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preponderance in the national | sulted their own interests by The Message of
The Message of Congress, self-interest taught selling their slaves to the South, Jetrerson Davis.
Jefferson Davis their people to yield ready as- and prohibiting Slavery within sent to any plausible advocacy of their right as a ma- their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a jurity to govern the minority without control ; they property suitable to their wants, and paid the price learned to listen with impatience to the suggestion of of the acquisition without harboring a suspicion that any constitutional impediment to the exercise of their their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those will; and so utterly have the principles of the Con- who were inhibited, not only by want of constitustitution been corrupted in the Northern mind, that tional authority, but by good faith as venders, from in the inaugural address delivered by President disquieting a title emanating from themselves. Lincoln in March last, he asserts as an axiom which “ As soon, however, as the Northern States that he plainly deems to be undeniable, that the theory prohibited African Slavery within their limits had of the Constitution requires that in all cases the reached a number sufficient to give their repremajority shall govern; and in another memorable sentation a controlling voice in the Congress, a perinstance, the same Chief Magistrate did not hesitate sistent and organized system of hostile measures to liken the relations between a State and the United against the rights of the owners of slaves in the States to those which exist between a County and Southern States, was inaugurated and gradually exthe State in which it is situated, and by which it was tended. A continuous series of measures were decreated. This is the lamentable and fundamental vised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering error on which rests the polity that has culminated insecure the tenure of property in slaves ; fanatical in his declaration of war against these Confederate organizations, supplied with money by voluntary States.
supscription, were assiduously engaged in exciting In addition to the long-continued and deep-seat- amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; ed resentment felt by the Southern States at the means were furnished for their escape from their persistent abuse of the powers they had delegated owners, and agents secretly employed to entice to the Congress for the purpose of enriching the them to abscond; the constitutional provision for manufacturing and shipping classes of the North at their relation to their owners was first evaded, then the expense of the South, there has existed for openly announced as a violation of conscientious nearly half a century another subject of discord in. obligation and religious duty; men were taught volving interests of such transcendent magnitude that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently as at all times to create the apprehension in the oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure minds of many devoted lovers of the Union that its the performance of the promise in the constitutional permanence was impossible.
compact; owners of slaves were mobbed and even “When the several States delegated certain murdered in open day, solely for applying to a mapowers to the United States Congress, a large por- gistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dog. tion of the laboring population consisted of African mas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained slaves imported into colonies by the mother coun- control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern try. In twelve out of the thirteen States negro slavo States, and laws were passed providing for the punery existed, and the right of property in slaves was ishment by ruinous fines and long-continued impriprotected by law. This property was recognized sonment in jails and penitentiaries of citizens of the in the Constitution, and provision was made against Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the its loss by the escape of the slave. The increase in officers of the law for the recovery of their prop. the number of slaves by further importation from erty. Emboldened by success, the theatre of agiAfrica was also secured by a clause forbidding tation and aggression against the early-expressed Congress to prohibit the slave-trade anterior to a constitutional rights of the Southeru States was certain date; and in no clause can there be found transferred to the Congress ; Senators and Repreany delegation of power to the Congress authorizing sentatives were sent to the common councils of the it in any manner to legislate to the prejudice, detri- nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted ment, or discouragement of the owners of that spe in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and cies of property, or excluding it from the protection whose business was not ‘to promote the general of the Government.
welfare or insure domestic tranquillity,' but to “ The climate and soil of the Northern States awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of soon proved unpropitions to the continuance of sister States by violent denunciations of their in. slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the stitutions; the transaction of public affairs was South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not between the two sections, the Northern States con- delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of
OF JEFFERSON DAVIS.
impairing the security of pro- people to select delegates to The Message of
The Message of perty in slaves, and reducing Conventions to be held for the Jefferson Davis.
