Henry Wilson

“I Would not Hesitate a Moment”

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The late Vice-President Wilson, shortly before his death,said that Blair met him one day near the War Department and solicited his good word, saying that Chase would certainly not be nominated. Wilson was startled by Blair’s confident tone and went at once to the President, to whom he reiterated the arguments already used in favor of Mr. Chase’s nomination, saying that the President could well afford to overlook the harsh and indecorous things which Chase had said of him during the summer. “Oh ! as to that,” replied Lincoln, “I care nothing. Of Mr. Chase’s ability and of his soundness on the general issues of the war there is, of course, no question. I have only one doubt about his appointment. He is a man of unbounded ambition, and has been working all his life to become President. That he can never be; and I fear that if I make him Chief-Justice he will simply become more restless and uneasy and neglect the place in his strife and intrigue to make himself President. If I were sure that he would go on the bench and give up his aspirations and do nothing but make himself a great judge, I would not hesitate a moment.”

Quoted in John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History, Vol. IX (New York: Century Co., 1890), p. 394.