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The Minority Reports.
now so anxious to dissolve their connection with the Union.
“Florida, which contains less than one five-hundredth part of the white popula
tion of the Union, and a State which has cost us directly and indirectly not less than $40,000,000, and upon which the General Government annually ex
pends sums of money for her benefit, more than four times in excess of her contributions to the support of the Government, has raised her arm against the power which has so liberally sustained her.
"But we will not pursue this subject further. The Union of these States is a necessity, and will be preserved long after the misguided men who seek its overthrow are dead and forgotten, or if not forgot ten, only remembered as the attempted destroyers of the fairest fabric erected for the preservation of human liberty that the world ever saw.
"It is not to be preserved by compromises or sac
The Minority Re.
the way of compromise." The minority report, signed by the representatives of the Pacific coast, Messrs. Burch and Stout, declared the requisite vote for constitutional amendments by this Congress cannot be had; and since there is such a contrariety of views and opinions among members of the same party, as leave no hope from their action which would meet all demands, they were willing to refer the matters of difference between the North and South to the source of Federal power and the delegates elected with a view direct to their settlement. They concurred in many of the measures recommended by the majority, and reported a resolution additional to theirs. This resolution received 14 votes, while 15 voted against it in the Committee.
rifices of principles. South Carolina, it is believed, It proposed to call a National Constitutional
Thus ended the action of this important Committee. Its results, or want of results,
is fast learning the value of the Union, and the experience she is now acquiring will be of immeasureable value to her and her sister States, when she shall return to her allegiance. If other States insist upon the purchase of that knowledge in the school of ex-proclaimed to the people that the differperience at the price paid by South Carolina, while we may deprecate their folly, we cannot doubt its lasting value to them.
"Regarding the present discontent and hostility in the South as wholly without just cause, we submit the following resolution, which is the same as that recently offered in the United States Senate by Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire:
64 Resolved, That the provisions of the Constitution are ample for the preservation of the Union, and the protection of
all the material interests of the country; that it needs to be obeyed rather than amended, and our extrication from present difficulties is to be looked for in efforts to preserve and protect the public property and enforce the laws, rather than in new guarantees for particular interests, or compromises, or concessions to unreasonable demands.
ences between the two sections were too radical for the cure of compromise. The public in the North, thereafter, looked to the Executive for the preservation of the country-the means to be left to circumstances. In the South, the leaders of the movement for disunion hastened the action of States looking to the formation of a new government, that should be prepared to cope with any obstacles which the Federal Executive might oppose to the abrogation of its authority by the States. Prior to this, however, the affair of the Stat of the West, [see Chap. XII.], had aroused the loyal spirit of the North, while it reassured the revolutionists of the imminence of their danger and added to their zeal for the forma tion of their consolidated administration. Divided, they were powerless to meet the strong arm of the General Government: combined, they would offer such a front of defense and defiance as might induce the North to terms of peaceful separation. The speech of Mr. Yancey, before the Alabama Convention [see page 205,] in justification of the Convention's refusal to submit the Ordinance of Secession to a vote of the people-proves that the leaders considered the danger as overriding even the claims of the people.
Sailing of the Transport.
As stated, the Steamer Star of the West, loaded secretly in New York during the first week of January, by orders from the War Department, with provisions and munitions for Fort Sumter. She dropped down the Bay Saturday evening, January 5th. During the night two hundred choice troops were put on board from a steam-tug, dispatched from Governor's Island, and the vessel put to sea, steering directly for Charleston.
This departure was made known immediately to the Charleston authorities by a reporter of a leading New York morning paper, who had succeeded in becoming acquainted with the facts-thus giving the South Carolina authorities ample opportunity for their "defensive" preparations. A strong battery had been thrown up on Morris' island, at the entrance of the harbor. A small steamer was sent outside to reconnoitre, and give alarm of the transport's approach. The buoys, lights, and ranges had previously been removed, when it was known that the Brooklyn, then lying at Norfolk, was ready to sail for the harbor at any moment. She was now expected to cooperate with the Star of the West-to engage the battery and Fort Moultrie, while the steamer should run direct for Sumter.
The transport arrived off the mouth of Charleston harbor at 1.30 a. m., on the 9th. The captain, in his report to the owners of the vessel, said: "I could find no guidingmarks for the bar, as the lights were all out. We proceeded with great caution, running very slow and sounding until about 4 a. m., being then in about four and a half fathoms of water, when we discovered a light through the haze, which at that time crossed the horizon. Concluding that the light was on Fort Sumter, after getting the bearings of it,
The Steamer Fired
we steered to the S. W. for the main ship channel, when we hove to to await daylight, our lights having all been put out since twelve o'clock, to avoid being seen. As the day began to break, discovered a steamer just in-shore of us, which, as soon as she saw us, burned one blue light and two red lights, as signals, and shortly after steamed over the bar and into the ship channel. The soldiers were now all put below, and no one allowed on the deck except our own crew. As soon as there was light enough to see, we crossed the bar, and proceeded on up the channel (the outer bar buoy having been taken away). The steamer ahead of us sending off rockets and burning lights until after broad daylight, continuing on her course up, near two miles ahead of us. When we arrived about two miles from Fort Moultrie-Fort Sumter being about the same distance-a masked battery on Morris' Island, where there was a red Palmetto flag flying, opened fire upon us
distance about five-eighths of a mile. We had the American flag flying at our flagstaff at the time, and, soon after the first shot, hoisted a large American ensign at the fore. We continued on under the fire of the battery for over ten minutes; several of the shots going clean over us. One passed just clear of the pilot-house. Another passed between the smoke-stack and walking-beam of the engine. Another struck the ship just abaft the fore-rigging and stove in the planking, and another came within an ace of carrying away the rudder. At the same time there was a movement of two steamers from near Fort Moultrie-one of them towing a schooner- -(I presume an armed schooner), with the intention of cutting us off. Our position now became rather critical, as we had to approach Fort Moultrie to within three-fourths of a mile, before we could keep away for Fort
of South Carolina.
