Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy

jgoodguy

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#21
I agree with the first part of your response. They did believe they had seceded lawfully. As to the 2nd part, seems to me they were hoping to avoid war if possible.
If you can get a nation without war who wouldn't. Nevertheless, Status Que was not the objective.

In addition, they are not going to get foreign recognition without recognition from Washington.
 

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#22
If you can get a nation without war who wouldn't. Nevertheless, Status Que was not the objective.

In addition, they are not going to get foreign recognition without recognition from Washington.
Secessionist movements gain foreign recognition if other nations see it as being in their interest to do so. The Confederacy could never quite sell foreign recognition to any nation.
There was no diplomatic solution to Ft.Sumter. Either ships have to pay tariffs for importing goods into the United States or they don't. If they don't have to then the United States recognizes Confederate Independence. Either the United States has the right to garrison troops on it's own Territory or it does not because it recognizes the Confederacy.
President Lincoln had a stark and simple choice either recognize Confederate Independence or not.
Has Lincoln stated before the election " a divided house can not stand".
Davis is caught in the same bind. Either ships entering Charleston pay a tariff to the United States or they do not.
An independent Confederate nation can not allow foreign troops on it's soil . Some political issues simply can be settled by negotiations.
Leftyhunter
 

jgoodguy

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#23
Secessionist movements gain foreign recognition if other nations see it as being in their interest to do so. The Confederacy could never quite sell foreign recognition to any nation.
There was no diplomatic solution to Ft.Sumter. Either ships have to pay tariffs for importing goods into the United States or they don't. If they don't have to then the United States recognizes Confederate Independence. Either the United States has the right to garrison troops on it's own Territory or it does not because it recognizes the Confederacy.
President Lincoln had a stark and simple choice either recognize Confederate Independence or not.
Has Lincoln stated before the election " a divided house can not stand".
Davis is caught in the same bind. Either ships entering Charleston pay a tariff to the United States or they do not.
An independent Confederate nation can not allow foreign troops on it's soil . Some political issues simply can be settled by negotiations.
Leftyhunter
Link

Southern story-teller Jerry Clower tells of a coon hunt with Marcel Ledbetter, best coon hunter on earth....​
One night Jerry and Marcel were out with their dogs when they treed a coon up a huge sycamore. Marcel, a firm believer in giving a coon a fighting chance, climbed the tree to shake the coon out. But it wasn't a coon, it was a lynx, and it went after Marcel something terrible. The tree was a-shakin' and a-quiverin' from the battle. Marcel was getting torn up. Finally, desperate, he hollered down at Jerry, "Shoot, shoot, this thang is killin' me." Jerry hollered back, "I'm afraid to shoot, I might hit you". Marcel hollered back down, "Just shoot up here amongst us, one of us has got to have some relief."​
 
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#24
Link
Southern story-teller Jerry Clower tells of a coon hunt with Marcel Ledbetter, best coon hunter on earth....​
One night Jerry and Marcel were out with their dogs when they treed a coon up a huge sycamore. Marcel, a firm believer in giving a coon a fighting chance, climbed the tree to shake the coon out. But it wasn't a coon, it was a lynx, and it went after Marcel something terrible. The tree was a-shakin' and a-quiverin' from the battle. Marcel was getting torn up. Finally, desperate, he hollered down at Jerry, "Shoot, shoot, this thang is killin' me." Jerry hollered back, "I'm afraid to shoot, I might hit you". Marcel hollered back down, "Just shoot up here amongst us, one of us has got to have some relief."​
I am thinking it was a Bobcat on that tree since the Lynx is larger and needs much colder weather to survive. The Lynx is mostly in Canada but there are some in Washington.
Anyway diplomacy can't solve all problems. Lincoln had no clear cut legal path to grant Confederate Independence and no valid reason to do do.
If a Nation can not control it's ports it can't be independent so Davis was also trapped so to speak in needing to use force to gain Independence.
Some political disputes unfortunately can only be solved by trial by combat.
Leftyhunter
 

jgoodguy

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#25
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 441-477
Published by: Southern Historical Association
Emphsis mine.

