previous next
[427] as Great Britain was during the war of 1812?

In this connection I desire to read some remarks made by the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Polk) in his speech the other day, in regard to this general idea of who made the war.

“This has all been brought about since the adjournment of the last Congress — since the 4th of March; indeed, since the 15th of April. Congress has declared no war. The Constitution of the United States says ‘that Congress shall be authorized to declare war;’ and yet, sir, though Congress has declared no war, we are in the midst of a war monstrous in its character, and hugely monstrous in its proportions. That war has been brought on by the President of the United States since the 4th of March, of his own motion and of his own wrong; and under what circumstances? Before the close of the last Congress, as early as the month of January, secession was an accomplished fact. Before the close of the last Congress, as many States had seceded from the Union, or had claimed to secede, as had on the 15th of April; and yet the last Congress made no declaration of war; the last Congress passed no legislation calculated to carry on the war; the last Congress refused to pass bills having this direction or having any purpose of coercion. Now, sir, how has this war been brought on? I have said that, in my judgment, it has been brought on by the President of the United States, and a portion of the procedure which has resulted in it is named in the preamble of this joint resolution, which it is proposed that we shall approve and legalize.”

The Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Powell) spoke in similar language. Alluding to the refusal of Kentucky to respond to the first call of the President for seventy-five thousand men, he said:

She believed that the calling forth of such an immense armament was for the purpose of making a war of subjugation on the Southern States, and upon that ground she refused to furnish the regiments called for. The Senator seems to be a little offended at the neutrality of Kentucky. Sir, Kentucky has assumed a position of neutrality, and I only hope that she may be able to maintain it. She has assumed that position because there is no impulse of her patriotic heart that desires her to imbrue her hands in a brother's blood, whether he be from the North or the South. Kentucky looks upon this war as unholy, unrighteous, and unjust. Kentucky believes that this war, if carried out, can result in nothing else than the total disruption of the Confederacy. She hopes, she wishes, she prays, that this Union may be maintained. She believes that cannot be done by force of arms; that it must be done by compromise and conciliation if it can be done at all; and hence, being devoted truly to the Union, she desires measures of peace to be presented for the adjustment of our difficulties.

I desired in this connection to place before the Senate the remarks of both the Senators from Kentucky and the Senator from Missouri, and to answer them at the same time. The Senator from Missouri says the war was brought on since the 4th of March by the President of the United States of his own motion. The Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Powell) pronounces it an unjust, an unrighteous, and an unholy war.

But, sir, I commenced enumerating the facts with the view of showing who commenced the war. How do they stand? I have just stated that South Carolina seceded — withdrew from the Confederacy; and in the very act of withdrawing, she makes practical war upon the Government, and becomes its enemy. The Star of the West, on the 7th of January, laden simply with provisions to supply those starving men at Fort Sumter, attempted to enter the harbor, and was fired upon, and had to tack about, and leave the men in the fort to perish or do the best they could. We also find, that on the 11th of April, General Beauregard had an interview with Major Anderson, and made a proposition to him to surrender. Major Anderson stated, in substance, that he could do no such thing; that he could not strike the colors of his country, and refused to surrender; but he said, at the same time, that by the 15th of the month his provisions would give out, and if not reinforced and supplied starvation must take place. It seems that at this time Mr. Pryor, from Virginia, was in Charleston. The Convention of Virginia was sitting, and it was important that the cannon's roar should be heard in the land. Virginia was to be taken out of the Union, although a majority of the delegates in the Convention were elected against secession, and in favor of the Union. We find that after being in possession of the fact that. by the 15th of the month the garrison would be starved out and compelled to surrender, on the morning of the 12th they commenced the bombardment, fired upon the fort and upon your men. They know that in three days they would be compelled to surrender, but they wanted war. It was indispensable to produce an excitement in order to hurry Virginia out of the Union, and they commenced the war. The firing was kept up until such time as the fort was involved in smoke and flames, and Major Anderson and his men were compelled to lie on the floor with their wet handkerchiefs to their faces to save them from suffocation and death. Even in the midst of all this, they refused to cease their firing, but kept it up until he was compelled to surrender.

Who, then, commenced the war? Who struck the first blow? Who violated the Constitution in the first place? Who trampled the law under foot, and violated the law morally and legally? Was it not South Carolina in seceding? And yet you talk about the President having brought on the war by his own motion, when these facts are incontrovertible,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
J. P. Anderson (3)
Powell (2)
Roger A. Pryor (1)
Leonidas Polk (1)
G. T. Beauregard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 4th (3)
April 15th (2)
1812 AD (1)
April 11th (1)
January 7th (1)
January (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: