Secretary of State and Union Advocate (1857-1866): "I Am Sometimes Filled with Apprehension... I May Yet Outlive the Union and Constitution of My Country"
THE ELECTION of 1856 marked a milestone for Lewis Cass. With Republicans in control of the Michigan legislature his senatorial tenure was drawing to a close, but one more important public office beckoned before his extensive career ended. Following the November election, president- elect James Buchanan, with the aid of a few political advisers including Howell Cobb, John Slidell, and Jesse Bright, began the process of picking a cabinet. The sixty-five-year-old Pennsylvanian was determined to preside over a harmonious administration, free from political extremism and sectionalism. He therefore sought as department heads politically conservative nationalists from all regions of the country. The most delicate decision Buchanan faced was selecting a secretary of state. He originally favored his close personal friend, Howell Cobb, a forty-one-year-old Georgia congressman who would reside at the White House during his wife's frequent trips back home. Cobb campaigned vigorously for the Democratic cause in the Northeast, and made it clear he would accept only the State Department. His appointment, however, was opposed by vocal southern spokesmen, such as Jefferson Davis, as well as by northern expansionists who preferred Robert J. Walker. One of Walker's prominent backers was Stephen Douglas, still engaged in a struggle with Jesse Bright for control of the Democratic organization in the Old Northwest. Buchanan disliked Douglas, his rival for the presidential nomination, but the influential Illinois senator could be neither unceremoniously ignored nor