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often been the immediate precursor , separation, upon such terms of amity and of a halcyon era of reconciliation, graphical contiguity, and future welfare, of
good-will as the respective interests, geopeace, and fraternal harmony. It the two nations may render necessary, the was not easy for Northern men, espe- undersigned are instructed to make to the
Government of the United States overtures cially those who had never visited for the opening of negotiations, assuring the and sojourned at the South, to com- Government of the United States that the prehend and reälize the wide preva- federate States earnestly desire a peaceable
President, Congress, and people of the Conlence and intensity of anti-National solution of these great questions; that it is sentiment and feeling in those locali- neither their interest nor their wish to make ties whose social order, industry, and justice, nor do any act to injure their late business, were entirely based on confederates. Slavery. Neither envying nor hating obedience to the instructions of their Gov
“The undersigned have now the honor, in the Southerners, while lamenting ernment, to request you to appoint as early their delusions and resisting their ex
a day as possible, in order that they may pre
sent to the President of the United States the actions, it was hard indeed for many,
credentials which they bear and the objects if not most, of the citizens of the of the mission with which they are charged. Free States to realize that we stood
“We are, very respectfully,
“ Your obedient servants, on the brink of a volcano whose rum
JOHN FORSYTH, blings preluded an eruption of blood
"MARTIN J. CRAWFORD." as well as ashes.
Scarcely a week after Mr. Lincoln's To this virtual Declaration of War, inauguration, his Secretary of State under the guise of an overture lookwas served with the following:
ing to negotiation, settlement, and
amity, Gov. Seward responded as fol" WASHINGTON, March 12, 1861.
lows: " Hon, WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State of the United States :
66 Memorandum. "Sir: The undersigned have been duly
“DEPARTMENT OF STATE, accredited by the Government of the Con
" WASHINGTON, March 15, 1861. federate States of America as Commission- “Mr. John Forsyth, of the State of Alaers to the Government of the United States, hama, and Mr. Martin J. Crawford, of the and, in pursuance of their instructions, have State of Georgia, on the 11th inst., through now the honor to acquaint you with that the kind offices of a distinguished Senator, fact, and to make known, through you, to submitted to the Secretary of State their dethe President of the United States, the ob- sire for an unofficial interview. Thi jects of their presence in this Capital. was, on the 12th inst., upon exclusively
"Seven States of the late Federal Union public considerations, respectfully declined. having, in the exercise of the inherent right “On the 13th inst., while the Secretary was of every free people to change or reform preöccupied, Mr. A. D. Banks, of Virginia, their political institutions, and through Con- called at this Department, and was received ventions of their people, withdrawn from by the Assistant Secretary, to whom he dethe United States, and reässumed the attri- livered a sealed communication, which he butes of sovereign power, delegated to it, had been charged by Messrs. Forsyth and have forined a Government of their own. Crawford to present to the Secretary in The Confederate States constitute an inde
person. pendent nation, de fucto and de jure, and pos- “In that communication, Messrs. Forsyth sess a Government perfect in all its parts and and Crawford inform the Secretary of State endowed with all the means of self-support. that they have been duly accredited by the
“ With a view to a speedy adjustment of Government of the Confederate States of all questions growing out of this political America as Commissioners to the Govern
* This reply was withheld, upon consultation with John A. Campbell, of Alabama, (then and till May 2d thereafter a Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court,) until twenty-three days subse
quent to its date. Judge C. would seem to have been, even then, acting as a Confederate, despite his oath of office, though misunderstood by Gov. S. as laboring to preserve the Union.
GOV. SEWARD'S REPLY TO CONFEDERATE ENVOYS.