Steward is not going to give the Confederates independence, he wants to delay until the political situation in the South changes in favor of the Union. That is in conflict with the Confederate desire for a quick decision by the Federal Government, if not a decision by Lincoln, a decision by Congress shortly. Their desire is for independence, not an indefinite delay.

Here Steward without consulting Lincoln starts his game.

Late in February Seward took one of his first steps toward conciliating the Confederates. He saw to it that Jefferson Davis was told that the appointment to the cabinet of Salmon P. Chase, feared by Southerners as a strong coercionist, would not affect the peaceful intentions of the incoming administration.28 Soon after Lincoln's inauguration Seward was informed that a Confederate agent, Crawford, was in Washington and would ask immediately for an official interview and, if he were rebuffed, the impact on Southern opinion would probably force Davis to attack Forts Sumter and Pickens. At this early stage of the negotiations, it was the Confederate strategy to appear impatient of all delay in order to frighten the Lincoln government into an early recognition of the new nation. It was probably on March 5 that Seward talked with the pro-Southern William M. Gwin of California. According to Crawford, to whom Gwin evidently reported, the Secretary of State tried to be reassuring. He explained away the seemingly threatening parts of the inaugural and left the impression that Lincoln did not comprehend the seriousness of the crisis and would have to be taken in hand by such experienced statesmen as himself and Secretary of War Simon Cameron.29​
Note that Steward apparently told the commissioners his plan. That is not exactly the stuff of a master politician or manipulator of nations.
This conversation was relayed to Secretary of State Robert Toombs on March 6 by Crawford, who had been reinforced the previous day by Commissioner John Forsyth. The Confederates had no illusions as to the motives underlying Seward's peaceful policies. In a dispatch of March 8 Crawford and Forsyth represented him as saying,​
I have already whipped Mason and Hunter in their own state [Virginia]. I must crush out Davis and Toombs and their colleagues in sedition in their respective states. Saving the border states to the Union by moderation and justice, the people of the cotton states, unwillingly led into secession, will rebel against their leaders, and reconstruction will follow.30

Lincoln would later find out that there is little sentiment to return to the Union, but Steward was almost arrogantly confident. For a moment Steward and the Commisioners welcomed delay.

But since Seward's strategy coincided with the Confederate policy of gaining time to prepare for any eventuality, the Southerners were willing to co-operate with him. They were confident that the conservative reaction he anticipated would never materialize, certainly not in the lower South.​
 
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#26
Its interesting. The Confederates were concentrated on their problems, but Lincoln was concentrating on being able to tell Kentucky, California and the British that he had tried to negotiate and had been rebuffed.
 

Jimklag

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#27
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 441-477
Published by: Southern Historical Association
Emphsis mine.

Steward is not going to give the Confederates independence, he wants to delay until the political situation in the South changes in favor of the Union. That is in conflict with the Confederate desire for a quick decision by the Federal Government, if not a decision by Lincoln, a decision by Congress shortly. Their desire is for independence, not an indefinite delay.

Here Steward without consulting Lincoln starts his game.

