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THE

COMMISSION ERS' REJOINDER.

147

The Commissioners'

re

garrison to be strengthened. lated the pledged faith of the The Commissioners'

You compelled an officer, sta- Government, and that unless the Rejoinder.

Rejoinder. tioned at Fort Sumter, to return pledge was instantly redeemed, immediately to the arsenal forty muskets which he he was dishonered, denial was impossible; you had taken to arm his men. Yon expressed not to one, did not deny it. You do not deny it now, but you but to many, of the most distinguished of our public seem to escape from its obligation on the grounds, characters, whose testimony will be placed upon the first, that we terminated all negotiation by demandrecord whenever it is necessary, your anxiety for a ing, as a preliminary, the withdrawal of the United peaceful termination of this controversy, and your States troops from the harbor of Charleston; and, willingness not to disturb the military status of the second, that the authorities of South Carolina, inforts, if Commissioners should be sent to the Gov- stead of asking explanation, and giving you the opernment, whose communications you promised to portunity to vindicate yourself, took possession of submit to Congress. You received and acted on as other property of the United States. We will exasurances from the highest official authorities of amine both. South Carolina, that no attempt would be made to In the first place, we deny positively that we have disturb your possession of the forts and property of ever in any way made any such demand. Our letter the United States, if you would not disturb their is in your possession; it will stand by this on reexisting condition until the Commissioners had cord. In it we informed you of the objects of our been sent, and the attempt to negotiate had failed. mission. We say that it would have been our duty You took from the members of the House of Rep. to have assured you of our readiness to commence resentatives a written memorandum that no such negotiations, with the most earnest and anxious deattempt should be made, provided that no sire to settle all questions between us amicably and inforcements should be sent into those forts, and to our mutual advantage, but that events had rentheir relative military status shall remain as at pres- dered that assurance impossible, We stated the ent.' And, although you attach no force to the events, and we said that until some satisfactory acceptance of such a paper-although you .con- explanation of these events was given us, we could sidered it as nothing more in effect than the prom- not proceed; and then, having made this request ise of highly honorable gentlemen'--as an obliga- for explanation, we added: “And in conclusion, tion on one side, without corresponding obligation we would urge upon you the immediate withon the other-it must be remembered (if we were drawal of the troops from the harbor of Charleston. rightly informed) that you were pledged, if you ever Under present circumstances they are a standing did send reinforcements, to return it to those from menace, which renders negotiation impossible," whom you had received it, before you executed your &c. “Under present circumstances !” What cirresolution. You sent orders to your officers, com- cumstances? Why, clearly, the occupation of Fort manding them strictly to follow a line of conduct Sumter and the dismantling of Fort Moultrie by in conformity with such an understanding. Be. Major Anderson, in the face of your pledges and sides all this, you had received formal and official without explanation or practical disavowal. And notice from the Governor of South Carolina that we there is nothing in the letter which would, or could, had been appointed Commissioners, and were on our have prevented you from declining to withdraw the way to Washington. You knew the implied condi- troops, and offering the restoration of the status to tion under which we came; our arrival was notified which you were pledged, if such has been your deto you, and an hour appointed for an interview. sire; it would have been viser and better, in our We arrived at Washington on Wednesday, at 3 opinion, to have withdrawn the troops, and this o'clock, and you appointed an interview with us at opinion we urged upon you, but we demanded 1 the next day. Early on that day, (Thursday,) the nothing but such an explanation of the events of the news was received here of the movement of Major last twenty-four hours as would restore our confiAnderson. That news was communicated to you dence in the spirit with which the negotiations immediately, and you postponed our meeting until should be conducted. In relation to this withdrawal 2 o'clock on Friday, in order that you might con of the troops from the harbor, we are compelled, sult your Cabinet. On Friday we saw you, and we however, to notice one passage of your letter. Recalled upon you then to redeem your pledge. You ferring to it, you say: This I cannot do. This I will could not deny it. With the facts we have stated, not do. Such an idea was never thought of by me and in the face of the crowning and conclusive in any possible contingency. No, allusion to it had fact that your Secretary of War had resigned his ever been made in any communication between myseat in the Cabinet, upon the publicly avowed self and any human being.' ground that the action of Major Anderson had vio " In reply to this statement, we are compelled to

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say, that your conversation with but for the efforts of those who The Commissioners' Rejoinder. us left upon our minds the dis- put their trust in your honor.

