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hitherto proved intractable. In electing that body, the people
. had decided for the Union by a very large majority. What show or pretense of right, even on Secession principles, had these representatives to repudiate alike the clearly expressed wishes of their constituents and their own personal pledges? In the hope of gaining some plausible pretext for such an act of double perfidy, to be used in connection, with threats rapidly growing into a reign of terror, a committee of three was appointed by the Convention, just at the time of the impending attack on Fort Sumter, to wait on the President, avowedly to ascertain his intended policy toward the rebellious States. Mr. Lincoln granted this committee an interview on the 13th of April, and gave them the subjoined response :
To Hon. Messrs. PRESTON, STUART and RANDOLPH—Gentlemen : As a committee of the Virginia Convention, now in session, you present me a preamble and resolution in these words :
“ WHEREAS, In the opinion of this Convention, the uncertainty which prevails in the public mind as to the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue toward the seceded States, is extremely injurious to the industrial and commercial interests of the country, tends to keep up an excitement which is unfavorable to the adjustment of the pending difficulties, and threatens a disturbance of the public peace; therefore,
"Resolved, That a committee of three delegates be appointed to wait on the President of the United States, present to him this preamble, and respectfully ask him to communicate to this Convention the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate States."
In answer I have to say, that having, at the beginning of my official term, expressed my intended policy as plainly as I was able, it is with deep regret and mortification I now learn there is great and injurious uncertainty in the public mind as to what that policy is, and what course I intend to pursue. Not having as yet seen occasion to change, it is now my purpose to pursue the course marked out in the inaugural address. I commend a careful consideration of the whole document as the best expression I can give to my purposes. As I then and therein said, I now repeat, “ The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess property and places belong ing to the Government, and to collect the duties and imports ; but beyond what is necessary for these objects there will be no
invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere."' By the words “property and places belonging to the Government," I chiefly allude to the military posts and property which were in possession of the Government when it came into my
hands. But if, as now appears to be true, in pursuit of a purpose to drive the United States authorities from these places, an unprovoked assault has been made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to repossess it, if I can, like places which had been seized before the Government was devolved upon me; and in any event I shall, to the best of my ability, repel force by force. In case it proves true that Fort Sumter has been assaulted, as is reported, I shall, perhaps, cause the United States mails to be withdrawn from all the States which claim to have seceded, believing that the commencement of actual war against the Government justifies and possibly demands it. I scarcely need to say that I consider the military posts and property situated within the States which claim to have seceded, as yet belonging to the Government of the United States as much as they did before the supposed secession. Whatever else I may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt to collect the duties and imposts by any armed invasion of any part of the country; not meaning by this, however, that I may not land a force deemed necessary to relieve a fort upon the border of the country. From the fact that I have quoted a part of the inaugural address, it must not be inferred that I repudiate any other part, the whole of which I reaffirm, except so far as what I now say of the mails may be regarded as a modification.
The Governors of Virginia and Kentucky, thoroughly in fellowship with the South Carolina policy from the outset, promptly sent back defiant messages in response to the President's call for troops. “Kentucky will furnish no troops," said Governor Magoffin, "for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States.” “ The militia of Virginia," wrote Letcher to Secretary Cameron, “will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view.” Similar was the reply of Governor Harris, of Ten
Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, with greater moderation in his language, plainly intimated his purpose not to respond to the President's call. On the 17th, the Virginia Convention, yielding at length to the artifices and intimidations of the busy conspirators, in whose service an ignorant mob was
conspicuous, passed, in the darkness of a secret conclave, an ordinance of secession. The processes resorted to for the accomplishment of this object were yet insufficient to move many honorable delegates from their fidelity, but the fatal majority was obtained. Although there was still to be, nominally, a vote of the people on this question, on the 23d of May, Union sentiments were no longer tolerated at Richmond. Violence and terror insured a majority for the insurrection in a State which, on a fair vote, would still have pronounced emphatically against secession.
The conspirators in North Carolina also triumphed, as was to be expected after this defection, and Tennessee and Arkansas followed. Thus four States were gained to the “Confederacy"-by no means through a fair or honest vote—as a result of the war begun in Charleston harbor. The desperate efforts to win over Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, utterly failed, as would have been the case with the other four States, just named, had the pacific policy of the Administration been permitted to continue.
The week following the President's proclamation was crowded with important events. Public meetings were held all through the loyal States, and the response to the call for troops was hearty and universal. Companies and regiments' were rapidly filled up and started for the National Capital. But a few hours intervened before Massachusetts had one regi.
a ment at its rendezvous, and ready for departure. Pennsylvania and New York were on the alert, and a battalion of volunteers, from the former State, were the first to reach Washington, while the New York Seventh was at nearly the same time on its way. The spirit already roused throughout the country was greatly intensified by the attempts of a secession mob in Baltimore to prevent the passage of the Massachusetts Sixth through that city. Here the first blood of Union troops was shed, on an ever memorable anniversary, the 19th day of April. Enlistments followed with such rapidity, that it was soon only a question whose services should be declined, of the tens of thousands offering themselves.
The city of Washington, an object of threatened attack, and thronged with people, who either openly proclaimed their hostility to the Government, or were of doubtful fidelity, was full of excitement- liable at any moment to an emeute or to an irruption of rebel troops already in the field in Virginia. Alexandria was in their possession, or easily accessible at any moment from Richmond. Rumors were current of an immediate intention on the part of the Confederate leaders to occupy Arlington Heights, completely commanding the city, while as yet only a few companies of the regular service, with two or three light field batteries, were in Washington for its defense. To these were added a few hundred volunteer militia, made up chiefly of transient sojourners at the Capital. A few dragoons, with a detachment of artillery, guarded the Long Bridge, and the Navy Yard and other portions of the city had a small guard of extemporized infantry. There was also a single company of sappers and miners, under Lieut. (now General) Weitzel. Thus passed an anxious week, while every exertion was made by the Government and its loyal supporters to assemble an adequate defensive force. How easily the place might have been taken, with not one of the present numerous and strong fortifications, with no army but half a dozen scattered companies of infantry, cavalry and artillery, and with so large a number within ready to rise and give active welcome to the assailing force they so eagerly expected, need not here be discussed. From one extremity of the country to the other, the danger was seen and felt. The few days needful, fortunately were gained.
The 19th of April is further memorable for the proclamation issued on that day, declaring a blockade of every port of the States in insurrection, in the following terms:
WHEREAS, An insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue can not be efficiently executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States :
AND WHEREAS, A combination of persons, engaged in such
insurrection, have threatened to grant pretended letters of marque to authorize the bearers thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and property of good citizens of the country lawfully engaged in commerce on the high seas, and in waters of the United States :
AND WHEREAS, An Executive Proclamation has already been issued, requiring the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to desist therefrom, calling out a militia force for the purpose of repressing the same, and convening Congress in extraordinary session to deliberate and determine thereon:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the protection of the public peace, and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations, until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings, or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and of the laws of nations in such cases provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave any of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will indorse on her register the fact and date of such warning; and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize as may be deemed ad visable.
And I hereby proclaim and declare, that if any person, under the pretended authority of said States, or under any other pretense, shall molest a vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board of her, such person will be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the prevention and punishment of piracy. By the President:
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State. Washington, April 19, 1861.
Intelligence having been received that Virginia troops were marching on Harper's Ferry, to take possession of the important Government property there, the public works were destroyed and the place evacuated by Lieut. Jones, the commandant. Almost simultaneously the Fourth Massachusetts