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 beaten in the electoral vote, and now the South was in a fixed minority, utterly unable to pass any resolutions in Congress, or direct any act of the President. It has been unjustly said of President Buchanan that ‘not a step was taken by his administration before the meeting of Congress in December to arrest the progress of secession.’ It is true that the President manifested irresolution as to the methods he should adopt to stay the movement of the South, but there is no proof that he was influenced to consent to the withdrawal of any State. His apparent vacillations were those of a man whose purpose was fixed, but whose mind failed to comprehend the means that should be used. Hence he threaded his way painfully through an ever-thickening maze of difficulties, until he wearily dragged himself to the mark where his official responsibility ceased. His cabinet, with a controlling majority composed of anti-secessionists, had consulted often on the policy of the government in the one absorbing question. Even in October Gen. Scott's plans to make secession impossible, were respectfully considered and rejected because they were impracticable. Such a movement of the United States troops, as proposed by Gen. Scott, toward the forts and garrisons in the South, making plain the purpose ‘to pin the South to the Union by bayonets,’ would have precipitated war before the election, and resulted in the capture of the entire regular army in detail. It was therefore declined, and the attention of the administration was turned toward the abandonment of South Carolina to its secession purposes, in the hope of confining the movement to that one State. The resignations of Federal judicial officers in South Carolina occurred in November, but so far as other functions of government could be performed they were still executed as if no discontent prevailed, and in the meantime Mr. Floyd, secretary of war, ordered Col. Porter, November 6th, to inspect troops and fortifications in Charleston Harbor, who made the inspection and returned
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