political action of the 
present Congress. Such doctrines, management, and prin- 
ciples, or want of principles, would sooner or later ruin any 
country. 

I happen to know that Fessenden had long interviews 
with Stanton last week, though I know not the subject- 
matter of their conferences. Fessenden sometimes hesi- 
tates to support a wrong measure. Seward has a personal 
party in Congress, men who seldom act on important 



1866] SEWARD'S PARTY IN CONGRESS 517 

questions in opposition to him and his views. All of these 
men vote in opposition to the President's policy. Raymond 
alone vacillates and trims, but this is with an understand- 
ing, for Raymond and Seward could, if necessary, carry 
others with them, provided they were earnestly disposed. 



XXXIX 

The Fenian Situation on the Great Lakes What to do with the Captured 
Fenians Seward's Position as a Supporter of the Administration 
The President issues a Proclamation in regard to the Fenians Attor- 
ney-General Speed's Preliminary Order Changes in the Cabinet con- 
sidered Call for a National Convention of Friends of the Union pro- 
posed The President reads his Message to the Cabinet Dennison 
fails to concur, and the President strikes out the Concurrence Clause 
Intrigues of Seward and Weed in connection with the Convention Call 
The Connecticut Senate adopts the Constitutional Amendment 
Party Politics and the Convention Call. 

June 2, Saturday. There was no Cabinet-meeting yes- 
terday, and labor in the Department was suspended on 
account of the funeral of Lieutenant-General Scott. 

Seward sends me a note in pencil, signed by his 'initials, 
with a telegraph from Dart, District Attorney of Western 
New York, stating that Captain Bryson wanted two tugs 
to assist him in guarding the river. Seward says, in pencil, 
that the President thinks I had better charter the 
steamers. He sent his clerk, Mr. Chew, with this note. 
The whole thing was one of those low, intriguing, petty, 
contemptible proceedings, shunning responsibility, to 
which Seward sometimes resorts. I am sorry to write so of 
one in his position and an associate, but I expressed the 
matter to Chew without hard words, showing Seward's 
weakness, [and saying] that this is a war on the Irish in 
which he, Stanton, and Grant fear to do their duty, but 
wish me to assume it. 

I called on the President and spoke of the management 
of this Fenian movement a little earnestly, and a little 
freely. Reminded him that I had some weeks ago, when 
the subject was brought forward in Cabinet, suggested 
that the Irish population was an element in our politics, 



1866] FENIAN SITUATION ON THE LAKES 519 

and, therefore, it seemed proper that there should be unity 
in the Cabinet and among high officials. I consequently 
proposed that General Grant, who was stationing the mili- 
tary forces on the frontiers West and South, should make a 
formal communication in accord with the Secretary of 
War, which all could approve and with which we should all 
be identified. Stanton was alarmed, I saw; did not think it 
necessary to take such steps ; and from that time the subj ect 
has been dropped. I remarked to the President that the 
proceedings had been singular; that this Fenian move- 
ment had appeared to me to be a great bubble, never- 
theless there was no denying the fact that large numbers 
were engaged in it ; that they had large supplies of arms ; 
that along our frontier from Eastport to Detroit there had 
been gatherings of armed men threatening to cross into 
Canada; that we had sent a naval force by request to 
Eastport; that our only gunboat on the Lakes had been 
detained by special request at Buffalo ; and now the Secre- 
tary of State was calling on me to charter steamers and arm 
them; chartering vessels for military purposes belonged 
properly to the Army or War Department. By treaty stip- 
ulation we are to have but one naval vessel on the Lakes. 
Where, I asked him, were the revenue cutters which per- 
formed police duty? In all this time the War Department 
has done nothing. No proclamation has been issued. How 
and by what authority are we to capture or interfere with 
prisoners? 

The President said it would be well to communicate with 
Commander Bryson, of the naval steamer Michigan, and 
ascertain whether additional vessels were wanted. I said 
that we had revenue cutters on the Lakes, but none were 
at Buffalo, where they were most wanted; that the Michi- 
gan had been detained there now some weeks awaiting a 
cutter. He thought I had better see the Secretaries of 
Treasury and State. 

McCulloch was confident there were cutters at Buffalo, 
but on sending for the clerk in charge he found he was mis- 



520 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 2 

taken. He said he had turned the whole subject of Fenian- 
ism, over to Attorney-General Speed, who is devoted to 
Stanton and Seward. 

