網頁圖片
PDF

Ch. I.]

be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional. . . . . . A disruption of the federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted. I hold that in the contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the union of these states is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments.

It follows from these

views that no state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any state or states against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary, or revolutionary, according to circumstances. I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken, and, to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union shall be faithfully executed in all the

states I trust this will

not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union, that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. In doing this there need be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it is forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and collect the duties and imposts; but beyond

18

what may be necessary for these objects there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere."

He concluded his address in the following words: "If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there is still no single reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulties. In your hands, my dissatisfied fellowcountrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government; while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it. I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot-grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

The oath of office was then administered to Mr. Lincoln by the aged Chiefjustice Taney, and the new president entered upon the duties of his office. He selected for his cabinet the following gentlemen: William H. Seward, of New York, secretary of state; Salmon P Chase, of Ohio, secretary of the treasury ; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania, secretary of war; Gideon Welles, of Connecti ;ut, secretary of the navy; Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, secretary of the interior; Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, postmaster - general; and Edward Bates, of Missouri, attorneygeneral. The next day, March 5th, these appointments were confirmed in the Senate, assembled in extra session.* Considerable debate was had on the allexciting topics of the day, but without any result of moment; and the Senate adjourned towards the close of the month.

LINCOLN'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.

Sad and cheerless, for the most part, was the prospect which Abraham Lincoln had before him as James Buchanan's successor. Seven states were already ranged under the flag of rebellion.! Several others on the borders between the free and slave states were almost wild with excitement, and strongly inclined to join the disunionists in their fratricidal attempts against the life of the nation. The whole country was in a state of unparalleled ferment, not knowing what a day might bring forth. At the North and West the people, as a whole, were quite unable to realize that the Republic was on the eve of war in its direst form, and were full of anxious solicitude a9 to the course which the new president would adopt in the existing crisis.^

* Among the principal diplomatic appointments were, Charles Francis Adams to England, William L. Dayton to France, and Cassius M. Clay to Russia. These gentlemen, with the others sent abroad in their sountry's service, wore active and energetic in the dis:harge of their several duties.'

f See note, vol. iii. p. 556.

i General Scott, in a note to Mr. Seward, March 2d,

At the South, the secession, revolu tionary element was overriding every thing, and the minds of the majority were inflamed more and more with fu rious eagerness to rush into the contest. The forts and strongholds and public property of the United States were seized upon everywhere, in the seceded states, without scruple or hesitation. In the loyal states there was no preparation for war; there was, with few exceptions, no belief in the near approach of war. There were thousands pledged to oppose and embarrass the incoming administration in every possible way. There was little, if any, unanimity, or concord, or agreement, as to what the

named four plans for Mr. Lincoln's consideration in the present emergency: "L Throw off the old and assume a new designation—the Union party. Adopt the conciliatory measures proposed by Mr. Crittenden or the peace convention, and my life upon it we shall have no new case of secession; but on the contrary, an early return of many, if not all of the states which have already broken off from the Union. Without some equally benign measure, the remaining slave-holding states will probably join the Montgomery confederacy in less than sixty days; when this city, being included in a foreign country, would require a permanent garrison of at least thirty-five thousand troops to protect the government within it. II. Collect the duties on foreign goods outside the ports of which the government has lost the command, or close such ports by acts of Congress and blockade them. III. Conquer the seceded states by invading armies. No doubt this might be done in two or three years by a young and able general—a Wolf, a Dessaix, or a Hoche—with three hundred thousand disciplined men, estimating a third for garrisons and the loss of a greater number by skirmishes, sieges, battles and southern fevers. The destruction of life and property on the other side would be frightful, however perfect the moral discipline of the invader. The conquest completed at that enormous waste of human life to the North and Northwest—with at least $250,000,000 added thereto, and cui bono f Fifteen devastated provinces! not to be brought into harmony with their conquerors, but to be held for generations by heavy garrisons, at an expense quadruple the net duties and taxes which it would be possible to extort from them, followed by a protector or an emperor. IV. Say to the seceded states —Wayward sis ters, depart in peace!"

