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invitation, Mr. Chase visited Springfield on the 3d of January to confer with the President-elect, who asked him whether he would be willing to accept the office of Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Chase requested time to consult his friends before definitely replying. If, strictly speaking, the place was not then offered him, as Mr. Chase afterward stated, Lincoln's consent to this request was a practical committal. No message of declination was ever received, and an acceptance was evidently expected.
As to the War Department, it is certain that Lincoln at one time manifested a disposition to place Cassius M. Clay at its head. This was clearly indicated to the writer in November. General Clay himself regarded the place as practically promised him at an earlier date. If this view is correct, there was a double reason for the fact that the alternative promise to Mr. Cameron was recalled just before the invited interview with Mr. Chase in January. From that time onward until near the 4th of March, Cameron was apparently, if not actually, left in doubt as to whether he would be called to the Cabinet at all. Clay could not become Secretary of War, under the existing complication, without setting aside either Chase or Cameron, if not both, and was ultimately tendered a foreign mission instead.
Early in December, at an interview asked by the President-elect, Judge Bates was offered the place of Attorney-General, which he agreed to accept. Three rival candidates for the Presidential nomination had been chosen as heads of important departments. Was it not natural that Lincoln should wish to have in his council at least one of the active supporters of his own
candidacy? Norman B. Judd, of Chicago, had been an efficient organizer and worker in that behalf, and was a personal friend deemed worthy of such a position. Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, had also rendered valuable service in this way; had been Lincoln's associate at the bar for many years, and had been a distinguished Congressman, holding during Lincoln's term the chairmanship of the Committee on Territories. Influential friends of Mr. Smith visited Springfield to press his appointment as Secretary of the Interior, but received no positive assurance on the subject. Some attempts were made to have a Cabinet place tendered to a Southern Unionist like John Bell, James Guthrie, or John A. Gilmer; but Lincoln foresaw, without refusing permission to Mr. Speed and Mr. Weed to satisfy themselves in their own way as proposed, that no such appointment would be accepted on any possible terms.
On the 22d of November, Mr. Hamlin met the President-elect by appointment at Chicago. This was their first meeting since their names had been associated together as candidates, and probably the first since they served together in Congress, the former being then a Democratic Senator, yet as pronounced as Lincoln in regard to slavery. At this conference there was an interchange of views on national affairs, and Mr. Hamlin stated privately to political friends in Northern Ohio, where he stopped on his way homeward, that there would be “no lowering of the Republican standard” on the part of the incoming President. This was a point on which there had already been solicitude in the minds of some stout Republicans like Senator Wade, who welcomed this assurance at a moment when so many supports of the party seemed to be giving way.
For, on the one hand, there had begun to be talk of “ peaceable separation ”— to which Mr. Chase was inclined to listen; on the other, of a surrender of Republican principles and even of the party name, to organize a broad Conservative Union party on a basis acceptable to the Southern opponents of secession. Horace Greeley, in the New York Tribune, as early as the 9th of November, took ground for unresisted Disunion; and Thurlow Weed, in the Albany Evening Journal, simultaneously pronounced for a substantial surrender in order to conciliate the South. The Republican party was not more strongly bound to redeem its pledge against the extension of slavery than its promise that “the Union must and shall be preserved.” Would the President-elect be faithful to his own and his party's promises in both these particulars? This was the question answered by Mr. Hamlin.
That his answer was correct was proved three weeks later — after Congress had assembled and various “ pacification” measures had been introduced — by a confidential letter (December 13th) to Representative E. B. Washburne, of Illinois, in which Lincoln said: “ Prevent, as far as possible, any of our friends from demoralizing themselves and our cause by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort on slavery extension. There is no possible compromise upon it but which puts us under again, and leaves us all our work to do over again. ... On that point hold firm' as with a chain of steel.”
Congress met three days before the election of delegates to the South Carolina Convention. President Buchanan in his annual message dwelt sympathetically on the grievances of the South, but argued against secession as a lawful remedy, or as any remedy at all. In place of the conclusion naturally following, there was a confession of inability on the part of the Government to hinder the threatened revolt. The practice of the administration but too well accorded with its theory. The days of Jackson and Livingston were gone by.
Buchanan asked no legislation to strengthen his arm for the emergency. Congress volunteered none, but gave itself to the consideration of measures to pacify the discontented South. Most prominent of the propositions of this character was that offered by Mr. Crittenden, then Senator from Kentucky — to be succeeded by Vice President Breckinridge on the 4th of March, and to have a seat in the House of Representatives. That part of the President's message relating to the perils of the nation was referred in the Senate to a special committee of thirteen, and in the House to a committee of thirty-three — one from each State – and to these committees were respectively sent the various resolutions and projects on the subject introduced in either body. The Senate committee, appointed by Breckinridge, was composed of seven Democrats — Messrs. Powell, of Kentucky; Hunter, of Virginia; Toombs, of Georgia; Douglas, of Illinois; Davis, of Mississippi; Bigler, of Pennsylvania, and Rice, of Minnesota; one Conservative Unionist — Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky; and five Republicans — Messrs. Seward, of New York; Collamer, of Vermont; Wade, of Ohio; Doolittle, of Wisconsin, and Grimes, of Iowa. To the House committee of thirty-three, Speaker Pennington gave as conservative a cast as was practicable, Mr. Corwin, of Ohio, being its chairman.
The “ Crittenden compromise ” included six articles of amendment to the Constitution, making concessions to the South or seeking to allay Southern apprehensions, and four joint resolutions, three of which were designed to strengthen the fugitive slave law, while the fourth favored a more effectual suppression of the African slave-trade. The proposed constitutional amendments provided:
(1) That in all territory south of the line of 36° 30' north latitude slavery should be authorized and protected, and north of that line prohibited; (2) that Congress should have no power to abolish slavery in places under its exclusive jurisdiction within the limits of slave-holding States; (3) or to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, so long as existent in Virginia and Maryland, or either of them; (4) or to prohibit or hinder the transportation of slaves from one State to another; (5) that Congress should have power to provide payment for fugitive slaves escaping after arrest; and (6) that no future amendment should affect the five preceding articles, or Paragraph 3 of Section 2 of Article I. (relating to the basis of representation and taxation), or Paragraph 3 of Section 2 of Article IV. (relating to fugitive slaves); nor should any amendment be made giving Congress any power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any of the States by whose laws it is, or may be, allowed or permitted.
These proposals involved too positive a Republican surrender to find favor on that side in the Senate committee of thirteen. Messrs. Davis, Toombs and Hunter pleaded the lack of such support as a sufficient reason for withholding their votes, which, if cast with