Security Concerns & the Train Trip

Monday, January 28, 1861

Future Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes President-elect Lincoln from Ohio about security and political dangers: “My letters from Washington alarm me, though not easily alarmed. The defence of the city is said by one who certainly knows if anybody knows to be inadequate and the President is represented as incredulous and apathetic. My hope is that the investigations authorized by Congress will expose the danger, and secure a remedy if really considerable.
“Another danger is greater still and more imminent — and that is the disruption of the Republican Party through Congressional attempts at Compromises. Our only safety from this danger lies in the adoption & maintenance of the simple watchword — Inauguration first — adjustment afterwards — Let the word pass from the head of the column before the Republicans move. I know the temper of the people, and I know that the Republican Party will be defeated in Ohio next fall if the pledge given at Chicago is violated by the passing of an enabling act for the admission of New Mexico as a Slave State or by the proposal by Congress of the Amendment to the Constitution recommended by the Committee of 33. The people are vigilant and jealous. They have been often deceived in their hopes, and fear being again deceived. The friends of Compromise, so prominent Representatives write me, pretend to have your sanction to these measures. I know it cannot be so, but the persistent representations to this effect are doing much damage. Let me beg you to say if you have not already said to some trusted Senator &some trusted Representative that you desire the adoption of no compromise measure [till after] before the Republican become charged with the responsibility of administration through your inauguration. Inauguration first — adjustment afterwards.
Chase added a note about Lincoln’s projected train trip across the North: “I am glad that you have relinquished your idea of proceeding to Washington in a private way. It is important to allow full scope to the enthusiasm of the people just now. But a circuitous journey may not have so useful effects as one more direct — besides being more fatiguing to yourself. :
Dr. William Jayne writes his brother-in-law, Senator Lyman Trumbull, about concerns in Springfield regarding security in Washington, D.C. He reports that Illinois Governor Richard Yates has spoken to President-elect Lincoln: “Lincoln said that he would rather be hung by the neck till he was dead on the steps of the Capitol, before he would buy or beg a peaceful inauguration. Lincoln is firm as the base of the Rocky Mountains.” He adds: “I have heard nothing new during the past week in relation to the Cabinet appointments.”
Lincoln aide John Hay, acting as a journalist writes: “Mr. Lincoln will not only make no further announcement of his intentions in regard to the selection and disposition of his ministry, but will not even decide as to his appointments until he arrives at Washington, and has the benefit and advantages of the fuller information which is accessible there, in regard to the subject.”
Hay writes: “There is another point, whose publication may set at rest the anxiety of the holy army of self-appointed Union savers, and relieve Mr. Lincoln from an immense amount of daily terebration. Mr. Lincoln will not be scared or coaxed into any expression of what everybody knows are his opinions until the will of the people and the established institution of the Government are vindicated by his inauguration. Then if anybody doubts his integrity, his liberality, his large-hearted forbearance and his conservatism, their doubts will be removed. Until then let them possess their souls in patience.”
Lincoln begins serious work on his inaugural address.

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Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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