incompatible, that it was scarcely possible that they should seriously engage in a negotiation, much less bring it to a happy issue.
It was much as if a plenipotentiary should address the government to which he was accredited in Greek
, knowing no other tongue, and his dispatch be received and answered by one who was equally ignorant of any language but Choctaw
The only possible result of such diplomacy is a postponement of hostilities; and that seems, in this case, to have been achieved: for the Confederate
envoys, in shaking from their feet the dust of Washington
and returning to their own “nation,” addressed, on the 9th of April, a vituperative letter to Gov. Seward
, whereof all that is not mere rhetoric, of a peculiarly Southern stamp, or has not already been herein stated, is as follows:
The undersigned clearly understand that you have declined to appoint a day to enable them to lay the objects of the mission with which they are charged before the President of the United States, because so to do would be to recognize the independence and separate nationality of the Confederate States.
This is the vein of thought that pervades the memorandum before us. The truth of history requires that it should distinctly appear upon the record that the undersigned did not ask the Government of the United States to recognize the independence of the Confederate States.
They only asked an audience to adjust, in a spirit of amity and peace, the new relations springing from a manifest and accomplished revolution in the government of the late Federal Union.
Your refusal to entertain these overtures for a peaceful solution, the active naval and military preparations of this Government, and a formal notice to the commanding general of the Confederate forces in the harbor of Charleston that the President intends to provision Fort Sumter, by forcible means, if necessary, are viewed by the undersigned, and can only be received by the world, as a declaration of war against the Confederate States; for the President of the United States knows that Fort Sumter cannot be provisioned without the effusion of blood.
The undersigned, in behalf of their Government and people, accept the gage of battle thus thrown down to them; and, appealing to God and the judgment of mankind for the righteousness of their cause, the people of the Confederate States will defend their liberties to the last against this flagrant and open attempt at their subjugation to sectional power.
As the world has not been gratified with a sight of the credentials and instructions of these gentlemen, it may be discourteous to assume that their eagerness to “accept the gage of battle” carried them beyond the strict limits of their powers and duties; but the subtile casuistry which enabled them to discriminate between a recognition of Confederate independence and an “audience to adjust the new relations springing from a manifest and accomplished revolution,” might have secured to them fame and fortune in some more poetic and imaginative vocation.
As the Commissioners
seem to apprehend that they would be charged with a lack of energy if it should be understood that they had allowed the Government
of the United States
nearly four weeks wherein to decide between recognizing — or, if they choose, admitting and acting upon — the independence of the Confederate States
, and an acceptance of the “gage of battle,” it may be requisite to give one more extract from their valedictory, as follows:
This delay was assented to for the express purpose of attaining the great end of the mission of the undersigned, to wit: a pacific solution of existing complications.
The inference, deducible from the date of your memorandum, that the undersigned had, of their own volition and without cause, consented to this long hiatus in the grave duties with which they were charged, is therefore not consistent with a just exposition of the facts of the case.
The intervening twenty-three days were employed in active unofficial efforts, the object of