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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

NEW ORLEANS, Mar. 21, 1865.

MY DEAR SIR: A change has been made among our City Officials, which may prove of importance in the politics of this State. Mayor Hoyt, an appointee and friend of Gen. Banks and Gov. Hahn has been removed by Gov. Wells, and in his place Dr. Hugh Kennedy has been appointed, and entered today upon the duties of his office. I think this has been done with the approval of Gen. Hurlburt, who is glad to put out of the way any of Banks's friends.
The alleged reason for the change is that the office should properly be held only by an old citizen, while the real reason is probably quite different.
The Mayor of New Orleans, through the Police and other agencies, is able almost completely to control City elections, and controlling the City, thereby controls the State. Gov. Wells evidently intends the management of these matters shall be in his own hands and. therefore he throws over board his former friends, to whom he is indebted for his present position, but who are more the friends of Banks and Hahn than of himself.
You probably know Dr. Kennedy very well. He was formerly Editor and Proprietor of the True Delta Newspaper - a brother-in-law to Bullitt and a man whose pro-slavery prejudices can never be removed.
It is said that Dr. Cottman is to be Sheriff in place of Mr. Shaw the present incumbent.
Perhaps this has something to do with another matter, which maybe of interest to yourself. Dr. Kennedy is President of one of the City Banks, and perhaps his personal interests are involved in the matter I am about to state.
The Free Banking Law of this State was somewhat similar to the present National Banking Law. Several of the City Banks were organized in conformity with its provisions, bonds of the State or of the City of New Orleans, being deposited by them with the State Auditor. At the capture of the City, the State Auditor ran away into the Confederacy, taking all the bonds with him, which may have been sold or disposed of for the benefit of the Rebel State Gov't, or of the Confederacy. The Banks seek the payment of coupons (of these bonds) now due, without presenting coupons or bonds, or even designating them by number or otherwise.
Gen. Hurlburt issued an order to the 1st Nat'l Bank, the fiscal agent of the City, to pay these coupons. The Bank refused and Gen. Hurlburt suspended his order. Subsequently Hurlburt ordered the case tried before Judge Peabody, Judge of the Provisional Court. Peabody decided that the coupons should be paid, and overruled motion for new trial.
Nearly a million of dollars was depending on the issue and perhaps you can judge better about the matter when I tell you that it was commonly understood that the Banks were willing to spend $50,000, or more, to have the measure carried through.
Mayor Hoyt was opposed bitterly to the payment as decreed because he regarded it as corrupt, unjust and destructive, of the credit of the City of New Orleans. He refused to order the 1st Nat'l Bank to pay the amount, and it was difficult or impossible to enforce Peabody's judgment while Hoyt was Mayor. Kennedy, however, is President of a Bank and probably his views will differ from Hoyt's.
Perhaps I judge harshly of these proceedings, but I cannot help regarding with suspicion everything done by Hurlburt .
Enclosed I transmit published statement of the proceedings in the case I have been speaking of, which may be of use to you at some future day, when similar questions arise.
The attack on Mobile is expected to be made every day. The whole Country has been flooded with rains so that it has been almost impossible for the army to move.
Gen. Lew Wallace arrived here about three weeks ago, and went hence to Brownsville and Matamoras. He had a long conference with Confederate Officers - some of whom represented Kirby Smith - in reference to the Surrender to the Gov't of all the Country west of the Mississippi.
They were willing to give up Slavery and submit on condition that the confiscation laws should not be enforced - that Civil Gov't should be restored and the Country not be subject to Martial Law - and that no hindrance should be offered to their going into Mexico - as many as wanted to go not however as U. S. soldiers or Confederate Soldiers, but every man on his own hook.
Gen. Wallace comes from Gen. Grant to whom he reports officially. After the conference which lasted two days, he left the Rio Grande for Galveston, where he is to meet Kirby Smith in person, and other leaders. I get my information from one who was present at the Conference.
The Western Rebels are utterly disheartened, and entertain the project of a grand filibuster expedition into Northern and Middle Mexico, to clear out Maximilian and annex Northern Mexico to the United States.
These projects appear wild, but nothing is too improbable for those desperate men to undertake.
Gen. Davis (formerly Col. Davis 1st Texas Cavalry) has gone down to the Texas Coast to assist Gen. Wallace in the negotiations.
Nothing is publicly known here of these proceedings, and perhaps they will all end in smoke.

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Annual Report of the American Historical Association; Volume II; Washington, Government Printing Office; 1903

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