Lazarus W. Powell portrait

On December 6, 1860, Kentucky Senator Lazarus Whitehead Powell proposed the formation of a special committee to save the Union, known as the Committee of Thirteen. [Wikimedia Commons]

Committee of Thirteen Facts


Key facts about the Senate Committee of Thirteen.

  • On December 6, 1860 Kentucky Senator Lazarus Whitehead Powell proposed that the United States Senate from a select committee of thirteen members to reach a compromise agreement between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding states that might stem the secession movement and save the Union.
  • The Committee of Thirteen met for the first time on December 18, 1860.
  • The Committee of Thirteen was composed of seven Democrats, five Republicans, and one Constitutional Unionist.
  • The members of the Committee of Thirteen were William Bigler (Democrat, Pennsylvania), Jefferson Davis (Democrat, Mississippi), Stephen Douglas (Democrat, Illinois), Robert M.T. Hunter (Democrat, Virginia), Lazarus W. Powell (Democrat, Kentucky), Henry M. Rice (Democrat, Minnesota), Robert Toombs, (Democrat, Georgia), Jacob Collamer (Republican, Vermont), James Rood Doolittle (Republican, Wisconsin), James W. Grimes (Republican, Iowa), William Seward (Republican, New York), Benjamin Wade (Republican, Ohio), and John J. Crittenden (Constitutional Unionist, Kentucky).
  • The Committee of Thirteen diminished their chances of achieving a satisfactory “plan of adjustment” to save the Union almost immediately by approving a motion made by Jefferson Davis that the committee would not endorse any proposal unless supported by majorities of both the Republican and the Democratic members.
  • The Committee of Thirteen entertained proposals from senators Crittenden, Davis, Douglas, Seward, and Toombs. The most notable of these was the Crittenden Compromise (which was later defeated by the full Senate).
  • Hamstrung by the self-imposed restriction requiring endorsement by majorities of both major parties, the Committee of Thirteen reported to the full Senate on December 31, 1860 that it was unable to agree on a compromise that might stem the secession movement and save the Union.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Committee of Thirteen Facts
  • Coverage 1860
  • Author
  • Keywords committee of thirteen
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 17, 2021
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