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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General Scott Sends Memo to President Lincoln

General Winfield Scott

Sunday, March 10, 1861

Meeting at Montgomery, Alabama, the new Confederate Congress adopts constitution.

President and Mrs. Lincoln worship at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which they will attend regularly during the Lincoln Presidency.

General Winfield Scott sends Abraham Lincoln a detailed memorandum on military options: “The President has done me the honor to address to me certain professional questions, to which he desires answers. I proceed with them categorically.
“1. To what point of time can Major Anderson maintain his position, at Fort Sumter, without fresh supplies or reinforcement?”
Answer. In respect to subsistence, for the garrison, he has hard bread, flour & rice for about 26 days, & salt meat (port) for about 48 days; but how long he could hold out against the whole means of attack which the South Carolinians have in, & about the city of Charleston & its Harbour, is a question that cannot be answered with absolute accuracy. Reckoning the [batteries] troops at 3,500 (now somewhat disciplined) the batteries at 4 powerfull land, & at least one floating — all mounting guns & mortars of large calibre, & of the best patterns; — & supposing those means to be skillfully & vigorously employed — Fort Sumter with its less than 100 men — including common laborers & musicians — ought to be taken by a single assault, & easily, if harassed perseveringly for several previous days & night by threats & false attacks, with the ability, from the force of overwhelming numbers, of converting one out of every three or four of those, into a real attack.
“2. Can you with all the means now in your control, supply or reinforce Fort Sumter within that time?’
“Answer. No: Not within many months. See answer to No. 3.
“3. If not, what amount of means, & of what description, in addition to that already at your control, would enable you to supply & reinforce that fortress within the time?’
“Answer: A fleet of war vessels & transports, 5,000 additional regular troops & 20,000 volunteers, in order to take all the batteries in the Harbor of Charleston (including Ft. Moultrie) after the capture of all the batteries in the approach or outer Bay. And to raise, organize & discipline such an army, would require new acts of Congress & from six to eight months.”

Secretary of State William H. Seward writes President Lincoln regarding diplomatic positions: “I received last night what seemed to be authoritative as an announcement that Mr Fessenden withdraws his claim upon a chief or any mission. This is a relief.
“I like Clay for Spain — And am prepared to dispose of the question at once.
“I like equally Corwin to Mexico — and am also ready —
“As to Fremont and France — the prestige is good — But I think that is all. If as I have heard, he is to be engaged in raising money there for his estates, it would be a serious complication — Besides this he is by birth and education a South Carolinian and I am not certain of his being so very decided in the defence of the Union as a minister at Paris ought to be — I would rather send Dayton there — For England I am sure Mr Adams far above all others adapted to British Court & Society and infinitely more watchful capable, efficient, reliable every thing — New England is an important point. What better can we do for her. N.Jersey gives us little, and that grudgingly — I think Daytons appointment would be as much too large for her as any thing else we are likely to do for New England would be too small for her.
“After considering these things you will please decide. I can wait on you this morning on this subject if you wish, or I shall be ready to acquiesce at once in your decision without further conference.
“Please hold in reserve Secretaryships of these legations. They are almost as good as missions and hardly less important.”

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Winfield Scott Proposes Response to Secession

Sunday, March 3, 1861

President-elect Lincoln works on his inaugural address to be delivered the next day.

He confers with William H. Seward about his attempt to manipulate cabinet selection. Lincoln has dinner at Willard for his cabinet appointees. The next day he sent their nominations to the Senate without obtaining final acceptance from such problematic appointees as Salmon Chase.

The first of three Confederate commissioners, recently resigned Georgia Congressman Martin J. Crawford, arrives in Washington.

