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appreciation of the many past services you have ren- To this Mr. Lincoln replied as follows:
“ MY DEAR SIR: Yours of the nith was received
two days ago. Should the convocation of governors of The President-elect was further gratified to the present aspect of things, tell them you judge from
which you speak seem desirous to know my views on receive about the same time from the veteran my speeches that I will be inflexible on the territorial General Wool a letter of noble and uncom- question ; that I probably think either the Missouri promising loyalty.
line extended, or Douglas's and Eli Thayer's popular
sovereignty, would lose us everything we gain by the “ Many thanks,” he wrote in reply, January 14th, election; that filibustering for all south of us, and mak"for your patriotic and generous letter of the lithing slave-States of it would follow, in spite of us, in instant. As to how far the military force of the Gov. either case; also that I probably think all opposition, ernment may become necessary to the preservation of stitution ought to be withdrawn.
real and apparent, to the fugitive-slave clause of the Con the Union, and more particularly how that force can best be directed to the object, I must chiefly rely upon thing, in my speeches, about secession. But my opin
“I believe you can pretend to find but little, if any. General Scott and yourself
. It affords me the pro- ion is, that no State can in any way lawfully get out of foundest satisfaction to know, that with both of you the Union without the consent of the others; and that judgment and feeling go heartily with your sense of
it is the duty of the President and other government professional and official duty to the work." +
functionaries to run the machine as it is.
A. LINCOLN." I
“ Truly yours, Meanwhile trusty friends in Washington, both in and out of Congress, had kept Lincoln Mr. Greeley not only had similar fears, but, informed by letter of public events occurring what was much worse, by his editorials in the there, so far as they were permitted to come “ Tribune" encouraged the South to hope for to the knowledge of Republicans: how the peaceable disunion. He wrote (November Cabinet divided, how the message was scouted, 30th) : the bold utterances of treason, the growing “Webster and Marshall and Story have reasoned apprehensions of the public. But general opin- well; the Federal flag represents a government, not ion was still in a hopeful mood.
a mere league ; we are in many respects one nation
from the St. John to the Rio Grande ; but the genius “ Mr. Mann," wrote one, " who stated that he knew of our institutions is essentially Republican and averse you personally, requested me to say that he had seen the to the employment of military force to fasten one secUnion dissolved twice — once when Southern members tion of our Confederacy to the other. If eight States, of Congress refused for three days to occupy their seats having five millions of people, choose to separate from
and that it all ended in smoke. He did not appear us, they cannot be permanently withheld from so doing the least alarmed about the secession movement, but by Federal cannon. others, particularly Thurlow Weed and Horace Greeley, expressed great anxiety.”
“ There is a pretty general belief here that
the cotton-States will go out of the Union,” These were influential names, and it may be wrote a correspondent from Washington. well to cite their own words. “I am anticipat- “ One South Carolina member is sorry for the ing troubles," wrote Mr. Weed, December 2d, condition of things in his State - is at heart “not generally apprehended by our friends. I opposed to disunion; but I will not mention his want the North to be sure she is right and then to name lest it should by some means get into the go ahead." || Some days later he wrote further: newspapers. Orr was forced into the secession
movement against his will. This I have from “In consultation yesterday with several friends, it was thought best to invite the governors of several good authority, and yet the statement may be a States to meet in this city on Thursday of next week, so mistake. It is hard to get at the exact truth.” #t that, if possible, there should be harmony of views and From another Mr. Lincoln received inforaction between them. It occurred to me that you mation as to the course of his party friends : should be apprised of this movement. Of course it is to be quiet and confidential. I have been acting with.
I have been acting with. “A good feeling prevails among Republican out knowledge of your views, upon vital questions. senators. The impression with all, unless there But I find it safe to trust the head and heart when both be one exception, is, that Republicans have no are under the guidance of right motives. I do not want concessions to make or compromises to offer, you to be saddled with the responsibilities of the Gov and that it is impolitic even to discuss making ernment before you take the helm. On the question of preserving the Union, I am unwilling to see a united them. . . I was a little surprised that the South and a divided North. Nor is such an alternative House voted to raise a committee on the state necessary. With wisdom and prudence we can unite of the Union. the North in upholding the supremacy of the Consti.
