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the right of the majority to rule, denied the supremacy of the national Constitution. His narrowness was of that type which craved the exclusion of Northern teachers and the official censorship of school-books to keep out "Abolition poison." It was in perfect keeping with his character, and in perfect illustration of the paradoxical theories of his followers, that, holding the lash over fifty or a hundred slaves, or exercising an inflexible military dictatorship over nine millions of "his people," he could declaim in fervid oratory against the despotism of a majority. One of his most salient traits was the endeavor to maintain a double position on the question of disunion. His leadership of the "resistance" party in Mississippi in 1850-51 gave him a conspicuous starting-point as an instigator of sedition, and while laboring then and afterwards to unite the South in extreme political demands, and in armed preparation for war against the Union if those demands were not complied with, he as constantly declared that he was no disunionist. Of course he could do this only by setting at defiance the plainest meaning of words and the clearest significance of acts. As the slavery contest drew to its culmination, his recklessness of assertion and antagonism of declaration on these points reached an extreme entitling them to be classed among the curiosities of abnormal mental phenomena. As a blind man may not be held responsible for his description of a painting, or a deaf-mute be expected to repeat accurately the airs of an opera, so we can only explain Jefferson Davis's vehement denial of the charge of hypocrisy and conspiracy through a whole decade, by the supposition that he was incapable of understanding the accepted meaning of such words as "patriotism," "loyalty" "allegiance," "faith," “honor," and "duty." On no other hypothesis can we credit the honesty of convictions and sincerity of expression of sentiments so diametrically opposed as the following which occur in the same speech:
"Neither in that year , nor in any other, have I ever advocated a dissolution of the Union, or a separation of the State of Mississippi from the Union, except as the last alternative, and have not considered the remedies which lie within that extreme as exhausted, or ever been entirely hopeless of their success. I hold now, as announced on former occasions, that whilst occupying a seat in the Senate, I am bound to maintain the Government of the Constitution, and in no manner to work for its destruction; that the obligation of the oath of office, Mississippi's honor and my own, require that, as a Senator of the United States, there should be no want of loyalty to the Constitutional Union.
"Whether by the House [of Representatives] or by the people, if an Abolitionist be chosen President of the United States, you will have presented to you the question of whether you will permit the Government to pass into the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies. Without pausing for your answer, I will state VOL. XXXV.-10.
my own position to be that such a result would be a species of revolution by which the purposes of the Government would be destroyed, and the observance of its mere forms entitled to no respect. In that event, in such manner as should be most expedient, I should deem it your duty to provide for your safety outside of a Union with those who have already shown the will, and would have acquired the power, to deprive you of your birthright and reduce you to worse than the colonial dependence of your fathers. As when I had the privilege of addressing the Legislature a year ago, so now do I urge you to the needful preparation tenance of our rights against a hostile power is a physto meet whatever contingency may befall us. The mainical problem and cannot be solved by mere resolutions. Not doubtful of what the heart will prompt, it is not the less proper that due provision should be made for physical necessities. Why should not the State have an armory for the repair of arms, for the alteration of old models so as to make them conform to the improved weapons of the present day, and for the manufacture carriages; the casting of shot and shells, and the prepon a limited scale of new arms, including cannon and aration of fixed ammunition? "*
That man is not to be envied whose reason
can be quieted by a casuistry capable of discovering consistency between these and analogous propositions. From declarations of this quality he could prove his record black or white, as occasion demanded, and, in face of direct threats of secession in Mississippi, deny in the United States Senate, without wincing, that he had avowed disunion sentiments.
It will not be amiss to invite the reader to a pen-picture of the man as he appeared in the Senate (May 8th, 1860) shortly before he led the South, with open eyes, into that drama of disaster, suffering, and blood of which he was the fatal inspiration:
"The crowd in the galleries give a buzz of relief, and everybody tells his right-hand man, 'Here he that he proposes to make a speech? You are surcomes; that 's Jeff Davis. And can it be possible prised to see him walking. Why, that is the face of a corpse, the form of a skeleton. Look at the haggard, sunken, weary eye, the thin, white wrinkled lips mouth of a brave but impatient sufferer. See the clasped close upon the teeth in anguish. That is the ghastly white, hollow, bitterly puckered cheek, the high, sharp cheek-bone, the pale brow full of fine wrinkles, the grizzly hair, prematurely gray; and see the thin, bloodless, bony, nervous hands! He deposits his documents upon his desk, and sinks into his chair as if incapable of rising. In a few minutes the Vice-President gives his desk a blow with his ivory hammer, calls for profound order, and states that the senator from Mississippi' has the floor. Davis rises with a smile. His speech was closely reasoned, and his words were well chosen. Once in a while he pleases his hearers by a happy period; but it was painfully evident that he was ill.
Montgomery having witnessed the glories of such an inauguration pageant as could be extemporized, Davis proceeded to the appointment of his Cabinet. Toombs of Georgia was made Secretary of State; Memminger of South Carolina Secretary of the Treasury; Walker
*Jefferson Davis, speech at Jackson, Mississippi, Nov. 11th, 1858. In "Daily Mississippian," Nov. 15th, 1858.
of Alabama Secretary of War; Mallory of Florida Secretary of the Navy; Reagan of Texas Postmaster-General; and Benjamin of Louisiana Attorney-General. Various acts of the Provisional Congress authorized the new Executive to continue the organization of the provisional government of the Confederate States. A regular army of about 10,000 men was ordered to be established; a navy of 10 steam gun-boats authorized to be constructed or purchased; 100,000 volunteers for 12 months authorized to be enlisted, and existing State troops to be received into the provisional army. A loan of $15,000,000 was authorized, and an export duty on cotton of cent per pound levied, to pay principal and interest. Among the first executive acts, Davis assumed control of military operations in the several seceded States; and his Secretary of War (March 9th) made a requisition for 11,000 volunteers, for contingent service at Charleston, Pensacola, and other points. Agents were dispatched to Europe to purchase material of war; and to obtain if possible a recognition of the Confederate States by foreign powers. As a matter of the greatest immediate necessity, a commission of three persons was appointed to proceed to Washington, to bring about the peaceful acquiescence of the United States in the dismemberment of the Union.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
THE disunion conspirators had good reason to show symptoms of dismay at the Cabinet régime to which Mr. Buchanan yielded direction and authority in the last days of the year 1860. Hitherto, not alone in shaping a policy of non-coercion and preventing reenforcements, but in numerous minor matters as well, had the complicity of Cobb, Floyd, and Thompson enabled them to turn the varied agencies of the Government against its own life. Under the new dispensation these practices instantly came to an end. For the moment Mr. Buchanan was in a patriotic mood, and at the urgent solicitation of Black, Holt, and Stanton yielded his consent to a number of measures he had for two months persistently neglected. For the first time since his arrival in Washington, General Scott was permitted to notify commanders of forts and garrisons to be on the alert against surprise; and though this admonition came too late to inspirit and reassure many a wavering officer, it had the direct effect of saving one of the most important military posts on the gulf. Reënforcements were resolved upon. The policy of defending the national capital was discussed and adopted. At least one member of the Cabinet placed himself in confidential communi
cation with leading Republicans and unionists in Congress, and counsel and warning in behalf of the Government were freely interchanged and faithfully observed. Preeminent in his opportunities and services at this critical juncture was the new Secretary of War, Joseph Holt, of Kentucky. He had been a life-long Democrat and a stubborn partisan; but above everything else he was a patriot. Under his administration the War Department was no longer a bureau of insurrection.
The Cabinet régime consisted mainly of the combined will and energy of four leading members,-Black, Secretary of State; Dix, Secretary of the Treasury; Holt, Secretary of War; and Stanton, Attorney-General. Neither their relation to the President nor to each other can be very clearly made out. Their loyal activity was still occasionally hampered by Buchanan's stubbornness and timidity. On some points they appear to have had very different views, but the daily stress and danger in which they moved compelled mutual tolerance and tacit cooperation. They had indeed one common bond of union. Now that the conspiracy was so fully revealed they battled against it manfully, not with any proximate hope of crushing it, but to tide over the peril to the end of the presidential term, to be able to lay down their responsibilities with honor. Their services in detail cannot be here recorded, but the principal duty which they successfully performed, the protection of the national capital, needs special mention.
