Part 5 out of 13
"I fear that the confusion and interruptions amid which I write
have made this rather a rambling letter. Do you visit the North in
the Summer? I would be very happy to welcome you to the Old
"I am much obliged to you for the offer to send me Hammond's Eulogy
on Calhoun, but I am indebted to the author for a copy.
"With esteem and friendship, yours truly,
"M. R. H. GARNETT.
"WM. H. TRESCOT, ESQ."]
Next morning's New York herald, in its Charleston dispatch of April 12,
announced to the World that "The first shot [fired at Fort Sumter] from
Stevens's battery was fired by the venerable Edmund Ruffin, of
Virginia," and added, "That ball will do more for the cause of
Secession, in Virginia, than volumes of stump speeches."
"Soon," says Greeley in his History, "the thunder of fifty heavy
breaching cannon, in one grand volley, followed by the crashing and
crumbling of brick, stone, and mortar around and above them, apprized
the little garrison that their stay must necessarily be short."
Says an eye-witness of the bombardment: "Shells burst with the greatest
rapidity in every portion of the work, hurling the loose brick and stone
in all directions, breaking the windows and setting fire to whatever
woodwork they burst against. * * * The firing from the batteries on
Cumming's Point was scattered over the whole of the gorge or rear of the
Fort, till it looked like a sieve. The explosion of shells, and the
quantity of deadly missiles that were hurled in every direction and at
every instant of time, made it almost certain death to go out of the
lower tier of casemates, and also made the working of the barbette or
upper (uncovered) guns, which contained all our heaviest metal, and by
which alone we could throw shells, quite impossible.
"During the first day there was hardly an instant of time that there was
a cessation of the whizzing of balls, which were sometimes coming half a
dozen at once. There was not a portion of the work which was not taken
in reverse from mortars. * * * During Friday, the officers' barracks
were three times set on fire by the shells and three times put out under
the most galling and destructive cannonade.
"For the fourth time, the barracks were set on fire early on Saturday
morning, and attempts were made to extinguish the flames; but it was
soon discovered that red-hot shot were being thrown into the Fort with
fearful rapidity, and it became evident that it would be impossible to
put out the conflagration. The whole garrison was then set to work, or
as many as could be spared, to remove the powder from the magazines,
which was desperate work, rolling barrels of powder through the fire. *
* * After the barracks were well on fire, the batteries directed upon
Fort Sumter increased their cannonading to a rapidity greater than had
been attained before."
"About this time, the shells and ammunition in the upper
service-magazines exploded, scattering the tower and upper portions of
the building in every direction. The crash of the beams, the roar of
the flames, and the shower of fragments of the Fort, with the blackness
of the smoke, made the scene indescribably terrific and grand. This
continued for several hours. * * * "
"There was not a portion of the Fort where a breath of air could be got
for hours, except through a wet cloth. The fire spread to the men's
quarters on the right hand and on the left, and endangered the powder
which had been taken out of the magazines. The men went through the
fire, and covered the barrels with wet cloths, but the danger of the
Fort's blowing up became so imminent that they were obliged to heave the
barrels out of the embrasures."
Major Anderson's official report tells the whole story briefly and well,
in these words:
"STEAMSHIP BALTIC, OFF SANDY HOOK
"April 18, 1861, 10.30 A.M., VIA NEW YORK.
"Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the quarters
were entirely burnt, the main gates destroyed by fire, the gorge walls
seriously injured, the magazine surrounded by flames, and its door
closed from the effects of heat; four barrels and three cartridges of
powder only being available, and no provisions remaining but pork, I
accepted terms of evacuation offered by General Beauregard--being the
same offered by him on the 11th inst., prior to the commencement of
hostilities--and marched out of the Fort on Sunday afternoon, the 14th
instant, with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and
private property, and saluting my flag with fifty guns.
"Major 1st Artillery, Commanding.
"HON. SIMON CAMERON,
"Secretary of War, Washington."
During all this thirty-four hours of bombardment, the South rejoiced
with exceeding great joy that the time had come for the vindication of
its peculiar ideas of State and other rights, even though it be with
flames and the sword. At Charleston, the people were crazy with
exultation and wine-feasting and drinking being the order of the day and
night. But for the surrender, Fort Sumter would have been stormed that
Sunday night. As it was, Sunday was turned into a day of general
jubilation, and while the people cheered and filled the streets, all the
Churches of Charleston celebrated, with more or less devotional fervor
and ceremony, the bloodless victory.
At Montgomery, the Chiefs of the Confederate Government were serenaded.
"Salvos of artillery were fired, and the whole population seemed to be
in an ecstasy of triumph."--[McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p.
The Confederate Secretary of War, flushed with the success, predicted
that the Confederate flag "will, before the first of May, float over the
dome of the old Capitol at Washington" and "will eventually float over
Faneuil Hall, in Boston."
From Maryland to Mexico, the protests of Union men of the South were
unheard in the fierce clamor of "On to Washington!"
The Richmond Examiner said: "There never was half the unanimity among
the people before, nor a tithe of the zeal upon any subject, that is now
manifested to take Washington. From the mountain tops and valleys to
the shores of the sea, there is one wild shout of fierce resolve to
capture Washington City at all and every human hazard."
So also, the Mobile Advertiser enthusiastically exclaimed:
"We are prepared to fight, and the enemy is not. Now is the time for
action, while he is yet unprepared. Let the fife sound 'Gray Jackets
over the Border,' and let a hundred thousand men, with such arms as they
can snatch, get over the border as quickly as they can. Let a division
enter every Northern border State, destroy railroad connection to
prevent concentration of the enemy, and the desperate strait of these
States, the body of Lincoln's country, will compel him to a peace--or
compel his successor, should Virginia not suffer him to escape from his
It was on Friday morning, the 12th of April, as we have seen, that the
first Rebel shot was fired at Fort Sumter. It was on Saturday afternoon
and evening that the terms of surrender were agreed to, and on Sunday
afternoon that the Federal flag was saluted and hauled down, and the
surrender completed. On Monday morning, being the 15th of April, in all
the great Northern Journals of the day appeared the following:
"WHEREAS, the laws of the United States have been for some time past,
and now are, opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the
States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Texas, by Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by
the ordinary course of Judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in
the Marshals by law; now, therefore I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the
United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution
and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth,
the Militia of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number
of 75,000, in order to suppress said Combinations, and to cause the laws
to be duly executed.
"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the
State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal
citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the
honor, the integrity, and existence of our National Union, and the
perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long
enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned
to the forces hereby called forth, will probably be to repossess the
forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and
in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the
objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or
interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens of
any part of the Country; and I hereby command the persons composing the
Combinations aforesaid, to disperse and retire peaceably to their
respective abodes, within twenty days from this date.
"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an
extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested
by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. The Senators and
Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their respective
chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the 4th day of July next,
then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their
wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.
"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the
independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
"By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
While in the North the official responses to this Call for troops were
prompt and patriotic, in the Border and Slave States, not yet in
Rebellion, they were anything but encouraging.
The reply of Governor Burton, of Delaware, was by the issue of a
proclamation "recommending the formation of volunteer companies for the
protection of the lives and property of the people of Delaware against
violence of any sort to which they may be exposed; the companies not
being subject to be ordered by the Executive into the United States
service--the law not vesting him with such authority--but having the
option of offering their services to the General Government for the
defense of its capital and the support of the Constitution and laws of
Governor Hicks, of Maryland, in like manner, issued a proclamation for
Maryland's quota of the troops, but stated that her four regiments would
be detailed to serve within the limits of Maryland--or, for the defense
of the National Capital.
Governor Letcher, of Virginia, replied: "The militia of Virginia will
not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose
as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States,
and a requisition made upon me for such an object--an object, in my
judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the Act of 1795
--will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate Civil War,
and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the
Administration has exhibited toward the South."
Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, replied to Secretary Cameron: "Your
dispatch is received, and, if genuine--which its extraordinary character
leads me to doubt--I have to say in reply that I regard the levy of
troops made by the Administration, for the purpose of subjugating the
States of the South, as in violation of the Constitution and a
usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the
laws of the country, and to this War upon the liberties of a free
people. You can get no troops from North Carolina. I will reply more
in detail when your Call is received by mail."
Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, replied: "Your dispatch is received. In
answer I say emphatically, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the
wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States."
Governor Harris, of Tennessee, replied: "Tennessee will not furnish a
single man for Coercion, but fifty thousand, if necessary, for the
Defense of our rights or those of our Southern brethren."
Governor Jackson, of Missouri, replied: "Your requisition is illegal,
unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical and cannot be
Governor Rector, of Arkansas, replied: "None will be furnished. The
demand is only adding insult to injury."
Discouraging and even insulting as were most of these replies, the
responses of the Governors of the Free States were, on the other hand,
full of the ring of true martial Patriotism evoked by the fall of Sumter
and the President's first call for troops. Twenty millions of Northern
hearts were stirred by that Call, as they had never before been stirred.
Party and faction became for the moment, a thing of the past.
The Governors of the Free States made instant proclamation for
volunteers, and the People responded not by thousands but by hundreds of
thousands. New York, the Empire State, by her Governor and her
Legislature placed all her tremendous resources at the service of the
Union; and the great State of Pennsylvania, through Governor Curtin, did
the same. Nor were the other States at all behind.
The Loyal North felt that Law, Order, Liberty, the existence of the
Nation itself was in peril, and must be both saved and vindicated. Over
half a million of men--from the prairies of the West and the hills and
cities of the East--from farms and counting houses, from factories and
mines and workshops--sprang to arms at the Call, and begged to be
enrolled. The merchants and capitalists throughout the North proffered
to the Government their wealth and influence and best services. The
press and the people responded as only the press and people of a Free
land can respond--with all their heart and soul. "Fort Sumter," said
one of the journals, "is lost, but Freedom is saved. Henceforth, the
Loyal States are a unit in uncompromising hostility to Treason, wherever
plotted, however justified. Fort Sumter is temporarily lost, but the
Country is saved. Live the Republic!"
This, in a nutshell, was the feeling everywhere expressed, whether by
the great crowds that marched through the streets of Northern cities
with drums beating and banners flying--cheering wildly for the Union,
singing Union songs, and compelling those of doubtful loyalty to throw
out to the breeze from their homes the glorified Stars and Stripes--by
the great majority of newspapers--by the pulpit, by the rostrum, by the
bench, by all of whatever profession or calling in Northern life. For
the moment, the voice of the Rebel-sympathizer was hushed in the land,
or so tremendously overborne that it seemed as if there was an absolute
unanimity of love for the Union.
