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they were surprised to find him quiet, even perhaps with a smile on his face and a jest on his lips,— engaged in routine work, and prone to talk of other and more commonplace matters. Of all things the strut and stagey exhibition of mock-heroism were foreign to his nature. Generally it happened that when others in this mood sought him, his own spirit had already been through the fiery trial of resentment - but giving no outward sign, except at times with lowered eyebrow, a slight nodding and shaking of the head, a muttering motion or hard compression of the lips, and, rarely, an emphatic downward gesture with the clenched right hand. His judgment, like his perception, far outran the average mind. While others fumed and fretted at things that were, all his inner consciousness was abroad in the wide realm of possibilities busily searching out the dim and difficult path towards things to be. His easy and natural attention to ordinary occupations afforded no indication of the double mental process which was habitual with him.
So, while the Sumter telegrams were on every tongue and revengeful indignation was in every heart, there was little variation in the business of the Executive Mansion on that eventful Saturday. The miscellaneous gathering was larger there, as it was larger at the Departments, the newspaper and telegraph offices, and the hotels. More leading men and officials called to learn or to impart news. The Cabinet, as by a common impulse, came together and deliberated awhile. All talk, however, was brief, sententious, informal. The issue had not yet been reached. Sumter was still under fire. Nevertheless, the main question required no discussion, not even decision, scarcely an announcement. Jefferson Davis's order and Beauregard's guns had sufficiently defined the coming action of the Government. After this, President, functionaries, and people had but a single purpose, a single duty. Lincoln said little beyond making inquiries about the current reports and criticising the probability or accuracy of their details, and went on receiving visitors, listening to suggestions or recommendations, and signing routine papers as usual throughout the day.
One important exception deserves to be noticed. A committee from the Virginia convention had an appointment for a formal audience with him that morning. The doubling and drifting attitude of the Old Dominion has already been described. The boasted conservatism of that convention was a sham. Its Unionism was vague and traditional; its complaint and contumacy were real and present. Day by day, with the loudest professions of loyalty on their lips, its majority was apolo
gizing to its minority, and by labored argument against secession steadily convincing itself that treason was a necessity if not a duty. Recoiling from the fire of civil war, it yielded itself the more than half-willing cat's-paw of conspiracy. Bewailing the denial of shadowy claims of constitutional rights, it soon voluntarily put on the handcuffs of a grinding military despotism. A step in this road to political ruin was the appointment of a committee to visit Lincoln, requesting that he should define his policy, which request was only a covert and threatening demand for the evacuation of the Southern forts.
To this committee, Messrs. Preston, Stuart, and Randolph, respectively a "conservative," a "Unionist," and a "secessionist," the President read his reply just written,* on this morning of Saturday, April 13. The paper is temperate and dispassionate even to coldness, and indicates his ability to lift questions of public consideration out of the hot, blinding plane of personal feeling into the cool light of reason and expediency. While the rebel guns were still raining bombs and red-hot shot on Sumter, he had already mapped out his course of procedure, based on the facts within his knowledge, but free from all trace of excitement or feeling of revenge.
He told them he had distinctly defined his policy in the inaugural address. It was still the plain and unmistakable chart of his intentions. It had been his plan to hold only the forts still occupied by the Government when he became President.