Seward was in a fog. Did not want to issue a proclama- 
tion. I asked what the naval vessels were to do, what 
authority I had to charter steamers if there was not a state 
of war. If it was police duty, he or the Treasury should 
attend to it. I inquired about the military. He said Stan- 
ton wanted to keep clear of this question. I well knew 
this, and he wants me to do duties which belong to him 
and thus enlist the Irish element against the Administra- 
tion. 

June 4, Monday. Bryson telegraphed yesterday that he 
had captured seven hundred Fenians crossing the river at 
Black Rock. I sent the telegram to the President and to 
Seward, and soon after called on the President. He seemed 
a little perplexed. Said we had an elephant on our hands. 
I asked whether they were prisoners of war and what was 
to be done with them. He thought we must wait and we 
should soon have inquiries. 

Shortly after my return Seward sent his carriage for me. 
I went to his house. He and Speed were sitting on the back 
porch. Speed had a telegram from Dart, District Attor- 
ney, stating the capture and making inquiries. Seward 
asked about the prisoners and what accommodations the 
Navy had. I told him none whatever and that these men 
could hardly be considered prisoners of war, even if we had 
accommodations; that they ought, if prisoners of war, at 
once to be turned over to the custody of the military. He 
said that would not do. Stanton wanted nothing to do with 
them, there was no military force there. I told him there 
were officers and they could call on the militia or call out 
volunteer companies in Buffalo. This would be necessary, 
for such a number could not be retained by the civil au- 
thorities without a guard. He said, " Let them run away." 
Speed said that would not do. There might be and prob- 



1866] THE CAPTURED FENIANS 521 

ably would be extradition claims for the leaders. I asked 
them if they thought that these men were prisoners of war, 
for I did not. Nor did I know how far their capture would 
be justified. 

Seward said the capture was all right; they should, per- 
haps, be considered prisoners of state; that he and Speed 
had talked over the matter before I came, and he had pre- 
pared a couple of telegrams. Fred Seward read one, which 
was signed by Speed. Seward proposed that I should tele- 
graph Bryson that he, Seward, would take charge of them 
as prisoners of state. Said Dart must attend to them. I 
thought the marshal the proper person. He said that was 
the same thing. Asked how much it would cost to feed 
them, whether it could be done for a dollar each day. I 
told him it would cost more than that, for he could not con- 
fine them in Buffalo jail, or any inclosure, but must have 
a guard. I did not see how he could get along without 
military help, which would necessarily be attended with 
expense. He said he would send word to Meade. 

I again adverted to the matter of a proclamation when 
such movements were being made upon the border, but 
Seward interrupted me, said no, that was not necessary. 
The thing was just right. He felt, he said, very happy over 
it. Wanted neither Speed nor myself should say anything 
about the matter until the regular Cabinet-meeting on 
Tuesday. 

Governor Morgan at my house last evening introduced 
the subject of Reconstruction and the position of things 
in the Senate, remarking, as though casually, there really 
was now very little difference between the President and 
Congress. I promptly, and perhaps unwisely in my 
promptness, differed with him, and told him it was not 
wise to attempt to deceive ourselves in the matter, that 
the difference was broad, deep, and such as could not be 
reconciled. 

He asked if I did not think the proposed amendment of 
the Constitution, of the Senate, an improvement on that 



522 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 4 

which had passed the House; and whether that was not a 
step towards getting together. I told him that for myself, 
without speaking for others, I was opposed to the scheme 
for changing the Constitution now before Congress and 
opposed to any amendment while one third of the States 
were excluded from participating or giving their views, 
deprived, in fact, of their rightful representation; that I, 
therefore, did not feel as though there could be harmonious 
action, and it appeared to me a mistake to suppose that 
the President, a Constitutionalist, and the exclusionists, 
who were not, were likely to act together. 

I have no doubt that Morgan came expressly to sound 
me and ascertain whether we would be united on the ex- 
clusion plan. Not unlikely Seward sent him. Morgan has 
evidently been trapped in the caucus into a pledge, direct 
or implied. 

