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 which I was Chairman, in an address to our Southern brethren, adopted at a meeting in Pine-street, in December last, recommended that the States should meet together for consultation, and if they could not settle their difficulties amicably and preserve the Union, that they should arrange the terms of separation, and save the country from the horrors civil war. We implored them to pause, in order to give us time for an effort to restore harmony and fraternal feeling. We appealed to them in language of entreaty, which would have been humiliating if it had not been addressed to brethren of the same political family. To this appeal, enforced by the concurrence of eminent citizens of this State, who had always been the most strenuous advocates of Southern rights, the States to which it was addressed responded by setting the authority of the Union at defiance, by seizing the public forts and arsenals, by seducing federal officers from their allegiance, and in one instance by confiscating the treasure of the Government. For months those outrages were submitted to, with no effort on the part of the Government to resent or punish them, in the hope that, under the guidance of better counsels, those who committed them would return to their allegiance. This forbearance, unexampled in the history of nations, and falsely interpreted into a pusillanimous surrender of its authority by the Federal Government, had only the effect of invigorating the spirit of resistance, until at last the slender force in Fort Sumter was attacked — some 6,000 or 7,000 men against 100--and compelled, after a heroic resistance, to evacuate it. (Cheers for Fort Sumter.) The gallant commander of that handful of loyal men who sustained this unequal contest is before you. (Tremendous cheers for Major Anderson.) There hangs the flag under which they upheld the honor of their country; and its tattered condition shows the desperate defence they made. (Enthusiastic cheering.) It is under these circumstances that the General Government has appealed to the country to come to its support. (We will! we will!) It would have been treacherous to its trust if it had not determined to'uphold the authorities confided to it. And here, fellow-citizens, it is important that we should clearly understand the position of the late Administration, on this question. It is due to this Administration as well as the last, that we should all understand it. I shall be very brief, but I must ask your close attention for the few moments that will be needed. On the 3d of December last, in his Annual Message to Congress, the late President made a strong and unanswerable argument against the right of secession. He also indicated his purpose to collect the revenue and defend the forts in South Carolina. In a special message to Congress on the 8th of January he declared (I use the language of the message) “the right and the duty to use military force defensively.against those who resist the federal officers in the execution of their legal functions and against those who assail the property of the Federal Government, is clear and undeniable.” (Cries of “Good for him,” and loud cheering.) The authorities of South Carolina were repeatedly warned that, if they assailed Fort Sumter, it would be the commencement of civil war, and they would be responsible for the consequences. (Cheers.) The last and most emphatic of these warnings is contained in the admirable answer of Mr. Holt, Secretary of War, to Mr. Hayne, the Commissioner from South Carolina, on the 6th of February. It is in these words:--“If, with all the multiplied proof which exists of the President's anxiety for peace, and of the earnestness with which lie has pursued it, the authorities of that State shall assault Fort Sumter and peril the lives of the handful of brave and loyal men shut up within its walls, and thus plunge our common country into the horrors of civil war, then upon them and those they represent must rest the responsibility.” (Enthusiastic applause, and waving of hats.) I believe the letter from which I have read this extract has never been published, for I, as a member of the Administration at the time it was written, have a right to say that it had the cordial approval of the late President, and all his constitutional advisers. (Cheers for General Dix.) And this brings me to the point I wish to make. I violate no confidence in making it. It is this :--If South Carolina had tendered war to the late Administration as she has to this — I mean by a hostile and deadly assault — it would have been unanimously accepted. (Prolonged cheering.) I repeat, then, that this Administration has done no more than its duty. Nay, I believe, that self-preservation rendered necessary what it has done. I have no doubt that the Confederate leaders at Montgomery have entertained, and still entertain, the design of marching upon Washington to overthrow the Government, taking its place and presenting itself to the nations of the world as the true representative of the people of the United States. (Cries of “Never, never; they can't do it.” ) Against this usurpation and fraud, if it shall be attempted, I trust we shall contend with all the strength God has given us. (Cries of “We will.” ) I am for supporting the Government. I do not ask who administers it. It is the Government of my country, and as such I shall give it in this extremity all the support in my power. I regard the pending contest with the secessionists as a death struggle for constitutional liberty and law — a contest which, if successful on their part, could only end in the establishment of a despotic government, and blot out, wherever they were in the ascendant, every vestige of national freedom. You know, fellow-citizens, that I have always been in favor of adjusting controversies between the States by conciliation, by compromise, by mutual concession — in a word, in the spirit in which the constitution was formed. Whenever the times shall be propitious for calm consultation they will find me so still. But until then, let us remember that nothing could be so disastrous, so humiliating and so disreputable to us all as to see the common Government overthrown or its legitimate authority successfully resisted. Let us, then, rally with one heart, to its support. I believe it will act with all the moderation and forbearance consistent with the preservation of the great interests confided to it. There is no choice left but to acquiesce in its surrender to revolutionary leaders, or to give it the means it needs for defence, for self-preservation and for the assertion of its authority, holding it responsible for their legitimate use. Fellow-citizens, we stand before the statue of the Father of his Country. The flag of the Union which floats over it hung above him when he presided over the Convention by which the constitution was framed. The great work of his life has been rejected, and the banner by which his labors were consecrated has been trampled in the dust. If the inanimate bronze in which the sculptor has shaped his image could be changed to the living form which led the armies
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