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[305] arms, and other property of the United States; in seizing upon our ungarrisoned forts; in making open war upon such as refused to surrender; in firing upon, and in some instances actually degrading, the flag of our country; and in schemes and projects boastfully announced in the public press, and partially acted out in military preparations, to seize this capital by violence, and break up the Government.

Your letter does not in terms assert, but by necessary implication assumes, that this Administration can, if it will, restore the peace of the country, by the cheap and easy experiment of issuing a proclamation “proposing a truce of hostilities and the immediate assembling of a national convention!” It seems to me, my dear sir, that there are some serious objections to this cheap plan of peace; and first, the President has no power to call a national convention. Second, if he did call it, there is not the remotest probability that the insurgent States would obey the call. Third, if they did obey it, there is little hope that they would agree to come in equal terms with the other States, by recanting their recent assumptions of separate and absolute sovereignty, and by restoring all that they have taken by violence from the United States. In short, after all that is past, it seems to me that there are but two alternatives left to this Administration: first, to submit implicitly to all the claims of the insurgent States, and quietly consent to a dismemberment of the nation; or second, to do its best to restore peace, law, and order, by supporting “the Constitution and the Union, and the enforcement of the laws.” Let the nation judge which horn of the dilemma the Administration ought to take, in view of all its obligations in regard to the permanent interests of the country, and to its own patriotism and constitutional duty.

I am amazed at the course of things in Virginia. Your convention was not called to dissolve the Union, nor trusted with the power of secession. By the act of its creation that sovereign power was reserved to the people of Virginia. Yet as soon as the convention had secretly acted upon the subject, without any promulgation of the ordinance, and while the people were yet ignorant of its existence, the executive officers of Virginia rushed, incontinently, into open war against the United States. They endeavored to obstruct the harbor of Norfolk, in order to secure the plunder of the Navy Yard at Gosport, and sent a military power to complete the work of its spoliation. The enterprise failed indeed to clutch the spoil, but it caused the destruction of millions of dollars' worth of public property. The same thing was, substantially, done at Harper's Ferry. Virginia troops were marched upon the place to seize the arsenal. They did not get possession, as John Brown did, only because the vigilant little garrison, knowing its inability to resist such superior numbers, destroyed the property and made good its retreat. They menaced this capital by open threats of military force, by obstructing the roads leading to it, and by active endeavors to command the navigation of the Potomac. And all this was done while the State, according to the letter of its own law, remained a member of the Union. Think you, my dear sir, that men who do these things in open day, and in contempt of the rights and powers of the people of Virginia, have such a reverence for “reason, order, law, liberty, morality, and religion,” as to give much heed to the President's “proclamation proposing a truce?” I lack the faith to believe it.

In conclusion, I assure you in all sincerity that I do deeply sympathize in your present distress. I love the people of my native State, and mourn over the guilt and wretchedness into which they thoughtlessly allow themselves to be plunged by their reckless misleaders,

With long cherished respect and regard,

I remain your obedient servant,

Second letter.

my dear Sir :--In answer to your letter of May 2d I have not and ought not to have much to say. This much, however, both my inclination and my duty require me to say, my personal respect for you remains undiminished. My friendly feelings toward you are not only not diminished, but are made more deep and tender by the distressing circumstances which surround you. And these facts make me regret very much that I should have been compelled by circumstances to write you such a letter as to inflict any pain or mortification, and especially to the degree indicated by your answer, and explained more at large by the friend who bore it. I disclaim all intention to wound your feelings, or to offer you the slightest indignity, and if there be any thing in my letter from which an intention to insult you can possibly be inferred, I retract it.

This much I say with the intention and hope of preventing any breach, or even weakening, of the personal relations between us. Let us be friends still.

But it seems now that we differ so widely in opinion upon matters of fact that it is impossible for us to reason upon the same line of argument. You think that the Union is already dissolved — the nation already destroyed. On the contrary, I believe no such thing. You believe that a peaceful dissolution of the Union, in the manner and by the means already employed, is possible. I believe it impossible. I believe that the insane effort at national destruction persisted in, will involve a war more terrible than any the world has witnessed since the thirty years war in Germany. You think that a great nation like this can consent to die, and may hope to die an easy death. I think that nations, like individuals, are under God's great law of self-defence, and when pressed

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