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declining the place. Instead of doing this, Cameron fortified himself with recommendations from prominent Pennsylvanians, and demonstrated that in his own. State he had at least three advocates to one opponent.
Pending the delay which this contest consumed, another cabinet complication found its solution. It had been warmly urged by conservatives that, in addition to Bates, another cabinet member should be taken from one of the Southern States. The difficulty of doing this had been clearly foreshadowed by Mr. Lincoln in a little editorial which he wrote for the Springfield "Journal" on December 12:
"First. Is it known that any such gentleman of character would accept a place in the cabinet?
"Second. If yea, on what terms does he surrender to Mr. Lincoln, or Mr. Lincoln to him, on the political differences between them, or do they enter upon the administration in open opposition to each other?"
It was very soon demonstrated that these differences were insurmountable. Through Mr. Seward, who was attending his senatorial duties at Washington, Mr. Lincoln tentatively offered a cabinet appointment successively to Gilmer of North Carolina, Hunt of Louisiana, and Scott of Virginia, no one of whom had the courage to accept.
Toward the end of the recent canvass, and still more since the election, Mr. Lincoln had received urgent letters to make some public declaration to reassure and pacify the South, especially the cotton States, which were manifesting a constantly growing spirit of rebellion. Most of such letters remained unanswered, but in a number of strictly confidental replies he explained the reasons for his refusal.
"I appreciate your motive," he wrote October 23, "when you suggest the propriety of my writing for
LETTERS TO STEPHENS
the public something disclaiming all intention to interfere with slaves or slavery in the States; but, in my judgment, it would do no good. I have already done this many, many times; and it is in print, and open to all who will read. Those who will not read or heed what I have already publicly said, would not read or heed a repetition of it. 'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
To the editor of the "Louisville Journal" he wrote October 29:
"For the good men of the South-and I regard the majority of them as such-I have no objection to repeat seventy and seven times. But I have bad men to deal with, both North and South; men who are eager for something new upon which to base new misrepresentations; men who would like to frighten me, or at least to fix upon me the character of timidity and cowardice."
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, who afterward became Confederate Vice-President, made a strong speech against secession in that State on November 14; and Mr. Lincoln wrote him a few lines asking for a revised copy of it. In the brief correspondence which ensued, Mr. Lincoln again wrote him under date of December 22:
"I fully appreciate the present peril the country is in, and the weight of responsibility on me. Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with the slaves, or with them about the slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. The South would be in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of Washington. I sup
pose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and ought to be extended, while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That, I suppose, is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.'
So, also, replying a few days earlier in a long letter to Hon. John A. Gilmer of North Carolina, to whom, as already stated, he offered a cabinet appointment, he said:
"On the territorial question I am inflexible, as you see my position in the book. On that there is a difference between you and us; and it is the only substantial difference. You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. For this neither has any just occasion to be angry with the other. As to the State laws, mentioned in your sixth question, I really know very little of them. I never have read one. If any of them are in conflict with the fugitive-slave clause, or any other part of the Constitution, I certainly shall be glad of their repeal; but I could hardly be justified, as a citizen of Illinois, or as President of the United States, to recommend the repeal of a statute of Vermont or South Carolina."
Through his intimate correspondence with Mr. Seward and personal friends in Congress, Mr. Lincoln was kept somewhat informed of the hostile temper of the Southern leaders, and that a tremendous pressure was being brought upon that body by timid conservatives and the commercial interests in the North to bring about some kind of compromise which would stay the progress of disunion; and on this point he sent an emphatic monition to Representative Washburne on December 13:
"Your long letter received. Prevent as far as pos
ACTION OF CONGRESS
sible any of our friends from demoralizing themselves and their cause by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort on slavery extension. There is no possible compromise upon it but what puts us under again, and all our work to do over again. Whether it be a Missouri line or Eli Thayer's popular sovereignty, it is all the same. Let either be done, and immediately filibustering and extending slavery recommences. On that point hold firm as a chain of steel."
Between the day when a President is elected by popular vote and that on which he is officially inaugurated there exists an interim of four long months, during which he has no more direct power in the affairs of government than any private citizen. However anxiously Mr. Lincoln might watch the development of public events at Washington and in the cotton States; whatever appeals might come to him through interviews or correspondence, no positive action of any kind was within his power, beyond an occasional word of advice or suggestion. The position of the Republican leaders in Congress was not much better. Until the actual secession of States, and the departure of their representatives, they were in a minority in the Senate; while the so-called South Americans and Anti-Lecompton Democrats held the balance of power in the House. The session was mainly consumed in excited, profitless discussion. Both the Senate and House appointed compromise committees, which met and labored, but could find no common ground of agreement. A peace convention met and deliberated at Washington, with no practical result, except to waste the powder for a salute of one hundred guns over a sham report to which nobody paid the least attention.
Throughout this period Mr. Lincoln was by no means idle. Besides the many difficulties he had to
overcome in completing his cabinet, he devoted himself to writing his inaugural address. Withdrawing himself some hours each day from his ordinary receptions, he went to a quiet room on the second floor of the store occupied by his brother-in-law, on the south side of the public square in Springfield, where he could think and write in undisturbed privacy. When, after abundant reflection and revision, he had finished the document, he placed it in the hands of Mr. William H. Bailhache, one of the editors of the "Illinois State Journal," who locked himself and a single compositor into the composing-room of the "Journal." Here, in Mr. Bailhache's presence, it was set up, proof taken and read, and a dozen copies printed; after which the types were again immediately distributed. The alert newspaper correspondents in Springfield, who saw Mr. Lincoln every day as usual, did not obtain the slightest hint of what was going on.
Having completed his arrangements, Mr. Lincoln started on his journey to Washington on February 11, 1861, on a special train, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln and their three children, his two private secretaries, and a suite of about a dozen personal friends. Mr. Seward had suggested that in view of the feverish condition of public affairs, he should come a week earlier; but Mr. Lincoln allowed himself only time enough comfortably to fill the appointments he had made to visit the capitals and principal cities of the States on his route, in accordance with non-partizan invitations from their legislatures and mayors, which he had accepted. Standing on the front platform of the car, as the conductor was about to pull the bell-rope, Mr. Lincoln made the following brief and pathetic address of farewell to his friends and neighbors of Springfield—the last time his voice was ever to be heard in the city which had been his home for so many years: