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He will, however, give it to you more in detail. It is my CH. XVII. opinion that all the States that may determine to take action upon the election of Lincoln should call a convention as soon as practicable after the result is known. With great respect, your ob't serv't,




DEAR SIR: Your communication of the 5th ultimo reached me per last mail under cover from General States Rights Gist, with an explanatory note from that gentleman in relation to the subject-matters thereof.

The mode employed by your Excellency to collect authoritatively the views of several of the Executives of the Southern States as to their plan of action in the event of the election of Lincoln, commends itself warmly to my judgment. Concert of action can alone be arrived at by a full and free interchange of opinion between the Executives of the Cotton States, by whom it is confidently expected that the ball will be put in motion.

We are in the midst of grave events, and I have industriously sought to learn the public mind in this State in the event of the election of Lincoln, and am proud to say Florida is ready to wheel into line with the gallant Palmetto State, or any other Cotton State or States, in any course which she or they may in their judgment think proper to adopt, looking to the vindication and maintenance of the rights, interest, honor, and safety of the South. Florida may be unwilling to subject herself to the charge of temerity or immodesty by leading off, but will most assuredly coöperate with or follow the lead of any single Cotton State which may secede. Whatever doubts I may have entertained upon this subject have been entirely dissipated by the recent elections in this State.

Florida will most unquestionably call a convention as soon as it is ascertained that a majority of the electors favor the election of Lincoln, to meet most likely upon a day to be suggested by some other State.

I leave to-day for the capital, and will write you soon after my arrival, but would be pleased in the mean time to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

MS. Confederate Archives.


MS. Confederate Archives.

If there is sufficient manliness at the South to strike for our rights, honor, and safety, in God's name let it be done before the inauguration of Lincoln.

With high regard, I am yours, etc.,

Direct to Tallahassee.

P. S. I have written General Gist at Union C. H.

Two agencies have thus far been described as engaged in the work of fomenting the rebellion: the first, secret societies of individuals, like "The 1860 Association," designed to excite the masses and create public sentiment; the second, a secret league of Southern governors and other State functionaries, whose mission it became to employ the governmental machinery of States in furtherance of the plot. These, though formidable and dangerous, would probably have failed, either singly or combined, had they not been assisted by a third of still greater efficacy and certainty. This was nothing less than a conspiracy in the very bosom of the National Administration at Washington, embracing many United States Senators, Representatives in Congress, three members of the President's Cabinet, and numerous subordinate officials in the several Executive departments. The special work which this powerful central cabal undertook by common consent, and successfully accomplished, was to divert Federal arms and forts to the use of the rebellion, and to protect and shield the revolt from any adverse influence, or preventive or destructive action of the general Government.




ERY soon after the effort to unite the Cotton- CH. XVIII.
State governors in the revolutionary plot, we

find the local conspiracy at Charleston in communi-
cation with the central secession cabal at Washing-
ton. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was still
President of the United States, and his Cabinet
consisted of the following members: Lewis Cass,
of Michigan, Secretary of State; Howell Cobb, of
Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury; John B. Floyd,
of Virginia, Secretary of War; Isaac Toucey, of
Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Jacob Thomp-
son, of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior; Joseph
Holt, of Kentucky, Postmaster-General; and Jere-
miah S. Black, of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General.
It was in and about this Cabinet that the central
cabal formed itself. Even if we could know in de-
tail the successive steps that led to the establishment
of this intercourse, which so quickly became "both
semi-official and confidential," it could add nothing
to the force of the principal fact that the conspiracy
was in its earliest stages efficient in perverting the
resources and instrumentalities of the Government
of the United States to its destruction. That a
United States Senator, a Secretary of War, an

CH. XVIII. Assistant Secretary of State, and no doubt sundry minor functionaries, were already then, from six to eight weeks before any pretense of secession, with "malice aforethought" organizing armed resistance to the Constitution and laws they had sworn to support, stands forth in the following correspondence too plainly to be misunderstood. As a fitting preface to this correspondence, a few short paragraphs may be quoted from the private diary of the Secretary of War, from which longer and more important extracts appear in a subsequent chapter. Those at present quoted are designed more especially to show the names of the persons composing the primary group of this central cabal, and the time and place of their early consultations and activity.


November 8, 1860. . . I had a long conversation to-day with General Lane, the candidate for Vice-President on the ticket with Mr. Breckinridge. He was grave and extremely earnest; said that resistance to the antislavery feeling of the North was hopeless, and that nothing was left to the South but "resistance or dishonor"; that if the South failed to act with promptness and decision in vindication of her rights, she would have to make up her mind to give up first her honor and then her slaves. He thought disunion inevitable, and said when the hour came that his services could be useful, he would offer them unhesitatingly to the South. I called to see the President this evening, but found him at the State Department engaged upon his message, and did not see him. Miss Lane returned last evening from Philadelphia, where she had been for some time on a visit. Mr.

1 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.")

W. H. Trescott, Assistant Secretary of State, called to сH. XVIII. see me this evening, and conversed at length upon the condition of things in South Carolina, of which State he is a native. He expressed no sort of doubt whatever of his State separating from the Union. He brought me a letter from Mr. Drayton, the agent of the State, proposing to buy ten thousand muskets for the use of the State...

November 10. . . Beach, Thompson, and Cobb came over with me from Cabinet and staid, taking informally a family dinner. The party was free and communicative; Toucey would not stay for dinner. Mr. Pickens, late Minister to Russia, came in after dinner with Mr. Trescott, Assistant Secretary of State, and sat an hour, talking about the distracted state of public feeling at the South. He seemed to think the time had come for decisive measures to be taken by the South.

November 11. I spent an hour at the President's, where I met Thompson, Robert McGraw, and some others; we sat around the tea-table and discussed the disunion movements of the South. This seems to be the absorbing topic everywhere.

November 12. Dispatched the ordinary business of the department; dined at 5 o'clock; Mr. Pickens, late Minister to Russia, Mr. Trescott, Mr. Secretary Thompson, Mr. McGraw, Mr. Browne, editor of the "Constitution," were of the party. The chief topic of discussion was, as usual, the excitement in the South. The belief seemed to be that disunion was inevitable; Pickens, usually very cool and conservative, was excited and warm. My own conservatism seems in these discussions to be unusual and almost misplaced.


WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 1860. DEAR RHETT: I received your letter this morning. As to my views or opinions of the Administration, I can, of course, say nothing. As to Mr. Cobb's views, he is willing that I should communicate them to you, in order that they may aid you in forming your own judgment; but,

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