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not already abolished, will have been destroyed as a political power and be in a condition speedily to be annihilated by the mighty current of emancipation sweeping southwardly from the border slave States; fraternity and brotherly love will resume their sway; we shall, I trust, all feel humbled and yet exalted by our trials, and ready devoutly to exclaim, “Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, THE LORD REIGNETH."
Very truly yours,
NOTE.—In reference to the above, I am quite sure I shall not only be excused, but that I shall receive the thanks of every loyal reader, for giving place here to the following letter, showing, as it does, the hearty approbation of one of the ablest, most eloquent, and patriotic of American states
WASHINGTON, December 12, 1863. My Dear SIR, I return your letter, which I have read with great gratification. It is fully up to the measure of loyalty and statesmanship demanded by the stern emergencies of the times, and cannot fail to meet with a grateful and appreciative reception from all true men. As a page in the volume of your patriotic life, I am sure that in the years to come you will look back upon it with unalloyed pleasure.
J. HOLT. Hon. HORATIO King.
PRESIDENT BUCHANAN'S RECORD.
A critic of the Atlantic Monthly criticised -General Dix's famous de
spatch-Opinions of Judge Black and General Holt.
If the spiteful, and what I cannot help characterizing as a juvenile, criticism of Mr. Curtis's “Life of Buchanan" in the November number of the Atlantic Monthly shall have the effect to induce the readers of that magazine to peruse his work for themselves, the labor of the critic may not fail entirely of good effect, for no one can read that work attentively without being convinced of the honesty of purpose, great ability, and wisdom of President Buchanan.
Not to enter into any lengthy discussion, let us quote a few of the critic's statements, with running remarks. Speaking of Mr. Buchanan's failure to receive the nomination for President in 1852, the writer says:
"The rejected candidate resigned himself to his disappointment and was consoled by the mission to England.”
The evidence presented by Mr. Curtis clearly shows that Mr. Buchanan consented reluctantly to accept the appointment to England, and finally agreed to take it only on condition that the “seat of negotiations,” especially including “the Central American questions,” should be at London instead of Washington. Again, says the critic:
“There is something very pitiable, something almost tragic, in the figure of James Buchanan during those last months of his administration. ... On Mr. Curtis's own showing-presumably the best that can be made-Buchanan failed miserably at the great crisis in the nation's life. He took the ground that he would not precipitate war by applying force to prevent a State from seceding, but that he would defend the flag and property of the United States."
The writer ought to know, what every school-boy knows who has studied the Constitution of the United States, that the President would have violated that instrument and broken his oath of office had he attempted of himself to “precipitate war by applying force to prevent a State from seceding.” Moreover, his great aim and most anxious desire was to avoid an open rupture, and this policy of forbearance was also pursued by President Lincoln until all hope of a peaceful settlement had to be abandoned. Says Mr. Gideon Welles, Mr. Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy:
“At the time of Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, and for several weeks thereafter, he and others indulged in the hope of a peaceful solution of the pending questions, and a desire, amounting almost to a belief, that Virginia and other border States might, by forbearance and a calm and conciliatory policy, continue faithful to the Union. . . . And to conciliate the people of Virginia and the convention then in session, the President desired that there should be no step taken which would give offence.”
In his message to Congress of the 4th of July, 1861, President Lincoln himself said :
“The policy chosen looked to the exhaustion of all peaceable measures before a resort to any stronger ones. It sought to hold the public places and property not already wrested from the Government, and to collect the revenue, relying for the rest on time, discussion, and the ballot-box. It promised a continuance of the mails at Government expense to the very people who were resisting the Government, and it gave repeated pledges against any disturbance to any of the people or any of 'heir rights. Of all that a president might constitutionally and justifiably do in such a case, everything was forborne without which it was possible to keep the Government on foot."
The Atlantic censor continues :
“General Dix sent his famous order [' If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot'], and says he did not show it to the President, because he knew the latter would not have allowed it to go forth. In other words, the President of the United States would have refused to order an officer of the Government to defend the national flag. It seems hardly worth while to write a volume in defence of a man who was in such a state of cowardly panic as that. Mr. Curtis says that Buchanan had no troops, and that Congress would not do anything to help him. He had enough troops to have fought on the instant, and at the first moment the flag was touched or a public building seized. The moment a move was made by the South he should have struck hard, and, whether defeated or victorious, the next breeze that swept from the North would have brought to his ear the clash of resounding arms. Congress did nothing for him for the obvious reason that they did not trust him. They knew that he was timid and time-serving, and they then thought him a traitor. Many people in the North could not believe that the South would really secede, and the leaders who saw what was coming were simply playing for time, and waiting until they could get a president in whom they could confide. The fact was that Mr. Buchanan was a very weak man, who had been a tool of stronger forces all his life.”
Now, in answer to all this tirade let me say, first, that I have no doubt General Dix was correct in the belief that President Buchanan would have objected to the sending of his famous order, although, knowing that I fully sympathized with him as regards the adoption of the most energetic measures in support of the Union, he told me of it the evening he sent it. I am free to say, too, that it met my hearty approbation. But, after all, showing the true grit, as it certainly did, may there not be some doubt of its wisdom? Not only was no attempt whatever made to carry it into effect, but I have it from Mr. William Hemphill Jones himself, to whom the order was sent, that he was obliged to steal out of New Orleans to save his own neck.
Let me conclude with the handsome tribute which General Holt, in his pamphlet already cited, pays to his old chief, under date of October 8, 1883.
“I cannot close this communication without bearing emphatic testimony to the loyalty of President Buchanan throughout the troubled and trying scenes which marked the last months of his administration. With measureless responsibilities oppressing him, badgered by traitors and by the department of the Government which owed him sympathy and a loyal support, and standing, as he did, on the brink of a great national calamity, the imminence of which was awing all hearts, he was often cast down, but never unfaithful to his duties. Amid the blinding rancor of party strife he was constantly misunderstood and constantly misrepresented. He was not an aggressive man, nor at all given to violent forms of speech or of action. He shrunk from the contemplation of civil war and the bloodshed it would involve, and sought to postpone it to the last possible moment. But in all this there was no taint of disloyalty. While, however, uniformly gentle and suave in his modes, he was not the less firm in view of the ends to be finally attained. And yet it was this very gentleness and suavity-the result in part, perhaps, of his peculiar temperament, but yet more, it may be, of the training inseparable from his diplomatic career—which often misled men who paused not to reflect that iron hands are sometimes found in silken gloves.”
WASHINGTON, October 27, 1883.
GENESIS OF THE CIVIL WAR.
Fall of Fort Sumter-Acts of the Government and Major Anderson
Preceding the Fall—Defence of Buchanan's Administration-President Lincoln's Forbearance.
AFTER all that has been written on the subject of Fort Sumter, the failure to send reinforcements to Major Anderson, in command of the forts in Charleston harbor, and the charges brought against President Buchanan's administration on that account, it seems almost superfluous to attempt any further answer to such charges. No one who will read Mr. Buchanan's own account of the matter, as related in his book, entitled “Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion” (1866), followed in 1883 by Curtis's clear exposition in his “Life of James Buchanan,” need require more evidence to convince him that what was done, or left undone, in respect to reinforcements or supplies to those forts, affords no good ground of complaint against President Buchanan. Unfortunately, however, those books are beyond the reach of the general public; hence it is no uncommon