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Texas not only pleaded, but pledged himself, for the continued integrity of the nation. Not concealing his bitter animosity towards Northern Abolitionists, he spoke in unmeasured terms against Southern extremists. With pathetic words, he described his great sorrow at the fact that though, when he travelled the two thousand miles intervening between his home and the capital, his "foot had pressed no spot of foreign territory," his "eye rested on not one material object that was not a part and parcel of my country," it would, he feared, on his return, be" changed. When I go hence it will be to find my pathway intercepted by new and strange nationalities. Without ever having wandered from my native land, I must traverse foreign countries if I would return." Speaking of the Federal government as a "shrine," he said: "Yet there are worshippers there; and I am among them. I have been called by warning voices to come out and escape the impending danger; I have been wooed by entreaties and plied with threats. But, sir, neither entreaties nor threats nor hope of reward nor dread of danger shall tear me away until I lay hold of the horns of the altar of my country, and implore Heaven in his own good time to still this storm of civil strife." And his brave record, during the war, showed that these were no empty words.
But at length the exciting debate was brought to a close, and the House proceeded to vote upon the report of the committee. Before reaching that vote it was necessary to dispose of three proposed amendments. The first, offered by John C. Burch of California, proposing a convention for amending the Constitution, was defeated by the vote of seventy-four to one hundred and nine. There was then before the House the proposed amendment of Mr. Clemens, embracing the Crittenden resolutions, to which had been proposed another amendment by William Kellogg of Illinois. The last received only thirty-three votes, and the first was defeated by the vote of eighty to one hundred and thirteen. The main question was then put and carried by the decisive vote of one hundred and thirty-seven to fifty-three. The joint resolution for amending the Constitution was then defeated, not receiving the requisite two-thirds vote. The vote, however, was reconsidered,
and the resolution received the requisite number of votes, passed the Senate, and was approved by the President.
When the joint resolution came up in the Senate, Mr. Mason offered the Crittenden resolutions as a substitute. In the debate which followed, Morton S. Wilkinson of Minnesota avowed his purpose to vote against both the resolution and the substitute, expressing the belief that the Northwest would never relinquish the free navigation of the Mississippi from its sources to its mouth; and that, should it be necessary to vindicate their rights by war, the old flag would still wave victorious. Zachary Chandler of Michigan made an earnest speech for the Union. "No concession," he said, "no compromise, ay, give us strife, even to blood, before a yielding to the demands of traitorous violence." Mr. Crittenden, too, spoke for the Union, but in a very different spirit and strain. He deplored the spectacle presented by Congress, soon to adjourn, but making no provision for the great and imminent needs of the country; talking of war, and providing no force to carry it forward; talking of pacification, and proposing no method to secure it. His speech, however, was an earnest plea for compromise, and deprecatory of the little matter, as he claimed, that was riving the nation," the paltry question," as he characterized it, "which divides us," whether slavery should be recognized or excluded from New Mexico.
To the speech of the aged Senator, with its stern rebukes of the Republicans and their proposed adherence to the doctrines of the platform on which they had carried the recent election, and his attempts to belittle the "question" at issue, Lyman Trumbull made a vigorous and fitting reply. Attributing the desperateness of affairs to the irresolution and indecision of the outgoing executive, he expressed his confidence that they would learn to-morrow, from the eastern front of the capitol, that we have a government, and that will be the beginning of the maintenance of the Union."
Louis Wigfall of Texas made a vituperative and insulting speech, well befitting the man and his cause. "The Star of the West," he said, "swaggered into Charleston harbor, received a blow planted full in the face, and staggered out.
Your flag has been insulted; redress it if you dare. You have submitted to it for two months, and you will submit forever.
. . We have dissolved the Union; mend it if you can; cement it with blood; try the experiment." Saying that whatever measures Congress might adopt, the seven seceded States would not be persuaded to return, he added: "It is useless to talk about reconstruction. This Federal government is dead. The only question is, whether we will give it a decent Protestant burial, or whether we shall have an Irish wake at the grave." Speaking of the proposition that the seceding States should appoint commissioners to confer with the Federal authorities, he made the insolent remark: "To be very candid with you, I do not think there is any government here with which they could treat. . . . . One of the partners having withdrawn dissolves the firm."
