In December 1862 during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, Lincoln faced a crisis in his Cabinet. Secretary of the Treasury Chase had sought the support of the Jacobins to strengthen his chances for the Republican presidential nomination of 1864. These radical Republicans, looking for an opportunity to discredit Lincoln, turned against Secretary of State Seward, a former radical who now agreed with the president on most matters. They demanded that Seward be removed from the Cabinet and replaced as secretary of state by Chase. Lincoln needed Seward in the Cabinet, but he also needed Chase and the support of the radical wing of the party. It took all of Lincoln’s great political skill to remain in control of his Cabinet and party.
Seward, unwilling to embarrass the president, resigned at once. Lincoln then called a meeting in which the other Cabinet members and the Jacobin senators were present. Confronted with his fellow Cabinet members, Chase could not attack Seward and Lincoln as he had done in private with the senators. Chase offered to resign. Lincoln refused to accept either his or Seward’s resignation, and the two men returned to their posts. Chase and his allies now knew that in Lincoln they faced a skilled and resolute politician and hence the cabinet crisis during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency which many thought would shake his administration simply died down.