In an unpublished document, Cameron ignored Lincoln's request because of a political rivalry with the appointee, while Stanton later honored it.
At the Republican Convention in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was nominated in part because he received the support of a number of his rivals as their own hopes dimmed. To get them to swing behind Lincoln, his operatives promised the other candidates' managers that their men would receive cabinet posts. All of the...
At the Republican Convention in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was nominated in part because he received the support of a number of his rivals as their own hopes dimmed. To get them to swing behind Lincoln, his operatives promised the other candidates' managers that their men would receive cabinet posts. All of the candidates campaigned for Lincoln in the general election in November, and with their help he was elected. Salmon Chase, Edward Bates and William Seward went into cabinet; these were competent men, with whose performance Lincoln was satisfied. However, among the more important men who threw his support to Lincoln at the Convention, and then campaigned actively for him in a key state, was Pennsylvania Senator Simon Cameron. Lincoln let it be known that he intended to reward Cameron too; but Cameron was widely considered corrupt, and this possibility brought out anti-Cameron pressure from Cameron's own state, led by Republicans allied with newly elected Governor Andrew Curtain and Pennsylvania Republican Chairman Alexander K. McClure. Nonetheless Lincoln named Cameron Secretary of War in March 1861, though he was not entirely content with the choice. This increased when, after the launch of hostilities, reports came back to the President about possibly shady transactions in the War Department.
With the war on, Lincoln was inundated with requests for offices, contracts, and promotions from candidates and their relatives and friends, and from people seeking something from him and the Government. Since these often involved people wanting to enter, be promoted in, or deal with the military service, this required Lincoln working with Cameron. Mostly these contacts went smoothly, but when Cameron's self-interest was involved, that was clearly not so.
Jesse C. Dickey was a Whig Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, at a time when Cameron was a powerful Democrat in that state. He was an abolitionist, and gave a strong speech to Congress on the admission of California as a Free State. Dickey became a Republican, and campaigned actively for Lincoln in 1860. However, he was a strong supporter of Governor Curtin, Cameron's staunch rival. When the war broke out, Dickey joined the short term volunteers, specifically the Cassius Clay Battalion defending Washington D.C., and when this term expired, requested an officer's position in the army. This he did through a friend, Congress Charles R. Train of Massachusetts, a fellow Republican, who wrote Lincoln requesting that Dickey be appointed.
Lincoln obliged in this Autograph Endorsement Signed, dated October 3, 1861, to Secretary of War Cameron. "On the within recommendation, I am willing for Mr. Dickey to be appointed a Pay Master when there shall be a vacancy not already committed to any other." Cameron sat on the request and did nothing. In January 1862, Lincoln replaced Cameron with Stanton, whose management of the War Department was exemplary.
Meanwhile, though Dickey had not received a formal position, he voluntarily served in the Quartermaster Department under future general C. G. Sawtelle, who at the direction of Gen. George B. McClellan organized a depot on the Susquehanna River and took an active part in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign, disembarking and forwarding troops and supplies for the Army of the Potomac in succession from Fort Monroe, White House on the Pamunky River, and Harrison's Landing.
At this point, a year after his first endorsement, Lincoln received another request for a post for Dickey, and on the very same sheet of paper; he thus discovered that his original instructions had not been carried out. Lincoln now wrote Stanton, pointing this out to him and seeking a remedy. Autograph Endorsement Signed, to his second Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, written on the page and just below his previous note to Cameron, dated October 15, 1862. "Since I made the above indorsement Mr. Dickey has been acting a sort of man-of-all work, for Capt. C. G. Sawtelle, of the Q. M. department. I now think he should have a place, and I shall be obliged if he can be made an Add. Paymaster, Quarter Master or Commissary." Unlike Cameron, Stanton promptly obliged. To see a soldier caught between Cameron's feud with Governor Curtin and President Lincoln, and then Stanton, is fascinating.
This document is unpublished, was not known to exist, and was acquired directly from Dickey's descendants. It is also an extreme rarity. A search of public sale records going back 40 years reveals no other documents sent by Lincoln to both Cameron and Stanton having reached the market.
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