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[430] often been the immediate precursor of a halcyon era of reconciliation, peace, and fraternal harmony. It was not easy for Northern men, especially those who had never visited and sojourned at the South, to comprehend and realize the wide prevalence and intensity of anti-National sentiment and feeling in those localities whose social order, industry, and business, were entirely based on Slavery. Neither envying nor hating the Southerners, while lamenting their delusions and resisting their exactions, it was hard indeed for many, if not most, of the citizens of the Free States to realize that we stood on the brink of a volcano whose rumblings preluded an eruption of blood as well as ashes.

Scarcely a week after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, his Secretary of State was served with the following:

Washington, March 12, 1861.
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States:
Sir:--The undersigned have been duly accredited by the Government of the Confederate States of America as Commissioners to the Government of the United States, and, in pursuance of their instructions, have now the honor to acquaint you with that fact, and to make known, through you, to the President of the United States, the objects of their presence in this Capital.

Seven States of the late Federal Union having, in the exercise of the inherent right of every free people to change or reform their political institutions, and through Conventions of their people, withdrawn from the United States, and reassumed the attributes of sovereign power, delegated to it, have formed a Government of their own. The Confederate States constitute an independent nation, de facto and de jure, and possess a Government perfect in all its parts and endowed with all the means of self-support.

With a view to a speedy adjustment of all questions growing out of this political separation, upon such terms of amity and good — will as the respective interests, geographical contiguity, and future welfare, of the two nations may render necessary, the undersigned are instructed to make to the Government of the United States overtures for the opening of negotiations, assuring the Government of the United States that the President, Congress, and people of the Confederate States earnestly desire a peaceable solution of these great questions; that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make any demand which is not founded in strict justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.

The undersigned have now the honor, in obedience to the instructions of their Gov eminent, to request you to appoint as early a day as possible, in order that they may present to the President of the United States the credentials which they bear and the objects of the mission with which they are charged.

We are, very respectfully,

Your obedient servants,

To this virtual Declaration of War, under the guise of an overture looking to negotiation, settlement, and amity, Gov. Seward responded as follows :1


Department of State, Washington, March 15, 1861.
Mr. John Forsyth, of the State of Alabama, and Mr. Martin J. Crawford, of the State of Georgia, on the 11th inst., through the kind offices of a distinguished Senator, submitted to the Secretary of State their desire for an unofficial interview. This request was, on the 12th inst., upon exclusively public considerations, respectfully declined.

On the 13th inst., while the Secretary was preoccupied, Mr. A. D. Banks, of Virginia, called at this Department, and was received by the Assistant Secretary, to whom lie delivered a sealed communication, which he had been charged by Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford to present to the Secretary in person.

In that communication, Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford inform the Secretary of State that they have been duly accredited by the Government of the Confederate States of America as Commissioners to the Government

1 This reply was withheld, upon consultation with John A. Campbell, of Alabama, (then and till May 2d thereafter a Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court,) until twenty-three days subsequent to its date. Judge C. would seem to have been,even then, acting as a Confederate, despite his oath of office, though misunderstood by Gov. S. as laboring to preserve the Union.

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