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of public property in this city and that of the archives of the government, in which all the States, and especially the new States, in which the public lands are situated, have a deep interest; the peace and order of the city itself; and the security of the inauguration of the President elect, were objects of such vast importance to the whole country, that I could not hesitate to adopt precautionary defensive measures. At the present moment, when all is quiet, it is difficult to realize the state of alarm which prevailed when the troops were first ordered to this city. This almost instantly subsided after the arrival of the first company, and a feeling of comparative peace and security has since existed both in Washington and throughout the country. Had I refused to adopt this precautionary measure, and evil consequences, which many good men at the time apprehended, had followed, I should never have forgiven myself."
But notwithstanding the directness, positiveness, and seeming unambiguity of these Rebel utterances, and the conclusiveness of the evidence deduced therefrom that there existed a design to capture the Federal capital, there are not wanting, on the record, many disclaimers, even by those who had made these very declarations. Either for purposes of deception, by concealing their real designs, and simulating a moderation they did not feel, and did not intend to practise, or having been forced to change their plans from unexpected obstacles they had encountered, both the President and Vice-President of the new Confederacy did at the last profess a policy less violent and aggressive.
On the 12th of April Mr. Davis, "prompted," he said, "by the declaration of hostile purposes contained in the message sent by President Lincoln to the government of South Carolina on the 8th of April," issued a proclamation for convoking the Confederate Congress to meet on the 29th of the same month. In his message, after repeating a remark made on a former occasion, that the remedy of separation had been "a matter of necessity and not of choice," he added: “We protest solemnly, in the face of mankind, that we desire peace at any sacrifice, save that of honor. . . . . In independence we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no cession of any kind
from the States with which we have lately confederated. All we ask is to be let alone, those who never held power over us should not now attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will, we must, resist to the direst extremity." The very next day Vice-President Stephens said to the people of Atlanta: "A general opinion prevails that Washington City is soon to be attacked. On this subject I can only say, our object is peace. We wish no aggressions on any one's rights, and will make none. But if Maryland secedes, the District of Columbia will fall to her by reversionary right, the same as Sumter to South Carolina, Pulaski to Georgia, and Pickens to Florida. When we have the right, we will demand the surrender of Washington, just as we did in the other cases, and will enforce our demands at every hazard and at whatever cost."
But notwithstanding these disclaimers of the arch conspirators, notwithstanding the report of the House committee, notwithstanding the constant and confident asseverations which were made that there were no such purposes of violence and capture, there still existed grave apprehensions in the minds of many of hidden and impending dangers, ready to burst forth at any moment, and spring upon them from any quarter. The very darkness and uncertainty intensified the alarm, and magnified the danger they so much dreaded, and were so anxious to provide against. On the 18th of April rumors were rife that military forces from Virginia were to seize Harper's Ferry, and on the evening of that day, in co-operation with the secessionists of Washington, to capture the President and the government archives. The capital, it was known, was full of secessionists, and the District militia, it was believed, had in its ranks many who were not only lukewarm in supporting the government, but were traitorous at heart. A secret meeting was held at Willard's; committees were appointed, and loyal persons were visited. Another meeting was held that evening, in a small church in the rear of the hotel, composed of loyal and devoted men, who pledged themselves, by an oath of fidelity to the country, to aid in defending the capital at a moment's warning. Cassius M. Clay was chosen leader, and the body was known as the Cassius M. Clay
battalion. They patrolled the city that night, while a body, commanded by General Lane of Kansas, went to the White House, encamped in the East Room, prepared to protect the President. These movements had a restraining influence upon the secessionists of the capital and of Maryland; and though there still remained the menace and danger, it was a danger involved in and dependent upon the general and final success of the Rebel cause, rather than upon any such coup de main as entered into the original plan and purpose of the conspirators.
