But if at the last, worst comes to worst, do not forget that you yourself are at the head of the concern. If it fails you get the blame. And should the anvil chorus become so persistent that there is danger of discord taking the place of harmony, stand by your new man, even tho it is necessary to give the blue envelope to every antediluvian. Precedence in business is a matter of power, and years in one position may mean that the man has been there so long that he needs a change. Let the zephyrs of natural law play freely thru your whiskers.
So here is the argument: promote your deserving men, but do not be afraid to hire a keen outsider; he helps everybody, even the kickers, for if you disintegrate and go down in defeat, the kickers will have to skirmish around for new jobs anyway. Isn’t that so?
Get Out or Get in Line
Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Hooker! If all the letters, messages and speeches of Lincoln were destroyed, except that one letter to Hooker, we still would have an excellent index to the heart of the Rail-Splitter.
In this letter we see that Lincoln ruled his own spirit; and we also behold the fact that he could rule others. The letter shows wise diplomacy, frankness, kindliness, wit, tact and infinite patience. Hooker had harshly and unjustly criticised Lincoln, his commander in chief. But Lincoln waives all this in deference to the virtues he believes Hooker possesses, and promotes him to succeed Burnside. In other words, the man who had been wronged promotes the man who had wronged him, over the head of a man whom the promotee had wronged and for whom the promoter had a warm personal friendship.
But all personal considerations were sunk in view of the end desired. Yet it was necessary that the man promoted should know the truth, and Lincoln told it to him in a way that did not humiliate nor fire to foolish anger; but which surely prevented the attack of cerebral elephantiasis to which Hooker was liable.
Perhaps we had better give the letter entire, and so here it is:
Washington, January 26, 1863.
General:—I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course, I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.
I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your position, in which you are right.
You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not an indispensable quality.
You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside’s command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer.