WBTS Sesquicentennial
 
From: bernhard1848@att.net
 
While South Carolina and other States began forming a more perfect union, Lincoln ignored the obvious and spent his time forming a cabinet and repaying political favors. By New Year’s Eve 1860 Republican intransigence had Senator Judah P. Benjamin of Louisiana stating: “The day for the adjustment has passed. If you would give it now, you are too late…within a few weeks we part to meet as Senators in one common council chamber of the nation no more forever. We desire, we beseech you, let this parting be in peace.”
 
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
www.cfhi.net  
 
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The War Between the States Sesquicentennial
Lincoln Offers No Help for Union-Savers: December 1860-January 1861
 
“No legislative action, however favorable to the South, would make a dent in the secession movement unless it had received solid support from the Republican party. What Southerners wanted now was not legislation as such, but something amounting to ironclad guarantees from their enemies. Compromisers like

[John J.] Crittenden and [Stephen A.] Douglas were reduced from managerial roles to playing mediators, while trying to perform a political miracle.
 
If it existed at all, the power to halt the progress of secession rested with the Republicans, but they were not ready to make the kind of dramatic and concerted effort that the crisis demanded. From Springfield where the president-elect received a steady stream of visitors and wrestled with the problem of forming a cabinet, there came no help whatever for Union-savers.
 
Lincoln turned aside all pleas for public statement reassuring the South. In Washington, the Republican caucus likewise decided to maintain a low profile during the interregnum. Seward, still nursing his resentment at having been refused the presidential nomination, was for the time being content to watch and wait.  No other leader arose to take his place and activate the party.
 
Nothing did more to discourage any incipient thoughts of compromise among Republicans than word, informally circulated, of Lincoln’s frosty opposition, especially in reference to the territorial issue [of free Southern access to them].   To a Southerner he wrote: “On the territorial question, I am inflexible.”
 
Lincoln appears to have been one of those Republicans who underestimated the seriousness of the crisis and expected too much of Southern Unionists.”
 
(The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861, David M. Potter, Harper, 1976, pp. 523-533)