Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday Night, March 7, 1863

The week has been one of steady, incessant employment. I feel I have been overtasked and am much exhausted. Must have rest.

Two rather important bills were got, I may say smuggled, through Congress, affecting the Navy Department, which I never saw. One of them, relating to an Advisory Board, was brought to the President for approval on the 4th of March, which he handed to me. On a hasty perusal I requested him not to sign it until it could have a more thorough examination. We sent for Grimes to make inquiry concerning it. He said the bill had never been discussed; he did not approve of it; that he had expected it would be killed in the House. The President passed it to me for criticism and farther examination, and return to him with my views. The other bill relates to matters of prize, and must have been got through surreptitiously. It is crude and objectionable in several respects.

Sedgwick, Chairman of the Naval Committee in the House, has been active in getting through a bill for the codification of the naval laws, and expects to perform the service of codification. All in the Department and the officers generally desire him to perform the service, but there are objections in my mind to his selection, which I should urge, were it not that the President has another candidate, a gentleman who has no knowledge of naval affairs or naval or admiralty law, but who, qualified or not, wants a place.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 245-6

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