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Full text of "Life of James Buchanan, fifteenth president of the United States"

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*V*^^V* %/^"V* *V^^V* %/S 



LIFE 



OF 



JAMES BUCHANAN 



Fifteenth President oe the United States 



by 



GEORGE TICKNOIt CURTIS 



IN TWO VOLUMES 
Vol. II. 



NEW YORK 
HARTER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE 



1S8 3 



£a 37 

.Off 

2>. 



I *2~ lOo 

Copyright, 1883, by George Ticknor Ccrtis. 
All rights reserved. 



SttTiUj/icd Ij Smith £ McDougal. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 
1848— 1852. 

PACE 

Purchase of Wheatland— Nomination and Election of General Taylor— 
His Death and the Accession of President Fillmore— The Compromise 
Measures of 1850— Letters to Miss Lane— Public Letters on Political 
Topics ' 

CHAPTER II. 
1852. 

The Presidential Nominations of 1852— Election of General Franklin 
Pierce to the Presidency— Buchanan's Course in regard to tho Nomina- 
tion and the Election— His Efforts to defeat the Whig Candidate 34 

CHAPTER III. 
1852— 1853. 

Personal and Political Relations with the Prcsident-Elect and with Mr. 
Marcy, his Secretary of State— Buchanan is offered the Mission to 
England— His own Account of the Offer, and his Reasons for accept- 
ing it— Parting with his Friends and Neighbors in Lancaster — Corres- 
pondence with his Niece '° 

CHAPTER IV. 
1853-1856. 

Arrival in London— Presentation to the Queen at Osborne — The Ministry 
of Lord Aberdeen— Mr. Marty's Circular about Court Costumes, and 
the Dress Question at the English Court— Letters to Miss Lane DO 



i\ C ONTE N T S . 

CHAPTER V. 
1853-1856. 

PAGE 

-\egotiations with Lord Clarendon — The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty and 
Aflkirs in Central America— The Crimean War and the new British 
Doctrine respecting the Property of Neutrals 12(j 

CHAPTER VI. 
1853-1856. 

British Enlistments in the United States— Recall of the English Minister 
at Washington— The Ostend Conference 134 

CHAPTER VII 

1854-1855- 

The Social Position of Mr. Buchanan and Lis Niece in England 142 

CHAPTER VIII. 
1856. 

Iieturn to America— Nomination and Election to tho Presidency— Signifi- 
cance of Mr. Buchanan's Election in respect to the Si<:tional Questions 
—Private Correspondence Kjy 

CHAPTER IX. 
1857— 1858. 

Inauguration as President— Selection of a Cabinet— The Disturbances in 
Kansas— Mr. Buchanan's Construction of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, 
and of the " Platform " on which he was elected— Final Admission of 
Kansas into the Union jy- 

CHAPTER X. 
1857— 1861. 

Foreign Relations during Mr. Buchanan's Administration 211 



CONTENTS. v 

C II AFTER XI. 
1858— 1860. 

TAGE 

Complimentary Gift from Prince Albert to Mr. Buchanan— Visit of the 
Prince of Wales— Correspondence with the Qaeen— Minor [ncidentsof 
the Administration— Traits of Character— I,, stters to Bliss Lane— Mar- 
riage of a young Friend ~~ s 

CHAPTER XII. 

i860— March and June. 

The so-called " Covodo Investigation." 846 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Summary of the Slavery Questions from 1787 to 18G0— The Anti-Slavery 
Agitation in the North— Urowth and Political Triumph of the Repub- 
lican Party— Fatal Divisions among the Democrats— Mr. Buchanan 
declines to bo regarded as a Candidate fer a second Election 262 



CHAPTER XIV. 
i860 — October. 

General Scott's "Views." 297 

CHAPTER XV. 
i860— November. 

Election of President Lincoln— The Secession of South Carolina— Nature 
of the Doctrine of Secession — President Buchanan prepares to en- 
counter the Secession Movement — Distinction between making War on 
a State and enforcing the Laws of the United States 315 

CHAPTER XVI. 
i860 — December. 

The President's Annual Message of December 3, 1860 ^ u 



yi CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XVII. 
i860 — December. 

TAGE 

Reception of the President's Message in the Cabinet, in Congress, and in 
the Country— The firm Attitude and wise Policy of Mr. Buchanan 352 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
i860— December. 

General Scott again advises the President — Major Anderson's Removal 
from Fort Moultrio to Fort Sumter — Arrival of Commissioners from 
South Carolina in Washington — Their Interview and Communication 
with the President — The supposed Pledge of the Status Quo — The 
"Cabinet Crisis" of December 29th — Reply of the President to the 
South Carolina Commissioners — The anonymous Diarist of the North 
American Review confuted 305 

CHAPTER XIX. 
December, i860 — January, 1861. 

Resignation of General Cass from the Department of State — Reconstruc- 
tion of the Cabinet which followed after the Resignations of Messrs. 
Cobb, Thompson, and Thomas 390 

CHAPTER XX. 
i860— December. 

The Resignation of Secretary Floyd, and its Cause — Refutation of the 
Story of his stealing the Arms of the United States — General Scott's 
Assertions disproved 40b' 

CHAPTER XXI. 
November, i860— March, 1861. 

The Action of Congress on the Recommendations of the President's 
Annual Message — The " Crittenden 'Compromise " — Strange Course of 
the New York Tribune— Special Message of January 8, 1801 413 



CONTENTS. v ji 

OH APT BE XXII. 

1861 — January, February, and March. 

PAQE 

The "Peace Convention" — Fort Sumter — The Star of the West fired 
uj on in Charleston Harbor — Anderson'a temporary Truce — The Har- 
bor of Pensacola and Fort Pickens — Tho Communications between 
ex-President Tyler aud President Buchanan 439 

CHAPTER XXIII. 
1861 — January, February, and March 

Intervention of Virginia to prevent a Collision of Arms— Ex President 
Tyler's Mission to the President — The President's Preparations to re- 
inforce Anderson, in case of necessity — The Montgomery Congress aud 
the Confederate Provisional Government — Mr. Lincoln's Journey to 
Washington — The Neglects of Congress 471 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
1861— February and March. 

Commissioners from the Confederate Government — Mr. Jefl'erson Davis's 
Statement that they were invited by President Buchanan called in 
question 485 

CHAPTER XXV. 
1861 — February and March 

Troops at the Capital — Inauguration of President Lincoln— Important 
and alarming Despatches from Major Anderson — Mr. Holt's Communi- 
cation to President Lincoln — Attitude in which Mr. Buchanan left the 
Government to his Successor — His Departure for Wheatland 491 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
1861. 

Journey from Washington to Wheatland — Welcome from Friends and 
Neighbors — The Rancor of the Times makes Refutation a Duty of the 
Author — The Story of the "Cabinet Scene" — Mr. Seward's Charge 
against the late Administration — Pictures and Curiosities said to have 
been carried away from the White House — Miss Lane and the Alma- 
nach DeGotlm — Private Conversations at Wheatland invented and put 
into the mouth of Mr. Buchanan and his Guests 507 



viii CONTENTS. 

CH APT Eli XXVII. 
1861. 

PAGB 

Correspondence witli Mr. Stanton, Mr. Holt, General Dix and others... 528 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

1862-1864. 

Private Correspondence , 574 

CHAPTER XXIX. 
1865— 1868. 

Marriage of Miss Lane— Letters to her and other Persons 031 

CHAPTER XXX. 
1868. 



Death of Mr. Buchanan— His Character as a Statesman, a Man and a 



Christian. 



CGI 










WHEATLAND. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



CHAPTER I. 

1848— 1852. 

PURCHASE OF WHEATLAND — NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF GENERAL 
TAYLOR — HIS DEATH AND THE ACCESSION OF PRESIDENT FILLMORE — 
THE COMPROMISE MEASURES OF 1850 — LETTERB TO MIS8 LANE - 
PUBLIC LETTERS ON POLITICAL TOPICS. 

A T the distance of a little more than a mile from that part 
-^-^- of the city of Lancaster where Mr. Buchanan had lived 
for many year?, and a little beyond the corporate limits, there 
had long stood a substantial brick mansion on a small estate of 
twenty-two acres known as Wheatland, and sometimes called 
"The Wheatlands." The house, although not imposing, or 
indeed of any architectural beauty, was nevertheless a sort of 
lean ideal of a statesman's abode, with ample room and verge 

II. —1 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



lor all the wants of a moderate establishment. "Without and 
within, the place has an air of comfort, respectability, and re- 
pose. Jt had been for some years owned and occupied as a 
summer residence by the Hon. Wm. M. Meredith of Philadel- 
phia, ;i very eminent lawyer, who became Secretary of the 
Treasury in the administration of President Taylor. The house 
stands about half way up a gently rising ground, and has a 
wide lawn stretching down to the county road, shaded by oaks, 
elms, ami larches, interspersed with evergreens. The view from 
the front of the house, looking to the west of north, ranges over 
a broad expanse of the county of Lancaster, one of the richest of 
Pennsylvania's lovely domains, spread out in a map of highly 
cultivated farms, and dotted by the homesteads of a wealthy 
agricultural population. Behind the house stands a noble wood, 
which is reached through the gardens; and from the crown of 
the hill, in a southerly direction, the eye ranges over another 
line valley of smaller extent. Coolness and peace pervade this 
attractive old place, and it is not singular that a man of Mr. 
Buchanan's habits and temperament, who could not alford time 
and had no strong tastes for large pursuits of agriculture, should 
have coveted this his neighbor's dwelling. 

But ho did not break the commandment in seeking it. A 
treaty between two persons for the purchase of an estate is 
nut ordinarily a matter of much interest. But this one was 
conducted in a manner so honorable to both parties that a 
tew words may bo given to it. The buyer and the seller had 
always been on opposite political sides; but they were friends, 
and they were gentlemen. In the month of Juno, 1S48, Mr. 
Buchanan, having heard that Mr. Meredith wished to sell this 
property, addressed to him the following letter: 

[MR, EUCUANAN TO MR. MEREDITH.] 

Washington, June 12, 1848. 
Mr Dear Sir: 

I have received an intimation from our friends Fordney and Reynolds that 
you are willing to sell the Wheatlands, for the price which you gave Mr. 
Potter i\n- them. As I intend, in any event, to retire from public life on the 
4lh of Marchnext, I should be pleased to become the purchaser. The terms 
of payment I could make agreeable to yourself; and I should be glad if you 



PURCHASE OF WHEATLAND. 3 

would retain the possession until the autumn. In making this offer, I desire 
to purchase from you just what you purchased from Mr. Totter, and to pay 
you the same price which you paid him. If I have been misinformed in 
regard to your desire to sell, I know you will pardon this intrusion. 

Yours, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

To this letter Mr. Meredith replied a? follows : 

[MR. MEREDITH TO MR. LUCHANAN.] 

Philadelphia, June 19, 1848. 
Mr Dear Sir: — 

On my return home a day or two since I had the pleasure of finding your 
letter. A month ago, I should probably have accepted your offer, as I had 
then an opportunity of securing a place in this neighborhood that would have 
suited me better in point of proximity than "Wheatland. I have missed that, 
and it is now too late to make new arrangements for my family for the summer. 
I should not like to occupy the place after having sold it, for several reasons, 
and principally because the certainty of leaving it would tend to render the 
children uncomfortable through the season. These little people are imaginative 
and live very much on the future, and it would scarcely do to destroy all their 
little plans, and schemes, and expectations connected with the place at the 
very commencement of their holidays. I will therefore, with your permis- 
sion, postpone the subject to the autumn, when, if I should be disposed to 
part with the place, I will do myself the pleasure of writing to you. Of 
course your offer does not stand over; but I will certainly make no disposition 
of the property without first offering it to you. 

With great esteem, I am, sir, yours most respectfully, 

W. M. Meredith. 

In the autumn, Mr. Buchanan anain wrote: 

[MR. BUCHANAN TO MR. MEREDITH.] 

Washington, September 25, 1848. 
My Dear Sir : — 

Upon my return to this city, on Saturday night, I found your letter to Mr. 
Fordney kindby offering to dispose of Wheatland, including all that you bought 
from Mr. Potter, to myself at the price you paid, and the matting in the house 
at a valuation. I accept this proposition, and you may consider the bargain 
closed. 

Of the purchase-money I can conveniently pay $1750 at present, and the 
remainder on or before the first of January. If, however, you should need it 
sooner, I can procure it without much difficulty. 



4 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

You can make the deed when you think proper, and the affair of the mat- 
ting may be arranged at any time. 

With many thanks for your kindness, 

I remain yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

In the succeeding month of November, the following letters 
passed between the two gentlemen: 

[.MR. BUCHANAN TO MR. MEREDITH.] 

(Private.) Lancaster, November 21, 1843. 

Mv Dear Sir: — 

I have seen Mr. Fordney since I came here, who read me a part of your 
second letter. From this I infer that you regret you had parted with Wheat- 
land. Now, my dear sir, if you have the least inclination to retain it, speak 
the word and our bargain shall be as if it never had been. It will not put me 
to the least inconvenience, as I have an excellent house in Lancaster. Indeed 
I feel a personal interest, in having you in the midst of our society; and if 
you should retain Wheatland, I know that after you shall be satisfied with 
fame and fortune, you will make this beautiful residence your place of per- 
manent abode. 

Please to address me at Paradise P. O., Lancaster county, as I shall be at 
my brother's, near that place, to-morrow evening, where I shall remain until 
Thursday evening. 

From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[mr. meredith to mr. buchanan.] 

Philadelphia, November 23, 1848. 
My Dear Sir: — 

Your very kind letter was received yesterday, just as I was going to court 
in the morning, where I was kept without dinner till near six. I was then 
obliged to attend an evening engagement at seven. I mention these details 
to excuse myself for the apparent want of promptness in replying. I have in 
the first place to express to you my deep sense of the courtesy and considera- 
tion which induced you to make me the offer which your letter contains. I 
cannot accept it, because to do so would be to take advantage of your friendly 
impulses, which I ought not and cannot do. I have no doubt I shall find a 
place somewhere in the same county, and hope to call neighbors with you 
yet. I need not say how much I regret that Mr. Fordney should have been 
so indiscreet as to communicate my letter to you. 

My furniture, etc., is now removed, and I will deliver possession at once, 
and I wish you heartily, my dear sir, many years of happiness there. 
I am, always your obliged friend and servant, 

W. M. Meredith. 



CONSEQUENCES OF THE MEXICAN WAR. 5 

Iii December the purchase-money was paid and tbe deed of 
the property was executed by Mr. Meredith. Mr. Buchanan 
soon afterwards transferred his household gods to Wheatland, 
and from thai time until his death it was his permanent abode, 
when he did not occupy some official residence in Washington 
or in London. He removed to Wheatland the furniture which 
he had hitherto used in Washington and Lancaster, and made 
some new purchases. The style of everything was 6olid, com- 
fortable, and dignified, without any show. The library was in 
the eastern wing of the house, and was entered by a hall run- 
ning transversely from the main hall, which extended through 
the house from east and west, and was also entered from the 
principal parlor. At the window of the library farthest from 
the main hall was Mr. Buchanan's accustomed seat. L"::: r 
years of honorable public service, however, and sore trials, are 
to be traced, before we reach the period when he finally retired 
to the repose of this peaceful retreat. lie left office on the 4th 
of March, 1849, with a fixed purpose not to re-enter public life. 
But although he held no public position during the four years 
of General Taylor's and Mr. Fillmore's term, he could not 
avoid taking an active interest in public affairs ; and it will he 
seen that he was not at liberty to decline all public service 
when his party in 1853 again came into power. 

But it is now necessary to revert to the spring and summer 
of 1S4S, and to the state of things consequent upon the treaty 
which had been concluded with Mexico. The great acquisitions 
of territory made by the annexation of Texas, and the cession 
of New Mexico and California to the United States, had opened 
questions on which the Democratic and the Whig parties occu- 
pied very different positions. The acquisition of these countries 
was a Democratic measure ; and had that party retained its con- 
trol of the Federal Government, it is probable that its Northern 
and its Southern branches would have united upon some plan 
for disposing of the question of slavery in these new regions. 
The Whigs, on the other hand, although constituting the oppo- 
si'ion, and as such acting against the administration of Mr. 
Polk and its measures, were far from being unanimous in their 
resistance to the treaty which Mr. Polk proposed to make with 
Mexico. There were xery eminent Whigs who were opposed 



C LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

to all acquisitions of new territory, for various reasons, and 
especially because of the tendency of such acquisitions to 
re-open questions about slavery. There were other very promi- 
nent men in the Whig party who were willing to have New 
Mexico and California added to the Union, and to trust to the 
chances of a harmonious settlement of all questions that might 
follow in regard to the organization of governments for those 
extensive regions. It may not only now be seen, but it was 
apparent to thoughtful observers at the time, that the true 
course for the Whig party to pursue, was to adopt as its candi- 
date for the Presidency some one of its most eminent and 
experienced statesmen, who would represent a definite policy 
on this whole subject, either by an application of the so-called 
" Wilmot Proviso," or what was far better, considering the sec- 
tional feelings involved, by an extension to the Pacific Ocean 
of the Missouri Compromise line of division between free and 
slave territory. But there came about in the winter of lS-iS 
one of those states of popular feeling, in which the people of 
this country have sometimes taken it for granted that military 
success, united with certain traits of character, is a good ground 
for assuming fitness of an individual for the highest civil station. 
Along with this somewhat hazardous assumption there runs 
at such times the vague and scarcely expressed idea that the 
Presidency of the United States is to be treated as a reward for 
distinguished military services. After General Taylor's return 
from his Mexican campaign, in which a scries of brilliant victories 
were gained, on each occasion with a force numerically inferior 
to that of the enemy, he became at once a sort of popular idol. 
There were a good many elements in his personal character, 
which entitled him to strong esteem, and some which easily 
account for his sudden popularity. He had a blunt honesty 
and sincerity of purpose, which were backed by great strength 
of will, and prodigious energy as a warrior. The appellation 
of " Old Rough and Ready," bestowed on him by his soldiers, 
went straight to the popular heart. These indications of what 
has been called "availability" in the political nomenclature 
which has acquired a peculiar significance, were not lost upon that 
class of Whig politicians who were most disposed to be on the 
lookout for such means of political success. General Taylor, 



NOMINATION OF GENERAL TAYLOR 7 

although never a politician, and although, from his military life, 
he had rarely even voted at elections, was known to be a Whig, 
but, as he described himself, not an " Ultra Whig." He was 
at no pains to seek a nomination for the Presidency, but it was 
pretty well known that if it came to him unsought, lie would 
accept it. At the same time, with the modesty and sincerity 
that belonged to his honest nature, he did nut affect to conceal 
his own distrust of his fitness for the office. It was, with him, 
a matter which the people of the country were to decide. If 
they chose to call him to the office, he would discharge its 
duties to the best of his ability. The sagacity of that portion 
of the Whigs who expected to win a political victory with such 
a candidate, was not at fault. When the "Whig national con- 
vention, which was to make the nomination, assembled at 
Philadelphia in June, (1848), it was found that both Mr. Clay 
and Mr. Webster were to be disregarded ; and on the fourth 
ballotting General Taylor received 171 votes out of 279. It is 
a remarkable fact, that although this nomination was made by 
a national convention of all the Whigs, several attempts to have 
it declared by resolution that it must be accepted as a "Whig" 
nomination, and to declare what the principles of the Whig 
party were, were voted down. One proposal was to have it 
declared that Whig principles were " no extension of slavery-r- 
110 acquisition of foreign territory — protection to American 
industry, and opposition to executive usurpation." But singu- 
larly enough, these propositions were ruled to be out of order : 
and although the nomination of Millard Fillmore of New York, 
as Vice President, might seem to give the whole proceeding a 
Whig aspect, Mr. Fillmore's name, unconnected with any 
annunciation of a distinctive Whig policy, to be upheld in the 
election, could do nothing more than to acquire for the " ticket '' 
such weight as his personal character, not then very extensively 
known, could give to it. It was plain enough, therefore, that 
the election of General Taylor as President, if it should occur, 
would settle nothing in regard to the very serious questions that 
were already resulting from the Mexican war. 

It was this step on the part of the Whigs — nominating a can- 
didate without any declared policy — that entailed upon that 
party, at the beginning of General Taylor's administration, the 



8 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

most embarrassing questions, and increased the danger of the 
formation of a third party, on the subject of slavery, whose 
sphere of operations would be confined to the Northern States, 
and which might, for the first time in our political history, lead 
to a sectional division between the North and the South. 

On the other hand, the Democratic party had to nominate a 
candidate for the Presidency who, besides being of sufficient 
consideration throughout the country to counteract the popular 
furore about General Taylor, would represent some distinctive 
policy in regard to the new territories and the questions grow- 
ing out of their acquisition. The friends of General Cass, who, 
although he wore a military title, was not in the category of 
military heroes, claimed that his party services and public posi- 
tion entitled him to the nomination. Mr. Buchanan was by far 
the fittest candidate whom the Democrats could have adopted ; 
but he had made it a rule not to press his claims upon the con- 
sideration of his party, at the risk of impairing its harmony 
and efficiency. He had adhered to this rule on more than one 
previous occasion, and he did not now depart from it. General 
Cass was nominated by the Democratic Convention, and along 
with the candidate for the Vice-Presidency, "W. O. Butler of 
Kentucky, he was vigorously supported in the canvass by Mr. 
Buchanan. * But the Whig candidates, Taylor and Fillmore, 
received one hundred and sixty-three electoral votes, being seven- 
teen more than were necessary to a choice. General Taylor was 
inaugurated as President on the 4th of March, 1S49. Although 
he was a citizen of Louisiana and a slaveholder, he had re- 
ceived the electoral votes of the free States of Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, 
and Pennsylvania. These, with the votes of Delaware, Mary- 
land, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, 

* Tha " platform " of the Democratic party contained the following resolution : " That 
Congress has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with, or control the domestic 
institutions of the several States ; and that such States are the sole and proper judges of 
everything pertaining to their own affairs, not prohibited by the Constitution ; that all efforts, 
by abolitionists or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, 
or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and 
dangerous consequences, and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the 
happiness of the people and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought 
not to be countenanced by any friend to our political institutions." Excepting in an indirect 
manner, thia resolution did not enunciate any specific policy in regard to the newly acquired 
territories. 






PRESIDENT TAYLORS ADMINISTRATION. 9 

and Florida, had elected him. All the ollu-r States had been 
obtained for the Democratic candidates; for although the 
Northern Whigs who were dissatisfied with snch a candidate as 
General Taylor, and who had begun to call themselves "Con- 
science Whigs," together with a faction of the Northern De- 
mocracy known as " barn-burners " had put in nomination 
Ex-President Van Buren of New Fork and Mr. diaries Francis 
Adams of Massachusetts, this singularly combined party did not 
obtain the electoral vote of a single State. 

While General Taylor, therefore, entered upon the adminis- 
tration of the Government under circumstances which indi- 
cated much popular strength, the situation of the country, and 
his want of the higher qualities of statesmanship and civil 
experience, were not favorable to his success as a Presi- 
dent of the United States. His cabinet, moreover, was 
not, comparatively speaking, a strong one. The Secretary 
of State, the Hon. John M. Clayton of Delaware, was 
scarcely the equal of Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Buchanan, his 
immediate predecessors ; and his negotiation of the Clayton- 
Bulwer treaty was one of the most unfortunate occurrences in 
our diplomatic history. The Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. 
Meredith, was simply an accomplished lawyer and a most 
estimable gentleman. The Attorney-General, the Hon. Reverdy 
Johnson of Baltimore, was a very eminent advocate in the Su- 
preme Court of the United States, but not a wise and far-seeing 
statesman. The ablest man in the cabinet, intellectually, was 
the Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio. The other Secretaries were 
not men of much renown or force. When this administration 
took charge of the executive department of the Government, a 
session of Congress was not to commence until December, 1849. 
At that session, California, which had adopted a State constitu- 
tion and one that prohibited slavery, demanded admission into 
the Union as a free State. New Mexico and Utah required the 
organization of territorial governments. The whole South was 
in a state of sensitiveness in regard to these matters, and also in 
regard to the escape of slaves into free territory and to the grow- 
ing unwillingness of many of the people of the Northern States 
to have executed that provision of the Constitution which re- 
quired the surrender of fugitives from service. General Taylor's 



10 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

policy on these dangerous subjects was not a statesman -like or 
a practicable one. In Lis annual message (December, 1849), 
lie recommended the admission of California as a State ; but he 
proposed that the other Territories should be left as they were 
until they had formed State governments and had applied for 
admission into the Union. Practically, this would have involved 
the necessity for governing those regions largely by military 
power ; for the peace must be kept between the inhabitants of 
Texas and the inhabitants of New Mexico, and between the 
United States and Texas, in reference to her boundaries. In 
the opposite sections of the Union popular feeling was rising to 
a point of great excitement. In the North, the " Wilmot Pro- 
viso " was most insisted upon. In the South, this was resented 
as an indignity. By the end of January, 1850, the angry dis- 
cussion of these subjects in Congress had obstructed almost all 
public business, and this excitement pervaded the legislative 
bodies of the States and the whole press of both sections. It 
seemed as if harmony and judicious legislation were impossible. 
It was at this extraordinary juncture that Mr. Clay came for- 
ward in the Senate with his celebrated propositions which be- 
came known as the " Compromise Measures of 1850."* The 
discussion of these measures went on until the 9th of July 
(1S50), on which day General Taylor died, after a short illness. 
His policy was characterized by Mr. Webster as marked by the 
foresight of a soldier, but not by the foresight of a statesman. 
It was attended w T ith the danger of a collision between the 
United States and Texas, which might have led to a civil war. 
Mr. Fillmore, however, who as Vice-President succeeded to 
General Taylor, and who was sworn into office as President on 
the 10th of July, was a civilian and was not without experience 
as a public man, although not hitherto very conspicuous. Mr. 
Webster, Mr. Clay and Mr. Calhounf had all strenuously advo- 
cated the Compromise Measures. A particular description of 
this great settlement must be deferred to a future chapter. But 
in order that these measures might receive their consummation, 
a reconstruction of the cabinet became necessary. All of the 
Secretaries appointed by General Taylor resigned. The State 

* Introduced in the Senate, January 29th, 1850. 

t Mr. Calhoun died at Washington on the last day of March, 1850, at the age of 08. 



LETTER TO A PUBLIC MEETING. 11 

Department was offered to and accepted by Mr. Webster. 
Thomas Corwin of Ohio became Secretary of the Treasury ; 
Charles M. Conrad of Louisiana, Secretary of War; William 
A. Graham of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy ; Nathan 
K.Hall of New York, Postmaster-General ; John J.Crittenden 
of Kentucky, Attorney-General; and Alexander II. II. Stuart 
of Virginia, Secretary of the Interior. Thus a new Whig ad- 
ministration, pledged to the pacification of the country by a 
policy very different from that of General Taylor, came into 
the Executive Department. The Compromise Measures became 
laws before the adjournment of Congress, which occurred on the 
30th of September ; and then came the question whether they 
were to be efficacious in quieting the sectional controversies about 
slavery, and were to be acquiesced in by the North and the 
South. Mr. Buchanan, although not in official life, in common 
with many other patriotic men of both the principal parties, 
lent all his influence to the support of this great settlement . In 
November, 1850, he had to address a letter to a public meeting 
in Philadelphia, called to sustain the Compromise Measures, in 
which he said : 

[letter to a public meeting.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Nov. 19, 1850. 

I now say that the platform of our blessed Union is strong enough and 
broad enough to sustain all true-hearted Americans. It is an elevated — it is a 
glorious platform on which the down-trodden nations of the earth gaze with 
hope and desire, with admiration and astonishment. Our Union is the star 
of the West, whose genial and steadily increasing influence will at last, should 
we remain an united people, dispel the gloom of despotism from the ancient 
nations of the world. Its moral power will prove to be more potent than 
millions of armed mercenaries. And shall this glorious star set in darkness 
before it has accomplished half its mission ? Heaven forbid ! Let us all exclaim 
with the heroic Jackson, 'The Union must and shall be preserved.' 

And what a Union has this been ! The history of the human race pre- 
sents no parallel to it. The bit of striped bunting which was to be swept 
from the ocean by a British navy, according to the predictions of a British 
statesman, previous to the war of 1812, is now displayed on every sea, and in 
every port of the habitable globe. Our glorious stars and stripes, the flag of 
our country, now protects Americans in every clime. ' I am a Roman citi- 
zen! ' was once the proud exclamation which everywhere shielded an ancient 



12 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Roman from insult and injustice. ' I am an American citizen ! ' is now an 
exclamation of almost equal potency throughout the civilized world. This is 
a tribute due to the power and resources of these thirty-one United States. 
In a just cause, we may defy the world in arms. We have lately presented a 
spectacle which has astonished the greatest captain of the age. At the call of 
their country, an irresistible host of armed men, and men, too, skilled in the 
use of arms, sprang up like the soldiers of Cadmus, from the mountains and 
valleys of our confederacy. The struggle among them was not who should 
remain at home, but who should enjoy the privilege of enduring the dangers 
and privations of a foreign war, in defence of their country's rights. Heaven 
forbid that the question of slavery should ever prove to be the stone thrown 
into their midst by Cadmus, to make them turn their arms against each other, 
and die in mutual conflict. 

The common sufferings and common glories of the past, the prosperity 
of the present, and the brilliant hopes of the future, must impress every patri- 
otic heart with deep love and devotion for the Union. Who that is now a 
citizen of this vast Republic, extending from the St. Lawrence to the Rio 
Grande, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, does not shudder at the idea 
of being transformed into a citizen of one of its broken, jealous and hostile 
fragments ? What patriot had not rather shed the last drop of his blood, than 
see the thirty-one brilliant stars, which now float proudly upon our country's 
flag, rudely torn from the national banner, and scattered in confusion over the 
face of the earth ? 

Rest assured that all the patriotic emotions of every true-hearted Penn- 
sylvanian, in favor of the Union and Constitution, are shared by Southern 
people. What battle-field has not been illustrated by their gallant deeds; and 
when in our history have they ever shrunk from sacrifices and sufferings in 
the cause of their country ? What, then, means the muttering thunder which 
we hear from the South ? The signs of the times are truly portentous. 
Whilst many in the South openly advocate the cause of secession and union, 
a large majority, as I firmly believe, still fondly cling to the Union, awaiting 
with deep anxiety the action of the North on the compromise lately effected 
in Congress. Should this be disregarded and nullified by the citizens of the 
North, the Southern people may become united, and then farewell, a long 
farewell, to our blessed Union. I am no alarmist ; but a brave and wise man 
looks danger steadily in the face. This is the best means of avoiding it. I 
am deeply impressed with the conviction that the North neither sufficiently 
understands nor appreciates the danger. For my own part, I have been 
steadily watching its progress for the last fifteen years. During that period I 
have often sounded the alarm ; but my feeble warnings have been disregarded. 
I now solemnly declare, as the deliberate conviction of my judgment, that two 
things are necessary to preserve this Union from danger : 

' 1. Agitation in the North on the subject of Southern slavery must be 
rebuked and put down by a strong and enlightened public opinion. 



LETTER TO A PUBLIC MEETING. 13 

'2. The Fugitive Slave Law must, be enforced in its spirit. 1 

On each of these points I shall offer a few observations. 

Those are greatly mistaken who suppose that the tempest that is now 
raging in the South has been raised solely by (he acts or omissions of the 
present Congress. The minds of the Southern people have been gradually 
prepared for this explosion by the events of the last fifteen years. Much and 
devotedly as they love the Union, many of them are now taught to believe 
that the peace of their own firesides, and the security of their families, can- 
not be preserved without separation from us. The crusade of the Abolition- 
ists against their domestic peace and security commenced in 183o. General 
Jackson, in his annual message to Congress, in December of that year, speaks 
of it in the following emphatic language: 'I must also invite your attention to 
the painful excitement produced in the South by attempts to circulate through 
the mails inflammatory appeals, addressed to the passions of the slaves, in 
prints and various sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate them to insur- 
rection, and produce all the horrors of a servile war.' 

From that period the agitation in the North against Southern slavery 
has been incessant, by means of the press, of State Legislatures, of State and 
County conventions, Abolition lectures, and every other method which fanatics 
and demagogues could devise. The time of Congress has been wasted in vio- 
lent harangues on the subject of slavery. Inflammatory appeals have been 
sent forth from this central point throughout the country, the inevitable effect 
of which has been to create geographical parties, so much dreaded by the 
Father of his Country, and to estrange the northern and southern divisions of 
the Union from each other. 

Before the Wilmot proviso was interposed, the abolition of slavery in the 
District of Columbia had been the chief theme of agitation. Petitions for 
this purpose, by thousands, poured into Congress, session after session. The 
rights and the wishes of the owners of slaves within the District were 
boldly disregarded. Slavery was denounced as a national disgrace, which the 
laws of God and the laws of men ought to abolish, cost what it might. It 
mattered not to the fanatics that the abolition of slavery in the District would 
convert it into a citadel, in the midst of two slaveholding States, from which 
the Abolitionist could securely scatter arrows, firebrands and death all around. 
It mattered not with them that the abolition of slavery in the District would 
be a violation of the spirit of the Constitution and of the implied faith pledged 
to Maryland and Virginia, because the whole world knows that those States 
would never have ceded it to the Union, had they imagined it could ever be 
converted by Congress into a place from which their domestic peace and secur- 
ity might be assailed by fanatic3 and Abolitionists. Nay, the Abolitionists 
went even still further. They agitated for the purpose of abolishing slavery in 
the forts, arsenals and navy-yards which the Southern States had ceded to the 
Union, under the Constitution, for the protection and defence of the country. 

Thus stood the question when the Wilmot proviso was interposed, to 
add fuel to the flame, and to excite the Southern people to madness. 



14 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



It would be the extreme of dangerous infatuation to suppose that the 
Union was not then in serious danger. Had the Wilraot proviso become a 
law, or had slavery been abolished in the District of Columbia, nothing short 
of a special interposition of Divine Providence could have prevented the 
secession of most, if not all, the slaveholding States. 

It was from this great and glorious old Commonwealth, rightly denomi- 
nated the 'Keystone of the Arch,' that the first ray of light emanated to 
dispel the gloom. She stands now as the days-man, between the North and 
the South, and can lay her hand on either party, and say, thus far shalt thou 
go, and no farther. The wisdom, moderation and firmness of her people 
qualify her eminently to act as the just and equitable umpire between the 
extremes. 

It was the vote in our State House of Representatives, refusing to con- 
sider the instructing resolution in favor of the Wilmot Proviso, which first 
cheered the heart of every patriot in the land. This was speedily followed by 
a vote of the House of Representatives at Washington, nailing the Wilmot 
Proviso itself to the table. And here I ought not to forget the great meeting 
held in Philadelphia on the birthday of the Father of his Country, in favor of 
the Union, which gave a happy and irresistible impulse to public opinion 
throughout the State, and I may add throughout the Union. 

The honor of the South has been saved by the Compromise. The Wil- 
mot Proviso is forever dead, and slavery will never be abolished in the District 
of Columbia whilst it continues to exist in Maryland. The receding storm in 
the South still continues to dash with violence, but it will gradually subside, 
should agitation cease in the North. All that is necessary for us to do ' is to 
execute the Fugitive Slave Law,' and to let the Southern people alone, suffer- 
ing them to manage their own domestic concerns in their own way 

2. I shall proceed to present to you some views upon the subject of the 
much misrepresented Fugitive Slave Law. It is now evident, from all the 
signs of the times, that this is destined to become the principal subject of agi- 
tation at the present session of Congress, and to take the place of the Wil- 
mot Proviso. Its total repeal or its material modification will henceforward 
be the battle cry of the agitators of the North. 

And what is the character of this law ? It was passed to carry into exe- 
cution a plain, clear, and mandatory provision of the Constitution, requiring 
that fugitive slaves, who fly from service in one State to another, shall be de- 
livered up to their masters. The provision is so explicit that he who runs may 
read. No commentary can present it in a stronger light than the plain words 
of the Constitution. It is a well-known historical fact, that without this pro- 
vision, the Constitution could never have existed. How could this have been 
otherwise? Is it possible for a moment to believe that the slave States would 
have formed a union with the free States, if under it their slaves, by simply 
escaping across the boundary which separates them, would acquire all the 
rights of freemen ? This would have been to offer an irresistible temptation 



LETTER TO A PUBLIC MEETING. 15 

to all the slaves of the South to precipitate themselves upon the North. 
The Federal Constitution, therefore, recognizes in the clearest and most em- 
phatic terms, the property in slaves, and protects this property by prohibiting 
any State into which a slave might escape, from discharging him from slavery, 
and by requiring that he shall be delivered up to his master. 

The two principal objections urged against the Fugitive Slave law are, 
that it will promote kidnapping, and that it does not provide a trial by 
jury for the fugitive in the State to which he has escaped. 

The very same reasons may be urged, with equal force, against the act 
of 1793 ; and yet it existed for more than half a century without encountering 
any such objections. 

In regard to kidnapping, the fears of the agitators are altogether ground- 
less. The law requires that the fugitive shall be taken before the judge 
or commisssioner. They must there prove, to the satisfaction of the magis- 
trate, the identity of the fugitive, that ho is the master's property, and has 
escaped from his service. Now, I ask, would a kidnapper ever undertake 
such a task? Would he suborn witnesses to commit perjury, and expose him- 
self to detection before a judge or commissioner, and in the presence of the 
argus eyes of a non-slaveholding community, whose feelings will always be 
in favor of the slave ? No, never. The kidnapper seizes his victim in the 
silence of the night, or in a remote and obscure place, and hurries him away. 
He does not expose himself to the public gaze. He will never bring the 
unfortunate object of his rapacity before a commissioner or a judge. Indeed, 
I have no recollection of having heard or read of a case in which a free 
man was kidnapped under the forms of law, during the whole period of more 
than half a century, since the act of 1793 was passed. 

The Union cannot long endure, if it be bound together only by paper 
bonds. It can be firmly cemented alone by the affections of the people of the 
different States for each other. Would to Heaven that the spirit of mutual 
forbearance and brotherly love which presided at its birth, could once more be 
restored to bless the land ! Upon opening a volume, a few days since, my 
eye caught a resolution of a Convention of the counties of Maryland, assem- 
bled at Annapolis, in June, 174-i, in consequence of the passage by the Brit- 
ish Parliament of the Boston Port Bill, which provided for opening a sub- 
scription ' in the several counties of the Province, for an immediate collection 
for the relief of the distressed inhabitants of Boston, now cruelly deprived of 
the means of procuring subsistence for themselves and families by the opera- 
tion of the said act of blocking up their harbor.' Would that the spirit of 
fraternal affection which dictated this noble resolution, and which actuated all 
the conduct of our revolutionary fathers, might return to bless and reanimate 
the bosoms of their descendants ! This would render our Union indissoluble. 
It would be the living soul infusing itself into the Constitution and inspiring 
it with irresistible energy." 



lc LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

I select from the letters of Mr. Buchanan to his niece, written 
in the years 1850, 1851, and 1852, some of those which indicate 
his constant interest in her, and in their home circle of friends, 
amid the very busy life which he led even when he was not in 
any official position : 

[to miss lane.] 

Bedford Springs, August 4, 1850. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

I received your letter yesterday and was rejoiced to hear from home, 

especially of Mr. 's visit to Miss Hetty, which, I know must have 

rendered her very happy. I hope he will do better than Mr. or 

Mr. . 

I have found Bedford very pleasant, as I always do ; but we have very 
few of the old set, and the new are not equal to them. I will not tell you 
how many inquiries have been made for you, lest this might make you vainer 
than you are, which to say the least is unnecessary. 

I intend, God willing, to leave here to-morrow morning. Six of us have 
taken an extra to Chambersburg : Mr. Wilmer and his daughter, Mrs. and 
Miss Bridges, Mr. Reigart and myself. I shall leave them at Loudon, as I 
proposed, and hope to be at home on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday next, I 
know not which. 

It was kind in you, and this I appreciate, to say a word to me about Mrs. 

• . Should Miss Hetty marry Mr. , I shall bring this matter to 

a speedy conclusion one way or the other. I shall then want a housekeeper, 
as you would not be fit to superintend: and whose society would be so 
charming as that of Mrs. ? 

Remember me affectionately to Mrs. Dunham and Miss Hetty, and believe 
me to be yours " with the highest consideration." 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, October 12, 1850. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

Mr. Mcllvain of Philadelphia, with whom I had contracted to put up a fur- 
nace and kitchen range this week, has disappointed me, and I cannot leave 
home until this work shall be finished. He writes me that he will certainly 
commence on Monday morning ; and if so, I hope to be in New York the 
beginning of the week after, say about the 22d instant. 

You ask what about your staying at Mrs. Bancroft's. With this I should 
be very much pleased ; but it seems from your letter that she did not ask you 
to do so. She wished " to see a great deal " of you when you came to New 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 17 

York, implying that you were not to stay with her all the time. If she ha3 
since given you an invitation, accept it 

Could I have anticipated that you would not pass some time at Governor 
Marcy's, I should have arranged this matter by writing to Mrs. Bancroft. It 
is now too late. 

I may probably pass a few days at the Astor House in New York; but I 
may have to see so many politicians, that I should have but little time to 
devote to you. I desire very much to reach New York before the departure 
of Mr. Slidell which will be on the 2Gth instant. 

I shall be very glad, if Clementina Pleasanton should accompany you 
home, though the leaves are beginning to change color and to fall. 



Professor Muhlenbergh, having been appointed a professor in Pennsylvania 
College (Gettysburg), has ceased to teach school, and James Uenry left for 
Princeton on Thursday last. 

We have no local news, at least I know of none, that would interest you. 
I think we shall have very agreeable neighbors in the Gonders at Abbeville. 
Please to remember me very kindly to Mr. and Mrs. Robinson and give my 
love to Rose. 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, January 17, 1851. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

I have received yours of the 15th, and we are all happy to learn that you 
have reached Washington so pleasantly. I hope that your visit may prove 
agreeable; and that you may return home self-satisfied with all that may 
transpire during your absence. Keep your eyes about you in the gay scenes 
through which you are destined to pass, and take care to do nothing and say 
nothing of which you may have cause to repent. Above all be on your guard 
against flattery ; and should you receive it, "let it pass into one ear gracefully 
and out at the other." Many a clever girl has been spoiled for the useful 
purposes of life, and rendered unhappy by a winter's gaiety in Washington. 
I know, however, that Mrs. Pleasanton will take good care of you and pre- 
vent you. from running into any extravagance. Still it is necessary that, with 
the blessing of Providence, you should take care of yourself. 

I attended the festival in Philadelphia, on the occasion of the arrival of the 
steamer " City of Glasgow," but did not see Lilly Macalester. Her father 

II.— 2 



18 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

thinks of taking her to the World's Fair in London. I saw Mrs. Plitfr for a 
moment, who inquired kindly after you. 

We are moving on here in the old way, and I have no news of any interest 
to communicate to you. Eskridge was out here last night, and said they were 
all well in town. I met Mrs. Baker yesterday on the street with her insepar- 
able companion. She was looking very well. 

I have not yet determined whether I shall visit Washington during the 
present session ; but it is probable that I may, on or about the first of Feb- 
ruary. 

Give my love to Laura and Clementina, and remember me in the kindest 
terms to Mr. and Mrs. Pleasanton. 

Miss Hetty and James desire their love to you. 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland near Lancaster, April 7, 1S51. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

Supposing that you are now in Baltimore, I send you the enclosed letter 
received yesterday. It was inadvertently opened by me ; but the moment I 
saw it was addressed to " My dear Harriet " it was closed. It may contain 
love or treason for aught I know. 

Eskridge was here yesterday; but he gave me no news, except that Mary 
and he were at a party at Mr. McElrath's on Wednesday evening last. 

The place now begins to look beautiful, and we have concerts of the birds 
every morning. Still I fear it will appear dull to you after your winter's 
gaiety. Lewis has gone, and we have a new coachman in the person of Mr. 
Francis Quinn, who with his lady occupy the gardener's house. They have 
no children. Mr. C. Reigart will leave here on Saturday next for the World's 

Fair and a trip to the continent. Your ci-devant lover, Mr. , purposes 

to go likewise ; but many persons think he will not get off on account of the 
expense. Mr. and Mrs. Gonder prove to be very agreeable neighbors. They 
are furnishing their house and fitting up their grounds with much taste and at 
considerable expense. 

With my kindest regards for' Mr. and Mrs. White and the young ladies, I 
remain, Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Nov. 4, 1851. 
My Dear Harriet : — 

I have received your favor of the 29 th ultimo, and would have answered 
it sooner had I not been absent at Lebanon on its arrival. You appear to 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 19 

have already got under full sail in Pittsburgh, and I hope your voyage through- 
out may be prosperous and happy. If you have found the place even blacker 
and dirtier than you anticipated, you will find the people warm-hearted, gen- 
erous, kind and agreeable. But do not for a moment believe that any hearts 
will be broken, even if you should 1'ail to pay all the visits to families where 
you are invited. I know, however, that you are not so romantic a girl as to 
take for gospel all the pretty things which may be said to you. 

My dinner to the bride and groom is to come off next Saturday, and I 
intend to call upon Mrs. Baker to be mistress of ceremonies. I had to send 
for her on Friday last to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Yost, whom I was compelled 
to leave, by an engagement to be present at a Jubilee at Lebanon. 

Eskridge was here on Sunday, but brought no budget of news. Indeed, 
I believe, there is nothing stirring which would interest you. 

I have a friend in Pittsburgh, such as few men ever had, by name Major 
David Lynch. He does not move in the first circle of fashionable society, 
but he exercises more influence than any other Democrat in that region. His 
devotion to me is unexampled. With one such man there would be no diffi- 
culty in Lancaster county. I know that Dr. Speer don't like him ; but when 
you visit Mrs. Collins, get Mr. McCandless to request him to pay you a visit 
and treat him with the utmost kindness. His wife is a lady of fine sense ; 
but I presume you will not be asked to visit her. If you should, make it a 
point to go. 

Miss Hetty and myself are now alone, although I have many calls. For 
the last two days, and a great part of the night I have been constantly at 
work in answering the letters which have accumulated during my absence at 
New York, the Harrisburg Fair and Lebanon. 

Miss Hetty desires to be kindly remembered to you. Take care of your- 
self. Be prudent and discreet among strangers. I hope you will not remove 
the favorable impression you have made. Please to present my kindest regards 
to Dr. and Mrs. Speer, Miss Lydia and the family, and believe me to be, 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

P. S. — If I believed it necessary, I would advise you to be constant 
in your devotions to your God. He is a friend who will never desert 
you. Men are short-sighted and know not the consequences of their own 
actions. The most brilliant prospects are often overcast ; and those who com- 
mence life under the fairest auspices, are often unfortunate. Ask wisdom 
and discretion from above. , and , and married unfor- 
tunately. I should like nothing better than to see you well settled in life ; 
but never think of marrying any man unless his moral habits are good, and 
his business or his fortune will enable him to support you comfortably. So 
now my postscript is like a woman's ; the best the last. 



20 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN.' 



[to miss lane.] 

Saturday Morning, Nov. 8, 1851. 
Mt Dear Harriet: — 

Our excellent friend and neighbor, Mr. G-onder, died this morning, and this 
event has covered us with gloom. Of course there will be no dinner party 
to-day. We are all well and going on as usual. 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane.] 

"Wheatland, near Lancaster, Dec. 12, 1851. 
Mv Dear Harriet: — 

I have received your letter of the 6th instant, and am happy to learn you 
are still enjoying yourself at Pittsburgh. I have not any news of interest to 
communicate, unless it be that Mary and Kate Reynolds went to Philadelphia 
on Wednesday last, and James Henry is to be at home next week. At 
Wheatland we are all moving on in the old way. My correspondence is now 
so heavy as to occupy my whole time from early morning until late at night, 
except when visitors are with me. 

I still continue to be of the same opinion I was concerning the Presidency ; 
but this is for yourself alone. 

My life is now one of great labor, but I am philosopher enough not to be 
very anxious. 

With my kindest regards for Mrs. Collins and Sis, 

I remain yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Feb. 24, 1852. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

On my return home from Richmond and Washington, on the day before 
yesterday, I received yours of the 9 th instant. I am truly grateful that you 
have enjoyed your visit to Pittsburgh so much. I have no desire that you 
shall return home until it suits your own inclination. All I apprehend is that 
you may wear out your welcome. It will be impossible for me to visit Pitts- 
burgh and escort you home. 

Senator Gwin misinformed me as to the value of Mr. Baker's office. The 
salary attached to it is $4000 per annum. He thinks that Mrs. Baker ought 
by all means to go to California. I have not seen Eskridge since my return. 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 21 

I took Miss to Washington and left her there, and am truly glad to 

be clear of her. 

"Whilst in Washington I saw very little of the fashionable society. My 
time was almost constantly occupied with the politicians. Still I partook of a 
family dinner with the Plcasantons, who all desired to be kindly remembered 
to you. I never saw Clementina looking better than she does, and they all 
appear to be cheerful. Still when an allusion was made to her mother, she 
was overcome at the table and had to leave it. Mr. Pleasanton is evidently 
in very delicate health, though he goes to his office. 

I called to see Mrs. Walker, who inquired very kindly for you, and so did 
Col. King and others. 

The mass of letters before me is " prodigious," and I only write to show 
that you are not forgotten. 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 



[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, March 13, 1852. 
My Dear Harriet : — 

I have received yours of the 9th instant. It was difficult to persuade you 
to visit Pittsburgh, but it seems to be still more difficult for you to leave it. 
I am, however, not disappointed in this particular, because I know the kind- 
ness and hospitality of the people. There is not a better or more true-hearted 
man alive than John Anderson, and his excellent wife well deserves such a 
husband. Make out your visit, which, it is evident, you propose to continue 
until the middle of April ; but after your return I hope you will be content 
to remain at home during the summer. The birds are now singing around 
the house, and we are enjoying the luxury of a fine day in the opening spring. 

Miss Hetty has just informed me that Mrs. Lane gave birth to a son a few 
days ago, which they call John N. Lane. She heard it this morning at 
market from Eskridge, whom I have not seen since last Sunday week. I 
hope he will be here to-morrow. 

The new Court House is to be erected on Newton Lightner's corner. Its 
location has caused much excitement in Lancaster. It enables your sweet- 
heart, Mr. Evans, Mr. Lightner and Mr. ■ to sell their property to 

advantage. We have no other news. 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

P. S. — Miss Harriet Lane to me ; but Miss Harriet to the rest of man 
and womankind. 



22 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



[TO MISS LANE.] 

Saratoga Springs, August 8, 1852. 
Mr Dear Harriet: — 

I arrived at this place on Thursday evening last, and now on Sunday 

morning before church am addressing you this note I 

find the Springs very agreeable and the company very pleasant, yet there 
does not appear to be so many of the " dashers " here as I have seen. The 
crowd is very great, in fact it is quite a mob of fashionable folks. Mrs. Plitt 
is very agreeable and quite popular. Mrs. Slidell is the most gay, brilliant and 
fashionable lady at the Springs ; and as I am her admirer, and attached to her 
party, I am thus rendered a little more conspicuous in the beau monde than I 
could desire. Mrs. Rush conducts herself very much like a lady, and is quite 
popular. She has invited me to accompany her to Alboni's concert to-morrow 
evening, and I would rather go with her to any other place. Alboni is all the 
rage here. I have seen and conversed with her, and am rather impressed in 
her favor. She is short and thick, but has a very good, arch and benevolent 
countenance. I shall, however, soon get tired of this place, and do not 
expect to remain here longer than next Thursday. Not having heard from 
you, I should have felt somewhat uneasy, had Mary not written to Mrs. Plitt. 
I expect to be at home in two weeks from the time I started. Mrs. Plitt 
desires me to send her love to you, Mrs. Baker and Miss Hetty. Remember 
me affectionately to Mrs. Baker, Miss Hetty and James Henry, and believe 
me to be 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

Numerous public letters written by Mr. Buchanan in these 
years, 1851 and 1852, find their appropriate place here. They 
exhibit fully all his sentiments and opinions on the topics 
which then agitated the country. 

[TO COL. GEORGE R. FALL.*] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Dec. 24th, 1851. 
Mr Dear Sir: — 

I am sorry I did not receive your letter sooner. I might then have given 
it the " old-fashioned Democratic " answer which you desire. But I am com- 
pelled to leave home immediately ; and if I should not write at the present 
moment, it will be too late for the 8th of January Convention. I must 
therefore be brief. 

My public life is before the country, and it is my pride never to have 

* From the Missiedppian of January 9, 1852. 



PUBLIC LETTERS. 23 

evaded an important political question. The course of Democracy is always 
Straight ahead, and public men who determine to pursue it never involve 
themselves in labyrinths, except when they turn to the right or the left from 
the plain forward path. Madison's Report and Jefferson's Kentucky Resolu- 
tions are the safest and surest guides to conduct a Democratic administration 
of the Federal Government, It is the true mission of Democracy to resist 
centralism and the absorption of unconstitutional powers by the President and 
Congress. The sovereignty of the States and a devotion to their reserved 
rights can alone preserve and perpetuate our happy system of Government. 
The exercise of doubtful and constructive powers on the part of Congress has 
produced all the dangerous and exciting questions which have imperilled the 
Union. The Federal Government, even confined within its strict constitutional 
limits, must necessarily acquire more and more influence through the increased 
and increasing expenditure of public money, and hence the greater necessity 
for public economy and watchful vigilance. Oar Constitution, when it pro- 
ceeded from the hands of its framers, was a simple system ; and the more 
free from complexity it remains, the more powerfully, satisfactorily and bene- 
ficially will it operate within its legitimate sphere. 

It is centralization alone which has prevented the French people from 
establishing a permanent republican government, and entailed upon them so 
many misfortunes. Had the provinces of France been converted into sepa- 
rate territorial provinces, like our State governments, Paris would then no 
longer have been France, and a revolution at the capital would not have 
destroyed the Federative Republic. 

Had the principles I have enumerated been observed by the Federal Gov- 
ernment and by the people of the several States, we should have avoided the 
alarming questions which have arisen out of the institution of domestic sla- 
very. The people of each State would then, to employ a homely but expres- 
sive phrase, have attended to their own business and not have interfered in 
the domestic concerns of their sister States. But on this important subject I 
have so fully presented my views in the enclosed letter to the great meeting 
in Philadelphia, held in November, 1850, that it would be useless to repeat 
them, even if time would permit. 

From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[to tee central southern rignts association of virginia.] 

WnEATLAND, near Lancaster, April 10, 1851. 
Mr Dear Sir : — 

I have received your kind letter of the 2d inst., with the resolutions 
adopted by the Central Southern Rights Association of Virginia, inviting me 
to address the Association at such time as may suit my convenience, and to 
counsel with them " in regard to the best means to be adopted in the present 
alarming crisis, for the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union of 
these States in their original purity." 



24 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

I should esteem it both a high honor and a great privilege to comply with 
this request, and therefore regret to say, that engagements, which I need not 
specify, render it impossible for me to visit Richmond during the present, or 
probably the next month. 

The Association do me no more than justice, when attributing to me a 
strong desire "for the maintenance of the Constitution, and the Union of the 
States in their original purity." 

Whilst few men in this country would venture to avow a different senti- 
ment, yet the question still remains, by what means can this all-important 
purpose be accomplished? I feel no hesitation in answering, by returning to 
the old Virginia platform of State rights, prescribed by the resolutions of 
1798, and Mr. Madison's report. The powers conferred by the Constitu- 
tion upon the General Government, must be construed strictly, and Congress 
must abstain from the exercise of all doubtful powers. But it is said these 
are mere unmeaning abstractions— and so they are, unless honestly carried 
into practice. Like the Christian faith, however, when it is genuine, good 
results will inevitably flow from a sincere belief in such a strict construction 
of the Constitution. 

Were this old republican principle adopted in practice, we should no longer 
witness unwarrantable and dangerous attempts in Congress to interfere with 
the institution of domestic slavery, which belongs exclusively to the States 
where it exists — there would be no efforts to establish high protective tariffs — 
the public money would not be squandered upon a general system of internal 
improvements — general in name, but particular in its very nature, and corrupt- 
ing in its tendency, both to the Government and to the people ; and we would 
retrench our present extravagant expenditure, pay our national debt, and 
return to the practice of a wise economy, so essential to public and private 
prosperity. Were I permitted to address your Association, these are the 
counsels I should give, and some of the topics I should discuss, as the best 
means " for the maintenance both of the Constitution and the Union of the 
States, in their original purity," and for the perpetuation of our great and 
glorious confederacy. 

With sentiments of high regard, I remain yours, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[to shelton f. leake, esq., and otoer gentlemen.*] 

Richmond, February 12, 1852. 
Gentlemen : — - 

On my arrival in this city last evening I received your very kind letter, 
welcoming me to the metropolis of the Old Dominion and tendering me the 
honor of a public dinner. I regret — deeply regret — that my visit to Richmond 
will necessarily be so brief that I cannot enjoy the pleasure and the privilege 
of meeting you all at the festive board. Intending merely to pass a day with 



From the Lancaster Iutelligenccr, February 24, 1S52. 



PUBLIC LETTERS. 25 

my valued friend, Judge Mason, my previous arrangements arc of such a 
character that I must leave here to-morrow, or, at the latest, on Saturday 
morning. 

But whilst I cannot accept the dinner, I shall ever esteem the invitation 
from so many of Virginia's most distinguished and estimable sons as one of 
the proudest honors of my life. Your ancient and renowned commonwealth 
has ever been the peculiar guardian of State rights and the firm supporter of 
constitutional liberty, of law, and of order. When, therefore, she endorses 
with her approbation any of my poor efforts to serve the country, her 
commendation is a sure guarantee that these have been devoted to a righteous 
cause. 

You are pleased to refer in favorable terms to my recent conduct "at 
home in defence of the Federal Constitution and laws." This was an easy 
and agreeable task, because the people of Pennsylvania have ever been as 
loyal and faithful to the Constitution, the Union, the rights of the sovereign 
States of which it is composed, as the people of the ancient Dominion 
themselves. To have pursued a different course in my native State would 
therefore, have been to resist the strong current of enlightened public 
opinion. 

I purposely refrain from discussing the original merit of the Compromise, 
because I consider it, to employ the expressive language of the day, as a 
" finality " — a fixed fact — a most important enactment of law, the agitation or 
disturbance of which could do no possible good, but might produce much 
positive evil. Our noble vessel of State, freighted with the hope of mankind, 
both for the present and future generations, has passed through the most 
dangerous breakers which she has ever encountered, and has triumphantly 
ridden out the storm. Both those who supported the measures of the Com- 
promise as just and necessary, and those who, regarding them in a different 
light, yet acquiesce in them for the sake of the Union, have arrived at the same 
conclusion — that it must and shall be executed. They have thus, for every 
practical purpose, adopted the same platform, and have resolved to sustain it 
against the common enemy. — Why, then, should they wrangle, and divide 
and waste their energies, not respecting the main question, which has already 
been definitely settled, but in regard to the process which has brought them, 
though from different directions, to the same conclusion ? Above all, why 
should the strength of the Democratic party of the country be impaired and 
its ascendency be jeoparded for any such cause ? We who believe that the 
triumph of Democratic principles is essential not only to the prosperity of the 
L T nion, but even to the preservation of the Constitution, ought reciprocally to 
forget, and, if need be, to forgive the past, and cordially unite with our 
political brethren in sustaining for the future the good old cause of Democracy. 
It must be a source of deep and lasting pleasure to every patriotic heart that 
our beloved country has so happily passed through the late trying and dan- 
gerous crisis. The volcano has been extinguished, I trust, forever; and the 
man who would apply a firebrand, at the present moment, to the combustible 



26 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

materials which still remain, may produce an eruption to overwhelm both the 
Constitution and the Union. 

With sentiments of high and grateful respect, 

I remain your fellow citizen, 

James Buchanan. 

[to john nelson, wm. f. giles, john o. wharton, john morris, carroll spence, 
and other citizens of baltimore.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, February 3, 1852. 
Gentlemen ; — 

In returning home through your city on Saturday last, I had the unex- 
pected honor of receiving your kind invitation to partake of a public dinner at 
such time as might best suit my own convenience. For this distinguished 
and valuable token of your regard, please to accept my most grateful acknowl- 
edgments ; and, whilst regretting that circumstances, which it would be too 
tedious to explain, will deprive me of the pleasure of meeting you at the fes- 
tive board, you may rest assured that I shall ever highly prize the favorable 
opinion you express of my poor public services. 

To the city of Baltimore I have ever been attached by strong ties. In 
early life I had selected it as the place where to practice my profession ; and 
nothing prevented me from carrying this purpose into effect but my invinci- 
ble reluctance, at the last moment, to leave my native State. The feeling 
which prompted me in 1814, during the last war with Great Britain, to march 
as a private to Baltimore, a circumstance to which you kindly allude, resulted 
from a patriotism so universal throughout Pennsylvania, that the honor which 
may fall to the lot of any one of the thousands of my fellow-citizens who 
volunteered their services on that trying occasion, scarcely deserves to be 
mentioned. 

If I rightly read " the signs of the times," there has seldom been a period 
when the Democratic party of the country, to which you and I are warmly 
attached, was in greater danger of suffering a defeat than at the present 
moment. In order to avert this catastrophe, we must mutually forget and 
forgive past dissensions, suffer "bygones to be bygones," and commence a 
new career, keeping constantly in view the ancient and long established land- 
marks of the party. Most, if not all the great questions of policy which 
formerly divided us from our political opponents, have been settled in our 
favor. No person, at this day, thinks of re-establishing another national bank, 
or repealing the Independent Treasury, or distributing the proceeds of the 
public lands among the several States, or abolishing the veto power. On these 
great and important questions, the Whigs, after a long and violent struggle, 
have yielded : and, for the present, at least, would seem to stand upon the 
Democratic platform. The compromise measures are now a " finality " — 
those who opposed them honestly and powerfully, and who still believe them 



PUBLIC LETTERS. 27 

to bo wron^ having patriotically determined to acquiesce in them for the sake 
of the Union, provided they shall be faithfully carried into execution. 

On what issues, then, can we go before the country and confidently calcu- 
late upon the support of the American people at the approaching Preside i 
election ? I answer unhesitatingly that we must fall back, as you suggest, 
upon those fundamental and time-honored principles which have divided us 
from our political opponents since the beginning, and which from the very 
nature of the Federal Constitution, must continue to divide us from them 
until the end. We must inscribe upon our banners a sacred regard for the 
reserved rights of the States — a strict construction of tho Constitution — a 
denial to Congress of all powers not clearly granted by that instrument, and a 
rigid economy in public expenditures. 

These expenditures have now reached the enormous sum of fifty millions 
of dollars per annum, and, unless arrested in their advance by the strong arm 
of the Democracy of the country, may, in the course of a few years, reach 
one hundred millions. The appropriation of money to accomplish great 
national objects sanctioned by the Constitution, ought to be on a scale com- 
mensurate with our power and resources as a nation — but its expenditure 
ought to be conducted under the guidance of enlightened economy and strict 
responsibility. I am convinced that our expenses might be considerably 
reduced below the present standard, not only without detriment, but with 
positive advantage both to the government and the people. 

An excessive and lavish expenditure of public money, though in itself highly 
pernicious, is as nothing when compared with the disastrous influence it may 
exert upon the character of our free institutions. A strong tendency towards 
extravagance is the great political evil of the present day ; and this ought to 
be firmly resisted. Congress is now incessantly importuned from every quar- 
ter to make appropriations for all sorts of projects. Money, money from the 
National Treasury is constantly demanded to enrich contractors, speculators, 
and agents; and these projects are gilded over with every allurement which 
can be imparted to them by ingenuity and talent. Claims which had been 
condemned by former decisions and had become rusty with age have been 
again revived, and have been paid, principal and interest. Indeed there 
seems to be one general rush to obtain money from the Treasury on any and 
every pretence. 

What will be the inevitable consequence of such lavish expenditures? Are 
they not calculated to disturb the nicely adjusted balance between the Federal 
and State Governments, upon the preservation of which depend the harmony 
and efficiency of our system ? Greedy expectants from the Federal Treasury 
will regard with indifference, if not with contempt, the governments of the 
several States. The doctrine of State rights will be laughed to scorn by such 
individuals, as an obsolete abstraction unworthy of the enlightened spirit of 
the age. The corrupting power of money will be felt throughout the length 
and breadth of this land ; and the Democracy, led on by the hero and sage 
of the Hermitage, will have in vain put down the Bank of the United States, 



28 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

if the same fatal influence for which it was condemned, shall be exerted and 
fostered by means drawn from the Public Treasury. 

To be liberal with their own money but sparing of that of the Republic 
was the glory of distinguished public servants among the ancient Romans. 
When this maxim was reversed, and the public money was employed by art- 
ful and ambitious demagogues to secure their own aggrandizement, genuine 
liberty soon expired. It is true that the forms of the Republic continued for 
many years ; but the animating and inspiring soul had fled forever. I enter- 
tain no serious apprehensions that we shall ever reach this point, yet we may 
still profit by their example. 

With sentiments of the highest respect, I remain your friend and fellow- 
citizen, 

James Buchanan. 

To these should be added an address made at a festival in 
Philadelphia on the 11th of January, 1851, on the establishment 
of a line of steamships between that city and Liverpool. The 
account is taken from the journals of the time. 

After Governor Johnston had concluded, Morton McMichael came forward, 
and said that he had been instructed by the Committee of Arrangements to 
propose the health of an eminent Pennsylvanian who was then present — one 
who had represented his State in the National legislative councils, and had 
occupied a chief place in the administration of the National Government, and 
in regard to whom, however political differences might exist, all agreed that 
his high talents, his unsullied integrity, and his distinguished public services 
had justly placed him in the foremost rank, not only of Pennsylvanians, but 
of all Americans. He therefore gave 

The health of the Hon. James Buchanan. 

When Mr. Buchanan rose to reply, there was a whirlwind of cheers and 
applause. In the midst of it the band struck up a favorite and complimentary 
air, at the end of which the cheering was renewed, and several minutes 
elapsed before he could be heard. 

Mr. Buchanan, after making his acknowledgments to the company for the 
kind manner in which he had been received, proceeded to speak as follows:— 

What a spectacle does this meeting present I It must be a source of pride 
and gratification to every true-hearted Pennsylvanian. Here are assembled 
the executive and legislative authorities of the commonwealth, several mem- 
bers from the State to the present Congress, as well as those elected to the 
next, and the Board of Canal Commissioners, enjoying the magnificent hospi- 
tality of the city and the incorporated districts adjacent — all of which, in fact, 
constitute but one great city of Philadelphia. 

What important event in the history of Philadelphia is this meeting in- 
tended to celebrate ? Not a victory achieved by our arms over a foreign foe. 



PUBLIC ADDRESS. 29 

Not the advent amongst us of a great military captain fresh from the bloody 
fields of his glory; but the arrival here of a peaceful commercial steamer 
from the other side of the Atlantic. This welcome stranger is destined, 
as we all trust, to be the harbinger of a rapidly increasing foreign trade 
between our own city and the great commercial city of Liverpool. All bail 
to Captain Matthews and his gallant crew! Peace, as well as war, has its 
triumphs; and these, although they may not be so brilliant, are far more 
enduring and useful to mankind. 

The establishment of a regular line of steamers between these two ports 
will prove of vast importance both to the city of Philadelphia and the State 
at lar"-e. And here, let me observe, that the interests of the city and the 
State are identical — inseparable. Like man and wife, when a well-assorted 
couple, they are mutually dependent. The welfare and prosperity of the one 
are the welfare and prosperity of the other. " Those whom Heaven has 
joined together, let not man put asunder." If any jealousies, founded or un- 
founded, have heretofore existed between them, let them be banished from this 
day forward and forever. Let them be in the " deep bosom of the ocean buried." 

The great Central Railroad will furnish the means of frequent and rapid 
intercommunication between the city and the State. In the course of another 
year, Philadelphia will be brought within twelve or fourteen hours of our 
Great Iron City of the West — a city of as much energy and enterprise for the 
number of inhabitants, as any on the face of the earth; and, I might add, of 
as warm and generous hospitality. I invite you all, in the name of the people 
of the interior, to visit us oftener than you have done heretofore. You shall 
receive a hearty welcome. Let us become better acquainted, and we shall 
esteem each other more. 

But will this great undertaking to extend the foreign commerce of Phila- 
delphia with Europe, by means of regular lines of steamers, prove successful? 
To doubt this is to doubt whether the capital, intelligence, and perseverance, 
which have assured signal success to Philadelphia in every other industrial 
pursuit, shall fail when applied to steam navigation on the ocean. But after 
to-night there can be " no such word as fail " in our vocabulary. We have 
put our hand to the plough, and we must go ahead. We dare not, because 
we cannot, look back without disgrace ; whilst success in foreign commerce 
will be the capsheaf— the crowning glory of Philadelphia. 

The distance of Philadelphia from the ocean, and the consequent length of 
river navigation, have hitherto constituted an obstacle to her success in for- 
eign trade. Thanks to the genius of Fulton, this obstacle has been removed, 
and the noble Delaware, for every purpose of foreign commerce, is as if it 
were an arm of the sea. We learn from the highest authority, that of the 
pioneer who was an officer in one of the first steamers which ever crossed the 
Atlantic, and who has successfully completed his ninety-ninth voyage, that the 
difference in time from Liverpool between New York and Philadelphia is only 
about twenty hours. This is comparatively of no importance, and cannot 
have the slightest effect on the success of the enterprise. 



30 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Fulton was a native citizen of Pennsylvania. He was born in the county 
where I reside. And shall not the metropolis of the native State of that ex- 
traordinary man who, first of the human race, successfully applied steam power 
to navigation, enjoy the benefits of this momentous discovery which has 
changed the whole face of the civilized world ? Philadelphia, in her future 
career, will gloriously answer this question. 

Philadelphia enjoys many advantages for the successful pursuit of foreign 
commerce. Her population now exceeds 400,000 ; and it is a population of 
which we may be justly proud. It is of no mushroom growth ; but has ad- 
vanced steadily onward. Her immense capital is the result of long years of 
successful industry and enterprise. Strength and durability characterize all 
her undertakings. She has already achieved distinguished success in manufac- 
tures, in the mechanic arts, in domestic commerce, and in every other indus- 
trial pursuit, and m the natural progress of events, she has now determined to 
devote her energies to foreign commerce. 

And where is there a city in the world, whose ship-yards produce finer 
vessels? Whether for beauty of model, rapidity of sailing, or durability, 
Philadelphia built vessels have long enjoyed the highest character. Long as I 
have been in the public councils, I have never known a vessel of war built in 
this city, not fully equal to any of her class afloat on the waters of the world. 
A few weeks since I had the pleasure of examining the steamer Susquehanna, 
and I venture to say, that a nobler vessel can nowhere be found. She will 
bear the stars and the stripes triumphantly amid the battle and the breeze. 
May we not hope that Philadelphia steamers will, ere long, be found bearing 
her trade and her name on every sea, and into every great commercial port 
on the face of this earth ? 

The vast resources of the State which will be poured into the lap of Phil- 
adelphia, will furnish the materials of an extensive foreign commerce. And 
here, in the presence of this domestic family Pennsylvania circle, may we not 
indulge in a little self-gratulation, and may we not be pardoned, if nobody 
else will praise us, for praising ourselves. We have every reason to be proud 
of our State ; and perhaps we ought to cherish a little more State pride than 
we possess. This, when not carried to excess, when it scorns to depreciate a 
rival, is a noble and useful principle of action. It is the parent of generous 
emulation in the pursuit of all that is excellent, all that is calculated to adorn 
and bless mankind. It enkindles the desire in us to stand as high as the high- 
est among our sister States, in the councils of our country, in the pursuit of 
agriculture and manufactures and every useful art. This honorable feeling of 
State pride, particularly when the Pennsylvanian is abroad, out of his native 
land, will make his heart swell with exultation, if he finds that Philadelphia 
has become a great commercial city, her flag waving over every sea, her 
steamers to be seen in every port — an elevated position in which Philadelphia, 
if she but wills it, can undoubtedly be placed. 

The great and good founder of our State, whose precept and whose prac- 
tice was " peace on earth, and good will to man," immediately after he had 



PUBLIC ADDRESS. 31 

obtained the royal charter, in the spirit of prophetic enthusiasm declared, 
" God -will bless, and make it the seed of a nation. I shall have a tender 
of the government that it be well laid at first." 

How gloriously this prediction has been verified ! God has blessed it, and 
the seed which the founder sowed has borne the richest fruit. "We are in- 
deed a nation, confederated with thirty other sovereign nations or Statc3 by 
the most sacred political instrument in the annals of mankind, called the Con- 
stitution of the United States. Besides, we are truly the keystone of this 
vast confederacy, and our character and position eminently qualify us to act 
as a mediator between opposing extremes. Placed in the centre, between 
the North and the South, with a population distinguished for patriotism and 
Steady good sense, aud a devoted love to the Union, we stand as the days 
man, between the extremes, and can declare with the voice of power to 
both, hitherto shalt thou go, and no further. May this Union endure for- 
ever, the source of innumerable blessings to those who live under its benefi- 
cent sway, and the star of hope to millions of down-trodden men throughout 
the world ! 

Bigotry has never sacrificed its victims at the shrine of intolerance in this 
our favored State. When they were burning witches in Massachusetts, hon- 
estly believing at the time they were doing God's service, William Penn, in 
1684, presided at the trial of a witch. Under his direction, the verdict was : 
" The prisoner is guilty of the common fame of being a witch ; but not 
guilty as she stands indicted." And " in Penn's domain, from that day to 
this," says the gifted historian, " neither demon nor hag ever rode through the 
air on goat or broomstick." 

From the first settlement of the province until the present moment, the 
freedom of conscience established by the founder, has been perfect. Religion 
has always been a question exclusively between man and his Creator, and 
every human being has been free to worship his Maker according to the 
dictates of his own conscience. 

Bigotry, madly assuming to itself an attribute belonging to the Almighty, 
has never attempted to punish any one of his creatures for not adapting his 
belief to its own standard of faith. We have great cause to be proud of the 
early history of Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania, more than any other State of the Union, has been settled by 
emigrants from all the European nations. Our population now exceeds two 
millions and a quarter ; but we cannot say that it is composed of the pure 
Anglo-Saxon race. The English, the Germans, the Scotch Irish, the Irish, 
the Welsh, the French, and emigrants from every other European country 
have all intermingled upon our happy soil. We are truly a mixed race. And 
is not this a cause for self-gratulation ? Providence, as if to designate his 
will that families and nations should cultivate extended intercourse with each 
other, has decreed that intermarriage in the same family shall eventually pro- 
duce a miserable and puny race, both in body and in mind ; whilst intermar- 
riages among entire strangers have been signally blessed. May it then not be 



32 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

probable that the intermixture of the natives of the different nations is calcu- 
lated to produce a race superior to any one of the elements of which it is 
composed. Let us hope that we possess the good qualities of all, without a 
large share of the evil qualities of either. Certain it is that in Pennsylvania 
we can boast of a population which for energy, for patient industry, and for 
strict morality, are unsurpassed by the people of any other country. 

And what is her condition at present ? Heaven has blessed us with a cli- 
mate which, notwithstanding its variations, is equal to almost any other on 
the face of the earth, and a soil capable of furnishing all the agricultural pro- 
ducts of the temperate zone. And how have we improved these advantages ? 
In agriculture we have excelled. I have myself been over a good portion of 
the best cultivated parts of the world ; but never anywhere, in any country, 
have I witnessed such evidences of real substantial comfort and prosperity, 
such farm-houses and barns, as are to be found in Pennsylvania. It is true 
we cannot boast of baronial castles, and of extensive parks and pleasure 
grounds, and of all the other appendages of wealth and aristocracy which 
beautify and adorn the scenery of other countries. These can only exist in 
countries where the soil is monopolized by wealthy proprietors and where the 
farms are consequently occupied by a dependent tenantry. Thank Heaven ! 
in this country, every man of industry and economy, with the blessings of 
Providence upon his honest labor, can acquire a freehold for himself, and sit 
under his own vine and his own fig tree, and there shall be none to make him 
afraid. 

Then in regard to our mineral wealth. We have vast masses of coal and 
iron scattered with a profuse hand under the surface of our soil. These are 
far more valuable than the golden sands and golden ore of California. The 
patient labor necessary to extract these treasures from the earth, and bring 
them to market, strengthens the sinews of the laborer, makes him self-reliant 
and dependent upon his own exertions, infuses -courage into the heart, and 
produces a race capable of maintaining their liberties at home and of defend- 
ing their country against any and every foreign foe. Look at your neighbor- 
ing town of Richmond. There three millions of tons of coal are annually 
brought to market, and the domestic tonnage employed for sending it abroad 
exceeds the whole foreign tonnage of the city of New York. All these vast 
productions of our agriculture and our mines are the natural aliments of 
foreign commerce for the city of Philadelphia. 

But this is not all. Our Central Railroad will soon be completed ; and 
when this is finished, it will furnish the avenue by which the productions of 
the great West will seek a market in Philadelphia. It will connect with a 
chain of numerous other railroads, penetrating the vast valley of the Missis- 
sippi in different directions, which will bring the productions of that extended 
region to seek a market in Philadelphia. 

And with these unexampled materials for foreign commerce, is it possible 
that the city of Philadelphia will hold back ? Will she not employ her capi- 
tal in a vigorous effort to turn to her own advantage all these elements of 



PUBLIC ADDRESS. 33 

wealth which Providence has placed within her reach ? What is the smallest 
share of foreign commerce to which she is legitimately entitled ? It is at 
least to import into Philadelphia all the foreign goods necessary for the supply 
of Pennsylvania and the far West, which seek her markets for their produc- 
tions. She is bound, by every principle of interest and duty, to bring to her 
own wharves this amount of foreign trade, and never as a Pennsylvanian 
shall I rest satisfied until she shall have attained this measure of success. Shall 
she then tamely look on and suffer her great rival city, of which every Amer- 
ican ought to be proud, to monopolize the profit and advantages to which she 
is justly and fairly entitled? Shall New York continue to be the importing 
city for Philadelphia ? Shall she any longer be taunted with the imputa- 
tion that so far as foreign trade is concerned, she is a mere provincial and de- 
pendent city ? She can, if she but energetically wills it, change this course 
of trade so disadvantageous to her character and her interests ; and the pro- 
ceedings of this meeting afford abundant assurances that from this day forth 
she is destined to enter upon a new and glorious career. She must be pre- 
pared to encounter and to overcome serious competition. She must therefore 
nerve her arm for the struggle. The struggle is worthy of her most deter- 
mined efforts. 
II.— 3 



CHAPTER II. 

1852. 

THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATIONS OF 1852 — ELECTION OF GENERAL 
FRANKLIN PIERCE TO THE PRESIDENCY — BUCHANAN'S COURSE IN 
REGARD TO THE NOMINATION AND THE ELECTION — HIS EFFORTS TO 
DEFEAT THE WHIG CANDIDATE. 

IN arraying themselves for the Presidential election of 1852, 
the Democratic and the Whig parties might have had an 
equal or a nearly equal reason to look for success, if they had 
been equally consistent with their professed principles on the 
subject of the compromise measures of 1850. But while the 
Democrats, both by their " platform" and their candidate, gave 
the people of the country reason to believe that the great 
national settlement of 1850 was to be adhered to, the Whigs, 
although promising as much by their " platform," did not, in 
the person of their candidate and his apparent political con- 
nections, aiford the same grounds of confidence. The nomi- 
nating convention of the Democrats was the first to be held. 
It assembled at Baltimore on the 1st of June, 1852. Mr. Bu- 
chanan was one of the principal candidates for the nomination, 
but it soon became apparent that neither he, General Cass, Mr. 
Douglas, Mr. Dickinson, Governor Marcy, or any other of the 
more prominent leaders of the party would receive it. The 
candidate finally agreed upon was General Franklin Pierce of 
New Hampshire, a younger man than most of the others. He 
had been a Senator in Congress from that State for five years 
preceding 1842, and had served with spirit in the Mexican war 
as a Brigadier General of Volunteers. As a candidate for the 
Presidency, he represented in the fullest and most unqualified 
manner the resolution adopted by the convention as a part of 
its " platform," and which pledged him and his party to " resist 



THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATIONS OF 1852. 35 

all attempts at renewing in Congress, or out of it, the agitation 
of the slavery question, under whatever shape or color the 
attempt may be made." 

On the other hand, the "Whig convention, which assembled 
at Baltimore on the 10th of June, nominated General Winfield 
Scott, to the exclusion of Mr. Webster and President Fillmore, 
after fifty-two ballotings ; and although the resolutions, with a 
strength equal to that of the Democratic " platform," affirmed 
the binding character of the compromise measures of 1S50, and 
opposed all further agitation of the questions thus settled, as 
dangerous to the peace of the country, seventy delegates from 
free States, who had voted steadily for General Scott as the 
candidate, recorded their votes against this resolution, and many 
"Whig papers in the North refused to be bound by it, and 
treated it with utter contumely. The result was the election of 
General Pierce as President, and "William P. King of Alabama 
as Yice President, by the almost unprecedented majority of one 
hundred and five electoral votes more than was necessary for 
a choice. General Scott obtained the electoral votes of but 
four States, Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee ; 
forty-two in all. 

The reader will be interested to learn from the following 
private correspondence how Mr. Buchanan felt and acted before 
and after the nomination of General Pierce, and also how one 
of his prominent rivals, Governor Marcy, felt and acted towards 
him and others. It is refreshing to look back to the good nature 
and cool philosophy which could be exhibited by such men in 
regard to the great stake of the Presidency : 

[GOVERNOR MARCY TO MR. BUCHANAN.] 

Albany, May 31, 1852. 
My Dear Sir: — 

"When your very kind letter of the 19th inst. was received, my time wa3 
much taken up by several transient persons passing through this place to Bal- 
timore for a certain grave purpose. I delayed a reply to it until this annoy- 
ance should be over, but before that happened, I was unexpectedly called to 
New York, and have but just returned. This is my excuse for a seeming 
neglect. 

I assure you I rejoice as much as you do at the removal of all obstructions, 
real or imaginary, to the resumption of our free and friendly correspondence. 



36 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

I needed not your assurance to satisfy me that your course towards me had 
been fair and liberal, and you do me but justice in believing mine has been 
the same toward you. 

Perhaps there has been a single departure from it, wliich in candor I am 
bound to confess, and hope to be able to avoid. 

On being called to New York a few days ago, when the delegates were 
passing on to Baltimore, Mrs. Marcy proposed to accompany me, but as she 
is a zealous advocate of yours, and on that subject has a propagandist's spirit, 
I did not wish to have her associated too intimately with these delegates, 
particularly such of them as had favorable inclinations towards me. I sug- 
gested, therefore, that it would be best for her to delay for a short time her 
visit. 

This little battery (excuse a military figure of speech) has kept up a brisk 
fire for you. To this I have not made much objection, but I did not wish to 
do anything myself to put it in a position where it would bear particularly on 
my friends in this critical moment of the contest. I submit to your candor 
to decide whether, if you had a wife — would that you had one — a glib- 
tongued wife, who was ever pressing my pretensions over your own, would 
you not have manceuvered a little to restrict her operations, under reversed, 
but otherwise similar circumstances ? If you declare against my course in this 
instance, I shall think you err, and ascribe your error to the fact that for want 
of experience you do not know the potency of such an adversary. An enemy 
in the camp is more dangerous than one outside of it. 

While in New York, I conversed with many delegates from various sec- 
tions of the country and of all kinds of preferences. From what I heard, I 
became more and more apprehensive of serious difficulties at Baltimore. If 
it be mere preferences the convention will have to contend with, it might get 
on without much trouble, but I thought I discovered a strong feeling of 
antagonism in too many of the delegates, particularly towards those who 
stand in a hopeful position. Still, I cherish a strong hope of an auspicious 
result to the party. 

If you, who have such fair prospects, have schooled yourself into a sort of 
philosophical indifference as to the result, you can readily conceive how 
complaisantly I, who scarcely have a place on the list of those that hope they 
shall receive it, look upon the result. Those who never climb up cannot 
reasonably dread to break their limbs by a fall. 

You, too, have got into a "Scott correspondence." I have read your 
letter with pleasure and satisfaction ; it goes the whole figure as it ought to at 
this time. I had no difficulty in my response except in regard to the exercise 
of the veto power. I cannot but think that is a promise " not fit to be made," 
but any objection to meeting it directly would have been construed to mean 
more than was intended, and I responded to that as I did to the other 
interrogatories. 

Yery much to my surprise, but not so much to my regret, I find in the 
Journal of Commerce of Saturday, two of my private letters, written last 



POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE. 37 

summer to a leading barn-burner, lion. John Fine, formerly a M. C. from 
Governor Wright's county. They will serve to vindicate my course and 
repel the charge much urged against rue by Mr. Dickinson and a few others, 
of having compromised my position on the adjustment measure in order to 
conciliate that section of the party. 

The course I pursued towards them, and from which I have never swerved, 
but have succeeded in carrying out, is clearly disclosed in these letters. 1 had 
no agency in bringing them out. I have not seen them since they were writ- 
ten, and did not know that they were to be published. 

Mr. Dickinson and a few of his friends are very decided — not to say 
bitter — against me, and scarcely less so against all the other candidates except 
General Cass. They are professedly for him. Mr. D.'s friends — it would 
be uncharitable to say he himself has any such thoughts — hope to bring about 
his nomination, and are shaping things so far as they can for such a result. 
They believe that his and their advocacy of General Cass, and sturdy opposi- 
tion to all others, will give him nearly all of the General's friends in the event 
he has to be abandoned, an event which will not deeply grieve them ; and 
they flatter themselves that the great favor with which Mr. D. is regarded in 
the South will render it easy to detach from you and transfer to him most of 
your supporters in that quarter. If you and General Cass are killed off, and 
he inherits the estate of both, his fortune will certainly be made. I do not 
comment upon the practicability of this theory. Well, if he is nominated, we 
must turn in and do what we can for him. Here, where he has been so bitter 

against the C rs and against me, because they are willing to give me their 

support — where he denounces them as not belonging to the Democratic party — 
we shall have a hard task on our hands, and can hardly hope to give him the 
vote of the State ; it will therefore be the more necessary that you and your 
friends should secure for him that of Pennsylvania. I know it is not kind to 
speculate on the chances of another rising upon your downfall, and therefore 
I will dismiss the subject ; nor is it friendly to trouble you with this long letter 
at a critical conjuncture, when you want your time to cheer and guide your 
friends at Baltimore. 

My epistle would be defective if it did not contain Mrs. M.'s express desire 
to be kindly remembered to you. 

Tours truly, 

W. L. Marcy. 

[MARCY TO BUCHANAN.] 

Albany, June 6, 1852. 
My Dear Sir: — 

In my most hopeful mood, if it can be truly said I have been in such a 
state of mind, I did not look to anything but a remote contingent remainder. 
I cannot, therefore, say that for myself I feel any disappointment at the result 
of the convention. 



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PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE DURING TIIE WAR. 

so far as happiness is concerned, are better off without a nominat 
. if it was sure to be followed by an election. 

Y urs truly, 

Wm. l. h 

[\IR. ErCHASAS TO THE DON. DAVID R. rORTER.] 

WmUTLAKDj near Lancaster, June 4, 
lit Dear Sir: — 

Fro: . lit of the ballotting- I deem it h: 

•ruination. The question will doubtless 1 
to say in advance that 
lasting 

itions for their adherence to me th 
the b.i I 

■ 
point: 

isneaa th.^ 

I 

bo rcoogni/ 

1 

. 
i 

shall : 

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From your i.- 
James Bcci 



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POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE. 

this reason, but had yielded and given him a cordial support ; but it" 
game were successfully played a second time, then the national co 
and not th the President, and the most gross c< 

and fraud would be the consequence. He disliked both < I 
Douglas; but said he would Lave supported either, because they wen 
'aims had been publicly discu.-- 

Democratic party, and tbere must be a yielding among 
Serent candidates brought forward by the people of the countr; 
be reasons whi the course of a 1 

of his indivii 
is of any great importance, bul I' 

i'Ut not so fully d 
! 
<ns. 

.inst me in 
! n would have 

1 . • ..: a full eli 

1 But tJ 

; 
Mi- 

B 

" 

Y 



\\i' - i.\m m eb, July 86, 

My I — 

I 

j 

I felt it 

. 

i I should have 
ffice with cheerful con:. I I know fi 

rown of thorns. rea carried Kr. I 

■ 

. grant us a safe deli 
all du I 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

| radical Democrat of the old Jeffersonian school, 

.1 ,1, a i duties. I think he is firm and energetic with- 

President. Should he fall into proper hands, 

aent wisely and well. Heaven save us from the 

«Y< cal" 

From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[MR. BUCHANAN TO NAHUM CAPEN, ESQ.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, June 26, 1852. 
. Sib:— 

inks for your kind letter. I felt neither mortified nor much dis- 
own defeat. Although " the signs of the times" had been 
ius immediately before the Baltimore Convention, I am too old 
deal oavigator to rely with explicit confidence upon bright skies for fair 
her. The Democracy of my own great State are mortified and disap- 
ted, but I trust that ere long these feelings will vanish, and we shall be 
ent a solid and invincible column to our political opponents. 
. iency is a distinction far more glorious than the crown of any 
7 monarch in Christendom ; but yet it is a crown of thorns. In the 
I political and critical position of our country, its responsibilities will 
.',. I should have met them with cheerful confidence, whilst 
ball be far more happy in a private station, where I expect to 
. 

. ardent wishes for the success of the History of Democracy, I 
. 

Very respectfully your friend, 

James Buchanan. 

[.mr. buchanan to alexander mckeever, esq.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, July 26, 1852. 
S i n : — 

I and perused your kind letter with much satisfaction, and, 

I better satisfied with the nomination of General Pierce than 

en with that of General Cass or any ot the other candidates. 

len fly desire his election, as well as the defeat of General 

domj duty throughout the contest in Pennsylvania in every 

Qg from county to county to make stump speeches. 

to address my fellow-citizens of this county, on some 

n, on the Presidential election, and express my opinions freely. 

itions to the governor were but little regarded, but I made 

• • ■■ iy with truth that your disappointment mortified me 

■ upon every principle of political justice and policy you 



SPEECH IX FAVOR OF PIERCE. 43 

were entitled to the place. Should it ever be in my power to serve you, I 
shall eagerly embrace the opportunity. 

It is impossible, as yet, to form any accurate conjecture as to what will be 
Scott's majority in this county ; but I cannot believe it will reach that of 
General Taylor. I am glad to learn your opinion that the majority in Dela- 
ware county will be less than it was in 1S48. Pierce and King can be elected 
without the vote of Pennsylvania, but it would be a burning shame for the 
Democracy of the Keystone to be defeated on this occasion. 
From your friend, very respectfull}', 

James Buchanan. 

The most important service rendered by Mr. Buchanan to 
his party in this election — and with him a service to his 
party was alike a service to his country— was a speech made at 
Grecnsburgh in Pennsylvania, on the 7th of October, 1852, in 
opposition to the election of General Scott. It deserves to be 
reproduced now, both on account of its clear exhibition of the 
political history of that period and the nature of some of the 
topics which it discussed. 

Friends and Fellow-Citizens : I thank you most sincerely for the cordial 
and enthusiastic cheers with which you have just saluted me. I am proud, on 
this occasion, to acknowledge my deep obligations to the Democratic party of 
"Westmoreland county. The generous and powerful support which I have 
received from your great and glorious Democracy throughout my public career 
shall ever remain deeply engraved on my heart. I am grateful for the past, 
not for what is to be in future. I ask no more from my country than what 
I have already enjoyed. May peace and prosperity be your lot throughout 
life, and may "The Star in the West" continue to shine with increasing 
splendor, and ever benign influence on the favored Western portion of our 
Commonwealth for ages to come ! 

I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, upon the nomination of Franklin Pierce 
and William R. King, for the two highest offices in your gift. This nomina- 
tion has proved to be a most fortunate event for the Democratic party of the 
country. It has produced unanimity everywhere in our great and glorious 
party ; and when firmly united we can stand against the world in arms. It 
has terminated, I trust forever, the divisions which existed in our ranks ; and 
which, but a few short months ago, portended dire defeat in the present 
Presidential contest. The North, the South, the East and the West are now 
generous rivals, and the only struggle amongst them is which shall do the 
most to secure the triumph of the good old cause of Democracy, and of Frank- 
lin Pierce and William R. King, our chosen standard bearers. 

And why should we not all be united in support of Franklin Pierce ? It 
is his peculiar distinction, above all other public men within my knowledge, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

r had occasion to take a single step backwards. What 

ntiment of his whole political career has been inconsistent 

. strictest principles of Jeffersonian Democracy? Our 

.•.ah all their vigilance and research, have not yet been able to 

. 1 lis public character as a Democrat is above all excep- 

lerefore, we shall do no more than sustain in his 

.. and i I principles. 

. throughout his life, has proved himself to be peculiarly uu- 

and honors which other men seek with so much eager- 

■ him only to be refused. He has either positively declined 

igned the highest stations which the Federal Government 

own native State could bestow upon him. 

I the public character of General Pierce is so invulnerable that it has 

a seriously assaulted. Our political opponents have, therefore, 

operation, been driven to defame his private character. At first, 

need him as a drunkard, a friend of the infamous anti-Catholic test 

I Station of New Hampshire, and a coward. In what have these 

asations resulted ? They have already recoiled upon their inven- 

joned chalice has been returned to their own lips. No decent 

if the Whig party will now publicly venture to repeat these slanders. 

Frank Pierce a coward ! That man a coward, who, when his country 

.wived in a foreign war, abandoned a lucrative and honorable profession 

and all the sweets and comforts of domestic life in his own happy family, to 

B a private volunteer soldier in the ranksl How preposterous ! And 

. coward ? 

' to the testimony of General Scott himself, he was in such a 

i I enfeebled condition, that he was "just able to keep his 

• his own gallant spirit impelled him to lead his brigade into the 

bloody battle of Churubusco. But his exhausted physical nature was not 

enough to sustain the brave soul which animated it, and he sank insen- 

. the field in front of his brigade. Was this evidence of cowardice? 

.instances, so far from being an impeachment of his courage, prove 

-ively that he possesses that high quality in an uncommon degree. 

y other man, nay, almost any other brave man, in his weak and 

1 condition, would have remained in his tent; but the promptings of 

.t and patriotic spirit impelled him to rush into the midst of the battle. 

'.'.ill not party rancor and malignity proceed when such high 

ses of indomitable courage are construed into proofs of cowardice ? How 

waa General Scott's opinion from that of the revilers of Franklin 

i as on this very occasion that he conferred upon him the proud 

Brigadier-General Pierce." 

mion of the Democratic party throughout the country presents 

proaching victory. Even our political opponents admit 

are in the majority when thoroughly united. And I venture now to 

that, whether with or without the vote of Pennsylvania, Franklin 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 45 

Pierce and William R. King, should their lives be spared, will as certainly be 
elected President and Vice President of the United States on the first Tues- 
day in November next, as that the blessed sun shall rise on that auspicious 
day. We feel the inspiration of victory from the infallible indications of 
public opinion throughout our sister States. 

Shall this victory be achieved without the voice or vote of Pennsylvania ? 
No President has ever yet been elected without her vote. Shall this historical 
truth be reversed, and shall Pierce and King be elected in November, despite 
the vote of the good old Keystone? God bless herl No— never, never, 
shall the Democracy of our great and glorious State be subjected to this dis- 
grace. 

And yet, strange to say, the Whigs at Washington and the Whigs through- 
out every State of the Union claim the vote of Pennsylvania with the utmost 
apparent confidence. To secure her vote was one of the main inducements 
for the nomination of General Scott over the head of Millard Fillmore. Is 
there one unprejudiced citizen of any party in the United States, who can lay 
his hand upon his heart and declare that he believes General Scott would make 
as good and as safe a President as Mr. Fillmore ? No, fellow-citizens, all of us 
must concur in opinion with Mr. Clay, that Fillmore had superior claims and 
qualifications to those of Scott for the highest civil station. Availability, and 
availability alone, produced the nomination of Scott. 

The Whigs well knew that the Democrats of the Keystone were in the 
majority. What must then be done to secure her vote? Pennsylvania 
Democrats must be seduced from their party allegiance — they must be induced 
to abandon the political altars at which they have so long worshipped — they 
must be persuaded to renounce the principles of Jefferson and of Jackson, by 
the nomination of a military hero; and this hero, too, a most bitter and 
uncompromising Whig. General Scott is none of your half-way Whigs — he 
is not like General Taylor, a Whig, but not an ultra Whig. He goes the 
whole. Is there a single Whig doctrine, or a single Whig principle, however 
odious to the Democracy, to which he is not devoted, which he has not 
announced and taught under his own hand ? If there be, I have never heard 
it mentioned. Nay, more : these odious doctrines are with him not merely 
strong opinions, but they are absolute convictions, rules of faith and of prac- 
tice. The Bank of the United States, the Bankrupt Law, the distribution of 
the proceeds of the public lands among the States, the abolishment of the 
veto power from the Constitution ; in short, all the Whig measures against 
which the Democracy of the country have always waged incessant war — are 
so many articles of General Scott's political creed. When asked, in October, 
1841, whether, "if nominated as a candidate for the Presidency, would you 
accept the nomination ? " after expressing his strong approbation of all the 
Whig measures to which I have just referred, as well as others of a similiar 
character, he answers: "I beg leave respectfully to reply — Yes; provided 
that I be not required to renounce any principles professed above. My prin- 
ciples are convictions." 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

justice to declare that he has never yet recanted or 

principles. They are still convictions with him; 

Pennsylvania are asked to recant and renounce 

i and deliberate convictions, and vote for a candidate 

m account of his military fame, who, if elected, 

.uid influence of his administration to subvert and to 

ential principles which bind us together as members of the 

IB Demi icratic party of the Union. Is not the bare imputation, 

lent belief, that the Democrats of Pennsylvania will 

their birthright for such a miserable mess of pottage, the highest 

. can be offered to them? The Whigs, in effect, say to you: 

: ai e 1 temocrats— we know you are in the majority ; but yet we 

. will renounce the political faith of your fathers, that you may 

■ a successful general, and bow down before the image of 

;lury which we have erected for the purpose of captivating your 

' thus far, at least, these advocates of availability have been 

The soup societies and the fuss and feather clubs have yet 

(1 but little impression on the public mind. They have failed even to 

-.tlnisiastic shouts among the Whigs, much less to make any apostates 

.0 Democratic ranks. 

. ibject it is for felicitation in every patriotic heart, that the days 

■ assed away, I trust, forever, when mere military services, however 

I, shall be a passport to the chief civil magistracy of the country! 

I would lay down this broad and strong proposition, which ought in all 

to be held sacred as an article of Democratic faith, that no man 

isferred by the people from the chief command of the 

r of the United States to the highest civil office within their gift. The 

i i rule of faith to guide the practice of a Eepublican people are 

. 

:- of mankind, since the creation, demonstrate this solemn truth. 

the ruined republics, both of ancient and modern times, 

on. From Caesar to Cromwell, and from Cromwell to 

on, thia history presents the same solemn warning, — beware of elevating 

-r the commander of your victorious armies. Ask the 

ruined republics scattered all along the tide of time, what occa- 

ir downfall ; and they will answer in sepulchral tones, the elevation 

jenerala to the highest civil power in the State. One common 

om one common cause has destroyed them all. Will mankind never 

om from the experience of past generations? Has history been 

Ir. Clay, in his Baltimore speech of 1827, expressed this 

hatic terms, when he implored the Almighty Governor of 

I our favored land with war, with pestilence, with famine, 

khan military rule, or a blind and heedless enthusiasm 

1 le was right in the principle, wrong in its application. 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 47 

The hero, the man of men to whom it applied, was then at the Hermitage, — 
a plain and private farmer of Tennessee. lie had responded to the call 
of his country when war was declared against Great Britain, and had led 
our armies to victory ; but when the danger had passed away, he returned 
with delight to the agricultural pursuits of his beloved Hermitage. Although, 
like Franklin Pierce, he had never sought civil offices and honors, yet he was 
an influential and conspicuous member of the convention which framed the 
constitution of Tennessee, was their fust Representative and their first .Senator 
in Congress, — afterwards a Judge of their Supreme Court, — then again a 
Senator in Congress, which elevated station he a second time resigned, from 
a love of retirement. He was brought almost literally from the plough, as 
Cincinnatus had been, to assume the chief civil command. The same observa- 
tions would apply to the illustrious and peerless Father of his Country, as well 
as to General Harrison. They were soldiers, only in the day and hour of 
danger, when the country demanded their services ; and both were elevated 
from private life, from the shades of Mount Vernon and the North Bend, to 
the supreme civil magistracy of the country. Neither of them was a soldier 
by profession, and both had illustrated high civil appointments. General Tay- 
lor, it is true, had been a soldier, and always a soldier, but had never risen 
to the chief command. It remained for the present Whig party to select as 
their candidate for the Presidency the commanding General of the army, who 
had been a man of war, and nothing but a man of war from his youth 
upwards. This party is now straining every nerve to transfer him from the 
headquarters of the army, to the chair of state, which has been adorned by 
Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson, without even a momentary 
resignation of his present high office, — without the least political training, — 
without any respite, without any breathing time between the highest mili- 
tary and the highest civil honor. With what tremendous force does the solemn 
warning of Mr. Clay apply to the case of General Scott! 

Far be it from me to say or to insinuate that General Scott would have 
either the ability or the will to play the part of Cassar, of Cromwell, or of 
Bonaparte. Still, the precedent is dangerous in the extreme. If these things 
can be done in the green tree, what will be done in the dry ? If the prece- 
dent can be established in the comparative infancy and purity of our institu- 
tions, of elevating to the Presidency a successful commander-in-chief of our 
armies, what may be the disastrous consequences when our population shall 
number one hundred millions, and when our armies in time of war may be 
counted by hundreds of thousands. In those days, some future military 
chieftain, desirous of obtaining supreme power by means of an election to the 
Presidency, may point back to such a precedent and say, that in the earlier 
and purer days of the Republic, our ancestors did not fear to elevate the 
commander of their conquering armies to this, the highest civil station. Let 
us not forge chains in advance for our descendants. 

The fathers of the Republic were deeply alive to these great truths. They 
were warned by the experience of past times that liberty is Hesperian fruit, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

i ., i by watchful jealousy. Hence in all their constitu- 

.1 in all their political writings, we find them incul- 

| solemn manner, a jealousy of standing armies and their 

ibordination of the military to the civil power. But 

do danger to our liberties from such a precedent, the habit 

and absolute command acquired by the professional soldier 

long life, almost necessarily disqualifies him for the administration 

K. publican Government. Civil government is not a mere 

a regular army. In conducting it, allowance must be made 

liberty and spirit of independence which characterize our 

S . .. allowances can never be made,— authority can never be tem- 

leration and discretion, by a professional soldier, who has been 

ive hia military orders obeyed with the unerring certainty of 

wer. 

in: — What fatal effects would it not have on the discipline and effi- 

i »f the army to have aspirants for the Presidency among its principal 

Eow many military cliques would be formed — how much intriguing 

lid exist in a body which ought to be a unit, and have 

no other object in view except to obey the lawful command of the President 

. 1 defend the country? If all the political follies of General 

life were investigated, and these are not few, I venture to say that 

nearly the whole of them have resulted from his long continued aspirations 

idency. At last, he has obtained the Whig nomination. He has 

i his own constitutional commander-in-chief. The military power has 

'ied over the civil power. The Constitution declares that "the Presi- 

..ill be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States," 

but the subordinate, the actual commander of the army, has supplanted his 

•:■. What a spectacle is this ; and how many serious reflections might 

In times of war and of danger, what fatal consequences might 

country from the fact, that the President and the commanding 

army are rival and hostile candidates for the Presidency ! But I 

shall not pui ain of remark. It is my most serious conviction, that 

lid have stood far higher, both before the present generation 

y. bad he never been a candidate for the Presidency. The office 

. ■ QOW holds, and deservedly holds, ought to satisfy the ambition of 

any man. This the American people will determine by a triumphant majority 

lay of November next. This will prove to be one of the 

ruinate events in our history— auspicious at the present time, and still 

us for future generations. It will establish a precedent, which 

: iture commanders-in-chief of the American army from 

ig candidatea for the Presidential office. 

■un :— To make the army a hot bed for Presidential aspirants will be to 

lence of all its aspiring officers in favor of foreign wars, 

of acquiring military glory, and thus placing themselves in 

: safe precedents, as candidates for the Presidency and for 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 49 

other high civil offices. The American people are sufficiently prone to war 
without any such stimulus. But enough of this. 

I shall now proceed to discuss more minutely the civil qualifications of 
General Scott for the Presidency. It is these which immediately and deeply 
concern the American people, and not his military glory. Far be it from me, 
however, to depreciate his military merits. As an American citizen, I am 
proud of them. They will ever constitute a brilliant page in the historical 
glory of our country. The triumphant march of the brave army under his 
command, from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico, will be ever memorable in 
cm- annals. And yet he can never be esteemed the principal hero of the 
Mexican war. This distinction justly belongs to General Taylor. It was his 
army which at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterej 7 , first broke the 
spirit of the Mexican troops ; and the crowning victory of Buena Vista com- 
pletely disorganized the Mexican army. There Santa Anna, with 20,000 men, 
the largest, the best and the bravest army which Mexico has ever sent into 
the field, was routed by less than five thousand of our troops. To the ever- 
lasting glory of our volunteer militia, this great, this glorious victory, was 
achieved by them, assisted by only four hundred and fifty-three regulars. 
The Mexican army was so disorganized — the spirit of the Mexican people was 
so subdued, by the unparalielled victory of Buena Vista, that the way was 
thus opened for the march from Vera Cruz to Mexico. Yet God forbid that I 
should, in the slightest degree, detract from the glory so justly due to Scott's 
army and its distinguished commander in the battles wliich preceded their 
triumphant entry into the capital of Mexico. 

But I repeat, my present purpose is to deal with General Scott as a civil- 
ian — as a candidate for the Presidency, and not as a military commander. 

The sun presents dark spots upon its disc ; and the greatest men who have 
ever lived, with the exception of our own Washington, have not been with- 
out their failings. Surely General Scott is not an exception to the common 
lot of humanity. In his temper he is undoubtedly irritable and jealous of 
rivals; whilst the Presidency, above all other stations on earth, requires a 
man of firm and calm temper, who, in his public conduct, will never be under 
the control of his passions. 

General Scott has quarrelled with General Wilkinson — he has quarrelled 
with General Gaines — he has quarrelled with General Jackson — he has quar- 
relled with De Witt Clinton — he has quarrelled with the administration of John 
Quincy Adams — he has quarrelled with the people of Florida to such a degree 
that General Jackson was obliged reluctantly to recall him from the command 
of the army in the Seminole war — he has quarrelled with General Worth, the 
Marshal Ney of our military service — he has quarrelled with General Pillow — 
he has quarrelled with the gallant and lamented Duncan — and unless report 
speaks falsely, he has quarrelled with General Taylor. Whenever any military 
man has approached the rank of being his rival for fame, he has quarrelled with 
that man. Now, I shall not pretend to decide, whether he has been in the 
right or in the wrong, in all or in any of these quarrels ; but this I shall say, 

II.-4 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

■ such forethought, discretion and calm temper as the 
., . . might and would have avoided many or most of 
A plain and sensible neighbor of mine asked me, in view of 
| . D0 , think, should General Scott be elected President, he 
rod break things? 
v..n.l all question, suspicious, when the President of 
a ive all other men, ought to look upon events with no 
. . , , ., 1 eye. No man ever exhibited this trait of character in 
tan he has done towards the administration of Mr. Polk. 
I by the President to lead our armies in Mexico, with my 
h cordial assent. The political life or death of the adminis- 
upon his success. Our fate, both in the estimation of the 
l' throughout all posterity, depended upon his Success. 
• would have been our ruin. And yet he most strangely con- 
ation, that for the purpose of destroying him we were willing 
. ..nselves. Hence his belief of a fire* in the rear more formid- 
than the fire in the front. Hence his belief that, jealous of his glory, 
exert ourselves to furnish him the troops and munitions of war 
•. ir the conquest of Mexico. Did unjust and unfounded suspicion 
1 thus far in the breast of any other mortal man? The admir- 
ind unanswerable letter of Governor Marcy, of April 21, 1848, in reply 
to his complaints, triumphantly vindicates the administration of Mr. Polk 
• all these extraordinary charges. Let any man carefully and dis- 
I that letter, and say, if he can, that General Scott, in self- 
mper and disposition, is fit to become the successor to General 
agton, in the Presidential chair. 

. kni tws, everybody who has approached him knows, that General 

rakiglorious to an excessive degree. Indeed, his vanity would bo 

strikingly ridiculous, had he not performed so many distinguished military 

- as almost to justify boasting. This, however, is an amiable weak- 

: and whilst it does not disqualify him from performing the duties of a 

ent, this itself renders it morally impossible that he should ever reach 

station. combined with eminent merit always secures popular 

man who becomes the trumpeter of his own exploits, no 

igh his deserts may be, can never become an object of popular 

•i 1 affection. General Scott's character, in this respect, is per- 

imderstood by the instinctive good sense of the American people. 

!•■ athers! " a volume could not more accurately portray the vanity 

ter than this soubriquet by which he is universally known. His 

1 »ry in this title, but with all their efforts they can never 

Napoleon was endeared to his army by his designation 

1 ; " < leneral Jackson, by that of "Old Hickory; " and 

' Rough and Ready;" but what shall we say to "Fuss 

Was such a soubriquet ever bestowed upon a General who 

affi sctions of his army ? It raises no shout, — it awakens no 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 51 

sympathy, — it excites no enthusiasm, — it falls dead upon the heart of an 
intelligent people. 

In order further to illustrate the want of civil qualifications of General 
Scott for the Presidency, I propose next to discuss his famous political letters. 
In these he has written his own political history. " Oh ! that mine enemy 
would write a book ! " was an exclamation of old. General Scott's epistles 
have accomplished this work, though I deny that he has any enemies among 
the American people. 

In 1848, when speaking of these letters, Thnrlow Weed, who at the pres- 
ent moment is one of General Scott's most able, distinguished, and efficient 
supporters, employs the following language : " In the character of General 
Scott there is much, very much to commend and admire. But the mischief 
is, there is weakness in all he says or does about the Presidency. Immediately 
after the close of the campaign of 1840, he wrote a gratuitous letter, making 
himself a candidate, in which all sorts of unwise things were said 'to return 
and plague his friends, if he should be a candidate.' And since that time, with 
a fatuity that seizes upon men who get bewildered in gazing at the White 
House, he has been suffering his pen to dim the glories achieved by his 
sword." 

The letter to which special allusion is made must be his famous letter of 
October 25, 1841. Though not an "old Fogy," I retain a vivid recollection 
of the circumstances under which this letter was written. It made its appear- 
ance the month after the termination of the famous extra session of Congress, 
which had been convened by the proclamation of General Harrison. This 
session commenced on the 31st May, and terminated on the 13th September, 
1841. 

And here, permit me to say, that I do not believe the history of legislative 
bodies, in this or any other country, ever presented more argumentative, 
eloquent, and powerful debating than was exhibited throughout this session. 
Nearly all the important political questions which had divided the two great 
parties of the country from the beginning were most ably discussed. Never 
did any public body of the same number present a stronger array of matured 
talent than the Senate of that day. There were Clay, Berrien, Clayton, Man- 
gum, Archer, Preston, and Southard on the Whig side; and Benton, Calhoun, 
Wright, Woodbury, Walker, Pierce, and Linn on the side of the Democrats, 
and these men were in the meridian of their glory. I would advise every 
young Democrat within the sound of my voice to procure and carefully study 
the debates of this session. 

Mr. Clay was, as he deserved to be, the lord of the ascendant in the Whig 
ranks. The Whig majority of both houses was controlled by his spirit. He 
was their acknowledged leader, and went to work in dashing style. Within 
a brief period, he carried all the great Whig measures triumphantly through 
Congress. The Independent Treasury was repealed ; the proceeds of the pub- 
lic lands were distributed among the States ; the Bankrupt Law was passed ; 
afltl an old-fashioned Bank of the United States would have been established, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

■ 

: the veto of John Tyler, a man who has never been as 

B he deserves, cither by the Democratic party or the country. 

£ nate, at the close of the session, the acknowledged 

Presid* sntial candidate of the great Whig party. Under 

:! became necessary for General Scott to do something 

rival and prevent him from remaining master of the field. 

mself to be as good a Whig as Henry Clay, and in addition 

: Anti-Mason. It was the common remark of the day, when 

1841, appeared, that he had out-whigged even Henry 

i i at uitous letter, making himself a candidate, in which all 

,vre said to ' return and plague his friends, if he should 

is not addressed to any individual, but is an epistle general to 

thful ; and I must do him the justice to say that in it he has concealed 

bing from the public eye. After some introductory remarks, it is divided 

. :i beads, which, with their subdivisions, embrace all the articles of 

as understood at that day; and in addition, the author presents 

ret or oath-bound societies.' " 

..'.1 briefly review some of these articles of General Scott's political 

. 

1. "The Judiciary." General Scott expresses his convictions that the 

as of the Supreme Court of the United States, on all constitutional 

lid he considered final and conclusive by the people, and es- 

. by their functionaries, "except, indeed, in the case of a judicial deci- 

og power and against liberty." And how is such a decision to be 

Why, forsooth, " any dangerous error of this sort, he says, can 

( asily corrected by an amendment of the Constitution, in one of 

prescribed by that instrument itself." Easily corrected I It might 

. : military order could accomplish the object; but an amendment of 

it ion of the United States, whether fortunately or unfortunately 

ic country, is almost a political impossibility. In order to accomplish it, 

ar the least impracticable of the two modes prescribed, the affirmative 

-thirds of both Houses of Congress and of the Legislatures of 

■ <- ral States is required. With these obstacles in the 

will an amendment of the Constitution ever be made? 

why did such a reverence for the decisions of the Supreme Court 

te an article of General Scott's faith ? Simply because General Jackson 

ink of the United States, believing in his conscience, such 

u'tution to be unconstitutional. He had sworn before his God and Ms 

support the Constitution ; and he could not, without committing 

rove a bill, which in his soul he believed to be a violation 

<mr liberties. He could not yield his honest convic- 

ie Supreme Court had expressed the opinion that Con- 

r to charter such a bank. 

: ling Vj the logic of General Scott, General Jackson and Mr. 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 53 

Tyler, when bills to charter a Bank of the United States were presented to 
them, had no right to form or express any opinion on the subject of their 
constitutionality. The Supreme Court had done this for them in advance. 
This court is to be the constitutional conscience-keeper of the President. 
" Practically, therefore (says General Scott), for the people and especially their 
functionaries (of whom the President is the highest) to deny, to disturb, or 
impugn, principles thus constitutionally established, strike me as of evil exam- 
ple, if not of a direct revolutionary tendency." A Bank of the United States 
must be held constitutional, by the people and their functionaries, as an article 
of faith, until two-thirds of both Houses of Congress and three-fourths of the 
State legislatures shall reverse the decision of the Supreme Court by an 
amendment of the Constitution. The President must then wait before he can 
exercise the right of judging for himself until doomsday. On the same prin- 
ciple, wc must all now hold, as an article of faith, that the odious and infamous 
sedition law of the reign of terror is constitutional, because the judiciary have 
so affirmed, and this decision never has been, and never will be, reversed by 
a constitutional amendment. This is double-distilled Whiggery of the most 
sublimated character. Truly, " there is weakness in all that General Scott 
says or does about the Presidency." 

Let us never forget that a Bank of the United States is a fixed idea with 
the Whig party, which nothing can ever remove. On this subject, like the old 
Bourbons, they forget nothing and learn nothing. They are inseparably 
joined to this idol. They believe that a concentration of the money power 
of the country, in the form of such a bank, is necessary to secure the ascend- 
ency of the Whig party in the Government ; and there is nothing more cer- 
tain in futurity than that they will establish such a bank, should they ever 
obtain the power. Experience has taught us a lesson on this subject which 
we ought never to forget. Throughout the political campaign of 1840, which 
resulted in the election of General Harrison, it was nowhere avowed by the 
Whigs, that they intended to charter a Bank of the United States. This was 
carefully concealed from the public eye. On the contrary, many of their dis- 
tinguished leaders declared themselves hostile to such an institution, and one 
of them, Mr. Badger, afterwards a member of the cabinet, indignantly pro- 
nounced the assertion that General Harrison was in favor of such a bank to 
be a falsehood. But mark the sequel. No sooner was Harrison elected and 
a majority secured in both Houses of Congress, than the Whigs immediately 
proceeded in hot haste, at the extra session, to pass a bill establishing a Bank 
of the United States, which would have become a law, but for the veto of 
John Tyler. What we have witnessed in 1841, we shall again witness in 
1853, the veto only excepted, should General Scott be elected President and be 
sustained by a Whig majority in both Houses of Congress. 

2. " The Executive Veto." To abolish this veto power is another article 
of General Scott's political faith, as announced in his letter of October, 1S41. 
To be more precise, the General would have the Constitution amended for 
the second time, in the same epistle, so as to overcome the Executive veto 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

House of Congress of all the members elected to 

; reflection, at the end often days from the return of 

| An Executive veto to be overcome and nullified 

: the very Congress which had but ten days before sent 

to the President for his approval! Better, far better, adopt 

,., of abolishing the veto altogether, than to resort to this sub- 

the abolishment of the Executive veto become an article of 

,p]y because General Jackson and Mr. Tyler each vetoed 

Bank of the United States! " Still harping on my daugh- 

have determined to destroy the veto power, which has 

from creating an institution which they love above all 

:-. The veto power has saved the country from the 

and corrupting influence of a bank; and it is this alone which has 

d it so odious to the Whig party. 

power is the least dangerous of all the great powers conferred by the 
titntion upon the President; because nothing but a strong sense of 
lie duty and a deep conviction that he will be sustained by the people can 
. "nice him to array himself against a majority of both Houses of Con- 
I- baa been exercised but in comparatively few instances since the 
gin of the Federal Government; and I am not aware that it has ever been 
ed in any case, which has not called forth the approving voice of a large 
ajority of the American people. Confident I am, it is highly popular in 
ylvania. 
w Ri .tation in office " is the next head of General Scott's letter. Through- 
out the Presidential contest, which resulted in the election of General Harrison, 
:i of the Whigs to proscribe proscription; and to denounce 
Democratic Presidents for removing their political enemies and appointing 
il friends to office. General Scott, in his letter, comes up to the 
.ird in this, as in all other respects. In his profession of faith, he 
. •.•:] avoid a fling against the hero and the sage then in retirement 
He says : " I speak on this head from what I witnessed 
I M/ncement of General Jackson's administration), of the 

- on a large scale, then made upon the sensibilities of the 
mischiefs to the public interests which early ensued." 
the Whig practice upon the subject after they had obtained 
1 ! Qeral Jackson was magnanimous, kind-hearted and merciful, and 
•. d knowledge lie retained a very large proportion of Whig clerks in 
Washington. I ask how many Democrats now remain in 
ay, the present administration has even proscribed old 
:i la had been Democrats. In the city of Lancaster, they 
post-office an old lady of this character, who had performed 
satisfaction of the public of all parties, to make way 
deal (I admit a respeetacle political) friend. To the credit of General 
.'ii, he refused to make war upon this old lady. 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 55 

But in this respect, a change has come over the spirit of General Scott's 
dream. Of this the Whigs are satisfied. If they were not, small would he 
his chance — much smaller even than it now is, of reaching the Presidential 
chair. In his letter, accepting the nomination, he says: — "In regard to the 
general policy of the administration, if elected, I should, of course, look 
among those who may approve that policy, for the agents to carry it into 
execution; and I would seek to cultivate harmony and fraternal sentiment 
throughout the Whig party, without attempting to reduce its members by 
proscription to exact conformity to my own views! " 

"Harmony and fraternal sentiment throughout the Whig party 1" His 
charity, though large for Whigs, does not extend to Democrats. He knows, 
however, that his own party are divided into supporters of himself for his 
own sake, whilst spitting upon the platform on which he stands — and those 
who love the platform so well that for its sake they have even consented, 
though reluctantly, to acquiesce in his nomination — into those Free Soil 
Whigs who denounce the Fugitive Slave Law, and those Whigs who are 
devoted heart and soul to its maintenance. In this dilemma, he will not 
attempt to reduce the discordant brethren by proscription to exact conformity 
to his own views. Southern Whigs and Northern Free Soilers are therefore 
both embraced within the broad sweep of his charity. He seeks to cultivate 
harmony and fraternal sentiment among the Seward Whigs and the National 
Whigs by seating them all together at the same table to enjoy the loaves and 
the fishes. But woe to the vanquished — woe to the Democrats ! They shall 
not even receive a single crumb which may fall from the table of the Presi- 
dential banquet. 

" One Presidential Term," is the subject which he next discusses. Here 
he boggles at one Presidential term. He seems reluctant to surrender the 
most elevated and the most lucrative office, next to that of President, and 
this, too, an office for life, for the sake of only four years in the White House. 
He again, therefore, for the third time, in the same letter, proposes to amend 
the Constitution, just as if this were a3 easy as to wheel a division of his army 
on a parade day, so as to extend the Presidential term to six years. Four 
years are too short a term for General Scott. It must be prolonged. The 
people must be deprived of the power of choosing their President at the end 
of so brief a period as four years. But such an amendment of the Constitu- 
tion, he ought to have known, was all moonshine. The General, then, declines 
to pledge himself to serve but for one term, and this for the most extraordinary 
reason. I shall quote his own words ; he says : — " But I do not consider it 
respectful to the people, nor otherwise proper, in a candidate to solicit favor on 
a pledge that, if elected, he will not accept a second nomination. It looks too 
much like a bargain tendered to other aspirants — yield to me now; I shall 
soon be out of your way; too much like the interest that sometimes governs 
the cardinals in the choice of a Pope, many voting for themselves first, and, 
if without success, finally for the most superannuated, in order that the election 
may sooner come round again." 






LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



H,. vou may be sure, still a Native American. 

■ 'cast, this imputation of selfishness and corruption against 

' ■ election of a Pope, is in bad taste in a political letter writ- 

r the Presidency. It was in exceedingly bad taste, in 

to stigmatize the highest dignitaries of the ancient 

lurch, in the performance of their most solemn and responsible 

:i this side of eternity. From my soul, I abhor the 

ip religion with politics. The doctrine of all our Consti- 

leral and State, is, that every man has an indefeasible right 

hip his God, according to the dictates of his own conscience. He is 

a tyrant who would interfere with that sacred right. When 

: ire the people for office, the inquiry ought never even to be 

what form of religious faith he professes; but only, in the language of 

o, " Is he honest; is he capable? " Far be it from me to charge 

Quate that General Scott would desire to introduce religion into 

: and yet I consider it exceedingly improper for him, in a political 

. tndidate for the Presidency, to have made this charge against 

le cardinals of the Catholic church. Such a charge, emanating 

i high a source, could not fail to wound the feelings of a large and 

table Christian community. This has necessarily, to some extent, 

as discussions into the Presidential contest. 

I. ading measures of the late extra session of Congress." This is the 

■ '.' General Scott's epistle, to which I advert. He swallows all 
. / measures at a single gulp. " If," says he, " I had had the honor 

'e on the occasion, it would have been given in favor of the Land 

ion Bill, the Bankrupt Bill, and the second bill for creating a Fiscal 

ration, having long been under a conviction that in peace, as in war, 

■ fncient in the nature of a Bank of the United States, is not only 

; iroper,' but indispensable to the successful operations of the 
. 

I Distribution Bill. This is emphatically a high toned Whig 

jure, which had been once crushed by General Jackson's message of 

1 833. Mr. Clay, its illustrious author, was the very essence, the 

of Whiggery. It proposes to distribute the proceeds of the 

ami rog the several States. It proposes to surrender to the several 

l that immense and bountiful fund provided by our ancestors, which is 

irest resource, in times of war and danger, when our revenue 

. In the days of Jackson, Van Buren and Polk, the Demo- 

■ i--.— I fear it is not so at present,— to preserve this fund in 

non Treasury, as a sacred trust, to enable Congress to execute the 

: 3 conferred upon them by the Constitution, for the equal 

and the people. Should Congress give away the 

to the States, they will deprive themselves of the power of 

upon the soldiers and the sailors who fight the battles 

..try, and of granting liberal terms of purchase to those hardy 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 57 

pioneers who make the wilderness to bloom and to blossom as the rose. "What 
will become of this policy if you distribute the proceeds of these lands among 
the States ? Then every State will have a direct interest in preventing any 
donations of the public lands, either to old soldiers or actual settlers ; because 
every acre thus given will so much lessen the dividend to each of the States 
interested. Should this Distribution Bill ever prevail, it will make the States 
mere dependencies upon the central Government for a large portion of their 
revenue, and thus reduce these proud Democratic sovereignties to the de- 
grading position of looking to the Treasury of the United States for their 
means of support. In the language of General Jackson, " a more direct road 
to consolidation cannot be devised." Such a state of dependence, though 
exactly in accordance with the centralizing Whig policy, has ever been 
abhorred by the Democrats. But the Distribution Bill is one of the principles, 
one of the " convictions," of General Scott ; and so let it pass. 

We come now to the Bankrupt Bill, a purely Whig measure, to which 
General Scott gives his adhesion. — And such a bill ! In no legitimate sense 
of the word, was this a bankrupt law. It was merely a new mode of paying 
old debts ; and the easiest mode which was ever devised for this purpose in 
any civilized country. The expansions and contractions of the Bank of the 
United States, — the inundations of bank paper and of shinplasters which 
spread over the country, had given birth to a wild and reckless spirit of 
speculation, that ruined a great number of people. The speculators wanted 
to pay their debts in the easiest manner, and the Whigs wanted their votes. 
This was the origin of the bankrupt law. It ruined a great many honest 
creditors; it paid off a great many honest debts with moonshine. If my 
memory serves me, debts to the amount of $400,000,000 were discharged 
in this manner. The law, however, from its practical operation, soon became 
so odious to the people, that they demanded its repeal. It was stricken from 
the statute book, amidst the execrations of the people, by the very same 
Congress which had enacted it, in one year and one month from the day on 
which it went into effect. And this is the bill for which General Scott 
declares he would have voted, had he been a member of Congress. 

Next in order, we come to the Bank of the United States. If General 
Scott " had had the honor of a vote, it would have been given for the second 
bill creating a Fiscal Corporation." 

Surely the General could never have carefully read this bill. In derision, it 
was termed at the time, the " Kite Flying Fiscality." It was a mere specu- 
lators' bank, and no person believed it could ever become a law. In truth, it 
was got up merely for the purpose of heading John Tyler, and when reported 
to the House, it was received, according to the National Intelligencer, with 
shouts of laughter. 

It originated in this manner. A bill had at first passed Congress to create 
a regular old-fashioned Bank of the United States. This bill was vetoed by 
John Tyler. Afterwards the second bill, or Kite Flying Fiscality, was pre- 
pared by the Whigs to meet some portions of Mr. Tyler's veto message, and 



II KK OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

. nder it ridiculous. The bill was passed and was vetoed by Presi- 

« it would be. But how General Scott go.t 

|«to prefer this thing to the first bill, is a matter of 

. • to say he was the only Whig in the United States who 

eral Scott's confession of Whig faith ; and surely it is suffi- 

an | specific to gratify the most rabid Whig in the land. But 

. , aother string to his bow. It was necessary not only that ho 

s good a Whig as Henry Clay, but that he should be something 

ing over and above a mere Whig, in order to render himself 

than his great rival. Hence the concluding head of his famous 

: . like the postscript of a lady's letter, contains much of the pith 

the whole. It is entitled " Secret or Oath-bound Societies." 

'arcs, although a Mason, that he had " not been a member of 

:iic lodge for thirty odd years, nor a visitor of any lodge since, except 

more than sixteen years ago." And such is his abhorrence for 

bat for twenty-eight years he had not even visited one of 

. societies in our colleges, whose practice it is to adopt a few secret 

which their members in after life can recognize each other. 

rder then, to render himself a more available candidate than Henry 

was necessary that his net should have a broader sweep than that of 

• Ei ,: ickian. It was necessary that he should be as good a Whig 

■ iter Anti-Mason. The Anti-Masonic party was then powerful in 

flvania as well as in other Northern States. This party numbered in its 

j old Democrats, and to these Mr. Clay was not very acceptable. 

[asons were more active and more energetic than the Whigs. A 

Anti-Mason of our State is reported once to have said, that they 

the locomotive, and the Whigs the burden train. How were they to be 

•d in the ranks of Scott ? The great Kentuckian, with that independent 

, characterized him, never yielded to the advances of the Anti- 

1 [e was a Mason himself as well as General Scott ; but the General 

no ire kindly ear to this new party. Hence his remarks on secret or 

This confession of his faith proved to be entirely satis- 

.' : i Masons have ever since proved to be his devoted 

. . II ■ thus captured a large division of the forces which were un- 

M:. Clay. But for the purpose of embracing the new recruits, it 

;ii y to coin a more comprehensive name than simply that of 

li doubtless thought that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 

letter, he announced himself to be a Democratic Whig. 

kbird — a Christian unbeliever. This name was sufficiently com- 

irace all men of all parties. He became all things to all men, 

a proselytes. I say what I know, when I declare that this 

upplant the veteran statesman of Kentucky, was a 

ism at the time iu Washington city, among men of all 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 59 

parties. Surely, in the language of Thurlow Weed, M there is weakness in all 
he says or does about the Presidency." 

But a good general is always fertile in expedients. His coup-d'ceil 
embraces the whole field of battle, and he is ever ready to take advantage 
of any occurrence which may enable him to seize the victory. A new politi- 
cal party styling itself the Native American party, began to loom up in an 
imposing manner and to present a formidable aspect. This party must be 
conciliated. The Native Americans must be prevailed upon to unite their 
forces with the Whigs and Anti-Masons, and thus to form a grand combined 
army. It therefore became necessary for General Scott to write a second 
epistle, which he seems to have done with all the ardor and enthusiasm of 
heartfelt sincerity. This is dated from "Washington city, on the 10th of 
November, 1844, and is in answer to a letter addressed to him, " in behalf of 
several hundred Native American Republicans," by Geo. W. Reed, Esq., of 
Philadelphia. This second epistle proved to be as successful in enlisting the 
Native Americans under his banner, as the first epistle had been in enlisting 
the Anti-Masons. And why should it not? The General pledged himself, in 
the strongest terms, to every dogma which this new party had most at heart. 

He dates his Native Americanism back more than eight years, to " the 
stormy election in the spring of 1830,'' and his views " were confirmed in the 
week [Nov. 1840] when Harrison electors were chosen in New York." It 
was on this occasion in 1840, that, " fired with indignation," he sat down 
with two friends in the Astor House, " to draw up an address, designed to 
rally an American party." What has become of this address? How pre- 
cious would it be ? I fear it is forever lost to the world 1 It would be one 
of the greatest curiosities of modern literature. How withering must have 
been its attack upon the poor foreigners ! We can judge somewhat of its 
spirit by his epistle to Mr. Reed. Other Native Americans were satisfied to 
restore the naturalization law of "the reign of terror," and to prohibit for- 
eigners from becoming citizens until after a residence of fourteen years. Not 
so with General Scott. He went a bow-shot beyond. His mind inclined to 
" a total repeal of all Acts of Congress on the subject,'' — to a total denial for- 
ever of all political rights to every human being, young, middle-aged, and old, 
who had happened to be born in a foreign country. 

Having thus placed himself rectus in curia, as the lawyers would say, with 
the Native American party, he then proceeds, as their god-father, to give 
them a proper name. In this I do not think his choice was fortunate. It was 
a difficult task. It must embrace within its ample outline both Whigs and 
Anti-Masons, and yet have so much of the odor of Native Americanism as to 
make its savor sweet in the nostrils of the new party. He says, " I should 
prefer assuming the designation of American Republicans, as in New York, or 
Democratic Americans, as I would respectfully suggest Democratic Amer- 
icans would include all good native American citizens devoted to our country 
and its institutions ; and would not drive from us naturalized citizens, who, by 
long residence, have become identified with us in feelings and interest." 






LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



•• Democratic Americans ! " What a name for a Native American party ! 

: , air past history prove that American Democrats have 

arms to receive foreigners flying from oppression in 

,1 have always bestowed upon them the rights of Ameri- 

. a brief period of residence in this country. The Democratic 

gloried in this policy, and its fruits have been to increase 

q and our power with unexampled rapidity, and to furnish our 

',• with vast numbers of industrious, patriotic and useful citizens. 

name of 'Democratic Americans' was an unfortunate designa- 

\ .• \ ■ American party' 

3 -it was not content to be considered merely as a proselyte 
oericanism. He claimed the glory of being the founder of the 
.v-erts his claim to this distinguished honor, which no individual 
■.V dispute with him, in the postscript to his letter of November, 1844, 
. read on the 4th of February, 1847, before the National Conven- 
tion of Native American Delegates, at Pittsburg. In this he says, "writing, 
. few days ago, to my friend Mayor Harper of New York, I half 
1 should claim over him and others the foundership of the 
but that I had discovered tins glory, like every other American 
■. belonged to the Father of his Country.'' 

. ■ American party an 'American excellence,' and the glory 
of its : >, belongs to George Washington ! No, fellow-citizens, the 

American people will rise up with one accord to vindicate the memory of 
that illustrious man from such an imputation. As long as the recent mem- 
ory of our revolutionary struggle remained vividly impressed on the hearts 
of our countrymen, no such party could have ever existed. The recollec- 
tion of Montgomery, Lafayette, De Kalb, Kosciusko, and a long list of for- 
, both officers and soldiers, who freely shed their blood to secure our 
would have rendered such ingratitude impossible. Our revolution- 
as filled with the brave and patriotic natives of other lands, 
irge Washington was their commander-in-chief. Would he have 
. the door against the admission of foreigners to the rights of 
Let his acts speak for themselves. So early as the 
M . !i. 1790, General Washington, as President of the "United States 
. te first law which ever passed Congress on the subject of nat- 
ion ; and this only required a residence of two years, previous to 
;ion of a foreigner as an American citizen. On the 29th January, 
:m of residence was extended by Congress to five years, and 
- it remained throughout General Washington's administration, and until 
tt< Ibhn Adams to the Presidency. In his administration, 
.- be known in history as the reign of terror, as the era of alien 
an act was passed on the 18th of June, 1798, which prohib- 
•eigncr from becoming a citizen until after a residence of fourteen 
md this is the law, or else perpetual exclusion, which General Scott 
and which the Native American party now desire to restore. 



SrEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. Gl 

The Presidential election of 1800 secured the ascendency of the Dem- 
ocratic party, and under the administration of Thomas Jefferson, its great 
apostle, on the 14th of April, 1802, the term of residence previous to natural- 
ization was restored to five years, what it had been under General Washing- 
ton, and where it has ever since remained. No, fellow-citizens, the Father of 
his Country was never a ' Native American.' This ' American excellence ' 
never belonged to him." 

General Scott appears to have been literally infatuated with the beauties 
of Native Americanism. On the 12th November, 1848, he addressed a letter 
in answer to one from a certain " Mr. Hector Orr, printer," who appears to 
have been the editor of a Native American journal in Philadelphia. This let- 
ter is a perfect rhapsody from beginning to end. Among other things equally 
extravagant, the General says : " A letter from him (Benjamin Franklin) were 
he alive, could not have refreshed me more than that before my eyes. It 
gives a new value to any little good I have done or attempted, and will stim- 
ulate me to do all that may fall in the scope of my power in the remainder of 
my life." What a letter must this have been of Mr. Hector Orr, printer ! 
What a pity it has been lost to the world ! The General concluded by re- 
questing Mr. Orr to send him " the history of the Native party by the Sunday 
School Boy," and also to consider him a subscriber to his journal. 

But soon there came a frost — a chilling frost. Presto, pass, and General 
Scott's Native Americanism is gone like the baseless fabric of a vision. 
Would that it left no trace behind ! The celebrated William E. Robinson, of 
New York, is the enchanter who removes the spell. 

The Whig National Convention of 7th June, 1848, was about to assemble. 
General Scott was for the third time about to be a candidate before it for 
nomination as President. This was an important — a critical moment. Native 
Americanism had not performed its early promise. It was not esteemed " an 
American excellence," even by the Whig party. General Scott was in a 
dilemma, and how to extricate himself from it was the question. The ready 
friendship of Mr. Robinson hit upon the lucky expedient. On the 8th May, 
1848, he addressed a letter to General Scott, assuming that the General enter- 
tained " kind and liberal views towards our naturalized citizens.'' The Gen- 
eral answered this letter on the 29th May, 1848, just ten days before the 
meeting of the Whig Philadelphia Convention ; and what an answer ! After 
declaring in the strongest terms that Mr. Robinson had done him no more 
than justice in attributing to him "kind and liberal views toward our natu- 
ralized citizens," he proceeds : " It is true that in a case of unusual excite- 
ment some years ago, when both parties complained of fraudulent practices in 
the naturalization of foreigners, and when there seemed to be danger that 
native and adopted citizens would be permanently arrayed against each 
other in hostile faction, / ivas inclined to concur in the opinion then avowed 
by lending statesmen, that some modification of the naturalization laws might 
be necessary, in order to prevent abuses, allay strife and restore har- 
mony between the different classes of our people. But later experience 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

atirely removed this impression, and dissipated my 

.1 ^rmly embraced Native Americanism so early as 1836, 

, tthusiastic support for twelve years thereafter-who 

. i claimed to be the founder of this « American excel. 

d with indignation," had in conjunction with two friends 

, address in his parlor at the Astor House in New York, 

, American party; who had, in 1844, hesitated between 

1 of residence before naturalization to fourteen years, and a 

i sclusion of all foreigners from the rights of citizenship for- 

| inclining to the latter; who had in the same year elevated 

Native American printer, to the same level with our great 

. v statesman and patriot, Benjamin Franklin— this same individual, 

lares to Mr. Robinson, that he had formerly been merely " inclined 

icur in the opinion then avowed by leading statesmen, that some modifica- 

f the naturalization laws might be necessary." 

' what a fall was there, my countrymen ! " 

what caused this sudden, this almost miraculous change of opinion ? 

irsooth, in his recent campaign in Mexico, the Irish and the Germans 

.. v in maintaining our flag in the face of every danger. But 

hi with equal bravery throughout our revolutionary struggle, 

iout our last war with Great Britain? General Scott could not 

en ignorant of this fact. Chippewa and Lundy's Lane both 

nt daring in defence of the stars and stripes of our country. 

The General now seems determined, if possible, to efface from the memory 

of man that he had ever been a Native American. His present devotion to 

w-citizens of foreign birth knows no bounds. He is determined to 

them under his banner, as he formerly enlisted the Anti-Masons and 

'. mericans. 

less, it seem?, required him to visit the Blue Licks of Kentucky; 

but yet, it is passing strange, that he chose to proceed from Washington to 

that place by the circuitous route of the great Northern Lakes. This devia- 

. a direct military line between the point of his departure and that of 

enabled him to meet and address his fellow-citizens on the 

• Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and other points both 

ania and Ohio. Should the published programme of his route be 

into effect, he will, on his return to "Washington from the Blue Licks, 

trough Buffalo, and throughout the entire length of the Empire State. 

v, however, can for a single moment suspect — this would be uncharita- 

that his visit to the small and insignificant States of Pennsylvania, Ohio 

irk, when merely on his way from Washington city to Kentucky 

articular period have had any view to the Presidential election! 

it from me to indulge such a suspicion ; and yet it is strange that Gen- 

iouI his whole route, speaks and acts just as General Scott 

d have done had he been on an electioneering tour. He has everywhere 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. 03 

bestowed especial favor upon our adopted fellow-citizens ; but at Cleveland ho 
surpassed himself, and broke out into a rhapsody nearly as violent as that in 
which he had indulged in favor of Hector Orr, the Native American printer. 
At Cleveland, an honest Irishman in the crowd shouted a welcome to General 
Scott. Always ready to seize the propitious moment, the General instantly 
exclaimed : " I hear that rich brogue ; I love to hear it. It makes me remem- 
ber noble deeds of Irishmen, many of whom I have led to battle and to vic- 
tory." The General has yet to learn that my father's countrymen, (I have 
ever felt proud of my descent from an Irishman,) though they sometimes do 
blarney others, are yet hard to be blarneyed themselves, especially out of their 
Democracy. The General, unless I am greatly mistaken, will discover that 
Irish Democrats, however much, in common with U3 all, they may admire his 
military exploits, will never abandon their political principles, and desert their 
party, for the sake of elevating him or any other Whig candidate to the 
Presidency. 

One other remark: — Were it within the limits of possibility to imagine, 
which it is not, that our Washingtons, our Jeffersons, or our Jaeksons, could 
have set out on an electioneering tour for themselves, when candidates for the 
Presidency, — I ask, would they have met and addressed their fellow-citizens 
on such topics, and in such a style, as General Scott has selected? Nol 
friends and fellow-citizens, gravity, solemnity, and the discussion of great 
questions of public policy, affecting the vital interests of the country, would 
have illustrated and marked their progress. 

General Scott, in his political opinions, is prone to extremes. Not content 
with having renounced Native Americanism, not satisfied to occupy the 
broad, just and liberal platform in favor of naturalization, on which the Demo- 
cratic party have stood, ever since the origin of the Government, he leaves 
this far behind. In his letter, accepting the nomination of the Whig Conven- 
tion, he declares himself in favor of such an alteration in our naturalization 
laws, as would admit foreigners to the rights of citizenship, who, in time of 
war, had served a single year in the army or navy. This manifests a strange, 
an unaccountable ignorance of the Federal Constitution. Did he not know 
that the power of Congress was confined to the establishment of " an uniform 
rule of naturalization ? " " Uniform " is the word. Congress have no power 
'to make exceptions in favor of any class of foreigners; no power to enact 
that one man shall be naturalized after a residence of a single year, and that 
another shall reside five years before he can attain this privilege. What uni- 
formity would there be in requiring five years residence from the honest and 
industrious foreigner, who remains usefully employed at home, and in dispens- 
ing with this requisition in favor of the foreigner who has enlisted and served 
for one year in the army or navy ? General Scott, in order to accomplish his 
object, must resort to a fourth amendment of the Constitution. He would 
make this sacred instrument a mere nose of wax, to be twisted, and turned, 
and bent in any direction which the opinion or caprice of the moment might 
dictate. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

this review, I ask you, fellow-citizens, what confidence can be 

political opinions of General Scott? Is there anything in 

Brm, Btable, consistent and enlightened character which ought to 

,an into whose hands you are willing to entrust the civil 

;r great, glorious and progressive country? What security have 

at he may not to-morrow relapse into Native Amer- 

twelve long years, and this, too, at a period of life when the 

■ ought to be mature, he remained faithful and true to the Native 

giving it all the encouragement and support which his high 

; i influence could command; and he only deserted it in 1848, at 

i of the Whig National Convention. And what opinion must the 

ricang hold of the man, who, after having been so long one of 

tost ardent and enthusiastic leaders, abandoned them at the time of 

I oeed? Above all, does Winfield Scott possess that calm and 

_,' judgment, that far-seeing sagacity, and that prudence, never to be 

q off its guard, winch we ought to require in a President of the United 

. 

That General Scott is a great military man, the people of this country will 
illy and cheerfully acknowledge. History teaches us, however, 
v men, whose profession has been arms and arms alone from early 
have possessed the civil qualifications necessary wisely to govern a free 
people. Of this we have had some experience in the case of General Taylor, 
as both an honest man and a pure patriot; but like General Scott, had 
always been a soldier and nothing but a soldier. It is true that a few favored 
, emancipating themselves from the military fetters by which they had 
'. have displayed high talents as statesmen. Napoleon Bonaparte 
L> the most remarkable example of this class; but his statesmanship was unfor- 
tunately displayed in the skill with which he forged fetters for his country. 

i American citizen, proud of the military exploits of General Scott, I 

•m my soul he had never become a candidate for the Presidency. The 

in his character as a statesman, which it has now become an impera- 

present to the people of the country, would then have been for- 

1 1 irever buried in oblivion. But for this, he would have gone down 

■ . without a cloud upon his glory. And, even now, it is fortunate 
is future fame, as well as for the best interests of his country, that he can 

■ lected President of the United States. 

Is on the subject of General Scott's connection with the Free 

and I shall have done. And in the first place, let me say that I do 

■ and therefore shall not assert, that he is himself a Free Soiler. 

16 contrary, I freely admit we have satisfactory proof, that whilst the 

M ires were pending before Congress and afterwards, he 

approbation of them, but this only in private conversations 

. But was this all the country had a right to expect from 

porl ntous cloud raised by the Abolitionists and fanatics, 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. C5 

■which had for many years been growing blacker and still blacker, at length 
seemed ready to burst upon our devoted heads, threatening to sweep away 
both the Constitution and the Union. The patriots of the land, both Whigs 
and Democrats, cordially united their efforts to avert the impending storm. 
At this crisis, it became the duty of every friend of the Union to proclaim 
his opinions boldly. This was not a moment for any patriot to envelop him- 
self in mystery. Under such appalling circumstances, did it comport with the 
frankness of a soldier, for General Scott to remain silent ; or merely to whis- 
per his opinions to private friends from the South? A man of his elevated 
station and commanding influence ought to have thrown himself into the 
breach. But the Presidency was in view; and he was anxious to secure the 
votes of the Free Soil Whigs of the Seward school, in the National Conven- 
tion. Mr. Fillmore, his competitor, had spoken out like a man in favor of the 
Compromise, and had thus done his duty to his country. He was, for this 
very reason, rejected by the Whig National Convention, and General Scott 
was nominated by the votes and influence of the Northern Free Soil Whigs. 

But the Northern Free Soilers had not quite sufficient strength to secure 
his nomination. To render this certain, it was neqessary to enlist a small 
detachment of Southern Whig delegates. This task was easily accomplished. 
To attain his object, General Scott had merely to write a brief note to Mr. 
Archer. 

This was evidently not intended for the public eye, certainly not for the 
Free Soilers. It was, therefore, most reluctantly extracted from the breeches 
pocket of John M. Botts, and was read to the Convention, as we are informed, 
amid uproarious laughter. In this note, General Scott, with characteristic 
inconsistency, whilst declaring his determination to write nothing to the Con- 
vention, or any of its individual members, at this very moment, in the same 
note, does actually write to Mr. Archer, a member of the Convention, that 
should the honor of a nomination fall to his lot, he would give his views on 
the Compromise Measures in terms at least as strong in their favor, as those 
which he had read to Mr. Archer himself but two days before. This pledge 
which, on its face, was intended exclusively for Governor Jones, Mr. Botts, 
and Mr. Lee, etc., all of them Southern Whigs, proved sufficient to detach a 
small division of this wing of the party from Mr. Fillmore, and these, uniting 
with the whole body of the Northern Free Soilers, succeeded in nominating- 
General Scott. After the nomination had been thus made, the General 
immediately proceeded to accept it, "with the resolutions annexed;" and 
one of these resolutions is in favor of the faithful execution of all the measures 
of the Compromise, including the Fugitive Slave Law. 

Now, fellow-citizens, I view the finality of the Compromise as necessary to 
the peace and preservation of the Union. I say finality ; a word aptly coined 
for the occasion. The Fugitive Slave Law is all the South have obtained in 
this Compromise. It is a law founded both upon the letter and the spirit of 
the Constitution ; and a similar law has existed on our statute book ever 
since the administration of George Washington. History teaches us that but 
II.— 5 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

B provision in favor of the restoration of fugitive slaves, our present 

rer would have existed. Think ye that the South will ever 

surrender the Fugitive Slave Law to Northern fanatics and Abohtion- 

then, the great political question to be decided by the people of 

. will the election of Scott, or the election of Pierce, contribute 

itain the finality of the Compromise and the peace and harmony 

lion? 

\ u thorn supporters spit upon and execrate the platform erected by 

,il Convention. They support General Scott, not because of 

nee to this platform, but in spite of it. They have loudly expressed 

■ iuation to agitate the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law, and thus 

upon the country the dangerous excitement which preceded its 

They will not suffer the country to enjoy peace and repose, nor 

permit the Southern States to manage their own domestic affairs, in their own 

v. ay, without foreign interference. 

• can doubt that these dangerous men will participate largely in the 

la of General Scott, and influence the measures of his administration ? 

m he owes his election, should he be elected. He is bound to them by 

• of gratitude. He is placed in a position where he would be more or 

man, if he could withdraw himself from their influence. Indeed, 

he has informed us in advance, in the very act of accepting the nomination, 

that he would seek to cultivate harmony and fraternal sentiment throughout 

• e Whig party, without attempting to reduce its numbers by proscription to 

conformity to his own views. What does this mean, if not to declare 

ie Free Soil Whigs of the North, and the Compromise Whigs of the 

South, shall share equally in the honors and offices of the Administration ? In 

. rib, where by far the greatest danger of agitation exists, the offices will 

be bestowed upon those Whigs who detest the Compromise, and who will 

exert all the influence which office confers, to abolish the Fugitive Slave Law. 

To this sad dilemma has General Scott been reduced. 

and, what will be our condition should General Pierce be 
He will owe his election to the great Democratic party of the 
y, — a party truly national, which knows no North, no South, no East, 
West They are everywhere devoted to the Constitution and the 
Union. Tiny everywhere speak the same language. The finality of the 
1 mise, in all \i< parts, is everywhere an article of their political faith. 

andidate, General Pierce, has always openly avowed his sentiments on ' 
■. 
II'- could proudly declare, in accepting the nomination, that there has been 
f his life in conflict with the platform adopted by the Demo- 
al Convention. Should he be elected, all the power and influence 
nistration will be exerted to allay the dangerous spirit of fanaticism, 
ader the Union ami the Constitution immortal. Judge ye, then, 
I w< i candidates, and decide for yourselves. 



SPEECH AGAINST GENERAL SCOTT. G7 

And now, fellow-citizens, what a glorious party the Democratic party has 
ever been ! Man is but the being of a summer's day, whilst principles are 
eternal. The generations of mortals, one after the other, rise and sink and 
are forgotten ; but the principles of Democracy, which we have inherited from 
our revolutionary fathers, will endure to bless mankind throughout all genera- 
tions. Is there any Democrat within the sound of my voice — is there any 
Democrat throughout the broad limits of good and great old Democratic Penn- 
sylvania, who will abandon these sacred principles for the sake of following in 
the train of a military conqueror, and shouting for the hero of Lundy's Lane, 
Cerro Gordo, and Chapultepec ? 

" Remember, O my friends! the laws, the rights, 
The gen'rous plan of power deliver'd down, 
From age to age, by your rcnown'd forefathers, 
So dearly bought, the price of so much blood ; 
O 1 Let it never perish in your hands, 
But piously transmit it to your children." 



CHAPTEE III. 

1852— 1853. 

PERSONAL AND POLITICAL RELATIONS WITH THE PRESIDENT ELECT AND 
Willi Ml!. MARCY, HIS SECRETARY OF STATE — BUCHANAN IS OFFERED 
1111 IO88I0S TO ENGLAND — HIS OWN ACCOUNT OF THE OFFER, AND 
His KKASONS FOR ACCEPTING IT— PARTING WITH HIS FRD3NDS AND 
NEIGHBORS IN' LANCASTER— CORRESPONDENCE WITH HIS NIECE. 

Till-! private correspondence between Mr. Buchanan and the 
new President, General Pierce, and his Secretary of 
State, will best explain his relations to this administration ; and 
he has himself left a full record of the circumstances under 
which he accepted the mission to England in the summer 

[from general pierce.] 

Concord, N. H., November 1, 1852. 
My Dkar Sir : — 

kind letter of the 26th instant was received yesterday, 
conclusion as to attending the meeting at Tammany Hall was what 
lected, marked by a nice sense of the fitness of things. 
aphic despatches received late this evening would seem to remove 
all doubt as to the result of the election. Tour signal part in the accomplish- 
knowledged and appreciated by all. I hope to have 
'.casure of meeting you at no distant day. 

Your friend, 

Frank Pierce. 

[from general pierce.] 

Concord, N. H , December 7, 1S52. 
\p. Pir:— 

;!ng ever since the election that I might have a personal 

•• with you, if not before, certainly during the present month. But 

ich a meeting suggested by you while I was at the sea- 

ren with greater force than at that time. With 



RELATIONS WITH THE PRESIDENT ELECT. G9 

our known pleasant personal relation a meeting would doubtless call forth 
many idle and annoying speculations and groundless surmises. 

An interchange of thoughts with Colonel King (whose returning health is 
a source of great joy to me) would also be peculiarly pleasant and profitable, 
but here, again, there are obstacles in the way. He cannot come North, and 
I cannot go to Washington. Communication by letter is still open. My 
thoughts for the last four weeks have been earnestly turned to the formation 
of a cabinet. And although I must in the end be responsible for the appoint- 
ments, and consequently should follow my own well-considered convictions, 
I cannot help saying often to myself how agreeable it would be to compare 
conclusions upon this or that point with Mr. Buchanan. I do not mean to 
trouble you with the many matters of difficulty that evidently lie in my path. 
So far as I have been able to form an opinion as to public sentiment and 
reasonable public expectation, I think I am expected to call around me 
gentlemen who have not hitherto occupied cabinet position, and in view of 
the jealousies and embarrassments which environ any other course, this 
expectation is in accordance with my own judgment, a judgment strengthened 
by the impression that it is sanctioned by views expressed by you. Regard- 
ing you with the confidence of a friend, and appreciating your disinterested 
patriotism as well as your wide experience and comprehensive statesmanship, 
I trust you will deem it neither an intrusion nor annoyance when I ask your 
suggestions and advice. 

If not mistaken in this, you will confer a great favor by writing me, as 
fully as you may deem proper, as to the launching (if I may so express myself) 
of the incoming administration, and more especially in regard to men and 
things in Pennsylvania. In relation to appointments requiring prompt action 
after the inauguration, I shall, as far as practicable, leave Concord with pur- 
poses definitely formed, and not likely to be changed. 

Should you deem that I ought not thus to tax you, burn the letter, but 
give me, as of yore, your good will and wishes. 

I shall regard, as you will of course, whatever passes between us as in the 
strictest sense confidential. 

Very truly, your friend, 

Frank Pierce. 

[mr. buchanan to general pierce.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, December 11, 1852. 
My Dear Sir : — 

Your favor of the 7th instant reached me last evening. 

You do me no more than justice in " regarding me with the free confidence 
of a friend," and I can say in all sincerity that, both for your own sake and 
that of the country, I most ardently desire the success of your administration. 
Having asked my suggestions and advice " as to the launching of the incoming 
administration," I shall cheerfully give it, with all the frankness of friendship. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

1 can assure you, has relieved me from no little personal anxi- 
: mc a seat in your cabinet one month ago, although 
: as 1 Bhould have been with such a distinguished token of your 
,-,], I would have declined it without a moment's hesita- 
nt of an imperative and overruling sense of public duty 
vail upon mc to pass another four years of my life in the labo- 
ble position which I formerly occupied. Within the past 
rover, BO many urgent appeals have been made to me from quarters 
; to the highest respect, to accept the State Department, if tendered, 
in act of public duty, in view of the present perplexed and 
og condition of our foreign relations, that in declining it, I should 
iced in an embarrassing position from which I have been happily 
I 1 iy your letter. 

., bilsl I Bay this in all sincerity, I cannot assent to the correctness of 
the general principle you have adopted, to proscribe in advance the members 
of all former cabinets ; nor do I concur with you in opinion, that either pub- 
nt or public expectation requires such a sweeping ostracism. I 
need scarcely, therefore, say that the impression which you have derived of 
aion in favor of this measure, from I know not whom, is without 
foundat. ::. I should be most unjust towards my able, enlightened and patri- 
iteain the cabinet of Mr. Polk, could I have entertained such an 
far from it that, were I the President elect, I should deem it almost 
usable to avail myself of the sound wisdom and experienced judgment 
of one or more members of that cabinet, to assist me in conducting the vast 
and complicated machinery of the Federal Government. Neither should I be 
diverted from this purpose by the senseless cry of " Old Fogyism" raised by 
V America." 

I • nk the members of Mr. Polk's cabinet should be placed upon the same 
with the mass of their fellow-citizens, and neither in a better nor a 
worse condition. I am not aware that any of them, unless it may be Gov- 
ernor Marcy, either expects or desires a cabinet appointment ; and certainly all 
iA' them will most cheerfully accord to you the perfect right of selecting the 
era of your own cabinet. Still, to be excluded from your consideration, 
ause they had happened to belong to Mr. Polk's cabinet, could not 
. gratifying to any of them. 

pply your own metaphor, "the launching of the incoming adminis- 

will, perhaps, be a more important and responsible duty than has 

.".en to the lot of any of your predecessors. On the selection of the 

I i assist you in conducting the vessel of State, will mainly depend 

of tin- voyage. No matter how able or skilful the commander 

nt ihttery, I cheerfully accord to you both ability and skill, 

little without the aid of able and skilful subordinates. So 

• a I convinced of this truth, that I should not fear to predict the 

of your administration as soon as I shall learn who are the members of 

your cabinet In former times, when the Government was comparatively in 



LETTER TO PRESIDENT PIERCE. 71 

its infancy, the President himself could supervise and direct all the measures 
of any importance arising under our complex but most excellent system of 
government. Not so at present. This would no longer be possible, even if 
the day consisted of forty-eight instead of twenty-four hours. Hence, from 
absolute necessity, the members of your administration will exercise much 
independent power. Even in regard to those questions submitted more 
directly to yourself, from want of time to make minute examinations of all the 
facts, you must necessarily rely much upon the representations of the appro- 
priate Secretary. My strong and earnest advice to you, therefore, is not to 
constitute your cabinet with a view to harmonize the opposite and fleeting 
factions of the day ; but solely with the higher and nobler view of promoting 
the great interests of the country and securing the glory and lasting fame of 
your own administration. You occupy a proud and independent position, and 
enjoy a popularity which will render any able and honest Democrat popular 
who may be honored by your choice for a cabinet station, provided they are 
properly distributed over the Union. In this respect, you are placed in a more 
enviable position than almost any of your predecessors. It was a maxim of 
old Simon Snyder, the shrewd and popular Governor of our State, that the 
very best man ought to be selected for the office, and if not popular at the 
moment, he would soon render himself popular. In view of these important 
considerations, I would earnestly recommend to you the practice of General 
Washington, never finally to decide an important question until the moment 
which required its decision had nearly approached. 

I know that a state of suspense is annoying to the human mind; but it is 
better to submit to this annoyance for a season than to incur the risk of a 
more permanent and greater evil. 

You say that you will leave Concord " with purposes definitely formed and 
not likely to be changed." 

But is Concord the best locality in the world for acquiring reliable infor- 
mation and taking extended views of our whole great country ? To Boston I 
should never resort for this purpose. Pardon me for suggesting that you 
ought not to have your resolution definitely fixed until after your arrival in 
Washington. In that city, although you will find many interested and design- 
ing politicians, there are also pure, honest and disinterested Democratic 
patriots. 

Among this number is Colonel King, whom you so highly and justly com- 
mend. He is among the best, purest and most consistent public men I have 
ever known, and is also a sound judging and discreet counsellor. You might 
rely with implicit confidence upon his information, especially in regard to the 
Southern States, which I know are at the present moment tremblingly alive 
to the importance of your cabinet selections. I might cite the example of Mr. 
Polk. Although in council with General Jackson, he had early determined to 
offer me the State Department, yet no intimation of the kind was ever com- 
municated to me until a short time before his arrival in Washington, and then 
only in an indirect manner ; and in regard to all the other members of his 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN, 
uncommitted, until the time for making his selections 

o • J- • 1 1 1 F 1 1 ft 

I he had strong predilections in favor of individuals before he left 

not think I hazard much in saying, that had these been 
. uistration would not have occupied so high a place as it is 
[ to do in the history of his country. 

m I must not fail to express; and this is that the cabinet ought to 

that this is not merely an opinion of mine, but a strong 

,n. It is as clear to my mind as any mathematical demon- 

Without unity no cabinet can be successful. General Jackson, 

tUng as he was, did not discover this truth until compelled to dissolve 

Q et on account of its heterogeneous and discordant materials. I 

to Predict that whoever may be the President, if he disregards this 

i the formation of his cabinet, he will have committed a fatal mis- 

11c who attempts to conciliate opposing factions by placing ardent and 

. representatives of each in his cabinet, will discover that he has 

fused into these factions new vigor and power for mischief. Having 

• in view, distinct from the success and glory of the administra- 

v will be employed in strengthening the factions to which they 

belong and i:i creating unfortunate divisions in Congress and throughout the 

v. It was a regard to this vital principle of unity in the formation of 

: rendered Mr. Polk's administration so successful. We were 

and political friends, and worked together in harmony. However 

various our views might have been and often were upon any particular sub- 

ten entering the cabinet council, after mutual consultation and free dis- 

we never failed to agree at last, except on a very few questions, and 

on these the world never knew that we had differed. 

I have made these suggestions without a single selfish object. My purpose 

;ire gradually, if possible, and gracefully from any active participation 

in public affairs, and to devote my time to do historical justice to the adminis- 

of Mr. Polk, as well as to myself, before the tribunal of posterity. I 

A withstanding, a deep and intense interest in the lasting triumph of the 

good old cause of Democracy and in that of its chosen standard bearer, to 

e success I devoted myself with a hearty good will. 

The important domestic questions being now nearly all settled, the foreign 

the Government, and especially the question of Cuba, will occupy 

the most conspicuous place in your administration. I believe Cuba can be 

1 by cession upon honorable terms, and I should not desire to acquire 

■ other manner. The President who shall accomplish this object will 

bis name illustrious, and place it on the same level with that of his 

cessor, who gave Louisiana to the Union. The best means of 

; it, in my opinion, is to enlist the active agency of the foreign credi- 

who have a direct interest in its cession to the United States. 

lilds, the Barings, and other large capitalists now control, to a 

stent, the monarchies of continental Europe. Besides, Queen Christina, 



LETTER TO PRESIDENT PIERCE. 73 

who is very avaricious and exercises great influence over her daughter, 
the queen of Spain, and her court, has very large possessions in the island, 
the value of which would be greatly enhanced by its cession to the United 
States. Should you desire to acquire Cuba, the choice of suitable ministers 
to Spain, Naples, England and France will be very important. Mr. Fillmore 
committed a great outrage in publishing the Cuban correspondence, llad he, 
however, not suppressed a material portion of my instructions to Mr. Saunders, 
every candid man of all parties would have admitted, without hesitation, that 
under the thou existing circumstances it was the imperative duty of Mr. Polk 
to offer to make the purchase. Indeed, I think myself, it was too long delayed. 

In my opinion, Mr. Clayton and Mr. Webster have involved our relations 
with England in serious difficulties by departing from the Monroe doctrine 

In Pennsylvania we have all been amused at the successive detachments 
of those whom we call guerillas, which have visited Concord to assure you 
that serious divisions exist among the Democracy of our State. There never 
was anything more unfounded. The party is now more thoroughly united 
than it has ever been at any period within my recollection. Whilst the con- 
test continued between General Cass and myself, many honest Democrats, 
without a particle of personal or political hostility to me, preferred him and 
espoused his cause simply because he had been the defeated candidate. That 
feeling is at an end with the cause which gave it birth, and these honest 

Democrats as heartily despise the , the , the , the 

, the , the , etc., etc., as do my oldest and best friends. 

In truth the guerillas are now chiefs without followers. They are at 
present attempting to galvanize themselves at home through the expected 
influence of your administration. Their tools, who will nearly all be applicants 
for office, circulate the most favorable accounts from Concord. They were 
scarcely heard of previous to the October election, which was the battle of the 
23d December; but if we are to believe them, they achieved the victory of 

the 8th January. These are the men who defeated Judge at the 

election in October, 1851, by exciting Anti-Catholic prejudices against him, 
and who have always been disorganizers whenever their personal interests 
came in conflict with the success of the party. Thank Heaven, they are now 
altogether powerless, and will so remain unless your administration should 
impart to them renewed vigor. Their principal apprehension was that you 
might offer me a seat in your cabinet, but for some time past they have 
confidently boasted that their influence had already prevented this dreaded 
consummation. 

Their next assault will be upon my intimate friend, Judge , who 

will, I have no doubt, be strongly presented to you for a cabinet appointment. 
The Judge is able, honest and inflexibly firm, and did, to say the very least, as 
much as any individual in the State to secure our glorious triumph. I might 

speak in similar terms of . To defeat such men, they will lay hold of 

■, Mr. , or any other individual less obnoxious to them, and make 

a merit of pressing him for a cabinet appointment from Pennsylvania. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

lv up on the influence of General Cass, who, strangely 
, - lc: , although their advocacy rendered > ^possible 
t ever be nominated or elected by the vote of the State. 

tizen, I shall take the liberty of recommending to you by 

,,,-oper time, those whom I consider the best qualified candidates 

rerent offices within our State, and you will pay such attention to my 

as you may think they deserve. I wouM not, if I could, 

honest friends of General Cass from a fair participation 

,. and always have been good Democrats, and are now my warm 

But I shall ever protest against the appointment of any of the 

,.;,cs who, professing Democracy, defeated Judge — — , and not 

• with advocating General Cass in preference to myself, which they 

t right to do, have spent their time and their money in abusing 

Dal character most foully and falsely. 

, the editor of the , whose paper was almost exclu- 
sively devoted to the propagation of these slanders, to be circulated under the 

frank of Senator throughout the South, for they had no influence 

,., is a hopeful candidate for office, as they profess, under your adminis- 
tration. 

I have now, from a sense of duty, written you by far the longest letter 1 
ever wrote in my life, and have unburdened my mind of a ponderous load. I 
nothing more to add, except a request that you would present me kindly 
to Mrs. Tierce, and believe me to be always, most respectfully, 

Your friend, 

James Buchanan. 



[GENERAL PIERCE TO MR. BUCHANAN.] 

Concord, N. H., December 14, 1852. 
My Dear Sir: — 

Language fails me to express the sincere gratitude I feel for your kind and 

noble letter of the 11th inst. I cannot now reply as I ought, but lose no time 

: essing my deep sense of obligation. I ought, in justice to the citizens 

of Pennsylvania who have visited Concord during the summer and autumn, to 

Bay that I do not recollect a single individual who has ventured to make a 

Lion in relation to yourself, calculated in the slightest degree to weaken 

rsonal regard. 

Ear from my purpose to hasten to any conclusion in relation to my 

hardly possible that I can be more deeply impressed than I now am 

ance of the manner in which it shall be cast, both for the 

ts of the country and my own comfort. I cannot, however, view the 

■nee at Washington in the same light with yourself, 

; having no object but the best interests of our party and the country; 



LETTERS TO MR. BUCHANAN. 75 

personal inclination and convenience will, if I know it, have no weight upon 
my course in any particular. 

I must leave for a future time many things I desire to say. Do you still 
anticipate passing a portion of the winter at the South ? 

With sincere regard, your friend, 

Frank Pierce. 

[MARCY TO BUCnANAN'.] 

Washington, March 5, 1853. 
My Dear Sir: — 

If not a matter of strict duty, I choose to regard it as a proper thing to 
explain my movements to you. A few days after the late Presidential election, 
I went south with my son Edmund, about whose condition as to health I had 
become alarmed, and am still very solicitous. In the first week of February, 
he took a steamer for some of the West India Islands, and I concluded it to be 
my duty to return to my deserted family at Albany. I arrived at Richmond, 
Virginia, about the 20th of February, with a disposition to pass on to the North 
without going through Washington. As I had never done anything at that 
place for which I ought to be ashamed (or rather I thought I had not), it 
appeared to me it would be cowardly to run around or through it. I was 
very much inclined to go and perchance to stop there a few days. The 
doubts which distracted me in regard to my course were almost entirely 
removed by a letter from a person whom I had never seen, suggesting that it 
might be well for me to be in Washington about the 20th ult. On my appear- 
ance there a rumor suddenly arose that I was certainly to be one of the new 
cabinet, and the same liberty was taken with the names of several other per- 
sons. I have heard in an unauthentic way that you had been wise enough 
to take precautions against such a use of your name. It is now generally 
believed here, and I believe it myself, that I may be in the cabinet of the 
incoming administration, and (to confess all) I have been weak enough to 
make up my mind to accept a seat if offered one in it. Should it be the 
place you filled with so much ability, I may be rash enough not to decline it. 
I have told you all ; here I am and here I am likely to be, for a brief period at 
least. 

I do not think you will approve of what I have done. I hope you will 
not severely censure me, or the judgment which will put me where I expect 
to be. If it is an error, cither on my part or that of another, there are some 
circumstances to excuse it, but I have not time to present them in detail. 

I hope to have a frank and free intercourse with you. I will go further, I 
hope to have — what I know I shall much need— the aid in some emergencies 
of your greater experience and better knowledge. It will give me sincere 
pleasure to hear from you. 

Yours truly, 

W. L. Marcy. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

On the 30tb of March (1853), the President wrote to Mr. 

Buchanan and requested him to accept the mission to England. 

In hie ivp lv, Mr. Buchanan postponed a final answer, and what 

1 appears from the following detailed account, which 

remains in his hand-writing. 

ngb gratified with this offer, I felt great reluctance in accepting it. 

consulted several friends, in whose judgment I have confidence, they 

me to accept it, with a single exception (James L. Keynolds). I left 

for Washington on Thursday, 7th April, wholly undecided as to my 

On Friday morning (8th April) I called upon the President, who 

invited me to dine with him " en fainilh" that day. The only strangers at 

the table were Mr. John Slidell and Mr. O'Conor. After the dinner was 

over the President invited me up to the library, where we held the following 

conversation : 

I commenced by expressing to him my warm and grateful acknowledg- 
ments for the offer of this most important mission, and said I should feel 
under the same obligations to him whether it was accepted or 
i ; that at my age, and contented and happy as I was at home, I felt 
no disposition to change my position, and again to subject myself to the cere- 
monious etiquette and round of gaiety required from a minister at a foreign 
. 
Here the President interrupted me and said: '' If this had been my only 
purpose in sending you abroad, I should never have offered you the mission. 
You know very well that we have several important questions to settle with 
I .1, and it is my intention that you shall settle them all in London. The 

country expects and requires your services as minister to London. You have 
i competitor for this place, and when I presented your name to the 
. were unanimous. I think that under these circumstances I have 
;;sk you to accept the mission." 
this I replied that Mr. Polk was a wise man, and after deliberation he 
lined that all important questions with foreign nations should be 
Washington, under his own immediate supervision ; that he (Presi- 
dent Pierce) had not, perhaps, seriously considered the question. 

He promptly replied that he had seriously considered the question, and had 
I al the conclusion that better terms could be obtained in London at 
seat of power than through an intermediate agent in this country ; and 
• be Oregon negotiation as an example. 

ion I did not dissent, but asked : " What will Governor 

.. to your determination? You have appointed him Secretary of 

my entire approbation; and I do not think he would be willing to 

•to your minister at London the settlement of these important ques- 

■ : light reflect so much honor upon himself." 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. 77 

lie replied, with some .apparent feeling, that he himself would control this 
matter. 

I interposed and said : " I know that you do ; but I would not become the 
instrument of creating any unpleasant feelings between yourself and your 
Secretary of State by accepting the mission, even if I desired it, which is not 
the case." 

He replied that he did not believe this would be the case. When he had 
mentioned my name to the cabinet, although he did not say in express terms 
I should be entrusted with the settlement of these questions, yet from the 
general tone of his remarks they must have inferred that such was his inten- 
tion. He added, that after our interview he would address a note to Governor 
Marcy to call and see him, and after conversing with him on tho subject he 
would send for me. 

I then mentioned to him that there appeared to me to be another insur- 
mountable obstacle to my acceptance of the mission. I said : " In all your 
appointments for Pennsylvania, you have not yet selected a single individual 
for any office for which I recommended him. I have numerous other friends 
still behind who are applicants for foreign appointments ; and if I were now 
to accept the mission to London, they might with justice say that I had 
appropriated the lion's share to myself, and selfishly received it as an equiva- 
lent for their disappointment. I could not and would not place myself in this 
position." 

His answer was emphatic. He said : " I can assure you, if you accept the 
mission, Pennsylvania shall not receive one appointment more or less on that 
account. I shall consider yours as an appointment for the whole country ; and 
I will not say that Pennsylvania shall not have more in case of your accept- 
ance than if you should decline the mission." I asked him if he was willing 
I should mention this conversation publicly. He said he would rather not ; 
but that I might give the strongest assurances to my friends that such would 
be his course in regard to Pennsylvania appointments. 

We then had a conversation respecting the individual appointments already 
made in Pennsylvania, which I shall not write. He told me emphatically, 
that when he appointed Mr. Brown collector, he believed him to be my friend, 
and had received assurances to that effect ; although he knew that I greatly 
preferred Governor Porter. He also had been assured that Wynkoop was 
my friend, and asked if I had not recommended him ; and seemed much sur- 
prised when I informed him of the course he had pursued. 

I then stated, that if I should accept the mission, I could not consent to 
banish myself from my country for more than two years. He replied, that at 
the end of two years I might write to him for leave to return home, and it 
should be granted ; adding, that if I should settle our important questions with 
England at an earlier period, I might return at the end of eighteen months, 
should I desire it. 

The interview ended, and I heard nothing from the President on Friday 
evening, Saturday or Sunday, or until Monday morning. In the mean time, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

..ion, with particular friends, and especially with Mr. 

. , sta yed), Judge Campbell and Senator Bright all of 

; me to accept the mission. The latter informed me that if I did 

many would attribute my refusal to a fear or an unwillingness to 

. the important and dangerous questions pending between the 

I i Great Britain. 

f morning, April 10th, the Washington Union was brought to 

m which it appeared that the session of the Senate would 

termii next day at one o'clock, the President having informed the 

; tee to wait upon him, that he had no further communications to make 

. . At this I was gratified. I presumed that the President, after 

consulted Governor Marcy, had concluded not to transfer the negotia- 

lon ; because it had never occurred to me that I was to go abroad 

h an important mission without the confirmation of the Senate. Mr. 

Walker and myself had some conversation on the subject, and we agreed that 

age the Senate had been kept so long together without submitting 

to them the important foreign appointments ; as we both knew that in 

I ■ pecially in England, since the rejection of Mr. Van Buren's 

appointment, a minister had not the proper prestige without the approbation 

co-ordinate branch of the Executive power. 

On Sunday morning, before dinner-time, I called to see Jefferson Davis.* 

I much conversation on many subjects. Among other things, I told 

him it was strange that the foreign appointments had not been agreed upon 

and submitted to the Senate before their adjournment. He replied that he 

did not see that this could make any difference ; they might be made with 

more deliberation during the recess. I said a man was considered but half a 

er, who went abroad upon the President's appointment alone, without 

nsent of the Senate, ever since the rejection of Mr. Van Buren. He 

Baid he now saw this plainly; and asked why Marcy had not informed them 

of it.— they trusted to him in all such matters. The conversation then turned 

upon other subjects ; but this interview with Mr. Davis, sought for the purpose 

of benefiting my friend, John Slidell, who was then a candidate for the Senate, 

has dun i the cause why I was nominated and confirmed as minister 

'and on the next day. 

On Sunday evening a friend informed Mr. Walker and myself that a 

private message had been sent to the Senators still in town, requesting them 

li ave by the cars on Monday morning, as the President had important 

- to submit to them. This was undoubtedly the origin of the rumor 

al the time so extensively prevailed, that the cabinet was about to be 

her appointed. 

irning, at ten o'clock, I received a note from Mr. Cushing,t 

.■ " the President would be glad to see me at once." I 

to the White House; and the President and myself 

• ilr. Davis was Secretary of War. t Attorney General. 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. 79 

agreed, referring to our former conversation, though not repeating it in detail, 
that he should send my name to the Senate. If a quorum were present, and 
I should be confirmed, I would go to England ; if not, the matter was to bo 
considered as ended. Thirty-three members were present, and I was con- 
firmed. On this second occasion, our brief conversation was of the same 
character, so far as it proceeded, with that at our first interview. lie kindly 
consented that I should select my own Secretary of Legation ; and -without a 
moment's hesitation, I chose John Applcton, of Maine, who accepted the offer 
which I was authorized to make, and was appointed. I left Washington on 
Tuesday morning, April 12th. 

At our last interview, I informed the President that I would soon again 
return to "Washington to prepare myself for the performance of my important 
duties, because this could only be satisfactorily done in the State Department. 
He said he wished to be more at leisure on my return, that he might con- 
verse with me freely on the questions involved in my mission ; he thought 
that in about ten days the great pressure for office would relax, and he would 
address me a note inviting me to come. 

I left Washington perfectly satisfied, and resolved to use my best efforts to 
accomplish the objects of my mission. The time fixed upon for leaving the 
country was the 20th of June, so that I might relieve Mr. Ingersoll on the 
1st of Jul}-. 

I had given James Keenan of Greensburg a strong recommendation for 
appointment as consul to Glasgow. As soon as he learned my appointment 
as minister to England, he wrote to me on the 14th of April, stating that the 
annunciation of my acceptance of this mission had created a belief among my 
friends there that no Pennsylvanian could now be appointed to any consulship. 

On the 16th of April, I wrote to him and assured him, in the language of 
the President, that my appointment to the English mission would not cause 
one appointment more or one appointment less to be given to Pennsylvania 
than if I had declined the mission. 

In answer, I received a letter from him, dated April 21st, in which he 
extracts from a letter from Mr. Drum, then in Washington, to him, the follow- 
ing : " I have talked to the President earnestly on the subject (of his appoint- 
ment to Glasgow), but evidently without making much impression. He says 
that it will be impossible for him to bestow important consulships on Penn- 
sylvania who has a cabinet officer and the first and highest mission. Campbell 
talks in the same strain ; but says he will make it his business to get some- 
thing worthy of your acceptance." 

For some days before and after the receipt of this letter, I learned that dif- 
ferent members of the cabinet, when urged for consulates for Pennsylvanians, 
had declared to the applicants and their friends that they could not be ap- 
pointed on account of my appointment to London, and what the President had 
already done for the State. One notable instance of this kind occurred be- 
tween Colonel Forney and Mr. Cushing. Not having heard from the Presi- 
dent, according to his promise, I determined to go to Washington for the 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

purpose Of having an explanation with him and preparing myself for my 
. Accordingly, I left home on Tuesday, May l,th, and arrived m 
, ednesday morning, May 18th, remaining there until Tues- 
. v . 31st, on which day I returned home. 

;V morning, May 19th, I met the President, by appointment, at 
lUg h he did not make a very clear explanation of his conver- 
mth Mr. Drum, yet I left him satisfied that he would perform his 
a in regard to Pennsylvania appointments. I had not been in Wash- 
; . . before I clearly discovered that the President and cabinet 
his renomination and re-election. This I concluded from 
Qcy of affairs, as well as from special communications to that 
m friends whom I shall not name. It was easy to perceive that the 
I in appointments was to raise up a Pierce party, wholly distinct from 
mer Buchanan, Cass, and Douglas parties; and I readily perceived, 
what I had before conjectured, the reason why my recommendations had 
i f so little avail. I thought I also discovered considerable jealousy of 
I , Marcy, who will probably cherish until the day of his death the 

is desire to become President. I was convinced of this jealousy at a 
dinner given Mr. Ilolrnes, formerly of South Carolina, now of California, at 
B Eotel on Saturday, May 21st. Among the guests were Governor 

■ son Davis, Mr. Dobbin, and Mr. Cushing. The company soon 
got into high good humor. In the course of the evening Mr. Davis began to 
th Governor Marcy and myself on the subject of the next Presidency, 
■ Governor appeared to relish the subject. After considerable baga- 
telle, I said I would make a speech. All wanted to hear my speech. I ad- 
i Governor Marcy and said : " You and I ought to consider ourselves 
out of the list of candidates. We are both growing old, and it is a melancholy 
'.e to see old men struggling in the political arena for the honors and 
offices of this world, as though it were to be their everlasting abode. Should 
you perform your duties as Secretary of State to the satisfaction of the country 
during the present Presidential term, and should I perform my duties in the 
same manner as minister to England, we ought both to be content to retire 
...• th" field to younger men. President Pierce is a young man, and 
should his administration prove to be advantageous to the country and honor- 
able to himself, as I trust it will, there is no good reason why he should not 
je renominated and re-elected for a second term." The Governor, to do him 
appeared to take these remarks kindly and in good part, and said he 
They were evidently very gratifying to Messrs. Davis, Dobbin, 
d Cushing. Besides, they expressed the real sentiments of my heart, 
was ended, Messrs. Davis and Dobbin took my right and 
icted me to my lodgings, expressing warm approbation of 
I had said to Governor Marcy. I heard of this speech several times 
lained at Washington; and the President once alluded to it with 
feci ii >n. It is curtain that Governor Marcy is no favorite. 
ind the State Department in a wretched condition. Everything had 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. 81 

been left by Mr. Webster topsy turvy ; and Mr. Everett was not Secretary 
long enough to have it put in proper order ; and whilst in that position he 
was constantly occupied with pressing and important business. Governor 
Marcy told me that he had not been able, since his appointment, to devote 
one single hour together to his proper official duties. His time had beon con- 
stantly taken up with office-seekers and cabinet councils. It is certain that 
during Mr. Polk's administration he had paid but little attention to our foreign 
affairs; and it is equally certain that he went into the Department without 
much knowledge of its appropriate duties. But he is a strong-minded and 
clear-headed man; and, although slow in his perceptions, is sound in his judg- 
ment. He may, and I trust will, succeed ; but yet he has much to learn. 

Soon after I arrived in Washington on this visit, I began seriously to doubt 
whether the President would eventually entrust to me the settlement of the 
important questions at London, according to his promise, without which I 
should not have consented to go abroad. I discovered that the customary and 
necessary notice in such cases had not been given to the British government, 
of the President's intention and desire to transfer the negotiations to London, 
and that I would go there with instructions and authority to settle all the 
questions between the two governments, and thus prepare them for the open- 
ing of these negotiations upon my arrival. 

After I had been in Washington some days, busily engaged in the State 
Department in preparing myself for the duties of my mission, Mr. Marcy 
showed me the project of a treaty which had nearly been completed by Mr. 
Everett and Mr. Crampton, the British minister, before Mr. Fillmore's term 
had expired, creating reciprocal free trade in certain enumerated articles, 
between the United States and the British North American provinces, with 
the exception of Newfoundland, and regulating the fisheries. Mr. Marcy 
appeared anxious to conclude this treaty, though he did not say so in terms. 
He said that Mr. Crampton urged its conclusion ; and he himself apprehended 
that if it were not concluded speedily, there would be great danger of col- 
lision between the two countries on the fishing grounds. I might have 
answered, but did not, that the treaty could not be ratified until after the 
meeting of the Senate in December; and that in the mean time it might be 
concluded at London in connection with the Central American questions. I 
did say that the great lever which would force the British government to 
do us justice in Central America was their anxious desire to obtain reciprocal 
free trade for their North American possessions, and thus preserve their alle- 
giance and ward off the danger of their annexation to the United States. 
My communications on the extent and character of my mission were with the 
President himself, and not with Governor Marcy ; and I was determined they 
should so remain. The President had informed me that he had, "as he prom- 
ised, conversed with the Governor, and found him entirely willing that I 
should have the settlement of the important questions at London. 

The circumstances to which I have referred appeared to me to be signifi- 
cant. I conversed with the President fully and freely on each of the three 

IL— 6 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

■ The reciprocal trade, the fisheries, and that of Central Amer- 
to convince him of the necessity of settling them all 
to be strongly impressed with my remarks, and said 
. rsed with a Senator then in Washington, (I presume Mr. 
did not mention the name,) who had informed him that he 
the Senate would have great difficulty in ratifying any treaty 
[ n0 | embrace all the subjects pending between us and England ; and 
reason there had been considerable opposition in the body 
n of the Claims Convention, though in itself unexceptionable, 
i ■ jidenl said nothing from which an inference could be fairly drawn 
. changed his mind as to the place where the negotiation should be 
and yet he did not speak in as strong and unequivocal terms on 
I mid have desired. Under all the circumstances, I left Wash- 
the :)lst of May, without accepting my commission, which had been 
i for me and was in the State Department. On the 5th of June I 
I ;i letter from Governor Marcy, dated on the first, requesting me to 
put on paper my exposition of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. In this he 
Baya nothing about my instructions on any of the questions between this 
country and England, nor does he intimate that he desires my opinion for any 
purpose. On the 7th of June I answered his letter. In the con- 
cluding portion of my letter, I took the occasion to say : " The truth is that 
our relations with England are in a critical condition. Throw all the questions 
i hotchpot, and I think they can all be settled amicably and hon- 
orably. The desire of Great Britain to establish free trade between the 
United States and her North American possessions, and by this means retain 
■ >ssessions in their allegiance, may be used as the powerful lever to 
abandon her pretensions in Central America; and yet it must be 
d that, in her history, she has never voluntarily abandoned any impor- 
tant commercial position on which she has once planted her foot. It cannot 
be her interest to go to war with us, and she must know that it is clearly her 
t to settle all the questions between us, and have a smooth sea here- 
after, [f the Central American question, which is the dangerous question, 
should not be settled, we shall probably have war with England before the 
-nt administration. Should she persist in her unjust and 
on the North American continent and the adjacent islands, 
this will be inevitable at some future day ; and although we are not very well 
prepared fur it at the present moment, it is not probable that we shall for 
years be in a better condition." 
I i say in this letter to Governor Marcy, that "bad as the treaty (the 
. and Bulwer treaty) is, the President cannot annul it. This would be 
is power, and the attempt would startle the whole world. In one 
■ employed to great advantage. The question of the Colony 
I -lands is the dangerous question. It affects the national 
. I . all the consideration I can give the subject, the establishment 
clear violation of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. Under 



TIIE MISSION TO LONDON. 83 

it we can insist upon the withdrawal of Great Britain from the Bay of 
Islands. Without it we could only interpose the Monroe doctrine against 
this colony, which has never yet been sanctioned by Congress, though as an 
individual citizen of the United States, I would fight for it to-morrow, so far 
as all North America is concerned, and would do my best to maintain it 
throughout South America." 

This letter of mine to Governor Marcy, up till the present moment, June 25, 
has elicited no response. It may be seen at length in this book. 

Having at length determined to ascertain what were the President's present 
intentions in regard to the character of my mission, I addressed him a letter, 
of which the following is a copy, on the 14th June. 

[TO HIS EXCELLENCY, FKANKLIN PIERCE.] 

(Private.) "Wheatland, near Lancaster, June 14, 1853. 

My Dear Sir : — 

I have this moment received yours of the 11th instant, and now enclose 
you Mr. Appleton's resignation. I cannot imagine how I neglected to do this 
before. It will be very difficult to supply his place. 

If you have changed your mind in regard to the place where our impor- 
tant negotiations with England shall be conducted, you would confer a great 
favor upon me by informing me of this immediately. I stated to you, in our 
first conversation on the subject, that Mr. Polk, after due deliberation, had 
determined that such negotiations should be conducted under his own eye at 
Washington; and it would not give me the slightest uneasiness to learn, 
that upon reconsideration, such had become your determination. I should, 
however, consider it a fatal policy to divide the questions. After a careful 
examination and study of all these questions, and their mutual bearings upon 
each other and upon the interest of the two countries, I am fully convinced 
that they can only be satisfactorily adjusted all together. Indeed, from what 
you said to me of your conversation with a Senator, and from what I have 
since learned, I believe it would be difficult to obtain the consent of two-thirds 
of the Senate to any partial treaty. The South, whether correctly or not, 
will probably be averse to a reciprocity treaty confined to the British North 
American possessions; and it would be easy for hostile demagogues to pro- 
claim, however unjustly, that the interests of the South had been bartered 
away for the fisheries. But the South might and probably would be recon- 
ciled to such a treaty, if it embraced a final and satisfactory adjustment of the 
questions in Central America. 

If you have changed your mind, and I can imagine many reasons for this, 
independently of the pressure of the British minister to secure that which is 
so highly prized by his government,— then, I would respectfully suggest that 
you might inform Mr. Crampton, you are ready and willing to negotiate upon 
the subject of the fisheries and reciprocal trade; but this in connection with 
our Central American difficulties ; — that you desire to put an end to all the 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

• and dangerous questions between the two governments, and 

most friendly relations hereafter ;-and that youwdl 

. ith the negotiation and bring it to as speedy a conclu- 

lV er he shall have received the necessary instructions. 

in regard to reciprocal trade and the fisheries might, m the 

scted, with a distinct understanding, however, that its final 

tponed until the Central American questions had been 

| event, as I informed you when at Washington, if you 

I shall be most cordially willing to go there as a private 

jndivid [ider you all the assistance in my power. I know as well as 

vould be vain for me to go to London to settle a question 

v distasteful to the British government, after they had obtained, at 

agton, that which they so ardently desire. 

.is actuated solely by a desire to serve your administration and 

aitry. I shall not be mortified, in the slightest degree, should you 

determine to settle all the questions in Washington. Whether [you do so] or 

iur administration shall not have a better friend in the country than 

nor one more ardently desirous of its success; and I can render it 

re essential service as a private citizen at home than as a minister to 

I. . Ion. 

With my kindest regards for Mrs. Pierce, and Mrs. Means, 

I remain, very respectfully, your friend, 

James Buchanan. 

p. s _I should esteem it a personal favor to hear from you as soon as 
may be convenient. 

From the important character of this letter and the earnest and reiterated 

: which I made for an early answer, I did not doubt but that I should 

• one, giving me definite information, with as little delay as possible. I 

waited in vain until the 23d June ; and having previously ascertained, through 

a friend, that my letter had been received by the President, I wrote him a 

second letter on that day, of which the following is a copy. 

[TO HIS EXCELLENCY, FRANKLIN PIERCE.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, June 23, 1853. 
Mv Dear Sir : — 

having yet been honored with an answer to my letter of the 14th 

1 infer from your silence, as well as from what I observe in the public 

journals, that you have finally changed your original purpose and determined 

: important negotiations with England shall be conducted under your 

■ Washington, and not in London. Anxious to relieve you from all 

the subject, I desire to express my cordial concurrence 

in such an arrangement, if it has been made ; and I do this without waiting 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. S5 

longer for your answer, as the day is now near at hand which was named 
for my departure from the country.* Many strong reasons, I have no doubt, 
exist, to render this change of purpose entirely proper and most beneficial for 
the public interest. I am not at all surprised at it, having suggested to you, 
when we conversed upon the subject, that Mr. Polk, who was an able and a 
wise man, had determined that our important negotiations with foreign powers, 
so far as this was possible, should bo conducted at Washington, by the Secre- 
tary of State, under his own immediate supervision. With such a change I 
shall be altogether satisfied, nay, personally gratified ; because it will produce 
a corresponding change in my determination to accept the English mission. 

I never had the vanity to imagine that there were not many Democratic 
statesmen in the country who could settle our pending questions with Eng- 
land quite as ably and successfully as myself; and it was, therefore, solely your 
own voluntary and powerful appeal to me to undertake the task which could 
have overcome my strong repugnance to go abroad. Indeed, when I stated 
to you how irksome it would be for me, at my period of life and with my 
taste for retirement, again for the second time to pass through the routine and 
submit to the etiquette necessary in representing my country at a foreign 
court, you kindly remarked that you were so well convinced of this that you 
would never have offered me the mission had it not been for your deliberate 
determination that the negotiations on the grave and important questions be- 
tween the two countries should be conducted by myself at London, under your 
instructions ; observing that, in your opinion, better terms could be obtained 
for our country at the fountain of power than through the intermediate 
channel of the British minister at Washington. 

At any time a foreign mission would be distasteful to me ; but peculiar 
reasons of a private and domestic character existed at the time I agreed to 
accept the British mission, and still exist, which could only have yielded to the 
striking view you presented of the high public duty which required me to 
undertake the settlement of these important questions. You will, therefore, 
be kind enough to permit me, in case your enlightened judgment has arrived 
at the conclusion that Washington, and not London, ought to be the seat of 
the negotiations, most respectfully to decline the mission. For this you have 
doubtless been prepared by my letter of the 14th instant. 

With my deep and grateful acknowledgments for the high honor you in- 
tended for me, and my ardent and sincere wishes for the success and glory of 
your administration and for your own individual health, prosperity and happi- 
ness, I remain, very respectfully, 

Your friend, 

James Buchanan. 

To this letter I received an answer on Tuesday evening, June 28th, of 
which the following is a copy : 

* 9th July. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

E 

[PRESIDENT PIERCE TO MR. BUCHANAN.] 

Washington, D. 0., June 26th, 1853. 

IB Sir.:— 
1 ma much surprised by the perusal of your letter of the 23d inst, 
, ,r.ng. I had seen no letter from you since that to which I 
d the 11th inst, and was mortified that through a mistake of my 
mno neglect of my private secretary, it had been misplaced from 
f the 17th, with one or two other letters, and had thus entirely 
ped my notice. The motives which led me to desire your acceptance of 
t„ England were fully stated, first, I think, in my note addressed 
Wheatland, and subsequently in our interview. The general views 
expressed by me at that interview as to the relative advantages 
Of conducting the negotiations here or at London has undergone no change. 
Still, the present condition of affairs with respect to the fisheries and the 
various questions connected therewith has seemed to demand that they be 
taken up where Mr. Crampton and Mr. Everett left them. Recent develop - 
have inspired the belief that the fisheries, the reciprocity question, etc. 
will leave no ground of concession which could be available in the settlement 
f the q in Central America. The threatening aspect of affairs on the 

coast in the provinces has of necessity called for several conversations between 
ampton and the Secretary of State, with a view to keep things quiet 
there, and, if practicable, to agree upon terms of a satisfactory adjustment. 
To suspend these negotiations at this moment, in the critical condition of our 
that quarter, might, I fear, prove embarrassing, if not hazardous, 
treaty can be, or had better be, concluded here, I am not prepared to 
I have no wish upon the subject except that the negotiations be con- 
; wherever they can be brought to the most speedy and advantageous 
ition. The great respect for your judgment, experience, high attain- 
ments and eminent abilities, which led me to tender to you the mission to 
i I, will induce me to commit to your hands all the pending questions 
two countries, unless the reasons for proceeding here with those 
to which I have referred, shall appear quite obvious. I need not say that 
declination at this time would be embarrassing to me, and for many 
a matt t to be deeply regretted. 
I thank you for your generous expressions, and assure you that your 
knowledges no feeling of personal kindness to which mine does 
not respond. If the tax be not too great, will you oblige me by visiting 
1 1 ■• ■ . i ? I trust a comparison of conclusions, with the facts 
may conduct to a result mutually satisfactory. 

"With the highest respect, your friend, 

Franklin Pierce. 



TIIE MISSION TO LONDON. 87 

[&1R. BUCHANAN TO PRESIDENT PIERCE.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Juuc 29th, 1853. 
Mr Dear Sir: — 

Your favor of the 2Gth inat. did not reach Lancaster until yesterday after- 
noon. I had thought it strange that you did not answer my letter of the 
14th instant ; but this accidental omission has been kindly and satisfactorily 
explained by your favor of the 26th. 

It is, perhaps, scarcely necessaiy for me to repeat my unchanged purpose 
to accept the English mission and go to London without delay, if it be still 
your determination to intrust me with the settlement of the reciprocity, the 
fishery and the Central American questions. I confess, however, that I do 
not perceive how it is now possible, employing your own language, " to sus- 
pend negotiations (in Washington) at this moment" on the reciprocity and 
fishery questions. I agree with you that it was quite natural that the negotia- 
tions " should be taken up at once, where Mr. Crampton and Mr. Everett left 
them." This could only have been prevented by an official communication to 
Mr. Crampton, upon offering to renew the negotiation, informing him of the 
fact that you had appointed me minister to London for the very purpose of 
settling these, as well as the Central American, questions. 

In regard to our Central American difficulties, I still entertain, after more 
mature reflection, the most decided opinions — I might even say convictions. 
Whilst these difficulties are all embarrassing, one of them is attended with 
extreme danger. I refer to the establishment by Great Britain of the Colony 
of the Bay of Islands. This wrong has been perpetrated, if I understand the 
question, in direct violation of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. Our national 
honor imperatively requires the removal of this colony. Its withdrawal 
ought to be a sine qua non in any negotiation on any subject with the British 
government. With what face could we ever hereafter present this question of 
violated faith and outraged national honor to the world against the British 
government, if whilst, flagrante delicto, the wrong unexplained and unre- 
dressed, we should incorporate the British North American provinces, by 
treat}-, into the American Union, so far as reciprocal free trade is concerned ? 
How could we, then, under any circumstances, make this a casus belli ? If a 
man has wronged and insulted me, and I take him iuto my family and bestow 
upon him the privileges of one of its members, without previous redress or 
explanation, it is then too late to turn round and make the original offence a 
serious cause for personal hostilities. It is the first step which costs ; and this 
ought to be taken with a clear view of all the consequences. If I were placed 
in your exalted and well merited station, my motto should be, " all the ques- 
tions or none." This is the best, nay, perhaps the only mode of satisfactorily 
adjusting our difficulties with that haughty, overreaching and imperious 
government. My sole object in agreeing to accept a mission, so distasteful to 
me in all other respects, was to try the experiment, under your instructions, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

• ■ I should receive from you a firm and enlightened support 

ufident belief we should have proved successful. It would 

[ate to transfer the negotiation to London; but you may 

" the questions shall be settled together in Washington. They 

ist as they were in Mr. Fillmore's time. Why, then, should 

bave received instructions in two of them, and not in the 

and written so much to yourself and Governor Marcy upon 

i dividing these questions, that I shall only add that, were I a 

] ild not in conscience vote for the ratification of any partial treaty 

condition of our relations with Great Britain. And here I 

i beg respectfully to make a suggestion which, if approved by you, might 

difficulties. Let Governor Marcy and Mr. Crampton arrange the 

and fishery questions as speedily as possible ; and then let me carry 

with me to London, to be executed there, provided I 

ice • 1 in adjusting the Central American questions according to your 

actions; but in no other event. In this manner the reciprocity question, 

as arranged by the Secretary of State, might still be used as the powerful lever 

to force a just settlement of the Central American questions. Indeed, in 

- your purpose in this respect to Mr. Crampton, Governor 

address him a note which would essentially assist me in the 

al American negotiation. As the reciprocity and fishery treaty would 

■ submitted to the Senate until December, this arrangement would be 

productive of no delay. 

• I ild cheerfully visit Washington, or go a thousand miles to serve you 

in any manner, but I doubt whether this would be good policy under existing 

ices. The public journals would at once announce that I had 

arrived in Washington to receive my commission and instructions, and depart 

Finding this not to be the case, they would presume that some 

iderstanding had occurred between you and myself, which prevented me 

going abroad. Is it not better to avoid such suspicions? If I should 

ad, ;i brief explanation can be made in the Union which will 

it, and the whole matter will be forgotten in a week. After all, 

however, till wish mo to go to Washington, please to have me 

I. because the mail is almost always two, and sometimes three days 

chiDg nic. 

jard to myself personally, if the expedient which I have suggested 

not be adopted, or something similar to it, then I should have no busi- 

importance to transact in London, and should, against all my tastes 

Q subject myself to the ceremonies, etiquette and round 

. lired from a minister at a foreign court. But this is not all. I 

v private and social duties towards an only brother, in very 

ilt!>, and numerous young relatives, some of whom are entirely 

and now at a critical period of life, without the self- 

n of having any important public duties to perform. So reluctant 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. 89 

was I, at the first, to undertake the task which, in your kindness, you had 
prescribed for me, that my mind was not finally made up, until a distinguished 
Senator bluntly informed me, that if L shrank from it, this would be attributed 
to a fear of grappling with the important and dangerous questions with Eng- 
land which had been assigned to me, both by the voice of the President and 
the country. 

I regret that I have not time, before the closing of the mail, to reduce my 
letter to any reasonable dimensions. 

From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

"Wednesday, July 6th, at about 6 o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. Mann, the 
son of the Assistant Secretary of State, arrives and presents me with a private 
letter from Governor Marcy dated on the day previous, and a sealed package 
which, upon opening, I found contained my commission and instructions as 
minister to Great Britain, without the slightest reference to the previous cor- 
respondence on the subject between the President and myself, and just a3 
though I had accepted, instead of having declined the mission, and was now 
on the wing for London ! He was to find me wherever I might be. He left 
about sunset or between that and dark. Vide Governor Marcy's letter, on 
page 30. 

Thursday morning, July 7, the following letter from the President came to 
hand, postmarked Washington, July 4th. 

[PIERCE TO BUCHANAN.] 

Washington, July 2, 1853. 
My Dear Sir : — 

Your letter of the 29th ultimo was received this morning, and I have care- 
fully considered its suggestions. The state of the questions now under dis- 
cussion between Mr. Crampton and Governor Marcy cannot with a proper 
regard for the public interest, be suspended. It is not to be disguised that 
the condition of things on the coast is extremely embarrassing, so much so as 
to be the source of daily solicitude. Nothing, it is to be feared, but the pros- 
pect of a speedy adjustment will prevent actual collision. Mr. Crampton has 
become so deeply impressed with the hazard of any ill-advised step on either 
side that he left this morning with the view of having a personal interview 
with Sir George Seymour. Thus, while I am not prepared to say that a 
treaty can be concluded here, or that it will prove desirable upon the whole 
that it should be, it is quite clear to my mind that the negotiations ought not 
to be broken off; and that, with a proper regard to our interests, the announce- 
ment cannot be made to Mr. Crampton that the final adjustment of the fishery 
question must await the settlement of the Central American questions. Be- 
lieving that the instructions now prepared would present my views in relation 
to the mission in the most satisfactory manner, they will be forwarded to you 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

tomorrow I need not repeat the deep regret your declination would occa- 
What explanation could be given for it, I am unable to 



; 



I am, with the highest respect, 

Truly your friend, 

Franklin Pierce. 



[bttohanan to pierce.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, July 7, 1853. 

\r. Sir: — 

2d inst., postmarked on the 4th, did not reach me until this 

morning at too late an hour to prepare and send an answer to Lancaster in 

r the southern mail. Young Mr. Mann arrived and left last evening, a 

tire-temps. Had your letter preceded him, this would have 

ne Bome labor, and, although a very placid man, some irritation. 

Although the opinions and purposes expressed in my letters of the 14th, 

2 Ith ultimo remain unchanged, yet so great is my personal desire to 

your wishes that I shall take the question under reconsideration for a 

I, I observe from the papers that you will be in Philadelphia, 

where I anticipate the pleasure of paying you my respects. Then, if not 

sooner, I shall give your letter a definite answer. 

I hope that in the meantime you may look out for some better man to take 
my place. You may rest assured I can manifest my warm friendship for 
your administration and for yourself far more effectively as a private citizen 
rania than as a public minister in London. 
From your friend, 

Very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 



[MARCY TO BUCHANAN.] 

853.) 



(Private.) "Washington, July 5, 1853. 



State Department 
i.) W. 

Mv Dj m: Sir: — 

i you would be again in Washington before you left for England, 

this is uncertain, I have concluded to send by the bearer, Mr. W. G. 

; ructions which have been prepared for you. I have pre- 

I them in this way lest they should not reach you in season if 

I I ieen pleased with an opportunity of submitting them to you, 

the benefit of any suggestions you might make thereon ; but I 

, as you will not probably be here before your departure on 

I e instructions have been carefully examined by the Presi- 

and made conformable to his views. Should there be other documents 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. 91 

than those now sent, which it would bo proper for you to take out, they 
will be forwarded to our despatch agent at New York, and by him handed 
to you. 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

W. L. Marcy. 

On Monday evening, July 11, 1853, I went to Philadelphia to meet the 
President, according to my appointment. I saw him on Tuesday afternoon 
at the head of the military procession, as it marched from Market Street down 
Sixth to Independence Ilall. lie was on the right of General Patterson, and 
being a good horseman, he appeared to much advantage on horseback. He 
recognized me, as he rode along, at the window of the second story of Lebo's 
Commercial Hotel. 

The reception of the President in Philadelphia was all that his best friends 
could have desired. Indeed, the Whigs seemed to vie with the Democrats in 
doing honor to the Chief Magistrate. Price Wetherell, the President of the 
Select Council, did his whole duty, though in a fussy manner, and was much 
gratified with the well-deserved compliments which he received. The dinner 
at McKibbins' was excellent and well conducted. We did not sit down to 
table until nearly nine o'clock. The mayor, Mr. Gilpin, presided. The Presi- 
dent sat on his right, and myself on his left. In the course of the entertain- 
ment he spoke to me, behind Mr. Gilpin, and strongly expressed the hope that 
I would accept the mission, to which I made a friendly, but indefinite answer. 
He then expressed a desire to see me when the dinner should be ended ; but 
it was kept up until nearly midnight, the President cordially participating in 
the hilarity of the scene. We then agreed to meet the next morning. 

After mature reflection, I had determined to reject the mission, if I found 
this could be done without danger of an open breach with the administration ; 
but if this could not be done, I was resolved to accept it, however disagree- 
able. The advice of Governor Porter, then at McKibbins', gave me confidence 
in the correctness of my own judgment. My position was awkward and 
embarrassing. There was danger that it might be said (indeed it had already 
been insinuated in several public journals), that I had selfishly thrown up the 
mission, because the fishery question had not been entrusted to me, although 
I knew that actual collision between the two countries on the fishery grounds 
might be the consequence of the transfer of the negotiation to London. Such 
a statement could only be rebutted by the publication of the correspondence 
between the President and myself; but as this was altogether private, such a 
publication could only be justified in a case of extreme necessity. 

