Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
IN SUSPENSE

UNABLE to believe that Johnson would actually force him from office, Stanton had made no preparations. He had $4.76 in cash remaining from his salary of the preceding month and no other ready money. Desperately needing rest and wanting to escape from the pressures of Washington until the December meeting of Congress decided his fate, Stanton borrowed $3,000 from friends, and with Ellen and Bessie headed north.

They aimlessly toured New England. He enjoyed a steamer excursion on Lakes Champlain and George and a visit to the fashionable spa at Saratoga Springs. Late in August the Stantons reached Con. gressman Hooper's Cape Cod home at Cotuit Point and were blessed with perfect weather. Stanton sported like a child in the bracing surf, delighted in picnics on offshore islands and a visit to an Indian village, and basked for hours on the sun-drenched beaches. He slept better than he had in years, and exulted to a hostess: "I can breathe! See, I can breathe!" She recalled that "all the sternness and severity of his countenance passed away. He joked and laughed . . . and . . . told us stories of the war."

Using the excuse of the seaside therapy he was enjoying, Stanton declined the large number of invitations to make speeches that came in. But Hooper guessed that the more important reason for his guest's reticence was that "there are things he does not wish to say nor omit to say."1

Better than Hooper, Ellen knew that Stanton was far less happy than he pretended. His hypochondria had returned, and from a morbid interest in afflictions he sought nostrums to cure his own and others'

____________________
1
Hooper to Woodman, Aug. 23, 29, Sept. 2, 1867, Woodman Papers, MHS; Flower, Stanton, 324-5.

-553-

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