-- Dilemmas of Compromise --

Monday December 3, 1860

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Congress Assembles

The second session of the Thirty-sixth Congress assembled in Washington, D.C. Democrats controlled the Senate, but the House of Representatives was divided. Republicans outnumbered Democrats, but did not have a majority. The swing votes came from Whig and other third party members. South Carolina's senators had resigned after Lincoln's election and did not take their seats. Over the course of the session, other senators and representatives from the deep South would resign as their states left the Union.

Early in the session, both houses of Congress established committees to deal with the growing crisis. On December 4, the House established its Committee of Thirty-three, with one member from each state. Two weeks later, on December 18, the Senate est ablished a similar committee, the Committee of Thirteen. Among its members was John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, whose Crittenden Compromise would be the one most seriously debated by Congress.

Bibliography: Rhodes, History, 3: 146-54; Potter, Lincoln and His Party, pp. 75-111; Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln, 2: 390-94, 405-13.

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