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and Elk Ridge Railroad. It might have escaped your memory, but at the official meeting between your Excellency and the Mayor of Annapolis, and the authorities of the Government and myself, it was expressly stated as the reason why I should not land, and that my troops could not land, because the company had taken up the rails, and they were private property. It is difficult to see how it could be that if my troops could not pass over the railroad one way, the members of the Legislature could pass the other way. I have taken possession for the purpose of preventing the carrying out of the threats of the mob, as officially represented to me by the master of transportation of this city, 'that if my troops passed over the railroad, the railroad should be destroyed.'
"If the government of the State had taken possession of the railroad in any emergency, I should have long waited before I entered upon it. Rut, as I had the honor to inform your Excellency in regard to insurrection against the laws of Maryland, I am here armed to maintain those laws, if your Excellency desires, and the peace of the United States, against all disorderly persons whatever. I am endeavoring to save, and not to destroy, to obtain means of transportation, so I can vacate the capital prior to the sitting of the Legislature, and not be under the painful necessity of occupying your beautiful city while the Legislature is in session. I have the honor to be your Excellency's obedient servant, Br.-Gen. B. P. Butler."
While thus resolute, however, in the
performance of his duty to the General Government, Butler was not less solicitous to uphold the institutions and support the laws of Maryland. His fastidious regard for the State was manifest on the occasion of a threatened rising of the negroes. Butler offered the aid of his troops in suppressing the rumored insurrection.
"headquarters Third Brig. Mass. V. Mil., ) Annapolis, April 23, 1861. )
"To His Excellency Thomas IL Hicks, GovErnor Of The State Of Maryland:
'' I did myself the honor, in my communication of yesterday, wherein I asked permission to land the portion of the militia of the United States under my command, to state that they were armed only against the disturbers of the peace of the State of Maryland and of the United States.
"I have understood within the last hour that some apprehensions are entertained of an insurrection of the negro population of this neighborhood. I am anxious to convince all classes of persons that the forces under my command are not here in any way to interfere with or countenance any interference with the laws of the State. I am therefore ready to co-operate with your Excellency in suppressing most promptly and effectively any insurrection against the laws of Maryland.
"I beg, therefore, that you announce publicly that any portion of the forces under my command is at your Excellency's disposal, to act immediately for the preservation and quietness of the peace of this community.
"And I have the honor to be your Excellency's obedient servant,
"benjamin F. Butler, . "General of Third Brigade."
The Governor gratefully acknowledged this tender of service, but, confident in the ability of the citizens themselves to suppress any insurrection of the slave population of Maryland, declined General Butler's conciliatory but officious offer.
The Legislature of Maryland, under the pretence that it was not safe to meet in Annapolis, the capital, while in the military possession of General Butler with Northern troops, convened at Frederick. The Governor, in his message, April gave a resume of his action, and «« after bewailing the angry disposition of the State, strove, in a strain of amiable rhetoric, to compose it by counseling gentleness, peace, and neutrality.
"It is my duty," he said, "to advise you of my own convictions of the proper course to be pursued by Maryland in the emergency which is upon us. It is of no consequence now to discuss the causes which have induced our troubles. Let us look to our distressing present and to our portentous future. The fate of Maryland, and perhaps of her sister border slave States, will undoubtedly be seriously affected by the action of your honorable body. Therefore should every good citizen bend all his energies to the task before us, and therefore should the animosities and bickerings of the past be forgotten, and all strike hands in the bold cause of restoring
peace to our State and to our country. I honestly and most earnestly entertain the conviction, that the only safety of Maryland lies in preserving a neutral position between our brethren of the North and of the South. We have violated no right of either section. We have been loyal to the Union. The unhappy contest between the two sections has not been commenced or encouraged by us, although we have suffered from it in the past. The impending war has not come by any act or any wish of ours. We have done all we could to avert it. We have hoped that Maryland and other border slave States, by their conservative position and love for the Union, might have acted as mediators between the extremes of both sections, and thus have prevented the terrible evils of a prolonged civil war. Entertaining these views, I cannot counsel Maryland to take sides against the General Government until it shall commit outrages on us which would justify us in resisting its authority. As a consequence, I can give no other counsel than that we shall array ourselves for union and peace, and thus preserve our soil from being polluted with the blood of brethren. Thus, if war must be between the North and South, we may force the contending parties to transfer the field of battle from our soil, so that our lives and property may be secure."
There was a strong disposition on the part of a majority of the Legislature of Maryland to precipitate the State into secession. Checked, however, by the increased manifestation of loyalty to the 213
DEFEAT OF SECESSION IN MARYLAND.
Union, on the part of some of their fellow-citizens, and awed by the rapid accumulation of United States troops in Maryland and in Washington, they hesitated. Meetings had, in the mean time, gathered in Baltimore and other parts of the State, and passed resolutions of loyalty to the Union. The United States flag began to be unfurled, and secession badges and colors to disappear. There was, however, in the rapid mustering of the Northern militia, a more forcible appeal in behalf of the Union. The concentration at Annapolis of a large May force, and the movement of Gens' eral Butler to the Relay House, at the junction of the Baltimore and Ohio and Baltimore and Washington railways, only seven miles south of Baltimore, and commanding its most important communications, caused even the most headstrong of the Maryland Legislature to pause before taking the dangerous step of secession to which they had been otherwise so inclined. Finding the Federal Government prepared to vindicate its authority, and fearful of bringing upon their State its armed vengeance, the secessionists gave up all hope of the direct accomplishment of their purpose,* but strove to secure its fulfilment by indirect action. Not venturing to pass an act of immediate secession, they made an effort to bring it about sooner or later through the establishment of a "Board of Public Safety," to be officered and controlled by their own friends. This board was
° A vote, however, was taken, which resulted in fiftythree against and thirteen for secession from the Union.
