Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02.

If any further quotation be necessary to show the audacity with which at least three Secretaries and one Assistant Secretary of Mr. Buchanan’s Cabinet engaged in flagrant conspiracy in the early stages of rebellion, it may be found in an interview of Senator Clingman with the Secretary of the Interior, which the former has recorded in his “Speeches and Writings” as an interesting reminiscence.  It may be doubted whether Secretary Thompson correctly reported the President as wishing him success in his North Carolina mission, but the Secretary is, of course, a competent witness to his own declarations and acts.

  [Sidenote] T.L.  Clingman, “Speeches and Writings,” pp. 526, 527.

About the middle of December [1860] I had occasion to see the Secretary of the Interior on some official business.  On my entering the room, Mr. Thompson said to me, “Clingman, I am glad you have called, for I intended presently to go up to the Senate to see you.  I have been appointed a commissioner by the State of Mississippi to go down to North Carolina to get your State to secede, and I wished to talk with you about your Legislature before I start down in the morning to Raleigh, and to learn what you think of my chance of success.”  I said to him, “I did not know that you had resigned.”  He answered; “Oh, no, I have not resigned.”  “Then,” I replied, “I suppose you resign in the morning.”  “No,” he answered, “I do not intend to resign, for Mr. Buchanan wished us all to hold on, and go out with him on the 4th of March.”  “But,” said I, “does Mr. Buchanan know for what purpose you are going to North Carolina?” “Certainly,” he said, “he knows my object.”  Being surprised by this statement, I told Mr. Thompson that Mr. Buchanan was probably so much perplexed by his situation that he had not fully considered the matter, and that as he was already involved in difficulty, we ought not to add to his burdens; and then suggested to Mr. Thompson that he had better see Mr. Buchanan again, and by way of inducing him to think the matter over, mention what I had been saying to him.  Mr. Thompson said, “Well, I can do so, but I think he fully understands it.”  In the evening I met Mr. Thompson at a small social party, and as soon as I approached him, he said, “I knew I could not be mistaken.  I told Mr. Buchanan all you said, and he told me that he wished me to go, and hoped I might succeed.”  I could not help exclaiming, “Was there ever before any potentate who sent out his own Cabinet ministers to excite an insurrection against his Government!” The fact that Mr. Thompson did go on the errand, and had a public reception before the Legislature, and returned to his position in the Cabinet is known, but this incident serves to recall it.

To this sketch of the Cabinet cabal it is necessary to add the testimony of his participation, by one who, from first to last, was a principal and controlling actor.  Jefferson Davis records that: 

  [Sidenote] Jefferson Davis, “Rise and Fall of the Confederate
  Government,” Vol.  I., pp. 57, 58, 59.

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Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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