Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary Has Presidential Ambitions

February 21, 1864/2014
Volume 5, Issue 8 (176 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

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

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase by Matthew Brady, courtesy Library of Congress

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase by Matthew Brady, courtesy Library of Congress

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1864

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s