Imágenes de páginas

Now I beg you to recollect what I have already said, that at this time there was no territory within the jurisdiction of the United States over which it was possible to get up a quarrel or excitement. All the territory acquired by the treaty for Louisiana had been settled by the Compromise of 1820, which had stood undisturbed for thirty odd years, until it had become as sacred in the eyes of the whole nation as a part of the Constitution itself. The Legislature of this state had in 1847 declared, by a vote of 117 to 13, that "any attempt to interfere with that Compromise would be just cause for a dissolution of the Union, and would be resisted at all hazards, and to the last extremity;" and the feeling in this state was no stronger in favor of that healing measure of peace than in other portions of the country North and South; and all the territory acquired by the war with Mexico, extending from the Louisiana purchase to the Pacific Ocean, was provided for and settled by the Compromises of 1850.


Thus you will see that all causes of dissension had been removed; old sores were fast healing up; the occasional resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law alone furnishing ground of complaint. The constitutionality of that law was tested before the proper tribunals in several of the states, and in every instance judgment was pronounced in favor of the law; the people of the North were fast becoming reconciled to it, or at least opposition to its execution was on the decline, and with a modification of the obnoxious features to which I have already adverted, and which did not add at all to its efficiency, would in another year have ceased altogether, except with a handful of the most violent and mischievous of the Abolitionists, who could of themselves.

have offered no serious obstacle to its faithful execution.

Every thing had so far quieted down that John P. Hale, senator from New Hampshire, declared "Othello's occupation's gone," he retired from the Senate and set up a law office in Wall Street, New York, and every patriot in the land rejoiced at the prospect of peace between the different sections of the country, and at the final settlement of this disturbing question of slavery that had been a source of constant irritation and excitement in the public councils for thirty years.

But this was just precisely the state of things that did not suit the Democracy. They did not want quiet; they wanted excitement. They did not want the question of slavery to sleep; they wanted agitation. They did not want peace; they wanted war. They did not want Union, unaccompanied with the power of the government in their own hands; they wanted secession and Southern independence, where their power would be perpetual. Therefore it was again necessary to elect a Democratic President in '56, or the Union must be dissolved. Do you doubt this? Call them to the bar, and let them testify on oath whether this was their deliberate, determined purpose or not; let them answer to an injured and deeply-wronged people, whether the perpetuation of power in their own hands has not been the whole and sole cause of this infernal war, which will cost the Southern people, every thing included, not less than from six to ten thousand millions of dollars before they get through with it, to say nothing of four or five hundred thousand lives that will be lost; and how much more, the Lord only knows, if the principles of Democracy, as applied to poor, feeble Mexico, should be extended to them, of "indemnity for the past and security for

the future," to cover the whole expenses of the war on the part of the United States. What have they themselves told us for the last twenty years? Has there been a Democratic paper published in the South-has there been a Democratic speaker on the stump within that period that has not wrung it into our ears over and over again, "THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO ELECT A DEMOCRAT TO SAVE THE UNION ?" which it is now manifest meant nothing more nor less, in plain English, than this, "that whenever the ballot-box fails to secure us our accustomed triumph, we will resort to the cartridge-box for our deliverance; and that secession, rebellion, and treason will all be encountered, rather than surrender the power we have so long enjoyed and abused."

THE DEMOCRACY TO RULE, OR DISUNION TO FOLLOW. The people could not be made to believe it. Nobody took it for any thing else than an attempt to frighten the weak-minded and timid into their support; they did not believe any party base enough, bad as they knew this party to be, to commit such a deed for such a purpose, nor did they believe that they had the power, if they had the will; they did not believe that that old Whig conservative Union element in the South, and in this state particularly, could either be seduced or driven into such a measure at the dictation of a mob as we have since seen it done with our own eyes. There has been no time within the last twelve years that the leaders have not been prepared for it on a failure to elect their candidate. They dared not try it with General Taylor, for he was a Southern man, and a large slaveholder, although every where denounced as an Abolitionist, nor had they any confidence in his Whiggery. They would not have dared to try the experiment if General Scott had been elected, because he too was a Southern

man of known conservative views. But the leaders were not only rife for it in '56, if Fremont had been elected, but I see no reason to doubt that the same course of events might not have been carried out then as now.


They all say they were Union men until Lincoln issued his proclamation, but this I have shown to be false. This proclamation was for the protection of the Capitol at Washington and of his own life, which they would have taken in three weeks if he had not made the call, the design being to employ a body of men collected from New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Alexandria, Richmond, Petersburg, and Norfolk, headed by two leading men of the South-one from Texas, who has since been slain in battle, and the other from Virginia, who has never taken the chances of being slain. I knew at least that this was the opinion of Mr. Lincoln when he issued his proclamation, for I was cognizant of the communication that was made to him on this subject; for when I left the city of Washington on the day the proclamation was issued, the windows of a portion of the Treasury building had already been barricaded. Of these facts, no doubt, abundant proof will be found hereafter.*

* Nov. 5, 1863.-Such proof now begins to leak out; and in confirmation of what I have said, I take the following editorial paragraph from the Richmond Sentinel (the recognized organ of the administration) of Nov. 2, 1863, edited by a Mr. Smith, who in 1860, '61, conducted a secession journal in Alexandria, and may well be supposed to have been in the secrets of the plot. The Sentinel says, "Indeed a formidable organization existed all the winter in Baltimore and the counties adjacent to Washington, having for its object the capture of that city, the seizure of the government officers, and the inauguration of a provisional government in the interests of the South. Such a step would have given the South the

But this was not all. Mr. Jefferson Davis had boastfully threatened "that the North should smell Southern powder,

command of the United States Army and Navy; it would have consigned the North to anarchy, at least for a while-perhaps to a civil war at their own doors; but wise and politic as was this measure in the eyes of those who saw the value of striking the first blow, it was too rash to be hazarded until the support of Virginia could be secured, and for that there was no chance."

Here, then, is a precious confession by a precious rebel of a concerted scheme, not to protect or "defend the South from a ruthless, heartless, savage invasion by the North," as has since been pretended; not to throw off the yoke "of an intolerably oppressive government," and to set up an independent government for themselves simply, as the people have been made to believe, but here it is openly avowed that there was a formidable organization to capture the Capitol of the nation, to depose the lawfully-elected President of the country, and inaugurate a provisional government in the interests of the South, by which they were to have sccured the army and navy of the United States, and to have involved the North in a civil war at home among themselves, while Southern Democracy reveled in the enjoyment of the spoils derived from their own hellish treason, from the consequences of which they now shrink, and piteously whine that "all they ask is to be let alone."

Now I may as well say here that this whole scheme was fully developed to me on the 8th of April, 1861, by General James Wilson, with whom I had formerly served in Congress-a gentleman of the highest respectability, to whom it had been disclosed by one of the parties implicated, as being a part of the plan of operations contemplated by the outside Convention which met in the city of Richmond on the 16th of April, '61. General Wilson, who now resides in California, mentioned these facts to me that I might communicate them to the government, which I did without loss of time; I went at once to Mr. Lincoln, to whom I made the communication, and, at his request, I rode immediately to the residence of General Scott, who was then engaged in planning defenses for the city, and laid all the facts before him. When, therefore, upon the fall of Sumter (which it might well be supposed would precipitate the contemplated attack on Washington), I saw the proclamation of Mr. Lincoln calling for the seventy-five thousand troops, it was not unnatural to con

« AnteriorContinuar »