December 13, 1860: Lincoln writes to Elihu Washburne

Elihu Washburne
Elihu Washburne

Daily Observations from the Civil War just blogged a letter from Lincoln to William Kellogg instructing him to hold firm against extension of slavery. Lincoln was marking a consistent position on just how far compromise could go, as we see here in a letter from Lincoln to Illinois Representative Elihu Washburne:

Springfield Ills. Dec. 13 1860
Hon. E. B. Washburne

My Dear Sir. Your long letter received. Prevent, as far as possible, any of our friends from demoralizing themselves, and our cause, by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort, on “slaver extention.” there is no possible compromise upon it, but which puts us under again, and leaves all our work to do over again. Whether it be a Mo. Line, or Eli Thayer’s Pop. Sov. it is all the same. Let either be done, & immediately filibustering and extending slavery recommences. On that point hold firm, as with a chain of steel.
Yours as ever
A. Lincoln

Lincoln, and many Republicans, were concerned that any promise to extend slavery into southern territories would lead to “filibustering” — adventurers like William Walker attempting to acquire new lands for slavery. Many Southerners had advocated an expansion of American slave states into Mexico and the Caribbean.

Linden, G.M. Voices from the Gathering Storm: The coming of the American civil war. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 2001. p. 184

By the way, Washburne’s brother Israel Washburn was governor of Maine. No, that’s not a typo; they spelled their last name differently.

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3 Responses to December 13, 1860: Lincoln writes to Elihu Washburne

  1. Chris Moore says:

    Also brother (one of seven) of Cadwallader C. Washburn. Congressman (and later governor) from Wisconsin, Colonel of 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry eventually Major General in the Western Theatre of the war.

    (Wikipedia) “At one point Ulysses S. Grant called Washburn “one of the best administrative officers we have.”[1] He commanded the cavalry of the XIII Corps in the opening stages of Ulysses S. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign.[2] Once siege operations had begun against the city of Vicksburg and Grant called for all available forces, Washburn led a detachment of the XVI Corps during the siege of Vicksburg. He commanded the 1st Division in the XIII Corps in Nathanial P. Banks’ operations along the Texas Coast.”

    To paraphrase the song, “they just don’t name ’em like that anymore.”

  2. Chris Moore says:

    Forgot to mention; Cadwallader also founded several companies that would eventually be known as General Mills.

  3. Pingback: December 15, 1860: The committee of Thirty-Three | Seven Score and Ten

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