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another step-actually to send troops to Sumter. Under his direction the War Department chartered a steamer called the "Star of the West," which sailed from New York on the 5th of January, 1861, having on board two hundred and fifty soldiers, besides stores and munitions of war. A specious plea was originated for this expedition, and it was declared that its purpose was to provision a "starving garrison." When the vessel appeared off Charleston Harbour, on the 9th of January, heading in from the sea, and taking the channel for Sumter, a battery at Point Cummings on Morris Island opened upon her at long range. Not daring to penetrate the fire, the Star of the West ran out to sea with all speed; and the soldiers on board of her were subsequently disembarked at their former quarters on Governour's Island.
When the result of this expedition was known, Mr. Buchanan affected surprise and indignation at the reception given the Federal reinforcements, and declared that the expedition had been ordered with the concurrence of his Cabinet. Mr. Jacob Thompson of Mississippi, who yet remained in the Cabinet, repelled the slander, denounced the movement as underhanded, and as a breach not only of good faith towards South Carolina, but as one of personal confidence between the President and himself, and left the Cabinet with expressions of indignation and contempt.
Mr. Buchanan's administration terminated with results alike fearful to the country and dishonourable to himself. He retired from office, after having widened the breach between North and South, and given new cause of exasperation in the contest; obtaining the execrations of both parties; and going down to history with the brand of perfidy. When he ceased to be President on the 4th of March, 1861, seven Southern States were out of the Union; they had erected a new government; they had secured every Federal fort within their limits with two exceptionsSumter and Pickens; they had gathered not only munitions of war, but had obtained great additions in moral power; and although they still deplored a war between the two sections as "a policy detrimental to the civilized world," they had openly and rapidly prepared for it. Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney had been occupied by the South Carolina troops; Fort Pulaski, the defence of the Savannah, had been taken; the Arsenal at Mount Vernon, Alabama, with twenty thousand stand of arms, had been seized by the Alabama troops; Fort Morgan, in Mobile Bay, had been taken; Forts Jackson, St. Philip, and Pike, near New Orleans, had been captured by the Louisiana troops; the Pensacola Navy-Yard and Forts Barrancas and MeRae had been taken, and the siege of Fort Pickens commenced; the Baton Rouge Arsenal had been surrendered to the Louisiana troops; the New Orleans Mint and Custom-House had been taken; the Little Rock Arsenal had been seized by the Arkansas troops;
THE COUNTRY AWAITING THE CONFLICT.
and on the 18th of February, Gen. Twiggs had transferred the military posts and public property in Texas to the State authorities.
It is remarkable that all these captures and events had been accomplished without the sacrifice of a single life, or the effusion of one drop of blood. It was, perhaps, in view of this circumstance, that people lingered in the fancy that there would be no war. Yet the whole country was agitated with passion; the frown of war was already visible; and it needed but some Cadmus to throw the stone that would be the signal of combat between the armed men sprung from the dragon's teeth.
CHARACTER OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN HISTORY.-ABSURD PANEGYRIC.-THE PERSONAL AND POLITICAL LIFE OF THE NEW PRESIDENT.-HIS JOURNEY TO WASHINGTON. HIS SPEECH AT PHILADELPHIA. THE FLIGHT FROM HARRISBURG.ALARM IN WASHINGTON.—MILITARY DISPLAY IN THE CAPITAL.-CEREMONY OF INAUGURATION.-CRITICISM OF LINCOLN's ADDRESS.-WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THOUGHT OF IT.-SERIOUS PAUSE AT WASHINGTON.-STATEMENT OF HORACE GREELEY.-HOW THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS WAS RECEIVED IN THE SECEDED STATES.-VISIT OF CONFEDERATE COMMISSIONERS TO WASHINGTON.—SEWARD'S PLEDGE TO JUDGE CAMPBELL.-THE COMMISSIONERS DECEIVED.-MILITARY AND NAVAL EXPEDITIONS FROM NEW YORK.-CONSULTATION OF THE CABINET ON THE SUMTER QUESTION.—CAPT. FOX'S VISIT TO CHARLESTON.—HIS PROJECT.—OBJECTIONS OF GEN. SCOTT.—SINGULAR ARTICLE IN A NEW YORK JOURNAL.—LINCOLN'S HESITATION. -HIS FINAL DEVICE.-SEWARD'S GAME WITH THE COMMISSIONERS.—THE REDUCTION
OF FORT SUMTER.-DESCRIPTION OF THE CONFEDERATE WORKS FOR THE REDUCTION
PACIFIC PROTESTS TO THE VIRGINIA COMMISSIONERS.-SECESSION OF VIRGINIA.—DIS-
A LARGE portion of the Northern people have a custom of apotheosis; at least so far as to designate certain of their public men, to question whose reputation is considered bold assumption, if not sacrilegious daring. But the maxim of de mortuis nil nisi bonum does not apply to history. The character of Abraham Lincoln belongs to history as fully as that of he meanest agent in human affairs; and his own declaration, on one occa
MR. LINCOLN'S ANTECEDENTS.
