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U. S. MINT AT NEW ORLEANS.
fierce indignation against such as from mere political ambition they said, had brought about this appalling state of things, and those who had foreseen and foretold all this, and now looked on in still despair, there seemed no hope for the Republic. South, also, there were almost equal distraction and division; for between the better class of people, still adhering to the old government, or at all events unwilling to hazard the experiment of inaugurating a new one, and those intent on dissolution, there seemed to be an irreconcilable antagonism. The southern leaders, alone, appeared calm and resolute, and pursued the course they had marked out with unfaltering determination.
In the mean time, troops were drilling in the various southern states, and state after state went out of the Union, and ranged itself under the leadership of South Carolina. The Governor of North Carolina, celebrated the incoming year by the seizure of fort Macon at Beaufort, the forts at Wilmington, and the United States arsenal at Fayetteville; and the Governor of Georgia by the seizure of fort Pulaski. Southern Commissioners were sent to Washington to consult with the government, and to the border states to secure their co-operation. The North Carolina troops took possession of forts Caswell and Johnson, and Secretary Thompson resigned his seat in the Cabinet. The Mississippi state convention passed the ordinance of secession, followed by Florida; and fort Barrancas and the navy yard at Pensacola fell into the possession of the state iroops. Louisiana scon followed, completiog her ignominy by seizing the United States mint, and subtreasury at New Orleans, in which were a half a million of dollars. In the mean time, the steamer Star of the West, sent to reinforce fort Sumter, was fired into in the bay of Charleston, and was compelled to return amid the suppressed murmurs of the people. The Little Rock arsenal with its munitions of war was seized by the state troops of Arkansas, and by the latter
THE NORTH DIVIDED.
end of February, a Southern Confederaey was formed and a provisional government established at Montgomery, Alabama, at the head of which was placed Jefferson Davis as President. As the time drew near for the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, and the assumption of the government by the Republican party, the southern conspirators seemed to redouble their energy, for they knew that their career, which thus far had been smooth and unobstructed, would meet with a sudden check.
In the mean time, the appointment of Mr. Holt of Kentucky, as Sec. of War, and Mr. Dix of New York, as Sec. of the Treasury, in the places of Thompson and Floyd, arrested the government in its downward rush, infused some little life, and seeming patriotism into Mr. Buchanan, and erected a sort of breakwater, to check the devastating flow of the waves of sedition. General Twiggs, commanding the department of Texas, was dismissed from the United States service, for hav. ing surrendered the military posts and other property under his charge to the state authorities, and the most peremptory orders were issued by Mr. Dix to national officers in the southern states.
The revolt of South Carolina, at the first; had awakened very different feelings in different classes at the north. The more thoughtful saw in it the beginning of evils, the end of which no man could foresee. Others, who had learned to despise this splenetic, captious, and disloyal state, only laughed at it, as an ebullition to be expected, and that would soon subside. But as the revolt rapidly spread, all saw that an abyss was opening under the nation, which would require the most consummate prudence to span.
It is necessary now to go back a little to the meeting of Congress in December. Most of the southern members took their seats as usual. It was evident, however, that they had done this, not to allay excitement, or adjust difficulties, or even to obtain røress of grievances; but to endeavor to influence
public opinion in their favor, alarm the government into submission, and render the final act of separation more imposing ånd formal. Specious arguments, heartless propositions, and threats were used by turns. Mason from Virginia, Slidell, and Benjamin from Louisiana, and Wigfall from Texas, were the leading spirits in the Senate. The former was haughty, malignant, and cautious. Slidell, artful and hypocritical, and Wigfall open, specious, and daring. The arguments used were various, and calculated to influence different classes, north and south. To-day it was an appeal to the north to let the south go peaceably and without resistance. They said "you hate us and we hate you—our social systems are entirely opposite, -and can never harmonize. You declare that slavery is repugnant to free institutions, and a disgrace to the Republic-now, as you cannot get rid of it, let us go by ourselves, and bear the obloquy alone. If we cannot live together peaceably, let us separate amicably, and form treaties of friendship like foreign nations. Why insist on a union that is only such in name?” etc. To-morrow, it was a long recapitulation of the wrongs heaped on the south by the north.." They had been assailed in every form, and the north was determined to deprive them of their share of the territory which had been won by common valor, or been paid for from the common fund. The rights guaranteed by a common Constitution, such as the return of fugitive slaves had been struck down, and a compact broken in any particular was abrogated altogether. It was the height of injustice," they claimed, "to rob them of the protection guaranteed by that instrument, and yet demand of them continned allegiance to it.” There was a semblance of truth in some of these allegations, and though laughed at and ridiculed in the excitement of a political campaign, now that the Union was confronted with serious danger, various plans for an adjustment of the difficulties, and to guarantee rights
SCENES IN CONGRESS.
