The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
by Jefferson Davis
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What is the message before us? Does it benefit the case? Is there a solution offered here? We are informed in it of propositions made by commissioners from South Carolina. We are not informed even as to how they terminated. No countervailing proposition is presented; no suggestion is made. We are left drifting loosely, without chart or compass.

There is in our recent history, however, an event which might have suggested a policy to be pursued. When foreigners having no citizenship within the United States declared war against it and made war upon it; when the inhabitants of a Territory, disgraced by institutions offensive to the laws of every State of the Union, held this attitude of rebellion; when the Executive there had power to use troops, he first sent commissioners of peace to win them back to their duty. When South Carolina, a sovereign State, resumes the grants she had delegated; when South Carolina stands in an attitude which threatens within a short period to involve the country in a civil war unless the policy of the Government be changed, no suggestion is made to us that this Government might send commissioners to her; no suggestion is made to us that better information should be sought; there is no policy of peace, but we are told the army and navy are in the hands of the President of the United States, to be used against those who assail the power of the Federal Government.

Then, my friends, are we to allow events to drift onward to this fatal consummation? Are we to do nothing to restore peace? Shall we not, in addition to the proposition I have already made, to withdraw the force which complicates the question, send commissioners there in order that we may learn what this community desire, what this community will do, and put the two Governments upon friendly relations?

I will not weary the Senate by going over the argument of coercion. My friend from Ohio [Mr. Pugh], I may say, has exhausted the subject. I thank him, because it came appropriately from one not identified by his position with South Carolina. It came more effectively from him than it would have done from me, had I (as I have not) a power to present it as forcibly as he has done. Sirs, let me say, among the painful reflections which have crowded upon me by day and by night, none have weighed more heavily upon my heart than the reflection that our separation severs the ties which have so long bound us to our Northern friends, of whom we are glad to recognize the Senator as a type.

Now let us return a moment to consider what would have been the state of the case if the garrison at Charleston had been withdrawn. The fort would have stood there, not dismantled, but unoccupied. It would have stood there in the hands of an ordnance-sergeant. Commissioners would have come to treat of all questions with the Federal Government, of these forts as well as others. They would have remained there to answer the ends for which they were constructed—the ends of defense. If South Carolina was an independent State, then she might hold to us such a relation as Rhode Island held after the dissolution of the Confederation and before the formation of the Union, when Rhode Island appealed to the sympathies existing between the States connected in the struggles of the Revolution, and asked that a commercial war should not be waged upon her. These forts would have stood there then to cover the harbor of a friendly State; and, if the feeling which once existed among the people of the States had subsisted still, and that fort had been attacked, brave men from every section would have rushed to the rescue, and there imperiled their lives in the defense of a State identified with their early history, and still associated in their breasts with affectionate memories; the first act of this kind would have been one appealing to every generous motive of those people, again to reconsider the question of how we could live together, and through that bloody ordeal to have brought us into the position in which our fathers left us. There need have been no collision, as there could have been no question of property which that State was not ready to meet. If it was a question of dollars and cents, they came here to adjust it. If it was a question of covering an interior State, their interests were identical. In whatever way the question could have been presented, the consequence would have been to relieve the Government of the charge of maintaining the fort, and to throw it upon the State which had resolved to be independent.

Thus we see that no evil could have resulted. We have yet to learn what evil the opposite policy may bring. Telegraphic intelligence, by the man who occupied the seat on the right of me in the old Chamber, was never relied on. He was the wisest statesman I ever knew—a man whose prophetic vision foretold all the trials through which we are now passing; whose clear intellect, elaborating everything, borrowing nothing from anybody, seemed to dive into the future, and to unveil those things which are hidden to other eyes. Need I say I mean Calhoun? No other man than he would have answered this description. I say, then, not relying upon telegraphic dispatches, we still have information enough to notify us that we are on the verge of civil war; that civil war is in the hands of men irresponsible, as it seems to us; their acts unknown to us; their discretion not covered by any existing law or usage; and we now have the responsibility thrown upon us, which justifies us in demanding information to meet an emergency in which the country is involved.

Is there any point of pride which prevents us from withdrawing that garrison? I have heard it said by a gallant gentleman, to whom I make no special reference, that the great objection was an unwillingness to lower the flag. To lower the flags! Under what circumstances? Does any man's courage impel him to stand boldly forth to take the life of his brethren? Does any man insist upon going upon the open field with deadly weapons to fight his brother on a question of courage? There is no point of pride. These are your brethren; and they have shed as much glory upon that flag as any equal number of men in the Union. They are the men, and that is the locality, where the first Union flag was unfurled, and where was fought a gallant battle before our independence was declared—not the flag with thirteen stripes and thirty-three stars, but a flag with a cross of St. George, and the long stripes running through it. When the gallant Moultrie took the British Fort Johnson and carried it, for the first time, I believe, did the Union flag fly in the air; and that was in October, 1775. When he took the position and threw up a temporary battery with palmetto-logs and sand, upon the site called Fort Moultrie, that fort was assailed by the British fleet, and bombarded until the old logs, clinging with stern tenacity, were filled with balls, but the flag still floated there, and, though many bled, the garrison conquered. Those old logs are gone; the eroding current is even taking away the site where Fort Moultrie stood; the gallant men who held it now mingle with the earth; but their memories live in the hearts of a brave people, and their sons yet live, and they, like their fathers, are ready to bleed and to die for the cause in which their fathers triumphed. Glorious are the memories clinging around that old fort which now, for the first time, has been abandoned—abandoned not even in the presence of a foe, but under the imaginings that a foe might come; and guns spiked and carriages burned where the band of Moultrie bled, and, with an insufficient armament, repelled the common foe of all the colonies. Her ancient history compares proudly with the present.

Can there, then, be a point of pride upon so sacred a soil as this, where the blood of the fathers cries to heaven against civil war? Can there be a point of pride against laying upon that sacred soil to-day the flag for which our fathers died? My pride, Senators, is different. My pride is that that flag shall not set between contending brothers; and that, when it shall no longer be the common flag of the country, it shall be folded up and laid away like a vesture no longer used; that it shall be kept as a sacred memento of the past, to which each of us can make a pilgrimage and remember the glorious days in which we were born.

In the answer of the commissioners which I caused to be read yesterday, I observed that they referred to Fort Sumter as remaining a memento of Carolina faith. It is an instance of the accuracy of the opinion which I have expressed. It stood without a garrison. It commanded the harbor, and the fort was known to have the armament in it capable of defense. Did the Carolinians attack it? Did they propose to seize it? It stood there safe as public property; and there it might have stood to the end of the negotiations without a question, if a garrison had not been sent into it. It was the faith on which they relied, that the Federal Government would take no position of hostility to them, that constituted its safety, and by which they lost the advantage they would have had in seizing it when unoccupied.

I think that something is due to faith as well as fraternity; and I think one of the increasing and accumulative obligations upon us to withdraw the garrison from that fort is from the manner in which it was taken—taken, as we heard by the reading of the paper yesterday, while Carolina remained under the assurance that the status would not be violated; while I was under that assurance, and half a dozen other Senators now within the sound of my voice felt secure under the same pledge, that nothing would be done until negotiations had terminated, unless it was to withdraw the garrison. Then we, the Federal Government, broke the faith; we committed the first act of hostility; and from this first act of hostility arose all those acts to which reference is made in the message as unprovoked aggressions—the seizing of forts elsewhere. Why were they seized? Self-preservation is the first law of nature; and when they no longer had confidence that this Federal Government would not seize the forts constructed for their defense, and use them for their destruction, they only obeyed the dictates of self-preservation when they seized the forts to prevent the enemy from taking possession of them as a means of coercion, for they then were compelled to believe this Federal Government had become an enemy.

Now, what is the remedy? To assure them that you do not intend to use physical force against them is your first remedy; to assure them that you intend to consider calmly all the propositions which they make, and to recognize the rights which the Union was established to secure; that you intend to settle with them upon a basis in accordance with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. When you do that, peace will prevail over the land, and force become a thing that no man will consider necessary.