June, 5, Tuesday. At the Cabinet-meeting an hour or 
more was wasted in discussing a claim of Madame Berti- 
natti, a piece of favoritism in which the President has been 
imposed upon by Seward and Stanton. It seemed to me 
that it was brought forward and talked over for the express 
purpose of excluding more important subjects. There is in 
the Cabinet not that candor and free interchange of opin- 
ions on the great questions before the country that there 
should be. Minor matters are talked over, often at great 
length. 

As McCulloch and myself came away, we spoke of this 
unpleasant state of things, and we came to the con- 
clusion that we would, as a matter of duty, communicate 
with the President on this subject of want of frankness 
and freedom in the Cabinet, also in regard to his general 
policy and the condition of public affairs. The great mis- 
take, I think, is in attempting to keep up the Republican 
organization at the expense of the President. It is that 
organization which the conspirators are using to destroy 
the Executive. 



1866] SEWARD'S POSITION 523 

June 6, Wednesday. Montgomery Blair still persists that 
Seward is false to the President and that he and Stanton 
have an understanding. There are many strange things 
in Seward's course, and he is a strange man. I am inclined 
to think he is less false to the President than adhesive to 
the Secretary of State. He does not like Johnson less, but 
Seward more. Seward is afraid of the Democrats and does 
not love the Republicans. But he feels that he is identified 
with the Republicans, thinks he has rendered them service, 
and considers himself, under the tutoring of Thurlow 
Weed, as more than any one else the father of the party. 
The managers of the party dislike him and distrust him, 
fear that he will by some subtlety injure them, and do not 
give him their confidence. The Democrats look upon him 
as a puzzle, a Mephistopheles, a budget of uncertainties, 
and never have and never will trust him. 

The President believes Seward a true supporter of his 
Administration. I think he means to support it. The Pre- 
sident finds him a convenience, but does not always rely 
upon his judgment. His trust in Seward begets general 
distrust of the Administration. It is remarkable that none 
of Seward's devoted friends men who under Weed 
breathe through his nostrils sustain the President on his 
great measures. Raymond has been a whiffler on public 
measures, but no others have ever doubted, or dared express 
a doubt of, the Radical policy. This puzzles me. 

Stanton is very anxious to retain his place, and yet he 
has a more intimate relation with the Radical leaders than 
with the President or any member of the Cabinet. His 
opinion and judgment, I think, the President values more 
than he does Seward's, yet he distrusts him more, feels 
that he is insincere. But Stanton studies to conform to the 
President's decisions and determinations when he cannot 
change them, apparently unaware that he occupies an 
equivocal position, both with the President and the public. 

June 7, Thursday. The President has finally issued a 



524 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 7 

proclamation in regard to the Fenians. It should have 
appeared earlier, but Seward has counseled delay. Speed 
put out a preliminary order, which appeared to me to be 
designedly mischievous. I so said to the President, who 
remarked that it had struck him as offensive, and he so told 
Speed before it was published, yet it was not altered. The 
effect will be likely to throw the Irish against the Adminis- 
tration, or make them, at all events, indifferent towards it, 
whereas this all might have been different. 

It is one of many little things which impresses me there 
is intended mischief towards the President. Speed acts 
with Seward and Stanton thoroughly, and his peculiarly 
worded order, if not suggested by them, is just what they 
wished. 

June 8, Friday. But little of importance at the Cabinet. 
I had some conversation with the President after adjourn- 
ment, and in the evening McCulloch and myself called 
upon him by appointment. Our conversation was frank, 
extending more than an hour. We all concurred that it 
was not possible to go on much longer with a view of pre- 
serving the integrity of the Republican Party, for the 
Radicals are using the organization to injure the President. 
There is direct antagonism between the leaders who control 
Congress and the Administration. The Democrats in Con- 
gress are more in harmony with the Administration than 
are the Radicals; then why repel the Democrats and 
favor the Radicals? 

We McCulloch and myself spoke of the want of 
cordial and free intercourse among the members of the 
Cabinet, that important questions touching differences in 
the Republican Party were never discussed at our meetings, 
that it was obvious we did not concur in opinion, and, there- 
fore, the really important topics were avoided. The Pre- 
sident admitted and lamented this, as he has done to me 
repeatedly. He expressed his surprise that Harlan and 
Speed should, with these understood views, desire to 



1866] CABINET CHANGES CONSIDERED 525 

remain. I asked if there were not others among us as 
objectionable and more harmful. McCulloch said he could 
not believe Seward was faithless, that he fully agreed with 
him whenever they had conversed. I admitted the same as 
regarded Seward and myself, still there were some things 
I could not reconcile. He is not treacherous to the Pre- 
sident, but is under the influence of Stanton and acts with 
him. His intimates, as well as Stanton's, in Congress, 
voted steadily with the Radicals; his speech at Auburn was 
a whistle for the Republicans to keep united and repelled 
Democrats. The President was reluctant to give up 
Seward, whose equivocal course is characteristic, but evi- 
dently had some doubts as to his sincerity and ulterior 
purpose. He suggested that Seward should be called in to 
a conference and come to an explicit understanding. This 
we all concurred in, though I remarked we should have fair 
words and no decisive action. But it was left to the Pre- 
sident to invite a meeting. 

June 11, Monday. Went to-day to Annapolis and exam- 
ined the school and premises. Midshipmen had just com- 
pleted the annual examination and were feeling merry 
and well. Jenkins and Commodore Radf ord accompanied 
me. 

June 12, Tuesday. Not much of importance before the 
Cabinet. Some little attempt to converse on general sub- 
jects. Seward, McCulloch, and myself were first there, and 
allusion was made to our getting together and coming to an 
understanding on the true condition of affairs. Seward 
looked a little sharp, I thought, at me, and said he had no 
objection, but he knew not that any good would come of it. 
He said he was preparing a paper which would bring all 
things right, but was not yet quite ready. To what he 
alludes I know not and cannot yet conjecture, but I have 
little faith in it as assuring any useful purpose for the 
Administration or the country. 



526 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES 

June 13, Wednesday. Dined this evening at 
the Spanish Minister. The banquet was given in 
of Dulce, late Governor-General of Cuba. Seward 
Stanton were the only Cabinet-members besides 
who were present. Sir Frederick Bruce, Montholon, B r< J n 
Gerolt, etc., etc., were present. General Dulce does * 1M * 
speak nor understand English, and therefore all comrcr*** 1 " 
tion was through an interpreter. As I sat at his right, ****** 
could not talk Spanish, we were not very sociable. He i^ :i 
quiet, gentlemanly man with little of the look of a Span*-* 1 
grandee. 

I was sorry to hear Seward and Stanton chuckling o vcr 
an allowance which they had succeeded in getting f r 
Mrs. Bertinatti, the wife of the Italian Minister. Th<*>* 
evidently thought it an adroit piece of management, a-* 8 ** 
I judge the President has been misled in regard to it. 3V I *"*** 
B. was a Rebel Mrs. Bass, of Mississippi, and her clftlfti 
unjust. I apprehended it should not have been allowed. 

The President has made the annual Executive appoint- 
ments of midshipmen. In this he exhibited more pains- 
taking than Mr. Lincoln, and gave less authority to ni<* 
which I did not regret. Usually Mr. Lincoln specified two 
or three special cases and then turned over the residue* to 
me. Mr. Johnson desired me to go over the applicants 
twice with him in detail, got, as far as he could, particulur! 1 **, 
and retained the whole schedule of names for more fclnin 
a week, occasionally speaking of some one or more to m*. 
His aim seemed to be to confer the appointment on list* 
poor and deserving, regardless of locality, names, and influ- 
ence. His selections were probably good ones, but so it if* 
of them would have been different had the choice devolve*! 
on me. 

June 14, Thursday. The House yesterday passed the 
Senate proposition to change the Constitution. It wa& 
before that body about two hours and was passed under 
the previous question. Such a reckless body, ready to break 



1866] FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT PASSED 527 

up the foundations of the government, has never been as- 
sembled, and such legislation, regardless of the organic 
law, would not only destroy public confidence but ruin the 
country. All is for party, regardless of right or of honest 
principle. 

