Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

I ae

*

Q. I want to know whether he stands, to-day, , of existence. We know that some Southern men do pledged to the abolition of Slavery in the District of free their slaves, go North, and become tip-top AboColumbia ?

litionists; while some Northern ones go South, and A. I do not stand pledged to-day to the abolition become most cruel Slave-masters. of Slavery in the District of Columbia.

"When Southern people tell us they are no more Q. I desire him to answer whether he stands responsible for the origin of Slavery than we, pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between knowledge the fact. When it is said that the instithe different States !

tution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid A. I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and slave trade between the different States.

appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them Q. I desire to know whether he stands pledged to for not doing what I should not know how to do myprohibit Slavery in all the Territories of the United self. If all earthly power were given me, I should States, north, as well as south, of the Missouri Com- not know what to do as to the existing institution. promise line?

* It does seem to me that systems of gradual A. I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardibelief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit ness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethSlavery in all the United States' Territories.

ren in the South. Q. I desire him to answer whether he is opposed

“When they remind us of their constitutional to the acquisition of any new Territory, unless Sla- rights, I acknowledge them, not greedily, but fully very is first prohibited therein ?

and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for
A. I am not generally opposed to honest acqui- the reclaiming of their fugitives, which should not,
sition of Territory, and in any given case I would or in its stringency, be more likely to carry a free man
would not oppose such acquisition, accordingly as I into Slavery, than our ordinary criminal laws are to
might think such acquisition would or would not ag. hang an innocent one."
gravate the Slavery question among ourselves."

In the face of this solid array of testimony,
To this must be added directly on the point of interest, it is impos-
Lincoln's feelings to-
his directly expressed views

sible for any candid judge to justify the South-
in regard to the South, his

ern leaders' assumption of the hostility of the feelings toward it, his wishes regarding their President elect as one prime cause of the reprosperity, &c. These are stated clearly in bellion. The bad use made of his abstract his Peoria speech above quoted from :

belief on points of general economy—the total "I think I have no prejudice against the Southern

suppression of his views, wishes, and purposes people. They are just what we would be in their situation. If Slavery did not now exist among them,

on the very points involved—if they effected they would not introduce it. If it did now exist

the end designed, of plunging the country among us, we should not instantly give it up. This into the revolution, will but add another inI believe of the masses North and South. Doubtless eradicable witness to prove that the entire there are individuals on both sides who would not disunion movement was based upon a studied hold slaves under any circumstances, and others who deception of the masses in the South. would gladly introduce Slavery anew if it were out

wards the South,

!

CHAPTER III.

THE SOUTH CAROLINA COMMISSIONERS AT WASHINGTON. THEIR

CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE PRESIDENT ON THEIR RETURN TO CHARLESTON.

DECEMBER 29th, the here the representatives of an authority which could Their Letter of

three Commissioners elect- at any time within the past sixty days have taken Accredit.

ed by the South Carolina possession of the forts in Charleston harbor, but, Convention, to represent that body to the upon pledges given in a manner that we cannot Government of the United States, sent in doubt, determined to trust to your honor rather

than to its own power. Since our arrival, an officer their letter of accredit to the President. It of the United States, acting, as we are assured, not read :

only without, but against your orders, has disman “WASHINGTON, Dec. 28th, 1860.

tled one fort, and occupied another, thus altering "Sir:-We have the honor to transmit to you a to a most important extent the condition of affairs copy of the full powers from the Convention of the

under which we came. people of South Carolina, under which we are ' au

“ Until these circumstances are explained in a thorized and empowered to treat with the Govern- manner which relieves us of all doubt as to the ment of the United States for the delivery of the spirit in which these negotiations shall be conductforts, magazines, lighthouses, and other real estate, ed, we are forced to suspend all discussion as to any with their appurtenances, within the limits of South arrangements by which our mutual interests might Carolina, and also for an apportionment of the pub- be amicably adjusted. lie debt, and for a division of all the property held

“* And, in conclusion, we would urge upon you the by the Government of the United States, as agent of immediate withdrawal of the troops from the harbor the Confederated States, of which South Carolina of Charleston. Under present circumstances, they was recently a member, and generally to negotiate are a standing menace which renders negotiation as to all other measures and arrangements proper impossible, and, as our recent experience shows, to be made and adopted in the existing relation of threatens speedily to bring to a bloody issue questhe parties, and for the continuance of peace and tions which ought to be settled with temperance amity between this Commonwealth and the Govern- and judgment. ment at Washington.

