Lincoln's Personal Life HTML version

If the politicians needed a definite warning, in addition to what the ground was saying, it
was given by an incident that centered upon Chase. A few bold men whose sense of the
crowd was not so acute as it might have been, attempted to work up a Chase boom. At the
instance of Senator Pomeroy, a secret paper known to-day as the Pomeroy Circular, was
started on its travels. The Circular aimed to make Chase the Vindictive candidate. Like
all the other anti-Lincoln moves of the early part of 1864, it was premature. The shrewd
old Senators who were silently marshaling the Vindictive forces, let it alone.
Chase's ambition was fully understood at the White House. During the previous year, his
irritable self-consciousness had led to quarrels with the President, generally over
patronage, and more than once he had offered his resignation. On one occasion, Lincoln
went to his house and begged him to reconsider. Alone among the Cabinet, Chase had
failed to take the measure of Lincoln and still considered him a second-rate person, much
his inferior. He rated very high the services to his country of the Secretary of the
Treasury whom he considered the logical successor to the Presidency.
Lincoln refused to see what Chase was after. "I have determined," he told Hay, "to shut
my eyes as far as possible to everything of the sort. Mr. Chase makes a good secretary
and I shall keep him where he is."[1] In lighter vein, he said that Chase's presidential
ambition was like a "chin fly" pestering a horse; it led to his putting all the energy he had
into his work.[2]
When a copy of the Circular found its way to the White House, Lincoln refused to read
it.[3] Soon afterward it fell into the hands of an unsympathetic or indiscreet editor and
was printed. There was a hubbub. Chase offered to resign. Lincoln wrote to him in reply:
"My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's letter having been made public came to me only the
day you wrote but I had, in Spite of myself, known of its existence several days before. I
have not yet read it, and I think I shall not. I was not shocked or surprised by the
appearance of the letter because I had had knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's committee, and
of secret issues which I supposed came from it, and of secret agents who I supposed were
sent out by it, for several weeks. I have known just as little of these things as my friends
have allowed me to know. They bring the documents to me, but I do not read them; they
tell me what they think fit to tell me, but I do not inquire for more. I fully concur with
you that neither of us can be justly held responsible for what our respective friends may
do without our instigation or countenance; and I assure you, as you have assured me, that
no assault has been made upon you by my instigation or with my countenance. Whether
you shall remain at the head of the Treasury Department is a question which I will not
allow myself to consider from any standpoint other than my judgment of the public
service, and in that view, I do not perceive occasion for a change."[4] But this was not the
end of the incident. The country promptly repudiated Chase. His own state led the way. A
caucus of Union members of the Ohio Legislature resolved that the people and the
soldiers of Ohio demanded the reelection of Lincoln. In a host of similar resolutions,
Legislative caucuses, political conventions, dubs, societies, prominent individuals not in
the political machine, all ringingly declared for Lincoln, the one proper candidate of the