William P. Fessenden

“The Chosen Chief Magistrate of this Great People”

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With his cabinet, he was satisfied. The only change he made after the inauguration was to replace treasury secretary William Pitt Fessenden with the banker Hugh McCulloch. When he had assumed the post the previous summer, Fessenden had been assured that he could leave once the finances of the country were in good shape. By the spring of 1865, the Treasury was stable, and when Maine reelected him to the Senate for a term to begin on March 4, Fessenden felt free to resign.
Lincoln was sorry to lose his brilliant, hardworking secretary. Fessenden, too, “parted from the President with regret.” During his tenure at the Treasury, his initial critical attitude toward Lincoln had been transformed into warm admiration. “I desire gratefully to acknowledge the kindness and consideration with which you have invariably treated me,” he wrote to the president, “and to assure you that in retiring I carry with me great and increased respect for your personal character and for the ability which has marked your administration.” Noting that the “prolonged struggle for national life” was finally nearing a successful conclusion, he went on, “no one can claim to have so largely contributed as the chosen chief magistrate of this great people.”

By Doris Kearns Goodwin,“Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” Goodwin-702-479-07