Former President Millard Fillmore: Abraham Lincoln's Election Caused the War

March 12, 1862

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Former President Millard Fillmore: Abraham Lincoln's Election Caused the War
Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages | SMC 1061

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      Background

      It was Lincoln’s election, Fillmore says, that caused the war. Even New York’s Republican uber-boss, Thurlow Weed, knew it. “W [Weed]… was the first among his friends to see and admit the danger to the country from Lincoln's election and had... courage and honesty enough to make an effort to settle matters by some compromise after Lincoln's election and before his inauguration.” But Weed was Fillmore’s longtime nemesis, and that is all the good he can bring himself to say of him. He has heard, and believes, that the reason Weed went to Europe was not so much to try and prevent foreign recognition of the Confederacy, as to avoid Charles Van Wyck’s House Committee investigating war-time profiteering.
       
      Fillmore also brings up the “suppressed” section of his last State of the Union Address, in which he predicted eventual race war if the slaves were not re-colonized to Africa or the West Indies. Deemed too controversial in 1852, Fillmore had recently considered publishing it – only to be told again (by Edward Everett) to put it away.

      Although Fillmore supported, fitfully, the Union cause, he could never rid himself of the notion that the war was, somehow, unnecessary.


      Autograph Letter Signed, 4 pages, octavo, Buffalo, March 12, 1862. To Ivory Chamberlain in New York.
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