Seward Updates Lincoln

Sunday, January 27, 1861

Leonard Swett


Future Secretary of State William H. Seward wrote President-elect Lincoln about the secession crisis: “This is the dark side of the picture. No for the brighter one. Beyond a peradventure disunion is falling and Union rising in the popular mind — Our friends say we are safe in Maryland — And Mr. Scott and others tell me that Union is gaining rapidly as an element in Virginia —
“In any case – you are to meet a hostile armed Confederacy when you commence — You must reduce it by force or conciliation. The resort to force would very soon be denounced by the North, although so many are anxious for a fray, The North will not consent to a long Civil War — A large portion, much the largest portion of the Republican party are reckless now of the crisis before us — and compromise or concession though as a means of averting dissolution is intolerable to them. They believe that either it will not come at all, or be less disastrous than I think it will be — For my own part I think that we must collect the revenues — regain the ports in the gulf, and, if need be maintain our selves here — But that every thought that we think ought to be conciliatory forbearing and patient, and so open the way for the rising of a union Party in the seceding states which will bring them back into the Union.
“It will be very important that your Inaugural Address be wise and winning,” Seward adds. “I am glad that you have suspended making Cabinet appointments. The temper of your administration whether generous and hopeful of Union, or taut and reckless will probably determine the fate of our country.
Seward writes Lincoln friend Leonard Swett the same day regarding Simon Cameron: “Lincoln is in a fix. Cameron’s appointment to an office in his Cabinet bothers him. If Lincoln do appoint Cameron he gets a fight on his hands, and if he do not he gets a quarrel deep, abiding, & lasting. What a world we live in! The game of politics is a pure game, full of honesty and true deep gratitude. Three fourths of the political world — those who lead especially — are corrupt — fish — dollar — power seekers — mud hunters — scoundrels. So this political world wags. Poor Lincoln! God help him! Pshaw what a scramble for office!”

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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