Bates Decides to Accept

Sunday, December 16, 1860

“Got home this morning to breakfast…from a hasty visit to Springfield, to see Mr. Lincoln, for the first time since his election,” wrote Edward Bates the day after his meeting with the president-elect. “I found him free in his communications and candid in his manner. He assured me that from the time of his nomination, his determination was, in case of success, to invite me into the Cabinet – and, in fact was so complimentary as to say that my participation in the administration, he considered necessary to its complete success.

“He did not attempt to disguise the difficulties in the way of forming a Cabinet, so as at once to be satisfactory to himself, acceptable to his party, and not specially offensive to the more conservative of his party adversaries. He is troubled about Mr. Seward; feeling that he is under moral, or at least party duress, to tender to Mr. S[eward] the first place in the Cabinet. By position he seems to be entitled to it, and if refused, that would excite bad feeling, and lead to a dangerous if not fatal rupture of the party …

“He said that if this difficulty were out of the way, he would at once offer me the State Department – but failing that, eh woudl offer me the Atty. generalship, and urge my acceptance.

“He did not state, and I did not choose to press him to state, who would probably fill the other Departments, or any of them. Inde[e]d, I suppose he does not yet know – so much depends on Mr. Seward’s position, and upon the daily-changing phases of political affairs.
“He assured me however, that I am the only man that he desired in the Cabinet, to whom he has yet spoke a [or] write a word, about their own appointments[.]

“I told Mr. with all frankness, that if peace and order prevailed in the country, and the Government could be carried on quietly, I would decline a place in the Cabinet, as I did in 1850 – and for the same reasons. But now, I am not at liberty to consult my own interests and wishes…And that, therefore, and as matter of duty, I accepted his invitation, and in that view, would take either office in which he might think I would be most useful.

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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