DISCOURAGED BUT NOT DESPAIRING
THROUGHOUT the summer of 1862, Stanton's enemies had swooped in to press for his dismissal. They exploited the McClellan issue, the allegations of Stanton's inefficiency in providing adequate medical care and weapons for the armies, and, increasing in significance, the question of the fate of the Negro. Stanton's future depended entirely upon Lincoln's confidence in him. Stanton felt that the nation's future hinged on his ability to swing Lincoln toward a proper decision on the Negro question.
Lincoln's outstanding characteristic as President was his capacity for growth: adapting himself, other men, and a multitude of measures to altered circumstances. He never lost sight of his primary goal, a restored Union. In that clear vision he saw that there were alternate approaches to the question of the Negro's destiny. But he, like Stanton, sensed that there was no way to final success that must not first be hewed out by the Union's soldiers.
When Stanton joined the cabinet, Seward, Bates, Welles, Smith, and Blair were convinced that the Negro question must be avoided so far as possible in order to keep the support of Southern Unionists and Northern conservatives. Chase alone represented the radical wing of the Republican party, which insisted that it was senseless to combat a rebellion while upholding the evil that had caused it.
As a war Democrat, Stanton had made himself acceptable to Republican moderates and radicals alike. During his first few months in the war office members of both groups as well as his erstwhile Democratic friends thought that his views on the Negro problem were in accord with their own. What becomes more and more manifest,