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The National crisis.

important correspondence — letter from Governor wise — Suspected parties in North Carolina--warlike preparations in Fort Moultrie, &c., &c.

An interesting circumstance connected with the lint, which the teachers and pupils of the Columbia (S. C.) Female College (during this their present recess) are preparing for the use, if need be, of our Southern army, is, that it is from linen sheets, spun and wove by a woman of the Revolution of 1776, (the great-grandmother of one of the teachers of the institution.)

Correspondence between the President and the South Carolina Commissioners.

The Charleston papers publish the correspondence between the South Carolina Commissioners and President Buchanan. The Commissioners, in ther letter, announce to the President that they are fully empowered to treat, on the part of South Carolina, for the forts, light-houses, &c., owned by the United States, within her limits. Before these negotiations could proceed, however, the "events of the last twenty-four hours," (which included the act of Maj. Anderson,) should, they think, be repudiated by the President. --Their letter concludes:

We came here the representatives of an authority which could at any time within the past sixty days have taken possession of the forts in Charleston harbor, but upon pledges given in a manner that we cannot doubt determined to trust to your honor rather than to its own power. Since our arrival an officer of the United States acting, as we are assured, not only without, but against your orders has dismantled one fort and occupied another, thus altering to a most important extent the condition of affairs under which we came.

Until these circumstances are explained in a manner which relieves us of all doubt as to the spirit in, which these negotiations shall be conducted, we are forced to suspend all discussion as to any arrangements by which our mutual interests might be amicably adjusted.

And in conclusion, we would urge upon you the immediate withdrawal of the troops from the harbor of Charleston. Under present circumstances they are a standing menace which renders negotiation impossible and as our recent experience shows, threatens speedily to bring to a bloody issue questions which ought to be settled with temperance and judgment.

We have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, your ob't. serv'ts.

R. W. Barnwell, Comm's.
J. H. Adams, Comm's.
Jas. L. Orr. Comm's.

To the President of the United States.

The President, in his reply, denies that any pledge was given to South Carolina, and gives this version of the supposed arrangement:

This being the condition of the parties, on Saturday, 8th December, four of the Representatives from South Carolina called on me, and requested an interview. We had an earnest conversation on the subject of these forts, and the best means of preventing a collision between the parties, for the purpose of sparing the effusion of blood. I suggested, for prudential reasons, it would be best to put in writing what they said to me verbally. They did so accordingly, and on Monday morning, the 10th instant, three of them presented to me a paper, signed by all the Representatives from South Carolina with a single exception, of which the following is a copy:

In compliance with our statement to you yesterday, we now express to you our strong convictions that neither the constituted authorities nor any body of the people of the State of 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.

Washington, 9th December, 1860.
And here I must, in justice to myself, remark that, at the time the paper was presented to me. I objected to the word "provided," as it might be construed into an agreement on my part which I never would make. They said that nothing was further from their intention — they did not so understand it, and I should not so consider it. It is evident they could enter into no reciprocal agreement with me on the subject. They did not profess to have authority to do this, and were acting in their individual character. I considered it as nothing more in effect than the promise of highly honorable gentlemen to exert their influence for the purpose expressed.

The world-knows that I have never sent any reinforcements to the forts in Charleston harbor, and I have certainly never authorized any change to be made in their relative military status. Bearing upon this subject, I refer you to an order issued by the Secretary of War, on the 11th inst., to Maj. Anderson, but not brought to my notice until the 21st inst. It is as follows:

Memorandum of the Verbal Instructions to Major Anderson, 1st Artillery, Commanding Fort Moultrie, South Carolina:

’ "You are aware of the great anxiety of the Secretary of War that a collision of the troops with the people of this State shall be avoided, and of his studied determination to pursue a course with reference to the military force and forts in this harbor which shall guard against such a collision He has, therefore, carefully abstained from increasing the force at this point, or taking any measures which might add to the present excited state of the public mind or which would throw any doubt on the confidence he feels that South Carolina will not attempt by violence, to obtain possession of the public works, or interfere with their occupancy.

But as the counsel and acts of rash and impulsive persons may possibly disappoint these expectations of the Government, he deems it proper that you should be prepared, with instructions, to meet so unhappy a contingency. He has therefore, directed me, verbally, to give you such instructions.

"You are carefully to avoid every act which would needlessly tend to provoke aggression, and for that reason you are not, without necessity, to take up any position which could be construed into the assumption of a hostile attitude; but you are to hold possess on of the forts in this harbor and if attacked, you are to defend yourself to the last extremity.

"The smallness of your force will not permit you perhaps, to occupy more than one of the three forts; but an attack on, or attempt to take possession of either of them, will be regarded as an act of hostility, and you may then put your command into either of them which you may deem most proper, to increase its power of resistance. You are also authorized to take similar steps whenever you have tangible evidence of a design to proceed to a hostile act.

D. P. Butler,
"Assistant Adjutant-General."

"Fort Moultrie, S. C.,Dec. 11, 1860.

"This is in conformity to my instructions to Major Buell.

John B. Floyd
"Secretary of War."

These were the last instructions transmitted to Major Anderson before his removal to Fort Sumter, with a single exception, in regard to a particular which does not in any degree affect the present question. Under these circumstances, it is clear that Major Anderson acted upon his own responsibility and without authority unless, indeed, he had "tangible evidence of a design to proceed to a hostile act" on the part of the authorities of South Carolina, which has not been alleged. Still he is a brave and honorable officer, and justice requires that he should not be condemned without a fair hearing.

Be this as it may, when I learned that Maj. Anderson had left Fort Moultrie and proceeded to Fort Sumter, my first prompting were to command him to return to his former position, and there to await the contingencies presented in his instructions. This would only have been done, with any degree of safety to the command, by the concurrence of the South Carolina authorities. But before any steps could possibly have been taken in this direction, we received information that the "Palmetto flag floated out to the breeze at Castle Pinckney, and a large military force went over last night (the 27th) to Fort Moultrie."

Thus, the authorities of South Carolina, without waiting or asking for any explanations, and, doubtless, believing as you have expressed it, that the officer had acted not only without, but against my orders, on the very next day after the night when the removal was made, seized, by a military force, two of the three Federal forts in the harbor of Charleston, and have covered them under their own flag, instead of that of the United States. At this gloomy period of our history, startling events succeed each other rapidly.

On the very day, the 27th instant, that possession of these two forts was taken, the Palmetto flag was raised over the Federal Custom-House and Post-Office in Charleston, and on the same day every officer of the Customs — Collector, Naval officer, Surveyor and Appraiser — resigned their offices. And this, although it was well known from the language of my Message, that, as an Executive officer, I felt myself bound to collect the revenue at the port of Charleston, under the existing laws. In the harbor of Charleston we now find three forts confronting each other, over all of which the Federal flag floated only four days ago; but now, over two of them this flag has been supplanted, and the Palmetto flag has been substituted in its stead.

It is under all these circumstances that I am urged immediately to withdraw the troops from the harbor of Charleston, and am informed that without this, negotiation is impossible. This I cannot do; this I will not do. Such an idea was never thought of by me in any possible contingency. No allusion had been made in any communication between myself and any human being. But the inference is, that I am bound to withdraw the troops from the only fort remaining in the possession of the United States, in the harbor of Charleston, because the officer there in command of all the forts, thought proper, without instructions, to change his position from one of them to another.

At this point of writing I have received information by telegraph, from Captain Humphreys, in command of the Arsenal at Charleston, that "it has to-day (Sunday, the 30th,) been taken by force of arms." It is estimated that the munitions of war belonging to the United States in this Arsenal are worth half a million of dollars.

Comment is needless. After this information, I have only to add, that whilst it is my duty to defend Fort Sumter, as a portion of the public property of the United States, against hostile attacks from whatever quarter they may come, by such means as I may possess for this purpose, I do not perceive how such a defence can be construed into a menace against the city of Charleston.

With great personal regard. I remain yours very respectfully,

James Buchanan.

To Honorable Robert W. Barawell, James H. Adams, James L. Orr.

