Browsing "No Compromise"

Lincoln's War Against Right, Reason, Justice and Nature

Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens asked for what reason the North arrayed its armies against the South, and why the North denies the spirit and essence of Jefferson’s Declaration to them. Stephen’s said the struggle for independence by the South was not Lincoln’s “idle and absurd assumption of the existence of a riot which was to be dispersed by a posse comitatus,” but the birth of a new American republic with the consent of the governed, and a more perfect American union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s War Against Right, Reason, Justice and Nature

In a speech delivered during the second year of the war, [Mr. Stephens] said:

“The States South had done nothing but what was their right – their inalienable right to do, the same as their ancestors did, in common with the North, when they severed their connection with the British Government.

This war was waged by the North in denial of this right, and for the purpose of conquest and subjugation. It was therefore, aggressive, wanton, and unjust. Such must be the judgment of mankind, let its results be what they may. The responsibility, therefore, for all its sacrifices of treasure and blood, heretofore and hereafter to be made in its prosecution, rests not upon us.

What is all this for? Why this array of armies? Why this fierce meeting in mortal combat? What is all this carnage and slaughter for? Why the prolongation of this conflict? Why this lamentation and mourning going up from almost every house and family from Maine to the Rio Grande, and from the Atlantic and Gulf to the Lakes, for friends and dear ones who have fallen by disease and violence in this unparalleled struggle?

The question, if replied from the North, can have but one true answer. What is all this for, on their part, but to overturn the principle upon which their own Government, as well as ours, is based – to reverse the doctrine that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed?”

What is it for but to overturn the principles and practice of their own Government from the beginning? That Government was founded and based upon the political axiom that all States and peoples have the inalienable right to change their form of government at will.

This principle was acted on in the recognition by the United States of the South American republics. This principle was acted on in the recognition of Mexico . . . the struggle of Greece to overthrow the Ottoman rule . . . the recognition of Texas, when she seceded, or withdrew, from the Government of Mexico.

Well may any and every one, North and South, exclaim, what is all this for? What have we done to the North? When have we ever wronged them? We quit them, it is true, as our ancestors and their ancestors quit the British Government. We quit as they quit – upon a question of constitutional right. That question they determined for themselves, and we have but done the same. What, therefore, is all this for?

It is a war, in short, on their part against right, against reason, against justice, against nature. If asked on our side what is all this for, the reply from every honest breast is that it is for home, for firesides, for our altars, for our birthrights, for property, for honor, for life – in a word, for everything for which freemen should live, and for which all deserving to be freemen should be willing, if need be, to die.”

(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 1861-1865, James D. Richardson, Volume I, US Publishing Company, 1906, pp. 175-176)

Flight to Exile and Freedom in the Confederacy

Former Vice President John C. Breckinridge sat in the US Senate as a representative of Kentucky in July 1861. He denounced Lincoln’s concentration of power in Washington as an act “which, in every age of the world, has been the very definition of despotism.” He also saw the Republican party using the war to change the very character of our government, and the reduction of the resisting State’s into territories governed by Lincoln’s appointees.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Flight to Exile and Freedom in the Confederacy

“On September 18 [1861], the Kentucky legislature formally ended neutrality and took the side of the Union. The arrests began the same night, and among the first to be taken was former Governor [Charles] Morehead of Louisville. At the same time, the pro-Southern Louisville Courier was suppressed. That same day several men throughout the nation advised Washington authorities that Breckinridge should be arrested.

The Republican Cassius Clay, who believed that “John C. Breckinridge . . . was never at heart a Secessionist.” Even a bearded little Union general, U.S. Grant, sympathized with the senator in some degree. “He was among the last to go over to the South,” Grant would say, “and was rather dragged into the position.”

He had fought for compromise and failed; he had sought peace and moderation and found only bitterness; and had proclaimed his devotion to the Union to the best of his ability . . . He was an innocent man, but he would be taken, denied his rights, and like Morehead, spirited away to a prison deep in the North to sit for months without hope.

