Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
these fancied wants, and who could have supplied them very well had they existed.  Therefore one of the first things which Mr. Lincoln had to do was, without antagonizing Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase, to indicate to them that they were to be not only in name but also in rigid fact his secretaries, and that he was in fact as well as by title President.  This delicate business was done so soon as opportunity offered, not in any disguised way but with plain simplicity.  Mr. Chase never took the disposition quite pleasantly.  He managed his department with splendid ability, but in the personal relation of a cabinet adviser upon the various matters of governmental policy he was always somewhat uncomfortable to get along with, inclined to fault-finding, ever ready with discordant suggestions, and in time also disturbed by ambition.

Mr. Seward behaved far better.  After the question of supremacy had been settled, though in a way quite contrary to his anticipation, he frankly accepted the subordinate position, and discharged his duties with hearty good-will.  Indeed, this settlement had already come, before the time which this narrative has reached; but the people did not know it; it was a private matter betwixt the two men who had been parties to it.  Only Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward knew that the secretary had suggested his willingness to run the government for the President, and that the President had replied that he intended to run it himself.  It came about in this way:  on April 1 Mr. Seward presented, in writing, “Some thoughts for the President’s consideration.”  He opened with the statement, not conciliatory, that “We are at the end of a month’s administration, and yet without a policy, either domestic or foreign.”  He then proceeded to offer suggestions for each.  For the “policy at home” he proposed, as the “ruling idea:”  “Change the question before the public from one upon slavery, or about slavery, for a question upon Union or Disunion.”  It was odd and not complimentary that he should seem to forget or ignore that precisely this thing had already been attempted by Mr. Lincoln in his inaugural address.  Also within a few days, as we all know now, events were to show that the attempt had been successful.  Further comment upon the domestic policy of Mr. Seward is, therefore, needless.  But his scheme “For Foreign Nations” is more startling:—­

“I would demand explanations from Spain and France categorically at once.

“I would seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia, and send agents into Canada, Mexico, and Central America, to rouse a vigorous spirit of independence on this continent against European intervention.

“And, if satisfactory explanations are not received from Spain and France,

“Would convene Congress and declare war against them.

“But whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it.

“For this purpose it must be somebody’s business to pursue and direct it incessantly.

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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