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immediately after the next presidential election. This proved a comparatively easy task. Three of the members of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet were their friends and at their service. These were Mr. Cobb, the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Floyd, Secretary of War, and Mr. Thompson, Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Cobb aided them, both directly and indirectly, with money and credit. Mr. Floyd, in addition to his other frauds, elsewhere detailed, sent loyal officers to remote and secluded posts, dismantled Northern forts, and stripped Northern arsenals of arms and munitions of war. Mr. Thompson contented himself with advocating trea-on. Mr. Toucey, Secretary of the Navy, contrary to rumor, had in the Home Squadron twelve ships of war, against three when he entered the Cabinet, four in Northern waters and eight in Southern.
It was necessary, moreover, to their success in the accomplishment of the act of secession, that they should have a decent and plausible pretext. If the Government at the next presidential election could be thrown into the hands of the Republican party, which could not poll any considerable vote in the Slave States, an opportunity would be afforded to assail the new administration on the ground that it represented only a section of the United States. To accomplish this, and yet hide their real object, was a somewhat difficult task; but it was finally performed. Mr. Douglas was a favorite with a large portion of the Democratic party in the North; but, although he had brought forward the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, he had, on account of his subsequent opposition to some of their most extreme measures, but little strength in the South. His friends bad urged him strongly for the Presidency in 1856, and there was a general understanding that he would have the nomination in 1860.
The Southern leaders now put forward Mr. Breckinridge, then VicePresident, as a candidate, and, having packed the Democratic National Convention at Charleston, prevented a nomination, but secured an adjournment to Baltimore, where they divided, one party nominating Mr. Breckinridge and the other Mr. Douglas. This was just what they desired. The Republican party, though it had increased rapidly within four years, was still numerically so inferior to the Democratic party, that could the votes of the latter be concentrated on one candidate, he would be elected; but with two candidates in the field opposed to him, and dividing the Democratic vote, the Republican candidate would certainly be elected, and a pretext for secession afforded. The RepubJicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, and, unsuspicious of the tactics of the Southern leaders, adopted a moderate and conciliatory platform. The canvass was still further complicated by the nomination of a Union ticket, at the head of which was placed John Bell of Tennessee, and Edward Everett of Massachusetts, as candidates for President and Vice-President.
The canvass was conducted with more than usual bitterness, and the Southern conspirators threw out constant threats, that in the event of Mr. Lincoln's election the Union should be dissolved. These threats were but little regarded at the North. Seeing the election conducted under a strict observance of all the forms of the Constitution, and participated in by all the States, Northern men could not be induced to believe that the Southern States would repudiate a result to which, by voting, they had made themselves parties. Such a breach of faith had never occurred in the history of the country, and the threats uttered were regarded as but a repetition of the familiar braggadocio of Southern politicians. The popular vote was as follows :For Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate .......
1,866,452 * Stephen A. Douglas, Northern Democrat ...
1,375,157 “ John C. Breckinridge, Southern Democrat..
847,963 " John Bell, Union........................
Had the Democratic vote been united on one candidate, that candidate would have had a plurality of more than three hundred and fifty thousand over Mr. Lincoln. The electoral vote stood: for Mr. Lincoln, one hundred and eighty; for Mr. Douglas, twelve; for Mr. Breckinridge, seventy-two; for Mr. Bell, thirty-nine; giving Mr. Lincoln a clear majority of fifty-seven electoral votes over all his competitors. He had received the entire vote of seventeen of the thirty-three States, besides a part of that of New Jersey; and inasmuch as there had been & popular vote for him in twenty-three States, his election could not be said to be a sectional one.
Here it may not be inappropriate to refer to one or two events of earlier date, which proved significant forerunners of the crisis which was approaching.
