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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, June 28th, 1862.
SIR: I have collected the information which you wished to receive by a private letter. The persons about whom you particularly enquired were Thos. H. Hewes, J. P. Harrison, Benj. F. Flanders, and Randell Hunt.
Thomas Hewes was born in this city
about 35 years old - a lawyer - was in California seven or eight years - returned home
in 1860. Went to Texas for a few months - returned to this City and opened an office in partnership with James B. Eustis, brother of Slidell's secretary. He was inclined to be a Union man at first, but afterwards became a strong secessionist, and with his father who was from the first an active and bitter rebel, worked hard for the rebel government.
Young Hewes used to be dissipated, but in California he married and reformed. It is said that he has recently returned to former bad habits. He is regarded as a man of talent and is much liked by his acquaintance. He left this city when the fleet arrived and has not yet returned.
James P. Harrison came to this city from Natches, Miss., about sixteen years ago, a lawyer of good standing. In this city he has been in business as a merchant, being one of the firm of Payne and Harrison. He is a respectable and able man. He was a "Co-operationist", but became an active rebel, and with his House strongly supported the rebel government. Being a man of high standing he had great influence for evil. When the fleet arrived he left the city and has not yet returned.
Benjamin F. Flanders is a native of New Hampshire, but has lived in Louisiana many years. He was the Secretary and Treasurer of the Opelousas railroad. He is much respected, and is regarded as an able, honest man. He is a good business man, and has much influence. He has been invariably a thorough Union man, and was so obnoxious to the ruling powers, that he was sent out of the "Confederacy" into Kentucky a few months ago, his family being left at their residence in this city. All the Union men I have met in this city (and they are many) speak of Mr. Flanders in the highest terms. Mr. Flanders returned to this city a few days ago. I have seen him, and the opinion formed of him before making his acquaintance, is confirmed. Rev. Mr. Duncan recently in Washington, made application of the N. O. post office. I saw him here a few days ago, and was told by him that Mr. Flanders made application to be surveyor of this Port. When you think best to appoint a Surveyor, I do not think a more deserving and capable man than Mr. Flanders can be found, nor one whose appointment would give greater satisfaction to Union men here. In politics he is with the Republican party.
Mr. Randell Hunt is probably known to you, and I shall not say anything of him except in reference to the present troubles. Mr. Hunt was an able and active opponent of secession from the first, and did all he could to prevent it. It is believed by all, that his opinions are entirely unchanged, but since the beginning of the war, be has been perfectly passive. He has never gone over to secession, and Union men here have the greatest confidence in him, though he does not come out a declared Union man even now. His position is embarrassing, for his brother Judge Hunt (Theodore G. Hunt) is a colonel in the Confederate army and is now in active service in Virginia. I have seen Mr. Hunt several times but without opportunity of talking on political subjects. I delivered to him your letter, and offerred to forward any letter to you. Enclosed is the reply to your letter.
F. Bonzano, whom you made Special Agent for the N. O. Mint, has given me great assistance. He possesses great scientific knowledge, and mechanical skill - is perfectly honest and thoroughly devoted to the government. He is strongly opposed to the institution of slavery, and out of limited means, has purchased and emancipated several negroes during the last few years. As a man of learning, he has few superiors, and all his statements and suggestions will be of value to you.
labor devolving upon me is great, but our success exceeds my expectations. It will take some weeks, at least, to organize every department of the Custom House, and teach the inexperienced employees. I am determined to accomplish three principal objects, viz: -
1. To appoint to office such men and of such political opinions, that the Government (through its officials) can present here a strong nucleus for a Republican party.
2. To recover, or assist in
recovering all property and duties (paid to others than the
government) and settle up all old business.
3. To suppress smuggling and other abuses and to establish a good character for this heretofore notorious Custom House.
The name of the Deputy Collector (furnished from the New York Custom House by Mr. Barney) is William C. Gray. I am glad to mention to you the name of such a man. He knows his business thoroughly and is entirely devoted to the interests of the Government. From early morning until night he (as well as myself) is at the Custom House and nothing escapes his vigilance or care.
The city is very healthy and there is no indication as yet, of an epidemic this year.
I shall take the liberty of writing private letters to you occasionally whenever I can give information which I may think you would like to receive.
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