On October 8, 1861, from Bowling Green, he issued his last address as a statesman, and his first as a Confederate. He returned the trust given him to represent Kentucky in the Senate, he said. He could no longer keep it. He had tried to stand for the State’s wishes in Washington, he had opposed Lincoln’s war policy at every step, even to refusing Kentucky’s men and money . . . ”I resign,” he said, “because there is no place left where a Southern Senator may sit in council with the Senators of the North. In truth, there is no longer a Senate of the United States within the meaning and spirit of the Constitution.”

The Union no longer existed, he continued, Lincoln had assumed dictatorial powers. The rights of person and property were being flagrantly violated every day. Unlawful arrests were the rule. The subjugation and conquest of the South were the rallying cries in the Federal Congress.

As for Kentucky, her rights of neutrality had been violated repeatedly, arms secretly supplied to Federal sympathizers, troops unlawfully raised within her borders, the legislature intimidated and packed with the minions of Washington, freedoms of speech, press, and assembly, restricted, and hundreds forced to flee their homes for safety. He explained his own flight to avoid arrest, saying he would have welcomed it if he had any assurance that it would have been followed by a trial of judge and jury, but he knew that would not be.

Would Kentucky stand by while all of this went on? Would she consent to the usurpations of Lincoln and his hirelings; would she suffer her children to be imprisoned and exiled by the “German mercenaries” that the Union was enlisting to fights its war? Never, he said.

Whatever might be the future relations of the two nations, the old Union could never again be reunited as it once was. He wanted peace between the them lest one conquer the other and the result be military despotism. To defend his own birthright and that of his fellow Kentuckians who had been denied the protection due them, and were forced to choose between arrest, exile, or resistance, he now exchanged the “with proud satisfaction, a term of six years in the Senate of the United States for the musket of a soldier.” As one of those forced to make that choice, he said, “I intend to resist.”

(Breckinridge, Statesman, Soldier, Symbol, William C. Davis, LSU Press, 1974, pp. 287- 290)

Americans Treated as Enemies

Enemy soldiers in the South sent revealing letters home which contained views shaped by official army policies, and censors allowed those which portrayed events in a government-approved light. The writer does note that Negro hands have left the farms, more the result of seizure than liberation; the desperate plea for more recruits reflects the lack of Northern enlistments after the carnage of mid-July 1862.  By this time Lincoln’s radicalized regime embarked on a total war strategy agaisnt Americans that would target civilians as well as armies.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865

 

Americans Treated as Enemies

“Camp Rufus King, July 22, 1862. The following letter we cut from the [Buffalo, New York] Courier:

“The South is paying dearly for this unnatural war upon the country. Famine and pestilence must soon follow on its desolating track. Seed time and harvest have passed, and the planter finds his barns empty. The standing grain has rotted in the field for the want of hands to gather it in.

Oh ye who live in the quiet of your peaceful homes, with all the comforts of life within your reach, and know little of the horrors of war, strengthen our ranks if you would have us stand between you and an earnest, determined foe. Rely not with too much confidence on the ability of the army to beat back the hordes that are arrayed against us. Every able-bodied man in the South is in arms, and they are terribly in earnest.

Not so with us. Our policy, hitherto, has been to conciliate rather than destroy our foe, and as we advance, looking upon the inhabitants as friends and allies until they prove themselves to be enemies. We have been deluded into the belief that there is a strong Union sentiment in the revolted States. It may be so, but it is very slow in manifesting itself.

Few indeed, have the courage to come out boldly and sustain the Government, while the vast majority [does] not hesitate to proclaim their preference for the Southern Confederacy. The [Southern] masses are ignorant to a degree that is startling to a Northerner. It knows little that transpires in the world beyond its immediate circle. It believes implicitly all that is told by the leading spirits of the neighborhood.

The very dialect of the mass betrays its ignorance – differing in no respect from that used by the slaves. And yet these men are told that the Northern mechanic and laboring man ranks no higher in the scale of civilization than the Negro, and that it is the yoke of these Northern mechanics and laborers that they are fighting to throw off.