In October, 1859, the country being then in a state of profound tranquillity, an incident occurred which showed that, under the seeming calm, lay concealed a smouldering volcano, which might at any moment blaze forth and upheave the whole frame-work of society. Among the early emigrants from the North to Kansas was John Brown, formerly a citizen of the State of New York, who had rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to the Southern emigrants by his courage in defence of his settlement at Ossawatomie against the “ border ruffians," who had endeavored, more than once, to murder him and his family. This old man, a stern Puritan in habits and turn of mind, had been goaded by great and oft-repeated wrongs to a frenzied hatred of slavery, and had finally come to believe himself raised up of God as a leader to effect its overthrow in this country. He brooded upon this idea till it became a monomania with him. He addressed letters to prominent citizens at the North asking pecuniary aid, but never developing his plans. Some, deeming him insane, refused; . others, supposing that he was only intent upon plans for keeping slavery out of Kansas, sent him money. Suddenly, on the night of October 16th, with sixteen white and five black followers, he made a descent upon the United States Arsenal, at Harper's Ferry, Va., captured it without bloodshed, and took several prominent citizens prisoners. He evidently believed that the slaves of the vicinity would, without further effort on his part, rally to his standard, and it was a part of his design to declare them free, without, if he could avoid it, shedding any blood.
The intelligence of this raid produced almost unparalleled excite
ment in Virginia. Henry A. Wise, then Governor of the State, called out a force of several thousand militia, and increased the panic by violent proclamations. Meantime, Brown remained in possession of the arsenal, and though fifteeh hundred of the Virginia militia had gathered in the vicinity, it was not until a company of marines, with artillery, sent by the President, attacked the arsenal, that he surrendered. The old man and five of his companions, and two others subsequently captured, were delivered up to Virginia, tried for treason and murder, found guilty, and sentenced to be hung. Efforts were made to induce Governor Wise to extend executive clemency to them, on the ground that Brown was undoubtedly insane, and that his companions had been led to follow him without any treasonable intent; but the Governor was inexorable, and the sentences were strictly carried out. In many parts of the North, Brown was regarded rather as a martyr than a criminal, and, under the belief that he was of unsound mind, the wrong he had committed was forgotten in the punishment he suffered.
About two years previous to this event, Hinton Rowan Helper, a native of North Carolina, who had been till the prime of manbood a citizen of that State, published a work entitled “The Impending Crisis," in which, drawing his statistics from the United States census and other sources, he had attempted to demonstrate the degrading influence of slavery on the non-slaveholding whites of the South, and urged them to exert themselves in their several States for its overthrow. The book possessed small literary merit, and was characterized in passages by a bitter spirit, which marred its value; but the statistics which it contained illustrated forcibly the effect of slavery upon the white population. The work did not meet with a large sale, although it had attracted some attention. In the summer of 1859 a proposition was made to compile from it a “Compendium,” containing the statistical portion and some notes of explanation, but without ibe denunciatory passages, to be circulated as a campaign document by the Republican party, preparatory to the next Presidential campaign. A circular was prepared, and the object appearing unobjectionable, it was signed by many of the leading men of that party, without ever having seen the book. The preparation of this compendium was delayed, and when Congress assembled, in De cember, 1859, after the John Brown raid, members of Congress from the Slave States, who had secured copies of the original work, accused the members who had signed the circular of designs against the Union and against the South in commending the work. John Sherman of Ohio, the Republican candidate for Speaker, was defeated, though the Republican and American parties together had a majority in the House of Representatives, because his name was appended to the circular; and a considerable part of the session was consumed in violent denunciation and recrimination on the part of the members from the slavehold. ing States. One result of this denunciation was to secure for the book thousauds of readers who would not otherwise have seen it.
The Presidential election took place on the 6th of November, and upon the announcement of the success of the Republican candidates, the conspirators went eagerly to work to consummate their designs
against the Union. On the 10th of the same month, a bill was introduced into the South Carolina legislature for the calling out and equipment of ten thousand volunteers, and an election was ordered to be held on the 6th of December, for the choice of delegates to a convention to take action on the question of secession. Messrs. Chestnut and Hammond, senators from South Carolina, resigned their seats on the 10th and 11th of November. Meetings in favor of disunion were held within a week from the election in all the principal towns of the Cotton States. Robert Toombs, then and for two months later a member of the United States Senate, made a violent speech in favor of secession at Milledgeville, Georgia. On the 10th of December, Howell Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury, resigned, having previously declared himself unable to extricate the United States treasury from the condition of bankruptcy to which he had reduced it by his mismanagement. On the 15th of December, two days before the meeting of her secession convention, South Carolina drew her quota of United States arms for the year 1861, John B. Floyd, Secretary of War, accepting the requisition of her Governor; and on the 29th of the same month Floyd resigned, after having delivered to all the seceding States their full quota of arms for the next year as well as for the current one, and ordered the greater part of the regular army to parts so distant as to render it impossible to bring them to the Atlantic coast in season to meet any emergency. So rapid was the development of the conspiracy, within the two months that elapsed betweeu the Presidential election and the new year.
