Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Diary of Gideon Welles.

Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 2, 2014

Diary of Gideon Welles

February 2, Tuesday. Senator Grimes made a very good speech to-day in the Senate on naval affairs, in which he introduced a letter from Donald McKay, the eminent shipbuilder of Boston, complimenting our naval vessels and doing justice to the Bureau of Construction and Engineering, which have been of late so much abused. Truth will vindicate itself, though slowly. The persistent assault on the Navy Department is not without a purpose. There is design in it. The contractors, the claim agents, the corrupt portion of newspaper correspondents, and unprincipled Members of Congress are all engaged in this business. I am not mistaken in the fact that there is villainy in the scheme, for villains are combining in it. There is a conviction in my mind, although I cannot cite a tangible or certain fact to establish it, that the War Department had secretly instigated these attacks. I am, however, impressed with an earnest belief that there is a mischievous design to divert attention from the acts and doings of the military branch of the service by starting off with a hue and cry against the Navy.

But little of importance was done at the Cabinet-meeting. Several subjects discussed. Seward was embarrassed about the Dominican question. To move either way threatened difficulty. On one side Spain, on the other side the negro. The President remarked that the dilemma reminded him of the interview between two negroes, one of whom was a preacher endeavoring to admonish and enlighten the other. ‘There are,” said Josh, the preacher, “two roads for you, Joe. Be careful which you take. One ob dem leads straight to hell, de odder go right to damnation.” Joe opened his eyes under the impressive eloquence and awful future and exclaimed, “Josh, take which road you please; I go troo de wood.” “I am not disposed to take any new trouble,” said the President, “just at this time, and shall neither go for Spain nor the negro in this matter, but shall take to the woods.”

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