Of course, in Border-States, bound to the South by ties of lineage and
intermarriage and politics and business association, the feeling could
not be the same as elsewhere. There, they were, so to speak, drawn both
ways at once, by the beckoning hands of kindred on the one side, and
Country on the other! Thus they long waited and hesitated, praying that
something might yet happen to save the Union of their fathers, and
prevent the shedding of brothers' blood, by brothers-hoping against
hope-waited, in the belief that a position of armed neutrality might be
permitted to them; and grieved, when they found this could not be.
Each side to the great Conflict-at-arms naturally enough believed itself
right, and that the other side was the first aggressor; but the judgment
of Mankind has placed the blame where it properly belonged--on the
shoulders of the Rebels. The calm, clear statement of President
Lincoln, in his July Message to Congress, touching the assault and its
preceding history--together with his conclusions--states the whole
matter in such authentic and convincing manner that it may be said to
have settled the point beyond further controversy. After stating that
it "was resolved to notify the Governor of South Carolina that he might
expect an attempt would be made to provision the Fort; and that if the
attempt should not be resisted there would be no effort to throw in men,
arms, or ammunition, without further notice, or in case of an attack on
the Fort," Mr. Lincoln continues: "This notice was accordingly given;
whereupon the Fort was attacked and bombarded to its fall, without even
awaiting the arrival of the provisioning expedition."
The President then proceeds: "It is thus seen that the assault upon and
reduction of Fort Sumter was, in no sense, a matter of self-defense on
the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the
Fort could, by no possibility, commit aggression upon them. They knew
--they were expressly notified--that the giving of bread to the few brave
and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be
attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more.
They knew that this Government desired to keep the garrison in the Fort
--not to assail them--but merely to maintain visible possession, and
thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution
--trusting, as hereinbefore stated, to time, discussion, and the
ballot-box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the Fort
for precisely the reverse object--to drive out the visible authority of
the Federal Union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution.
"That this was their object, the Executive well understood; and, having
said to them, in the Inaugural Address, 'you can have no conflict
without being yourselves the aggressors,' he took pains not only to keep
this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power
of ingenious sophistry as that the World should not be able to
"By the affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that
point was reached. Then and thereby the assailants of the Government
began the Conflict of arms, without a gun in sight or in expectancy to
return their fire, save only the few in the Fort sent to that harbor
years before for their own protection, and still ready to give that
protection in whatever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else,
they have forced upon the Country, the distinct issue: 'Immediate
dissolution or blood.'
"And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It
presents to the whole family of Man the question whether a
Constitutional Republic or Democracy--a government of the People by the
same People--can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against
its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented
individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to
organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretences made in this
case, or on any other pretences, or arbitrarily without any pretence,
break up their Government, and thus practically put an end to free
government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: 'Is there in all
republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?' 'Must a Government of
necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak
to maintain its own existence?'
"So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the War power
of the Government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction,
by force, for its preservation."
The Call for Troops was made, as we have seen, on the 15th day of April.
On the evening of the following day several companies of a Pennsylvania
Regiment reported for duty in Washington. On the 18th, more
Pennsylvania Volunteers, including a company of Artillery, arrived
On the 19th of April, the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment--whose progress
through New York city had been triumphal-was suddenly and unexpectedly
assailed, in its passage through Baltimore, to the defense of the
National Capital, by a howling mob of Maryland Secessionists--worked up
to a pitch of States-rights frenzy by Confederate emissaries and
influential Baltimore Secession-sympathizers, by news of the sudden
evacuation of the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, and other exciting
tidings--and had to fight its way through, leaving three soldiers of
that regiment dead, and a number wounded, behind it.
[At a meeting of the "National Volunteer Association," at Monument
Square, Baltimore, the previous evening, says Greeley's History of
the American Conflict, page 462, "None of the speakers directly
advocated attacks on the Northern troops about to pass through the
city; but each was open in his hostility to 'Coercion,' and
ardently exhorted his hearers to organize, arm and drill, for the
Conflict now inevitable. Carr (Wilson C. N. Carr) said: 'I do not
care how many Federal troops are sent to Washington; they will soon
find themselves surrounded by such an army from Virginia and
Maryland, that escape to their homes will be impossible; and when
the 75,000 who are intended to invade the South shall have polluted
that soil with their touch, the South will exterminate and sweep
them from the Earth.' (Frantic cheering and yelling). The meeting
broke up with stentorian cheers for 'the South' and for 'President
Ten companies of Philadelphia troops, reaching Baltimore at the same
time, unarmed, were also violently assailed by the crazy mob, and, after
a two hours' fight, reached the cars and returned to Philadelphia.
Washington City--already, by the Secession of Virginia, cut off from the
South--was thus practically cut off from the North as well; and to
isolate it more completely, the telegraph wires were cut down and the
railroad bridges burned. A mere handful of regulars, the few volunteers
that had got through before the outbreak in Baltimore, and a small
number of Union residents and Government department clerks--these, under
General Winfield Scott, constituted the paltry force that, for ten days
after the Call for troops, held the National Capital.
Informed, as the Rebels must have been, by their swarming spies, of the
weakness of the Federal metropolis, it seems absolutely marvelous that
instant advantage was not taken of it.
The Richmond Examiner, of April 23d, said: "The capture of Washington
City is perfectly within the power of Virginia and Maryland, if Virginia
will only make the effort with her constituted authorities; nor is there
a single moment to lose. * * * The fanatical yell for the immediate
subjugation of the whole South is going up hourly from the united voices
of all the North; and, for the purpose of making their work sure, they
have determined to hold Washington City as the point whence to carry on
their brutal warfare. Our people can take it--they will take it--and
Scott, the arch-traitor, and Lincoln, the Beast, combined, cannot
prevent it. The just indignation of an outraged and deeply injured
people will teach the Illinois Ape to repeat his race and retrace his
journey across the borders of the Free Negro States still more rapidly
than he came. * * * Great cleansing and purification are needed and
will be given to that festering sink of iniquity, that wallow of Lincoln
and Scott--the desecrated city of Washington; and many indeed will be
the carcasses of dogs and caitiff that will blacken the air upon the
gallows before the great work is accomplished. So let it be!"
But despite all this fanfaronade of brutal bluster, and various
movements that looked somewhat threatening, and this complete isolation
for more than a week from the rest of the World, the city of Washington
was not seized by the Rebels, after all.
This nervous condition of affairs, however, existed until the 25th--and
to General Benjamin F. Butler is due the chief credit of putting an end
to it. It seems he had reached the Susquehanna river at Perryville,
with his Eighth Massachusetts Regiment on the 20th--the day after the
Sixth Massachusetts had been mobbed at Baltimore--and, finding his
further progress to Washington via Baltimore, barred by the destruction
of the bridge across the Susquehanna, etc., he at once seized a large
ferry steamer, embarked his men on her, steamed down the river and
Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, took possession of
the frigate Constitution, the Naval Academy, and the city itself,
gathered supplies, and being reinforced by the arrival by water of the
famous New York Seventh, and other regiments, repaired the branch
railroad to Annapolis Junction (on the main line of railroad between
Baltimore and Washington), and transferred his column from thence, by
cars, on the 25th, to the National Capital--soon thereafter also taking
military possession of Baltimore, which gave no further trouble to the
Union Cause. In the meantime, however, other untoward events to that
Cause had happened.
Two days after the Call for troops, the Virginia Convention (April 17th)
secretly voted to Secede from the Union. An expedition of Virginia
troops was almost at once started to capture the Federal Arsenal at
Harper's Ferry, which, as has already been intimated, was evacuated
hastily on the night of the 18th, by the handful of Union regulars
garrisoning it, after a futile effort to destroy the public property and
stores it held. Another expedition was started to seize the Federal
Navy Yard at Norfolk--a rich prize, containing as it did, between 2,000
and 3,000 pieces of heavy ordnance (300 of them Dahlgrens), three old
line-of-battle ships and a number of frigates, including the Cumberland
and the fine forty-gun steam frigate Merrimac, together with thousands
of kegs of powder and immense stores of other munitions of war, and
supplies--that had cost in all some $10,000,000. Without an enemy in
sight, however, this fine Navy Yard was shamefully evacuated, after
partly scuttling and setting fire to the vessels--the Cumberland alone
being towed away--and spiking the guns, and doing other not very
So also, in North Carolina, Rebel influence was equally active. On the
20th of April Governor Ellis seized the Federal Branch Mint at,
Charlotte, and on the 22d the Federal Arsenal at Fayetteville. A few
days thereafter his Legislature authorized him to tender to Virginia
--which had already joined the Confederacy--or to the Government of the
Confederate States itself, the volunteer forces of North Carolina. And,
although at the end of January the people of that State had decided at
the polls that no Secession Convention be held, yet the subservient
Legislature did not hesitate, on demand, to call one together which met
in May and ordained such Secession.
Thus, by the end of May, 1861, the Confederacy had grown to comprise
nine instead of seven States, and the Confederate troops were
concentrating on Richmond--whither the Rebel Government was soon to
remove, from Montgomery.
By this time also not only had the ranks of the regular Union Army been
filled and largely added to, but 42,000 additional volunteers had been
called out by President Lincoln; and the blockade of the Southern ports
(including those of Virginia and North Carolina) that had been
proclaimed by him, was, despite all obstacles, now becoming effectual
Washington City and its suburbs, by the influx of Union volunteers, had
during this month become a vast armed camp; the Potomac river had been
crossed and the Virginia hills (including Arlington heights) which
overlooked the Federal Capital, had been occupied and fortified by Union
troops; the young and gallant Colonel Ellsworth had been killed by a
Virginia Rebel while pulling down a Rebel flag in Alexandria; and
General Benjamin F. Butler, in command at Fortress Monroe, had by an
inspiration, solved one of the knottiest points confronting our armies,
by declaring of three Negroes who had fled from their master so as to
escape working on Rebel fortifications, that they should not be returned
to that master--under the Fugitive Slave Law, as demanded by a Rebel
officer with a flag of truce--but were confiscated "property," and would
be retained, as "contraband of war."