Besides, I had no reason to believe that the President had taken from me 
the reciprocity and fishery questions with any deliberate purpose of doing 
me injury. On the contrary, I have but little doubt that this proceeded from 
his apprehension that the suspension of the negotiation might produce dan- 
gerous consequences on the fishing grounds. I might add that his instructions 
to me on the Central American questions were as full and ample as I could 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Is believe J, not without reason, that if I should decline the 
would be appointed; and this idea was very distasteful to 

Dg is the substance of the conversation between the President 

,', , dnesday morning, the 13th of July, partly at McKibbins', 

: .hi board the steamer which took us across to Camden. 

1 iy the proceedings at Independence Hall on Wednesday 

i immenced the conversation by the expression of his strong 
I old not decline the mission. I observed that the British gov- 
. imposed an absurd construction on the fishery question, and 
ie had suddenly sent a fleet there to enforce it, for the purpose, 
I, of obtaining from us the reciprocity treaty. Under these cir- 
3 I should have said to Great Britain : You shall have the treaty, 
you must consent at the same time to withdraw your protectorate from 
i Coast, and restore to Honduras the colony of the Bay of Islands. 
so might still be adopted at Washington, and that in this view 
all the negotiations had better be conducted there. Without answering these 
remarks specifically, the President, reiterating his request that I should accept 
in, spoke strongly of the danger of any delay, on our part, in the 
. talent of the fishery question, and said that Mr. Crampton, deeply 
i with this danger, had gone all the way to Halifax to see Admiral 
;our, for the purpose of averting this danger. I observed that it was far, 
far from my desire, in the present state of the negotiation, to have charge 
of the fishery negotiation at London ; but still insisted that it was best that 
1 ntral American questions should also be settled at Washington. To 
he expressed a decided aversion. He said that serious difficulties had 
:i, in the progress of the negotiations, on the reciprocity question, par- 
ticularly in regard to the reciprocal registry of the vessels of the two parties; 
and it was probable that within a short time the negotiation on all the ques- 
tions would be transferred to me at London, and that my declining the mission 
at this time would be very embarrassing to his administration, and could not 
atisfactorily explained. I replied that I thought it could. It might be 
1 in the Union that after my agreement to accept the mission, circum- 
stances had arisen rendering it necessary that the negotiations with which I 
10 be entrusted at London, should be conducted at Washington ; that I* 
If was fully convinced of this necessity; but that this change had pro- 
duced a corresponding change in my determination to accept a mission which 
I had always been reluctant to accept, and we had parted on the best and 
t :" Something like this, I thought, would be satisfactory. 
red that after such an explanation it would be difficult, if not 
a suitable person to undertake the mission. He had felt it 
lis duty to offer mo this important mission, and he thought it was my 
Ee -aid that if the Central American questions should 
in Loudon, entrusted to other hands than my own, both he and I 



THE MISSION TO LONDON. 93 

would be seriously blamed. He said, with much apparent feeling, that he felt 
reluctant to insist thus upon my acceptance of a mission so distasteful to me. 

Having fully ascertained, as I believed, that I could not decline the mission 
without giving him serious offence, and without danger of an open rupture 
with the administration, I said : " Reluctant as I am to accept the mission, if 
you think that my refusal to accept it would cause serious embarrassment to 
your administration, which I am anxious to support, I will waive my objec- 
tions and go to London." He instantly replied that he was rejoiced that I had 
come to this conclusion, and that we should both feel greatly the better for 
having done our respective duties. He added that I need not hurry my 
departure. I told him that although my instructions gave me all the powers 
I could desire on the Central American questions, yet they had not been 
accompanied by any of the papers and documents in the Department relating 
to these questions ; that these were indispensable, and without them I could 
not proceed. He expressed some surprise at this, and said he would write to 
Governor Marcy that very evening. I told Him he need not trouble himself 
to do this, as I should write to him myself immediately after my return 
home. 

This was on the river. I accompanied him to the cars, where I took leave 
of him, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Davis and Mr. Cushing, who all pressed me very 
much to go on with them to New York. 



[TO CITIZENS OF LANCASTER.] 

"Wheatland, near Lancaster, July 23, 1853. 
Gentlemen : — 

I have received your very kind invitation on behalf of my friends and 
neighbors, to partake of a public dinner before my departure for England. 

No event of my past life has afforded me greater satisfaction than this 
invitation, proceeding as it does, without distinction of party, from those who 
have known me the longest and known me the best. 

Born in a neighboring county, I cast my lot among you when little more 
than eighteen years of age, and have now enjoyed a happy home with you for 
more than forty-three years, except the intervals which I have passed in the 
public service. During this long period I have experienced more personal 
kindness, both from yourselves and from your fathers, than has, perhaps, 
ever been extended to any other man in Pennsylvania who has taken so 
active a part, as I have done, in the exciting political struggles which have so 
peculiarly marked this portion of our history. 

It was both my purpose and desire to pass the remainder of my days in 
kind and friendly social intercourse with the friends of my youth and of my 
riper years, when invited by the President of my choice, under circumstances 
which a sense of duty rendered irresistible, to accept the mission to London. 
This purpose is now postponed, not changed. It is my intention to carry 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

it into execution, should a kind Providence prolong my days and restore 

my native land. . 

ry not to be able to accept your invitation. Such are 

. that I can appoint no day for the dinner when I could, 

■ to attend. Besides, a farewell dinner is at best but a 

affair. Should I live to return, we shall then meet with joy, 

.;',! it then be your pleasure to offer me a welcome home dinner, 

1 .. accept it with all my heart. 

the confident hope that during my absence I shall live in your 
. a, as my friends in Lancaster County shall ever live in my 

.: memory. 
. ally wishing you and yours, under the blessing of Heaven, health, 

perity and happiness, I remain 

Your friend and fellow-citizen, 

James Buchanan. 

Here, in regard to this English mission and other matters, 
Mr. Buchanan's correspondence with his niece, Miss Lane, from 
February to August, 1853, will show how tender and how im- 
portant had now become their relations to each other. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Feb. 3, 1853. 
My Deab Harriet: — 

I have passed the time quietly at home since I left Philadelphia, toiling 
and day, to reduce the pile of letters which had accumulated during my 
absence. I have got nearly through and intend to pass some days in Harris- 
next week. I have literally no news to communicate to you. Miss 
and myself get along to a charm. She expects Miss Rebecca Parker 
bo-day, — the promise of Mr. Van Dyke. I hope she may come. 
I received a letter yesterday from Mr. Pleasanton, dated on the 31st ultimo, 
from which tin; following is an extract: 

amy wrote some two weeks ago to Miss Harriet asking her to come 

-ml some time with us. As she has not heard from her, she sup-, 

! ! Lane to be absent. Be good enough to mention this to her, and 

our united wish that she should spend the residue of the winter and the spring 

with us. There is much gaiety here now, though we do not partake of it 

We will contrive, however, that Miss Lane shall participate in it." 

. do as you please about visiting Washington. I hope you are enjoy- 

irselfin Philadelphia. Please to let me know where you have been, 

u have been doing, and what you propose to do. I trust you will 

re ol yi irself, and always act under the influence of high moral 

grateful sense of your responsibility to your Creator. 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH HIS NIECE. 95 

[from miss lane.] 

riiiLADELrnu, Feb. G, 1853. 
My Dear Uncle: — 

I still continue to enjoy myself here, and have made many more acquain- 
tances than I have ever had the opportunity of doing before. Lent com- 
mencing this week may in some degree affect the pleasures of society, but of 
that, as yet, we cannot judge. As regards Washington, I understand per- 
fectly that, as far as you yourself are concerned, you wish me to do as I feel 
inclined, but your disinterested opinions arc rather for a postponement of my 
visit ; these I had quietly resolved to act upon. Should you have changed 
your mind or have any advice to give, let me know it at once, for rest assured 
I am always happier and better satisfied with myself when my actions are 
fully sanctioned by your wishes. 

The day after you left we had an elegant dinner at Mrs. Gilpin's— many, 

many were the regrets that you were not present. Mr. treated me 

with marked attention — drank wine with me first at table — talked a great 
deal of you, and thinks you treated him shabbily last summer by passing so 
near without stopping to see him. I tell you these things, as I think they 

show a desire on his part to meet you. was there, very quiet. How 

I longed for you to eclipse them all, and be, as you always are, the life and 
soul of the dinner. Thursday Mrs. John Cadwallader's magnificent ball came 
off. I enjoyed it exceedingly, and was treated most kindly. James Henry 
received an invitation to it, but did not go. He has returned to Princeton 
full of studious resolves. 

I found my engagements such as to make it impossible for me to go to 
Mrs. Tyler's last week. I arranged everything satisfactorily to all parties, and 
go there to stay to-morrow (Monday). Every possible kindness has been 
shown me by Mr. and Mrs. Plitt, and my visit to them has been delightful. 

Mary Anderson remained here but a week on her return from Washington. 
I passed a day with them very pleasantly 

No news from Mary yet. I miss her every hour in the day, but will 
scarcely be able to count my loss, until I get home where I have always been 
accustomed to see her. I had a letter from Lizzie Porter telling me of her 
aunt's death. My best love to Miss Hetty. Mrs. Plitt sends her love. Hoping 
to hear from you very soon, believe me ever, my dear uncle, 

Your sincerely affectionate 

Harriet. 

[to miss lane.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, March 15, 1853. 
Mr Dear Harriet: — 

I received yours of the 11th, postmarked the 14th, last night. I now 
receive about fifty letters per day ; last Saturday sixty-nine ; and the cry is 
still they come, so that I must be brief. I labor day and night 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Y ' Will you accept the mission to England ? I answer that it has 

and 1 have not the least reason to believe, from any autken- 

: it will be offered. Indeed, I am almost certain that it will not, 

surely General Pierce would not nominate me to the Senate without 

.', whether I would accept. Should the offer be made, I know 

1 might conclude. Personally, I have not the least desire to go 

>ad as a foreign minister. But "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." 

; know where to leave you, were I to accept a foreign mis- 

ind this would be one serious objection. 

I think you are wise in going to Mr. Macalester's. You know how much 

m and admire Mrs. Tyler, but still a long visit to a friend is often a 

Never make people twice glad. I have not seen Kate Reynolds 

her return, and have had no time to see any person. 

In remarking as I did upon your composition, I was far from intending to 

the idea that you should write your letters as you would a formal 

, Stiffness in a letter is intolerable. Its perfection is to write as you 

• srse. Still all this may be done with correctness. Your ideas are 

i sd, and the principal fault I found was in your not making distinct 

periods, or full stops, as the old schoolmasters used to say. Miss 's 

robably written with too much care,— too much precision. 
We have no news. We are jogging on in the old John Trot style, and get 
along in great peace and harmony. 

March 19, 1853. 

I return you Mr. 'a appeal, so that you may have it before you in 

preparing your answer. The whole matter is supremely ridiculous. I have 
no more reason to believe than I had when I last wrote, that I shall be offered 
the mission to England. Should his offer be made, it will be a matter of 
grave and serious consideration whether I shall accept or decline it. I have 
srmined this question. " Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." 
Should it be accepted, it will be on the express condition that I shall have 
to choose my own Secretary of Legation ; and from the specimen of 

bich Mr. has presented, I think I may venture to say he 

will not be the man. I would select some able, industrious, hard working 

:n whose integrity and prudence I could place entire reliance. In fact, 

I the man now in my eye, from a distant State, to whom I would make 

a gentleman trained by myself in the State Department. I must 

: man of business, and not a carpet knight, who would go abroad to cut 

say to Mr. that I know nothing of the intention of 

nt to offer me the English mission, and that you are equally 

I would accept or decline it (and this you may say with 

[do not know myself). If accepted, however, you presume that I 

out among my numerous friends for the best man for the 

Uncut ; and whatever your own wishes might be, you would not 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH HIS NIECE. 97 

venture to interfere in the matter ; that you took no part in such matters. 
This ought to be the substance of your letter, which you may smooth over 
with as many honeyed phrases as you please. 

I think that a visit to Europe, with me as minister, would spoil you out- 
right. Besides, it would consume your little independence. One grave objec- 
tion to my acceptance of the mission, for which I have no personal inclina- 
tion, would be your situation. I should dislike to leave you behind, in the 
care of any person I know. I think there is a decided improvement in your 
last, letter. Your great fault was that your sentences ran into each other 
without proper periods. 

Good night! I cannot say how many letters I have written to-day. 
Thank Heaven! to-morrow will be a day of rest. I do not now expect to 
visit Pittsburgh until after the first of April, though I have a pecuniary con- 
cern there of some importance. 

With my kindest regards to Miss Macalester and the family, I remain, etc. 

State Department, ) 
Washington, May 24, 1853. ) 

I have received your letter, and have not written until the present moment 
because I did not know what to write. It is now determined that I shall 
leave New York on Saturday, 9th July. I cannot fix the day I shall be at 
home, because I am determined not to leave this until posted up thoroughly 
on the duties of the mission. I hope, however, I may be with you in the 
early part of next week. I am hard at work. 

I went from Willard's to Mr. Pleasanton's last evening. Laura and 
Clemmie are well, and would, I have no doubt, send their love to you if they 
knew I was writing. I have seen but few of the fashionables, but have been 
overrun with visitors. 

Remember me kindly to Miss Hetty and to James/kand believe me to be, etc. 

New York, August 4, 1853. 
called to see me this morning, and was particularly amiable. 



He talked much of what his father had written and said to him respecting 
yourself, expressed a great desire to see you, and we talked much bagatelle 
about you. He intimated that his father had advised him to address you. I 
told him he would make a very rebellious nephew, and would be hard to 
manage. He asked where you would be this winter, and I told him that you 
would visit your relations in Virginia in the course of a month, and might 
probably come to London next spring or summer. He said he would certainly 
see you, and asked me for a letter of introduction to you, which I promised to 
give him. As he was leaving, he told me not to forget it, but give it to the 
proprietor of the Astor House before I left, and I promised to do so. I told 
him that you had appreciated his father's kindness to you, felt honored and 
gratified for his (the father's) attentions, and admired him very much. Ho 
II.— 7 






LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



knew all about your pleasant intercourse with his father in Philadelphia. 

other talk which I considered, and still consider, to be baga- 

ject was pursued by him. As I have a leisure moment, I 

ghl I would prepare you for an interview with him, in case you should 

is a man of rare abilities and great wit, and is quite eminent 

:. His political course has been eccentric, but he still main- 
e. I never saw him look so well as he did to-day. I repeat 
I ve all this to be bagatelle ; and yet it seemed to be mingled with a 

aire to see you. 

Saturday Morning, August 6. 

And now, my dear Harriet, I shall go aboard the Atlantic 

rning, with a firm determination to do my duty, and without any 

unpleasant apprehensions of the result. Eelying upon that gracious Being 

who has protected me all my life until the present moment, and has strewed 

i with blessings, I go abroad once more in the service of my country, 

with fair hopes of success. I shall drop you a line from Liverpool immediately 

:ny arrival. 

With my kindest regards to Miss Hetty, I remain, 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 



CHAPTER IV. 

1853— 1856. 

ARRIVAL IN LONDON — PRESENTATION TO THE QUEEN AT OSBORNE — 
THE MINISTRY OP LORD ABERDEEN — MR. MARCY's CIRCULAR ABOUT 
COURT COSTUMES, AND THE DRESS QUESTION AT THE ENGIISH 
COURT — LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 

THE reader has seen -with what reluctance and for what 
special purpose Mr. Buchanan accepted the mission to 
England. He left New York on the ts^of August, 1853, and 
landed at Liverpool on the 17th, whence he wrote immediately 
to his niece ; and I follow his first letter to her with four others, 
extending to the middle of October. 

[TO MISS LANE.] 

Adelpiii Hotel, Liverpool, August 17th, 1853. 
My Dear Harriet : — 

I arrived in Liverpool this morning, after a passage of about ten days and 
sixteen hours. I was sea-sick the whole voyage, but not nearly so badly as 
I had anticipated, or as I was in going to and returning from Russia. Captain 
James "West, of Philadelphia, the commander of the Atlantic, is one of the 
most accomplished and vigilant officers and one of the most kind and amiable 
men I have ever known. I never wish to cross the Atlantic in any but a 
vessel commanded by him. We did not see the sun rise or set during the 
whole voyage. The weather was either rainy or cloudy throughout, but 
many of the passengers were agreeable. Upon arriving here I found Mr. 
Lawrence, who came from London to receive me. It is my purpose to 
accompany him to London to-morrow, where I shall at first stay at the Clar- 
endon Hotel. I do not yet know whether I shall take, or rather whether I 
can obtain, Mr. IngersolTs house or not. I thought I would have to remain 
here some days to recruit; but I had scarcely got upon land before I felt 
perfectly well, and have enjoyed my dinner very much — the first meal for 
which I felt any appetite since I left New York. I shall write to you again 
as soon as I am settled at London, or probably sooner. 

Although I left Wheatland with regret and a heavy heart, yet I am 

LtfC. 



/> 



10 q LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

.and shall enter upon the performance of my duties, 
ing, in a determined and cheerful spirit. 
; v.. ur letter in New York. I had not supposed there was any 
. . . Lily's apprehensions. 

1st of calls and engagements, I have not time to write you a 
•;,•:•. Please to keep an eye on Eskridge and James Reynolds, as 

. -ed. 
my affectionate regard to Miss Hetty and Eskridge, and remember 
u.e to all my friends. In haste, I remain your affectionate uncle, etc. 

London, August 26th, 1853. 
I have received your letter written a few days after my departure from 
i ■: k. which is mislaid for the moment, and it afforded me great pleasure, 
le only letter which I have yet received from the United States. 
I was presented to the queen at Osborne, in the Isle of Wight, on Tuesday 
. the Earl of Clarendon, and delivered her my letter of credence. She 
• many personal charms, but is gracious and dignified in her manners, 
r character is without blemish. The interview was brief. Mr. Inger- 
BoD,* who accompanied me to take his leave, and myself lunched at »the pal- 
th Lord Clarendon and several of the attaches of royalty. His conduct 
is all I could have desired ; and Miss Wilcox is a very nice girl.t 
■•.ill pay a short visit to France and the continent, and return to the 
United States in October. 

You have lost nothing by not coming to England with me. Parliament 
led on last Saturday, and this was the signal for the nobility and gentry 
to go to their estates in the country. There they will remain until next Feb- 
ruary, and in the mean time London will be very dull. All gaiety in town is 
at an end, and has been transferred to the estates and country seats throughout 
kingdom. 

I have not yet procured a house, but hope to do so next week. I have just 

v 1/ill fin- (he first week at this hotel. I have two rooms and a cham- 

1 er, have had no company to dine and have dined at home but three days, 

te amount is £14 7s. 6d., equal to nearly $75.00. 

It is my desire to see you happily married, because, should I be called 

your situation would not be agreeable. Still you would have plenty. 

these are my sentiments, however, I desire that you shall exercise 

your own deliberate judgment in the choice of a husband. View steadily all the 

sequences, ask the guidance of Heaven, and make up your own mind, and 

1 !::i!l l-i- satisfied. A competent independence is a good thing, if it can be 

ied with proper affection ; though I should not care for fortune provided 

lan of your choice was in a thriving and profitable business and possessed 

• r character. I had not supposed there was any thing serious in 

• • ion ; certainly none of your relatives can interpose any just objec- 

• Ilia predecessor. t Niece of Mr. Ingersoll. 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 101 

(ion. Be, however, fully persuaded in your own mind, and act after due 
reflection ; and may God guide you 1 

It will require some time to reconcile me to this climate. We have 
none of the bright and glorious sun and the clear blue sky of the United 
States ; but neither have we the scorching heat, nor the mosquitos. I have 
slept comfortably under a blanket ever since I have been here, and almost 
every man you meet carries an umbrella. The winters, however, are not cold. 

Society is in a most artificial position. It is almost impossible for an 
untitled individual who does not occupy an official position to enter the 
charmed circle. The richest and most influential merchants and bankers are 
carefully excluded. It is true, as we learned, that the niece of a minister at 
the head of his establishment does not enjoy his rank. At a dinner party, for 
example, whilst he goes to the head of the table, she must remain at or near 
the foot Still, Miss Wilcox has made her way to much consideration, 
admiration and respect. 

The rage which seems to pervade the people of the United States for vis- 
iting Europe is wonderful. It takes up much time at the legation to issue 
passports. London, however, is but a stopping place. They generally rush 
to Paris and the continent ; and this, too, wisely, I have no doubt. I would 
not myself tarry at London longer than to see the sights. My promise to you 
shall be kept inviolate ; and yet I have no doubt a visit to Europe with an 
agreeable party would be far more instructive and satisfactory to you than to 
remain for any considerable length of time with me in London. I thank my 
stars that j t ou did not come with me, for you would have had a dreary time 
of it for the next six months. 

But the despatches are to be prepared and the despatch bag must close at 
five o'clock for the steamer of to-morrow. I have time to write no more, but 
to assure you that I am always your affectionate uncle, etc. 

September 15, 1853. 

On the day before yesterday I received your kind letter of the 28th August, 
with a letter from Mary, which I have already answered. How rejoiced I 
am that she is contented and happy in San Francisco ! I also received your 
favor of the 18th August in due time. I write to you this evening because I 
have important despatches to prepare for the Department to-morrow, to be 
sent by Saturday's steamer. 

How rejoiced I am that you did not come with me! Perceiving your 
anxiety, I was several times on the point of saying to you, come along; but 
you would see nearly as much fashionable society at Wheatland as you would 
see here until February or March next. You cannot conceive how dull it is, 
though personally I am content. The beau monde are all at their country- 
seats or on the continent, there to remain until the meeting of Parliament. 
But what is worse than all, I have not yet been able to procure a house in 
which I would consent to live. I have looked at a great many,— the houses 
of the nobility and gentry ; but the furniture in all of them is old, decayed 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

- 

i and with very few exceptions, they are very, very dirty. I can 

lis in no other manner than that they are not willing to rent 

: uriture is worn out, and that London is for them like a great 

, om about the first of March until the first of August. This 

. is the most fashionable in London, is not nearly equal to the first 

. adelphia and New York, and yet the cost of living in it, with 

and a chamber, is about $90 per week. The enormous expense 

be superior attractions [there] drive all the American travellers to 

ind the continent. The London Times has taken up the subject, and is 

dly comparing the superior cheapness and superior accommodations of 

I the United States with those of London. Here there are no 

holes, and the house may be full without your knowing who is in it. 

ik 1 have a treasure in the servant (Jackson) I brought with me from 
York. If he should only hold out, he is all I could desire. 
.Mr. Welsh surpasses my expectations as a man of business. Colonel 
Lawrence, the attache without pay, is industrious, gentlemanly, and has been 
highly useful. He knows everybody, and works as though he received 
$10,000 per annum. I venture to say I have as able and useful a legation as 
■ London. Lawrence has gone to Scotland, in company with Miss 
Chapman and her father, and I think he is much pleased with her. In truth, 
a nice girl and very handsome. The Chapmans will return imme- 
diately to the United States. 

The Marchioness of Wellesley is suffering from the dropsy, and she, with 

ter, Lady Stafford, remained a few days at this house. I saw a good 

' them whilst they were here, and they have been very kind to me. 

love to talk about America, and they yet appear to have genuine 

American hearts. Lady Wellesley lives at Hampton Court, — the old historic 

palace, about fifteen miles from London, erected by Cardinal Wolsey, and I 

am going there to dine with them and see the palace on Saturday 

] Duchess of Leeds is in Scotland. These three American girls have had 

a strange fate. Many of their sex have envied them, but I think without 

They are all childless, and would, I verily believe, have been more 

happy Lad they been united to independent gentlemen in their own country. 

It is impossible to conceive of a more elegant and accomplished lady than 

Wellesley, and although bowed down by disease, she still retains the 

relics of her former beauty. Her younger sister, Betsy Caton (Lady Stafford), 

elle of belles in her day in America, has become gross and does not 

otain a trace of her good looks, except a cheerful and animated countenance. 

vidently a fine woman, and very much a Catholic devotee. They are 

all widows, i e Duchess of Leeds. 

:. rank is everything in this country. My old friend of twenty years 

. the wife of the partner of the great House of , and 

i a nice little Yankee woman, who had never been at court, continually 

d >w about the duchess of this and the countess of that, and the 

I >rds an 1 ladies afford her a constant theme. Her daughter, and only 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 103 

child, who will be immensely rich, is the wife of , and this has given 

her a lift. She is still, however, the same good kind-hearted woman she was 
in the ancient time; but has grown very large. They are now at their 

country-seat at , her husband's business preventing her from going far 

away. I have now nearly finished my sheet. I have not yet had time to 
see any of the lions. God bless you ! Remember me kindly to Mrs. Hunter. 
I have written to Clemmie since I have been here. 

From your affectionate uncle, etc. 

September 30, 1853. 

I have a few minutes to spare before the despatch bag closes and I devote 
them to writing a line to you. I have received your very kind and accept- 
able letter of the 14th September from Charleston, and cordially thank you 
for the agreeable and interesting information which it contains. 

I have not yet obtained a house. It seems impossible to procure one, in 
every respect suitable for myself and the legation, for less than $3500 to 
$4500. The expense of living in this country exceeds even what I had anti- 
cipated I shall preserve my hotel bills as curiosities. 

I did not suppose that your name had reached thus far. I dined the other 
day at Hampton Court with Ladies Wellesley and Stafford. Mr. and Mrs. 
Woodville of Baltimore were present. Mrs. Woodville said she did not know 
you herself, but her youngest son was well acquainted with you and spoke of 
you in the highest terms. I found she had previously been saying pretty 
things of you to the two ladies 

I shrewdly suspect that Miss Chapman has made a conquest of Colonel 
Lawrence. He went off with her and her father on a visit to Scotland, and 
I shall not be much surprised if it should be a match, though I know nothing. 
The colonel is quite deaf which is very much against him. 

She is delighted with her travels, is very handsome, and has a great deal 
of vivacity Upon the whole I was much pleased with her. 

I am sorry I have not time to write you a longer letter. Remember me 
very kindly to our friends in Virginia. May G-od bless you ! 

Yours very affectionately, etc. 

October 14, 1853. 
I have received yours of the 28th ultimo. I did not think I would write 
to you by to-morrow's steamer, but have a few minutes left before the closing 
of the bag. I am sorry, truly sorry, that you look upon your trip to England 
as " the future realization of a beautiful dream." Like all other dreams you will 
be disappointed in the reality. I have never yet met an American gentleman or 
lady who, whatever they may profess, was pleased with London. They hurry 
off to Paris, as speedily as possible, unless they have business to detain them 
here. A proud American, who feels himself equal at home to the best, does 
not like to be shut out by an impassable barrier from the best or rather the 



l04 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

hi ./,. in this country. My official position will enable me to sur- 

mo \, rier, but I feel that it will only be officially Ne>tber my 

,;,, d ,. nor the public business entrusted to my charge will make 

; , people, and I shall never play toady to them.* It 

[ know very few of them as yet. They are all in the country, or on 

, nt, where they will continue until the opening of the spring. They 

ing and part of the summer in London, just reversing the order 

country. 

1 d A think well of your going to Philadelphia to learn French 

Clen Pleasanton writes me that they will do all they can to instruct 

aking that language. You will be far better with them than at a 
French boarding house in Philadelphia. 

1 .. Mr. and Mrs. Haines, Lily's friends, last evening. They left Paris 
about a week ago. She gave a glowing description of the delights of that 
city ; but said she would be almost tempted to commit suicide, should she be 
compelled to remain long in London. When you write to Lily please to give 
her my love. Remember me very kindly to Mr. Davenport and your rela- 
. and believe me ever to be, Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 

It was just twenty years since, on his return from St. Petersburg, 
Mr. Buchanan had passed a short time in England, and made 
the acquaintance of some of the public men of that period. 
This was in the latter part of the reign of King William IV. 
In 1S53, Queen Yictoria had been on the throne for sixteen 
years, and the reign was a very different one from that of her 
immediate predecessor. The cabinet was a coalition ministry, 
and was described by a sort of nick-name as the " Ministry of all 
the talents." It broke down rather disastrously and suddenly 
while Mr. Buchanan was in England, but on his arrival it 
seemed to have a long lease of power. Lord Aberdeen was the 
Premier ; Mr. Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer ; Lord 
Palmerston (out of his proper element), was at the head of the 
Home Department; Lord Clarendon was Foreign Secretary; 
tin- Duke of Newcastle was Secretary for the Colonies; Mr. 
Sidney Herbert, Secretary at War ; Lord John Russell was the 
ministerial leader of the House of Commons. The other 
members of the ministry were : Lord Cranworth, Lord Chan- 
cellor ; Earl Granville, President of the Council ; the Marquis 

* ThN anticipation was not realized. He became a great "favorite" in English society, 
Without any effort beyond the exercise of his social sifts, in a natural way. 



THE MINISTRY OF LORD ABERDEEN. 105 

of Lansdowne, without office ; the Duke of Argyle, Lord Privy 
Seal ; Sir James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty ; Sir 
Charles "Wood, President of the Board of Control ; Sir "William 
Molesworth, First Commissioner of Public Works. In point 
of personal ability and character, this was a strong ministry. 
It went to pieces in 1855, in consequence of its want of capacity 
to conduct a foreign war, for which neither Lord Aberdeen nor 
Mr. Gladstone had an y stomach, originally; for which the Duke 
of Newcastle, who had become Secretary at War, although an 
excellent man, had not the requisite force; and which should, in 
fact, have been under the guidance of Lord Palmerston, if there 
was to be a war with such a power as Russia, in conjunction 
with such an ally as Louis Napoleon. But when Mr. Buchanan 
came to London, the Crimean war was a good way in the dis- 
tance, and it seemed not improbable that he would have a clear 
field for the settlement of the questions which had brought him 
to England. 

It will strike the reader, however, oddly enough, after perus- 
ing the grave account which Mr. Buchanan has given of his 
reasons for accepting the mission, and the nature of the topics 
on which he was to negotiate, that while the conferences were 
going on between him and Lord Clarendon on the subjects 
which had brought him to London, he had to encounter a ques- 
tion of court etiquette. The story would hardly be worth 
repetition now, if it were not for the amusing finale of the 
whole affair. It may be introduced with a little preface. 

On the accession of Queen Victoria, at the early age of 
eighteen, the Duke of Wellington is said to have drily 
remarked, that the Tories would have little chance under a 
female sovereign, since he had no small-talk and Peel had no 
manners.* The Tories did not find it so in the sequel, for 
although, when the Whigs had to go out of power, in 1841, and the 
Queen had to part with her first official advisers, it cost her a 
rather severe personal struggle, — inasmuch as she is said to have 
written a very unconstitutional note to her old friend, Lord 
Melbourne, lamenting that " the sad, the too sad day has come 



* Mr. Justin McCarthy ia responsible for this anecdote. " History of our own Times." 
Vol. I. 






LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



;lt last"*— vet, so wise and faithful had been the political 
education which' that minister had given to his young sovereign, 
that at the very first necessity she gracefully yielded her per- 
- to her public duty, and made it certain that 
>rnment, independent of the will of Parliament, 
I -way forever from the public affairs of England. 
From that time' forward, it seems to have been the accepted 
doctrine of the British constitution, that the sovereign is not 
. a state pageant, but is a magistrate raised above the 
feelings or interests of party, with a function to perform in the 
. which comprehends the right to be consulted on every 
i( ii or measure, to offer advice, and to give a real as well 
as a formal assent, although bound at all times to receive as 
ers those who can command the confidence for the time 
being of the House of Commons. And well and wisely has the 
woman whose reign has now extended to the very unusual 
period of forty-six years fulfilled this function of a constitu- 
tional sovereign. But her Majesty has long had the reputation 
ot' being very rigid in matters of court etiquette and ceremonial. 
truth probably is, that at the commencement of her reign, 
the necessity for giving to the manners of the court a very 
different tone from that which had existed in the time of the 
king, her uncle, — a necessity which coincided with her 
as a lady, and her sense of what was becoming in her 
position, — had brought about a good deal that was regarded 
mgers, and by some of her own subjects, as an unneces- 
sary observance of punctilio. The officials of the court, whose 
duty i» was to attend to these matters, very likely carried them 
farther than the epieen's wishes or commands required. At all 
events, the sequel of Mr. Buchanan's little affair of what dress 
tuld wear at the queen's receptions, does not show that 
her Majesty attached quite so much importance to it as did her 
■ r of ceremonies. 
ernor Marry, our Secretary of State, was a man of great 
f intellect, and for all the important duties of his position 
:m uncommonly wise and able statesman. But his intercourse 
i the world, a^ide from American politics, had not been 

* This anecdote is given on private authority. 



THE MINISTRY OF LORD ABERDEEN. 107 

extensive. He had thought proper to issue a circular to the 
ministers of the United States in Europe, directing them to 
appear at the courts to which they were accredited, "in the 
simple dress of an American citizen." What this might be, in 
all cases, was not very clear. Our ministers at foreign courts 
had hitherto, on occasions of ceremony, worn a simple uniform, 
directed for them by the Department, which, whatever may 
have been its merits or its demerits as a costume, was sufficient 
to distinguish the wearer from " one of the upper court ser- 
vants." All this was now to be changed, and our ministers 
were to go to court in the dress of " an American citizen," 
unless it should appear that non-conformity with the customs 
of the country would materially impair the proper discharge of 
their duties. In Mr. Buchanan's case, " the simple dress of an 
American citizen " was an affair of very easy determination. 
He wore at all times the kind of dress in which his figure 
appears in the frontispiece of the present volume ; and his per- 
sonal dignity was quite sufficient to make that dress appropriate 
anywhere. Although he was a democrat of democrats, and 
cared little for show of any kind, he was accustomed to pay that 
deference to the usages of society which a gentleman is always 
anxious to observe, and to which no one knew better than he 
how to accommodate himself. He was the last man in the 
world to attach undue importance to trifles, and it may well be 
supposed he was annoyed, when he found rather suddenly that 
the circular of the Secretary was about to cause a serious diffi- 
culty in regard to his position at the British court. The first 
intimation he had of this difficulty is described in a despatch 
which he wrote to Mr. Marcy on the 2Sth of October. 

j^To. 13. Legation, etc., London, October 28, 1853. 

Sir:— 

I deem it proper, however distasteful the subject may be, both to you and 
myself, to relate to you a conversation which I had on Tuesday last with 
Major-General Sir Edward Oust, the master of ceremonies at this court, con- 
cerning my court costume. I met him at the Traveller's Club, and after an 
introduction, your circular on this subject became the topic of conversation. 
He expressed much opposition to my appearance at court "in the simple dress 
of an American citizen." I said that such was tbe wish of my own Govern- 
ment and I intended to conform to it, unless the queen herself would intimate 



IIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

that I should appear in costume. In that event, I should feel 
Q ply with her majesty's wishes. He said that her majesty 
to receive me at court in any dress I chose to put on ; but 
id no authority to speak for her, he yet did not doubt it would be 
. | e to her if I did not conform to the established usage. He said I 
il of course expect to be invited to court balls or court dinners where 
all appeared in costumes; that her majesty never invited the bishops to balls, 
seming it compatible with their character; but she invited them to con- 
q ,1 on these occasions, as a court dress was not required, I would also be 
He grew warm by talking, and said that, whilst the queen herself 
make no objections to my appearance at court in any dress I thought 
yet the people of England would consider it presumption. I became 
. hat indignant in my turn, and said that whilst I entertained the highest 
respect for her majesty, and desired to treat her with the deference which was 
eminently her due, yet it would not make the slightest difference to me, indi- 
vidually, whether I ever appeared at court. 

He stated that in this country an invitation from the queen was considered 
a command. 

I paid no attention to this remark, but observed that the rules of etiquette 
at the British court were more strict even than in Russia. Senator Douglas 
of the United States had just returned from St. Petersburg. When invited 
to visit the czar in costume, he informed Count Nesselrode that he could not 
thus appear. The count asked him in what dress he appeared before the 
President of the United States. Mr. Douglas answered in the dress he then 
wore. The count, after consulting the emperor, said that was sufficient, and 
in this plain dress he visited the emperor at the palace and on parade, and had 
most agreeable conversations with him on both occasions. 

Sir Edward then expressed his gratification at having thus met me acci- 
dentally, — said he had just come to town for that day and should leave the 
next morning, but would soon do himself the honor of calling upon me. 

Although he disclaimed speaking by the authority of the queen, yet it 
appeared both to myself and Colonel Lawrence, who was present, that they 
must have had some conversation in the court circle on the subject. I enter- 
tain this belief the more firmly, as Sir Edward has since talked to a member 
of this legation in the same strain. 

So then, from present appearances, it is probable I shall be placed socially 
in Coventry on this question of dress, because it is certain that should her 
.- not invite the American minister to her balls and dinners, he will not 
be invited to the balls and dinners of her courtiers. This will be to me, per- 
il matter of not the least importance, but it may deprive me of the 
opportunity of cultivating friendly and social relations with the ministers and 
Other courtiers which I might render available for the purpose of obtaining 
tanl information and promoting the success of my mission. 
I am exceedingly anxious to appear "at court in the simple dress of an 
• itizen ; " and this not only because it accords with my own taste, 



COURT COSTUMES. 109 

but because it is certain that if the minister to the court of St. James should 
appear in uniform, your circular will become a dead letter in regard to most, 
if not all, the other ministers and charges of our country in Europe. 

The difficulty in the present case is greatly enhanced by the fact that the 
sovereign is a lady, and the devotion of her subjects towards her partakes of 
a mingled feeling of loyalty and gallantry. Any conduct, therefore, on my 
part which would look like disrespect towards her personally could not fail 
to give great offence to the British people. Should it prove to be impossible 
for me to conform to the suggestions of the circular, in regard to dress " with- 
out detriment to the public interest," and " without impairing my usefulness 
to my country," then I shall certainly and cheerfully be guided by its earnest 
recommendation and " adopt the nearest approach to it compatible with the 
due performance of my public duties." This course I pursued from choice 
whilst minister in Russia, and this course I should have pursued here without 
any instructions. Yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

We next get some reference to the dress question in the 
following letter to Miss Lane : 

London, December 9, 1853. 
My Dear Harriet : — 

I received your favor of the 14th ultimo in due time, and thank you for 
the information it contained, all of which was interesting to me. 

In regard to your coming to London with Colonel Lawrence and his lady, 
should he be married in February next, I have this to say : Your passage at 
that season of the year would, unless by a happy accident, be stormy and 
disagreeable, though not dangerous. I have scarcely yet recovered from the 
effects of the voyage, and should you be as bad a sailor as myself, and have a 
rough passage, it might give your constitution a shock. The month of April 
would be a much more agreeable period to cross the Atlantic ; and you would 
still arrive here in time for the most fashionable and longer part of the fashion- 
able season. 

It is my duty to inform you that a general conviction prevails here, on the 
part of Lord Palmerston, the secretary of the interior, and the distinguished 
physicians, as well as among the intelligent people, that the cholera will be 
very bad in London and other parts of England during the latter part of the 
next summer and throughout the autumn. They are now making extensive 
preparations, and adopting extensive sanitary measures to render the mortality 
as small as possible. The London journals contain articles on the subject 
almost every day. Their reason for this conviction is, — that we have just had 
about as many cases of cholera during the past autumn, as there were during 
the autumn in a former year, preceding the season when it raged so exten- 
sively and violently. Now this question will be for your own consideration. 
I think it my duty to state the facts, and it "will be for you to decide whether 



llQ LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

tponc your visit until the end of the next autumn for this reason, 
! we shall see whether the gloomy anticipations here are likely 

. 

cipate difficulty about my costume; but should this occur, it will 
itinue throughout my mission. It is, therefore, no valid reason 
,ou should postpone your visit. In that event you must be prepared to 
, fate. So far as regards the consequences to myself, I do not care a 
; but it would mortify me very much to see you treated 
. from other ladies in your situation. 
If this costume affair should not prove an impediment, I feel that I shall 
, ry smoothly here. The fashionable world, with the exception of 
the hk'h officials, are all out of London, and will remain absent until the last 
. or beginning of March. I have recently been a good deal in the 
of those who are now here, and they all seem disposed to treat me 
very kindly, especially the ladies. Their hours annoy me very much. My 
invitations to dinner among them are all for a quarter before eight, which 
means about half-past that hour. There is no such thing as social visiting here 
of an evening. This is all done between two and six in the afternoon, if such 
may tie called social. I asked Lady Palmerston what was meant by the 
: rly " placed upon her card of invitation for an evening reception, and 
she informed me it was about ten o'clock. The habits, and customs, and busi- 
ness of the world here render these hours necessary. But how ridiculous it is 
in our country, where no such necessity exists, to violate the laws of nature 
in regard to hours, merely to follow the fashions of this country. 

Should you be at Mr. Ward's, I would thank you to present my kind love 
to Miss Ellen. I hope you will not forget the interests of Eskridge in that 
quarter. You inform me that Sallie Grier and Jennie Pleasanton were about 
to be married. I desire to be remembered with special kindness to Mrs. 
Jenkins. I can never forget " the auld lang syne " with her and her family. 
Give my love also to Kate Eeynolds. Remember me to Miss Hetty, or as 
you would say, Miss Ilettie, for whom I shall ever entertain a warm regard. 
this letter open to Eskridge, so that he may read it and send it to your 
From your affectionate uncle, 

James Buchanan. 



A.B the court was not in London at the time when this letter 

ritten, the portentous question of Mr. Buchanan's costume 

- aot likely to be brought to an immediate solution. But 

irly in February, (1854), Parliament was to be opened by the 

in pei ii. Mr. Buchanan did not attend the ceremony; 

d thereupon there was an outcry in the London press. The 

ing extract from a despatch to Mr. Marcy gives a full 

: '' lnit of the whole matter, up to the date: 



COURT COSTUMES. HI 

You will perceive by the London journals, the Times, the Morning Post, 
the News, the Morning Herald, the Spectator, the Examiner, Lloyd's, &c, &c., 
copies of which I send you, that my absence from the House of Lords, at the 
opening of Parliament, has produced quite a sensation. Indeed, I have found 
difficulty in preventing this incident from becoming a subject of inquiry and 
remark in the House of Commons. All this is peculiarly disagreeable to mo, 
and has arisen entirely from an indiscreet and rather offensive remark of the 
London Times, in the account which that journal published of the proceedings 
at the opening of Parliament. Put for this, the whole matter would probably 
have passed away quietly, as I had desired. 

Some time after my interview with Sir Edward Cust, the master of cere- 
monies, in October last (whom I have never since seen), which I reported to 
you in my despatch No. 13, of the 28th of October, I determined, after due 
reflection, neither to wear gold lace nor embroidery at court ; and I did not 
hesitate to express this determination. The spirit of your circular, as well as 
my own sense of propriety, brought me to this conclusion. I did not deem it 
becoming in me, as the representative of a Republic, to imitate a court 
costume, which may be altogether proper in the representatives of royalty. A 
minister of the United States should, in my opinion, wear something more in 
character with our Democratic institutions than a coat covered with embroidery 
and gold lace. Resides, after all, this would prove to be but a feeble attempt 
" to ape foreign fashions ; " because, most fortunately, he could not wear the 
orders and stars which ornament the coats of other diplomatists, nor could he, 
except in rare instances, afford the diamonds, unless hired for the occasion. 

At the same time, entertaining a most sincere respect for the exalted 
character of the queen, both as a sovereign and a lady, I expressed a desire 
to appear at court in such a dress as I might suppose would be most agreeable 
to herself, without departing from the spirit of the circular. 

It was then suggested to me, from a quarter which I do not feel at liberty 
to mention, that I might assume the civil dress worn by General Washington ; 
but after examining Stuart's portrait, at the house of a friend, I came to the 
conclusion that it would not be proper for me to adopt this costume. I 
observed, " fashions had so changed since the days of Washington, that if I 
were to put on his dress, and appear in it before the chief magistrate of my 
own country, at one of his receptious, I should render myself a subject of 
ridicule for life. Resides, it would be considered presumption in me to affect 
the style of dress of the Father of his Country." 

It was in this unsettled state of the question, and before I had adopted any 
style of dress, that Parliament was opened. If, however, the case had been 
different, and I had anticipated a serious question, prudential reasons would 
have prevented me from bringing it to issue at the door of the House of 
Lords. A court held at the palace would, for many reasons, be a much more 
appropriate place for such a purpose. 

Under these circumstances, I received, on the Sunday morning before the 
Tuesday on which Parliament met, a printed circular from Sir Edward Cust, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

. that which I have no doubt was addressed to all the other foreign 
:. to attend the opening of the session. The following is 
lar: "No one can be admitted into the Diplomatic 
Tribune, or in the body of the House, but in full court dress." 

v, iVom all the attending circumstances, I do not feel disposed to yield 

that any disrespect was intended by this circular, either to my 

; . myself. Since I came to London, I have received such atten- 

eBcial personages as to render this quite improbable. What 

inal result of the question I cannot clearly foresee, but I do not 

any serious difficulties. 

In the hitter part of February the queen held the first 
of the season. Mr. Buchanan had signified to the 
master of ceremonies that he should present himself at the 
queen's levee in the kind of dress that he always wore, with the 
addition of a plain dress sword. The result is given in the 
course of the following letters to his niece; and thus, through a 
happy expedient, assented to cheerfully by the queen, this Gor- 
dian knot was cut by a drawing-room rapier which never left 
its sheath. In fact, Mr. Buchanan had already become so much 
liked in the royal circle and in society generally, that the court 
officials could not longer refuse to let him have his own way 
about hi> reception at the levee, especially after he had dined 
at the palace in " frock-dress," an invitation which was doubt- 
yiven in good-humored compliance with his wishes, and 
to smooth the way into the more formal reception. 

[to miss lane.] 

London, February 18th, 1854. 
My Dk.vr Harriet: — 

According to my calculation, Captain West will leave New York for Liver- 

pool iii the Atlantic on Saturday, the 29th April; and it is my particular 

that you should come with him, under his special care, in preference to 

ther person. I shall send this letter open to Captain West, and if he 

should transmit it to you with a line stating that he will take charge of the 

lay then consider the matter settled. I shall meet you, God 

willing, in Liverpool. 

■ e no doubt that the lady whom you mention in yours of the 2d 

I be :tn agreeable companion, and should she come in the Atlan- 

time with yourself, it is all very well; but even in that event, 

I are that you should be under the special care of Captain West. He is a 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 113 

near relative of our old friend, Redmond Conyngham, and I have the most 
perfect confidence in him both as a gentleman and a sailor. lie stays at the 
Astor House when in New York, and you had better stop thero with your 
brother when about to embark. 

Had he been coming out two weeks earlier in April, I should have been 
better pleased ; but on no account would I have consented to your voyage 
until near the middle of that month. Yours affectionately, etc. 

London, February 21st, 185-1. 

I have received your letter of the 2d instant, and am truly rejoiced to learn 
that you have recovered your usual good health. I hopo you will take good 
care of yourself in Washington and not expose yourself to a relapse. 

I intended to write you a long letter to-day, but an unexpected pressure of 
business will prevent me from doing this before the despatch bag closes. I 
now write merely to inform you that I have made every arrangement for 
your passage with Captain West in the Atlantic, either on Saturday, the 15th, 
or Saturday, the 29th April. He does not at present know which, but he will 
inform you on his arrival in New York. He will leave Liverpool to-morrow. 
And let me assure you that this is the very best arrangement which could be 
made for you. You will be quite independent, and under the special charge 
of the captain. You will discover that you will thus enjoy many advantages. 
If you have friends or acquaintances coming out at the same time, this is all 
very well; bid let not this prevent you from putting yourself under the special 
cJiarge of Captain West; and you can say that this is my arrangement. I 
wish you to inform me whether you will leave New York on the 15th or 29th 
April, so that I may make arrangements accordingly. In either event I shall, 
God willing, meet you at Liverpool. I shall write to Eskridge by the next 
steamer, and direct him to provide for your passage. You will of course have 
no dresses made in the United States. I am not a very close observer, or an 
accurate judge, but I think the ladies here of the very highest rank do not 
dress as expensively, with the exception of jewels, as those in the United 
States. 

I dined on Wednesday last with the queen, at Buckingham Palace. Both 
she and Prince Albert were remarkably civil, and I had quite a conversation 
with each of them separately. But the question of costume still remains : 
and from this I anticipate nothing but trouble in several directions. I was 
invited " in frock-dress " to the dinner, and of course I had no difficulty. 
To-morrow will be the first levee of the queen, and my appearance there in a 
suit of plain clothes will, I have no doubt, produce quite a sensation, and 
become a subject of gossip for the whole court. 

I wish very much that I could obtain an autograph of General Washing- 
ton for the Countess of Clarendon. She has been very civil to me, and like 
our friend Laura is a collector of autographs. She is very anxious to obtain 
such an autograph, and I have promised to do my best to procure it for her. 
Perhaps Mr. Pleasanton could help me to one. 

II.— 8 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

f my heart is to see you comfortably and respectably set- 

• ardently as I desire this, you ought never to marry any per- 

m for wl om yon think vou would not have a proper degree of affection. 

". of your conquest, and I trust it may be of such a character 

ill produce good fruit. But I have time to say no more, except to request 

rou will give my love to Laura and Clemmie, and my kindest regards to 

tnton, and also to Mr. and Mrs. Slidell and Mr. and Mrs. Thomson, 

. gey. Ever yours affectionately, etc. 

London, February 24, 1854. 
Mr Peabody handed me at the dinner-table the enclosed, which he made 
so to send to you. Mr. Macalester had mentioned your name to 

Iress question, after much difficulty, has been finally and satisfactorily 
settled. I appeared at the levee on Wednesday last, in just such a dress as I 
have worn at the President's one hundred times. A black coat, white waist- 
coat and cravat and black pantaloons and dress boots, with the addition of a 
plain black-handled and black-hilted dress sword. This to gratify those 
who have yielded so much, and to distinguish me from the upper court ser- 
vants. I knew that I would be received in any dress I might wear ; but 
could not have anticipated that I should be received in so kind and distin- 
I a manner. Having yielded they did not do things by halves. As I 
■ached the queen, an arch but benevolent smile lit up her countenance ; — 
as much as to say, you are the first man who ever appeared before me at 
court in such a dress. I confess that I never felt more proud of being 
an American than when I stood in that brilliant circle, " in the simple 
S9 of an American citizen." I have no doubt the circular is popular with 
a majority of the people of England. Indeed, many of the most distinguished 
members of Parliament have never been at court, because they would not 
. :■ the prescribed costume. 

I find lying on the table before me a note from the Duchess of Somerset, 

which possibly Laura might be glad to have as an autograph. She pride3 

•If on being descended in a direct line from Robert the Third of Scotland. 

With my love to Laura and Clemmie, and my best regards to Mr. Pleasan- 

1 main, in haste, yours affectionately, etc. 

London, March 10, 1854. 

I have received yours of the 16th ultimo, from Philadelphia, and am 

I ' learn from yourself that your health has been entirely restored. 

.1 reasons I should have been glad you had gone to Washington at 

| id of the winter, as I desired, and I hope you went there, as you 

il i, the week after the date of your letter. 

have not mentioned the name of Miss Wilcox in any of your letters, 

i tins I presume you have not made her acquaintance. I regret this, 

bee was much esteemed among her acquaintances here, and many 



COURT COSTUME SETTLED. 115 

persons whom you will meet will make inquiries of you concerning her. Sho 
talked of you to me. 

I shall soon expect to learn from you whether you will leave New York 
with Captain West for Liverpool on the 15th or 29th April. God willing, I 
shall meet you at Liverpool. I should be very glad if Mrs. Commodore Perry 
would accompany you. I am well acquainted with her, and esteem her 
highly. Still, I repeat my desire, that in any event you should come with 
Captain "West on one of the two days designated. I have no news of any 
importance to communicate. I am getting along here smoothly and comfort- 
ably, determined to make the best of a situation not very agreeable to me. 
M} r health has absolutely required that I should decline many 7£ and 8 o'clock 
dinner invitations, and evening parties commencing at 10|- and 11 o'clock. 

I venture to predict that you will not be much pleased with London, and I 
desire that you should not be disappointed. You must not anticipate too 
much, except from seeing the sights. These are numerous and interesting, 
from their historical associations. I have been making inquiries concerning a 
maid for you. 

Please to remember me, in the kindest terms, to Mr. Pleasanton, and give 
my love to Laura and Clemmie. Ever yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 



In a despatch to Mr. Marey, written soon after his appearance 
at the Queen's levee, Mr. Buchanan said : " I have purposely 
avoided to mention the names of those with whom I have had 
interviews on this subject, lest it might expose them to cen- 
sorious remarks hereafter; but having mentioned that of Sir 
Edward Cnst, the master of ceremonies, in my despatch iYo. 13, 
of the 2Sth October last, it is but an act of simple justice to 
state, that at the court on "Wednesday last, his attentions to me 
were of the kindest and most marked character, and have placed 
me under many obligations. In the matter of the sword, I 
yielded without reluctance to the earnest suggestion of a high 
official character, who said that a sword, at all the courts of the 
world, was considered merely as the mark of a gentleman, and 
although he did not mention the queen's name, yet it was 
evident, from the whole conversation, that'this was desired as a 
token of respect for her Majesty. lie had, on a former occasion, 
expressed the hope that I would wear something indicating my 
official position, and not appear at court, to employ his ow r n 
language, in the dress I wore upon the street. I told him 
promptly that I should comply with his suggestion, and that in 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN, 
llu 

,;„., a Bword at court, as an evidence of the very high regard 

, ] fell lor her Majesty, I should do nothing inconsistent 

• th 0WI] character a, an American citizen, or that of my 

I might have added that as 'the simple dress oi an 

American citizen' is exactly that of the upper court servants, 

U was n.v purpose from the beginning to wear something which 

would distinguish me from them. At the first, I had thought 

United States buttons; but a plain dress sword has a more 

manly and less gaudy appearance. I hope I am now done with 

tlii- subject forever." 

- that, after all, it appears plainly enough that, so far as the 

herself Mas concerned, her Majesty's wish was only that 
the representative of the nation nearest in blood to her own, 

Q ld honor his country by paying to her a mark of respect, 
by a token that would indicate the official position in which he 

1 before her. As soon as Mr. Buchanan perceived this, he 
acted as became him, and from that time forward he was as 

a guest in the royal circle as any one who entered it. 

[from secretary marct.] 

I 

(Private and confidential.) Washington, January 3, 185G. 

My Deab Sir: — 

ive just finished a despatch in answer to Lord Clarendon's last on 
British recruitment in the United States. You will be startled at its length, 
1 consider it objectionable in that respect, but the peculiar character of 
• >ne to which it is a reply rendered a review of the whole subject unavoid- 
able. You are requested to read it to Lord Clarendon, but I presume he 
will do as I did when his was presented to me by Mr. Crampton — I moved 
to dispense with tin- reading, or rather had it read by the title, and received 
>py. 
I do nut mean to trouble you with any other comments upon it, but merely 
. that you will find that I have been very mindful of your kind sug- 
Thc suaviter in modo has really very much impaired the fortiter in 
re. The manner I am quite sure will please Lord Clarendon, but I presume 
matter will not, I really believe he does not know how offensively Brit- 
ve behaved in this recruiting business; but he had the means of 
wing all about it, and when it was made a grave matter of complaint it 
been investigated. After the issues of fact and of law made in 
t'usal on the part of Great Britain to do anything which 
rded as a satisfaction, it was not possible to avoid the recall of 
Mr. Crampton 



DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE. 11? 

You will see by the papers here that the debate in the Senate on the Cen- 
tral American question has opened finely. I do not think that advocates even 
among any of the factions can be found who will attempt to justify the con- 
duct of the British ministry in that affair. 

The correspondence on the subject appears in the " Tfie Union " of this 
morning and you will receive it as soon as you will this letter. We shall all 
be very anxious to learn how it has been received by the British government 
and people. 

The people of the United States are not in a very good humor towards the 
British government at this time, yet there is great calmness in the public 
mind, which indicates a settled purpose to stand for their rights. 

The strengthening the British fleet in this quarter was regarded as a harm- 
less menace. Our people rather admired the folly of the measure than in- 
dulged any angry feelings on account of it. The comments of the British 
press and the miserable pretexts got up as an excuse for that blunder have 
provoked some resentment, which the course of the British cabinet in regard 
to the Central American questions and recruiting in the United States will 
not abate. 

We are willing — more— anxious to be on friendly terms with our " trans- 
atlantic cousins," but they must recollect that we do not believe in the doc- 
trine of primogeniture. The younger branch of the family has equal right3 
with the elder. 

I am unable to say to you one word in regard to your successor. Who he 
will be and when he will be sent out, I think no living man now knows. 

Yours truly, 

W. L. Marcy. 

[TO MR. MARCY.] 

(Private.) Legation of the United States, ) 

London, January 11, 1856. ) 
My Dear Sir: — 

I have received your favor of the 23d ultimo, and am greatly disappointed 
neither to have received the message nor any inkling of what it contains. 
Long expectation has blunted the edge of curiosity here, and it will not make 
the impression it would have done four weeks ago. 

I shall expect your answer to Lord C. with much interest, and shall do all 
in my power to give it its proper effect with his lordship. For my own part, 
I should have been inclined to cut the Gordian knot as soon as I possessed 
clear proof of Mr. Crampton's complicity, and I am persuaded this was 
expected at the time in this country. No doubt, however, yours is the more 
prudent course. 

You say that if I can settle the Central American difficulty, and you the 
recruitment question, they may blow what blast they please on any of their 
organs. That you can perform the latter there can be no doubt ; the former 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

possibility during the administration of Lord Palmerston.* Any 

. 1 will only more deeply commit this government and render 

i, ,r a succeeding government to do us justice. It is still my 

peace in Europe before the season for opening the 

q ; and this will leave England in such a state of preparation for 

: ieen at any former period. This may act as a stimulus 

ie reckless and arrogant propensities of Lord P., which have been so often 

1 by him in his intercourse with other nations. 

than once had occasion to admire your self-possession and 

it never was it more strikingly illustrated than in the conclud- 

were, incidental sentence of your letter: "I do not learn that 

: has his mind turned towards any one for your successor, or 

y of legation." This is cool. I had confidently expected that 

ately after Mr. Appleton's arrival in Washington, I should hear of the 

b of my successor, and I felt assured that if there had been need, 

■■ turned" the President's mind towards a subject in which I 

felt so deep an inti 

As I have on more than one occasion informed you, I do believe that had 
it been possible for the new minister to be here for a fortnight before my 
.re this would have been greatly to his benefit, and perhaps to that of 
the country. This is now impossible. My nephew left me yesterday for 
and Home, and I was truly sorry not to be able to accompany him, as 
aks French like a Parisian, and Italian tolerably well, and would, there- 
fore, have been highly useful. I am again left with no person except Mr. 
Moran (who, to do him justice, performs his duties to my entire satisfaction), 
t the President's mind has not been " turned towards any one," even 
for secretary of legation. I hope, at least, that a secretary may arrive before 
the 12th February, as it would have a better appearance to leave the legation 
liarge than in that of the consul. 
Y • ::i to take it hard that your former assistant should be acting in 
concert with Don Magnifico Markoe, still one of your lieutenants, in favor 
of the nomination of Mr. Dallas, and well you may. Such ingratitude towards 
yourself is a proof of the depravity of human nature. But there is one conso- 
lation. As somebody says: "The vigor of the bow does not equal the 
i of the shaft." I misquote, and don't recollect the precise language. 
I till think there will be peace. France and Turkey both desire it, and 
needs it. John Bull is still for war, but this only to recover his prestige. 
urred immense expense in getting ready and don't want to throw 
s money away. If peace should remove Lord P., this would be a most 
>y consummation. Had Mrs. M. been in your place, the President's mind 
would ere this have been " turned" towards somebody for my successor. 
1 ' . t'j present her my kindest regards, and believe me to be, 

Yours very respectfully, etc., 



..UKTitou had then recently become premier in place of Lord Aberdeen. 



DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE. H9 

Legation of the United States, ) 
London, January 18, 185G. ) 

I have nn hour ago received your despatch of the 28th ultimo, and have 
only had time to give it a cursory perusal. I have not yet read the despatch 
of Lord Clarendon to which it is an answer. It appears to mo to be of 
characteristic clearness and ability, and its tone is excellent. Still its conclu- 
sion will startle this government. I have had an appointment with Lord 
Clarendon postponed more than once, on account of the dangerous illness of 
his mother. She died on Sunday morning last, and his lordship informed me 
through his private secretary that as soon after the event as possible he would 
appoint a time for our meeting. 

The Central American questions are well and ably stated in the message 
received two or three days ago. I know from reliable authority that Lord 
Palmerston " has very strong views on the subject." The Times is a mighty 
power in the State ; and I have adopted means, through the agency of a 
friend, to prevent that journal from committing itself upon the questions until 
after its conductors shall have an opportunity of examining the correspondence. 
These means have hitherto proved effectual. The correspondence has now 
arrived, and the Times may indicate its views to-morrow morning. The tone 
of the other journals has not been satisfactory ; and the Daily Telegraph has 
been evidently bought over, and become hostile to the United States within 
the last four days, as you will perceive from the number which I send. Should 
the Times take ground against us, it is my purpose to have an edition of that 
part of the message relating to Central America, and the correspondence, pub- 
lished in pamphlet form, and circulated among members of Parliament and 
other influential persons. Should the expense be great, I may call upon you 
to pay it out of the contingent fund. 

A few hasty remarks upon the present condition of affairs in this country. 
The Austrian proposals, as you will see by the papers, have been accepted by 
the czar. This is distasteful to the British people who have made vast prep- 
arations, at an enormous expense, to recover their military and naval prestige 
in the next campaign. But peace is evidently desired by Louis Napoleon and 
the French, by the Turks and by the Sardinians. It still continues to be my 
opinion that peace will be made. In this state of affairs, the British people 
being sore and disappointed and being better prepared for war than they have 
ever been, Lord Palmerston, whose character is reckless and his hostility to 
our country well known, will most probably assume a high and defiant attitude 
on the questions pending between the two countries. The British people are 
now in that state of feeling that I firmly believe they could be brought up to 
a war with the United States, if they can he persuaded that the territory in 
dispute belongs to themselves. This, absurd as it is, may be done through the 
agency of a press generally, if not universally, hostile to us. I make these 
remarks because you ought to know the truth and be prepared for the worst. 
Certainly not with a view of yielding one iota of our rights to Great Britain 
or any other power. Most certainly not. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

I understand from friends that it is now stated by British individuals in 

. ay it would be for them in their present state of prepa- 

i with our feeble navy, to bring a war with us to a speedy and 

conclusion. In this they would be wofully mistaken. 

great hopes, however, that the peace will upset Lord Palmerston. 

The session of Parliament will commence with a powerful opposition against 

Do contrive by some means to hasten the construction of a railroad to the 
Pacific and to increase our navy. Such a road is as necessary for war purposes 
;is the construction of a fort to defend any of our cities. 

I have not time to write more before the closing of the bag. 

■ly regret to find that so late as the 3d of January you are unable to 
me word to me in regard to my successor. For this cause, I think I have 
good reason to complain. 

With my kind regards always to Mrs. Marcy, I remain 

Yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

p g__l ought not to forget to say that the President's message has 

red great commendation among enlightened people in this country. I am 

. you did not inform me at an earlier period that it was the President's 

intention to demand the recall of Mr. Crampton, etc., that I might have 

prepared them for such a result. 

[to nahum capen, esq.] 

Legation of the United States, \ 
London, January 18, 1856. > 
My Dear Sir : — 

Many thanks for your friendly wishes. They are cordially 

reciprocated. Tour kindly feelings towards myself have doubtless greatly 
oified my popularity at home, but were the Presidency within my reach, 
I am far from believing, I might then exclaim : 

" Will fortune never come with both hands full ? 

She either gives a stomach and no food, 

Or else a feast and takes away the stomach." 

I cannot yet say when I shall return home, but I expect by every steamer 

ar of the appointment of my successor. Indeed, I have been greatly 

ted in being detained here so long. After my relief it is my purpose 

a brief visit to the continent. At the latest, God willing, I expect to 

-me some time in April — possibly before the end of March. 

Without a secretary of legation, my letters must be brief. For this I 

you will excuse me. 
"\\ ith my best wishes for your health and happiness, I remain always, 
Very respectfully, your friend, 

James Buchanan. 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 121 

[TO MR. MARCY.] 

London, January 25, 185G. 
My Dear Sir :— 

Prom present appearances the Central American questions can lead to no 
serious difficulties with England. Public opinion would here seem to be 
marly altogether in favor of our construction of the treaty. Such I learn, is 
the conversation at the clubs and in society ; and with the Times, as well as 
the Daily New on our side, and this in accordance with public sentiment, we 
might expect a speedy settlement of these questions, if any statesman except 
Lord Palmerston were at the head of the government. He cannot long 
remain in power, I think, after peace shall have been concluded. I expect to 
go to Paris after the 12th of February, and may write to you from there, 
should I have a conversation with Louis Napoleon. I shall sec Lord Claren- 
don early next week, and you may expect by the next steamer to hear the 
result of my reading your despatch to his lordship. 

I still continue firm in the belief that peace will be concluded, though it i3 
manifestly distasteful to the British people. 

I met Sir Charles Wood, the first lord of the admiralty, at dinner the other 
day, and had some fun with him about sending the fleet to our shores. He 
said they had only sent a few old hulks, and with such vessels they could 
never have thought of hostilities against such a power as the United States; 
and asked me if I had ever heard that one of them approached our shores. 
I might have referred him to the Screw Blocks. The conversation was 
altogether agreeable and afforded amusement to the persons near us at the 
table. He said : "Buchanan, if you and I had to settle the questions between 
the two governments, they would be settled speedily." I know not whether 
there was any meaning beneath this expression. 

I consider this mission as a sort of waif abandoned by the Government. 
Not a word even about a secretary of legation, though Mr. Appleton left me 
more than two months ago. With the amount of business to transact, and 
the number of visits to receive, I have to labor like a drayman. Have you 
no bowels ? 

The reports, concerning our officers, received from the Crimea, are highly 
complimentary and satisfactory, and the people here are much gratified with 
the letter received from the Secretary of War, thanking General Simpson for 
his kindness and attention towards them. 

Before I go away I intend to get up a letter from Lord Clarendon and 
yourself, manifesting your sense of the manner in which Mr. Bates performed 
his duty as umpire. As he will accept no pay, it is as little as you can do, to 
say, " thank you, sir." 

I am informed there is a publisher in London about to publish the Central 
American correspondence in pamphlet form, believing it will yield him a 
profit. 

I have just received a letter from Mason, written in excellent spirits, prais- 



12 o LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Mr. 'v. . his new secretary. For poor me, this is sour grapes. Never 
friend, Mrs. Marcy, 

I remain yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[to governor bigler.] 

London, February 12, 1856. 
Dear Sir: — 
I did not receive your kind and friendly letter of the 21st ultimo until last 
ling, and although oppressed by my public duties to-day, I cannot suffer 
a steamer to depart without bearing you an answer. 

We had been friends for many years before our friendship was suspended. 
The best course to pursue in renewing it again is to suffer bygones to be by- 
gones. In this spirit I cordially accept your overtures, and shall forget every- 
g unpleasant in our past relations. When we meet again, let us meet as 
though no estrangement had ever existed between us, and it shall not be my 
if we should not remain friends as long as we both may live. I wish 
you an honorable and useful career in the Senate. 

I had hoped to return home with Miss Lane in October last, but a succes- 
sion of threatening incidents has occurred in the relations between the two 
countries which has kept me here until the present moment And even now 
I do not know when I can leave my post. My private business requires that 
I should be at home on the 1st of April, but no pecuniary consideration can 
induce me to desert my public duty at such a moment as the present. I 
. however, that by the nest steamer I shall hear of the appointment of 
uccessor. 
In regard to the Presidency to which you refer, if my own wishes had 
been consulted, my name should never again have been mentioned in connec- 
\vi;h that office. I feel, nevertheless, quite as grateful to my friends for 
their voluntary exertions in my favor during my absence, as though they had 
been prompted by myself. It is a consolation which I shall bear with me to 
my dying day, that the Democracy of my native state have sustained me with 
unanimity. I shall neither be disappointed nor in the slightest 
ee mortified should the Cincinnati Convention nominate another person; 
but in the retirement, the prospect of which is now so dear to me, the con- 
>usness that Pennsylvania has stood by me to the last will be a delightful 
stion. Our friends Van Dyke and Lynch have kept me advised of your 
exertions in my favor. 

I am happy to inform you that within the last fortnight public opinion 

undergone a change in favor of our country. The best evidence 

iaps the friendly tone of Lord Palmerston's speech on Friday 

'■ His lordship has, however, done me injustice in attributing to me 

is which I never uttered, or rather which I never wrote, for all is in 

All I said in relation to the matter in question was that I should 

much satisfaction in transmitting a copy of Lord Clarendon's note to 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 123 

the Scretary of State. I never had a word with Lord Palmerston on the 
subject. 

The moment has arrived for closing the despatch bags, and I conclude by 
assuring you of my renewed friendship. 

Yours very respectfully, 

James Bucuanan. 

[to mr. marcv.] 

(Private and confidential.) London, February 15, 185G. 

My Dear Sir: — 

I have received your favor of the 27th ultimo, and although the contents 
are very acceptable, yet, like a lady's letter, its pith and marrow are in the 
two postscripts, informing mo that Mr. Dallas had been offered and would 
probably accept this mission. By the newspapers I learn that his nomination 
had been sent to the Senate. It is long since I have heard such welcome 
news. But there is some alloy in almost every good, and in my own joy, I 
cannot but sympathize with you for the loss of Mr. Markoe, who, the papers 
say, is to be appointed the secretary of legation. Pray bear it with Christian 
resignation. 

I need not say that I shall do all I can to give Mr. Dallas a fair start. 

I have two things to request of you : 

1. Although I have no doubt the omission of Lady Palmerston to invite 
me to her first party was both intentional and significant at the time, yet I 
should be unwilling to leave the fact on record in a public despatch. I will, 
therefore, send you by the next steamer the same despatch, number 119, of 
the 4th instant, with that portion of it omitted. When you receive this, please 
to withdraw the first despatch and keep it for me until my return. 

2. Should you, in your friendly discretion, deem it advisable under the 
circumstances, please to have an editorial prepared for the Union, stating the 
facts in my last despatch (a duplicate of which is now sent you), in relation to 
the remarks of Lord Palmerston as to my expression of satisfaction with the 
apology contained in Lord Clarendon's note of the 16th July. I send you 
with this a pamphlet which has just been published here on this subject. I 
know the author. He is an Englishman of character. Several members of 
Parliament have called upon me for information, but my position requires that 
I should bs very chary. I have furnished some of them with copies of 
Hertz's trial, among the rest Mr. Roebuck. I met him afterwards in society, 
and it was evident the pamphlet had strongly impressed him with Mr. Cramp- 
ton's complicity. Still it is not to be denied that Lord Palmerston's speech 
on Friday last, in relation to this subject, has made a strong impression here, 
as it has done on the continent, judging by the facts stated in my despatch. 

I know from the tone of your letter that you would consider me in a state 
of mental delusion if I were to say how indifferent I feel in regard to myself 
on the question of the next Presidency. You would be quite a sceptic. One 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

tain that neither by word nor letter have I ever contributed any 

. I believe that the next Presidential term will perhaps be 

nit and responsible of any which has occurred since the origin 

anient, and whilst no competent and patriotic man to whom it 

1 should shrink from the responsibility, yet he may well accept 

I rial of his life. Of course nothing can be expected from you 

idedsupport of your chief. 

Tgetting my excellent and esteemed friend, whose influence I 
shrewdly suspect put you in motion in regard to the appointment of a successor, 
.in, as always, Yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[to his housekeeper, "miss hetty."] 

London, February 15, 1856. 
My Dear Miss Hetty: — 

Although greatly hurried to-day, having heavy despatches, according to 
my rule I suffer not a steamer to pass without answering your letters. Your 
last of the 26th ultimo was most agreeable. You give me information concern- 
bbors which I highly prize. Every thing about home is dear to 
me, and you can scarcely realize how much pleasure I feel in the prospect of 
with you ere long, should a kind Providence spare my life and my 
health. I have had no secretary of legation with me for several months, and 
I have had to labor very hard. I hope to experience the delight of being 
idle, or rather doing what I please, at Wheatland. 

c many vain entreaties, Mr. Dallas has at length been appointed my 
successor, and I expect him here by the end of this month. Whether I shall 
return immediately home, or go to Paris for a few weeks, I have not yet 
lined. The former I would greatly prefer; but March is a very rough 
month to pass the Atlantic, and I suffer wretchedly from sea-sickness all the 
time. I am now, thank God, in good health, and I Co not wish to impair it 

on the voyage 

I wish John Brenner joy in advance of his marriage. Remember me 
kindly to Mr. Fahnestock and your sister, and to all our neighbors and friends, 
and tell them how happy I shall be to meet them once more. Remember me, 

also, most kindly, to Father Keenan 

\\ ith sincere and affectionate regard, I remain always your friend, 

James Buchanan. 



Mv Deab Mary :— 



[TO HIS NIECE, MRS. BAKER. [ 

London, February 16, 1855. 



is not from the want of warm affection that I do not write to you 

ler. I shall ever feel the deepest interest in your welfare and happiness. 

»n on my part arises simply from the fact that Harriet and yourself 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 123 

arc in constant correspondence, and through her you bear all the news from 
London, and I often hear of you. I am rejoiced that you are contented and 
happy. May you ever be so ! 

I have determined to return home in October next, God willing, and to 
pass the remnant of my days, if Heaven should prolong them, in tranquillity 
and retirement. After a long and somewhat stormy public life, I enjoy this 
prospect as much as I have ever done the anticipation of high office. 

England is now in a state of mourning for the loss of so many of her brave 
sons in the Crimea. The approaching " season " will, in consequence, be dull, 
and this I shall bear with Christian fortitude. The duller the better for me; 
but not so for Harriet. She has enjoyed herself very much, and made many 
friends; but I do not see any bright prospect of her marriage. This may 
probably be her own fault. I confess that nothing would please me better 
than to see her married, with her own hearty good will, to a worthy man. 
Should I be called away, her situation would not by any means be comfortable. 

"We are treated with much civility here, indeed with kindness, according to 
the English fashion, which is not very cordial. Such a thing as social visiting 
does not exist even among near friends. You cannot " drop in of an evening'' 
anywhere. You must not go to any place unless you are expected, except it 
be a formal morning call 

It is said that the queen is, and it is certain the British people are, deeply 
mortified at the disasters of her troops in the Crimea. If the men had died 
in battle this would have been some consolation, but they have been sacri- 
ficed by the mismanagement of officials in high authority. The contrast 
between the condition of the French and English troops in the Crimea has 
deeply wounded British pride. Indeed, I am sorry for it myself, because it 
would be unfortunate for the w r orld should England sink to the level of a 
second-rate power. They call us their " cousins on the other side of the 

Atlantic," and it is certain we are kindred 

Yours affectionately, 

James Buchanan. 



CHAPTER V. 

1853-1856. 

NEGOTIATION'S WITH LORD CLARENDON— THE CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY 
\Mi AI1AIRS IN CENTRAL AMERICA— THE CRIMEAN WAR AND THE 
NEW BRITISH DOCTRINE RESPECTING THE PROPERTY OP NEUTRALS. 

TI I E reader has seen that when Mr. Buchanan left home to 
undertake the duties of United States minister in Eng- 
land, it was the understanding between the President and him- 
self that he should have full power to deal with the Central 
American question in London, and that the fishery and reci- 
procity trade questions would be reserved to be dealt with by 
the Secretary of State.* 

But of course the President expected to be informed from 
time to time of the steps taken in the negotiation concerning the 
affairs of Central America, and Mr. Buchanan both expected 
and desired to receive specific instructions on this and all other 
- in the relations of the two governments that might be 
discussed in the course of his mission. It was at a very inter- 
esting and critical period in the affairs of Europe that he 
arrived in England. Although the war between England and 
Prance, as allies of Turkey, on the one side, and Russia on the 
other, known as the Crimean war, was still in the distance, its 
probability was already discernible. How this great disturb- 
affected the pending questions between the United States 
and England, and introduced a new and unexpected difficulty 
in their relations, will appear as I proceed. 

Mr. Buchanan, according to his invariable habit in all 
mportant transactions, kept the records of his mission with 



powers in regard to the Central American question were afterwards transmitted 

! :nlon. 



NEGOTIATIONS WITH LORD CLARENDON. 137 

great care. Transcripts of the whole are now before me, in two 
large MS. volumes ; and they form a monument of his industry, 
his powerful memory, and his ability as a diplomatist. The 
greater part of his negotiations with Lord Clarendon were 
carried on in oral discussions at official but informal interviews. 
Regular protocols of these discussions were not made, but they 
were fully and minutely reported by Mr. Buchanan to Mr. 
Marcy, as they occurred ; and it is most remarkable with what 
completeness, after holding a long conversation, he could record 
an account of it. These conversations show, too, how wide 
was his range of vision in regard to the affairs of Europe, of 
Cuba, of Central America, and of all the topics which he had 
to discuss ; how well versed he was in public law, and how 
thoroughly equipped he was for the position which he occupied. 
It is not strange that he should have left in the minds of the 
public men in England who had most to do with him, an 
impression that he was a statesman of no common order.* His 
first official interview with Lord Clarendon took place on the 
22d of September, 1S53. It had been, and continued to be, 
very difficult to get the attention of the English secretary to 
the questions pending between the United States and England, 
on account of the critical state of the Turkish question ; and 
when Lord Clarendon did have a conference with Mr. Buchanan, 
he did not profess to be so well informed on the affairs of Cen- 
tral America as he felt that he ought to be, although Mr. 
Buchanan found him attentive, courteous and able. In the 
course of many interviews, occurring from time to time between 
the 22d of September, 1853, and the 16th of March, 1854, at 
which last date Lord Clarendon communicated to Mr. Buchanan 
the declaration which had been prepared for the queen's signa- 
ture, specifying the course which she intended to pursue towards 
neutral commerce during the war with Russia, then already 
declared, — topics that are now of great historical interest, and 
some of which have still a practical importance, were discussed 
with great frankness and urbanity. They related at first to the 

* I cannot find room in this volume for these very interesting and graphic despatches. 
It is not improbable that the two volumes of this biography will be followed by a supple- 
mental volume, in which they can be fully given. The Government of the United States has 
never published more than a small part of them. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

1 American questions, and the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, 
the feheries and reciprocity of trade, Cuba and its slavery, 
laven in the I'nited States, and the inter-state relations of 
E \, t]u . W ar approached, and when it was finally 

declared, the principles of neutrality, privateering, and many 
other topics came within the range of the discussion; and it 
.. tv much in consequence of the views expressed by Mr. 
Buchanan to Lord Clarendon, and by the latter communicated 
to the British cabinet, that the course of England towards 
neutrals during that war became what it was. When Lord 
I don, on the 16th of March, 1854, presented to Mr. 

Buchanan a projet for a treaty between Great Britain, France 
and the United States, making it piracy for neutrals to serve on 
board of privateers cruising against the commerce of either of 

tree nations, when such nation was a belligerent, the very 
impressive reasons which Mr. Buchanan opposed to it caused it 

abandoned.* 

Thursday, March 16, 1854. 
1 at the Foreign Office by the invitation of Lord Clarendon. He pre- 
sented me a printed treaty in blank, which he proposed should be executed by 
Britain, France and the United States. The chief object of it was that 
all captains of privateers and their crews should be considered and punished as 
. who, being subjects or citizens of one of the three nations who were 
.', should cruise against either of the others when belligerent. The 
undoubtedly was to prevent Americans from taking service in Russian 
privateers during the present war. We had much conversation on the subject, 
which I do not mean to repeat, this memorandum being merely intended to 
i my own memory. His lordship had before him a list of the different 
between the United States and other nations on this subject. 
1 was somewhat taken by surprise, though I stated my objections pretty 
clearly to such a treaty. Not having done justice to the subject in my own 
i. I requested and obtained an interview for the next day, when I 
them more fully and clearly. The heads were as follows: 
1 . It w< mid be a violation of our neutrality in the war to agree with France 
1 that American citizens who served on board Russian privateers 
• punished as pirates. To prevent this, Russia should become a party 
i, under existing circumstances, was impossible. 
'1. Our treaties only embraced a person of either nation who should take 

• I And in Mr. Buchanan's private memorandum book the account of this matter in 
sndwritlng, given in the text. It is much more full than that contained in his despatches 

'•! irry. 



THE CLAYTON-BULWER TRExVTY. 1^9 

commissions as privateers, and did not extend to the crew. Sailors were 
a thoughtless race, and it would be cruel and unjust to punish them as 
pirates for taking such service, when they often might do it from want and 
necessity. 

3. The British law claims all who arc born as British subjects to be British 
ets forever. We naturalize them and protect them as American citizens. 

If the treaty were concluded, and a British cruiser should capture a Russian 
privateer with a naturalized Irishman on board, what would be the conse- 
quence ? The British law could not punish him as an American citizen under 
the treaty, because it would regard him as a British subject. It might hang 
him for high treason ; and such an event would produce a collision between 
the two countries. The old and dangerous emestion would then be presented 
in one of its worst aspects. 

4. Whilst such a treaty might be justly executed by such nations as Great 
Britain and the United States, would it be just, wise or humane to agree 
that their sailors who took service on board a privateer should be summarily 
tried and executed as pirates by several powers which could be named ? 

5. Cui bono should Great Britain make such a treaty with France during 
the existing war. If no neutral power should enter into it with them, it 
could have no effect during its continuance. 

G. The time may possibly come when Great Britain, in a war with the 
despotisms of Europe, might find it to be exceedingly to her interest to 
employ American sailors on board her privateers, and such a treaty would 
render this impossible. Why should she unnecessarily bind her hands ? 

7. The objections of the United States to enter into entangling alliances 
with European nations. 

8. By the law of nations, as expounded both in British and American 
courts, a commission to a privateer, regularly issued by a belligerent nation, 
protects both the captain and the crew from punishment as pirates. Would 
the different commercial nations of the earth be willing to change this law as 
you propose, especially in regard to the crew ? Would it be proper to do so 
in regard to the latter ? 

After I had stated these objections at some length on Friday, the 17th of 
March, Lord Clarendon observed that when some of them were stated the 
day before, they had struck him with so much force after reflection, that he 
had come to the office from the House of Lords at night and written them 
down and sent them to Sir James Graham. In his own opinion the treaty 
ought not to be concluded, and if the cabinet came to this conclusion the 
affair should drop, and I agreed I would not write to the Department on the 
subject. If otherwise, and the treaty should be presented to the Government 
of the United States, then I was to report our conversation. 

In the conversation Lord Clarendon said they were more solicitous to be on 
good terms with the United States than any other nation, and that the project 
had not yet been communicated even to France. 

(Vide 1 Kent's Commentaries, 100. United States Statutes at large, 175, 

II.— 9 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

• • h 3d, 1847, to provide for the punishment of piracy in certain 
Ik's message to Congress tf December 8, 1846.) 
. i mversation about privateering, 
v object Of the treaty was to change the law of nations in this respect, 
ri Lord Clarendon said that if England, France and the United States should 
tor into it the others would soon follow. The project contained a stipula- 
it the person who took a commission as a privateer should give 
curity that he would not employ any persons as sailors on board who 
■ not subjects or citizens of the nation granting the commission. 

L854. At her majesty's drawing-room this day, Lord Claren- 
, hat they had given up the project of the treaty, etc., etc. 

The whole object of the negotiation in reference to the affairs 
atral America was to develop and ascertain the precise 
ences between the two governments in regard to the con- 
, traction of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. As the negotiation 
had become interrupted by the war with Eussia, and as it was 
, ,1 probable that it could be brought to a definite issue while 
.-. ar continued, Mr. Buchanan desired to return home. But 
Mr. Marcy earnestly desired him to remain, saying in answer 
to his request to he relieved : "The negotiation cannot be corn- 
ed to any one who so well understands the subject in all 
earings as you do, or who can so ably sustain and carry out 
the views of the United States." Mr. Buchanan therefore 
remained and pressed upon Lord Clarendon a further discus- 
sion of the subject, saying in a formal note : 

" The President has directed the undersigned, before retiring from his mis- 

i request from the British government a statement of the positions 

which it has determined to maintain in regard to the Bay Islands, the terri- 

tween the Sibun and Sarstoon, as well as the Belize settlement and the 

to protectorate. The long delay in asking for this information has pro- 

I'rom the President's reluctance to manifest any impatience on this 

important subject whilst the attention of her Majesty's government was 

l>y the war with Russia. But as more than a year has already 

1 since the termination of the discussion on these subjects, and as the 

m of tl iew Congress is speedily approaching, the President does 

' feel that he would be justified in any longer delay." 

There had been submitted by Mr. Buchanan to Lord Claren- 

Oth of January, 1854, a detailed statement of the 

view.- of the United States, which was not answered until the 



THE CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY. 131 

2d of May following. On the 22d of July Mr. Buchanan made 
an elaborate reply, containing a historical review of all the 
matters in dispute. It reduced the whole controversy respecting 
the Clayton-Bulwer treaty to the following points: 

What, then, is the fair construction of the article? It embraces two 
objects. 1. It declares that neither of the parties shall ever acquire any 
exclusive control over the ship canal to be constructed between the Atlantic 
and the Pacific, by the route of the river San Juan de Nicaragua, and that 
neither of them shall ever erect or maintain any fortifications commanding the 
same or in the vicinity thereof. In regard to this stipulation, no disagreement 
is known to exist between the parties. But the article proceeds further in its 
mutually self-denying policy, and in the second place, declares that neither of 
the parties ' will occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise any 
dominion over Nicarauga, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any part of 
Central America.' 

We now reach the true point. Does this language require that Great 
Britain shall withdraw from her existing possessions in Central America, 
including 'the Mosquito coast?' The language peculiarly applicable to this 
coast will find a more appropriate place in a subsequent portion of these 
remarks. 

If any person enters into a solemn and explicit agreement that he will 
not " occupy ' ' any given tract of country then actually occupied by him, can 
any proposition be clearer, than that he is bound by his agreement to with- 
draw from such occupancy ? Were this not the case, these words would have 
no meaning, and the agreement would become a mere nullity. Nay more, in 
its effect it would amount to a confirmation of the party in the possession of 
that very territory which he had bound himself not to occupy, and would 
practically be equivalent to an agreement that he should remain in possession 
— a contradiction in terms. It is difficult to comment on language which 
appears so plain, or to offer arguments to prove that the meaning of words is 
not directly opposite to their well-known signification. 

And yet the British government consider that the convention interferes 
with none of their existing possessions in Central America ; that it is entirely 
prospective in its nature, and merely prohibits them from making new acquis 
sitions. If this be the case, then it amounts to a recognition of their rights, 
on the part of the American Government, to all the possessions which they 
already hold, whilst the United States have bound themselves by the very 
same instrument, never, under any circumstances, to acquire the possession of 
a foot of territory in Central America. The mutuality of the convention 
would thus be entirely destroyed ; and whilst Great Britain may continue to 
hold nearly the whole eastern coast of Central America, the United States have 
abandoned the right for all future time to acquire any territory, or to receive 
into the American Union any of the states in that portion of their own conti- 
nent. This self-imposed prohibition was the great objection to the treaty in 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

the United States at the time of its conclusion, and was powerfully urged by 
some of the best men in the country. Had it then been imagined that whilst 
1 the United States from acquiring territory, under any possible 
,cs in a portion of America through which their thoroughfares to 
and Oregon must pass, and that the convention, at the same time, 
permitted Great Britain to remain in the occupancy of all her existing posses- 
ions in that region, there would not have been a single vote in the Ameri- 
can Senate in favor of its ratification. In every discussion it was taken for 
I that the convention required Great Britain to withdraw from these 
possessions, and thus place the parties upon an exact equality in Central 
: ica. Upon this construction of the convention there was quite as great 
an unanimity of opinion as existed in the House of Lords, that the convention 
with Spain of 1786 required Great Britain to withdraw from the Mosquito 
protectorate. 

As Lord Clarendon in his statement had characterized "the 
Monroe Doctrine" as merely the "dictum of its distinguished 
author," Mr. Buchanan replied that " did the occasion require, 
he would cheerfully undertake the task of justifying the wisdom 
and policy of the Monroe doctrine, in reference to the nations 
of Europe as well as to those on the American continent ; " and 
he closed as follows : 

But no matter what may be the nature of the British claim to the country 
between the Sibun and the Sarstoon. the observation already made in refer- 
ence to the Bay Islands and the Mosquito coast must be reiterated, that the 
great question does not turn upon the validity of this claim previous to the 
convention of 1850, but upon the facts that Great Britain has bound herself 
by this convention not to occupy any part of Central America, nor to exer- 
cise dominion over it; and that the territory in question is within Central 
America, even under the most limited construction of these words. In regard 
to Belize proper, confined within its legitimate boundaries, under the treaties 
of 1783 and 1786, and limited to the usufruct specified in these treaties, it is 
necessary to say but a few words. The Government of the United States 
will not, for the present, insist upon the withdrawal of Great Britain from this 

. :nent, provided all the other questions between the two governments 
concerning Central America can be amicably adjusted. It has been influenced 
i i pursue this course partly by the declaration of Mr. Clayton on the 4th of 
July, 1850, but mainly in consequence of the extension of the license granted 
by Mexico to Great Britain, under the treaty of 1826, which that republic has 
yet taken no steps to terminate. 

I is, however, distinctly to be understood that the Government of the 

1 States acknowledge no claim of Great Britain within Belize, except 

the temporary ' liberty of making use of the wood of the different kinds, the 



THE CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY. 133 

fruits and other products in their natural state,' fully recognizing that the 
former ' Spanish sovereignty over the country ' now belongs .either to Guate- 
mala or Mexico. 

In conclusion, the Government of the United States most cordially and 
earnestly unite in the desire expressed by ' her majesty's government, not only 
to maintain the convention of 1850 intact, but to consolidate anil strengthen 
it by strengthening and consolidating the friendly relations which it was cal- 
culated to cement and perpetuate.' Under these mutual feelings, it is deeply 
to be regretted that the two governments entertain opinions so widely differ- 
ent in regard to its true effect and meaning. 

In this attitude the controversy was necessarily left by Mr. 
Buchanan, when his mission finally terminated ; and its further 
history, so far as he is concerned in it, belongs to the period 
when he had become President of the United States. 



CHAPTER VI. 

1853— 1856. 

BRITISH ENLISTMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES— RECALL OF THE ENGLISH 
MINISTER AT "WASHINGTON— THE OSTEND CONFERENCE. 

TW( ) topics entirely unexpected by Mr. Buchanan when he 
accepted the mission to England must here claim some 
attention. The first relates to an occurrence which brought 
ui" ,n tllG United States the necessity of demanding a recall of the 
British minister who then represented the queen's government 
al Washington. This was Mr. John F. Crampton, a well- 
meaning and amiable gentleman, who had long resided in this 
country as secretary of the British legation, and had been made 
minister some time previously, but whose zeal in the service of 
>vernment had led him into a distinct violation of our neu- 
trality in the war between England and Russia. It is altogether 
probable that in his efforts to promote enlistments of men to 
serve in that war, Mr. Crampton did not keep within the letter 
of his instructions. It was, at all events, somewhat difficult, 
for a good while, to convince Lord Clarendon that Mr. Cramp- 
tun was personally implicated in the unlawful acts which were 
undoubtedly done. But there was but one course for the 
American government to pursue. The history of this affair is 
somewhat curious. 

"When in April, 1854, Mr. Marcy had occasion to acknowl- 
edge the receipt from Mr. Crampton of a note stating the new 
rule that would be observed by Great Britain, in the war with 
Russia, towards neutrals, after expressing his gratification, and, 
al the same time, saying that the United States would have 
been still more gratified if the rule that "free ships make free 
goods" had been extended to all future wars to which Great 
Britain should be a party, he took the precaution to remind 
Mr. Crampton in courteous terms of the severe restrictions 



RECALL OF THE ENGLISH MINISTER. 13 5 

imposed by our laws .against equipping privateers, receiving com- 
missions, or enlisting men within our territories to take any 
part in a foreign war. Lord Clarendon, too, at a later period 
(April 12, 1S55), wrote to Mr. Crampton that " the law of the 
United States, with respect to enlistment, however conducted, 
is not only very just but very stringent, according to the report 
which is enclosed in your despatch, and her Majesty's govern- 
ment would on no account run any risk of infringing this law 
of the United States." * For a time, Mr. Crampton acted cau- 
tiously, but in the course of the summer of 1S55, Mr. Marcy 
received evidence which convinced him that the British min- 
ister was personally implicated in carrying out arrangements 
for sending men to Nova Scotia, under contracts made in 
the United States to enlist as soldiers in the British army after 
their arrival in Halifax ; and that the means for sending them 
had been supplied by him and other British functionaries. 
Mr. Buchanan was first instructed to bring this matter to the 
attention of Lord Clarendon, before Mr. Crampton's direct 
agency in it had become known to our Government. His letter 
of July 6, 1855, to Lord Clarendon, was a forcible presentation 
of the grounds on which the United States complained of such 
doings as an infraction of their laws and a violation of their 
sovereignty. A long correspondence ensued, which, was con- 
ducted at times with some approach to acrimony, but which 
never actually transcended the limits of diplomatic courtesy. 
At length the proofs that Mr. Crampton was a party to this 
unlawful proceeding became so forcible that the British govern- 
ment yielded to the recpiest that he might be recalled, and he 
was transferred to another diplomatic post. The whole affair 
was attended at one time with serious risk of an interruption in 
the friendly relations of the two countries. Mr. Marcy's course 
in the correspondence was greatly tempered in its tone by the 
advice which he received from Mr. Buchanan, although the 
hazard of an unfortunate issue of the trouble was much enhanced 
by the sending of an unusual naval force to the coasts of the 
United States, which the British government ordered while this 
affair was pending, but without any special reference to it. 

* A copy of this note was delivered to Mr. Marcy in the course of the month of May, 1855. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

i "Ostend Conference," which at the time it 

00 . U1T „) made a great deal of noise, and in which Mr. Buchanan 

irected by his Government to participate, requires hut a 
splanal ion. It was not a meeting in any sense suggested 

bv him. nor was there anything connected with it which should 

have given rise to alarm. When in the summer of 1856 he 

10 the nominee of the Democratic party for the Presi- 

, as is usual on such occasions, biographical sketches of 

iblicand private character were prepared and circulated. 

Among them was a small volume in duodecimo form of US 
ritten with far greater ability and precision than was 

common in such ephemeral publications intended for electioneer- 
irposes. Its account of the whole matter of the " Ostend 

Conference" is so exact and lucid that I do not hesitate to 

quote it as a true history of that proceeding :* 

THE OSTEND CIRCULAR. 

It is the rare good fortune of Mr. Buchanan to have sustained a long career 
lie life with such singular discretion, integrity, and ability, that now, 
he is presented by the great national party of the country as their can- 
didate for the highest dignity in the Eepublic, nothing is seriously urged by 
political hostility in extenuation of his merit, save the alleged countenance 
to filibuster enterprise and cupidity, inferred by his enemies from a strained 
interpretation of the recommendations and views of the Ostend Conference. 
The political opponents of Mr. Buchanan call upon his supporters to vindicate 
im they assert in behalf of Mr. Buchanan to conservatism, by recon- 
ciling that assumption with his participation in the American Diplomatic 

1 >nce at Ostend and Aix la Chapelle, and with his adoption and 
endorsement, jointly with the ministers of the United States to France and 
Spain, of the views and recommendations addressed by the three ambassadors 
to the Department of State, on the 18th of October, 1854, in the letter com- 
monly known as the Ostend Manifesto. The circumstance that the opposition 

be nomination of Mr. Buchanan with no other objection impugning his 

qualifications for the Presidential trust, cannot fail to confirm the popular 

belief in the justice and wisdom of the judgment that governed the Cincinnati 

convention in selecting a statesman so unassailable in the record of his political 

i so little obnoxious to personal censure and distrust, as the candidate 



little biography which is before me is entitled, The Life and Public 
! ; i i: . .an of Pennsylvania. Twentieth thousand. New York: Pub- 
' '' ''>' ! i Rudd 310 Broadway, 185G. It was published anonymously, but I am 

1 that the name of the author was Edward F. Underbill. 



TIIE OSTEXD CIRCULAR. 137 

of the great national party of the Union for the highest dignity in the Repub- 
lic. For it is demonstrable that an erroneous impression exists as to the 
purport of the Aix la Chapelle letter ; and that the policy therein declared by 
Mr. Buchanan and liis associates, is identical with that which has uniformly 
been regarded and avowed as the policy of the United States in respect to the 
Island of Cuba. And a belief endeavored to be inculcated, that the policy of 
the Ostend conference was adopted in consultation or co-operation with the 
Red Republicans of Europe, is equally erroneous. This belief has originated 
in another supposition equally unfounded, that Mr. Soule was in league with 
the leaders of the European revolutionary movement. The truth is, that 
fundamental differences existed between the policy of Mr. Soule and Mazzini, 
Ledru Rollin, Kossuth, and Louis Blanc; and besides which fact it is well 
known that these revolutionary leaders themselves were agreed only upon one 
point, the necessity of revolution, and that they seldom speak to one another. 
The policy of the revolutionary party of Europe in reference to Cuba was 
this. They desired the United States to assist the Democratic party of Spain 
in creating a revolution at Madrid, which should dethrone the queen, and 
place the Democratic party in power, by the establishment of a republic, and 
then leave Cuba at her option to either remain a portion of the Spanish 
republic, or seek annexation to the United States. This concession to the 
United States was to be in return for material aid furnished in effecting the 
Spanish revolution. The revolution thus accomplished was intended to be the 
initiative of further revolutions on the Continent. The Pyrenees range of 
mountains which forms the boundary line between France and Spain are 
populated on either side by the most liberal men in either empire, the great 
mass of the inhabitants being Republican ; and could a republic be established 
in Spain, the Pyrenees would not only furnish points from which to begin 
their revolutionary designs against France, but would form a barrier behind 
which they could defend themselves against any attack which Louis Napoleon 
might make. The revolution accomplished in France, Kossuth and Mazzini 
would have but little difficulty in overthrowing the power of Austria in 
Hungary and Italy. Such were the objects which the revolutionary leaders 
of Europe had in view in endeavoring to secure the influence of the United 
States Government in support of their policy. 

It is needless to say, that neither the Ostend conference nor the cabinet at 
Washington gave any countenance to this policy. The Ostend conference 
looked at the Cuba question solely from an American point of view, and quite 
disconnected from the conflicts and interests of European politics, or the 
aspirations of revolutionary leaders. On this account, so far from that policy 
receiving the favor of the Red Republicans, they were as pointed in their 
hostility to it as any of the monarchical organs of Europe, and did not hesitate 
to privately, and sometimes publicly, denounce Mr. Soule* for having signed 
the Ostend circular, as recreant to the expectations which they had formed in 
regard to him. Mr. Buchanan from first to last opposed the policy which 
would lead to the United States becoming involved in the European struggle, 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

and held strictly to the American view of the question, in accordance with 
. the Oatend letter was framed. 

• at Ostend had its origin in the recommendation of Governor 

who justly conceived that the mission with which Mr. Some was 

1 at the court of Spain might excite the jealousy of other European 

. and that it was important for the purpose of facilitating the negotia- 

ere to be conducted, that explanations should be made to the govern- 

of England and France, of the objects and purposes of the United 

in any movement that events might render necessary, having in view 

the ultimate purchase or acquisition by this government of the Spanish Island 

I . The object of the consultation suggested by Mr. Marcy was, as 

in a letter to Mr. Soule, " to bring the common wisdom and knowl- 

i the three ministers to bear simultaneously upon the negotiations at 

I, London and Paris." These negotiations had not necessarily in view 

insfer of Cuba to this country; though that was one of the modes 

and seemingly the most effective, of terminating the constantly 

recurring grievances upon the commerce of the United States, upon the honor 

of its flag, and the personal rights of its citizens, which disturbed the cordial 

relations of the two countries, and infused acrimony into their intercourse 

connected with the prosecution of commerce. Another expedient which 

. Marcy regarded with favor, was the independence of the Island 

under the Creole sovereignty. At that time, in the summer of 1854, appre- 

henaions of some important change in the social and political condition and 

relations of Cuba, were generally felt in this country. Rumors prevailed, 

founded on the then recent decrees and modifications of law pertaining to the 

servile condition, that it was in contemplation to establish the domination of 

the blacks in the Island ; that the slaves were to be freed and armed, and that 

an extensive introduction of native Africans was to be resorted to as a means 

of re-enforcing the strength of the dominant party. 

Such, indeed, was the policy of Great Britain ; first, to keep alive the 

slavery agitation in the United States, not from motives of philanthropy, but, 

by thus inciting internal discord between the people of different sections of the 

Union, the United States would be prevented from turning its attention to 

further schemes of territorial extension; and second, to flood Cuba with 

negroes under a system of apprenticeship, in order to render it valueless to 

the United States. The execution of such a scheme was regarded as 

atly dangerous to the peace and safety of this country, and was one 

which the United States could not suffer, as the inevitable effects of such a 

policy, carried out, would be. sooner or later, to induce a servile insurrection 

in the Southern States. With a colony containing a million and a half of free 

£rocs, immediately off our shores, an expedition could at any time be 

1 under European aid, and sent from Cuba to our Southern States to 

bellion, with all its attendant horrors, among the slaves. Mr. Soule 

istructed to ascertain whether it was in contemplation, and, if so, to seek 

to prevent it from being carried out, and to avert its baleful consequences to 



THE OSTEND CIRCULAR. 139 

ourselves, by negotiating, first, for the purchase of Cuba, and if that were 
impracticable, then for the independence of the Island. It was not the greed 
of territorial expansion that prompted the instructions which convoked the 
Ostend conference ; nor was that sentiment the controlling one that prompted 
the adoption by its members of the recommendations embodied in the Aix la 
Ohapelle letter. The document is too long to publish at length, but the mate- 
rial passage which contains the doctrines which the opposition would fain lead 
the people to believe are dangerous, is subjoined : 

"But if Spain, deaf to the voice of her own interest, and actuated by 
stubborn pride and a false sense of honor, should refuse to sell Cuba to the 
United States, then the question will arise, what ought to be the course of the 
American Government under such circumstances? Self-preservation is the 
first law of nature with states as well as with individuals. All nations have 
at different periods acted upon this maxim. Although it has been made the 
pretext for committing flagrant injustice, as in the partition of Poland, and 
other similar cases which history records, yet the principle itself, though often 
abused, has always been recognized. The United States has never acquired a 
foot of territory except by fair purchase, or, as in the case of Texas, upon the 
free and voluntary application of the people of that independent state, who 
desired to blend their destinies with our own. Even our acquisitions from 
Mexico are no exception to the rule, because, although we might have claimed 
them by the right of conquest, in a just war, yet we purchased them for what 
was then considered by both parties a full and ample equivalent. Our past 
history forbids that we should acquire the Island of Cuba without the consent 
of Spain, unless justified by the great law of self-preservation. We must, in 
any event, preserve our own conscious rectitude and our own self-respect. 

