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

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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 11 of 46)
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time, the impossibility of their being able to promise any thing more
than their best efforts in that direction. The excitement was great, he
told the President ; the people of all classes were fully aroused, and it
was impossible for any one to answer for the consequences of the pres-


ence of Northern troops anywhere within our borders. He reminded
the President, also, that the jurisdiction of the city authorities was con
fined to their own population, aud that he could give no promises for the
people elsewhere, because he would be unable to keep them if given.
The President frankly acknowledged this difficulty, and said that the
Government would only ask the city authorities to use their best efforts
with respect to those under their jurisdiction.

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 under
standing that the city authorities should do their best to restrain their
own people.

In accordance with this understanding, troops were forwarded
to Washington by way of Annapolis, until peace and order
were restored in Baltimore, when the regular use of the high
way through that city was resumed, and has been continued
without interruption to the present time.

On the 19th of April the President issued the following
proclamation, blockading the ports of the seceded States :


Whereas, an insurrection against the Government of the United States
has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Flor
ida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States
for the collection of the revenue cannot be efficiently executed therein
conformable to that provision of the Constitution which required duties
to be uniform throughout the United States :

And whereas a combination of persons, engaged in such insurrection
have threatened to grant pretended letters of marque, to authorize the
bearers thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and property of
the good citizens of the country, lawfully engaged in commerce on the
high seas, and in waters of the United States :

And whereas an Executive Proclamation has been already issued, re
quiring the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to desist
therefrom, calling out a militia force for the purpose of repressing the
same, and convening Congress in extraordinary session to deliberate and
determine thereon :

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States,
with a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the protection
of the public peace, and the lives and property of quiet and orderly


citizens pursuing their lawful occupations, until Congress shall have
assembled and deliberated 011 the said unlawful proceedings, or until the
same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a
blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the
laws of the United States and of the laws of nations in such cases pro
vided. For this purpose, a competent force will be posted so as to pre
vent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore,
with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall
attempt to leave any of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the
commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her
register the fact and date of such warning ; and if the same vessel shall
again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured
and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her
and her cargo as prize as may be deemed advisable.

And I hereby proclaim and declare, that if any person, under the pre
tended authority of such States, or under any other pretence, shall molest
a vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board of her,
such persons will be held amenable to the laws of the United States for
the prevention and punishment of piracy.

By the President, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

WASHINGTON, April 19, 1861.

These were the initial steps by which the Government
sought to repel the attempt of the rebel Confederacy to over
throw its authority by force of arms. Its action was at that
time wholly defensive. The declarations of rebel officials, as
well as the language of the Southern press, indicated very
clearly their intention to push the war begun at Sumter into
the North. Jefferson Davis had himself declared, more than
a month previous, that whenever the war should open, the
North and not the South should be the field of battle. At a
popular demonstration held at Montgomery, Ala., on hearing
that fire had been opened upon Sumter, L. P. Walker, the rebel
Secretary of War, had said, that while "no man could tell
where the war would end, he would prophesy that the flag
which now flaunts the breeze here, would float over the dome-
of the old capitol at Washington before the first of May,"
and that it " might float eventually over Faneuil Hall itself."


TIic rebel Government had gone forward with great vigor to
prepare the means for making good these predictions. Vol
unteers was summoned to the field. Besides garrisoning the
fortresses in their possession along the Southern coast, a force
of nearly 20,000 men was pushed rapidly forward to Virginia.
A loan of eight millions of dollars was raised, and Davis
issued a proclamation offering letters of marque to all persons
who might desire to aid the rebel Government and enrich
themselves by depredations upon the rich and extended com
merce of the United States. The South thus plunged openly
and boldly into a war of aggression ; and the President, in
strict conformity with the declaration of his Inaugural, put
the Government upon the defensive, and limited the military
operations of the moment to the protection of the capital.

