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on law, until he should prove himself guilty. Still the finance of the country was so vital, and came home so nearly to every man in it, that perhaps a deeper anxiety was felt about its management than that of any other branch. The Attorney-General, or chief of the Department of Justice, had a reputation as wide as the continent-and as far as mental ability and legal knowledge went, there could be no question among the growlers as to his perfect qualifications for the position. Mr. Judah P. Benjamin was not only the successful politician, who had risen from obscurity to become the leader of his party in the Senate, and its exponent of the constitutional questions involved in its action; but he was, also, the first lawyer at the bar of the Supreme Court and was known as a ripe and cultivated scholar. So the people who shook their heads at him-and they were neither few nor far between-did it on other grounds than that of incapacity. This was the popular view of that day at th
pervision, but to go into all the minutiae of the working of its bureaux, the choice of all its officers, or agents, and the very disbursement of its appropriations. His habits were as simple as laborious. He rose early, worked at home until breakfast, then to a long and wearing day at the Government House. Often, long after midnight, the red glow from his office lamp, shining over the mock-orange hedge in front of his dwelling, told of unremitting strain. Thus early in the drama, Mr. Benjamin had become one of its leading actors; having more real weight and influence with Mr. Davis than any, or all, of his other advisers. The President did not believe there was safety in a multitude of counsellors; and he certainly chose the subtlest, if not the safest, head of the half-dozen to aid him. With Mr. Mallory, too, he seemed on very friendly and confidential terms. These two he met as friends and advisers; but beside them, the Cabinet — as such-had scarcely a practical existence.
Chapter 19: days of depression. Reverses on all lines Zollicoffer's death Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of war transportation dangers the Tennessee river forts Forrest, and Morgan gloom followMr. Davis soon afterward relieved Secretary Walker from the duties of the War Office; putting Mr. Benjamin in his seat as temporary incumbent. The latter, as before stated, was known as a shrewd lawying decision and independence, combined with intimate knowledge of military matters. Besides Mr. Benjamin personally had become exceedingly unpopular with the masses. Whether this arose from the unalso be its head. His advent, therefore, was hailed as a new era in military matters. But Mr. Benjamin, who became daily more unpopular, had been removed from the War Department only to be returne that, though the foreign affairs of the Government might not call for very decided measures, Mr. Benjamin would not scruple-now that he more than ever had the ear of his chief — to go beyond his own
Thomas C. DeLeon, Four years in Rebel capitals: an inside view of life in the southern confederacy, from birth to death., Chapter 31: the Chinese-Wall blockade, abroad and at home. (search)
the Treaty of Paris view first southern commissioners doubts the Mason Slidell incident Mr. Benjamin's foreign policy Deleon's captured despatches murmurs loud and deep England's attitude ot in detail; and owed it to the people to explain and promulgate. But for some occult reason, Mr. Benjamin refused to view the European landscape, except through the Claude Lorrain glass which Mr. Slld not be deviated from. There may have been something deeply underlying this policy; for Secretary Benjamin was clearsighted, shrewd and well-informed. But what that something was has never been di however re-enforced by argument, or reason. Mr. Davis certainly seemed to rely more upon Mr. Benjamin than any member of his Cabinet; and the public laid at that now unpopular official's door allstic as well as foreign. Popular wrath ever finds a scape-goat; but in the very darkest hour Mr. Benjamin remained placid and smiling, his brow unclouded and his sleek, pleasant manner deprecating th
And still Congress wrangled on with Government and within itself; still Mr. Foote blew clouds of vituperative gas at President and Cabinet; still Mr. Davis retained, in council and field, the men he had chosen. And daily he grew more unpopular with the people, who, disagreeing with him, still held him in awe, while they despised the Congress. Even in this strait, the old delusion about the collapse of Federal finance occasionally came up for hopeful discussion; and, from time to time, Mr. Benjamin would put out a feeler about recognition from governments that remembered us less than had we really been behind the great wall of China. After Gettysburg and Vicksburg, came a lull in the heavier operations of the war. But raids of the enemy's cavalry were organized and sent to penetrate the interior South, in every direction. To meet them were only home guards and the militia; with sometimes a detachment of cavalry, hastily brought up from a distant point. This latter branch of se