The Politics of Finance
Soon after the election of Abraham Lincoln, Chase received inquiries concerning his availability for a cabinet post. Several factors explain his appeal to the president-elect. As an antislavery leader, Chase represented those most eager to challenge the peculiar institution and separate the federal government from any responsibility for it. Some feared Lincoln's position might be too moderate unless the antislavery wing of the party and Chase, its most prominent member, were included. Said Giddings: "It is important that Lincoln's administration should take radical grounds." Because of Chase's brief connection with the Democratic party and his leanings to Democratic economic positions, his appointment would also help balance the greater number of appointments which would go to former Whigs. Further, Chase had ingratiated himself to Lincoln by going to Illinois to campaign for Lincoln's election to the Senate in 1858; Chase, Lincoln acknowledged, had been "one of the very few distinguished men" who had helped in his campaign against Douglas.1 At the Chicago convention several Chase delegates had switched to Lincoln at a critical time. Chase had accepted his defeat gracefully and campaigned vigorously for the Republican ticket. Relations between the two men had always been cordial and, despite their ideological differences, Lincoln could expect that Chase would be a loyal and able administrator.
Chase had mixed reactions to the early speculation about a cabinet appointment. Having just been elected to the Senate he explained