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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

From H. B. Stanton.

Confidential.

SENECA FALLS, Dec 7, 1860.

MY DEAR GOVERNOR. When writing you a few days since, I stated that after our consultation at Albany, I might address you again. You doubtless understand that one of the reasons why I communicate so freely with you, at this time, about a New York member of the Cabinet is, that I hope a state of things will arise in which it will be according to precedent for the president to confer with you upon that general subject before definitely fixing upon his Constitutional advisers.
At our Albany conference at which Messrs Bryant, Abijah Mann, T. B. Carroll, Judge Hogeboom, Dorsheimer, Barney, & myself were present, acting as a Committee, we somewhat freely canvassed names for the Cabinet. You will note that all the gentlemen mentioned as being present, were formerly of the radical or Barnburner wing of the Democratic party; & we think, as do our constituents (if I may use that phrase) that that element of the republican party in this State ought to have a member of the Cabinet; & for reasons which will readily occur to you, the principal of which are, that we make up a very large share of the party in this State, & inasmuch as the president will doubtless wish to call two or more gentlemen to his cabinet of democratic antecedents we have thought he might naturally look to this State for one of them.
Who, then, shall he be? At our conference it was stated that Mr. David Dudley Field preferred not to have his name used for a Cabinet position, because he intended to be a candidate for the U. S. Senate. This being so (I only assume it for the argument's sake) then the only two names much Mentioned, of democratic antecedents, are Mr. George Opdyke, of New York City, & Mr. James S. Wadsworth, of Genesee. Mr. O. is presented for the Treasury Department. I have thought two obstacles lay in his path; 1st That the Treasury Department would be given to some gentleman in Pennsylvania (or, they failing to agree in that State, then, to some one in New Jersey as representing her feelings & interests) or, in New England, say in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. 2nd That this post would be pretty certainly bestowed upon a person of moderate protection (or tariff) antecedents. Mr. O. has been a free trader, & wrote a book some years ago in favor of that system. I have thought that this might be urged as an objection to him, by his opponents. My personal acquaintance with Mr. O. is somewhat limited. I am writing confidentially to you - & it is due to the exigency to say that distinguished gentlemen who claim to know Mr. O. well, express grave doubts about his capacity to grapple successfully with the important financial & commercial questions which will arise during the coming four years. On this point I can give no opinion; but can say that Mr. O. is an upright, honorable, worthy man.
Of Mr. Wadsworth I have room to say but little. He is one of the most reliable men in the State. He was with us heart & soul in the Buffalo fight of 1848. He is well educated, has always been accustomed to deal with large business matters, & is a vigorous writer. His integrity & courage are unquestionable & he is one of the most popular men in New York. He would not think of going into the Treasury department; but would be better adapted to the Interior or Navy. Should you be in the Cabinet, you would find Mr. W. a most desirable co-worker whom you could lead readily, & upon whom you could always rely.
Business takes me to Washington next week, whence I may write you again.
Yours very trulyH. B. STANTON.

My sheet being exhausted, I will say on this slip that Lieut. Gov. Campbell (one of our most reliable & clear- headed men) is strongly in favor of Mr. Wadsworth being selected. His (Lieut. Gov. C's) opinion is entitled to great weight. Mr. W's appointment would be highly popular with such men as Mr. Bryant, Gov. Selden, Mr. Dorthiemeir, [sic] Judge Grover, & indeed, the great body of the Barn-burners now in the Republican party, who have not been seduced or defiled with Albany corruptions.--Mr. W., too, would be wholly acceptable to Mr. Greeley, while not a member of the party could say aught against him. Then, too, he is one of the most popular men, with all classes, in our ranks. If you were at the head of the Cabinet, you would find in him a warm friend, - for, I have, in conference with him, often heard him speak of you & your general views & policy in the warmest terms of commendation.
You will not understand me as recalling anything I said in my last in favor of Mr. Noyes, if the person selected from N. Y. is to be of Whig antecedents.

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

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