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express language in our own Declara- right in all the common territories tion of Independence. But the dis- throughout their territorial existence, tinction must ever be observed, that and until they shall be admitted as
this is revolution against an states into the Union, with or without
established government, and slavery, as their constitutions may prenot a voluntary secession from it by scribe. 3. A like recognition of the virtue of an inherent constitutional right of the master to have his slave, right. In short, let us look the danger who has escaped from one state to anfairly in the face; secession is neither other, restored and delivered up' to more nor less than revolution. It may him, and of the validity of the fugitive or it may not be a justifiable revolu- slave law enacted for this purpose, totion; but still it is revolution.” It was gether with a declaration that all state then asked, what can the president do laws impairing or defeating this right in such a state of things? In effect, ac- are violations of the Constitution, and cording to Mr. Buchanan, nothing. are consequently null and void.” What can Congress do? Can it“com- The message concluded with stating pel a state to remain in the Union ?" that the foreign relations of the country “ Has the Constitution delegated to were generally satisfactory, that the Congress the power to coerce a state tariff needed a revision, the railroad to into submission which is attempting to the Pacific ought to be pushed forward, withdraw, or has actually withdrawn, etc. from the confederacy? If answered in In the House the message received the attirmative, it must be on the prin- but scant courtesy from the prominent ciple that the power has been conferred politicians with whom secession was a upon Congress to declare and to make foregone conclusion, and Mr. Buchanan war against a state. After much serious was spoken of with a mixture of pity reflection, I have arrived at the conclu- and contempt for his weakness, vacillașion that no such power has been deletion, inconsistency, and the like.* Still gated to Congress or to any other de. there were those who not only believed partment of the federal government. that the Union could be preserved and
Without descending to particulars, it may be safely asserted, that
* “President Buchanan had, in his message to Conthe power to make war against a state gress, denounced secession as revolutionary, but had is at variance with the whole spirit and hesitated at the logical conclusion of the right of “co
ercion,' on the part of the Federal government, as not intent of the Constitution."
warranted by the text of the Constitution. Timid, As a sort of make-peace, the president secretive, cold, and with no other policy than that of
selfish expediency, the remnant of his administration suggested an explanatory amendment
was marked by embarrassment, double-dealing, and to the Constitution, “on three special weak and contemptible querulousness.”—“First Year of points: 1. An express recognition of the the War,” p. 39, by E. A. Pollard, Richmond, 1862. The
author indulges in many other bitter remarks, showing right of property in slaves in the states plainly enough that, however convenient it might be where it now exists or may hereafter to use Mr. Buchanan for secession purposes, the leaders
in that movement entertained for him anything but ro exist. 2 The duty of protecting this spect or admiration.
secession or revolution prevented, but to the Constitution, by which Congress who were willing to make any possible would be forbidden “ to abolish, or concession in order to attain this de- interfere, in any state, with the domestic sirable end. Many good men, both in institutions thereof, including that of and out of Congress, thus thought and persons held to labor or servitude by hoped; and the action of the House, the laws of said state.” The Senate in appointing a committee of thirty- concurred in this resolution, on the 4th
three (one from each state), of March, 1861.
and of the Senate, in appoint- Early in the new year (January 8th) ing a committee of thirteen, was hailed Mr. Buchanan* sent a special message as an indication that the dark and to Congress on the state of the country, gloomy clouds which seemed surcharged in which, having given it as his opinion, with the direst of evils would soon pass that “the fact cannot be disguised that away, and that our country would be we are in the midst of a great revoluspared the unutterable trials and tribu- tion,” he pleaded for concession to the lations of war in our very midst. South, for sacrifices of any and every
Disappointment, however, speedily kind in order to save the Union, and followed, In the Senate, December for the adoption of the compromise 18th, the venerable Mr. Crittenden pro- measures so as to prevent secession and posed his “compromise measures ”-vir- revolution. He also sent copies of a tually, a restoration of the Missouri correspondence between himself and compromise—but although earnestly certain gentlemen from South Carolina, advocated by him, and approved by in which, with refreshing coolness and great numbers of the people as wise assurance, these gentlemen required and judicious, in the existing critical Mr. Buchanan to disavow Major Andercondition of affairs, they were lost by a son's act in taking possession of Fort vote of nineteen to twenty, just at the Sumter in Charleston harbor, predictclose of the session. The Senate com- ing terrible things if he did not, and mittee of thirteen, on the last day of in which also Mr. Buchanan refused the year, reported that they had not to do anything of the kind. He been able to agree upon any plan of ad. closed his message in these words : justment of the national difficulties and “ Whatever the result may be, I shall perplexities. In the House a large carry to my grave the consciousness number of “peace propositions” were that I at least meant well for my discussed, and the committee of thirty- country.” On the 28th of January, the three reported their action, late in the president sent another message, inclossession. Several strongly worded re- ing resolutions of the legislature of solutions were adopted, urging an Virginia, urging upon the extreme adherence to the laws, especially in
* The 4th of January, having been recommended by regard to the slavery question and its the president to be observed as a day of fasting, humi. connections ; a resolution was also liation, and prayer, the people generally paid a due and
proper respect to the day, and besorght the guidance passed recommending an amendment and protection of Almighty God.
