In November, 1860, after the result of the Presidential election was known, the Governor of Mississippi, having issued his proclamation convoking a special session of the Legislature to consider the propriety of calling a convention, invited the Senators and Representatives of the State in Congress to meet him for consultation as to the character of the message he should send to the Legislature when assembled.... While engaged in the consultation with the Governor just referred to, a telegraphic message was handed to me from two members of Mr. Buchanan’s Cabinet, urging me to proceed “immediately” to Washington. This dispatch was laid before the Governor and the members of Congress from the State who were in conference with him, and it was decided that I should comply with, the summons ... On arrival at Washington, I found, as had been anticipated, that my presence there was desired on account of the influence which it was supposed I might exercise with the President (Mr. Buchanan) in relation to his forthcoming message to Congress. On paying my respects to the President, he told me that he had finished the rough draft of his message, but that it was still open to revision and amendment, and that he would like to read it to me. He did so and very kindly accepted all the modifications which I suggested. The message was, however, afterwards somewhat changed.
In the documents we have presented, though they manifestly form but the merest fragment of the secret correspondence which passed between the chief conspirators, and of the written evidence recorded by them in various forms, then and afterwards, we have a substantial unmasking of the combined occult influences which presided over the initiatory steps of the great American Rebellion—its central council—the master wheel of its machinery—and the connecting relation which caused all its subordinate parts to move in harmonious accord.
With the same mind to dictate a secession message to a Legislature and a non-coercion message to Congress—to assemble insurrectionary troops to seize Federal forts and withhold Government troops from their protection—to incite governors to rebellion and overawe a weak President to a virtual abdication of his rightful authority, history need not wonder at the surprising unity and early success of the conspiracy against the Union.
----------  Printed on pages 791 to 794 in “The Life and Times of Robert E. Lee,” etc. By a distinguished Southern journalist. (E.A. Pollard, author of “The Lost Cause.”)
FROM THE BALLOT TO THE BULLET
The secret circular of Governor Gist, of South Carolina, heretofore quoted, inaugurated the great American Rebellion a full month before a single ballot had been cast for Abraham Lincoln. This was but repeating in a bolder form the action taken by Governor Wise, of Virginia, during the Fremont campaign four years before. But, instead, as in that case, of confining himself to a proposed consultation among slave-State executives, Governor Gist proceeded almost immediately to a public and official revolutionary act.