The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

Fourth. To do this we must dismiss the applicants for office. But
how? I suggest that we make the local appointments forthwith, leaving
foreign or general ones for ulterior and occasional action.

Fifth. The policy at home. I am aware that my views are singular,
and perhaps not sufficiently explained. My system is built upon this
idea as a ruling one, namely, that we must
CHANGE THE QUESTION BEFORE THE PUBLIC FROM ONE UPON SLAVERY, OR ABOUT
SLAVERY, for a question upon UNION OR DISUNION:
In other words, from what would be regarded as a party question, to
one of patriotism or union.

The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter, although not in fact a
slavery or a party question, is so regarded. Witness the temper
manifested by the Republicans in the free States, and even by the
Union men in the South.

I would therefore terminate it as a safe means for changing the
issue. I deem it fortunate that the last administration created the
necessity.

For the rest, I would simultaneously defend and reinforce all the
ports in the gulf, and have the navy recalled from foreign stations
to be prepared for a blockade. Put the island of Key West under
martial law.

This will raise distinctly the question of union or disunion. I
would maintain every fort and possession in the South.

FOR FOREIGN NATIONS,

I would demand explanations from Spain and France, categorically, at
once.

I would seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia, and send
agents into Canada, Mexico, and Central America to rouse a vigorous
continental spirit of independence on this continent against European
intervention.

And, if satisfactory explanations are not received from Spain and
France,

Would convene Congress and declare war against them.

But whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution
of it.

For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct
it incessantly.

Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active
in it, or Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted,
debates on it must end, and all agree and abide.

It is not in my especial province; But I neither seek to evade nor
assume responsibility.

REPLY TO SECRETARY SEWARD'S MEMORANDUM

EXECUTIVE MANSION, APRIL 1, 1861

HON. W. H. SEWARD.

MY DEAR SIR:--Since parting with you I have been considering your
paper dated this day, and entitled "Some Thoughts for the President's
Consideration." The first proposition in it is, "First, We are at
the end of a month's administration, and yet without a policy either
domestic or foreign."

At the beginning of that month, in the inaugural, I said: "The power
confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property
and places belonging to the Government, and to Collect the duties and
imposts." This had your distinct approval at the time; and, taken in
connection with the order I immediately gave General Scott, directing
him to employ every means in his power to strengthen and hold the
forts, comprises the exact domestic policy you now urge, with the
single exception that it does not propose to abandon Fort Sumter.

Again, I do not perceive how the reinforcement of Fort Sumter would
be done on a slavery or a party issue, while that of Fort Pickens
would be on a more national and patriotic one.

The news received yesterday in regard to St. Domingo certainly brings
a new item within the range of our foreign policy; but up to that
time we have been preparing circulars and instructions to ministers
and the like, all in perfect harmony, without even a suggestion that
we had no foreign policy.

Upon your Closing propositions--that,

"Whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of
it.

"For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct
it incessantly.

"Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active
in it, or,

"Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted, debates on
it must end, and all agree and abide"--

I remark that if this must be done, I must do it. When a general
line of policy is adopted, I apprehend there is no danger of its
being changed without good reason, or continuing to be a subject of
unnecessary debate; still, upon points arising in its progress I
wish, and suppose I am entitled to have, the advice of all the
Cabinet.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

REPLY TO A COMMITTEE FROM THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION, APRIL 13, 1861

HON. WILLIAM BALLARD PRESTON, ALEXANDER H.
H. STUART, GEORGE W. RANDOLPH, Esq.

GENTLEMEN:--As a committee of the Virginia Convention now in Session,
you present me a preamble and resolution in these words:

"Whereas, in the opinion of this Convention, the uncertainty which
prevails in the public mind as to the policy which the Federal
Executive intends to pursue toward the seceded States is extremely
injurious to the industrial and commercial interests of the country,
tends to keep up an excitement which is unfavorable to the adjustment
of pending difficulties, and threatens a disturbance of the public
peace: therefore

Resolved, that a committee of three delegates be appointed by this
Convention to wait upon the President of the United States, present
to him this preamble and resolution, and respectfully ask him to
communicate to this Convention the policy which the Federal Executive
intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate States.

"Adopted by the Convention of the State of Virginia, Richmond, April
8, 1861."

In answer I have to say that, having at the beginning of my official
term expressed my intended policy as plainly as I was able, it is
with deep regret and some mortification I now learn that there is
great and injurious uncertainty in the public mind as to what that
policy is, and what course I intend to pursue. Not having as yet
seen occasion to change, it is now my purpose to pursue the course
marked out in the inaugural address. I commend a careful
consideration of the whole document as the best expression I can give
of my purposes.

As I then and therein said, I now repeat: "The power confided to me
will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places
belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties and imposts;
but beyond what is necessary for these objects, there will be no
invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere." By
the words "property and places belonging to the Government," I
chiefly allude to the military posts and property which were in the
possession of the Government when it came to my hands.