" "While pursuing this course, we can afford to disregard the censure of the 
world, to which we have been so often and so unjustly exposed. After we 
shall have offered Spain a price for Cuba far beyond its present value, and this 
shall have been refused, it will then be time to consider the question, does 
Cuba in the possession of Spain seriously endanger our internal peace and the 
existence of our cherished Union ? Should this question be answered in the 
affirmative, then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in 
wresting it from Spain, if we possess the power. And this, upon the very 
same principle that would justify an individual in tearing down the burning 
house of his neighbor if there were no other means of preventing the flames 
from destroying his own home. Under such circumstances, we ought neither 
to count the cost nor regard the odds which Spain might enlist against us. 

'■ We forbear to enter into the question whether the present condition of 
the Island would justify such a measure. We should, however, be recreant 
to our duty — be unworthy of our gallant forefathers, and commit base treason 
against our posterity, should we permit Cuba to be Africanized and to become 
a second St. Domingo, with all its attendant horrors to the white race, and 
suffer the flames to extend to our neighboring shores, seriously to endanger 



l40 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Jly to consume the fair fabric of our Union. We fear that the course 
and current of events are rapidly tending towards such a catastrophe. . . 

" James Buchanan, 
" John Y. Mason, 
" Pierre Soule. 

. la Chapelle, October 18, 1854." 

One brief sentence in the above describes the purport and substance of the 
whole document : " Our past history forbids that we should acquire the Island 

I a without the consent of Spain, unless justified by the great law of 
self-preservation." If the acquisition of the Island should become the very 
condition of our existence, then if Spain shall refuse to part with it for a 
far beyond its present value," we shall be justified " in wresting it" 
from her, " upon the very same principle that would justify an individual in 
tearing down the burning house of his neighbor, if there were no other means 
of preventing the flames from destroying his own home." 

This doctrine is not original with the Ostend conference, nor did it emanate 
from filibustering cupidity , nor is it a mere party issue. It has been as 
broadly asserted, and as confidently and ably advocated, by a Whig statesman 
and administration, as in the Ostend manifesto. Mr. Everett, United States 
Secretary of State, in his letter to the British and French ministers declining 
the alliance tendered by them to guarantee the possession of Cuba to Spain 
for all coming time, defends his refusal, on the ground that the United States 
have an interest in the condition of Cuba which may justify her in assuming 
dominion over it — an interest in comparison with which that of England and 
France dwindles into insignificance. 

The truth is, that its doctrines are the reverse of filibusterism, which 
means an unlawful, unauthorized depredation of individuals on the territory 
of countries with which we are at peace. The Ostend circular recommends 
no suspension or repeal of the neutrality laws, no modifications of the restric- 
tions imposed by our traditional policy and statutes upon the acts of indi- 
viduals who choose to filibuster; but it declares that, whenever an occasion 
arrives for a hostile act against the territory of any other nation, it must be by 
the sovereign act of the nation, through its regular army and navy. So 
inconsistent are the doctrines of the Ostend circular with filibusterism, that 
the publication of that document resulted in the cessation of all filibustering 
attempts against Cuba. But this is not the only result. The acts of aggression 
upon our citizens and our commerce, by the authorities in Cuba, prior to the 
1 conference, were of a character to seriously imperil the relations 
between the two countries. But since the Ostend conference, most of those 
I ies have been settled, and the remainder are now in the course of 
ent; and as the legitimate result of the bold and determined policy 
ited at Ostend, there has not since been a single outrage against the 
in Cuba. A vacillating or less determined course on the 
I our ministers would have only invited further aggression. 



THE OSTEND CIRCULAR. 141 

Thus it will be seen that the letter upon which the charge is based by no 
means justifies the imputation. It only proves that, under circumstances 
threatening actual danger to the Republic, and in order to preserve its exist- 
ence, the United States would be "justified, by the great law of self-preserva- 
tion," in acquiring the Island of Cuba without the consent of Spain. In its 
careful preclusion of filibustering intent and assumption, it shows the pre- 
dominance of a conservative influence in the Congress, which the country may 
safely attribute to the weight of Mr. Buchanan's counsels and character. It is 
obviously manifest from the tenor of the document, that the construction so 
sedulously contended for by the opponents of Democratic rule, is that which 
was most earnestly deprecated by the prevailing sentiment of its framcrs. 
Events were then in progress, and a perilous catastrophe seemed to impend, 
that asked of American statesmanship the exercise of all the decision, prudence 
and energy at its command, to regulate and guide the one in such a way as, 
if possible, to stay or avert the other. The local administration in Cuba had 
become alarmed for its safety, and, influenced by apprehension and terror of 
American filibusters, had already adopted measures of undiscriminating 
aggression upon the United States Government, by dishonoring its flag and 
violating the rights of its citizens, which, if persisted in, would inevitably 
have led to war. Nor was this the only danger ; for it was industriously 
affirmed by those in the interests of Spanish rule, that the Island was to be 
" Africanized," and delivered over to " an internal convulsion which should 
renew the horrors and the fate of St. Domingo " — an event to which, as Mr. 
Everett truly declares in his letter to the British and French ministers, 
declining the proposed alliance to guarantee Cuba to Spain, both France and 
England would prefer any change in the condition of that Island — not 
excepting even its acquisition by the United States. Under the circumstances, 
nothing less than so decided a manifestation of determined energy and pur- 
pose as was made through the instrumentality of the Ostend conference, 
would probably have prevailed to prevent that very struggle for the conquest 
of Cuba, which it is now alleged to have been its purpose to precipitate. And 
thus, as often happens in the conduct of affairs, the decision and firmness 
which seemed aggressive and menacing, facilitated a pacific and satisfactory 
solution of difficulties that threatened war. 



CHAPTER VII. 

1854-1855. 

THE SOCIAL POSITION OF MB. BUCHANAN AND HIS NIECE IN ENGLAND. 

THE social position of Mr. Buchanan and his niece in Eng- 
land can be described only by making extracts from 
letters. Miss Lane joined her uncle in London in the spring 
of 1S54, and remained with him until the autumn of 1855. An 
American minister at the English court, at periods of exciting 
and critical questions between the two nations, is very likely to 
experience a considerable variation in the social barometer. 
But the strength of Mr. Buchanan's character, and the agree- 
able personal qualities which were in him united with the 
gravity of years and an experience of a very uncommon kind, 
overcame at all times any tendency to social unpleasantness that 
might have been caused by national feelings excited by tempo- 
rary causes. Letters written by Miss Lane from England to her 
sister Mrs. Baker have been placed in my hands. From such 
letters, written in the freedom of sisterly affection, I can take 
but very few extracts. Many most eligible opportunities oc- 
curred which might have fixed the fate of this young lady away 
from her own land ; and it appears from one of her uncle's let- 
ters that after her return to America a very exalted personage 
expressed regret that she had not been " detained " in England. 
Iz was entirely from her own choice that she was not. 

[MISS LANE TO MRS. BAKER.] 

56 Harley Street, London, Friday Feb. 9, 1855. 

I have no letter from you, dearest sister, since I last wrote, but shall con- 

inuo my fortnightly correspondence, though my letters are written so hastily 

are not what they should be. We are luxuriating in a deep snow, 

with a prospect of being housed, as nobody thinks of sleighing in England— 



SOCIAL POSITION IN ENGLAND. 143 

indeed there are 110 sleighs. I returned home on Friday last, and really spent 
four weeks near Liverpool most happily, and truly regretted when our charm* 

ing trio was broken up — we were so joyous and happy together 

Mr. and Mrs. Brown and Miss Ilargraves came up with me, and Laly, after 
remaining a few days at the hotel, camo to stay with me. She will remain 
until Thursday, and is a sweet, dear girl. 

To my great regret Mr. Welsh talks of going to the United States on the 
24th. I hope he may yet change his mind, for I shall miss him so much, as 
there is no one in the legation I can call upon with the same freedom as I do 
on him. Our secretary is not yet appointed ; it is said Mr. Appleton has 
received an offer of the place; if he should come, uncle will be perfectly 
satisfied, as he was his first choice. The Lawrences talk of going upon the 

continent in March Mr. Mason continues to get better, but I 

would not be surprised to hear of their anticipated return, as I am sure his 
health would be much better in Virginia than in Paris 

They have had great trouble here in forming a new ministry, and I am 
sorry Lord Aberdeen has gone out, as he is a great friend of the United States, 
and Lord Palmerston, the new prime minister, is not. London is still dull, 
but begins to fill up more since Parliament is in session. The war affects 
everything ; there are no drawing-rooms announced as yet, and it is doubted 
whether there will be any, at least until after Easter. The queen returns to 
town the middle of this month. Uncle is well, and seems to escape the cold 
that is so prevalent. There are few Americans here now, and the " Arctic " 
will deter them from crossing in such numbers to the World's Fair in Paris in 
May. We have had canvas-back duck sent us lately, and it really takes one 
quite home again. How you would have enjoyed them. Do you have them 

in California ? Mr. still continues in London. He has called since 

my return, but unfortunately I was not at home ; however I like his remaining 

so long in London with no other attraction was in London 

for two hours the other day, and passed one here. His sister continues very 
ill. Do write me often, dear sister. I dare say your time is much occupied 
now, but send a few lines. 

March 2d, 1855. 

I did not send you a letter last week, dear sister, for I was not very well 
and writing fatigued me. I am much better now, and as the weather has 
become much milder, I hope my cold will pass entirely off. I have your 
letters of Dec. 31st and Jan. 15th, and think you have indeed been lucky in 
presents. There is not much of that among grown persons here ; they keep 
Christmas gaily, and the children receive the presents 

Every thing is worn in Paris standing out. Skirts cannot be too full and 
stiff: sleeves are still open, and basque bodies, either open in front or closed; 
flounces are very much worn. I had some dresses made in Paris that I wish 
you could see. 

Uncle wrote you ten days ago, direct to California. He is in good health 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

and likes much to hear from you. We have dined with the queen 
Her invitations are always short, and as the court was in 

■ , I had no black dress, one day's notice kept me very busy 

1 Mack dresses, for the court is often in mourning, and you 

I belong to it; but the season being quiet, I did not expect to go out 

court parties. The queen was most gracious, and talked a great deal 

: upon her right hand, and Prince Albert was talkative, and 

v.e passed a charming evening. The Princess-Royal came in after 

and is simple, unaffected, and very child-like— her perfect simplicity 

lannera are charming. Every thing of course was magnificent at the 

table— gold in profusion, twelve candelabras with four candles each; but you 

1 vet can describe things of this sort. With mirrors and candles all 

i the room, a band of delicious music playing all the time, it was a little 

ry-land in its magnificence. We had another band after dinner, while 

we took tea. Every thing is unsettled here about the war and the ministry, 

and, really, England seems in a bad way at present. It is positively stated 

that the Emperor Napoleon is going to the Crimea, in opposition to the advice 

of all his friends. 

March 23d, 1855. 

I have your bright, cheerful letter of Jan. 31st, dear sister, and rejoice in 

your good spirits. I have not been quite well for a few weeks, suffering from 

cold— the weather has been so dreadful— so that I have gone out but little ; 

indeed, there seems to be a gloom over everything in the gay line this year. 

Archbishop Hughes dined with us on his way to the United States. He spoke 

of remembering me in Washington at uncle's, where he never saw me, and 

of course it was you. We have given one large dinner this year, and I am 

sorry it is time for them to commence. Our old butler, Cates, was ill at the 

time, and on last Tuesday the honest old creature died. We all felt it very 

much, as he was a copital servant, and so faithful — my right-hand man. We 

dined two and twenty on the 10th, English and Americans, and it passed off 

very well. Wednesday was "fast-day," and universally unpopular. They 

said, " we fast for the gross mismanagement by the ministers of our affairs in 

the Crimea," and all such things. There is great satisfaction at the czar's 

death, and not the same respect paid by the court here that there was in 

France. Mr. Appleton, our new Secretary, has arrived, and will be presented 

to her Majesty on Monday. On Thursday, the 29 th, will be the first 

drawing-room. I shall not go. It will not be a full one, as it comes before 

. and it is rumored that the Emperor and Empress of the French are 

' in April. Unless required to present Americans, I shall not go to 

ban two this year. It is so expensive — one cannot wear the same dress 

There are usually four during the season. 

T have given up all idea of returning home before June, and most likely not 

does in October; but I highly approve of your plan to pay us a 

ipon our return. As to my going to California, you know how I should 



SOCIAL POSITION IN ENGLAND. 145 

like it for your sake, but uncle would never hear of my taking such a journey 
It is different with you ; you return to see every one 

April 20th, 1855. 

I have yours of February 28th, and am delighted to hear you are so snug 
and comfortable. Uncle positively talks of my return in June, and he has 
really been so good and kind that if he thinks it best, I must not oppose it. 
He is not going to charge me with any money I have drawn, makes me a 
present of my visit here, and has gratified me in every thing. He gives up 
his house on the 7th of July, and will go to some place in the country, near 
London. If he kept it until October, he would have to pay for several months 
more, and it will economize a little to give it up — every thing is so enormous 
here. I hope you have better luck about getting to church, as I think you 
have been living very like a heathen. Much obliged for the postage stamps. 
There are some alterations in the postage law lately ; every thing must be 
prepaid. 

The emperor and empress arrived here on Monday last, and went imme- 
diately to Windsor. All London is mad with excitement and enthusiasm, and 
wherever they move throngs of people follow them. Yesterday they came 
to Buckingham Palace, and went into the city to be present at a magnificent 
entertainment at Guildhall. There never was such a crowd seen. In the 
afternoon at five they received the diplomatic corps at the French Embassy, 
and I had a long talk with her Majesty, who was most gracious and affable. 
She is very striking, elegant and graceful. She wore a green silk, flounced to 
the waist with seven or eight white lace flounces, white lace mantle, and 
white crape bonnet and feathers. We go to the palace to-night to an evening 
party, and there I shall even have a better opportunity of seeing them. I 
was disappointed in the emperor's appearance — he is very short. Last night 
they accompanied the queen, in state, to the opera, and there was a grand 
illumination all over the city. I drove out to see it, but there was such a 
crush of carriages, men, women and children, that I was glad to get home. 
They were asking from fifty to one hundred guineas for boxes at the opera, 
and from ten to forty for single stalls. To-morrow the imperial guests depart, 
and London will again return to its sober senses. There does not seem to be 
much gaiety in prospect, but really this visit seems to be the only thing 
thought of. The Masons are not coming to pay me a visit. Betty has gone to 
Nice with her father, for his health. It is said the queen will go to Paris at 
the opening of the exposition in May. Ellen Ward's marriage is postponed 
until the fifth of June, by her father's request. Mr. T. writes he has taken a 
state-room on the Baltic, which was to sail on the 18th. He has talked of 
this visit so long that I would not be surprised to hear it ended in nothing. 
Lu has every thing planned and fixed and destined to take place just as she 
wishes, even that I am to be married in my travelling dress and very quietly. 
I was at the Crystal Palace on Tuesday, which is truly the most fairy-like 
and exquisitely beautiful thing that could be made. The royal party go there 

II.-10 



l4fi LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

The building far exceeds in magnificence the one erecting now in 

M r- has lost his favorite sister, and is in great distress, so I have 

i him for a time. I have made another conquest, who comes in the 

. . every day. He is rich and keeps a yacht, which costs 

2000 a year. Beaux are pleasant, but dreadfully troublesome 

Mat 3d, 1855. 
I have yours, dear sister, of March 16th, and really your account of the 
failures and rascals among your Californians is quite frightful 

Ion is looking up in the way of gaiety, though the war is still a sad 

upon many hearts. Yesterday (Wednesday) I attended the second 

drawing-room of the season. You remember I was not quite well at the 

i 1 did not go. It was a very full and* brilliant one. I wore a pink 
it, over-skirts of pink tulle, puffed, and trimmed with wreaths of 

'.ossoms ; train of pink silk, trimmed with blonde and apple blossoms, 
and so was the body. Head-dress, apple blossoms, lace lappits and feathers.* 

will be one more in celebration of the birth-day on the 19th. Her 
Majesty was very gracious to me yesterday, as was also the prince. On 
-lay next there is to be a state ball at Buckingham Palace, which we 
shall of course attend. On Monday Mrs. Shapter and I ran down to Brighton 
on the sea-side, and returned on Tuesday night. We enjoyed it very much, 
and I am sure the change was beneficial to both. I had two splendid rides 
upon horseback along the water. Mrs. Shapter goes away for a week on 
Saturday, and I shall miss her dreadfully. You have doubtless heard of the 
attempt to assassinate the Emperor Napoleon since his return from London. 
The diplomatic corps are invited to be present at the singing of the Te Deum 
in the chapel of the French Embassy on Sunday next, in celebration of 

the emperor's escape 

I have seen , and he ordered his gardener to send me from the 

country all the roses he had in bloom, for the drawing-room. Preceding the 
box came a sweet little note, which I of course answered in a tender way. 

Mr. , the man of the yacht, is getting quite desperate, as he is ordered 

to join his regiment for a month. He is constantly sending me flowers, and 
after his visit to-day, despatched a magnificent bouquet. He is a very nice 

fellow, and I really am sorry Uncle of course knows and sees 

every one who comes to the house, and places such confidence in me that he 
gives himself no uneasiness. I have as many beautiful flowers now, as my 

* On their return home from that drawing-room, Mr. Buchanan said to his niece : 

person would have supposed you were a great beauty, to have heard the way you 

1 ed of to-day. I was asked if we had many such handsome ladies in America. I 

1. ' Yes, and many much handsomer. She would scarcely be remarked there for her 

' Tiii-- anecdote is taken from a book published at New York in 1870, entitled, 

ip the White House, by Laura Carter Holloway. Deducting a little from the some- 

tuning style in which the biographical sketches in this book are written, it is reliable 

main facts, and it does no more than justice to Miss Lane's attractions and to the high 

i in which she was held in English society. 



SOCIAL POSITION IN ENGLAND. 147 

drawing-room can well hold. I wish I could see you, dear Maye, and hope 
you can come home for a nice long visit when we return. June is still talked 
of for my return. I do not know how it will be. My best love to Mr. B. 



Friday, July 13th, 1855. 

I have not had n letter from you in a long time, and hope " no news is 
good news.'' London is going through the usual routine of balls and parties, 
and has nearly exhausted itself of its yearly labors. Lord Raglan's death has 
been very much felt, and throws many families into mourning. Miss Steiner, 
one of the young ladies who stood bridesmaid with me at Miss Jackson's 
wedding, is now staying with me. She is a sweet girl ; came on Wednesday 
and I think will leave on Monday. Her brother has just returned from 
America, and expresses himself much pleased with all he saw. We have 
dined with the Archbishop of Canterbury since I wrote you, which will please 
Uncle Edward. He lives in Lambeth Palace, the residence of the ancient 
archbishops, and we dined in the grand baronial reception hall. We have 
had two large dinners, and give another next Thursday, which will end our 
large entertainments, I dare say. We went to Oxford the day of the Com- 
memoration, and uncle had conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Civil 
Law. It was most gratifying and agreeable.* The same evening the queen 
gave her last concert, and we were obliged to return to town. The King of 
the Belgians is now on a visit to the queen, and they have all gone to 
Osborne. The season is very nearly over, and I am really glad to be done 

with lengthy dinners and crowded hot balls for a while. I have now 

a man of high position, clever and talented, very rich, and the only fault to 
find is his age, which is certainly great, as he will be sixty next year. He 
has a daughter who is a widow, and I might pass for her daughter. But I 
really like him very much, and know how devoted he would be. I should 
have everything to my heart's best satisfaction, and go home as often as I 
liked. But I will write no more about it 

Uncle is well and has passed this season remarkably well. I have partially 
engaged a state-room for August 25th, but scarcely think I will go then. The 
steamers are going so full now that it is necessary to engage a long time 
before. 

We have been giving Friday evening receptions since June 15th, and next 
Friday, the 20th, will be the last ; we have had six. I hear the exhibition in 
Paris is improving, and that will bring even more Americans. As Miss 
Steiner and I are going out, I must stop writing and get ready. How con- 
stantly I wish for you, and trust, dear sister, whether I return to America or 



* This mention of the Commemoration Day at Oxford, where Mr. Buchanan, along with 
the poet Tennyson, received the degree of D. C. L., does not do justice to the scene. The 
students, after their fashion, greeted Miss Lane's appearance with loud cheers, and on her 
uncle they bestowed their applause vociferously. 



14g LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

. in England, that it will not be many months before I see you once 
I . . to Mr. B. and yourself, from 

Your ever affectionate 

Hattie. 

[to mrs. baker ] 

London, October 6, 1854. 
My Dear Mart: — 

1 .ived your letter in due time, of the 14th July, and should have an- 
swered it long ere this, but that I knew Harriet wrote to you regularly. I 
wrote to you soon after my arrival in London, but you have never acknowl- 
I i hat letter, and as you have said nothing about it in yours of the 14th 
July, I fear it has miscarried. 

If I do not write often it is not because you are not freshly and most kindly 
remembered. Indeed I feel great anxiety about your health and prosperity, 
i rejoiced that you appear to be happy in San Francisco. You are 
often, very often, a subject of conversation between Harriet and myself. 

We set out for Belgium to-morrow, where I have important public business 
to transact. I take Harriet along to enable her to see a little of the continent, 
and I may perhaps have time to accompany her along the Rhine. 

I cannot be long absent, because the business of this legation is incessant, 
important, and laborious. 

Thank God ! I have been enjoying my usual health here, and am treated 
as kindly as I could have expected. And yet I long to return home, but 
must remain nearly another year to fulfill my engagement with the President 
when I most reluctantly consented to accept the mission. Should a kind 
Providence prolong my days, I hope to pass the remnant of them in tran- 
quillity and retirement at Wheatland. I have been kindly treated by the 
world, but am heartily sick of public life. Besides a wise man ought to desire 
to pass some time in privacy before his inevitable doom 

I hope to be able to take Harriet on a short visit to Paris before her 
return to the United States. I have but little time to write to-day after my 
despatches, and determined not to let another post for California pass with- 
out writing. Remember me kindly to Mr. Baker, and believe me to be with 
warm and sincere affection and regard Your uncle, 

James Buchanan. 

[to miss lane in paris.] 

London, November 10, 1854. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

I do not regard the article in the Pennsylvanian ; but if Mr. Tyson has 
•ally become a "know-nothing," this would be a different matter. It would 
at, in some degree, modify the high opinion which I had formed of him 
from his general character and his known ability. 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 110 

I accompanied Mrs. Lawrence to the new lord mayor's banquet last even- 
ing. I got the lady mayoress to substitute her in your place There 

were no ladies of foreign ministers present and none I believe were invited, 
so that there would have been no other mode of introducing you except 
through the lady mayoress. The new lord mayor was exceedingly and 
specially civil to me. 

I wish you to make out your visit to Paris. We can get along without 
you here, though you may think this impossible. Mr. Welsh informs me that 
Mr. Mason will accompany you home ; at this I should be greatly rejoiced. 
The news, I fear, is too good to be true. Much pleasure as it would afford 
me to see him, and have him under my roof, I do not wish this unless he 
desires to pay me a visit of some duration, and see the wonders of London. 
If it be merely to accompany you and nothing more, it would be another 
matter. This would be carrying civility too far. 

If I have felt anxious about you, just consider the unaccountable marriages 
which and have both made. 

Many of your friends make kind inquiries after you. With my kindest 
regards to Mr. and Mrs. Mason and the family, I remain, 

Yours affectionately, etc. 

London, Jan. 20, 1855. 

I have received yours of yesterday. In answer I say, do just as you please 
and then you will please me best. I desire that whilst you remain in Eng- 
land, you should enjoy yourself prudently and discreetly in the manner most 
agreeable to yourself. If you desire it, there can be no objection to a visit to 
Miss Hargreaves. 

I send the letters received by' the last steamer. I got one myself from Mr. 
Macalester who says, " Please to say to Miss Harriet that ' Job ' will be out 

in the spring, provided the gentleman is disposed of (as he could wish) 

in the interim." 

For my part, my impressions are favorable to " Job," although I consider 
him rather a cold lover to wait for a whole year. He does not know that you 
will be home in the spring, and that he may spare himself the voyage, nor 
did I so inform Mr. Macalester. 

I dine to-day " en famille " with General D'Oxholme. With my regards to 
all, I remain, Yours affectionately, etc. 

January 31, 1855. 

In regard to Miss Hargreaves, our loves are mutual. I admire 

her very much. Return her my love, with all my heart ; but alas ! what 
signifies the love of a man nearly sixty-four. 

I have accepted Mr. Atkinson's invitation both for you and myself. 



lM LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

August 18, 1855. 
a letter to you from Mr. H. Randall which I opened, seeing that 
tester, and believing it was about the shawls. I have sent 

mentioned in the letter as requested to Messrs. & Co., 

. Mr. Randall where you are, and that you would not be in London 
m iday the 27th instant 

DO news of any consequence. I dined yesterday with Sir Richard 

I al ill-' Traveller's Club, and we had a pleasant time of it. I shall 

.i again at dinner on Tuesday next at Count Lavradio's, to Avhich 

also invited. 

SirB chard is a sensible man. He has absolutely resigned, and has only 

,1 upon to attend the coronation of the young king of Portugal 

: itish -Minister. He will be back from Lisbon in October. He says he 

is determined not to wear out his life from home, but pass the remnant of his 

- anion- his relatives and friends in Ireland. I am persuaded he has not 

least idea of marrying a young wife, though younger than Sir F. He 

horn in '97 and Sir F. in '96. I am in favor of a considerable disparity 

•. veil the ages of husband and wife for many reasons, and should be es- 

.lly so in your case. Still I do not think that your husband ought to be 

more than double your age. 

August 20, 1855. 
I enclose you a number of letters, including all received by the " Atlantic." 
There is one, I presume, from Lady Ouseley. I wrote to her and informed 
■ ■ circumstances of your visit to the Isle of Wight, and your intention 
t i pass some time with me at the Star and Garter before proceeding to Lan- 
cashire, and our intention then to visit them and Miss Gamble. 

irn by a letter from John H. Houston that poor Jessie is very ill of a 
typhoid fever, and her recovery doubtful, to say the least. Brother Edward 
for, and was expected. 
I have received instructions from Governor Marcy on the Central American 
questions, which render it almost morally certain that from their nature they 
cannot be executed before the 30th of September ; with declarations that I 
the most proper person, etc., etc., etc., to carry them into effect, and not a | 
! about my successor. Indeed, Mr. Hunter, the chief clerk, writes me as 
mder date of August 6th : "I hear nothing as to who is to be your 
<: . It is no doubt a difficult question to decide." 

August 23, 1855. 

I know nothing at present which will prevent me from accompanying Mr. 

ton to the Isle of Wight. Why should I not occasionally take " a 

as well as Mr. Shapter ? You may, therefore, secure me a room in the 

this be deemed necessary. I shall be there some time on Satur- 

Till then, farewell ! 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 151 

August 28, 1855. 

I opened a letter for you from Glasgow. It is dated on the 2-itb, and 
announces the sending of the two shawls — "grey centre, with black and 
scarlet border." They have not yet been received, neither had those I returned 
been received. 

There was no letter for you by the " Asia." I send the three last Heralds. 
Poor Mr. Lawrence had been given up.* There were no longer any hopes of 
his recovery. Col. L. is still in Paris. His brother and lady arc, I under- 
stand, in London, and will leave for home by the " Arago," from Southamp- 
ton, to-morrow. 

I had not a word from Washington, official or unofficial — nothing about 
poor Jessie. We had a very pleasant time on our return from Black Gang 
Chine, and indeed throughout our excursion. The Shanklin Chine is much 
more picturesque than the Black Gang affair. No news. 

Miss Lane returned to the United States shortly before the 
date of this letter. 

London, October 12, 1S55. 
Mr Dear Harriet : — 

I have been watching the weather since you departed, and it has been a3 
favorable as I could have desired. If the winds and the waves have been as 
propitious as my wishes and my hopes induce me to believe, you will have 
had a delightful voyage. Good luck to you on your native soil 1 I miss you 
greatly ; but know it was for your good that you should go home in this 
delightful weather, instead of encountering a winter passage. 

Every person I meet has something kind to say of you. You have left a 
good name behind, and that is something, but not more than you deserve. 

Poor Lady Ouseley has lost her son. I have not seen her since this sad 
event, but of course have called. 

I have met Lady Chan trey, Mrs. Shapter, the D'Oxholmes, etc., etc., but 
need not repeat what they said. 

Sir Henry Holland called on Wednesday immediately after his return, and 
expressed both sorrow and disappointment that he had not seen you before 
your departure. He desired me to present you his kindest regards, and says, 
God willing, he will call upon you next summer in the United States. 

Take good care not to display any foreign airs and graces in society at 
home, nor descant upon your intercourse with titled people : — but your own 
good sense will teach you this lesson. I shall be happy on my return to learn 
that it has been truly said of you, " she has not been a bit spoiled by her visit 
to England." 

I forgot to tell you I had seen the good duchess, who said many extravagant 
things about j r ou. 

* The Honorable Abbot Lawrence, of Boston. 



..., LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

1 • ► ■- 

I received a letter from Mrs. Plitt by the last steamer, directed to you, with 
m that if you had left I might open and read and then burn it; all 

lone * ^ i s 'i * 

Miss Hetty by the Southampton steamer on Wednesday last, 

two of the Posts. ■ 

I give up the house towards the end of the month. Mr. Appleton 
es your room, and renders himself quite agreeable. 

I have not seen Grey* since you left; but she says she did put up your 
slippers in the black bag. I shall make it a point to see her and talk with her 
before she finally leaves the house. She has been absent, but is backwards 
and forwards. 

I heard nothing from Washington by the last steamer respecting myself. I 
shall present my letter of recall, and take leave of the queen soon after it 
arrives. As you know, I am heartily tired of my position. But what then ? 
I do not wish to arrive in the United States before the meeting of Congress. I 
am uncertain what I shall do, but will always keep you advised, having confl- 
uence that you will not talk about my intended movements 

Louis Napoleon at the present moment wields more real power than ever 
his great uncle did. All the potentates in Europe dread him, and are paying 
court to him. He has England in leading strings nearly as much as Sardinia. 
How have the mighty fallen ! 

Mr. Ward came to the legation to take leave of you a few moments after 
you left on Friday morning. Consols have been falling, falling continually for 
the last week, and this makes him melancholy. 

Shapter promised to write by the steamer. She has arranged the 
account you left with her in a satisfactory manner. She has not yet sent her 
letter, which I shall transmit by the bag. 

Mrs. Lawrence called this morning to take leave of me. She appears to be 
much rejoiced at the prospect of getting home. 

October 19, 1855. 

Whilst I write, I congratulate myself with the belief that under the blessing 
of Providence, you are again happily in your native land and among kind 
friends. The passage of the Baltic from New York to Liverpool was one of 
the smoothest and most agreeable ever made. Hence we have every 
reason to believe that the Atlantic enjoyed the same favorable weather. 

I had a very pretty note from Mrs. Sturgis on the 15th instant, presenting 
me with a water melon, in which she says: " I was sorry not to say 'good 
to Miss Lane in person, but we did not forget to drink her health and a 
prosperous voyage, and we feel how very much we shall miss her and 
her praises another season.t" Of course I answered this note in a proper 
matin 

The good but eccentric duchess always speaks of you in terms of warm 
and regard, and sends her kindest love. 

* Mi;s Lane's English maid. t Mrs. Russell Sturgis. 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 153 

Mr. and Mrs. Alston, of South Carolina, and Mr. Elliott, the Commissioner 
of that State at the Paris Exhibition, passed last Sunday evening with us. 
She is a superior woman, and withal quite good looking and agreeable. 

I received the enclosed letter from Mary to you on Monday last, by the 
Baltic. Knowing from unmistakable signs that it came from Mary, I opened 
it merely to ascertain that she was well. I purposely know but little of its 
contents. I wrote to her yesterday, and invited her to pay us a visit next 
spring, offering to pay the expenses of her journey. I suggested that it 
would scarcely be worth her while to pay us a visit for less than a year, and 
that in the mean time, Mr. Baker's expenses would be much reduced, and he 
would have an opportunity of arranging his affairs. 

Doctor and Mrs. Le Vert, formerly Miss Octavia Walton, are now here. 
Strangely enough, I had never met her before. She is sprightly, talkative and 
animated, but does not seem to understand the art of growing old gracefully. 
I shall make a favorable impression on her, I trust, by being a good listener. 
I have not seen her daughter, but they are all to be with me some evening 
before their departure, which will be in the Arago on the 24th instant. 

I have not received my letter of recall, and entertain but little hope that it 
will be sent before General Thomas shall reach Washington, I will keep you 
advised. I dine to-day with General D'Oxholme. 

The repulse of the Russians at Kars astonishes me. The Turks and the 
French have acquired the glory of the present war. Our mother England i3 
rather upon the background. 

Sir William and Lady Ouseley are most deeply affected by the loss of their 
son. I saw her last night for the first time since the sad event, and most 
sincerely sympathized with her. She became calmer after the first burst of 
grief was over, and talked much about you. On request of Sir William I 
write to-day to Mrs. Roosevelt, giving her the sad information. 

Lady Stafford requests me by letter to give you her warmest regards, and 
to tell you she hopes Heaven will bless you both in time and eternity. 

Mrs. Shapter looks delicate. I saw her yesterday. She said she would 
write, but I have not yet received her letter. Should it come, I shall send it 
by the despatch bag. 

October 26, 1S55. 

I have but little time to write before the closing of the mail, having been 
much and unexpectedly engaged to-day. 

Almost every person I meet speaks kindly of you. I dined with Lady, 
Talbot de Malahido on Tuesday last, and she desired me specially to send you 
her kindest love. Doctor, Madame and Miss Le Vert passed last Sunday evening 
with me. She is a most agreeable person. I think it right to say this of her, 
after what I wrote you in my last letter. 

I dine to-day with Lady Chantrey, where I am to meet Dr. Twiss. 

Grey left yesterday morning on a visit to her relatives in Devonshire. I 
made her a present of a sovereign to pay her expenses there, besides paying 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

1 • i ■ 

wages. I have enlisted Lady Chantrey warmly in her favor, and 
I , may procure a place. 

I 1 by the last steamer a private letter from Governor Marcy, in 

answer to mine requesting my letter of recall. He informs me it had been 

| was then on its way. There is something mysterious in the matter 

, I cannot explain. It has not yet arrived, though it ought to have 

e before your departure. Before that, I had received despatches 

109 and 111. Despatch No. 110— the intermediate one— has not yet 

come to hand. I presume my letter of recall was in the missing despatch. I 

have my own suspicions, but these do not attach to Governor Marcy. His 

frank and friendly, and was evidently written in the full convic- 

iliat I would have received my recall before his letter could reach me. 

Some people are very anxious to delay my return home. 

the aspect of things has changed. The British government has 
recently sent a considerable fleet to our coasts, and most inflammatory and 
absurd articles in reference to the object of this fleet have appeared in the 
Times, the Globe, and the Morning Post. I have no doubt they will be 
republished all over the United States. The aspect of affairs between the 
two countries has now become squally ; and Mr. Appleton will not consent to 
remain here as charge till the new minister arrives. In this he is right ; and 
consistently with my honor and character, I could not desert my post under 
such circumstances. I may, therefore, be compelled to remain here until the 
end of December, or even longer. This will depend on the time of the 
appointment of my successor, which may not be until the meeting of Con- 
gress. It is possible that Hr. Appleton may return home by the Pacific on 
the 3d November. He is very anxious I should consent to it, which, how- 
ever, I have not yet done. 

I trust I may hear of your arrival at home by the Pacific on to-morrow. 

The foggy and rainy weather has commenced, and the climate is now dreary. 

Mr. ami Mrs. John Wurts, of New York, passed the evening with me yester- 

. He is an old friend and she an agreeable lady. They will return by the 

Pacific. 

November 9th, 1855. 
I have received your favors of the 21st and 22d October. I thank Heaven 
that you have arrived at home in health and safety. The weather since your 
jlure has been such as you know prevails at this season, and London has 

even too dull for me, and this is saying much for it. 

I received my letter of recall, dated on the 11th September, last Monday, 

distant, with an explanation from Governor Marcy of the mistake 

which had occasioned its delay. Had this been sent on the 11th September, 

I might with all convenience have accompanied you home, either on the 6th 

or, at latest, on the 20th October. 

which has been raised in England in regard to the relations 
bi twe< a the two countries renders it impossible that I should leave the lega- 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 155 

tion at the present moment. Mr. Appleton has at length reluctantly consented 
to remain until my departure, and this relieves me from much embarrassment. 
I now hope to be at home early in January, but this for the present you had 
better keep to yourself. I may in the meantime probably visit Paris. 

I regret that such unfounded reports respecting Mr. Mason's health should 
reach the United States. 

You speak to me concerning the Presidency. You of all other persons 
best know that even if there were no other cogent reasons, the state of my 
health is not such as would enable me to undergo the intense anxiety and 
fatigue incident to wearing that crown of thorns. Of course I wish nothing 
said about the state of my health. 

My friends in Pennsylvania constitute the ablest and most honest portion 
of the Democratic party. They now have the power in their own hands, and 
they ought, for their own benefit, not mine, to take care that Pennsylvania 
shall be represented by proper persons in the national convention. They can, 
if they will, exert such a powerful influence as to select the best man for the 
country from among the list of candidates, and thus take care of themselves. 
This would be my advice to them, were I at home. I hope they may follow 
it. As far as I can learn, President Pierce is daily growing stronger for a 
renomination. 

I enclose you a note which I have received from the Duchess of Somerset. 

I know not whether Mrs. Shapter will write to you to-day. I communi- 
cated your kind messages, with which she appeared to be much gratified, and 
spoke of you most affectionately. 

You will be gratified to learn that Sir do?s not bear rnalice. Mr. 

Bedinger in writing to me from Copenhagen on the 4th instant, says : " I saw 

them both several times. Sir • and his charming niece (for so I found 

her), told me much of yourself and your charming niece, who they said had 
recently left you for America." 

I have a very long despatch for to-day, and must bid you adieu. May 
God be with you to protect and direct you. Be prudent and circumspect and 
cautious in your communications to others. There are very few people in the 
world who can keep a secret. They must tell or burst. 

November 16th, 1855. 

I have received your favor of the 30th ultimo, per the Atlantic. 

General "Webb's advice is likely to be followed, very much against my own 
will. I am now in the midst of the storm, and my sense of duty leaves me 
no alternative but to remain at my post until the danger shall have passed 
away, or until President Pierce shall think proper to appoint my successor. 
Mr. Appleton goes home by this steamer. The President had sent him a 
commission as charge ad interim, to continue from my departure until the 
arrival of my successor. I resisted his importunities to go home as long as I 
could, but the last letter from his wife was of such a character that I could 
no longer resist. He is a perfect secretary, as well as an excellent friend. He 



1Vi LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

has been in the house with me since your departure, and I shall not now give 
the house up for the present. The little cook has done very well. 

3ume that ere this you know that Colonel Forney has come out openly 
in fa\ or of the renomination of General Pierce. You know that I considered 
lost unavoidable. General Pierce placed him in the Union, and has 
maintained him there and afforded him the means of making a fortune. 
| lie is the editor of the President's official journal. Under these cir- 

cumstances he could not well have acted otherwise, and I do not blame him 
for it. Still he will be severely attacked, and in self-defence will be obliged to 
come out and say that he has acted thus because I had determined not to 
become a candidate for nomination before the national convention; and this 
defence will be nothing more than the truth. This will possibly j>lace Mr. 
and General Pierce as rival candidates before the Democracy of Penn- 
sylvania, which might prove unfortunate. But still be quiet and discreet and 
say nothing. 

If I had any views to the Presidency, which I have not, I would advise 
you not to remain longer in Philadelphia than you can well avoid. A large 
portion of my friends in that city are bitterly hostile to those whom you must 
necessarily meet there. I presume, without knowing, that Governor Bigler 
will be the candidate of the administration for the Senate. 

Laily Ouseley desires me to send you her kindest love, and I believe she 
entertains for you a warm affection. I have not seen her to deliver your mes- 
sage since the receipt of your letter. Lady Alice Peel, Lady Chantry and 
others send their kind regards. I dine with Mrs. Shapter to-morrow. 

I shall write by the present steamer to James Henry to come out here 
immediately, as I may be detained uutil January or February, and I shall 
want some person to be in the house with me. Could I have foreseen what 
has come to pass, I might have been selfish enough to retain you here. I can 
ly see the paper for a " yellow fog." I wish you could call to see John 
G. Brenner and his wife. 

Give my love to brother Edward and his family. 

November 23d, 1855. 
I have received your favors of the 5th and 6th instants, and immediately 
posted your letters to the duchess, Lady Ouseley and Miss Hargreaves. 

The weather here has been even more disagreeable than usual for the sea- 
son, and I have had a cough and clearing of the throat exactly similar to your 
own hist winter. I have not used any remedies for it, and it is now, thank 
<i, passing away. Since Mr. Appleton left, I have got Mr. Moran to 
sleep in the house with me. 

Lady Ouseley has been quite unwell, but she was able to ride out in my 

carriage yesterday She says, " when you write to Miss Lane, 

pray give her my best love, with many thanks for her kind note, which I will 
.as soon as I am better." 
In a letter from Mrs. Roosevelt, dated on the 13th ultimo, in which, after 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 157 

mentioning that she had learned your intention to return home, she invites 
you to make her house your home while in New York, etc., etc. I have 
written to her to-day, thanking her for her kind invitation, and expressing the 
desire that you should know each other hetter. 

I agree with you in opinion that Mr. is not the man to succeed in 

public life, or in captivating such fastidious ladies as yourself; but yet I have 
no doubt he is a good and amiable man, as he is certainly well informed. 
Much allowance ought to be made for wounded vanity. But I admit I am no 

judge in these matters, since you inform me that Mr. has been the 

admiration of Philadelphia ladies. 

Mr. A' an Dyke does not properly appreciate Mr. Tyler. I like them both 
very much, as well as their wives. 

Van Dyke is able, grateful, energetic and influential, and should he take 
care of himself, will yet win his way to a high position. 

Do not forget to present my love to Lily Macalester and my kind regards 
to her father and Mrs. Lathrop. 

I know of no news here which would interest you much. A few dinner 
parties are now given, to which I have been invited. I dine to-day with 
Monckton Milnes, and on Tuesday next with Sir Henry and Lady Holland. 

Many kind inquiries are still made about you. I wish you would inform 
Eskridge without delay that I attach great importance to the immediate trans- 
fer of the Michigan Central Eailroad stock about which I wrote to him by the 
last steamer. I hope, however, that ere this can reach you he will have 
attended to this business. 

In one respect, at least, I am now deemed a man of great importance. In 
the present uneasy condition of the stock exchange, an incautious word from 
me would either raise or sink the price of consols. 

I see much of Mr. Ward, and he is thoroughly American in our present 
difficulties. This has raised him much in my estimation. 

London, November 2, 1855. 

I have but truly a moment to write to you. We did not learn your arrival 
by the Pacific, which I had expected with much interest. 

Lord Clarendon told me yesterday that the queen had expressed her regret 
not to have seen you before your departure. He said she had heard you 

were to marry Sir , and expressed how much she would have been 

gratified had you been detained in England. We had some talk about the 
disparity of your ages, which I have not time to repeat, even if it were worth 

repeating. I said it was supposed Sir was very rich. " Yes," he 

said, " enormously." 

There is a great muss here at present about the relations between the two 
countries, but I think it will all eventually blow over and may do good. 
Everybody is now anxious to know something about American affairs ; and 
both in the press and the public we have many powerful defenders against 
the measures adopted by Lord Palmerston's government. 



..« LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

LOO 

November 30, 1855. 
| your favor of the 12th instant from Lancaster. Ere this 
. Mr. Appleton will have seen you and told you all about my 
| ave but little to say to you of any consequence. 

ie ss two or three days ago, and she spoke in raptures, as is 
,;t, about your " beautiful letter " and yourself. She begged me to say 
to you she would soon answer it. 

; deliver vour message to Mrs. Sturgis as soon as she shall appear in 

after her confinement Among the ancient Jews 

ould have been considered a prodigy and a blessing. I like her very 

much. 

Van Dyke's message is like himself. He is a kind and true-hearted fellow. 
laded, however, he does Tyler injustice. His being for Wise was 
but another reason for being for myself. He had written me several letters 
of a desponding character. He thought the State was going all wrong,— great 
danger of Dallas, etc., and attributed all to my refusal to be a candidate, and 
not returning home at the time I had appointed. 

By the last steamer, however, I received a letter from him of a character 
altogether different 

I shall be anxious to learn what plans you have adopted for the winter. 

The enclosed letter from Lady Chantrey was handed to me by Charles. 
In a hurry I opened it. " Why," said he, " that is to Miss Lane, and was 
brought here from Lady Chantrey." I now take the cover off, and enclose it 
to you, assuring you that I have not read a single word of it 

December 14, 1855. 

I have nothing of interest to communicate by this steamer. The past 
week has been dull, gloomy, and cold for the season. The walks in the park 
are covered with snow, and I find them very slippery. The winter has set 
in with unusual severity, whilst the price of provisions is very high. God 
help the poor in this vast Babel ! Their sufferings will be dreadful. 

Although I have not suffered, either from ennui or despondency, yet I 
shall hail the arrival of James Henry with pleasure. I think it may be of 
service to him to be with me a month or six weeks. 

I am extremely sorry to learn that " Mrs. Plitt's health is very bad." She 
is a woman among a thousand. Most sincerely and deeply do I sympathize 
with her. Give her my kindest love. 

I have heard nothing of the six shawls since your departure, but I have 
already written to Mr. Randall, and requested him to send me the bill, which 
i y as soon as received 

I have received your furs from Mrs. Shapter, and shall send them to New 

York by the "Arago," which will leave Southampton on the 19th instant. 

y are packed in a nice little box directed to the care of George Plitt, 

E I shall, through Mr. Croshey, get Captain Lines himself to take 

of them and pay the duty. Please to so arrange it that some friend at 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 159 

New York may be ready to receive them and refund him the duty which he 
may have paid. 

I have again inadvertently opened a letter addressed to you which I 
enclose, and I assure that I did not read a single word in it, except " My 
dearest Hattie." I can, therefore, only guess who is the writer. 

I started out yesterday and paid three very agreeable visits to the Countess 
Bernsdorff, Lady Pahnerston, and the Duchess of Somerset. I found them 
all at home, and had a nice little chat with each. The duchess told me Lord 
Panmure had been with her, and had been quite extravagant in his praises of 
what he termed my able, friendly, and discreet conduct in the late difficulties 
between the two countries. But for me, he said, these might have produced 
serious consequences. The duchess, as usual, spoke extravagantly in your 
praise, and desired her love to you. 

I presume that Mrs. Lane and yourself have had a fine time of it hearing 
Rachel. She is quite competent to understand and appreciate the bcautie3 
of French tragedy. However this may be, she possesses as much knowledge 
in this line as thousands of others who will be quite enraptured with Rachel's 
acting. I am glad you are on good and friendly terms with her. . . . From 
present appearances the war will end before the spring. This will be the 
case should the czar accept the terms suggested by Austria and consented to 
by the allies. 

December 21, 1855. 

Since the date of my last letter I have received the news of the death of 
poor Mary.* I need not inform you of my devoted attachment to her, and 
she deserved it all. Poor girl ! she had her own troubles, and she bore them 
all with cheerful patience. She is now at rest, I trust, in that heavenly home 
where there is no more pain and sorrow. Her loss will make the remainder 
of my residence here, which I trust may be brief, dreary and disconsolate. 

How happy I am to know that you are with Mrs. Plitt ! She has a warm 
heart, and a fine intellect, and will, better than any other person, know how 
to comfort and soothe you in your sorrow. I am thankful that you are now 
at home. 

With Mrs. Plitt's kind letter to me came that from Mrs. Speer to you, and 
one from Lieutenant Beale to myself. I shall always gratefully remember his 
kindness and that of his wife. His letter was just what it ought to have been. 
I wrote to Mrs. Plitt from Southampton by the " Arago," which left on 
Wednesday last. 

The death of poor Mary has been your first serious sorrow, because you 
were too young to feel deeply the loss of your parents. Ere this can reach 
you a sufficient time will have elapsed for the first natural overflowings of sor- 
row. I would not have restrained them if I could. It is now time that they 
should moderate, and that you should not mourn the dead at the expense of 
your duties to the living. This sad event ought to teach you the vanity of all 
things human and transitory, and cause you to fix your thoughts, desires, and 

* Mrs. Baker. 



1G0 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



on that Being with whom " there is no variableness or shadow of 

taming." This will not render you gloomy, but will enable you the better to 

. all the duties of life. In all calamitous events we ought to say 

emphatically: "Thy will be done." At the last, all the proceedings of a 

ua Providence will be justified in another and a better world, and it is 

duty here to submit with humble resignation. Although my course of life 

has been marked by temporal prosperity, thanks be to Heaven, yet I have 

erienced heart-rending afflictions, and you must not expect to be exempt 

from the common lot of humanity. I have not seen Mrs. Shapter, but I sent 

her Mr. Beale's letter, which she returned with a most feeling note. She, also, 

wrote to you by the " Arago." 

You will know sooner in the United States than I can at what time I shall 
be relieved. I shall now expect to hear by the arrival of every steamer that 
my successor has been appointed. Should he arrive here within a month or 
six weeks, I still have an idea of running over to the continent ; but I have 
yet determined upon nothing. I have a great desire to be at home. 

December 28, 1855. 

I have received your favor of the 11th instant with the copy of Mr. Baker's 
r, which I have read with deep interest. I wrote to you last week on 
the subject of poor Mary's death, which I deeply deplore. I hope that ere 
this can reach you your mind will have been tranquillized on that sad event. 
It would have been wrong, it would have been unnatural, had you not ex- 
pi rienced anguish for the loss of so good, kind-hearted, and excellent a sister. 

Still, the loss is irreparable, grief is unavailing, and you have duties to per- 
form towards yourself as well as your friends. To mourn for the dead at the 
expense of these duties would be sinful. We shall never forget poor Mary, her 
memory will always be dear to us ; but it is our duty to bow with submission 
to the will of that Being in whose hands are the issues of life and death. You 
know what a low estimate I have ever placed upon a woman without religious 
principles. I know that in your conduct you are guided by these principles, 
more than is common in the fashionable world ; but yet if this melancholy 
dispensation of Providence should cause you to pay more attention than you 
have done to "the things which pertain to your everlasting peace," this 
would be a happy result. I have lost many much-loved relatives and friends ; 
but though age becomes comparatively callous, I have felt and feel deeply 
the loss of Mary and Jessie. Poor Jessie! She died breathing my name 
with her devotions. What can I do— what shall I do for her children ? 

I end by the bag to the department a letter from the duchess, to whom, I 
believe, I have not mentioned our loss. 

ir William and Lady Ouseley dined with me a few days ago. There were 
no persons present except ourselves. She sincerely sympathizes with you. 
I "'-ins to produce its healing influence on her grief, though both she and 
W illiam have been sadly cast down by their calamity. 

James Henry £.aiv..'d here on Christmas evening after a passage of three 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 101 

weeks which he evidently enjoyed. He talks to Mr. Ward knowingly about 
every part of a sailing vessel. His plan of travel is quite extensive, far too 
much so for the sum he intends to expend. I shall gradually cut it down 
to more reasonable limits. 

No news yet of the appointment of my successor, notwithstanding the 
efforts of Mr. Appleton. I have not received the President's message, but 
expect it on Monday with much anxiety. Should I then hear nothing of a 
successor or secretary of legation, I shall give them formal notice that I will 
present my letter of recall on a particular day ; and should no person arrive in 
the meantime, that I will leave the legation in charge of General Campbell. 

January 4, 185G. 
I have received yours of the 17th ultimo, and am pained to learn that you 
neither see your friends nor take exercise since your return to Philadelphia. 
Your grief for poor Mary's death, or at least the manifestation of it, exceeds all 
reasonable limits, and I am truly sorry that you have not more self-command. 
Although I know it is sincere, and it ought to be deep, yet you ought to 
recollect that the world are severe censors. 

In regard to the bringing of dear Mary's remains from San Francisco to Lan- 
caster or Franklin county, I have not a word to say. This must be left to her 
nearer relatives. She sleeps as sweetly on the distant shores of the Pacific as 
she could do on any other spot of earth, and her disembodied spirit will be 
equally near to you wherever you may wander. Still I know it is a sort of 
instinct of nature to desire to have the tombs of our friends near us; and 
even if I had any right to object, I should not exercise it. Do as you please, 
and I shall be content 

James Henry is with me very busy and persevering in sight-seeing. I am 
sorry I do not feel it proper to detain him with me. The carnival comes so 
early this year that he must soon be off, as he intends to take Naples en route 
to Rome. I get along very well with Mr. Moran, though the labor is too 
great for one man to perform. In truth I cannot answer all the letters I 
receive, and attend to my appropriate duties. I shall, however, endeavor to 
write you a few lines every week. Friends still inquire after you with great 
kindness. 

January II, 1856. 

I have received your favor of the 25th ultimo, together with an agreeable 
little note from Mrs. Plitt, for which give her my thanks. 

James Henry left us yesterday afternoon. He had drawn all his plans with 
mathematical precision, and I did not like to mar them. He was to go direct 
to Naples, and be at Rome during the carnival, so that he had but little time. 

He is a calculating, and I think a determined boy He has certainly 

made a favorable impression here on the persons with whom he has been in 
company, especially on Lady Holland. The dinner went off extremely well; 

II.— 11 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

10<W 

some of them said almost as well as if you had been present. As you would 

.My like to know the company, I will tell you : 

M Qe Tricoupi, the Count and Countess de Lavradio, Count 

I Brazilian Minister and Madame Moreiro, the Swedish Minister 

- Bochschild, the Danish Minister and Madame D'Oxholme, Mr. 

and -Mrs. Comyn, Sir Henry and Lady Holland, Lady Talbot de Malahide, 

l;. Monckton Milnes, and J. Buchanan Henry, Esq. 

I ml Colloredo had the commands of the queen, and could not attend. 
Countess Bernstorff was ill. Baron Bentinck had an engagement in the 
country, and so had Mr. and Mrs. Musurus. So you have the list of invita- 
tions as well as of those who attended. I expect to leave the house next 

week. 

I very often think of poor Mary, and shall always cherish her memory with 

lection. I trust that ere this your grief has moderated, and that you 

begin to bear your loss with the philosophy of a Christian, and with humble 

nation to the Divine will. 

James desired me to send his love to you, and say that he would write to 

you from Rome. 

January 25, 1856. 

Without a secretary of legation, I have so much business to transact and so 
many persons to see, that I must give great offence by necessarily failing to 
answer the letters of my friends on your side of the Atlantic. I have not yet 
heard of the appointment of my successor from Washington; but the last 
steamer brought out a report, on which some of the passengers thought 
reliance might be placed, that Governor Toucey either had been or would be 
appointed. It would be difficult to make a better selection. In all this matter, 
they have treated me discourteously and improperly. By every steamer since 
the return of Mr. Appleton to the United States, I had a right to expect news 
of a new appointment. I have written more than once emphatically upon 
the subject, and they are now fully apprised that I shall leave the legation 
next month, and entrust its affairs to General Campbell, should neither minister 
nor secretary in the mean time appear. 

The Central American questions might now, I think, be easily settled with 
any other premier than Lord Palmerston. Since the publication of the cor- 
respondence here and the articles in the Times and Daily News in our favor, 
there would seem to be a general public opinion that we are right. This, I 
think, renders it certain that serious difficulties between the two countries can- 
not grow out of these questions. I enclose you an article from the Morning 
but little calculated to do me good in the United States. What on 
earth could have induced the editor to write such an article is a mystery. So 
regards any effect it may produce upon the Presidency, I feel quite 
indifferent. There is a profound wisdom in a remark of Rochefoucauld, with 
which I met the other day : "Les choses que nous desirons n'arrivent pas, ou, 
si elles arrivent, ce n'est, ni dans le tems, ni de la maniere que nous auraient 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 1C3 

fait le plus de plaisir." I had a letter yesterday from Judge Mason, dated i n 
the 23d, giving ine a pressing and cordial invitation to stay with him when I 
visit Paris. This, I believe, I shall accept, at least for part of my brief visit. 
He is much pleased with Mr. Wise, his new secretary of legation. James B. 
Henry, he says, who took the despatches to him, " remained but a few hours 
in Paris, hurrying to Marseilles to take a steamer for Italy." I have not heard 
from him since he left, nor did I expect to hear so soon. 

Mrs. Shapter has been quite unwell, but is now down-stairs again. I have 
not seen her since the date of my last. 

We had quite an agreeable dinner party at Lord Woodehouse's on Wednes- 
day last. I had a very pleasant conversation with the Countess Persigny, 
who speaks English very prettily, though not yet fluently. She is evidently 
proud of being the grand daughter of Marshal Ney, and well she may be. 
We had quite a ttte a tite. She, or rather the count, has been very civil to 
me of late. The woman-killer, for whom, as you know, I have very little 
respect, and with whom I have had no intercourse for a considerable period, 
seems determined that I shall be on good terms with him. I suffered as usual 
the penalty of this dinner — a sleepless and uncomfortable night. Dinner 
invitations are again becoming numerous, but I shall accept none except from 
those to whom I feel under obligations for past kindness. Your name still 
continues to be mentioned with kindness by your friends and acquaintances. 
I sent the other day by the " Frigate Bird," to Charles Brown, the collector, a 
portrait of the justly celebrated John Hampden, from our friend MacGregor,* 
intended to be presented to Congress, and have requested Mr. Brown to keep 
it for me till my return. I also sent two boxes containing books and different 
articles — one of them champagne and the other wine. These might be sent 
to Eskridge. Please to tell Mr. Plitt about them, who, if he will call on Mr. 
Brown, will hear all about the picture. I have neither room nor time to 
write more. 

February 1st, 1S56. 

I have but little time to write to-day. 

Parliament was yesterday opened by the queen. I need not describe the 
ceremony to you, as you have already witnessed it. What struck me most 
forcibly was the appearance in the diplomatic box of a full-blooded black 
negro as the representative of his Imperial Majesty of Hayti. 

I have received a letter from James Henry, dated at Rome on the 20th 
ultimo Realities never correspond with the expectations of youth. 

I had confidently expected to receive by the Atlantic, whose mails and 
despatch bag have just come to hand, an answer to my last most urgent 
request for the appointment of my successor and the immediate appointment 
of a secretary of legation, but in this I have been disappointed. Not one 
word in relation to the subject 

* James MacGregor, Esq., M. P. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

I wish I bad time to write you more. This steamer will carry a most 
; Mut despatch to Washington. 

February 8tb, 1856. 
Our latest dates from New York are to Saturday, the 19th of January. 
. e had no Collins or Canard steamer during the present week. Since 
3t spell of cold weather, the winter has been open, damp and 
i able. 
1 have gone a good deal into society since the meeting of Parliament, 
Q it is my duty to embrace every opportunity of conversing with influ- 
people here on the relations between the two countries. The Morning 
User has been publishing a series of articles, one stating that high words 
had passed between Lord Clarendon and myself, at the foreign office, and that 
he had used violent expressions to me there ; another that I had, because of 
dined to attend Lady Palmerston's first reception; and a third, which 
I have not seen, that Sir Henry Bulwer and myself had been in conference 
together with a view of settling the Central American questions. Now all 
this is mere moonshine, and there is not a shadow of truth in any one of these 
aents. 
I went to Count Persigny's on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, and had 
an agreeable time of it. There were a number of distinguished persons 
present, though not a crowd. Many kind inquiries were made respecting your- 
self. I dine to-day at Sir Henry Holland's, on purpose to meet Macaulay, 
should his health enable him to be present. On Tuesday at Mr. Butt's, and on 
"Wednesday at Lord Granville's, where there will be a party in the evening. 

I met the " woman-killer " in the ante-chamber of the foreign office 

i . Wednesday last. He now seems determined to be such good friends with 
at in .good manners I must treat him kindly. Knowing my tender 
point, he launched out in your praises, and said such extravagant things of 
you as I could scarcely stand, notwithstanding my weakness on this subject. 
Fortunately for me, before he had concluded, he was summoned to Lord 
□ don, greatly to my relief. 
I think they will hesitate about sending me away, even if Mr. Crampton 
should receive his passports. Mr. Cobden told me the other evening at the 
Preform Club that Mr. Willcox, the member of Parliament from Southampton, 
had said to Lord Palmerston: "Well, you are about to send Buchanan 
away;" and his reply was, "If Buchanan should remain until I send him 
away, lie will be here to all eternity." This, however, is a la mode de Palmers- 
ton, and means but little one way or the other. I only repeat it as one of 
lis jokes, and my hesitation on the subject is not in the slightest degree 
on ti mark. 
I should infer that my Presidential stock is declining in the market. I do 
now receive so many love letters on the subject as formerly, always 
the ever faithful Van Dyke and a few others. Heaven bless them ! 
c the best face has been put on Bigler's election, but still it is an ugly 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 1QS 

symptom. Declining prospects give me no pain. These would rather afford 
me pleasure, were it not for my friends. Pierce's star appears now to be in 
the ascendant, though I think it is not very probable he will be nominate J. 
Heaven only knows who will be the man. 

February 15, 1856. 

Nothing of importance has occurred since I wrote you last. I have been 
out a good deal, deeming it my duty at the present crisis to mingle with influ- 
ential society as much as possible. Everywhere you arc kindly remembered. 
Lord and Lady Stanhope have been very particular in their inquiries about 
you, and say much which it would be gratifying to you to hear. I promised 
to Mr. and Mrs. Butt, that I would transmit you their kind compliments. The 
Duchess of Somerset begged me to say to you, that at the date of her letter 
to you, she had not heard of your affliction. 

I trust that Mr. Dallas may soon make his appearance in London, as I am 

exceedingly anxious to be relieved from my present position 

What will you say to my reconciliation with Governor Bigler ? He addressed 
me such a letter as you have scarcely ever read. It was impossible for me to 
avoid giving it a kind answer. I accepted his overtures, and informed him 
that it would not be my fault if we should not always hereafter remain friend?. 
He had often made advances to me indirectly before, which I always declined. 
This seems to be the era of good feeling in Pennsylvania. Davy Lynch's 
letters, for some months past, have been quite graphic and amusing. He says 
that " the Eleventh hour Buchanan Legion " at Harrisburgh have unanimously 
elected him a member, for which he kindly thanked them, and at the same time 
advised them to work hard and diligently to make up for lost time. They 
responded that their exertions should be directed with a view to throw my old 
fogy friends into the shade. 

Notwithstanding all this, the signs of the times are not very auspicious to 
my experienced eye, and I shall be neither disappointed nor sorry should the 
Cincinnati convention select some other person. It will, however, be always 
a source to me of heartfelt gratification, that, the Democracy of my native 
State have not deserted me in my old age, but have beon true to the last. 

I am truly sorry to hear of Mr. Randall's affliction. He is an able and true 
hearted man, to whom I am much attached. Please to remember me to him 
and Mrs. Randall in the kindest terms. 

Your uncle John has died at a good old age, with a character for integrity 
which he well deserved. He had a kind and excellent heart. As he advanced 
in life, his peculiarities increased, and apparently obscured his merits, in hi3 
intercourse with his relations and friends. But still he possessed them. For 
many years after he came to Lancaster we were intimate friends, and we 
always continued friends. 

I trust that Mr. Dallas may arrive by the next Collins steamer. It is my 
intention to act handsomely towards him. I thank Heaven that a successor 
has at last been appointed. Whether I shall return home soon after his arrivaJ 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

, to the continent I cannot at present determine. On the 18th December 

Mr Randall for the six shawls, and have his bill and receipt. 

rd Granville's dinner on Wednesday, the Marquis of Lansdowne and 

| , | ., ■ v pretty things about you. Colonel Seibels, our minister at 

3 now here with me, and I am delighted to see him. He will remain 

r the queen's levee on the 20th. I shall leave the house on Tuesday 

which day the inventory is to be taken, and shall most probably go 

to the Clarendon. 

February 22, 1856. 
Another week has passed, and I am happy to inform you that you are still 
!y remembered by your friends and acquaintances on this side of the 
Atlantic. I delivered up possession of the house to the agent of Mrs. Lewis 
C n Tuesday morning last, with the exception of the offices, and went to Pen- 
ton's, because I could not obtain comfortable apartments at the Clarendon. I 
retain the offices for the present at the rate of £10 per month, awaiting the 
. A of Mr. Dallas. I earnestly hope he may be here in the Pacific, which 
roected at Liverpool on Wednesday or Thursday next. The two house 
its, on the part of Mrs. Lewis and myself respectively, have been employed 
on the inventory ever since Tuesday morning, and have not yet finished. 

I expect to be all ready, upon the arrival of Mr. Dallas, either to go home 
or go to the continent, according to the then existing circumstances. At 
present I am quite undetermined which course I shall pursue. 

You will see by the Morning Post that I presented Col. Seibels at the levee 
on Wednesday. He paid me a visit for a week, and his society afforded me 
great pleasure. He is both an honorable and agreeable man, as well as a tried 
and sincere friend. I dine with Lord and Lady Palmerston to-morrow, and 
with the Lord and Lady Mayoress on Wednesday, and on Thursday attend 
the wedding of Miss Sturgis and Mr. Coleman at 11 o'clock at the Church of 
'.'St. John, Robin Hood," close to the Robin Hood Gate of Richmond Park. 
Mr. Sturgis's country residence is close to this church. 

I receive letters from home, some of which say, with reference to the Pres- 

ncy, " Come home immediately," and others, " Stay away a while longer." 

ill not regulate my conduct with any view to this office. If it be the will 

of Providence to bestow upon me the Presidency, I shall accept it as a duty, a 

o and a trial, and not otherwise. I shall take no steps to obtain it. 

Mrs. Shapter's health is delicate, and John has been quite unwell. I shall 

not fail to leave her some token of my great regard before I leave London. 

ichly deserves it. 

February 29th, 1856. 

I dined with the queen on Wednesday last, and had a pleasant 

of it. I took the Duchess of Argyle in to dinner, and sat between her 
the princess royal. With the latter I had much pleasant conversation, 
spoke a great deal of you and made many inquiries about you, saying 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 1G7 

how very much pleased she had been with you. The queen also spoke of 
you kindly and inquired in a cordial manner about you. Indeed, it would 
seem you were a favorite of both. There has been a marked and favorable 
change of feeling here within the last month towards the United States. I 
am now made something of a lion wherever I go, and I go much into society 
as a matter of duty. The sentiment and proceeding at the Mansion House 
on Wednesday last were quite remarkable. Perhaps it is just as well I 
received the command to dine with the queen on that day. 

I am yet in ignorance as to the time when Mr. Dallas may be expected to 
arrive. The moment I learn he has arrived in Liverpool, I shall apply for 
my audience of leave and joyfully surrender the legation to him with the 
least possible delay. 

March 7th, 1856. 

I received your two letters of February 15th and 19th on Monday last, on 
my return from Mr. Lampson's, where I went on Saturday evening. Both 
Mr. and Mrs. Lampson talked much and kindly of you, and desired to be 

remembered to you I shall expect Mr. Dallas about the middle 

of next week, and intend soon after his arrival to cross over to Paris. I hope 
to be at home some time in April, but when, I cannot now inform you. 

I am glad to learn that you purpose to go to New York. It was very 
kind in you to jog my memory about what I should bring you from Paris. I 
know not what may be the result. Nous verrons. 

Becky Smith is a damsel in distress, intelligent and agreeable, and a country- 
woman in a strange land. Her conduct in London has been unexceptionable 
and she is making her way in the world. She has my sympathy, and I have 
given her " a lift " whenever I could with propriety. 

I delivered your letter to the Duchess of Somerset on Monday last, and 
she was delighted with it. She handed it to me to read. It was well and 
feelingly written. I was sorry to perceive that you complained of your 
health, but you will, I trust, come out with the birds in the spring, restored 
and renovated. I am pleased with what you say concerning Senator Welsh. 
In writing to me, I think you had better direct to me at Paris, to the care 
of Mr. Mason, giving him his appropriate style, and you need not pay the 
postage ; better not, indeed. But you will scarcely have time to write a 
single letter there before I shall have probably left. I shall continue to 
write to you, but you need not continue to write to me more than once 
after the receipt of this, unless I should advise you differently by the next 
steamer. 

Mr. Bates is quite unwell, and I fear he is breaking up very fast. At the 
wedding of Miss Sturgis the other day, as I approached to take my seat 
beside Madame Van de Weyer, she said : " Unwilling as you may be, you are 
now compelled to sit beside me." Of course I replied that this was no com- 
pulsion, but a great privilege. Mrs. Bates complained much that Mrs 
Lawrence has not written to her. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

March 14, 1S56. 

1 tell you the simple truth when I say I have no time to-day to write to 

■-ill. Mr. Dallas arrived at Liverpool yesterday afternoon, and is to 

re to-morrow at nine for London ; so the consul telegraphed to me. I 

have hoard nothing from him since his appointment. I expect an audience of 

leave from the queen early next week, and shall then, God willing, pass over 

to the continent. 

1 have this morning received your two letters of the 25th and 29th, and 

congratulate you on your arrival in New York. I hope you may have an 

eable time of it. Your letter of the 25th is excellent. I like its tone and 

ier very much and am sorry I have not time to write you at length in 

1 am also pleased with that of the 29th. I send by the bag the 

daguerreotype of our excellent friend, Mrs. Shapter. I have had mine taken 

for her. I think hers is very good. I saw her yesterday in greatly improved 

health and in fine spirits. 

March 18, 1856. 
The queen at my audience of leave on Saturday, desired to be kindly 
remembered to you. 

The Marquis of Lansdowne at parting from me said : " If Miss Lane should 

have the kindness to remember me, do me the honor to lay me at her feet." 

Old Robert Owen came in and has kept me so long that I must cut this 

:• short. I go to Paris, God willing, on Thursday next, in company with 

rs. Campbell and Croshey our consuls. I send a letter from James which 

I have received open. 

Brussels, March 27, 185G. 
I write this in the legation of Colonel Siebels. He and I intend to go to- 
morrow to the Hague on a visit to Mr. Belmont, from which I propose to 
return to Paris on Tuesday or Wednesday next. It is my purpose, God wil- 
ling, to leave for Havre for home in the Arago on Wednesday, the 9th of 
April. I do not believe that a more comfortable vessel, or a better or safer 
captain exists. All who have crossed the Atlantic with him speak in the 
same terms both of his ship and himself. 

I shall return to Mr. Mason's at Paris, because I could not do otherwise 
without giving offence. What a charming family it is. Judge Mason, though 
what disabled, has a much more healthy appearance, and in the face 
resembles much more his former self, than he did when attending the Ostend 
conference. The redness and sometimes blueness of his face .have disappeared, 
and he now looks as he did in former years. 

I shall defer all accounts of my doings on the continent until after we 
meet. I may or I may not write to you once more before embarking. 

You might l.'t Eskridge and Miss Hetty know at what time I shall proba- 
bly be at home, though I do not wish it to be noised abroad. You cannot 
our passage to be less than two weeks. Should I reach my native 
shore on my birth-day, the 23d April, I shall thank God and be content. The 
Arago takes the southern route to keep clear of the ice. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

1856. 

RETURN TO AMERICA — NOMINATION AND ELECTION TO THE PRESIDENCY 
— SIGNIFICANCE OP MR. BUCHANANS ELECTION IN RESPECT TO THE 
SECTIONAL QUESTIONS— PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 

MR. BUCHANAN arrived at New York in the latter part 
of April, 1856, and there met with a public reception 
from the authorities and people of the city, which evinced the 
interest that now began to be everywhere manifested in him as 
the probable future President. With what feelings he himself 
regarded the prospect of his nomination by his party, and his 
election, has appeared from his unreserved communications with 
his friends. That he did not make efforts to secure the nomina- 
tion will presently appear upon other testimony than his own. 
He reached Wheatland in the last week of April, and there 
he remained a very quiet observer of what was taking place in 
the political world. Before he left England, he had been in- 
formed that a Democratic convention of his own State had 
unanimously declared him to be the first choice of the Pennsyl- 
vania Democrats for the Presidency. To this he had made no 
formal or public response ; but on the 8th of June he was 
waited upon by a committee from this convention, and he then 
addressed them as follows : 

Gentlemen : — 

I thank you, with all my heart f for the kind terms in which, under a reso- 
lution of the late Democratic State Convention, you have informed me that 
I am " their unanimous choice for the next Presidency." 

When the proceedings of your convention reached me in a foreign land, 
they excited emotions of gratitude which I might in vain attempt to express. 
This was not because the Democracy of my much-loved State had by their 
own spontaneous movement placed me in nomination for the Presidency, an 
honor which I had not sought, but because this nomination constitutes of 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

• the highest evidence that, after a long course of public services, my public 

been approved by those to whom I am indebted, under Provi- 

al] the offices and honors I have ever enjoyed. In success and in 

the sunshine and in the storm, they have ever been the same kind 

i me, and 1 value their continued confidence and good opinion far 

die highest official honors of my country. 

The duties of the President, whomsoever he may be, have been clearly and 

ably indicated by the admirable resolutions of the convention which you have 

just presented to me, and all of which, without reference to those merely 

•nal to myself, I heartily adopt. Indeed, they met my cordial approba- 

irom the moment when I first perused them on the other side of the 

Atlantic. They constitute a platform broad, national, and conservative, and 

one eminently worthy of the Democracy of our great and good old State. 

These resolutions, carried into execution with inflexibility and perseverance, 
precluding all hope of changes, and yet in a kindly spirit, will ere long allay 
the dangerous excitement which has for some years prevailed on the subject 
of domestic slavery, and again unite all portions of our common country in 
the ancient bonds of brotherly affection, under the flag of the Constitution and 
the Union. 

The Democratic National Convention assembled at Cincin- 
nati soon afterwards, and from a gentleman who was present, 
although not a member of the body — my friend, Mr. S. L. M. 
Barlow of New York — I have received an account of what took 
place, which I prefer to quote rather than to give one of my 
own. which could only be compiled from the public journals of 
the time: 

In February, 1856, I was in London, with a portion of my family, and had 
lugs at Fenton's Hotel, St. James Street. Shortly after I reached Lon- 
don, Mr. Buchanan, who was then our minister at the court of St. James, 
gave up his own residence and came to the same hotel with us, where for 
some weeks he remained, taking his meals in our rooms. I had known Mr. 
Buchanan for some years, but never intimately until this time. During my 
stay iu London, I became much interested in his nomination for the Presi- 
dency, and frequently spoke to him about the action of the National Demo- 
cratic Convention to be held in Cincinnati in June, 1856, and expressed to him 
the hope that he would be the nominee of the party. He said that so great 
an honor could hardly be expected to fall to his lot, as he had made little 
effort to secure the nomination, and his absence for so long a time from home 
vented any organization of his friends to that end, save what Mr. 
il in Louisiana, Mr. Schell in New York, and his own nearest political 
ds in Pennsylvania, had been able to effect, and that he thought it very 
unlikely that he could receive the nomination. After a few weeks in London, 



NOMINATION TO THE PRESIDENCY. 171 

Mr. Buchanan joined us in a visit to the continent, remaining in Talis about 
ten days, and he then embarked i'or the United States. 

I returned to New York in the early part of May, and shortly afterwards 
went to Cincinnati, upon business connected with an unfinished railroad, in 
which I was interested, and as (lie day for the meeting of the convention 
approached, I was surprised to find a lack of all organization on behalf of the 
friends of Mr. Buchanan, and was satisfied that his nomination was impossi- 
ble, unless earnest efforts to that end were made, and at once. 

1 had taken a large dwelling-house in Cincinnati for my own temporary 
use, and shortly before the meeting of the convention, I wrote to my political 
friends in W ashington who were friendly to him, telling them the condition of 
things, and that unless they came to Cincinnati without delay, I thought Mr. 
Buchanan stood no chance for the nomination. Among others I wrote to 
Mr. Slidell, Mr. Benjamin, Mr. James A. Bayard, and Mr. Bright, all of whom 
were then in the United States Senate. I promised them accommodations at 
my house, and, much to my gratification, they all answered that they would 
make up a party and come to Cincinnati, to reach there the day before the 
meeting of the convention. Before the time of their arrival, prominent Dem- 
ocrats from all sections of the country had reached Cincinnati, and the friends 
of Mr. Douglas were very prominent in asserting his claims to the nomination, 
through thoroughly organized and noisy committees. 

A consultation was held at my house, the evening before the meeting of the 
convention, and it was evident that if the New York delegation, represented 
by Mr. Dean Richmond and his associates, who were known as the " Softs," 
secured seats, that the nomination of Mr. Douglas was inevitable. The other 
branch of the New York Democrats, who called themselves " Hards," was 
represented by Mr. Schell as the head of that organization. 

"When the convention was organized, Senator James A. Bayard, of Dela- 
ware, was made chairman of the Committee on Credentials, and to that com- 
mittee was referred the claims of the two rival Democratic delegations from 
New York. The remainder of that day, and much of the night following, 
were passed in the earnest and noisy presentation of the claims of these two 
factions to be represented in the convention, each to the exclusion of the 
other, and it was soon discovered that a majority of this committee was in 
favor of the " Soft," or Douglas delegation. A minority of this committee, 
headed by Mr. Bayard, favored the admission of one-half of the delegates of 
each branch of the party, so that the vote of New York in the convention 
might be thereby equally divided between Mr. Douglas and Mr. Buchanan. 
The preparation of the minority report to this end occupied all the night, and 
it was not completed until nine o'clock of the following morning, the hour of 
the meeting of the convention. So soon as we could copy this report, I took 
it to Mr. Bayard, the convention being already in session. 

On the presentation of the majorit}', or Douglas report, it was moved by 
the friends of Mr. Buchanan that the minority report should be substituted, 
and this motion, after a close vote, was adopted by the convention. As was 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 
1 > - 

„ by thus neutralizing the vote of New York, dividing it between the 
i , Buchanan retained sufficient strength to secure the nomi- 
nation which was then speedily made. There can be little doubt that tins 
...,, achieved almost wholly by the efforts of the fnends of Mr. 
in who were induced at the last moment to come to Cincinnati. Our 
, ; the headquarters of all the friends of Mr. Buchanan. Every 
as made emanated from some one of the gentlemen there present, 
and but lor their presence and active cooperation, there is little doubt that Mr. 
Douglas would have been nominated upon the first ballot after organization. 

Mr. Slidell was naturally the leader of the friends of Mr. Buchanan. His 
calmness, shrewdness and earnest friendship for Mr. Buchanan were recognized 
by all, and whatever he advised was promptly assented to. At his request, I 
i 3ent at all interviews with the delegates from all parts of the country, 
which preceded Mr. Buchanan's actual nomination. I heard all that was said 
on these occasions, and when the news of the nomination came from the con- 
vention to our headquarters, Mr. Slidell at once said to me : " Now, you will 
bear me witness, that in all that has taken place, I have made no promises, 
and am under no commitments on behalf of Mr. Buchanan to anybody. He 
takes this place without obligations to any section of the country, or to any 
individual. He is as free to do as as he sees fit as man ever was. Some of 
his friends deserve recognition, and at the proper time I shall say so to him, 
and I think he will be governed by my suggestions, but if he should not be, 
no one can find fault, as I have made no promises." 

After the election, at the request of Mr. Buchanan, I met him on the occa- 
sion of his first visit to Washington, before the inauguration. I went to his 
room with Mr. Slidell. He had then seen no one in Washington. In this 
first interview, Mr. Slidell repeated to him, almost verbatim, the language 
which he had used to me in Cincinnati, as to the President being entirely free 
and uncommitted by any promise or obligation of any sort, made to anybody, 
previous to Ins nomination. 

I do not know that the matters to which I have alluded will be of any 
interest to you, but I have recalled them with much pleasure as showing, con- 
trary to the generally received opinion as to Mr. Buchanan's shrewdness as a 
politician and " wire-puller," that when he left London, there was no organ- 
ization or pretence of organization in his favor, that could be considered 
. e or likely to be useful, outside of the efforts of a few personal friends 
in the South, in Pennsylvania and New York ; and before he returned to 
America, he evidently saw that he had little chance of success before the con- 
vention. The same marked absence of organization, and of all political 
n^-work, was evident up to the day before the meeting of the conven- 
tion, when the friends of Mr. Buchanan, whom I had thus suddenly called 
together, made their appearance in Cincinnati. 

Mr. Buchanan's opposition to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise left 

him without support from the ultra Southern leaders, many of whom believed 

' 1 r. DouglaD would be less difficult to manage than Mr. Buchanan. 



NOMINATION TO THE PRESIDENCY. 173 

Louisiana was controlled through the personal influence of Messrs. Slidell and 
Benjamin, and Virginia was from the beginning in favor of Mr. Buchanan's 
nomination. Apart from these States, the South was for Pierce or Douglas. 
Mr. Buchanan's strength was from the North, but it was unorganized. 

To that time, no one had undertaken to speak for him. There were no 
headquarters where his friends could meet even for consultation. There was 
no leader — no one whose opinions upon questions of policy were controlling, 
and but for this almost accidental combination of his friends in Cincinnati, it 
was apparent that Mr. Buchanan could not have been nominated, simply 
because of this utter lack of that ordinary preliminary organization necessary 
to success, which was by his opponents alleged to be the foundation of his 
strength, but which in fact was wholly without existence. 

Mr. Slidell undertook this task, and before the meeting of the convention 
Mr. Buchanan's success was assured.* 



* The prominence given by Mr. Barlow to Mr. Slidell, as an active and earnest friend 
of Mr. Buchanan, led me to ask him to add a sketch of that distinguished man j and I have 
been at the greater pains to show the strong friendship that subsisted between Mr. Buchanan 
and Mr. Slidell, because, as will be seen hereafter, when the secession troubles of the last 
year of Mr. Buchanan's administration came on, this friendship was one of the first sacrifices 
made by him to his public duty, for he did not allow it to influence his course in the slightest 
degree ; and although he had to accept with pain the alienation which Mr. Slidell and all his 
other Southern friends, in the ardor of their feelings, deemed unavoidable, he accepted it as 
one of the sad necessities of his position and of the time. I think he and Mr. Slidell never 
met, after the month of January, 1861. The following is Mr. Barlow's sketch of John 
Slidell :— 

41 He was born in the city of New York iu 1795 ; was graduated at Columbia College in 
1810, and entered commercial life, which he soon abandoned for the study of the law. lie 
removed to Louisiana in 1825, and was shortly afterwards admitted to the bar of that State. 
In 1829 he was appointed United States district attorney for the Louisiana district by Presi- 
dent Jackson, and from that time took an active part in the politics of the State. He was 
soon recognized, not only as one of the ablest and most careful lawyers, but as the practical 
political head of the Democratic party of the Southwest. 

" In 1842 he was elected to Congress from the New Orleans district. In 1845 he was 
appointed by President Polk as minister to Mexico. This mission was foredoomed to fail- 
ure. The annexation of Texas made a war with Mexico inevitable, but the broad senfC 
shown by Mr. Slidell in his despatches from Mexico was fully recognized by the administra- 
tion of President Polk, and his views were maintained, and his advice was followed, to the 
time of the breaking out of hostilities. 

"In 1853 he was elected to the United States Senate to fill an unexpired term, and in 
1854 was again elected for a full term, which had not expired when the secession of Louisiana 
in 1861 put it at an end. 

"He was shortly afterwards sent to France as a commissioner on behalf of the Confed- 
erate States. On his voyage to that country he was taken from the British steamer ' Trent,' 
and was imprisoned at Fort Warren in Boston Earbor. His release by President Lincoln, 
under the advice of Mr. Seward, will be remembered as one of the most exciting and impor- 
tant incidents in the early history of the war. He remained in Paris as the Commissioner 
of the Confederate States until the termination of the rebellion, and daring that period was 
probably the most active and effective agent of the Confederacy abroad. 

"His influence with the government of Louis Napoleon was very great, and at one time, 
chiefly through his persuasion, the emperor, as Mr. Slidell believed, had determined to 
recognize the Confederacy ; but fortunately this political mistake was averted by the great 
victory gained by General McClellan over the Confederate army at Autietam. 

" In 1835 Mr. Slidell was married to Miss Mathilde deLande, of an old Creole family of 



, M LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

When officially informed of bis nomination by a committee, 
Mr. Buchanan, on the 10th of June (1856), made this simple 
and straightforward answer: 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 13th 
inst, informing me officially of my nomination by the Democratic National Con- 
vention, recently held at Cincinnati, as a candidate for the office of President 
of the United States. I shall not attempt to express the grateful feelings 
which I entertain towards my Democratic fellow-citizens for having deemed 
me worthy of this— the highest political honor on earth— an honor such as no 
other people have the power to bestow. Deeply sensible of the vast and 
ed responsibility attached to the station, especially at the present crisis in 
our affairs, I have carefully refrained from seeking the nomination, either by 
word or by deed. Now that it has been offered by the Democratic party, I 
accept it with diffidence in my own abilities, but with an humble trust that, iu 
the event of my election, Divine Providence may enable me to discharge my 
duty in such a manner as to allay domestic strife, preserve peace and friend- 
ship with foreign nations, and promote the best interests of the Republic. 

In accepting the nomination, I need scarcely say that I accept, in the same 
spirit, the resolutions constituting the platform of principles erected by the 
convention. To this platform I intend to conform myself throughout the 
canvass, believing that I have no right, as the candidate of the Democratic 
party, by answering interrogatories, to present new and different issues before 
the people. 

In all Presidential elections which have occurred for the past 
fifty years, the State election in Pennsylvania, occurring in the 
autumn before the election of a President, has been regarded as 
of great importance. The Republican party was now in the 
field, with General Fremont as its candidate, and with the 
advantage which it had derived in all the free States from the 
consequences of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the 

Louisiana. He died at Cowes iu England in 1871. His pure personal character, his indomit- 
able and coercive will, his undoubted courage, and his cool and deliberate good sense gave 
him a liijrli place among the advisers of the Confederate cause from its earliest organization 
tn ii- final collapse. 

" One of his most striking characteristics, for which he was noted through life, was his 

nnswerving fidelity to his political friends. From the lowest in the ranks to those of the 

highest station, who were his allies and advocates, not one was forgotten when political 

is secured, and no complaint was ever justly made against him for forgetfulness 

■ if those through whom his own political career was established, or to whom, through his 

success of his political friends was achieved. 

" With stranger Mr, SlideU's manners were reserved, and at times even haughty, but to 
those who were admitted t< the privacy of his domestic life, or who once gained his confi- 
dence in politics, he was most genial, gracious, and engaging." 



ADDRESS TO HIS NEIGHBORS. ] ; ;, 

passage of the so-called " Kansas-Nebraska Act," which bad 
been i'ollowed in Kansas by an internecine contest between 
pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers. A brutal personal assault 
upon Senator Sumner, of Massachusetts, by a rash and foolish 
Southerner, had added fuel to the already kindled sectional 
flame of Northern feeling. The precise political issue between 
the Democratic and Republican parties, so far as it related to 
slavery, concerned of course slavery in the Territories. It was 
apparent that if the Republicans should gain the State of Penn- 
sylvania in the State election of October, there was a very 
strong probability, rather a moral certainty, that the electoral 
votes of all the free States in the Presidential election would be 
obtained by that party, while tliere was no probability that it 
would prevail in a single slave-holding State. The political 
issue, therefore, was whether the sectional division of the free 
and the slave States in the election of a President was to come 
then, or whether it was to be averted. The State election in 
Pennsylvania, in October, turned in favor of the Democrats. 
Her twenty-seven electoral votes were thus morally certain to 
be given to Mr. Buchanan in the Presidential election. In the 
interval, a large body of his friends and neighbors assembled at 
"Wheatland, and called him out. His remarks, never before 
printed, are now extant in his handwriting. He said : 

My Friends and Neighbors : — 

I am glad to see you and to receive and reciprocate your congratulations 
upon the triumph of the Democrats in Pennsylvania and Indiana. 

It is my sober and solemn conviction that Mr. Fillmore uttered the words 
of soberness and truth when he declared that if the Northern sectional party 
should succeed, it would lead inevitably to the destruction of this beautiful 
fabric reared by our forefathers, cemented by their blood, and bequeathed to us 
as a priceless inheritance. 

The people of the North seem to have forgotten the warning of the Father 
of his Country against geographical parties. And by far the most dangerous 
of all such parties is that of a combined North against a combined South on 
the question of slavery. This is no mere political question — no question 
addressing itself to the material interests of men. It rises far higher. With 
the South it is a question of self-preservation, of personal security around the 
family altar, of life or of death. The Southern people still cherish a love for 
the Union ; but what to them is even our blessed confederacy, the wisest and 
the best form of government ever devised by man, if they cannot enjoy its 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

! its benefits without being in constant alarm for their wives and 

The storm of abolition against the South has been gathering for almost a 
marter of a century. It had been increasing by every various form of agita- 
hich fanaticism could devise. We had reached the crisis. The danger 
was imminent Republicanism was sweeping over the North like a tornado. 
ared to be resistless in its course. The blessed Union of these States— 
ie for human liberty on earth — appeared to be tottering on its 
Had Pennsylvania yielded, had she become an abolition State, without 
J interposition of Divine Providence, we should have been precipitated 
yawning gulf of dissolution. But she stood erect and firm as her 
Uleghanies. She breasted the storm and drove it back. The night is 
ing, and the roseate and propitious morn now breaking upon us promises 
a long day of peace and prosperity for our country. To secure this, all we 
North have to do is to permit our Southern neighbors to manage their 
own domestic affairs, as they permit us to manage ours. It is merely to adopt 
the golden rule, and do unto them as we would they should do unto us. in the 
like circumstances. All they ask from us is simply to let them alone. This is 
the whole spirit and essence of the much abused Cincinnati platform. This 
does no more than adopt the doctrine which is the very root of all our insti- 
tutions, and recognize the right of a majority of the people of a Territory, 
when about to enter the Union as a State, to decide for themselves whether 
domestic slavery shall or shall not exist among them. This is not to favor the 
extension of slavery, but simply to deny the right of an abolitionist in Mas- 
sachusetts or Vermont to prescribe to the people of Kansas what they shall 
or shall not do in regard to this question. 

Who contests the principle that the will of the majority shall govern ? 
What genuine republican of any party can deny this? The opposition have 
met this question fairly. Within a brief period, the people of this 
country will condemn their own folly for suffering the assertion of so plain and 
elementary a principle of all popular governments to have endangered our 
blessed Constitution and Union, which owe their origin to this very principle. 
I congratulate you, my friends and neighbors, that peace has been restored 
to Kansas. As a Pennsylvanian I rejoice that this good work has been 
accomplished by two sons of our good old mother State, God bless her ! We 
have reason to be proud of Colonel Geary and General Smith. We shall 
hear no more of bleeding Kansas. There will be no more shrieks for her 
unhappy destiny. The people of this fine country, protected from external 
violence and internal commotion, will decide the question of slavery for them- 
selves, and then slide gracefully into the Union and become one of the sisters 
in our great Confederacy. 

' vi( ed in the eye of sober reason, this Kansas question is one of 

i' all the Proteus-like forms which abolition fanaticism has 

to divide and distract the country. And why do I say this? 

• might enter the Union with a free constitution to-day, and once 



ELECTION TO THE PRESIDENCY. 177 

admitted, no human power known to the Constitution could prevent her from 
establishing slavery to-morrow. No frec-soiler has ever even contended that 
she would not possess this power. 

The result of the election shows, with great distinctness, the 
following facts : 1st. That Mr. Buchanan was chosen President, 
because he received the electoral votes of the five free States of 
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois and California 
(62 in all), and that without them he could not have been 
elected. 2d. That his Southern vote (that of every slave- 
holding State excepting Maryland) was partly given to him 
because of his conservative opinions and position, and partly 
because the candidate for the Vice-Presidency, Mr. Breckin- 
ridge, was a Southern man. 3d. That General Fremont 
received the electoral vote of no Southern State, and that this 
was due partly to the character of the Republican party and its 
Northern tone, and partly to the fact that the Republican can- 
didate for the Vice Presidency (Mr. Dayton, of New Jersey), 
was a citizen of a non-slaveholding State. General Fremont 
himself was nominally a citizen of California. This election, 
therefore, foreshadowed the sectional division which would be 
almost certain to happen in the next one, if the four years of 
Mr. Buchanan's administration should not witness a subsidence 
in the sectional feelings between the North and the South. It 
would only be necessary for the Republicans to wrest from the 
Democratic party the five free States wdiich had voted for Mr. 
Buchanan, and they w T ould elect the President in I860. 
"Whether this was to happen, would depend upon the ability of 
the Democratic party to avoid a rupture into factions that 
would themselves be representatives of irreconcilable dogmas 
on the subject of slavery in the Territories. Hence it is that 
Mr. Buchanan's course as President, for the three first years of 
his term, is to be judged, with reference to the responsibility 
that was upon him to so conduct the Government as to dis- 
arm, if possible, the antagonism of section to section. His 
administration of affairs after the election of Mr. Lincoln is to 
be judged simply by his duty as the Executive, in the most 
extraordinary and anomalous crisis in which the country had 
ever been placed. 

II.— 12 



... LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

1 I o 

I take from the multitude of private letters written or 
ed during and after the election, a few of the most 
interesting: — 

[FROM THE HON. JAMES MACGREGOR.] 

House of Commons, June 20, 1856. 
Mr Dear Sir:— 

I am, indeed, very happy to receive to-day the decision with regard to you 
at Cincinnati, and God grant the result be as successful as I wish. The feel- 
ing in this house, and I am sure in the country, is, I believe firmly, such as 
you could wish. I wish that miserable dispute about Central America were 
ited; for my part, I believe that if not only Central America, but all 
Spanish America, south of California, were possessed and governed by an 
Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-American race, the more would the progress of civil- 
ization, the progress of industry and commerce, and the happiness of mankind 
be advanced. 

I went over to Paris a few days after you left for Havre. Saw much of 
Mr. Mason, Mr. Corbin and Mr. Childs. The latter drew me a most able 
lent relative to the disputes with America, which I made good use of, 
on my return, with Lord Palmerston. 

You will observe that even the meretricious Times, which I send you a 
copy of, is coming to be more reasonable; although I cannot trust that journal, 
whirl), I believe, was truly characterized by O'Connell, in the House of Com- 
mons, as representing " the sagacity of the rat and the morality of a harlot." 
I write in great haste for the post; but believe me always, and with my very 
kindest regards to Miss Lane, Faithfully yours, 

J. MacGregor. 

[TO WILLIAM B. REED, ESQ.] 

Monday Morning, July 7, 1856. 
Mr Dear Sir: — 

I return Mr. Stevenson's letter with thanks. He appears to be " a marvel- 
lous proper man." There never was a more unfounded falsehood than that 
of my connection with the bargain, or alleged bargain. At the time I was a 
young member of Congress, not on terms of intimacy with either Jackson or 
Clay. It is true I admired both, and wished to see the one President and the 
Secretary of State; and after Mr. Clay had been instructed by the 
ky legislature to vote for Jackson, I believed my wish would be 
accomplished. It must have been then that I had the conversation with Mr. 
Clay, in Letcher's room, to which Colton refers, for I declare I have not the 
ace on my memory of any such conversation. Had I known anything 
of the previous history of Jackson and Clay, I could not have believed it 
possible that the former would appoint the latter Secretary. A conversation 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 179 

of a few minutes with Jaekson on the street on a cold and stormy day of De- 
cember, fully related by me in 1827, and a meeting with Mr. Clay in Letcher's 
room, and a conversation perfectly harmless as stated, have brought me into 
serious difficulties. Your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

[to the non. james c. dobbin.*.] 

Bedford Springs, August 20, 185G. 
My Dear Sir : — 

Your favor of the 13th instant did not reach me at the Bedford Springs 
until I was about leaving, hence the delay of my answer. I did not reach 
home until the night before the last. 

I congratulate you, with all my heart, on the result of your election. The 
population of the old North State is steady and conservative. Of it you may 
be justly proud. The Southern States now promise to be a unit at the ap- 
proaching Presidential election. Maryland is still considered doubtful, but the 
changes in our favor have been great within the last three weeks. The letters 
of Messrs. Pierce and Pratt have had a happy effect. 

I am glad to learn that our foreign affairs are assuming a favorable aspect. 
I most heartily approved of the dismissal of Mr. Crampton, and would have 
been quite as well satisfied had he been sent home in the last autumn. About 
the present condition of the Central American questions I knew nothing until 
the receipt of your letter, except from the revelations in the British Parlia- 
ment, which I know, from experience, are not reliable. Mr. Dallas said 
nothing to me about his instructions or the views of the President, and, of 
course, I did not solicit his confidence. The question of the Bay Islands is too 
clear for serious doubt. Lord Aberdeen, the purest and most just of British 
statesmen, when premier gave it up, as is shown by my correspondence with 
the State Department, and it is highly probable Great Britain may make a 
virtue of necessity, and surrender these islands to Honduras to whom they 
clearly belong. 

I am glad to learn that the President enjoys good health, notwithstanding the 
fatigue, troubles, and responsibility incident to his position. I concur with you 
in opinion as to the character of his manly and excellent address on the receipt 
of the intelligence from Cincinnati. It was no more than what might have been 
expected from him by all who knew him. My aspirations for the Presidency 
had all died four years ago, and I never felt the slightest personal interest in 
securing the nomination. It was easy to foresee the impending crisis, and that 
the Union itself might depend on the result of the election. In this view, 
whilst we all have everything near and dear to us of a political character at 
stake, the President of all men has the deepest interest in the result. My 
election, so far as I am personally concerned is a very small matter ; but as 
identified with the leading measures of his administration, the preservation of 

* Secretary of the Navy under President Pierce. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

tution and the Union, and the maintenance of the equality of the 

ie right of the people of a Territory to decide the question of 

lemsel'ves, in their constitution, before entering the Union, it is a 

. at and transcendant importance. 

■ •ordially reciprocating your friendly sentiments towards myself, and 

S , iu all the blessings which you can desire, I remain, as ever, very 

fully, Tour friend > 

James Buchanan. 

[TO NAHUM OAPEN, ESQ., OF BOSTON.] 

Wheatland, August 27, 1S56. 
Mr Dear Sir: — 

On my return from Bedford Springs on Monday night, I found your favor 
of the 22d instant, and your manuscript. The latter I have endeavored to 
find the time to read with care, but this has been impossible. I have, there- 
fore only been able to glance over it. It is written with characteristic ability, 
and that portion of it which gives extracts from my speeches has been pre- 
pared with much labor and discrimination. I have not seen the manuscript 
of any biography of mine before publication, nor have I read any one of them 
since, and this simply because I did not choose to be identified with any of 
them. 

For my own part, I consider that all incidental questions are comparatively 
of little importance in the Presidential question, when compared with the 
grand and appalling issue of union or disunion. Should Fremont be elected, 
he must receive 149 Northern electoral votes at the least, and the outlawry 
proclaimed by the Republican convention at Philadelphia against fifteen 
Southern States will be ratified by the people of the North. The consequence 
will be immediate and inevitable. In this region, the battle is fought mainly 
on this issue. We have so often cried " wolf," that now, when the wolf is at 
the door, it is difficult to make the people believe it; but yet the sense of 
danger is slowly and surely making its way in this region. 

After reflection and consultation, T stated in my letter of acceptance sub- 
stantially, that I would make no issues beyond the platform, and have, there- 
fore, avoided giving my sanction to any publication containing opinions with 
which I might be identified, and prove unsatisfactory to some portions of the 
Union. I must continue to stand on this ground. Had it not been for this 
cause, I should have embraced your kind offer, and asked you to prepare a 
biography for me, and furnished the materials. Indeed, I often thought of 

I am deeply and gratefully sensible of your friendship, and therefore most 

reluctantly adopt the course towards you which I have done to all other 

I - under like circumstances. 

In the cursory glance I have been able to take of your manuscript, I 

rved one or two errors. In page 37 of No. 1, my allusion was to Mrs. 

Adams, and not to Mrs. Jackson. I entered college at the age of sixteen, not 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 181 

of fourteen, having been previously prepared for the Junior class. It is not 
the fact that I accepted no compensation for trying the widow's cause. 
'• Millions for defence, but not a cent for tribute," was not original with me. 

I am so surrounded, I regret I cannot write more, and still more deeply 
regret that my omission to sanction your very able manuscript may give you 
pain. I sincerely wish you had referred it to the National Committee, or to 
the committee in your own State. 

"Wo are fighting the battle in this State almost solely on the great issue, with 
energy and confidence. I do not think there is any reason to apprehend the 
result, certainly none at the Presidential election, so far as Pennsylvania is 
concerned. 

In haste, I remain always, very respectfully, your friend, 

James Buchanan. 

[to william b. reed, esq.] 

"Wheatland, September 8, 1856. 
My Dear Sir: — 

I have received your favor of the 5th inst. I do not recollect the names 
of the two members of the Society of Friends to whom you refer ; but should 
you deem it important, I can, with some trouble, find the original letter. I 
have no doubt Dr. Parrish was one of them. He, William "Wharton and 
Joseph Foulke were the three gentlemen referred to in my remarks on the 
25th April, 1836, in presenting the petition of the Society of Friends against 
the admission of Arkansas, etc. They not only acquiesced in my course, but 
requested me to procure for them a number of copies of the National Intel- 
ligence)' containing my remarks, and left "Washington entirely satisfied. 
(Vide the volume of the Register of Debates, to which you refer, pages 1277 
and 1278.) 

I cannot procure the London Quarterly in Lancaster. I took the Reviews 
in England, but neglected to order them since my return. I have no doubt it 
does me great injustice. I was so popular personally in England, that when- 
ever I appeared at public dinners, etc., I was enthusiastically cheered ; but 

now they are all for Fremont , and a dissolution of the 

Union. 

