Stephens Calls Slavery “Cornerstone” of the Confederacy

Thursday, March 21, 1861

Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, who had been a friend of then-Congressman Abraham Lincoln in the late 1840s, delivers “Cornerstone Speech” in Georgia in which he states that the cornerstone of secession is “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery…is his natural and moral condition.”

Secretary of State William H. Seward meets with U.S. Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell as a conduit to Confederate commissioners, whom President Lincoln has ordered him not to meet with. Seward tries to reassure the Confederates that a compromise can be reached — even as the Lincoln Administration seems to be hardening on Fort Sumter. Gustavus V. Fox is in Charleston visiting Fort Sumter as a confidential agent of President Lincoln. Another Lincoln agent, Illinois politician Stephen A. Hurlbut, is dispatched from Washington to visit Charleston and report to the president.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Future Confederate Vice President opposes secession

Alexander H. Stephens

Wednesday, November 14, 1860

Former Georgia Congressman Alexander H. Stephens addresses the Georgia State Legislature during a series of presentations for and against secession. Stephens, who had served in Congress with Lincoln for two years, argued forcefully against secession. Reading press reports of the speech, Lincoln subsequently writes Stephens to request a copy. Their correspondence provides insight into Lincoln’s political thinking at the time and that of Stephens – who would become vice president of the Confederacy. Stephens would later deny that he had been considered for the Lincoln cabinet – although Lincoln was under pressure to find a southerner he could appoint.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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