The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3

By John Niven; James P. McClure et al. | Go to book overview
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Now neither Mr. Seward nor myself is essential to you or to the country: we both earnestly wish to be relieved from the oppressive charge of our respective Departments; and we both have placed our resignations in your hands.A resignation is a grave act: never performed by a right minded man without forethought or with reserve. I tendered mine from a sense of duty to the country, to you, and to myself:--and I tendered it to be accepted. So did, as you have been fully assured, Mr. Seward tender his.I trust therefore that you will regard yourself as completely relieved from all personal considerations. It is my honest judgment that we can both better serve you and the country, at this time, as private citizens, than in your cabinet.Retiring from the post to which you called me, let me assure you that I shall carry with me even a deeper respect and a warmer affection for you, than I brought with me to it.With the truest respect & regardYours Sincerely, S P CHASEThe President
Chase did not actually convey this letter to Lincoln until two days later. See Chase to Lincoln, December 22, 1862 (below).
Chase's resignation represented a growing rift between radicals and conservatives in the Lincoln cabinet. According to Lincoln biographers John G. Nicolay and John Hay, recent criticisms of William H. Seward privately levied by Chase had fueled congressional radicals' growing dissatisfaction with the secretary of state. Seward, however, preempted opponents by resigning shortly after learning about plans for his ouster. On December 19, a special committee of the Senate met with Lincoln and the cabinet to discuss the matter. Despite previous criticisms, Chase found himself obliged to defend the administration, thus embarrassing himself and undermining the movement he had encouraged. His letter of resignation was brief: "I resign the office of Secretary of the Treasury which I have had the honor to hold under your appointment. Whatever service my successor may desire of me in making him acquainted with the condition and operations of the Department will be most cheerfully rendered." Chase to Lincoln, Dec. 20, 1862 ( Lincoln Papers, L.C.); Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, 6:262-72.

FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Autograph copy on letterhead stationery. Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (micro 24:0311).

(Copy)

Executive Mansion,
Washington, December 20., 1862.

Hon. William H. Seward, &
Hon. Salmon P. Chase.

Gentlemen:

You have respectively tendered me your resignations, as Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. I am apprised

-341-

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