Our policy of conducting the war is to be changed. It is time. We are in the enemy’s country, and those who inhabit it should be treated as enemies until they yield prompt obedience to the Government.”

(Chronicles of the Twenty-first Regiment, New York State Volunteers: Embracing a Full History of The Regiment, J. Harrison Mills, Regimental Veterans Association, Buffalo, 1887, pp. 201-202)

Fanatical and Intransigent Abolitionists

The antebellum abolitionists saw in majority rule the basis of power – that “might makes right” and through their higher law fiction new laws could be manufactured that would impose punishment on those they disliked. It should be noted that the author below mentions “the free States” as many historians do, but should rightly be identified as “former slave States.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Fanatical and Intransigent Abolitionists

“The abolitionist, sharing the transcendentalist’s refusal to accept the dictum vox populi vox dei, had to carry that refusal one step further: public opinion at any given time before the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth could never be the voice of God, and if it were, the reformer would lose his vocation. The voice of the reforming minority was the voice of God.

But the majority was also teachable; the reformer was God’s instrument to teach the nation the truth and the vanguard in its march to a better social order. [T]he abolitionist would insist that truth is not ascertained by public opinion polls, and he would point out that the majority in the 1830s and 1840s would vote against abolition of slavery, against prohibition (a few abolitionists would too), for capital punishment, and for Jim Crow laws in the free States.

The laws, customs, even the Constitution, reflecting the general will in the unregenerate state, could not be the authority on which the reformer based his claim to the role of teacher. His authority to a higher law as embodied in the Bible and conveniently set forth, in part, in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. The corrupt majority prevailed not because it was right, but because it could enforce its will. “Might makes right” was in the abolitionist’s view logically deducible from the principle of majority rule.

It follows that the reforming minority, while necessary, must always be unpopular. As Wendell Phillips put it, when explaining why even abolitionists who employed conciliatory and moderate language “found every man’s hand against them”: “our unpopularity is no fault of ours, but flows necessarily and unavoidably from our position.” [Those abolitionists who carried this logic to its conclusion would suggest . . . that public acceptance would be a sign that their duty was to move on to a new unpopular position.]

Their refusal to water down their “visionary” slogan was, in their eyes, eminently practical, much more so than the course of the antislavery senators and congressmen who often wrote letters to abolitionist leaders justifying their adaptation of antislavery demands to what was attainable.

The abolitionist, while criticizing such compromises, would insist that his own intransigence made favorable compromises possible. He might have stated his position thus: If politics is the art of the possible, agitation is the art of the desirable. For one thing, [this] can be useful to the political bargainer; the more extreme demand of the agitator makes the politician’s demand seem acceptable and perhaps desirable in the sense that the adversary may prefer to give up half a loaf rather than the whole.”

(Means and Ends in American Abolitionism, Aileen S. Kraditor, Pantheon Books, 1967, pp. 25-28)

Northern Hatred Shrouded in False Humanitarianism

Lincoln as president-elect had ample opportunity to tour the South to better understand the region, as well as chastise the fanatic abolitionists who fueled the secessionist impulses of the South. He did neither, and after his unconstitutional call for troops to levy war upon a State, gave North Carolina Unionists no alternative but to join their brethren in what they regarding as a more perfect American union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Northern Hatred Shrouded in False Humanitarianism

“Appealing to his constituents on a platform which included a protective tariff, internal improvements, free homesteads to free-soilers, and limiting slavery to its current borders, Abraham Lincoln won the presidency by pulling in the electoral votes of all the Northern States with the exception of New Jersey. In ten Southern States he pulled no votes at all and consequently had no electors from that section. The national voting performance indicated that Lincoln drew considerably fewer votes than the total number of ballots cast for his three rivals, Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell.

In searching for solutions to the troubling problems following the national elections, alert citizens wanted to know more about the kind of program the new president intended to implement during his administration. To effectively counter secession arguments, Southern Unionists needed answers to vital questions – answers only the president-elect could give.

