Page images
PDF
EPUB

this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war upon the rights of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina." Governor Jackson, of Missouri, answered, "There can be, I apprehend, no doubt but these men are intended to form part of the President's army to make war upon the people of the seceding States. Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional and revolutionary in its objects, altogether inhuman and diabolical, and cannot be complied with. Not one man will Missouri furnish to carry on such au unholy crusade." Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, replied, "In answer, I say emphatically, that Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States." Governor Letcher, of Virginia, answered, "I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the SouthernStates, and a requisition made upon me for such an object—an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution, or the Act of 1795—will not be complied wiin. feu have chosen to maugurat* civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited toward the South." Governor Harris, of Tennessee, refused, in terms equally explicit, to comply with the requisition of the Government. In his Message to the Legislature, dated April 25, he takes strong ground against the action of the Administration, which he says is designed for the subjugation of the Southern States. He Tecommended the immediate passage of an Act of Secession, and an'Act for the union of Tennessee with the Southern Confederacy, both to be submitted separately to the people at an early day. He also recommended an appropriation for arming the State, and the creation of a large military fund, to be placed under the direction of a special board.

The position of Virginia is of the greatest importance to a thorough understanding of the difficulties in which the country was placed. At the breaking out of hostilities, the State Convention was in session. A resolution was passed, expressing an earnest desire for the re-estab'ishment of the Union in its former integrity: an amendment, declaring that Virginia ought not to accept a form of adjustment which *-ould not be acceptable to the seceding States, was rejected. Commissioners were appointed to wait on the President, and ascertain the policy which he intended to pursue. An amendment, denying the right of the Federal Government to deal with the question of secession, was rejected. A resolution was adopted, expressing a willingness that the independence of the seceding States should be acknowledged. An amendment, declaring that Virginia would secede in case the proposed amendments to the Constitution were rejected by the non-slaveholding States, was lost. And resolutions were adopted, opposing any action on the part of the Federal Government for retaining or retaking forts in the seceding States, and affirming, that any measures of the Government, tending to produce hostilities with the Confederate States, would leave Virginia free to determine her own future policy. When the proclamation of the President, calling for troops, was issued, the Convention went into secret session, on the 17th of April, passed an ordinance to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United Stat«s, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under such Constitution.

When the proclamation was received at Montgomery, President Davis issued a proclamation, dated on the 17th of April, inviting all persons to apply for letters of marque and reprisal, to be issued under the seal of the Confederate States. President Lincoln thereupon, on the 19th, issued a proclamation, announcing the blockade of all the ports of the seceding States, and that a competent force would be stationed to prevent the entrance and exit of vessels at these ports. On the 27th, the President issued a proclamation extending the blockade to the ports of North Carolina and Virginia. It was announced that the blockade would be maintained by at least fifty vessels of war, accompanied by a fleet of steam transports, capable of conveying an army of 20,000 men. On the 3d of May the President issued another proclamation, calling into service 42,000 volunteers to serve for a period of three years, unless sooner discharged; ordering that the regular army should be increased by 22,714 men ;'and directing the enlistment, for the naval force of-lhe United States, of 18,000 seamen, for a period of not less than one or more than three years.

The Congress of the Confederate States met at Montgomery on the 29th of April. The message of President Davis announced that the permanent Constitution had been ratified by a sufficient number of States to render it valid, and that it only remained to elect officers under its provisions. The message of President Lincoln, calling for volunteers, was characterized as a declaration of war, which will render it necessary to adopt measures to replenish the treasury of the Confederation, and provide for the defence of the country. Proposals had been issued, inviting subscriptions for a loan of five millions; more than eight millions was subscribed for, none under par. The whole amount had been ordered to be accepted; and it was now necessary to raise a much larger sum. The Confederate States had in the field, at Charleston, Pensacola, and different forts, 19,000 men, and 16,000 were M route for Virginia. It was proposed to organize and hold in readiness an army of 100,000 men. "We seek no conquest," says Mr. Davis, "no aggrandizement, no concession from the Free States. All that we ask is to be let alone; that none shall attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will, and must, resist to the direst extremity. The moment this pretension is abandoned, the sword will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of amity and commerce mutually beneficial." In the meanwhile warlike and aggressive measures had been pushed forward with all possible activity. The forces besieging Fort Pickens had been augmented, and new batteries had been constructed against it. Vessels belonging to the government and to individuals had been seized. Among these was the steamer Star of the West, which had been dispatched to Indianola, Texas, to bring away the United States troops collected at that port. The vessel was lying at anchor, awaiting the arrival of the troops. At midnight, of the 19th of April, the steamer Rusk approached, and the captain of the Star of the West was informed that she had on board 320 United States troops, which were to be embarked.

Every assistance was given for the reception of the supposed soldiers, who, however, proved to be Texan troops. As soon as they were on board they took possession of the steamer, which was taken to New Orleans, the crew being detained as prisoners of war. Shortly after, 450 of the United States troops attempted to make their escape from Indianola on board of two sailing vessels. They were pursued by two armed steamers, manned by the Texans, overtaken, and made prisoners.

The loyal States had not only been patriotic in sending troops to the capital, but in supplying money also. The Legislature of New York appropriated three millions of dollars for arming and equipping troops; Connecticut appropriated two millions; Vermont one million; New Jersey two millions, and other States in proportion. The Common Council of the city of New York appropriated one million. Besides the public appropriations, in every considerable town and city private subscriptions were made for the same purposes, and to support the families of volunteers. The aggregate of the sums thus furnished was estimated at twenty-five millions—all raised in a few days.

Meantime the Confederate government had adjourned on the 20th of May to meet in Richmond, Virginia, on the 20th of July, or some other convenient place to be selected by the President.

On the 6th of May an act was passed "recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States, and concerning letters of marque, prizes, and prize goods." This act gave the President of the Confederate States authority to use the whole land and naval forces of the Confederacy to meet the war thus commenced, and to issue letters of marque and reprisal against the vessels and property of the United States and their citizens, with the exception of the States belonging to the Confederation or expected to join it. «

An act was passed prohibiting the export of cotton or cotton yarn from any of the Confederate States except through the sea-porta. It was proposed in Congress that the cotton planters should be invited to put their crops in the hands of the government, receiving bonds for its value, the government to dispose of it in Europe for cash. The Postmaster-General, on the 1st of June, took charge of the transmission of the mails in the Confederate States; and the Postmaster-General of the United States announced that on that day postal communication would close with the seceding States, with the exception of some counties in Western Virginia. All letters for these States were sent to the Dead Letter Office at Washington.

Two more States—Arkansas and North Carolina—had formally seceded from the Union, and joined the Confederate States. In Arkansas the State Convention, on the 18th of April, had passed an ordinance submitting the question of secession to the people, at an election to be held on the 3d of August. When the requisition of President Lincoln was lecei/ed, Governoi Rector, on the 22d cx April, leplitd to the Secretary of War, " 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. The people of this Commonwealth are freemen and not slaves, and will defend to the last extremity their honor, lives and property against Northern mendacity and usurpation." On the same day the Governor gave orders for the seizure at Napoleon of a large quantity of military supplies belonging to the United States. On the 6th of May, the Convention, which had re-assembled, unanimously passed an ordinance of secession.

Tennessee also virtually, though not in form, joined the Southern Confederacy. The Legislature passed a Declaration of Independence, which was to be submitted to the people on the 8th of June. Meanwhile a military league had been formed with the Confederate government, in virtue of which the forces of Tennessee were to be employed to aid the Confederate States.

In Kentucky a determined effort was made to preserve a strict neutrality. Governor Magoffin, as before noted, refused peremptorily to comply with the President's requisition for troops. On the 20th of May he issued a proclamation declaring that every indication of public sentiment in Kentucky showed a fixed determination of the people to take neither side, but to maintain a posture of self-defence, forbidding the quartering upon her soil of troops from either section, in the hope that the State might yet become a mediator between the parties. He therefore warned all States, whether separate or united, and especially the Confederate and the United States, against any armed occupation within the State of Kentucky, without the permission of the Legislature and Executive authorities. All citizens of Kentucky were forbidden to make any demonstration against either of the sovereignties, but were directed to make prompt and efficient preparations for the defence of the State. Of similar purport were the proceedings of the "Border States Convention," held at Frankfort. Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas, having joined the Southern Confederacy, of course sent no delegates; none appeared from Maryland, and only one from Tennessee, and four from Missouri. The remainder were from Kentucky. Senator Crittenden was chosen President.. Two addresses, one to the people of the United States, and the other to the people of Kentucky, were adopted. The essential point in the first address is the recommendation that Congress would propose snch Constitutional amendments as should secure the legal rights of slaveholders; and if this should fail to bring about a pacification, that a Convention be called composed of delegates from all the States, to devise measures of peaceable adjustment.

The address to the people of Kentucky defended the action of the Executive in refusing troops to the Federal Government, as called for by the peculiar circumstances in which the State was placed. "In all things," says the address, "she is as loyal as ever to the constitutional administration of the government. She will follow the stars and stripes to the utmost regions of the earth, and defend it from foreign insult. She refuses alliance with any who would destroy the Union. All she asks is permission to keep out of this unnatural strife. She has announced her intention to refrain from aggression upon others, and she must protest against her soil being made the theatre of military operations by any belligerent." The address goes on to censure the conduct of the States who have withdrawn from the Union, affirming that there was in the Constitution a remedy for every wrong, and provisions to check every encroachment by the majority upon the minority. In withdrawing the States committed " a great wrong, for which they must answer to posterity. But Kentucky remained true to herself, contending with all her might for what were considered to be the rights of the people, and although one after another of the States that should have been by her side ungenerously deserted her, leaving her almost alone in the field, yet she did not surrender her rights under the Constitution, and never would surrender them. She would appear again in the Congress of the United States, not having conceded the least atom of power to the Government that had not heretofore been granted, and retaining every power she had reserved. She would insist upon her constitutional rights in the Union, and not out of it." The address went on to say that if the war should be transferred to Kentucky, her destruction would be the inevitable result; "and even the institution to preserve or control which the wretched war was undertaken, would be exterminated, in the general ruin."

o

« PreviousContinue »