Page images

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, April 22, 1861. His Excellency Thos. H. Hicks, Governor of Maryland:

SIR: I have had the honor to receive your communication of this morning, in which you inform me that you have felt it to be your duty to advise the President of the United States to order elsewhere the troops then off Annapolis, and also that no more may be sent through Maryland; and that you have further suggested that Lord Lyons be requested to act as mediator between the contending parties in our country, to prevent the effusion of blood.

The President directs me to acknowledge the receipt of that communication, and to assure you that he has weighed the counsels it contains with the respect which he habitually cherishes for the Chief Magistrates of the several States, and especially for yourself. He regrets, as deeply as any magistrate or citizen of this country can, that demonstrations against the safety of the United States, with very extensive preparations for the effusion of blood, have made it his duty to call out the forces to which you allude.

The force now sought to be brought through Maryland, is intended for nothing but the defence of the capital. The President has necessarily confided the choice of the national highway which that force shall take in coming to this city to the Lieutenant-General commanding the Army of the United States, who, like his only predecessor, is not less distinguished for his humanity, than for his loyalty, patriotism, and distinguished public service.

The President instructs me to add, that the national highway thus selected by the Lieutenant-General, has been chosen by him, upon consultation with prominent magistrates and citizens of Maryland, as the one which, while a route is absolutely necessary, is farthest removed from the populous cities of the State, and with the expectation that it would therefore be the least objectionable one.

The President cannot but remember that there has been a time in the history of our country when a general of the American Union, with forces designed for the defence of its capital, was not unwelcome anywhere in the State of Maryland, and certainly not at Annapolis, then, as now, the capital of that patriotic State, and then, also, one of the capitals of the Union.

If eighty years could have obliterated all the other noble sentiments of that age in Maryland, the President would be hopeful, nevertheless, that there is one that would forever remain there and everywhere. That sentiment is, that no domestic contention whatever that may arise among the parties of this Republic, ought in any case to be referred to any foreign arbitrament, least of all to the arbitrament of a European monarchy.

I have the honor to be, with distinguished consideration, your Excellency's most obedient servant,


At the President's request, the mayor of Baltimore, and a number of the leading influential citizens of Maryland, waited upon him at Washington, and had an open conference upon the condition of affairs in that State. The Mayor subsequently made the following report of the interview:

The President, upon his part, recognized the good faith of the city and State authorities, and insisted upon his own. He admitted the excited state of feeling in Baltimore, and his desire and duty to avoid the fatal consequences of a collision with the people. He urged, on the other hand, the absolute, irresistible necessity of having a transit through the State for such troops as might be necessary for the protection of the Federal Capital. The protection of Washington, he asseverated with great earnestness, was the sole object of concentrating troops there; and he protested that none of the troops brought through Maryland were intended for any purposes hostile to the State, or aggressive as against the Southern States. Being now unable to bring them up the Potomac in security, the Government must either bring them through Maryland or abandon the capital.

He called on General Scott for his opinion, which the General gave at length, to the effect that troops might be brought through Maryland, without going through Baltimore, by either carrying them from Perrysville to Annapolis, and thence by rail to Washington, or by bringing them to the Relay House on the Northern Central Railroad, and marching them to the Relay House on the Washington Railroad, and thence by rail to the Capital. If the people would permit them to go by either of those routes uninterruptedly, the necessity of their passing through Baltimore would be avoided. If the people would not permit them a transit thus remote from the city, they must select their own best route, and, if need be, fight their way through Baltimore-a result which the General earnestly deprecated.

The President expressed his hearty concurrence in the desire to avoid a collision, and said that no more troops should be ordered through Baltimore, if they were permitted to go interruptedly by either of the other routes suggested. In this disposition the Secretary of War expressed his participation.

Mayor Brown assured the President that the city authorities would use all lawful means to prevent their citizens from leaving Baltimore to attack the troops in passing at a distance; but he urged, at the same time, the impossibility of their being able to promise any thing more than their best efforts in that direction. The excitement was great, he told the President; the people of all classes were fully aroused, and it was impossible for any one to answer for the consequences of the presence of Northern troops anywhere within our borders. He reminded the President, also, that the jurisdiction of the city authorities was confined to their own population, and that he could give no promises for the people elsewhere, because he would be unable to keep them if given. The President frankly acknowledged this difficulty, and said that the Government would only ask the city authorities to use their best efforts with respect to those under their jurisdiction.

The interview terminated with the distinct assurance, on the part of the President, that no more troops would be sent through Baltimore unless obstructed in their transit in other directions, and with the understanding that the city authorities should do their best to restrain their own people.

In accordance with this anderstanding, troops were forwarded to Washington by way of Annapolis, until peace and order were restored in Baltimore, when the regular use of the highway through that city was resumed, and has been continued without interruption to the present time.

On the 19th of April the President issued the following proclamation, blockading the ports of the seceded States :


STATES. Whereas, an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Al ma, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue cannot be efficiently executed therein conformable to that provision of the Constitution which required duties to be uniform throughout the United States :

And whereas a combination of persons, engaged in such insurrection, have threatened to grant pretended letters of marque, to authorize the bearers thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and property of the good citizens of the country, lawfully engaged in commerce on the high seas, and in waters of the United States :

And whereas an Executive Proclamation has been already issued, requiring the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to desist therefrom, calling out a militia force for the purpose of repressing the same, and convening Congress in extraordinary session to deliberate and determine thereon:

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the protection of the public peace, and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations, until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings, or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and of the laws of nations in such cases provided. For this purpose, a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave any of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her register the fact and date of such warning; and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize as may be deemed advisable.

And I hereby proclaim and declare, that if any person, under the pretended authority of such States, or under any other pretence, shall molest a vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board of her, such persons will be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the prevention and punishment of piracy. By the President,

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State. WASHINGTON, April 19, 1861.

These were the initial steps by which the Government sought to repel the attempt of the rebel Confederacy to overthrow its authority by force of arms. Its action was at that time wholly defensive. The declarations of rebel officials, as well as the language of the Southern press, indicated very clearly their intention to push the war begun at Sumter into the North. Jefferson Davis had himself declared, more than a month previous, that whenever the war should open, the North and not the South should be the field of battle. popular demonstration held at Montgomery, Ala., on hearing that fire had been opened upon Sumter, L. P. Walker, the rebel Secretary of War, had said, that while “no man could tell where the war would end, he would prophesy that the flag which now flaunts the breeze here, would float over the dome of the old capitol at Washington before the first of May," and that it might float eventually over Faneuil Hall itself.”

At a

The rebel Government had gone forward with great vigor to prepare the means for making good these predictions. Volunteers was summoned to the field. Besides garrisoning the fortresses in their possession along the Southern coast, a force of nearly 20,000 men was pushed rapidly forward to Virginia. A loan of eight millions of dollars was raised, and Davis issued a proclamation offering letters of marque to all persons who might desire to aid the rebel Government and enrich themselves by depredations upon the rich and extended commerce of the United States. The South thus plunged openly and boldly into a war of aggression; and the President, in strict conformity with the declaration of his Inaugural, put the Government upon the defensive, and limited the military operations of the moment to the protection of the capital..

The effect of these preliminary movements upon the Border Slave States was very decided. The assault upon Sumter greatly excited the public mind throughout those States. In Virginia it was made to enure to the benefit of the rebels. The State Convention, which had been in session since the 13th of February, was composed of 152 delegates, a large majority of whom were Union men. The Inaugural of President Lincoln had created a good deal of excitement among the members, and a very animated contest bad followed as to its proper meaning. The secessionists insisted that it announced a policy of coercion towards the South, and had seized the occasion to urge the immediate passage of an ordi nance of secession. This gave rise to a stormy debate, in which the friends of the Union maintained their ascendency. The news of the attack upon Sumter created a whirlwind of excitement, which checked somewhat the Union movement; and, on the 13th of April, Messrs. Preston, Stuart, and Randolph, who had been sent to Washington to ascertain the President's intentions towards the South, sent in their report, which was received just after Governor Pickens of South

« PreviousContinue »