Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, January 10, 1863

The President sent for Stanton and myself; wished us to consult and do what we could for the employment of the contrabands, and as the Rebels threatened to kill all caught with arms in their hands, to employ them where they would not be liable to be captured. On the ships he thought they were well cared for, and suggested to Stanton that they could perform garrison duty at Memphis, Columbus, and other places and let the soldiers go on more active service.

Covode called at my house this evening and wanted the President's card. Said he was likely to get into difficulty and wished his name not to be used in the matter of removing the Navy Agent which he had urged. Would himself see Chambers and advise him what to do. He expects, he says, to be candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania. Covode is shrewd but illiterate, a match and more than a match for men of higher culture, reputation, and acquirements; but I hardly think his gubernatorial expectations will be realized, though they sometimes take strange material for Governor in Pennsylvania.

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The great problem which is being solved in these days seems to be scarcely realized by our public, and really great, men. It is sad to witness in this period of calamity, when the nation is struggling for existence, and the cause of good government and civil liberty is at stake, the spirit of party overpowering patriotism. The Governors in several of the States have presented their messages during the week. Tod of Ohio exhibits a manly, wholesome, and vigorous tone, others also do well, but the jesuitical and heartless insincerity of Seymour of New York is devoid of true patriotism, weak in statesmanship, and a discredit to the position he occupies. Unhallowed partisan and personal aspirations are moving springs with him. That such a man, at such a time, should have been elected to such a place does no credit to popular intelligence or to public virtue. When Seward, himself, I think, rightly disposed, acquiesced in the debased partisanship of his friend Weed, who in spite wanted Wadsworth, the gallant and patriotic citizen, defeated, he committed a fatal error.

In the insurgent States patriotism seems extinguished, the flag and country are hated. There is great suffering on the part of the people from all the direful calamities which war can bring, yet there is no evidence of returning sense or affection for that union which conferred upon them happiness and prosperity. Greater calamities, greater suffering, must be endured.

Some things have taken place which will undoubtedly for a time exasperate the Southern mind, for they will affect Southern society, habits, labor, and pursuits. For a period emancipation will aggravate existing differences, and a full generation will be necessary to effect and complete the change which has been commenced.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 218-20

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