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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
Cincinnati Nov. 7th 1861.
DEAR SIR: Is it known to
the Administration that the West is threatened with a revolution? Could you have been among the people yesterday, and witnessed the excitement; could you have seen sober citizens pulling from their walls and trampling under foot the portrait of the President; and could you hear to-day the expressions of all classes of men - of all political parties, you would, I think feel as I feel, and as every sincere friend of the Government must feel - alarmed. What meaneth this burning of the President in effigy, by citizens who have hitherto sincerely and enthusiastically supported the war? What meaneth these boisterous outbursts of indignation; and these low mutterings favorable to a Western Confederacy that we hear? Why this sudden check to enlistments? Why this rejection of Treasury Notes by German citizens? Why is it that on the 6th of November 1861 not one dollar was subscribed here to the National loan? Why is it that it would not be safe to go into places where the Germans resort and publicly express an opinion favorable to the President? Why this sudden, this extraordinary, this startling change in public sentiment, on 'change, in the street, in the banking house, in the palace and the cottage, in country and city? Is it not time for the President to stop and consider, whether, as this is a government of the people, it is not unsafe to disregard and override public sentiment, as has been done in the case of Gen'l Fremont? The public consider that Fremont has been made a martyr of. The publication of Thomas' report is universally regarded as not only unjust, but absolutely disgraceful; and this more than any thing else is the cause of the existing excitement. Had the President removed Fremont before he took the field, and without undertaking to make a case against him, in advance of a trial, he would have been sustained. But the measures that preceded the removal and the time selected for executing the order were most unfortunate. The fruit of this action is now ripening in every house and shop - wherever men live or congregate, throughout the West; and if our army should now be defeated by Price, or should there be another "Bull" disaster at the East, the most disastrous consequences are to be apprehended. These are the facts; and I have deemed it my duty to lay them privately before You.
We are threatened with a revolution in the North. The fire may seem but a spark now; but the coal is there, and if it once gets into a blaze, we may well tremble for our country. The people are getting tired of inaction. Fremont has been active. Hence his great popularity. The war must be prosecuted vigorously. Otherwise it will not be sustained by the people. Delay is losing the opportunity for breaking the back of the rebellion in Tennessee. Dash and vigor rather than great preparation are what is needed most. Fremont had the dash. He was going ahead. He was sacrificed upon the altar of "great preparations." So the people think. Consequently he is now, so far as the West is concerned, the most popular man in the country. He is to the West what Napoleon was to France; while the President has lost the confidence of the people. This state of things is to be deplored. It is distressing. That this tendency toward anarchy may be checked, is the object of this letter, which is intended only for your own information.
Your obt. servant
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