The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3

By John Niven; James P. McClure et al. | Go to book overview

TO ZACHARIAH CHANDLER

Autograph letter on letterhead stationery. Zachariah Chandler Papers, Library of Congress ( micro 22:0936).

Treasury Department.

Septr 20 1862.

My dear Senator,

Yours of the 13th came duly. I take my first opportunity for answer.

What Pope has said otherwise than in his Official Report I do not know. The statements made in that are, I think, not exaggerated.1

Of course the action of the President in placing General McClellan in command, without any investigation of charges so directly affecting him, was not prompted by me. I thought that there were brave, capable, & loyal officers, such as Hooker, Sumner, Burnside and many more who might be named, to whom the command of armies might be more safely & much more properly entrusted. The President thought otherwise, and I must do all I can to make his decision useful to the country.

I cannot divest myself of the impression however that there are most serious dangers ahead, from which nothing can save us except the wisdom virtue & courage of the people themselves.

Maryland has been rescued and Pennsylvania saved from invasion.2 But the rebel army has suffered far less than our own in the battles of the last two weeks, and has strong positions which it should never have been permitted to win. What now? Who can tell? I, though charged with the responsibility of providing for the enormous expenditures entailed upon the country have no control over--no voice even in deciding on--the measures by which the necessity for them is created. In fact I know almost as little of what is being done as any outsider.

Neither credit nor responsibility for what is done or decided outside of the Treasury Department belongs to me. The only responsibility really mine is that of consenting to remain in a position, where I am necessarily supposed to have some voice in public affairs and especially in the measures which belong to the prosecution of the war in which we are involved, when, in reality, I have none at all which may not at any time be overborne by factitious military clamor or insidious outside pressure.

Don't understand me as making any personal complaint of the President. I do not. In every matter connected with my Department he allows me to take whatever course I think best, always giving me a cordial support and manifesting in me all the confidence I can possibly claim.

But I do not think it enough that the Heads of Departments be supported in their special administrations. The affairs of each are so intimately connected with the general action of the Government that it

-275-

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