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northern acquisitions. And thus I hoped that the provision respecting future territory would prevent any further acquisitions of territory, and I did not desire that any more should be made.

These were my reasons for submitting the proposition in relation to future acquired territory. But my great object was compromise,-compromise on terms satisfactory, as far as possible, to all parties and all sections; and when I found that this provision in my resolutions was much and particularly objected to, and might prove an obstacle to their adoption, I determined, in my anxiety for compromise, that I would not insist upon it, but would consent to have it stricken out.

To accomplish the great object I had in view, the peace and union of the country, I would, rather than have witnessed their total failure, have yielded to any modification of my resolutions that would not, in my judgment, have destroyed their essential character and their pacifying effect. Indeed, I intended, if opportunity had been afforded me, to make several amendments in the phraseology of those resolutions, in order to render their language as little offensive as possible.

I wish to see reconciliation and union established. It was of no importance by whose resolutions or by whose measures it was brought about, so that the great end was accomplished.

It was in that spirit, that when the Peace Conference or Convention, that met at Washington upon the invitation of the State of Virginia, made a report to Congress of the resolutions or measures recommended by them for the restoration of peace and union, I at once determined to support their measures rather than those I had before proposed. I did this, not only because their propositions contained, as I thought, the substance of my own, but because they came with the high sanction of a convention of twenty-one States, and would, therefore, be more likely to be acceptable to Congress and the country. Besides that, I felt myself somewhat bound to act with this deference to a convention so distinguished. I had ascertained to my satisfaction that the resolutions would not be adopted in the Senate.

Mrs. Chapman [Ann M.] Coleman, The Life of John J. Crittenden, with Selections from his Correspondence and Speeches (Philadelphia, 1871), II, 296–297.


70. Shall Sumter be Relieved? (1861)


On March 16 President Lincoln obtained written opinions from every member of his cabinet, and found that only two favored an attempt to relieve Fort Sumter. On March 29 he obtained a second set of opinions, which are printed in this extract. The question was complicated, depending upon both military and political considerations. On April 4 the President finally decided to send provisions to Anderson, and the Confederacy thereupon cut the Gordian knot by firing upon Sumter. - Bibliography: Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, IV, ch. ii; Channing and Hart, Guide, § 208.

R. SEWARD, Secretary of State, wrote:


First. The despatch of an expedition to supply or reinforce Sumter would provoke an attack, and so involve a war at that point.

The fact of preparation for such an expedition would inevitably transpire, and would therefore precipitate the war, and probably defeat the object. I do not think it wise to provoke a civil war beginning at Charleston, and in rescue of an untenable position.

Therefore I advise against the expedition in every view.

Second. I would call in Captain M. C. Meigs forthwith. Aided by his counsel, I would at once, and at every cost, prepare for a war at Pensacola and Texas: to be taken, however, only as a consequence of maintaining the possessions and authority of the United States.

Third. I would instruct Major Anderson to retire from Sumter forthwith.

Mr. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, wrote:

If war is to be the consequence of an attempt to provision Fort Sumter, war will just as certainly result from the attempt to maintain possession of Fort Pickens.

I am clearly in favor of maintaining Fort Pickens, and just as clearly in favor of provisioning Fort Sumter.

If that attempt be resisted by military force, Fort Sumter should, in my judgment, be reinforced.

If war is to be the result, 1 perceive no reason why it may not be best begun in consequence of military resistance to the efforts of the administration to sustain troops of the Union, stationed under the authority of the government, in a fort of the Union, in the ordinary course of service.

Mr. Welles, Secretary of the Navy, wrote:

I concur in the proposition to send an armed force off Charleston with supplies of provisions and reinforcements for the garrison at Fort Sumter, and of communicating at the proper time the intentions of the government to provision the fort peaceably if

unmolested. There is little probability that this will be permitted if the opposing forces can prevent it. An attempt to force in provisions without reinforcing the garrison at the same time might not be advisable; but armed resistance to a peaceable attempt to send provisions to one of our own forts will justify the government in using all the power at its command to reinforce the garrison and furnish the necessary supplies. Fort Pickens and other places retained should be strengthened by additional troops, and, if possible, made impregnable.

The naval force in the gulf and on the southern coast should be increased. Accounts are published that vessels having on board marketable products for the crews of the squadron at Pensacola are seized-the inhabitants we know are prohibited from furnishing the ships with provisions or water; and the time has arrived when it is the duty of the government to assert and maintain its authority.

Mr. Smith, Secretary of the Interior, wrote:

Viewing the question whether Fort Sumter shall be evacuated as a political one, I remark that the effect of its evacuation upon the public mind will depend upon the concurrent and subsequent action of the government. If it shall be understood that by its evacuation we intend to acknowledge our inability to enforce the laws, and our intention to allow treason and rebellion to run their course, the measure will be extremely disastrous and the administration will become very unpopular. If, however, the country can be made to understand that the fort is abandoned from necessity, and at the same time Fort Pickens and other forts in our possession shall be defended, and the power of the government vindicated, the measure will be popular and the country will sustain the administration.

Believing that Fort Sumter cannot be successfully defended, I regard its evacuation as a necessity, and I advise that Major Anderson's command shall be unconditionally withdrawn.

At the same time I would adopt the most vigorous measures for the defense of the other forts, and if we have the power I would blockade the Southern ports, and enforce the collection of the revenue with all the power of the government.

Mr. Blair, Postmaster-General, wrote . . .


Second. It is acknowledged to be possible to relieve Fort Sumter. It ought to be relieved without reference to Pickens or any other possession. South Carolina is the head and front of this rebellion, and when that State is safely delivered from the authority of the United States it will strike a blow against our authority from which it will take us years of bloody strife to recover.

Third. For my own part, I am unwilling to share in the responsibility of such a policy. Mr. Bates, Attorney-General, wrote:

It is my decided opinion that Fort Pickens and Key West ought to be reinforced and supplied, so as to look down opposition at all hazards—and this whether Fort Sumter be or be not evacuated.

It is also my opinion that there ought to be a naval force kept upon the southern coast sufficient to command it and, if need be, actually close any port that practically ought to be closed, whatever other station is left unoccupied.

It is also my opinion that there ought to be immediately established a line of light, fast-running vessels, to pass as rapidly as possible between New York or Norfolk at the North and Key West or other point in the gulf at the South.

As to Fort Sumter, I think the time is come either to evacuate or relieve it.

Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works (edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay, New York, 1894), II, 26–28 passim.

71. Breaking of the Storm (1861)



Walker served as Confederate secretary of war during the first year of the Re. bellion, but was not otherwise eminent. Beauregard had been an officer in the United States army, but resigned to take charge of the Confederate defences of Charleston: during the war he rose to the rank of general, and served with distinction in different parts of the Confederacy. Anderson was of southern birth, and a veteran of thirty-five years' service in the United States army; his firm stand for the Union and his sagacious operations in Charleston harbor, together with his sturdy defence of Sumter, give him a just claim to remembrance among the preservers of the Union. The attack on Sumter placed on the South the onus of aggression. - Bibliography as in No. 70 above.



CHARLESTON, April 8, 1861.

UTHORIZED messenger from Lincoln just informed Governor Pickens and myself that provisions would be sent to Sumter peaceably, otherwise by force. G. T. BEAUREGARD. . .

General BEAUREGARD, Charleston:

MONTGOMERY, April 10, 1861.

If you have no doubt of the authorized character of the agent who communicated to you the intention of the Washington Government to supply Fort Sumter by force you will at once demand its evacuation, and if this is refused proceed, in such manner as you may determine, to reduce it. Answer.


CHARLESTON, April 10, 1861.


The demand will be made to-morrow at 12 o'clock.


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Charleston, S. C., April 11, 1861.

SIR: The Government of the Confederate States has hitherto forborne from any hostile demonstration against Fort Sumter, in the hope that the Government of the United States, with a view to the amicable

adjustment of all questions between the two Governments, and to avert the calamities of war, would voluntarily evacuate it.

There was reason at one time to believe that such would be the course pursued by the Government of the United States, and under that impression my Government has refrained from making any demand for the surrender of the fort. But the Confederate States can no longer delay assuming actual possession of a fortification commanding the entrance of one of their harbors, and necessary to its defense and security.

I am ordered by the Government of the Confederate States to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter. My aides, Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee, are authorized to make such demand of you. All proper facilities will be afforded for the removal of yourself and command, together with company arms and property, and all private property, to any post in the United States which you may select. The flag which you have upheld so long and with so much fortitude, under the most trying circumstances, may be saluted by you on taking it down.

Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee will, for a reasonable time, await your answer.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


G. T. BEAUREGARD, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Commanding at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, S. C.

FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 11, 1861.

GENERAL I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication demanding the evacuation of this fort, and to say, in reply thereto, that it is a demand with which I regret that my sense of honor, and of my obligations to my Government, prevent my compliance. Thanking you for the fair, manly, and courteous terms proposed, and for the high compliment paid me,

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brig. Gen. Beauregard,

Commanding Provisional Army.

ROBERT ANDERSON, Major, First Artillery, Commanding.

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