Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861

Lincoln’s Journey, Davis’ Speech

Whom did Lincoln appoint as his most important ambassadors?

Although the expression used was “ministers,” the meaning was the same: the highest-level diplomat to a foreign country. Lincoln was influenced by Secretary of State Seward, who wished Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), the son and grandson of presidents (John Adams and John Quincy Adams), for the all-important post at the Court of St. James in London. Lincoln chose William L. Dayton of New Jersey to serve as minister to the court of the Emperor Napoleon III in Paris. And for the post to the court of Czar Alexander II, Lincoln chose Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky.

As different as these men were, and as challenging their assignments, they all had one type of briefing from the president and the secretary of state: show no weakness. In all conversations with foreign dignitaries, the ambassadors were to act as if the United States remained one compact entity, which was undergoing a domestic disturbance.


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