[ocr errors]

Ch. I.]

emergency really was, or how it was to be met * War, it was felt, was a terrible alternative; war must be avoided, if it were possible; and even up to the very last moment, even when South Carolina stood ready to fire the first gun, and initiate the horrible struggle, there were those who would not, who could not believe, that war was the inevitable issue, and that by force only could the rightful supremacy of the Constitution be maintained. Truly, it was a gloom)' picture to look upon, and it well might unnerve the stoutest heart to feel that the responsibility of decision and action rested now almost wholly upon one man.

Abraham Lincoln had never as vet been a prominent man in national affairs. He was, comparatively, little

known throughout the country;

and having been taken up by the republican party as their candidate, rather as a compromise than because he was the ablest man in their ranks, the people, after his election, were deeply

* Mayor Wood, of New York, offers a curious illustration of the state of things at the beginning of this year. Under date of January 0th, 1861, he addressed a message to the Common Council, in which ho speaks of " dissolution of the Union as inevitable," of "our aggrieved southern brethren of the slave states," of the "fanatical spirit of New England," etc. Although not quite ready to recommend extremes or present violent action, he nevertheless dared to use such language as the following at the close of the message: "When PL-union has become a fixed and certain fact, why may not New York disrupt the bonds which bind her to a menial and corrupt master—to a people and a party that have plundered her revenues, attempted to ruin her commerce, taken away the power of self-government, and destroyed the confederacy of which she was the proud Empire City? Amid the gloom which the present and prospective condition of things must cast over the country, New York, as a Free City, may shed the only light and hope of a future reconstruction of our once blessed confederacy."

18

interested in everything which tended to indicate what were Lis qualifications for the high office he was about to assume. They were naturally very desirous to know in how far he was fitted to take the helm of state at a time when was to be tested the ability of the Constitution and Union to weather the storm just ready to burst in every direction. Up to this date, when Mr. Lincoln became fully invested with the powers of the presidential office, his sentiments and views, so far as made known, pointed clearly to a policy of conciliation, and a desire to yield on all points where it was possible to yield, in order to preserve peace and the integrity of the Union. There were many who were not satisfied with this course. There were men who longed for the fiery energy and action of Andrew Jackson in the presidential chair; and who repeated the contemptuous sneers of southern demagogues and traitors, that the North could not be kicked into a war. On the other hand, sober and reflecting men, appreciating to some extent the greatness of the questions involved, were willing to see, in the utterances of Mr. Lincoln, clear evidences of spirit and determination to maintain the integrity and completeness of the Union, peaceably if possible, if not, by every other means legally in his power. And so, they were measurably content to wait patiently the issue of events, hoping and trusting, even amidst the excitement and ferment all around, that the honor and unity of our country would not suffer in Mr. Lincoln's hands.

For a month or so, after the inauguration, the new administration gave no clear or distinct indications of its line of policy. Secession, encour

MR. LINCOLN'S POSITION AND TRIALS.

1*01.

aged, no doubt, by what seemed hesitation or inefficiency on the part of government, rras bold, active, haughty in its course and pretensions.* Not only, as we have before said, were forts, arsenals, dpck-yards and public property taken possession of without scruple, but also a loan of $15,000,000 was authorized by the Confederate Congress, and other measures resolved upon in view of war, which might speedily be expected. Early in April, however, Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet decided upon the course to be pursued, and thenceforward, though tardily, bent all their energies to preserve the Union unbroken, and, if need be, to put down tieason and rebellion by force of arma Acting upon their assumed position as an independent government, the socalled confederate authorities sent three gentlemen to Washington, for the purpose of arranging and settling all points of difference growing out of the acts of the seceded states. They reached the capital, March 5th, and soon after attempted to obtain recognition of what they thought to be their rank and obligations. The government acted, with

