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P m Stltlci W Ella Smith Elbert 


1S T « 


Katharine E. Coman 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


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1, 3, and 5 BOND STEEET. 
























The object of this work has been from historical data to 
show that the Southern States had rightfully the power to 
withdraw from a Union into which they had, as sovereign com- 
munities, voluntarily entered ; that the denial of that right was 
a violation of the letter and spirit of the compact between the 
States ; and that the war waged by the Federal Government 
against the seceding States was in disregard of the limitations 
of the Constitution, and destructive of the principles of the 
Declaration of Independence. 

The author, from his official position, may claim to have 
known much of the motives and acts of his countrymen im- 
mediately before and during the war of 1861-'65, and he has 
sought to furnish material for the future historian, who, when 
the passions and prejudices of the day shall have given place 
to reason and sober thought, may, better than a contemporary, 
investigate the causes, conduct, and results of the war. 

The incentive to undertake the work now offered to the 
public was the desire to correct misapprehensions created by 
industriously circulated misrepresentations as to the acts and 
purposes of the people and the General Government of the Con- 
federate States. By the reiteration of such unappropriate terms 
as "rebellion" and "treason," and the asseveration that the 
South was levying war against the United States, those ignorant 
of the nature of the Union, and of the reserved powers of the 
States, have been led to believe that the Confederate States 
were in the condition of revolted provinces, and that the United 


States were forced to resort to arms for the preservation of 
their existence. To those who knew that the Union was formed 
for specific enumerated purposes, and that the States had never 
surrendered their sovereignty, it was a palpable absurdity to 
apply to them, or to their citizens when obeying their mandates, 
the terms " rebellion " and " treason " ; and, further, it is shown 
in the following pages that the Confederate States, so far from 
making war or seeking to destroy the United States, as soon as 
they had an official organ, strove earnestly, by peaceful recogni- 
tion, to equitably adjust all questions growing out of the separa- 
tion from their late associates. 

Another great perversion of truth has been the arraignment 
of the men who participated in the formation of the Confederacy 
and who bore arms in its defense, as the instigators of a contro- 
versy leading to disunion. Sectional issues appear conspicuously 
in the debates of the Convention which framed the Federal 
Constitution, and its many compromises were designed to secure 
an equilibrium between the sections, and to preserve the inter- 
ests as well as the liberties of the several States. African servi- 
tude at that time was not confined to a section, but was numeri- 
cally greater in the South than in the North, with a tendency 
to its continuance in the former and cessation in the latter. It 
therefore thus early presents itself as a disturbing element, and 
the provisions of the Constitution, which were known to be 
necessary for its adoption, bound all the States to recognize and 
protect that species of property. When at a subsequent period 
there arose in the Northern States an antislavery agitation, it 
was a harmless and scarcely noticed movement until political 
demagogues seized upon it as a means to acquire power. Had 
it been left to pseudo-philanthropists and fanatics, most zealous 
where least informed, it never could have shaken the founda- 
tions of the Union and have incited one section to carry fire 
and sword into the other. That the agitation was political in 


its character, and was clearly developed as early as 1803, it is be- 
lieved has been established in these pages. To preserve a sec- 
tional equilibrium and to maintain the equality of the States 
was the effort on one side, to acquire empire was the manifest 
purpose on the other. This struggle began before the men of 
the Confederacy were born ; how it arose and how it progressed 
it has been attempted briefly to show. Its last stage was on the 
question of territorial governments ; and, if in this work it has 
not been demonstrated that the position of the South was jus- 
tified by the Constitution and the equal rights of the people of 
all the States, it must be because the author has failed to pre- 
sent the subject with a sufficient degree of force and clearness. 

In describing the events of the war, space has not per- 
mitted, and the loss of both books and papers has prevented, 
the notice of very many entitled to consideration, as well for 
the humanity as the gallantry of our men in the unequal com- 
bats they fought. These numerous omissions, it is satisfactory 
to know, the official reports made at the time and the subse- 
quent contributions which have been and are being published 
by the actors, will supply more fully and graphically than could 
have been done in this work. 

Usurpations of the Federal Government have been pre- 
sented, not in a spirit of hostility, but as a warning to the 
people against the dangers by which their liberties are beset. 
When the war ceased, the pretext on which it had been waged 
could no longer be alleged. The emancipation proclamation 
of Mr. Lincoln, which, when it was issued, he humorously ad- 
mitted to be a nullity, had acquired validity by the action of 
the highest authority known to our institutions — the people 
assembled in their several State Conventions. The soldiers of 
the Confederacy had laid down their arms, had in good faith 
pledged themselves to abstain from further hostile operations, 
and had peacefully dispersed to their homes ; there could not, 

viii PREFACE. 

then, have been further dread of them bj the Government of 
the United States. The plea of necessity could, therefore, no 
longer exist for hostile demonstration against the people and 
States of the deceased Confederacy. Did vengeance, which 
stops at the grave, subside % Did real peace and the restoration 
of the States to their former rights and positions follow, as was 
promised on the restoration of the Union % Let the recital of 
the invasion of the reserved powers of the States, or the people, 
and the perversion of the republican form of government guar- 
anteed to each State by the Constitution, answer the question. 
For the deplorable fact of the war, for the cruel manner in 
which it was waged, for the sad physical and yet sadder moral 
results it produced, the reader of these pages, I hope, "will 
admit that the South, in the forum of conscience, stands fully 

Much of the past is irremediable ; the best hope for a resto- 
ration in the future to the pristine purity and fraternity of the 
Union, rests on the opinions and character of the men who are 
to succeed this generation : that they may be suited to that 
blessed work, one, whose public course is ended, invokes them 
to draw their creed from the fountains of our political history, 
rather than from the lower stream, polluted as it has been by 
self-seeking place-hunters and by sectional strife. 




Introduction 1 



African Servitude. — -A Retrospect. — Early Legislation with Regard to the Slave- 
Trade. — The Southern States foremost in prohibiting it. — A Common Error 
corrected. — The Ethical Question never at Issue in Sectional Controversies. 
— The Acquisition of Louisiana. — The Missouri Compromise. — The Balance 
of Power. — Note. — The Indiana Case ....... 3 


The Session of 1849-50.— The Compromise Measures. — Virtual Abrogation of 
the Missouri Compromise. — The Admission of California. — The Fugitive 
Slave Law. — Death of Mr. Calhoun. — Anecdote of Mr. Clay . . .14 


Reelection to the Senate. — Political Controversies in Mississippi. — Action of 
the Democratic State Convention. — Defeat of the State-Rights Party. — 
Withdrawal of General Quitman and Nomination of the Author as Can- 
didate for the Office of Governor. — The Canvass and its Result. — Retire- 
ment to Private Life 18 


The Author enters the Cabinet. — Administration of the War Department. — Sur 
veys for a Pacific Railway. — Extension of the Capitol. — New Regiments 
organized. — Colonel Samuel Cooper, Adjutant-General. — A Bit of Civil 
Service Reform. — Reelection to the Senate.™ Continuity of the Pierce 
Cabinet. — Character of Franklin Pierce 22 


The Territorial Question. — An Incident at the White House. — The Kansas and 
Nebraska Bill. — The Missouri Compromise abrogated in 1850, not in 1854. 



— Origin of " Squatter Sovereignty." — Sectional Rivalry and its Conse- 
quences. — The Emigrant Aid Societies. — " The Bible and Sharpe's Rifles." 
— False Pretensions as to Principle. — The Strife in Kansas. — A Retro- 
spect. — The Original Equilibrium of Power and its Overthrow. — Usurpa- 
tions of the Federal Government. — The Protective Tariff. — Origin and 
Progress of Abolitionism.— Who were the Friends of the Union? — An 
Illustration of Political Morality 26 


Agitation continued. — Political Parties : their Origin, Changes, and Modifica- 
tions. — Some Account of the "Popular Sovereignty," or "Non-Interven- 
tion," Theory. — Rupture of the Democratic Party. — The John Brown Raid. 
— Resolutions introduced by the Author into the Senate on the Relations 
of the States, the Federal Government, and the Territories ; their Discus- 
sion and Adoption . . . .* 85 


A Retrospect.— Growth of Sectional Rivalry. — The Generosity of Virginia. — 
Unequal Accessions of Territory. — The Tariff and its Effects. — The Re- 
publican Convention of 1860, its Resolutions and its Nominations. — The 
Democratic Convention at Charleston, its Divisions and Disruption. — The 
Nominations at Baltimore. — The " Constitutional-Union " Party and its 
Nominees. — An Effort in Behalf of Agreement declined by Mr. Douglas. — 
The Election of Lincoln and Hamlin. — Proceedings in the South. — Evi- 
dences of Calmness and Deliberation. — Mr. Buchanan's Conservatism and 
the Weakness of his Position. — Republican Taunts. — The " New York 
Tribune," etc 47 


Conference with the Governor of Mississippi.— The Author censured as " too 
slow." — Summons to Washington. — Interview with the President. — His 
Message.— Movements in Congress.— The Triumphant Majority.— The Crit- 
tenden Proposition.— Speech of the Author on Mr. Green's Resolution. — 
The Committee of Thirteen.— Failure to agree— The " Republicans " re- 
sponsible for the Failure.— Proceedings in the House of Representatives.— 
Futility of Efforts for an Adjustment.— The Old Year closes in Clouds . 57 


Preparations for Withdrawal from the Union. — Northern Precedents.— New 
England Secessionists.— Cabot, Pickering, Quincy, etc.— On the Acquisition 
of Louisiana. — The Hartford Convention.— The Massachusetts Legislature 
on the Annexation of Texas, etc., etc *70 




False Statements of the Grounds for Separation. — Slavery not the Cause, but 
an Incident. — The Southern People not " Propagandists " of Slavery. — 
Early Accord among the States with Regard to African Servitude. — State- 
ment of the Supreme Court. — Guarantees of the Constitution. — Disregard 
of Oaths. — Fugitives from Service and the " Personal Liberty Laws." — 
Equality in the Territories the Paramount Question. — The Dred Scott 
Case. — Disregard of the Decision of the Supreme Court. — Culmination of 
Wrongs. — Despair of their Redress. — Triumph of Sectionalism . . .77 



The Original Confederation.- — " Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union." 
— Their Inadequacy ascertained. — Commercial Difficulties. — The Confer- 
ence at Annapolis. — Recommendation of a General Convention. — Resolution 
of Congress. — Action of the Several States. — Conclusions drawn therefrom 86 


The Convention of 1787. — Diversity of Opinion. — Luther Martin's Account of 
the Three Parties. — The Question of Representation. — Compromise effected. 
— Mr. Randolph's Resolutions. — The Word " National " condemned. — Plan 
of Government framed. — Difficulty with Regard to Ratification, and its 
Solution. — Provision for Secession from the Union. — Views of Mr. Gerry 
and Mr. Madison. — False Interpretations. — Close of the Convention . 94 


Ratification of the Constitution by the States. — Organization of the New Gov- 
ernment. — Accession of North Carolina and Rhode Island. — Correspondence 
between General Washington and the Governor of Rhode Island . .103 


The Constitution not adopted by one People " in the Aggregate."— A Great Fal- 
lacy exposed.— Mistake of Judge Story.— Colonial Relations.— The United 
Colonies of New England. — Other Associations. — Independence of Com- 
munities traced from Germany to Great Britain, and from Great Britain 
to America. — Mr. Everett's " Provincial People."— Origin and Continuance 
of the Title " United States."— No such Political Community as the " Peo- 
ple of the United States " 114 

The Preamble to the Constitution. — " We, the People " . . . . . 121 




The Preamble to the Constitution — subject continued. — Growth of the Federal 
Government and Accretions of Power. — Revival of Old Errors. — Mistakes 
and Misstatements. — Webster, Story, and Everett. — Who "ordained and 
established " the Constitution ? 127 


Verbal Cavils and Criticisms. — "Compact," "Confederacy," "Accession," etc. 
— The " New Vocabulary." — The Federal Constitution a Compact, and the 
States acceded to it. — Evidence of the Constitution itself and of Contem- 
porary Records . . . . . , 134 

Sovereignty 141 


The same Subject continued. — The Tenth Amendment. — Fallacies exposed. — 
" Constitution," " Government," and " People " distinguished from each 
other. — Theories refuted by Facts. — Characteristics of Sovereignty. — Sov- 
ereignty identified ; never thrown away 146 


A Recapitulation. — Remarkable Propositions of Mr. Gouverneur Morris in the 
Convention of 1787, and their Fate. — Further Testimony. — Hamilton, 
Madison, Washington, Marshall, etc. — Later Theories. — Mr. Webster : his 
Views at Various Periods. — Speech at Capon Springs. — State Rights not 
a Sectional Theory 157 


The Right of Secession. — The Law of Unlimited Partnerships.— The " Perpet- 
ual Union" of the Articles of Confederation and the "More Perfect 
Union " of the Constitution. — The Important Powers conferred upon the 
Federal Government and the Fundamental Principles of the Compact the 
same in both Systems. — The Right to resume Grants, when failing to 
fulfill their Purposes, expressly and distinctly asserted in the Adoption of 
the Constitution 168 


Coercion the Alternative to Secession. — Repudiation of it by the Constitution 
and the Fathers of the Constitutional Era. — Difference between Mr. Web- 
ster and Mr. Hamilton 177 




Some Objections considered. — The New States. — Acquired Territory. — Alle- 
giance, false and true. — Difference between Nullification and Secession. — 
Secession a Peaceable Remedy. — No Appeal to Arms. — Two Conditions 
noted . . . . . . .180 


Early Foreshadowings. — Opinions of Mr. Madison and Mr. Rufus King. — Safe- 
guards provided. — Their Failure. — State Interspoition. — The Kentucky and 
Virginia Resolutions. — Their Endorsement by the People in the Presidential 
Elections of 1800 and Ensuing Terms. — South Carolina and Mr. Calhoun. — 
The Compromise of 1833. — Action of Massachusetts in 1843-'45. — Opin- 
ions of John Quincy Adams. — Necessity for Secession . . . .185 



A Bond of Union necessary after the Declaration of Independence. — Articles of 
Confederation.— The Constitution of the United States. — The Same Prin- 
ciple for obtaining Grants of Power in both.— The Constitution an Instru- 
ment enumerating the Powers delegated.— The Power of Amendment 
merely a Power to amend the Delegated Grants.— A Smaller Power was 
required for Amendment than for a Grant. — The Power of Amendment 
is confined to Grants of the Constitution. — Limitations on the Power of 
Amendment .193 




Opening of the New Year.— The People in Advance of their Representatives.— 
Conciliatory Conduct of Southern Members of Congress.— Sensational 
Fictions.— Misstatements of the Count of Paris.— Obligations of a Senator. 
—The Southern Forts and Arsenals.— Pensacola Bay and Fort Pickens.— 
The Alleged " Caucus " and its Resolutions.— Personal Motives and Feel- 
ings.— The Presidency not a Desirable Office.— Letter from the Hon. C. 
C - Cla y 199 


Tenure of Public Property ceded by the States.— Sovereignty and Eminent Do- 
main.— Principles asserted by Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and 
other States.— The Charleston Forts.— South Carolina sends Commissioners 
to Washington.— Sudden Movement of Major Anderson.— Correspondence 



of the Commissioners with the President. — Interviews of the Author with 
Mr. Buchanan. — Major Anderson. — The Star of the West. — The President's 
Special Message. — Speech of the Author in the Senate. — Further Proceed- 
ings and Correspondence relative to Fort Sumter. — Mr. Buchanan's Rec- 
titude in Purpose and Vacillation in Action 209 


Secession of Mississippi and Other States. — Withdrawal of Senators. — Address 
of the Author on taking Leave of the Senate. — Answer to Certain Objec- 
tions 220 


Threats of Arrest. — Departure from Washington. — Indications of Public Anx- 
iety. — "Will there be War?" — Organization of the "Army of Missis- 
sippi." — Lack of Preparations for Defense in the South. — Evidences of 
the Good Faith and Peaceable Purposes of the Southern People . . 226 


Meeting of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. — Adoption of a 
Provisional Constitution. — Election of President and Vice-President. — Noti- 
fication to the Author of his Election.— His Views with Regard to it.— 
Journey to Montgomery. — Interview with Judge Sharkey. — False Reports 
of Speeches on the Way. — Inaugural Address. — Editor's Note . . . 229 

The Confederate Cabinet 241 


Early Acts of the Confederate Congress. — Laws of the United States continued 
in Force.— Officers of Customs and Revenue continued in Office. — Com- 
mission to the United States.— Navigation of the Mississippi.— Restrictions 
on the Coasting-Trade removed.— Appointment of Commissioners to Wash- 
ington . 



The Peace Conference.— Demand for " a Little Bloodletting."— Plan proposed 
by the Conference. — Its Contemptuous Reception and Treatment in the 
United States Congress.— Failure of Last Efforts at Reconciliation and Re- 
union.— Note.— Speech of General Lane, of Oregon 247 




Northern Protests against Coercion. — The " New York Tribune," Albany " Ar- 
gus," and " New York Herald." — Great Public Meeting in New York. — 
Speeches of Mr. Thayer, ex-Governor Seymour, ex-Chancellor Walworth, 
and Others. — The Press in February, 1861. — Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural. — 
The Marvelous Change or Suppression of Conservative Sentiment. — His- 
toric Precedents 251 


Temper of the Southern People indicated by the Action of the Confederate 
Congress. — The Permanent Constitution. — Modeled after the Federal Con- 
stitution. — Variations and Special Provisions. — Provisions with Regard to 
Slavery and the Slave-Trade. — A False Assertion refuted.— Excellence of 
the Constitution. — Admissions of Hostile or Impartial Criticism . . 258 


The Commission to Washington City. — Arrival of Mr. Crawford. — Mr. Bu- 
chanan's Alarm. — Note of the Commissioners to the New Administra- 
tion. — Mediation of Justices Nelson and Campbell. — The Difficulty about 
Forts Sumter and Pickens. — Mr. Secretary Seward's Assurances. — Du- 
plicity of the Government at Washington. — Mr. Fox's Visit to Charleston. 
— Secret Preparations for Coercive Measures. — Visit of Mr. Lamon. — Re- 
newed Assurances of Good Faith. — Notification to Governor Pickens. — 
Developments of Secret History. — Systematic and Complicated Perfidy 
exposed 263 


Protests against the Conduct of the Government of the United States. — 
Senator Douglas's Proposition to evacuate the Forts, and Extracts from 
his Speech in Support of it. — General Scott's Advice. — Manly Letter of 
Major Anderson, protesting against the Action of the Federal Govern- 
ment. — Misstatements of the Count of Paris. — Correspondence relative to 
Proposed Evacuation of the Fort. — A Crisis 281 


A Pause and a Review. — Attitude of the Two Parties. — Sophistry exposed and 
Shams torn away. — Forbearance of the Confederate Government. — Who 
was the Aggressor ? — Major Anderson's View, and that of a Naval Officer. 
— Mr. Horace Greeley on the Fort Sumter Case. — The Bombardment and 
Surrender. — Gallant Action of ex-Senator Wigfall. — Mr. Lincoln's State- 
ment of the Case 289 





Failure of the Peace Congress. — Treatment of the Commissioners. — Their 
Withdrawal. — Notice of an Armed Expedition. — Action of the Confed- 
erate Government. — Bombardment and Surrender of Fort Sumter. — Its 
Pteduction required by the Exigency of the Case. — Disguise thrown off. — 
President Lincoln's Call for Seventy-five Thousand Men. — His Fiction of 
" Combinations." — Palpable Violation of the Constitution.^— Action of Vir- 
ginia. — Of Citizens of Baltimore. — The Charge of Precipitation against 
South Carolina. — Action of the Confederate Government. — The Universal 
Feeling 296 


The Supply of Arms ; of Men. — Love of the Union. — Secessionists few. — Efforts 
to prevent the Final Step. — Views of the People. — Effect on their Agri- 
culture. — Aid from African Servitude. — Answer to the Clamors on the Hor- 
rors of Slavery. — Appointment of a Commissary-General. — His Character 
and Capacity. — Organization, Instruction, and Equipment of the Army. — 
Action of Congress. — The Law. — Its Signification. — The nope of a Peace- 
ful Solution early entertained ; rapidly diminished. — Further Action of 
Congress. — Policy of the Government for Peace. — Position of Officers of 
United States Army. — The Army of the States, not of the Government. — 
The Confederate Law observed by the Government.— Officers retiring from 
United States Army. — Organization of Bureaus 301 


Commissioners to purchase Arms and Ammunition. — My Letter to Captain 
Semmes. — Resignations of Officers of United States Navy. — Our Destitu- 
tion of Accessories for the Supply of Naval Vessels. — Secretary Mallory. — 
Food-Supplies. — The Commissariat Department. — The Quartermaster's De- 
partment.— The Disappearance of Delusions.— The Supply of Powder.— 
Saltpeter.— Sulphur. — Artificial Niter-Beds. — Services of General G. W. 
Rains. — Destruction at Harper's Ferry of Machinery. — The Master Ar- 
morer. — Machinery secured.— Want of Skillful Employees.— Difficulties 
encountered by Every Department of the Executive Branch of the Gov- 
ernment . . . . . . • • • • • • .311 


The Proclamation for Seventy-five Thousand Men by President Lincoln further 
examined. — The Reasons presented by him to Mankind for the Justification 
of his Conduct shown to be Mere Fictions, having no Relation to the Ques- 
tion.— What is the Value of Constitutional Liberty, of Bills of Rights, of 



Limitations of Powers, if they may be transgressed at Pleasure ? — Secession 
of South Carolina. — Proclamation of Blockade. — Session of Congress at 
Montgomery. — Extracts from the President's Message. — Acts of Con- 
gress. — Spirit of the People. — Secession of Border States. — Destruction of 
United States Property by Order of President Lincoln , . .319 


Maryland first approached by Northern Invasion. — Denies to United States 
Troops the Right of Way across her Domain. — Mission of Judge Handy. — 
Views of Governor Hicks. — His Proclamation. — Arrival of Massachusetts 
Troops at Baltimore. — Passage through the City disputed. — Activity of 
the Police. — Burning of Bridges. — Letter of President Lincoln to the 
Governor. — Visited by Citizens. — Action of the State Legislature. — Occu- 
pation of the Relay House. — The City Arms surrendered. — City in Pos- 
session of United States Troops. — Remonstrances of the City to the Pas- 
sage of Troops disregarded. — Citizens arrested; also, Members of the 
Legislature. — Accumulation of Northern Forces at Washington.— Invasion 
of West Virginia by a Force under McClellan. — Attack at Philippi; at 
Laurel Hill. — Death of General Garnett ....... 330 


Removal of the Seat of Government to Richmond. — Message to Congress at 
Richmond. — Confederate Forces in Virginia.— Forces of the Enemy. — Let- 
ter to General Johnston. — Combat at Bethel Church. — Affair at Romney. — 
Movements of McDowell. — Battle of Manassas 339 


Conference with the Generals after the Battle. — Order to pursue the Enemy. — 
Evidences of a Thorough Rout. — "Sweet to die for such a Cause." — 
Movements of the Next Day. — What more it was practicable to do. — Charge 
against the President of preventing the Capture of Washington. — The 
Failure to pursue. — Reflection on the President. — General Beauregard's 
Report. — Endorsement upon it. — Strength of the Opposing Forces. — Ex- 
tracts relating to the Battle, from the Narrative of General Early. — Resolu- 
tions of Congress. — Efforts to increase the Efficiency of the Army . . 352 


The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-99. — Their Influence on Political Affairs. — 
Kentucky declares for Neutrality. — Correspondence of Governor Magoffin 
with the President of the United States and the President of the Con- 
federate States. — Occupation of Columbus, Kentucky, by Major-General 
Polk. — His Correspondence with the Kentucky Commissioners. — President 

xviii CONTENTS. 


Lincoln's View of Neutrality. — Acts of the United States Government. — 
Refugees. — Their Motives of Expatriation. — Address of ex-Vice-President 
Breckinridge to the People of the State. — The Occupation of Columbus 
secured. — The Purpose of the United States Government. — Battle of Bel- 
mont. — Albert Sidney Johnston commands the Department. — State of 
Affairs. — Line of Defense. — Efforts to obtain Arms ; also Troops . . 385 


The Coercion of Missouri. — Answers of the Governors of States to President 
Lincoln's Requisition for Troops. — Restoration of Forts Caswell and 
Johnson to the United States Government. — Condition of Missouri similar 
to that of Kentucky. — Hostilities, how initiated in Missouri. — Agreement 
between Generals Price and Harney. — Its Favorable Effects. — General 
Harney relieved of Command by the United States Government because of 
his Pacific Policy. — Removal of Public Arms from Missouri. — Searches 
for and Seizure of Arms. — Missouri on the Side of Peace. — Address of Gen- 
eral Price to the People. — Proclamation of Governor Jackson. — Humiliating 
Concessions of the Governor to the United States Government, for the Sake 
of Peace. — Demands of the Federal Officers. — Revolutionary Principles at- 
tempted to be enforced by the United States Government. — The Action 
at Booneville. — The Patriot Army of Militia. — Further Rout of the Enemy. 
— Heroism and Self-sacrifice of the People. — Complaints and Embarrass- 
ments. — Zeal : its Effects. — Action of Congress. — Battle of Springfield. — 
General Price. — Battle at Lexington. — Bales of Hemp. — Other Combats . 410 


Brigadier-General Henry A. Wise takes Command in Western Virginia. — His 
Movements. — Advance of General John B. Floyd. — Defeats the Enemy. — 
Attacked by Rosecrans. — Controversy between Wise alid Floyd. — General 
R. E. Lee takes the Command in West Virginia. — Movement on Cheat 
Mountain. — Its Failure. — Further Operations. — Winter Quarters. — Lee sent 
to South Carolina 432 


The Issue. — The American Idea of Government. — Who was responsible for 
the War ? — Situation of Virginia. — Concentration of the Enemy against 
Richmond. — Our Difficulty. — Unjust Criticisms. — The Facts set forth. — 
Organization of the Army. — Conference at Fairfax Court-House. — Inaction 
of the Army. — Capture of Romney. — Troops ordered to retire to the Val- 
ley. — Discipline. — General Johnston regards his Position as unsafe. — The 
First Policy. — Retreat of General Johnston. — The Plans of the Enemy. — 
Our Strength magnified by the Enemy. — Stores destroyed. — The Trent 
Affair 438 




Supply of Arms at the Beginning of the War ; of Powder; of Batteries; of other 
Articles. — Contents of Arsenals. — Other Stores, Mills, etc. — First Efforts to 
obtain Powder, Niter, and Sulphur. — Construction of Mills commenced. — 
Efforts to supply Arms, Machinery, Field-Artillery, Ammunition, Equip- 
ment, and Saltpeter. — Results in 1882. — Government Powder-Mills ; how 
organized. — Success. — Efforts to obtain Lead. — Smelting- Works. — Troops, 
how armed. — Winter of 1862. — Supplies. — Niter and Mining Bureau. — 
Equipment of First Armies. — Receipts by Blockade-Runners. — Arsenal at 
Richmond. — Armories at Richmond and Fayetteville. — A Central Labor- 
atory built at Macon. — Statement of General Gorgas.— Northern Charge 
against General Floyd answered. — Charge of Slowness against the Presi- 
dent answered. — Quantities of Arms purchased that could not be shipped 
in 1861.— Letter of Mr. Huse 471 


Extracts from my Inaugural. — Our Financial System. — Receipts and Expen- 
ditures of the First Year. — Resources, Loans, and Taxes. — Loans autho- 
rized. — Notes and Bonds. — Funding Notes. — Treasury Notes guaranteed by 
the States. — Measure to reduce the Currency. — Operation of the General 
System. — Currency fundable. — Taxation. — Popular Aversion. — Compulsory 
Reduction of the Currency. — Tax Law. — Successful Result. — Financial 
Condition of the Government at its Close. — Sources whence Revenue was 
derived. — Total Public Debt. — System of Direct Taxes and Revenue. — The 
Tariff. — War-Tax of Fifty Cents on a Hundred Dollars. — Property subject 
to it. — Every Resource of the Country to be reached. — Tax paid by the 
States mostly. — Obstacle to the taking of the Census. — The Foreign Debt. 
— Terms of the Contract. — Premium. — False Charge against me of Repu- 
diation. — Facts stated. — The Tariff : its History and Oppressiveness . 484 


Military Laws and Measures.— Agricultural Products diminished.— Manufactures 
flourishing.— The Call for Volunteers.— The Term of Three Years.— Im- 
proved Discipline.— The Law assailed.— Important Constitutional Question 
raised.— Its Discussion at Length.— Power of the Government over its own 
Armies and the Militia.— Object of Confederations.— The War-Powers 
granted.— Two Modes of raising Armies in the Confederate States.— Is the 
Law necessary and proper ?— Congress is the Judge under the Grant of 
Specific Power.— What is meant by Militia.— Whole Military Strength 
divided into Two Classes.— Powers of Congress.— Objections answered.— 
Good Effects of the Law.— The Limitations enlarged.— Results of the Op- 
erations of these Laws.— Act for the Employment of Slaves.— Message to 
Congress.—" Died of a Theory."— Act to use Slaves as Soldiers passed.— 
Not Time to put it in Operation , gQS 





Speech of the Author on the Oregon Question 521 


Extracts from Speeches of the Author on the Eesolutions of Compromise pro- 
posed by Mr. Clay 528 

On the Reception of a Memorial from Inhabitants of Pennsylvania and Dela- 
ware, praying that Congress would adopt Measures for an Immediate and 
Peaceful Dissolution of the Union 532 

On the Resolutions of Mr. Clay relative to Slavery in the Territories . . 533 


Speech of the Author on the Message of the President of the United States, 

transmitting to Congress the " Lecompton Constitution " of Kansas . . 541 


Address of the Author to Citizens of Portland, Maine 546 

Address of the Author at a Public Meeting in Faneuil Hall, Boston ; with the 

Introductory Remarks by Caleb Cushing 550 


Speech of the Author in the Senate, on the Resolutions relative to the Rela- 
tions of the States, the Federal Government, and the Territories . .569 


Correspondence between the Commissioners of South Carolina and the Presi- 
dent of the United States (Mr. Buchanan), relative to the Forts in the 
Harbor of Charleston C9 1 


Speech of the Author on a Motion to print the Special Message of the Presi- 
dent of the United States of January 9, 1861 603 


Correspondence and Extracts from Correspondence relative to Fort Sumter, 
from the Affair of the Star of the" West, January 9, 1861, to the With- 
drawal of the Envoy of South Carolina from Washington, February 8, 1861, 624 




The Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States, adopted February 8, 

1861 640 

The Constitution of the United States and the Permanent Constitution of the 

Confederate States, in Parallel Columns 648 


Correspondence between the Confederate Commissioners, Mr. Secretary Sew- 
ard, and Judge Campbell 675 


Jeffeeson Davis, aged Thiety-two „ . . Frontispiece 

J. 0. Calhoun ...... Face page 17 

Beiaefield, Eaely Residence of Me. Dayis ... 20 

The Fiest Confedeeate Cabinet . . . . 242 

Alexandee H. Stephens . . . . . .258 

Geneeal P. G. T. Beaueegaed ..... 288 

Membees of Peesident's Staff ..... 348 

Geneeal A. S. Johnston . . . . . . 405 

Geneeal Robeet E. Lee . . . . . . 506 

Battle of Manassas (Map) ...... 382 


A duty to my countrymen ; to the memory of those who 
died in defense of a cause consecrated by inheritance, as well 
as sustained by conviction ; and to those who, perhaps less for- 
tunate, staked all, and lost all, save life and honor, in its behalf, 
has impelled me to attempt the vindication of their cause and 
conduct. For this purpose I have decided to present an histori- 
cal sketch of the events which preceded and attended the strug- 
gle of the Southern States to maintain their existence and their 
rights as sovereign communities — the creators, not the crea- 
tures, of the General Government. 

The social problem of maintaining the just relation between 
constitution, government, and people, has been found so diffi- 
cult, that human history is a record of unsuccessful efforts to 
establish it. A government, to afford the needful protection 
and exercise proper care for the welfare of a people, must have 
homogeneity in its constituents. It is this necessity which has 
divided the human race into separate nations, and finally has 
defeated the grandest efforts which conquerors have made to 
give unlimited extent to their domain. When our fathers dis- 
solved their connection with Great Britain, by declaring them- 
selves free and independent States, they constituted thirteen 
separate communities, and were careful to assert and preserve, 
each for itself, its sovereignty and jurisdiction. 

At a time when the minds of men are straying far from the 
lessons our fathers taught, it seems proper and well to recur to 
the original principles on which the system of government they 
devised was founded. The eternal truths which they announced, 
the rights which they declared " unalienable" are the foundation- 
stones on which rests the vindication of the Confederate cause. 


He must have been a careless reader of our political history 
who has not observed that, whether under the style of " United 
Colonies " or " United States," which was adopted after the Dec- 
laration of Independence, whether under the articles of Confed- 
eration or the compact of Union, there everywhere appears the 
distinct assertion of State sovereignty, and nowhere the slightest 
suggestion of any purpose on the part of the States to consolidate 
themselves into one body. Will any candid, well-informed man 
assert that, at any time between 1776 and 1790, a proposition to 
surrender the sovereignty of the States and merge them in a 
central government would have had the least possible chance 
of adoption ? Can any historical fact be more demonstrable 
than that the States did, both in the Confederation and in the 
Union, retain their sovereignty and independence as distinct 
communities, voluntarily consenting to federation, but never 
becoming the fractional parts of a nation ? That such opinions 
should find adherents in our day, may be attributable to the 
natural law of aggregation ; surely not to a conscientious regard 
for the terms of the compact for union by the States. 

In all free governments the constitution or organic law is 
supreme over the government, and in our Federal Union this 
was most distinctly marked by limitations and prohibitions 
against all which was beyond the expressed grants of power 
to the General Government. In the foreground, therefore, I 
take the position that those who resisted violations of the com- 
pact were the true friends, and those who maintained the usur- 
pation of undelegated powers were the real enemies of the con- 
stitutional Union. 



African Servitude. — A Retrospect. — Early Legislation with Regard to the Slave- 
Trade. — The Southern States foremost in prohibiting it. — A Common Error 
corrected. — The Ethical Question never at Issue in Sectional Controversies. — 
The Acquisition of Louisiana. — The Missouri Compromise. — The Balance of 
Power. — Note. — The Indiana Case. 

Inasmuch as questions growing out of the institution of 
negro servitude, or connected with it, will occupy a conspicuous 
place in what is to follow, it is important that the reader should 
have, in the very outset, a right understanding of the true nature 
and character of those questions. No subject has been more 
generally misunderstood or more persistently misrepresented. 
The institution itself has ceased to exist in the United States ; 
the generation, comprising all who took part in the controversies 
to which it gave rise, or for which it afforded a pretext, is pass- 
ing away ; and the misconceptions which have prevailed in our 
own country, and still more among foreigners remote from the 
field of contention, are likely to be perpetuated in the mind of 
posterity, unless corrected before they become crystallized by 
tacit acquiescence. 

It is well known that, at the time of the adoption of the 
Federal Constitution, African servitude existed in all the States 
that were parties to that compact, unless with the single excep- 
tion of Massachusetts, in which it had, perhaps, very recently 
ceased to exist. The slaves, however, were numerous in the 
Southern, and very few in the Northern, States. This diversity 
was occasioned by differences of climate, soil, and industrial 


interests — not in any degree by moral considerations, which at 
that period were not recognized as an element in the question. 
It was simply because negro labor was more profitable in the 
South than in the North that the importation of negro slaves 
had been, and continued to be, chiefly directed to the Southern 
ports.* For the same reason slavery was abolished by the States 
of the Northern section (though it existed in several of them for 
more than fifty years after the adoption of the Constitution), 
while the importation of slaves into the South continued to be 
carried on by Northern merchants and Northern ships, without 
interference in the traffic from any quarter, until it was pro- 
hibited by the spontaneous action of the Southern States them- 

The Constitution expressly forbade any interference by Con- 
gress with the slave-trade — or, to use its own language, with the 
" migration or importation of such persons " as any of the States 
should think proper to admit — " prior to the year 1808." Dur- 
ing the intervening period of more than twenty years, the mat- 
ter was exclusively under the control of the respective States. 
Nevertheless, every Southern State, without exception, either 
had already enacted, or proceeded to enact, laws forbidding the 
importation of slaves.f Yirginia was the first of all the States, 

* It will be remembered that, during her colonial condition, Virginia made stren- 
uous efforts to prevent the importation of Africans, and was overruled by the Crown ; 
also, that Georgia, under Oglethorpe, did prohibit the introduction of African slaves 
until 1*752, when the proprietors surrendered the charter, and the colony became a 
part of the royal government, and enjoyed the same privileges as the other colonies. 

f South Carolina subsequently (in 1803) repealed her law forbidding the importa- 
tion of slaves. The reason assigned for this action was the impossibility of enforc- 
ing the law without the aid of the Federal Government, to which entire control of 
the revenues, revenue police, and naval forces of the country had been surrendered 
by the States. " The geographical situation of our country," said Mr. Lowndes, of 
South Carolina, in the House of Representatives on February 14, 1804, " is not un- 
known. With navigable rivers running into the heart of it, it was impossible, with 
our means, to prevent our Eastern brethren .... engaged in this trade, from intro- 
ducing them [the negroes] into the country. The law was completely evaded. . . . 
Under these circumstances, sir, it appears to me to have been the duty of the Legis- 
lature to repeal the law, and remove from the eyes of the people the spectacle of its 
authority being daily violated." 

The effect of the repeal was to permit the importation of negroes into South 
Carolina during the interval from 1803 to 1808. It is probable that an extensive 


North or South, to prohibit it, and Georgia was the first to incor- 
porate such a prohibition in her organic Constitution. 

Two petitions for the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade 
were presented February 11 and 12, 1790, to the very first Con- 
gress convened under the Constitution.* After full discussion 
in the House of Representatives, it was determined, with regard 
to the first-mentioned subject, " that Congress have no authority 
to interfere in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of 
them within any of the States " ; and, with regard to the other, 
that no authority existed to prohibit the migration or importa- 
tion of such persons as the States might think proper to admit, 
" prior to the year 1808." So distinct and final was this state- 
ment of the limitations of the authority of Congress considered 
to be that, when a similar petition was presented two or three 
years afterward, the Clerk of the House was instructed to return 
it to the petitioner.f 

In 1807, Congress, availing itself of the very earliest moment 
at which the constitutional restriction ceased to be operative, 
passed an act prohibiting the importation of slaves into any part 
of the United States from and after the first day of January, 
1808. This act was passed with great unanimity. In the House 
of Representatives there were one hundred and thirteen (113) 
yeas to five (5) nays ; and it is a significant fact, as showing the 
absence of any sectional division of sentiment at that period, 
that the dissentients were divided as equally as possible be- 
tween the two sections : two of them were from Northern and 
three from Southern States. J 

The slave-trade had thus been finally abolished some months 
before the birth of the author of these pages, and has never 

contraband trade was carried on by the New England slavers with other ports, on ac- 
count of the lack of means to enforce the laws of the Southern States forbidding it. 

* One from the Society of Friends assembled at Philadelphia and New York, the 
other from the Pennsylvania society of various religious denominations combined for 
the abolition of slavery. 

For report of the debate, see Benton's "Abridgment," vol. i, pp. 201-207, et seq. 

f Sec Benton's " Abridgment," vol. i, p. 397. 

% One was from New Hampshire, one from Vermont, two from Virginia, and 
one from South Carolina. — (Benton's " Abridgment," vol. iii, p. 519.) 

No division on the final vote in the Senate. 


since had legal existence in any of the United States. The ques- 
tion of the maintenance or extinction of the system of negro 
servitude, already existing in any State, was one exclusively be- 
longing to such State. It is obvious, therefore, that no subse- 
quent question, legitimately arising in Federal legislation, could 
properly have any reference to the merits or the policy of the 
institution itself. A few zealots in the North afterward cre- 
ated much agitation by demands for the abolition of slavery 
within the States by Federal intervention, and by their activity 
and perseverance finally became a recognized party, which, hold- 
ing the balance of power between the two contending organiza- 
tions in that section, gradually obtained the control of one, and 
to no small degree corrupted the other. The dominant idea, 
however, at least of the absorbed party, was sectional aggran- 
dizement, looking to absolute control, and theirs is the respon- 
sibility for the war that resulted. 

No moral nor sentimental considerations were really involved 
in either the earlier or later controversies which so long agitated 
and finally ruptured the Union. They were simply struggles 
between different sections, with diverse institutions and interests. 

It is absolutely requisite, in order to a right understanding of 
the history of the country, to bear these truths clearly in mind. 
The phraseology of the period referred to will otherwise be es- 
sentially deceptive. The antithetical employment of such terms 
m freedom and slavery, or "anti-slavery" and " pro-slavery," with 
reference to the principles and purposes of contending parties 
or rival sections, has had immense influence in misleading the 
opinions and sympathies of the world. The idea of freedom is 
captivating, that of slavery repellent to the moral sense of man- 
kind in general. It is easy, therefore, to understand the effect 
of applying the one set of terms to one party, the other to an- 
other, in a contest which had no just application whatever to the 
essential merits of freedom or slavery. Southern statesmen may 
perhaps have been too indifferent to this consideration — in their 
ardent pursuit of principles, overlooking the effects of phrases. 

This is especially true with regard to that familiar but most 
fallacious expression, " the extension of slavery." To the reader 
unfamiliar with the subject, or viewing it only on the surface, 


it would perhaps never occur that, as used in the great contro- 
versies respecting the Territories of the United States, it does 
not, never did, and never could, imply the addition of a single 
slave to the number already existing. The question was merely 
whether the slaveholder should be permitted to go, with his 
slaves, into territory (the common property of all) into which 
the non-slaveholder could go with his property of any sort. 
There was no proposal nor desire on the part of the Southern 
States to reopen the slave-trade, which they had been foremost 
in suppressing, or to add to the number of slaves. It was a 
question of the distribution, or dispersion, of the slaves, rather 
than of the " extension of slavery." Removal is not extension. 
Indeed, if emancipation was the end to be desired, the dispersion 
of the negroes over a wider area among additional Territories, 
eventually to become States, and in climates unfavorable to slave- 
labor, instead of hindering, would have promoted this object by 
diminishing the difficulties in the way of ultimate emancipation. 

The distinction here defined between the distribution, or dis- 
persion, of slaves and the extension of slavery — two things 
altogether different, although so generally confounded — was 
early and clearly drawn under circumstances and in a connec- 
tion which justify a fuller notice. 

Yirginia, it is well known, in the year 1784:, ceded to the 
United States — then united only by the original Articles of 
Confederation — her vast possessions northwest of the Ohio, 
from which the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, 
Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota, have since been formed. In 
1787 — before the adoption of the Federal Constitution — the 
celebrated " Ordinance " for the government of this Northwest- 
ern Territory was adopted by the Congress, with the full con- 
sent, and indeed at the express instance, of Virginia. This Or- 
dinance included six definite " Articles of compact between the 
original States and the people and States in the said Territory," 
which were to " for ever remain unalterable unless by common 
consent." The sixth of these articles ordains that " there shall 
be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Terri- 
tory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the 
party shall have been duly convicted." 


In December, 1805, a petition of the Legislative Council 
and House of Representatives of the Indiana Territory — then 
comprising all the area now occupied by the States of Indiana, 
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin — was presented to Congress. 
It appears from the proceedings of the House of Representatives 
that several petitions of the same purport from inhabitants of 
the Territory, accompanied by a letter from William Henry 
Harrison, the Governor (afterward President of the United 
States), had been under consideration nearly. two years earlier. 
The prayer of these petitions was for a suspension of the sixth 
article of the Ordinance, so as to permit the introduction of 
slaves into the Territory. The whole subject was referred to a 
select committee of seven members, consisting of representatives 
from Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Kentucky, 
and New York, and the delegate from the Indiana Territory. 

On the 14th of the ensuing February (1806), this committee 
made a report favorable to the prayer of the petitioners, and 
recommending a suspension of the prohibitory article for ten 
years. In their report the committee, after stating their opinion 
that a qualified suspension of the article in question would be 
beneficial to the people of the Indiana Territory, proceeded to 

" The suspension of this article is an object almost universally 
desired in that Territory. It appears to your committee to be a 
question entirely different from that between slavery and freedom, 
inasmuch as it would merely occasion the removal of persons, al- 
ready slaves, from one part of the country to another. The good 
effects of this suspension, in the present instance, would be to 
accelerate the population of that Territory, hitherto retarded by 
the operation of that article of compact ; as slaveholders emigrat- 
ing into the Western country might then indulge any preference 
which they might feel for a settlement in the Indiana Territory, 
instead of seeking, as they are now compelled to do, settlements 
in other States or countries permitting the introduction of slaves. 
The condition of the slaves themselves would be much ameliorated 
by it, as it is evident, from experience, that the more they are 
separated and diffused the more care and attention are bestowed 
on them by their masters, each proprietor having it in his power 


to increase their comforts and conveniences in proportion to the 
smallness of their numbers." 

These were the dispassionate utterances of representatives of 
every part of the Union — men contemporary with the origin of 
the Constitution, speaking before any sectional division had 
arisen in connection with the subject. It is remarkable that the 
very same opinions which they express and arguments which 
they adduce had, fifty years afterward, come to be denounced 
and repudiated by one half of the Union as partisan and sec- 
tional when propounded by the other half. 

No final action seems to have been taken on the subject 
before the adjournment of Congress, but it was brought for- 
ward at the next session in a more imposing form. On the 20th 
of January, 1807, the Speaker laid before the House of Repre- 
sentatives a letter from Governor Harrison, inclosing certain 
resolutions formally and unanimously adopted by the Legisla- 
tive Council and House of Representatives of the Indiana Ter- 
ritory, in favor of the suspension of the sixth article of the 
Ordinance and the introduction of slaves into the Territory, 
which they say would "meet the approbation of at least nine 
tenths of the good citizens of the same." Among the resolu- 
tions were the following : 

" Resolved unanimously, That the abstract question of liberty 
and slavery is not considered as involved in a suspension of the 
said article, inasmuch as the number of slaves in the United States 
would not be augmented by this measure. 

" Resolved unanimously, That the suspension of the said arti- 
cle would be equally advantageous to the Territory, to the States 
from whence the negroes would be brought, and to the negroes 
themselves. . . . 

" The States which are overburdened with negroes would be 
benefited by their citizens having an opportunity of disposing of 
the negroes which they can not comfortably support, or of remov- 
ing with them to a country abounding with all the necessaries of 
life ; and the negro himself would exchange a scanty pittance of 
the coarsest food for a plentiful and nourishing diet, and a situ- 
ation which admits not the most distant prospect of emancipation 
for one which presents no considerable obstacle to his wishes." 


These resolutions were submitted to a committee drawn, like 
the former, from different sections of the country, which again 
reported favorably, reiterating in substance the reasons given by 
the former committee. Their report was sustained by the House, 
and a resolution to suspend the prohibitory article was adopted. 
The proposition failed, however, in the Senate, and there the 
matter seems to have been dropped. The proceedings consti- 
tute a significant and instructive episode in the political history 
of the country. 

The allusion which has been made to the Ordinance of 1787, 
renders it proper to notice, very briefly, the argument put for- 
ward during the discussion of the Missouri question, and often 
repeated since, that the Ordinance afforded a precedent in sup- 
port of the claim of a power in Congress to determine the ques- 
tion of the admission of slaves into the Territories, and in justifi- 
cation of the prohibitory clause applied in 1820 to a portion of 
the Louisiana Territory. 

The difference between the Congress of the Confederation 
and that of the Federal Constitution is so broad that the action 
of the former can, in no just sense, be taken as a precedent for 
the latter. The Congress of the Confederation represented the 
States in their sovereignty, each delegation having one vote, so 
that all the States were of equal weight in the decision of any 
question. It had legislative, executive, and in some degree ju- 
dicial powers, thus combining all departments of government in 
itself. During its recess a committee known as the Committee 
of the States exercised the powers of the Congress, which was 
in spirit, if not in fact, an assemblage of the States. 

On the other hand, the Congress of the Constitution is only 
the legislative department of the General Government, with 
powers strictly defined and expressly limited to those delegated 
by the States. It is further held in check by an executive and 
a judiciary, and consists of two branches, each having peculiar 
and specified functions. 

If, then, it be admitted — which is at least very questionable — 
that the Congress of the Confederation had rightfully the power 
to exclude slave property from the territory northwest of the 
Ohio River, that power must have been derived from its charac- 

1807] ORDINANCE OF 1787. H 

ter as an assemblage of the sovereign States ; not from the Arti- 
cles of Confederation, in which no indication of the grant of 
authority to exercise such a function can be found. The Con- 
gress of the Constitution is expressly prohibited from the as- 
sumption of any power not distinctly and specifically delegated 
to it as the legislative branch of an organized government. 
What was questionable in the former case, therefore, becomes 
clearly inadmissible in the latter. 

But there is yet another material distinction to be observed. 
The States, owners of what was called the Northwestern Terri- 
tory, were component members of the Congress which adopted 
the Ordinance for its government, and gave thereto their full 
and free consent. The Ordinance may, therefore, be regarded 
as virtually a treaty between the States which ceded and those 
which received that extensive domain. In the other case, Mis- 
souri and the whole region affected by the Missouri Compro- 
mise, were parts of the territory acquired from France under the 
name of Louisiana ; and, as it requires two parties to make or 
amend a treaty, France and the Government of the United 
States should have cooperated in any amendment of the treaty 
by which Louisiana had been acquired, and which guaranteed 
to the inhabitants of the ceded territory " all the rights, advan- 
tages, and immunities of citizens of the United States," and " the 
free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion they 
profess." — (" State Papers," vol. ii, " Foreign Eelations," p. 507.) 

For all the reasons thus stated, it seems to me conclusive 
that the action of the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 
could not constitute a precedent to justify the action of the 
Congress of the United States in 1820, and that the prohibitory 
clause of the Missouri Compromise was without constitutional 
authority, in violation of the rights of a part of the joint owners 
of the territory, and in disregard of the obligations of the treaty 
with France. 

The basis of sectional controversy was the question of the 
balance of political power. In its earlier manifestations this 
was undisguised. The purchase of the Louisiana Territory from 
France in 1803, and the subsequent admission of a portion of 
that Territory into the Union as a State, afforded one of the 


earliest occasions for the manifestation of sectional jealousy, 
and gave rise to the first threats, or warnings (which proceeded 
from !New England), of a dissolution of the Union. Yet, 
although negro slavery existed in Louisiana, no pretext was 
made of that as an objection to the acquisition. The ground 
of opposition is frankly stated in a letter of that period from 
one Massachusetts statesman to another — " that the influence of 
our part of the Union must be diminished by the acquisition of 
more weight at the other extremity." * 

Some years afterward (in 1819-20) occurred the memorable 
contest with regard to the admission into the Union of Missouri, 
the second State carved out of the Louisiana Territory. The 
controversy arose out of a proposition to attach to the admis- 
sion of the new State a proviso prohibiting slavery or involun- 
tary servitude therein. The vehement discussion that ensued 
was continued into the first session of a different Congress from 
that in which it originated, and agitated the whole country dur- 
ing the interval between the two. It was the first question that 
ever seriously threatened the stability of the Union, and the 
first in which the sentiment of opposition to slavery in the ab- 
stract was introduced as an adjunct of sectional controversy. 
It was clearly shown in debate that such considerations were 
altogether irrelevant ; that the number of existing slaves would 
not be affected by their removal from the older States to Mis- 
souri; and, moreover, that the proposed restriction would be 
contrary to the spirit, if not to the letter, of the Constitution. •)- 
Notwithstanding all this, the restriction was adopted, by a vote 
almost strictly sectional, in the House of Representatives. It 
failed in the Senate through the firm resistance of the Southern, 
aided by a few patriotic and conservative Northern, members 
of that body. The admission of the new State, without any 

* Cabot to Pickering, who was then Senator from Massachusetts. — (See " Life 
and Letters of George Cabot," by H. C. Lodge, p. 334.) 

f The true issue was well stated by the Hon. Samuel A. Foot, a representative 
from Connecticut, in an incidental reference to it in debate on another subject, a 
few weeks after the final settlement of the Missouri case. He said : " The Missouri 
question did not involve the question of freedom or slavery, but merely whether slaves 
now in the eountvxj might be permitted to reside in the proposed new State ; and tohetlier 
Congress or Missouri possessed the power to decide.'''' 


restriction, was finally accomplished by the addition to the bill 
of a section for ever prohibiting slavery in all that portion of 
the Louisiana Territory lying north of thirty-six degrees and 
thirty minutes, north latitude, except Missouri — by implication 
leaving the portion south of that line open to settlement either 
with or without slaves. 

This provision, as an offset to the admission of the new State 
without restriction, constituted the celebrated Missouri Compro- 
mise. It was reluctantly accepted by a small majority of the 
Southern members. Nearly half of them voted against it, 
under the conviction that it was unauthorized by the Constitu- 
tion, and that Missouri was entitled to determine the question 
for herself, as a matter of right, not of bargain or concession. 
Among those who thus thought and voted were some of the 
wisest statesmen and purest patriots of that period.* 

This brief retrospect may have sufficed to show that the 
question of the right or wrong of the institution of slavery was 
in no wise involved in the earlier sectional controversies. Nor 
was it otherwise in those of a later period, in which it was the 
lot of the author of these memoirs to bear a part. They were 

* The votes on the proposed restriction, which eventually failed of adoption, and 
on the compromise, which was finally adopted, are often confounded. The advocacy 
of the former measure was exclusively sectional, no Southern member voting for it 
in either House. On the adoption of the compromise line of thirty-six degrees and 
thirty minutes, the vote in the Senate was 34 yeas to 10 nays. The Senate con- 
sisted of forty-four members from twenty-two States, equally divided between the 
two sections— Delaware being classed as a Southern State. Among the yeas were 
all the Northern votes, except two from Indiana— being 20— and 14 Southern. The 
nays consisted of 2 from the North, and 8 from the South. 

In the House of Representatives, the vote was 134 yeas to 42 nays. Of the 
yeas, 95 were Northern, 39 Southern; of the nays, 5 Northern, and 37 Southern. 

Among the nays in the Senate were Messrs. James Barbour and James Pleasants, 
of Virginia; Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina; John Gaillard and William Smith, 
of South Carolina. In the House, Philip P. Barbour, John Randolph, John Tyler, 
and William S. Archer, of Virginia ; Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina (one of the 
authors of the Constitution) ; Thomas W. Cobb, of Georgia ; and others of more or 
less note. 

(See speech of the Hon. D. L. Yulee, of Florida, in the United States Senate, on 
the admission of California, August 6, 1850, for a careful and correct account of the 
compromise. That given in the second chapter of Benton's " Thirty Years' View " 
is singularly inaccurate ; that of Horace Greeley, in his " American Conflict," still 
more so.) 


essentially struggles for sectional equality or ascendancy — for 
the maintenance or the destruction of that balance of power or 
equipoise between North and South, which was early recognized 
as a cardinal principle in our Federal system. It does not fol- 
low that both parties to this contest were wholly right or wholly 
wrong in their claims. The determination of the question of 
right or wrong must be left to the candid inquirer after exami- 
nation of the evidence. The object of these preliminary inves- 
tigations has been to clear the subject of the obscurity produced 
by irrelevant issues and the glamour of ethical illusions. 


The Session of 1849-'50. — The Compromise Measures. — Virtual Abrogation of the 
Missouri Compromise. — The Admission of California. — The Fugitive Slave Law. 
— Death of Mr. Calhoun. — Anecdote of Mr. Clay. 

The first session of the Thirty-first Congress (1849-50) was 
a memorable one. The recent acquisition from Mexico of New 
Mexico and California required legislation by Congress. In the 
Senate the bills reported by the Committee on Territories were 
referred to a select committee, of which Mr. Clay, the distin- 
guished Senator from Kentucky, was chairman. From this 
committee emanated the bills which, taken together, are known 
as the compromise measures of 1850. 

With some others, I advocated the division of the newly 
acquired territory by an extension to the Pacific Ocean of the 
Missouri Compromise line of thirty-six degrees and thirty min- 
utes north latitude. This was not because of any inherent merit 
or fitness in that line, but because it had been accepted by the 
country as a settlement of the sectional question which, thirty 
years before, had threatened a rupture of the Union, and it had 
acquired in the public mind a prescriptive respect which it 
seemed unwise to disregard. A majority, however, decided 
otherwise, and the line of political conciliation was then obliter- 
ated, as far as it lay in the power of Congress to do so. An 


analysis of the vote will show that this result was effected almost 
exclusively by the representatives of the North, and that the 
South was not responsible for an action which proved to be the 
opening of Pandora's box.* 

However objectionable it may have been in 1820 to adopt 
that political line as expressing a geographical definition of dif- 
ferent sectional interests, and however it may be condemned as 
the assumption by Congress of a function not delegated to it, it 
is to be remembered that the act had received such recognition 
and £w<m-ratification by the people of the States as to give it 
a value which it did not originally possess. Pacification had 
been the fruit borne by the tree, and it should not have been 
recklessly hewed down and cast into the fire. The frequent as- 
sertion then made was that all discrimination was unjust, and 
that the popular will should be left untrammeled in the forma- 
tion of new States. This theory was good enough in itself, and 
as an abstract proposition could not be gainsaid ; but its practi- 
cal operation has but poorly sustained the expectations of its 
advocates, as will be seen when we come to consider the events 
that occurred a few years later in Kansas and elsewhere. Re- 
trospectively viewed under the mellowing light of time, and 
with the calm consideration we can usually give to the irreme- 
diable past, the compromise legislation of 1850 bears the impress 
of that sectional spirit so widely at variance with the general 
purposes of the Union, and so destructive of the harmony and 
mutual benefit which the Constitution was intended to secure. 

The refusal to divide the territory acquired from Mexico by 
an extension of the line of the Missouri Compromise to the Pa- 
cific was a consequence of the purpose to admit California as a 
State of the Union before it had acquired the requisite popula- 
tion, and while it was mainly under the control of a military 
organization sent from New York during the war with Mexico- 
and disbanded in California upon the restoration of peace. The 

* The vote in the Senate on the proposition to continue the line of the Missouri 
compromise through the newly acquired territory to the Pacific was twenty-four yeas 
to thirty-two nays. Reckoning Delaware and Missouri as Southern States, the vote 
of the two sections was exactly equal. The yeas were all cast by Southern Senators ; 
the nays were all Northern, except two from Delaware, one from Missouri, and one 
from Kentucky. 


inconsistency of the argument against the extension of the line 
was exhibited in the division of the Territory of Texas by that 
parallel, and payment to the State of money to secure her con- 
sent to the partition of her domain. In the case of Texas, 
the North had everything to gain and nothing to lose by the 
application of the practice of geographical compromise on an 
arbitrary line. In the case of California, the conditions were 
reversed ; the South might have been the gainer and the North 
the loser by a recognition of the same rule. 

The compensation which it was alleged that the South re- 
ceived was a more effective law for the rendition of fugitives 
from service or labor. But it is to be remarked that this law 
provided for the execution by the General Government of obli- 
gations which had been imposed by the Federal compact upon 
the several States of the Union. The benefit to be derived from 
a fulfillment of that law would be small in comparison with the 
evil to result from the plausible pretext that the States had 
thus been relieved from a duty which they had assumed in the 
adoption of the compact of union. Whatever tended to lead the 
people of any of the States to feel that they could be relieved 
from their constitutional obligations by transferring them to 
the General Government, or that they might thus or other- 
wise evade or resist them, could not fail to be like the tares 
which the enemy sowed amid the wheat. The union of States, 
formed to secure the permanent welfare of posterity and to pro- 
mote harmony among the constituent States, could not, without 
changing its character, survive such alienation as rendered its 
parts hostile to the security, prosperity, and happiness of one 

It was reasonably argued that, as the Legislatures of fourteen 
of the States had enacted what were termed " personal liberty 
laws," which forbade the cooperation of State officials in the 
rendition of fugitives from service and labor, it became neces- 
sary that the General Government should provide the requisite 
machinery for the execution of the law. The result proved 
what might have been anticipated — that those communities 
which had repudiated their constitutional obligations, which 
had nullified a previous law of Congress for the execution of a 


i i 1 ' '/ ■ .11 i Al PliKT 


provision of the Constitution, and had murdered men who came 
peacefully to recover their property, would evade or obstruct, so 
as to render practically worthless, any law that could be enacted 
for that purpose. In the exceptional cases in which it might be 
executed, the event would be attended with such conflict be- 
tween the State and Federal authorities as to produce conse- 
quent evils greater than those it was intended to correct. 

It was during the progress of these memorable controversies 
that the South lost its most trusted leader, and the Senate its 
greatest and purest statesman. He was taken from us — 

" Like a summer-dried fountain, 
"When our need was the sorest " ; — 

when his intellectual power, his administrative talent, his love of 
peace, and his devotion to the Constitution, might have averted 
collision ; or, failing in that, he might have been to the South 
the Palinurus to steer the bark in safety over the perilous sea. 
Truly did Mr. "Webster — his personal friend, although his great- 
est political rival — say of him in his obituary address, " There 
was nothing groveling, or low, or meanly selfish, that came near 
the head or the heart of Mr. Calhoun." His prophetic warn- 
ings speak from the grave with the wisdom of inspiration. 
Would that they could have been appreciated by his country- 
men while he yet lived ! 

Note. — While the compromise measures of 1850 were pending, and the excite- 
ment concerning them was at its highest, I one day overtook Mr. Clay, of Ken- 
tucky, and Mr. Berrien, of Georgia, in the Capitol grounds. They were in earnest 
conversation. It was the 7th of March— the day on which Mr. Webster had deliv- 
ered his great speech. Mr. Clay, addressing me in the friendly manner which he 
had always employed since I was a schoolboy in Lexington, asked me what I 
thought of the speech. I liked it better than he did. He then suggested that I 
should " join the compromise men," saying that it was a measure which he thought 
would probably give peace to the country for thirty years— the period that had 
elapsed since the adoption of the compromise of 1820. Then, turning to Mr. Ber- 
rien, he said, " You and I will be under ground before that time, but our young 
friend here may have trouble to meet." I somewhat impatiently declared my un- 
willingness to transfer to posterity a trial which they would be relatively less able 
to meet than we were, and passed on my way. 




Reelection to the Senate. — Political Controversies in Mississippi. — Action of the 
Democratic State Convention. — Defeat of the State-Rights Party. — Withdrawal 
of General Quitman and Nomination of the Author as Candidate for the Office 
of Governor. — The Canvass and its Result. — Retirement to Private Life. 

I had been reelected by the Legislature of Mississippi as 
ray own successor, and entered upon a new term of service in 
the Senate on March 4, 1851. 

On ray return to Mississippi in 1851, the subject chiefly agi- 
tating the public mind was that of the " compromise " measures 
of the previous year. Consequent upon these was a proposition 
for a convention of delegates, from the people of the Southern 
States respectively, to consider what steps ought to be taken for 
their future peace and safety, and the preservation of their con- 
stitutional rights. There was diversity of opinion with regard to 
the merits of the measures referred to, but the disagreement no 
longer followed the usual lines of party division. They who 
saw in those measures the forerunner of disaster to the South 
had no settled policy beyond a convention, the object of which 
should be to devise new and more effectual guarantees against 
the perils of usurpation. They were unjustly charged with a 
desire to destroy the Union — a feeling entertained by few, very 
few, if by any, in Mississippi, and avowed by none. 

There were many, however, who held that the principles of 
the Declaration of Independence, and the purposes for which 
the Union was formed, were of higher value than the mere 
Union itself. Independence existed before the compact of union 
between the States ; and, if that compact should be broken in 
part, and therefore destroyed in whole, it was hoped that the 
liberties of the people in the States might still be preserved. 
Those who were most devoted to the Union of the Constitution 
might, consequently, be expected to resist most sternly any 
usurpation of undelegated power, the effect of which would be 
to warp the Federal Government from its proper character, and, 
by sapping the foundation, to destroy the Union of the States. 


My recent reelection to the United States Senate had con- 
ferred upon me for six years longer the office which I preferred 
to all others. I could not, therefore, be suspected of desiring 
a nomination for any other office from the Democratic Conven- 
tion, the meeting of which was then drawing near. Having, as 
a Senator of the State, freely participated in debate on the 
measures which were now exciting so much interest in the pub- 
lic mind, it was very proper that I should visit the people in 
different parts of the State and render an account of my stew- 

My devotion to the Union of our fathers had been so often 
and so publicly declared ; I had, on the floor of the Senate, so 
defiantly challenged any question of my fidelity to it ; my ser- 
vices, civil and military, had now extended through so long a 
period, and were so generally known — that I felt quite assured 
that no whisperings of envy or ill will could lead the people of 
Mississippi to believe that I had dishonored their trust by using 
the power they had conferred on me to destroy the Government 
to which I was accredited. Then, as afterward, I regarded the 
separation of the States as a great, though not the greatest, 

I returned from my tour among the people at the time ap- 
pointed for the meeting of the nominating convention of the 
Democratic (or State-Eights) party. During the previous year 
the Governor, General John A. Quitman, had been compelled 
to resign his office to answer an indictment against him for com- 
plicity with the " filibustering " expeditions against Cuba. The 
charges were not sustained ; many of the Democratic party of 
Mississippi, myself included, recognized a consequent obligation 
to renominate him for the office of which he had been deprived. 
When, however, the delegates met in party convention, the 
committee appointed to select candidates, on comparison of opin- 
ions, concluded that, in view of the effort to Hx upon the party 
the imputation of a purpose of disunion, some of the antecedents 
of General Quitman might endanger success. A proposition 
was therefore made, in the committee on nominations, that I 
should be invited to become a candidate, and that, if General 
Quitman would withdraw, my acceptance of the nomination 


and the resignation of my place in the United States Senate, 
which it was known would result, was to be followed by the 
appointment by the Governor of General Quitman to the 
vacated place in the Senate. I offered no objection to this 
arrangement, but left it to General Quitman to decide. He 
claimed the nomination for the governorship, or nothing, and 
was so nominated. 

To promote the success of the Democratic nominees, I en- 
gaged actively in the canvass, and continued in the field until 
stricken down by disease. This occurred just before the elec- 
tion of delegates to a State Convention, for which provision had 
been made by the Legislature, and the canvass for which, con- 
ducted in the main upon party lines, was in progress simultane- 
ously with that for the ordinary State officers. The Democratic 
majority in the State when the canvass began was estimated at 
eight thousand. At this election, in September, for delegates 
to the State Convention, we were beaten by about seven thou- 
sand five hundred votes. Seeing in this result the foreshadow- 
ing of almost inevitable defeat, General Quitman withdrew 
from the canvass as a candidate, and the Executive Committee 
of the party (empowered to fill vacancies) called on me to take 
his place. My health did not permit me to leave home at that 
time, and only about six weeks remained before the election 
was to take place ; but, being assured that I was not expected 
to take any active part, and that the party asked only the use 
of my name, I consented to be announced, and immediately 
resigned from the United States Senate. Nevertheless, I soon 
afterward took the field in person, and worked earnestly until 
the day of election. I was defeated, but the majority of more 
than seven thousand votes, that had been cast a short time be- 
fore against the party with which I was associated, was reduced 
to less than one thousand.* 

* The following letter, written in 1853 to the Hon. William J. Brown, of Indi- 
ana, formerly a member of Congress from that State, and subsequently published, 
relates to the events of this period, and affords nearly contemporaneous evidence in 
confirmation of the statements of the text : 

H Washington, D. C, May T, 1S53. 

" My dear Sir : I received the ' Sentinel ' containing your defense of me against 
the false accusation of disunionism, and, before I had returned to you the thanks to 







In this canvass, both before and after I became a candidate, 
no argument or appeal of mine was directed against the per- 
petuation of the Union. Believing, however, that the signs of 

which you are entitled, I received this day the St. Joseph ' Valley Register,' marked 
by you, to call my attention to an article in answer to your defense, which was 
just in all things, save your too complimentary terms. 

" I wish I had the letter quoted from, that you might publish the whole of that 
which is garbled to answer a purpose. In a part of the letter not published, I put 
such a damper on the attempt to fix on me the desire to break up our Union, and 
presented other points in a form so little acceptable to the unfriendly inquirers, that 
the publication of the letter had to be drawn out of them. 

" At the risk of being wearisome, but encouraged by your marked friendship, I 
will give you a statement in the case. The meeting of October, 1849, was a con- 
vention of delegates equally representing the Whig and Democratic parties in Mis- 
sissippi. The resolutions were decisive as to equality of right in the South with the 
North to the Territories acquired from Mexico, and proposed a convention of the 
Southern States. I was not a member, but on invitation addressed the Convention. 
The succeeding Legislature instructed me, as a Senator, to assert this equality, and, 
under the existing circumstances, to resist by all constitutional means the admission 
of California as a State. At a called session of the Legislature in 1850, a self-con- 
stituted committee called on me, by letter, for my views. They were men who had 
enacted or approved the resolutions of the Convention of 1849, and instructed me, 
as members of the Legislature, in regular session, in the early part of the year 
1850. To them I replied that I adhered to the policy they had indicated and in- 
structed me in their official character to pursue. 

" I pointed out the mode in which their policy could, in my opinion, be executed 
without bloodshed or disastrous convulsion, but in terms of bitter scorn alluded to 
such as would insult me with a desire to destroy the Union, for which my whole 
life proved me to be a devotee. 

" Pardon the egotism, in consideration of the occasion, when I say to you that 
my father and my uncles fought through the Revolution of 1776, giving their youth, 
their blood, and their little patrimony to the constitutional freedom which I claim 
as my inheritance. Three of my brothers fought in the war of 1812. Two of 
them were comrades of the Hero of the Hermitage, and received his commendation 
for gallantry at New Orleans. At sixteen years of age I was given to the service 
of my country ; for twelve years of my life I have borne its arms and served it 
zealously, if not well. As I feel the infirmities, which suffering more than age has 
brought upon me, it would be a bitter reflection, indeed, if I was forced to conclude 
that my countrymen would hold all this light when weighed against the empty pane- 
gyric which a time-serving politician can bestow upon the Union, for which he never 
made a sacrifice. 

" In the Senate I announced that, if any respectable man would call me a dis- 
unionist, I would answer him in monosyllables. . . . But I have often asserted the 
right, for which the battles of the Revolution were fought— the right of a people 
to change their government whenever it was found to bo oppressive, and subver- 
sive of the objects for which governments are instituted — and have contended for 


the time portended danger to the South from the usurpation by 
the General Government of undelegated powers, I counseled 
that Mississippi should enter into the proposed meeting of the 
people of the Southern States, to consider what could and 
should be done to insure our future safety, frankly stating my 
conviction that, unless such action were taken then, sectional 
rivalry would engender greater evils in the future, and that, if 
the controversy was postponed, "the last opportunity for a 
peaceful solution would be lost, then the issue would have to be 
settled by blood." 


The Author enters the Cabinet. — Administration of the War Department. — Surveys 
for a Pacific Railway. — Extension of the Capitol. — New Regiments organized. — 
Colonel Samuel Cooper, Adjutant-General. — A Bit of Civil-Service Reform. — 
Reelection to the Senate. — Continuity of the Pierce Cabinet. — Character of 
Franklin Pierce. 

Happy in the peaceful pursuits of a planter ; busily engaged 
in cares for servants, in the improvement of my land, in build- 
ing, in rearing live-stock, and the like occupations, the time 
passed pleasantly away until my retirement was interrupted by 
an invitation to take a place in the Cabinet of Mr. Pierce, who 
had been elected to the Presidency of the United States in 
November, 1852. Although warmly attached to Mr. Pierce 
personally, and entertaining the highest estimate of his charac- 
ter and political principles, private and personal reasons led me 
to decline the offer. This was followed by an invitation to at- 
tend the ceremony of his inauguration, which took place on the 
4th of March, 1853. While in Washington, on this visit, I was 

the independence and sovereignty of the States, a part of the creed of which Jeffer- 
son was the apostle, Madison the expounder, and Jackson the consistent defender. 

" I have written freely, and more than I designed. Accept my' thanks for your 
friendly advocacy. Present me in terms of kind remembrance to your family, and 
believe me, very sincerely yours, Jefferson Davis. 

" Note. — No party in Mississippi ever advocated disunion. They differed as to 
the mode of securing their rights in the Union, and on the power of a State to 
secede — neither advocating the exercise of the power. J. D." 


induced by public considerations to reconsider my determina- 
tion and accept the office of Secretary of War. The public 
records of that period will best show how the duties of that 
office were performed. 

While in the Senate, I had advocated the construction of 
a railway to connect the valley of the Mississippi with the Pa- 
cific coast ; and, when an appropriation was made to determine 
the most eligible route for that purpose, the Secretary of "War 
was charged with its application. "We had then but little of 
that minute and accurate knowledge of the interior of the con- 
tinent which was requisite for a determination of the problem. 
Several different parties were therefore organized to examine 
the various routes supposed to be practicable within the north- 
ern and southern limits of the United States. The arguments 
which I had used as a Senator were "the military necessity 
for such means of transportation, and the need of safe and rapid 
communication with the Pacific slope, to secure its continuance 
as a part of the Union." 

In the organization and equipment of these parties, and in the 
selection of their officers, care was taken to provide for securing 
full and accurate information upon every point involved in the 
determination of the route. The only discrimination made was 
in the more prompt and thorough equipment of the parties for 
the extreme northern line, and this was only because that was 
supposed to be the most difficult of execution of all the surveys. 

In like manner, my advocacy while in the Senate of an ex- 
tension of the Capitol, by the construction of a new Senate- 
Chamber and Hall of Representatives, may have caused the 
appropriation for that object to be put under my charge as 
Secretary of War. 

During my administration of the War Department, material 
changes were made in the models of arms. Iron gun-carriages 
were introduced, and experiments were made which led to the 
casting of heavy guns hollow, instead of boring them after cast- 
ing. Inquiries were made with regard to gunpowder, which 
subsequently led to the use of a coarser grain for artillery. 

During the same period the army was increased by the ad- 
dition of two regiments of infantry and twa of cavalry. The 


officers of these regiments were chosen partly by selection from 
those already in service in the regular army and partly by ap- 
pointment from civil life. In making the selections from the 
army, I was continually indebted to the assistance of that pure- 
minded and accurately informed officer, Colonel Samuel Cooper, 
the Adjutant-General, of whom it may be proper here to say 
that, although his life had been spent in the army, and he, of 
course, had the likes and dislikes inseparable from men who 
are brought into close contact and occasional rivalry, I never 
found in his official recommendations any indication of partiality 
or prejudice toward any one. 

When the first list was made out, to be submitted to the 
President, a difficulty was found to exist, which had not oc- 
curred either to Colonel Cooper or myself. This was, that the 
officers selected purely on their military record did not constitute 
a roster conforming to that distribution among the different 
States, which, for political considerations, it was thought desira- 
ble to observe — that is to say, the number of such officers of 
Southern birth was found to be disproportionately great. Under 
instructions from the President, the list was therefore revised 
and modified in accordance with this new element of geographi- 
cal distribution. This, as I am happy to remember, was the 
only occasion in which the current of my official action, while 
Secretary of War, was disturbed in any way by sectional or po- 
litical considerations. 

Under former administrations of the War Office it had not 
been customary to make removals or appointments upon politi- 
cal grounds, except in the case of clerkships. To this usage I 
not only adhered, but extended it to include the clerkships also. 
The Chief Clerk, who had been removed by my predecessor, 
had peculiar qualifications for the place ; and, although known 
to me only officially, he was restored to the position. It will 
probably be conceded by all who are well informed on the sub- 
ject that his restoration was a benefit to the public service.* 

[The reader desirous for further information relative to the 

* Soon after my entrance upon duty as Secretary of War, General Jesup, the 
Quartermaster-General, presented to me a list of names from which to make selec- 
tion of a clerk for his department. Observing that he had attached certain figures 


administration of the War Department during this period may 
find it in the various official reports and estimates of works of 
defense prosecuted or recommended, ^arsenals of construction 
and depots of arms maintained or suggested, and foundries em- 
ployed, during the Presidency of Mr. Pierce, 1853-'57.] 

Having been again elected by the Legislature of Mississippi 
as Senator to the United States, I passed from the Cabinet of 
Mr. Pierce, on the last day of his term (March 4, 1857), to take 
my seat in the Senate. 

The Administration of Franklin Pierce presents the only in- 
stance in our history of the continuance of a Cabinet for four 
years without a single change in its personnel. "When it is re- 
membered that there was much dissimilarity if not incongruity 
of character among the members of that Cabinet, some idea 
may be formed of the power over men possessed and exercised 
by Mr. Pierce. Chivalrous, generous, amiable, true to his 
friends and to his faith, frank and bold in the declaration of his 
opinions, he never deceived any one. And, if treachery had 
ever come near him, it would have stood abashed in the presence 
of his truth, his manliness, and his confiding simplicity. 

to these names, I asked whether the figures were intended to indicate the relative 
qualifications, or preference in his estimation, of the several applicants ; and, upon 
his answer in the affirmative, without further question, authorized him to appoint 
" No. 1 " of his list. A day or two afterward, certain Democratic members of Con- 
gress called on me and politely inquired whether it was true that I had appointed a 
Whig to a position in the War Office. " Certainly not," I answered. " We thought 

you were not aware of it," said they, and proceeded to inform me that Mr. , 

the recent appointee to the clerkship just mentioned, was a Whig. After listening 
patiently to this statement, I answered that it was they who were deceived, not I. 
I had appointed a clerk. He had been appointed neither as a Whig nor as a Demo- 
crat, but merely as the fittest candidate for the place in the estimation of the chief 
of the bureau to which it belonged. I further gave them to understand that the 
same principle of selection would be followed in similar cases, so far as my authority 
extended. After some further discussion of the question, the visitors withdrew, dis- 
satisfied with the result of the interview. 

The Quartermaster-General, on hearing of this conversation, hastened to inform 
me that it was all a mistake— that the appointee to the office had been confounded 
with his father, who was a well-known Whig, but that he (the son) was a Democrat- 
I assured the General that this was altogether immaterial, adding that it was "a 
very pretty quarrel " as it stood, and that I had no desire to effect a settlement of it 
on any inferior issue. Thenceforward, however, I was but little troubled with any 
pressure for political appointments in the department. 



The Territorial Question. — An Incident at the White House. — The Kansas and Ne- 
braska Bill. — The Missouri Compromise abrogated in 1850, not in 1854. — Ori- 
gin of " Squatter Sovereignty." — Sectional Rivalry and its Consequences. — The 
Emigrant Aid Societies. — " The Bible and Sharpe's Rifles." — False Pretensions 
as to Principle. — The Strife in Kansas. — A Retrospect. — The Original Equilib: 
rium of Power and its Overthrow. — Usurpations of the Federal Government. — 
The Protective Tariff. — Origin and Progress of Abolitionism. — Who were the 
Friends of the Union ? — An Illustration of Political Morality. 

The organization of the Territory of Kansas was the first 
question that gave rise to exciting debate after my return to the 
Senate. The celebrated Kansas-Nebraska Bill had become a 
law during the Administration of Mr. Pierce. As this occupies 
a large space in the political history of the period, it is proper 
to state some facts connected with it, which were not public, 
but were known to me and to others yet living. 

The declaration, often repeated in 1850, that climate and the 
will of the people concerned should determine their institutions 
when they should form a Constitution, and as a State be admit- 
ted into the Union, and that no legislation by Congress should 
be permitted to interfere with the free exercise of that will 
when so expressed, was but the announcement of the fact so 
firmly established in the Constitution, that sovereignty resided 
alone in the States, and that Congress had only delegated powers. 
It has been sometimes contended that, because the Congress of 
the Confederation, by the Ordinance of 1787, prohibited invol- 
untary servitude in all the Northwestern Territory, the framers 
of the Constitution must have recognized such power to exist 
in the Congress of the United States. Hence the deduction 
that the prohibitory clause of what is known as the Missouri 
Compromise was justified by the precedent of the Ordinance of 
1787. To make the action of the Congress of the Confedera- 
tion a precedent for the Congress of the United States is to 
overlook the great distinction between the two. 

The Congress of the Confederation represented the States in 
their sovereignty, and, as such representatives, had legislative, 


executive, and, in some degree, judicial power confided to it. 
Virtually, it was an assemblage of the States. In certain cases a 
majority of nine States were required to decide a question, but 
there is no express limitation, or restriction, such as is to be found 
in the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution of the 
United States. The General Government of the Union is com- 
posed of three departments, of which the Congress is the legis- 
lative branch, and which is checked by the revisory power of 
the judiciary, and the veto power of the Executive, and, above 
all, is expressly limited in legislation to powers expressly dele- 
gated by the States. If, then, it be admitted, which is certainly 
questionable, that the Congress of the Confederation had power 
to exclude slave property northwest of the Ohio River, that 
power must have been derived from its character as representing 
the States in their sovereignty, for no indication of such a power 
is to be found in the Articles of Confederation. 

If it be assumed that the absence of a prohibition was equiv- 
alent to the admission of the power in the Congress of the Con- 
federation, the assumption would avail nothing in the Congress 
under the Constitution, where power is expressly limited to 
what had been delegated. More briefly, it may be stated that 
the Congress of the Confederation could, like the Legislature of 
a State, do what had not been prohibited ; but the Congress of 
the United States could only do what had been expressly per- 
mitted. It is submitted whether this last position is not conclu- 
sive against the possession of power by the United States Con-\ 
gress to legislate slavery into or exclude it from Territories be- 
longing to the United States. 

This subject, which had for more than a quarter of a century 
been one of angry discussion and sectional strife, was revived, 
and found occasion for renewed discussion in the organization 
of Territorial governments for Kansas and Nebraska. The Com- 
mittees on Territories of the two Houses agreed to report a bill 
in accordance with that recognized principle, provided they 
could first be assured that it would receive favorable considera- 
tion from the President. This agreement was made on Satur- 
day, and the ensuing Monday was the day (and the only day for 
two weeks) on which, according to the order of business estab- 


lished by the rules of the House of Representatives, the bill 
could be introduced by the Committee of that House. 

On Sunday morning, the 22d of January, 1854, gentlemen 
of each Committee called at my house, and Mr. Douglas, chair- 
man of the Senate Committee, fully explained the proposed 
bill, and stated their purpose to be, through my aid, to obtain 
an interview on that day with the President, to ascertain whether 
the bill would meet his approbation. The President was known 
to be rigidly opposed to the reception of visits on Sunday for 
the discussion of any political subject ; but in this case it was 
urged as necessary, in order to enable the Committee to make 
their report the next day. I went with them to the Executive 
mansion, and, leaving them in the reception-room, sought the 
President in his private apartments, and explained to him the 
occasion of the visit. He thereupon met the gentlemen, pa- 
tiently listened to the reading of the bill and their explanations 
of it, decided that it rested upon sound constitutional principles, 
and recognized in it only a return to that rule which had been 
infringed by the compromise of 1820, and the restoration of 
which had been foreshadowed by the legislation of 1850. This 
bill was not, therefore, as has been improperly asserted, a mea- 
sure inspired by Mr. Pierce or any of his Cabinet. Nor was it 
the first step taken toward the repeal of the conditions or obli- 
gations expressed or implied by the establishment, in 1820, of 
the politico-sectional line of thirty-six degrees and thirty min- 
utes. That compact had been virtually abrogated, in 1850, by 
the refusal of the representatives of the North to apply it to the 
territory then recently acquired from Mexico. In May, 1854, 
the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was passed ; its purpose was declared 
in the bill itself to be to carry into practical operation the " prop- 
ositions and principles established by the compromise measures 
of 1850." The "Missouri Compromise," therefore, was not re- 
pealed by that bill — its virtual repeal by the legislation of 1850 
was recognized as an existing fact, and it was declared to be 
" inoperative and void." 

It was added that the " true intent and meaning " of the act 
was " 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 institutions in their 
own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." 

From the terms of this bill, as well as from the arguments 
that were used in its behalf, it is evident that its purpose was to 
leave the Territories equally open to the people of all the States, 
with every species of property recognized by any of them ; to 
permit climate and soil to determine the current of immigration, 
and to secure to the people themselves the right to form their 
own institutions according to their own will, as soon as they 
should acquire the right of self-government ; that is to say, as 
soon as their numbers should entitle them to organize them- 
selves into a State, prepared to take its place as an equal, sov- 
ereign member of the Federal Union. The claim, afterward ad- 
vanced by Mr. Douglas and others, that this declaration was 
intended to assert the right of the f rst settlers of a Territory, in 
its inchoate, rudimental, dependent, and transitional condition, 
to determine the character of its institutions, constituted the 
doctrine popularly known as " squatter sovereignty." Its asser- 
tion led to the dissensions which ultimately resulted in a rup- 
ture of the Democratic party. 

Sectional rivalry, the deadly foe of the " domestic tranquil- 
lity " and the " general welfare," which the compact of union 
was formed to insure, now interfered, with gigantic efforts, to 
prevent that free migration which had been promised, and to 
hinder the decision by climate and the interests of the inhabit- 
ants of the institutions to be established by these embryo States. 
Societies were formed in the North to supply money and send 
emigrants into the new Territories ; and a famous preacher, ad- 
dressing a body of those emigrants, charged them to carry with 
them to Kansas " the Bible and Sharpe's rifles." The latter 
were of course to be leveled against the bosoms of their South- 
ern brethren who might migrate to the same Territory, but the 
use to be made of the Bible in the same fraternal enterprise 
was left unexplained by the reverend gentleman. 

The war-cry employed to train the Northern mind for the 
deeds contemplated by the agitators was " No extension of 
slavery ! " Was this sentiment real or feigned ? The number 
of slaves (as has already been clearly shown) would not have 


been increased by their transportation to new territory. It 
conld not be augmented by further importation, for the law of 
the land made that piracy. Southern men were the leading au- 
thors of that enactment, and the public opinion of their descend- 
ants, stronger than the law, fully sustained it. The climate of 
Kansas and Nebraska was altogether unsuited to the negro, and 
the soil was not adapted to those productions for which negro 
labor could be profitably employed. If, then, any negroes held 
to service or labor, as provided in the compact of union, had 
been transported to those Territories, they would have been such 
as were bound by personal attachment mutually existing between 
master and servant, which would have rendered it impossible 
for the former to consider the latter as property convertible into 
money. As white laborers, adapted to the climate and its prod- 
ucts, flowed into the country, negro labor would have inevitably 
become a tax to those who held it, and their emancipation would 
have followed that condition, as it has in all the Northern States, 
old or new — -Wisconsin furnishing the last example.* It may, 
therefore, be reasonably concluded that the " war-cry " was em- 
ployed by the artful to inflame the minds of the less informed 
and less discerning ; that it was adopted in utter disregard of 
the means by which negro emancipation might have been peace- 
ably accomplished in the Territories, and with the sole object of 
obtaining sectional control and personal promotion by means of 
popular agitation. 

The success attending this artifice was remarkable. To such 

* Extract from a speech of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, in the Senate of the United 
States, May 17, 1860: "There is a relation belonging to this species of property, 
unlike that of the apprentice or the hired man, which awakens whatever there is 
of kindness or of nobility of soul in the heart of him who owns it ; this can only be 
alienated, obscured, or destroyed, by collecting this species of property into such 
masses that the owner is not personally acquainted with the individuals who com- 
pose it. In the relation, however, which can exist in the Northwestern Territories, 
the mere domestic connection of one, two, or at most half a dozen servants in a 
family, associating with the children as they grow up, attending upon age as it de- 
clines, there can be nothing against which either philanthropy or humanity can 
make an appeal. Not even the emancipationist could raise his voice ; for this is the 
high-road and the open gate to the condition in which the masters would, from in- 
terest, in a few years, desire the emancipation of every one who may thus be taken 
to the northwestern frontier." 


an extent was it made available, that Northern indignation was 
aroused on the absurd accusation that the South had destroyed 
" that sacred instrument, the compromise of 1820." The in- 
ternecine war which raged in Kansas for several years was sub- 
stituted for the promised peace under the operation of the nat- 
ural laws regulating migration to new countries. For the frat- 
ricide which dyed the virgin soil of Kansas with the blood of 
those who should have stood shoulder to shoulder in subduing 
the wilderness ; for the frauds which corrupted the ballot-box 
and made the name of election a misnomer — let the authors of 
"squatter sovereignty" and the fomenters of sectional hatred 
answer to the posterity for whose peace and happiness the 
fathers formed the Federal compact. 

In these scenes of strife were trained the incendiaries who 
afterward invaded Yirginia under the leadership of John Brown ; 
and at this time germinated the sentiments which led men of 
high position to sustain, with their influence and their money, 
this murderous incursion into the South.* 

ISTow was seen the lightning of that storm, the distant mut- 
tering of which had been heard so long, and against which the 
wise and the patriotic had given solemn warning, regarding it 
as the sign which portended a dissolution of the Union.- 

Diversity of interests and of opinions among the States of 
the Confederation had in the beginning presented great difficul- 
ties in the way of the formation of a more perfect union. The 
compact was the result of compromise between the States, at 
that time generally distinguished as navigating and agricultural, 
afterward as Northern and Southern. "When the first census 
was taken, in 1790, there was but little numerical difference in 
the population of these two sections, and (including States about 
to be admitted) there was also an exact equality in the number 
of States. Each section had, therefore, the power of self-pro- 
tection, and might feel secure against any danger of Federal ag- 
gression. If the disturbance of that equilibrium had been the 
consequence of natural causes, and the government of the whole 
had continued to be administered strictly for the general wel- 

* See " Report of Senate Committee of Inquiry into the John Brown Raid." 


fare, there would have been no ground for complaint of the 

Under the old Confederation the Southern States had a 
large excess of territory. The acquisition of Louisiana, of 
Florida, and of Texas, afterward greatly increased this excess. 
The generosity and patriotism of Virginia led her, before the 
adoption of the Constitution, to cede the Northwest Territory to 
the United States. The " Missouri Compromise " surrendered 
to the North all the newly acquired region not included in the 
State of Missouri, and north of the parallel of thirty-six degrees 
and a half. The northern part of Texas was in like manner 
given up by the compromise of 1850 ; and the North, having 
obtained, by those successive cessions, a majority in both Houses 
of Congress, took to itself all the territory acquired from Mexico. 
Thus, by the action of the General Government, the means were 
provided permanently to destroy the original equilibrium be- 
tween the sections. 

Nor was this the only injury to which the South was sub- 
jected. Under the power of Congress to levy duties on imports, 
tariff laws were enacted, not merely " to pay the debts and pro- 
vide for the common defense and general welfare of the United 
States," as authorized by the Constitution, but, positively and 
primarily, for the protection against foreign competition of 
domestic manufactures. The effect of this was to impose the 
main burden of taxation upon the Southern people, who were 
consumers and not manufacturers, not only by the enhanced 
price of imports, but indirectly by the consequent depreciation 
in the value of exports, which were chiefly the products of 
Southern States. The imposition of this grievance was unac- 
companied by the consolation of knowing that the tax thus borne 
was to be paid into the public Treasury, for the increase of price 
accrued mainly to the benefit of the manufacturer. Nor was 
this all : a reference to the annual appropriations will show that 
the disbursements made were as unequal as the burdens borne — 
the inequality in both operating in the same direction. 

These causes all combined to direct immigration to the North- 
ern section ; and with the increase of its preponderance a])peared 
more and more distinctly a tendency in the Federal Govern- 


ment to pervert functions delegated to it, and to use them with 
sectional discrimination against the minority. 

The resistance to the admission of Missouri as a State, in 
1820, was evidently not owing to any moral or constitutional 
considerations, but merely to political motives ; and the com- 
pensation exacted for granting what was simply a right, was 
the exclusion of the South from equality in the enjoyment of 
territory which justly belonged equally to both, and which was 
what the enemies of the South stigmatized as " slave territory," 
when acquired. 

The sectional policy then indicated brought to its support the 
passions that spring from man's higher nature, but which, like 
all passions, if misdirected and perverted, become hurtful and, 
it may be, destructive. The year 1835 was marked by the pub- 
lic agitation for the abolition of that African servitude which 
existed in the South, which antedated the Union, and had existed 
in every one of the States that formed the Confederation. By 
a great misconception of the powers belonging to the General 
Government, and the responsibilities of citizens of the Northern 
States, many of those citizens were, little by little, brought to 
the conclusion that slavery was a sin for which they were an- 
swerable, and that it was the duty of the Federal Government 
to abate it. Though, at the date above referred to, numerically 
so weak, when compared with either of the political parties at 
the North, as to excite no apprehension of their power for evil, 
the public demonstrations of the Abolitionists were violently re- 
buked generally at the North. The party was contemned on 
account of the character of its leaders, and the more odious 
because chief among them was an Englishman, one Thompson, 
who was supposed to be an emissary, whose mission was to pre- 
pare the way for a dissolution of the Union. Let us hope that 
it was reverence for the obligations of the Constitution as the 
soul of the Union that suggested lurking danger, and rendered 
the supposed emissary for its destruction so odious that he was 
driven from a Massachusetts hall where he attempted to lec- 
ture. But bodies in motion will overcome bodies at rest, and 
the unreflecting too often are led by captivating names far from 
the principles they revere. 


Thus, by the activity of the propagandists of abolitionism, 
and the misuse of the sacred word Liberty, they recruited from 
the ardent worshipers of that goddess such numbers as gave 
them in many Northern States the balance of power between 
the two great political forces that stood arrayed against each 
other ; then and there they came to be courted by both of the 
great parties, especially by the Whigs, who had become the 
weaker party of the two. Fanaticism, to which is usually 
accorded sincerity as an extenuation of its mischievous tenets, 
affords the best excuse to be offered for the original aboli- 
tionists, but that can not be conceded to the political associ- 
ates who joined them for the purpose of acquiring power; 
with them it was but hypocritical cant, intended to deceive. 
Hence arose the declaration of the existence of an "irrepres- 
sible conflict," because of the domestic institutions of sovereign, 
self-governing States — institutions over which neither the Fed- 
eral Government nor the people outside of the limits of such 
States had any control, and for which they could have no moral 
or legal responsibility. 

Those who are to come after us, and who will look without 
prejudice or excitement at the record of events which have oc- 
curred in our day, will not fail to wonder how men professing 
and proclaiming such a belief should have so far imposed upon 
the credulity of the world as to be able to arrogate to them- 
selves the claim of being the special friends of a Union contract- 
ed in order to insure " domestic tranquillity " among the people 
of the States united ; that they were the advocates of peace, of 
law, and of order, who, when taking an oath to support and 
maintain the Constitution, did so with a mental reservation to 
violate one of the provisions of that Constitution — one of the 
conditions of the compact — without which the Union could 
never have been formed. The tone of political morality which 
could make this possible was well indicated by the toleration 
accorded in the Senate to the flippant, inconsequential excuse 
for it given by one of its most eminent exemplars — " Is thy 
servant a dog, that he should do this thing ? " — meaning thereby, 
not that it would be the part of a dog to violate his oath, but to 
keep it in the matter referred to. (See Appendix D.) 



Agitation continued. — Political Parties : their Origin, Changes, and Modifications. — 
Some Account of the " Popular Sovereignty," or " Non-Intervention," Theory. — 
Rupture of the Democratic Party. — The John Brown Raid. — Resolutions intro- 
duced by the Author into the Senate on the Relations of the States, the Federal 
Government, and the Territories ; their Discussion and Adoption. 

The strife in Kansas and the agitation of the territorial ques- 
tion in Congress and throughout the country continued during 
nearly the whole of Mr. Buchanan's Administration, finally cul- 
minating in a disruption of the Union. Meantime the changes, 
or modifications, which had occurred or were occurring in the 
great political parties, were such as may require a word of ex- 
planation to the reader not already familiar with their history. 

The names adopted by political parties in the United States 
have not always been strictly significant of their principles. The 
old Federal party inclined to nationalism, or consolidation, rather 
than federalization, of the States. On the other hand, the party 
originally known as Republican, and afterward as Democratic, 
can scarcely claim to have been distinctively or exclusively such 
in the primary sense of these terms, inasmuch as no party has 
ever avowed opposition to the general principles of government 
by the people. The fundamental idea of the Democratic party 
was that of the sovereignty of the States and the federal, or con- 
federate, character of the Union. Other elements have entered 
into its organization at different periods, but this has been the 
vital, cardinal, and abiding principle on which its existence has 
been perpetuated. The "Whig, which succeeded the old Federal 
party, though by no means identical with it, was, in the main, 
favorable to a strong central government, therein antagonizing the 
transatlantic traditions connected with its name. The " Know- 
Nothing," or " American," party, which sprang into existence 
on the decadence of the Whig organization, based upon opposi- 
tion to the alleged overgrowth of the political influence of natu- 
ralized foreigners and of the Roman Catholic Church, had but 
a brief duration, and after the Presidential election of 1856 de- 
clined as rapidly as it had arisen. 


At the period to which this narrative has advanced, the 
" Free-Soil," which had now assumed the title of " Republican " 
party, had grown to a magnitude which threatened speedily to 
obtain entire control of the Government. Based, as has been 
shown, upon sectional rivalry and opposition to the growth of 
the Southern equally with the Northern States of the Union, 
it had absorbed within itself not only the abolitionists, who 
were avowedly agitating for the destruction of the system of 
negro servitude, but other diverse and heterogeneous elements 
of opposition to the Democratic party. In the Presidential 
election of 1856, their candidates (Fremont and Dayton) had 
received 114 of a total of 296 electoral votes, representing a 
popular vote of 1,341,264 in a total of 4,053,967. The elections 
of the ensuing year (1857) exhibited a diminution of the so- 
called " Republican " strength, and the Thirty-fifth Congress, 
which convened in December of that year, was decidedly Demo- 
cratic in both branches. In the course of the next two years, 
however, the Kansas agitation and another cause, to be presently 
noticed, had so swollen the ranks of the so-called Republicans, 
that, in the House of Representatives of the Thirty-sixth Con- 
gress, which met in December, 1859, neither party had a decided 
majority, the balance of power being held by a few members 
still adhering to the virtually extinct Whig and " American," or 
Know-Nothing, organizations, and a still smaller number whose 
position was doubtful or irregular. More than eight weeks 
were spent in the election of a Speaker ; and a so-called " Re- 
publican " (Mr. Pennington, of New Jersey) was finally elected 
by a majority of one vote. The Senate continued to be de- 
cidedly Democratic, though with an increase of the so-called 
" Republican " minority. 

The cause above alluded to, as contributing to the rapid 
growth of the so-called Republican party after the elections of 
the year 1857, was the dissension among the Democrats, occa- 
sioned by the introduction of the doctrine called by its inventors 
and advocates " popular sovereignty," or "non-intervention," 
but more generally and more accurately known as "squatter 
sovereignty." Its character has already been concisely stated 
in the preceding chapter. Its origin is generally attributed to 


General Cass, who is supposed to have suggested it in some 
general expressions of his celebrated "Nicholson letter," writ- 
ten in December, 1847. On the 16th and 17th of May, 1860, it 
became necessary for me in a debate, in the Senate, to review 
that letter of Mr. Cass. From my remarks then made, the fol- 
lowing extract is taken : 

" The Senator [Mr. Douglas] might have remembered, if he 
had chosen to recollect so unimportant a thing, that I once had to 
explain to him, ten years ago, the fact that I repudiated the doc- 
trine of that letter at the time it was published, and that the De- 
mocracy of Mississippi had well-nigh crucified me for the construc- 
tion which I placed upon it. There were men mean enough to 
suspect that the construction I gave to the Nicholson letter was 
prompted by the confidence and affection I felt for General Taylor. 
At a subsequent period, however, Mr. Cass thoroughly reviewed 
it. He uttered (for him) very harsh language against all who had 
doubted the true construction of his letter, and he construed it 
just as I had done during the canvass of 1848. It remains only 
to add that I supported Mr. Cass, not because of the doctrine of 
the Nicholson letter, but in despite of it ; because I believed a 
Democratic President, with a Democratic Cabinet and Democratic 
counselors in the two Houses of Congress, and he as honest a man 
as I believed Mr. Cass to be, would be a safer reliance than his 
opponent, who personally possessed my confidence as much as any 
man living, but who was of, and must draw his advisers from, a 
party the tenets of which I believed to be opposed to the interests 
of the country, as they were to all my political convictions. 

" I little thought at that time that my advocacy of Mr. Cass 
upon such grounds as these, or his support by the State of which 
I am a citizen, would at any future day be quoted as an endorse- 
ment of the opinions contained in the Nicholson letter, as those 
opinions were afterward defined. But it is not only upon this 
letter, but equally upon the resolutions of the Convention as con- 
structive of that letter, that the Senator rested his argument. [I 
will here say to the Senator that, if at any time I do him the least 
injustice, speaking as I do from such notes as I could take while 
he progressed, I will thank him to correct me.] 

" But this letter entered into the canvass ; there was a doubt 
about its construction : there were men who asserted that they 


had positive authority for saying that it meant that the people of 
a Territory could only exclude slavery when the Territory should 
form a Constitution and be admitted as a State. This doubt con- 
tinued to hang over the construction, and it was that doubt alone 
which secured Mr. Cass the vote of Mississippi. If the true con- 
struction had been certainly known, he would have had no chance 
to get it." 

Whatever meaning the generally discreet and conservative 
statesman, Mr. Cass, may have intended to convey, it is not at 
all probable that he foresaw the extent to which the suggestions 
would be carried and the consequences that would result from it. 

In the organization of a government for California in 1850, 
the theory was more distinctly advanced, but it was not until 
after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, in 1854, that it 
was fully developed under the plastic and constructive genius 
of the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois. The leading part 
which that distinguished Senator had borne in the authorship 
and advocacy of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which affirmed the 
right of the people of the Territories " to form and regulate 
their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the 
Constitution of the United States," had aroused against him a 
violent storm of denunciation in the State which he represented 
and other Northern States. He met it very manfully in some 
respects, defended his action resolutely, but in so doing was led 
to make such concessions of principle and to attach such an 
interpretation to the bill as would have rendered it practically 
nugatory — a thing to keep the promise of peace to the ear and 
break it to the hope. 

The Constitution expressly confers upon Congress the power 
to admit new States into the Union, and also to " dispose of and 
make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory 
or other property belonging to the United States." Under these 
grants of power, the uniform practice of the Government had 
been for Congress to lay off and divide the common territory by 
convenient boundaries for the formation of future States ; to 
provide executive, legislative, and judicial departments of gov- 
ernment for such Territories during their temporary and pro- 


visional period of pupilage ; to delegate to these governments 
such authority as might be expedient — subject always to the 
supervision and controlling government of the Congress. Fi- 
nally, at the proper time, and on the attainment by the Ter- 
ritory of sufficient strength and population for self-government, 
to receive it into the Union on a footing of entire equality with 
the original States — sovereign and self-governing. All this is 
no more inconsistent with the true principles of " popular sov- 
ereignty," properly understood, than the temporary subjection 
of a minor to parental control is inconsistent with the doctrines 
of the Declaration of Independence, or the exceptional discipline 
of a man-of-war or a military post with the principles of repub- 
lican freedom. 

The usual process of transition from a territorial condition 
to that of a State was, in the first place, by an act of Congress 
authorizing the inhabitants to elect representatives for a con- 
vention to form a State Constitution, which was then submitted 
to Congress for approval and ratification. On such ratification 
the supervisory control of Congress was withdrawn, and the 
new State authorized to assume its sovereignty, and the inhab- 
itants of the Territory became citizens of a State. In the cases 
of Tennessee in 1796, and Arkansas and Michigan in 1836, the 
failure of the inhabitants to obtain an " enabling act " of Con- 
gress, before organizing themselves, very nearly caused the rejec- 
tion of their applications for admission as States, though they 
were eventually granted on the ground that the subsequent ap- 
proval and consent of Congress could heal the prior irregularity. 
The entire control of Congress over the whole subject of terri- 
torial government had never been questioned in earlier times. 
Necessarily conjoined with the power of this protectorate, was 
of course the duty of exercising it for the safety of the per- 
sons and property of all citizens of the United States, perma- 
nently or temporarily resident in any part of the domain be- 
longing to the States in common. 

Logically carried out, the new theory of " popular sovereign- 
ty " would apply to the first adventurous pioneers settling in the 
wilderness before the organization of any Territorial government 
by Congress, as well as afterward. If " sovereignty " is inhe- 


rent in a thousand or live thousand persons, there can be no 
valid ground for denying its existence in a dozen, as soon as 
they pass beyond the limits of the State governments. The ad- 
vocates of this novel doctrine, however, if rightly understood, 
generally disavowed any claim to its application prior to the 
organization of a territorial government. 

The Territorial Legislatures, to which Congress delegated a 
portion of its power and duty to " make all needful rules and 
regulations respecting the Territory," were the mere agents of 
Congress, exercising an authority subject to Congressional super- 
vision and control — an authority conferred only for the sake of 
convenience, and liable at any time to be revoked and annulled. 
Yet it is proposed to recognize in these provisional, subordi- 
nate, and temporary legislative bodies, a power not possessed 
by Congress itself. This is to claim that the creature is en- 
dowed with an authority not possessed by the creator, or that 
the stream has risen to an elevation above that of its source. 

Furthermore, in contending for a power in the Territorial 
Legislatures permanently to determine the fundamental, social, 
and political institutions of the Territory, and thereby virtually 
to prescribe those of the future State, the advocates of " popular 
sovereignty " were investing those dependent and subsidiary 
bodies with powers far above any exercised by the Legislatures 
of the fully organized and sovereign States. The authority of 
the State Legislatures is limited, both by the Federal Consti- 
tution and by the respective State Constitutions from which it 
is derived. This latter limitation did not and could not exist 
in the Territories. 

Strange as it may seem, a theory founded on fallacies so 
flimsy and leading to conclusions so paradoxical was advanced 
by eminent and experienced politicians, and accepted by many 
persons, both in the North and in the South — not so much, per- 
haps, from intelligent conviction as under the delusive hope that 
it would afford a satisfactory settlement of the " irrepressible 
conflict " which had been declared. The terms " popular sov- 
ereignty " and " non-intervention " were plausible, specious, and 
captivating to the public ear. Too many lost sight of the ele- 
mentary truth that political sovereignty does not reside in un- 


organized or partially organized masses of individuals, but in 
the people of regularly and permanently constituted States. As 
to the " non-intervention " proposed, it meant merely the abne- 
gation by Congress of its duty to protect the inhabitants of the 
Territories subject to its control. 

The raid into Virginia under John Brown — already notori- 
ous as a fanatical partisan leader in the Kansas troubles — oc- 
curred in October, 1859, a few weeks before the meeting of the 
Thirty-sixth Congress. Insignificant in itself and in its imme- 
diate results, it afforded a startling revelation of the extent to 
which sectional hatred and political fanaticism had blinded the 
conscience of a class of persons in certain States of the Union ; 
forming a party steadily growing stronger in numbers, as well 
as in activity. Sympathy with its purposes or methods was 
earnestly disclaimed by the representatives of all parties in Con- 
gress ; but it was charged, on the other hand, that it was only 
the natural outgrowth of doctrines and sentiments which for 
some years had been freely avowed on the floors of both Houses. 
A committee of the Senate made a long and laborious investiga- 
tion of the facts, with no very important or satisfactory results. 
In their final report, June 15, 1860, accompanying the evidence 
obtained and submitted, this Committee said : 

" It [the incursion] was simply the act of lawless ruffians, under 
the sanction of no public or political authority, distinguishable 
only from ordinary felonies by the ulterior ends in contemplation 
by them, and by the fact that the money to maintain the expedi- 
tion, and the large armament they brought with them, had been 
contributed and furnished by the citizens of other States of the 
Union under circumstances that must continue to jeopard the 
safety and peace of the Southern States, and against which Con- 
gress has no power to legislate. 

" If the several States [adds the Committee], whether from mo- 
tives of policy or a desire to preserve the peace of the Union, if 
not from fraternal feeling, do not hold it incumbent on them, after 
the experience of the country, to guard in future by appropriate 
legislation against occurrences similar to the one here inquired into, 
the Committee can find no guarantee elsewhere for the security of 
peace between the States of the Union." 


On February 2, 1860, the author submitted, in the Senate 
of the United States, a series of resolutions, afterward slightly 
modified to read as follows : 

" 1. Resolved, That, in the adoption of the Federal Constitution, 
the States, adopting the same, acted severally as free and indepen- 
dent sovereignties, delegating a portion of their powers to be ex- 
ercised by the Federal Government for the increased security of 
each against dangers, domestic as well as foreign ; and that any 
intermeddling by any one or more States, or by a combination of 
their citizens, with the domestic institutions of the others, on any 
pretext whatever, political, moral, or religious, with the view to 
their disturbance or subversion, is in violation of the Constitution, 
insulting to the States so interfered with, endangers their domes- 
tic peace and tranquillity — objects for which the Constitution was 
formed — and, by necessary consequence, tends to weaken and de- 
stroy the Union itself. 

" 2. Resolved, That negro slavery, as it exists in fifteen States 
of this Union, composes an important portion of their domestic 
institutions, inherited from, our ancestors, and existing at the adop- 
tion of the Constitution, by which it is recognized as constituting 
an important element in the apportionment of powers among the 
States, and that no change of opinion or feeling on the part of the 
non-slaveholding States of the Union in relation to this institution 
can justify them or their citizens in open or covert attacks there- 
on, with a view to its overthrow ; and that all such attacks are in 
manifest violation of the mutual and solemn pledge to protect and 
defend each other, given by the States respectively, on entering 
into the constitutional compact which formed the Union, and are 
a manifest breach of faith and a violation of the most solemn ob- 

" 3. Resolved, That the Union of these States rests on the 
equality of rights and privileges among its members, and that it is 
especially the duty of the Senate, which represents the States in 
their sovereign capacity, to resist all attempts to discriminate 
either in relation to persons or property in the Territories, which 
are the common possessions of the United States, so as to give ad- 
vantages to the citizens of one State which are not equally assured 
to those of every other State. 

" 4. Resolved, That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legisla- 


ture, whether by direct legislation or legislation of an indirect and 
unfriendly character, possesses power to annul or impair the consti- 
tutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave 
property into the common Territories, and there hold and enjoy 
the same while the territorial condition remains. 

" 5. Resolved, That if experience should at any time prove that 
the judiciary and executive authority do not possess means to in- 
sure adequate protection to constitutional rights in a Territory, 
and if the Territorial government shall fail or refuse to provide 
the necessary remedies for that purpose, it will be the duty o.f 
Congress to supply such deficiency.* 

" 6. Resolved, That the inhabitants of a Territory of the Uni- 
ted States, when they rightfully form a Constitution to be admit- 
ted as a State into the Union, may then, for the first time, like the 
people of a State when forming a new Constitution, decide for 
themselves whether slavery, as a domestic institution, shall be 
maintained or prohibited within their jurisdiction ; and they shall 
be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their Con- 
stitution may prescribe at the time of their admission. 

" 7. Resolved, That the provision of the Constitution for the 
rendition of fugitives from service or labor, c without the adoption 
of which the Union could not have been formed,' and that the 
laws of 1793 and 1850, which were enacted to secure its execution, 
and the main features of which, being similar, bear the impress 
of nearly seventy years of sanction by the highest judicial authority, 
should be honestly and faithfully observed and maintained by all 
who enjoy the benefits of our compact of union ; and that all acts 
of individuals or of State Legislatures to defeat the purpose or 
nullify the requirements of that provision, and the laws made in 
pursuance of it, are hostile in character, subversive of the Consti- 
tution, and revolutionary in their effect." f 

After a protracted and earnest debate, these resolutions were 
adopted seriatim, on the 24th and 25th of May, by a decided 
majority of the Senate (varying from thirty-three to thirty-six 

* The words, " within the limits of its constitutional powers," were subsequently 
added to this resolution, on the suggestion of Mr. Toombs, of Georgia, with the ap- 
proval of the mover. 

+ The speech of the author, delivered on the 7th of May ensuing, in exposition 
of these resolutions, will be found in Appendix F. 


yeas against from two to twenty-one nays), the Democrats, both 
Northern and Southern, sustaining them unitedly, with the ex- 
ception of one adverse vote (that of Mr. Pugh, of Ohio) on 
the fourth and sixth resolutions. The Republicans all voted 
against them or refrained from voting at all, except that Mr. 
Teneyck, of 'New Jersey, voted for the fifth and seventh of 
the series. Mr. Douglas, the leader if not the author of " pop- 
ular sovereignty," was absent on account of illness, and there 
were a few other absentees. 

The conclusion of a speech, in reply to Mr. Douglas, a few 
days before the vote was taken on these resolutions, is intro- 
duced here as the best evidence of the position of the author at 
that period of excitement and agitation : 

Conclusion of Reply to Mr. Douglas, May 17, 1860. 

" Mr. President : I briefly and reluctantly referred, because 
the subject had been introduced, to the attitude of Mississippi on 
a former occasion. I will now as briefly say that in 1851, and 
in I860, Mississippi was, and is, ready to make every concession 
which it becomes her to make to the welfare and the safety of the 
Union. If, on a former occasion, she hoped too much from fra- 
ternity, the responsibility for her disappointment rests upon those 
who failed to fulfill her expectations. She still clings to the Govern- 
ment as our fathers formed it. She is ready to-day and to-morrow, 
as in her past and though brief yet brilliant history, to maintain 
that Government in all its power, and to vindicate its honor with 
all the means she possesses. I say brilliant history ; for it was in 
the very morning of her existence that her sons, on the plains of 
New Orleans, were announced, in general orders, to have been the 
admiration of one army and the wonder of the other. That we 
had a division in relation to the measures enacted in 1850, is true ; 
that the Southern rights men became the minority in the election 
which resulted, is true ; but no figure of speech could warrant the 
Senator in speaking of them as subdued — as coming to him or any- 
body else for quarter. I deemed it offensive when it was uttered, 
and the scorn with which I repelled it at the instant, time has only 
softened to contempt. Our flag was never borne from the field. 
We had carried it in the face of defeat, with a knowledge that de- 
feat awaited it ; but scarcely had the smoke of the battle passed 


away which proclaimed another victor, before the general voice 
admitted that the field again was ours. I have not seen a sagacious, 
reflecting man, who was cognizant of the events as they transpired 
at the time, who does not say that, within two weeks after the elec- 
tion, our party was in a majority ; and the next election which 
occurred showed that we possessed the State beyond controversy. 
How we have wielded that power it is not for me to say. I trust 
others may see forbearance in our conduct — that, with a deter- 
mination to insist upon our constitutional rights, then and now, 
there is an unwavering desire to maintain the Government, and to 
uphold the Democratic party. 

" We believe now, as we have asserted on former occasions, 
that the best hope for the perpetuity of our institutions depends 
upon the cooperation, the harmony, the zealous action, of the Dem- 
ocratic party. We cling to that party from conviction that its 
principles and its aims are those of truth and the country, as we 
cling to the Union for the fulfillment of the purposes for which it 
was formed. Whenever we shall be taught that the Democratic 
party is recreant to its principles ; whenever we shall learn that it 
can not be relied upon to maintain the great measures which con- 
stitute its vitality — I for one shall be ready to leave it. And so, 
when we declare our tenacious adherence to the Union, it is the 
Union of the Constitution. If the compact between the States is 
to be trampled into the dust ; if anarchy is to be substituted for the 
usurpation and consolidation which threatened the Government at 
an earlier period ; if the Union is to become powerless for the pur- 
poses for which it was established, and we are vainly to appeal to 
it for protection — then, sir, conscious of the rectitude of our course, 
the justice of our cause, self-reliant, yet humbly, confidingly trust- 
ing in the arm that guided and protected our fathers, we look be- 
yond the confines of the Union for the maintenance of our rights. 
An habitual reverence and cherished affection for the Government 
will bind us to it longer than our interests would suggest or re- 
quire ; but he is a poor student of the world's history who does 
not understand that communities at last must yield to the dictates 
of their interests. That the affection, the mutual desire for the 
mutual good, which existed among our fathers, may be weakened 
in succeeding generations by the denial of right, and hostile demon- 
stration, until the equality guaranteed but not secured w T ithin the 
Union may be sought for without it, must be evident to even a 


careless observer of our race. It is time to be up and doing. 
There is yet time to remove the causes of dissension and alienation 
which are now distracting, and have for years past divided, the 

" If the Senator correctly described me as having at a former 
period, against my own preferences and opinions, acquiesced in the 
decision of my party ; if, when I had youth, when physical vigor 
gave promise of many days, and the future was painted in the 
colors of hope, I could thus surrender my own convictions, my own 
prejudices, and cooperate with my political friends according to 
their views of the best method of promoting the public good — 
now, when the years of my future can not be many, and experi- 
ence has sobered the hopeful tints of youth's gilding ; when, ap- 
proaching the evening of life, the shadows are reversed, and the 
mind turns retrospectively, it is not to be supposed that I would 
abandon lightly, or idly put on trial, the party to which I have 
steadily adhered. It is rather to be assumed that conservatism, 
which belongs to the timidity or caution of increasing years, would 
lead me to cling to, to be supported by, rather than to cast off, 
the organization with which I have been so long connected. If I 
am driven to consider the necessity of separating myself from those 
old and dear relations, of discarding the accustomed support, under 
circumstances such as I have described, might not my friends who 
differ from me pause and inquire whether there is not something 
involved in it which calls for their careful revision ? 

" I desire no divided flag for the Democratic party. 

" Our principles are national ; they belong to every State of 
the Union ; and, though elections may be lost by their assertion, 
they constitute the only foundation on which we can maintain 
power, on which we can again rise to the dignity the Democracy 
once possessed. Does not the Senator from Illinois see in the sec- 
tional character of the vote he received,* that his opinions are not 
acceptable to every portion of the country ? Is not the fact that 
the resolutions adopted by seventeen States, on which the greatest 
reliance must be placed for Democratic support, are in opposition 
to the dogma to which he still clings, a warning that, if he per- 
sists and succeeds in forcing his theory upon the Democratic party, 
its days are numbered ? We ask only for the Constitution. We 

* In the Democratic Convention, which had been recently held in Charleston. 
(See the ensuing chapter.) 


ask of the Democracy only from time to time to declare, as cur- 
rent exigencies may indicate, what the Constitution was intended 
to secure and provide. Our flag bears no new device. Upon its 
folds our principles are written in living light ; all proclaiming 
the constitutional Union, justice, equality, and fraternity of our 
ocean-bound domain, for a limitless future." 


A Retrospect. — Growth of Sectional Rivalry.— The Generosity of Virginia. — Une- 
qual Accessions of Territory. — The Tariff and its Effects. — The Republican 
Convention of 1860, its Resolutions and its Nominations. — The Democratic 
Convention at Charleston, its Divisions and Disruption. — The Nominations at 
Baltimore. — The " Constitutional-Union " Party and its Nominees. — An Effort 
in Behalf of Agreement declined by Mr. Douglas. — The Election of Lincoln and 
Hamlin. — Proceedings in the South. — Evidences of Calmness and Deliberation. 
— Mr. Buchanan's Conservatism and the Weakness of his Position. — Republican 
Taunts.— The " New York Tribune," etc. 

When, at the close of the war of the Revolution, each of the 
thirteen colonies that had been engaged in that contest was sev- 
erally acknowledged by the mother-country, Great Britain, to 
be a free and independent State, the confederation of those 
States embraced an area so extensive, with climate and products 
so various, that rivalries and conflicts of interest soon began to 
be manifested. It required all the power of wisdom and patri- 
otism, animated by the affection engendered by common suffer- 
ings and dangers, to keep these rivalries under restraint, and to 
effect those compromises which it was fondly hoped would in- 
sure the harmony and mutual good offices of each for the bene- 
fit of all. It was in this spirit of patriotism and confidence in 
the continuance of such abiding good will as would for all time 
preclude hostile aggression, that Virginia ceded, for the use of 
the confederated States, all that vast extent of territory lying 
north of the Ohio River, out of which have since been formed 
five States and part of a sixth. The addition of these States 
has accrued entirely to the preponderance of the Northern sec- 
tion over that from which the donation proceeded, and to the 


disturbance of that equilibrium which existed at the close of the 
war of the Revolution. 

It may not be out of place here to refer to the fact that the 
grievances which led to that war were directly inflicted upon 
the Northern colonies. Those of the South had no material 
cause of complaint ; but, actuated by sympathy for their North- 
ern brethren, and a devotion to the principles of civil liberty 
and community independence, which they had inherited from 
their Anglo-Saxon ancestry, and which were set forth in the 
Declaration of Independence, they made common cause with 
their neighbors, and may, at least, claim to have done their full 
share in the war that ensued. 

By the exclusion of the South, in 1820, from all that part of 
the Louisiana purchase lying north of the parallel of thirty-six 
degrees thirty minutes, and not included in the State of Mis- 
souri ; by the extension of that line of exclusion to embrace the 
territory acquired from Texas ; and by the appropriation of all 
the territory obtained from Mexico under the Treaty of Guada- 
lupe Hidalgo, both north and south of that line, it may be stated 
with approximate accuracy that the North had monopolized to 
herself more than three fourths of all that had been added to 
the domain of the United States since the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. This inequality, which began, as has been shown, 
in the more generous than wise confidence of the South, was 
employed to obtain for the North the lion's share of what was 
afterward added at the cost of the public treasure and the blood 
of patriots. I do not care to estimate the relative proportion 
contributed by each of the two sections. 

Nor was this the only cause that operated to disappoint the 
reasonable hopes and to blight the fair prospects under which 
the original compact was formed. The effects of discriminating 
duties upon imports have been referred to in a former chapter — 
favoripg the manufacturing region, which was the North ; bur- 
dening the exporting region, which was the South ; and so im- 
posing upon the latter a double tax : one, by the increased price 
of articles of consumption, which, so far as they were of home 
production, went into the pockets of the manufacturer ; the 
other, by the diminished value of articles of export, which was 


so much withheld from the pockets of the agriculturist. In 
like manner the power of the majority section was employed to 
appropriate to itself an unequal share of the public disburse- 
ments. These combined causes — the possession of more terri- 
tory, more money, and a wider field for the employment of 
special labor — all served to attract immigration ; and, with in- 
creasing population, the greed grew by what it fed on. 

This became distinctly manifest when the so-called " Eepub- 
lican " Convention assembled in Chicago, on May 16, 1860, to 
nominate a candidate for the Presidency. It was a purely sec- 
tional body. There were a few delegates present, representing 
an insignificant minority in the "border States," Delaware, 
Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri ; but not one from 
any State south of the celebrated political line of thirty-six de- 
grees thirty minutes. It had been the invariable usage with 
nominating conventions of all parties to select candidates for the 
Presidency and Vice-Presidency, one from the North and the 
other from the South ; but this assemblage nominated Mr. Lin- 
coln, of Illinois, for the first office, and for the second, Mr. 
Hamlin, of Maine — both Northerners. Mr. Lincoln, its nomi- 
nee for the Presidency, had publicly announced that the Union 
" could not permanently endure, half slave and half free.'-' The 
resolutions adopted contained some carefully worded declara- 
tions, well adapted to deceive the credulous who were opposed 
to hostile aggressions upon the rights of the States. In order 
to accomplish this purpose, they were compelled to create a fic- 
titious issue, in denouncing what they described as " the new 
dogma that the Constitution, of its own force, carries slavery 
into any or all of the Territories of the United States " — a " dog- 
ma " which had never been held or declared by anybody, and 
which had no existence outside of their own assertion. There 
was enough in connection with the nomination to assure the 
most fanatical foes of the Constitution that their ideas would be 
the rule and guide of the party. 

Meantime, the Democratic party had held a convention, com- 
posed as usual of delegates from all the States. They met in 
Charleston, South Carolina, on April 23d, but an unfortunate 
disagreement with regard to the declaration of principles to be 


set forth rendered a nomination impracticable. Both divisions 
of the Convention adjourned, and met again in Baltimore in 
June. Then, having finally failed to come to an agreement, 
they separated and made their respective nominations apart. 
Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, was nominated by the friends of the 
doctrine of " popular sovereignty," with Mr. Fitzpatrick, of 
Alabama, for the Yice-Presidency. Both these gentlemen at 
that time were Senators from their respective States. Mr. Fitz- 
patrick promptly declined the nomination, and his place was 
filled with the name of Mr. Herschel Y. Johnson, a distin- 
guished citizen of Georgia. 

The Convention representing the conservative, or State- 
Rights, wing of the Democratic party (the President of which 
was the Hon. Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts), on the first 
ballot, unanimously made choice of John C. Breckinridge, of 
Kentucky, then Yice-President of the United States, for the 
first office, and with like unanimity selected General Joseph 
Lane, then a Senator from Oregon, for the second. The reso- 
lutions of each of these two conventions denounced the action 
and policy of the Abolition party, as subversive of the Consti- 
tution, and revolutionary in their tendency. 

Another convention was held in Baltimore about the same 
period * by those who still adhered to the old Whig party, re- 
enforced by the remains of the " American " organization, and 
perhaps some others. This Convention also consisted of dele- 
gates from all the States, and, repudiating all geographical and 
sectional issues, and declaring it to be " both the part of patri- 
otism and of duty to recognize no political principle other than 
the Constitution of the country, the Union of the States, and 
the enforcement of the laws," pledged itself and its supporters 
". to maintain, protect, and defend, separately and unitedly, those 
great principles of public liberty and national safety against all 
enemies at home and abroad." Its nominees were Messrs. John 
Bell, of Tennessee, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, both 
of whom had long been distinguished members of the Whig 

The people of the United States now had four rival tickets 

* May 19, 1860. 


presented to them by as many contending parties, whose respec- 
tive position and principles on the great and absorbing question 
at issue may be briefly recapitulated as follows : 

1. The " Constitutional-Union " party, as it was now termed, 
led by Messrs. Bell and Everett, which ignored the territorial 
controversy altogether, and contented itself, as above stated, with 
a simple declaration of adherence to " the Constitution, the 
Union, and the enforcement of the laws." 

2. The party of " popular sovereignty," headed by Douglas 
and Johnson, who affirmed the right of the people of the Terri- 
tories, in their territorial condition, to determine their own or- 
ganic institutions, independently of the control of Congress; 
denying the power or duty of Congress to protect the persons or 
property of individuals or minorities in such Territories against 
the action of majorities. 

3. The State-Eights party, supporting Breckinridge and 
Lane, who held that the Territories were open to citizens of all 
the States, with their property, without any inequality or dis- 
crimination, and that it was the duty of the General Govern- 
ment to protect both persons and property from aggression in 
the Territories subject to its control. At the same time they ad- 
mitted and asserted the right of the people of a Territory, on 
emerging from their territorial condition to that of a State, 
to determine what should then be their domestic institutions, 
as well as all other questions of personal or proprietary right, 
without interference by Congress, and subject only to the limi- 
tations and restrictions prescribed by the Constitution of the 
United States. 

4. The so-called " Republicans," presenting the names of 
Lincoln and Hamlin, who held, in the language of one of their 
leaders,* that " slavery can exist only by virtue of municipal 
law " ; that there was " no law for it in the Territories, and no 
power to enact one " ; and that Congress was " bound to pro- 
hibit it in or exclude it from any and every Federal Territory." 
In other words, they asserted the right and duty of Congress to 
exclude the citizens of half the States of the Union from the 
territory belonging in common to all, unless on condition of the 

* Horace Greeley, " The American Conflict," vol. i, p. 322. 


sacrifice or abandonment of their property recognized by the 
Constitution — indeed, of the only species of their property dis- 
tinctly and specifically recognized as such by that instrument. 

On the vital question underlying the whole controversy — 
that is, whether the Federal Government should be a Govern- 
ment of the whole for the benefit of all its equal members, or 
(if it should continue to exist at all) a sectional Government for 
the benefit of a part — the first three of the parties above de- 
scribed were in substantial accord as against the fourth. If they 
could or would have acted unitedly, they could certainly have 
carried the election, and averted the catastrophe which followed. 
!Nor were efforts wanting to effect such a union. 

Mr. Bell, the Whig candidate, was a highly respectable and 
experienced statesman, who had filled many important offices, 
both State and ^Federal. He was not ambitious to the extent of 
coveting the Presidency, and he was profoundly impressed by 
the danger which threatened the country. Mr. Breckinridge 
had not anticipated, and it may safely be said did not eagerly 
desire, the nomination. He was young enough to wait, and pa- 
triotic enough to be willing to do so, if the weal of the country 
required it. Thus much I may confidently assert of both those 
gentlemen ; for each of them authorized me to say that he was 
willing to withdraw, if an arrangement could be effected by 
which the divided forces of the friends of the Constitution could 
be concentrated upon some one more generally acceptable than 
either of the three who had been presented to the country. 
When I made this announcement to Mr. Douglas — with whom 
my relations had always been such as to authorize the assurance 
that he could not consider it as made in an unfriendly spirit — 
he replied that the scheme proposed was impracticable, because 
his friends, mainly Northern Democrats, if he were withdrawn, 
would join in the support of Mr. Lincoln, rather than of any 
one that should supplant Kim (Douglas) ; that he was in the 
hands of his friends, and was sure they would not accept the 

It needed but little knowledge of the status of parties in the 
several States to foresee a probable defeat if the conservatives 
were to continue divided into three parts, and the aggressives 


were to be held in solid column. But angry passions, which 
are always bad counselors, had been aroused, and hopes were 
still cherished, which proved to be illusory. The result was 
the election, by a minority, of a President whose avowed prin- 
ciples were necessarily fatal to the harmony of the Union. 

Of 303 electoral votes, Mr. Lincoln received 180, but of the 
popular suffrage of 4,676,853 votes, which the electors repre- 
sented, he obtained only 1,866,352 — something over a third of 
the votes. This discrepancy was owing to the system of voting 
by " general ticket " — that is, casting the State votes as a unit, 
whether unanimous or nearly equally divided. Thus, in New 
York, the total popular vote was 675,156, of which 362,646 were 
cast for the so-called Republican (or Lincoln) electors, and 312,- 
510 against them. New York was entitled to 35 electoral votes. 
Divided on the basis of the popular vote, 19 of these would have 
been cast for Mr. Lincoln, and 16 against him. But under the 
" general ticket " system the entire 35 votes were cast for the 
Republican candidates, thus giving them not only the full 
strength of the majority in their favor, but that of the great mi- 
nority against them superadded. So of other Northern States, 
in which the small majorities on one side operated with the 
weight of entire unanimity, while the virtual unanimity in the 
Southern States, on the other side, counted nothing more than a 
mere majority would have done. 

The manifestations which followed this result, in the South- 
ern States, did not proceed, as has been unjustly charged, from 
chagrin at their defeat in the election, or from any personal hos- 
tility to the President-elect, but from the fact that they recog- 
nized in him the representative of a party professing principles 
destructive to " their peace, their prosperity, and their domestic 
tranquillity. " The long-suppressed fire burst into frequent flame, 
but it was still controlled by that love of the Union which the 
South had illustrated in every battle-field, from Boston to New 
Orleans. Still it was hoped, against hope, that some adjustment 
might be made to avert the calamities of a practical application 
of the theory of an " irrepressible conflict." Few, if any, then 
doubted the right of a State to withdraw its grants delegated to 
the Federal Government, or, in other words, to secede from the 


Union ; but in the South this was generally regarded as the 
remedy of last resort, to be applied only when ruin or dishonor 
was the alternative. No rash or revolutionary action was taken 
by the Southern States, but the measures adopted were consid- 
erate, and executed advisedly and deliberately. The Presiden- 
tial election occurred (as far as the popular vote, which deter- 
mined the result, was concerned) in November, 1860. Most of 
the State Legislatures convened soon afterward in regular ses- 
sion. In some cases special sessions were convoked for the pur- 
pose of calling State Conventions — the recognized representatives 
of the sovereign will of the people — to be elected expressly for 
the purpose of taking such action as should be considered need- 
ful and proper under the existing circumstances. 

These conventions, as it was always held and understood, 
possessed all the power of the people assembled in mass ; and 
therefore it was conceded that they, and they only, could take 
action for the withdrawal of a State from the Union. The con- 
sent of the respective States to the formation of the Union had 
been given through such conventions, and it was only by the 
same authority that it could properly be revoked. The time 
required for this deliberate and formal process precludes the 
idea of hasty or passionate action, and none who admit the pri- 
mary power of the people to govern themselves can consistently 
deny its validity and binding obligation upon every citizen of 
the several States. Not only was there ample time for calm 
consideration among the people of the South, but for due reflec- 
tion by the General Government and the people of the Northern 

President Buchanan was in the last year of his administra- 
tion. His freedom from sectional asperity, his long life in the 
public service, and his peace-loving and conciliatory character, 
were all guarantees against his precipitating a conflict between 
the Federal Government and any of the States ; but the feeble 
power that he possessed in the closing months of his term 
to mold the policy of the future was painfully evident. Like 
all who had intelligently and impartially studied the history of 
the formation of the Constitution, he held that the Federal Gov- 
ernment had no rightful power to coerce a State. Like the sages 


and patriots who had preceded him in the high office that he 
tilled, he believed that " our Union rests upon public opinion, 
and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in 
civil war. If it can not live in the affections of the people, it 
must one day perish. Congress may possess many meajp of 
preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in 
their hand to preserve it by force." — (Message of December 3, 

Ten years before, Mr. Calhoun, addressing the Senate with 
all the earnestness of his nature, and with that sincere desire to 
avert the danger of disunion which those who knew him best 
never doubted, had asked the emphatic question, " How can 
the Union be saved % " He answered his question thus : 

" There is but one way by which it can be [saved] with any 
certainty ; and that is by a full and final settlement, on the prin- 
ciples of justice, of all the questions at issue between the sections. 
The South asks for justice — simple justice — and less she ought not 
to take. She has no compromise to offer but the Constitution, and 
no concession or surrender to make. . . . 

" Can this be done ? Yes, easily ! Not by the weaker party ; 
for it can of itself do nothing — not even protect itself — but by the 
stronger. . . . But will the North agree to do this ? It is for 
her to answer this question. But, I will say, she can not refuse if 
she has half the love of the Union which she professes to have, 
nor without exposing herself to the charge that her love of power 
and aggrandizement is far greater than her love of the Union." 

During the ten years that intervened between the date of 
this speech and the message of Mr. Buchanan cited above, the 
progress of sectional discord and the tendency of the stronger 
section to unconstitutional aggression had been fearfully rapid. 
With very rare exceptions, there were none in 1850 who claimed 
the right of the Federal Government to apply coercion to a State. 
In 1860 men had grown to be familiar with threats of driving 
the South into submission to any act that the Government, in 
the hands of a Northern majority, might see fit to perform. 
During the canvass of that year, demonstrations had been made 
by ^cm-military organizations in various parts of the North, 


which looked unmistakably to purposes widely different from 
those enunciated in the preamble to the Constitution, and to 
the employment of means not authorized by the powers which 
the States had delegated to the Federal Government. 

Well-informed men still remembered that, in the Convention 
which framed the Constitution, a proposition was made to au- 
thorize the employment of force against a delinquent State, on 
which Mr. Madison remarked that " the use of force against a 
State 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 have been bound." The Convention expressly refused 
to confer the power proposed, and the clause was lost. While, 
therefore, in 1860, many violent men, appealing to passion and 
the lust of power, were inciting the multitude, and preparing 
Northern opinion to support a war waged against the Southern 
States in the event of their secession, there were others who 
took a different view of the case. Notable among such was the 
" New York Tribune," which had been the organ of the abo- 
litionists, and which now declared that, " if the cotton States 
wished to withdraw from the Union, they should be allowed to 
do so " ; that " any attempt to compel them to remain, by force, 
would be contrary to the principles of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence and to the fundamental ideas upon which human lib- 
erty is based " ; and that, " if the Declaration of Independence 
justified the secession from the British Empire of three millions 
of subjects in 1776, it was not seen why it would not justify the 
secession of five millions of Southerners from the Union in 
1861." Again, it was said by the same journal that, "sooner 
than compromise with the South and abandon the Chicago plat- 
form," they would " let the Union slide." Taunting expressions 
were freely used — as, for example, " If the Southern people 
wish to leave the Union, we will do our best to forward their 

All this, it must be admitted, was quite consistent with the oft- 
repeated declaration that the Constitution was a " covenant with 
hell," which stood as the caption of a leading abolitionist paper 
of Boston. That signs of coming danger so visible, evidences 


of hostility so unmistakable, disregard of constitutional obliga- 
tions so wanton, taunts and jeers so bitter and insulting, should 
serve to increase excitement in the South, was a consequence 
flowing as much from reason and patriotism as from sentiment. 
He must have been ignorant of human nature who did not ex- 
pect such a tree to bear fruits of discord and division. 


Conference with the Governor of Mississippi. — The Author censured as " too slow." 
— Summons to Washington. — Interview with the President. — His Message. — 
Movements in Congress. — The Triumphant Majority. — The Crittenden Proposi- 
tion. — Speech of the Author on Mr. Green's Resolution. — The Committee of 
Thirteen. — Failure to agree.— The " Republicans " responsible for the Failure. 
— Proceedings in the House of Representatives. — Futility of Efforts for an Ad- 
justment. — The Old Year closes in Clouds. 

In November, 1860, after the result of the Presidential elec- 
tion was known, the Governor of Mississippi, having issued his 
proclamation convoking a special session of the Legislature to 
consider the propriety of calling a convention, invited the Sena- 
tors and Representatives of the State in Congress, to meet him 
for consultation as to the character of the message he should 
send to the Legislature when assembled. 

While holding, in common with my political associates, that 
the right of a State to secede was unquestionable, I differed from 
most of them as to the probability of our being permitted peace- 
ably to exercise the right. The knowledge acquired by the ad- 
ministration of the War Department for four years, and by the 
chairmanship of the Military Committee of the Senate at two 
different periods, still longer in combined duration, had shown 
me the entire lack of preparation for war in the South. The 
foundries and armories were in the Northern States, and there 
were stored all the new and improved weapons of war. In the 
arsenals of the Southern States were to be found only arms of 
the old and rejected models. The South had no manufactories 
of powder, and no navy to protect our harbors, no merchant- 


ships for foreign commerce. It was evident to me, therefore, 
that, if we should be involved in war, the odds against us would 
be far greater than what was due merely to our inferiority in 
population. Believing that secession would be the precursor of 
war between the States, I was consequently slower and more 
reluctant than others, who entertained a different opinion, to 
resort to that remedy. 

While engaged in the consultation with the Governor just 
referred to, a telegraphic message was handed to me from two 
members of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet, urging me to proceed " im- 
mediately " to Washington. This dispatch was laid before the 
Governor and the members of Congress from the State who 
were in conference with him, and it was decided that I should 
comply with the summons. I was afterward informed that my 
associates considered me "too slow," and they were probably 
correct in the belief that I was behind the general opinion of 
the people of the State as to the propriety of prompt secession.* 

* The following extract from a letter of the Hon. 0. R. Singleton, then a Repre- 
sentative of Mississippi in the United States Congress, in regard to the subject 

treated, is herewith annexed : 

u Canton, Mississippi, July 14, 187T. 

"In 1860, about the time the ordinance of secession was passed by the South 
Carolina Convention, and while Mississippi, Alabama, and other Southern States 
were making active preparations to follow her example, a conference of the Missis- 
sippi delegation in Congress, Senators and Representatives, was asked for by Gov- 
ernor J. J. Pettus, for consultation as to the course Mississippi ought to take in the 

"The meeting took place in the fall of 1860, at Jackson, the capital, the whole 
delegation being present, with perhaps the exception of one Representative. 

" The main question for consideration was : c Shall Mississippi, as soon as her 
Convention can meet, pass an ordinance of secession, thus placing herself by the 
side of South Carolina, regardless of the action of other States ; or shall she endeavor 
to hold South Carolina in check, and delay action herself, until other States can get 
ready, through their conventions, to unite with them, and then, on a given day and 
at a given hour, by concert of action, all the States willing to do so, secede in a 
body ? ' 

" Upon the one side, it was argued that South Carolina could not be induced to 
delay action a single moment beyond the meeting of her Convention, and that our 
fate should be hers, and to delay action would be to have her crushed by the Federal 
Government ; whereas, by the earliest action possible, we might be able to avert this 
calamity. On the other side, it was contended that delay might bring the Federal 
Government to consider the emergency of the case, and perhaps a compromise could 


On arrival at Washington, I found, as had been anticipated, 
that my presence there was desired on account of the influence 
which it was supposed I might exercise with the President (Mr. 
Buchanan) in relation to his forthcoming message to Congress. 
On paying my respects to the President, he told me that he had 
finished the rough draft of his message, but that it was still open 
to revision and amendment; and that he would like to read it to 
me. He did so, and very kindly accepted all the modifications 
which I suggested. The message was, however, afterward some- 
what changed, and, with great deference to the wisdom and 
statesmanship of its author, I must say that, in my judgment, the 
last alterations were unfortunate — so much so that, when it was 
read in the Senate, I was reluctantly constrained to criticise it. 
Compared, however, with documents of the same class which 
have since been addressed to the Congress of the United States, 
the reader of Presidential messages must regret that it was not 
accepted by Mr. Buchanan's successors as a model, and that his 
views of the Constitution had not been adopted as a guide in 
the subsequent action of the Federal Government. 

The popular movement in the South was tending steadily 

be effected ; but, if not, then the proposed concert of action would at least give 
dignity to the movement, and present an undivided Southern front. 

" The debate lasted many hours, and Mr. Davis, with perhaps one other gentle- 
man in that conference, opposed immediate and separate State action, declaring 
himself opposed to secession as long as the hope of a peaceable remedy remained. 
He did not believe we ought to precipitate the issue, as he felt certain from his 
knowledge of the people, North and South, that, once there was a clash of arms, the 
contest would be one of the most sanguinary the world had ever witnessed. 

" A majority of the meeting decided that no delay should be interposed to sepa- 
rate State action, Mr. Davis being on the other side ; but, after the vote was taken 
and the question decided, Mr. Davis declared he would stand by whatever action the 
Convention representing the sovereignty of the State of Mississippi might think 
proper to take. 

" After the conference was ended, several of its members were dissatisfied with 
the course of Mr. Davis, believing that he was entirely opposed to secession, and was 
seeking to delay action upon the part of Mississippi, with the hope that it might be 
entirely averted. 

" In some unimportant respects my memory may be at fault, and possibly some 
of the inferences drawn may be incorrect ; but every material statement made, I am 
sure, is true, and if need, be can be, easily substantiated by other persons. 

" Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
(Signed) "O.K. Singleton. 


and rapidly toward the secession of those known as " planting 
States " ; yet, when Congress assembled on December 3, 1860 
the representatives of the people of all those States took their 
seats in the House, and they were all represented in the Senate, 
except South Carolina, whose Senators had tendered their resig- 
nation to the Governor immediately on the announcement of 
the result of the Presidential election. Hopes were still cher- 
ished that the Northern leaders would appreciate the impending 
peril, would cease to treat the warnings, so often given, as idle 
threats, would refrain from the bravado, so often and so unwisely 
indulged, of ability " to whip the South " in thirty, sixty, or 
ninety days, and would address themselves to the more manly 
purpose of devising means to allay the indignation, and quiet 
the apprehensions, whether well founded or not, of their South- 
ern brethren. But the debates of that session manifest, on the 
contrary, the arrogance of a triumphant party, and the deter- 
mination to reap to the uttermost the full harvest of a party 

Mr. Crittenden, of E^entucky, the oldest and one of the most 
honored members of the Senate,* introduced into that body a 
joint resolution proposing certain amendments to the Constitu- 
tion — among them the restoration and incorporation into the 
Constitution of the geographical line of the Missouri Compro- 
mise, with other provisions, which it was hoped might be ac- 
cepted as the basis for an adjustment of the difficulties rapidly 
hurrying the Union to disruption. But the earnest appeals of 
that venerable statesman were unheeded by Senators of the so- 
called Kepublican party. Action upon his proposition was post- 
poned from time to time, on one pretext or another, until the 
last day of the session— when seven States had already with- 
drawn from the Union and established a confederation of 
their own — and it was then defeated by a majority of one 

* Mr. Crittenden had been a life-long Whig. His first entrance into the Senate 
was in 1817, and he was a member of that body at various periods during the ensu- 
ing forty-four years. He was Attorney-General in the Whig Cabinets of both Gen- 
eral Harrison and Mr. Fillmore, and supported the Bell and Everett ticket in 1860. 

f The vote was nineteen yeas to twenty nays ; total, thirty-nine. As the consent 
of two thirds of each House is necessary to propose an amendment for action by the 


Meantime, among other propositions made in the Senate 
were two introduced early in the session, which it may be proper 
specially to mention. One of these was a resolution offered by 
Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, which, after ' some modification by 
amendment, when finally acted upon, had taken the following 
form : 

" Resolved, That so much of the President's message as relates 
to the present agitated and distracted condition of the country, 
and the grievances between the slaveholding and the non-slave- 
holding States, be referred to a special committee of thirteen mem- 
bers, and that said committee be instructed to inquire into the 
present condition of the country, and report by bill or otherwise." 

The other was a resolution offered by Mr. Green, of Mis- 
souri, to the following effect : 

" Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be instructed 
to inquire into the propriety of providing by law for establishing 
an armed police force at all necessary points along the line sepa- 
rating the slaveholding States from the non-slaveholding States, 
for the purpose of maintaining the general peace between those 
States, of preventing the invasion of one State by citizens of an- 
other, and also for the efficient execution of the fugitive-slave laws." 

In the discussion of these two resolutions I find, in the pro- 
ceedings of the Senate on December 10th, as reported in the 
" Congressional Globe," some remarks of my own, the repro- 
duction of which will serve to exhibit my position at that period 
— a position which has since been often misrepresented : 

" Mr. President,* if the political firmament seemed to me dark 
before, there has been little in the discussion this morning to cheer 
or illumine it. When the proposition of the Senator from Ken- 
tucky was presented — not very hopeful of a good result— I was 
yet willing to wait and see what developments it might produce. 
This morning, for the first time, it has been considered ; and what 
of encouragement have we received ? One Senator proposes, as a 
cure for the public evil impending over us, to invest the Federal 

States, twenty-six of the votes cast in. the Senate would have been necessary to sus- 
tain the proposition. It actually failed, therefore, by seven votes, instead of one. 


Government with such physical power as properly belongs to mon- 
archy alone ; another announces that his constituents cling to the 
Federal Government, if its legislative favors and its Treasury se- 
cure the works of improvement and the facilities which they desire ; 
while another rises to point out that the evils of the land are of a 
party character. Sir, we have fallen upon evil times indeed, if 
the great convulsion which now shakes the body-politic to its cen- 
ter is to be dealt with by such nostrums as these. Men must look 
more deeply, must rise to a higher altitude ; like patriots they 
must confront the danger face to face, if they hope to relieve the 
evils which now disturb the peace of the land, and threaten the 
destruction of our political existence. 

"First of all, we must inquire what is the cause of the evils 
which beset us ? The diagnosis of the disease must be stated be- 
fore we are prepared to prescribe. Is it the fault of our legislation 
here ? If so, then it devolves upon us to correct it, and we have 
the power. Is it the defect of the Federal organization, of the 
fundamental law of our Union ? I hold that it is not. Our fathers, 
learning wisdom from the experiments of Rome and of Greece — the 
one a consolidated republic, and the other strictly a confederacy — 
and taught by the lessons of our own experiment under the Confed- 
eration, came together to form a Constitution for " a more perfect 
union," and, in my judgment, made the best government which 
has ever been instituted by man. It only requires that it should 
be carried out in the spirit in which it was made, that the circum- 
stances under which it was made should continue, and no evil can 
arise under this Government for which it has not an appropriate 
remedy. Then it is outside of the Government — elsewhere than 
to its Constitution or to its administration — that we are to look. 
Men must not creep in the dust of partisan strife and seek to 
make points against opponents as the means of evading or meeting 
the issues before us. The fault is not in the form of the Govern- 
ment, nor does the evil spring from the manner in which it has 
been administered. Where, then, is it ? It is that our fathers 
formed a Government for a Union of friendly States ; and though 
under it the people have been prosperous beyond comparison with 
any other whose career is recorded in the history of man, still that 
Union of friendly States has changed its character, and sectional 
hostility has been substituted for the fraternity in which the Gov- 
ernment was founded. 


" I do not intend here to enter into a statement of grievances ; 
I do not intend here to renew that war of crimination which for 
years past has disturbed the country, and in which I have taken a 
part perhaps more zealous than useful ; but I call upon all men 
who have in their hearts a love of the Union, and whose service 
is not merely that of the lip, to look the question calmly but fully 
in the face, that they may see the true cause of our danger, which, 
from my examination, I believe to be that a sectional hostility 
has been substituted for a general fraternity, and thus the Gov- 
ernment rendered powerless for the ends for which it was insti- 
tuted. The hearts of a portion of the people have been per- 
verted by that hostility, so that the powers delegated by the com- 
pact of union are regarded not as means to secure the welfare of 
all, but as instruments for the destruction of a part — the minority 
section. How, then, have we to provide a remedy ? By strength- 
ening this Government ? By instituting physical force to overawe 
the States, to coerce the people living under them as members of 
sovereign communities to pass under the yoke of the Federal Gov- 
ernment ? No, sir ; I would have this Union severed into thirty- 
three fragments sooner than have that great evil befall constitu- 
tional liberty and representative government. Our Government 
is an agency of delegated and strictly limited powers. Its found- 
ers did not look to its preservation by force ; but the chain they 
wove to bind these States together was one of love and mutual 
good offices. They had broken the fetters of despotic power ; they 
had separated themselves from the mother-country upon the ques- 
tion of community independence ;, and their sons will be degener- 
ate indeed if, clinging to the mere name and forms of free govern- 
ment, they forge and rivet upon their posterity the fetters which 
their ancestors broke. . . . 

" The remedy for these evils is to be found in the patriotism 
and the affection of the people, if it exists ; and, if it does not ex- 
ist, it is far better, instead of attempting to preserve a forced and 
therefore fruitless Union, that we should peacefully part and each 
pursue his separate course. It is not to this side of the Chamber 
that we should look for propositions ; it is not here that we can 
ask for remedies. Complaints, with much amplitude of specifica- 
tion, have gone forth from the members on this side of the Cham- 
ber heretofore. It is not to be expected that they will be renewed, 
for the people have taken the subject into their own hands. States, 


in their sovereign capacity, have now resolved to judge of the in- 
fractions of the Federal compact, and of the mode and measure of 
redress. All we can usefully or properly do is to send to the peo- 
ple, thus preparing to act for themselves, evidence of error, if error 
there be ; to transmit to them the proofs of kind feeling, if it ac- 
tuates the Northern section, where they now believe there is only 
hostility. If we are mistaken as to your feelings and purposes, 
give a substantial proof, that here may begin that circle which 
hence may spread out and cover the whole land with proofs of fra- 
ternity, of a reaction in public sentiment, and the assurance of a 
future career in conformity with the principles and purposes of 
the Constitution. All else is idle. I would not give the parch- 
ment on which the bill would be written that is to secure our con- 
stitutional rights within the limits of a State, where the people are 
all opposed to the execution of that law. It is a truism in free 
governments that laws rest upon public opinion, and fall power- 
less before its determined opposition. 

" The time has passed, sir, when appeals might profitably be 
made to sentiment. The time has come when men must of neces- 
sity reason, assemble facts, and deal with current events. I may 
be permitted in this to correct an error into which one of my 
friends fell this morning, when he impressed on us the great value 
of our Union as measured by the amount of time and money and 
blood which were spent to form this Union. It cost very little 
time, very little money, and no blood. It was one of the most 
peaceful transactions that mark the pages of human history. Our 
fathers fought the war of the Revolution to maintain the rights 
asserted in their Declaration of Independence." 

Mr. Powell : " The Senator from Mississippi will allow me to 
say that I spoke of the Government, not of the Union. I said 
time and money and blood had been required to form the Govern- 

Me. Davis : " The Government is the machinery established 
by the Constitution ; it is the agency created by the States when 
they formed the Union. Our fathers, I was proceeding to say, 
having fought the war of the Revolution, and achieved their inde- 
pendence — each State for itself, each State standing out an inte- 
gral part, each State separately recognized by the parent Govern- 
ment of Great Britain — these States as independent sovereignties 
entered into confederate alliance. After having tried the Confed- 


eration and found it to be a failure, they, of their own accord, 
came peacefully together, and in a brief period made a Constitu- 
tion, which was referred to each State and voluntarily ratified by 
each State that entered the Union ; little time, little money, and 
no blood being expended to form this Government, the machine 
for making the Union useful and beneficial. Blood, much and 
precious, was expended to vindicate and to establish community 
independence, and the great American idea that all governments 
rest on the consent of the governed, and that the people may at 
their will alter or abolish their government, however or by whom- 
soever instituted. 

" But our existing Government is not the less sacred to me be- 
cause it was not sealed with blood. I honor it the more because 
it was the free-will offering of men who chose to live together. It 
rooted in fraternity, and fraternity supported its trunk and all its 
branches. Every bud and leaflet depends entirely on the nurture 
it receives from fraternity as the root of the tree. When that is 
destroyed, the trunk decays, and the branches wither, and the 
leaves fall ; and the shade it was designed to give has passed away 
for ever. I cling not merely to the name and form, but to the 
spirit and purpose of the Union which our fathers made. It was 
for domestic tranquillity ; not to organize within one State lawless 
bands to commit raids upon another. It was to provide for the 
common defense ; not to disband armies and navies, lest they 
should serve the protection of one section of the country better 
than another. It was to bring the forces of all the States together 
to achieve a common object, upholding each the other in amity, 
and united to repel exterior force. All the custom-house obstruc- 
tions existing between the States were destroyed ; the power to 
regulate commerce transferred to the General Government. Every 
barrier to the freest intercourse was swept away. Under the Con- 
federation it had been secured as a right to each citizen to have 
free transit over all the other States ; and under the Union it was 
designed to make this more perfect. Is it enjoyed ? Is it not 
denied ? Do we not have mere speculative question of what is 
property raised in defiance of the clear intent of the Constitution, 
offending as well against its letter as against its whole spirit ? 
This must be reformed, or the Government our fathers instituted 
is destroyed. I say, then, shall we cling to the mere forms or 
idolize the name of Union, when its blessings are lost, after its 


spirit has fled? Who would keep a flower, which had lost its 
beauty and its fragrance, and in their stead had formed a seed- 
vessel containing the deadliest poison ? Or, to drop the figure, 
who would consent to remain in alliance with States which used 
the power thus acquired to invade his tranquillity, to impair his de- 
fense, to destroy his peace and security ? Any community would 
he stronger standing in an isolated position, and using its revenues 
to maintain its own physical force, than if allied with those who 
would thus war upon its prosperity and domestic peace ; and rea- 
son, pride, self-interest, and the apprehension of secret, constant 
danger would impel to separation. 

" I do not comprehend the policy of a Southern Senator who 
would seek to change the whole form of our Government, and sub- 
stitute Federal force for State obligation and authority. Do we 
want a new Government that is to overthrow the old ? Do we 
wish to erect a central Colossus, wielding at discretion the military 
arm, and exercising military force over the people and the States ? 
This is not the Union to which we were invited ; and so carefully 
was this guarded that, when our fathers provided for using force 
to put down insurrection, they required that the fact of the insur- 
rection should be communicated by the authorities of the State 
before the President could interpose. When it was proposed to 
give to Congress power to execute the laws against a delinquent 
State, it was refused on the ground that that would be making 
war on the States ; and, though I know the good purpose of my 
honorable friend from Missouri is only to give protection to con- 
stitutional rights, I fear his proposition is to rear a monster, which 
will break the feeble chain provided, and destroy rights it was in- 
tended to guard. That military Government which he is about to 
institute, by passing into hostile hands, becomes a weapon for his 
destruction, not for his protection. All dangers which we may be 
called upon to confront as independent communities are light, in 
my estimation, compared with that which would hang over us if 
this Federal Government had such physical force ; if its character 
was changed from a representative agent of States to a central 
Government, with a military power to be used at discretion against 
the States. To-day it may be the idea that it will be used against 
some State which nullifies the Constitution and the laws ; some 
State which passes laws to obstruct or repeal the laws of the United 
States ; some State which, in derogation of our rights of transit 


under the Constitution, passes laws to punish a citizen found there 
with property recognized by the Constitution of the United States, 
but prohibited by the laws of that State. 

" But how long might it be before that same military force 
would be turned against the minority section which had sought its 
protection ; and that minority thus become mere subjugated prov- 
inces under the great military government that it had thus con- 
tributed to establish ? The minority, incapable of aggression, is, 
of necessity, always on the defensive, and often the victim of 
the desertion of its followers and the faithlessness of its allies. It 
therefore must maintain, not destroy, barriers. 

" I do not know that I fully appreciate the purpose of my friend 
from Missouri ; whether, when he spoke of establishing military 
posts along the borders of the States, and arming the Federal Gov- 
ernment with adequate physical power to enforce constitutional 
rights (I suppose he meant obligations), he meant to confer upon 
this Federal Government a power which it does not now possess to 
coerce a State. If he did, then, in the language of Mr. Madison, 
he is providing, not for a union of States, but for the destruction 
of States ; he is providing, under the name of Union, to carry 
on a war against States ; and I care not whether it be against 
Massachusetts or Missouri, it is equally objectionable to me ; 
and I will resist it alike in the one case and in the other, as 
subversive of the great principle on which our Government rests ; 
as a heresy to be confronted at its first presentation, and put 
down there, lest it grow into proportions which will render us 
powerless before it. 

" The theory of our Constitution, Mr. President, is one of peace, 
of equality of sovereign States. It was made by States and made 
for States ; and for greater assurance they passed an amendment, 
doing that which was necessarily implied by the nature of the in- 
strument, as it was a mere instrument of grants. But, in the 
abundance of caution, they declared that everything which had 
not been delegated was reserved to the States, or to the people — 
that is, to the State governments as instituted by the people of 
each State, or to the people in their sovereign capacity. 

"I need not, then, go on to argue from the history and nature 
of our Government that no power of coercion exists in it. It is 
enough for me to demand the clause of the Constitution which 
confers the power. If it is not there, the Government does not 


possess it. That is the plain construction of the Constitution — 
made plainer, if possible, by its amendment. 

" This Union is dear to me as a Union of fraternal States. It 
would lose its value if I had to regard it as a Union held together 
by physical force. I would be happy to know that every State 
now felt that fraternity which made this Union possible ; and, if 
that evidence could go out, if evidence satisfactory to the people 
of the South could be given that that feeling existed in the hearts 
of the Northern people, you might burn your statute-books and we 
would cling to the Union still. But it is because of their convic- 
tion that hostility, and not fraternity, now exists in the hearts of 
the people, that they are looking to their reserved rights and to 
their independent powers for their own protection. If there be any 
good, then, which we can do, it is by sending evidence to them of 
that which I fear does not exist — the purpose of your constituents 
to fulfill in the spirit of justice and fraternity all their constitu- 
tional obligations. If you can submit to them that evidence, I feel 
confidence that, with the assurance that aggression is henceforth 
to cease, will terminate all the measures for defense. Upon you 
of the majority section it depends to restore peace and perpetuate 
the Union of equal States ; upon us of the minority section rests 
the duty to maintain our equality and community rights ; and the 
means in one case or the other must be such as each can control." 

The resolution of Mr. Powell was eventually adopted on the 
18th of December, and on the 20th the Committee was ap- 
pointed, consisting of Messrs. Powell and Crittenden, of Ken- 
tucky; Hunter, of Virginia; Toombs, of Georgia; Davis, of 
Mississippi; Douglas, of Illinois; Bigler, of Pennsylvania; 
Eice, of Minnesota ; Collamer, of Vermont ; Seward, of New 
York ; Wade, of Ohio ; Doolittle, of "Wisconsin ; and Grimes, 
of Iowa. The first five of the list, as here enumerated, were 
Southern men ; the next three were Northern Democrats, or 
Conservatives ; the last five, Northern " Kepublicans," so 

The supposition was that any measure agreed upon by the 
representatives of the three principal divisions of public opinion 
would be approved by the Senate and afterward ratified by the 
House of Kepresentatives. The Committee therefore deter- 


mined that a majority of each of its three divisions should be 
required in order to the adoption of any proposition presented. 
The Southern members declared their readiness to accept any 
terms that would secure the honor of the Southern States and 
guarantee their future safety. The Northern Democrats and 
Mr. Crittenden generally cooperated with the State-Rights 
Democrats of the South ; but the so-called " Republican " Sena- 
tors of the North rejected every proposition which it was hoped 
might satisfy the Southern people, and check the progress of 
the secession movement. After fruitless efforts, continued for 
some ten days, the Committee determined to report the journal 
of their proceedings, and announce their inability to attain any 
satisfactory conclusion. This report was made on the 31st of 
December — the last day of that memorable and fateful year, 

Subsequently, on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Douglas, who 
had been a member of the Committee, called upon the opposite 
side to state what they were willing to do. He referred to the 
fact that they had rejected every proposition that promised 
pacification; stated that Toombs, of Georgia, and Davis, of 
Mississippi, as members of the Committee, had been willing to 
renew the Missouri Compromise, as a measure of conciliation, 
but had met no responsive willingness on the part of their asso- 
ciates of the opposition ; and he pressed the point that, as they 
had rejected every overture made by the friends of peace, it 
was now incumbent upon them to make a positive and affirma- 
tive declaration of their purposes. 

Mr. Seward, of New York, as we have seen, was a member 
of that Committee — the man who, in 1858, had announced the 
" irrepressible conflict," and who, in the same year, speaking of 
and for abolitionism, had said : " It has driven you back in Cali- 
fornia and in Kansas ; it will invade your soil." He was to be 
the Secretary of State in the incoming Administration, and was 
very generally regarded as the "power behind the throne," 
greater than the throne itself. He was present in the Senate, 
but made no response to Mr. Douglas's demand for a declaration 
of policy. 

Meantime the efforts for an adjustment made in the House 


of Representatives had been equally fruitless. Conspicuous 
among these efforts had been the appointment of a committee 
of thirty-three members — one from each State of the Union — 
charged with a duty similar to that imposed upon the Commit- 
tee of Thirteen in the Senate, but they had been alike unsuc- 
cessful in coming to any agreement. It is true that, a few days 
afterward, they submitted a majority and two minority reports, 
and that the report of the majority was ultimately adopted by 
the House; but, even if this action had been unanimous, and 
had been taken in due time, it would have been practically 
futile on account of its absolute failure to provide or suggest any 
solution of the territorial question, which was the vital point in 

No wonder, then, that, under the shadow of the failure of 
every effort in Congress to find any common ground on which 
the sections could be restored to amity, the close of the year 
should have been darkened by a cloud in the firmament, which 
had lost even the silver lining so long seen, or thought to be 
seen, by the hopeful. 


Preparations for Withdrawal from the Union. — Northern Precedents. — New England 
Secessionists. — Cabot, Pickering, Quincy, etc. — On the Acquisition of Louisiana. 
— The Hartford Convention.— The Massachusetts Legislature on the Annexation 
of Texas, etc., etc. 

The Convention of South Carolina had already (on the 20th 
of December, 1860) unanimously adopted an ordinance revoking 
her delegated powers and withdrawing from the Union. Her 
representatives, on the following day, retired from their seats in 
Congress. The people of the other planting States had been 
only waiting in the lingering hope that some action might be 
taken by Congress to avert the necessity for action similar to 
that of South Carolina. In view of the failure of all overtures 
for conciliation during the first month of the session, they were 
now making their final preparations for secession. This was 


generally admitted to be an unquestionable right appertaining 
to their sovereignty as States, and the only peaceable remedy 
that remained for the evils already felt and the dangers appre- 

In the prior history of the country, repeated instances are 
found of the assertion of this right, and of a purpose entertained 
at various times to put it in execution. Notably is this true of 
Massachusetts and other New England States. The acquisition 
of Louisiana, in 1803, had created much dissatisfaction in those 
States, for the reason, expressed by an eminent citizen of Massa- 
chusetts,* that " the influence of our [the Northeastern] part of 
the Union must be diminished by the acquisition of more weight 
at the other extremity. 5 ' The project of a separation was freely 
discussed, with no intimation, in the records of the period, of 
any idea among its advocates that it could be regarded as treason- 
able or revolutionary. 

Colonel Timothy Pickering, who had been an officer of the 
war of the Eevolution, afterward successively Postmaster-Gen- 
eral, Secretary of "War, and Secretary of State, in the Cabinet of 
General Washington, and, still later, long a representative of 
the State of Massachusetts in the Senate of the United States, 
was one of the leading secessionists of his day. Writing from 
Washington to a friend, on the 24th of December, 1803, he 

" I will not yet despair. I will rather anticipate a new con- 
federacy, exempt from the corrupt and corrupting influence and 
oppression of the aristocratic democrats of the South. There will 
be (and our children, at farthest, will see it) a separation. The 
white and black population will mark the boundary." f 

In another letter, written a few weeks afterward (January 29, 
1804), speaking of what he regarded as wrongs and abuses per- 
petrated by the then existing Administration, he thus expresses 
his views of the remedy to be applied : 

* George Cabot, who had been United States Senator from Massachusetts for 
several years during the Administration of Washington. — (See " Life of Cabot," by 
Lodge, p. 334.) 

f See "Life of Cabot," p. 491 ; letter of Pickering to Higginson. 


"The principles of our Revolution point to the remedy — a 
separation. That this can be accomplished, and without spilling 
one drop of blood, I have little doubt. . . . 

"I do not believe in the practicability of a long-continued 
Union. A Northern Confederacy would unite congenial characters 
and present a fairer prospect of public happiness ; while the South- 
ern States, having a similarity of habits, might be left to 'manage 
their own affairs in their own way.' If a separation were to take 
place, our mutual wants would render a friendly and commercial 
intercourse inevitable. The Southern States would require the 
naval protection of the Northern Union, and the products of the 
former would be important to the navigation and commerce of the 
latter. . . . 

" It [the separation] must begin in Massachusetts. The propo- 
sition would be welcomed in Connecticut ; and could we doubt of 
New Hampshire ? But New York must be associated ; and how 
is her concurrence to be obtained ? She must be made the center 
of the Confederacy. Vermont and New Jersey would follow of 
course, and Rhode Island of necessity." * 

Substituting South Carolina for Massachusetts ; Virginia for 
New York ; Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, for New Hamp- 
shire, Vermont, and Rhode Island ; Kentucky for New Jersey, 
etc., etc., we find the suggestions of 1860-61 only a reproduc- 
tion of those thus outlined nearly sixty years earlier. 

Mr. Pickering seems to have had a correct and intelligent 
perception of the altogether pacific character of the secession 
which he proposed, and of the mutual advantages likely to 
accrue to both sections from a peaceable separation. Writing 
in February, 1804, he explicitly disavows the idea of hostile 
feeling or action toward the South, expressing himself as fol- 

u While thus contemplating the only means of maintaining our 
ancient institutions in morals and religion, and our equal rights, 
we wish no ill to the Southern States and those naturally con- 
nected with them. The public debts might be equitably appor- 
tioned between the new confederacies, and a separation somewhere 
about the line above suggested would divide the different charac- 

* Pickering to Cabot, " Life of Cabot," pp. 338-340. 


ters of the existing Union. The manners of the Eastern portion 
of the States would be sufficiently congenial to form a Union, and 
their interests are alike intimately connected with agriculture and 
commerce. A friendly and commercial intercourse would be main- 
tained with the States in the Southern Confederacy as at present. 
Thus all the advantages which have been for a few years depend- 
ing on the general Union would be continued to its respective por- 
tions, without the jealousies and enmities which now afflict both, 
and which peculiarly embitter the condition of that of the North. 
It is not unusual for two friends, when disagreeing about the mode 
of conducting a common concern, to separate and manage, each in 
his own way, his separate interest, and thereby preserve a useful 
friendship, which without such separation would infallibly be de- 
stroyed." * 

Such were the views of an undoubted patriot who had par- 
ticipated in the formation of the Union, and who had long been 
confidentially associated with Washington in the administration 
of its Government, looking at the subject from a Northern 
standpoint, within fifteen years after the organization of that 
Government under the Constitution. Whether his reasons for 
advocating a dissolution of the Union were valid and sufficient, 
or not, is another question which it is not necessary to discuss. 
His authority is cited only as showing the opinion prevailing in 
the North at that day with regard to the right of secession from 
the Union, if deemed advisable by the ultimate and irreversible 
judgment of the people of a sovereign State. 

In 1811, on the bill for the admission of Louisiana as a State 
of the Union, the Hon. Josiah Quincy, a member of Congress 
from Massachusetts, said : 

" If this bill passes, it is my deliberate opinion that it is vir- 
tually a dissolution of this Union ; that it will free the States from 
their moral obligation ; and as it will be the right of all, so it will 
be the duty of some, definitely to prepare for a separation — ami- 
cably if they can, violently if they must." 

Mr. Poindexter, delegate from what was then the Mississippi 
Territory, took exception to these expressions of Mr. Quincy, 

* Letter to Theodore Lyman, " Life of Cabot," pp. 445, 446. 


and called him to order. The Speaker (Mr. Varnum, of Massa- 
chusetts) sustained Mr. Poindexter, and decided that the sug- 
gestion of a dissolution of the Union was out of order. An 
appeal was taken from this decision, and it was reversed. Mr. 
Quincy proceeded to vindicate the propriety of his position in a 
speech of some length, in the course of which he said : 

" Is there a principle of public law better settled or more con- 
formable to the plainest suggestions of reason than that the vio- 
lation of a contract by one of the parties may be considered as 
exempting the other from its obligations ? Suppose, in private 
life, thirteen form a partnership, and ten of them undertake to 
admit a new partner without the concurrence of the other three ; 
would it not be at their option to abandon the partnership after so 
palpable an infringement of their rights ? How much more in the 
political partnership, where the admission of new associates, with- 
out previous authority, is so pregnant with obvious dangers and 
evils ! " 

It is to be remembered that these men — Cabot, Pickering, 
Quincy, and others — whose opinions and expressions have been 
cited, were not Democrats, misled by extreme theories of State 
rights, but leaders and expositors of the highest type of "Fed- 
eralism, and of a strong central Government." This fact gives 
their support of the right of secession the greater significance. 

The celebrated Hartford Convention assembled in December, 
1814. It consisted of delegates chosen by the Legislatures of 
Massachusetts, Ehode Island, and Connecticut, with an irregular 
or imperfect representation from the other two New England 
States, New Hampshire and Vermont,* convened for the pur- 
pose of considering the grievances complained of by those States 
in connection with the war with Great Britain. They sat with 
closed doors, and the character of their deliberations and dis- 
cussions has not been authentically disclosed. It was generally 
understood, however, that the chief subject of their considera- 
tions was the question of the withdrawal of the States they rep- 
resented from the Union. The decision, as announced in their 
published report, was adverse to the expediency of such a mea- 

* Maine was not then a State. 


sure at that time, and under the then existing conditions ; but 
they proceeded to indicate the circumstances in which a disso- 
lution of the Union might become expedient, and the mode in 
which it should be effected ; and their theoretical plan of sep- 
aration corresponds very nearly with that actually adopted by 
the Southern States nearly Mtj years afterward. They say : 

" If the Union be destined to dissolution by reason of the mul- 
tiplied abuses of bad administration, it should, if possible, be the 
work of peaceable times and deliberate consent. Some new form, 
of confederacy should be substituted among those States which 
shall intend to maintain a federal relation to each other. Events 
may prove that the causes of our calamities are deep and perma- 
nent. They may be found to proceed, not merely from the blind- 
ness of prejudice, pride of opinion, violence of party spirit, or the 
confusion of the times ; but they may be traced to implacable 
combinations of individuals or of States to monopolize power and 
office, and to trample without remorse upon the rights and inter- 
ests of commercial sections of the Union. Whenever it shall ap- 
pear that the causes are radical and permanent, a separation by 
equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by con- 
straint among nominal friends, but real enemies." 

The omission of the single word " commercial," which does 
not affect the principle involved, is the only modification neces- 
sary to adapt this extract exactly to the condition of the South- 
ern States in 1860-'61. 

The obloquy which has attached to the members of the 
Hartford Convention has resulted partly from a want of exact 
knowledge of their proceedings, partly from the secrecy by 
which they were veiled, but mainly because it was a recognized 
effort to paralyze the arm of the Federal Government while en- 
gaged in a war arising from outrages committed upon American 
seamen on the decks of American ships. The indignation felt 
was no doubt aggravated by the fact that those ships belonged in 
a great extent to the people who were now plotting against the 
war-measures of the Government, and indirectly, if not directly, 
giving aid and comfort to the public enemy. Time, which has 
mollified passion, and revealed many things not then known, 


has largely modified the first judgment passed on the proceed- 
ings and purposes of the Hartford Convention ; and, but for the 
circumstances of existing war which surrounded it, they might 
have been viewed as political opinions merely, and have received 
justification instead of censure. 

Again, in 1844- ? 45 the measures taken for the annexation of 
Texas evoked remonstrances, accompanied by threats of a disso- 
lution of the Union from the Northeastern States. The Legis- 
lature of Massachusetts, in 1844, adopted a resolution, declaring, 
in behalf of that State, that " the Commonwealth of Massachu- 
setts, faithful to the compact between the people of the United 
States, according to the plain meaning and intent in which it 
was understood by them, is sincerely anxious for its preserva- 
tion ; but that it is determined, as it doubts not the other States 
are, to submit to undelegated powers in no body of men on 
earth " ; and that " the project of the annexation of Texas, 
unless arrested on the threshold, may tend to drive these States 
into a dissolution of the Union" 

Early in the next year (February 11, 1845), the same Legis- 
lature adopted and communicated to Congress a series of resolu- 
tions on the same subject, in one of which it was declared that, 
" as the powers of legislation granted in the Constitution of the 
United States to Congress do not embrace a case of the admis- 
sion of a foreign state or foreign territory, by legislation, into 
the Union, such an act of admission would have no binding 
force whatever on the people of Massachusetts" — language 
which must have meant that the admission of Texas would be 
a justifiable ground for secession, unless it was intended to an- 
nounce the purpose of nullification. 

It is evident, therefore, that the people of the South, in the 
crisis which confronted them in 1860, had no lack either of pre- 
cept or of precedent for their instruction and guidance in the 
teaching and the example of our brethren of the North and 
East. The only practical difference was, that the North threat- 
ened and the South acted. 



False Statements of the Grounds for Separation. — Slavery not the Cause, but an 
Incident. — The Southern People not " Propagandists " of Slavery. — Early Ac- 
cord among the States with regard to African Servitude. — Statement of the 
Supreme Court. — Guarantees of the Constitution. — Disregard of Oaths. — Fugi- 
tives from Service and the " Personal Liberty Laws." — Equality in the Terri- 
tories the Paramount Question. — The Dred Scott Case. — Disregard of the 
Decision of the Supreme Court. — Culmination of Wrongs. — Despair of their 
Redress. — Triumph of Sectionalism. 

At the period to which this review of events has advanced, 
one State had already withdrawn from the Union. Seven or 
eight others were preparing to follow her example, and others 
yet were anxiously and doubtfully contemplating the probably 
impending necessity of taking the same action. The efforts of 
Southern men in Congress, aided by the cooperation of the 
Northern friends of the Constitution, had failed, by the stub- 
born refusal of a haughty majority, controlled by "radical" 
purposes, to yield anything to the spirit of peace and concilia- 
tion. This period, coinciding, as it happens, with the close of 
a calendar year, affords a convenient point to pause for a brief 
recapitulation of the causes which had led the Southern States 
into the attitude they then held, and for a more full exposition 
of the constitutional questions involved. 

The reader of many of the treatises on these events, which 
have been put forth as historical, if dependent upon such alone 
for information, might naturally enough be led to the conclusion 
that the controversies which arose between the States, and the 
war in which they culminated, were caused by efforts on the one 
side to extend and perpetuate human slavery, and on the other 
to resist it and establish human liberty. The Southern States 
and Southern people have been sedulously represented as " prop- 
agandists " of slavery, and the Northern as the defenders and 
champions of universal freedom, and this view has been so ar- 
rogantly assumed, so dogmatically asserted, and so persistently 
reiterated, that its authors have, in many cases, perhaps, sue- 


ceeded in bringing themselves to believe it, as well as in im- 
pressing it widely upon the world. 

The attentive reader of the preceding chapters — especially if 
he has compared their statements with contemporaneous records 
and other original sources of information — will already have 
found evidence enough to enable him to discern the falsehood 
of these representations, and to perceive that, to whatever extent 
the question of slavery may have served as an occasion, it was 
far from being the cause of the conflict. 

I have not attempted, and shall not permit myself to be 
drawn into any discussion of the merits or demerits of slavery 
as an ethical or even as a political question. It would be for- 
eign to my purpose, irrelevant to my subject, and would only 
serve — as it has invariably served in the hands of its agitators — 
to "darken counsel" and divert attention from the genuine 
issues involved. 

As a mere historical fact, we have seen that African servitude 
among us — confessedly the mildest and most humane of all insti- 
tutions to which the name " slavery " has ever been applied — 
existed in all the original States, and that it was recognized 
and protected in the fourth article of the Constitution. Subse- 
quently, for climatic, industrial, and economical — not moral or 
sentimental — reasons, it was abolished in the Northern, while it 
continued to exist in the Southern States. Men differed in their 
views as to the abstract question of its right or wrong, but for 
two generations after the [Revolution there was no geographical 
line of demarkation for such differences. The African slave- 
trade was carried on almost exclusively by New England mer- 
chants and Northern ships. Mr. Jefferson — a Southern man, 
the founder of the Democratic party, and the vindicator of 
State rights — was in theory a consistent enemy to every form 
of slavery. The Southern States took the lead in prohibiting 
the slave-trade, and, as we have seen, one of them (Georgia) was 
the first State to incorporate such a prohibition in her organic 
Constitution. Eleven years after the agitation on the Missouri 
question, when the subject first took a sectional shape, the abo- 
lition of slavery was proposed and earnestly debated in the Vir- 
ginia Legislature, and its advocates were so near the accomplish- 


ment of their purpose, that a declaration in its favor was defeated 
only by a small majority, and that on the ground of expediency. 
At a still later period, abolitionist lecturers and teachers were 
mobbed, assaulted, and threatened with tar and feathers in New 
York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connect- 
icut, and other States. One of them (Lovejoy) was actually 
killed by a mob in Illinois as late as 1837. 

These facts prove incontestably that the sectional hostility 
which exhibited itself in 1820, on the application of Missouri 
for admission into the Union, which again broke out on the 
proposition for the annexation of Texas in 1844, and which 
reappeared after the Mexican war, never again to be suppressed 
until its fell results had been fully accomplished, was not the 
consequence of any difference on the abstract question of slavery. 
It was the offspring of sectional rivalry and political ambition. 
It would have manifested itself just as certainly if slavery had 
existed in all the States, or if there had not been a negro in 
America. No such pretension was made in 1803 or 1811, when 
the Louisiana purchase, and afterward the admission into the 
Union of the State of that name, elicited threats of disunion 
from the representatives of New England. The complaint was 
not of slavery, but of " the acquisition of more weight at the 
other extremity " of the Union. It was not slavery that threat- 
ened a rupture in 1832, but the unjust and unequal operation of 
a protective tariff. 

It happened, however, on all these occasions, that the line 
of demarkation of sectional interests coincided exactly or very 
nearly with that dividing the States in which negro servitude 
existed from those in which it had been abolished. It corre- 
sponded with the prediction of Mr. Pickering, in 1803, that, in 
the separation certainly to come, " the white and black popula- 
tion would mark the boundary " — a prediction made without 
any reference to slavery as a source of dissension. 

Of course, the diversity of institutions contributed, in some 
minor degree, to the conflict of interests. There is an action 
and reaction of cause and consequence, which limits and modifies 
any general statement of a political truth. I am stating general 
principles — not defining modifications and exceptions with the 


precision of a mathematical proposition or a bill in chancery. 
The truth remains intact and incontrovertible, that the existence 
of African servitude was in no wise the cause of the conflict, 
but only an incident. In the later controversies that arose, 
however, its effect in operating as a lever upon the passions, 
prejudices, or sympathies of mankind, was so potent that it has 
been spread, like a thick cloud, over the whole horizon of his- 
toric truth. 

As for the institution of negro servitude, it was a matter 
entirely subject to the control of the States. No power was 
ever given to the General Government to interfere with it, but 
an obligation was imposed to protect it. Its existence and va- 
lidity were distinctly recognized by the Constitution in at least 
three places : 

First, in that part of the second section of the first article 
which prescribes that " representatives and direct taxes shall be 
apportioned among the several States which may be included 
within this Union, according to their respective members, which 
shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free per- 
sons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and, 
excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons." 
" Other persons " than "free persons " and those " bound to 
service for a term of years " must, of course, have meant those 
permanently bound to service. 

Secondly, it was recognized by the ninth section of the same 
article, which provided that " the migration or importation of 
such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper 
to admit shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to the year 
one thousand eight hundred and eight." This was a provision 
inserted for the protection of the interests of the slave-trading 
New England States, forbidding any prohibition of the trade by 
Congress for twenty years, and thus virtually giving sanction to 
the legitimacy of the demand which that trade was prosecuted 
to supply, and which was its only object. 

Again, and in the third place, it was specially recognized, 
and an obligation imposed upon every State, not only to re- 
frain from interfering with it in any other State, but in certain 
cases to aid in its enforcement, by that clause, or paragraph, 


of the second section of the fourth article which provides as 
follows : 

"No person held to service or labor in. one State, under the 
laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any 
law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, 
but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such ser- 
vice or labor may be due." 

The President and Vice-President of the United States, every 
Senator and Representative in Congress, the members of every 
State Legislature, and " all executive and judicial officers, both 
of the United States and of the several States," were required 
to take an oath (or affirmation) to support the Constitution con- 
taining these provisions. It is easy to understand how those 
who considered them in conflict with the " higher law " of re- 
ligion or morality might refuse to take such an oath or hold 
such an office — as the members of some religious sects refuse to 
take any oath at all or to bear arms in the service of their coun- 
try — but it is impossible to reconcile with the obligations of 
honor or honesty the conduct of those who, having taken such 
an oath, made use of the powers and opportunities of the offices 
held under its sanctions to nullify its obligations and neutral- 
ize its guarantees. The halls of Congress afforded the vantage- 
ground from which assaults were made upon these guarantees. 
The Legislatures of various Northern States enacted laws to 
hinder the execution of the provisions made for the rendition 
of fugitives from service ; State officials lent their aid to the 
work of thwarting them ; and city mobs assailed the officers 
engaged in the duty of enforcing them. 

With regard to the provision of the Constitution above 
quoted, for the restoration of fugitives from service or labor, 
my own view was, and is, that it was not a proper subject for 
legislation by the Federal Congress, but that its enforcement 
should have been left to the respective States, which, as parties 
to the compact of union, should have been held accountable 
for its fulfillment. Such was actually the case in the earlier and 
better days of the republic. No fugitive slave-law existed, or 
was required, for two years after the organization of the Federal 


Government, and, when one was then passed, it was merely as an 
incidental appendage to an act regulating the mode of rendition 
of fugitives from justice — not from service or labor.* 

In 1850 a more elaborate law was enacted as part of the cele- 
brated compromise of that year. But the very fact that the 
Federal Government had taken the matter into its own hands, 
and provided for its execution by its own officers, afforded a 
sort of pretext to those States which had now become hostile to 
this provision of the Constitution, not only to stand aloof, but 
in some cases to adopt measures (generally known as " personal 
liberty laws " ) directly in conflict with the execution of the pro- 
visions of the Constitution. 

The preamble to the Constitution declared the object of its 
founders to be, " to form a more perfect union, establish justice, 
insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, 
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty 
to ourselves and our posterity." Now, however (in 1860), the 
people of a portion of the States had assumed an attitude of 
avowed hostility, not only to the provisions of the Constitution 
itself, but to the " domestic tranquillity " of the people of other 
States. Long before the formation of the Constitution, one of 
the charges preferred in the Declaration of Independence against 
the Government of Great Britain, as justifying the separation 
of the colonies from that country, was that of having " excited 

* " There was but little necessity in those times, nor long after, for an act of 
Congress to authorize the recovery of fugitive slaves. The laws of the free States 
and, still more, the force of public opinion were the owners' best safeguards. Public 
opinion was against the abduction of slaves ; and, if any one was seduced from his 
owner, it was done furtively and secretly, without show or force, and as any other 
moral offense would be committed. State laws favored the owner, and to a greater 
extent than the act of Congress did or could. In Pennsylvania there was an act (it 
was passed in 1780, and only repealed in 1847) discriminating between the traveler 
and sojourner and the permanent resident, allowing the former to remain six months 
in the State before his slaves would become subject to the emancipation laws ; and, 
in the case of a Federal officer, allowing as much more time as his duties required 
him to remain. New York had the same act, only varying in time, which was nine 
months. While these two acts were in force, and supported by public opinion, the 
traveler and sojourner was safe with his slaves in those States, and the same in the 
other free States. There was no trouble about fugitive slaves in those times." — 
(Note to Benton's " Abridgment of Debates," vol. i, p. 417.) 

1854] THE "DRED SCOTT CASE." 83 

domestic insurrections among us." Now, the mails were bur- 
dened with incendiary publications, secret emissaries had been 
sent, and in one case an armed invasion of one of the States had 
taken place for the very purpose of exciting " domestic insurrec- 

It was not the passage of the " personal liberty laws," it 
was not the circulation of incendiary documents, it was not the 
raid of John Brown, it was not the operation of unjust and un- 
equal tariff laws, nor all combined, that constituted the intoler- 
able grievance, but it was the systematic and persistent struggle 
to deprive the Southern States of equality in the Union — gen- 
erally to discriminate in legislation against the interests of their 
people ; culminating in their exclusion from the Territories, the 
common property of the States, as well as by the infraction of 
their compact to promote domestic tranquillity. 

The question with regard to the Territories has been dis- 
cussed in the foregoing chapters, and the argument need not be 
repeated. There was, however, one feature of it which has not 
been specially noticed, although it occupied a large share of pub- 
lic attention at the time, and constituted an important element 
in the case. This was the action of the Federal judiciary- there- 
on, and the manner in which it was received. 

In 1854 a case (the well-known "Dred Scott case") came 
before the Supreme Court of the United States, involving the 
whole question of the status of the African race and the rights 
of citizens of the Southern States to migrate to the Territories, 
temporarily or permanently, with their slave property, on a foot- 
ing of equality with the citizens of other States with their prop- 
erty of any sort. This question, as we have seen, had already 
been the subject of long and energetic discussion, without any 
satisfactory conclusion. All parties, however, had united in 
declaring, that a decision by the Supreme Court of the United 
States — the highest judicial tribunal in the land — would be 
accepted as final. After long and patient consideration of the 
case, in 1857, the decision of the Court was pronounced in an 
elaborate and exhaustive opinion, delivered by Chief-Justice 
Taney — a man eminent as a lawyer, great as a statesman, and 
stainless in his moral reputation — seven of the nine judges who 


composed the Court, concurring in it. The salient points es- 
tablished by this decision were : 

1. That persons of the African race were not, and could not 
be, acknowledged as " part of the people," or citizens, under the. 
Constitution of the United States ; 

2. That Congress had no right to exclude citizens of the 
South from taking their negro servants, as any other property, 
into any part of the common territory, and that they were en- 
titled to claim its protection therein ; 

3. And, finally, as a consequence of the principle just above 
stated, that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, in so far as it 
prohibited the existence of African servitude north of a desig- 
nated line, was unconstitutional and void.* (It will be remem- 
bered that it had already been declared " inoperative and void '-' 
by the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854.) 

Instead of accepting the decision of this then august tribunal 

* The Supreme Court of the United States in stating (through Chief-Justice 
Taney) their decision in the " Dred Scott case," in 1857, say: "In that portion of 
the United States where the labor of the negro race was found to be unsuited to the 
climate and unprofitable to the master, but few slaves were held at the time of the 
Declaration of Independence ; and, when the Constitution was adopted, it had entirely 
worn out in one of them, and measures had been taken for its gradual abolition in 
several others. But this change had not been produced by any change of opinion 
in relation to this race, but because it was discovered from experience that slave- 
labor was unsuited to the climate and productions of these States ; for some of these 
States, when it had ceased, or nearly ceased, to exist, were actively engaged in the 
slave-trade ; procuring cargoes on the coast of Africa, and transporting them for 
sale to those parts of the Union where their labor was found to be profitable and 
suited to the climate and productions. And this traffic was openly carried on, and 
fortunes accumulated by it, without reproach from the people of the States where 
they resided." 

This statement, it must be remembered, does not proceed from any partisan 
source, but is extracted from a judicial opinion pronounced by the highest court in 
the country. In illustration of the truthfulness of the latter part of it, may be men- 
tioned the fact that a citizen of Rhode Island (James D'Wolf), long and largely 
concerned in the slave-trade, was sent from that State to the Senate of the United 
States as late as the year 1821. In 1825 he resigned his seat in the Senate and 
removed to Havana, where he lived for many years, actively engaged in the same 
pursuit, as president of a slave-trading company. The story is told of him that, on 
being informed that the " trade " was to be declared piracy, he smiled and said, 
" So much the better for us — the Yankees will be the only people not scared off by 
such a declaration." 


— the ultimate authority in the interpretation of constitutional 
questions — as conclusive of a controversy that had so long dis- 
turbed the peace and was threatening the perpetuity of the 
Union, it was flouted, denounced, and utterly disregarded by 
the Northern agitators, and served only to stimulate the inten- 
sity of their sectional hostility. 

What resource for justice — what assurance of tranquillity — 
what guarantee of safety — now remained for the South % Still 
forbearing, still hoping, still striving for peace and union, we 
waited until a sectional President, nominated by a sectional 
convention, elected by a sectional vote — and that the vote of a 
minority of the people — was about to be inducted into office, 
under the warning of his own distinct announcement that the 
Union could not permanently endure " half slave and half 
free " ; meaning thereby that it could not continue to exist in 
the condition in which it was formed and its Constitution 
adopted. The leader of his party, who was to be the chief, 
of his Cabinet, was the man who had first proclaimed an " irre- 
pressible conflict " between the North and the South, and who 
had declared that abolitionism, having triumphed in the Terri- 
tories, would proceed to the invasion of the States. Even then 
the Southern people did not finally despair until the temper of 
the triumphant party had been tested in Congress and found 
adverse to any terms of reconciliation consistent with the honor 
and safety of all parties. 

No alternative remained except to seek the security out of 
the Union which they had vainly tried to obtain within it. The 
hope of our people may be stated in a sentence. It was to es- 
cape from injury and strife in the Union, to find prosperity and 
peace out of it. The mode and principles of their action will 
next be presented. 




The Original Confederation. — " Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union." — 
Their Inadequacy ascertained. — Commercial Difficulties. — The Conference at 
Annapolis. — Kecommendation of a General Convention. — Resolution of Con- 
gress. — Action of the Several States. — Conclusions drawn therefrom. 

When certain American colonies of Great Britain, each act- 
ing for itself, although in concert with the others, determined 
to dissolve their political connection with the mother-country, 
they sent their representatives to a general Congress of those 
colonies, and through them made a declaration that the col- 
onies were, and of right ought to be, " free and independent 
States." As such they contracted an alliance for their " com- 
mon defense," successfully resisted the effort to reduce them 
to submission, and secured the recognition by Great Britain of 
their separate independence ; each State being distinctly recog- 
nized under its own name — not as one of a group or nation. 
That this was not merely a foreign view is evident from the 
second of the " Articles of Confederation " between the States, 
adopted subsequently to the Declaration of Independence, which 
is in these words : " Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, 
and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, 
which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the 
United States in Congress assembled." 

These " Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union 
between the States," as they were styled in their title, were 


adopted by eleven of the original States in 1778, and by the 
other two in the course of the three years next ensuing, and 
continued in force until 1789. During this period the General 
Government was vested in the Congress alone, in which each 
State, through its representatives, had an equal vote in the de- 
termination of all questions whatever. The Congress exercised 
all the executive as well as legislative powers delegated by the 
States. "When not in session the general management of affairs 
was intrusted to a " Committee of the States," consisting of one 
delegate from each State. Provision was made for the creation, 
by the Congress, of courts having a certain specified jurisdiction 
in admiralty and maritime cases, and for the settlement of con- 
troversies between two or more States in a mode specifically 

The Government thus constituted was found inadequate for 
some necessary purposes, and it became requisite to reorganize 
it. The first idea of such reorganization arose from the neces- 
sity of regulating the commercial intercourse of the States with 
one another and with foreign countries, and also of making some 
provision for payment of the debt contracted during the war 
for independence. These exigencies led to a proposition for 
a meeting of commissioners from the various States to consider 
the subject. Such a meeting was held at Annapolis in Septem- 
ber, 1786 ; but, as only five States (New York, New Jersey, 
Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) were represented, the 
Commissioners declined to take any action further than to rec- 
ommend another Convention, with a wider scope for consider- 
ation. As they expressed it, it was their " unanimous conviction 
that it may essentially tend to advance the interests of the Union, 
if the States, by whom they have been respectively delegated, 
would themselves concur, and use their endeavors to procure 
the concurrence of the other States, in the appointment of com- 
missioners, to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in 
May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United 
States, to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them 
necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Govern- 
ment adequate to the exigencies of the Union, and to report 
such an act for that purpose to the United States in Congress 


assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and afterward con- 
firmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually pro- 
vide for the same." 