It was about this time, too, that the New Orleans Picayune fell into
line with other unscrupulous Rebel sheets, by gravely declaring that:
"All the Massachusetts troops now in Washington are Negroes, with the
exception of two or three drummer boys. General Butler, in command, is
a native of Liberia. Our readers may recollect old Ben, the barber, who
kept a shop in Poydras street, and emigrated to Liberia with a small
competence. General Butler is his son." Little did the writer of that
paragraph dream how soon New Orleans would crouch at the very feet of
that same General!
And now, while the armed hosts on either side are assembling in hostile
array, or resting on their arms, preliminary to the approaching fray of
battle, let us glance at the alleged causes underlying this great
Rebellion against the Union.
THE CAUSES OF SECESSION.
In preceding Chapters of this work, it has been briefly shown, that from
the very hour in which the Republic of the United States was born, there
have not been wanting, among its own citizens, those who hated it, and
when they could not rule, were always ready to do what they could, by
Conspiracy, Sedition, Mutiny, Nullification, Secession, or otherwise, to
weaken and destroy it. This fact, and the processes by which the
Conspirators worked, is very well stated, in his documentary "History of
the Rebellion," by Edward McPherson, when he says: "In the Slaveholding
States, a considerable body of men have always been disaffected to the
Union. They resisted the adoption of the National Constitution, then
sought to refine away the rights and powers of the General Government,
and by artful expedients, in a series of years, using the excitements
growing out of passing questions, finally perverted the sentiments of
large masses of men, and prepared them for Revolution."
Before giving further incontestable proofs establishing this fact, and
before endeavoring to sift out the true cause or causes of Secession,
let us first examine such evidences as are submitted by him in support
of his proposition.
The first piece of testimony, is an extract from an unpublished journal
of U. S. Senator Maclay of Pennsylvania, from March 4, 1789, to March 3,
1791--the period of the First Congress under the Federal Constitution.
It runs thus:
"1789, June 9.--In relation to the Tariff Bill, the affair of confining
the East India Trade to the citizens of America had been negatived, and
a committee had been appointed to report on this business. The report
came in with very high duties, amounting to a prohibition. But a new
phenomenon had made its appearance in the House (meaning the Senate)
"Pierce Butler, from South Carolina, had taken his seat, and flamed like
a meteor. He arraigned the whole Impost law, and then charged
(indirectly) the whole Congress with a design of oppressing South
Carolina. He cried out for encouraging the Danes and Swedes, and
foreigners of every kind, to come and take away our produce. In fact he
was for a Navigation Act reversed.
"June 11.--Attended at the hall as usual.
"Mr. Ralph Izard and Mr. Butler opposed the whole of the drawbacks in
every shape whatever.
"Mr. (William) Grayson, of Virginia, warm on this subject, said we were
not ripe for such a thing. We were a new Nation, and had no business
for any such regulations--a Nation /sui generis/.
"Mr. (Richard Henry) Lee (of Virginia) said drawbacks were right, but
would be so much abused, he could not think of admitting them.
"Mr. (Oliver) Ellsworth (of Connecticut) said New England rum would be
exported, instead of West India, to obtain the drawback.
"I thought it best to say a few words in reply to each. We were a new
Nation, it was true, but we were not a new People. We were composed of
individuals of like manners, habits, and customs with the European
Nations. What, therefore, had been found useful among them, came well
recommended by experience to us. Drawbacks stand as an example in this
point of view to us. If the thing was right in itself, there could be
no just argument drawn against the use of a thing from the abuse of it.
It would be the duty of Government to guard against abuses, by prudent
appointments and watchful attention to officers. That as to changing
the kind of rum, I thought the collection Bill would provide for this,
by limiting the exportation to the original casks and packages. I said
a great deal more, but really did not feel much interest either way.
But the debates were very lengthy.
"Butler flamed away, and THREATENED A DISSOLUTION OF THE UNION, with
regard to his State, as sure as God was in the firmament. He scattered
his remarks over the whole Impost bill, calling it partial, oppressive,
etc., and solely calculated to oppress South Carolina, and yet ever and
anon declaring how clear of local views and how candid and dispassionate
he was. He degenerates into mere declamation. His State would live
free, or die glorious."
The next piece of evidence is General Jackson's letter to Rev. A. J.
Crawford, as follows:
"WASHINGTON, May 1, 1833.
"MY DEAR SIR: * * * I have had a laborious task here, but Nullification
is dead; and its actors and courtiers will only be remembered by the
People to be execrated for their wicked designs to sever and destroy the
only good Government on the globe, and that prosperity and happiness we
enjoy over every other portion of the World. Haman's gallows ought to
be the fate of all such ambitious men who would involve their Country in
Civil War, and all the evils in its train, that they might reign and
ride on its whirlwinds and direct the storm. The Free People of these
United States have spoken, and consigned these wicked demagogues to
their proper doom. Take care of your Nullifiers; you have them among
you; let them meet with the indignant frowns of every man who loves his
Country. The Tariff, it is now known, was a mere pretext--its burden
was on your coarse woolens. By the law of July, 1832, coarse woolen was
reduced to five per cent., for the benefit of the South. Mr. Clay's
Bill takes it up and classes it with woolens at fifty per cent., reduces
it gradually down to twenty per cent., and there it is to remain, and
Mr. Calhoun and all the Nullifiers agree to the principle. The cash
duties and home valuation will be equal to fifteen per cent. more, and
after the year 1842, you pay on coarse woolens thirty-five per cent. If
this is not Protection, I cannot understand; therefore the Tariff was
only the pretext, and Disunion and a Southern Confederacy the real
object. The next pretext will be the Negro or Slavery question.
"My health is not good, but is improving a little. Present me kindly to
your lady and family, and believe me to be your friend. I will always
be happy to hear from you.
Another evidence is given in the following extract from Benton's "Thirty
Years in the Senate," vol. ii., as follows:
"The regular inauguration of this Slavery agitation dates from the year
1835; but it had commenced two years before, and in this way:
Nullification and Disunion had commenced in 1830, upon complaint against
Protective Tariff. That, being put down in 1833 under President
Jackson's proclamation and energetic measures, was immediately
substituted by the Slavery agitation. Mr. Calhoun, when he went home
from Congress in the spring of that year, told his friends that 'the
South could never be united against the North on the Tariff question
--that the sugar interest of Louisiana would keep her out--and that the
basis of Southern Union must be shifted to the Slave question.' Then
all the papers in his interest, and especially the one at Washington,
published by Mr. Duff Green, dropped Tariff agitation, and commenced
upon Slavery, and in two years had the agitation ripe for inauguration,
on the Slavery question. And in tracing this agitation to its present
stage, and to comprehend its rationale, it is not to be forgotten that
it is a mere continuation of old Tariff Disunion, and preferred because
Again, from p. 490 of his private correspondence, Mr. Clay's words to an
Alabamian, in 1844, are thus given:
"From the developments now being made in South Carolina, it is perfectly
manifest that a Party exists in that State seeking a Dissolution of the
Union, and for that purpose employ the pretext of the rejection of Mr.
Tyler's abominable treaty. South Carolina, being surrounded by Slave
States, would, in the event of a Dissolution of the Union, suffer only
comparative evils; but it is otherwise with Kentucky. She has the
boundary of the Ohio extending four hundred miles on three Free States.
What would our condition be in the event of the greatest calamity that
could befall this Nation?"
Allusion is also made to a letter written by Representative Nathan
Appleton, of Boston, December 15, 1860, in which that gentleman said
that when he was in Congress--in 1832-33--he had "made up his mind that
Messrs. Calhoun, Hayne, McDuffie, etc., were desirous of a separation of
the Slave States into a separate Confederacy, as more favorable to the
security of Slave Property."
After mentioning that "About 1835, some South Carolinians attempted a
Disunion demonstration," our authority says: It is thus described by
ex-Governor Francis Thomas of Maryland, in his speech in Baltimore,
October 29, 1861:
"Full twenty years ago, when occupying my seat in the House of
Representatives, I was surprised one morning, after the assembling of
the House, to observe that all the members from the Slaveholding States
were absent. Whilst reflecting on this strange occurrence, I was asked
why I was not in attendance on the Southern Caucus assembled in the room
of the Committee on Claims. I replied that I had received no
"I then proposed to go to the Committee-room to see what was being done.
When I entered, I found that little cock-sparrow, Governor Pickens, of
South Carolina, addressing the meeting, and strutting about like a
rooster around a barn-yard coop, discussing the following resolution:
"' Resolved, That no member of Congress, representing a Southern
constituency, shall again take his seat until a resolution is passed
satisfactory to the South on the subject of Slavery.'
"I listened to his language, and when he had finished, I obtained the
floor, asking to be permitted to take part in the discussion. I
determined at once to kill the Treasonable plot hatched by John C.
Calhoun, the Catiline of America, by asking questions. I said to Mr.
Pickens, 'What next do you propose we shall do? are we to tell the
People that Republicanism is a failure? If you are for that, I am not.
I came here to sustain and uphold American institutions; to defend the
rights of the North as well as the South; to secure harmony and good
fellowship between all Sections of our common Country.' They dared not
answer these questions. The Southern temper had not then been gotten
up. As my questions were not answered, I moved an adjournment of the
Caucus /sine die/. Mr. Craig, of Virginia, seconded the motion, and the
company was broken up. We returned to the House, and Mr. Ingersoll, of
Pennsylvania, a glorious patriot then as now, introduced a resolution
which temporarily calmed the excitement."