intended to assume the executive power of the State in place of the regularly constituted authorities, whose supposed fidelity to the Union was an obstacle to the designs of the secessionists. Thus they hoped to accomplish indirectly their fixed purpose of wresting Maryland from the Union. Their intention, however, being obvious, was at once opposed and defeated by the timely interposition of the conservatives of the State. At a convention which met at Baltimore, the jjfay following resolutions were passed: *«
''Resolved, That the Convention, in the name of the order-loving people of Baltimore, do solemnly protest against the attempt now making in the Legislature of Maryland to inaugurate a military despotism, by the enactment of a bill to create a Committee of Public Safety, which, under a profession of providing for the protection, safety, peace, and defence of the State, would, if enacted into a law, confer on an irresponsible body powers which are unconstitutional and tyrannical in principle, and which, by withdrawing from the citizen all guarantees now enjoyed for his individual security, must endanger the public peace; and in the event of the enactment of that bill, we shall esteem it our duty to avail ourselves of all constitutional remedies for defeating its execution and vindicating public liberty.
"Resolved, secondly, That the measures enacted and enacting by the Legislature are indicative of a purpose on the part of the majority thereof, to precipitate Maryland into a struggle with the constitutional authorities of the Union, and to effect, by indirect action, a result which they acknowledge they are unable to accomplish by direct legislation on the subject, and that we deprecate any efforts to change the relations at present existing between the Union and this State, by any authority whatsoever."
The secessionists of the Legislature, though thwarted in their plans of hostility, did not conceal their animosity to the Northern States and the Federal Government. When called upon by the Mayor of Baltimore for action in regard to the restoration of the communications between that city and other parts of the country, which had been closed by the destruction of railroad bridges, and the hostile attitude of the people of Maryland, a committee was appointed to consider the subject. In their report, while they confessed that "the almost total interruption of direct communication between Baltimore and the North, by destruction of bridges upon the Northern, Central, and Philadelphia railroads, is an evil very aggravated in its character, not only in itself but in its manifest bearings upon the prosperity of the State and its commercial metropolis," they could not refrain from a quasi justification of the violence which had caused it. The committee declared that "in the face of a danger which would seem inevitable, if facilities for invasion were offered to the fanatical and excited multitudes of the Northern cities, where animosity to Baltimore and Maryland is measured by no standard, and who publicly threaten our destruction, without
subordination even to the Federal authority, it could hardly be consistent with the commonest prudence to reopen the avenues which would bring them to our very doors." Adding, "that the channels of intercourse with the Northern States cannot be effectually re-established without a guarantee from some quarter of the safety and peace of Maryland," the committee recommended that this should be sought from the Federal Government.
Three commissioners were accordingly appointed to communicate with the President of the United States "in regard to the present and any proposed military use or occupation of the soil and property of the State by the General Government." Having proceeded to the capital and communicated with Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet, the commissioners duly reported the result. The report is a cautiously worded document, but the sympathy of its authors with secession is manifest, in spite of their technical adherence to the legal obligations of loyalty.
"To The Honorable General Assembly as Maryland: "The undersigned commissioners have the honor to report to the General ]jiay Assembly of Maryland that they 6« waited in person on the President of the United States on the 4th inst., and presented him with a copy of the joint resolutions adopted by your honorable body on the 2d inst. They were received by the President with respectful courtesy, and made such representations as were necessary to convey to him the sense of the General Assembly of Maryland, in relation to the occupation of the capital of the State by Federal troops, and the forcible seizure of property of the State, and of private citizens on the Annapolis Railroad, and on the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; and in this connection his attention was called to the suspension of intercourse between Baltimore and Washington, and other parts of the State with Annapolis, and the indignity put upon the State while still in the Federal Union, by such an interference with the private rights of its citizens, and by such an occupation of its soil and ways of communication by the Federal Government. Full explanations were exchanged between the undersigned and the secretary of war and secretary of state, who were present and participated in the discussion, as to the facts and circumstances rendered necessary by the extraordinary incidents accompanying the passage of the Federal troops through Maryland en route to the city of Washington, and especially in reference to those acts of the authorities of the city of Baltimore, which arrested the progress of the troops by the railroads leading from Pennsylvania and Delaware into Maryland, and of the opposition to the landing of the troops subsequently at Annapolis by the Governor of the State, and in conjunction with the action of the authorities of the State. The hostile feeling manifested by the people to the passage of these troops through Maryland was considered and treated with entire frankness by the undersigned, who, while acknowledging
REPORT OF MARYLAND COMMISSIONERS.
all the legal obligations of the State to the Federal Government, set forth fully the strength of the sympathy felt by a large portion of our people for our Southern brethren in the present crisis. Although many of the instances and circumstances referred to were regarded in different lights by the undersigned and the Federal Government, even to the extent of a difference of opinion as to some of the facts involved, yet in regard to the general principle at issue a concurrence of opinion was reached. The President concurred with the undersigned in the opinion that so long as Maryland has not taken, and was not about taking, a hostile attitude to the Federal Government, that the executive military occupation of her ways of communication, and the seizure of the property of her citizens, would be without justification ; and what has been referred to in this connection, so far as it oc- . curred,-was treated by the Government as an act of necessity and self-preservation. The undersigned did not feel themselves authorized to enter into any engagement with the Federal Government to induce it to change its relations to the State of Maryland, considering it proper under the circumstances to leave the entire discretion and responsibility of the existing state of things to that Government, making such representations as they deem proper to vindicate the moral and legal aspects of the question, and especially insisting on its obligation to relieve the State promptly from restraint and indignity, and to abstain from all action in the transportation