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burg, Va., and of the substitution of another person in his place?
2. Why is it that these proceedings have been carried out on my part without affording you any information of my contemplated action ?
3. Upon whose suggestion was I led to remove Mr. West, and by whose recommendations was I induced to appoint his successor ?
4. And, finally, whether the same policy of secretly decapitating your friends is to be acted upon hereafter as the settled rule of the Department?
These are plain questions, stated nearly in your own language, and, in view of the custom which for a number of years has prevailed in the Department, of consulting members of Congress in regard to appointments and removals in their respective districts, it is not unnatural and perhaps not unreasonable that you should ask them. But you will excuse me for remarking, in all kindness, that, in the first place, it is contrary to the rule of the Department to communicate written answers to such inquiries; and, secondly, that the right which you seem to claim, of controlling the appointments in your district, has no existence in fact. Excepting the comparatively few cases in which the law imposes this duty on the President and Senate, the power of appointing the officers of this Department rests exclusively with the Postmaster-General, who alone is responsible for its proper exercise. By courtesy, the member, when agreeing politically with the administration, is very generally consulted with respect to appointments in his district; but his advice is by no means considered as binding on the Department, nor is the Postmaster-General precluded, even by courtesy, from making removals or appointments on satisfactory information, as in the present instance, exclusively from other reliable sources. When the member is politically opposed to the administration, it is not usual to consult him.
Here I might close; but, since you have asked these questions, evidently under the honest impression that it is my duty to answer them, I will disregard the rule so far as to reply to the first, second, and fourth, simply stating, with reference to the third, that I respectfully decline giving the names of the parties by whose suggestions and recommendations I have been guided in making the change.
To the first, then, I have to inform you that Mr. West was removed for leaving his route without permission from the Department, and actively engaging in a movement the avowed object of which is to induce the withdrawal of Virginia from the Union. In other words, he was discharged for undertaking to destroy the Government from whose treasury he was drawing the means of daily subsistence and whose Constitution he had solemnly sworn to support.
Your second and fourth interrogatories may be answered together. I did not advise with you because I had good reason to believe that you were yourself, honestly, I doubt not, fully committed to the secession interest in your State. As to the policy to be pursued in the future towards your friends in office, I can speak only of what may be done in the few remaining days of this administration; and I hesitate not to assure you that if, during this short time, any other cases like the present come before me, I shall esteem it my imperative duty to pursue the course adopted in this instance.
This being not strictly an official letter, I may be pardoned for adding that I am for the Union without reservation, equally against disunionists at the South and abolitionists at the North, and for the just rights of all sections in the Union. I have the honor to be, Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HORATIO KING. Hon. A. G. JENKINS,
House of Representatives.
THE PEACE CONVENTION.
A Little Secret History-Order Calling Out the Troops on February 22,
The strong prejudice which existed against President Buchanan at the breaking out of the civil war, and not yet entirely dispelled from the minds of many of his political opponents, may, in a great degree, be truly ascribed to a misapprehension of his real motives and modes of action. As a case in point, there is a little piece of secret history which, in justice to his memory, ought no longer to be kept concealed. It relates to a private letter of his to ex-President Tyler which was found among Mr. Tyler's papers when his house was entered by United States soldiers during the
It was written when the Peace Convention, presided over by Mr. Tyler, was in session in Washington. The warmest relations existed between him and President Buchanan, and great hopes were based on the action of that Convention. As a matter of course, the President was anxious to avoid everything which might, in the remotest degree, disturb its tranquillity, and, in deference to Mr. Tyler's judgment and wishes, he had indicated a willingness to dispense with the usual parade of United States troops on the occasion of the celebration of Washington's birthday, the 22d of February. Meantime, as a matter of routine, the Secretary of War, Honorable Joseph Holt, had, without, of course, consulting the President, given the customary order calling out the troops on that day. Meeting the Secretary late on the evening of the 21st, the President, having committed himself to Mr. Tyler, was much concerned to learn that such an order had been issued, and that, in all probability, it was too late, as it proved, to prevent its insertion in the National Intelligencer, to which it had in the regular course of events been sent for promulgation. Greatly fearing from Mr. Tyler's representations that the people might accept the display as a menacing demonstration, especially as a troop of Flying Artillery just ordered from the West for the protection of the capital was to form part of the military procession, the President at once directed that the order be countermanded, and General Scott was so informed in time to prevent the assembling of the United States troops on the morning of the 22d. All this, however, was unknown to the people, who had filled the streets and avenues in expectation of witnessing the grand parade; and after waiting impatiently an hour or more for the appearance of the United States troops, only the militia of the District having come out, a startling rumor reached the ears of the crowd that the order which had appeared in the Intelligencer calling out the troops had been countermanded; thereupon a distinguished friend of the President (Daniel E. Sickles, M.C.) hastened to the War Department, where he found the President and the Secretary of War together, and in a state of great excitement inquired if the rumor was correct. Learning that it was, his earnest protest and representations made so deep an impression on the President that he authorized the Secretary of War to confer immediately with General Scott, in order to see, late as it was, if the original order could not be carried into effect. This was done, and, although General Scott said the soldiers had been dismissed and all of the officers had doffed their uniforms, rendering it doubtful whether the order could be obeyed, nevertheless he would, if possible, see it executed. Fortunately, he succeeded, and everything passed off well. The next morning the Intelligencer said:
"The military parade was, of course, the chief feature of the day. It might be said the double military parade, for, while that of the morning was composed of the militia companies only, there was a subsequent general parade, in which the United States troops formed a conspicuous part. The artillery were the especial mark of interest, and their parade on Pennsylvania Avenue dissipated all sense of fatigue from the thousands who had been abroad from almost “the dawn of day. The rapidity with which the guns and magazines were manned and prepared for action was startling to those unaccustomed to artillery practice. While they were on the avenue they were at times as completely enveloped in the dust they stirred up as they would have been in the smoke of battle."
Thus we have briefly the main circumstances under which the following letter was written, on account of which letter President Buchanan has been severely censured. It was a simple explanation to Mr. Tyler of the reasons which had led him to permit the military display, that under the previous understanding would not otherwise have taken place.
“WASHINGTON, February 22, 1861. “MY DEAR SIR, I find it impossible to prevent two or three companies of the Federal troops from joining in the procession to-day with the volunteers of the district without giving serious offence to the tens of thousands of people who have assembled to witness the parade.
The day is the anniversary of Washington's birth,-a festive occasion throughout the land, -and it has been particularly marked by the House of Representatives. These troops everywhere else join such processions in honor of the birthday of the Father of his Country, and it would be hard to assign a good reason why they should be excluded from this privilege in the capital founded by himself. They are here simply as a posse comitatus to aid the civil authorities in case of need. Besides, the programme was published in the National Intelligencer of this morning without my knowledge, the War Department having considered the celebration of this national anniversary by the military arm of the Government as a matter of course. “From your friend, very respectfully,
“JAMES BUCHANAN. “MR. TYLER."
Happily, as already observed, the celebration was a success; and what was especially gratifying, the presence and wonderful manœuvring of the light artillery companies, not forgetting the splendid bearing of the dragoons, and the dismounted companies, headed by Duane's detachment of sappers and miners, had the effect to allay, in a great