there was a general demand that it be occupied by and held for the State
also, as was the Little Rock
The governor consented, and ordered a force of volunteers under Maj. Solon Borland
to proceed to Fort Smith
, and take possession of the military property at that place, which was done, the only difficulty being in providing transportation for all who volunteered.
Col. N. B. Burrow
was placed in charge there, with a detachment of sufficient numbers, to hold the place for the State
Soon afterward, the arrival of Mr. Lincoln
at the national capital, under sensational circumstances, and his inauguration were announced.
Those who may have been ignorant of the essential elements of the character of Mr. Lincoln
, and his views of the question of slavery, who had forgotten his most earnest expression that ‘the Union
could not exist one-half slave and one-half free; either it must be all free or all slave,’ may have been misled by the cautious and conciliatory tone of his inaugural message.
He did not then choose to proclaim the doctrine of coercion in direct terms, while denying the right of a State to secede, or to plainly avow his intention unqualifiedly to hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and collect the duties and imports.
While regarding these as duties devolving on his office, he said, that ‘beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.’
And to this he added the assurance, ‘Where hostility to the United States
shall be so great as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal
offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object.
While the strict legal right of the government may exist to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be irritating and so nearly impracticable, withal, that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.’
To those who read them thoughtfully, these words were only temporizing,