“ We have the honor to be, very respectfully, ** In the execution of this trust, it is our duty to

your obedient servants, furnish you, as we now do, with an official copy of

R. W. BARNWELL, the Ordicance of Secession, by which the State of

J. H. ADAMS. Commissioners. South Carolina has resumed the powers she dele

JAMES L. ORR, gated to the Government of the United States, and

" To the President of the United States." has declared her perfect sovereignty and inde To this the President replied as follows: pendence.

" WASHINGTON CITY, Dec. 30, 1860. " It would also have been our duty to have inform “ GENTLEMEN --I have bad the honor to receive ed you that we were ready to negotiate with you your communication of 28th inst., together with a apon all such questions as are necessarily raised by copy of your 'full powers the adoption of this ordinance, and that we were from the Convention of the

The President's prepared to enter upon this negotiation with the people of South Carolina,' earnest desire to avoid all unnecessary and hostile authorizing you to treat with collision, and so to inaugurate our new relations as the Government of the United States, on various to secure mutual respect, general advantage, and a important subjects therein mentioned, and also a fatare of good will and harmony, beneficial to all the copy of the Ordinance, bearing date on the 20th inst., parties concerned.

declaring that the Union now subsisting between " But the events of the past twenty-four hours South Carolina and other States, under the name of render such an assurance impossible. We came the United States of America is hereby dissolved.'

Answer.

“ In answer to this communi " This brings me to a considThe President's cation I have to say that my eration of the nature of those

The President's Answer.

Answer, position, as President of the alleged pledges, and in what United States, was clearly defined, in the message to manner they have been observed. In my Message of Congress on the 3d inst. In that I stated that, apart the 3d of December last, I stated, in regard to the from the execution of the laws, so far as this may be property of the United States in South Carolina, that practicable, the Executive has no authority to decide it has been purchased for a fair equivalent, by conwhat shall be the relations between the Federal Goy sent of the Legislature of the State, for the erection ernment and South Carolina. He has been invested of forts, magazines, arsenals, &c., and over these the with no such diseretion. He possesses no power to authority to exercise exclusive legislation,' has been change the relations hitherto existing between them, expressly granted by the Constitution to Congress. It much less to acknowledge the independence of that is not believed that any attempt will be made to exState. This would be to invest a mere executive pel the United States from this property by force; officer with the power of recognizing the dissolution but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the offiof the Confederacy among our thirty-three sovereign cer in command of the forts has received orders to States. It bears no resemblabce to the recognition act strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency, of a foreign de facto government, involving no such the responsibility for consequences would rightfully responsibility. Any attempt to do this would, on rest upon the heads of the assailants. This being his part, be a naked act of usurpation. It is, there the condition of the parties, on Saturday, 8th Defore, my duty to submit to Congress the whole ques-cember, four of the Representatives from South tion, in all its bearings.

Carolina called upon me, and requested an interview. "Such is my opinion still. I could, therefore, we had an earnest conversation on the subject of meet you only as private gentlemen of the highest these forts, and the best means of preventing a colcharacter, and was entirely willing to communicate lision between the parties, for the purpose of sparing to Congress any proposition you might have to make the effusion of blood. I suggested, for prudential to that body upon the subject. Of this you were reasons, that it would be best to put in writing what well aware. It was my earnest desire that such a they said to me verbally. They did so, accordingly, disposition might be made of the whole subject by and, on Monday morning, the 10th inst., three of Congress, who alone possess the power, as to pre-them presented to me a paper signed by all the vent the inauguration of a civil war between the Representatives from South Carolina, with a single parties in regard to the possession of the Federal exception, of which the following is a copy : forts in the harbor of Charleston; and I, therefore, deeply regret that, in your opinion, the events of * To His Excellency JAMES BUCHANAN, President the last twenty-four hours render this impossible.'

of the United States :In conclusion, you urge upon me the immediate In compliance with our statement to yon yesterwithdrawal of the troops from the harbor of Char-day, we now express to you our strong convictions leston,' stating that, under present circumstances, that neither the constituted authorities, nor any they are a standing menace, which renders negotia-body of the people of the State of South Carolina, tion impossible, and, as our recent experience shows, will either attack or molest the United States forts threaten speedily to bring to a bloody issue ques- in the harbor of Charleston, previously to the act tions which ought to be settled with temperance and of the Convention, and we hope and believe not unjudgment."

til an offer has been made through an accredited “ The reason for this change in your position is, representative, to negotiate for an amicable arthat since your arrival in Washington,' an officer of rangement of all matters between the State and the the United States, acting, as we (you) are assured, Federal Government, provided that no reinforcenot only without, but against your (my) orders, has ments shall be sent into those forts, and their reladismantled one fort and occupied another-thus tive military status shall remain as at present, altering to a most important extent the condition of

