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ger had been made known from two entirely independent sources, and officially communicated to him by his future prime minister and the general of the American armies, he was no longer at liberty to disregard it; that it was not the question of his private life, but the regular and orderly transmission of the authority of the government of the United States in the face of threatened revolution, which he had no right to put in the slightest jeopardy. He would, therefore, carry out the plan, the full details of which had been arranged with the railroad officials.
Accordingly, that same evening, he, with a single companion, Colonel W. H. Lamon, took a car from Harrisburg back to Philadelphia, at which place, about midnight, they boarded the through train from New York to Washington, and without recognition or any untoward incident passed quietly through Baltimore, and reached the capital about daylight on the morning of February 23, where they were met by Mr. Seward and Representative Washburne of Illinois, and conducted to Willard's Hotel.
When Mr. Lincoln's departure from Harrisburg became known, a reckless newspaper correspondent telegraphed to New York the ridiculous invention that he traveled disguised in a Scotch cap and long military cloak. There was not one word of truth in the absurd statement. Mr. Lincoln's family and suite proceeded to Washington by the originally arranged train and schedule, and witnessed great crowds in the streets of Baltimore, but encountered neither turbulence nor incivility of any kind. There was now, of course, no occasion for any, since the telegraph had definitely announced that the President-elect was already in Washington.
The Secession Movement-South Carolina Secession—
T is not the province of these chapters to relate in detail the course of the secession movement in the cotton States in the interim which elapsed between the election and inauguration of President Lincoln. Still less can space be given to analyze and set forth the lamentable failure of President Buchanan to employ the executive authority and power of the government to prevent it, or even to hinder its development, by any vigorous opposition or adequate protest. The determination of South Carolina to secede was announced by the governor of that State a month before the presidential election, and on the day before the election he sent the legislature of the State a revolutionary message to formally inaugurate it. From that time forward the whole official machinery of the State not only led, but forced the movement which culminated on December 20 in the ordinance of secession by the South Carolina convention.
This official revolution in South Carolina was quickly
imitated by similar official revolutions ending in secession ordinances in the States of Mississippi, on January 9, 1861; Florida, January 10; Alabama, January 11; Georgia, January 19; Louisiana, January 26; and by a still bolder usurpation in Texas, culminating on February 1. From the day of the presidential election all these proceedings were known probably more fully to President Buchanan than to the general public, because many of the actors were his personal and party friends; while almost at their very beginning he became aware that three members of his cabinet were secretly or openly abetting and promoting them by their official influence and power.
Instead of promptly dismissing these unfaithful servants, he retained one of them a month, and the others twice that period, and permitted them so far to influence his official conduct, that in his annual message to Congress he announced the fallacious and paradoxical doctrine that though a State had no right to secede, the Federal government had no right to coerce her to remain in the Union.
Nor could he justify his non-action by the excuse that contumacious speeches and illegal resolves of parliamentary bodies might be tolerated under the American theory of free assemblage and free speech. Almost from the beginning of the secession movement, it was accompanied from time to time by overt acts both of treason and war; notably, by the occupation and seizure by military order and force of the seceding States, of twelve or fifteen harbor forts, one extensive navy-yard, half a dozen arsenals, three mints, four important custom-houses, three revenue cutters, and a variety of miscellaneous Federal property; for all of which insults to the flag, and infractions of the sovereignty of the United States, President Buchanan
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could recommend no more efficacious remedy or redress than to ask the voters of the country to reverse their decision given at the presidential election, and to appoint a day of fasting and prayer on which to implore the Most High "to remove from our hearts that false pride of opinion which would impel us to persevere in wrong for the sake of consistency."
Nor must mention be omitted of the astounding phenomenon that, encouraged by President Buchanan's doctrine of non-coercion and purpose of non-action, a central cabal of Southern senators and representatives issued from Washington, on December 14, their public proclamation of the duty of secession; their executive committee using one of the rooms of the Capitol building itself as the headquarters of the conspiracy and rebellion they were appointed to lead and direct.
During the month of December, while the active treason of cotton-State officials and the fatal neglect of the Federal executive were in their most damaging and demoralizing stages, an officer of the United States army had the high courage and distinguished honor to give the ever-growing revolution its first effective check. Major Robert Anderson, though a Kentuckian by birth and allied by marriage to a Georgia family, was, late in November, placed in command of the Federal forts in Charleston harbor; and having repeatedly reported that his little garrison of sixty men was insufficient for the defense of Fort Moultrie, and vainly asked for reinforcements which were not sent him, he suddenly and secretly, on the night after Christmas, transferred his command from the insecure position of Moultrie to the strong and unapproachable walls of Fort Sumter, midway in the mouth of Charleston harbor, where he could not be assailed by the raw Charleston militia companies that had for weeks been
threatening him with a storming assault. In this stronghold, surrounded on all sides by water, he loyally held possession for the government and sovereignty of the United States.
The surprised and baffled rage of the South Carolina rebels created a crisis at Washington that resulted in the expulsion of the President's treacherous counselors and the reconstruction of Mr. Buchanan's cabinet to unity and loyalty. The new cabinet, though unable to obtain President Buchanan's consent to aggressive measures to reëstablish the Federal authority, was, nevertheless, able to prevent further concessions to the insurrection, and to effect a number of important defensive precautions, among which was the already mentioned concentration of a small military force to protect the national capital.
Meanwhile, the governor of South Carolina had begun the erection of batteries to isolate and besiege Fort Sumter; and the first of these, on a sand-spit of Morris Island commanding the main ship-channel, by a few shots turned back, on January 9, the merchant steamer Star of the West, in which General Scott had attempted to send a reinforcement of two hundred recruits to Major Anderson. Battery building was continued with uninterrupted energy until a triangle of siege works was established on the projecting points of neighboring islands, mounting a total of thirty guns and seventeen mortars, manned and supported by a volunteer force of from four to six thousand men.
Military preparation, though not on so extensive or definite a scale, was also carried on in the other revolted States; and while Mr. Lincoln was making his memorable journey from Springfield to Washington, telegrams were printed in the newspapers, from day to day, showing that their delegates had met at Montgomery,