15 October 2009

ch.10: Forming a Government

summary: Abraham Lincoln was elected president, now came the hard part. The Republican Party, which was officially organized in 1854, was an amalgamation of various old parties and factions: Whigs, Free-Soilers, Know-Nothings, the Liberty Party, antislavery Democrats, anti-Nebraska Democrats, and several others. Lincoln had to form a government and make all these factions relatively happy.

Lincoln also had to form a government while somehow showing northern Republicans that he would uphold the integrity of the party—but he couldn’t simply write off the South with antagonistic cabinet selections and hostile policy initiatives. It was an almost impossible task. John Nicolay’s daughter Helen described Lincoln’s job as “an intensified crossword puzzle in which party loyalty and service, personal fitness, geographical location and a dozen other factors have to be taken into account and made to harmonize.”

But Lincoln not only kept his party together during the “Great Secession Winter” but he also formed a government. He had to negotiate with and cajole Seward and Chase, but they did what was right for the country and joined the cabinet. And in the process, Lincoln held his ground one critical party issue. Writing to Senator Lyman Trumbull Lincoln declaring that, "Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost.... The tug has to come, & better now, than any time hereafter."

Other Misc. Points
Soon after his election in November of 1860, Lincoln received a letter from eleven-year-old Grace Bedell of New York. She suggested that the president-elect would look a great deal better with a beard "for your face is so thin." Lincoln answered that he had never worn whiskers before and wondered if "people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?" But within a month of Grace Bedell's letter, he was seen with stubble sprouting from his chin. The United States had never had a bearded president--Lincoln would be the first.

1 comment:

  1. Poor Vice President Hannibal Hamlin - Never included in the Cabinet meetings and dumped as V.P. in 1864 for Andrew Johnson.

    Tim Utter