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rank nearest the President added, with a volunteer soldier's freedom of manner, “And send along the greenbacks.” Lincoln was greatly amused by the incident, and, explaining to Tad that the men had not been paid, the lad said, with great innocence: “Why don't Governor Chase print some more greenbacks?"
Later in the war, Secretary Stanton visited the Federal lines at Port Royal, South Carolina, and was taken up Broad River on board a small steamer. Reaching the pickets, one of them roared from the bank: “Who have you got aboard that tug?” An officer replied, with freezing dignity: “MajorGeneral Foster and the Secretary of War.” The picket shouted back, without a sign of abashment: “We've got major-generals enough up here. Why don't you bring up some hard-tack?” This was reported to Lincoln, who repeated the story with great delight for a long time thereafter.
On one occasion, while steaming down the Potomac, bound for Fortress Monroe, the President called attention to a vessel which he called a ship. Being told that it was a three-masted schooner, he laughed at his mistake and said: “I shall certainly know a three-masted schooner from a ship the next time I ever see either. When I came into this place I was deplorably ignorant of all marine matters, being only a prairie lawyer. But I do think that I knew the difference between the bow of a ship and her stern, and I don't believe Secretary Welles did."
It was, perhaps, a weakness in Lincoln that he seemed to think that he should attend to many of the small details of his office that might have been
turned over to the members of his Cabinet, to be by them referred to their subordinates. If he sent applicants to the departments, it was not until he had made some examination of the case presented. Once, being puzzled by the illegible writing of an application for an office, he indorsed it: “Brigadiergeneral, I guess.' An officer in the army, related to a very distinguished general, reluctant to ask the President for promotion, implored the aid of one of the President's friends. This gentleman, presenting the case to Lincoln, said that the officer in question had remarked that his own relationship to General was a disadvantage, for it kept him down. Lincoln jumped from his chair, and, shrieking with laughter, said: “Keeps him down? Keeps him down? That's all that keeps him up!”
An old acquaintance of the President, whom he had not seen for many years, visited Washington. Lincoln desired to give him a place. Thus encouraged, the visitor, who was an honest man, but wholly inexperienced in public affairs or in business, asked for a high office. The President was aghast, and said: “Good gracious! why did n't he ask to be Secretary of the Treasury and have done with it?” Afterward he said: “Well, now, I never thought M. had anything more than average ability, when we were young men together-and he wants to be superintendent of the mint!” He paused, and added, with a queer smile: “But, then, I suppose he thought the same thing about me, and here I am!”
Numberless anecdotes are told of Lincoln's kindness of heart. As to appeals to him in behalf of men
condemned to death for violations of rules and regulations of military discipline, or for the discharge of minors or persons of infirm mind, held to military service, it may be said in general terms that these were never made in vain. He was readily accessible to petitioners of every grade and rank in life. It was his habit to receive first those who came by special appointment, or were privileged by official station, and then to have the doors of his cabinet opened and all who were in waiting brought in, each in his order, to a general audience. This was very exhausting to the President, especially if he had, as he often had, a weight of apprehension on his mind by reason of some military crisic or similar complication.
Lincoln was accustomed to fits of abstraction from which no ordinary call could rouse him. At such times his eyes had a far-away look, as if his soul were wandering in space and must be deaf to the voice of any caller. Once, at the close of an unusually exhausting day, an intimate friend found Lincoln sunk ia a state of collapse, as it were, with the old faraway look in his eyes. Being brought back by repeated calls of his name, the President laughed cheerily, and explained that he had had a hard day and his wits “had gone wool-gathering."
THE PRESIDENT AND HIS CABINET.
Popular Expectation that Secretary Seward would be the Leading
Spirit of the New Administration-Mr. Lincoln's Firmness and Kindness with the Secretary of State—Mr. Stanton's Criticisms of Lincoln—Why Secretary Cameron lef: the Cabinet—The Exit of Postmaster-General Blair-Secretary jhase's Restiveness—His Subsequent Appointment as Chief Justice-The President Deferred to the Ministers.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S relations with his
Cabinet ministers were always friendly and cordial. With each member he was habitually frank and sincere in his treatment of all questions that affected the personal relations of each. It was not the habit of any of the Cabinet ministers, excepting Secretary Seward, to visit the White House on purely social and informal errands. Mr. Seward lived not far from the Executive Mansion, and, more than any other of his associates, he was a customed to make casual calls upon the President and his family. It may be remembered, to the credit of both of these eminent men, that it was Mr. Seward, rather than any other member of the Cabinet, who might have had occasion to feel restive over his own position in the councils of the President. Mr. Seward was the most prominent and conspicuous rival of Mr. Lincoln for the Presidential nomination in 1860. He may have
felt that his failure to secure that honor was due to an accident rather than to Mr. Lincoln's fitness for the place into which he was installed. We cannot say what was the estimate which Lincoln put on the qualifications of Seward for the Presidential office; but we may be sure that Seward once thought himself the greater man of the two. Undoubtedly he was not alone in holding that opinion Many patriotic and intelligent men thought Seward was not only the greatest man in the new administration, but they expected and believed that he would be the author and director of its policy. It is possible that this was also Mr. Seward's expectation.
Very early in the history of the Lincoln Administration this question was to be settled once for all. When Mr. Lincoln had written his inaugural address to be delivered March 4, 1861, he submitted it to the criticism of several persons who were near to him, among others, Mr. Seward. Returning the document to the President-elect, Mr. Seward suggested numerous changes and emendations, some of which Mr. Lincoln adopted and others he rejected. It may be said that the joint labors of the two resulted in the production of a State paper of great power and dignity; that Mr. Seward's share in this work was, after all, inconsiderable; but the fact that the President-elect, then regarded as a raw and unskilled statesman, from whom no greatness could be expected, was willing to accept corrections and suggestions from the future Secretary of State was enough to give Mr. Seward encouragement to magnify his office as “premier” of the new administration.