Friday, February 24, 2017

Diary of John Hay: November 1, 1863

This evening Gen'l Schenck ,accompanied by Gen'l Garfield and Judge Kelley , came in to insist upon some order which would prevent disloyal people from voting at the ensuing Maryland election. Before going into the President's room (Kelley and Garfield sitting with me in the ante-room) Kelley spoke very bitterly of Blair’s working against the Union party in Maryland.

After they were gone I handed the President Blair’s Rockville speech, telling him I had read it carefully, and saving a few intemperate and unwise expressions against leading Republicans which might better have been omitted, I saw nothing in the speech which would have given rise to such violent criticism.

“Really,” says the President, “the controversy between the two sets of men represented by him and by Mr. Sumner is one of mere form and little else. I do not think Mr. Blair would agree that the States in rebellion are to be permitted to come at once into the political family and renew the very performances which have already so bedeviled us. I do not think Mr. Sumner would insist that when the loyal people of a State obtain the supremacy in their councils and are ready to assume the direction of their own affairs, that they should be excluded. I do not understand Mr. Blair to admit that Jefferson Davis may take his seat in Congress again as a representative of his people; I do not understand Mr. Sumner to assert that John Minor Botts may not. So far as I understand Mr. Sumner he seems in favor of Congress taking from the Executive the power it at present exercises over insurrectionary districts, and assuming it to itself. But when the vital question arises as to the right and privilege of the people of these States to govern themselves, I apprehend there will be little difference among loyal men. The question at once is presented, in whom this power is vested; and the practical matter for decision is how to keep the rebellious populations from overwhelming and outvoting the loyal minority.”

I asked him if Blair was really opposed to our Union ticket in Maryland. He said he did not know anything about it — had never asked. . . .

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 115-7; For the whole diary entry see Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and letters of John Hay, p. 112-3.

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