I am here confronted with a question which I will not argue. The position which I have taken necessarily brings me to its consideration. Without arguing it, I will merely state it. It is the right of a State to withdraw from the Union. The President says it is not a constitutional right. The Senator from Ohio [Mr. Wade], and his ally, the Senator from Tennessee [Mr. Johnson], argued it as no right at all. Well, let us see. What is meant by a constitutional right? Is it meant to be a right derived from the Constitution—a grant made in the Constitution? If that is what is meant, of course we all see at once that we do not derive it in that way. Is it intended that it is not a constitutional right, because it is not granted in the Constitution? That shows, indeed, but a poor appreciation of the nature of our Government. All that is not granted in the Constitution belongs to the States; and nothing but what is granted in the Constitution belongs to the Federal Government; and, keeping this distinction in view, it requires but little argument to see the conclusion at which we necessarily arrive. Did the States surrender their sovereignty to the Federal Government? Did the States agree that they never could withdraw from the Federal Union?

I know it has been argued here that the Confederation said the Articles of Confederation were to be a perpetual bond of union, and that the Constitution was made to form a more perfect union; that is to say, a Government beyond perpetuity, or one day, or two or three days, after doomsday. But that has no foundation in the Constitution itself; it has no basis in the nature of our Government. The Constitution was a compact between independent States; it was not a national Government; and hence Mr. Madison answered with such effectiveness to Patrick Henry, in the Convention of Virginia, which ratified the Constitution, denying his proposition that it was to form a nation, and stating to him the conclusive fact that "we sit here as a convention of the State to ratify or reject that Constitution; and how, then, can you say that it forms a nation, and is adopted by the mass of the people?" It was not adopted by the mass of the people, as we all know historically; it was adopted by each State; each State, voluntarily ratifying it, entered the Union; and that Union was formed whenever nine States should enter it; and, in abundance of caution, it was stated, in the resolutions of ratification of three of the States, that they still possessed the power to withdraw the grants which they had delegated, whenever they should be used to their injury or oppression. I know it is said that this meant the people of all the States; but that is such an absurdity that I suppose it hardly necessary to answer it—for to speak of an elective Government rendering itself injurious and oppressive to the whole body of the people by whom it is elected is such an absurdity that no man can believe it; and to suppose that a State convention, speaking for a State, and having no authority to speak for anybody else, would say that it was declaring what the people of the other States would do, would be an assumption altogether derogatory to the sound sense and well-known sentiments of the men who formed the Constitution and ratified it.

But in abundance of caution not only was this done, but the tenth amendment of the Constitution declared that all which had not been delegated was reserved to the States or to the people. Now, I ask, where among the delegated grants to the Federal Government do you find any power to coerce a State; where among the provisions of the Constitution do you find any prohibition on the part of a State to withdraw; and, if you find neither one nor the other, must not this power be in that great depository, the reserved rights of the States? How was it ever taken out of that source of all power to be given to the Federal Government? It was not delegated to the Federal Government; it was not prohibited to the States; it necessarily remains, then, among the reserved powers of the States.

This question has been so forcibly argued by the Senator from Louisiana [Mr. Benjamin] that I think it unnecessary to pursue it. Three times the proposition was made to give power to coerce the States, in the Convention, and as often refused—opposed as a proposition to make war on a State, and refused on the ground that the Federal Government could not make war upon a State. The Constitution was to form a Government for such States as should unite; it had no application beyond those who should voluntarily adopt it. Among the delegated powers there is none which interferes with the exercise of the right of secession by a State. As a right of sovereignty it remained to the States under the Confederation; and, if it did not, you arraign the faith of the men who framed the Constitution to which you appeal, for they provided that nine States should secede from thirteen. Eleven did secede from the thirteen, and put themselves in the very position which, by a great abuse of language, is to-day called treason, against the two States of North Carolina and Rhode Island; they still claiming to adhere to the perpetual Articles of Confederation, these eleven States absolving themselves from the obligations which arose under them.

The Senator from Tennessee, to whom I must refer again—and I do so because he is a Southern Senator—taking the most hostile ground against us, refers to the State of Tennessee, and points to the time when that State may do those things which he has declared it an absurdity for any State to perform. I will read a single paragraph from his speech, showing what his language is, in order that I may not, by any possibility, produce an impression upon others which his language does not justify. Here are the expressions to which I refer. I call the Senator's attention to them:

"If there are grievances, why can not we all go together, and write them down and point them out to our Northern friends after we have agreed on what those grievances were, and say: 'Here is what we demand; here our wrongs are enumerated; upon these terms we have agreed; and now, after we have given you a reasonable time to consider these additional guarantees in order to protect ourselves against these wrongs, if you refuse them, then, having made an honorable effort, having exhausted all other means, we may declare the association to be broken up, and we may go into an act of revolution.' We can then say to them, 'You have refused to give us guarantees that we think are needed for the protection of our institutions and for the protection of our other interests.' When they do this, I will go as far as he who goes the farthest."

Now, it does appear that he will go that far; and he goes a little further than anybody, I believe, who has spoken in vindication of the right, for he says:

"We do not intend that you shall drive us out of this House that was reared by the hands of our fathers. It is our House. It is the constitutional House. We have a right here; and because you come forward and violate the ordinances of this House, I do not intend to go out; and, if you persist in the violation of the ordinances of the House, we intend to eject you from the building and retain the possession ourselves."

I wonder if this is what caused the artillery companies to be ordered here, and the militia of this city to be organized? I think it was a mere figure of speech. I do not believe the Senator from Tennessee intended to kick you out of the House; and, if he did, let me say to you, in all sincerity, we who claim the constitutional right of a State to withdraw from the Union do not intend to help him. He says, however, and this softens it a little:

"We do not think, though, that we have just cause for going out of the Union now. We have just cause of complaint; but we are for remaining in the Union, and fighting the battle like men."

What does that mean? In the name of common sense, I ask how are we to fight in the Union? We take an oath of office to maintain the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution of the United States was formed for domestic tranquillity; and how, then, are we to fight in the Union? I have heard the proposition from others; but I have not understood it. I understand how men fight when they assume attitudes of hostility; but I do not understand how men, remaining connected together in a bond as brethren, sworn to mutual aid and protection, still propose to fight each other. I do not understand what the Senator means. If he chooses to answer my question, I am willing to hear him, for I do not understand how we are to fight in the Union.

Mr. Johnson, of Tennessee: When my speech is taken altogether, I think my meaning can be very easily understood. What I mean by fighting the battle in the Union is, I think, very distinctly and clearly set forth in my speech; and, if the Senator will take it from beginning to end, I apprehend that he will have no difficulty in ascertaining what I meant. But, for his gratification upon this particular point, I will repeat, in substance, what I then said as to fighting the battle in the Union. I meant that we should remain here under the Constitution of the United States and contend for all its guarantees; and by preserving the Constitution and all its guarantees we would preserve the Union. Our true place, to maintain these guarantees and to preserve the Constitution, is in the Union, there to fight our battle. How? By argument; by appeals to the patriotism, to the good sense, and to the judgment of the whole country; by showing the people that the Constitution had been violated; that all its guarantees were not complied with; and I have entertained the hope that, when they were possessed of that fact, there would be found patriotism and honesty enough in the great mass of the people, North and South, to come forward and do what was just and right between the contending sections of the country. I meant that the true way to fight the battle was for us to remain here and occupy the places assigned to us by the Constitution of the country. Why did I make that statement? It was because on the 4th day of March next we shall have six majority in this body; and if, as some apprehended, the incoming Administration shall show any disposition to make encroachments upon the institution of slavery, encroachments upon the rights of the States, or any other violation of the Constitution, we, by remaining in the Union, and standing at our places, will have the power to resist all these encroachments. How? We have the power even to reject the appointment of the Cabinet officers of the incoming President. Then, should we not be fighting the battles in the Union, by resisting even the organization of the Administration in a constitutional mode, and thus, at the very start, disable an Administration which was likely to encroach on our rights and to violate the Constitution of the country? So far as appointing even a Minister abroad is concerned, the incoming Administration will have no power without our consent, if we remain here. It comes into office handcuffed, powerless to do harm. We, standing here, hold the balance of power in our hands; we can resist it at the very threshold effectually; and do it inside of the Union, and in our House. The incoming Administration has not even the power to appoint a postmaster whose salary exceeds one thousand dollars a year, without consultation with and the acquiescence of the Senate of the United States. The President has not even the power to draw his salary—his twenty-five thousand dollars per annum—unless we appropriate it. I contend, then, that the true place to fight the battle is in the Union, and within the provisions of the Constitution. The army and navy cannot be sustained without appropriations by Congress; and, if we were apprehensive that encroachments would be made on the Southern States and on their institutions, in violation of the Constitution, we could prevent him from having a dollar even to feed his army or his navy.

