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CHAPTER XXVI

CH. XXVI.

THE SENATE COMMITTEE OF THIRTEEN

HE President's message provoked immediate and heated controversy in Congress. In the Senate the battle was begun by the radical secessionists, who at once avowed their main plans and purposes. Mr. Clingman, of North Carolina, opening the debate, predicted that the same political organization which had elected Lincoln must soon control the entire Government, and being guided by a sentiment hostile to the Southern States would change the whole character of the Government without abolishing its forms. A number of States would secede within the next sixty days.

Mr. Brown, of Mississippi, said the accumulating wrongs of years had finally culminated in the triumph of principles to which they could not and would not submit. All they asked was to be allowed to depart in peace.

Mr. Iverson, of Georgia, invoking not only secession, but revolution and assassination, announced specifically the hopes of the conspirators. "I am satisfied that South Carolina will resolve herself into a separate sovereign and independent State before the Ides of January; that Florida and Mississippi, whose conventions are soon to meet, will

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follow the example of South Carolina, and that CH. XXVI. Alabama . . . will go out of the Union on the 7th of January. Then the Georgia Convention follows on the 16th of that month; and if these other surrounding sisters shall take the step, Georgia will not be behind. . . I speak what I believe on this floor, that before the 4th of March five of the Southern States at least will have declared their independence; and I am satisfied that three others of the Cotton States will follow as soon as the action of the people can be had. Arkansas, whose Legislature is now in session, will in all probability call a convention at an early day. Louisiana will follow. Her Legislature is to meet; and although there is a clog in the way of the lone star State of Texas, in the person of her Governor, if he does not yield to public sentiment, some Texan Brutus will arise to rid his country of the hoaryheaded incubus that stands between the people and their sovereign will. We intend, Mr. Presi- "Globe," dent, to go out peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."

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Senator Wigfall, of Texas, took a high revolutionary attitude. "We simply say that a man who is distasteful to us has been elected and we choose to consider that as a sufficient ground for leaving the Union." He said he should "introduce a resolution at an early moment to ascertain what are the orders that have gone from the War Department to the officers in command of those forts" at Charleston. If the people of South Carolina believed that this Government would hold those forts, and collect the revenues from them, after they had ceased to be one of the States of this Union, his judgment VOL. II.-26

Dec. 5, 1860,

p. 11.

CH. XXVI. was that the moment they became satisfied of that fact they would take the forts, and blood would then begin to flow.

"Globe," Dec. 5, 1860, p. 14.

Ibid., Dec. 10, 1860, p. 35.

Ibid., Dec. 5, 1860, p. 12.

Mr. Mason, of Virginia, said he looked upon the evil as a war of sentiment and opinion by one form of society against another form of society. The remedy rested in the political society and State councils of the several States and not in Congress. His State and a great many others of the slaveholding States were going into convention with a view to take up the subject for themselves, and as separate sovereign communities to determine what was best for their safety.

Senator Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was more reticent and politic, though no less positive and significant in his brief expressions. As a Senator of the United States he said he was there to perform his functions as such; that before a declaration of war was made against the State of which he was a citizen he expected to be out of the Chamber; that when that declaration was made his State would be found ready and quite willing to meet it.

The Republican Senators maintained for the greater part a discreet silence. To exult in their triumph would be undignified; to hasten forward officiously with offers of pacification or submission, and barter away the substantial fruits of their victory, would not only make them appear pusillanimous in the eyes of their own party, but bring down upon them the increased contempt of their assailants. There remained therefore nothing but silence and the feeble hope that this first fury of the disunion onset might spend itself in angry

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