At 3.20 A.M., Major Anderson received from Messrs. Chesnut and Lee a notification to this effect: "By authority of Brigadier General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time." And a later dispatch from General Beauregard to Secretary Walker, April 12, laconically stated: "WE OPENED FIRE AT 4.30."
At last the hour and the minute had come, for which the Slave Power of the South had for thirty years so impatiently longed. At last the moment had come, when all the long-treasured vengeance of the South —outgrown from questions of Tariff, of Slavery, and of Secession—was to be poured out in blood and battle; when the panoplied powers and forces of rebellious confederated States, standing face to face with the resolute patriotism of an outraged Union, would belch forth flame and fury and hurtling missiles upon the Federal Fort and the old flag floating o'er it.
And whose the sacrilegious hand that dared be first raised against his Country and his Country's flag? Stevens's mortar battery at Sullivan's Island is ready to open, when a lean, long-haired old man, with eyes blazing in their deep fanatical sockets, totters hastily forward and ravenously seizing in his bony hands a lanyard, pulls the string, and, with a flash and roar, away speeds the shrieking shell on its mission of destruction; and, while shell after shell, and shot after shot, from battery after battery, screams a savage accompaniment to the boom and flash and bellow of the guns, that lean old man works his clutched fingers in an ecstasy of fiendish pleasure, and chuckles: "Aye, I told them at Columbia that night, that the defense of the South is only to be secured through the lead of South Carolina; and, old as I am, I had come here to join them in that lead—and I have done it."
[Edmund Ruffin, see p. 100. This theory of the necessity of South Carolina leading, had long been held, as in the following, first published in the New York Tribune, July 3, 1862, which, among other letters, was found in the house of William H. Trescot, on Barnwell's Island, South Carolina, when re-occupied by United States troops:
"VIRGINIA CONVENTION, May 3, 1851
"My DEAR, SIR:—You misunderstood my last letter, if you supposed that I intended to visit South Carolina this Spring. I am exceedingly obliged to you for your kind invitations, and it would afford me the highest pleasure to interchange in person, sentiments with a friend whose manner of thinking so closely agrees with my own. But my engagements here closely confine me to this city, and deny me such a gratification.
"I would be especially glad to be in Charleston next week, and witness the proceedings of your Convention of Delegates from the Southern Rights Associations. The condition of things in your State deeply interests me. Her wise foresight and manly independence have placed her, as the head of the South, to whom alone true-hearted men can look with any hope or pleasure.
"Momentous are the consequences which depend upon your action. Which party will prevail? The immediate Secessionists, or those who are opposed to separate State action at this time? For my part I forbear to form a wish. Were I a Carolinian, it would be very different; but when I consider the serious effects the decision may have on your future weal or woe, I feel that a citizen of a State which has acted as Virginia, has no right to interfere, even by a wish.
"If the General Government allows you peaceably and freely to Secede, neither Virginia, nor any other Southern State, would, in my opinion, follow you at present. But what would be the effect upon South Carolina? Some of our best friends have supposed that it would cut off Charleston from the great Western trade, which she is now striking for, and would retard very greatly the progress of your State. I confess that I think differently. I believe thoroughly in our own theories, and that, even if Charleston did not grow quite as fast in her trade with other States, yet the relief from Federal taxation would vastly stimulate your prosperity. If so, the prestige of the Union would be destroyed, and you would be the nucleus for a Southern Confederation at no distant day.
"But I do not doubt, from all I have been able toe to learn that the Federal Government would use force, beginning with the form most embarrassing to you, and least calculated to excite sympathy. I mean a naval blockade. In that event, could you stand the reaction feeling which the suffering commerce of Charleston would probably manifest? Would you not lose that in which your strength consists, the union of your people? I do not mean to imply an opinion, I only ask the question.
"If you could force this blockade, and bring the Government to direct force, the feeling in Virginia would be very great. I trust in God it would bring her to your aid. But it would be wrong in me to deceive you by speaking certainly. I cannot express the deep mortification I have felt at her course this Winter. But I do not believe that the course of the Legislature is a fair expression of popular feeling. In the East, at least, the great majority believes in the right of Secession, and feels the deepest sympathy with Carolina in her opposition to measures which they regard as she does. But the West—Western Virginia—there is the rub! Only 60,000 slaves to 494,000 whites! When I consider this fact, and the kind of argument which has been heard in this body, I cannot but regard with the greatest fear the question whether Virginia would assist Carolina in such an issue.
"I must acknowledge, my dear sir, that I look to the future with almost as much apprehension as hope. You well object to the term Democrat. Democracy, in its original philosophical sense, is indeed incompatible with Slavery and the whole system of Southern society. Yet, if you look back, what change will you find made in any of your State Constitutions, or in our legislation—that is, in its general course—for the last fifty years, which was not in the direction of this Democracy? Do not its principles and theories become daily more fixed in our practice? (I had almost said in the opinions of our people, did I not remember with pleasure the great improvement of opinion in regard to the abstract question of Slavery). And if such is the case, what are we to hope in the future? I do not hesitate to say that if the question is raised between Carolina and the Federal Government, and the latter prevails, the last hope of republican government, and, I fear, of Southern civilization, is gone. Russia will then be a better government than ours.
"I fear that the confusion and interruptions amid which I write have made this rather a rambling letter. Do you visit the North in the Summer? I would be very happy to welcome you to the Old Dominion.
"I am much obliged to you for the offer to send me Hammond's Eulogy on Calhoun, but I am indebted to the author for a copy.
"With esteem and friendship, yours truly,
"M. R. H. GARNETT.
"WM. H. TRESCOT, ESQ."]
Next morning's New York herald, in its Charleston dispatch of April 12, announced to the World that "The first shot [fired at Fort Sumter] from Stevens's battery was fired by the venerable Edmund Ruffin, of Virginia," and added, "That ball will do more for the cause of Secession, in Virginia, than volumes of stump speeches."
"Soon," says Greeley in his History, "the thunder of fifty heavy breaching cannon, in one grand volley, followed by the crashing and crumbling of brick, stone, and mortar around and above them, apprized the little garrison that their stay must necessarily be short."
Says an eye-witness of the bombardment: "Shells burst with the greatest rapidity in every portion of the work, hurling the loose brick and stone in all directions, breaking the windows and setting fire to whatever woodwork they burst against. * * * The firing from the batteries on Cumming's Point was scattered over the whole of the gorge or rear of the Fort, till it looked like a sieve. The explosion of shells, and the quantity of deadly missiles that were hurled in every direction and at every instant of time, made it almost certain death to go out of the lower tier of casemates, and also made the working of the barbette or upper (uncovered) guns, which contained all our heaviest metal, and by which alone we could throw shells, quite impossible.
"During the first day there was hardly an instant of time that there was a cessation of the whizzing of balls, which were sometimes coming half a dozen at once. There was not a portion of the work which was not taken in reverse from mortars. * * * During Friday, the officers' barracks were three times set on fire by the shells and three times put out under the most galling and destructive cannonade.
"For the fourth time, the barracks were set on fire early on Saturday morning, and attempts were made to extinguish the flames; but it was soon discovered that red-hot shot were being thrown into the Fort with fearful rapidity, and it became evident that it would be impossible to put out the conflagration. The whole garrison was then set to work, or as many as could be spared, to remove the powder from the magazines, which was desperate work, rolling barrels of powder through the fire. * * * After the barracks were well on fire, the batteries directed upon Fort Sumter increased their cannonading to a rapidity greater than had been attained before."
"About this time, the shells and ammunition in the upper service-magazines exploded, scattering the tower and upper portions of the building in every direction. The crash of the beams, the roar of the flames, and the shower of fragments of the Fort, with the blackness of the smoke, made the scene indescribably terrific and grand. This continued for several hours. * * * "
"There was not a portion of the Fort where a breath of air could be got for hours, except through a wet cloth. The fire spread to the men's quarters on the right hand and on the left, and endangered the powder which had been taken out of the magazines. The men went through the fire, and covered the barrels with wet cloths, but the danger of the Fort's blowing up became so imminent that they were obliged to heave the barrels out of the embrasures."
Major Anderson's official report tells the whole story briefly and well, in these words:
"STEAMSHIP BALTIC, OFF SANDY HOOK
"April 18, 1861, 10.30 A.M., VIA NEW YORK.
"Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the quarters were entirely burnt, the main gates destroyed by fire, the gorge walls seriously injured, the magazine surrounded by flames, and its door closed from the effects of heat; four barrels and three cartridges of powder only being available, and no provisions remaining but pork, I accepted terms of evacuation offered by General Beauregard—being the same offered by him on the 11th inst., prior to the commencement of hostilities—and marched out of the Fort on Sunday afternoon, the 14th instant, with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and private property, and saluting my flag with fifty guns.
"ROBERT ANDERSON, "Major 1st Artillery, Commanding.
"HON. SIMON CAMERON, "Secretary of War, Washington."
During all this thirty-four hours of bombardment, the South rejoiced with exceeding great joy that the time had come for the vindication of its peculiar ideas of State and other rights, even though it be with flames and the sword. At Charleston, the people were crazy with exultation and wine-feasting and drinking being the order of the day and night. But for the surrender, Fort Sumter would have been stormed that Sunday night. As it was, Sunday was turned into a day of general jubilation, and while the people cheered and filled the streets, all the Churches of Charleston celebrated, with more or less devotional fervor and ceremony, the bloodless victory.
At Montgomery, the Chiefs of the Confederate Government were serenaded. "Salvos of artillery were fired, and the whole population seemed to be in an ecstasy of triumph."—[McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 114]
The Confederate Secretary of War, flushed with the success, predicted that the Confederate flag "will, before the first of May, float over the dome of the old Capitol at Washington" and "will eventually float over Faneuil Hall, in Boston."
From Maryland to Mexico, the protests of Union men of the South were unheard in the fierce clamor of "On to Washington!"
The Richmond Examiner said: "There never was half the unanimity among the people before, nor a tithe of the zeal upon any subject, that is now manifested to take Washington. From the mountain tops and valleys to the shores of the sea, there is one wild shout of fierce resolve to capture Washington City at all and every human hazard."
So also, the Mobile Advertiser enthusiastically exclaimed:
"We are prepared to fight, and the enemy is not. Now is the time for action, while he is yet unprepared. Let the fife sound 'Gray Jackets over the Border,' and let a hundred thousand men, with such arms as they can snatch, get over the border as quickly as they can. Let a division enter every Northern border State, destroy railroad connection to prevent concentration of the enemy, and the desperate strait of these States, the body of Lincoln's country, will compel him to a peace—or compel his successor, should Virginia not suffer him to escape from his doomed capital."
It was on Friday morning, the 12th of April, as we have seen, that the first Rebel shot was fired at Fort Sumter. It was on Saturday afternoon and evening that the terms of surrender were agreed to, and on Sunday afternoon that the Federal flag was saluted and hauled down, and the surrender completed. On Monday morning, being the 15th of April, in all the great Northern Journals of the day appeared the following:
"WHEREAS, the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are, opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of Judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law; now, therefore I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the Militia of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said Combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.
"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth, will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens of any part of the Country; and I hereby command the persons composing the Combinations aforesaid, to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes, within twenty days from this date.
"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. The Senators and Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their respective chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the 4th day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.
"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
"By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
While in the North the official responses to this Call for troops were prompt and patriotic, in the Border and Slave States, not yet in Rebellion, they were anything but encouraging.
The reply of Governor Burton, of Delaware, was by the issue of a proclamation "recommending the formation of volunteer companies for the protection of the lives and property of the people of Delaware against violence of any sort to which they may be exposed; the companies not being subject to be ordered by the Executive into the United States service—the law not vesting him with such authority—but having the option of offering their services to the General Government for the defense of its capital and the support of the Constitution and laws of the Country."
Governor Hicks, of Maryland, in like manner, issued a proclamation for Maryland's quota of the troops, but stated that her four regiments would be detailed to serve within the limits of Maryland—or, for the defense of the National Capital.
Governor Letcher, of Virginia, replied: "The militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object—an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the Act of 1795 —will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate Civil War, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited toward the South."
Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, replied to Secretary Cameron: "Your dispatch is received, and, if genuine—which its extraordinary character leads me to doubt—I have to say in reply that I regard the levy of troops made by the Administration, for the purpose of subjugating the States of the South, as in violation of the Constitution and a usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this War upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina. I will reply more in detail when your Call is received by mail."
Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, replied: "Your dispatch is received. In answer I say emphatically, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States."
Governor Harris, of Tennessee, replied: "Tennessee will not furnish a single man for Coercion, but fifty thousand, if necessary, for the Defense of our rights or those of our Southern brethren."
Governor Jackson, of Missouri, replied: "Your requisition is illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical and cannot be complied with."
Governor Rector, of Arkansas, replied: "None will be furnished. The demand is only adding insult to injury."
Discouraging and even insulting as were most of these replies, the responses of the Governors of the Free States were, on the other hand, full of the ring of true martial Patriotism evoked by the fall of Sumter and the President's first call for troops. Twenty millions of Northern hearts were stirred by that Call, as they had never before been stirred. Party and faction became for the moment, a thing of the past.
The Governors of the Free States made instant proclamation for volunteers, and the People responded not by thousands but by hundreds of thousands. New York, the Empire State, by her Governor and her Legislature placed all her tremendous resources at the service of the Union; and the great State of Pennsylvania, through Governor Curtin, did the same. Nor were the other States at all behind.
The Loyal North felt that Law, Order, Liberty, the existence of the Nation itself was in peril, and must be both saved and vindicated. Over half a million of men—from the prairies of the West and the hills and cities of the East—from farms and counting houses, from factories and mines and workshops—sprang to arms at the Call, and begged to be enrolled. The merchants and capitalists throughout the North proffered to the Government their wealth and influence and best services. The press and the people responded as only the press and people of a Free land can respond—with all their heart and soul. "Fort Sumter," said one of the journals, "is lost, but Freedom is saved. Henceforth, the Loyal States are a unit in uncompromising hostility to Treason, wherever plotted, however justified. Fort Sumter is temporarily lost, but the Country is saved. Live the Republic!"
This, in a nutshell, was the feeling everywhere expressed, whether by the great crowds that marched through the streets of Northern cities with drums beating and banners flying—cheering wildly for the Union, singing Union songs, and compelling those of doubtful loyalty to throw out to the breeze from their homes the glorified Stars and Stripes—by the great majority of newspapers—by the pulpit, by the rostrum, by the bench, by all of whatever profession or calling in Northern life. For the moment, the voice of the Rebel-sympathizer was hushed in the land, or so tremendously overborne that it seemed as if there was an absolute unanimity of love for the Union.
Of course, in Border-States, bound to the South by ties of lineage and intermarriage and politics and business association, the feeling could not be the same as elsewhere. There, they were, so to speak, drawn both ways at once, by the beckoning hands of kindred on the one side, and Country on the other! Thus they long waited and hesitated, praying that something might yet happen to save the Union of their fathers, and prevent the shedding of brothers' blood, by brothers-hoping against hope-waited, in the belief that a position of armed neutrality might be permitted to them; and grieved, when they found this could not be.
