« PreviousContinue »
February 8th. Col. Hayne, commissioner from South Carolina, unable to get recognition, finally left Washing
Governor Brown, of Georgia, seized New York ships in the harbor of Savannah, in retaliation for the seizure of arms in New York. The ships were released on the tenth.
The Montgomery convention agreed to a constitution and provisional government, and on the 9th elected Jefferson Davis President, and Alexander H. Stephens Vice-President, of the "Southern Confederacy." Little Rock arsenal surrendered to Arkansas.
February 18th. Jefferson Davis was inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America.
February 19th. Fort Kearney, Kansas, taken by secessionists, but was soon after retaken by Unionists.
February 21st. Jefferson Davis appointed his cabinet: - Robert Toombs, of Georgia, Secretary of State; Charles G. Memminger, of South Carolina, Secretary of the Treasury, and L. P. Walker, Secretary of War.
Governor Brown, of Georgia, made another seizure of vessels belonging to New York.
February 22d. President Lincoln made the journey from Harrisburg to Washington in the night, in order to prevent an anticipated outrage in Baltimore.
The ungovernable rashness of the rebels was, at this time, particularly manifested in an attempt to assassinate the President on his way to Washington. The friends of Mr. Lincoln, having heard that a conspiracy existed to assassinate him, set on foot an investigation of the matter, and for this purpose employed a detective of great experience, who was engaged at Baltimore in the business some three weeks prior to Mr. Lincoln's expected arrival there, employing both men and women to assist him. Soon after coming to Baltimore the detective discovered a combination of men, banded together under a solemn
oath to assassinate the President elect. The leader of the conspirators was an Italian refugee, a barber, well known in Baltimore, who assumed the name of Orsini, as indicative of the part he was to perform. The assistants employed by the detective, who, like himself, were strangers in Baltimore city, by assuming to be secessionists from Louisiana and other seceding States, gained the confidence of some of the conspirators, and were entrusted with their plans. It was arranged, in case Mr. Lincoln should pass safely over the railroad to Baltimore, that the conspirators should mingle with the crowd which might surround his carriage, and by pretending to be his friends be enabled to approach his person, when, upon a signal from their leader, some of them would shoot at Mr. Lincoln with their pistols, and others would throw into his carriage hand-grenades filled with detonating powder, similar to those used in the attempted assassination of the Emperor Louis Napoleon. It was intended that, in the confusion which should result from this attack, the assailants should escape to a vessel which was waiting in the harbor to receive them, and be carried to Mobile, in the seceding State of Alabama.
Upon Mr. Lincoln's arrival in Philadelphia, on Thursday, the 21st day of February, the detective visited Philadelphia, and submitted to certain friends of the President elect the information he had collected relative to the conspiracy. An interview was immediately arranged between Mr. Lincoln and the detective. The interview took place in Mr. Lincoln's room in the Continental Hotel, where he was staying during his visit in Philadelphia. Mr. Lincoln, having heard the officer's statement, informed him that he had promised to raise the "American flag Independence Hall the next morning, the morning of the anniversary of Washington's birthday, and that he had accepted the invitation of the Pennsylvania legislature to be publicly received by that body in the afternoon of the
same day. "Both of these engagements," said he, with emphasis, "I will keep, if it costs me my life. If, however, after I have concluded these engagements, you can take me in safety to Washington, I will place myself at your disposal, and authorize you to make such arrangements as you may deem proper for that purpose." On the next day, in the morning, Mr. Lincoln performed the ceremony of raising the flag on Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, according to his promise, and arrived at Harrisburg on the afternoon of the same day, where he was formally welcomed by the Pennsylvania legislature. After the reception he retired to his hotel, the Jones House, and withdrew with a few confidential friends to a private apartment. Here he remained until nearly six o'clock in the evening, when, in company with Colonel Lamon, he quietly entered a carriage, without observation, and was driven to the Pennsylvania Railroad, where a special train for Philadel phia was waiting for him. Simultaneously with his departure from Harrisburg, the telegraph wires were cut, so that his departure, should it become known, could not be communicated to any place on the route. The special
