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Washington, which was adopted, and under to correspond confidentially and coöperate. which Colonel Stone was appointed inspector- This has been characterized as disrespect and general and ordered to organize and drill the treachery to their chief; but in the face of militia of the District of Columbia. This duty Mr. Buchanan's repeated neglect and avowed he faithfully discharged, and on the 5th of impotence to resist open insurrection, discrimFebruary reported the existence of some inating history will applaud the act. The thirteen volunteer companies, constituting a committee found no substantial proof of an total of 925 men, which can be at once called organized plot to seize the capital; nevertheinto service”; adding also, “the number of less its investigation and report quieted the apvolunteers for service can be doubled within prehensions of the timid, at the same time that seven days with proper facilities.” Not under- they afforded a warning to mischief-makers that rating either the moral or military aid of raw the authorities were on the alert and would levies of militia, General Scott was neverthe- make such an enterprise extremely hazardous. less too old a soldier to rely exclusively upon While the Howard Committee was yet purthem in an emergency. He therefore obtained suing its inquiry, and as the day for counting consent to concentrate at the capital available the presidential vote approached, General Scott regular forces to the number of eight compa- requested permission from the Secretary of nies, a total of about 480 men.
War to bring several additional companies of Stanton, appointed Attorney-General on the regulars from Fortress Monroe, to be replaced 20th of December, was, with his ardent and by recruits. This would augment his regulars positive nature, one of the most energetic to some seven hundred men, which, with the and uncompromising unionists in the Cabinet. police and militia, he deemed sufficient for all For him, the expulsion of Floyd, the reënforce- contingencies. Before the day arrived a conment of Sumter, and the other military pre- fidential arrangement of signals was commucautions hastily ordered, were not yet suffi- nicated to the officers, the regular troops being cient. Chafing under the President's painful placed under command of Colonel Harvey tardiness, he turned to Congress as a means Brown. General instructions were issued in for exposing and thwarting the intrigues of the strict confidence, and to officers alone. The conspirators. Sacrificing his party attachments militia was charged with the care of the varito the paramount demands of national safety, ous bridges of the Potomac; the regulars were he placed himself in confidential correspond- stationed at convenient points in the city. ence with Republican leaders in that body, Happily no alarm occurred. On the 13th giving and receiving advice as to the best of February an unusually large and brilliant means of preserving the Government. throng filled the galleries of the House of
On the 8th of January Mr. Buchanan trans- Representatives to witness the proceedings mitted to Congress a special message on the of the presidential count. Vice-President state of the Union, discussing also the rumors Breckinridge, one of the defeated candidates, of hostile designs against the capital. The presided over the joint convention of the two Republicans in the House of Representatives Houses. Senator Douglas, another, was on seized the occasion to secure the appointment the floor, and moved to dispense with certain of a Committee of Investigation, of which Mr. tedious routine. The sealed returns of the Howard, of Michigan, was made chairman. He electoral votes, cast by the chosen colleges of has left us an interesting account of its origin the several States on the 5th of December, and purpose :
were opened and registered. The tellers offi“That committee was raised at the request of loyal cially declared the result already known, viz.: members of the Cabinet. The resolutions came from that Lincoln had received 180 votes; Breckthem, and were placed in my hands with a request that inridge, 72 ; Bell, 39 ; Douglas, 12. Vice-PresI should offer them and thus become, if they should ident Breckinridge thereupon announced that pass, chairman of the committee, At first I refused to assume so fearful a responsibility. But being urged to
But being urged to “Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, having received do so by members and senators, I at last consented, on a majority of the whole number of electoral condition that the Speaker would allow me to nominate two members of the committee. I selected Mr. for four years commencing the 4th of March,
votes, is elected President of the United States Dawes, of Massachusetts, and Mr. Reynolds, of New York. Mr. Reynolds was elected as a Democrat, but 1861." he was true as steel, and a good lawyer. I do not know To comprehend more clearly the transacthat Mr. Stanton wrote the resolutions creating the tions growing out of the event, it is necessary committee. I did not see him write them. I never heard him say he wrote them. It would be easier, how to repeat that immediately after the beginning ever, to persuade me that Mr. Jefferson did not write of the Cabinet régime it was resolved to send the Declaration of Independence than that Mr. Stan- reënforcements to Fort Sumter. The first ton did not write those resolutions."
arrangement was to dispatch them in the With this committee Mr. Stanton and per- sloop-of-war Brooklyn; but owing to certain haps other members of the Cabinet continued difficulties and objections which presented themselves, General Scott decided to send two similar activity. Receiving no effective dishundred recruits with supplies from New York couragement or check, the various elements in the merchant steamer Star of the West, of rebellion had finally united in a provisional hoping she might enter the harbor and effect congress at Montgomery, which two days their landing at the fort without suspicion of later (February 8th) perfected a provisional her real errand. But, among others, Secretary government for the rebellion. Thompson, who was still a member of Buchan- As part of the same intrigue another incident, an's Cabinet, sent the Charleston conspirators which for convenience may be called the Fort notice of her coming. When on the morning Pickens truce, must also be mentioned. One of January 9th about daylight the Star of the of the most important naval and military siaWest attempted her entrance, she was fired tions of the United States was that at Pensaupon
from a battery which had been erected cola, Florida. Near it on the mainland were since New Year's Day under the order of Fort Barrancas and Fort McRae, and on Governor Pickens; and, though the vessel Santa Rosa Island, immediately opposite, Fort suffered no serious injury, the apparent danger Pickens, a powerful work, built for a war garcaused the officers to desist from their attempt rison of 1260 men, but now entirely empty. and turn and run the vessel out of the harbor. Lieutenant Slemmer held military command
The whole occurrence came upon Major with a garrison of only forty-six men, in Fort Anderson unexpectedly; and before he could Barrancas. When on January 3d General Scott well comprehend the design or decide to en- under the Cabinet regime admonished him to courage or assist the ship with the guns of prevent the seizure of these forts by surprise, Fort Sumter, she had retreated, and the op- Slemmer repeated the strategy of Anderson, portunity was gone. But the insult to the na- spiking the guns and destroying the powder tional flag roused his anger, and he demanded in Barrancas and McRae, and transferring his an apology from Governor Pickens for the command, increased by thirty ordinary seamen hostile act. So far from retracting or apologiz- from the Navy Yard, with all available suping, however, the governor boldly avowed and plies, to Fort Pickens, on the gth, ioth, and sustained his conduct; and Major Anderson, ith of January. Lieutenant Slemmer was not instead of making good the threat which ac- a moment too quick. The Florida convention companied his demand, proposed as an alter- passed an ordinance of secession on the roth, native to “refer the whole matter to my Gov- and two days afterwards a regiment of Florida ernment.” With great tact Governor Pickens and Alabama rebels appeared and took posat the same time made use of the occasion to session of the Navy Yard and the two abansend Attorney-General Hayne, of South Caro- doned forts. A considerable rebel force was lina, to President Buchanan, bearing a new within a short time concentrated to attempt written demand (the third one made by the the capture of Fort Pickens, but in the mean State), for the possession of the forts in Charles- time sundry ships of war had been ordered ton Harbor; and the two messengers arrived there by the Government. On January 21st in Washington on the 13th of January. But the Brooklyn, with a company of regular the central cabal at Washington, which in its artillery under Captain Vodges, was dispatched caucus resolutions of January 5th had issued thither as a further reënforcement to the fort. orders for immediate secession, seeing the The rebels now perceiving that this prepondanger and complication likely to arise from derance of military strength might enable the this headlong separate action of South Caro- Government to recapture the Navy Yard, the lina's governor, now took possession of Hayne central cabal at Washington resorted to an and his mission. By a skillful device of dila- intrigue to paralyze it. They proposed that tory diplomacy they kept open the question “no attack would be made on the fort if its of the demand Hayne had been instructed to present status should be suffered to remain," make, and thereby prolonged the military thus beguiling President Buchanan into a new truce at Charleston which it involved, until truce. A joint order was thereupon issued by the 6th of February following, when Secretary the Secretaries of War and the Navy, January of War Holt officially wrote the President's 29th, that Captain Vodges's artillery company refusal of the governor's demand. The ad- should not be landed from the Brooklyn vantage of this course to the conspirators be- “unless said fort shall be attacked or preparacame quickly apparent. Between the 12th of tions made for its attack.” The advantages of January and the 6th of February the insurrec- this stipulation were all on the side of the intion at Charleston worked day and night in surrection, and its existence proved a most building batteries and preparing men and ma- mischievous complication, and caused perilous terial to attack Sumter. In other States the delay when the new Lincoln Administration processes of secession, seizure, drill, equipment, began its dealings with the rebellion. and organization had also been going on with Want of space forbids us to review the debates and proceedings of Congress during which had been reported more than a month the winter of 1860–61 further than to note the before from his committee. The original recomplete failure of the projects of compromise port proposed in substance an amendment of which were originated in and out of it, and the Constitution providing that any constitubrought to its attention. The Senate Commit- tional interference with slavery must originate tee of Thirteen ended by reporting an irrecon- with the slave-States, and have the unanimous cilable disagreement. The various propositions assent of all the States to become valid. Mr. which were apparently adopted by the House Corwin by an amendment changed the phraCommittee of Thirty-three proved to be noth- seology and purport to the following: ing but the resolves of the several minority