I am gratified that you have sent me Mr. Stevenson's letter. I have no 
doubt he is a gentleman of fastidious honor as well as much ability. Although 
a patient and much-enduring man, I have never had patience about " the 
bargain and sale story." So far as I am concerned, it all arose from the mis- 
apprehension by General Jackson of as innocent a conversation on the street, 
on my part, as I ever had with any person. I cannot charge myself even 
with the slightest imprudence. And then, as a rebutter, a conversation 
equally innocent, in Letcher's room, about the particulars of which I have no 
more recollection than if it had never taken place. Still, I have not the least 
doubt it has been stated accurately ; because it is just what I would have said 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

1 » 

under the circumstances, and in entire ignorance of the nature of the personal 
™J a General Jackson and Mr. Clay. Blair's expose has fallen 

dead, SO far as I can learn. 

1 1 ■; ivate and confidential.) Wheatland, September 14, 185G. 

My Dkak Sir:— 

I have at length found, and now enclose, the letter to which you refer. I 
1 ave very often spoken in the Senate on the subject of slavery in the different 
forms which the question has assumed, but have not the time at the present 
moment to look over the debates. 

I have recently received a letter from Governor Wright, of Indiana, who 
informs me it would be of great importance in that State should the National 
Intelligencer come out in favor of the Democratic candidates. He had heard, 
as wc have done, that such was the intention of its editors, after the adjourn- 
ment of Congress. But they have at length come out in favor of Fremont. I 
say this, because they scout the idea that the Union would be in danger from 

his election Better they had at once raised the Republican flag. 

This opinion they have expressed, notwithstanding I am in the daily receipt 
of letters from the South, which are truly alarming, and these from gentle- 
men who formerly opposed both nullification and disunion. They say expli- 
citly that the election of Fremont involves the dissolution of the Union, and 
this immediately. They allege that they are now looking on calmly for the 
North to decide their fate. When I say from the South, I refer to the States 
south of the Potomac. These evidences of public determination first com- 
menced in the extreme South ; but now the same calm and determined spirit 
appears to pervade Virginia. Indeed, the most alarming letter I have received 
has been from Virginia, and this, too, from a prudent, tranquil and able man, 
who has for some years been out of public life from his own choice. The 
remarks of the National Intelligencer will either serve to delude the Northern 
people, or the Southrons are insincere. God save the Union ! I do not wish 
to survive it. From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

P. S— I refer to the article in the Intelligencer of the 11th instant, headed, 
'■ The Balance Wheels of the Government." One gentleman informs me that 
the men who were our contemporaries when the States lived in peace with 
each other, before the slavery excitement commenced, have passed away, and 
they have been succeeded by a new generation, who have grown up pending 
i y agitation. He says that they have been constantly assailed by the 
North, and now have as much hatred for the people of New England as the 
latter have for them; and many now deem that it would be for the mutual 
advantage of all parties to have a Southern Confederation, in which they can 
at peace. I have received such communications with regret and astonish- 
ment, 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 183 

[TO A CITIZEN OF CALIFORNIA.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Fenn., Sept. 17, 185G. 
Sir :— 

I Lave received numerous communications from sources in California, 
entitled to high regard, in reference to the proposed Pacific Railroad. As it 
would be impossible for me to answer them all, I deem it most proper and 
respectful to address you a general answer in your official capacity. In per- 
forming this duty to the citizens of California, I act in perfect consistency with 
the self-imposed restriction contained in my letter accepting the nomination 
for the Presidency, not to answer interrogatories raising new and different 
issues from those presented by the Cincinnati convention, because that con- 
vention has itself adopted a resolution in favor of this great work. I, then, 
desire to state briefly that, concurring with the convention, I am decidedly 
favorable to the construction of the Pacific Railroad; and I derive the 
authority to do this from the constitutional power " to declare war," and the 
constitutional duty " to repel invasions." In my judgment, Congress possess 
the same power to make appropriations for the construction of this road, strictly 
for the purpose of national defence, that they have to erect fortifications at the 
mouth of the harbor of San Francisco. Indeed, the necessity, with a view to 
repel foreign invasion from California, is as great in the one case as in the 
other. Neither will there be danger from the precedent, for it is almost 
impossible to conceive that any case attended by such extraordinary and 
unprecedented circumstances can ever again occur in our history. 

Yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

To B. F. Washington, Esq , Chairman of the Democratic State Central 
Committee of California. 

[TO JOSHUA BATES, ESQ., LONDON.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, Nov. G, 1856. 
My Dear Sir: — 

I received in due time your kind congratulatory letter of the 10th July, 
which I should have immediately answered had I been able to express a 
decided opinion as to the result of the Presidential election. It was one of 
the most severe political struggles through which we have ever passed. The 
preachers and fanatics of New England had excited the people to such a 
degree on the slavery questions, that they generally prayed and preached 
against me from their pulpits on Sunday last, throughout that land of " isms." 
Your information from Massachusetts was entirely unfounded — Boston is a sad 

place. In that city they have re-elected to Congress a factious fanatic, 

who, in a public speech, said that we must have an anti-slavery Constitution, 
an anti-slavery Bible, and an anti-slavery God. 

Whilst the British press, by their violent attacks, did me much good ser- 
vice, I very much regretted their hostile publications, because it was and is 



lSi LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

::.,-, re desire to cultivate the most friendly relations with that country. 
j does England much injury, at least in foreign nations ; it has made 
sh unpopular throughout the continent, and keeps alive the ancient 
prejudice which still exists in large portions of our country. In very many 
D mocratic papers, throughout the late canvass, beautiful extracts from 
. the Chronicle, and other English journals, were kept standing 
bead of their columns. But enough of this. I most sincerely hope the 
American questions may be settled before the 4th of March. I know 
nothing of their condition at present. I never doubted in regard to the true 
ition of the treaty, nor did I ever consider it doubtful. The purest and 
i statesmen I met in England agreed with me in regard to the con- 
struction of the treaty. If we are to be as good friends as I desire we may 
\ our government ought to be careful to select the proper man as minister, 
and uot send us some government pet simply because they have no other pro- 
vision for him. I have said much to Lord Clarendon on this subject before I 
had the slightest idea of becoming President. By the bye, I like his lordship 
personally very much, as well as Lord Palmerston. They are both agreeable 
and witty companions, as well as great statesmen. I should like them much 
better, however, if their friendly feelings were a little stronger for this coun- 
try. I have no doubt they both, as you say, expressed their satisfaction at 
the prospect of my becoming President. This was, however, at an early day. 
They have probably sjnee changed their opinion. I have been a good deal 
quizzed by private friends since I came home, [because] I spoke in strong and 
warm terms of the kindness and civility which had been extended to me in 
England, and of the vast importance to both countries and to the world that 
friendly feelings between the two countries should be cherished by the gov- 
ernments and people of each. How often have the articles from British 
newspapers been cast up to me as a comment upon my remarks. They have, 
however, produced no effect upon my feelings. I was delighted to see Sir 
Henry Holland, and to gossip with him about valued friends and acquaintances 
on the other side of the water. Please to remember me very kindly to Mrs. 
Bates, and Miss Lane desires me to present her warm regards to you both. It 
is long since I have heard from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence. 

From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 



My Dear Sir :- 



[FROM THE HON. EDWARD EVERETT.] 

Boston, Dec. 8th, 1856. 



I can hardly congratulate you on your election, first, because 

uot vote for you (unless upon the theory that every vote given to Fill- 
effect given to you), and second, because I fear that to be chosen 
lent is not a thing upon which a friend is to be congratulated, in the 
: state of the country. 



PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 185 

You have my best wishes, however, for a prosperous administration. I 
devoutly hope that you will be able to check the progress of sectional feeling. 
The policy of the present administration has greatly impaired (as you are well 
aware) the conservative feeling of the North, has annihilated the Whig party, 
and seriously weakened the Democratic party in all the free States. 

Though much opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, we could 
have stood that, but the subsequent events in Kansas gave us the coiqj dp. 
grace. Those events, and the assault on Mr. Sumner, gave its formidable char- 
acter and strength to the Republican nomination. You can do nothing 
directly to prevent the occurrence of events like the assault, but you may, 
even in advance of the 4th of March, do much to bring about a better state 
of things in Kansas, and prevent the enemies of the Constitution from 
continuing to make capital out of it. 

I am, dear sir, with much regard and sincere good wishes, 

Very truly yours, 

Edward Everett. 



[TO THE HON. JOHN T. MASON.] 

Wheatland, near Lancaster, December 29, 1856. 
My Dear Sir : — 

Ere this can reach Paris, you will doubtless have received my letter to 
Miss Wight. I shall not repeat what I have said to her, because such is the 
pressure now upon me that I have scarce time to say my prayers. This I 
can say in perfect good faith, that the man don't live whom it would afford me 
greater pleasure to serve than yourself. In this spirit I have determined that 
you shall not be disturbed during the next year, no matter what may be the 
pressure upon me. I am not committed, either directly or indirectly, to any 
human being for any appointment, but yet I cannot mistake the strong cur- 
rent of public opinion in favor of changing public functionaries, both abroad 
and at home, who have served a reasonable time. They say, and that, too, 
with considerable force, that if the officers under a preceding Democratic 
administration shall be continued by a succeeding administration of the same 
political character, this must necessarily destroy the party. This, perhaps, 
ought not to be so, but we cannot change human nature. 

The great object of my administration will be to arrest, if possible, the agi- 
tation of the slavery question at the North, and to destroy sectional parties. 
Should a kind Providence enable me to succeed in my efforts to restore har- 
mony to the Union, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain. 

I beg of you to say nothing to any of your colleagues in Europe about 
your continuance in office during the next year. Had it been announced I 
had informed you, in answer to Miss Wight, that you should continue indefi- 
nitely in office, this would have done both you and myself injury. We know 
not what may transpire in 1857, and therefore, in reference to the mission 



,gg LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

after that period, I can say nothing. " Sufficient unto the day is the evil 
• •of." 

i if 1 had the time, I could not communicate any news to you which 
you will not see in the papers. The pressure for office will be nearly as great 
as though I had succeeded a Whig administration. 

With my kind and affectionate regards to Mrs. Mason and your excellent 
family, and cordially wishing you and them many a happy Christmas and 
many a prosperous New Tear, I remain, always, 

Very respectfully your friend, 

James Buchanan. 

P. S. — In reading over my letter, I find it is quite too cold in reference to 
Mary Ann, and therefore I beg to send her my love. 



CHAPTER IX. 

1857— 1858. 

INAUGURATION AS PRESIDENT— SELECTION OF A CABINET — THE DISTURB- 
ANCES IN KANSAS — MR. BUCHANAN'S CONSTRUCTION OF THE KANSAS- 
NEBRASKA ACT, AND OF THE " PLATFORM " ON WHICH HE WAS 
ELECTED — FLNAL ADMISSION OF KANSAS INTO THE UNION. 

FROM the communication which has been furnished to me 
by Mr. James Buchanan Henry, I select the following 
account of the period preceding the inauguration of his uncle 
as President, on the -Ath of March, 1S57 : 

Soon after Mr. Buchanan's election to the Presidency, he sent for me — I 
was in Philadelphia, where I had begun the practice of the law — to come to 
Wheatland. He then told me that he had selected me to be his private secre- 
tary, and spoke to me gravely of the temptations by which I should proba- 
bly be assailed in that position. Soon afterwards prominent men and poli- 
ticians began to make their way to Wheatland in great numbers, and the 
stream increased steadily until the departure of Mr. Buchanan for Washington. 

In addition to personal attendance upon the President-elect, I soon had my 
hands full of work in examining and briefing the daily mails, which were 
burdened with letters of recommendation from individuals, committees and 
delegations of various States, in regard to the cabinet appointments and 
a few of the more important offices. Mr. Buchanan was also preparing his 
inaugural address with his usual care and painstaking, and I copied his drafts 
and recopied them until he had it prepared to his satisfaction. It underwent 
no alteration after he went to the National Hotel in Washington, except 
that he there inserted a clause in regard to the question then pending in 
the Supreme Court, as one that would dispose of a vexed and dangerous 
topic by the highest judicial authority of the land. When the time came to 
leave Wheatland for the capital, preliminary to his inauguration, Mr. 
Buchanan, Miss Lane, Miss Hetty and I drove into Lancaster in his carriage, 
escorted all the way to the railway station by a great and enthusiastic crowd 
of Lancaster citizens and personal friends, with a band of music, although it 
was very early on a bleak winter morning. I remember his modestly remark- 
ing upon the vast crowd thus doing reverence to a mortal man. At the sta- 
tion he was met by an ardent personal and political friend, Robert Magraw, 
then president of the Northern Central Railroad, and received into a special 



■ gg LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

car, built for the occasion, and the windows of which were in colors and rep- 
i familiar scenes of and about Wheatland. After receiving ovations 

,ng the way, especially at Baltimore, the President-elect and party 
arrived safely in Washington. We were somewhat fearful that Mr. Buchanan 
might be seriously embarrassed during the inaugural ceremonies from the 
effects of what was then known as the National Hotel disease, a disorder 
which, from no cause that we could then discover, had attacked nearly 
•nest at the house, and from the dire effects of which many never 
wholly recovered. Dr. Foltz, a naval surgeon, whose appointment in the ser- 
vice many years before, Mr. Buchanan had assisted, was in constant attend- 
ance upon him, and I remember that he and I went together to the Capitol in 

. j e just behind the one that conveyed the retiring President and the 
President-elect, and that he had occasion to administer remedies. The inau- 
guration ceremonies, the ball, and the first reception at the White House by 
the new President, were very largely attended and successful. It happened 
that they took place during a short era of good feeling among all shades of 
politics and party, but unhappily an era of peace destined soon to terminate in 
bitter discord over the Lecompton Constitution, or Kansas question, and by 
the more disastrous following appeal to the passions of the two great political 
sections of the North and the South, which so nearly ended the administration 
in blood. The dinners at the White House, during the first year, were 
attended by Kepublicans as well as Democrats, with great seeming friendship 
and good-will. 

The Inaugural Address of the new President was as fol- 
lows : 

Fellow-citizexs : I appear before you this day to take the solemn oath 
' ; that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and 
will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution 
of the United States." 

In entering upon this great office, I most humbly invoke the God of our 
fathers for wisdom and firmness to execute its high and responsible duties in 
such a manner as to restore harmony and ancient friendship among the people 
of the several States, and to preserve our free institutions throughout many 
generations. Convinced that I owe my election to the inherent love for the 
Constitution and the Union which still animates the hearts of the American 
people, let me earnestly ask their powerful support in sustaining all just 
n is calculated to perpetuate these, the richest political blessings which 
ii has ever bestowed upon any nation. Having determined not to 
become a candidate for re-election, I shall have no motive to influence 
my conduct in administering the government except the desire ably and 
faithfully to serve my country, and to live in the grateful memory of my 
i ountrymen. 

Wo have recently passed through a presidential contest in which the pas- 



INAUGURAL ADDRESS. 189 

sions of our fellow-citizens were excited to the highest degree by questions of 
deep and vital importance; but when the people proclaimed their will, tin' 
tempest at once subsided, and all was calm. 

The voice of the majority, Bpealring in the manner prescribed by the Con- 
stitution, was heard, and instant submission followed. Our own country 
could alone have exhibited so grand and striking a spectacle of the capacity of 
man for self-government. 

What a happy conception, then, was it for Congress to apply this simple 
rule — that the will of the majority shall govern — to the settlement of the 
question of domestic slavery in the Territories ! Congress is neither " to legis- 
late slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to 
leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic 
institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United 
States." As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed that, when 
the Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State, it " shall be received 
into the Union, with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe 
at the time of their admission." 

A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the point of time when the 
people of a Territory shall decide this question for themselves. 

This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance. Besides, it is a 
judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court of the 
United States, before whom it is now pending, and will, it is understood, be 
speedily and finally settled. To their decision, in common with all good 
citizens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be, though it has ever 
been my individual opinion that, under the Nebraska-Kansas act, the appro- 
priate period will be when the number of actual residents in the Territory 
shall justify the formation of a constitution with a view to its admission as a 
State into the Union. But be this as it may, it is the imperative and indis- 
pensable duty of the government of the United States to secure to every 
resident inhabitant the free and independent expression of his opinion by his 
vote. This sacred right of each individual must be preserved. That being 
accomplished, nothing can be fairer than to leave the people of a Territory free 
from all foreign interference, to decide their own destiny for themselves, 
subject only to the Constitution of the United States. 

The whole territorial question being thus settled upon the principle of 
popular sovereignty — a principle as ancient as free government itself — every- 
thing of a practical nature has been decided. No other question remains for 
adjustment; because all agree that, under the Constitution, slavery in the 
States is beyond the reach of any human power, except that of the respective 
States themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long 
agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and that the geographical 
parties to which it has given birth, so much dreaded by the Father of his 
Country, will speedily become extinct ? Most happy will it be for the country 
when the public mind shall be diverted from this question to others of more 
pressing and practical importance. Throughout the whole progress of this 



19 q LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

tation, which has scarcely known any intermission for more than twenty 
3, whilst it has been productive of no positive good to any human being, 
i t ) . , : ,,. prolific source of great evils to the master, the slave, and to 

the whole country. It has alienated and estranged the people of the sister 
ich other, and has even seriously endangered the very existence 
of the Union. Nor has the danger yet entirely ceased. Under our system 
there is a remedy for all mere political evils in the sound sense and sober 
judgment of the people. Time is a great corrective. Political subjects which 
but a few years ago excited and exasperated the public mind have passed 
away and are now nearly forgotten. But this question of domestic slavery is 
of far graver importance than any mere political question, because, should the 
agitation continue, it may eventually endanger the personal safety of a large 
portion of our countrymen where the institution exists. In that event, no 
form of government, however admirable in itself, and however productive of 
material benefits, can compensate for the loss of peace and domestic security 
around the family altar. Let every Union-loving man, therefore, exert his 
best influence to suppress this agitation, which, since the recent legislation of 
Congress, is without any legitimate object. 

It is an evil omen of the times that men have undertaken to calculate the 
mere material value of the Union. Beasoned estimates have been presented 
of the pecuniary profits and local advantages which would result to different 
States and sections from its dissolution, and of the comparative injuries which 
such an event would inflict on other States and sections. Even descending 
to this low and narrow view of the mighty question, all such calculations are 
at fault. The bare reference to a single consideration will be conclusive on 
this point. "We at present enjoy a free trade throughout our extensive and 
expanding country, such as the world has never witnessed. This trade is con- 
ducted on railroads and canals — on noble rivers and arms of the sea — which 
1 lind together the north and the south, the east and the west of our confederacy. 
Annihilate this trade, arrest its free progress by the geographical lines of jealous 
and hostile States, and you destroy the prosperity and onward march of the 
whole and every part, and involve all in one common ruin. But such consid- 
erations, important as they are in themselves, sink into insignificance when we 
reflect on the terrific evils which would result from disunion to every portion 
of the confederacy — to the north not more than to the south, to the east not 
more than to the west. These I shall not attempt to portray ; because I feel 
an humble confidence that the kind Providence which inspired our fathers 
with wisdom to frame the most perfect form of Government and Union ever 
devised by man will not suffer it to perish until it shall have been peacefully 
instrumental, by its example, in the extension of civil and religious liberty 
throughout the world. 

Next in importance to the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union 

is the duty of preserving the government free from the taint, or even the sus- 

ii. of corruption. Public virtue is the vital spirit of republics ; and history 

Bhowa that when this has decayed, and the love of money has usurped its 



INAUGURAL ADDRESS. 191 

place, although the forms of free government may remain for a season, the 
substance has departed forever. 

Our present financial condition is without a parallel in history. No nation 
has ever before been embarrassed from too large a surplus in its treasury. 
This almost necessarily gives birth to extravagant legislation. It produces 
wild schemes of expenditure, and begets a race of speculators and jobbers, 
whose ingenuity is exerted in contriving and promoting expedients to obtain 
public money. The purity of official agents, whether rightfully or wrongfully, 
is suspected, and the character of the government suffers in the estimation of 
the people. This is in itself a very great evil. 

The natural mode of relief from this embarrassment is to appropriate the 
surplus in the treasury to great national objects, for which a clear warrant can 
be found in the Constitution. Among these I might mention the extinguish- 
ment of the public debt, a reasonable increase of the navy, which is at present 
inadequate to the protection of our vast tonnage afloat, now greater than that 
of any other nation, as well as to the defence of our extended seacoast. 

It is beyond all question the true principle, that no more revenue ought to 
be collected from the people than the amount necessary to defray the expenses 
of a wise, economical, and efficient administration of the government. To 
reach this point, it was necessary to resort to a modification of the tariff; and 
this has, I trust, been accomplished in such a manner as to do as little injury 
as may have been practicable to our domestic manufactures, especially those 
necessary for the defence of the country. Any discrimination against a par- 
ticular branch, for the purpose of benefitting favored corporations, individuals, 
or interests, would have been unjust to the rest of the community, and incon- 
sistent with that spirit of fairness and equality which ought to govern in the 
adjustment of a revenue tariff. 

But the squandering of the public money sinks into comparative insignifi- 
cance as a temptation to corruption when compared with the squandering of 
the public lands. 

No nation in the tide of time has ever been blessed with so rich and noble 
an inheritance as we enjoy in the public lands. In administering this impor- 
tant trust, whilst it may be wise to grant portions of them for the improve- 
ment of the remainder, yet we should never forget that it is our cardinal 
policy to reserve these lands, as much as may be, for actual settlers, and this 
at moderate prices. We shall thus not only best promote the prosperity of 
the new States and Territories by furnishing them a hardy and independent 
race of honest and industrious citizens, but shall secure homes for our children 
and our children's children, as well as for those exiles from foreign shores 
who may seek in this country to improve their condition, and to enjoy the 
blessings of civil and religious liberty. Such emigrants have done much to 
promote the growth and prosperity of the country. They have proved faith- 
ful both in peace and in war. After becoming citizens, they are entitled, under 
the Constitution and laws, to be placed on a perfect equality with native- 
born citizens, and in this character they should ever be kindly recognized. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

ral Constitution is a grant from the States to Congress of certain 
rers; and the question whether this grant should be liberally or 
construed, has, more or less, divided political parties from the begin- 
Without entering into the argument, I desire to state, at the com- 
mit of my administration, that long experience and observation have 
convinced me that a strict construction of the powers of the Government is 
y true, as well as the only safe, theory of the Constitution. Whenever, 
in our past history, doubtful powers have been exercised by Congress, these 
have never failed to produce injurious and unhappy consequences. Many 
such instances might be adduced, if this were the proper occasion. Neither 
is it necessary for the public service to strain the language of the Constitu- 
tion ; because all the great and useful powers required for a successful admin- 
istration of the Government, both in peace and in war, have been granted, 
either in express terms or by the plainest implication. 

Whilst deeply convinced of these truths, I yet consider it clear that, under 
the war-making power, Congress may appropriate money towards the con- 
struction of a military road, when this is absolutely necessary for the defence of 
any State or Territory of the Union against foreign invasion. Under the Con- 
stitution, Congress has power "to declare war," " to raise and support armies," 
"to provide and maintain a navy," and to call forth the militia to "repel 
invasions." Thus endowed, in an ample manner, with the war-making power, 
the corresponding duty is required that "the United States shall protect each 
of them [the States] against invasion." Now, how is it possible to afford this 
protection to California and our Pacific possessions, except by means of a mil- 
itary road through the Territories of the United States, over which men and 
munitions of war may be speedily transported from the Atlantic States to 
meet and to repel the invader? In the event of a war with a naval power 
much stronger than our own, we should then have no other available access 
to the Pacific coast, because such a power would instantly close the route 
across the isthmus of Central America. It is impossible to conceive that, 
whilst the Constitution has expressly required Congress to defend all the 
it should yet deny to them, by any fair construction, the only possible 
means by which one of these States can be defended. Besides, the Govern- 
ment, ever since its origin, has been in the constant practice of constructing 
military roads. It might also be wise to cousider whether the love for the 
Union which now animates our fellow-citizens on the Pacific coast may not be 
impaired by our neglect or refusal to provide for them, in their remote and 
isolated condition, the only means by which the power of the States, on this 
side of the Rocky Mountains, can reach them in sufficient time to " protect " 
in -i inva ion." I forbear for the present from expressing an opin- 
■ the wisest and most economical mode in which the Government can 
aid in accomplishing this great and necessary work. I believe that 
of the difficulties in the way. which now appear formidable, will, in a 
. vanish as soon as the nearest and best route shall have been 
■al to ly ascertained. 



INAUGURAL ADDRESS. 193 

It may be proper that, on this occasion, I should make some brief remarks 
in regard to our rights and duties as a member of the great family of nations. 
In our intercourse with them there are some plain principles, approved by our 
own experience, from which we should never depart. We ought to cultivate 
peace, commerce, and friendship with all nations; and this not merely as the 
best means of promoting our own material interests, but in a spirit of Christian 
benevolence towards our fellow-men, wherever their lot may be cast. Our 
diplomacy should be direct and frank, neither seeking to obtain more nor 
accepting less than is our due. We ought to cherish a sacred regard for the 
independence of all nations, and never attempt to interfere in the domestic 
concerns of any, unless this shall be imperatively required by the great laws 
of self-preservation. To avoid entangling alliances has been a maxim of our 
policy ever since the days of Washington, and its wisdom no one will attempt 
to dispute. In short, we ought to do justice, in a kindly spirit, to all nations, 
and require justice from them in return. 

It is our glory that, whilst other nations have extended their dominions by 
the sword, we have never acquired any territory except by fair purchase, or, 
as in the case of Texas, by the voluntary determination of a brave, kindred, 
and independent people to blend their destinies with our own. Even our 
acquisitions from Mexico form no exception. Unwilling to take advantage 
of the fortune of war against a sister republic, we purchased these possessions, 
under the treaty of peace, for a sum which was considered at the time a fair 
equivalent. Our past history forbids that we shall in the future acquire terri- 
tory, unless this be sanctioned by the laws of justice and honor. Acting on 
this principle, no nation will have a right to interfere or to complain if, in the 
progress of events, we shall still further extend our possessions. Hitherto, in 
all our acquisitions, the people, under the protection of the American flag, 
have enjoyed civil and religious liberty, as well as equal and just laws, and 
have been contented, prosperous, and happy. Their trade with the rest of 
the world has rapidly increased, and thus every commercial nation has shared 
largely in their successful progress. 

I shall now proceed to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution, whilst 
humbly invoking the blessing of Divine Providence on this great people. 



In the selection of his cabinet, the President followed the 
long-established custom of making it a representation of the 
different portions of the Union, so far as might be consistent 
with a proper regard for personal qualifications for the different 
posts. The cabinet, which was confirmed by the Senate on the 
Gth day of March, 1857, consisted of Lewis Cass, of Michigan, 
Secretary of State; Howell Cobb, of Georgia, Secretary of the 
Treasury ; John B. Floyd, of Virginia, Secretary of War ; 
Isaac Toncey, of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Aaron 

II.— 13 



l94 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

V. Brown, of Tennessee, Postmaster General ; Jacob Thompson, 
of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior; and Jeremiah S. 
Black, of Pennsylvania, Attorney General. So far as was 
practi table within the limits of a selection which, according to 
invariable usage and sound policy was confined to the Demo- 
crat i<- party, this cabinet was a fair representation of the East- 
ern, the Middle, the Western and the Southern States. 

The state of the country, however, when this administration 
was organized, was ominous to its internal peace and welfare. 
The ] receding administration of President Pierce had left a 
legacy of trouble to his successor in the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise. Had it not been for this ill-advised step, the 
country might have reposed upon the settlement of all the 
slavery questions that was made by the " Compromise Measures" 
of 1850. How the flood-gates of sectional controversy were 
again opened by the repeal of the earlier settlement of 1820, 
and how this repeal tended to unsettle what had been happily 
settled in 1850, is a sad chapter in our political history. 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was effected in the 
following manner: In the session of 1851, Senator Douglas, 
chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, reported a 
bill for the establishment of a Territorial government in Ne- 
braska. It did not touch the Missouri Compromise ; and, being 
in the usual form, it would probably have been passed without 
much opposition, but for the intervention of a Senator from 
Kentucky, Mr. Dixon. He gave notice, on the 16th of January, 
that when the bill should be reached in its order, he would 
move a section repealing the Missouri Compromise, both as 
' 1 1 .Nebraska and all other Territories of the United States. Mr. 
Dixon was a Whig, and Mr. Douglas was a prominent and 
most energetic Democrat, who had long been an aspirant to the 
Presidency. Conceiving the idea that a new doctrine respect- 
ing the sovereign right of the people of a Territory to determine 
for themselves whether they would or would not have slavery 
while they were in the Territorial condition, would better recon- 
cile both sections of the Union than the continuance of the 
Missouri Compromise, he introduced a substitute for the 
original lull, which, after dividing Nebraska into two Territories, 
calling one Nebraska and the other Kansas, annulled the Mis- 



INAUGURATION AS PRESIDENT. 195 

souri Compromise in regard to these and all other Territories. 
This he called, "Non-intervention by Congress with slavery in 
the States or Territories," which his bill declared was the prin- 
ciple of the settlement of 1S50, although that settlement had 
not only not invalidated the Missouri Compromise, but that 
Compromise had been expressly recognized in the case of Texas. 
Mr. Dixon expressed himself as perfectly satisfied with Mr. 
Douglas's new bill, and the latter, being a man of great power, 
both as a debater and as a politician, carried his bill through 
the two Houses, and persuaded President Pierce to approve it. 
It was long and disastrously known as " the Kansas-Nebraska 
Act." 

Its discussion in Congress w T as attended with heats such as 
had not been witnessed for many years. It laid the foundation 
for the political success of the party then beginning to be 
known as the Republican, and it produced the hopeless disrup- 
tion of the Democratic party when its nomination for the Presi- 
dency next after Mr. Buchanan's was to be made. Proud, 
disdainful of the predictions made by others of the danger to 
the Union arising from his measure, confident in his own 
energies and his ability to unite the Democratic party in the 
South and in the North upon his principle of " non-interven- 
tion," Mr. Douglas gained a momentary triumph at the expense 
of his own political future, of the future of his party, and of the 
peace of the Union. For a time, how T ever, it seemed as if he 
had secured a following that would insure the acceptance of his 
principle. All the Southern Senators, Whigs and Democrats, 
with two exceptions,* and all the Northern Democratic Sena- 
tors, with three exceptions,f voted for his bill. The "Whig 
Senators from the North, and those who more distinctively 
represented the Northern anti-slavery, or " Free-soil " senti- 
ment, voted against it ; but the latter hailed it as a means that 
would consolidate the North into a great political organization, 
with freedom inscribed upon its banners. Mr. Buchanan, it will 
be remembered, was at this time in England. 

He has said that although down to this period the anti-slavery 

* Mr. Boll, of Tennessee, and Mr. Clayton, of Delaware. 

t Messrs. Allen and James, of Rhode Island, and Mr. Walker, of Wisconsin. 



l96 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

party of the North had been the assailing party and kept the 
people of the South in constant irritation, yet, "in sustaining 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise the Senators and Kep- 
atatives of the Southern States became the aggressors them- 
selves."* And it was one of the worst features of this aggres- 
sion that it was made under the lead of a Northern Democrat ; 
for if the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was a boon 
offered to the South, they could say that it was a boon offered 
from the Xorth.f 

The fatal effects of this measure were two-fold ; first in unset- 
tling what had been settled in 1S50, and secondly in precipita- 
ting a struggle in Kansas as between the pro-slavery and the 
anti-slavery parties, which, although it was local, spread itself in 
opposite sympathies throughout the North and the South. The 
Compromise Measures of 1850 had settled every possible ques- 
tion in relation to slavery on which Congress could then or ever 
afterwards act. 

Such was the general repose of the country upon these topics 
when President Pierce was inaugurated, that he congratulated 
the country upon the calm security now evinced by the public 
mind, and promised that it should receive no shock during his 
official term, if he could prevent it. But the shock came within 
two years, and it came because the repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise threw open again the whole question of slavery in the 
Territories, to remain an unending sectional controversy until it 
had divided one great national party, built up a new and sec- 
tional party, and finally rent the Union into a geographical 
array of section against section. 

The more immediate and local effect remains to be described. 
Kansas at once became the theatre where the extreme men of 
both sections entered into a deadly conflict, the one party to 
make it a free, the other to make it a slaveholding Territory 
and State. Congress having abdicated its duty of fixing the 
character of the Territory by law, one way or the other, the 
beauty of Mr. Douglas's principle of " non-intervention," now 
b some popularly known in the political jargon of the day as 

* Buchanan's Defence, p. 28. 

I l ! mual be remembered that this took place long before the case of "Dred Scott" had 
been acted upon iu the Supreme Court of the United States. 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 107 

"squatter sovereignty," had ample room for development. 
What one party could do, on this principle, the other could do. 
The Southern pro-slavery settler, or his sympathizer 'in the 
Southern State which he had left, could claim that his slaves 
were property in Kansas as much as in Missouri, or Tennessee, 
or Kentucky. The Northern anti-slavery settler, or his sympa- 
thizer in the Northern State from which he had come, could 
contend that slavery was local and confined to the States where 
it existed. Fierce war arose between the parties in their 
struggle for local supremacy; both parties were respectively 
upheld and supplied by their sympathizers in the near and in 
the distant States, North and South; scenes of bloodshed and 
rapine ensued ; and the bitter fruits of opening a fine Territory 
to such a contest were reaped in an abundance that made sober 
men stand aghast at the spectacle. 

It was when Mr. Buchanan entered upon the duties of the 
Presidency that this condition of things in Kansas came to its 
culmination. The pro-slavery party in the Territory, in general 
violent and lawless enough, in one respect kept themselves on 
the side of law. They sustained the Territorial government 
which had been organized under the Act of Congress, and 
obtained control of its legislature. The anti-slavery party 
repudiated this legislature, alleging, with some truth, that 
frauds and violence had been committed in the election. 

To meet this wrong they committed another. They held a 
convention at Topeka, framed a State constitution, elected a 
governor and legislature to take the place of those who were 
governing the Territory under the organic law, and applied to 
Congress for admission into the Union. They had thus put 
themselves out of pale of law. Congress at the end of a violent 
struggle rejected the application for admission into the Union, 
under the Topeka constitution, and recognized the authority of 
the Territorial government. This took place in the session of 
Congress which terminated on the day before Mr. Buchanan's 
inauguration. As President of the United States, he had no 
alternative but to recognize and uphold the Territorial govern- 
ment. The fact that the legislature of that government was in 
the hands of the pro-slavery party, made the course which he 



.go LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

adopted seem as if he favored their pro-slavery designs, while, 
in truth he had no object to subserve but to sustain, as he was 
officially obliged to sustain, the government which Congress 
had recognized as the lawful government of the Territory. 

This government at once proceded to call a convention, to 
assemble at Lecompton, and frame a State constitution. It was 
D( m the President's hope that the anti-slavery party would cease 
their opposition to the Territorial government, obey the laws, 
and oleet delegates to the Lecompton convention in sufficient 
number to insure a free constitution. But for the ten months 
which followed from the 4th of March, 1857, to the first Monday 
in January, 1858, this party continued to adhere to their Topeka 
constitution, and to defy the Territorial government. In the 
meantime the peace had to be kept by troops of the United 
States to prevent open war between the two parties. 

The President, soon after his inauguration, sent tbe Hon. 
Robert J. Walker to Kansas, as Territorial governor, in place of 
Governor Geary, who had resigned. Governor Walker was 
directed, if possible, to persuade the anti-slavery party to unite 
with their opponents in forming a State constitution, and to 
take care that the election of delegates to the convention should 
be conducted so as to express the true voice of the people on the 
question of slavery or freedom. The governor performed this 
duty with entire impartiality. The laws which provided for 
the election of delegates to the convention, and for the registra- 
tion of voters, were just and equitable. The governor admin- 
istered them fairly ; he exhorted the whole body of registered 
electors to vote. Nevertheless, the party that adhered to the 
Topeka government and refused to recognize the Territorial 
legislature, stayed away from the polls. The consequence was 
that a large majority of pro-slavery delegates were elected 
to the convention which was alone authorized, under the prin- 
ciples which, in this country, recognize the sovereignty of the 
people, and require it to be exercised through the ballot-box, 
under the superintendence of the existing government, to form 
a constitution. 

"\\ hile these things were taking place in Kansas, in the sum- 
mer of 1857, while a portion of the inhabitants were in a state 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 199 

of rebellion against the only government that had any lawful 
authority; while the friends of freedom were setting the exam- 
ple of disloyalty to the established authority of the Territory, 
and the friends of slavery were, in one respect, the law-abiding 
part of the community ; while the revolutionary Topeka legisla- 
ture was in session, claiming to be the lawful legislature, and a 
turbulent and dangerous military leader was at the head of the 
anti-slavery party, in open opposition to the only lawful gov- 
ernment of the Territory, presses and pulpits throughout the 
North teemed with denunciations of the new President, who 
had not allowed revolutionary violence to prevail over the law 
of the land. At length there came from the State of Connecti- 
cut a memorial to the President, signed by forty-three of its 
distinguished citizens, among them several eminent clergymen, 
imputing to him a violation of his official oath, and informing 
him that they prayed the Almighty to preserve him from the 
errors of his ways. To this he replied with spirit and with 
a clear exposition of the mistakes into which ignorant zeal 
in the cause of freedom had led those who thus addressed 
him. His reply, dated August 15, 1857, is worthy of being 
reproduced : 

" When I entered upon the duties of the Presidential office, on the fourth 
of March last, what was the condition of Kansas ? This Territory had been 
organized under the Act of Congress of 30th May, 1854, and the government 
in all its branches was in full operation. A governor, secretary of the Terri- 
tory, chief justice, two associate justices, a marshal, and district attorney had 
been appointed by my predecessor, by and with the advice and consent of the 
Senate, and were all engaged in discharging their respective duties. A code 
of laws had been enacted by the Territorial legislature, and the judiciary were 
employed in expounding and carrying these laws into effect. It is quite true 
that a controversy had previously arisen respecting the validity of the election 
of members of the Territorial legislature and of the laws passed by them ; but 
at the time I entered upon my official duties, Congress had recognized this 
legislature in different forms and by different enactments. The delegate 
elected to the House of Representatives, under a Territorial law, had just 
completed his term of service on the day previous to my inauguration. In 
fact, I found the government of Kansas as well established as that of any 
other Territory. Under these circumstances, what was my duty ? Was 
it not to sustain this government ? to protect it from the violence of lawless 
men, who were determined either to rule or ruin ? to prevent it from bein<' 



OQ0 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

overturned by force? in the language of the Constitution, to 'take care that 

• laws be faithfully executed ? ' It was for this purpose, and this alone, that 

a military force to Kansas to act as a posse comitatus in aiding the 

magistrate to carry the laws into execution. The condition of the Terri- 

al the time, which I need not portray, rendered this precaution absolutely 
In this state of affairs, would I not have been justly condemned 
bad I left the marshal and other officers of a like character impotent to 
execute the process and judgments of courts of justice established by Con- 
gress, or by the Territorial legislature under its express authority, and thus 
have suffered the government itself to become an object of contempt in the 
eyes of the people ? And yet this is what you designate as forcing ' the 
people of Kansas to obey laws not their own, nor of the United States ' ; and 

loin" which you have denounced me as having violated my solemn oath. 
. what else could I have done, or ought I to have done ? Would you 
have desired that I should abandon the Territorial government, sanctioned as 
it had been by Congress, to illegal violence, and thus renew the scenes of civil 
war and bloodshed which every patriot in the country had deplored ? This 
would, indeed, have been to violate my oath of office, and to fix a damning 
blot on the character of my administration. 

" I most cheerfully admit that the necessity for sending a military force to 
Kansas to aid in the execution of the civil law, reflects no credit upon the 
character of our country. But let the blame fall upon the heads of the guilty. 
Whence did this necessity arise? A portion of the people of Kansas, unwil- 
ling to trust to the ballot-box — the certain American remedy for the redres9 
of all grievances — undertook to create an independent government for them- 

es. Had this attempt proved successful, it would of course have subverted 
the existing government, prescribed and recognized by Congress, and substi- 
tuted a revolutionary government in its stead. This was a usurpation of the 
same character as it would be for a portion of the people of Connecticut to 
undertake to establish a separate government within its chartered limits for 
the purpose of redressing any grievance, real or imaginary, of which they 
might have complained against the legitimate State government. Such a prin- 
ciple, if carried into execution, would destroy all lawful authority and produce 
universal anarchy." 

And again : "I thank you for the assurances that you will ' not refrain 
from the prayer that Almighty God will make my administration an example 
of justice and beneficence.' You can greatly aid me in arriving at this blessed 
consummation, by exerting your influence in allaying the existing sectional 

itement on the subject of slavery, which has been productive of much evil 
and no good, and which, if it could succeed in attaining its object, would ruin 
the slave as well as his master. This would be a work of genuine philan- 
thropy. Every day of my life I feel how inadequate I am to perform the 
duties of my high station without the continued support of Divine Providence, 
placing my trust in Him and in Him alone, I entertain a good hope that 
v, ill enable me to do equal justice to all portions of the Union, and thus 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 201 

render me an humble instrument in restoring peace and harmony among tin- 
people of the several States.'' 



The condition of Kansas continued for some time longer to 
be disturbed by the revolutionary proceedings of the adherents 
of the Topeka constitution. The inhabitants of the city of 
Lawrence undertook to organize an insurrection throughout the 
Territory. This town had been mainly established by the aboli- 
tion societies of the Eastern States. It had some respectable 
and well behaved citizens, but it was the headquarters of paid 
agitators, in the employment of certain anti-slavery organiza- 
tions. It became necessary for Governor Walker to suppress 
this threatened insurrection. The military leader of the Free 
State party undertook, in July, to organize his party into volun- 
teers, and to take the names of all who refused enrollment. The 
professed purpose of this organization was to protect the polls 
at an election in August of a new Topeka legislature. Many 
of the conservative citizens, who had hitherto acted witli the 
Free State party, w r ere subjected to personal outrages for 
refusing to be enrolled. To meet this revolutionary military 
organization, and to prevent the establishment of an insurrec- 
tionary government at Lawrence, the Territorial Governor had 
to retain in Kansas a large body of United States troops. The 
insurgent general and his military staff denied the authority 
of the Territorial laws, and counselled the people not to par- 
ticipate in the elections ordered under the authority of the 
Lecompton convention.* 

The Lccompton convention, which met for the second time 
on the 2d of September, and then proceeded to frame a State 
constitution, adjourned on the 7th of November. Although 
this constitution recognized slavery, the con,°ntion took steps 
to submit the question to the people of the Territory, in a free 
ballot, by all the white male inhabitants, before it should be sent 
to Congress for admission into the Union. It would have been 
more regular to have submitted the whole constitution to the 
people, although the organic Act did not require it ; but on 
the question of slavery, which was the vital one, it can not be 

* Governor Walker's despatches to the Secretary of State, July 15th, 20th and 27th, 1837. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

nded that the convention acted unfairly. The election was 
directed to be held on the 21st of December, (1857), and the 
ballots were to be "Constitution with Slavery," and " Consti- 
t ut i( .ii with no Slavery." Thus the opportunity was again pre- 
I lor the people of the Territory to vote upon the question 
on which they were divided ; and again the anti-slavery party, 
with the exception of a few hundred of the voters, abstained 
from voting. The result was that there were 6,226 votes in 
fav< >r of the " Constitution with Slavery," and only 569 against it. 

The Lecompton constitution provided for holding an election 
of State officers, a legislature and a member of Congress, on 
the first Monday of January, 1858. The President sent 
instructions to the Territorial governor which secured a peace- 
able election. A larger vote was polled than at any previons 
ele t [< in. The party which had previously refused to vote, now 
changed their tactics. They elected a large majority of the 
members of the legislature, and the political power of the pro- 
posed new State was therefore in their hands. But for their 
previous factional resistance to the authority of the Territorial 
government, they might have attained this result at a much 
earlier period. 

On the 30th of January, 1858, the President received the so- 
called Lecompton constitution from the president of the con- 
vention, with a request that it be laid before Congress. And 
here it is necessary to pause, for the purpose of a just under- 
standing of the grounds on which the President recommended 
the admission of Kansas with this constitution. He was assailed 
with almost every epithet of vituperation of which our language 
admits, as if he was responsible for and in favor of the pro- 
slaver v feature of this constitution. A simple and truthful con- 
sideration of his official duty under the organic Act by which 
the Territory was organized, and a candid recital of the reasons 
on which he urged the admission of the State with this consti- 
i ui inn, will enable my readers to determine with what justice 
he was treated in this matter. 

Mr. Buchanan was elected President upon a political " plat- 
form," adopted by the Cincinnati Convention, which nominated 
him, and which, like all the platforms of that period, dealt, 
among other things, with the vexed subject of slavery in Terri- 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 203 

tories. But the Cincinnati platform of the Democratic party 
did not affirm the right of a Territorial legislature to establish or 

to prohibit slavery: nor did it admit the doctrine of " popular 
sovereignty," as applied to a people while in the Territorial 
condition. What it did affirm was, that at the period when the 
people of a Territory should he forming and adopting a State 

constitution, they should he allowed to sanction or exclude 
slavery as they should see tit. This distinction has of course no 
interest at the present day. But in the condition of the Union 
in the year 1856, this distinction was of great practical import- 
ance. The political men who framed the Cincinnati platform 
had to consider how they could present to the people of the 
United States a principle of action on this exciting topic of 
slavery in the Territories, that would be consistent with the 
rights of slave-holding and non-slaveholding States in the com- 
mon property of the Union, and at the same time affirm as a 
party doctrine a basis of proceeding that could be safely applied 
in any Territory and that would maintain its true relation as a 
Territory to the Government of the United States. If they 
were in pursuit of votes for their candidate, it should also be 
remembered that they were preparing for a great national party 
a set of political principles that would live and be active for a 
long time to come. Mr. Douglas had caused the Missouri 
Compromise to be swept away ; he had procured the passage of 
the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which had affirmed something that 
was both new and strange in the politics of this difficult sub- 
ject. This was, that in creating the body politic known as a 
Territory of the United States, Congress should neither legalize 
nor prohibit slavery while the Territorial condition continued, 
but that the same species of " popular sovereignty " should be 
held to be inherent in the people of a Territory that is inherent 
in the people of a State, so that they could act on the subject of 
slavery for themselves from the time of their first entry into the 
Territory and before they had been authorized to form them- 
selves into a State. The ad captandum phrase " popular sover- 
eignty " procured for this theory many adherents. But it was 
irreconcilable with what others asserted to be the true relation 
of a Territory to the Congress of the United States, and equally 
irreconcilable with the claim of the Southern slaveholder to go 



. M)! LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

into a Territory with his property in slaves and to maintain 
there thai property until the State constitution had sanctioned 
or prohibited it. The framers of the Cincinnati platform did 
nol propose to elect a President on this basis. They therefore 
Dot affirm that a Territorial legislature, or the people of a 
Territory, should be allowed to act on the subject of slavery in 
any way; but they proclaimed as their doctrine that when the 
people of a Territory, acting under the authority of an organic 
law, should frame and adopt a State constitution, they should be at 
liberty to make their State free or slave as they might see fit. 

»re this period the Cincinnati platform was silent ; and it 
was silent because its framers did not see fit to trammel them- 
selves or their candidate with a doctrine of " popular sover- 
eignty " irreconcilable with the governing authority of Congress, 
and also because in this matter of slavery there was a question 
of property involved. When, therefore, Mr. Buchanan accepted 
the Cincinnati platform, and was elected upon it, he went into 
the office of President without being in any way committed to 
the doctrine of " popular sovereignty," as expounded by Mr. 
Douglas. 

But the Kansas-Nebraska Act was both a bone of contention 
between two portions of the Democratic party and a law of the 
land. As President, Mr. Buchanan had only to construe and 
administer it. It contained, as explanatory of the purpose of 
Congress in abolishing the Missouri Compromise restriction, 
the following declaration : " It being the true intent and mean- 
ing of this Act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or 
State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people 
thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic insti- 
tutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the 
I uited States.*' This was in one respect ambiguous, and in 
another not so. It was ambiguous in not clearly defining the 
time at which this right to form their own domestic institutions 
was to be considered as inhering in the people of a Territory. 
It Avas unambiguous in subordinating the exercise of this right 
to the Constitution of the United States. In carrying out the 
law, the President had to consider what was the limitation 
imposed by the Constitution of the United States upon the 
operation of this newly created right. This brought before him 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 205 

the action of the Supreme Court of the Dinted States on the 
subject of slave property in the Territories, which had occurred 
a few days after his inauguration. 

Whatever may be said of the action of the Supreme ( Jourt in 
the well-known case of ik Dred Scott," in regard to its being 
technically a judicial decision, there can be no doubt as to what 
a majority of the judges meant to affirm and did affirm in their 
respective opinions.* This was that property in slaves, being 
recognized as a right of property by the Constitution of the 
United States, although established only by the local law of a 
particular State, travelled with the person of the owner into a 
Territory ; and while the Territorial condition continued, such 
property could not be abolished by the legislation of Congress 
or the legislation of the Territorial government. Mr. Buchanan 
always regarded this as a judicial decision of this question of 
property ; and as the construction of the Kansas-Nebraska Act 
was by its express terms to be determined by the court, he con- 
sidered it his duty to regard the period of time on which the 
people of Kansas were to decide the question of slavery or no 
slavery to be at the formation and adoption of a State constitu- 
tion. This was the clear deduction to be drawn from the consti- 
tutional doctrine which had been enunciated by a majority of 
the judges. 

Hence it was that all his official influence w T as exerted, through 
the Territorial government, to induce the people of Kansas to 
act on the question of slavery at the proper time and in the 
only practical w r ay : namely, by voting for delegates to the con- 
vention called under the authority of the Territorial laws, and 
then voting on the constitution which that convention should 
frame. It certainly was no wish of his to have Kansas become 
a slaveholding State ; he could have no motive in the whole 
matter but to get it decided what her domestic condition was 
to be, by the ballot-box instead of the rifle, by voting and not 
by lighting. He could, by no sort of justice, be held responsi- 
ble for the result which was produced by the refusal of the 



* I have more than once publicly expressed my belief that there was, technically speaking, 
no judicial decision in that case. But others, among them President Buchanan, always 
regarded it as a " decision." 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

anti-slavery party to vote; and when the Lecompton constitu- 
ti , lM peached him', he could not avoid submitting it to Congress. 
He submitted it with a strong recommendation that Kansas be 
ived into the Union under it. His reasons for this recom- 
mendation ure now to be stated. 

1. The Lecompton constitution was republican in form, and 
it had been framed and voted upon in a free and open ballot, 
which the convention had directed to be taken on the all- 
important question of slavery. 2. The question of slavery was 
thus localized, confined to the people whom it immediately 
concerned, and banished from the halls of Congress, where it 
had been always exerting a baneful influence upon the country 
at large. 3. If Congress, for the sake of those who had refused 
to exercise their power of excluding slavery from the constitu- 
tion of Kansas, should now reject it because slavery remained 
in it, the agitation would be renewed everywhere in a more 
alarming form than it had yet assumed. 4. After the admission 
of the State, its people would be sovereign over this and every 
other domestic question ; they could mould their institutions as 
they should see fit, and if, as the President had every reason 
to believe, a majority of the people were opposed to slavery, 
the legislature already elected under this constitution could at 
once provide for amending it in the proper manner. 5. If this 
constitution should be sent back by Congress because it sanc- 
tioned slavery, a second constitution would have to be framed 
and sent to Congress, and there would be a revival of the 
slavery agitation, both in Congress and throughout the Union. 
6. The speedy admission of Kansas, which would restore peace 
and harmony to the whole country, was of infinitely greater 
consequence than the small difference of time that would be 
required for the people to exercise their own sovereign power 
over the whole subject after they had become a State, compared 
with the process of a new convention to be held under the 
auspices of the Territorial government.* 

* See the President's message of February 28, 1858, submitting the Lecompton constitu- 

In describing the President's views on this subject I have not only relied upon his 

messages and other official papers, but 1 have drawn them also from an elaborate private paper 

in hie baud-writing, which is of too great length to be inserted textually in this work. It 

n latcs to the construction of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a construction which he felt bound 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 207 

" This message," says Mr. Buchanan, " gave rise to a long, 
exciting, and occasionally violent debate in both Houses of 
Congress, between the anti-slavery members and their oppo- 
nents, which lasted for three months. In the course of it, 
shivery was denounced in every form which could exasperate 
the Southern people, and render it odious to the people of the 
North ; whilst on the other hand, many of the speeches of 
Southern members displayed characteristic violence. Thus two 
sessions of Congress in succession had been in a great degree 
occupied with the same inflammatory topics, in discussing the 
affairs of Kansas."* At length, however, an Act which had 
been reported by a committee of conference of both Houses, 
admitting Kansas into the Union as a State under the Lecomp- 
ton constitution, was passed in the Senate by a vote of 31 to 22, 
and in the House by a vote of 112 to 103, and was signed by 
the President on the 4th of May, lS5S.f The validity of the 
proceedings in Kansas which had produced the Lecompton con- 
stitution was expressly admitted by the preamble of this statute. 

But the Act annexed a condition precedent to the final admis- 
sion of the State under this constitution. This related, not to 
slavery, but to the public lands within the territory. The ordi- 
nance of the convention which accompanied the Lecompton con- 
stitution demanded for the State a cession of the public lands 
more than six times the quantity that had ever been granted to 
any other State, when received into the Union. Congress would 
not assent to such an exaction. It was therefore provided that 
the people of the State should vote upon a proposition reducing 
the number of acres to be ceded to the same number that had 
been granted to other States ; and that when this proposition 
should have been ascertained by the President's proclamation 
to have been accepted, the admission of the State, upon an 
equal footing with all the other States, should be complete and 

to adopt in consequence of the views taken of the subject of slavery in Territories by the 
Supreme Court, as he said in his inaugural address that he should do. In this IIS., he 

speaks of " The infamous and unfounded assertion of Mr. , that in a conversation with 

Chief Justice Taney, he [the Chief Justice] had informed him in advance of the inaugural 
what the opinion [of the court] would be." 

* Buchanan's Defence, p. 45. 

t II U. S. Laws, p. 269. In the Senate, Mr. Douglas voted with the minority, as did a 
few anti-Lecompton Democrats in the House. [ Congressional Globe, li'07-8, pp. 13'.)9, 1GC5.] 
The Act was carried by a party vote. 






LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



absolute. But the condition was never fulfilled. The people 
of Kansas rejected it on the 2d of August, 1858, and the 
Lecompton constitution thus fell to the ground. "Notwith- 
standing this,'' Mr. Buchanan observes, "the recognition by 
Congress of the regularity of the proceedings in forming the 
Lecompton constitution, did much good, at least for a season. 
h diverted the attention of the people from fighting to voting, 
a most salutary change."* 

In his next annual message, of December G, 1858, the 
President said : 

"When we compare the condition of the country at the present day with 
what it was one year ago, at the meeting of Congress, we have much reason 
for gratitude to that Almighty Providence which has never failed to interpose 
for our relief at the most critical periods of our history. One year ago the 
sectional strife between the North and the South on the dangerous subject of 
slavery had again become so intense as to threaten the peace and perpetuity 
of the confederacy. The application for the admission of Kansas as a State 
into the Union fostered this unhappy agitation, and brought the whole subject 
once more before Congress. It was the desire of every patriot that such 
measures of legislation might be adopted as would remove the excitement from 
the States and confine it to the Territory where it legitimately belonged. 
Much has been done, I am happy to say, towards the accomplishment of this 
object during the last session of Congress. 

The Supreme Court of the United States had previously decided that all 
American citizens have an equal right to take into the Territories whatever is 
held as property under the laws of any of the States, and to hold such prop- 
erty there under the guardianship of the Federal Constitution, so long as the 
Territorial condition shall remain. This is now a well-established position, and 
the proceedings of the last session were alone wanting to give it practical 
effect. 

The principle has been recognized, in some form or other, by an almost 
unanimous vote of both Houses of Congress, that a Territory has a right to 
come into the Union either as a free or a slave State, according to the will of 
a majority of its people. The just equality of all the States has thus been 
vindicated, and a fruitful source of dangerous dissension among them has been 
removed. 

While such has been the beneficial tendency of your legislative proceed- 
ings outside of Kansas, their influence has nowhere been so happy as within 
that Territory itself. Left to manage and control its own affairs in its own 
without the pressure of external influence, the revolutionary Topeka 

* Buchanan's Defence, p. 46. 



DISTURBANCES IN KANSAS. 209 

organization, and all resistance to the Territorial government established by 
Congress, have been Gnally abandoned. As a natural consequence, that fine 
Territory now appears to be tranquil and prosperous, and is attracting 
increasing thousands of immigrants t(j make it their happy home. 

The past unfortunate experience of Kansas has enforced the lesson, so 
often already taught, that resistance to lawful authority, under our form of 
government, cannot fail in the end to prove disastrous to its authors. 

The people of Kansas, from this time forward, "left to 
manage their own affairs in their own way, without the presence 
of external iniluence," found that they could decide this ques- 
tion of slavery by their own votes, and that the stimulus and 
the materials for fighting, which had been supplied to them 
from the Northern or the Southern States, were poor means in 
comparison with the ballot-box. The anti-slavery party were 
numerically the strongest ; and having now given up all factious 
resistance to the Territorial government, they were able, under 
its auspices, to establish a free constitution, under which the 
State was admitted into the Union on the 29th of January, 
1861. But the effect of this struggle, precipitated by the repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise, and carried on for a period of 
seven years, was most disastrous to the peace and harmony of 
the Union. It fixed the attention of both sections of the Union 
upon a subject of the most inflammatory nature. On the one 
hand, the Democratic party, which extended throughout all the 
States, slaveholding and non-slaveholding, and which had 
elected Mr. Buchanan by the votes of both free and slave States, 
no longer had a common bond of party union in a common 
principle of action on the question of slavery in Territories. 
A portion of the party, under the lead of Mr. Douglas, and 
known as " the Northern Democracy," rejected the doctrine 
enunciated by the Judges of the Supreme Court, and still 
adhered to their principle of " popular sovereignty." The 
residue of the party, calling themselves " the Old Democracy," 
adhered to what they regarded as the decision of the court, 
maintained that the time for the people of a Territory to act on 
the subject of slavery was when forming and adopting a State 
constitution, and that in the previous period, the equal right of 
all the States in the common property of the Union could be 

II.— 14 



o 10 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

ted only by confining the power of the people of a Ter- 
ritory to the time of adopting a constitution. On the other 
hand the new party, to which these events had given birth, and 
into which were now consolidating all the elements of the anti- 
feeling of the free States, rejected entirely the principle 
enunciated by a majority of the Supreme Court, maintained 
that the Southern slave-holder could, have no right to hold as 
I »r< >perty in a Territory that which was property at all only under 
the local law of a slave-holding State, and proclaimed that Con- 
must, by positive statute, annul any such supposed right 
in regard to all existing and all future Territories. If these con- 
dieting sectional feelings and interests could have been confined 
to the practical question of what was to be done in the Territories 
before they should become States, there might have been less 
danger resulting from their agitation. In the nature of things, 
however, they could not be so confined. They brought into re- 
newed discussion the whole subject of slavery everywhere, until 
the North and the South became involved in a struggle for the 
Presidency that was made to turn almost exclusively upon this 
.one topic. But how this came about, and how it resulted in an 
attempted disruption of the Union, must be related hereafter. 









CHAPTER X. 

1857— 1861. 

FOREIGN RELATIONS DURING MR. BUCHANAN'S ADMINISTRATION. 

THE internal affairs of the country during the administration 
of Mr. Buchanan occupied so much of the public atten- 
tion at the time, and have since "been a subject of so much 
interest, that his management of our foreign relations has been 
quite obscured. Before I approach the troubled period which 
witnessed the beginning of the Southern revolt, I shall describe, 
with as much brevity as I can use, whatever is most important 
in the relations of the United States with other countries, that 
transpired during his Presidency. 

It will be seen, hereafter, from what he recorded in his pri- 
vate papers at the time of the resignation of General Cass from 
the State Department, in the latter part of the year 1860, that 
Mr. Buchanan had to be virtually his own Secretary of State, 
until Judge Black succeeded to that office. This w T as less irk- 
some to him than it might have been to other Presidents, 
because of his great familiarity with the diplomatic history 
of the country, and his experience in the diplomatic service. 
His strong personal regard for General Cass, whose high charac- 
ter, as well as his political standing in the party of which they 
were both members, and the demand of the Western States, had 
been the reasons for offering to him the Department of State, 
made Mr. Buchanan patient and kind towards one who did 
not render him much aid in the business of that office. Mr. 
Buchanan, too, was a man who never shrank from labor. His 
industry was incessant and untiring ; it did not flag with his 
advancing years ; and it was an industry applied, in foreign 
affairs, to matters of which he had a fuller and more intimate 
knowledge than any American statesman of his time who was 
living when he became President of the United States. His 
private papers bear ample testimony to the minute and constant 
attention which he gave to the foreign relations of the country, 



.,[.- LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

and to the extent of his employment of his own pen. He wrote 
with iriv.it facility, precision and clearness, from a mind stored 
with historical information and the principles of public law. 
There was no topic and no question in the foreign relations of 
I rnited States on which his knowledge did not come readily 
and promptly to his hand. In this respect, with the exception 
of .Mr. Jefferson and Mr. John Quincy Adams, we have as yet 
had no President who was his superior, or his equal Like them, 
he had passed through the office of Secretary of State, as well as 
through very important foreign missions ; an advantage which 
always tells in the office of President, when it is combined with 
the qualifications that are peculiar to American statesmanship. 

First in importance, if not in dignity, the relations of the 
United States with England, at any period of our history, and 
the mode in which they were handled, are topics of permanent 
interest. How often these two kindred nations have been on 
the verge of war, and how that peril has been encountered and 
averted cannot cease to be instructive. Nor is it of less conse- 
quence to note the course of a President, who, during an admin- 
istration fraught with the most serious hazards to the internal 
relations of the United States with each other, kept steadily 
in view the preservation of peace and good will between the 
United States and Great Britain, while he abated nothing from 
our just claims or our national dignity. Mr. Buchanan left to 
his successor no unsettled question between these two nations, 
that was of any immediate importance, and he left the feeling 
between them and their respective governments in a far better 
condition than he found it on his accession to the Presidency, 
and in a totally different state from that which ensued after the 
beginning of our civil war. 

But when he became President, two irritating and dangerous 
questions were pending, inherited from former administrations. 
The first of these related, as we have seen, to the British claim 
of a protectorate over the Mosquito coast, and to the establish- 
ment of colonial government over the Bay Islands ; territories 
that belonged respectively to the feeble republics of Nicaragua 
and Eonduras. It has been seen in a former chapter how the 
ambiguity of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty had led the British 
government to adopt a construction of it which would support 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 213 

these claims, and which would justify the pretension that bj 
that treaty the United States had receded from what was culled 
the " Monroe Doctrine." This treaty, concluded in 1S."><> by the 
administration of General Taylor, was supposed in this country 
to have settled these questions in favor of the United States, 
and that Great Britain would withdraw from the territories of 
Nicaragua and Honduras. But she did not withdraw. ELer 
ministers continued to claim that the treaty only restrained her 
from making future acquisitions in Central America, and that 
the true inference from this was that she could hold her existing 
possessions. It was, as lias been seen, in the hope of settling 
this question, that Mr. Buchanan accepted the mission to Eng- 
land in 1S53. Why it was not settled at that time, has been 
already stated in detail. It remained to be amicably and honor- 
ably settled, under his advice and approbation, after he became 
President, by treaties between Great Britain and the two Cen- 
tral American States, in accordance with the American con- 
struction of the Clayton-Bulvver treaty. 

The long standing question in regard to the right of search 
came into the hands of President Buchanan at a moment and 
under circumstances that required the most vigorous action. 
The belligerent right of search, exercised by Great Britain in the 
maritime wars of 1812, had been a cause of constant irritation 
to the people of this country. In progress of time, England 
undertook to assert a right to detain and search merchantmen 
on the high seas, in time of peace, suspected of being engaged 
in the slave trade. There was no analogy, even, in this to the 
belligerent right of visitation and search, whatever the latter 
might comprehend. An accommodation, rather than a settle- 
ment, of this claim was made in the treaty of 1842, negotia- 
ted between Lord Ashburton and Mr. "Webster, by which each 
nation agreed to keep a squadron of its own on the coast of 
Africa, for the suppression of the slave trade when carried 
on under their respective flags, or under any claim or use 
of their flags, or by their subjects or citizens respectively. 
Although this stipulation was accompanied by a very 
forcible declaration made by Mr. Webster, under the direc- 
tion of President Tyler, that the American Government 
admitted of no right of visitation and search of merchant ves- 
sels in time of peace, England did not wholly abandon or re- 



o U LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

oounce her claim of a right to detain and search all vessels on 
the high seas which the commanders of her cruisers might sus- 
• to be slave traders. In the spring of 1858, a number of 
small cruisers which had been employed in the Crimean war 
was despatched by the British government to the coast of Cuba 
and the Grulf of Mexico, with orders to search all merchantmen 
Buspected to be engaged in the slave trade. The presence of 
these cruisers, acting under such orders, in waters traversed in 
all directions by American vessels engaged in the foreign and 
coastwise trade, became most alarming. Nor was the alarm 
lessened by the manner in which the orders were carried out. 
Many American vessels were stopped and searched rudely and 
offensively. A loud call was made upon the President to inter- 
fere. A general indignation broke forth in all quarters of the 
Union. President Buchanan, always vigilant in protecting the 
commerce of the country, but mindful of the importance of 
preventing any necessity for war, remonstrated to the English 
government against this violation of the freedom of the seas. 

Still, the occasion required, in the opinion of the President, 
that remonstrance should be backed by force. Great Britain 
had thought proper, without warning, to send a force into waters 
filled with American commerce, with orders to do what she had 
not the smallest right to do. It was a very aggressive proceed- 
ing to be taken against the commerce of a nation that had 
always denied the alleged right of search as a right to be exer- 
cised in time of peace for any purpose whatever. A very large 
naval force was at once despatched to the neighborhood of Cuba, 
by order of the President, with instructions "to protect all 
vessels of the United States on the high seas from search or 
detention by the vessels of war of any other nation." Any one 
of the cruisers sent on this mission could have resisted a ship 
of the largest class. The effect was most salutary. The British 
government receded, recalled their orders, abandoned the claim 
of the right of search, and recognized the principle of inter- 
national law in favor of the freedom of the seas. This was the 
end of a long controversy between the two governments.* 

* The Senate, although at a late period, unanimously approved of the instructions given 
■ airy of the Navy, and by him carried out. (Sec Congressional Globe, 185S-9, 
p. 8C61 ; Senate Documents, vol. IV, p. 3, Report of the Secretary of the Navy.) 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 215 

During the whole of Mr. Buchanan's administration our 
relations with Mexico were in a complicated and critical posi- 
tion, in consequence of the internal condition of that country 
and of the clanger of interference by European powers. Mr. 
Buchanan has himself concisely and accurately described the 
statu of things in Mexico at the time <>f his accession to the 
Presidency, and down to the end <>!* the year 1859, and 1 there- 
fore quote his description, rather than make one of my own : 

That republic has been in a state of constant revolution ever since it 
achieved its independence from Spain. The various constitutions adopted 
from time to time had been set at naught almost as soon as proclaimed; and 
one military leader after another, in rapid succession, had usurped the govern 
ment. This fine country, blessed with a benign climate, a fertile soil, and vast 
mineral resources, was reduced by civil war and brigandage to a condition of 
almost hopeless anarchy. Meanwhile, our treaties with the republic were 
incessantly violated. Our citizens were imprisoned, expelled from the coun- 
try, and in some instances murdered. Their vessels, merchandise, and other 
property were seized and confiscated. While the central government at the 
capital were acting in this manner, such was the general lawlessness prevail- 
ing, that different parties claiming and exercising local authority in several 
districts were committing similar outrages on our citizens. Our treaties had 
become a dead letter, and our commerce with the republic was almost entirely 
destroyed. The claims of American citizens filed in the State Department, 
for which they asked the interposition of their own Government with that of 
Mexico to obtain redress and indemnity, exceeded $10,000,000. Although 
this amount may have been exaggerated by the claimants, still their actual 
losses must have been very large.* 

In all these cases as they occurred our successive ministers demanded 
redress, but their demands were only followed by new injuries. Their testi- 
mony was uniform and emphatic in reference to the only remedy which in 
their judgments would prove effectual. " Nothing but a manifestation of the 
power of the Government of the United States,'' wrote Mr. John Forsyth, 
our minister in 1856, <; and of its purpose to punish these wrongs will avail. 
I assure you that the universal belief here is, that there is nothing to be appre- 
hended from the Government of the United States, and that local Mexican 
officials can commit these outrages upon American citizens with absolute 
impunity." 

In the year 1S57 a favorable change occurred in the affairs of the republic, 
inspiring better hopes for the future. A constituent congress, elected by the 
people of the different States for this purpose, had framed anil adopted a 

* List of Claims, Senate Executive Documents, p. 18, 2d session 35th Congress, Presi- 
dent's Message. 



21 - LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

republican constitution. It adjourned on the 17th February, 1857, having 
;„,, led for a popular election to be held in July for a president and mem- 
3S. At this election General Comonfort was chosen president 
nlraost without opposition. His term of office was to commence on the 1st 
1 857, and to continue for four years. In case his office should 
become vacant, the constitution had provided that the chief justice of Mexico, 
i ;,1 Juarez, should become president, until the end of the term. On 
the 1st December, 1857, General Comonfort appeared before the congress 
then in session, took the oath to support the constitution, and was duly inaug- 
urated. 

But the hopes thus inspired for the establishment of a regular constitutional 
government soon proved delusive. President Comonfort, within one brief 
month, was driven from the capital and the republic by a military rebellion 
headed by General Zuloaga; and General Juarez consequently became the 
constitutional president of Mexico until the 1st day of December, 18G1. Gen- 
ual Zuloaga instantly assumed the name of president with indefinite powers ; 
and the entire diplomatic corps, including the minister from the United States, 
made haste to recognize the authority of the usurper without awaiting in- 
structions from their respective governments. But Zuloaga was speedily 
expelled from power. Having encountered the resistance of the people in 
many parts of the republic, and a large portion of the capital having "pro- 
nounced " against him, he was in turn compelled to relinquish the presidency. 
The field was now cleared for the elevation of General Miramon. He had 
from the beginning been the favorite of the so-called " Church party," and 
was ready to become their willing instrument in maintaining the vast estates 
and prerogatives of the Church, and in suppressing the Liberal constitution. 
An assembly of his partisans, called together without even the semblance of 
authority, elected him president, but he warily refused to accept the office at 
their hands. lie then resorted to another but scarcely more plausible expe- 
dient to place himself in power. This was to identify himself with General 
Zuloaga, who had just been deposed, and to bring him again upon the stage 
as president. Zuloaga accordingly reappeared in this character, but his only 
act was to appoint Miramon "president substitute," when he again retired. 
It is under this title that Miramon has since exercised military authority in 
the city of Mexico, expecting by this stratagem to appropriate to himself the 
recognition of the foreign ministers which had been granted to Zuloaga. He 
succeeded. The ministers continued their relations with him as "president 
stitute" in the same manner as if Zuloaga had still remained in power. 
It was by this farce, for it deserves no better name, that Miramon succeeded in 
ping the presidency. The idea that the chief of a nation at his own discre- 
tion may transfer to whomsoever he please the trust of governing, delegated to 
him for the benefit of the people, is too absurd to receive a moment's counte- 
nance. But when we reflect that Zuloaga, from whom Miramon derived his 
title, was himself a military usurper, having expelled the constitutional presi- 
dent (Comonfort) from office, it would have been a lasting disgrace to the 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 217 

Mexican people had they tamely submitted to the yoke To such an impu- 
tation a large majority proved themselves not to be justly exposed. Although, 
on former occasions, a seizure of the capital and the usurpation of power by a 
military chieftain bad been generally followed, at least for a brief season, by 
an acquiescence of the Mexican people, yet they now ruse boldly and inde- 
pendently to defend their rights. 

President Juarez, after having been driven from the city of Mexieo by 
Zuloaga, proceeded to form a constitutional government at Guanajuato. 
From thence he removed to Vera Cruz, where he put his administration in 
successful operation. The people in many portions of the republic rallied in 
its support and flew to arms. A civil war thus began between the friends of 
the constitution and the partisans of Miramon. In this conflict it was not 
possible for the American people to remain indifferent spectators. They 
naturally favored the cause of President Juarez, and expressed ardent wishes 
for his success. Meanwhile Mr. Forsyth, the American minister, still con- 
tinued at the city of Mexico in the discharge of his official duties until June, 
1858, when he suspended his diplomatic relations with the Miramon govern- 
ment, until he should ascertain the decision of the President. Its outrages 
towards American citizens and its personal indignities towards himself, with- 
out hope of amendment or redress, rendered bis condition no longer tolerable. 
Our relations, bad as they had been under former governments, had now 
become still worse under that of Miramon. President Buchanan approved 
the step which Mr. Forsyth had take-i. He was consequently directed to 
demand his passports, to deposit the archives of the legation with Mr. Black, 
our consul at the city of Mexico, and to proceed to Vera Cruz, where an 
armed steamer would be in readiness to convey himself and family to the 
United States.* 

Thus was all diplomatic intercourse finally terminated with the government 
of Miramon, whilst none had been organized with that of Juarez. The 
President entertained some hope that this rupture of diplomatic relations might 
cause Miramon to reflect seriously on the danger of war with the United 
States, and might at least arrest future outrages on our citizens. Instead of 
this, however, he persisted in his course of violence against the few American 
citizens who had the courage to remain under his power. The President, in 
his message of December, 18o9,t informs Congress that " murders of a still 
more atrocious character have been committed in the very heart of Mexico, 
under the authority of Miramon's government, during the present year. Some 
of these were worthy only of a barbarous age, and if they had not been 
clearly proven, would have seemed impossible in a country which claims to be 
civilized." And in that of December, 1860, he says: "To cap the climax, 
after the battle of Tacubaya, in April, 1S59, General Marquez ordered three 
citizens of the United States, two of them physicians, to be seized in the 

* Letter of General Cas< to Mr. Forsyth, July 10th, 1S58. Senate D- camente, 1353-1829. 
vol. i.. p. 43 

t House Journal, p. 207. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

I fchat place, taken out and shot, without crime, and without trial. 

done notwithstanding our unfortunate countrymen were at the 
moment en^ed in the holy cause of affording relief to the soldiers of both 
parties who kid been wounded in the battle, without making any distinction 

■• Little less shocking was the recent fate of Ormond Chase, who was shot 
m Tep i C] on the 7th August, by order of the same Mexican general, not only 
without 'a trial, but without any conjecture by his friends of the cause of his 
arrest." He was represented to have been a young man of good character 
and intelligence, who had made numerous friends in Tepic, and his unexpected 
execution "shocked the whole community. " Other outrages," the President 
states "might be enumerated; but these are sufficient to illustrate the 
wretched state of the country and the unprotected condition of the persons 
and property of our citizens in Mexico." 

" The wrongs which wc have suffered from Mexico are before the world, 
and must deeply impress every American citizen. A government which is 
either unable or unwilling to redress such wrongs, is derelict to its highest 

duties. - ' 

Meanwhile, the civil war between the parties was conducted with various 
success, but the scale preponderated in favor of the constitutional cause. Ere 
long the government of Juarez extended its authority, and was acknowledged 
in all the important ports and throughout the sea-coasts and external territory 
of the republic; whilst the power of Miramon was confined to the city of 
Mexico and the surrounding States. 

The final triumph of Juarez became so probable, that President Buchanan 
deemed it his duty to inquire and ascertain whether, according to our constant 
usage in such cases, he might not recognize the constitutional government. 
For the purpose of obtaining reliable information on this point, he sent a con- 
fidential agent to Mexico to examine and report the actual condition and 
prospects of the belligerents. In consequence of his report, as well as of 
intelligence from other sources, he felt justified in appointing a new minister 
to the Mexican republic. For this office Mr. Robert M. McLane, a distin- 
guished citizen of Maryland, was selected. He proceeded on his mission on 
the 8th March, 1839, invested " with discretionary authority to recognize the 
government of President Juarez, if on his arrival in Mexico he should find it 
entitled to such recognition, according to the established practice of the United 
States." In consequence, on the 7th of April, Mr. McLane recognized the 
constitutional government by presenting his credentials to President Juarez, 
having no hesitation, as he said, " in pronouncing the government of Juarez 
to be the only existing government of the republic." He was cordially 
received by the authorities at Vera Cruz, who have ever since manifested the 
friendly disposition toward the United States. 

1 ahappily, however, the constitutional government, though supported by a 

jority, both of the people and of the several Mexican States, had not 

i able to expel Miramon from the capital. In the opinion of the President, 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. ;il'j 

it had now become the imperative duty of Congress to act without further 
delay, and to enforce redress from the government of Miramon for the wrongs 
it had committed in violation of the faith of treaties against citizens of the 

United States. 

Toward no other government would we have manifested so long and SO 
patient a forbearance. This arose from our warm sympathies for a neighbor- 
ing republic. The territory under the sway of Miramon around the capital 

was not accessible to our forces without passing through the States under 
the jurisdiction of the constitutional government. But this from the bej 
ning had aways manifested the warmest desire to cultivate the most friendly 
relations with our country. No doubt was therefore entertained that it would 
cheerfully grant us the right of passage. Moreover, it well knew that the 
expulsion of Miramon would result in the triumph of the constitutional gov- 
ernment and its establishment over the whole territory of Mexico. What 
was, also, deemed of great importance by the President, this would remove 
from us the danger of a foreign war in support of the Monroe doctrine against 
any European nation which might be tempted, by the distracted condition of 
the republic, to interfere forcibly in its internal affairs under the pretext of 
restoring peace and order.* 

It is now necessary to trace the President's policy in regard 
to these Mexican affairs, for the remainder of his term after the 
commencement of the session of Congress in December, 1850. He 
saw very clearly that unless active measures should be taken by 
the Government of the United States to reach a power with which 
a settlement of all claims and difficulties could be effected, some 
other nation would undertake to establish a government in 
Mexico, and the United States would then have to interfere, not 
only to secure the rights of their citizens, but to assert the prin- 
ciple of the " Monroe Doctrine," which, according to the long 
standing American claim, opposes European establishments upon 
any part of this continent. He had his eye especially at this 
time upon the Emperor of the French, whose colonizing policy 
for France was well known, and who, Mr. Buchanan was well 
informed, was exercising, through his minister, great influence 
over Miramon. It was morally certain that if our Congress did 
not give the President the means necessary either to uphold the 
constitutional government of Juarez, or to compel the govern- 
ment of Miramon to do justice to our citizens, he would be 
involved in the necessity for counteracting the designs of Louis 

* Buchanan's Defence, p. 2G7 et seq. 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Napoleon. If this would bo an interference with the internal 
affairs of a foreign nation, contrary to our long avowed policy, 
wafi qoI this an exceptional case? Mexico was our neighbor, 
with whom our social, commercial and political relations were 
very close. She had no settled government. Without the 
friendly aid of some external power, she could have no govern- 
ment that could preserve her internal peace, or fulfill her treaty 
, »1 >liga1 ions. She was, as Mr. Buchanan forcibly said, " a wreck 
upon the ocean, drifting about as she is impelled by different 
fact ions." What power could more safely and appropriately 
undertake to assist her in establishing a settled government 
than the great neighboring Republic of the United States, whose 
people and rulers could have no desire to see her depart from 
the principles of constitutional and republican institutions ? 
And if the United States had wrongs of their own citizens for 
which to seek redress and indemnification from the Mexican 
nation, was that a reason for refusing to do whatever might 
appropriately be done towards assisting any government which 
the Mexican people might be disposed to support and acknowl 
edo-e, to acquire the position and authority of a legitimate 
representative of the nation % It seemed to President Buchanan 
that there were but two alternatives : cither to march a force into 
Mexico which would be sufficient to enable the constitutional 
government to reach the capital and extend its power over the 
whole republic, or to let things drift in uncertainty until Louis 
Napoleon should interfere. If the United States would act in 
concert with the constitutional government, the President be- 
lieved that their consent and co-operation could be obtained. 
If the United States did nothing, the French would enter the 
country and the whole condition of affairs would become more 
complicated than they had ever been. 

Accordingly, the President, in his message to Congress, of 
December 19th, 1S59, recommended the passage of a law, au- 
thorizing him, under such conditions as Congress might deem 
expedient, to employ a sufficient military force to enter Mexico 
for the purpose of obtaining indemnity for the past and secu- 
rity fur the future. After explaining the necessity and expe- 
diency of this step, and pointing out in what manner this force 
could aid the constitutional government of Juarez, he said that 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 221 

if this were not don?, " it would not be surprising should some 
other nation undertake the task, and thus force us to inter- 
fere at last, under circumstances of increased difficulty, for the 
maintenance of our established policy.*' The entire session of 
L859-60 passed away without any notice being taken in Con 
gress of this recommendation. The attention of that body was 
absorbed in discussions about slavery, and in shaping the politics 
of the next Presidential election. It the President's recommen- 
dation about Mexico had been discussed, we might have been able 
to judge whether his political opponents were fearful that more 
territory would be acquired from Mexico, for the further exten- 
sion of slavery. But in regard to any such result of the mode 
in which the President proposed to secure an indemnification of 
the claims of our citizens, it is to bo observed that according to 
the terms of his recommendation, it would rest entirely with 
Congress to fix the preceding conditions of the intervention, 
and that if a treaty were to follow or precede, it would have to 
be ratified by the Senate. 

The President again brought this subject before Congress by 
his annual message of December, 1S60. Mr. Lincoln had now 
been elected President and the foreign relations of the country 
would in three months be in his hands. At this time, however, 
it had become still more necessary for the United States Gov- 
ernment to determine, and to determine promptly, whether it 
would leave American citizens to the mercy of Miramon's gov- 
ernment, or whether it would do something to establish the 
constitutional government of Juarez. Again the President 
repeated the warning that foreign powers w T oulcl interfere if this 
matter were to be much longer neglected, although at that 
moment informal and verbal assurances had been given by some 
of the European diplomatists in Mexico that such interference 
was not intended. Congress, however, spent the whole winter 
of 1S60-G1 in a dreary discussion of our internal affairs, with- 
out either making any effort to arrest the spread of secession by 
conciliatory measures, or doing anything to strengthen the hands 
of the President or his successor. 

But it had been for some time apparent to Mr. Buchanan that 
our relations with Mexico could not be left in the condition in 
which they stood. Both to satisfy the long deferred claims of 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

our citizens, and to prevent foreign interference with the inter- 
mil affairs of Mexico, he had instructed Mr. McLane to make a 
treaty with the Constitutional government. On the 14th of 
December 1859, a " Treaty of Transit and Commerce" was 
id between the Mexican Republic and the United States, 
and also a ••Convention to enforce treaty stipulations, and to 
maintain order and security in the territory of the Republics of 
Mexico and the United States." Great advantages of trade, 
t ransit and commerce were secured by these arrangements. The 
1'mtcd States was to pay $4,000,000 for the surrender of cer- 
tain Mexican duties, two millions to be paid down, and two 
millions to be reserved and distributed to the American claim- 
ants who could prove their injuries. With the two millions to 
be placed in the hands of the constitutional government, it was 
expected that it would be able to expel the usurping govern- 
ment from the capital and establish itself over the whole terri- 
tory of the republic. All acquisition of further Mexican terri- 
tory was thus avoided. If this treaty had been approved by the 
Senate of the United States, the empire of Maximilian would 
never have been heard of. The American negotiator, Mr. 
McLane, in his despatch to the Secretary of State, dated on the 
day this treaty and convention were signed at Yera Cruz, 
expressed his apprehension that if they were not ratified, further 
anarchy would prevail in Mexico, until it should be ended by 
interference from some other quarter. The President submitted 
the treaty and the convention to the Senate on the 24th of Jan- 
uary, 1860. They were neither of them approved. Mexico 
was left to the interference of Louis Napoleon ; the establish- 
ment of an empire, under Maximilian, a prince of the House 
of Eapsburg, followed, for the embarrassment of President Lin- 
coln's administration while we were in the throes of our civil 
Mar, and the claims of American citizens were to all appearance 
indefinitely postponed. 

The relations of the United States with Spain at the com- 

lement of Mr. Buchanan's administration, and the manner in 

which lie dealt with them, have been described by him as follows : 

Our relations with Spain were in a very unsatisfactory condition on his 
accession to power. Our flag bail been insulted, and numerous injuries had 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 003 

been inflicted on i.ho persons and property of American citizens by Spanish 
officials acting under the direct control of the Captain I General of Cuba. The 

gave rise to many but unavailing reclamations for redress and indemnity 
against the Spanish government. Our successive ministers al Madrid had for 
years ably presented and enforced these claims, bul all without effect. Their 
efforts were continually baffled on different pretexts. There was a class of 
these claims called the "Cuban claims," of a nature so plainly just that they 
could not be gainsayed. In these more than one hundred of cur citizens were 
directly interested. In 184-4 duties were illegally exacted from their vessels 
at different custom houses in Cuba, and they appealed to the Government 
to have these duties refunded. Their amount could be easily ascertained by 
the Cuban officials themselves, who were in possession of all the necessary 
documents. The validity of these claims was eventually recognized by Spain, 
but not until after a delay of ten years. The amount due was fixed, according 
to her own statement, with which the claimants were satisfied, at the sum of 
$128,035.54. Just at the moment when the claimants were expecting to 
receive this amount without further delay, the Spanish government proposed 
to pay, not the whole, but only one-third of it, and this provided we should 
accept it in full satisfaction of the entire claim. They added that this offer 
was made, not in strict justice, but as a special favor. 

Under these circumstances, the time had arrived wdien the President 
deemed it his duty to employ strong and vigorous remonstrances to bring all 
our claims against Spain to a satisfactory conclusion. In this he succeeded in 
a manner gratifying to himself, and it is believed to all the claimants, but 
unfortunately not to the Senate of the United States. A convention was 
concluded at Madrid on the 5th March, 1860, establishing a joint commission 
for the final adjudication and payment of all the claims of the respective 
parties. By this the validity and amount of the Cuban claims were expressly 
admitted, and their speedy payment was placed beyond question. The con- 
vention was transmitted to the Senate for their constitutional action on the 3d 
May, 1860, but on the 27th June they determined, greatly to the surprise of 
the President, and the disappointment of the claimants, that they would "not 
alvise and consent" to its ratification. 

The reason for this decision, because made in executive session, cannot be 
positively known. This, as stated and believed at the time, was because the 
convention had authorized the Spanish government to present its Amistad 
claim, like any other claim, before the Board of Commissioners for decision. 
This claim, it will be recollected, was for the payment to the Spanish owners 
of the value of certain slaves, for which the Spanish government held the 
United States to be responsible under the treaty with Spain of the 27th 
October, 1795. Such was the evidence in its favor, that three Presidents of 
the United States had recommended to Congress to make an appropriation for 
its payment, and a bill for this purpose had passed the Senate. The validity 
of the claim, it is proper to observe, was not recognized by the convention. 
In this respect it was placed on the same footing with all the other claims of 



.,.,, LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

the parties, with the exception of the Cuban claims. All the Spanish govern- 
ment obtained for it was simply a hearing before the Board, and this could not 
be denied w ith any show of impartiality. Besides, it is quite certain that no 
convention could have been concluded without such a provision. 

1 1 was most probably the extreme views of the Senate at the time against 
v. and i heir reluctance to recognize it even so far as to permit a foreign 
iant, although under the sanction of a treaty, to raise a question before 
the Board which might involve its existence, that caused the rejection of the 
convention. Under the impulse of such sentiments, the claims of our fellow- 
citizens have been postponed if not finally defeated. Indeed, the Cuban 
claimants learning that the objections in the Senate arose from the Amistad 
claim, made a formal offer to remove the difficulty by deducting its amount 
from the sum due to them, but this of course could not be accepted.* 

The following account of an expedition which President 
Buchanan found it necessary to send to Paraguay, is also taken 
from his Defence of his Administration : 

The hostile attitude of the government of Paraguay toward the United 
States early commanded the attention of the President. That government 
had, upon frivolous and even insulting pretexts, refused to ratify the treaty of 
friendship, commerce and navigation, concluded with it on the 4th March, 
L853, as amended by the Senate, though this only in mere matters of form. 
It had seized and appropriated the property of American citizens residing in 
Paraguay, in a violent and arbitrary manner ; and finally, by order of President 
Lopez, it had fired upon the United States steamer Water Witch (1st Febru- 
ary, 1S55), under Commander Thomas J. Page of the navy, and killed the 
sailor at the helm, whilst she was peacefully employed in surveying the Par- 
ana river, to ascertain its fitness for steam navigation. The honor, as well as 
the interests of the country, demanded satisfaction. 

The President brought the subject to the notice of Congress in his first 
annual message (8th December, 1857). In this he informed them that he 
would make a demand for redress on the government of Paraguay, in a firm 
but conciliatory manner, but at the same time observed, that " this will the 
more probably be granted, if the Executive shall have authority to use other 
means in the event of a refusal. This is accordingly recommended." Con- 
gress responded favorably to this recommendation. On the 2d June, 1858,t 
they passed a joint resolution authorizing the President " to adopt such meas- 
ures, and use such force as, in his judgment, may be necessary and advisable, 
in the event of a refusal of just satisfaction by the government of Paraguay, 
in connection with the attack on the United States steamer Water Witch, and 

* Buchanan's Defence, pp. 25S-260 ; written and published in 1865-'66. 
t U. S. Sratutes at Large, vol xi, p. 370. 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 225 

with other matters referred to in the annual message." * They also made an 
appropriation to defray the expenses of a commissioner to Paraguay, should 
ho deem it proper to appoint one, "for the adjustment of difficulties" with 
that republic. 

Paraguay is situated far in the interior of South America, and its capital, 
the city of Asuncion, on the lefl bant of the river Paraguay, is more than a 
thousand miles from the mouth of the La Plata. 

The stern policy of Dr. Francia, formerly the Dictator of Paraguay, had 
been to exclude all the rest of the world from his dominions, and in this he 
had succeeded by the most severe and arbitrary measures. His successor, 
President Lopez, found it necessary, in some degree, to relax this jealous pol- 
icy; but, animated by tho same spirit, he imposed harsh restrictions in his 
intercourse with foreigners. Protected by his remote and secluded position, 
he but little apprehended that a navy from our far distant country could 
ascend the La Plata, the Parana, and the Paraguay, and reach his capital. 
This was doubtless tho reason why he had ventured to place us at defiance. 
Under these circumstances, the President deemed it advisable to send with 
our commissioner to Paraguay, Hon. James B. Bowlin, a naval force sufficient 
to exact justice should negotiation fail.t This consisted of nineteen armed 
vessels, great and small, carrying two hundred guns and twenty-five hundred 
sailors and marines, all under the command of the veteran and gallant Shu- 
brick. Soon after the arrival of the expedition at Montevideo, Commissioner 
Bowlin and Commodore Shubrick proceeded (30th December, 1858) to ascend 
the rivers to Asuncion in the steamer Fulton, accompanied by the Water 
Witch. Meanwhile the remaining vessels rendezvoused in the Parana, near 
Bosario, a position from which they could act promptly, in case of need. 

The commissioner arrived at Asuncion on the 25th January, 1859, and 
left it on the 10th February. Within this brief period he had ably and suc- 
cessfully accomplished all the objects of his mission. In addition to ample 
apologies, he obtained from President Lopez the payment of $10,000 for the 
family of the seaman (Chaney) who had been killed in the attack on the 
Water Witch, and also concluded satisfactory treaties of indemnity and of 
navigation and commerce with the Paraguayan government.}: Thus the 
President was enabled to announce to Congress, in his annual message 
(December, 1859), that " all our difficulties with Paraguay had been satis- 
factorily adjusted." 

Even in this brief summary it would be unjust to withhold from Secretary 
Toucey a commendation for the economy and efficiency he displayed in fit- 
ting out this expedition. § It is a remarkable fact in our history, that its 
entire expenses were defrayed out of the ordinary appropriations for the 
naval service. Not a dollar was appropriated by Congress for this purpose, 

* V. S Statutes at Large, vol. xi, p. 310. t Message, 10th Dec. 1859. 

X Unite:! Stales Pamphlet Law?. 1859-60, p. 110. appendix. 

§ Report of Secretary Toucey, 2d Dec, 1859 ; Sen. Doc, 1859-60, vol. iii, p. 1137. 

II.— 15 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

unless we may except the sum of $289,000 for the purchase of seven small 

of light draft, worth more than their cost, and which were 

wards usefully employed in the ordinary naval service. 

It may be remarked that the President, in his message already referred to, 

,- , bserves, "that the appearance of so large a force, fitted out in such a 

prompt manner, in the far distant waters of the La Plata, and the admirable 

conduct of the officers and men employed in it, have had a happy effect in 

favor of our country throughout all that remote portion of the world." 

The relations between the United States and China had been 
governed for twelve years by the treaty made in 1844, by Mr. 
( !aleb dishing, under the instructions of Mr. Webster as Sec- 
retary of State. This treaty had provided for its own amend- 
ment at the expiration of twelve years from its date, and it 
devolved on Mr. Buchanan's ad ministration to institute the 
negotiations for this purpose. His own account of these nego- 
tiations, although greatly condensed, is all that need be here 
given : 

The same success attended our negotiations with China.* The treaty of 
July, 1844, with that empire, had provided for its own revision and amend- 
ment at the expiration of twelve years from its date, should experience render 
this necessary. Changes in its provisions had now become indispensable for 
the security and extension of our commerce. Besides, our merchants had just 
claims against the Chinese government, for injuries sustained in violation of 
the treaty. To effect these changes, and to obtain indemnity for these injuries, 
the lion. William B. Reed was sent as minister to China. His position proved 
to bo one of great delicacy. England and France were engaged in war 
against China, and urged the United States to become a party to it. They 
alleged that it had been undertaken to accomplish objects in which we had a 
common interest with themselves. This was the fact ; but the President did 
not believe that our grievances, although serious, would justify a resort to 
hostilities. "Whilst Mr. Reed was, therefore, directed to preserve a strict 
neutrality between the belligerents, he was instructed to cooperate cordially 
with the ministers of England and France in all peaceful measures to secure by 
m aty those just concessions to commerce which the civilized nations of the 
world had a right to expect from China. The Russian government, also, pur- 
sued the same line of policy. 

The difficulty, then, was to obtain for our country, whilst remaining at 

peace, the same commercial advantages which England and France might 

re by war. This task our minister performed with tact, ability and 

* Message, 8th December, 1S57, p. 14. 



FOREIGN RELATIONS. 227 

success, by the conclusion of the treaty of Tientsin of the 18th June, 1858, 
and the two supplemental conventions of Shanghae of the 8th November 
following.* These have placed our commercial relations with China on the 
same satisfactory footing with those of England and France, and have resulted 
in the actual payment of the full amount of all the just claims of our citizens, 
leaving a surplus to the credit of the Treasury. This object has been 
accomplished, whilst our friendly relations with the Chinese governnnnt 
were never for a moment interrupted, but on the contrary have been greatly 
strengthened. 

* United States Pamphlet Laws, 1301-*G2, j>. 177, appendix. 



T 



CHAPTEE XI. 

1858— 1860. 

COMPLIMENTARY GIFT FROM PRINCE ALBERT TO MR. BUCHANAN -VISIT 
OF THE PRINCE OF WALES— CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE QUEEN— 
MLNOR INCIDENTS OF THE ADMINISTRATION— TRAITS OF CHARACTER 
—LETTERS TO MISS LANE— MARRIAGE OF A YOUNG FRIEND. 

HERE are good reasons for believing that the regard which 
was always expressed by the members of the royal family 
of England for Mr. Buchanan and his niece was something 
more than a dictate of policy towards the great nation that he 
had represented at their court. One token of this regard, which 
came after he had been made President, was certainly intended 
as a personal reminder of the pleasant intercourse which he had 
with the queen and her husband, and of the liking for him 
which their eldest daughter had often and artlessly manifested. 
When the Princess Royal was married to the crown prince of 
Prussia in 1858, her father sent, not to the President of the 
United States, but to Mr. Buchanan, a copy of the medal struck 
in honor of the marriage, accompanied by this note : 

[PRINCE ALBERT TO MR. BUCHANAN.] 

Buckingham Palace, Feb. 16, 1858. 
My Dear Mr. Buchanan : — 

The belief that your recollection of the time passed by you in England will 
have made you feel an interest in the late happy marriage of our eldest 
daughter, induces me to send for your acceptance a medal struck in commem- 
oration of that event. Tou will, I think, be able easily to recognize the Prin- 
cess Royal's features; the likeness of Prince Frederick William is also very 
good. 

Trusting that your health continues unimpaired, notwithstanding the mani- 
fold duties of your high and responsible office, in which hope the queer, joins 
with me, I remain, ever, my dear Mr. Buchanan, yours truly, 

Albert. 



Siu :— 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE QUEEN. 229 

[MR. BUCHANAN TO PRINCE ALBERT.] 

Washington City, March 13, 1858. 



I have had the honor to receive from Lord Napier your very kind note of 
the 13th ultimo, with the medal struck in commemoration of the marriage 
of the Princess Royal with Prince Frederick William. Whilst in Eng- 
land I had upon one or two occasions the privilege of meeting and con- 
versing with the Princess Royal, which caused me to form a very high 
estimate of the excellence of her character, and to feel a deep interest in her 
prosperity and happiness. May her destiny prove fortunate, and her married 
life be crowned by a kind Providence with all the blessings which it is the lot 
of humanity to enjoy. 

With my most respectful regards to the queen. I remain truly yours, 

James Buchanan. 

When the President in June, 1860, learned that the Prince 
of Wales would visit Canada, he hastened to write to the 
queen, and to extend a national invitation to the Prince to 
come to Washington. The following are the letters which 
passed between the President and the queen : 

[the president to queen victoria.] 

Washington City, June 4, 18G0. 
To Her Majesty Queen Victoria: — 

I have learned from the public journals that the Prince of Wales is about 
to visit your Majesty's North American dominions. Should it be the intention 
of His Royal Highness to extend his visit to the United States, I need not say 
how happy I shall be to give him a cordial welcome to Washington. You 
may be well assured that everywhere in this country he will be greeted 1 ly 
the American people in such a manner as cannot fail to prove gratifying to 
your Majesty. In this they will manifest their deep sense of your domestic 
virtues, as well as the conviction of your merits as a wise, patriotic, and coi> 
stitutional sovereign. 

Your Majesty's most obedient servant, 

James Buchanan. 

[queen victoria to the president.] 

Buckingham Palace, June 22, 1SG0. 
My Good Friend : — 

I have been much gratified at the feelings which prompted you to write to 
me inviting the Prince of Wales to come to Washington. He intends to 



230 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

return from Canada through the United States, and it will give him great 
pleasure to have an opportunity of testifying to you in person that those feel- 
ings are fully reciprocated by him. He will thus be able at the same time to 
mark the respect which he entertains for the Chief Magistrate of a great and 
friendly state and kindred nation. 

Prince will drop all royal state on leaving my dominions, and travel 
under the name of Lord Renfrew, as he has done when travelling on the con- 
tinent of Europe. 

The Prince Consort wishes to be kindly remembered to you. 
I remain ever your good friend, 

Victoria E.a. 



The Prince arrived in Washington early in October, I860, and 
lie and the principal persons in his suite became the guests of 
the President at the White House, where they remained until 
the 6th of that month. During this visit there was an excursion 
to Mount Yernon, to afford the Prince an opportunity to see 
the tomb of Washington. The Prince and his suite, accompan- 
ied by a considerable number of invited guests, were taken to 
Mount Yernon on the revenue cutter, Harriet Lane, a vessel of 
the revenue service, which had been named for the President's 
niece by the Secretary of the Treasury. The President and 
Miss Lane were of the party. The incidents of the visit are 
well known, but there is an anecdote connected with it which 
should be repeated here, because it illustrates Mr. Buchanan's 
scrupulous care in regard to public money. The Secretary of 
the Treasury had given liberal orders for a supply of refresh- 
ments to be put on board the cutter. When the President 
heard that the bills for this and other expenses of the excur- 
sion were about to be audited and paid at the Treasury, he 
directed them to be sent to him. They were not paid at the 
Treasury, but the whole expense was defrayed by a private 
arrangement between the President and Mr. Cobb, the Secre- 
tary."' 



* I believe these bills were paid by Mr. Cobb, from his own private means. The whole 
affair was gotten up by him, and the President and Miss Lane went as invited guests. It is 
proper to say here that the entertainment of the Prince and his suite at the White House 
entailed a pood deal of expense, for extra servants and other things, and that Congress was 
never asked to defray any part of it. Mr. Buchanan would never hear of any suggestion that 
the extraordinary charges of his position should fall upon any fund but his salary and his 
private income. 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE QUEEN. 031 

[THE PRESIDENT TO QUEEN VICTORIA.] 

Washington, October G, 1S00. 
To Heb Majesty - , Queen Victoria : — 

When I had the honor of addressing your Majesty in June last, I confidently 
predicted a cordial welcome for the Prince of Wales throughout this country, 
should he pay us a visit on his return from Canada to England. What was 
then prophecy has now become history. He has been everywhere received 
with enthusiasm, and this is attributed not only to the very high regard enter- 
tained for your Majesty, but also to his own noble and manly bearing. lie 
has passed through a trying ordeal for a person of his years, and his conduct 
throughout has been such as became his age and station. Dignified, frank 
and affable, he has conciliated wherever he has been the kindness and respect 
of a sensitive and discriminating people. 

His visit thus far, has been all j r our Majesty could have desired, and I 
have no doubt it will so continue to the end. 

The Prince left us for Richmond this morning with the Duke of Newcastle 
and the other members of his wisely selected suite. I should gladly have 
prolonged his visit had this been possible consistently with previous engage- 
ments. In our domestic circle he won all hearts. His free and ingenuous 
intercourse with myself evinced both a kind heart and good understanding. 
I shall ever cherish the warmest wishes for his welfare. 

The visit of the Prince to the tomb of Washington and the simple but 
solemn ceremonies at this consecrated spot will become a historical event and 
cannot fail to exert a happy influence on the kindred people of the two 
countries. 

With my respectful regards for the Prince Consort, 

I remain your Majesty's friend and obedient servant, 

James Buchanan. 

[sir henry holland to the president.] 

Brook Street, London, November 2, 1SG0. 
My dear Mr. President: — 

In writing to you thus soon after my return to England, my first and fore- 
most object is, to thank you once again, which I do very warmly, for all you.' 
kindness during my last visit at Washington. In the course of a life some- 
what checquered with various incidents, in various places, I know not that I 
ever enjoyed five days so much ; — including under this expression both the 
time of the royal visit, and that which I afterwards passed with you alone. 
The Executive Mansion is lost to me for the future, if even I ever return to 
America ; but you I trust will preserve to me hereafter the regard and friend- 
ship which it is pleasant to me to possess. 

The letter you entrusted to my care was in the hands of the queen exactly 
fourteen days after I had received it from you. It will give you pleasure, I 
know, to learn (which I presume you will afterwards do in some way from 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

the queen herself), how very much she was gratiEed by it. Both Lord 
ton and Lord John Russell have expressly and strongly mentioned this 






ii i -land, as far as I can see and hear, is delighted with the reception of 
1 ■ , i in the United States. It has produced a strong impression here ;— 
reciprocated I hope and believe in America. 

The squadron which brings him home has not yet been heard of; but as 

have no w been twelve or thirteen days at sea, the arrival can not be long 

ji, laved. Probably to-day may bring some intelligence. I shall be impatient 

je again the several members of the Prince's suite, and to hear their detail 
of all that followed after our parting at Washington. They will all, I am per- 
suaded, come back with the same strong sentiment they had at that time 
regarding their reception in the United States. 

You will see that the European continent is still laboring under the same 
Btrange political complications;— enlivened, if I may so phrase it, by an occa- 
sionaF battle, but obscured by a dark haze over the future. Lord Palmerston 
tells me that he believes it will all end rightly, and I am willing to believe 
him, though I do not see my way towards this result. Many games are 
evidently at this moment played underhand— not like the open and frank 
bowling of the ten-pin courts. Our excellent ally, Louis Napoleon, comes 
under this suspicion, while some suspect that he, between Church and State 
affairs, is under as much perplexity as bis neighbors. It seems even doubtful 
whether the compulsory concession of the Emperor of Austria will satisfy 
Hungary, or leave him free for the contingencies of an Italian campaign. If a 
general war can be avoided, it is the utmost the most sanguine dare hope for. 
For the present the great interest is concentrated on the spot where the King 
of Naples still makes a show of resistance to the King of Sardinia and 
Garibaldi,— a matter that a few days must decide. Then comes the question 
of the Pope and Rome, — a still more complex and delicate affair, with inter- 
ests rooted all over Europe. 

In England we are happy and prosperous, despite our indifferent harvest, — 
better, however, than at one time expected. But we shall be fed out of your 
abundance, if need there be. 

The telegraphic news from China seems good as far as it goes, but we shall 
need the details to know its full import. Lord Palmerston tells me that the 
last despatches led them to believe that the Emperor of China was very 
desirous, or at least not unwilling, that his army should be defeated, to rescue 
himself from the hands of a war party at Pekin, which overruled him in his 
own wishes. Chinese rumors are very apocryphal documents. 

I must not intrude further upon your time, by what, after all, is little more 
than may be drawn from the newspapers of the day. In bidding you fare- 
well, my dear Mr. President, I have but again to repeat the expressions of 
acknowledgment for kindnesses received, and of cordial regard and respect, 
with which I remain, Ever yours most faithfully, 

H. Holland. 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE QUEEN. 233 

[QCEEN VICTORIA TO THE PRESIDENT.] 

Windsor Castle, November 19, 18G0. 
My Good Friend: — 

Your letter of the Gth ultimo has afforded me the greatest pleasure, con- 
taining, as it does, such kind expressions with regard to my son, and assuring 
me that the character and object of his visit to you and to the United Si 
have been fully appreciated, and that his demeanor and the feelings evinced 
by him have secured to him your esteem and the general good will uf your 
countrymen. 

I purposely delayed the answer to your letter until I should be able to 
couple it with the announcement of the Prince of Wales's safe return to his 
home. Contrary winds and stress of weather have much retarded his arrival, 
but we have been fully compensated for the anxiety which this long delay has 
naturally caused us, by finding him in such excellent health and spirits, and so 
delighted with all that he has seen and experienced in his travels. 

He cannot sufficiently praise the great cordiality with which he has been 
everywhere greeted in your country, and the friendly manner in which you 
received him ; and whilst, as a mother, I am grateful for the kindness shown 
him, I feel impelled to express, at the same time, how deeply I have been 
touched by the many demonstrations of affection personally toward myself, 
which his presence has called forth. 

I fully reciprocate towards your nation the feelings thus made apparent, 
and look upon them as forming an important link to cement two nations of 
kindred origin and character, whose mutual esteem and friendship must 
always have so material an influence upon their respective development and 
prosperity. 

The interesting and touching scene at the grave of General Washington, to 
which you allude, may be fitly taken as the type of our present feeling, and 
I trust of our future relations. 

The Prince Consort, who heartily joins in the expressions contained in this 
letter, wishes to be kindly remembered to you, as we both wish to be to Miss 
Lane. 

Balieve me always your good friend, 

Victoria R. 

It is noteworthy that this graceful and cordial letter was 
written on the eve of that great convulsion which was so soon 
to put in imminent peril the perpetuity of this Union and the 
very existence of our Government. To the feelings of the 
queen and her husband towards this country, secured by Presi- 
dent Buchanan's wise and well-timed reception of the Prince of 
"Wales, and the demonstrations everywhere made towards him 



, ;1 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

in this country, the queen's subjects and the people of the 
CTnited States owe it, that in the dark and dangerous hour of 
our civil war, the many irritating causes of alienation were not 
allowed by the sovereign of England to disrupt the bonds of 
peace or the neutrality of her government between the warring 
sections of this Eepublic. When we look back to the state of 
feeling that at one time existed in England towards our Gov- 
ernment, and remember how many British statesmen of great 
consequence made serious mistakes, it is but simple historical 
justice to impute to the queen and her husband a moderating 
and restraining influence ; and if that influence had been want- 
in--, there can be no rational doubt that there would have been 
a recognition of the Confederate States, not merely as a belli- 
gerent and a de facto power, but as a permanent and established 
government, and possibly as an ally of Great Britain. 

[from e. moran.] 

London, June 29th, 1860. 
My Dear Sir : — 

The publication of your invitation to the Prince of Wales to become your 
guest has caused a great deal of happiness in England, and the newspapers 
generally speak highly of the act. I send, herewith, an editorial from the 
Morning Chronicle of to-day, in which there are some deserved and well- 
expressed compliments. The British people have more respect for you than 
for any President since Washington, and I have never seen a personal attack 
on you in any English journal. Whenever you are spoken of, it is in a tone 
of regard, and never in a carping spirit. 

We are almost run down with visitors from home. From forty to seventy 
are here daily, and I have to see them all. I have my hands full. This is 
comfort to me, for I would be unhappy without employment. 

I hope you will not take offence when I say that I hope the 

Baltimore Convention have nominated you, notwithstanding your declinature 
to be a candidate. And if such be the case, you will be elected triumphantly. 
We are anxiously waiting for news on this point. 

With best regards to yourself and Miss Lane, I am 

Ever faithfully yours, 

B. Moran.* 

Both with reference to this visit of the Prince of Wales, and 
to some other incidents of the administration, and to certain 

* Mr. Moran was one of the secretaries of the American legation under Mr. Dallas. 



MINOR INCIDENTS OF THE ADMINISTRATION. 035 

traits of Mr. Buchanan's character, I insert here an extract from 
Mr. J. Buchanan Henry's communication to me, before I proceed 
to the trving period of " secession,'' which is to occupy a largo 
part of the remaining pages of this volume. 

As private secretary, I had to be in my office, a room on the southwest 
corner of the second story adjoining that of the President, -whenever he was 
there, which was from eight in the morning until luncheon at one o'clock, and 
from that time until five, when, with rare exceptions, he took an hour's walk. 
I doubt whether Mr. Buchanan used his coach and horses a dozen times a 
year, except during the summer when he was at the " Soldier's Home ; " then 
he drove in to the executive mansion in the morning and out in the evening, 
lie greatly preferred the exercise of walking, with its exchange of kindly per- 
sonal greetings with friends. On returning from this daily exercise he dined 
with the members of his household. It was not then etiquette for the Presi- 
dent to accept dinner or other invitations, for the wise reason, I believe, that 
any discrimination would have been impossible without giving offence, and 
universal acceptance would have been impossible. Once a week Mr. Buchanan 
caused some of the Cabinet members and their wives to be invited to dinner 
" en famille " and as there was but little ceremony and all were agreeable 
guests, with common and identical interests for the most part, I remember 
that these were most pleasant little entertainments. During the winter, or 
properly during the session of Congress, there was what might be called a 
State dinner, once a week, an entertainment of a much more formal and for- 
midable character, in the large dining-room, capable of seating about forty 
persons. The first of these dinners was, I think, given to the Justices of the 
Supreme Court, the next to the Diplomatic Corps, then to the members of 
the Senate, and the House of Representatives, including each member in his 
turn, according to official seniority, except in a very few cases where individ- 
uals had by discourtesy or offence rendered such an invitation improper. Miss 
Lane and I attended to the details of these social matters, including dinner 
and party attending, making visits, etc., for the President. Among the most 
troublesome of these duties was the proper assigning of precedence to the 
guests at these so-called state dinners ; a delicate task in these "Washington 
entertainments, as any neglect would pretty surely give offence. Miss Lane, from 
natural aptitude and tact and the experience she had in London whilst her 
uncle was minister there, managed these details very cleverly. I had the 
difficult and worrying task at these dinners, in the short time between the 
arrival of the forty odd guests in the drawing-room and the procession into 
the great dining-room, of ascertaining the name of each gentleman and telling 
him what lady he was to take in, and probably introducing the parties to 
each other. It was sometimes a very mavvaise quart d'heure of expectation 
for me ; as I was pretty sure to find at the last moment, when the Presi- 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

was loading the procession to the table, that some male guest, perhaps 

not , | to such matters, had strayed away from his intended partner, 

leaving the lady standing alone and much embarrassed. I had then to give 

. fresh start. 

rivate secretary I was charged with the expenditure of the library 

merit of the steward, messengers, and also of the expenditures 

. household which were paid out of the President's private purse. I 

it here mention that these latter expenditures generally exceeded the 
Pre lent's salary in the winter months, because President Buchanan enjoyed 
entertaining and entertained liberally from inclination. In summer the social 

i taining being much less, and the President being at the Soldier's Home, a 
modest but pretty stone cottage on the hills near Washington, the expenses 
were much less. Taking the year through, the salary of $25,000 was nearly 
sufficient to pay the actual expenses of the executive mansion, but nothing 
beyond that, or to allow the President to save any part of it ; but on the con- 
trary, I think he had to draw upon his private means to a considerable extent. 
My first duty was to organize the private secretary's office. I had a set of 
books or records carefully prepared, in which could be briefly entered the date 
of receipt of any letter or communication addressed to the President, the 
name of the writer— subject-matter condensed to the utmost — dates and sub- 
stance of answer, if any, to what department referred, and date of such 
reference. If the letter contained a recommendation for appointment to office, 
these records indicated the office, the name of the applicant and by whom 
recommended. Such communications as the President ought to see I folded 
and briefed and took them to him every morning at eight o'clock and received 
his instructions as to the answer I should make, and in some instances he would 
answer them himself, if of a purely personal nature. Either he or I would then 
endorse upon all letters " Respectfully referred to the Secretary of State," War, 
or otherwise, according as the communication in subject matter related to the 
business of that department ; and once a day I would enclose them, as they 
accumulated, in large envelopes, with printed addresses, and despatch them by 
the messenger to the several departments. By this system I could recall any 
letter or communication of any kind by reference to the entries on my books, 
•whenever the President desired them for action. This was the routine of the 
Executive Office. 

It will hardly be credited that this simple and natural course of business 
gave the pretext at a later day, and I can scarcely suppress my indignation as 
I think of it, for that infamous "mare's nest," discovered by Covode of Penn- 
sylvania, a member of the House of Representatives, and for the investigation 
of which he obtained a committee with full powers. The letters of General 
Patterson and others to which it related, were simply referred to the Secretary 
of the Navy according to the ordinary and proper routine of business in the 

cutive Office, as I have above described, and were endorsed exactly as 

: amis of others had been either by the President or by me, and such 



MINOR INCIDENTS OF THE ADMINISTRATION. 037 

endorsement had therefore no signification whatever. It was a cruel and 
malicious pretence to infer that the Secretary of the Navy would attach any 
importance whatever to the mere act of reference by the President himself 
because a multitude of such papers were similarly endorsed either by him or 
by me every day. 

There would have been no room to keep such a mass of papers in the 
White House, and they would have been out of place then-, as they related 
to the business of the several cabinet officers, and yet upon this miserable 
basis was the ' ; Covode investigation'' erected, and the first attempt ever 
made to soil a spotless public life, extending over more than forty years in 
every exalted station of our Government,' as member of the legislature of 
Pennsylvania, many years member of the House of Representatives, Senator 
of the United States, twice diplomatic representative of the nation at the two 
principal courts of Europe, Secretary of State of the United States, and finally 
President of the Republic. • The meagre partisan fruits of the investigation 
when made, and the refusal, to its credit be it said, of a bitterly hostile oppo- 
sition in the House to propose even a censure, clearly showed its baseless 
character. 

The committee, with well simulated delicacy, never summoned me to appear 
and testify, but sent for my clerk, and after examining him were glad, it seems, 
to drop it. I dwell upon this matter, because in a long career of public service 
it is the only attempt ever made to impeach Mr. Buchanan's public or private 
integrity. He himself felt it very bitterly, and I think it will be admitted that 
he administered a wholesome and deserved rebuke to the House in his special 
message of protest. Although the result demonstrated that there was not 
the most gossamer pretext for the charge made by Covode, I think Mr. 
Buchanan's friends can be well pleased at its having been made, and its futility 
exposed, as it leads to the fair conclusion for history, that Mr. Buchanan 
was invulnerable to any assaults upon the honor of his public or private life. 
Surely this is much to be able to say of a public servant, and a nation capable 
of breeding many such public men can justly congratulate itself. 

Another feature of Mr. Buchanan's public life I will refer to, which possibly 
may not now be esteemed a great virtue. I mean his dislike of nepotism. 
Not unnaturally, there were members of our family who would have been very 
glad to have obtained civil or other appointments during his administration. 
But such was Mr. Buchanan's freely expressed repugnance to using his public 
authority for the advantage of his relatives, that I am not aware that any of 
them even made application to him for office of any kind. Public policy 
clearly indicates the propriety and desirability of the President's private secre- 
tary being, if possible, a blood relation, upon the ground that the honor and 
interests of the President and his high office can be most safely entrusted to 
one having an interest in his good name and fame, and therefore more guarded 
against temptation of any kind. I therefore do not consider the selection of 
myself, or my cousin Mr. James Buchanan, who followed me, as any excep- 
tion to what I have stated. To such an extent did I know that my uncle 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

disliked the appointing of relatives to office, that I never dared to tell him of my 
be appointed to the paymaster corps of the navy, a position which 
. my nomadic tastes I had long coveted, and I concluded to save myself the 
m( „ tifieation of a refusal. I could exercise no influence with him for myself. As 
an instance of this, I will mention that when the Hon. John Cadwalader, late 
,. of United States Circuit Court of Eastern Pennsylvania, was appointed to 
that judgeship by Mr. Buchanan, he tendered me the clerkship of his court, a 
permanent and honorable position, and one that I should have been willing to 
;,t. Judge Cadwalader had been my legal preceptor, and for years my 
warm personal friend, so that the proffered position would have been in every 
way agreeable and proper. Although I was then residing in 'New York as a 
private citizen, I consulted Mr. Buchanan as to its acceptance by me, and on 
finding that he entertained serious reasonable objections to my doing so, I 
declined the compliment. The President said the public might justly infer that 
there had been some previous understanding between him and the new judge, 
and that however erroneous such a conclusion would be, it would be natural. 
! -much, therefore, as my acceptance might work injury, both to the Presi- 
dent and his excellent appointee, I quickly made my decision. These little 
events, unknown to the public, will serve to illustrate the delicate sense of 
right and the very appearance of right, which so strongly marked his public 
service. 

Among the minor but interesting incidents of the administration, I may 
mention the receipt of the first message by the new ocean telegraph from the 
British sovereign, and the President's reply to it. As the cable became silent 
almost immediately after, the public were for a long time in doubt whether 
any message had really been transmitted over the wonderful wire under the 
sea. I well remember the reception of the message, and I had it and the 
draft of the President's reply in my possession for years afterwards as a 
curiosity. 

You doubtless know all about the visit of the Prince of Wales to President 
Buchanan, and the pleasant social incidents following in its train. The Duke 
of Newcastle, Lord St. G-ermains and Sir Henry Holland — the latter an old 
friend of the President's — in the Prince's suite, were also guests at the White 
House. I was then residing in New York, and was sent for by my uncle to 
my old quarters in Washington, to assist in entertaining these distinguished 
persons, who, though entertained at the private expense of Mr. Buchanan, 
were nevertheless looked upon, and properly so, as the guests of the nation. 

Probably among the most interesting, and I may say touching, incidents 
cf this visit, was a trip made by the royal guest and suite, in company with 
the President, to Mount Vernon. I well remember the whole party — the tall, 
venerable form of the President, the youthful Prince, and the other guests 
-enting the highest social order in Great Britain, standing bare-headed in 
front of the tomb of Washington. It was a most impressive and singular 
t acle, and I have often thought it would make a very striking subject for 
a large historical painting. The Prince planted a small tree near the tomb in 



MINOR INCIDENTS OF THE ADMINISTRATION. j.;.i 

commemoration of his visit, but I have never learned whether it grew. Many 
interesting incidents occurred in this visit, but I shall not repeat them. I will 
only say that I never saw a more agreeable or unrestrained intercourse of a 
social character — for the visit had no political significance whatever, and the 
Queen and the Prince subsequently expressed their appreciation of the Presi- 
dent's hospitality, the former in an autograph letter, and the latter both by 
letter and the presentation of a three-quarter length portrait, painted by one 
of Britain's greatest artists. The value of this was enhanced by the delicacy 
which marked its presentation after Mr. Buchanan had retired to private life 
as a simple citizen. These letters and portrait are now in the possession of 
my cousin, and also the autograph letter of the Prince Consort to Mr. 
Buchanan on the occasion of the marriage of the Princess Royal, in which he 
uses some pleasant expressions of a personal character, and referring back to 
Mr. Buchanan's residence in London as minister. I think the era of good 
feeling between America and England, and especially the enduring friendship 
of the Queen herself for the United States, so decidedly shown by her during 
our terrible war, may be traced as one of the happy results of the visit of the 
Prince of Wales to the President. The kindly feelings of these two great 
nations towards each other, a rapprochement, now so marked, had, I think, its 
beginning at that period. 

Another trait of Mr. Buchanan I must not omit alluding to. He made it 
an invariable rule, as President, to accept no gifts or presents of any value, 
even from the most intimate friends, and it was part of my duty to return 
them at once, with a kind but emphatic declination, telling the donor that the 
President had made it a rule, not to be broken, that he could accept no gifts; 
and I was directed, at the same time, to express his thanks for the friendly 
intentions in all cases where it seemed probable that it was not a bold effort to 
purchase favor, and from purely selfish motives. A number of costly gifts 
were thus returned. 

After a personal intercourse with Mr. Buchanan from my boyhood, more 
or less intimate, and therefore having had an opportunity to judge, I can con- 
scientiously say that I never knew a man of purer private life, or one actuated 
by nobler or more upright motives. He was, to us around him, an object of 
unbroken respect and reverence. I can truly aver that I never heard him 
express an ignoble sentiment, or do an act that could diminish that respect and 
reverence. He was strong willed, rather austere, and somewhat exacting tc 
those around him, but always and in all things the Christian gentleman. This 
was the impression made upon me as a youth, and now, as I look back from 
later life, I see no cause to change or modify my estimate of his character. 
nis only fault, if fault it be, was a too great readiness to forgive and conciliate 
those who had been his enemies, regarding it as a triumph for his principles 
and a vindication of his motives. And yet this has been at times attributed 
to him as a weakness. 

Mr. Buchanan had an extraordinary memory, and could repeat verbatim 
much of the classic authors of his college days, and I remember he often put 



o ^ LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

• i shame, when I was yet in the midst of my books, by questions that I 
led to answer to my satisfaction. He was also a remarkably fluent and 
able conversationalist— a rare and valuable gift— and it was one of my 
5 | pleasures to listen to him, when in congenial company, relating anec- 
. lutes of his great contemporaries in public life at home, and incidents occur- 
ring duriu" his missions in St. Petersburgh and later in London. This 
quality made him a most agreeable companion among men, and an especial 
favorite with the fair sex, whose friendship in turn he appreciated and enjoyed 
to the end of his life. The correctness of his own private life, and his associ- 
ation with only the nobler of the other sex, resulted in his never entertaining 
or expressing cynical views of them, so common in men's later years. 

I do not know if you have any account of Mr. Buchanan's personal 
appearance or dress. The best likeness of him is a miniature portrait on 
ivorv, by Brown of Philadelphia, now in the possession of his brother, the 
Rev. Dr. Buchanan. I have an oil photograph painted in 1S57, which is 
excellent ; also a bust in marble by a Boston sculptor, which is good. My 
cousin has a half-length portrait, painted by Eicholtz about the year 1S33. His 
figure and general appearance whilst President is very accurately represented 
in a full-length engraving by Buttre of New York. On the whole, I think it 
is the best average representation of him extant. Healy executed a portrait 
of Mr. Buchanan at the White House, but he was an impatient sitter, and I 
do not think it was very successful. 

Mr. Buchanan, in his sketch of the four last months of his administration, 
gives a short account of a remarkable naval expedition ordered by him to 
Paraguay, to settle certain difficulties with that republic. This naval demon- 
stration on a considerable scale was entirely successful, and resulted in a 
permanent peace with that country ever since. It had, however, this most 
uncommon feature to distinguish it, that it cost the United States not one 
dollar beyond the usual small annual appropriation for the navy. I sometimes 
wonder Avhether any other such expedition of its size and importance, in this 
or any other country, can show such an example of economy, honesty and 
efficiency and success combined, as did this. 

[to miss lane, in new york.] 

Washington, May 20th, 1858. 
My Dear Harriet: — 

Learning that you were about to purchase furniture in New York [for the 
White House], 1 requested Doctor Blake to furnish me a statement of the bal- 
ance of the appropriation unexpended. This balance is $8,369.02. In making 
your purchases, therefore, I wish you to consider that this sum must answer 
purpose until the end of my term. I wish you, therefore, not to expend 
the whole of it, but to leave enough to meet all contingencies up till 4th 
I 361. Any sum which may be expended above the appropriation I 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. 241 

shall most certainly pay out of my own pocket. I shall never ask Congress 
for the deficiency. 

Who should make his appearance this morning but Mr. Keitt.* After 
talking about other matters for some time, he said he was married. I 
expressed strong doubts upon the subject, when he insisted that he was 
actually and bona fide married. The lady is Miss Sparks, whom he has been 
so long addressing. 

With my kind regards to Mr. and Mrs. R., I remain, etc. 

[TO MISS LANE, IN PHILADELPHIA.] 

October 15th, 1858. 

We have not yet heard from you since you left us. I hope you arrived 
safely in Philadelphia, and did not contract a hoarseness in talking on the 
way. We get along very nicely since your absence and will give a big dinner 
on Thursday next. I have not seen any of your lady friends since your 
departure, and can therefore give you no news. 

Well ! we have met the enemy in Pennsylvania and we are theirs. This I 
have anticipated for three months, and was not taken by surprise, except as to 
the extent of our defeat. I am astonished at myself for bearing it with so 
much philosophy. 

The conspirators against poor Jones have at length succeeded in hunting 
him down. Ever since my election the hounds have been in pursuit of him. 
I now deeply regret— but 1 shall say no more. With the blessing of Provi- 
dence, I shall endeavor to raise him up and place him in some position where 
they can not reach him. 

Judge Black, General Anderson of Tennessee, Mr. Brenner, and Mr. Tan 
Dyke dined with me yesterday, and we had a merry time of it, laughing, 
among other things, over our crushing defeat. It is so great that it is almost 
absurd. 

We will present a record of success at the meeting of Congress which has 
rarely been equalled. We have hitherto succeeded in all our undertakings. 

Poor bleeding Kansas is quiet, and is behaving herself in an orderly man- 
ner ; but her wrongs have melted the hearts of the sympathetic Pennsylva- 
nians, or rather Philadelphians. In the interior of the State the tariff was 
the damaging question, and in defeating Jones, the iron interest have pros- 
trated a man who could render them more service than all the Republican 
Representatives from Pennsylvania. He will be a loss to the whole country 
in the House of Representatives. 

I have heard nothing of the good and excellent Robert since you left us. 
He is a man among a thousand. I wish I could say so much for his brother. 

It is growing late and I must retire. I sleep much better now, but not 
near so well as at the Soldiers' Home. 

* Of SouUi Carolina. Pronounced Kitt. 

II.— 16 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

. t - 

May 13th, 1859. 

I send you an oration received from Hon. William Porcker Miles,* and 
d by kim to yourself. A precious recognition ! 

1 wrote a long letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, ten days ago, and left it on my 
table open. It marvellously disappeared, and I had neither courage nor time 
,py it from memory. I know not what has become of it, but it contains 
nothing wkick might not be published in the New York Herald, My respect 
and admiration for Mrs. Roosevelt, to be sure, appear in the letter; but this is 
well known and does me honor. It is possible that in clearing my own table 
I may have by mistake torn this letter up with other manuscripts ; but I can 
not believe it. 

I have but little news. Mr. Magraw came to us on Saturday last and still 
remains, much to my gratification. We get along very comfortably and 
quietly. Miss Hetty is very busy. Washington, they say, is extremely dull. 
I called yesterday at Mr. Thompson's, just before dinner. The lady was not 
at home. She had gone to a travelling circus and show in company with Mrs. 
Gwin, her sister and Miss Lucy. I made no remark to Mr. Thompson on 
receiving the information, except that you would certainly have been of the 
party had you been in Washington. 

I met Mrs. Conrad and her daughters on the street the other day and 
walked with them some distance. She does not appear to have seen much of 
Lord Lyons. I think he keeps himself very much to himself. Count Sartiges 
has been here several times. I shall miss him more than I would any of the 
foreign ministers. 

May 14th, 1S59. 

I send you the enclosed letter from Mr. ■ , of New York. It speaks 

for itself. He seems to be a warm-hearted German, and I would advise you 
to address him a few lines. In acknowledging the compliment, I have said 
I would send his letter to you at Judge Roosevelt's. You have been hailed 
as " The Great Mother of the Indians," and it must gratify you to learn that 
your adopted countrymen desire to perpetuate your name by giving it to their 
children. 

Two of the Secretaries and myself were to have visited Baltimore to-day to 
select a site for the Federal Courts ; but we agreed to postpone our visit until 
Monday to enable them to attend a dinner given by Lord Lyons to-day to the 
members of the cabinet. It is quite probable we shall be accompanied on 
Monday by Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Gwin and other ladies. 

What means the ominous conjunction between Mr. Van Buren and Mr. 

Douglas at the Hotel. I do not, however, consider it ominous at all, 

i others do. 

Sir William ought to have been very careful in obeying his instructions, 
especially after his former experience in South America. The British govern- 
ment are not at all pleased with him. We know this from Lord Lyons. 

* Of South Carolina. 



LETTERS TO MISS LANE. •_> | :; 

Ilerc I was called away after ten at night, to hear the music of the Knights 
Templars. It was, I think, excellent; though I am, as you know, no great 
judge. Good-night! My affectionate regards to Mrs. Roosevelt and ins 
respectful compliments to the Judge. 

Mr. Thompson and myself intend to set out for Chapel Hill on Monday, 
10th instant. I think Mr. Magraw will accompany us. Tiny are making 
great preparations to receive us. I hope you are enjoying yourself. St. 
long as it affords you pleasure. We are getting along very well. Miss Hetrj 
is very busy in having things put in order for the summer. 

May 18th, 1859. 

I return Lady Ouselcy's letter. When you write please to remember un- 
to her in the very kindest terms. I should be sorry indeed to think I should 
never meet her again. 

The conduct of Sir William has been most decidedly disapproved by Lord 
Malmesbury. Of this we have the official evidence. I am truly sorry he did 
not obey his instructions. But of this say nothing to Mrs. Roosevelt. 

Our two successful diplomatists, Messrs. Reed and Bowden, with their 
ladies, are to dine with me to-day en famille. Mr. Cobb now dines here 
regularly. 

I never laughed as much on any one day as on Monday last at Baltimore 
and on the way. 

Remember me always most affectionately to Mr?. Roosevelt, and very 
kindly to the Judge. 

June 10th, 1859. 

I have received your favor of yesterday. We returned to Washington on 
Tuesday morning last from our visit to North Carolina. On Wednesday 
morning Miss Hetty left for Wheatland with my full and entire approbation, 
and I wish to say to you emphatically, that you need not return home on my 
account. I shall be rejoiced to see you whenever you may think proper to 
return ; but I get along both comfortably and happily in the absence both of 
Miss Hetty and yourself. 

I am sorry to find that your excursion to West Point on the Harriet Lane, 
has been made the subject of newspaper criticism on yourself. This is most 
ungallant and ungentlemanly. The practice, however, of employing national 
Is on pleasure excursions, to gratify any class of people, is a fair subject of 
public criticism. You know how much I condemned your former trip on the 
same vessel, and I did not expect you would fall into a second error. The 
thing, however, is past and gone, and let it pass. After a fair time shall have 
elapsed, it is my purpose to cause general orders to be issued by the Treasury 
and Navy Departments to put a stop to the practice. 

I am truly rejoiced to learn that James Henry is succeeding in his practice. 

I have not the least idea of paying the price you mendon for a cane. Let 
it pass for the present. I will get Mr. Baker to attend to it. 



, 44 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Washington has been very quiet but very agreeable since you left. I dined 
lV with Mrs. Thompson. Mrs. Gwin and her sister and Mr. Cobb 
e only persons present out of the family. We had a merry time of it. 
party are to dine with Mrs. Gwin on Tuesday next. 
It was with the utmost reluctance I removed Mr. , though his re- 
was inevitable. His brother has done him much injury. I 

have known him long, and can say with truth that I know not a more unprin- 
cipled man in the United States. I wished to avoid the publication of Mr. 

Holt's report, but Mr. and his brother made this impossible. The 

trio are now all together in happy communion, I mean , , and 

, the last the most contemptible of the set. 

I have just had long and interesting letters from Jones and Preston. They 
are both pleased, and both get along well. The former evidently stands well 
with the Austrian government, and gives us valuable information. 

I remain, yours affectionately, etc. 

Bedford Springs, August 22, 1860. 

I have only time to write a line before Mr. Wagner, the messenger of 
Mr. Thompson, leaves. I am well, and the water is producing its usual good 
effect. The company is reduced very much, though what remains is agree- 
able and respectable. My visits from the neighborhood are numerous. 

Give my love to Lily. If things proceed as from appearances we might 
anticipate she will soon be on the diplomatic corps, but I yet entertain doubts 
whether she will stand fire at the decisive moment. 

Many inquiries have been made about you here, and regrets expressed that 
you did not accompany me. In haste, yours affectionately, 

[from miss macalester.] 

Glengarry, Torrisdale, Oct. 8, 1860. 
Mr Dear Mr. Buchanan : — 

You have always evinced such a kind and anxious interest in regard to my 
matrimonial arrangements, that I feel it a duty, as well as a pleasure, to relieve 
your solicitude on the subject, by assuring you that I at last really am en- 
gaged. I consider you entirely responsible for this result, my dear Mr. 
Buchanan, for you so terrified me last spring and summer by your forebod- 
ings, and made me so fully realize my almost hopeless condition and approach- 
ing sujwcmnuation, that I determined to trifle no longer with time. I think, 
therefore, I may fairly claim your kind wishes and congratulations upon my 
from the prospect of a dreary spinsterhood, and in due season I shall 
also claim your fulfillment of a promise made long ago, and frequently repeated 
since, to be present at my wedding when that incomprehensible event takes 
place. En attendant, believe me always, my dear Mr. Buchanan, 

With truest love yours, 

Lily L. Macalester. 



MARRIAGE OF A YOUNG FRIEND. :>i;, 

[to miss macalester.*] 

Washington, October 10, 18G0. 
My Dear Lily : — 

I have received your favor of the 10th, announcing your engagement, and 
most sincerely and ardently do I hope that your marriage may prove auspici- 
ous and secure your future happiness and prosperity. I need not assure you 
that I feel all the interest which devoted friendship can inspire in your perma- 
nent welfare. 

I had thought that u the prospect of a dreary spinstcrhood " would not 
have impelled you into an engagement, without saying a word to your super- 
annuated bachelor friend, but when young ladies have determined to marry 
they will go ahead. 

May you enjoy all the blessings in your matrimonial state which I ardently 
desire, and you so richly deserve. Always your friend, 

James Buciianax. 

* This lady, daughter of Charles Macalester, Esq., of Philadelphia, married Mr. Bergb- 
mans, Secretary of the Belgian Legation in Washington. He died about ten years since. 



CHAPTER XII. 

i860— March and June. 

THE SO-CALLED " COVODE INVESTIGATION." 

REFERENCE has been made by Mr. Henry, in a part 
of his communication quoted in the last chapter, to a 
proceeding in the House of Representatives, which has been 
called the " Covode Investigation." It is proper that a detailed 
account of this occurrence should be here given. 

Among the lower, or rather the lowest, political tactics, incul- 
pation of a retiring administration has often been resorted to 
for promoting the success of the opposite party, and it seems 
not infrequently to have been the calculation that the effect 
produced would be in proportion to the grossness of the impu- 
tations. Mr. Buchanan could not hope to escape calumny. 
None of his predecessors, not even the most illustrious of them 
all, not even "Washington himself, had escaped it. Scarcely any 
of them, however, had been made the object of this kind of at- 
tack, by a method so base and by means so foul, as those to which 
President Buchanan was now to be subjected. Before any of 
the troubles of secession arrived, before either of the political 
parties had made its nomination for the next Presidential elec- 
tion, it was determined that an assault should be made upon 
him that would render him and his administration odious to the 
people of the country. 

It is certainly unavoidable, perhaps it is well, that free gov- 
ernments should be administered by parties. In a vigilant, 
jealous and active opposition, there is great security against the 
misuse of power by those who hold it. But the freedom of 
opposition, like the freedom of the press, can easily degenerate 
into licentiousness; and the greater the latitude allowed by the 
political maxims or habits of a people, the greater will be the 



THE "COVODE INVESTIGATION." 247 

danger of abuse of that right of criticism and inculpation which is 
essential to liberty, to purity, and to the public interests. Happily, 
there are some restraints upon the exercise of this right, imposed 

by the forms of procedure which our Constitution has prescribed 
when the conduct of the executive branch of the Government is 
to be called in question by the House of Representatives. When 

these restraints are violated, as they were violated againsl Presi- 
dent Buchanan, there is but one judgment for history to pro- 
nounce. Those who institute a proceeding that is out of the 
limits of their constitutional function, for the purpose of exciting 
hatred of one who fills for the time a coordinate and independent 
department of the Government, and who conduct such a pro- 
ceeding in secret, leave upon the records of the country a con- 
demnation of themselves; and it is some evidence of the 
progress which a people are making in freeing their partisan 
warfare from such abuses, if we are able to say, as probably 
we can say, that such a proceeding would not be tolerated at 
the present day by any portion of the people of this country, 
as that which was begun and prosecuted against President 
Buchanan in the spring and summer of 1S60. 

The House of Kepresentatives was at this time under the 
control of a majority held by the opponents of the administra- 
tion. If they had reason to believe that the President had been 
guilty of an exercise, or of any attempt at an exercise, of im- 
proper influence over legislation, or that he or any of bis sub- 
ordinate executive officers had defeated, or attempted to defeat, 
the execution of any law, or that he had tailed or refused to 
execute any law, their course was plain. In regard to the 
President, it was their duty to make a specific charge, to inves- 
tigate it openly, and to impeach him before the Senate, if the 
evidence afforded reasonable ground to believe that the charge 
could be substantiated. In regard to his subordinates, their 
power to investigate was somewhat broader, because, as a legis- 
lative body, the House of Representatives might have occasion 
to remedy by legislation any future wrongs of the same kind. 
But over the President, they had no authority of investigation 
or inquiry, excepting as the impeaching body to which the 
Constitution had committed the duty of accusation. By no 
constitutional propriety, by no precedent and no principle, could 



048 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

an accusation of official misconduct on the part of the President 
be brought within the jurisdiction of the House, excepting by 
the initiation of a proceeding looking to his impeachment. 
Any proceeding, aside from the impeaching process, could have 
do object and no effect but to propagate calumny, without 
opportunity for exculpation and defence; and from the begin- 
ning to the end of this extraordinary persecution every step was 
marked by the design with which it was originated. 

It began by the introduction of a resolution, offered in the 
House by Mr. Covode, a member from Pennsylvania, on the 5th 
March, 1860 ; and to make way for its introduction, he moved 
and obtained a suspension of the rules. This was of course by 
previous concert. The Speaker, after the reading of the resolu- 
tion, ruled that it was not debatable. Attempts were made by 
different members to point out the absence from the resolution 
of any specific or tangible charge, or to extract from the mover 
some declaration that he had been informed or believed that the 
President had been guilty of some official misconduct, within 
the generality and vagueness of the inquiry that he proposed to 
have made. All these efforts were put down by the Speaker 
and by clamorous cries of" order." It became evident that the 
resolution was to pass, as a foregone conclusion, without a 
moment's consideration of its character or its terms. Under the 
operation of "the previous question," it was adopted, and the 
mover was afterwards placed by the Speaker at the head of the 
committee which he called for. Thus, so far as there w T as any 
accuser, that accuser was made the principal judge who was to 
try the accusation; and by the terms of the resolution, all the 
accusation that w r as made was wrapped in the following vague 
and indefinite lanjmaffe: 

Resolved, That a committee of five members be appointed by the Speaker, 
for the purpose, first, of investigating whether the President of the United 

3, or any officer of the Government, has, by money, patronage, or other 
improper means, sought to influence the action of Congress, or any committee 
thereof, for or against the passage of any law appertaining to the rights of 
any State or Territory; and, second, also to inquire into and investigate 

her any officer or officers of the Government have, by combination or 
Otherwise, prevented or defeated, or attempted to prevent or defeat, the exe- 

n of any law or laws now upon the statute book, and whether the Presi- 
dent has failed or refused to compel the execution of any law thereof. 



THE " COVODE INVESTIGATION." 049 

The committee, under the mover of the resolution as chair- 
man, proceeded to make, with closed doors, a general investiga- 
tion into every thing that am- enemy of the President could 
bring to them. Never, in the history of parliamentary pro- 
ceedings, since they ceased to be made the instruments of mere 
partisan malice, had there been such a violation of constitu- 
tional principles and of every maxim of justice. A secret in- 
quisition into the conduct of a President of the United States, 
not conducted in the forms or with the safeguards of the im- 
peachment process, without one specific accusation, was a pro- 
ceeding unknown alike to the Constitution and to the practice, 
the habits and the instincts, of the people of the United States. 
The President was left to learn what he could of the doings of 
this committee from what they permitted to leak into the pub- 
lic prints, or from other sources. More concerned for the 
safety of his successors in the great office which he held than 
for his own reputation, but not unmindful of the duty which he 
owed to himself, he transmitted to the House, on the 28th of 
March, the following message, embracing a dignified and ener- 
getic protest against this unexampled proceeding : 

To the House of Representatives: — 

After a delay which has afforded me ample time for reflection, and after 
much and careful deliberation, I find myself constrained by an imperious sense 
of duty, as a coordinate branch of the Federal Government, to protest against 
the first two clauses of the first resolution adopted by the House of Repre- 
sentatives on the 5th instant, and published in the Congressional Globe on 
the succeeding day. These clauses are in the following words : " Resolved, 
That a committee of five members be appointed by the Speaker, for the pur- 
pose, 1st, of investigating whether the President of the United States, or any 
other officer of the Government, has, by money, patronage, or other improper 
means, sought to influence the action of Congress, or any committee thereof, 
for or against the passage of any law appertaining to the rights of any State 
or Territory; and 2d, also to inquire into and investigate whether any officer 
or officers of the Government have, by combination or otherwise, prevented 
or defeated, or attempted to prevent or defeat, the execution of any law or 
laws now upon the statute book, and whether the President has failed or 
refused to compel the execution of any law thereof." 

I confine myself exclusively to these two branches of the resolution, be- 
cause the portions of it which follow relate to alleged abuses in post offices, 
navy yards, public buildings, and other public works of the United States. 



2g0 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

In such cases inquiries are highly proper in themselves, and belong equally 
Senate and the House as incident to their legislative dut.es, and being 
to enable them to discover and to provide the appropriate legislative 
for any abuses which may be ascertained. Although the terms of 
r portion of the resolution are extremely vague and general, yet my 
sole purpose in adverting to them at present is to mark the broad line of dis- 
tion between the accusatory and the remedial clauses of this resolution. 
The House of Representatives possess no power under the Constitution over 
the first or accusatory portion of the resolution, except as an impeaching body ; 
whilst over the last, in common with the Senate, their authority as a legisla- 
tive body is fully and cheerfully admitted. 

It is solely in reference to the first or impeaching power that I propose to 
make a few observations. Except in this single case, the Constitution has 
invested the House of Representatives with no power, no jurisdiction, no 
supremacy whatever over the President, In all other respects he is quite as 
independent of them as they are of him. As a coordinate branch of the 
Government he is their equal. Indeed, he is the only direct representative 
on earth of the people of all and each of the sovereign States. To them, and 
to them alone, is he responsible whilst acting within the sphere of his consti- 
tutional duty, 'and not in any manner to the House of Representatives. The 
people have thought proper to invest him with tiie most honorable, responsi- 
ble, and dignified office in the world, and the individual, however unworthy, 
now holding this exalted position, will take care, so far as in him lies, that 
their rights and prerogatives shall never be violated in his person, but shall 
pass to his successors unimpaired by the adoption of a dangerous precedent. 
He will defend them to the last extremity against any unconstitutional attempt, 
come from what quarter it may, to abridge the constitutional rights of the 
Executive, and render him subservient to any human power except them- 
selves. 

The people have not confined the President to the exercise of executive 
duties. They have also conferred upon him a large measure of legislative dis- 
cretion. No bill can become a law without his approval, as representing the 
people of the United States, unless it shall pass after his veto by a majority of 
two-thirds of both Houses. In his legislative capacity he might, in common 
with the Senate and the House, institute an inquiry to ascertain any facts 
which ought to influence his judgment in approving or vetoing any bill. This 
participation in the performance of legislative duties between the coordinate 
branches of the Government ought to inspire the conduct of all of them, in 
their relations toward each other, with mutual forbearance and respect. At 
least each has a right to demand justice from the other. The cause of 
complaint is, that the constitutional rights and immunities of the Executive 
have been violated in the person of the President. 

The trial of an impeachment of the President before the Senate on charges 

preferred and prosecuted against him by the House of Representatives, would 

an imposing spectacle for the world. In the result, not only his removal 



TIIE " COVODE INVESTIGATION." o 51 

from the Presidential office would be involved, but, what is of infinitely 
greater importance to himself, his character, both in the eyes of the presenl 
and of future generations, might possibly be tarnished. Th< 
upon him would in some degree l"' reflected upon the character of the Amer- 
ican people who elected bun. Eence the precautions adopted bj the Consti- 
tution to secure a fair trial. On Buch a trial it declares thai " the Chief Jus- 
tice shall preside." This was doubtless because the framers of the Constitu- 
tion believed it to be possible that the Vice-President might be biassed by the 
fact that "in ease of the removal of the President from office," "the 
shall devolve on the Vice-President." 

The preliminary proceedings in the House in the case of charges which 
may involve impeachment, have been well and wisely settled by long practice 
upon principles of equal justice both to the accused and to the people. The 
precedent established in the case of Judge Peck, of Missouri, in 1831, after a 
careful review of all former precedents, will, I venture to predict, stand the 
test of time. In that case, Luke Edward Lawless, the accuser, presented a 
petition to the House, in which he set forth minutely and specifically his 
causes of complaint. He prayed " that the conduct and proceedings in this 
behalf of said Judge Peck may be inquired into by your honorable body, and 
such decision made thereon as to your wisdom and justice shall seem proper." 
This petition was referred to the Judiciary Committee ; such has ever been 
deemed the appropriate committee to make similar investigations. It is a 
standing committee, supposed to be appointed without reference to any special 
case, and at all times is presumed to be composed of the most eminent law- 
yers in the House from different portions of the Union, whose acquaintance 
with judicial proceedings, and whose habits of investigation, qualify them 
peculiarly for the task. No tribunal, from their position and character, could 
in the nature of things be more impartial. In the case of Judge Peck, the 
witnesses were selected by the committee itself, with a view to ascertain the 
truth of the charge. They were cross-examined by him, and everything was 
conducted in such a manner as to afford him no reasonable cause of complaint. 
In view of this precedent, and, what is of far greater importance, in view of 
the Constitution and the principles of eternal justice, in what manner has the 
President of the United States been treated by the House of Representatives? 
Mr. John Covode, a Representative from Pennsylvania, is the accuser of the 
President. Instead of following the wise precedents of former times, and 
especially that in the case of Judge Peck, and referring the accusation to the 
Committee on the Judiciary, the House have made my accuser one of my 
judges. 

To make the accuser the judge is a violation of the principles of universal 
justice, and is condemned by the practice of all civilized nations. Every free- 
man must revolt at such a spectacle. I am to appear bi I Mr. Covode, 
either personally or by a substitute, to cross-examine the witness which he 
may produce before himself to sustain his own accusations against me, and 
perhaps even this poor boon may be denied to the President. 



.,.., LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Ami what is the nature of the investigation which his resolution proposes 
to institute? It is as vague and general as the English language affords words 
iu which to make it. The committee is to inquire, not into any specific 
charge or charges, but whether the President has, " by money, patronage, or 
other improper means, sought to influence," not the action of any individual 
member or members of Congress, but " the action " of the entire body " of 
Congress " itself, " or any committee thereof." The President might have had 
some glimmering of the nature of the offence to be investigated, had his accu- 
ser pointed to the act or acts of Congress which he sought to pass or to 
at by the employment of " money, patronage, or other improper means." 
But the accusation is bounded by no such limits. It extends to the whole 
circle of legislation ; to interference " for or against the passage of any law 
appertaining to the rights of any State or Territory." And what law does 
not appertain to the rights of some State or Territory ? And what law or 
laws has the President failed to execute? These might easily have been 
pointed out had any such existed. 

Had Mr. Lawless asked an inquiry to be made by the House whether 
Jud"-e Peck, in general terms, had not violated his judicial duties, without the 
specification of any particular act, I do not believe there would have been a 
single vote in that body in favor of the inquiry. Since the time of the Star 
Chamber and of general warrants, there has been no such proceeding in 
England. 

The House of Eepresentatives, the high impeaching power of the country, 
without consenting to hear a word of explanation, have indorsed this accusa- 
tion against the President, and made it their own act. They even refused to 
permit a member to inquire of the President's accuser what weie the specific 
charges against him. Thus, in this preliminary accusation of "high crimes and 
mi-demeanors" against a coordinate branch of the Government, under the 
impeaching power, the House refused to hear a single suggestion even in 
regard to the correct mode of proceeding, but, without a moment's delay, 
passed the accusatory resolutions under the pressure of the previous question. 
In the institution of a prosecution for any offence against the most humble 
citizen — and I claim for myself no greater rights than he enjoys— the Consti- 
tution of the United States, and of the several States, require that he shall be 
informed, in the very beginning, of the nature and cause of the accusation 
against him, in order to enable him to prepare for his defence. There are 
other principles which I might enumerate, not less sacred, presenting an 
impenetrable shield to protect every citizen falsely charged with a criminal 
offence. These have been violated in the prosecution instituted by the House 
of Representatives against the executive branch of the Government. Shall 
the President alone be deprived of the protection of these great principles, 
which prevail in every land where a ray of liberty penetrates the gloom of 
despotism ? Shall the Executive alone be deprived of rights which all his 
fellow-citizens enjoy? The whole proceeding against him justifies the fears 
of those wise and great men who, before the Constitution was adopted by the 



THE "COVODE INVESTIGATION." 253 

States, apprehended that the tendency of the Government was to the- 
aggrandizement of the legislative at the expense of the executive ami judicial 
departments. 

I again declare emphatically that I make this protest for no reason personal 
to myself; and I do it with perfect respect for the House of Representatives, 
in which I had the honor of serving as a member for five successive terms. I 
have lived long in this goodly land, and have enjoyed all the offices and honors 
which my country could bestow. Amid all the political storms through 
which 1 have passed, the present is the first attempt which has ever been 
made, to my knowledge, to assail my personal or official integrity; and this as 
the time is approaching when I shall voluntarily retire from the service of my 
country. I feel proudly conscious that there is no public act of my life which 
will not bear the strictest scrutiny. I defy all investigation. Nothing but the 
basest perjury can sully my good name. I do not fear even this, because I 
cherish an humble confidence that the Gracious Being who has hitherto 
defended and protected me against the shafts of falsehood and malice will not 
desert me now, when I have become 1: old and gray-headed." I can declare, 
before God and my country, that no human being (with an exception scarcely 
worthy of notice) has, at any period of my life, dared to approach me with a 
corrupt or dishonorable proposition ; and, until recent developments, it had 
never entered into my imagination that any person, even in the storm of 
exasperated political excitement, would charge me, in the most remote degree, 
with having made such a proposition to any human being. I may now, how- 
ever, exclaim, in the language of complaint employed by my first and greatest 
predecessor, that I have been abused "in such exaggerated and indecent terms 
as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, to a notorious defaulter, or even to a 
common pickpocket." 

I do, therefore, for the reasons stated, and in the name of the people of 
the several States, solemnly protest against these proceedings of the House of 
Representatives, because they are in violation of the rights of the coordinate 
executive branch of the Government, and subversive of its constitutional 
independence; because they are calculated to foster a band of interested 
parasites and informers, ever ready, for their own advantage, to swear before 
e.r jiartc committees to pretended private conversations between the President 
;and themselves, incapable, from their nature, of being disproved, thus furnish- 
ing material for harassing him, degrading him in the eyes of the country, and 
eventually, should he be a weak or a timid man, rendering him subservient to 
improper influences, in order to avoid such persecutions and annoyances; 
because they tend to destroy that harmonious action for the common good 
which ought to be maintained, and which I sincerely desire to cherish between 
coordinate branches of the Government ; and, finally, because, if unresisted, 
they would establish a precedent dangerous and embarrassing to all my suc- 
cessors, to whatever political party they might be attached. 

James Blcuan.vn. 

"Washington, March 28, 1SG0. 



o 54 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

This message was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, 
a majority of whom, through their chairman, on the 9th of 
April, reported resolutions against its constitutional doctrines, 
which the House adopted on the 8th of June, by a party vote, 
and the proceeedings of the Covode Committee went on until 
the 16th of that month. Mr. Train, of Massachusetts, one of 
the committee, then reported to the House a great mass of testi 
mony which had been taken from all sorts of willing witnesses 
against the President, but without a single resolution accusing or 
censuring either him or any member of his cabinet. This was, in 
one sense, as he has himself said, " a triumphant result for the 
President."* But the movers in this business had attained their 
object, in procuring and spreading before the country the means 
of traducing the President ; means which rested for the most 
part on perjury, and for the residue were colored by personal 
or political hostility. It was impossible for Mr. Buchanan to 
allow this to pass without further notice. It is more than prob- 
able that the further notice which he took of it prevented a 
repetition of this kind of proceeding, when, on a future occasion, 
another President of the United States incurred the hostility 
of a dominant majority in the House of Representatives. On 
the 22d of June he sent to the House the following additional 
message : — 

'• To tite House of Representatives : — 

"In my message to the House of Representatives of the 2Sth March last, 
I solemnly protested against the creation of a committee, at the head of which 
was placed my accuser, for the purpose of investigating whether the President 
had, ' by money, patronage or other improper means, sought to influence the 
action of Congress, or any committee thereof, for or against the passage of any 
law appertaining to the rights of any State or Territory.' I protested against 
this because it was destitute of any specification ; because it referred to no 
particular act to enable the President to prepare for his defence ; because it 
deprived him of the constitutional guards, which, in common with every citi- 
zen of the United States, he possesses for his protection; and because it 
assailed his constitutional independence as a coordinate branch of the Govern- 
ment. There is an enlightened justice, as well as a beautiful symmetry, in 
every part of the Constitution. This is conspicuously manifested in regard to 
impeachments. The House of Representatives possesses ' the sole power of 



* Buchanan's Defence, p. 248. 



THE "COVODE INVESTIGATION." 25S 

impeachment;' the Senate 'the sole power to try all impeachments; 1 and 

the impeachable offences are 'treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misde- 
meanors.' The practice of the House, from the earliest times, had been in 
accordance with its own dignity, the rights of the accused, and the demands 
of justice. At the commencement of each judicial investigation which might 
lead to an impeachment, specific charges were always preferred; the accused 
had an opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses, and he was placed in 
full possession of the precise nature of the offence which he had to meet. An 
impartial and elevated standing committee was charged with this investigation, 
upon which no member inspired with the ancient sense of honor and justice 
AvouUl have served, had he ever expressed an opinion against the accused. 
Until the present occasion, it was never deemed proper to transform the 
accuser into the judge, and to confer upon him the selection of his own com- 
mittee. 

" The charges made against me, in vague and general terms, were of such 
a false and atrocious character, that I did not entertain a moment's apprehen- 
sion for the result. They were abhorrent to every principle instilled into me 
from my youth, and every practice of my life, and I did not believe it possible 
that the man existed who would so basely perjure himself as to swear to the 
truth of any such accusations. In this conviction I am informed I have not 
been mistaken. In my former protest, therefore, I truly and emphatically 
declared that it was made for no reason personal to myself, but because the 
proceedings of the House were in violation of the rights of the coordinate 
executive branch of the Government, subversive of its constitutional inde- 
pendence, and, if unresisted, would establish a precedent dangerous and 
embarrassing to all my successors. Notwithstanding all this, if the committee 
had not transcended the authority conferred upon it by the resolution of the 
House of Representatives, broad and general as this was, I should have 
remained silent upon the subject. What I now charge is, that they have acted 
as though they possessed unlimited power, and, without any warrant what- 
ever in the resolution under which they were appointed, have pursued a 
course not merely at war with the constitutional rights of the Executive, but 
tending to degrade the presidential office itself to such a degree as to render 
it unworthy of the acceptance of any man of honor or principle. 

" The resolution of the House, so far as it is accusatory of the President, is 
confined to an inquiry whether he had used corrupt or improper means to 
influence the action of Congress or any of its committees on legislative meas- 
ures pending before them. Nothing more, nothing less. I have not learned 
through the newspapers, or in any other mode, that the committee have 
touched the other accusatory branch of the resolution, charging the President 
with a violation of duty in failing to execute some law or laws. This branch 
of the resolution is therefore out of the question. By what authority, then, 
have the committee undertaken to investigate the course of the President in 
regard to the convention which framed the Lecompton constitution? By 
what authority have they undertaken to pry into our foreign relations, for the 



- G LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

purpose of assailing him on account of the instructions given by the Secretary 
of State to our minister in Mexico, relative to the Tehuantepec route? By what 
authority have they inquired into the causes of removal from office, and this 
from the parties themselves removed, with a view to prejudice his character, 
nthstanding this power of removal belongs exclusively to the President 
, the Constitution, was so decided by the first Congress in the year 1789, 
and has accordingly ever since been exercised? There is in the resolution no 
pretext of authority for the committee to investigate the question of the 
printing of the post-office blanks, nor is it to be supposed that the House, if 
d would have granted such an authority, because this question had been 
previously committed to two other committees — one in the Senate and the 
other in the House. Notwithstanding this absolute want of power, the com- 
mittee rushed into this investigation in advance of all other subjects. 

The committee proceeded for months, from March 22d, 1860, to examine 
ex parte, and without any notice to myself, into every subject which could 
possibly affect my character. Interested and vindictive witnesses were sum- 
moned and examined before them ; and the first and only information of their 
testimony which, in almost every instance, I received, was obtained from the 
publication of such portions of it as could injuriously affect myself, in the New 
York journals. It mattered not that these statements were, so far as I have 
learned, disproved by the most respectable witnesses who happened to be on 
the spot. The telegraph was silent respecting these contradictions. It was a 
secret committee in regard to all the testimony which could by possibility 
reflect on my character. The poison was left to produce its effect upon the 
public mind, whilst the antidote was carefully withheld. 

" In their examinations the committee violated the most sacred and honor- 
able confidences existing among men. Private correspondence, which a truly 
honorable man would never even entertain a distant thought of divulging, was 
dragged to light. Different persons in official and confidential relations with 
myself, and with whom it was supposed I might have held conversations, the 
revelation of which would do me injury, were examined. Even members of 
the Senate and members of my own cabinet, both my constitutional advisers, 
were called upon to testify, for the purpose of discovering something, if possi- 
ble, to my discredit. 

" The distribution of the patronage of the Government is by far the most 
disagreeable duty of the President. Applicants are so numerous, and their 
applications are pressed with such eagerness by their friends both in and out 
of Congress, that the selection of one for any desirable office gives offence to 
many. Disappointed applicants, removed officers, and those who for any 
cause, real or imaginary, had become hostile to the administration, presented 
themselves, or were invited by a summons to appear before the committee. 
These arc the most dangerous witnesses. Even with the best intentions, they 
influenced by prejudice and disappointment, that they almost inevitably 
discolor truth. They swear to their own version of private conversations 
with the President without the possibility of contradiction. His lips are sealed 



THE "COVODE INVESTIGATION.' 057 

and he is left at their mercy. Be cannot, as a coordinate branch of the Gov- 
ernment, appear before a committee of investigation to contradict the oaths of 
such witnesses. Every coward knows that lie ran employ insulting Ian 
against the President with impunity, and every false or prejudiced witness can 

attempt to swear away his character before such a committee without the fear 
of contradiction. 

"Thus for months, whilst, doing my best at one end of the avenue to per- 
form my high and responsible duties to the countiy, has there been a com- 
mittee of the House of Representatives in session at the other end of the 
avenue, spreading a drag-net, without the shadow of authority from the 
House, over the whole Union, to catch any disappointed man willing to malign 
my character, and all this in secret conclave. The lion's mouth at Venice, into 
which secret denunciations were dropped, is an apt illustration of the Covode 
committee. The Star Chamber, tyrannical and odious as it was, never pro- 
ceeded in such a manner. For centuries there has been nothing like it in any 
civilized country, except the revolutionary tribunal of France, in the days of 
Robespierre. Now, I undertake to state and to prove that should the pro- 
ceedings of the committee be sanctioned by the House, and become a prece- 
dent for future times, the balance of the Constitution will be entirely upset, 
and there will no longer remain the three coordinate and independent branches 
of the Government — legislative, executive, and judicial. The worst fears of 
the patriots and statesmen who framed the Constitution in regard to the usurpa- 
tions of the legislative on the executive and judicial branches will then be 
realized. In the language of Mr. Madison, speaking on this very subject, in 
the forty-eighth number of the Federalist : ' In a representative republic, 
where the executive magistracy is carefully limited both in the extent and 
duration of its power, and where the legislative power is exercised by an 
assembly which is inspired by a supposed influence over the people, with an 
intrepid confidence in its own strength, which is sufficiently numerous to feel 
all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be inca- 
pable of pursuing the objects of its passions by means which reason prescribes, 
it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought 
to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.' And in the 
expressive and pointed language of Mr. Jefferson, when speaking of the ten- 
dency of the legislative branch of Government to usurp the rights of the 
weaker branches: 'The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the 
definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers 
will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hun- 
dred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let 
those who doubt it turn their eyes on the Republic of Venice. As little will 
it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not 
the government we fought for, but one which should not only be founded on 
free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and 
balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend 
their legal limits without being effectually checked and controlled by the others " 

II.— 17 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 
coo 

"Should the proceedings of the Covode committee become a precedent, 
■ letter and spirit of the Constitution will be violated. One of the three 
sive columns on which the whole superstructure rests will be broken 
down. Instead of the Executive being a coordinate, it will become a subor- 
anch of the Government. The presidential office will be dragged into 
lust. The House of Representatives will then have rendered the Execu- 
almost necessarily subservient to its wishes, instead of being independent. 
How is it possible that two powers in the State can be coordinate and inde- 
pendent of each other, if the one claims and exercises the power to reprove 
and to censure all the official acts and all the private conversations of the 
other, and this upon ex parte testimony before a secret inquisitorial committee 

in short, to assume a general censorship over the others ? The idea is as 

absurd in public as it would be in private life. Should the President attempt 
to assert and maintain his own independence, future Covode committees may 
dragoon him into submission by collecting the hosts of disappointed office- 
hunters, removed officers, and those who desire to live upon the public treas- 
ury, which must follow in the wake of every administration, and they, in 
secret conclave, will swear away his reputation. Under such circumstances, 
he must be a very bold man should he not surrender at discretion and consent 
to exercise his authority according to the will of those invested with this ter- 
rific power. The sovereign people of the several States have elected him to 
the highest and most honorable office in the world. He is their only direct 
representative in the Government. By their Constitution they have made 
him commander-in-chief of their army and navy. He represents them in their 
intercourse with foreign nations. Clothed with their dignity and authority, 
he occupies a proud position before all nations, civilized and savage. With the 
consent of the Senate, he appoints all the important officers of the Government. 
He exercises the veto power, and to that extent controls the legislation of Con- 
gress. For the performance of these high duties he is responsible to the people 
of the several States, and not in any degree to the House of Representatives. 
" Shall he surrender these high powers, conferred upon him as the repre- 
sentative of the American people, for their benefit, to the House, to be exer- 
cised under their overshadowing influence and control 1 Shall he alone of all 
the citizens of the United States be denied a fair trial ? Shall he alone not be 
' informed of the nature and cause of the accusation ' against him ? Shall he 
alone not 'be confronted with the witnesses' against him? Shall the House 
of Representatives, usurping the powers of the Senate, proceed to try the 
President through the agency of a secret committee of the body where it is 
impossible he can make any defence, and then, without affording him an 
opportunity of being heard, pronounce a judgment of censure against him ? 
The very same rule might be applied, for the very same reason, to every 
judge of every court in the United States. From what part of the Constitu- 
te m is this terrible inquisitorial power derived? No such express power 
exists. From which of the enumerated powers can it be inferred ? It is true 
the House cannot pronounce the formal judgment against him of 'removal 



THE "COVODE INVESTIGATION." 259 

from office," but they can, by their judgment of censure, asperse his reputation, 
and thus, to the extent of their influence, render the office contemptible. An 
example is at hand of the reckless manner in which this power of censure can 
be employed in high party times. The House, on a recent occasion, have 
attempted to degrade the President by adopting the resolution of Mr. John 
Sherman, declaring that he, in conjunction with the Secretary of the Navy, 
"by receiving and considering the party relations of bidders for contracts, and 
the effect of awarding contracts upon pending elections, have sel an example 
dangerous to the public safety, and deserving the reproof of this House." 

It will scarcely be credited that the sole pretext for this vote of censure 
was the simple fact that in disposing of the numerous letters of every imagin- 
able character which I daily receive, I had, in the usual course of business, 
referred a letter from Colonel Patterson, of Philadelphia, in relation to a con- 
tract, to the attention of the Secretary of the Navy, the head of the appropri- 
ate department, without expressing or intimating any opinion whatever on 
the subject ; and to make the matter, if possible, still plainer, the Secretary 
had informed the committee that "the President did not in any manner inter- 
fere in this case, nor has he in any other case of contract since I have been in the 
department." The absence of all proof to sustain this attempt to degrade the 
President, whilst it manifests the venom of the shaft aimed at him, has de- 
stroyed the vigor of the bow. 

To return, after this digression. Should the House, by the institution of 
Covode committees, votes of censure, and other devices to harass the Presi- 
dent, reduce him to subservience to their will, and render him their creature, 
then the well-balanced Government which our fathers framed will be anni- 
hilated. This conflict has already been commenced in earnest by the House 
against the Executive. A bad precedent rarely if ever dies. It will, I fear, 
be pursued in the time of my successors, no matter what may be their political 
character. Should secret committees be appointed with unlimited authority 
to range over all the words and actions, and, if possible, the very thoughts of 
the President, with a view to discover something in his past life prejudicial to 
his character, from parasites and informers, this would be an ordeal which 
scarcely any mere man since the fall could endure. It would be to subject 
him to a reign of terror from which the stoutest and purest hearts might 
shrink. I have passed triumphantly through this ordeal. My vindication is 
complete. The committee have reported no resolution looking to an impeach- 
ment against me, no resolution of censure, not even a resolution pointing 
out any abuses in any of the executive departments of the Government to be 
corrected by legislation. This is the highest commendation which could be 
bestowed on the heads of these departments. The sovereign people of the 
States will, however, I trust, save my successors, whoever they may be, from 
any such ordeal. They are frank, bold, and honest. They detest delators 
and informers. I therefore, in the name and as the representative of this 
great people, and standing upon the ramparts of the Constitution which they 



o 60 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

"have ordained and established," do solemnly protest against these unprece- 
dented and unconstitutional proceedings. 

• was still another committee raised by the House on the 6th March 

last, on motion of Mr. Heard, to which I had not the slightest objection. 

resolution creating it was confined to specific charges, which I have ever 

been ready and willing to meet. I have at all times invited and defied 

fair investigation upon constitutional principles. I have received no notice 

committee have ever proceeded to the investigation. 

Why should the House of Representatives desire to encroach on the other 
departments of the Government? Their rightful powers are ample for every 
timate purpose. They are the impeaching body. In their legislative 
capacity it is their most wise and wholesome prerogative to institute rigid 
examinations into the manner in which all departments of the Government 
are conducted, with a view to reform abuses, to promote economy, and to 
improve every branch of the administration. Should they find reason to 
believe, in the course of their examinations, that any grave offence had been 
committed by the President or any officer of the Government, rendering it 
proper, in their judgment, to resort to impeachment, their course would be 
plain. They would then transfer the question from their legislative to their 
accusatory jurisdiction, and take care that in all the preliminary judicial pro- 
ceedings, preparatory to the vote of articles of impeachment, the accused 
should enjoy the benefit of cross-examining the witnesses, and all the other 
safeguards with which the Constitution surrounds every American citizen. 

If, in a legislative investigation, it should appear that the public interest 
required the removal of any officer of the Government, no President has ever 
existed who, after giving him a fair hearing, would hesitate to apply the rem- 
edy. This I take to be the ancient and well-established practice. An adher- 
ence to it will best promote the harmony and the dignity of the intercourse 
between the coordinate branches of the Government, and render us all more 
respectable both in the eyes of our own countrymen and of foreign nations. 

James Buchanan. 

Washington, June 22, 1860. 

This last message was referred to a select committee, with in- 
structions to report at the next session. But no report was 
ever made, and legislative action on the doings of the " Co- 
vode Committee" thus came to an end. But in the country 
the materials for calumniating the President continued to be 
used as they were originally designed to be. It will be inter- 
esting to know something more of the feelings of Mr. Buchanan 
on the subject, as expressed in a private letter to the editor and 
proprietor of a great New York journal. 



THE "COVODE INVESTIGATION." 2G1 

[TO JAMES GORDON BENNETT, ESQ.] 

(Private and Confidential.) Washington, June 18th, 18G0. 

My Dear Sir : — 

I thought I never should have occasion to appeal to you on any public sub- 
ject, and I knew it" I did, I could not swerve you from your independent 
course. I therefore now only ask you as a personal friend to take the trouble 
of examining yourself the proceedings of the Covodc Committee and the 
reports of the majority and minority, and then to do me what you may deem 
to be justice. That committee were engaged in secret conclave for nearly 
three months in examining every man, ex parte, who, from disappointment or 
personal malignity, would cast a shade upon the character of the Executive. 
If this dragooning can exist, the Presidential office would be unworthy of the 
acceptance of a gentleman. 

In performing my duty, I have endeavored to be not only pure but unsus- 
pected. I have never had any concern in awarding contracts, but have left 
them to be given by the heads of the appropriate departments. I have ever 
detested all jobs, and no man, at any period of my life, has ever approached 
me on such a subject. The testimony of contains nothing but false- 
hoods, whether for or against me, for he has sworn all round. 

I shall send a message to the House in a few days on the violation of the 
Constitution involved in the vote of censure and in the appointment and pro- 
ceedings of the Covode Committee. I am glad to perceive from the Herald 
that you agree with me on the Constitutional question. I shall endeavor to 
send you a copy in advance. 

With my kindest regards to Mrs. Bennett, I remain, very respectfully, 

Your friend, 

James Buchanan. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS FROM 1787 TO 1860— THE ANTI- 
SLAVERY AGITATION IN THE NORTH — GROWTH AND POLITICAL TRI- 
UMPH OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY — FATAL DIVISIONS AMONG THE 
DEMOCRATS— MR. BUCHANAN DECLINES TO BE REGARDED AS A CAN- 
DIDATE FOR A SECOND ELECTION. 

A S the reader is now approaching the period when, for the 
A first time in our political history, a President of the 
United States was elected by the votes of the free States alone, 
a retrospective view of those events which preceded and con- 
tributed to that result is necessary to a correct understanding 
of the great national schism of 1860-01. 

The beginning of the year 1860 found the people of the 
United States in the enjoyment of as great a measure of pros- 
perity as they had ever known. It was to close with a condition 
of feeling between the two sections of the Union entirely fatal 
to its peace and threatening to its perpetuity. In the future of 
our country there will come a time when our posterity will 
ask, why should there ever have been any "North" or any 
"South," in the sense in which those divisions have been 
marked in so long a period of our national history. When the 
inquirer learns that from the time of the formation and estab- 
lishment of the Constitution of the United States, the existence 
of slavery in certain States was nearly the sole cause of the sec- 
tional antagonism typified by those terms, he w r ill have to trace, 
through various settlements, the successive adjustments of 
questions which related to this one dangerous and irritating 
subject. 

This portion of our national history is divided into distinct 
stages, at each of which some thing intended to be definite and 
final was reached. It is also filled by the disastrous influence 
of causes which unsettled what had once been determined as a 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 2C3 

series of compacts between the sections; causes which continued 
to operate until the year that witnessed the beginning of a 
groat catastrophe. 

The Constitution of the United States, so far as it related in 
any way to the condition of slavery, was the result of agreements 

and adjustments between the Northern and the Southern States, 

which have been called "compromises." It is not material to 

the present purpose to consider either the moral justification for 
these arrangements, or whether there was an equality or an in- 
equality as between the two sections, in what they respectively 
gained or conceded. Both sections gained the Union of the 
whole country under a system of government better adapted to 
secure its welfare and happiness than it had known before; and 
what this system promised was abundantly fulfilled. The pre- 
cise equivalent which the Southern States received, by the 
settlement made in the formation of the Constitution, was the 
recognition of slavery as a condition of portions of their popu- 
lation by a right exclusively dependent upon their own local 
law, and exclusively under their own control as a right of 
property ; and to this right of property was annexed a stipula- 
tion that the master might follow his slave from the State 
whence he had escaped into any other State, and require him to 
be given up, even if the law of that other State did not recog- 
nize the condition of servitude. One other concession was 
made by the Northern States : that although the slaves of the 
Southern States were regarded as property, they should be so 
far considered as persons as to be reckoned in a certain ratio in 
fixing the basis of representation in the popular branch of Con- 
gress, and by consequence in fixing the electoral vote of the 
State in the choice of a President of the United States. The 
special equivalent which the Northern States received for these 
concessions was in the establishment of what is called " the 
commercial power," or the power of Congress to regulate for 
the whole country the trade with foreign nations and between 
the States ; a power which it was foreseen w r as to be one of vast 
importance, which was one of the chief objects for which the 
new Union was to be formed, and which proved in the event to 
be all, and more than all, that had been anticipated for it. 
Viewed in the light of mutual stipulations, these so-called 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

•• compromises " between the two sections were laid at the basis 
of the Constitution, forming a settlement fixed in the supreme 
law of the land, and therefore determinate and final. 

Contemporaneously with the formation of the Constitution, 
a in I before its adoption, the Congress of the Confederation was 
engaged in framing an ordinance for the government of the 
.Northwestern Territory, a region of country north and west of 
the Ohio, which Virginia and other States had ceded to the 
United States during the war of the revolution. From this 
region the ordinance excluded slavery by an agreement made in 
that Congress between the Northern and the Southern States. 
The Constitution did not take notice of this Northwestern Ter- 
ritory by its specific designation, but it was made to embrace a 
provision empowering the new Congress " to make all needful 
rules and regulations respecting the territory and all other 
property of the United States," and also a provision for the 
admission into the Union of new States, to be formed out of any 
territory belonging to the United States. For a long period 
after the adoption of the Constitution, these two provisions, 
taken together, were regarded as establishing a plenary power 
of legislation over the internal condition of any territory that 
might in any way become the property of the United States, 
while it remained subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Con- 
gress, and down to the time when its inhabitants were to be 
permitted to form themselves into a State that was to be 
admitted into the Union upon an equality with all the other 
States. Under this process, between the years 1792 and 1820, 
nine new States were admitted into the Union; five of them 
with slavery and four of them without it. Of these, three were 
formed out of parts of the Northwestern Territory, and they 
therefore derived their character as free States from the admitted 
f( tree of the ordinance of 1787 ; while the others were not within 
the scope of that ordinance, but derived their character from 
the legislative authority of Congress under the Constitution. 

It was not until the year 1820 that this recognized practice 
of admitting a State into the Union as a free or as a slave State, 
ac lording to the character of its early settlement, and the legis- 
lation which governed the Territorial condition, incurred any 
serious danger of interruption. But in that year, Missouri, 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. -j.;;, 

which was a part ot' the territory ceded in I s * 1 -'! by France to 
the United States under the name of Louisiana, was in a condi- 
tion to seek admission into the Union. Slavery had existed 
there from the first settlement of the country, and when it be- 
came necessary to authorize the free inhabitants to form a State 
constitution, preparatory to admission into the Onion, it was 
certain that, if left to themselves, they would not abolish a do- 
mestic relation that had long existed among them, and in which 
no inconsiderable part of their wealth was involved. It was 
proposed to require them to abolish it, as a condition precedent 
to the admission of the State into the Union. On this so-called 
" Missouri Restriction," a violent sectional struggle ensued in 
Congress, which ended in what has since been known as the 
"Missouri Compromise." 1 This was embodied in the organic 
act, passed on the 6th of March, 1S20, which authorized the 
people of the then Territory of Missouri to form a State consti- 
tution and government. The compromise consisted, on the one 
hand, in the omission of the proposed restriction as a condition 
of admission into the Union, and, on the other hand, in a guar- 
antee of perpetual freedom throughout all the remainder of the 
Louisiana territory lying north of the parallel of 3G° 30'. This 
was accompanied, however, by a proviso, which saved the right 
to reclaim any person escaping into that region, from whom 
labor or service was lawfully claimed in any State or Territory 
of the United States. The parallel of 30° 30' was adopted as 
the line north of which slavery or involuntary servitude might 
not be permitted to exist as an institution or condition recog- 
nized by the local law, because it was assumed as a practical 
fact that north of that line the slavery of the African race could 
not, from the nature of the climate, be profitably introduced, 
whilst it was equally assumed that in those portions of the 
Louisiana purchase south of that line, the habits of the con- 
tiguous States, and the character of the climate would induce a 
settlement by persons accustomed to hold and depend upon that 
species of labor in the cultivation of the soil, and in the wants 
of domestic life. The principle of the Missouri Compromise, 
therefore, as a final settlement made between the two sections 
of the Union in respect to the whole of the Louisiana purchase, 
was that north of the parallel of 30° 30', slavery could never be 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

introduced, but that south of that line, slavery might be estab- 
lished according to the will of the free inhabitants. Kegarded 
in the light of a division of this vast territory, this compromise 
secured to the North quite as much as, if not more than, it 
secured to the South. Regarded in the light of a settlement of 
a dangerous and exciting controversy, on which the whole 
Union could repose, the Missouri Compromise disposed of the 
future character of all the territory then belonging to the United 
States, not including the Northwestern Territory, the character 
of which was fixed by the ordinance of 1787. For a quarter of 
a century afterward, the two sections of North and South rested 
in peace upon the settlement of 1820, so far as discussion of the 
subject of slavery in the halls of Congress could be induced by 
the application of new States to be admitted into the Union. 
But in 1845, when Texas, a foreign, an independent, and a slave 
State, was annexed to the Union, the subject of an increase in 
the number of slave States came again into discussion, in which 
angry sectional feeling was carried to a dangerous point. Texas 
was finally admitted into the Union as a slaveholding State, 
with a right to divide herself into four new States, with or with- 
out slavery ; but one of the express conditions of the annexa- 
tion was a recognition of the Missouri Compromise line, so that 
north of that line no new State could be framed out of any por- 
tion of Texas unless slavery should be excluded from it. The 
wisdom and policy of the Missouri Compromise were thus 
again recognized, and it remained undisturbed for a period of 
thirty-four years from the time of its enactment, as a covenant 
of peace between the North and the South. 

The war between the United States and Mexico, which was 
terminated by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1818, re- 
sulted in the acquisition by the United States of a vast region 
of country which was not embraced by the Missouri Compro- 
mise. At the time of this acquisition, Mr. Buchanan earnestly 
advocated the extension of the line of 36° 30' through the whole 
of this new territory to the Pacific Ocean, as the best mode of 
adjustment. 

It is not necessary in this historical sketch to dwell on the 
advantages or disadvantages of this plan. All that needs to be 
said about it here is, that it commended itself to Mr. Buchanan 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 0^7 

as a plan more acceptable to the people of both sections of the 
Union than any other that could he devised. It was defeated 
by the proposal of the so-called'' Wilmot Proviso," which aimed 
to exclude slavery from all possible introduction into any part 
of this newly acquired territory, without regard to the principle 
of division which was the characteristic of the Missouri Com- 
promise, and without recognizing any claim of the Blaveholding 
States to an equal enjoyment of the common territory of the 
Union, in the manner in which they asserted that claim. The 
Southern claim was that of a right to emigrate into any Terri- 
tory of the United States, with slaves, as part of the property of 
the emigrant, just as a Northern man could emigrate into Buch 
a Territory with whatever personal property he chose to take 
with him. When, therefore, the admission of California as a 
State, and the organization of Territorial governments for the 
other provinces of Mexico that had been ceded to the United 
States came before Congress, they came accompanied by a great 
sectional excitement, that was partly due to the anti-slavery 
agitation that had been going on in the North, and partly to the 
struggle for an increase of the political power of the free States 
on the one side, and of the slave States on the other, according 
as the future character of these new acquisitions might be deter- 
mined. 

Having now reached the year 1850, the reader stands at a 
period at which the character of freedom had been long im- 
pressed upon the whole of the Northwestern Territories ; at 
which the character of the whole region of the Louisiana pur- 
chase had been for thirty years determined by the principle of 
the Missouri Compromise ; and at which, what remained to be 
done was to adjust, by a final settlement, the future character of 
the territory acquired from Mexico, and to act upon any other 
questions concerning slavery that demanded and admitted legis- 
lation by Congress. There were two such questions that did 
not relate to the newly acquired territory. One of these con- 
cerned the toleration of the domestic slave trade in the District 
of Columbia, the abolition of which was loudly demanded 
by the North. The other related to a Southern demand 
of a more efficient law for the extradition of fugitives from 
service. 



ogg LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

The Thirty-first Congress, assembled in December, 1849, was 
the one which enacted the series of measures known as the 
"Compromise of 1S50," and which settled all the slavery ques- 
tions that remained for adjustment. In respect to the territory 
that had been acquired from Mexico, there was danger for a time 
that all harmony of action would be frustrated by the so-called 
"Wilmot Proviso," which aimed to impose as a fundamental 
condition of any legislation respecting any part of that territory, 
a perpetual exclusion of slavery. Mr. Buchanan was out of 
public office at this time, but his influence was exerted in his 
own State, with success, to prevent the passage by her legisla- 
ture of instructing resolutions in favor of that proviso. This 
led the way for its rejection by Congress. On the 4th of Feb- 
ruary, 1850, resolutions favoring the proviso were laid upon the 
table of the House of Representatives in Congress, by the vote 
of 105 to 75. This important vote was followed in the Senate 
by live measures, designed by Mr. Clay and supported by Mr. 
Webster and Mr. Calhoun, which, after a long discussion, 
became laws in September, 1850, with the general concurrence 
of both the Whig and the Democratic parties. The first of 
these Acts consisted of a new and more efficient law for the 
extradition of fugitives from service, to take the place of the old 
law of February 12th, 1793, which bore the signature of Wash- 
ington. By reason of a decision of the Supreme Court, made in 
1842, which had determined that Congress could not constitu- 
tionally require State magistrates to perform a duty which 
the Court declared to be one pertaining exclusively to the Fed- 
eral power, the law of 1793 had become almost inoperative. 
Although the decision of the Court left the States at liberty to 
allow their magistrates to act in such cases, many of the Northern 
States had passed laws to prohibit them from rendering any offi- 
cial aid to the claimant of a fugitive from service. It had 
become necessary, therefore, for Congress to provide officers of 
Federal appointment to execute an express mandate of the 
Federal Constitution. This was the purpose of the new law of 

The second of these " compromise measures " was an Act for 
the immediate admission of California into the Union, as a free 
State, embracing its whole territory, both south and north of 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 200 

the line of the Missouri Compromise. The third unci fourth 
measures were Acts for the establishment of Territorial govern- 
ments in New Mexico and Utah, which secured t<> them respect 
ivelv the right of admission as States into the Onion," with or 
without slavery as their respective constitutions might require." 
The Act relating to New Mexico declared that " no citizen of the 
United States shall be deprived of his life, liberty or property in 
said Territory, except by the judgment of his peers and the laws 
of the land ;" thus making, from abundant caution, a provision of 
the federal Constitution obligatory upon the Territorial legisla- 
ture. Thus these two Acts, along with the Missouri Compromise, 
comprehended all the territory belonging to the United Stat''.-, 
whether derived from Mexico or from France; there was no ter- 
ritory remaining for the Wilmot Proviso to act upon, and con- 
sequently the agitation of that proviso was excluded from the 
halls of Congress. Moreover, the Act for establishing the Ter- 
ritory of New Mexico withdrew from the jurisdiction of a slave 
State all that portion of Texas which lay north of the parallel of 
36° 30', by including it within the boundary of New Mexico. 
The fifth of the compromise measures of 1850 was a law abol- 
ishing the domestic slave trade within the District of Columbia. 
It is not singular that a final settlement, which disposed of all 
the slavery questions on which Congress could in any way act, 
should have been acceptable to the people of the whole Union, 
excepting the extremists of the two sections. The abolitionists 
of the North denounced it, because it admitted of the possible 
and theoretical establishment of slavery in New Mexico, not- 
withstanding the patent fact that neither the soil nor the climate 
of that region could ever make it a profitable form of labor, and 
because it recognized and provided for the execution of that 
provision of the Constitution which required the extradition of 
fugitives from service. The extreme men of the South disliked 
the settlement, because it admitted the great and rich State of 
California as a free State. But when the Presidential election 
of 1852 approached, the general approval of this settlement was 
made manifest. The national convention of the "Whig party 
nominated as its candidate for the Presidency General Scott, 
who was supposed to bo somewhat closely affiliated, both per- 
sonally and politically, with public men who opposed and 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

continued to denounce the compromise. But in their "plat- 
form" the Whigs pledged themselves to maintain it as a binding 
settlement, and to discountenance all attempts in or out of Con- 
3 to disturb it. The Democratic national convention not 
only made equally emphatic declarations of their purpose to 
maintain this settlement inviolate, but by nominating a candi- 
date who could not be suspected of any lukewarmness on this, 
the great political question of the time, they secured a majority 
of the electoral votes of both free and slave States that was 
almost unprecedented. General Pierce received 254 electoral 
votes out of 296, or 105 votes more than were necessary to a 
choice. All the free States, excepting Massachusetts and Ver- 
mont, and all the slave States, excepting Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee, gave him their electoral votes. Never did a party come 
into power with greater strength, and never was there a more 
distinct political issue than that which placed General Pierce at 
the head of the Government. The people at large distrusted 
the soundness of the Whig candidate and his friends upon the 
compromise of 1S50, and being determined to maintain that 
settlement as final, and to have no more agitation of slavery 
questions in Congress, they entrusted the destinies of the country 
to the Democratic party. 

But as not infrequently happens, the Democrats were in a 
majority so large that it became unwieldy; and before the 
administration of General Pierce had closed, a step was taken 
that was to lead to the most serious consequences. This step 
was the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The settlement, 
or " compromise" of 1850, made by the consentaneous action of 
the North and the South, rested, as on a corner stone, upon the 
inviolable character of the settlement of 1820, known as the 
Missouri Compromise. To preserve that earlier compromise 
intact, was to preserve the later one ; for if the settlement made 
in 1 820 in regard to all the territory derived from France should 
be renounced, the door would be open for the renunciation of 
the settlement made in 1850 respecting New Mexico and Utah. 
Sweep away the compact which dedicated the whole Louisiana 
territory north of 30° 30' to perpetual freedom, and which gave 
to ih" South whatever parts of it below that line might be 
adapted to slave labor, and all Territories everywhere would be 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 271 

subject to :i new contention over the dogma that slavery did or 
that it did not go into every Territory by virtue of a right 
derived from the Constitution of the United States. There was 
no security for the peace and harmony of the country, hut to act 
upon the principle that the settlement of 1850 rested for its 
foundation upon the inviolable character and perpetual duration 
of the settlement of 1820. 

But in all free countries governed by political parties, and 
especially at times when the party in power is in an extraordi- 
nary majority, there are always men who feel that they are 
wiser than others, and who are apt to couple their own aims as 
statesmen, looking to the highest honors of their country, with 
new plans for the management of public affairs. Such a man 
was the late Stephen A. Douglas, a Senator in Congress 
from the State of Illinois from 18-47 until his death, in 
18G1 ; a distinguished leader of the Democratic party, who 
had been several times a candidate for the nomination by 
his party to the Presidency. This very able man, who 
had a considerable body of friends attached to him from his 
energetic and somewhat imperious qualities, had been a stren- 
uous supporter of the Compromise of 1850, and had rendered 
very efficient service in the adoption of that settlement. He 
seems to have been somewhat suddenly led, in 1S54, to the 
adoption of the idea that it would be wise to repeal the Missouri 
Compromise, and that in its place might be substituted a doc- 
trine that the people of a Territory have the same right and 
ought to have the same sovereign power, while in the Territorial 
condition, to shape their domestic institutions in their own way, 
as the people of a State. He does not appear to have had the 
foresight to see that the practical application of this doctrine 
would lead, in the circumstances of the country, to a sectional 
struggle for the possession and political dominion of a Territory, 
between slaveholders and non-slaveholders, without the superin- 
tending and controlling authority of Congress to prevent such 
a conflict by determining the character of the Territory one way 
or the other. As he could not remove the Missouri settlement 
without attacking the constitutional power of Congress to 
legislate as it might see fit on the condition of a Territory, he 
boldly determined to make that attack, and to put in the 



.,.., LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

place of the authority of Congress the doctrine of "popular 
sovereignty" as a substitute for Congressional legislation on the 
relations of master and slave. When this ill-advised legislation, 
which tended in the most direct manner to concentrate into 
political organization the Northern dislike of slavery, received 
the sanction of the President, General Pierce, on the 30th of 
May, 1854, Mr. Buchanan was out of the country. He never 
approved of it, and had he been at home, it is quite certain that 
it would have encountered his strenuous opposition. 

Turning now aside from the history of these successive settle- 
ments, and the modes in which they were unsettled, in order 
to appreciate the condition of feeling between the two sections 
of the Union at the time when the election of Mr. Lincoln to 
the Presidency was effected exclusively by the electoral votes 
of the free States, the reader should learn something of the his- 
tory of the anti-slavery agitation in the North ; something of 
the effort to extend the political power of the slave States as a 
barrier against anticipated encroachments upon Southern rights; 
and something of the causes which led to the assertion of the sup- 
posed right of State secession from the Union, as a remedy against 
dangers apprehended to be in store for the people of the South. 

By the universal admission of all persons, whatever were 
their sentiments or feelings concerning slavery, the Constitution 
of the United States conferred no power upon Congress to act 
on it in any State of the Union. This was as much acknowl- 
edged by the early abolitionists as by all other men. They 
regarded the Constitution as a " pro-slavery " instrument. 
They admitted that the supreme law of the land recognized and 
(o a certain extent upheld the principle that slaves were prop- 
city; and they therefore sought for a justification of their 
attacks upon the Constitution in w T hat they denominated the 
"higher law," which meant that when the individual citizen 
believes that the moral law is in conflict with the law T of the 
land, the latter cannot rightfully bind his conscience or restrain 
his conduct. Proclaiming it to be sinful to live in a political 
i '"lit'ederacy which tolerated slavery anywhere w T ithin its limits, 
they began by denouncing the Constitution as a " league with 
death and a covenant with hell ; " and it was not long before 
this doctrine of the higher law was preached from pulpits and 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. j;.; 

disseminated by numerous publications in the New England 
States. The dates of the organized anti-slavery societies arc 
important to be observed, because of the spontaneous movemenl 
in Virginia towards the removal of slavery which shortly pre- 
ceded them. The Now England Anti-slavery Society was 
organized in Boston, on the 30th of .January, 1S32; the New 
York Society in October, 1S33; and the National Society at 
Philadelphia in December, 1833. Affiliated local societies of 
the same kind sprang up at once in many towns and villages of 
the North. At the time when these organizations were firsl 
gathered, and for a long period thereafter, there was no pending 
question upon the subject of the extension of slavery into 
Territories of the United States. The country had been reposing 
since 1820 upon the Missouri settlement ; it was not until 1845 
that any addition of slave territory was threatened ; and at the 
moment when the first anti-slavery society was organized in 
Boston, Virginia was on the verge of emancipating her slaves. 
Accordingly, the nature, purposes and methods of the Northern 
anti-slavery agitation between the year 1S32 and the annexation 
of Texas in 1845, and thence to the year 18G0, form a most 
important subject of political study. 

The founders of the Northern anti-slavery societies, while 
taking their stand in opposition to the Constitution, had yet, in 
all that they asked Congress to do, to address themselves to a 
public body every member of which had taken an oath to sup- 
port that instrument. In their own communities, those who 
carried on the agitation could appeal to the emotional natures 
of men, women and children upon the wrongs and the sin of 
slavery, and fill them with hatred of the slaveholder, without 
discriminating between questions on which the citizens of a 
non-slaveholding State could and those on which they could not 
legitimately act. A great moral force of abhorrence of slavery 
could thus be, and in fact was, in process of time accumulated. 
This force expended itself in two ways ; first, in supplying to 
the managers of the agitation the means of sending into the 
Southern States, pamphlets, newspapers and pictorial represen- 
tations setting forth the wrongs and cruelties of slavery. For 
this purpose, the mails of the United States had, by the year 
1835, been so much uscxl for the circulation in the South of 

II.— 18 



lM LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

matter which was there regarded as incendiary an J calculated to 
promote servile insurrections, that President Jackson deemed it 
to be his duty to propose legislation to arrest such abuses of the 
post office. Congress did not adopt his recommendation, and 
the abuse remained unchecked.* Another mode in which the 
anti-slavery agitation expended itself was in petitions to Con- 
gress. During the session of 1835-6, and for several of the 
following years, Congress was flooded with what were called 
" abolition petitions." On some of them Congress could legiti- 
mately act: such as those which prayed for the abolition of 
slavery in the District of Columbia, and in the forts, arsenals, 
and dock-yards of the United States situated in slaveholding 
States. On others, which petitioned for a dissolution of the 
Union on account of the existence of slavery in some of the 
States, or for action on the subject of slavery in general, Con- 
gress of course could do nothing. A question arose whether 
such petitions could be received at all, which led to a very 
memorable and a very excited discussion of the right of peti- 
tion. Not only was a large part of the time of Congress taken 
up with these topics, but the opposing representatives of the 
two sections were guilty of excesses in crimination and recrimi- 
nation, which foreshadowed the formation of two geographical 
parties, one Northern and the other Southern, having nothing 
but slavery as the cause of their division. 

One of the questions to which those who are to come after us 
will seek for an answer, will be, what was the justification for 
t hi 3 anti-slavery agitation, begun in 1832 and continued for a 
period of about ten years, during which there was no special 
effort on the part of the South to extend the area of slavery? 
What, again, was the unquestionable effect of this agitation in 
producing a revulsion of feeling on the whole subject of slavery 
among the slaveholders themselves ? "Was the time propitious 
for the accomplishment of any good? Were the mode, the 
method, and the spirit of the agitation such as men would 
resort to, who had a just and comprehensive sense of the limi- 
tations upon human responsibility ? 

* Sec the m/jssage of President Jackson, December 3, 1835. It is not intended in the 
press any opinion whether the abuse could or could not have been restrained in 
the wi proposed. The fact that the President of the United States deemed it his duty to 
make this recommendation attests the character of the abuse which he sought to remedy. 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 275 

The time was most unfortunate. The Southern conscience 
did not then need to be quickened or enlightened on the inher- 
ent wrong of African slavery; nor did it need to he told that 
the system was one that inflicted many evils upon society. 
Plans of emancipation, which the Southerners themselves were 
far better iitted to form than any one who was a stranger to 
their social condition, had already begun to be considered by 
enlightened men in more than one of the older Southern States. 
All that could be done by others who were beyond their limits, 
to aid them in any aspect of the subject, was limited by just 
such restraints as apply to any evil existing in a community 
to which it is confined, and on which strangers can offer 
nothing but the most considerate and temperate discussion 
of remedies originating among those who have the burthen 
to bear. The grand error of our early abolitionists was that 
they would not observe the limitations of human duty. They 
were either citizens or residents of non-slavcholding States. 
Foreigners, in respect to this matter, to the States in which 
slavery existed, they carried on their discussions, publications 
and organizations in communities whose public opinion could 
have but an extremely narrow and subordinate right to act on 
the subject at all. They either disregarded the fact that the 
Constitution of the United States could never have been estab- 
lished if it had not recognized the exclusive right of each 
Southern State to govern the relation of master and slave — nay, 
that the foreign slave trade without that Constitution could not 
have been ended when it was, if at all — or else they denounced 
the Constitution as an emanation from the bottomless pit. 
Grant that the relation of servitude was a moral wrong, that 
the idea that man can hold property in man was repugnant to 
the law of nature or the law of God ; grant that the political 
system of the Union, as our fathers made it, ought to have been 
reformed by their descendants ; — were there no moral restraints 
resting upon those who enjoyed the advantages and blessings of 
a Union which had been purchased by certain concessions to 
the slaveholder? Did not the Constitution itself provide for 
regular and peaceful changes which the progress of society and 
the growing philanthropy of the age might find to be neces- 
sary to the fuller practical development of the great truths of 



..;,; LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

liberty '. Was there no way to deal with, slavery but to attack 
the slaveholder as a sinner, stained with the deepest of crimes 
against God and his fellow-men ? Was there nothing to be done 
to aid him in ridding himself of the burthen of his sin, by 
(liM-ussing with him the economical problems of his situation ? 
Was it necessary for strangers to demand instant and unquali- 
fied manumission, regardless of what was to follow ? Was it 
necessary to assail the Constitution as an unholy covenant 
with sin, and, rejecting its restraints, to disregard the wisdom 
that takes human nature as it is, that is careful not to provoke 
reaction, that looks before and after, and shapes its measures 
with a rational forecast of their adaptation to the end ? 

Whilst it is not to be denied that our " Abolitionists " were 
men of a certain kind of courage developed into rashness, of 
unbounded zeal, of singular energy, of persistent consistency 
with their own principles of action, and of that fanatical force 
which is derived from the incessant comtemplation of one idea 
to the exclusion of all others, it must nevertheless be said that 
they were not statesmen. There was no one among them of 
whom it can be said that he acted with a statesmanlike com- 
prehension of the difficulties of this great subject, or with a 
statesman's regard for the limitations on individual conduct. 
Their situation was very different from that of the public or 
private men in England, who gallantly led the early crusade 
against the slave trade, or of those who afterwards brought 
about emancipation in the British colonies. Whatever Parlia- 
ment thought fit to do in regard to slavery under the British 
flag or in the British dominions, it had ample power to do, and 
what Parliament might be made to do, was for the nation to 
determine. An English statesman or philanthropist had, in 
either character, no constitutional restraints to consider. He 
had to deal with both moral and economical questions, and he 
could deal freely with either. He could use argument, persua- 
sion, invective, or denunciation, and he could not be told by the 
Jamaica slaveholder, you have entered into a solemn public 
compact with me which secures to me the exclusive cognizance 
of this domestic relation, and by that compact you purchased 
the very existence of the general government under which we 
both live. But a citizen of the United States, or a foreigner, 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 2T7 

taking his stand in a free State, stirring up popular hatred of 
the slaveholder, sending into the Southern States publications 
which were there regarded as incendiary, persuading legislative 
bodies in the North to act against one of the express conditions 
of the Federal Union, and renouncing all Christian fellowship 
with Southern churches, surely violated the spiril and in some 
respects the letter of the Constitution. JJe provoked a Budden 
revulsion of feeling in the South, and brought aboul a state of 
opinion which aimed to maintain slavery by texts of scripture, 
bv the examples of other nations, by the teachings of Christ and 
his apostles, by the assumed relations of races, by the supposed 
laws of public economy, and the alleged requirements of a 
southern clime. He promoted, by an effect as inevitable as the 
nature of man, a purpose to defend slavery through an increase 
of its political power, to which a multiplication of slave States 
would make a large addition. He thus sowed the wind, and 
left to another generation to reap the whirlwind. 

These assertions must not be left unsupported by proof, and 
the proof is at hand. In all periods of our history, prior to the 
civil war, Virginia exercised great influence over the whole slave- 
holding region. I have said that she Avas on the verge of eman- 
cipation when the first anti-slavery society was organized in the 
North ; and although half a century has since elapsed, there are 
those living who, like myself, can recollect that she was so. 
But to others the fact must be attested by proof. It may be 
asserted as positively as anything in history that, in the year 
1S32, there was nowhere in the world a more enlightened sense 
of the wrong and the evil of slavery, than there was among the 
public men and the people of Virginia. The movement against 
it was spontaneous. It reached the general assembly by petitions 
which evinced that the policy and justice of emancipation had 
taken a strong hold on the convictions of portions of the people 
of the State, whom no external influence had then reached, and 
who, therefore, had free scope. Any Virginian could place him- 
self at the head of this movement without incurring hostility 
or jealousy, and it was a grandson of Jefferson, Mr. Jefferson 
Randolph, by whom the leading part in it was assumed. 

Mr. Randolph represented in the assembly the county of 
Albemarle, which was one of the largest slaveholding counties 



278 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



of the State. He brought forward a bill to accomplish a grad- 
ual emancipation. It was debated with the freedom of men 
who, undisturbed by external pressure, were dealing with a 
matter of purely domestic concern. No member of the house 
defended slavery, for the day had not come when Southern 
ii icn were to learn that it was a blessing, because those who 
knew nothing of its burthens told them that it was a curse. 
There could be nothing said anywhere, there had been nothing 
said out of Virginia, stronger and truer, in depicting the evils 
of slavery, than was said in that discussion by Virginia gentle- 
men, debating in their own legislature a matter that concerned 
themselves and their people. But finding that the house was 
not prepared for immediate action on so momentous a subject, 
Mr. Eandolph did not press his bill to a vote. A resolution, 
however, was adopted, by a vote of 05 to 58, which shows what 
was the condition of the public sentiment -of Virginia at that 
moment. It declared, as the sense of the house, " that they 
were profoundly sensible of the great evils arising from the 
condition of the colored population of the commonwealth, and 
were induced by policy, as well as humanity, to attempt the 
immediate removal of the free negroes ; but that further action 
for the removal of the slaves should await a more definite 
development of public opinion." 

Mr. Eandolph was again elected by his constituents, upon 
this special question. But in the mean time came suddenly the 
intelligence of what w T as doing at the North. It came in an 
alarming aspect for the peace and security of the whole South; 
since it could not be possible that strangers should combine 
together to assail the slaveholder as a sinner and to demand his 
instant admission of his guilt, without arousing fears of the 
most dangerous consequences for the safety of Southern homes, 
as well as intense indignation aerainst such an unwarrantable 
interference. From that time forth, emancipation, whether 
immediate or gradual, could not be considered in Virginia or 
anywhere else in the South. Public attention became instantly 
fixed upon the means of resisting this external and unjustifiable 
intermeddling with a matter that did not concern those who 
intermeddled. A sudden revulsion of public sentiment in Vir- 
ginia was followed by a similar revulsion wherever Southern 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 2T9 

men had begun to consider for themselves what could be done 

for the amelioration of the condition of the colored race and for 
ultimate emancipation. As the Northern agitation went on, 
increasing in bitterness and gathering new forces. Southern 
statesmen cast about for new devices to strengthen the political 
power of their section in the Federal Government. These 
devices are to be traced to the anti-slavery agitation in the 
North as their exciting cause, as distinctly as anything what- 
ever in the history of sectional feeling can be traced back from 
an effect to a cause which has produced it. 

But tliis was not the whole of the evil produced by the anti- 
slavery agitation. It prevented all consideration by the higher 
class of Northern statesmen of any method of action by which 
the people of the free States could aid their Southern brethren 
in removing slavery ; and it presented to Northern politicians 
of the inferior order a local held for cultivating popularity, as 
the excitement went on increasing in violence and swept into its 
vortex the voters whose local support was found to be useful. 
That there was a line of action on which any Northern states- 
man could have entered, consistently with all the obligations 
flowing from the letter and the spirit of the Federal Constitu- 
tion, is perfectly plain. 

While it was impracticable for the people of the North to act 
directly upon slavery in any State through the Federal Govern- 
ment, it was not impracticable for that Government to follow, 
with cautious steps, in auxiliary measures to aid what it could 
not initiate. There were States which were becoming ripe for 
changes in the condition of their colored population. Of course 
such changes could be proposed, considered and acted upon only 
in each of those States, as a measure that concerned its own 
domestic condition. But there were many ways in which the 
Federal Government, without transcending its constitutional 
powers, could incidentally assist any State in what the State 
had of itself determined to do. The line which separated what 
the Federal power could legitimately and properly do from what 
was prohibited to it by every political and moral consideration, 
was not difficult to be discovered. For example, if the State 
of Virginia had in 1832-33 adopted any system for colonizing 
her negroes, what was there to prevent the Federal Government 



2S0 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



from -ranting a portion of the public lands for such a purpose? 
[f the subject of prospective emancipation bad been approached 
in this manner, without the disturbance produced by the anti- 
slavery societies of the North, who can doubt that experiments 
of the utmost consequence could have been tried, and tried suc- 
cessfully, in a country possessing an almost boundless public 
domain? But the sudden irruption of those societies into the 
held, their disregard of all prudential and all constitutional 
restraints, their fierce denunciations of the slaveholder, their 
demand for instant and unqualified manumission, at once con- 
verted a question which should have remained a matter for joint 
and friendly cooperation of the two sections, into a struggle for 
political supremacy of one section over the other in the councils 
of the Federal Government. All measures and tendencies in 
the South, which might have opened the way for subsidiary aid 
on the part of the Federal power, were at once arrested ; and it 
became a study with Southern statesmen how they were to raise 
new barriers for the defence of slavery, by increasing the politi- 
cal power of their section within the Union. The old barriers 
had become, in their eyes, but a feeble defence against those 
who proclaimed that the Union itself was an accursed thing, 
and that if immediate emancipation of the slaves was not 
adopted, the Union ought to be broken up. 