Mr. Wilson avowed his unwillingness to vote for the resolu tion, because he would not thus make the nation responsible for slavery. "I cannot vote," he said, " in this age and with our lights to put into the Constitution of this Christian and democratic republic this new guaranty for slavery." Mr. Wade, with his usual force and point, expressed his distrust of the proposed remedies, and his conviction that neither Crittenden resolutions nor peace conventions could cure the evils complained of. "Before you can harmonize with us," he said, you must learn to love liberty, learn to regard the rights of man, and cease to place confidence in the oppression and tyranny of any man. . . . To reconstruct your institutions upon a basis that will be permanent and eternal, as you dream, you will have to reconstruct the throne of God, and change the principles on which he has chosen to govern the world."
SOUTH CAROLINA COMMISSIONERS. PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE.
Disloyal attitude and treasonable acts. Judge Smalley's opinion. — Hesitation and scepticism. - Fort Sumter. - Demand of Secession leaders. - Noncommittal attitude of the Administration. - South Carolina Commissioners. — Their visit and demand on the President. - His embarrassment and reply. — Insolent response. Refusal to receive it. - Howard's Special message. resolution. Important speeches of Davis, Trumbull, and Seward. — Republican policy.
THOUGH the course of events at the South had long betokened the violent collision of hostile forces drawn up in armed array, and the mutterings of approaching storm became more and more distinct, there were hesitation and delay, on the part of the conspirators, in making the first assault and in delivering the first blow. They had indeed long indulged in utterances and preparations which admitted of no other interpretation than that of actual treason and rebellion. They had in fact been guilty of overt acts of crime, had violated the requirements of law, had infringed upon the personal rights of individuals and set at naught the chartered rights of the government. At least such was the expressed opinion of Judge Smalley of the southern district of New York, in a charge to the grand jury delivered near the opening of the year. "War, civil war," he said, "exists in portions of the Union; persons owing allegiance to the United States have confederated together, and with arms, by force and intimidation, have prevented the execution of the constitutional acts of Congress, have forcibly seized upon and hold a custom-house and postoffice, forts, arsenals, vessels, and other property belonging to the United States, and have actually fired upon vessels bearing the United States flag and carrying United States troops.
This . . . . is high treason by levying war. Either one of those acts will constitute high treason." Though these acts, as avowed by the learned jurist, might have been legally and logically "war, civil war," they were hardly so regarded by either party, by the assailant or assailed. They were looked upon rather as a species of that slaveholding lawlessness which inhered in slavery itself, allowed if not allowable, on which they who cherished the system always ventured, as essential to its safety, and which they who did not accepted as one of the conditions on which alone the Union could be maintained. Though these demonstrations had increased in violence and number, and were the proclaimed exponents of a well-defined and avowed purpose to subvert the government and rend the Union unless their authors were allowed to go in peace, there was a general scepticism on both sides in regard to actual hostilities. There was the traditional sentiment at the South that the Yankee would not fight, and the feeling at the North that this was but the old game of menace and bluster, and that the slaveholders would not be guilty of the ineffable folly of destroying the Union which really constituted the bulwark of their system, the Constitution which afforded, as the event proved, the only guaranty of their alleged property in man. Both, therefore, hesitated. Neither felt quite prepared, in formal terms, to declare war, throw down the gage of battle, and appeal to the stern arbitrament of the sword. But such hesitation could not long continue. Events were hasting to their culmination. The stake was too great, too much had been said and done, and the crisis could be no longer averted. Shall Fort Sumter be relieved and its garrison be supplied? became the immediate question in whose answer was involved the momentous issue. The Rebel demand was the withdrawal of the garrison. "Earnest in those opinions," said Jesse D. Bright in his speech in the United States Senate on the resolution for his expulsion, “I joined others in urgent appeals to the late administration to withdraw our forces from Fort Sumter, and make our differences the subject of peaceful arbitrament." But the administration, as little as it sympathized with the loyal masses of the North, was not prepared for so base a surrender, for