“ Article 13. No amendment shall be made to the factions of that committee, and commanded Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress no united support when reported to the House. the power to abolish or interfere within any State with The Peace Conference terminated its labors the domestic institutions thereof, including that of per
sons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” by certain recommendations receiving only a minority vote of that body, and Congress, to This amendment was adopted by the House which these recommendations were sent, would on February 28th, yeas 133, nays 65. The Senhave nothing to do with them. So also cer- ate also passed it during the night preceding tain other propositions of adjustment offered the 4th of March, though in the journals of in Congress, known as the “Crittenden Com- Congress it appears dated as of March 2d. promise,” failed equally of acceptance. The variation is explained by the fact that
Nevertheless these many efforts were not the legislative day of the journals frequently entirely barren of result. At a point where it runs through two or more calendar days. In was least expected, they contributed to the that body the vote was, yeas 24, nays 12, adoption by Congress of a measure of adjust- and it was approved by President Buchanan ment which might have restored harmony to probably only an hour or two before the inauthe country if the rebellion of the cotton-States guration of his successor. had not been originated and controlled by a Mr. Lincoln alluded to this amendment in his conspiracy bent upon revolution as its prime inaugural address, reciting its substance and and ultimate object. It is a noteworthy fact that giving it his unreserved approval. “I underjust at the dawn of the civil war through which stand," he said, “a proposed amendment to slavery rushed to a swift self-destruction, that the Constitution — which amendment, howinstitution received the largest recognition and ever, I have not seen-has passed Congress, concession ever given it in American legislation. to the effect that the Federal Government shall
The report of the Committee of Thirty-three never interfere with the domestic institutions was made about the middle of January, but of the States, including that of persons held to at that time none of its six propositions or rec- service. To avoid misconstruction of what I ommendations commanded the attention of the have said, I depart from my purpose not to House. The secession stage of the revolution speak of particular amendments so far as to was just culminating. All was excitement and say that, holding such a provision to now be surprise over the ordinances of the cotton- implied constitutional law, I have no objecStates and the seizure, without actual collision tion to its being made express and irrevocable." or bloodshed, of the several Southern forts and The new Lincoln Administration soon after arsenals. The retirement of the Southern mem- transmitted this Joint Resolution to the several bers of Congress, and the meeting of the rev- States to receive their official action. But olutionary leaders, to unite and construct their nothing came of it. The South gave no reprovisional government at Montgomery, pro- sponse to the overture for peace, and in the longed what was to the public a succession of North it was lost sight of amid the overshaddramatic and spectacular incidents resembling owing events that immediately preceded the the movements of a political campaign, rather outbreak of hostilities. than the serious progress of a piece of orderly It was at this point that the South commitbusiness-like statesmanship. The North could ted its great political blunder. There is little not yet believe that the designs of the cotton- doubt that in the prevailing anxiety for com. State hotspurs were so desperate.
promise this constitutional amendment might The more conservative Congressmen from have been ratified by the necessary threethe North and from the border States still fourths of the States. Had the Southern leadhoped that good might come if an effort of ers been sincere in their professed apprehenconciliation and compromise were once more sions for the security of their slave property renewed. Accordingly, near the close of the and polity in their own States, here was an session (February 27th, 1861), Mr. Corwin, effectual and practically a perpetual guaranty, chairman of the House Committee of Thirty- offered in good faith as such. Their neglect three. brought forward one of the propositions and rejection of it shows that it was not dread
of ultimate abolition, but chagrin and a species his portrait, ambitious politicians to note new of gambler's desperation at the present and party currents, and veteran statesmen to urge prospective loss of political domination for the adoption of favorite theories or the ad. which they rushed headlong into revolution. vancement of faithful adherents.