But if, as now appears to be true, in pursuit of a purpose to drive
the United States authority from these places, an unprovoked assault
has been made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to
repossess, if I can, like places which had been seized before the
Government was devolved upon me. And in every event I shall, to the
extent of my ability, repel force by force. In case it proves true
that Fort Sumter has been assaulted, as is reported, I shall perhaps
cause the United States mails to be withdrawn from all the States
which claim to have seceded, believing that the commencement of
actual war against the Government justifies and possibly demands
this.

I scarcely need to say that I consider the military posts and
property situated within the States which claim to have seceded as
yet belonging to the Government of the United States as much as they
did before the supposed secession.

Whatever else I may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt to
collect the duties and imposts by any armed invasion of any part of
the country; not meaning by this, however, that I may not land a
force deemed necessary to relieve a fort upon a border of the
country.

>From the fact that I have quoted a part of the inaugural address, it
must not be inferred that I repudiate any other part, the whole of
which I reaffirm, except so far as what I now say of the mails may be
regarded as a modification.

PROCLAMATION CALLING FOR 75,000 MILITIA, AND CONVENING CONGRESS IN
EXTRA SESSION, APRIL 15, 1861.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA:

A Proclamation.

Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past
and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the
States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers
vested in the marshals bylaw:

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States,
in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws,
have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia
of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of
seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to
cause the laws to be duly executed.

The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the
State authorities through the War Department.

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this
effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our
National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to
redress wrongs already long enough endured.

I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces
hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places,
and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every
event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects
aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of or
interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens
in any part of the country.

And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid
to disperse and retire peacefully to their respective abodes within
twenty days from date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an
extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me
vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress.
Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at
their respective chambers, at twelve o'clock noon, on Thursday, the
fourth day of July next, then and there to consider and determine
such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may
seem to demand.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the
independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.

PROCLAMATION OF BLOCKADE, APRIL 19, 1861

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF

AMERICA:

A Proclamation.

Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States
has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama,
Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the
United States for the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually
executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution
which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States:

And Whereas a combination of persons engaged in such insurrection
have threatened to grant pretended letters of marque to authorize the
bearers thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and
property of good citizens of the country lawfully engaged in commerce
on the high seas, and in waters of the United States:

And Whereas an executive proclamation has been already issued
requiring the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to
desist therefrom, calling out a militia force for the purpose of
repressing the same, and convening Congress in extraordinary session
to deliberate and determine thereon:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham LINCOLN, President of the United States,
with a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the
protection of the public peace, and the lives and property of quiet
and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations, until
Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful
proceedings, or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed
it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States
aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and of the
law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose a competent
force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels
from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such
blockade, a vessel shall approach or shall attempt to leave either of
the said ports, she will be duly warned by the commander of one of
the blockading vessels, who will indorse on her register the fact and
date of such warning, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to
enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to
the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her
cargo, as prize, as may be deemed advisable.

And I hereby proclaim and declare that if any person, under the
pretended authority of the said States, or under any other pretense,
shall molest a vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo
on board of her, such person will be held amenable to the laws of the
United States for the prevention and punishment of piracy.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this nineteenth day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the
independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.

TO GOVERNOR HICKS AND MAYOR BROWN.

WASHINGTON, April 20, 1861

GOVERNOR HICKS AND MAYOR BROWN.

GENTLEMEN:--Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin, and Brune is
received. I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to
keep the peace in the trying situation in which you are placed.

For the future troops must be brought here, but I make no point of
bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge
myself, of course I must leave details to General Scott. He hastily
said this morning in the presence of these gentlemen, "March them
around Baltimore, and not through it." I sincerely hope the General,
on fuller reflection, will consider this practical and proper, and
that you will not object to it. By this a collision of the people of
Baltimore with the troops will be avoided, unless they go out of
their way to seek it. I hope you will exert your influence to
prevent this.

Now and ever I shall do all in my power for peace consistently with
the maintenance of the Government.

Your obedient servant,

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

TO GOVERNOR HICKS.

WASHINGTON, April 20, 1861

GOVERNOR HICKS:

I desire to consult with you and the Mayor of Baltimore relative to
preserving the peace of Maryland. Please come immediately by special
train, which you can take at Baltimore; or, if necessary, one can be
sent from here. Answer forthwith.

LINCOLN.

ORDER TO DEFEND FROM A MARYLAND INSURRECTION

ORDER TO GENERAL SCOTT.
WASHINGTON, April 25, 1861

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SCOTT.

MY DEAR SIR -The Maryland Legislature assembles to-morrow at
Annapolis, and not improbably will take action to arm the people of
that State against the United States. The question has been
submitted to and considered by me whether it would not be
justifiable, upon the ground of necessary defense, for you, as
General in Chief of the United States Army, to arrest or disperse the
members of that body. I think it would not be justifiable nor
efficient for the desired object.

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