It is scarcely necessary to remind the well-informed reader 
that the terms, " Constitution of the Federal Government," em- 
ployed above, and " Federal Constitution," as used in other 
proceedings of that period, do not mean the instrument to 
which we now apply them, and which was not then in exist- 
ence. They were applied to the system of government formu- 
lated in the Articles of Confederation. This is in strict accord 
with the definition of the word constitution, given by an emi- 
nent lexicographer : * " The body of fundamental laws, as con- 
tained in written documents or prescriptive usage, which con- 
stitute the form of government for a nation, state, community, 
association, or society." f Thus we speak of the British Consti- 
tution, which is an unwritten system of " prescriptive usage " ; of 
the Constitution of Massachusetts or of Mississippi, which is the 
fundamental or organic law of a particular State embodied in a 
written instrument ; and of the Federal Constitution of the United 
States, which is the fundamental law of an association of States, 
at first as embraced in the Articles of Confederation, and after- 
ward as revised, amended, enlarged, and embodied in the instru- 
ment framed in 1787, and subsequently adopted by the various 
States. The manner in which this revision was effected was as 
follows. Acting on the suggestion of the Annapolis Conven- 
tion, the Congress, on the 21st of the ensuing February (1787), 
adopted the following resolution : 

"Resolved, That, in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient that, 
on the second Monday in May next, a convention of delegates, who 
shall have been appointed by the several States, be held at Phila- 
delphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles 
of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several Legis- 

* Dr. Worcester. 

f This definition is very good as far as it goes, but " the form of government " is 
a phrase which falls short of expressing all that should be comprehended. Perhaps 
it would be more accurate to say, "which constitute the form, define the powers, 
and prescribe the functions of government," etc. The words in italics would make 
the definition more complete. 


latures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed 
to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the Federal 
Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the 
preservation of the Union." ^ 

The language of this resolution, substantially according with 
that of the recommendation made by the commissioners at An- 
napolis a few months before, very clearly defines the objects of 
the proposed Convention and the powers which it was thought 
advisable that the States should confer upon their delegates. 
These were, " solely and expressly," as follows : 

1. " To revise the Articles of Confederation with reference to 
the * situation of the United States ' ; 

2. " To devise such alterations and provisions therein as should 
seem to them requisite in order to render ' the Federal Constitu- 
tion,' or * Constitution of the Federal Government,' adequate to 
' the exigencies of the Union,' or * the exigencies of the Govern- 
ment and the preservation of the Union ' ; 

3. "To report the result of their deliberations — that is, the 
' alterations and provisions' which they should agree to recom- 
mend — to Congress and the Legislatures of the several States." 

Of course, their action could be only advisory until ratified 
by the States. The " Articles of Confederation and Perpetual 
Union," under which the States were already united, provided 
that no alteration should be made in any of them, " unless such 
alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and 
afterward confirmed by the Legislatures of every State." 

The Legislatures of the various States, with the exception of 
Rhode Island, adopted and proceeded to act upon these sugges- 
tions by the appointment of delegates — some of them immedi- 
ately upon the recommendation of the Annapolis Commissioners 
in advance of that of the Congress, and the others in the course 
of a few months after the resolution adopted by Congress. The 
instructions given to these delegates in all cases conformed to 
the recommendations which have been quoted, and in one case 
imposed an additional restriction or limitation. As this is a 
matter of much importance, in order to a right understanding of 
what follows, it may be advisable to cite in detail the action of 


the several States, italicizing such passages as are specially sig- 
nificant of the duties and powers of the delegates to the Con- 

The General Assembly of Virginia, after reciting the recom- 
mendation made at Annapolis, enacted : " That seven commis- 
sioners be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of Assem- 
bly, who, or any three of them, are hereby authorized, as depu- 
ties from this Commonwealth, to meet such deputies as may be 
appointed and authorized by other States, to assemble in con- 
vention at Philadelphia, as above recommended, and to join 
with them in devising and discussing all such alterations and 
further provisions as may he necessary to render the Federal 
Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Union, and in 
reporting such an act for that purpose to the United States mi 
Congress, as, when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by 
the several States, will effectually provide for the same." 

The Council and Assembly of New Jersey issued commis- 
sions to their delegates to meet such commissioners as have 
been, or may be, appointed by the other States of the Union, at 
the city of Philadelphia, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 
on the second Monday in May next, for the purpose of talcing 
into consideration the state of the Union as to trade and other 
important objects, and of devising such other provisions as shall 
appear to be necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal 
Government adequate to the exigencies thereof" 

The act of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania consti- 
tuted and appointed certain deputies, designated by name, 
"with powers to meet such deputies as may be appointed and 
authorized by the other States, . . . and to join with them in 
devising, deliberating on, and discussing all such alterations 
and further provisions as may be necessary to render the Fed- 
eral Constitution fully adequate to the exigencies of the Union, 
and in reporting such act or acts for that purpose, to the United 
States in Congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them and 
duly confirmed by the several States, w T ill effectually provide for 
the same." 

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacted that com- 
missioners should be appointed by joint ballot of both Houses, 


" to meet and confer with such deputies as may be appointed 
by the other States for similar purposes, and with them to dis- 
cuss and decide upon the most effectual means to remove the 
defects of our Federal Union, and to procure the enlarged pur- 
poses which it was intended to effect ; and that they report such 
an act to the General Assembly of this State, as, when agreed to 
by them, will effectually provide for the same." (In the case 
of this State alone nothing is said of a report to Congress. 
Neither North Carolina nor any other State, however, fails to 
make mention of the necessity of a submission of any action 
taken to the several States for ratification.) 

The commissions issued to the representatives of South Caro- 
lina, by the Governor, refer to an act of the Legislature of that 
State authorizing their appointment " to meet such deputies or 
commissioners as may be appointed and authorized by other of 
the United States," at the time and place designated, and to 
join with them " in devising and discussing all such alterations, 
clauses, articles, and provisions, as may be thought necessary to 
render the Federal Constitution entirely adequate to the actual 
situation and future good government of the Confederate States," 
and to " join in reporting such an act to the United States in 
Congress assembled, as, when approved and agreed to by them, 
and duly ratified and confirmed by the several States, will effec- 
tually provide for the exigencies of the Union." In these com- 
missions the expression, "alterations, clauses, articles, and pro- 
visions," clearly indicates the character of the duties which the 
deputies were expected to discharge. 

The General Assembly of Georgia " ordained " the appoint- 
ment of certain commissioners, specified by name, who were 
" authorized, as deputies from this State, to meet such deputies 
as may be appointed and authorized by other States, to assemble 
in convention at Philadelphia, and to join with them in devising 
and discussing all such alterations and further provisions as 
may be necessary to render the Federal Constitution adequate 
to the exigencies of the Union, and in reporting such an act for 
that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled, as, 
when agreed to by them, and duly confirmed by the several 
States, will effectually provide for the same." 


The authority conferred upon their delegates by the Assem- 
bly of JSTew York and the General Court of Massachusetts was 
in each case expressed in the exact words of the advisory reso- 
lution of Congress : they were instructed to meet the delegates 
of the other States " for the sole and express purpose of revising 
the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and to 
the several Legislatures such alterations and provisions therein 
as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the sev- 
eral States, render the Federal Constitution adequate to the 
exigencies of the Union.'''' 

The General Assembly of Connecticut designated the dele- 
gates of that State by name, and empowered them, in conference 
with the delegates of other States, " to discuss upon such alter- 
ations and provisions, agreeable to the general principles of re- 
publican government, as they shall think proper to render the 
Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of the Govern- 
ment and the preservation of the Union," and " to report such 
alterations and provisions as may he ag?*eed to by a majority of 
the United States in convention, to the Congress of the United 
States and to the General Assembly of this State." 

The General Court of ]STew Hampshire authorized and em- 
powered the deputies of that State, in conference with those of 
other States, " to discuss and decide upon the most effectual 
means to remedy the defects of our Federal Union, and to pro- 
cure and secure the enlarged purposes which it was intended to 
effect " — language almost identical with that of North Carolina, 
but, like the other States in general, instructed them to report 
the result of their deliberations to Congress for the action of 
that body, and subsequent confirmation " by the several States." 

The delegates from Maryland were appointed by the Gen- 
eral Assembly of that State, and instructed "to meet such 
deputies as may be appointed and authorized by any other of 
the United States, to assemble in convention at Philadelphia, 
for the purpose of revising the Federal system, and to join 
with them in considering such alterations and further provi- 
sions," etc. — the remainder of their instructions being in the 
same words as those given to the Georgia delegates. 

The instructions given to the deputies of Delaware were 


substantially in accord with the others — being almost literally 
identical with those of Pennsylvania — but the following proviso 
was added : " So, always, and provided, that such alterations or 
further provisions, or any of them, do not extend to that part of 
the fifth article of the Confederation of the said States, finally 
ratified on the first day of March, in the year 1781, which de- 
clares that, ' in determining questions in the United States in 
Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote. 1 " 

Ehode Island, as has already been mentioned, sent no dele- 

From an examination and comparison of the enactments and 
instructions above quoted, we may derive certain conclusions, so 
obvious that they need only to be stated : 

1. In the first place, it is clear that the delegates to the Con- 
vention of 1T87 represented, not the people of the United States 
in mass, as has been most absurdly contended by some political 
writers, but the people of the several States, as States — just as 
in the Congress of that period — Delaware, with her sixty thou- 
sand inhabitants, having entire equality with Pennsylvania, 
which had more than four hundred thousand, or Virginia, with 
her seven hundred and fifty thousand. 

2. The object for which they were appointed was not to 
organize a new Government, but " solely and expressly " to 
amend the " Federal Constitution " already existing ; in other 
words, "to revise the Articles of Confederation," and to sug- 
gest such " alterations " or additional " provisions " as should 
be deemed necessary to render them " adequate to the exigen- 
cies of the Union." 

3. It is evident that the term " Federal Constitution," or its 
equivalent, " Constitution of the Federal Government," was as 
freely and familiarly applied to the system of government estab- 
lished by the Articles of Confederation — undeniably a league or 
compact between States expressly retaining their sovereignty 
and independence — as to that amended system which was sub- 
stituted for it by the Constitution that superseded those articles. 

4. The functions of the delegates to the Convention were, 
of course, only to devise, deliberate, and discuss. No validity 
could attach to any action taken, unless and until it should be 


afterward ratified by the several States. It is evident, also, that 
what was contemplated was the process provided in the Articles 
of Confederation for their own amendment — first, a recom- 
mendation by the Congress ; and, afterward, ratification " by 
the Legislatures of every State," before the amendment should 
be obligatory upon any. The departure from this condition, 
which actually occurred, will presently be noticed. 


The Convention of 178*7. — Diversity of Opinion. — Luther Martin's Account of the 
Three Parties. — The Question of Representation. — Compromise effected. — Mr. 
Randolph's Resolutions. — The Word " National " condemned. — Plan of Gov- 
ernment framed. — Difficulty with Regard to Ratification, and its Solution. — 
Provision for Secession from the Union. — Views of Mr. Gerry and Mr. Madison. 
— False Interpretations. — Close of the Convention. 

¥hen the Convention met in Philadelphia, in May, 1787, 
it soon became evident that the work before it would take a 
wider range and involve more radical changes in the " Federal 
Constitution " than had at first been contemplated. Under the 
Articles of Confederation the General Government was obliged 
to rely upon the governments of the several States for the exe- 
cution of its enactments. Except its own officers and employees, 
and in time of war the Federal army and navy, it could exercise 
no control upon individual citizens. With regard to the States, 
no compulsory or coercive measures could be employed to en- 
force its authority, in case of opposition or indifference to its 
exercise. This last was a feature of the Confederation which 
it was not desirable nor possible to change, and no objection 
was made to it ; but it was generally admitted that some ma- 
chinery should be devised to enable the General Government 
to exercise its legitimate functions by means of a mandatory 
authority operating directly upon the individual citizens within 
the limits of its constitutional powers. The necessity for such 
provision was undisputed. 

Beyond the common ground of a recognition of this neces- 


sity, there was a wide diversity of opinion among the members 
of the Convention. Luther Martin, a delegate from Maryland, 
in an account of its proceedings, afterward given to the Legis- 
lature of that State, classifies these differences as constituting 
three parties in the Convention, which he describes as fol- 

" One party, whose object and wish it was to abolish and anni- 
hilate all State governments, and to bring forward one General 
Government over this extensive continent of a monarchical nature, 
under certain restrictions and limitations. Those who openly 
avowed this sentiment were, it is true, but few ; yet it is equally 
true that there was a considerable number, who did not openly 
avow it, who were, by myself and many others of the Convention, 
considered as being in reality favorers of that sentiment. . . . 

" The second party was not for the abolition of the State gov- 
ernments nor for the introduction of a monarchical government 
under any form ; but they wished to establish such a system as 
could give their own States undue power and influence in the gov- 
ernment over the other States. 

" A third party was what I considered truly federal and repub- 
lican. This party was nearly equal in number with the other 
two, and was composed of the delegates from Connecticut, New 
York, New Jersey, Delaware, and in part from Maryland ; also of 
some individuals from other representations. This party were for 
proceeding upon terms of federal equality : they were for taking 
our present federal system as the basis of their proceedings, and, 
as far as experience had shown that other powers were necessary 
to the Federal Government, to give those powers. They consid- 
ered this the object for which they were sent by their States, and 
what their States expected from them." 

In his account of the second party above described, Mr. Mar- 
tin refers to those representatives of the larger States who wished 
to establish a numerical basis of representation in the Congress, 
instead of the equal representation of the States (whether large 
or small) which existed under the Articles of Confederation. 
There was naturally much dissatisfaction on the part of the 
greater States— Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and 
Massachusetts— whose population at that period exceeded that 


of all the others combined, but which, in the Congress, con- 
stituted less than one third of the voting strength. On the 
other hand, the smaller States were tenacious of their equality 
in the Union. Of the very smallest, one, as we have seen, had 
sent no representatives to the Convention, and the other had 
instructed her delegates, unconditionally, to insist upon the 
maintenance of absolute equality in the Congress. This dif- 
ference gave more trouble than any other question that came 
before the Convention, and for some time threatened to prove 
irreconcilable and to hinder any final agreement. It was ulti- 
mately settled by a compromise. Provision was made for the 
representation of the people of the States in one branch of the 
Federal Legislature (the House of Representatives) in propor- 
tion to their numbers ; in the other branch (the Senate), for the 
equal representation of the States as such. The perpetuity of 
this equality was furthermore guaranteed by a stipulation that 
no State should ever be deprived of its equal suffrage in the 
Senate without its own consent.* This compromise required 
no sacrifice of principle on either side, and no provision of the 
Constitution has in practice proved more entirely satisfactory. 

It is not necessary, and would be beyond the scope of this 
work, to undertake to give a history of the proceedings of the 
Convention of 1787. That may be obtained from other sources. 
All that is requisite for the present purpose is to notice a few 
particulars of special significance or relevancy to the subject of 

Early in the session of the Convention a series of resolutions 
was introduced by Mr. Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, embody- 
ing a proposed plan of government, which were considered in 
committee of the whole House, and formed the basis of a pro- 
tracted discussion. The first of these resolutions, as amended 
before a vote was taken, was in these words : 

"Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee that a 
national Government ought to be established, consisting of a su- 
preme legislative, executive, and judiciary." 

This was followed by other resolutions — twenty- three in all, 

* Constitution, Article V. 


as adopted and reported by the committee — in which the word 
" national " occurred twenty-six times. 

The day after the report of the committee was made, Mr. 
Ellsworth, of Connecticut, moved to strike out the words " na- 
tional Government " in the resolution above quoted, and to in- 
sert the words " Government of the United States," which he 
said was the proper title. " He wished also the plan to go forth 
as an amendment of the Articles of Confederation." * That is 
to say, he wished to avoid even the appearance of undertaking 
to form a new government, instead of reforming the old one, 
which was the proper object of the Convention. This motion 
was agreed to without opposition, and, as a consequence, the 
word " national " was stricken out wherever it occurred, and no- 
where makes its appearance in the Constitution finally adopted. 
The prompt rejection, after introduction, of this word " national," 
is obviously much more expressive of the intent and purpose of 
the authors of the Constitution than its mere absence from the 
Constitution would have been. It is a clear indication that 
they did not mean to give any countenance to the idea which, 
" scotched, not killed," has again reared its mischievous crest in 
these latter days — that the government which they organized 
was a consolidated nationality, instead of a confederacy of sov- 
ereign members. 

Continuing their great work of revision and reorganization, 
the Convention proceeded to construct the framework of a gov- 
ernment for the Confederacy, strictly confined to certain spe- 
cified and limited powers, but complete in all its parts, legis- 
lative, executive, and judicial, and provided with the means 
for discharging all its functions without interfering with the 
" sovereignty, freedom, and independence " of the constituent 

All this might have been done without going beyond the 

* Sec Elliott's " Debates," vol. v, p. 214. This reference is taken from " The 
Republic of Republics," Part III, chapter vii, p. 217. This learned, exhaustive, and 
admirable work, which contains a wealth of historical and political learning, will be 
freely used, by kind consent of the author, without the obligation of a repetition of 
special acknowledgment in every case. A like liberty will be taken with the late Dr. 
Bledsoe's masterly treatise on the right of secession, published in 1866, under the 
title, " Is Davis a Traitor ? or, Was Secession a Constitutional Right ? " 



limits of their commission " to revise the Articles of Confed- 
eration," and to consider and report such " alterations and pro- 
visions " as might seem necessary to " render the Federal Con- 
stitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the 
preservation of the Union." A serious difficulty, however, was 
foreseen. The thirteenth and last of the aforesaid articles had 
this provision, which has already been referred to : " The Arti- 
cles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every 
/State, and the union shall be perpetual / nor shall . any alter- 
ation, at any time hereafter, be made in any of them, unless 
such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United 
States, and be afterward confirmed by the Legislatures of every 

It is obvious, from an examination of the records, as has 
already been shown, that the original idea in calling a Conven- 
tion was, that their recommendations should take the course pre- 
scribed by this article — first, a report to the Congress, and then, 
if approved by that body, a submission to the various Legisla- 
tures for final action. There was no reason to apprehend the 
non-concurrence of Congress, in which a mere majority would 
determine the question ; but the consent of the Legislatures of 
" every State " was requisite in order to final ratification, and 
there was serious reason to fear that this consent could not be 
obtained. Rhode Island, as we have seen, had declined to send 
any representatives to the Convention ; of the three delegates 
from New York, two had withdrawn ; and other indications of 
dissatisfaction had appeared. In case of the failure of a single 
Legislature to ratify, the labors of the Convention would go for 
naught, under a strict adherence to the letter of the article above 
cited. The danger of a total frustration of their efforts was im- 

In this emergency the Convention took the responsibility of 
transcending the limits of their instructions, and recommending 
a procedure which was in direct contravention of the letter of 
the Articles of Confederation. This was the introduction of a 
provision into the new Constitution, that the ratification of nine 
States should be sufficient for its establishment among them- 
selves. In order to validate this provision, it was necessary to 


refer it to authority higher than that of Congress and the State 
Legislatures — that is, to the People of the States, assembled, by 
their representatives, in convention. Hence it was provided, by 
the seventh and last article of the new Constitution, that " the 
ratification of the Conventions of nine States" should suffice 
for its establishment " between the States so ratifying the 

There was another reason, of a more general and perhaps 
more controlling character, for this reference to conventions for 
ratification, even if entire unanimity of the State Legislatures 
could have been expected. Under the American theory of re- 
publican government, conventions of the people, duly elected 
and accredited as such, are invested with the plenary power in- 
herent in the people of an organized and independent commu- 
nity, assembled in mass. In other words, they represent and 
exercise what is properly the sovereignty of the people. State 
Legislatures, with restricted powers, do not possess or repre- 
sent sovereignty. Still less does the Congress of a union or 
confederacy of States, which is by two degrees removed from 
the seat of sovereignty. We sometimes read or hear of " dele- 
gated sovereignty," " divided sovereignty," with other, loose 
expressions of the same sort ; but no such thing as a division or 
delegation of sovereignty is possible. 

In order, therefore, to supersede the restraining article 
above cited and to give the highest validity to the compact 
for the delegation of important powers and functions of gov- 
ernment to a common agent, an authority above that of the 
State Legislatures was necessary. Mr. Madison, in the " Fed- 
eralist," * says : " It has been heretofore noted among the defects 
of the Confederation, that in many of the States it had received 
no higher sanction than a mere legislative ratification." This 
objection would of course have applied with greater force to the 
proposed Constitution, which provided for additional grants of 
power from the States, and the conferring of larger and more 
varied powers upon a General Government, which was to act 
upon individuals instead of States, if the question of its con- 
firmation had been submitted merely to the several State Legis- 

* No. xliii. 


latures. Hence the obvious propriety of referring it to the 
respective people of the States in their sovereign capacity, as 
provided in the final article of the Constitution. 

In this article provision was deliberately made for the seces- 
sion (if necessary) of a part of the States from a nnion which, 
when formed, had been declared " perpetual," and its terms and 
articles to be " inviolably observed by every State." 

Opposition was made to the provision on this very gronnd — 
that it was virtually a dissolution of the Union, and that it would 
furnish a precedent for future secessions. Mr. Gerry, a distin- 
guished member from Massachusetts — afterward Yice-President 
of the United States — said, " If nine out of thirteen (States) can 
dissolve the compact, six out of nine will be just as able to dis- 
solve the future one hereafter." 

Mr. Madison, who was one of the leading members of the 
Convention, advocating afterward, in the " Federalist," the adop- 
tion of the new Constitution, asks the question, " On what prin- 
ciple the Confederation, which stands in the solemn form of a 
compact among the States, can be superseded without the unani- 
mous consent of the parties to it % " He answers this question 
" by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case ; to the great 
principle of self-preservation ; to the transcendent law of nature 
and of nature's God, which declares that the safety and happi- 
ness of society are the objects at which all political institutions 
aim, and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed." He 
proceeds, however,, to give other grounds of justification : 

" It is an established doctrine on the subject of treaties, that 
all the articles are mutually conditions of each other ; that a 
breach of any one article is a breach of the whole treaty ; and 
that a breach committed by either of the parties absolves the 
others, and authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the com- 
pact violated and void. Should it unhappily be necessary to 
appeal to these delicate truths for a justification for dispensing 
with the consent of particular States to a dissolution of the Fed- 
eral pact, will not the complaining parties find it a difficult task to 
answer the multiplied and important infractions with which they 
may be confronted ? The time has been when it was incumbent 
on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits. The 

1787] MR. MADISON'S IDEA. 101 

scene is now changed, and with it the part which the same motives 

Mr. Madison's idea of the propriety of veiling any statement 
of the right of secession until the occasion arises for its exercise, 
whether right or wrong in itself, is eminently suggestive as ex- 
planatory of the caution exhibited by other statesmen of that 
period, as well as himself, with regard to that " delicate truth." 

The only possible alternative to the view here taken of the 
seventh article of the Constitution, as a provision for the seces- 
sion of any nine States, which might think proper to avail them- 
selves of it, from union with such as should refuse to do so, and 
the formation of an amended or " more perfect union " with 
one another, is to regard it as a provision for the continuance of 
the old Union, or Confederation, under altered conditions, by 
the majority which should accede to them, with a recognition 
of the right of the recusant minority to withdraw, secede, or 
stand aloof. The idea of compelling any State or States to 
enter into or to continue in union with the others by coercion, 
is as absolutely excluded under the one supposition as under the 
other — with reference to one State or a minority of States, as 
well as with regard to a majority. The article declares that 
" the ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be suf- 
ficient for the establishment of this Constitution " — not between 
all, but — " oeimeen the States so ratifying the same." It is sub- 
mitted whether a fuller justification of this right of the nine 
States to form a new Government is not found in the fact of 
the sovereignty in each of them, making them "a law unto 
themselves," and therefore the final judge of what the neces- 
sities of each community demand. 

Here — although, perhaps, in advance of its proper place in 
the argument — the attention of the reader may be directed to 
the refutation, afforded by this article of the Constitution, of 
that astonishing fiction, which has been put forward by some 
distinguished writers of later date, that the Constitution was 
established by the people of the United States " in the aggre- 
gate." If such had been the case, the will of a majority, duly 
ascertained and expressed, would have been binding upon the 


minority. No such idea existed in its formation. It was not 
even established by the States in the aggregate, nor was it pro- 
posed that it should be. It was submitted for the acceptance of 
each separately, the time and place at their own option, so that 
the dates of ratification did extend from December 7, 1787, to 
May 29, 1790. The long period required for these ratifications 
makes manifest the absurdity of the assertion, that it was a de- 
cision by the votes of one people, or one community, in which 
a majority of the votes cast determined the result. 

We have seen that the delegates to the Convention of 1787 
were chosen by the several States, as States — it is hardly neces- 
sary to add that they voted in the Convention, as in the Federal 
Congress, by States — each State casting one vote. We have seen, 
also, that they were sent for the " sole and express purpose " of 
revising the Articles of Confederation and devising means for 
rendering the Federal Constitution " adequate to the exigencies 
of government and the preservation of the Union " ; that the 
terms " Union," " United States," " Federal Constitution," and 
" Constitution of the Federal Government," were applied to the 
old Confederation in precisely the same sense in which they are 
used under the new ; that the proposition to constitute a " na- 
tional " Government was distinctly rejected by the Convention ; 
that the right of any State, or States, to withdraw from union 
with the others was practically exemplified, and that the idea of 
coercion of a State, or compulsory measures, was distinctly ex- 
cluded under any construction that can be put upon the action 
of the Convention. 

To the original copy of the Constitution, as set forth by its 
framers for the consideration and final action of the people of 
the States, was attached the following words : 

" Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent of the States 
present, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord 
one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Inde- 
pendence of the United States of America, the twelfth. In witness 
whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names." 

[Followed by the signatures of " George Washington, Presi- 
dent, and deputy from Virginia," and the other delegates who 
signed it.] 


This attachment to the instrument — a mere attestation of its 
authenticity, and of the fact that it had the unanimous consent 
of all the States then present by their deputies — not of all the 
deputies, for some of them refused to sign it — has been strangely 
construed by some commentators as if it were a part of the Con- 
stitution, and implied that it was " done," in the sense of com- 
pletion of the work.* 

-But the work was not done when the Convention closed its 
labors and adjourned. It was scarcely begun. There was no 
validity or binding force whatever in what had been already 
" done." It was still to be submitted to the States for approval 
or rejection. Even if a majority of eight out of thirteen States 
had ratified it, the refusal of the ninth would have rendered it 
null and void. Mr. Madison, who was one of the most distin- 
guished of its authors and signers, writing after it was completed 
and signed, but before it was ratified, said : " It is time now to 
recollect that the powers [of the Convention] were merely ad- 
visory and recommendatory ; that they were so meant by the 
States, and so understood by the Convention ; and that the latter 
have accordingly planned and proposed a Constitution, which is 
to be of no more consequence than the paper on which it is 
written, unless it be stamped with the approbation of those to 
whom it is addressed." — (" Federalist," No. XL.) 

The mode and terms in which this approval was expressed 
will be considered in the next chapter. 


Ratification of the Constitution by the States. — Organization of the New Govern- 
ment. — Accession of North Carolina and Rhode Island. — Correspondence be- 
tween General Washington and the Governor of Rhode Island. 

The amended system of union, or confederation (the terms 
are employed indiscriminately and interchangeably by the states- 
men of that period), devised by the Convention of 1787, and 

* See " Republic of Republics," Part II, chapters xiii and xiv. 


embodied, as we have seen, in the Constitution which they 
framed and have set forth, was now to be considered and 
acted on by the people of the several States. This they did 
in the highest and most majestic form in which the sanction 
of organized communities could be given or withheld — not 
through ambassadors, or Legislatures, or deputies with limited 
powers, but through conventions of delegates chosen expressly 
for the purpose and clothed with the plenary authority of sov- 
ereign people. The action of these conventions was deliberate, 
cautious, and careful. There was much debate, and no little 
opposition to be conciliated. Eleven States, however, ratified 
and adopted the new Constitution within the twelve months 
immediately following its submission to them. Two of them 
positively rejected it, and, although they afterward acceded to 
it, remained outside of the Union in the exercise of their sov- 
ereign right, which nobody then denied — North Carolina for 
nine months, Rhode Island for nearly fifteen, after the new 
Government was organized and went into operation. In sev- 
eral of the other States the ratification was effected only by 
small majorities. 

The terms in which this action was expressed by the several 
States and the declarations with which it was accompanied by 
some of them are worthy of attention. 

Delaware was the first to act. Her Convention met on De- 
cember 3, 1787, and ratified the Constitution on the 7th. The 
readiness of this least in population, and next to the least in ter- 
ritorial extent, of all the States, to accept that instrument, is a 
very significant fact when we remember the jealous care with 
which she had guarded against any infringement of her sov- 
ereign Statehood. Delaware alone had given special instructions 
to her deputies in the Convention not to consent to any sacrifice 
of the principle of equal representation in Congress. The 
promptness and unanimity of her people in adopting the new 
Constitution prove very clearly, not only that they were satis- 
fied with the preservation of that principle in the Federal 
Senate, but that they did not understand the Constitution, 
in any of its features, as compromising the " sovereignty, free- 
dom, and independence " which she had so especially cher- 


ished. The ratification of their Convention is expressed in 
these words : 

" We, the deputies of the people of the Delaware State, in 
convention met, having taken into our serious consideration the 
Federal Constitution proposed and agreed upon by the deputies 
of the United States at a General Convention held at the city of 
Philadelphia on the 17th day of September, a. d. 1787, have ap- 
proved of, assented to, and ratified and confirmed, and by these 
presents do, in virtue of the powers and authority to us given for 
that purpose, for and in behalf of ourselves and our constituents, 
fully, freely, and entirely, approve of, assent to, ratify, and con- 
firm the said Constitution. 

" Done in convention at Dover, December 7, 1787." 

This, and twelve other like acts, gave to the Constitution 
" all the life and validity it ever had, or could have, as to the 
thirteen united or associated States." 

Pennsylvania acted next (December 12, 1787), the ratifica- 
tion not being finally accomplished without strong opposition, 
on grounds which will be referred to hereafter. In announcing 
its decision, the Convention of this State began as follows : 

" In the name of the people of Pennsylvania. Be it known 
unto all men that we, the delegates of the people of the Common- 
wealth of Pennsylvania, in General Convention assembled," etc., 
etc., concluding with these words : " By these presents, do, in the 
name and by the authority of the same people, and for ourselves, 
assent to and ratify the foregoing Constitution for the United 
States of America." 

In New Jersey the ratification, which took place on the 18th 
of December, was unanimous. This is no less significant and 
instructive than the unanimity of Delaware, from the fact that 
the ISTew Jersey delegation, in the Convention that framed the 
Constitution, had taken the lead in behalf of the federal, or 
State-rights, idea, in opposition to that of nationalism, or con- 
solidation. William Patterson, a distinguished citizen (after- 
ward Governor) of ISTew Jersey, had introduced into that Con- 
vention what was known as " the Jersey plan," embodying these 


State-rights principles, as distinguished from the various "na- 
tional " plans presented. In defending them, he had said, after 
calling for the reading of the credentials of delegates : 

" Can we, on this ground, form a national Government ? I 
fancy not. Our commissions give a complexion to the business ; 
and can we suppose that, when we exceed the hounds of our duty, 
the people will approve our proceedings ? 

"We are met here as the deputies of thirteen independent, 
sovereign States, for federal purposes. Can we consolidate their 
sovereignty and form one nation, and annihilate the sovereignties 
of our States, who have sent us here for other purposes ? " 

Again, on a subsequent day, after stating that he was not 
there to pursue his own sentiments of government, but of those 
who had sent him, he had asked : 

" Can we, as representatives of independent States, annihilate 
the essential powers of independency? Are not the votes of this 
Convention taken on every question under the idea of indepen- 
dency ? " 

The fact that this State, which, through her representatives, 
had taken so conspicuous a part in the maintenance of the prin- 
ciple of State sovereignty, ratified the Constitution with such 
readiness and unanimity, is conclusive proof that, in her opinion, 
that principle was not compromised thereby. The conclusion 
of her ordinance of ratification is in these words : 

"Now be it known that we, the delegates of the State of New 
Jersey, chosen by the people thereof for the purpose aforesaid, 
having maturely deliberated on and considered the aforesaid pro- 
posed Constitution, do hereby, for and on behalf of the people of 
the said State of New Jersey, agree to, ratify, and confirm the 
same, and every part thereof. 

" Done in convention, by the unanimous consent of the mem- 
bers present, this 18th day of December, a. d. 1787." 

Georgia next, and also unanimously, on January 2, 1788, 
declared, through " the delegates of the State of Georgia, in con- 
vention met, pursuant to the provisions of the [act of the] Legis- 
lature aforesaid, ... in virtue of the powers and authority given 


us [them] by the people of the said State, for that purpose," that 
the j did " fully and entirely assent to, ratify, and adopt the said 

Connecticut (on the 9th of January) declares her assent with 
equal distinctness of assertion as to the source of the authority : 
" In the name of the people of the State of Connecticut, we, the 
delegates of the people of the said State, in General Convention 
assembled, pursuant to an act of the Legislature in October 
last .... do assent to, ratify, and adopt the Constitution re- 
ported by the Convention of delegates in Philadelphia." 

In Massachusetts there was a sharp contest. The people of 
that State were then — as for a long time afterward — exceedingly 
tenacious of their State independence and sovereignty. The pro- 
posed Constitution was subjected to a close, critical, and rigorous 
examination with reference to its bearing upon this very point. 
The Convention was a large one, and some of its leading mem- 
bers were very distrustful of the instrument under their con- 
sideration. It was ultimately adopted by a very close vote (187 
to 168), and then only as accompanied by certain proposed 
amendments, the object of which was to guard more expressly 
against any sacrifice or compromise of State sovereignty, and 
under an assurance, given by the advocates of the Constitution, 
of the certainty that those amendments would be adopted. The 
most strenuously urged of these was that ultimately adopted (in 
substance) as the tenth amendment to the Constitution, which 
was intended to take the place of the second Article of Con- 
federation, as an emphatic assertion of the continued freedom, 
sovereignty, and independence of the States. This will be con- 
sidered more particularly hereafter. 

In terms substantially identical with those employed by the 
other States, Massachusetts thus announced her ratification : 

" In convention of the delegates of the people of the Common- 
wealth of Massachusetts, 1788. The Convention having impar- 
tially discussed and fully considered the Constitution for the 
United States of America, reported [etc.], . . . do, in the name 
and in behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
assent to and ratify the said Constitution for the United States of 


This was accomplished on February 7, 1788. 

Maryland followed on the 28th of April, and South Carolina 
on the 23d of May, in equivalent expressions, the ratification of 
the former being made by "the delegates of the people of Mary- 
land" speaking, as they declared, for ourselves, and in the name 
and on the behalf of the people of this State ; that of the latter, 
" in convention of the people of the State of South Carolina, by 
their representatives, ... in the name and behalf of the peo- 
ple of this State." 

But South Carolina, like Massachusetts, demanded certain 
amendments, and for greater assurance accompanied her ordi- 
nance of ratification with the following distinct assertion of the 
principle afterward embodied in the tenth amendment : 

" This Convention doth also declare that no section or para- 
graph of the said Constitution warrants a construction that the 
States do not retain every poicer not expressly relinquished by 
them and vested in the General Government of the Union." 

" The delegates of the people of the State of New Hamp- 
shire" in convention, on the 21st of June, "in the name and 
behalf of the people of the State of New Hampshire" declared 
their approval and adoption of the Constitution. In this State, 
also, the opposition was formidable (the final vote being 57 to 
46), and, as in South Carolina, it was " explicitly declared that 
all powers not expressly and particularly delegated by the afore- 
said Constitution are reserved to the several States, to be by 
them exercised." 

The debates in the Yirginia Convention were long and 
animated. Some of the most eminent and most gifted men 
of that period took part in them, and they have ever since been 
referred to for the exposition which they afford of the interpre- 
tation of the Constitution by its authors and their contempo- 
raries. Among the members were Madison, Mason, and Ran- 
dolph, who had also been members of the Convention at Phila- 
delphia. Mr. Madison was one of the most earnest advocates of 
the new Constitution, while Mr. Mason was as warmly opposed 
to its adoption ; so also was Patrick Henry, the celebrated ora- 
tor. It was assailed with great vehemence at every vulnerable 


or doubtful point, and was finally ratified June 26, 1788, by a 
vote of 89 to 79 — a majority of only ten. 

This ratification was expressed in the same terms employed 
by other States, by " the delegates of the people of Virginia, 
... in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia" In 
so doing, however, like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and 
South Carolina, Yirginia demanded certain amendments as a 
more explicit guarantee against consolidation, and accompanied 
the demand with the following declaration : 

" That the powers granted under the Constitution, being de- 
rived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by 
them, whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or 
oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains 
with them and at their will," etc., etc. 

Whether, in speaking of a possible resumption of powers by 
" the people of the United States," the Convention had in mind 
the action of such a people in the aggregate — a political commu- 
nity which did not exist, and of which they could hardly have 
entertained even an ideal conception — or of the people of Yir- 
ginia, for whom they were speaking, and of the other United 
States then taking similar action — is a question which scarcely 
admits of argument, but which will be more fully considered in 
the proper place. 

New York, the eleventh State to signify her assent, did so 
on July 26, 1788, after an arduous and protracted discussion, 
and then by a majority of but three votes — 30 to 27. Even 
this small majority was secured only by the recommendation 
of certain material amendments, the adoption of which by the 
other States it was at first proposed to make a condition pre- 
cedent to the validity of the ratification. This idea was aban- 
doned after a correspondence between Mr. Hamilton and Mr. 
Madison, and, instead of conditional ratification, New York pro- 
vided for the resumption of her grants ; but the amendments 
were put forth with a circular letter to the other States, in which 
it was declared that " nothing but the fullest confidence of ob- 
taining a revision " of the objectionable features of the Consti- 
tution, "and an invincible reluctance to separating from our 


sister States, could have prevailed upon a sufficient number to 
ratify it without stipulating for previous amendments." 

The ratification was expressed in the usual terms, as made 
u ~by the delegates of the people of the State of New York, . . . 
in the name and in behalf of the people " of the said State. Ac- 
companying it was a declaration of the principles in which the 
assent of New York was conceded, one paragraph of which runs 
as follows : 

" That the powers of government may be reassumed by the 
people, whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness ; 
that every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not, by the 
said Constitution, clearly delegated to the Congress of the United 
States, or the departments of the Government thereof, remains to 
the people of the several States, or to their respective State gov- 
ernments, to whom they may have granted the same ; and that 
those clauses in the said Constitution which declare that Congress 
shall not have or exercise certain powers, do not imply that Con- 
gress is entitled to any powers not given by the said Constitution, 
but such clauses are to be construed either as exceptions to certain 
specified powers or as inserted for greater caution." 

The acceptance of these eleven States having been signified 
to the Congress, provision was made for putting the new Con- 
stitution in operation. This was effected on March 4, 1789, 
when the Government was organized, with George Washington 
as President, and John Adams, Vice-President ; the Senators 
and Representatives elected by the States which had acceded 
to the Constitution, organizing themselves as a Congress. 

Meantime, two States were standing, as we have seen, unques- 
tioned and unmolested, in an attitude of absolute independence. 
The Convention of North Carolina, on August 2, 1788, had re- 
jected the proposed Constitution, or, more properly speaking, 
had withheld her ratification until action could be taken upon 
the subject-matter of the following resolution adopted by her 
Convention : 

" Resolved, That a declaration of rights, asserting and securing 
from encroachment the great principles of civil and religious lib- 
erty, and the unalienable rights of the people, together with amend- 


ments to the most ambiguous and exceptionable parts of the said 
Constitution of government, ought to be laid before Congress and 
the Convention of the States that shall or may be called for the 
purpose of amending the said Constitution, for their consideration, 
previous to the ratification of the Constitution aforesaid on the 
part of the State of North Carolina." 

More than a year afterward, when the newly organized Gov- 
ernment had been in operation for nearly nine months, and 
when — although no convention of the States had been called 
to revise the Constitution — North Carolina had good reason to 
feel assured that the most important provisions of her proposed 
amendments and "declaration of rights" would be adopted, she 
acceded to the amended compact. On November 21, 1789, her 
Convention agreed, "in behalf of the freemen, citizens, and in- 
habitants of the State of North Carolina" to " adopt and ratify " 
the Constitution. 

In Rhode Island the proposed Constitution was at first sub- 
mitted to a direct vote of the people, who rejected it by an over- 
whelming majority. Subsequently — that is, on May 29, 1790, 
when the reorganized Government had been in operation for 
nearly fifteen months, and when it had become reasonably cer- 
tain that the amendments thought necessary would be adopted — 
a convention of the people of Rhode Island acceded to the new 
Union, and ratified the Constitution, though even then by a ma- 
jority of only two votes in sixty-six — 34 to 32. The ratification 
was expressed in substantially the same language as that which 
has now been so repeatedly cited : 

" We, the delegates of the people of the State of Rhode Island 
and Providence Plantations, duly elected and met in convention, 
... in the name and behalf of the people of Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations, do, by these presents, assent to and ratify 
the said Constitution." 

It is particularly to be noted that, during the intervals be- 
tween the organization of the Federal Government under the 
new Constitution and the ratification of that Constitution by 
North Carolina and Rhode Island, respectively, those States 


were absolutely independent and unconnected with any other 
political community, unless they be considered as still repre- 
senting the " United States of America," which by the Arti- 
cles of Confederation had been declared a " perpetual union." 
The other States had seceded from the former union — not in a 
body, but separately, each for itself — and had formed a new 
association, leaving these two States in the attitude of foreign 
though friendly powers. There was no claim of any right to 
control their action, as if they had been mere geographical 
or political divisions of one great consolidated community or 
" nation." Their accession to the Union was desired, but their 
freedom of choice in the matter was never questioned. And 
then it is to be noted, on their part, that, like the house of 
Judah, they refrained from any attempt to force the seceding 
sisters to return. 

As illustrative of the relations existing during this period 
between the United States and Rhode Island, it may not be 
uninstructive to refer to a letter sent by the government of 
the latter to the President and Congress, and transmitted by 
the President to the Senate, with the following note : 

" United States, September 26, 1789. 
" Gentlemen of the Senate : Having yesterday received a 
letter written in this month by the Governor of Rhode Island, at 
the request and in behalf of the General Assembly of that State, 
addressed to the President, the Senate, and the House of Repre- 
sentatives of the eleven United States of America in Congress 
assembled, I take the earliest opportunity of laying a copy of it 
before you. 

" George Washington." 

Some extracts from the communication referred to are an- 
nexed : 

" State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, 
In General Assembly, September Session, 1789. 

" To the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the 
eleven United States of America in Congress assembled : 

" The critical situation in which the people of this State are 

placed engages us to make these assurances, on their behalf, of 

their attachment and friendship to their sister States, and of their 


disposition to cultivate mutual harmony and friendly intercourse. 
They know themselves to be a handful, comparatively viewed, 
and, although they now stand as it were alone, they have not sep- 
arated themselves or departed from the principles of that Confed- 
eration, which was formed by the sister States in their struggle 
for freedom and in the hour of danger. . . . 

" Our not having acceded to or adopted the new system of gov- 
ernment formed and adopted by most of our sister States, we doubt 
not, has given uneasiness to them. That we have not seen our way 
clear to it, consistently with our idea of the principles upon which 
we all embarked together, has also given pain to us. We have not 
doubted that we might thereby avoid present difficulties, but we 
have apprehended future mischief. . . . 

" Can it be thought strange that, with these impressions, they 
[the people of this State] should wait to see the proposed system 
organized and in operation ? — to see what further checks and secu- 
rities would be agreed to and established by way of amendments, 
before they could adopt it as a Constitution of government for 
themselves and their posterity ? . . . 

" We are induced to hope that we shall not be altogether con- 
sidered as foreigners having no particular affinity or connection 
with the United States ; but that trade and commerce, upon which 
the prosperity of this State much depends, will be preserved as 
free and open between this State and the United States, as our 
different situations at present can possibly admit. . . . 

" We feel ourselves attached by the strongest ties of friend- 
ship, kindred, and interest, to our sister States ; and we can not, 
without the greatest reluctance, look to any other quarter for those 
advantages of commercial intercourse which we conceive to be 
more natural and reciprocal between them and us. 

" I am, at the request and in behalf of the General Assembly, 
your most obedient, humble servant. 

" John" Collins, Governor. 

" His Excellency, the President of the United States.'''' 

[American State Papers, Vol. I, Miscellaneous.] 




The Constitution not adopted by one People " in the Aggregate." — A Great Fallacy 
exposed. — Mistake of Judge Story. — Colonial Kelations. — The United Colonies 
of New England. — Other Associations. — Independence of Communities traced 
from Germany to Great Britain, and from Great Britain to America. — Mr. 
Everett's " Provincial People." — Origin and Continuance of the Title " United 
States." — No such Political Community as the " People of the United States." 

The historical retrospect of the last three chapters and the 
extracts from the records of a generation now departed have 
been presented as necessary to a right understanding of the 
nature and principles of the compact of 1787, on which de- 
pended the questions at issue in the secession of 1861 and the 
contest that ensued between the States. 

"We have seen that the united colonies, when they declared 
their independence, formed a league or alliance with one another 
as " United States." This title antedated the adoption of the 
Articles of Confederation. It was assumed immediately after 
the Declaration of Independence, and was continued under the 
Articles of Confederation ; the first of which declared that 
u the style of this confederacy shall be ' The United States 
of America ' " ; and this style was retained — without question 
— in the formation of the present Constitution. The name was 
not adopted as antithetical to, or distinctive from, "confed- 
erate," as some seem to have imagined. If it has any signifi- 
cance now, it must have had the same under the Articles of 
Confederation, or even before they were adopted. 

It has been fully shown that the States which thus became 
and continued to be " united," whatever form their union as- 
sumed, acted and continued to act as distinct and sovereign 
political communities. The monstrous fiction that they acted 
as one people " in their aggregate capacity " has not an atom of 
fact to serve as a basis. 

To go back to the very beginning, the British colonies never 
constituted one people. Judge Story, in his " Commentaries " on 
the Constitution, seems to imply the contrary, though he shrinks 
from a direct assertion of it, and clouds the subject by a con- 


fusion of terms. He says : " Now, it is apparent that none of 
the colonies before the Revolution were, in the most large and 
general sense, independent or sovereign communities. They 
were all originally settled under and subjected to the British 
Crown." And then he proceeds to show that they were, in 
their colonial condition, not sovereign — a proposition which no- 
body disputed. As colonies, they had no claim, and made no 
pretension, to sovereignty. They were subject to the British 
Crown, unless, like the Plymouth colony, " a law unto them- 
selves," but they were independent of each other — the only 
point which has any bearing upon their subsequent relations. 
There was no other bond between them than that of their com- 
mon allegiance to the Government of the mother-country. As 
an illustration of this may be cited the historical fact that, when 
John Stark, of Bennington memory, was before the Revolution 
engaged in a hunting expedition in the Indian country, he was 
captured by the savages and brought to Albany, in the colony 
of New York, for a ransom ; but, inasmuch as he belonged to 
New Hampshire, the government of New York took no action 
for his release. There was not even enough community of 
feeling to induce individual citizens to provide money for the 

There were, however, local and partial confederacies among 
the New England colonies, long before the Declaration of In- 
dependence. As early as the year 1643 a Congress had been 
organized of delegates from Massachusetts, Plymouth, New 
Haven, and Connecticut, under the style of " The United Col- 
onies of New England." The objects of this confederacy, ac- 
cording to Mr. Bancroft, were " protection against the encroach- 
ments of the Dutch and French, security against the tribes of 
savages, the liberties of the gospel in purity and in peace." * 
The general affairs of the company were intrusted to commis- 
sions, two from each colony ; but the same historian tells us that 
" to each its respective local jurisdiction was carefully reserved," 
and he refers to this as evidence that the germ-principle of State- 
rights was even then in existence. " Thus remarkable for un- 
mixed simplicity" (he proceeds) "was the form of the first con- 

* Bancroft's " History of the United States," vol. i, chap. ix. 


federated government in America. . . . There was no president, 
except as a moderator of its meetings, and the larger State [sic], 
Massachusetts, superior to all the rest in territory, wealth, and 
population, had no greater number of votes than New Haven. 
But the commissioners were in reality little more than a delib- 
erative body; they possessed no executive power, and, while 
they could decree a war and a levy of troops, it remained for 
the States to carry their votes into effect." * 

This confederacy continued in existence for nearly fifty years. 
Between that period and the year 1774, when the first Con- 
tinental Congress met in Philadelphia, several other temporary 
and provisional associations of colonies had been formed, and 
the people had been taught the advantages of union for a com- 
mon purpose ; but they had never abandoned or compromised 
the great principle of community independence. That form of 
self-government, generated in the German forests before the 
days of the Csesars, had given to that rude people a self-reliance 
and patriotism which first checked the flight of the Roman 
eagles, which elsewhere had been the emblem of their dominion 
over the known world. This principle — the great preserver 
of all communal freedom and of mutual harmony — was trans- 
planted by the Saxons into England, and there sustained those 
personal rights which, after the fall of the Heptarchy, were 
almost obliterated by the encroachments of Norman despotism ; 
but, having the strength and perpetuity of truth and right, were 
reasserted by the mailed hands of the barons at Runnymede for 
their own benefit and that of their posterity. Englishmen, the 
early settlers, brought this idea to the wilds of America, and it 
found expression in many forms among the infant colonies. 

Mr. Edward Everett, in his Fourth-of-July address, delivered 
in New York in 1861, following the lead of Judge Story, and 
with even less caution, boldly declares that, "before their inde- 
pendence of England was asserted, they [the colonies] consti- 
tuted a provincial people." To sustain this position — utterly 
contrary to all history as it is — he is unable to adduce any valid 
American authority, but relies almost exclusively upon loose ex- 
pressions employed in debate in the British Parliament about 
* Bancroft's " History of the United States," vol. i, chap. ix. 



the period of the American Revolution — such as " that people," 
" that loyal and respectable people," " this enlightened and spir- 
ited people," etc., etc. The speakers who made use of this col- 
loquial phraseology concerning the inhabitants of a distant 
continent, in the freedom of extemporaneous debate, were not 
framing their ideas with the exactitude of a didactic treatise, 
and could little have foreseen the extraordinary use to be made 
of their expressions nearly a century afterward, in sustaining a 
theory contradictory to history as well as to common sense. It 
is as if the familiar expressions often employed in our own time, 
such as " the people of Africa," or " the people of South Amer- 
ica," should be cited, by some ingenious theorist of a future gen- 
eration, as evidence that the subjects of the Khedive and those 
of the King of Dahomey were but " one people," or that the 
Peruvians and the Patagonians belonged to the same political 

Mr. Everett, it is true, quotes two expressions of the Con- 
tinental Congress to sustain his remarkable proposition that the 
colonies were " a people." One of these is found in a letter 
addressed by the Congress to General Gage in October, 1774, 
remonstrating against the erection of fortifications in Boston, in 
which they say, " We entreat your Excellency to consider what 
a tendency this conduct must have to irritate and force a free 
people, hitherto well disposed to peaceable measures, into hos- 
tilities." From this expression Mr. Everett argues that the Con- 
gress considered themselves the representatives of " a people." 
But, by reference to the proceedings of the Congress, he might 
readily have ascertained that the letter to General Gage was 
written in behalf of " the town of Boston and Province of Mas- 
sachusetts Bay" the people of which were " considered by all 
America as suffering in the common cause for their noble and 
spirited opposition to oppressive acts of Parliament." The 
avowed object was " to entreat his Excellency, from the assur- 
ance we have of the peaceable disposition of the inhabitants of 
the town of Boston and of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 
to discontinue his fortifications." * These were the " people " 
referred to by the Congress ; and the children of the Pilgrims, 

* " American Archives," fourth series, vol. i, p. 908. 


who occupied at that period the town of Boston and Province 
of Massachusetts Bay, would have been not a little astonished 
to be reckoned as " one people," in any other respect than that 
of the " common cause," with the Roman Catholics of Maryland, 
the Episcopalians of Virginia, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, or 
the Baptists of Phode Island. 

The other citation of Mr. Everett is from the first sentence 
of the Declaration of Independence : " When in the course of 
human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the 
political bands which have connected them with another," etc., 
etc. This, he says, characterizes " the good people " of the col- 
onies as " one people." 

Plainly, it does no such thing. The misconception is so 
palpable as scarcely to admit of serious answer. The Declara- 
tion of Independence opens with a general proposition. " One 
people" is equivalent to saying "any people." The use of the 
correlatives "one" and "another" was the simple and natural 
way of stating this general proposition. " One people " applies, 
and was obviously intended to apply, to all cases of the same 
category — to that of New Hampshire, or Delaware, or South 
Carolina, or of any other people existing or to exist, and whether 
acting separately or in concert. It applies to any case, and all 
cases, of dissolution of political bands, as well as to the case of 
the British colonies. It does not, either directly or by implica- 
tion, assert their unification, and has no bearing whatever upon 
the question. 

When the colonies united in sending representatives to a 
Congress in Philadelphia, there was no purpose — no suggestion 
of a purpose — to merge their separate individuality in one 
consolidated mass. No such idea existed, or with their known 
opinions could have existed. They did not assume to become a 
united colony or province, but styled themselves " united colo- 
nies " — colonies united for purposes of mutual counsel and de- 
fense, as the New England colonies had been united more than 
a hundred years before. It was as " United States" — not as a 
state, or united people — that these colonies — still distinct and 
politically independent of each other — asserted and achieved 
their independence of the mother-country. As " United States " 


they adopted the Articles of Confederation, in which the separate 
sovereignty, freedom, and independence of each was distinctly 
asserted. They were " united States " when Great Britain ac- 
knowledged the absolute freedom and independence of each, 
distinctly and separately recognized by name. France and 
Spain were parties to the same treaty, and the French and 
Spanish idioms still express and perpetuate, more exactly than 
the English, the true idea intended to be embodied in the 
title — les Mats Unis, or los Estados Unidos — the States 

It was without any change of title — still as " United States" 
— without any sacrifice of individuality — without any compro- 
mise of sovereignty — that the same parties entered into a new 
and amended compact with one another under the present Con- 
stitution. Larger and more varied powers were conferred upon 
the common Government for the purpose of insuring " a more 
perfect union " — not for that of destroying or impairing the in- 
tegrity of the contracting members. 

The point which now specially concerns the argument is the 
historical fact that, in all these changes of circumstances and of 
government, there has never been one single instance of .action 
by the " people of the United States in the aggregate," or as one 
body. Before the era of independence, whatever was done by 
the people of the colonies was done by the people of each colony 
separately and independently of each other, although in union by 
their delegates for certain specified purposes. Since the asser- 
tion of their independence, the people of the United States have 
never acted otherwise than as the people of each State, severally 
and separately. The Articles of Confederation were established 
and ratified by the several States, either through conventions of 
their people or through the State Legislatures. The Constitution 
which superseded those articles was framed, as we have seen, 
by delegates chosen and empowered by the several States, and 
was ratified by conventions of the people of the same States — 
all acting in entire independence of one another. This ratifica- 
tion alone gave it force and validity. Without the approval and 
ratification of the people of the States, it would have been, as 
Mr. Madison expressed it, " of no more consequence than the 


paper on which it was written." It was never submitted to 
"the people of the United States in the aggregate," or as a peo- 
ple. Indeed, no such political community as the people of the 
United States in the aggregate exists at this day or ever did 
exist. Senators in Congress confessedly represent the States as 
equal units. The House of Representatives is not a body of 
representatives of " the people of the United States," as often 
erroneously asserted ; but the Constitution, in the second sec- 
tion of its first article, expressly declares that it "shall be 
composed of members chosen by the people of the several 

Nor is it true that the President and Vice-President are 
elected, as it is sometimes vaguely stated, by vote of the " whole 
people " of the Union. Their election is even more unlike what 
such a vote would be than that of the representatives, who in 
numbers at least represent the strength of their respective States. 
In the election of President and Yice-President the Constitution 
(Article II) prescribes that " each State shall appoint, in such 
manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of elec- 
tors " for the purpose of choosing a President and Yice-President. 
The number of these electors is based partly upon the equal sov- 
ereignty, partly upon the unequal population of the respective 

It is, then, absolutely true that there has never been any 
such thing as a vote of " the people of the United States in the 
aggregate " ; no such people is recognized by the Constitution ; 
and no such political community has ever existed. It is equally 
true that no officer or department of the General Government 
formed by the Constitution derives authority from a majority of 
the whole people of the United States, or has ever been chosen 
by such majority. As little as any other is the United States 
Government a government of a majority of the mass. 



The Preamble to the Constitution. — " We, the People." 

The preamble to the Constitution proposed by the Conven- 
tion of 1787 is in these words : 

"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a 
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, 
provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, 
and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, 
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of 

The phraseology of this preamble has been generally re- 
garded as the stronghold of the advocates of consolidation. It 
has been interpreted as meaning that " we, the people of the 
United States," as a collective body, or as a "nation," in onr 
aggregate capacity, had " ordained and established " the Consti- 
tution over the States. 

This interpretation constituted, in the beginning, the most 
serious difficulty in the way of the ratification of the Constitu- 
tion. It was probably this to which that sturdy patriot, Sam- 
uel Adams, of Massachusetts, alluded, when he wrote to Hich- 
ard Henry Lee, " I stumble at the threshold." Patrick Henry, 
in the Yirginia Convention, on the third day of the session, 
and in the very opening of the debate, attacked it vehemently. 
He said, speaking of the system of government set forth in the 
proposed Constitution : 

" That this is a consolidated government is demonstrably 
clear ; and the danger of such a government is, to my mind, very 
striking. I have the highest veneration for those gentlemen [its 
authors] ; but, sir, give me leave to demand, What right had they 
to say, We, the people f My political curiosity, exclusive of my 
anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask, Who 
authorized them to speak the language of ' We, the people? in- 
stead of We, the States f States are the characteristics and the 
soul of a confederation. If the States be not the agents of this 


compact, it must be one great consolidated national government 
of the people of all the States." * 

Again, on the next day, with reference to the same subject, 
he said : " When I asked that question, I thought the meaning 
of my interrogation was obvious. The fate of this question 
and of America may depend on this. Have they said, "We, the 
States ? Have they made a proposal of a compact between 
States? If they had, this would be a confederation : it is oth- 
erwise most clearly a consolidated government. The question 
turns, sir, on that poor little thing — the expression, 'We, the 
people,' instead of the States of America." f 

The same difficulty arose in other minds and in other con- 

The scruples of Mr. Adams were removed by the explana- 
tions of others, and by the assurance of the adoption of the 
amendments thought necessary — especially of that declaratory 
safeguard afterward embodied in the tenth amendment — to be 
referred to hereafter. 

Mr. Henry's objection was thus answered by Mr. Madison : 

" Who are parties to it [the Constitution] ? The people — but 
not the people as composing one great body / but the people as 
composing thirteen sovereignties : were it, as the gentleman [Mr. 
Henry] asserts, a consolidated government, the assent of a ma- 
jority of the people would be sufficient for its establishment, and 
as a majority have adopted it already, the remaining States would 
be bound by the act of the majority, even if they unanimously 
reprobated it : were it such a government as is suggested, it 
would be now binding on the people of this State, without hav- 
ing had the privilege of deliberating upon it ; but, sir, no State is 
bound by it, as it is, without its own consent. Should all the 
States adopt it, it will be then a government established by the 
thirteen States of America, not through the intervention of the 
Legislatures, but by the people at large. In this particular respect 
the distinction between the existing and proposed governments 
is very material. The existing system has been derived from 
the dependent, derivative authority of the Legislatures of the 

* Elliott's " Debates " (Washington edition, 1836), vol. iii, p. 54. \ Ibid., p. 12. 


States, whereas this is derived from the superior power of the 
people." * 

It must be remembered that this was spoken by one of the 
leading members of the Convention which formed the Consti- 
tution, within a few months after that instrument was drawn 
up. Mr. Madison's hearers could readily appreciate his clear 
answer to the objection made. The " people " intended were 
those of the respective States — the only organized communities 
of people exercising sovereign powers of government ; and the 
idea intended was the ratification and " establishment " of the 
Constitution by direct act of the people in their conventions, 
instead of by act of their Legislatures, as in the adoption of the 
Articles of Confederation. The explanation seems to have 
been as satisfactory as it was simple and intelligible. Mr.Henry, 
although he fought to the last against the ratification of the 
Constitution, did not again bring forward this objection, for the 
reason, no doubt, that it had been fully answered. Indeed, we 
hear no more of the interpretation which suggested it, from that 
period, for nearly half a century, w r hen it was revived, and has 
since been employed, to sustain that theory of a " great consoli- 
dated national government " which Mr. Madison so distinctly 

But we have access to sources of information, not then avail- 
able, which make the intent and meaning of the Constitution 
still plainer. When Mr. Henry made his objection, and Mr. 
Madison answered it, the journal of the Philadelphia Conven- 
tion had not been published. That body had sat with closed 
doors, and among its rules had been the following : 

" That no copy be taken of any entry on the journal during the 
sitting of the House, without the leave of the House. 

" That members only be permitted to inspect the journal. 

" That nothing spoken in the House be printed, or otherwise 
published or communicated, without leave." f 

We can understand, by reference to these rules, how Mr. 
Madison should have felt precluded from making allusion to 

* Elliott's "Debates" (Washington edition, 1836), vol. iii, pp. 114, 115. 
f Journal of the Federal Convention, May 29, 1787, 1 Elliott's "Debates." 


anything that had occurred during the proceedings of the Con- 
vention. But the secrecy then covering those proceedings has 
long since been removed. The manuscript journal, which was 
intrusted to the keeping of General Washington, President of 
the Convention, was deposited by him, nine years afterward, 
among the archives of the State Department. It has since been 
published, and we can trace for ourselves the origin, and ascer- 
tain the exact significance, of that expression, " We, the people," 
on which Patrick Henry thought the fate of America might 
depend, and which has been so grossly perverted in later years 
from its true intent. 

The original language of the preamble, reported to the Con- 
vention by a committee of five appointed to prepare the Con- 
stitution, as we find it in the proceedings of August 6, 1787, 
was as follows : 

" We, the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachu- 
setts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, do ordain, declare, 
and establish, the following Constitution for the government of 
ourselves and our posterity." 

There can be no question here what was meant : it was " the 
people of the States" designated by name, that were to " ordain, 
declare, and establish " the compact of union for themselves and 
their posterity. There is no ambiguity nor uncertainty in the 
language ; nor was there any difference in the Convention as to 
the use of it. The preamble, as perfected, was submitted to 
vote on the next day, and, as the journal informs us, " it passed 
unanimously in the affirmative." 

There was no subsequent change of opinion on the subject. 
The reason for the modification afterward made in the language 
is obvious. It was found that unanimous ratification of all the 
States could not be expected, and it was determined, as we have 
already seen, that the consent of nine States should suffice for 
the establishment of the new compact " between the States so 
ratifying the same." Any nine would be sufficient to put the 
proposed government in operation as to them, thus leaving the 

1181] THE WORD "PEOPLE." 125 

remainder of the thirteen to pursue such course as might be to 
each preferable. When this conclusion was reached, it became 
manifestly impracticable to designate beforehand the consenting 
States by name. Hence, in the final revision, the specific enu- 
meration of the thirteen States was omitted, and the equivalent 
phrase " people of the United States " inserted in its place — 
plainly meaning the people of such States as should agree to 
unite on the terms proposed. The imposing fabric of political 
delusion, which has been erected on the basis of this simple 
transaction, disappears before the light of historical record. 

Could the authors of the Constitution have foreseen the per- 
version to be made of their obvious meaning, it might have 
been prevented by an easy periphrasis — such as, " We, the peo- 
ple of the States hereby united," or something to the same effect. 
The word "people " in 1787, as in 1880, was, as it is, a collective 
noun, employed indiscriminately, either as a unit in such ex- 
pressions as "this people," "a free people," etc., or in a dis- 
tributive sense, as applied to the citizens or inhabitants of one 
state or country or a number of states or countries. When the 
Convention of the colony of Virginia, in 1774, instructed their 
delegates to the Congress that was to meet in Philadelphia, " to 
obtain a redress of those grievances, without which the people 
of America can neither be safe, free, nor happy," it was cer- 
tainly not intended to convey the idea that the people of the 
American Continent, or even of the British colonies in America, 
constituted one political community. Nor did Edmund Burke 
have any such meaning when he said, in his celebrated speech 
in Parliament, in 1775, "The people of the colonies are de- 
scendants of Englishmen." 

We need go no further than to the familiar language of 
King James's translation of the Bible for multiplied illustrations 
of this indiscriminate use of the term, both in its collective and 
distributive senses. For example, King Solomon prays at the 
dedication of the temple : 

" That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication .... 
of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call 
for unto thee. For thou didst separate them from among all the 
people of the earth, to be thine inheritance." (1 Kings viii, 52, 53.) 


Here we have both the singular and plural senses of the 
same word — one people, Israel, and all the people of the earth — 
in two consecutive sentences. In u the people of the earth," 
the word people is used precisely as it is in the expression " the 
people of the United States " in the preamble to the Constitu- 
tion, and has exactly the same force and effect. If in the latter 
case it implies that the people of Massachusetts and those of 
Yirginia were mere fractional parts of one political community, 
it must in the former imply a like unity among the Philistines, 
the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians, and 
all other " people of the earth," except the Israelites. Scores 
of examples of the same sort might be cited if it were neces- 

In the Declaration of Independence we find precisely analo- 
gous instances of the employment of the singular form for both 
singular and plural senses — " one people," " a free people," in 
the former, and " the good people of these colonies " in the 
latter. Judge Story, in the excess of his zeal in behalf of a the- 
ory of consolidation, bases upon this last expression the con- 
clusion that the assertion of independence was the act of " the 
whole people of the united colonies " as a unit ; overlooking or 
suppressing the fact that, in the very same sentence, the colo- 
nies declare themselves " free and independent States " — not a 
free and independent state — repeating the words " independent 
States " three times. 

If, however, the Declaration of Independence constituted 
one "whole people" of the colonies, then that geographical 
section of it, formerly known as the colony of Maryland, was in 
a state of revolt or " rebellion " against the others, as well as 
against Great Britain, from 1778 to 1781, during which period 
Maryland refused to ratify or be bound by the Articles of Con- 
federation, which, according to this theory, was binding upon 
her, as a majority of the " whole people " had adopted it. A 
fortiori, North Carolina and Rhode Island were in a state of 
rebellion in 1789-'90, while they declined to ratify and recog- 
nize the Constitution adopted by the other eleven fractions of 
this united people. Yet no hint of any such pretension — of 

* For a very striking illustration, see Deuteronomy vii, 6, 1. 


any claim of authority over them by the majority — of any asser- 
tion of " the supremacy of the Union " — is to be found in any 
of the records of that period. 

It might have been unnecessary to bestow so much time and 
attention in exposing the absurdity of the deductions from a 
theory so false, but for the fact that it has been specious enough 
to secure the countenance of men of such distinction as Web- 
ster, Story, and Everett ; and that it has been made the plea to 
justify a bloody war against that principle of State sovereignty 
and independence, which was regarded by the fathers of the 
Union as the corner-stone of the structure and the basis of the 
hope for its perpetuity. 


The Preamble to the Constitution — subject continued. — Growth of the Federal 
Government and Accretions of Power. — Revival of Old Errors. — Mistakes and 
Misstatements. — Webster, Story, and Everett. — Who " ordained and established " 
the Constitution ? 

In the progressive growth of the Government of the United 
States in power, splendor, patronage, and consideration abroad, 
men have been led to exalt the place of the Government above 
that of the States which created it. Those who would under- 
stand the true principles of the Constitution can not afford to 
lose sight of the essential plurality of idea invariably implied 
in the term " United States," wherever it is used in that instru- 
ment. No such unit as the United States is ever mentioned 
therein. We read that "no title of nobility shall be granted 
by the United States, and no person holding any office of profit 
or trust under them shall, without the consent of Congress, ac- 
cept," etc.* " The President . . . shall not receive, within that 
period, any other emolument from the United States, or any of 
them" f " The laws of the United States, and treaties made or 
which shall be made under their authority," etc. J " Treason 

* Article I, section 9, clause 8. f Article II, section 1, clause 6. 

% Article III, section 2. 


against the United States shall consist only in levying war 
against them, or in adhering to their enemies." * The Federal 
character of the Union is expressed by this very phraseology, 
which recognizes the distinct integrity of its members, not as frac- 
tional parts of one great unit, but as component units of an asso- 
ciation. So clear was this to contemporaries, that it needed only 
to be pointed out to satisfy their scruples. We have seen how 
effectual was the answer of Mr. Madison to the objections 
raised by Patrick Henry. Mr. Tench Coxe, of Pennsylvania, 
one of the ablest political writers of his generation, in answer- 
ing a similar objection, said : " If the Federal Convention had 
meant to exclude the idea of ' union ' — that is, of several and 
separate sovereignties joining in a confederacy — they would 
have said, ' We, the people of America ' ; for union necessarily 
involves the idea of competent States, which complete consoli- 
dation excludes." f 

More than forty years afterward, when the gradual accre- 
tions to the ipower, prestige, and influence of the central Govern- 
ment had grown to such extent as to begin to hide from view the 
purposes for which it was founded, those very objections, which 
in the beginning had been answered, abandoned, and thrown 
aside, were brought to light again, and presented to the country 
as expositions of the true meaning of the Constitution. Mr. 
Webster, one of the first to revive some of those early miscon- 
ceptions so long ago refuted as to be almost forgotten, and to 
breathe into them such renewed vitality as his commanding 
genius could impart, in the course of his well-known debate in 
the Senate with Mr. Hayne, in 1830, said: 

"It can not be shown that the Constitution is a compact be- 
tween State governments. The Constitution itself, in its very 
front, refutes that proposition : it declares that it is ordained and 
established by the people of the United States. So far from say- 
ing that it is established by the governments of the several States, 
it does not even say that it is established by the people of the 
several States ; but it pronounces that it is established by the peo- 
ple of the United States in the aggregate." J 

* Article III, section 3. f "American Museum," February, 1788. 

X Benton's " Abridgment," vol. x, p. 448. 


Judge Story about the same time began to advance the same 
theory, but more guardedly and with less rashness of statement. 
It was not until thirty years after that it attained its full devel- 
opment in the annunciations of sectionists rather than states- 
men. Two such may suffice as specimens : • 

Mr. Edward Everett, in his address delivered on the 4th of 
July, 1861, and already referred to, says of the Constitution : 
" That instrument does not purport to be a ' compact,' but a 
constitution of government. It appears, in its first sentence, not 
to have been entered into by the States, but to have been or- 
dained and established by the people of the United States for 
themselves and their ' posterity.' The States are not named in it ; 
nearly all the characteristic powers of sovereignty are expressly 
granted to the General Government and expressly prohibited to 
the States." * Mr. Everett afterward repeats the assertion that 
" the States are not named in it." f 

But a yet more extraordinary statement of the " one people " 
theory is found in a letter addressed to the London " Times," in 
the same year, 1861, on the " Causes of the Civil "War," by Mr. 
John Lothrop Motley, afterward Minister to the Court of St. 
James. In this letter Mr. Motley says of the Constitution of 
the United States : 

" It was not a compact. Who ever heard of a compact to 
which there were no parties ? or who ever heard of a compact 
made by a single party with himself ? Yet the name of no State 
is mentioned in the whole document ; the States themselves are 
only mentioned to receive commands or prohibitions ; and the 
' people of the United States ' is the single party by whom alone 
the instrument is executed. 

" The Constitution was not drawn up by the States, it was not 
promulgated in the name of the States, it was not ratified by the 
States. The States never acceded to it, and possess no power to 
secede from it. It was * ordained and established ' over the States 
by a power superior to the States ; by the people of the whole 
land in their aggregate capacity," etc. 

It would be very hard to condense a more amazing amount 

* See address by Edward Everett at the Academy of Music, New York, July 4, 
1861. f Ibid. 



of audacious and reckless falsehood in the same space. In all 
Mr. Motley's array of bold assertions, there is not one single 
truth — unless it be, perhaps, that "the Constitution was not 
drawn up by the States." Yet it was drawn up by their dele- 
gates, and it is of such material as this, derived from writers 
whose reputation gives a semblance of authenticity to their state- 
ments, that history is constructed and transmitted. 

One of the most remarkable — though, perhaps, the least 
important — of these misstatements is that which is also twice 
repeated by Mr. Everett — that the name of no State is men- 
tioned in the whole document, or, as he puts it, " the States are 
not named in it." Yery little careful examination would have 
sufficed to find, in the second section of the very first article 
of the Constitution, the names of every one of the thirteen 
then existent States distinctly mentioned, with the number of 
representatives to which each would be entitled, in case of 
acceding to the Constitution, until a census of their population 
could be taken. The mention there made of the States by 
name is of no special significance ; it has no bearing upon any 
question of principle ; and the denial of it is a purely gratu- 
itous illustration of the recklessness of those from whom it 
proceeds, and the low estimate put on the intelligence of those 
addressed. It serves, however, to show how much credence is 
to be given to their authority as interpreters and expounders. 

The reason why the names of the ratifying States were not 
mentioned has already been given : it was simply because it 
was not known which States would ratify. But, as regards 
mention of " the several States," " each State," " any State," 
" particular States," and the like, the Constitution is full of it. 
I am informed, by one who has taken the pains to examine care- 
fully that document with reference to this very point, that— 
without including any mention of " the United States " or of 
"foreign states," and excluding also the amendments — the 
Constitution, in its original draft, makes mention of the States, 
as States, no less than severity times ; and of these seventy times, 
only three times in the way of prohibition of the exercise of a 
power. In fact, it is full of statehood. Leave out all mention 
of the States — I make no mere verbal point or quibble, but 


mean the States in their separate, several, distinct capacity — 
and what would remain would be of less account than the play 
of the Prince of Denmark with the part of Hamlet omitted. 

But, leaving out of consideration for the moment all minor 
questions, the vital and essential point of inquiry now is, by 
what authority the Constitution was " ordained and established." 
Mr. Webster says it was done " by the people of the United 
States in the aggregate " ; Mr. Everett repeats substantially the 
same thing ; and Mr. Motley, taking a step further, says that 
" it was ' ordained and established ' by a power superior to the 
States — by the people of the whole land in their aggregate ca- 

The advocates of this mischievous dogma assume the exist- 
ence of an unauthorized, undefined power of a" whole people," 
or " people of the whole land," operating through the agency 
of the Philadelphia Convention, to impose its decrees upon the 
States. They forget, in the first place, that this Convention 
was composed of delegates, not of any one people, but of dis- 
tinct States ; and, in the second place, that their action had no 
force or validity whatever — in the words of Mr. Madison, that 
it was of no more consequence than the paper on which it was 
written — until approved and ratified by a sufficient number 
of States. The meaning of the preamble, " We, the people 
of the United States .... do ordain and establish this Consti- 
tution," is ascertained, fixed, and- defined by the final article : 
" The ratification of the conventions of nme States shall be suffi- 
cient for the establishment of this Constitution between the 
States so ratifying the same." If it was already established, 
what need was there of further establishment ? It was not or- 
dained or established at all, until ratified by the requisite num- 
ber of States. The announcement in the preamble of course 
had reference to that expected ratification, without which the 
preamble would have been as void as the body of the instru- 
ment. The assertion that " it was not ratified by the States " 
is so plainly and positively contrary to well-known fact— so in- 
consistent with the language of the Constitution itself — that it 
is hard to imagine what was intended by it, unless it was to 
take advantage of the presumed ignorance of the subject among 


the readers of an English journal, to impose upon them a pre- 
posterous fiction. It was State ratification alone — the ratifica- 
tion of the people of each State, independently of all other peo- 
ple—that gave force, vitality, and validity to the Constitution. 

Judge Story, referring to the fact that the voters assembled 
in the several States, asks where else they could have assembled 
—a pertinent question on our theory, but the idea he evidently 
intended to convey was that the voting of " the people " by 
States was a mere matter of geographical necessity, or local con- 
venience ; just as the people of a State vote by counties ; the 
people of a county by towns, " beats," or " precincts " ; and the 
people of a city by wards. It is hardly necessary to say that, 
in all organized republican communities, majorities govern. 
When we speak of the will of the people of a community, we 
mean the will of a majority, which, when constitutionally ex- 
pressed, is binding on any minority of the same community. 

If, then, we can conceive, and admit for a moment, the pos- 
sibility that, when the Constitution was under consideration, 
the people of the United States were politically " one people " — 
a collective unit — two deductions are clearly inevitable : In the 
first place, each geographical division of this great community 
would have been entitled to vote according to its relative popu- 
lation ; and, in the second, the expressed will of the legal ma- 
jority would have been binding upon the whole. A denial of 
the first proposition would be a denial of common justice and 
equal rights ; a denial of the second would be to destroy all 
government and establish mere anarchy. 

Now, neither of these principles was practiced or proposed 
or even imagined in the case of the action of the people of the 
United States (if they were one political community) upon the 
proposed Constitution. On the contrary, seventy thousand 
people in the State of Delaware had precisely the same weight 
— one vote — in its ratification, as seven hundred thousand (and 
more) in Virginia, or four hundred thousand in Pennsylvania. 
Would not this have been an intolerable grievance and wrong 
— would no protest have been uttered against it — if these had 
been fractional parts of one community of people ? 

Again, while the will of the consenting majority within any 


State was binding on the opposing minority in the same, no 
majority, or majorities, of States or people had' any control 
whatever upon the people of another State. The Constitution 
was established, not " over the States," as asserted by Motley, 
but " between the States," and only " between the States so rati- 
fying the same." Little Rhode Island, with her seventy thou- 
sand inhabitants, was not a mere fractional part of " the people 
of the whole land," during the period for which she held aloof, 
but was as free, independent, and unmolested, as any other sov- 
ereign power, notwithstanding the majority of more than three 
millions of " the whole people " on the other side of the question. 
Before the ratification of the Constitution — when there was 
some excuse for an imperfect understanding or misconception 
of the terms proposed — Mr. Madison thus answered, in advance, 
the objections made on the ground of this misconception, and 
demonstrated its fallacy. He wrote : 

"That it will be a federal and not a national act, as these 
terms are understood by objectors — the act of the people, as form- 
ing so many independent States, not as forming one aggregate na- 
tion — is obvious from this single consideration, that it is to result 
neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the Union 
nor from that of a majority of the States. It must result from the 
unanimous assent of the several States that are parties to it, differ- 
ing no otherwise from their ordinary assent than in its being ex- 
pressed, not by the legislative authority, but by that of the people 
themselves. Were the people regarded in this transaction as form- 
ing one nation, the will of the majority of the whole people of the 
United States would bind the minority, in the same manner as 
the majority in each State must bind the minority ; and the will 
of the majority must be determined either by a comparison of the 
individual votes or by considering the will of the majority of the 
States as evidence of the will of a majority of the people of the 
United States. Neither of these has been adopted. Each State, 
in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, 
independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own volun- 
tary act." * 

It is a tedious task to have to expose the misstatements, both 

* " Federalist," No. xxxix. 


of fact and of principle, which have occupied so much atten- 
tion, but it is rendered necessary by the extent to which they 
have been imposed upon the acceptance of the public, through 
reckless assertion and confident and incessant repetition. 

" ' I remember,' says Mr. Webster, ' to have heard Chief- Jus- 
tice Marshall ask counsel, who was insisting upon the authority of 
an act of legislation, if he thought an act of legislation could cre- 
ate or destroy a fact, or change the truth of history ? "Would it 
alter the fact," said he, " if a Legislature should solemnly enact that 
Mr. Hume never wrote the History of England ? " A Legislature 
may alter the law,' continues Mr. Webster, * but no power can re- 
verse a fact.' Hence, if the Convention of 1787 had expressly de- 
clared that the Constitution was [to be] ordained by ' the people 
of the United States in the aggregate] or by the people of America 
as one nation, this would not have destroyed the fact that it was 
ratified by each State for itself, and that each State was bound only 
by 'its own voluntary act.' " (Bledsoe.) 

But the Convention, as we have seen, said no such thing. 
No such community as " the people of the United States in the 
aggregate " is known to it, or ever acted on it. It was ordained, 
established, and ratified by the people of the several States ; and 
no theories or assertions of a later generation can change or con- 
ceal this fixed fact, as it stands revealed in the light of contem- 
poraneous records. 


Verbal Cavils and Criticisms. — "Compact," "Confederacy," "Accession," etc. — 
The " New Vocabulary." — The Federal Constitution a Compact, and the States 
acceded to it. — Evidence of the Constitution itself and of Contemporary Rec- 

I have habitually spoken of the Federal Constitution as a 
compact, and of the parties to it as sovereign States. These 
terms should not, and in earlier times would not, have required 
explanation or vindication. But they have been called in ques- 
tion by the modern school of consolidation. These gentlemen 


admit that the Government under the Articles of Confederation 
was a compact. Mr. Webster, in his rejoinder to Mr. Hayne, 
on the 27th of January, 1830, said : 

" When the gentleman says the Constitution is a compact be- 
tween the States, he uses language exactly applicable to the old 
Confederation. He speaks as if he were in Congress before 1789. 
He describes fully that old state of things then existing. The 
Confederation was, in strictness, a compact ; the States, as States, 
were parties to it. We had no other General Government. But 
that was found insufficient and inadequate to the public exigen- 
cies. The people were not satisfied with it, and undertook to es- 
tablish a better. They undertook to form a General Government, 
which should stand on a new basis — not a confederacy, not a league, 
not a compact between States, but a Constitution." * 

Again, in his discussion with Mr. Calhoun, three years after- 
ward, he vehemently reiterates the same denial. Of the Con- 
stitution, he says : " Does it call itself a compact ? Certainly 
not. It uses the word ' compact ' but once, and that when it 
declares that the States shall enter into no compact.f Does it 
call itself a league, a confederacy, a subsisting treaty between 
the States ? Certainly not. There is not a particle of such lan- 
guage in all its pages." $ 

The artist, who wrote under his picture the legend " This 
is a horse," made effectual provision against any such cavil as 
that preferred by Mr. Webster and his followers, that the Con- 
stitution is not a compact, because it is not " so nominated in the 
bond." As well as I can recollect, there is no passage in the 
" Iliad " or the " JEneid " in which either of those great works 
" calls itself," or is called by its author, an epic poem, yet this 
would scarcely be accepted as evidence that they are not epic 
poems. In an examination of Mr. Webster's remarks, I do not 
find that he announces them to be either a speech or an argu- 
ment ; yet their claim to both these titles will hardly be disputed 

* Gales and Seaton's " Register of Congressional Debates," vol. vi, Part I, p. 93. 
f The words " with another State or with a foreign power " should have been 
added to make this statement accurate. 

\ "Congressional Debates," vol. ix, Part I, p. 563. 


— notwithstanding the verbal criticism on the Constitution just 

The distinction attempted to be drawn between the language 
proper to a confederation and that belonging to a constitution, 
as indicating two different ideas, will not bear the test of ex- 
amination and application to the case of the United States. It 
has been fully shown, in previous chapters, that the terms 
" Union," " Federal Union," " Federal Constitution," " Consti- 
tution of the Federal Government," and the like, were used — 
not merely in colloquial, informal speech, but in public proceed- 
ings and official documents — with reference to the Articles of 
Confederation, as freely as they have since been employed under 
the present Constitution. The former Union was — as Mr. Web- 
ster expressly admits — as nobody denies — a compact between 
States, yet it nowhere " calls itself " " a compact " ; the word does 
not occur in it even the one time that it occurs in the present 
Constitution, although the contracting States are in both prohib- 
ited from entering into any " treaty, confederation, or alliance " 
with one another, or with any foreign power, without the con- 
sent of Congress ; and the contracting or constituent parties are 
termed " United States " in the one just as in the other. 

Mr. Webster is particularly unfortunate in his criticisms 
upon what he terms the " new vocabulary," in which the Con- 
stitution is styled a compact, and the States which ratified it are 
spoken of as having " acceded " to it. In the same speech, last 
quoted, he says : 

" This word * accede,' not found either in the Constitution it- 
self or in the ratification of it by any one of the States, has been 
chosen for use here, doubtless not without a well-considered pur- 
pose. The natural converse of accession is secession ; and therefore, 
when it is stated that the people of the States acceded to the Union, 
it may be more plausibly argued that they may secede from it. If, 
in adopting the Constitution, nothing was done but acceding to a 
compact, nothing would seem necessary, in order to break it up, 
but to secede from the same compact. But the term is wholly out 
of place. Accession, as a word applied to political associations, 
implies coming into a league, treaty, or confederacy, by one hith- 
erto a stranger to it ; and secession implies departing from such 


league or confederacy. The people of the United States have used 
no such form of expression in establishing the present Govern- 
ment." * 

Repeating and reiterating in many forms what is substan- 
tially the same idea, and attributing the use of the terms which 
he attacks to an ulterior purpose, Mr. Webster says : 

" This is the reason, sir, which makes it necessary to abandon 
the use of constitutional language for a new vocabulary, and to 
substitute, in the place of plain, historical facts, a series of as- 
sumptions. This is the reason why it is necessary to give new 
names to things ; to speak of the Constitution, not as a constitu- 
tion, but as a compact ; and of the ratifications by the people, not 
as ratifications, but as acts of accession." f 

In these and similar passages, Mr. Webster virtually con- 
cedes that, if the Constitution were a compact ; if the Union 
were a confederacy ; if the States had, as States, severally ac- 
ceded to it — all which propositions he denies — then the sov- 
ereignty of the States and their right to secede from the Union 
would be deducible. 

Now, it happens that these very terms — " compact," " con- 
federacy," " accede," and the like — were the terms in familiar use 
by the authors of the Constitution and their associates with ref- 
erence to that instrument and its ratification. Other writers, 
who have examined the subject since the late war gave it an in- 
terest which it had never commanded before, have collected 
such an array of evidence in this behalf that it is necessary only 
to cite a few examples. 

The following language of Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, in 
the Convention of 1787, has already been referred to : " If nine 
out of thirteen States can dissolve the compact, six out of nine 
will be just as able to dissolve the new one hereafter." 

Mr. Gouverneur Morris, one of the most pronounced advocates 
of a strong central government, in the Convention, said : " He 
came here to form a compact for the good of Americans. He 
was ready to do so with all the States. He hoped and believed 

* " Congressional Debates," vol. ix, Part I, p. 556. f Ibid., pp. 557, 558. 


they all would enter into such a compact. If they would not, he 
would be ready to join with any States that would. But, as the 
com/pact was to be voluntary, it is in vain for the Eastern States 
to insist on what the Southern States will never agree to." * 

Mr. Madison, while inclining to a strong government, said : 
" In the case of a union of people under one Constitution, the 
nature of the pact has always been understood," etc.f 

Mr. Hamilton, in the " Federalist," repeatedly speaks of the 
new government as a "confederate republic'''' and a "confed- 
eracy" and calls the Constitution a " compact." (See especially 
Nos. IX. and LXXXY.) 

General Washington — who was not only the first President 
under the new Constitution, but who had presided over the Con- 
vention that drew it up — in letters written soon after the ad- 
journment of that body to friends in various States, referred to 
the Constitution as a compact or treaty, and repeatedly uses the 
terms " accede" and " accession," and once the term " secession." 

He asks what the opponents of the Constitution in Virginia 
would do, " if nine other States should accede to the Constitu- 

Luther Martin, of Maryland, informs us that, in a committee 
of the General Convention of 1787, protesting against the pro- 
posed violation of the principles of the " perpetual union " al- 
ready formed under the Articles of Confederation, he made use 
of such language as this : 

" Will you tell us we ought to trust you because you now enter 
into a solemn compact with us ? This you have done before, and 
now treat with the utmost contempt. Will you now make an ap- 
peal to the Supreme Being, and call on Him to guarantee your ob- 
servance of this compact f The same you have formerly done for 
your observance of the Articles of Confederation, which you are 
now violating in the most wanton manner." \ 

It is needless to multiply the proofs that abound in the 
writings of the " fathers " to show that Mr. Webster's " new vo- 

* "Madison Papers," pp. 1081, 1082. f Ibid., p. 1184. 

\ Luther Martin's "Genuine Information," in Wilbur Curtiss's "Secret Proceed- 
ings and Debates of the Convention," p. 29. 


cabulary " was the very language they familiarly used. Let 
two more examples suffice, from authority higher than that of 
any individual speaker or writer, however eminent — from au- 
thority second only, if at all inferior, to that of the text of the 
Constitution itself — that is, from the acts or ordinances of rati- 
fication by the States. They certainly ought to have been con- 
clusive, and should not have been unknown to Mr. Webster, for 
they are the language of Massachusetts, the State which he rep- 
resented in the Senate, and of New Hampshire, the State of his 

The ratification of Massachusetts is expressed in the follow- 
ing terms : 


"The Convention, having impartially discussed and fully con- 
sidered a Constitution for the United States of America, reported 
to Congress by the convention of delegates from the United States 
of America, and submitted to us by a resolution of the General 
Court of the said Commonwealth, passed the 25th day of October 
last past, and acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of 
the Supreme Ruler of the universe, in affording the people of the 
United States, in the course of his Providence, an opportunity, 
deliberately and peaceably, without fraud or surprise, of entering 
into an explicit and solemn COMPACT with each other, hj assent- 
ing to and ratifying a new Constitution, in order to form a more 
perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, pro- 
vide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and se- 
cure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity — do, 
in the name and in behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, assent to and ratify the said Constitution for the 
United States of America." 

The ratification of New Hampshire is expressed in precisely 
the same words, save only the difference of date of the resolu- 
tion of the Legislature (or " General Court ") referred to, and 
also the use of the word "State" instead of "Commonwealth." 
Both distinctly accept it as a compact of the States " with each 
other" — which Mr. Webster, a son of New Hampshire and a 
Senator from Massachusetts, declared it was not ; and not only 


so, but lie repudiated the very " vocabulary " from which the 
words expressing the doctrine were taken. 

It would not need, however, this abounding wealth of con- 
temporaneous exposition — it does not require the employment 
of any particular words in the Constitution — to prove that it 
was drawn up as a compact between sovereign States entering 
into a confederacy with each other, and that they ratified and 
acceded to it separately, severally, and independently. The 
very structure of the whole instrument and the facts attending 
its preparation and ratification would suffice. The language of 
the final article would have been quite enough : " The ratifica- 
tion of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the 
establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratify- 
ing the same." This is not the " language " of a superior im- 
posing a mandate upon subordinates. The consent of the con- 
tracting parties is necessary to its validity, and then it becomes 
not the acceptance and recognition of an authority " over " them 
— as Mr. Motley represents — but of a compact between them. 
The simple word " between " is incompatible with any other 
idea than that of a compact by independent parties. 

If it were possible that any doubt could still exist, there is 
one provision in the Constitution which stamps its character as 
a compact too plainly for cavil or question. The Constitution, 
which had already provided for the representation of the States 
in both Houses of Congress, thereby bringing the matter of 
representation within the power of amendment, in its fifth ar- 
ticle contains a stipulation that u no State, without its [own] 
consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." 
If this is not a compact between the States, the smaller States 
have no guarantee for the preservation of their equality of rep- 
resentation in the United States Senate. If the obligation of a 
contract does not secure it, the guarantee itself is liable to 
amendment, and may be swept away at the will of three fourths 
of the States, without wrong to any party — for, according to this 
theory, there is no party of the second part. 




" The term c sovereign ' or ' sovereignty/ " says Judge Story, 
" is used in different senses, which often leads to a confusion of 
ideas, and sometimes to very mischievous and unfounded con- 
clusions." Without any disrespect for Judge Story, or any dis- 
paragement of his great learning and ability, it may safely be 
added that he and his disciples have contributed not a little to 
the increase of this confusion of ideas and the spread of these 
mischievous and unfounded conclusions. There is no good rea- 
son whatever why it should be used in different senses, or why 
there should be any confusion of ideas as to its meaning. Of all 
the terms employed in political science, it is one of the most 
definite and intelligible. The definition of it given by that 
accurate and lucid publicist, Burlamaqui, is simple and satisfac- 
tory — that " sovereignty is a right of commanding in the last 
resort in civil society." * The original seat of this sovereignty 
he also declares to be in the people. " But," he adds, " when 
once the people have transferred their right to a sovereign [i. e., 
a monarch], they can not, without contradiction, be supposed to 
continue still masters of it." f This is in strict accord with the 
theory of American republicanism, the peculiarity of which is 
that the people never do transfer their right of sovereignty, 
either in whole or in part. They only delegate to their govern- 
ments the exercise of such of its functions as may be necessary, 
subject always to their own control, and to reassumption when- 
ever such government fails to fulfill the purposes for which it 
was instituted. 

I think it has already been demonstrated that, in this coun- 
try, the only political community — the only independent corpo- 
rate unit — through which the people can exercise their sover- 
eignty, is the State. Minor communities — as those of coun- 
ties, cities, and towns — are merely fractional subdivisions of the 

* " Principes du Droit Politique," chap, v, section 1 ; also, chap, vii, section 1. 
f Ibid., chap, vii, section 12. 


State; and these do not affect the evidence that there was 
not such a political community as the " people of the United 
States in the aggregate." 

That the States were severally sovereign and independent 
when they were united under the Articles of Confederation, is 
distinctly asserted in those articles, and is admitted even by 
the extreme partisans of consolidation. Of right, they are still 
sovereign, unless they have surrendered or been divested of 
their sovereignty; and those who deny the proposition have 
been vainly called upon to point out the process by which they 
have divested themselves, or have been divested of it, otherwise 
than by usurpation. 

Since Webster spoke and Story wrote upon the subject, 
however, the sovereignty of the States has been vehemently 
denied, or explained away as only a partial, imperfect, muti- 
lated sovereignty. Paradoxical theories of " divided sovereign- 
ty" and "delegated sovereignty" have arisen, to create that 
" confusion of ideas " and engender those " mischievous and 
unfounded conclusions," of which Judge Story speaks. Con- 
founding the sovereign authority of the people with the dele- 
gated powers conferred by them upon their governments, we 
hear of a Government of the United States " sovereign within 
its sphere," and of State governments " sovereign in their 
sphere " ; of the surrender by the States of part of their sov- 
ereignty to the United States, and the like. Now, if there be 
any one great principle pervading the Federal Constitution, the 
State Constitutions, the writings of the fathers, the whole 
American system, as clearly as the sunlight pervades the solar 
system, it is that no government is sovereign — that all govern- 
ments derive their powers from the people, and exercise them 
in subjection to the will of the people — not a will expressed in 
any irregular, lawless, tumultuary manner, but the will of the 
organized political community, expressed through authorized 
and legitimate channels. The founders of the American repub- 
lics never conferred, nor intended to confer, sovereignty upon 
either their State or Federal Governments. 

If, then, the people of the States, in forming a Federal 
Union, surrendered — or, to use Burlamaqui's term, transferred — 


or if they meant to surrender or transfer — -part of their sov- 
ereignty, to whom was the transfer made ? Not to " the peo- 
ple of the United States in the aggregate " ; for there was no 
such people in existence, and they did not create or constitute 
such a people by merger of themselves. Not to the Federal 
Government ; for they disclaimed, as a fundamental principle, 
the sovereignty of any government. There was no such sur- 
render, no such transfer, in whole or in part, expressed or im- 
plied. They retained, and intended to retain, their sovereignty 
in its integrity — undivided and indivisible. 

" But, indeed," says Mr. Motley, " the words ' sovereign ' 
and ' sovereignty ' are purely inapplicable to the American sys- 
tem. In the Declaration of Independence the provinces declare 
themselves ' free and independent States,' but the men of those 
days knew .that the word ' sovereign ' was a term of feudal ori- 
gin. When their connection with a time-honored feudal mon- 
archy was abruptly severed, the word c sovereign ' had no mean- 
ing for us." * 

If this be true, " the men of those days " had a very extraor- 
dinary way of expressing their conviction that the word " had 
no meaning for us." We have seen that, in the very front of 
their Articles of Confederation, they set forth the conspicuous 
declaration that each State retained " its sovereignty, freedom, 
and independence." 

Massachusetts — the State, I believe, of Mr. Motley's nativity 
and citizenship — in her original Constitution, drawn up by " men 
of those days," made this declaration : 

" The people inhabiting the territory formerly called the Prov- 
ince of Massachusetts Bay do hereby solemnly and mutually agree 
with each other to form themselves into a free, sovereign, and 
independent body politic, or State, by the name of The Common- 
wealth of Massachusetts" 

New Hampshire, in her Constitution, as revised in 1792, had 
identically the same declaration, except as regards the name of 
the State and the word "State" instead of " Commonwealth." 

Mr. Madison, one of the most distinguished of the men of 

* "Rebellion Record," vol. i, Documents, p. 211. 


that day and of the advocates of the Constitution, in a speech 
already once referred to, in the Virginia Convention of 1788, 
explained that " We, the people," who were to establish the 
Constitution, were the people of "thirteen sovereignties."* 

In the " Federalist," he repeatedly employs the term — as, for 
example, when he says : "Do they [the fundamental principles 
of the Confederation] require that, in the establishment of the 
Constitution, the States should be regarded as distinct and inde- 
pendent sovereigns % They are so regarded by the Constitu- 
tion proposed." f 

Alexander Hamilton — another contemporary authority, no 
less illustrious — says, in the " Federalist" : 

" It is inherent in the nature of sovereignty, not to be ame- 
nable to the suit of an individual without its consent. This is the 
general sense and the general practice of mankind ; and the ex- 
emption, as one of the attributes of sovereignty, is now enjoyed 
by the government of every State in the Union." J 

In the same paragraph he uses these terms, " sovereign " and 
" sovereignty," repeatedly — always with reference to the States, 
respectively and severally. 

