James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
Washburne, an intimate friend of Lincolns, who was at the head of the House sub-committee on government contracts that spent two weeks in St. Louis, taking a large amount of testimony relative to the procedure of Frémont and his friends, wrote to Chase:1 Such robbery, fraud, extravagance, peculation as have been developed in Frémonts department can hardly be conceived of. There has been an organized system of pillage, right under his eye. He has really set up an authority over the government and bids defiance to its commands. The government in failing to strike at Frémont and his horde of pirates acknowledges itself a failure. Lincoln must have seen this letter, and if further justification for Frémonts removal were necessary, this was ample.
While the people of the country could not know of these confidential letters and reports, enough was known for Lincolns action to receive effective support. But a large minority looked upon Frémont as a martyr in the antislavery cause. Here are two out of the many instances of worthy people who were led astray by a charlatan because he knew how to play upon the one idea dearest to their hearts. Henry Ward Beecher said in his church, I cannot but express my solemn conviction that both our government, and in a greater degree the community, have done great injustice to the cause in Missouri, in the treatment which has been bestowed upon that noble man General Frémont. Is it known to the administration that the West is threatened with a revolution? asked in a private letter Richard Smith, the editor of the Cincinnati Gazette, a very important and influential Republican journal.
Note 1. Secretary of the Treasury. The date of the letter is Oct. 31. Washburne was not aware that Frémonts removal had been determined. On Nov. 2, Frémont turned over his command to Hunter. [back]