« PreviousContinue »
violence or offensive warfare upon the seceded States. In the Border States its reception was in the main satisfactory. But, as a matter of course, in those States, as elsewhere throughout the South, the secession leaders gave it the most hostile construction. No effort was spared to inflame the public mind by representing the Inaugural as embodying the purpose of the President to make war upon the Southern States for their attempt to secure a redress of wrongs.
The President's first act was to construct his Cabinet, which was done by the appointment of William H. Seward, of New York, Secretary of State; Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania, Secretary of War; Gideon Welles, of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, Secretary of the Interior; Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, Postmaster-General; and Edward Bates, of Missouri, Attorney-General. These nominations were all confirmed by the Senate, and these gentlemen entered upon the discharge of the duties of their several offices.
On the 12th of March, Messrs. John Forsyth, of Alabama, and Crawford, of Georgia, requested an unofficial interview with the Secretary of State, which the latter declined. On the 13th they sent to him a communication informing him that they were in Washington as Commissioners from a government composed of seven States which had withdrawn from the American Union, and that they desired to enter upon negotiations for the adjustment of all questions growing out of this separation. Mr. Seward, by direction of the President, declined to receive them, because it “could not be admitted that the States referred to had, in law or fact, withdrawn from the Federal Union, or that they could do so in any other manner than with the consent and concert of the people of the United States, to be given through a National Convention to be assembled in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States.” This communication, though written on the 15th of March, was withheld, with the consent of the Commissioners, until the 8th of April, when it was delivered. The fact of its receipt, and its character, were instantly telegraphed to Charleston, and it was made the occasion for precipitating the revolution by an act which, it was believed, would unite all the Southern States in support of the Confederacy. On the day of its receipt, the 8th of April, Gen. Beauregard, at Charleston, telegraphed to L. P. Walker, the rebel Secretary of War, at Montgomery, that ban authorized messenger from President Lincoln had just informed Gov. Pickens and himself that provisions would be sent to Fort Sumter peaceably, or, otherwise, by force." Gen. B. was instructed to demand the surrender of the fort, which he did on the 11th, and was at once informed by Major Anderson, who was in command, that his “sense of honor and his obligations to his Government prevented his compliance.". On the night of the same day Gen. Beauregard wrote to Major Anderson, by orders of his government, that if he “would state the time at which he would evacuate Fort Sumter” (as it was known that it must soon be evacuated for lack of provisions) and will agree that, in the mean time, you will not use your guns against us unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you.” At half-past two in the morning of the 12th, Major Anderson replied that he would evacuate the fort by noon on the 15th, abiding, mean time, by the terms proposed, unless he should “receive, prior to that, controlling instructions from his Government, or additional supplies.” In reply to this note he was notified, at half-past three, that the rebels wonld open their batteries upon the fort in one hour from that time. This they did, and, after a bombardment of thirty-three hours, Major Anderson agreed to evacuate the fort, which he carried into effect on Sunday morning, the 14th.
The effect of this open act of war was, in some respects, precisely what had been anticipated by the rebel authorities : in other respects, it was very different. Upon the Southern States it had the effect of arousing public sentiment to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and of strengthening the rebel
At the North, it broke down, for the moment, all party distinctions and united the people in a cordial and hearty support of the Government.
The President regarded it as an armed attack upon the Government of the United States, in support of the combination which had been organized into a Confederacy to resist and destroy its authority, and he saw, at once, that it could be met and defeated only by the force placed in his hands for the maintenance of that authority. He, accordingly, on the 15th of April, issued the following
By the President of the United States.
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, 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 75,000, 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 demand.
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 hundred and sixty-one, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By tne President. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
The issue of this Proclamation created the most intense enthusiasm throughout the country. Scarcely a voice was raised in any of the Northern States against this measure, which seen to be one of absolute necessity and of self-defence on tho part of the Government. Every Northern State responded promptly to the President's demand, and from private persons, as well as by the Legislatures, men, arms, and money were offered, in unstinted profusion and with the most zealous alacrity, in support of the Government. Massachusetts was first in the field : and on the first day after the issue of the Proclamation, her Sixth Regiment, completely equipped, started from Boston for the National Capital. Two more regiments were also made ready, and took their departure within forty-eight hours. The Sixth Regiment, on its way to Washington, on the 19th, was attacked by a mob in Baltimore, carrying a secession flag, and several of its members were killed or severely wounded. This inflamed to a still higher point the excitement which already pervaded the country. The whole Northern section of the Union felt outraged that troops should be assailed and murdered on their way to protect the capital of the nation. ' In Maryland, where the Secession party was strong, there was also great excitement, and the Governor of the State and the Mayor of Baltimore united in urging, for prudential reasons, that no more troops should be brought through that city. To their representation the President made the following reply:
WASHINGTON, April 29, 1861. Governor Hicks and Mayor Brown:
GENTLEMEN: Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin, and Brune is received. I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to keep the peace in the trying situation in which you are placed.
For the future, troops must be brought here, but I make no point of bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge myself, of course I must leave details to General Scott. He hastily said this morning in the presence of these gentlemen, “ March them around Baltimore and not through it.” I sincerely hope the General, on fuller reflection, will consider this practical and proper, and that you will not object to it. By this a collision of the people of Baltimore with the troops will be avoided, unless they go out of their way to seek it. I hope you will exert your influence to prevent this.
Now and ever I shall do all in my power for peace consistently with the maintenance of the Government. Your obedient servant,
And in further response to the same request from Governor Hicks, followed by a suggestion that the controversy between the North and South might be referred to Lord Lyons, the British minister, for arbitration, President Lincoln, through the Secretary of State, made the following reply: