Beriah Magoffin (American National Biography)

Lowell H. Harrison, "Magoffin, Beriah," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Magoffin's administration was dominated by the secession crisis and the Civil War. Prosouthern in his sentiments, he accepted slavery and the right of a state to secede, but he believed that if the slave states presented collective demands the North would have to accept them. In a circular letter of 9 December 1860 to the slave state governors, he suggested calling a conference that would insist on strict enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, a division of the territories between slave and free at the thirty-seventh parallel, and a constitutional provision that would allow the South to protect its interests, perhaps by requiring a two-thirds Senate majority to pass legislation pertaining to slavery. If this proposal failed, Magoffin believed that Kentucky would join the other slave states in leaving the Union.

In response to a secessionist appeal from the Alabama governor, Magoffin replied on 28 December 1860 that "the mode and manner of defense and redress should be determined in a full and free conference of all the Southern States, and that their mutual safety requires full co-operation in carrying out the measures there agreed upon." This cooperative movement was to be completed before Abraham Lincoln's inauguration in March 1861.
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