Reflecting the anxiety of many was North Carolina Congressman John A. Gilmer’s letter of December 10, 1860, to Lincoln . . . [that] before assuming his high office, should “give the people of the United States the views and opinions you now entertain on certain public questions now so seriously distract[ing] the country.”

Lincoln, in his return letter . . . chose to continue his policy of silence relative to his pending administration. Giving assurance he did not intend to interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia, [and] seemed to imply flexibility “on everything except the territorial question, and on this he would not yield.”

To those citizens both North and South who were thoroughly convinced that slavery extension existed more in theory than in fact, the president-elect’s position bordered on absurdity. In truth, the plantation system was not destined to expand into any existing territories of the United States. The territory of New Mexico, for ten years open to settlement by slaveholders, recorded not one slave in the census of 1860. Colorado and Nevada were likewise without slaves. A few bondage blacks were to be found in Utah, and for the same year, census statistics indicated that two slaves resided in all of Kansas.

Thoughtful observers knew it would be a tragic mistake for Lincoln to proceed without a thorough understanding of the present South, reflecting the conditions brought on by a decade of intense and often bitter sectional rivalry with the North. Republican leaders, convinced as they were that an inevitable climax to the slavery issue was drawing near, surely would not overlook the strong likelihood that resolution was not attainable without secession and war.

Also, might certain essential observations have escaped Lincoln in his firm belief that there still remained throughout the South a strong residue of Union support and loyalty? In truth, Union sentiment in the region was much weaker than it had been in years past. The loyalty that had made North Carolinians proud to send James K. Polk to the presidency had now been supplanted by new and disturbing sensations.

For reasons valid or otherwise, there was furthermore a persistent suspicion that selfish and sinister forces were behind or perhaps a part of the Northern anti-slavery movement. If an irrepressible conflict lay ahead, as contended by some, how accurate was it to conclude that black people held in forced labor were the major cause of this impending crisis?

Tariffs revised upward, a national government favorable to the industrialization and capital investments so essential to expanding industry and commerce – these and related matters occupied the attention of Northern entrepreneurs and political leaders. Could it be that when spokesmen for these special interests lashed out critically against slavery, very often their zeal was intended not so much to liberate unfortunate black people as to obliterate the political power of the region in which they resided?

Was not the South – represented by its phalanx of representatives in Congress, by its dominance of the Supreme Court and almost continuous control of the executive branch, and by its agriculturally-oriented society . . . the real target of North attacks? Until this establishment was dismantled, impatient but determined Northern economic forces would continue to be held in check. So why not strike at the South’s Achilles’ heel by mounting a convincing humanitarian campaign against its “peculiar” institution?”

(Matt W. Ransom, Confederate General From North Carolina, Clayton C. Marlow, McFarland & Company, 1996, pp. 3-5)

Expelling Unworthy Members of the House

The Democratic opposition during the war believed that “if the Republicans continued in power they would ultimately destroy every shred of democratic choice and free behavior in the name of their conception of the right.” Ohio political leader Clement Vallandigham said “nothing but convulsion can come of this despotism,” and if Lincoln were to be reelected, “our Republican government is gone, gone, gone, and ere it is again revived we must pass through anarchy in its worst form.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Expelling Unworthy Members of the House

“[Clement Vallandigham of Ohio received support] from leading Democrats of the North, not only in his own State but from such men as Governor Seymour and Samuel J. Tilden of New York. We have referred to the plank of the Democratic platform adopted in 1864, which declared the war a failure, and it must be added that the convention was run, and the platform written and adopted, and the nomination made practically at the order of Vallandigham and his sympathizers.

To these instances must be added sentiments such as were uttered by Alexander Long, the Representative of the Second District of Ohio, in the Thirty-eighth Congress, who boldly defended the cause of the Confederacy as follows:

“I now believe that there are but two alternatives, and they are either an acknowledgement of the independence of the South as an independent nation, or their complete subjugation and extermination as a people; and of these alternatives I prefer the former.”

A resolution was offered for the expulsion of Long, declaring that by his speech he had given “aid, countenance and encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility to the United States.” The debate upon the resolution was opened by Mr. [James] Garfield of Ohio, then sitting in the House . . . for his first term [and] fresh from the battlefield of Chickamauga . . .

In answering Mr. Garfield, Benjamin G. Harris, of Maryland, said: “The South asks you to leave them in peace, but now you say you will bring them into subjection. That is not done yet, and God Almighty grant it may never be!”

This was followed by the offering of a resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Harris [and he subsequently] was declared to be an unworthy member of the House by a vote of 93 to 18. Fernando Wood, George H. Pendleton, the candidate for Vice President on the Democratic ticket of 1864, and Samuel J. Randall, afterwards Democratic Speaker of the House, were among those who voted in the negative. A resolution was also adopted declaring Mr. Long an unworthy member of the House.

[The Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery] had been adopted in the Senate on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. These six votes were cast by the two Democratic Senators from Kentucky, the two from Delaware, and by Mr. McDougall of California, and Mr. Hendricks of Indiana . . . Every Republican [in the House] without exception voted in the affirmative [119 to 56], together with sixteen Democrats.

Among the opposition we find the names of William S. Holman of Indiana, S.S. Cox, Alexander Long, whose treasonable words had been censured, and George H. Pendleton of Ohio, W.R. Morrison of Illinois, Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, and others who afterwards became leaders of the Democratic party.”

(The Republican Party, A History of Its First Fifty Years, Francis Curtis, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904, pp. 464-467)

An Exemplar for Generations to Come

General Jubal Early notes in his “Narrative of the War Between the States”: “On the 24th of May [1861], the day after the election in Virginia ratifying the ordinance of secession, the Federal troops . . . crossed over from Washington into Virginia, the bands playing and the soldiers singing “John Brown’s soul goes marching on”; and John Brown’s mission was, subsequently, but too well carried out in Virginia and all the Southern States under the inspiration of that anthem.” Slavery may have cause secession, but secession was the cause of invasion and war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

An Exemplar for Generations to Come

“[It] was believed by many persons that a large party at the North would oppose the prosecution of a war of invasion. It will be remembered by those at all conversant with the history of events at that time, how strong had been the party opposed to secession in the Convention then in session at Richmond (at least two-thirds of its members having been elected as Union men), and what strenuous efforts towards peace and compromise had been made by the Border States Commissioners.

The call upon Virginia, by President Lincoln, for her quota of troops to aid in subjugating the South, had settled the question, however, in the Convention; and in a few hours after Governor Letcher’s reply to that call, Virginia had virtually cast her lot with the Gulf States, although two weeks elapsed before she became a member of the Confederacy.

I had visited, some months previous to the secession of the State, many of the little villages in New England, where I saw that the population were in terrible earnest. “Wide awake,” and other secret societies were organized; and inflammatory harangues aroused the populace. The favorite theme of the orators was the “martyrdom” of John Brown; the piratical and murderous raid of that fanatic into the State of Virginia being exalted into a praiseworthy act of heroism.

When I returned to Virginia and contrasted the apparent apathy and want of preparation there with the state of affairs at the North, I trembled for the result. But when the State severed her relations with the Union, the Governor acted with great vigor and ability, and the most was made of the limited resources at his command. Volunteers responded with alacrity to the call to defend the State from invasion; and none responded more readily, or served more bravely, than those who had opposed secession in the Convention.

It seems invidious to cite particular examples; but the “noblest Trojan of them all” will point a moral, and serve as an exemplar for generations to come. Wise in council, eloquent in debate, bravest and coolest among the brave in battle, and faithful to his convictions in adversity, he still lives to denounce falsehood and wrong. Truly the old hero, in all he says and does, “gives the world assurance of a man.” I allude to General J[ubal] A. Early.”

