« PreviousContinue »
rail-fence around the cabin very pretty. “If you have not time to answer my letter, will you allow your little girl to reply for you ?" wrote Grace at the end.
Mr. Lincoln was sitting in his room at the State house with a great pile of letters before him from the leading Republicans all over the Northern States in regard to the progress of the campaign ; letters from men who would want an office after his inauguration ; letters abusive and indecent, which were tossed into the waste - basket. He came to one from Westfield, N. Y. It was not from any one who wanted an office, but from a little girl who wanted him to let his whiskers grow. That was a letter which he must answer.
A day or two later Grace Bedell comes out of the Westfield postoffice with a letter in her hand postmarked Springfield, I. Her pulse beats as never before. It is a cold morning—the wind blowing bleak and chill across the tossing waves of the lake. Snow-flakes are falling. She cannot wait till she reaches home, but tears open the letter. The melting flakes blur the writing, but this is what she reads:
SPRINGFIELD, ILL, Oct. 19, 1860. Miss GRACE BEDELL:
MY DEAR LITTLE Miss, – Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have three sons; one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection (affectation) if I should begin it now? Your very sincere well-wisher,
A. LINCOLN. (*)
Before the clocks in the church-towers of the Union tolled the midnight hour on the day of election, it was known that Abraham Lincoln
was to be President. There was great rejoicing throughout the Nox. 6, North, for it was the verdict of the people that slavery was not
to be extended into the Territories. There was also much rejoicing in Charleston, for South Carolina was ready to secede from the Union.
In the hall of the South Carolina Institute a convention called by the Governor voted that the union with the United States be dissolved.
Men tossed their hats into the air; women waved their handDec. 20, kerchiefs.
A procession was formed which marched to St. Michael's Church-yard, where, around the grave of Calhoun, a solemn oath was taken to give their lives and fortunes to secure the independence of the State. Lieutenant-colonel Gardner, with a few soldiers, was in command of the forts in Charleston harbor. He saw that the Secessionists were getting ready to seize the fortifications. The Secession members of Congress called upon the Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, of Virginia, and asked for Gardner's removal. The request was granted, and Major Robert Anderson, of Kentucky, was appointed to succeed him. The Secessionists did not know how dearly he loved
the flag of his country, or how true he was to his convictions. He, too, saw what the Secessionists intended to do, and asked General Scott for reinforcements. Secretary Floyd thereupon sent a very curt letter to Anderson. “Your communications," he wrote, “in the future will be addressed to the Secretary of War.” There was a stormy scene in the executive chamber of the White House when it was known that Anderson had called for reinforcements. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State, true and loyal, could no longer remain in the Cabinet when the President yielded to the demand of the Secretary of War that no troops should be sent. Mr. Black, Attorney-general, who had given an opinion that the President could not coerce a State, also resigned. Quite likely Floyd would have removed Major Anderson, but he had other things to think of. He had made a contract with the firm of Russell & Co. to transport supplies for the army from St. Louis to Utah, and had paid them more than two million dollars in excess of money due for work done—making the payments in drafts. But the banks in New York would not advance money on the drafts, whereupon Floyd's nephew, who had charge of bonds belonging to the Government, took them from the safe and exchanged them with Russell & Co., taking the drafts as security-doing what he had no right to do. In effect, it was robbery. The interest on the bonds was coming due, and then the theft would be known.
Christmas came with its joyful scenes. Major Anderson was at a dinner-party in Charleston. He heard remarks which caused him to
take immediate action. No reinforcements had been sent him, Dec. 25, and he had come to the conclusion that none would be sent. 1860.
In the darkness of night he abandoned Fort Moultrie and occupied Sumter. The sun of the next morning was rising. The soldiers stood around the flag-staff. Major Anderson kneeled, holding the halyards, while the Rev. Matthew Harris, the chaplain, offered prayer, and the Stars and Stripes rose to the top-mast to float serenely in the morning sunlight.
The people of Charleston, looking across the bay, beheld with astonishment the flag at Sumter, and a column of smoke rising from Moultrie, caused by the burning of the gun-carriages set on fire by Major Anderson. The plans of the Secessionists had been upset by this action. Sumter, standing on a reef in the bay, could not be seized. The telegraph flashed the news to Washington. Secretary Floyd hastened to the White House, demanding that Anderson be ordered back to Moultrie; but the President did not comply with the demand.
The coupons on the bonds stolen by Floyd's nephew were due, but when presented there was no money to pay them. Floyd had done what he could to destroy the Union, and rear a Confederacy on its ruins. He could remain in office no longer. The court indicted him, and he fled to escape arrest. President Buchanan appointed Joseph Holt, of Kentucky, to succeed Floyd; Edwin M. Stanton, of Pittsburg, of whom we have previously spoken (p. 162), to succeed Mr. Black as Attorney-general, and John A. Dix, of New York, to succeed Howell Cobb as Secretary of the Treasury. They were able men, and true to the Union. They were in position to render great service to the country.
Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, ordered the Darlington Guards and Columbia Artillery to take possession of Morris Island. Slaves
were sent by the planters, and were set to work building batteries and mounting cannon for the bombardment of Sumter.
Major Anderson had only a small amount of food. It was decided at a meeting of the Cabinet in the White House to send him reinforcements and supplies. President Buchanan, perhaps, did not know that one of the members of his Cabinet, Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior, was a traitor. The members were in honor bound not to make known what was going on, but Thompson sent a telegram to Charleston informing the Governor of the decision.
The steamer Star of the West, with troops and provisions, reached Charleston harbor, but, being fired upon, turned back. Very boastful the language of the Charleston “Mercury” the next morning : “We would not exchange or recall that blow for millions. It has wiped out half a century of scorn and outrage. The decree has gone forth. Upon each acre of the peaceful soil of the South armed men will spring up as the sound breaks upon their ears." Secession newspapers were saying that the South never would submit to Republican rule—Lincoln would not be allowed to take his seat.
In one of the committee-rooms of the Capitol at Washington there was a secret midnight meeting of the Senators from Florida, Georgia,
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, at which it was reJan. 5, solved to seize all the forts along the southern coast, with all
the arsenals, and to urge the Southern States to follow South Carolina and secede from the Union. Governor Brown, of Georgia, thereupon ordered a military company to take possession of Fort Pulaski. A company went up the Mississippi from New Orleans, and