Monday, January 16, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, February 19, 1863

A special Cabinet-meeting. The President desired a consultation as to the expediency of an extra session of the Senate. Chase favored. Seward opposed. No very decided opinion expressed by the others. I was disinclined to it. The President has been invited to preside at a meeting for religious Christian purposes on Sunday evening. Chase favored it. All the others opposed it but Usher, who had a lingering, hesitating, half-favorable inclination to favor it. Has been probably talked with and committed to some extent; so with Chase. The President on Tuesday expressed a wish that Captain Dahlgren should be made an admiral, and I presented to-day both his and Davis's names.1

I wrote Senator Dixon a note, remonstrating against his misuse of power by opposing in secret session the appointment and confirmation of Howard as Collector; that it was not only wrong, officially, for he was not clothed with authority to revenge private grievances, but it would close the door to any reconciliation, and make lifelong enmities between those who were neighbors and should be friends; that he admitted, and every one knew, Howard was a good and correct officer. All, it seems, was unavailing, for I hear the Senate has failed to confirm the nomination. An inexcusable and unjustifiable act on the part of the Senate, a wrong to the country, a gross wrong and outrage on an American citizen of character and worth who is discharging his duty with fidelity, the peer of the Senators who are guilty of this prostitution of honor and trust. This act and this practice of the Senate are as repugnant to good government and as degrading as anything in the corrupt days of Roman history, or the rotten aristocracy of modern Europe.

1 Charles Henry Davis, who had defeated the Confederate fleet off Fort Pillow, and captured Memphis.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 238-9

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