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CHAPTER 6 Civil War, a Partisan Convention, the Decisive Later 1860s On January 10, 1861, the Illinois General Assembly met in joint session to elect a U.S. senator. Lyman Trumbull was elected on the first ballot to serve a second term. The vote was 54 to 36, an exact reversal of the vote of Douglas over Lincoln two years before. The process was a far cry from the ten-ballot contest in which Trumbull eventually prevailed in February 1855. Trumbull, reelected chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would play a leading role in writing the U.S. constitutional amendments that would remake Illinois constitutional law.1 Richard Yates was inaugurated as governor on January 14, 1861. Yates was a close colleague and favorite of Lincoln. He had served three terms in the lower house of the state legislature before winning election as the Whig candidate to the U.S. House of Representatives in the old seventh district that had successfully elected Whigs Hardin, Baker, and Lincoln to Congress. Ironically, in 1854 Yates, running as a Republican for the first time, and strongly opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, narrowly lost his bid for a third term in what had become a proslavery district. Lincoln, still a Whig, had campaigned for Yates in 1854 as he conducted his own successful campaign for election to the state house of representatives.2 Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington surreptitiously in the early morning of February 23. He had been spirited off his special train in Harrisburg, 164 Chapter 6 Pennsylvania, by Pinkerton security officials and aides who feared an assassination attempt that was rumored to occur when the train arrived at its destination in Baltimore. Lincoln met that afternoon in his quarters at Willard’s Hotel with the Illinois congressional delegation, including Stephen Douglas, whom Lincoln had particularly asked to see. This was their first encounter since their final debate in October. The meeting was described in the press as “peculiarly” or “particularly” pleasant; if there was a substantive discussion, it was not revealed.3 StephenDouglashadfinishedthe1860campaigninMobile,Alabama,afteran electioneering swing in the South. He was strained and fatigued. His voice was shattered. Seeking some rest, Douglas and his wife traveled from Mobile to New Orleans,thenlefttocruiseslowlyuptheMississippiRiveronasteamer,stopping on the way to inspect the Mississippi plantation now owned by his children.4 From his arrival in Washington on December 1, Douglas was caught up in efforts at a compromise to resolve the looming constitutional crisis, efforts that would continue until the morning of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861. The Union was coming apart. On December 20 a convention in South Carolina declared that the state had seceded and was no longer part of the United States. Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana followed before the end of January 1861, and secession was underway in Texas. In February, emissaries of sixDeepSouthstatesmetinMontgomery,Alabama,andpreparedaconstitution for the new Confederate States of America.5 Douglas,withlongtimeWhigsenatorJohnJ.CrittendenofKentucky,worked toachieveacompromisethatwouldmaintaintheUnion.They,aswellascommittees in the House and Senate, proposed compromises that varied but generally involved constitutional amendments that would define slave and free territories in the West and prohibit federal or state legislative actions to eliminate slavery in states where it existed.6 Unsuccessful efforts at compromise continued through the last days of February , culminating in an all-night Senate session that began before a packed gallery of spectators on the evening before the presidential inauguration. In the early hours of March 4, galleries emptied, senators napped in their seats, and voting on compromise proposals began at five o’clock in the morning. All were quickly defeated. The Senate finally recessed at seven o’clock after a twelve-hour session.7 Civil War, a Partisan Convention, the Decisive Later 1860s 165 Douglas met with Lincoln several times after inauguration day. He encouraged Lincoln to be firm in pursuing the war effort and assured the president that he stood steadfastly with the Union. Douglas received no support from Lincoln for any of the various compromise proposals, which guaranteed the continued existenceofslavery,includedthepossibilityofgeographicalexpansionofslavery, and prohibited legislative power from rolling it back.8 Restless Democrats in Illinois Democrats in Illinois were not happy. They distrusted Lincoln; they believed the oft-made charges by Douglas and others that Lincoln was an abolitionist who favored equality between the races. When war broke out in April 1861, sentiments for joining the Confederacy existed in parts of southern Illinois as well as Indiana and Ohio.9 The Illinois legislature convened a special session in April...


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