The remarks upon this statement, made November 4, 1861, by the National
Intelligencer, were as follows:
"However busy Mr. Pickens may have been in the Caucus after it met, the
most active man in getting it up and pressing the Southern members to go
into it, was Mr. R. B. Rhett, also a member from South Carolina. The
occasion, or alleged cause of this withdrawal from the House into secret
deliberation was an anti-Slavery speech of Mr. Slade, of Vermont, which
Mr. Rhett violently denounced, and proposed to the Southern members to
leave the House and go into Conclave in one of the Committee-rooms,
which they generally did, if not all of them. We are able to state,
however, what may not have been known to Governor Thomas, that at least
three besides himself, of those who did attend it, went there with a
purpose very different from an intention to consent to any Treasonable
measure. These three men were Henry A. Wise, Balie Peyton, and William
Cost Johnson. Neither of them opened his lips in the Caucus; they went
to observe; and we can assure Governor Thomas, that if Mr. Pickens or
Mr. Calhoun, (whom he names) or any one else had presented a distinct
proposition looking to Disunion, or Revolt, or Secession, he would have
witnessed a scene not soon to be forgotten. The three whom we have
mentioned were as brave as they were determined. Fortunately, perhaps,
the man whom they went particularly to watch, remained silent and
Let us, however, pursue the inquiry a little further. On the 14th of
November, 1860, Alexander H. Stephens addressed the Legislature of
Georgia, and in a portion of that address--replying to a speech made
before the same Body the previous evening by Mr. Toombs, in which the
latter had "recounted the evils of this Government"--said:
"The first [of these evils] was the Fishing Bounties, paid mostly to the
sailors of New England. Our friend stated that forty-eight years of our
Government was under the administration of Southern Presidents. Well,
these Fishing Bounties began under the rule of a Southern President, I
believe. No one of them, during the whole forty-eight years, ever set
his Administration against the principle or policy of them. * * *
"The next evil which my friend complained of, was the Tariff. Well, let
us look at that for a moment. About the time I commenced noticing
public matters, this question was agitating the Country almost as
fearfully as the Slave question now is. In 1832, when I was in college,
South Carolina was ready to Nullify or Secede from the Union on this
account. And what have we seen? The Tariff no longer distracts the
public counsels. Reason has triumphed! The present Tariff was voted
for by Massachusetts and South Carolina. The lion and the lamb lay down
together--every man in the Senate and House from Massachusetts and South
Carolina, I think, voted for it, as did my honorable friend himself.
And if it be true, to use the figure of speech of my honorable friend,
that every man in the North that works in iron, and brass and wood, has
his muscle strengthened by the protection of the Government, that
stimulant was given by his vote and I believe (that of) every other
"Mr. TOOMBS--The Tariff lessened the duties.
"Mr. STEPHENS--Yes, and Massachusetts with unanimity voted with the
South to lessen them, and they were made just as low as Southern men
asked them to be, and that is the rate they are now at. If reason and
argument, with experience, produced such changes in the sentiments of
Massachusetts from 1832 to 1857, on the subject of the Tariff, may not
like changes be effected there by the same means--reason and argument,
and appeals to patriotism on the present vexed question? And who can
say that by 1875 or 1890, Massachusetts may not vote with South Carolina
and Georgia upon all those questions that now distract the Country and
threaten its peace and existence.
"Another matter of grievance alluded to by my honorable friend was the
Navigation Laws. This policy was also commenced under the
Administration of one of these Southern Presidents who ruled so well,
and has been continued through all of them since. * * * One of the
objects (of these) was to build up a commercial American marine by
giving American bottoms the exclusive Carrying Trade between our own
ports. This is a great arm of national power. This object was
accomplished. We have now an amount of shipping, not only coastwise,
but to foreign countries, which puts us in the front rank of the Nations
of the World. England can no longer be styled the Mistress of the Seas.
What American is not proud of the result? Whether those laws should be
continued is another question. But one thing is certain; no President,
Northern or Southern, has ever yet recommended their repeal. * * *
"These then were the true main grievances or grounds of complaint
against the general system of our Government and its workings--I mean
the administration of the Federal Government. As to the acts of the
federal States I shall speak presently: but these three were the main
ones used against the common head. Now, suppose it be admitted that all
of these are evils in the system; do they overbalance and outweigh the
advantages and great good which this same Government affords in a
thousand innumerable ways that cannot be estimated? Have we not at the
South, as well as the North, grown great, prosperous, and happy under
its operations? Has any part of the World ever shown such rapid
progress in the development of wealth, and all the material resources of
national power and greatness, as the Southern States have under the
General Government, notwithstanding all its defects?
"Mr. TOOMBS--In spite of it.
"Mr. STEPHENS--My honorable friend says we have, in spite of the General
Government; that without it, I suppose he thinks, we might have done as
well, or perhaps better, than we have done in spite of it. * * *
Whether we of the South would have been better off without the
Government, is, to say the least, problematical. On the one side we can
only put the fact, against speculation and conjecture on the other. * *
* The influence of the Government on us is like that of the atmosphere
around us. Its benefits are so silent and unseen that they are seldom
thought of or appreciated.
"We seldom think of the single element of oxygen in the air we breathe,
and yet let this simple, unseen and unfelt agent be withdrawn, this
life-giving element be taken away from this all-pervading fluid around
us, and what instant and appalling changes would take place in all
"It may be that we are all that we are 'in spite of the General
Government,' but it may be that without it we should have been far
different from what we are now. It is true that there is no equal part
of the Earth with natural resources superior perhaps to ours. That
portion of this Country known as the Southern States, stretching from
the Chesapeake to the Rio Grande, is fully equal to the picture drawn by
the honorable and eloquent Senator last night, in all natural
capacities. But how many ages and centuries passed before these
capacities were developed to reach this advanced age of civilization.
There these same hills, rich in ore, same rivers, same valleys and
plains, are as they have been since they came from the hand of the
Creator; uneducated and uncivilized man roamed over them for how long no
history informs us.
"It was only under our institutions that they could be developed. Their
development is the result of the enterprise of our people, under
operations of the Government and institutions under which we have lived.
Even our people, without these, never would have done it. The
organization of society has much to do with the development of the
natural resources of any Country or any Land. The institutions of a
People, political and moral, are the matrix in which the germ of their
organic structure quickens into life--takes root, and develops in form,
nature, and character. Our institutions constitute the basis, the
matrix, from which spring all our characteristics of development and
greatness. Look at Greece. There is the same fertile soil, the same
blue sky, the same inlets and harbors, the same AEgean, the same
Olympus; there is the same land where Homer sung, where Pericles spoke;
it is in nature the same old Greece--but it is living Greece no more.
"Descendants of the same people inhabit the country; yet what is the
reason of this vast difference? In the midst of present degradation we
see the glorious fragments of ancient works of art-temples, with
ornaments and inscriptions that excite wonder and admiration--the
remains of a once high order of civilization, which have outlived the
language they spoke--upon them all, Ichabod is written--their glory has
departed. Why is this so? I answer, their institutions have been
destroyed. These were but the fruits of their forms of government, the
matrix from which their great development sprang; and when once the
institutions of a People have been destroyed, there is no earthly power
that can bring back the Promethean spark to kindle them here again, any
more than in that ancient land of eloquence, poetry and song.
"The same may be said of Italy. Where is Rome, once the mistress of the
World? There are the same seven hills now, the same soil, the same
natural resources; the nature is the same, but what a ruin of human
greatness meets the eye of the traveler throughout the length and
breadth of that most down-trodden land! why have not the People of that
Heaven-favored clime, the spirit that animated their fathers? Why this
"It is the destruction of their institutions that has caused it; and, my
countrymen, if we shall in an evil hour rashly pull down and destroy
those institutions which the patriotic hand of our fathers labored so
long and so hard to build up, and which have done so much for us and the
World, who can venture the prediction that similar results will not
ensue? Let us avoid it if we can. I trust the spirit is among us that
will enable us to do it. Let us not rashly try the experiment, for, if
it fails, as it did in Greece and Italy, and in the South American
Republics, and in every other place wherever liberty is once destroyed,
it may never be restored to us again.
"There are defects in our government, errors in administration, and
short-comings of many kinds; but in spite of these defects and errors,
Georgia has grown to be a great State. Let us pause here a moment.
"When I look around and see our prosperity in everything, agriculture,
commerce, art, science, and every department of education, physical and
mental, as well as moral advancement--and our colleges--I think, in the
face of such an exhibition, if we can, without the loss of power, or any
essential right or interest, remain in the Union, it is our duty to
ourselves and to posterity--let us not too readily yield to this
temptation--to do so. Our first parents, the great progenitors of the
human race, were not without a like temptation, when in the Garden of
Eden. They were led to believe that their condition would be bettered
--that their eyes would be opened--and that they would become as gods.
They in an evil hour yielded--instead of becoming gods they only saw
their own nakedness.
"I look upon this Country, with our institutions, as the Eden of the
World, the Paradise of the Universe. It may be that out of it we may
become greater and more prosperous, but I am candid and sincere in
telling you that I fear if we rashly evince passion, and without
sufficient cause shall take that step, that instead of becoming greater
or more peaceful, prosperous, and happy--instead of becoming gods, we
will become demons, and at no distant day commence cutting one another's
throats. This is my apprehension.
"Let us, therefore, whatever we do, meet those difficulties, great as
they are, like wise and sensible men, and consider them in the light of
all the consequences which may attend our action. Let us see first
clearly where the path of duty leads, and then we may not fear to tread
Said Senator Wigfall, of Texas, March 4, 1861, in the United States
Senate, only a few hours before Mr. Lincoln's Inauguration:
"I desire to pour oil on the waters, to produce harmony, peace and quiet
here. It is early in the morning, and I hope I shall not say anything
that may be construed as offensive. I rise merely that we may have an
understanding of this question.
"It is not Slavery in the Territories, it is not expansion, which is the
difficulty. If the resolution which the Senator from Wisconsin
introduced here, denying the right of Secession, had been adopted by
two-thirds of each branch of this department of the Government, and had
been ratified by three-fourths of the States, I have no hesitation in
saying that, so far as the State in which I live and to which I owe my
allegiance is concerned, if she had no other cause for a disruption of
the Union taking place, she would undoubtedly have gone out.
[To insert as an additional article of amendment to the
Constitution, the following: "Under this Constitution, as
originally adopted, and as it now exists, no State has power to
withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States: but this
Constitution, and all laws passed in pursuance of its delegated
powers, are the Supreme Law of the Land, anything contained in any
constitution, ordinance, or act of any State, to the contrary
"The moment you deny the right of self-government to the free White men
of the South, they will leave the Government. They believe in the
Declaration of Independence. They believe that:
"'Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from
the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government
becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to
alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its
foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as
to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.'
"That principle of the Declaration of Independence is the one upon which
the free White men of the South predicated their devotion to the present
Constitution of the United States; and it was the denial of that, as
much as anything else, that has created the dissatisfaction in that
Section of the Country.
"There is no instrument of writing that has ever been written that has
been more misapprehended and misunderstood and misrepresented than this
same unfortunate Declaration of Independence, and no set of gentlemen
have ever been so slandered as the fathers who drew and signed that
"If there was a thing on earth that they did not intend to assert, it
was that a Negro was a White man. As I said here, a short time ago, one
of the greatest charges they made against the British Government was,
that old King George was attempting to establish the fact practically
that all men were created Free and Equal. They charged him in the
Declaration of Independence with inciting their Slaves to insurrection.
That is one of the grounds upon which they threw off their allegiance to
the British Parliament.
"Another great misapprehension is, that the men who drafted that
Declaration of Independence had any peculiar fancy for one form of
government rather than another. They were not fighting to establish a
Democracy in this country; they were not fighting to establish a
Republican form of government in this Country. Nothing was further from
"Alexander Hamilton, after he had fought for seven years, declared that
the British form of government was the best that the ingenuity of man
had ever devised; and when John Adams said to him, 'without its
corruptions;' 'Why,' said he, 'its corruptions are its greatest
excellence; without the corruptions, it would be nothing.'
"In the Declaration of Independence, they speak of George III., after
this fashion. They say:
"'A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define
a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free People.'
"Now, I ask any plain common-sense man what was the meaning of that?
Was it that they were opposed to a Monarchical form of government? Was
it that they believed a Monarchical form of government was incompatible
with civil liberty? No, sir; they entertained no such absurd idea.
None of them entertained it; but they say that George III, was a prince
whose character was 'marked by every act which may define a tyrant' and
that therefore he was 'unfit to be the ruler of a free People.' Had his
character not been so marked by every quality which would define a
tyrant, he might have been the fit ruler of a free People; ergo, a
monarchical form of Government was not incompatible with civil liberty.
"That was clearly the opinion of those men. I do not advocate it now;
for I have said frequently that we are wiser than our fathers, and our
children will be wiser than we are. One hundred years hence, men will
understand their own affairs much better than we do. We understand our
affairs better than those who preceded us one hundred years. But what I
assert is, that the men of the Revolution did not believe that a
Monarchical form of Government was incompatible with civil liberty.
"What I assert is, that when they spoke of 'all men being created
equal,' they were speaking of the White men who then had unsheathed
their swords--for what purpose? To establish the right of
self-government in themselves; and when they had achieved that, they
established, not Democracies, but Republican forms of Government in
the thirteen sovereign, separate and independent Colonies. Yet the
Declaration of Independence is constantly quoted to prove Negro
equality. It proves no such thing; it was intended to prove no such
"The 'glittering generalities' which a distinguished former Senator from
Massachusetts (Mr. Choate) spoke of, as contained in the Declaration of
Independence, one of them at least, about all men being created equal
--was not original with Mr. Jefferson. I recollect seeing a pamphlet
called the Principles of the Whigs and Jacobites, published about the
year 1745, when the last of the Stuarts, called 'the Pretender,' was
striking a blow that was fatal to himself, but a blow for his crown, in
which pamphlet the very phraseology is used, word for word and letter
for letter. I have not got it here to-night. I sent the other day to
the Library to try and find it, but could not find it; it was burnt, I
believe, with the pamphlets that were burnt some time ago.
"That Mr. Jefferson copied it or plagiarized it, is not true, I suppose,
any more than the charge that the distinguished Senator from New York
plagiarized from the Federalist in preparing his celebrated compromising
speech which was made here a short time ago. It was the cant phrase of
the day in 1745, which was only about thirty years previous to the
Declaration of Independence. This particular pamphlet, which I have
read, was published; others were published at the same time. That sort
of phraseology was used.
"There was a war of classes in England; there were men who were
contending for legitimacy; who were contending for the right of the
Crown being inherent and depending on the will of God, 'the divine right
of Kings,' for maintaining an hereditary landed-aristocracy; there was
another Party who were contending against this doctrine of legitimacy,
and the right of primogeniture. These were called the Whigs; they
established this general phraseology in denouncing the divine right and
the doctrine of legitimacy, and it became the common phraseology of the
Country; so that in the obscure county of Mecklenburg, in North
Carolina, a declaration containing the same assertions was found as in
this celebrated Declaration of Independence, written by the immortal
"Which of us, I ask, is there upon this floor who has not read and
re-read whatever was written within the last twenty-five or thirty years
by the distinguished men of this country? But enough of that.
"As I said before, there ought not have been, and there did not
necessarily result from our form of Government, any irrepressible
conflict between the Slaveholding and the non-Slaveholding States.
Nothing of the sort was necessary.
"Strike out a single clause in the Constitution of the United States,
that which secures to each State a Republican form of Government, and
there is no reason why, under precisely such a Constitution as we have,
States that are Monarchical and States that are Republican, could not
live in peace and quiet. They confederate together for common defense
and general welfare, each State regulating its domestic concerns in its
own way; those which preferred a Republican form of Government
maintaining it, and those which preferred a Monarchical form of
Government maintaining it.
"But how long could small States, with different forms of Government,
live together, confederated for common defense and general welfare, if
the people of one Section were to come to the conclusion that their
institutions were better than those of the other, and thereupon
straightway set about subverting the institutions of the other?"
In the reply of the Rebel "Commissioners of the Southern Confederacy"
to Mr. Seward, April 9, 1861, they speak of our Government as being
"persistently wedded to those fatal theories of construction of the
Federal Constitution always rejected by the statesmen of the South, and
adhered to by those of the Administration school, until they have
produced their natural and often-predicted result of the destruction of
the Union, under which we might have continued to live happily and
gloriously together, had the spirit of the ancestry who framed the
common Constitution animated the hearts of all their sons."
In the "Address of the people of South Carolina, assembled in
Convention, to the people of the Slaveholding States of the United
States," by which the attempt was made to justify the passage of the
South Carolina Secession Ordinance of 1860, it is declared that:
"Discontent and contention have moved in the bosom of the Confederacy,
for the last thirty-five years. During this time South Carolina has
twice called her people together in solemn Convention, to take into
consideration, the aggressions and unconstitutional wrongs, perpetrated
by the people of the North on the people of the South. These wrongs
were submitted to by the people of the South, under the hope and
expectation that they would be final. But such hope and expectation
have proved to be vain. Instead of producing forbearance, our
acquiescence has only instigated to new forms of aggressions and
outrage; and South Carolina, having again assembled her people in
Convention, has this day dissolved her connection with the States
constituting the United States.
"The one great evil from which all other evils have flowed, is the
overthrow of the Constitution of the United States. The Government of
the United States, is no longer the Government of Confederated
Republics, but of a consolidated Democracy. It is no longer a free
Government, but a Despotism. It is, in fact, such a Government as Great
Britain attempted to set over our Fathers; and which was resisted and
defeated by a seven years struggle for Independence.
"The Revolution of 1776, turned upon one great principle,
self-government,--and self-taxation, the criterion of self-government.
"The Southern States now stand exactly in the same position towards the
Northern States, that the Colonies did towards Great Britain. The
Northern States, having the majority in Congress, claim the same power
of omnipotence in legislation as the British Parliament. 'The General
Welfare' is the only limit to the legislation of either; and the
majority in Congress, as in the British Parliament, are the sole judges
of the expediency of the legislation this 'General Welfare' requires.
Thus the Government of the United States has become a consolidated
Government; and the people of the Southern States are compelled to meet
the very despotism their fathers threw off in the Revolution of 1776.
"The consolidation of the Government of Great Britain over the Colonies,
was attempted to be carried out by the taxes. The British Parliament
undertook to tax the Colonies to promote British interests. Our fathers
resisted this pretension. They claimed the right of self-taxation
through their Colonial Legislatures. They were not represented in the
British Parliament, and, therefore, could not rightly be taxed by its
legislation. The British Government, however, offered them a
representation in Parliament; but it was not sufficient to enable them
to protect themselves from the majority, and they refused the offer.
Between taxation without any representation, and taxation without a
representation adequate to protection, there was no difference. In
neither case would the Colonies tax themselves. Hence, they refused to
pay the taxes laid by the British Parliament.
"And so with the Southern States, towards the Northern States, in the
vital matter of taxation. They are in a minority in Congress. Their
representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust
taxation; and they are taxed by the people of the North for their
benefit, exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in
the British Parliament for their benefit. For the last forty years, the
taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a
view of subserving the interests of the North. The people of the South
have been taxed by duties on imports, not for revenue, but for an object
inconsistent with revenue--to promote, by prohibitions, Northern
interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.
"There is another evil, in the condition of the Southern towards the
Northern States, which our ancestors refused to bear towards Great
Britain. Our ancestors not only taxed themselves, but all the taxes
collected from them were expended amongst them. Had they submitted to
the pretensions of the British Government, the taxes collected from
them, would have been expended in other parts of the British Empire.
They were fully aware of the effect of such a policy in impoverishing
the people from whom taxes are collected, and in enriching those who
receive the benefit of their expenditure.
"To prevent the evils of such a policy, was one of the motives which
drove them on to Revolution, yet this British policy has been fully
realized towards the Southern States, by the Northern States. The
people of the Southern States are not only taxed for the benefit of the
Northern States, but after the taxes are collected, three fourths of
them are expended at the North. This cause, with others, connected with
the operation of the General Government, has made the cities of the
South provincial. Their growth is paralyzed; they are mere suburbs of
Northern cities. The agricultural productions of the South are the
basis of the foreign commerce of the United States; yet Southern cities
do not carry it on. Our foreign trade is almost annihilated. * * *
"No man can for a moment believe, that our ancestors intended to
establish over their posterity, exactly the same sort of Government they
had overthrown. * * * Yet by gradual and steady encroachments on the
part of the people of the North, and acquiescence on the part of the
South, the limitations in the Constitution have been swept away; and the
Government of the United States has become consolidated, with a claim of
limitless powers in its operations. * * *
"A majority in Congress, according to their interested and perverted
views, is omnipotent. * * * Numbers with them, is the great element of
free Government. A majority is infallible and omnipotent. 'The right
divine to rule in Kings,' is only transferred to their majority. The
very object of all Constitutions, in free popular Government, is to
restrain the majority. Constitutions, therefore, according to their
theory, must be most unrighteous inventions, restricting liberty. None
ought to exist; but the body politic ought simply to have a political
organization, to bring out and enforce the will of the majority. This
theory is a remorseless despotism. In resisting it, as applicable to
ourselves, we are vindicating the great cause of free Government, more
important, perhaps, to the World, than the existence of all the United
In his Special Message to the Confederate Congress at Montgomery, April
29, 1861, Mr. Jefferson Davis said:
"From a period as early as 1798, there had existed in all the States a
Party, almost uninterruptedly in the majority, based upon the creed that
each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge, as well of its
wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. * * * The Democratic
Party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvas of 1836,
the declaration, made in numerous previous political contests, that it
would faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the
Kentucky and Virginia Legislatures of [1798 and] 1799, and that it
adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of
its political creed."
