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Chap. III. ing, not dominant indeed but strong, which found expression in Congress, at public meetings, and in the press, was shared by many Republicans and openly avowed by men of great eminence and unimpeached patriotism, that should conciliation prove hopeless, a peaceable separation ought to be preferred to civil war. It was natural that this should be so. When men are really plunged in such a struggle, when their passions are roused and their nerves braced, and they have come to apprehend thoroughly the value of the interests at stake, the thought of yielding becomes a crime, and to have nourished it passes for a reproach. But they feel otherwise whilst the calamity is still in prospect, and is not known to be inevitable.

The President's own view of the character of the revolt and of his own duties was expressed in his annual Message of the 4th December, 1860, and fortified by a written opinion from Mr. Black, an eminent Pennsylvanian lawyer, then Attorney-General and afterwards Secretary of State. It is unquestionably true, said Mr. Buchanan, that no State has or can have a right to secede from the Union, which was clearly intended to be perpetual. But the Constitution does not arm the President with power to enforce the laws, except through the machinery of the Federal Courts and in aid of process issued by them; there are now no Federal Courts in South Carolina, and it would be impracticable to re-establish them there. Again, it is only by waging war on South Carolina that Congress could "coerce her into submission." But the Constitution gives no such power to Congress. Having satisfied himself that there was no escape from this curious puzzle, Mr. Buchanan resigned himself to inaction. He sat still. He refused, on the one hand, to receive or recognize the two Commissioners whom South Carolina had sent to negotiate for the transfer of public property within the State and an apportionment of the public debt; he refrained, on the

other, from any attempt to re-establish his authority in Chap. III. the South, to collect the revenue or enforce the laws.

Nor, feeble and unsatisfactory as the Message was deemed by the Republican party, does this inertness appear to have provoked in either House of Congress remonstrance or complaint. No extraordinary appropriations were made for the army or navy. The Session which began on the 3rd December, 1860, and closed on the 4th March, 1861, was chiefly spent in long and desultory debates on various projects of conciliation. During the latter part of this period a voluntary Convention of 135 persons, assembled at Washington on the request of the Virginian Legislature, and representing all the States not actually in revolt, were engaged, under the presidency of Mr. Tyler, in the same fruitless labour. These discussions produced no substantial result. Proposal after proposal was eloquently debated, only to be set aside in its turn when the moment came for action. It was in the evening of Sunday the 3rd March, "at an unusual hour at the close of a peaceful day," that the Senate met for the last time to decide on the recommendations presented by the Peace Conference, on another elaborate and important series known as Mr. Crittenden's, and on a further proposition emanating from the minority of a committee of its own body. The debate, which lasted far into the night, ended in the rejection of them all. The House of Representatives, on the 27th February, after the members for the seceding States had withdrawn, agreed, by a majority of 136 against 53, to the following string of Resolutions, which have importance only as showing how the Republican party, at that time rising into the ascendant, were prepared to deal with the slavery question immediately before the commencement of the war :

"Resolved, That all attempts on the part of the Legislatures of any of the States to obstruct or hinder the recovery and surrender of fugitives from service or labour are in derogation of the Constitution of the

Chap. III. United States, inconsistent with the comity and good neighbourhood that should prevail among the several States, and dangerous to the peace of the Union.

"Resolved, That the several States be respectfully requested to cause their statutes to be revised, with a view to ascertain if any of them are in conflict with or tend to embarrass or hinder the execution of the laws of the United States, made in pursuance of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, for the delivering up of persons held to labour by the laws of any State and escaping therefrom; and the Senate and House of Representatives earnestly request that all enactments having such tendency be forthwith repealed, as required by a just sense of constitutional obligations, and by a due regard for the peace of the Republic; and the President of the United States is requested to communicate these resolutions to the Governors of the several States, with a request that they will lay the same before the Legislatures thereof respectively.