The Commissioners'

Rejoinder. tinct impression, that you did Believing that they were threatseriously contemplate the withdrawal of the troops ened by Fort Sumter especially, the people were with from Charleston harbor. And in support of this im- difficulty restrained from securing, without blood, pression, we would add, that we have the positive as the possession of this important fortress. After many surance of gentlemen of the highest possible public and reiterated assurances, given on your behalf, reputation and the most unsullied integrity--men which we cannot believe unauthorized, they deterwhose name and fame, secured by long service and mined to forbear, and in good faith sent on their patriotic achievements, place their testimony be- Commissioners to negotiate with you. They meant yond cavil—that such suggestions had been made you no harm-wished you no ill. They thought of to and urged upon you by them, and had formed you kindly, believed you true, and were willing, as the subject of more than one earnest discussion far as was consistent with duty, to spare you unwith you. And it was this knowledge that induced necessary and hostile collision. Scarcely had these us to urge upon you a policy, which had to recom Commissioners left than Major Anderson waged mend it its own wisdom and the might of such war. No other words will describe his action. It authority. As to the second point, that the author was not a peaceful change from one fort to another; ities of South Carolina, instead of asking explana- it was a hostile act in the highest sense, and only tions, and giving you the opportunity to vindicate justified in the presence of a superior enemy, and yourself, took possession of other property of the in imminent peril. He abandoned his position, United States, we would observe:-1. That even if spiked his guns, burned his gun-carriagss, made this were so, it does not avail you for defence, for preparations for the destruction of his post, and the opportunity for decision was afforded you be withdrew, under cover of the night, to a safer pofore these facts occurred. We arrived in Washing. sition. This was war. No man could have believed ton on Wednesday; the news from Major Anderson (without your assurance,) that any officer could reached here early on Thursday, and was imme. have taken such a step, 'not only without orders, diately communicated to you. All that day men of but against orders.' What the State did was in the highest consideration-men who had striven simple self-defence; for this act, with all its attendsuccessfully to lift you to your great office-who ing circumstances, was as much war as firing a had been your tried and true friends through the volley; and war being thus begun, until those troubles of your administration, sought you and en commencing it explained their action and disavowed treated you to act—to act at once. They told you their intention, there was no room for delay; and that every hour complicated your position. They even at this moment while we are writing, it is more only asked you to give the assurance that if the than probable, from the tenor of your letter, that facts were so—that if the commander had acted reinforcements are hurrying on to the conflict, so without and against your orders, and in violation that when the first gun shall be fired, there will of your pledges—that you would restore the status have been on your part one continuous, consistent you had pledged your honor to maintain. You re- series of actions, commencing in a demonstration fused to decide. Your Secretary at War, your im- essentially warlike, supported by regular reinforcemediate and proper adviser in this whole matter, ments and terminating in defeat or victory. And all waited anxiously for your decision, until he felt that this without the slightest provocation; for, among delay was becoming dishonor. More than twelve the many things which you have said, there is one hours passed, and two Cabinet meetings had ad-thing you cannot say-you have waited anxiously journed, before you knew what the authorities of for news from the seat of war, in hopes that delay South Carolina had done ; and your prompt decision would furnish some excuse for this precipitation. at any moment of that time would have avoided But this tangible evidence of a design to proceed the subsequent complications. But, if you had to a hostile act, on the part of the authorities of known the acts of the authorities of South Carolina, South Carolina,' which is the only justification of should that have prevented your keeping your Major Anderson you are forced to admit, ' has not faith? What was the condition of things? For the yet been alleged. But you have decided, you have last sixty days you have had in Charleston harbor resolved to hold, by force, what you have obtained not force enough to hold the forts against an equal through our misplaced confidence; and by refusing enemy. Two of them were empty-one of those to disavow the action of Major Anderson, have contwo the most important in the harbor. It could verted his violation of orders into a legitimate act of have been taken at any time. You ought to know your executive authority. Be the issue what it better than any man that it would have been taken, may, of this we are assured, that, if Fort Moultrie

PROCEEDINGS OF

FIFTI CONGRESS.

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has been recorded in history This highly offensive document the PresiThe Commissioners' Rejoinder.

as a memorial of Carolina gal dent refused to receive. It was returned with

lantry, Fort Sumter will live the following endorsement : upon the succeeding page as an imperishable testimony of Carolina faith.

“ EXECUTIVE MANSTOWednesdayck,} “By your course, you have probably rendered “ This paper, just presented to the President, is civil war inevitable. Be it so. If you choose to of such a character, that he declines to receive it." force this issue upon us, the State of South Carolina

The Commissioners left will accept it, and, relying upon Him who is the God

Washington for Charles The Result. of Justice as well as the God of Hosts, will endeavor to perform the great duty which lies before her

ton, Wednesday afternoon. hopefully, bravely, and thoroughly.