Mr. Davis: I receive the answer from the Senator, and I think I comprehend now that he is not going to use any force, but it is a sort of fighting that is to be done by votes and words; and I think, therefore, the President need not bring artillery and order out the militia to suppress them. I think, altogether, we are not in danger of much bloodshed in the mode proposed by the Senator from Tennessee.

Mr. Johnson: I had not quite done; but if the Senator is satisfied—

Mr. Davis: Quite satisfied. I am entirely satisfied that the answer of the Senator shows me he did not intend to fight at all; that it was a mere figure of speech, and does not justify converting the Federal capital into a military camp. But it is a sort of revolution which he proposes; it is a revolution under the forms of the Government. Now, I have to say, once for all, that, as long as I am a Senator here, I will not use the powers I possess to destroy the very Government to which I am accredited. I will not attempt, in the language of the Senator, to handcuff the President. I will not attempt to destroy the Administration by refusing any officers to administer its functions. I should vote, as I have done in Administrations to which I stood in nearest relation, against a bad nomination; but I never would agree, under the forms of the Constitution, and with the powers I bear as a Senator of the United States, to turn those powers to the destruction of the Government I was sent to support. I leave that to gentlemen who take the oath with a mental reservation. It is not my policy. If I must have revolution, I say let it be a revolution such as our fathers made when they were denied their natural rights.

So much for that. It has quieted apprehension; and I hope that the artillery will not be brought here; that the militia will not be called out; and that the female schools will continue their sessions as heretofore. [Laughter.] The authority of Mr. Madison, however, was relied on by the Senator from Tennessee; and he read fairly an extract from Mr. Madison's letter to Mr. Webster, and I give him credit for reading what it seems to me destroys his whole argument. It is this clause:

"The powers of the Government being exercised, as in other elective and responsible governments, under the control of its constituents, the people, and the Legislatures of the States, and subject to the revolutionary rights of the people in extreme cases."

Now, sir, we are confusing language very much. Men speak of revolution; and when they say revolution they mean blood. Our fathers meant nothing of the sort. When they spoke of revolution they meant an unalienable right. When they declared as an unalienable right the power of the people to abrogate and modify their form of government whenever it did not answer the ends for which it was established, they did not mean that they were to sustain that by brute force. They meant that it was a right; and force could only be invoked when that right was wrongfully denied. Great Britain denied the right in the case of the colonies, and therefore our revolution for independence was bloody. If Great Britain had admitted the great American doctrine, there would have been no blood shed; and does it become the descendants of those who proclaimed this as the great principle on which they took their place among the nations of the earth, now to proclaim, if that is a right, it is one which you can only get as the subjects of the Emperor of Austria may get their rights, by force overcoming force? Are we, in this age of civilization and political progress, when political philosophy had advanced to the point which seemed to render it possible that the millennium should now be seen by prophetic eyes—are we now to roll back the whole current of human thought, and again to return to the mere brute force which prevails between beasts of prey, as the only method of settling questions between men?

If the Declaration of Independence be true (and who here gainsays it?), every community may dissolve its connection with any other community previously made, and have no other obligation than that which results from the breach of an alliance between States. Is it to be supposed; could any man, reasoning a priori, come to the conclusion that the men who fought the battles of the Revolution for community independence— that the men who struggled against the then greatest military power on the face of the globe in order that they might possess those unalienable rights which they had declared—terminated their great efforts by transmitting posterity to a condition in which they could only gain those rights by force? If so, the blood of the Revolution was shed in vain; no great principles were established; for force was the law of nature before the battles of the Revolution were fought.

I see, then—if gentlemen insist on using the word "revolution" in the sense of a resort to force—a very great difference between their opinion and that of Mr. Madison. Mr. Madison put the rights of the people over and above everything else, and he said this was the Government de jure and de facto. Call it by what name you will, he understood ours to be a Government of the people. The people never have separated themselves from those rights which our fathers had declared to be unalienable. They did not delegate to the Federal Government the powers which the British Crown exercised over the colonies; they did not achieve their independence for any purpose so low as that. They left us to the inheritance of freemen, living in independent communities, the States united for the purposes which they thought would bless posterity. It is in the exercise of this reserved right as defined by Mr. Madison, as one to which all the powers of Government are subject, that the people of a State in convention have claimed to resume the functions which in like manner they had made to the Federal Government....

The question which now presents itself to the country is, What shall we do with events as they stand? Shall we allow this separation to be total? Shall we render it peaceful, with a view to the chance that, when hunger shall brighten the intellects of men, and the teachings of hard experience shall have tamed them, they may come back, in the spirit of our fathers, to the task of reconstruction? Or will they have that separation partial; will they give to each State all its military power; will they give to each State its revenue power; will they still preserve the common agent, and will they thus carry on a Government different from that which now exists, yet not separating the States so entirely as to make the work of reconstruction equal to a new creation; not separating them so as to render it utterly impossible to administer any functions of the Government in security and peace?

I waive the question of duality, considering that a dual Executive would be the institution of a King Log. I consider a dual legislative department would be to bring into antagonism the representatives of two different countries, to war perpetually, and thus to continue, not union, but the irrepressible conflict. There is no duality possible (unless there be two confederacies) which seems to me consistent with the interests of either or of both. It might be that two confederacies could be so organized as to answer jointly many of the ends of our present Union; it might be that States, agreeing with each other in their internal policy—having a similarity of interests and an identity of purpose—might associate together, and that these two confederacies might have relations to each other so close as to give them a united power in time of war against any foreign nation. These things are possibilities; these things it becomes us to contemplate; these things it devolves on the majority section to consider now; for with every motion of that clock is passing away your opportunity. It was greater when we met on the first Monday in December than it is now; it is greater now than it will be on the first day of next week. We have waited long; we have come to the conclusion that you mean to do nothing. In the Committee of Thirteen, where the resolutions of the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Crittenden] were considered, various attempts were made, but no prospect of any agreement on which it was possible for us to stand, in security for the future, could be matured. I offered a proposition, which was but the declaration of that which the Constitution announces; but that which the Supreme Court had, from time to time, and from an early period asserted; but that which was necessary for equality in the Union. Not one single vote of the Republican portion of that committee was given for the proposition.

Looking, then, upon separation as inevitable, not knowing how that separation is to occur, or at least what States it is to embrace, there remains to us, I believe, as the consideration which is most useful, the inquiry, How can this separation be effected so as to leave to us the power, whenever we shall have the will, to reconstruct? It can only be done by adopting a policy of peace. It can only be done by denying to the Federal Government all power to coerce. It can only be done by returning to the point from which we started, and saying, "This is a Government of fraternity, a Government of consent, and it shall not be administered in a departure from those principles."

I do not regard the failure of our constitutional Union, as very many do, to be the failure of self-government—to be conclusive in all future time of the unfitness of man to govern himself. Our State governments have charge of nearly all the relations of person and property. This Federal Government was instituted mainly as a common agent for foreign purposes, for free trade among the States, and for common defense. Representative liberty will remain in the States after they are separated. Liberty was not crushed by the separation of the colonies from the mother-country, then the most constitutional monarchy and the freest Government known. Still less will liberty be destroyed by the separation of these States, to prevent the destruction of the spirit of the Constitution by the mal-administration of it. There will be injury—injury to all; differing in degree, differing in manner. The injury to the manufacturing and navigating States will be to their internal prosperity. The injury to the Southern States will be mainly to their foreign commerce. All will feel the deprivation of that high pride and power which belong to the flag now representing the greatest republic, if not the greatest Government, upon the face of the globe. I would that it still remained to consider what we might calmly have considered on the first Monday in December—how this could be avoided; but events have rolled past that point. You would not make propositions when they would have been effective. I presume you will not make them now; and I know not what effect they would have if you did. Your propositions would have been most welcome if they had been made before any question of coercion, and before any vain boasting of power; for pride and passion do not often take counsel of pecuniary interest, at least among those whom I represent. But you have chosen to take the policy of clinging to words [the Chicago platform], in disregard of passing events, and have hastened them onward. It is true, as shown by the history of all revolutions, that they are most precipitated and intensified by obstinacy and vacillation. The want of a policy, the obstinate adherence to unimportant things, have brought us to a condition where I close my eyes, because I can not see anything that encourages me to hope.

