Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

History

Date of Defense

5-12-2009

Graduate Advisor

Louis S. Gerteis, PhD.

Committee

Acsay, Peter

Ray, Gerda

Fausz, J. Frederick

Abstract

After Lincoln's election, Bates's diary entries began to acknowledge rumors that secessionist were preparing to lead the South out of the Union. Whereas Bates's rejection of offers to join the Taylor and Fillmore Cabinets had occurred during periods of relative tranquility on the national scene, this time Bates found himself a political leader during a time of crisis unlike any previously facing a United States President. His acknowledgement of the disturbing precedent of secession in mind, Bates answered a telegram from Lincoln in early December. Lincoln had originally intended to come to St. Louis, where he would call on Bates to discuss the present situation in the South. However, believing that protocol required that a citizen call on a chief magistrate, rather than vise versa, Bates decided he would go to Springfield instead. While visiting with the president-elect, Lincoln formally offered Bates a position in the Cabinet, and Bates now felt compelled to accept the invitation. In a letter to Missouri Whig James S. Rollins, who had just won a term to the U.S. House of Representatives, Bates explained that he accepted Lincoln's offer not out of any political ambition, but rather as one accepts a military draft. "And I go into that service willingly," Bates added, "putting to hazard all that I have and all that I am, in a strenuous effort to preserve the Union." Whereas he had previously felt the needs of his family as the dominant factors guiding any career decision, now the needs of his nation forced Bates to accept.

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