15 September 2009

ch.8: Lincoln is Nominated

summary: It would be an understatement to say that things went well for Lincoln in Chicago. He needed some luck, and he got it. He needed his opponents to slip, and they did. Bates, Seward, and Chase had all made enemies in the past, and some of those political fights came back to haunt them at the Wigwam. Lincoln, on the other hand, had situated himself well to be everyone’s second-choice. And it was a brilliant strategy. If one of the leading contenders faltered—even slightly—Lincoln and his managers were ready to take the nomination.

One of the most interesting historical aspects of the 1860 Republican convention is whether Lincoln promised anything for the support of some state leaders. It is clear that Lincoln’s Chicago managers wanted to offer cabinet posts in exchange for delegates in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But apparently, when telegraphed about this Lincoln replied, “Make no contracts that will bind me.” But did David Davis (shown in picture) and his other managers listen? Davis supposedly said, Lincoln ain’t here, and don’t know what we have to meet, so we will go ahead, as if we hadn’t heard from him, and he must ratify it.” This may be how Pennsylvanian Simon Cameron made his way into Lincoln’s cabinet.

A Kearns quote near the end of this chapter is probably one of the most vivid and accurate compliments of Lincoln: “In his years of travel on the circuit through central Illinois, engaging people in taverns, on street corners, and in shops, Lincoln had developed a keen sense of what people felt, thought, needed, and wanted.”

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