South on the one hand, and the free will this day inaugurate for the South states on the other, to desist from all a new era of peace, security, and prosfurther action until the result of the perity.” Immediate steps were taken peace conference be ascertained. In to provide for a government in place
he spoke in high terms of of that which they had undertaken to praise of this course on the part of throw off, and to establish a Southern Virginia, and declared his determina- Confederacy. Matters were hurried tion “never to despair of the Republic.” forward as much as possible. The Con
On the 19th of January, the General stitution of the United States was Assembly of Virginia passed those re- adopted nearly as a whole, with two or solutions to which allusion was made three politic provisions introduced, one above, appointing commissioners to against the slave trade, and another meet with those from other states, so against importing slaves from any state
as to devise, if possible, some outside of the confederacy. The first of
way to save the Union. This these would be good capital in seekpeace conference, from whose labors ing foreign aid and sympathy; the much was expected, met, February 4th, latter hore directly on Virginia, the in Washington. Ex-President Tyler great slave-breeding state in the Union. was chosen to preside; one hundred This was accomplished on the 8th of and thirty-three commissioners, repre- February. senting twenty-one states, were present; The next day Jefferson Davis, of it continued in session until February Mississippi, was chosen president, and 27th, when it adjourned, and the result A. H. Stephens vice-president of the of its earnest efforts to discover a way confederation. The former of these of
escape out of existing difficulties and was a thorough politician, well versed dissensions was laid before Congress. in all matters of public life, and a man In the Senate, the “plan of adjustment” of decided ability. As an unscrupulous was discussed for the few remaining devotee to the scheme which had so days of the session, but no action re- long been coming to maturity, he was sulted looking towards the settlement probably the best man who could of the momentous question at issue. have been chosen to go to any and all
On the same day that the peace con- lengths in the attempt to break down ference met at Washington, a congress of and destroy the Union. The latter, delegates from the seven seceded states Mr. Stephens, was also a man of ability, (p. 556) assembled at Montgomery, but of a different stamp from Davis; Alabama. Mr. Cobb, of Georgia, late more yielding and impressible, and less secretary of the treasury, became chair- fixed and stern in principle and determan, and in his address assured his mination. Less than three months behearers that the dissolution of the fore (November 14th, 1860) he had Union was “a fact, an irrevocable made an eloquent speech in presence fact; the separation is perfect, com- of the legislature of Georgia, in which plete, and perpetual.
We he showed the folly and wicked
STEPHENS'S AND DAVIS'S VIEWS.
ness of secession, and bescught his tences are all that we have room to countrymen never to take any part quote. “Looking forward to the speedy in disunion : “ If the Republic is establishment of a permanent governto go down, let us be found at the ment to take the place of this, and last moment standing on the deck with which, by its moral and physical power, the Constitution of the United States will be better able to combat with waving over our heads! . I fear the many difficulties which arise from
if we evince passion, and with the conflicting interests of separate na
out sufficient cause shall take tions, I enter upon the duties of the of. that step, a disruption of the ties that fice to which I have been chosen, with bind us to the Union—that instead of the hope that the beginning of our cabecoming gods, we will become demons, reer as a Confederacy may not be oband at no distant day countenance structed by hostile opposition to the cutting one another's throats.” And enjoyment of our separate existence yet, although avowing such sentiments, and independence which we have ashe was willing to deny them all, and serted, and which, with the blessing of take the post which was offered to him. Providence, we intend to maintain. He even undertook, the very evening
The transition from the former of his election, to boast of the bless- Union to the present Confederacy has ings of slavery, and to glorify it as not proceeded from a disregard, on our the basis of the confederation. Our part, of our just obligations, or any fail fathers held slavery to be wrong every
ure to perform every constitutional way, socially, morally, and politically; duty; moved by no interest or passion but, says Mr. S. (some weeks later, at to invade the rights of others, anxious Savannah), “our new government is to cultivate peace and commerce with founded upon exactly the opposite all nations, if we may not hope to avoid ideas; its foundations are laid, its cor. war, we may at least expect that pos. ner stone rests upon the great truth terity will acquit us of having needthat the negro is not equal to the white lessly engaged in it.
