Lincoln's defence of Camereit.
We have obtained a copy of Lincoln
's late message to the Federal Congress in reference to the resolution of consure upon his ex-Secretary of War. We publish it as part of the history of the times; To the Senate and House of Representatives:
The insurrection which is yet existing in the United States
and aims at the overthrow of the Federal Constitution
and the Union
, was clandestinely prepared during the winter of 1860 and 1861, and assumed an open organization in the form of a reasonable provisional Government at Montgomery
, on the 8th day of February, 1861. On the 12th day of April, 1861,the insurgents committed the flagrant act of civil war by the bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter
, which cut off the hope of immediate conciliation.
Immediately after wards, all the roads and avenues to this city were obstructed, and the capital was put into the condition of a siege.
The mails in every direction were stopped, and the lines of telegraph cut off by the insurgents, and military and naval forces, which had been called out by the Government
for the defence of Washington
, were prevented from reaching the city by organized and combined treasonable resistance in the State of Maryland
There was no adequate and effective organization for the public defence.
Congress had indefinitely adjourned.--There was no time to convene them.
It became necessary for me to choose whether, using only the existing means, agencies and processes which Congress had provided, I should let the Government
fall at once into rain, or whether, availing myself of the broader powers conferred by the Constitution
in cases of insurrection, I would make an effort to save it, with all its blessings, for the present age and for posterity.
I thereupon summoned my constitutional advisers, the heads of all the Departments, to meet on Sunday, the 21st day of April, 1861, at the office of the Navy Department, and then and there, with their unanimous concurrence.
I directed that an armed revenue cutter should proceed to sea, to afford protection to the commercial marine, and especially the California
treasure ships, then on their way to this coast.
I also directed the commandant of the Navy Yard
to purchase or charter, and arm as quickly as possible, five steamships for purposes of public defence.
I directed the commandant of the Navy-Yard
to purchase or charter and arm an equal number for the same purpose.
I directed the commandant at New York to purchase or charter and arm an equal number.
I directed commander Gillies
to purchase or charter and arm and put to sea two other vessels.
Similar directions were given to Commodore Dupont
, with a view to the opening of passages by water to and from the capital.
I directed the several officers to take the advice and obtain the aid and efficient services in the matter of his Excellency
, the Governor
of New York, or, in his absence, George D. Morgan
, William M. Evarts
, R. M. Blatchford
, and Moses H. Grinnell
, who were, by my directions, especially empowered by the Secretary of the Navy
to act for his Department in that crisis in matters pertaining to the forwarding of troops and supplies for the public defence.
On the same occasion I directed that Gov. Morgan
and Alex. Cummings
, of the city of New York
, should be authorized by the Secretary of War
) to make all necessary arrangements for the transportation of troops and munitions of war in aid and assistance of the officers of the army of the United States, until communication by mails and telegraph should be completely re-established between the cities of Washington
and New York.
No security was required to be given by them, and either of them was authorized to act in case of inability to consult with the others.
On the same occasion I authorized and directed the Secretary of the Treasury
to advance, without requiring security, two millions of dollars of public money to John A. Dix
, George Opdyke
, and Richard M. Blatchford
, of New York, to be used by them in meeting such requisitions as should be directly consequent upon the military and naval measures necessary for the defence and support of the Government
, requiring them only to act without compensation, and to report their transactions when duly called upon.
The several departments of the Government
at that time contained so large a number of disloyal persons that it would have been impossible to provide safely, through official agents only, for the performance of the duties thus confided to citizens favorably known for their ability, loyalty and patriotism.
The several orders issued upon these occurrences were transmitted by private messengers, who pursued a circuitous way to the seaboard cities inland, across the States of Pennsylvania
, and the Northern Lakes
I believe that by these and other similar measures taken in that crisis, some of which were without any authority of law, the Government
was saved from overthrow.
I am not aware that a dollar of the public funds thus confided without authority of law to unofficial persons, was either lost or wasted, although apprehensions of such misdirections occurred to me as objections to these extraordinary proceedings and were necessarily overruled.
I recall these transactions now, because my attention has been directed to a resolution which was passed by the House of Representatives on the 30th of last month, which is in these words:
That Simon Cameron
, late Secretary of War
, by investing Alexander Cummings
with the control of large sums of public money, and authority to purchase military supplies, without restriction, without requiring from him any guarantee for the faithful performance of his duties, when the services of competent public officers were available, and by involving the Government
in a vast number of contracts with persons not legitimately engaged in the business pertaining to the subject matter of such contracts, especially in the purchase of arms for future delivery, has adopted a policy highly injurious to the public service, and deserves the censure of this House."’
Congress will see that I should be wanting equally in candor and in justice, if I should leave the censure, expressed in this resolution, to rest exclusively or chiefly upon Mr. Cameron
The same sentiment is unanimously entertained by the heads of departments, who participated in the proceedings which the House of Representatives has censured.
It is due to Mr. Cameron
to say that, although he fully approved the proceedings, they were not moved nor suggested by him, and that not only the President
, but all the other heads of departments, were at least equally responsible, with him, for whatever error, wrong or fault was committed in the premises.
, May 26th, 1862
On motion of Mr. Holman
, of Indiana
, it was referred to the Committee of the Whole House.