In the long period which elapsed after the downfall of the great republics of the East, when despotism seemed to brood over the civilized world, and only here and there constitutional monarchy even was able to rear its head—when all the great principles of republican and representative government had sunk deep, fathomless, into the sea of human events—it was then that the storm of our Revolution moved the waters. The earth, the air, and the sea became brilliant; and from the foam of ages rose the constellation which was set in the political firmament, as a sign of unity and confederation and community independence, coexistent with confederate strength. That constellation has served to bless our people. Nay, more; its light has been thrown on foreign lands, and its regenerative power will outlive, perhaps, the Government as a sign for which it was set. It may be pardoned to me, sir, who, in my boyhood, was given to the military service, and who have followed, under tropical suns and over northern snows, the flag of the Union, if I here express the deep sorrow which always overwhelms me when I think of taking a last leave of that object of early affection and proud association; feeling that henceforth it is not to be the banner which, by day and by night, I was ready to follow; to hail with the rising and bless with the setting sun. But God, who knows the hearts of men, will judge between you and us, at whose door lies the responsibility. Men will see the efforts made, here and elsewhere; that we have been silent when words would not avail, and have curbed an impatient temper, and hoped that conciliatory counsels might do that which could not be effected by harsh means. And yet, the only response which has come from the other side has been a stolid indifference, as though it mattered not: "Let the temple fall, we do not care!" Sirs, remember that such conduct is offensive, and that men may become indifferent even to the objects of their early attachments.

If our Government should fail, it will not be from the defect of the system, though each planet was set to revolve in an orbit of its own, each moving by its own impulse, yet being all attracted by the affections and interests which countervailed each other; there was no inherent tendency to disruption. It has been the perversion of the Constitution; it has been the substitution of theories of morals for principles of government; it has been forcing crude opinions upon the domestic institutions of others, which has disturbed these planets in their orbit; it is this which threatens to destroy the constellation which, in its power and its glory, had been gathering stars one after another, until, from thirteen, it had risen to thirty-three.

If we accept the argument of to-day in favor of coercion as the theory of our Government, its only effect will be to precipitate men who have pride and self-reliance into the assertion of the freedom and independence to which they were born. Our fathers would never have entered into a confederate Government which had within itself the power of coercion; they would not agree to remain one day in such a Government after I had the power to get out of it. To argue that the man who follows the mandate of his State, resuming her sovereign jurisdiction and power, is disloyal to his allegiance to the United States, which allegiance he only owed through his State, is such a confusion of ideas as does not belong to an ordinary comprehension of our Government. It is treason to the principle of community independence. It is to recur to that doctrine of passive obedience which, in England, cost one monarch his head and drove another into exile; a doctrine which, since the Revolution of 1688, has obtained nowhere where men speak the English tongue. Yet all this it is needful to admit, before we accept this doctrine of coercion, which is to send an army and a navy to do that which there are no courts to perform; to execute the law without a judicial decision, and without an officer to serve process. This, I say, would degrade us to the basest despotism under which man could live—the despotism of a many-headed monster, without the sensibility or regardful consideration which might belong to an hereditary king.[207]

* * * * *

There is a strange similarity in the position of affairs at the present day to that which the colonies occupied. Lord North asserted the right to collect the revenue, and insisted on collecting it by force. He sent troops to Boston Harbor and to Charlestown, and he quartered troops in those towns. The result was, collision; and out of that collision came the separation of the colonies from the mother-country. The same thing is being attempted to-day. Not the law, not the civil magistrate, but troops, are relied upon now to execute the laws. To gather taxes in the Southern ports, the army and navy must be sent to perform the functions of magistrates. It is the old case over again. Senators of the North, you are reenacting the blunders which statesmen in Great Britain committed; but among you there are some who, like Chatham and Burke, though not of our section, yet are vindicating our rights.

I have heard, with some surprise, for it seemed to me idle, the repetition of the assertion heretofore made, that the cause of the separation was the election of Mr. Lincoln. It may be a source of gratification to some gentlemen that their friend is elected; but no individual had the power to produce the existing state of things. It was the purpose, the end, it was the declaration by himself and his friends, which constitute the necessity of providing new safeguards for ourselves. The man was nothing, save as he was the representative of opinions, of a policy, of purposes, of power, to inflict upon us those wrongs to which freemen never tamely submit.

Senators, I have spoken longer than I desired. I had supposed it was possible, avoiding argument and not citing authority, to have made to you a brief address. It was thought useless to argue a question which now belongs to the past. The time is near at hand when the places which have known us as colleagues laboring together can know us in that relation no more for ever. I have striven to avert the catastrophe which now impends over the country, unsuccessfully; and I regret it. For the few days which I may remain, I am willing to labor in order that that catastrophe shall be as little as possible destructive to public peace and prosperity. If you desire at this last moment to avert civil war, so be it; it is better so. If you will but allow us to separate from you peaceably, since we can not live peaceably together, to leave with the rights we had before we were united, since we can not enjoy them in the Union, then there are many relations which may still subsist between us, drawn from the associations of our struggles from the Revolutionary era to the present day, which may be beneficial to you as well as to us.

If you will not have it thus—if in the pride of power, if in contempt of reason, and reliance upon force, you say we shall not go, but shall remain as subjects to you—then, gentlemen of the North, a war is to be inaugurated the like of which men have not seen. Sufficiently numerous on both sides, in close contact, with only imaginary lines of division, and with many means of approach, each sustained by productive sections, the people of which will give freely both of money and of store, the conflicts must be multiplied indefinitely, and masses of men, sacrificed to the demon of civil war, will furnish hecatombs, such as the recent campaign in Italy did not offer. At the end of all this what will you have effected? Destruction upon both sides; subjugation upon neither; a treaty of peace leaving both torn and bleeding; the wail of the widow and the cry of the orphan substituted for those peaceful notes of domestic happiness that now prevail throughout the land; and then you will agree that each is to pursue his separate course as best he may. This is to be the end of war. Through a long series of years you may waste your strength, distress your people, and yet at last must come to the position which you might have had at first, had justice and reason, instead of selfishness and passion, folly and crime, dictated your course.

Is there wisdom, is there patriotism in the land? If so, easy must be the solution of this question. If not, then Mississippi's gallant sons will stand like a wall of fire around their State; and I go hence, not in hostility to you, but in love and allegiance to her, to take my place among her sons, be it for good or for evil.

I shall probably never again attempt to utter here the language either of warning or of argument. I leave the case in your hands. If you solve it not before I go, you will have still to decide it. Toward you individually, as well as to those whom you represent, I would that I had the power now to say there shall be peace between us for ever. I would that I had the power now to say the intercourse and the commerce between the States, if they can not live in one Union, shall still be uninterrupted; that all the social relations shall remain undisturbed; that the son in Mississippi shall visit freely his father in Maine, and the reverse; and that each shall be welcomed when he goes to the other, not by himself alone, but also by his neighbors; and that all that kindly intercourse which has subsisted between the different sections of the Union shall continue to exist. This is not only for the interest of all, but it is my profoundest wish, my sincerest desire, that such remnant of that which is passing away may grace the memory of a glorious though too brief existence.

Day by day you have become more and more exasperated. False reports have led you to suppose there was in our section hostility to you with manifestations which did not exist. In one case, I well remember when the Senator from Vermont [Mr. Collamer] was serving with me on a special committee, it was reported that a gentleman who had gone from a commercial house in New York had been inhumanly treated at Vicksburg, and this embarrassed a question which we then had pending. I wrote to Vicksburg for information, and my friends could not learn that such a man had ever been there; but, if he had been there, no violence certainly had been offered to him. Falsehood and suspicion have thus led you on step by step in the career of crimination, and perhaps has induced to some part of your aggression. Such evil effects we have heretofore suffered, and the consequences now have their fatal culmination. On the verge of war, distrust and passion increase the danger. To-day it is in the power of two bad men, at the opposite ends of the telegraphic line between Washington and Charleston, to precipitate the State of South Carolina and the United States into a conflict of arms without other cause to have produced it.

And still will you hesitate; still will you do nothing? Will you sit with sublime indifference and allow events to shape themselves? No longer can you say the responsibility is upon the Executive. He has thrown it upon you. He has notified you that he can do nothing; and you therefore know he will do nothing. He has told you the responsibility now rests with Congress; and I close as I began, by invoking you to meet that responsibility, bravely to act the patriot's part. If you will, the angel of peace may spread her wings, though it be over divided States; and the sons of the sires of the Revolution may still go on in friendly intercourse with each other, ever renewing the memories of a common origin; the sections, by the diversity of their products and habits, acting and reacting beneficially, the commerce of each may swell the prosperity of both, and the happiness of all be still interwoven together. Thus may it be; and thus it is in your power to make it.