Representations are sent out that Congress has made 
great concessions in adopting the Senate's proposition, 
that they have yielded about everything, and that the 
President is pretty well satisfied with the question as now 
presented. There is design in all this, and some professed 
friends of the President are among the most active in it. 
The New York Times, and papers strongly under the influ- 
ence of Seward and Weed, as well as their partisans, main- 
tain these views. Thurlow Weed has been here within a 
few days and is always on errands of mischief. All looks 
to me like a systematic plan to absorb the President, or to 
destroy him. He still leans on Seward and seems under his 
influence, though with doubts and occasional misgivings. 
Seward himself defers to Stanton, is becoming afraid of 
him. That Seward is cheated I cannot believe, and if he is 
not cheated I am constrained to believe the President is. 
And who is to undeceive him? I have on more than one oc- 
casion suggested my doubts, but while he has received my 
suggestions attentively he has pondered in obvious distress, 
and the subject is of so delicate a nature that I cannot do 
more. 

At the very time that the House was adopting this 
Constitutional change, Green Clay Smith was nominated 
Governor of Montana. Smith professes to be with the 
President, but went with the Radicals on the test oath, and 
is made Governor. 

June 15, Friday. Nothing special at Cabinet. On Tues- 
day Seward submitted a correspondence between Schenck 
and Romero, the Mexican Minister. It was a very im- 
proper proceeding, and R. evidently thought it wrong in 
giving a copy to the Secretary of State. Seward mentioned 



528 DIARY OF GIDEON WELLES [JUNE 15 

it as of little moment, a sort of irregularity. Stanton 
said there was nothing wrong so far as Schenck was con- 
cerned, but that it was a questionable proceeding on the 
part of Romero. I declared my entire disapproval of the 
whole transaction and that it was one of the many indica- 
tions of ignoring and crowding on the Executive. 

The others were silent, but, after a little earnest talk, 
Seward said he would give the subject further considera- 
tion. To-day he brought forward the correspondence with 
an indorsement disapproving it and said he should com- 
municate it to Romero. 

Senator Doolittle took breakfast with me this morning. 
We went over the political questions and discussed what 
had best be done. Both were satisfied that the time had 
arrived when the Administration must take a stand. The 
game of the Radicals and of certain conspicuously pro- 
fessed friends of the President, that the Republican Party 
must be sustained and kept united at any sacrifice, even the 
surrender of the Constitution in some of its important 
features, and to the jeopardy of the Union itself, must be 
checked, and the opposition to any such policy made 
clearly manifest. We called on the President and made 
known our opinions. He concurred and thought a prompt 
call for a national convention of friends of the Union 
should be issued. Doolittle agreed to undertake to draw 
up such a call, but desired that I would also place on paper 
my views. He proposed that the call should be signed by 
the members of the Cabinet, or such of them as approved 
the measure. I told them that I, personally, had no objec- 
tion, but I questioned its propriety and effect. 

McCulloch, with whom I had a brief interview after 
Cabinet-meeting, told me that the elder Blair was prepar- 
ing the call. I saw Judge Blair this evening and found him 
much engaged, yet not altogether satisfied. He expresses 
apprehension that Seward has control of the President and 
has so interwoven himself into the mind and course of the 



1866] PROPOSED UNION CONVENTION 529 

crats must go forward independent of both President and 
Congress. Says the Democratic leaders, many of whom he 
has seen, such as Dean Richmond, Dawson, and others, say 
they will go in under the President's lead provided he will 
rid himself of Seward, but they have no confidence in him, 
would rather give up Johnson than retain Seward. Gov- 
ernor Andrew of Massachusetts takes a similar view. B. 
says his father has had a talk with the President; that he 
himself has written him fully; that he advised the President 
not to dismiss Harlan unless Seward also went ; that the 
President expressed doubts whether the Senate would con- 
firm two Cabinet officers; that he was told there would be 
no difficulty; if there were, he would let the assistants carry 
on the Departments, and assign General Grant ad interim 
to the War; that Grant had been consulted and assented to 
the arrangement. 

June 18, Monday. Senator Doolittle brought me last 
evening the rough draft of a proposed call for a national 
Union convention which he had prepared. Some of the 
points were well put, but there was too much restriction, 
too much fear that we should have men we did not care 
to fellowship with, although we might agree on present 
issues. To this I excepted, but my strongest point was the 
omission to meet and present the real issue, our objec- 
tions to the proposed change of the Constitution which has 
passed the two houses of Congress. 

" What," said I, "are the reasons for calling a convention 
at this time? Is it not because the faction in Congress, 
assisted by schemers out of Congress, have concocted a 
scheme under party excitement an