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“Your views of policy coincide with my own, and had it seemed to be the will of the people that I should take the responsibilities of government I should not have refused, though I could not seek such a place. But, through the natural partialities of the people for the President, and the systematic operation of the Postmaster-General, and those holding office under him, a preference for the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln was created, to which I thought it my duty to bow cheerfully and unhesitatingly. It did not cost me a regret to do so. That, since then, I have been so maliciously pursued by the Blair family, is what was wholly unexpected. That their slanders have the apparent, though I am sure not the real, indorsement of the President, is a new source of pain to me. No good can, I think, come of the probable identification of the next administration with the family. The political future, in consequence of it, has already become clouded and doubtful."
The reference to the Blair family meant merely that Lincoln would not join in a feud between General Blair and Chase. The bad blood continued, especially as each wished to control the patronage connected with the Treasury Department. Finally, in June, Chase resigned, for the fourth time, it is said, and Lincoln accepted, frankly on the ground that their relations had become too strained for further work together. The President made a bad nomination, David Todd of Ohio, who declined, and then Senator Fessenden of Maine, chairman of the Committee on Finance, an excellent choice, was with difficulty induced to accept. Chase, within a week after his retirement, said that he was then inclined to agree with Pomeroy, who would not support Lincoln, but he added that he was “not willing now to decide what duty may demand next fall.” In September he visited Washington, saw Lincoln, and declared in his favor. Just after this Chief Justice Taney died. Sumner, Stanton, and others were in favor of giving Chase the place. Opponents of the move said he did not know enough law, as his life had been almost entirely political. Lincoln waited several weeks before acting, although his mind was probably made up. Chase says in his diary that Lincoln told a friend of his June 30 that he intended to appoint Chase if a vacancy occurred in the chief justiceship, Taney then being ill. Warden, Chase's biographer, quotes Sumner as telling him that Lincoln proposed to Sumner the plan of sending for Chase, and frankly telling him that he would make the best chief justice we ever had if he could only get rid of his presidential ambition. Sumner. thought that this course would lead to misinterpretation of Lincoln's motives, and also displease Chase, so the President made the appointment without exacting any pledge. As Chase was already removed from Lincoln's own way, the President's motive in wishing him out of politics was doubtless mainly the genuine belief that dabbling in them would injure his work on the bench. To George S. Boutwell, however, Lincoln said, after Chase's nomination : “ There are three reasons why he should be nominated, and one why he should not be. In the first place, he occupies a larger place in the public mind, with reference to the office, than any other person. Then we want a man who will sustain the Legal Tender Act and the Proclamation of Emancipation. We cannot ask a candidate what he would do, and if we did and he should answer, we should only despise him for it. But he wants to be President, and if he does not give that up it will be a great injury to him and a great injury to me. never be President."
Another seeker of the same prize was Fremont. Among his supporters the best known was Wendell Phillips, who said he should look upon Lincoln's reëlection as meaning the end of the Union, or reconstruction on terms worse than disunion. Other Fremont men described the President's “imbecile and vacillating policy.” They got together in small numbers for a mass convention in May, and nominated their man. Lincoln, when told that the convention was so small, took up the Bible, and read from Samuel these lines, “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him ;
and he became a captain over them; and there were in all about four hundred men.”
In reference to the opposition of Wendell Phillips, Wade, Davis, and others, he recalled an Illinois farmer who, at his repast, was interrupted by the exclamation of his son:
“ Hold on, dad! there's skippers in that cheese you're eating."
“Never mind, Tom, if they can stand it, I can.”
Fremont's letter of acceptance attacked the President, and hinted that if the Republicans in their approaching convention at Baltimore, would choose another candidate, he would withdraw. The Fremont people attacked the administration not only for its vacillation but for its use of patronage. It was undoubtedly true that all the resources of the administration, including the War Department, in spite of Stanton's opposition to some of the methods, were used to secure the President's renomination and reëlection. But these things did not bother the people. The only thing that counted much with them was military success, and Lincoln's chances, in spite of his real popularity, seemed to hang largely on the army. Fremont soon saw that he was in for little more than ridicule, but he would only retire on condition that the arch-enemy of the radicals, Blair, should leave the cabinet. Lincoln did not feel strong enough to take needless chances, and he secured Blair's resignation without losing his support. Fremont withdrew.
In commenting on his difficulty in satisfying the politicians when he was choosing successors to Blair and to Bates, who also resigned in this year, Lincoln said, “I suppose that if the twelve apostles were to be chosen nowadays, the shrieks of locality would have to be heeded.” Some idea of the constant pressure for office is given by a little tale about a delegation that called on the President to request the appointment of a certain man as commissioner to the Sandwich Islands. They urged among other things that he was in bad health and residence in the Islands would benefit him. “Gentlemen,” said Lincoln, “I am sorry to say that there are eight other applicants for the place, and they are all sicker than your man.”
Lincoln was certainly a politician among the politicians, as a number of illustrations will show. George W. Julian, one of the malcontent members of Congress, whom Lincoln had every reason to wish to please, was renominated, but not recognized as the regular nominee by one of the Republican newspapers, the editor of which happened to be commissioner of patents. Lincoln assured Julian that the editor should support him or lose his head, and the paper shortly after changed its mind. His letters show him trying for an opportunity to conciliate Governor Sey