Copyright
Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

. (page 10 of 46)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 10 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and
sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects
it, does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to depotism. Unanimity is im
possible ; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly
inadmissible ; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or des
potism in some form is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional
questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court ; nor do I deny that
such decisions must be binding, in any case, upon the parties to a suit
as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high
respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments
of the Government. And while it is obviously possible that such de-



118 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.

cisions may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following
it being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be
overruled, and never become a precedent for other cases, can better bo
borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time the
candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon
vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by
decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary
litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased
to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their
government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

Nor is there is this view any assault upon the Court of the Judges.
It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly
brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn
their decisions to political purposes. One section of our country believes
slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is
wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dis
pute. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the
suppression of the foreign slave-trade, are each as well enforced, perhaps,
as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of tho
people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people
abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in
each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured ; and it would be worse
in both cases after the separation of the sections than before. Tho
foreign slave-trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately
revived without restriction in one section ; while fugitive slaves, now
only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the
other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our
respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall be
tween them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the
presence and beyond the reach of each 6*ther ; but the different parts of
our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face ; and
intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. It
is impossible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or
more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens rnnko
treaties easier than friends can make laws ? Can treaties be more faith
fully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends ? Suppose
you go to war, you cannot fight always ; and when, after much loss on
both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old
questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.



TIIE INAUGURAL ADDKESS. 119

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit
it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they
can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolu
tionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the
fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the
national Constitution amended. "While I make no recommendation of
amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over
the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in
the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor
rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act
upon it. I will venture to add, that to me the convention mode seems
preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people
themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject proposi
tions originated by others not especially chosen for the purpose, and
which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept
or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution
which amendment, however, I have not seen has passed Congress, to
the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with tho
domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to
service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from
my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that,
holding such a provision now to be implied constitutional law, I have no
objections to its being made express and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and
they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the
States. The people themselves can do this also if they choose ; but the
Executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer
the present Government as it came to his hands, and to transmit it,
unimpaired by him, to his successor.

"Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice
of the people ? Is there any better or equal hope in the world ? In
our present differences, is either party without faith of being in tho
right ? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with his eternal truth and
justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that
truth and that justice will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great
tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the Government under which we live, the same
people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mis
chief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that
little to their own hands at very short intervals. "While the people



120 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTEATION.

retain their virtue and vigilance, no Administration, by any extreme of
wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the Government in the
short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole
subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an
object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never
take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time ; but
no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dis
satisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensi
tive point, the laws of your own framing under it ; while the new Admin
istration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either.
If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side
in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action.
Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who
has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust,
in the best way, all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is
the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you.

You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.
You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government ;
while I shall have the most solemn one to " preserve, protect, and
defend" it.

I am loth to close. "We are not enemies, but friends. "We must not
be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our
bonds of affection.

The mystic cord of memory, stretching from every battle-field and
patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad
land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as
surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

The declarations of the Inaugural, as a general thing, gave
satisfaction to the loyal people of the whole country. It was
seen, everywhere, that while President LINCOLN felt con
strained, by the most solemn obligations of duty, to maintain
the authority of the Government of the United States over all
the territory within its jurisdiction, whenever that authority
should be disputed by the actual exercise of armed force, he
would nevertheless do nothing whatever to provoke such a
demonstration, and would take no step which could look like



ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT. 121

violence or offensive warfare upon the seceded States. In the
Border States its reception was in the main satisfactory. But,
as a matter of course, in those States, as elsewhere throughout
the South, the secession leaders gave it the most hostile con
struction. No effort was spared to inflame the public mind
by representing the Inaugural as embodying the purpose of
the President to make war upon the Southern States for their
attempt to secure a redress of wrongs.

The President s first act was to construct his Cabinet,
which was done by the appointment of William H. Seward,
of New York, Secretary of State; Salmon P, Chase, of Ohio,
Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania,
Secretary of War; Gideon Welles, of Connecticut, Secretary
of the Navy; Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, Secretary of the
Interior; Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, Postmaster-Gen
eral; and Edward Bates, of Missouri, Attorney-General.
These nominations were all confirmed by the Senate, and
these gentlemen entered upon the discharge of the duties of
their several offices.

On the 12th of March, Messrs. John Forsyth, of Alabama,
and Crawford, of Georgia, requested an unofficial interview
with the Secretary of State, which the latter declined. On
the 13th they sent to him a communication informing him
that they were in Washington as Commissioners from a gov
ernment composed of seven States which had withdrawn from
the American Union, and that they desired to enter upon
negotiations for the adjustment of all questions growing out
of this separation. Mr. Seward, by direction of the President,
declined to receive them, because it " could not be admitted
that the States referred to had, in law or fact, withdrawn from
the Federal Union, or that they could do so in any other
man nor than with the consent and concert of the people of
the United States, to be given through a National Convention

to be assembled in conformity with the provisions of the Con-
6



122 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.

stitution of the United States." This communication, though
written on the 15th of March, was withheld, with the consent
of the Commissioners, until the 8th of April, when it was
delivered. The fact of its receipt, and its character, were
instantly telegraphed to Charleston, and it was made the
occasion for precipitating the revolution by an act which, it
was believed, would unite all the Southern States in support
of the Confederacy. On the day of its receipt, the 8th of
April, Gen. Beauregard, at Charleston, telegraphed to L. P.
Walker, the rebel Secretary of War, at Montgomery, that an
authorized messenger from President Lincoln had just informed
Gov. Pickens and himself that provisions would be sent to Fort
Sumter peaceably, or, otherwise, by force." Gen. B. was in
structed to demand the surrender of the fort, which he did on
the llth, and was at once informed by Major Anderson, who
was in command, that his " sense of honor and his obligations
to his Government prevented his compliance." On the night
of the same day Gen. Beauregard wrote to Major Anderson,
by orders of his government, that if he " would state the time
at which he would evacuate Fort Sumter" (as it was known
that it must soon be evacuated for lack of provisions) " and
will agree that, in the mean time, you will not use your guns
against us unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumter,
we will abstain from opening fire upon you." At half-past
two in the morning of the 12th, Major Anderson replied that
he would evacuate the fort by noon on the 15th, abiding,
mean time, by the terms proposed, unless he should " receive,
prior to that, controlling instructions from his Government,
or additional supplies." In reply to this note he was noti
fied, at half-past three, that the rebels would open their bat
teries upon the fort in one hour from that time. This they
did, and, after a bombardment of thirty-three hours, Major
Anderson agreed to evacuate the fort, which he carried into
effect on Sunday morning, the 14th.



THE BOMBARDMENT OF SUMTER. 123

The effect of this open act of war was, in some respects,
precisely what had been anticipated by the rebel authorities :
in other respects, it was very different. Upon the Southern
States it had the effect of arousing public sentiment to the
highest pitch of enthusiasm, and of strengthening the rebel
cause. At the North, it broke down, for the moment, all party
distinctions and united the people in a cordial and hearty sup
port of the Government.

The President regarded it as an armed attack upon the Gov
ernment of the United States, in support of the combination
which had been organized into a Confederacy to resist and
destroy its authority, and he saw, at once, that it could be met
and defeated only by the force placed in his hands for the
maintenance of that authority. He, accordingly, on the 15th
of April, issued the following



PROCLAMATION.
By the President of the United States.

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, Louisiana, 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: now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United
States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the
laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia
of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000,
in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly
executed.

The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the
State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal citi
zens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integ
rity, and existence of our national Union, and the perpetuity of popular
government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem
it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called



124

forth, will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which
have been seized from the Union ; and in every event the utmost care
will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any
devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any
disturbance of peaceful citizens of any part of the country; and I hereby
command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid, to disperse
and retire peaceably to their respective abodes, within twenty days from
this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an ex
traordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested
by the Constitution, convene both houses of Congress. The Senators
and Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their re
spective Chambers at twelve o clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day
of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures
as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the inde
pendence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
By tne President.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The issue of this Proclamation created the most intense en
thusiasm throughout the country. Scarcely a voice was raised
in any of the Northern States against this measure, which was
seen to be one of absolute necessity and of self-defence on the
part of the Government. Every Northorn State responded
promptly to the President s demand, and from private persons,
as well as by the Legislatures, men, arms, and money were of
fered, in unstinted profusion and with the most zealous alacrity, in
support of the Government. Massachusetts was first in the field :
and on the first day after the issue of the Proclamation, her Sixth
Regiment, completely equipped, started from Boston for the
National Capital. Two more regiments were also made ready,
and took their departure within forty-eight hours. The Sixth
Regiment, on its way to Washington, on the 19th, was attacked



PASSAGE OF TIIOOPS THKOUGH BALTIMORE. 125

by a mob in Baltimore, carrying a secession flag, and several
of its members were killed or severely wounded. This inflamed
to a still higher point the excitement which already pervaded
the country. The whole Northern section of the Union felt
outraged that troops should be assailed and murdered on their
way to protect the capital of the nation. In Maryland, where
the Secession party was strong, there was also great excite
ment, and the Governor of the State and the Mayor of Balti
more united in urging, for prudential reasons, that no more
troops should be brought through that city. To their repre
sentation the President made the following reply :

WASHINGTON, April 29, 1861.
Governor Hieks and Mayor Brown:

GENTLEMEN : Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin, and Brune is re
ceived. I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to keep
the peace in the trying situation in which you are placed.

