Compromise Stalled

Thomas Corwin

Wednesday January 16, 1861

Ohio Congressman Thomas Corwin writes Lincoln about compromise efforts in the House of Representatives: “I have been for thirty days in a Committee of Thirty-Three. If the States are no more harmonious in their feelings and opinions than these thirty-three representative men, then, appalling as the idea is, we must dissolve, and a long and bloody civil war must follow. I cannot comprehend the madness of the times. Southern men are theoretically crazy. Extreme Northern men are practical fools. The latter are really quite as mad as the former. Treason is in the air around us everywhere. It goes by the name of patriotism. Men in Congress boldly avow it, and the public offices are full of acknowledged secessionists. God alone, I fear, can help us. Four or five States are gone, others are driving before the gale. I have looked on this horrid picture till I have been able to gaze on it with perfect calmness. I think, if you live, you may take the oath.”
New York delegation visits Lincoln in opposition to a Cabinet post for Pennsylvania’s Simon Cameron. As a result of this visit, Hiram Barney writes back to New York about Lincoln’s Cabinet appointments: “He wants to take [Norman] Judd; but this selection will offend some of his friends and he does not decide upon it. Wells [sic] of Connecticut is his preference for New England – Blair of Maryland is favorably considered….Caleb B. Smith of Indiana is urged upon him and he may have to take him instead of Judd. Caleb is almost as objectionable as Cameron, & for similar reasons……What he [Lincoln] will ultimately do after reaching Washington no one not even himself can tell. He wants to please & satisfy all his friends.”
Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull writes Lincoln about Cameron’s annoyance with President-elect Lincoln. He concluded with a warning about potential security dangers for Lincoln: “A very prudent Friend, who is better posted in regard to matters here in the District than any other man, & knows more of the designs of the conspirators than anybody else, has suggested that you ought not to have it given out here, on when you were coming here but to let some of us here know the time & the route.”
Secretary of War Joseph Holt writes Fort Sumter commander Robert Anderson: “You rightly designate the firing into the Star of the West as an `act of war,’ and one which was actually committed without the slightest provocation. Your forbearance to return the fire is fully approved by the President. Unfortunately, the Government had not been able to make known to you that the Star of the West had sailed from New York for your relief.”


Fort Sumter, Cameron Stalemate

Monday, January 14, 1861

The South Carolina Legislature passes a resolution that “any attempt by the federal govt to reinforce Fort Sumter will be regarded as an act of open hostility and a declaration of war.”
Two representatives of Simon Cameron, including Pennsylvania Senator-elect Edgar Cowan, visit Springfield to press his case – as part of Cameron’s continuing efforts to insure that Lincoln did not withdraw his nomination. John Hay files a newspaper dispatch “It is thought, by those most entitled to speak, that Mr. Cameron will be appointed. The claim of so powerful a State, when concentrated upon one man, cannot be disregarded.
The New York Times reprints an item from the Missouri Democrat: “We found Mr. Lincoln in his parlor surrounded by some six or eight gentlemen, who all proved to be temporary visitors like ourselves. Mr. LINCOLN met us with a frank welcome, shaking hands with us, and at once by his words and his manner, making us feel that our call was no intrusion; and on his invitation, we were soon seated with the circle of gentlemen who occupied his parlor. “

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Star of West Repulsed at Charleston

Wednesday, January 9, 1861.

Mississippi secedes.
A Union ship, Star of West, is repelled from entering Charleston’s harbor in an attempt to resupply Ft. Sumter.
Salmon P. Chase writes Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens: “Your note came when I was in Springfield at Mr. Lincoln’s request. I arrived after your Pennsylvanians had all gone. Mr. Lincoln conversed frankly and fully. He is a man to be depended on. He may, as all men may, make mistakes; but the cause will be want of sufficient information, not unsoundness of judgment or of devotion to principle. It is the business of Republicans occupying responsible positions, or possessing in private stations the confidence of their fellow citizens, to give him that information which is indispensable to right conclusions. I am glad to find your course in opposing concession to principle approved throughout the Northwest. Why can’t Republicans await the coming in of their own Administration, and then act generously as well as justly?”
Lincoln aide John Hay reports that President-elect Lincoln came to the State Capitol in Springfield to witness the reelection of Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull, who had first been elected in February 1855 when Lincoln had been the Senate frontrunner. As soon as the dignitaries were seated, he wrote, “there was a slight sensation observable by the door, and the crowd parted to make room for Abraham Lincoln. He cordially saluted the Supreme Judges and quietly took his seat near them. He glanced up at the crowded galleries. Perhaps he thought of the times when his friends had filled them, twice before, and gone away heavy hearted. He did not think of it long, certainly, for he soon dived into his capacious coat pocket, and bringing up a handful of letters began to look over them. He reads letters constantly — at home — in the street — among his friends. I believe he is strongly tempted in church.
Hay continued: “The balloting began, and ended. It was a foregone conclusion. Applause tried to follow the announcement of Mr. [Shelby] Cullom that Lyman Trumbull was our Senator for six more years, but was instantly checked by the Speaker….Mr. Lincoln rose from his chair, and was straightway overwhelmed. He began to shake hands. Mr. [Norman] Judd stood near, holding that inevitable unlighted cigar between his lips, surveying the mature climax of a work that has been greatly his. All Lincoln’s old time friends were gathered around him.”

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Buchanan Rejects Confederate Demands

Saturday, December 29, 1860

James Buchanan

In Washington Confederate commissioners demand that Union forces be withdrawn from Fort Sumter – two days later they are rebuffed when President Buchanan declares: “Fort Sumter will be defended against all hostile attacks from whatever quarter.”

Senator William H. Seward writes Lincoln: “At length I have gotten a position in which I can see what is going on. In the councils of the President. It pains me to learn that things are even worse than is understood. The President is debating day and night on the question [of] whether he shall not recall …”

In Springfield, Lincoln moves out of the offices of the governor in the State Capitol; Governor Richard Yates will soon be inaugurated and a new legislative session will soon begin. A room is secured for his use in the nearby Johnson building.

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Confrontation Over Fort Sumter

Thursday, December 27, 1860

In Charleston, Governor Francis Pickens sends two men to Fort Sumter to demand that Major Robert Anderson return to Fort Moultrie. Anderson responded: “Make my compliments to the governor, and say to him that I decline to accede to his request; I cannot and will not go back.”

At the St. Nicholas Hotel in Springfield, President-elect Lincoln sits for sculpter Thomas Jones – and contemplates the wisdom of appointing Pennsylvanian Simon Cameron to his cabinet.

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Union Troops Move to Fort Sumter

Wednesday, December 26, 1860

In Charleston, Major Robert Anderson moves Union forces from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, which was still under construction but more defensible than Moultrie. The guns at Fort Moultrie were spiked and their carriages set on fired. Secessionists in Charleston were enraged when they discovered what Anderson had done.

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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