101 sion, that he did not expect to "escape " it is sure to be verified, now or hereafter.
We have already stated that Mr. Lincoln was not elected President of the United States for any commanding fame, or for any known merit as a statesman. His panegyrists, although they could not assert for him a guiding intellect or profound scholarship, claimed for him some homely and substantial virtues. It was said that he was transparently honest. But his honesty was rather that facile disposition that readily took impressions from whatever was urged on it. It was said that he was excessively amiable. But his amiability was animal. It is small merit to have a Falstaffian humour in one's blood. Abraham Lincoln was neither kind nor cruel, in the proper sense of these words, simply because he was destitute of the higher order of sensibilities.
His appearance corresponded to his rough life and uncultivated mind. His figure was tall and gaunt-looking; his shoulders were inclined forward; his arms of unusual length; and his gait astride, rapid and shuffling. The savage wits in the Southern newspapers had no other name for him than "the Illinois Ape."
The new President of the United States was the product of that partizanship which often discovers its most "available" candidates among obscure men, with slight political records, and of that infamous demagogueism in America that is pleased with the low and vulgar antecedents of its public men, and enjoys the imagination of similar elevation for each one of its own class in society. Mr. Lincoln had formerly served, without distinction, in Congress. But among his titles to American popularity were the circumstances that in earlier life he had rowed a flat-boat down the Mississippi; afterwards been a miller; and at another period had earned his living by splitting rails in a county of Illinois. When he was first named for the Presidency, an enthusiastic admirer had presented to the State Convention of Illinois two old fence-rails, gaily decorated with flags and ribbons, and bearing the following inscription: "Abraham Lincoln, the Rail Candidate for President in 1860.-Two rails from a lot of 3,000, made in 1830, by Thos. Hanks and Abe Lincoln." The incident is not mentioned for amusement: it is a suggestive illustration of the vulgar and silly devices in an American election.
Since the announcement of his election, Mr. Lincoln had remained very retired and studiously silent in his home at Springfield, Illinois. Expectations were raised by the mystery of this silence; his panegyrists declared that it was the indication of a thoughtful wisdom pondering the grave concerns of the country, and likely to announce at last some novel and profound solution of existing difficulties; and so credulous are all men in a time of anxiety and embarrassment, and so eager to catch at hopes, that these fulsome prophecies of the result of Mr. Lincoln's meditations actu
ally impressed the country, which awaited with impatience the opening of the oracle's lips.
Never was a disappointment so ludicrous. No sooner did Mr. Lincoln leave his home on his official journey to Washington, than he became profuse of speech, entertaining the crowd, that at different points of the railroad watched his progress to the capital, with a peculiar style of stump oratory, in which his Western phraseology, jests, and comic displays amused the whole country in the midst of a great public anxiety. He was reported to have been for months nursing a masterly wisdom at Springfield; he was approaching the capital on an occasion and in circumstances the most imposing in American history; and yet he had no better counsels to offer to the distressed country than to recommend his hearers to "keep cool," and to assure them in his peculiar rhetoric and grammar that "nobody was hurt," and that there was "nothing going wrong." The new President brought with him the buffoonery and habits of a demagogue of the back-woods. He amused a crowd by calling up to the speaker's stand a woman, who had recommended him to grow whiskers on his face, and kissing her in public; he measured heights with the tall men he encountered in his public receptions; and, as part of the ceremony of the inauguration at Washington, he insisted upon kissing the thirty-four young women who, in striped colours and spangled dresses, represented in the procession the thirty-four States of the Union. These incidents are not improperly recorded: they are not trivial in connection with a historical name, and with reference to an occasion the most important in American annals.
At Philadelphia, where Mr. Lincoln was required to assist in raising a United States flag over Independence Hall, he was more serious in his speech than on any former occasion in his journey. In his address was this language: "that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave Liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that, in due time, the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men." These words were supposed to be aimed at the institution of negro slavery in the South. With reference to them a Baltimore newspaper said: "Mr. Lincoln, the President elect of the United States, will arrive in this city, with his suite, this afternoon by special train from Harrisburg, and will proceed, we learn, directly to Washington. It is to be hoped that no opportunity will be afforded him-or that, if it be afforded, he will not embrace it-to repeat in our midst the sentiments which he is reported to have expressed yesterday in Philadelphia." This newspaper paragraph and some other circumstances equally trivial were made the occasion of an alarm that the new President was to be assassinated in Baltimore, or on his way to that city. The alarm was communicated to Mr. Lincoln himself. He was in