Jacob Bechtel to George Bechtel, January 19, 1861, Jacob H. Bechtel Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
On January 19, 1861, Jacob Bechtel, a Pennsylvania native residing in Richmond cursed the "Wicked obstinacy" of the nation's political leaders, particularly Republicans, for endangering the Union. He criticized President-elect Abraham Lincoln for saying nothing specific about his plans, and he criticized Congress for failing to adopt the compromise proposals of Kentucky Senator John Jordan Crittenden or heed the advice of Pennsylvania Senator William Bigler, a proslavery Democrat. Bechtel perceived that the conflict over slavery was the cause of the sectional crisis. " We ask only our rights," he wrote to his brother in Philadelphia. "We ask that the North Cease to Meddle With our social relations— Slavery to the North is immaterial In the South it is Vital."