[Footnote 207: Here occurred a colloquy with another Senator, followed by some paragraphs not essential to the completeness of the subject.]


Correspondence and extracts from correspondence relative to Fort Sumter, from the affair of the Star of the West, January 9, 1861, to the withdrawal of the envoy of South Carolina from Washington, February 8, 1861.

_Major Anderson to the Governor of South Carolina.

To his Excellency the Governor of South Carolina._

Sir: Two of your batteries fired this morning upon an unarmed vessel bearing the flag of my Government. As I have not been notified that war has been declared by South Carolina against the Government of the United States, I can not but think that this hostile act was committed without your sanction or authority. Under that hope, and that alone, did I refrain from opening fire upon your batteries.

I have the honor, therefore, respectfully to ask whether the above-mentioned act—one I believe without a parallel in the history of our country, or of any other civilized Government—was committed in obedience to your instructions, and to notify you, if it be not disclaimed, that I must regard it as an act of war, and that I shall not, after a reasonable time for the return of my messenger, permit any vessels to pass within range of the guns of my fort.

In order to save as far as in my power the shedding of blood, I beg that you will have due notification of this my decision given to all concerned.

Hoping, however, that your answer may be such as will justify a further continuance of forbearance on my part, I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major First Artillery U. S. A., commanding.

Fort Sumter, South Carolina, January 9, 1861.

Extracts from reply of the Governor to Major Anderson.

State of South Carolina, Executive Office, Headquarters,

Charleston, January 9, 1861.

Sir: Your letter has been received. In it you make certain statements which very plainly show that you have not been fully informed by your Government of the precise relations which now exist between it and the State of South Carolina. Official information has been communicated to the Government of the United States that the political connection heretofore existing between the State of South Carolina and the States which were known as the United States had ceased, and that the State of South Carolina had resumed all the power it had delegated to the United States under the compact known as the Constitution of the United States. The right which the State of South Carolina possessed to change the political relations it held with other States, under the Constitution of the United States, has been solemnly asserted by the people of this State, in convention, and now does not admit of discussion.

* * * * *

The attempt to reenforce the troops now at Fort Sumter, or to retake and resume possession of the forts within the waters of this State, which you have abandoned, after spiking the guns placed there, and doing otherwise much damage, can not be regarded by the authorities of this State as indicative of any other purpose than the coercion of the State by the armed force of the Government. To repel such an attempt is too plainly its duty to allow it to be discussed. But, while defending its waters, the authorities of the State have been careful so to conduct the affairs of the State that no act, however necessary for its defense, should lead to a useless waste of life. Special agents, therefore, have been off the bar, to warn all approaching vessels, if armed, or unarmed and having troops to reenforce the forts on board, not to enter the harbor of Charleston; and special orders have been given to the commanders of all the forts and batteries not to fire at such vessels until a shot fired across their bows would warn them of the prohibition of the State.

Under these circumstances, the Star of the West, it is understood, this morning attempted to enter this harbor, with troops on board; and, having been notified that she could not enter, was fired into. The act is perfectly justified by me.

In regard to your threat in relation to vessels in the harbor, it is only necessary to say, that you must judge of your responsibilities. Your position in this harbor has been tolerated by the authorities of the State. And, while the act of which you complain is in perfect consistency with the rights and duties of the State, it is not perceived how far the conduct which you propose to adopt can find a parallel in the history of any country, or be reconciled with any other purpose of your Government than that of imposing upon this State the condition of a conquered province.


To Major Robert Anderson, commanding Fort Sumter.

Major Anderson to the Governor.

Headquarters, Fort Sumter, South Carolina, January 9, 1861.

To his Excellency F. W. PICKENS,

Governor of the State of South Carolina.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of to-day, and to say that, under the circumstances, I have deemed it proper to refer the whole matter to my Government; and that I intend deferring the course indicated in my note of this morning until the arrival from Washington of the instructions I may receive. I have the honor also to express a hope that no obstructions will be placed in the way of, and that you will do me the favor to afford every facility to, the departure and return of the bearer, Lieutenant T. Talbot, U. S. Army, who has been directed to make the journey.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,


Major U. S. Army, commanding.

The Governor to the President of the United States.

State of South Carolina, Executive Office,

Headquarters, Charleston, January 11, 1861.

Sir: At the time of the separation of the State of South Carolina from the United States, Fort Sumter was, and still is, in the possession of troops of the United States, under the command of Major Anderson. I regard that possession as not consistent with the dignity or safety of the State of South Carolina; and I have this day addressed to Major Anderson a communication to obtain from him the possession of that fort, by the authorities of this State. The reply of Major Anderson informs me that he has no authority to do what I required, but he desires a reference of the demand to the President of the United States.

Under the circumstances now existing, and which need no comment by me, I have determined to send to you the Hon. I. W. Hayne, the Attorney-General of the State of South Carolina, and have instructed him to demand the delivery of Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, to the constituted authorities of the State of South Carolina.

The demand I have made of Major Anderson, and which I now make of you, is suggested because of my earnest desire to avoid the bloodshed which a persistence in your attempt to retain the possession of that fort will cause, and which will be unavailing to secure you that possession, but induce a calamity most deeply to be deplored.

If consequences so unhappy shall ensue, I will secure for this State, in the demand which I now make, the satisfaction of having exhausted every attempt to avoid it.

In relation to the public property of the United States within Fort Sumter, the Hon. I. W. Hayne, who will hand you this communication, is authorized to give you the pledge of the State that the valuation of such property will be accounted for, by this State, upon the adjustment of its relations with the United States, of which it was a part.


To the President of the United States.

Extracts from instructions of the State Department of South Carolina to Hon. I. W. Hayne.

State of South Carolina, Executive Office,

State Department, Charleston, January 12, 1861.

Sir: The Governor has considered it proper, in view of the grave questions which now affect the State of South Carolina and the United States, to make a demand upon the President of the United States for the delivery to the State of South Carolina of Fort Sumter, now within the territorial limits of this Sate and occupied by troops of the United States.

* * * * *

You are now instructed to proceed to Washington, and there, in the name of the government of the State of South Carolina, inquire of the President of the United States whether it was by his order that troops of the United States were sent into the harbor of Charleston to reenforce Fort Sumter; if he avows that order, you will then inquire whether he asserts a right to introduce troops of the United States within the limits of this State, to occupy Fort Sumter; and you will, in case of his avowal, inform him that neither will be permitted, and either will be regarded as his declaration of war against the State of South Carolina.

The Governor, to save life, and determined to omit no course of proceeding usual among civilized nations, previous to that condition of general hostilities which belongs to war, and not knowing under what order, or by what authority, Fort Sumter is now held, demanded from Major Robert Anderson, now in command of that fort, its delivery to the State. That officer, in his reply, has referred the Governor to the Government of the United States at Washington. You will, therefore, demand from the President of the United States the withdrawal of the troops of the United States from that fort, and its delivery to the State of South Carolina.

You are instructed not to allow any question of property claimed by the United States to embarrass the assertion of the political right of the State of South Carolina to the possession of Fort Sumter. The possession of that fort by the State is alone consistent with the dignity and safety of the State of South Carolina; but such possession is not inconsistent with a right to compensation in money in another Government, if it has against the State of South Carolina any just claim connected with that fort. But the possession of the fort can not, in regard to the State of South Carolina, be compensated by any consideration of any kind from the Government of the United States, when the possession of it by the Government is invasive of the dignity and affects the safety of the State. That possession can not become now a matter of discussion or negotiation. You will, therefore, require from the President of the United States a positive and distinct answer to your demand for the delivery of the fort. And you are further authorized to give the pledge of the State to adjust all matters which may be, and are in their nature, susceptible of valuation in money, in the manner most usual, and upon the principles of equity and justice always recognized by independent nations, for the ascertainment of their relative rights and obligations in such matters....

Respectfully, your obedient servant, A. G. MAGRATH.

To Hon. W. Hayne, special envoy from the State of South Carolina to the President of the United States.

Letter of Senators of seceding States to Hon. I. W. Hayne.

Washington City, January 15, 1861.

Hon. Isaac W. Hayne.

Sir: We are apprised that you visit Washington, as an envoy from the State of South Carolina, bearing a communication from the Governor of your State to the President of the United States, in relation to Fort Sumter. Without knowing its contents, we venture to request you to defer its delivery to the President for a few days, or until you and he have considered the suggestions which we beg leave to submit.

