Page images



wrote no public letters, made no set or impromptu speeches, except that once or twice during great political meetings at Springfield he uttered a few words of greeting and thanks to passing street processions. All these devices of propagandism he left to the leaders and committees of his adherents in their several States. Even the strictly confidential letters in which he indicated his advice on points in the progress of the campaign did not exceed a dozen in number; and when politicians came to interview him at Springfield, he received them in the privacy of his own home, and generally their presence created little or no public notice. Cautious politician as he was, he did not permit himself to indulge in any over-confidence, but then, as always before, showed unusual skill in estimating political chances. Thus he wrote about a week after the Chicago convention:

"So far as I can learn, the nominations start well everywhere; and, if they get no backset, it would seem. as if they are going through."

Again, on July 4:

[ocr errors]

"Long before this you have learned who was nominated at Chicago. We know not what a day may bring forth, but to-day it looks as if the Chicago ticket will be elected."

And on September 22, to a friend in Oregon:

"No one on this side of the mountains pretends that any ticket can be elected by the people, unless it be ours. Hence, great efforts to combine against us are being made, which, however, as yet have not had much success. Besides what we see in the newspapers, I have a good deal of private correspondence; and, without giving details, I will only say it all looks very favorable to our success."

His judgment was abundantly verified at the presi

dential election, which occurred upon November 6, 1860. Lincoln electors were chosen in every one of the free States except New Jersey, where, as has already been stated, three Douglas electors received majorities because their names were on both the fusion ticket and the straight Douglas ticket; while the other four Republican electors in that State succeeded. Of the slave States, eleven chose Breckinridge electors, three of them Bell electors, and one of them-Missouri-Douglas electors. As provided by law, the electors met in their several States on December 5, to officially cast their votes, and on February 13, 1861, Congress in joint session of the two Houses made the official count as follows: for Lincoln, one hundred and eighty; for Breckinridge, seventy-two; for Bell, thirty-nine; and for Douglas, twelve; giving Lincoln a clear majority of fifty-seven in the whole electoral college. Thereupon Breckinridge, who presided over the joint session, officially declared that Abraham Lincoln was duly elected President of the United States for four years, beginning March 4, 1861.

Lincoln's Cabinet Program-Members from the SouthQuestions and Answers-Correspondence with Stephens-Action of Congress-Peace Convention-Preparation of the Inaugural-Lincoln's Farewell Address -The Journey to Washington-Lincoln's Midnight Journey

URING the long presidential campaign of 1860,

May and the election at the beginning of November, Mr. Lincoln, relieved from all other duties, had watched political developments with very close attention, not merely to discern the progress of his own chances, but, doubtless, also, much more seriously to deliberate upon the future in case he should be elected. But it was only when, on the night of November 6, he sat in the telegraph office at Springfield, from which all but himself and the operators were excluded, and read the telegrams as they fell from the wires, that little by little the accumulating Republican majorities reported from all directions convinced him of the certainty of his success; and with that conviction there fell upon him the overwhelming, almost crushing weight of his coming duties and responsibilities. He afterward related that in that supreme hour, grappling resolutely with the mighty problem before him, he practically completed the first essential act of his ad

[blocks in formation]

ministration, the selection of his future cabinet-the choice of the men who were to aid him.

From what afterward occurred, we may easily infer the general principle which guided his choice. One of his strongest characteristics, as his speeches abundantly show, was his belief in the power of public opinion, and his respect for the popular will. That was to be found and to be wielded by the leaders of public sentiment. In the present instance there were no truer representatives of that will than the men who had been prominently supported by the delegates to the Chicago convention for the presidential nominations. Of these he would take at least three, perhaps four, to compose one half of his cabinet. In selecting Seward, Chase, Bates, and Cameron, he could also satisfy two other points of the representative principle, the claims of locality, and the elements of former party divisions now joined in the newly organized Republican party. With Seward from New York, Cameron from Pennsylvania, Chase from Ohio, and himself from Illinois, the four leading free States had each a representative. With Bates from Missouri, the South could not complain of being wholly excluded from the cabinet. New England was properly represented by Vice-President Hamlin. When, after the inauguration, Smith from Indiana, Welles from Connecticut, and Blair from Maryland were added to make up the seven cabinet members, the local distribution between East and West, North and South, was in no wise disturbed. It was, indeed, complained that in this arrangement there were four former Democrats, and only three former Whigs; to which Lincoln laughingly replied that he had been a Whig, and would be there to make the number even.

It is not likely that this exact list was in Lincoln's mind on the night of the November election, but only



the principal names in it; and much delay and some friction occurred before its completion. The post of Secretary of State was offered to Seward on December 8.

"Rumors have got into the newspapers," wrote Lincoln, "to the effect that the department named above would be tendered you as a compliment, and with the expectation that you would decline it. I beg you to be assured that I have said nothing to justify these rumors. On the contrary, it has been my purpose, from the day of the nomination at Chicago, to assign you, by your leave, this place in the administration."

Seward asked a few days for reflection, and then cordially accepted. Bates was tendered the AttorneyGeneralship on December 15, while making a personal visit to Springfield. Word had been meanwhile sent to Smith that he would probably be included. The assignment of places to Chase and Cameron worked less smoothly. Lincoln wrote Cameron a note on January 3, saying he would nominate him for either Secretary of the Treasury or Secretary of War, he had not yet decided which; and on the same day, in an interview with Chase, whom he had invited to Springfield, said to him:

"I have done with you what I would not perhaps have ventured to do with any other man in the country -sent for you to ask whether you will accept the appointment of Secretary of the Treasury, without, however, being exactly prepared to offer it to you."

They discussed the situation very fully, but without reaching a definite conclusion, agreeing to await the advice of friends. Meanwhile, the rumor that Cameron was to go into the cabinet excited such hot opposition that Lincoln felt obliged to recall his tender in a confidential letter; and asked him to write a public letter

« PreviousContinue »