General Winfield Scott follows up on his dinner with Lincoln the previous night by writing:
“Hoping that, in a day or two, the new President will have, happily, passed through all personal dangers, & find himself installed an honored successor of the great Washington — with you as chief of his cabinet — I beg leave to repeat, in writing, what I have before said to you, orally, this supplement to my printed “views,” (dated October last) on the highly disordered condition of our (so late) happy & glorious union. To meet the extraordinary exigencies of the times, it seems to me that I am guilty of no arrogance in limiting the President’s field of selection to one of the four plans of procedure, subjoined: —
I. Throw off the old, & assume a new designation — the Union party; — adopt the conciliatory measures proposed by Mr. Crittenden, or the Peace convention, & my life upon it, we shall have no new case of secession, but, on the contrary, an early return of many, if not al the states which have already broken off from the Union. Without some equally benign measure, the remaining slave holding states will, probably, join the Montgomery confederacy in less than sixty days, when this city — being included in a foreign country — would require permanent Garrison of at least 35,000 troops to protect the Government within it.
II. Collect the duties on foreign goods outside the ports of which this Government has lost the command, or close such ports by acts of congress, & blockade them.
III. Conquer the seceded States by invading armies. No Doubt this might be done in two or three years by a young able General — a Wolfe, a Sesaix or a Hoche, with 300,000 disciplined men — estimating a third for Garrisons, & the loss of a yet greater number by skirmishes, sieges, battles & southern fevers. The destruction of life and property, on the other side, would be frightful — however perfect the moral discipline of the invaders.
The conquest completed at that enormous waste of human life, to the north and north west — with at least $250–000,000, added thereto, and cui bono? — Fifteen devastated provinces — not to be brought into harmony with their conquerors; but to be held, for generations, by heavy garrisons — at an expense quadruple the net duties or taxes which it would be possible to extract from them — followed by a Protector or an emperor.
IV. Say to the seceded [sister] — States — wayward sisters, depart in peace!

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Seward Tries to Back out of Cabinet

Saturday, March 2, 1861

Congress passes 13th Amendment prohibiting interference in “any domestic institution,” namely slavery. This amendment was never ratified.

William H. Seward, upset by the number of former Democrats including Salmon P. Chase who were slated for the cabinet, tries to decline cabinet appointment as secretary of state. Seward writes President-elect Lincoln: “Circumstances which have occurred since I expressed to you in December last my willingness to accept the office of Secretary seem to be to render it my duty to ask leave to withdraw that consent.”

Lincoln has dinner with General Winfield Scott.

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Lincoln Worships, Meets in Washington

Sunday, February 24, 1860

President-elect Lincoln attends services at St. John’s Episcopal Church with future Secretary of State William H. Seward. Among Lincoln’s visitors is Vice President John C. Breckinridge, one of the Democratic candidates for president whom Lincoln had defeated.

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Lincoln Leaves Harrisburg, Enters Washington Incognito

Friday, February 22, 1861

President-elect Lincoln got up early for a flag-raising ceremony outside Independence Hall – before leaving on a trip to Pennsylvania’s capital. In a speech to a welcome from the president of the Philadelphia Common Council, Lincoln said: I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. (Great cheering.) I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence–I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that independence. (Applause.) I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. (Great applause.) It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. (Cheers.) This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.”

Lincoln aide John Hay reported on the trip to Harrisburg that took much of the morning: “All along the route from Philadelphia, and especially at Lancaster, receptions seemed more the result of curiosity than enthusiasm. Even at Harrisburg, not one man in a hundred cheered.
“The crowds everywhere were uniformly rough unruly, and ill bred. Mr. Lincoln was so unwell he could hardly be persuaded to show himself.
“Harrisburg is swarming with soldiery, some of whom came from Philadelphia, and there are hardly enough persons out of uniform to balance the display. The corps of Zouaves elicited special attention. Colonel [Ephraim] Ellsworth was in his glory to-day.
“The Jones house, where the party stopped, was fairly mobbed. The arrangements there were unprecedentedly bad; some of the suite and party were unaccommodated with rooms; several in one bed, and others had no rooms at all. The crowd, and the fatiguing ceremonies of the day, and the annoyances and vexation at the badly conducted hotel, proved too much for the patience of the party, who vented their disgust loudly. The committeemen did nothing, and were in every one’s way. Completely exhausted, Mr. Lincoln retired at 8 o’clock, and Mrs. Lincoln, on account of the crowd, disorder, confusion, want of accommodation, and her own fatigue, declined to hold any reception.
“A drunken, fighting, noisy crowd infested the city all the evening, cheering, calling for ‘Old Abe,’ and giving him all sorts of unmelodious serenades. No terms are too severe to characterize the conduct of the crowd about the hotel and the arrangements there.”