Inactivity and a kind tution and Laws, and thus united, your Administration spirit is, it seems to me, all that is left for us to will have its foundation upon a rock. .." do, till the 4th of March." #1
* Lincoln to Scott, Jan. Ith, 1861. Unpublished MS. Weed, Memoirs, Vol. II., p. 310.
Trumbull to Lincoln, Dec. 2d, 1860. Unpublished #1 Gurley to Lincoln, Dec. 3d, 1860. MS.
#1 Trumbull to Lincoln, Dec. 4th, 1860. Unpublished
heretofore most rabid secessionists now tremble before the brink on which they stand. They would retreat without trying the experiment if they had not kindled a fire at home which is beyond their control. This, in substance, Jefferson Davis stated to Fitch no longer ago than yesterday.” † The profession did not well accord with the signing of the conspirator's secession address by that senator only three days before. “I listened yesterday to Mr. Crittenden's speech,” wrote another friend,“ in support of his proposed compromise. In my opinion he is one of the most patriotic and at the same time mischievous of the Southern senators. ... After Mr. Crittenden, Mr. Johnson of Tennessee took the floor. . . . His simple declaration that the supposed wrongs must be settled inside of the Union is worth a hundred-fold more than all the patriotic wailing of the antediluvian Crittendens.” I
There were plenty of corresponHON. E. B. WASHBURNE. (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BRADY.)
dents to announce and describe the “I have never in my life,” wrote Mr. Cor- present and impending dangers, but none to win, chairman ofthe Committee of Thirty-three furnish a solution of the national difficulty. (December 10th),“ seen my country in such a There was no end of wild suggestion, and dangerous position. I look upon it with great that too from prominent men ordinarily capaalarm, but I am resolved not to be paralyzed ble of giving counsel. One, as we have seen, by dismay. Our safety can only be insured by was for accepting disunion. Another thought looking the danger full in the face and acting a letter or proclamation from the Presidentwith calm dignity in such way as [that] if elect would still the storm. A third wanted possible we may ride out the storm." him to drop down into Washington “ with a
These few extracts out of a multitude must carpet-sack.” A fourth advised him to march suffice to indicate the current and character of to the capital with a hundred thousand “widethe reports which reached Mr. Lincoln from awakes." Still a fifth proposed he should create various quarters. The hopes of the more san- a diversion by the purchase of Cuba. guine were, unfortunately, not realized. The It was a providential blessing that in such timid grew more despondent, the traitors bolder, a crisis the President-elect was a man of unfailand the crisis almost became a panic. Business ing common sense and complete self-control. men and capitalists of the Eastern States were He watched the rising clouds of insurrection; beginning to exert a pressure for concessions to he noted the anxious warnings of his friends. avert civil war, under which stanch Republicans He was neither buoyed up by reckless hopes, were on the point of giving way. The border nor cast down by exaggerated fears. He bided States, through their presses and their public his time, grasped at no rash counsels or exmen, implored a compromise, but the entreaty periments, uttered neither premature cry of was uniformly directed to the Republicans to alarm nor boast of overweening confidence. make concessions, and more often to justify He resisted pressing solicitations to change his than to denounce disunion. Some of the con- position, to explain his intention, to offer, either spirators themselves adroitly encouraged this for himself or the great national majority which effort to demoralize the North by a pretense chose him, any apology for his or their high of contrition. “South Carolina, I suppose," prerogative exercised in his election. wrote a friend to Mr. Lincoln,“ will try on her It must not, however, be inferred from the secession project. Perhaps some of the cot- foregoing that Mr. Lincoln shut himself up in ton-States will follow. Their number will not total silence. To discreet friends, as well as be large. Indeed I know that some of the to honorable opponents, under the seal of conCorwin to Lincoln, Dec. Toth, 1860. Unpublished MS. | Williams to Lincoln, Dec. 19th, 1860. Unpublished + Fogg to Lincoln, Dec. 17th, 1860. Unpublished MS. MS.
fidence, he was always free to repeat his well-formed convictions, and even in some degree to foreshadow his probable course. It is gratifying to note in this connection, especially since it evinces his acute judgment of human nature, that in few instances was such confidence violated during the whole period of his candidacy and official life. By unnoticed beginnings he easily and naturally assumed the leadership of his party in the personal interviews and private correspondence following the election, called out by the manifestations of Southern discontent. He was never obtrusive nor dictatorial; but in a suggestion to one, a hint to another, a friendly explanation or admonition to a third, he soon gave direction, unity, and confidence to his adherents.
