Secession Process Intensifies

Monday, December 10, 1860

In Charleston, Francis W. Pickens takes office as governor of South Carolina which continues to move toward secession.

In Springfield, President-elect Lincoln attempts to stiffen Republican resolve against any compromise that involves the extension of slavery. He writes Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull a letter – which over the next few days would be replicated in different forms to other Republican congressmen from Illinois: “Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and, ere long, must be done again. The dangerous ground—that into which some of our friends have a hankering to run—is Pop. Sov. Have none of it. Stand firm. The tug has to come, & better now, than any time hereafter.”

Connecticut editor Gideon Welles, who will become secretary of the Navy in the Lincoln administration, writes him: “I would not intrude uponyou, but to offer my congratulations on the result of the late election, but our friend Gen’l Welch expressed an earnest desire that I would write you on the subject of issugin a document in some form that shoudl appease the discontented and violent portion ofour countrymen who have been defeated. At no time have I entertained an apprehension thatyou would sent out a proclamation or an official paper before you were in office, and your note to Mr. Fogg settles this question, but as it had been asserted so authoritatively and the temper exhibited in certain quarters is so excited, Gen’l W. (who has known my opinions) wishes me to say how cordially I approve of your conclusions. This I do most cheerfully and unqualifiedly…What then is to be done? Must we be maligned and misrepresented for the nextg three months? Shall the present hostile and erroneous feeling go on increasing. I am sorry to believe that the Administration and its partisans wish it. He suggested that Lincoln set forth his political position in a letter to a friend that might be reprinted.


Lincoln Selects Seward for State Department

Saturday, December 8, 1860

President-elect Lincoln sends note to Vice President-Elect Hamlin to give to New York Senator William H. Seward:

William H. Seward

“With your permission, I shall, at the proper time, nominate you to the Senate, for confirmation, as Secretary of State, for the United States. Ironically, Seward’s past strong statements regarding slavery had undermined his bid to get the Republican presidential nomination. Now, he was beginning to move away from the party by advocating compromise.

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Cameron Pushed for Cabinet

Wednesday, December 6, 1860

Former Kansas territorial Governor Andrew H. Reeder visits President-elect Lincoln to advocate for a cabinet spot for Simon Cameron, the controversial former governor of Pennsylvania. Deciding on whether or not to appoint Cameron would prove Lincoln’s most difficult Cabinet decision. Eventually, he would be named Secretary of War where his management skills were challenged and found wanting.

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Buchanan Sends Message to Congress

Tuesday, December 4, 1860

President James Buchanan delivers his final Message to Congress. He declares that the Constitution “was intended to be perpetual, and not to be annulled at the pleasure of any one of the contracting parties.”

In Springfield, Mr. Lincoln continued to be besieged by visitors. New York Herald correspondent Henry Villard reported that “there was no end of introductions, salutations, congratulations, compliments, etc. etc. The attention of the President-elect is now fixed on Congress. He awaits the appearance of his predecessor’s Message with the greatest anxiety.”Tuesday, December 4, 1860

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Former Ohio Congressman meets with Mr. Lincoln

Monday, December 3, 1860

Former Ohio Congressman Joshua R. Giddings, who had served with Mr. Lincoln, visits Springfield as New York businesses became concerned about secession. “Mr. Lincoln keeps himself fully posted as to the conditions of the money market,” reported the New York Herald. State Auditor Jesse Dubois “furnishes him constantly such information as enables him to understand the strange capers of your bulls and bears.” Giddings, who was more strongly anti-slavery than Lincoln, would get a diplomatic appointment as American consul in Montreal.

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Robert’s Dilemma at Harvard

Sunday, December 2, 1860

At Harvard University, Lincoln’s eldest son Robert writes his mother that he had declined an invitation to a supper to celebrate the Republican election victory.

Robert Todd Lincoln

“I was sitting in my room about 6:30 when two boys came in and handed me an admission ticket, on the back of which the fellow had written asking me to come over as they were calling for me. I wrote him a note excusing myself. He must be the biggest fool in the world not to known I did not want to go over, when if I did I would be expected to make a speech! Just phancy my phelinks mounted on the rostrum holding ‘a vast sea of human faces, etc.’”

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