Page images



Condition of Fort

Messengers to
Fort Sumter.

Several messengers from the Federal authorities to Fort Sumter appeared in Charleston during the middle and latter part of March. Surgeon Fox, of the United States Navy, was dispatched by Mr. Lincoln, and passed over to Sumter, "by special permission of the South Carolina authorities," to inspect the sanitary condition of the fort, as well as to confer privately with Major Anderson; but the attendance of Captain Hartstene prevented the desired private conference.

tions for forcing Slemmer | of the important positions at Key West and out of the Santa Rosa for- the Tortugas. [See vol. I. page 368.] tress. It was reported from Washington, March 16th, that the fort was invested by thirteen full batteries, including Forts McRae and Barrancas, which commanded not only Pickens but the offing. At that date the steam corvette Brooklyn, and the sailing frigate Sabine, were lying off the port with reinforcements on board. No attempts were made to land the troops, however, since the rebel commander threatened to open fire on the vessels and on Pickens, if the reinforcement was attempted. But, the nightly mission of small boats which put off, with muffled oars, to the outside of Santa Rosa island, gave the brave Lieutenant good cheer and helping hands, and when the middle of the month had passed, the fortress was prepared for the threatened bombardment. Beside the Brooklyn and Sabine, the Wyandotte and several sloops-of-war were understood to be present, prepared to render effective service. This powerful array undoubtedly prevented the assault; and the three thousand Confederates, with "souls on fire for the fray," all under command of a redoubtable officer, were compelled to witness the old flag's morning salute, without the power to banish it from their sight. The presence of a strong naval force at that point, with reinforcements, was one of the acts which marked the brief term of Secretary Holt's service. To his orders, to that disposition of the vessels-of-war, as well as to Slemmer's efficiency, does the country owe the salvation of Pickens,* and the retention

*The service which his predecessor, John B. Floyd, rendered to the cause of disunion and treason, was thus set forth by the Atlanta (Geo.) Confederacy,

of March 16th.:

“But for the foresight, and firmness, and patriotic providence of John B. Floyd, in what stress and peril would the Cotton State's be floundering this day! He saw the inevitable doom of the Union, or the doom of his own people. For many months past, from his stand-point, he had an extended field of vision, which enabled him to see the great danger which threatened us, but which was hid below the but which was hid below the horizon from the eyes of most of us. When his faithful loyalty to his own persecuted people began its labors in our defense, in what a condition were

[ocr errors]

Colonel G. W. Lay, of General Scott's staff, appeared at Charleston March 20th, and had a long interview with Governor Pickens and General Beauregard, understood to be in reference to terms of evacuation, and the disposition of the armament of the fort, should the Federal Government order the surrender of the fortress.

March 25th, Colonel Lamon, as a special messenger of the President, arrived in Charleston. After an interview with the authorities, he passed over to the fort. His visit was announced as one of "pacification." He had an unrestricted interview with Major Anderson, whom he found in good spirits, and with provisions enough to hold out to April 15th. He returned to Washington the Southern States! The North had the heavy guns, the light arms, the powder and ball, just as the North had everything else that belonged to the common Government. How quietly were men shifted from our soil who might have been here to-day to murder us at Abraham Lincoln's order. How slender the garrisons became in Southern forts which were made for us, and belong to nobody else, but which a savage enemy now chafes and rages to get possession of! Who sent 37,000 stand of arms to Georgia? How came 60,000 more prime deathdealing rifles at Jackson, Miss.? And, in short, why have we anything at all in the South to mail the strong hands of the sons of the South with at this hour, when every heart, and head, and arm of her children is needed in her defense? Truth demands it of us to declare that we owe to John B. Floyd an eternal tribute of gratitude for all this. Had he been less the patriot than he was, we might now have been disarmed and at the mercy of a nation of

cut-throats and plunderers."

March 26th, reporting unfavorably to rein- | but this will be, at present, our main topic. Four forcements. All the schemes devised for throwing supplies into the beleaguered fortress Mr. Lamon reported to be impracticable—an opinion which Major Anderson, also,

was understood to entertain.

The several reports of these messengers seemed to leave no alternative but the withdrawal of the little band from Charleston. The order for evacuation was hourly looked for by the country, as well as by Anderson himself. But, the days wore into weeks, and that order was not given. The interest in the garrison became hourly more painful. The crisis was approaching. The national pulse seemed to stand still for the word that was to declare the fate of the Republic.

As showing something of the spirit of a very large and influential class of citizens of the North, at this juncture, we may mention the existence of a Society organized in New York under the presidency of Prof. Samuel F. B. Morse. It represented

A "Conservative"

millions of immortal beings, incapable of self-care, and indisposed to industry and foresight, are providentially committed to the hands of our Southern This stupendous trust they cannot put


from them if they would. Emancipation, were it

possible, would be rebellion against Providence, and destruction to the colored race in our land. We at the North rid ourselves of no responsibility by assuming an attitude of hostility to Slavery, and thus sundering the bonds of State fellowship; we only put it out of our power to do the good which both humanity and religion demand; should we not rather recognize the Providence of God, in his placing such

[ocr errors]

a vast multitude of the degraded and dependent sons of Africa in this favored land, and cheerfully co-operate, by all needful labors and sacrifices, with

