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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, February 19th, 1864.
DEAR SIR: I have
but little new to write, as, since my last letter, matters have gone on about as usual. As I predicted, the political contest has become quite bitter, as all such contests do, which spring from local questions, and personal prejudice. The Hahn
papers accuse (very unjustly) Mr. Flanders, of basely using his official position for his own political advancement, while the others retort by handbills promulgating the fact that Mr. Hahn was a Notary Public under Confederate rule. Public meetings, speeches, music and processions prevail every night. I see no chance of reconciliation although it is, for some reasons, to be desired. But one good end is secured by the bitterness of this contest - viz; every voter will be called out, and a vote will be polled much larger and more respectable than could otherwise be. The Conservatives are by no means idle and, without just reason, profess hopes of success. Mr. Roselius declined to run on their ticket and Mr. Fellows is now their candidate for Governor. They held a meeting last night at the Orleans theatre, respectable in numbers and enthusiastic. Old Jacob Barker was the principal speaker and expressed earnest disapproval of Mr. Lincoln. He then spoke highly and at some length of Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, and although disagreeing with him politically, expressed an earnest desire, on account of his great and well known ability, that he might be the next President. I shall send you his speech if it is to be published. You see we are thoroughly mixed up here. I think Mr. Hahn will be elected without a doubt - that the conservative candidate will come next, and that Mr. Flanders will poll the smallest vote. Fellows would probably have been elected, had not Gen. Banks issued an order requiring voters to take the proclamation oath, which order I enclose herewith. I also enclose a correspondence between Mr. Barker and others, and Gen. Banks.
Previous to the nomination by the
Convention I worked zealously for Mr. Hahn, knowing that his
unanimous nomination would heal all dissension. Since then I have
done what I could for him. Some of Mr. Flanders' friends insinuate that I have been sold out and betrayed into support of Banks and Hahn against yourself. It is not true. I know what I am about and have acted wisely, but no one pretends to think I have at heart the political interest of any one but yourself. Your conversation and Mr. Lincoln's
plainly indicated that we ought to follow Gen. Banks'
lead. When I returned, Mr. Flanders had plainly announced to the Directors of the Bank that he was not a candidate, and should not be one, and thereupon I became committed at once to Mr. Hahn. Having been Gen. Banks' messenger to Washington I could not with honor, act differently from what I have. Besides how could I serve your interests, by connecting myself with a faction, which is sure to have the eye-teeth whipped out of them? The only way to get power here, is to form a part of the ruling and successful combination, and Plumly and myself hope to make our course advance your own interests.
Some of the correspondents of the New York papers have written that the " Hahn and Bullitt" party were the Lincoln party, while Flanders' supporters were the Chase party. Bullitt got them to write this, the correspondents being new comers. I have since become acquainted with them and taken charge of them, and these statements have been thoroughly corrected by last mail.
I am glad Col. Howe came down here. He is working for you, and having the confidence of Banks, will do good. I think Gen. Banks is your friend. Col. Howe has taken an interest in the "Times" newspaper, which has ceased to be neutral and come out for Hahn. If Mr. Whitlaw Reed will only arrive here soon we can make a very strong paper out of it. Mr. Tucker has arrived and assumed the duties of his office. He will be of use here, understanding as he does, all the details of Custom House business. The General business of the port has largely increased of late, and Mr. Tucker's arrival is opportune.
Gen. Banks will remain in the city till about the first of March. Some great military operation seems to be in preparation but I am unable to say in what direction it is intended to move.
I gave a letter of introduction to you, to Mr. Marshal, of Natchez, Miss. He is one of the best men of that State, and worth being acquainted with.
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