We have man; that slavery, subordination to the entered upon a career of independence superior race, is his natural and nor- which must be inflexibly pursued mal condition. This, our new govern- through many years of controversy with ment, is the first in the history of the our late associates of the Northern world based upon this great physical, States. We have vainly endeavored to philosophical and moral truth.” secure tranquillity and obtain respect for
Davis, having reached Montgomery, the rights to which we are entitled. As was, on the 18th of February, inau- a necessity, not a choice, we have regurated with appropriate ceremonies. sorted to the remedy of separation, and His address was well written and wore henceforth our energies must be directed an appearance of candor and confi- to the conduct of our own affairs, and dence, but was not without its under the perpetuity of the Confederacy which current of apprehension. A few sen-we have formed.”
The cabinet of the rebel president sible facility was afforded to enable the consisted of Mr. Toombs, of Georgia, rebels to carry out their designs; the secretary of state; Mr. Memminger, of United States troops were scattered and South Carolina, secretary of the treas. dispersed, so as to prevent any effective ury Mr. Walker, of Alabama, secretary garrisoning the forts at the South; and of war; and Mr. Mallory, of Florida, through the connivance of the secretary secretary of the navy. During the ses- of the navy, the United States ships of sion, various steps were taken to secure, war were also, as far as possible, sent
if possible, foreign aid and re-out of the way, or rendered unfit to do
cognition; to raise money for duty in behalf of law and order in our the probable struggle near at hand; to native land.* provide troops and sustenance, etc. The position of matters in Charleston Having elaborated a permanent consti- harbor soon made it evident what South tution, with distinct declaration of state Carolina and the seceding states were sovereignty as a part and parcel of it, the about to undertake. The authorities provisional congress adjourned, on the and people of the city were anxious that 16th of March, to meet two months the “sovereign " state of South Carolater at Montgomery, Alabama. lina should at once seize upon the forts,
Thus were the impetuous and ambi- even as they had begun the work by tious spirits of the South pressing for taking possession of the custom house, ward, and doing all in their power to the United States arsenal, etc. Fort try conclusions” with the loyal north. Moultrie, a large fortress, requiring ern and western states. It was evident, some seven hundred men to garrison it, though hard to believe, that they who was occupied by Major Anderson, with had dared to secede would not scruple a force of only eighty men; and was to avail themselves of everything they
plied with arms, etc., to carry on the war, the author could lay hands upon for their purposes; says: “ This disadvantage had been provided against and so, very early demonstrations were by the timely act of one man. Mr. Floyd, of Virginia, made in reference to seizing upon the for- when secretary of war under Mr. Buchanan's adminis
tration, had by a single order effected the transfer of tifications of the United States in the har. 115,000 improved muskets and rifles from the Springbors along the southern coast, and else- field armory and Watervliet arsenal to different arse
nals at the south.” In addition to these and other supwhere. The majority of Mr. Buchanan's plies obtained in a like manner
, the author states, that cabinet, especially the gentlemen in the " the South entered upon the war with 150,000 sınall war and treasury departments, were se- best in the world.” (pp. 67, 68) Mr. Buchanan, how.
arms of the most approved modern pattern, and the cessionists, and were so lost to all princi- ever, in his “Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion,” ples of honor and integrity as to use (p. 219, etc.) denies entirely the correctness of the above
statement. He also in his rejoinder to Gen. Scott, the opportunities afforded by their offi- (National Intelligencer, Nov. 17, 1862) accuses Floyd cial positions in advancing the cause of of lying, when he boasted of having accomplished the disunion and rebellion. Every pos
stealing of arms of various kinds.
* In the House a resolution of censure was passed
against Mr. Toucey, secretary of the navy, because of * In“ The First Year of the War," from the southern, his readiness in accepting “the resignations of officers rebel, point of view, this conduct is highly lauded. of the navy, who were in arms against the govern. Speaking of the fear lest the South might not be sup-ment,” and his having in this way helped the cause of