The correspondence above given was first “Our mission being one for negotiation and peace,

published in the Charleston Courier of Janand your note leaving us without hope of a with- uary 5th. It was regarded as equivalent to drawal of the troops from Fort Sumter, or of the re- an opening of hostilities, and every hour was storation of the status quo existing at the time of our expected to bring news of an assault on Sumarrival, and intimating, as we think, your determin- ter. In view of such an event, the steamer ation to reinforce the garrison in the harbor of Star of the West departed, secretly, from New Charleston, we respectfully inform you that we pur- York harbor on the evening of Saturday, pose returning to Charleston to-morrow afternoon. January 5th, with a heavy store of provisions

“We have the honor to be, Sir, very respectfully, and 250 troops for Major Anderson, in your obedient servants,

command of men of tried patriotism and efR. W. BARNWELL,

ficiency. The President, under the influence J. H. ADAMS, Commissioners. of the loyalty and vigor infused into his JAMES L. ORR,

counsels by the new members of the Cabinet, " To His Excellency, the President of the United seemed, for the moment, to awaken to his States."

full duty.

CHAPTER IV.

THE PROCEEDINGS OF CONGRESS CONTINUED. FIFTH WEEK, THE

SPEECHES OF SENATORS BENJAMIN, BAKER, DOUGLAS,
OTHERS. IMPORTANT RESOLUTIONS.

AND

In the Senate, Monday, December 31st, Mr. inform the Senate what disposition had been Powell, from the Special Committe of Thir- made of the arms made at the National teen, reported that it had not been able to Armories, if any had been sold, and, if so, at agree upon any general plan of adjustment. what prices and to whom, what number there Mr. Crittenden then asked that some day be were in the arsenals, and how they were proset apart for the consideration of the joint tected. This was immediately objected to by resolution offered by him. The resolution Southern members, and was laid over under was, thereupon, made the special order for the rules. Mr. Benjamin, of Lousiana, having Wednesday, when Mr. Douglas would have the floor, addressed the Senate on the state the floor. Mr. Wilson (Republican) of Massa- of the country. The audience was unusually chusetts, introduced a resolution of inquiry, large, and the interest manifested was intense, that the Secretary of War be requested to owing not more to the Senator's ability as a

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speaker, than to the position which he was to what power can compel that majority to reassume, of an open advocacy of the secession pair that wrong? Suppose that South Carprogramme. Hitherto Mr. Benjamin had | olina should then withdraw from the Union been regarded as eminently conservative, and who could say it was a violation of the opposed to disunion ; but the growing senti- Constitution Suppose, again, that a wrong ment of his State for secession, and the is perpetrated which does not appear quite futility of compromise, had impelled him to clear to the North but does appear clear to accept the Southern view, and to become its South Carolina-suppose she is denied acadvocate. His speech would define the course cess to the Territories? Is she without any of the “Conservatives," and, for that reason, remedy under the Constitution ? If there is commanded unusual consideration.

none then she must be the judge of the wrong Mr. Benjamin commenced and the mode of redress. He read an extract Benjamin's Speech. by referring to a speech from an address delivered by John Quincy

made by him four years Adams, in New York, in 1838, in which he previously, in which he declared that the ag- said nations themselves must be the sole gressions of the North would force the South judge whether compacts are broken, and also to throw the sword in the balance. The pro- saying “ that when all fraternal feeling was phecy was now fact. How will the country gone between the States, then it was time to and Congress meet the issue ? South Carolina, separate in peace and return to their original exercising her inalienable rights, had dis- state.” Suppose that South Carolina is wrong solved her relations with the Union, Missis- in believing that wrong has been done her, sippi would follow next week; then Alabama still that does not alter the issue whether we and Florida; a week after, Georgia; a little shall permit her to withdraw or force her later Louisiana, and, soon after her, Arkan- back. In reply to the Senator from Wisconsas. What then shall be done? Shall South sin (Mr. Doolittle), he claimed that a citizen Carolina be acknowledged a free and inde- was bound to obey his State Government. pendent State, or shall she be coerced by The Republican Senators say that they will force? Mr. Benjamin proceeded to quote not coerce a State, but enforce the laws from Mr. Webster's speech in the Rhode against individuals. But how can they punIsland case, to show that the Great Expounder ish an individual in a State for treason? of the Constitution considered a Convention Where are they to find the judge and jury to of Delegates, duly elected and assembled, had do so, when all the citizens in the State think full power to act on the question of Union, or that he has done right? They could not secession from the Union. He also quoted blockade a port without declaring war; from Mr. Madison's works, to prove that he they could not embargo one port without held the same view. He read from the de- closing the other. He claimed that neither bate of the Convention which formed the Congress nor the President had the power to Constitution, to show that the members of go into a State with a military force without that Convention refused to make the Senate the intervention of the civil power-some the judge of, or give the President the power civil process must precede the military force. to veto, the action of a State; that they re- He argued that they could not collect the fused to give Congress the power to negative revenue by force. Such threats were only a State legislation, and that they specially re- pretext to cover up the real question, which fused to give any power to coerce States; is no other than this: "Shall we acknowledge yet, when the State Convention came to the independence of a seceding State or reratify the Constitution, the States were not duce her to subjection by war ?" Mr. Benjasufficiently secure. It must be admitted that min here read from Vattel to show that the certain political rights are guaranteed the hypocritical keeping of compacts was of no States, but when these rights are denied avail, and referred to the case of Rhadamiswhere is the remedy ? Suppose that South cus, who promised not to use steel against a Carolina should send two Senators here, and captive, yet smothered him. He added: the majority should refuse to receive but one, “ And you, Senators of the Republican party, you

MR. M‘KEAN'S RESOLUTION.

