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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
From Wager Swayne.
HEADQUARTERS, DISTRICT OF ALABAMA,
Montgomery, Ala., Dec. 10, 1866.
MY DEAR SIR: I have a great deal to thank you for in the very kind tenor of your favor of 4th inst., and its interesting and valuable statements.
Before it reached me, my own mind had settled on the same conclusion you express. The rapid growth of purpose to enforce at all hazards the Congressional plan of restoration, its power, and the measures proposed to that end, made an impression here, which made it seem to many of us wise to attempt immediate ratification.
Accordingly, on Thursday morning was sent in the message of which I sent you a copy. It produced a marked sensation, but no sensible recoil. That night we thought we should succeed, we seemed to be in full possession of the Senate. The strain however was severe, such as only could be due to the threatening programme of a Territorial government with indefinite results. For it was undeniable that the people, ignorant, proud, and without mail facilities were not Yet up to the necessity, and would be severe upon whoever should act favorably without consulting them. And yet so vivid was the memory of '60-'61, that this dread would have been overcome.
Unfortunately, a dispatch had gone
to Governor Parsons, asking counsel. It came, emphatic that the
Amendment be at once rejected, and that the Legislature meet again
in January. I don't believe this had the inspiration of the
President, yet it was openly asserted that it had. The cry was
raised "we cant desert our
President," and quite soon it was plain that a vote was unavoidable, and that the, measure would be lost. Then all those who were willing to hazard their positions on the consequences of success fell into line and we were left with scarce a force to muster. But they went home with sad hearts.
When they come back, they'll be prepared for either course. Meanwhile the Governor, I think, will follow up the new direction. He goes tonight to Florence, where he lives, and probably will speak this week at Huntsville and Tuscumbia. Then he expects to go to Washington, and others with him, to confer, and see the ground, and to fend off a possible disruption. I still hope we may ratify when he comes back.
A week ago, a bill was introduced resembling Stuarts proposition. That is the programme seems to have been to amend the constitution of this State according to impartial suffrage, and then ask representation leaving the amnesty question in the hand of Congress. This I am told is popular, and the member is sustained by his constituents.
My friends who go to Washington desire your acquaintance. I bid them go, because I like to swell the number of your friends.
Present me very kindly to the ladies, when you write. I am gratefully and respectfully,
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