In a letter addressed by the Rebel Commissioners in London (Yancey, Rost
and Mann), August 14, 1861, to Lord John Russell, Secretary of Foreign
Affairs, it appears that they said: "It was from no fear that the Slaves
would be liberated, that Secession took place. The very Party in power
has proposed to guarantee Slavery forever in the States, if the South
would but remain in the Union." On the 4th of May preceding, Lord John
had received these Commissioners at his house; and in a letter of May
11, 1861, wrote, from the Foreign Office, to Lord Lyons, the British
Minister at Washington, a letter, in which, alluding to his informal
communication with them, he said: "One of these gentlemen, speaking for
the others, dilated on the causes which had induced the Southern States
to Secede from the Northern. The principal of these causes, he said,
was not Slavery, but the very high price which, for the sake of
Protecting the Northern manufacturers, the South were obliged to pay for
the manufactured goods which they required. One of the first acts of
the Southern Congress was to reduce these duties, and to prove their
sincerity he gave as an instance that Louisiana had given up altogether
that Protection on her sugar which she enjoyed by the legislation of the
United States. As a proof of the riches of the South. He stated that
of $350,000,000 of exports of produce to foreign countries $270,000,000
were furnished by the Southern States." * * * They pointed to the new
Tariff of the United States as a proof that British manufactures would
be nearly excluded from the North, and freely admitted in the South.
This may be as good a place as any other to say a few words touching
another alleged "cause" of Secession. During the exciting period just
prior to the breaking out of the great War of the Rebellion, the
Slave-holding and Secession-nursing States of the South, made a terrible
hubbub over the Personal Liberty Bills of the Northern States. And when
Secession came, many people of the North supposed these Bills to be the
prime, if not the only real cause of it. Not so. They constituted, as
we now know, only a part of the mere pretext. But, none the less, they
constituted a portion of the history of that eventful time, and cannot
be altogether ignored.
In order then, that the reader may quickly grasp, not only the general
nature, but also the most important details of the Personal Liberty
Bills (in force, in 1860, in many of the Free States) so frequently
alluded to in the Debates of Congress, in speeches on the stump, and in
the fulminations of Seceding States and their authorized agents,
commissioners, and representatives, it may be well now, briefly to refer
to them, and to state that no such laws existed in California, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Oregon.
Those of Maine provided that no officer of the State should in any way
assist in the arrest or detention of a Fugitive Slave, and made it the
duty of county attorneys to defend the Fugitive Slave against the claim
of his master. A Bill to repeal these laws passed the Maine Senate, but
failed in the House.
That of Massachusetts provided for commissioners in each county to
defend alleged Fugitives from Service or Labor; for payment by the
Commonwealth of all expenses of defense; prohibited the issue or service
of process by State officers for arrest of alleged Fugitives, or the use
of any prisons in the State for their detention, or that of any person
aiding their escape; prohibited the kidnapping or removal of alleged
Fugitive Slaves by any person; prohibited all officers within the State,
down to Town officers, from arresting, imprisoning, detaining or
returning to Service "any Person for the reason that he is claimed or
adjudged to be a Fugitive from Service or Labor"--all such prohibitions
being enforced by heavy fines and imprisonment. The Act of March 25,
1861, materially modified and softened the above provisions.
New Hampshire's law, provided that all Slaves entering the State with
consent of the master shall be Free, and made the attempt to hold any
person as a Slave within the State a felony.
Vermont's, prescribed that no process under the Fugitive Slave Law
should be recognized by any of her Courts, officers, or citizens; nor
any aid given in arresting or removing from the State any Person claimed
as a Fugitive Slave; provided counsel for alleged Fugitives; for the
issue of habeas corpus and trial by jury of issues of fact between the
parties; ordained Freedom to all within the State who may have been held
as Slaves before coming into it, and prescribed heavy penalties for any
attempt to return any such to Slavery. A bill to repeal these laws,
proposed November, 1860, in the Vermont House of Representatives, was
beaten by two to one.
Connecticut's, provided that there must be two witnesses to prove that a
Person is a Slave; that depositions are not evidence; that false
testifying in Fugitive Slave cases shall be punishable by fine of $5,000
and five years in State prison.
In New Jersey, the only laws touching the subject, permitted persons
temporarily sojourning in the State to bring and hold their Slaves, and
made it the duty of all State officers to aid in the recovery of
Fugitives from Service.
In Pennsylvania, barring an old dead-letter Statute, they simply
prohibited any interference by any of the Courts, Aldermen, or Justices
of the Peace, of the Commonwealth, with the functions of the
Commissioner appointed under the United States Statute in Fugitive Slave
In Michigan, the law required States' attorneys to defend Fugitive
Slaves; prescribed the privileges of habeas corpus and jury trial for
all such arrested; prohibited the use of prisons of the State for their
detention; required evidence of two credible witnesses as to identity;
and provided heavy penalties of fine and imprisonment for the seizure of
any Free Person, with intent to have such Person held in Slavery. A
Bill to repeal the Michigan law was defeated in the House by about two
Wisconsin's Personal Liberty law was similar to that of Michigan, but
with this addition, that no judgment recovered against any person in
that State for violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 should be
enforced by sale or execution of any real or personal property in that
That of Rhode Island, forbade the carrying away of any Person by force
out of the State; forbade the official aiding in the arrest or detention
of a Fugitive Slave; and denied her jails to the United States for any
Apropos of this subject, and before leaving it, it may be well to quote
remarks of Mr. Simons of Rhode Island, in the United States Senate.
Said he: "Complaint has been made of Personal Liberty Bills. Now, the
Massachusetts Personal Liberty Bill was passed by a Democratic House, a
Democratic Senate, and signed by a Democratic Governor, a man who was
afterwards nominated by Mr. Polk for the very best office in New
England, and was unanimously confirmed by a Democratic United States
Senate. Further than this, the very first time the attention of the
Massachusetts Legislature was called to the propriety of a repeal of
this law was by a Republican Governor. Now, on the other hand, South
Carolina had repealed a law imprisoning British colored sailors, but
retained the one imprisoning those coming from States inhabited by her
These Personal Liberty Bills were undoubtedly largely responsible for
some of the irritation on the Slavery question preceding open
hostilities between the Sections. But President Lincoln sounded the
real depths of the Rebellion when he declared it to be a War upon the
rights of the People. In his First Annual Message, December 3, 1861, he
"It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not
exclusively, a War upon the first principle of popular government--the
rights of the People. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most
grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the
general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the
abridgment of the existing right of suffrage, and the denial to the
People of all right to participate in the selection of public officers,
except the legislative, boldly advocated, with labored arguments to
prove that large control of the People in government is the source of
all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a
possible refuge from the power of the People.
"In my present position, I could scarcely be justified were I to omit
raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.
"It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be
made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its
connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask brief
attention. It is the effort to place Capital on an equal footing with,
if not above Labor, in the structure of the Government.
"It is assumed that Labor is available only in connection with Capital;
that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning Capital, somehow by the
use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered
whether it is best that Capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce
them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it
without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally
concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call
Slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer
is fixed in that condition for life.
"Now, there is no such relation between Capital and Labor as assumed;
nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life, in the
condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all
inferences from them are groundless.
"Labor is prior to, and independent of Capital. Capital is only the
fruit of Labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first
existed. Labor is the superior of Capital, and deserves much the higher
consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of
protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and
probably always will be, a relation between Labor and Capital, producing
mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole Labor of the
community exists within that relation.
"A few men own Capital, and that few, avoid labor themselves, and with
their Capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large
majority belong to neither class--neither work for others, nor have
others working for them.
"In most of the Southern States, a majority of the whole people of all
colors are neither Slaves nor masters; while in the Northern, a large
majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men with their families--wives,
sons, and daughters--work for themselves, on their farms, in their
houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and
asking no favors of Capital on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or
Slaves on the other.
"It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their
own Labor with Capital--that is they labor with their own hands, and
also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed, and
not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence
of this mixed class.
"Again, as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, any such
thing as the free hired-laborer being fixed to that condition for life.
Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in
their lives, were hired laborers.
"The prudent, penniless beginner in the World, labors for wages awhile,
saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors
on his own account another while, and at length hires another new
beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous
system, which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent
energy and progress, and improvement of condition to all.
"No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from
poverty--none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not
honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power
which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be
used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix
new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of Liberty shall be
lost. * * * The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day-it is
a vast future also. * * * "
So too, Andrew Johnson, in his speech before the Senate, January 31,
1862, spake well and truly when he said that "there has been a
deliberate design for years to change the nature and character and
genius of this Government." And he added: "Do we not know that these
schemers have been deliberately at work, and that there is a Party in
the South, with some associates in the North, and even in the West, that
have become tired of Free Government, in which they have lost
Said he: "They raise an outcry against 'Coercion,' that they may
paralyze the Government, cripple the exercise of the great powers with
which it was invested, finally to change its form and subject us to a
Southern despotism. Do we not know it to be so? Why disguise this
great truth? Do we not know that they have been anxious for a change of
Government for years? Since this Rebellion commenced it has manifested
itself in many quarters.
"How long is it since the organ of the Government at Richmond, the
Richmond Whig, declared that rather than live under the Government of
the United States, they preferred to take the Constitutional Queen of
Great Britain as their protector; that they would make an alliance with
Great Britain for the purpose of preventing the enforcement of the Laws
of the United States. Do we not know this?"
Stephen A. Douglas also, in his great Union speech at Chicago, May 1,
1861--only a few days before his lamented death-said:
"The election of Mr. Lincoln is a mere pretext. The present Secession
movement is the result of an enormous Conspiracy formed more than a year
since formed by leaders in the Southern Confederacy more than twelve
months ago. They use the Slavery question as a means to aid the
accomplishment of their ends. They desired the election of a Northern
candidate by a Sectional vote, in order to show that the two Sections
cannot live together.
"When the history of the two years from the Lecompton question down to
the Presidential election shall be written, it will be shown that the
scheme was deliberately made to break up this Union.
"They desired a Northern Republican to be elected by a purely Northern
vote, and then assign this fact as a reason why the Sections cannot live
together. If the Disunion candidate--(Breckinridge) in the late
Presidential contest had carried the united South, their scheme was, the
Northern candidate successful, to seize the Capital last Spring, and by
a united South and divided North, hold it.
"Their scheme was defeated, in the defeat of the Disunion candidates in
several of the Southern States.
"But this is no time for a detail of causes. The Conspiracy is now
known; Armies have been raised. War is levied to accomplish it. There
are only two sides to the question.