Early that evening, Lincoln and Ward Hill Lamon sneek out of the Harrisburg activities for a special train to Philadelphia where he was secreted into a train for Baltimore. Ward Hill Lamon later recalled: “At the moment for the departure of the Baltimore train drew near, the carriage paused in the dark shadows of the depot building. It was not considered prudent to approach the entrance.
“We were directed to the sleeping-car. Mr. Kenny ran forward and delivered the ‘important package,’ and in three minutes the train was in motion. The tickets for the whole party had been procured by George R. Dunn, an express agent, who had selected berths in the rear of the car, and had insisted that the rear door of the car should be opened on the plea that one of the party was an invalid, who would arrive late, and did not desire to be carried through the narrow passage-way of the crowded car. Mr. Lincoln got into his berth immediately, the curtains were carefully closed, and the rest of the party waited until the conductor came round when the detective handed him the sick man’s ticket. During the night Mr. Lincoln indulged in a joke or two, in an undertone; but with that exception the two sections occupied by us were perfectly silent. The detective said he had men stationed at various places along the road to let him know if all was right; and he rose and went to the platform occasionally to observe their signals, returning each time with a favorable report.
“A thirty minutes past three the train reached Baltimore. One of the spy’s assistance came on board and informed him in a whisper that ‘all was right.’ Mr. Lincoln lay still in his berth; and in a few moments the care was being slowly drawn through the quiet streets of the city toward what was called the Washington depot. There again was another pause, but no sound more alarming than the noise of shifting cars and engineers. The passengers, tucked away on their narrow shelves, dozed on as peacefully as if Mr. Lincoln had never been born, until they were awakened by the loud strokes of a huge club against a night-watchman’s box, which stood within the depot and close to the track. It was an Irishman, trying to arouse a sleepy ticket-agent comfortably ensconced within. For twenty minutes the Irishman pounded the box with ever-increasing vigor, and at each blow shouted at the top of his voice, ‘Captain! it’s four o’clock! it’s four o’clock!’ The Irishman seemed to think that time had ceased to run at four o’clock, and making no allowance for the period consumed by his futile exercises, repeated to the last his original statement that it was four o’clock. The passengers were intensely amused; and their jokes and laughter at the Irishman’s expense were not lost upon the occupants of the sections in the rear.
“In due time the train sped out of the suburbs of Baltimore, and the apprehensions of the President and his friends diminished with each welcome revolution of the wheels. At six o’clock the dome of the Capitol came in sight, and a moment later we rolled into that long, unsightly building, the Washington depot. We passed out of the car unobserved, and pushed along with the living stream often and women toward the outer door. One man alone in the great crowd seemed to watch Mr. Lincoln with special attention. Standing a little to one side, he looked very sharply at him, and as he passed, seized hold of his hand, and said in a loud tone of voice, ‘Abe, you can’t play that one me!’ We were instantly alarmed, and would have struck the stranger had not Mr. Lincoln hastily said, ‘Don’t strike him! It is Washburne. Don’t you know him?’ Mr. Seward had given to Mr Washburne a hint of the information received through his son; and Mr. Washburne knew its value as well as another.
“The detective admonished Washburne to keep quiet for the present, and we passed on together. Taking a hack, we drove toward Willard’s Hotel. Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Washburne, and the detective got out in the street, and approached the ladies’ entrance, while I drove on to the main entrance, and sent the proprietor to meet his distinguished guest at the side door. A few minutes later Mr. Seward arrived, and was introduced to the company by Mr. Washburne. He spoke in very strong terms of the great danger which Mr. Lincoln had so narrowly escaped, and most heartily applauded the wisdom of the secret passage.’
“It now soon became apparent that Mr. Lincoln wished to be left alone. He said he was ‘rather tired;’ and, upon this intimation, the party separated. The detective went to the telegraph-office and loaded the wires with despatches in cipher, containing the pleasing intelligence that ‘Plums’ had brought ‘Nuts’ through in safety.”

