Thursday, February 16, 2017

Diary of John Hay: Sunday, October 18, 1863

I arrived in Washington to-day after an absence of a little more than two weeks.

On presenting myself to the President this morning . . . . I gave him my impression of the conduct of Mr. C. in trying to cut under in way he k doing, instancing what Denison of New York had related. He said “it was very bad taste, but that he had determined to shut his eyes to all these performances; that Chase made a good Secretary, and that he would keep him where he is: — if he becomes President, all right! I hope we may never have a worse man. I have all along clearly seen his plan of strengthening himself. Whenever he sees that an important matter is troubling me, if I am compelled to decide it in a way to give offence to a man of some influence, he always ranges himself in opposition to me, and persuades the victim that he (C.) would have arranged it very differently. It was so with Gen'l Frémont, — with Gen'l Hunter, when I annulled his hasty proclamation — with Gen'l Butler, when he was recalled from New Orleans, — with the Missouri people when they called the other day. I am entirely indifferent as to his success or failure in these schemes, so long as he does his duty as the head of the Treasury Department.”

He talked of the Missouri matter, and read to me the letter he had written Drake for the Committee. As it will probably be published, I forbear synopsis. It is a superb affair, perfectly just and frank, courteous but immoveable. He will not be bullied even by his friends. He tries to reason with these infuriated people. The world will hear him, if they do not. He read to me a letter which he has to-day written to Gov. Gamble, who, it seems, is anxious to have the President espouse his side of the quarrel, and to recognise him as the State Government, and use the federal authority to crush out the radicals, who, he says, meditate revolution and civil war in Missouri. The President answering says he will be at all times ready to extend to Missouri the protection guaranteed by the Constitution against domestic violence, whenever he (the President) shall see cause to suspect such violence as imminent. He does not so regard it at present. He thinks the instructions given to Gen'l Schofield cover the case.

We got into this vein of talk through my telling him what Joe Gillespie says, and what I myself observed, of the tendency of public opinion in the West, almost universally, in favor of the radicals as against the conservatives in Missouri.

Talking of the military situation, he says Lee probably came up the other day thinking our army weaker than it is, and finding his mistake from the fight at Bristow, is holding off at present. Rosecrans is all right, though somewhat bothered about his supplies.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 108-10; For the whole diary entry see Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and letters of John Hay, p. 100-2.

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