In the early days of January, 1861, Washington city was the natural focus of the secession excitement pervading the South; and the capital seemed to lean towards the prevailing mania. Seditious harangues in Congress were applauded from well-filled galleries, and society feasted and flattered the most daring fire-eaters. So strong was this Southern drift of local sentiment that the Federal city began to be confidently looked upon by the conspirators as the prospective capital of a Southern Confederacy. Nothing seemed wanting to the early consummation of such a scheme but the secession of Virginia and Maryland, of which the signs. were becoming only too abundant. Reasoning from this to plausible consequences, the coolest heads began to fear a popular outbreak to seize upon the buildings and archives of the Government; and as a final result forcibly to prevent the inauguration of the President-elect.
Buchanan affected not to share these apprehensions. Nevertheless he acknowledged his duty and purpose to preserve the peace, and authorized the necessary precautions. On the 9th of January, therefore, Colonel Charles P. Stone, chosen for that duty by General Scott, submitted a memorandum in which he sketched a plan for the defense of
Washington, which was adopted, and under which Colonel Stone was appointed inspectorgeneral and ordered to organize and drill the militia of the District of Columbia. This duty he faithfully discharged, and on the 5th of February reported the existence of some thirteen volunteer companies, constituting a total of 925 men, "which can be at once called into service"; adding also, "the number of volunteers for service can be doubled within seven days with proper facilities." Not underrating either the moral or military aid of raw levies of militia, General Scott was nevertheless too old a soldier to rely exclusively upon them in an emergency. He therefore obtained consent to concentrate at the capital available regular forces to the number of eight companies, a total of about 480 men.
Stanton, appointed Attorney-General on the 20th of December, was, with his ardent and positive nature, one of the most energetic and uncompromising unionists in the Cabinet. For him, the expulsion of Floyd, the reënforcement of Sumter, and the other military precautions hastily ordered, were not yet sufficient. Chafing under the President's painful tardiness, he turned to Congress as a means for exposing and thwarting the intrigues of the conspirators. Sacrificing his party attachments to the paramount demands of national safety, he placed himself in confidential correspondence with Republican leaders in that body, giving and receiving advice as to the best means of preserving the Government.
On the 8th of January Mr. Buchanan transmitted to Congress a special message on the state of the Union, discussing also the rumors of hostile designs against the capital. The Republicans in the House of Representatives seized the occasion to secure the appointment of a Committee of Investigation, of which Mr. Howard, of Michigan, was made chairman. He has left us an interesting account of its origin and purpose:
"That committee was raised at the request of loyal members of the Cabinet. The resolutions came from them, and were placed in my hands with a request that I should offer them and thus become, if they should pass, chairman of the committee. At first I refused to assume so fearful a responsibility. But being urged to do so by members and senators, I at last consented, on condition that the Speaker would allow me to nominate two members of the committee. I selected Mr. Dawes, of Massachusetts, and Mr. Reynolds, of New York. Mr. Reynolds was elected as a Democrat, but he was true as steel, and a good lawyer. I do not know that Mr. Stanton wrote the resolutions creating the
committee. I did not see him write them. I never
heard him say he wrote them. It would be easier, how ever, to persuade me that Mr. Jefferson did not write the Declaration of Independence than that Mr. Stanton did not write those resolutions."
With this committee Mr. Stanton and perhaps other members of the Cabinet continued
to correspond confidentially and coöperate. This has been characterized as disrespect and treachery to their chief; but in the face of Mr. Buchanan's repeated neglect and avowed impotence to resist open insurrection, discriminating history will applaud the act. The committee found no substantial proof of an organized plot to seize the capital; nevertheless its investigation and report quieted the apprehensions of the timid, at the same time that they afforded a warning to mischief-makers that the authorities were on the alert and would make such an enterprise extremely hazardous.
While the Howard Committee was yet pursuing its inquiry, and as the day for counting the presidential vote approached, General Scott requested permission from the Secretary of War to bring several additional companies of regulars from Fortress Monroe, to be replaced by recruits. This would augment his regulars to some seven hundred men, which, with the police and militia, he deemed sufficient for all contingencies. Before the day arrived a confidential arrangement of signals was communicated to the officers, the regular troops being placed under command of Colonel Harvey Brown. General instructions were issued in strict confidence, and to officers alone. The militia was charged with the care of the various bridges of the Potomac; the regulars were stationed at convenient points in the city.