151

assert, and your people assert, | again as Senators in one common council chamber Mr. Benjamin's

that, under a just and fair in- of the nation, no more forever. We desire, we beSpeech.

terpretation of the Federal seech you, to let this parting be in peace. I conjure Constitution, it is right to deny that our slaves, you to indulge in no vain delusion, that duty, or which, directly or indirectly, involve a value of conscience, or interest, or honor, impose upon you $4,000,000,000, are property at all, entitled to protec- the necessity of invading our States, and shedding tion in the Territories under and by the Govern the blood of our people. You have no possible jusment. You assert that, by a fair interpretation of tification for it. I trust it is from no craven spirit, that instrument, it is right to encourage, by all pos or any sacrifice of the dignity or honor of my own sible means, the robbery of this property, and to State, that I make this last appeal, but from far legislate so as to render its recovery as dangerous higher and holier motives. If, however, it shall and difficult as possible. You say that it is right and prove vain—if you are resolute to pervert the Govproper, under the Constitution, to prevent our mere ernment, framed by the fathers for the protection transit across a sister State, to embark with our of our rights. into an instrument for subjugating and property on a lawful voyage, without being openly enslaving us, then, appealing to the Supreme Judge despoiled of it. You assert that it is right and of the Universe, for the rectitude of our intentions, proper to hold us up to the ban of mankind, in we must meet the issue you force upon us as best speeches and writings, as thieves, robbers, villains, becomes freemen defending all that is dear to man. and criminals of the blackest die, because we con What may be the fate of this horrible contest none tinue to own property, which we owned at the time can foretell; but this much I will say, the fortunes we all signed the compact. You say it is right that of war may be adverse to your arms; you may carry we should be disposed to spend our treasure in the desolation into our peaceful land, and with torch and purchase, and our blood in the conquest of foreign firebrand may set our cities in flames; you may even Territory, and yet have no right to enter it for set- emulate the atrocities of those who, in the days of tlement, without leaving behind our most valuable the Revolution, hounded on the bloodthirsty savage; property, under penalty of its confiscation. Your you may give the protection of your advancing fathers interpreted this instrument to mean safety armies to the furious fanatics who desire nothing and peace to all, and you say it is eminently in ac more than to add the horrors of servile insurrection cordance with the surety that our welfare and peace to civil war; you may do all this, and more, but you is to be preserved, that our sister States should never can subjugate us; you never can convert the combine to prevent our growth and development, free sons of the soil into vassals, paying tribute to and surround us with a cordon of hostile communi- your power; you never can degrade them to a serties, for the express and avowed purpose of accu- vile and inferior race; never, never, never." mulating, in dense masses and within restricted lim Intense excitement followed its conclusion. its, a population which you believe to be dangerous, The crowded galleries gave vent to shouts and thereby forcing us to sacrifice a property nearly of applause, clapping of hands and huzzas. sufficient in value to pay the public debt of every Mr. Mason, of Virginia, with a voice which nation in Europe. This construction of the instrument which was to preserve our security and pro

rose above the din, demanded that the gallemote vor welfare, and which we only signed on your ries instantly be cleared. Mr. Yulee, of Floriassurance, that such was its object, you tell us now da, moved to adjourn, and demanded a vote. is a fair canstruction. You don't propose to enter Order was restored after the galleries were our States, you say, to kill and destroy our institu- cleared, when Mr. Baker, of Oregon, having tions by force. Oh, no. You initiate the faith of the floor, the Senate adjourned to WednesRhadamiscus, and you propose simply to inclose us day. in an embrace that will suffocate us."

In the House, Monday, December 31st, a After referring, at some length, to the resolution of inquiry-similar to that of Mr. anomalous opinion held by the Republicans Wilson, in the Senate—was offered by Mr. saying that they disliked the Southern States, McPherson, (Rep.) of Pa., but was instantbut would not let them go—he closed as fol- ly objected to by Southern members, and was lows:

not, therefore, received. Mr. McKean, (Rep.) "Our Committee has reported this morning that of N. Y., asked leave. to offer a resolution as 09 feasible scheme of adjustment can be devised. follows:The day of adjustment has passed. If you propose “ That the several States did to make one now, you are too late. And now, not ordain and establish this McKean's Resolution. Senators, within a very few weeks we part, to meet l Government; that it was made

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