The Commissioners' reply to the President assert that his accepting the statement of Messrs. Bonham, Keitt, and others, was a pledge; and further, that he promised to return that statement to those gentlemen before he would order any reinforcements to Charleston. They also assert that the President had determined not to remand Major Anderson before he heard the news of South Carolina having occupied the forts. They characterize the evacuation of Fort Moultrie as an "act of war," and thus conclude:

‘ "You have resolved to hold by force what you have obtained through our misplaced confidence, and by refusing to disavow the action of Major Anderson have convened his violation of orders into a legitimate act of your Executive authority.

"Be the issue what it may, of this we are assured, that it Fort Moultrie has been recorded in history as a memorial of Carolina gallantry, Fort Sumter will live upon the succeeding pare as an imperishable testimony of Carolina faith.

"By your course you have probably rendered civil war inevitable. Be it so. If you choose to force this issue upon us the State of South Carolina will accept it, and relying upon Him who is the God of justice as well as the God of Hosts, will endeavor to perform the great duty which lies before her, hopefully, bravely and thoroughly.

"Our mission being one for negotiation and peace, and your note leaving us without hope of a withdrawal of the troops from Fort Sumter, or of the restoration of the status quo existing at the time of our arrival, and intimating, as we think, your determination to reinforce the garrison in the harbor of Charleston, we respectfully inform you that we purpose returning to Charleston tomorrow afternoon."

’ This last letter of the Commissioners was returned to them with this endorsement:

Executive Mansion 3 o'clock.

This paper just presented to the President, is of such a character that he declines to receive it.

Letter from Ex-Gov. Wise.

The Richmond Enquirer, of yesterday, contains a letter from Ex-Gov. Wise, in reply to one written him by some gentleman of Pittsylvania. The recommendations may be stated as follows:

  1. 1st. The immediate call of a State Convention, by the General Assembly.
  2. 2d. The prompt resumption, by the Convention, of all powers hitherto delegated to the Federal Government, the resumption of which may be necessary to the present security of the State and the entire freedom of State action — especially the possession of all forts, arsenals, &c.
  3. 3d. That having assumed this position of resumed powers, the State shall not declare herself out of the Union; but "suspend all relations with offending States, until they accede to such ultimatum as our Convention may submit."
Ev.Gov. Wise does not enter at present upon the question as to the nature of the proposed "ultimatum;" considering that its discussion would be premature at this time, or, indeed, at any time previous to an act of decided and effectual resistance on the part of the State.

Moved on.

Christian King and his wife have been dispatched from Warrenton, N. C., for the North, for admitting negroes to their parlor and table, and being generally suspicious characters. The News says:

King is upwards of sixty years of age, possessing some property in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, and also owning two houses in Alexandria, Virginia. As he expressed an intention of returning there, or proceeding to Wilmington, N. C., we deem it our duty to state that the inveterate habits of King and his wife, in trading and associating with negroes on terms of equality, render them most undeniable members of a slaveholding community.

Guard at Harper's Ferry.

The Virginia Free Press, of Thursday, states that the Armory Guard, the Floyd Guard and Floyd Rifles, were ordered on duty on the day previous, at Harper's Ferry, in obedience to a dispatch received there from Washington, requiring them to do so. They were marched into the armory yard, awaiting any orders which might be sent them.

The "Workers" at Charleston.

A letter from Charleston to the Baltimore American says:

‘ At Fort Moultrie things are beginning to assume quite a warlike appearance. Most of the damage done by the evacuating soldiers of the United States has been repaired by the energy and skill of our forces. Sullivan's Island itself is also beginning to be aroused. The east end is fortified with a temporary fort of Palmetto logs and sand. It is garrisoned by 250 troops, and is supplied with heavy guns. Other commanding positions are being occupied, and large forces of laborers are engaged in throwing up works. In this labor all the hard cases and "hurrah boys" of Charleston, under command of Mr. "Handsome Charley," are employed, and form quite an efficient and good behaved corps. Mr. Charley is a well known character in this locality. He is a "rough" of the first water and a fair champion of the muscle. In addition to this force, some four hundred negroes, with pick axe and shovel in hand, have been thrown into the trenches, and do good service to the State. I have it, also, on good authority, that large numbers of free negroes are volunteering for service. What will the Massachusetts people think of this? Isn't it a hard nut to crack?

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