Saturday, June 24, 2017

Diary of John Hay: September 26, 1864

Blair has gone into Maryland stumping. He was very much surprised when he got the President's note. He had thought the opposition to him was dying out. He behaves very handsomely, and is doing his utmost. He speaks in New York Tuesday night.

Blair, in spite of some temporary indiscretions, is a good and true man and a most valuable public officer. He stood with the President against the whole Cabinet in favor of reinforcing Fort Sumter. He stood by Fremont in his Emancipation Decree, though yielding when the President revoked it. He approved the Proclamation of January, 1863, and the Amnesty Proclamation, and has stood like a brother beside the President always. What have injured him are his violent personal antagonisms and indiscretions. He made a bitter and vindictive fight on the radicals of Missouri, though ceasing it at the request of the President. He talked with indecorous severity of Mr. Chase, and with unbecoming harshness of Stanton, saying on street-corners “this man is a liar, that man is a thief.” He made needlessly enemies among public men who have pursued him fiercely in turn. Whitelaw Reid said to-day that Hoffman was going to placard all over Maryland this fall:— “Your time has come!” I said, “he won't do anything of the kind, and moreover Montgomery Blair will do more to carry emancipation in Maryland than any one of those who abuse him.”

Nicolay got home this morning, looking rather ill. I wish he would start off and get hearty again, coming back in time to let me off to Wilmington. He says Weed said he was on the track of the letter and hoped to get it. . . . .

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 228-9; Michael Burlingame and John R. Turner Ettlinger, Editors, Inside Lincoln’s White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 233.

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