“Would rather have Swallowed his Buckhorn Chair”
December 15, Thursday. The Members of Congress have hardly commenced work as yet. They are feeling about. The malcontents are not in better mood than before the election. Chase’s appointment gives satisfaction to Senator Sumner and a few others; but there is general disappointment. Public sentiment had settled down under the conviction that he could not have the position. Sumner helped to secure it for him. The President told Chandler of New Hampshire, who remonstrated against such selections, that he would rather have swallowed his buckhorn chair than to have nominated Chase.
Sumner declares to me that Chase will retire from the field of politics and not be a candidate for the Presidency. I questioned it, but S. said with emphasis it was so. He had assured the President that Chase would retire from party politics. I have no doubt Sumner believes it. What foundations he has for the belief I know not, though he speaks positively and as if he had assurance. My own convictions are that, if he lives, Chase will be a candidate and his restless and ambitious mind is already at work. It is his nature.
In his interview with me to-day, it being the first time we have met since he reached Washington, Sumner commenced by praising my report, which he complimented as a model paper, – the best report he had read from a Department, etc., etc. As he is a scholar and critic, a statesman and politician capable of forming an opinion, has culture, discrimination, and good judgment, I could not but feel gratified with his praise. He says he read every word of it. Very many Members have given me similar complimentary assurances, but no one has gratified me so much as Sumner.
Quoted in Entry for December 15, 1864, Welles diary, Vol. II, p. 196.
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