« AnteriorContinuar »
On the sixth, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives announced the committee of thirtythree, called for under Mr. Boteler's resolution, to consider "so much of the President's message as relates to the present perilous condition of the country.' The names are as follows:-Ohio, Mr. Corwin, chairman; Virginia, Mr. Millson; Massachusetts, Mr. Adams; North Carolina, Mr. Winslow; New York, Mr. Humphreys ; South Carolina, Mr. Boyce; Pennsylvania, Mr. Campbell; Georgia, Mr. Love; Connecticut, Mr. Ferry; Maryland, Mr. Davis; Rhode Island, Mr. Robinson; Delaware, Mr. Whiteley; New Hampshire, Mr. Tappan; New Jersey, Mr. Stratton; Kentucky, Mr. Bristow; Vermont, Mr. Morrill; Tennessee, Mr. Nelson; Indiana, Mr. Dunn; Louisiana, Mr. Taylor; Mississippi, Mr. Davis; Illinois, Mr. Kellogg ; Alabama, Mr. Houston; Maine, Mr. Morse; Missouri, Mr. Phelps; Arkansas, Mr. Rust; Michigan, Mr. Howard; Florida, Mr. Hawkins; Texas, Mr. Hamilton; Wisconsin, Mr. Washburne; Iowa, Mr. Curtis; California, Mr. Burch; Minnesota, Mr. Windom ; Oregon, Mr. Stout.
When the reading of the names was concluded, Mr. Hawkins, the only representative from Florida, asked to be excused from serving on the committee, and, declining to act, was approached in a solemn and patriotic speech, by John Cochrane, of New York; who, figuratively, with the American flag in one hand and a splendid spread eagle in the other, appealed to the Florida member to act upon the committee. It was a burst of thrilling eloquence, and the applause in the galleries attested the sincerity with which the popular heart cherishes the love of the Union; but Hawkins heeded not the appeal, and before the House had an opportunity to act upon the subject, on motion of Mr. Millson, of Virginia, that body adjourned, leaving Mr. Hawkins in suspense, and securing to Mr. Millson a volley of curses for his interference. Subsequently Mr. Hawkins excused himself for not serv
ing on the committee of thirty-three, in an elaborate speech, defending the South and the right of secession, and declaring the appointment of the committee to be a constructive fraud, as some persons believed it to be a great pacificator, to heal our wounds and produce a political millennium. The effect, if carried out, would be to demoralize and degrade the South. He was sorry the proposition came from one of the noble sons of the South; denouncing the Union and Union-saving committee in no measured terms; rejecting the very idea of compromise, and added that he was not acting under impulse, but from convictions of twenty years.
In addition to Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Boyce, of South Carolina, and Mr. Morrill, of Vermont, asked to be excused, but were promptly refused by the House. Mr. Hawkins rose and signified that he wished to say, with all deference," that he would not serve;" accordingly the "sons of the South" withdrew.
Very little importance was attached to the committee of thirty-three, appointed to save the Union, as the very basis upon which it was constructed would defeat the object in view; it being composed of discordant elements, there could be no concerted action.
On the tenth of December a special cabinet meeting was called by the President, at which Howell Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury, resigned; after several ineffectual attempts to extricate the treasury from its tangled condition, and failing to account for the disbursement of large sums of government money, he proposed to resign at once; and his resignation was accepted.
