• MAIN IDEA: Why do historians call Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet his “team of rivals”?
(Lincoln gave powerful positions in his Cabinet to Senator William Seward of New York, Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, and Judge Edward Bates of Mississippi. He had won out over all three of them to become president. The men disliked Lincoln and each other.)
• MAKE INFERENCES: What were the advantages of having Cabinet members who disagreed with Lincoln?
(Possible answers include: Lincoln could hear perspectives different from his own before making major decisions. He did not have to worry that people were agreeing with him just to make him happy.)
• SUMMARIZE: What were the arguments for and against resupplying Fort Sumter?
(For: The troops at Fort Sumter were running dangerously low on food. If the fort was surrendered, the South could claim the North lacked courage. Against: Sending in aid could anger the South and start a war.)
• COMPARE AND CONTRAST: How did Seward’s feelings toward Lincoln change over the course of the Civil War? What statements show this change of heart?
(During and after the election, Seward viewed Lincoln as a rival. He strongly disapproved of Lincoln’s decision to reinforce Fort Sumter in 1861 and said he wanted nothing more to do with Lincoln’s administration. A year later, Seward had come to respect Lincoln. In a letter to his wife, Seward wrote: “The president is the best of us.” After Lincoln’s death in 1865, Seward said of Lincoln: “I believe that all men will come to see him as I have: a true, loyal, patient, patriotic, and benevolent man.”)
• EXPLICIT INFORMATION: When did the Emancipation Proclamation go into effect, freeing slaves? How much longer after that did the war last?
(The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. The war ended a little over two years later, on April 9, 1865.)
• DRAW CONCLUSIONS: After Lincoln’s death, why might Seward have described the president as a “benefactor of the country and the human race”?
(Possible answers include: Because Lincoln freed the slaves, because the choices Lincoln made before and during the war helped preserve the United States, because Lincoln put the good of the country ahead of his own feelings, such as when he made Salmon P. Chase chief justice of the Supreme Court despite the fact that Chase had spoken badly about Lincoln as a person and as a president.)