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

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

CHAPTER XXXI
THE OBSEQUIES HAVE BEEN ENLARGED

AS THE milder mood of spring replaced the dour gray of the winter months, there was improvement in Stanton's health. He still felt it necessary to decline to serve as leading orator at a forthcoming Gettysburg memorial meeting, but he was pleased that he had been invited before Colfax, the Vice-President-elect. He summoned enough energy to appear before a congressional committee inquiring into wartime ordnance practices; out of this inquiry there emerged plentiful evidence from other witnesses that Stanton had wrought miracles of co-operation from manufacturers and given the Union troopers a flow of weapons greater than any army in the history of the world had known.

His obvious improvement in health and reappearance in public revived rumors that Stanton was due for recognition from Grant, now in the White House. Stanton had outspokenly criticized the trend of negotiations with England concerning American claims for damages done to Union shipping during the war by raiders built in British yards. Republican leaders saw this approach as an opportunity to sway Anglophobe Irish Americans away from their traditionally Democratic party allegiance, and began to tout Stanton as Grant's logical choice for the significant English mission.

But instead, the White House tendered him an unimportant scraping from the diplomatic barrel: an assignment to Mexico to deal with claims arising from wartime border depredations. This was less exalted a post than Buchanan had provided Stanton a decade before, when he was a relatively young, untried man. Since then Stanton had

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