There has never been and there is not now any excessive liberality in the appropriations made by Congress for paying Presidents and conducting the business of the National Executive. The President's salary, in 1861, is just what it was when such a dollar as is paid him, or even a silver dollar, would go twice as far in defraying household expenses. The salary of his private secretary is still only $2,500, with no provision for an assistant. When the work to be done imperatively demanded a second private secretary, it was necessary to appoint him, at first, a clerk in one of the departments, and then an army officer with special detail to duty in this office. His rank and position are fixed and recognized, however, by reason of the important functions he performs.
Since Mr. Lincoln's term began, something has been done toward refitting the "reception" part of the interior of the White House, but the remainder of that and of the outside are untouched, and the basement continues to carry somewhat the air of an old and unsuccessful hotel.
The northeast room has been as shabby as any, but it has assumed a suddenly disastrous look, this fine morning. The green cloth cover of the broad table was ink-stained and work-worn, last evening, but it was whole. It is by no means a unit, now. Tad and Willie Lincoln have been here, and they are the happy owners of brand-new pocket-knives. They are sharp knives, too, that will cut outline maps of the seat of war, or of anything else, upon green cloth table-covers. Such a looking mess!--Hullo! There goes the President's bell! He wants me in his room, but it isn't worth while to tell him what the boys have been up to.
That bell up there has a cord within the President's reach, and so have similar bells in other rooms, upstairs and downstairs. Any summons from him must be promptly responded to, especially when it is repeated in this furious manner. He is fire mad about something!