Page images




They considered it proper to advise him to dismiss all hopes that the people of the Confederate States would ever be brought to submit to the authority of the United States government; that he was only dealing with delusions when he sought to separate the Confederate people from their government, and characterized their sovereign act as a "perversion of a temporary and partisan excitement;" that he would awake to find these dreams as unreal and unsubstantial as others in which he had recently indulged.

They added that they clearly understood the refusal of an interview with the President to be made on the ground that this would be a recognition of the independence and separate nationality of the Confederate States; but that, in truth, no such recognition had been asked by them: they only sought the peaceful adjustment of the new relations springing from the accomplished revolution in the government of the late Union; that the refusal to enter tain these overtures and the intention to provision Fort Sumter were received by them, and could be received by the world, only as a declaration of war against the Confederate States. They therefore, in behalf of cept an appeal to their government and people, accept the gage of battle thus thrown down to them, and, appealing to God and the judgment of mankind as to the righteousness of their cause, the people of the Confederate States will defend their liberties to the last against this flagrant and open attempt at their subjugation to sectional power.

And that ac


They announce to him that the Union is broken up,

The commissioners finally explained the causes of a delay of about three weeks in presenting this their communication, that they had indulged in hopes of a pacific solution of the difficulties through unofficial efforts, and that it was only when it became clear that Mr. Lincoln had determined to appeal to the sword," to reduce the people of

24 OFFENSIVE NATURE OF THEIR CORRESPONDENCE. [SECT. VII. the Confederate States to the will of the section whose President he is," that they had resumed official negotiations.

In these communications to the national government the seceding states were not more fortunate than South Carolina had been (vol. i., p. 545) in the correspondence of her commissioners at Washington. Impartiality could not approve of such an air of defiance and audacity. The commissioners seemed to forget that in the eye of public law they were traitors, and that an energetic government would have seized them and tried them for their lives. The self-complacent grandeur they exhibited might have been appropriate at the close of a triumphant war, but not at the inception of a conspiracy.

Under such insincere and clamorous pretenses for peace, the leaders of secession were incessantly pressing on their preparations for war. They were expecting to secure great military resources by the forcible seizure of national property. Their Congress had, on the 9th of March, passed an act for the organization of an army; they were rapidly constructing offensive works in Charleston Harbor for the reduction of Fort Sumter; they had prohibited the supply of fuel, water, provisions to national ships; one of their states-Florida, the territory of which had been bought from Spain with the money of the Union, and rescued from the Indians by the national army-had actually passed a law punishing with death any of its citizens who should hold office under the United States after a collision had taken place. Above all, they overlooked that a revolt against an established government, whether successful or unsuccessful, must in modern times justify itself in the sight of law and order, and that, even admitting that the Confederacy had already triumphant

Insincere and offen

sive character of the




ly and permanently established itself, the insolent spirit. of its correspondence could not be tolerated by any foreign power.

As soon as it was known that the commissioners would not be received at Washington, the conspir ators took measures for bringing their case to a forcible issue. They ordered their general, Beauregard, to effect the reduction of Fort Sumter, and wrest from the national government that public work.

By this high-handed measure-a measure of defiancethey did indeed secure the co-operation of the Slave States, but they accomplished more than that—they united the Free States.

The conspirators order an attack on Fort Sumter.

There was no other course for Lincoln but to resist. It was impossible that such an attack on the national authority should pass without a vindication by him of the national supremacy. On the 15th of April he therefore issued the fol lowing proclamation, calling forth the militia, and summoning an extra session of Congress:

Lincoln, compelled to resist, calls out the militia and summons Congress.

"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 the militia of the several states of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, 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 in their respective chambers at 12 o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the 4th 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 15th 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.


"By the President:

"WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."

Scarcely was this proclamation issued when one of the chief hopes of the conspirators was extinguished. They had expected that the Free States would make no warlike resistance, and had inculcated that expectation on their communities. They found, however, that not only had the Presi dent's demand upon those states been complied with in a few hours, but that in all directions vast preparations were making for a contest which, regarding it now as inevitable, the North accepted. The Northern governors thoroughly sustained the President, and in their turn were enthusiastically supported by their people.

They who had denied that slavery had any thing to do with the public troubles, and had asserted that it was the tariff or other subordinate matters which had caused

The Free States comply with his call for troops.



the alienation, received in what now took place a complete The geographical boundary between allegiance and opposition to the government was at once ascertained to be the slave line.

The governors of Maryland and Delaware only prof fered troops for the defense of Washington City. All aid by the other Slave States was refused. The Governor of Virginia replied that he should furnish none for any such purpose as that proposed. He denounced the object as for the subjugation of the Southern States, and accused the President of inaugurating civil The Governor of North Carolina declared that he would be no party to such a wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to a war on the liberties of a free people. The Governor of Kentucky replied, "I say emphatically that Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States." The Governor of Tennessee would not "furnish a single man for coercion, but fifty thousand, if necessary, for the defense of our rights and those of our Southern brethren." The Governor of Missouri replied, "Your requisition is illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical, and can not be complied with." The Governor of Arkansas replied, "Your demand is only adding insult to injury."

The Slave States refuse.


The calling forth of the militia was immediately followed by another very important measure, the establishment of a blockade. In a sub

Lincoln establishes a blockade of the Southern ports.

sequent chapter I shall consider the political necessities which demanded the prohibition of South

ern commerce.

There were two methods by which this might be done: (1), by the establishment of a blockade; (2), by the closure of the ports. Of these the former was selected.

« PreviousContinue »