Happily no alarm occurred. On the 13th of February an unusually large and brilliant throng filled the galleries of the House of Representatives to witness the proceedings of the presidential count. Vice-President Breckinridge, one of the defeated candidates, presided over the joint convention of the two Houses. Senator Douglas, another, was on the floor, and moved to dispense with certain tedious routine. The sealed returns of the electoral votes, cast by the chosen colleges of the several States on the 5th of December, were opened and registered. The tellers officially declared the result already known, viz.: that Lincoln had received 180 votes; Breckinridge, 72; Bell, 39; Douglas, 12. Vice-President Breckinridge thereupon announced that "Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, having received a majority of the whole number of electoral votes, is elected President of the United States
for four years commencing the 4th of March, 1861."
To comprehend more clearly the transactions growing out of the event, it is necessary to repeat that immediately after the beginning of the Cabinet régime it was resolved to send reënforcements to Fort Sumter. The first arrangement was to dispatch them in the sloop-of-war Brooklyn; but owing to certain difficulties and objections which presented
themselves, General Scott decided to send two
similar activity. Receiving no effective dis-
As part of the same intrigue another incident,
Want of space forbids us to review the
debates and proceedings of Congress during the winter of 1860-61 further than to note the complete failure of the projects of compromise which were originated in and out of it, and brought to its attention. The Senate Committee of Thirteen ended by reporting an irreconcilable disagreement. The various propositions which were apparently adopted by the House Committee of Thirty-three proved to be nothing but the resolves of the several minority factions of that committee, and commanded no united support when reported to the House. The Peace Conference terminated its labors by certain recommendations receiving only a minority vote of that body, and Congress, to which these recommendations were sent, would have nothing to do with them. So also certain other propositions of adjustment offered in Congress, known as the "Crittenden Compromise," failed equally of acceptance.
Nevertheless these many efforts were not entirely barren of result. At a point where it was least expected, they contributed to the adoption by Congress of a measure of adjustment which might have restored harmony to the country if the rebellion of the cotton-States had not been originated and controlled by a conspiracy bent upon revolution as its prime and ultimate object. It is a noteworthy fact that just at the dawn of the civil war through which slavery rushed to a swift self-destruction, that institution received the largest recognition and concession ever given it in American legislation. The report of the Committee of Thirty-three was made about the middle of January, but at that time none of its six propositions or recommendations commanded the attention of the House. The secession stage of the revolution was just culminating. All was excitement and surprise over the ordinances of the cottonStates and the seizure, without actual collision or bloodshed, of the several Southern forts and arsenals. The retirement of the Southern members of Congress, and the meeting of the revolutionary leaders, to unite and construct their provisional government at Montgomery, prolonged what was to the public a succession of dramatic and spectacular incidents resembling the movements of a political campaign, rather than the serious progress of a piece of orderly business-like statesmanship. The North could not yet believe that the designs of the cottonState hotspurs were so desperate.
The more conservative Congressmen from the North and from the border States still hoped that good might come if an effort of conciliation and compromise were once more renewed. Accordingly, near the close of the session (February 27th, 1861), Mr. Corwin, chairman of the House Committee of Thirtythree, brought forward one of the propositions
which had been reported more than a month before from his committee. The original report proposed in substance an amendment of the Constitution providing that any constitutional interference with slavery must originate with the slave-States, and have the unanimous assent of all the States to become valid. Mr. Corwin by an amendment changed the phraseology and purport to the following: "Article 13. 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 labor or service by the laws of said State."
This amendment was adopted by the House on February 28th, yeas 133, nays 65. The Senate also passed it during the night preceding the 4th of March, though in the journals of Congress it appears dated as of March 2d. The variation is explained by the fact that the legislative day of the journals frequently runs through two or more calendar days. In that body the vote was, yeas 24, nays 12, and it was approved by President Buchanan probably only an hour or two before the inauguration of his successor.
Mr. Lincoln alluded to this amendment in his inaugural address, reciting its substance and giving it his unreserved approval. “I understand," he said, "a proposed amendment to the Constitution. which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable." The new Lincoln Administration soon after transmitted this Joint Resolution to the several States to receive their official action. But nothing came of it. The South gave no response to the overture for peace, and in the North it was lost sight of amid the overshadowing events that immediately preceded the outbreak of hostilities.
It was at this point that the South committed its great political blunder. There is little doubt that in the prevailing anxiety for compromise this constitutional amendment might have been ratified by the necessary threefourths of the States. Had the Southern leaders been sincere in their professed apprehensions for the security of their slave property and polity in their own States, here was an effectual and practically a perpetual guaranty, offered in good faith as such. Their neglect and rejection of it shows that it was not dread