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Events showed that the course thus adopted was incorrect. But it is to be borne in mind that Mr. Seward had not in the State Department a board of confidential advisers such as exists in similar departments in Europe, and much must in excuse be attributed to the urgency and confusion of the times, and to the inexperience of a new administration.
The blockade proclamation bore upon its face a pureThe proclamation ly defensive character. It recited that an of the blockade. insurrection had broken out in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, in which states the revenue laws could no longer be executed; that the persons combined in this insurrection had threatened to grant letters of marque against the commerce of the United States. It called attention to the President's proclamation just previously issued, and announced that a blockade of the ports of the states aforesaid would be forthwith established. It concluded by declaring that persons molesting the commerce of the United States in the manner threatened would be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the prevention and punishment of piracy.
On the 27th of April, by another proclamation, the An additional block- ports of Virginia and North Carolina were ade proclamation. included. The whole Southern coast was therefore now embraced.
The political effect of a blockade is different from that of a closure of ports: the latter is purely a blockade and of a a domestic affair; the former carries with it grave international consequences. A nation can not blockade its own ports, but only those of a foreign power. In the special case under the consideration of the government, the course which was taken invested by implication the Southern Confederacy with the rights of an independent power, raising it into the position of a
lawful belligerent, and conceding that it was not to be treated as in rebellion, but as engaged in lawful war.
Had a closure of the ports been resorted to, all questions arising under it would have been dealt with, not by international, but by municipal law. The government might, if such were its pleasure, consider those engaged in secession in the light of rebels, and apply against them the penalties of treason.
It must not be overlooked, however, that in effectiveness the Blockade has advantages over the Closure. Action against an offender under the latter could take place lawfully only in American waters; under the former there might be pursuit out in the open sea.
The incorrect position into which things were brought by this selection was quickly discovered. In mistake in proclaim- a dispatch of Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams, May 21, 1861, it had been declared that the crews of Confederate privateers should be treated as pirates, as had been announced in the proclamation; but the government was constrained to recede from that position, and consider them as prisoners of war. The blockade had acknowledged them as belligerents.
Nor was it alone as regards persons taken at sea that the consequences of this false step were manifested. The government had evidently brought itself into an embar rassed position in all its dealings with the Confederacy. It had given to foreign powers disposed to unfriendly acts the excuse that it had itself been the first to confer on the insurgents belligerent rights.
But the conspirators, on their side, were not inactive. Not only had they issued a proclamation of fering letters of marque against the commerce of the nation: they had garrisoned all the forts they had seized; they were rapidly transporting an army of 20,000 men into Virginia; they had ob
The secessionists issue letters of marque.
DEFENSIVE MEASURES OF THE GOVERNMENT. [SECT. VII.
tained a loan of eight millions of dollars for war purposes.
They raised a cry throughout the South against the tyrannical coercion to which they affirmed the govern. ment was about to resort. In the tempest of passion thus excited the secession of Virginia was accomplished. Finding itself environed by treason, the government, on the 20th of April, caused to be seized all seizes telegrams of the dispatches which had accumulated in the various telegraph offices during the past year, the avowed object being the detection of movements that had been made in aid of the conspiracy. A more important end, however, was gained in the paralyzing or prevention of such movements for the future. Later, in the summer (August 26th), with a view of preventing the post-offices being used for disloyal purposes, the Postmaster General directed that certain newspapers, which had been presented by a grand jury as disloyal, should not be forwarded by the mails.
During May and June the secessionists were energetically raising and organizing troops and transporting them to Virginia and the other Border States. At the close of that pe riod the force amounted to more than 100,000 men. There was no other course for the United States govern. ment than to make similar preparations for its own de fense. On the 3d of May the President issued a procla mation calling for 42,034 volunteers for three years, ordering 22,714 officers and men to be added to the regular army, and 18,000 seamen to the navy. Shortly afterward, by a proclamation dated May 10th, he ordered the commander of the United States forces in Florida to permit no person to exercise any office or authority upon the islands of Key West, the Tortugas, and Santa Rosa inconsistent with
Great military preparations of the secessionists.
The government calls out more troops,
CHAP. XXXIV.] ATTITUDE TOWARD FOREIGN POWERS.
the laws and Constitution of the United States; author
And suspends the izing him, if needful, to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and to remove from the vicinity of the United States fortresses all dangerous or sus pected persons.'
The attitude assumed toward foreign 'powers by the government is indicated by the instructions given to Mr. Adams, the minister at the English court. He is directed to express the appreciation of the American government for the marks of good-will which had been shown to the United States, but to be careful not to rely on any such sympa thies or national kindness. He is to make no admission of the weakness of his government, but rather to assert its strength. He is to listen to no suggestions of compromise of the present disputes under any foreign auspices. If he finds the English government tolerating the appli Instructions to the cation of the seceding states, or wavering about it, he must not for a moment leave them to suppose that they can grant that application and remain friends of the United States. Promptly he is to assure them that if they determine to recognize, they must, at the same time, prepare to enter into alliance with the enemies of the republic. He is to represent in London his whole country, not a part of it. If he is asked to divide that duty with others, diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the American republic will be at once suspended.
He is forbidden to rest his opposition to the applica tion of the Confederate States on any ground of favor, or to draw into debate before the British government any opposing moral principles at the foundation of the exist ing controversy. He must indulge in no expressions of harshness, disrespect, or even impatience toward the seceding states or their people, but steadfastly bear in mind
Relations of the republic to foreign countries.
THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF THE TIME.
The first may be conveniently designated the New En The New England gland idea. Its embodiment would have been the Union expanding all over the continent a vast republic inhabited altogether by free men, and resting on individual intelligence.
The second or Southern idea would have been realized by the consolidation of the Slave States unThe Southern idea. der one strong government of a purely mil itary type, and separated from the Free States of the Union. Such a government, accepting negro slave its essential basis, would have renewed the African trade. It would have looked forward to territorial expansion round the Mexican and Caribbean Seas, and expected eventually to embrace the West India Islands. In cotton, sugar, coffee, and other tropical products it would have found sources of vast wealth, and in the possession of the mouths of the Mississippi a control over all the interior of the North American continent.
An embodiment of the first of these ideas would therefore have been a republic founded on Reason; an embod iment of the second would have been a military empire founded on Force.
The former had innate strength; it was in harmony with the spirit of the age; it accepted the traditions of the republic founded by Washington. It had therefore a past history, and was identified with Liberty, Justice, Progress.
The second was in opposition to the conclusions of modern civilization. Its success implied Injustice, Oppression, and Violence. Nevertheless, as a political conception, it was not without barbaric splendor.
Simultaneously there also existed with these two ideas a minor but not unimportant influence. Its tion of the Demo- representatives were found in a portion of the Democratic party-that party which long,
Position of a por