Montgomery Blair was put into the Cabinet as Postmaster-General more particularly as the representative of the loyalists of the Border States. His father was a leader in politics in Missouri, in which the family had long been of importance. His brother, Frank P. Blair, served with credit in the army, reaching the rank of Major-General. The Blair family was quite ready to fight for the Union, but was very unwilling to do any fighting for the black man. They wanted the Union restored as it had been, Missouri Compromise and all. It was Blair who had occasion from time to time to point out, and with perfect truth, that if, through the influence of Chase and of the men back of Chase in Massachusetts and northern Ohio, immediate action should be taken to abolish slavery in the Border States, fifty thousand men who had marched out of those States to the support of the Union might be and probably would be recalled. “By a stroke of the pen,” said Blair, “Missouri, eastern Tennessee, western Maryland, loyal Kentucky, now loyally supporting the cause of the nation, will be thrown into the arms of the Confederacy.” During the first two years of the War, and in fact up to September, 1863, the views of Blair and his associates prevailed, and with the fuller history before us, we may conclude that it was best that they should have prevailed. This was, at least, the conclusion of Lincoln, the one man who knew no sectional prejudices, who had before him all the information and all the arguments, and who had upon him the pressure from all quarters. It was not easy under the circumstances to keep peace between Blair and Chase. Probably no man but Lincoln could have met the requirement.
The Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, of Connecticut, while not a man of brilliancy or of great initiative, appears to have done his part quietly and effectively in the great work of the building and organising of a new fleet. He contributed nothing to the friction of the Cabinet and he was from the beginning a loyal supporter of the President. What we know now about the issues that arose between the different members of the Cabinet family comes to us chiefly through the Diary of Welles, who has described with apparent impartiality the idiosyncrasies of each of the secretaries and whose references to the tact, patience, and gracefully exercised will-power of the President are fully in line with the best estimates of Lincoln’s character.