« 上一頁繼續 »
regret his going out of office. Buchanan went out of place when the affairs of the Government were in the most hopeless condition of disorder and confusion. Lincoln came in when treason was rampant in every department of the Government; the army and navy were scattered far and wide; the national treasury was empty and the national credit at a very low ebb; an armed rebellion was threatening the existence of the Union and the permanency of the Government; and many people who were not friends of the secessionists were uncertain whether the National Government had the lawful right, if it had the power, to prevent the Southern States from going out of the Union and staying out of it, as they proposed to do. Even at this late day, when Lincoln was inaugurated, there were not a few loyal men who thought that it would be best, rather than resort to blows, to say to the Southern States, “Erring sisters, go in peace. Lincoln could not possibly take that view of the case. How would he try to preserve the Federal Union? Everybody was asking this grave question.
The first duty of the President was the formation of his Cabinet. These were the men selected for the purpose of assisting Lincoln in carrying on the Government in the trying times that were coming: Secretary of State, William H. Seward; Secretary of War, Simon Cameron; Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase; Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles; Postmaster-General, Montgomery Blair; Secretary of the Interior, Caleb B. Smith; AttorneyGeneral, Edward Bates.
It will be noticed that of these seven men, four
Seward, Chase, Bates, and Cameron-had been candidates for the Presidential nomination when Lincoln was, in 1860; but Mr. Cameron's candidacy was not very seriously pressed. Many of Lincoln's friends were troubled by his having selected for Cabinet councillors men who were ambitious of occupying the Presidential office, and who might prove mischievous by scheming for the next nomination, which would be made in 1864. Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase, especially, were men who each had a great political following, and who might naturally be active in schemes to secure the Presidential office by and by. But, although Lincoln's friends were thus disturbed, the President was sure he was right. It was necessary, he thought, to unite in the support of his administration all the factions and all the contending interests of the loyal States, as far as that was possible. With one exception, that of Mr. Welles, each man in the Cabinet represented a large political following and a different section of the country at large. Lincoln said to his personal advisers: “The times are too grave and perilous for ambitious schemes and personal rivalries.” He could not believe it possible that statesmen of the ability and renown of those whom he had called around him could cherish plans for their personal aggrandizement while the life of the Republic was in danger. “I need them all,” he said; “they enjoy the confidence of their several States and sections, and they will strengthen the administration.” To others associated with him in the management of affairs, he said: “Let us forget ourselves and join hands, like brothers, to save
the Republic. If we succeed, there will be glory enough for all."
It is not generally the custom of our people to call any man the leader of the Cabinet, the premier, but Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, was a statesman of commanding ability and wisdom; and his high qualities as a scholar, diplomatist, writer, and speaker, unquestionably adorned his office and shed lustre on the Lincoln administration. During his term, for the first time in our history, the Secretary of State was often spoken of as “the premier,” although that title was never officially recognized. Mr. Seward had been Governor of the great State of New York, and Senator of the United States. A skilful politician and a most persuasive orator, he had done much to consolidate and harmonize the Republican party. His selection to what is popularly regarded as the first place in the Cabinet greatly pleased the people.
Of the other members of the Cabinet, Mr. Chase was probably the best known and respected, after Mr. Seward. He, too, had been Governor of his State (Ohio) as well as Senator of the United States. He was a more advanced, or radical, Republican than any of his colleagues in the Cabinet, having been regarded as an Abolitionist. He framed the platform of the Liberty, or Free-Soil, party that was adopted in Buffalo in 1848. He was a lawyer of profound learning, and his mind was judicial and well-balanced. He had had much to do with the
. upbuilding of the Republican party, and, like Mr. Seward, had been the beloved candidate of many
ardent party men when Lincoln was made the final choice of the organization. Mr. Cameron, as Secretary of War, was also an active and useful politician and leader of men. He was accused of giving out profitable contracts and lucrative offices to his friends, as he had the power to do; and, after a few months of service, he retired from the War Department, giving place to Edwin M. Stanton, who had been Buchanan's Attorney-General toward the stormy close of that administration. The Blair family, always Democratic, had exercised great influence in national affairs, Francis P. Blair, senior, having been a close friend of President Andrew Jackson, and, as editor of the Washington Globe, a leader of public opinion. The sons, Montgomery and Francis P. Blair, junior, were active and zealous politicians. Montgomery, as Postmaster-General, represented Maryland, one of the border States. New England was represented in Gideon Welles, of Connecticut, as Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Caleb B. Smith, Secretary of the Interior, was of Illinois, and had been in Congress when Lincoln represented the Sangamon district in that body. Edward Bates, whom many supported for the Presidential nomination in 1860, was a gentleman of refinement, great learning, and dignity. He was a lawyer, and, as Attorney-General, had served his country with eminent skill. He was formerly a Whig, and, being of Missouri, was a border State representative. Thus, the States represented in the Cabinet by these men, all of them amply qualified for the proper discharge of their duties, were New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, and Missouri. Mr. Stanton, who subsequently succeeded Mr. Cameron in the War Department, was a resident of Ohio. It will be seen that these seven men represented a great variety of political sentiments and opinions. They did not always agree. Lincoln sometimes facetiously referred to the Cabinet as the Happy Family.
By those who knew Seward and did not know Lincoln, it was supposed that the former would be virtually the President, and that beyond the signing of important papers Lincoln would have very little to do with shaping the policy of the administration. Mr. Seward undertook to revise and rewrite the inaugural address above described. Subsequently, he mapped out a plan of administrative operations for the President, volunteering to take the general direction of affairs, if this were required of him. It was not required of him, and they who had expected that Mr. Seward or anybody else would act as President in place of Lincoln were soon undeceived. By his vigor, firmness, and unshrinking determination, Lincoln speedily showed the world that he, and not another, was the President of the United States.