Late in February Seward took one of his first steps toward conciliating the Confederates. He saw to it that Jefferson Davis was told that the appointment to the cabinet of Salmon P. Chase, feared by Southerners as a strong coercionist, would not affect the peaceful intentions of the incoming administration.28 Soon after Lincoln's inauguration Seward was informed that a Confederate agent, Crawford, was in Washington and would ask immediately for an official interview and, if he were rebuffed, the impact on Southern opinion would probably force Davis to attack Forts Sumter and Pickens. At this early stage of the negotiations, it was the Confederate strategy to appear impatient of all delay in order to frighten the Lincoln government into an early recognition of the new nation. It was probably on March 5 that Seward talked with the pro-Southern William M. Gwin of California. According to Crawford, to whom Gwin evidently reported, the Secretary of State tried to be reassuring. He explained away the seemingly threatening parts of the inaugural and left the impression that Lincoln did not comprehend the seriousness of the crisis and would have to be taken in hand by such experienced statesmen as himself and Secretary of War Simon Cameron.29​
Note that Steward apparently told the commissioners his plan. That is not exactly the stuff of a master politician or manipulator of nations.
This conversation was relayed to Secretary of State Robert Toombs on March 6 by Crawford, who had been reinforced the previous day by Commissioner John Forsyth. The Confederates had no illusions as to the motives underlying Seward's peaceful policies. In a dispatch of March 8 Crawford and Forsyth represented him as saying,​
I have already whipped Mason and Hunter in their own state [Virginia]. I must crush out Davis and Toombs and their colleagues in sedition in their respective states. Saving the border states to the Union by moderation and justice, the people of the cotton states, unwillingly led into secession, will rebel against their leaders, and reconstruction will follow.30

Lincoln would later find out that there is little sentiment to return to the Union, but Steward was almost arrogantly confident. For a moment Steward and the Commisioners welcomed delay.

But since Seward's strategy coincided with the Confederate policy of gaining time to prepare for any eventuality, the Southerners were willing to co-operate with him. They were confident that the conservative reaction he anticipated would never materialize, certainly not in the lower South.​
JG, as much as I've read about him, I've never deciphered Seward's political motives. Initially, he wanted to be Prime Minister with Lincoln as head os state like the English parliamentary monarchy. But Lincoln slapped that idea down in a big hurry. Was Seward's behavior during the secession crisis part of his "Prime Ministerial" campaign?
 

Eric Calistri

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#28
The instructions to the commissioners seem reasonable to me, seems they mostly wanted to talk and keep the status quo. Am I missing something?
Does it seem reasonable that the Executive has the unilateral to dismember the United States? By simply meeting with the CSA, has the Executive not assumed this power?
 
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#29
Very interesting reading, thanks for posting. I seem to have some sympathy for each side after going through this. Seward is an interesting character, and easy to see the confusion from the csa side. Things look promising for a bit, but fade away in the end. Yet prevailing is no recognition, Lincoln did not waiver on this. Csa thought they had seceded and there was some hope in their minds, especially related to sewards wishy washy demeanor. Reminds me of the girl you really want to date and she says just enough to keep a little flame going, but in the end it really meant nothing. Hard to see any way out of lead with both sides committed to their cause
 
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#30
Does it seem reasonable that the Executive has the unilateral to dismember the United States? By simply meeting with the CSA, has the Executive not assumed this power?
Does it seem reasonable that the Executive has the unilateral to dismember the United States? By simply meeting with the CSA, has the Executive not assumed this power?
Never said he should meet with them, just that their requests do not seem unreasonable to me based on their own assumption of their independence.
 

Eric Calistri

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#31
Never said he should meet with them, just that their requests do not seem unreasonable to me based on their own assumption of their independence.
If you agree the Executive could/should not take the meeting, then does it make a difference if the intended content of the meeting is reasonable or not?
 

Eric Calistri

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#32
Very interesting reading, thanks for posting. I seem to have some sympathy for each side after going through this. Seward is an interesting character, and easy to see the confusion from the csa side. Things look promising for a bit, but fade away in the end. Yet prevailing is no recognition, Lincoln did not waiver on this. Csa thought they had seceded and there was some hope in their minds, especially related to sewards wishy washy demeanor. Reminds me of the girl you really want to date and she says just enough to keep a little flame going, but in the end it really meant nothing. Hard to see any way out of lead with both sides committed to their cause

That seems right on. The easy part is saying “we have seceded.” The hard part, like 1000000x harder, is getting all parties to agree “yes you have seceded.”
 

