previous next

[115] advising them to “crush the rebellion,” and, if need be, to drown the whole South in one indiscriminate sea of blood.

This giving way of the Democratic party to the worst fanaticism of tile North, proved beyond doubt that it was wholly unreliable, entirely untrustworthy as the friend of the South, and, as Senator Brown of Mississippi had designated it in the last Congress, hopelessly “rotten.” But it proved something more than this. It proved that remarkable want of virtue in American politics, common in a certain degree, to all parts of the country. It was another illustration of the fact which runs through the whole of the political history of America, that in every election where one party greatly preponderates, or in every decisive exhibition of a majority, the minority is absorbed and disappears; principle is exchanged for expediency; public opinion becomes the slave of the larger party ; and public men desert the standards of conviction to follow the dispensations of patronage, and serve the changes of the times.

President Lincoln did not hesitate to take immediate advantage of the “reaction” in the North. Two days after the bloodless battle of Sumter, he issued his proclamation to raise seventy-five thousand troops, usurping the power and discretion of Congress to declare war by a shallow, verbal pretence of calling them out under the act of 1795, which only contemplated the raising of armed posses “in aid of the civil authorities.” 1

Even in this conjuncture, the President still hesitated to unmask his real intentions of a war of subjugation, still embracing the hope of keeping the Border States “loyal” to his Government. On the very day of the

1 The following is a full copy of this important paper:

Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are, opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law: now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth the Militia of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid, this effort to maintain the honour, the integrity, and existence, of our national Union, and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union.; and in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens of any part of the country; and I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid, to disperse and retire peace ably to their respective abodes, within twenty days from this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both houses of Congress. The Senators and Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their respective chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

By the President, Abraham Lincoln. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

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 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.
Abraham Lincoln (2)
William H. Seward (1)
Abe Lincoln (1)
John Brown (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.
1795 AD (1)
July 4th (1)
April 15th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: