The Fort Sumter correspondence.the Summons to surrender — refusal of Maj. Anderson--the demand on the Federal Government, &c.
The correspondence between the South Carolina authorities and Maj. Anderson and the Federal Government, relative to Fort Sumter, is published. The following letters are of interest:
[the Governor to Major Anderson.]
To Major Rovert Anderson, Commanding Fort Sumter: Sir:
[Signed] F. W. Pickens.
[Major Anderson to the Governor.]
To His Excellency F. W. Pickens, Governor of South Carolina: Sir:
With the highest regard,
Your obedient servant,
Major U. S. Army, Commanding.
[the Governor to the President of the United States.]
[instructions from the State Department of the Executive Office to the Hon. I. W. Hayne.]State of South Carolina and the United States, to make a demand upon the President of the United States, for the delivery to the State of South Carolina of Fort Sumter, now within the territorial limits of this State, and occupied by troops of the United States. The Convention of the people of South Carolina authorized and empowered its Commissioners to enter into negotiations with the Government of the United States for the delivery of forts, magazines, lighthouses, and other real estate within the limits of South Carolina. The circumstances which caused the interruption of that negotiation are known to you with the formal notification of its cessation, was the urgent expression of the necessity for the withdrawal of the troops of the United States from the harbor of Charleston. The interruption of these negotiations left all matters connected with Fort Sumter and troops of the United States within the limits of this State, affected by the fact, that the continued possession of the fort was not consistent with the dignity or safety of the State, and that an attempt to reinforce the troops at that fort would not be allowed. This, therefore, became a state of hostility, in consequence of which the State of South Carolina was placed in a condition of defence. During the preparations for this purpose, an attempt was made to reinforce Fort Sumter, and repelled. You are now instructed to proceed to Washington, and there, in the name of the Government of the State of South Carolina, inquire of the President of the United States, whether it was by his order that troops of the U. States were sent into the harbor of Charleston to reinforce Fort Sumter; if he avows that order, you will then inquire whether he assorts a right to introduce troops of the United States within the limits of this State to occupy Fort Sumter; and you will, in case of his avowal, inform him that neither will be permitted; and either will be regarded as his declaration of war against the State of South Carolina. The Governor, to save life, and determined to omit no course of proceeding usual among civilized nations previous to that condition of general hostilities which belongs to war; and not knowing under what order, or by what authority, Fort Sumter is now held, demanded from Major Robert Anderson, now in command of that fort, its delivery to the State--That officer, in his reply, has referred the Governor to the Government of the United States at Washington. You will, therefore, demand from the President of the United States the withdrawal of the troops of the U. States from that fort, and its delivery to the State of South Carolina. You are instructed not to allow any question of property claimed by the United States to embarrass the assertion of the political right of the State of South Carolina to the possession of Fort Sumter. The possession of that fort by the State is alone consistent with the dignity and safety of the State of South Carolina; but such possession is not inconsistent with a right to compensation in money in another government, if it has against the State of South Carolina any just claim connected with that fort. But the possession of the fort cannot, in regard to the State of South Carolina, be compensated by any consideration of any kind from the Government of the United States, when the possession of it by the Government is invasive of the dignity and affects the safety of the State. That possession cannot become now a matter of discussion or negotiation. You will, therefore, require from the President of the United States a positive and distinct answer to your demand for the delivery of the fort. And you are further authorized to give the pledge of the State to adjust all matters which may be, and are in their nature, susceptible of valuation in money, in the manner most usual, and upon the principles of equity and justice always recognized by independent nations, for the ascertainment of their relative rights and obligations in such matters. You are further instructed to say to the President of the United States, that the Governor regards the attempt of the President of the United States, if avowed, to continue the possession of Fort Sumter as inevitably leading to a bloody issue, a question which, in the judgment of the Governor, can have but one conclusion, reconcilable with a due regard to the State of South Carolina, the welfare of the other States which now constitute the United States, and that humanity which teaches all men, but particularly those who in authority control the Hyes of others, to regard a resort to arms as the last which should be considered. To shed their blood in defence of their rights is a duty which the citizens of the State of South Carolina fully recognize. And in such a cause, the Governor, while deploring the stern necessity which may compel him to call for the sacrifice, will feel that his obligation to preserve inviolate the sacred rights of the State of South Carolina, justify the sacrifice necessary to secure that end. The Governor does not desire to remind the President of the responsibilities which are upon him.
