« ZurückWeiter »
time be crashed on short notice, might be pleasantly humored or wisely tolerated to any extent short of the actual commencement of hostilities.
On the 9th day of January, 1861, the State of Mississippi seceded from the Union. Alabama and Florida followed on the 11th day of the same month; Georgia on the 20th ; Louisiana on the 26th; and Texas on the 1st of February. Thus, in less than three months after the announcement of Lincoln's election, all the Cotton States, with the exception of Alabama, had seceded from the Union, and had, besides, secured every Federal fort within their limits, except the forts in Charleston harbor, and Fort Pickens, below Pensacola, which were retained by United States troops.
The United States Congress had, at the beginning of its session in December, 1860, appointed committees in both houses to consider the state of the Union. Neither committee was able to agree upon any mode of settlement of the pending issue between the North and the South. The Republican members in both committees rejected propositions acknowledging the right of property in slaves, or recommending the division of the territories between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding States by a geographical line. In the Senate, the propositions, commonly known as Mr. Crittenden's, were voted against by every Republican senator ; and the House, on a vote of yeas and nays,
refused to consider certain propositions, moved by Mr. Etheridge, which were even less favorable to the South than Mr. Crittenden's.
A resolution, giving a pledge to sustain the President in the use of force against seceding States, was adopted in the House of Representatives by a large majority; and, in the Senate, every Republican voted to substitute for Mr. Crittenden's propositions, resolutions offered by Mr. Clarke, of New Hamp shire, declaring that no new concessions, guaranties, or amendments to the Constitution were necessary; that the demands of the South were unreasonable, and that the remedy for the present dangers was simply to enforce the laws—in other words-coercion and war.
On the 19th day of January, the Legislature of the State of Virginia had passed resolutions having in view a peaceful sett ement of the questions which threatened the Union, and
suggesting that a National Peace Conference should be held in Washington on the 4th of February. This suggestion met with a favorable response from the Border Slave States and from professed conservatives in the North. The Conference met on the day designated, and Ex-President Tyler, of Virginia, was called to preside over its deliberations. It remained in session several days, and adjourned without agreeing upon any satisfactory plan of adjustment.
Most of the delegates from the Border Slave States indicated a willingness to accept the few and feeble guaranties contained in the resolutions offered, a short time before, in the Senate by Mr. Crittenden. These guaranties, paltry and ineffectual as they were, would not be conceded by the representatives of the Northern States. The Peace Conference finally adopted what was called the Franklin Substitute in lieu of the propositions offered by Mr. Guthrie, of Kentucky-a settlement less favorable to the South than that proposed by Mr. Crittenden. It is useless to recount the details of these measures. Neither the Crittenden propositions, the Franklin Substitute, nor any plan that pretended to look for the guaranty of Southern rights, received a respectful notice from the Republican majority in Congress.
Shortly after its assemblage in January, the Virginia Legislature had called a Convention of the people to decide upon the course proper to be pursued by the State, with reference to her present relations to the Union and the future exigencies of her situation. The election was held on the 4th of February, and resulted in the choice of a majority of members opposed to unconditional secession. Subsequently, Tennessee and North Carolina decided against calling a Convention—the former by a large, the latter by a very small majority. These events greatly encouraged the enemies of the South, but without cause, as they really indicated nothing more than the purpose of the Border Slave States to await the results of the peace propositions, to which they had committed themselves.
In the mean time, the seceding States were erecting the structure of a government on the foundation of a new Confederation of States. A convention of delegates from the six seceding States assembled in Congress at Montgomery, Alabama, on the 4th of February, 1861, for the purpose of organ
izing a provisional government. This body adopted a Constitution for the Confederate States on the 8th of February. On the 9th of February, Congress proceeded to the election of a President and Vice-President, and unanimously agreed upon Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, for President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, for Vice-President. Mr. Davis was inaugurated Provisional President on the 18th of February, and delivered an address, explaining the revolution as a change of the constituent parts, but not the system, of the government, and referring to the not unreasonable expectation that, with a Constitution differing only from that of their fathers, in so far as it was explanatory of their well-known intent, freed from sectional conflicts, the States from which they had recently parted might seek to unite their fortunes to those of the new Confederacy.
