previous next

[9] it put a stop to the current of emancipation, which will be hereafter narrated.

Reference has been made to our want of a navy, and the efforts made to supply the deficiency. The usual resort under such circumstances to privateers was, in our case, without the ordinary incentive of gain, as all foreign ports were closed against our prizes, and, our own ports being soon blockaded, our vessels, public or private, had but the alternative of burning or bonding their captures. To those who, nevertheless, desired them, letters of marque were granted by us, and there was soon a small fleet of vessels composed of those which had taken out these letters, and others which had been purchased and fitted out by the Navy Department. They hovered on the coasts of the Northern states, capturing and destroying their vessels, and filling the enemy with consternation. The President of the United States had already declared in his proclamation of April 19th, as above stated, that ‘any person, who, under the pretended authority of the said (Confederate) States, should molest a vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board,’ should be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the prevention of piracy. This was another violation of international law, another instance of arrogant disregard for universal opinion. The threat, if meant for intimidation, and to deprive the Confederacy of one of the usual weapons of war, was unbecoming the head of a government. To have executed it upon a helpless prisoner would have been a crime intensified by its cowardice. Happily for the United States, the threat was not executed, but the failure to carry out the declared purpose was coupled with humiliation, because it was the result of a notice to retaliate as fully as might need be to stop such a barbarous practice. To yield to the notice thus served was a practical admission by the United States government that the Confederacy had become a power among the nations.

On June 3, 1861, the little schooner Savannah, previously a pilot boat in Charleston harbor and sailing under a commission issued by authority of the Confederate States, was captured by the United States brig Perry. The crew was placed in irons and sent to New York. It appeared, from statements made without contradiction, that they were not treated as prisoners of war, whereupon a letter was addressed by me to President Lincoln, dated July 6th, stating explicitly that, ‘painful as will be the necessity, this Government will deal out to the prisoners held by it the same treatment and the same fate as shall be experienced by those captured on the Savannah; and, if driven to the terrible necessity of retaliation by your execution of any of the officers or crew of the Savannah, ’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (6)
Savannah (Georgia, United States) (2)
Charleston Harbor (South Carolina, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Benjamin F. Perry (1)
Abraham Lincoln (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 3rd, 1861 AD (1)
July 6th (1)
April 19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: