Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lincoln's Auspicious Opportunity for Peace


Until December of 1860 President James Buchanan seemed in accord with a State sovereignty view of the fraternal Union, his message to Congress then was that he condemned the exercise of secession, "but denied emphatically the right of coercion" on the part of the federal agent.  But when Major Anderson seized an empty Fort Sumter, Buchanan refused to order him back to Fort Moultrie and lit the slow fuse for war that Lincoln would accelerate.  Read more at:

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman

North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission

"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"

"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Lincoln's Auspicious Opportunity for Peace

"President [Jefferson] Davis was at all times solicitous for peace, and adopted every expedient of negotiation that could promote that end. Heartily responding to the wishes of the Congress and people of the Confederacy, he appointed, in February, an embassy to the Government at Washington.  The resolution of the Congress, asking that the embassy should be sent, explains its object to be the "negotiating friendly relations between that Government and the Confederate States of America, and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement between the two governments upon principles of right, justice, equity and good faith."

Two of these commissioners, Messrs. Crawford and Forsyth, arrived in Washington on the 5th of March [1861] . . . [and] waited to the 12th of March before making an official presentation of their mission [to Secretary of State] Seward . . .

Here begins a record of perfidy, the parallel of which is not to be found in the history of the world.  Mr. Seward, while declining to recognize the Confederate commissioners officially, yet frequently held confidential communication with them, by which the faith of the two Governments was fully pledged to a line of policy, by what should certainly be the strongest form of assurance – the personal honor of their representatives.

In verbal interviews, the commissioners were frequently assured of a pacific policy by the Federal Government, that Fort Sumter would be evacuated, that the status at Fort Pickens should not be changed, and that no departure from these pacific intentions would be made without due notice to the Confederate Government.

It was alleged that formal negotiations with [the Confederate commissioners], in an official capacity, would seriously jeopardize the success of Mr. Lincoln's manipulation of public sentiment at the North, which, it was further confidentially alleged, he was sedulously educating to concurrence with his own friendly purposes toward the Confederates.

By this cunning device and the unscrupulous employment of deception and falsehood in his interviews with the commissioners, Mr. Seward accomplished the double purpose of successful imposition upon the credulity of the commissioners and evasion of official recognition  of the Confederate embassy.

In the meantime . . . the Lincoln administration was secretly preparing hostile measures, and, as was clearly demonstrated by subsequent revelations, had never seriously entertained any of the propositions submitted by the Confederate Government.  Resolved not to evacuate Fort Sumter, the Federal Government, while amusing the Confederate commissioners with cunning dalliance, had for weeks been meditating the feasibility of reinforcing it.

Never had a Government so auspicious an opportunity to save the needless effusion of blood, and to avert indefinitely, if not finally, the calamity of war."

(The Life of Jefferson Davis, Frank H. Alfriend, National Publishing Company, 1868, pp. 259-261)