We know that the possession of Fort Sumter by troops of the United States, coupled with the circumstances under which it was taken, is the chief, if not only, source of difficulty between the government of South Carolina and that of the United States. We would add that we, too, think it a just cause of irritation and of apprehension on the part of your State. But we have also assurances, notwithstanding the circumstances under which Major Anderson left Fort Moultrie and entered Fort Sumter with the forces under his command, that it was not taken, and is not held, with any hostile or unfriendly purpose toward your State, but merely as property of the United States, which the President deems it his duty to protect and preserve.

We will not discuss the question of right or duty on the part of either Government touching that property, or the late acts of either in relation thereto; but we think that, without any compromise of right or breach of duty on either side, an amicable adjustment of the matter of differences may and should be adopted. We desire to see such an adjustment, and to prevent war or the shedding of blood. We represent States which have already seceded from the United States, or will have done so before the 1st of February next, and which will meet your State in convention on or before the 15th of that month. Our people feel that they have a common destiny with your people, and expect to form with them, in that Convention, a new Confederation and Provisional Government. We must and will share your fortunes, suffering with you the evils of war if it can not be avoided; and enjoying with you the blessings of peace, if it can be preserved. We, therefore, think it especially due from South Carolina to our States—to say nothing of other slaveholding States—that she should, as far as she can, consistently with her honor, avoid initiating hostilities between her and the United States or any other power. We have the public declaration of the President that he has not the constitutional power or the will to make war on South Carolina, and that the public peace shall not be disturbed by any act of hostility toward your State.

We, therefore, see no reason why there may not be a settlement of existing difficulties, if time be given for calm and deliberate counsel with those States which are equally involved with South Carolina. We, therefore, trust that an arrangement will be agreed on between you and the President, at least till the 15th of February next; by which time your and our States may, in convention, devise a wise, just, and peaceable solution of existing difficulties.

In the mean time, we think your State should suffer Major Anderson to obtain necessary supplies of food, fuel, or water, and enjoy free communication, by post or special messenger, with the President; upon the understanding that the President will not send him reenforcements during the same period. We propose to submit this proposition and your answer to the President.

If not clothed with power to make such arrangement, then we trust that you will submit our suggestions to the Governor of your State for his instructions. Until you have received and communicated his response to the President, of course your State will not attack Fort Sumter, and the President will not offer to reenforce it.

We most respectfully submit these propositions, in the earnest hope that you, or the proper authority of your State, may accede to them.

We have the honor to be, with profound esteem,

Your obedient servants,


Letter of Hon. I. W. Hayne in reply to Senators from seceding States.

Washington, January, 1861.

Gentlemen: I have just received your communication, dated the 15th instant. You represent, you say, States which have already seceded from the United States, or will have done so before the 1st of February next, and which will meet South Carolina in convention, on or before the 15th of that month; that your people feel they have a common destiny with our people, and expect to form with them in that Convention a new Confederacy and Provisional Government; that you must and will share our fortunes, suffering with us the evils of war, if it can not be avoided, and enjoying with us the blessings of peace, if it can be preserved.

I feel, gentlemen, the force of this appeal, and, so far as my authority extends, most cheerfully comply with your request.

I am not clothed with power to make the arrangements you suggest, but provided you can get assurances, with which you are entirely satisfied, that no reenforcements will be sent to Fort Sumter in the interval, and that public peace shall not be disturbed by any act of hostility toward South Carolina, I will refer your communication to the authorities of South Carolina, and, withholding their communication, with which I am at present charged, will wait for their instructions.

Major Anderson and his command, let me assure you, do now obtain all necessary supplies of food (including fresh meat and vegetables), and, I believe, fuel and water; and do now enjoy free communication, by post and special messengers, with the President, and will continue to do so, certainly, until the door of negotiation shall be closed.

If your proposition is acceded to, you may assure the President that no attack will be made on Fort Sumter until a response from the Governor of South Carolina has been received by me, and communicated to him.

With great consideration and profound esteem, Your obedient servant, ISAAC W. HAYNE, Envoy from the Governor and Council of South Carolina.

Letter of Senators of seceding States to the President.

Senate-Chamber, January 19, 1861.

Sir: We have been requested to present to you copies of a correspondence between certain Senators of the United States and Colonel Isaac W. Hayne, now in this city, in behalf of the government of South Carolina, and to ask that you will take into consideration the subject of said correspondence. Very respectfully, your obedient servants,

BENJAMIN FITZPATRICK, S. R. MALLORY, JOHN SLIDELL. To his Excellency James Buchanan, President United States.

To the letter above, an evasive reply was returned on the 22d by the Hon. Joseph Holt, Secretary of War ad interim, on behalf of the President, the material points of which are contained in the following paragraph:

In regard to the proposition of Colonel Hayne, that "no reenforcements will be sent to Fort Sumter in the interval, and that the public peace will not be disturbed by any act of hostility toward South Carolina," it is impossible for me to give you any such assurances. The President has no authority to enter into such an agreement or understanding. As an executive officer, he is simply bound to protect the public property, so far as this may be practicable; and it would be a manifest violation of his duty to place himself under engagements that he would not perform this duty either for an indefinite or limited period. At the present moment it is not deemed necessary to reenforce Major Anderson, because he makes no such request, and feels quite secure in his position. Should his safety, however, require reenforcements, every effort will be made to supply them.

Mr. Holt concludes his letter by saying:

Major Anderson is not menacing Charleston; and I am convinced that the happiest result which can be attained is, that both he and the authorities of South Carolina shall remain on their present amicable footing, neither party being bound by any obligations whatever, except the high Christian and moral duty to keep the peace, and to avoid all causes of mutual irritation. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. HOLT, Secretary of War ad interim.

Letter of Senators of seceding States to Hon. I. W. Hayne.

Hon. Isaac W. Hayne. Washington, January 23, 1861.

Sir: In answer to your letter of the 17th inst. we have now to inform you that, after communicating with the President, we have received a letter signed by the Secretary of War, and addressed to Messrs. Fitzpatrick, Mallory, and Slidell, on the subject of our proposition, which letter we now inclose to you. Although its terms are not as satisfactory as we could have desired, in relation to the ulterior purposes of the Executive, we have no hesitation in expressing our entire confidence that no reenforcements will be sent to Fort Sumter, nor will the public peace be disturbed within the period requisite for full communication between yourself and your government; and we trust, therefore, that you will feel justified in applying for further instructions before delivering to the President any message with which you may have been charged.

We take this occasion to renew the expression of an earnest hope that South Carolina will not deem it incompatible with her safety, dignity; or honor to refrain from initiating any hostilities against any power whatsoever, or from taking any steps tending to produce collision, until our States, which are to share her fortunes, shall have an opportunity of joining their counsels with hers.

We are, with great respect, your obedient servants,


P.S.—Some of the signatures to the former letter addressed to you are not affixed to the foregoing communication, in consequence of the departure of several Senators, now on their way to their respective States.

Letter of Hon. I. W. Hayne to Senators of seceding States.

To the Honorable Louis T. Wigfall, D. L. Yulee, J. P. Benjamin, A. Iverson, John Hemphill, John Slidell, and C. C. Clay, Jr.

Gentlemen: I have received your letter of the 23d inst., inclosing a communication dated the 22d inst., addressed to Messrs. Fitzpatrick, Mallory, and Slidell, from the Secretary of War ad interim. This communication from the Secretary is far from being satisfactory to me. But, inasmuch as you state that "we (you) have no hesitation in expressing an entire confidence that no reenforcement will be sent to Fort Sumter, nor will the public peace be disturbed within the period requisite for full communication between yourself (myself) and your (my) Government," in compliance with our previous understanding, I withhold the communication with which I am at present charged, and refer the whole matter to the authorities of South Carolina, and will await their reply.

Mr. Gourdin, of South Carolina, now in this city, will leave here by the evening's train, and will lay before the Governor of South Carolina and his Council the whole correspondence between yourselves and myself, and between you and the Government of the United States, with a communication from me, asking further instructions.

I can not, in closing, but express my deep regret that the President should deem it necessary to keep a garrison of troops at Fort Sumter for the protection of the "property" of the United States. South Carolina scorns the idea of appropriating to herself the property of another, whether of a government or an individual, without accounting, to the last dollar, for everything which, for the protection of her citizens and in vindication of her own honor and dignity, she may deem it necessary to take into her own possession. As property, Fort Sumter is in far greater jeopardy occupied by a garrison of United States troops than it would be if delivered over to the State authorities, with the pledge that, in regard to that and all other property claimed by the United States within the jurisdiction of South Carolina, they would fully account, upon a fair adjustment.

