Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Salmon P. Chase [1]

Hon. Sec. of Treasury Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir Washington, Feb. 23. 1864.

Yours of yesterday in relation to the paper issued by Senator Pomeroy was duly received; and I write this note merely to say I will answer a little more fully when I can find the leisure to do so. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   ALS, RPB (ADfS?), DLC-RTL. The printed circular opposing the renomination of President Lincoln and advocating nomination of Secretary Chase was issued over the signature of Samuel C. Pomeroy. On February 22 Chase wrote Lincoln:

``It is probable that you have already seen a letter printed in the Constitutional Union Saturday afternoon, & reprinted in the Intelligencer this morning, written by Senator Pomeroy, as Chairman of a Committee of my political friends.

``I had no knowledge of the existence of this letter before I saw it in the Union.

``A few weeks ago several gentlemen called on me & expressed their desire, which, they said, was shared by many earnest friends of our common cause, that I would allow my name to be submitted to the consideration of the people in connexion with the approaching election of Chief Magistrate. I replied that I feared that any such use of my name might impair my usefulness as Head of the Treasury Department & that I much preferred to continue my labors where I am & free from distracting influences, until I could honorably retirePage  201 from them. We had several interviews. After consultation, and conference with others, they expressed their united judgment that the use of my name as proposed would not affect my usefulness in my present position, and that I ought to consent to it. I accepted their judgment as decisive; but at the same time told them distinctly that I could render them no help, except what might come incidentally from the faithful discharge of public duties, for these must have my whole time. I said also that I desired them to regard themselves as not only entirely at liberty, but as requested, to withdraw my name from consideration wherever, in their judgment the public interest would be promoted by so doing.

``The organization of the Committee, I presume, followed these conversations; but I was not consulted about it; nor have I been consulted as to its action; nor do I even know who compose it. I have never wished that my name should have a moment's thought in comparison with the common cause of enfranchisement & restoration or be continued before public a moment after the indication of a preference by the friends of that cause for another.

``I have thought this explanation due to you as well as to myself. If there is anything in my action or position which, in your judgment, will prejudice the public interest under my charge I beg you to say so. I do not wish to administer the Treasury Department one day without your entire confidence.

``For yourself I cherish sincere respect and esteem; and, permit me to add, affection. Differences of opinion as to administrative action have not changed these sentiments; nor have they been changed by assault upon me by persons who profess themselves to spread representations of your views and policy. You are not responsible for acts not your own; nor will you hold me responsible except for what I do or say myself.

``Great numbers now desire your reelection. Should their wishes be fulfilled by the suffrages of the people I hope to carry with me, into private life the sentiments I now cherish, whole and unimpaired.'' (DLC-RTL).

Chase's statement that he had no knowledge of the circular before it appeared in print is contradicted by a statement of James M. Winchell, author-in-fact of the circular, who wrote, in reply to Jacob W. Schuckers' Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase (1874), a detailed account of the Pomeroy Committee which included the following: ``Mr. Chase was informed of this proposed action and approved it fully. He told me himself that the arraignment of the Administration. . . was one which he thoroughly indorsed and would sustain. The circular was, therefore, sent out.'' (J. M. Winchell to editor, September 14, 1874, New York Times, September 15, 1874. Italics are in the source.)

See further, Lincoln to Chase, February 29, infra.