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.

June 27, 2014

Diary of Gideon Welles

June 27, Monday. I sent Mr. Eames to New York last evening to consult with Mr. Wilson in the New York and Boston cases, giving my views in each. Henderson will struggle hard to get clear, and no effort must be spared to elicit the truth. Scofield’s case must be straightened, or rather court must be straightened in his case. In the case of the Smiths at Boston, I fear there has been unnecessary harshness. Olcott has made an ostentatious display of authority and been, I apprehend, tyrannical and oppressive. He is a harsh, rough instrument, and I shall be glad when he shall have done service with me. Yet in saying this I admit from what I have seen he has some good qualities as a detective. I have seen nothing to doubt his honesty; he is industrious and indefatigable, but vain, reckless, regardless of private rights, and all his qualities have been exercised in the case of the Smiths, who are shrewd, piously honest, self-righteous, and wary as well as sharp. It will not surprise me if they prove an overmatch for him and the lawyers.

I have a very earnest letter to-day from William C. Bryant in behalf of his partner and publisher, Henderson. It was handed to me by Mr. Odell, Representative from Brooklyn, and inclosed was also an open letter to the President, which he wished me to deliver. Mr. O. is, like H., a prominent member of the Methodist Church. They are of opposite politics. Of course Mr. H. stimulated Mr. B. to write these letters, and, having got them, sends them through his religious associate. Mr. B. evidently believes H. innocent and injured. This is natural. Odell knows he is not. Morgan believes that both Bryant and Godwin are participants in the plunder of Henderson. I have doubts as regards B., who is feeling very badly, and thinks there is a conspiracy in which Seward and Thurlow Weed are chiefs. I am supposed to be an instrument in their hands, and so is the President. But it so happens that neither of them knew any of the facts until the arrest of Henderson and his removal were ordered.

It grieves me that the Evening Post and Mr. Bryant should suffer by reason of the malfeasance of Henderson. As regards Godwin, I cannot say that my faith in him is much greater than in Henderson, and yet I know but little of him. The Evening Post does not sustain the character which it had under Bigelow and Leggett. Bryant is a good general editor in many respects, but the political character of the paper has been derived in a great degree from others. Of late there have been some bad surroundings. Opdyke, J. G. C. Gray, D. D. Field, and others of like complexion have been the regents and advisers of Godwin, until the paper is losing some of its former character, – perhaps more than any of us are aware.

I dined to-day with Attorney-General Bates, and after my return this evening wrote a reply to Bryant’s letter, disabusing his mind of some of its errors, provided his convictions are open to the truth.

Mrs. Franklin J. Smith of Boston sends me through Senator Sumner a touching and affecting letter in behalf of her husband. I gave Mr. Bryant’s letter to the President, who read it aloud to me and said he would reply.

Previous post:

Next post: