James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
of the chief of the Radicals at the same time as that of the chief Conservative is easy to understand. The Radical Senators who had attacked Seward would have viewed with great displeasure the retirement of Chase, but they it was who had brought it to pass that both must go or both remain. If I had yielded to that storm, said Lincoln nearly a year later, and dismissed Seward, the thing would all have slumped over one way and we should have been left with a scanty handful of supporters. When Chase sent in his resignation, I saw that the game was in my own hands and I put it through.1 He declined both resignations and asked both men to resume the duties of their Departments, which Seward did cheerfully and Chase reluctantly. The Cabinet crisis was over.2
Lincoln had displayed rare political sagacity in retaining in the service of the State the men who could best serve it, notwithstanding the lack of harmony in the Cabinet and the knowledge Congress had of it. His decision that the public interest does not admit of the retirement of the State and Treasury secretaries is justified by a study of the existing crisis in the light of subsequent events. In the misfortune and dejection which had fallen upon the country, no voice could be slighted that would be raised for the continued prosecution of the war and, since Seward and Chase represented the diverse opinions of two large classes of men who were at least in concord on the one all-important policy, it was desirable that they should remain in the Cabinet. The loss of either or both of them would have meant a subtraction from the popular support of the Administration that could in no other way be made good.