President Buchanan had, in his message to Congress, denounced Secession as revolutionary, but had hesitated at the logical conclusion of the right of “coercion," on the part of the Federal Government, as not warranted by the text of the Constitution. Timid, secretive, cold, and with no other policy than that of selfish expediency, the remnant of his administration was marked by embarrassment, double-dealing, and weak and contemptible querulousness. He had not hesitated, under the pressure of Northern clamor, to refuse to order Major Anderson back to Fort Moultrie, thus violating the pledge that he had given to the South Carolina authorities, that the military status of the United States in Charleston harbor should not be disturbed during his administration. He added to the infamy of this perfidy by a covert attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter, under the specious plea of provisioning a "starying garrison;" and when the Federal steamship, the Star of the West, which was sent on this mission, was, on the 9th of January, driven off Charleston barbor by the South Carolina batteries on Morris Island, he had the hardihood to affect surprise and indignation at the reception given the Federal reinforcements, and to insist that the expedition had been ordered with the concurrence of his Cabinet, including Mr. Thompson, of Mississippi, then Secretary of the Interior, who repelled the slander, denounced the movement as underhanded, and as a breach not only of good faith towards South Carolina,
but of personal confidence between the President and his ad visers, and left the Cabinet in disgust.
On the incoming of the administration of Abraham Lincoln, on the 4th of March, the rival government of the South had perfected its organization; the separation had been widened and envenomed by the ambidexterity and perfidy of President Buchanan; the Southern people, however, still hoped for a peaceful accomplishment of their independence, and deplored war between the two sections, as “a policy detrimental to the civilized world.” The revolution in the mean time had rapidly gathered, not only in moral power, but in the means of war and the muniments of defence. Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney had been captured by the South Carolina troops ;. Fort Pulaski, the defence of the Savannah, had been taken; the arsenal at Mount Vernon, Alabama, with 20,000 stand of arms, had been seized by the Alabama troops; Fort Morgan, in Mobile Bay, had been taken ; Forts Jackson, St. Philip, and Pike, near New Orleans, had been captured by the Louisiana troops; the Pensacola Navy-Yard and Forts Barrancas and McRae had been taken, and the siege of Fort Pickens commenced; the Baton Rouge Arsenal had been surrendered to the Louisiana troops; the New Orleans Mint and CustomHouse had been taken; the Little Rock Arsenal 'had been seized by the Arkansas troops; and, on the 16th of February, General Twiggs had transferred the public property in Texas to the State authorities. All of these events had been accomplished without bloodshed. Abolitionism and Fanaticism had not yet lapped blood. But reflecting men saw that the peace was deceitful and temporizing; that the temper of the North was impatient and dark; and that, if all history was not a lie, the first incident of bloodshed would be the prelude to a war of monstrous proportions.
Mr. Lincoln's Journey to Washington.--Ceremonies of the Inauguration. The lnangural Speech of President Lincoln, -The Spirit of the New Administration.--Its Financial Condition.-Embassy from the Southern Confederacy:-Perfidious Treatment of the Southern Commissioners.- Preparations for War.-The Military Bills of the Confederate Congress.-General Beauregard.-Fortifications of Charleston Harbor.Naval Preparations of the Federal Government.--Attempted Reinforcement of Fort Suniter --Perñdy of the Federal Government.--Excitement in Charleston.-Reduction of Fort Sumter by the Confederate Forces. -How the News was received in Washington.-Lincoln's Calculation. His Proclamation of War. The “ Reaction" in the North.-- Displays of Rancor towards the South.--Northern Democrats.—Replies of Southern Governors to Lincoln's Requisition for Troops.-Spirit of the South.-Secession of Virginia.- Maryland.--The Baltimore Riot.--Patriotic Example of Missouri.Lincoln's Proclamation blockading the Southern Ports.--General Lee.-The Federals evenate Harper's Ferry.-Burning of the Navy Yard at Norfolk.– The Second SecesBionary Movement.--Spirit of Patriotic Devotion in the South.--Supply of Arms in the South.-The Federal Government and the State of Maryland.—The Prospect.
The circumstances of the advent of Mr. Lincoln to Washington were not calculated to inspire confidence in his courage or wisdom, or in the results of his administration. His party had busily prophesied, and sought to innoculate the North with the conviction, that his assumption of the Presidential office would be the signal of the restoration of peace; that by some mysterious ingenuity he would resolve the existing political complication, restore the Union, and inaugurate a season of unexampled peace, harmony, and prosperity. These weak and fulsome prophecies had a certain effect. In the midst of anxiety and enıbarrassment, in which no relief had yet been suggested, the inauguration of a new administration of the guvernment was looked to by many persons in the North, outside the Republican party, with a vague sense of hope, which was animated by reports, quite as uncertain, of the vigor, decision, and individuality of the new President. For months since the announcement of his election, Mr. Lincoln's lips had been closed. He had been studiously silent; expectations were raised by what was thought to be an indication of a mysterivus wisdom; and the North impatiently waited for the hour when the oracle's lips were to be opened.
These vague expectations were almost ludicrously disappointed. On leaving his home, in Springfield, Illinois, for