without but against my orders, on the very next day after the night when the removal was made, seized by a military force two of the Federal forts in the harbor of Charleston, and have covered them under their own flag instead of that of the United States. At this gloomy period of our history, startling events succeed each other rapidly. On the very day, the 27th instant, that possession of these two forts was taken, the Palmetto flag was raised over the Federal Custom-house and Post-office in Charleston; and on the same day every officer of the Customs — Collector, Naval Officer, Surveyor, and Appraiser — resigned their offices.--And this, although it was well known from the language of my message that, as an executive officer, I felt myself bound to collect the revenue at the port of Charleston, under the existing laws. In the harbor of Charleston we now find three forts confronting each other, over all of which the Federal flag floated only four days ago; but now, over two of them, this flag has been supplanted, and the Palmetto flag has been substituted in its stead. It is under all these circumstances that I am urged immediately to withdraw the troops from the harbor of Charleston, and am informed that without this negotiation is impossible. This I cannot do — this I will not do. Such an idea was never thought of by me in any. possible contingency. No such allusion had been made in any communication between myself and any human being. But the inference is that I am bound to withdraw the troops from the only fort remaining in the possession of the United States in the harbor of Charleston, because the officer there in command of all of the forts thought proper, without instructions, to change his position from one of them to another. At this point of writing, I have received information by telegraph from Capt. Humphreys, in command of the arsenal at Charleston, that “it has to-day (Sunday, the 30th) been taken by force of arms.” It is estimated that the munitions of war belonging to this arsenal arc worth half a million of dollars. Comment is needless. After this information, I have only to add, that whilst it is my duty to defend Fort Sumter, as a portion of the public property of the United States, against hostile attacks, from whatever quarter they may come, by such means as I possess for this purpose, I do not perceive how such a defense can be construed into a menace against the city of Charleston. With great personal regard I remain, yours very respectfully,
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