The Presidents' War: Six American Presidents and the Civil War That Divided Them
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* John Tyler engaged in shuttle diplomacy between President Buchanan and the new Confederate Government. He chaired the Peace Convention of 1861, the last great hope for a political resolution to the crisis. When it failed, Tyler joined the Virginia Secession Convention, voted to leave the Union, and won election to the Confederate Congress.
* Van Buren, who had schemed to deny Lincoln the presidency, supported him in his efforts after Fort Sumter, and thwarted Franklin Pierce's attempt at a meeting of the ex-Presidents to undermine Lincoln.
* Millard Fillmore hosted Lincoln and Mary Todd on their way to Washington, initially supported the war effort, offered critical advice to keep Britain at bay, but turned on Lincoln over emancipation.
* Franklin Pierce, talked about as a Democratic candidate in 1860 and ’64, was openly hostile to Lincoln and supportive of the South, an outspoken critic of Lincoln especially on civil liberties. After Vicksburg, when Jefferson Davis’s home was raided, a secret correspondence between Pierce and the Confederate President was revealed.
* James Buchanan, who had left office as seven states had broken away from the Union, engaged in a frantic attempt to vindicate his administration, in part by tying himself to Lincoln and supporting the war, arguing that his successor had simply followed his policies.
How Abraham Lincoln battled against his predecessors to preserve the Union and later to put an end to slavery is a thrilling tale of war waged at the top level of power.
during his presidency would find its way almost to his doorstep. “Something of a panic pervades the city,” Welles noted from Washington on June 15. “Singular rumors reach us of Rebel advances into Maryland. It is said they have reached Hagerstown, and some of them have penetrated as far as Chambersburg in Pennsylvania.” There were no straight answers to be found from the War Department. Lincoln made an emergency call for one hundred thousand volunteers to be raised in Maryland, Pennsylvania,
was soft in the Northeast, was now invited to speak throughout the region. From there Lincoln went to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, eleven different cities in twelve days. After another event in Brooklyn before returning west, the New York Tribune put it simply: “Mr. Lincoln has done a good work and made many warm friends.” Chapter 13 Five against Lincoln The defeat of Lincoln was the great matter at issue, and that all others were subordinate. —John Tyler Pierce ~ Fillmore
returning to Georgia to lead his state out of the Union; Cass quit over Buchanan’s lack of firmness, replaced by Attorney General Jeremiah Black. Of the cabinet who remained, secretary of war Floyd engaged in the most serious treason at the highest level of government in American history. Floyd ordered the federal commander of Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor to return muskets he had acquired in Charleston, in response to complaints from South Carolina. While Floyd was disarming soldiers in
slavery, and in either event no slave would be freed without compensation to the owner. Fourth, interstate transportation of slaves would be guaranteed. Fifth, Congress would pay for fugitive slaves rescued by force from a tax on the county responsible. Finally, Congress would be prevented from tampering with slavery, putting this issue on a constitutional shelf where no future policymakers could reach. “The sacrifice to be made for its preservation is comparatively worthless,” Crittenden
could terrorize northern cities and their commerce. It could steam up the Potomac and force the government to give up the capital. News of the Merrimac arrived the following morning, a Sunday “of swiftly succeeding emotions at the Executive Mansion.” Nicolay and Hay remembered Lincoln, “as usual in trying moments, composed but eagerly inquisitive, critically scanned the despatches . . . joining scrap to scrap of information, applying his searching analysis and clear logic to read the danger and