-- Dilemmas of Compromise --

Advice: Salmon Chase

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Salmon Chase

Salmon P. Chase, Ohio senator and Republican leader, would soon be tapped by Lincoln as his secretary of the treasury. He represented the more radical, anti-slavery wing of the party. Chase urged Lincoln and other Republicans to adhere fixedly to their principles and reject any compromise. He wanted the Constitution upheld, the Union maintained, and the laws obeyed. Only after assuming power would the Republicans offer proposals, and these adjustments would not involve any compromise of basic party ideology. "Inauguration first--adjustment afterwards," he insisted.

To Chase, Lincoln's victory was a triumph for the Republican Party's principles, particularly that of restricting slavery within its present state limits. Not only were these principles morally correct, but their triumph in the presidential election wa s secured by "a fair and unquestionable majority." To abandon the party's platform would violate the ideal of majority rule and would be denounced by the people as a subversion of the electoral process. To make concessions, furthermore, would threaten, and perhaps even destroy the party as an institut ion. The party would also appear weak and vacillating to the South. This could even encourage further militancy and disunionist activity in that section.

Bibliography: Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln, 2: 444-45; Rhodes, History, 3: 290; Potter, Impending Crisis, p. 550; Baringer, House Dividing, pp. 236-41; Blue, Chase, pp. 133-35.

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