Theodore Calvin Pease, ed., The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning Volume I, 1850-1864 (2 vols.; Springfield, IL: Blakely Printing Company, 1927), 1: 599-601.
Transcription adapted from The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning Volume I, 1850-1864 (1925), edited by Theodore Calvin Pease
Adapted by Rebecca Solnit, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning Volume I, 1850-1864 (1925).
Thursday Decr 18, 1862 With Boone & Head at the Treasury Department in the morning. In the evening went with Mr D W Wise of Boston to the Presidents *The Servant at the door reported that he was not in his office—was in the house but had directed them to say that he could not be seen to night.
I told the boy to tell him I wished to see him a moment and went up in to his room. He soon came in. I saw in a moment that he was in distress—that more than usual trouble was pressing upon him. I introduced Mr Wise who wished to get some items for the preparation of a biography, but soon discovered that the President was in no mood to talk upon the subject. We took our leave. When we got to the door the President called to me saying he wished to speak to me a moment. Mr Wise passed into the hall and I returned. He asked me if I was at the caucus yesterday. I told him I was and the day before also. Said he “What do these men want?” I answered “I hardly know Mr President, but they are exceedingly violent towards the administration, and what we did yesterday was the gentlest thing that could be done. We had to do that or worse.” Said he “They wish to get rid of me, and I am sometimes half disposed to gratify them.” I replied Some of them do wish to get rid of you, but the fortunes of the Country are bound up with your fortunes, and you stand firmly at your post and hold the helm with a steady hand—To relinquish it now would bring upon us certain and inevitable ruin.” Said he “We are now on the brink of destruction. It appears to me the Almighty is against us, and I can hardly see a ray of hope.” I answered “Be firm and we will yet save the Country. Do not be driven from your post. You ought to have crushed the ultra, impracticable men last summer. You could then have done it, and escaped these troubles. But we will not talk of the past. Let us be hopeful and take care of the future Mr Seward appears now to be the especial object of their hostility. Still I believe he has managed our foreign affairs as well as any one could have done. Yet they are very bitter upon him, and some of them very bitter upon you.” He then said Why will men believe a lie, an absurd lie, that could not impose upon a child, and cling to it and repeat it in defiance of all evidence to the contrary.” I understood this to refer to the charges against Mr Seward.
He then added “the Committee is to be up to see me at 7 O’clock. Since I heard last night of the proceedings of the caucus I have been more distressed than by any event of my life.” I bade him good night, and left him