ment of the United States, and they set forth therefore avows to Messrs. Forsyth and the objects of their attendance at Washing- Crawford that he looks patiently but confiton. They observe that seven States of the dently for the cure of evils which have American Union, in exercise of a right inhe- resulted from proceedings so unnecessary, rent in every free people, have withdrawn, so unwise, so unusual, and so unnatural, not through conventions of their people, from to irregular negotiations, having in view new the United States, reässumed the attributes and untried relations with agencies unknown of sovereign power, and formed a govern- to and acting in derogation of the Constitument of their own, and that those Confeder- tion and laws, but to regular and considerate States now constitute an independent ate action of the people of those States, in nation de facto and de jure, and possess a coöperation with their brethren in the other government perfect in all its parts and fully States, through the Congress of the United endowed with all the means of self-support. States, and such extraordinary Conventions,
“Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, in their if there be any need thereof, as the Federal aforesaid communication, thereupon proceed Constitution contemplates and authorizes to ed to inform that, with a view to a speedy ad- be assembled. justment of all questions growing out of the “It is, however, the purpose of the Secrepolitical separation thus assumed, upon such tary of State not to engage in any discussion terms of amity and good-will as the respec- of these subjects, but simply to set forth his tive interests, geographical contiguity, and reasons for declining to comply with the rethe future welfare of the supposed two na- quest of Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford. tions might render necessary, they are in- “On the 4th of March inst., the newly structed to make to the Government of the elected President of the United States, in United States overtures for the opening of
view of all the facts bearing upon the presnegotiations, assuring this Government that ent question, assumed the executive Adthe President, Congress, and people of the ministration of the Government, first delivConfederate States earnestly desire a peace- ering, in accordance with an early, honored ful solution of these great questions, and custom, an Inaugural Address to the people that it is neither their interest nor their of the United States. The Secretary of wish to make any demand which is not State respectfully submits a copy of this founded in strictest justice, nor do any act address to Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford. to injure their late confederates.
" A simple reference will be sufficient to “ After making these statements, Messrs. satisfy those gentlemen that the Secretary Forsyth and Crawford close their communi- of State, guided by the principles therein cation, as they say, in obedience to the in- announced, is prevented altogether from structions of their Government, by request- admitting or assuming that the States reing the Secretary of State to appoint as early ferred to by them have, in law or in fact, a day as possible, in order that they may withdrawn from the Federal Union, or that present to the President of the United States they could do so in the manner described by the credentials which they bear and the ob- Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, or in any jects of the mission with which they are other manner than with the consent and charged.
concert of the people of the United States, “The Secretary of State frankly confesses to be given through a National Convention, that he understands the events which have to be assembled in conformity with the prorecently occurred, and the condition of po- visions of the Constitution of the United litical affairs which actually exists in the States. Of course, the Secretary of State part of the Union to which his attention cannot act upon the assumption, or in any has thus been directed, very differently from way admit, that the so called Confederate the aspect in which they are presented by States constitute a foreign Power, with Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford. He sees in whom diplomatic relations ought to be estabthem, not a rightful and accomplished revo- lished. lution and an independent nation, with an “ Under these circumstances, the Secretary established government, but rather a perver- of State, whose official duties are confined, sion of a temporary and partisan excitement subject to the direction of the President, to to the inconsiderate purposes of an unjustifi- the conducting of the foreign relations of able and unconstitutional aggression upon the country, and do not at all embrace dothe rights and the authority vested in the mestic questions, or questions arising beFederal Government, and hitherto benignly tween the several States and the Federal exercised, as from their very nature they Government, is unable to comply with the always must be exercised, for the mainte- request of Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, to nance of the Union and the preservation appoint a day on which they may present of liberty, and the security, peace, wel- the evidences of their authority and the obfare, happiness, and aggrandizement of the jects of their visit to the President of the American People. The Secretary of State United States. On the contrary, he is ob
liged to state to Messrs. Forsyth and Craw. | with my duty to those loyal citizens ford that he has no authority, nor is he at liberty, to recognize them as diplomatic of the United States who are also agents, or hold correspondence or other citizens or residents of the States communication with them.
which acknowledge Mr. Jefferson Finally, the Secretary of State would observe that, although he has supposed that Davis as their political Chief ??? То he might safely and with propriety have these questions, inevitably presenting adopted these conclusions without making themselves to every intelligent mind, any reference of the subject to the Executive, yet, so strong has been his desire to Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford indipractice entire directness, and to act in a
cate no reply whatever. They respirit of perfect respect and candor toward Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, and that por- presented a power which had detion of the Union in whose name they present clined coöperation with even a mathemselves before him, that he has cheerfully submitted this paper to the President, jority of the Slave States—which had who coincides generally in the views it ex- not even considered the propriety of presses, and sanctions the Secretary's decis calling a National Convention-and ion declining official intercourse with Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford."
