When Mr. Lincoln’s departure from Harrisburg became known, a reckless newspaper correspondent telegraphed to New York the ridiculous invention that he traveled disguised in a Scotch cap and long military cloak. There was not one word of truth in the absurd statement. Mr. Lincoln’s family and suite proceeded to Washington by the originally arranged train and schedule, and witnessed great crowds in the streets of Baltimore, but encountered neither turbulence nor incivility of any kind. There was now, of course, no occasion for any, since the telegraph had definitely announced that the President-elect was already in Washington.
The Secession Movement—South Carolina Secession—Buchanan’s Neglect—Disloyal Cabinet Members—–Washington Central Cabal—Anderson’s Transfer to Sumter—Star of the West—Montgomery Rebellion—–Davis and Stephens—Corner-stone Theory—Lincoln Inaugurated—His Inaugural Address—Lincoln’s Cabinet—The Question of Sumter—Seward’s Memorandum—Lincoln’s Answer—Bombardment of Sumter—Anderson’s Capitulation
It is not the province of these chapters to relate in detail the course of the secession movement in the cotton States in the interim which elapsed between the election and inauguration of President Lincoln. Still less can space be given to analyze and set forth the lamentable failure of President Buchanan to employ the executive authority and power of the government to prevent it, or even to hinder its development, by any vigorous opposition or adequate protest. The determination of South Carolina to secede was announced by the governor of that State a month before the presidential election, and on the day before the election he sent the legislature of the State a revolutionary message to formally inaugurate it. From that time forward the whole official machinery of the State not only led, but forced the movement which culminated on December 20 in the ordinance of secession by the South Carolina convention.
This official revolution in South Carolina was quickly imitated by similar official revolutions ending in secession ordinances in the States of Mississippi, on January 9, 1861; Florida, January 10; Alabama, January 11; Georgia, January 19; Louisiana, January 26; and by a still bolder usurpation in Texas, culminating on February 1. From the day of the presidential election all these proceedings were known probably more fully to President Buchanan than to the general public, because many of the actors were his personal and party friends; while almost at their very beginning he became aware that three members of his cabinet were secretly or openly abetting and promoting them by their official influence and power.
Instead of promptly dismissing these unfaithful servants, he retained one of them a month, and the others twice that period, and permitted them so far to influence his official conduct, that in his annual message to Congress he announced the fallacious and paradoxical doctrine that though a State had no right to secede, the Federal government had no right to coerce her to remain in the Union.