Sunday, March 06, 2011

150 Years Ago: Lincoln's Cabinet

On the evening of March 6, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet met for the first time.  This was more of a meet-and-greet than an official cabinet meeting.

The cabinet was a diverse group, representing different parts of the North and the various factions that made up the still-new Republican Party.
  • Secretary of State -- William Seward
  • Secretary of the Treasury -- Salmon Chase
  • Attorney General -- Edward Bates
  • Postmaster General -- Montgomery Blair
  • Secretary of the Navy -- Gideon Welles
  • Secretary of the Interior -- Caleb Smith
  • Secretary of War -- Simon Cameron

William Seward had initially spurned the job of Secretary of State, mostly because he did not see how he could possibly work with Salmon P. Chase, the new Secretary of the Treasury.

Smith and Cameron probably owed their positions to deals made in Chicago by Lincoln's handlers to get him the Republican nomination.  Lincoln was most concerned about Cameron; shady deals seemed to follow him wherever he went.

Five of the seven had challenged Lincoln for the party's nomination. Seward was the odds-on favorite to win the nomination when the convention started.

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