South Carolina Convention.-Ordinance of Secession and Declaration of Causes.
Resolutions for Convention of Seceded States.-Mississippi Convention.-Alabama Convention.- Florida Ordinance. -Seizure of Forts. - Georgia's Resolution in response to New York.-Ordinance of Secession.-Louisiana Convention.—Texas Convention.-Vote of the People.-General Houston.-Virginia Resolutions.-Ordi. nance of Secession.-Convention with the Confederacy.- Arkansas.-Secession defeated.-North Carolina Ordinance passed.—Tennessee Act of Independence. Military League.-Maryland Resolutions.-Confederate Congress.-Constitution, Jefferson Davis, President.--Address.
On the 17th December, 1860, the South Carolina Convention met at Columbia, but on account of the small-pox, which prevailed there, adjourned to Charleston. On the 20th, the ordinance of secession was taken up. It was textually as follows:
SECESSION ORDINANCE OF SOUTH CAROLINA. "An Ordinance to dissolve the Union between the State of South Carolina and other
States united with her under the Compact, entitled the Constitution of the United States of America :
“We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by us in convention, on the 23d day of May, in the year of our Lord 1788, wbereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying the amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, and that the union now subsisting between South Caro. lina and other States under the namo of the United States of America is hereby dissolved."
The ordinance passed by a unanimous vote of one hundred and sixtynine members, at a quarter past one o'clock in the afternoon.
As the news spread through the streets of Charleston, it was greeted with immense cheering, and in the evening, in the presence of a crowd of over three thousand people, the instrument was duly signed and sealed. The convention also adopted a declaration of the causes that led to secession, the leading allegations of which were: the frequent violations of the Constitution by the State Governments; the nullification of acts of Congress by citizens of those States; the personal liberty laws of some of the Northern States; the triumph of a sectional party at the North; the elevation of colored persons to citizenship in some of the States; and the probability that under the incoming administration the South would be excluded from the common territories, and the judiciary made sectional, thus taking away all hope of remedy for wrong. Governor Pickens immediately issued a proclamation that South Carolina is a separate, free, sovereign, and independent State, and upon this event being telegraphed to Washington, Messrs. McQueen, Boyd, Bonham and Ashinore, members for South Carolina, withdrew on the same day from Congress.
The letter of resignation of the South Carolina members to the Speaker of the House, was laid on the table, and the speaker directed that their names be retained on the roll, thus not recognizing the act of the State.
Thus was consummated the act of secession, on the part of that unruly State, which nearly thirty years before had attempted to nullify the laws of the Union. The persevering efforts of a few misguided and unprincipled men, continued through a period of thirty years, had finally culminated in an actual attempt to destroy what the people with reason considered the best government ever devised by man. The ambition and crimes of a faction had apparently destroyed the power and welfare of a nation and dashed the hopes of humanity throughout the world. .
The work of breaking up the old Union and attempting to construct a new government, was now actively pushed by the Southern leaders, whose intention was to have their new Confederacy in operation, and in a posture of defence, before the accession of Mr. Lincoln to office, on the 4th of March, 1861. Accordingly, the South Carolina Convention, after passing the ordinance of secession, adopted the following resolutions for a convention of the seceded States :
« First.—That the conventions of the seceding Slaveholding States of the United States unite with South Carolina, and hold a convention at Montgomery, Alabama, for the purpose of forming a Southern Confederacy.
* Second. That the said seceding States appoint, by their respective conventions or legislatures, as many delegates as they have representatives in the present Con