Jefferson Davis. those States which held slaves purpose of determining for to a cordition of inferiority. Finally, a great party themselves what measures were best adapted to was organized for the purpose of obtaining the ad- meet so alarming a crisis in their history. ministration of the Government with the avowed ob- “Here it may be proper to observe that from a ject of using its power for the total exclusion of the period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of Slave Siates from all participation in the benefits the States of the Union a party, almost uninterrupto of the public domain, acquired by all the States in edly in the majority, based upon the creed that each common, whether by conquest or purchase ; of sur- State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of rounding them entirely by States in which slavery | its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. should be prohibited; of thus rendering the prop. Indeed, it is obvions, that under the law of nations erty in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations sworthless, and thereby annihilating in effect prop- of independent sovereign States, such as those which erty worth thousands of millions of dollars. This had united themselves under the constitutional comparty, thus organized, succeeded in the month of pact. The Democratic party of the United States November last in the election of its candidate for repeated in its successful canvass in 1856, the declarthe Presidency of the United States.
ation made in numerous previous political contests, "In the meantime, under the mild and genial that it would ' faithfully abide hy and uphold the climate of the Southern States, and the increasing principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia care and attention for the well-being and comfort resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and to the Virginia Legislature in 1799 ; and that it humanity, the African slaves had augmented in adopts those principles as constituting one of the number from about six hundred thousand, at the main foundations of its political creed.' date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, “ The principles thus emphatically announced emto upwards of four million. In moral and social brace that to which I have already adverted, the condition they had been elevated from brutal sava- right of each State to judge of, and redress the ges into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural | wrongs of which it complains. The principles were laborers, and supplied not only with bodily com- maintained by overwhelming majorities of the peoforts, but with careful religious instruction. Under ple of all the States of the Union at different electhe supervision of a superior race their labor had tions, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. marked amelioration of their own condition, but to “ In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the wilderness into cultivated lands, covered with a the people of the Confederate States in their Conprosperous people ; towns and cities had sprung ventions, determined that the wrongs wbich they into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth had suffered, and the evils with which they were and population under the social system of the South; menaced, required that they should revoke the del. the white population of the Southern Slaveholding egation of powers to the Federal Government, which States bad augmented from about one million two they had ratified in their several Conventions. hundred and fifty thousand, at the date of the adop. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all tion of the Constitution, to more than eight million their rights as sovereign and independent States, five hundred thousand in 1860, and the productions and dissolved their connection with the other States of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for of the Union. the full development and continuance of which the “ Having done this, they proceeded to form a new labor of African slaves was, and is, indispensable, compact amongst themselves, by new articles of bad swollen to an amount which formed nearly confederation, which have been also ratified by the three-fourths of the exports of the whole United Convention of the several States, with an approach States, and become absolutely necessary to the to unanimity far exceeding that of the Convention wants of civiïized man.
which adopted the Constitution of 1787. They have “ With interests of such overwhelming magnitude organized their new Government in all its departimperiled, the people of the Southern States were ments ; the functions of the executive, legislative, driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption and judicial magistrates are performed in accord. of some course of action to avert the danger with ance with the will of the people, as displayed, not which they were openly menaced. With this view, merely in a cheerful acquiescence, but in the enthu. the Legislature of the several States invited the siastic support of the Government thus established
by themselves; and but for the negotiations, assuring the Gov. The Message of
The Message of interference of the Government ernment of the United States Jefferson Davis.
