The National crisis.the Star of the West arrived at New York — Seward's speech statement of the South Carolina Commissioners — Description of the forts that have been taken possession of--New York Legislature resolutions Message of the Governor of Indiana. &c. &c
The return of the Star of the West to New York — Narrative of her experience.The steamer Star of the West arrived at New York Saturday morning. The Journal of Commerce says: ‘ As soon as her identity was made out by people along the river front, the piers in that neighborhood were thronged with spectators, anxious to see the vessel that had been fired at by the secessionists, and to know positively what damage had been done to her. The heavy blue overcoats of U. S. troops could be seen in a dense mass forward of her wheel-house.--Many persons were anxious to gratify their curiosity by going aboard of her in small boats, but this was sternly refused by the officers of the vessel. Capt. McGowan came ashore and repaired at once to the office of M. O. Roberts, the owner of the boat. After a consultation between these gentlemen, telegrams were sent to Washington for further instructions, and until they are received, the Star of the West will remain where she now is with the troops on board, and no communication will be permitted except to Government officers, between her and the shore. The troops, two hundred in number, are in excellent health and spirits. ’
Statement of Capt. McGowan.The following is an official account of the trip:
Steam ship Star of the West.
M. O. Roberts, Esq--Sir:
J. McGowan, Captain.
Speech of Senator Seward.Senator Seward made his long looked for speech in the Senate Saturday. The conclusion of it contains the gist of his argument — certainly his declarations. He says: ‘ So far as the abstract question whether, by the Constitution of the United States, the bondsman, who is made such by the laws of a State, is still a man or only property, 1 answer that, within that State, its laws on that subject are supreme; that when he has escaped from that State into another, the Constitution regards him as a bondsman who may not, by any law or regulation of that State, be discharged from his service, but shall be delivered up on claim, to the party to whom his service is due. ’ While prudence and justice would combine in persuading you to modify the acts of Congress on that subject, so as not to oblige private persons to assist in their execution, and to protect freemen from being, by abuse of the laws, carried into slavery, I agree that all laws of the States, which relate to this class of persons, or any others recently coming from or resident in other States, and which laws contravene the Constitution of the United States, or any law of Congress passed in conformity thereto, ought to be repealed. Secondly. Experience in public affairs has confirmed my opinion, that domestic slavery, existing in any State, is wisely left by the Constitution of the United States exclusively to the care, management and disposition of that State; and if it were in my power, I would not alter the Constitution in that respect. If misapprehension of my position needs so strong a remedy, I am willing to vote for an amendment of the Constitution, declaring that it shall not, by any future amendment, be so altered as to confer on Congress a power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any State. Thirdly. While I think that Congress has exclusive and sovereign authority to legislate on all subjects whatever, in the common Territories of the United States; and while I certainly shall never, directly or indirectly, give my vote to establish or sanction slavery in such Territories, or anywhere else in the world yet the question what constitutional laws shall at any time be passed in regard to the Territories, is, like every other question, to be determined on practical grounds. I voted for enabling acts in the cases of Oregon, Minnesota and Kansas, without being able to secure in them such provisions as I would have preferred; and yet I voted wisely. So now, I am well satisfied that, under existing circumstances, a happy and satisfactory solution of the difficulties in the remaining territories would be obtained by similar laws, providing for their organization, if such organization were otherwise practicable. If, therefore, Kansas was admitted as a State, under the Wyandotte Constitution, as I think she ought to be, and if the organic laws of all the other territories could be repealed, I could vote to authorize the organization and admission of two new States which should include them, reserving the right to effect subdivisions of them whenever necessary into several convenient States; but I do not find that such reservations could be constitutionally made. Without them, the ulterior embarrassments which would result from the hasty incorporation of States of such vast extent and various interests and character, would out weigh all the immediate advantages of such a measure. But if the measure were practicable, I should prefer a different course, namely: when the eccentric movements of secession and disunion shall have ended, in whatever form that end may come, and the angry excitements of the hour shall have subsided, and calmness once more shall have resumed its accustomed away over the public mind, then, and hot until then--one, two, or three years hence — I should cheerfully advise a Convention of the people, to be assembled in pursuance of the Constitution, to consider and decide whether any and what amendments of the organic national law ought to be made. Republican now — as I have heretofore been a member of other parties existing in my day — I nevertheless hold and cherish, as I have always done, the principle that this Government exists in its present form only by the consent of the governed, and that it is as necessary as it is wise, to resort to the people for revisions of the organic law when the troubles and dangers of the State certainly transcend the powers delegated by it to the public authorities. Nor ought the suggestion to excite surprise. Government in any form is a machine; this is the most complex one that the mind of man has ever invented, or the hand of man has ever framed. Perfect as it is, it ought to be expected that it will, at least as often as once in a century, require some modification to adapt it to the changes of society and alterations of empire. Fourthly, I hold myself ready now, as always heretofore, to vote for any properly guarded laws which shall be deemed necessary to prevent mutual invasions of States by citizens of other States, and punish those who shall aid and abet them. Fifthly, Notwithstanding the arguments of the gallant Senator from Oregon, (Gen. Lane,) I remain of the opinion that physical bonds, such as high ways, railroads, rivers and canals, are vastly more powerful for holding civil communities together than any mere covenants, though written on parchment or engraved upon iron. I remain, therefore, constant to my purpose to secure, if possible, the construction of two Pacific railways, one of which shall connect the ports around the mouth of the Mississippi, and the other the towns on the Missouri and the lakes, with the harbors on our Western coast. If, on the expression of these views, I have not proposed what is desired or expected by many others, they will do me the justice to believe that I am as far from having suggested what in many respects would have been in harmony with cherished convictions of my own. I learned early from Jefferson, that in political affairs we cannot always do what seems to us absolutely best. Those with whom we must necessarily act, entertaining different views, have the power and right of carrying them into practice. We must be content to lead when we can, and to follow when we cannot lead; and if we cannot at any time do for our country all the good that we would wish, we must be satisfied with doing for her all the good that we can. Having submitted my own opinions on this great crisis, it remains only to say that I shall cheerfully lend to the government my best support in whatever prudent yet energetic efforts it shall make to preserve the Union, advising, only, that it practice as far as possible, the utmost moderation, forbearance and conciliation. And, now, Mr. President, what are the auspices of the country? I know that we are in the midst of alarms, and somewhat exposed to accidents unavoidable in seasons of tempestuous passions. We already have disorder, and violence has begun. I know not to what extent it may go. Still my faith in the Constitution and in the Union abides, because my faith in the wisdom and virtue of the American people remains unshaken. Coolness, calmness, and resolution, are elements of their character. They have been temporarily displaced; but they are reappearing. Soon enough, I trust, for safety, it will be seen that sedition and violence are only local and temporary, and that loyalty and affection to the Union are the natural sentiments of the whole country. Whatever dangers there shall be, there will be the determination to meet them; whatever sacrifices, private or public, shall be needful for the Union, they will be made. I feel sure that the hour has not come for this great nation to fall. This people, which has been studying to become wiser and better as it has grown older, is not perverse or wicked enough to deserve so dreadful and severe a punishment as dissolution. This Union has not yet accomplished what good or mankind was manifestly designed by Him who appoints the seasons and prescribes the duties of States and empires. No, sir; if it were cast down by factions to-day, it would rise again and reappear in all its majestic proportions to morrow. It is the only government that can stand here. Woe! Woe! to the man that madly lifts his hand against it. It shall continue and endure; and men, in after times, shall declare that this generation, which saved the Union from such sudden and unlooked for dangers, surpassed in magnanimity even that one which laid its foundations in the eternal principles of liberty, justice and humanity.
The Personal interviews of the South Carolina Commissioners with the President.The South Carolina Commissioners to Washington have laid before the Convention an interesting statement of their interviews with the President. We make the following extract: On Saturday, the 8th of December, several of the South Carolina delegation, including ourselves, waited upon the President. At this time, there was a growing belief that reinforcements were on the eve of being sent to the forts in Charleston harbor. It was known that the subject was frequently and earnestly discussed in the Cabinet. It was rumored that General Cass and Mr. Holt were urgent that reinforcements should be sent. Upon our being announced, the President, who was then in Cabinet Council, came out to us in the ante-room. We at once entered into a conversation upon the topic, which was so closely occupying his thoughts as well as ours.--The President seemed much disturbed and moved. He told us that he had had a painful interview with the wife of Major Anderson, who had come on from New York to see him. She had manifested great anxiety and distress at the situation of her husband, whom she seemed to consider in momentary danger of an attack from an excited and lawless mob. The President professed a deep responsibility resting upon him to protect the lives of Maj. Anderson and his command. We told him that the news that reinforcements were on their way to Charleston, would be the surest means of provoking what Mrs. Anderson apprehended, and what he so much deprecated. We said, further, that we did not believe that Major Anderson was in danger of such an attack; that the general sentiment of the State was against any such proceeding. That, prior to the action of the State Convention, then only ten days off, we felt satisfied that there would be no attempt to molest the forts in any way.--That, after the Convention met — while we could not possibly undertake to say what that body would see fit to do — we yet hoped and believed that nothing would be done until we had first endeavored, by duly accredited Commissioners, to negotiate for a peaceful settlement of all matters, including the delivery of the forts, between South Carolina and the Federal Government. At the same time, we again reiterated our solemn belief that any change in the then existing condition of things in Charleston harbor would, in the excited state of feeling at home, inevitably precipitate a collision. The impression made upon us was, that the President was wavering, and had not decided what course he would pursue. He said he was glad to have had this conversation with us, but would prefer that we should give him a written memorandum of the substance of what we had said. This we did on Monday, the 10th. It was in these words: South Carolina, will either attack or molest the United States forts in the harbor of Charleston, previously to the action of the Convention, and we hope and believe not until an offer has been made through an accredited representative, to negotiate for an amicable arrangement of all matters between the State and the Federal Government, provided that no reinforcements shall be sent into those forts, and their relative military status shall remain as at present.