But if [he continued], as now appears to be true, in thority from these places an unprovoked assault has pursuit of a purpose to drive the United States aubeen made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to repossess, if I can, like places which had been seized before the Government was devolved upmy ability, repel force by force. In case it proves true on me. And in every event I shall, to the extent of that Fort Sumter has been assaulted, as is reported, I shall perhaps cause the United States mails to be withdrawn from all the States which claim to have seceded, the Government justifies and possibly demands this. I believing that the commencement of actual war against scarcely need to say that I consider the military posts and property situated within the States which claim to the United States as much as they did before the suphave seceded as yet belonging to the Government of posed secession. Whatever else I may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt to collect the duties and imposts by any armed invasion of any part of the country; not meaning by this, however, that I may upon a border of the country. From the fact that I not land a force deemed necessary to relieve a fort have quoted a part of the inaugural address, it must not be inferred that I repudiate any other part, the whole of which I reaffirm, except so far as what I now say of the mails may be regarded as a modification.t
In this reply of the President we have his entire administrative policy regarding the rebellion; but it must be noted that it goes only to the extent of his actual information it deals only with accomplished facts. The programme of the inaugural is already modified; the modification is slight but significant, and based not upon caprice or resentment, but on necessity. According to fair interpretation of language, the programme of the inaugural was that he would execute the laws of the Union in all the States to the extent of his ability; hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government, and collect the duties and imposts. This he would do, however, only so far as it was necessary to protect and defend the Federal authority, not merely against domestic violence, but more especially against foreign influence or aggression. He would not invade, subjugate, menace, or harass local communities. All boundaries of the nation, sea-board or inland, he must, of necessity, hold and guard; he must occupy and control every custom-house or an efficient equivalent for it. The favorite theory was that duties might be collected on shipboard in insurgent ports, and thus avoid the friction of customs officers with the local populace. On inland boundaries other substitutes might perhaps be devised. So, also, he explains in his reply, the military posts he had intended to "hold, occupy, and possess" were this cordon of forts on the exterior boundary, all of which were still in Union hands when he was inaugurated. The interior places seized under Buchanan's administration he would not immediately grasp at with the military hand; he would forego the exercise of Federal offices in disaffected districts in the interior; as a means of reassurance and reconciliation he would even send the malcontents their regular mails, if they would permit him. All this not as a surrender of a single Federal right, but to avoid violence, bloodshed, irritation; to create a feeling of safety; to induce calm reflection; to maintain peace; to restore fraternal sympathies and affections. "You can have no conflict," he had told them, "without being yourselves the aggressors."
But, in immediate connection with the tender of this benign policy, he had also warned them that it would be modified or changed if "current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper." That experience had now come. The rebels had rejected the tendered immunity, spurned the proffered peace, become the aggressors, opened the conflict in deliberate malice. He therefore modified his plan. He would repel force by force. He would withdraw the mails. He would recapture Sumter, taken since his in
auguration, and, if he could, such other forts and places taken under his predecessor as were essential to safety. Thus much was necessary for protection and for precaution. Less he could not do and fulfill his oath of office. Once more he told them that while he now felt himself by their act compelled to close and bolt the strong doors of Federal authority, he would yet refrain from even the appearance of punishment. Though he gave them to understand that he might attack the rebel batteries on Morris Island, or recapture Pensacola Navy Yard, or build a fort on Arlington Heights to protect Washington, yet he would "not attempt to collect the duties and imposts by any armed invasion of any part of the country."
His reply to the committee must be received with the same qualification which he attached to his inaugural. He still reserved the right to use his best discretion in every exigency, and to change his acts under the inspiration of current events and experiences. The events of the day were his beacons; the necessities of the hour formed his chart. Throughout the tedious four-years' war he pretended to no prophecy and recorded no predictions. When souls of little faith and great fear came to him with pertinacious questioning, he might possibly tell them what he had done; he never told them what he intended to do. My policy is to have no policy," was his pithy axiom oftentimes repeated; whence many illogically and most mistakenly inferred him to be without plans or expedients. His promise to the Virginia committee must therefore be regarded as binding under the conditions of that day, namely: seven cotton-States leagued in rebellion; actual war begun ; seven thousand rebels in arms at Charleston; Sumter under fire with prospect of capitulation; Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and other border States yet in the Union under loud protestations of loyalty and unceasing deprecation of civil war. Lincoln's reservation was well considered. One week from that day these conditions were transformed almost beyond comparison, compelling him to a widely different line of action. On the day they received their answer, the Virginia committee had an engagement to dine with Secretary Seward; but in view of the Sumter telegrams, they excused themselves and hurried back to Richmond.
By the next morning (Sunday, April 14) the news of the close of the bombardment and capitulation of Sumter was in Washington. In the forenoon, at the time Anderson and his garrison were evacuating the fort, Lincoln and his Cabinet, together with sundry military officers, were at the Executive Mansion, giving final shape to the details of the action the
Government had decided to take. A proclamation, drafted by himself, copied on the spot by his secretary, was concurred in by his Cabinet, signed, and sent to the State Department to be sealed, filed, and copied for publication in the next morning's newspapers. The document bears date April 15 (Monday), but was made and completed on Sunday. This proclamation, by authority of the Act of 1795, called into service seventy-five thousand militia for three months, and convened Congress in extra session on the coming 4th of July. It commanded treasonable combinations to disperse within twenty days, and announced that the first object of this military force was to repossess the forts and places seized from the Union.* This limit of time was made obligatory by the terms of the second section of the Act of 1795, under which the call was issued. It was necessary to convene Congress, and the law only authorized the use of the militia "until the expiration of thirty days after the commencement of the then next session of Congress."