To all outside appearance Lincoln remained unchanged. In the unpretending two-story
frame house which constituted his home, his AMONG the first congratulations which daily routine continued as before, except that poured in upon Mr. Lincoln was a terse greet- his door was oftener opened to welcome the ing from Governor Chase, dated November curious visitor or to shelter the confidential 7th, that admirably expressed the prevalent discussion of ominous occurrences in national feeling.
affairs. His daily public occupation was still to “You are President-elect. I congratulate you and proceed to the governor's office in the Statethank God. The great object of my wishes and labors house, to receive the cordial and entirely uncerfor nineteen years is accomplished in the overthrow of emonious greetings of high or low,— whosoever lishment of the policy of Freedom on safe and firm interim to keep himself informed, by means the slave power. The space is now clear for the estab- chose to enter at the open door,— and in the grounds. The lead is yours. The responsibility is vast. May God strengthen you for your great duties.” *
of the daily-increasing budget of letters and
newspapers, of the events of the country at Day after day confirmed the completeness large, and to give directions to his private secof the Republican victory, and two weeks after retary as to what replies should be made to election the city of Springfield was in all the important communications. Beyond the arriblaze and glory of a great celebration to sig. val of distinguished visitors, there was in all nalize the result. Projected merely as a local this no sign of elevation or rulership; he was jubilee, it called to the city crowds of rejoic- still the same kind neighbor and genial coming strangers. Though he had not said a pub- panion, who, whether on the street, in his oflic word during the campaign, Mr. Lincoln fice, or at his fireside, had for every one he could not on this occasion refuse the sound of met the same familiar nod or smile or cheering his voice to the huge torch-light procession, word,—the same bearing which for a quarter of and the crowds of his neighbors and friends a century had made his name a household whose shouts called him to the door of his mod- synonym of manly affection, virtue, and honor. est home. It was not the voice of partisan Under this quiet exterior and commonplace exultation, however, but of patriotic liberality. routine he was, however, already undergoing “ Friends and fellow-citizens,” said he, "please ex
most anxious and harassing labors. Day by cuse me on this occasion from making a speech. I day the horizon of politics gathered gloom, thank you in common with all those who have thought there were signs of disunion in the South, of fit by their votes to indorse the Republican cause. I discord in Congress, of weakness in Mr. Burejoice with you in the success which has thus far attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicings, let us
chanan's administration. The theory of secesneither express nor cherish any hard feelings toward sion became the theme of every newspaper any citizen who by his vote has differed with us. Let and the staple question of his daily visitors. us at all times remember that all American citizens are
Even upon theories Lincoln maintained a prubrothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.”
dent reserve. Nevertheless his qualified com
ments to friends were prompt and clear. “My We will perceive hereafter how in this sim- own impression is," said he (November 15th), ple utterance of his opening presidential ca- leaving myself room to modify the opinion reer he struck the keynote of blended firmness if upon a further investigation I should see fit and charity, which was to become the charac- to do so, that this Government possesses both teristic of his Administration.
the authority and the power to maintain its For some months Springfield now became own integrity. That, however, is not the ugly the Mecca of American politics. Transient point of this matter. The ugly point is the travelers and casual visitors tarried for a few necessity of keeping the Government together hours to shake hands with the newly chosen by force, as ours should be a government of chief; correspondents of leading newspapers fraternity." Later (December 13th) he forestablished temporary headquarters from which mulated his opinion a little more in detail. to send their readers pen-pictures of his per- “ The very existence," said he, "of a general sonal appearance, his daily habits, his home and national government implies the legal and public surroundings, and to catch the power, right, and duty of maintaining its own flying and often contradictory rumors of his integrity. This, if not expressed, is at least probable intentions. Artists came to paint implied in the Constitution. The right of a
* Chase to Lincoln, Nov. 17th, 1860. Warden, “ Life State to secede is not an open or debatable of Chase," p. 364.
question. It was fully discussed in Jackson's
time, and denied not only by him, but by the send reënforcements, the defenseless situation vote of Congress. It is the duty of a President of Fort Moultrie, and that Sumter, the key of to execute the laws and maintain the existing Charleston Harbor, lay at the mercy of the mob. Government. He cannot entertain any prop
“None of his suggestions or recommendations have osition for dissolution or dismemberment. He been acted upon, and of course he is powerless to do was not elected for any such purpose. As a anything further, but his heart is sound and true. •I matter of theoretical speculation it is proba- wish to God,' said he,' that Mr. Lincoln was in office. bly true, that if the people, with whom the He continued, “I do not know him, but I believe him
a true, honest, and conservative man.' Then he asked whole question rests, should become tired of earnestly, Mr. Washburne, is he a firm man?' I anthe present government, they may change it in swered that I had known you long and well and that the manner prescribed by the Constitution.' you would discharge your duty, and your whole duty, The secrets of the incipient rebellion, and then said resolutely and hopefully, 'All is not lost.'”