The forts already captured.The following named forts have thus far been seized by order of the Governors of the States in which they are respectively located, and are now in possession of the secessionists:
|Fortifications||Location,||Guns||Cost of Construction and Repairs.||Cost of Armament.|
|Fort Macon||Beaufort, N. C.||61||430,000||48,920|
|Fort Caswell||Oak Island, do||87||571,221||72,711|
|Fort St. Philip||Louisiana||124||203,734||101,980|
Pensacola and its fortifications.Pensacola bay has rare properties as a harbor. It is now accessible to frigates. The bar is near the coast, and the channel across it short and easily passed. The harbor is perfectly land-locked, and the roadstead very capacious. There are excellent positions within for repairing, building and launching vessels, and for docks and dock-yards in healthy situations. The supply of good water is abundant. These properties, in connection with the position of the harbor, as regards the coast, have induced the government to select it as a Naval station, and a place of rendezvous and repair. The upper arms of Pensacola bay receive the Yellow Water or Pea river, Middle river and Escambia river, eleven miles from the Gulf.
Santa Rosa Island is situated east by northwest by south fourteen leagues, and completely shuts out Pensacola from the sea. It is so low that the sea in a gale washes its top. It is not more than one-fourth of a mile wide.--The west point of this island is at the mouth of Pensacola bay. The latter is not over one and a quarter mile wide.
Pensacola bay and the naval station is Fort Pickens. This fort is a first class bastioned fort, built of New York granite, and situated on low ground on the east point of Santa Rosa Island. Its walls are forty-five feet in height by twelve feet in thickness; it is embrasure for two tiers of guns, which are placed under bombproof casemates, besides having one tier of guns en barbette. The guns from this work radiate to every point of the horizon, with flank and enfilading fire at every angle of approach. The work was commenced in 1828 and finished in 1853. It cost the Federal Government nearly one million of dollars. When on a war footing its garrison consists of 1,260 soldiers. Its armament, only a portion of which is within its walls, consists of--
|Forty-two pounder iron guns||63|
|Thirty-two-pounder iron guns||17|
|Twenty-four-pounder iron guns||49|
|Eighteen pounder iron guns||5|
|Twelve pounder iron guns||13|
|Brass field pieces||6|
|Brass flank howitzers||26|
|Heavy eight inch howitzers||13|
|Heavy ten-inch mortars||4|
|Light eight-inch mortars||4|
|Sixteen inch stone mortars||4|
Fort Morae.This fortification is situated on Foster's Bank, and guards the west side of the mouth of Pensacola bay. It is a bastioned fort, built of brick masonry, with walls twelve feet in thickness. It is embrasure for two tiers of guns, under bombproof casemates, and has one tier en barbette. Its armament consists of 150 guns, and in time of war requires a garrison of 650 men. The work cost the Federal Government about $400,000. Its guns radiate at every point of the horizon. It is a very effective work. The full armament of the fort is not complete, but a sufficient number of guns are in battery to make a very good defence in conjunction with Fort Pickens. Below this fort is a water battery, which mounts some eight or ten guns. The interior of Fort McKee is provided with the necessary shot furnaces, officers' and soldiers' quarters, magazines, &c.
Pensacola bay, and directly fronting the entrance to its mouth. The work is erected on the site of an old Spanish fort. The fort is a bastioned work, built of heavy masonry, and mounts 49 guns, and in time of war requires a garrison of 250 men.--armament of the work is fully mounted, and its magazines are in good order. In the rear of the fort is a redoubt, which is auxiliary to Fort Barrancas. Some extensive repairs, have recently been completed on this redoubt, and the flanking howitzers of scarp and counter-scarp can be mounted with very little labor.
