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Corwin Amendment
01-31-2020, 12:54 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2020 11:18 AM by David Lockmiller.)
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RE: Corwin Amendment
(01-30-2020 07:00 PM)Steve Wrote:  Confidential
Hon. Lyman Trumbull Springfield, Ills.
My dear Sir. Dec. 21, 1860
Thurlow Weed was with me nearly all day yesterday, & left at night with three short resolutions which I drew up, and which, or the substance of which, I think would do much good, if introduced, and unanamously supported by our friends. They do not touch the territorial question. Mr. Weed goes to Washington with them; and says he will, first of all, confer with you and Mr. Hamlin. I think it would be best for Mr. Seward to introduce them, & Mr. Weed will let him know that I think so. Show this to Mr. Hamlin; but beyond him, do not let my name be known in the matter.
Yours as ever

Doris Kearns Goodwin addressed President-elect Lincoln’s thoughts and actions throughout the “Great Secession Winter” in her book “Team of Rivals” at pages 296-304, but without mentioning the proposed Corwin amendment to the Constitution. The following are two selections from this entire text that is well worth reading in its entirety for an adequate understanding of an important chapter in American history.

Almost unnoticed, Lincoln managed through a series of complex and subtle maneuvers to keep the Republican Party intact through the “Great Secession Winter.” Whatever conciliatory measures he might consider, Lincoln was adamant, he told Trumbull, that there must be “no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and, ere long, must be done again. . . . Stand firm. The tug has to come, & better now, than any time hereafter.” If the door were opened to slavery in any of the new territories, Lincoln feared that the South would eventually try to annex Cuba or invade Mexico, thereby restarting the long struggle.

Though Lincoln remained inflexible on the territorial question, he was willing, he told Seward, to compromise on “fugitive slaves, District of Columbia, slave trade among the states, and whatever springs of necessity from the fact that the institution is amongst us.” [This bolded phrase should sound familiar. Cooper Union Address: Lincoln examined the beliefs and actions of the founders, concluding that they had marked slavery “as an evil not be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity.” (Team of Rivals, page 231.)] Knowing that two parallel committees in the House and Senate were set to address the sectional crisis, Lincoln relayed a confidential message to Seward that he had drafted three short resolutions. He instructed Seward to introduce these proposals in the Senate Committee of Thirteen without indicating they issued from Springfield. The first resolved that “the Constitution should never be altered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere with slavery in the states.” The second would amend the Fugitive Slave Law “by granting a jury trial to the fugitive.” The third recommended that all state personal liberty laws in opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law be repealed.

Seward agreed to introduce Lincoln’s resolutions without revealing their source, though he was of the opinion that they would do nothing to stop the secession movement. The best option, he told Lincoln, was to focus on keeping the border states in the Union, though he feared “nothing could certainly restrain them” short of adopting the series of proposals authored by Kentucky’s John Crittenden. The Crittenden Compromise, among other provisions, offered to extend the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific, thereby initiating the very extension of slavery into the territories Lincoln had pledged to prevent.

Lincoln’s clear resolve never to accept any measure extending slavery prevented the wavering Seward and other like-minded Republicans from backing the Crittenden Compromise. As one Southern state after another withdrew from the Union, Seward came to believe that only conciliation could save the Union. With Lincoln’s iron hand guiding the way in this matter, however, Seward conceded that there was not “the slightest” chance that the Republican side would adopt the Compromise. (“Team of Rivals” at pages 296-297.)

The president-elect was engaged in a more intricate game of political engineering than Seward realized. While undoubtedly pleased that Seward’s conciliatory tone had produced a calming effect on the border states, Lincoln knew that if he personally called for compromise, he would lose the support of an important wing of the Republican Party. Instead, he maintained firmness through silence while Seward absorbed the backlash for what might prove an advantageous posture of conciliation. . . .

In the end, though Lincoln’s role was not fully recognized at the time, he was the one who kept his fractious party together when an open rupture might easily have destroyed his administration before it could even begin. By privately endorsing Seward’s spirit of compromise while projecting an unyielding public image, President-elect Lincoln retained an astonishing degree of control over an increasingly chaotic and potentially devastating situation. (“Team of Rivals” at page 304.)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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Corwin Amendment - Steve - 01-27-2020, 07:51 PM
RE: Corwin Amendment - RJNorton - 01-28-2020, 10:04 AM
RE: Corwin Amendment - Rob Wick - 01-29-2020, 05:23 PM
RE: Corwin Amendment - Steve - 01-30-2020, 07:00 PM
RE: Corwin Amendment - David Lockmiller - 01-31-2020 12:54 PM
RE: Corwin Amendment - Rob Wick - 01-30-2020, 07:13 PM

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