A House Divided:
Prelude to the Civil War
Feelings of Nationalism accompanied the end of the Mexican War, as often happens at the end of a war; but it bore unexpected and troublesome fruit. With the clear acquisition of new territory; the question of the extension of slavery into those new territories raised its ugly head.
Oddly enough, two men on opposite ends of the slavery question both predicted that the end result of the war would be trouble for the Union itself: John C. Calhoun called Mexico: the forbidden fruit; the penalty of eating it would be to subject our institutions to political death. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: The United States may conquer Mexico; but it will be as the man swallows the arsenic.
Possible Essay Topic: Britain’s conquest of New France in the Eighteenth Century created a crisis of empire; America’s conquest of Mexico effected a crisis of Union.
Less than three months after the end of the war, the issue of slavery in the territories raised its ugly head. Congress had finished its work on August 8, 1846; when a freshman Congressman from Pennsylvania threw a monkey wrench in the works, and set off a hornet’s next. His name was David Wilmot. Wilmot delivered a provocative speech before the house, in which he said that if new territory were added to the union, "God forbid that we should be the means of planting this institution [slavery] upon it." Wilmot used the words of the Northwest Ordinance and proposed that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory." This became known as the Wilmot Proviso.
The Wilmot Proviso was added as an amendment to an appropriations bill. It never became law; but succeeded in publicizing, and polarizing, the slavery issue permanently. It had last been an issue settled by the Missouri compromise; but had been waiting for the opportunity to rear it’s ugly head. The Wilmot proviso gave it the opportunity to do so. The Wilmot proviso came up for vote twice; each time the House passed it; but the Senate did not. In the meantime, John C. Calhoun (an old man at this point) offered a series of resolutions, the Calhoun Resolutions, to counter it. He argued that since the territories were the common possession of the states, Congress had no right to prevent any citizen from taking slaves into them, as this would be a violation of the 5th Amendment prohibition against the taking of property without due process of law. Calhoun’s resolutions never came to a vote; but he made his point, and his resolutions became the settled policy for the South and Southern congressmen.The lines were now drawn. Senator Thomas Hart Benton said that Calhoun and Wilmot had fashioned a pair of shears. Neither one could do much by itself, but together, they could sever the ties of Union. Indeed they could. Wilmot’s position was cast in stone for the opponents of slavery; Calhoun’s for the South. President Polk suggested that the Missouri Compromise be extended into the new territory.
Another compromise was proposed by Sen. Lewis Cass, and endorsed by Stephen A. Douglas: Popular Sovereignty, also known as Squatter Sovereignty. The idea was that the citizens of the territories should decide the issues for themselves, just as if they were a state. There was a great deal to recommend this idea. It was believed that non-slaveholding farmers would be a majority of those who settled there, and thus the pressure would be taken off the Wilmot – Calhoun issue.
Oregon Territory was the first area where this was tested. There was no question that it would be free soil; but it had not been organized into a Territory yet because the provisional government had passed a law forbidding slavery there. Since the authority of the territorial government came from Congress, if this were allowed to stand, it meant that Congress gave them the authority to forbid slavery; this could easily lead to the implication that Congress had the power to forbid slavery.
The debate in Congress was hot and heavy; but Congress finally passed a bill allowing Oregon to organize as a territory with the provision intact. Polk signed it, again adhering to the old Missouri Compromise; and said that since Oregon was above 36º30’, it was not a big issue. Polk was exhausted by the debate; and refused to run again in 1848. AT it’s convention, The Democrats nominated Lewis Cass; but refused to adopt a squatter sovereignty platform. Rather the platform denied the power of Congress to interfere with slavery in the states.
The Whigs nominated Zachary Taylor, a war hero of the Mexican War, and who owned 100 slaves; but who had never voted in a national election. The party adopted no platform. The slavery issue actually caused both parties to eventually split. The anti-slavery movement was too strong to be dodged so easily. Those who were not abolitionists could easily support the exclusion of slavery from the territories. Thus, a new political party formed, the Free Soil Party.
NOTE: The Free-soilers supported the idea of exclusion from the territories because by so doing, they could support liberty, and at the same time not address the issue of slavery itself; let alone the issue of the slaves. That way, one could support free soil for white farmers, and keep the blacks down South where they belonged. They were for free soil; not for abolition.
Three groups comprised the Free Soil Party:
·Northern Democrats, called "barn burners" by the opposition, who said they were like a farmer who would burn down the barn to get rid of the rats; it was "rule or ruin."
·Antislavery Whigs, commonly called the "conscience Whigs," as opposed to the "cotton Whigs."
·Members of the old Liberty Party.
The Free Soil Party nominated Martin Van Buren for President. Its platform supported the Wilmot Proviso. The party’s slogan became: "Free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men." The Freesoilers split the vote enough to give the election to Taylor.
California Gold Rush: January 24, 1848, Gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill, California. This caused a mass migration the following year of "forty-niners," out to get rich quick. The migration during that time was the greatest the country had ever seen up to that point. The fortune seekers came from all over; but most were Americans. Some came overland; others by ship through the straits of Magellan. It caused a huge increase in the population of California.
A number of foreigners came also, and were not well received. People from England were called "limies," from Ireland, "paddies," and from France, "Keskydees." (This from the French: Qu’est ce qu’il dit? "What did he say?") A number of Asians and Hawaiians also came. The miners were primarily young single men. Almost none had any intention of staying, and moved on if there was word of a strike further ahead. They tended to be disorderly and lawless. One in five who came to California in search of Gold died within six months, either from suicide, disease (usually scurvy or cholera; one called from lack of Vitamin C in the diet; the other from drinking impure water), murder, or even lynching. It was so dangerous that Insurance Companies refused to write life insurance on those with plans to go there.
There was lots of liquor and gambling, but few women. The few women who were there could write their own ticket, either as a cook, housecleaner, or prostitute. Many of the miners lost all sense of value, and threw away money with abandon when a woman was involved. One woman actually sold biscuits for $10.00 each.Good Movie to describe the mining towns: Paint your Wagon.
Lawlessness prevailed, military authorities could not stop it, and the issue of California statehood became discussed. Taylor kicked around the idea of admitting California as a free state, since no one there was remotely interested in slavery, and possibly defuse the whole controversy. It didn’t work. Henry Clay, the great compromiser, drew up a plan to end all the controversy once and for all in January, 1850. It called for
·admission of California as a free state,
·organizing the remaining territories without restrictions on slavery;
·allow slavery in the District of Columbia, but abolishing the slave trade
·a Fugitive Slave Act
·Deny Congressional authority to intervene in interstate slave trade.
The debate on the Compromise became the last great debate between Webster, Calhoun, and Clay. Clay argued it would settle the issue. He said to the Northerners, "you have got what is worth more than a thousand Wilmot Provisos; you have nature on your side." He told Southerners that secession would lead to war.
The common belief was that slavery couldn’t exist in the territories, as agriculture there wouldn’t support it. The idea was still around that slavery might die a natural death at some point, if it were left alone. Sadly, no one wanted to leave it alone.
Calhoun was on his deathbed, but got out of bed to attend the Senate one last time, and had his speech read by a colleague. He argued that the South needed some protection of its right to maintain slavery. Calhoun had this speech read on March 4; he died on March 13. Daniel Webster also was pretty well spent, he was no longer the robust man he had been, and his thunderous voice was gone, but he spoke again to support the Union, this on April 7. "I wish to speak today not as a Massachusetts man, not as a Northern man, but as an American . . .. I speak today for the preservation of the Union. Here me for my cause." Parties on both sides opposed the compromise; because both sides were equally unyielding. New England antislavery people called Webster the "new Benedict Arnold" for his remarks.
July 4, 1950, President Taylor attended a ceremony to dedicate the Washington Monument. He got hot, and afterwards went drank a great deal of ice water, and later ate some cucumbers and milk. He contracted a form of cholera, and died five days later; the second President to die in office. Historians have long speculated on the outcome of the debate had Taylor lived. He may have postponed the Civil War entirely, or possibly may have hastened it along by ten years.
For many years, there was speculation that Taylor had been poisoned by extremists on either side of the slavery debate. The debate continued until the mid 1990’s when his body was disinterred, and a forensic autopsy performed. The autopsy revealed no evidence of poison.
At the time, his casket was removed from its mausoleum, an American flag thrown carelessly on it, and it was carted away in a hearse. This seems somewhat disrespectful for a former President of the United States!
Millard Fillmoresucceeded Taylor as President, and was something of a compromiser. Stephen A. Douglas also worked for the compromise, and it was finally passed in September 1850.
The most troublesome issue was the provision for a Fugitive Slave Law. Congress, as part of the Compromise, had passed a "Fugitive Slave Act," which put the capture of runaway slaves under federal jurisdiction, and gave a heavy advantage to the slave-catchers. Among other things, it
·Denied fugitives the right to a jury trial.
·Awarded special commissioners who were to determine a fugitives status $10.00 each time they certified delivery of a runaway; only $5.00 if they refused certification.
·Federal marshals could require citizens to participate in posses to capture runaways; those who refused could be imprisoned or fined.
Important: Aside from strengthening the authority of slave-catchers, the Act also created a strong temptation to kidnap freedmen and return them as runaways.
The Fugitive Slave act backfired; in fact it was quite a gift to the abolitionists. It added new emotion to their cause be virtue of the sheer inhumanity of it all.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said of the Fugitive Slave Act: "the filthy enactment was made in the nineteenth century by people who could read and write." He encouraged people to violate the law "on the earliest occasion."
Not that many slaves were returned under the act; probably less than 200 in six years; far more were freed by the Underground Railroad. Even so, the Fugitive Slave Law widened the chasm between the south and the emotional antislavery North. A number of Northern states passed "personal liberty laws" which forbade the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act within the state’s borders.Compare this with the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, as well as Calhoun’s nullification doctrine. Are they all that different?
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published about this time, and added more fuel to the fire.
Question: Is it a racist book? Stowe pities the African race; but seems to feel that their ultimate happiness is in being returned to Africa. She NEVER appears willing to accept them as equals, brothers and sisters. NEVER does she mention the possibility that they be accorded the same treatment as white Americans.
Election of 1852: Democrats nominated Franklin Pearce of New Hampshire. They managed to "paper over" their differences and make a showing of unity, even if it were not there. The Freesoilers nominated John P. Hale; which went nowhere The Whigs repudiated Fillmore because he had supported the Compromise of 1850. After 52 ballots, they went for the war hero, and nominated General Winfield Scott. Scott was a nativist, which alienated many German and Irish voters; and also was strongly antislavery; which alienated the "cotton Whigs." In the end, he lost miserably. Pierce won handilyAt the time of his election, Pierce was the youngest man elected. He had served as a congressman, senator, and as a Brigadier in Mexico. He was considered quite handsome by the standards of the day, and was often referred to as "handsome Frank." His wife hated politics; and he had promised her to give it up.
The Pierces had two sons; the eldest of which died from disease. Pierce received a letter from his younger son (about ten years old) begging him to stay out of politics. Pierce, of course, broke the promise. When he was on his way to Washington to be inaugurated, the railroad car in which he was riding blew an axle. This caused the car to derail, and a heavy iron beam fell. There was only one casualty; Pearce’s only son, who was virtually decapitated by the accident. His wife blamed him for breaking his promise, and said that God had punished him. He had to take the oath of office a few days later, still fresh from the tragedy.Pierce tried to compromise between the parties, but the lines were too firmly drawn, and the parties too far apart. All he succeeded in doing was making both sides mad at him. Before his first year in office, his own party had decided that he was a failure.
Foreign Affairs: Some sentiment to take Cuba existed. The U.S. offered to buy it from Spain, but Spain refused. A document known as the Ostend Manifesto suggested that the U.S. could be provoked into taking Cuba. When Spain made it public, it was very embarrassing for the government. Northerners claimed it was a plot to add more slave territory to the Union.
China and Japan soon allowed U.S. ships to call and trade. Japan had been particularly isolated. American whalers who shipwrecked on Japanese shores had not been allowed to return home.
1853 – Gadsden Purchase added land to Southwest United States. The purpose was to acquire land for a transcontinental Railroad; but even this plan got caught up in sectional rivalry. The issue of where the Railroad should be located (a number of sites were suggested) soon revived the slavery debate.
Stephen A. Douglas proposed a route for the railroad through a new territory to bear the Indian name: Nebraska. Douglas needed Southern support in Congress to get it passed, so to help it along, he added language to provide for popular sovereignty to decide the slavery issue.
The specific language read: "all questions pertaining to slavery in the Territory, and in the new states to be formed therefrom are to be left to the people residing therein, through their appropriate representatives. Actually, this was quite a dodge; as the Missouri Compromise would exclude slavery. Southerners figured this out quickly enough; so Douglas added to the Bill a provision to repeal the Missouri Compromise insofar as it prohibited slavery North of 36º3o’, and also to organize the land into two territories: Kansas, and Nebraska. Douglas appeared primarily to be interested in getting the railroad built. He had concluded that the climate and geography of the new territories would preclude plantation agriculture; and couldn’t imagine people getting all worked up over what he considered basically an abstraction. However, he failed to gauge the depth of feeling on the slavery issue. He had unknowingly kicked over a substantial hornet’s nest.
Almost immediately, protests in the North became widespread. The radical position about slavery became the common position for most people in the North. Editorials, sermons, petitions all expressed indignation at the plan to end the Missouri Compromise as a breach of a sacred trust. But, Douglas had the votes and went forward. President Pierce also supported Douglas’ position. Many in the North determined that if the Mi ssouri Compromise was not a sacred pledge; then neither was the Fugitive Slave Act. Mobs often gathered to prevent the return of slaves. The real hotbed of protest against the act was in Boston. One person even sent a letter to President Pierce calling him a "damned infernal scoundrel," and saying "if only I had you here in Boston, I would murder you.
The Country was slowly being pulled apart. The Methodist and Baptist Churches had already split; the major political parties were beginning to split also. The Kansas-Nebraska Act destroyed the Whig Party. Northern Whigs moved to either the Know Nothing Party; or to a new party formed from a coalition of several smaller ones in 1854, to be known as the "Republican" party; based on the memory of Thomas Jefferson.
Bleeding Kansas: The act creating the new territories of Kansas-Nebraska specified that the slavery issue would be settled by popular sovereignty; but did not specify WHEN that decision would be made. Both sides of the issue decided that Kansas was where the issue would be decided once and for all. Both sides tried to move people sympathetic to their cause into Kansas. Most settlers came from Missouri and surrounding states; and were not slaveholders; but also were not abolitionists. Most were quite racist and prejudiced against blacks. A large number wanted to keep blacks out altogether, regardless of their status.
An election for a territorial legislature was held in 1855; but a large number of proslavery people from Missouri crossed over and voted, giving a majority to the pro-slave faction. The governor of Kansas called the vote a fraud, but did not try to set it aside because he was afraid he would be shot if he did. The legislature thus elected passed a severe slave code, and made it a capital offense to aid a fugitive slave. But the free-state people were not done. They held their own convention; declared the legislature "bogus," and elected their own governor and legislature; so two governments existed in Kansas, both claiming to be legal.The "free state" crowd had drafted a Constitution that prohibited both slavery and free blacks from Kansas. It appeared that the only way the issue would be settled was to "shoot it out," and both sides prepared. Henry Ward Beecher, son of Lyman Beecher and sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, sent rifles to arm the free-state forces. These became known as "Beecher’s Bibles."
May, 1856, proslavery forces stole or destroyed property in the "free" town of Lawrence. There was only one casualty, but the outrage provoked one John Brown, a Nineteenth Century Osama ben Laden; who said that "God had raised him to break the jaws of the wicked." Brown and his sons attacked a pro-slavery settlement at Pottawatomie Creek, and hacked five men to death before their families. Proslavery forces attacked Brown, and killed one of his sons. By the end of 1856, 200 people had been killed in the turmoil.
Sumner-Brooks Affair: May 1856, Senator Charles Graham Sumner of Massachusetts delivered an inflammatory speech on the floor of the Senate. He called the treatment of Kansas "the rape of a virgin territory," and "it may be clearly traced to a depraved longing for a new slave state." He singled out Senator A.P. Butler of South Carolina for attack, and said he had "chosen a mistress…who…though polluted in the sight of the world is chaste in his sight—I mean the harlot, Slavery." Butler had recently suffered a stroke, and his speech was impaired as a result. During his remarks, Sumner mocked Butler’s speech impediment. Butler’s nephew, Preston S. Brooks from Edgefield, S.C. (Strom Thurmond country) deeply resented the insult. Two days later, he went into the Senate Chamber where Sumner was writing at his desk. He accused him of libel against S.C and Butler, took a cane and beat Sumner to a pulp with a cane; causing two skull fractures.
The affair made a martyr for the anti-slavery people out of Sumner. His remarks probably would have backfired, given time, but Brooks attack changed the whole focus. He had literally "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory." Brooks was censured and resigned, but promptly reelected. Many supporters sent him new canes.
Sadly, the conduct on both sides served only to polarize the slavery issue even more. John Brown’s son reported that news of the affair drove him crazy. The conduct of both men was inexcusable; but when their supporters jumped to defend them, the sides forgot the affair and defended the principle. The belief soon emerged that North and South had developed different civilizations with different standards of honor. In short, it appeared that it was time for a divorce.Ralph Waldo Emerson said "I do not see how a barbarous community and a civilized community can constitute one state. We must either get rid of slavery or get rid of freedom.
Election of 1856: Three parties fielded candidates:
·Republicans: John C. Fremont –their campaign slogan became "Free soil, free speech, and Fremont."
One Historian, Eric Foner, argues that the Republican position on slavery developed from the idea of free labor. He called it "an affirmation of the superiority of the social system of the North," based on a Capitalist economy. He said that this ideology "blended personal and sectional interest with morality perfectly." It thus became a powerful political force.
·Democrats: James Buchanan
·American Party: Millard Fillmore
Buchanan won, primarily because the Democrats were the only truly national party at the time; they had not yet split.
Dred Scott Case: Scott was a slave who had been carried by his master into territory where slavery was outlawed. Later, when he was returned to a slave state, he sued (with the help of some abolitionist friends) for his freedom, saying that he could not have been a slave where slavery did not legally exist; and once freed, he remained free. The case reached the Supreme Court, with Chief Justice Roger Taney writing the controlling opinion. (Taney was an old man himself at this point, and was also a slaveholder.)
Taney’s opinion said:
·Scott had no standing to sue, as he was not a citizen.
·Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery above the line, deprived citizens of the U.S. of property (slaves) in violation of the 5th Amendment.
Congress had repealed the Missouri Compromise three years earlier. But the decision had the effect of challenging even Popular Sovereignty. If Congress could not prohibit slavery in a territory; it only followed that neither could a Territorial Government. The decision deepened the split between the two sections of the country. Northerners called the decision a conspiracy; and said that if Scott had no standing to sue, then the decision of the Court on the slavery issue was not a binding precedent, it was merely obiter dictum. The South considered it binding, and were emboldened. They said that since Congress could not, presumably, prohibit slavery in the territories, it did have an obligation to protect property of slaveholders.
Panic of 1857: End of the Crimean War ended demand for American Grain; manufacturing outpaced demand, state banking system was still weak. This caused a depression in the U.S. economy.
Even this was drawn into the sectional controversy. The South blamed the depression on Tariffs designed to protect Northern manufactures. Also, the South recovered more quickly, because of a rebound in demand for cotton. With this, the reign of "King Cotton" was strengthened, and the idea that the Southern plantation system was stronger than the Northern free labor system.
Douglas vs. Lincoln: Stephen Douglas hoped to run for President in 1860; but had been severely damaged by his support for Popular Sovereignty. Before he could run, he had to be re-elected to the Senate from Illinois. The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln to oppose him. Lincoln was the decided underdog, so like all losing candidates, he challenged Douglas to a debate. Debates took place August to October, 1858.The two men were classic opposites. Douglas was a short stout man with a large head, massive shoulders. He had been nicknamed "the little giant" because of his features. He wore tailor made suits, often with a red vest, and like to walk into town strutting in front of a band playing campaign music. He traveled on a train that had a cannon mounted on a flatbed car, and often had the cannon fired when he came into town.
Lincoln was tall, lanky, underweight; walked with a decided gait. His eyes were deep-set, and made him look melancholy. He wore black suits, usually well worn and not well fitting. He also insisted on wearing a stovepipe hat, NOT in style at the time. He kept his speeches in the hat.The second debate became the most famous, at Freeport Illinois. Lincoln asked Douglas how he could reconcile popular sovereignty with the Dred Scott decision that said that citizens could bring slaves into any territory. Douglas’ response was his famous Freeport Doctrine: Regardless of what the Supreme Court said about slavery; it could not exist unless it was supported by the local authorities. This statement did not help him out.
Douglas returned fire by asking Lincoln if he supported racial equality. Lincoln’s response was that there was "a physical difference between the black and white races," and "it would forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality." But, he said, blacks had an "equal" right to freedom. Douglas won election to the Senate. He was elected by the Illinois legislature; the debates had been for candidates to the legislature who supported either man.
John Brown’s Raid: Slavery issue was not alive in Congress, but was still raging in the public mind. John Brown had grown crazier; had been bushwhacking slaveholders when he wasn’t fundraising. At this point, he had a long, white beard, and called slavery a "wicked curse."
October 16, 1859, Brown and twenty men seized the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Va. (Now West Va.) He planned to get ammunition and weapons and arm a slave revolt. A battle ensued the next day in which two of Browns remaining sons were killed.One son was badly wounded, and begged Brown to kill him to stop his suffering. Brown refused, and told him "if you must die, die like a man." The boy died a few minutes later. The arsenal was stormed and taken by a marine detachment commanded by Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown was convicted of treason and hanged December 2. As part of his last words, Brown said: "I fear that the sins of this guilty land can only be purged with blood. Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel and unjust enactments, I say, let it be done."
Brown’s hanging made him a martyr in the North. Emerson called him the "new saint who would make the gallows as glorious as the cross." A popular song began in the North: "John Brown’s body lies a moldering in the grave. The tune was adopted by Julia Ward Howe who wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
In the South, Brown’s raid made people increasingly defensive and distrustful of people from the North. It was largely assumed that anyone from the North was a Brown sympathizer.
Election of 1860: This time, the Democratic Party split, North and South over the slavery issue. Four parties each had a man in the running. No one candidate could command a national following; so it came down to Lincoln and Douglas in the North, and John Breckinridge and John Bell in the South.
Important: Opinion became more radical in the upper
North and South. According to Tindall and Shi: "Attitude followed
Both North and South created false impressions of each other. The South couldn’t separate any northerner from the radicals, and the North never understood the depth of feeling in the South, to the point that made them completely unwilling to compromise. Lincoln was the worst offender here; he made no attempt to mollify the South, or state his position publicly. He said his position was a matter of record.
Lincoln was elected 16th President. He had a clear majority in the electoral college, but only 38 % of the popular vote.
Lincoln was a tall man (6’4"), lanky, walked with a very decided gait. Recent examination of his portraits reveal that he suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome, and would probably have died before the end of his second term under any circumstances. He was a rather melancholy man often; it is commonly believed by historians that he suffered from bi-polar disorder (manic-depressive). He used humor liberally to illustrate a point, normally by telling a story about folks in his past, even when humor was not appropriate. For that reason, he was rather awkward in mixed company.
Lincoln had a reputation for honesty, which at times created problems even for him. On one occasion, while still single, he asked his law partner for the name of a young lady who could relieve an itch for him. When he visited the young lady, they were about to get down to business, when he asked her how much it cost. She wanted more than he had, but offered to settle for the difference, but he refused, put on his clothes, and left.
His biggest problem was his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. There is some speculation that he married her instead of his one true love because he had discussed marriage with her during a temporary spat with the other lady; and she insisted; so he married her out of a sense of keeping his word. The Lincolns had four sons; sadly only one lived to see adulthood. One died after Lincoln was assassinated; two died earlier; one ("Willie") in the White House. This apparently drove her crazy; after his death, she died in an insane asylum. She had a reputation for being ill-tempered and disagreeable. At first she tried to insist that she be addressed as "Madame President," but that didn’t fly. She often spent huge amounts of money on White House dinners, china, etc., and then became upset when she saw the bill; often insisting that she had been cheated. She was very particular about the women to whom she allowed Lincoln to speak; and under NO circumstances was he allowed to speak to another woman when she wasn’t present. She addressed Lincoln as "Mr. Lincoln," and he addressed her as "Mrs. Lincoln," or simply as "mother." On one occasion, she abused a government official so badly that the gentleman complained to Lincoln about it. Lincoln placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, and said, "do you think you can endure for fifteen minutes what I have put up with for fifteen years?" The man said no more
Lincoln’s election was assured November 6, 1860; on December 20, South Carolina called a convention which issued an Ordinance of Secession; which declared South Carolina’s ratification of the constitution repealed and the Union dissolved. By February, 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana also declared themselves out of the union. Texas was the seventh to secede. It had been last because Sam Houston refused to call a session of the legislature; so a convention was called to do it.
Seven states met in Montgomery, Ala., adopted a constitution for the Confederate States of America, and elected Jefferson Davis President. Buchanan was now a lame duck President. Andrew Jackson would probably have sent troops into the South, and ended the business once and for all, but Buchanan (and Lincoln also, for that matter) decided to wait things out. Lincoln thought it was just a bluff that would soon blow over. Buchanan tried to appeal to reason, but reason was out of reach by now.
Southern states seized federal property, arsenals and forts. December 26, 1860, a Federal Garrison commanded by Major Robert Anderson moved from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. He had hoped to avoid a confrontation, but this only provoked South Carolina, and the state demanded that all federal forces be withdrawn. Buchanan refused, sent a ship, Star of the West with reinforcements and provisions; but Southern batteries fired on the ship, and it was forced to withdraw.
Several attempts were made at compromise. A convention was held, presided over by John Tyler; proposed a constitutional amendment to protect slavery. It was passed by Congress with no votes to spare, but the states never ratified it. Lincoln and other Republicans were prepared to support the Amendment in order to save the Union, but were not willing to abandon their stand on slavery in the territories.
The Amendment would have been the 13th if it had passed; and would have been the first mention of slavery in the Constitution. The irony is that slavery is mentioned first in the true 13th Amendment, by which it is abolished.