While it is true that the doctrines of the abolitionists were 
at first regarded by the great body of the Northern people as 
the ravings of fanatics, insomuch that they were sometimes 
subjected to popular violence, they were nevertheless making 
progress. Year after year the agitation was carried on in the 
same spirit, and year after year the excitement on the whole 
subject of slavery continued to grow until it reached a fresh 
impulse in the proposed annexation of Texas. It should in 
justice be remembered that the effort at that period to enlarge 
the area of slavery was an effort on the part of the South, dic- 
tated by a desire to remain in the Union, and not to accept the 
issue of an inherent incompatibility of a political union between 
slaveholding and non-slaveholding States. It was not at this 
period that the Southern States embraced, or were much dis- 
posed t<> embrace, the doctrine of "secession." The views of 
the nature of the Union, maintained by their most distin- 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 881 

guished and powerful statesman, Mr. Calhoun, in 1830-33, led 
logically to the deduction that every State has, by the terms of 
the Federal compact, a right to quit the Union when, in its own 
judgment, it deems that step necessary. But no considerable 
body of persons in the South, out of his own State, accepted 
his premises or followed them to their conclusion, until Long 
after he was in his grave; nor did he himself propose secession 
as a remedy against what he and the whole South regarded as 
the unwarrantable aggressions of the Northern abolitionists. 
He aimed to strengthen the political power of his section with- 
in the Union, and his whole course in regard to the acquisition 
of Texas shows his conviction that if that country were not 
brought under our dominion, there would be an exposed frontier, 
from which England and the American abolitionists would 
operate against slavery in the Southern section of the United 
States. The previous history of the Union shows very plainly 
that prior to the commencement of the Northern anti-slavery 
agitation, the political equilibrium between the two sections had 
not been seriously disturbed. 

At the period which I am now considering, the public men 
of the North who acted an important part in national affairs, 
and who belonged, as Mr. Buchanan unquestionably did belong, 
to the higher class of statesmen, had to act with a wise circum- 
spection on this subject of slavery. There was nothing that 
such a man could do, if he regarded his public duty with an 
American statesman's sense of public obligation, but to stand 
aloof from and to discountenance what was wrong in the doings 
of the anti-slavery agitators. In this course of conduct he had 
often to discriminate between conflicting claims of constitutional 
lights that unquestionably belonged to every citizen of the 
United States, and acts which no citizen had a right to do, or 
which it was in the highest and plainest sense inexpedient to 
allow him to do. In these conflicts, right and wrong became at 
times so mixed and intricate, that it required a resolute and 
clear intellect to separate them, and a lofty courage in meeting 
obloquy and misrepresentation. It was an easy matter, in the 
exciting period of those slavery questions, to impute to a 
Northern man of either of the great political parties of the 
time, a base truckling to the South for his own ambitious pur- 



oqo LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

] loses. After ages must disregard the ephemeral vituperation 
of politics, and must judge the statesmen of the past by the 
situation in which they stood, by the soundness of their 
opinions, by their fidelity to every unquestionable right, by the 
c< >rrectness of their policy, and by the purity of their characters 
and their aims. There has been a passionate disposition in our 
day to judge the public men of the North, who had to act in 
great and peculiar crises of the sectional conflict, and who did 
not give themselves up to a purely sectional spirit, by a standard 
that was inapplicable to their situation, because it was unjust, 
illogical and inconsistent with the highest ideas of public duty in 
the administration of such a Government as ours. 

The anti-slavery agitation, begun in the North at the time 
and carried on in the mode I have described, is to be deplored, 
because of the certainty that sudden emancipation, which was 
alone considered or cared for by the abolitionists, must be 
fraught with great evils. 

In whatever way sudden, universal and unqualified emancipa- 
tion was to be enforced, if it was to happen the negro could not 
be prepared for freedom. He must take his freedom without 
one single aid from the white man to fit him to receive it. Wise 
and thoughtful statesmen saw this — the abolitionist did not see 
it. Men who had passed their lives in the business of legisla- 
tion and government, knew full well, not only that the funda- 
mental political bond of the Union forbade interference by the 
people of the free States with the domestic institutions of the 
slave States, but that emancipation without any training for 
freedom could not be a blessing. Men who had passed their 
lives in an emotional agitation for instant freedom did not see 
or did not care for the inevitable feet, that freedom for which no 
preparation had been made could not be a boon. When the 
emancipation came, it came as an act of force applied in a 
civil war and in the settlements which the Avar was claimed to 
have entailed as necessities. No preparatory legislation, no 
helpful training in morality and virtue, no education, no disci- 
pline of the human being for his new condition, had prepared 
the negro to be a freeman. While, therefore, it may be and 
probably is true, that the whites of our Southern States have 
reason to rejoice, and do rejoice, in the change which they 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 283 

deprecated and against which they straggled, it is not true that 
the colored race have the same reason for thankfulness. The 
Christianity and the philanthropy of this age have before them 
a task that is far mure serious, more weighty and more diffi- 
cult, than it would have been if the emancipation had been a reg- 
ulated process, even it* its final consummation had heen postponed 
for generations. To this day, after twenty years of freedom, 
the church, the press, society and benevolence have to encoun- 
ter such questions as these : — Whether the negro is by nature 
vicious, intractable, thriftless — the women incurably unchaste, 
the men incurably dishonest ; whether the vices and the failings 
that are so deplorable, and apparently so remediless, are to be 
attributed to centuries of slavery, or are taints inherent in the 
blood. Who can doubt that all such questions could have been 
satisfactorily answered, if the Christianity of the South had been 
left to its own time and mode of answering them, and without 
any external force but the force of kindly respectful cooperation 
and forbearing Christian fellowship. 

It is a cause for exultation that slavery no longer exists in the 
broad domain of this Republic — that our theory and our prac- 
tice are now in complete accord. But it is no cause for national 
pride that we did not accomplish this result without the cost of 
a million of precious lives and untold millions of money. 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise during the adminis- 
tration of President Pierce (May, 1854), followed, as it was three 
years afterwards, by a decision of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, that Congress could not constitutionally prohibit 
slavery in a Territory of the States, gave a vast impetus to the 
tendencies which were already bringing about a consolidation 
of most of the elements of the anti-slavery feeling of the North 
into a single political party. "When Mr. Buchanan became the 
nominee of the Democratic party for the Presidency, although 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise had already taken place. 
the decision of the Supreme Court in the celebrated case of 
"Dred Scott" had not occurred,* and consequently the Repub- 
lican party, for this and other reasons, had not acquired suffi- 
cient force to enable it to elect its candidate, General Fremont. 



* This case was decided in March, 1857, just after Mr. Buchanan's inauguration. 



2 3i LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

But during the administration of Mr. Buchanan, the scenes 
which occurred in Kansas and which were direct consequences 
of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, with the added ex- 
citement which followed the announcement by a majority of the 
judges of the Supreme Court of doctrines which the people of 
the North would not accept, there was a field for sectional polit- 
ical action, such as the Union had never before known. So that 
when the Republican party, in the spring of 1860, assembled 
its delegates in convention at Chicago, for the nomination of 
its candidates for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency, 
adopted a " platform " on which no Southern man of any prom- 
inence could place himself, and selected Northern candidates for 
both offices, it was plain that the time had come when there 
was to be a trial of political strength between the two sections 
of the Union. 

The " Chicago platform,-' on which Mr. Lincoln was nomi- 
nated and elected as the candidate of the Republican party, 
while repudiating with great precision the idea that Congress 
could in any way act upon slavery in the States, contained the 
following resolution on the subject of slavery in the Territories 
of the United States : 

" That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that 
of freedom ; that as our republican fathers, when they had abolished slavery 
in all our national territory, ordained that ' no person should be deprived of 
life, liberty, or property without due process of law,' it becomes our duty, by 
legislation, whenever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision 
of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it ; and we deny the author- 
ity of Congress, of a Territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal 
existence to slavery in any Territory of the United States." 

On the motives that dictated the assertion of this doctrine, I 
have no speculations to offer, for I am not dealing with motives. 
That it was a new political doctrine, and that it was a new 
departure in the legislation of Congress on this subject of slavery 
in Territories cannot be doubted. It rejected entirely the prin- 
ciple on which Congress had acted for many years, for there had 
been acts of Congress which had given legal existence to slaveiy 
in a Territory, and acts of Congress which had prohibited it. 
It rejected the principle of the Missouri Compromise, which had 



SUMMARY OF THE SLAVERY QUESTIONS. 285 

sanctioned an agreed division of the Territories into those where 
slavery might not and those where it might be allowed. It 

rejected all claim of right on the part of the Southern slave- 
holder to take his slave property into a Territory and have it 
there recognized as property while the Territorial condition 
remained. It was a reading of the Constitution diametrically 

opposed to the Southern reading. The political men who 
framed this "platform" doubtless considered that the time had 
come tor a direct antagonism between the North and the South 
on this subject, so that it might be decided by the votes of the 
people in a Presidential election, whether the Southern claim 
for recognition of slave property in any Territory of the United 
States, wherever situated, was to prevail or be rejected. That 
such antagonism was the consequence and the purpose of this 
declaration of a new principle of action on this subject will be 
denied by no one. 

It is equally certain that a political party could not come into 
the field in a contest for the Presidency upon such a declara- 
tion, without drawing into the discussion the whole subject of 
slavery as a domestic institution, or a condition of society, both 
in States and Territories. The intention was to draw 7 a well 
defined line between the relations of Congress to slavery in the 
States and the relations of Congress to slavery in the Terri- 
tories. Yet in the excitements of a Presidential canvass, the 
Republican party of necessity gathered into its folds those who 
had been for years regardless of that distinction, and who 
assailed slavery in the regions which were under the legislative 
power of Congress for the purpose of assailing it everywhere. 
The campaign literature, the speeches, the discussions, which 
dwelt on "the irrepressible conflict" between slavery and free- 
dom, and which proclaimed the issue to be whether the United 
States would sooner or later become a shareholding nation or a 
free-labor nation — whether the Northern States were to remain 
free or to become slave States — set forth with great distinctness 
in the writings and the harangues, could have no other effect 
than to array the two sections of the Union in a bitter hostility, 
while in the South there were those who believed, or affected to 
believe, that the people of the North, if successful in electing 
a President upon this basis, would put forth all their efforts to 



28G LIFE OP JAMES BUCHANAN. 

destroy slavery everywhere, as an institution incompatible with 
the continued existence of freedom in the North. All this 
hazard might, however, have been encountered and parried if 
the Democratic party had been in a condition to nominate a 
suitable candidate upon a " platform " fit to be opposed to that 
of the Republicans, and capable of commending itself alike to 
Northern and Southern voters. But when this party assembled 
in convention at Charleston, on the 23d of April, 1800, it was in 
no condition to do any good to the Union or to itself. If Mr. 
Buchanan had been a younger man, and had been disposed to be 
a second time a candidate for the Presidency, he might have 
united his party upon a basis of action in regard to this danger- 
ous matter of slavery in the Territories, that would have com- 
manded the support of a sufficient number of States, Northern 
as well as Southern, to have elected him. But he was averse 
to any longer continuance in public life, and he was well aware 
how much Mr. Douglas had done which had tended to divide 
the Northern and the Southern wings of his party. On the 
14th of April, 1860, he sent to Charleston the following letter, 
which put an end to the idea, so far as it may have been enter- 
tained, of his being regarded as a candidate for the nomination 
by the Democratic National Convention. 

[MR. BUCHANAN TO HON. ARNOLD PLU-MER.] 

Washington City, April 14, 18G0. 
My Dear Sir: — 

I address you not only as a delegate from Pennsylvania to the Charleston 
Democratic National Convention, but as an old and valued friend. Whilst 
trusting that no member of that body will propose my name as a candidate 
for reelection, yet, lest this might possibly prove to be the case, I require you, 
then, immediately to inform the Convention, as an act of justice to myself, 
that in no contingency can I ever again consent to become a candidate for the 
Presidency. My purpose to this effect was clearly indicated both in accepting 
the Cincinnati nomination, and afterwards in my inaugural address, and has 
since been repeated on various occasions, both public and private. In this 
determination neither my judgment nor my inclination has ever for a moment 
wavered. Deeply grateful to the great Democratic party of the country, on 
whose continued ascendancy, as I verily believe, the prosperity and perpetuity 
of our Confederate Republic depend, and praying Heaven that the Convention 



DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION AT CHARLESTON, 1860. 287 

may select as their candidate an able, sound and conservative Democrat, in 
whose support we can all cordially unite. — I remain, very respectfully, your 
friend Jambs Buchanan. 

It is not at all difficult to see what Mr. Buchanan would have 
recommended it* he had been asked to shape the action of his 
party. It is well known thai he held it to be both right and 
expedient to recognize the claim of Southern emigrants into t ho 
Territories to an equal participation in the common domain of 
the Union, so far as to have their property i:i slaves admitted 
during the continuance of the Territorial condition. But he 
would have qualified this claim of right by the application of 
the principle of the Missouri Compromise; that is, by admitting 
it in Territories south of the line of 30° 30', and by excluding it 
in Territories north of that line. This had been the former 
practice of Congress, and there could be no good reason now for 
not expecting the people of the North to make this concession 
to the South, excepting that Mr. Douglas had indoctrinated a 
portion of the Northern Democrats with his panacea of "pop- 
ular sovereignty," which was just as unacceptable to the South 
as the principles of the " Chicago platform." 

Accordingly, when the Democratic Convention assembled at 
Charleston, it soon found itself in an inextricable confusion of 
opinions as to the nature and extent of the powers of a Territo- 
rial legislature, and as to the authority and duties of Congress, 
under the Constitution of the United States, over slavery in the 
Territories. While it was in the power of this Democratic 
Convention to antagonize the Kepublicau party with a platform, 
simple, reasonable and just to all sections, on which the votes 
of all sections could be asked, it became divided into a North- 
ern and a Southern faction, and wholly lost the opportunity of 
appealing to a national spirit of harmony and good-will. The 
Northern faction, inspired by Mr. Douglas, insisted on the 
adoption of his principle of "popular sovereignty,"' which 
ignored the Southern claim of a property right protected by the 
Constitution. The Southern faction insisted on the recognition 
of that right, in a way that ignored the governing authority of 
both Congress and Territorial legislature. 

Without some compromise, there could be no common plat- 



233 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

form and no common candidate. After many ineffectual 
attempts to agree upon a platform, and after some secessions of 
Southern delegates, fifty ballotings for a candidate were carried 
on until the 3d of May. The highest number of votes received 
at any time by Mr. Douglas was 152^, 202 being necessary to a 
nomination. The other votes were scattered among different 
Northern and Southern men. The convention then adjourned, 
to meet at Baltimore on the 18th of June, with a recommenda- 
tion that the party in the several States fill up all vacancies in 
their respective delegations.* The result was that when assem- 
bled at Baltimore, a dispute about the delegations entitled to 
seats ended in a disruption of the convention into two bodies, 
the one distinctly Northern, the other distinctly Southern. The 
Northern Democratic Convention nominated Mr. Douglas as its 
candidate, of course upon his platform of "popular sovereignty.'' 
The Southern Democratic Convention nominated Mr. Breckin- 
ridge as its candidate, upon a platform of coequal rights of all 
the States in all the Territories. Thus perished every hope of 
uniting the Democratic party upon a political basis that would 
antagonize the Republican platform in a sensible manner, and 
afford a reasonable chance of preventing a sectional political 
triumph of the North over the South, or of the free over the 
slave States. f 

* It appears from the following letter, written by General Dix to Mr. Buchanan, after 
the Charleston Convention had adjourned, that the course of the New York delegation in 
that body was not acceptable to their constituents : 

„ „ „ New York, May 9, 1860. 

My Dear Sir :— 

The course of the New York delegation at Charleston has caused great dissatisfaction 
here, and earnest efforts will be made before the meeting at Baltimore to induce a change of 
action on the part of the majority. Mr. Douglas is not the choice of the Democracy of this 
State ; and if he were, we think it most unreasonable to attempt to force on the States 
which must elect the Democratic candidate (if he can be elected), a man they do not want. 
We hope for the best, but not without the deepest concern. 

I took the liberty of sending to you the address of the Democratic General Committee of 
this city, published about three weeks ago. It takes substantially the ground of the majority 
report from the Committee on Resolutions at Charleston, and we think the New York delega- 
tion should have supported them. I believe this is the general feeling in this State. It cer- 
tainly is in this city and the southern counties. I have thought it right to say this to you, 
and to express the hope that the New York delegation will go to Baltimore prepared to sus- 
tain a candidate who will be acceptable to our Southern friends. At all events, no effort will 
be spared to bring about such a result. I am, dear sir, sincerely yours, 

John A. Dix. 

t It should be said that the convention, when assembled at Baltimore, became divided 
into two conventions, in consequence of the withdrawal of the delegations of some of the 



LETTER TO MR. COMSTOCK. 2S9 

Mr. Buchanan, after the two factions of the Democratic party 
had made their nominations, pursued the course which became 
him as an outgoing President. As a citizen, he had to choose 
between Mr. Breckinridge and Mr. Douglas. The former 
represented more nearly the political principles of Mr. Buchanan 
than any other candidate whom he could support, and it was to 
Mr. Breckinridge that he gave all the support, which it was 
proper for him to give to any one. But his views of the whole 
situation are apparent in the following letter, written in July, 
1860 :— 

[MR. BUCHANAN TO C. COMSTOCK.] 

Washington, July 5, 18G0. 
Dear Sir : — 

I have received yours of the 3d inst., and although I do not write letters 
on the subject to which it refers, I have determined to address you a few 
lines. 

The equality of the States in the Territories is a truly Democratic doctrine 
which must eventually prevail. This is all for which I have ever contended. 
The Supreme Court of the United States, — a coordinate branch of the Gov- 
ernment, to which the decision of this question constitutionally belongs, have 
affirmed this equality, and have placed property in slaves upon the same foot- 
ing with all other property. Without self-degradation, the Southern States 
cannot abandon this equality, and hence they are now all in a flame. Non- 
intervention on the part of Congress with slavery in the Territories, unless 
accompanied by non-intervention on the part of the Territorial legislatures, 
amounts to nothing more in effect than to transfer the Wilmot Proviso from 
Congress to these legislatures. Whilst the South cannot surrender their rights 
as coequal States in the confederacy, what injury can it possibly do to the 
Northern States to yield this great Democratic principle ? If they should not 
do this, then we will have the Democratic party divided, South and North, 
just as the Methodist Church has been divided, and another link binding the 
Union together will be broken. No person can fairly contend that either 

most southern of the Southern States, after they found that the friends of Mr. Douglas were 
determined to thrust him upon them as the candidate. It has been said that this was done 
to prevent any nomination, and thereby to prepare the way for a dissolution of the Union. 
It is more reasonable to believe that it was done to prevent the nomination of a particular 
candidate. But if these delegates had remained, Mr. Douglas could not have been nominated, 
and a compromise candidate might have been selected, so as to preserve the unity and 
strength of the party. For this reason, the withdrawal was rash and unwise, for it brought 
into the field a distinctly Southern Democratic candidate, with a distinctly Southern platform. 
Mr. Douglas obtained the electoral vote of no Southern, and Mr. Breckinridge obtained tho 
electoral vote of no Northern State. 

II.— 19 



290 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



assemblage at Baltimore, at the time the nominations were made, was a 
Democratic National Convention ; hence every Democrat is free to choose 
between the two candidates. These are, in brief, my sentiments. I regret 
that they so widely differ from your own. You have taken your own course, 
which you had a perfect right to do, and you will, I know, extend a similar 
privilege to myself. Yours very respectfully, 

James Buchanan. 

The sole part that was taken by President Buchanan, in any 
public manner, in the election of 1860, was in a speech which 
he made from the portico of the "White House, on the evening 
of July 9th, when a great crowd assembled in front of the 
mansion and called him out. In the course of his remarks, he 
said : 

I have ever been the friend of regular nominations. I have never struck a 
political ticket in my life. Now, was there anything done at Baltimore to bind 
the political conscience of any sound Democrat, or to prevent him from sup- 
porting Breckinridge or Lane? ["No! no!"] I was contemporary with 
the abandonment of the old Congressional convention or caucus. This 
occurred a long time ago ; very few, if any, of you remember it. Under the 
old Congressional convention system, no person was admitted to a seat except 
the Democratic members of the Senate and House of Representatives. This 
rule rendered it absolutely certain that the nominee, whoever he might be, 
would be sustained at the election by the Democratic States of the Union. 
By this means it was rendered impossible that those States which could not 
give an electoral vote for the candidate when nominated, should control 
the nomination and dictate to the Democratic States who should be their 
nominee. 

This system was abandoned — whether wisely or not, I shall express no 
opinion. The National Convention was substituted in its stead. All the 
States, whether Democratic or not, were equally to send delegates to this con- 
vention according to the number of their Senators and Representatives in 
Congress. 

A difficulty at once arose which never could have arisen under the Congres- 
sional convention system. If a bare majority of the National Convention thus 
composed could nominate a candidate, he might be nominated mainly by the 
anti-Democratic States against the will of a large majority of the Democratic 
States. Thus the nominating power would be separated from the electing 
power, which could not fail to be destructive to the strength and harmony of 
the Democratic party. 

To obviate this serious difficulty in the organization of a National Conven- 
tion, and at the same time to leave all the States their full vote, the two-thirds 
rule was adopted. It was believed that under this rule no candidate could 



SPEECII AT THE WHITE IIOUSE. 291 

ever be nominated without embracing within the two-thirds the votes of a 
decided majority of the Democratic States. This was the substitute adopted 
to retain, at least in a great degree, the power to the Democratic States which 
they would have lost by abandoning t lie Congressional convention system. 
This rule was a main pillar in the edifice of national conventions. Remove it 
and the whole must become a ruin. This sustaining pillar was broken to 
pieces at Baltimore by the convention which nominated Mr. Douglas. After 
this the body was no longer a national convention ; and no Democrat, how- 
ever devoted to regular nominations, was bound to give the nominee his sup- 
port; he was left free to act according to the dictates of his own judgment 
and conscience. And here, in passing, I may observe that the wisdom of tho 
two-thirds rule is justified by the events passing around us. Had it been 
faithfully observed, no candidate could have been nominated against the will 
and wishes of almost every certain Democratic State in the Union, against 
nearly all the Democratic Senators, and more than three-fourths of the Dem- 
ocratic Representatives in Congress. [Cheers.] 

I purposely avoid entering upon any discussion respecting the exclusion 
from the convention of regularly elected delegates from different Democratic 
States. If the convention which nominated Mr. Douglas was not a regular 
Democratic convention, it must be confessed that Breckinridge is in the same 
condition in that respect. The convention that nominated him, although it 
was composed of nearly all the certain Democratic States, did not contain 
the two-thirds ; and therefore every Democrat is at perfect liberty to vote as 
he thinks proper, without running counter to any regular nomination of the 
party. [Applause and cries of " three cheers for Breckinridge and Lane.''] 
Holdiug this position, I shall present some of the reasons why I prefer Mr. 
Breckinridge to Mr. Douglas. This I shall do without attempting to interfere 
with any individual Democrat or any State Democratic organization holding 
different opinions from myself. The main object of all good Democrats, 
whether belonging to the one or the other wing of our unfortunate division, is 
to defeat the election of the Republican candidates ; and I shall never oppose 
any honest and honorable course calculated to accomplish this object. 

To return to the point from which I have digressed, I am in favor of Mr. 
Breckinridge, because he sanctions and sustains the perfect equality of all the 
States within their common Territories, and the opinion of the Supreme 
Court of the United States, establishing this equality. The sovereign States 
of this Union are one vast partnership. The Territories were acquired by the 
common blood and common treasure of them all. Each State, and each citi- 
zen of each State, has the same right in the Territories as any other State and 
the citizens of any other State possess. Now what is sought for at present is, 
that a portion of these States should turn around to their sister States and 
say, " We are holier than you are, and while we will take our property to the 
Territories and have it protected there, you shall not place your property in 
the same position." That is precisely what is contended for. What the Dem- 
ocratic party maintain, and what is the true principle of Democracy is, that 



ono LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

<v J V 

all shall enjoy the same rights, and that all shall be subject to the same duties. 
Property— this Government was framed for the protection of life, liberty, and 
property. They are the objects for the protection of which all enlightened 
governments were established. But it is sought now to place the property of 
the citizen, under what is called the principle of squatter sovereignty, in the 
power of the Territorial legislature to confiscate it at their will and pleasure. 
That is the principle sought to be established at present; and there seems to 
be an entire mistake and misunderstanding among a portion of the public 
upon this subject. When was property ever submitted to the will of the 
majority? ["Never."] If you hold property as an individual, you hold it 
independent of Congress or of the State legislature, or of the Territorial legis- 
lature it i s yours, and your Constitution was made to protect your private 

property against the assaults of legislative power. [Cheers.] Well, now, any 
set of principles which will deprive you of your property, is against the very 
essence of republican government, and to that extent makes you a slave ; for 
the man who has power over your property to confiscate it, has power over 
your means of subsistence; and yet it is contended, that although the Consti- 
tution of the United States confers no such power— although no State legisla- 
ture has any such power, yet a Territorial legislature, in the remote extremities 
of the country, can confiscate your property ! 

[A Voice. " They can't do it ; they ain't going to do it."] 
There is but one mode, and one alone, to abolish slavery in the Territories. 
That mode is pointed out in the Cincinnati platform, which has been as much 
misrepresented as anything I have ever known. That platform declares that 
a majority of the actual residents in a Territory, whenever their number is 
sufficient to entitle them to admission as a State, possess the power to " form 
a constitution with or without domestic slavery, to be admitted into the 
Union upon terms of perfect equality with the other States." If there be 
squatter sovereignty in this resolution, I have never been able to perceive it. 
If there be any reference in it to a Territorial legislature, it has entirely 
escaped my notice. It presents the clear principle that, at the time the people 
form their constitution, they shall then decide whether they will have slavery 
or not. And yet it has been stated over and over again that, in accepting the 
nomination under that platform, I endorsed the doctrine of squatter sover- 
eignty. I suppose you have all heard this repeated a thousand times. 
[A Voice. u We all knew it was a lie !"] 
Well, I am glad you did. 

How beautifully this plain principle of constitutional law corresponds with 
the best interests of the people ! Under it, emigrants from the North and the 
South, from the East and the West proceed to the Territories. They carry 
with them that property which they suppose will best promote their material 
interests; they live together in peace and harmony. The question of slavery 
will become a foregone conclusion before they have inhabitants enough to 
enter the Union as a State. There will then be no " bleeding Kansas " in the 
Territories ; they will all live together in peace and harmony, promoting the 



SPEECII AT THE WHITE HOUSE. 203 

prosperity of the Territory anil their own prosperity, until the time shall arrive 
when it becomes necessary to frame a constitution. Then the whole question 
will be decided to the general satisfaction. But, upon the opposite principle, 
what will you find in the Territories? Why, there will be strife and contention 
all the time. One Territorial legislature may establish slavery and another 
Territorial legislature may abolish it, and so the struggle will be continued 
throughout the Territorial existence. The people, instead of devoting their 
energies and industry to promote their own prosperity, will be in a state of 
constant strife and turmoil, just as We have witnessed in Kansas. Therefore, 
there is no possible principle that can be so injurious to the best interests of a 
Territory as what has been called squatter sovereignty. 

Now, let me place the subject before you in another point of view. The 
people of the Southern States can never abandon this great principle of State 
equality in the Union without self-degradation. [" Never !''] Never without 
an acknowledgment that they are inferior in this respect to their sister States. 
Whilst it is vital to them to preserve their equality, the Northern States sur- 
render nothing by admitting this principle. In doing this they only yield 
obedience to the Constitution of their country as expounded by the Supreme 
Court of the United States. While for the North it is comparatively a mere 
abstraction, with the South it is a question of co-equal State sovereignty in 
the Union. 

If the decrees of the high tribunal established by the Constitution for the 
very purposes are to be set at naught and disregarded, it will tend to render 
all property of every description insecure. What, then, have the North to 
«do? Merely to say that, as good citizens, they will yield obedience to the 
decision of the Supreme Court, and admit the right of a Southern man to take 
his property into the Territories, and hold it there just as a Northern man may 
do ; and it is to me the most extraordinary thing in the world that this coun- 
try should now be distracted and divided because certain persons at the North 
will not agree that their brethren at the South shall have the same rights in 
the Territories which they enjoy. What would I, as a Pennsylvanian, say or 
do, supposing anybody was to contend that the legislature of any Territory 
could outlaw iron or coal within the Territory ? [Laughter and cheers.] The 
principle is precisely the same. The Supreme Court of the United States have 
decided, — what was known to us all to have been the existing state of affairs 
for fifty years. — that slaves are property. Admit that fact, and you admit 
everything. Then that property in the Territories must be protected precisely 
in the same manner with any other property. If it be not so protected in the 
Territories, the holders of it are degraded before the world. 

We have been told that non-intervention on the part of Congress with 
slavery in the Territories is the true policy. Very well. I most cheerfully 
admit that Congress has no right to pass any law to establish, impair or abolish 
slavery in the Territories. Let this principle of non-intervention be extended 
to the Territorial legislatures, and let it be declared that they in like manner 
have no power to establish, impair or destroy slavery, and then the contro- 



29J: LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

versy is in effect ended. This is all that is required at present, and I verily 
believe all that will ever be required. Hands off by Congress and hands off 
I v the Territorial legislature. [Loud applause.] With the Supreme Court of 
the United States I hold that neither Congress nor the Territorial legislature 
Las any power to establish, impair or abolish slavery in the Territories. But 
it] in the face of this positive prohibition, the Territorial legislature should 
exercise the power of intervening, then this would be a mere transfer of the 
Wilmot proviso and the Buffalo platform from Congress, to be carried into 
execution in the Territories to the destruction of all property in slaves. 
[Renewed applause.] 

An attempt of this kind, if made in Congress, would be resisted by able 
men on the floor of both houses, and probably defeated. Not so in a remote 
Territory. To every new Territory there will be a rush of free-soilers from 
the Northern States. They would elect the first Territorial legislature before 
the people of the South could arrive with their property, and this legislature 
would probably settle forever the question of slavery according to their own 
will. 

And shall we for the sake of squatter sovereignty, which, from its nature, 
can only continue during the brief period of Territorial existence, incur the 
risk of dividing the great Democratic party of the country into two sectional 
parties, the one North and the other South ? Shall this great party which 
has governed the country in peace and war, which has raised it from humble 
beginnings to be one of the most prosperous and powerful nations in the 
world — shall this party be broken up for such a cause ? That is the question. 
The numerous, powerful, pious and respectable Methodist Church has been 
thus divided. The division was a severe shock to the Union. A similar 
division of the great Democratic party, should it continue, would rend asunder 
one of the most powerful links which binds the Union together. 

I entertain no such fearful apprehensions. The present issue is transitory, 
and will speedily pass away. In the nature of things it cannot continue. 
There is but one possible contingency which can endanger the Union, and 
against this all Democrats, whether squatter sovereigns or popular sovereigns, 
will present a united resistance. Should the time ever arrive when Northern 
agitation and fanaticism shall proceed so far as to render the domestic firesides 
of the South insecure, then, and not till then, will the Union be in danger. A 
united Northern Democracy will present a wall of fire against such a catas- 
trophe 1 

There are in our midst numerous persons who predict the dissolution of the 
great Democratic party, and others who contend that it has already been 
dissolved. The wish is father to the thought. It has been heretofore in great 
peril ; but when divided for the moment, it has always closed up its ranks and 
become more powerful, even from defeat. It will never die whilst the Con- 
ion and the Union survive. It will live to protect and defend both. It 
its roots in the very vitals of the Constitution, and, like one of the ancient 
cedars of Lebanon, it will flourish to afford shelter and protection to that 



SOUNDNESS OF MR. BUCHANAN'S VIEWS. 295 

sacred instrument, and to shield it against every storm of faction. [Renewed 
applause.] 

Now, friends and fellow-citizen?, it is probable that this is the last political 
speech that I shall ever make. [A VoiOT. "We hope not!"] It is now nearly 
forty years since I first came to Washington as a member of Congress, and I 
wish to say this night, that during that whole period I have received nothing 
but kindness and attention from your fathers and from yourselves. Washing- 
ton was then comparatively a small town ; now it has grown to be a great 
and beautiful city ; and the first wish of my heart is that its citizens may enjoy 
uninterrupted health and prosperity. I thank you for the kind attention you 
have paid to me, and now bid you all a good-night. [Prolonged cheering.] 

The observations contained in this chapter on the anti-slavery 
agitation have been made because that agitation and its conse- 
quences are great historical facts, necessary to be considered in 
a just appreciation of the conduct of any American statesman 
who acted an important part in national affairs during the 
quarter of a century that preceded the civil war. The detail of 
Mr. Buchanan's course on this subject, down to the time when 
he became President, has been given, and need not be repeated. 

He was one of the earliest of the public men of the North to 
discover and to point out the tendency of this agitation. That 
he denounced it boldly and sincerely cannot be denied, even by 
those who may not have held, or who do not now hold, the 
same opinions concerning the " abolitionists " and their meas- 
ures. He endeavored, at an early period, to keep his own State 
of Pennsylvania free from the adoption of such dogmas as the 
" higher law," and to have its people appreciate the mischiefs 
which the anti-slavery societies were producing in the South. 
It is easy to impute this course to his political relations to the 
Democratic party and to the dictates of his own ambition as 
one of its principal Northern leaders, who, in any future pros- 
pect of political honors beyond those which his own State could 
bestow, might have to look to Southern support. But is there 
no sensible, patriotic, sound and unselfish motive, no honest 
and well grounded conviction, discoverable in what he did and 
said ? If his opinions about this agitation were substantially in 
accordance with those of wise and judicious men, who could not 
have been influenced by party spirit or personal objects, they 
may claim to have been sincere and just, as certainly as they 
may claim to have been courageously uttered. 



296 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



It will not be doubted that when the abolition agitation 
beo-an, there was at least one man in the North, who, from his 
deep and fervid interest in whatever concerned the rights of 
human nature and the welfare of the human race, from his 
generous love of liberty and his philanthropic tendencies, might 
be expected to welcome any rational mode of removing the 
reproach and the evil of slavery from the American name and 
the condition of American society. Such a man was that cele- 
brated New England divine, William Ellery Channing. What 
his feelings were about the slavery that existed in our Southern 
States, all who know anything of his character and his writings 
know full well. His position as a clergyman and his relations 
to the moral and spiritual condition of the age, put out of the 
question the possibility of any political motive, other than that 
broad, high and comprehensive view of public policy which was 
above all the interests of party, and beyond all personal consid- 
erations. If such a man foresaw the dangerous tendencies of 
the abolition agitation, conducted in and from the North, and 
at the same time discovered that the evil of slavery ought to be 
and might be dealt with in a very different spirit and by far 
other means, it is rational to conclude that men in public life 
and in political positions might well place themselves in opposi- 
tion to the spread of such principles and the adoption of such 
methods as those of the anti-slavery societies of the North. It 
was, in truth, the one thing which it was their duty, as states- 
men, to do.* 

* Dr. Channing's attention was first drawn to the Northern anti-slavery agitation in the 
year 183-, and there is nowhere on record a more remarkable prophecy than that which he 
then made of the effect of this agitation upon the people of the South. It is contained in a 
letter which he then wrote to Mr. Wehster, and which has been public ever since the publi- 
cation of Mr. Webster's collected works. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

i860— October. 

GENERAL SCOTT'S " VIEWS." 

"TTTIIILE during the month of October (1SG0) President 
V V Buchanan was anxiously watching the course of public 
events, he was surprised by receiving from General Scott, the 
General-in-chief of the Army, a very extraordinary paper. It 
was written on the 29th of October, from ]STew York, where the 
General had his headquarters, and was mailed to the President 
on the same day. On the 30th the General sent a corrected 
copy to the Secretary of War, with a supplement. These 
papers became known as General Scott's " views." He lent 
copies of them to some of his friends, to be read ; and although 
they did not immediately reach the public press, their contents 
became pretty well known in the South through private chan- 
nels. From them the following facts were apparent : 

First. — That before the Presidential election, General Scott anticipated 
that there would be a secession of one or more of the Southern States, in the 
event of Mr. Lincoln's election ; and that from the general rashness of the 
Southern character, there was danger of a " preliminary " seizure of certain 
Southern forts, which he named. 

Second. — That the secession which General Scott deprecated was one that 
would produce what he called a " gap in the Union ; " that he contemplated, 
as a choice of evils to be embraced instead of a civil war, the allowance of a 
division of the Union into four separate confederacies, having contiguous ter- 
ritory ; and that he confined the use of force, or a resort to force, on the part 
of the Federal Government, to the possible case of the secession of some 
" interior " States, to reestablish the continuity of the Federal territory. This 
he considered might be regarded as a "correlative right," balancing the right 
of secession, which he said might be conceded " in order to save time." 

TniRD. — That his provisional remedy, or preliminary caution, viz : The 
immediate garrisoning of the Southern forts sufficiently to prevent a surprise 
or coup de main, was confined to the possible or probable case of a secession 



298 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

that would make a "gap" in the Union, or break the continuity of the Fed- 
eral territory. He excluded from the scope of his " provisional remedies " the 
secession of Texas, or of all the Atlantic States south of the Potomac, as 
neither would produce a " gap " in the Union. 

Fourth. — That for the application of his " provisional remedies," he had 
at his command but five companies of regular troops, to prevent surprises of 
the nine Southern forts which he named; and that as to ' : regular approaches," 
nothing could be said or done without calling for volunteers. 

Fifth. — That in the meantime the Federal Government should collect its 
revenue outside of the Southern cities, in forts or on board ships of war : and 
that after any State had seceded, there should be no invasion of it, unless it 
should happen to be an " interior " State. 

Sixth. — That the aim of his plan was to gain eight or ten months to 
await measures of conciliation on the part of the North, and the subsidence 
of angry feelings in the South. 

If these " views," palpably impracticable and dangerous, bad 
remained unknown in the hands of the President, there would 
have been no necessity for commenting on them in this work, 
especially as subsequent events rendered them of no impor- 
tance. But they did not remain unknown. They became the 
foundation, at a later period, of a charge that President Bu- 
chanan had been warned by General Scott, before the election 
of Mr. Lincoln, of the danger of leaving the Southern forts 
without sufficient garrisons to prevent surprises, and that he had 
neglected this warning. Moreover, in these " views," the 
Geueral-in-chief of the Army, addressing the President, had 
mingled the strangest political suggestions with military move- 
ments, on the eve of a Presidential election which was about 
to result in a sectional political division. It is therefore neces- 
sary for me to bestow upon these " views " a degree of attention 
which would otherwise be unnecessary. 

These papers were addressed by the General-in-chief of the 
Army of the United States to a President who utterly repudiated 
the alleged right of secession, by any State whatever, whether 
lying between other States remaining loyal, or on the extreme 
boundary of the Union. Becoming known to the Southern 
leaders who might be disposed to carry their States out of the 
Union in the event of Mr. Lincoln's election, they would justify 
the inference that in one case at least, that of a secession which 
did not make a " gap " in the Union, the General-in-chief of the 



GENERAL SCOTT'S "VIEWS." 299 

Federal Army would not draw his sword to compel the inhabi- 
tants of the seceded region to submit to the laws of the 
United States. In regard to the "provisional remedies" which 
the general advised, let it be observed that if the President had 
had at his disposal the whole army of the United States, the 
introduction into the Southern forts of a larger or a smaller 
force, at such a moment, however officially explained, could 
have been regarded in the South only as a proof that President 
Buchanan expected secession to be attempted, and that he was 
preparing for a civil war, to be waged by him or his successor. 
The right of the Federal Government to place its own troops 
in its own forts, without giving offence to any one, was per- 
fectly apparent ; but it was equally apparent that on the eve of 
this election, or during the election, or at any time before any 
State had adopted an ordinance of secession, such a step could 
not have been taken as anything but an indication that the Fed- 
eral Government was preparing to prevent by force the people 
of any State from assembling to consider and act upon their 
relations to the Government of the United States. Now a very 
great part of the popular misapprehension of President Bu- 
chanan's policy, purposes and acts, which has prevailed to the 
present day, has arisen from the total want of discrimination 
between what the Federal Government could and what it could 
not rightfully do, in anticipation of the secession of a State or 
States. It has been a thousand times inconsiderately asked, 
why Mr. Buchanan did not nip secession in the bud. 

In the first place, the Federal Government, however great 
might be the physical force at its command, could at no time 
have done anything more than enforce the execution of its own 
laws and maintain the possession of its own property. To pre- 
vent the people of a State, by any menace of arms, from assem- 
bling in convention to consider anything whatever, would have 
been to act on the assumption that she was about to adopt an 
ordinance of secession, and on the farther assumption that such 
an act must be forestalled, lest it might have some kind of 
validity. The Executive of the United States was not bound, 
and was not at liberty, to act upon such assumptions. There 
were many ways in which a State convention could peacefully 
take into consideration the relations of its people to the Federal 



300 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Union. They might lawfully appeal to the sobriety and good 
feeling of their sister States to redress any grievances of which 
they complained. There might be, we know that in point of 
fact there was, a strong Union party in most of the Southern 
States, and the President of the United States, in the month 
of October, 1860, would have been utterly inexcusable, if he 
had proclaimed to the country that he expected this party to be 
overborne, and had helped to diminish its members and weaken 
its power, by extraordinary garrisons placed in the Southern 
forts, in anticipation of their seizure by lawless individuals, 
when such an exhibition must inevitably lead the whole people 
of the South to believe that there was to be no solution of the 
sectional differences but by a trial of strength in a sectional 
civil war. Mr. Buchanan was far too wise and circumspect a 
statesman to put into the hands of the secessionists such a 
means of " firing the Southern heart," before it was known 
what the result of the Presidential election would be. It was 
his plain and imperative duty not to assume, by any official act, 
at such a time, that there was to be a secession of any State or 
States. 

But, in the second place, even if other good reasons did not 
exist, there were but five companies of regular troops, or four 
hundred men, available for the garrisoning of nine fortifications 
in six highly excited Southern States. How were they to be 
distributed ? Distributed equally, they would have amounted 
to a reinforcement of forty-four men and a fraction in each fort. 
In whatsoever proportions they might be distributed, according 
to the conjectured degree of exposure of the various posts, the 
movement could have been nothing but an invitation of attack, 
which the force would have been entirely inadequate to repel. 
The whole army of the United States then consisted of only 
eighteen thousand men. They were, with the exception of the 
five companies named by General Scott, scattered on the remote 
frontiers and over the great Western plains, engaged in the 
protection of the settlers and the emigrant trains; and for 
this duty their numbers were, and had long been, and have 
ever since been, notoriously inadequate. At a later period, 
after President Buchanan had retired from office, General 
Scott, in a controversy in the public prints which he thought 



GENERAL SCOTT'S "VIEWS." 301 

proper to provoke with the ex-President, referred to six hun- 
dred recruits in the harbor of New York and. at Carlisle 
barracks in Pennsylvania, which, added to the live companies 
mentioned in his "views," would have made a force of one 
thousand men ; and while he admitted that this force would not 
have been sufficient to furnish "war garrisons" for the nine 
Southern forts, he maintained that they would have been quite 
enough to guard against surprises. But it is to be noted thai 
in his " views " of October, 1860, he made known to the Presi- 
dent that there were on/// the five companies, which he named, 
" within reach, to garrison the forts mentioned in the views ; " 
and, moreover, he was mistaken, in November, 1S62, in sup- 
posing that he had obtained these recruits when he wrote his 
" views," nor did he, in October or November, I860, in any 
manner suggest to the President that there were any more than 
the five companies available. Had he made any military repre- 
sentations to the President before the election, other than those 
contained in his " views," it cannot be doubted that they would 
have received all the consideration due to his official position 
and his great military reputation.* 

But General Scott's " views " produced, and ought to have 
produced, no impression upon the mind of the President. That 
part of them which suggested a military movement was 
entirely impracticable. The political part, which related to the 
aspects of secession, its possible admission in one case and its 
denial in another, was of no value whatever to anybody but 
those who believed in the doctrine. With the exception of such 
circulation of these " views " as General Scott permitted by 
giving copies of them to his friends, they remained unpublished 
until the ISth of January, 1861. On that day they were pub- 

* It is a remarkable fact that when President Lincoln was inaugurated, five months after 
General Scott sent his " views " to President Buchanan, and it was feared that the inaugura- 
tion might be interrupted by violence of some kind, he was able to assemble at Washington 
but six hundred and fifty-three men, of the rank and file of the army. This number was 
made up by bringing the sappers and miners from West Point. Yet, down to that period, no 
part of the army, excepting the five companies referred to by General Scott in his " views," 
had been disposed of anywhere but where the presence of a military force was essential to 
the protection of the settlers on the frontiers and the emigrants on the plains. No one could 
have known this better than General Scott, for it was his official duty to know it, and it is 
plain that his "views" were written with a full knowledge of the situation of the whole 
army. 



303 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

lished by General Scott's permission, in the National Intelli- 
,,, nC{ r at Washington, the editors saying that they had obtained 
a copy of them for publication because allusion had been made 
to them both in the public prints and in public speeches. This 
document, therefore, in an authentic shape, was made public 
in the midst of the secession movement, after the States of 
South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama had adopted 
their ordinances of secession, and while the people of Georgia, 
Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas were deliberating upon their 
course.* The President at that time passed over this publica- 
tion in silence, for reasons which he afterwards assigned in the 
public controversy between General Scott and himself in Octo- 
ber and November, 1862. 

And here it may be appropriate, before proceeding farther 
with the narrative, to advert to a suggestion which has been 
again and again repeated in a great variety of forms, by those 
who have criticised Mr. Buchanan's course in regard to the 
reinforcement of the Southern forts. General Scott himself, 
after the election of Mr. Lincoln, in the middle of December, 
1S60, in a note which he addressed to the President, referred 
to the course pursued by President Jackson in regard to nulli- 
fication, in 1832-33 ; and it has long been one of the current 
questions, asked as if it were unanswerable, — why did not Mr. 
Buchanan imitate the firmness, boldness and decision with 
which General Jackson dealt with the " Nullifiers," and pro- 
ceed to garrison the Southern forts before the election of Mr. 
Lincoln ? Having already shown the impracticability of such a 
step, from the want of the necessary forces, and its great politi- 
cal inexpediency even if the necessary force had been within his 
reach, it only remains for me to point out that there was no 
parallel between the situation of things under General Jackson 
in 1832-33, and the state of the country under President 
Buchanan in 1860-61. South Carolina stood alone in her resist- 
ance to the collection of the revenue of the United States, in 
1832-33 ; nor, whatever might be the steps which she would 

* At the time of this publication of General Scott's " views," of the States which seceded 
before the attack on Fort Sumter, four had adopted ordinances of secession, and three 
had not acted. The eighth State, Arkansas, did not act until after Sumter. 



GENERAL SCOTT'S "VIEWS." 303 

have the rashness to take in preventing the execution of a 
single law of the United States within Iter borders, there was 
no danger that any other State would become infected with her 
political heresies, or imitate her example. What General Jack- 
son had to do was to collect the revenue of the United States 
in the port of Charleston. For this purpose, prior to the issue 
of his proclamation, and while the so-called ordinance of nulli- 
fication was pending in the convention of South Carolina, he 
took preliminary steps, by placing in the harbor a sufficient 
military and naval force to insure the execution of a single 
Federal statute, commonly called the "tariff."' For this pur- 
pose he had ample authority of law, under the Act of March 3, 
1S07, which authorized the employment of the land and naval 
forces, when necessary, to execute the laws of the United States 
through the process of the Federal tribunals. He had, more- 
over, the necessary forces practically at his disposal. So far as 
these forces would consist of troops, their proper destination was 
Fort Moultrie in Charleston harbor ; but their presence in that 
fort was deemed necessary, not to prevent an anticipated seizure 
of it by the State authorities, but to aid in the execution of the 
revenue law in case it should be resisted. For this purpose, in 
March, 1S33, he sent a small military force to Fort Moultrie, 
and a sloop of war, with two revenue cutters, to Charleston 
harbor. General Scott was sent to Charleston to take the com- 
mand of these forces, if it should become necessary for them to 
act. He arrived there on the day after the passage of the Nulli- 
fication ordinance. The proclamation of General Jackson, the 
passage of Mr. Clay's Compromise Tariff Bill, and the passage 
of the Force Bill, put an end to any actual collision between 
the State and the Federal authorities. 

How different was the state of the country in 1860, before 
the election of Mr. Lincoln ! A generation of men had grown 
up in the South, many of whom held the supposed right of 
State secession from the Union as a cardinal feature of their 
political and constitutional creed. The sole ground for any 
apprehension of a practical assertion of this doctrine was the 
contingent election of a President nominated upon a "plat- 
form " obnoxious to the people of the slaveholding States. In 
such a state of affairs, was it for a President, whose administra- 



3Q4 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

tion Mas to expire in five months, to adopt the foregone con- 
clusion that the Kepublican candidate would be elected, and 
to add to this the further conclusion that his election would be 
followed by a secession of States, which the people of the North 
would take no conciliatory steps to prevent after the Kepubli- 
can candidate had been elected ? Was President Buchanan to 
throw a military force into the Southern forts, even if he had 
had a sufficient force within his reach, and thus to proclaim to 
the whole people of the South, the loyal and the disloyal, that 
in his judgment there would be but one issue out of the election 
of Mr. Lincoln — an issue of physical force between the two 
sections of the country ? In what condition would this have 
placed his successor, and the great political party which was 
aiming to obtain for that successor the control of the -Govern- 
ment % Surely Mr. Lincoln and his political supporters would 
have had the gravest reason to complain, if Mr. Buchanan, 
before the election, had, by any act of his own not palpably 
and imperatively necessary, caused it to be believed by the 
whole Southern people that there was and could be no alterna- 
tive but to put their anticipated dangers, their alleged griev- 
ances, and the doctrine of secession along with them, at once to 
the arbitrament of the sword. We have it on Mr. Buchanan's 
own solemn assertion, the sincerity of which there can be no 
reason to doubt, that he considered it his highest duty so to 
shape his official course during the remainder of his term, 
as to afford to the secessionists of the South no excuse for 
renouncing their allegiance to the Federal Union, and to hand 
the government over to his successor, whoever he might be, 
without doing a single act that would tend to close the door of 
reconciliation between the two sections of the country, then 
unfortunately divided by the political circumstances of the 
pending election. This was the keynote of his policy, formed 
before the election of Mr. Lincoln, and steadily followed through 
every vicissitude and every changing aspect of the great drama 
enacting before his eyes. It is easy to reason backward from 
what occurred, and to say that he should have garrisoned the 
Southern forts, in anticipation of their seizure. History does 
not, or should not, pass upon the conduct of statesmen in highly 
responsible positions, by pronouncing in this ex post facto 



GENERAL SCOTT'S "VIEWS." 305 

manner on what they ought to have anticipated, when men of 
equally good opportunities for looking forward did not anticipate 

what subsequently occurred. It was not the belief of the leading 
public men in the Republican party, before the election of Mr. 

Lincoln, the men who were likely to be associated with him in 
the Government, that there would be any secession. If they 
had believed it, they would certainly have been guilty of great 
recklessness if they had not acted upon that belief, at least so 
far as to warn the country, in their respective spheres, to be 
prepared for such an event. It is one of the most notorious 
truths in the whole history of that election, that the political 
supporters of Mr. Lincoln scouted the idea that there was any 
danger of secession to he apprehended. 

General Scott's suggestion of such danger to Mr. Buchanan, 
in the month of October, 1860, and the impracticable 
advice which he then gave, if it had been published before the 
election, would have been laughed at by every Republican 
statesman in the country, or would have been indignantly 
treated as a work of supererogation, unnecessarily suggesting 
that the election of the Republican candidate w T as to be followed 
by an attempted disruption of the Union. Undoubtedly, as 
the event proved, the political friends of Mr. Lincoln were too 
confident that no secession would be attempted ; and into that 
extreme confidence they were led by their political policy, which 
did not admit of their allowing the people of the North to be- 
lieve that there could be any serious danger to the country in 
their political triumph. If the people of the North had believed 
in that danger, the Republican candidate would not have been 
elected. It did not become the Republican leaders, therefore, 
after the election, and it never can become any one who 
has inherited their political connection, to blame Mr. Buchanan 
for not taking extraordinary precautions against an event 
which the responsible leaders of the party, prior to the election, 
treated as if it were out of all the bounds of probability.* 

* It will be seen that I do not regard the election of Mr. Lincoln as a defiance of the 
South, nor do I consider that the threats of secession, so far as such threats were uttered in 
the South, had much to do with the success of the Republican candidate. Multitudes of 
men voted for that candidate in no spirit of defiance towards the South, and hi- popular vote 
would have been much smaller than it was, if it had been believed at the North that his 
election would be followed by an attempted disruption of the Union. 

II.— 20 



30( , LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

And hero too, it is well to advert to a charge which relates to 
Mr. Buchanan's administration of the Government prior to the 
clc-tioii of his successor. This charge, to which a large measure 
of popular credence has long been accorded, is, that the Secre- 
tary of War, Mr. Floyd, had for a long time pursued a plan of 
his own for distributing the troops and arms of the United States 
in anticipation of a disruption of the Union at no distant day. 
But such a charge is of course to be tried by a careful examina- 
tion of facts, and by a scrupulous attention to dates. One of 
the most important facts to be considered is, that Secretary 
Floyd, who came in 1857 into Mr. Buchanan's cabinet from 
Virginia — a State that never had, down to that time and for a 
long period thereafter, many secessionists among her public 
men — was n ot of that political school until after he left the 
office of Secretary of War. He was a Unionist, and a pro- 
nounced one, until he chose, as a mere pretext, to say that he 
differed with the President in regard to the policy which, the 
President thought proper to pursue.* But from the fact that he 
became a secessionist and denounced the President, after he left 
the cabinet, and the foolish boast which he made that he had, 
while Secretary of War, defeated General Scott's plans and so- 
licitations respecting the forts, the inference has been drawn 
that he had good reason for advancing that claim upon the con- 
sideration of his new political allies in the Southern section of 
the country. Mr. Floyd by no means appears to me to have 
been a man of scrupulous honor. The fact that he had been 
compelled to resign his place on account of a transaction in no 
way connected with the secession of any State, led him, in a 
spirit of sheer self-glorification, to give countenance to a charge 
which, if it had been true, would not only have reflected great 
discredit on the President, but which would have involved the 
Secretary himself in the heinous offence of treachery to the 
Government whose public servant he was. No man could have 
thus overshot his own mark, who had a careful regard for facts 
which he must have known : for no one could have known 
better than Mr. Floyd that he had no influence whatever in 
defeating any plans which General Scott proposed to the Presi- 

* See post, for the history of Secretary Floyd's resignation. 






GENERAL SCOTT'S "VIEWS." 307 

dent in his " views" of October, 1860, and no one could have 
known better than he that the troops and arms of the CTnited 
States had not been distributed with any Hinder design. Hut 
Mr. Floyd's subsequent vaporing, after he left the cabinet, 
misled General Scott into the belief that there had been great 
wrong committed while he was Secretary of War, and caused 
the General, in October and November, L862, to give his sanc- 
tion to charges that were quite unfounded. 

It is proper to hear Mr. Buchanan himself, in regard to his 
refusal to garrison the Southern forts in October or November, 
L860, according to the recommendations in General Scott's 
* k views." 

This refusal is attributed, v.-ithout the least cause, to the influence of Gov- 
ernor Floyd. All my cabinet must bear me witness that I was the President 
myself, responsible for all the acts of the administration : and certain it is that 
during the last six months previous to the 29th December, 1860, the day on 
which he resigned his office, after my request, he exercised less influence on 
the administration than any other member of the cabinet. Mr. Holt was 
immediately thereafter transferred from the Post Office Department to that of 
War ; so that, from this time until the 4th March, 1861, which was by far the 
most important period of the administration, he [Mr. Holt] performed the 
duties of Secretary of War to my entire satisfaction.* 



* Letter from Mr. Buchanan to the Editors of the National Intelligencer, October 28, 
1862.— If the reader chooses to consult the controversy of 1862 between General Scott and 
Mr. Buchanan, he will find there the sources from which General Scott drew his conclusions. 
One of them was information given to him while the controversy was going on, in a telegram 
from Wr.-hington, sent by a person whose name he did not disclose. A reference to Mr. 
Buchanan's last letter in the controversy will show how he disposed of this " nameless tele- 
gram." The period when the alleged improper transfers of arms into the Southern States 
were eaid to have occurred was, as Mr. Buchanan states, long before the nomination of Mr. 
Lincoln, and nearly a year before his election. General Scott's reply to this shows that in 
L862 be had convinced himself that the revolt of the Southern States had been planned for a 
long time before the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, and that it was to be carried out in the 
event of the election of any Northern man to the Presidency. It had become the fashion 
in 1862, in certain quarters, to believe, or to profess to believe, in this long-standing plot. 
There are several conclusive answers to the suggestion : 1st. It is not true, as a matter of 
fact, that at any time before the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, there were any transfers of arms 
to the South which ought to have led even to the suspicion of the existence of such a plot. 
2d. That it is not true, as a matter of fact, that at any time after Mr. Lincoln's nomination, 
and before his election, there were any transfers of arms whatever from the Northern 
arsenals of the United States into the Southern States. 3d. That after Mr. Lincoln's election, 
viz., in December, 1860, a transfer of ordnance from Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, to Missis- 
sippi and Texas, which had been ordered by Secretary Floyd a few da] - bt fore he left ofllcc, 
was immediately countermanded by his successor, Mr. Holt, by order of the President, and 
the L'im< remained at Pittsburgh. 4th. That the entire political history of the oonntry, prior 
to the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, and prior to the Democratic Convention at Charleston, 
does not afford a rational ground of belief that any considerable section of the Southern 



308 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



Finally, it only remains for me to quote Mr. Buchanan's more 
elaborate account of bis reasons for not acting upon General 

people or any of their prominent political leaders, were looking forward to a state of parties 
which would be likely to result in the election of any Northern man, under circumstances 
thai would produce a conviction among the people of the Southern States that it would be 
unsafe for them to remain in the Union. Even after the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, and 
after the division of the Democratic party into two factions, resulting in the nomination of 
two Democratic candidates (Breckinridge and Douglas), with a fourth candidate in the field 
(Bell), nominated by the "Old Line Whigs," it was not so morally certain that the Eepub- 

, candidate would be elected, as to give rise, before the election, to serious plots or 
preparations for dissolving the Union. Mr. Lincoln obtained but a majority of fifty-seven 
electoral votes over all his competitors. It was the sectional character of his 180 electoral 
votes, out of 303— the whole 180 being drawn from the free States,— and the sectional char- 
acter of the "platform" on which he was nominated and elected, and not the naked fact 
that he was a Northern man, that the secessionists of the cotton States were able to use as 
the lever by which to carry their States out of the Union. Undoubtedly the Southern States 
committed the great folly of refusing to trust in the conservative elements of the North to 
redress any grievances of which the people of the South could justly complain. But I know 
of no tangible proofs that before the nomination of Mr. Lincoln there was any Southern plot 
to break up the Union in the event of the election of any Northern man. The reader must 
follow the precipitation of secession through the events occurring after the election, before 
he can reach a sound conclusion as to the causes and methods by which it was brought about, 
lie will find reason to conclude, if he studies the votes in the seceding conventions of the 
cotton States prior to the attack on Fort Sumter, that even in that region there was a Union 
party which could not have been overborne and trampled down, by any other means than by 
appeals to unfounded fears, which the secession leaders professed to draw from the peculiar 
circumstances of the election. He will find reason to ask himself why it was, in these seces- 
sion conventions, rapidly accomplished between December, 1S60, and February, 1861, the 
Unionists were at last so few, and he will find the most important answer to this inquiry in 
the fact that it was because the advocates of secession, from the circumstances of the elec- 
tion, succeeded in producing the conviction that the whole North was alienated in feeling 
from the South, and was determined to trample upon Southern rights. It is a melanchoiy 
story of perversion, misrepresentation and mistake, operating upon a sensitive and excited 
people. But it does not justify the belief that the secession of those States was the accom- 
plishment of a previous and long-standing plot to destroy the Union ; nor, if such a plot ever 
existed, is there any reason to believe that any member of Mr. Buchanan's cabinet was a 
party to it. General Scott, in 1S02, adopted and gave currency to charges which had no foun- 
dation in fact, and which were originated for the purpose of making Mr. Buchanan odious 
to the country. 

The General, however, went rurther than the adoption of charges originated by 
others. He claimed credit for himself for the discovery and prevention of the " robbery" 
of the Pittsburgh ordnance. In his letter of November 8, 1882, he said : " Accidentally 
learning, early in March (! ), that, under this posthumous order, the shipment of these guns 
had commenced, I communicated the fact to Secretary Holt, acting for Secretary Cameron, 
just in time to defeat the robbery." This was a tissue of absurd misstatements. Copies of 
the official papers relating to this order are before me. The order was given by the Ordnance 
Office on the 22d of December, 1860. The shipment of the guns was never commenced. 
General Scott had nothing to do with the countermand of the order. On the 25th of Decem- 
ber, certain citizens of Pittsburgh telegraphed to the President that great excitement had 
been caused there by this order, and advising that it be immediately revoked. Floyd was 
Secretary of War when the order was given for the removal of the guns, but at that time he 
was not a secessionist, or aiding the secessionists. He tendered his resignation of the office 
on the 29th of December, under circumstances which will be fully related hereafter. It was 
I'tly accepted, and Mr. Holt was appointed Secretary of War ad interim. By the Presi- 
dent's direction, Mr. Holt countermanded the order, and the guns remained at Pittsburgh. 
Judge Black, at the President's request, investigated the whole affair, and made the following 



GENERAL SCOTT'S "VIEWS." 309 

Scott's "views" of October, 1860, which he gave in the 
account of his administration, published in 1866.* 

Such, since the period of Mr. Lincoln's election, having been the condition 
of the Southern States, the ''views" of General Scott, addressed before that 
event to the Secretary of War, on the 29th and 30th October, 1800, were 
calculated to do much injury in misleading the South. From the strange 
inconsistencies they involve, it would be difficult to estimate whether they did 
most harm in encouragiug or in provoking secession. So far as they recom- 
mended a military movement, this, in order to secure success, should have 
been kept secret until the hour had arrived for carrying it into execution. The 
substance of them, however, soon reached the Southern people. Neither the 
headquarters of the army at New York, nor afterwards in Washington, were 
a very secure depository for the " views," even had it been the. author's inten- 
tion to regard them as confidential. That such was not the case may be well 
inferred from their very nature. Not confined to the recommendation of a 
military movement, by far the larger portion of them consists of a political 
disquisition on the existing dangers to the Union ; on the horrors of civil war 
and the best means of averting so great a calamity ; and also on the course 
which their author had resolved to pursue, as a citizen, in the approaching 
Presidential election. These were themes entirely foreign to a military report, 
and equally foreign from the official duties of the Commanding General. 
Furthermore, the "views" were published to the world by the General him- 
self, on the 18th January, 1861, in the National Intelligencer, and this without 
the consent or even previous knowledge of the President. This was done at a 
critical moment in our history, when the cotton States were seceding one after 
the other. The reason assigned by him for this strange violation of official con- 
fidence toward the President, was the necessity for the correction of misappre- 
hensions which had got abroad, " both in the public prints and in public 
speeches," in relation to the "views.'' 

The General commenced his "views" by stating that, "To save time the 
right of secession may be conceded, and instantly balanced by the correlative 
right on the part of the Federal Government against an interior State or 
States to reestablish by force, if necessary, its former continuity of territory.'" 
He subsequently explains and qualifies the meaning of this phrase by saying: 
"It will be seen that the ' views ' only apply to a case of secession that makes 

brief report to the President on the 2Tth: " Mr. President : The enclosed are the two orders 
of the War Department. I suppose the forts happened to be in that state of progress which 
made those guns necessary just at this time, and they were directed to be sent without any 
motive beyond what would have caused the same act at any other time. 

Ever yours, 

J. S. Black. 

* Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion, New York: D. Applcton 
& Co., 1806. This book will hereafter be referred to as " Mr. Buchanan's Defence." The 
history and reasons for this publication will be found in a future chapter. 



o 10 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

a gap in the present Union." The falling off (say) of Texas, or of all the 
Atlantic States, from the Potomac south [the very case which has since 
occurred], was not within the scope of General Scott's provisional remedies. 
As it' apprehending that by possibility it might be inferred he intended to 
employ force for any other purpose than to open the way through this gap to 
a State beyond, still in the Union, he disclaims any such construction, and 
says : " The foregoing views eschew the idea of invading a seceded State." 
This disclaimer is as strong as any language he could employ for the purpose. 

To sustain the limited right to open the way through the gap, he cites, not 
the Constitution of the United States, but the last chapter of Paley's " Moral 
and Political Philosophy," which, however, contains no allusion to the subject. 

The General paints the horrors of civil war in the most gloomy colors, and 
then proposes his alternative for avoiding them. He exclaims: "But break 
this glorious Union by whatever line or lines that political madness may con- 
trive, and there would be no hope of reuniting the fragments except by the 
laceration and despotism of the sword. To effect such result the intestine 
wars of our Mexican neighbors would, in comparison with ours, sink into 
mere child's play. 

" A smaller evil " (in the General's opinion) " would be to allow the frag- 
ments of the great Republic to form themselves into new Confederacies, 
probably four." 

Not satisfied with this general proposition, he proceeds not only to discuss 
and to delineate the proper boundaries for these new Confederacies, but even 
to designate capitals for the three on this side of the Rocky Mountains. We 
quote his own language as follows : " All the lines of demarcation between 
the new unions cannot be accurately drawn in advance, but many of them 
approximately may. Thus, looking to natural boundaries and commercial 
affinities, some of the following frontiers, after many waverings and conflicts, 
might perhaps become acknowledged and fixed ; 

" 1. The Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic. 2. 
From Maryland along the crest of the Alleghauy (perhaps the Blue Ridge) 
range of mountains to some point on the coast of Florida. 3. The line from, 
say the head of the Potomac to the West or Northwest, which it will be most 
cliflicnlt to settle. 4. The crest of the Rocky Mountains." 

" The Southeast Confederacy would, in all human probability, in less than 
five years after the rupture, find itself bounded by the first and second lines 
indicated above, the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, with its capital at, say 
Columbia, South Carolina. The country between the second, third, and fourth 
of those lines would, beyond a doubt, in about the same time, constitute 
another Confederacy, with its capital at probably Alton or Quincy, Illinois. 
Tin: boundaries of the Pacific Union are the most definite of all, and the 
remaining States would constitute the Northeast Confederacy, with its capital 
at Albany. It, at the first thought, will be considered strange that seven slave- 
holding States and part of Virginia and Florida should be placed (above) in a 
new Confederacy with Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc. But when the overwhelm- 



GENERAL SCOTT'S " VIEWS." 311 

ing weight of the great Northwest is taken in connection with the laws of 
trade, contiguity of territory, and the comparative indifference to free soil 
doctrines on the part of Western Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mis- 
souri, it is evident that but little if any coercion, beyond moral force, would be 
needed to embrace them ; and I have omitted the temptation of the unwasted 
public lands which would fall entire to this Confederacy — an appanage (will 
husbanded) sufficient for many generations. As to Missouri, Arkansas, and 
Mississippi, they would not stand out a month. Louisiana would coalesce 
without much solicitation, and Alabama with West Florida would be con- 
quered the first winter, from the absolute need of Pensacola for a naval 
depot." 

According to this arrangement of General Scott, all that would be left for 
" the Northeast Confederacy " would be the New England and Middle States ; 
and our present proud Capitol at Washington, hallowed by so many patriotic 
associations, would be removed to Albany.* 

It is easy to imagine with what power these " views," presented so early 
as October, 1860, may have been employed by the disunion leaders of the 
cotton States to convince the people that they might depart in peace. Pro- 
ceeding from the Commanding General of the army, a citizen and a soldier so 
eminent, and eschewing as they did the idea of invading a seceded State, as 
well as favoring the substitution of new Confederacies for the old Union, Avhat 
danger could they apprehend in the formation of a Southern Confederacy ? 

This portion of the " views," being purely political and prospective, and 
having no connection with military operations, Avas out of time and out of 
place in a report from the commanding General of the Army to the Secretary 
of War. So, also, the expression of his personal preferences among the can- 
didates then before the people for the office of President. " From a sense of 
propriety as a soldier," says the General, " I have taken no part in the pending 
canvass, and, as always heretofore, mean to stay away from the polls. My 
sympathies, however, are with the Bell and Everett ticket." 

After all these preliminaries, we now proceed to a different side of the 
picture presented by the General. 

In the same "views" (the 29th October, 1860), ho says that, "From a 
knowledge of our Southern population, it is my solemn conviction that there is 
some danger of an early act of rashness preliminary to secession, viz., the 
seizure of some or all of the following posts ; Forts Jackson and St. Philip, in 
the Mississippi, below New Orleans, both without garrisons; Fort Morgan, 
below Mobile, without a garrrison ; Forts Pickens and McRea, Pensacola har- 
bor, with an insufficient garrison for one ; Fort Pulaski, below Savannah, with- 
out a garrison; Forts Moultrie and Sumter, Charleston harbor, the former 
with an insufficient garrison, and the latter without any; and Fort Monroe, 

* It is worthy of special remark that General Scott, in his autobiography recently pub- 
lished, vol. ii, p. G09, entirely omits to copy this part of his views on which we have been 
commenting ; so also his supplementary views of the next day, though together they consti- 
tute but one whole. He merely copies that which relates to garrisoning the Southern forts. 



31 2 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Eampton Roads, without a sufficient garrison. In my opinion all these works 
should be immediately so garrisoned as to make any attempt to take any one 
of them by surprise or coup de main ridiculous." 

It was his duty, as commanding general, to accompany this recommenda- 
tion with a practicable plan for garrisoning these forts, stating the number of 
troops necessary for the purpose, the points from which they could be drawn, 
and the manner in which he proposed to conduct the enterprise. Finding 
this to be impossible, from the total inadequacy of the force within the Presi- 
dent's power to accomplish a military operation so extensive, instead of fur- 
nishing such a plan, he absolves himself from the task by simply stating in his 
supplemental views of the next day (30th October) that "There is one (regu- 
lar) company at Boston, one here (at the Narrows), one at Pittsburg, one at 
Augusta, Ga., and one at Baton Rouge — in all five companies, only, within 
reach, to garrison or reenforce the forts mentioned in the ' views.' " 

Five companies only, four hundred men, to garrison nine fortifications scat- 
tered over six highly excited Southern States. This ivas all the force " within 
n ach " so as to make any attempt to take any one of them, by surprise or coup 
de main ridiculous. 

He even disparages the strength of this small force by applying to it the 
diminutive adverb " only" or, in other words, merely, barely. It will not be 
pretended that the President had any power, under the laws, to add to this 
force by calling forth the militia, or accepting the services of volunteers to gar- 
rison these fortifications. And the small regular army were beyond reach on 
our remote frontiers. Indeed, the whole American army, numbering at that 
time not more than sixteen thousand effective men, would have been 
scarcely sufficient. To have attempted to distribute these five companies 
among the eight forts in the cotton States, and Fortress Monroe, in Virginia, 
would have been a confession of weakness, instead of an exhibition of impos- 
ing and overpowering strength. It could have had no effect in preventing 
secession, but must have done much to provoke it. It will be recollected that 
these " views," the substance of which soon reached the Southern States, 
were written before Mr. Lincoln's election, and at a time when none of the 
cotton States had made the first movement toward secession. Even South 
Carolina was then performing all her relative duties, though most reluctantly, 
to the Government, whilst the border States, with Virginia in the first rank, 
were still faithful and true to the Union. 

Under these circumstances, surely General Scott ought not to have 
informed them in advance that the reason why he had recommended this 
expedition was because, from his knowledge of them, he apprehended they 
might be guilty of an early act of rashness in seizing these forts before seces- 
sion. This would necessarily provoke the passions of the Southern people. 
\ irginia was deeply wounded at the imputation against her loyalty from a 
native though long estranged son. 

"N hilst one portion of the " views," as Ave have already seen, might be 
employed by disunion demagogues in convincing the people of the cotton 



GENERAL SCOTT'S " VIEWS." 313 

States that they might secede without serious opposition from the North, 
another portion of them was calculated to excite their indignation and drive 
them to extremities. From the impracticable nature of the "views,'' and 
their strange and inconsistent character, the President dismissed tlicm from 
his mind without further consideration. 

It is proper to inform the reader why General Scott had five companies 
only within reach for the proposed service. This was because nearly the 
whole of our small army was on the remote frontiers, where it had been con- 
tinually employed for years in protecting the inhabitants and the emigrants 
on their way to the far west, against the attacks of hostile Indians. At no 
former period had its services been more necessary than throughout the year 
18G0, from the great number of these Indians continually threatening or 
waging war on our distant settlements. To employ the language of Mr. 
Benjamin Stanton, of Ohio, in his report of the 18th February, 18G1, from 
the military committee to the House of Representatives: "The regular army 
numbers only 18,000 men, when recruited to its maximum strength ; and the 
whole of this force is required upon an extended frontier, for the protection 
of the border settlements against Indian depredations." Indeed, the whole 
of it had proved insufficient for this purpose. This is established by the 
reports of General Scott himself to the War Department. In these he urges 
the necessity of raising more troops, in a striking and convincing light. In 
that of 20th November, 1857,* after portraying the intolerable hardships and 
sufferings of the army engaged in this service, he says : " To mitigate these 
evils, and to enable us to give a reasonable security to our people on Indian 
frontiers, measuring thousands of miles, I respectfully suggest an augmentation 
of at least one regiment of horse (dragoons, cavalry, or riflemen) and at least 
three regiments of foot (infantry or riflemen). This augmentation would not 
more than furnish the reinforcements now greatly needed in Florida, Texas, 
New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington Territory, Kansas, Nebraska, 
and Minnesota, leaving not a company for Utah." 

Again, General Scott, in his report of November 13, 1858, says : t " This 
want of troops to give reasonable security to our citizens in distant settle- 
ments, including emigrants on the plains, can scarcely be too strongly stated ; 
but I will only add, that as often as we have been obliged to withdraw troops 
from one frontier in order to reinforce another, the weakened points have 
been instantly attacked or threatened with formidable invasion." 

The President, feeling the force of such appeals, and urged by the earnest 
entreaties of the suffering people on the frontiers, recommended to Congress, 
through the War Department, to raise five additional regiments.! This, like 
all other recommendations to place the country in a proper state of defence, 
was disregarded. From what has been stated it is manifest that it was 
impossible to garrison the numerous forts of the United States with regular 

* 3 Senate Documents, 1857-'53, p. 48. 

t Senate Executive Documents, 1838-'59, vol. ii., part 3, p. 7C1. 

% Senate Documents, 1S5~-'5S, vol. iii., p. 4. 



gl 4 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

troops. This will account for the destitute condition of the nine forts enumer- 
ated by General Scott, as well as of all the rest. 

When our system of fortifications was planned and carried into execution, 
it was never contemplated to provide garrisons for them in time of peace. 
This would have required a large standing army, against which the American 
people have ever evinced a wise and wholesome jealousy. Every great 
republic, from the days of Ccesar to Cromwell, and from Cromwell to Bona- 
parte, has been destroyed by armies composed of free citizens, who had been 
converted by military discipline into veteran soldiers. Our fortifications, 
therefore, when completed, were generally left in the custody of a sergeant 
and a few soldiers. No fear was entertained that they would ever be seized 
by the States for whose defence against a foreign enemy they had been 
erected. 

Under these circumstances it became the plain duty of the President, desti- 
tute as he was of military force, not only to refrain from any act which might 
provoke or encourage the cotton States into secession, but to smooth the way 
for such a Congressional compromise as had in times past happily averted 
danger from the Union. There was good reason to hope this might still be 
accomplished. The people of the slaveholding States must have known there 
could be no danger of an actual invasion of their constitutional rights over 
slave property from any hostile action of Mr. Lincoln's administration. For 
the protection of these, they could rely both on the judicial and the legislative 
branches of the Government. The Supreme Court had already decided the 
Territorial question in their favor, and it was also ascertained that there would 
be a majority in both Houses of the first Congress of Mr. Lincoln's term, suf- 
ficient to prevent any legislation to their injury. Thus protected, it would be 
madness for them to rush into secession. 

Besides, they were often warned and must have known that by their 
separation from the free States, these very rights over slave property, of which 
they were so jealous, would be in greater jeopardy than they had ever been 
under the Government of the Union. Theirs would then be the only gov- 
ernment in Christendom which had not abolished, or was not in progress to 
abolish, slavery. There would be a strong pressure from abroad against this 
institution. To resist this effectually would require the power and moral 
influence of the Government of the Avhole United States. They ought, also, 
to have foreseen that, if their secession should end in civil war, whatever 
might be the event, slavery would receive a blow from which it could never 
recover. The true policy, even in regard to the safety of their domestic 
institution, was to cling to the Union. 



CHAPTER XV. 

i860 — November. 

ELECTION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN— THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA — 
NATURE OF THE DOCTRINE OF SECESSION — PRESIDENT BUCHANAN 
PREPARES TO ENCOUNTER THE SECESSION MOVEMENT — DISTINCTION 
BETWEEN MAKING WAR ON A STATE AND ENFORCING THE LAWS OF 
THE UNITED STATES. 

ON the Gth of November, 1S60, one hundred and eighty 
Republican electors of President were chosen by the 
people of eighteen of the free states. This determined that 
Abraham Lincoln w T as to be President of the United States for 
four years from the 4th of March, 1SG1. As soon as the result 
of the election was known, the legislature of South Carolina 
passed a law for the assembling of a convention of the people of 
the State on the 17th of December. The delegates to the 
convention were promptly chosen ; and when they had been 
elected, it w r as manifest that the assumed right of secession was 
about to be exercised by that one of the Southern States in 
which attachment to the Union had been for more than thirty 
years confined to a few of the wiser and more considerate of her 
people. The great man wdiose political teachings had indoc- 
trinated a generation with views of the Federal Constitution 
which, when logically carried out, w T ould reduce it to a mere 
league between independent States dissoluble at the pleasure of 
its separate members for causes of which they were separately to 
judge, had passed away. I have already had occasion to observe 
that, while Mr. Calhoun did not at any time contemplate seces- 
sion, and while he was strongly attached to the Union as he 
understood its fundamental principle, his political doctrines, 
assuming the correctness of his premises, led logically and cor- 
rectly to the conclusion that the people of any State could 
absolve themselves from the obligation to obey the laws, and to 
submit to the authority of the United States. He and those 



o 1G LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

who acted with him in South Carolina daring the period of 
" Nullification " proposed to apply this State dispensing power 
to a single obnoxious law of the United States, without breaking 
the whole bond which connected South Carolina with her sister 
States. But it was the inevitable result of his political princi- 
ples that, if a State convention could absolve its people from 
the duty of obeying one law of the United States, by pronoun- 
cing it to be unconstitutional, the same authority could withdraw 
the State wholly from the Union, upon her judgment that to 
remain in it longer was incompatible with her safety or her 
interests. The radical vice of this whole theory was that it 
assumed the cession of political powers of legislation and gov- 
ernment, made by the people of a State w T hen they ratified the 
Constitution of the United States, to be revocable, not by a State 
power or right expressly contained in the instrument, but by a 
riffht resulting from the assumed nature of the Constitution as 
a compact between sovereign States. The Secession Ordinance 
of South Carolina, adopted on the 20th of December, 1860, 
which became the model of all the other similar ordinances, 
exhibits in a striking manner the character of the theory. It 
professed to " repeal " the ordinance of the State which in 1788 
had ratified the Constitution of the United States, and all the 
subsequent acts of the legislature which had ratified the amend- 
ments of that Constitution, and to dissolve the union then sub- 
sisting: between South Carolina and other States under the 
name of the " United States of America." In other words, the 
people of South Carolina, assembled in convention, determined 
that a cession or grant of political sovereignty, which they had 
made to the Government of the United States in 1788, in an 
irrevocable form, and without any reservation save of the 
powers of government wmich they did not grant, could yet be 
revoked and annulled, not by the right of revolution, but by a 
right resulting as a constitutional principle from a compact 
made between sovereign and independent political communities. 
This method of regarding the Government of the United States 
as the depositary of certain powers to be held and exercised so 
long as the sovereign parties to the agreement should see fit 
to allow them to remain, and to be withdrawn wmenever one 
of the parties should determine to withdraw them, constituted 



THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA. 317 

the whole basis of the doctrine of secession. If the premises 
were correct, the deduction was sound. If, on the other hand. 
the cession of certain powers of political sovereignty made l>y 
the people of a State when they ratified the Constitution of the 
United States constituted a Government, with a right to rule 
over the individual inhabitants of that State in the exercise of 
the powers conceded, the individuals could no more absolve 
themselves collectively, than they could separately, from the 
political duty and obligation to obey the laws and submit to the 
authority of that Government, especially when that Govern- 
ment contained within itself, by one of the provisions of its 
Constitution, both the means and the right of determining for 
the people of every State, whether the laws enacted by Congress 
were in conformity with the grants of political power embraced 
in the instrument which created it. The grant of the judicial 
power of the United States estopped the people of every State 
from claiming a right to pass upon the constitutional validity 
of any exercise of its legislative or executive authority. Such 
are the contrasted theories of the Constitution which were now 
to come into collision, after the Constitution had long been 
administered and acted upon as an instrument of government 
embracing a true and rightful sovereignty over the people of 
every State in the exercise of certain enumerated powers. 

It is important to observe, however, that this claim of right- 
ful sovereignty over the inhabitants of every State was not a 
denial of the inherent right of revolution, or the right to re- 
nounce a political allegiance, and to make that right available 
by physical force, in case of intolerable oppression or arbitrary 
assumption of power. The political institutions of this country 
had their origin in the exercise of the right of revolution, and 
however shaped or administered, they can never be made to 
exclude it. It is difficult, in studying the political principles 
on which individuals or masses of men acted, or on which they 
supposed themselves to be acting, during the period at which I 
have now arrived, to discriminate between the right of revolu- 
tion and the right of secession, as distinct principles governing 
their personal conduct. In many minds they became blended ; 
in many there was but little attention paid to any such distinc- 
tion ; in many there was nothing more than a state of excite- 



31S LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

rnent, worked into an uncontrollable apprehension of danger 
which was stimulated by the political leaders of a section pecu- 
liarly exposed to such apprehensions by what had long been 
occurring on the dangerous subject of their social and domestic 
condition. But on the threshold of the secession movement, 
there are certain things to be carefully noted. The first is, 
that in the public proceedings of South Carolina, and of the 
other States which followed her example, it was the alleged 
constitutional right of secession from the Union, and not the 
inherent right of revolution, on which the action was professedly 
based. The second is, that the State of South Carolina led the 
way, in the hope and belief that she might compel the other cot- 
ton States to follow, while it was at least doubtful whether they 
would do so, and while it was manifest that their course would 
depend very much upon events that could not be foreseen. 
This condition of affairs in the months of November and De- 
cember imposed upon President Buchanan two imperative 
duties. In the first place, he had to encounter the alleged right 
of secession asserted, or about to be asserted, by the State of 
South Carolina ; to meet her public proceedings by a denial of 
any such right, and to exercise all the powers with which he 
then was, or with which he might thereafter be, clothed by 
Congress, to prevent any obstruction to the execution of the 
laws of the United States within her borders. In the next 
place, he had, so far as the Executive of the United States could 
so act, to isolate the State of South Carolina from the other 
States of that region, and to prevent, if possible, the spread of 
the secession movement. What he might be able to do in this 
regard would depend, of course, upon future events, and upon a 
careful adaptation of his means to his ends. If, notwithstand- 
ing all he could do, the fury of secession was to rapidly sweep 
through the cotton States, he could not prevent the formation 
of some kind of Southern confederacy. But the very first duty 
which he had to perform he proceeded promptly to execute, as 
soon as it was apparent that South Carolina was about to adopt 
an ordinance of secession. This was to encounter publicly and 
officially the alleged right of secession, to define clearly and 
explicitly to Congress and to the country the powers which he 
possessed, or did not possess, for meeting this exigency ; and to 



THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA. 310 

announce his policy. By so doing, lie might prevent the spiv,«] 
of the secession movement, it' Congress would aid him by 
adopting his recommendations. Preparatory to what he was 
about to say in his annual message to the Congress which was 
to assemble in the early part of December, he required from 
the Attorney General (Mr. Black) an official answer to the fol- 
lowing questions :* 

1 . la case of a conflict between the authorities of any State and those of 
the United States, can there be any doubt that the laws of the Federal Gov- 
ernment, if constitutionally passed, arc supreme ? 

2. What is the extent of my official power to collect the duties on imports 
at a port where the revenue laws are resisted by a force which drives the 
collector from the custom house ? 

3. What right have I to defend the public property (for instance, a fort, 
arsenal and navy yard), in case it should be assaulted ? 

4. "What are the legal means at my disposal for executing those laws of the 
United States which are usually administered through the courts and their 
officers ? 

5. Can a military force be used for any purpose whatever under the Acts 
of 1795 and 1807, within the limits of a State where there are no judges, 
marshal or other civil officers? 

[opinion of the attorney general.] 

Attorney General's Office, November 20, 1860. 
Sir:— 

I have had the honor to receive your note of the 17th, and I now reply to 
the grave questions therein propounded as fully as the time allowed me will 
permit. 

Within their respective spheres of action, the Federal Government and the 
government of a State, are both of them independent and supreme, but each 
is utterly powerless beyond the limits assigned to it by the Constitution. If 
Con°ress would attempt to change the law of descents, to make a new rule of 
personal succession, or to dissolve the family relations existing in any State, 
the act would be simply void; but not more void than would be a State law 
to prevent the recapture of fugitives from labor, to forbid the carrying of the 
mails, or to stop the collection of duties on imports. The will of a State, 
whether expressed in its constitution or laws, cannot, while it remains in the 
Confederacy, absolve her people from the duty of obeying the just and consti- 
tutional requirements of the Central Government. Nor can any act of the 



* The President'* letter to the Attorney General, requiring his opinion on these ques- 
tions, bears date on the 17th of November, I860. 



300 LIFE OF JAMES EUCHANAN. 

Central Government displace the jurisdiction of a State ; because the laws of 
the United States are supreme and binding only so far as they are passed in 
pursuance of the Constitution. I do not say what might be effected by mere 
revolutionary force. I am speaking of legal and constitutional right. 

This is the view always taken by the judiciary, and so universally adopted 
that the statement of it may seem commonplace. The Supreme Court of the 
United States has declared it in many cases. I need only refer you to the 
United States vs. Booth, where the present Chief Justice, expressing the unani- 
mous opinion of himself and all his brethren, enunciated the doctrine in terms 
so clear and full that any further demonstration of it can scarcely be required. 

The duty which these principles devolve, not only upon every officer, but 
every citizen, is that which Mr. Jefferson expressed so compendiously in his first 
inaugural, namely : — " to support the State Governments in all their rights as 
the most competent administrations for their domestic concerns, and the surest 
bulwarks against anti-repubhcan tendencies," combined with "the preserva- 
tion of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor as the sheet 
anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad." 

To the Chief Executive Magistrate of the Union is confided the solemn 
duty of seeing the laws faithfully executed. That he may be able to meet 
this duty with a power equal to its performance, he nominates his own sub- 
ordinates, and removes them at his pleasure. For the same reason, the land 
and naval forces are under his orders as their commander-in-chief. But his 
power is to be used only in the manner prescribed by the legislative depart- 
ment. He cannot accomplish a legal purpose by illegal means, or break the 
laws himself to prevent them from being violated by others. 

The acts of Congress sometimes give the President a broad discretion in 
the use of the means by which they are to be executed, and sometimes limit 
his power so that he can exercise it only in a certain prescribed manner. 
Where the law directs a thing to be done without saying how, that implies 
the power to use such means as may be necessary and proper to accomplish 
the end of the legislature. But where the mode of performing a duty is 
pointed out by statute, that is the exclusive mode, and no other can be fol- 
lowed. The United States have no common law to fall back upon when the 
written law is defective. If, therefore, an act of Congress declares that a 
certain thing shall be done by a particular officer, it cannot be done by a 
different officer. The agency which the law furnishes for its own execution 
must be used to the exclusion of all others. For instance, the revenues of the 
United States are to be collected in a certain way, at certain established ports, 
and by a certain class of officers ; the President has no authority, under any 
circumstances, to collect the same revenues at other places by a different sort 
of officers, or in ways not provided for. Even if the machinery furnished by 
Congress for the collection of the duties should by any cause become so 
deranged or broken up that it could not be used, that would not be a legal 
reason for substituting a different kind of machinery in its place. 

The law requires that all goods imported into the United States within 



THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA. 3^ 

certain collection districts shall be entered at the proper port, and the duty 
thereon shall be received by the collector appointed for and residing at that 
port. But the functions of the collector may be exercised anywhere at or 
within the port. There is no law which confines him to the custom-house, 
or to any other particular spot. If the custom-house were bnmt down, he 
might remove to another building; if he were driven from the shore, he might 
go on board a vessel in the harbor. If he keeps within the port, he is within 
the law. 

A port is a place to which merchandise is imported, and from whence it is 
exported. It is created by law. It is not merely a harbor or haven, for it 
may be established where there is nothing but an open roadstead, or on the 
shore of a navigable river, or at any other place where vessels may arrive and 
discharge, or take in their cargoes. It comprehends the city or town which 
is occupied by the mariners, merchants, and others who are engaged in the 
business of importing and exporting goods, navigating the ships and furnishing 
them with provisions. It includes, also, so much of the water adjacent to the 
city as is usually occupied by vessels discharging or receiving their cargoes or 
lying at anchor and waiting for that purpose. 

The first section of the act of March 2, 1833, authorized the President in 
a certain contingency to direct that the custom-house for any collection dis- 
trict be established and kept in any secure place within some port or harbor 
of such district, either upon land or on board any vessel. But this provision 
was temporary, and expired at the end of the session of Congress next after- 
wards. It conferred upon the Executive a right to remove the site of a 
custom-house not merely to any secure place within the legally established 
port of entry for the district — that right he had before — but it widened his 
authority so as to allow the removal of it to any port or harbor within the 
whole district. The enactment of that law, and the limitation of it to a certain 
period of time now passed, is not, therefore, an argument against the opinion 
above expressed, that you can now, if necessary, order the duties to be col- 
lected on board a vessel inside of any established port of entry. Whether the 
first and fifth sections of the act of 1833, both of which were made tempor- 
ary by the eighth section, should be reenacted, is a question for the legislative 
department. 

Your right to take such measures as may seem to be necessary for the pro- 
tection of the public property is very clear. It results from the proprietary 
rights of the Government as owner of the forts, arsenals, magazines, dock- 
yards, navy-yards, custom-houses, public ships, and other property which the 
United States havo bought, built, and paid for. Besides, the Government of 
the United States is authorized by the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 8) to " exer- 
cise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever .... over all places 
purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same 
shall be for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock -yards, and other 
needful buildings." It is believed that no important public building has been 
bought or erected on ground where the legislature of the State in which it is, 
II.— 21 



302 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

has not passed a law consenting to the purchase of it, and ceding the exclusive 
jurisdiction. This Government, then, is not only the owner of those build- 
ings and grounds, but, by virtue of the supreme and paramount law, it regu- 
lates the action and punishes the offences of all who are within them. If any 
one of an owner's rights is plainer than another it is that of keeping exclusive 
possession and repelling intrusion. The right of defending the public property 
includes also the right of recapture after it has been unlawfully taken by 
another. President Jefferson held the opinion, and acted upon it, that he 
could order a military force to take possession of any land to which the United 
States had title, though they had never occupied it before, though a private 
party claimed and held it, and though it was not then needed nor proposed to 
be used for any purpose connected with the operations of the Government. 
This may have been a stretch of Executive power, but the right of retaking 
public property in which the Government has been carrying on its lawful 
business, and from which its officers have been unlawfully thrust out, cannot 
well be doubted, and when it was exercised at Harper's Ferry, in October, 
1S59, everyone acknowledged the legal justice of it. 

I come now to the point in your letter, which is probably of the greatest 
practical importance. By the act of 1807, you may employ such parts of the 
land and naval forces as you may judge necessary for the purpose of causing 
the laws to be duly executed, in all cases where it is lawful to use the militia 
for the same purpose. By the act of 1795 the militia may be called forth 
" whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution 
thereof obstructed in any State by combinations too powerful to be suppressed 
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the power vested in the 
marshals." This imposes upon the President the sole responsibility of deciding 
whether the exigency has arisen which requires the use of military force ; and 
in proportion to the magnitude of that responsibility will be his care not to 
overstep the limits of his legal and just authority. 

The laws referred to in the act of 1795 are manifestly those which are 
administered by the judges, and executed by the ministerial officers of the 
courts for the punishment of crime against the United States, for the protection 
of rights claimed under the Federal Constitution and laws, and for the enforce- 
ment of such obligations as come within the cognizance of the Federal Judi- 
ciary. To compel obedience to these laws, the courts have authority to punish 
all who obstruct their regular administration, and the marshals and their 
deputies have the same powers as sheriffs and their deputies in the several 
States in executing the laws of the States. These are the ordinary means 
provided for the execution of the laws; and the whole spirit of our system is 
opposed to the employment of any other except in cases of extreme necessity 
arising out of great and unusual combinations against them. Their agency 
must continue to be used until their incapacity to cope with the power opposed 
to them shall be plainly demonstrated. It is only upon clear evidence to that 
effect that a military force can be called into the field. Even then its opera- 
tions must be purely defensive. It can suppress only such combinations as are 



THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA. 3^3 

found directly opposing ihe laws and obstructing the execution thereof. It 
can do no more than what might and ought to be done by a civil posse, if a 
civil posse could be raised large enough to meet the Bame opposition. On 

such occasion?, especially, the military power must be kept in strict subordina- 
tion to the civil authority, since it is only in aid of the latter that the former 
can act at all. 

But what if the feeling in any Slate against the United States should 
become so universal that the Federal officers, themselves (including judges, 
district attorneys and marshals) would lie reached by the same influences, and 
resign their places? Of course, the first step would be to appoint others in 
their stead, if others could be got to serve. But in such an event, it is more 
than probable that great difficulty would be found in filling the offices. We 
can easily conceive how it might become altogether impossible. We are 
therefore obliged to consider what can be done in case we have no courts to 
issue judicial process, and no ministerial officers to execute it. In that event, 
troops would certainly be out of place, and their use wholly illegal. If they 
are sent to aid the courts and marshals, there must be courts and marshals to 
be aided. Without the exercise of those functions which belong exclusively 
to the civil service, the laws cannot be executed in any event, no matter what 
may be the physical strength which the Government has at its command. 
Under such circumstances, to send a military force into any State, with orders 
to act against the people, would be simply making war upon them. 

The existing laws put and keep the Federal Government strictly on the 
defensive. You can use force only to repel an assault on the public property 
and aid the courts in the performance of their duty. If the means given you 
to collect the revenue and execute the other laws be insufficient for that pur- 
pose, Congress may extend and make them more effectual to those ends. 

If one of the States should declare her independence, your action cannot 
depend upon the rightfulness of the cause upon which such declaration is 
based. Whether the retirement of the State from the Union be the exercise 
of a right reserved in the Constitution, or a revolutionary movement, it is cer- 
tain that you have not in either case the authority to recognize her indepen- 
dence or to absolve her from her Federal obligations. Congress, or the other 
States in convention assembled, must take such measures as may be necessary 
and proper. In such an event, I see no course for you but to go straight 
onward in the path you have hitherto trodden — that is, execute the laws to 
the extent of the defensive means placed in your hands, and act generally 
upon the assumption that the present constitutional relations between the 
States and the Federal Government continue to exist, until a new code of 
things shall be established either by law or force. 

Whether Congress has the constitutional right to make war against one or 
more States, and require the Executive of the Federal Government to carry 
it on by means of force to be drawn from the other States, is a question for 
Congress itself to consider. It must be admitted that no such power is 
expressly given ; nor are there any words in the Constitution which imply it. 



...,, LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Anion «• the powers enumerated in Article 1st, Section 8, is that " to declare 
war "rant letters of marque and reprisal, and to make rules concerning cap- 
tures on land and water." This certainly means nothing more than the power 
to commence and carry on hostilities against the foreign enemies of the nation. 
Another clause in the same section gives Congress the power " to provide for 
calling forth the militia," and to use them within the limits of the State. But 
this power is so restricted by the words which immediately follow that it can 
be exercised only for one of the following purposes : 1. To execute the laws 
of the Union ; that is, to aid the Federal officers in the performance of their 
regular duties. 2. To suppress insurrections against the State ; but this is 
confined by Article IV, Section 4, to cases in which the State herself shall 
apply for assistance against her own people. 3. To repel the invasion of a 
State by enemies who come from abroad to assail her in her own territory. 
All these provisions are made to protect the States, not to authorize an attack 
by one part of the country upon another ; to preserve the peace, and not to 
plunge them into civil war. Our forefathers do not seem to have thought that 
war was calculated " to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure 
domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general 
welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." 
There was undoubtedly a strong and universal conviction among the men who 
framed and ratified the Constitution, that military force would not only be 
useless, but pernicious, as a means of holding the States together. 

If it be true that war cannot be declared, nor a system of general hostilities 
carried on by the Central Government against a State, then it seems to follow 
that an attempt to do so would be ipso facto an expulsion of such State from 
the Union. Being treated as an alien and an enemy, she would be compelled 
to act accordingly. And if Congress shall break up the present Union by 
unconstitutionally putting strife and enmity and armed hostility between 
different sections of the country, instead of the domestic tranquility which the 
Constitution was meant to insure, will not all the States be absolved from 
their Federal obligations? Is any portion of the people bound to contribute 
their money or their blood to carry on a contest like that ? 

The right of the General Government to preserve itself in its whole consti- 
tutional vigor by repelling a direct and positive aggression upon its property 
or its officers cannot be denied. But this is a totally different thing from an 
offensive war to punish the people for the political misdeeds of their State 
government, or to enforce an acknowledgment that the Government of the 
United States is supreme. The States are colleagues of one another, and if 
some of them shall conquer the rest, and hold them as subjugated provinces, it 
Avould totally destroy the whole theory upon which they are now connected. 

If this view of the subject be correct, as I think it is, then the Union must 
utterly perish at the moment when Congress shall arm one part of the people 
against another for any purpose beyond that of merely protecting the General 
Government in the exercise of its proper constitutional functions. 

I am, very respectfully, yours, etc., J. S. Black. 



ENCOUNTERING THE SECESSION MOVEMENT. 305 

The soundness of Mr. Black's answers to the questions stated 
by the President does not admit of a doubt. Those who have 
assailed him and the President who acted upon his official ad- 
vice, have done so with very little regard to the supreme law 

of the land. They have not perceived the path in which the 
President had to move in the coming emergency, and they have 
overlooked the imperative obligation which rested upon him 
not to assume powers with which he bad not been clothed by 
the Constitution and the laws. However certain it was that 
South Carolina would undertake to place herself out of the pale 
of the Union, no coercion could have been applied to her in her 
political capacity as a State, to prevent her from taking that 
step, without instantly bringing to her side every other State 
whose sympathies were with her on the subject of slavery, how- 
ever they might hesitate in regard to secession as a remedy 
against the apprehensions which were common, more or less, to 
the people of the whole slaveholding section. Even if the 
President had not been restrained by this consideration, he had 
no constitutional power to declare, no authority to prosecute, 
and no right to institute a war against a State. He could do 
nothing but to execute the laws of the United States within the 
limits of South Carolina, in case she should secede, by such 
means as the existing laws had placed in his hands, or such fur- 
ther means as the Congress which was about to assemble might 
see lit to give him, and to maintain the possession of the public 
property of the United States within the limits of that State. 
What the existing means w T ere, for either of those purposes, was 
clearly pointed out by his official adviser, the Attorney General. 
For the execution of the laws, these means might wholly fail 
him, if the Federal civil officers in South Carolina should re- 
nounce their offices and others could not be procured to take 
their places. For maintaining possession of the public property 
of the United States, he had to act wholly upon the defensive, 
and at the same time he had no power to call for volunteers for 
this purpose, and no military force within his reach but the live 
companies of regular troops referred to by General Scott in his 
"views" presented on the 30th of October, and the naval forces 
at his command. No part of the army could be withdrawn 
from the frontiers without leaving the settlers and the emigrants 



3 og LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

exposed to the ravages of the Indians, even if the gravest rea- 
sons of public policy had not forbidden such movements before 
Congress could take into consideration the whole of the unpre- 
cedented and abnormal state of the Union. 

