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nois, was definitely determined. The position occupied by Mr. Seward before the country, was such as to leave no hesitation as to the propriety of offering him the highest place of honor under the Executive, as Secretary of State. This position was, at an early day, placed at Mr. Seward's disposal. The office of Attorney General was, with like promptitude, tendered to Judge Bates, of Missouri, whose leading position as a Southern statesman, with anti-slavery tendencies, of the Clay school, had caused his name to be prominently and widely used in connection with the Presidency before the nomination for that office, made at Chicago. Governor Chase, of Ohio, who had recently been clected to a second term in the Senate, after four years of useful and popular service in the executive chair of his State, perhaps quite as early occurred to the mind of Mr. Lincoln as a man specially fitted to manage the finances of the nation through the troublous times that were felt to be approaching. This difficult post Mr. Chase surrendered his seat in the Senate to accept. Mr. Cameron, of Pennsylvania, selected as Secretary of War; Mr. Welles, of Connecticut, as Secretary of the Navy, and Mr. Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, as Postmaster General, were all leading representatives of the Democratic element of the party which had triumphed in the late clection. Mr. Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, a contemporary of Mr. Lincoln in Congress, and for years one of the most distinguished Whig politicians of the West, was tendered the place of Secretary of the Interior, which he accepted.
It deserves remark here, that John Bell, of Tennessee, who had received a large popular vote at the Presidential election, and whose strength in the electoral college made him the tl ird of four Presidential nominees, was at this time in Washington, and his appointment to a place in the Cabinet, as a loyal Border State man, was desired by many, especially in the West. But Mr. Blair, an avowed Anti-Slavery man, and viewed as one of the most radical of Republicans, was preferred to Mr. Bell, zealous partisan opponent, and one whose unreliable character, as developed by his sudden defection to the Rebel cause, President Lincoln was not slow to perceive.
Next to the indispensable and primary duty of securing, in
the places under him, trustworthy men, in sympathy with himself as to the great questions uppermost in the public mind, was that of more directly preparing, at home and abroad, to grapple with the rebellion, now fully organized at Montgomery, and manifestly emerging, with mad haste, into open hostilities. This work involved nice problems of foreign diplomacy, as well as prudent care, at once to avert divisions in the loyal States when the sharp crisis should come, and to place the onus of commencing civil war unequivocally upon the secession leaders, if it were to begin. The utmost energy was also needed in so prearranging affairs that means might not be wanting when battle should be forced upon the nation.
In this view, much of the seeming mystery which enveloped the six weeks preceding the attack on Fort Sumter, disappears without inquiring into State secrets, if, at this period, there were such, over which the curtain should still rest.
For several days the inaugural address was quietly working its way among the people, giving heart to the supporters of the Government and startling the conspirators by its calm and telling appeal to thinking men every-where. With the Rebel leaders it became a study to prevent the natural effect of this State paper upon those whom they wished to follow them, not only in the eight Slave States which had, as yet, held back from the fatal step, but even in those States already in insurrection. They scrupled at nothing in their attempts to ward off its influence and to pervert the attitude of the Government. At the same time they were zealous and active in completing the direct preparations for war which had been commenced many months before.
Equally busy, and for a much longer period, had they been in poisoning the public mind of Europe. The diplomatic agents employed by Mr. Buchanan had been, in large proportion, from the Slave States, and of those from the North some were far from manifesting a genuine fidelity to the Government that had accredited them. To change these Foreign Ministers and Consuls, and to instruct their successors, was not the work of a day, nor did a removal of these men from office by any means necessarily involve their retirement from the vantage
ground they had gained. They had rather been largely reinforced by numerous emissaries sent abroad during the preceding autumn and winter.
It was the early care of Mr. Lincoln's Administration, through the polished pen of Mr. Seward, and through the new diplomats sent abroad, to counteract these influences. From this period commenced the gradual formation and concentration of a public sentiment abroad favorable to the Government. Yet the change was not immediately apparent, and the work was a slow and toilsome one. The aim to convince Foreign Nations that the malcontents were clearly and wholly in the wrong, that the intentions of the Government were pacific, and that there was no revolutionary purpose of overturning Southern society while the dissentients yielded obedience to the Constitution and the laws, can not have failed of speedy success with candid and thoughtful men abroad as well as at home. On whom the whole responsibility of war would rest, should war come, no longer admitted of doubt.
The Montgomery "Congress," on the 9th of March, passed an act, pursuant to the recommendation of Mr. Davis, for the organization of a Confederate army. Three days later Mr. Forsyth, of Alabama, and Mr. Crawford, of Georgia, presented themselves at the State Department in Washington, in the attitude of "Confederate Commissioners," with the pretended purpose of seeking to negotiate a treaty, on the assumption of representing "an independent nation de facto and de jure." While well knowing, both from the nature of the controversy, and from the distinct avowals of Mr. Lincoln's inaugural address, that this preliminary claim, if noticed at all, would be promptly rejected, and passing over altogether the President's frank and honorable suggestion of a National Convention, in which all the States should be represented and all grievances. listened to and constitutionally adjusted, they presumed to assert that the persons represented by them "earnestly desire a peaceful solution" of the "great questions" "growing out of this political separation." The President declined all recognition of these negotiating parties, and, with a simple "memorandum" of Mr. Seward, apprising them of this fact, was
inclosed a copy of the inaugural address, to which they were referred for the views controlling the Government, and which, in fact, had undoubtedly been carefully perused by them before undertaking this false mission, intended solely for diplomatic effect, both in the loyal States and in Europe.
To the Government this dilatory episode gave a few days of much needed time for the work now in hand. These "Commissioners" at length retired from Washington, discharging their Parthian arrow, in the shape of a final communication to the Secretary of State, on the 9th of April. It was an evidence. of that forbearance manifested by Mr. Lincoln through all the earliest stages of this conflict, a forbearance the value of which all the world can now appreciate, however distasteful to more excitable minds at the time, that these defiant rebels were permitted to return to their homes, instead of taking their wellearned place within prison walls.
Five weeks and more had now passed since the inauguration, and the situation of affairs in Fort Sumter, to which the gallant Anderson had transferred his little garrison of seventy men from Fort Moultrie, near the close of the year, portended an approaching crisis. The overt act of war had long since been committed by the Charleston rebels, in firing on the Star of the West as she went to carry relief to that Fort, on which beleaguering batteries, not before unmasked, were already preparing to open. The supply vessel turned back, and though nearly two months had passed before Mr. Buchanan vacated the Presidential chair, his Administration was permitted to expire without an attempt to retrieve that humiliation.
As time wore on, no military preparations, as yet, being visible, Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford being known to be still in Washington, without any thing being positively disclosed ast to the character of their intercourse with the State Department, and those persons having been finally permitted to depart, with only the public certainty that they had been denied official recognition, a general uneasiness began to pervade the popular mind. This growing discontent was fanned by the positive assertions of busy quidnuncs that Fort Sumter was to be evacuated in obedience to the demand of the Charleston traitors.