Upon the other point of the preservation of the peace, and the avoidance of bloodshed—is it supposed that the occupation of a fort in the midst of a harbor, with guns bearing upon every position of it, by a Government no longer acknowledged, can be other than the occasion of constant irritation, excitement, and indignation? It creates a condition of things which I fear is but little calculated to advance the observance of the "high Christian and moral duty to keep the peace, and to avoid all causes of mutual irritation," recommended by the Secretary of War in his communication.

In my judgment, to continue to hold Fort Sumter, by United States troops, is the worst possible means of protecting it as property, and the worst possible means for effecting a peaceful solution of present difficulties.

I beg leave, in conclusion, to say that it is in deference to the unanimous opinion expressed by the Senators present in Washington, "representing States which have already seceded from the United States, or will have done so before the 1st of February next," that I comply with your suggestions. And I feel assured that suggestions from such a quarter will be considered with profound respect by the authorities of South Carolina, and will have great weight in determining their action.

With high consideration, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Envoy from the Governor and Council of South Carolina.

Mr. Hayne to the President of the United States.

Washington, January 31, 1861.

To his Excellency James Buchanan, President.

Sir: I had the honor to hold a short interview with you on the 14th inst., informal and unofficial. Having previously been informed that you desired that whatever was official should be, on both sides, conducted by written communications, I did not at that time present my credentials, but verbally informed you that I bore a letter from the Governor of South Carolina in regard to the occupation of Fort Sumter, which I would deliver the next day under cover of a written communication from myself. The next day, before such communication could be made, I was waited upon by a Senator from Alabama, who stated that he came on the part of all the Senators then in Washington from the States which had already seceded from the United States, or would certainly have done so before the 1st day of February next. The Senator from Alabama urged that he and they were interested in the subject of my mission in almost an equal degree with the authorities of South Carolina. He said that hostilities commenced between South Carolina and your Government would necessarily involve the States represented by themselves in civil strife, and, fearing that the action of South Carolina might complicate the relations of your Government to the seceded and seceding States, and thereby interfere with a peaceful solution of existing difficulties, these Senators requested that I would withhold my message to yourself until a consultation among themselves could be had. To this I agreed, and the result of the consultation was the letter of these Senators addressed to me, dated 15th January, a copy of which is in your possession. To this letter I replied on the 17th, and a copy of that reply is likewise in your possession. This correspondence, as I am informed, was made the subject of a communication from Senators Fitzpatrick, Mallory, and Slidell, addressed to you, and your attention called to the contents. These gentlemen received on the 22d day of January a reply to their application, conveyed in a letter addressed to them, dated the 22d, signed by the Hon. J. Holt, Secretary of War ad interim. Of this letter you of course have a copy. This letter from Mr. Holt was communicated to me under the cover of a letter from all the Senators of the seceded and seceding States, who still remained in Washington; and of this letter, too, I am informed you have been furnished with a copy.

This reply of yours through the Secretary of War ad interim to the application made by the Senators, was entirely unsatisfactory to me. It appeared to me to be not only a rejection in advance of the main proposition made by these Senators, to wit, that "an arrangement should be agreed on between the authorities of South Carolina and your Government, at least until the 15th of February next, by which time South Carolina and the States represented by the Senators might, in convention, devise a wise, just, and peaceable solution of existing difficulties"; "in the mean time," they say, "we think" (that is, these Senators) "that your State" (South Carolina) "should suffer Major Anderson to obtain necessary supplies of food, fuel, or water, and enjoy free communication, by post or special messenger, with the President, upon the understanding that the President will not send him reenforcements during the same period"; but, besides this rejection of the main proposition, there was in Mr. Holt's letter a distinct refusal to make any stipulation on the subject of reenforcement, even for the short time that might be required to communicate with my government.

This reply to the Senators was, as I have stated, altogether unsatisfactory to me, and I felt sure that it would be so to the authorities whom I represented. It was not, however, addressed to me, or to the authorities of South Carolina; and, as South Carolina had addressed nothing to your Government, and had asked nothing at your hands, I looked not to Mr. Holt's letter but to the note addressed to me by the Senators of the seceded and seceding States. I had consented to withhold my message at their instance, provided they could get assurances satisfactory to them that no reenforcements would be sent to Fort Sumter in the interval, and that the peace should not be disturbed by any act of hostility. The Senators expressed, in their note to me of the 23d instant, their "entire confidence that no reenforcements will be sent to Fort Sumter, nor will the public peace be disturbed within the period requisite for full communication between you (myself) and your (my) Government"; and renewed their request that I would withhold the communication with which I stood charged, and await further instructions. This I have done. The further instructions arrived on the 30th instant and bear date the 26th. I now have the honor to make to you my first communication as special envoy from the government of South Carolina. You will find inclosed the original communication to the President of the United States from the Governor of South Carolina, with which I was charged in Charleston on the 12th day of January, instant, the day on which it bears date. I am now instructed by the Governor of South Carolina to say that "his opinion as to the propriety of the demand which is contained in this letter has not only been confirmed by the circumstances which your (my) mission has developed, but is now increased to a conviction of its necessity. The safety of the State requires that the position of the President should be distinctly understood. The safety of all seceding States requires it as much as the safety of South Carolina. If it be so, that Fort Sumter is held as property, then as property, the rights, whatever they may be, of the United States can be ascertained, and for the satisfaction of these rights the pledge of the State of South Carolina you are" (I am) "authorized to give. If Fort Sumter is not held as property, it is held," say my instructions, "as a military post, and such a post within the limits of South Carolina can not be tolerated."

You will perceive that it is upon the presumption that it is solely as property that you continue to hold Fort Sumter that I have been selected for the performance of the duty upon which I have entered. I do not come as a military man to demand the surrender of a fortress, but as the legal officer of the State, its Attorney-General, to claim for the State the exercise of its undoubted right of eminent domain, and to pledge the State to make good all injury to the rights of property which may arise from the exercise of the claim.

South Carolina, as a separate, independent sovereignty, assumes the right to take into her possession everything within her limits essential to maintain her honor or her safety, irrespective of the question of property, subject only to the moral duty requiring that compensation should be made to the owner. This right she can not permit to be drawn into discussion. As to compensation for any property, whether of an individual or a Government, which she may deem it necessary for her honor or safety to take into her possession, her past history gives ample guarantee that it will be made, upon a fair accounting, to the last dollar. The proposition now is, that her law officer should, under authority of the Governor and his Council, distinctly pledge the faith of South Carolina to make such compensation in regard to Fort Sumter, and its appurtenances and contents, to the full extent of the money value of the property of the United States delivered over to the authorities of South Carolina by your command.

I will not suppose that a pledge like this can be considered insufficient security. Is not the money value of the property of the United States in this fort, situated where it can not be made available to the United States for any one purpose for which it was originally constructed, worth more to the United States than the property itself? Why, then, as property, insist on holding it by an armed garrison? Yet such has been the ground upon which you have invariably placed your occupancy of this fort by troops; beginning, prospectively, with your annual message of the 4th December; again in your special message of the 9th (8th) January, and still more emphatically in your message of the 28th January. The same position is set forth in your reply to the Senators, through the Secretary of War ad interim. It is there virtually conceded that Fort Sumter "is held merely as property of the United States, which you deem it your duty, to protect and preserve."

Again, it is submitted that the continuance of an armed possession actually jeopards the property you desire to protect. It is impossible but that such a possession, if continued long enough, must lead to collision. No people, not completely abject and pusillanimous, could submit, indefinitely, to the armed occupation of a fortress in the midst of the harbor of its principal city, and commanding the ingress and egress of every ship that enters the port, the daily ferry-boats that ply upon the waters moving but at the sufferance of aliens. An attack upon this fort would scarcely improve it as property, whatever the result; and, if captured, it would no longer be the subject of account.

To protect Fort Sumter, merely as property, it is submitted that an armed occupancy is not only unnecessary, but that it is manifestly the worst possible means which can be resorted to for such an object.