in the sight of the furnace seven times heated. He the treachery and conspiracy of a portion of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet, which have been al- In response to this patriotic expression of ready so fully laid bare from data only since the general, the return mail carried back the become accessible, neither Mr. Lincoln nor following letter from Lincoln to Washburne: any one save the actors themselves had then
“ SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Dec. 21st, 1860. any means of knowing. But in addition to “Hon. E. B. WASHBURNE. other current sources of information the con- giving an account of your interview with General
“MY DEAR SIR: Last night I received your letter fidential letters of Captain Abner Doubleday, Scott, and for which I thank you. Please present my second in command at Fort Moultrie, written respects to the general, and tell him, confidentially, I to the captain's brother in New York, were, shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he so long as mail communication remained, for
can to either hold or retake the forts, as the case may
require, at and after the inauguration. warded to the President-elect, giving him an
“ Yours as ever,
A. LINCOLN." || inside view of matters at that critical post. Most important, however, in its influence,
A little later Mr. Lincoln again sent mesand most valuable in its possible as well as sages of esteem and confidence to the general actual consequences, were the correspondence by Senators Cameron and Baker, who made and unity of patriotic confidence which estab- visits to Springfield. lished themselves at an early day between Mr. “I have seen General Scott," writes Cameron in reLincoln and General Scott. The general was ply (January 3d), “who bids me say he will be glad evidently somewhat proud of his famous Union. He says Mr. Buchanan at last has called on
to act under your orders in all ways to preserve the “ Views," written to President Buchanan un- him to see that order shall be preserved at the inauguder date of October 29th, 1860, as a political ration, in this District ; that for this purpose he has orsuggestion. He transmitted a copy of the same dered here two companies of Aying artillery, and that to the President-elect, as he had done to many as a constable. The old warrior is roused, and he will
he will organize the militia and have himself sworn in other gentlemen of prominence. A brief ac
be equal to the occasion.” knowledgment was written in reply (November 9th):
This statement was repeatedin an autograph
note from the general himself on the following " Mr. Lincoln tenders his sincere thanks to General
day: Scott for the copy of his “views, etc.,' which is received; and especially for this renewed manifestation of his pa.
“ Lieutenant-General Scott is highly gratified with triotic purposes as a citizen, connected as it is with the favorable opinion entertained of him by the Presi. his high official position and most distinguished char. dent-elect as he learns through Senators Baker and acter as a military captain.” |
Cameron, also personal friends of General S., who is
happy to reciprocate his highest respect and esteem. The delicate compliment and dignified re- The President-elect may rely with confidence on Gen. serve made their impression on the old hero. eral S.'s utmost exertions in the service of his counCalled to Washington about the middle of try (the Union) both before and after the approach
” December, and smarting under the neglect of ing inauguration.” Secretary Floyd and the discouraging indiffer- The general then mentions in detail the ence of President Buchanan, his hopes turned measures just taken, under the reorganized Cabtoward the elect of the people at Springfield. inet and the accession of Mr. Holt, to counter
It was at this juncture (December 17th) that mand the shipment of the Pittsburg guns, to a personal and political friend of long stand- send reënforcements to Fort Jefferson, and to seing called upon the general, and in a confiden- cure the safety of Washington for the presidential but frank interview learned from his own tial count and the approaching inauguration. lips the alarming dangers of the Govern
“ Permit me," wrote Mr. Lincoln in reply, January ment,- the neglect of the Administration to Ith, “to renew to you the assurance of my high Nicolay, Manuscript Memoranda.
|| Lincoln to Washburne, Dec. 21st, 1860. Unpub+ Lincoln to Scott, Nov. 9th, 1860. Unpublished MS. lished MS.
# Washburne to Lincoln, Dec. 17th, 1860. Unpub. Cameron to Lincoln, Jan. 3d, 1861. Unpublished MS. lished MS.
Scott to Lincoln, Jan. 4th, 1860. Unpublished MS.