« PreviousContinue »
MR. SEWARD'S "MEMORANDUM" REPLY.
withdrawn from the United States and reassumed the attributes of sovereign power delegated to it, have formed a Government of their own. The Confederate States constitute an independent nation, de jure and de facto, and possess a Government perfect in all its parts, and endowed with all the means of self-support.
Mr. Seward's "Memorandum" Reply.
"In that communication Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford inform the Secretary of State that they have been duly accredited by the Government of the Confederate States of America as Commissioners to the Government of the United States, and they set forth the objects of their attendance at Washington. They observe that seven States of the American Union, in the exercise of a right inherent in every free people, have withdrawn, through Conventions of their people, from the United States, reassumed the attributes of sovereign
"With a view to a speedy adjustment of all questions growing out of this political separation, upon such terms of amity and good-will as the respective interests, geographical contiguity, and future welfare of the two nations may render necessary, the undersigned are instructed to make to the Gov-power, and formed a Government of their own, and ernment of the United States overtures for the opening of negotiations, assuring the Government of the United States that the President, Congress, and people of the Confederate States earnestly desire a peaceful solution of these great questions; that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make any demand which is not founded in the strictest justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.
that those Confederate States now constitute an independent nation, de facto and de jure, and possess a Government perfect in all its parts, and fully endowed with all the means of self-support.
"Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford, in their aforesaid communication, thereupon proceeded to inform the Secretary that, with a view to a speedy adjustment of all questions growing out of the political separation thus assumed, upon such terms of amity and good-will as the respective interests, geographical contiguity, and the future welfare of the supposed two nations might render necessary, they are instructed to make to the Government of the United States overtures for the opening of negotiations, assuring this Government that the President, Congress, and people of the Confederate States earnestly desire a peaceful solution of these great qustions, and that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make any demand which is not founded in strictest justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.
"After making these statements, Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford close their communication, as they say, in obedience to the instructions of their Government, by requesting the Secretary of State to appoint as early a day as possible, in order that they may present to the President of the United States the credentials which they bear and the objects of the mission with which they are charged.
"The Secretary of State frankly confesses that he understands the events which have recently occurred, and the condition of political affairs which act
"DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, March 15th, 1861. "Mr. John Forsythe, of the State of Alabama, and Mr. Martin J. Crawford, of the State of Georgia, on the 11th inst., through the kind offices of a dis-ually exists in the part of the Union to which his attinguished Senator, submitted to the Secretary of tention has thus been directed, very differently from State their desire for an unofficial interview. This the aspect in which they are presented by Messrs. request was, on the 12th inst., upon exclusively pub Forsythe and Crawford. He sees in them, not a lic consideration, respectfully declined. rightful and accomplished revolution and an inde“On the 13th inst., while the Secretary was pre-pendent nation, with an established Government, occupied, Mr. A. D. Banks, of Virginia, called at but rather a perversion of a temporary and partisan this Department, and was received by the Assistant excitement to the inconsiderate purposes of an unSecretary, to whom he delivered a sealed communi- | justifiable and unconstitutional aggression upon the cation, which he had been charged by Messrs. For-rights and the authority vested in the Federal Govsytle and Crawford to present the Secretary in ernment, and hitherto benignly exercised, as from their very nature they always must so be exercised,
for the maintenance of the Mr. Seward's "MemUnion, the preservation of liborandum" Reply. erty, and the security, peace, welfare, happiness, and aggrandizement of the American people. The Secretary of State, therefore, avows to Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford that he looks patiently but confidently for the cure of evils which have resulted from proceedings so unnecessary, so unwise, so unusual, and so unnatural, not to irregular negotiations, having in view new and untried relations with agencies unknown to and acting in derogation of the Constitution and laws, but to regular and considerate action of the people at those States, in cooperation with their brethren in the other States, through the Congress of the United States, and such extraordinary conventions, if there shall be need thereof, as the Federal Constitution contemplates and authorizes to be assembled.
"It is, however, the purpose of the Secretary of State on this occasion not to invite or engage in any discussion of these subjects, but simply to set forth his reasons for declining to comply with the request of Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford.
"On the 4th of March inst., the newly-elected President of the United States, in view of all the facts bearing on the present question, assumed the executive Administration of the Government, first delivering, in accordance with an early, honored custom, an Inaugural Address to the people of the United States. The Secretary of State respectfully submits a copy of this address to Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford.
