Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sesquicentennial News---Democrat and Buchannan's Attorney General, Stanton Predicts Wartime Prosperity

The Open Salvos Fired In A Great Calamity, Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 12, 2011.

The following is an excerpt. Stanton, out of government following the Republican takeover of the White House, had no more illusions about what would follow. "It is now certain that we are about to be engaged in a general civil war between the Northern & Southern states," Stanton wrote to Hutchison on April 15, 1861. "Every one will regret this as a great calamity to the human race."

With Virginia and "probably" Maryland likely to join the Confederate states, Washington, sharing borders with both, was vulnerable to Southern occupation, he wrote. "The government will of course strive to protect it but whether successfully or not is perhaps doubtful," he admitted.

"Many persons are preparing to remove from here," he told Hutchison. "I shall remain, and take the chances, feeling a firm faith in the final result ... and willing to encounter its risks." A practical man, Stanton advised his brother-in-law that war, especially conflict in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, was likely to be good for local business. "The manufacturing interests of Pittsburgh will I think receive a strong impulse," he predicted.

He was right. During the next four years, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County provided heavy arms and ammunition, as well as thousands of volunteers, for Union forces. Although a longtime Democrat, Stanton became an adviser to Lincoln and then in 1862 his secretary of war. He was present when Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, the morning after he was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater. "Now he belongs to the ages," a tearful Stanton said.

Text and Image Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 12 2011

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