These, then, seem to have been the facts. It was a part of the original plan of the conspirators to seize the seat of the United States government and make it the capital of the new Confederacy, hoping thus to "extort" "new concessions from the Northern States, and from foreign governments," -not only a recognition of their de facto, but also of their de jure pretensions. This, however, was but a part of a larger and more comprehensive plan embracing the capture of Maryland, making the seizure of the capital contingent and dependent upon the secession of that State. Had the original Rebel programme been carried out, had Maryland been induced to secede, and had the District of Columbia thus become an integral part of the new Confederacy, there can be little doubt that the national capital, with all that is implied in such a surrender, would have been compelled to succumb to the haughty demands of the slaveholding oligarchs, the “stars and bars" would have taken the place of the "Stars and Stripes," and the Rebel chief would have issued his decrees from the executive mansion. No human power could have averted that terrible and humiliating blow, had Maryland seceded, so thoroughly dismantled had the traitors in Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet left the government, and so abject and helpless had they sought, and too nearly succeeded in their attempt, to lay this great and proud nation at the feet of its enemies. Had not Maryland remained firm, or rather had not its brave and patriotic governor resisted the machinations of the conspirators, and refused to convene the legislature with its Rebel majority, such must have been the outlook at the close of Mr. Buchanan's disgraceful and disastrous administration.
INAUGURATION OF MR. LINCOLN.
Popular apprehension.—Letter of Mayor of Washington.
- Anxiety. Assurances of Hindman..
Statement of Breckinridge. - Mr.
Trenton. Philadelphia. - Flag
raising and speech. — Threats of assassination. - Statement to Mr. Lossing. - Arrival in Washington. — Apprehensions and precautions. — Inauguration. -Thurlow Weed and General Scott. - Inaugural address. Conciliatory but firm. Affecting peroration. — Variously received. - Southern condemnation.
THOUGH the committee had reported that there was not sufficient evidence to prove the existence of secret organizations, meditating violence to the government and the head of the incoming administration, the people were ill at ease, and the air was literally filled with rumors of impending danger and of meditated assaults upon the persons and property of the government. Nor were these felt by few. All were more or less affected. On the 1st of February the mayor of Washington addressed the following note to the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad :
"Sir,-I learn that the President elect, until very recently, contemplated passing over your road from Wheeling to this city, and that, owing to rumored intentions on the part of citizens of Maryland and Virginia to interfere with his travel to our capital, you were induced to make diligent inquiry as to the truth of these threats. If correctly informed, will you do me the favor to state the result of your inquiries touching the matter?"
In his reply, the president of the road assured the mayor that "there is not, and has not been, the least foundation for any of the rumors to which you refer"; adding that they were “the simple inventions of the agents of other lines." The result
proved either that he did not frankly state the truth as it existed, that he was ignorant, or that he sadly miscalculated.
On the 13th of February the two houses met in convention to count and declare the votes for Presidential electors. Much anxiety had been felt, as it was known that there were members of Congress who wished to seize the occasion to break up the convention by violence, so that the vote should not be announced. The words of Mr. Hindman of Arkansas, afterwards a general in the Confederate army, to Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts, a day or two before the convention, admit of no other construction, though he assured him that at that moment the Republicans need have no further anxiety about the result. Their men, he said, shrank from the attempt, and Breckinridge would have nothing to do with it. A few days before his death Mr. Breckinridge stated to Mr. Wilson, who visited him at his home in Lexington, that a few violent men only were in favor of a disturbance, that he was not consulted in regard to it, and, had he been, he should have given no countenance to it. The vote was announced by Mr. Breckinridge, who presided over the convention. Mr. Lincoln, receiving a plurality over Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell, was declared President elect.
On the 11th of February, two days before the vote was announced, Mr. Lincoln left Springfield for the national capital. A few trusted friends accompanied him. At the railway sta tion the citizens of Springfield in large numbers assembled to express to him their confidence and affection. To his neighbors, assembled to bid him farewell, Mr. Lincoln spoke in words and tones of tender emotion. "No one not in my position," he said, "can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived for more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried. A duty devolves upon me which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on