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people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself, and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose, a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.
I will venture to add, that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions òriginated by others not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish either to accept or refuse. I understand that a proposed amendment to the Constitution (which amendment, however, I have not seen) has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say, that, holding such a provision now to be implied Constitutional law, I have no objections to its being made express and irrevocable.
THE ULTIMATE JUSTICE OF THE PEOPLE.
"The chief magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix the terms for the separation of the States. The people, themselves, also, can do this if they choose; but the Executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to his hands, and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor. Why should there not be a
patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American people. By the frame of the Government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.
MY COUNTRYMEN, ONE AND ALL.
"My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.
"If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good can be frustrated by it.
"Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive Foint, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either.
"If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there is still no single
reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance upon Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.
"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you.
"You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government; while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.
"I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
"The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
REPLY TO THE COMMITTEE FROM THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION, APRIL 20, 1861.
"To Hon. Messrs. Preston, Stuart, and Randolph.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, as it 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 the 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 imports; but beyond what is necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.
"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 those 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 commencement of actual war against the Government justifies and possibly demands it. I scarcely need to say that I consider the military posts 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 re-affirm, except so far as what I now say of the mails may be regarded as a modification."
PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT.
Washington, August 16, 1861.
By the President of the United States of America.
Whereas, on the fifteenth day of April, the President of the United States, in view of an insurrection