Benjamin Franklin advocated equality of suffrage in the 
Senate as a means of securing " the sovereignties of the individ- 
ual States." § James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, said sovereign- 
ty " is in the people before they make a Constitution, and re- 
mains in them," and described the people as being " thirteen 
independent sovereignties." [ Gouverneur Morris, who was, as 
well as Wilson, one of the warmest advocates in the Convention 
of a strong central government, spoke of the Constitution as " a 
compact" and of the parties to it as "'each enjoying sovereign 
power." 1" Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, declared that the 
Government " was instituted by a number of sovereign States." ** 

* Elliott's "Debates," vol. iii, p. 114, edition of 1836. 
f " Federalist," No. xl. 
% Ibid, No. lxxxi. 

§ See Elliott's " Debates," vol. v, p. 266. 
| Ibid., vol. ii, p. 443. 

If See "Life of Gouverneur Morris," vol. iii, p. 193. 
** See " Writings of John Adams," vol. vii, letter of Roger Sherman. 


Oliver Ellsworth, of the same State, spoke of the States as " sov- 
ereign bodies." * These were all eminent members of the Con- 
vention which formed the Constitution. 

There was scarcely a statesman of that period who did not 
leave on record expressions of the same sort. But why multi- 
ply citations? It is very evident that the " men of those days " 
entertained very different views of sovereignty from those set 
forth by the " new lights " of our day. Far from considering 
it a term of feudal origin, " purely inapplicable to the American 
system," they seem to have regarded it as a very vital principle 
in that system, and of necessity belonging to the several States 
— and I do not find a single instance in which they applied it to 
any political organization, except the States. 

Their ideas were in entire accord with those of Yattel, who, 
in his chapter " Of Nations or Sovereign States," writes, " Ev- 
ery nation that governs itself, under what form soever, without 
any dependence on foreign power, is a sovereign state." f 

In another part of the same chapter he gives a lucid state- 
ment of the nature of a confederate republic, such as ours was 
designed to be. He says : 

" Several sovereign and independent states may unite them- 
selves together by a perpetual confederacy, without each in par- 
ticular ceasing to be a perfect state. They will form together a 
federal republic : the deliberations in common will offer no vio- 
lence to the sovereignty of each member, though they may, in cer- 
tain respects, put some restraint on the exercise of it, in virtue of 
voluntary engagements. A person does not cease to be free and 
independent, when he is obliged to fulfill the engagements into 
which he has very willingly entered." J 

What this celebrated author means here by a person, is ex- 
plained by a subsequent passage : " The law of nations is the 
law of sovereigns ; states free and independent are moral per- 


* See Elliott's " Debates," vol. ii, p. 197. 

f "Law of Nations," Book I, chap, i, section 4. 

% Ibid., section 10. § Ibid., section 12. 




The same Subject continued. — The Tenth Amendment. — Fallacies exposed. — " Con- 
stitution," " Government," and "People" distinguished from each other.— 
Theories refuted by Facts. — Characteristics of Sovereignty. — Sovereignty iden- 
tified. — Never thrown away. 

If any lingering doubt could have existed as to the reserva- 
tion of their entire sovereignty by the people of the respective 
States, when they organized the Federal Union, it would have 
been removed by the adoption of the tenth amendment to the 
Constitution, which was not only one of the amendments pro- 
posed by various States when ratifying that instrument, but the 
particular one in which they substantially agreed, and upon which 
they most urgently insisted. Indeed, it is quite certain that the 
Constitution would never have received the assent and ratifica- 
tion of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Caro- 
lina, and perhaps other States, but for a well-grounded assur- 
ance that the substance of this amendment would be adopted 
as soon as the requisite formalities could be complied with. 
That amendment is in these words : 

" The powers not delegated to the United States by the Con- 
stitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the 
States respectively, or to the people." 

The full meaning of this article may not be as clear to us as 
it was to the men of that period, on account of the confusion 
of ideas by which the term " people " — plain enough to them — 
has since been obscured, and also the ambiguity attendant upon 
the use of the little conjunction or, which has been said to be 
the most equivocal word in our language, and for that reason 
has been excluded from indictments in the English courts. The 
true intent and meaning of the provision, however, may be as- 
certained from an examination and comparison of the terms in 
which it was expressed by the various States which proposed it, 
and whose ideas it was intended to embody. 

Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in their ordinances of 


ratification, expressing the opinion "that certain amendments 
and alterations in the said Constitution would remove the fears 
and quiet the apprehensions of many of the good people of 
this Commonwealth [State (New Hampshire)], and more effect- 
ually guard against an undue administration of the Federal 
Government," each recommended several such amendments, 
putting this at the head in the following form : 

" That it be explicitly declared that all powers not expressly 
delegated by the aforesaid Constitution are reserved to the several 
States, to be by them exercised." 

Of course, those stanch republican communities meant the 
people of the States — not their governments, as something dis- 
tinct from their people. 

New York expressed herself as follows : 

" That the powers of government may be reassumed by the 
people whenever it shall become necessary to their happiness ; 
that every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by the said 
Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United 
States, or the departments of the Government thereof, remains to 
the people of the several States, or to their respective State govern- 
ments, to whom they may have granted the same / and that those 
clauses in the said Constitution, which declare that Congress shall 
not have or exercise certain powers, do not imply that Congress is 
entitled to any powers not given by the said Constitution ; but 
such clauses are to be construed either as exceptions to certain 
specified powers or as inserted merely for greater caution." 

South Carolina expressed the idea thus : 

" This Convention doth also declare that no section or para- 
graph of the said Constitution warrants a construction that the 
States do not retain every power not expressly relinquished by 
them and vested in the General Government of the Union." 

North Carolina proposed it in these terms : 

" Each State in the Union shall respectively retain every power, 
jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Constitution delegated 
to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of the 
General Government." 


Rhode Island gave in her long-withheld assent to the Con- 
stitution, " in full confidence " that certain proposed amend- 
ments would be adopted, the first of which was expressed in 
these words : 

" That Congress shall guarantee to each State its sovereignty, 
freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and 
right, which is not by this Constitution expressly delegated to the 
United States." 

This was in May, 1790, when nearly three years had been 
given to discussion and explanation of the new Government by 
its founders and others, when it had been in actual operation 
for more than a year, and when there was every advantage for 
a clear understanding of its nature and principles. Under such 
circumstances, and in the " full confidence " that this language 
expressed its meaning and intent, the people of Rhode Island 
signified their " accession " to the " Confederate Republic " of 
the States already united. 

ISTo objection was made from any quarter to the principle 
asserted in these various forms ; or to the amendment in which 
it was finally expressed, although many thought it unnecessary, 
as being merely declaratory of what would have been sufficiently 
obvious without it — that the functions of the Government of 
the United States were strictly limited to the exercise of such 
powers as were expressly delegated, and that the people of the 
several States retained all others. 

Is it compatible with reason to suppose that people so chary 
of the delegation of specific powers or functions could have 
meant to surrender or transfer the very basis and origin of all 
power — their inherent sovereignty — and this, not by express 
grant, but by implication ? 

Mr. Everett, following, whether consciously or not, in the 
line of Mr. Webster's ill-considered objection to the 'term " com- 
pact," takes exception to the sovereignty of the States on 
the ground that " the word i sovereignty ' does not occur " in 
the Constitution. lie admits that the States were sovereign 
under the Articles of Confederation. How could they relin- 
quish or be deprived of their sovereignty without even a men- 


tion of it — when the tenth amendment confronts us with the 
declaration that nothing was surrendered by implication — that 
everything was reserved unless expressly delegated to the United 
States or prohibited to the States ? Here is an attribute which 
they certainly possessed — which nobody denies, or can deny, 
that they did possess — and of which Mr. Everett says no men- 
tion is made in the Constitution. In what conceivable way, 
then, was it lost or alienated ? 

Much has been said of the " prohibition " of the exercise by 
the States of certain functions of sovereignty ; such as, making 
treaties, declaring war, coining money, etc. This is only a part 
of the general compact, by which the contracting parties cove- 
nant, one with another, to abstain from the separate exercise 
of certain powers, which they agree to intrust to the manage- 
ment and control of the union or general agency of the parties 
associated. It is not a prohibition imposed upon them from 
without, or from above, by any external or superior power, but 
is self-imposed by their free consent. The case is strictly analo- 
gous to that of individuals forming a mercantile or manufac- 
turing copartnership, who voluntarily agree to refrain, as indi- 
viduals, from engaging in other pursuits or speculations, from 
lending their individual credit, or from the exercise of any 
other right of a citizen, which they may think proper to subject 
to the consent, or intrust to the management of the firm. 

The prohibitory clauses of the Constitution referred to are not 
at all a denial of the full sovereignty of the States, but are merely 
an agreement among them to exercise certain powers of sover- 
eignty in concert, and not separately and apart. 

There is one other provision of the Constitution, which is 
generally adduced by the friends of centralism as antagonistic 
to State sovereignty. This is found in the second clause of 
the sixth article, as follows : 

" 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." 


Tins enunciation of a principle, which, even if it had not 
been expressly declared, would have been a necessary deduction 
from the acceptance of the Constitution itself, has been magnified 
and perverted into a meaning and purpose entirely foreign to 
that which plain interpretation is sufficient to discern. Mr. 
Motley thus dilates on the subject : 

" Could language be more imperial ? Could the claim to State 
* sovereignty ' be more completely disposed of at a word ? How 
can that be sovereign, acknowledging no superior, supreme, which 
has voluntarily accepted a supreme law from something which it 
acknowledges as superior ? " * 

The mistake which Mr. Motley — like other writers of the 
same school — makes is one which is disposed of by a very sim- 
ple correction. The States, which ordained and established the 
Constitution, accepted nothing besides what they themselves 
prescribed. They acknowledged no superior. The supremacy 
was both in degree and extent only that which was delegated 
by the States to their common agent. 

There are some other considerations which may conduce to 
a clearer understanding of this supremacy of the Constitution 
and the laws made in pursuance thereof : 

1. In the first place, it must be remembered that, when the 
Federal Constitution was formed, each then existing State al- 
ready had its own Constitution and code of statute laws. It 
was, no doubt, primarily with reference to these that the pro- 
vision was inserted, and not in the expectation of future con- 
flicts or discrepancies. It is in this light alone that Mr. Madi- 
son considers it in explaining and vindicating it in the " Fed- 
eralist." f 

2. Again, it is to be observed that the supremacy accorded 
to the 'general laws of the United States is expressly limited to 
those enacted in conformity with the Constitution, or, to use the 
exact language, " made in pursuance thereof." Mr. Hamilton, 
in another chapter of the " Federalist," calls particular attention 
to this, saying (and the italics are all his own) " that the laws 
of the Confederacy, as to the enumerated and legitimate objects 

* " Rebellion Record," vol. i, Documents, p. 213. f "Federalist," No. xliv. 


of its jurisdiction, will become the supreme law of the land," 
and that the State functionaries will cooperate in their ob- 
servance and enforcement with the General Government, "as 
far as its just and constitutional authority extends" * 

3. In the third place, it is not the Government of the 
United States that is declared to be supreme, but the Constitu- 
tion and the laws and treaties made in accordance with it. The 
proposition was made in the Convention to organize a govern- 
ment consisting of " supreme legislative, executive, and judicial 
powers," but it was not adopted. Its deliberate rejection is much 
more significant and conclusive than if it had never been pro- 
posed. Correction of so gross an error as that of confounding 
the Government with the Constitution ought to be superfluous, 
but so crude and confused are the ideas which have been propa- 
gated on the subject, that no misconception seems to be too ab- 
surd to be possible. Thus, it has not been uncommon, of late 
years, to hear, even in the highest places, the oath to support the 
Constitution, which is taken by both State and Federal officers, 
spoken of as an oath a to support the Government"' — an obli- 
gation never imposed upon any one in this country, and which 
the men who made the Constitution, with their recent reminis- 
cences of the Eevolution, the battles of which they had fought 
with halters around their necks, would have been the last to 
prescribe. Could any assertion be less credible than that they 
proceeded to institute another supreme government which it 
would be treason to resist ? 

This confusion of ideas pervades the treatment of the whole 
subject of sovereignty. Mr. Webster has said, and very justly 
so far as these United States are concerned : " The sovereignty 
of government is an idea belonging to the other side of the 
Atlantic. No such thing is known in North America. Our 
governments are all limited. In Europe sovereignty is of feu- 
dal origin, and imports no more than the state of the sovereign. 
It comprises his rights, duties, exemptions, prerogatives, and 
powers. But with us all power is with the people. They alone 
are sovereign, and they erect what governments they please, 
and confer on them such powers as they please. None of these 

* "Federalist," No. xxvii. 


governments are sovereign, in the European sense of the word, 
all being restrained by written constitutions." * 

But the same intellect, which can so clearly discern and so 
lucidly define the general proposition, seems to be covered by 
a cloud of thick darkness when it comes to apply it to the par- 
ticular case in issue. Thus, a little afterward, we have the fol- 
lowing : 

" There is no language in the whole Constitution applicable to 
a confederation of States. If the States be parties, as States, 
what are their rights, and what their respective covenants and 
stipulations ? and where are their rights, covenants, and stipula- 
tions expressed ? In the Articles of Confederation they did make 
promises, and did enter into engagements, and did plight the faith 
of each State for their fulfillment ; but in the Constitution there is 
nothing of that kind. The reason is that, in the Constitution, it is 
the people who speak and not the States. The people ordain the 
Constitution, and therein address themselves to the States and to 
the Legislatures of the States in the language of injunction and 
prohibition." f 

It is surprising that such inconsistent ideas should proceed 
from a source so eminent. Its author falls into the very error 
which he had just before so distinctly pointed out, in confound- 
ing the people of the States with their governments. In the 
vehemence of his hostility to State sovereignty, he seems — as all 
of his disciples seem — unable even to comprehend that it means 
the sovereignty, not of State governments, but of people who 
make them. With minds preoccupied by the unreal idea of 
one great people of a consolidated nation, these gentlemen are 
blinded to the plain and primary truth that the only way in 
which the people ordained the Constitution was as the people 
of States. When Mr. Webster says that " in the Constitution 
it is the people who speak, and not the States," he says what is 
untenable. The States are the people. The people do not 
speak, never have spoken, and never can speak, in their sover- 
eign capacity (without a subversion of our whole system), oth- 
erwise than as the people of States. 

* " Congressional Debates," vol. ix, Part I, p. 565. \ Ibid., p. 566. 


There are but two modes of expressing their sovereign will 
known to the people of this country. One is by direct vote — 
the mode adopted by Rhode Island in 1788, when she rejected 
the Constitution. The other is the method, more generally pur- 
sued, of acting by means of conventions of delegates elected 
expressly as representatives of the sovereignty of the people. 
Now, it is not a matter of opinion or theory or speculation, but 
a plain, undeniable, historical fact, that there never has been 
any act or expression of sovereignty in either of these modes 
by that imaginary community, " the people of the United States 
in the aggregate." Usurpations of power by the Government 
of the United States, there may have been, and may be again, 
but there has never been either a sovereign convention or a 
direct vote of the " whole people " of the United States to de- 
monstrate its existence as a corporate unit. Every exercise of 
sovereignty by any of the people of this country that has ac- 
tually taken place has been by the people of States as States. 
In the face of this fact, is it not the merest self -stultification to 
admit the sovereignty of the people and deny it to the States, in 
which alone they have community existence ? 

This subject is one of such vital importance to a right un- 
derstanding of the events which this work is designed to record 
and explain, that it can not be dismissed without an effort in 
the way of recapitulation and conclusion, to make it clear be- 
yond the possibility of misconception. 

According to the American theory, every individual is en- 
dowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are " life, 
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." He is entitled to all 
the freedom, in these and in other respects, that is consistent 
with the safety and the rights of others and the weal of the 
community, but political sovereignty, which is the source and 
origin of all the powers of government — legislative, executive, 
and judicial — belongs to, and inheres in, the people of an 
organized political community. It is an attribute of the whole 
people of such a community. It includes the power and necessa- 
rily the duty of protecting the rights and redressing the wrongs 
of individuals, of punishing crimes, enforcing contracts, pre- 
scribing rules for the transfer of property and the succession 


of estates, making treaties with foreign powers, levying taxes, 
etc. The enumeration of particulars might be extended, but 
these will suffice as illustrations. 

These powers are of course exercised through the agency of 
governments, but the governments are only agents of the sov- 
ereign — responsible to it, and subject to its control. This sov- 
ereign — the people, in the aggregate, of each political commu- 
nity — delegates to the government the exercise of such powers, 
or functions, as it thinks proper, but in an American republic 
never transfers or surrenders sovereignty. That remains, un- 
alienated and unimpaired. It is by virtue of this sovereignty 
alone that the Government, its authorized agent, commands 
the obedience of the individual citizen, to the extent of its de- 
rivative, dependent, and delegated authority. The allegiance 
of the citizen is due to the sovereign alone. 

Thus far, I think, all will agree. No American statesman 
or publicist would venture to dispute it. Notwithstanding 
the inconsiderate or ill-considered expressions thrown out by 
some persons about the unity of the American people from the 
beginning, no respectable authority has ever had the hardihood 
to deny that, before the adoption of the Federal Constitution, 
the only sovereign political community was the people of the 
State — the people of each State. The ordinary exercise of 
what are generally termed the powers of sovereignty was by and 
through their respective governments ; and, when they formed 
a confederation, a portion of those powers was intrusted to the 
General Government, or agency. Under the Confederation, the 
Congress of the United States represented the collective power 
of the States ; but the people of each State alone possessed sov- 
ereignty, and consequently were entitled to the allegiance of the 

"When the Articles of Confederation were amended, when 
the new Constitution was substituted in their place and the 
General Government reorganized, its structure was changed, 
additional powers were conferred upon it, and thereby subtracted 
from the powers theretofore exercised by the State govern- 
ments ; but the seat of sovereignty — the source of all those dele- 
gated and dependent powers — was not disturbed. There was 


a new Government or an amended Government — it is entirely 
immaterial in which of these lights we consider it — but no new 
people was created or constituted. The people, in whom 
alone sovereignty inheres, remained just as they had been be- 
fore. The only change was in the form, structure, and relations 
of their governmental agencies. 

JSTo doubt, the States — the people of the States — if they had 
been so disposed, might have merged themselves into one great 
consolidated State, retaining their geographical boundaries 
merely as matters of convenience. But such a merger must 
have been distinctly and formally stated, not left to deduction 
or implication. 

Men do not alienate even an estate, without positive and 
express terms and stipulations. But in this case not only was 
there no express transfer — no formal surrender — of the preex- 
isting sovereignty, but it was expressly provided that nothing 
should be understood as even delegated — that everything was 
reserved, unless granted in express terms. The monstrous con- 
ception of the creation of a new people, invested with the whole 
or a great part of the sovereignty which had previously belonged 
to the people of each State, has not a syllable to sustain it in the 
Constitution, but is built up entirely upon the palpable miscon- 
struction of a single expression in the preamble. 

In denying that there is any such collective unit as the peo- 
ple of the United States in the aggregate, of course I am not to 
be understood as denying that there is such a political organiza- 
tion as the United States, or that there exists, with large and 
distinct powers, a Government of the United States ; but it is 
claimed that the Union, as its name implies, is constituted of 
States. As a British author,* referring to the old Teutonic sys- 
tem, has expressed the same idea, the States are the integers, 
the United States the multiple which results from them. The 
Government of the United States derives its existence from the 
same source, and exercises its functions by the will of the same 
sovereignty that creates and confers authority upon the State 
governments. The people of each State are, in either case, the 

* Sir Francis Palgrave, quoted by Mr. Calhoun, " Congressional Debates," vol. ix, 
Part I, p. 541. 


source. The only difference is that, in the creation of the State 
governments, each sovereign acted alone ; in that of the Fed- 
eral Government, they acted in cooperation with the others. 
Neither the whole nor any part of their sovereignty has been 
surrendered to either Government. 

To whom, in fine, could the States have surrendered their 
sovereignty ? Not to the mass of the people inhabiting the 
territory possessed by all the States, for there was no such 
community in existence, and they took no measures for the 
organization of such a community. If they had intended to 
do so, the very style, " United States," would have been a pal- 
pable misnomer, nor would treason have been defined as levying 
war against them. Could it have been transferred to the Gov- 
ernment of the Union % Clearly not, in accordance with the 
ideas and principles of those who made the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, adopted the Articles of Confederation, and established 
the Constitution of the United States ; for in each and all of 
these the corner-stone is the inherent and inalienable sovereignty 
of the people. To have transferred sovereignty from the peo- 
ple to a Government would have been to have fought the bat- 
tles of the Revolution in vain — not for the freedom and inde- 
pendence of the States, but for a mere change of masters. Such 
a thought or purpose could not have been in the heads or hearts 
of those who molded the Union, and could have found lodgment 
only when the ebbing tide of patriotism and fraternity had swept 
away the landmarks which they erected who sought by the 
compact of union to secure and perpetuate the liberties then 
possessed. The men who had won at great cost the indepen- 
dence of their respective States were deeply impressed with 
the value of union, but they could never have consented, like 
" the base Judean," to fling away the priceless pearl of State 
sovereignty for any possible alliance. 



A Recapitulation. — Remarkable Propositions of Mr. Gouverneur Morris in the Con- 
vention of 1787, and their Pate. — Further Testimony. — Hamilton, Madison, 
Washington, Marshall, etc. — Later Theories. — Mr. Webster : his Views at 
Various Periods. — Speech at Capon Springs. — State Rights not a Sectional 

Looking back for a moment at the ground over which we 
have gone, I think it may be fairly asserted that the following 
propositions have been clearly and fully established : 

1. That the States of which the American Union was formed, 
from the moment when they emerged from their colonial or pro- 
vincial condition, became severally sovereign, free, and indepen- 
dent States — not one State, or nation. 

2. That the union formed under the Articles of Confed- 
eration was a compact between the States, in which these attri- 
butes of " sovereignty, freedom, and independence," were ex- 
pressly asserted and guaranteed. 

3. That, in forming the " more perfect union " of the Consti- 
tution, afterward adopted, the same contracting powers formed 
an amended compact, without any surrender of these attributes 
of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, either expressed or 
implied : on the contrary, that, by the tenth amendment to the 
Constitution, limiting the power of the Government to its ex- 
press grants, they distinctly guarded against the presumption of 
a surrender of anything by implication. 

4. That political sovereignty resides, neither in individual 
citizens, nor in unorganized masses, nor in fractional subdivisions 
of a community, but in the people of an organized political body. 

5. That no " republican form of government," in the sense 
in which that expression is used in the Constitution, and was 
generally understood by the founders of the Union — whether it 
be the government of a State or of a confederation of States — 
is possessed of any sovereignty whatever, but merely exercises 
certain powers delegated by the sovereign authority of the peo- 
ple, and subject to recall and reassumption by the same author- 
ity that conferred them. 


6. That the " people " who organized the first confederation, 
the people who dissolved it, the people who ordained and es- 
tablished the Constitution which succeeded it, the only people, 
in fine, known or referred to in the phraseology of that period 
— whether the term was used collectively or distributively — 
were the people of the respective States, each acting separately 
and with absolute independence of the others. 

7. That, in forming and adopting the Constitution, the States, 
or the people of the States — terms which, when used with ref- 
erence to acts performed in a sovereign capacity, are precisely 
equivalent to each other — formed a new Government, but no 
new people / and that, consequently, no new sovereignty was 
created — for sovereignty in an American republic can belong 
only to a people, never to a government — and that the Federal 
Government is entitled to exercise only the powers delegated to 
it by the people of the respective States. 

8. That the term " people," in the preamble to the Consti- 
tution and in the tenth amendment, is used distributively; 
that the only " people of the United States" known to the Con- 
stitution are the people of each State in the Union ; that no 
such political community or corporate unit as one people of 
the United States then existed, has ever been organized, or yet 
exists ; and that no political action by the people of the United 
States in the aggregate has ever taken place, or ever can take 
place, under the Constitution. 

The fictitious idea of one people of the United States, con- 
tradicted in the last paragraph, has been so impressed upon the 
popular mind by false teaching, by careless and vicious phrase- 
ology, and by the ever-present spectacle of a great Government, 
with its army and navy, its custom-houses and post-offices, its 
multitude of office-holders, and the splendid prizes which it 
offers to political ambition, that the tearing away of these illu- 
sions and presentation of the original fabric, which they have 
overgrown and hidden from view, have no doubt been unwel- 
come, distasteful, and even repellent to some of my readers. 
The artificial splendor which makes the deception attractive is 
even employed as an argument to prove its reality. 

The glitter of the powers delegated to the agent serves to 


obscure the perception of the sovereign power of the principal 
by whom they are conferred, as, by the unpracticed eye, the 
showy costume and conspicuous functions of the drum-major 
are mistaken for emblems of chieftaincy — while the misuse or 
ambiguous use of the term " Union " and its congeners con- 
tributes to increase the confusion. 

So much the more need for insisting upon the elementary 
truths which have been obscured by these specious sophistries. 
The reader really desirous of ascertaining truth is, therefore, 
again cautioned against confounding two ideas so essentially 
distinct as that of government, which is derivative, dependent, 
and subordinate, with that of the people, as an organized politi- 
cal community, which is sovereign, without any other than self- 
imposed limitations, and such as proceed from the general prin- 
ciples of the personal rights of man. 

It has been said, in a foregoing chapter, that the authors 
of the Constitution could scarcely have anticipated the idea of 
such a community as the people of the United States in one 
mass. Perhaps this expression needs some little qualification, 
for there is rarely a fallacy, however stupendous, that is wholly 
original. A careful examination of the records of the Conven- 
tion of 1787 exhibits one or perhaps two instances of such a 
suggestion — both by the same person — and the result in each 
case is strikingly significant. 

The original proposition made concerning the office of Presi- 
dent of the United States contemplated his election by the Con- 
gress, or, as it was termed by the proposer, " the national Legis- 
lature." On the 17th of July, this proposition being under 
consideration, Mr. Gouverneur Morris moved that the words 
" national Legislature " be stricken out, and " citizens of the 
United States" inserted. The proposition was supported by 
Mr. James Wilson — both of these gentlemen being delegates 
from Pennsylvania, and both among the most earnest advocates 
of centralism in the Convention. 

JSTow, it is not at all certain that Mr. Morris had in view an 
election by the citizens of the United States " in the aggregate," 
voting as one people. The language of his proposition is entirely 
consistent with the idea of an election by the citizens of each 


State, voting separately and independently, though it is ambigu- 
ous, and may admit of the other construction. But this is im- 
material. The proposition was submitted to a vote, and received 
the approval of only one State — Pennsylvania, of which Mr. 
Morris and Mr. Wilson were both representatives. Nine States 
voted against it.* 

Six days afterward (July 23d), in a discussion of the pro- 
posed ratification of the Constitution by Conventions of the 
people of each State, Mr. Gouverneur Morris — as we learn from 
Mr. Madison — " moved that the reference of the plan [i. e., of 
the proposed Constitution] be made to one General Convention, 
chosen and authorized by the people, to consider, amend, and 
establish the same."f 

Here the issue seems to have been more distinctly made be- 
tween the two ideas of people of the States and one people in 
the aggregate. The fate of the latter is briefly recorded in the 
two words, "not seconded." Mr. Morris was a man of distin- 
guished ability, great personal influence, and undoubted patriot- 
ism, but, out of all that assemblage — comprising, as it did, such 
admitted friends of centralism as Hamilton, King, Wilson, Ran- 
dolph, Pinckney, and others — there was not one to sustain him 
in the proposition to incorporate into the Constitution that 
theory which now predominates, the theory on which was 
waged the late bloody war, which was called a " war for the 
Union." It failed for want of a second, and does not even ap- 
pear in the official journal of the Convention. The very fact 
that such a suggestion was made would be unknown to us but 
for the record kept by Mr. Madison. 

The extracts which have been given, in treating of special 
branches of the subject, from the writings and speeches of the 
framers of the Constitution and other statesmen of that period, 
afford ample proof of their entire and almost unanimous accord 
with the principles which have been established on the author- 
ity of the Constitution itself, the acts of ratification by the sev- 
eral States, and other attestations of the highest authority and 
validity. I am well aware that isolated expressions may be 

* Elliott's "Debates," vol. i, p. 239 ; "Madison Papers," pp. 1119-1124. 
f "Madison Papers," p. 1184. 


found in the reports of debates on the General and State Con- 
ventions and other public bodies, indicating the existence of 
individual opinions seemingly inconsistent with these principles ; 
that loose and confused ideas were sometimes expressed with 
regard to sovereignty, the relations between governments and 
people, and kindred subjects; and that, while the plan of the 
Constitution was under discussion, and before it was definitely 
reduced to its present shape, there were earnest advocates in the 
Convention of a more consolidated system, with a stronger cen- 
tral government. But these expressions of individual opinion 
only prove the existence of a small minority of dissentients from 
the principles generally entertained, and which finally prevailed 
in the formation of the Constitution. None of these ever 
avowed such extravagances of doctrine as are promulgated in 
this generation. No statesman of that day would have ven- 
tured to risk his reputation by construing an obligation to sup- 
port the Constitution as an obligation to adhere to the Federal 
Government — a construction which would have insured the 
sweeping away of any plan of union embodying it, by a tem- 
pest of popular indignation from every quarter of the country. 
None of them suggested such an idea as that of the amalgama- 
tion of the people of the States into one consolidated mass — 
unless it was suggested by Mr. Gouverneur Morris in the prop- 
osition above referred to, in which he stood alone among the 
delegates of twelve sovereign States assembled in convention. 

As to the features of centralism, or nationalism, which they 
did advocate, all the ability of this little minority of really gifted 
men failed to secure the incorporation of any one of them into 
the Constitution, or to obtain their recognition by any of the 
ratifying States. On the contrary, the very men who had been 
the leading advocates of such theories, on failing to secure their 
adoption, loyally accepted the result, and became the ablest and 
most efficient supporters of the principles which had prevailed. 
Thus, Mr. Hamilton, who had favored the plan of a Presi- 
dent and Senate, both elected to hold office for life (or during 
good behavior), with a veto power in Congress on the action of 
the State Legislatures, became, through the " Federalist," in con- 
junction with his associates, Mr. Madison and Mr. Jay, the most 


distinguished expounder and advocate of the Constitution, as 
then proposed and afterward ratified, with all its Federal and 
State-rights features. In the ninth number of that remarkable 
series of political essays, he quotes, adopts, and applies to the 
then proposed Constitution, Montesquieu's description of a 
"confederate republic," a term which he (Hamilton) re- 
peatedly employs. 

In the eighty-first number of the same series, replying to 
apprehensions expressed by some that a State might be brought 
before the Federal courts to answer as defendant in suits insti- 
tuted against her, he repels the idea in these plain and conclu- 
sive terms. The italics are my own : 

" It is inherent in the nature of sovereignty not to be amena- 
ble to the suit of any individual without its consent. This is the 
general sense and the general practice of mankind ; and the ex- 
emption, as one of the attributes of sovereignty , is now enjoyed by 
the government of every State in the Union. Unless, therefore, 
there is a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the Conven- 
tion, it will remain with the States, and the danger intimated 
must be merely ideal. . . . The contracts between a nation and 
individuals are only binding on the conscience of the sovereign, 
and have no pretensions to a compulsive force. They confer no 
right of action, independent of the sovereign will. To what pur- 
pose would it be to authorize suits against States for the debts 
they owe ? How could recoveries be enforced ? It is evident that 
it could not be done without waging war against the contracting 
State ; and to ascribe to the Federal courts, by mere implication, 
and in destruction of a preexisting right of the State governments, 
a power which would involve such a consequence, would be alto- 
gether forced and unwarranted." * 

This extract is very significant, clearly showing that Mr. 
Hamilton assumed as undisputed propositions, in the first place, 
that the State was the "sovereign"; secondly, that this sov- 
ereignty could not be alienated, unless by express surrender ; 
thirdly, that no such surrender had been made ; and, fourthly, 
that the idea of applying coercion to a State, even to enforce 

* " Federalist," No. lsxxL 


the fulfillment of a duty, would be equivalent to waging war 
against a State — it was " altogether forced and unwarrantable." 

In a subsequent number, Mr. Hamilton, replying to the 
objection that the Constitution contains no bill or declaration of 
rights, argues that it was entirely unnecessary, because in reality 
the people — that is, of course, the people, respectively, of the 
several States, who were the only people known to the Consti- 
tution or to the country — had surrendered nothing of their inher- 
ent sovereignty, but retained it unimpaired. He says : " Here, 
in strictness, the people surrender nothing / and, as they retain 
everything, they have no need of particular reservations." And 
again : " I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense 
and to the extent they are contended for, are not only unneces- 
sary in the proposed Constitution, but would be absolutely dan- 
gerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not 
granted, and on this very account would afford a colorable pre- 
text to claim more than were granted. For why declare that 
things shall not be done, which there is no power to do ? " * 
Could language be more clear or more complete in vindication 
of the principles laid down in this work ? Mr. Hamilton de- 
clares, in effect, that the grants to the Federal Government 
in the Constitution are not surrenders, but delegations of power 
by the people of the States ; that sovereignty remains intact 
where it was before ; and that the delegations of power were 
strictly limited to those expressly granted — in this, merely antici- 
pating the tenth amendment, afterward adopted. 

Finally, in the concluding article of the " Federalist," he bears 
emphatic testimony to the same principles, in the remark that 
" every Constitution for the United States must inevitably con- 
sist of a great variety of particulars, in which thirteen indepen- 
dent States are to be accommodated in their interests or opin- 
ions of interest. . . . Hence the necessity of molding and 
arranging all the particulars, which are to compose the whole, 
in such a manner as to satisfy all the parties to the compact." f 
There is no intimation here, or anywhere else, of the existence 
of any such idea as that of the aggregated people of one great 
consolidated state. It is an incidental enunciation of the same 

* a 

Federalist," No. lxxxiv. f Ibid., No. lxxxv. 


truth soon afterward asserted by Madison in the Virginia Con- 
vention — that the people who ordained and established the Con- 
stitution were "hot the people as composing one great body, 
but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties." 

Mr. Madison, in the Philadelphia Convention, had at first 
held views of the sort of government which it was desirable to 
organize, similar to those of Mr. Hamilton, though more mod- 
erate in extent. He, too, however, cordially conformed to the 
modifications in them made by his colleagues, and was no less 
zealous and eminent in defending and expounding the Constitu- 
tion as finally adopted. His interpretation of its fundamental 
principles is so fully shown in the extracts which have already 
been given from his contributions to the "Federalist" and 
speeches in the Virginia Convention, that it would be superflu- 
ous to make any additional citation from them. 

The evidence of Hamilton and Madison — two of the most 
eminent of the authors of the Constitution, and the two pre- 
eminent contemporary expounders of its meaning — is the most 
valuable that could be offered for its interpretation. That of 
all the other statesmen of the period only tends to confirm the 
same conclusions. The illustrious Washington, who presided 
over the Philadelphia Convention, in his correspondence, re- 
peatedly refers to the proposed Union as a " Confederacy " of 
States, or a "confederated Government," and to the several 
States as " acceding," or signifying their " accession," to it, in 
ratifying the Constitution. He refers to the Constitution itself 
as " a compact or treaty," and classifies it among compacts or 
treaties between " men, bodies of men, or countries." Writing 
to Count Pochambeau, on January 8, 1788, he says that the 
proposed Constitution " is to be submitted to conventions chosen 
by the jpeojple in the several States, and by them approved or 
rejected" — showing what he understood by " the people of the 
United States," who were to ordain and establish it. These 
same people — that is, " the people of the several States " — he 
says, in a letter to Lafayette, April 28, 1788, " retain every- 
thing they do not,, by express terms, give up." In a letter writ- 
ten to Benjamin Lincoln, October 26, 1788, he refers to the 
expectation that North Carolina will accede to the Union, and 


adds, " Whoever shall be found to enjoy the confidence of the 
States so far as to be elected Vice-President," etc. — showing 
that in the "confederated Government," as he termed it, the 
States were still to act independently, even in the selection of 
officers of the General Government. He wrote to General 
Knox, June 17, 1788, " I can not but hope that the States which 
may be disposed to make a secession will think often and seri- 
ously on the consequences." June 28, 1788, he wrote to Gen- 
eral Pinckney that New Hampshire " had acceded to the new 
Confederacy," and, in reference to North Carolina, " I should be 
astonished if that State should withdraw from the Union." 

I shall add but two other citations. They are from speeches 
of John Marshall, afterward the most distinguished Chief Jus- 
tice of the United States — who has certainly never been regard- 
ed as holding high views of State rights — in the Virginia Con- 
vention of 1788. In the first case, he was speaking of the power 
of the States over the militia, and is thus reported : 

" The State governments did not derive their powers from the 
General Government ; but each government derived its powers 
from the people, and each was to act according to the powers given 
it. Would any gentleman deny this? . . . Could any man say 
that this power was not retained by the States, as they had not 
given it away ? For (says he) does not a power remain till it is 
given away ? The State Legislatures had power to command and 
govern their militia before, and have it still, undeniably, unless 
there be something in this Constitution that takes it away. . . . 

" He concluded by observing that the power of governing the 
militia was not vested in the States by implication, because, being 
possessed of it antecedently to the adoption of the Government, 
and not being divested of it by any grant or restriction in the Con- 
stitution, they must necessarily be as fully possessed of it as ever 
they had been, and it could not be said that the States derived 
any powers from that system, but retained them, though not ac- 
knowledged in any part of it." * 

In the other case, the special subject was the power of the 
Federal judiciary. Mr. Marshall said, with regard to this : " I 

* Elliott's " Debates," vol. iii, pp. 389-391. 


hope that no gentleman will think that a State can be called at 
the bar of the Federal court. Is there no such case at present % 
Are there not many cases, in which the Legislature of Virginia 
is a party, and yet the State is not sued? Is it rational to 
suppose that the sovereign power shall be dragged before a 
court ? " * 

Authorities to the same effect might be multiplied indefi- 
nitely by quotation from nearly all the most eminent statesmen 
and patriots of that brilliant period. My limits, however, permit 
me only to refer those in quest of more exhaustive information 
to the original records, or to the " Republic of Republics," in 
which will be found a most valuable collection and condensation 
of the teaching of the fathers on the subject. There was no dis- 
sent, at that period, from the interpretation of the Constitution 
which I have set forth, as given by its authors, except in the 
objections made by its adversaries. Those objections were re- 
futed and silenced, until revived, long afterward, and presented 
as the true interpretation, by the school of which Judge Story 
was the most effective founder. 

At an earlier period — but when he had already served for 
several years in Congress, and had attained the full maturity of 
his powers — Mr. Webster held the views which were presented 
in a memorial to Congress of citizens of Boston, December 15, 
1819, relative to the admission of Missouri, drawn up and 
signed by a committee of which he was chairman, and which 
also included among its members Mr. Josiah Quincy. He 
speaks of the States as enjoying " the exclusive possession of 
sovereignty" over their own territory, calls the United States 
" the American Confederacy," and says, " The only parties to 
the Constitution, contemplated by it originally, were the thir- 
teen confederated States." And again : " As between the origi- 
nal States, the representation rests on compact and plighted 
faith ; and your memorialists have no wish that that compact 
should be disturbed, or that plighted faith in the slightest de- 
gree violated." 

It is satisfactory to know that in the closing year of his life, 
when looking retrospectively, with judgment undisturbed by 

* Elliott's " Debates," vol. iii, p. 503. 


any extraneous influence, he uttered views of the Government 
which must stand the test of severest scrutiny and defy the 
storms of agitation, for they are founded on the rock of truth. 
In letters written and addresses delivered during the Adminis- 
tration of Mr. Fillmore, he repeatedly applies to the Constitution 
the term " compact," which, in 1833, he had so vehemently 
repudiated. In his speech at Capon Springs, Virginia, in 1851, 
he says : 

" If the South were to violate any part of the Constitution in- 
tentionally and systematically, and persist in so doing year after 
year, and no remedy could be had, would the North be any longer 
bound by the rest of it ? And if the North were, deliberately, 
habitually, and of fixed purpose, to disregard one part of it, 
would the South be bound any longer to observe its other obli- 
gations ? . . . 

" How absurd it is to suppose that, when different parties en- 
ter into a compact for certain purposes, either can disregard any 
one provision, and expect, nevertheless, the other to observe the 
rest ! . . . 

" I have not hesitated to say, and I repeat, that, if the North- 
ern States refuse, willfully and deliberately, to carry into effect 
that part of the Constitution which respects the restoration of 
fugitive slaves, and Congress provide no remedy, the South would 
no longer be bound to observe the compact. A bargain can not 
be broken on one side, and still bind the other side." * 

The principles which have been set forth in the foregoing 
chapters, although they had come to be considered as peculiarly 
Southern, were not sectional in their origin. In the beginning 
and earlier years of our history they were cherished as faithfully 
and guarded as jealously in Massachusetts and New Hampshire 
as in Yirginia or South Carolina. It was in these principles 
that I was nurtured. I have frankly proclaimed them during 
my whole life, always contending in the Senate of the United 
States against what I believed to be the mistaken construction 
of the Constitution taught by Mr. Webster and his adherents. 
While I honored the genius of that great man, and held friendly 

* Curtis's " Life of Webster," chap, xxxvii, vol. ii, pp. 518, 519. 


personal relations with him, I considered his doctrines on these 
points — or rather the doctrines advocated by him during the 
most conspicuous and influential portions of his public career — 
to be mischievous, and the more dangerous to the welfare of the 
country and the liberties of mankind on account of the signal 
ability and magnificent eloquence with which they were argued. 


The Right of Secession. — The Law of Unlimited Partnerships. — The " Perpetual 
Union " of the Articles of Confederation and the " More Perfect Union " of 
the Constitution. — The Important Powers conferred upon the Federal Govern- 
ment and the Fundamental Principles of the Compact the same in both Sys- 
tems. — The Right to resume Grants, when failing to fulfill their Purposes, ex- 
pressly and distinctly asserted in the Adoption of the Constitution. 

The Right of Secession — that subject which, beyond all 
others, ignorance, prejudice, arid political rancor have combined 
to cloud with misstatements and misapprehensions — is a ques- 
tion easily to be determined in the light of what has already 
been established with regard to the history and principles of the 
Constitution. It is not something standing apart by itself — a 
factious creation, outside of and antagonistic to the Constitution 
— as might be imagined by one deriving his ideas from the po- 
litical literature most current of late years. So far from being 
against the Constitution or incompatible with it, we contend 
that, if the right to secede is not prohibited to the States, and no 
power to prevent it expressly delegated to the United States, 
it remains as reserved to the States or the people, from whom 
all the powers of the General Government were derived. 

The compact between the States which formed the Union 
was in the nature of a partnership between individuals without 
limitation of time, and the recognized law of such partnerships 
is thus stated by an eminent lawyer of Massachusetts in a work 
intended for popular use : 

" If the articles between the partners do not contain an agree- 
ment that the partnership shall continue for a specified time, it 


may be dissolved at the pleasure of either partner. But no partner 
can exercise this power wantonly and injuriously to the other part- 
ners, without making himself responsible for the damage he thus 
causes. If there be a provision that the partnership shall continue 
a certain time, this is binding." * 

We have seen that a number of " sovereign, free, and inde- 
pendent " States, during the war of the Revolution, entered into 
a partnership with one another, which was not only unlimited 
in duration, but expressly declared to be a " perpetual union." 
Yet, when that Union failed to accomplish the purposes for 
which it was formed, the parties withdrew, separately and in- 
dependently, one after another, without any question made of 
their right to do so, and formed a new association. One of the 
declared objects of this new partnership was to form " a more 
perfect union." This certainly did not mean more perfect in 
respect of duration ; for the former union had been declared 
perpetual, and perpetuity admits of no addition. It did not 
mean that it was to be more indissoluble ; for the delegates of 
the States, in ratifying the former compact of union, had ex- 
pressed themselves in terms that could scarcely be made more 
stringent. They then said : 

" And we do further solem?ily plight and engage the faith of 
our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determina- 
tions of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions 
which, by the said confederation, are submitted to them ; and 
that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States 
we respectively represent ; and that the Union shall be per- 
petual.^ f 

The formation of a" more perfect union " was accomplished 
by the organization of a government more complete in its va- 
rious branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, and by the 
delegation to this Government of certain additional powers or 
functions which had previously been exercised by the Govern- 
ments of the respective States — especially in providing the 

* Parsons, " Rights of a Citizen," chap, xx, section 3. 

f Ratification appended to Articles of Confederation. (See Elliott's " Debates," 
vol. i, p. 113.) 


means of operating directly upon individuals for the enforce- 
ment of its legitimately delegated authority. There was no 
abandonment nor modification of the essential principle of a 
compact between sovereigns, which applied to the one case as 
fully as to the other. There was not the slightest intimation 
of so radical a revolution as the surrender of the sovereignty 
of the contracting parties would have been. The additional 
powers conferred upon the Federal Government by the Consti- 
tution were merely transfers of some of those possessed by the 
State governments — not subtractions from the reserved and 
inalienable sovereignty of the political communities which con- 
ferred them. It was merely the institution of a new agent 
who, however enlarged his powers might be, would still remain 
subordinate and responsible to the source from which they were 
derived — that of the sovereign people of each State. It was an 
amended Union, not a consolidation. 

It is a remarkable fact that the very powers of the Federal 
Government and prohibitions to the States, which are most re- 
lied upon by the advocates of centralism as incompatible with 
State sovereignty, were in force under the old Confederation 
when the sovereignty of the States was expressly recognized. 
The General Government had then, as now, the exclusive right 
and power of determining on peace and war, making treaties 
and alliances, maintaining an army and navy, granting letters 
of marque and reprisal, regulating coinage, establishing and con- 
trolling the postal service — indeed, nearly all the so-called " char- 
acteristic powers of sovereignty " exercised by the Federal Gov- 
ernment under the existing Constitution, except the regulation 
of commerce, and of levying and collecting its revenues directly, 
instead of through the interposition of the State authorities. The 
exercise of these first-named powers was prohibited to the 
States under the old compact, "without the consent of the 
United States in Congress assembled," but no one has claimed 
that the Confederation had thereby acquired sovereignty. 

Entirely in accord with these truths are the arguments of 
Mr. Madison in the " Federalist," to show that the great prin- 
ciples of the Constitution are substantially the same as those of 
the Articles of Confederation. He says : 


" I ask, What are these principles ? Do they require that, in 
the establishment of the Constitution, the States should be re- 
garded as distinct and independent sovereigns? They are so 
regarded by the Constitution proposed. . . . Do these principles, 
in fine, require that the powers of the General Government should 
be limited, and that, beyond this limit, the States should be left 
in possession of their sovereignty and independence ? We have 
seen that, in the new Government as in the old, the general pow- 
ers are limited ; and that the States, in all unenumerated cases, 
are left in the enjoyment of their sovereign and independent juris- 

" The truth is," he adds, " that the great principles of the 
Constitution proposed by the Convention may be considered 
less as absolutely new, than as the expansion of principles which 
are found in the Articles of Confederation." * 

In the papers immediately following, he establishes this posi- 
tion in detail by an analysis of the principal powers delegated 
to the Federal Government, showing that the spirit of the origi- 
nal instructions to the Convention had been followed in revising 
" the Federal Constitution " and rendering it " adequate to the 
exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union." f 

The present Union owes its very existence to the dissolution, 
by separate secession of its members, of the former Union, which, 
as we have thus seen, as to its organic principles, rested upon 
precisely the same foundation. The right to withdraw from 
the association results, in either case, from the same principles — 
principles which, I think, have been established on an impreg- 
nable basis of history, reason, law, and precedent. 

It is not contended that this right should be resorted to for 
insufficient cause, or, as the writer already quoted on the law of 
partnership says, " wantonly and injuriously to the other part- 
ners," without responsibility of the seceding party for any dam- 
age thus done. No association can be dissolved without a like- 
lihood of the occurrence of incidental questions concerning 
common property and mutual obligations — questions sometimes 
of a complex and intricate sort. If a wrong be perpetrated, in 
such case, it is a matter for determination by the means usually 

* " Federalist," No. xl. f Ibid., Nos. xli-xliv. 


employed among independent and sovereign powers — negotia- 
tion, arbitration, or, in the failure of these, by war, with which, 
unfortunately, Christianity and civilization have not yet been 
able entirely to dispense. But the suggestion of possible evils 
does not at all affect the question of right. There is no great 
principle in the affairs either of individuals or of nations that is 
not liable to such difficulties in its practical application. 

But, w r e are told, there is no mention made of secession in 
the Constitution. Mr. Everett says : " The States are not named 
in it ; the word sovereignty does not occur in it ; the right of 
secession is as much ignored in it as the procession of the equi- 
noxes." We have seen how very untenable is the assertion 
that the States are not named in it, and how much perti- 
nency or significance in the omission of the word "sover- 
eignty." The pertinent question that occurs is, "Why was so 
obvious an attribute of sovereignty not expressly renounced if 
it was intended to surrender it % It certainly existed ; it was not 
surrendered ; therefore it still exists. This would be a more 
natural and rational conclusion than that it has ceased to exist 
because it is not mentioned. 

The simple truth is, that it would have been a very extraor- 
dinary thing to incorporate into the Constitution any express 
provision for the secession of the States and dissolution of the 
Union. Its founders undoubtedly desired and hoped that it 
would be perpetual ; against the proposition for power to coerce 
a State, the argument was that it would be a means, not of pre- 
serving, but of destroying, the Union. It was not for them to 
make arrangements for its termination — a calamity which there 
was no occasion to provide for in advance. Sufficient for their 
day was the evil thereof. It is not usual, either in partnerships 
between men or in treaties between governments, to make pro- 
vision for a dissolution of the partnership or a termination of 
the treaty, unless there be some special reason for a limitation of 
time. Indeed, in treaties, the usual formula includes a declara- 
tion of their perpetuity ; but in either case the power of the 
contracting parties, or of any of them, to dissolve the compact, 
on terms not damaging to the rights of the other parties, is not 
the less clearly understood. It was not necessary in the Consti- 


tution to affirm the right of secession, because it was an attribute 
of sovereignty, and the States had reserved all which they had 
not delegated. 

The right of the people of the several States to resume the 
powers delegated by them to the common agency, was not left 
without positive and ample assertion, even at a period when it 
had never been denied. The ratification of the Constitution by 
Yirginia has already been quoted, in which the people of that 
State, through their Convention, did expressly " declare and 
make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, 
being derived from the people of the United States, may he re- 
sumed hy them, whensoever the same shall be perverted to their 
injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby 
remains with them and at their will." *■ 

New York and Rhode Island were no less explicit, both de- 
claring that "the powers of government may he reassumed hy 
the people whenever it shall become necessary to their happi- 
ness." f 

These expressions are not mere ohiter dicta, thrown out in- 
cidentally, and entitled only to be regarded as an expression of 
opinion by their authors. Even if only such, they would carry 
great weight as the deliberately expressed judgment of enlight- 
ened contemporaries, but they are more : they are parts of the 
very acts or ordinances by which these States ratified the Con- 
stitution and acceded to the Union, and can not be detached 
from them. If they are invalid, the ratification itself was in- 
valid, for they are inseparable. By inserting these declarations 
in their ordinances, Yirginia, New York, and Rhode Island, for- 
mally, officially, and permanently, declared their interpretation 
of the Constitution as recognizing the right of secession by the 
resumption of their grants. By accepting the ratifications with 
this declaration incorporated, the other States as formally ac- 
cepted the principle which it asserted. 

I am well aware that it has been attempted to construe these 
declarations concerning the right of the people to reassume their 
delegations of power — especially in the terms employed by Yir- 
ginia, " people of the United States " — as having reference to 

* See Elliott's " Debates," vol. i, p. 360. f Ibid., pp. 361, 369. 


the idea of one people, in mass, or "in the aggregate." But it 
can scarcely be possible that any candid and intelligent reader, 
who has carefully considered the evidence already brought to 
bear on the subject, can need further argument to disabuse his 
mind of that political fiction. The "people of the United 
States," from whom the powers of the Federal Government 
were " derived," could have been no other than the people who 
ordained and ratified the Constitution; and this, it has been 
shown beyond the power of denial, was done by the people of 
each State, severally and independently. No other people were 
known to the authors of the declarations above quoted. Mr. 
Madison was a leading member of the Yirginia Convention, 
which made that declaration, as well as of the general Conven- 
tion that drew up the Constitution. We have seen what his 
idea of " the people of the United States " was — " not the peo- 
ple as composing one great body, but the people as composing 
thirteen sovereignties." * Mr. Lee, of Westmoreland (" Light- 
Horse Harry "), in the same Convention, answering Mr. Henry's 
objection to the expression, " "We, the people," said : " It [the 
Constitution] is now submitted to the people of Virginia, If 
we do not adopt it, it will be always null and void as to us. 
Suppose it was found proper for our adoption, and becoming 
the government of the people of Virginia, by what style should 
it be done ? Ought we not to make use of the name of the peo- 
ple ? No other style would be proper." f It would certainly 
be superfluous, after all that has been presented heretofore, to 
add any further evidence of the meaning that was attached to 
these expressions by their authors. " The people of the United 
States " were in their minds the people of Yirginia, the peo- 
ple of Massachusetts, and the people of every other State that 
should agree to unite. They could have meant only that the 
people of their respective States who had delegated certain 
powers to the Federal Government, in ratifying the Constitu- 
tion and acceding to the Union, reserved to themselves the 
right, in event of the failure of their purposes, to " resume " 
( or " reassume " ) those powers by seceding from the same 

* Elliott's " Debates," vol. iii, p. 114. f Ibid., p. VI. 


Finally, the absurdity of the construction attempted to be 
put upon these expressions will be evident from a very brief 
analysis. If the assertion of the right of reassumption of their 
powers was meant for the protection of the whole people — the 
people in mass — the people " in the aggregate " — of a consoli- 
dated republic — against whom or what was it to protect them ? 
By whom were the powers granted to be perverted to the injury 
or oppression of the whole people ? By themselves or by some 
of the States, all of whom, according to this hypothesis, had 
been consolidated into one ? As no danger could have been 
apprehended from either of these, it must have been against the 
Government of the United States that the provision was made ; 
that is to say, the whole people of a republic make this declara- 
tion against a Government established by themselves and entirely 
subject to their own control, under a Constitution which con- 
tains provision for its own amendment by this very same " whole 
people," whenever they may think proper ! Is it not a libel 
upon the statesmen of that generation to attribute to their 
grave and solemn declarations a meaning so vapid and absurd ? 

To those who argue that the grants of the Constitution are 
fatal to the reservation of sovereignty by the States, the Consti- 
tution furnishes a conclusive answer in the amendment which 
was coeval with the adoption of the instrument, and which de- 
clares that all powers not delegated to the Government of the 
Union were reserved to the States or to the people. As sov- 
ereignty was not delegated by the States, it was necessarily re- 
served. It would be superfluous to answer arguments against 
implied powers of the States ; none are claimed by implication, 
because all not delegated by the States remained with them, 
and it was only in an abundance of caution that they expressed 
the right to resume such parts of their unlimited power as was 
delegated for the purposes enumerated. As there be those who 
see danger to the perpetuity of the Union in the possession of 
such power by the States, and insist that our fathers did not 
intend to bind the States together by a compact no better than 
"a rope of sand," it may be well to examine their position. 
From what have dangers to the Union arisen? Have they 
sprung from too great restriction on the exercise of the granted 


powers, or from the assumption by the General Government 
of power claimed by implication? The whole record of our 
Union answers, from the latter only. 

Was this tendency to usurpation caused by the presumption 
of paramount authority in the General Government, or by the 
assertion of the right of a State to resume the powers it had del- 
egated ? Reasonably and honestly it can not be assigned to the 
latter. Let it be supposed that the "whole people " had recognized 
the right of a State of the Union, peaceably and independently, 
to resume the powers which, peaceably and independently, she 
had delegated to the Federal Government, would not this have 
been potent to restrain the General Government from exercising 
its functions to the injury and oppression of such State ? To 
deny that effect would be to suppose that a dominant majority 
would be willing to drive a State from the Union. "Would the 
admission of the right of a State to resume the grants it had 
made, have led to the exercise of that right for light and trivial 
causes? Surely the evidence furnished by the nations, both 
ancient and modern, refutes the supposition. In the language 
of the Declaration of Independence, "All experience hath 
shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are 
sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to 
which they are accustomed." Would not real grievances be 
rendered more tolerable by the consciousness of power to re- 
move them ; and would not even imaginary wrongs be embit- 
tered by the manifestation of a purpose to make them perpet- 
ual ? To ask these questions is to answer them. 

The wise and brave men who had, at much peril and great 
sacrifice, secured the independence of the States, were as little 
disposed to surrender the sovereignty of the States as they were 
anxious to organize a General Government with adequate pow- 
ers to remedy the defects of the Confederation. The Union 
they formed was not to destroy the States, but to " secure the 
blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." 



Coercion the Alternative to Secession. — Repudiation of it by the Constitution and 
the Fathers of the Constitutional Era. — Difference between Mr. Webster and Mr. 

The alternative to secession is coercion. That is to say, if 
no such right as that of secession exists — if it is forbidden or pre- 
cluded by the Constitution — then it is a wrong ; and, by a well 
settled principle of public law, for every wrong there must be 
a remedy, which in this case must be the application of force 
to the State attempting to withdraw from the Union. 

Early in the session of the Convention which formed the 
Constitution, it was proposed to confer upon Congress the pow- 
er "to call forth the force of the Union against any member of 
the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof." 
When this proposition came to be considered, Mr. Madison ob- 
served that " a union of the States containing such an ingredient 
seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force 
against a State would look more like a declaration of war than 
an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered 
by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts 
by which it might be bound. He hoped that such a system 
would be framed as might render this recourse unnecessary, 
and moved that the clause be postponed." This motion was 
adopted nem. con., and the proposition was never again re- 
vived.* Again, on a subsequent occasion, speaking of an ap- 
peal to force, Mr. Madison said : " Was such a remedy eligi- 
ble % Was it practicable ? . . . Any government for the United 
States, formed on the supposed practicability of using force 
against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States, would 
prove as visionary and fallacious as the government of Con- 
gress." f Every proposition looking in any way to the same 
or a similar object was promptly rejected by the convention. 
George Mason, of Virginia, said of such a proposition : " Will 
not the citizens of the invaded State assist one another, until 
they rise as one man and shake off the Union altogether ? " % 

* "Madison Papers," pp. 732, 761. f Ibid., p. 822. % Ibid., p. 914. 



Oliver Ellsworth, in the ratifying Convention of Connecti- 
cut, said : " This Constitution does not attempt to coerce sover- 
eign bodies, /States, in their political capacity. ~No coercion is 
applicable to such bodies but that of an armed force. If we 
should attempt to execute the laws of the Union by sending an 
armed force against a delinquent State, it would involve the 
good and bad, the innocent and guilty, in the same calamity." * 

Mr. Hamilton, in the Convention of New York, said : " To 
coerce the States is one of the maddest projects that was ever 
devised. . . . What picture does this idea present to our view ? 
A complying State at war with a non-complying State : Con- 
gress marching the troops of one State into the bosom of an- 
other : . . . Here is a nation at war with itself. Can any rea- 
sonable man be well disposed toward a government which makes 
war and carnage the only means of supporting itself — a govern- 
ment that can exist only by the sword ? . . . But can we be- 
lieve that one State will ever suffer itself to be used as an instru- 
ment of coercion % The thing is a dream — it is impossible." f 

Unhappily, our generation has seen that, in the decay of the 
principles and feelings which animated the hearts of all patriots 
in that day, this thing, like many others then regarded as im- 
possible dreams, has been only too feasible, and that States have 
permitted themselves to be used as instruments, not merely for 
the coercion, but for the destruction of the freedom and inde- 
pendence of their sister States. 

Edmund Randolph, Governor of Virginia, although the 
mover of the original proposition to authorize the employment 
of the forces of the Union against a delinquent member, which 
had been so signally defeated in the Federal Convention, after- 
ward, in the Yirginia Convention, made an eloquent protest 
against the idea of the employment of force against a State. 
" What species of military coercion," said he, " could the Gen- 
eral Government adopt for the enforcement of obedience to 
its demands ? Either an army sent into the heart of a delin- 
quent State, or blocking up its ports. Have we lived to this, 
then, that, in order to suppress and exclude tyranny, it is neces- 
sary to render the most affectionate friends the most bitter 

* Elliott's " Debates," vol. ii, p. 199. f Ibid., pp. 232, 233. 


enemies, set the father against the son, and make the brother 
slay the brother ? Is this the happy expedient that is to pre- 
serve liberty \ Will it not destroy it ? ■ If an army be once 
introduced to force us, if once marched into Virginia, figure 
to yourselves what the dreadful consequence will be : the most 
lamentable civil war must ensue." * 

We have seen already how vehemently the idea of even 
judicial coercion was repudiated by Plamilton, Marshall, and 
others. The suggestion of military coercion was uniformly 
treated, as in the above extracts, with still more abhorrence. 
No principle was more fully and firmly settled on the highest 
authority than that, under our system, there could be no coer- 
cion of a State. 

Mr. Webster, in his elaborate speech of February 16, 1833, 
arguing throughout against the sovereignty of the States, and 
in the course of his argument sadly confounding the ideas of the 
Federal Constitution and the Federal Government, as he con- 
founds the sovereign people of the States with the State gov- 
ernments, says : " The States can not omit to appoint Senators 
and electors. It is not a matter resting in State discretion or 
State pleasure. . . . JSTo member of a State Legislature can 
refuse to proceed, at the proper time, to elect Senators to Con- 
gress, or to provide for the choice of electors of President and 
Vice-President, any more than the members can refuse, when 
the appointed day arrives, to meet the members of the other 
House, to count the votes for those officers and ascertain who 
are chosen." f This was before the invention in 1877 of an elec- 
toral commission to relieve Congress of its constitutional duty to 
count the vote. Mr. Hamilton, on the contrary, fresh from the 
work of forming the Constitution, and familiar with its prin- 
ciples and purposes, said : " It is certainly true that the State 
Legislatures, by forbearing the appointment of Senators, may 
destroy the national Government." $ 

It is unnecessary to discuss the particular question on which 
these two great authorities are thus directly at issue. I do not 
contend that the State Legislatures, of their own will, have a 

* Elliott's " Debates," vol. iii, p. 117. 

f " Congressional Debates," vol. ix, Part I, p. 566. % " Federalist," No. lix. 


right to forego the performance of any Federal duty imposed 
upon them by the Constitution. But there is a power beyond 
and above that of either the Federal or State governments — the 
power of the people of the State, who ordained and established 
the Constitution, as far as it applies to themselves, reserving, as 
I think has been demonstrated, the right to reassume the grants 
of power therein made, when they deem it necessary for their 
safety or welfare to do so. At the behest of this power, it cer- 
tainly becomes not only the right, but the duty, of their State 
Legislature to refrain from any action implying adherence to 
the Union, or partnership, from which the sovereign has with- 


Some Objections considered. — The New States. — Acquired Territory. — Allegiance, 
false and true. — Difference between Nullification and Secession. — Secession a 
Peaceable Remedy. — No Appeal to Arms. — Two Conditions noted. 

It would be only adding to a superabundance of testimony 
to quote further from the authors of the Constitution in sup- 
port of the principle, unquestioned in that generation, that the 
people who granted — that is to say, of course, the people of the 
several States — might resume their grants. It will require but 
few words to dispose of some superficial objections that have 
been made to the application of this doctrine in a special case. 

It is sometimes said that, whatever weight may attach to 
principles founded on the sovereignty and independence of the 
original thirteen States, they can not apply to the States of more 
recent origin — constituting now a majority of the members of 
the Union — because these are but the offspring or creatures of 
the Union, and must of course be subordinate and dependent. 

This objection would scarcely occur to any instructed mind, 
though it may possess a certain degree of specious plausibility 
for the untaught. It is enough to answer that the entire 
equality of the States, in every particular, is a vital condition of 
their union. Every new member that has been admitted into 


the partnership of States came in, as is expressly declared in the 
acts for their admission, on a footing of perfect equality in every 
respect with the original members. This equality is as com- 
plete as the equality, before the laws, of the son with the father, 
immediately on the attainment by the former of his legal ma- 
jority, without regard to the prior condition of dependence and 
tutelage. The relations of the original States to one another 
and to the Union can not be affected by any subsequent acces- 
sions of new members, as the Constitution fixes those relations 
permanently, and furnishes the normal standard which is ap- 
plicable to all. The Boston memorial to Congress, referred to 
in a foregoing chapter, as prepared by a committee with Mr. 
Webster at its head, says that the new States " are universally 
considered as admitted into the Union upon the same footing as 
the original States, and as possessing, in respect to the Union, 
the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as 
the other States." 

But, with regard to States formed of territory acquired by 
purchase from France, Spain, and Mexico, it is claimed that, as 
they were bought by the United States, they belong to the same, 
and have no right to withdraw at will from an association the 
property which had been purchased by the other partie's. 

Happy would it have been if the equal rights of the people 
of all the States to the enjoyment of territory acquired by the 
common treasure could have been recognized at the proper 
time ! There would then have been no secession and no war. 

As for the sordid claim of ownership of States, on account 
of the money spent for the land which they contain — I can un- 
derstand the ground of a claim to some interest in the soil, so 
long as it continues to be public property, but have yet to learn 
in what way the United States ever became purchaser of the 
inhabitants or of their political rights. 

Any question in regard to property has always been admit- 
ted to be matter for fair and equitable settlement, in case of the 
withdrawal of a State. 

The treaty by which the Louisiana territory was ceded to 
the United States expressly provided that the inhabitants thereof 
should be " admitted, as soon as possible, according to the prin- 


ciples of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the 
rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United 
States." * In all other acquisitions of territory the same stipu- 
lation is either expressed or implied. Indeed, the denial of the 
right would be inconsistent with the character of American 
political institutions. 

Another objection made to the right of secession is based 
upon obscure, indefinite, and inconsistent ideas with regard to 
allegiance. It assumes various shapes, and is therefore some- 
what difficult to meet, but, as most frequently presented, may be 
stated thus : that the citizen owes a double allegiance, or a di- 
vided allegiance — partly to his State, partly to the United 
States : that it is not possible for either of these powers to 
release him from the allegiance due to the other: that the 
State can no more release him from his obligations to the Union 
than the United States can absolve him from his duties to his 
State. This is the most moderate way in which, the objection is 
put. The extreme centralizers go further, and claim that alle- 
giance to the Union, or, as they generally express it, to the Gov- 
ernment — meaning thereby the Federal Government — is para- 
mount, and the obligation to the State only subsidiary — if, in- 
deed, it exists at all. 

This latter view, if the more monstrous, is at least the more 
consistent of the two, for it does not involve the difficulty of a 
divided allegiance, nor the paradoxical position in which the 
other places the citizen, in case of a conflict between his State 
and the other members of the Union, of being necessarily a 
rebel against the General Government or a traitor to the State 
of which he is a citizen. 

As to true allegiance, in the light of the principles which 
have been established, there can be no doubt with regard to it. 
The primary, paramount allegiance of the citizen is due to the 
sovereign only. That sovereign, under our system, is the peo- 
ple — the people of the State to which he belongs — the people 
who constituted the State government which he obeys, and 
which protects him in the enjoyment of his personal rights — the 
people who alone (as far as he is concerned) ordained and estab- 

* Ray's " Louisiana Digest," vol. i, p. 24. 


lished the Federal Constitution and Federal Government — the 
people who have reserved to themselves sovereignty, which in- 
volves the power to revoke all agencies created by them. The 
obligation to support the State or Federal Constitution and 
the obedience due to either State or Federal Government are 
alike derived from and dependent on the allegiance due to 
this sovereign. If the sovereign abolishes the State govern- 
ment and ordains and establishes a new one, the obligation of 
allegiance requires him to transfer his obedience accordingly. 
If the sovereign withdraws from association with its confeder- 
ates in the Union, the allegiance of the citizen requires him to 
follow the sovereign. Any other course is rebellion or treason 
— words which, in the cant of the day, have been so grossly mis- 
applied and perverted as to be made worse than unmeaning. 
His relation to the Union arose from the membership of the 
State of which he was a citizen, and ceased whenever his State 
withdrew from it. He can not owe obedience — much less alle- 
giance — to an association from -which his sovereign has sepa- 
rated, and thereby withdrawn him. 

Every officer of both Federal and State governments is re- 
quired to take an oath to support the Constitution, a compact 
the binding force of which is based upon the sovereignty of the 
States — a sovereignty necessarily carrying with it the principles 
just stated with regard to allegiance. Every such officer is, 
therefore, virtually sworn to maintain and support the sover- 
eignty of all the States. 

Military and naval officers take, in addition, an oath to obey 
the lawful orders of their superiors. Such an oath has never 
been understood to be eternal in its obligations. It is dissolved 
by the death, dismissal, or resignation of the officer who takes 
it ; and such resignation is not a mere optional right, but be- 
comes an imperative duty when continuance in the service 
comes to be in conflict with the ultimate allegiance due to the 
sovereignty of the State to which he belongs. 

A little consideration of these plain and irrefutable truths 
would show how utterly unworthy and false are the vulgar 
taunts which attribute "treason" to those who, in the late 
secession of the Southern States, were loyal to the only sover- 


eign entitled to their allegiance, and which still more absurdly 
prate of the violation of oaths to support " the Government" 
an oath which nobody ever could have been legally required to 
take, and which must have been ignorantly confounded with 
the prescribed oath to support the Constitution. 

Nullification and secession are often erroneously treated as 
if they were one and the same thing. It is true that both ideas 
spring from the sovereign right of a State to interpose for the 
protection of its own people, but they are altogether unlike as 
to both their extent and the character of the means to be 
employed. The first was a temporary expedient, intended to 
restrain action until the question at issue could be submitted to 
a convention of the States. It was a remedy which its sup- 
porters sought to apply within the Union ; a means to avoid 
the last resort — separation. If the application for a convention 
should fail, or if the State making it should suffer an adverse 
decision, the advocates of that remedy have not revealed what 
they proposed as the next step — supposing the infraction of the 
compact to have been of that character which, according to Mr. 
Webster, dissolved it. 

Secession, on the other hand, was the assertion of the inal- 
ienable right of a people to change their government, when- 
ever it ceased to fulfill the purposes for which it was ordained 
and established. Under our form of government, and the car- 
dinal principles upon which it was founded, it should have been 
a peaceful remedy. The withdrawal of a State from a league 
has no revolutionary or insurrectionary characteristic. The 
government of the State remains unchanged as to all internal 
affairs. It is only its external or confederate relations that are 
altered. To term this action of a sovereign a " rebellion," is 
a gross abuse of language. So is the flippant phrase which 
speaks of it as an appeal to the " arbitrament of the sword." 
In the late contest, in particular, there was no appeal by the 
seceding States to the arbitrament of arms. There was on their 
part no invitation nor provocation to war. They stood in an 
attitude of self-defense, and were attacked for merely exercising 
a right guaranteed by the original terms of the compact. They 
neither tendered nor accepted any challenge to the wager of 


battle. The man who defends his house against attack can not 
with any propriety be said to have submitted the question of 
his right to it to the arbitrament of arms. 

Two moral obligations or restrictions upon a seceding State 
certainly exist : in the first place, not to break up the partner- 
ship without good and sufficient cause ; and, in the second, to 
make an equitable settlement with former associates, and, as far 
as may be, to avoid the infliction of loss or damage upon any of 
them. Neither of these obligations was violated or neglected 
by the Southern States in their secession. 


Early Foreshadowings. — Opinions of Mr. Madison and Mr. Rufus King. — Safeguards 
provided. — Their Failure. — State Interposition. — The Kentucky and Virginia 
Resolutions. — Their Endorsement by the People in the Presidential Elections of 
1800 and Ensuing Terms. — South Carolina and Mr. Calhoun. — The Compromise 
of 1833. — Action of Massachusetts in 1843-45. — Opinions of John Quincy 
Adams. — Necessity for Secession. 

From the earliest period, it was foreseen by the wisest of our 
statesmen that a danger to the perpetuity of the Union would 
arise from the conflicting interests of different sections, and 
every effort was made to secure each of these classes of interests 
against aggression by the other. As a proof of this, may be 
cited the following extract from Mr. Madison's report of a speech 
made by himself in the Philadelphia Convention on the 30th of 
June, 1787 : 

" He admitted that every peculiar interest, whether in any 
class of citizens or any description of States, ought to be secured 
as far as possible. Wherever there is danger of attack, there 
ought to be given a constitutional power of defense. But he 
contended that the States were divided into different interests, 
not by their difference of size, but by other circumstances ; the 
most material of which resulted from climate, but principally 
from the effects of their having or not having slaves. These two 
causes concurred in forming the great division of interests in the 


United States. It did not lie between the large and small States ; 
it lay between the Northern and Southern ; and, if any defensive 
power were necessary, it ought to be mutually given to these two 
interests." * 

Mr. Rufus King, a distinguished member of the Convention 
from Massachusetts, a few days afterward, said, to the same 
effect : " He was fully convinced that the question concerning a 
difference of interests did not lie where it had hitherto been 
discussed, between the great and small States, but between the 
Southern and Eastern. For this reason he had been ready to 
yield something, in the proportion of representatives, for the 
security of the Southern. . . . He was not averse to giving 
them a still greater security, but did not see how it could be 
done." f 

The wise men who formed the Constitution were not seeking 
to bind the States together by the material power of a majority ; 
nor were they so blind to the influences of passion and interest 
as to believe that paper barriers would suffice to restrain a 
majority actuated by either or both of these motives. They en- 
deavored, therefore, to prevent the conflicts inevitable from the 
ascendancy of a sectional or party majority, by so distributing 
the powers of government that each interest might hold a check 
upon the other. It was believed that the compromises made 
with regard to representation — securing to each State an equal 
vote in the Senate, and in the House of Representatives giving 
the States a weight in proportion to their respective population, 
estimating the negroes as equivalent to three fifths of the same 
number of free whites — would have the effect of giving at an 
early period a majority in the House of Representatives to the 
South, while the North would retain the ascendancy in the Sen- 
ate. Thus it was supposed that the two great sectional inter- 
ests would be enabled to restrain each other within the limits 
of purposes and action beneficial to both. 

The failure of these expectations need not affect our reverence 
for the intentions of the fathers, or our respect for the means 
which they devised to carry them into effect. That they were 

* " Madison Papers," p. 1006. f Ibid., pp. .1057, 1058. 


mistaken, both as to the maintenance of the balance of sectional 
power and as to the fidelity and integrity with which the Con- 
gress was expected to conform to the letter and spirit of its 
delegated authority, is perhaps to be ascribed less to lack of pro- 
phetic foresight, than to that over-sanguine confidence which is 
the weakness of honest minds, and which was naturally strength- 
ened by the patriotic and fraternal feelings resulting from the 
great struggle through which they had then but recently passed. 
They saw, in the sufficiency of the authority delegated to the 
Federal Government and in the fullness of the sovereignty re- 
tained by the States, a system the strict construction of which 
was so eminently adapted to indefinite expansion of the confed- 
eracy as to embrace every variety of production and consequent 
diversity of pursuit. Carried out in the spirit in which it was 
devised, there was in this system no element of disintegration, but 
every facility for an enlargement of the circle of the family of 
States (or nations), so that it scarcely seemed unreasonable to 
look forward to a fulfillment of the aspiration of Mr. Hamilton, 
that it might extend over North America, perhaps over the 
whole continent. 

Not at all incompatible with these views and purposes was 
the recognition of the right of the States to reassume,'if occa- 
sion should require it, the powers which they had delegated. 
On the contrary, the maintenance of this right was the surest 
guarantee of the perpetuity of the Union, and the denial of it 
sounded the first serious note of its dissolution. The conserv- 
ative efficiency of " State interposition" for maintenance of the 
essential principles of the Union against aggression or decadence, 
is one of the most conspicuous features in the debates of the 
various State Conventions by which the Constitution was rati- 
fied. Perhaps their ideas of the particular form in which this 
interposition was to be made may have been somewhat indefi- 
nite, and left to be reduced to shape by the circumstances when 
they should arise, but the principle itself was assumed and as- 
serted as fundamental. But for a firm reliance upon it, as a 
sure resort in case of need, it may safely be said that the Union 
would never have been formed. It would be unjust to the wis- 
dom and sagacity of the framers of the Constitution to suppose 


that they entirely relied on paper barriers for the protection of 
the rights of minorities. Fresh from the defense of violated 
charters and faithless aggression on inalienable rights, it might, 
a priori, be assumed that they would require something more 
potential than mere promises to protect them from human de- 
pravity and human ambition. That they did so is to be found 
in the debates both of the General and the State Conventions, 
where State interposition was often declared to be the bulwark 
against usurpation. 

At an early period in the history of the Federal Govern- 
ment, the States of Kentucky and Virginia found reason to re- 
assert this right of State interposition. In the first of the fa- 
mous resolutions drawn by Mr. Jefferson in 1798, and with 
some modification adopted by the Legislature of Kentucky in 
November of that year, it is declared that, u whensoever the 
General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are 
unauthoritative, void, and of no force ; that to this compact 
each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party ; that this 
Government, created by this compact, was not made the exclu- 
sive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to 
itself ; since that would have made its discretion, and not the 
Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all 
other cases of compact among parties having no common 
judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as 
well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress." 

In the Virginia resolutions, drawn by Mr. Madison, adopted 
on the 24th of December, 1798, and reaffirmed in 1799, the 
General Assembly of that State declares that " it views the 
powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the com- 
pact, to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain 
sense and intention of the instrument constituting that com- 
pact, as no further valid than they are authorized by the grants 
enumerated in that compact ; and that, in case of a deliberate, 
palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted 
by the said compact, the States, who are parties thereto, have 
the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the 
progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respec- 
tive limits the authorities, rights, and liberties, appertaining to 

1798] RESOLUTIONS OF 1798. 189 

them." Another of the same series of resolutions denounces 
the indications of a design " to consolidate the States by degrees 
into one sovereignty." 

These, it is true, were only the resolves of two States, and 
they were dissented from by several other State Legislatures — 
not so much on the ground of opposition to the general prin- 
ciples asserted as on that of their being unnecessary in their 
application to the alien and sedition laws, which were the imme- 
diate occasion of their utterance. Nevertheless, they were the 
basis of the contest for the Presidency in 1800, which resulted 
in their approval by the people in the triumphant election of 
Mr. Jefferson. They became part of the accepted creed of the 
Republican, Democratic, State-Pights, or Conservative party, as 
it has been variously termed at different periods, and as such 
they were ratified by the people in every Presidential election 
that took place for sixty years, with two exceptions. The last 
victory obtained under them, and when they were emphasized 
by adding the construction of them contained in the report of 
Mr. Madison to the Yirginia Legislature in 1799, was at the 
election of Mr. Buchanan — the last President chosen by vote of 
a party that could with any propriety be styled " national," in 
contradistinction to sectional. 

At a critical and memorable period, that pure spirit, lumi- 
nous intellect, and devoted adherent of the Constitution, the 
great statesman of South Carolina, invoked this remedy of State 
interposition against the Tariff Act of 1828, which was deemed 
injurious and oppressive to his State. No purpose was then 
declared to coerce the State, as such, but measures were taken 
to break the protective shield of her authority and enforce the 
laws of Congress upon her citizens, by compelling them to pay 
outside of her ports the duties on imports, which the State had 
declared unconstitutional, and had forbidden to be collected in 
her ports. 

There remained at that day enough of the spirit in which 
the Union had been . founded — enough of respect for the sov- 
ereignty of States and of regard for the limitations of the 
Constitution — to prevent a conflict of arms. The compromise 
of 1833 was adopted, which South Carolina agreed to accept, 


the principle for which she contended being virtually con- 

Meantime there had been no lack, as we have already seen, 
of assertions of the sovereign rights of the States from other 
quarters. The declaration of these rights by the New England 
States and their representatives, on the acquisition of Louisi- 
ana in 1803, on the admission of the State of that name in 
1811- ? 12, and on the question of the annexation of Texas in 
1843-'45, have been referred to in another place. Among the 
resolutions of the Massachusetts Legislature, in relation to the 
proposed annexation of Texas, adopted in February, 1845, were 
the following : 

"2. Resolved, That there has hitherto been no precedent of 
the admission of a foreign state or foreign territory into the 
Union by legislation. And as the powers of legislation, granted 
in the Constitution of the United States to Congress, do not 
embrace a case of the admission of a foreign state or foreign ter- 
ritory, by legislation, into the Union, such an act of admission 
would have no binding force whatever on the people of Massa- 

" 3. Resolved, That the power, never having been granted by 
the people of Massachusetts, to admit into the Union States and 
Territories not within the same when the Constitution was adopted, 
remains with the people, and can only be exercised in such way 
and manner as the people shall hereafter designate and appoint." * 

To these stanch declarations of principles — with regard to 
which (leaving out of consideration the particular occasion that 
called them forth) my only doubt would be whether they do 
not express too decided a doctrine of nullification — may be 
added the avowal of one of the most distinguished sons of Mas- 
sachusetts, John Quincy Adams, in his discourse before the 
New York Historical Society, in 1839 : 

"Nations" (says Mr. Adams) "acknowledge no judge between 
them upon earth ; and their governments, from necessity, must, 
in their intercourse with each other, decide when the failure of 

* " Congressional Globe," vol. xiv, p. 299. 


one party to a contract to perform its obligations absolves the 
other from the reciprocal fulfillment of its own. But this last of 
earthly powers is not necessary to the freedom or independence 
of States connected together by the immediate action of the peo- 
ple of whom they consist. To the people alone is there reserved 
as well the dissolving as the constituent power, and that power 
can be exercised by them only under the tie of conscience, binding 
them to the retributive justice of Heaven. 

" With these qualifications, we may admit the same right as 
vested in the people of every State in the Union, with reference to 
the General Government, which was exercised .by the people of 
the united colonies with reference to the supreme head of the 
British Empire, of which they formed a part ; and under these 
limitations have the people of each State in the Union a right to 
secede from the confederated Union itself. 

" Thus stands the eight. But the indissoluble link of union 
between the people of the several States of this confederated na- 
tion is, after all, not in the eight, but in the heart. If the day 
should ever come (may Heaven avert it !) when the affections of 
the people of these States shall be alienated from each other, when 
the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision 
of interests shall fester into hatred, the bonds of political associa- 
tion will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the 
magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies ; and 
far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part 
in friendship with each other than to be held together by con- 
straint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents 
which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, 
to form again a more perfect Union, by dissolving that which 
could 7io longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be re- 
united by the law of political gravitation to the center." 

Perhaps it is unfortunate that, in earlier and better times, 
when the prospect of serious difficulties first arose, a convention 
of the States was not assembled to consider the relations of the 
various States and the Government of the Union. As time 
rolled on, the General Government, gathering with both hands 
a mass of undelegated powers, reached that position which Mr. 
Jefferson had pointed out as an intolerable evil — the claim of 
a right to judge of the extent of its own authority. Of those 


then participating in public affairs, it was apparently useless to 
ask that the question should be submitted for decision to the 
parties to the compact, under the same conditions as those which 
controlled the formation and adoption of the Constitution ; 
otherwise, a convention would have been utterly fruitless, for 
at that period, when aggression for sectional aggrandizement 
had made such rapid advances, it can scarcely be doubted that 
more than a fourth, if not a majority of States, would have 
adhered to that policy which had been manifested for. years in 
the legislation of many States, as well as in that of the Federal 
Government. What course would then have remained to the 
Southern States % Nothing, except either to submit to a con- 
tinuation of what they believed and felt to be violations of the 
compact of union, breaches of faith, injurious and oppressive 
usurpation, or else to assert the sovereign right to reassume the 
grants they had made, since those grants had been perverted 
from their original and proper purposes. 

Surely the right to resume the powers delegated and to 
judge of the propriety and sufficiency of the causes for doing 
so are alike inseparable from the possession of sovereignty. 
Over sovereigns there is no common judge, and between them 
can be no umpire, except by their own agreement and consent. 
The necessity or propriety of exercising the right to withdraw 
from a confederacy or union must be determined by each mem- 
ber for itself. Once determined in favor of withdrawal, all that 
remains for consideration is the obligation to see that no wanton 
damage is done to former associates, and to make such fair set- 
tlement of common interests as the equity of the case may 



A Bond of Union necessary after the Declaration of Independence. — Articles of Con- 
federation. — The Constitution of the United States. — The Same Principle for ob- 
taining Grants of Power in both. — The Constitution an Instrument enumerating 
the Powers delegated. — The Power of Amendment merely a Power to amend 
the Delegated Grants. — A Smaller Power was required for Amendment than 
for a Grant. — The Power of Amendment is confined to Grants of the Constitu- 
tion. — Limitations on the Power of Amendment. 

In July, 1776, the Congress of the thirteen united colonies 
declared that " these united colonies are, and of right ought to 
be, free and independent States." The denial of this asserted 
right and the attempted coercion made it manifest that a bond 
of union was necessary, for the common defense. 

In November of the next year, viz., 1777, articles of con- 
federation and perpetual union were entered into by the thir- 
teen States under the style of " The United States of America." 
The government instituted was to be administered by a congress 
of delegates from the several States, and each State to have an 
equal voice in legislation. The Government so formed- was to 
act through and by the States, and, having no power to enforce 
its requisitions upon the States, embarrassment was early realized 
in its efforts to provide for the exigencies of war. After the 
treaty of peace and recognition of the independence of the States, 
the difficulty of raising revenue and regulating commerce was 
so great as to lead to repeated efforts to obtain from the States 
additional grants of power. Under the Articles of Confederation 
no amendment of them could be made except by the unanimous 
consent of the States, and this it had not been found possible 
to obtain for the powers requisite to the efficient discharge of 
the functions intrusted to the Congress. Hence arose the pro- 
ceedings for a convention to amend the articles of confed- 
eration. The result was the formation of a new plan of gov- 
ernment, entitled " The Constitution of the United States of 

This was submitted to the Congress, in order that, if ap- 
proved by them, it might be referred to the States for adoption 


or rejection by the several conventions thereof, and, if adopted 
by nine of the States, it was to be the compact of union between 
the States so ratifying the same. 

The new form of government differed in many essential 
particulars from the old one. The delegates, intent on the 
purpose to give greater efficiency to the government of the 
Union, proposed greatly to enlarge its powers, so much so that 
it was not deemed safe to confide them to a single body, and 
they were consequently distributed between three independent 
departments of government, which might be a check upon one 
another. The Constitution did not, like the Articles of Confed- 
eration, declare that the States had agreed to a perpetual union, 
but distinctly indicated the hope of its perpetuity by the expres- 
sion in the preamble of the purpose to " secure the blessings of 
liberty to ourselves and our posterity." The circumstances 
under which the Union of the Constitution was formed justi- 
fied the hope of its perpetuity, but the brief existence of the 
Confederation may have been a warning against the renewal of 
the assertion that the compact should be perpetual. 

A remedy for the embarrassment which had been realized, 
under the Articles of Confederation, in obtaining amendments 
to correct any defects in grants of power, so as to render them 
effective for the purpose for which they were given, was pro- 
vided by its fifth article. It is here to be specially noted that 
new grants of power, as asked for by the Convention, were un- 
der the Articles of Confederation only to be obtained from the 
unanimous assent of the States. Therefore it followed that two 
of the States which did not ratify the Constitution were, so long 
as they retained that attitude, free from its obligations. Thus 
it is seen that the same principle in regard to obtaining grants 
of additional power for the Federal Government formed the 
rule for the Union as it had done for the Confederation ; that 
is, that the consent of each and every State was a prerequisite. 
The apprehension which justly existed that several of the States 
might reject the Constitution, and under the rule of unanimity 
defeat it, led to the seventh article of the Constitution, which 
provided that the ratification by the conventions of nine States 
should be sufficient for the establishment of the Constitution 


between the States ratifying it, which of course contemplated 
leaving the others, more or less in number, separate and dis- 
tinct from the nine States forming a new government. Thus 
was the Union to be a voluntary compact, and all the powers of 
its government to be derived from the assent of each of its 

These powers as proposed by the Constitution were so ex- 
tensive as to create alarm and opposition by some of the most 
influential men in many of the States. It is known that the 
objection of the patriot Samuel Adams was only overcome by 
an assurance that such an amendment as the tenth would be 
adopted. Like opposition was by like assurance elsewhere over- 
come. That article is in these words : " The powers not dele- 
gated, to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited 
by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to 
the people." 

Amendment, however, of the delegated powers was made 
more easy than it had been under the Confederation. Ratifi- 
cation by three fourths of the States was sufficient under the 
Constitution for the adoption of an amendment to it. As this 
power of amendment threatens to be the Aaron's rod which 
will swallow up the rest, I propose to give it special examina- 
tion. "What is the Constitution of the United States? The 
whole body of the instrument, the history of its formation and 
adoption, as well as the tenth amendment, added in an abun- 
dance of caution, clearly show it to be an instrument enumerat- 
ing the powers delegated by the States to the Federal Govern- 
ment, their common agent. It is specifically declared that all 
which was not so delegated was reserved. On this mass of re- 
served powers, those which the States declined to grant, the 
Federal Government was expressly forbidden to intrude. Of 
what value would this prohibition have been, if three fourths 
of the States could, without the assent of a particular State, 
invade the domain which that State had reserved for its own 
exclusive use and control ? 

It has heretofore, I hope, been satisfactorily demonstrated 
that the States were sovereigns before they formed the Union, 
and that they have never surrendered their sovereignty, but 


have only intrusted to their common agent certain functions of 
sovereignty to be used for their common welfare. 

Among the powers delegated was one to amend the Consti- 
tution, which, it is submitted, was merely the power to amend 
the delegated grants, and these were obtained by the separate 
and independent action of each State acceding to the Union. 
When we consider how carefully each clause was discussed in 
the General Convention, and how closely each was scrutinized 
in the conventions of the several States, the conclusion can not 
be avoided that all was specified which it was intended to be- 
stow, and not a few of the wisest in that day held that too much 
power had been conferred. 

Aware of the imperfection of everything devised by man, 
it was foreseen that, in the exercise of the functions intrusted 
to the General Government, experience might reveal the neces- 
sity of modification — i. e., amendment — and power was therefore 
given to amend, in a certain manner, the delegated trusts so as 
to make them efficient for the purposes designed, or to prevent 
their misconstruction or abuse to the injury or oppression of any 
of the people. In support of this view I refer to the historical 
fact that the first ten amendments of the Constitution, nearly 
coeval with it, all refer either to the powers delegated, or are 
directed to the greater security of the rights which were guarded 
by express limitations. 

The distinction in the mind of the framers of the Constitu- 
tion between amendment and delegation of power seems to me 
clearly drawn by the fact that the Constitution itself, which 
was a proposition to the States to grant enumerated powers, 
was only to have effect between the ratifying States ; but the 
fifth article provided that amendments to the Constitution 
might be adopted by three fourths of the States, and thereby 
be valid as part of the Constitution. It thus appears that a 
smaller power was required for an amendment than for a grant? 
and the natural if not necessary conclusion is, that it was be- 
cause an amendment must belong to, and grow out of, a grant 
previously made. If a so-called amendment could have been 
the means of obtaining a new power, is it to be supposed that 
those watchful guardians of community independence, for which 


the war of the Revolution had been fought, would have been 
reconciled to the adoption of the Constitution, by the declara- 
tion that the powers not delegated are reserved to the States ? 
Unless the power of amendment be confined to the grants of 
the Constitution, there can be no security to the reserved rights 
of a minority less than a fourth of the States. I submit that 
the word " amendment " necessarily implies an improvement 
upon something which is possessed, and can have no proper 
application to that which did not previously exist. 

The apprehension that was felt of this power of amendment 
by the framers of the Constitution is shown by the restrictions 
placed upon the exercise of several of the delegated powers. 
For example : power was given to admit new States, but no 
new State should be erected within the jurisdiction of any other 
State, nor be formed by the junction of two or more States, or 
parts of States, without the consent of the Legislatures of those 
States ; and the power to regulate commerce was limited by 
the prohibition of an amendment affecting, for a certain time, 
the migration or importation of persons whom any of the exist- 
ing States should think proper to admit ; and by the very im- 
portant provision for the protection of the smaller States and 
the preservation of their equality in the Union, that the com- 
pact in regard to the membership of the two Houses of Con- 
gress should not be so amended that any " State, without its 
consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." 
These limitations and prohibitions on the power of amendment 
all refer to clauses of the Constitution, to things which existed 
as part of the General Government ; they were not needed, and 
therefore not to be found in relation to the reserved powers of 
the States, on which the General Government was forbidden to 
intrude by the ninth article of the amendments. 

In view of the small territory of the New England States, 
comparatively to that of the Middle and Southern States, and 
the probability of the creation of new States in the large Terri- 
tory of some of these latter, it might well have been anticipated 
that in the course of time the New England States would be- 
come less than one fourth of the members of the Union. No- 
thing is less likely than that the watchful patriots of that region 


would have consented to a form of government which should 
give to a majority of three fourths of the States the power to 
deprive them of their dearest rights and privileges. Yet to 
this extremity the new-born theory of the power of amendment 
would go. Against this insidious assault, this wooden horse 
which it is threatened to introduce into the citadel of our liber- 
ties, I have sought to warn the inheritors of our free institu- 
tions, and earnestly do invoke the resistance of all true patriots. 




Opening of the New Year.— -The People in Advance of their Representatives. — Con- 
ciliatory Conduct of Southern Members of Congress. — Sensational Fictions. — 
Misstatements of the Count of Paris. — Obligations of a Senator. — The South- 
ern Forts and Arsenals. — Pensacola Bay and Fort Pickens. — The Alleged " Cau- 
cus" and its Resolutions. — Personal Motives and Feelings. — The Presidency 
not a Desirable Office. — Letter from the Hon. C. C. Clay. 

"With the failure of the Senate Committee of Thirteen to 
come to any agreement, the last reasonable hope of a pacific 
settlement of difficulties within the Union was extinguished in 
the minds of those most reluctant to abandon the effort. The 
year 1861 opened, as we have seen, upon the spectacle of a 
general belief, among the people of the planting States, in the 
necessity of an early secession, as the only possible alternative 
left them. 

It has already been shown that the calmness and deliberation, 
with which the measures requisite for withdrawal were adopted 
and executed, afford the best refutation of the charge that they 
were the result of haste, passion, or precipitation. Still more 
contrary to truth is the assertion, so often recklessly made and 
reiterated, that the people of the South were led into secession, 
against their will and their better judgment, by a few ambitious 
and discontented politicians. 

The truth is, that the Southern people were in advance of 
their representatives throughout, and that these latter were not 


agitators or leaders in the popular movement. They were in 
harmony with its great principles, but their influence, with very 
few exceptions, was exerted to restrain rather than to accelerate 
their application, and to allay rather than to stimulate excite- 
ment. As sentinels on the outer wall, the people had a right to 
look to them for warning of approaching danger ; but, as we 
have seen, in that last session of the last Congress that preceded 
the disruption, Southern Senators, of the class generally consid- 
ered extremists, served on a committee of pacification, and strove 
earnestly to promote its objects. Failing in this, they still exert- 
ed themselves to prevent the commission of any act that might 
result in bloodshed. 

Invention has busied itself, to the exhaustion of its re- 
sources, in the creation of imaginary " cabals," " conspiracies," 
and " intrigues," among the Senators and Representatives of the 
South on duty in Washington at that time. The idle gossip 
of the public hotels, the sensational rumors of the streets, the 
canards of newspaper correspondents — whatever was floating 
through the atmosphere of that anxious period — however lightly 
regarded at the moment by the more intelligent, has since been 
drawn upon for materials to be used in the construction of 
what has been widely accepted as authentic history. Nothing 
would seem to be too absurd for such uses. Thus, it has been 
gravely stated that a caucus of Southern Senators, held in the 
early part of January, "resolved to assume to themselves the 
political power of the South " ; that they took entire control of 
all political and military operations; that they issued instruc- 
tions for the passage of ordinances of secession, and for the seiz- 
ure of forts, arsenals, and custom-houses ; with much more of 
the like groundless fiction. A foreign prince, who served for 
a time in the Federal Army, and has since undertaken to write 
a history of " The Civil War in America " — a history the in- 
comparable blunders of which are redeemed from suspicion of 
willful misstatement only by the writer's ignorance of the subject 
— speaks of the Southern representatives as having " kept their 
seats in Congress in order to be able to paralyze its action, form- 
ing, at the same time, a center whence they issued directions 
to their friends in the South to complete the dismemberment of 


the republic." * And again, with reference to the secession of 
several States, he says that " the word of command issued by 
the committee at Washington was promptly obeyed." f 

Statements such as these are a travesty upon history. That 
the representatives of the South held conference with one another 
and took counsel together, as men having common interests and 
threatened by common dangers, is true, and is the full extent 
of the truth. That they communicated to friends at home in- 
formation of what was passing is to be presumed, and would 
have been most obligatory if it had not been that the published 
proceedings rendered such communication needless. But that 
any such man, or committee of men, should have undertaken to 
direct the mighty movement then progressing throughout the 
South, or to control, through the telegraph and the mails, the 
will and the judgment of conventions of the people, assembled 
under the full consciousness of the dignity of that sovereignty 
which they represented, would have been an extraordinary 
degree of folly and presumption. 

