Susan Schulten has another great piece up on the NYT's Civil War site. This time, she writes about the failed Crittenden Compromise, a last-ditch effort to avoid the Civil War by extending the border between slave and free states all the way to California.
The compromise failed, at least in part, because of President-elect Lincoln's opposition to it. After all, the compromise would have allowed the expansion of slavery -- something that the Republicans' 1860 platform specifically opposed -- and, as Schulten writes, "he did not want to appear as someone apologizing for having won office."
It's interesting to imagine, though, what would have happened if it had succeeded and actually prevented war. Lincoln surely would have been pilloried by the abolitionists but praised by whomever the 1860 equivalent of David Broder was. And, no doubt, Lincoln's refusal to compromise was, in some sense, reckless, hastening war. But 150 years later, Lincoln's partisanship and obstinance seem like the proper course; bipartisanship would have been immoral.