Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

. (page 17 of 42)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 42)
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the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the
Unio i be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to bo
onlf a simple duty on my part; and I shall perform it, so far as practica
ble, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the
requisite means, or, in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary. J
trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared pur
pose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

In doing this there need be no bloodshed or violence ; and there shall
be none, unless it be forced upon the National authority. The power con
fided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and
places belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties and im
posts; but beyond what may be but necessary for these objects, there will
be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.
Where hostility to the United States, in any interior locality, shall be so
great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from hold
ing the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious stran
gers among the people for that object. While tho strict legal right may
exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the
attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable withal,
I deem it better to forego, for the time, the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of
the Union. So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that senso
of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought and reflection.
The course here indicated will be followed, unless current events and ex
perience shall show a modification or change to be proper, and in every
case and exigency my best discretion will be. exercised, according to cir
cumstances actually existing, and with a view and a hope of a peaceful
solution of the National troubles, and the restoration of fraternal sympa
thies and affections.

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy
the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will


affirm nor deny; but if there be such, T need address no word to them.
To those, however, who really love the Union, may T not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our
National fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it
not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so des
perate a step while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you
fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly
to are greater than all the real ones you fly from will you risk the coin
mission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union, if all constitutional rights can
be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, plainly "written in the
Constitution, has been denied? I think not. Happily the human mind
is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this.
Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision
of the Constitution has ever been denied. If, by the mere force of num
bers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written consti
tutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution
certainly would if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case.
All the vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured
to them by affirmations and negations, guarantees and prohibitions in the
Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But no
organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to
every question which may occur in practical administration. No fore
sight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain, ex
press provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be
surrendered by National or by State authority? The Constitution does
not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The
Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in
the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies,
and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority
will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease.
There is no other alternative; for continuing the Government is acquie*
?ence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede
rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, will divide
and ruin them; for a minority of their own will secede from them when
ever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance,
\vhy may not any portion of a new Confederacy, a year or two hence,
arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now
claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now
being educated to the exact temper of doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to com
pose a new Union, as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed
secession ?

i iuinly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A


majority held in restraint by constitutional checks a:ul limitations, and
ilways changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and
jentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever reject!
(t, does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is im
possible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly
inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despot
ism, in some form, is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional ques-
iions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that sucb
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
*nd consideration in all parallel cases, by all other departments of the
Government. And while it is obviously possible that such decisions n .ay
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 overrated,
and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne tl an
could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the can lid
citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital
questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by de
cisions 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 in this view any assault upon the Court or 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 tho
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 the
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 botl cases, after the separation of the sections than befcre. The
foreign slave-trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be i Ltimately
revived, without restriction, in one section ; while fugitive slaves, novr
only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by tho other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our re
spective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between
them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence
and beyond the reach of each other ; but the different parts of our coun
try cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face ; and inter
course, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Jl M


impossible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more
satisfactory after separation than before. Can aliens make treaties easier
f ban friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully 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
nc gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, &s to
terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit
*t. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they
an 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 the domestic insti
tutions 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
apeak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a pro
vision 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 ol
the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our
present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right I
If the Almighty Euler 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 Dub>5c servants but little power for mischief, and


have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their
own hands at very short intervals. While the people 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

My countrymen, one arid 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 nr
good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfies,
still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive poir.t,
the laws of your own framing under it ; while the new Administration
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, i
the momentous issues 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 de
fend "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 th^ig,
gave satisfaction to the loyal people of the whole coun
try. It was seen, everywhere, that while President Lin
coln felt constrained, by the most solemn obligations
of duty, to maintain the authority of the Government of
the United States over all the territory within its juris
diction, 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 violence or
offensive warfare upon the seceded States. In the Border
States its reception was in the main satisfactory. But, a?


a matter of course, in those States, as elsewhere through
out the South, the secession leaders gave it the most
hostile construction. 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

The President s first act was to construct his Cabinet,
which was done by the appointment of William H. Sew-
ard v 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 Con
necticut, Secretary of the Navy ; Caleb B. Smith, of In
diana, Secretary of the Interior; Montgomery Blair, of
Maryland, Postmaster-General ; 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 Ala
bama, 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 commis
sioners from a government 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. Sew-
ard, 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 Fed
eral Union, or that they could do so in any other manner
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
Constitution 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
diameter, 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, General 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
ernor Pickens and himself that provisions would be sent
to Fort Sumter peaceably, or, otherwise, by force. " Gen
eral Beauregard was instructed to demand the surrender
of the fort, which he did on the llth, and was at once in
formed 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
General 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, meantime, by the terms
proposed, unless he should "receive, prior to that, control
ling instructions from his Government, or additional sup
plies." In reply to this note he was notified, at half-past
three, that the rebels would open their batteries 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 effect of this open act of war was, in some respects,
precisely what had been anticipated by the rebel authori
ties : in other respects, it was very different. Upon the
Southern States it had the effect of arousing public senti
ment to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and of strength
ening the rebel cause. At the North, it broke down,
for the moment, all party distinctions, and united the


people in a cordial and hearty support, of the Govern

The President regarded it as an armed attack upon the
Government of the United States, in support of the com
bination which had been organized into a Confederacy to
resist and destroy its authority, and he saw, at once, that
it could be mef 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

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 seventy-
five thousand, 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
citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the
integrity, 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 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 a^oid
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 extra
ordinary 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 respective
at twelve o^clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July


next, then and there to consider and determine ^uch 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
independence of the United States the eighty -fifth.

By the President.
WILLIAM H. SEWAED, Secretary of State.

The issue of tins Proclamation created the most intense
enthusiasm throughout the country. Scarcely a voice
\vas 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 Northern State responded promptly to the Presi
dent s demand, and from private persons, as well as by
the legislatures, men, arms, and money were offered, 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 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 per
vaded the country. The w^hole Northern section of the
Union felt outraged that troops should be assailed, and
murdered on their way to protect the Capital of the Na
tion. In Maryland, where the Secession party was
strong, there was also great excitement, and the Governor
of the State and the Mayor of Baltimore united in urging
for prudential reasons, that no more troops should be
brought through that city. To their representation
President made the following roply :


WASHINGTON, April 2, 1861.

Governor HICKS and Mayor BROWN :

GENTLEMEN : Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin, and Bruno 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. He 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, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

And in further response to the same request from Gov
ernor Hicks, followed by a suggestion that the contro
versy between the North and South might be referred to
Lord Lyons, the British Minister, for arbitration, Presi

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 42)