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FOLLY OF THE CONSPIRATORS.
THE MONTGOMERY CONVENTION.-TREASON OF GENERAL TWIGGS.-LINCOLN AND BUCHANAN AT THE CAPITAL.
HE arrogance and folly of the conspirators, especially of the madinen of South Carolina, often took the most ludicrous forms and expression. They were so intent upon obliterating every trace of connection with the "Yankees," as they derisively called the people of the Free-labor States, and upon showing to the world that South Carolina was an "independent nation," that so early as the first of January," when that "nation" was just nine days old-a "nine days' wonder "-it was proposed to adopt for it a new system of civil time.' Whether it was to be that of Julius Cæsar, in whose calendar the year began in March; or of the French Jacobins, whose year began in September, and had five sacred days called Sansculottides; or of the Eastern satrap
"Who counted his years from the hour when he smote
His best friend to the earth, and usurped his control;
And his months by the scars of black crimes on his soul,"
is not recorded. Three days after the Montgomery Convention had formed a so-called government, by the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, and the election of Jefferson Davis to be the chief standard-bearer in the revolt, one of the organs of the conspirators said, in view of the dreamed-of power and grandeur of the new Empire :-" The South might, under the new Confederacy, treat the disorganized and demoralized Northern States as insurgents, and deny them recognition. But if peaceful division ensues, the South, after taking the Federal Capital and archives, and being recognized by all foreign powers as the Government de facto, can, if they see proper, recognize the Northern Confederacy or Confederacies, and enter into treaty stipulations with them. Were this not done, it would be difficult for the Northern States to take a place among nations, and their flag would not be respected or recognized."
1 Charleston Correspondence of the Associated Press, January 1, 1861.
2 Charleston Courier, February 12, 1861. Only a week earlier than this (February 5th), the late Senator Hammond, one of the South Carolina conspirators, in a letter to a kinswoman in Schenectady, New York, after recommending her to read the sermon of a Presbyterian clergyman in Brooklyn, named Van Dyke, preached on the 9th of December, 1860, for proofs that the buying and selling of men, women, and children was no sin, said: "We dissolve the Union-and it is forever dissolved, be assured-to get clear of Yankee meddlesomeness and Paritanical bigotry. I say this, being half a Yankee and half a Puritan." His father was a New England
PERMANENT CONSTITUTION ADOPTED.
Notwithstanding this arrogance and childish folly of the politiciansnotwithstanding the tone of feeling among the leading insurgents at Montgomery was equally proud and defiant, they were compelled to yield to the inexorable laws of necessity, and make a compromise with expediency. It would not do to give mortal offense to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, by obstructing the navigation of the Mississippi River;' so, on the 22d of February, the Convention declared the absolute freedom of the navigation of that stream. Money was necessary to carry on the machinery of government, and equip and feed an army; so, abandoning the delightful dreams of free-trade, which was to bring the luxuries of the world to their doors, they proposed tariff laws; and even went so far as to propose an export duty on the great staple of the Gulf States, relying upon the potential arm of "King Cotton" for support in the measure. "I apprehend," said Howell Cobb, who proposed it," that we are conscious of the power we hold in our hands, by reason of our producing that staple so necessary to the world. I doubt not that power will exert an influence mightier than armies or navies. We know that by an embargo we could soon place not only the United States, but many of the European powers, under the necessity of electing between such a recognition of our independence as we require, or domestic convulsions at home." Such were the shallow conclusions of one of the leading "Southern statesmen," of whose superior wisdom the newspapers in the interest of the Oligarchy were always boasting.
The Convention authorized Davis to accept one hundred thousand volunteers for twelve months, and The franking privilege was to borrow fifteen millions of disallowed, excepting for the dollars, at the rate of eight Post-office Department. The per cent. interest a year. rates of postage were fixed, Provision was also made for and stamps for two, five, and the establishment of a small ten cents were soon issued, naval force for coast defense. bearing the portrait of JefferLaws were passed for carryson Davis. A variety of ing on postal operations.laws, necessary for the operations of a legitimate government, were made; and on the 11th of March, a permanent Constitution was adopted. Its preamble fully recognized the doctrine of State Supremacy, and was in the following words :-" We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent Federal Government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and insure the blessings
school-teacher. We absolve you by this," he continued, "from all the sins of Slavery, ourselves all its supposed sin and evil, openly before the world, and in the sight of God." spirit, the revilers of the great Preacher of Righteousness cried: "Crucify him! Crucify him!
and take upon
With a similar
His blood be on
, and on our children! In the judgments which speedily fell upon the presumptuous Jew and the Slaveholder, do we not see a remarkable "historical parallel?"
The conspirator continued:-"Let us alone. Let me tell you, my dear cousin, that if there is any attempt at war on the part of the North, we can soundly thrash them on any field of battle; and not only that, we can give them over to Jean Jaques, and leave them to manage that. We know our stren th. Why, we export over two hundred millions of produc, which the world eagerly seeks and cannot do without. A six months' fallare of our exports to Europe would revolutionize every existing government there, as well as at the North. All know it. The North exports some sixty millions, in competition with the European producers. Why the North, without our custom for manufactures, and our produce for its commerce and exchanges, is, neither more nor less, the poorest portion of the civilized world. To that it has come on an infidel and abstract idea."Letter of Jas. H. Hammond to Mrs. F. II. Pratt, published in the Albany Statesman.
ASSUMPTION OF SUPREME AUTHORITY.
of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity-invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God-do order and ordain this Constitution for the Confederate States of America."
This Constitution was that of the United States, with the alterations and omissions seen in the Provisional Constitution, and others made by the Committee. It prohibited the giving of bounties from the Treasury, or the laying of duties for the purpose of protecting any branch of industry. It made the Post-office Department rely wholly upon its own revenue to pay its expenses; it attempted to prevent fraudulent legislation by prohibiting the introduction of more than one subject in any act; it fixed the term of service of the "President and Vice-President" at six years, and made the former ineligible to re-election; it provided for the government of new Territories, and prohibited the enactment of any law "denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves." There were several provisions for securing an economical expenditure of money. The delegates from South Carolina and Florida voted against the clause prohibiting the African Slavetrade.
Davis had already been authorized by the Convention" to assume control of "all military operations between the Confederate States," or any of them, and powers foreign to them; and he was also authorized to receive from them the arms and munitions of war "acquired from the United States." At the middle of March, it recommended the several States to cede to the "Confederate States" the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, and other public establishments within their respective limits. These recommendations were cheerfully responded to by all except the South Carolinians, who were tardy in relinquishing the means for maintaining their "sovereignty." Already P. G. T. Beauregard, a Louisiana Creole, who had abandoned the flag of his country, and sought employment among its enemies, had been appointed brigadier-general, and
ordered from New Orleans to
Charleston, to take charge of all the insurgent forces there. Already John Forsyth, Martin J. Crawford, and A. B. Roman had been appointed Commissioners to proceed to Washington, and make a settlement of all questions at issue between the United States and the conspirators; and Memminger had made preparations for establishing Custom Houses along the frontier "between the two confederacies." After
• March 2S, 1861.
1 This expression called forth much debate. Some opposed the introduction of the sentiment in any form. Chilton wished it stronger, by adding, "who is the God of the Bible and the rightful source of all government." As the word "Bible" would include the New Testament, this suffix was opposed because it might offend Mr. Benjamin, who was a Jew, and did not admit the divinity of Jesus. It was voted down. One of the Colbs proposed to introduce in the Constitution a clause recognizing the Christian Sabbath, in the following form:"No man shall be compelled to do civil duty on Sunday." This was voted down, partly out of deference to Mr. Benjamin, the Jew, and partly because Perkins, of Louisiana, declared that the people of that State would not accept of such a provision. Delegates from Texas made the same declaration concerning the people of their State.
2 See page 251.
TREASON OF GENERAL TWIGGS.
agreeing, by resolution, to share in the crime of plundering the National Government by accepting a portion of the money which the Louisiana politicians had stolen from the Mint and Custom House at New Orleans,' the Convention adjourned.' At that time vigorous preparations for war were seen on every hand. Volunteers, even from Tennessee, offered their services. In many places in the Gulf States enlistments went rapidly on; and by the first of April, probably twenty thousand names were on the rolls of the growing insurgent army.
The conspirators of Texas, we have observed, were represented in the Convention at Montgomery. The people of that State had lately suffered the most flagrant wrongs at the hands of disloyal men; and that Commonwealth had been the theater of an act of treachery of the vilest and most injurious nature, performed by the veteran soldier, General David E. Twiggs, of Georgia, who was next in rank to Lieutenant-General Scott, in the Army of the Republic.