Jefferson Davis. of the United States in this that the President, Congress, legitimate exercise of the right of a people to self- and people of the Confederate States earnestly government, peace, happiness, and prosperity would desire a peaceful solution of these great questions ; now mile on our land.
that it is neither their interest nor their wish to " That peace is ardently desired by this Govern- make any demand which is not founded on strictest ment and people, has been manifested in every pos justice, nor do any act to injure their late confede. sible form. Scarce had you assembled in February rates.' last, when, prior even to the inauguration of the “ To this communication no formal reply was reChief Magistrate you had elected, you passed a reso. ceived until the 8th of April. During the interval, Intion expressive of your desire for the appointment the Commissioners had consented to wave all ques. of Commissioners to be sent to the Government of tions of form. With the firm resolve to avoid war, the United States, 'for the purpose of negotiating if possible, they went so far, even as to hold, during friendly relations between that Government and the that long period, unofficial intercourse, through an Confederate States of America, and for the settle- intermediary, whose high position and character inment of all questions of disagreement between the spired the hope of success, and through whom con. two Governments upon principles of right, justice, stant assurances were received from the Govern. equity, and good faith.'
ment of the United States of peaceful intentions ; of " It was my pleasure, as well as my duty, to co- the determination to evacuate Fort Sumter; and operate with you in this work of peace. Indeed, further, that no measures, changing the existing in my address to you on taking the oath of office, status prejudicially to the Confederate States, espeand before receiving from you the communication cially at Fort Pickens, was in contemplation, but of this resolution, I had said, 'as a necessity, not a that in the event of any change of intention on the choice, we have resorted to the remedy of separa subject, notice would be given to the Commissiontion, and henceforth our energies must be directed ers. The crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely to the conduct of our own affairs, and the perpetuity furnish an example so wanting in courtesy, in can. of the Confederacy which we have formed. If a dor and directness, as was the course of the United just perception of mutual interest shall permit us States Government towards our Commissioners in peaceably to pursue our separate political career, Washington. For proof of this, I refer to the anmy most earnest desire will have been fulfilled.' nexed documents marked —, taken in connection
“ It was in furtherance of these accordant views with other facts, which I now proceed to relate : of the Congress and the Executive, that I made “Early in April the attention of the whole coun. choice of three discreet, able, and distinguished citi-try, as well as that of our Commissioners, was atzens, who repaired to Washington. Aided by their tracted to extraordinary preparations for an extencordial co-operation, and that of the Secretary of sive military and naval expedition in New York and State, every effort compatible with self-respect and other Northern ports. These preparations, comthe dignity of the Confederacy was exhausted before menced in secrecy for an expedition, whose destina. I allowed myself to yield to the conviction that the tion was concealed, only became known when nearly Government of the United States was determined to completed, and on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of April, attempt the conquest of this people, and that our transports and vessels of war, with troops, muni. cherished hopes of peace were unattainable. tions, and military supplies 'sailed from Northern
“On the arrival of our Commissioners in Wash- | ports bound southward. Alarmed by so extraorington, on the 5th of March, they postponed, at the dinary a demonstration, the Commissioners request. suggestion of a friendly intermediary, doing no more ed the delivery of an answer to their official commuthan giving informal notice of their arrival. This nication of the 12th of March, and thereupon rewas done with a view to afford time to the President ceived, on the 8th of April, a reply dated on the who had just been inaugurated, for the discharge 15th of the previous month, from which it appears of other pressing official duties in the organization that during the whole interval, whilst the Commis. of his administration, before engaging his attention sioners were receiving assurances calculated to in. ir the object of their mission. It was not until the spire hopes of the success of their mission, the Sec12th of the month that they officially addressed the retary of State and the President of the United States Secretary of State, informing him of the purpose of had already determined to hold no intercourse with their arrival, and stating in the language of their them whatever; to refuse even to listen to any proinstructions their wish to make to the Government posals they had to make, and had profited by the of the United States overtures for the opening of delay created by their own selfishness, in order to
The Message of prepare secretly the means for retary of War and the papers The Message of Jefferson Davis. effective hostile operations. which accompany it, for further Jefferson Davis. “That these assurances are given has been virtually details of this brilliant affair. confessed by the Government of the United States “In this connection I cannot refrain from a well by its sending a messenger to Charleston to give no deserved tribute to the noble State, the eminent tice of its purpose to use force if opposed in its in- soldierly qualities of whose people were so conspic. tention of supplying Fort Sumter. No more striking uously displayed in the port of Charleston. For proof of the absence of good faith in the conduct of months they had been irritated by the spectacle of a the Government of the United States towards this fortress held within their principal harbor, as a Confederacy can be required than is contained in standing menace against their peace and independthe circumstances which accompanied this notice. ence. Built, in part, with their own money, its cusAccording to the usual course of navigation, the ves- tody confided with their own consent to an agent sels composing the expedition designed for the re- who held no power over them other than such as lief of Fort Sumter, might be expected to reach they had themselves delegated for their own benefit, Charleston harbor on the 9th April; yet with our intended to be used by that agent for their own proCommissioners actually in Washington, detained un- tection against foreign attack, they saw it held with der assurances that notice should be given of any persistent tenacity as a means of offense against military movement, the notice was not addressed to them by the very Government which they had esthem, but a messenger was sent to Charleston to tablished for their protection. They had beleaguer. give the notice to the Governor of South Carolina, ed it for months—-felt entire confidence in their pow. and the notice was so given at a late hour on the 8th er to capture it-yet yielded to the requirements of April, the eve of the very day on which the fleet discipline, curbed their impatience, submitted with. might be expected to arrive. That this maneuvre out complaint to the unaccustomed hardships, lafailed in its purpose was not the fault of those who bors and privations of a protracted siege; and when contrived it. A heavy tempest defeated the arrival at length their patience was rewarded by the signal of the expedition, and gave time to the commander for attack, and success had crowned their steady of our forces at Charleston to ask and receive the and gallant conduct—even in the very moment of instructions of this Government. Even then, under triumph-they evinced a chivalrous regard for the all the provocation incident to the contemptuous re- feelings of the brave but unfortunate officer who had fu-al to listen to our Commissioners, and the tortu- been compelled to lower his flag. All manifestations ous course of the Government of the United States, of exultation were checked in his presence. Their I was sincerely anxious to avoid the effusion of blood, commanding General, with their cordial approval and directed a proposal to be made to the command and the consent of his Government, refrained from er of Fort Sumter, who had ayowed himself to be imposing any terms that could wound the sensibili. nearly out of provisions, that we would abstain ties of the commander of the fort. He was permit. from directing our fire on Fort Sumter if he would ted to retire with the honors of war--to salute his promise not to open fire on our forces unless first flag, to depart freely with all his command, and was aitacked. This proposal was refused, and the con- escorted to the vessel in which he embarked, with clusion was reached that the design of the United the highest marks of respect from those against States was to place the besieging force at Charles- whom his guns had been so recently directed. Not ton between the simultaneous fire of the fleet and only does every event connected with the siege re. the fort. There remained, therefore, no alternative flect the highest honor on South Carolina, but the but to direct that the fort should at once be reduced. forbearance of her people and of this Government of This order was executed by General Beauregard, making any harsh use of a victory obtained under with the skill and success which were naturally to circumstances of such peculiar provocation, attest be expected from the well-known character of that to the fullest extent the absence of any purpose begallant Officer; and although the bombardment yond securing their own tranquillity, and the sincere la-ied but thirty-three hours, our flag did not wave desire to avoid the calamities of war. over its battered walls until after the appearance “Scarcely had the President of the United States of the hostile fleet off Charleston. Fortunately, not received intelligence of the failure of the scheme a lile was lost on our side, and we were gratified in which he had devised for the re-enforcement of Fort being spared the necessity of a useless effusion of Sumter, when he issued the declaration of war blood by the prudent caution of the officers who against this Confederacy, which has prompted me commanded the fleet, in abstaining from the evident to convoke you. In this extraordinary production, ly futile effort to enter the harbor for the relief of that high functionary affects total ignorance of the Major Anderson. I refer to the report of the Sec existence of an independent Government, which,
possessing the entire and enthu- | plication from persons disposed The Message of
The Message of siastic devotion of its people, is to aid our defense in private Jefferson Davis.