There is one part of Mr. Black's opinion on which it is proper 
to make some observations here, because it has a prospective 
bearingupon the basis on which the civil war is to be considered 
to have been subsequently prosecuted. It is not of much 
moment to inquire how individual statesmen, or publicists, or 
political parties, when the war had begun and was raging, re- 
garded its legal basis ; but it is of moment, in reference to the 
correctness of the doctrine acted upon by President Buchanan 
during the last four months of his administration, to consider 
what was the true basis of that subsequent war under the Consti- 
tution of the United States. The reader has seen that Mr. Black, 
in his official opinion, not only rejected the idea that the Presi- 
dent could constitutionally make war upon a State of his own 
volition, but that he did not admit that the power to do so was 
expressly or implicitly given to Congress by the Constitution. 
"What then did the Attorney General mean by instituting or 
carrying on war against one or more States ? It is obvious, 
first, that he meant offensive war, waged against a State as if 
it were a foreign nation, to be carried on to the usual results of 
conquest and subjugation ; second, that he fully admitted and 
maintained the right of the Federal Government to use a mili- 
tary force to suppress all obstructions to the execution of the 
laws of the United States throughout the Union, and to main- 
tain the possession of its public property. This distinction was 
from the first, and always remained, of the utmost importance. 
It became entirely consistent with the recognition, for the time 
being, of a condition of territorial civil war, carried on by the 
lawful Government of the Union to suppress any and all mili- 
tary organizations arrayed against the exercise of its lawful 
authority ; consistent with the concession of the belligerent char- 
acter to the Confederate government as a de facto power having 
under its control the resources and the territory of numerous 
States ; consistent also with the denial to that government of 
any character as a power de jure; and alike consistent with a 
purpose to suppress and destroy it. So far as the war subse- 



ENCOUNTERING THE SECESSION MOVEMENT. 327 

quently waged was carried on upon this basis, it was carried on 
within the limits of the Constitution, and by the strictest con- 
stitutional right. So far as it was carried on upon any other 
basis, or made to result in anything more than the suppression 
of all unlawful obstructions to the exercise of the Federal au- 
thority throughout the Union, it was a war waged outside of 
the Constitution, ami for objects that were not within the range 
of the, powers bestowed by the Constitution on the Federal 
Government. In a word, the Federal Government had ample 
power under the Constitution to suppress and destroy the Con- 
federate government and all its military array, from whatever 
sources that government or its military means were derived, 
but it had no constitutional authority to destroy a State, or to 
make war upon its unarmed population, as it would have under 
the principles of public law to destroy the political autonomy 
of a foreign nation with which it might be at war, or to promote 
hostilities against its people. 

Doubtless, as will be seen hereafter when I come to speak of 
that part of the President's message which related to this topic 
of making war upon a State, the language made use of was 
capable of misconstruction, and certain it is that it was made 
the subject of abundant cavil, by those who did not wish that 
the President should be rightly understood ; as it was also 
made a subject of criticism by the Attorney General when the 
message was submitted to the cabinet. The language chosen 
by the President to express his opinion on the nature and kind 
of power which he believed that the Constitution had not dele- 
gated to Congress, described it as a "power to coerce a State 
into submission which is attempting to withdraw, or has actu- 
ally withdrawn from the Confederacy." This was in substance 
a description of the same power which the framers of the Con- 
stitution had expressly rejected. It was before the Convention 
of 1787 in the shape of a clause " authorizing an exertion of the 
force of the whole against a delinquent State," which Mr. Madi- 
son opposed as " the use of force against a State," and which 
he said would look more like a declaration of war than an inflic- 
tion of punishment, and would probably be considered by the 
party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by 
which it might be bound. On another occasion, Mr. Madison 



.305 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

said that " any government for the United States, formed on 
the supposed practicability of using force against the unconsti- 
tutional proceedings of the States, would prove as visionary and 
fallacious as the government of the [old] Congress." When, 
therefore, after the rejection of the idea of using force to re- 
strain a State from adopting an unconstitutional proceeding, the 
trainers of the Constitution proceeded to create a government 
endowed with legislative, judicial and executive power aver the 
individual inhabitants of a State, and authorized it to use the 
militia to execute the laws of the Union, they made and left 
upon our constitutional history and jurisprudence a clear distinc- 
tion between coercing a State, in its sovereign and political 
character, to remain in the Union, and coercing individuals to 
obey the laws of the Union. Mr. Buchanan might then reason- 
ably assume, that a distinction thus clearly graven upon the 
constitutional records of the country would be known and 
recognized by all men ; and although the expression to " coerce 
a State by force of arms to remain in the Union," might, if 
severed from the accompanying explanation of its meaning, be 
regarded as ambiguous, it will be found hereafter that it was 
not. so used as to justify the inference that if a State were to 
undertake to secede from the Union, the President would dis- 
claim or surrender the power to execute the laws of the Union 
within her borders. It will be found also, by adverting to the 
Attorney General's answers to the President's questions, that 
there was in truth no real difference of opinion between them 
on this subject.* 

* Mr. Jefferson Davis, who represents, with as much logical consistency as any one, the 
whole of the doctrine or theory of secession, has always maintained that the distinction 
between coercing a State, and coercing the individual inhabitants of that State to submit to 
the laws of the United States, is no distinction at all : that the people of the State are the 
State ; and that to use a military force to execute the laws of the United States upon individ- 
uals, within the limits of a State that has seceded from the Union, is to make war upon the 
State. (See his speech in the Senate, January 10, 1861, and his recent work on the Else and 
Fall of the Confederate Government. Indes, verb. "Secession.'") Let us, for a moment, 
inquire whether Buchanan's distinction was answered " by reason of its very absurdity." 
1. The States, in their corporate and political capacity, are not the subjects or objects of 
Federal legislation. The legislative powers of the Federal Constitution are not intended to 
be exercised over States, but they are intended to be exercised over individuals. An act of 
Congri :sa never commands a State to do anything; it commands private individuals to do a 
great many things. The States arc prohibited by the Constitution from doing certain things, 
but these prohibitions execute themselves through the action of the judicial power upon 
persons. No State can he acted upon by the judicial power at the instance of the United 
States. Every inhabitant of a State can be acted upon by the judicial power, in regard to 



ENCOUNTERING THE SECESSION MOVEMENT. 309 

anything that la within the scope of the legislative powers of the Constitution. 3. The 

coercion of individuals to obey the law- ot the 1'nitcd State- Constitutes the great dill' ri Di 

between oar present Constitution and the Articles of Confederation. '■'. The righl to use 
force to execute the laws of the United States, hy removing all obstructions to their 1 ect 
tion, not only results from the power to legislate on the particular Bubject, but it is expressly 
recognized by the Constitution. The character of that force and the modes in which it may 

be employed, depend both on direct constitutions] jiro\ i-inn. and on the legislative author- 
ity over all the people of the United state- in respect to certain subjects and relations. All 
this willbe conceded to bo true, so long as a Statu remain- in the L'nion. Does it cease to 
be true, when a State interposes her sovereign wdl, and Bays that the law- of the I I 111 i 
States shall not he executed within her limits, because -he has withdrawn the powers w bich 
she deposited with the General Government! What does this make, hat a new en e oi 
obstruction to the execution of the Federal laws, to be removed by acting on the Indtt [duals 
through whom the obstruction is practically tried 'I And if, in the removal of the obstruc- 
tion, the use of military power becomes necessary, is war made upon the State? It i- uol 
unless we go the whole length of saying that the Interposition of the sovereign will of the 
State Ipso/OCiO makes her an independent power, erects her into a foreign nation, and makes 
her capable of being dealt with as one enemy is dealt with by another. To deny the right of 
the United States to execute its laws, notwithstanding what is called the secession of a Slate, 
is to impale ones self upon the other horn of the dilemma: for if that right docs not exist, 
it must be because the State has become absolutely free and independent of the United 
States, and may be made a party to an international war. Mr. Buchanan saw and constantly 
and consistently acted upon ttie true distinction between making war upon a State, and 
enforcing the laws of the United States upon the inhabitants of a State. 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

i860 — December. 

THE PRESIDENT'S ANNUAL MESSAGE OP DECEMBER 3, 18C0. 

THE Constitution makes it the duty of the President, from 
time to time, to give to the Congress information of the 
state of the Union, and to recommend to their consideration 
such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. Cus- 
tom has made the commencement of each session of Congress a 
regular occasion for the discharge of this duty, and has also 
established the propriety of performing it at other times, when- 
ever the President deems it necessary. It was the purpose of 
this provision of the Constitution to make the President a spe- 
cial guardian of the interests of the Union, by making him the 
official witness of its condition to the legislative department, 
and by giving to his recommendation of measures a high claim 
upon its consideration. The performance of this duty involves 
a wide range of observation over the whole condition of the 
country at a given time, and it imposes upon Congress the cor- 
relative duty of giving serious heed and prompt attention to 
any recommendations which the President may make. No 
other functionary in the Government is in a position to know 
so well as the President what the interests of the Union from 
time to time demand at the hands of Congress, and no other is 
clothed with this power of making official and therefore weighty 
recommendations of measures requiring legislative action. ~No 
state of parties, no objects of party policy, can excuse the indi- 
vidual members of a Congress from the duty of giving imme- 
diate attention to whatever suggestions the President may 
make in the exercise of this great function as the constitutional 
adviser of the legislature, and as guardian f the interests of 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 331 

the Union. At the same time, it is to be remembered thai this 
function is only an advisory one ; that it in no way enlarges the 
powers of the Executive; and that thePresidenl can at no time 

exercise any powers but those with which he has been clothed 
by the Constitution or by the laws which have been passed in 
pursuance of its provisions. 

Never was there an occasion when it was more necessary that 
this duty should be performed by the President firmly, intelli- 
gibly, boldly, conscientiously, than it was in the crisis existing 
at the commencement of the session of Congress in December, 
1 sili i. Never was it more imperatively necessary that Congress 
should at once take into its "consideration" the measures 
recommended by the President. The force of that term, as it 
is used in the Constitution, is not limited to a mere reference 
of the President's recommendations to committees. It implies 
action, prompt and decisive action, one way or the other, in 
proportion to the gravity of that condition of the Union which 
the President has brought to the attention of the Legislature. 
The President is entitled to know, and to know speedily, 
whether the Congress concurs with or differs from him. The 
country is entitled to know whether its Chief Magistrate is to 
be clothed with the further powers for which he may have 
asked in order to meet a given emergency ; whether the Con- 
gress accepts, or refuses to accept, his construction of the Con- 
stitution in regard to new and difficult questions that have 
arisen ; and whether, if the Congress does not concur with the 
President, it has any other policy to propose and carry out. 
adequate to the dangers that may be impending over the Union. 
An examination of the course of President Buchanan in the 
crisis to which we have now arrived conducts to the inquiry 
whether he performed his duty, as he should have done, and 
whether the Congress performed theirs according to the obliga- 
tion that rested upon them. 

The " state of the Union," of which the President had to 
give Congress official information, was entirely unprecedented. 
That it was alarming, cannot be doubted. It matters little 
whether the people of the North felt much alarm. Popular 
opinion, so far as it was not manifested by the depression of 
business and of the public funds, did not reflect the gravity of 



332 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

the crisis. It was not generally believed that an election of a 
President, conducted in a regular and orderly manner, although 
it had resulted in the triumph of a party obnoxious to the feel- 
ings of the Southern people, because of its supposed hostility 
to them, would be or could be made the occasion for a perma- 
nent disruption of the Union. And this was about the only 
aspect in which the popular mind of the North regarded the 
whole matter for a considerable period after the election. It 
was not generally perceived that an entirely new question had 
arisen, which made a peril of a new and formidable nature. The 
alleged constitutional right of a State to withdraw itself from 
the Union, on its own judgment that its interests or safety were 
no longer compatible with its continuing as a member of it, 
although it had long been theoretically discussed in many ways 
by individuals of more or less importance, was now about to 
be asserted and acted upon by the people of South Carolina. 
How was this crisis to be met % That it was entirely out of all 
previous experience, that it was a situation full of peril, that it 
entailed the consideration of questions of Federal power never 
yet solved, because they had never before arisen, was plain. 
That the President of the United States, the official sentinel on 
the great watch-tower of the Union, regarded its condition as 
one of imminent danger, was enough for the Congress to know. 
That popular opinion in the North did not fully comprehend the 
danger affords no excuse for any omission of duty, any lack of 
wisdom or forethought, any failure to act promptly or patriot- 
ically, which history may find reason to impute to those who 
held the legislative power. 

Mr. Buchanan, as the reader has seen, so soon as he had rea- 
son to believe that South Carolina was about to put in practice 
its alleged right of withdrawing from the Union, proceeded to 
take the opinion of his official adviser in regard to his constitu- 
tional powers and duties in such an emergency. Individually, 
he needed no man's advice upon such questions, for he was as 
able and well instructed a constitutional jurist as any one who 
had ever filled the office of President of the United States ; 
familiar with all the teachings and all the precedents of his 
predecessors, and abundantly learned in the doctrines of the 
great judicial expounders of the Constitution. But in his offi- 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 333 

cial capacity it was both proper and necessary that he should 
call to his aid the sound judgment and the copious learning of 
his Attorney General, before proceeding to discharge his con- 
stitutional duty of giving to Congress information of the state 
of the Union. He began to prepare his animal message 
immediately after he had received the Attorney General's 
answers to his questions. The message was read to the cabinet 
before it was printed in the usual form for communication to 
Congress. The members of the cabinet, including General Cass, 
the Secretary of State, and with the exceptions of Mr. Cobb, 
Secretary of the Treasury, and Mr. Thompson, Secretary of the 
Interior, warmly and emphatically approved of it.* Messrs. 
Cobb and Thompson objected to so much of the message as 
denied the right of secession, and to that part of it which main- 
tained the duty of defending the public property and collecting 
the revenue in South Carolina. These questions having now be- 
come vital, the two dissenting members of the cabinet, soon after 
the message had been sent to Congress, resigned their places, f 
Let it be remembered, then, that this message was prepared 
to be submitted to Congress before the South Carolina Conven- 
tion had adopted its ordinance of secession. Surely, therefore, 
there can be no just ground for imputing to the President any 
lack of preparation to meet the threatened contingency of a 
secession of one or more States, according to the measure of his 
official duty and powers. In examining this message, of which 
I shall speak in conformity with my most serious convictions, 
the reader should note that it had. to be prospective in its 
recommendations, in order that Congress might be fully pos- 
sessed of the methods of action which the President intended 
to propose as the legitimate, as well as the expedient, course to 
be pursued. But this was not the whole of the constitutional 
duty that rested upon the Executive. He had, in discharging 
his duty of giving to Congress information of the state of the 
Union, to treat so far of the causes which had brought about 
that condition as to point out measures of conciliation, as well as 
measures for the exercise of authority. He had to recognize the 

* Judge Black made a criticism, which will be adverted to hereafter, 
t Their resignations will be noted hereafter, as well as that of General Cass, concerning 
whom see the President's memorandum, post. 



334 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

palpable fact that the two sections of the Union, the slavehold- 
ine and the non-slaveholding States, stood divided from each 
other upon a question which involved more of feeling than of 
practical consequence ; a feeling that had been aggravated on 
each side into an undue importance by the circumstances of the 
late election. This question related to the claim of Southern 
slaveholders to have their right of property in slaves recognized 
in Territories of the United States, whenever they should go 
there with such property. It was a claim which the most con- 
siderate of those who asserted it most strongly regarded as 
essential to the equality of their States as members of the 
Union, in reference to the right of occupation of the common 
property of all the States. It was based, to be sure, by many 
who asserted it, upon a questionable proposition, which was that 
the right of property in a slave, recognized by the local law of 
a State, travelled with the person of the owner into a Territory 
of the United States, without any law of the Territory to 
uphold it, and even against a prohibition imposed by the legis- 
lative authority which governed the Territory. But when has 
it been known in the history of conflicting popular feelings, that 
the nature of such a claim has diminished the fervor with which 
it has been defended, when it has come to be regarded as a great 
political right, of importance to those who assert it ? Practi- 
cally, it was not a matter of importance to the slaveholding 
States, because there w r as no Territory of the United States at 
that time in which slave labor could become profitable, or in 
which the negro, in a state of slavery, could thrive. But an 
exaggerated feeling of the political importance of this supposed 
right had taken possession of the Southern mind. On the other 
hand, there had come about in the North an equally exagger- 
ated sense of the importance of asserting in every possible form 
of public action, that the Territories were dedicated to freedom 
from slavery, and w T ere to be so regarded forever. It was chiefly 
upon this, as a fundamental principle of the future legislation 
of the Union, that the Republican candidate had been elected 
by the votes of the people of the free States. 

Under these circumstances, no President of the United States, 
in discharging his constitutional duty of giving to Congress 
information of the state of the Union, could have avoided a 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 335 

reference to this condition of conflicting sectional feelings and 
determinations, especially at a moment when one of the South- 
ern States was about to act upon the assumption that the elec- 
tion of the Northern candidate evinced a hostile disposition in 
the North towards the people and the Bocial institutions of the 
South, too dangerous to he disregarded. If, by fairly holding 
the balance between the two sections, President Buchanan could 
suggest any course of conciliation and compromise that could 
be adopted without impairing the authority of the Federal 
Government or weakening its rights, it was his duty to point it 
out. The adoption of such a course by Congress would certainly 
smooth the way for President Lincoln, because it would leave 
South Carolina alone in her attitude of secession, would tend 
with great force to prevent any of the other cotton States from 
following her example, and would render a civil war extremely 
improbable, because it would remove one great cause for the 
spread of secession beyond the borders of that State. When 
the recommendation of the message is examined with impar- 
tiality, it will be found that it proposed an explanatory amend- 
ment of the Constitution which was entirely reasonable, and 
which would have terminated the existing dissensions, so far 
as they depended upon this particular question. 

But those dissensions had other causes, which it was equally 
the duty of the President to bring before Congress and the 
country. For a long period of time, the anti-slavery agitation 
in the North, not confined to the question of slavery in the 
Territories, had awakened apprehensions in the South for their 
domestic peace and safety. It was undoubtedly but reasonable 
to expect the Southern people to rely on the conservative force 
of Northern public opinion, to guard against interference with 
slavery in the States by any form of public action through the 
General Government, by whatever party it might be adminis- 
tered. Put who could insure them against the consequences of 
such lawless acts as John Brown's "raid" into Virginia, under- 
taken in 1859, with the avowed purpose of producing a slave 
insurrection? This occurrence, which was only a little more 
than a twelvemonth old when Mr. Buchanan prepared his an- 
nual message of December 3, 18G0, had produced a sadder 
impression on the Southern people against the Union than any 



33G LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

previous event had ever caused.* This painful impression was 
deepened by the popular honors paid in the North to this man's 
memory as a martyr in the cause of liberty, for whom the 
prayers of churches were offered, and who, after he had died the 
death of a felon, was canonized as a saint, mouldering in the 
body in the grave, but in spirit marching on to the accomplish- 
ment of his mission of liberator of the slaves. Such fanaticism 
might well be regarded with serious alarm by a people who 
dwelt surrounded in every relation of life by a slave population 
of another race, in many communities outnumbering the 
Whites. Yet this was not all that tended to alienate the 
people of the South from the Union. A provision of the Con- 
stitution which was adopted by its framers as a fundamental 
condition of the new Union that it aimed to establish, for the 
execution of which legislation had been provided in 1793, — 
legislation which bore the name of Washington himself, and 
which had been amended and strengthened in 1850 by a 
solemn Congressional agreement, — had been for seven years 
resisted by combinations of individuals in the North, and 
by State laws of obstruction that had no less of nullification 
as their spirit and purpose than the nullifying ordinance of 
South Carolina, by which she formerly undertook to obstruct 
another law of the Union. It was impossible for the South- 
ern People not to place this resistance to the extradition of 
fugitive slaves among their grievances. It was a real griev- 
ance, and one that, considering the nature of the Constitutional 
mandate and stipulation, it was right that they should com- 
plain of. 

Was the President of the United States, standing at the 
threshold of the secession movement, measuring as he was bound 
to do with a comprehensive grasp the condition of the Union, 
to be silent respecting these things? Was he, if he spoke to 
the South, warning her that the election of Abraham Lincoln 
was no cause for her attempting to leave the Union, and ex- 
pounding to her the utter futility of the doctrine of secession as 
a constitutional right — was he to say nothing to the North of 



* John Brown's seizure of the armory, arsenal, and rifle factory of the United States at 
Harper's Ferry occurred October 16, 1859. 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 1860. 337 

the duly which rested upon her to remove all just causes of 
complaint, and thus to render secession inexcusable to the 
Southern people themselves? A supreme ruler, placed us Mr. 
Buchanan was at the period I am now considering, had a com- 
plex duty to perform. It was to prevent, if he could, the forma- 
tion of any sort of Southern Confederacy among the cut ton 
States, and thereby to relieve his successor from the necessity 
of having to encounter more than the secession of South Caro- 
lina. She could be dealt with easily, standing alone, if Con- 
gress would clothe the President with the necessary power to 
enforce the laws of the Union within her limits. Backed by a new 
confederacy of her contiguous sisters, containing five millions 
of people, and controlling the whole cotton production of the 
country, the problem for the new President would indeed be a 
formidable one. To prevent this, certain measures of concilia- 
tion were deemed by President Buchanan, in as honest and as 
wise a judgment as any statesman ever formed, to be essential. 
"When the reader has examined his recommendations of consti- 
tutional amendments, along with the practical measures for 
which he applied, and which Congress did not adopt, he will 
have to ask himself, if Congress had done its duty as the Presi- 
dent performed his, is it within the bounds of probability that Mr. 
Lincoln would have been embarrassed with the question about 
the forts in Charleston harbor, or that the Montgomery govern- 
ment would have ever existed, or that South Carolina, unaided 
and undirected by that new confederacy, would ever have fired 
on Sumter 1 

As the internal affairs of the country claimed the first atten- 
tion of the President, and occupied a very large part of his 
message, I emote the whole of what it said on this very grave 
topic : 

Fellow-citizens of tile Senate and House of Representatives : — 

Throughout the year since our last meeting, the country has been emi- 
nently prosperous in all its material interests. The general health has been 
excellent, our harvests have been abundant, and plenty smiles throughout the 
land. Our commerce and manufactures have been prosecuted with energy 
and industry, and have yielded fair and ample returns. In short, no nation in 
the tide of time has ever presented a spectacle of greater material prosperity 
than we have done, until within a very recent period. 

II.— 22 



$38 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



Why is it. then, that discontent now so extensively prevails, and the union 
of the States, which is the source of all these blessings, is threatened with 
destruction? 

The Ion"- continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people 
with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at length produced its 
natural effects. The different sections of the Union are now arrayed against 
each other, and the time has arrived, so much dreaded by the Father of his 
Country, when hostile geographical parties have been formed. 

I have long foreseen, and often forewarned my countrymen of the now 
impending danger. This does not proceed solely from the claim on the part 
of Congress or the Territorial legislatures to exclude slavery from the Terri- 
tories, nor from the efforts of different States to defeat the execution of the 
fugitive slave law. All or any of these evils might have been endured by the 
South, without danger to the Union (as others have been), in the hope that 
time and reflection might apply the remedy. The immediate peril arises, not 
so much from these causes, as from the fact that the incessant and violent 
agitation of the slavery question throughout the North for the last quarter of 
a century has at length produced its malign influence on the slaves, and 
inspired them with vague notions of freedom. Hence a sense of security no 
longer exists around the family altar. This feeling of peace at home has 
given place to apprehensions of servile insurrections. Many a matron 
throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and 
her children before the morning. Should this apprehension of domestic dan- 
ger, whether real or imaginary, extend and intensify itself, until it shall per- 
vade the masses of the Southern people, then disunion will become inevitable. 
Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and has been implanted in the 
heart of man by his Creator for the wisest purpose; and no political union, 
however fraught with blessings and benefits in all other respects, can long- 
continue, if the necessary consequence be to render the homes and the fire- 
sides of nearly half the parties to it habitually and hopelessly insecure. 
Sooner or later the bonds of such a Union must be severed. It is my convic- 
tion that this fatal period has not yet arrived ; and my prayer to God is, that 
he would preserve the Constitution and the Union throughout all generations. 

But let us take warning in time, and remove the cause of danger. It can- 
not be denied that for five and twenty years the agitation at the North 
against slavery has been incessant. In 1835, pictorial handbills and inflamma- 
tory appeals were circulated extensively throughout the South, of a character 
to excite the passions of the slaves, and, in the language of General Jackson, 
il to stimulate them to insurrection and produce all the horrors of a servile 
war." This agitation has ever since been continued by the public press, by 
the proceedings of State and county conventions, and by abolition sermons 
and lectures. The time of Congress has been occupied in violent speeches on 
this never ending subject ; and appeals, in pamphlet and other forms, indorsed 
by distinguished names, have been sent forth from this central point and 
spread broadcast over the Union. 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 1860. 330 

How easy would it be for the American people to settle the slavery ques- 
tion forever, and to restore peace and harmony to this distracted country! 
They, and they alone, can do it All that is necessary to accomplish the 
ohject, and all for which the slave States have ever contended, is to be let 
alone and permitted to manage their domestic institutions in their own way. 
As sovereign States, they, and they alone, are responsible before God and the 
world for the slavery existing among them. For this the people of the 
North are not more responsible, and have no more right to interfere, than 
with similar institutions in Russia or in Brazil. 

Upon their good sense and patriotic forbearance, I confess, I still greatly 
rely. Without their aid it is beyond the power of any President, no matter 
what may be his own political proclivities, to restore peace and harmony 
among the States. Wisely limited and restrained as is his power under our 
Constitution and laws, he alone can accomplish but little for good or for evil 
on such a momentous question. 

And this brings me to observe, that the election of any one of our fellow- 
citizens to the office of President does not of itself afford just cause for dis- 
solving the Union. This is more especially true if his election has been 
effected by a mere plurality and not a majority of the people, and has resulted 
from transient and temporary causes, which may probably never again occur. 
In order to justify a resort to revolutionary resistance, the Federal Govern- 
ment must be guilty of " a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise " of 
powers not granted by the Constitution. The late Presidential election, how- 
ever, has been held in strict conformity with its express provisions. How, 
then, can the result justify a revolution to destroy this very Constitution ? 
Reason, justice, a regard for the Constitution, all require that we shall wait 
for some overt and dangerous act on the part of the President elect, before 
resorting to such a remedy. It is said, however, that the antecedents of the 
President elect have been sufficient to justify the fears of the South that he 
will attempt to invade their constitutional rights. But are such apprehensions 
of contingent danger in the future sufficient to justify the immediate destruc- 
tion of the noblest system of government ever devised by mortals ? From 
the very nature of his office, and its high responsibilities, he must necessarily 
be conservative. The stern duty of administering the vast and complicated 
concerns of this Government affords in itself a guarantee that he will not 
attempt any violation of a clear constitutional right. 

After all, he is no more than the Chief Executive officer of the Government. 
His province is not to make but to execute the laws ; and it is a remarkable 
fact in our history that, notwithstanding the repeated efforts of the anti-slavery 
party, no single act has ever passed Congress, unless we may possibly except 
the Missouri Compromise, impairing in the slightest degree the rights of the 
South to their property in slaves. And it may also be observed, judging from 
present indications, that no probability exists of the passage of such an act by 
a majority of both Houses, either in the present or the next Congress. Surely, 
under these circumstances, we ought to be restrained from present action by 



340 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

the precept of Him who spake as man never spoke, that "sufficient unto the 
day is the evil thereof." The day of evil may never come unless we shall 
rashly bring it upon ourselves. 

It is alleged as one cause for immediate secession, that the Southern States 
are denied equal rights with the other States in the common Territories. But 
by what authority are these denied ? Not by Congress, which has never 
passed, and I believe never will pass, any act to exclude slavery from these 
Territories. And certainly not by the Supreme Court, which has solemnly 
decided that slaves are property, and like all other property their owners have 
a rio-ht to take them into the common Territories and hold them there under 
the protection of the Constitution. 

So far, then, as Congress is concerned, the objection is not to anything they 
have already done, but to what they may do hereafter. It will surely be 
admitted that this apprehension of future danger is no good reason for an 
immediate dissolution of the Union. It is true that the Territorial legislature 
of Kansas, on the 23d February, 1860, passed in great haste an act over the 
veto of the Governor, declaring that slavery " is and shall be forever pro- 
hibited in this Territory." Such an act, however, plainly violating the rights 
of property secured by the Constitution, will surely be declared void by the 
judiciary, whenever it shall be presented in a legal form. 

Only three days after my inauguration, the Supreme Court of the United 
States solemnly adjudged that this power did not exist in a Territorial legisla- 
ture. Yet such has been the factious temper of the times that the correctness 
of this decision has been extensively impugned before the people, and the 
question has given rise to angry political conflicts throughout the country. 
Those who have appealed from this judgment of our highest constitutional 
tribunal to popular assemblies, would, if they could, invest a Territorial legisla- 
ture with power to annul the sacred rights of property. This power Congress 
is expressly forbidden by the Federal Constitution to exercise. Every State 
legislature in the Union is forbidden by its own constitution to exercise it. It 
cannot be exercised in any State except by the people in their highest sover- 
eign capacity when framing or amending their State constitution. In like 
manner it can only be exercised by the people of a Territory, represented in 
a convention of delegates, for the purpose of framing a constitution prepara- 
tory to admission as a State into the Union. Then, and not until then, are 
they invested with power to decide the question whether slavery shall or shall 
not exist within their limits. This is an act of sovereign authority and not of 
subordinate Territorial legislation. Were it otherwise, then indeed would the 
equality of the States in the Territories be destroyed and the rights of prop- 
erty in slaves would depend not upon the guarantees of the Constitution, but 
upon the shifting majorities of an irresponsible Territorial legislature. Such a 
doctrine, from its intrinsic unsoundness, cannot long influence any considerable 
portion of our people, much less can it afford a good reason for a dissolution 
of our Union. 

The most palpable violations of constitutional duty which have yet been 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 341 

committed consist in the acts of different State legislatures to defeat the 
execution of the fugitive slave law. It ought to be remembered, however, 
that for these acts neither Congress nor any President can justly be held 
responsible. Having been passed in violation of the Federal Constitution, 
they are therefore null and void. All the courts, both State and national, 
before whom the question has arisen, have, from the beginning, declared the 
fugitive slave law to be constitutional. The single exception is that of a State 
court in Wisconsin; and this has not only been reversed by tin' proper appel- 
late tribunal, but has met with such universal reprobation, that then; can be 
no danger from it as a precedent. The validity of this law has been estab- 
lished over and over again by the Supreme Court of the United States with 
unanimity. It is founded upon an express provision of the Constitution, 
requiring that fugitive slaves who escape from service in one State to another 
shall be " delivered up '' to their masters. Without this provision, it is a well 
known historical fact that the Constitution itself could never have been 
adopted by the convention. In one form or other, under the acts of 1793 and 
1S50, both being substantially the same, the fugitive slave law has been the law 
of the land from the days of Washington until the present moment. Here, 
then, a clear case is presented, in which it will be the duty of the next Presi- 
dent, as it has been my own, to act with vigor in executing this supreme law 
against the conflicting enactments of State legislatures. Should he fail in the 
performance of this high duty, he will then have manifested a disregard of the 
Constitution and laws, to the great injury of the people of nearly one-half of 
the States of the Union. But are we to presume in advance that he will thus 
violate his duty ? This would be at war with every principle of justice and 
of Christian charity. Let us wait for the overt act. The fugitive slave law 
has been carried into execution in every contested case since the commence- 
ment of the present administration ; though eften, it is to be regretted, with 
great loss and inconvenience to the master, and with considerable expense to 
the Government. Let us trust that the State legislatures will repeal their 
unconstitutional and obnoxious enactments. Unless this shall be done with- 
out unnecessary delay, it is impossible for any human power to save the 
Union. 

The Southern States, standing on the basis of the Constitution, have a right 
to demand this act of justice from the States of the North. Should it be 
refused, then the Constitution, to which all the States are parties, will have 
been wilfully violated by one portion of them in a provision essential to the 
domestic security and happiness of the remainder. In that event, the injured 
States, after having first used all peaceful and constitutional means to obtain 
redress, would be justified in revolutionary resistance to the Government of 
the Union. 

I have purposely confined my remarks to revolutionary resistance, because 
it has been claimed within the last few years that any State, whenever this 
shall be its sovereign will and pleasure, may secede from the Union in accord- 
ance with the Constitution, and without any violation of the constitutional 



., 4 o LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

rights of the other members of the Confederacy. That as each became parties 
to°the Union by the vote of its own people assembled in convention, so any 
one of them may retire from the Union in a similar manner by the vote of 
such a convention. 

In order to justify secession as a constitutional remedy, it must be on the 
principle that the Federal Government is a mere voluntary association of 
States, to be dissolved at pleasure by any one of the contracting parties. If 
this be so, the Confederacy is a rope of sand, to be penetrated and dissolved 
by the first adverse wave of public opinion in any of the States. In this 
manner our thirty-three States may resolve themselves into as many petty, 
jarring, and hostile republics, each one retiring from the Union without 
responsibility whenever any sudden excitement might impel them to such a 
course. By this process a Union might be entirely broken into fragments in 
a few weeks, which cost our forefathers many years of toil, privation, and 
blood to establish. 

Such a principle is wholly inconsistent with the history as well as the char- 
acter of the Federal Constitution. After it was framed, with the greatest 
deliberation and care, it was submitted to conventions of the people of the 
several States for ratification. Its provisions were discussed at length in these 
bodies, composed of the first men of the country. Its opponents contended 
that it conferred powers upon the Federal Government dangerous to the rights 
of the States, whilst its advocates maintained that, under a fair construction 
of the instrument, there was no foundation for such apprehensions. In that 
mighty struggle between the first intellects of this or any other country, it 
never occurred to any individual, either among its opponents or advocates, to 
assert or even to intimate that their efforts were all vain labor, because the 
moment that any State felt herself aggrieved she might secede from the 
Union. What a crushing argument would this have proved against those who 
dreaded that the rights of the States would be endangered by the Constitu- 
tion. The truth is, that it was not until many years after the origin of the 
Federal Government that such a proposition was first advanced. It was then 
met and refuted by the conclusive arguments of General Jackson, who, in his 
message of the 16th January, 1833, transmitting the nullifying ordinance of 
South Carolina to Congress, employs the following language : " The right of 
the people of a single State to absolve themselves at will, and without the 
consent of the other States, from their most solemn obligations, and hazard 
the liberty and happiness of the millions composing this Union, cannot be 
acknowledged. Such authority is believed to be utterly repugnant both to the 
principles upon which the General Government is constituted, and to the 
objects which it was expressly formed to attain." 

It is not pretended that any clause in the Constitution gives countenance 
to such a theory. It is altogether founded upon inference, not from any lan- 
guage contained in the instrument itself, but from the sovereign character of 
the several States by which it was ratified. But is it b'eyond the power of a 
State, like an individual, to yield a portion of its sovereign rights to secure 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 343 

the remainder? In the language of Mr. Madison, who has been called the 
father of the Constitution, "It was formed by the States — that is, by the 
people in each of the States acting in their highest sovereign capacity, and 
formed, consequently, by the same authority which formed the State consti- 
tutions. Nor is the Government of the United States, created by the Con- 
stitution, less a government, in the strict sense of the term, within the sphere 
of its powers, than the governments created by the constitutions of the States 
are within their several spheres. It is, like them, organized into legislative, 
executive, and judiciary departments. It operates, like them, directly on per- 
sona and things; and, like them, it has at command a physical force for 
executing the powers committed to it." 

It was intended to be perpetual, and not to be annulled at the pleasure of 
any one of the contracting parties. The old articles of confederation wire 
entitled " Articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States;'! 
and by the thirteenth article it is expressly declared that " the articles of this 
confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall 
be perpetual." The preamble to the Constitution of the United States, 
having express reference to the articles of confederation, recites that it was 
established " in order to form a more perfect union." And yet it is contended 
that this " more perfect union " does not include the essential attribute of 
perpetuity. 

But that the Union was designed to be perpetual, appears conclusively 
from the nature and extent of the powers conferred by the Constitution on 
the Federal Government. These powers embrace the very highest attributes 
of national sovereignty. They place both the sword and the purse under its 
control. Congress has power to make war and to make peace ; to raise and 
support armies and navies, and to conclude treaties with foreign governments. 
It is invested with the power to coin money, and to regulate the value thereof, 
and to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States. 
It is not necessary to enumerate the other high powers which have been con- 
ferred upon the Federal Government. In order to carry the enumerated 
powers into effect, Congress possesses the exclusive right to lay and collect 
duties on imports, and, in common with the States, to lay and collect all other 
taxes. 

But the Constitution has not only conferred these high powers upon Con- 
gress, but it has adopted effectual means to restrain the States from interfering 
with their exercise. For that purpose it has in strong prohibitory language 
expressly declared that " no State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or con- 
federation; grant letters of marque and reprisal ; coin money; emit bills of 
credit ; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts ; 
pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation 
of contracts." Moreover, " without the consent of Congress no State shall 
lay any imposts or duties on any imports or exports, except what may be 
absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws," and if they exceed 
this amount, the excess shall belong to the United States. And " no State 



3U LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops 
or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with 
another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually 
invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay." 

In order still further to secure the uninterrupted exercise of these high 
powers against State interposition, it is provided " that this Constitution and 
the laws of the "United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and 
all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United 
States, shall be the supreme law of the land ; and the judges in every State 
shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to 
the contrary notwithstanding." 

The solemn sanction of religion has been superadded to the obligations of 
official duty, and all Senators and Representatives of the United States, all 
members of State legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, " both of 
the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirma- 
tion to support this Constitution." 

In order to carry into effect these powers, the Constitution has established 
a perfect Government in all its forms, legislative, executive, and judicial ; and 
this Government to the extent of its powers acts directly upon the individual 
citizens of every State, and executes its own decrees by the agency of its own 
officers. In this respect it differs entirely from the government under the old 
confederation, which was confined to making requisitions on the States in 
their sovereign character. This left in the discretion of each whether to obey 
or to refuse, and they often declined to comply with such requisitions. It thus 
became necessary for the purpose of removing this barrier, and, " in order to 
form a more perfect union," to establish a Government which could act 
directly upon the people and execute its own laws without the intermediate 
agency of the States. This has been accomplished by the Constitution of the 
United States. In short, the Government created by the Constitution, and 
deriving its authority from the sovereign people of each of the several States, 
has precisely the same right to exercise its power over the people of all these 
States in the enumerated cases, that each one of them possesses over subjects 
not delegated to the United States, but " reserved to the States respectively 
or to the people." 

To the extent of the delegated powers the Constitution of the United States 
is as much a part of the constitution of each State, and is as binding upon its 
people, as though it had been textually inserted therein. 

This Government, therefore, is a great and powerful government, invested 
with all the attributes of sovereignty over the special subjects to which its 
authority extends. Its framers never intended to implant in its bosom the 
seeds of its own destruction, nor were they at its creation guilty of the absurd- 
ity of providing for its own dissolution. It was not intended by its framers 
to be the baseless fabric of a vision, which, at the touch of the enchanter, 
would vanish into thin air, but a substantial and mighty fabric, capable of 
resisting the slow decay of time, and of defying the storms of ages. Indeed, 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 345 

well may the jealous patriots of that day have indulged fears that a govern- 
ment of such high powers might violate the reserved rights of the States, and 
wisely did they adopt the rule of a strict construction of these powers to pre- 
vent the danger. But they did not fear, nor had they any reason to imagine 
that the Constitution would ever be so interpreted as to enable any State by 
her own act, and without the consent of her sister States, to discharge her 
people from all or any of the federal obligations. 

It may be asked, then, are the people of the States without redress against 
the tyranny and oppression of the Federal Government? By no means. The 
right of resistance on the part of the governed against the oppression of their 
governments cannot be denied. It exists independently of all constitutions, 
and has been exercised at all periods of the world's history. Under it, old 
"■overnments have been destroyed and new ones have taken their place. It 
is embodied in strong and express language in our own Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. But the distinction must ever be observed that this is revolution 
against an established government, and not a voluntary secession from it by 
virtue of an inherent constitutional right. In short, let us look the danger 
fairly in the face; secession is neither more nor less than revolution. It may 
or it may not be a justifiable revolution; but still it is revolution. 

What, in the meantime, is the responsibility and true position of the Exe- 
cutive? He is bound by solemn oath, before God and the country, " to take 
care that the laws be faithfully executed," and from this obligation he cannot 
be absolved by any human power. But what if the performance of this duty, 
in whole or in part, has been rendered impracticable by events over which he 
could have exercised no control ? Such, at the present moment, is the case 
throughout the State of South Carolina, so far as the laws of the United States 
to secure the administration of justice by means of the federal judiciary are 
concerned. All the federal officers within its limits, through whose agency 
alone these laws can be carried into execution, have already resigned. "We no 
longer have a district judge, a district attorney, or a marshal in South Carolina. 
In fact, the whole machinery of the Federal Government necessary for the 
distribution of remedial justice among the people has been demolished, and it 
would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace it. 

The only acts of Congress on the statute book, bearing upon this subject, 
are those of the 28th February, 1795, and 3d March, 1807. These authorize 
the President, after he shall have ascertained that the marshal, with his posse 
comiialus, is unable to execute civil or criminal process in any particular case, 
to call forth the militia and employ the army and navy to aid him in perform- 
ing this service, having first by proclamation commanded the insurgents "to 
disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within a limited time." 
This duty cannot by possibility be performed in a State where no judicial 
authority exists to issue process, and where there is no marshal to execute it, 
and where, even if there were such an officer, the entire population would 
constitute one solid combination to resist him. 

The bare enumeration of these provisions proves how inadequate they are, 



346 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

without further legislation, to overcome a united opposition in a single State, 
not to speak of other States who may place themselves in a similar attitude. 
Congress alone has power to decide whether the present laws can or cannot 
be amended so as to carry out more effectually the objects of the Constitution. 

The same insuperable obstacles do not lie in the way of executing the laws 
for the collection of the customs. The revenue still continues to be collected, 
as heretofore, at the custom-house in Charleston, and should the collector 
unfortunately resign, a successor may be appointed to perform this duty. 

Then, in regard to the property of the United States in South Carolina. 
This has been purchased, for a fair equivalent, " by the consent of the legisla- 
ture of the State,'' "for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals," etc., and 
over these the authority " to exercise exclusive legislation," has been expressly 
granted by the Constitution to Congress. It is not believed that any attempt 
will be made to expel the United States from this property by force ; but if 
in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer in command of the forts has 
received orders to act strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency the 
responsibility for consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the 
assailants. 

Apart from the execution of the laws, so far as this may be practicable, the 
Executive has no authority to decide what shall be the relations between the 
Federal Government and South Carolina. He has been invested with no 
such discretion. He possesses no power to change the relations heretofore 
existing between them, much less to acknowledge the independence of that 
State. This would be to invest a mere executive officer with the power of 
recognizing the dissolution of the Confederacy among our thirty-three sover- 
eign States. It bears no resemblance to the recognition of a foreign de facto 
government, involving no such responsibility. Any attempt to do this would, 
on his part, be a naked act of usurpation. It is, therefore, my duty to submit 
to Congress the whole question in all its bearings. The course of events is so 
rapidly hastening forward that the emergency may soon arise when you may 
be called upon to decide the momentous question whether you possess the 
power, by force of arms, to compel a State to remain in the Union. I should 
feel myself recreant to my duty were I not to express an opinion on this 
important subject. 

The question fairly stated is : Has the Constitution delegated to Congress 
the power to coerce a State into submission which is attempting to withdraw, 
or has actually withdrawn, from the Confederacy ? If answered in the affirma- 
tive, it must be on the principle that the power has been conferred upon Con- 
gress to declare and to make war against a State. After much serious 
reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been dele^. 
gated to Congress or to any other department of the Federal Government.pt., 
is manifest, upon an inspection of the Constitution, that this is not among the 
specific and enumerated powers granted to Congress ; and it is equally appar- 
ent that its exercise is not " necessary and proper for carrying into execution " 
any one of these powers. So far from this power having been delegated to 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. :;i; 

Congress, it was expressly refused by the convention which framed the 

Constitution. 

It appears from the proceedings of that body that on the 31st May, 1787, 
the clause "authorizing an exertion of Hie force of the whole against a (leliiiaiinit 
State" came up for consideration. Mi. Madison opposed it in a brief but 
powerful speech, from which I shall extract but a single sentence. He 
observed : " The use of force against a State would look more like a declara- 
tion of Avar than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be con- 
sidered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by 
which it might be bound." Upon his motion the clause was unanimously 
postponed, and was never, I believe, again presented. Soon afterwards, on 
the 8th June, 1787, when incidentally ail verting to the subject, he said : 
" Any government for the United States, formed on the supposed practicabil- 
ity of using force against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States, 
would prove as visionary and fallacious as the Government of Congress," evi- 
dently meaning the then existing Congress of the old Confederation. 

Without descending to particulars, it may be safely asserted that the power 
to make Avar against a State is at variance Avith the Avhole spirit and intent of 
the Constitution. Suppose such a Avar should result in the conquest of a 
State, Iioav are we to govern it afterwards ? Shall Ave hold it as a province 
and govern it by despotic power? In the nature of things Ave could not, by 
physical force, control the Avill of the people and compel them to elect Senators 
and Representatives to Congress, and to perform all the other duties depend- 
ing upon their OAvn Abolition, and required from the free citizens of a free 
State as a constituent member of the Confederacy. 

But, if Ave possessed this power, would it be Avise to exercise it under 
existing circumstances ? The object Avould doubtless be to preserve the 
Union. War would not only present the most effectual means of destroying 
it, but would banish all hope of its peaceful reconstruction. Besides, in the 
fraternal conflict a vast amount of blood and treasure Avould be expended, 
rendering future reconciliation between the States impossible. In the mean- 
time, who can foretell what Avould be the sufferings and privations of the 
people during its existence ? 

The fact is, that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be 
cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil Avar. If it cannot live in 
the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many 
means of preserving it by conciliation ; but the SAVord AA^as not placed in their 
hand to preserve it by force. 

But may I be permitted solemnly to invoke my countrymen to pause and 
deliberate, before they determine to destroy this, the grandest temple which 
has ever been dedicated to human freedom since the world began. It has 
been consecrated by the blood of our fathers, by the glories of the past, and 
by the hopes of the future. The Union has already made us the most pros- 
perous, and ere long will, if preserved, render us the most poAverful nation on 
the face of the earth. In every foreign region of the globe the title of American 



g^g LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

citizen is held in the highest respect, and when pronounced in a foreign land 
it causes the hearts of our countrymen to swell with honest pride. Surely. 
when we reach the brink of the yawning abyss, we shall recoil with horror 
from the last fatal plunge. 

By such a dread catastrophe, the hopes of the friends of freedom through- 
out the world would be destroyed, and a long night of leaden despotism would 
enshroud the nations. Our example for more than eighty years would not 
only be lost, but it would be quoted as conclusive proof that man is unfit for 
self-government. 

It is not every wrong — nay, it is not every grievous wrong — which can 
justify a resort to such a fearful alternative. This ought to be the last des- 
perate remedy of a despairing people, after every other constitutional means 
of conciliation had been exhausted. We should reflect that, under this free 
Government, there is an incessant ebb and flow in public opinion. The 
slavery question, like everything human, will have its day. I firmly believe 
that it has reached and passed the culminating point. But if, in the midst of 
the existing excitement, the Union shall perish, the evil may then become 
irreparable. 

Congress can contribute much to avert it, by proposing and recommending 
to the legislatures of the several States the remedy for existing evils which 
the Constitution has itself provided for its own preservation. This has been 
tried at different critical periods of our history, and always with eminent 
success. It is to be found in the fifth article, providing for its own amend- 
ment. Under this article, amendments have been proposed by two-thirds of 
both Houses of Congress, and have been " ratified by the legislatures of three- 
fourths of the several States," and have consequently become parts of the 
Constitution. To this process the country is indebted for the clause prohibit- 
ing Congress from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion, or 
abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or of the right of petition. 
To this we are, also, indebted for the Bill of Bights, which secures the people 
against any abuse of power by the Federal Government. Such were the 
apprehensions justly entertained by the friends of State rights at that period 
as to have rendered it extremely doubtful whether the Constitution could have 
long survived without those amendments. 

Again, the Constitution was amended by the same process, after the election 
of President Jefferson by the House of Bepresentatives, in February, 1803. 
This amendment was rendered necessary to prevent a recurrence of the 
dangers which had seriously threatened the existence of the Government 
during the pendency of that election. The article for its own amendment was 
intended to secure the amicable adjustment of conflicting constitutional ques- 
tions like the present, which might arise between the governments of the 
States and that of the United States. This appears from contemporaneous 
history. In this connection, I shall merely call attention to a few sentences in 
Mr. Madison's justly celebrated report, in 1799, to the legislature of Virginia. 
In this, he ably and conclusively defended the resolutions of the preceding 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3. l^GO. 349 

legislature, against the strictures of several other State legislatures These 
were mainly founded upon the protest of the Virginia legislature against the 
"alien and sedition acts," as "palpable and alarming infractions of the Con- 
stitution." In pointing out the peaceful and constitutional remedies — and be 
referred to none other — to which the States were authorized to resort on such 
occasions, he concludes by saying, " that the legislatures of the States might 
have made a direct representation to Congress, with a view to obtain a 
rescinding of the two offensive acts, or they might have represented to their 
respective Senators in Congress, their wish that two-thirds thereof would 
propose an explanatory amendment to the Constitution, or two-thirds of them- 
selves, if such had been their option, might by an application to Congress, 
have obtained a convention for the same object.' 1 This is the very course 
which I earnestly recommend, in order to obtain an t: explanatory amend- 
ment" of the Constitution on the subject of slavery. This might originate 
with Congress or the State legislatures, as may be deemed most advisable to 
attain the object. 

The explanatory amendment might be confined to the final settlement of 
the true construction of the Constitution on three special points : 

1. An express recognition of the right of property in slaves in the States 
where it now exists or may hereafter exist. 

2. The duty of protecting this right in all the common Territories through- 
out their Territorial existence, and until they shall be admitted as States into 
the Union, with or without slavery, as their constitutions may prescribe. 

3. A like recognition of the right of the master to have his slave, who has 
escaped from one State to another, restored and " delivered up " to him, and 
of the validity of the fugitive slave law enacted for this purpose, together with 
a declaration that all State laws impairing or defeating this right, are violations 
of the Constitution, and are consequently null and void. It may be objected 
that this construction of the Constitution has already been settled by the 
Supreme Court of the United States, and what more ought to be required ? 
The answer is, that a very large proportion of the people of the United States 
still contest the correctness of this decision, and never will cease from agita- 
tion, and admit its binding force, until clearly established by the people of the 
several States in their sovereign character. Such an explanatory amendment 
would, it is believed, forever terminate the existing dissensions, and restore 
peace and harmony among the States. 

It ought not to be doubted that such an appeal to the arbitrament estab- 
lished by the Constitution itself would be received with favor by all the States 
of the Confederacy. In any event, it ought to be tried in a spirit of concilia- 
tion before any of these States shall separate themselves from the Union. 

"When I entered upon the duties of the Presidential office, the aspect 
neither of our foreign nor domestic affairs was at all satisfactory. We were 
involved in dangerous complications with several nations, and two of our 
Territories were in a state of revolution against the Government. A restora- 
tion of the African slave trade had numerous and powerful advocates. 



350 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

Unlawful military expeditions were countenanced by many of our citizens, 
and were suffered, in defiance of the efforts of the Government, to escape 
from our shores for the purpose of making war upon the unoffending people 
of neighboring republics with whom we were at peace. In addition to these 
and other difficulties, we experienced a revulsion in monetary affairs, soon 
after my advent to power, of unexampled severity, and of ruinous conse- 
quences to all the great interests of the country. When we take a retrospect 
of what was then our condition, and contrast this with its material prosperity 
at the time of the late Presidential election, we have abundant reason to return 
our grateful thanks to that merciful Providence which has never forsaken us 
aa a nation in all our past trials. 

With respect to the supposed right of secession as a deduction 
from the nature of the Union, as established by the Constitution 
— a theory on which the secessionists from the first desired the 
whole issue to be based, with all its resulting consequences — I 
shall close this chapter with the remark that, after a long 
familiarity with our constitutional literature, I know of no doc- 
ument which, within the same compass, states so clearly and 
accurately what I regard as the true theory of our Constitu- 
tion, as this message of President Buchanan. Had I the 
power to change it, I would not alter a word. The President, 
after stating a case which might justify revolution under this as 
under all other governments, after all peaceful and constitutional 
means to obtain redress had been exhausted, proceeded to dis- 
cuss the supposed constitutional right of secession, with the 
power of a statesman and the precision of a jurist.* 

Among all the reproaches that have been cast upon President 
Buchanan, none has been more persistently repeated than that 
which has imputed to him a " temporizing policy ; " and the 
doctrine on which he denied that the Federal Government 
could make aggressive war upon a State for the purpose of pre- 
venting her from seceding from the Union, has been represented 
as the strongest proof of his want of the vigor necessary for the 

* Mr. Buchanan, in constructing this great argument, doubtless had very important 
sources from which to draw his reasoning, in Mr. Webster's replies to Mr. Hayne and Mr. 
Calhoun, in General Jackson's great proclamation and message in the time of nullification, 
in the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the writings of Hamilton, 
Madison and others of the early expounders of the Constitution. But who can justly deny 
to him the merit of concentrating his materials into a powerful statement of that theory of 
our Constitution on which the rightfulness of the late civil war must rest in history, or be 
lefl without any justification but the power of numbers and the principle that might makes 
right ! 



THE ANNUAL MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 3, 18G0. 351 

emergency. Little are the objectors aware that the policy of 
Mr. Lincoln's administration, until after the attack on Fort 
Sumter, was identical with thai of Mr. Buchanan. Mr. Lin- 
coln's policy was largely shaped by his Secretary of State, 
Mr. Seward ; and there can be no better authority than Mr. 
Seward's for proof of that policy.* 

* The following extracts are taken from an official letter addressed by Mr. Seward, as 
Secretary of State, to Mr. ('. K. Adams, who had jusl gone abroad a* United States Minister 
to England. The letter bears date April 10th, 1861. "Ton will hardly be asked by respon- 
sible statesmen abroad, why bas nol the new administration already suppressed the revolu- 
tion. Thirty-live days are a short period in which to repress, chiefly by moral means, a 

movement which is so active whilst disclosing itself throughout an empire Ee 

(President Lincoln) believes that the citizens of those suites, as well as the citizens of the 
other States, are too intelligent, considerate, and wise to follow the leaders to that destruc- 
tive end (anarchy). For these reasons, he would not be disposed to reject a cardinal dogma 
of theirs, namely, that the Federal Government could not reduce the seceding Staler to 
obedience by conquest, even although he were disposed to question that proposition. But, 
in fact, the President willingly accepts it as true. Only an imperial and despotic government 
could subjugate thoroughly disaffected and insurrectionary members of the state. This 
federal, republican country of ours is of all forms of government the very one which is most 
unfitted for such a labor. Happily, however, this is only an imaginary defect. The system 
has within itself adequate, peaceful, conservative and recuperative forces. Firmness on the 
part of the Government in maintaining and preserving the public institutions and property, 
and in executing the laws where authority can be exercised without waging war, combined 
with such measures of justice, moderation and forbearance as will disarm reasoning opposi- 
tion, will be sufficient to secure the public safety, until returning reflection, concurring with 
the fearful experience of social evils, the inevitable fruits of faction, shall bring the recusant 
members cheerfully into the family, which, after all, must prove their best and happiest, as 
it undeniably is their most natural home." He then goes on to show that the calling of a 
national convention, by authority of Congress, will remove all real obstacles to a re-union, 
by revising the Constitution, and he adds: " Keeping that remedy steadily in view, the 
President on the one hand will not suffer the Federal authority to fall into abeyance, nor will 
he on the other hand aggravate existing evils by attempts at coercion which must assume the 
form of direct war against any of the revolutionary States." It. is impossible for human 
ingenuity to draw a sensible distinction between the policy of President Lincoln as laid 
down by Mr. Seward just before the attack on Fort Sumter, and the policy adopted and 
steadily pursued by President Buchanan ; and it is to be hoped that the world will hereafter 
h:ar no more reproaches of President Buchanan, because he denied the authority of the 
Federal Government to make aggressive war upon a State to compel it to remain in the 
Union, or because he proposed conciliatory measures looking to an amendment of the 
Constitution. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

i860 — December. 

RECEPTION OP TIIE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE IN THE CABINET, IN CONGRESS, 
AND IN THE COUNTRY — THE FIRM ATTITUDE AND WISE POLICY OF 
MR. BUCHANAN. 

KEFERENCE has already been made to what took place 
when this annual message was read to the cabinet, before 
it was transmitted to Congress. Recent revelations made by 
Judge Black in the public prints disclose the nature of an ob- 
jection made by him to the expression " to coerce a State into 
submission, which is attempting to withdraw, or has actually 
withdrawn, from the Confederacy." His criticism did not apply 
to the legal proposition of the message, in which he entirely 
concurred ; but his apprehension was that the expression would 
be read superficially, and be misunderstood. The President 
did not think so, nor did the other members of the cabinet. It 
is only necessary for me to repeat that the message clearly and 
unequivocally pointed out that the coercive power of the Fed- 
eral Government was necessarily confined and must be applied 
to the execution upon individuals of the laws of the United 
States ; and that it explicitly stated, with proper references to 
the proceedings of the framers of the Constitution, that a power 
to coerce a State by force of arms was expressly rejected by 
them, since it would, if applied, be equivalent to a declaration 
of war against the State by the Government of the Union. 
But the apprehension felt by the learned Attorney General was 
caused, I presume, by his anxiety concerning the reception of 
the message in the South and among the secessionists. It was 
their misconstruction that he feared. He could not well have 
supposed that Northern statesmen, grounded at least in the 
fundamental principles of the Constitution usually accepted at 
the North, and with the clear distinction put before them in 
the message between coercing a State and coercing individuals, 



THE RECEPTION OF THE MESSAGE. 353 

would impute to the President an intention to renounce the 
right to use force in the execution of the laws and the protec- 
tion of the public property of the Union. In point of fact, as 
the sequel will show, nearly the whole Republican party, after 
the message became public, without any rational excuse for 
such a misconstruction, saw lit to treat the message as a denial 
by the President of any power to enforce the laws against the 
citizens of a State after secession, and even after actual rebel- 
lion. If this was what the Attorney General anticipated, it 
would seem that the President, having taken great care to make 
clear the distinction, was not bound to suppose that a merely 
partisan spirit of misrepresentation would be applied to such a 
document as this message, to the extent of utterly perverting 
its meaning. On the other hand, the disunionists did not mis- 
understand or misconstrue the message. They saw clearly that 
it not only denounced secession, but that while it enunciated 
the doctrine that the Federal Government could not apply force 
to prevent a State from adopting an ordinance of secession, it 
could and must use force, if need be, to execute its laws, not- 
withstanding the secession. This was a doctrine opposed toto 
ccclo, and in all its branches, to the secessionist's theory of the 
Constitution. It met them upon their own ground, for it utterly 
denied that a State ordinance of secession could absolve its peo- 
ple from obeying the laws of the United States. Accordingly 
they denounced the message ; and upon their theory of the 
Constitution they denounced it rightly. All friendly inter- 
course between the leading disunionists in Congress and the 
President ceased after the message became public ; and from the 
multitude of private letters which reached the President from 
the South, now lying before me, it is apparent that throughout 
that section he was regarded, alike by the enemies and the 
friends of the Union, as having made the issue on which the 
secessionists desired to have the whole controversy turn. They 
were just as ready to accept the issue of a constitutional power 
in the Federal Government to enforce its laws after secession, as 
they were to accept the issue of coercing a State to remain in 
the Union. 

As soon as the message was published, " thick as autumnal leaves 
that strew the brooks in Vallambrosa," private letters of appro- 

II.— 23 



uka LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

bation were showered upon the President from all quarters of 
the North. The most diverse reasons for praising his policy 
marked this heterogeneous correspondence. The Democrat, 
who was afraid to have a civil war begin under a Democratic 
administration, predicted that it would destroy his party for- 
ever. The pious " abolitionist," who saw the finger of God in 
everything, and who prayed daily for a separation of the free 
and the slave States, so that the reproach of tolerating slavery 
might no longer rest upon the Constitution of his country, 
hailed the annunciation of a policy which he thought destined, 
in the course of Providence, to work out the result which he 
longed to see. The Quaker, who abhorred war and bloodshed, 
hoped that "thee" would preserve peace at any price. The 
man of business, looking to his material interests and to the 
commercial advantages of the Union, deprecated a civil war 
which would disturb the natural current of affairs, and would 
end where no man could foresee. Thoughtful citizens, who com- 
prehended more within their range of reflection than was common 
with their neighbors, recognized the wisdom and the necessity 
of the conciliatory steps which the President had recommended. 
The speculative jurist, meditating in his closet upon what he 
supposed might be a panacea for this disordered condition of 
the body politic, sent his recommendations. Nearly all of these 
classes, in their various ways of looking at such a crisis, were 
on the whole gratified that the President had afforded to the 
country a breathing spell, had solemnly called upon Congress 
to reflect, and had at the same time called upon it to act in 
the manner best adapted to meet the emergency. Very few 
desired aggressive measures to be taken, which would put the 
Federal Government in the attitude of making war upon a 
State. 

These numerous private communications, coming from the 
people, were addressed to one of the most self-reliant of men, 
who had surveyed the whole field that was before him, who had 
firmly settled the general policy which it was his duty to follow, 
and who was as calm and collected in this great trial as he had 
ever been in any situation of his life, while he was neither in- 
sensible to or careless of its weighty responsibilities. It has 
been one of the fashionable errors concerning Mr. Buchanan to 



TIIE RECEPTION OP THE MESSAGE. 355 

impute to him, from age or some other cause, a lack of* firmness 
and self-possession in this perilous emergency. I To has l>een 
spoken of as having lost his faculties, or as bring bewildered by 
the perplexities of his situation. There never was a more 
unfounded imputation. It is an imputation t<» which no one 
who was closely in contact with him gave at the time any 
countenance whatever. It will appear, as I go on, that, of the 
members of his cabinet who were most concerned in all his 
official acts during the last months of his administration, not 
one formed at that time the opinion that he was wanting in 
firmness, decision, or energy, however any of them may have 
diflered with him from time to time in regard to particular stcj is 
or measures. The President who sent to Congress the message 
on which I commented in the last preceding chapter, was cer- 
tainly equal to the occasion. How he felt, and what he said of 
his situation, the reader will be interested to learn by the fol- 
lowing extract from a confidential letter which he wrote to a 
gentleman in New York on the 20th of December : 

1 have never enjoyed better health or a more tranquil spirit than during the 
past year. All our troubles have not cost me an hour's sleep or a single meal, 
though I trust I have a just sense of my high responsibility. I weigh well 
and prayerfully what course I ought to adopt, and adhere to it steadily, leav- 
ing the result to Providence. This is my nature, and I deserve neither praise 
nor blame for it. Every person who served with me in the Senate in high 
party times would avouch the truth of this statement. 

Mr. Buchanan may have made mistakes. If I had discov- 
ered them I should not have hesitated to point them out. But 
that his policy was sound ; that it was the only policy that could 
have had any chance of preserving the Union without a civil 
war; that his motive was eminently patriotic; that with a 
serene and superb patience he incurred the risk of obloquy and 
misrepresentation for the sake of his country ; all this should be 
the judgment of any impartial mind. Kay, more : I do not 
hesitate to say that no man can justly accuse him of vacillation, 
weakness, or timidity. A statesman who has a great task to 
perform in a national peril, does not always pursue a rigid line 
of action, without regard to the varying course of events. He 



QKg LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

determines, first of all, on the grand object which he wishes to 
accomplish. If he keeps that object constantly in view, he 
must necessarily vary his steps as the changing aspects of pub- 
lic affairs require ; and one supreme test of his capacity and 
wisdom as a statesman is to be found in his ability to adapt 
himself to new situations, and at the same time not to lose 
sight of the capital object of all his exertions. As a diploma- 
tist, in the highest sense of that term, Mr. Buchanan had few 
equals in his time, nor have there been many men in our his- 
tory who were in this respect his superiors. As his course in the 
inception and progress of the secession movement is developed, 
it will be seen that the explanation of many of his acts, which 
have been the most misunderstood or misrepresented, is to be 
found in the necessity for palliating the danger of an armed 
collision, at moments when such a collision would have de- 
stroyed all hope of a peaceful solution of the sectional diffi- 
culties. That at such moments he sacrificed any principle to 
the management of the immediate question in hand, or imper- 
illed any national interest, or that he ever departed in any 
essential respect from the great object of his policy, will not be, 
or ought not to be, the judgment of those who may follow this 
narrative to the end. 

The dis-Unionists of South Carolina, aided by the leading 
secessionists in Congress from other States of the South, as will 
be seen hereafter, tried hard to entrap him. They never once 
succeeded. They meant to draw from him an admission in 
some form that a State could constitutionally secede from the 
Union ; for they were sorely provoked that he had denied the 
right of secession in his message, and when South Carolina had 
actually adopted her ordinance, it became with them a capital 
point to extort from him a surrender of the forts in Charleston 
harbor, which would imply that the ordinance had transferred 
them to the State. They anticipated that if they could once 
drive him from the position of his message, the Democratic 
party of the North, looking upon him as its representative, 
would never encourage or support a war for the recovery of 
those possessions. They knew that he deprecated and was 
seeking to avoid a war ; and they believed that if he could be 



TIIE RECEPTION OF THE MESSAGE. 357 

compelled to admit that South Carolina was out of the Union, 
other States would quickly join her in the same movement. 
But the truth is, that, with all their astuteness, the secessionists 
were individually and collectively no match for a man who had 
in former days contended with the most crafty politicians of 
Russia, who had encountered and encountered successfully the 
ablest among the British statesmen of that age, and who knew 
more of public law and of our constitutional jurisprudence 
than all the dis-Unionist leaders in the South. In addition to 
all the resources which Mr. Buchanan had in his own person and 
his experience as a statesman, he had a very important resource 
in his Attorney General, and in some of the other gentlemen 
who joined his cabinet after it became necessary to reconstruct 
it ; and if, in the pressure that was made upon him by the 
secessionists, and in the hurry of encountering their devices, 
there was any danger that his determinations might be unskill- 
fully shaped, it was abundantly guarded against by the sugges- 
tions of his advisers. 

By the public press of the North, the message was of course 
received according to party affinities. There were many lead- 
ing articles which regarded it as sound and wise; many which 
treated it as a kind of " treasonable " giving away ot the Union. 
The general tone, however, of the more moderate journals was 
hopeful, and the papers of this class based their hopes of a 
peaceful issue out of all the difficulties upon the President's 
recommendations. Still, the utterances of the press did not 
show that even then the public mind of the North fully grasped 
the extreme gravity of the situation ; and if these utterances of 
the press are to be taken as the best proof of the state of the 
public mind in the North, without the aid of one's personal 
recollections and observation, it might be inferred that the 
message had not produced the impression that it ought. But 
the great mass of private letters which reached Mr. Buchanan 
are a better index of what was passing in men's minds ; and 
they show unmistakably that if the Congress had vigorously 
acted as he advised, the public mind of the North was preparing 
to sanction and to welcome the course which he recommended, 



35S 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



however diverse were the reasons or the motives which pre- 
vailed with the individual writers.* 

The letters which reached the President from the South, after 
the promulgation of his message, were almost as numerous as 
those which came from the North, but they did not exhibit such 
a variety in the motives and feelings that animated the writers. 
They were from men who represented two principal classes of 
persons, the Unionists and the dis- Unionists. The latter wrote 
in a bold, defiant and turbulent spirit. They made it quite clear 
that they cared nothing for the distinction between coercing 
a State and coercing individuals, and that they held a State 
ordinance of secession to be perfectly efficacious to absolve its 
people from obeying the laws of the United States. They de- 
clared that any movement of troops or munitions of war into 
the Southern States would instantly be accepted as proof of a 
design to prevent peaceable secession, would promote bloodshed 
and inaugurate civil war. Many of these persons were terribly 
in earnest ; but if any of them wrote in the expectation that 
they could operate upon the President's fears, and thus prevent 
him from carrying out his announced purpose to execute the 
laws and preserve the public property of the Union, they 
" reckoned without their host." While he made it apparent to 
Congress that at that time he was without the necessary execu- 
tive powers to enforce the collection of the revenue in South 
Carolina, in case she should secede, he did not fail to call for 
the appropriate powers and means. And in regard to the appli- 
cation of all the means that he had for protecting the public 
property, it will be seen hereafter that he omitted no step that 
could have been taken with safety, and that when the day for 
the inauguration of his successor arrived, Major Anderson not 
only held Fort Sumter, but had held it down to that time in 
perfect confidence that he could maintain his position. 

The letters from Union men in the South evinced that there 



* This mass of private letters is so great, and so fully represents various classes of the 
community, that I have felt entirely warranted iD treating it as the best evidence of the cur- 
rents of public opinion, as they were setting immediately after the publication of the 
message. The President could do nothing more with such a correspondence than to have 
each letter carefully read by a competent private secretary, and its contents duly noted for 
hi- information. The whole of it gave him the means of knowing the feelings of the people 
far better than he could know them hy reading the public prints. 



THE RECEPTION' OF THE MESSAGE. 359 

was in all the cotton States, excepting in South Carolina, a 
strong body of men who were not disposed to cooperate in a 
dismemberment of the Union, and in the destruction of the 
Government under which they and their fathers had always 
lived and prospered. They therefore, from their positions, were 
able to tell Mr. Buchanan how important it was that the Federal 
Government should not become the aggressor; how vital it was 
that it should act on the defensive; and how necessary it was 
that the North, acting through Congress, should adopt the con- 
ciliatory measures which he had recommended ; measures that 
would, in regard to the Territories, give the South nothing but 
a barren abstraction, and that would, in regard to the extradition 
of fugitives, give the South only what it had a perfect right to 
demand. Although all this was entirely apparent to the Presi- 
dent without the information which these letters gave him, these 
expressions of the feelings, opinions and hopes of the Unionists 
of that region were a strong confirmation of the wisdom of his 
policy. 

The tone of the Southern press respecting the message was in 
general violent and inflammatory, but with many noteworthy 
exceptions. But as in the North, so in the South, the private 
letters to the President were a better index of the currents of 
feeling and opinion than anything that could be found in the 
utterances of the press. 

In Congress, when the message was received, there was a 
singular state of parties. First, there were the Kepublicans, 
flushed with their recent political triumph in the election of Mr. 
Lincoln, and entirely indisposed to make any concessions that 
would militate, or seem to militate, against the dogmas of the 
"Chicago Platform.'' This party was purely sectional in its 
composition, tendencies and purposes. Next were the repre- 
sentatives of the Southern States, most of whom held theoret- 
ically to the State right of secession. This party was a sectional 
one, also; but, as will hereafter be shown, there were a few 
Southern men in Congress who did not believe in the doctrine 
of secession, who favored no extreme demands of the South, 
and who acted throughout with a steady purpose to preserve the 
peace of the country and the integrity of the Union. Thirdly, 
there were the Northern Democrats, represented by such Sena- 



300 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



tors as Mr. Douglas, Mr. Bigler and Mr. Bright, who could act 
as mediators between the extreme sectional parties of North and 
South. It was to such a Congress that the President addressed 
his message, at a moment when South Carolina was about to 
secede from the Union, and when the danger was that all the 
other cotton States would follow her example. He was con- 
vinced that an attempt of those seven States to form a con- 
federacy, independent of the United States, could not be over- 
come without a long and bloody war, into which the other 
Southern States, commonly called from their geographical situa- 
tion the border States, would sooner or later be drawn. A 
great army would be needed to encounter even the cotton 
States, and no free institutions in the world had ever survived 
the dangers to which such an army had exposed them. To 
prosecute a civil war would entail upon the Federal Govern- 
ment a debt which could not be calculated ; and although the 
taxation necessary to uphold that debt might be thrown upon 
posterity, in part, yet the commercial, manufacturing, agricul- 
tural, mechanical and laboring classes must be at once exposed 
to ruinous burthens. To avert such calamities, by the employ- 
ment of all the constitutional powers of his office, was his 
supreme desire.* It was the great misfortune of his position, 
that he had to appeal to a Congress, in which there were two 
sectional parties breathing mutual defiance ; in which a broad 
and patriotic statesmanship was confined to a small body of 
men who could not win over to their views a sufficient number 
from either of the sectional parties to make up a majority upon 
any proposition whatever. 

The message was unsatisfactory to both of the sectional par- 
ties. Mr. Jefferson Davis, in the Senate the ablest and most 
conspicuous of the secessionist leaders, now committed the grand 
error of his career as a statesman in this national crisis. He 
denounced the message because of its earnest argument against 
secession, and because the President had expressed in it his pur- 
pose to collect the revenue in the port of Charleston, by means 
of a naval force, and to defend the public property. Mr. Davis 
did not need to make this issue with the President, or to make 



* Buchanan's Defence, pp. 112-113. 



THE RECEPTION OF THE MESSAGE. 3d 

any issue with him, unless lie was determined to encourage 
South Carolina to leave the Union, and to encourage the other 
cotton States to follow her. His own State had not then 
seceded, and whether she would do so depended very much 
upon his course. However strongly and sincerely he may have 
believed in the right of secession, the President had afforded to 
him and to every other Southern statesman an opportunity to 
forestall any necessity tor a practical assertion of that right, by 
giving his voice and his vote for measures of conciliation that 
ought to have been satisfactory to every Southern constituency 
and every Southern representative. It was a capital mistake, 
for Mr. Davis and the other secessionist leaders, to separate 
themselves from the President, and afterwards to endeavor to 
extort from him an admission that South Carolina had gone out 
of the Union, and that the laws of the United States could not 
be executed within her limits, or the possession of the forts in 
her harbor be maintained. Mr. Calhoun would not have thus 
acted. He would have exerted his whole power to procure 
concessions fit to be offered by the North, and to be received 
by the South, before he would have encouraged his State to 
secede from the Union in advance of the decision that no such 
concessions would be made. 

The spirit of the Republican Senators towards the message 
may be seen from the very unjust representation of its tenor 
made by Mr. Hale of New Hampshire, who said that in sub- 
stance its positions were : 1. That South Carolina has just cause 
to secede from the Union. 2. That she has no right to secede. 
3. That we have no right to prevent her. So far from saying 
or intimating that South Carolina had just cause to secede from 
the Union, the President had in the message carefully and 
explicitly drawn that distinction between the right of revolu- 
tionary resistance to intolerable oppression, and the supposed 
right of State secession from the Union on account of antici- 
pated danger ; a distinction which Madison, Jefferson, Jackson 
and Webster always made when dealing with the subject. That 
distinction was not more clearly and emphatically made by Mr. 
Webster in his encounters with Mr. Hayne and Mr. Calhoun, 
than it was made by Mr. Buchanan in this message. And if Mr. 
Hale had been disposed to do justice to the message, instead of 



3(;o LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

employing a witticism that might be remembered by persons 
who would not take the pains to understand such a public 
document on a subject of such fearful gravity, he would have 
admitted what all men should then have admitted, and what 
afterwards became the only justifiable basis of the civil war : 
that to coerce a State to remain in the Union is not, but that 
to enforce the execution of the laws upon the individual inhabi- 
tants of the States is, a power that the Government of the 
United States can constitutionally exercise. There was one 
member of that Senate, who was no disunionist, who understood 
the President rightly, and who knew well what the Constitu- 
tion would or would not authorize. This w r as Andrew John- 
son, of Tennessee, afterwards President of the United States. 

" I do not believe," said Mr. Johnson, " the Federal Govern- 
ment has the power to coerce a State, for by the eleventh amend- 
ment of the Constitution of the United States it is expressly 
provided that you cannot even put one of the States of this 
Confederacy before one of the courts of the country as a party. 
As a State, the Federal Government has no power to coerce it ; 
but it is a member of the compact to which it agreed in com- 
mon with the other States, and this Government has the right 
to pass laws, and to enforce those laws upon individuals within 
the limits of each State. While the one proposition is clear, the 
other is equally so. This Government can, by the Constitution 
of the country, and by the laws enacted in conformity with the 
Constitution, operate upon individuals, and has the right and the 
power, not to coerce a State, but to enforce and execute the 
law upon individuals within the limits of a State." * 

It was well for the country that at this early period Mr. 
Buchanan had the wisdom to foresee and the firmness to enun- 
ciate the only doctrine that could save the Government of the 
United States from the consequences of making war upon a 
State, and at the same time enable it to suppress all insurrec- 
tionary resistance to its constitutional authority. It might suit 
the secessionists to claim that their States would become, by 
their ordinances of secession, independent nations, capable as 
such of waging war against the United States, or of having it 



* Speech iu the Senate, December 18, 1860. Congressional Globe, p. 119. 



WISE POLICY OF THE PRESIDENT. 3Q3 

waged upon them by the United States, if such was the pleas- 
ure of the latter. It might suit them to put the alternative of 
such a war against the consent of the United States to their 
peaceful renunciation of their connection with the Federal 
Government. It might suit them to confound all the distinc- 
tions between revolutionary resistance to a government because 
some actual oppression has been suffered from it, and the seces- 
sion of States from the American Union because future oppres- 
sion is to be feared. It might suit them to say that to coerce 
the individual inhabitants of a State to obey the laws of the 
United States, after the State has absolved them from that obli- 
gation by its sovereign will, is the same thing as to coerce a 
State to remain in the Union. But this was not a dispute about 
words ; it was a controversy about the substantive powers of a 
constitutional Government ; a great question of things, and of 
things drawing after them the most important consequences. If 
there was to be a w T ar, it was a matter of supreme importance 
what that war was to be, in its inception. Mr. Buchanan did 
not mean that its character, if it must come, should be obscured. 
lie did not mean that it should be a war waged aggressively by 
the United States to prevent a State from adopting an ordinance 
of what she might call secession. lie did not mean to concede 
the possibility that the Federal Government could begin or 
carry on a war against a State, as a power which could by its 
own act erect itself into a nation to be conquered and subdued 
and destroyed, as one nation may conquer, subdue and destroy 
another. Knowing that such a recognition of the potency of 
an ordinance of secession would be fatal to the future of the 
whole Union, and knowing from long study of the Constitution 
how the laws of the United States may be enforced iqion indi- 
viduals notwithstanding that their State has claimed a para- 
mount sovereignty over them, or a paramount dispensing 
power, he left upon the records of the country the clear line of 
demarcation which would have to be observed by his successor, 
and which would make the use of force, if force must be used, 
a war, not of aggression, but of defence; a war not for the con- 
quest and obliteration of a State, but a war for the assertion of 
the authority of the Constitution over the individuals subject to 
its sway. It was only by treating secession as a nullity, and by 



3G4 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

acting upon the principle that the people of a State would be 
equally bound to obey the laws of the United States after seces- 
sion as they had been before, that the President could furnish 
to Congress any principle on which force could be used. It is 
not remarkable that the secession leaders should have rejected 
his doctrine. But it is strange, passing strange, that Northern 
men should have misrepresented it. Yet there was not a 
single public man in the whole North, in all the discussion that 
followed this message, on the Republican side, who saw, or 
who, if he saw, had the candor to say, that the President had 
furnished to Congress a principle of action that would alone 
prevent secession from working the consequences which its 
advocates claimed for it, or that could prevent the conquest and 
subjugation of States as foreign nations. And now, when we 
look back upon the war that ensued, and when we measure the 
disparity of force that enabled the United States eventually to 
prevail over the exhausted Southern Confederacy, there are no 
people in the whole Union who have more cause than the seces- 
sionists themselves, to be grateful to President Buchanan for 
not having admitted the possibility of legitimate war upon the 
States that seceded ; while for the people of the whole Union 
there remains a debt of gratitude to him, for having laid down 
the principle that saved them from crushing the political autono- 
my of those States, in a war that could have had no result but 
to reduce them to the condition of subjugated provinces. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

i860— December. 

GENERAL SCOTT AGAIN ADVISES THE PRESIDENT — MAJOR ANDERSON'S 
REMOVAL FROM FORT MOULTRIE TO FORT SUMTER — ARRIVAL OF 
COMMISSIONERS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA IN WASHINGTON — THEIR 
LNTERYIEW AND COMMUNICATION WITn THE PRESIDENT — THE SUP- 
POSED PLEDGE OF THE STATUS QUO — TnE " CABINET CRISIS " OF 
DECEMBER 29TH — REPLY OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE SOUTH CARO- 
LINA COMMISSIONERS — THE ANONYMOUS DIARIST OF THE NORTH 
AMERICAN REVIEW CONFUTED. 

OK the 12th of December General Scott arrived in Wash- 
ington from New York, where he had been ill for a long 
time. Since the presentation of his " views " of October 29th- 
30th, the President had not heard from him on the subject of 
the Southern forts. On the 11th of December Major Anderson, 
then at Fort Moultrie, and in no danger of attack or molestation 
by the authorities of South Carolina, had received his instruc- 
tions from Major Buell, Assistant Adjutant General of the 
Army, who had been sent by the President expressly to Fort 
Moultrie, in order that Anderson might be guided in his course 
with reference to all probable contingencies.' 55 ' The South Caro- 
lina convention had not assembled when Anderson received his 
instructions. General Scott, on the 15th of December, had an 
interview with the President, in which he urged that three 
hundred men be sent to reinforce Anderson at Fort Moultrie. 
The President declined to give this order, for the following 
reasons : First, Anderson was fully instructed what to do in 
case he should at any time see good reason to believe that there 
was any purpose to dispossess him of any of the forts. Secondly, 
at this time, December 15th, the President believed — and the 

* The instructions will be quoted hereafter. 



3GG 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



event proved the correctness of his belief — that Anderson was 
in no danger of attack. He and his command were then treated 
with marked kindness by the authorities and people of Charles- 
ton. Thirdly, the President, in his annual message, had urged 
upon Congress measures of conciliation by the adoption of certain 
amendments of the Constitution ; and Mr. Crittenden's proposi- 
tions, of substantially the same character as those of the Presi- 
dent, called the " Crittenden Compromise," were before the 
Senate. Strong hopes were at this time entertained throughout 
the country that Congress would adopt these or some other 
measures to quiet the agitation in the South, so that South 
Carolina, in case she should " secede," would be left alone in 
her course. Under all these circumstances, to have sent addi- 
tional troops to Fort Moultrie would only have been, as Mr. 
Buchanan afterward said, " to impair the hope of compromise, 
to provoke collision and disappoint the country."* 

On the same day, General Scott sent a note to the President, 
reminding him of General Jackson's measures in regard to the 
threatened nullification of the tariff in 1833 ; an occasion, the 
circumstances of which bore little resemblance to the situation 
of the country in December, 1860, as I have already had reason 
to say in commenting on General Scott's " views " of October 
29th-30th. 

In the controversy which General Scott had with Mr. 
Buchanan in 1862, in the National Intelligencer, the General 
reported the President as saying to him, on the 15th of Decem- 
ber, 1860, among other reasons for not reinforcing Anderson at 
that time, that he should await the action of the South Carolina 
convention, in the expectation that a commission would be 
appointed and sent to negotiate with him (the President) and 
Congress, respecting the secession of the State, and the prop- 
erty of the United States within the borders of that State ; 
and that if Congress should decide against the secession, he 
would then send a reinforcement, and would telegraph to 
Anderson to hold the forts against any attack. General Scott 
made two palpable mistakes in thus representing what the 



* Sec the controversy bef.vcca General Scott and Mr. Buchanan in 1862 ; Mr. Buchanan's 
letter of October 28, 1862. 



GENERAL SCOTT ADVISES THE PRESIDENT. 3G7 

President said to him on the L5th of December, I860.* In the 

first place, as will presently appear, the President never gave 
any person or persons claiming to represent South Carolina to 
understand that he would receive a commission to negotiate 

with him for an admission of the right of secession, or for a 
surrender of the forts. In his annual message, he had most 
distinctly and emphatically declared that, as an executive oilicer, 
he had no power whatever to hold such a negotiation, hut that 
it belonged to Congress to deal with the property of the United 
States as it should see fit ; and that it was his duty to maintain 
the possession of the forts until Congress should authorize and 
direct him to surrender them. "When commissioners were sub- 
sequently appointed by the State of South Carolina, they were 
told by the President that he could not receive them in a diplo- 
matic character, and that he would not himself negotiate with 
them for a surrender of the forts. In the next place, the Presi- 
dent could not have told General Scott that he would send a 
reinforcement to Anderson in a certain contingency, and would 
then telegraph him to hold the forts. Anderson] had already 
received instructions to hold them, and had been directed how 
to act. 

Mr. Buchanan has said — and it deserves to be quoted — that 
" it is scarcely a lack of charity to infer that General Scott knew 
at the time he made this recommendation (on the loth of De- 
cember), that it must be rejected. The President could not 
have complied with it, the position of affairs remaining un- 
changed, without at once reversing his entire policy, and with- 
out a degree of inconsistency amounting almost to self-stultifi- 
cation.''' He adds : 

This, the General's second recommendation, was wholly unexpected. He 
had remained silent for more than six weeks from the date of his supplemental 
" views," convinced, as the President inferred, that he had abandoned the 
idea of garrisoning all these forts with " the five companies only " within his 
reach. Had the President never so earnestly desired to reinforce the nine 
forts in question, at this time, it would have been little short of madness to 
undertake the task with the small force at his command. Without authority 



* Mr. Buchanan said, in 1802, that he had no recollection of some of the details of ihe 
conversation imputed to him by General Scott, and that the General's memory must be 
defective. See Mr. Buchanan's letters of 1S62, in the National Intelligencer. 



368 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

to call forth the militia, or accept the services of volunteers for the purpose, 
this whole force now consisted of six hundred recruits, obtained by the Gen- 
eral since the date of his " views," in addition to the five regular companies. 
Our army was still out of reach on the remote frontiers, and could not be 
withdrawn during midwinter in time for this military operation. Indeed, the 
General had never suggested such a withdrawal. He knew that had this been 
possible, the inhabitants on our distant frontiers would have been immediately 
exposed to the tomahawk and scalping knife of the Indians. 

While be was unwilling at this moment to send reinforce- 
ments into the harbor of Charleston, and thereby to incur the 
risk of provoking the secession of other States, the President 
did not neglect the use of any means that were in his power to 
prevent the secession of South Carolina. He sent the Hon. 
Caleb Cushing to Charleston, with a letter to Governor Pickens, 
in which he said : 

From common notoriety I assume the fact that the State of South Carolina 
is now deliberating on the propriety and necessity of seceding from the 
Union. Whilst any hope remains that this may be prevented, or even re- 
tarded, so long as to enable the people of her sister States to have opportunity 
to manifest their opinion regarding the matters which may have impelled the 
State to take this step, it is my duty to exert all the means in my power to 
avoid so dread a catastrophe. I have, therefore, deemed it advisable to send 
to you the Hon. Caleb Cushing, to counsel and advise with you, in regard to 
the premises, and to communicate such information as he may possess con- 
cerning the condition of public opinion in the North touching the same. I 
need scarcely add, that I entertain full confidence in his integrity, ability, and 
prudence. He will state to you the reasons which exist to prevent, or to 
delay, the action of the State for the purpose which I have mentioned. 

But notwithstanding the efforts of the President to induce 
the authorities and people of South Carolina to await the action 
of Congress and the development of public opinion at the North 
on the recommendations of his message, events were hurrying 
on in that State with fearful rapidity. The leading spirits in 
the secession movement did not desire the success of the Presi- 
dent's recommendations. Encouraged, not by anything that 
they could find in the message, or by anything that they could 
learn of the President's intentions, but by what they had learned 
of the " views " of the General in Chief of the Federal army, 
and by other indications of the same kind, they determined to try 



THE ATTITUDE OF SOUTH CAROLINA. 3G9 

secession, in the belief that the people and Government of the 
United States would not resort to war. They initiated and con- 
ducted their measures with a supreme and lofty disregard of all 
the consequences, because they believed that they could throw 
the onus of those consequences upon the Government of the 
Union. It was in vain that they were warned by the President 
that their doctrine of secession, pushed to its results, would 
oblige him to meet their claim, by virtue of a State ordinance, 
of dispossessing the United States of the property which belonged 
to the Government, with all the means at his disposal. It is 
one of the most singular political phenomena recorded in history, 
that under such a system of Government as ours, men should 
have believed not only that a State ordinance of secession would 
dissolve all the relations between the inhabitants of that State 
and the Government of the United States, but that it would 
ipso facto transfer to the State property which the State had 
ceded to that Government by solemn deeds of conveyance. 
The principle of public law on which this claim was supposed 
to be based, involved in its application the assumption that 
South Carolina, becoming by her own declaration a nation 
foreign to the United States, was entitled to take peaceable pos- 
session of all the property which the United States held within 
her limits, and to forbid the vessels of the United States from 
entering her waters in order to reach that property. Upon any 
view of the nature of the Federal Constitution, even upon the 
theory that it was a mere league between sovereign States, dis- 
soluble in regard to any State at the will of its people, it would 
not have followed that the ordinance of dissolution would divest 
the title of the United States to their property. Yet it is an 
undeniable fact that the people and authorities of South Caro 
lina initiated and carried out their secession, upon the claim 
that their interpretation of the Federal Constitution must be 
accepted by the whole country ; that their fiat alone made them 
an independent nation ; that it divested the United States of 
whatever property the Government held within their borders ; 
and that if these claims were not submitted to, the consequence 
would be that South Carolina must make them good by all the 
power she could use. The subsequent change of attitude, by 
which it was proposed to negotiate and pay for the possession 
II— 24 



::;<> 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



of the property, or the theory that the forts were built by the 
Federal Government for the protection of the State, should not 
lead any historian to overlook the demand which the authorities 
of the State first presented at Washington, or the manner in 
which it was met by President Buchanan. 

On the 20th of December, the Convention of South Carolina, 
without a dissenting voice, adopted an ordinance of secession, 
which purported to dissolve the connection between the State 
of South Carolina and the Government of the United States. 
A copy of the ordinance, with the signatures of all the mem- 
bers, and with the great seal of the State, was formally trans- 
mitted to the President. On the 22d, three eminent citizens 
of the State, Eobert W. Barnwell, James H. Adams and James 
L. Orr, were appointed to proceed to Washington, to treat with 
the Government of the United States concerning the new rela- 
tions which the ordinance was supposed to have established 
between that Government and the people of South Carolina. 
The commissioners arrived in Washington on the 26th. On 
the next morning, intelligence reached them that on the night 
of the 25th, Major Anderson had secretly dismantled Port 
Moultrie, spiked his cannon, burnt his gun-carriages, and trans- 
ferred his troops to Fort Sumter, as if he were about to be 
attacked. This information they sent to the President. 

Before proceeding with an account of what followed this 
occurrence, in the interview between the President and the 
commissioners, this movement of Major Anderson must be 
carefully described. It has been much praised as a bold, skill- 
ful and wise act, dictated by a purpose to make the people of 
South Carolina feel that the Government of the United States 
was not to be trifled with ; and the merit of Major Anderson 
has been magnified by the suggestion that if he had been 
promptly reinforced, after the removal, he never would have 
been driven out of Fort Sumter and out of the harbor of 
Charleston. The simple truth is, that Anderson was a brave, 
vigilant and faithful officer, acting under instructions which had 
been carefully given to him, and which allowed him a consider- 
able latitude of judgment in regard to remaining in Fort Moul- 
trie or removing to any other of the forts within the limits of 
his command. He was a man of Southern birth, and all his 



ENCOUNTERING THE SECESSION MOVEMENT. 371 

sympathies were with the South on the questions pending 
between the two sections. This is avowed in a private Letter 
written by him on the 11th of January, L861, to a friend in 
Washington, a copy of which is now lying before me. But he 
was as true as steel to his military duty as an officer of the 
United States, lie had lost, as he Bays in this letter, all sym- 
pathy with the persons then governing South Carolina, and he 
had now begun to distrust the purposes of the State authorities. 
Fort Moultrie was the weakest of all the forts in that harbor 
belonging to the United States. From the erection of batteries 
on the shore which commanded this fort, and from other indi- 
cations taking place after the adoption of the secession ordi- 
nance, Anderson believed that the State authorities were .about 
to proceed to some hostile act, and therefore thought the con- 
tingency contemplated by his instructions had arrived. He 
may have been mistaken in this ; but neither the appearances 
at the time, nor the subsequent action of South Carolina, show- 
that he was so. At all events, he acted as any prudent and 
faithful officer would have acted under the same circumstances; 
and in order to be able to defend himself better than he could 
in Fort Moultrie, and with no purpose of attacking the city of 
Charleston or of making any aggression whatever, he trans- 
ferred his command to Fort Sumter. The people and authori- 
ties of South Carolina chose to consider that his occupation of 
this fort was an aggressive act, and that he must be ordered 
back again to Fort Moultrie, or be dislodged ; a demand which 
of itself shows that the State of South Carolina, in the event 
that her secession should not be submitted to by the Federal 
Government, expected a civil war and meant to be in the best 
condition to meet it. 

The intelligence of Anderson's removal to Fort Sumter was 
received by the President with surprise and regret. He was 
surprised, because all his previous information led him to believe 
that Anderson was safe at Fort Moultrie. He regretted the 
removal, because of its tendency to impel the other cotton 
States and the border States into sympathy with South Caro- 
lina, and thus to defeat the measures by which he hoped to 
confine the secession to that State. But he never for an 
instant, then or afterwards, doubted that Anderson's removal 



72 



LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 



was authorized by his instructions ; although he did not suppose 
that the authorities of the State would attack him, while their 
commissioners were on the way to Washington for the avowed 
purpose of negotiating. It is scarcely needful to discuss the 
question whether South Carolina had good reason to regard this 
movement of Anderson's as an act of aggression. In such a 
state of affairs and of men's feelings, it was to be expected that 
complaints would be made of hostile intentions, if any plausible 
reason could be found for them. But any indifferent person, 
looking back upon the events, and considering that Anderson 
was acting under a President who was doing everything in his 
power to prevent a collision of arms, must see that even if the 
President had specifically ordered the removal, it was nothing 
more than a defensive act, done in order to secure the forces of 
the Government in the occupation of its own forts, and that it 
could not have been an aggressive movement, unless it should 
be conceded that those forces had no right to be in Charleston 
harbor at all. 

But there is one assertion which it is now necessary to exam- 
ine, in relation to this removal, because it has been made the 
foundation of a charge against the personal good faith and the 
sound judgment of President Buchanan. It is the charge that 
previous to Anderson's removal, the President had pledged 
himself to preserve the status quo in Charleston harbor, until 
commissioners to be appointed by the convention of South Car- 
olina should arrive in Washington, and some result of a nego- 
tiation should be reached. The first and only interview between 
the President and the commissioners occurred on the 2Sth of 
December. What occurred should be related in the President's 
own words : 

It was under these circumstances that the President, on Friday, the 28th 
December, held his first and only interview with the commissioners from 
South Carolina. He determined to listen with patience to what they had to 
communicate, taking as little part himself in the conversation as civility would 
permit. On their introduction, he stated that he could recognize them only 
as private gentlemen and not as commissioners from a sovereign State ; that it 
was to Congress, and to Congress alone, they must appeal. He, nevertheless, 
expressed his willingness to communicate to that body, as the only competent 
tribunal, any propositions they might have to offer. They then proceeded, 



DEMANDS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA COMMISSIONERS. 373 

evident]}' under much excitement, to state their grievances arising out of the 
removal of Major Anderson to Fort Sumter, and declared that for these they 
must obtain redress preliminary to entering upon the negotiation with -which 
they had been entrusted ; that it was impossible for them to make any propo- 
sition until this removal should be satisfactorily explained; and they even 
insisted upon the immediate withdrawal of the Major and his troops, not only 
from Fort Sumter, but from the harbor of Charleston, as a sine qua non to any 
negotiation. 

In their letter to the President of the next day. they repeat their demand, 
saying ;* ''And, in conclusion, wc would urge upon you the immediate with- 
drawal of the troops from the harbor of Charleston. Under present circum- 
stances they are a standing menace which renders negotiation impossible, and, 
as our recent experience shows, threatens to bring to a bloody issue questions 
which ought to be settled with temperance and judgment." This demand, 
accompanied by an unmistakable threat of attacking Major Anderson if not 
yielded to, was of the most extravagant character. To comply with it, the 
commissioners must have known, would be impossible. Had they simply 
requested that Major Anderson might be restored to his former position at Fort 
Moultrie, upon a guarantee from the State that neither it nor the other forts 
or public property should be molested ; this, at the moment, might have been 
worthy of serious consideration. But to abandon all the forts to South Caro- 
lina, on the demand of commissioners claiming to represent her as an inde- 
pendent State, would have been a recognition, on the part of the Executive, 
of her right to secede from the Union. This was not to be thought of for a 
moment. 

The President replied to the letter of the commissioners on Monday, 31st 
December. In the meantime information had reached him that the State 
authorities, without waiting to hear from Washington, had, on the day after 
Major Anderson's removal, seized Fort Moultrie, Castle Pinckney, the custom 
house, and post office, and over them all had raised the Palmetto flag; and, 
moreover, that every officer of the customs, collector, naval officer, surveyor, 
appraisers, together with the postmaster, had resigned their appointments ; and 
that on Sunday, the 30th December, they had captured from Major Hum- 
phreys, the officer in charge, the arsenal of the United States, containing pub- 
lic property estimated to be worth half a million of dollars. The Government 
was thus expelled from all its property except Fort Sumter, and no Federal 
officers, whether civil or military, remained in the city or harbor of Charles- 
ton. The secession leaders in Congress attempted to justify these violent pro- 
ceedings of South Carolina as acts of self-defence, on the assumption that 
Major Anderson had already commenced hostilities. It is certain that their 
tone instantly changed after his removal ; and they urged its secrecy, the hour 
of the night when it was made, the destruction of his gun-carriages, and other 
attendant incidents, to inflame the passions of their followers. It was under 

* Ex. Doc, D. R., vol. vi, No. 26, p 0. 



374 LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN. 

these circumstances that the President was called upon to reply to the letter 
of the South Carolina commissioners, demanding the immediate withdrawal of 
the troops of the United States from the harbor of Charleston. In this reply, 
he peremptorily rejected the demand in firm but courteous terms, and declared 
his purpose to defend Fort Sumter by all the means in his power against hos- 
tile attacks, from whatever quarter they might proceed. (Vide his letter of the 
31st December, 1860, Ex. Doc. No. 26, H. R., 36th Congress, 2d Session, 
accompanying President's message of 8th January, 1861.) To this the com- 
missioners sent their answer, dated on the 2d January, 1861. This was so 
violent, unfounded, and disrespectful, and so regardless of what is due to any 
individual whom the people have honored with the office of President, that 
the reading of it in the cabinet excited indignation among all the members. 
With their unanimous approbation it was immediately, on the day of its date, 
returned to the commissioners with the following indorsement ; " This paper, 
just presented to the President, is of such a character, that he declines to 
receive it." Surely no negotiation was ever conducted in such a manner, 
unless, indeed, it had been the predetermined purpose of the negotiators to 
produce an open and immediate rupture. 

In the intended reply of the commissioners, dated January 
2, 1861, which the President returned to them, it was asserted 
in a variety of offensive forms that the removal of Major Ander- 
son to Fort Sumter was a violation of a pledge which the Pres- 
ident had previously given not to send reinforcements to the 
forts in Charleston harbor, and not to change their relative mil- 
itary status. The same thing had been asserted in their letter 
to the President of December 28th, and it was emphatically 
and distinctly denied in his answer of the 31st. Is it true, then, 
as a matter of fact, that such a pledge had ever been given ? 

1. By his annual message of December 3d, the President stood 
pledged to the country to exercise all his constitutional powers to 
maintain possession of the public property, in case of the secession 
of any State or States. 2. There is no possible channel through 
which the President could have given the supposed pledge of the 
status quo, excepting at an interview which took place between 
him and the South Carolina members of Congress on the 10th 
of December. If the President then gave such a pledge, it 
follows that at the end of a week from the date of his annual 
message he tied his own hands, in advance of the secession of 
that State, in a manner utterly inconsistent with the purpose 
declared in his message. 3. The circumstances attending Major 



THE SUPPOSED PLEDGE OF THE STATUS QUO. 375 

Anderson's removal from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, and 
the manner in which the President received and acted upon 
the information after it reached him and down through every 
succeeding day of his administration, repel the idea that before 
the removal he had said or done anything to warrant the author- 
ities of South Carolina in assuming that he was bound to order 
Anderson back to Fort Moultrie, or not to reinforce him at 
Fort Sumter. Anderson received his instructions on the 11th of 
December, through Assistant Adjutant General Buell, to whom 
they were given verbally by the Secretary of War, and by whom 
they -were reduced to writing, at Fort Moultrie, after lie (Buell) 
arrived there. When reduced to writing, they became the 
President's orders, by which Anderson was to be guided. The 
orders were given with reference to the following contingency: 
The President believed that, under existing circumstances, the 
State of South Carolina would not attack any of the forts in 
Charleston harbor, whilst he allowed their status quo to remain. 
But in this he might be mistaken. In order to be prepared 
for what might possibly happen after the State should have 
" seceded," the Secretary of the Navy had stationed the war 
steamer Brooklyn, in complete readiness for sea, in Hampton 
Roads, to take on board for Charleston three hundred disci- 
plined troops, with provisions and munitions of war, from the 
neighboring garrison of Fortress Monroe. In this attitude of 
the secret preparations of the Government, Anderson's instruc- 
tions were given to him, in the manner above described, and 
when they had been reduced to writing and delivered to him by 
Buell, the}' read textually as follows : 

You are aware of the great anxiety of the Secretary of War, that a collision 
of the troops with the people of the State shall bo avoided, and of his studied 
determination to pursue a course with reference to the military force and forts 
in this harbor, which shall guard against such a collision. He has, therefore, 
carefully abstained from increasing the force at this point, or taking any meas- 
ures which might add to the present excited state of the public mind, or 
which would throw any doubt on the confidence he feels that South Carolina 
will not attempt by violence to obtain possession of the public works, or inter- 
fere with their occupancy. But as the counsel and acts of rash and impulsive 
persons may possibly disappoint these expectations of the Government, he 
deems it proper that you shall be prepared with instructions to meet so un- 
happy a contingency. He has, therefore, directed me verbally to give you 



3;(j LIFE OP JAMES BUCHANAN. 

such instructions. You are carefully to avoid every act which would needlessly 
tend to provoke aggression, and for that reason you are not, without evident 
and imminent necessity, to take up any position which could be construed into 
ihe assumption of a hostile attitude, but you are to hold possession of the forts 
in this harbor, and if attacked you are to defend yourself to the last extremity. 
The smallness of your force will not permit you, perhaps, to occupy more than 
one of the three forts, but an attack on or an attempt to take possession of 
either one of them will be regarded as an act of hostility, and you may then 
put your command into either of them which you may deem most proper to 
increase its power of resistance. You are also authorized to take similar 
defensive steps whenever you have tangible evidence of a design to proceed 
to a hostile act. 

The President, when the text of the instructions reached him, 
directed the Secretary of War to modify them in one particular. 
Instead of requiring Anderson to defend himself to the last 
extremity — which was not demanded by any principle of honor 
or any military rule — he was required to defend himself until 
no reasonable hope should remain of saving the fort in which, 
he might happen to be. This modification was approved by 
General Scott. 

The instructions, therefore, under which Anderson acted, 
authorized him to remove his force to any other of the three 
forts whenever either of them should be attacked, or an attempt 
should be made to take possession of it, or whenever he might 
have tangible evidence of a design to proceed to a hostile act. 
In all this, the Government was acting on the defensive, and 
was empowering its officer to put his force into either of its 
forts where, in his judgment, his power of resistance would be 
most increased. To