From abundant caution, however, he objected to the word ‘provided’ in their statement, lest, if he should accept it without remark, this might possibly be construed into an agreement on his part not to reenforce the forts.
Such an agreement, he informed them, he would never make.
It would be impossible for him, from the nature of his official responsibility, thus to tie his own hands and restrain his own freedom of action.
Still, they might have observed from his message, that he had no present design, under existing circumstances, to change the condition of the forts at Charleston
He must, notwithstanding, be left entirely free to exercise his own discretion, according to exigencies as they might arise.
They replied that nothing was further from their intention than such a construction of this word; they did not so understand it, and he should not so consider it.
It was at this moment, on the 15th December, 1860, after the President
's policy had been fixed and announced in his annual message; after the ‘Brooklyn
’ had been made ready to go to the relief of Major Anderson
in case of need; after he had received instructions in accordance with this policy; after the President
's pacific interview with the South Carolina
members, and before any action had yet been taken on the first Crittenden Compromise, that General Scott
deemed it proper to renew his former recommendation to garrison the nine Southern fortifications.
This appears from his report to President Lincoln
, of the 30th March, 1861, entitled ‘Southern Forts; a Summary,’ &c., of which we shall often hereafter have occasion to speak.
It is scarcely a lack of charity to infer that General Scott
knew at the time when he made this recommendation (on the 15th December) that it must be rejected.
The President could not have complied with it, the position of affairs still remaining unchanged, without at once reversing his entire policy, and without a degree of inconsistency amounting almost to self-stultification.
from the cotton States and from Virginia
, where these forts are situated, were still occupied with their brother Senators in devising measures of peace and conciliation.
For this patriotic purpose the Committee
of Thirteen were about to be appointed, and they remained in session