Lincoln's Fifth Wheel: the Political History of the United States Sanitary Commission

By William Quentin Maxwell; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
The Ledger of Battle

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THOMAS STARR KING of San Francisco threw California behind the Sanitary Commission. After the second battle of Bull Run he denounced the "supine temper," goading the city to wake up to the cries of the wounded, his oratory turning men "nearly frantic with enthusiasm and loyalty." Starr King promised to send monthly payments for the duration of the war. He followed one draft for $100,000 by another a few days later; the Western Sanitary Commission received $50,000 from the first draft of October 13, 1862.

The United States Sanitary Commission did not give St. Louis anything with good grace. King's words proved important in making the allotment: ". . . let . . . [ Eliot] have a fair bite when it gets there--and all other branches too, if there are still other subsidiary organizations whose cash treasury is distinct from yours." It was neither right nor best, said Olmsted, to give a cent to St. Louis or any organization other than those under his direction. Westward flowed a stream of letters from Bellows and Eliot, each pleading his right to the greater share of money. Bellows argued for the necessity of symmetry; Eliot drew on pathos. For King to have ignored St. Louis entirely would have brought on a fruitless row with the Missourians in San Francisco; but he chose to give the greater support to the United States Sanitary Commission. He read only parts of the competing letters to the finance committee;

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