Sunday, June 10, 2018

Governor Salmon P. Chase to Senator Charles Sumner, January 20, 1860

Columbus, Jan’y 20, 1860.

Dear Sumner, There are a few Republicans in the Legislature who think decided opposition — especially of a practical character — to slavery & its domination somewhat heretical, if not fanatical, and they do not like the idea that such a man as I am should be made Senator. They are few; but it has been feared that, if excited to factious action by disregarding altogether their wishes, they might be able, with the aid of the democrats, to defeat an election. I doubt whether they would do so in any event; but it was probably wisdom to give them no pretext. At least the majority thought it best to give them time; and accordingly the nomination was postponed to Feb. 1, when it will doubtless be made, & the election will follow very soon — perhaps the next day. There are no indications of serious opposition. It gratifies me exceedingly that the true & earnest friends of our cause — among whom I count you chief — seem to desire so much my return to my old post. I confess however that I have myself little or no desire to return to it. I weary of political life & strife. Nothing but the clearly indicated will of the Republicans & especially of the most earnest & faithful among them would induce me to think of entering it again. Even that higher post to which you alluded would attract me less by its distinctions than it would repel by the apprehensions, which its responsibilities must awaken, of failure in effecting that elevation in tone, object, & action at home and abroad, which alone makes change of administration desirable. It would be a great thing indeed to reform administration at home; to infuse it with the spirit of liberty, justice, & equity; to enable our diplomacy to fill its posts with men whose hearts are sound as their heads; & by these means add dignity to national character & permanence to national institutions. But who, knowing himself & knowing the time, will dare to promise himself that he can do this?

Cordially & faithfully,

My little Nettie has learned to admire you as much as her sister Kate. Your picture hangs in my dining room & in my library, and they think of you as a near friend.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 284-5

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