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cesses which have alarmed all, and been sources of profound humiliation to a large portion of the American people. Its history is a history of surprises, and treacheries, and thless spoliations. The forts of the United States have been captured and garrisoned, and hostile flags unfurled upon their ramparts. Its arsenals have been seized, and the vast amount of public arms they contained appropriated to the use of the captors, while more than half a million of dollars, found in the Mint at New Orleans, have been unscrupulously applied to replenish the coffers of Louisiana. Officers in command of revenue cutters of the United States, have been prevailed on to violate their trusts, and surrender the pro. perty in their charge; and instead of being branded for their crimes, they, and the vessels they betrayed, have been cordially received into the service of the seceded States.
“At what time the armed occupation of Washington City became a part of the revolutionary programme, is not certainly known; more than six weeks ago, the impression had already extensively obtained, that a conspiracy for the accomplishment of this guilty purpose was in process of formation, if not fully matured. The earnest endeavors made by men known to be devoted to the revolution, to hurry Virginia and Maryland out of the Union, were regarded as preparatory steps for the subjugation of Washington.
“The nature and power of the testimony thus accumulated may be best estimated by the effect produced upon the popular mind. Apprehensions for the safety of the capitol were communicated from points near and remote, by men unquestionably reliable and loyal. The resident population became disquieted, and the repose of many families in the city was known to be disturbed by painful anxieties. 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 defences of the capitol should be strengthened. With such warnings, it could not be forgotten that, had the early admonitions which reached here in regard to the designs of lawless men upon the forts of Charleston harbor, been acted on by sending forward adequate reinforcements before the revolution began, the disastrous political complications that ensued might not have occurred.
“Impressed by these circumstances and considerations, I earnestly besought you to allow the concentration at this city of a sufficient military force, to preserve the public peace from all the dangers that seemed to threaten it. An open manifestation on the part of the administration of a determination, as well as of the ability to maintain the laws, would, I was convinced, prove the surest as also the most pacific means of baslling and dissolving any conspiracy that might have been organized. It was believed, too, that the highest and most solemn responsibility resting upon a President withdrawing from the government was, to secure to his successor a peaceful inauguration.”
The words of this address were the first official declaration to the world, that the government would, if necessary, employ force to defend the Constitution and enforce the laws of the nation. The rebels now gave up all hopes of peaceful separation. The government was now pledged to the loyal people, to use force to hold. occupy and possess the public property and collect the lawful duties and imports. The conspirators in this, the declared purpose of the new administration, had but two alternatives: either they must surrender the forts, arsenals, mints, custom houses, vessels and other public property, and acknowledge their ordinances of secession to be void, or they must defend them with armed force. Nothing was more foreign to the purposes of the selfconstituted officers of the conspiracy, than submission to the authority of Mr. Lincoln's administration. They chose the terrible alternative of civil war.
The leaders felt the necessity of arousing the people and of creating a popular furor in favor of the Confederacy. They resolved to take the initiative in open hostilities, and by storming some weakly garrisoned fort, and hoisting the Confederate banner on the proud place, honored by the flag of the nation, "fire the heart of the South,” and amid excitement and confusion, create an army that would be able successfully to resist the small standing army of the Union. It was supposed that the South, once committed to war, woull be compelled by pride to support the leaders, and continue the conflict. Every possible preparation was made, with all the expedition the facilities at their command would admit of, for an attack on Fort Sumter, in. Charleston harbor. Fortifications were erected on the islands opposite the fort, iron-clad batteries were constructed in every available position on shore, and formidable engines of war floated in the harbor. To man these and to defend the city they had collected at Charleston an army of ten thousand men.
On the 11th of April, the rebels sent a demand to the United States garrison to surrender. Major Robert Anderson replied that “his sense of honor and his obligation to the government would prevent his compliance.” He, however, at the same time, informed them that the garrison were nearly starved out, and if no supplies reached them before the 15th, they would be compelled to surrender.
A peaceful surrender would not accomplish the purposes of the rebel leaders, and hence, at half past four o'clock on the morning of the 12th of April, the rebels, commanded by General Beauregard, opened fire upon Fort Sumter and the flag of the United States, and thus inaugurated a civil war, which was to cost more than two hundred thousand lives, to distress and impoverish countless families, to imperil the existence of free institutions, and to subvert the doctrine of republican governments. This outrage upon our country's flag was received throughout the rebellious States with ail the demonstrations of pride and joy. The conduct of the last administration at Washington had brought the people in the South to look upon the government with contempt, and they had no apprehensions that it would now manifest suficient vitality to attempt to punish their treason.
The action of the rebels at Charleston was telegraphed throughout the States, and when the people heard that Fort Sumter had been captured, after two days' bombardment, and that the national flag had been hauled down to make room for the banner of traitors, the land was filled with patriotic indignation. The uprising at the North was such as the world never witnessed before. Up to the day of the attack on Sumter, there were few men in the North who believed the rebels would commence civil war. The threats and bluster of the Southern politicians were regarded as a more violent repetition of similar demonstrations in the past. As the news of the insult to the national dignity, of the battle and of the capture of the fort by the rebels was flashed along the wires and radiated from every station, excitement, unparalleled in the history of the world, pervaded every city, hamlet and fireside. Party distinctions were forgotten, and a united people thought only of the public peril and of means to defend the government.
On the 15th of April, President Lincoln issued a proclamation, calling out 75,000 volunteers, to serve during a term of three months, and at the same time summoned Congress to convene in extra session on the 4th of July. Never, perhaps,' were a people found less prepared for war, than were the people of the Northern States, yet the response to this call for troops was prompt and cordial. Four days after the date of the call, troops from States remote from the capital were already thronging its streets, and the War Department was overwhelmed with men anxious to serve in defence of their country.
The President had exercised, in the organization of his administration, a wise and liberal judgment. William H. Seward, of New York, was appointed Secretary of State; Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania, Secretary of War; Gideon Welles, of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, Postmaster-General; Edward Bates, of Missouri, Attorney-General; Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, Secretary of the Interior.
Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, thus describes the condition of his department when he entered upon his duties: “Upon my appointment to the position, I found the department destitute of all means of defence; without guns and with little prospect of purchasing the material of war. I found the nation without any army, and I found scarcely a man throughout the whole War Department in whom I could put my trust. The Adjutant-General deserted. The Quartermaster-General ran off. The Commissary-General was on his death-bed. More than half the clerks were disloyal.” This was the condition of the War Department little more than a month before 75,000 troops were called into the field, and the capital of the nation menaced by a well organized army.
Immediately after the capture of Sumter, Jefferson Davis, the proclaimed head of the conspirators, issued a proclamation, authorizing privateers to be fitted out in all the ports of the South, to prey upon the commerce of the United States. Against these piratical vessels, the vast merchant marine of the United States was utterly defenceless. Treachery had dismantled and dispersed the fleet, and there were no convoys to guard the merchantmen. As a protection against the rebel privateers, the President, on the 19th of April, announced the blockade of all the ports in the seceded States. At the same time, the Secretary of the Navy put forth all the strength of his department to create a navy, and in less than three months, over three hundred vessels of war were in active service.
Encouraged by the successful attack on Sumter, the rebels prepared to make a desperate effort to gain possession of Washington before the North could gather forces for its defence. A plot was formed for the capture of the city, by a conspiracy of Virginians with prominent secessionists in Washington, leagued with traitors of influence and wealth in Baltimore. The Virginians, to the number of about three thousand, were to seize the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, which contained twenty-five thousand stand of arms, and thus supply themselves with weapons and ammunition. They