Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, June 8, 1863

Wrote Secretary of State on the subject of the complaints of the Danish Government against Wilkes, who is charged with abusing hospitality at St. Thomas. Made the best statement I could without censuring Wilkes, who is coming home, partly from these causes.

Have a letter from Foote, who is not ready to relieve Du Pont. Speaks of bad health and disability. It must be real, for whatever his regard for, or tenderness to D., Foote promptly obeys orders.

Spoke to the President regarding weekly performances of the Marine Band. It has been customary for them to play in the public grounds south of the Mansion once a week in summer, for many years. Last year it was intermitted, because Mrs. Lincoln objected in consequence of the death of her son. There was grumbling and discontent, and there will be more this year if the public are denied the privilege for private reasons. The public will not sympathize in sorrows which are obtrusive and assigned as a reason for depriving them of enjoyments to which they have been accustomed, and it is a mistake to persist in it. When I introduced the subject to-day, the President said Mrs. L. would not consent, certainly not until after the 4th of July. I stated the case pretty frankly, although the subject is delicate, and suggested that the band could play in Lafayette Square. Seward and Usher, who were present, advised that course. The President told me to do what I thought best.

Count Adam Gurowski, who is splenetic and querulous, a strange mixture of good and evil, always growling and discontented, who loves to say harsh things and speak good of but few, seldom makes right estimates and correct discrimination of character, but means to be truthful if not just, tells me my selection for the Cabinet was acquiesced in by the radical circle to which he belongs because they felt confident my influence with the President would be good, and that I would be a safeguard against the scheming and plotting of Weed and Seward, whose intrigues they understood and watched. When I came here, just preceding the inauguration in 1861, I first met this Polish exile, and was amused and interested in him, though I could not be intimate with one of his rough, coarse, ardent, and violent partisan temperament. His associates were then Greeley, D. D. Field, Opdyke, and men of that phase of party. I have no doubt that what he says is true of his associates, colored to some extent by his intense prejudices. He was for a year or two in the State Department as a clerk under Seward, and does not conceal that he was really a spy upon him, or, as he says, watched him. He says that when Seward became aware that the radicals relied upon me as a friend to check the loose notions and ultraism of the State Department, he (S.) went to work with the President to destroy my influence; that by persisting he so far succeeded as to induce the President to go against me on some important measures, where his opinion leaned to mine; that in this way, Seward had intrenched himself. There is doubtless some truth — probably some error — in the Count's story. I give the outlines. Eames, with whom he is intimate, has told me these things before. The Count makes him his confidant.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 325-6

No comments: