Printed copy. Robert Bruce Warden, An Account of the Private Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase ( Cincinnati, 1874), 453-54 ( micro 39:0914).
MY DEAR JUDE:1 I have seldom been so much surprised and pained, as by your letter of the 10th inst., and the copies of General Ashley's letters which came with it.2 I received also, by the same mail to-day, copies of the same letters in print.
You know how warm a regard I have ever cherished for General Ashley, as a true friend and faithful advocate of our cause, and how glad I have always been to promote his advancement, believing that I was thereby promoting the great political principles which I embraced early and have defended perseveringly.
I never dreamed until to-day that he was capable of seeking an appointment for anybody, stranger, acquaintance, or friend, upon any understanding, direct or indirect, that any share of its emoluments or opportunities for emolument should belong to him.
I can never approve or attempt to justify any such understandings. He who enters into them must vindicate them if capable of vindication.
It may be properly observed, however, and it may somewhat extenuate the culpability attaching to him, that very loose ideas on these matters have been current in Washington; the prevalence of which may be attributed, in large part, to the system of parcelling out executive patronage to members of Congress--a system against which I have constantly and earnestly protested.
His letters can not have appeared to General Ashley as they appear to me, and I am confident that, once impressed with a sense of their impropriety, he will never expose himself again to such a censure. Indeed, an act of Congress, for which I believe he voted, now expressly forbids such transactions.3
Under these circumstances, I think, if I were a voter in his district, I should not withhold from him my support, to the detriment of our cause. I think I should do by Ashley what Clay once asked one of his constituents, whom he had displeased by voting for the compensation bill, to do by him, 'Pick the flint and try the old gun again.'4
You see I have answered your letter though you have asked for no answer. And I must not close without a word or two on other matters.
We have fallen on very evil days. Under the influence of a shortsighted notion, that the old Union can be reconstituted, after a year's civil war of free States and slave States, just as it was, the President has hitherto refused to sanction any adequate measure for the liberation of the loyal population of the South from slavery to the rebels. Hence we are fighting rebellion with one hand and with the other supplying its