MattL

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#33
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 441-477
Published by: Southern Historical Association P447

The commissioners were instructed
  • See the President of the United States
  • Explain the peaceful intentions of the Confederacy.
  • Secure, if possible, recognition and a treaty of amity.
  • If he refused to accept their credentials and meet them officially, they should offer to discuss these matters with him unofficially.
  • They were to assure him that hostilities would result only if the North tried to exercise the erstwhile powers of the Federal government within the frontiers of the Confederate States.
  • If the President should state that he must delay any decisions until he could consult the Senate, or until Congress convened and took action to meet the crisis, the commissioners were empowered to acquiesce in such delay-provided they received assurances that the peaceful status quo would not be disturbed and that the United States would not try to enforce any presumed authority within the Confederacy.
It was least important to maintain the Status Quo.
It was very important to be suspicious.
These instructions were a recipe for misunderstanding as we shall see.
The commissioners were instructed by their government to see the President of the United States, explain the peaceful intentions of the Confederacy, and secure, if possible, recognition and a treaty of amity. If he refused to accept their credentials and meet them officially, they should offer to discuss these matters with him unofficially. They were to assure him that hostilities would result only if the North tried to exercise the erstwhile powers of the Federal government within the frontiers of the Confederate States. If the President should state that he must delay any decisions until he could consult the Senate, or until Congress convened and took action to meet the crisis, the commissioners were empowered to acquiesce in such delay-provided they received assurances that the peaceful status quo would not be disturbed and that the United States would not try to enforce any presumed authority within the Confederacy. Toombs impressed upon his agents that it was of the "last importance" to preserve the status quo. Furthermore, they were warned to be on the lookout for any attempt by the United States to use delay "to cover sinister designs and complete a plan of military or naval attack, while we, in fancied security, wait for action" in the diplomatic sphere. Therefore they should do their best to get reliable information of the intentions of the United States and pass that information on to Montgomery regularly and frequently.21​
Footnote​
21 Toombs to Crawford, Forsyth, and Roman, February 27, 1861, in John T. Pickett Papers (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress).
I wanted to dig up the source referenced in that footnote:
----
21 Toombs to Crawford, Forsyth, and Roman, February 27, 1861, in John T. Pickett Papers (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress).
----

Image 28 of Confederate States of America records: Microfilm Reel 1
https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss16550.001/?sp=28

It begins here, I've also attached these files for reference

I see the instructions you outlined. To try to be accepted officially.. though if not

----
That if, the President of the United States should decline assent? to recognize you in your official capacity, but should agree to receive you informally, you will accept the unofficial interview.
----

----
It will be of the last importance that you secure maintenance of the existing States, preceding? negotiations, ...
----

I didn't find much else of interest in there, as usual a long diatribe of how the Confederate states had every right to unilaterally secede. The only other interesting thing was Toombs seems to go on about how US policy is to be quick to accept newly formed National governments. His example seems to be how quickly the US accepted was seems to be the Second French Republic in 1848. I thought it interesting that he drew a comparison to a revolution as an argument for accepting their government, very different than many apologists these days that avoid the concept of "revolution" being comparable to their alleged legal unilateral secession.

Note: These ended up in reverse order

CSA Comissioners 09.png


CSA Comissioners 08.png


CSA Comissioners 07.png


CSA Comissioners 06.png


CSA Comissioners 05.png


CSA Comissioners 04.png


CSA Comissioners 03.png


CSA Comissioners 02.png


CSA Comissioners 01.jpg
 

MattL

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#34
Because the CSA believed it was an independent nation, there was no question of secession. It seems to me that the options were recognization or war.
Exactly... everything started with an ultimatum. Recognize their unilateral secession and them as an independent nation or war. Negotiations could follow only if the US conceded to the initial ultimatum. This all with the foreknowledge that those in power in the US had no initial intention of recognizing such things.
 

jgoodguy

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#35
I wanted to dig up the source referenced in that footnote:
----
21 Toombs to Crawford, Forsyth, and Roman, February 27, 1861, in John T. Pickett Papers (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress).
----

Image 28 of Confederate States of America records: Microfilm Reel 1
https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss16550.001/?sp=28

It begins here, I've also attached these files for reference

I see the instructions you outlined. To try to be accepted officially.. though if not

----
That if, the President of the United States should decline assent? to recognize you in your official capacity, but should agree to receive you informally, you will accept the unofficial interview.
----

----
It will be of the last importance that you secure maintenance of the existing States, preceding? negotiations, ...
----

I didn't find much else of interest in there, as usual a long diatribe of how the Confederate states had every right to unilaterally secede. The only other interesting thing was Toombs seems to go on about how US policy is to be quick to accept newly formed National governments. His example seems to be how quickly the US accepted was seems to be the Second French Republic in 1848. I thought it interesting that he drew a comparison to a revolution as an argument for accepting their government, very different than many apologists these days that avoid the concept of "revolution" being comparable to their alleged legal unilateral secession.

Note: These ended up in reverse order

View attachment 217817

View attachment 217818

View attachment 217819

View attachment 217820

View attachment 217821

View attachment 217822

View attachment 217823

View attachment 217824

View attachment 217825
Thanks for finding them and posting them!!
 

jgoodguy

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#36
JG, as much as I've read about him, I've never deciphered Seward's political motives. Initially, he wanted to be Prime Minister with Lincoln as head os state like the English parliamentary monarchy. But Lincoln slapped that idea down in a big hurry. Was Seward's behavior during the secession crisis part of his "Prime Ministerial" campaign?
IMHO he wanted to be president but he had too much political baggage to be president. Lincoln likely was chosen because he had no political experience and had done not anything for anyone to object to. Steward apparently thought Lincoln would have the title, but he would be the real president. He got fooled, but also misled the Commissions.
 

jgoodguy

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#37
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 451
Published by: Southern Historical Association
Emphasis mine.

Looks like a threat of recognition or war. Lots of demands from the Commissioners.

So Seward wanted time, which for him meant the commissioners should not press for recognition; the commissioners also wanted time, which for them meant leaving the military status quo undisturbed. Therefore the latter tried to extort a pledge to that effect. They sent word, probably by Gwin, that if necessary they were willing to face the possibility of war and would not consent to delay the fulfillment of their mission unless they were given unequivocal guarantees that the military situation would not be changed. Seward protested, but the commissioners remained firm. Finally, it was agreed that Gwin would present the Secretary with a written statement of the pledges the Confederates required before they would agree not to demand immediate recognition.​

The commissioners felt encouraged, but the Home Office wanted assurance of Sumter's and Pickens evacuation as soon as possible.

Crawford and Forsyth were much encouraged; Seward's signature on such a paper would not only win the delay they sought but would constitute virtual recognition of the commission as representatives of an independent nation. They prepared a memorandum in which they agreed to allow their mission to remain in abeyance for twenty days, provided they were given a binding pledge that the Lincoln administration would do nothing whatever to change the military situation in the South. Gwin delivered this memorandum to the State Department the morning of March 8 but was told that Seward was at home ill. The commissioners suspected a ruse on the part of their wily antagonist, but upon careful investigation, they were satisfied that he really was sick.31 This temporary setback did not dampen their optimism, and on March 9 they sent telegrams to Toombs reporting that "the impression prevails in Administration circles that Fort Sumter will be evacuated within ten days," and warning that the Confederacy should "by all means avoid collision at Charlestown until you hear from us[.] Things look better here than was believed in Montgomery %..32 By the 11th Toombs evidently had a general idea of what was afoot, and he telegraphed to his agents, "Can't bind our hands a day without evacuation of S[umter] and P[ickens]."3 He was to enlarge on this point several days later in a written dispatch.

Seward had returned to his office on that same day. Gwin had left town, and so the commissioners asked Senator R. M. T. Hunter of Virginia to take their memorandum to the Secretary and request for them an informal interview. When Hunter presented himself at the State Department, Seward was visibly disconcerted. He seemed, wrote the commissioners, "to apprehend the formal presentation of the issue we have in charge." As for an interview, Seward said he would first have to consult Lincoln, and on the next day Hunter was handed a note from the Secretary saying it was not in his power to grant an interview."

