by Gideon Welles

June 30, Thursday. All were surprised to-day with the resignation of Secretary Chase and the nomination of Governor 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 perhaps 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 common 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 indicates that, if there be any system in the movement. The 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 “Bubbles,” – 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 astonishment 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 surprise 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 expressed, – 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 expedients 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 resignation, 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 circumstances to favor his going, – there is a financial gulf ahead.

by Gideon Welles

            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 appointment of Field, Assistant Secretary, to be Assistant Treasurer 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.

by Gideon Welles

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

            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 sustained.

by Gideon Welles

            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 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 authority 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, regardless 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 President, which he wished me to deliver. Mr. O. 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 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 Senator 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.

by Gideon Welles

            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  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 accomplish this. It is most unjust. The money honestly due to government creditors should not be withheld for Treasury schemes, or to retrieve its mistakes.

            I am daily more dissatisfied with the Treasury management. 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 dissent from, or doubts even, of his measures is considered as a declaration of hostility and an embarrassment of his administration. 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 capricious 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.

by Gideon Welles

            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 document, 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 submit 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 members 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 conclusion 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 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 inadequate; 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 inadequate. But this is not advisable, even were it strictly correct and allowable. The ends desired will be accomplished by this punishment. A more severe one, such as he suggests, will endanger a reaction.

            The President was in very good spirits at the Cabinet. His journey has done him good, physically, and strengthened 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 himself 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 President. 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 seldom 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 members are generally excluded.

by Gideon Welles

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 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, guaranteeing 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 telegram 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 Philadelphia, 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 exchange for cotton and products of the country, – plausible and taking rascality. The President indorsed that he approved the object. On this General Butler granted a permit. 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.

I showed the papers to Seward and Blair, and was disposed 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 proceedings 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 country.

by Gideon Welles

June 22, Wednesday. Much sensational news concerning delay of army movements. I am inclined to think our people 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 intended by our financiers.

by Gideon Welles

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

by Gideon Welles

            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 matters, on representations made by attorneys, detectives, and others, I directed the arrest of Smith Brothers, in Boston. It is stated they have attempted to defraud the government 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, concerning 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 over the same story more briefly. Gooch felt bad and had 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 Henderson, 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 community as a man of piety and purity. It has been with reluctance 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 matter 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 confidence in his financial wisdom or intelligence on those subjects.

            We get no good army news from Petersburg. Our troops 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 unlikely favored and encouraged the President in this step, which I do not approve. It has been my policy to discourage 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.

by Gideon Welles

            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.

by Gideon Welles

            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. 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 defaming, 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 communication between the Navy Department and the Senate, he has rendered no service, but has been a constant embarrassment 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 Department from John P. Hale; but constant assaults, insinuations, and pronounced, if not wilful and deliberate, misrepresentations 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 connection 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 position 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. Admiral 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 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 displacement, has become vain, and feared to acknowledge his error.

by Gideon Welles

            June 9, Thursday. There seems to be general satisfaction 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. . . .

by Gideon Welles

            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 overcame 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 nomination for President, it was found the Missouri delegation 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 accomplishment. The delegates and papers of my State generally 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.

by Gideon Welles

            June 7, Tuesday. The Convention to-day is the absorbing 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.

by Gideon Welles

            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 unlike 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 compelled 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 comment, I inquired if there was not a law in New York against abduction? Seward claimed there was no law prohibiting 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 acting, 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.

by Gideon Welles

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 opportunity 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.

by Gideon Welles

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 Dix or Dickinson, the nomination would be conceded to the Empire State, but there can be no union in that State upon either of those men or any other.

by Gideon Welles

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.

by Gideon Welles 

            June 1, Wednesday. Called on the President relative to the appointment of midshipmen. After looking over the list with some care, he finally designated two sons of officers [and] one apprentice, and desired me to complete the nominations.

            When I called on the President, Major-General Schenck was with him, and, as I went in, was giving the President a list of names of persons to be selected to fill the board about to be appointed on the question of retired officers, his brother, Commodore Schenck, being one. It was a cool proposition, but characteristic of General Schenck, and I think of the Schencks generally.

            We have to-day the results of a meeting of strange odds and ends of parties, and factions, and disappointed and aspiring individuals at Cleveland. Frémont is nominated as their candidate for President and John Cochrane for Vice-President. The gathering had the nomination of Frémont in view, though other objects were professed.

            I very earnestly supported Frémont in 1856. He was then put forward as the representative of the principles for which we were contending, and I have no reason to give that he was not faithful to the cause. He was, however, as soon as nominated, surrounded, to a great extent, by bad men, in whom no good man had confidence. His bearing was very well so far as he appeared before the public. I saw that he was anxious to be elected but not offensively so; he was not obtrusive, but, on the contrary, reserved and retiring. In nothing did he show extraordinary ability or character, but my conclusions were that his real traits were undeveloped. He did not grow upon me as reserved men usually do. Colonel Benton had in former years extolled him, though opposed to his candidacy. Governor Marcy, no friend of Benton, and not partial to Frémont, had, when Secretary of War, given him name and fame by a most remarkable indorsement in his able report in (I think) 1848.

            I have since learned that that part of Marcy’s report was written by Colonel Benton himself, and that President Polk compelled Marcy to incorporate it in the annual report of the War Department. The affair seems incredible almost to me, who knew the several parties, but I learn it in a way that leaves no doubt of its truth. Marcy had ability but was timid and subservient. Frémont has gained no reputation during the War. In power his surroundings have been awful. Reckless, improvident, wasteful, pompous, purposeless, vain, and incompetent. In his explorations, however, he showed perseverance and endurance, and he had the reputation of attaching his men to him. His journals were readable, but I have been told they were prepared and mostly written by Colonel Benton. On all occasions he puts on airs, is ambitious, and would not serve under men of superior military capacity and experience. Frémont first and country after. For a long time he has been in foolish intrigues for the Presidency, and the Cleveland meeting is a Frémont meeting, though others have been concerned.

            I am surprised that General Cochrane should have embarked in the scheme. But he has been wayward and erratic. A Democrat, a Barnburner, a conservative, an Abolitionist, an Anti-abolitionist, a Democratic Republican, and now a radical Republican. He has some, but not eminent, ability; can never make a mark as a stateman. It will not surprise me if he should change his position before the close of the political campaign, and support the nominees of the Baltimore Convention. There is not a coincidence of views and policy between him and Frémont, and the convention which has nominated them is a heterogeneous mixture of weak and wicked men. They would jeopard and hazard the Republican and Union cause, and many of them would defeat it and give success to the Copperheads to gratify their causeless spite against the President. He is blamed for not being more energetic and because he is despotic in the same breath. He is censured for being too mild and gentle towards the Rebels and for being tyrannical and intolerant. There is no doubt he has a difficult part to perform in order to satisfy all and do right.

            This war is extraordinary in all its aspects and phases, and no man was prepared to meet them. It is much easier for the censorious and factious to complain than to do right. I have often thought that greater severity might well be exercised, and yet it would tend to barbarism.

            No traitor has been hung. I doubt if there will be, but an example should be made of some of the leaders, for present and for future good. They may, if taken, be imprisoned or driven into exile, but neither would be lasting. Parties would form for their relief, and ultimately succeed in restoring the worst of them to their homes and the privileges they originally enjoyed. Death is the proper penalty and atonement, and will be enduringly beneficent in its influence.

            There was, moreover, an aristocratic purpose in this Rebellion. An aristocracy of blood and wealth was to have been established. Consequently a contrary effect would 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.

by Gideon Welles

            May 31, Tuesday. No special matters in Cabinet. Mr. Seward sent me on Saturday a correspondence between himself and Lord Lyons and the Treasury Department relative to a large amount of cotton which was purchased a few months since in Georgia by one John Mulholland, an Englishman, who desires to bring it out, or, if he could not do that, to have it protected. The Secretary of State wrote the Secretary of the Treasury for views. The Treasury thought the proposition to bring it out inadmissible, but when our military lines were so extended as to include this cotton the agents of the Treasury would give it the same care as the property of loyal citizens; thinks it would be well to advise the Navy and War Departments to instruct their officers. Hence the communication to me.

            I decline giving any such instructions, and so have written Mr. Seward, considering it illegal as well as inexpedient, telling him it would be a precedent for transferring all the products of the South into foreign hands to pay for munitions of war which we should be bound to protect. None but Englishmen would have the presumption to make such a request. It is entitled to no respect or consideration. Not unlikely it is cotton of the Rebel government covered up.

by Gideon Welles

            May 30, Monday. My constant application has left me no time for several days to jot down occurrences and make remarks.

            Mr. Sanford was very pertinacious and determined in his scheme of going out in the Niagara, and represented that Mr. Seward favored it. I am inclined to think Seward fell into the arrangement without much thought. This is the best view for Seward. Sanford is . . . fond of notoriety; delights to be busy and fussy, to show pomp and power; and to have a vessel like the Niagara bear him out to his mission would have filled him with delight, but would not have elevated the country, for Sanford’s true character is known abroad and wherever he is known, which is one of obtrusive intermeddlings, — not that he is mischievously inclined, but he seeks to be consequential, wants to figure and to do.