The North Carolina forts.Fort Macon protects Beaufort, N. C., and is situated on a bluff on Bogue's bank, one and three-fourths mile from the city. It commands the entrance to Beaufort harbor, having full sweep of fire on the main channel. The opposite entrance to the harbor is Shacklefords bank, one and a half miles across. The fortification is of hexagonal form, has two tiers of guns, one in casemated bomb proofs and the other en barbette. Its armament consists of twenty thirty-two-pounders, thirty-two twenty-four-pounders, two eighteen-pounders, two twelve-pounders, three field-pieces for flanking defence, twelve flank howitzers, eight eight-inch howitzers (heavy,) eight eight-inch howitzers (light,) one thirteen-inch mortar, three ten-inch mortars, two Coehorn mortars. Total, eighty-seven guns. The war garrison of the fort is three hundred men. This fort, however, is sadly in need of repairs; the masonry requires pointing in many places; nearly all the iron work, such as doors and window fastenings, are rusted away. One of the wooden bridges across the ditch is decayed, as also the shingled entire slope of the covert way. The shot furnace is useless, the store rooms need renovation, and the roadway requires to have its embankment repaired, and a new bridge to be built across the canal. The wharf, having its piers undermined by the sea current and its wooden superstructure much decayed, requires to be rebuilt. The fortification cost the Federal Government half a million dollars. Fort Caswell is a first-class fortification, of a hexagonal form, built of massive Northern granites masonry, having two tiers of guns under bombproof casemates, and one tier of guns en barbette. It is situated at the entrance of Cape Fear river, two miles from Smithville. Its armament consists of twelve 32 pounders, twenty-two 24-pounders, four 18-pounders, four 12 pounders, three field-pieces for flanking defences, six flank howitzers, six eight-inch howitzers, (heavy,) two ten-inch mortars and two Coehorn mortars — in all eighty-seven guns. The work is surrounded by ditches and advanced works, and is in every particular a first-class work. It cost the Federal Government $571,000. Its war garrison consists of 400 men. The work is generally in very good condition. A change is required in its armament, so that more guns may be mounted upon the gorge of the main work of the covered way, as these portions now bear directly upon the channel, which has shifted from the east to the west snore.--New platforms for these guns will require to be constructed. The battery Johnson, mounting ten guns, Situated at Smithville, with a magazine, is auxiliary to Fort Caswell.
Resolutions passed by New York.The New York Legislature has passed the following resolutions: ‘ Whereas,The insurgent State of South Carolina, after seizing the post office, custom-house moneys and fortifications of the Federal Government, has, by firing into a vessel ordered by the Government to convey troops and provisions to Fort Sumter, virtually declared war; ’ And whereas. The forts and property of the United States Government in Georgia. Alabama and Louisiana have been unlawfully seized with hostile intentions; And whereas, Their Senators in Congress avow and maintain their treasonable acts; therefore, Resolved.If the Senate concur, that the Legislature of New York is profoundly impressed with the value of the Union, and determined to preserve it unimpaired; that it greets with joy the recent firm, dignified and patriotic special message of the President of the United States, and that we tender to him, through the Chief Magistrate of our own State, whatever aid in men and money may be required to enable him to enforce the laws and uphold the authority of the Federal Government; and that in the defence of the Union, which has conferred prosperity and happiness upon the American people, renewing the pledge given and redeemed by our fathers, we are ready to devote our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honor. Resolved, If the Senate concur, that the Union-loving citizens and representatives of Delaware, Maryland. Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky. Missouri and Tennessee, who labor with devoted courage and patriotism to withhold their States from the vortex of secession, are entitled to the gratitude and admiration of the whole people. Resolved, If the Senate concur, that the Governor be respectfully requested to forward forthwith copies of the foregoing resolutions to the President of the nation, and the Governors of all the States of the Union. The question was taken on the adoption of the preamble and resolutions, and they were adopted by 117 to 2.
