Inside the White House in War Times: Memoirs and Reports of Lincoln's Secretary

By William O. Stoddard; Michael Burlingame | Go to book overview
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My Dear General--Although I am well aware that in your late gallantly contested and triumphantly successful struggle with the powerful organizations opposed to you, you were actuated by better motives than the mere itch for office, or even a laudable desire to win for the winning's sake, yet somehow the late struggle has brought back the old office-seeking and office-giving times at Washington more vividly than they have been brought to my memory for many a day.1

I did not myself know when I went to Washington, although I had some idea, of course, just in what capacity I was to be employed; but went because Mr. Lincoln sent for me, glad enough to exchange the treadmill life of a newspaper editor in a Western village for the keen excitement promised me by a life in Washington. It has always been my understanding that the President had given comparatively few promises or pledges, all of which he more than redeemed in due time, and I was quite unprepared for the Egyptian locust swarm which crowded every hotel and boardinghouse, before the inauguration was fairly un fait accomplit.

From that time forward, for two years, the stream poured on with [a] steady flow, diminishing after the first few months only from a freshet into a well sustained river.

There was a reason for this in the fact that the tremendous convulsion caused by the war in all industrial occupations had thrown so large a number of effective men out of their customary avocations; but there was little or no reason in most of the applicants themselves. I do not know whether you or any other of the lately elected have or have not many offices to give away-- my impression is that you have not--but in either case "I feel to pity you." Where there were offices everybody seemed to want the same one--the best one, of course--and where there were none, the President was expected to make them, by some inscrutable necromancy supposed to be inherent in his

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