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[360]

Treachery of W. H. Seward brought fire on Sumter.

Details of his correspondence with Judge Campbell showed clear design to deceive Southern leaders


By L. W. Wise.
Of course, when the Confederate authorities found out how they had been treated and the bad faith which had been practiced towards them, they had no other alternative left but to open fire on the fort unless Major Anderson would agree peaceably to evacuate it. To give him a chance to do so, the Confederates opened negotiations with him. All they could get from him on April 11, was that he would evacuate it at noon on the 15th, which was then several days off. But he added this proviso: ‘Should I not receive, prior to that time, controlling instructions from my government or additional supplies.’ As the additional supplies were then on the way to him, the Confederates then notified him that fire would be opened on Fort Sumter in one hour, which was done early on the morning of April 12.

The Confederates were none too soon, for by 12 o'clock of that same day the relieving fleet began to appear off the bar of Charleston, and it would have been there earlier had it not met with bad weather on the way.

The next day, April 13, Judge Campbell, through whom Mr. Seward had given his assurances to the Confederate authorities in regard to the evacuation of the fort, wrote and published an open letter to Mr. Seward charging that systematic duplicity had been practiced upon the Confederates throughout. Though the Judge had been a strong Union man and had been heartily and earnestly in favor of perpetuating the Union, he was so disgusted with the duplicity and bad faith of Mr. Lincoln's administration in this Fort Sumter matter, that he resigned his position as a Justice of the Supreme Court.


[361]

Lincoln's proclamation.

Two days after the fall of Fort Sumter, April 15, 1861, Mr. Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for troops to ‘repossess,’ as he this time had it, ‘the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union.’ Of course this meant war and nothing else. In the circular which accompanied the proclamation and fixed the quota of troops to be furnished by each State, States like Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and other Southern States which whilst they fully recognized the right of a State to secede at any time it saw fit to do so, had not yet seceded themselves, but had all of them refused to secede, were each called on to furnish their quotas of troops.

Now, of course, none of them could consistently furnish troops to Mr. Lincoln to prosecute a war which had been brought on by the bad faith and duplicity of his own administration.

As a result, they all refused. Governor Letcher, of Virginia, though he had been an ardent Union man, answered Mr. Lincoln: ‘You have chosen to inaugurate civil war,’ and that Virginia could furnish no troops to carry it on.


Action of Virginia.

The Virginia Convention, then in session, which had, only eleven days before, on April 4, voted down an ordinance of secession by a vote of 89 against 45, now turned around and passed the ordinance by almost as large a vote. When this ordinance came before the people for ratification, though they had at the election for delegates to the Convention, voted for the Union by an immense majority, they now ratified it by a vote of almost exactly four to one. North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas all followed suit, and went out of the Union as quickly as they could; North Carolina by a unanimous vote of her convention; Arkansas with only one dissenting vote, and Tennessee by a vote of her people of considerably more than two to one. Thus, by the bad faith and duplicity of Mr. Lincoln's administration the country was plunged into the bloodiest war which the world has ever seen before or since, the cost of which during [362] its actual continuance was enormous, aggregating considerably more than $10,000,000,000, or enough money to have paid for the 4,000,000 slaves at their full value three times over.


Paying for the slaves.

The North could very well have afforded to consent that the United States should have paid the South a fair price for its slaves, considering the fact that of all the peoples of the earth next to the English, who, by the way, paid for the slaves which they set free in their dominions, they, the Northern people, were far more largely engaged in the business of bringing negroes from Africa to the South than any others. In fact, had it not been for the English and Northern people together, there would not have been a great many slaves in the South.

The course of Mr. Lincoln was also as inconsistent about this matter of slavery as it was about Fort Sumter, for in the very beginning of his inaugural address, March 4, 1861, he declared: ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.’ And further on in the same inaugural he declared himself in favor of a constitutional amendment which, so far as the United States was concerned, would have made the negroes of this country slaves forever. His exact words were: ‘I understand that a proposed amendment to the Constitution (which amendment, however, I have not seen), has passed Congress to the effect that the Federal government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. Holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.’


Lincoln's change.

As we have already said, this would have fastened slavery on the country forever, so far as the action of the United States was concerned.

And yet, in exactly eighteen months and eighteen days from [363] that time, September 22, 1862, Mr. Lincoln issuing a proclamation to free the slaves in most of the Southern States, an act which he had declared in his inaugural, he had neither any purpose, any inclination nor any lawful right to do.

When Lincoln came in, one of the earliest acts of his Secretary of State Seward was to assure the Confederates in the most positive and solemn manner that Fort Sumter would be evacuated, and to repeat and repeat those assurances. Yet, as we have seen, while the Confederates were waiting for the promises to be fulfilled a secret expedition was fitted out and sent there to reprovision the fort. We will add that there can be no mistake about what Mr. Seward promised the Confederates, for after each interview with him, Judge Campbell would put down in writing what he had been told by Mr. Seward, and then after reading the same to Judge Nelson, the other Supreme Court Justice, who was present at each interview, and obtaining his sanction as to the correctness of the communication, he would then transmit it to the Confederate Commissioners, and after so doing, would report in writing to Mr. Seward what he had transmitted. Mr. Seward was, therefore, kept posted as to exactly what communications were being sent to the Confederates. And to place the matter beyond all doubt, in the very last communication which passed between Mr. Seward and the Commissioners, and which was on April 7, Mr. Seward was addressed in writing over the signature of Judge Campbell, and asked if the assurances which had been given were well or ill-founded. And he answered in writing, ‘Faith as to Sumter fully kept; wait and see,’ though the relieving fleet was at that time on its way.

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