Salmon P. Chase 1863 Letter Signed as Secretary of the Treasury


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Politician (1808–1873) who served as Secretary of the Treasury for the first three years of Abraham Lincoln’s term, after which Lincoln appointed him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Two-page letter signed (LS) “S. P. Chase”, 7.75 x 9.75, Treasury Department letterhead, March 12, 1863.

Written during the Civil War by the former Governor of Ohio, Secretary of Treasury under Lincoln, and Sixth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in full:

I have received a letter from Maj. Bowan, one of the Additional Paymasters whose appointment I recommended, and whose conduct, I believe, has done credit to my recommendation. His letter contains The following observations, which I think of sufficient importance to submit for your consideration.

You will observe that were the paying of troops equally divided, there would not be exceeding two regiments to each paymaster, and allowing for a necessary number doing office duty, in charge of Departments etc.. it cannot be over three regiments for each Paymaster. Now this amount of work for a man in two months is certainly a great farce. My payments will average from eight to ten regiments, almost during the entire terms of service, and I am certainly very far from complaining of being overworked, was much as I am not employed more than me half the time.

This suggestion, I hope you will do me the credit to believe, is entirely unselfish, and is made solely on account of the already unprecedented expense attending our present troubles. The pay etc. of Paymasters already in service cannot fall short of one time quarter millions of dollars; and all things considered, I have no hesitation in saying that it would not be at all prejudice to that branch of service if the number of Paymasters was reduced Fifty percent, and the remaining half required to perform the duties.

I do not know what weight is to be attached to these statements but submit them for your consideration.

Fine example.