“A simple reference to it will be sufficient to satisfy those gentlemen that the Secretary of State, guided by the principles therein announced, is prevented altogether from admitting or assuming that the States referred to by them have, in law or in fact, withdrawn from the Federal Union, or that
they could do so in the manner described by Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford, or in any other manner than with the consent and concert of the people of the United States, to be given through a National Convention, to be assembled in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States. Of course the Secretary of State cannot act upon the assumption, or in any way admit, that the socalled Confederate States constitute a foreign Power, with whom diplomatic relations ought to be established.
Under these circumstances, the Secretary of State, whose official duties are confined, subject to the direction of the President, to the conducting of the foreign relations of the country, and do not at all embrace domestic questions, or questions arising between the several States and the Federal Government, is unable to comply with the request of
Finally, the Secretary of State would observe that, although he has supposed that he might safely and with propriety have adopted these conclusions without making any reference of the subject to the Executive, yet so strong has been his desire to practice entire directness and to act in a spirit of perfect respect and candor towards Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford, and that portion of the Union in whose name they present themselves before him, that he has cheerfully submitted this paper to the President, who coincides generally in the views it expresses, and sanctions the Secretary's decision declining official intercourse with Messrs. Forsythe and Crawford."
This "Memorandum," of course, dismissed the Commissioners; but, through the plots and counterplots of diplomacy, it remained uncalled for, in the Department of State, until April until April 8th-thus giving the Commissioners a further lease on life at Washington. The final letter of the Commissioners to Mr. Seward, dated April 9th, (given in a subsequent chapter,) will explain the reasons of the delay in calling for Mr. Seward's reply to their first note. Let it suffice here to say, that the diplomatic agents of Mr. Davis' Government were not anxious to be dismissed, and were anxious to remain, in the "turn up”— hope that something would hence, it was not strange that ways and means should have been found to remain in official ignorance of Mr. Seward's disposition towards them.
THREATS OF RETALIATION.
Kentucky not only refused to call a Con- | forth threats of retaliation
Threats of Retaliation.
vention, but positively preferred a solution from the Confederates, not of her troubles in the Union. Her Governor only in the shape of proessayed the task of preparing the way for scriptive enactments, but in the more excitcooperation”—should a resort to arms being promise of making them the battle-field
had; but, the people, under the inspiration of faithful guardians of her best interests, refused to be won from the path of duty, and remained steadfast in their loyalty.
in the strife, which, it would appear, the Confederate leaders had resolved to inaugurate. The Charleston Courier, speaking for the lords of State, in its issue of March 8th, said:
"The Border States, whose position is almost necessarily decided by Virginia, bave lost the opportunity of deciding the issue of Union or Disunion.
It is now too late for them to discuss that question, which is decided for Disunion by the inexorable logic of events.
"No army of hireling myrmidons can or shall ever reach a Southern State, if determination and resolute anticipation can prevent it by carrying the war beyond our borders. Such a movement would
Tennessee, also, was firmly resolved upon remaining in the Federal Union; or, if the worst should come, of standing in the position of an “armed neutral"—a position about as possible for her to retain, as for gunpowder to sleep beside a bed of coals. Still, the fact They have almost lost, or will soon lose, the that she would not consort with the Confed-glorious mediatorial privilege of deciding whether erates, and threatened to keep them from her Disunion shall be peaceable or forceful. They will soil, was sufficient to excite and anger the soon lose the opportunity of exerting any influence Secession managers, as well as to cause them in the question beyond the poor privilege of furnishmuch uneasiness in her behalf. Had Andrew ing the battle-fields and foraging for opposing Johnson been her Governor, instead of Isham armies, and of being pressed into reluctant service G. Harris, how different would have been her and action by the prevailing force for the time being. future! She then would have remained a very heart of flame in the centre of the revolution, to send up beacon-fires of loyalty from her glorious hills and valleys-too soon, alas! to become the burial-places for her betrayed sons, the rioting-field for her ruthless invaders. North Carolina was even more loyal, to all appearances, early in March, than Virginia. Although represented in the Confederate Congress by "Commissioners," her people were regarded as too warmly attached to the old Confederacy to be easily dragooned or lured into the new. Only some brilliant coup-de-main, by the Secessionists, could carry the State out of the Union, to which the large mass of her people were truly and sincerely devoted.
