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.

The other Union members of the Cabinet received the rumor of Mr. Cass’s resignation with gloomy apprehensions.  Postmaster-General Holt, with whom by reason of their kindred opinions he had been on intimate terms, hastened to him to learn whether it were indeed true and whether his determination were irrevocable.  Cass confirmed the report, saying that representing the Northern and loyal constituency which he did, he could no longer without dishonor to himself and to them remain in such treasonable surroundings.  Holt endeavored to persuade him that under the circumstances it was all the more necessary that the loyal members of the Cabinet should remain at their posts, in order to prevent the country’s passing into the hands of the secessionists by mere default.  But Cass replied, No; that the public feeling and sentiment of his section would not tolerate such a policy on his part.  “For you,” he said, “coming from a border State, where a modified, perhaps a divided, public sentiment exists, that is not only a possible course, but it is a true one; it is your duty to remain, to sustain the Executive and counteract the plots of the traitors.  But my duty is otherwise; I must adhere to my resignation.”

In this honorable close of a long public career, General Cass gave evidence of the spirit which was to actuate many patriotic Democrats when the final ordeal came.  It was to be regretted that he had not taken issue with his chief when his paradoxical message was read to the Cabinet, but much is to be allowed to the inertness of a man in his seventy-ninth year.  Life-long placeman and unflinching partisan that he was, there was still so much of patriotic conscience in him that he could not stand by and see premeditated dishonor done to the flag he had followed in his youth and as Jackson’s Secretary of War upheld in his maturer years.  If Mr. Buchanan had been capable of amendment, he might have learned a salutary lesson from the manner in which this veteran politician ended his half century of public service.

[1] Cobb to Buchanan, “Washington Constitution,” Dec. 12, 1860.  The
President’s reply says:  “I have received your communication of
Saturday evening, resigning,” etc.

[2] Jefferson Davis in his “Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,” Vol.  I., page 215, also lays claim to this artful suggestion: 

“The President’s objection to this was, that it was his bounden duty to preserve and protect the property of the United States.  To this I replied, with all the earnestness the occasion demanded, that I would pledge my life that, if an inventory were taken of all the stores and munitions in the fort, and an ordnance sergeant with a few men left in charge of them, they would not be disturbed.”



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