The absurdity of the statement is further evident from a 
consideration of the fact that the movements which culminated 
in the secession of the several States began before the meeting 
of Congress. They were not inaugurated, prosecuted, or con- 
trolled by the Senators and Representatives in Congress, but by 
the Governors, Legislatures, and finally by the delegates of the 
people in conventions of the respective States. I believe I 
may fairly claim to have possessed a full share of the confidence 
of the people of the State which I in part represented; and 
proof has already been furnished to show how little effect my 
own influence could have upon their action, even in the nega- 
tive capacity of a brake upon the wheels, by means of which it 
was hurried on to consummation. 

As for the imputation of holding our seats as a vantage- 
ground in plotting for the dismemberment of the Union — in 
connection with which the Count of Paris does me the honor to 
single out my name for special mention — it is a charge so dis- 
honorable, if true, to its object — so disgraceful, if false, to its 

* "History of the Civil War/'^by the Count of Paris; American translation, 
vol. i, p. 122. f Ibid., p. 125. 


author — as to be outside of the proper limit of discussion. It 
is a charge which no accuser ever made in my presence, though 
I had in public debate more than once challenged its assertion 
and denounced its falsehood. It is enough to say that I always 
held, and repeatedly avowed, the principle that a Senator in 
Congress occupied the position of an ambassador from the State 
which he represented to the Government of the United States, 
as well as in some sense a member of the Government ; and 
that, in either capacity, it would be dishonorable to use his pow- 
ers and privileges for the destruction or for the detriment of 
the Government to which he was accredited. Acting on this 
principle, as long as I held a seat in the Senate, my best efforts 
were directed to the maintenance of the Constitution, the Union 
resulting from it, and to make the General Government an effec- 
tive agent of the States for its prescribed purpose. As soon as 
the paramount allegiance due to Mississippi forbade a continu- 
ance of these efforts, I withdrew from the position. To say 
that during this period I did nothing secretly, in conflict with 
what was done or professed openly, would be merely to assert 
my own integrity, which would be worthless to those who may 
doubt it, and superfluous to those who believe in it. What has 
been said on the subject for myself, I believe to be also true of 
my Southern associates in Congress. 

"With regard to the forts, arsenals, etc., something more re- 
mains to be said. The authorities of the Southern States im- 
mediately after, and in some cases a few days before, their act- 
ual secession, took possession (in every instance without resist- 
ance or bloodshed) of forts, arsenals, custom-houses, and other 
public property within their respective limits. I do not pro- 
pose at this time to consider the question of their right to do 
so ; that may be more properly done hereafter. But it may not 
be out of place briefly to refer to the statement, often made, 
that the absence of troops from the military posts in the South, 
which enabled the States so quietly to take such possession, 
was the result of collusion and prearrangement between the 
Southern leaders and the Federal Secretary of War, John B. 
Floyd, of Yirginia. It is a sufficient answer to this allegation 
to state the fact that the absence of troops from these posts, in- 


stead of being exceptional, was, and still is, their ordinary con- 
dition in time of peace. At the very moment when these sen- 
tences are being written (in 1880), although the army of the 
United States is twice as large as in 1860 ; although four years 
of internal war and a yet longer period of subsequent military 
occupation of the South have habituated the public to the pres- 
ence of troops in their midst, to an extent that would formerly 
have been startling if not offensive; although allegations of 
continued disaffection on the part of the Southern people have 
been persistently reiterated, for party purposes — yet it is be- 
lieved that the forts and arsenals in the States of the Gulf are 
in as defenseless a condition, and as liable to quiet seizure (if 
any such purpose existed), as in the beginning of the year 1861. 
Certainly, those within the range of my personal information 
are occupied, as they were at that time, only by ordnance- 
sergeants or fort-keepers. 

There were, however, some exceptions to this general rule — 
especially in the defensive works of the harbor of Charleston, 
the forts at Key "West and the Dry Tortugas, and those protect- 
ing the entrance of Pensacola Bay. The events which occurred 
in Charleston Harbor will be more conveniently noticed here- 
after. The island forts near the extreme southern point of 
Florida were too isolated and too remote from population to be 
disturbed at that time ; but the situation long maintained at the 
mouth of Pensacola Bay affords a signal illustration of the for- 
bearance and conciliatory spirit that animated Southern counsels. 
For a long time, Fort Pickens, on the island of Santa Posa, at 
the entrance to the harbor, was occupied only by a small body 
of Federal soldiers and marines — less than one hundred, all told. 
Immediately opposite, and in possession of the other two forts 
and the adjacent navy-yard, was a strong force of volunteer 
troops of Florida and Alabama (which might, on short notice, 
have been largely increased), ready and anxious to attack and 
take possession of Fort Pickens. That they could have done so 
is unquestionable, and, if mere considerations of military advan- 
tage had been consulted, it would surely have been done. But 
the love of peace and the purpose to preserve it, together with a 
revulsion from the thought of engaging in fraternal strife, were 


more potent than considerations of probable interest. During 
the anxions period of uncertainty and apprehension which en- 
sued, the efforts of the Southern Senators in Washington were 
employed to dissuade (they could not command} from any ag- 
gressive movement, however justifiable, that might lead to 
collision. These efforts were exerted through written and tele- 
graphic communications to the Governors of Alabama and 
Florida, the Commander of the Southern troops, and other in- 
fluential persons near the scene of operations. The records of 
the telegraph-office, if preserved, will no doubt show this to be 
a very moderate statement of those efforts. It is believed that 
by such influence alone a collision was averted ; and it is certain 
that its exercise gave great dissatisfaction at the time to some of 
the ardent advocates of more active measures. It may be that 
they were right, and that we, who counseled delay and forbear- 
ance, were wrong. Certainly, if we could have foreseen the ulti- 
mate failure of all efforts for a peaceful settlement, and the per- 
fidy that was afterward to be practiced in connection with them, 
our advice would have been different. 

Certain resolutions, said to have been adopted in a meeting of 
Senators held on the evening of the 5th of January,* have been 
magnified, by the representations of artful commentators on the 
events of the period, into something vastly momentous. 

The significance of these resolutions was the admission that 
we could not longer advise delay, and even that was unimpor- 

* Subjoined are the resolutions referred to, adopted by the Senators from Geor- 
gia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. Messrs. Toombs, 
of Georgia, and Sebastian, of Arkansas, are said to have been absent from the meet- 

" Resolved, That, in our opinion, each of the States should, as soon as may be, 
secede from the Union. 

" Resolved, That provision should be made for a convention to organize a con- 
federacy of the seceding States: the Convention to meet not later than the 15th of 
February, at the city of Montgomery, in the State of Alabama. 

" Resolved, That, in view of the hostile legislation that is threatened against the 
seceding States, and which may be consummated before the 4th of March, we ask 
instructions whether the delegations are to remain in Congress until that date, for the 
purpose of defeating such legislation. 

" Resolved, That a committee be and are hereby appointed, consisting of Messrs. 
Davis, Slidell, and Mallory, to carry out the objects of this meeting." 


tant under the circumstances, for three of the States concerned 
had taken final action on the subject before the resolutions 
could have been communicated to them. As an expression of 
opinion, they merely stated that of which we had all become 
convinced by the experience of the previous month — that our 
long-cherished hopes had proved illusory — that further efforts 
in Congress would be unavailing, and that nothing remained, 
except that the States should take the matter into their own 
hands, as final judges of their wrongs and of the measure of 
redress. They recommended the formation of a confederacy 
among the seceding States as early as possible after their seces- 
sion — advice the expediency of which could hardly be ques- 
tioned, either by friend or foe. As to the " instructions " asked 
for with regard to the propriety of continuing to hold their 
seats, I suppose it must have been caused by some diversity of 
opinion which then and long afterward continued to exist ; and 
the practical value of which must have been confined to Sena- 
tors of States which did not actually secede. For myself, I can 
only say that no advice could have prevailed on me to hold a 
seat in the Senate after receiving notice that Mississippi had 
withdrawn from the Union. The best evidence that my associ- 
ates thought likewise is the fact that, although no instructions 
were given them, they promptly withdrew on the receipt of offi- 
cial information of the withdrawal of the States which they rep- 

It will not be amiss here briefly to state what were my posi- 
tion and feelings at the period now under consideration, as they 
have been the subject of gross and widespread misrepresenta- 
tion. It is not only untrue, but absurd, to attribute to me mo- 
tives of personal ambition to be gratified by a dismemberment 
of the Union. Much of my life had been spent in the military 
and civil service of the United States. Whatever reputation I 
had acquired was identified with their history ; and, if future 
preferment had been the object, it would have led me to cling 
to the Union as long as a shred of it should remain. If any, 
judging after the event, should assume that I was allured by 
the high office subsequently conferred upon me by the people 
of the Confederate States, the answer to any such conclusion 


has been made by others, to whom it was well known, before 
the Confederacy was formed, that I had no desire to be its 
President. When the suggestion was made to me, I expressed 
a decided objection, and gave reasons of a public and permanent 
character against being placed in that position. 

Furthermore, I then held the office of United States Sena- 
tor from Mississippi — one which I preferred to all others. The 
kindness of the people had three times conferred it upon me, 
and I had no reason to fear that it would not be given again, as 
often as desired. So far from wishing to change this position 
for any other, I had specially requested my friends (some of 
whom had thought of putting me in nomination for the Presi- 
dency of the United States in 1860) not to permit "my name 
to be used before the Convention for any nomination what- 

I had been so near the office for four years, while in the 
Cabinet of Mr. Pierce, that I saw it from behind the scenes, and 
it was to me an office in no wise desirable. The responsibilities 
were great ; the labor, the vexations, the disappointments, were 
greater. Those who have intimately known the official and 
personal life of our Presidents can not fail to remember how 
few have left the office as happy men as when they entered it, 
how darkly the shadows gathered around the setting sun, aud 
how eagerly the multitude would turn to gaze upon another orb 
just rising to take its place in the political firmament. 

Worn by incessant fatigue, broken in fortune, debarred by 
public opinion, prejudice, or tradition, from future employment, 
the wisest and best who have filled that office have retired to 
private life, to remember rather the failure of their hopes than 
the success of their efforts. He must, indeed, be a self-confi- 
dent man who could hope to fill the chair of Washington with 
satisfaction to himself, with the assurance of receiving on his 
retirement the meed awarded by the people to that great man, 
that he had " lived enough for life and for glory," or even of 
feeling that the sacrifice of self had been compensated by the 
service rendered to his country. 

The following facts were presented in a letter written sev- 
eral years ago by the Hon. C. C. Clay, of Alabama, who was 


one of my most intimate associates in the Senate, with refer- 
ence to certain misstatements to which his attention had been 
called by one of my friends : 

" The import is, that Mr. Davis, disappointed and chagrined at 
not receiving the nomination of the Democratic party for Presi- 
dent of the United States in 1860, took the lead on the assembling 
of Congress in December, 1860, in a * conspiracy ' of Southern Sena- 
tors * which planned the secession of the Southern States from the 
Union,' and * on the night of January 5, 1861, . . . framed the 
scheme of revolution which was implicitly and promptly followed 
at the South.' In other words, that Southern Senators (and, chief 
among them, Jefferson Davis), then and there, instigated and in- 
duced the Southern States to secede. 

" I am quite sure that Mr. Davis neither expected nor desired 
the nomination for the Presidency of the United States in 1860. 
He never evinced any such aspiration, by word or sign, to me — 
with whom he was, I believe, as intimate and confidential as with 
any person outside of his own family. On the contrary, he re- 
quested the delegation from Mississippi not to permit the use of 
his name before the Convention. And, after the nomination of 
both Douglas and Breckinridge, he conferred with them, at the 
instance of leading Democrats, to persuade them to withdraw, 
that their friends might unite on some second choice — an office he 
would never have undertaken, had he sought the nomination or 
believed he was regarded as an aspirant. 

" Mr. Davis did not take an active part in planning or hasten- 
ing secession. I think he only regretfully consented to it, as a 
political necessity for the preservation of popular and State rights, 
which were seriously threatened by the triumph of a sectional 
party who were pledged to make war on them. I know that some 
leading men, and even Mississippians, thought him too moderate 
and backward, and found fault with him for not taking a leading 
part in secession. 

" ~No ( plan of secession ' or ' scheme of revolution' was, to my 
knowledge, discussed — certainly none matured — at the caucus, 5th 
of January, 1861, unless, forsooth, the resolutions appended hereto 
be so held. They comprise the sum and substance of what was 
said and done. I never heard that the caucus advised the South 
6 to accumulate munitions of war,' or ' to organize and equip an 


army of one hundred thousand men,' or determined 'to hold on as 
long as possible to the Southern seats.' So far from it, a majority 
of Southern Senators seemed to think there would be no war ; 
that the dominant party in the North desired separation from the 
South, and would gladly let their * erring sisters go in peace.' I 
could multiply proofs of such a disposition. As to holding on 
to their seats, no Southern Legislature advised it, no Southern Sen- 
ator who favored secession did so but one, and none others wished 
to do so, I believe. 

" The ' plan of secession,' if any, and the purpose of secession, 
unquestionably, originated, not in Washington City, or with the 
Senators or Representatives of the South, but among the people 
of the several States, many months before it was attempted. They 
followed no leaders at Washington or elsewhere, but acted for 
themselves, with an independence and unanimity unprecedented in 
any movement of such magnitude. Before the meeting of the 
caucus of January 5, 1861, South Carolina had seceded, and Ala- 
bama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas had taken the 
initial step of secession, by calling conventions for its accomplish- 
ment. Before the election of Lincoln, all the Southern States, 
excepting one or two, had pledged themselves to separate from 
the Union upon the triumph of a sectional party in the Presiden- 
tial election, by acts or resolutions of their Legislatures, resolves of 
both Democratic and Whig State Conventions, and of primary as- 
semblies of the people — in every way in which they could commit 
themselves to any future act. Their purpose was proclaimed to 
the world through the press and telegraph, and criticised in Con- 
gress, in the Northern Legislatures, in press and pulpit, and on the 
hustings, during many months before Congress met in December, 

"Over and above all these facts, the reports of the United 
States Senate show that, prior to the 5th of January, 1861, South- 
ern Senators united with Northern Democratic Senators in an 
effort to effect pacification and prevent secession, and that Jeffer- 
son Davis was one of a committee appointed by the Senate to con- 
sider and report such a measure ; that it failed because the North- 
ern Republicans opposed everything that looked to peace ; that 
Senator Douglas arraigned them as trying to precipitate secession, 
referred to Jefferson Davis as one who sought conciliation, and 
called upon the Republican Senators to tell what they would do, 


if anything, to restore harmony and prevent disunion. They did 
not even deign a response. Thus, by their sullen silence, they 
made confession (without avoidance) of their stubborn purpose to 
hold up no hand raised to maintain the Union. . . ." 


Tenure of Public Property ceded by the States. — Sovereignty and Eminent Domain. 
— Principles asserted by Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and other States. — 
The Charleston Forts. — South Carolina sends Commissioners to Washington. — 
Sudden Movement of Major Anderson. — Correspondence of the Commissioners 
with the President. — Interviews of the Author with Mr. Buchanan. — Major An- 
derson, — The Star of the West. — The President's Special Message. — Speech of 
the Author in the Senate. — Further Proceedings and Correspondence relative to 
Fort Sumter. — Mr. Buchanan's Rectitude in Purpose and Vacillation in Action. 

The sites of forts, arsenals, navy-yards, and other public 
property of the Federal Government were ceded by the States, 
within whose limits they were, subject to the condition, either 
expressed or implied, that they should be used solely and exclu- 
sively for the purposes for which they were granted. The ulti- 
mate ownership of the soil, or eminent domain, remains with 
the people of the State in which, it lies, by virtue of their sov- 
ereignty. Thus, the State of Massachusetts has declared that— 

" The sovereignty and jurisdiction of the Commonwealth ex- 
tend to all places within the boundaries thereof, subject only to 
such rights of concurrent jurisdiction as have been or may be 
granted over any places ceded by the Commonwealth to the United 
States." * 

In the acts of cession of the respective States, the terms and 
conditions on which the grant is made are expressed in various 
forms and with differing degrees of precision. The act of New 
York, granting the use of a site for the Brooklyn Navy- Yard, 
may serve as a specimen. It contains this express condition : 

" The United States are to retain such use and jurisdiction, so 
long as said tract shall be applied to the defense and safety of the 

* " Revised Statutes of Massachusetts," 1836, p. 56. 


city and port of New York, and no longer. . . . But the jurisdic- 
tion hereby ceded, and the exemption from taxation herein grant- 
ed, shall continue in respect to said property, and to each portion 
thereof, so long as the same shall remain the property of the 
United States, and be used for the purposes aforesaid, a?id no 
longer" The cession of the site of the Watervliet Arsenal is made 
in the same or equivalent terms, except that, instead of " defense 
and safety of the city and port of New York," etc., the language 
is, " defense and safety of the said State, and no longer." 

South Carolina in 1805, by legislative enactment, ceded to 
the United States, in Charleston Harbor and on Beaufort River, 
various forts and fortifications, and sites for the erection of 

forts, on the following conditions, viz. : 


" That, if the United States shall not, within three years from 
the passing of this act, and notification thereof by the Governor 
of this State to the Executive of the United States, repair the 
fortifications now existing thereon or build such other forts or 
fortifications as may be deemed most expedient by the Executive 
of the United States on the same, and keep a garrison or garrisons 
therein ; in such case this grant or cession shall be void and of no 
effect." — (" Statutes at Large of South Carolina," vol. v, p. 501.) 

It will hardly be contended that the conditions of this grant 
were fulfilled, and, if it be answered that the State did not 
demand the restoration of the forts or sites, the answer cer- 
tainly fails after 1860, when the controversy arose, and the un- 
founded assertion was made that those forts and sites had been 
purchased with the money, and were therefore the property, of 
the United States. The terms of the cession sufficiently mani- 
fest that they were free-will offerings of such forts and sites as 
belonged to the State ; and public functionaries were bound to 
know that, by the United States law of March 20, 1794, it was 
provided " that no purchase shall be made where such lands 
are the property of a State." — (Act to provide for the defense 
of certain ports and harbors of the United States.) 

The stipulations made by Virginia, in ceding the ground 
for Fortress Monroe and the Eip Raps, on the 1st of March, 
1821, are as follows : 


u An Act ceding to the United States the lands on Old Point Comfort, and 
the shoal called the Rip Raps. 

" Whereas, It is shown to the present General Assembly that 
the Government of the United States is solicitous that certain 
lands at Old Point Comfort, and at the shoal called the Rip Raps, 
should be, with the right of property and entire jurisdiction there- 
on, vested in the said United States for the purpose of fortifica- 
tion and other objects of national defense : 

" 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That it shall be 
lawful and proper for the Governor of this Commonwealth, by 
conveyance or deeds in writing under his hand and the seal of the 
State, to transfer, assign, and make over unto the said United 
States the right of property and title, as well as all the jurisdic- 
tion which this Commonwealth possesses over the lands and shoal 
at Old toint Comfort and the Rip Raps : . . . 

"2. And be it further enacted, That, should the said United 
States at any time abandon the said lands and shoal, or appro- 
priate them to any other purposes than those indicated in the pre- 
amble to this act, that then, and in that case, the same shall revert 
to and revest in this Commonwealth.'''' * 

By accepting such grants, under such conditions, the Gov- 
ernment of the United States assented to their propriety, and 
the principle that holds good in any one case is of course appli- 
cable to all others of the same sort, whether expressly asserted 
in the act of cession or not. Indeed, no express declaration 
would be necessary to establish a conclusion resulting so directly 
from the nature of the case, and the settled principles of sov- 
ereignty and eminent domain. 

A State withdrawing from the Union would necessarily as- 
sume the control theretofore exercised by the General Govern- 
ment over all public defenses and other public property within 
her limits. It would, however, be but fair and proper that ade- 
quate compensation should be made to the other members of 
the partnership, or their common agent, for the value of the 
works and for any other advantage obtained by the one party, 
or loss incurred by the other. Such equitable settlement, the 
seceding States of the South, without exception, as I believe, 

* See " Revised Statutes of Virginia." 


were desirous to make, and prompt to propose to the Federal 

On the secession of South Carolina, the condition of the de- 
fenses of Charleston Harbor became a subject of anxiety with 
all parties. Of the three forts in or at the entrance of the har- 
bor, two were unoccupied, but the third (Fort Moultrie) was held 
bj a garrison of but little more than one hundred men — of 
whom only sixty-three were said to be effectives — under com- 
mand of Major Robert Anderson, of the First Artillery. 

About twelve days before the secession of South Carolina, 
the representatives in Congress from that State had called on the 
President to assure him, in anticipation of the secession of the 
State, that no purpose was entertained by South Carolina to 
attack, or in any way molest, the forts held by the United States 
in the harbor of Charleston — at least until opportunity could be 
had for an amicable settlement of all questions that might arise 
with regard to these forts and other public property — provided 
that no reinforcements should be sent, and the militarv status 
should be permitted to remain unchanged. The South Carolin- 
ians understood Mr. Buchanan as approving of this suggestion, 
although declining to make any formal pledge. 

It appears, nevertheless, from subsequent developments, that 
both before and after the secession of South Carolina prepara- 
tions were secretly made for reenforcing Major Anderson, in 
case it should be deemed necessary by the Government at 
Washington.* On the 11th of December instructions were 
communicated to him, from the War Department, of which the 
following is the essential part : 

" You are carefully to avoid every act which would needlessly 
tend to provoke aggression ; and for that reason you are not, with- 
out evident and imminent necessity, to take up any position which 
could be construed into the assumption of a hostile attitude, but 
you are to hold possession of the forts in this harbor, and, if at- 
tacked, 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 attempt to 
take possession of either of them, will be regarded as an act of 

* "Buchanan's Administration," chap, ix, p. 1G5, and chap, xi, pp. 212-214. 


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." * 

These instructions were afterward modified — as we are in- 
formed by Mr. Buchanan — so as, instead of requiring him to 
defend himself " to the last extremity," to direct him to do so 
as long as any reasonable hope remained of saving the fort.f 

Immediately after the secession of the State, the Convention 
of South Carolina deputed three distinguished citizens of that 
State — Messrs. Robert W. Barnwell, James H. Adams, and 
James L. Orr — to proceed to Washington, " to treat with the 
Government of the United States for the delivery of the forts, 
magazines, lighthouses, and other real estate, with their appur- 
tenances, within the limits of South Carolina, and also for an 
apportionment of the public debt, and for a division of all other 
property held by the Government of the United States, as agent 
of the confederated States, of which South Carolina was recently 
a member ; and generally to negotiate as to all other measures 
and arrangements proper to be made and adopted in the exist- 
ing relation of the parties, and for the continuance of peace and 
amity between this Commonwealth and the Government at 

The Commissioners, in the discharge of the duty intrusted 
to them, arrived in Washington on the 26th of December. 
Before they could communicate with the President, however — 
indeed, on the morning after their arrival — they w^ere startled, 
and the whole country electrified, by the news that, during the 
previous night, Major Anderson had " secretly dismantled Fort 
Moultrie," J spiked his guns, burned his gun-carriages, and re- 
moved his command to Fort Sumter, which occupied a more 
commanding position in the harbor. This movement changed 
the whole aspect of affairs. It was considered by the Govern- 
ment and people of South Carolina as a violation of the implied 
pledge of a maintenance of the status quo ; the remaining forts 

* "Buchanan's Administration," chap, ix, p. 166. f Ibid. 

\ Ibid., chap, x, p. 180. 


and other public property were at once taken possession of by 
the State ; and the condition of pnblic f eeling^became greatly ex- 
acerbated. An interview between the President and the Com- 
missioners was followed by a sharp correspondence, which was ter- 
minated on the 1st of January, 1861, by the return to the Com- 
missioners of their final communication, with an endorsement 
stating that it was of such a character that the President declined 
to receive it. The negotiations were thus abruptly broken off. 
This correspondence may be found in the Appendix.* 

In the mean time, Mr. Cass, Secretary of State, had resigned 
his position early in December, on the ground of the refusal of 
the President to send reinforcements to Charleston. On the oc- 
cupation of Fort Sumter by Major Anderson, Mr. Ployd, Secre- 
tary of War, taking the ground that it was virtually a violation of 
a pledge given or implied by the Government, had asked that 
the garrison should be entirely withdrawn from the harbor of 
Charleston, and, on the refusal of the President to consent to this, 
had tendered his resignation, which was promptly accepted. f 

This is believed to be a correct outline of the earlier facts 
with regard to the Charleston forts, and in giving it I have done 
so, as far as possible, without prejudice, or any expression of 
opinion upon the motives of the actors. 

The kind relations, both personal and political, which had 
long existed between Mr. Buchanan and myself, had led him, 
occasionally, during his presidency, to send for me to confer 
with him on subjects that caused him anxiety, and warranted 
me in sometimes calling upon him to offer my opinion on mat- 
ters of special interest or importance. Thus it was that I had 
communicated with him freely in regard to the threatening 
aspect of events in the earlier part of the winter of 1860-61. 
When he told me of the work that had been done, or was doing, 
at Fort Moultrie — that is, the elevation of its parapet by crown- 
ing it with barrels of sand — I pointed out to him the impolicy 
as well as inefficiency of the measure. It seemed to me im- 
politic to make ostensible preparations for defense, when no 
attack was threatened ; and the means adopted were inefficient, 
because any ordinary field-piece would knock the barrels off the 

* See Appendix G. f " Buchanan's Administration," chap, x, pp. 187, 188. 


parapet, and thus to render them only hurtful to the defenders. 
He inquired whether the expedient had not been successful at 
Fort Brown, on the liio Grande, in the beginning of the Mexi- 
can war, and was answered that the attack on Fort Brown had 
been made with small-arms, or at great distance. 

After the removal of the garrison to the stronger and safer 
position of Fort Sumter, I called upon him again to represent, 
from my knowledge of the people and the circumstances of the 
case, how productive the movement would be of discontent, and 
how likely to lead to collision. One of the vexed questions of 
the day was, by what authority the collector of the port should 
be appointed, and the rumor was, that instructions had been 
given to the commanding officer at Fort Sumter not to allow 
vessels to pass, unless under clearance from the United States 
collector. It was easy to understand that, if a vessel were fired 
upon under such circumstances, it would be accepted as the 
beginning of hostilities — a result which both he and I de- 
sired to avert, as the greatest calamity that could be foreseen 
or imagined. My opinion was, that the wisest and best course 
would be to withdraw the garrison altogether from the harbor 
of Charleston. 

The President's objection to this was, that it was his boun- 
den duty to preserve and protect the property of the United 
States. To this I replied, with all the earnestness the occa- 
sion demanded, that I would pledge my life that, if an inventory 
were taken of all the stores and munitions in the fort, and an 
ordnance-sergeant with a few men left in charge of them, they 
would not be disturbed. As a further guarantee, I offered to 
obtain from the Governor of South Carolina full assurance that, 
in case any marauders or lawless combination of persons should 
attempt to seize or disturb the property, he would send from 
the citadel of Charleston an adequate guard to protect it and to 
secure its keepers against molestation. 

The President promised me to reflect upon this proposition, 
and to confer with his Cabinet upon the propriety of adopting 
it. All Cabinet consultations are secret ; which is equivalent to 
saying that I never knew what occurred in that meeting to 
which my proposition was submitted. The result was not com- 


municated to ine, but the events which followed proved that the 
suggestion was not accepted. 

Major Anderson, who commanded the garrison, had many 
ties and associations that bound him to the South. He per- 
formed his part like the true soldier and man of the finest sense 
of honor that he was ; but that it was most painful to him to be 
charged with the duty of holding the fort as a threat to the 
people of Charleston is a fact known to many others as well as 
to myself. We had been cadets together. He was my first 
acquaintance in that corps, and the friendship then formed was 
never interrupted. We had served together in the summer and 
autumn of 1860, in a commission of inquiry into the discipline, 
course of studies, and general condition of the United States 
Military Academy. At the close of our labors the commission 
had adjourned, to meet again in Washington about the end of 
the ensuing November, to examine the report and revise it for 
transmission to Congress. Major Anderson's duties in Charles- 
ton Harbor hindered him from attending this adjourned meeting 
of the commission, and he wrote to me, its chairman, to explain 
the cause of his absence. That letter was lost when my library 
and private papers were " captured " from my home in Missis- 
sippi. If any one has preserved it as a trophy of war, its publi- 
cation would show how bright was the honor, how broad the pa- 
triotism of Major Anderson, and how fully he sympathized with 
me as to the evils which then lowered over the country. 

In comparing the past and the present among the mighty 
changes which passion and sectional hostility have wrought, one 
is profoundly and painfully impressed by the extent to which 
public opinion has drifted from the landmarks set up by the 
sages and patriots who formed the constitutional Union, and 
observed by those who administered its government down to the 
time when war between the States was inaugurated. Mr. Bu- 
chanan, the last President of the old school, would as soon have 
thought of aiding in the establishment of a monarchy among us 
as of accepting the doctrine of coercing the States into submis- 
sion to the will of a majority, in mass, of the people of the Uni- 
ted States. When discussing the question of withdrawing the 
troops from the port of Charleston, he yielded a ready assent to 


the proposition that the cession of a site for a fort, for purposes 
of public defense, lapses, whenever that fort should be employed 
by the grantee against the State by which the cession was made, 
on the familiar principle that any grant for a specific purpose 
expires when it ceases to be used for that purpose. Whether 
on this or any other ground, if the garrison of Fort Sumter had 
been withdrawn in accordance with the spirit of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, from which the power to apply coer- 
cion to a State was deliberately and designedly excluded, and 
if this had been distinctly assigned as a reason for its with- 
drawal, the honor of the United States Government would have 
been maintained intact, and nothing could have operated more 
powerfully to quiet the apprehensions and allay the resentment 
of the people of South Carolina. The influence which such a 
measure would have exerted upon the States which had not yet 
seceded, but were then contemplating the adoption of that ex- 
treme remedy, would probably have induced further delay ; and 
the mellowing effect of time, with a realization of the dangers 
to be incurred, might have wrought mutual forbearance — if, 
indeed, anything could have checked the madness then prevail- 
ing among the people of the JSTorthern States in their thirst for 
power and forgetfulness of the duties of federation. 

It would have been easy to concede this point. The little 
garrison of Fort Sumter served only as a menace ; for it was 
utterly incapable of holding the fort if attacked, and the poor 
attempt soon afterward made to reenforce and provision it, by 
such a vessel as the Star of the West, might by the unchari- 
table be readily construed as a scheme to provoke hostilities. 
Yet, from my knowledge of Mr. Buchanan, I do not hesitate to 
say that he had no such wish or purpose. His abiding hope was 
to avert a collision, or at least to postpone it to a period beyond 
the close of his official term. The management of the whole 
affair was what Talleyrand describes as something worse than a 
crime — a blunder. Whatever treatment the case demanded, 
should have been prompt ; to wait was fatuity. 

The ill-advised attempt secretly to throw reinforcements and 
provisions into Fort Sumter, by means of the steamer Star of 
the West, resulted in the repulsion of that vessel at the mouth 


of the harbor, by the authorities of South Carolina, on the 
morning of the 9th of January. On her refusal to heave-to, 
she was fired upon, and put back to sea, with her recruits and 
supplies. A telegraphic account of this event was handed me, 
a few hours afterward, when stepping into my carriage to go to 
the Senate-chamber. Although I had then, for some time, 
ceased to visit the President, yet, under the impulse of this 
renewed note of danger to the country, I drove immediately to 
the Executive mansion, and for the last time appealed to him 
to take such prompt measures as were evidently necessary to 
avert the impending calamity. The result was even more un- 
satisfactory than that of former efforts had been. 

On the same day the special message of the President on 
the state of the Union, dated the day previous (8th of Janu- 
ary), was submitted to Congress. This message was accompa- 
nied by the first letter of the South Carolina Commissioners 
to the President, with his answer, but of course not by their 
rejoinder, which he had declined to receive. Mr. Buchanan, in 
his memoirs, complains that, immediately after the reading of his 
message, this rejoinder (which he terms an "insulting letter") 
was presented by me to the Senate, and by that body received 
and entered upon its journal.* The simple truth is, that, re- 
garding it as essential to a complete understanding of the trans- 
action, and its publication as a mere act of justice to the Com- 
missioners, I presented and had it read in the Senate. But its 
appearance upon the journal as part of the proceedings, instead 
of being merely a document introduced as part of my remarks, 
was the result of a discourteous objection, made by a so-called 
" Republican " Senator, to the reading of the document by the 
Clerk of the Senate at my request. This will be made mani- 
fest by an examination of the debate and proceedings which 
ensued. f The discourtesy recoiled upon its author and support- 
ers, and gave the letter a vantage-ground in respect of promi- 
nence which I could not have foreseen or expected. 

The next day (January 10th) the speech was delivered, the 

* "Buchanan's Administration," chap, x, p. 184. 

f See " Congressional Globe," second session, Thirty-fifth Congress, Part I, p. 
284, et scq. 


greater part of which may be found in the Appendix * — the 
last that I ever made in the Senate of the United States, except 
in taking leave, and by the sentiments of which I am content 
that my career, both before and since, should be judged. 

The history of Fort Sumter during the remaining period, 
until the organization of the Confederate Government, may be 
found in the correspondence given in the Appendix. f From 
this it will be seen that the authorities of South Carolina still 
continued to refrain from any act of aggression or retaliation, 
under the provocation of the secret attempt to reenforce the 
garrison, as they had previously under that of its nocturnal 
transfer from one fort to another. 

Another Commissioner (the Hon. I. W. Hayne) was sent to 
Washington by the Governor of South Carolina, to effect, if 
possible, an amicable and peaceful transfer of the fort, and set- 
tlement of all questions relating to property. This Commis- 
sioner remained for nearly a month, endeavoring to accomplish 
the objects of his mission, but was met only by evasive and un- 
satisfactory answers, and eventually returned without having 
effected anything. 

There is one passage in the last letter of Colonel Hayne to 
the President which presents the case of the occupancy of Fort 
Sumter by the United States troops so clearly and forcibly that 
it may be proper to quote it. He writes as follows : 

" You say that the fort was garrisoned for our protection, and 
is held for the same purposes for which it has been ever held since 
its construction. Are you not aware, that to hold, in the territory 
of a foreign power, a fortress against her will, avowedly for the 
purpose of protecting her citizens, is perhaps the highest insult 
which one government can offer to another ? But Fort Sumter was 
never garrisoned at all until South Carolina had dissolved her con- 
nection with your Government. This garrison entered it in the 
night, with every circumstance of secrecy, after spiking the guns 
and burning the gun-carriages and cutting down the flag-staff of 
an adjacent fort, which was then abandoned. South Carolina had 
not taken Fort Sumter into her own possession, only because of 
her misplaced confidence in a Government which deceived her." 
* See Appendix I. •}• Ibid. 


Thus, during the remainder of Mr. Buchanan's Administra- 
tion, matters went rapidly from bad to worse. The old states- 
man, who, with, all his defects, had long possessed, and was 
entitled still to retain, the confidence due to extensive political 
knowledge and love of his country in all its parts — who had, in 
his earlier career, looked steadily to the Constitution, as the 
mariner looks to the compass, for guidance — retired to private 
life at the expiration of his term of office, having effected no- 
thing to allay the storm which had been steadily gathering dur- 
ing his administration. 

Timid vacillation was then succeeded by unscrupulous cun- 
ning ; and, for futile efforts, without hostile collision, to impose 
a claim of authority upon people who repudiated it, were sub- 
stituted measures which could be sustained only by force. 


Secession of Mississippi and Other States. — Withdrawal of Senators. — Address of 
the Author on taking Leave of the Senate. — Answer to Certain Objections. 

Mississippi was the second State to withdraw from the 
Union, her ordinance of secession being adopted on the 9th of 
January, 1861. She was quickly followed by Florida on the 
10th, Alabama on the 11th, and, in the course of the same 
month, by Georgia on the 18th, and Louisiana on the 26th. 
The Conventions of these States (together with that of South 
Carolina) agreed in designating Montgomery, Alabama, as the 
place, and the 4th of February as the day, for the assembling of 
a congress of the seceding States, to which each State Conven- 
tion, acting as the direct representative of the sovereignty of the 
people thereof, appointed delegates. 

Telegraphic intelligence of the secession of Mississippi had 
reached Washington some considerable time before the fact was 
officially communicated to me. This official knowledge I con- 
sidered it proper to await before taking formal leave of the 
Senate. My associates from Alabama and Florida concurred 


in this view. Accordingly, having received notification of the 
secession of these three States about the same time, on the 21st 
of January Messrs. Yulee and Mallory, of Florida, Fitzpatrick 
and Clay, of Alabama, and myself, announced the withdrawal 
of the States from which we were respectively accredited, and 
took leave of the Senate at the same time. 

In the action which she then took, Mississippi certainly had 
no purpose to levy war against the United States, or any of 
them. As her Senator, I endeavored plainly to state her posi- 
tion in the annexed remarks addressed to the Senate in taking 
leave of the body : 

" I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the 
Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Missis- 
sippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people, in convention assem- 
bled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under 
these circumstances, of course, my functions are terminated here. 
It has seemed to me proper, however, that I should appear in the 
Senate to announce that fact to my associates, and I will say but 
very little more. The occasion does not invite me to go into argu- 
ment ; and my physical condition would not permit me to do so, if 
it were otherwise ; and yet it seems to become me to say something 
on the part of the State I here represent on an occasion so solemn 
as this. 

" It is known to Senators who have served with me here that I 
have for many years advocated, as an essential attribute of State 
sovereignty, the right of a State to secede from the Union. There- 
fore, if I had not believed there was justifiable cause, if I had 
thought that Mississippi was acting without sufficient provocation, 
or without an existing necessity, I should still, under my theory of 
the Government, because of my allegiance to the State of which I 
am a citizen, have been bound by her action. I, however, may be 
permitted to say that I do think she has justifiable cause, and I 
approve of her act. I conferred with her people before that act 
was taken, counseled them then that, if the state of things which 
they apprehended should exist when their Convention met, they 
should take the action which they have now adopted. 

" I hope none who hear me will confound this expression of mine 
with the advocacy of the right of a State to remain in the Union, and 
to disregard its constitutional obligations by the nullification of the 


law. Such is not my theory. Nullifi cation and secession, so often 
confounded, are, indeed, antagonistic principles. Nullification is 
a remedy which it is sought to apply within the Union, and 
against the agent of the States. It is only to be justified when 
the agent has violated his constitutional obligations, and a State, 
assuming to judge for itself, denies the right of the agent thus to 
act, and appeals to the other States of the Union for a decision ; 
but, when the States themselves and when the people of the States 
have so acted as to convince us that they will not regard our con- 
stitutional rights, then, and then for the first time, arises the doc- 
trine of secession in its practical application. 

" A great man who now reposes with his fathers, and who has 
often been arraigned for a want of fealty to the Union, advocated 
the doctrine of nullification because it preserved the Union. It 
was because of his deep-seated attachment to the Union — his de- 
termination to find some remedy for existing ills short of a sever- 
ance of the ties which bound South Carolina to the other States — 
that Mr. Calhoun advocated the doctrine of nullification, which he 
proclaimed to be peaceful, to be within the limits of State power, 
not to disturb the Union, but only to be a means of bringing the 
agent before the tribunal of the States for their judgment. 

" Secession belongs to a different class of remedies. It is to be 
justified upon the basis that the States are sovereign. There was 
a time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again 
when a better comprehension of the theory of our Government, 
and the inalienable rights of the people of the States, will prevent 
any one from denying that each State is a sovereign, and thus 
may reclaim the grants which it has made to any agent whomso- 

" I, therefore, say I concur in the action of the people of Mis- 
sissippi, believing it to be necessary and proper, and should have 
been bound by their action if my belief had been otherwise ; and 
this brings me to the important point which I wish, on this last 
occasion, to present to the Senate. It is by this confounding of 
nullification and secession that the name of a great man whose 
ashes now mingle with his mother earth has been evoked to justify 
coercion against a seceded State. The phrase, "to execute the 
laws," was an expression which General Jackson applied to the 
case of a State refusing to obey the laws while yet a member of 
the Union. That is not the case which is now presented. The 


laws are to be executed over the United States, and upon the peo- 
ple of the United States. They have no relation to any foreign 
country. It is a perversion of terms — at least, it is a great misap- 
prehension of the case — which cites that expression for application 
to a State which has withdrawn from the Union. You may make 
war on a foreign state. If it be the purpose of gentlemen, they 
may make war against a State which has withdrawn from the 
Union ; but there are no laws of the United States to be executed 
within the limits of a seceded State. A State, finding herself in 
the condition in which Mississippi has judged she is — in which her 
safety requires that she should provide for the maintenance of her 
rights out of the Union — surrenders all the benefits (and they are 
known to be many), deprives herself of the advantages (and they 
are known to be great), severs all the ties of affection (and they 
are close and enduring), which have bound her to the Union ; and 
thus divesting herself of every benefit — taking upon herself every 
burden — she claims to be exempt from any power to execute the 
laws of the United States within her limits. 

"I well remember an occasion when Massachusetts was ar- 
raigned before the bar of the Senate, and when the doctrine of 
coercion was rife, and to be applied against her, because of the 
rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston. My opinion then was the 
same that it is now. Not in a spirit of egotism, but to show that 
I am not influenced in my opinions because the case is my own, I 
refer to that time and that occasion as containing the opinion 
which , I then entertained, and on which my present conduct is 
based. I then said that if Massachusetts — following her purpose 
through a stated line of conduct — chose to take the last step, which 
separates her from the Union, it is her right to go, and I will 
neither vote one dollar nor one man to coerce her back ; but I 
will say to her, Godspeed, in memory of the kind associations 
which once existed between her and the other States. 

" It has been a conviction of pressing necessity — it has been a 
belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights 
which our fathers bequeathed to us— which has brought Missis- 
sippi to her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory 
that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of 
an attack upon her social institutions ; and the sacred Declaration 
of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the 
equality of the races. That Declaration of independence is to be 


construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was 
made. The communities were declaring their independence ; the 
people of those communities were asserting that no man was born 
— to use the language of Mr. Jefferson — booted and spurred, to 
ride over the rest of mankind ; that men were created equal — 
meaning the men of the political community ; that there was no 
divine right to rule ; that no man inherited the right to govern ; 
that there were no classes by which power and place descended to 
families ; but that all stations were equally within the grasp of 
each member of the body politic. These were the great principles 
they announced ; these were the purposes for which they made 
their declaration ; these were the ends to which their enunciation 
was directed. They have no reference to the slave ; else, how 
happened it that among the items of arraignment against George 
III was that he endeavored to do just what the North has been 
endeavoring of late to do, to stir up insurrection among our slaves ? 
Had the Declaration announced that the negroes were free and 
equal, how was the prince to be arraigned for raising up insurrec- 
tion among them ? And how was this to be enumerated among 
the high crimes which caused the colonies to sever their connection 
with the mother-country ? When our Constitution was formed, 
the same idea was rendered more palpable ; for there we find pro- 
vision made for that very class of persons as property ; they were 
not put upon the footing of equality with white men — not even 
upon that of paupers and convicts ; but, so far as representation 
was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only 
to be represented in the numerical proportion of three fifths. So 
stands the compact which binds us together. 

" Then, Senators, we recur to the principles upon which our 
Government was founded ; and when you deny them, and when 
you deny to us the right to withdraw from a Government which, 
thus perverted, threatens to be destructive of our rights, we but 
tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our indepen- 
dence and take the hazard. This is done, not in hostility to oth- 
ers, not to injure any section of the country, not even for our own 
pecuniary benefit, but from the high and solemn motive of defend- 
ing and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our 
duty to transmit unshorn to our children. 

" I find in myself perhaps a type of the general feeling of my 
constituents toward yours. I am sure I feel no hostility toward 


you, Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, 
whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to 
whom I can not now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you 
well ; and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people whom I 
represent toward those whom you represent. I, therefore, feel 
that I but express their desire when I say I hope, and they hope, 
for peaceable relations with you, though we must part. They 
may be mutually beneficial to us in the future, as they have been 
in the past, if you so will it. The reverse may bring disaster on 
every portion of the country, and, if you will have it thus, we will 
invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered them from the power 
of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear ; and thus, 
putting our trust in God and in our firm hearts and strong arms, 
we will vindicate the right as best we may. 

"In the course of my service here, associated at different 
times with a great variety of Senators, I see now around me some 
with whom I have served long ; there have been points of colli- 
sion, but, whatever of offense there has been to me, I leave here. 
I carry with me no hostile remembrance. Whatever offense I 
have given which has not been redressed, or for which satisfaction 
has not been demanded, I have, Senators, in this hour of our part- 
ing, to offer you my apology for any pain which, in the heat of 
discussion, I have inflicted. I go hence unencumbered by the 
remembrance of any injury received, and having discharged the 
duty of making the only reparation in my power for any injury 

"Mr. President and Senators, having made the announcement 
which the occasion seemed to me to require, it only remains for 
me to bid you a final adieu." 

There are some who contend that we should have retained 
our seats and "fought for our rights in the Union." Could 
anything be less rational or less consistent than that a Sen- 
ator, an ambassador from his State, should insist upon repre- 
senting it in a confederacy from which the State has withdrawn ? 
What was meant by "fighting in the Union " I have never 
quite understood. If it be to retain a seat in Congress for the 
purpose of crippling the Government and rendering it unable to 
perform its functions, I can certainly not appreciate the idea of 
honor that sanctions the suggestion. Among the advantages 


claimed for this proposition by its supporters was that of thwart- 
ing the President in the appointment of his Cabinet and 
other officers necessary for the administration of public affairs. 
Would this have been to maintain the Union formed by the 
States ? Would such have been the Government which Wash- 
ington recommended as a remedy for the defects of the original 
Confederation, the greatest of which was the paralysis of the 
action of the general agent by the opposition or indifference of 
the States? Sad as have been the consequences of the war 
which followed secession — disastrous in its moral, material, and 
political relations — still we have good cause to feel proud that 
the course of the Southern States has left no blot nor stain upon 
the honor and chivalry of their people. 

" And if our children must obey, 
They must, but — thinking on our day — 
'Twill less debase them to submit." 


Threats of Arrest. — Departure from Washington. — Indications of Public Anxiety. — 
" Will there be War ? " — Organization of the " Army of Mississippi." — Lack 
of Preparations for Defense in the South. — Evidences of the Good Faith and 
Peaceable Purposes of the Southern People. 

During the interval between the announcement by telegraph 
of the secession of Mississippi and the receipt of the official 
notification which enabled me to withdraw from the Senate, 
rumors were in circulation of a purpose, on the part of the 
United States Government, to arrest members of Congress 
preparing to leave Washington on account of the secession of 
the States which they represented. This threat received little 
attention from those most concerned. Indeed, it was thought 
that it might not be an undesirable mode of testing the ques- 
tion of the right of a State to withdraw from the Union. 

No attempt, however, was made to arrest any of the retiring 
members ; and, after a delay of a few days in necessary prep- 


arations, I left Washington for Mississippi, passing through 
southwestern Virginia, East Tennessee, a small part of Georgia, 
and north Alabama. A deep interest in the events which had 
recently occurred was exhibited by the people of these States, 
and much anxiety was indicated as to the future. Many years 
of agitation had made them familiar with the idea of separa- 
tion. Nearly two generations had risen to manhood since it 
had begun to be discussed as a possible alternative. Few, very 
few, of the Southern people had ever regarded it as a desirable 
event, or otherwise than as a last resort for escape from evils 
more intolerable. It was a calamity, which, however threat- 
ened, they had still hoped might be averted, or indefinitely 
postponed, and they had regarded with contempt, rather than 
anger, the ravings of a party in the North, which denounced 
the Constitution and the Union, and persistently defamed their 
brethren of the South. 

Now, however, as well in Yirginia and Tennessee, neither 
of which had yet seceded, as in the more Southern States, which 
had already taken that step, the danger so often prophesied was 
perceived to be at the door, and eager inquiries were made as 
to what would happen next — especially as to the probability of 
war between the States. 

The course which events were likely to take was shrouded 
in the greatest uncertainty. In the minds of many there was 
the not unreasonable hope (which had been expressed by the 
Commissioner sent from Mississippi to Maryland) that the se- 
cession of six Southern States — certainly soon to be followed by 
that of others — would so arouse the sober thought and better 
feeling of the Northern people as to compel their representa- 
tives to agree to a Convention of the States, and that such 
guarantees would be given as would secure to the South the 
domestic tranquillity and equality in the Union which were 
rights assured under the Federal compact. There were others, 
and they the most numerous class, who considered that the 
separation would be final, but peaceful. For my own part, 
while believing that secession was a right, and properly a peace- 
able remedy, I had never believed that it would be permitted 
to be peaceably exercised. Yery few in the South at that time 


agreed with me, and my answers to queries on the subject were, 
therefore, as unexpected as they were unwelcome. 

On mj arrival at Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, I found 
that the Convention of the State had made provision for a 
State army, and had appointed me to the command, with the 
rank of major-general. Four brigadier-generals, appointed in 
like manner by the Convention, were awaiting my arrival for 
assignment to duty. After the preparation of the necessary 
rules and regulations, the division of the State into districts, 
the apportionment among them of the troops to be raised, and 
the appointment of officers of the general staff, as authorized 
by the ordinance of the Convention, such measures as were 
practicable were taken to obtain the necessary arms. The State 
had few serviceable weapons, and no establishment for their 
manufacture or repair. This fact (which is true of other South- 
ern States as of Mississippi) is a clear proof of the absence 
of any desire or expectation of war. If the purpose of the 
Northern States to make war upon us because of secession had 
been foreseen, preparation to meet the consequences would 
have been contemporaneous with the adoption of a resort to 
that remedy — a remedy the possibility of which had for many 
years been contemplated. Had the Southern States possessed 
arsenals, and collected in them the requisite supplies of arms 
and munitions, such preparation would not only have placed 
them more nearly on an equality with the JSTorth in the begin- 
ning of the war, but might, perhaps, have been the best con- 
servator of peace. 

Let us, the survivors, however, not fail to do credit to the 
generous credulity which could not understand how, in viola- 
tion of the compact of Union, a war could be waged against the 
States, or why they should be invaded because their people had 
deemed it necessary to withdraw from an association which had 
failed to fulfill the ends for which they had entered into it, 
and which, having been broken to their injury by the other 
parties, had ceased to be binding upon them. It is a satisfac- 
tion to know that the calamities which have befallen the 
Southern States were the result of their credulous reliance on 
the power of the Constitution, that, if it failed to protect their 

1861] THE LUST OF EMPIRE. 229 

rights, it would at least suffice to prevent an attempt at coer- 
cion, if, in the last resort, they peacefully withdrew from the 

When, in after times, the passions of the day shall have 
subsided, and all the evidence shall have been collected and 
compared, the philosophical inquirer, who asks why the ma- 
jority of the stronger section invaded the peaceful homes of 
their late associates, will be answered by History : " The lust 
of empire impelled them to wage against their weaker neigh- 
bors a war of subjugation." 


Meeting of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. — Adoption of a Pro- 
visional Constitution. — Election of President and Vice-President. — Notification 
to the Author of his Election. — His Views with Regard to it. — Journey to Mont- 
gomery. — Interview with Judge Sharkey. — False Reports of Speeches on the 
Way. — Inaugural Address. — Editor's Note. 

The congress of delegates from the seceding States con- 
vened at Montgomery, Alabama, according to appointment, on 
the 4th of February, 1861. Their first work was to prepare a 
provisional Constitution for the new Confederacy, to be formed 
of the States which had withdrawn from the Union, for which 
the style " Confederate States of America" was adopted. The 
powers conferred upon them were adequate for the performance 
of this duty, the immediate necessity for which was obvious 
and urgent. This Constitution was adopted on the 8th of Feb- 
ruary, to continue in force for one year, unless superseded at an 
earlier date by a permanent organization. It is printed in an 
appendix, and for convenience of reference the permanent Con- 
stitution, adopted several weeks afterward, is exhibited in con- 
nection with it, and side by side with the Constitution of the 
United States, after which it was modeled.* The attention of 
the reader is invited to these documents and to a comparison of 

* See Appendix K. 


them, although a more particular notice of the permanent Con- 
stitution will be more appropriate hereafter. 

On the next day (9th of February) an election was held for 
the chief executive offices, resulting, as I afterward learned, in 
my election to the Presidency, with the Hon. Alexander H. 
Stephens, of Georgia, as Yice-President. Mr. Stephens was a 
delegate from Georgia to the congress. 

While these events were occurring, having completed the 
most urgent of my duties at the capital of Mississippi, I had 
gone to my home, Brierfield, in Warren County, and had be- 
gun, in the homely but expressive language of Mr. Clay, " to 
repair my fences." While thus engaged, notice was received 
of my election to the Presidency of the Confederate States, 
with an urgent request to proceed immediately to Montgomery 
for inauguration. 

As this had been suggested as a probable event, and what 
appeared to me adequate precautions had been taken to prevent 
it, I was surprised, and, still more, disappointed. For reasons 
which it is not now necessary to state, I had not believed my- 
self as well suited to the office as some others. I thought 
myself better adapted to command in the field ; and Mississippi 
had given me the position which I preferred to any other — the 
highest rank in her army. It was, therefore, that I afterward 
said, in an address delivered in the Capitol, before the Legisla- 
ture of the State, with reference to my election to the Presi- 
dency of the Confederacy, that the duty to which I was thus 
called was temporary, and that I expected soon to be with the 
Army of Mississippi again. 

While on my way to Montgomery, and waiting in Jackson, 
Mississippi, for the railroad train, I met the Hon. William L. 
Sharkey, who had filled with great distinction the office of 
Chief -Justice of the State. He said he was looking for me to 
make an inquiry. He desired to know if it was true, as he had 
just learned, that I believed there would be war. My opinion 
was freely given, that there would be war, long and bloody, and 
that it behooved every one to put his house in order. He ex- 
pressed much surprise, and said that he had not believed the 
report attributing this opinion to me. He asked how I sup- 


posed war could result from the peaceable withdrawal of a sov- 
ereign State. The answer was, that it was not my opinion that 
war should be occasioned by the exercise of that right, but that 
it would be. 

Judge Sharkey and I had not belonged to the same political 
party, he being a Whig, but we fully agreed with regard to the 
question of the sovereignty of the States. He had been an 
advocate of nullification — a doctrine to which I had never 
assented, and which had at one time been the main issue in Mis- 
sissippi politics. He had presided over the well-remembered 
Nashville Convention in 1849, and had possessed much influ- 
ence in the State, not only as an eminent jurist, but as a citizen 
who had grown up with it, and held many offices of honor and 

On my way to Montgomery, brief addresses were made at 
various places, at which there were temporary stoppages of the 
trains, in response to calls from the crowds assembled at such 
points. Some of these addresses were grossly misrepresented 
in sensational reports made by irresponsible persons, which 
were published in Northern newspapers, and were not consid- 
ered worthy of correction under the pressure of the momen- 
tous duties then devolving upon me. These false reports, which 
represented me as invoking war and threatening devastation of 
the ISTorth, have since been adopted by partisan writers as au- 
thentic history. It is a sufficient answer to these accusations to 
refer to my farewell address to the Senate, already given, as 
reported for the press at the time, and, in connection therewith, 
to my inaugural address at Montgomery, on assuming the office 
of President of the Confederate States, on the 18th of Febru- 
ary. These two addresses, delivered at an interval of a month, 
during which no material change of circumstances had occurred, 
being one before and the other after the date of the sensational 
reports referred to, are sufficient to stamp them as utterly un- 
true. The inaugural was deliberately prepared, and uttered as 
written, and, in connection with the farewell speech to the Sen- 
ate, presents a clear and authentic statement of the principles 
and purposes which actuated me on assuming the duties of the 
high office to which I had been called. 



" Gentlemen of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, Friends, 
and Fellow- Citizens : 

" Called to the difficult and responsible station of Chief Magis- 
trate of the Provisional Government which you have instituted, 
I approach the discharge of the duties assigned to me with hum- 
ble distrust of my abilities, but with a sustaining confidence in 
the wisdom of those who are to guide and aid me in the adminis- 
tration of public affairs, and an abiding faith in the virtue and 
patriotism of the people. Looking forward to the speedy estab- 
lishment of a permanent government to take the place of this, 
which by its greater moral and physical power will be better able 
to combat with many difficulties that arise from the conflicting 
interests of separate nations, I enter upon the duties of the office 
to which I have been chosen with the hope that the beginning of 
our career, as a Confederacy, may not be obstructed by hostile 
opposition to our enjoyment of the separate existence and inde- 
pendence we have asserted, and which, with the blessing of Provi- 
dence, we intend to maintain. 

" Our present political position has been achieved in a manner 
unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the Ameri- 
can idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, 
and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at 
will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they 
were established. The declared purpose of the compact of the 
Union from which we have withdrawn was to ' establish justice, 
insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, 
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty 
to ourselves and our posterity ' ; and when, in the judgment of 
the sovereign States composing this Confederacy, it has been per- 
verted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and ceased 
to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal 
to the ballot-box declared that, so far as they are concerned, the 
Government created by that compact should cease to exist. In 
this they merely asserted the right which the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence of July 4, 1776, defined to be 'inalienable.' Of the 
time and occasion of its exercise they as sovereigns were the final 
judges, each for itself. The impartial and enlightened verdict of 
mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct ; and He 


who knows the hearts of men will judge of the sincerity with 
which we have labored to preserve the Government of our fathers 
in its spirit. 

"The right solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the United 
States, and which has been solemnly affirmed and reaffirmed in 
the Bills of Rights of the States subsequently admitted into the 
Union of 1789, undeniably recognizes in the people the power to 
resume the authority delegated for the purposes of government. 
Thus the sovereign States here represented have proceeded to 
form this Confederacy ; and it is by abuse of language that their 
act has been denominated a revolution. They formed a new 
alliance, but within each State its government has remained ; so 
that the rights of person and property have not been disturbed. 
The agent through which they communicated with foreign nations 
is changed, but this does not necessarily interrupt their interna- 
tional relations. Sustained by the consciousness that the transi- 
tion from the former Union to the present Confederacy has not 
proceeded from a disregard on our part of just obligations, or any 
failure to perform every constitutional duty, moved by no interest 
or passion to invade the rights of others, anxious to cultivate 
peace and commerce with all nations, if we may not hope to avoid 
war, we may at least expect that posterity will acquit us of having 
needlessly engaged in it. Doubly justified by the absence of 
wrong on our part, and by wanton aggression on the part of 
others, there can be no cause to doubt that the courage and patri- 
otism of the people of the Confederate States will be found equal 
to any measure of defense which their honor and security may 

" An agricultural people, whose chief interest is the export of 
commodities required in every manufacturing country, our true 
policy is peace, and the freest trade which our necessities will per- 
mit. It is alike our interest and that of all those to whom we 
would sell, and from whom we would buy, that there should be 
the fewest practicable restrictions upon the interchange of these 
commodities. There can, however, be but little rivalry between 
ours and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as 
the Northeastern States of the American Union. It must follow, 
therefore, that mutual interest will invite to good-will and kind 
offices on both parts. If, however, passion or lust of dominion 
should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, 


we must prepare to meet the emergency and maintain, by the final 
arbitrament of the sword, the position which we have assumed 
among the nations of the earth. 

"We have entered upon the career of independence, and it 
must be inflexibly pursued. Through many years of controversy 
with our late associates of the Northern States, we have vainly 
endeavored to secure tranquillity and obtain respect for the rights 
to which we were entitled. As a necessity, not a choice, we have 
resorted to the remedy of separation, and henceforth our energies 
must be directed to the conduct of our own affairs, and the per- 
petuity of the Confederacy which we have formed. If a just per- 
ception of mutual interest shall permit us peaceably to pursue our 
separate political career, my most earnest desire will have been 
fulfilled. But if this be denied to us, and the integrity of our 
territory and jurisdiction be assailed, it will but remain for us 
with firm resolve to appeal to arms and invoke the blessing of 
Providence on a just cause. 

"As a consequence of our new condition and relations, and 
with a view to meet anticipated wants, it will be necessary to pro- 
vide for the speedy and efficient organization of branches of the 
Executive department having special charge of foreign inter- 
course, finance, military affairs, and the postal service. For pur- 
poses of defense, the Confederate States may, under ordinary 
circumstances, rely mainly upon the militia ; but it is deemed 
advisable, in the present condition of affairs, that there should be 
a well-instructed and disciplined army, more numerous than would 
usually be required on a peace establishment. I also suggest that, 
for the protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas, 
a navy adapted to those objects will be required. But this, as 
well as other subjects appropriate to our necessities, have doubt- 
less engaged the attention of Congress. 

" With a Constitution differing only from that of our fathers 
in so far as it is explanatory of their well-known intent, freed 
from sectional conflicts, which have interfered with the pursuit of 
the general welfare, it is not unreasonable to expect that States 
from which we have recently parted may seek to unite their for- 
tunes to ours under the Government which we have instituted. 
For this your Constitution makes adequate provision ; but beyond 
this, if I mistake not the judgment and will of the people, a re- 
union with the States from which we have separated is neither 


practicable nor desirable. To increase the power, develop the 
resources, and promote the happiness of the Confederacy, it is 
requisite that there should be so much of homogeneity that the 
welfare of every portion shall be the aim of the whole. When 
this does not exist, antagonisms are engendered which must and 
should result in separation. 

" Actuated solely by the desire to preserve our own rights, 
and promote our own welfare, the separation by the Confederate 
States has been marked by no aggression upon others, and fol- 
lowed by no domestic convulsion. Our industrial pursuits have 
received no check, the cultivation of our fields has progressed 
as heretofore, and, even should we be involved in war, there 
would be no considerable diminution in the production of the sta- 
ples which have constituted our exports, and in which the com- 
mercial world has an interest scarcely less than our own. This 
common interest of the producer and consumer can only be inter- 
rupted by exterior force which would obstruct the transmission of 
our staples to foreign markets — a course of conduct which would 
be as unjust, as it would be detrimental, to manufacturing and 
commercial interests abroad. 

" Should reason guide the action of the Government from 
which we have separated, a policy so detrimental to the civilized 
world, the Northern States included, could not be dictated by 
even the strongest desire to inflict injury upon us ; but, if the con- 
trary should prove true, a terrible responsibility will rest upon it, 
and the suffering of millions will bear testimony to the folly and 
wickedness of our aggressors. In the mean time there will remain 
to us, besides the ordinary means before suggested, the well-known 
resources for retaliation upon the commerce of an enemy. 

"Experience in public stations, of subordinate grade to this 
which your kindness has conferred, has taught me that toil and 
care and disappointment are the price of official elevation. You 
will see many errors to forgive, many deficiencies to tolerate ; but 
you shall not find in me either want of zeal or fidelity to the cause 
that is to me the highest in hope, and of most enduring affection. 
Your generosity has bestowed upon me an undeserved distinction, 
one which I neither sought nor desired. Upon the continuance 
of that sentiment, and upon your wisdom and patriotism, I rely to 
direct and support me in the performance of the duties required 
at my hands. 


" We have changed the constituent parts, but not the system 
of government. The Constitution framed by our fathers is that 
of these Confederate States. In their exposition of it, and in the 
judicial construction it has received, we have a light which reveals 
its true meaning. 

" Thus instructed as to the true meaning and just interpreta- 
tion of that instrument, and ever remembering that all offices are 
but trusts held for the people, and that powers delegated are to 
be strictly construed, I will hope by due diligence in the perform- 
ance of my duties, though I may disappoint your expectations, 
yet to retain ? when retiring, something of the good-will and confi- 
dence which welcome my entrance into office. 

" It is joyous in the midst of perilous times to look around 
upon a people united in heart, where one purpose of high resolve 
animates and actuates the whole ; where the sacrifices to be made 
are not weighed in the balance against honor and right and lib- 
erty and equality. Obstacles may retard, but they can not long 
prevent, the progress of a movement sanctified by its justice and 
sustained by a virtuous people. Reverently let us invoke the God 
of our Fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate 
the principles which by his blessing they were able to vindicate, 
establish, and transmit to their posterity. With the continuance 
of his favor ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully 
look forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity." 

Note, relative to the Election of President of the Confederate States under 
the Provisional Constitution, and some Other Subjects referred to in the 
Foregoing Chapters. 

Statements having been made, seeming to imply that I was a 
candidate " for the Presidency of the Confederate States ; that my 
election was the result of a misunderstanding, or of accidental 
complications " ; and also that I held " extreme views," and enter- 
tained at that period an inadequate conception of the magnitude 
of the war probably to be waged, information on the subject has 
been contributed by several distinguished members of the Provi- 
sional Congress, who still survive. From a number of their letters 
which have been published, the annexed extracts are given, parts 
being omitted which refer to matters not of historical interest. 

From a communication of the Hon. Alexander M. Clayton, 
of Mississippi, to the Memphis " Appeal " of June 21, 1870 : 


" .... I was at the time a member of tlie Provisional Congress 
from Mississippi. Believing that Mr. Davis was the choice of the 
South for the position of President, before repairing to Montgom- 
ery I addressed him a letter to ascertain if he would accept it. He 
replied that it was not the place he desired ; that, if he could have 
his choice, he would greatly prefer to be in active service as com- 
mander-in-chief of the army, but that he would give himself to 
the cause in any capacity whatever. That was the only letter of 
which I have any knowledge that he wrote on the subject, and 
that was shown to only a very few persons, and only when I was 
asked if Mr. Davis would accept the presidency. . . . 

" There was no electioneering, no management, on the part of 
any one. Each voter was left to determine for himself in whose 
hands the destinies of the infant Confederacy should be placed. 
By a law as fixed as gravitation itself, and as little disturbed 
by outside influences, the minds of members centered upon Mr. 

" After a few days of anxious, intense labor, the Provisional 
Constitution was framed, and it became necessary to give it vital- 
ity by putting some one at the head of the new Government. . . . 

" Without any effort on the part of the friends of either 
[Messrs. Davis or Stephens], the election was made without the 
slightest dissent. Of the accidental complications referred to, I 
have not the least knowledge, and always thought that the elec- 
tion of Mr. Davis arose from the spontaneous conviction of his 
peculiar fitness. I have consulted no one on the subject, and have 
appended my name only to avoid resting an important fact upon 
anonymous authority. Very respectfully yours, 

" Alexander M. Clayton." 

From the Hon. J. A. P. Campbell, of Mississippi, now a Jus- 
tice of the Supreme Court of that State : 

" .... If there was a delegate from Mississippi, or any other 
State, who was opposed to the election of Jefferson Davis as Presi- 
dent of the Confederate States, I never heard of the fact. I had 
the idea that Mr. Davis did not desire to be President, and pre- 
ferred to be in the military service, but no other man was spoken 
of for President within my hearing. . . . 

" It is within my personal knowledge that the statement of the 
interview, that Mr. Davis did not have a just appreciation of the 


serious character of the contest between the seceding States and 
the Union, is wholly untrue. Mr. Davis, more than any man I 
ever heard talk on the subject, had a correct apprehension of the 
consequences of secession and of the magnitude of the war to be 
waged to coerce the seceding States. While at Montgomery, he 
expressed the belief that heavy fighting must occur, and that Vir- 
ginia was to be the chief battle-ground. Years prior to secession, 
in his address before the Legislature and people of Mississippi, 
Mr. Davis had earnestly advised extensive preparation for the pos- 
sible contingency of secession. 

" After the formation of the Confederate States, he was far in 
advance of the Constitutional Convention and the Provisional Con- 
gress, and, as I believe, of any man in it, in his views of the grav- 
ity of the situation and the probable extent and duration of the 
war, and of the provision which should be made for the defense 
of the seceding States. Before secession, Mr. Davis thought war 
would result from it ; and, after secession, he expressed the view 
that the war commenced would be an extensive one. What he 
may have thought at a later day than the early part of 1862, I do 
not know ; but it is inconceivable that the ' interview ' can be 
correct as to that. 

" The idea that Mr. Davis was so ' extreme ' in his views is a 
new one. He was extremely conservative on the subject of seces- 

" The suggestion that Mississippi would have preferred Gen- 
eral Toombs or Mr. Cobb for President has no foundation in fact. 
My opinion is, that no man could have obtained a single vote in 
the Mississippi delegation against Mr. Davis, who was then, as he 
is now, the most eminent and popular of all the citizens of Missis- 
sippi. . . . Very respectfully, 

" J. A. P. Campbell." 

From the Hon. Duncan F. Kenner, of Louisiana : 
"..'.. My recollections of what transpired at the time are very 
vivid and positive. . . . 

" Who should be President, was the absorbing question of the 
day. It engaged the attention of all present, and elicited many 
letters from our respective constituencies. The general inclina- 
tion was strongly in favor of Mr. Davis. In fact, no other name 
was so prominently or so generally mentioned. The name of Mr. 


Rhett, of South Carolina, was probably more frequently mentioned 
than that of any other person, next to Mr. Davis. 

" The rule adopted at our election was that each State should 
have one vote, to be delivered in open session, viva voce, by one 
of the delegates as spokesman for his colleagues. The delegates 
of the different States met in secret session to select their candi- 
date and spokesman. 

" Of what occurred in these various meetings I can not speak 
authoritatively as to other States, as their proceedings were con- 
sidered secret. I can speak positively, however, of what took 
place at a meeting of the delegates from Louisiana. We, the 
Louisiana delegates, without hesitation, and unanimously, after a 
very short session, decided in favor of Mr. Davis. No other name 
was mentioned ; the claims of no one else were considered, or even 
alluded to. There was not the slightest opposition to Mr. Davis 
on the part of any of our delegation ; certainly none was ex- 
pressed ; all appeared enthusiastic in his favor, and, I have no rea- 
son to doubt, felt so. Nor was the feeling induced by any solici- 
tation on the part of Mr. Davis or his friends. Mr. Davis was not 
in or near Montgomery at the time. He was never heard from on 
this subject, so far as I knew. He was never announced as a can- 
didate. We were seeking the best man to fill the position, and 
the conviction at the time, in the minds of a large majority of the 
delegates, that Mr. Davis was the best qualified, from both his 
civil and military knowledge and experience, induced many to look 
upon Mr. Davis as the best selection that could be made. 

" This conviction, coupled with his well-recognized conserva- 
tive views — for in no sense did we consider Mr. Davis extreme, 
either in his views or purposes — was the deciding consideration 
which controlled the votes of the Louisiana delegation. Of this 
I have not the least doubt. I remain, respectfully, very truly 
yours, etc. 

"Duncan F. Kenner." 

From the Hon. James Chesimt, of South Carolina : 
" . . . . Before leaving home I had made up my mind as to 
who was the fittest man to be President, and who to be Vice- 
President ; Mr. Davis for the first, and Mr. Stephens for the second. 
And this was known to all my friends as well as to my colleagues. 
" Mr. Davis, then conspicuous for ability, had long experience 


in civil service, was reputed a most successful organizer and ad- 
ministrator of the military department of the United States when 
he was Secretary of War, and came out of the Mexican war with 
much bclat as a soldier. Possessing a combination of these high 
and needful qualities, he was regarded by nearly the whole South 
as the fittest man for the position. I certainly so regarded him, 
and did not change my mind on the way to Montgomery. . . . 

" Georgia was a great State — great in numbers, comparatively 
great in wealth, and great in the intellectual gifts and experiences 
of many of her sons. Conspicuous among them were Stephens, 
Toombs, and Cobb. In view of these facts, it was thought by all 
of us expedient — nay, more, positively right and just — that Georgia 
should have a corresponding weight in the counsels and conduct 
of the new Government. 

" Mr. Stephens was also a man of conceded ability, of high 
character, conservative, devoted to the rights of the States, and 
known to be a power in his own State ; hence all eyes turned to 
him to fill the second place. 

" Howell Cobb became President of the Convention, and Gen- 
eral Toombs Secretary of State. These two gifted Georgians 
were called to these respective positions because of their expe- 
rience, ability, and ardent patriotism. . . . 

" Mr. Rhett was a very bold and frank man. So was Colonel 
Keitt ; and they, as always, avowed their opinions and acted upon 
them with energy. Nevertheless, the vote of the delegation was 
cast for Mr. Davis. . . . 

"James Chesnut." 

From the Hon. W. Porcher Miles, of Virginia, formerly of 
South Carolina, and a member of the Provisional Congress of 

1861 : 

" Oak Ridge, January 27, 1880. 

" .... To the best of my recollection there was entire una- 
nimity in the South Carolina delegation at Montgomery on the sub- 
ject of the choice of a President. I think it very likely that Keitt, 
from his warm personal friendship for Mr. Toombs, may at first 
have preferred him. I have no recollections of Chesnut's predilec- 
tions. I think there was no question that Mr. Davis was the choice 
of our delegation and of the whole people of South Carolina. . . . 
I do not think Mr. Rhett ever attempted to influence the course 


of his colleagues, either in this or in matters generally before the 
Congress. Nor do I think his personal influence in the delegation 
was as great as that of some other members of it. If I were to 
select any one as having a special influence with us, I would con- 
sider Mr. Robert Barnwell as the one. His singularly pure and 
elevated character, entire freedom from all personal ambition or 
desire for place or position (he declined Mr. Davis's offer of a seat 
in the Cabinet), as well as his long experience in public life and 
admirably calm and well-balanced mind, all combined to make his 
influence with his colleagues very great. But neither could he be 
said " to lead " the delegation. He had no desire, and never made 
any attempt to do so. I think there was no delegation in the Con- 
gress, the individual members of which were more independent 
in coming to their own conclusions of what was right and expe- 
dient to be done. There was always the frankest and freest inter- 
change of opinions among them, but every one determined his 
own course for himself." 



After being inaugurated, I proceeded to the formation of 
my Cabinet, that is, the heads of the executive departments 
authorized by the laws of the Provisional Congress. The una- 
nimity existing among our people made this a much easier and 
more agreeable task than where the rivalries in the party of an 
executive have to be consulted and accommodated, often at the 
expense of the highest capacity and fitness. Unencumbered 
by any otber consideration than the public welfare, having no 
friends to reward or enemies to punish, it resulted that not 
one of those who formed my first Cabinet had borne to me the 
relation of close personal friendship, or had political claims 
upon me ; indeed, with two of them I had no previous acquaint- 

It was my wish that the Hon. Robert "W. Barnwell, of 
South Carolina, should be Secretary of State. I had known 
him intimately during a trying period of our joint service in 


the United States Senate, and lie had won alike my esteem and 
regard. Before making known to him my wish in this connec- 
tion, the delegation of South Carolina, of which he was a mem- 
ber, had resolved to recommend one of their number to be Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, and Mr. Barnwell, with characteristic 
delicacy, declined to accept my offer to him. 

I had intended to offer the Treasury Department to Mr. 
Toombs, of Georgia, whose knowledge on subjects of finance 
had particularly attracted my notice when we served together 
in the United States Senate. Mr. Barnwell having declined 
the State Department, and a colleague of his, said to be pecu- 
liarly qualified for the Treasury Department, having been recom- 
mended for it, Mr. Toombs was offered the State Department, 
for which others believed him to be well qualified. 

Mr. Mallory, of Florida, had been chairman of the Commit- 
tee on JSTaval Affairs in the United States Senate, was exten- 
sively acquainted with the officers of the navy, and for a lands- 
man had much knowledge of nautical affairs ; therefore he was 
selected for Secretary of the Navy. 

Mr. Benjamin, of Louisiana, had a very high reputation as 
a lawyer, and my acquaintance with him in the Senate had im- 
pressed me with the lucidity of his intellect, his systematic 
habits and capacity for labor. He was therefore invited to the 
post of Attorney- General. 

Mr. Reagan, of Texas, I had known for a sturdy, honest 
Representative in the United States Congress, and his acquaint- 
ance with the territory included in the Confederate States was 
both extensive and accurate. These, together with his industry 
and ability to labor, indicated him as peculiarly fit for the office 
of Postmaster-General. 

Mr. Memminger, of South Carolina, had a high reputation 
for knowledge of finance. He bore an unimpeachable character 
for integrity and close attention to duties, and, on the recom- 
mendation of the delegation from South Carolina, he was ap- 
pointed Secretary of the Treasury, and proved himself entirely 
worthy of the trust. 

Mr. Walker, of Alabama, was a distinguished member of 
the bar of north Alabama, and was eminent among the politi- 

'... ,0? 


<.Sy/l& <j7/>ljy/' ty/pwjC&Osefazde' ~0/z^Hyn^Z / . 


cians of that section. He was earnestly recommended by gen- 
tlemen intimately and favorably known to me, and was there- 
fore selected for the War Department. His was the only name 
presented from Alabama. 

The executive departments having been organized^ my at- 
tention was first directed to preparation for military defense, 
for, though I, in common with others, desired to have a peaceful 
separation, and sent commissioners to the United States Gov- 
ernment to effect, if possible, negotiations to that end, I did not 
hold the common opinion that we would be allowed to depart 
in peace, and therefore regarded it as an imperative duty to 
make all possible preparation for the contingency of war. 


Early Acts of the Confederate Congress. — Laws of the United States continued in 
Force. — Officers of Customs and Revenue continued in Office. — Commission to 
the United States. — Navigation of the Mississippi. — Restrictions on the Coast- 
ing-Trade removed. — Appointment of Commissioners to Washington. 

The legislation of the Confederate Congress furnishes the 
best evidence of the temper and spirit which prevailed in the 
organization of the Confederate Government. The very first 
enactment, made on the 9th of February, 1861 — the day after 
the adoption of the Provisional Constitution — was this : 

" That all the laws of the United States of America in force 
and in use in the Confederate States of America on the first day 
of November last, and not inconsistent with the Constitution of 
the Confederate States, be and the same are hereby continued in 
force until altered or repealed by the Congress." * 

The next act, adopted on the 14th of February, was one 
continuing in office until the 1st of April next ensuing all offi- 
cers connected with the collection of customs and the assistant 
treasurers intrusted with the keeping of the moneys arising 

* Statutes at Large, Provisional Government, Confederate States of America, 
p. 27. 


therefrom, who were engaged in the performance of such duties 
within any of the Confederate States, with the same powers and 
functions which they had been exercising under the Govern- 
ment of the United States.* 

The Provisional Constitution itself, in the second section of 
its sixth article, had ordained as follows : 

" The Government hereby instituted shall take immediate 
steps for the settlement of all matters between the States forming 
it and their other late confederates of the United States, in rela- 
tion to the public property and public debt at the time of their 
withdrawal from them ; these States hereby declaring it to be 
their wish and earnest desire to adjust everything pertaining to 
the common property, common liabilities, and common obligations 
of that Union, upon the principles of right, justice, equity, and 
good faith." f 

In accordance with this requirement of the Constitution, the 
Congress, on the 15th of February — before my arrival at Mont- 
gomery — passed a resolution declaring " that it is the sense of 
this Congress that a commission of three persons be appointed 
by the President-elect, as early as may be convenient sdter his 
inauguration, and sent to the Government of the United States 
of America, for the purpose of negotiating friendly relations 
between that Government and the Confederate States of Amer- 
ica, and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement 
between the two Governments, upon principles of right, justice, 
equity, and good faith." J 

Persistent and to a great extent successful efforts were made 
to inflame the minds of the people of the Northwestern States 
by representing to them that, in consequence of the separation 
of the States, they would lose the free navigation of the Missis- 
sippi Eiver. At that early period in the life of the Confed- 
eracy, the intercourse between the North and South had been 
so little interrupted, that the agitators, whose vocation it was 

* Statutes at Large, Provisional Government, Confederate States of America, 
pp. 27, 28. 

f See Provisional Constitution, Appendix K, in loco. 

X Statutes at Large, Provisional Government, Confederate States df America, 
p. 92. 


to deceive the masses of the people, could not, or should not, 
have been ignorant that, as early as the 25th of February, 1861, 
an act was passed by the Confederate Congress, and approved 
by the President, " to declare and establish the free navigation 
of the Mississippi River." That act began with the announce- 
ment that " the peaceful navigation of the Mississippi River is 
hereby declared free to the citizens of any of the States upon 
its borders, or upon the borders of its navigable tributaries," 
and its provisions secure that freedom for " all ships, boats, or 
vessels," with their cargoes, " without any duty or hindrance, 
except light-money, pilotage, and other like charges." * 

By an act approved on the 26th of February, all laws which 
forbade the employment in the coasting-trade of vessels not 
enrolled or licensed, and all laws imposing discriminating duties 
on foreign vessels or goods imported in them, were repealed. f 
These acts and all other indications manifest the well-known 
wish of the people of the Confederacy to preserve the peace 
and encourage the most unrestricted commerce with all nations, 
surely not least with their late associates, the Northern States. 
Thus far, the hope that peace might be maintained was predomi- 
nant ; perhaps, the wish was father to the thought that there 
would be no war between the States lately united. Indeed, all 
the laws enacted during the first session of the Provisional Con- 
gress show how consistent were the purposes and actions of its 
members with their original avowal of a desire peacefully to 
separate from those with whom they could not live in tranquil- 
lity, albeit the Government had been established to promote 
the common welfare. Under this state of feeling the Govern- 
ment of the Confederacy was instituted. 

My own views and inclinations, as has already been fully 
shown, were in entire accord with the disposition manifested by 
the requirement of the Provisional Constitution and the resolution 
of the Congress above recited, for the appointment of a commis- 
sion to negotiate friendly relations with the United States and an 
equitable and peaceable settlement of all questions which would 
necessarily arise under the new relations of the States toward 

* Statutes at Large, Provisional Government, Confederate States of America, 
pp. 36-38. f Ibid., p. 38. 


one another. Next to the organization of a Cabinet, that of 
such a commission was accordingly one of the very first objects 
of attention. Three discreet, well-informed, and distinguished 
citizens were selected as said Commissioners, and accredited to 
the President of the Northern States, Mr. Lincoln, to the end 
that by negotiation all questions between the two Governments 
might be so adjusted as to avoid war, and perpetuate the kind 
relations which had been cemented by the common trials, sacri- 
fices, and glories of the people of all the States. If sectional 
hostility had been engendered by dissimilarity of institutions, 
and by a mistaken idea of moral responsibilities, and by irrec- 
oncilable creeds — if the family could no longer live and grow 
harmoniously together — by patriarchal teaching older than Chris- 
tianity, it might have been learned that it was better to part, 
to part peaceably, and to continue, from one to another, the 
good offices of neighbors who by sacred memories were forbid- 
den ever to be foes. The nomination of the members of the 
commission was made on the 25th of February — within a week 
after my inauguration — and confirmed by Congress on the same 
day. The Commissioners appointed were Messrs. A. B. Koman, 
of Louisiana ; Martin J. Crawford, of Georgia ; and John For- 
syth, of Alabama. Mr. Eoman was an honored citizen, and 
had been Governor of his native State. Mr. Crawford had 
served with distinction in Congress for several years. Mr. For- 
syth was an influential journalist, and had been Minister to 
Mexico under appointment of Mr. Pierce near the close of his 
term, and continued so under that of Mr. Buchanan. These gen- 
tlemen, moreover, represented the three great parties which had 
ineffectually opposed the sectionalism of the so-called " Kepub- 
licans." Ex-Governor Eoman had been a "Whig in former 
years, and one of the "Constitutional Union," or Bell-and- 
Everett, party in the canvass of 1860. Mr. Crawford, as a 
State-rights Democrat, had supported Mr. Breckinridge; and 
Mr. Forsyth had been a zealous advocate of the claims of Mr. 
Douglas. The composition of the commission was therefore 
such as should have conciliated the sympathy and cooperation 
of every element of conservatism with which they might have 
occasion to deal. Their commissions authorized and empow- 


ered them, " in the name of the Confederate States, to meet 
and confer with any person or persons duly authorized by the 
Government of the United States, being furnished with like 
power and authority, and with him or them to agree, treat, con- 
sult, and negotiate " concerning all matters in which the parties 
were both interested. No secret instructions were given them, 
for there was nothing to conceal. The objects of their mission 
were open and avowed, and its inception and conduct through- 
out were characterized by frankness and good faith. How this 
effort was received, how the Commissioners were kept waiting, 
and, while fair promises were held to the ear, how military 
preparations were pushed forward for the unconstitutional, 
criminal purpose of coercing States, let the shameful record of 
that transaction attest. 


The Peace Conference. — Demand for " a Little Bloodletting." — Plan proposed by 
the Conference. — Its Contemptuous Reception and Treatment in the United 
States Congress. — Failure of Last Efforts at Reconciliation and Reunion. — Note. 
— Speech of General Lane, of Oregon. 

While the events which have just been occupying our at- 
tention were occurring, the last conspicuous effort was made 
within the Union to stay the tide of usurpation which was 
driving the Southern States into secession. This effort was set 
on foot by Virginia, the General Assembly of which State, on 
the 19th of January, 1861, adopted a preamble and resolutions, 
deprecating disunion, and inviting all such States as were will- 
ing to unite in an earnest endeavor to avert it by an adjustment 
of the then existing controversies to appoint commissioners to 
meet in Washington, on the 4th of February, " to consider, 
and, if practicable, agree upon some suitable adjustment." Ex- 
President John Tyler, and Messrs. William C. Kives, John W. 
Brockenbrugh, George W. Summers, and James A. Seddon — 
five of the most distinguished citizens of the State — were ap- 
pointed to represent Virginia in the proposed conference. If 


they could agree with the Commissioners of other States upon 
any plan of settlement requiring amendments to the Federal 
Constitution, they were instructed to communicate them to 
Congress, with a view to their submission to the several States 
for ratification. 

The " border States " in general promptly acceded to this 
proposition of Yirginia, and others followed, so that in the 
"Peace Congress," or conference, which assembled, according 
to appointment, on the 4th, and adjourned on the 27th of Feb- 
ruary, twenty-one States were eventually represented, of which 
fourteen were Northern, or " non-slaveholding," and seven slave- 
holding States. The six States which had already seceded were 
of course not of the number represented ; nor were Texas and 
Arkansas, the secession of which, although not consummated, 
was obviously inevitable. Three of the Northwestern States — 
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — and the two Pacific 
States — Oregon and California — also held aloof from the con- 
ference. In the case of these last two, distance and lack of time 
perhaps hindered action. With regard to the other three, their 
reasons for declining to participate in the movement were not 
officially assigned, and are therefore only subjects for conjec- 
ture. Some remarkable revelations were afterward made, how- 
ever, with regard to the action of one of them. It appears, 
from correspondence read in the Senate on the 27th of Febru- 
ary, that the two Senators from Michigan had at first opposed 
the participation of that State in the conference, on the ground 
that it was, as one of them expressed it, " a step toward obtain- 
ing that concession which the imperious slave power so insolent- 
ly demands " * — that is to say, in plain terms, they objected to 
it because it might lead to a compromise and pacification. Find- 
ing, however, that most of the other Northern States were rep- 
resented — some of them by men of moderate and conciliatory 
temper — that writer had subsequently changed his mind, and at 
a late period of the session of the conference recommended the 
sending of delegations of " true, unflinching men," who would 
be "in favor of the Constitution as it is " — that is, who would 

* See letter of Hon. S. K. Bingham to Governor Blair, of Michigan, in " Congres- 
sional Globe," second session, Thirty-sixth Congress, Part II, p. 1247. 


oppose any amendment proposed in the interests of harmony 
and pacification. 

The other Senator exhibits a similar alarm at the prospect of 
compromise and a concurrent change of opinion. He urges the 
sending of " stiff-backed " men, to thwart the threatened success 
of the friends of peace, and concludes with an expression of the 
humane and patriotic sentiment that " without a little blood- 
letting " the Union would not be " worth a rush." * With such 
unworthy levity did these leaders of sectional strife express 
their exultation in the prospect of the conflict, which was to 
drench the land with blood and enshroud thousands of homes 
in mourning ! 

It is needless to follow the course of the deliberations of the 
Peace Conference. It included among its members many men 
of distinction and eminent ability, and some of unquestionable 
patriotism, from every part of the Union. The venerable John 
Tyler presided, and took an active and ardent interest in the 

* See " Congressional Globe," ut supra. As this letter, last referred to, is brief 

and characteristic of the temper of the typical so-called Republicans of the period, 

it may be inserted entire : 

" "Washington, February 11, 1861. 

" My dear Governor : Governor Bingham and myself telegraphed you on Satur- 
day, at the request of Massachusetts and New York, to send delegates to the Peace 
or Compromise Congress. They admit that we were right, and that they were 
wrong ; that no Republican State should have sent delegates ; but they are here, and 
can not get away ; Ohio, Indiana, and Rhode Island are caving in, and there is 
danger of Illinois ; and now they beg us, for God's sake, to come to their rescue, 
and save the Republican party from rupture. I hope you will send stiff-backed 
men, or none. The whole thing was gotten up against my judgment and advice, and 
will end in thin smoke. Still, I hope, as a matter of courtesy to some of our erring 
brethren, that you will send the delegates. 

" Truly your friend, 

"Z. Chandler. 
" His Excellency Austin Blair." 

" P. S. — Some of the manufacturing States think that a fight would be awful. 
Without a little bloodletting, this Union will not, in my estimation, be worth a rush." 

The reader should not fall into the mistake of imagining that the " erring breth- 
ren," toward whom a concession of courtesy is recommended by the writer of this 
letter, were the people of the seceding, or even of the border, States. It is evident 
from the context that he means the people of those so-called " Republican " States 
which had fallen into the error of taking part in a plan for peace, which might have 
averted the bloodletting recommended. 


efforts made to effect a settlement and avert the impending dis- 
asters. A plan was finally agreed upon by a majority of the 
States represented, for certain amendments to the Federal Con- 
stitution, which it was hoped might be acceptable to all parties 
and put an end to further contention. In its leading features 
this plan resembled that of Mr. Crittenden, heretofore spoken 
of, which was still pending in the Senate, though with some 
variations, which were regarded as less favorable to the South. 
It was reported immediately to both Houses of the United 
States Congress. In the Senate, Mr. Crittenden promptly ex- 
pressed his willingness to accept it as a substitute for his own 
proposition, and eloquently urged its adoption. But the arro- 
gance of a sectional majority inflated by recent triumph was 
too powerful to be allayed by the appeals of patriotism or the 
counsels of wisdom. The plan of the Peace Conference was 
treated by the majority with the contemptuous indifference 
shown to every other movement for conciliation. Its mere con- 
sideration was objected to by the extreme radicals, and, although 
they failed in this, it was defeated on a vote, as were the Crit- 
tenden propositions. 

With the failure of these efforts, which occurred on the eve 
of the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, and the accession to power 
of a party founded on a basis of sectional aggression, and now 
thoroughly committed to its prosecution and perpetuation, ex- 
}3ired the last hopes of reconciliation and union. 

Note. — In the course of the debate in the Senate on these 
grave propositions, a manly and eloquent speech was made on the 
2d of March, 1861, by the Hon. Joseph Lane, a Senator from Or- 
egon, who had been the candidate of the Democratic State-rights 
party for the Vice-Presidency of the United States, in the can- 
vass of 1860. Some passages of this speech seem peculiarly appro- 
priate for insertion here. General Lane was replying to a speech 
of Mr. Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, afterward President of the 
United States : 

"Mr. President, the Senator from Tennessee complains of my 
remarks on his speech. He complains of the tone and temper of 
what I said. He complains that I replied at all, as I was a North- 
ern Senator. Mr. President, I am a citizen of this Union and a 


Senator of the United States. My residence is in the North, but 
I have never seen the day, and I never shall, when I will refuse 
justice as readily to the South as to the North. I know nothing 
but my country, the whole country, the Constitution, and the 
equality of the States — the equal right of every man in the com- 
mon territory of the whole country ; and by that I shall stand. 

" The Senator complains that I replied at all, as I was a North- 
ern Senator, and a Democrat whom he had supported at the last 
election for a high office. Now, I was, as I stated at the time, 
surprised at the Senator's speech, because I understood it to be 
for coercion, as I think it was understood by almost everybody 
else, except, as we are now told, by the Senator himself ; and I 
still think it amounted to a coercion speech, notwithstanding the 
soft and plausible phrases by which he describes it — a speech for 
the execution of the laws and the protection of the Federal prop- 
erty. Sir, if there is, as I contend, the right of secession, then, 
whenever a State exercises that right, this Government has no 
laws in that State to execute, nor has it any property in any such 
State that can be protected by the power of this Government. In 
attempting, however, to substitute the smooth phrases l executing 
the laws ' and ' protecting public property ' for coercion, for civil 
war, we have an important concession : that is, that this Govern- 
ment dare not go before the people with a plain avowal of its real 
purposes and of their consequences. No, sir ; the policy is to 
inveigle the people of the North into civil war, by masking the 
design in smooth and ambiguous terms."— (" Congressional Globe," 
second session, Thirty-sixth Congress, p. 1347.) 


Northern Protests against Coercion. — The " New York Tribune," Albany " Argus," 
and " New York Herald." — Great Public Meeting in New York. — Speeches of 
Mr. Thayer, ex-Governor Seymour, ex-Chancellor Walworth, and Others. — The 
Press in February, ]861. — Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural. — The Marvelous Change or 
Suppression of Conservative Sentiment. — Historic Precedents. 

It is a great mistake, or misstatement of fact, to assume that, 
at the period under consideration, the Southern States stood 
alone in the assertion of the principles which have been laid 


down in this work, with regard to the right of secession and the 
wrong of coercion. Down to the formation of the Confederate 
Government, the one was distinctly admitted, the other still 
more distinctly disavowed and repudiated, by many of the 
leaders of public opinion in the North of both parties — indeed, 
any purpose of direct coercion was disclaimed by nearly all. 
If presented at all, it was in the delusive and ambiguous guise 
of "the execution of the laws" and "protection of the public 

The " New York Tribune " — the leading organ of the party 
which triumphed in the election of 1860 — had said, soon after 
the result of that election was ascertained, with reference to 
secession : " We hold, with Jefferson, to the inalienable right of 
communities to alter or abolish forms of government that have 
become oppressive or injurious ; and, if the cotton States shall 
decide that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we 
insist on letting them go in peace. The right to secede may be 
a revolutionary right, but it exists nevertheless ; and we do not 
see how one party can have a right to do what another party 
has a right to prevent. We must ever resist the asserted right 
of any State to remain in the Union and nullify or defy the 
laws thereof : to withdraw from the Union is quite another 
matter. And, whenever a considerable section of our Union 
shall deliberately resolve to go out, we shall resist all coercive 
measures designed to Tceep her in. We hope never to live in a 
republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayo- 
nets ■." * 

The only liberty taken with this extract has been that of 
presenting' certain parts of it in italics. Nothing that has ever 
been said by the author of this work, in the foregoing chapters, 
on the floor of the Senate, or elsewhere, more distinctly asserted 
the right of secession. Nothing that has been quoted from 
Hamilton, or Madison, or Marshall, or John Quincy Adams, 
more emphatically repudiates the claim of right to restrain or 
coerce a State in the exercise of its free choice. Nothing that 
has been said since the war which followed could furnish a 

* "New York Tribune" of November 9, 1860, quoted in "The American Con- 
flict," vol. i, chap, xxiii, p. 359. 


more striking condemnation of its origin, prosecution, purposes, 
and results. A comparison of the sentiments above quoted, 
with the subsequent career of the party, of which that journal 
was and long had been the recognized organ, would exhibit a 
striking incongruity and inconsistency. 

The " Tribune " was far from being singular among its 
Northern contemporaries in the entertainment of such views, 
as Mr. Greeley, its chief editor, has shown by many citations in 
his book, " The American Conflict." The Albany " Argus," 
about the same time, said, in language which Mr. Greeley charac- 
terizes as " clear and temperate " : " We sympathize with and 
justify the South as far as this : their rights have been invaded 
to the extreme limit possible within the forms of the Constitu- 
tion ; and, beyond this limit, their feelings have been insulted 
and their interests and honor assailed by almost every possible 
form of denunciation and invective ; and, if we deemed it cer- 
tain that the real animus of the Republican party could be car- 
ried into the administration of the Federal Government, and 
become the permanent policy of the nation, we should think 
that all the instincts of self-preservation and of manhood right- 
fully impelled them to a resort to revolution and a separation 
from the Union, and we would applaud them and wish them 
godspeed in the adoption of such a remedy." 

Again, the same paper said, a day or two afterward : " If 
South Carolina or any other State, through a convention of 
her people, shall formally separate herself from the Union, prob- 
ably both the present and the next Executive will simply let her 
alone and quietly allow all the functions of the Federal Gov- 
ernment within her limits to he suspended. Any other course 
would oe madness; as it would at once enlist all the South- 
ern States in the controversy and plunge the whole country into 
a civil war. . . . As a matter of policy and wisdom, therefore, 
independent of the question of right, we should deem resort 
to force most disastrous." 

