January 2, 1861: Lincoln starts forming his cabinet

Abraham Lincoln, 1858

Simon Cameron

William H. Seward

From the New York Tribune:

Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 1861

Mr. Lincoln’s Cabinet.

Republican circles were much agitated to-day, by the announcement that Mr. Seward had been appointed Secretary of State and Mr. Cameron Secretary of the Treasury by Mr. Lincoln. The former gentleman and his friends had habitually disclaimed any purpose or desire to take the position. The supporters of the latter pressed Mr. Lincoln very earnestly on his behalf. He says a position was tendered to him a few days ago, when visiting Springfield, and Mr. Morehead of Pittsburgh states unreservedly that he has seen Mr. Lincoln’s letter offering him the Treasury. All the leading and original friends of Mr. Lincoln, in the Senate and House, allege that they have not been consulted in any manner concerning the composition of the Cabinet, but expected, before its complexion was finally determined, to have been asked their views, according to the previously recognized usage. It now seems as if the new Administration would be formed at Springfield.

Lincoln had been thought by many, both in and out of the Republican party leadership, to be an inexperienced and therefore pliable figurehead for the party. He was showing an ability to cut his own deals and make his own decisions even before taking office.

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