Each side to the great Conflict-at-arms naturally enough believed itself right, and that the other side was the first aggressor; but the judgment of Mankind has placed the blame where it properly belonged—on the shoulders of the Rebels. The calm, clear statement of President Lincoln, in his July Message to Congress, touching the assault and its preceding history—together with his conclusions—states the whole matter in such authentic and convincing manner that it may be said to have settled the point beyond further controversy. After stating that it "was resolved to notify the Governor of South Carolina that he might expect an attempt would be made to provision the Fort; and that if the attempt should not be resisted there would be no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition, without further notice, or in case of an attack on the Fort," Mr. Lincoln continues: "This notice was accordingly given; whereupon the Fort was attacked and bombarded to its fall, without even awaiting the arrival of the provisioning expedition."
The President then proceeds: "It is thus seen that the assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was, in no sense, a matter of self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the Fort could, by no possibility, commit aggression upon them. They knew —they were expressly notified—that the giving of bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They knew that this Government desired to keep the garrison in the Fort —not to assail them—but merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution —trusting, as hereinbefore stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot-box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the Fort for precisely the reverse object—to drive out the visible authority of the Federal Union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution.
"That this was their object, the Executive well understood; and, having said to them, in the Inaugural Address, 'you can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors,' he took pains not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry as that the World should not be able to misunderstand it.
"By the affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that point was reached. Then and thereby the assailants of the Government began the Conflict of arms, without a gun in sight or in expectancy to return their fire, save only the few in the Fort sent to that harbor years before for their own protection, and still ready to give that protection in whatever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else, they have forced upon the Country, the distinct issue: 'Immediate dissolution or blood.'
"And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of Man the question whether a Constitutional Republic or Democracy—a government of the People by the same People—can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretences made in this case, or on any other pretences, or arbitrarily without any pretence, break up their Government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: 'Is there in all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?' 'Must a Government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?'
"So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the War power of the Government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction, by force, for its preservation."
The Call for Troops was made, as we have seen, on the 15th day of April. On the evening of the following day several companies of a Pennsylvania Regiment reported for duty in Washington. On the 18th, more Pennsylvania Volunteers, including a company of Artillery, arrived there.
On the 19th of April, the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment—whose progress through New York city had been triumphal-was suddenly and unexpectedly assailed, in its passage through Baltimore, to the defense of the National Capital, by a howling mob of Maryland Secessionists—worked up to a pitch of States-rights frenzy by Confederate emissaries and influential Baltimore Secession-sympathizers, by news of the sudden evacuation of the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, and other exciting tidings—and had to fight its way through, leaving three soldiers of that regiment dead, and a number wounded, behind it.
[At a meeting of the "National Volunteer Association," at Monument Square, Baltimore, the previous evening, says Greeley's History of the American Conflict, page 462, "None of the speakers directly advocated attacks on the Northern troops about to pass through the city; but each was open in his hostility to 'Coercion,' and ardently exhorted his hearers to organize, arm and drill, for the Conflict now inevitable. Carr (Wilson C. N. Carr) said: 'I do not care how many Federal troops are sent to Washington; they will soon find themselves surrounded by such an army from Virginia and Maryland, that escape to their homes will be impossible; and when the 75,000 who are intended to invade the South shall have polluted that soil with their touch, the South will exterminate and sweep them from the Earth.' (Frantic cheering and yelling). The meeting broke up with stentorian cheers for 'the South' and for 'President Davis."']
Ten companies of Philadelphia troops, reaching Baltimore at the same time, unarmed, were also violently assailed by the crazy mob, and, after a two hours' fight, reached the cars and returned to Philadelphia.
Washington City—already, by the Secession of Virginia, cut off from the South—was thus practically cut off from the North as well; and to isolate it more completely, the telegraph wires were cut down and the railroad bridges burned. A mere handful of regulars, the few volunteers that had got through before the outbreak in Baltimore, and a small number of Union residents and Government department clerks—these, under General Winfield Scott, constituted the paltry force that, for ten days after the Call for troops, held the National Capital.
Informed, as the Rebels must have been, by their swarming spies, of the weakness of the Federal metropolis, it seems absolutely marvelous that instant advantage was not taken of it.
The Richmond Examiner, of April 23d, said: "The capture of Washington City is perfectly within the power of Virginia and Maryland, if Virginia will only make the effort with her constituted authorities; nor is there a single moment to lose. * * * The fanatical yell for the immediate subjugation of the whole South is going up hourly from the united voices of all the North; and, for the purpose of making their work sure, they have determined to hold Washington City as the point whence to carry on their brutal warfare. Our people can take it—they will take it—and Scott, the arch-traitor, and Lincoln, the Beast, combined, cannot prevent it. The just indignation of an outraged and deeply injured people will teach the Illinois Ape to repeat his race and retrace his journey across the borders of the Free Negro States still more rapidly than he came. * * * Great cleansing and purification are needed and will be given to that festering sink of iniquity, that wallow of Lincoln and Scott—the desecrated city of Washington; and many indeed will be the carcasses of dogs and caitiff that will blacken the air upon the gallows before the great work is accomplished. So let it be!"
But despite all this fanfaronade of brutal bluster, and various movements that looked somewhat threatening, and this complete isolation for more than a week from the rest of the World, the city of Washington was not seized by the Rebels, after all.
This nervous condition of affairs, however, existed until the 25th—and to General Benjamin F. Butler is due the chief credit of putting an end to it. It seems he had reached the Susquehanna river at Perryville, with his Eighth Massachusetts Regiment on the 20th—the day after the Sixth Massachusetts had been mobbed at Baltimore—and, finding his further progress to Washington via Baltimore, barred by the destruction of the bridge across the Susquehanna, etc., he at once seized a large ferry steamer, embarked his men on her, steamed down the river and Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, took possession of the frigate Constitution, the Naval Academy, and the city itself, gathered supplies, and being reinforced by the arrival by water of the famous New York Seventh, and other regiments, repaired the branch railroad to Annapolis Junction (on the main line of railroad between Baltimore and Washington), and transferred his column from thence, by cars, on the 25th, to the National Capital—soon thereafter also taking military possession of Baltimore, which gave no further trouble to the Union Cause. In the meantime, however, other untoward events to that Cause had happened.
Two days after the Call for troops, the Virginia Convention (April 17th) secretly voted to Secede from the Union. An expedition of Virginia troops was almost at once started to capture the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, which, as has already been intimated, was evacuated hastily on the night of the 18th, by the handful of Union regulars garrisoning it, after a futile effort to destroy the public property and stores it held. Another expedition was started to seize the Federal Navy Yard at Norfolk—a rich prize, containing as it did, between 2,000 and 3,000 pieces of heavy ordnance (300 of them Dahlgrens), three old line-of-battle ships and a number of frigates, including the Cumberland and the fine forty-gun steam frigate Merrimac, together with thousands of kegs of powder and immense stores of other munitions of war, and supplies—that had cost in all some $10,000,000. Without an enemy in sight, however, this fine Navy Yard was shamefully evacuated, after partly scuttling and setting fire to the vessels—the Cumberland alone being towed away—and spiking the guns, and doing other not very material damage.
So also, in North Carolina, Rebel influence was equally active. On the 20th of April Governor Ellis seized the Federal Branch Mint at, Charlotte, and on the 22d the Federal Arsenal at Fayetteville. A few days thereafter his Legislature authorized him to tender to Virginia —which had already joined the Confederacy—or to the Government of the Confederate States itself, the volunteer forces of North Carolina. And, although at the end of January the people of that State had decided at the polls that no Secession Convention be held, yet the subservient Legislature did not hesitate, on demand, to call one together which met in May and ordained such Secession.
Thus, by the end of May, 1861, the Confederacy had grown to comprise nine instead of seven States, and the Confederate troops were concentrating on Richmond—whither the Rebel Government was soon to remove, from Montgomery.
By this time also not only had the ranks of the regular Union Army been filled and largely added to, but 42,000 additional volunteers had been called out by President Lincoln; and the blockade of the Southern ports (including those of Virginia and North Carolina) that had been proclaimed by him, was, despite all obstacles, now becoming effectual and respected.
Washington City and its suburbs, by the influx of Union volunteers, had during this month become a vast armed camp; the Potomac river had been crossed and the Virginia hills (including Arlington heights) which overlooked the Federal Capital, had been occupied and fortified by Union troops; the young and gallant Colonel Ellsworth had been killed by a Virginia Rebel while pulling down a Rebel flag in Alexandria; and General Benjamin F. Butler, in command at Fortress Monroe, had by an inspiration, solved one of the knottiest points confronting our armies, by declaring of three Negroes who had fled from their master so as to escape working on Rebel fortifications, that they should not be returned to that master—under the Fugitive Slave Law, as demanded by a Rebel officer with a flag of truce—but were confiscated "property," and would be retained, as "contraband of war."
It was about this time, too, that the New Orleans Picayune fell into line with other unscrupulous Rebel sheets, by gravely declaring that: "All the Massachusetts troops now in Washington are Negroes, with the exception of two or three drummer boys. General Butler, in command, is a native of Liberia. Our readers may recollect old Ben, the barber, who kept a shop in Poydras street, and emigrated to Liberia with a small competence. General Butler is his son." Little did the writer of that paragraph dream how soon New Orleans would crouch at the very feet of that same General!
And now, while the armed hosts on either side are assembling in hostile array, or resting on their arms, preliminary to the approaching fray of battle, let us glance at the alleged causes underlying this great Rebellion against the Union.
THE CAUSES OF SECESSION.
In preceding Chapters of this work, it has been briefly shown, that from the very hour in which the Republic of the United States was born, there have not been wanting, among its own citizens, those who hated it, and when they could not rule, were always ready to do what they could, by Conspiracy, Sedition, Mutiny, Nullification, Secession, or otherwise, to weaken and destroy it. This fact, and the processes by which the Conspirators worked, is very well stated, in his documentary "History of the Rebellion," by Edward McPherson, when he says: "In the Slaveholding States, a considerable body of men have always been disaffected to the Union. They resisted the adoption of the National Constitution, then sought to refine away the rights and powers of the General Government, and by artful expedients, in a series of years, using the excitements growing out of passing questions, finally perverted the sentiments of large masses of men, and prepared them for Revolution."
Before giving further incontestable proofs establishing this fact, and before endeavoring to sift out the true cause or causes of Secession, let us first examine such evidences as are submitted by him in support of his proposition.
The first piece of testimony, is an extract from an unpublished journal of U. S. Senator Maclay of Pennsylvania, from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1791—the period of the First Congress under the Federal Constitution. It runs thus:
"1789, June 9.—In relation to the Tariff Bill, the affair of confining the East India Trade to the citizens of America had been negatived, and a committee had been appointed to report on this business. The report came in with very high duties, amounting to a prohibition. But a new phenomenon had made its appearance in the House (meaning the Senate) since Friday.
"Pierce Butler, from South Carolina, had taken his seat, and flamed like a meteor. He arraigned the whole Impost law, and then charged (indirectly) the whole Congress with a design of oppressing South Carolina. He cried out for encouraging the Danes and Swedes, and foreigners of every kind, to come and take away our produce. In fact he was for a Navigation Act reversed.
"June 11.—Attended at the hall as usual.
"Mr. Ralph Izard and Mr. Butler opposed the whole of the drawbacks in every shape whatever.
"Mr. (William) Grayson, of Virginia, warm on this subject, said we were not ripe for such a thing. We were a new Nation, and had no business for any such regulations—a Nation /sui generis/.
"Mr. (Richard Henry) Lee (of Virginia) said drawbacks were right, but would be so much abused, he could not think of admitting them.
"Mr. (Oliver) Ellsworth (of Connecticut) said New England rum would be exported, instead of West India, to obtain the drawback.
"I thought it best to say a few words in reply to each. We were a new Nation, it was true, but we were not a new People. We were composed of individuals of like manners, habits, and customs with the European Nations. What, therefore, had been found useful among them, came well recommended by experience to us. Drawbacks stand as an example in this point of view to us. If the thing was right in itself, there could be no just argument drawn against the use of a thing from the abuse of it. It would be the duty of Government to guard against abuses, by prudent appointments and watchful attention to officers. That as to changing the kind of rum, I thought the collection Bill would provide for this, by limiting the exportation to the original casks and packages. I said a great deal more, but really did not feel much interest either way. But the debates were very lengthy.
"Butler flamed away, and THREATENED A DISSOLUTION OF THE UNION, with regard to his State, as sure as God was in the firmament. He scattered his remarks over the whole Impost bill, calling it partial, oppressive, etc., and solely calculated to oppress South Carolina, and yet ever and anon declaring how clear of local views and how candid and dispassionate he was. He degenerates into mere declamation. His State would live free, or die glorious."
The next piece of evidence is General Jackson's letter to Rev. A. J. Crawford, as follows:
"WASHINGTON, May 1, 1833.
"MY DEAR SIR: * * * I have had a laborious task here, but Nullification is dead; and its actors and courtiers will only be remembered by the People to be execrated for their wicked designs to sever and destroy the only good Government on the globe, and that prosperity and happiness we enjoy over every other portion of the World. Haman's gallows ought to be the fate of all such ambitious men who would involve their Country in Civil War, and all the evils in its train, that they might reign and ride on its whirlwinds and direct the storm. The Free People of these United States have spoken, and consigned these wicked demagogues to their proper doom. Take care of your Nullifiers; you have them among you; let them meet with the indignant frowns of every man who loves his Country. The Tariff, it is now known, was a mere pretext—its burden was on your coarse woolens. By the law of July, 1832, coarse woolen was reduced to five per cent., for the benefit of the South. Mr. Clay's Bill takes it up and classes it with woolens at fifty per cent., reduces it gradually down to twenty per cent., and there it is to remain, and Mr. Calhoun and all the Nullifiers agree to the principle. The cash duties and home valuation will be equal to fifteen per cent. more, and after the year 1842, you pay on coarse woolens thirty-five per cent. If this is not Protection, I cannot understand; therefore the Tariff was only the pretext, and Disunion and a Southern Confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the Negro or Slavery question.
"My health is not good, but is improving a little. Present me kindly to your lady and family, and believe me to be your friend. I will always be happy to hear from you. "ANDREW JACKSON."
Another evidence is given in the following extract from Benton's "Thirty Years in the Senate," vol. ii., as follows:
"The regular inauguration of this Slavery agitation dates from the year 1835; but it had commenced two years before, and in this way: Nullification and Disunion had commenced in 1830, upon complaint against Protective Tariff. That, being put down in 1833 under President Jackson's proclamation and energetic measures, was immediately substituted by the Slavery agitation. Mr. Calhoun, when he went home from Congress in the spring of that year, told his friends that 'the South could never be united against the North on the Tariff question —that the sugar interest of Louisiana would keep her out—and that the basis of Southern Union must be shifted to the Slave question.' Then all the papers in his interest, and especially the one at Washington, published by Mr. Duff Green, dropped Tariff agitation, and commenced upon Slavery, and in two years had the agitation ripe for inauguration, on the Slavery question. And in tracing this agitation to its present stage, and to comprehend its rationale, it is not to be forgotten that it is a mere continuation of old Tariff Disunion, and preferred because more available."
Again, from p. 490 of his private correspondence, Mr. Clay's words to an Alabamian, in 1844, are thus given:
"From the developments now being made in South Carolina, it is perfectly manifest that a Party exists in that State seeking a Dissolution of the Union, and for that purpose employ the pretext of the rejection of Mr. Tyler's abominable treaty. South Carolina, being surrounded by Slave States, would, in the event of a Dissolution of the Union, suffer only comparative evils; but it is otherwise with Kentucky. She has the boundary of the Ohio extending four hundred miles on three Free States. What would our condition be in the event of the greatest calamity that could befall this Nation?"