"Every man must be for the United States, or against it. There can be
no Neutrals in this War; only Patriots or Traitors! [Cheer after
In a speech made in the United States Senate, January 31, 1862, Senator
McDougall of California--conceded to be intellectually the peer of any
man in that Body--said:
"We are at War. How long have we been at War? We have been engaged in
a war of opinion, according to my historical recollection, since 1838.
There has been a Systematic organized war against the Institutions
established by our fathers, since 1832. This is known of all men who
have read carefully the history of our Country. If I had the leisure,
or had consulted the authorities, I would give it year by year, and date
by date, from that time until the present, how men adversary to our
Republican Institutions have been organizing War against us, because
they did not approve of our Republican Institutions.
"Before the Mexican War, it is well known that General Quitman, then
Governor of Mississippi, was organizing to produce the same condition of
things (and he hoped a better condition of things, for he hoped a
successful Secession), to produce this same revolution that is now
disturbing our whole Land. The War with Mexico, fighting for a Southern
proposition, for which I fought myself, made the Nation a unit until
1849; and then again they undertook an Organization to produce
Revolution. These things are history. This statement is true, and
cannot be denied among intelligent men anywhere, and cannot be denied in
"The great men who sat in Council in this Hall, the great men of the
Nation, men whose equals are not, and I fear will not be for many years,
uniting their judgments, settled the controversy in 1850. They did not
settle it for the Conspirators of the South, for they were not parties
to the compact. Clay and Webster, and the great men who united with
them, had no relation with the extremes of either extreme faction. The
Compromise was made, and immediately after it had been effected, again
commenced the work of organization. I had the honor to come from my
State on the Pacific into the other branch of the Federal Congress, and
there I learned as early as 1853, that the work of Treason was as
industriously pursued as it is being pursued to-day. I saw it; I felt
it; I knew it. I went home to the shores of the Pacific instructed
somewhat on this subject.
"Years passed by. I engaged in my duties as a simple professional man,
not connected with public affairs. The question of the last
Presidential election arose before the Country--one of those great
questions that are not appreciated, I regret from my heart, by the
American Nation, when we elect a President, a man who has more power for
his time than any enthroned Monarch in Europe. We organize a Government
and place him in front as the head and the Chief of the Government.
That question came before the American People.
"At that time I was advised of this state of feeling--and I will state
it in as exact form of words as I can state it, that it may be
understood by Senators: Mr. Douglas is a man acceptable to the South.
Mr. Douglas is a man to whom no one has just cause of exception
throughout the South. Mr. Douglas is more acceptable to Mississippi and
Louisiana than Mr. Breckinridge. Mr. Breckinridge is not acceptable to
the South; or at least, if he is so, he is not in the same degree with
Mr. Douglas. Mr. Douglas is the accepted man of a great National Party,
and if he is brought into the field he will be triumphantly elected.
THAT MUST NOT BE DONE, because THE ORGANIZATION FOR SECESSION IS
MATURED. EVERYTHING IS PREPARED, and the election of Mr. Douglas would
only postpone it for four years; and Now when we are PREPARED to carry
out these things WE MUST INDULGE IN STRATAGEM, and the nomination of Mr.
Breckinridge is a mere strategic movement to divide the great
conservative Party of the Nation into two, so as to elect a Republican
candidate AND CONSOLIDATE THE SOUTH BY THE CRY OF 'ABOLITIONIST!'
"That is a mere simple statement of the truth, and it cannot be
contradicted. Now, in that scheme all the men of counsel of that Party
were engaged. * * * I, on the far shores of the Pacific understood
those things as long ago as a year last September (1860). I was advised
about this policy and well informed of it. * * *
"I was at war, in California, in January (1861) last; in the maintenance
of the opinions that I am now maintaining, I had to go armed to protect
myself from violence. The country, whenever there was controversy, was
agitated to its deepest foundations. That is known, perhaps, not to
gentlemen who live up in Maine or Massachusetts, or where you are
foreign to all this agitation; but known to all people where disturbance
might have been effective in consequences. I felt it, and had to carry
my life in my hand by the month, as did my friends surrounding me.
"I say that all through last winter (that of 1860-61) War had been
inaugurated in all those parts of the Country where disturbed elements
could have efficient result. In January (1861), a year ago, I stood in
the hall of the House of Representatives of my State, and there was War
then, and angry faces and hostile men were gathered; and we knew then
well that the Southern States had determined to withdraw themselves from
the Federal Union.
"I happened to be one of those men who said, 'they shall not do it;' and
it appears to me that the whole argument is between that class of men
and the class of men who said they would let them do it. * * * When
this doctrine was started here of disintegrating the Cotton States from
the rest of the Confederacy, I opposed it at once. I saw immediately
that War was to be invoked. * * *
"I will not say these things were understood by gentlemen of the
Republican Party * * * but I, having been accepted and received as a
Democrat of the old school from the olden time, and HAVING FAST SOUTHERN
SYMPATHIES, I DID KNOW ALL ABOUT THEM. * * * I KNOW THAT SECESSION WAS A
THING DETERMINED UPON. * * * I was advised of and understood the whole
programme, KNEW HOW IT WAS TO BE DONE IN ITS DETAILS; and I being
advised, made war against it. * * *
"War had been, in fact, inaugurated. What is War? Was it the firing on
our flag at Sumter? Was that the first adversary passage? To say so,
is trifling with men's judgments and information. No, sir; when they
organized a Government, and set us at defiance, they commenced War; and
the various steps they took afterwards, by organizing their troops, and
forming their armies, and advancing upon Sumter; all these were merely
acts of War; but War was inaugurated whenever they undertook to say they
would maintain themselves as a separate and independent government; and,
after that time, every man who gave his assistance to them was a
Traitor, according to the highest Law."
The following letter, written by one of the most active of the Southern
conspirators in 1858, during the great Douglas and Lincoln Debate of
that year, to which extended reference has already been made, is of
interest in this connection, not only as corroborative evidence of the
fact that the Rebellion of the Cotton States had been determined on long
before Mr. Lincoln was elected President, but as showing also that the
machinery for "firing the Southern heart" and for making a "solid South"
was being perfected even then. The subsequent split in the Democratic
Party, and nomination of Breckinridge by the Southern wing of it, was
managed by this same Yancey, simply as parts of the deliberate programme
of Secession and Rebellion long before determined on by the Cotton Lords
of the Cotton States.
"MONTGOMERY, June 15, 1858.
"DEAR SIR:--Your kind favor of the 13th is received.
"I hardly agree with you that a general movement can be made that will
clean out the Augean Stable. If the Democracy were overthrown it would
result in giving place to a greedier and hungrier swarm of flies.
"The remedy of the South is not in such a process. It is in a diligent
organization of her true men for prompt resistance to the next
aggression. It must come in the nature of things. No National Party
can save us. No Sectional Party can ever do it. But if we could do as
our fathers did--organize 'Committees of Safety' all over the Cotton
States (and it is only in them that we can hope for any effective
movement), we shall fire the Southern heart, instruct the Southern mind,
give courage to each other, and at the proper moment, by one organized,
concerted action, we can precipitate the Cotton States into a
"The idea has been shadowed forth in the South by Mr. Ruffin; has been
taken up and recommended in the Advertiser under the name of 'League of
United Southerners,' who, keeping up their old relations on all other
questions, will hold the Southern issues paramount, and influence
parties, legislatures and statesmen. I have no time to enlarge, but to
"In haste, yours, etc.
"W. L. YANCEY.
"To JAMES S. SLAUGHTER."
At Jackson, Mississippi, in the fall of the same year (1858) just after
the great Debate between Douglas and Lincoln had closed, Jefferson Davis
had already raised the standard of Revolution, Secession and Disunion,
during the course of a speech, in which he said: "If an Abolitionist be
chosen President of the United States, you will have presented to you
the question of whether you will permit the Government to pass into the
hands of your avowed and implacable enemies? Without pausing for an
answer, I will state my own position to be, that such a result would be
a species of revolution by which the purposes of the Government would be
destroyed, and the observance of its mere forms entitled to no respect.
In that event, in such a manner as should be most expedient, I should
deem it your duty to provide for your safety, outside of the Union with
those who have already shown the will, and would have acquired the power
to deprive you of your birthright, and to reduce you to worse than the
Colonial dependence of your fathers."
The "birthright" thus referred to was of course, the alleged right to
have Slaves; but what was this "worse than Colonial dependence" to
which, in addition to the peril supposed to threaten the Southern
"birthright," the Cotton States of Mississippi were reduced?
"Dependence" upon whom, and with regard to what? Plainly upon the
North; and with regard, not to Slavery alone--for Jefferson Davis held,
down to the very close of the War, that the South fought "not for
Slavery"--but as to Tariff Legislation also. There was the rub! These
Cotton Lords believed, or pretended to believe, that the High Tariff
Legislation, advocated and insisted upon both by the Whigs and
Republicans for the Protection of the American Manufacturer and working
man, built up and made prosperous the North, and elevated Northern
laborers; at the expense of the South, and especially themselves, the
Cotton Lords aforesaid.
We have already seen from the utterances of leading men in the South
Carolina, Secession Convention, "that"--as Governor Hicks, himself a
Southern man, said in his address to the people of Maryland, after
the War broke out "neither the election of Mr. Lincoln, nor the
non-execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, nor both combined, constitute
their grievances. They declare that THE REAL CAUSE of their discontent
DATES AS FAR BACK AS 1833."
And what was the chief cause or pretext for discontent at that time?
Nothing less than the Tariff. They wanted Free Trade, as well as
Slavery. The balance of the Union wanted Protection, as well as
The subsequent War, then, was not a War waged for Slavery alone, but for
Independence with a view to Free Trade, as set forth in the "Confederate
Constitution," as soon as that Independence could be achieved. And the
War on our part, while for the integrity of the Union in all its parts
--for the life of the Nation itself, and for the freedom of man, should
also have brought the triumph of the American idea of a Protective
Tariff, whose chief object is the building up of American manufactures
and the Protection of the Free working-man, in the essential matters of
education, food, clothing, rents, wages, and work.
It is mentioned in McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 392, that in
a letter making public his reasons for going to Washington and taking
his seat in Congress, Mr. James L. Pugh, a Representative from Alabama,
November 24, 1860, said: "The sole object of my visit is to promote the
cause of Secession."