train arrived in Philadelphia at a quarter before eleven o'clock at night. Here he was met by the "detective," who had a carriage in readiness, into which the party entered and were driven to the depot of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. They did not reach the depot until a quarter past eleven; but, fortunately for them, the regular train, the hour of which for starting was eleven, had been delayed. The party then took berths in the sleeping-car, and, without change of cars, passed directly through to Washington, where they arrived at the usual hour, half-past six, on the morning of Saturday, the 23d. Mr. Lincoln wore no disguise whatever, but journeyed in an ordinary travelling suit. It is proper to state here, that, prior to Mr. Lincoln's arrival in Philadelphia, General Scott and Mr. Seward, in Wash
ington, had been apprised from independent sources that imminent danger threatened Mr. Lincoln in case he should publicly pass through Baltimore, and accordingly a special messenger, Mr. Frederick W. Seward, a son of Senator Seward, was dispatched to Philadelphia to urge Mr. Lincoln to come direct to Washington in a quiet manner. The messenger arrived in Philadelphia late on Thursday night, and had an interview with the President elect immediately after his interview with the "detective." He was informed that Mr. Lincoln would arrive by the early train on Saturday morning; and, in accordance with this information, Mr. Washburne, member of Congress from Illinois, awaited the President elect, at the depot in Washington, whence he was taken in a carriage to his quarters at Willard's Hotel, where Senator Seward stood ready to receive him. The detective travelled with Mr. Lincoln under the name of E. J. Allen, which was registered with the name of the President elect on the book at Willard's Hotel. Being a well-known individual, he was speedily recognized, and suspicion naturally arose that he had been "instrumental" in exposing the plot which caused Mr. Lincoln's hurried journey, and thereby. defeating the traitors in their murderous designs. It was deemed prudent that he should leave Washington, two days after his arrival, though he had intended to remain and witness the ceremonies of the inauguration. The friends of Mr. Lincoln did not question the loyalty and hospitality of the people of Maryland, but they were aware that a few disaffected citizens, who sympathized warmly with the secessionists, were determined to frustrate, at all hazards, the inauguration of the President elect, even at the cost of his life. The characters and pursuits of the conspirators were various; some of them were impelled by fanatical zeal which they termed "patriotism," and they justified their acts by the example of Brutus in ridding his country of a tyrant. One of them
was accustomed to recite passages put into the mouth of the character of Brutus, in Shakspeare's play of Julius Cæsar. Others were stimulated by the offer of pecuniary reward. These, it was observed, staid away from their usual places of work for several weeks prior to the intended assault, although their circumstances had previously rendered them dependent on their daily labor for support; they were, during this time, abundantly supplied with money, which they squandered in bar-rooms and disreputable places. After the discovery of the plot, a strong watch was kept, by the agents of detection, over the movements of the conspirators, and efficient measures were adopted to guard against any attack which they might meditate upon the President elect, until after he was installed in office.
Mr. Lincoln's family left Harrisburg for Washington, by way of Baltimore, in the special train intended for him, and as, before starting, a message announcing Mr. Lincoln's arrival at Washington had been telegraphed to Baltimore, over the lines that had been repaired that morning, the passage of Mrs. Lincoln and friends through Baltimore was safely effected. During the ceremony of "raising the flag on Independence Hall," on Friday morning, Mr. Lincoln remarked that he would assert his principles on his inauguration, though he were to be assassinated on the spot; - evidently referring to the communication made to him on the night previous. The number originally banded together for the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, as far as could be ascertained, was twenty; but the number of those who were fully acquainted with the details of the plot became daily smaller as the time for executing it drew near. Some of the women employed by the detective went to serve as waiters, seamstresses, &c., in the families of the conspirators, and a record was regularly kept of what was said and done to further their enterprise. A record was also kept, by the