DEAR RHETT: I received your letter this morning. As to my views or opinions of the Administration, I can, of course, say nothing. As to Mr. Cobb’s views, he is willing that I should communicate them to you, in order that they may aid you in forming your own judgment; but, you will understand that this is confidential—that is, neither Mr. Cobb nor myself must be quoted as the source of your information. I will not dwell on this, as you will, on a moment’s reflection, see the embarrassment which might be produced by any authorized statement of his opinions. I will only add, by way of preface, that after the very fullest and freest conversations with him, I feel sure of his earnestness, singleness of purpose, and resolution in the whole matter.
Mr. Cobb believes that the time is come for resistance; that upon the election of Lincoln, Georgia ought to secede from the Union, and that she will do so; that Georgia and every other State should, as far as secession, act for herself, resuming her delegated powers, and thus put herself in position to consult with other sovereign States who take the same ground. After the secession is effected, then will be the time to consult. But he is of opinion, most strongly, that whatever action is resolved on should be consummated on the 4th of March, not before.
That while the action determined on should be decisive and irrevocable, its initial point should be the 4th of March. He is opposed to any Southern convention, merely for the purpose of consultation. If a Southern convention is held, it must be of delegates empowered to act, whose action is at once binding on the States they represent.
But he desires me to impress upon you his conviction, that any attempt to precipitate the actual issue upon this Administration will be most mischievous—calculated to produce differences of opinion and destroy unanimity. He thinks it of great importance that the cotton crop should go forward at once, and that the money should be in the hands of the people, that the cry of popular distress shall not be heard at the outset of this move.
My own opinion is that it would be well to have a discreet man, one who knows the value of silence, who can listen wisely, present in Milledgeville, at the meeting of the State Legislature, as there will be there an outside gathering of the very ablest men of that State.
And the next point, that you should, at the earliest possible day of the session of our own Legislature, elect a man as governor whose name and character will conciliate as well as give confidence to all the men of the State,—if we do act, I really think this half the battle,—a man upon whose temper the State can rely.
I say nothing about a convention, as I understand, on all hands, that that is a fixed fact, and I have confined myself to answering your question. I will be much obliged to you if you will write me soon and fully from Columbia.