During the last days of February Lincoln arrived in Washington and took rooms at the Willard Hotel, half a mile or more from the Capitol. Though divinely appointed to save the Union, Mr. Lincoln, at that time, had not found himself. Either he did not know the seriousness of affairs or he was putting up a bold front. On his way to Washington he had made several inconsequential and unsatisfactory speeches. "There is no crisis but an artificial one," he had said at Columbus. "There is nothing going wrong."1 But when he arrived in Baltimore he had a rude shock. As he passed through that city his life was in danger. Everything was going wrong; America did not know her own mind. Each day brought distressing news. South Carolina had been joined in secession by Mississippi and other states, and the Crittenden Amendment was practically dead. It had been killed by the manifesto of December 14, and by a combination of Secessionists and Abolitionists--Benjamin and five other secession Southerners combining with Wade, Sumner, Thad Stevens and other unyielding Abolitionists.
Toombs, wiring the Georgia Legislature, shouted, "War! War! War!" The much touted Peace Conference, which Virginia had suggested, ended in nothing. The discussions served but to show how wide apart Southerners and Northerners were on the extension of slavery. President Buchanan was beside himself. "Either a fool or an idiot," the New York Herald of December 24 had declared; "drawing Secession to a head like a milk and bread poultice." In January Postmaster-General Blair had threatened to leave the cabinet unless Fort Sumter was garrisoned;2 and the President had dispatched the Star____________________