The effect of these preliminary movements upon the Border
Slave States was very decided. The assault upon Sumter
greatly excited the public mind throughout those States. In
Virginia it was made to enure to the benefit of the rebels.
The State Convention, which had been in session since the
13th of February, was composed of 152 delegate?, a large
majority of whom were Union men. The -Inaugural of Presi
dent Lincoln had created a good deal of excitement among
the members, and a very animated contest liad followed as to
its proper meaning. The secessionists insisted that it an
nounced a policy of coercion towards the South, and had
seized the occasion to urge the immediate passage of an ordi
nance of secession. This gave rise to a stormy debate, in
which the friends of the Union maintained their ascendency.
The news of the attack upon Sumter created a whirlwind of
excitement, which checked somewhat the Union movement ;
and. on the 13th of April, Messrs. Preston, Stuart, and Ran-
dolph, who had been sent to Washington to ascertain the
President s intentions towards the South, sent in their report,
which was received just after Governor Pickens of South


Carolina bad announced the attack upon Sumter, and had
demanded to know what Virginia intended to do in the war
they had just commenced, and in which they were determined
to triumph or perish. The Commissioners reported that the
President had made the following reply to their inquiries :

To //on. Messrs. Preston, Stuart, and Randolph :

GENTLEMEN: As a committee of the Virginia Convention, now in
session, you present me a preamble and resolution in these words :

Whereas, In the opinion of this Convention, the uncertainty which

Erevails in the public mind as to the policy which the Federal Executive
itends to pursue towards the seceded States, is extreriiely injurious to
the industrial and commercial interests of the country, tends to keep up an
excitement which is unfavorable to the adjustment of the pending diffi
culties, and threatens a disturbance of the public peace ; therefore,

Resolved, That a committee of three delegates be appointed to wait on
the President of the United States, present to him this preamble, and
respectfully ask him to communicate to this Convention the policy which
the Federal Executive intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate

In answer I have to say, that having, at the beginning of my official
term, expressed my intended policy as plainly as I was able, it is with
deep regret and mortification I now learn there is great and injurious
uncertainty in the public mind as to what that policy is, and what course
I intend to pursue. Not having as yet seen occasion to change, it is now
my purpose to pursue the course marked out in the Inaugural Address.
I commend a careful consideration of the whole document as the best
expression I can give to my purposes. As 1^ then and therein said, I
now repeat, " The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy,
and possess property and places belonging to the Government, and to
collect the duties and imposts ; but beyond what is necessary for these
objects there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the
people anywhere." By the words "property and places belonging to
the Government," I chiefly allude to the military posts and property
which were in possession of the Government when it came into my hands.
But if, as now appears to be true, in pursuit of a purpose to drive the
United States authority from these places, an unprovoked assault has
been made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to repossess
it, if I can, like places which had been seized before the Government was
devolved upon me ; and in any event I shall, to the best of my ability,
repel force by force. In case it proves true that Fort Sumter has been
assaulted, as is reported, I shall, perhaps, cause the United States mails
to be withdrawn from all the States which claim to have seceded, believ
ing that the commencement of actual war against the Government justi
fies and possibly demands it. I scarcely need to say that I consider the


military posts and property situated within the States which claim to
have seceded, as yet belonging to the Government of the United States
as much as they did before the supposed secession. Whatever else I
may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt to collect the duties and
imposts by any armed invasion of any part of the country ; not meaning
by this, however, that I may not laud a force deemed necessary to re
lieve a fort upon the border of the country. From the fact that I have
quoted a part of the Inaugural Address, it must not be inferred that I
repudiate any other part, the whole of which I reaffirm, except so far as
what I now say of the mails may be regarded as a modification.


On the 17th, two days after this report was presented, and
immediately after receiving the President s proclamation call
ing for troops, the Convention passed an ordinance of seces
sion by a vote of 88 to 55 ; and Virginia, being thus the most
advanced member of the rebel Confederacy, became the battle
field of all the earlier contests which ensued, and on the 21st
of May the capital of the rebel government was transferred to
Richmond. Very strenuous efforts were made by the rebel
authorities to secure the adhesion of Maryland, Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Missouri to the Confederacy ; but the wise
forbearance of the President in his earlier measures had checked
these endeavors, and held all those States but Tennessee aloof
from active participation in the secession in jvomont.

The months of May and June were devoted to the most
active and vigorous preparations on both sides for the contest
which was seen to be inevitable. Over a hundred thousand
troops had been raised and organized in the rebel States, and
the great mass of them had been pushed forward toward the
Northern border. On the 20th of April the Government of
the United States seized all the despatches which had accu
mulated in the telegraph offices during the preceding year,
for the purpose of detecting movements in aid of the rebel
conspiracy. On the 27th of April the blockade of rebel
ports was extended by proclamation to the ports of North
Carolina and Virginia. On the 3d of May the President is-


sued a proclamation calling into the service of the United
States 42,034 volunteers for three years, and ordering an ad
dition of 22,114 officers and men to the regular army, and
18,000 seamen to the navy. And on the 16th, by another
proclamation, he directed the commander of the United States
forces in Florida to "permit no person to exercise any office
or authority upon the islands of Key West, the Tortugas,
and Santa Rosa, which may be inconsistent with the laws and
Constitution of the United States, authorizing him, at the
same time, if he shall find it necessary, to suspend the writ of
habeas corpus, and to remove from the vicinity of the United
States fortresses all dangerous or suspected persons."

