the officer in charge, the arsenal of the United States
, containing public property estimated to be worth half a million of dollars.
The Government was thus expelled from all its property except Fort Sumter
, and no Federal officers, whether civil or military, remained in the city or harbor of Charleston
The secession leaders in Congress attempted to justify these violent proceedings of South Carolina
as acts of self-defence, on the assumption that Major Anderson
had already commenced hostilities.
It is certain that their tone instantly changed after his removal; and they urged its secrecy, the hour of the night when it was made, the destruction of his gun-carriages, and other attendant incidents, to inflame the passions of their followers.
It was under these circumstances that the President
was called upon to reply to the letter of the South Carolina
commissioners, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the troops of the United States
from the harbor of Charleston
In this reply he peremptorily rejected the demand in firm but courteous terms, and declared his purpose to defend Fort Sumter
by all the means in his power against hostile attacks, from whatever quarter they might proceed. (Vide
his letter of the 31st December, 1860, Ex. Doe.
No. 26, H. R ., 36th Congress, 2d Session, accompanying President
's message of 8th January, 1861.) To this the commissioners sent their answer, dated on the 2d January, 1861.
This was so violent, unfounded, and disrespectful, and so regardless of what is due to any individual whom the people have honored with the office of President, that the reading of it in the Cabinet
excited indignation among all the members.
With their unanimous approbation it was immediately, on the day of its date, returned to the commissioners with the following indorsement: ‘This paper, just presented to the President
, is of such a character that he declines to receive it.’
Surely no negotiation was ever conducted in such a manner, unless, indeed, it had been the predetermined purpose of the negotiators to produce an open and immediate rupture.
It may be asked, why did the President
, at his interview with the South Carolina
commissioners, on the 28th December, offer to lay the propositions they had to make before Congress, when he must have been morally certain they would not meet a favorable