needed; the fortifications upon the coast would have been rendered impregnable against local attacks; and, with the exception of South Carolina, no State would have withdrawn from the Union. Such a policy was strongly recommended to Mr. Buchanan's Administration, at the time, by The New York Herald; but treason in his Cabinet, and the atrocious perfidy of many others who surrounded him, prevented his acts from corresponding with the exigencies of the period. It is better, however, late than never. * * * The time has passed for such public peace meetings, in the North, as were advocated, and might have effected some beneficial result, a few weeks since. War will make the Northern people a unit. Republicans look upon it as inevitable, and Democrats have been gradually becoming disgusted at the neglect and ingratitude with which they have been treated by a section for which they have faithfully borne the heat and burden of conflict for so many years. Fire-eaters have accustomed themselves to adopt an indiscriminate tone of hostility toward citizens of the non-slaveholding States, which would have, long ago, alienated their friends, but that the party attachment of the latter has been founded upon principles, not recklessly to be abandoned. The policy adopted by Mr. Lincoln, as set forth in his Proclamation and his speech to the Virginia Commissioners, is, on the whole, approved by the masses of the community. It cannot harm the North eventually; and, if the damage it may inflict upon the South is to be regretted. it will be none the less well, if it secures final peace to the country.That those who for years had zealously maintained that a simple adherence to the policy of Jefferson with regard to the exclusion of Slavery from the territories was an unwarranted and unjustifiable war upon “ the South,” impelled by “ fanaticism” and “sectional” hate, should, by the mere crashing of a few balls against the walls of a Federal fortress, be converted to an entirely different view of the past and present attitude of the combatants, was not to be expected. That the hated ‘Abolitionists’ were the real, responsible, culpable authors of the long foreseen and deeply deplored collision, was doubtless still the belief of thousands who saw no adequate reason for insisting on it at this juncture, and in whose minds indignation at the Secessionists, not only as factious and unpatriotic, but as untrue and ungrateful to their “ conservative” friends in the Free States, for the moment overbore all countervailing considerations. But, despite this undertone of demur and dissatisfaction, it is certain that the North had never before seemed so nearly and enthusiastically unanimous and determined as in devotion to the maintenance of the Union for the month or two succeeding the reduction of Fort Sumter. Very different was the impression made on the public mind of the South by the same occurrences — strikingly diverse was the reception there accorded to the President's Proclamation. On the evening of April 12th, the Confederates congregated at their capital, Montgomery, held high carnival over the tidings that Beauregard had, by order, opened fire that morning on Fort Sumter. As was natural, their Secretary of War, Mr. Leroy Pope Walker, was called out for a speech, and, in his response, predicted that the Confederate flag would float, before the 1st of May, over Washington City,1 as it might, ultimately, over Faneuil Hall itself.
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1 The New York Herald of April 10th, after proclaiming in its “ leader” that “ civil war is close at hand,” and announcing that Lieut. Talbot had been stopped in Charleston on his return from Washington to Major Anderson in Fort Sumter says:
Anticipating, then, the speedy inauguration of civil war at Charleston, at Pensacola, or in Texas, or, perhaps, at all these places, the inquiry is forced upon us, What will be the probable consequences? We apprehend that they will be: first, the secession of Virginia and the other border Slave States, and their union with the Confederate States; secondly, the organization of an army for the removal of the United States ensign and authorities from every fortress or public building within the Confederate States, including the White House, the capitol, and other public buildings at Washington. After the secession of Virginia from the United States, it is not likely that Maryland can be restrained from the same decisive act. She will follow the fortunes of Virginia, and will undoubtedly claim that, in withdrawing from the United States, the District of Columbia reverts into her possession under the supreme right of revolution. Here we have verge and scope enough for a civil war of five, ten. or twenty years duration. What for? To “show that we have a Government” --to show that the seceded States are still in our Union, and are still subject to its laws and authorities. This is the fatal mistake of Mr. Lincoln, and his Cabinet, and his party. The simple truth — patent to all the world — is, that the seceded States are out of the Union, and are organized under an independent Government of their own. The authority of the United States, within the borders of this independent Confederacy, has been completely superseded, except in a detached fort here and there. We desire to restore this displaced authority in its full integrity. How is this to be done? By entering into a war with the seceded States for the continued occupation of those detached forts? No. A war will only widen the breach, and enlarge and consolidate this Southern Confederacy, on the one hand; while, on the other hand, it will bring ruin upon the commerce, the manufactures, the financial and industrial interests, of our Northern cities and States, and may end in an oppressive military despotism. How then are we to restore these seceded States to the Union? We can do it only by conciliation and compromise.
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