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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
CINCINNATI, Sept. 18, 1861.
MY DEAR SIR, My friend Charles D. Drake of St. Louis desires the post of Commissioner of taxes under the law of the last session. Without having one sentiment in common in politics or religion, Mr. Drake & I have been intimate personal friends for years. I respect & honor him: & earnestly hope he may get the post. A more efficient business man does not live.
It is perhaps idle to hope for his appointment, for Mr. D. has been a leader of the Douglas Democracy in Missouri, and personally (I believe) hostile to the Blairs, but the man is so fit, and my regard for him so great that I venture to say what I do.
Our people are in a state of great consternation and wrath on account of the quarrel between Fremont and the Administration, public opinion being entirely with Gen. Fremont. When men of the stamp of Judge Johnson and N. W. Thomas are openly denouncing Mr. Lincoln on the streets as an enemy of the country, you may judge how Radical Republicans feel. Day told me this morning he should go to St. Louis to urge Fremont not to resign, but to set the Administration at defiance.
Seriously, no word describes popular sentiment but "fury." I have heard men of sense, such as are called Conservative, advocate the wildest steps, such as the impeachment of Mr. Lincoln, the formation of a party to carry on the war irrespective of the President & under Fremont, &c, &c.
For myself, I must say that if the letters of Mr. Lincoln to Magoffin and Fremont are any fair indication of his character & policy, I pray God to forgive my vote for him. Loyal men are giving their lives and means like water to no end, if the imbecility of Buchanan's Administration is to be surpassed thus.
I cannot, cannot think that your wise head & true Anti Slavery heart have consented to this abasement of the manhood & honor of our nation. Let Mr. Lincoln, while he is conciliating the contemptible State of Kentucky, a State which ought to have been coerced long ago, bear in mind that the Free States may want a little conciliation, that they are not wasting their substance to secure the niggers of traitors, but are in war, redhanded war, wherein the same law which takes their enemies' lives, does not stop to secure his slaves to his children.
Ashley sounded me three weeks ago upon the policy of your resigning, and going into the Senate next winter.
What I said to him I still think, vizt that though a post in the Cabinet is perfectly destructive to all hope of the Presidency, it is still the post of duty & honor to you, in which you have already gained great fame, and unless the public connect you with some such step as this modification of the Fremont proclamation, will gain you still more. From the consequences of the blunders and imbecility of others your splendid success in the Treasury Department has so far saved your fame. God grant it may not be touched by this last great disaster.
Your "severe friend" again,
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