            The consul at Bermuda having written us that the Florida was there on the 14th inst., I wrote Mr. Seward that the Niagara would be directed to cruise and get across in about thirty days, consequently Mr. Sanford had better leave by packet steamer. Mr. Seward writes me today that he concurs with me fully.

            The army movements have been interesting for the last few days, though not sensational. Grant has not obtained a victory but performed another remarkably successful flank movement. Sherman is progressing in Georgia.

by Gideon Welles

            May 24, Tuesday. Nothing especial at the Cabinet. The condition and position of the armies canvassed. Chase was not present. He seldom attends of late.

            Seward urges the departure of the Niagara. I have no doubt that Sanford, our Minister at Belgium, one of Seward’s pets, who is now here, has been instrumental in urging this matter. He wants a public vessel to carry him abroad, and has cajoled Seward . . . to effect this object. I do not like to be bamboozled, as Colonel Benton says, by such fellows as Sanford.

            There are, however, some reasons to influence action.

            Seward sent to my house on Saturday evening a bundle of dispatches from Mr. Dayton, and also from Mr. Bigelow, our consul at Paris, relative to the conduct and feelings of the French Government. That breaking through the blockade for tobacco looks mischievous, and one or more vessels ought doubtless to appear in European waters.

            Bigelow, in his confidential dispatch, tells Seward that it was not judicious to have explained to the French Government in regard to the resolution of our House of Representatives that they would maintain the Monroe Doctrine.

by Gideon Welles

            May 23, Monday. A late dispatch on Saturday night from Cairo informs me that a dam at Alexandria has been constructed and our fleet is passing the falls. Lieutenant-Commander Phelps had left my house only about an hour before the dispatch was received. We had passed most of the evening in discussing Red River affairs. The news of the passage of the whole fleet is since confirmed. It is most gratifying intelligence.

            The author of the forged proclamation has been detected. His name is Howard, and he has been long connected with the New York press, but especially with the Times. If I am not mistaken, he has been one of my assailants and a defamer of the Department. He is of a pestiferous class of reckless sensation-writers for an unscrupulous set of journalists who misinform the public mind. Scarcely one of them has regard for truth, and nearly all make use of their positions to subserve selfish, mercenary ends. This forger and falsifier Howard is a specimen of the miserable tribe.

            The seizure of the office of the World and Journal of Commerce for publishing this forgery was hasty, rash, inconsiderate, and wrong, and cannot be defended. They are mischievous and pernicious, working assiduously against the Union and the Government and giving countenance and encouragement to the Rebellion, but were in this instance the dupes, perhaps the willing dupes, of a knave and wretch. The act of suspending these journals, and the whole arbitrary and oppressive proceedings, had its origin with the Secretary of State. Stanton, I have no doubt, was willing to act on Seward’s promptings, and the President, in deference to Seward, yielded to it.

            These things are to be regretted. They weaken the Administration and strengthen its enemies. Yet the Administration ought not to be condemned for the misdeeds of one, or at most two, of its members. They would not be if the President was less influenced by them.

by Gideon Welles

            May 21, Saturday. Last night I was at a party at Mr. Chase’s, or his daughter Mrs. Sprague’s, and late in the evening he spoke to me of the great abuses in cotton speculations. It was a new and singular theme for him, and I said it could not be otherwise than demoralizing. He said, “Yes, your whole fleet out West is infected; Porter devotes his attention to getting cotton and has a boat to himself, with a piano and his pipe, on these cotton raids.” I replied this could not be so. The naval men could capture and retain nothing, which the courts do not adjudge to be good prize. We were interrupted at this point. I conclude the Committee on Commerce have notified Chase that they disapprove of his “Trade Regulations,” and this outburst on the Navy is to turn off attention from his officials. But we shall see.

            Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps has been with me this evening and given me many interesting details concerning the Red River expedition and the incompetency of General Banks. Among other matters he relates some facts in regard to cotton speculations by persons connected with General Banks — some of his staff — that are exceedingly discreditable. Among others whom he specially mentions is one Clark from Auburn, New York, who appears to be managing director of the cotton operations.

            Our gunboats are detained above the falls at Alexandria and we may lose them, though it is possible there yet may be a rise before June. The expedition has many bad features, of which we shall be better informed hereafter.

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