In view of the subsequent gigantic expansion of the civil war, eleventh-hour critics continue to insist that a larger force should have been called at once. They forget that this was nearly five times the then existing regular army, and that in the Mexican war Scott had marched from Vera Cruz to the capital with twenty-five thousand men. They forget that only very limited quantities of arms, equipments, and supplies were in the Northern arsenals. They forget that the treasury was bankrupt, and that an insignificant eight million loan had not two weeks before been discounted nearly six per cent. by the New York bankers, some bids ranging as low as eighty-five. They forget that the shameful events of the past four months had elicited scarcely a single spark of war feeling; that the great American public had suffered the siege of Sumter and firing on the Star of the West with a dangerous indifference. They forget the doubt and dismay, the panic of commerce, the division of counsels, the attacks from within, the sneers from without -that faith seemed gone and patriotism dead. Twenty-four hours later all this was measurably changed. But it was under such circumstances that Lincoln issued his call for seventy-five thousand men to serve three months. Even that number appeared a hazardous experiment—an immense army,
*Lincoln, proclamation April 15, 1861.
The following letter to President Lincoln, dated Treasury Department, April 2, 1861, is from unpub. lished MS.:
MY DEAR SIR: The bids for the $8,000,000 loan exceed 33,000,000 - the average advance from Mr. Dix's loan is from 3 to 4 per cent. The highest bid
a startling expenditure. As matters stood, it seemed enough to cope with the then visible forces of the rebellion; the President had no means of estimating the yet undeveloped military power of the insurgent States. The ordinary indicia to accurate administration were wanting. To a certain degree the Government was compelled to sail in a fog. But it is precisely in such emergencies that men like Lincoln are the inestimable possession of free nations. Hopeful, moderate, steadfast, he never for an instant forgot that he was the pilot, not the ship. He remembered what he had said in the inaugural:
truth and justice be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.
If the Almighty Ruler of nations with his eternal
He felt quite as confident that this popular armed might. But, holding this faith, he was justice would ultimately translate itself into not carried away by any too sanguine impulses. While discussing the proclamation, some of his advisers made a disparaging contrast of Southern enterprise and endurance with the Northern. This indulgent self-deception he checked at the very outset.
We must not forget [he said] that the people of the seceded States, like those of the loyal ones, are istics and powers. Exceptional advantages on one side American citizens, with essentially the same characterare counterbalanced by exceptional advantages on the other. We must make up our minds that man for man the soldier from the South will be a match for the soldier from the North and vice versa. ‡
The action of the Government brought in its train countless new duties and details. Both at the departments and the Executive Mansion the Sunday was one of labor, not of rest— no end of plans to be discussed, messages to be sent, orders to be signed. The President's room was filled all day as by a general reception. Already the patriotic echoes were coming in from an excited country. Governor Ramsey of Minnesota telegraphed that he could send a thousand men, and other localities made similar tenders. Senators and representatives yet in Washington felt authorized to pledge the support of their States by voice and arms. Of all such words of cheer, it is safe to say none were personally so welcome and significant as the unreserved encouragement and adhesion of Senator Douglas of Illinois.