* Russoll, in "My Diary North and South," p. 118, under date April 18th, 1801, at Charleston, (rives a good deal of chit-chat, showing the foelings of the people he met, on the subject of the North and the association with northerners by the southern chivalry and cavaliers: "They affect the agricultural faith and the belief of a landed gentry. It is not only over the wineglass that they ask for a Prince to reign over them; I have heard the wish repeatedly expressed within the last two days that wo could spare them one of our young Princes, but ne"sr in jest, or in any frivolous manner."

great forbearance, and allowed them to remain in Washington in pursuit of plans and objects striking at the very root of its power and majesty. Mr. Seward declined all official intercourse, and frankly but plainly told these rebel commissioners, that what had taken place, in various parts of the South, was only "a perversion of a temporary and partisan excitement to the inconsiderate purpose of an unjustifi able and unconstitutional aggression upon the rights and the authority vested in the Federal Government, and hitherto benignly exercised, as from their very nature they always must be so exercised, for the maintenance of the Union, the preservation of liberty, and the security, peace, welfare, happiness and aggrandizement of the American people." This was under date of March 15th. Several weeks elapsed before the gentlemen just alluded to inquired for the secretary of State's communication; and then, with some violence of lan guage about "accepting the gage of battle thus thrown down to them,': and an expression of pity for the "delusions" of the government, they gave up the attempt to force themselves into official relations at Washington.

The convention of Virginia being in session at this date, sent Messrs. Preston, Stuart and Randolph as delegates to call on President Lincoln, and to "ask him to communicate to this convention the policy which the Federal executive intends to pursue in regard to the confederate states." The president's reply, April 13th, reaffirmed his previously expressed determination "to hold, occupy, and possess the property Cu. I.]

and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts." While disclaiming any purpose of needless invasion, or infringement upon the rights of others,

1861 .

Mr. Lincoln distinctly gave these gentlemen to understand, that, if necessary, in consequence of conduct like that of the attack upon Fort Sumter, he would, "to the best of his ability, repel force by force."

The government having, to this extent at least, determined upon its course, orders were given, early in April, to send vessels and men for the purpose of reinforcing Fort Sumter,* and also to save, if possible, Fort Pickens at the entrance of the harbor of Pensacola, Florida But the leaders in rebellion, knowing how important it was to them to "strike a blow" as some of them phrased it, and to gain "a victory of some kind, resolved immediately to compel Major Anderson to surrender. On the 5th of April, Beauregard, who had deserted the flag of his country and taken service under the confederate authorities, stopped all supplies for the garrison heretofore received from the city. The government resolved to send provisions to Major Anderson and his men, and accordingly announced the fact to the governor of South Carolina, on the 8th of April; whereupon the rebels insisted upon the immediate reduction of the fort. Every preparation had been made for this contingency on their part. Numerous batteries had been constructed, and, apart from the question of starvation,

* See vol. iii. pp. 563, 3, for the position of affairs in regard to Fort Sumter up to this date. VOL. TV—3.

1?

there was no possible chance that Major Anderson and his handful of brave men could long withstand the assault. On the 11th, a brief correspondence ensued between Beauregard and Anderson. The latter agreed to evacuate the fort on the 15th, unless otherwise ordered by his government; but this was not what the hot bloods of the day wanted; and when the Harriet Lane arrived off the harbor with supplies, on the evening of the 10th, they pushed matters to an immediate extremity. All considerations of the awful character of what they were about to do, were thrown to the winds; and at half-past four, on Friday morning, April 12th, the first gun was fired upon Fort Sumter. The United States vessels, just outside, could give no help, owing partly to bad weather and to the batteries in all directions, but were compelled to wait the inevitable result, when the stars and stripes should be lowered. The cannonading was furious and incessant. Major Anderson and his men bravely withstood and replied to the onslaught, and the guns of the fort were served with all the vigor and spirit possible under the circumstances; but ere long, being without provisions and the fort partly in flames, surrender was the only thing left to them. They gave up the contest, so unequal and useless to continue, and having been allowed to embark on board the United States steamer Baltic, Major Anderson and his company reached New York on the 18th of April. Immediately official notice was sent to the war department, as follows :—" Off Sandy Hook, April 18th, 1861. Having

FORT SUMTER BOMBARDED.

« 上一頁繼續 »