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legal or constitutional status, or character, of an act which had never been contemplated or provided for by either statute or the Constitution, it foreshadowed very many of the difficul ties that encompassed and embarrassed the subsequent legisla tion of Congress, during and after the civil war. The motion was at length adopted, with an amendment offered by Mr. Clark of New Hampshire, and it was resolved that the Secre tary be directed to omit their names respectively from the roll.
THE PERIL AND PROTECTION OF THE CAPITAL.
Prediction of Rebel Secretary of War.
- Letter to Governor Hicks. Secession Banner. - Mr. Stephens. - Statements of Southern presses and speakers. — “Richmond Examiner."- Duff Green. - Secret plot in Baltimore. Grow's Resolution. Committee. Opinion of the Secretary of War. Report of Committee. - Presence of Troops. Branch's Resolution. -Defeated. Cochrane and Kunkel. - President's Message. - Rebel disclaimers. Davis and Stephens. - Anxiety still exists. - Rumors. — Meeting in Willard's Hall. - Precautions. - Facts.
AMONG the secession sayings frequently on the lips of the people during the Rebellion, was that of Walker, Rebel Secretary of War, made on the evening of the attack on Fort Sumter. "No man," he said, "can tell when the war this day commenced will end; but I prophesy that the flag which now flaunts the breeze here will float over the dome of the old capitol at Washington before the first of May. Let them try Southern chivalry and test the extent of Southern resources, and it may float eventually over Faneuil Hall in Boston." Though allowing something for the excitement of the hour, and that braggart style of oratory that had become chronic at the South, this vaunt only revealed the sentiment and purpose of the secession leaders. The capture of Washington was among the first things laid down upon the Rebel programme. However much they may have prated of State rights and Southern independence, the original purpose and project contemplated revolution and not separation. To seize the capital and all the departments of the government; to hold Mr. Buchanan in abject surveillance during the remainder of his term, or, if he should prove too refractory, to eject him for a more serviceable tool; to prevent the inauguration of Mr.
Lincoln, and make Jefferson Davis, or whoever should be chosen leader of the new régime, President, these were the real and avowed purposes of the conspiracy. Of the truth of this allegation there is no lack of proof. The main difficulty lies in selecting from the mass of evidence pointing unmistakably to a deeply laid scheme and widespread plottings for that purpose. As early as the 24th of December, 1860, one of the editors of the Washington "National Intelligencer addressed a confidential note to Governor Hicks of Maryland, thus apprising him of their purposes. In it he said:
"I have every reason to believe that the disunion leaders in this city intend to make Maryland the base of their operations during the next two months. Apparently satisfied that the cotton States are sufficiently pledged to the overthrow of the Federal government, they hope to bring Maryland into the line of the seceding States before the 4th of March next. To this end they will stimulate your people by every variety of appeal calculated to undermine their loyalty to the Constitution; will, if necessary, resort to threats of violence, in case the allurements of ambition should be powerless to move you from your steadfastness; and will, by industriously manufacturing public sentiment in Baltimore, and at other points in the State, seek to give a factitious strength to their ill-omened cause.
"The motive of their labors is this: if they can succeed in hurrying Maryland out of the Union, they will inaugurate the new Southern Confederacy in the present capital of the United States. If this can be accomplished before the 4th of next March, they will succeed in divesting the North of the seat of government, and by retaining in their possession the public buildings and the public archives, they hope at once to extort from foreign governments a recognition not only of their de facto but also of their de jure pretensions."
This very well agrees with the avowals of Mr. Handy, the commissioner for Mississippi, to the citizens of Baltimore, on the 19th of the same month. "Secession is not intended to break up the present government, but to perpetuate it. Our plan is for the Southern States to withdraw from the Union for the present, to allow of amendments to the Constitution
guaranteeing our just rights. . . . . This question of slavery must be settled now or never. Many remedies have failed, we must try amputation to bring it to a healthy state. We must have amendments to the Constitution, and if we cannot get them we must set up for ourselves."
There was, of course, something of incredulity in many minds as to the existence of a purpose quite so bold and bad; and yet there was evidence soon forthcoming more than sufficient to establish it. Though but one State had actually seceded, the ulterior and ruling purpose of those who had inaugurated and consummated that act of treason soon became too manifest for doubt. Three or four days before this letter was written, at a meeting of the South Carolina secession convention, there was suspended in the rear of the president's chair a banner which clearly enough shadowed forth their designs and expectations, and which is thus described: Its base represented "a mass of broken and disordered blocks of stone, on each of which were the name and arms of a freelabor State. Rising from this mass were seen two columns of perfect and symmetrical blocks of stone, connected by an arch of the same material, on each of which, fifteen in number, were seen the name and coat of arms of a slave-labor State. South Carolina formed the keystone of the arch, on which stood Powers's statue of Calhoun, leaning upon the trunk of a palmetto-tree. . . . . On a scroll were the words Southern Republic.' Over the whole design, on the segment of a circle, were fifteen stars, the then number of slave-labor States. Underneath all, in large letters, were the words, Built from the ruins."" Southern papers and leaders made no concealment of both purpose and plan. A gentleman accompanying Mr. Stephens on his journey to Richmond thus writes: "At nearly every station Stephens spoke. The capture of Washington was the grand idea which he enforced, and he exhorted all to join in the enterprise; to which they heartily responded. This was the only thing talked of. It must be done,' was his constant exclamation." A Richmond paper said: "Nothing is more probable than that President Davis will soon march an army through North Carolina and Virginia to Washington. A Mis
sissippi paper declared that "Major Benj. McCullock has organized a force of five thousand men to seize the Federal capital the instant the first blood is shed." The "Richmond Examiner" thus proclaimed the determination of the Southern leaders, in language that revealed the Rebel spirit as well as purpose: "The capture of Washington City is perfectly within the power of Virginia and Maryland, if Virginia will only make the effort by her constituted authorities; nor is there a single moment to lose. The entire population pant for the onset; there never was half the unanimity among the people before, not a tithe of the zeal, upon any subject, that is now manifested to take Washington, and drive from it every Black Republican who is a dweller there. 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. That filthy cage of unclean birds must and will assuredly be purified by fire. The people are determined upon it, and are clamorous for a leader to conduct them to the onslaught. The leader will assuredly arise; ay, and that right speedily. . . . . 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."
A Georgia paper said: "The government of the Confederate States must possess the city of Washington. It is folly to think it can be used any longer as the headquarters of the Lincoln government, as no access can be had to it, except by passing through Virginia and Maryland. The District of Columbia cannot remain under the jurisdiction of the United States Congress without humiliating Southern pride and defeating Southern rights. Both are essential to greatness of character, and both must co-operate in the destiny to be achieved."
Though Governor Wise was in favor of maintaining what he called Southern rights in the Union, his son, who then edited the "Richmond Enquirer," and who afterward fell in