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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
To E. S. Hamlin.
WASHINGTON, Jan'y 22, 1855.
MY DEAR SIR, I am in fault as usual about my correspondence. My only excuse is that I have more to read, write & talk than one man can do.
Your article in the Columbian was very bold: bolder than I should have ventured to write. I refer of course to the one in reply to the Sandusky Register. It is not, however, at all clear to me that your policy is not the wisest and most safe. At any rate I am disposed to confide entirely in your judgment, so far as the interest of the Ind't. Dem'c. wing of the Peoples Movement is concerned.
It is disagreeable to me to have the battle for a decided recognition of Antislavery principles & movement by the new organization carried on over my person. The Governorship is only desirable so far as I am concerned as a simple endorsement of my course in the Senate, & especially on the Slavery question, by the People. In other respects the reasons against being a candidate rather over balance the reasons for being one: and I am by no means persuaded that I ought to accept a nomination even if one should be tendered me. Certain it is that I do not wish my name to be the cause of division among the sincere & earnest well wishers of the Peoples Movement. Taking their ideas as
my guides I shall patiently await the course of events for a few months before I determine positively what I ought to do:
Houston is going to Boston. He will probably lecture there on the [last of] this month. He is the favorite of the Massachusetts Kns for the Presidency: and I think he will have a chance for the nomination of the order if he does not injure himself in Boston.
It is now certain almost that Wilson will be chosen Senator from Massachusetts. He cannot back out on the Slavery question and his election will be a decided triumph of the Antislavery element in the K. N. organization. It may lead to disruption. It guarantees, I think, against the order being converted into as mere a tool of the Slave Power as the old organizations have been. This, however, is a future event.
I am assured by reliable men in Ohio that there is no possibility of the order there being made proslavery. They may be deceived, but I am sure they don't mean to deceive. Those who write me feel somewhat sore about your course & Bailey's. They think that the tone of your editorials and his is calculated to weaken the hold & influence of Antislavery men, & to make the members of the sides less disposed than they would be otherwise to cooperate with outsiders on the Slavery issue. They think it would be better if you admitted that there was some ground for the [union] of the people against papal influences & organized foreignism, while you might condemn the secret organization & indiscriminate proscription on account of origin or creed. You know best how much weight to give to these suggestions. To me they seem fo indicate about the wisest course; but I repeat I am disposed on these matters to confide more in your judgment than in my own.
I saw Judge Myers here. He seemed to think the prospect of election on the Convention Platform rather blue. He said Medill talked of resigning the nomination, but had concluded to hold on, and he seemed to have had the same idea & to have come to the same conclusion. The ticket must be [illegible] unless the Kns determine to claim all the
nominations for members of the sides: in which event the result would be more doubtful. Certainly we ought to do nothing & say nothing calculated to prevent entire harmony of cooperation among all opponents of Sly. & the Slave Power upon fair & honorable principles & terms. So far as I can see there is nothing to be expected from the Old Line Democracy in its present position. It will be time enough to consider whether we ought to act with them when they place themselves in a position which renders such action possible & compatible with our consistency and honor.
I want to write you often & to hear from you often, but I am much pressed for time & constantly interrupted.
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