Illinois Congressman Elihu Washburne later recalled the arrival of President Lincoln’s controversial arrival in the nation’s capital: “There has been a great deal printed in the newspapers about Mr. Lincoln’s arrival in Washington and about the ‘Scotch cap’ and ‘big shawl’ he were through Baltimore, etc., etc., most of which is mere stuff. I propose now to tell about his arrival at Washington, from my own personal knowledge — what I saw with my own eyes and what I heard with my own ears, not the eyes and ears of some one else.
“As I have stated, I stood behind the pillar awaiting the arrival of the train. When it came to a stop I watched with fear and trembling to see the passengers descend. I saw every car emptied, and there was no Mr. Lincoln. I was well-nigh in despair, and when about to leave I saw slowly emerge from the last sleeping car three persons. I could not mistake the long, lank form of Mr. Lincoln, and my heart bounded with joy and gratitude. He had on a soft low-crowned hat, a muffler around his neck, and a short-bob-tailed overcoat. Any one who knew him at that time could not have failed to recognize him at once, but I must confess, he looked more like a well-to-do farmer from one of the back towns of Joe Davies County coming to Washington to see the city, take out his land warrant and get the patent for his farm, than the President of the United States,
“The only persons that accompanied Mr. Lincoln were Pinkerton, the well-known detective, recently deceased, and Ward H. Lamon. When they were fairly on the platform and a short distance from the car, I stepped forward and accosted the President: ‘How are you, Lincoln?’
“At this unexpected and rather familiar salutation the gentlemen were apparently somewhat startled, but Mr. Lincoln, who had recognized me, relieved them at once by remarking in his peculiar voice:
‘This is only Washburne!’
“Then we all exchanged congratulations and walked out to the front of the depot, where I had a carriage in waiting.”

Lincoln Leaves New York for Philadelphia

Thursday, February 21, 1861

The Lincoln entourage leaves New York City by ferry for New Jersey where it resumes its travel by train, making several stops in the state for brief remarks before stopping in Trenton around noon, where he lunched and gave speeches.

President-elect Lincoln tells the New Jersey State Senate: “I remember all the accounts there given of the battle fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New-Jersey. The crossing of the river; the contest with the Hessians; the great hardships endured at that time, all fixed themselves on my memory more than any single revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. I recollect thinking the, boy even though I was, that there must been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come; I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in according with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.”

Lincoln overnights at Continental Hotel in Philadelphia where after a reception, he receives word about a plot to murder him in Baltimore. Information comes from several sources including New York Senator William H. Seward, who writes from Washington: “My son goes express to you — He will show you a report made by our detective to General Scott — and by him communicated to me this morning. I deem it so important as to dispatch my son to meet you wherever he may find you — I concur with Genl Scott in thinking it best for you to reconsider your arrangements. No one here but Genl Scott, myself & the bearer is aware of this communication.”