: in the future, were freely offered. At length, a .commit
tee of forty members of Congress, with Corwin of Ohio at its head, was appointed to report some basis of settlement. But a spirit of acrimony and hostility governed the majority of both parties, and it was soon apparent to a calm lookeron, that nothing would come of it. Besides, it, was, plain that the leading conspirators wished for no adjustment. Their complaints and harangues were designed solely to strengthen the opposition party at the north, and to draw the reluctant border states into their schemes. A convention of the states which was called to meet at Washington at this time, to take into consideration the causes of disagreement, proved equally powerless to effect any good.
Among the many propositions offered in Congress and out of it, which those making them hoped would prevent a collision of the states, there was one by Mr. Crittenden restoring the Missouri Compromise ; another by Mr. Adams of Massachusetts—which placed in effect the vexed question of sla: very out of the reach of the federal government. Mr. Seward, in the Senate, made a third, which was not very definite. These two latter gentlemen showed themselves to be not only patriots but statesmen; and could they have carried their party with them a very different result would have been reached. They might not have prevented the rebellion, but they would have arrested its headway and discomfited its leaders.
But the statesmanship of both availed nothing against party clamor, and their lofty patriotism could not stem the tide of fierce indignation that had been aroused by the haughty, defiant tone of the south.
One other course only remained: to submit the whole question, in some form, to the people. Ours is a government of the people-on them fall the burdens and horrors of war, and on them directly should rest the sole responsihility of inaugurating it, especially if it be a civil one.
FALLACY OF SOUTHERN ARGUMENTS.
All efforts, however, proved abortive; and the ship of state, rocking on the turbulent waves of passion, drifted steadily towards the vortex of disunion.
The chief defense made by the south, was the right to secede from the confederation, which the several states reserved to themselves when they entered it, if at any time they thought fit' to do so. A great deal of able yet useless argument was wasted on this question. It was denied on the part of the north, for they asserted that such a right made the Union a rope of sand, and the government guilty of providing for its own destruction. Besides, said they, Louisiana cost us $15,000,000, Florida $5,000,000, to say nothing of $40,000,000 expended in driving the Indians from her swamps, and Texas directly and indirectly more than $200,000,000, and to suppose that these states, as soon as they had pocketed the money of the government, could withdraw, and set up for themselves, was the climax of absurdity. More than this, to whom did the Mississippi river belong if it did not to the whole Union? The whole discussion, however, was a waste of breath, for the doctrine of secession as explained by the south was never acted upon by them. They advocated it to justify rebellion. The right of rebellion under unbearable oppression, can never be vitiated by former compacts, however strong, nor by favors how great soever they may have been. If the right of secession be granted, it can take place only in the form, and by the legal process that characterized the formation of the compact. The state wishing to withdraw, must present herself before the confederation, and proceed with the same formality and respectfulness she did when she entered it, and be bound by the same decision of the parties concerned. If her claim is refused she must acquiesce, no matter how great the wrong done her, or then fall back on the right of secession. This the south never proposed to do, and to say: