Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02.

  [Sidenote] Trescott’s Narrative, Samuel Wylie Crawford, “Story of
  Sumter.” pp. 28-30.

To prevent reenforcement was the vital point, and this had been clearly perceived and acted upon from the beginning.  While the preparation of President Buchanan’s message was yet under discussion the Cabinet cabal had earnestly deliberated upon the most effective intrigue to be employed to deter the President from sending additional troops to Charleston harbor.  In pursuance of the scheme agreed upon by them in caucus, Trescott wrote a letter to Governor Gist suggesting that the Governor should write a letter “assuring the President that if no reenforcements were sent, there would be no attempt upon the forts before the meeting of the convention, and that then commissioners would be sent to negotiate all the points of difference; that their hands would be strengthened, the responsibility of provoking collision would be taken from the State, and the President would probably be relieved from the necessity of pursuing this policy.”  Governor Gist acted upon the suggestion and wrote, under date of November 29, back to Trescott (giving him liberty to show the letter to the President): 

  [Sidenote] Gist to Trescott, Nov. 29, 1860.  Crawford, p. 31.

Although South Carolina is determined to secede from the Federal Union very soon after her convention meets, yet the desire of her constituted authorities is, not to do anything that will bring on a collision before the ordinance of secession has been passed and notice has been given to the President of the fact; and not then, unless compelled to do so by the refusal of the President to recognize our right to secede, by attempting to interfere with our exports or imports, or by refusal to surrender the forts and arsenals in our limits.  I have found great difficulty in restraining the people of Charleston from seizing the forts, and have only been able to restrain them by the assurance that no additional troops would be sent to the forts, or any munitions of war....  If President Buchanan takes a course different from the one indicated and sends on a reenforcement, the responsibility will rest on him of lighting the torch of discord, which will only be quenched in blood.

  [Sidenote] Trescott’s Narrative, Crawford, pp. 34 (line 16) and 42
  (lines 13-16).

Mr. Trescott showed this letter to the President on the evening of Sunday, December 2, and while his narrative does not mention any expression by Mr. Buchanan of either approval or dissent, his subsequent acts show a tacit acquiescence in Governor Gist’s propositions.

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