exercising its fanctions with armed vessels on the high seas, out question over seven sovereign States, over to the end that preparations might be made for the more than five millions of people, and over a territory, immediate issue of letters of marque and reprisal, which whose area exceeds half a million of square miles. you alone, under the Constitution have power to grant. He terms sovereign States. combinations too power. I entertain no doubt you will concur with me in the fol to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial opinion that in the absence of a fleet of public vessels, proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals | it will be eminently expedient to supply their place by law.' He calls for an army of seventy-five thou by private armed vessels, so happily styled by the sand men to act as a posse comitatus in aid of the pro- publicists of the United States the militia of the cess of the courts of justice in States where no sea,' and so often and justly relied on by them as courts exist whose mandates and decrees are not an efficient and admirable instrument of defensive cheerfully obeyed and respected by a willing people. warfare. I earnestly recommend the immediate pas. He avows that “the first service to be assigned to sage of a law authorizing me to accept the numerous the forces called out will be, not to execute the proposals already received. process of courts, but to capture forts and strong- “I cannot close this review of the acts of the Gov. holds situated within the admitted limits of this concernment of the United States without referring to a federacy, and garrisoned by its troops; and declares proclamation issued by their President under date that 'this effort' is intended to maintain the per- of 19th inst., in which, after declaring that an insurpetuity of popular government.' He concludes by rection has broken out in this Confederacy against commanding the persons composing the combina- the Government of the United States, he announces tions aforesaid,' to wit: the five millions of inhabit. a blockade of all the ports of these States, and
these States, “ to retire peaceably to their threatens to punish, as pirates, all persons who respective abodes within twenty days.'
shall molest any vessel of the United States under • Apparently contradictory as are the terms of letters of marque by this Government. Notwiththis singular document, one point was unmistakably standing the authenticity of this proclamation, you evident. The President of the United States called will concur with me that it is hard to believe it for an arnıy of seventy-five thousand men, whose could have emanated from a President of the United first service was to be to capture our forts. It was States. Its announcement of a mere paper block. a plain declaration of war, which I was not at liber- ade is so manifestly a violation of the law of nations, ty to disregard because of my knowledge that, under that it would seem incredible that it could have been the Constitution of the United States, the President issued by authority—but conceding this to be the was usurping a power granted exclusively to the case, so far as the Executive is concerned, it will be Congress. He is the sole organ of communication difficult to satisfy the people of these States that between that country and foreign Powers. The law their late Confederates will sauction its declarations, of nations did not permit me to question the author. will determine to ignore the usages of civilized naity of the Executive of a foreign nation to declare tions, and will inaugurate a war of extermination war against this Confederacy. Although I might on both sides, by treating as pirates open enemies have refrained from taking active measures for our acting under authority of commissions issued by an defense, if the States of the Union had all imitated organized Government. If such proclamation was the action of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, issued, it could only have been published under the Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, by denouncing sudden influence of passion, and we may rest assur: the call for troops as a constitutional usurpation of ed mankind will be spared the horrors of the conflict power to which they refused to respond, I was not at it seems to invite. liberty to disregard the fact that many of the States “For the details of the administration of the difseemed quite content to submit to the exercise of the ferent Departments, I refer to the reports of the power assumed by the President of the United States, Secretaries which accompany this message. and were actively engaged in levying troops to be * The State Department has furnished the neces. used for the purpose indicated in the proclamation. sary instructions for three Commissioners who have
Deprived of the aid of Congress at the moment, | been sent to England, France, Russia and Belgium, I was under the necessity of confining my action to since your adjournment, to ask our recognition as a a call on the States for volunteers for the common member of the family of nations, and to make with defense, in accordance with the authority you had cach of those powers treaties of amity and comcontider] to me before your adjournment. Ideemed
Further steps will be taken to enter into it proper further to issue proclamation inviting ap. I like negotiations with the other European powers,