From the manner in which they acted after reaching Washington, it is not
unreasonable to suppose that most of those persons representing, in both
branches of Congress, the Southern States which afterwards seceded, came
to the National Capital with a similar object in view--taking their
salaries and mileages for services supposed to be performed for the
benefit of the very Government they were conspiring to injure, and
swearing anew the sacred oath to support and defend the very
Constitution which they were moving heaven and earth to undermine and
[As a part of the history of those times, the following letter is
not without interest:
"OXFORD, December 24, 1860.
"MY DEAR SIR:--I regretted having to leave Washington without
having with you a full conference as to the great events whose
shadows are upon us. The result of the election here is what the
most sanguine among us expected; that is, its general result is so.
It is as yet somewhat difficult to determine the distinctive
complexion of the convention to meet on the 7th of January. The
friends of Southern Independence, of firm and bona fide resistance,
won an overwhelming victory; but I doubt whether there is any
"No doubt a large majority of the Convention will be for separate
Secession. But unless intervening events work important changes of
sentiment, not all of those elected as resistance men will be for
immediate and separate Secession. Our friends in Pontotoc, Tippah,
De Soto and Pauola took grounds which fell far short of that idea,
though their resolutions were very firm in regard to Disunion and
an ultimate result.
"In the meantime the Disunion sentiment among the people is growing
every day more intense.
"Upon the whole, you have great cause for gratification in the
action of your State.
"The submissionists are routed, horse, foot, and dragoons, and any
concession by the North will fail to restore that sacred attachment
to the Union which was once so deeply radicated in the hearts of
our people. What they want now, is wise and sober leading. I
think that there might be more of dignity and prudent foresight in
the action of our State than have marked the proceedings of South
Carolina. I have often rejoiced that we have you to rest upon and
confide in. I do not know what we could do without you. That God
may preserve you to us, and that your mind may retain all its vigor
to carry us through these perilous times, is my most fervent
"I am as ever, and forever, your supporter, ally and friend.
"L. Q. C. LAMAR.
"COL. JEFF. DAVIS, Washington, D. C."]
This was but a part of the deliberate, cold-blooded plan mapped out in
detail, early in the session succeeding the election of Mr. Lincoln, in
a secret Caucus of the Chief Plotters of the Treason. It was a secret
conference, but the programme resolved on, soon leaked out.
The following, which appeared in the Washington National Intelligencer
on Friday, January 11, 1861, tells the story of this stage of the Great
Conspiracy pretty clearly:
"The subjoined communication, disclosing the designs of those who have
undertaken to lead the movement now threatening a permanent dissolution
of the Union, comes to us from a distinguished citizen of the South
[understood to be Honorable Lemuel D. Evans, Representative from Texas
in the 34th Congress, from March 4, 1855, to March 3, 1857] who formerly
represented his State with great distinction in the popular branch of
"Temporarily sojourning in this city he has become authentically
informed of the facts recited in the subjoined letter, which he
communicates to us under a sense of duty, and for the accuracy of which
he makes himself responsible.
"Nothing but assurances coming from such an intelligent, reliable source
could induce us to accept the authenticity of these startling
statements, which so deeply concern not only the welfare but the honor
of the Southern people.
"To them we submit, without present comment, the programme to which they
are expected to yield their implicit adhesion, without any scruples of
conscience as without any regard for their own safety.
"'WASHINGTON, January 9, 1861.
"'I charge that on last Saturday night (January 5th), a Caucus was held
in this city by the Southern Secession Senators from Florida, Georgia,
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. It was then and
there resolved in effect to assume to themselves the political power of
the South, and, to control all political and military operations for the
present, they telegraphed to complete the plan of seizing forts,
arsenals, and custom-houses, and advised the Conventions now in session,
and soon to assemble, to pass Ordinances for immediate Secession; but,
in order to thwart any operations of the Government here, the
Conventions of the Seceding States are to retain their representations
in the Senate and the House.
"'They also advised, ordered, or directed the assembling of a Convention
of delegates from the Seceding States at Montgomery on the 13th of
February. This can of course only be done by the revolutionary
Conventions usurping the powers of the people, and sending delegates
over whom they will lose all control in the establishment of a
Provisional Government, which is the plan of the dictators.
"'This Caucus also resolved to take the most effectual means to dragoon
the Legislatures of Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and
Virginia into following the Seceding States. Maryland is also to be
influenced by such appeals to popular passion as have led to the
revolutionary steps which promise a conflict with the State and Federal
Governments in Texas.
"'They have possessed themselves of all the avenues of information in
the South--the telegraph, the press, and the general control of the
postmasters. They also confidently rely upon defections in the army and
"'The spectacle here presented is startling to contemplate. Senators
entrusted with the representative sovereignty of the States, and sworn
to support the Constitution of the United States, while yet acting as
the privy councillors of the President, and anxiously looked to by their
constituents to effect some practical plan of adjustment, deliberately
conceive a Conspiracy for the overthrow of the Government through the
military organizations, the dangerous secret order, the 'Knights of the
Golden Circle,' 'Committees of Safety,' Southern leagues, and other
agencies at their command; they have instituted as thorough a military
and civil despotism as ever cursed a maddened Country.
"'It is not difficult to foresee the form of government which a
Convention thus hurriedly thrown together at Montgomery will irrevocably
fasten upon a deluded and unsuspecting people. It must essentially be
'a Monarchy founded upon military principles,' or it cannot endure.
Those who usurp power never fail to forge strong chains.
"'It may be too late to sound the alarm. Nothing may be able to arrest
the action of revolutionary tribunals whose decrees are principally in
'secret sessions.' But I call upon the people to pause and reflect
before they are forced to surrender every principle of liberty, or to
fight those who are becoming their masters rather than their servants.
"As confirming the intelligence furnished by our informant we may cite
the following extract from the Washington correspondence of yesterday's
"'The leaders of the Southern movement are consulting as to the best
mode of consolidating their interests into a Confederacy under a
Provisional Government. The plan is to make Senator Hunter, of
Virginia, Provisional President, and Jefferson Davis Commander-in-Chief
of the army of defense. Mr. Hunter possesses in a more eminent degree
the philosophical characteristics of Jefferson than any other statesman
now living. Colonel Davis is a graduate of West Point, was
distinguished for gallantry at Buena Vista, and served as Secretary of
War under President Pierce, and is not second to General Scott in
military science or courage.'
"As further confirmatory of the above, the following telegraphic
dispatch in the Charleston Mercury of January 7, 1861, is given:
"'[From our Own Correspondent.]
"'WASHINGTON, January 6.--The Senators from those of the Southern States
which have called Conventions of their people, met in caucus last night,
and adopted the following resolutions:
"'Resolved, That we recommend to our respective States immediate
"'Resolved, That we recommend the holding of a General Convention of the
said States, to be holden in the city of Montgomery, Alabama, at some
period not later than the 15th day of February, 1861.'
"These resolutions were telegraphed this evening to the Conventions of
Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. A third resolution is also known to
have been adopted, but it is of a confidential character, not to be
divulged at present. There was a good deal of discussion in the caucus
on the question of whether the Seceding States ought to continue their
delegations in Congress till the 4th of March, to prevent unfriendly
legislation, or whether the Representatives of the Seceding States
should all resign together, and leave a clear field for the opposition
to pass such bills, looking to Coercion, as they may see fit. It is
believed that the opinion that they should remain prevailed."
Furthermore, upon the capture of Fernandina, Florida, in 1862, the
following letter was found and published. Senator Yulee, the writer,
was present and participated as one of the Florida Senators, in the
traitorous "Consultation" therein referred to--and hence its especial
"WASHINGTON, January 7, 1861.
"My DEAR SIR:--On the other side is a copy of resolutions adopted at a
consultation of the Senators from the Seceding States--in which Georgia,
Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida were
"The idea of the meeting was that the States should go out at once, and
provide for the early organization of a Confederate Government, not
later than 15th February. This time is allowed to enable Louisiana and
Texas to participate. It seemed to be the opinion that if we left here,
force, loan, and volunteer Bills might be passed, which would put Mr.
Lincoln in immediate condition for hostilities; whereas, by remaining in
our places until the 4th of March, it is thought we can keep the hands
of Mr. Buchanan tied, and disable the Republicans from effecting any
legislation which will strengthen the hands of the incoming
"The resolutions will be sent by the delegation to the President of the
Convention. I have not been able to find Mr. Mallory (his Senatorial
colleague) this morning. Hawkins (Representative from Florida) is in
Connecticut. I have therefore thought it best to send you this copy of
"In haste, yours truly
"D. L. YULEE.
"JOSEPH FINEGAN, Esq.,
"'Sovereignty Convention,' Tallahassee, Fla."
The resolutions "on the other side" of this letter, to which he refers,
are as follows:
"Resolved, 1--That in our opinion each of the Southern States should, as
soon as may be, Secede from the Union.
"Resolved, 2--That provision should be made for a Convention to organize
a Confederacy of the Seceding States, the Convention to meet not later
than the 15th of February, at the city of Montgomery, in the State of
"Resolved, That in view of the hostile legislation that is threatened
against the Seceding States, and which may be consummated before the 4th
of March, we ask instructions whether the delegations are to remain in
Congress until that date for the purpose of defeating such legislation.
"Resolved, That a committee be and are hereby appointed, consisting of
Messrs. Davis, Slidell, and Mallory, to carry out the objects of this
In giving this letter to the World--from its correspondent accompanying
the expedition--the New York Times of March 15, 1862, made these
forcible and clear-headed comments:
"The telegraphic columns of the Times of January 7, 1861, contained the
following Washington dispatch: 'The Southern Senators last night
(January 5th) held a conference, and telegraphed to the Conventions of
their respective States to advise immediate Secession.' Now, the
present letter is a report by Mr. Yulee, who was present at this
'consultation' as he calls it, of the resolutions adopted on this
occasion, transmitted to the said Finegan, who by the way, was a member
of the 'Sovereign Convention' of Florida, then sitting in the town of
"It will thus be seen that this remarkable letter, which breathes
throughout the spirit of the Conspirator, in reality lets us into one of
the most important of the numerous Secret Conclaves which the Plotters
of Treason then held in the Capital. It was then, as it appears, that
they determined to strike the blow and precipitate their States into
Secession. But at the same time they resolved that it would be
imprudent for them openly to withdraw, as in that case Congress might
pass 'force, loan, and volunteer bills,' which would put Mr. Lincoln in
immediate condition for hostilities. No, no! that would not do. (So
much patriotic virtue they half suspected, half feared, was left in the