Daily Bread for 1.10.14

Good morning.

Friday brings a high of thirty-six and a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, and sleet during the day.

On this day in 1861, President-elect Lincoln chooses wisely:

…William Seward accepts President-elect Abraham Lincoln’s invitation to become secretary of state. Seward became one of the most important members of Lincoln’s cabinet and engineered the purchase of Alaska after the Civil War.

A native of New York, Seward taught school in the South before returning to New York and entering politics. He became governor in 1838 and began to articulate strong anti-slavery views. Seward entered the U.S. Senate in 1849 and burst onto the national scene during the debates surrounding the Compromise of 1850. He boldly proclaimed that slavery was doomed by a “higher law than the Constitution, the law of God.” This became a catch phrase for abolitionists and Seward became known as a radical, belying his pragmatic tendencies.

Seward joined the Republican Party in the 1850s and appeared to be the leading candidate for president in 1860. However, the party went with Lincoln, feeling that he would draw more votes in the Midwest and border regions. Seward was initially reluctant to accept the position of secretary of state, as he still saw himself as the natural leader of the party and was reluctant to take a back seat to Lincoln. In fact, Seward underestimated Lincoln’s political acumen. His relationship with the president was not particularly close, but they worked well together during the war.

Seward became one of the moderate voices in the Lincoln cabinet. His careful politicking helped to counter the public perception that the administration was dominated by radicals. Although he supported the end of slavery, Seward downplayed the effects of emancipation to gain support from Democrats and conservative Republicans during the presidential campaign of 1864.

The April 1865 assassination that killed Lincoln nearly resulted in Seward’s death as well. Lewis Powell, an accomplice to John Wilkes Booth, stabbed Seward as he lay in bed recovering from a carriage accident. Seward survived, and after a summer convalescing, returned to the State Department. His final achievement came with the purchase of Alaska from the Russians in 1867. Although he considered it one of his greatest accomplishments, critics dubbed the territory “Mr. Seward’s Ice Box.” History would show that Seward’s belief in the value of Alaska was astute.

On 1.10.1883, one of the worst fires in Milwaukee claims scores of lives:

1883 – Newhall House Fire
On this date in 1883, one of America’s worst hotel fires claimed more than seventy lives when the Newhall House burned at the northwest corner of Broadway and Michigan Streets in Milwaukee. Rescued from the fire were The P.T. Barnum Lilliputian Show performers Tom Thumb and Commodore Nutt. The fire, shown here, was discovered at 4:00 a.m. on the 10th, but sources give the date variously as 1/9/1883 or 1/10/1883. [Sources: The History of Wisconsin, Vol. 3, p.452; WLHBA]

Puzzability‘s Re Solutions series ends today:

This Week’s Game — January 6-10
Re Solutions
You’ll only need to keep these New Year’s resolutions for a week. For each day, we started with a word and added the two-letter chunk RE somewhere within the word to get a new word. The two-word answer phrase, described by each day’s clue, is the shorter word followed by the RE word.
Pumpernickel that’s been sitting around too long
Bad bread
What to Submit:
Submit the two-word phrase, with the RE word second (as “Bad bread” in the example), for your answer.
Friday, January 10
Guidance provided about clearness of speech

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