Saturday, January 14, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, February 17, 1863

The President read to the Cabinet a correspondence between himself and Fernando Wood. The latter wrote the President on the 8th of December last that he had good reason to believe the South desired a restoration of the Union, etc. The President replied on the 12th of December that he had no confidence in the impression, but that he would receive kindly any proposition. Wood's letter was confidential; the President made his so. All was well enough, perhaps, in form and manner if such a correspondence was to take place. Wood is a Representative and his letter was brought to the President by Mayor Opdyke.1 Mayor Opdyke and ex-Mayor Wood are on opposite extremes of parties, — so opposite that each is, if not antagonistic, not very friendly inclined to the President. Wood now telegraphs the President that the time has arrived when the correspondence should be published. It is a piece of political machinery intended for certain party purposes.

Chase says that Howard and Trumbull of the Senate were dissatisfied with their vote in favor of his bank bill, which they had given under the impression it was an Administration measure, but they had since understood that Usher and myself were opposed to it. I told him that my general views were better known to him than them, that I had no concealment on the subject; I had, however, no recollection of ever exchanging a word with either of those Senators concerning his measures; that I had given his financial questions little or no attention, had never read his bill, had but a general conception of his scheme; that, so far as I was informed, it was not in conformity with my old notions, as he well knew, for I had freely communicated with him early, though I had not been consulted recently and matters had taken such a shape I was glad I had not been, and that the whole subject had been committed to him and Congress. I had neither time nor inclination to study new theories, was wedded to old doctrines and settled principles. Usher said he had electioneered for the measure with sundry Congressmen, whom he named. I told him I had not with any one and did not intend to.

1 George Opdyke, Mayor of New York.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 237-8

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