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“ [77] and laws of Congress, and all will be safe, and he will prevent a civil war, which never fails to call forth all the baser passions of the human heart. If a separation should take place, be assured, blood would flow in torrents. Let me conjure you to save the Union, and thereby avoid the desolating example of Mexico. . . . Think of these things, my dear General, and save the country, and save the prosperous South from pestilence, famine, and desolation. Peaceable secession is not to be thought of. Even if it should take place in three months, we would have a bloody war on our hands.”

The patriotic Cass was powerless. Fully convinced by recent developments that the Cabinet was filled with traitors, bent upon the destruction of

Seal of the State Department.

the Republic, and utterly unable, with his single hand and voice, to restrain or persuade them, he resigned the seals of his office on the 12th of December, and retired to private life.1 The President, too, conscious of his own impotence — conscious that the Goverment was in the hands of its enemies — and despairing of the salvation of the Union by human agency, issued a Proclamation on the 14th of December, recommending the observance of the 4th day of January following as a day for humiliation, fasting, and prayer, throughout the Republic. “The Union of the States,” he said, “is at the present moment threatened with alarming and immediate danger; panic and distress, of a fearful character, prevail throughout the land; our laboring population are without employment, and, consequently, deprived of the means of earning their bread; indeed, hope seems to have deserted the minds of men. All classes' are in a state of confusion and dismay, and the wisest counsels of our best and purest men are wholly disregarded. In this, the hour of our calamity and peril, to whom shall we resort for relief but to the God of our Fathers? His omnipotent arm only can save us from the awful effects of our own crimes and follies — our own ingratitude and guilt toward our Heavenly Father.” He then recommended a union of the people in bowing in humility before God, and said, in words not only of faith, but of remarkable prophecy:--“An Omnipotent Providence may overrule existing evils for permanent good.” 2

1 He was succeeded by Jeremiah S. Black, Buchanan's Attorney-General. Two days before, as we have observed on page 44, Howell Cobb left the office of Secretary of the Treasury, because his “duty to Georgia required it,” and was succeeded by Philip F. Thomas, of Maryland. Cobb's letter of resignation was dated the 8th, but he did not leave office until the 10th.

2 The Proclamation, in sentiment and expression, was all that Christian men could ask, of its kind; but lovers of righteousness thought that a better formula might have been framed, considering the social condition of the nation, after pondering the following words in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, beginning at the third verse:--

“ Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? . . Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.”

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