A. G. Magrath.
To Hon. I. W. Hayne, Special Envoy from the State of South Carolina to the President of the United States. On the arrival of Col. Hayne in Washington, ten Southern Senators, including Jeff. Davis, Slidell, Benjamin, and Wigfall, wrote him a letter, advising him to delay the demand until the seceded States should have formed a confederacy. They offer to propose to the President to guarantee that Fort Sumter shall not be reinforced in the mean time. In reply to this letter Col. Hayne accedes to the request, and assures them that if the President gives that guarantee, South Carolina will not attack Fort Sumter. The ten Southern Senators then lay before the President the correspondence between them and Col. Hayne, and through Secretary Holt receive--
[the President's Reply.]In regard to the proposition of Col. Hayne, "that no reinforcements will be sent to Fort Sumter, in the interval, and that the public peace will not be disturbed by any act of hostility towards South Carolina," it is impossible for me to give you any such assurances.--The President has no authority to enter into such an agreement or understanding. As an Executive officer, he is simply bound to protect the public property, so far as this may be practicable; and it would be a manifest violation of his duty to place himself under engagements that he would not perform this duty either for an indefinite or a limited period. At the present moment, it is not deemed necessary to reinforce Major Anderson, because he makes no such request, and feels quite secure in his position. Should his safety, however, require reinforcements, every effort will be made to supply them. In regard to the assurance from the President ‘"that the public peace will not be disturbed by any act of hostility towards South Carolina,"’ the answer will readily occur to yourselves. To Congress, and to Congress alone, belongs the power to make war, and it would be an act of usurpation for the Executive to give any assurances that Congress would not exercise this power, however strongly he may be convinced that no such intention exists. I am glad to be assured, from the letter of Col. Hayne, that ‘"Major Anderson and his command do now obtain all necessary supplies, including fresh meat and vegetables, and, I believe, fuel and water from the city of Charleston, and do now enjoy communication, by post and special messenger, with the President, and will continue to do so, certainly until the door to negotiation has been closed. "’ I trust that these facilities may still be afforded to Major Anderson. This is as it should be. Major Anderson is not menacing Charleston; and I am convinced that the happiest result which can be attained is, that both he and the authorities of South Carolina shall remain on their present amicable footing, neither party being bound by any obligations whatever, except the high Christian and moral duty to keep the peace, and to avoid all causes of mutual irritation.
Your obedient servant,
Secretary of War, ad interim.
This reply is sent by the Senators to Colonel Hayne, with the hope that while its terms are not "as satisfactory as could be desired," yet South Carolina will not feel it her duty to open hostilities. Col. Hayne then refers all the correspondence to the Government of South Carolina, and, under date of Jan. 26th, receives a letter from Secretary Magrath, which he is informed will be the last addressed him on the subject. The letter says: ‘ "The opinion of the Governor, as to the propriety of the demand which is contained in the letter, with the delivery of which you are charged, has not only been confirmed by the circumstances which your mission has developed, but is now increased into a conviction of its necessity. The safety of the State requires that the position of the President should be distinctly understood. The safety of all the seceding States requires it, as much as the safety of South Carolina. If it be so, that Fort Sumter is held but as property, then, as property, the rights, whatever they may be, of the United States, can be ascertained; and for the satisfaction of those rights, the pledge of the State of South Carolina you are authorized to give. If Fort Sumter is not held as property, it is held as a military post; and such a post, within the limits of this State, will not be tolerated. "The letter of the President may be received as the reply to the question you were instructed to ask, as to his assertion of the right to send reinforcements to Fort Sumter. You were instructed to say to him, if he asserted that right, that the State of South Carolina regarded such a right, when asserted, or with an attempt at its exercise, as a declaration of war. If the President intends it shall not be so understood, it is proper, to avoid any misconception hereafter, that he should be informed of the manner in which the Governor will feel bound to regard it. "If the President, when you have stated the reasons which prompt the Governor in making the demand for the delivery of Fort Sumter, shall refuse to deliver the fort, upon the pledge you have been authorized to make, you will communicate that refusal, without delay, to the Governor. If the President shall not be prepared to give you an immediate answer, you will communicate to him that his answer may be transmitted, within a reasonable time, to the Governor at this place. The Governor does not consider it necessary that you should remain in Washington any longer than is necessary to execute this, the closing duty of your mission, in the manner now indicated to you. As soon as the Governor shall receive from you information that you have closed your mission, and the reply, whatever it may be, of the President, he will consider the conduct which will be necessary on his part." ’