Few expected Abraham Lincoln would become the 16th president. The newly-formed Republican Party had many better-known options: Salmon Chase, William Seward, Simon Cameron, Edward Bates, William Dayton, Ben Wade or Thaddeus Stevens, but Lincoln was the new-comer compromise selection of a radical Republican cabal that took supreme power in North America after Democrats seceded, abandoning their positions of power in Congress and the Cabinet.
Lincoln arrived into a hornet’s nest not unlike the situation facing John F. Kennedy when the Bay of Pigs dropped in his lap upon arrival in the White House. The Bay of Pigs was supposed to be a catalyst for full-on invasion of Cuba, but once Kennedy saw the operation had little popular support in Cuba, he pulled stakes, infuriating our Military Industrial Complex and the CIA spooks who’d worked on that operation.
The story you’ve heard of Fort Sumter is not entirely correct, nor is the history of the Civil War nor Lincoln’s assassination, at least not as related by Ken Burns.
Slavery was not the real issue that sparked secession, it was the right of states to withdraw from the union. Do you think any state would have signed that original agreement to form a union if they thought it was permanent and irrevocable? The South firmly believed every state had a legal right to secede for any reason it wanted. The South didn’t seek an armed rebellion and were eager to negotiate any peaceful, legal solution.
The accurate part of Spielberg’s Lincoln is it shows how all attempts by the South to make peace were rebuffed by Lincoln. And the entire incident with Fort Sumter that sparked the armed conflict was carefully instigated as a provocation, the same way all our wars begin: some wag-the-dog operation for the press to go hysterical over.
The truth is the Radical Republicans didn’t want a peaceful solution, they wanted bloody war, and they’d been baiting the Democrats in Congress for months to secede so they could start one, and the first thing they did when Lincoln arrived in the White House was convince him to stage a provocation for armed conflict, telling him this was required to keep border states like Maryland from joining the rebellion.
Baltimore was north of Washington, so secession of Maryland would leave Congress virtually surrounded. Lincoln was a novice, so all he could do was take the advice of more experienced men around him, much the same way JFK was stuck under the thumb of the Pentagon when he’d first arrived. But as time went on, both men found their personal centers of gravity, and began to drift off the designated tack their party bigwigs were trying to steer.
When the smoke cleared after the bloody Civil War, the big winners were the banks, J.P. Morgan, and Jay Gould. Follow the money.