would have been lending a hand to despotism.
This, South Carolina
would not do. By such an act she would have belied her past history, and condemned that noble struggle for liberty, as a result of which the American
colonies had been acknowledged by Great Britain
and the world to be ‘free, sovereign, and independent States.’
Whatever may have been the hopes of South Carolina
, when, on the 20th of December, 1860, she dissolved her connection with the Union
, she had no certainty that her Southern sister States would follow the course she had thought proper to adopt.
She acted alone, impelled by her own sense of duty, of independence and self-respect, as a sovereign.
Her example, and the tone of her leading men, foremost among whom stood that profound statesman, the late Robert Barnwell Rhett
——the friend and successor of John C. Calhoun
—had no small influence in determining the subsequent withdrawal of the other States of the South
The weight of Northern hostility had been felt by each and all; and the decisive action of any one of them was more than sufficient to kindle the latent fires of selfpreserva-tion by disunion.
At the time of which we are now writing, and no matter what may have been the previous divergence of opinions among the leaders of that gallant State, there was but one feeling, one sentiment, and one resolve animating every South Carolina
heart: to retake possession, at any cost, of the arsenals, forts, and other public property then in the hands of the Federal
authorities, and to assume and exercise all the rights appertaining to a free and independent commonwealth.
The object of her Commissioners in Washington
, as shown by their official correspondence with President Buchanan
, was to obtain a just, honorable, and peaceable settlement of the question at issue between South Carolina
and the Federal Government
‘We have the honor to transmit to you,’ wrote these Commissioners to the President
, ‘a copy of the full powers from the convention of the people of South Carolina
, under which we are authorized to treat with the government of the United States
for the delivery of the forts, magazines, lighthouses, and other real estate
, with their appurtenances, within the limits of South Carolina
, and also for the apportionment of the public debt, and for a division of all other property held by the government of the United States