Wednesday, September 28, 2016
On December 20, 1860 the Electoral College met formally to elect Abraham Lincoln President of the United States. On that very same day a special convention was convened in South Carolina to consider and then approve the following Ordinance of Secession: ‘That the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America is hereby dissolved.’ This bold move – one state out, with maybe more to follow [but no guarantee!], and 33 states in – passed by a vote of 169 to 0.
Monday, September 26, 2016
The following editorial appeared in The Atlanta Confederacy just before the election of 1860, just before what looked like the formation of a thing called the Confederate States of America; 'let the consequences be what they may - whether the Potomac is crimsoned in human gore, and Pennsylvania Avenue is paved ten fathoms deep with mangled bodies, or whether the last vestige of liberty is swept from the face of the American continent, the South will never submit to such humiliation and degradation as the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.'
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
‘The country during the run-up to the Civil War seemed to have completely lost all capacity to listen. Perhaps the most striking example occurred in 1856 when Senator Charles Sumner delivered a rousing anti-slavery speech in the US Senate that played well among his abolitionist supporters in his home state of Massachusetts. Unfortunately that speech infuriated the South – and induced a relative of the Southerner whose honor Sumner had besmirched to enter an almost empty senate chamber and attack Sumner as he sat at his desk, beating him with his walking stick with sufficient vehemence that Sumner took years of recuperating before he could return to his senatorial duties. And while Sumner was recuperating, his assailant received any number of replacement walking sticks from well-wishing fellow Southerners – to be used again in case any other Yankee hypocrite stepped out of line!’
- Arnold Kunst
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
The story takes a most curious turn with Lincoln’s accession to the Presidency. His first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron from the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, had to be replaced for certain contract improprieties, and in January, 1862 Lincoln appointed Edwin Stanton Secretary of War. Everyone, including Stanton, was astonished at his appointment. After all, in the years since that 1855 trial Stanton had repeatedly vilified this “imbecilic” President, this “original gorilla” [Darwin’s 'Origin of Species' had just been published in 1859].
Lincoln knew all this, of course, but had put that aside. He never carried a grudge, he said later, because it didn't pay. Although irascible Stanton was thoroughly honest – unlike Cameron he couldn’t be bought. Also, Stanton was a Union man through and through. Finally, he was a prodigious worker and a wizard as an administrator - and those skills impelled Lincoln to promote him. With time it was clear the appointment was a stroke of genius.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Legend - or perhaps ugly political rumor - has it that after the trial Stanton referred to Lincoln as a giraffe, monkey, or some other equally unflattering pejorative. Whether or not that was true, there is no doubt that Stanton (and the other counsel) not only treated Lincoln with disdain, they clearly did not regard him as a great trial lawyer as of September 1855.
But a funny thing happened to Lincoln the lawyer on the way home from the Cincinnati courthouse. Ralph Emerson—at the time a young partner of Manny—had also been in attendance. Emerson had known Lincoln before the trial, and he asserted that it was he who insisted that Lincoln be hired for the case. Emerson contended that the trial had an “immediate effect” upon Lincoln. He then quoted Lincoln as follows: ‘I am going home to study law! I am going home to study law!’ he exclaimed repeatedly, as he and Emerson walked from the court room down to the river when the hearing had ended. Emerson said that that was what he had been doing. ‘No,’ Lincoln replied, ‘not as these college bred men study it. I have learned my lesson. These college bred fellows have reached Ohio, they will soon be in Illinois, and when they come, Emerson, I will be ready for them.’
From that time on, insists Emerson, who often heard Lincoln thereafter, his style and manner of speech and argument improved greatly and steadily — the result, as the old manufacturer stoutly contended throughout his long life,
of Lincoln’s connection with the celebrated patent case of McCormick vs Manny et al.
Friday, September 16, 2016
From the moment Lincoln arrived he was not only ignored, he was actively shunned by the other members of the Manny trial team. Without question Stanton was rude, snobbish, and supercilious toward the unknown Lincoln. But so was everyone else connected with the case. Harding, for example, never even opened the lengthy manuscript which Lincoln had prepared as his contribution. When one of the presiding jurists entertained the counsel on both sides, Lincoln was not even invited. Although all the lawyers were staying at the same hotel, none asked Lincoln to share their table, to visit them in their rooms, or to join them on the daily walks to and from the court. Lincoln, nevertheless, stayed for the duration of the trial. He was entranced, mesmerized, and seated at the back of the courtroom. He was not asked to say a word, and he did not do so. He offered to return his retainer, but that was declined.