JOHN MCQUEEN, affairs under which we (you) came.' You also

M. L. BONHAM, allege that you came here, the representatives of

W. W. BOYCE, an authority which could, at any time within the

LAWRENCE M. KEITT. past sixty days, have taken possession of the forts

WASHINGTON, December 9, 1860.' in Charleston harbor, but which, upon pledges given in a manner that we (you) cannot doubt, deter “And here I must, in justice to myself, remark mined to trust to your (my) honor, rather than to its that at the time the paper was presented to me, I power.'

objected to the word 'provided,' as it might be

[ocr errors]

THE PRESIDENT'S ANSWER.

145

Answer.

construed into an agreement on derson had left Fort Moultrie and The President's

The President's Answer.

my part, which I never would proceeded to Fort Sumter, my

make. They said that nothing first promptings were to comwas further from their intention--they did not so un- mand him to return to his former position, and there derstand it, and I should not so consider it. It is to await the contingencies presented in his instrucevident they could enter into no reciprocal agree- tions. This would only have been done with any demnt with me on the subject. They did not professgree of safety to the command by the concurrence to have authority to do this, and were acting in their of the South Carolina authorities. But before any step individual character. I considered it as nothing could possibly have been taken in this direction, we more, in effect, than the promise of highly honorable received information that the “ Palmetto flag floated gentlemen to exert their influence for the purpose out to the breeze at Castle Pinckney, and a large expressed. The event has proven that they have military force went over last night (the 27th) to Fort faithfully kept this promise, although I have never Moultrie.' Thus the authorities of South Carolina, since received a line from any one of them, or from without waiting or asking for any explanations, and any member of the Convention on the subject. It is doubtless believing, as you have expressed it, that well known that it was my determination, and this the officer had acted not only without but against I freely expressed, not to reinforce the forts in the my orders, on the very next day after the night harbor, and thus produce a collision, until they had when the removal was made, seized by a military been actually attacked, or until I had certain evi-force two of the Federal forts in the harbor of Chardence that they were about to be attacked. This leston, and have covered them under their own flag paper I received most cordially, and considered it instead of that of the United States. as a happy omen that peace might be still pre

" At this gloomy period of our history, startling served, and that time might be thus given for reflec- events succeed each other rapidly. On the very tion. This is the whole foundation for the alleged day, the 27th instant, that possession of these two pledge.

forts was taken, the Palmetto flag was raised over “But I acted in the same manner as I would have the Federal Custom-House and Post-office in Charlesdone had I entered into a positive and formal agree-ton; and on the same day every officer of the Cusment with parties capable of contracting, although toms-Collector, Naval Officer, Surveyor, and Apsuch an agreement would have been on my part, praiser-resigned their offices. And this, althongh from the nature of my official dnties, impossible. it was well known from the language of my message The world knows that I have never sent any rein- that, as an executive officer, I felt myself bound to forcements to the forts in Charleston harbor, and collect the revenue at the port of Charleston, under I have certainly never authorized any change to be the existing laws. In the harbor of Charleston we made in their relative military status. Bearing now find three forts confronting each other, over all upon this subject, I refer you to an order issued by of which the Federal flag floated only four days ago ; the Secretary of War, on the lith inst., to Major but now, over two of them, this flag has been supAnderson, but not brought to my notice until the planted, and the Palmetto flag has been substituted 21st inst. It is as follows :-[See page 125 for these in its stead. It is under all these circumstances that crders.)

I am urged immediately to withdraw the troops

from the harbor of Charleston, and am informed that “ This is in conformity to my instructions to Major without this negotiation is impossible. This I canBaell. JOHN B. FLOYD,

not do--this I will not do. Such an idea was never “ Secretary of War."

thought of by me in any possible contingency. No " These were thelast instruc- such allusion had been made in any communication The President's Answer.

tions transmitted to Major An- between myself and any human being. But the in

derson before his removal to ference is that I am bound to withdraw the troops Fort Sumter, with a single exception, in regard to a from the only fort remaining in the possession of the particular which does not in any degree affect the United States in the harbor of Charleston, because present question. Under these circmstances it is the officer there in command of all of the forts clear that Major Anderson acted upon his own res- thought proper, without instructions, to change his ponsibility, and without authority, unless, indeed, position from one of them to another. he had 'tangible evidence of a design to proceed to a " At this point of writing, I have received informhostile act' on the part of South Carolina, which has ation by telegraph from Capt. Humphreys, in comnot yet been alleged. Still he is a brave and honor- mand of the arsenal at Charleston, that it has toable officer, and justice requires that he should not day (Sunday, the 30th) been taken by force of arms.' be condemned without a fair hearing.