Lincoln also received warnings from railroad officials and their detective. Seward’s son, Frederick W. Seward, later recalled events: “About Noon, on Thursday, the 21st, I was in the gallery of the Senate Chamber when one of the pages touched my arm, and told me that Senator Seward wished to see me immediately. Going down I met him in the lobby. He said that he had received a note from General Scott and Colonel Stone, communicating information that seemed of grave import and requiring immediate attention. He handed me a letter which he had just written to Mr. Lincoln, enclosing the note from General Scott. He said:
“Whether this story is well founded or not, Mr. Lincoln ought to know of it at once. But I know of no reason to doubt it. General Scott is impressed with the belief that the danger is real. Colonel Stone has facilities for knowing, and is not apt to exaggerate. I want you to go by the first train. Find Mr. Lincoln wherever he is.
“Let no one else know your errand. I have written him that I think he should change his arrangements, and pass through Baltimore at a different hour. I know it may occasion some embarrassment, and perhaps some ill-natured talk. Nevertheless, I would strongly advise him to do it.”
“The train, a tedious one, brought me into Philadelphia about ten o’clock at night. I had learned from the newspapers, and the conversation of my fellow-passengers, that the party of the President-elect would spend the night at the Continental Hotel, where he would be serenaded.
“Arriving at the hotel, I found Chestnut Street crowded with people, gay with lights, and echoing with music and cheering. Within, the halls and stairways were packed, and the brilliantly lighted parlours were filled with ladies and gentlemen who had come to ‘pay their respects.’ A burst of animated conversation pervaded the throng, and its centre presentations to the President-elect appeared to be going on. Clearly, this was no time for the delivery of a confidential message. I turned into a room near the head of the stairway, which had been pointed out as that of Mr. Robert Lincoln. He was surrounded by a group of young friends. On my introducing myself, he met and greeted me with courteous warmth, and then called to Colonel Ward H. Lamon, who was passing, and introduced us to each other. Colonel Lamon, taking me by the arm, proposed at once to go back into the parlour to present me to Mr. Lincoln. ON my telling him that I wanted my interview to be as private and to attract as little attention as possible, the Colonel laughed and said:
“Then I think I had better take you to his bedroom. If you don’t mind waiting there, you’ll be sure to meet him, for he has got to go there sometime tonight, and it is the only place I know of where he will be likely to be alone.”
“This was the very opportunity I desired. Thanking the Colonel, I sat and waited for an hour or more in the quiet room that was in such contrast to the bustle outside. Presently Colonel Lamon called me, and we met Mr. Lincoln, who was coming down the hall. I had never before seen him; but the campaign portraits had made his face quite familiar. I could not but notice how accurately they had copied his features, and how totally they had omitted his careworn look, and his pleasant, kindly smile.
“After a few words of friendly greeting, with inquiries about my father and matters in Washington, he sat down by the table under the gas light to peruse the letter I had startling nature he made no exclamation, and I saw no sign of surprise in his face. After reading it carefully through, he again held it to the light, and deliberately read it through a second time. Then, after musing a moment, he looked up and asked:
“‘Did you hear anything about the way this information was obtained? Do you know anything about how they got it?'”
“No, I had known nothing in regard to it, till that morning when called down by my father from the Senate gallery.
“‘Your father and General Scott do not say who they think are concerned it. Do you think they know?'”
“On that point, too, I could give no additional information further than my impression that my father’s knowledge was limited to what had been communicated to him by Colonel Stone, in whose statements he had implicit confidence.
“‘Did you hear names mentioned? Did you, for instance, ever hear anything said about such a name as Pinkerton?'”
“No, I had heard no such name in connection with the matter, — no name at all, in fact, except those of General Scott and Colonel Stone.
“He thought a moment, and then said:
“‘I may as well tell you why I ask. There were stories or rumours some time ago, before I left home, about people who were intending to do me a mischief. I never attached much importance to them – never wanted to believe any such thing. So I never would do anything about them, in the way of taking precautions and the like. Some of my friends, though, thought differently – Judd and others – and without my knowledge they employed a detective to look into the matter. It seems he has occasionally reported what he found, and only today, since we arrived at this house, he brought on my life in confusion and hurly-burly of the reception at Baltimore.'”
“‘Surely, Mr. Lincoln,'” said I, “‘that is a strong corroboration of the news I bring you.'”
He smiled and shook his head.
“‘That is exactly why I was asking you about names. If different persons, not knowing of each other’s work, have been pursuing separate clues that led to the same result, why then it shows there may be something in it. But if this is only the same story, filtered through two channels, and reaching me in two ways, then that don’t make it any stronger. Don’t you see?'”
“The logic was unanswerable. But I asserted my strong belief that the two investigations had been conducted independently of each other, and urged that there was enough of probability to make it prudent to adopt the suggestion, and make the slight change in hour and train which would avoid all risk.
“After a little further discussion of the subject, Mr. Lincoln rose and said:
“‘Well, we haven’t got to decide it tonight, anyway, and I see it’s getting late.'”
“Then, noticing that I looked disappointed at his reluctance to regard the warning, he said kindly:
“‘You need not think I will not consider it well. I shall think it over carefully, and try to decide it right; and I will let you know in the morning.'”

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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Chase Gets Treasury

Saturday, January 19, 1861

Georgia secedes.
The Virginia Legislature calls for Peace Conference in Washington.

Salmon P. Chase

President Lincoln writes to Ohio’s Salmon P. Chase to offer him the post of secretary of the Treasury: “…our new Administration, under the peculiar circumstances which now surround us, will be called to deal directly with great questions of principle. It will be for a while in the place of Congress, & it may have the duty cast upon it to save a great cause even at the expense of the Republic. Such a responsibility can be adequately met only be firmness, courage and inflexible principle.
“More than any thing else, I fear ‘surrender…There I trust that you will accept the post of Secretary of the Treasury….I deplore William H. S[eward]‘s speech…I supplicated him with all the ardor of my soul, to change it tone & especially to abandon every proposition of concession, — ending his speech with the declaration that Mr Lincoln would be inaugurated 4th March President of the United States, & with a rally to sustain him. He did not hearken to me.”

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lincoln Makes Two Cabinet Appointments

Thursday, January 17, 1861

President-elect Lincoln announces the selection of Secretary of State William H. Seward and Attorney General Edward Bates.
Mary Todd Lincoln writes Illinois Judge David Davis, long a Lincoln intimate to oppose the nomination of Chicago attorney Norman B. Judd to the Cabinet. “Doubtless you will be surprised, to receive a note from me, when I explain the cause, of my writing, I believe your honest, noble heart, will sympathise with me, otherwise I am assured, you will not mention it. Perhaps you will think it is no affair of mine, yet I see it, almost daily mentioned in the Herald, that Judd & some few Northern friends, are urging the former’s claims to a cabinet appointment. Judd would cause trouble & dissatisfaction, & if Wall Street testifies correctly, his business transactions, have not always borne inspection. I heard the report, discussed at the table this morning, by persons who did not know, who was near, a party of gentlemen, evidently strong Republicans, they were laughing at the idea of Judd, being any way, connected with the Cabinet in these times, when honesty in high places is so important. Mr. Lincoln’s great attachment for you, is my present reason for writing. I know, a word from you, will have much effect, for the good of the country, and Mr Lincoln’s future reputation, I believe you will speak to him on this subject & urge him not to give him so responsible a place. It is strange, how little delicacy those Chicago men have. I know, I can rely on what I have written to you, to be kept private. If you consider me intrusive, please excuse me, our country, just now, is above all.”
Chicago Tribune editor Charles H. Ray writes to Massachusetts Gov. John A. Andrew that the nomination of Simon Cameron has been “arrested” but he admits little other knowledge: “I have told you all I know about what is in the line of Mr. Lincoln’s intentions, but let me say that this little does not come directly from Mr. Lincoln himself. I have hardly changed a dozen words with him about his appointments; and I am sure that no friend in Illinois was consulted about the invitation to Cameron. Of late, he is most communicative; and now that his eyes are opened to the fatal character of the mistake that he was about to make, I hope that he will more frequently call to his aid the men who have not his responsibilities and anxieties.
Ray continued: “Every day the man’s purity of intention shines out with new lustre. He has only one desire; and that to so govern the country that its prosperity and happiness may be secured which our great cause is advancing. If he fails, his dislike to say no to friends upon whose judgment he would like to rely and of whose affection, he feels sure will be chargeable with the misfortune. That he is patriotic and honest, and that he will bravely carry forward our flag, I cannot doubt; but more now would do him no harm.”

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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