Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Diary of John Hay: January 8, 1864

Nicolay and I visited to-night the Secretaries of the Interior and of the Treasury. Usher talked about the vacancy occasioned by the death of Caleb B. Smith. Said he understood Smith to be for him, when he was asking it for himself. Otto is an admirable man for the place, but Usher does not want to lose him from the Department.

We found at Chase’s a most amusing little toy, “the Plantation Breakdown.” The Secretary and his daughter were busily engaged exhibiting it to some grave and reverend old fellows who are here at the meeting of the Society of Arts and Sciences. In the course of conversation the Secretary said to me: — “It is singularly instructive to meet so often as we do in life and in history, instances of vaulting ambition, meanness and treachery, failing after enormous exertions; and integrity and honesty march straight in triumph to its purpose.”

A noble sentiment, Mr. Secretary!

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 152-3; for the entire diary entry see Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letter of John Hay, p. 152.

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