Items from the South.The Charleston papers of Friday furnish the following items: ‘ A company of Minute Men from Abbeville District arrived in this city on Wednesday night. They number one hundred men, and are as fine a looking body as any that can be raised. For the information of the Tribune and papers of that ilk, we state that ten members of this company took the first honor in the South Carolina College. The company is made up of the best material. Their uniform is a red frock and dark pants. The following is a list of their officers: Captain, J. M. Perrin; First Lieutenant, A. M. Smith; Second Lieutenant, J. G. Edwards; Third Lieutenant, A. J. Lithgoe. ’ The Monticello Volunteers, from Fairfield District, also passed down yesterday. It is also a strong body of fine looking men, and officered as follows: Captain, J. B. Davis; Lieutenants, J. T. Dawkins, W. J. Dawkins, R. J. Kelly. In Newberry, in the 28th regiment, on Saturday, the two companies were made up; in one of the battalions not 20 men were left when the call was made. In Clarendon, on Saturday, the call for volunteers was responded to by one company of 88, and one of 80, promptly marching out from the body of the regiment. Dr. A. M. Lynah, of the United States Navy, has resigned his commission, and returned to his native State. The Savannah Republican of Friday says: ‘ It gives us pleasure to be able to chronicle the fact that Capt. Hartsteine has resigned his position in the Federal Navy. Capt. H. entered the service at an early age, and has served long and faithfully, rising step by step from a young midshipman to his present exalted position in the front rank of American naval officers. No man has earned higher honors or wears them more gallantly. Long may he live to serve his native State. ’
Scenes in Charleston.The Charleston correspondent of the Baltimore American, writing in expectation of the entrance of the Star of the West, says: ‘ King street, as you know, is the principal retail business locality of Charleston, and serves as a general promenading ground during the afternoon. Yesterday evening, early after dinner, it was perfectly thronged with people. Ladies crowded the sidewalks, and as anxiously discussed the exciting news as the men. The streets were thronged with military uniforms — though by far the larger number of soldiers wore no other distinguishing mark than a pair of cross-belts, knapsack and bayonet. These were some of the country soldiers that had flocked into the city during the forenoon. I suppose that not less than 500 of these raw recruits arrived during the day from the uplands. Most of them wore the rough uncouth appearance of countrymen, and appeared to be the subjects of no little mirth to the women. All of them, however, appeared to me to be men of the right stripe. They seemed literally to be "spoiling for a fight. " ’ I saw three companies of them, numbering over 300 men altogether, drilling as recruits on the Citadel Green, and a more sturdy looking set of fellows I never came across. Not one seemed ever to have known sickness, or to have done anything else than eat "hoppin-john," rice and grist. The Green itself presented a more lively aspect than I have ever seen it assume. Besides the recruits, there were on review two artillery companies from the fort, numbering about 150 men, with 14 pieces of ordinance. A portion of the Citadel Cadets, not on active duty, was also on parade, while the immediate vicinity of the school was lumbered up with fifteen or twenty pieces of heavy ordnance, gun-carriages, &c., ready for transportation and use.
Meetings in Virginia.A meeting was held in Kanawha county Va., last week, at which, after adopting a resolution requesting the calling of a Convention, provided "that any act by it changing the relations of the State of Virginia towards the Federal Union, shall be submitted to the people." The following additional resolutions were unanimously adopted: ‘ That whilst Virginia, in all her acts and conduct has made more sacrifices and contributed more than any other State to form the Constitution of the United States, and to maintain the Union, she will not and cannot yield her just rights, nor sacrifice her honor, even for its preservation. That we are in favor of the preservation of the Union, if it can be done consistently with the rights and honor of the South, under the Constitution, but if it cannot be so maintained, then, that "the Union of the South is the safety of the South" That we are sternly opposed to and reprobate the use of force by the General Government to compel or coerce a seceding State and in view of the appalling calamities, which might flow from such a beginning, we hold it to be the highest duty of each party most scrupulously to avoid any and every occasion of outbreak or collision. ’
Lieut. Theodore Talbot, who was commissioned by Major Robert Anderson, of Fort Sumter, with dispatches for instructions from the General Government, passed through this city yesterday morning on route for Washington. He was in undress uniform, wore a foraging cap with glazed cover, and having on a citizen's overcoat, did not appear very much like a soldier. He is a man of small stature, resembling, in point of size, Maj. Wm. Gilham, of the Virginia Military Institute. His complexion and hair, however, are light, and light whiskers, a la militaire, adorn his cheeks. He appeared to be about thirty-five years of age, and walked erect and firmly, in true military style. He seemed to be pretty well finished with South Carolina bank notes, which he displayed in the office of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Company when hunting up some Virginia funds, with which to pay for his ticket. Lieut. Talbot is a native of the District of Columbia, but was appointed from Kentucky, in May, 1847, to the post of Second Lieutenant First Regiment U. S. Artillery.--He is a graduate of the Kentucky Military Institute. The date of his commission as a First Lieutenant of the Regiment, is September 22d, 1848; his rank in the Army is that of Brevet Captain.--Petersburg (Va) Express.