Allusion is also made to a letter written by Representative Nathan Appleton, of Boston, December 15, 1860, in which that gentleman said that when he was in Congress—in 1832-33—he had "made up his mind that Messrs. Calhoun, Hayne, McDuffie, etc., were desirous of a separation of the Slave States into a separate Confederacy, as more favorable to the security of Slave Property."
After mentioning that "About 1835, some South Carolinians attempted a Disunion demonstration," our authority says: It is thus described by ex-Governor Francis Thomas of Maryland, in his speech in Baltimore, October 29, 1861:
"Full twenty years ago, when occupying my seat in the House of Representatives, I was surprised one morning, after the assembling of the House, to observe that all the members from the Slaveholding States were absent. Whilst reflecting on this strange occurrence, I was asked why I was not in attendance on the Southern Caucus assembled in the room of the Committee on Claims. I replied that I had received no invitation.
"I then proposed to go to the Committee-room to see what was being done. When I entered, I found that little cock-sparrow, Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, addressing the meeting, and strutting about like a rooster around a barn-yard coop, discussing the following resolution:
"' Resolved, That no member of Congress, representing a Southern constituency, shall again take his seat until a resolution is passed satisfactory to the South on the subject of Slavery.'
"I listened to his language, and when he had finished, I obtained the floor, asking to be permitted to take part in the discussion. I determined at once to kill the Treasonable plot hatched by John C. Calhoun, the Catiline of America, by asking questions. I said to Mr. Pickens, 'What next do you propose we shall do? are we to tell the People that Republicanism is a failure? If you are for that, I am not. I came here to sustain and uphold American institutions; to defend the rights of the North as well as the South; to secure harmony and good fellowship between all Sections of our common Country.' They dared not answer these questions. The Southern temper had not then been gotten up. As my questions were not answered, I moved an adjournment of the Caucus /sine die/. Mr. Craig, of Virginia, seconded the motion, and the company was broken up. We returned to the House, and Mr. Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, a glorious patriot then as now, introduced a resolution which temporarily calmed the excitement."
The remarks upon this statement, made November 4, 1861, by the National Intelligencer, were as follows:
"However busy Mr. Pickens may have been in the Caucus after it met, the most active man in getting it up and pressing the Southern members to go into it, was Mr. R. B. Rhett, also a member from South Carolina. The occasion, or alleged cause of this withdrawal from the House into secret deliberation was an anti-Slavery speech of Mr. Slade, of Vermont, which Mr. Rhett violently denounced, and proposed to the Southern members to leave the House and go into Conclave in one of the Committee-rooms, which they generally did, if not all of them. We are able to state, however, what may not have been known to Governor Thomas, that at least three besides himself, of those who did attend it, went there with a purpose very different from an intention to consent to any Treasonable measure. These three men were Henry A. Wise, Balie Peyton, and William Cost Johnson. Neither of them opened his lips in the Caucus; they went to observe; and we can assure Governor Thomas, that if Mr. Pickens or Mr. Calhoun, (whom he names) or any one else had presented a distinct proposition looking to Disunion, or Revolt, or Secession, he would have witnessed a scene not soon to be forgotten. The three whom we have mentioned were as brave as they were determined. Fortunately, perhaps, the man whom they went particularly to watch, remained silent and passive."
Let us, however, pursue the inquiry a little further. On the 14th of November, 1860, Alexander H. Stephens addressed the Legislature of Georgia, and in a portion of that address—replying to a speech made before the same Body the previous evening by Mr. Toombs, in which the latter had "recounted the evils of this Government"—said:
"The first [of these evils] was the Fishing Bounties, paid mostly to the sailors of New England. Our friend stated that forty-eight years of our Government was under the administration of Southern Presidents. Well, these Fishing Bounties began under the rule of a Southern President, I believe. No one of them, during the whole forty-eight years, ever set his Administration against the principle or policy of them. * * *
"The next evil which my friend complained of, was the Tariff. Well, let us look at that for a moment. About the time I commenced noticing public matters, this question was agitating the Country almost as fearfully as the Slave question now is. In 1832, when I was in college, South Carolina was ready to Nullify or Secede from the Union on this account. And what have we seen? The Tariff no longer distracts the public counsels. Reason has triumphed! The present Tariff was voted for by Massachusetts and South Carolina. The lion and the lamb lay down together—every man in the Senate and House from Massachusetts and South Carolina, I think, voted for it, as did my honorable friend himself. And if it be true, to use the figure of speech of my honorable friend, that every man in the North that works in iron, and brass and wood, has his muscle strengthened by the protection of the Government, that stimulant was given by his vote and I believe (that of) every other Southern man.
"Mr. TOOMBS—The Tariff lessened the duties.
"Mr. STEPHENS—Yes, and Massachusetts with unanimity voted with the South to lessen them, and they were made just as low as Southern men asked them to be, and that is the rate they are now at. If reason and argument, with experience, produced such changes in the sentiments of Massachusetts from 1832 to 1857, on the subject of the Tariff, may not like changes be effected there by the same means—reason and argument, and appeals to patriotism on the present vexed question? And who can say that by 1875 or 1890, Massachusetts may not vote with South Carolina and Georgia upon all those questions that now distract the Country and threaten its peace and existence.
"Another matter of grievance alluded to by my honorable friend was the Navigation Laws. This policy was also commenced under the Administration of one of these Southern Presidents who ruled so well, and has been continued through all of them since. * * * One of the objects (of these) was to build up a commercial American marine by giving American bottoms the exclusive Carrying Trade between our own ports. This is a great arm of national power. This object was accomplished. We have now an amount of shipping, not only coastwise, but to foreign countries, which puts us in the front rank of the Nations of the World. England can no longer be styled the Mistress of the Seas. What American is not proud of the result? Whether those laws should be continued is another question. But one thing is certain; no President, Northern or Southern, has ever yet recommended their repeal. * * *
"These then were the true main grievances or grounds of complaint against the general system of our Government and its workings—I mean the administration of the Federal Government. As to the acts of the federal States I shall speak presently: but these three were the main ones used against the common head. Now, suppose it be admitted that all of these are evils in the system; do they overbalance and outweigh the advantages and great good which this same Government affords in a thousand innumerable ways that cannot be estimated? Have we not at the South, as well as the North, grown great, prosperous, and happy under its operations? Has any part of the World ever shown such rapid progress in the development of wealth, and all the material resources of national power and greatness, as the Southern States have under the General Government, notwithstanding all its defects?
"Mr. TOOMBS—In spite of it.
"Mr. STEPHENS—My honorable friend says we have, in spite of the General Government; that without it, I suppose he thinks, we might have done as well, or perhaps better, than we have done in spite of it. * * * Whether we of the South would have been better off without the Government, is, to say the least, problematical. On the one side we can only put the fact, against speculation and conjecture on the other. * * * The influence of the Government on us is like that of the atmosphere around us. Its benefits are so silent and unseen that they are seldom thought of or appreciated.
"We seldom think of the single element of oxygen in the air we breathe, and yet let this simple, unseen and unfelt agent be withdrawn, this life-giving element be taken away from this all-pervading fluid around us, and what instant and appalling changes would take place in all organic creation.
"It may be that we are all that we are 'in spite of the General Government,' but it may be that without it we should have been far different from what we are now. It is true that there is no equal part of the Earth with natural resources superior perhaps to ours. That portion of this Country known as the Southern States, stretching from the Chesapeake to the Rio Grande, is fully equal to the picture drawn by the honorable and eloquent Senator last night, in all natural capacities. But how many ages and centuries passed before these capacities were developed to reach this advanced age of civilization. There these same hills, rich in ore, same rivers, same valleys and plains, are as they have been since they came from the hand of the Creator; uneducated and uncivilized man roamed over them for how long no history informs us.