Your reply to the Senators, through Mr. Holt, declares it to be your sole object "to act strictly on the defensive, and to authorize no movement against South Carolina unless justified by a hostile movement on their part," yet, in reply to the proposition of the Senators that no reenforcements should be sent to Fort Sumter, provided South Carolina agrees that during the same period no attack should be made, you say: "It is impossible for me (your Secretary) to give you (the Senators) any such assurance," that it "would be a manifest violation of his (your) duty to place himself (yourself) under engagements that he (you) would not perform the duty either for an indefinite or a limited period."

In your message of the 28th inst., in expressing yourself in regard to a similar proposition, you say: "However strong may be my desire to enter into such an agreement, I am convinced that I do not possess the power. Congress, and Congress alone, under the war-making power, can exercise the discretion of agreeing to abstain 'from any and all acts calculated to produce a collision of arms' between this and other governments. It would, therefore, be a usurpation for the Executive to attempt to restrain their hands by an agreement in regard to matters over which he has no constitutional control. If he were thus to act, they might pass laws which he should be bound to obey, though in conflict with his agreement." The proposition, it is suggested, was addressed to you under the laws as they now are, and was not intended to refer to a new condition of things arising under new legislation. It was addressed to the Executive discretion, acting under existing laws. If Congress should, under the war-making power, or in any other way, legislate in a manner to affect the peace of South Carolina, her interests or her rights, it would not be accomplished in secret. South Carolina would have timely notice, and she would, I trust, endeavor to meet the emergency.

It is added in the letter of Mr. Holt that "at the present moment it is not deemed necessary to reenforce Major Anderson, because he makes no such request, and feels quite secure in his position. But, should his safety require it, every effort will be made to supply reenforcements." This would seem to ignore the other branch of the proposition made by the Senators, viz., that no attack was to be made on Fort Sumter during the period suggested, and that Major Anderson should enjoy the facilities of communication, etc.

I advert to this point, however, for the purpose of saying that to send reenforcements to Fort Sumter could not serve as a means of protecting and preserving property, for, as must be known to your Government, it would inevitably lead to immediate hostilities, in which property on all sides would necessarily suffer.

South Carolina has every disposition to preserve the public peace, and feels, I am sure, in full force, those high "Christian and moral duties" referred to by your Secretary; and it is submitted that on her part there is scarcely any consideration of mere property, apart from honor and safety, which could induce her to do aught to jeopard that peace, still less to inaugurate a protracted and bloody civil war. She rests her position on something higher than mere property. It is a consideration of her own dignity as a sovereign, and the safety of her people, which prompts her to demand that this property should not longer be used as a military post by a Government she no longer acknowledges. She feels this to be an imperative duty. It has, in fact, become an absolute necessity of her condition.

Repudiating, as you do, the idea of coercion, avowing peaceful intentions, and expressing a patriot's horror for civil war and bloody strife among those who once were brethren, it is hoped that on further consideration you will not, on a mere question of property, refuse the reasonable demand of South Carolina, which honor and necessity alike compel her to vindicate. Should you disappoint this hope, the responsibility for the result surely does not rest with her. If the evils of war are to be encountered, especially the calamities of civil war, an elevated statesmanship would seem to require that it should be accepted as the unavoidable alternative of something still more disastrous, such as national dishonor or measures materially affecting the safety or permanent interests of a people—that it should be a choice deliberately made, and entered upon as war, and of set purpose. But that war should be the incident or accident, attendant on a policy professedly peaceful, and not required to effect the object which is avowed as the only end intended, can only be excused when there has been no warning given as to the consequences.

I am further instructed to say that South Carolina can not, by her silence, appear to acquiesce in the imputation that she was guilty of an act of unprovoked aggression in firing on the Star of the West. Though an unarmed vessel, she was filled with armed men entering her territory against her will, with the purpose of reenforcing a garrison held, within her limits, against her protest. She forbears to recriminate by discussing the question of the propriety of attempting such a reenforcement at all, as well as of the disguised and secret manner in which it was intended to be effected. And on this occasion she will say nothing as to the manner in which Fort Sumter was taken into the possession of its present occupants.

The interposition of the Senators who have addressed you was a circumstance unexpected by my government, and unsolicited certainly by me. The Governor, while he appreciates the high and generous motives by which they were prompted, and while he fully approves the delay which, in deference to them, has taken place in the presentation of this demand, feels that it can not longer be withheld.

I conclude with an extract from the instructions just received by me from the government of South Carolina:

"The letter of the President, through Mr. Holt, may be received as the reply to the question you were instructed to ask, as to his assertion of his right to send reenforcements to Fort Sumter. You were instructed to say to him, if he asserted that right, that the State of South Carolina regarded such a right when asserted, or with an attempt at its exercise, as a declaration of war.

"If the President intends it shall not be so understood, it is proper, to avoid any misconception hereafter, that he should be informed of the manner in which the Governor will feel bound to regard it.

"If the President, when you have stated the reasons which prompt the Governor in making the demand for the delivery of Sumter, shall refuse to deliver the fort upon the pledge you have been authorized to make, you will communicate that refusal without delay to the Governor. If the President shall not be prepared to give you an immediate answer, you will communicate to him that his answer may be transmitted within a reasonable time to the Governor at this place (Charleston, South Carolina).

"The Governor does not consider it necessary that you (I) should remain longer in Washington than is necessary to execute this, the closing duty of your (my) mission, in the manner now indicated to you (me). As soon as the Governor shall receive from you information that you have closed your mission, and the reply, whatever it may be, of the President, he will consider the conduct which may be necessary on his part."

Allow me to request that you would, as soon as possible, inform me whether, under these instructions, I need await your answer in Washington; and, if not, I would be pleased to convey from you, to my government, information as to the time when an answer may be expected in Charleston.

With high consideration,

I am, very respectfully,

ISAAC W. HAYNE, Special Envoy.

Some further correspondence ensued, but without the presentation of any new feature necessary to a full understanding of the case. The result was to leave it as much unsettled in the end as it had been in the beginning, and the efforts at negotiation were terminated by the retirement from Washington of Colonel Hayne on the 8th of February, 1861.



The Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States, adopted on the 8th of February, 1861, is here presented, followed by the Constitution of the United States, with all its amendments to the period of the secession of the Southern States, and the permanent Constitution of the Confederate States (adopted on the 11th of March, 1861), in parallel columns. The variations from the Constitution of the United States, in the permanent Constitution of the Confederate States, are indicated by italics; the parts omitted by periods.

Constitution for the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America.

We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, invoking the favor of Almighty God, do hereby, in behalf of these States, ordain and establish this Constitution for the provisional Government of the same: to continue one year from the inauguration of the President, or until a permanent Constitution or Confederation between the said States shall be put in operation, whichsoever shall first occur.


Section 1.—All legislative powers herein delegated shall be vested in this Congress now assembled until otherwise ordained.

Section 2.—When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, the same shall be filled in such manner as the proper authorities of the State shall direct.

Section 3.—1. The Congress shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members; any number of deputies from a majority of the States being present, shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members; upon all questions before the Congress each State shall be entitled to one vote, and shall be represented by any one or more of its deputies who may be present.

2. The Congress may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

3. The Congress shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, or at the instance of any one State, be entered on the journal.

Section 4.—The members of Congress shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the Confederacy. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of the Congress, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate they shall not be questioned in any other place.

Section 5.—1. Every bill which shall have passed the Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the Confederacy; if he approve, he shall sign it; but, if not, he shall return it with his objections to the Congress, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two thirds of the Congress shall agree to pass the bill, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes shall be determined by yeas and nays; and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress, by their adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law. The President may veto any appropriation or appropriations, and approve any other appropriation or appropriations, in the same bill.

2. Every order, resolution, or vote intended to have the force and effect of a law, shall be presented to the President, and, before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or, being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Congress, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

3. Until the inauguration of the President, all bills, orders, resolutions, and votes adopted by the Congress shall be of full force without approval by him.

Section 6.—1. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, for the revenue necessary to pay the debts and carry on the Government of the Confederacy; and all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the States of the Confederacy.

2. To borrow money on the credit of the Confederacy.

3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.

4. To establish a uniform rule of naturalization and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the Confederacy.

5. To coin money, regulate the value thereof and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.

6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the Confederacy.

7. To establish post-offices and post-roads.

8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.

10. To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high-seas, and offenses against the law of nations.

11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.

12. To raise and support armies; but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.

13. To provide and maintain a navy.

14. To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

15. To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Confederacy, suppress insurrections, and repel invasion.

16. To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the Confederacy, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

17. To make all laws that shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers expressly delegated by this Constitution to this provisional Government.

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