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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

NEW ORLEANS, July 19th, 1862.

DEAR SIR: I venture to refer to the name of J. L. Riddell (formerly Confederate Postmaster) because he is, or is to be, an applicant for the office of Assistant Treasurer. Though he now pretends to be a Union man, I believe him to be unworthy of your confidence. I can give you full information about him if you desire it.
Mr. Gray, Deputy Collector, who has been in the New York Custom House more than twenty years, says that more questions and more difficult to be decided, arise here in a week, than in the New York Custom House during a whole year. This is partly owing to the disturbed condition of the country, and partly to the fact that we avoid the former loose and corrupt manner of doing business. The necessity of immediate decision of many of these questions, obliges me, being at so great a distance from Washington, to assume great responsibility. Almost everything, even most of the furniture, belonging to the Custom House, was destroyed - except the building, which was in a dilapidated state. I was compelled to employ considerable labor to make it habitable. I have discovered and seized rebel boats and launches and repaired them - had the Iron safes drilled, opened and repaired - obtained furniture - preserved and arranged all the old books and papers, and done many other necessary things, so that now we begin to work effectively.
Except salaries of appointed officers, all expenses have, as vet, been paid from the fees of the office - for, of course, money received for duties remains untouched. Hence you see strict economy is practiced. I intend every Government employee in this Custom House shall earn his wages.
No expenses have been, or shall be incurred except such as are absolutely necessary for the thorough establishment of the Custom House, and protection of the Revenue Service.
The whole amount of money collected for duties, is Seventy-Six Thousand Nine Hundred and four 85/100 Dollars ($76,904-85/100) - See my official report of this date. This amount is now in my hands and subject to your order. All the safes are repaired, and the money is perfectly safe, unless the army should be driven out by the Rebels, which is impossible.
The City never was more healthy, and as yet there is no danger of the Yellow Fever.
I do not think the military rule here or elsewhere, is severe enough. It ought to be more dangerous to be a secessionist than to be a loyal citizen, which is not the case here. We should adopt toward rebels, measures as severe as they adopt toward Union men. A real secessionist cannot be conciliated. I begin to incline to the opinion that the Abolition of Slavery is necessary, as a means of terminating the war. The South has persistently forced this issue upon the Government, and perhaps it must soon be accepted.

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