One of the first duties of the new Administration was to
define the position to be taken by the Government of the
United States towards foreign nations in view of the rebellion.
While it is impossible to enter here upon this very wide
branch of the general subject at any considerable length, this
history would be incomplete if it did not state, in official
language, the attitude which the President decided to assume.
That is very distinctly set forth in the letter of instructions
prepared by the Secretary of State for Mr. Adams, on the
eve of his departure for the court of St. James, and dated
April 10, in the following terms:

Before considering the arguments you are to use, it is important to
indicate those which you are not to employ in executing that mission

JXnt. The President has noticed, as the whole American people have

with much emotion, the expressions of good-will and friendship towards

ited States, and of concern for their present embarrassments

ich have been made on apt occasions, by her Majesty and her minis-

ers. You will make due acknowledgment for these manifestations but

; the same time you will not rely on any mere sympathies or national

kindness. You will make no admissions of weakness in our Constitu-

on, or of apprehension on the part of the Government. You will

ather prove, as you easily can, by comparing the history of our country

with that of other States, that its Constitution and Government are

really the strongest and surest which have ever been erected for the safety

>f any people. You will in no case listen to any suggestions of com-


promise by this Government, under foreign auspices, with its discon
tented citizens. If, as the President does not at all apprehend, you
shall unhappily find her Majesty s Government tolerating the application
of the so-called seceding States, or wavering about it, you will not leave
them to suppose for a moment that they can grant that application and
remain the friends of the United States. You may even assure them
promptly, in that case, that if they determine to recognize, they may at
the same time prepare to enter into alliance with the enemies of this
republic. You alone will represent your country at London, and you
will represent the whole of it there. When you are asked to divide that
duty with others, diplomatic relations between the Government of Great
Britain and this Government will be suspended, and will remain so until
it shall be seen which of the two is most strongly intrenched in the con
fidence of their respective nations and of mankind.

You will not be allowed, however, even if you were disposed, as the Pres
ident is sure you will not be, to rest your opposition to the application
of the Confederate States on the ground of any favor this Administra
tion, or the party which chiefly called it into existence, proposes to show
to Great Britain, or claims that Great Britain ought to show them; You
will not consent to draw into debate before the British Government any
opposing moral principles which may be supposed to lie at the founda
tion of the controversy between those States and the Federal Union.

You will indulge in no expressions of harshness or disrespect, or even
impatience, concerning the seceding States, their agents, or their people.
But you will, on the contrary, all the while remember that those States
are now, as they always heretofore have been, and, notwithstanding their
temporary self-delusion, they must always continue to be, equal and
honored members of this Federal Union, and that their citizens through
out all political misunderstandings and alienations still are and always
must be our kindred and countrymen. In short, all your arguments must
belong to one of three classes, namely : First. Arguments drawn from
the principles of public law and natural justice, which regulate the inter
course of equal States. Secondly. Arguments which concern equally the
honor, welfare, and happiness of the discontented States, and the honor,
welfare, and happiness of the whole Union. Thirdly. Arguments which
are equally conservative of the rights and interests, and even sentiments
of the United States, and just in their bearing upon the rights, interests,
and sentiments of Great Britain and all other nations.

Just previous to the arrival of Mr. Adams at bis post, the
British Government determined, acting in concert with that
of France, to recognize the rebels as a belligerent power.
Against this recognition our Government directed Mr. Adams


to make a decided and energetic protest. On the 15th of
June the British and French ministers at Washington re
quested an interview with the Secretary of State for the pur
pose of reading to him certain instructions they had received
on this subject from their respective governments. Mr.
Sevvard declined to hear them officially until he knew the
nature of the document, which was accordingly left with him
for perusal, and he afterwards declined altogether to hear it
read, or receive official notice of it. In a letter to Mr. Adams,
on the 19th, he thus states its character and contents:

That paper purports to contain a decision at which the British Govern
ment has arrived, to the effect that this country is divided into two
belligerent parties, of which this Government represents one, and that
Great Britain assumes the attitude of a neutral between them.

This Government could not, consistently with a just regard for the sov
ereignty of the United States, permit itself to debate these novel and
extraordinary positions with the Government of her Britannic Majesty ;
much less can we consent that that Government shall announce to us a
decision derogating from that sovereignty, at which it has arrived with
out previously conferring with us upon the question. The United States
are still solely and exclusively sovereign within the territories they have
lawfully acquired and long possessed, as they have always been. They
are at peace with all the world, as, with unimportant exceptions, they have
always been. They are living under the obligations of the law of nations,
and of treaties with Great Britain, just the same now as heretofore ; they
are, of course, the friend of Great Britain, and they insist that Great Britain
shall remain their friend now, just as she has hitherto been. Great Britain,
by virtue of these relations, is a stranger to parties and sections in this coun
try, whether they are loyal to the United States or not, and Great Britain
can neither rightfully qualify the sovereignty of the United States, nor
concede, nor recognize any rights or interests or power of any party, State,
or section, in contravention to the unbroken sovereignty of the Federal
Union. What is now seen in this country is the occurrence, by no means
peculiar, but frequent in all countries, more frequent even in Great
Britain than here, of an armed insurrection engaged in attempting to
overthrow the regularly constituted and established Government. There
is, of course, the employment of force by the Government to suppress
the insurrection, as every other government necessarily employs force in
such cases. But these incidents by no means constitute a state of war
impairing the sovereignty of the Government, creating belligerent sec
tions, and entitling foreign States to intervene, or to act as neutrals


between them, or in any other way to cast off their lawful obligations to
the nation thus for the moment disturbed. Any other principle than
this would be to resolve government everywhere into a thing of accident
and caprice, and ultimately all human society into a state of perpetual

We do not go into any argument of fact or of law in support of the
positions we have thus assumed. They are simply the suggestions of the
instinct of self-defence, the primary law of human action not more the
law of individual than of national life.

Similar views were presented for the consideration of the
French Emperor, and, indeed, of all the foreign govern
ments with which we held diplomatic intercourse. The action
of the seceding States was treated as rebellion, purely domes
tic in its character, upon the nature or merits of which it
would be unbecoming in us to hold any discussion with any
foreign power. The President pressed upon all those gov
ernments the duty of accepting this view of the question,
and of abstaining, consequently, from every act which could
be construed into any recognition of the rebel Confederacy,
or which could embarrass the Government of the United
States in its endeavors to re-establish its rightful authority.
Especial pains were taken, by the most emphatic declarations,
to leave no doubt in the mind of any foreign statesman as to
the purpose of the people of the United States to accomplish
that result. " You cannot be too decided or explicit," was the
uniform language of the Secretary, " in making known to the
government that there is not now, nor has there been, nor
will there be, any the least idea existing in this Government of
suffering a dissolution of this Union to take place in any way
whatever." Efforts were also made by our Government to
define, with the precision which the novel features of the case
required, the law of nations in regard to neutral rights, and
also to secure a general concurrence of the maritime powers
in the principles of the Paris Convention of 1859 : the latter
object was, however, thwarted by the demand made by both


France and England, that they should not be required to abide
by these principles in their application to the internal conflict
which was going on in the United States. This demand the
President pronounced inadmissible.




IN pursuance of the President s proclamation of the 15th
of April, Congress met in extra session on the 4th of July,
1861. The Republicans had control of both houses, counting
31 votes out of 48 in the Senate, and 106 out of 178 in the
House, there being, moreover, 5 in the Senate and 28 in the
House who, without belonging to the Republican party, sup
ported the Administration in its efforts to preserve the Union.
Hon. G. A. GROW was elected Speaker of the House; and,
on the 5th, the President communicated to Congress his first
annual message as follows :

Fellow- Citizens of the Senate and

JSbitse of Representatives :

Having been convened on an extraordinary occasion, as authorized by
the Constitution, your attention is not called to any ordinary subject of

At the beginning of the present presidential term, four months ago,
the functions of the Federal Government were found to be generally sus
pended within the several States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama,
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, excepting only those of the Post-
Office Department.

Within these States all the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, custom-houses
and the like, including the movable and stationary property in and about
them, had been seized, and were held in open hostility to this Govern
ment, excepting only Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson, on and near

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 11 of 46)