Election Eve (November 7, 1864)

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

On the eve of the presidential election, which pitted Abraham Lincoln against George McClellan, George Meade writes his wife. He addresses the rumor that Lincoln will appoint Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to the Supreme Court. Instead, Lincoln ended up appointing his former treasury secretary, Salmon Chase, even though Chase had maneuvered behind the scenes to replace Lincoln as the Republican candidate for president.

I see you have taken the cue of the newspapers, and imagine the campaign is over, and that we are going into winter quarters; but you are greatly mistaken; I don’t believe active operations will cease this winter unless we should have the good luck to get into Richmond. There seems to be quite a talk of Mr. Stanton’s being made Chief Justice, and, were it not for the Senate, I should myself think it quite probable. I should, however, regret his leaving the War Department, for I do not know who there is to take his place, who would be as satisfactory. I should esteem it a great misfortune to see either Banks or Butler there. I have not seen General Grant since last Sunday week. I am, therefore, quite ignorant of what is going on; for being “out of the ring,” I never ask any questions.

To-morrow is election day. I hope it will pass off quietly, that all good citizens will submit to and abide by the result, and that, this question being settled, attention will be turned to filling our ranks and raising more troops, so that we can have the means of bringing this war to a close, which will never be over without much more hard fighting.

Meade’s correspondence taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 2, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), p. 239. Available via Google Books.

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