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from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises ; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises are. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just; but their premises being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the Northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with im. posing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery; that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle—a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of man. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds we should succeed, and that he and his associates in their crusade against our institutions would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as well as in physics and mechanics, I admitted, but told him that it was he and those acting with him who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.
"In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world."
We have thus traced the course of events in the Southern States during the three months that succeeded the election of President Lincoln. Let us now see what took place in Washington during the same time. Congress met on the 3d of December and the Message of President Buchanan was at once sent in. That document ascribed the discontent of the Southern States to the alleged fact that the violent agitation in the North against slavery had created disaffection among the slaves, and created apprehensions of servile insurrection. The President vindicated the hostile action of the South, assuming that it was prompted by these apprehensions; but went on to show that there was no right on the part of any State to secede from the Union, while at the same time he contended that the General Government had no right to make war on any State for the purpose of preventing it from seceding, and closed this portion of bis Message by recommending an amendment of the Constitution which should explicitly recognize the right of property in slaves, and provide for the protection of that right in all the territories of the United States. The belief that the people of South Carolina would make an attempt to seize one or more of the forts in the harbor of Charleston, created considerable uneasiness at Washington; and on the 9th of December the Representatives from that State wrote to the President expressing their “strong convictions” that no such attempt would be made previous to the action of the State Convention, "provided that no re-enforcements should be sent into those forts, and their relative military status shall remain as at present.” On the 10th of December Howell Cobb resigned his office as Secretary of the Treasury, and on the 14th Gen. Cass resigned as Secretary of State. The latter resigned because the President refused to re-enforce the forts in the harbor of Charleston. On the 20th the State of South Carolina passed the ordinance of secession, and on the 26th Major Anderson transferred his garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. On the 29th John B. Floyd resigned his office as Secretary of War, alleging that the action of Major Anderson was in violation of pledges given by the Government that the military status of the forts at Charleston should remain unchanged, and that the President had declined to allow him to issue an order, for which he had applied on the 27th, to withdraw the garrison from the harbor of Charleston. On the 29th of December, Messrs. Barnwell, Adams, and Orr arrived at Washington, as Commissioners from the State of South Carolina, and at once opened a correspondence with President Buchanan, asking for the delivery of the forts and other government property at Charleston to the authorities of South Carolina. The President replied on the 30th, reviewing the whole question-stating that in removing from Fort Moultrie Major Anderson acted solely on his own responsibility, and that his first impulse on hearing of it was to order him to return, but that the occupation of the fort by South Carolina and the seizure of the arsenal at Charleston had rendered this impossible. The Commissioners replied on the 1st of January, 1861, insisting that the President bad pledged himself to maintain the status of affairs in Charleston harbor previous to the removal of Major Anderson from Fort Moultrie, and calling on him to redeem this pledge. This communication the President returned.
On the 8th of January the President sent a Message to Congress, calling their attention to the condition of public affairs, declaring that while he had no right to make aggressive war upon any State, it was his right and his duty to “use military force defensively against those who resist the Federal officers in the execution of their legal functions, and against those who assail the property of the Federal Government;"—but throwing the whole responsibility of meeting the extraordinary emergencies of the occasion upon Congress. On the same day Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, resigned his office as Secretary of the Interior, because the Star of the West had been sent on the 5th, by order of the Government, with supplies for Fort Sumter, in violation, as he alleged, of the decision of the Cabinet. the 10th, P. F. Thomas, of Maryland, who had replaced Howell Cobb as Secretary of the Treasury, resigned, and was succeeded by Gen. John A. Dix, of New York.
The debates and the action of Congress throughout the session related mainly to the questions at issue between the two sections. The discussion opened on the 3d of December as soon as the President's Message had been read. The Southern resistance; and soon became evident that this purpose had been long cherished, and that members of the government under the Presidency of Mr. BUCHANAN had officially given it their sanction and aid. On the 29th of October GENERAL Scort sent to the President and John B. Floyd, his Secretary of War, a letter expressing apprehensions lest the Southern people should seize some of the Federal forts in the Southern States, and advising that they should be immediately garrisoned by way of precaution. The Secretary of War, according to statements subsequently made by one of his eulogists in Virginia, “thwarted, objected, resisted, and forbade" the adoption of those measures, which, according to the same authority, if carried into execution, would have defeated the conspiracy, and rendered impossible the formation of a Southern Confederacy. An official report from the ordnance department, dated January 16, 1861, also shows that during the year 1860, and previous to the Presidential election, 115,000 muskets had been removed from Northern armories and sent to Southern arsenals by a single order of the Secretary of War, issued on the 30th of December, 1859. On the 20th of November the Attorney-General, Hon. John S. BLACK, in reply to inquiries of the President, gave him the official opinion that Congress had no right to carry on war against any State, either to prevent a threatened violation of the Constitution or to enforce an acknowledgment that the Government of the United States is supreme: and it soon became evident that the President adopted this theory as the basis and guide of his Executive action.
South Carolina took the lead in the secession movement. Her legislature assembled on the 4th of November, 1860, and, after casting the electoral vote of the State for John C. BEECKINRIDGE to be President of the United States, passed an act the next day calling a State Convention to meet at Columbia on the 17th of December. On the 10th, F. W. Pickens was
elected Governor, and, in his inaugural, declared the determination of the State to secede, on the ground that, in the recent election for President and Vice-President, the Norik had carried the election upon principles that make it no longer safe for us to rely upon the powers of the Federal Governmezt or the guarantees of the Federal Compact. This," he addei, " is the great overt act of the people of the Northern Siaier who propose to inaugurate a chief magistrate not to preside over the common interests or destinies of all the States alke, but upon issues of malignant hostility and uncompromising war to be waged upon the rights, the interests, and the peace of half of the States of this Union.” The Convention met on the 17th of December, and adjourned the next day to Charies ton, on account of the prevalence of small pox at Columbia On the 20th an ordinance was passed unanimously repeating the ordinance adopted May 23, 1788, whereby the Constitu. tion of the United States was ratified, and - dissolving the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States under the name of the United States of America;" and on the 24th the Governor issued his proclamation, declaring the State of South Carolina to be a " separate, sovereign, free, and independent State."
This was the first act of secession passed by any Siate. The debates in the State Convention show clearly enough that it was not taken under the impulse of resentment for any sharp and remediless wrong, nor in apprehension that any such wrong would be inflicted; but in pursuance of a settled and long-cherished purpose. In that debate Mr. Parker said that the movement was “no spasmodic effort—it had been gradually culminating for a long series of years.” Mr. Inglis endorsed this remark, and added, “ Most of us have had this matter under consideration for the last twenty years.” Mr. L. M. Keitt said, “ I have been engaged in this movement ever since I entered political life." And Mr. Rhett, who had been