Doc. I.--reply of the Governor of Maryland to the Commissioner from Mississippi.
Governor of Mississippi, in pursuance of a resolution of her Legislature, a Commissioner to the State of Maryland, and that the occasion of your mission is in the present crisis in the national affairs of this country, and the danger which impends the safety and rights of the Southern States, by reason of the election of a sectional candidate to the office of President of the United States, and upon a platform of principles destructive of our constitutional rights and which, in the opinion of the State of Mississippi, calls for prompt and decisive action, for the purpose of our protection and future security. You also inform me that Mississippi desires the co-operation of her sister States of the South in measures necessary to defend our rights; and to this end, you desire to know whether I will convene the Legislature of Maryland for the purpose of counselling with the constituted authorities of the State of Mississippi, and at what time it may be expected our General Assembly will be called for that purpose. In the conversation I had with you this morning, you were good enough to explain more fully the views and intentions of Mississippi in this matter — her desire that our Legislature should also appoint Commissioners to meet those of other Southern States; and that action at once be had by all — the Southern States for the formation of a new Government along themselves. The position of Maryland, as a small Southern Border State, renders the exercise of any power I may possess, for the purpose indicated by you, a matter of very grave importance. Our State is unquestionably identified with the Southern States, in feeling and by the institutions and habits which prevail among us. But she is also conservative, and, above all things devoted to the Union of these States under the Constitution. Her people will use all honorable means to preserve and perpetuate these. I think I know the sentiments of her citizens in this matter, and that I am not mistaken when I say that, almost unanimously, they intend to uphold that Union, and to maintain their rights under it — that they believe these last will yet be admitted and secured; and that not until it is certain they will be respected no longer — not until every-honorable, Constitutional, and lawful effort to secure them is exhausted — will they consent to any effort for its dissolution. The people of Maryland are anxious that time be given, and an opportunity afforded, for a fair and honorable adjustment of the difficulties and grievances of which they, more than the people of any other Southern State have a right to complain, And, in my opinion, if the people of this Union really desire its continuance and perpetuity, such adjustment may be effected. I hope and believe it will be effected — and promptly. And until the effort is found to be in vain, I cannot consent, by any precipitate or revolutionary action, to aid in the dismemberment of this Union. When I shall see clearly that there is no hope of such adjustment, and am convinced that the power of the Federal Government is to be perverted to the destruction instead of being used for the protection of our rights — then, and not till then, can I consent so to exercise any power with which I am invested, as to afford even the opportunity for such a proceeding. Whatever powers I may have I shall use only after full consultation, and in fraternal concert, with the other Border States; since we and they, in the event of any dismemberment of the Union, will suffer more than all others combined. I am now in correspondence with the Governors of those States, and I await with solicitude for the indications of the course to be pursued by them. When this is made known to me, I shall be ready to take such steps as our duty and interest shall demand, and I do not doubt the people of Maryland are ready to go with the people of those States for weal or woe. I fully agree with all that you have said as to the necessity for protection to the rights of the South; and my sympathies are entirely with the gallant people of Mississippi, who stand ready to resent any infringement of those rights. But I earnestly hope they will act with prudence as well as with courage. Let us show moderation as well as firmness, and be unwilling to resort to extreme measures until necessity shall leave us no choice. I am unable to inform you when the Legislature of this State will be called together, for until I can perceive the necessity for such a step I am not willing to awake the apprehension and excite the alarm which such a call at the present time could not fail to create. I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,