"It was only under our institutions that they could be developed. Their development is the result of the enterprise of our people, under operations of the Government and institutions under which we have lived. Even our people, without these, never would have done it. The organization of society has much to do with the development of the natural resources of any Country or any Land. The institutions of a People, political and moral, are the matrix in which the germ of their organic structure quickens into life—takes root, and develops in form, nature, and character. Our institutions constitute the basis, the matrix, from which spring all our characteristics of development and greatness. Look at Greece. There is the same fertile soil, the same blue sky, the same inlets and harbors, the same AEgean, the same Olympus; there is the same land where Homer sung, where Pericles spoke; it is in nature the same old Greece—but it is living Greece no more.
"Descendants of the same people inhabit the country; yet what is the reason of this vast difference? In the midst of present degradation we see the glorious fragments of ancient works of art-temples, with ornaments and inscriptions that excite wonder and admiration—the remains of a once high order of civilization, which have outlived the language they spoke—upon them all, Ichabod is written—their glory has departed. Why is this so? I answer, their institutions have been destroyed. These were but the fruits of their forms of government, the matrix from which their great development sprang; and when once the institutions of a People have been destroyed, there is no earthly power that can bring back the Promethean spark to kindle them here again, any more than in that ancient land of eloquence, poetry and song.
"The same may be said of Italy. Where is Rome, once the mistress of the World? There are the same seven hills now, the same soil, the same natural resources; the nature is the same, but what a ruin of human greatness meets the eye of the traveler throughout the length and breadth of that most down-trodden land! why have not the People of that Heaven-favored clime, the spirit that animated their fathers? Why this sad difference?
"It is the destruction of their institutions that has caused it; and, my countrymen, if we shall in an evil hour rashly pull down and destroy those institutions which the patriotic hand of our fathers labored so long and so hard to build up, and which have done so much for us and the World, who can venture the prediction that similar results will not ensue? Let us avoid it if we can. I trust the spirit is among us that will enable us to do it. Let us not rashly try the experiment, for, if it fails, as it did in Greece and Italy, and in the South American Republics, and in every other place wherever liberty is once destroyed, it may never be restored to us again.
"There are defects in our government, errors in administration, and short-comings of many kinds; but in spite of these defects and errors, Georgia has grown to be a great State. Let us pause here a moment.
"When I look around and see our prosperity in everything, agriculture, commerce, art, science, and every department of education, physical and mental, as well as moral advancement—and our colleges—I think, in the face of such an exhibition, if we can, without the loss of power, or any essential right or interest, remain in the Union, it is our duty to ourselves and to posterity—let us not too readily yield to this temptation—to do so. Our first parents, the great progenitors of the human race, were not without a like temptation, when in the Garden of Eden. They were led to believe that their condition would be bettered —that their eyes would be opened—and that they would become as gods. They in an evil hour yielded—instead of becoming gods they only saw their own nakedness.
"I look upon this Country, with our institutions, as the Eden of the World, the Paradise of the Universe. It may be that out of it we may become greater and more prosperous, but I am candid and sincere in telling you that I fear if we rashly evince passion, and without sufficient cause shall take that step, that instead of becoming greater or more peaceful, prosperous, and happy—instead of becoming gods, we will become demons, and at no distant day commence cutting one another's throats. This is my apprehension.
"Let us, therefore, whatever we do, meet those difficulties, great as they are, like wise and sensible men, and consider them in the light of all the consequences which may attend our action. Let us see first clearly where the path of duty leads, and then we may not fear to tread therein."
Said Senator Wigfall, of Texas, March 4, 1861, in the United States Senate, only a few hours before Mr. Lincoln's Inauguration:
"I desire to pour oil on the waters, to produce harmony, peace and quiet here. It is early in the morning, and I hope I shall not say anything that may be construed as offensive. I rise merely that we may have an understanding of this question.
"It is not Slavery in the Territories, it is not expansion, which is the difficulty. If the resolution which the Senator from Wisconsin introduced here, denying the right of Secession, had been adopted by two-thirds of each branch of this department of the Government, and had been ratified by three-fourths of the States, I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as the State in which I live and to which I owe my allegiance is concerned, if she had no other cause for a disruption of the Union taking place, she would undoubtedly have gone out.
[To insert as an additional article of amendment to the Constitution, the following: "Under this Constitution, as originally adopted, and as it now exists, no State has power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States: but this Constitution, and all laws passed in pursuance of its delegated powers, are the Supreme Law of the Land, anything contained in any constitution, ordinance, or act of any State, to the contrary notwithstanding."]
"The moment you deny the right of self-government to the free White men of the South, they will leave the Government. They believe in the Declaration of Independence. They believe that:
"'Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.'
"That principle of the Declaration of Independence is the one upon which the free White men of the South predicated their devotion to the present Constitution of the United States; and it was the denial of that, as much as anything else, that has created the dissatisfaction in that Section of the Country.
"There is no instrument of writing that has ever been written that has been more misapprehended and misunderstood and misrepresented than this same unfortunate Declaration of Independence, and no set of gentlemen have ever been so slandered as the fathers who drew and signed that Declaration.
"If there was a thing on earth that they did not intend to assert, it was that a Negro was a White man. As I said here, a short time ago, one of the greatest charges they made against the British Government was, that old King George was attempting to establish the fact practically that all men were created Free and Equal. They charged him in the Declaration of Independence with inciting their Slaves to insurrection. That is one of the grounds upon which they threw off their allegiance to the British Parliament.
"Another great misapprehension is, that the men who drafted that Declaration of Independence had any peculiar fancy for one form of government rather than another. They were not fighting to establish a Democracy in this country; they were not fighting to establish a Republican form of government in this Country. Nothing was further from their intention.
"Alexander Hamilton, after he had fought for seven years, declared that the British form of government was the best that the ingenuity of man had ever devised; and when John Adams said to him, 'without its corruptions;' 'Why,' said he, 'its corruptions are its greatest excellence; without the corruptions, it would be nothing.'
"In the Declaration of Independence, they speak of George III., after this fashion. They say:
"'A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free People.'
"Now, I ask any plain common-sense man what was the meaning of that? Was it that they were opposed to a Monarchical form of government? Was it that they believed a Monarchical form of government was incompatible with civil liberty? No, sir; they entertained no such absurd idea. None of them entertained it; but they say that George III, was a prince whose character was 'marked by every act which may define a tyrant' and that therefore he was 'unfit to be the ruler of a free People.' Had his character not been so marked by every quality which would define a tyrant, he might have been the fit ruler of a free People; ergo, a monarchical form of Government was not incompatible with civil liberty.
"That was clearly the opinion of those men. I do not advocate it now; for I have said frequently that we are wiser than our fathers, and our children will be wiser than we are. One hundred years hence, men will understand their own affairs much better than we do. We understand our affairs better than those who preceded us one hundred years. But what I assert is, that the men of the Revolution did not believe that a Monarchical form of Government was incompatible with civil liberty.
"What I assert is, that when they spoke of 'all men being created equal,' they were speaking of the White men who then had unsheathed their swords—for what purpose? To establish the right of self-government in themselves; and when they had achieved that, they established, not Democracies, but Republican forms of Government in the thirteen sovereign, separate and independent Colonies. Yet the Declaration of Independence is constantly quoted to prove Negro equality. It proves no such thing; it was intended to prove no such thing.
"The 'glittering generalities' which a distinguished former Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Choate) spoke of, as contained in the Declaration of Independence, one of them at least, about all men being created equal —was not original with Mr. Jefferson. I recollect seeing a pamphlet called the Principles of the Whigs and Jacobites, published about the year 1745, when the last of the Stuarts, called 'the Pretender,' was striking a blow that was fatal to himself, but a blow for his crown, in which pamphlet the very phraseology is used, word for word and letter for letter. I have not got it here to-night. I sent the other day to the Library to try and find it, but could not find it; it was burnt, I believe, with the pamphlets that were burnt some time ago.
"That Mr. Jefferson copied it or plagiarized it, is not true, I suppose, any more than the charge that the distinguished Senator from New York plagiarized from the Federalist in preparing his celebrated compromising speech which was made here a short time ago. It was the cant phrase of the day in 1745, which was only about thirty years previous to the Declaration of Independence. This particular pamphlet, which I have read, was published; others were published at the same time. That sort of phraseology was used.
"There was a war of classes in England; there were men who were contending for legitimacy; who were contending for the right of the Crown being inherent and depending on the will of God, 'the divine right of Kings,' for maintaining an hereditary landed-aristocracy; there was another Party who were contending against this doctrine of legitimacy, and the right of primogeniture. These were called the Whigs; they established this general phraseology in denouncing the divine right and the doctrine of legitimacy, and it became the common phraseology of the Country; so that in the obscure county of Mecklenburg, in North Carolina, a declaration containing the same assertions was found as in this celebrated Declaration of Independence, written by the immortal Jefferson.
"Which of us, I ask, is there upon this floor who has not read and re-read whatever was written within the last twenty-five or thirty years by the distinguished men of this country? But enough of that.
"As I said before, there ought not have been, and there did not necessarily result from our form of Government, any irrepressible conflict between the Slaveholding and the non-Slaveholding States. Nothing of the sort was necessary.
"Strike out a single clause in the Constitution of the United States, that which secures to each State a Republican form of Government, and there is no reason why, under precisely such a Constitution as we have, States that are Monarchical and States that are Republican, could not live in peace and quiet. They confederate together for common defense and general welfare, each State regulating its domestic concerns in its own way; those which preferred a Republican form of Government maintaining it, and those which preferred a Monarchical form of Government maintaining it.
"But how long could small States, with different forms of Government, live together, confederated for common defense and general welfare, if the people of one Section were to come to the conclusion that their institutions were better than those of the other, and thereupon straightway set about subverting the institutions of the other?"
In the reply of the Rebel "Commissioners of the Southern Confederacy" to Mr. Seward, April 9, 1861, they speak of our Government as being "persistently wedded to those fatal theories of construction of the Federal Constitution always rejected by the statesmen of the South, and adhered to by those of the Administration school, until they have produced their natural and often-predicted result of the destruction of the Union, under which we might have continued to live happily and gloriously together, had the spirit of the ancestry who framed the common Constitution animated the hearts of all their sons."
In the "Address of the people of South Carolina, assembled in Convention, to the people of the Slaveholding States of the United States," by which the attempt was made to justify the passage of the South Carolina Secession Ordinance of 1860, it is declared that:
"Discontent and contention have moved in the bosom of the Confederacy, for the last thirty-five years. During this time South Carolina has twice called her people together in solemn Convention, to take into consideration, the aggressions and unconstitutional wrongs, perpetrated by the people of the North on the people of the South. These wrongs were submitted to by the people of the South, under the hope and expectation that they would be final. But such hope and expectation have proved to be vain. Instead of producing forbearance, our acquiescence has only instigated to new forms of aggressions and outrage; and South Carolina, having again assembled her people in Convention, has this day dissolved her connection with the States constituting the United States.
"The one great evil from which all other evils have flowed, is the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States. The Government of the United States, is no longer the Government of Confederated Republics, but of a consolidated Democracy. It is no longer a free Government, but a Despotism. It is, in fact, such a Government as Great Britain attempted to set over our Fathers; and which was resisted and defeated by a seven years struggle for Independence.
"The Revolution of 1776, turned upon one great principle, self-government,—and self-taxation, the criterion of self-government.
"The Southern States now stand exactly in the same position towards the Northern States, that the Colonies did towards Great Britain. The Northern States, having the majority in Congress, claim the same power of omnipotence in legislation as the British Parliament. 'The General Welfare' is the only limit to the legislation of either; and the majority in Congress, as in the British Parliament, are the sole judges of the expediency of the legislation this 'General Welfare' requires. Thus the Government of the United States has become a consolidated Government; and the people of the Southern States are compelled to meet the very despotism their fathers threw off in the Revolution of 1776.
"The consolidation of the Government of Great Britain over the Colonies, was attempted to be carried out by the taxes. The British Parliament undertook to tax the Colonies to promote British interests. Our fathers resisted this pretension. They claimed the right of self-taxation through their Colonial Legislatures. They were not represented in the British Parliament, and, therefore, could not rightly be taxed by its legislation. The British Government, however, offered them a representation in Parliament; but it was not sufficient to enable them to protect themselves from the majority, and they refused the offer. Between taxation without any representation, and taxation without a representation adequate to protection, there was no difference. In neither case would the Colonies tax themselves. Hence, they refused to pay the taxes laid by the British Parliament.
"And so with the Southern States, towards the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation. They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust taxation; and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit, exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British Parliament for their benefit. For the last forty years, the taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a view of subserving the interests of the North. The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports, not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue—to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.
"There is another evil, in the condition of the Southern towards the Northern States, which our ancestors refused to bear towards Great Britain. Our ancestors not only taxed themselves, but all the taxes collected from them were expended amongst them. Had they submitted to the pretensions of the British Government, the taxes collected from them, would have been expended in other parts of the British Empire. They were fully aware of the effect of such a policy in impoverishing the people from whom taxes are collected, and in enriching those who receive the benefit of their expenditure.
"To prevent the evils of such a policy, was one of the motives which drove them on to Revolution, yet this British policy has been fully realized towards the Southern States, by the Northern States. The people of the Southern States are not only taxed for the benefit of the Northern States, but after the taxes are collected, three fourths of them are expended at the North. This cause, with others, connected with the operation of the General Government, has made the cities of the South provincial. Their growth is paralyzed; they are mere suburbs of Northern cities. The agricultural productions of the South are the basis of the foreign commerce of the United States; yet Southern cities do not carry it on. Our foreign trade is almost annihilated. * * *
"No man can for a moment believe, that our ancestors intended to establish over their posterity, exactly the same sort of Government they had overthrown. * * * Yet by gradual and steady encroachments on the part of the people of the North, and acquiescence on the part of the South, the limitations in the Constitution have been swept away; and the Government of the United States has become consolidated, with a claim of limitless powers in its operations. * * *
"A majority in Congress, according to their interested and perverted views, is omnipotent. * * * Numbers with them, is the great element of free Government. A majority is infallible and omnipotent. 'The right divine to rule in Kings,' is only transferred to their majority. The very object of all Constitutions, in free popular Government, is to restrain the majority. Constitutions, therefore, according to their theory, must be most unrighteous inventions, restricting liberty. None ought to exist; but the body politic ought simply to have a political organization, to bring out and enforce the will of the majority. This theory is a remorseless despotism. In resisting it, as applicable to ourselves, we are vindicating the great cause of free Government, more important, perhaps, to the World, than the existence of all the United States."
In his Special Message to the Confederate Congress at Montgomery, April 29, 1861, Mr. Jefferson Davis said:
"From a period as early as 1798, there had existed in all the States a Party, almost uninterruptedly in the majority, based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge, as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. * * * The Democratic Party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvas of 1836, the declaration, made in numerous previous political contests, that it would faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia Legislatures of [1798 and] 1799, and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed."
In a letter addressed by the Rebel Commissioners in London (Yancey, Rost and Mann), August 14, 1861, to Lord John Russell, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, it appears that they said: "It was from no fear that the Slaves would be liberated, that Secession took place. The very Party in power has proposed to guarantee Slavery forever in the States, if the South would but remain in the Union." On the 4th of May preceding, Lord John had received these Commissioners at his house; and in a letter of May 11, 1861, wrote, from the Foreign Office, to Lord Lyons, the British Minister at Washington, a letter, in which, alluding to his informal communication with them, he said: "One of these gentlemen, speaking for the others, dilated on the causes which had induced the Southern States to Secede from the Northern. The principal of these causes, he said, was not Slavery, but the very high price which, for the sake of Protecting the Northern manufacturers, the South were obliged to pay for the manufactured goods which they required. One of the first acts of the Southern Congress was to reduce these duties, and to prove their sincerity he gave as an instance that Louisiana had given up altogether that Protection on her sugar which she enjoyed by the legislation of the United States. As a proof of the riches of the South. He stated that of $350,000,000 of exports of produce to foreign countries $270,000,000 were furnished by the Southern States." * * * They pointed to the new Tariff of the United States as a proof that British manufactures would be nearly excluded from the North, and freely admitted in the South.
This may be as good a place as any other to say a few words touching another alleged "cause" of Secession. During the exciting period just prior to the breaking out of the great War of the Rebellion, the Slave-holding and Secession-nursing States of the South, made a terrible hubbub over the Personal Liberty Bills of the Northern States. And when Secession came, many people of the North supposed these Bills to be the prime, if not the only real cause of it. Not so. They constituted, as we now know, only a part of the mere pretext. But, none the less, they constituted a portion of the history of that eventful time, and cannot be altogether ignored.
In order then, that the reader may quickly grasp, not only the general nature, but also the most important details of the Personal Liberty Bills (in force, in 1860, in many of the Free States) so frequently alluded to in the Debates of Congress, in speeches on the stump, and in the fulminations of Seceding States and their authorized agents, commissioners, and representatives, it may be well now, briefly to refer to them, and to state that no such laws existed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Oregon.
Those of Maine provided that no officer of the State should in any way assist in the arrest or detention of a Fugitive Slave, and made it the duty of county attorneys to defend the Fugitive Slave against the claim of his master. A Bill to repeal these laws passed the Maine Senate, but failed in the House.
That of Massachusetts provided for commissioners in each county to defend alleged Fugitives from Service or Labor; for payment by the Commonwealth of all expenses of defense; prohibited the issue or service of process by State officers for arrest of alleged Fugitives, or the use of any prisons in the State for their detention, or that of any person aiding their escape; prohibited the kidnapping or removal of alleged Fugitive Slaves by any person; prohibited all officers within the State, down to Town officers, from arresting, imprisoning, detaining or returning to Service "any Person for the reason that he is claimed or adjudged to be a Fugitive from Service or Labor"—all such prohibitions being enforced by heavy fines and imprisonment. The Act of March 25, 1861, materially modified and softened the above provisions.
New Hampshire's law, provided that all Slaves entering the State with consent of the master shall be Free, and made the attempt to hold any person as a Slave within the State a felony.
Vermont's, prescribed that no process under the Fugitive Slave Law should be recognized by any of her Courts, officers, or citizens; nor any aid given in arresting or removing from the State any Person claimed as a Fugitive Slave; provided counsel for alleged Fugitives; for the issue of habeas corpus and trial by jury of issues of fact between the parties; ordained Freedom to all within the State who may have been held as Slaves before coming into it, and prescribed heavy penalties for any attempt to return any such to Slavery. A bill to repeal these laws, proposed November, 1860, in the Vermont House of Representatives, was beaten by two to one.
Connecticut's, provided that there must be two witnesses to prove that a Person is a Slave; that depositions are not evidence; that false testifying in Fugitive Slave cases shall be punishable by fine of $5,000 and five years in State prison.
In New Jersey, the only laws touching the subject, permitted persons temporarily sojourning in the State to bring and hold their Slaves, and made it the duty of all State officers to aid in the recovery of Fugitives from Service.
In Pennsylvania, barring an old dead-letter Statute, they simply prohibited any interference by any of the Courts, Aldermen, or Justices of the Peace, of the Commonwealth, with the functions of the Commissioner appointed under the United States Statute in Fugitive Slave cases.
In Michigan, the law required States' attorneys to defend Fugitive Slaves; prescribed the privileges of habeas corpus and jury trial for all such arrested; prohibited the use of prisons of the State for their detention; required evidence of two credible witnesses as to identity; and provided heavy penalties of fine and imprisonment for the seizure of any Free Person, with intent to have such Person held in Slavery. A Bill to repeal the Michigan law was defeated in the House by about two to one.
Wisconsin's Personal Liberty law was similar to that of Michigan, but with this addition, that no judgment recovered against any person in that State for violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 should be enforced by sale or execution of any real or personal property in that State.
That of Rhode Island, forbade the carrying away of any Person by force out of the State; forbade the official aiding in the arrest or detention of a Fugitive Slave; and denied her jails to the United States for any such detention.
Apropos of this subject, and before leaving it, it may be well to quote remarks of Mr. Simons of Rhode Island, in the United States Senate. Said he: "Complaint has been made of Personal Liberty Bills. Now, the Massachusetts Personal Liberty Bill was passed by a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, and signed by a Democratic Governor, a man who was afterwards nominated by Mr. Polk for the very best office in New England, and was unanimously confirmed by a Democratic United States Senate. Further than this, the very first time the attention of the Massachusetts Legislature was called to the propriety of a repeal of this law was by a Republican Governor. Now, on the other hand, South Carolina had repealed a law imprisoning British colored sailors, but retained the one imprisoning those coming from States inhabited by her own brethren!"
These Personal Liberty Bills were undoubtedly largely responsible for some of the irritation on the Slavery question preceding open hostilities between the Sections. But President Lincoln sounded the real depths of the Rebellion when he declared it to be a War upon the rights of the People. In his First Annual Message, December 3, 1861, he said:
"It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a War upon the first principle of popular government—the rights of the People. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage, and the denial to the People of all right to participate in the selection of public officers, except the legislative, boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the People in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the People.
"In my present position, I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.
"It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask brief attention. It is the effort to place Capital on an equal footing with, if not above Labor, in the structure of the Government.
"It is assumed that Labor is available only in connection with Capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning Capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that Capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call Slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.
"Now, there is no such relation between Capital and Labor as assumed; nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life, in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.
"Labor is prior to, and independent of Capital. Capital is only the fruit of Labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of Capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between Labor and Capital, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole Labor of the community exists within that relation.
"A few men own Capital, and that few, avoid labor themselves, and with their Capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class—neither work for others, nor have others working for them.
"In most of the Southern States, a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither Slaves nor masters; while in the Northern, a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men with their families—wives, sons, and daughters—work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of Capital on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or Slaves on the other.
"It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own Labor with Capital—that is they labor with their own hands, and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.
"Again, as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, any such thing as the free hired-laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in their lives, were hired laborers.
"The prudent, penniless beginner in the World, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system, which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress, and improvement of condition to all.
"No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty—none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of Liberty shall be lost. * * * The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day-it is a vast future also. * * * "
So too, Andrew Johnson, in his speech before the Senate, January 31, 1862, spake well and truly when he said that "there has been a deliberate design for years to change the nature and character and genius of this Government." And he added: "Do we not know that these schemers have been deliberately at work, and that there is a Party in the South, with some associates in the North, and even in the West, that have become tired of Free Government, in which they have lost confidence."
Said he: "They raise an outcry against 'Coercion,' that they may paralyze the Government, cripple the exercise of the great powers with which it was invested, finally to change its form and subject us to a Southern despotism. Do we not know it to be so? Why disguise this great truth? Do we not know that they have been anxious for a change of Government for years? Since this Rebellion commenced it has manifested itself in many quarters.