Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary’s Presidential Ambitions Become Public
On February 22, 1864, “[a]n underground movement to replace Abraham Lincoln with Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase as the Republican candidate for president in the 1864 elections came out in the open when a Chase-for-president committee headed by Kansas senator Samuel Pomeroy sent what came to be known as the “Pomeroy Circular” to one hundred select
Republicans (it rapidly reached a much wider audience). The circular sought to generate support for Chase by blasting the president, whose reelection, ‘even were [it] . . . desirable . . . is practically impossible,’ the circular noted, given the current feelings of the electorate. Even should he be elected, [the letter continued,] ‘his manifest tendency toward compromise and temporary expedients of policy will become stronger during a second term than it has been in the first.’ A man of Chase’s unique qualities was needed to ‘vindicate the honor of the republic’ and put energy into a languishing war effort. The ensuing backlash from Lincoln supporters effectively ended Chase’s quest for the Oval Office (though it did not still the secretary’s ambition).” Chase initially claimed not to know anything about the circular, but finally admitted to having talked with its authors.
– Submitted by Vermont Humanities Council Executive Director Peter A. Gilbert
Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War, Margaret E.; Wagner, p. 168