It is estimated that the munitions of war belonging ** Be this as it may, when I learned that Major An to this arsenal are worth half a million of dollars.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Comment is needless. After a disposition might be made of
The President's
this information, I have only to the whole subject by Congress,

The Commissioners'
Answer.

Rejoinder. add, that whilst it is my duty to who alone possess the power, defend Fort Sumter as a portion of the public property to prevent the inauguration of a civil war between of the United States, against hostile attacks, from the parties in regard to the possession of the Federal whatever quarter they may come, by such means as I forts in the harbor of Charleston; and I therefore possess for this purpose, I do not perceive how such deeply regret that in your opinion the events of the a defense can be construed into a menace against last twenty-four hours render this impossible. We the city of Charleston. With great personal regard expressed no such opinion; and the language which I remain, yours very respectfully,

you quote as ours, is altered in its sense by the “JAMES BUCHANAN. omission of a most important part of the sentence. ** To Hon. Robert W. Barnwell, James H. Adams, What we did say was, ‘But the events of the last James L. Orr."

twenty-four hours render such an assurance impossiThe Commissioners replied to this in the ble.' Place that “assurance,' as contained in our following strongly personal communication: letter, in the sentence, and we are prepared to re“WASHINGTON, D. C.,

peat it. The Commissioners'

Jan. 1, 1861.

Again, professing to quote our language, you Rejoinder.

“SIR:- We have the honor say:— Thus the authorities of South Carolina, withto acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 30th out waiting or asking for any explanation, and December, in reply to a note addressed by us to doubtless believing, as you have expressed it, that you, on the 28th of the same month, as Commission the officer had acted not only without, but against ers from South Carolina.

my orders,' &c. We expressed no such opinion in * In reference to the declaration with which your reference to the belief of the people of South Caroreply commences, that your position as President lina. The language which you have quoted was apof the United States was already defined in the mes- plied solely and entirely to our assurances obtained sage to Congress of the 20 instant;' that you possess here, and based, as you well know, upon your own

no power to change the relations heretofore exist- declaration--a declaration which, at that time, it was ing between South Carolina and the United States,' impossible for the authorities of South Carolina to much less to acknowledge the independence of have known. But, without following this letter into that State,' and that consequently you could meet all its details, we propose only to meet the chief us only as private gentlemen of the highest charac- points of the argument. ter, with an entire willingness to communicate to “Some weeks ago the State of South Carolina deCongress any proposition we might have to make-clared her intention, in the existing condition of pubwe deem it only necessary to say that the State of lic affairs, to secede from the United States. She South Carolina having, in the exercise of that great called a Convention of her people to put her declaright of self-governmenf which underlies all our po- ration in force. The Convention met and passed litical organizations, declared herself sovereign and the Ordinance of Secession. All this you anticiindependent, we, as her representatives, felt no spe- pated, and your course of action was thoroughly cial solicitude as to the character in which you considered in your Annual Message. You demight recognize us. Satisfied that the State had clared you had no right, and would not attempt, simply exercised her unquestionable right, we were to coerce a Seceding State, but that you were prepared, in order to reach substantial good, to bound by your constitutional oath, and would dewaive the formal considerations which your consti- fend the property of the United States within the tutional scruples might have prevented you from borders of South Carolina if

The Commissioners, extending. We came here, therefore, expecting to an attempt was made to take it

Rejoinder. be received as you did receive us, and perfectly con- by force. Seeing very early tent with that entire willingness, of which you as that this question of property was a difficult and sured us, to submit any proposition to Congress delicate one, you manifested a desire to settle it which we might have to make upon the subject of without collision. You did not reinforce the garrithe independence of the State. The willingness was son in the harbor of Charleston. You removed a ample recognition of the condition of public affairs, distinguished and veteran officer from the command which rendered our presence necessary. In this of Fort Moultrie because he attempted to increase position, however, it is our duty both to the State his supply of ammunition. You refused to send adwhich we represent and to ourselves, to correct ditional troops to the same garrison when applied several important misconceptions of our letter, into for by the officers appointed to succeed him. You which you have fallen.

accepted the resignation of the oldest and most emi. “You say It was my earnest desire that such nent member of your Cabinet, rather than allow the

1

« ZurückWeiter »