We have observed that the conspirators and disloyal politicians of Texas had placed the people of that State, who, by an overwhelming majority, were for the Union, in an attitude of rebellion before the close of February, and that the Revolutionary Committee3 had appointed Messrs. Devine and Maverick, Commissioners to treat with General Twiggs, the Commander of the Department, for the surrender into their hands of all the property of the National Government under his control. Twiggs was a favorite of the Administration, and his conduct denotes that he was in complicity with the conspirators at Washington.
DAVID E. TWIGGS.
1 See page 185.
The proceedings of this Convention, and of the "Provisional Government of the Confederate States," have never been printed. The original manuscripts were discovered by some of General Wilson's command at Athens, in Georgia, after the downfall of the rebellion. They were in three boxes, in one of the recitation-rooms of the University of Georgia. A correspondent of the New York Herald, writing from Athens, on the 19th of June, 1865, gives the following interesting history of these papers, which consist of journals, correspondence, et cætera :
"As the Provisional Congress was about to expire, a proposition was made that the journals should be published. This was objected to, on the ground of furnishing much valuable information, and a law was passed authorizing and requiring the President of the Congress, Howell Cobb, to have three copies made of all the journals. He was at that time in the Army, commanding the Sixteenth Georgia Regiment, and down on the Peninsula, below Richmond. He at once engaged J. D. Hooper, former clerk, to undertake the job. Whatever were his hinderances it is not known; but he did very little, and after having them on hand for a long time, died. They were then shipped to a gentleman in Georgia, with a request to complete the work. Papers were missing, requiring months to find; materials hard to get, and the work, therefore, never was completed. They were at one time held in Atlanta, but the Unionists coming too near, were hurried off to West Point, Georgia. There a strong rumor of a raid springing up, they were carried to Tallapoosa County, Alabama, on a plantation. In marching from Dadeville to Loachapoka, General Rousseau passed within four miles of the house where they were; and when his men were destroying the railroad at Notasulga, and were having the little fight near Chehaw, the boxes were hid out in the woods, two miles off, and were watched by two negro men. They were then removed to Augusta, Georgia, and thence, when Sherman came, tearing down through Georgia like a wild horse, they were pushed along into the upper part of South Carolina. Thence in the spring they were brought over to this place." These journals are among the archives of the Confederate Government," at Washington City. 9 See page 188.
TWIGGS SUSPECTED AND SUPERSEDED.
He was placed in command of the Department of Texas only a few weeks before he committed the treasonable act we are about to record. For forty years he had served his Government acceptably, and was honored with its confidence; but the virus that poisoned so many noble characters, destroyed the life of his patriotism. Not content with deserting his flag himself, he tried to seduce his officers from their allegiance. He began by talking gloomily of the future, and expressing doubts of the ability of the Government to maintain its authority. He soon spoke disparagingly of that Government; and finally he said to his officers:-"The Union will be at an end in less than sixty days, and if you have any pay due you, you had better get it at once, for it is the last you will ever get."
Intimations of Twiggs's disloyalty had reached the Secretary of War, Holt, and on the 18th of January, in a general order, the veteran was relieved from the command of the Department of Texas, and it was turned over to Colonel Carlos A. Waite, of the First Regiment of Infantry. But the anticipated mischief was accomplished before the order could perform its intended work. When the Commissioners were informed of its arrival at Twiggs's head-quarters, at the Alamo, in the city of San Antonio, they took
measures to prevent its reaching Colonel Waite, whose regimental headquarters was at the least sixty miles distant, on the Verde Creek, a branch of the Guadaloupe River. But the vigilance and activity of the patriotic Colonel Nichols, Twiggs's Assistant Adjutant-General, who watched his chief with the keen eye of full suspicion, foiled them. He duplicated the orders, and sent two cou
riers by different routes. One of them was captured and taken back to San Antonio, and the other reached Waite, with the order, on the 17th of February.
Twiggs was cautious and had adroitly avoided committing himself to treason in writing. He always said to the impatient Commissioners :-"I will give up every thing." But the time had now arrived when temporizing must end. He was ready to act; but he must have a decent excuse for his surrendering the force under his immediate command, which consisted of only two skeleton companies under Captains King and Smith. Other troops had been ordered away from San Antonio by Twiggs when the danger of revolu tion became pressing, and they might be called to put down insurrection.
1 This is a very old building. It was a church, erected by the Spaniards, and was afterward converted into a fortress. There, during the war for the independence of Texas, many Americans, who had joined the Texans in the struggle, were massacred by the Mexicans. Among those who fell were Colonel David Crockett, and Colonel Bowie, the inventor of the famous bowie-knife, so much used by desperadoes in the Southwest.