The " E~ew York Herald " — a journal which claimed to be 
independent of all party influences — about the same period said : 
"Each State is organized as a complete government, holding 
the purse and wielding the sword, possessing the right to break 


the tie of the confederation as a nation might break a treaty, 
and to repel coercion as a nation might repel invasion. . . . 
Coercion, if it were possible, is out of the question." 

On the 31st of January, 1861 — after six States had already 
seceded — a great meeting was held in the city of New York, to 
consider the perilous condition of the country. At this meet- 
ing Mr. James S. Thayer, " an old-line "Whig," made a speech, 
which was received with great applause. The following ex- 
tracts from the published report of Mr. Thayer's speech will 
show the character of the views which then commanded the 
cordial approval of that metropolitan audience : 

" We can at least, in an authoritative way and a practical man- 
ner, arrive at the basis of a peaceable separation. [Cheers.] We 
can at least by discussion enlighten, settle, and concentrate the 
public sentiment in the State of New York upon this question, 
and save it from that fearful current, which circuitously but cer- 
tainly sweeps madly on, through the narrow gorge of 'the en- 
forcement of the laws,' to the shoreless ocean of civil war ! 
[Cheers.] Against this, under all circumstances, in every place 
and form, we must now and at all times oppose a resolute and un- 
faltering resistance. The public mind will bear the avowal, and 
let us make it — that, if a revolution of force is to begin, it shall 
be inaugurated at home. And if the incoming Administration 
shall attempt to carry out the line of policy that has been fore- 
shadowed, we announce that, when the hand of Black Republican- 
ism turns to blood-red, and seeks from the fragment of the Con- 
stitution to construct a scaffolding for coercion — another name 
for execution — we will reverse the order of the French Revolu- 
tion, and save the blood of the people by making those who would 
inaugurate a reign of terror the first victims of a national guillo- 
tine ! " [Enthusiastic applause.] 

And again : 

" It is announced that the Republican Administration will en- 
force the laws against and in all the seceding States. A nice dis- 
crimination must be exercised in the performance of this duty. 
You remember the story of William Tell. . . . Let an arrow 
winged by the Federal bow strike the heart of an American citi- 
zen, and who can number the avenging darts that will cloud the 


heavens in the conflict that will ensue? [Prolonged applause.] 
What, then, is the duty of the State of New York ? What shall 
we say to our people when we come to meet this state of facts ? 
That the Union must be preserved ? But, if that can not be, what 
then ? Peaceable separation. [Applause.] Painful and humiliat- 
ing as it is, let us temper it with all we can of love and kindness, 
so that we may yet be left in a comparatively prosperous con- 
dition, in friendly relations with another Confederacy." [Cheers.] 

At the same meeting ex-Governor Horatio Seymour asked 
the question — on which subsequent events have cast their own 
commentary — whether " successful coercion by the North is less 
revolutionary than successful secession by the South ? Shall 
we prevent revolution [he added] by being foremost in over- 
throwing the principles of our Government, and all that makes 
it valuable to our people and distinguishes it among the nations 
of the earth \ " 

The venerable ex-Chancellor Walworth thus expressed him- 
self : 

" It would be as brutal, in my opinion, to send men to butcher 
our own brothers of the Southern States as it would be to mas- 
sacre them in the Northern States. We are told, however, that 
it is our duty to, and we must, enforce the laws. But why — and 
what laws are to be enforced ? There were laws that were to be 
enforced in the time of the American Revolution. . . . Did Lord 
Chatham go for enforcing those laws ? No, he gloried in defense 
of the liberties of America. He made that memorable declaration 
in the British Parliament, ' If I were an American citizen, instead 
of being, as I am, an Englishman, I never would submit to such 
laws — never, never, never ! ' " [Prolonged applause.] 

Other distinguished speakers expressed themselves in simi- 
lar terms — varying somewhat in their estimate of the propriety 
of the secession of the Southern States, but all agreeing in em- 
phatic and unqualified reprobation of the idea of coercion. A 
series of conciliatory resolutions was adopted, one of which 
declares that " civil war will not restore the Union, but will 
defeat for ever its reconstruction." 

At a still later period — some time in the month of Febni- 


ary — the " Free Press," a leading paper in Detroit, had the fol- 
lowing : 

" If there shall not be a change in the present seeming purpose 
to vield to no accommodation of the national difficulties, and if 
troops shall be raised in the North to march agains^ the people of 
the South, afire in the rear will be opened upon such troops, which 
will either stop their march altogether or wonderfully acceler- 
ate it." 

The " Union," of Bangor, Maine, spoke no less decidedly to 
the same effect : 

" The difficulties between the North and the South must be 
compromised, or the separation of the States shall be peaceable. 
If the Republican party refuse to go the full length of the Crit- 
tenden amendment — which is the very least the South can or 
ought to take — then, here in Maine, not a Democrat will be found 
who will raise his arm against his brethren of the South. From 
one end of the State to the other let the cry of the Democracy 
be, Compromise ok Peaceable Separation ! " 

That these were not expressions of isolated or exceptional 
sentiment is evident from the fact that they were copied with 
approval by other Northern journals. 

Mr. Lincoln, when delivering his inaugural address, on the 
4th of March, 1861, had not so far lost all respect for the con- 
secrated traditions of the founders of the Constitution and for 
the majesty of the principle of State sovereignty as oj^enly to 
enunciate the claim of coercion. While arguing against the 
right to secede, and asserting his intention " to hold, occupy, 
and possess the property and places belonging to the Govern- 
ment, and collect the duties and imposts," he says that, " be- 
yond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no 
invasion, no using of force against or among the people any- 
where," and appends to this declaration the following pledge : 

" Where hostility to the United States shall be so great as to 
prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal 
offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers 
among the people for that object. While the strict legal right 


may exist of the Government to enforce the exercise of these 
offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly 
impracticable withal, that I deem it better to forego for the time 
the uses of such offices." 

These extracts will serve to show that the people of the 
South were not without grounds for cherishing the hope, to 
which they so fondly clung, that the separation would, indeed, 
be as peaceable in fact as it was, on their part, in purpose ; 
that the conservative and patriotic feeling still existing in the 
North would control the elements of sectional hatred and 
bloodthirsty fanaticism; and that there would be really "no 

And here the ingenuous reader may very naturally ask, 
What became of all this feeling? How was it that, in the 
course of a few weeks, it had disappeared like a morning mist ? 
Where was the host of men who had declared that an army 
marching to invade the Southern States should first pass over 
their dead bodies ? ISTo new question had arisen — no change in 
the attitude occupied by the seceding States — no cause for con- 
troversy not already existing when these utterances were .made. 
And yet the sentiments which they expressed were so entirely 
swept away by the tide of reckless fury which soon afterward 
impelled an armed invasion of the South, that (with a few 
praiseworthy but powerless exceptions) scarcely a vestige of 
them was left. Not only were they obliterated, but seemingly 

I leave to others to offer, if they can, an explanation of this 
strange phenomenon. To the student of human nature, how- 
ever, it may not seem altogether without precedent, when he 
remembers certain other instances on record of mutations in 
public sentiment equally sudden and extraordinary. Ten thou- 
sand swords that would have leaped from their scabbards — as 
the English statesman thought — to avenge even a look of in- 
sult to a lovely queen, hung idly in their places when she was 
led to the scaffold in the midst of the vilest taunts and execra- 
tions. The case that we have been considering was, perhaps, 
only an illustration of the general truth that, in times of revolu- 


tionary excitement, the higher and better elements are crashed 
and silenced by the lower and baser — not so mnch on account 
of their greater extent, as of their greater violence. 


Temper of the Southern People indicated by the Action of the Confederate Con- 
gress. — The Permanent Constitution. — Modeled after the Federal Constitution. 
— Variations and Special Provisions. — Provisions with Regard to Slavery and 
the Slave-Trade. — A False Assertion refuted. — Excellence of the Constitution. — 
Admissions of Hostile or Impartial Criticism. 

The conservative temper of the people of the Confederate 
States was conspicuously exhibited in the most important prod- 
uct of the early labors of their representatives in Congress as- 
sembled. The Provisional Constitution, although prepared only 
for temporary use, and necessarily in some haste, was so well 
adapted for the purposes which it was intended to serve, that 
many thought it would have been wise to continue it in force 
indefinitely, or at least until the independency of the Confed- 
eracy should be assured. The Congress, however, deeming it 
best that the system of Government should emanate from the 
people, accordingly, on the 11th of March, prepared the perma- 
nent Constitution, which was submitted to and ratified by the 
people of the respective States. 

Of this Constitution — which may be found in an appendix,* 
side by side with the Constitution of the United States — the 
Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, who was one of its authors, very 
properly says : 

" The whole document utterly negatives . the idea, which so 
many have been active in endeavoring to put in the enduring 
form of history, that the Convention at Montgomery was nothing 
but a set of 'conspirators,' whose object was the overthrow of the 
principles of the Constitution of the United States, and the erec- 
tion of a great ' slavery oligarchy,' instead of the free institutions 
thereby secured and guaranteed. This work of the Montgomery 

* See Appendix K. 


Convention, with that of the Constitution for a Provisional Gov- 
ernment, will ever remain, not only as a monument of the wisdom, 
forecast, and statesmanship of the men who constituted it, but an 
everlasting refutation of the charges which have been brought 
against them. These works together show clearly that their only 
leading object was to sustain, uphold, and perpetuate the funda- 
mental principles of the Constitution of the United States." * 

The Constitution of the United States was the model fol- 
lowed throughout, with only such changes as experience sug- 
gested for better practical working or for greater perspicuity. 
The preamble to both instruments is the same in substance, and 
very nearly identical in language. The words " We, the peo- 
ple of the United States," in one, are replaced by " We, the 
people of the Confederate States," in the other ; and the gross 
perversion which has been made of the former expression is 
precluded in the latter merely by the addition of the explana- 
tory clause, " each State acting in its sovereign and indepen- 
dent character " — an explanation which, at the time of the for- 
mation of the Constitution of the United States, would have 
been deemed entirely superfluous. 

The official term of the President was fixed at six instead of 
four years, and it was provided that he should not be eligible 
for reelection. This was in accordance with the original draft 
of the Constitution of 1787. t 

The President was empowered to remove officers of his 
Cabinet, or those engaged in the diplomatic service, at his dis- 
cretion, but in all other cases removal from office could be 
made only for cause, and the cause was to be reported to the 

Congress was authorized to provide by law for the admis- 
sion of " the principal officer in each of the executive depart- 
ments" (or Cabinet officers) to a seat upon the floor of either 
House, with the privilege of taking part in the discussion of 
subjects pertaining to his department. § This wise and judi- 
cious provision, which would have tended to obviate much 

* " War between the States," vol. ii, col. xix, p. 389. 

f See Article II, section 1. \ Ibid., section 2, ^ 3. § Article I, section 6, "J[ 2. 


delay and misunderstanding, was, however, never put into exe- 
cution by the necessary legislation. 

Protective duties for the benefit of special branches of 
industry, which had been so fruitful a source of trouble under 
the Government of the United States, were altogether prohibit- 
ed.* So, also, were bounties from the Treasury, f and extra 
compensation for services rendered by officers, contractors, or 
employees, of any description. J 

A vote of two thirds of each House was requisite for the 
appropriation of money from the Treasury, unless asked for by 
the chief of a department and submitted to Congress by the 
President, or for payment of the expenses of Congress, or 
of claims against the Confederacy judicially established and 
declared. § The President was also authorized to approve 
any one appropriation and disapprove any other in the same 
bill. 1 

With regard to the impeachment of Federal officers, it was 
intrusted, as formerly, to the discretion of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, with the additional provision, however, that, in the 
case of any judicial or other officer exercising his functions 
solely within the limits of a particular State, impeachment 
might be made by the Legislature of such State — the trial in 
all cases to be by the Senate of the Confederate States.^ 

Any two or more States were authorized to enter into com- 
pacts with each other for the improvement of the navigation 
of rivers flowing between or through them.** A vote of two 
thirds of each House — the Senate voting by States — was re- 
quired for the admission of a new State, f f 

With regard to amendments of the Constitution, it was 
made obligatory upon Congress, on the demand of any three 
States, concurring in the proposed amendment or amendments, 
to summon a convention of all the Stafes to consider and act 
upon them, voting by States, but restricted in its action to the 
particular propositions thus submitted. If approved by such 

* Article I, section 8, % 1. i Ibid., section 7, If 2. 

f Ibid. 1 Ibid., section 2, % 5. 

% Ibid., section 9, f 10. ** Ibid., section 10, ^ 3. 

§ Ibid., "If. 9. ft Article IV, section 3,11. 


convention, the amendments were to be subject to final ratifica- 
tion by two thirds of the States.* 

Other changes or modifications, worthy of special notice, re- 
lated to internal improvements, bankruptcy laws, duties on ex- 
ports, suits in the Federal courts, and the government of the 

With regard to slavery and the slave-trade, the provisions 
of this Constitution furnish an effectual answer to the asser- 
tion, so often made, that the Confederacy was founded on 
slavery, that slavery was its " corner-stone," etc. Property in 
slaves, already existing, was recognized and guaranteed, just as 
it was by the Constitution of the United States ; and the rights 
of such property in the common Territories were protected 
against any such hostile discrimination as had been attempted in 
the Union. But the " extension of slavery," in the only prac- 
tical sense of that phrase, was more distinctly and effectually 
precluded by the Confederate than by the Federal Constitution. 
This will be manifest on a comparison of the provisions of the 
two relative to the slave-trade. These are found at the begin- 
ning of the ninth section of the first article of each instrument. 
The Constitution of the United States has the following : 

" The migration or importation of such persons as any of the 
States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be pro- 
hibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight 
hundred and eight ; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such 
importations, not exceeding ten dollars for each person." 

The Confederate Constitution, on the other hand, ordained 
as follows : 

" 1. The importation of negroes of the African race from any 
foreign country, other than the slaveholding States or Territories 
of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden ; and Con- 
gress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the 

" 2. Congress shall also have the power to prohibit the intro- 

* Article V. 

f Article I, section 8, ^\ 1 and 4, section 9, \ 6 ; Article III, section 2, \ 1 ; 
Article IV, section 3, *{ 3. 


duction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory 
not belonging to, this Confederacy." 

In the case of the United States, the only prohibition is 
against any interference by Congress with the slave-trade for a 
term of years, and it was further legitimized by the authority 
given to impose a duty upon it. The term of years, it is true, 
had long since expired, but there was still no prohibition of the 
trade by the Constitution ; it was after 1808 entirely within the 
discretion of Congress either to encourage, tolerate, or prohibit it. 

Under the Confederate Constitution, on the contrary, the 
African slave-trade was " hereby forbidden" positively and 
unconditionally, from the beginning. Neither the Confederate 
Government nor that of any of the States could permit it, and 
the Congress was expressly " required " to enforce the prohibi- 
tion. The only discretion in the matter intrusted to the Con- 
gress was, whether or not to permit the introduction of slaves 
from any of the United States or their Territories. 

Mr. Lincoln, in his inaugural address, had said: "I have 
no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institu- 
tion of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have 
no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." 
Now, if there was no purpose on the part of the Government 
of the United States, to interfere with the institution of slavery 
within its already existing limits — a proposition which permitted 
its propagation within those limits by natural increase — and 
inasmuch as the Confederate Constitution precluded any other 
than the same natural increase, we may plainly perceive the 
disingenuousness and absurdity of the pretension by which a 
factitious sympathy has been obtained in certain quarters for the 
war upon the South, on the ground that it was a war in behalf 
of freedom against slavery.* > 

* As late as the 22d of April, 1861, Mr. Seward, United States Secretary of 
State, in a dispatch to Mr. Dayton, Minister to France, since made public, expressed 
the views and purposes of the United States Government in the premises as fol- 
lows. It may be proper to explain that, by what he is pleased to term " the revolu- 
tion," Mr. Seward means the withdrawal of the Southern States ; and that the 
words italicized are, perhaps, not so distinguished in the original. He says : 
" The Territories will remain in all respects the same, whether the revolution 


I had no direct part in the preparation of the Confederate 
Constitution. ~No consideration of delicacy forbids me, there- 
fore, to say, in closing this brief review of that instrument, that 
it was a model of wise, temperate, and liberal statesmanship. 
Intelligent criticism, from hostile as well as friendly sources, has 
been compelled to admit its excellences, and has sustained the 
judgment of a popular Northern journal which said, a few days 
after it was adopted and published : 

" The new Constitution is the Constitution of the United States 
with various modifications and some very important and most 
desirable improvements. We are free to say that the invaluable 
reforms enumerated should be adopted by the United States, with 
or without a reunion of the seceded States, and as soon as possible. 
But why not accept them with the propositions of the Confederate 
States on slavery as a basis of reunion ? " * 


The Commission to Washington City. — Arrival of Mr. Crawford. — Mr. Buchanan's 
Alarm. — Note of the Commissioners to the New Administration. — Mediation 
of Justices Nelson and Campbell. — The Difficulty about Forts Sumter and Pick- 
ens. — Mr. Secretary Seward's Assurances. — Duplicity of the Government at 
Washington. — Mr. Fox's Visit to Charleston.— Secret Preparations for Coer- 
cive Measures. — Visit of Mr. Lamon. — Renewed Assurances of Good Faith. — 
Notification to Governor Pickens. — Developments of Secret History. — System- 
atic and Complicated Perfidy exposed. 

The appointment of Commissioners to proceed to "Washing- 
ton, for the purpose of establishing friendly relations with the 
United States and effecting an equitable settlement of all ques- 

shall succeed or shall fail. The condition of slavery in the several States xvill re- 
main just the same, whether it succeed or fail. There is not even a pretext for the 
complaint that the disaffected States are to be conquered by the United States if the 
revolution fails; for the rights of the States and the condition of every being in 
them will remain subject to exactly the same laws and forms of administration, 
whether the revolution shall succeed or whether it shall fail. In the one case, the 
States would be federally connected with the new Confederacy ; in the other, they 
would, as now, be members of the United States ; but their Constitutions and laws, 
customs, habits, and institutions, in either case, will remain the same" 
* "New York Herald," March 19, 1861. 


tions relating to the common property of the States and the 
public debt, has already been mentioned. No time was lost in 
carrying this purpose into execution. Mr. Crawford — first of the 
Commissioners — left Montgomery on or about the 27th of Feb- 
ruary, and arrived in Washington two or three days before the 
expiration of Mr. Buchanan's term of office as President of the 
United States. Besides his official credentials, he bore the fol- 
lowing letter to the President, of a personal or semi-official char- 
acter, intended to facilitate, if possible, the speedy accomplish- 
ment of the objects of his mission : 

" To the President of the United States. 

" Sir : Being animated by an earnest desire to unite and bind 
together our respective countries by friendly ties, I have appointed 
Martin J. Crawford, one of our most esteemed and trustworthy 
citizens, as special Commissioner of the Confederate States to the 
Government of the United States ; and I have now the honor to 
introduce him to you, and to ask for him a reception and treat- 
ment corresponding to his station, and to the purposes for which 
he is sent. 

" Those purposes he will more particularly explain to you. 
Hoping that through his agency these may be accomplished, I 
avail myself of this occasion to offer to you the assurance of my 
distinguished consideration. 

" Jefferson. Davis. 
" Montgomeky, February 27, 1861" 

It may here be mentioned, in explanation of my desire that 
the commission, or at least a part of it, should reach Washing- 
ton before the close of Mr. Buchanan's term, that I had received 
an intimation from him, through a distinguished Senator of one 
of the border States,* that he would be happy to receive a Com- 
missioner or Commissioners from the Confederate States, and 
would refer to the Senate any communication that might be 
made through such a commission. 

Mr. Crawford — now a Judge of the Supreme Court of Geor- 
gia, and the only surviving member of the commission — in a 
manuscript account, which he has kindly furnished, of his recol- 

* Mr. Hunter, of Virginia. 


lections of events connected with it, says that, on arriving in 
Washington at the early honr of half -past four o'clock in the 
morning, he was " surprised to see Pennsylvania Avenue, from 
the old National to Willard's Hotel, crowded with men hurry- 
ing, some toward the former, but most of the faces in the direc- 
tion of the latter, where the new President [Mr. Lincoln, Presi- 
dent-elect], the great political almoner, for the time being, had 
taken up his lodgings. At this point," continues Judge Craw- 
ford, " the crowd swelled to astonishing numbers of expectant 
and hopeful men, awaiting an opportunity, either to see Mr. 
Lincoln himself, or to communicate with him through some one 
who might be so fortunate as to have access to his presence." 

Describing his reception in the Federal capital, Judge Craw- 
ford says: 

" The feverish and emotional condition of affairs soon made 
the presence of the special Commissioner at Washington known 
throughout the city. Congress was still, of course, in session ; 
Senators and members of the House of Representatives, excepting 
those of the Confederate States, who had withdrawn, were in their 
seats, and the manifestations of anxious care and gloomy forebod- 
ings were plainly to be seen on all sides. This was not confined 
to sections, but existed among the men of the North and West as 
well as those of the South. . . . 

"*Mr. Buchanan, the President, was in a state of most thorough 
alarm, not only for his home at Wheatland, but for his personal 
safety.* In the very few days which had elapsed between the 
time of his promise to receive a Commissioner from the Confeder- 
ate States and the actual arrival of the Commissioner, he had be- 
come so fearfully panic-stricken, that he declined either to receive 
him or to send any message to the Senate touching the subject- 
matter of his mission. 

"The Commissioner had been for several years in Congress 
before the Administration of Mr. Buchanan, as well as during his 
official term, and had always been in close political and social 

* This statement is in accord with a remark which Mr. Buchanan made to the 
author at an earlier period of the same session, with regard to the violence of North- 
ern sentiment then lately indicated, that he thought it not impossible that his home- 
ward route would be lighted by burning effigies of himself, and that on reaching 
his home he would find it a heap of ashes. 


relations with him ; yet he was afraid of a public visit from him. 
He said that he had only three days of official life left, and could 
incur no further dangers or reproaches than those he had already 
borne from the press and public speakers of the North. 

" The intensity of the prevalent feeling increased as the vast 
crowds, arriving by every train, added fresh material ; and hatred 
and hostility toward our new Government were manifested in 
almost every conceivable manner." 

Another of the Commissioners (Mr. Forsyth) having arrived 
in Washington on the 12th of March — eight days after the in- 
auguration of Mr. Lincoln — the two Commissioners then pres- 
ent, Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, addressed to Mr. Seward, 
Secretary of State, a note informing him of their presence, 
stating the friendly and peaceful purposes of their mission, and 
requesting the appointment of a day, as early as possible, for 
the presentation to the President of the United States of their 
credentials and the objects which they had in view. This letter 
will be found in the Appendix,* with other correspondence 
which ensued, published soon after the events to which it re- 
lates. The attention of the reader is specially invited to these 
documents, but, as additional revelations have been made since 
they were first published, it will be proper, in order to a full 
understanding of the transactions to which they refer, to -give 
here a brief statement of the facts. 

No written answer to the note of the Commissioners was 
delivered to them for twenty-seven days after it was written. 
The paper of Mr. Seward, in reply, without signature or ad- 
dress, dated March 15th,f was " filed," as he states, on that 
day, in the Department of State, but a copy of it was not 
handed to the Commissioners until the 8th of April. But an 
oral answer had been made to the note of the Commissioners 
at a much earlier date, for the significance of which it will be 
necessary to bear in mind the condition of affairs at Charleston 
and Pensacola. 

Fort Sumter was still occupied by the garrison under com- 
mand of Major Anderson, with no material change in the cir- 

* See Appendix L. f Ibid. 


cumstances since the failure of the attempt made in January 
to reenforce it by means of the Star of the West. This stand- 
ing menace at the gates of the chief harbor of South Carolina 
had been tolerated by the government and people of that State, 
and afterward by the Confederate authorities, in the abiding 
hope that it would be removed without compelling a collision 
of forces. Fort Pickens, on one side of the entrance to the 
harbor of Pensacola, was also occupied by a garrison of United 
States troops, while the two forts (Barrancas and McRee) on 
the other side were in possession of the Confederates. Com- 
munication by sea was not entirely precluded, however, in the 
case of Fort Pickens ; the garrison had been strengthened, and 
a fleet of Federal men-of-war was lying outside of the harbor. 
The condition of affairs at these forts — especially at Fort Sum- 
ter — was a subject of anxiety with the friends of peace, and 
the hope of settling by negotiation the questions involved in 
their occupation had been one of the most urgent motives for 
the prompt dispatch of the Commissioners to "Washington. 

The letter of the Commissioners to Mr. Seward was written, 
as we have seen, on the 12th of March. The oral message, 
above mentioned, was obtained and communicated to the Com- 
missioners through the agency of two Judges of the Supreme 
Court of the United States — Justices Nelson, of New York, 
and Campbell, of Alabama. On the 15th of March, according 
to the statement of Judge Campbell,* Mr. Justice Nelson visited 
the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury and the Attorney- 
General (Messrs. Seward, Chase, and Bates), to dissuade them 
from undertaking to put in execution any policy of coercion. 
" During the term of the Supreme Court he had very carefully 
examined the laws of the United States to enable him to attain 
his conclusions, and from time to time he had consulted the 
Chief Justice [Taney] upon the questions which his examina- 
tion had suggested. His conclusion was that, without very seri- 
ous violations of Constitution and statutes, coercion could not 
be successfully effected by the executive department. I had 

* See letter of Judge Campbell to Colonel George W. Munford in " Papers of 
the Southern Historical Society," appended to " Southern Magazine " for Feb- 
ruary, 1874. 


made [continues Judge Campbell] a similar examination, and 
I concurred in his conclusions and opinions. As he was return- 
ing from his visit to the State Department, we casually met, 
and he informed me of what he had done. He said he had 
spoken to these officers at large ; that he was received with 
respect and listened to with attention by all, with approbation 
by the Attorney-General, and with great cordiality by the 
Secretary of State ; that the Secretary had expressed gratifica- 
tion to find so many impediments to the disturbance of peace, 
and only wished there had been more. He stated that the 
Secretary told him there was a present cause of embarrassment : 
that the Southern Commissioners had demanded recognition, 
and a refusal would lead to irritation and excitement in the 
Southern States, and would cause a counter-irritation and ex- 
citement in the Northern States, prejudicial to a peaceful ad- 
justment. Justice Nelson suggested that I might be of service." 

The result of the interview between these two distinguished 
gentlemen, we are informed, was another visit, by both of them, 
to the State Department, for the purpose of urging Mr. Seward 
to reply to the Commissioners, and assure them of the desire of 
the United States Government for a friendly adjustment. Mr. 
Seward seems to have objected to an immediate recognition of 
the Commissioners, on the ground that the state of public sen- 
timent in the North would not sustain it, in connection with 
the withdrawal of the troops from Fort Sumter, which had been 
determined on. " The evacuation of Sumter," he said, " is as 
much as the Administration can bear." 

Judge Campbell adds : " I concurred in the conclusion that 
the evacuation of Sumter involved responsibility, and stated 
that there could not be too much caution in the adoption of 
measures so as not to shock or to irritate the public sentiment, 
and that the evacuation of Sumter was sufficient for the present 
in that direction. I stated that I would see the Commissioners, 
and I would write to Mr. Davis to that effect. I asked him 
what I should say as to Sumter and as to Pickens. He author- 
ized me to say that, before that letter could reach him [Mr. 
Davis], he would learn by telegraph that the order for the evac- 
uation of Sumter had been made. He said the condition of 

1861] PLEDGES GIVEN. 269 

Pickens was satisfactory, and there would be no change made 
there." The italics in this extract are my own. 

The letter in which this promise was communicated to me 
has been lost, but it was given in substantially the terms above 
stated as authorized by Mr. Seward — that the order for the 
evacuation of the fort would be issued before the letter could 
reach me. The same assurance was given, on the same day, to 
the Commissioners. Judge Campbell tells us that Mr. Craw- 
ford was slow to consent to refrain from pressing the demand 
for recognition. " It was only after some discussion and the 
expression of some objections that he consented" to do so. 
This consent was clearly one part of a stipulation, of which the 
other part was the pledge that the fort would be evacuated in 
the course of a few days. Mr. Crawford required the pledge 
of Mr. Seward to be reduced to writing, with Judge Camp- 
bell's personal assurance of its genuineness and accuracy.* This 
written statement was exhibited to Judge Nelson, before its 
delivery, and approved by him. The fact that the pledge had 
been given in his name and behalf was communicated to Mr. 
Seward the same evening by letter. He was cognizant of, con- 
senting to, and in great part the author of, the whole • transac- 

It will be observed that not onlv the Commissioners in 


Washington, but the Confederate Government at Montgomery 
also, were thus assured on the highest authority — that of the 
Secretary of State of the United States, the official organ of 
communication of the views and purposes of his Government — 
of the intention of that Government to order the evacuation of 
Fort Sumter within a few days from the 15th of March, and 
not to disturb the existing status at Fort Pickens. Moreover, 
this was not the mere statement of a fact, but & pledge, given as 

* " In the course of this conversation I told Judge Crawford that it was fair to 
tell him that the opinion at Washington was, the secession movements were short- 
lived ; that his Government would wither under sunshine, and that the effect of 
these measures might be as supposed ; that they might have a contrary effect, but 
that I did not consider the effect. I wanted, above all other things, peace. I was 
willing to accept whatever peace might bring, whether union or disunion. I did not 
look beyond peace. He said he was willing to take all the risks of sunshine." — 
(Letter of Judge Campbell to Colonel Munford, as above.) 


the consideration of an appeal to the Confederate Government 
and its Commissioners to refrain from embarrassing the Federal 
Administration by prosecuting any further claims at the same 
time. As such a pledge, it was accepted, and, while its fulfill- 
ment was quietly awaited, the Commissioners forbore to make 
any further demand for reply to their note of the 12th of 

Five days having elapsed in this condition of affairs, the 
Commissioners in "Washington telegraphed Brigadier-General 
Beauregard, commander of the Confederate forces at Charles- 
ton, inquiring whether the fort had been evacuated, or any 
action taken by Major Anderson indicating the probability of 
an evacuation. Answer was made to this dispatch, that the 
fort had not been evacuated, that there were no indications of 
such a purpose, but that Major Anderson was still working on 
its defenses. This dispatch was taken to Mr. Seward by Judge 
Campbell. Two interviews occurred in relation to it, at both 
of which Judge Nelson was also present. Of the result of 
these interviews, Judge Campbell states : " The last was full 
and satisfactory. The Secretary was buoyant and sanguine ; he 
spoke of his ability to carry through his policy with confidence. 
He accounted for the delay as accidental, and not involving the 
integrity of his assurance that the evacuation would take place, 
and that I should know whenever any change was made in the 
resolution in reference to Sumter or to Pickens. I repeated this 
assurance in writing to Judge Crawford, and informed Governor 
Seward in writing what I had said? * 

It would be incredible, but for the ample proofs which have 
since been brought to light, that, during all this period of reiter- 
ated assurances of a purpose to withdraw the garrison from Fort 
Sumter, and of excuses for delay on account of the difficulties 
which embarrassed it, the Government of the United States 
was assiduously engaged in devising means for furnishing sup- 
plies and reinforcements to the garrison, with the view of retain- 
ing possession of the fort ! 

Mr. G. Y. Fox, afterward Assistant Secretary of the United 

* Letter to Colonel Munford, above quoted. The italics are not in the 


States Navy, had proposed a plan for reenf orcing and furnishing 
supplies to the garrison of Fort Sumter in February, during the 
Administration of Mr. Buchanan. In a letter published in the 
newspapers since the war, he gives an account of the manner in 
which the proposition was renewed to the new Administration 
and its reception by them, as follows : 

" On the 12th of March I received a telegram from Postmaster- 
General Blair to come to Washington. I arrived there on the 
13th. Mr. Blair having been acquainted with the proposition I 
presented to General Scott, under Mr. Buchanan's Administration, 
sent for me to tender the same to Mr. Lincoln, informing me that 
Lieutenant-General Scott had advised the President that the fort 
could not be relieved, and must be given up. Mr. Blair took me 
at once to the White House, and I explained the plan to the Presi- 
dent. Thence we adjourned to Lieutenant-General Scott's office, 
where a renewed discussion of the subject took place. The Gen- 
eral informed the President that my plan was practicable in Feb- 
ruary, but that the increased number of batteries erected at the 
mouth of the harbor since that time rendered it impossible in 

" Finding that there was great opposition to any attempt at 
relieving Fort Sumter, and that Mr. Blair alone sustained the 
President in his policy of refusing to yield, I judged that my argu- 
ments in favor of the practicability of sending in supplies would 
be strengthened by a visit to Charleston and the fort. The Presi- 
dent readily agreed to my visit, if the Secretary of War and Gen- 
eral Scott raised no objection. 

" Both these gentlemen consenting, I left Washington on the 
19th of March, and, passing through Richmond and Wilmington, 
reached Charleston on the 21st." 

Thus we see that, at the very moment when Mr. Secretary 
Seward was renewing to the Confederate Government, through 
Judge Campbell, his positive assurance that "the evacuation 
would take place," this emissary was on his way to Charleston 
to obtain information and devise measures by means of which 
this promise might be broken. 

On his arrival in Charleston, Mr. Fox tells us that he sought 
an interview with Captain Hartstein, of the Confederate Navy, 


and through this officer obtained from Governor Pickens per- 
mission to visit Fort Sumter. He fails, in his narrative, to state, 
what we learn from Governor Pickens himself,* that this per- 
mission was obtained " expressly upon the pledge of ' pacific 
purposes.' " Notwithstanding this pledge, he employed the op- 
portunity afforded by his visit to mature the details of his plan 
for furnishing supplies and reenf orcements to the garrison. He 
did not, he says, communicate his plan or purposes to Major 
Anderson, the commanding officer of the garrison, having dis- 
cernment enough, perhaps, to divine that the instincts of that 
brave and honest soldier would have revolted at and rebuked 
the duplicity and perfidy of the whole transaction. The result 
of his visit was, however, reported at Washington, his plan was 
approved by President Lincoln, and he was sent to New York 
to make arrangements for putting it in execution. 

" In a very few days after " (says Governor Pickens, in the mes- 
sage already quoted above), "another confidential agent, Colonel 
Lamon, was sent by the President [Mr. Lincoln], who informed 
me that he had come to try and arrange for the removal of the 
garrison, and, when he returned from the fort, asked if a war- ves- 
sel could not be allowed to remove them. I replied that no war- 
vessel could be allowed to enter the harbor on any terms. He said 
he believed Major Anderson preferred an ordinary steamer, and I 
agreed that the garrison might be thus removed. He said he 
hoped to return in a very few days for that purpose." 

This, it will be remembered, occurred while Mr. Fox was 
making active, though secret, preparations for his relief expedi- 

Colonel, or Major, Lamon, as he is variously styled in the 
correspondence, did not return to Charleston, as promised. 
About the 30th of March (which was Saturday) a telegram 
from Governor Pickens was received by the Commissioners in 
Washington, making inquiry with regard to Colonel Lamon, and 
the meaning of the protracted delay to fulfill the promise of 
evacuation. This was fifteen days after the original assurance 
of Mr. Seward that the garrison would be withdrawn imme- 

* Message to the Legislature of South Carolina, November, 1861. 

1861] FAITH AS TO SUMTER. 273 

diately, and ten days after his explanation that the delay was 
" accidental." The dispatch of Governor Pickens was taken by 
Judge Campbell to Mr. Seward, who appointed the ensuing 
Monday (1st of April) for an interview and answer. At that in- 
terview Mr. Seward informed Judge Campbell that " the Presi- 
dent was concerned about the contents of the telegram—- there 
was a point of honor involved; that Lamon had no agency 
from him, nor title to speak." * (This late suggestion of the 
point of honor would seem, under the circumstances, to have 
been made in a spirit of sarcastic pleasantry, like Sir John Fat- 
staff's celebrated discourse on the same subject.) The only sub- 
stantial result of the conversation, however, was the written 
assurance of Mr. Seward, to be communicated to the Commis- 
sioners, that "the Government will not undertake to supply 
Fort Sumter without giving notice to Governor Pickens." 

This, it will be observed, was a very material variation from 
the positive pledge previously given, and reiterated, to the 
Commissioners, to Governor Pickens, and to myself directly, 
that the fort was to be forthwith evacuated. Judge Campbell, 
in his account of the interview, says : " I asked him [Mr. Sew- 
ard] whether I was to understand that there had been a change 
in his former communications. His answer was, ' None.' " f 

About the close of the same week (the first in April), the 
patience of the Commissioners having now been wellnigh ex- 
hausted, and the hostile preparations of the Government of the 
United States, notwithstanding the secrecy with which they 
were conducted, having become matter of general rumor, a 
letter was addressed to Mr. Seward, upon the subject, by Judge 
Campbell, in behalf of the Commissioners, again asking whether 
the assurances so often given were well or ill founded. To this 
the Secretary returned answer in writing : " Faith as to Sumter 
fully kept. Wait and see? 

This was on the 7th of April.J The very next day (the 
8th) the following official notification (without date or signa- 

* Letter to Colonel Munford, above cited. f Letter to Munford. 

% Judge Campbell, in his letter to Mr. Seward of April 13, 1861 (see Appendix 
L), written a few days after the transaction, gives this date. In his letter to Colonel 
Munford, written more than twelve years afterward, he says " Sunday, April 8th." 


ture) was read to Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, and 
General Beauregard, in Charleston, by Mr. Chew, an official of 
the State Department (Mr. Seward's) in Washington, who said 
— as did a Captain or Lieutenant Talbot, who accompanied him 
— that it was from the President of the United States, and de- 
livered by him to Mr. Chew on the 6th — the day hefore Mr. 
Seward's assurance of "faithfully kept." 

" I am directed by the President of the United States to notify 
you to expect an attempt will be made to supply Fort Sumter 
with provisions only ; and that, if such an attempt be not resisted, 
no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition, will be made, 
without further notice, or in case of an attack upon the fort." * 

Thus disappeared the last vestige of the plighted faith and 
pacific pledges of the Federal Government. 

In order fully to appreciate the significance of this commu- 
nication, and of the time and circumstances of its delivery, it 
must be borne in mind that the naval expedition which had 
been secretly in preparation for some time at ISTew York, under 
direction of Captain Fox, was now ready to sail, and might rea- 
sonably be expected to be at Charleston almost immediately 
after the notification was delivered to Governor Pickens, and 
before preparation could be made to receive it. Owing to cross- 
purposes or misunderstandings in the Washington Cabinet, how- 
ever, and then to the delay caused by a severe storm at sea, 
this expectation was disappointed, and the Confederate com- 
mander at Charleston had opportunity to communicate with 
Montgomery and receive instructions for his guidance, before 
the arrival of the fleet, which had been intended to be a sur- 

In publications made since the war by members of Mr. Lin- 
coln's Cabinet, it has been represented that, during the period 
of the disgraceful transactions above detailed, there were dis- 
sensions and divisions in the Cabinet — certain members of it 
urging measures of prompt and decided coercion ; the Secretary 

* For this and other documents quoted relative to the transactions of the period, 
see " The Record of Fort Sumter," compiled by W. A. Harris, Columbia, South Car- 
olina, 1862. 


of State favoring a pacific or at least a dilatory policy ; and the 
President vacillating for a time between the two, but eventually 
adopting the views of the coercionists. In these statements it 
is represented that the assurances and pledges, given by Mr. 
Seward to the Confederate Government and its Commissioners, 
were given on his own authority, and without the consent or 
approval of the President of the United States. The absurdity 
of any such attempt to disassociate the action of the President 
from that of his Secretary, and to relieve the former of respon- 
sibility for the conduct of the latter, is too evident to require 
argument or comment. It is impossible to believe that, during 
this whole period of nearly a month, Mr. Lincoln was ignorant 
of the communications that were passing between the Confed- 
erate Commissioners and Mr. Seward, through the distinguished 
member of the Supreme Court — still holding his seat as such — 
who was acting as intermediary. On one occasion, Judge 
Campbell informs us that the Secretary, in the midst of an im- 
portant interview, excused himself for the purpose of conferring 
with the President before giving a final answer, and left his 
visitor for some time, awaiting his return from that conference, 
when the answer was given, avowedly and directly proceeding 
from the President. 

If, however, it were possible to suppose that Mr. Seward was 
acting on his own responsibility, and practicing a deception upon 
his own chief, as well as upon the Confederate authorities, in the 
pledges which he made to the latter, it is nevertheless certain 
that the principal facts were brought to light within a few days 
after the close of the efforts at negotiation. Yet the Secretary 
of State was not impeached and brought to trial for the grave 
offense of undertaking to conduct the most momentous and vital 
transactions that bad been or could be brought before the Gov- 
ernment of the United States, without the knowledge and in 
opposition to the will of the President, and for having involved 
the Government in dishonor, if not in disaster. He was not 
even dismissed from office, but continued to be the chief officer 
of the Cabinet and confidential adviser of the President, as he 
was afterward of the ensuing Administration, occupying that 
station during two consecutive terms. No disavowal of his ac- 


tion, no apology nor explanation, was ever made. Politically 
and legally, the President is unquestionably responsible in all 
cases for the action of any member of his Cabinet, and in this 
case it is as preposterous to attempt to dissever from him the 
moral, as it would be impossible to relieve him of the legal, 
responsibility that rests upon the Government of the United 
States for the systematic series of frauds perpetrated by its au- 

On the other hand, Mr. Seward, throughout the whole nego- 
tiation, was fully informed of the views of his colleagues in the 
Cabinet and of the President. Whatever his real hopes or pur- 
poses may have been in the beginning, it is positively certain 
that long before the end, and while still reiterating his assur- 
ances that the garrison would be withdrawn, he knew that it 
had been determined, and that active preparations were in prog- 
ress, to strengthen it. 

Mr. Gideon "Welles, who was Secretary of the Navy in Mr. 
Lincoln's Cabinet, gives the following account of one of the 
transactions of the period : 

" One evening in the latter part of the month of March, there 
was a small gathering at the Executive Mansion, while the Sum- 
ter question was still pending. The members of the Cabinet were 
soon individually and quietly invited to the council-chamber, 
where, as soon as assembled, the President informed them he had 
just been advised by General Scott that it was expedient to evac- 
uate Fort Pickens, as well as Fort Sumter, which last was as- 
sumed at military headquarters to be a determined fact, in con- 
formity with the views of Secretary Seward and the General-in- 
Chief. . . . 

"A brief silence followed the announcement of the amazing 
recommendation of General Scott, when Mr. Blair, who had been 
much annoyed by the vacillating course of the General-in-Chief 
in regard to Sumter, remarked, looking earnestly at Mr. Seward, 
that it was evident the old General was playing politician in re- 
gard to both Sumter and Pickens ; for it was not possible, if there 
was a defense, for the rebels to take Pickens ; and the Administra- 
tion would not be justified if it listened to his advice and evacu- 
ated either. Very soon thereafter, I think at the next Cabinet 


meeting, the President announced his decision that supplies should 
be sent to Sumter, and issued confidential orders to that effect. 
All were gratified with this decision, except Mr. Seward, who still 
remonstrated, but preparations were immediately commenced to Jit 
out an expedition to forward supplies" * 

This account is confirmed by a letter of Mr. Montgomery 
Blair.f The date of the announcement of the President's final 
purpose is fixed by Mr. Welles, in the next paragraph to that 
above quoted, as the 28th of March. This was four days before 
Mr. Seward's assurance given Judge Campbell — after confer- 
ence with the President — that there would be no departure 
from the pledges previously given (which were that the fort 
would be evacuated), and ten days before his written renewal of 
the assurance — "Faith as to Sumter fully kept Wait and 
see ! " This assurance, too, was given at the very moment when 
a messenger from his own department was on the way to 
Charleston to notify the Governor of South Carolina that faith 
would not be kept in the matter. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that the Commissioners had, 
with good reason, ceased to place any confidence in the promises 
of the United States Government, before they ceased to be 
made. On the 8th of April they sent the following dispatch 
to General Beauregard : 

" Washington, April 8, 1861. 

" Geneeal G. T. Beaueegaed : Accounts uncertain, because 
of the constant vacillation of this Government. "We were reas- 
sured yesterday that the status of Sumter would not be changed 
without previous notice to Governor Pickens, but we have no 
faith in them. The war policy prevails in the Cabinet at this time. 

"M. J. Ceawfoed." 

On the same day the announcement made to Governor 
Pickens through Mr. Chew was made known. The Commis- 
sioners immediately applied for a definitive answer to their note 
of March 12th, which had been permitted to remain in abey- 
ance. The paper of the Secretary of State, dated March 15th, 

* " Lincoln and Seward," New York, 1874, pp. 57, 58. The italics are not in 
the original. f Ibid., pp. 64-69. 


was thereupon delivered to them. This paper, with the final 
rejoinder of the Commissioners and Judge Campbell's letters 
to the Secretary of April 13th and April 20th, respectively, 
will be found in the Appendix. 

Negotiation was now at an end, and the Commissioners 
withdrew from Washington and returned to their homes. Their 
last dispatch, before leavirig, shows that they were still depen- 
dent upon public rumor and the newspapers for information as 
to the real purposes and preparations of the Federal Adminis- 
tration. It was in these words : 

" Washington, April 10, 1861. 
" General G. T. Beauregard : The ' Tribune ' of to-day de> 
clares the main object of the expedition to be the relief of Sum- 
ter, and that a force will be landed which will overcome all op- 
position. Roman, Crawford, and Forsyth." 

The annexed extracts from my message to the Confederate 
Congress at the opening of its special session, on the 29th of 
April, will serve as a recapitulation of the events above nar- 
rated, with all of comment that it was then, or is now, con- 
sidered necessary to add : 

[Extracts from President's Message to the Confederate Congress, of April 

29, 1861.] 

" . . . . Scarce had you assembled in February last, when, prior 
even to the inauguration of the Chief Magistrate you had elected, 
you expressed your desire for the appointment of Commissioners, 
and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement between 
the two Governments upon principles of right, justice, equity, and 
good faith. 

" It was my pleasure, as well as my duty, to cooperate with 
you in this work of peace. Indeed, in my address to you, on 
taking the oath of office, and before receiving from you the com- 
munication of this resolution, I had said that, as a necessity, not 
as a choice, we have resorted to the remedy of separating, and 
henceforth our energies must be directed to the conduct of our 
own affairs, and the perpetuity of the Confederacy which we have 
formed. If a just perception of mutual interest shall permit us 
to peaceably pursue our separate political career, my most earnest 
desire will then have been fulfilled. 


"It was in furtherance of these accordant views of the Con- 
gress and the Executive, that I made choice of three discreet, able, 
and distinguished citizens, who repaired to Washington. Aided 
by their cordial cooperation and that of the Secretary of State, 
every effort compatible with self-respect and the dignity of the 
Confederacy was exhausted, before I allowed myself to yield to 
the conviction that the Government of the United States was 
determined to attempt the conquest of this people, and that our 
cherished hopes of peace were unobtainable. 

" On the arrival of our Commissioners in Washington on the 
5th of March,* they postponed, at the suggestion of a friendly inter- 
mediator, doing more than giving informal notice of their arrival. 
This was done with a view to afford time to the President of the 
United States, who had just been inaugurated, for the discharge 
of other pressing official duties in the organization of his Admin- 
istration, before engaging his attention to the object of their 

"it was not until the 12th of the month that they officially 
addressed the Secretary of State, informing him of the purpose of 
their arrival, and stating in the language of their instructions their 
wish to make to the Government of the United States overtures 
for the opening of negotiations, assuring the Government of the 
United States that the President, Congress, and people of the Con- 
federate States desired a peaceful solution of these great ques- 
tions ; that it was neither their interest nor their wish to make 
any demand which was not founded on the strictest principles of 
justice, nor to do any act to injure their late confederates. 

" To this communication, no formal reply was received until 
the 8th of April. During the interval, the Commissioners had con- 
sented to waive all questions of form, with the firm resolve to 
avoid war, if possible. They went so far even as to hold, during 
that long period, unofficial intercourse through an intermediary, 
whose high position and character inspired the hope of success, 
and through whom constant assurances were received from the 
Government of the United States of its peaceful intentions — of 
its determination to evacuate Fort Sumter ; and, further, that no 
measure would be introduced changing the existing status preju- 
dicial to the Confederate States ; that, in the event of any change 

* Mr. Crawford, as we have seen, had arrived some days earlier. The statement 
in the message refers to the arrival of the full commission, or a majority of it. 


in regard to Fort Pickens, notice would be given to the Commis- 

" The crooked path of diplomacy can scarcely furnish an ex- 
ample so wanting in courtesy, in candor, and directness, as was 
the course of the United States Government toward our Com- 
missioners in Washington. For proof of this, I refer to the an- 
nexed documents marked, [?] taken in connection with further 
facts, which I now proceed to relate. 

" Early in April the attention of the whole country was at- 
tracted to extraordinary preparations, in New York and other 
Northern ports, for an extensive military and naval expedition. 
These preparations were commenced in secrecy for an expedition 
whose destination was concealed, and only became known when 
nearly completed ; and on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of April, transports 
and vessels of war, with troops, munitions, and military supplies, 
sailed from Northern ports, bound southward. 

" Alarmed by so extraordinary a demonstration, the Commis- 
sioners requested the delivery of an answer to their official com- 
munication of the 12th of March, and the reply, dated on the 15th 
of the previous month, was obtained, from which it appears that, 
during the whole interval, while the Commissioners were receiv- 
ing assurances calculated to inspire hope of the success of their 
mission, the Secretary of State and the President of the United 
States had already determined to hold no intercourse with them 
whatever, to refuse even to listen to any proposals they had to 
make ; and had profited by the delay created by their own assur- 
ances, in order to prepare secretly the means for effective hostile 

"That these assurances were given, has been virtually con- 
fessed by the Government of the United States, by its act of send- 
ing a messenger to Charleston to give notice of its purpose to use 
force, if opposed in its intention of supplying Fort Sumter. 

"No more striking proof of the absence of good faith in the 
conduct of the Government of the United States toward the 
Confederacy can be required, than is contained in the circum- 
stances which accompanied this notice. 

" According to the usual course of navigation, the vessels com- 
posing the expedition, and designed for the relief of Fort Sumter, 
might be looked for in Charleston Harbor on the 9th of April. 
Yet onr Commissioners in Washington were detained under assur- 


ances that notice should be given of any military movement. The 
notice was not addressed to them, but a messenger was sent to 
Charleston to give notice to the Governor of South Carolina, 
and the notice was so given at a late hour on the 8th of April, 
the eve of the very day on which the fleet might be expected to 

" That this manoeuvre failed in its purpose was not the fault 
of those who controlled it. A heavy tempest delayed the arrival 
of the expedition, and gave time to the commander of our forces 
at Charleston to ask and receive instructions of the Govern- 
ment." . . . 


Protests against the Conduct of the Government of the United States. — Senator 
Douglas's Proposition to evacuate the Forts, and Extracts from his Speech in 
Support of it. — General Scott's Advice. — Manly Letter of Major Anderson, pro- 
testing against the Action of the Federal Government. — Misstatements of the 
Count of Paris. — Correspondence relative to Proposed Evacuation of the Fort. — 
A Crisis. 

The course pursued by the Government of the United 
States with regard to the forts had not passed without earnest 
remonstrance from the most intelligent and patriotic of its own 
friends during the period of the events w T hich constitute the 
subject of the preceding chapter. In the Senate of the United 
States, which continued in. executive session for several weeks 
after the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, it was the subject of dis- 
cussion. Mr. Douglas, of Illinois — who was certainly not sus- 
pected of sympathy with secession, or lack of devotion to the 
Union — on the 15th of March offered a resolution recommend- 
ing the withdrawal of the garrisons from all forts within the 
limits of the States which had seceded, except those at Key 
West and the Dry Tortugas. In support of this resolution he 

" We certainly can not justify the holding of forts there, much 
less the recapturing of those which have been taken, unless we in- 
tend to reduce those States themselves into subjection. I take it 


for granted, no man will deny the proposition, that whoever perma- 
nently holds Charleston and South Carolina is entitled to the pos- 
session of Fort Sumter. Whoever permanently holds Pensacola and 
Florida is entitled to the possession of Fort Pickens. Whoever holds 
the States in whose limits those forts are placed is entitled to the 
forts themselves, unless there is something peculiar in the location 
of some particular fort that makes it important for us to hold it 
for the general defense of the whole country, its commerce and 
interests, instead of being useful only for the defense of a particu- 
lar city or locality. It is true that Forts Taylor and Jefferson, at 
Key West and Tortugas, are so situated as to be essentially na- 
tional, and therefore important to us without reference to our 
relations with the seceded States. Not so with Moultrie, Johnson, 
Castle Pinckney, and Sumter, in Charleston Harbor ; not so with 
Pulaski, on the Savannah River ; not so with Morgan and other 
forts in Alabama ; not so with those other forts that were intended 
to guard the entrance of a particular harbor for local defense. . . . 
" We can not deny that there is a Southern Confederacy, de 
facto, in existence, with its capital at Montgomery. We may re- 
gret it. I regret it most profoundly ; but I can not deny the truth 
of the fact, painful and mortifying as it is. ... I proclaim boldly 
the policy of those with whom I act. We are for peace." 

Mr. Douglas, in urging the maintenance of peace as a motive 
for the evacuation of the forts, was no doubt aware of the full 
force of his words. He knew that their continued occupation 
was virtually a declaration of war. 

The General-in-Chief of the United States Army, also, it is 
well known, urgently advised the evacuation of the forts. But 
the most striking protest against the coercive measures finally 
adopted was that of Major Anderson himself. The letter in 
which his views were expressed has been carefully suppressed 
in the partisan narratives of that period and wellnigh lost sight 
of, although it does the highest honor to his patriotism and in- 
tegrity. It was written on the same day on which the announce- 
ment was made to Governor Pickens of the purpose of the 
United States Government to send supplies to the fort, and is 
worthy of reproduction here : * 

* See "The Record of Fort Sumter," p. 37. 


[Letter of Major Anderson, United States Army, protesting against Fox's 
Plan for relieving Fort Sumter.] 

"Fort Sumter, S. C, April 8, 1861. 

" To Colonel L. Thomas, Adjutant- General United States Army. 

"Colonel : .1 have the honor to report that the resumption of 
work yesterday (Sunday) at various points on Morris Island, and 
the vigorous prosecution of it this morning, apparently strength- 
ening all the batteries which are under the fire of our guns, shows 
that they either have just received some news from Washington 
which has put them on the qui vive, or that they have received 
orders from Montgomery to commence operations here. I am pre- 
paring, by the side of my barbette guns, protection for our men 
from the shells which will be almost continually bursting over or 
in our work. 

" I had the honor to receive, by yesterday's mail, the letter of 
the Honorable Secretary of War, dated April 4th, and confess 
that what he there states surprises me very greatly — following, as 
it does, and contradicting so positively, the assurance Mr. Crawford 
telegraphed he was ' authorized 5 to make. I trust that this mat- 
ter will be at once put in a correct light, as a movement made now, 
when the South has been erroneously informed that none such 
would be attempted, would produce most disastrous results through- 
out our country. It is, of course, now too late for me to give any 
advice in reference to the proposed scheme of Captain Fox. I fear 
that its result can not fail to be disastrous to all concerned. Even 
with his boat at our walls, the loss of life (as I think I mentioned 
to Mr. Fox) in unloading her will more than pay for the good to 
be accomplished by the expedition, which keeps us, if I can main- 
tain possession of this work,' out of position, surrounded by strong 
works which must be carried to make this fort of the least value 
to the United States Government. 

" We have not oil enough to keep a light in the lantern for 
one night. The boats will have to, therefore, rely at night entirely 
upon other marks. I ought to have been informed that this expe- 
dition was to come. Colonel Lamon's remark convinced me that 
the idea, merely hinted at to me by Captain Fox, would not be car- 
ried out.* 

* The Count of Paris libels the memory of Major Anderson, and perverts the 
truth of history in this, as he has done in other particulars, by saying, with refer- 
ence to the visit of Captain Fox to the fort, that, " having visited Anderson at Fort 


" We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my 
heart is not in this war, which I see is to be thus commenced. 
That God will still avert it, and cause us to resort to pacific means 
to maintain our rights, is my ardent prayer ! 
" I am, Colonel, very respectfully, 

" Your obedient servant, 

"Robert Anderson, 
" Major 1st Artillery, commanding." 

This frank and manly letter, although written with the re- 
serve necessarily belonging to a communication from an officer 
to his military superiors, expressing dissatisfaction with orders, 
fully vindicates Major Anderson from all suspicion of com- 
plicity or sympathy with the bad faith of the Government 
which he was serving. It accords entirely with the sentiments 
expressed in his private letter to me, already mentioned as lost 
or stolen, and exhibits him in the attitude of faithful perform- 
ance of a duty inconsistent with his domestic ties and repugnant 
to his patriotism. 

The "relief squadron," as with unconscious irony it was 
termed, was already under way for Charleston, consisting, 
according to their own statement, of eight vessels, carrying 
twenty-six guns and about fourteen hundred men, including 
the troops sent for reenf or cement of the garrison. 

These facts became known to the Confederate Government, 
and it was obvious that no time was to be lost in preparing for, 
and if possible anticipating the impending assault. The charac- 
ter of the instructions given General Beauregard in this emer- 
gency may be inferred from the ensuing correspondence, which 
is here reproduced from contemporary publications : 

" Charleston, April 8th. 
" L. P. Walker, Secretary of War. 

"An authorized messenger from President Lincoln just in- 

Sumter, a plan had been agreed upon between them for revictualing the garrison." — 
(" Civil War in America," authorized translation, vol. i, chap, iv, p. 137.) Fox him- 
self says, in his published letter, " I made no arrangements with Major Anderson 
for supplying the fort, nor did I inform him of my plan " ; and Major Anderson, in 
the letter above, says the idea had been " merely hinted at " by Captain Fox, and 
that Colonel Lamon had led him to believe that it had been abandoned. 


formed Governor Pickens and myself that provisions will be sent 
to Fort Sumter peaceably, or otherwise by force. 

"G. T. Beauregard." 

" Montgomery, 10th. 
" General G. T. Beauregard, Charleston. 

"If you have no doubt of the authorized character of the 
agent who communicated to you the intention of the Washington 
Government to supply Fort Sumter by force, you will at once de- 
mand its evacuation, and, if this is refused, proceed, in such a man- 
ner as you may determine, to reduce it. Answer. 

" L. P. Walker, Secretary of War." 

" Charleston, April 10th. 
" L. P. Walker, Secretary of War. 

" The demand will be made to-morrow at twelve o'clock. 

" G. T. Beauregard." 

" Montgomery, April 10th. 
" General Beauregard, Charleston. 

"Unless there are especial reasons connected with your own 

condition, it is considered proper that you should make the demand 

at an early hour. 

"L. P. Walker, Secretary of War." 

" Charleston, April 10th. 
"L. P. Walker, Secretary of War, Monty ornery. 
" The reasons are special for twelve o'clock. 

" G. T. Beauregard." 

" Headquarters Provisional Army, C. S. A., 
" Charleston, S. C, April 11, 1861, 2 p. m. 

" Sir : The Government of the Confederate States has hitherto 
forborne from any hostile demonstration against Fort Sumter, in 
the hope that the Government of the United States, with a view 
to the amicable adjustment of all questions between the two Gov- 
ernments, and to avert the calamities of war, would voluntarily 
evacuate it. There was reason at one time to believe that such 
would be the course pursued by the Government of the United 
States ; and, under that impression, my Government has refrained 
from making any demand for the surrender of the fort. 


"But the Confederate States can no longer delay assuming 
actual possession of a fortification commanding the entrance 
of one of their harbors, and necessary to its defense and se- 

" I am ordered by the Government of the Confederate States 
to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter. My aides, Colonel 
Chesnut and Captain Lee, are authorized to make such demand of 
you. All proper facilities will be afforded for the removal of 
yourself and command, together with company arms and property, 
and all private property, to any post in the United States which 
you may elect. The flag which you have upheld so long and with 
so much fortitude, under the most trying circumstances, may be 
saluted by you on taking it down. 

" Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee will, for a reasonable time, 
await your answer. 

" I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"G. T. Beauregard, 

" Brigadier- General commanding. 
"Major Robert Anderson, 

" Commanding at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor , S. C." 

" Headquarters Fort Sumter, S. C, April 11, 1861. 
" General : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of 
your communication demanding the evacuation of this fort ; and 
to say in reply thereto that it is a demand with which I regret 
that my sense of honor and of my obligations to my Government 
prevents my compliance. 

" Thanking you for the fair, manly, and courteous terms pro- 
posed, and for the high compliment paid me, 

" I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"Robert Anderson, 
"Major TT. S. Army, commanding. 
" To Brigadier-General G. T. Beauregard, 

" Commanding Provisional Army, C. 8. A. n 

" Montgomery, April llih. 
" General Beauregard, Charleston. 

"We do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter, if 
Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, 
he will evacuate, and agree that, in the mean time, he will not use 
his guns against us, unless ours should be employed against Fort 


Sumter. You are thus to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or 
its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgment decides 
to be most practicable. 

" L. P. Walker, Secretary of War." 


" Headquarters Provisional Army, C. S. A., 
" Charleston, April 11, 1861, 11 p. m. 

" Major : In consequence of the verbal observations made by 
you to my aides, Messrs. Chesnut and Lee, in relation to the con- 
dition of your supplies, and that you would in a few days be 
starved out if our guns did not batter you to pieces — or words to 
that effect — and desiring no useless effusion of blood, I communi- 
cated both the verbal observation and your written answer to my 

" If you will state the time at which you will evacuate Fort 
Sumter, and agree that in the mean time you will not use your 
guns against us, unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sum- 
ter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you. Colonel Ches- 
nut and Captain Lee are authorized by me to enter into such an 
agreement with you. You are therefore requested to communi- 
cate to them an open answer. 

" I remain, Major, very respectfully, 

" Your obedient servant, 

"G. T. Beauregard, 

" Brigadier- General commanding, 
" Major Robert Anderson, 

u Commanding at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, 8. C." 

" Headquarters Fort Sumter, S. C, 2.30 a. m., April 12, 1861. 
" General : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of 
your second communication of the 11th instant, by Colonel Ches- 
nut, and to state, in reply, that, cordially uniting with you in the 
desire to avoid the useless effusion of blood, I will, if provided 
with the proper and necessary means of transportation, evacuate 
Fort Sumter by noon on the 15th instant, should I not receive, 
prior to that time, controlling instructions from my Government, 
or additional supplies ; and that I will not, in the mean time, open 
my fire upon your forces unless compelled to do so by some hostile 
act against this fort, or the flag of my Government, by the forces 
under your command, or by some portion of them, or by the per- 


petration of some act showing a hostile intention on your part 
against this fort or the flag it bears. 

" I have the honor to be, General, 

"Your obedient servant, 

"Robert Anderson, 
"Major IT. S. Army, commanding. 
" To Brigadier-General G. T. Beauregard, 

" Commanding Provisional Army, C. S. A." 

" Fort Sumter, S. C, April 12, 1861, 3.20 a. m. 
" Sir : By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, com- 
manding the provisional forces of the Confederate States, we have 
the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries 
on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time. 

" We have the honor to be, very respectfully, 

" Your obedient servants, 

"James Chesnut, Jr., 

" Aide-de-camp. 
"Stephen D. Lee, 
" Captain 8. C. Army, and Aide-de-camp. 
" Major Robert Anderson, 

" United States Army, commanding Fort Sumter." 

It is essential to a right understanding of the last two letters 
to give more than a superficial attention to that of Major Ander- 
son, bearing in mind certain important facts not referred to in 
the correspondence. Major Anderson had been requested to 
state the time at which he would evacuate the fort, if unmo- 
lested, agreeing in the mean time not to use his guns against 
the city and the troops defending it unless Fort Sumter should 
be first attacked by them. On these conditions General Beau- 
regard offered to refrain from opening fire upon him. In his 
reply Major Anderson promises to evacuate the fort on the 15th 
of April, provided he should not, before that time, receive 
"controlling instructions" or "additional supplies" from his 
Government. He furthermore offers to pledge himself not to 
open fire upon the Confederates, unless in the mean time com- 
pelled to do so by some hostile act against the fort or the flag 
of his Government. 

Inasmuch as it was known to the Confederate commander 

7 3,B J-3 


that the " controlling instructions " were already issued, and 
that the " additional supplies " were momentarily expected ; in- 
asmuch, also, as any attempt to introduce the supplies would 
compel the opening of fire upon the vessels bearing them under 
the flag of the United States — thereby releasing Major Ander- 
son from his pledge — it is evident that his conditions could not 
be accepted. It would have been merely, after the avowal of a 
hostile determination by the Government of the United States, 
to await an inevitable conflict with the guns of Fort Sumter 
and the naval forces of the United States in combination ; with 
no possible hope of averting it, unless in the improbable event 
of a delay of the expected fleet for nearly four days longer. 
(In point of fact, it arrived off the harbor on the same day, but 
was hindered by a gale of wind from entering it.) There was 
obviously no other course to be pursued than that announced 
in the answer given by General Beauregard. 

It should not be forgotten that, during the early occupation 
of Fort Sumter by a garrison the attitude of which was at least 
offensive, no restriction had been put upon their privilege of 
purchasing in Charleston fresh provisions, or any delicacies or 
comforts not directly tending to the supply of the means need- 
ful to hold the fort for an indefinite time. 


A Pause and a Review. — Attitude of the Two Parties. — Sophistry exposed and Shams 
torn away. — Forbearance of the Confederate Government. — Who was the Ag- 
gressor? — Major Anderson's View, and that of a Naval Officer. — Mr. Horace 
Greeley on the Fort Sumter Case. — The Bombardment and Surrender. — Gallant 
Action of ex-Senator Wigfall. — Mr. Lincoln's Statement of the Case. 

Here, in the brief hour immediately before the outburst of 
the long-gathering storm, although it can hardly be necessary 
for the reader who has carefully considered what has already 
been written, we may pause for a moment to contemplate the 
attitude of the parties to the contest and the grounds on which 
they respectively stand. I do not now refer to the original 


causes of controversy — to the comparative claims of Statehood 
and Union, or to the question of the right or the wrong of seces- 
sion — but to the proximate and immediate causes of conflict. 

The fact that South Carolina was a State — whatever her 
relations may have been to the other States — is not and can not 
be denied. It is equally undeniable that the ground on which 
Fort Sumter was built was ceded by South Carolina to the 
United States in trust for the defense of her own soil and her 
own chief harbor. This has been shown, by ample evidence, 
to have been the principle governing all cessions by the States 
of sites for military purposes, but it applies with special force 
to the case of Charleston. The streams flowing into that har- 
bor, from source to mouth, lie entirely within the limits of the 
State of South Carolina. No other State or combination of 
States could have any distinct interest or concern in the mainte- 
nance of a fortress at that point, unless as a means of aggression 
against South Carolina herself. The practical view of the case 
was correctly stated by Mr. Douglas, when he said : "I take it 
for granted that whoever permanently holds Charleston and 
South Carolina is entitled to the possession of Fort Sumter. 
Whoever permanently holds Pensacola and Florida is entitled 
to the possession of Fort Pickens. Whoever holds the States 
in whose limits those forts are placed is entitled to the forts 
themselves, unless there is something peculiar in the location of 
some particular fort that makes it important for us to hold it 
for the general defense of the whole country, its commerce and 
interests, instead of being useful only for the defense of a par- 
ticular city or locality." 

No such necessity could be alleged with regard to Fort Sum- 
ter. The claim to hold it as " public property " of the United 
States was utterly untenable and unmeaning, apart from a claim 
of coercive control over the State. If South Carolina was a 
mere province, in a state of open rebellion, the Government of 
the United States had a right to retain its hold of any fortified 
place within her limits which happened to be in its possession, 
and it would have had an equal right to acquire possession of 
any other. It would have had the same right to send an army 
to Columbia to batter down the walls of the State Capitol. The 


subject may at once be stripped of the sophistry which would 
make a distinction between the two cases. The one was as 
really an act of war as the other would have been. The right 
or the wrong of either depended entirely upon the question of 
the rightful power of the Federal Government to coerce a State 
into submission — a power which, as we have seen, was unani- 
mously rejected in the formation of the Federal Constitution, 
and which was still unrecognized by many, perhaps by a major- 
ity, even of those who denied the right of a State to secede. 

If there existed any hope or desire for a peaceful settlement 
of the questions at issue between the States, either party had a 
right to demand that, pending such settlement, there should be 
no hostile grasp upon its throat. This grip had been held on 
the throat of South Carolina for almost four months from the 
period of her secession, and no forcible resistance to it had yet 
been made. Remonstrances and patient, persistent, and reiter- 
ated attempts at negotiation for its removal had been made 
with two successive Administrations of the Government of the 
United States — at first by the State of South Carolina, and by 
the Government of the Confederate States after its formation. 
These efforts had been met, not by an open avowal of- coer- 
cive purposes, but by evasion, prevarication, and perfidy. The 
agreement of one Administration to maintain the status quo 
at the time when the question arose, was violated in December 
by the removal of the garrison from its original position to thev 
occupancy of a stronger. Another attempt was made to vio-: 
late it, in January, by the introduction of troops concealed 
below the deck of the steamer Star of the West,* but this was 
thwarted by the vigilance of the State service. The protracted 
course of fraud and prevarication practiced by Mr. Lincoln's Ad- 
ministration in the months of March and April has been fully 
exhibited. It was evident that no confidence whatever could 
be reposed in any pledge or promise of the Federal Govern- 
ment as then administered. Yet, notwithstanding all this, no 

* See the report of her commander, Captain McGowan, who says he took on 
board, in the harbor of New York, four officers and two hundred soldiers. Arriving 
off Charleston, he says, u Tlic soldiers were now all put below, and no one allowed on 
deck except our own crew." 


resistance, other than that of pacific protest and appeals for an 
equitable settlement, was made, until after the avowal of a pur- 
pose of coercion, and when it was known that a hostile fleet was 
on the way to support and enforce it. At the very moment 
when the Confederate commander gave the final notice to Major 
Anderson of his purpose to open fire upon the fort, that fleet 
was lying off the mouth of the harbor, and hindered from en- 
tering only by a gale of wind. 

The forbearance of the Confederate Government, under the 
circumstances, is perhaps unexampled in history. It was carried 
to the extreme verge, short of a disregard of the safety of the 
people who had intrusted to that government the duty of their 
defense against their enemies. The attempt to represent us as 
the aggressors in the conflict which ensued is as unfounded as 
the complaint made by the wolf against the lamb in the famil- 
iar fable. He who makes the assault is not necessarily he that 
strikes the first blow or fires the first gun. To have awaited 
further strengthening of their position by land and naval forces, 
with hostile purpose now declared, for the sake of having them 
" fire the first gun," would have been as unwise as it would be 
to hesitate to strike down the arm of the assailant, who levels a 
deadly weapon at one's breast, 'Until he has actually fired. The 
disingenuous rant of demagogues about "firing on the flag" 
might serve to rouse the passions of insensate mobs in times of 
general excitement, but will be impotent in impartial history to 
relieve the Federal Government from the responsibility of the 
assault made by sending a hostile fleet against the harbor of 
Charleston, to cooperate with the menacing garrison of Fort 
Sumter. After the assault was made by the hostile descent of 
the fleet, the reduction of Fort Sumter was a measure of de- 
fense rendered absolutely and immediately necessary. 

Such clearly was the idea of the commander of the Pawnee, 
when he declined, as Captain Fox informs us, without orders 
from a superior, to make any effort to enter the harbor, " there 
to inaugurate civil war." The straightforward simplicity of the 
sailor had not been perverted by the shams of political soph- 
istry. Even Mr. Horace Greeley, with all his extreme partisan 
feeling, is obliged to admit that, " whether the bombardment 


and reduction of Fort Sumter shall or shall not be justified by 
posterity, it is clear that the Confederacy had no alternative but 
its owri dissolution." * 

According to the notice given by General Beauregard, fire 
was opened upon Fort Sumter, from the various batteries which 
had been erected around the harbor, at half-past four o'clock 
on the morning of Friday, the 12th of April, 1861. The fort 
soon responded. It is not the purpose of this work to give 
minute details of the military operation, as the events of the 
bombardment have been often related, and are generally well 
known, with no material discrepancy in matters of fact among 
the statements of the various participants. It is enough, there- 
fore, to add that the bombardment continued for about thirty- 
three or thirty-four hours. The fort was eventually set on fire 
by shells, after having been partly destroyed by shot, and Major 
Anderson, after a resolute defense, finally surrendered on the 
13th — the same terms being accorded to him which had been of- 
fered two days before. It is a remarkable fact — probably with- 
out precedent in the annals of war — that, notwithstanding the 
extent and magnitude of the engagement, the number and cali- 
ber of the guns, and the amount of damage done to inanimate 
material on both sides, especially to Fort Sumter, nobody was 
injured on either side by the bombardment. The only casu- 
alty attendant upon the affair was the death of one man and the 
wounding of several others by the explosion of a gun in the 
firing of a salute to their flag by the garrison on evacuating the 
fort the day after the surrender. 

A striking incident marked the close of the bombardment. 
Ex-Senator Louis T. "Wigfall, of Texas— a man as generous as 
he was recklessly brave — when he saw the fort on fire, supposing 
the garrison to be hopelessly struggling for the honor of its flag, 
voluntarily and without authority, went under fire in an open 
boat to the fort, and climbing through one of its embrasures 
asked for Major Anderson, and insisted that he should surren- 
der a fort which it was palpably impossible that he could hold. 
Major Anderson agreed to surrender on the same terms and 
conditions that had been offered him before his works were bat- 

* " American Conflict," vol. i, chap, xxix, p. 449. 


tered in breach, and the agreement between them to that effect 
was promptly ratified by the Confederate commander. Thus 
unofficially was inaugurated the surrender and evacuation of 
the fort. 

The President of the United States, in his message of July 
4, 1861, to the Federal Congress convened in extra session, said : 

" It is thus seen that the assault upon and reduction of Fort 
Sumter was in no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of 
the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could 
by no possibility commit aggression upon them. They knew — 
they were expressly notified — that the giving of bread to the few 
brave and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on 
that occasion be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so 
much, should provoke more." 

Mr. Lincoln well knew that, if the brave men of the garrison 
were hungry, they had only him and his trusted advisers to thank 
for it. They had been kept for months in a place where they 
ought not to have been, contrary to the judgment of the Gen- 
eral-in-Chief of his army, contrary to the counsels of the wisest 
statesmen in his confidence, and the protests of the commander 
of the garrison. A word from him would have relieved them 
at any moment in the manner most acceptable to them and most 
promotive of peaceful results. 

But, suppose the Confederate authorities had been disposed 
to yield, and to consent to the introduction of supplies for the 
maintenance of the garrison, what assurance would they have 
had that nothing further would be attempted ? What reliance 
could be placed in any assurances of the Government of the 
United States after the experience of the attempted ruse of the 
Star of the "West and the deceptions practiced upon the Con- 
federate Commissioners in Washington % He says we were " ex- 
pressly notified " that nothing more " would on that occasion be 
attempted "—the words in italics themselves constituting a very 
significant though unobtrusive and innocent-looking limitation. 
But we had been just as expressly notified, long before, that the 
garrison would be withdrawn. It would be as easy to violate 
the one pledge as it had been to break the other. 


Moreover, the so-called notification was a mere memorandum, 
without date, signature, or authentication of any kind, sent to 
Governor Pickens, not by an accredited agent, but by a sub- 
ordinate employee of the State Department. Like the oral and 
written pledges of Mr. Seward, given through Judge Campbell, 
it seemed to be carefully and purposely divested of every attri- 
bute that could make it binding and valid, in case its authors 
should see fit to repudiate it. It was as empty and worthless as 
the complaint against the Confederate Government based upon 
it, is disingenuous. 




Failure of the Peace Congress. — Treatment of the Commissioners. — Their With- 
drawal. — Notice of an Armed Expedition. — Action of the Confederate Govern- 
ment. — Bombardment and Surrender of Fort Sumter. — Its Reduction required 
by the Exigency of the Case. — Disguise thrown off. — President Lincoln's Call 
for Seventy-five Thousand Men. — His Fiction of "Combinations." — Palpable 
Violation of the Constitution. — Action of Virginia. — Of Citizens of Baltimore. — 
The Charge of Precipitation against South Carolina. — Action of the Confederate 
Government. — The Universal Feeling. 

The Congress, initiated by Virginia for the laudable pur- 
pose of endeavoring, by constitutional means, to adjust all the 
issues which threatened the peace of the country, failed to 
achieve anything that would cause or justify a reconsideration 
by the seceded States of their action to reclaim the grants they 
had made to the General Government, and to maintain for them- 
selves a separate and independent existence. 

The Commissioners sent by the Confederate Government, 
after having been shamefully deceived, as has been heretofore 
fully set forth, left the United States capital to report the 
result of their mission to the Confederate Government. 

The notice received, that an armed expedition had sailed for 
operations against the State of South Carolina in the harbor of 
Charleston, induced the Confederate Government to meet, as 
best it might, this assault, in the discharge of its obligation to 
defend each State of the Confederacy. To this end the bom- 
bardment of the formidable work, Fort Sumter, was com- 
menced, in anticipation of the reenforcement which was then 


moving to unite with its garrison for hostilities against South 

The bloodless bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter 
occurred on April 13, 1861. The garrison was generously per- 
mitted to retire with the honors of war. The evacuation of 
that fort, commanding the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, 
which, if in hostile hands, was destructive of its commerce, had 
been claimed as the right of South Carolina. The voluntary 
withdrawal of the garrison by the United States Government 
had been considered, and those best qualified to judge believed 
it had been promised. Yet, when instead of the fulfillment of 
just expectations, instead of the withdrawal of the garrison, a 
hostile expedition was organized and sent forward, the urgency 
of the case required its reduction before it should be reenf orced. 
Had there been delay, the more serious conflict between larger 
forces, land and naval, would scarcely have been bloodless, as 
the bombardment fortunately was. The event, however, was 
seized upon to inflame the mind of the Northern people, and 
the disguise which had been worn in the communications with 
the Confederate Commissioners was now thrown off, and it was 
cunningly attempted to show that the South, which had been 
pleading for peace and still stood on the defensive, had by this 
bombardment inaugurated a war against the United States. 
But it should be stated that the threats implied in the declara- 
tions that the Union could not exist part slave and part free, 
and that the Union should be preserved, and the denial of the 
right of a State peaceably to withdraw, were virtually a decla- 
ration of war, and the sending of an army and navy to attack 
was the result to have been anticipated as the consequence of 
such declaration of war. 

On the 15th day of the same month, President Lincoln, 
introducing his farce " of combinations too powerful to be 
suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings," 
called forth the military of the several States to the number 
of seventy-five thousand, and commanded "the persons compos- 
ing the combinations " to disperse, etc. It can but surprise any 
one in the least degree conversant with the history of the 
Union, to find States referred to as " persons composing com- 


binations," and that the sovereign creators of the Federal Gov- 
ernment, the States of the Union, should be commanded by 
their agent to disperse. The levy of so large an army could 
only mean war ; but the power to declare war did not reside in 
the President — it was delegated to the Congress only. If, how- 
ever, it had been a riotous combination or an insurrection, it 
must have been, according to the Constitution, against the State ; 
and the power of the President to call forth the militia to sup- 
press it, was dependent upon an application from the State for 
that purpose ; it could not precede such application, and still 
less could it be rightfully exercised against the will of a State. 
The authorities on this subject have been heretofore cited, and 
need not be referred to again. 

Suffice it to say that, by section 4, Article IY, of the Consti- 
tution, the United States are bound to protect each State against 
invasion and against domestic violence, whenever application 
shall have been made by the Legislature, or by the Executive 
when the Legislature can not be convened ; and that to fail to 
give protection against any invasion whatsoever would be a 
dereliction of duty. To add that there could be no justification 
for the invasion of a State by an army of the United States, is 
but to repeat what has been said, on the absence of any author- 
ity in the General Government to coerce a State. In any pos- 
sible view of the case, therefore, the conclusion must be, that 
the calling on some of the States for seventy-five thousand mi- 
Jitia to invade other States which were asserted to be still in the 
Union, was a palpable violation of the Constitution, and the 
usurpation of undelegated power, or, in other words, of power 
reserved to the States or to the people. 

It might, therefore, have been anticipated that Virginia — 
one of whose sons wrote the Declaration of Independence, an- 
other of whose sons led the armies of the United States in the 
Re volution which achieved their independence, and another of 
whose sons mainly contributed to the adoption of the Constitu- 
tion of the Union — would not have been slow, in the face of 
such events, to reclaim the grants she had made to the General 
Government, and to withdraw from the Union, to the establish- 
ment of which she had so largely contributed. 


Two days had elapsed between the surrender of Fort Sum- 
ter and the proclamation of President Lincoln calling for seven- 
ty-five thousand militia as before stated. Two other days elapsed, 
and Yirginia passed her ordinance of secession, and two days 
thereafter the citizens of Baltimore resisted the passage of troops 
through that city on their way to make war upon the Southern 
States. Thus rapidly did the current of events bear us onward 
from peace to the desolating war which was soon to ensue. 

The manly effort of the unorganized, unarmed citizens of 
Baltimore to resist the progress of armies for the invasion of 
her Southern sisters, was worthy of the fair fame of Maryland ; 
becoming the descendants of the men who so gallantly fought 
for the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of the States. 

The bold stand, then and thereafter taken, extorted a prom- 
ise from the Executive authorities that no more troops should 
be sent through the city of Baltimore, which promise, however, 
was only observed until, by artifice, power had been gained to 
disregard it. 

Yirginia, as has been heretofore stated, passed her ordinance 
of secession on the 17th of April. It was, however, subject to 
ratification by the people at an election to be held on the fourth 
Thursday of May. She was in the mean time, like her South- 
ern sisters, the object of Northern hostilities, and, having a com- 
mon cause with them, properly anticipated the election of May 
by forming an alliance with the Confederate States, which was 
ratified by the Convention on the 25th of April. 

The Convention for that alliance set forth that Yirginia, 
looking to a speedy union with the Confederate States, and for 
the purpose of meeting pressing exigencies, agreed that " the 
whole military force and military operations, offensive and de- 
fensive, of said Commonwealth, in the impending conflict with 
the United States, shall be under the chief control and direction 
of the President of the said Confederate States." The whole 
was made subject to the approval and ratification of the proper 
authorities of both governments respectively. 

To those who criticise South Carolina as having acted pre- 
cipitately in withdrawing from the Union, it may be answered 
that intervening occurrences show that her delay could not 


have changed the result ; and, further, that her prompt action 
had enabled her better to prepare for the contingency which it 
was found impossible to avert. Thus she was prepared in the 
first necessities of Virginia to send to her troops organized and 

Before the convention for cooperation with the Confederate 
States had been adopted by Virginia, that knightly soldier, Gen- 
eral Bonham, of South Carolina, went with his brigade to Rich- 
mond ; and, throughout the Southern States, there was a pre- 
vailing desire to rush to Virginia, where it was foreseen that the 
first great battles of the war were to be fought ; so that, as early 
as the 22d of April, I telegraphed to Governor Letcher that, in 
addition to the forces heretofore ordered, requisitions had been 
made for thirteen regiments, eight to rendezvous at Lynchburg, 
four at Richmond, and one at Harper's Ferry. Referring to an 
application that had been made to him from Baltimore, I wrote : 
" Sustain Baltimore if practicable. We will reenforce you." 
The universal feeling was that of a common cause and common 
destiny. There was no selfish desire to linger around home, no 
narrow purpose to separate local interests from the common 
welfare. The object was to sustain a principle — the broad prin- 
ciple of constitutional liberty, the right of self-government. 

The early demonstrations of the enemy showed that Vir- 
ginia was liable to invasion from the north, from the east, and 
from the west. Though the larger preparation indicated that 
the most serious danger to be apprehended was from the line of 
the Potomac, the first conflicts occurred in the east. 

The narrow peninsula between the James and York Rivers 
had topographical features well adapted to defense. It. was held 
by General John B. Magruder, who skillfully improved its nat- 
ural strength by artificial means, and there, on the ground mem- 
orable as the field of the last battle of the Revolution, in which 
General "Washington compelled Lord Cornwallis to surrender, 
Magruder, with a small force, held for a long time the superior 
forces of the enemy in check. 



The Supply of Arms ; of Men. — Love of the Union. — Secessionists few. — Efforts to 
prevent the Final Step. — Views of the People. — Effect on their Agriculture. — 
Aid from African Servitude. — Answer to the Clamors on the Horrors of Slavery. 
— Appointment of a Commissary-General. — His Character and Capacity. — Or- 
ganization, Instruction, and Equipment of the Army. — Action of Congress. — 
The Law. — Its Signification. — The Hope of a Peaceful Solution early enter- 
tained ; rapidly diminished. — Further Action of Congress. — Policy of the Gov- 
ernment for Peace. — Position of Officers of United States Army. — The Army 
of the States, not of the Government. — The Confederate Law observed by the 
Government. — Officers retiring from United States Army. — Organization of 

The question of supplying arms and munitions of war was 
the first considered, because it was the want for which it was 
the most difficult to provide. Of men willing to engage in the 
defense of their country, there were many more than we could 

Though the prevailing sentiment of the Southern people 
was a cordial attachment to the Union as it was formed by their 
fathers, their love was for the spirit of the compact, for the lib- 
erties it was designed to secure, for the self-government and 
State sovereignty which had been won by separation from the 
mother-country, and transmitted to them by their Revolutionary 
sires as a legacy for their posterity for ever. The number of 
those who desired to dissolve the Union, even though the Con- 
stitution should be faithfully observed — those who, in the lan- 
guage of the day, were called " secessionists^?^ se " — was so small 
as not to be felt in any popular decision ; but the number of 
those who held that the States had surrendered their sovereign- 
ty, and had no right to secede from the Union, was so inap- 
preciably small, if indeed any such existed, that I can not recall 
the fact of a single Southern advocate of that opinion. The 
assertion of the right is not to be confounded with a readiness 
to exercise it. Many who had no doubt as to the right, looked 
upon its exercise with reluctance amounting to sorrow, and 
claimed that it should be the last resort, only to be adopted as 


the alternative to a surrender of the equality in the Union of 
States, free, sovereign, and independent. Of that class, forming 
a large majority of the people of Mississippi, I may speak with 
the confidence of one who belonged to it. Thus, after the 
Legislature of Mississippi had enacted a law for a convention 
which, representing the sovereignty of the State, should con- 
sider the propriety of passing an ordinance to reassume the 
grants made to the General Government, and withdraw from 
the Union, I, as a United States Senator of Mississippi, retained 
my position in the Senate, and sought "by every practicable 
mode to obtain such measures as would allay the excitement 
and afford to the South such security as would prevent the final 
step, the ordinance of secession from the Union. 

When the last hope of preserving the Union of the Consti- 
tution was extinguished, and the ordinance of secession was en- 
acted by the Convention of Mississippi, which was the highest 
authority known under our form of government, the question 
of the expediency of adopting that remedy was no longer open 
to inquiry by one who acknowledged his allegiance as due to 
the State of which he was a citizen. To evade the responsibili- 
ties resulting from the decree of his sovereign, the people, would 
be craven; to resist it would be treason. The instincts and 
affections of the citizens of Mississippi led them with great 
unanimity to the duty of maintaining and defending their State, 
without pausing to ask what would be the consequences of re- 
fusing obedience to its mandate. A like feeling pervaded all of 
the seceding States, and it was not only for the military service, 
but for every service which would strengthen and sustain the 
Confederacy, that an enthusiasm pervading all classes, sexes, and 
ages was manifested. 

Though our agricultural products had been mainly for ex- 
port, insomuch that in the planting States the necessary food- 
supplies were to a considerable extent imported from the West, 
and it would require that the habits of the planters should be 
changed from the cultivation of staples for export to the pro- 
duction of supplies adequate for home consumption and the 
support of armies in the field, yet, even under the embarrass- 
ments of war, this was expected, and for a long time the result 


justified the expectation, extraordinary as it must appear when 
viewed by comparison with other people who have been sub- 
jected to a like ordeal. Much of our success was due to the 
much-abused institution of African servitude, for it enabled 
the white men to go into the army, and leave the cultivation 
of their fields and the care of their flocks, as well as of their 
wives and children, to those who, in the language of the Con- 
stitution, were " held to service or labor." A passing remark 
may here be appropriate as to the answer thus afforded to the 
clamor about the " horrors of slavery." 

Had these Africans been a cruelly oppressed people, restless- 
ly struggling to be freed from their bonds, would their masters 
have dared to leave them, as was done, and would they have re- 
mained as they did, continuing their usual duties, or could the 
proclamation of emancipation have been put on the plea of a 
military necessity, if the fact had been that the negroes were 
forced to serve, and desired only an opportunity to rise against 
their masters? It will be remembered that, when the proc- 
lamation was issued, it was confessed by President Lincoln to 
be a nullity beyond the limit within which it could be enforced 
by the Federal troops. 

To direct the production, preservation, collection, and distri- 
bution of food for the army required a man of rare capacity and 
character at the head of the subsistence department. It was our 
good fortune to have such an one in Colonel L. B. Northrop, who 
was appointed commissary-general at the organization of the 
bureaus of the executive department of the Confederate Govern- 
ment. He had been an officer of the United States Army, had 
served in various parts of the South, had been for some time on 
duty in the commissariat, and, to the special and general knowl- 
edge thus acquired, added strong practical sense and incor- 
ruptible integrity. Of him and the operations of the subsistence 
department I shall have more to say hereafter, when treating 
of the bureaus of the Confederacy. 

Assured of an army as large as the population of the Con- 
federate States could furnish, and a sufficient supply of subsist- 
ence for such an army, at least until the chances of war should 
interfere with production and transportation, the immediate 


object of attention was the organization, instruction, and equip- 
ment of the army. 

As heretofore stated, there was a prevailing belief that there 
would be no war, or, if any, that it would be of very short du- 
ration. Therefore the first bill which passed the provisional 
Congress provided for receiving troops for short periods — as my 
memory serves, for sixty days. The chairman of the Commit- 
tee on Military Affairs, the heroic Colonel Bartow, who sealed 
his devotion to the cause with his life's blood on the field of 
Manassas, in deference to my earnest remonstrance against such 
a policy, returned with the bill to the House (the Congress 
then consisted of but one House), and procured a modification 
by which the term of service was extended to twelve months 
unless sooner discharged. 

I had urged upon him, in our conference, the adoption of 
a much longer period, but he assured me that one year was as 
much as the Congress would agree to. On this, as on other oc- 
casions, that Congress showed a generous desire to yield their 
preconceived opinions to my objections as far as they consist- 
ently could, and, there being but one House, it was easier to 
change the terms of a bill after conference with the Executive 
than when, under the permanent organization, objections had to 
be formally communicated in a message to that branch of Con- 
gress in which the bill originated, and when the whole proceed- 
ing was of record. 

This first act to provide for the public defense became a law 
on the 28th of February, 1861, and its fifth section so clearly 
indicates the opinions and expectations prevailing when the 
Confederation was formed, that it is inserted here : 

" That the President be further authorized to receive into the 
service of this Government such forces now in the service of said 
States (Confederate States) as may be tendered, or who may volun- 
teer by consent of their State, in such numbers as he may require 
for any time not less than twelve months unless sooner discharged." 

The supremacy of the States is the controlling idea. The 
President was authorized to receive from the several States the 
arms and munitions which they might desire to transfer to the 


Government of the Confederate States, and he was also author- 
ized to receive the forces which the States might tender, or any 
which should volunteer by the consent of their State, for any 
time not less than twelve months unless sooner discharged ; and 
such forces were to be received with their officers by companies, 
battalions, or regiments, and the President, by and with the ad- 
vice and consent of Congress, was to appoint sucli general officer 
or officers for said forces as might be necessary for the service. 

It will be seen that the arms and munitions within the limits 
of the several States were regarded as entirely belonging to them ; 
that the forces which were to constitute the provisional army 
could only be drawn from the several States by their consent, and 
that these were to be organized under State authority and to be 
received with their officers so appointed ; that the lowest or- 
ganization was to be that of a company and the highest that of 
a regiment, and that the appointment of general officers to com- 
mand these forces was confided to the Government of the Con- 
federate States, should the assembling of large bodies of troops 
require organization above that of a regiment ; and it will also 
be observed that provision was made for the discharge of the 
forces so provided for, before the term of service fixed by the 
law. No one will fail to perceive how little was anticipated a 
war of the vast proportions and great duration which ensued, 
and how tenaciously the sovereignty and self-government of the 
States were adhered to. At a later period (March 16, 1861) the 
Congress adopted resolutions recommending to the respective 
States to " cede the forts, arsenals, navy-yards, dock-yards, and 
other public establishments within their respective limits to the 
Confederate States," etc. 

The hope which was early entertained of a peaceful solution 
of the issues pending between the Confederate States and the 
United States rapidly diminished, so that we find on the 6th of 
March that the Congress, in its preamble to an act to provide 
for the public defense, begins with the declaration that, " in or- 
der to provide speedily forces to repel invasion," etc., author- 
ized the President to employ the militia, and to ask for and 
accept the services of any number of volunteers, not exceeding 
one hundred thousand, and to organize companies into battal- 


ions, battalions into regiments, and regiments into brigades and 
divisions. As in the first law, the President was authorized 
to appoint the commanding officer of such brigades and divis- 
ions, the commissions only to endure while the brigades were 
in service. 

On the same day (March 6, 1861) was enacted the law for 
the establishment and organization of the Army of the Confed- 
erate States of America, this being in contradistinction to the 
provisional army, which was to be composed of troops tendered 
by the States, as in the first act, and volunteers received, as 
in the second act, to constitute a provisional army. That the 
wish and policy of the Government was peace is again mani- 
fested in this act, which, in providing for the military establish- 
ment of the Confederacy, fixed the number of enlisted men of 
all arms at nine thousand four hundred and twenty. Due care 
was taken to prevent the appointment of incompetent or un- 
worthy persons to be officers of the army, and the right to pro- 
motion up to and including the grade of colonel was carefully 
guarded, and beyond this the professional character of the army 
was recognized as follows : " Appointments to the rank of briga- 
dier-general, after the army is organized, shall be made by selec- 
tion from the army." There being no right of promotion above 
the grade of colonel in the Army of the United States, selection 
for appointment to the rank of general had no other restriction 
than the necessity for confirmation by the Senate. The provis- 
ion just quoted imposed the further restriction of requiring the 
person nominated by selection to have previously been an offi- 
cer of the Army of the Confederate States. 

Kegarding the Army of the United States as belonging nei- 
ther to a section of the Union nor to the General Government, 
but to the States conjointly while they remained united, it fol- 
lows as a corollary of the proposition that, when disintegration 
occurred, the undivided personnel composing the army would 
be left free to choose their future place of service. Therefore, 
provision was made for securing to officers, who should leave 
the Army of the United States and join that of the Confederate 
States, the same relative rank in the latter which they held in the 


" Be it further enacted that all officers who have resigned, or 
who may within six months tender their resignations, from the 
Army of the United States, and who have been or may be appoint- 
ed to original vacancies in the Army of the Confederate States, 
the commissions issued shall bear one and the same date, so that 
the relative rank of officers of each grade shall be determined by 
their former commissions in the United States Army, held ante- 
rior to the secession of these Confederate States from the United 

The provisions hereof are in the view entertained that the 
army was of the States, not of the Government, and was to se- 
cure to officers adhering to the Confederate States the same rel- 
ative rank which they had before those States had withdrawn 
from the Union. It was clearly the intent of the law to em- 
brace in this provision only those officers who had resigned or 
who should resign from the United States Army to enter the 
service of the Confederacy, or who, in other words, should thus 
be transferred from one service to the other. It is also to be 
noted that, in the eleventh section of the act to which this was 
amendatory, the right of promotion up to the grade of colo- 
nel, in established regiments and corps, was absolutely secured, 
but that appointments to the higher grade should be by selec- 
tion, at first without restriction, but after the army had been 
organized the selection was confined to the army, thus recogniz- 
ing the profession of arms, and relieving officers from the haz- 
ard, beyond the limit of their legal right to promotion, of be- 
ing superseded by civilians through favoritism or political in- 

How well the Government of the Confederacy observed both 
the letter and the spirit of the law will be seen by reference to 
its action in the matter of appointments. It is a noteworthy 
fact that the three highest officers in rank, and whose fame 
stands unchallenged either for efficiency or zeal, were all so 
indifferent to any question of personal interest, that they had 
received their appointment before they were aware it was to 
be conferred. Each brought from the Army of the United 
States an enviable reputation, such as would have secured to 
him, had he chosen to remain in it, after the war commenced, 


any position his ambition could have coveted. Therefore, against 
considerations of self-interest, and impelled by devotion to prin- 
ciple, they severed the ties, professional and personal, which had 
bound them from their youth up to the time when the Southern 
States, asserting the consecrated truth that all governments rest 
on the consent of the governed, decided to withdraw from the 
Union they had voluntarily entered, and the Northern States 
resolved to coerce them to remain in it against their will. These 
officers were — first, Samuel Cooper, a native of New York, a 
graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1815, and 
who served continuously in the army until March 7, 1861, with 
such distinction as secured to him the appointment of Adjutant- 
General of the United States Army. Second, Albert Sidney 
Johnston, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of the United States 
Military Academy in 1826, served conspicuously in the army 
until 1834, then served in the army of the Republic of Texas, 
and then in the United States Yolunteers in the war with Mex- 
ico. Subsequently he reentered the United States Army, and 
for meritorious conduct attained the rank of brevet brigadier- 
general. After the secession of Texas, his adopted State, he 
resigned his commission in the United States Army, May 3, 
1861, and traveled by land from California to Richmond to 
offer his services to the Confederacy. Third, Robert E. Lee, a 
native of Virginia, a graduate of the United States Military 
Academy in 1829, when he was appointed in the Engineer Corps 
of the United States Army, and served continuously and with 
such distinction as to secure for him in 1847 brevets of three 
grades above his corps commission. He resigned from the 
Army of the United States, April 25, 1861, upon the secession 
of Yirginia, in whose army he served until it was transferred 
to the Confederate States. 

Samuel Cooper was the first of these to offer his services to 
the Confederacy at Montgomery. Having known him most 
favorably and intimately as Adjutant-General of the United 
States Army when I was Secretary of War, the value of his ser- 
vices in the organization of a new army was considered so great 
that I invited him to take the position of Adjutant -General of 
the Confederate Army, which he accepted without a question 

1861] S. COOPER, A. S. JOHNSTON, R. E. LEE. 309 

either as to relative rank or anything else. The highest grade 
then authorized by law was that of brigadier-general, and that 
commission was bestowed upon him. 

When General Albert Sidney Johnston reached Richmond 
he called upon me, and for several days at various intervals we 
conversed with the freedom and confidence belonging to the 
close friendship which had existed between us for many years. 
Consequent upon a remark made by me, he asked to what duty 
I would assign him, and, when answered, to serve in the West, 
he expressed his pleasure at service in that section, but in- 
quired how he was to raise his command, and for the first time 
learned that he had been nominated and confirmed as a general 
in the Army of the Confederacy. 

The third, General Robert E. Lee, had been commissioned 
by the State of Yirginia as major-general and commander of 
her army. When that army was transferred, after the accession 
of Yirginia to the Confederate States, he was nominated to be 
brigadier-general in the Confederate Army, but was left for ob- 
vious reasons in command of the forces in Yirginia. After the 
seat of government was removed from Montgomery to Rich- 
mond, the course of events on the Southern Atlantic coast 
induced me to direct General Lee to repair thither. Before 
leaving, he said that, while he was serving in Yirginia, he had 
never thought it needful to inquire about his rank ; but now, 
when about to go into other States and to meet officers with 
whom he had not been previously connected, he would like to 
be informed upon that point. Under recent laws, authorizing 
appointments to higher grades than that of his first commission, 
he had been appointed a full general ; but so wholly had his 
heart and his mind been consecrated to the public service, that 
he had not remembered, if he ever knew, of his advancement. 

In organizing the bureaus, it was deemed advisable to select, 
for the chief of each, officers possessing special knowledge of 
the duties to be performed. The best assurance of that quali- 
fication was believed to be service creditably rendered in the 
several departments of the United States Army before resign- 
ing from it. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel A. C. Myers, who had 
held many important trusts in the United States Quartermas- 


ter's Department, was appointed Quartermaster-General of the 
Confederacy, with the rank of colonel. 

Captain L. B. Northrop, a gallant officer of the United States 
Dragoons, and who, by reason of a wound disabling him to 
perform regimental duty, had been employed in the subsistence 
department, was, after resigning from the United States Army, 
appointed Commissary-General of the Confederate States Army, 
with the rank of colonel. I have heretofore alluded to the 
difficult task thus imposed on him, and the success with which 
he performed it, and would be pleased here to enter into a 
fuller recital, but have not the needful information in regard to 
his administration of that department. 

Surgeon L. P. Moore, an officer of recognized merit in the 
United States Medical Department, from which he had resigned 
to join the Confederacy, was appointed the Surgeon- General of 
the Confederate States Army. As in the case of other depart- 
ments, there was in this a want of the stores requisite, as well 
for the field as the hospital. 

To supply medicines which were declared by the enemy to 
be contraband of war, our medical department had to seek in 
the forest for substitutes, and to add surgical instruments and 
appliances to the small stock on hand as best they could. 

It would be quite beyond my power to do justice to the 
skill and knowledge with which the medical corps performed 
their arduous task, and regret that I have no report from the 
Surgeon-General, Moore, which. would enable me to do justice 
to the officers of his corps, as well in regard to their humanity 
as to their professional skill. 

In no branch of our service were our needs so great and 
our means to meet them relatively so small as in the matter of 
ordnance and ordnance stores. The Chief of Ordnance, Gen- 
eral Gorgas, had been an ordnance officer of the United States 
Army, and resigned to join the Confederacy. He has favored 
me with a succinct though comprehensive statement, which has 
enabled me to write somewhat fully of that department ; but, 
for the better understanding of its operations, the reader is re- 
ferred to the ordnance report elsewhere. 



Commissioners to purchase Arms and Ammunition. — My Letter to Captain Semmes. 
— Resignations of Officers of United States Navy. — Our Destitution of Accesso- 
ries for the Supply of Naval Vessels. — Secretary Mallory. — Food-Supplies. — 
The Commissariat Department. — The Quartermaster's Department. — The Dis- 
appearance of Delusions. — The Supply of Powder. — Saltpeter. — Sulphur. — Arti- 
ficial Niter-Beds. — Services of General G. W. Rains. — Destruction at Harper's 
Ferry of Machinery. — The Master Armorer. — Machinery secured. — Want of 
Skillful Employees. — Difficulties encountered by Every Department of the Exec- 
utive Branch of the Government. 

On the third day after my inauguration at Montgomery, an 
officer of extensive information and high capacity was sent 
to the North, to make purchases of arms, ammunition, and 
machinery ; and soon afterward another officer was sent to Eu- 
rope, to buy in the market as far as possible, and, further- 
more, to make contracts for arms and munitions to be manufac- 
tured. Captain (afterward Admiral) Semmes, the officer who 
was sent to the North, would have been quite successful but for 
the intervention of the civil authorities, preventing the delivery 
of the various articles contracted for. The officer who was sent 
to Europe, Major Huse, found few serviceable arms upon the 
market ; he, however, succeeded in making contracts for the 
manufacture of large quantities, being in advance of the agents 
sent from the Northern Government for the same purpose. For 
further and more detailed information, reference is made to the 
monograph of the Chief of Ordnance. 

My letter of instructions to Captain Semmes was as follows : 

" Montgomery, Alabama, February 21, 1861. 

" Dear Sir : As agent of the Confederate States, you are au- 
thorized to proceed, as hereinafter set forth, to make purchases 
and contracts for machinery and munitions, or for the manufac- 
ture of arms and munitions of war. 

" Of the proprietor of the Powder Company, in , you 

will probably be able to obtain cannon- and musket-powder — the 
former to be of the coarsest grain ; and also to engage with him 
for the establishment of a powder-mill at some point in the limits 
of our territory. 


" The quantity of powder to be supplied immediately will ex- 
ceed his stock on hand, and the arrangement for further supply 
should, if possible, be by manufacture in our own territory ; if 
this is not practicable, means must be sought for further ship- 
ments from any and all sources which are reliable. 

" At the arsenal at Washington you will find an artisan named 

, who has brought the cap-making machine to its present 

state of efficiency, and who might furnish a cap-machine, and ac- 
company it to direct its operations. If not in this, I hope you 
may in some other way be able to obtain a cap-machine with little 
delay, and have it sent to the Mount Vernon Arsenal, Alabama. 

" We shall require a manufactory for friction-primers, and you 
will, if possible, induce some capable person to establish one in 
our country. The demand of the Confederate States will be the 
inducement in this as in the case of the powder-mill proposed. 

" A short time since, the most improved machinery for the 
manufacture of rifles, intended for the Harper's Ferry Armory, 
was, it was said, for sale by the manufacturer. If it be so at this 
time, you will procure it for this Government, and use the needful 

precaution in relation to its transportation. Mr. , of the 

Harper's Ferry Armory, can give you all the information in that 
connection which you may require. Mr. Ball, the master armorer 
at Harper's Ferry, is willing to accept service under our Govern- 
ment, and could probably bring with him skilled workmen. If 
we get the machinery, this will be important. 

"Machinery for grooving muskets and heavy guns is, I hope, 
to be purchased ready made. If not, you will contract for its 
manufacture and delivery. You will endeavor to obtain the most 
improved shot for rifled cannon, and persons skilled in the prepa- 
ration of that and other fixed ammunition. Captain G. W. Smith 
and Captain Lovell, late of the United States Army, and now of 
New York City, may aid you in your task ; and you will please 
say to them that we will be happy to have their services in our 

" You will make such inquiries as your varied knowledge will 
suggest in relation to the supply of guns of different calibers, es- 
pecially the largest. I suggest the advantage, if to be obtained, 
of having a few of the fifteen-inch guns, like the one cast at Pitts- 

" I have not sought to prescribe so as to limit your inquiries, 


either as to object or place, but only to suggest for your reflection 
and consideration the points which have chanced to come under 
my observation. You will use your discretion in visiting places 
where information of persons or things is to be obtained for the 
furtherance of the object in view. Any contracts made will be 
sent to the Hon. L. P. Walker, Secretary of War, for his approval ; 
and the contractor need not fear that delay will be encountered in 
the action of this Government. 

" Yery respectfully yours, etc., 
(Signed) " Jefferson Davis." 

Captain Semmes had also been directed to seek for vessels 
which would serve for naval purposes, and, after his return, 
reported that he could not find any vessels which in his 
judgment were, or could be made, available for our uses. 
The Southern officers of the navy who were in command of 
United States vessels abroad, under an idea more creditable to 
their sentiment than to their knowledge of the nature of our 
constitutional Union, brought the vessels they commanded into 
the ports of the North, and, having delivered them to the 
authorities of the United States Government, generally ten- 
dered their resignations, and repaired to tbe States from which 
they had been commissioned in the navy, to serve where they 
held their allegiance to be due. The theory that they owed 
allegiance to their respective States was founded on tbe fact 
that the Federal Government was of the States ; the sequence 
was, that the navy belonged to the States, not to their agent 
the Federal Government ; and, when tbe States ceased to be 
united, the naval vessels and armament should have been divided 
among the owners. While we honor the sentiment which caused 
them to surrender their heart-bound associations, and the pro- 
fession to which they were bred, on which they relied for sub- 
sistence, to go, with nothing save their swords and faithful 
hearts, to fight, to bleed, and to die if need be, in defense of their 
homes and a righteous cause, we can but remember how much 
was lost by their view of what their honor and duty demanded. 
Far, however, be it from their countrymen, for that or any other 
consideration, to wish that their fidelity to the dictates of a con- 


scientious belief should have yielded to any temptation of inter- 
est. The course they pursued shows how impossible it was that 
they should have done so, for what did they not sacrifice to their 
sense of right ! We were doubly bereft by losing our share of 
the navy we had contributed to build, and by having it all em- 
ployed to assail us. The application of the appropriations for 
the Navy of the United States had been such that the construc- 
tion of vessels had been at the North, though much of the tim- 
ber used and other material employed was transported from the 
South to Northern ship-yards. Therefore, we were without the 
accessories needful for the rapid supply of naval vessels. 

While attempting whatever was practicable at home, we 
sent a competent, well-deserving officer of the navy to England 
to obtain there and elsewhere, by purchase or by building, ves- 
sels which could be transformed into ships of war. These ef- 
forts and their results will be noticed more fully hereafter. 

It may not be amiss to remark here that, if the anticipations 
of our people were not realized, it was not from any lack of 
the zeal and ability of the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Mallory. 
As was heretofore stated, his fondness for and aptitude in nauti- 
cal affairs had led him to know much of vessels, their construc- 
tion and management, and, as chairman of the Committee on 
United States Naval Affairs, he had superadded to this a very 
large acquaintance with officers of the United States Navy, 
which gave him the requisite information for the most useful 
employment of the instructed officers who joined our service. 

At the North many had been deceived by the fictions of 
preparations at the South for the war of the sections, and among 
ourselves were few who realized how totally deficient the South- 
ern States were in all which was necessary to the active opera- 
tions of an army, however gallant the men might be, and how- 
ever able were the generals who directed and led them. From 
these causes, operating jointly, resulted undue caution at the 
North and overweening confidence at the South. The habits 
of our people in hunting, and protecting their stock in fields 
from the ravages of ferocious beasts, caused them to be generally 
supplied with the arms used for such purposes. The facility 
with which individuals traveled over the country led to very 


erroneous ideas as to the difficulties of transporting an army. 
The small amount of ammunition required in time of peace 
gave no measure of the amount requisite for warlike operations* 
and the products of a country, which insufficiently supplied food 
for its inhabitants when peaceful pursuits were uninterrupted, 
would serve but a short time to furnish the commissariat of a 
large army. It was, of course, easy to foresee that, if war was 
waged against the seceding States by all of those which re- 
mained in the Union, the large supply of provisions which had 
been annually sent from the Northwest to the South could not, 
under the altered circumstances, be relied on. That our people 
did not more immediately turn their attention to the production 
of food-supplies, may be attributed to the prevailing delusion that 
secession would not be followed by war. To the able officer 
then at the head of the commissariat department, Colonel L. B. 
Northrop, much credit is due for his well-directed efforts to pro- 
vide both for immediate and prospective wants. It gives me the 
greater pleasure to say this, because those less informed of all 
he did, and skillfully tried to do, have been profuse of criticism, 
and sparing indeed of the meed justly his due. Adequate facil- 
ities for transportation might have relieved the local want of 
supplies, especially in Virginia, where the largest bodies of troops 
were assembled ; but, unfortunately, the quartermaster's depart- 
ment was scarcely less provided than that of the commissary. 
Not only were the railroads insufficient in number, but they were 
poorly furnished with rolling stock, and had been mainly depend- 
ent upon Northern foundries and factories for their rails and 
equipment. Even the skilled operatives of the railroads were 
generally Northern men, and their desertion followed fast upon 
every disaster which attended the Confederate arms. In addi- 
tion to other causes which have been mentioned, the idea that 
Cotton was king, and would produce foreign intervention, as 
well as a desire of the Northern people for the return of peace 
and the restoration of trade, exercised a potent influence in pre- 
venting our agriculturists from directing at an early period their 
capital and labor to the production of food-supplies rather than 
that of our staple for export. As one after another the illusions 
vanished, and the material necessities of a great war were rec- 


ognized by our people, never did patriotic devotion exhibit 
brighter examples of the sacrifice of self-interest and the aban- 
donment of fixed habits and opinions, or more effective and 
untiring effort to meet the herculean task which was set be- 
fore them. Being one of the few who regarded secession and 
war as inevitably connected, my early attention was given to 
the organization of military forces and the procurement and 
preparation of the munitions of war. If our people had not 
gone to war without counting the cost, they were, nevertheless, 
involved in it without means of providing for its necessities. 
It has been heretofore stated that we had no powder-mills. 
It would be needless to say that the new-born Government 
had no depots of powder, but it may be well to add that, 
beyond the small supply required for sporting purposes, our 
local traders had no stock on hand. Having no manufac- 
turing industries which required saltpeter, very little of that 
was purchasable in our markets. The same would have been 
the case in regard to sulphur, but for the fact that it had 
been recently employed in the clarification of sugar-cane juice, 
and thus a considerable amount of it was found in New Or- 
leans. Prompt measures were taken to secure a supply of sul- 
phur, and parties were employed to obtain saltpeter from the 
caves, as well as from the earth of old tobacco-houses and cel- 
lars ; and artificial niter-beds were made to provide for prospec- 
tive wants. Of soft wood for charcoal there was abundance, 
and thus materials were procured for the manufacture of gun- 
powder to meet the demand which would arise when the lim- 
ited quantity purchased by the Confederate Government at the 
North should be exhausted. 

It was our good fortune to secure the services of an able 
and scientific soldier, General G. W. Kains, who, to a military 
education, added experience in a large manufacturing establish- 
ment, and to him was confided the construction of a powder- 
mill, and the manufacture of powder, both for artillery and 
small-arms. The appalling contemplation of the inauguration 
of a great war, without powder or a navy to secure its importa- 
tion from abroad, was soon relieved by the extraordinary efforts 
of the ordnance department and the well-directed skill of Gen- 


eral Bains, to whom it is but a just tribute to say that, begin- 
ning without even instructed workmen, he had, before the close 
of the war, made what, in the opinion of competent judges, 
has been pronounced to be the best powder-mill in the world, 
and in which powder of every variety of grain was manufac- 
tured of materials which had been purified from those qualities 
which cause its deterioration under long exposure to a moist 

The avowed purpose and declared obligation of the Federal 
Government was to occupy and possess the property belonging 
to the United States, yet one of the first acts was to set fire 
to the armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, the only establish- 
ment of the kind in the Southern States, and the only South- 
ern depository of the rifles which the General Government had 
then on hand. 

What conclusion is to be drawn from such action % To 
avoid attributing a breach of solemn pledges, it must be sup- 
posed that Yirginia was considered as out of the Union, and a 
public enemy, in whose borders it was proper to destroy what- 
ever might be useful to her of the common property of the 
States lately united. 

As soon as the United States troops had evacuated the place, 
the citizens and armorers went to work to save the armory as 
far as possible from destruction, and to secure valuable material 
stored in it. The master armorer, Armistead Ball, so bravely 
and skillfully directed these efforts, that a large part of the ma- 
chinery and materials was saved from the flames. The subdu- 
ing of the fire was a dangerous and difficult task, and great credit 
is due to those who, under the orders of Master Armorer Ball, 
attempted and achieved it. When the fire was extinguished, 
the work was continued and persevered in until all the valuable 
machinery and material had been collected, boxed, and shipped 
to Bichmond, about the end of the summer of 1861. The ma- 
chinery thus secured was divided between the arsenals at Bich- 
mond, Yirginia, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, and, when re- 
paired and put in working condition, supplied to some extent the 
want which existed in the South of means for the alteration 
and repair of old or injured arms, and finally contributed to in- 


crease the very scanty supply of arms with which our country 
was furnished when the war began. The practice of the Federal 
Government, which had kept the construction and manufacture 
of the material of war at the North, had consequently left the 
South without the requisite number of skilled workmen by 
whose labor machinery could at once be made fully effective if 
it were obtained ; indeed, the want of such employees prevented 
the small amount of machinery on hand from being worked to 
its full capacity. The gallant Master Armorer Ball, whose ca- 
pacity, zeal, and fidelity deserve more than a passing notice, was 
sent with that part of the machinery assigned to the Fayette- 
ville Arsenal. The toil, the anxiety, and responsibility of his 
perilous position at Harper's Ferry, where he remained long 
after the protecting force of the Confederate army retired, had 
probably undermined a constitution so vigorous that, in the face 
of a great exigency, no labor seemed too great or too long for 
him to grapple with and endure. So, like a ship which, after 
having weathered the storm, goes down in the calm, the master 
armorer, soon after he took his quiet post at Fayetteville, was 
" found dead in his bed." 

The difficulties which on every side met the several depart- 
ments of the executive branch of the Government one must 
suppose were but little appreciated by many, whose opportuni- 
ties for exact observation were the best, as one often meets with 
self-complacent expressions as to modes of achieving readily 
what prompt, patient, zealous effort proved to be insurmount- 
able. In the progress of this work, it is hoped, will be presented 
not only the magnitude of the obstacles, but the spirit and ca- 
pacity with which they were encountered by the unseen and 
much undervalued labors of the officers of the several depart- 
ments, on whom devolved provision for the civil service, as 
well as for the armies in the field. Already has the report 
of General St. John, Commissary-General of Subsistence, of 
the operations of that department, just before the close of 
the war, exposed the hollowness of many sensational pictures 
intended to fix gross neglect or utter incapacity on the Ex- 

The hoped-for and expected monograms of other chiefs of 


bureaus will silence like criticisms on each, so far as they are 
made by those who are not willfully blind, or maliciously intent 
on the circulation of falsehood. 


The Proclamation for Seventy-five Thousand Men by President Lincoln further exam- 
ined. — The Reasons presented by him to Mankind for the Justification of his 
Conduct shown to be Mere Fictions, having no Relation to the Question. — What 
is the Value of Constitutional Liberty, of Bills of Rights, of Limitations of Pow- 
ers, if they may be transgressed at Pleasure? — Secession of South Carolina. — 
Proclamation of Blockade. — Session of Congress at Montgomery. — Extracts 
from the President's Message. — Acts of Congress. — Spirit of the People. — Se- 
cession of Border States. — Destruction of United States Property by Order of 
President Lincoln. 

If any further evidence had been required to show that it 
was the determination of the ^Northern people not only to make 
no concessions to the grievances of the Southern States, but to 
increase them to the last extremity, it was furnished by the proc- 
lamation of President Lincoln, issued on April 15, 1861". This 
proclamation, which has already been mentioned, requires a fur- 
ther examination, as it was the official declaration, on the part 
of the Government of the United States, of the war which en- 
sued. In it the President called for seventy-five thousand men 
to suppress " combinations " .opposed to the laws, and obstructing 
their execution in seven sovereign States which had retired from 
the Union. Seventy-five thousand men organized and equipped 
are a powerful army, and, when raised to operate against these 
States, nothing else than war could be intended. The words in 
which he summoned this force were these : " Whereas the laws 
of the United States have been for some time past, and now are, 
opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of 
South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisi- 
ana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed 
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers 
vested in the marshals by law : Kow, therefore, I, Abraham 


Lincoln, by virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitu- 
tion and laws," etc. 

The power granted in the Constitution is thus expressed : 
" The Congress shall have power to provide for calling forth 
the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrec- 
tions, and repel invasions." * It was to the Congress, not the 
Executive, to whom the power was delegated, and thus early 
was commenced a long series of usurpations of powers incon- 
sistent with the purposes for which the Union was formed, and 
destructive of the fraternity it was designed to perpetuate. 

On November 6, 1860, the Legislature of South Carolina 
assembled and gave the vote of the State for electors of a Presi- 
dent of the United States. On the next day an act was passed 
calling a State Convention to assemble on December 17th, to 
determine the question of the withdrawal of the State from the 
United States. Candidates for membership were immediately 
nominated. All were in favor of secession. The Convention 
assembled on December 17th, and on the 20th passed " an or- 
dinance to dissolve the union between the State of South Caro- 
lina and other States united with her under the compact entitled 
' The Constitution of the United States of America.' " The or- 
dinance began with these words : " We, the people of the State 
of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and or- 
dain," etc. The State authorities immediately conformed to 
this action of the Convention, and the laws and authority of the 
United States ceased to be obeyed within the limits of the State. 
About four months afterward, when the State, in union with 
others which had joined her, had possessed herself of the forts 
within her limits, which the United States Government had re- 
fused to evacuate, President Lincoln issued the above-mentioned 

The State of South Carolina is designated in the proclama- 
tion as a combination too powerful to be suppressed by the or- 
dinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested 
in the marshals by law. This designation does not recognize 
the State, or manifest any consciousness of its existence, where- 
as South Carolina was one of the colonies that had declared her 

* Constitution of the United States, Article I, section 8. 


independence, and, after a long and bloody war, she had been 
recognized as a sovereign State by Great Britain, the only pow- 
er to which she had ever owed allegiance. The fact that she 
had been one of the colonies in the original Congress, had been 
a member of the Confederation, and subsequently of the Union, 
strengthens, but surely can not impair, her claim to be a State. 
Though President Lincoln designated her as a " combination," 
it did not make her a combination. Though he refused to rec- 
ognize her as a State, it did not make her any less a State. By 
assertion, he attempted to annihilate seven States ; and the war 
which followed was to enforce the revolutionary edict, and to 
establish the supremacy of the General Government on the 
ruins of the blood-bought independence of the States. 

By designating the State as a " combination," and considering 
that under such a name it might be in a condition of insurrec- 
tion, he assumed to have authority to raise a great military force 
and attack the State. Yet, even if the fact had been as assumed, 
if an insurrection had existed, the President could not lawfully 
have derived the power he exercised from such condition of 
affairs. The provision of the Constitution is as follows : " The 
United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a re- 
publican form of government, and shall protect each of them 
against invasion ; and, on application of the Legislature, or of 
the Executive (when the Legislature can not be convened), 
against domestic violence." * So the guarantee availed not at 
all to justify the act which it was presented to excuse — the fact 
being that a State, and not an " unlawful combination," as as- 
serted, was the object of assault, and the case one of making war. 
For a State or union of States to attack with military force an- 
other State, is to make war. By the Constitution, the power to 
make war is given solely to Congress. " Congress shall have 
power to declare war," says the Constitution, f And, again, " to 
raise and support armies." J Thus, under a perverted use of 
language, the Executive at Washington did that which he un- 
deniably had no power to do, under a faithful observance of 
the Constitution. 

* Constitution of the United States, Article IV, section 4. 
f Article I, section 8. \ Ibid. 



To justify himself to Congress and the people, or, rather, 
before the face of mankind, for this evasion of the Constitution 
of his country, President Lincoln, in his message to Congress, 
of July 4, 1861, resorted to the artifice of saying, " It [mean- 
ing the proceedings of the Confederate States] presents to the 
whole family of man the question whether a constitutional re- 
public or democracy — a government of the people by the same 
people — can, or can not, maintain its territorial integrity against 
its own domestic foes \ " 

The answer to this question is very plain. In the nature of 
things, no union can be formed except by separate, independent, 
and distinct parties. Any other combination is not a union ; 
and, upon the destruction of any of these elements in the par- 
ties, the union ipso facto ceases. If the Government is the re- 
sult of a union of States, then these States must be separate, 
sovereign, and distinct, to be able to form a union, which is en- 
tirely an act of their own volition. Such a government as ours 
had no power to maintain its existence any longer than the 
contracting parties pleased to cohere, because it was founded on 
the great principle of voluntary federation, and organized " to 
establish justice and insure domestic tranquillity." * Any de- 
parture from this principle by the General Government not only 
perverts and destroys its nature, but furnishes a just cause to 
the injured State to withdraw from the union. A new union 
might subsequently be formed, but the original one could never 
by coercion be restored. Any effort on the part of the others to 
force the seceding State to consent to come back is an attempt 
at subjugation. It is a wrong which no lapse of time or combi- 
nation of circumstances can ever make right. A forced union 
is a political absurdity. ]STo less absurd is President Lincoln's 
effort to dissever the sovereignty of the people from that of the 
State ; as if there could be a State without a people, or a sov- 
ereign people without a State. 

But the question which Mr. Lincoln presents " to the whole 
family of man " deserves a further notice. The answer which 
he seems to infer would be given " by the whole family of man " 
is that such a government as he supposes " can maintain its ter- 

* Constitution of the United States, preamble. 


ritorial integrity against its own domestic foes." And, there- 
fore, he concluded that he was right in the judgment of " the 
whole family of man " in commencing hostilities against us. 
He says, " So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call 
out the war power of the Government." That is the power to 
make war against foreign nations, for the Government has no 
other war power. Planting himself on this position, he com- 
menced the devastation and bloodshed which followed to effect 
our subjugation. 

Nothing could be more erroneous than such views. The 
supposed case which he presents is entirely unlike the real case. 
The Government of the United States is like no other govern- 
ment. It is neither a " constitutional republic or democracy," 
nor has it ever been thus called. Neither is it a " government 
of the people by the same people " ; but it is known and desig- 
nated as "the Government of the United States." It is an 
anomaly among governments. Its authority consists solely of 
certain powers delegated to it, as a common agent, by an asso- 
ciation of sovereign and independent States. These powers are 
to be exercised only for certain specified objects ; and the pur- 
poses, declared in the beginning of the deed or instrument of 
delegation, were "to form a more perfect union, establish jus- 
tice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common de- 
fense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of 
liberty to ourselves and our posterity." 

The beginning and the end of all the powers of the Govern- 
ment of the United States are to be found in that instrument of 
delegation. All its powers are there expressed, defined, and 
limited. It was only to that instrument Mr. Lincoln as Presi- 
dent should have gone to learn his duties. That was the chart 
which he had just solemnly pledged himself to the country 
faithfully to follow. He soon deviated widely from it — and 
fatally erroneous was his course. The administration of the 
affairs of a great people, at a most perilous period, is decided 
by the answer which it is assumed " the whole family of man " 
would give to a supposed condition of human affairs which did 
not exist and which could not exist. This is the ground upon 
which the rectitude of his cause was placed. He says, "No 


choice was left but to call out the war power of the Govern- 
ment, and so to resist force employed for its destruction by force 
for its preservation." 

" Here," he says, " no choice was left but to call out the war 
power of the Government." For what purpose must he call 
out this war power ? He answers, by saying, " and so to resist 
force employed for its destruction by force for its preservation." 
But this which he asserts is not a fact. There was no " force 
employed for its destruction." Let the reader turn to the rec- 
ord of the facts in Part III of this work, and peruse the fruitless 
efforts for peace which were made by us, and which Mr. Lin- 
coln did not deign to notice. The assertion is not only incor- 
rect, in stating that force was employed by us, but also in de- 
claring that it was for the destruction of the Government of the 
United States. On the contrary, we wished to leave it alone. 
Our separation did not involve its destruction. To such fiction 
was Mr. Lincoln compelled to resort to give even apparent jus- 
tice to his cause. He now goes to the Constitution for the ex- 
ercise of his war power, and here we have another fiction. 

On April 19th, four days later, President Lincoln issued an- 
other proclamation, announcing a blockade of the ports of seven 
confederated States, which was afterward extended to North 
Carolina and Yirginia. It further declared that all persons who 
should under their authority molest any vessel of the United 
States, or the persons or cargo on board, should be treated as 
pirates. In their efforts to subjugate us, the destruction of our 
commerce was regarded by the authorities at Washington as a 
most efficient measure. It was early seen that, although acts 
of Congress established ports of entry where commerce existed, 
they might be repealed, and the ports nominally closed or de- 
clared to be closed ; yet such a declaration would be of no 
avail unless sustained by a naval force, as these ports were lo- 
cated in territory not subject to the United States. An act was 
subsequently passed authorizing the President of the United 
States, in his discretion, to close our ports, but it was never ex- 

The scheme of blockade was resorted to, and a falsehood 
was asserted on which to base it. Mr. Seward writes to Mr. 


Dallas : " You will say (to Lord John Russell) that, by our own 
laws and the laws of nature and the laws of nations, this Gov- 
ernment has a clear right to suppress insurrection. An exclu- 
sion of commerce from national ports which have been seized 
by insurgents, in the equitable form of blockade, is a proper 
means to that end." * This is the same doctrine of " combina- 
tions " fabricated by the authorities at Washington to serve as 
the basis of a bloody revolution. Under the laws of nations, 
separate governments when at war blockade each other's ports. 
This is decided to be justifiable. But the Government of the 
United States could not consent to justify its blockade of our 
ports on this ground, as it would be an admission that the Con- 
federate States were a separate and distinct sovereignty, and 
that the war was prosecuted only for subjugation. It, there- 
fore, assumed that the withdrawal of the Southern States from 
the Union was an insurrection. 

Was it an insurrection ? When certain sovereign and inde- 
pendent States form a union with limited powers for some 
general purposes, and any one or more of them, in the progress 
of time, suffer unjust and oppressive grievances for which 
there is no redress but in a withdrawal from the association, is 
such withdrawal an insurrection ? If so, then of what advan- 
tage is a compact of union to States ? Within the Union are 
oppressions and grievances ; and the attempt to go out brings 
war and subjugation. The ambitious and aggressive States ob- 
tain possession of the central authority which, having grown 
strong in the lapse of time, asserts its entire sovereignty over 
the States. Whichever of them denies it and seeks to retire, is 
declared to be guilty of insurrection, its citizens are stigmatized 
as " rebels," as if they had revolted against a master, and a war 
of subjugation is begun. If this action is once tolerated, where 
will it end? Where is the value of constitutional liberty? 
What strength is there in bills of rights — in limitations of pow- 
er ? What new hope for mankind is to be found in written 
constitutions, what remedy which did not exist under kings or 
emperors ? If the doctrines thus announced by the Government 
of the United States are conceded, then, look through either end 

* Diplomatic correspondence, May 21, 1861. 


of the political telescope, and one sees only an empire, and the 
once famous Declaration of Independence trodden in the dust 
as a "glittering generality," and the compact of union de- 
nounced as a " flaunting lie." Those who submit to such con- 
sequences without resistance are not worthy of the liberties and 
the rights to which they were born, and deserve to be made 
slaves. Such must be the verdict of mankind. 

Men do not fight to make a fraternal union, neither do na- 
tions. These military preparations of the Government of the 
United States signified nothing less than the subjugation of the 
Southern States, so that, by one devastating blow, the North 
might grasp for ever that supremacy it had so long coveted. 

To be prepared for self-defense, I called Congress together 
at Montgomery on April 29th, and, in the message of that date, 
thus spoke of the proclamation of the President of the United 
States: "Apparently contradictory as are the terms of this 
singular document, one point is unmistakably evident. The 
President of the United States calls for an army of seventy-five 
thousand men, whose first service is to be the capture of our 
forts. It is a plain declaration of war, which I am not at 
liberty to disregard, because of my knowledge that, under the 
Constitution of the United States, the President is usurping 
a power granted exclusively to Congress." 

I then proceeded to say that I did not feel at liberty to dis- 
regard the fact that many of the States seemed quite content to 
submit to the exercise of the powers assumed by the President 
of the United States, and were actively engaged in levying 
troops for the purpose indicated in the proclamation. Mean- 
time, being deprived of the aid of Congress, I had been under 
the necessity of confining my action to a call on the States for 
volunteers for the common defense, in accordance with author- 
ity previously conferred on me. I stated that there were then 
in the field, at Charleston, Pensacola, Forts Morgan, Jackson, St. 
Philip, and Pulaski, nineteen thousand men, and sixteen thou- 
sand more were on their way to Virginia ; that it was proposed 
to organize and hold in readiness for instant action, in view of 
the existing exigencies of the country, an army of one hundred 
thousand men ; and that, if a further force should be needed, 


Congress would be appealed to for authority to call it into the 
field. Finally, that the intent of the President of the United 
States, already developed, to invade our soil, capture our forts, 
blockade our ports, and wage war against us, rendered it neces- 
sary to raise means to a much larger amount than had been 
done, to defray the expenses of maintaining independence and 
repelling invasion. 

A brief summary of the internal affairs of the Government 
followed, and, notwithstanding frequent declarations of the 
peaceful intentions of the withdrawing States had been made in 
the most solemn manner, it was deemed not to be out of place 
to repeat them once more ; and, therefore, the message closed 
with these words : " We protest solemnly, in the face of man- 
kind, that we desire peace at any sacrifice, save that of honor. 
In independence we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no 
concession of any kind from the States with which we have 
lately been confederated. All we ask is to be let alone — that 
those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our 
subjugation by arms. This we will, we must, resist to the direst 
extremity. The moment that this pretension is abandoned, 
the sword will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to 
enter into treaties of amity and commerce that can not but be 
mutually beneficial. So long as this pretension is maintained, 
with a firm reliance on that Divine Power which covers with 
its protection the just cause, we must continue to struggle for 
our inherent right to freedom, independence, and self-govern- 

At this session Congress passed acts authorizing the Presi- 
dent to use the whole land and naval force to meet the necessi- 
ties of the war thus commenced ; to issue to private armed 
vessels letters of marque ; in addition to the volunteer force 
authorized to be raised, to accept the services of volunteers, to 
serve during the war ; to receive into the service various com- 
panies of the different arms ; to make a loan of fifty millions of 
dollars in bonds and notes ; and to hold an election for officers 
of the permanent Government under the new Constitution. An 
act was also passed to provide revenue from imports ; another, 
relative to prisoners of war ; and such others as were necessary 


to complete the internal organization of the Government, and 
establish the administration of public affairs. 

In every portion of the country there was exhibited the 
most patriotic devotion to the common cause. Transportation 
companies freely tendered the use of their lines for troops and 
supplies. Requisitions for troops were met with such alacrity 
that the number offering their services in every instance greatly 
exceeded the demand and the ability to arm them. Men of the 
highest official and social position served as volunteers in the 
ranks. The gravity of age and the zeal of youth rivaled each 
other in the desire to be foremost in the public defense. 

The appearance of the proclamation of the President of the 
United States, calling out seventy-five thousand men, was fol- 
lowed by the immediate withdrawal of the States of Virginia, 
North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and their union with 
the Confederate States. The former State, thus placed on the 
frontier and exposed to invasion, began to prepare for a resolute 
defense. Volunteers were ordered to be enrolled and held in 
readiness in every part of the State. Colonel Robert E. Lee, 
having resigned his commission in the United States cavalry, 
was on April 22d nominated and confirmed by the State Con- 
vention of Virginia as " Commander-in-Chief of the military 
and naval forces of the Commonwealth." 

Already the Northern officer in charge had evacuated Har- 
per's Ferry, after having attempted to destroy the public build- 
ings there. His report says : " I gave the order to apply the 
torch. In three minutes or less, both of the arsenal buildings, 
containing nearly fifteen thousand stand of arms, together with 
the carpenter's shop, which was at the upper end of a long and 
connected series of workshops of the armory proper, were in a 
blaze. There is every reason for believing the destruction was 
complete." Mr. Simon Cameron, the Secretary of War, on 
April 22d replied to this report in these words : " I am directed 
by the President of the United States to communicate to you, 
and through you to the officers and men under your command 
at Harper's Ferry Armory, the approbation of the Government 
of your and their judicious conduct there, and to tender you 
and them the thanks of the Government for the same." At 


the same time the ship-yard at Norfolk was abandoned after an 
attempt to destroy it. About midnight of April 20th, a fire 
was started in the yard, which continued to increase, and before 
daylight the work of destruction extended to two immense ship- 
houses, one of which contained the entire frame of a seventy- 
four-gun ship, and to the long ranges of stores and offices on 
each side of the entrance The great ship Pennsylvania was 
burned, and the frigates Merrimac and Columbus, and the Dela- 
ware, Paritan, Plymouth, and Germantown were sunk. A vast 
amount of machinery, valuable engines, small-arms, and chro- 
nometers, was broken up and rendered entirely useless. The 
value of the property destroyed was estimated at several mill- 
ions of dollars. 

This property thus destroyed had been accumulated and 
constructed with laborious care and skillful ingenuity during a 
course of years to fulfill one of the objects of the Constitution, 
which was expressed in these words, " To provide for the com- 
mon defense " (see Preamble of the Constitution). It had be- 
longed to all the States in common, and to each one equally 
with the others. If the Confederate States were still members 
of the Union, as the President of the United States asserted, 
where can he find a justification of these acts % 

In explanation of his policy to the Commissioners sent to 
him by the Yirginia State Convention, he said, referring to his 
inaugural address, " As I then and therein said, I now repeat, 
the power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and pos- 
sess property and places belonging to the Government." Yet 
he tendered the thanks of the Government to those who ap- 
plied the torch to destroy this property belonging, as he regard- 
ed it, to the Government. 

JIow unreasonable, how blind with rage must have been 
that administration of affairs which so quickly brought the Gov- 
ernment to the necessity of destroying its own means of defense 
in order, as it publicly declared, " to maintain its life " ! It 
would seem as if the passions that rule the savage had taken 
possession of the authorities at the United States capital ! In 
the conflagrations of vast structures, the wanton destruction of 
public property, and still more in the issue of lettres de cachet 


by the Secretary of State, who boasted of the power of his lit- 
tle bell over the personal liberties of the citizen, the people 
saw, or might have seen, the rapid strides toward despotism 
made under the mask of preserving the Union. Yet these and 
similar measures were tolerated because the sectional hate domi- 
nated in the Northern States over the higher motives of con- 
stitutional and moral obligation. 


Maryland first approached by Northern Invasion. — Denies to United States Troops 
the Right of Way across her Domain. — Mission of Judge Handy. — Views of 
Governor Hicks. — His Proclamation. — Arrival of Massachusetts Troops at 
Baltimore. — Passage through the City disputed. — Activity of the Police. — 
Burning of Bridges. — Letter of President Lincoln to the Governor. — Visited 
by Citizens. — Action of the State Legislature. — Occupation of the Relay House. 
— The City Arms surrendered. — City in Possession of United States Troops. 
— Remonstrances of the City to the Passage of Troops disregarded. — Citizens 
arrested ; also, Members of the Legislature. — Accumulation of Northern Forces 
at Washington. — Invasion of West Virginia by a Force under McClellan. — 
Attack at Philippi ; at Laurel Hill. — Death of General Garnett. 

The border State of Maryland was the outpost of the South 
on the frontier first to be approached by .Northern invasion. 
The first demonstration against State sovereignty was to be made 
there, and in her fate were the other slaveholding States of 
the border to have warning of what they were to expect. She 
had chosen to be, for the time at least, neutral in the impending 
war, and had denied to the United States troops the right of 
way across her domain in their march to invade the Southern 
States. The Governor (Hicks) avowed a desire, not only that 
the State should avoid war, but that she should be a means for 
pacifying those more disposed to engage in combat. 

Judge Handy, a distinguished citizen of Mississippi, who 
was born in Maryland, had, in December, 1860, been sent as a 
commissioner from the State of his adoption to that of his birth, 
and presented his views and the object of his mission to Gov- 
ernor Hicks, who, in his response (December 19, 1860), de- 


clared his purpose to act in full concert with the other border 
States, adding, "I do not doubt the people of Maryland are 
ready to go with the people of those States for weal or woe." * 
Subsequently, in answer to appeals for and against a proclama- 
tion assembling the Legislature, in order to have a call for a 
State convention, Governor Hicks issued an address, in which, 
arguing that there was no necessity to define the position of 
Maryland, he wrote : " If the action of the Legislature would 
be simply to declare that Maryland was with the South in sym- 
pathy and feeling ; that she demands from the North the repeal 
of offensive, unconstitutional statutes, and appeals to it for new 
guarantees ; that she will wait a reasonable time for the North 
to purge her statute-books, to do justice to her Southern breth- 
ren ; and, if her appeals are vain, will make common cause with 
her sister border States in resistance to tyranny, if need be, it 
would only be saying what the whole country well knows," etc. 
On the 18th of April, 1861, Governor Hicks issued a proc- 
lamation invoking them to preserve the peace, and said, " I as- 
sure the people that no troops will be sent from Maryland, 
unless it may be for the defense of the national capital." On 
the same day Mayor Brown, of the city of Baltimore, issued a 
proclamation in which, referring to that of the Governor above 
cited, he said, " I can not withhold my expression of satisfac- 
tion at his resolution that no troops shall be sent from Maryland 
to the soil of any other State." It will be remembered that the 
capital was on a site which originally belonged to Maryland, 
and was ceded by her for a special use, so that troops to defend 
the capital might be considered as not having been sent out of 
Maryland. It will be remembered that these proclamations 
were three days after the requisition made by the Secretary of 
"War on the States which had not seceded for their quota of 
troops to serve in the war about to be inaugurated against the 
South, and that rumors existed at the time in Baltimore that 
troops from the Northeast were about to be sent through that 
city toward the South. On the next day, viz., the 19th of 
April, 1861, a body of troops arrived at the railroad depot ; 
the citizens assembled in large numbers, and, though without 

* " Annual Cyclopaedia," vol. i, p. 443. 


arms, disputed the passage through the city. They attacked 
the troops with the loose stones found in the street, which was 
undergoing repair, and with such determination and violence, 
that some of the soldiers were wounded, and they fired upon 
the multitude, killing a few and wounding many. 

The police of Baltimore were very active in their efforts to 
prevent conflict and preserve the peace ; they rescued the bag- 
gage and munitions of the troops, which had been seized by 
the multitude ; and the rear portion of the troops was, by di- 
rection of Governor Hicks, sent back to the borders of the 
State. The troops who had got through the city took the rail- 
road at the Southern Depot and passed on. The militia of the 
city was called out, and by evening quiet was restored. During 
the night, on a report that more Northern troops were approach- 
ing the city by the railroads, the bridges nearest to the city were 
destroyed, as it was understood, by orders from the authorities 
of Baltimore. 

On the 20th of April President Lincoln wrote in reply to 
Governor Hicks and Mayor Brown, saying, " For the future, 
troops must be brought here, but I make no point of bringing 
them through Baltimore." On the next day, the 21st, Mayor 
Brown and other influential citizens, by request of the Presi- 
dent, visited him. The interview took plaee in presence of the 
Cabinet and General Scott, and was reported to the public by 
the Mayor after his return to Baltimore. From that report I 
make the following extracts. Referring to the President, the 
Mayor uses the following language : 

" The protection of Washington, he asseverated with great ear- 
nestness, was the sole object of concentrating troops there, and 
he protested that none of the troops brought through Maryland 
were intended for any purposes hostile to the State, or aggressive 
as against the Southern States. . . . He called on General Scott 
for his opinion, which the General gave at great length, to the 
effect that troops might be brought through Maryland without 
going through Baltimore, etc. . . . The interview terminated with 
the distinct assurance, on the part of the President, that no more 
troops would be sent through Baltimore, unless obstructed in 
their transit in other directions, and with the understanding that 


the city authorities should do their best to restrain their own 

"The Mayor and his companions availed themselves of the 
President's full discussion of the questions of the day to urge 
upon him respectfully, but in the most earnest manner, a course 
of policy which would give peace to the country, and especially 
the withdrawal of all orders contemplating the passage of troops 
through any part of Maryland." 

The Legislature of the State of Maryland appointed com- 
missioners to the Confederate Government to suggest to it the 
cessation of impending hostilities until the meeting of Congress 
at Washington in July. Commissioners with like instructions 
were also sent to "Washington. In my reply to the Commis- 
sioners, dated 25th of May, 1861, I referred to the uniform ex- 
pression of desire for peace on the part of the Confederate Gov- 
ernment, and added : 

" In deference to the State of Maryland, it again asserts in the 
most emphatic terms that its sincere and earnest desire is for 
peace ; but that, while the Government would readily entertain 
any proposition from the Government of the United States tend- 
ing to a peaceful solution of the present difficulties, the recent 
attempts of this Government to enter into negotiations with that 
of the United States were attended with results which forbid any 
renewal of proposals from it to that Government. ... Its policy 
can not but be peace — peace with all nations and people." 

On the 5th of May, the Relay House, at the junction of the 
"Washington and Baltimore and Ohio Railroads, was occupied 
by United States troops under General Butler, and, on the 13th 
of the same month, he moved a portion of the troops to Balti- 
more, and took position on Federal Hill — thus was consum- 
mated the military occupation of Baltimore. On the next day, 
reinforcements were received ; and, on the same day, the com- 
manding General issued a proclamation to the citizens, in which 
he announced to them his purpose and authority to discriminate 
between citizens, those who agreed with him being denominated 
"well disposed," and the others described with many offensive ep- 
ithets. The initiatory step of the policy subsequently developed 


was found in one sentence : " Therefore, all manufacturers of 
arms and munitions of war are hereby requested to report to me 
forthwith, so that the lawfulness of their occupations may be 
known and understood, and all misconstruction of their doings 

There soon followed a demand for the surrender of the arms 
stored by the city authorities in a warehouse. The police re- 
fused to surrender them without the orders of the police com- 
missioners. The police commissioners, upon representation that 
the demand of General Butler was by order of the President, 
decided to surrender the arms under protest, and they were ac- 
cordingly removed to Fort McHenry. 

Baltimore was now disarmed. The Army of the United 
States had control of the city. There was no longer necessity 
to regard the remonstrance of Baltimore against sending troops 
through the city, and that more convenient- route was hence- 
forth to be employed. George P. Kane, Marshal of the Police 
of Baltimore, who had rendered most efficient service for the 
preservation of peace, as well in the city of Baltimore as at Lo- 
cust Point, where troops were disembarked to be dispatched 
to Washington, was arrested at home by a military force, and 
sent to Fort McHenry, and a provost-marshal was appointed 
by General Banks, who had succeeded to the command. The 
excuse given for the arrest of Marshal Kane was that he was 
believed to be cognizant of combinations of men waiting for 
an opportunity to unite with those in rebellion against the 
United States Government. Whether the suspicion were well 
or ill founded, it constituted a poor excuse for depriving a 
citizen of his liberty without legal warrant and without proof. 
But this was only the beginning of unbridled despotism and 
a reign of terror. The Mayor and Police Commissioners, 
Charles Howard, William H. Gatchell, and John W. Davis, 
held a meeting, and, after preparing a protest against the sus- 
pension of their functions in the appointment of a provost-mar- 
shal, resolved that, while they would do nothing to " obstruct 
the execution of such measures as Major-General Banks may 
deem proper to take, on his own responsibility, for the preser- 
vation of the peace of the city and of public order, they can not, 


consistently with their views of official duty and of the obliga- 
tions of their oaths of office, recognize the right of any of the 
officers and men of the police force, as such, to receive orders or 
directions from any other authority than from this Board ; and 
that, in the opinion of the Board, the forcible suspension of 
their functions suspends at the same time the active operations 
of the police law." * The Provost-Marshal, with the plenary 
powers conferred upon him, commenced a system of search and 
seizure, in private houses, of arms and munitions of every de- 

On the 1st of July, General Banks announced that, "in 
pursuance of orders issued from the headquarters at "Washing- 
ton for the preservation of the public peace in this department, 
I have arrested, and do detain in custody of the United States, the 
late members of the Board of Police — Messrs. Charles Howard, 
William H. Gatchell, Charles D. Hinks, and John W. Davis." 
If the object had been to preserve order by any proper and legit- 
imate method, the effective means would palpably have been 
to rely upon men whose influence was known to be great, and 
whose integrity was certainly unquestionable. The first-named 
of the commissioners I knew well. He was of an old Maryland 
family, honored for their public services, and himself adorned by 
every social virtue. Old, unambitious, hospitable, gentle, lov- 
ing, he was beloved by the people among whom his long life 
had been passed. Could such a man be the just object of suspi- 
cion, if, when laws had been silenced, suspicion could justify 
arrest and imprisonment ? Those who knew him will accept as 
a just description : 

" In action faithful, and in honor clear, 
"Who broke no promise, served no private end, 
Who gained no title, and who lost no friend." 

Thenceforward, arrests of the most illustrious became the rule. 
In a land where freedom of speech was held to be an unques- 
tioned right, freedom of thought ceased to exist, and men were 
incarcerated for opinion's sake. 

In the Maryland Legislature, the Hon. S. Teacle "Wallis, from 

* "Baltimore American," June 28, 1861. 


a committee to whom was referred the memorial of the police 
commissioners arrested in Baltimore, made a report upon the 
unconstitutionality of the act, and " appealed in the most ear- 
nest manner to the whole people of the country, of all parties, 
sections, and opinions, to take warnings by the usurpations men- 
tioned, and come to the rescue of the free institutions of the 
country." * 

For no better reason, so far as the public was informed, than 
a vote in favor of certain resolutions, General Banks sent his 
provost-marshal to Frederick, where the Legislature was in ses- 
sion ; a cordon of pickets was placed around the town to prevent 
any one from leaving it without a written permission from a mem- 
ber of General Banks's staff; police detectives from Baltimore 
then went into the town and arrested some twelve or thirteen 
members and several officers of the Legislature, which, thereby 
left without a quorum, was prevented from organizing, and it 
performed the only act which it was competent to do, i. e., ad- 
journed. S. Teacle Wallis, the author of the report in defense 
of the constitutional rights of citizens, was among those arrested. 
Henry May, a member of Congress, who had introduced a reso- 
lution which he hoped would be promotive of peace, was an- 
other of those arrested and thrown into prison. Senator Ken- 
nedy, of the same State, presented a report of the Legislature to 
the United States Senate, reciting the outrage inflicted upon 
Maryland in the persons of her municipal officers and citizens, 
and, after some opposition, merely obtained an order to have it 
printed. Governor Hicks, whose promises had been so cheer- 
ing in the beginning of the year, sent his final message to the 
Legislature on December 3, 1861. In that, referring to the 
action of the Maryland Legislature at its several sessions before 
that when the arrest of its members prevented an organization, 
he wrote, " This continued until the General Government had 
ample reason to believe it was about to go through the farce of 
enacting an ordinance of secession, when the treason was summa- 
rily stopped by the dispersion of the traitors. . . ." After re- 
ferring to the elections of the 13th of June and the 6th of 
November, he says, the people have " declared, in the most em- 

* New York "World," August 6, 1861. 


phatic tones, what I have never doubted, that Maryland has no 
sympathy with the rebellion, and desires to do her full share in 
the duty of suppressing it." It would be more easy than gra- 
cious to point out the inconsistency between his first statements 
and this last. The conclusion is inevitable that he kept himself 
in equipoise, and fell at last, as men without convictions usually 
do, upon the stronger side. 

Henceforth the story of Maryland is sad to the last degree, 
only relieved by the gallant men who left their homes to fight 
the battle of State rights when Maryland no longer furnished 
them a field on which they could maintain the rights their 
fathers left them. This was a fate doubly sad to the sons of 
the heroic men who, under the designation of the " Maryland 
Line," did so much in our Revolutionary struggle to secure the 
independence of the States ; of the men who, at a later day, 
fought the battle of North Point ; of the people of a land which 
had furnished so many heroes and statesmen, and gave the great 
Chief -Justice Taney to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Though Maryland did not become one of the Confederate 
States, she was endeared to the people thereof by many most 
enduring ties. Last in order, but first in cordiality, were the 
tender ministrations of her noble daughters to the sick and 
wounded prisoners who were carried through the streets of Bal- 
timore ; and it is with shame we remember that brutal guards 
on several occasions inflicted wounds upon gentlewomen who 
approached these suffering prisoners to offer them the relief of 
which they so evidently stood in need. 

The accumulation of Northern forces at and near "Wash- 
ington City, made it evident that the great effort of the in- 
vasion would be from that point, while assaults of more or less 
vigor might be expected upon all important places which the 
enemy, by his facilities for transportation, could reach. The 
concentration of Confederate troops in Virginia was begun, and 
they were sent forward as rapidly as practicable to the points 
threatened with attack. 

It was soon manifest that, besides the army at "Washington, 
which threatened Virginia, there was a second one at Chambers- 
burg, Pennsylvania, under Major-General Patterson, designed to 


move through Williamsport and Martinsburg, and another form- 
ing in Ohio, under the command of Major-General McClellan, 
destined to invade the western counties of Virginia. 

This latter force, having landed at Wheeling on May 26th, 
advanced as far as Grafton on the 29th. At this time Colonel 
Porterfield, with the small force of seven hundred men, sent for- 
ward by Governor Letcher, of Virginia, was at Philippi. On 
the night of June 2d he was attacked by General McClellan, 
with a strong force, and withdrew to Laurel Hill. Reinforce- 
ments under General Garnett were sent forward and occupied 
the hill, while Colonel Pegram, the second in command, held 
Pich Mountain. On July 11th the latter was attacked by two 
columns of the enemy, and, after a vigorous defense, fell back 
on the 12th, losing many of his men, who were made prisoners. 
General Garnett, hearing of this reverse, attempted to fall back, 
but was pursued by McClellan, and, while striving to rally his 
rear guard, was killed. Five hundred of his men were taken 
prisoners. This success left the Northern forces in possession 
of that region. 

The difficult character of the country in which the battle was 
fought, as well from mountain acclivity as dense wood, rendered 
a minute knowledge of the roads of vast importance. There is 
reason to believe that competent guides led the enemy, by roads 
unknown to our army, to the flank and rear of its position, and 
thus caused the sacrifice of those who had patriotically come to 
repel the invasion of the very people who furnished the guides 
to the enemy. It was treachery confounding the counsels of 
the brave. Thus occurred the disaster of Pich Mountain and 
Laurel Hill. 

General Pobert Garnett was a native of Virginia, and a 
graduate of the United States Military Academy. He served 
in Mexico, on the staff of General Z. Taylor, and was conspicu- 
ous for gallantry and good conduct, especially in the battles of 
Monterey and Buena Vista. Pecognizing his allegiance as due 
to the State of Virginia, from which he was appointed a cadet, 
and thence won his various promotions in the army, he resigned 
his commission when the State withdrew from the Union, and 
earnestly and usefully served as aide-de-camp to General P. E. 


Lee, the commander-in-chief of the Army of Virginia, until 
she acceded to the Confederacy. 

"When Western Virginia was invaded, he offered his services 
to go to her defense, and, relying confidently on the sentiment, 
so strong in his own heart, of devotion to the State by all Vir- 
ginians, he believed it was only needful for him to have a nu- 
cleus around which the people could rally to resist the invasion 
of their country. How sadly he was disappointed, and how 
bravely he struggled against adverse fortune, and how gallantly 
he died in the discharge of his duty, are memories which, though 
sad, bear with them to his friends the consolation that the man- 
ner of his death was worthy of the way in which he lived, and 
that even his life was an offering he was not unwilling to make 
for the welfare and honor of Virginia. 

He fell while commanding the rear guard, to save his retreat- 
ing army, thus exemplifying the highest quality of man, self- 
sacrifice for others, and such devotion and fortitude as made 
Ney the grandest figure in Bonaparte's retreat from Moscow. 


Removal of the Seat of Government to Richmond. — Message to Congress at Rich- 
mond. — Confederate Forces in Virginia. — Forces of the Enemy. — Letter to Gen- 
eral Johnston. — Combat at Bethel Church. — Affair at Romney. — 'Movements 
of McDowell. — Battle of Manassas. 

The Provisional Congress, in session at Montgomery, Ala- 
bama, on the 21st of May, 1861, resolved " that this Congress 
will adjourn on Tuesday next, to meet again on the 20th day of 
July at Richmond, Virginia." The resolution further author- 
ized the President to have the several executive departments, 
with their archives, removed at such intermediate time as he 
might determine, and added a proviso that, if any public emer- 
gency should " render it impolitic to meet in Richmond," he 
should call the Congress together at some other place to be 
selected by him. 

The hostile demonstrations of the United States Government 


against Virginia caused the President, at an early day after the 
adjournment of Congress, to proceed to Richmond and to direct 
the executive departments, with their archives, to be removed 
to that place as soon as could be conveniently done. 

In the message delivered to the Congress at its meeting in 
Richmond, according to adjournment, I gave the following ex- 
planation of my conduct under the resolution above cited : " Im- 
mediately after your adjournment, the aggressive movement of 
the enemy required prompt, energetic action. The accumula- 
tion of his forces on the Potomac sufficiently demonstrated that 
his efforts were to be directed against Virginia, and from no 
point could necessary measures for her defense and protection 
be so effectively decided as from her own capital." 

On my arrival in Richmond, General R. E. Lee, as com- 
mander of the Army of Virginia, was found there, where he 
had established his headquarters. He possessed my unqualified 
confidence, both as a soldier and a patriot, and the command he 
had exercised over the Army of Virginia, before her accession 
to the Confederacy, gave him that special knowledge which at 
the time was most needful. As has been already briefly stated, 
troops had previously been sent from other States of the Confed- 
eracy to the aid of Virginia. The forces there assembled were 
divided into three armies, at positions the most important and 
threatened : one, under General J. E. Johnston, at Harper's 
Ferry, covering the valley of the Shenandoah ; another, under 
General P. G. T. Beauregard, at Manassas, covering the direct 
approach from Washington to Richmond ; and the third, un- 
der Generals Huger and Magruder, at Norfolk and on the Pen- 
insula between the James and York Rivers, covering the ap- 
proach to Richmond from the seaboard. 

The first and second of these armies, though separated by 
the Blue Ridge, had such practicable communication with each 
other as to render their junction possible when the necessity 
should be foreseen. They both were confronted by forces 
greatly superior in numbers to their own, and it was doubtful 
which would first be the object of attack. Harper's Ferry was 
an important position, both for military and political considera- 
tions, and, though unfavorably situated for defense against an 


enemy which should seek to turn its position by crossing the 
Potomac above, it was desirable to hold it as long as was con- 
sistent with safety. The temporary occupation was especially 
needful for the removal of the valuable machinery and material 
in the armory located there, and which the enemy had failed to 
destroy, though he had for that purpose fired the buildings be- 
fore his evacuation of the post. The demonstrations of General 
Patterson, commanding the Federal army in that region, caused 
General Johnston earnestly to insist on being allowed to retire 
to a position nearer to Winchester. Under these circumstances, 
an official letter was addressed to him, from which the follow- 
ing extract is made : 

"Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, 
" Richmond, June IS, 1861. 

" To General J. E. Johnston, commanding Harper's Ferry, Virginia. 

" Sir : . . . You had been heretofore instructed to exercise 
your discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper's Ferry, 
and taking the field to check the advance of the enemy. . . . The 
ineffective portion of your command, together with the baggage 
and whatever else would impede your operations in the field, it 
would be well to send, without delay, to the Manassas road. 
Should you not be sustained by the population of the Valley, so 
as to enable you to turn upon the enemy before reaching Win- 
chester, you will continue slowly to retire to the Manassas road, 
upon some of the passes of which it is hoped you will be able to 
make an effective stand, even against a very superior force. To 
this end, it might be well to send your engineer to make a re- 
connaissance and construct such temporary works as may be use- 
ful and proper. . . . For these reasons it has been with reluctance 
that any attempt was made to give you specific instructions, and 
you will accept assurances of the readiness with which the freest 
exercise of discretion on your part will be sustained. 

" Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"S. Cooper, 
"Adjutant and Inspector- General." 

The earliest combat in this quarter, and which, in the inex- 
perience of the time, was regarded as a great battle, may claim a 
passing notice, as exemplifying the extent to which the individ- 


uality, self-reliance, and habitual use of small-arms by the peo- 
ple of the South was a substitute for military training, and, on 
the other hand, how the want of such training made the North- 
ern new levies inferior to the like kind of Southern troops. 

A detached work on the right of General Magruder's line 
was occupied June 11, 1861, by the First Regiment of North 
Carolina Yolunteers and three hundred and sixty Yirginians 
under the command of an educated, vigilant, and gallant soldier, 
then Colonel D. li. Hill, First Regiment North Carolina Yol- 
unteers, subsequently a lieutenant-general in the Confederate 
service. He reports that this small force was " engaged for five 
and a half hours with four and a half regiments of the enemy 
at Bethel Church, nine miles from Hampton. The enemy made 
three distinct and well-sustained charges, but were repulsed 
with heavy loss. Our cavalry pursued them for six miles, when 
their retreat became a total rout." 

On the other side, Frederick Townsend, colonel of Third 
Regiment of the enemy's forces, after stating with much minute- 
ness the orders and line of march, describes how, " about five or 
six miles from Hampton, a heavy and well-sustained fire of can- 
ister and small-arms was opened upon the regiment," and how 
it was afterward discovered to be a portion of their own column 
which had fired upon them. After due care for the wounded 
and a recognition of their friends, the column proceeded, and 
the Colonel describes his regiment as moving to the attack " in 
line of battle, as if on parade, in the face of a severe fire of 
artillery and small-arms." Subsequently, the description pro- 
ceeds, "a company of my regiment had been separated from 
the regiment by a thickly-hedged ditch," and marched in the 
adjoining field in line with the main body. Not being aware of 
the separation of that company, the Colonel states that, there- 
fore, " upon seeing among the breaks in the hedge the glisten- 
ing of bayonets in the adjoining field, I immediately concluded 
that the enemy were outflanking, and conceived it to be my 
duty to immediately retire and repel that advance." * 

"Without knowing anything of the subsequent career of the 
Colonel from whose report these extracts have been made, or of 

* See "Rebellion Record," vol. ii, pp. 164, 165. 


the officers who opened fire upon him while he was marching 
to the execution of the orders under which they were all acting, 
it is fair to suppose that, after a few months' experience, such 
scenes as are described could not have occurred, and these cita- 
tions have been made to show the value of military training. 

In further exemplification of the difference between the 
troops of the Confederate States and those of the United States, 
before either had been trained in war, I will cite an affair which 
occurred on the upper Potomac. Colonel A. P. Hill, command- 
ing a brigade at Pomney, in Western Yirginia, having learned 
that the enemy had a command at the twenty-first bridge on the 
Baltimore and Ohio Pailroad, decided to attack it and to de- 
stroy the bridge, so as to interrupt the use of that important 
line of the enemy's communication. For this purpose he or- 
dered Colonel John C. Yaughn, of the Third Tennessee Vol- 
unteers, to proceed with a detachment of two companies of his 
regiment and two companies of the Thirteenth Yirginia Volun- 
teers to the position where the enemy were reported to be 

Colonel Vaughn reports that on June 18, 1861, at 8 p. m., he 
moved with his command as ordered, marched eighteen miles, 
and, at 5 a. m. the next morning, found the enemy on the north 
bank of the Potomac in some strength of infantry and with 
two pieces of artillery. He had no picket-guards. 

After reconnaissance, the order to charge was given. It was 
necessary, in the execution of the order, to ford the river waist- 
deep, which Colonel Vaughn reports " was gallantly executed in 
good order but with great enthusiasm. As we appeared in sight 
at a distance of four hundred yards, the enemy broke and fled 
in all directions, firing as they ran only a few random shots. 
. . . The enemy did not wait to fire their artillery, which we 
captured, both guns loaded ; they were, however, spiked by the 
enemy before he fled. From the best information, their num- 
ber was between two and three hundred." 

Colonel Vaughn further states that, in pursuance of orders, 
he fired the bridge and then retired, bringing away the two 
guns and the enemy's flag, and other articles of little value 
which had been captured, and arrived at brigade headquarters 


in the evening, with his command in high spirits and good 

Colonel A. P. Hill, the energetic brigade commander who 
directed this expedition, left the United States Army when the 
State, which had given him to the military service of the Gen- 
eral Government, passed her ordinance of secession. The vig- 
ilance and enterprise he manifested on this early occasion in the 
war of the States gave promise of the brilliant career which 
gained for him the high rank of a lieutenant-general, and which 
there was nothing for his friends to regret save the honorable 
death which he met npon the field of battle. 

Colonel Vaughn, the commander of the detachment, was 
new to war. His paths had been those of peace, and his home 
in the mountains of East Tennessee might reasonably have se- 
cured him from any expectation that it would ever be the the- 
atre on which armies were to contend, and that he, in the muta- 
tion of human affairs, would become a soldier. He lived until 
the close of the war, and, on larger fields than that on which he 
first appeared, proved that, though not educated for a soldier, 
he had endowments which compensated for that disadvantage. 

The activity and vigilance of Stuart, afterward so distin- 
guished as commander of cavalry in the Army of Virginia, and 
the skill and daring of Jackson, soon by greater deeds to become 
immortal, checked, punished, and embarrassed the enemy in his 
threatened advances, and his movements became so devoid of a 
definite purpose that one was at a loss to divine the object of 
his campaign, unless it was to detain General Johnston with 
his forces in the Valley of the Shenandoah, while General 
McDowell, profiting by the feint, should make the real attack 
upon General Beauregard's army at Manassas. However that 
may be, the evidence finally became conclusive that the enemy 
under General McDowell was moving to attack the army under 
General Beauregard. The contingency had therefore arisen for 
that junction which was necessary to enable us to resist the vastly 
superior numbers of our assailant ; for, though the most strenuous 
and not wholly unsuccessful exertions had been made to reen- 
f orce both the Armies of the Shenandoah and of the Potomac, they 
yet remained far smaller than those of the enemy confronting 


them, and made a junction of our forces indispensable when- 
ever the real point of attack should be ascertained. For this 
movement we had the advantage of an interior line, so that, if 
the enemy should discover it after it commenced, he could not 
counteract it by adopting the same tactics. The success of this 
policy, it will readily be perceived, depended upon the time of 
execution, for, though from different causes, failure would equally 
result if done too soon or too late. The determination as to 
which army should be reenforced from the other, and the exact 
time of the transfer, must have been a difficult problem, as 
both the generals appear to have been unable to solve it (each 
asking reinforcements from the other). 

On the 9th of July General Johnston wrote an official letter, 
from which I make the following extracts : 

" Headquarters, Winchester, July 9, 1861. 
" General : . . . Similar information from other sources 
gives me the impression that the reinforcements arriving at Mar- 
tinsburg amount to seven or eight thousand. I have estimated 
the enemy's force hitherto, you may remember, at eighteen thou- 
sand. Additional artillery has also been received. They were 
greatly superior to us in that arm before. 

" The object of reenforcing General Patterson must be an ad- 
vance upon this place. Fighting here against great odds seems 
to me more prudent than retreat. 

" I have not asked for reinforcements, because I supposed that 
the War Department, informed of the state of affairs everywhere, 
could best judge where the troops at its disposal are most re- 
quired. . . . 

" Most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"Joseph E. Johnston, 

" Brigadier- General, etc. " 

" If it is proposed to strengthen us against the attack I sug- 
gest as soon to be made, it seems to me that General Beauregard 
might with great expedition furnish five or six thousand men for 
a few days. J. E. J." 

As soon as I became satisfied that Manassas was the objective 
point of the enemy's movement, I wrote to General Johnston, 


urging him to make preparations for a junction with General 
Beauregard, and to his objections, and the difficulties he pre- 
sented, replied at great length, endeavoring to convince him 
that the troops he described as embarrassing a hasty march 
might be withdrawn in advance of the more effective portion of 
his command. Writing with entire confidence, I kept no cojDy 
of my letters, and, when subsequent events caused the wish to 
refer to them, I requested General Johnston to send me copies 
of them. He replied that his tent had been blown down, and 
his papers had been scattered. His letters to me, which would 
show the general purport of mine to him, have shared the fate 
which during or soon after the close of the war befell most of 
the correspondence I had preserved, and his retained copies, if 
still in his possession, do not appear to have been deemed of suffi- 
cient importance to be inserted in his published " Narrative." 

On the 17th of July, 1861, the following telegram was sent 
by the Adjutant-General : 

" Richmond, July 17, 1861. 
" To General J. E. Johnston., Winchester, Virginia. 

" General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a de- 
cisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. 
If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and bag- 
gage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warren- 
ton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion. 

"$. Coopee, 
"Adjutant and Inspector- General." 

The confidence reposed in General Johnston, sufficiently 
evinced by the important command intrusted to him, was more 
than equal to the expectation that he would do all that was 
practicable to execute the order for a junction, as well as to 
secure his sick and baggage. For the execution of the one great 
purpose, that he would allow no minor question to interfere 
with that which was of vital importance, and for which he was 
informed all his " effective force " would " be needed." 

The order referred to was the telegram inserted above, in 
which the sending the sick to Culpepper Court-House might 
have been after or before the effective force had moved to the 
execution of the main and only positive part of the order. 


All the arrangements were left to the discretion of the Gen- 
eral. It seems strange that any one has construed this expression 
as meaning that the movement for a junction was left to the 
discretion of that officer, and that the forming of a junction — ■ 
the imperious necessity — should have been termed in the order 
" all the arrangement," instead of referring that word to its 
proper connection, the route and mode of transportation. The 
General had no margin on which to institute a comparison as to 
the importance of his remaining in the Yalley, according to his 
previous assignment, or going where he was ordered by compe- 
tent authority. 

It gives me pleasure to state that, from all the accounts re- 
ceived at the time, the plans of General Johnston, for masking 
his withdrawal to form a junction with General Beauregard, 
were conducted with marked skill, and, though all of his troops 
did not arrive as soon as expected and needed, he has satisfac- 
torily shown that the failure was not due to any defect in his 
arrangements for their transportation. 

The great question of uniting the two armies had been 
decided at Richmond. The time and place depended on the 
enemy, and, when it was seen that the real attack was to be 
against the position at Manassas, the order was sent to General 
Johnston to move to that point. His letters of the 12th and 15th 
instant expressed his doubts about his power to retire from be- 
fore the superior force of General Patterson, therefore the word 
" practicable " was in this connection the equivalent of possible. 
That it was, at the time, so understood by General Johnston, is 
shown by his reply to the telegram. 

" Headquarters, Winchester, July 18, 1861. 

" General : I have had the honor to receive your telegram of 

" General Patterson, who had been at Bunker Hill since Mon- 
day, seems to have moved yesterday to Charlestown, twenty- three 
miles to the east of Winchester. 

"Unless he prevents it, we shall move toward General Beaure- 
gard to-day. . . . 

"Joseph E. Johnston. 

" General S. Cooper." 


After General Johnston commenced his march to Manassas, 
he sent to me a telegram, the substance of which, as my mem- 
ory serves and the reply indicates, was an inquiry as to the rel- 
ative position he would occupy toward General Beauregard. I 
returned the following answer : 

" Richmond, July 20, 1861. 
"General J. E. Johnston, Manassas Junction, Virginia. 
" You are a general in the Confederate Army, possessed of the 
power attaching to that rank. You will know how to make the 
exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the 
ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of 
the object in which you cooperate. The zeal of both assures me 
of harmonious action. 

" Jefferson Davis." 

General Johnston, by his promotion to the grade of general, 
as well as his superior rank as a brigadier over Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Beauregard, gave him precedence ; so there was no need 
to ask which of the two would command the whole, when their 
troops should join and do duty together. Therefore his inquiry, 
as it was revolved in my mind, created an anxiety, not felt be- 
fore, lest there should be some unfortunate complication, or mis- 
understanding, between these officers, when their forces should 
be united. Regarding the combat of the 18th of July as the 
precursor of a battle, I decided, at the earliest moment, to go 
in person to the army. 

As has been heretofore stated, Congress was to assemble 
on the 20th of July, to hold its first session at the new capital, 
Richmond, Yirginia. My presence on that occasion and the de- 
livery of a message were required by usage and law. After the 
delivery of the message to Congress on Saturday, the 20th of 
July, I intended to leave in the afternoon for Manassas, but was 
detained until the next morning, when I left by rail, accom- 
panied by my aide-de-camp, Colonel J. R. Davis, to confer with 
the generals on the field. As we approached Manassas Railroad 
junction, a cloud of dust was visible a short distance to the west 
of the railroad. It resembled one raised by a body of marching 
troops, and recalled to my remembrance the design of General 



Beauregard to make the Rappahannock his second line of de- 
fense. It was, however, subsequently learned that the dust was 
raised by a number of wagons which had been sent to the rear 
for greater security against the contingencies of the battle. The 
sound of the firing had now become very distinct, so much so as 
to leave no doubt that a general engagement had commenced. 
Though that event had been anticipated as being near at hand 
after the action of the 18th, it was both hoped and desired that 
it would not occur quite so soon, the more so as it was not known 
whether the troops from the Valley had yet arrived. 

On reaching the railroad junction, I found a large number 
of men, bearing the usual evidence of those who leave the field 
of battle under a panic. They crowded around the train with 
fearful stories of a defeat of our army. The railroad conductor 
announced his decision that the railroad train should proceed no 
farther. Looking among those who were about us for one 
whose demeanor gave reason to expect from him a collected 
answer, I selected one whose gray beard and calm face gave 
best assurance. He, however, could furnish no encouragement. 
Our line, he said, was broken, all was confusion, the army routed, 
and the battle lost. I asked for Generals Johnston and Beaure- 
gard ; he said they were on the field when he left it. I returned 
to the conductor and told him that I must go on ; that the rail- 
road was the only means by which I could proceed, and that, 
until I reached the headquarters, I could not get a horse to ride 
to the field where the battle was raging. He finally consented 
to detach the locomotive from the train, and, for my accommo- 
dation, to run it as far as the army headquarters. In this manner 
Colonel Davis, aide-de-camp, and myself proceeded. 

At the headquarters we found the Quartermaster-General, 
W. L. Cabell, and the Adjutant-General, Jordan, of General 
Beauregard's staff, who courteously agreed to furnish us horses, 
and also to show us the route. "While the horses were being 
prepared, Colonel Jordan took occasion to advise my aide- 
de-camp, Colonel Davis, of the hazard of going to the field, 
and the impropriety of such exposure on my part. The horses 
were after a time reported ready, and we started to the field. 
The stragglers soon became numerous, and warnings as to the 


fate which awaited us if we advanced were not only frequent 
but evidently sincere. 

There were, however, many who turned back, and the 
wounded generally cheered upon meeting us. I well remem- 
ber one, a mere stripling, who, supported on the shoulders of a 
man, who was bearing him to the rear, took off his cap and 
waved it with a cheer, that showed within that slender form 
beat the heart of a hero — breathed a spirit that would dare the 
labors of Hercules. 

As we advanced, the storm of the battle was rolling west- 
ward, and its fury became more faint. When I met General 
Johnston, who was upon a hill which commanded a general 
view of the field of the afternoon's operations, and inquired of 
him as to the state of affairs, he replied that we had won the 
battle. I left him there and rode still farther to the west. 
Several of the volunteers on General Beauregard's staff joined 
me, and a command of cavalry, the gallant leader of which, Cap- 
tain John F. Lay, insisted that I was too near the enemy to be 
without an escort. We, however, only saw one column near to 
us that created a doubt as to which side it belonged ; and, as we 
were riding toward it, it was suggested that we should halt until 
it could be examined with a field-glass. Colonel Chesnut dis- 
mounted so as the better to use his glass, and at that moment 
the column formed into line, by which the wind struck the flag 
so as to extend it, and it was plainly revealed to be that of the 
United States. 

Our cavalry, though there was present but the squadron 
previously mentioned, and from a statement of the commander 
of which I will make some extracts, dashed boldly forward to 
charge. The demonstration was followed by the immediate re- 
treat of what was, I believe, the last, thereabout, of the enemy's 
forces maintaining their organization, and showing a disposition 
to dispute the possession of the field of battle. In riding over the 
ground, it seemed quite possible to mark the line of a fugitive's 
flight. Here was a musket, there a cartridge-box, there a blanket 
or overcoat, a haversack, etc., as if the runner had stripped him- 
self, as he went, of all impediments to speed. 

As we approached toward the left of our line, the signs of 

1861] OFF FOR WASHINGTON. • 351 

an utter rout of the enemy were unmistakable, and justified the 
conclusion that the watchword of " On to Richmond ! " had been 
changed to " Off for Washington ! " 

On the extreme left of our field of operations. I found the 
troops whose opportune arrival had averted impending disaster, 
and had so materially contributed to our victory. Some of them 
had, after arriving at the Mannassas Railroad junction, hastened 
to our left ; their brigadier-general, E. K. Smith, was wounded 
soon after getting into action, and the command of the brigade 
devolved upon Elzy, by whom it was gallantly and skillfully led 
to the close of the battle ; others, under the command of Gen- 
eral (then Colonel) Early, made a rapid march, under the pressing 
necessity, from the extreme right of our line to and beyond our 
left, so as to attack the enemy in flank, thus inflicting on him 
the discomfiture his oblique movement was designed to inflict 
on us. All these troops and the others near to them had hast- 
ened into action without supplies or camp-equipage ; weary, hun- 
gry, and without shelter, night closed around them where they 
stood, the blood-stained victors on a hard-fought field. 

It was reported to me that some of the troops had been so 
long without food as to be suffering severe hunger, and. that no 
supplies could be got where they were. I made several addresses 
to them, all to the effect that their position was that best adapted 
to a pursuit of the enemy, and that they should therefore re- 
main there ; adding that I would go to the headquarters and 
direct that supplies should be sent to them promptly. 

General (then Colonel) Early, commanding a brigade, in- 
formed me of some wounded who required attention ; one, Colo- 
nel Gardner, was, he said, at a house not far from where we 
were. I rode to see him, found him in severe pain, and from 
the twitching, visible and frequent, seemed to be threatened 
with tetanus. A man sat beside him whose uniform was that 
of the enemy ; but he was gentle, and appeared to be solicitously 
attentive. He said that he had no morphine, and did not know 
where to get any. I found in a short time a surgeon who went 
with me to Colonel Gardner, having the articles necessary in 
the case. Before leaving Colonel Gardner, he told me that the 
man who was attending to him might, without hindrance, have 


retreated with his comrades, but had kindly remained with him, 
and he therefore asked my protection for the man. I took the 
name and the State of the supposed good Samaritan, and at army 
headquarters directed that he should not be treated as a pris- 
oner. The sequel will be told hereafter. 

It was then late, and we rode back in the night, say seven 
miles, to the army headquarters. I had not seen General Beaure- 
gard on the field, and did not find him at his quarters when we 
returned ; the promise made to the troops was therefore com- 
municated to a staff-officer, who said he would have the sup- 
plies sent out. At a later hour when I met General Beaure- 
gard and informed him of what had occurred, he stated that, 
because of a false alarm which had reached him, he had ordered 
the troops referred to from the left to the right of our line, so as 
to be in position to repel the reported movement of the enemy 
against that flank. That such an alarm should have been cred- 
ited, and a night march ordered on account of it, shows how 
little the completeness of the victory was realized. 


Conference with the Generals after the Battle. — Order to pursue the Enemy. — 
Evidences of a Thorough Rout. — "Sweet to die for such a Cause." — Move- 
ments of the Next Day. — What more it was practicable to do. — Charge against 
the President of preventing the Capture of Washington. — The Failure to pur- 
sue. — Reflection on the President. — General Beauregard's Report. — Endorse- 
ment upon it. — Strength of the Opposing Forces. — Extracts relating to the 
Battle, from the Narrative of General Early. — Resolutions of Congress. — Efforts 
to increase the Efficiency of the Army. 

At a late hour of the night, I had a conference with Gen- 
erals Johnston and Beauregard ; the Adjutant-General of the 
latter, Colonel Jordan, was present, and sat opposite to me at the 

When, after some preliminary conversation, I asked whether 
any troops had been sent in pursuit of the enemy, I was an- 
swered in the negative. Upon further inquiry as to what troops 
were in the best position for pursuit, and had been least fatigued 


during the day, General Bonham's brigade was named. I then 
suggested that he should be ordered in pursuit ; a pause ensued, 
until Colonel Jordan asked me if I would dictate the order. I 
at once dictated an order for immediate pursuit. Some conver- 
sation followed, the result of which was a modification of the 
order by myself, so that, instead of immediate pursuit, it should 
be commenced at early dawn. Colonel Jordan spoke across the 
table to me, saying, " If you will send the order as you first dic- 
tated it, the enemy won't stop till he gets into the Potomac." 
I believe I remember the words very nearly, and am quite sure 
that I do remember them substantially. On the 25th of March, 
1878, I wrote to General Beauregard as follows : 

" Dear Sir : Permit me to ask you to recall the conference 
held between General Johnston, yourself, and myself, on the night 
after the close of the battle of Manassas ; and to give me, if you can, 
a copy of the order which I dictated, and which your adjutant-gen- 
eral, T. J. Jordan, wrote at my dictation, directing Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Bonham to follow the retreating enemy. If you can not fur- 
nish a copy of the order, please give me your recollection of its 


"Yours respectfully, 

" Jefferson Davis." 

To this letter General Beauregard courteously replied that 
his order-book was in New York, in the hands of a friend, to 
whom he would write for a copy of the order desired if it should 
be in said book, and that he would also write to his adjutant, 
General Jordan, for his recollection of the order if it had not 
been inscribed in the order-book. 

On the 24th of April General Beauregard forwarded to me 
the answer to his inquiries in my behalf, as follows : 

" New York, 63 Broadway, April 18, 1878. 
" My dear General : In answer to your note, I hasten to say 
that properly Mr. Davis is not to be held accountable for our fail- 
ure to pursue McDowell from the field of Manassas the night of 
the 21st of July, 1861. 

" As to the order, to which I presume Mr. Davis refers in his 
note to you, I recollect the incident very distinctly. 


" The night of the battle, as I was about to ascend to your 
quarters over my office, Captain E. P. Alexander, of your staff, 

informed me that Captain , attached to General Johnston's 

Army of the Shenandoah, reported that he had been as far forward 
as Centreville, where he had seen the Federal army completely 
routed and in full flight toward Washington. 

"This statement I at once repeated to Mr. Davis, General 
Johnston, and yourself, whom I found seated around your table — 
Mr. Davis at the moment writing a dispatch to General Cooper. 

" As soon as I had made my report, Mr. Davis with much ani- 
mation asserted the necessity for an urgent pursuit that night by 
Bonham, who, with his own brigade and that of Longstreet, was in 
close proximity to Centreville at the moment. So I took my seat at 
the same table with you, and wrote the order for pursuit, substan- 
tially at the dictation of Mr. Davis. But, while writing, either I 
happened to remember, or Captain Alexander himself — as I am in- 
clined to believe— called me aside to remind me that his inform- 
ant was known among us of the old army as , because 

of eccentricities, and in contradistinction with others of the same 
name. When I repeated this reminder, Mr. Davis recalled the 
sobriquet, as he had a precise personal knowledge of the officers of 
the old army. He laughed heartily, as did all present. 

" The question of throwing General Bonham forward that night, 
upon the unverified report of Captain , was now briefly dis- 
cussed, with a unanimous decision against it ; therefore, the order 
was not dispatched. 

" It is proper to add in this connection that, so far as I am 
aware — and I had the opportunity of knowing what occurred — 
this was the only instance during Mr. Davis's stay at Manassas in 
which he exercised any voice as to the movement of the troops. 
Profoundly pleased with the results achieved by the happy junc- 
ture of the two Confederate armies upon the very field of battle, 
his bearing toward the generals who commanded them was emi- 
nently proper, as I have testified on a former occasion ; and, I 
repeat, he certainly expressed or manifested no opposition to a for- 
ward movement, nor did he display the least disposition to inter- 
fere by opinion or authority touching what the Confederate forces 
should or should not do. 

" You having at the close of the day surrendered the command, 
which had been left in your hands, over both Confederate armies 


during the engagement, General Johnston was that night in chief 
command. He was decidedly averse to an immediate offensive, 
and emphatically discountenanced it as impracticable. 

" Very truly, your friend, 

" Thomas Jordan. 

" General P. G. T. Beauregard, New Orleans, Louisiana." 

General Beauregard, in his letter forwarding the above, 
wrote, " The account given herewith by General Jordan of what 
occurred there respecting further pursuit that night agrees with 
my own recollection." 

It was a matter of importance, as I regarded it, to follow 
closely on the retreating enemy, but it was of no consequence 
then or now as to who issued the order for pursuit, and, unless 
requested, I should not have dictated one, preferring that the 
generals to whom the operations were confided should issue 
all orders to the troops. I supposed the order, as modified by 
myself, had been sent. I have found, however, since the close 
of the war, that it was not, but that an order to the same effect 
was sent on the night of the 21st of July, for a copy of which I 
am indebted to the kindness of that chivalrous gentleman, sol- 
dier, and patriot, General Bonham. It is as follows : 

"Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 

" Manassas, July 21, 1861. 
''(Special Orders, No. 140.) 

" I. General Bonham will send, as early as practicable in the 
morning, a command of two of his regiments of infantry, a strong 
force of cavalry, and one field-battery, to scour the country and 
roads to his front, toward Centreville. He will carry with him 
abundant means of transportation for the collection of our wounded, 
all the arms, ammunition, and abandoned hospital stores, subsist- 
ence, and baggage, which will be sent immediately to these head- 

"General Bonham will advance with caution, throwing out an 
advanced guard and skirmishers on his right and left, and the ut- 
most caution must be taken to prevent firing into our own men. 

" Should it appear, while this command is occupied as directed, 
that it is insufficient for the purposes indicated, General Bonham 
will call on the nearest brigade commander for support. 


" II. Colonel P. St. George Cocke, commanding, will dispatch at 
the same time, for similar purposes, a command of the same size 
and proportions of infantry, artillery, and cavalry on the road via 
Stone Bridge ; and another command of two companies of infantry 
and one of cavalry on the road by which the enemy retreated to- 
ward and via Sudley's Mills. 

" By command of Brigadier-General Beauregard : 

" Thomas Jordan, A. A. Adjutant- General. 

" To Brigadier-General Bonham." 

Impressed with the belief that the enemy was very superior 
to us, both in numbers and appointments, I had felt apprehen- 
sive that, unless pressed, he would recover from the panic under 
which he fled from the field, rally on his reserves, and renew the 
contest. Therefore it was that I immediately felt the necessity 
for a pursuit of the fugitives, and insisted that the troops on the 
extreme left should retain their position during the night of the 
21st, as has been heretofore stated. In conference with the gen- 
erals that night, this subject was considered, and I dictated an 
order for a movement on the rear of the enemy at early dawn, 
which, on account of the late hour at which it was given, dif- 
fered very little from one for an immediate movement. A rain- 
fall, extraordinary for its violence and duration, occurred on the 
morning of the succeeding day, so that, over places where during 
the battle one could scarcely get a drink of water, rolled tor- 
rents which, in the afternoon of the 22d, it was difficult to cross. 

From these and other causes, the troops were scattered to 
such an extent that but few commands could have been assem- 
bled for immediate service. It was well for us that the enemy, 
instead of retiring in order, so as to be rallied and again brought 
to the attack, left hope behind, and fled in dismay to seek for 
safety beyond the Potomac. 

Each hour of the day following the battle added to the evi- 
dence of a thorough rout of the enemy. Abandoned wagons, 
stores, guns, caissons, small-arms, and ammunition, proved his 
complete demoralization. As far as our cavalry went, no hostile 
force was met, and all the indications favored the conclusion that 
the purpose of invasion had for the time been abandoned. 

The victory, though decisive and important, both in its moral 


and physical effect, had been dearly bought by the sacrifice of 
the lives of many of our bravest and best, who at the first call 
of their country had rushed to its defense. 

When riding to the front, I met an ambulance bearing Gen- 
eral Barnard Bee from the field, where he had been mortally 
wounded, after his patriotism had been illustrated by conspic- 
uous exhibitions of skill, daring, and fortitude. Soon after, I 
learned that my friend Colonel Bartow had heroically sealed 
with his life-blood his faith in the sanctity of our cause. He 
had been the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs in 
the Provisional Congress, and, after the laws were enacted to pro- 
vide for the public defense, he went to the field to maintain 
them. It is to such virtuous and devoted citizens that a country 
is indebted for its prosperity and honor, as well in peace as in 

Reference has been made to the dispersion of our troops 
after the battle, and in this connection the following facts are 
mentioned : In the afternoon of the 22d, with a guide, sup- 
posed to be cognizant of the positions at which the different 
commands would be found, I went to visit the wounded, and 
among them a youth of my family, who, it was reported to 
me, was rapidly sinking. After driving many miles, and wit- 
nessing very painful scenes, but seldom finding the troops in 
the position where my guide supposed them to be, and always 
disappointed in not discovering him I particularly sought, I 
was, at the approach of night, about to abandon the search, when, 
accidentally meeting an officer of the command to which the 
youth belonged, I was directed to the temporary hospital to 
which the wounded of that command had been removed. It 
was too late ; the soul of the young soldier had just left his body ; 
the corpse lay before me. Around him were many gentle boys, 
suffering in different degrees from the wounds they had re- 
ceived. One bright, refined-looking youth from South Caro- 
lina, severely if not fatally wounded, responded to my expres- 
sion of sympathy by the heroic declaration that it was " sweet 
to die for such a cause." 

Many kindred spirits ascended to the Father from that field 
of their glory. The roll need not be recorded here ; it has a 


more enduring depository than the pen can make — the tradi- 
tions of a grateful people. 

The victory at Manassas was certainly extraordinary, not 
only on account of the disparity of numbers and the inferiority 
of our arms, but also because of many other disadvantages under 
which we labored. We had no disciplined troops, and, though 
our citizens were generally skilled in the use of small-arms, 
which, with their high pride and courage, might compensate for 
the want of training while in position, these inadequately sub- 
stituted military instruction when manoeuvres had to be per- 
formed under fire, and could not make the old-fashioned mus- 
ket equal to the long-range, new-model muskets with which 
the enemy was supplied. The disparity in artillery was still 
greater, both in the number and kind of guns ; but, thanks to 
the skill and cool courage of the Rev. Captain W. ~N. Pendle- 
ton, his battery of light, smooth-bore guns, manned principally 
by the youths whose rector he had been, proved more effective 
in battle than the long-range rifle-guns of the enemy. The 
character of the ground brought the forces into close contact, 
and the ricochet of the round balls carried havoc into the col- 
umns of the enemy, while the bolts of their rifle-guns, if they 
missed their object, penetrated harmlessly into the ground. 

The field was very extensive, broken, and wooded. The 
senior general had so recently arrived that he had no opportu- 
nity minutely to learn the ground, and the troops he brought 
were both unacquainted with the field and with those with 
whom they had to cooperate. To all this must be added the 
disturbing fact that the plan of battle, as originally designed, 
was entirely changed by the movement of the enemy on our 
extreme left, instead of right and center, as anticipated. The 
operations, therefore, had to be conducted against the plan of 
the enemy, instead of on that which our generals had prepared 
and explained to their subordinate commanders. The prompti- 
tude with which the troops moved, and the readiness with which 
our generals modified their preconceived plans to meet the 
necessities as they were developed, entitled them to the com- 
mendation so liberally bestowed at the time by their countrymen 
at large. 


General Johnston had been previously promoted to the high- 
est grade in our army, and I deemed it but a fitting reward for 
the services rendered by General Beauregard that he should be 
promoted to the same grade ; therefore, I addressed to him the 
following letter : 

" Manassas, Virginia, July 21, 1861. 
"Sm: Appreciating your services in the battle of Manassas, 
and on several other occasions during the existing war, as afford- 
ing the highest evidence of your skill as a commander, your gal- 
lantry as a soldier, and your zeal as a patriot, you are promoted to 
be a general in the army of the Confederate States of America, 
and, with the consent of the Congress, will be duly commissioned 


" Yours, etc., 

"Jeefekson Davis. 
" General P. G. T. Beauregard, etc." 

The 22d, the day after the battle, was spent in following up 
the line of the retreating foe, and collecting the large supplies 
of arms, of ammunition, and other military stores. The sup- 
plies of the army were on a scale of such luxurious extravagance 
as to excite the surprise of those accustomed only to our rigid 
economy. The anticipation of an easy victory had caused many 
to come to the battle as to a joyous feast, and the signs left behind 
them of the extent to which they had been disappointed in the 
entertainment, constituted the staple of many laughable stories, 
which were not without their value because of the lesson they 
contained as to the uncertainties of war, and the mortification 
that usually follows vain boasting. Among the articles aban- 
doned by the enemy in his flight were some which excited a 
just indignation, and which indicated the shameless disregard 
of all the usages of honorable warfare. They were handcuffs, 
the fit appendage of a policeman, but not of a soldier who came 
to meet his foeman hilt to hilt. These were reported to have 
been found in large numbers ; some of them were sent to Rich- 

On the night of the 22d I held a second conference with 
Generals Johnston and Beauregard. All the revelations of the 
day were of the most satisfactory character as to the complete- 


ness of our victory. The large amount gained of fine artillery, 
small-arms, and ammunition, all of which were much needed 
by us, was not the least gratifying consequence of our success. 
The generals, like myself, were well content with what had 
been done. 

I propounded to them the inquiry as to what more it was 
practicable to do. They concurred as to their inability to cross 
the Potomac, and to the further inquiry as to an advance to the 
south side of the Potomac, General Beauregard promptly stated 
that there were strong fortifications there, occupied by garrisons, 
which had not been in the battle, and were therefore not affected 
by the panic which had seized the defeated army. He described 
those fortifications as having wide, deep ditches, with palisades, 
which would prevent the escalade of the works. Turning to Gen- 
eral Johnston, he said, " They have spared no expense." It was 
further stated in explanation that we had no sappers and miners, 
nor even the tools requisite to make regular approaches. If we 
had possessed both, the time required for sucb operations would 
have more than sufficed for General Patterson's army and other 
forces to have been brought to that locality in such numbers as 
must have rendered the attempt, with our present means, futile. 

This view of the matter rests on the supposition that the 
fortifications and garrisons described did actually exist, of which 
there seemed then to be no doubt. If the reports which have 
since reached us be true, that there were at that time neither 
fortifications nor troops stationed on the south bank of the Po- 
tomac ; that all the enemy's forces fled to the north side of the 
river, and even beyond ; that the panic of the routed army in- 
fected the whole population of Washington City ; and that no 
preparation was made, or even contemplated, for the destruc- 
tion of the bridge across the Potomac — then it may have been, 
as many have asserted, that our army, following close upon 
the flying enemy, could have entered and taken possession of 
the United States capital. These reports, however, present a 
condition of affairs altogether at variance with the information 
on which we had to act. Thus it was, and, so far as I knew, for 
the reasons above stated, that an advance to the south bank of 
the Potomac was not contemplated as the immediate sequence 


of the victory at Manassas. "What discoveries would have 
been made and what results would have ensued from the es- 
tablishment of our guns upon the south bank of the river, to 
open fire upon the capital, are speculative questions upon which 
it would be useless to enter. 

After the conference of the 22d, and because of it, I decided 
to return to Richmond and employ all the power of my office 
to increase the strength of the army, so as the better to enable 
it to meet the public need, whether in offensive-defensive or 
purely defensive operations, as opportunity should offer for the 
one, or the renewal of invasion require the other. 