And even Virginia hung in the balance! With her Pryor, Ruffin, Tyler, Seddon, Wise, De Jarnette, Mason, Hunter, Garnett, Bocock, Letcher-all crowding her over the precipice into the maëlstrom of the revolution, she yet
be strictly defensive, according to all rules of war, after war has been forced upon us."
The same line of argument was used by most of the influential journals, in the revolutionary interests, in the Confederate limits. The Montgomery Advertiser, and other leading papers at the several State Capitals, urged a war policy as necessary to bring the Border States to their side. The leaders were not slow to perceive the vital force of the argument of arms, and hastened in arranging their war policy. Thus, a Savannah journal, as early as March 2d, said:
"Every energy on the part of the State, it would seem, is now being sprung to the immediate organization and equipment of the two regiments of Regulars' likely soon to be called to the field, led on by their respective chiefs, the intrepid Walker and the gallant Hardee. His Excellency Governor
held on, spasmodically and desperately, to Brown, so prominent in the crisis, and of whom all
Like one of her own Slave wives clinging to her husband and children when the trader called her for a Southern market, she struggled against a hopeless fate --so powerful were the few over the many. Still, she struggled to the very last.
the South is justly proud, seems omnipresent in supervision throughout the State. Our word for it, Georgia will not be found napping in the hour of trial, but with lance in rest and visor down,' ready to welcome the invader of her soil with bloody hands to hospitable graves.'"'
The resistance to the Secessionist - proThis hesitation of the Border States called gramme, in the Virginia Convention, impell
ed the managers to incite tumult against the Unionists, both to intimidate them, and to create a popular feeling for an open espousal of the Confederate cause.
Union Feeling in Richmond.
On the evening of the 8th, (March,) Hon. Wm. C. Rives a name memorable
in the political annals of the country-addressed the people of Richmond. His influence was regarded as second to that of no single person in the State-hence the importance attached to his words. His speech was thoroughly Union in its sentiments. He approved the Peace Convention propositions, as wise and satisfactory. He opposed, with all the powers of his logic, the effort to place Virginia "at the tail end of the Southern Confederacy”—to become the chief sufferer, in its behalf, in the event of war. He said the State could reconstruct the Union; and it was her duty, for it was in her power, to Other speakers followed Mr. Rives in the cause of the Union. This demonstration succeeded one of another and more violent character, which transpired during the afternoon of the same day, in behalf of the cause of disunion, and as the beginning of a series of "expressions" especially designed to incite a spirit of violence towards the Unionists. The Union flag was hauled down from the Markethouse pole on the 8th, and, amid huzzas from a great crowd, (composed largely of such turbulence as only Richmond commanded,) the Palmetto flag was run up in its stead. Speeches followed-all in a violent strain, designed and well calculated to arouse popular passions. The Whig thus announced the affair:
A Disunion Demonstration.
'Every sentiment of disapprobation of the action of the Convention, every sentiment in favor of secession, was received enthusiastically, and when Mr. Douglas, at the conclusion of his remarks, declared that Virginia would stand with her face to the foe and fall into a glorious grave, before she would permit the march of Lincoln's myrmidons through Virginia, or permit coercion, the people
responded to the sentiment with vociferous applause. Mr. Douglas was followed by Mr. Gordon, Mr. Wil
loughby Newton, Mr. Charles Irving, and Mr. Cropper, and we noted especially that when some of those gentlemen asked what would Virginia do, the people answered, with loud acclamation, 'Secede !' 'Secede!' Mr. Irving, in the course of his remarks,
impressed on the people that resistance to coercion was not enough; that the true policy was to drive the Convention out of the city. Scarcely had Mr. Irving uttered these words when the people shouted, 'That's it!''that's right!'' drive them out!' and these cries were followed by a thundering cheer. After Mr. Cropper concluded, the crowd, which was an immense one, marched to the music of the band
of the Exchange Hotel, where Mr. Isbell took his stand on the steps of the hotel, and was cheered most warmly. He addressed the multitude in a thoroughly Southern rights, secession, and anticoercion speech, and was applauded to the echo throughout. The people then took up their line of march through Franklin Street to the Examiner office, where they stopped and gave three hearty cheers for John M. Daniel, editor of the Examiner."