"SIR: Two of your batteries
Sumter. A steamer approaching us with an | Lieut. Hall, borne in under cover of the white armed schooner in tow, and the battery on flag: the island firing at us all the time, and, hav-"To his Excellency the Governor ing no cannon to defend ourselves from the attack of the vessels, we concluded that, to avoid certain capture or destruction, we would endeavor to get to sea. Consequently, we wore round and steamed down the channel, the battery firing upon us until their shot fell short. As it was now strong ebb tide, and the water having fallen some three feet, we proceeded with caution, and crossed the bar safely at 8.50 a. m."
The vessel steamed away for New York, arriving there on the morning of the 12th, not having seen the Brooklyn.
It was a sadly mismanaged affair throughout. A large, heavy-draught, side-wheel steamer, with walking-beam, engine and wheels, all so open that one well-directed ball or shell would have disabled the craft and left her an easy capture to a small body of men, was not the proper transport to have chosen for the perilous service. A propeller could have loaded with more secresy and have proceded with more safety. She could have run the Morris' battery (as the big steamer actually did), and, by her light draught, could have given Fort Moultrie a wide berth, by steering quite direct for Sumter. This would have rendered the expedition a success. Or, if the Star of the West had been prepared with small boats, she could have run out to sea after the repulse, to return on the night of the 9th, and, under cover of the darkness, have thrown in the men and preserved stores. Or, again, if the Brooklyn and Harriet Lane had been on the spot to engage Moultrie, the landing at Sumter might have been effected. As it was, the adventure reminded of the celebrated expedition told in verse, where twice five hundred men marched up a hill and then-marched down again.
Anderson knew nothing of the character of the Star of the West, though he surmised her mission. He had opened his ports, lit the matches, run out three heavy guns, and was on the point of opening fire on Moultrie when the steamer put about and headed for the sea. He immediately addressed Governor Pickens the following note, by the hand of
fired this morning upon an unarmed vessel bearing the flag of my Government. As I have not been notified that war has been declared by South Carolina against the Government of the United States, I cannot but think that this hostile act was committed
without your sanction or authority. Under that hope, and that alone, did I refrain from opening fire upon your batteries. I have the honor, therefore, to respectfully ask whether the above-mentioned act-one I believe without a parallel in the history of our country or any other civilized Governmentwas committed in obedience to your instructions, and to notify you if it be not disclaimed, that I must regard it as an act of war; and that I shall not, after a reasonable time for the return of my messenger, permit any vessel to pass within range of the guns of my fort. In order to save, as far as in my power, the shedding of blood, I beg that you will give due notification of this, my decision, to all concerned. Hoping, however, that your answer may be such as will justify a further continuance of forbearance on my part, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, "Your obedient servant,
STATE OF CHARLESTON, EXECUTIVE OFFICE, HEADQUARTERS, CHARLESTON, Jan. 9, 1861. "SIR: Your letter has been
received. In it you make cer-
to the Government of the United States that the po
litical connection heretofore existing between the
State of South Carolina and the States which were known as the United States had ceased, and that the State of South Carolina had resumed all the powers it had delegated to the United States under the compact known as the Constitution of the United States. The right which the State of South Carolina possessed to change the political relations which she had held with the other States under the Constitu
Governor Pickens' Reply.
tion of the United States has been solemnly asserted by the people of this State in Convention, and now does not admit of discussion. In anticipation of the Ordinance of Secession, of which the President of the United States had official notification, it was understood by him that sending any reenforcements of troops of the United States in the harbor of Charleston would be regarded by the constituted authorities of the State of South Carolina as an act of hostility, and at the same time it was understood by him that any change in the occupation of the forts in the harbor of Charleston would in like manner be regarded as an act of hostility. Either or both of these events occurring during the period in which the State of South Carolina constituted a part of the United States, was then distinctly notified to the President of the United States as an act or acts of hostility, because either or both would be regarded and could only be intended to dispute the right of the State of South Carolina to that political independence which she has always asserted and will always maintain.