His benevolent design to save, and not to destroy them? Under a Providential dispensation, lifting them up from the degradation and miseries of indolence and vice, and exacting of them due and needful labor, they can certainly be trained and nurtured, as many have been, for the services and joys of heaven; and if the climate and institutions of the South are such that our fellow-citizens there can afford to take the onerous care of them, in return for their services, should we not gladly consent? the commercial interests They freely concede to us our conscientious convic more particularly--among tions, our rights, and all our privileges; should we its chief corporators being found the names not as freely concede to them theirs? Why should of several eminent merchants, while the New we contend? Why paralyze business, turn thouYork Journal of Commerce became its " or-sands of the industrious and worthy poor out of emgan." The society was called the "Amer-ployment, sunder the last ties of affection that can ican Society for promoting National Unity." | bind these States together, destroy our once pros It held its first session in New York, March 6th, and put forth its plea in a "programme," which was a singular commixture of religion, politics and commerce-all directed against “Abolitionism,” the great prime demoralizer and disorganizer. We may quote from this document as one of those "signs of the times" which indicated how cleverly commerce and religion could hob-nob with Satan, when he threatened to disturb their quiet and their profits:

perous and happy nation, and perhaps send multitudes to premature graves-and all for what? Is not such a course a struggle of arrogant assumption against the Providence of the Most High? and, persisted in, will it not surely bring down his heavy and prolonged judgments upon us ?"


This religio-commercial enterprise did not, we may state, attract any particular attention, although strongly indorsed and sustained by that powerful organ of the Presbyterian (Old School) denomination, the New York Observer. The great tide of public “We believe that the time has come when such feeling was sweeping insensibly onward, evil teachings (abolitionism) should be firmly and against the old barriers where property in boldly confronted, not by the antagonisms of doubtman was intrenched; and those subservient ful and perishable weapons, but by the Word of servants who ordained the "American SoGod, which liveth and abideth forever,' as expounded by a broad and faithful recognition of his moral ciety for promoting National Unity," by and providential government over the world. It is fighting the battles of the propagandists with with this view that we propose an organized Scriptural weapons, daily became less poeffort, &c., &c. tential. We advert to the organization sim“Our attention will not be confined to Slavery, ply as one of the last religious efforts to

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Govornor Pickens'


hé assumes control of all the
military operations of your
State, having reference to,

ambition with fanaticism, they
to organize the
attempted to
great masses of the people so


Governor Pickens'

as to act together in a consolidated majority, and or connected with, questions between your administer the common Government without regard State and powers foreign to it. He also dito the sacred guarantees by which the local rights and rects me to request you to communicate to interests of separate communities should be prethe Department without delay, the quantity served under the absolute control of the separate and character of arms and munitions of war Governments. Governments. This, of course, reversed the whole which have been acquired from the United philosophy of our peculiar system, and if permitted States, and which are now in the forts, arse- to become successful, would have given us no adnals, and navy-yards of your State, and all vance over the European system of Government. other arms and munitions which your State In fact, it would have placed us behind them in may desire to turn over and make charge- progress, for many of their most enlightened and charge-progress, powerful Governments asserted the doctrine, and able to this Government." acted upon it, that Governments and dynasties can The Governor complied with the resolube changed by Popular Sovereignty, expressed tion and requisitions, and stated the facts through universal suffrage, in independent commurelating to the matter in the Message. Henities; and they avow this as a substitute for the then proceeded to add his congratulations old theory of divine and hereditary right.

over the success of the revolution, in the following interesting terms:

"I herewith transmit the ordinances and resolutions of the different States that have seceded, and would call attention to the obvious propriety of providing for them, together with our own ordinance on the same subject, some suitable place of safe deposit. They are the simple, but authentic records of events well calculated to produce a profound impression upon the future destiny of our country.

"Heretofore in the history of the world, the great struggle has been to secure the personal rights of individuals. In former times the power of government absorbed all individual or personal rights of citizens. But our English ancestors, by their sturdy virtues, engrafted, at different periods, such grants and restrictions upon the British Constitution as effectually secured personal rights, and as far as that branch of liberty is involved, they made it as perfect as any other country.

“To secure the political rights of separate and independent communities, required a higher and broader range of political experience. The guarantees for personal rights in England was a great advance over the old feudal system of Europe; and it was then left to the separate States of America to develop a higher experience over a larger extent of territory, in those guarantees necessary to secure the local rights of separate independent communities, united under one common govern


"The old Constitution was intended to effect this advance in the science of Government, and if it had been properly administered, would have continued to develop the mighty resources and power of a wonderful people. But, under the combination of

"Under our old articles of Confederation the Government had failed, and the Constitution of the United States grew out of the force of circumstances, and was adopted in order to secure, at that period, a more perfect union to enable us to resist foreign aggression. We have outgrown that state of things, and the danger lately was not from foreign aggression, but from internal corruption, and from an assumption in parts and majorities of absolute Governments over other parts, without reference to the limitations and reservations of the compact. Thus, that Constitution ran its career, and fulfilled its destiny, under the perverted and vitiated idea that we were a consolidated people. Under prejudices fostered by designing men, and under the worst passions inflamed by bad men, an absolute majority was created, who assumed that their will must necessarily be the Government, instead of the fixed principles of the Constitution, which were intended to guard the local rights and interests of the separate and independent communities which composed the Confederacy of States.

"Our State, true to the great principles upon which the Confederacy was formed, and true to those great and progressive ideas which were so identified with American Independence, was forced to resume her original powers of Government; and if she succeeds in engrafting the fundamental right of a separate and independent State to withdraw from any Confederacy that may be formed, whenever her people, in sovereign Convention assembled, shall so decide, then she will have made another advance in the science of Government, and added another guaranty to the great principle of civil liberty. And if this principle could be secured without an appeal to arms and blood, it would show that the country has progressed in civ

« PreviousContinue »