which now proffered to the Union
no compromise, no middle ground, These memorable papers are too but the naked alternative of Surrenlucid to require or justify extended der or fight! comment. The Commissioners, it Gov. Seward's reply, though pacific will be seen, place the alleged Seces- in temper, and evidently animated by sion of the Cotton States expressly a hope that hostilities may yet be and exclusively on the true and pro- avoided, is eminently frank and exper ground-“the inherent right of plicit. That the Executive could recevery free people to change or reform ognize Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford their political institutions"—in other only as citizens of the United States, words, the Right of Revolution, not as plenipotentiaries of an indethus precluding all discussion as to pendent and foreign power—that the the pretended constitutional right, alleged secession and confederation of or reservation of right, to secede at the seven States in question was not, will from the Union. But this posi- and could not be, recognized by the tion, however wisely and honorably Government as valid; their secestaken, does not at all preclude the sion being impliedly, and their conquestion which Mr. Lincoln was federation expressly, forbidden by bound to ask, and, in some way, to the Federal Constitution—that there answer--"What right have I, the could be no secession save through fairly chosen Chief Magistrate of the the agency of a National Convention, Union-chosen, too, at an election which those States had declined to wherein the seven States now alleged invoke, and were now unwilling to to have seceded fully participated submit to-that their alleged grievto recognize those States as a foreign ances could be redressed only through nation, as independent of the remain- such Convention, or by the Congress ing States as Russia or Peru? How of the United States, wherein the right will such recognition, and the action of those States to an equal representanecessarily consequent thereon, accord tion had been, and still was, unqueswith my solemn oath of office, and the tioned and that the President had weighty obligations it imposes? How been consulted respecting, and fully
JUDGE CAMPBELL TO GOV.
concurred in, these views of his Sec- | Mr. Justice Nelson was present at these conretary of State-so much seems
versations, three in number, and I submitted
to him each of my communications to Judge plainly set forth in this 'memoran- Crawford, and informed Judge O. that they dum,' with all the perspicuity which had his (Judge Nelson's) sanction. I gave
you, on the 22d March, a substantial copy of can be attained through the employ- the statement I had made on the 15th. ment of our mother tongue. How is “The 30th of March arrived, and at that it possible, then, that complaint should time a telegram came from Gov. Pickens, in
quiring concerning Col. Lamon, whose visit nevertheless be made that the Con- to Charleston, he supposed, had a connection federates were deluded by Gov. Sew- with the proposed evacuation of Fort Sumard into anticipations of an early and " I left that with you, and was to have an easy concession of their independ answer the following Monday (1st April). ence?
On the first of April, I received from you a
statement, in writing, 'I am satisfied the Yet that charge is made; and, Government will not undertake to supply since it rests wholly on the testimony Fort Sumter without giving notice to Gov.
Pickens. The words 'I am satisfied' were of a Confederate who once held, and
for me to use as expressive of confidence in had not then resigned, the exalted the remainder of the declaration, position of a Justice of the United “The proposition, as originally prepared,
was, "The President may desire to supply States Supreme Court, it may be well Sunter, but will not do so,' etc., and your to consider it fully. The testimony verbal explanation was that you did not beis that of Judge Campbell aforesaid, (a that there was no design to reënforce Sumter.
lieve any such attempt would be made, and prominent disciple of Mr. Calhoun), “There was a departure here from the who, about the time of his taking pledges of the previous month; but, with the
verbal explanation, I did not consider it a final leave of Washington to enter matter then to complain of—I simply stated more openly into the service of the to you that I had that assurance previously..
“On the 7th April, I addressed you a letConfederacy, wrote to Gov. Seward
ter on the subject of the alarm that the prepas follows:
arations by the Government had created, and "WASHINGTON CITY,
asked you if the assurances I had given were: “SATURDAY, April 13, 1861. well or ill founded. In respect to Sumten; “Sir:-On the 15th March ult., I left your reply was, “Faith as to Sumter fully with Judge Crawford, one of the Commis-kept-wait and see. In the morning's pasioners of the Confederate States, a note in per, I read, 'An authorized messenger from writing to the following effect:
President Lincoln informed Gov. Pickens. and Gen. Beauregard that provisions would
be sent to Fort Sumter peaceably, or otherimposing great responsibility on the Administration.
wise by force.' I feel an entire confidence that no measure changing the existing status, prejudicious to the Southern Confed- "This was the 8th of April, at Charleserate States, is at present contemplated.
ton, the day following your last assurance, I feel an entire confidence that an immediate demand
and is the evidence of the full faith I was iners will be productive of evil, and not of good. I do not vited to wait for and see. In the same paper, believe that it ought, at this time, to be pressed.'
I read that intercepted dispatches disclose 6 The substance of this statement I com- the fact that Mr. Fox, who had been allowed municated to you the same evening by let- to visit Maj. Anderson, on the pledge that ter. Five days elapsed, and I called with a his purpose was pacific, employed his opportelegram from Gen. Beauregard, to the effect tunity to devise a plan for supplying the fort that Sumter was not evacuated, but that by force, and that this plan had been adoptMaj. Anderson was at work making repairs. ed by the Washington Government, and was The next day, after conversing with you,
in process of execution. I communicated to Judge Crawford, in wri- My recollection of the date of Mr. Fox's. ting, that the failure to evacuate Sumter visit carries it to a day in March. I learn was not the result of bad faith, but was he is a near connection of a member of the attributable to causes consistent with the Cabinet. intention to fulfill the engagement; and that, “My connection with the commissioners. as regarded Pickens, I should have notice of and yourself was superinduced by a converany design to alter the existing status there. sation with Justice Nelson. He informed
I feel entire confidence that Fort Sumter will be evacnated in the next ten days. And this measure is felt as
for an answer to the communication of the Commission
me of your strong disposition in favor of Judge Campbell, it will be noted, peace, and that you were oppressed with a demand of the Commissioners of the Confed
takes up the thread of the furtive erate States for a reply to their first letter, negotiations exactly where the Comand that you desired to avoid, if possible, at missioners had dropped it. that time. I told him I might, perhaps,
They of some service in arranging the difficulty. had made their demand on the 12th; I came to your office entirely at his request, had been answered by Gov. Seward and without the knowledge of the Commissioners. Your depression was obvious to
on the 15th ; but the answer withbotlı Judge Nelson and myself. I was grati- held; for on this day Judge C. makes fied at the character of the counsels you | his first appearance on the scene, were desirous of pursuing, and much impressed with your observation that a civil with an assurance to the Commiswar might be prevented by the success of sioners that he felt - entire confimy mediation. You reall a letter of Mr. dence that Fort Sumter would be Weed, to show how irksome and responsible the withdrawal of troops from Sumter was.
evacuated within the next ten days," A portion of my communication to Judge if the Commissioners would not push Crawford on the 15th of March was founded upon these remarks, and the pledge to evac
matters too hurriedly to a crisis. Still uate Sumter is less forcible than the words later, he gave these Commissioners asyou employed. Those words were, “Before this letter reaches you (a proposed letter by
surances that no attempt would be me to President Davis], Sumter will have made to supply the closely investbeen evacuated.'
ed and scantily provisioned garrison 66 The Commissioners who received those communications conclude they have been of Fort Sumter, until due notice of abused and overreached. The Montgomery the intent had been given to Gov. Government hold the same opinion. The Pickens; which promise was fulfilled Commissioners have supposed that my communications were with you, and, upon
to the letter. that hypothesis, prepared to arraign you be- Judge Campbell quotes Justice Nelfore the country in connection with the President. I placed a peremptory prohibi- son as testifying to Gov. Seward's tion upon this, as being contrary to the terms “strong disposition in favor of of my communications with them. I pledged peace.” Who ever denied or doubtmyself to them to communicate information upon what I considered as the best authori- | ed it? But did he ever avow an inty, and they were to confide in the ability clination to Peace on the basis of of myself, aided by Judge Nelson, to deter- Disunion? That is the vital point; mine upon the credibility of my informant.
“I think no candid man who will read and it is not covered, even by asover what I have written, and consider for sertions, on the part of the Confed.a moment what is going on at Sumter, will
That he clung tenaciously agree that the equivocating conduct of the erates. Administration, as measured and interpreted to the hope of some “ adjustment' or in connection with these promises, is the conciliation, whereby civil war might proximate cause of the great calamity.
“I have a profound conviction that the be averted, and the just authority of telegrams of the 8th of April, of Gen. Beau- the Federal Government acknowlregard, and of the 10th of April, of Gen. Walker, the Secretary of War, can be re- edged and respected by the Confedferred to nothing else than their belief that erate States, is manifest; and that there has been systematic duplicity practiced is the whole truth, and affords a simupon them throughout. It is under an oppressive sense of the weight of this respon ple and obvious explanation of what sibility that I submit to you these things for seems to Confederates so mysterious, your explanation. "Very respectfully,
so crafty, or so atrocious. The mani“John A. CAMPBELL, fest, controlling fact is, that the par" Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. ties to this unique correspondence .46 Hon. WM. H. SEWARD,
“Secretary of State." occupied positions so contrasted, so