(The Narrative of a Blockade Runner, John Wilkinson, (reprint) Valde Books, 1876/2009 pp. 4-5)

Coolidge's Manufactured Lies Passing as History

Long before the Fort Sumter collision at Charleston, efforts to avoid armed conflict were pursued by the South to settle its differences with the North and avoid bloodshed. From the Crittenden Compromise of late 1860 to the Confederate commissioners sent to Washington in March of 1861 — to the Hampton Roads Conference of February 1865, the Southern statesmen worked diligently to both avert and end the war. It becomes very clear that as one reviews the timeline of peace initiatives and conferences that one side wanted peace, and the other wanted war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Coolidge’s Manufactured Lies Passing as History

“After all, President Coolidge’s first installment of our history to set off Borglum’s group on a Western mountainside did not please the sculptor, and he wrote the history himself which is to be chiseled in stone and go down the ages! Who can say that it was not least as good as the ex-President’s?

At Gettysburg, on May 30, President [Herbert] Hoover exhibited to a marked degree that strange ignorance or that determined avoidance of the truth of history which we see when a speaker has to place Abraham Lincoln in that niche which had been fashioned for him by what Mr. Mencken calls “prostitute historians,” and which has now been accepted by the north, by the world, and even by the larger part of the South, which is both servile and ignorant, and yet it is a niche which shames truth and degrades history!

[Hoover] stated, in effect, that all the blood and horror and tears of the “Civil” War might have been avoided had the people been possessed of the human kindness and tolerance of Abraham Lincoln.

There could scarcely have been fashioned a statement which would have done more violence to the truth. The veriest tyro in history research must know that Abraham Lincoln was a part of, and largely cooperated with, that group which thought that “a little bloodletting will be good for this nation.”

Everyone not an ignoramus in Southern history must know that Lincoln opposed sending delegates to that compromise or peace convention which might, at the last moment, have devised some means for avoidance of the holocaust. Everyone not determined to make a point at expense of truth must know that Lincoln, secretly, determinedly, and almost alone, sent that fleet of reinforcements and supplies to Fort Sumter, and thus, as five of his cabinet had told him, brought on the war inevitably.

Lincoln did much to inaugurate war, and there is no word of history which sets forth the fact that he did any act or uttered any word which would have avoided war, and yet, in a speech which was to reach the ears of the world, President Hoover, at Gettysburg, makes the statement, totally devoid of accuracy, that we might have avoided war had we been possessed of the human kindness and tolerance of Abraham Lincoln, the man who more than any other, or any group of others, is responsible, as worthy historians now set forth, for the inauguration of four years of horror in this country.

We sometimes wonder if the Yankees do not get weary themselves of this incessant round of prevarication, or are they so steeped in this false history that they cannot see the truth. We know of many instances, which have come directly to our knowledge, where they refuse the truth when it is demonstrated to them. But are all of them that way?

Or is it just a part of the price, this living lie, which we, as a conquered people here in the South, must pay in order to establish the truth of that time-old statement which sets forth that a conquered people must have their history written by their conquerors, as has been done since Ur of the Chaldees, and submit, gracefully or otherwise, to the inevitable sequence of this, that our history shall be nothing but manufactured lies.”

(Our History in High Places, Arthur H. Jennings, Past Historian in Chief, SCV, Confederate Veteran, July 1930, pp. 254-255)

 

Republicans Block Schemes of Reconciliation

Seldom mentioned as a direct cause of the War Between the States is the Republican party refusal to compromise with Southerners in Congress in order to save the Union. As president-elect, Lincoln is said have led the resistance to compromise and pushing the South toward secession. After its first national electoral contest in 1856, the Republican party in 1861 would destroy the Founders’ Constitution and the union of fraternal States it had created.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Republican Block Schemes of Conciliation

“Congress was in session beginning December 3 [1860]; and in a bungling, legalistic fashion it was going about the business of saving the country. Incidentally, this should be borne in mind as a sidelight of Buchanan’s policy. With Congress seeking modes of adjustment, the President would have been going counter to the national legislature if he had taken warlike measures against the South.

Panaceas and compromise solutions piled up in such quantity that each house chose its committees to centralize the discussion, sift the numerous schemes, mediate between opposing points of view, and report such solution as seemed most hopeful of success.

In the House of Representatives this function was performed by the “Committee of Thirty-three,” a special “grand committee,” one from each State, created at the suggestion of Representative [Alexander R.] Boteler of Virginia. On the one hand the committee was embarrassed by the attitude of the radical Republicans, in Congress and elsewhere, who seemed intent upon blocking schemes of conciliation . . . [and on] December 13 . . . a group of Southern members of Congress, before secession had been voted in any State, issued an address to their constituents which read as follows:

“The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the Union, through the agency of committees, Congressional legislation, or constitutional amendments, and we trust the South will not be deceived by appearances or the pretence of new guarantees.

The Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the South. We are satisfied the honor, safety, and independence of the Southern people are to be found only in a Southern Confederacy – a result to be obtained only by separate State secession – and that the sole and primary aim of each slaveholding State ought to be its speedy and absolute separation from an unnatural and hostile Union.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, James G. Randall, D.C. Heath and Company, 1937, pp. 200-201)

Lincoln Forces the Issue of War

Lincoln’s failure to find compromise between North and South and intent to wage war upon South Carolina left North Carolina Unionists with no alternative but favor withdrawal from the federated compact. Unionist Jonathan Worth wrote on 30 May 1861: “North Carolina would have stood by the Union but for the conduct of the national administration which for folly and simplicity exceeds anything in modern history . . . ”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln Forces the Issue of War

“The Robert Todd Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress reveal a tremendous pressure put upon the President by Northern men to hold Fort Sumter. Against this policy are a few letters, particularly one of March 13, 1861, from Neal Dow, the famous prohibition champion of Maine, assuring the President that “the evacuation of Fort Sumter will be fully approved by the entire body of Republicans in this State,” if such an action arises from “a military necessity,” but expressing hope that Fort Pickens will be held.

Most of the letters relating to this crisis which have been preserved in the Lincoln collection urge a firm course, not only from motives of patriotism and honor but also from fear that a policy of appeasement would ruin the Republican party. Recent Democratic victories in local and State elections had alarmed the Republicans. Carl Schurz, a leader of the radical wing of the party, urged Lincoln on April 5 to take firm action to reinforce the forts, declaring that the Republicans were disheartened by his indecisive action and warning him of the loss of the fall elections by the Republicans if he failed to do so.

On March 28 a message form General [Winfield] Scott advised the abandonment of both Sumter and Pickens for political reasons. Shocked by the advice of the general in chief, Lincoln consulted his cabinet again (March 29) in regard to Fort Sumter, and this time only three of the seven secretaries clearly advocating holding the fort.

On the following day he ordered an expedition to be prepared in New York harbor for the purpose of relieving the beleaguered garrison at Charleston, to be “used or not according to circumstances.” The next move was up to the South Carolina authorities and the Confederate government. Accordingly, on April 10 President [Jefferson] Davis ordered [General P.G.T.] Beauregard, the Confederate commander at Charleston, to demand the surrender of Fort Sumter and to reduce it if the request should be refused. On April 13 Major Anderson surrendered the fort to Beauregard . . .

A study of public opinion in the North indicates that the mass of Northerners . . . strongly favored reinforcing Fort Sumter. Lincoln responded like a shrewd politician to this popular pressure which also coincided with his own convictions. {Delaying] the Fort Sumter expedition to the last moment . . . His policy was based on what has been aptly called “the strategy of defense,” or making it appear that the Federal government was engaged in the peaceful act of “enforcing the laws” and preserving Federal territory. If a conflict resulted therefrom the South, not the North, would be guilty of striking the first blow.

Lincoln’s purpose in dispatching the Fort Sumter expedition seems to have been non-aggressive, but actually in view of the state of feeling at Charleston this act was virtually forcing the issue of peace and war. One may well raise the question whether [William] Seward’s policy at this juncture, of letting the fort go as a result of military necessity and of continuing to seek a reconciliation, might not have been the wiser course.”

(A History of the Southern Confederacy, Clement Eaton, Free Press, 1965, pp. 24-28)