Having, through a friend, signified his desire for an interview, Douglas went to the Executive Mansion between 7 and 8 o'clock on this same Sunday evening, April 14, and being privately received by the President, these two remarkable men sat in confidential interview, without a witness, nearly two hours. What a retrospect their singular careers must have forced into memory, if not into words, in this eventful meeting! - their contemporary beginnings in Illinois; the flat-boatman in Sangamon, the auctioneer's clerk in Scott county; their first meetings in country lawsuits; their encounters in the legislature; their greetings in society; their intellectual wrestlings on the stump; their emulation in local politics; their simultaneous leadership of opposing parties in the State; their champion contest for the Senate, ending in Douglas's triumph; their rival nominations for the Presidency, resulting in Lincoln's success. This was not the end. Both men were in the conscious prime of intellect; both believed themselves still in the undiminished vigor of physical manhood. Recognizing his defeat, Douglas was by no means conquered. If Lincoln was in the White House, he was yet in the Senate. Already in a Senate debate he had opened his trenches to undermine and wreck Lincoln's administration. Already he had set his subtle sophistry to demonstrate that the revenue laws gave the Executive no authority for coercion. His usual skill in debate, however, failed him on this occasion; and allowing himself to be carried along in a singularly weak and illogical argument, intended to force Mr. Lincoln and the Republican party into compromises to satisfy the border States and through their influence reclaim the cotton-States, he committed the serious blunder of declaring it unlawful and unwise to enforce the revenue laws in the insurrectionary ports or to recapture or hold their harbor defenses, except at Key West and Tortugas, which alone, he seemed to think, were "essentially national." He strongly deprecated the "reduction" and "subjugation" of the seceded States; and, declaring himself in favor of peace, said, with emphasis: "War is disunion. War is final, eternal separation." Perhaps intending merely to emphasize his attitude of mediation, he carelessly permitted himself to make a plea to tolerate accomplished secession.* All this was very far short of the language of his letter of acceptance, that "the laws must be administered, the constituted authorities upheld, and all unlawful resistance to these things must be put down with firmness,
*Douglas, Senate speech, March 15, 1861. "Globe." The very existence of the people in this great valley depends upon maintaining inviolate and forever that
impartiality, and fidelity." The adjournment of the Senate had terminated the debate without issue. Douglas was still lingering in Washington, when suddenly the whole country was holding its breath at the report of the outrage in Charleston harbor.
Wedded too closely to the acts of the demagogue, Douglas nevertheless possessed the vision and power of the statesman in a high degree. Past failures had come to him not so much through lack of ability, as through adherence to vicious methods. Estimating success above principle, he had adopted reckless expedients, and leagued himself with questionable and dangerous combinations; and his speech of the 15th of March was only a new instance of his readiness to risk his consistency and his fame for a plausible but delusive trick in party strategy. Until this time, throughout all his minor heresies, he had kept himself true and unspotted on one high point of political doctrine. The Union must be preserved, the laws enforced. In the face of temptation and defeat, in New Orleans and in Norfolk as boldly as in New York, he had declared that if Lincoln were elected he must be inaugurated and obeyed. This was popular sovereignty, genuine and undefiled. It was against this principle that the challenge had been hurled at Sumter, and the incident furnished Douglas the opportunity to retrieve the serious mistake of his recent Senate speech. That assault could no longer be disguised as lawful complaint or constitutional redressit was the spring of a wild beast at the throat of the nation. It changed the issue from coercion to anarchy.† No single act of Douglas's life so strongly marks his gift of leadership as that he now saw and accepted the new issue, and without a moment's hesitation came forward and placed himself beside Lincoln in defense of the Government- the first as well as the greatest "war Democrat." An army with banners, not a marshal with a writ, was now the constitutional remedy. In the face of unprovoked military assault Douglas waived all personal rivalry and party issues, and assured Lincoln, without questions or conditions, of his help to maintain the Union.
With frankness and generosity as Lincoln's ruling instincts, his long-continued political contests with Douglas had always been kept within the bounds of personal and social courtesy, if we except their Illinois joint debates, where the heat of discussion had once or twice carried them to the verge of a personal quarrel. Those passages, however, were long since
great right secured by the Constitution, of freedom of trade, of transit, and of commerce, from the center of the continent to the ocean that surrounds it. . . .
forgotten by both. The present emergency open the road to this alliance, it was here was too grave for party feeling. Lincoln vindicated. On the following morning, side knew Douglas too well to underrate him. by side with Lincoln's proclamation, the whole It was the President's method to apply the country read the telegraphic announcement of representative principle to problems of states- the interview and the authorized declaration manship. It did not need an instant's reflec- that while Douglas was yet "unalterably option to remember that next in value to the posed to the Administration on all its political rank and file of the Republican party was issues, he was prepared to sustain the Presithe voluntary alliance of a great leader whom dent in the exercise of all his constitutional more than a million voters in the North had functions to preserve the Union, and maintain so lately followed unflinchingly to inevitable the Government, and defend the Federal capipolitical defeat, and with whom that leader tal."* If there had been any possible uncernow offered to reënforce the defenders of the tainty in the premises before, this was sufficient Union. If Lincoln had ever doubted the wis- to make the whole North a unit in demanding dom of his Sumter policy, which had kept the suppression of the rebellion.