Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, a History Volume 02.

There immediately followed by the leaders in Charleston, and their agents and spokesmen in Washington, the daily repetition of threats and complaints (thus originated by the latter), which were continued for nearly three and a half months.  The purpose was twofold:  first, by alternately exciting the fears and hopes of the Government to induce it to withhold reenforcement as a prudential measure of magnanimity and conciliation; secondly, to make it a cloak to hide, as far as might be, their own preparations for war.  Had the Federal Government been in a condition of normal health and vigor, the farce would not have been effective for even a single day; but, with capital alarmed, with, parties divided into factions, with three traitors in the Cabinet, and a timid and vacillating Executive, by successive, almost imperceptible, degrees, the farce produced a policy and the policy led to an opening drama of civil war.

Leaving out of view anterior political doctrines and discussions, the first false step had been taken by the Administration in its doctrine of non-coercion, announced in the message; the second false step half logically resulting from the first, in its refusal on the first day of December to send Major Anderson the reenforcements he so urgently demanded.  The Charlestonians clung to the concession with a tenacity which demonstrated their full appreciation of its value.  Immediately there began to flow in upon Mr. Buchanan and his advisers, on the one hand magnified reports of the daily clamors of the Charleston mob, on the other hand encouraging intimations from the Charleston authorities that they, while adhering to their political heresies and demands, were yet averse to disorder and bloodshed, and to this end desired and invoked the utmost forbearance of the Government.  Put in truthful language, their request would have been, “Help us keep the peace while we are preparing to break the law.  Let the Government send no ships, men or supplies to the forts, in order that we may without danger or collision build batteries to take them.  Armament by the Federal sovereignty is war, armament by State authority is peace.”  And it will forever remain a marvel that a President of the United States consented to this certain process of national suicide.

CHAPTER XXIV

MR. BUCHANAN’S TRUCE

  [Sidenote] 1860.

The concession yielded by Mr. Buchanan, instead of tending to conciliate the conspirators only brought upon him additional demands.  It so happened that the principal Federal ships of war were absent from the harbors of the Atlantic coast on service in distant waters.  But now, as a piece of good fortune amid many untoward occurrences, the steam sloop-of-war Brooklyn, a new and formidable vessel of twenty-five guns, which had been engaged in making preliminary surveys in the Chiriqui Lagoon to test the practicability of one of the proposed interoceanic ship canals, unexpectedly returned to the Norfolk navy yard on the 28th of November, less than a week before the meeting of Congress.  She had until recently been under the command of Captain Farragut, afterwards famous in the war of the rebellion, and was, with trifling exceptions, ready for sea.

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Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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