A Shuffling of the Cabinet

Sunday, December 16, 1860

On this snowy Sunday, President Buchanan appointed Attorney General Jeremiah S. Black to fill the seat of Secretary of State vacated by Lewis Cass after his resignation two days previous.

Cass left the Cabinet because Buchanan refused to send reinforcements to Major Anderson at Forts Moultrie and Sumter. Black was of the same mind. Together, Cass and Black tried to convince Buchanan that reinforcing Anderson was necessary and for a moment or two, it actually worked. Buchanan was soon reassured by South Carolina’s Governor Gist that no violence would happen until after the state’s secession… or if Buchanan reinforced Anderson. That was that and Cass took it hard.

Though they differed in opinions, Buchanan trusted Black. In November, he called upon his Constitutional and legal knowledge in questions about the President’s powers and the states’ rights to secede.

Black was a Unionist from Pennsylvania. He favored a show of stout defenses in Charleston to convince the citizens considering secession that it would not be a good idea. Nevertheless, Jeremiah Black was moved from the Justice Department to the State Department and given a leading role in the remainder of Buchanan’s administration.

While the loss of Cass did mean the loss of a Unionist on board, Black, in his new role was in a position to bring Buchanan around. Events would have to spiral a bit before that happened.

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A Shuffling of the Cabinet by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International

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