March 22, Tuesday. At the Cabinet-meeting Chase manifested a little disturbance of mind at my letter respecting the Ann Hamilton and the Princeton, sent in reply to his somewhat arrogant letter to me. Seward asked him if he had any gold to sell. He said no, if S. wanted to make money he had better get a permit from General Butler to carry in military supplies, and then persuade me to let the vessel pass the blockade. He then made a wholly perverted statement; confounded the two cases; said he never looked behind the military permit, which was sufficient for the Treasury. “But,” said I, “General Butler explicitly states that this trading permit to a Baltimorean to trade in North Carolina was based on your 52, 53, and 55 trade regulations, and I should like to know if they will bear that construction.” “Ah,” said he, “the permit was before the regulations were promulgated.” “No,” I replied, “they were distinctly and particularly cited as his authority.”
Chase did not pursue the subject, but tried to pass it off as a joke. His jokes are always clumsy; he is destitute of wit. It was obvious that he was nettled and felt himself in the wrong.
Seward said the Chesapeake had arrived from Halifax under convoy of the revenue cutter [Miami]. This whole thing is ludicrous. A convoy was no more wanted than if the vessel had been in Long Island Sound. But Seward applied to me for a gunboat. I declined and turned him over to the Treasury, if an armed vessel was required to bring the prisoners, which was a part of the case. It is a simple business, but an ostentatious parade and announcement may glorify the State Department.