Mr. Bryant, for instance, was strong. ly opposed to Mr. Seward's going into the Cabinet. Lincoln wrote him a few lines in explanation, which brought back the following qualified acqui
“ I have this moment received your note. Nothing On this point Lincoln's note had reassured could be more fair or more satisfactory than the prin- his shrinking faith. The “Tribune” announced ciple you lay down in regard to the formation of
your council of official advisers. I shall always be convinced that Mr. Lincoln had no thought of concesthat whatever selection you make it will be made con- sions, and thenceforward that powerful journal scientiously.” *
took a more healthy and hopeful tone. Mr. Greeley was, as we have seen, indulging Hon. William Kellogg, the Illinois represenin damaging vagaries about peaceable seces- tative on the Committee of Thirty-three, wrote sion, and to him Lincoln sent a word of friendly to him forinstructions as to the course he should caution. Greeley wrote a statement of his views pursue. Under date of December 11th Mr. Linin reply, but substantially yielded the point. coln replied to him as follows: He said a State could no more secede at pleasure from the Union than a stave could secede gard to the extension of slavery. The instant you do
“ Entertain no proposition for a compromise in refrom a cask. That if eight or ten contiguous they have us under again : all our labor is lost, and States sought to leave, he should say, “There's sooner or later must be done over. Douglas is sure to the door — go!” But,
be again trying to bring in his · Popular Sovereignty.'
Have none of it. The tug has to come, and better now " if the seceding State or States go to fighting and than later. You know I think the fugitive-slave clause defying the laws, the Union being yet undissolved save of the Constitution ought to be enforced - to put it in by their own say-so, I guess they will have to be made its mildest form, ought not to be resisted.” 1
I to behave themselves. I fear nothing, care for nothing, but another disgraceful back-down of the free Some weeks later Kellogg visited Lincoln to States. That is the only real danger. Let the Union urge his views of compromise on the Presidentslide — it may be reconstructed; let Presidents be as- elect. As a result of that visit Lincoln wrote the sassinated, we can elect more; let the Republicans be defeated and crushed, we shall’rise again. "But another following letter to Seward on February ist: nasty compromise, whereby everything is conceded and “On the 21st ult. Hon. W. Kellogg, a Republican nothing secured, will so thoroughly disgrace and hu- member of Congress of this State, whom you probamiliate us that we can never again raise our heads, and bly know, was here in a good deal of anxiety for our this country becomes a second edition of the Barbary friends to go in the way of compromise on the now States, as they were sixty years ago. “Take any form vexed question. While he was with me I received a but that.'"
dispatch from Senator Trumbull, at Washington, al* W. C. Bryant to Lincoln, Jan. 3d, 1861. Unpub. the border-State men, Kellogg's firmness gave way, lished MS.
and he announced his willingness to recede from the t Greeley to Lincoln, Dec. 22d, 1860. Unpublished Republican declarations. The change effected nothing MS.
but the sacrifice of his own consistency. He lost his Lincoln to Kellogg, Dec. 11th, 1860. Unpublished friends and gained no followers. His concession was MS.
spurned by the disunionists; and being a large and corIt would have been well had his advice been fol. pulent man, the wits of the day made themselves merry lowed. Under the pressure of the disunionists and of by dubbing his apostacy the “Mammoth Cave.”
luding to the same question and telling me to await and was determined to assert and maintain on letters. I therefore told Mr. Kellogg that when I pending and probable issues. should receive these letters, posting me as to the state of affairs at Washington, I would write yon, request
Mr. Seward's letter of December 26th, to ing you to let him see my letter. To my surprise, when Lincoln, gives us the sequel of this visit. the letters mentioned by Judge Trumbull came they made no allusion to the . vexed question.' This baffled
“I had only the opportunity for conferring with Mr. me so much that I was near not writing you at all, in Weed which was afforded by our journeying together on compliance with what I had said to judge Kellogg. the railroad from Syracuse to Albany. I say now, however, as I have all the while said, that
“He gave me verbally the substance of the suggestion on the territorial question — that is, the question of ex- you prepared for the consideration of the Republican tending slavery under the national auspices – I am in members, but not the written proposition. This morning flexible. I am for no compromise which assists or
I received the latter from him, and also information for permits the extension of the institution on soil owned the first time of your expectation that I would write to by the nation. And any trick by which the nation is you concerning the temper of parties and the public here. to acquire territory, and then allow some local author
“ I met on Monday my Republican associates on the ity to spread slavery, is as obnoxious as any other. I mittee. With the unanimous consent of our section 1 of
Committee of Thirteen, and afterwards the whole comtake it that to effect some such result as this, and to put us again on the high road to a slave empire, is the the ground of the suggestion made by you through Mr.
fered three propositions which seemed to me to cover object of all these proposed compromises, I am against Weed as I understood it. it. As to fugitive slaves, District of Columbia, slave. trade among the slave-States, and whatever springs of tered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or inter
“ First. That the Constitution should never be alnecessity from the fact that the institution is amongst us, I care but little, so that what is done be comely and fere with slavery in the States. This was accepted. not altogether outrageous. Nor do I care about New amended by granting a jury trial to the fugitive. This
“ Second. That the fugitive-slave law should be Mexico, if further extension were hedged against.”.
in opposition to our votes was amended soas to give the We shall describe somewhat in detail the for- jury in the State from which the fugitive fled, and so
amended was voted down by our own votes. The mation of Lincoln's Cabinet, and will only men- committee had already agreed to Mr. Crittenden's tion here that on December 13th he began that amendment concerning the fees of the commissioner, work by tendering the post of Secretary of making them the same when the fugitive is returned to State to Mr. Seward, which offer was accepted
slavery as when he is discharged.
“Our Third resolution was that Congress recom December 28th. The correspondence between mend to all the States to revise their legislation conthese eminent men affords an interesting view cerning persons recently resident in other States and of the beginnings of the new administration.
to repeal all such laws which contravene the Constitu
tion of the United States, or any law of Congress “Mr. Weed finding it not inconvenient to go West," passed in pursuance thereof. This was rejected by wrote Seward, December 16th,“ I have had some con
the pro-slavery vote of the committee. versation with him conc oncerning the condition and the
To-day we have had another meeting. I offered, prospect of public affairs, and he will be able to inform with the concurrence of my political associates, a fourth you of my present unsettled view of the subject upon proposition, viz.: That Congress should pass a law to which you so kindly wrote me a few days ago. I shall punish invasions of our States and conspiracies to efremain at home until his return, and shall then in fur: fect such invasions, but the latter only in the State and ther conference with him have the advantage of a
district where the acts of such complicity were com
mitted. This by the votes of our opponents was knowledge of the effect of public events certain to oc
amended so as practically to carry out Mr. Douglas's cur this week." +
suggestion of last winter for the revival of the old Se. Weed went to Springfield and had several by our own votes.
dition law of John Adams's time, and then was rejected interviews with the President-elect. There is “ This evening the Republican members of the comno record of these conferences; but it is likely mittee with Judge Trumbull and Mr. Fessenden met that Mr. Weed urged on those occasions, as he at my house to consider your written suggestion and did on allothers, the utmost forbearance, concil- the ground has been already covered, we find that in
determine whether it shall be offered. While we think iation, and concession to the South. To employ the form you give it, it would divide our friends not his favorite formula, he wanted Republicans only in the Committee but in Congress ; a portion be- to meet secession as patriots and not as par- of executing the constitutional provisions concerning
ing unwilling to give up their old opinion that the duty tisans.” The sentiment and the alliteration were fugitives from service belongs to the States, and not both pleasing; but Lincoln, trained in almost at all to Congress. But we shall confer and act as life-long debate with Douglas, the most subtle wisely as we can. juggler in words ever known to American pol
“ Thus far I have reported only our action on the itics, was not a man to deal in vague phrases. what I think of the temper of the parties and of the
subject of your suggestion. I proceed now to tell you He told Mr. Weed just what he would concede public here. and just how far he would conciliate — drew “ South Carolina has already taken her attitude of him a sharp and definite line to show where defiance. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisi
ana are pushed on towards the same attitude. I think partisanship ends and where patriotism begins. that they could not be arrested even if we should When Mr. Weed returned he bore with him the offer all you suggest and with it the restoration of the written statement of Lincoln; what he believed, Missouri Compromise line. But persons acting for
those States intimate that they might be so arrested * Lincoln to Seward, Feb. Ist, 1860. Unpublished MS. because they think that the Republicans are not going
+ Seward to Lincoln, Dec. 16th, 1860. Unpublished to concede the restoration of that line. MS.
“ The action of the border States is uncertain. Sym
ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS.
connected with your assumption of the government.” And he suggests that Mr. Lincoln should prepare to come to Washington a week earlier than is usual on such occasions; prefacing the advice, however, with the statement, “I do not entertain these apprehensions myself.” But by the day following he becomes convinced of the danger.
“At length I have gotten a position,” writes he, December 29th, “in which I can see what is going on in the councils of the President. It pains me to learn that things there are even worse than is understood. The President is debating day and night on the question whether he shall not recall Major Anderson and surrender Fort Sumter and go on arming the South. A plot is forming to seize the capital on or before the 4th of March, and this too has its accomplices in the public councils. I could tell you more particularly than I dare write, but you must not imagine that I am giving you suspicions and rumors. Believe me that I know what I write. In point of fact, the responsibilities of your administration must begin before the time arrives." +
Mr. Seward then advises that the President should arrive earlier, that he
appoint his Secretaries of War, Navy, (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY BRADY.)
and Treasury, and that they come to
Washington as soon as possible. pathy there is strong with the cotton-States, while pru- The events of a day or two, however, dissidence and patriotism dictate adhesion to the Union. pated the apparent magnitude of the crisis. Nothing could certainly restrain them but the adoption Buchanan's council broke up, Floyd retired of Mr. Crittenden's compromise, and I do not see the slightest indication of its adoption on the Republican in disgrace, the Cabinet was reorganized; Holt side of Congress. The members stand nearly or quite was made Secretary of War, and the immediate as firm against it as the country is. Under these circum- plots of the conspirators were exposed and for stances, time and accident, it seems to me, must determine the course of the border States,
a season baffled. “ Probably all the debate and conferences we have hitherto had will sink out of the public mind within
STEPHENS'S SPEECH a week or two, when the Republican members shall have refused to surrender at discretion to the State of
LINCOLN. South Carolina. New and exciting subjects will enter into the agitation and control results.
FOLLOWING the lead of South Carolina, the “ Thus I have said all that I am able to say of the governor of Georgia began the secession movetemper of parties and of the public. I add, very respect- ment in that State almost immediately after fully, my own opinion on the probable future. "The United States of America, their Constitution, larations and acts as fell within the scope of
the presidential election, by such public dectheir capital, their organization in all its departments, and with all its military and naval forces, will stand and his personal influence and official authority. pass without resistance into your hands. There will be Georgia had, however, given a heavy vote for several, perhaps all, of the slave-States standing in a Douglas, and her people were imbued with a contumacious attitude on the 4th of March. Sedition will be growing weaker and loyalty stronger every day strong feeling of conditional unionism. An opfrom the acts of secession as they occur.
position to hasty secession at once developed
itself of so formidable a character that all the But now the crisis in the affairs of the Gov- influence and cunning of the secessionists were ernment was approaching. It is already fore needed to push their movement to success. shadowed in Mr. Seward's letter of December The ablest men in the State hurried to Mill28th. “ There is a feverish excitement here,' edgeville and met in a sort of battle-royal of writes he,“ which awakens all kinds of appre- speech-making and wire-pulling. The Legislahensions of popular disturbance and disorders ture was the target, and its action or non-action Seward to Lincoln, Dec. 26, 1860. Unpublished tion bill the result to be affected. Senator
upon military appropriations and a convenMS.
+ Seward to Lincoln, Dec. 29, 1860. Unpublished MS. Toombs and others made speeches to promote