We find, bearing the same date, a long and hot-headed letter, written by Secretary Cobb to the people of Georgia, in which, after referring to the origin and purposes of the Republican party, he says: "It is not simply that a comparatively obscure abolitionist, who hates the institution of the South, has been elected President, and that
we are asked to live under the administration of a man who commands neither our respect nor confidence, that the South contemplates resistance, even to disunion; wounded honor might tolerate the outrage, until, by another vote of the people, the nuisance could be abated; but the election of Mr. Lincoln involves far higher considerations. It brings to the South the solemn judgment of a majority of the people of every Northern State, with a solitary exception, in favor of doctrines and principles violative of her constitutional rights, humiliating to her pride, destructive of her equality in the Union, and fraught with the greatest danger to the peace and safety of her people. The question is now presented, whether a longer submission to an increasing spirit and power of aggression is compatible either with her honor or her safety. In my mind there is no room for doubt. The issue must now be met, or forever abandoned; equality and safety in the Union are at an end, and it only remains to be seen whether our manhood is equal to the task of asserting and maintaining independence out of it. The Union formed by our fathers was one of equality, justice and fraternity; on the fourth of March it will be supplanted by a Union of sectionalism and hatred. Black Republicanism is the ruling sentiment at the North. They have trampled upon the Constitution of Washington and Madison, and will prove equally faithless to their pledges; you ought not, cannot trust them. We are no longer brethren, dwelling together in unity; they have buried brotherhood in the same grave with the Constitution; and con
cludes by saying, –
"Fellow-citizens of Georgia: I have endeavored to place before you the facts of the case in plain and unimpassioned language; and I should feel that I had done injustice to my own convictions, and been unfaithful to you, if I did not, in conclusion, warn you against the danger of delay, and impress upon you the hopelessness of
any remedy for these evils, short of secession. You have to deal with a shrewd, heartless and unscrupulous enemy, who, in their extremity, may promise anything, but in the end will do nothing. On the 4th day of March, 1861, the federal government will pass into the hands of the abolitionists; it will then cease to have the claim either upon your confidence or your loyalty; and in my honest judgment, each, hour that Georgia remains, thereafter, a member of the Union, will be an hour of degradation, to be followed by certain, speedy ruin. I entertain no doubt either of your right or duty to secede from the Union. Arouse, then, all your manhood for the great work before you, and be prepared, on that day, to announce and maintain your independence out of the Union; for you will never again have equality and justice in it. Identified with you in heart, feeling and interest, I return to share in whatever destiny the future has in store for our State and ourselves."
Self-sacrificing man! his "interest," possibly, may be in Georgia; an empty treasury offers him no inducements to remain at the national capital, and feeling so keenly the "danger of delay," and the "degradation" of remaining in the Union, he should have tendered his resignation at an earlier day.
Mr. Toucey, Secretary of the Navy, was called upon to act in his stead, ad interim, and three days after, Mr. Phillip F. Thomas, ex-Governor of Maryland, was nominated and confirmed Secretary of the Treasury, vice Cobb, resigned.
On the 13th, the sentiments of the people of Philadelphia were expressed by an immense Union demonstration, by proclamation of the mayor.
On the same day the cabinet, at Washington, was the scene of contention and strife; exciting speeches were made in regard to the re-enforcement of Fort Moultrie, in Charleston harbor, in command of Major Robert Anderson,
(whither he had been sent, on the 18th of November, to relieve Col. Gardiner, who was ordered to Texas). The President opposed its re-enforcement, expressing his "determination" to send no more troops to the forts near Charleston, saying he had "assurances" that the fort would not be attacked, if no re-enforcements were attempted, and that everything should be done, on his part, to avoid a collision. Mr. Cass, Secretary of State, and Mr. Toucey, Secretary of the Navy, both strenuously urged the policy of strengthening Major Anderson fully. Gen. Cass said, "These forts must be strengthened; I demand it." The President replied, "I am sorry to differ from the Secretary of the State, but the interests of the country do not demand a re-enforcement of the forts at Charleston; I cannot do it; I take the responsibility." The next day Secretary Cass resigned.
The commander who deliberately leaves an insufficient garrison in a fort, without re-enforcing, or attempting to re-enforce, that garrison, by such acts of omission and commission palpably "challenges" the enemy; and yet our trembling President, afraid of his own shadow, where the vaporing South is concerned, but reckless of decency where the North is interested, is afraid to strengthen his own forts for fear the South should take offence! What a military commander Mr. Buchanan would make. How must the bones of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Zachary Taylor writhe in their graves! not dare to strengthen our own forts, for fear the enemy should be offended! How shall we be regarded, or respected, by the military nations of Europe hereafter? Such cowardice is a blot upon every American citizen. A clergyman, visiting a school connected with the alms-house, in a small village in Massachusetts, made some remarks to the children, in which he endeavored to illustrate the sinful condition of men, in a familiar way. "You know," said the clergyman, "that the negroes at the South are