For the future, troops must be brought here, but I make no point of
bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge my
self, of course I must leave details to General Scott. lie hastily said this
morning in the presence of these gentlemen, " March them around Balti
more and not through it." I sincerely hope the General, on fuller reflec
tion, will consider this practical and proper, and that you will not object
to it. By this a collision of the people of Baltimore with the troops will
be avoided, unless they go out of their way to seek it. I hope you will
exert your influence to prevent this.

Now and ever I shall do all in my power for peace consistently with
the maintenance of the Government.

Your obedient servant, A. LINCOLN.

And in further response to the same request from Governor
Hicks, followed by a suggestion that the controversy between
the North and South might be referred to Lord Lyons, the
British minister, for arbitration, President Lincoln, through
the Secretary of State, made the following reply :



120 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, April 22, 1861.
H ls Excellency Thos. H. Ificks, Governor of Maryland :

SIR : I have had the honor to receive your communication of this
morning, in which you inform me that you have felt it to be your duty
to advise the President of the United States to order elsewhere the
troops then off Annapolis, and also that no more may be sent through
Maryland ; and that you have further suggested that Lord Lyons be re
quested to act as mediator between the contending parties in our country,
to prevent the effusion of blood.

The President directs me to acknowledge the receipt of that commu
nication, and to assure you that he has weighed the counsels it contains
with the respect which he habitually cherishes for the Chief Magistrates
of the several States, and especially for yourself. He regrets, as deeply
as any magistrate or citizen of this country can, that demonstrations
against the safety of the United States, with very extensive preparations
for the effusion of blood, have made it his duty to call out the forces to
whidh you allude.

The force now sought to be brought through Maryland, is intended
for nothing but the defence of the capital. The President has necessa
rily confided the choice of the national highway which that force shall
take in coming to this city to the Lieutenant-General commanding the
Army of the United States, who, like his only predecessor, is not less
distinguished for his humanity, than for his loyalty, patriotism, and dis
tinguished public service.

The President instructs me to add, that the national highway thus
selected by the Lieutenant-General, has been chosen by him, upon con
sultation with prominent magistrates and citizens of Maryland, as the
one which, while a route is absolutely necessary, is farthest removed
from the populous cities of the State, and with the expectation that it
would therefore be the least objectionable one.

The President cannot but remember that there has been a time in the
history of our country when a general of the American Union, with
forces designed for the defence of its capital, was not unwelcome any
where in the State of Maryland, and certainly not at Annapolis, then, as
now, the capital of that patriotic State, and then, also, one of the capitals
of the Union.

If eighty years could have obliterated all the other noble sentiments
of that age in Maryland, the President would be hopeful, nevertheless,
that there is one that would forever remain there and everywhere. That
sentiment is, that no domestic contention whatever that may arise among
the parties of this Republic, ought in any case to be referred to any for
eign arbitrament, least of all to the arbitrament of a European monarchy.

I have the honor to be, with distinguished consideration, your Excel
lency s most obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWABD.



INTERVIEW WITH THE MAYOR OF BALTIMORE. 127

At the President s request, the mayor of Baltimore, and a
number of the leading influential citizens of Maryland, waited
upon him at Washington, and had an open conference upon
the condition of affairs in that State. The Mayor subse
quently made the following report of the interview :

The President, upon his part, recognized the good faith of the city and
State authorities, and insisted upon his own. He admitted the excited
state of feeling in Baltimore, and his desire and duty to avoid the fatal
consequences of a collision with the people. He urged, on the other
hand, the absolute, irresistible necessity of having a transit through the
State for such troops as might be necessary for the protection of the
Federal Capital. The protection of Washington, he asseverated with great
earnestness, was the sole object of concentrating troops there ; and he
protested that none of the troops brought through Maryland were in
tended for any purposes hostile to the State, or aggressive as against the
Southern States. Being now unable to bring them up the Potomac in
security, the Government must either bring them through Maryland or
abandon the capital.

He called on General Scott for his opinion, which the General gave at
length, to the effect that troops might be brought through Maryland,
without going through Baltimore, by either carrying them from Perrys-
ville to Annapolis, and thence by rail to Washington, or by bringing them
to the Relay House on the Northern Central Railroad, and marching them
to the Relay House on the Washington Railroad, and thence by rail to
the Capital. If the people would permit them to go by either of those
routes uninterruptedly, the necessity of their passing through Baltimore
would be avoided. If the people would not permit them a transit thus -
remote from the city, they must select their own best route, and, if need
be, fight their way through Baltimore a result which the General earnestly
deprecated.

The President expressed his hearty concurrence in the desire to avoid
a collision, and said that no more troops should be ordered through Balti
more, if they w ere permitted to go interruptedly by either of the other
routes suggested. In this disposition the Secretary of War expressed
his participation.

Mayor Brown assured the President that the city authorities would use
all lawful means to prevent their citizens from leaving Baltimore to
attack the troops in passing at a distance ; but he urged, at the same



Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 10 of 46)