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PROJECTED SEIZURE OF WASHINGTON.
existence was entertained by multitudes there can be no doubt, and that belief I fully shared. My conviction rested not only on the facts already alluded to, but upon information, some of which was of a most conclusive character. Superadded to these proofs were the oft-repeated declarations of men in high political positions here, and who were known to have intimate affiliations with the revolution, if, indeed, they did not hold its reins in their hands, to the effect that Mr. Lincoln would not and should not be inaugurated in Washington. Such declarations from such men could not be treated as empty bluster. They were the solemn utterances of those who well understood the import of their words, and who, in the exultation of the temporary victories gained over their country's flag in the South, felt assured that events would soon give them the power to verify their predictions. Simultaneously with these prophetic warnings, a Southern journal of large circulation and influence, and which is published near the City of Washington, advocated its seizure as a possible political necessity.
"The nature and power of the testimony thus accumulated may be best estimated by the effect produced upon the popular mind. Members of Congress too, men of calm and comprehensive views, and of undoubted fidelity to their country, frankly expressed their solicitude to the President and to this Department, and formally insisted that the defenses of the capital should be strengthened.
and of preventing the inauguration of Lincoln.
The President is urged to bring troops to the metropolis,
"Impressed by these circumstances and considerations, I earnestly besought you to allow the concentration in this city of a sufficient military force. To those who de sire the destruction of the republic, the presence of these troops is necessarily offensive; but those who sincerely love our institutions can not fail to rejoice that by this
CHAP. XXXV.] ATTEMPTS TO HAVE THE TROOPS REMOVED. 5.1
which is according timely precaution they have possibly escaped the deep dishonor which they must have suffered, had the capital, like the forts and arsenals of the South, fallen into the hands of the revolutionists, who have found this great government weak only because, in the exhaustless beneficence of its spirit, it has refused to strike even in its own defense, lest it should wound the aggressor."
But this bringing of troops to the city was not accomplished without opposition. A resolution was offered in the House of Representatives "that the quartering of troops of the regular army in the District of Columbia. and around the Capitol, when not necessary for their protection from a hostile enemy, and during the Congress attempt to session of Congress, is impolitic and offensive, and, if permitted, may be destructive of civil liberty; and, in the opinion of this House, the reg ular troops now in this city ought forthwith to be removed therefrom."
The secessionists in
That resolution was offered by a member from North Carolina; but Jefferson Davis, who was soon to become the representative of the secession movement, would not only have extended the principle of national disarmament thus proposed to be applied to Washington to all the se ceding states-he would even have armed the arming of their them to the prejudice of the government. In the Senate (January 2d, 1861) he had of fered the following joint resolution:
and to for
"Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, That upon the application of a state, either through a Convention or the Legislature thereof, asking that the federal forces of the army and navy may be withdrawn from its limits, the President of the United States shall order the withdrawal of the federal garrisons, and take the needful security for the safety of the public property which may remain in said state. And be it further resolved, That whenever a State Convention duly and lawfully assembled shall enact that the
safety of the state requires it to keep troops and ships of war, the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to recognize the exercise of that power by the state, and by proclamation to give notice of the fact, for the information and government of all parties concerned.”
ATTEMPTS TO FAVOR SECESSION.
Mr. Mason, of Virginia, also, shortly after, offered a joint resolution to the effect that, in view of the secession of South Carolina, and the consequent suspension of the laws of the United States therein, and to avoid any hostile hostile collision between the authorities of that state and those of the United States, that the laws of the United States directing the mode in which the President shall use the army and navy in aid of the civil authorities executing the laws, and all laws for the collection of revenue, be suspended and made inoperative in the State of South Carolina.
A representative from North Carolina (February 11th, 1861) offered the following resolution:
and to suspend the national laws in South Carolina,
Whereas the States of South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana have seceded from the Confederacy of the United States, and have established a government under the name of the Confederacy of the United States South;' and whereas it is desirable that the most amicable relations should exist between the two governments, and war should be avoided as the greatest calamity which can befall them
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, etc., That the President of the United States be, and is hereby required to acknowledge the independence of the said government as soon as he is informed officially of its establishment, and that he receive such envoy, embassador, or commissioner as may or shall be appointed by such government for the purpose
and to acknowledge the independ
ence of the seced- of amicably adjusting the matters in dispute with
Meantime the navy
Such were the attempts to secure the military disarming of the government. Its naval disarmis dispersed. ing had been already and effectually accomplished.
CHAP. XXXV.] REPORT OF THE NAVAL COMMITTEE.
In reply to a resolution of inquiry of the House of Representatives respecting the navy, the committee reported (February 21st, 1861) "That the entire naval force available for the defense of the whole Atlantic coast consisted of the steamer Brooklyn, twenty-five guns, and the store-ship Relief, two guns, and that the former was of too great a draught to permit her to enter Charleston Harbor with safety except at spring tides, and the latter was under or ders to the coast of Africa, with stores for the African squadron. Thus the whole Atlantic sea-board has been to all intents and purposes without defense during all the period of civil commotion and lawless violence to which the President has called our attention as of "such vast and alarming proportions as to be beyond his power to check or control."
Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs.
Commenting on the fact that several of the most important ships had been dispatched to distant stations since the secession troubles had begun, the committee proceed to say:
"To the committee this disposition of the naval force at this critical time seems most extraordinary. The permitting of vessels to depart for distant seas after these unhappy difficulties had broken out at home, the omission to put in repair and commission, ready for orders, a single one of the twenty-eight ships dismantled and unfit for service in our own ports, and that, too, while $646,639 79 of the appropriation for repairs in the navy in the present year remained unexpended, were, in the opinion of the committee, grave errors in the administration of the Navy Department, the consequences of which have been manifest in the many acts of lawless violence to which they have called attention. The committee are of opinion that the secretary had it in his power, with the present naval force of the country at his command, and with
CENSURE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY. [SECT. VII.
out materially impairing the efficiency of the service abroad, at any time after the settled purpose of overthrowing the government had become manifest, and be fore that purpose had developed itself in overt acts of violence, to station at anchor, within reach of his own orders, a force equal to the protection of all the property and all the rights of the government and the citizens, as well as the flag of the country, from any outrage or insult at any point on the entire Atlantic sea-board. The failure to do this is without justification or excuse."
The committee proceeded also to comment with great severity on the Secretary of the Navy, in that he had ac cepted the resignations of navy officers, citizens of the dis loyal states, thereby enabling them to join the service of the insurgents without incurring the penalties of treason. They presented in detail several cases of an aggravated character, and recommended the adoption of the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy, in accepting, without delay or inquiry, the resignations of officers of the navy who were in arms against the government when tendering the same, and of those who sought to resign that they might be relieved from the restraint imposed by their commissions upon engaging in hostilities to the constituted authorities of the nation, has committed a grave error, highly prejudicial to the discipline of the service, and injurious to the honor and efficiency of the navy, for which he deserves the censure of this House."
Censure of secessionist Secretary of the Navy.
The resolution was agreed to by the House.
quarters of the
As the time approached for the contemplated meeting at Montgomery, the chief conspirators recomes the head- tired to that place, many persons of less conspiracy. importance, who were in hopes of place and emolument in the projected Confederacy, accompanying them. There remained, however, still in Washington, no inconsiderable number of their friends, who held clerk