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.

August 15, 2012

Diary of Gideon Welles

August 15, Friday. Received yesterday a note from Chase that the President proposed to change two of the nominees under the new tax law in Connecticut. Called on the President, and stated to him I did it as a duty, that duty alone impelled me. He said he fully believed it, and was glad to do me the justice to say that in matters of appointments, patronage, I had never given him any trouble.

Having an appointment this Friday morning at 9 with the President, I met there Babcock[1] and Platt[2] of Connecticut. They had called and stated their case, which was extremely unjust to Mr. Howard, and, turning to me, Mr. B. said H. claimed he had procured or secured my appointment. The President said he had a slight acquaintance with Mr. H. himself. Had met him in Illinois and knew him as a friend of mine. Had received letters from him expressing regard for me, and one signed jointly by H. and Senator Dixon. But these gentlemen did not originate his action in relation to my appointment. “The truth is,” said he, — “and I may as well state the facts to you, for others know them,—on the day of the Presidential election, the operator of the telegraph in Springfield placed his instrument at my disposal. I was there without leaving, after the returns began to come in, until we had enough to satisfy us how the election had gone. This was about two in the morning of Wednesday. I went home, but not to get much sleep, for I then felt, as I never had before, the responsibility that was upon me. I began at once to feel that I needed support, — others to share with me the burden. This was on Wednesday morning, and before the sun went down I had made up my Cabinet. It was almost the same that I finally appointed. One or two changes were made, and the particular position of one or two was unsettled. My mind was fixed on Mr. Welles as the member from New England on that Wednesday. Some other names passed through my thoughts, and some persons were afterwards pressed upon me, but the man and the place were fixed in my mind then, as it now is. My choice was confirmed by Mr. H., by Senator Dixon, Preston King, Vice-President Hamlin, Governor Morgan, and others, but the selection was my own, and not theirs, and Mr. H. is under a mistake in what he says.”

[1] James F. Babcock, editor of the New Haven Palladium. Lincoln appointed him Collector at New Haven.

[2] O. H. Platt, subsequently United States Senator.

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