Augustus Frank

“I Should Despise Myself”

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The Hon. Mr. Frank, of New York told me that just after the nomination of Mr. Chase Chief Justice, a deeply interesting conversation upon this subject took place one evening between himself and the President, in Mrs. Lincoln’s private sitting-room. Mr. Lincoln reviewed Mr. Chase’s political course and aspirations at some length, alluding to what he had felt to be an estrangement from him personally, and to various sarcastic and bitter expressions reported to him as having been indulged in by the ex-Secretary, both before and after his resignation. The Congressman replied that such reports were always exaggerated, and spoke very warmly of Mr. Chase’s great services in the hour of the country’s extremity, his patriotism, and integrity to principle. The tears instantly sprang into Mr. Lincoln’s eyes. ” Yes,” said he, “that is true. We have stood together in the time of trial, and I should despise myself if I allowed personal differences to affect my judgment of his fitness for the office of Chief Justice.”

Quoted in Francis B. Carpenter, The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln: Six Months at the White House (New York:Hurd and Houghton, 1867), 219.