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[442] President on the threshold: “What means have I at command wherewith to compel obedience to the laws?” Now, the War Department had, for nearly eight years prior to the last few weeks, been directed successively by Jefferson Davis and John B. Floyd. The better portion of our little army had been ordered by Floyd to Texas, and there put under the command of Gen. Twiggs, by whom it had already been betrayed into the hands of his fellow-traitors. The arms of the Union had been sedulously transferred by Floyd from the Northern to the Southern arsenals. The most effective portion of the Navy had, in like manner, been dispersed over distant seas. But, so early as the 21st of March, at the close of a long and exciting Cabinet session, it appears to have been definitively settled that Fort Sumter was not to be surrendered without a struggle; and, though Col. G. W. Lay, an Aid of Gen. Scott, had visited Charleston on the 20th, and had a long interview with Gov. Pickens and Gen. Beauregard, with reference, it was said, to the terms1 on which Fort Sumter should be evacuated, if evacuated at all, the 25th brought to Charleston Col. Ward H. Lamon, a confidential agent of the President, who, after an interview with the Confederate authorities, was permitted to visit the fort, and hold unrestricted intercourse with Major Anderson, who apprised the Government through him that their scanty stock of provisions would suffice his little garrison only till the middle of April. Col. Lamon returned immediately to Washington, and was said to have reported there, that, in Major Anderson's opinion as well as in his own, the relief of the fortress was impracticable.

By this time, however, very decided activity began to be manifest in the Navy Yards still held by the Union. Such ships of war as were

1 The New York Herald of April 9th has a dispatch from its Washington correspondent, confirming one sent twenty-four hours earlier to announce the determination of the Executive to provision Fort Sumter, which thus explains the negotiations, and the seeming hesitation, if not vacillation, of March:

The peace policy of the Administration has been taken advantage of by the South, while, at the same time, their representatives have been here begging the President to keep hands off. While he was holding back, in the hope that a forbearing disposition, on the part of the authorities of the seceded States, would be manifested, to his great surprise, he found that, instead of peace, they were investing every fort and navy yard with Rebel troops and fortifications, and actually preparing to make war upon the Federal Government. Not only this, but, while the Administration was yielding to the cry against coercion, for the purpose, if possible, of averting the calamity of civil war, the very men who were loudest against coercion were preparing for it; the Government was losing strength with the people; and the President and his Cabinet were charged with being imbecile and false to the high trust conferred upon them.

At last, they have determined to enforce the laws, and to do it vigorously; but not in an aggressive spirit. When the Administration determined to order Major Anderson out of Fort Sumter, some days since, they also determined to do so on one condition: namely, that the fort and the property in it should not be molested, but allowed to remain as it is. The authorities of the Confederacy would not agree to this, but manifested a disposition to get possession of the fort and United States property therein. The Government would not submit to any such humiliation.

It was immediately determined to keep Major Anderson in Fort Sumter, and to supply him with provisions forthwith. * * * There is no desire to put additional men into the fort, unless resistance is offered to the attempt to furnish Major Anderson with supplies. The fleet will not approach Charleston with hostile intent; but, in view of the great military prepay rations about Fort Sumter, the supply vessel will go prepared to reply promptly to any resistance of a warlike character that may be offered to a peaceful approach to the fort. The responsibility of opening the war will be thrown upon the parties who set themselves in defiance to the Government. It is sincerely hoped, by the Federal authorities here, that the leaders of the secessionists will not open their batteries.

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