Resolved, That we recognize slavery as now existing in fifteen of the United States by the usages and laws of those States; and we recog. nize no authority, legally or otherwise, outside of a State where it so exists, to interfere with slaves or slavery in such States, in disregard of the rights of their owners or the peace of society.


Resolved, That we recognize the justice and propriety of a faithful execution of the Constitution, and laws made in pursuance thereof, on the subject of fugitive slaves, or fugitives from service or labour, and discountenance all mobs or hindrances to the execution of such laws, and that citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

"Resolved, That we recognize no such conflicting elements in its composition, or sufficient cause from any source, for a dissolution of this Government; that we were not sent here to destroy, but to sustain and harmonize the institutions of the country, and to see that equal justice is done to all parts of the same; and finally, to perpetuate its existence on terms of equality and justice to all the States.


Resolved, That a faithful observance, on the part of all the States, of all their constitutional obligations to each other and to the Federal Government, is essential to the peace of the country.


Resolved, That it is the duty of the Federal Government to enforce the Federal laws, protect the Federal property, and preserve the Union of these States.

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Resolved, That cach State be requested to revise its statutes, and, if necessary, so to a nend the same as to secure, without legislation by Congress, to citizens of other States travelling therein, the same protection as citizens of such State enjoy; and also to protect the citizens of other States travelling or sojourning therein against popular violence or illegal summary punishment, without trial in due form of law, for imputed crimes.

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Resolved, That each State be also respectfully requested to enact

such laws as will prevent and punish any attempt whatever in such Chap. III. State to recognize or set on foot the lawless invasion of any other State or territory.

"Resolved, That the President be requested to transmit copies of the foregoing resolutions to the Governors of the several States, with a request that they be communicated to their respective Legislatures."

One proposition, and only one, obtained the concurrent assent of both Houses. It was as follows:

"That the following Article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely :—

"No Amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labour or service by the laws of said State.'"

This vote was made abortive by the circumstances which immediately followed.

All endeavours then to repair, by one more compromise, a breach which had been gradually widening in spite of repeated compromises proved utterly vain. They were, indeed, well nigh hopeless from the first. Originated chiefly by politicians from the Middle States, among which Kentucky took the lead, they offered no prospect of a solid and durable reconciliation. Few Republicans could have accepted them with a clear conscience, and they were really distasteful to the thorough-going secessionists, who took no part in the Peace Conference, and during the debates in Congress on Mr. Crittenden's scheme had either stood aloof or given it a cold and languid support. The object of their desires was not a redress of grievances; they had, indeed, none which legislation could redress. No action of Congress, no mere patching of the Constitution, could, they well knew, arrest the growth of population in the North and West, stifle in that population the freedom of thought and speech, or secure to the South a permanent lease of power. What they dreaded was this steady, irresistible

Chap. III. advance of an interest and sentiment hostile to their own; what they aspired to was the foundation of an independent commonwealth which should absorb the Middle States, drain the resources of the North, and command the West. No fresh compromise could now dissipate that fear, or divert them from the pursuit of that chimera.


Among the Acts passed by the Provisional Congress of the Confederate
States during its first Session are the following:-


February 9.-To continue in force certain laws of the United States

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of America.

14. To continue in office the officers connected with the
collection of the Customs in the Confederate States
of America.

20. To provide munitions of war and for other purposes.
[Authorizes President or Secretary of War under
his direction to make contracts for the purchase of
heavy ordnance and small-arms, and manufacture
of powder.]

21. To fix salaries of Vice-President and Heads of Depart


21. To organize the Departments of State, and the Treasury,
War, Navy, and Post-Office Departments, and a
Department of Justice (six Acts).

23. To prescribe the Rates of Postage in the Confederate


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States of America.

To declare the free navigation of the Mississippi.
To modify the Navigation Laws and repeal all discrimi-
nating duties on ships or vessels.

26. For the establishment and organization of a General
Staff for the Army of the Confederate States of

28. To authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to establish
ports and places of entry and delivery.

28. To raise money for the support of the Government, and
to provide for the defence of the Confederate States


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