So the immovable object of the US government stopped the irresistible force of the Commissioners to get an immediate advantage at Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens or quick recognization.

Footnotes.
31Forsyth and Crawford to Toombs, March 8, 1861, in Pickett
Papers; Bancroft,Seward, II, 111; Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 323.
32Forsyth and Crawford to Toombs (two telegrams), March 9, 1861, in Pickett
Papers; Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, IIII, 400.
33Toombs to Forsyth and Crawford, March 11, 1861, in Pickett Papers.
 
Last edited:

jgoodguy

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#38
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 452
Published by: Southern Historical Association
Emphasis mine.

The commissioners became impatient. Crawford arrived in the chaos of administration change on March 4, now it is March 11. 7 days of bureaucratic confusion and inertia and they are very impatient to be recognized as a country.

The Confederates abandoned their policy of delay. Their instructions from Toombs allowed them to consent to delay only if the United States promised not to disturb the status quo, and no such promise had been forthcoming. Furthermore, they were tired of playing Henry at Canossa, waiting for some gracious word to issue from the State Department.​
We deemed it not compatible with the dignity of our Government to make a second effort [to be received] Our only remaining course was plain, and we followed it at once in the preparation of a formal note . . . informing the United States Government of our official presence here, the objects of our mission, and asking an early day to be appointed for an official interview.35​
More delay ensued

This note was left at the State Department on March 13 by John T. Pickett, the commission's secretary. He called for an answer at noon the following day and was informed by Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward that his father had been very busy and the answer was not yet prepared. He promised, however, to send a reply very soon to the National Hotel, where the commissioners were staying. Still, it did not come, and Pickett went to the State Department again on the 15th and was told by the chief clerk that an answer was then in preparation.36​

The Commissioners became overly optimistic. If the North underestimated the South dedication to secession, the South underestimated the North's dedication to Union. Aparently the Commisisoners made some vague threats.

While he and his colleagues were waiting for Seward's reply, John Forsyth gave Secretary of War Walker an account of the commission's strategy:​
We are feeling our way here cautiously. We are playing a game in which time is our best advocate, and if our Government could afford the time I feel confident of winning. There is a terrific fight in the Cabinet. Our policy is to encourage the peace element in the fight, and at least blow up the Cabinet on the question. The outside pressure in favor of peace grows stronger every hour.37 Lincoln inclines to peace,...They believe, and we encourage the pleasant thought, that in case of war their precious persons would not be safe in Washington. With prudence, wisdom, and firmness we have the rascals "on the hip."38​


Footnotes.
34Bancroft, Seward, II, 112.
35Nioloay and Hay, Lincoln, III, 402. For the contents of the note, see Richardson (ed.), Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, I, 84.
36Memorandum by John T. Pickett, March 14, 1861, in Pickett Papers.
37This belief in a growing peace element in the North was one of the worst miscalculations the Confederate commissioners made. On the contrary, steadily increasing pressure was being brought to bear on Lincoln to do something decisive. See Stampp, And the War Came, 265-70.
380fficial Records, Series IV, Vol. I, 165. According to ibid., Series I, Vol. I, 275, Forsyth sent a telegram to Governor Pickens on the 14th saying he thought a messenger had been sent to Anderson the previous day with orders to evacuate the fort. In the Pickens Papers, however, this telegram bears the date of the 15th, which is undoubtedly correct.
 
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#39
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 441-477
Published by: Southern Historical Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2204623 .
Accessed: 16/03/2014 04:02
Excellent article, and I'm enjoying this thread. I've posted excerpts from the article before, because it does an excellent job of showing just what the Confederates knew and when they knew it and how they responded in the attempts to establish some kind of official relationship with the Lincoln administration. We don't often see their side of the story, as Johnson points out in the opening paragraphs.
 

jgoodguy

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#40
Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy
Author(s): Ludwell H. Johnson
Source: The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1960), pp. 454
Published by: Southern Historical Association Emphasis mine.