A short time subsequent to my return, a message was brought 
to me from the prison, to the effect that a non-commissioned 
officer, captured at Manassas, claimed to have a promise of pro- 
tection from me. The name was given Hulburt, of Connecti- 
cut. I had forgotten the name he gave when I saw him ; but, 
believing that I would recognize the person who had attended 
to Colonel Gardner, and to whom only such a promise had been 
given, the officer in charge was directed to send him to me. 
When he came, I had no doubt of his identity, and explained to 
him that I had directed that he should not be treated as a pris- 
oner, but that, in the multitude of those wearing the same uni- 
form as his, some neglect or mistake had arisen, for which I 
was very sorry, and that he should be immediately released and 
sent down the river to the neighborhood of Fortress Monroe, 
where he would be among his own people. He then told me 
that he had a sister residing a few miles in the country, whom he 
would be very glad to visit. Permission was given him to do 
so, and a time fixed at which he was to report for transporta- 
tion ; and so he left, with manifestations of thankfulness for the 
kindness with which he had been treated. In due time a news- 
paper was received, containing an account of his escape, and 
how he had lingered about the suburbs of Richmond and made 
drawings of the surrounding fortifications. The treachery was 
as great as if his drawings had been valuable, which they could 
not have been, as we had only then commenced the detached 
works which were designed as a system of defenses for Rich- 


When the smoke of battle had lifted from the field of Ma- 
nassas, and the rejoicing over the victory had spread over the 
land and spent its exuberance, some, who, like Job's war-horse, 
" snuffed the battle from afar," but in whom the likeness there 
ceased, censoriously asked why the fruits of the victory had not 
been gathered by the capture of "Washington City. Then some 
indiscreet friends of the generals commanding in that battle, 
instead of the easier task of justification, chose the harder one 
of exculpation for the imputed failure. Their ill-advised zeal, 
combined perhaps with malice against me, induced the allega- 
tion that the President had prevented the generals from mak- 
ing an immediate and vigorous pursuit of the routed enemy. 

This, as other stories had been, was left to the correction 
which time it was hoped would bring, the sooner because it was 
expected to be refuted by the reports of the commanding gen- 
erals with whom I had conferred on that subject immediately 
after the battle. 

After considerable time had elapsed, it was reported to me 
that a member of Congress, who had served on that occasion as 
a volunteer aide to General Beauregard, had stated in the House 
of Representatives that I had prevented the pursuit of the 
enemy after his defeat at Manassas. 

This gave to the rumor such official character and dignity as 
seemed to me to entitle it to notice not theretofore given, where- 
fore I addressed to General Johnston the following inquiry, 
which, though restricted in its terms to the allegation, was of 
such tenor as left it to his option to state all the facts connected 
with the slander, if he should choose to do me that justice, or 
should see the public interest involved in the correction, which, 
as stated in my letter to him, was that which gave it in my esti- 
mation its claim to consideration, and had caused me to address 
him on the subject : 

" Richmond, Virginia, November 3, 1S61. 
"General J. E. Johnston", commanding Department of the Po- 
" Sir : Reports have been, and are being, widely circulated to 
the effect that I prevented General Beauregard from pursuing the 
enemy after the battle of Manassas, and had subsequently re- 


strained him from advancing upon Washington City. Though 
such statements may have been made merely for my injury, and 
in that view might be postponed to a more convenient season, they 
have acquired importance from the fact that they have served to 
create distrust, to excite disappointment, and must embarrass the 
Administration in its further efforts to reenforce the armies of the 
Potomac, and generally to provide for the public defense. For 
these public considerations, I call upon you, as the commanding 
general, and as a party to all the conferences held by me on the 
21st and 22d of July, to say whether I obstructed the pursuit of 
the enemy after the victory at Manassas, or have ever objected 
to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for 
the army to undertake. 

" Very respectfully, yours, etc., 

"Jefferson Davis." 

" Headquarters, Centreville, November 10, 1861. 
" To his Excellency the President. 

" Sir : I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 3d 
inst., in which you call upon me, ' as the commanding general, 
and as a party to all the conferences held by you on the 21st and 
22d of July, to say whether you obstructed the pursuit after the 
victory of Manassas, or have ever objected to an advance or other 
active operation which it was feasible for the army to under- 
take ? ' 

" To the first question I reply, No. The pursuit was l obstruct- 
ed ' by the enemy's troops at Centreville, as I have stated in my 
official report. In that report I have also said why no advance 
was made upon the enemy's capital (for reasons) as follows : 

" The apparent freshness of the United States troops at Centre- 
ville, which checked our pursuit ; the strong forces occupying the 
works near Georgetown, Arlington, and Alexandria ; the certain- 
ty, too, that General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washing- 
ton with his army of more than thirty thousand sooner than we 
could ; and the condition and inadequate means of the army in 
ammunition, provisions, and transportation, prevented any serious 
thoughts of advancing against the capital. 

" To the second question I reply that it has never been feasible 
for the army to advance farther than it has done — to the line of 
Fairfax Court-House, with its advanced posts at Upton's, Mun- 


son's, and Mason's Hills. After a conference at Fairfax Court- 
House with the three senior general officers, you announced it to 
be impracticable to give this army the strength which those officers 
considered necessary to enable it to assume the offensive. Upon 
which I drew it back to its present position. 

" Most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" J. E. Johnston." 


This answer to my inquiry was conclusive as to the charge 
which had been industriously circulated that I had prevented 
the immediate pursuit of the enemy, and had obstructed active 
operations after the battle of Manassas, and thus had caused the 
failure to reap the proper fruits of the victory. 

No specific inquiry was made by me as to the part I took in 
the conferences of the 21st and 22d of July, but a general ref- 
erence was made to them. The entire silence of General John- 
ston in regard to those conferences is noticeable from the fact 
that, while his answer was strictly measured by the terms of my 
inquiry as to pursuit, he added a statement about a conference at 
Fairfax Court-House, which occurred in the autumn, say October, 
and could have had no relation to the question of pursuit of the 
enemy after the victory of Manassas, or other active operations 
therewith connected. The reasons stated in my letter for mak- 
ing an inquiry, naturally pointed to the conferences of the 21st 
and 22d of July, but surely not to a conference held months 
subsequent to the battle, and on a question quite different from 
that of hot pursuit. In regard to the matter of this subsequent 
conference I shall have more to say hereafter. 

I left the field of Manassas, proud of the heroism of our 
troops in battle, and of the conduct of the officers who led them. 
Anxious to recognize the claim of the army on the gratitude of 
the country, it was my pleasing duty to bear testimony to their 
merit in every available form. Those who left the field and did 
not return to share its glory, it was wished, should only be re- 
membered as exceptions proving a rule. 

With all the information possessed at the time by the com- 
manding generals, the propriety of maintaining our position, 
while seeking objects more easily attained than the capture of 


the United States capital, seemed to me so demonstrable as to 
require no other justification than the statements to which I 
have referred in connection with the conference of the 22d of 
July. It would have seemed to me then, as it does now, to be 
less than was due to the energy and fortitude of our troops, to 
plead a want of transportation and supplies for a march of about 
twenty miles through a country which had not then been de- 
nuded by the ravages of war. 

Under these impressions, and with such feelings, I wrote to 
General Beauregard as follows : 

" Richmond, Virginia, August 4, 1861. 
" General Beauregard, Manassas, Virginia. 

" My dear Sir : . . . I think you are unjust to yourself in 
putting your failure to pursue the enemy to Washington to the 
account of short supplies of subsistence and transportation. Under 
the circumstances of our army, and in the absence of the knowledge 
since acquired, if indeed the statements be true, it would have 
been extremely hazardous to have done more than was performed. 
You will not fail to remember that, so far from knowing that the 
enemy was routed, a large part of our forces was moved by you, 
in the night of the 21st, to repel a supposed attack upon our right, 
and that the next day's operations did not fully reveal what has 
since been reported of the enemy's panic. Enough was done for 
glory, and the measure of duty was full ; let us rather show the 
untaught that their desires are unreasonable, than, by dwelling on 
possibilities recently developed, give form and substance to the 
criticisms always easy to those who judge after the event. 
" With sincere esteem, I am your friend, 

"Jefferson Davis." 

I had declared myself content and gratified with the con- 
duct of the troops and the officers, and supposed the generals, 
in recognition of my efforts to aid them by increasing their 
force and munitions, as well as by my abstinence from all inter- 
ference with them upon the field, would have neither cause nor 
motive to reflect upon me in their reports, and it was with equal 
surprise and regret that in this I found myself mistaken. Gen- 
eral Johnston, in his report, represented the order to him to 
make a junction with General Beauregard as a movement left 


to bis discretion, with the condition that, if made, he should first 
send his sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House. I felt 
constrained to put upon his report when it was received the 
following endorsement : 

" The telegram referred to by General Johnston in this report 
as received by him about one o'clock on the morning of the 18th 
of July is inaccurately reported. The following is a copy : 

" * Richmond, July 17, 1861. 
" ' General J. E. Johnston", Winchester, Virginia. 

" * General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a de- 
cisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. 
If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and bag- 
gage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warren- 
ton. In all the arrangements, exercise your discretion. 

" ' S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector- General.'' 

"The word * after' is not found in the dispatch before the 
words * sending your sick,' as is stated in the report ; so that the 
argument based on it requires no comment. The order to move * if 
practicable ' had reference to General Johnston's letters of the 12th 
and 15th of July, representing the relative strength and positions 
of the enemy under Patterson and of his own forces to be such 
as to make it doubtful whether General Johnston had the power 
to effect the movement." 

"Upon the receipt of General Beauregard's report of the bat- 
tle of Manassas, I found that it contained matter wmich seemed 
to me out of place, and therefore addressed to him the following 
letter : 

" Richmond, Virginia, October 30, 1861. 
" General Beauregard, Manassas, Virginia. 

"Sir: Yesterday my attention was called to various news- 
paper publications purporting to have been sent from Manassas, 
and to be a synopsis of your report of the battle of the 21st of July 
last, and in which it is represented that you have been overruled by 
me in your plan for a battle with the enemy south of the Poto- 
mac, for the capture of Baltimore and Washington, and the libera- 
tion of Maryland. 


" I inquired for your long-expected report, and it has been to- 
day submitted to my inspection. It appears, by official endorse- 
ment, to have been received by the Adjutant-General on the 18th of 
October, though it is dated August 26, 1861. 

" With much surprise I found that the newspaper statements 
were sustained by the text of your report. I was surprised, be- 
cause, if we did differ in opinion as to the measure and purposes of 
contemplated campaigns, such fact could have no appropriate place 
in the report of a battle ; further, because it seemed to be an at- 
tempt to exalt yourself at my expense ; and, especially, because no 
such plan as that described was submitted to me. It is true that, 
some time before it was ordered, you expressed a desire for the 
junction of General Johnston's army with your own. The move- 
ment was postponed until the operations of the enemy rendered it 
necessary, and until it became thereby practicable to make it with 
safety to the Valley of Yirginia. Hence, I believe, was secured 
the success by which it was attended. 

" If you have retained a copy of the plan of campaign which 
you say was submitted to me through Colonel Chesnut, allow me 
to request that you will furnish me with a duplicate of it. 

"Very respectfully yours, etc., 

" Jefferson Davis." 

As General Beauregard did not think proper to omit that 
portion of his report to which objection was made, it necessi- 
tated, when the entire report was transmitted to Congress, the 
placing of an endorsement upon it, reviewing that part of the 
report which I considered objectionable. The Congress, in its 
discretion, ordered the publication of the report, except that 
part to whicb the endorsement referred, thereby judiciously 
suppressing both the endorsement and the portion of the re- 
port to which it related. In this case, and every other official 
report ever submitted to me, I made neither alteration nor 

That portion of the report which was suppressed by the Con- 
gress has, since the war, found its way into the press, but the 
endorsement which belonged to it has not been published. As 
part of the history of the time, I will here present both in their 
proper connection : 


" General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector - General, Rich- 
mond, Virginia. 

" Before entering upon a narration of the general military op- 
erations in the presence of the enemy on July 21st, I propose — I 
hope not unreasonably — first to recite certain events which belong 
to the strategy of the campaign, and consequently form an essen- 
tial part of the history of the battle. 

" Having become satisfied that the advance of the enemy with 
a decidedly superior force, both as to numbers and war equipage, 
to attack or turn my position in this quarter was immediately im- 
pending, I dispatched, on July 13th, one of my staff, Colonel James 
Chesnut, of South Carolina, to submit for the consideration of the 
President a plan of operations substantially as follows : 

" I proposed that General Johnston should unite, as soon as 
possible, the bulk of the Army of the Shenandoah with that of the 
Potomac, then under my command, leaving only sufficient force 
to garrison his strong works at Winchester, and to guard the five 
defensive passes of the Blue Ridge, and thus hold Patterson in 
check. At the same time Brigadier-General Holmes was to march 
hither with all of his command not essential for the defense of the 
position of Acquia Creek. These junctions having been effected 
at Manassas, an immediate, impetuous attack of our combined 
armies upon General McDowell was to follow, as soon as he ap- 
proached my advanced position, at and around Fairfax Court- 
House, with the inevitable result, as I submitted, of his complete 
defeat, and the destruction or capture of his army. This accom- 
plished, the Army of the Shenandoah, under General Johnston, in- 
creased with a part of my forces and rejoined as he returned by 
the detachment left to hold the mountain-passes, was to march 
back rapidly into the Valley, fall upon and crush Patterson with a 
superior force, wheresoever he might be found. This, I confidently 
estimated, could be achieved within fifteen days after General 
Johnston should march from Winchester for Manassas. 

"Meanwhile, I was to occupy the enemy's works on this side 
of the Potomac, if, as I anticipated, he had been so routed as to 
enable me to enter them with him or, if not, to retire again for a 
time within the lines of Bull Run with my main force. Patterson 
having been virtually destroyed, then General Johnston would 
reenforce General Garnett sufficiently to make him superior to 
his opponent (General McClellan) and able to defeat that officer. 


This done, General Garnett was to form an immediate junction 
with General Johnston, who was forthwith to cross the Potomac 
into Maryland with his whole force, arouse the people as he ad- 
vanced to the recovery of their political rights, and the defense of 
their homes and families from an offensive invader, and then 
march to the investment of Washington, in the rear, while I re- 
sumed the offensive in front. This plan of operations, you are 
aware, was not acceptable at the time, from considerations which 
appeared so weighty as to more than counterbalance its proposed 
advantages. Informed of these views, and of the decision of the 
War Department, I then made my preparations for the stoutest 
practicable defense of the line of Bull Run, the enemy having de- 
veloped his purpose, by the advance on and occupation of Fairfax 
Court-House, from which my advance brigade had been withdrawn. 
" The War Department having been informed by me, by tele- 
graph on July 17th, of the movement of General McDowell, Gen- 
eral Johnston was immediately ordered to form a junction of his 
army corps with mine, should the movement in his judgment be 
deemed advisable. General Holmes was also directed to push for- 
ward with two regiments, a battery,, and one company of cav- 
alry." * 


" The order issued by the War Department to General John- 
ston was not, as herein reported, to form a junction, c should the 
movement in his judgment be deemed advisable.' The following 
is an accurate copy of the order : 

" ' General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a de- 
cisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. 
If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and bag- 
gage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warren- 
ton. In all the arrangements, exercise your discretion.' 

" The words ' if practicable ' had reference to letters of General 
Johnston of the 12th and 15th of July, which made it extremely 
doubtful if he had the power to make the movement, in view of 
the relative strength and position of Patterson's forces as com- 
pared with his own. 

" The plan of campaign reported to have been submitted, but 

* The foregoing was copied from " The Land we Love," for February, 1867 (vol. 
ii, No. 4). 



not accepted, and to have led to a decision of the War Depart- 
ment, can not be found among its files, nor any reference to any 
decision made upon it ; and it was not known that the army had 
advanced beyond the line of Bull Run, the position previously se- 
lected by General Lee, and which was supposed to have continued 
to be the defensive line occupied by the main body of our forces. 
Inquiry has developed the fact that a message, to be verbally 
delivered, was sent by Hon. Mr. Chesnut. If the conjectures 
recited in the report were entertained, they rested on the accom- 
plishment of one great condition, namely, that a junction of the 
forces of Generals Johnston and Holmes should be made with the 
army of General Beauregard and should gain a victory. The junc- 
tion was made, the victory was won ; but the consequences that 
were predicted did not result. The reasons why no such conse- 
quences could result are given in the closing passages of the re- 
ports of both the commanding generals, and the responsibility can 
not be transferred to the Government at Richmond, which certainly 
would have united in any feasible plan to accomplish such desir- 
able results. 

" If the plan of campaign mentioned in the report had been 
presented in a written communication, and in sufficient detail to 
permit proper investigation, it must have been pronounced to be 
impossible at that time, and its proposal could only have been ac- 
counted for by the want of information of the forces and positions 
of the armies in the field. The facts that rendered it impossible 
are the following : 

" 1. It was based, as related from memory by Colonel Ches- 
nut, on the supposition of drawing a force of about twenty-five 
thousand men from the command of General Johnston. The let- 
ters of General Johnston show his effective force to have been only 
eleven thousand, with an enemy thirty thousand strong in his 
front, ready to take possession of the Valley of Virginia on his 

"2. It proposed to continue operations by effecting a junction 
of a part of the victorious forces with the army of General Gar- 
nett in Western Virginia. General Garnett's forces amounted 
only to three or four thousand men, then known to be in rapid re- 
treat before vastly superior forces under McClellan, and the news 
that he was himself killed and his army scattered arrived within 
forty-eight hours of Colonel Chesnut's arrival in Richmond. 


" 3. The plan was based on the improbable and inadmissible 
supposition that the enemy was to await everywhere, isolated and 
motionless, until our forces could effect junctions to attack them 
in detail. 

" 4. It could not be expected that any success obtainable on 
the battle-field would enable our forces to carry the fortifications 
on the Potomac, garrisoned, and within supporting distance of 
fresh troops ; nor after the actual battle and victory did the gen- 
erals on the field propose an advance on the capital, nor does it 
appear that they have since believed themselves in a condition to 
attempt such a movement. 

" It is proper also to observe that there is no communication on 
file in the War Department, as recited at the close of the report, 
showing what were the causes which prevented the advance of our 
forces and prolonged, vigorous pursuit of the enemy to and be- 
yond the Potomac. 

"Jeffekson Davis." 

It has not been my purpose to describe the battles of the 
war. To the reports of the officers serving on the field, in the 
armies of both Governments, the student of history must turn 
for knowledge of the details, and it will be the task of the 
future historian, from comparison of the whole, to deduce the 

It is fortunate for the cause of justice that error and mis- 
representation have, in their inconsistencies and improbabilities, 
the elements of self-destruction, while truth is in its nature 
consistent and therefore self-sustaining. To such general re- 
marks in regard to campaigns, sieges, and battles as may seem 
to me appropriate to the scope and object of my work, I shall 
append or insert, from time to time, the evidence of reliable 
actors in those affairs, as well to elucidate obscurity as to correct 

From the official reports it appears that the strength of the 
two armies was : Confederate, 30,167 men of all arms, with 29 
guns ; * Federal, 35,732 men,f with a body of cavalry, of which 
only one company is reported, and a large artillery force not 

* General Beauregard's report. 

f General McDowell's return, July 16, 17, 1861. 


shown in the tabular statement. Of these troops, some on both 
sides were not engaged in the battle. This, it is believed, was 
the case to a much larger extent on our side than on that of the 
enemy. He selected the point of attack, and could concentrate 
his troops for that purpose, but we were guarding a line of 
some seven miles front, and therefore widely dispersed. 

For the purpose above stated, extracts are herein inserted 
from a narrative in the " Operations on the Line of Bull Run in 
June and July, 1861, including the First Battle of Manassas." 
The name of the author, J. A. Early, will, to all who know 
him, be a sufficient guarantee for the accuracy of the state- 
ments, and for the justice of the conclusions announced. To 
those who do not know him, it may be proper to state that he 
was educated as a soldier ; after leaving the army became a law- 
yer, but, when his country was involved in war with Mexico, he 
volunteered and served in a regiment of his native State, Vir- 
ginia. After that war terminated, he returned to the practice 
of his profession, which he was actively pursuing when the con- 
troversy between the sections caused the call of a convention to 
decide whether Virginia should secede from the Union. He 
was sent, by the people of the county in which he resided, to rep- 
resent them in that convention. There he opposed to the last 
the adoption of the ordinance for secession ; but, when it was 
decided, against his opinion, to resort to the remedy of with- 
drawal from the Union, he, true to his allegiance to the State of 
which he was a citizen, paused not to cavil or protest, but at 
once stepped forth to defend her against a threatened invasion. 
The sword that had rusted in peace gleamed brightly in war. 
He rose to the high grade of lieutenant-general. None have a 
more stainless record as a soldier, none have shown a higher 
patriotism or purer fidelity through all the bitter trials to which 
we have been subjected since open war was ended and nominal 
peace began. 

Extracts from the narrative of General J. A. Early, of events 
occurring when he was colonel of the Twenty-fourth Regiment 
of Virginia Infantry and commanding a brigade : 

"On June 19, 1861, I arrived at Manassas Junction and re- 
ported to General P. G. T. Beauregard, the Twenty-fourth Virginia 


Regiment having been previously sent to Mm, under the command 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Hairsten, from Lynchburg, where I had 
been stationed under the orders of General Robert E, Lee, for the 
purpose of organizing the Virginia troops which were being mus- 
tered into service at that place. . . . 

" On the morning of July 18th, my brigade was moved, by 
order of General Beauregard, to the left of Camp Walker, on the 
railroad, and remained there some time. . . . 

" On falling back, General Ewell, in pursuance of his instruc- 
tions, had burned the bridges on the railroad over Pope's Run, 
from Fairfax Station to Union Mills, and while I was at Camp 
Walker I saw the smoke ascending from the railroad-bridge over 
Bull Run, which was burned that morning. 

"The burning of this bridge had not been included in the pre- 
vious instructions to Ewell, and I have always been at a loss to 
know why it was now fired. That bridge certainly was not neces- 
sary to the enemy for crossing Bull Run, either with his troops or 
wagons, as that stream was easily fordable at numerous places, 
both above and below. The bridge was, moreover, susceptible of 
easy defense, as there were deep cuts leading to it on both sides. 
The only possible purpose to be subserved by the burning of that 
bridge would have been the prevention for a short time of the 
running of trains over it by the enemy, in the event of our defeat, 
or evacuation of Manassas without a fight. As it was, we were 
afterward greatly inconvenienced by its destruction." . . . 

The attack made on the 18th is described as directed 
against our right center, and as having been met and repulsed 
in a manner quite creditable to our raw troops, of whom he 
writes : 

" On the 19th they were occupied in the effort to strengthen 
their position by throwing up the best defenses they could with 
the implements at hand, which consisted of a very few picks and 
spades, some rough bowie-knives, and the bayonets of the mus- 
kets. . . . The position was a very weak one, as the banks on the 
opposite side of Bull Run overlooked and commanded those on 
the south side, which were but a few feet above the water's edge, 
and there was an open field in rear of the strip of woods on our 
side of the stream, for a considerable distance up and down it, 
which exposed all of our movements on that side to observation 


from the opposite one, as the strip of woods afforded but a thin 
veil which could be seen through. . . . 

"About dusk on the 19th, brigade commanders were sum- 
moned to a conference at McLean's house by General Beauregard, 
and he then informed us of the fact that General Johnston had 
been ordered, at his instance, from the Valley, and was marching 
to cooperate with us. He stated that Johnston would march di- 
rectly across the Blue Ridge toward the enemy's right flank, and 
would probably attack on that flank at dawn the next morning. 
Before he had finished his statement of the plans he proposed pur- 
suing in the event of Johnston's attack on the enemy's right flank, 
a party of horsemen rode up in front of the house, and, dismount- 
ing, one of them walked in and reported himself as Brigadier- 
General T. J. Jackson, who had arrived with the advanced brigade 
of Johnston's troops by the way of Manassas Gap Railroad, and 
he stated that his brigade was about twenty-five hundred strong. 
This information took General Beauregard very much by surprise, 
and, after ascertaining that General Jackson had taken the cars at 
Piedmont Station, General Beauregard asked him if General John- 
ston would not march the rest of his command on the direct road, 
so as to get on the enemy's right flank. General Jackson replied 
with some little hesitation, and, as I thought at the time, in rather 
a stolid manner, that he thought not ; that he thought the pur- 
pose was to transport the whole force by railroad from Piedmont 
Station. This was the first time I ever saw General Jackson, and 
my first impressions of him were not very favorable from the man- 
ner in which he gave his information. I subsequently ascertained 
very well how it was that he seemed to know so little, in the pres- 
ence of the strangers among whom he found himself, of General 
Johnston's intended movements, and I presume nothing but the 
fact of General Beauregard being his superior in rank, and his be- 
ing ordered to report to him, could have elicited as much informa- 
tion from him, under the circumstances, as was obtained. After 
General Jackson had given the information above stated, and re- 
ceived instructions where to put his brigade, he retired, and Gen- 
eral Beauregard proceeded to develop fully his plans for the next 
day. The information received from General Jackson was wholly 
unexpected, but General Beauregard said he thought Jackson was 
not correctly informed, and was mistaken ; that he was satisfied 
General Johnston was marching with the rest of his troops and 


would attack the enemy's right flank early next day as he had be- 
fore stated. Upon this hypothesis, he directed that when General 
Johnston's attack began and he had become fully engaged, of 
which we were to judge from the character of the musketry-fire, 
we should cross Bull Run from our several positions, and move 
upon the enemy so as to attack him on his left flank and rear. He 
said that he had no doubt General Johnston's attack would be a 
complete surprise to the enemy ; that the latter would not know 
what to think of it ; that when he turned to meet that attack, and 
soon found himself assailed on the other side, he would be still 
more surprised and would not know what to do ; that the effect 
would become a complete rout — a perfect Waterloo ; and that, 
when the enemy took to flight, we would pursue, cross the Poto- 
mac, and arouse Maryland. . . . 

" During the 20th General Johnston arrived at Manassas 
Junction by the railroad, and that day we received the order from 
him assuming command of the combined armies of General Beau- 
regard and himself. 

"Early on the morning of the 21st (Sunday), we heard the en- 
emy's guns open from the heights north of Bull Run, from which 
they had opened on the 18th, and I soon received orders for the 
movement of my brigade. . . . 

" Upon arriving there (McLean's Ford), I found General Jones 
had returned to the intrenchments with his brigade, and I was 
informed by him that General Beauregard had directed that I 
should join him (General Beauregard) with my brigade. . . . He 
then asked me if I had received an order from General Beauregard 
to go to him, and, on my replying in the negative, he informed me 
that he had such an order for me in a note to him. He sent to 
one of his staff-officers for the note, and showed it to me. The 
note was one directing him to fall back behind Bull Run, and was 
in pencil. At the foot of it were these words : ' Send Early to 
me.' This was all the order that I received to move to the left, 
and it was shown to me a very little after twelve o'clock. . . . 
Chisholm, who carried the note to Jones, in which was contained 
the order I received, passed me at McLean's Ford going on to 
Jones about, or a little after, eleven o'clock. If I had not received 
the order until 2 p. m., it would have been impossible for me to 
get on the field at the time I reached it, about 3.30 p. m. Colonel 
Chisholm informed me that the order was for all the troops to 


fall back across Bull Run. ... I was met by Colonel John S. 
Preston, one of the General's aides, who informed me that Gen- 
eral Beauregard had gone where the fighting was, . . . but 
that General Johnston was just in front, and his directions were 
that we should proceed to the left, where there was a heavy fire 
of musketry. . . . When we reached General Johnston, he ex- 
pressed great gratification at our arrival, but it was very percep- 
tible that his anticipations were not sanguine. He gave me special 
instructions as to my movements, directing me to clear our lines 
completely before going to the front. ... In some fields on the 
left of our line we found Colonel Stuart with a body of cavalry 
and some pieces of artillery, belonging, as I understood, to a bat- 
tery commanded by Lieutenant Beckham. ... I found Stuart 
already in position beyond our extreme left, and, as I understood it, 
supporting and controlling Beckham's guns, which were firing on 
the enemy's extreme right flank, thus rendering very efficient ser- 
vice. I feel well assured that Stuart had but two companies of 
cavalry with him, as these were all I saw when he afterward went 
in pursuit of the enemy. As I approached the left, a young man 
named Saunders came galloping to me from Stuart with the in- 
formation that the enemy was about retreating, and a request to 
hurry on. This was the first word of encouragement we had 
received since we reached the vicinity of the battle. I told the 
messenger to inform Stuart that I was then moving as rapidly as 
my men could move ; but he soon returned with another message 
informing me that the other was a mistake, that the enemy had 
merely retired behind the ridge in front to form a new flanking 
column, and cautioning me to be on my guard. This last informa- 
tion proved to be correct. It was the last effort of the enemy to 
extend his right beyond our left, and was met by the formation of 
my regiments in his front. . . . The hill on which the enemy's 
troops were was Chinn's Hill, so often referred to in the accounts 
of this battle, and the one next year, on the same field. ... An 
officer came to me in a gallop, and entreated me not to fire on the 
troops in front, and I was so much impressed by his earnest man- 
ner and confident tone, that I halted my brigade on the side of the 
hill, and rode to the top of it, when I discovered, about a hundred 
and fifty yards to my right, a regiment bearing a flag which was 
drooping around the staff in such a manner as not to be distin- 
guishable from the Confederate flag of that day. I thought that, 


if the one that had been in front of me was a Virginia regiment, 
this must also be a Confederate one ; but one or two shots from 
Beckham's guns on the left caused the regiment to face about, when 
its flag unfurled, and I discovered it to be the United States flag. 
I forthwith ordered my brigade forward, but it did not reach the 
top of the hill soon enough to do any damage to the retiring regi- 
ment, which retreated precipitately down the hill and across the 
Warrenton Pike. At that time there was very little distinction 
between the dress of some of the Federal regiments and some of 
ours. As soon as the misrepresentation in regard to the character 
of the troops was corrected, my brigade advanced to the top of 
the hill that had been occupied by the enemy, and we ascertained 
that his troops had retired precipitately, and a large body of them 
was discovered in the fields in rear of Dogan's house, and north of 
the turnpike. Colonel Cocke, with one of his regiments, now joined 
us, and our pieces of artillery were advanced and fired upon the 
enemy's columns with considerable effect, causing them to dis- 
perse, and we soon discovered that they were in full retreat. . . . 
When my column was seen by General Beauregard, he at first 
thought it was a column of the enemy, having received erroneous 
information that such a column was on the Manassas Gap Railroad. 
The enemy took my troops, as they approached his right, for a 
large body of our troops from the Valley ; and as my men, moving 
by flank, were stretched out at considerable length, from weariness, 
they were greatly over-estimated. We scared the enemy worse than 
we hurt him. . . . 

" We saw the evidences of the flight all along our march, and 
unmistakable indications of the overwhelming character of the 
enemy's defeat in abandoned muskets and equipments. It was 
impossible for me to pursue the enemy farther, as well because I 
was utterly unacquainted with the crossings of the Run and the 
woods in front, as because most of the men belonging to my bri- 
gade had been marching the greater part of the day and were very 
much exhausted. But pursuit with infantry would have been un- 
availing, as the enemy's troops retreated with such rapidity that 
they could not have been overtaken by any other than mounted 
troops. On the next day we found a great many articles that the 
routed troops had abandoned in their flight, showing that no ex- 
pense or trouble had been spared by the enemy in equipping his 
army. ... In my movement after the retreat of the enemy com- 


menced, I passed the Carter house and beyond our line of battle. 
The enemy had by this time entirely disappeared, and, having no 
knowledge of the country whatever, being on the ground for the 
first time, besides not observing any movement of troops from our 
line, I halted, with the expectation of receiving further orders. 
Observing some men near the Carter house, I rode to it, and found 
some five or six Federal soldiers, who had collected some wounded 
there of both sides, and among them Colonel Gardner, of the Eighth 
Georgia Regiment, who was suffering from a very painful wound in 
the leg, which was fractured just above the ankle. . . . Just after 
my return from the house where I saw Colonel Gardner, Presi- 
dent Davis, in company with several gentlemen, rode to where my 
command was, and addressed a few stirring remarks to my regi- 
ments, in succession, which received him with great enthusiasm. 

" I briefly informed Mr. Davis of the orders I had received, and 
the movements of my brigade, and asked him what I should do 
under the circumstances. He told me that I had better get my 
men into line, and wait for further orders. I then requested him 
to inform Generals Johnston and Beauregard of my position, and 
my desire to receive orders. I also informed him of the condition 
in which I had found Colonel Gardner, and also of Colonel Jones 
being in the neighborhood badly wounded, requesting him to have 
a surgeon sent to their relief, as all of mine were in the rear attend- 
ing to the wounded of their regiments. While we were talking, 
we saw a body of troops moving on the opposite side of Bull Run, 
some distance below us. 

" Mr. Davis then left me, going to the house where Colonel 
Gardner was, and I moved my brigade some half a mile farther, 
and formed it in line across the peninsula formed by a very con- 
siderable bend in Bull Run above the stone bridge. I put out a 
line of pickets in front, and my brigade bivouacked in this posi- 
tion for the night. By the time all these dispositions were made 
it was night, and I then rode back with Captain Gardner over the 
route I had moved on, as I knew no other, in order to find General 
Johnston or General Beauregard, so that I might receive orders, 
supposing that there would be a forward movement early in the 
morning. I first went to the Lewis house, which I found to be a 
hospital filled with wounded men ; but was unable to get any in- 
formation about either of the generals. I then rode toward Ma- 
nassas, and, after going some distance in that direction, I met an 


officer who inquired for. General Johnston, stating that he was on 
his staff. I informed him that I was looking for General Johnston 
also, as well as for General Beauregard, and supposed they were at 
Manassas ; but he said that he was just from Manassas, and nei- 
ther of the generals was there. ... At about twelve o'clock at 
night I lay down in the field in rear of my command, on a couple 
of bundles of wheat in the straw. My men had no rations with 
them. I had picked up a haversack on the field, which was filled 
with hard biscuits, and had been dropped by some Yankee in 
his flight, and out of its contents I made my own supper, dis- 
tributing the rest among a number of officers who had nothing. 

"Very early next morning, I sent Captain Gardner to look 
out for the generals, and get orders for my command. He went 
to Manassas, and found General Beauregard, who sent orders to 
me to remain where I was until further orders, and to send for 
the camp-equipage, rations, etc., of my command. A number of 
the men spread over the country in the vicinity of the battle- 
field, and picked up a great many knapsacks, India-rubber cloths, 
blankets, overcoats, etc., as well as a good deal of sugar, coffee, 
and other provisions that had been abandoned by the enemy. . . . 

"After I had received orders showing that there was no pur- 
pose to make a forward movement, I rode over a good deal of 
the field, north of the Warrenton pike, and to some hospitals in 
the vicinity, in order to see what care was being taken of the 
wounded. I found a hospital on the Sudley road, back of the 
field of battle, at which Colonel Jones, of the Fourth Alabama, 
had been, which was in charge of a surgeon of a Rhode Island 
regiment, whose name was Harris, I think. I asked him if he 
had what he wanted for the men under his care, and he told me 
he would like to have some morphine, of which his supply was 
short. I directed a young surgeon of our cavalry, who rode up at 
the time, to furnish the morphine, which he did, from a pair of 
medical saddle-pockets which he had. Dr. Harris told me that he 
knew that their troops had had a great deal of coffee and sugar 
mixed, ready for boiling, of which a good deal had been left at 
different points near the field, and asked if there would be any 
objection to his sending out and gathering some of it for the use 
of the wounded under his charge, as it would be of much service 
to them. I gave him the permission to get not only that, but any- 
thing else that would tend to the comfort of his patients. There 


did not come within my observation any instance of harsh or un- 
kind treatment of the enemy's wounded ; nor did I see any indi- 
cation of a spirit to extend such treatment to them. The stories 
which were afterward told before the Committee on the Conduct 
of the War (appointed by the Federal Congress), in regard to 
' rebel atrocities,' were very grossly exaggerated, or manufactured 
from the whole cloth. . . . 

" On the night following the battle, when I was looking for 
Generals Beauregard and Johnston, in riding over and to the rear 
of the battle-field, I discovered that the greater part of the troops 
that had been engaged in the battle were in a great state of 
confusion. I saw companies looking for their regiments, and 
squads looking for their companies, and they were scattered as far 
as I went toward Manassas. It was very apparent that no con* 
siderable body of those troops that had been engaged on the left 
could have been brought into a condition next day for an advance 
toward Washington. . . . 

" The dispute as to who planned the battle, or commanded on 
the field, General Johnston or General Beauregard, is a most un- 
profitable one. The battle which General Beauregard planned 
was never fought, because the enemy did not move as he expect- 
ed him to move. The battle which was fought was planned by 
McDowell, at least so far as the ground on which it was fought 
was concerned. He made a movement on our left which was 
wholly unexpected and unprovided for, and we were compelled to 
fight a defensive battle on that flank, by bringing up reinforcements 
from other points as rapidly as possible. When Generals Johnston 
and Beauregard arrived on the field where the battle was actually 
fought, it had been progressing for some time, with the odds greatly 
against us. What was required then was to rally the troops already 
engaged, which had been considerably shattered, and hold the posi- 
tion to which they had been compelled to retire until reenf orce- 
ments could be brought up. According to the statements of both 
generals, the command of the troops then on the field was given 
to General Beauregard, and he continued to exercise it until the 
close, but in subordination, of course, to General Johnston, as 
commander-in-chief, while the movements of all the reenf orce- 
ments as they arrived were unquestionably directed by the latter. 
According to the statement of both, the movement of Elzey's 
brigade to the left averted a great danger, and both concur in 


attributing the turning of the tide of battle to the movement of 
my brigade against the enemy's extreme right flank (General 
Beauregard in a letter on the origin of the battle-flag, and General 
Johnston in his ' Narrative ' recently published). 

" General Beauregard unquestionably performed the duty as- 
signed him with great ability, and General Johnston gives him full 
credit therefor. Where, then, is there any room for a controversy in 
regard to the actual command, and what profit can there be in it ? 

" General Johnston assumes the responsibility for the failure to 
advance on Washington, and why, then, should an effort be made 
to shift it on any one else ? He certainly was commander-in- 
chief, and had the privilege of advancing if he thought proper. 
The attempt to show that the failure to advance was due to the 
want of transportation and rations for the army is idle. If the 
Bull Run bridge had not been burned on the 18th, our supplies 
could have been run to Alexandria, if we could have advanced, as 
easily as to Manassas, for the enemy had repaired the railroad to 
Fairfax Station as he moved up, and failed to destroy it when he 
went back. Moreover, we had abundant transportation at that 
time for all the purposes of an advance as far as Washington. In 
my brigade, the two Virginia regiments had about fourteen six- 
horse wagons each, and that would have furnished enough for the 
brigade, if the Seventh Louisiana had none. In 1862 we carried 
into Maryland only enough wagons to convey ammunition, medi- 
cal supplies, and cooking-utensils, and we started from the battle- 
field of second Manassas with no rations on hand, being, before 
we crossed the Potomac, entirely dependent on the country, which, 
in July, 1861, was teeming with supplies, but in August and Sep- 
tember, 1862, was nearly depleted. The pretense, therefore, that 
the advance in July, 1861, was prevented by the want of trans- 
portation and of supplies is wholly untenable." 

I will now make the promised extracts from reminiscences 
of Colonel (then Captain) Lay, which were sent to a friend, and 
handed to me for my use. The paper bears date February 13, 
1878. After some preliminary matter, and stating that his force 
consisted of three cavalry companies, the narrative proceeds : 

"I was under orders to be in the saddle at 6.30 a. m., July 21, 
1861, and to report immediately to General Beauregard at his head- 
quarters. About 7.30 a. m. I accompanied him and General John- 


ston to a position near to Mitchell's Ford, where for some hours we 
remained under an active fire of the long-range guns of the enemy 
upon the opposite hills. When the unexpected flank movement 
of the enemy was developed, with the generals named, we rode 
at rapid speed to the left, when General Beauregard immediately 
rode to the front, General Johnston taking position near and to 
the left of the Lewis house. . . . About 3.15 p. m., Captain R. 
Lindsey Walker, with his battery, took position to the left and in 
front of the Lewis house and commenced firing. I was near him 
when the shot from his battery was fired, and watched its effect 
as it swept through the columns of the enemy, producing perfect 
confusion and demoralization. ... I rode to join my brother, 
Colonel Lay, whom I saw going toward my command from Gen- 
eral Johnston. He reported to me that General Johnston said : 
1 Now is your time ; push the pursuit.' I started at once on a 
trot, was passing General Johnston, who gave some orders, and I 
understood him to say, ' Salute the President in passing.' ... I 
saluted, and passed on at a gallop. 

" I halted at Bull Run to water my horses — then suffering — 
and to confer a moment or two with my gallant old commander, 
General Philip St. George Cocke. 

" I passed on, . . . when to my astonishment I saw the Presi- 
dent near me in the orchard. I immediately rode up to him, and 
said that he was much farther forward than he should be ; that 
the forces of the enemy were not entirely broken, and very few of 
our troops in front of the Run, and advised him to retire ; that 
I was then about to charge. . . . 

" We made the charge ; a small body of the enemy broke be- 
fore we reached them, and scattered, and the larger body of troops 
beyond proved to be of our own troops rapidly advancing upon our 
left. . . . After parting from the President, I pushed on to Sud- 
ley Church, and far beyond. Sent my surgeon, Dr. Randolph 
Barksdale, to Captains Tillinghast, Ricketts, and other badly 
wounded United States officers, and was going on until a superior 
force should stop me, but was recalled by an order and returned 
over the field to my quarters at Manassas a little before daylight 
— I and my little gallant squadron — having been actively in the 
saddle, I think, more than twenty hours-. . . . 

(Signed) " John F. Lay, 

"Late Colonel of Cavalry, C. S. A. 


" IN". B. — It may be well to add that General R. Lindsey "Walker 
(then Captain Walker, of the battery referred to) is now in my 
office, and confirms my recollection. ... J. F. L." 

The quartermaster-general of General Beauregard's com- 
mand, W. L. Cabell, states in a letter written at Dallas, Texas, 
on the 16th of August, 1880, in regard to the field transporta- 
tion of General Beauregard's forces before the battle of Ma- 
nassas, that as nearly as he could remember it was as follows, 
viz. : 

One four-horse wagon to each company. 

One " " " for field and staff (regimental). 

One " " " " ammunition. 

One " " " " hospital purposes. 

Two " " wagons " each battery of artillery. 

Twenty-five wagons in a train for depot purposes. 

One ambulance for each regiment. 

Transportation belonging to General Johnston's army did 
not arrive until the day (or probably two days) after the battle. 

If General Johnston, as stated, had nine thousand infantry, 
the field transportation reported above could surely have been 
distributed so as to supply this additional force, and have ren- 
dered, as General Early states, the pretense wholly untenable 
that the advance in July, 1861, was prevented by want of trans- 

The deep anxiety which had existed, and was justified by the 
circumstances, had corresponding gratification among all classes 
and in all sections of our country. On the day after the victory, 
the Congress, then sitting in Richmond, upon receiving the 
dispatch of the President from the field of Manassas, adopted 
resolutions expressive of their thanks to the most high God, and 
inviting the people of the Confederate States to offer up their 
united thanksgiving and praise for the mighty deliverance. The 
resolutions also deplored the necessity which had caused the soil 
of our country to be stained with the blood of its sons, and to 
their families and friends offered the most cordial sympathy ; 
assuring them that in the hearts of our people would be en- 
shrined " the names of the gallant dead as the champions of free 
and constitutional liberty." 


If universal gratulation at our success inspired an overween- 
ing confidence, it also begat increased desire to enter the military 
service ; and, but for our want of arms and munitions, we could 
have enrolled an army little short of the number of able-bodied 
men in the Confederate States. 

I have given so much space to the battle of Manassas because 
it was the first great action of the war, exciting intense feeling, 
and producing important moral results among the people of the 
Confederacy ; and further, because it was made the basis of mis- 
representation, and unjust reflection upon the chief Executive, 
which certainly had no plausible pretext in the facts, and can 
not be referred to a reasonable desire to promote the successful 
defense of our country. 

Impressed with the conviction that time would naturally 
work to our disadvantage, as training was more necessary to 
make soldiers of the Northern people than of our own ; and 
further, because of their larger population, as well as their 
greater facility in obtaining recruits from foreign countries, the 
Administration continued assiduously to exert every faculty to 
increase the efficiency of the army by addition to its numbers, 
by improving its organization, and by supplying the needful 
munitions and equipments. Inactivity is the prolific source of 
evil to an army, especially if composed of new levies, who, like 
ours, had hurried from their homes at their country's call. For 
these, and other reasons more readily appreciated, it was thought 
desirable that all our available forces should be employed as 
actively as might be practicable. 

On the 1st of August, 1861, I wrote to General J. E. John- 
ston, at Manassas, as follows : 

" We are anxiously looking for the official reports of the battle 
of Manassas, and have present need to know what supplies and 
wagons were captured. I wish you would have prepared a state- 
ment of your wants in transportation and supplies of all kinds, to 
put your army on a proper footing for active operations. . . . 
" I am, as ever, your friend, 
(Signed) " Jefferson Davis." 



The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-'99. — Their Influence on Political Affairs. — Ken- 
tucky declares for Neutrality. — Correspondence of Governor Magoffin with the 
President of the United States and the President of the Confederate States. — 
Occupation of Columbus, Kentucky, by Major-General Polk. — His Correspond- 
ence with the Kentucky Commissioners. — President Lincoln's View of Neutral- 
ity. — Acts of the United States Government. — Refugees. — Their Motives of Ex- 
patriation. — Address of ex- Vice-President Breckinridge to the People of the 
State. — The Occupation of Columbus secured. — The Purpose of the United 
States Government. — Battle of Belmont. — Albert Sidney Johnston commands 
the Department. — State of Affairs. — Line of Defense. — Efforts to obtain Arms ; 
also Troops. 

Kentucky, the eldest daughter of Virginia, had moved con- 
temporaneously with her mother in the assertion of the cardinal 
principles announced in the resolutions of 1798-99. She then by 
the properly constituted authority did with due solemnity declare 
that the Government of the United States was the result of a 
compact between the States to which each acceded as a State ; 
that it possessed only delegated powers, of which it was not the 
exclusive or final judge ; and that, as in all cases of compact 
among parties having no common judge, " each party has an 
equal right to judge for itself as well of infractions as of the 
mode and measure of redress." Thus spoke Kentucky in the 
first years of her existence as a sovereign. The great truth an- 
nounced in her series of resolutions was the sign under which 
the Democracy conquered in 1800, and which constituted the 
corner-stone of the political edifice of which Jefferson was the 
architect, and which stood unshaken for sixty years from the 
time its foundation was laid. During this period, the growth, 
prosperity, and happiness of the country seemed unmistakably 
to confirm the wisdom of the voluntary union of free sovereign 
States under a written compact confining the action of the Gen- 
eral Government to the expressly enumerated powers which 
had been delegated therein. When infractions of the compact 
had been deliberately and persistently made, when the intent 
was clearly manifested to pervert the powers of the General 


Government from the purposes for which thej had been con- 
ferred, and to use them for the injury of a portion of the States, 
which were the integral parties to the compact, some of them 
resolved to judge for themselves of the " mode and measure of 
redress," and to exercise the right, enunciated in the Declara- 
tion of Independence to be the unalienable endowment of every 
people, to alter or abolish any form of government, and to in- 
stitute a new one, " laying its foundation on such principles, and 
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most 
likely to effect their safety and happiness." By no rational 
mode of construction, in view of the history of the Declaration 
of Independence, or of the resolutions of Kentucky, can it be 
claimed that the word " people " had any other meaning than 
that of a distinct community, such as the people of each colony 
who by their delegates in the Congress declared themselves 
to be henceforth a State ; and that none other than the people 
of each State could, by the resolutions of 1798-99, have been 
referred to as the final judge of infractions of their compact, 
and of the remedy which should be applied. 

Kentucky made no decision adverse to this right of a State, 
but she declared, in the impending conflict between the States 
seceding from and those adhering to the Federal Government, 
that she woud hold the position of neutrality. If the question 
was to be settled by a war of words, that was feasible ; but, if 
the conflict was to be one of arms, it was utterly impracticable. 
To maintain neutrality under such circumstances would have 
required a power greater than that of both the contestants, or a 
moral influence commanding such respect for her wishes as 
could hardly have been anticipated from that party which had, 
in violation of right, inflicted the wrongs which produced the 
withdrawal of some of the States, and had uttered multiplied 
threats of coercion if any State attempted to exercise the rights 
defined in the resolutions of 1798-'99. If, however, any such 
hope may have been entertained, but few moons had filled and 
waned before the defiant occupation of her territory and the 
enrollment of her citizens as soldiers in the army of invasion 
must have dispelled the illusion. 

The following correspondence took place in August, between 


Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, and President Lincoln — also 
between the Governor and myself, as President of the Con- 
federate States — relative to the neutrality of the State : 

" Commonwealth of Kentucky, Executive Department, 
" Frankfort, August 19, 1861. 

" To his Excellency Abraham Lincoln", President of the United 

" Sir : From the commencement of the unhappy hostilities 
now pending in this country, the people of Kentucky have indi- 
cated an earnest desire and purpose, as far as lay in their power, 
while maintaining their original political status, to do nothing by 
which to involve themselves in the war. Up to this time they 
have succeeded in securing to themselves and to the State peace 
and tranquillity as the fruits of the policy they adopted. My 
single object now is to promote the continuance of these blessings 
to this State. 

" Until within a brief period the people of Kentucky were quiet 
and tranquil, free from domestic strife, and undisturbed by inter- 
nal commotion. They have resisted no law, rebelled against no 
authority, engaged in no revolution, but constantly proclaimed 
their firm determination to pursue their peaceful avocations, ear- 
nestly hoping that their own soil would be spared the presence of 
armed troops, and that the scene of conflict would be kept re- 
moved beyond the border of their State. By thus avoiding all 
occasions for the introduction of bodies of armed soldiers, and 
offering no provocation for the presence of military force, the 
people of Kentucky have sincerely striven to preserve in their 
State domestic peace and avert the calamities of sanguinary en- 

" Recently a large body of soldiers have been enlisted in the 
United States army and collected in military camps in the central 
portion of Kentucky. This movement was preceded by the ac- 
tive organization of companies, regiments, etc., consisting of men 
sworn into the United States service, under officers holding com- 
missions from yourself. Ordnance, arms, munitions, and supplies 
of war are being transported into the State, and placed in large 
quantities in these camps. In a word, an army is now being or- 
ganized and quartered within the State, supplied with all the ap- 
pliances of war, without the consent or advice of the authorities 


of the State, and without consultation with those most prominent- 
ly known and recognized as loyal citizens. This movement now 
imperils that peace and tranquillity which from the beginning of 
our pending difficulties have been the paramount desire of this 
people, and which, up to this time, they have so secured to the 

" Within Kentucky there has been, and is likely to be, no occa- 
sion for the presence of military force. The people are quiet and 
tranquil, feeling no apprehension of any occasion arising to invoke 
protection from the Federal arm. They have asked that their 
territory be left free from military occupation, and the present 
tranquillity of their communication left uninvaded by soldiers. 
They do not desire that Kentucky shall be required to supply the 
battle-field for the contending armies, or become the theatre of the 

" Now, therefore, as Governor of the State of Kentucky, and in 
the name of the people I have the honor to represent, and with 
the single and earnest desire to avert from their peaceful homes 
the horrors of war, I urge the removal from the limits of Ken- 
tucky of the military force now organized and in camp within 
the State. If such action as is here urged be promptly taken, I 
firmly believe the peace of the people of Kentucky will be pre- 
served, and the horrors of a bloody war will be averted from a 
people now peaceful and tranquil. 

" I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"B. Magoffin." 

" Washington, August 2 fa 1861. 
"To his Excellency B. Magoffin, Governor of the State of 

"Sir : Your letter of the 19th instant, in which you 'urge the 
removal from the limits of Kentucky of the military force now 
organized and in camp within that State,' is received. 

" I may not possess full and precisely accurate knowledge upon 
this subject ; but I believe it is true that there is a military force 
in camp within Kentucky, acting by authority of the United 
States, which force is not very large, and is not now being aug- 

" I also believe that some arms have been furnished to this 
force by the United States. 


" I also believe this force consists exclusively of Kentuckians, 
having their camp in the immediate vicinity of their own homes, 
and not assailing or menacing any of the good people of Kentucky. 

" In all I have done in the premises, I have acted upon the 
urgent solicitation of many Kentuckians, and in accordance with 
what I believed, and still believe, to be the wish of a majority of 
all the Union-loving people of Kentucky. 

" While I have conversed on this subject with many of the 
eminent men of Kentucky, including a large majority of her mem- 
bers of Congress, I do not remember that any one of them, or any 
other person except your Excellency and the bearers of your Excel- 
lency's letter, has urged me to remove the military force from 
Kentucky, or to disband it. One very worthy citizen of Kentucky 
did solicit me to have the augmenting of the force suspended for 
a time. 

" Taking all the means within my reach to form a judgment, 
I do not believe it is the popular wish of Kentucky that this force 
shall be removed beyond her limits ; and, with this impression, I 
must respectfully decline to so remove it. 

" I most cordially sympathize with your Excellency in the wish 
to preserve the peace of my own native State, Kentucky. It is 
with regret I search for, and can not find, in your not very short 
letter, any declaration or intimation that you entertain any desire 
for the preservation of the Federal Union. 

"Your obedient servant, A. Lincoln." 

"Commonwealth op Kentucky, Executive Department, 
" Frankfort, August &£, 1861. 

" Hon. Jefferson Davis, Richmond^ Virginia. 

" Sir : Since the commencement of the unhappy difficulties 
pending in the country, the people of Kentucky have indicated a 
steadfast desire and purpose to maintain a position of strict neu- 
trality between the belligerent parties. They have earnestly 
striven by their policy to avert from themselves the calamity of 
war, and protect their own soil from the presence of contending 
armies. Up to this period they have enjoyed comparative tran- 
quillity and entire domestic peace. 

" Recently a military force has been enlisted and quartered by 
the United States authorities within this State. I have on this 
day addressed a communication and dispatched commissioners to 


the President of the United States, urging the removal of these 
troops from the soil of Kentucky, and thus exerting myself to 
carry out the will of the people in the maintenance of a neutral 
position. The people of this State desire to be free from the 
presence of the soldiers of either belligerent, and to that end my 
efforts are now directed. 

" Although I have no reason to presume that the Government 
of the Confederate States contemplate or have ever proposed any 
violation of the neutral attitude thus assumed by Kentucky, there 
seems to be some uneasiness felt among the people of some portion 
of the State, occasioned by the collection of bodies of troops along 
their southern frontier. In order to quiet this apprehension, and 
to secure to the people their cherished object of peace, this com- 
munication is to present these facts and elicit an authoritative 
assurance that the Government of the Confederate States will 
continue to respect and observe the position indicated as assumed 
by Kentucky. 

" Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"B. Magoffin." 

" Richmond, August 28, 1861. 
" To Hon. B. Magoffin, Governor of Kentucky r , etc. 

" Sir : I have received your letter informing me that ' since 
the commencement of the unhappy difficulties pending in the coun- 
try, the people of Kentucky have indicated a steadfast desire to 
maintain a position of strict neutrality between the belligerent 
parties.' In the same communication you express your desire to 
elicit ' an authoritative assurance that the Government of the Con- 
federate States will continue to respect and observe the neutral 
position of Kentucky.' 

"In reply to this request, I lose no time in assuring you that 
the Government of the Confederate States neither desires nor in- 
tends to disturb the neutrality of Kentucky. The assemblage of 
troops in Tennessee, to which you refer, had no other object than 
to repel the lawless invasion of that State by the forces of the 
United States, should their Government seek to approach it 
through Kentucky, without respect for its position of neutrality. 
That such apprehensions were not groundless has been proved by 
the course of that Government in the States of Maryland and Mis- 
souri, and more recently in Kentucky- itself, in which, as you in- 


form me, * a military force lias been enlisted and quartered by the 
United States authorities. ' 

" The Government of the Confederate States has not only re- 
spected most scrupulously the neutrality of Kentucky, but has 
continued to maintain the friendly relations of trade and inter- 
course which it has suspended with the United States generally. 

" In view of the history of the past, it can scarcely be necessary 
to assure your Excellency that the Government of the Confederate 
States will continue to respect the neutrality of Kentucky so long 
as her people will maintain it themselves. 

"But neutrality, to be entitled to respect, must be strictly 
maintained between both parties ; or, if the door be opened on 
the one side for the aggressions of one of the belligerent parties 
upon the other, it ought not to be shut to the assailed when they 
seek to enter it for purposes of self-defense. 

"I do not, however, for a moment believe that your gallant 
State will suffer its soil to be used for the purpose of giving an 
advantage to those who violate its neutrality and disregard its 
rights, over others who respect both. 

" In conclusion, I tender to your Excellency the assurance of 
my high consideration and regard, and am, sir, very respectfully, 

" Yours, etc., Jefeeeson Davis." 

Movements by the Federal forces in southwestern Kentucky 
revealed such designs as made it absolutely necessary that Gen- 
eral Polk, commanding the Confederate forces in that section, 
should immediately occupy the town of Columbus, Kentucky ; 
a position of much strategic importance on the shore of the 
Mississippi River. 

That position was doubly important, because it commanded 
the opposite shore in Missouri, and was the gateway on the 
border of Tennessee. 

Two States of the Confederacy were therefore threatened 
by the anticipated movement of the enemy to get possession 
of Columbus. 

Major-General Polk, therefore, crossed the State line, took 
possession of Hickman on September 3d, and on the 4th secured 
Columbus. General Grant, w T ho took command at Cairo on 
September 2d, being thus anticipated, seized Paducah, at the 


mouth of the Tennessee River, and occupied it in force on the 
5th and 6th. 

After the occupation, under date of September 4th, I received 
the following dispatch from Major-General Polk : " The enemy 
having descended the Mississippi River some three or four days 
since, and seated himself with cannon and intrenched lines op- 
posite the town of Columbus, Kentucky, making such demon- 
strations as left no doubt upon the minds of any of their inten- 
tion to seize and forcibly possess said town, I thought proper, 
under the plenary power delegated to me, to direct a sufficient 
portion of my command both by the river way and land to con- 
centrate at Columbus, as well to offer to its citizens that protec- 
tion they unite to a man in accepting, as also to prevent, in time, 
the occupation by the enemy of a point so necessary to the se- 
curity of western Tennessee. The demonstration on my part 
has had the desired effect. The enemy has withdrawn his 
forces even before I had fortified my position. It is my in- 
tention to continue to occupy and hold this place." On the 
same day I sent the following reply to Major-General Polk : 
" Your telegram received ; the necessity must justify the ac- 

The Legislature of Kentucky passed resolutions and appoint- 
ed a committee to inquire into the action of General Polk, from 
which the annexed correspondence resulted : 


Resolutions of the Kentucky Senate relative to the Violation of the Neu- 
trality of Kentucky. 

" Resolved by the Senate, That the special committee of the 
Senate, raised for the purpose of considering the reported occupa- 
tion of Hickman and other points in Kentucky by Confederate 
troops, take into consideration the occupation of Paducah and 
other places in Kentucky by the Federal authorities, and report 
thereon when the true state of the case shall have been ascer- 
tained. That the Speaker appoint three members of the Senate 
to visit southern Kentucky, who are directed to obtain all the 
facts they can in reference to the recent occupation of Kentucky 


soil by Confederate and Federal forces, and report in writing at 
as early a day as practicable. 

" In Senate of Kentucky, Saturday, September 7, a. d. 1861. 

" Twice read and adopted. 

" Attest : (Signed) J. H. Johnson, S. S. 

" In accordance with the foregoing resolution, the Speaker ap- 
pointed as said committee Messrs. John M. Johnson, William B. 
Read, and Thornton F. Marshall. 

"Attest : (Signed) J. H. Johnson, S. S." 

Letter of Ron. J. if. Johnson, Chairman of the Committee of the Kentucky 

Senate, to General Polk. 

" Columbus, Kentucky, September 9, 1861. 
il To Major-General Polk, commanding forces, etc. 

" Sir : I have the honor to inclose herewith a resolution of the 
Senate of Kentucky, adopted by that body upon the reception of 
the intelligence of the military occupation of Hickman, Chalk 
Bank, and Columbus, by the Confederate troops under your 
command. I need not say that the people of Kentucky are pro- 
foundly astonished that such an act should have been commit- 
ted by the Confederates, and especially that they should have 
been the first to do so with an equipped and regularly organized 

" The people of Kentucky, having with great unanimity deter- 
mined upon a position of neutrality in the unhappy war now be- 
ing waged, and which they had tried in vain to prevent, had hoped 
that one place at least in this great nation might remain uninvaded 
by passion, and through whose good office something might be 
done to end the war, or at least to mitigate its horrors, or, if this 
were not possible, that she might be left to choose her destiny 
without disturbance from any quarter. 

" In obedience to the thrice-repeated will of the people, as ex- 
pressed at the polls, and in their name, I ask you to withdraw your 
forces from the soil of Kentucky. 

" I will say, in conclusion, that all the people of the State await, 
in deep suspense, your action in the premises. 

" I have the honor to be, your obedient servant, etc., 
(Signed) " John M. Johnson, 

" Chairman of Committee? 


Letter from General Folic to the Kentucky Commissioners. 

" Columbus, Kentucky, September 9, 1861. 
" To J. M. Johnson, Chairman of Committee, Senate of Kentucky. 

" Sir : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your 
letter of this date, conveying to me a copy of a resolution of the 
Senate of Kentucky, under which a committee (of whieh you are 
chairman) was raised * for the purpose of considering the reported 
occupation of Hickman and other points in Kentucky by the Con- 
federate troops, and that they take into consideration the reported 
occupation of Paducah and other points in Kentucky by the Fed- 
eral authorities, and report thereon ' ; also, that they be ' directed 
to obtain all the facts they can in reference to the recent occupa- 
tion of Kentucky soil by the Confederate and Federal forces, and 
report, in writing, at as early a day as practicable.' 

" From the terms of the resolution, it appears your office, as 
committee-men, was restricted merely to collecting the facts in 
reference to the recent occupation of Kentucky soil by the Con- 
federate and Federal forces, and to report thereon in writing, at as 
early a day as possible. In answer to these resolutions, I have 
respectfully to say that, so far as the Confederate forces are con- 
cerned, the facts are plain, and shortly stated. The Government 
which they represent, recognizing as a fundamental principle the 
right of sovereign States to take such a position as they choose in 
regard to their relations with other States, was compelled by that 
principle to concede to Kentucky the right to assume the position 
of neutrality, which she has chosen in the passing struggle. This 
it has done on all occasions, and without an exception. The cases 
alluded to by his Excellency, Governor Magoffin, in his recent 
message, as ' raids,' I presume, are the cases of the steamers Che- 
ney and Orr. The former was the unauthorized and unrecognized 
act of certain citizens of Alabama, and the latter the act of citi- 
zens of Tennessee and others, and was an act of reprisal. They 
can not, therefore, be charged, in any sense, as acts of the Con- 
federate Government. 

" The first and only instance in which the neutrality of Ken- 
tucky has been disregarded is that in which the troops under my 
command, and by my direction, took possession of the place I now 
hold, and so much of the territory between it and the Tennessee 
line as was necessary for me to pass over in order to reach it. 
This act finds abundant justification in the history of the conces- 

1861] SIMILAR ACTS. 395 

sions granted to the Federal Government by Kentucky ever since 
the war began, notwithstanding the position of neutrality which 
she had assumed, and the firmness with which she proclaimed her 
intention to maintain it. That history shows the following among 
other facts : In January, the House of Representatives of Ken- 
tucky passed anti-coercion resolutions — only four dissenting. The 
Governor, in May, issued his neutrality proclamation. The ad- 
dress of the Union Central Committee, including Mr. James Speed, 
Mr. Prentice, and other prominent Union men, in April, proclaimed 
neutrality as the policy of Kentucky, and claimed that an attempt 
to coerce the South should induce Kentucky to make common 
cause with her, and take part in the contest on her side, ' without 
counting the cost.' The Union speakers and papers, with few ex- 
ceptions, claimed, up to the last election, that the Union vote was 
strict neutrality and peace. These facts and events gave assur- 
ance of the integrity of the avowed purpose of your State, and we 
were content with the position she assumed. 

" Since the election, however, she has allowed the seizure in 
her port (Paducah) of property of citizens of the Confederate 
States ; she has, by her members in the Congress of the United 
States, voted supplies of men and money to carry on the war against 
the Confederate States ; she has allowed the Federal Government 
to cut timber from her forests for the purpose of building armed 
boats for the invasion of the Southern States ; she is permitting 
to be enlisted in her territory, troops, not only of her own citizens, 
but of the citizens of other States, for the purpose of being armed 
and used in offensive warfare against the Confederate States. 
At Camp Robinson, in the county of Garrard, there are now ten 
thousand troops, if the newspapers can be relied upon, in which 
men from Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are mustered with 
Kentuckians into the service of the United States, and armed by 
that Government for the avowed purpose of giving aid to the dis- 
affected in one of the Confederate States, and of carrying out the 
designs of that Government for their subjugation. Notwithstand- 
ing all these and other acts of a similar character, the Confederate 
States have continued to respect the attitude which Kentucky had 
assumed as a neutral, and forborne from reprisals, in the hope 
that Kentucky would yet enforce respect for her position on the 
part of the Government of the United States. 

" Our patient expectation has been disappointed, and it was only 


when we perceived that this continued indifference to our rights 
and our safety was about to culminate in the seizure of an impor- 
tant part of her territory by the United States forces for offensive 
operations against the Confederate States, that a regard for self- 
preservation demanded of us to seize it in advance. We are here, 
therefore, not by choice, but of necessity, and as I have had the 
honor to say, in a communication addressed to his Excellency Gov- 
ernor Magoffin, a copy of which is herewith inclosed and sub- 
mitted as a part of my reply, so I now repeat in answer to your 
request, that I am prepared to agree to withdraw the Confederate 
troops from Kentucky, provided she will agree that the troops of 
the Federal Government be withdrawn simultaneously, with a 
guarantee (which I will give reciprocally for the Confederate Gov- 
ernment) that the Federal troops shall not be allowed to enter nor 
occupy any part of Kentucky for the future. 

" In view of the facts thus submitted, I can not but think the 
world at large will find it difficult to appreciate the ' profound 
astonishment ' with which you say the people of Kentucky re- 
ceived the intelligence of the occupation of this place. 
" I have the honor to be, respectfully, 

" Your obedient servant, etc., 

"Leonidas Polk, 
" Major- General commanding" 

Letter from General Polk to Governor Magoffin. 

" Columbus, Kentucky, September S, 186L 
" Governor Magoffin, Frankfort, Kentucky. 

" I should have dispatched to you immediately, as the troops 
under my command took possession of this position, the very few 
words I addressed to the people here ; but my duties since that 
time have so preoccupied me, that I have but now the first leisure 
moment to communicate with you. It will be sufficient for me to 
inform you (as my short address herewith will do) that I had in- 
formation, on which I could rely, that the Federal forces intended, 
and were preparing to seize Columbus. I need not describe to you 
the danger resulting to western Tennessee from such occupation. 

" My responsibility could not permit me quietly to lose to the 
command intrusted to me so important a position. In evidence 
of the accuracy of the information I possessed, I will state that, as 
the Confederate forces approached this place, the Federal troops 


were found in formidable numbers in position upon the opposite 
bank, with their cannon turned upon Columbus. The citizens of 
the town had fled with terror, and not a word of assurance of safety 
or protection had been addressed to them. Since I have taken 
possession of this place, I have been informed by highly respected 
citizens of your State that certain representatives of the Federal 
Government are seeking to take advantage of its own wrong, are 
setting up complaints against my acts of occupation, and are mak- 
ing it a pretext for seizing other points. Upon this proceeding I 
have no comments to make. But I am prepared to say that I will 
agree to withdraw the Confederate troops from Kentucky, pro- 
vided that she will agree that the troops of the Federal Govern- 
ment be withdrawn simultaneously, with a guarantee (which I will 
give reciprocally for the Confederate Government) that the Fed- 
eral troops shall not be allowed to enter or occupy any part of Ken- 
tucky in the future. 

" I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant, 
(Signed) " Leonidas Polk, 

" 3fajor- General commanding? 

However willing the government of Kentucky might have 
been to accede to the proposition of General Polk, and which 
from his knowledge of the views of his own Government he 
was fully justified in offering, the State of Kentucky had no 
power, moral or physical, to prevent the United States Govern- 
ment from using her soil as best might suit its purposes in the 
war it was waging for the subjugation of the seceded States. 
President Lincoln, in his message of the previous July, had dis- 
tinctly and reproachfully spoken of the idea of neutrality as ex- 
isting in some of the border States. He said : " To prevent the 
Union forces passing one way, or the disunion the other, over 
their soil, would be disunion completed. ... At a stroke it 
would take all the trouble off the hands of secession, except 
only what proceeds from the external blockade." 

The acts of the Federal Government corresponded with the 
views announced by its President. Briefly, but conclusively, 
General Polk showed in his answer that the United States 
Government paid no respect to the neutral position which Ken- 
tucky wished to maintain ; that it was armed, but not neutral, 


for the arms and the troops assembled on her soil were for 
the invasion of the South ; and that he occupied Columbus to 
prevent the enemy from taking possession of it. When our 
troops first entered Columbus they found the inhabitants had 
been in alarm from demonstrations of the United States forces, 
but that they felt no dread of the Confederate troops. As far as 
the truth could be ascertained, a decided majority of the people 
of Kentucky, especially its southwestern portion, if left to a free 
choice, would have joined the Confederacy in preference to re- 
maining in the Union. Could they have foreseen what in a 
short time was revealed, there can be little doubt that mule 
contracts, and other forms of bribery, would have proved un- 
availing to make her the passive observer of usurpations de- 
structive of the personal and political rights of which she had 
always been a most earnest advocate. "With the slow and sinu- 
ous approach of the serpent, the General Government, little by 
little, gained power over Kentucky, and then, throwing off the 
mask, proceeded to outrages so regardless of law and the usages 
of English-speaking people, as could not have been anticipated, 
and can only be remembered with shame by those who honor 
the constitutional Government created by the States. While 
artfully urging the maintenance of the Union as a duty of 
patriotism, the Constitution which gave the Union birth was 
trampled under foot, and the excesses of the Eeign of Terror 
which followed the French Revolution were reenacted in our 
land, once the vaunted home of law and liberty. Men who 
had been most honored by the State, and who had reflected 
back most honor upon it, were seized without warrant, con- 
demned without trial, because they had exercised the privilege 
of free speech, and for adhering to the principles which were 
the bed-rock on which our fathers builded our political temple. 
Members of the Legislature vacated their seats and left the State 
to avoid arrest, the penalty hanging over them for opinion's 
sake. The venerable Judge Monroe, who had presided over the 
United States District Court for more than a generation, driven 
from the land of his birth, the State he had served so long and so 
well, with feeble step, but upright conscience and indomitable 
will, sought a resting-place among those who did not regard it a 


crime to adhere to the principles of 1776 and of 1787, and the 
declaratory affirmation of them in the resolutions of 1798-'99. 
About the same time others of great worth and distinction, im- 
pelled by the feeling that " where liberty is there is my 
country," left the land desecrated by despotic usurpation, to 
join the Confederacy in its struggle to maintain the personal 
and political liberties which the men of the Revolution had left 
as an inheritance to their posterity. Space would not suffice 
for a complete list of the refugees who became conspicuous in 
the military events of the Confederacy ; let a few answer for 
the many : J. C. Breckinridge, the late Yice-President of the 
United States, and whose general and well-deserved popularity 
might have reasonably led him to expect in the Union the 
highest honors the States could bestow ; William Preston, 
George W. Johnston, S. B. Buckner, John H. Morgan, and a 
host of others, alike meritorious and alike gratefully remem- 
bered. When the passions of the hour shall have subsided, and 
the past shall be reviewed with discrimination and justice, the 
question must arise in every reflecting mind, Why did such men 
as these expatriate themselves, and surrender all the advantages 
which they had won by a life of honorable effort in the .land of 
their nativity ? To such inquiry the answer must be, the usur- 
pations of the General Government foretold to them the wreck 
of constitutional liberty. The motives which governed them , 
may best be learned from the annexed extracts from the state- 
ment made in the address of Mr. Breckinridge to the people 
of Kentucky, whom he had represented in both Houses of the 
United States Congress, with such distinguished .ability and zeal 
for the general welfare as to place him in the front rank of 
the statesmen of his day : 

" Bowling Green, Kentucky, October <?, 1861. 
" In obedience, as I supposed, to your wishes, I proceeded to 
Washington, and at the special session of Congress, in July, spoke 
and voted against the whole war policy of the President and Con- 
gress ; demanding, in addition, for Kentucky, the right to refuse, 
not men only, but money also, to the war, for I would have 
blushed to meet you with the confession that I had purchased for 
you exemption from the perils of the battle-field, and the shame of 


waging war against your Southern brethren, by hiring others to do 
the work you shrunk from performing. During that memorable 
session a very small body of Senators and Representatives, even 
beneath the shadow of a military despotism, resisted the usurpa- 
tions of the Executive, and, with what degree of dignity and 
firmness, they willingly submit to the judgment of the world. 

" Their efforts were unavailing, yet they may prove valuable 
hereafter, as another added to former examples of manly protest 
against the progress of tyranny. 

" On my return to Kentucky, at the close of the late special 
session of Congress, it was my purpose immediately to resign the 
office of Senator. The verbal and written remonstrances of many 
friends in different parts of the State induced me to postpone the 
execution of my purpose ; but the time has arrived to carry it 
into effect, and accordingly I now hereby return the trust into 
your hands. ... In the House of Representatives it was declared 
that the South should be reduced to * abject submission,' or their 
institutions be overthrown. In the Senate it was said that, if 
necessary, the South should be depopulated and repeopled from 
the North ; and an eminent Senator expressed a desire that the 
President should be made dictator. This was superfluous, since 
they had already clothed him with dictatorial powers. In the 
midst of these proceedings, no plea for the Constitution is listened 
to in the North ; here and there a few heroic voices are feebly 
heard protesting against the progress of despotism, but, for the 
most part, beyond the military lines, mobs and anarchy rule the 

" The great mass of the Northern people seem anxious to sun- 
der every safeguard of freedom ; they eagerly offer to the Gov- 
ernment what no European monarch would dare to demand. The 
President and his generals are unable to pick up the liberties of 
the people as rapidly as they are thrown at their feet. ... In 
every form by which you could give direct expression to your 
will, you declared for neutrality. A large majority of the people 
at the May and August elections voted for the neutrality and 
peace of Kentucky. The press, the public speakers, the candi- 
dates — with exceptions in favor of the Government at Washing- 
ton so rare as not to need mention — planted themselves on this 
position. You voted for it, and you meant it. You were prom- 
ised it, and you expected it. . . . Look now at the condition of 


Kentucky, and see how your expectations have been realized — 
how these promises have been redeemed. . . . General Anderson, 
the military dictator of Kentucky, announces in one of his procla- 
mations that he will arrest no one who does not act, write, or 
speak in opposition to Mr. Lincoln's Government. It would have 
completed the idea if he had added, or think in opposition to it. 
Look at the condition of our State under the rule of our new pro- 
tectors. They have suppressed the freedom of speech and of the 
press. They seize people by military force upon mere suspicion, 
and impose on them oaths unknown to the laws. Other citizens 
they imprison without warrant, and carry them out of the State, 
so that the writ of habeas corpus can not reach them. 

" Every day foreign armed bands are making seizures among 
the people. Hundreds of citizens, old and young, venerable 
magistrates, whose lives have been distinguished by the love of 
the people, have been compelled to fly from their homes and fam- 
ilies to escape imprisonment and exile at the hands of Northern 
and German soldiers, under the orders of Mr. Lincoln and his 
military subordinates. While yet holding an important political 
trust, confided by Kentucky, I was compelled to leave my home 
and family, or suffer imprisonment and exile. If it is asked why 
I did not meet the arrest and seek a trial, my answer is,. that I 
would have welcomed an arrest to be followed by a judge and 
jury ; but you well know that I could not have secured these con- 
stitutional rights. I would have been transported beyond the 
State, to languish in some Federal fortress during the pleasure of 
the oppressor. Witness the fate of Morehead and his Kentucky 
associates in their distant and gloomy prison. 

" The case of the gentleman just mentioned is an example of 
many others, and it meets every element in a definition of despot- 
ism. If it should occur in England it would be righted, or it 
would overturn the British Empire. He is a citizen and native 
of Kentucky. As a member of the Legislature, Speaker of the 
House, Representative in Congress from the Ashland district, and 
Governor of the State, you have known, trusted, and honored him 
during a public service of a quarter of a century. He is eminent 
for his ability, his amiable character, and his blameless life. Yet 
this man, without indictment, without warrant, without accusation, 
but by the order of President Lincoln, was seized at midnight, in 
his own house, and in the midst of his own family, and led through 


the streets of Louisville, as I am informed, with his hands crossed 
and pinioned before him — was carried out of the State and dis- 
trict, and now lies a prisoner in a fortress in New York Harbor, a 
thousand miles away. . . . 

" The Constitution of the United States, which these invaders 
unconstitutionally swear every citizen whom they unconstitution- 
ally seize to support, has been wholly abolished. It is as much 
forgotten as if it lay away back in the twilight of history. The 
facts I have enumerated show that the very rights most carefully 
reserved by it to the States and to individuals have been most 
conspicuously violated. . . . Your fellow-citizen, 

(Signed) "John C. Breckinridge." 

Sucb was the " neutrality " suffered by the Confederacy from 
governments both at home and abroad. 

The chivalric people of Kentucky showed their sympathy 
with the just cause of the people of the Southern States, by 
leaving the home where they could not serve the cause of right 
against might, and nobly shared the fortunes of their Southern 
brethren on many a blood-dyed field. In like manner did the 
British people see with disapprobation their Government, while 
proclaiming neutrality, make new rules, and give new construc- 
tions to old ones, so as to favor our enemy and embarrass us. 
The Englishman's sense of fair-play, and the manly instinct 
which predisposes him to side with the weak, gave us hosts of 
friends, but all their good intentions were paralyzed or foiled by 
their wily Minister for Foreign Affairs, and his coadjutor on 
this side, the artful, unscrupulous United States Secretary of 

I have thus presented the case of Kentucky, not because it 
was the only State where false promises lulled the people into 
delusive security, until, by gradual approaches, usurpation had 
bound them hand and foot, and where despotic power crushed 
all the muniments of civil liberty which the Union was formed 
to secure, but because of the attempt, which has been noticed, 
to arraign the Confederacy for invasion of the State in disregard 
of her sovereignty. 

The occupation of Columbus by the Confederate forces was 
only just soon enough to anticipate the predetermined purpose 


of the Federal Government, all of which was plainly set forth in 
the letter of General Polk to the Governor of Kentucky, and 
his subsequent letter to the Kentucky commissioners. 

Missouri, like Kentucky, had wished to preserve peaceful 
relations in the contest which it was foreseen would soon occur 
between the Northern and the Southern States. When the Fed- 
eral Government denied to her the privilege of choosing her own 
position, which betokened no hostility to the General Govern- 
ment, and she was driven to the necessity of deciding whether 
or not her citizens should be used for the subjugation of the 
Southern States, her people and their representative, the State 
government, repelled the arbitrary assumption of authority by 
military force to control her government and her people. 

Among other acts of invasion, the Federal troops had occu- 
pied Belmont, a village in Missouri opposite to Columbus, and 
with artillery threatened that town, inspiring terror in its peaceful 
inhabitants. After the occupation of Columbus, under these 
circumstances of full justification, a small Confederate force, 
Colonel Tappan's Arkansas regiment, and Beltzhoover's battery, 
were thrown across the Mississippi to occupy and hold the vil- 
lage, in the State of Missouri, then an ally, and soon to become a 
member, of the Confederacy. On the 6th of November General 
Grant left his headquarters at Cairo with a land and naval force, 
and encamped on the Kentucky shore. This act and a demon- 
stration made by detachments from his force at Paducah were 
probably intended to induce the belief that he contemplated 
an attack on Columbus, thus concealing his real purpose to 
surprise the small garrison at Belmont. General Polk on the 
morning of the 7th discovered the landing of the Federal forces 
on the Missouri shore, some seven miles above Columbus, and, 
divining the real purpose of the enemy, detached General Pil- 
low with four regiments of his division, say two thousand men, 
to reenforce the garrison at Belmont. Yery soon after his 
arrival, the enemy commenced an assault which was sternly 
resisted, and with varying fortune, for several hours. The ene- 
my's front so far exceeded the length of our line as to enable 
him to attack on both flanks, and our troops were finally driven 
back to the bank of the river with the loss of their battery, 


which had been gallantly and efficiently served nntil nearly all 
its horses had been killed, and its ammunition had been ex- 
pended. The enemy advanced to the bank of the river below 
the point to which oar men had retreated, and opened an artil- 
lery-fire upon the town of Columbus, to which our guns from 
the commanding height responded with such effect as to drive 
him from the river bank. In the mean time General Polk had 
at intervals sent three regiments to reenforce General Pillow. 
Upon the arrival of the first of these, General Pillow led it to a 
favorable position, where it for some time steadily resisted and 
checked the advance of the enemy. General Pillow, with great 
energy and gallantry, rallied his repulsed troops and brought 
them again into action. General Polk now proceeded in person 
with two other regiments. Whether from this or some other 
cause, the enemy commenced a retreat. General Pillow, whose 
activity and daring on the occasion were worthy of all praise, led 
the first and second detachments, by which he had been reen- 
forced, to attack the enemy in the rear, and General Polk, land- 
ing further up the river, moved to cut off the enemy's retreat ; 
but some embarrassment and consequent delay which occurred 
in landing his troops caused him to be too late for the purpose 
for which he crossed, and to become only a part of the pursu- 
ing force. 

One would naturally suppose that the question about which 
there would be the greatest certainty would be the number of 
troops engaged in a battle, yet there is nothing in regard to 
which we have such conflicting accounts. It is fairly concluded, 
from the concurrent reports, that the enemy attacked us on both 
flanks, and that in the beginning of the action we were outnum- 
bered ; but the obstinacy with which the conflict was maintained 
and the successive advances and retreats which occurred in the 
action indicate that the disparity could not have been very great, 
and therefore that, after the arrival of our reinforcements, our 
troops must have become numerically superior. The dead and 
wounded left by the enemy upon the field, the arms, ammuni- 
tion, and military stores abandoned in his flight, so incontesta- 
bly prove his defeat, that his claim to have achieved a victory is 
too preposterous for discussion. Though the forces engaged 



: I ! I ! ! ' ' | ■ | • 


were comparatively small to those in subsequent battles of 
the war, six hours of incessant combat, with repeated bayonet- 
charges, must place this in the rank of the most stubborn engage- 
ments, and the victors must accord to the vanquished the meed 
of having fought like Americans. One of the results of the 
battle, which is at least significant, is the fact that General 
Grant, who had superciliously refused to recognize General Polk 
as one with whom he could exchange prisoners, did, after the 
battle, send a flag of truce to get such privileges as are recog- 
nized between armies acknowledging each other to be " f oemen 
worthy of their steel." 

General Polk reported as follows : " We pursued them to 
their boats, seven miles, and then drove their boats before us. 
The road was strewed with their dead and wounded, guns, ammu- 
nition, and equipments. The number of prisoners taken by the 
enemy, as shown by their list furnished, was one hundred and six, 
all of whom have been returned by exchange. After making a 
liberal allowance to the enemy, a hundred of their prisoners 
still remain in my hands, one stand of colors, and a fraction over 
one thousand stand of arms, with knapsacks, ammunition, and 
other military stores. Our loss in killed, wounded, and miss- 
ing, was six hundred and forty one ; that of the enemy was 
probably not less than twelve hundred." 

Meanwhile, Albert Sidney Johnston, a soldier of great dis- 
tinction in the United States Army, where he had attained the 
rank of brigadier-general by brevet, and was in command of the 
Department of California, resigned his commission, and came 
overland from San Francisco to Richmond, to tender his ser- 
vices to the Confederate States. Though he had been bred a 
soldier, and most of his life had been spent in the army, he had 
not neglected such study of political affairs as properly belongs 
to the citizen of a republic, and appreciated the issue made be- 
tween States claiming the right to resume the powers they had 
delegated to a general agent and the claims set up by that 
agent to coerce States, his creators, and for whom he held a 

He was a native of Kentucky, but his first military appoint- 
ment was from Louisiana, and he was a volunteer in the war for 


independence by Texas, and for a time resided in that State. 
Much of his military service had been in the West, and he felt 
most identified with it. On the 10th of September, 1861, he was 
assigned to command our Department of the West, which in- 
cluded the States of Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, the Indian 
country, and the western part of Mississippi. 

General Johnston, on his arrival at Nashville, found that he 
lacked not only men, but the munitions of war and the means 
of obtaining them. Men were ready to be enlisted, but the 
arms and equipments had nearly all been required to fit out the 
first levies. Immediately on his survey of the situation, he 
determined to occupy Bowling Green in Kentucky, and ordered 
Brigadier-General S. B. Buckner, with five thousand men, to 
take possession of the position. This invasion of Kentucky was 
an act of self-defense rendered necessary by the action of the 
government of Kentucky, and by the evidences of intended 
movements of the forces of the United States. It was not possi- 
ble to withdraw the troops from Columbus in the west, nor from 
Cumberland Ford in the east, to which General Felix K. Zolli- 
coffer had advanced with four thousand men. A compliance 
with the demands of Kentucky would have opened the fron- 
tiers of Tennessee and the Mississippi River to the enemy ; be- 
sides, it was essential to the defense of Tennessee. 

East of Columbus, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Hop- 
kinsville were garrisoned with small bodies of troops ; and the 
territory between Columbus and Bowling Green was occupied 
by moving detachments which caused the supposition that a 
large military force was present and contemplated an advance. 
A fortified camp was established at Cumberland Gap as the 
right of General Johnston's line, and an important point for the 
protection of East Tennessee against invasion. Thus General 
Johnston located his line of defense, from Columbus on the 
west to the Cumberland Mountains on the east, with his center at 
Bowling Green, which was occupied and intrenched. It was a 
good base for military operations, was a proper depot for sup- 
plies, and, if fortified, could be held against largely superior 

On October 28th General Johnston took command at Bowl- 


ing Green. He states his force to have been twelve thousand 
men, and that the enemy's force at that time was estimated to 
be double his own, or twenty-four thousand. He says : " The 
enemy's force increased more rapidly than our own, so that by 
the last of November it numbered fifty thousand, and contin- 
ued to increase until it ran up to between seventy-five and one 
hundred thousand. My force was kept down by disease, so 
that it numbered about twenty-two thousand." 

The chief anxiety of the commander of the department was 
to procure arms and men. On the next day after his arrival 
at Nashville, he wrote to the Governor of Alabama, " I shall beg 
to rely on your Excellency to furnish us as rapidly as possible, 
at this point, with every arm it may be in your power to pro- 
vide — I mean small-arms for infantry and cavalry." The Gov- 
ernor replied, " It is out of the power of Alabama to afford you 
any assistance in the way of arms." The Governor of Georgia 
replied to the same request on September 18th, " It is utterly 
impossible for me to comply with your request." General 
Bragg, in command at Pensacola, writes in reply on September 
27th : " The mission of Colonel Buckner will not be successful, 
I fear, as our extreme Southern country has been stripped 
of both arms and men. We started early in this matter, and 
have wellnigh exhausted our resources." On September 19th 
General Johnston telegraphed to me : " Thirty thousand stand 
of arms are a necessity to my command. I beg you to order 
them, or as many as can be got, to be instantly procured and 
sent with dispatch." The Secretary of War replied : " The 
whole number received by us, by that steamer, was eighteen 
hundred, and we purchased of the owners seventeen hundred 
and eighty, making in all thirty-five hundred Enfield rifles, of 
which we have been compelled to allow the Governor of Georgia 
to have one thousand for arming troops to repel an attack now 
hourly threatened at Brunswick. Of the remaining twenty-five 
hundred, I have ordered one thousand sent to you, leaving us 
but fifteen hundred for arming several regiments now encamped 
here, and who have been awaiting their arms for several months. 
. . . We have not an engineer to send you. The whole engineer 
corps comprises only six captains together with three majors, of 


whom one is on bureau duty. You will be compelled to em- 
ploy the best material within your reach, by detailing officers 
from other corps, and by employing civil engineers." 

These details are given to serve as an illustration of the defi- 
ciencies existing in every department of the military service in 
the first years of the war. In this respect much relief came 
from the well-directed efforts of Governor Harris and the Legis- 
lature of Tennessee. A cap-factory, ordnance-shops, and work- 
shops were established. The powder-mills at Nashville turned 
out about four hundred pounds a day. Twelve or fourteen bat- 
teries were fitted out at Memphis. Laws were passed to impress 
and pay for the private arms scattered throughout the State, 
and the utmost efforts were made to collect and adapt them to 
military uses. The returns make it evident that, during most of 
the autumn of 1861, fully one half of General Johnston's troops 
were imperfectly armed, and whole brigades remained without 
weapons for months. 

No less energetic were the measures taken to concentrate and 
recruit his forces. General Hardee's command was moved from 
northeastern Arkansas, and sent to Bowling Green, which added 
four thousand men to the troops there. The regiment of Texan 
rangers was brought from Louisiana, and supplied with horses 
and sent to the front. Five hundred Kentuckians joined Gen- 
eral Buckner on his advance, and five regiments were gradually 
formed and filled up. A cavalry company under John H. Mor- 
gan was also added. At this time (September, 1861), General 
Johnston, under the authority granted to him by the Govern- 
ment, made a requisition for thirty thousand men from Tennes- 
see, ten thousand from Mississippi, and ten thousand from Ar- 
kansas. The Arkansas troops were directed to be sent to Gen- 
eral McCulloch for the defense of their own frontier. The 
Governor of Mississippi sent four regiments, when this source 
of supply was closed. 

Up to the middle of November only three regiments were 
mustered in under this call from Tennessee, but, by the close of 
December, the number of men who joined was from twelve to 
fifteen thousand. Two regiments, fifteen hundred strong, had 
joined General Polk. 


In Arkansas, five companies and a battalion had been organ- 
ized, and were ready to join General McCulloch. 

A speedy advance of the enemy was now indicated, and an 
increase of force was so necessary that further delay was im- 
possible. General Johnston, therefore, determined upon a levy 
en masse in his department. He made a requisition on the Gov- 
ernors of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, to call out every 
able-bodied member of the militia into whose hands arms could 
be placed, or to provide a volunteer force large enough to use 
all the arms that could be procured. In his letters to these 
Governors, he plainly presents his view of the posture of affairs 
on December 24th, points out impending dangers, and shows 
that to his applications the response had not been such as the 
emergency demanded. He says : 

" It was apprehended by me that the enemy would attempt to 
assail the South, not only by boats and troops moving down the 
river, to be assembled during the fall and winter, but by columns 
marching inland, threatening Tennessee, by endeavoring to turn 
the defenses of Columbus. Further observation confirms me in 
this opinion ; but I think the means employed for the defense of 
the river will probably render it comparatively secure. The ene- 
my will energetically push toward Nashville the heavy masses of 
troops now assembled between Louisville and Bowling Green. 
The general position of Bowling Green is good and command- 
ing ; but the peculiar topography of the place and the length 
of the line of the Barren River as a line of defense, though strong, 
require a large force to defend it. There is no position equally 
defensive as Bowling Green, nor line of defense as good as the 
Barren River, between the Barren and the Cumberland at Nash- 
ville ; so that it can not be abandoned without exposing Ten- 
nessee, and giving vastly the vantage-ground to the enemy. It 
is manifest that the Northern generals appreciate this ; and, by 
withdrawing their forces from western Virginia and east Ken- 
tucky, they have managed to add them to the new levies from 
Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and to concentrate a force in front 
of me variously estimated at from sixty to one hundred thou- 
sand men, and which I believe will number seventy-five thousand. 
To maintain my position, I have only about seventeen thou- 
sand men in this neighborhood. It is impossible for' me to ob- 


tain additions to my strength from. Columbus ; the generals in 
command in that quarter consider that it would imperil that point 
to diminish their force, and open Tennessee to the enemy. Gen- 
eral Zollicoffer can not join me, as he guards the Cumberland, and 
prevents the invasion and possible revolt of East Tennessee." 

On June 5th General Johnston was reenforced by the bri- 
gades of Floyd and Maney from western Yirginia. He also sent 
a messenger to Richmond to ask that a few regiments might be 
detached from the several armies in the field, and sent to him to 
be replaced by new levies. He said : " I do not ask that my 
force shall be made equal to that of the enemy ; but, if possible, 
it should be raised to fifty thousand men." Meantime such an 
appearance of menace had been maintained as led the enemy to 
believe that our force was large, and that he might be attacked 
at any time. Frequent and rapid expeditions through the 
sparsely settled country gave rise to rumors which kept alive 
this apprehension. 


The Coercion of Missouri. — Answers of the Governors of States to President Lin- 
coln's Requisition for Troops. — Restoration of Forts Caswell and Johnson to 
the United States Government. — Condition of Missouri similar to that of Ken- 
tucky. — Hostilities, how initiated in Missouri. — Agreement between Generals 
Price and Harney. — Its Favorable Effects. — General Harney relieved of Com- 
mand by the United States Government because of his Pacific Policy. — Removal 
of Public Arms from Missouri. — Searches for and Seizure of Arms. — Missouri 
on the Side of Peace. — Address of General Price to the People. — Proclamation 
of Governor Jackson. — Humiliating Concessions of the Governor to the United 
States Government, for the sake of Peace. — Demands of the Federal Officers. — 
Revolutionary Principles attempted to be enforced by the United States Gov- 
ernment. — The Action at Booneville. — The Patriot Army of Militia. — Further 
Rout of the Enemy.— Heroism and Self-sacrifice of the People.— Complaints and 
Embarrassments. — Zeal : its effects. — Action of Congress. — Battle of Spring- 
field. — General Price. — Battle at Lexington. — Bales of Hemp. — Other Combats. 

To preserve the Union in the spirit and for the purposes for 
which it was established, an equilibrium between the States, as 
grouped in sections, was essential. When the Territory of Mis- 
souri constitutionally applied for admission as a State into the 


Union, the struggle between State rights and that sectional 
aggrandizement which was seeking to destroy the existing 
equilibrium gave rise to the contest which shook the Union to 
its foundation, and sowed the seeds of geographical divisions, 
which have borne the most noxious weeds that have choked 
our political vineyard. Again, in 1861, Missouri appealed to 
the Constitution for the vindication of her rights, and again 
did usurpation and the blind rage of a sectional party disregard 
the appeal, and assume powers, not only undelegated, but in 
direct violation of the fourth section of the fourth article of 
the Constitution, which every Federal officer had sworn to 
maintain, and which secured to every State a republican gov- 
ernment, and protection against invasion. 

If it be contended that the invasion referred to must have 
been by other than the troops of the United States, and that 
their troops were therefore not prohibited from entering a State 
against its wishes, and for purposes hostile to its policy, the 
section of the Constitution referred to fortifies the fact, hereto- 
fore noticed, of the refusal of the Convention, when forming the 
Constitution, to delegate to the Federal Government power to 
coerce a State. By its last clause it was provided that not even 
to suppress domestic violence could the General Government, 
on its own motion, send troops of the United States into the 
territory of one of the States. That section reads thus : 

" The United States shall guarantee to every State in this 
Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of 
them against invasion, and on application of the Legislature, or of 
the executive (when the Legislature can not be convened), against 
domestic violence." 

Surely, if Federal troops could not be sent into a State with- 
out its application, even to protect it against domestic violence, 
still less could it be done to overrule the will of its people. 
That, instead of an obligation upon the citizens of other States 
to respond to a call by the President for troops to invade a par- 
ticular State, it was in April, 1861, deemed a high crime to so use 
them : reference is here made to the published answers of the 
Governors of States, which had not seceded, to the requisition 


made upon them for troops to be employed against the States 
which had seceded. 

Governor Letcher, of Virginia, replied to the requisition of 
the United States Secretary of War as follows : 

" I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Vir- 
ginia the quota designated in a table which you append, to serve 
as infantry or riflemen, for the period of three months, unless 
sooner discharged. 

" In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the 
militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Wash- 
ington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your 
object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made 
upon me for such an object— an object, in my judgment, not with- 
in the purview of the Constitution, or the Act of 1795 — will not be 
complied with." 

Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, replied : 

"Your dispatch is received. In answer, I say emphatically, 
Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subdu- 
ing her sister Southern States." 

Governor Harris, of Tennessee, replied : 

" Tennessee will not furnish a single man for coercion, but 
fifty thousand, if necessary, for the defense of our rights, or those 
of our Southern brothers." 

Governor Jackson, of Missouri, answered : 

"Requisition is illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhu- 
man, diabolical, and can not be complied with." 

Governor Rector, of Arkansas, replied : 

" In answer to your requisition for troops from Arkansas, to 
subjugate the Southern States, I have to say that none will be 
furnished. The demand is only adding insult to injury." 

Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, responded to the requisi- 
tion for troops from that State as follows : 

" Your dispatch is received, and, if genuine — which its extraor- 
dinary character leads me to doubt— I have to say, in reply, that 


I regard the levy of troops made by the Administra