Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE NEW ADMINISTRATION.

105

Early Statesmen Wrong.

The Confederate Constitution.

Slavery the Foundation.

“The new Constitution (that adopted at Montgomery) has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions-African slavery as it exists among us -the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this as the rock upon which the old Union would split. He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas, entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen, at the time of the formation of the old Constitution, were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with ; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away.

“Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas. Its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new Government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I can not permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.

This stone, which was rejected by the first builders, 'is become the chief stune of the corner' in our new edifice."

On the 13th of April, the President was waited upon by a committee from a Convention of the State of Virginia, which Convention was discussing the question whether to go with

[ocr errors]

*

Virginia Committee.

President's Reply.

Refers to Inaugural.

che States already in rebellion, or to remain in the Union, for the sake of furthering the ends of the rebels. The object of the visit, and its result, may be determined from Mr. Lincoln 8 response :

“ 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 towards 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 belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what is necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force

Attack on Sumter.

United States Mails.

Sumter's Fall.

against or among the people anywbere. 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 authority 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 forts 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."

Fort Sumter fell on the day following the reception of these commissioners, after every effort, consistent with the means at the disposal of the government, had been made to prevent what then seemed a catastrophe. This action could bear but one interpretation. A reconciliation of difficulties was utterly impracticable. An appeal had been made to the sword.

Effects of Sumter.

Patriots Armed.

Call for Troops.

The power and authority of the United States had been defied and insulted. No loyal man could now hesitate. If, however, there were any who, even then, clung to the fallacy that compromise could save us, Abraham Lincoln was not of the number.

CHAPTER VII.

PREPARING FOR WAR.

Effects of Sumter's Fall-President's Call for Troops—Response in the Loyal States-In

the Border States—Baltimore Riot--Maryland's Position-President's Letter to Maryland Authorities-Blockade Proclamation-Additional Proclamation-Comments Abroad - Second Call for Troops-Special Order for Florida—Military Movements.

SUMTER fell, but the nation arose. With one mind the Free States determined that the rebellion must be put down. All were ablaze with patriotic fire. The traitors at heart, who lurked in the loyal States, found it a wise precaution to float with the current. The shrewder ones among them saw well how such a course would give them vantage-ground when the reaction, which they hoped, and for which in secret they labored, should come. But the great mass of the people would not have admitted the possibility of any reactionaction was to continue the order of the day until the business in hand was finished.

On the 15th of April, 1861, the President issued his first proclamation:

“WHEREAS, The laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law; now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN,

Call for Troops.

First Duty.

Extra Session of Congress.

President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

“The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and existence of our national Union, and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth, will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens of any part of the country; and I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid, to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes, within twenty days from this date.

"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. The Senators and Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their respective chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to lemand.

"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal.of the United States to be affixed.

“Done at the City of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight bundred

« PreviousContinue »