Monday, December 31, 1860
Lincoln again meets with Edward Bates – but alone. Bates writes in his diary: “Had two long conversations with L[incoln] in the forenoon and afternoon, in the course of which he showed me a number of letters from eminent Republicans at the East, and I was surprised to find that some of those [came from men] whom I had thought the most ultra – Among the letters were several from Mr. Seward. He goes as far as any one I have yet seen, in liberality in the filling of the Cabinet. He recommends that two or three Bell men be taken, and gives the names of some that would be acceptable to him viz Scott of Va., [William A.] Graham, [John A.]Gilmer (and another, whose name I have forgotten) and one in Tenn: perhaps [Thomas A.R.] Nelson –
“I knew that Mr. L. felt himself under a sort of necessity to offer Mr. Seward the State Department, and suppose that he did it in the hope that Mr. S[eward] wd. decline. But Mr. S. in a brief note says that after consultation with and advice of friends, he accepts. I [think] this is unfortunate, and [that it] will complicate Mr. L[incoln]’s difficulties. Not that Mr. Seward personally, is not, eminently qualified for the place, in talents, Knowledge, experience and urbanity of manners; but, at the South, whether justly or unjustly, there is a bitter prejudice against him; they consider him the embodiment of all they deem odious in the Republican party. And at the North and in the N.[orth] W.[est] there is a powerful fraction of the Repu[ublica]n. party that fears and almost hates him – especially in N.Y.
Bates wrote: “Seeing Mr. L[incoln]’s difficulties in filling his cabinet, I told him, most candidly, that I was ready to relieve him, as far as possible – that I had not agreed to take office, except as a painful duty, and that if he could fill the places without me, it would be a relief rather than a disappointment. He answered promptly – ‘No I cant [sic] do better than that – that State cant [sic] be pulled up.’:
Lincoln writes a letter to Simon Cameron which he will soon come to regret and attempt to retract: “I think fit to notify you now, that by your permission, I shall, at the proper time, nominate you to the U.S. Senate, for confirmation as Secretary of the Treasury, or as Secretary of War — which of the two, I have not yet definitely decided.”