The Reign of the Canaille.
This John M. Daniel was one of Mr. Buchanan's favorite foreign representatives, who had returned to the charge of his journal, at the call of the Secessionists, to help in carrying the State out of the accursed Union"-a Union which he had not failed to misrepresent and malign when abroad. His course, after his return, was one of mingled malignancy and baseness towards every man who presumed to question the propriety of the secession of Virginia. He was a fit embodiment of the spirit of disunion. The Whig further added:
"At the meeting of the people held at the Old Market yesterday, we heard a desire expressed by many of the crowd that the people should march en masse to the Mechanics' Hall, where the Convention was in session, and then and there have their say about the course this old Commonwealth should pursue, and teach the old women in pantaloons of our Convention that they had better become true men at once, or vamose."
There were brave and determined spirits in that Convention, who truly represented their people; but they, ere long, became powerless, if not silenced, before the leaders having the canaille at their back. It was the drama of the French Revolution attempted on American soil-differing nothing in spirit from it, only lacking its sans culotte force of arms. The Virginian who shall truthfully write the story of those forty days will illuminate the page of History with characters and deeds which will prove the "Mother of Presidents" also to have been the mother of Conspirators.
THE CONGRESS OF THE SECEDED STATES. COERCION OF THE
VIRGINIA'S INTEREST IN SLAVE-BREEDING.
PERMANENT CONSTITUTION OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES. PRACTICED IN ITS ADOPTION BY CONVENTIONS. VOTES ON ITS ADOPTION. CONDITION OF THE BORDER STATES DURING MARCH. CONGRATULATIONS OVER THE FALL OF SUMTER.
The Confederate Congress.
THE Confederate Con- | Mr. Curry proposed to reach the Virginia gress remained in session conscience through the vital channel of her up to March 16th. Its pocket. Star - Chamber proceedings only transpired when it became necessary to divulge the laws enacted. It debated and acted with profound secrecy. The States were living under a régime as irresponsible and dictatorial as the rule of the old Venetian Republic which it typified.
On the 6th, (March,) Mr. Curry, of Alabama, introduced and had adopted the following, in open session:
Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be instructed to inquire into the expediency of prohibiting the importation of Slaves into the Confederate States from the United States, except by persons emigrating thereto for the purpose of settlement or residence.”
This looked like "coercing" Virginia whose best source of income was in the production of negroes for a Southern market. Missouri and Kentucky sent some negroes South, but only such as were sold in the breaking up of estates, or were disposed of by owners fearful of the slaves escaping to the North. The Old Dominion alone, of all the States of the Confederacy, made the raising of negroes for market a leading business.*
The Richmond Examiner gave publicity to the figures of this traffic in negro "stock," which we are sure will take many by surprise :
March 7th, the Congress confirmed Jefferson Davis' appointments, as follows: Colonel Braxton Bragg, of Louisiana, to be BrigadierGeneral, and Colonel William J. Hardee, of Georgia, to be Colonel in the army of the Confederate States.
On the 8th the Texan Deputies signed the Provisional Constitution.
The Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States, under discussion for several weeks, was finally
The Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States.
of the negroes are in cismontane Virginia, and that section pays in taxation, on persons and personal property, lands and lots, and licenses, $1,750,000, against $1,000,000 of transmontane Virginia, or threefourths more.
From about 1815 to 1845 emigration to the South was greatest. In that time Virginia emigrated some $450,000,000 worth of slaves; in the middle decade of the term, $180,000,000; and, notwithstanding the low price at which, with one short interval, slaves ruled in the three decades, and the consequent encouragement to home agriculture, cismontane lands went down 12 per cent. in the face of a transmontane appreciation of 50 per cent. a comparative loss to Eastern Virginia of 62 per cent!"
This last confession, it is presumed, was made unintentionally. That Eastern Virginia lands, which produced most of the slaves for a market, should have depreciated, while lands in Western Virginia, a region comparatively free of slaves, should have increased enormously in value, certainly is a thundering argument both against Slave breeding and Slave
"There are now in this State negroes of the estimated value of nearly $400,000,000. Upon an inside estimate, they yield in gross surplus produce, from sales of negroes to go South, $10,000,000; tobacco, $8,000,000; flour, $8,000,000; corn, cotton, and other products, $2,000,000—a total of $28,000,000. Most labor.