Francis B. Carpenter

“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. 

“We will Get you Safe Across”

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Lincoln reply to critics of his administration: “Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold and you had put it in the hands of Blondin, to carry across the Niagara River on a rope. Would you shake the cable or keep shouting at him, ‘Blondin, stand up a little straighter — Blondin, stoop a little more — go a little faster — lean a little more to the north — lean a little more to the south?’ No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue and keep your hands off till he was safe over. The government is carrying an enormous weight. Untold treasures are in their hands ; they are doing the very best they can. Don’t badger them. Keep silence, and we will get you safe across.”

By Francis B. Carpenter:  Six Months at the White House, 1866, pp. 257-9.  Emil Ludwig,”Abraham Lincoln: And the Times that Tried His Soul” , Ludwig-281-15