"Whatever would have been, during the continnance of this State while a member of the United States, an act of hostility, became much more so when the State of South Carolina had dissolved all connection with the Government of the United States. After the Secession of South Carolina, Fort Sumter continued in the possession of the troops of the United States. How that fort is at this time in possession of the troops of the United States, it is not now necessary to discuss. It will suffice to say that the occupancy of that fort has been regarded by the State of South Carolina as the first act of positive hostility committed by the troops of the United States within the limits of this State, and was in this light regarded as so unequivocal, that it occasioned the termination of the negotiation, then pending at Washington, between the Commissioners of the State of South Carolina and the President of the United States. The attempt to reenforce the troops now in Fort Sumter, or to retake and resume possession of the forts within the waters of this State which you
abandoned, after spiking the guns placed there, and doing otherwise much damage, cannot be regarded by the authorities of the State as indicative of any other purpose than the coercion of the State by the armed forces of your Government. To repel such an attempt, is too plainly a duty to allow it to be discussed; and while defending its waters, the authorities of the State have been careful so to conduct the affairs of the State that no act, however necessary for its defense, should lead to a useless waste of life. Special agents, therefore, have been off the
Under these circumstances, the Star of the West, it is understood, this morning attempted to enter this harbor with troops on board, and having been notified that she could not enter, was fired into. The act is perfectly justified by me. In regard to your threat in regard to vessels in the harbor, it is only necessary to say that you must judge of your responsibility. Your position in this harbor has been tolerated by the authorities of the State, and while the act of which you complain is in perfect consistency with the rights and duties of the States, it is not perceived how far the conduct which you propose to adopt can find a parallel in the history of any country, or be reconciled with any other purpose of your Government than that of imposing upon this State the condition of a conquered prov"F. W. PICKENS." ince.
The Legislature being in session this correspondence was immediately laid before it, when, after its reading, the following resolutions were immediately adopted :—
"Resolved, That this General Assembly looks upon any attempt to reenforce the troops now in possession of Fort Sumter as an act of open and undisguised hostility on the part of the Government of the United States.
"Resolved further, That this General Assembly learns with pride and pleasure of the successful resistance this day by the troops of this State acting under orders of the Governor, to an attempt to reenforce Fort Sumter.
'HEADQUARTERS, FORT SUMTER, S. C., "January 9, 1861.
the Government, has been fired upon at the entrance of Charleston Harbor, by order of the authorities of the State of South Carolina, and the communication of the Government with one of its military posts thus forcibly prevented, there is but one course to pursue. The authority and dignity of the Government must be vindicated at every hazard. The is sue thus having been made, it must be met and sustained, if necessary, by the whole power of the navy and army. We take it for granted, that, if the present version of the af
"To his Excellency F. W. Pickens, Governor af the fair is correct, a vessel of war will be dis
State of South Carolina:
"SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of to-day, and to say, that under the circumstances I have deemed it proper to refer the whole matter to my Government, and that I intend deferring the course indicated in my note of this morning until the arrival from Washington of the instructions I may receive. I have the honor
also to express the hope that no obstructions will
be placed in the way of, and that you will do me the favor of giving every facility to, the departure and return of the bearer, Lieut. T. Talbot, United States Army, who has been directed to make the journey. "I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
"ROBERT ANDERSON, "Major United States, Commanding." If anything was wanting to cement the Union sentiment in the North, nothing could have been conceived better calculated to arouse the feeling of resistance to the revolution than this firing on the American flag. The indignity of the act awoke, in the hearts of all classes and parties in the North, but one emotion--that of indignation, and a resolve to avenge the insult. The unity of popular sentiment produced by the dispatches announcing the news, resembled the gathering of the elements preparatory to a terriffic storm. All issues were suddenly merged in that of resentment for the outrage offered the Government. This may be inferred from the tone of the opposition press, which, up to that moment, had clamoured for compromise and had deprecated all thoughts of coercion. Thus the Breckenridge organ at Albany said: "If the Star of the West, in commission of
patched and will enter the harbor and communicate with Major Anderson at any cost. Thus much is necessary to preserve for the Government a decent respect, both at home and abroad." The editor "took for granted" what did not follow. The President, evidently alarmed at the crisis thus thrust upon him, neither ordered the Star of the West back; nor the Brooklyn and Harriet Lane, vessels of war, to Charleston; nor did he authorize Major Anderson to execute his threat; nor did he allow the Major the poor privilege of shelling the offending battery and Fort Moultrie for their treason and insolence. He had to sit upon his lonely ramparts, day by day, there to watch the swarms of soldiers and negroes on the islands around him throwing up batteries and preparing for his destruction. No order, no encouraging voice came from Washington to inspirit him. But, from the twenty millions of loyal lips went up a shout which must have thrilled his soul like the sound of an Archangel's clarion. The people were true; and, thus comforted, the little garrison labored incessantly, to its utmost strength, to mount the guns which would be needed for the assault seemingly close at hand. Sumter seemed left to its fate. It lay out in the waters, silent and gloomy, like a sullen thought in the Nation's heart. It ere long became radiant with fires which shot from its ports, not only to Moultrie and Morris island, but to the farthest verge of the Union, to kindle the beacons of patriotism on every hill, and in every valley of the teeming North.