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[59] without the consent of the State, might be removed. President Lincoln, who had already crossed the Rubicon of constitutional law, and become the practical dictator of the United States, answered the governor with a prompt and flat refusal. A similar letter to President Davis received a prompt reply, to the effect that the assemblage of Confederate troops in Tennessee had no other object than to repel the lawless invasion of that State by the forces of the United States; that the government of the Confederate States had respected most scrupulously the neutrality of Kentucky, but neutrality, to be entitled to respect, must be strictly maintained—if the door be opened on the one side for aggression, it ought not to be shut on the other for defense. Mr. Davis concluded by expressing the belief that Kentucky would not suffer its soil to be occupied for the purpose of giving advantage to those who violate its neutrality and disregard its rights. It was a vain hope. Neutrality in Kentucky, as in Missouri, was scoffed at by those who believed the power of the United States government supreme over the soil of the States.

The Federal commanders threw their forces into portions of Kentucky and Missouri at will, without a thought as to the rights of those States. The revelation of their plans, through these movements, made it necessary that General Polk should immediately occupy Columbus, in Kentucky, as a point of great strategic importance on the Mississippi river, where the naval flotillas of the United States might be arrested in descending that river, cutting the Confederacy in twain, and making possible the establishment of strongholds and depots for operating against regions adjacent to the great river. Polk took possession of Hickman, September 3d, and of Columbus, September 4th. On the 5th and 6th of September, Brig.-Gen. U. S. Grant occupied Paducah, Ky., at the mouth of the Tennessee river, and established his headquarters there and at Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio.

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