The assumption of the commission was that the CSA was an independent nation. War for independence seems to be the default position.

The actions of the commissioners up to this point received the qualified approval of President Davis. He had received with misgivings the proposed twenty-day delay in asking for recognition. It was, he thought, an "extremely doubtful policy." It seems likely that Davis, who tended to be excessively legalistic in his approach to such problems, preferred to have the duration of any period of delay based upon constitutional considerations (such as the time required to consult the Senate). This was the sort of excuse an independent nation could accept without loss of dignity, whereas the twenty-day period was arbitrary and based on political expediency. Nevertheless, in the interests of peace, the commissioners were told, Davis consented to the arrangement. But they were not to agree to an extension except as a matter of "extreme necessity, and unless negotiations are actually pending." On the other hand, if the Lincoln administration wanted to postpone a decision until the Senate could be consulted or until Congress assembled, that would be acceptable-but only if a "definitive arrangement" was made for the evacuation of Fort Sumter, which was called the "sine qua non" of peaceful negotiations. Furthermore, the commissioners were to demand "pertinaciously" the evacuation of Fort Pickens, and were to "urge" the surrender of Fort Taylor at Key West.39​

The commissioners seem to be ordered to threaten war to get Lincolns acquiesence.
The CSA is assuming it is a sovereign country, even though no one recognized as such.

The next important news received by the Confederate State Department was that the projected agreement with Seward had fallen through and the commissioners had sent a formal note requesting an interview. Davis strongly approved their course. After waiving all diplomatic etiquette, they had been rebuffed; now they were quite properly standing on their dignity as the envoys of a sovereign nation.40

Now the commissioners are going to demand the Surrender of Fort Sumter as a condition of peace. Was this designed to force sn "unstable and irresolute administration" to yield or are Southern thinking along the lines of Lincoln up to some sinster purpose.

It is obvious from Toombs' telegram of the 11th and the dispatch of the 14th that Davis had modified his strategy. In their February 27 instructions the commissioners were told that, if Lincoln asked to postpone negotiations until he could secure the advice of the Senate or until Congress assembled, they were empowered to consent, provided guarantees were given that the military situation would not be changed in the interim. Now the condition for consenting to delay was the surrender of Sumter-or at least an "arrangement" for its surrender. In the February 27 instructions, Toombs had emphasized the great importance of
maintaining the status quo, yet an understanding to secure this for at least twenty days was received coolly in Montgomery. It is possible that this sterner attitude was designed to increase pressure on an unstable and irresolute administration, force it to give up Sumter, and thus eliminate the outstanding source of friction between the two governments. It seems more likely, however, that Davis and Toombs were afraid Lincoln might be using delay to cloak some sinister purpose.
All sort of rumors about.
Among the conflicting reports filtering down from Washington was one suggestion that a naval expedition was being fitted out for some unknown purpose. On the 14th Walker wired Confederate military commanders that four steamers were "ordered to sail from New York last night. Said to carry arms, provisions, and men. Destination not known."​

TThe author seems to pick the most favorable assumption about Davis' actions, the evidence may, in turn, support a more warlike attitude by Davis too.

On the next day he warned Beauregard at Charleston to "give but little credit to the rumors of an amicable adjustment. Do not slacken for a moment your energies, and be ready to execute any order this Department may forward."'4 In view of these fears of a surprise attack, Davis probably decided the wisest course was to force a decision on Lincoln and thus discover his intentions. Davis himself was anything but optimistic about what the future held. ". . . I have not been of those who felt sanguine hope that the enemy would retire peaceably from your harbor," he wrote Governor Pickens on March 18. "It is his choice as to how he will go, his stay must soon be measured by our forbearance. To have Fort Sumter uninjured is important to us, and for that reason, if there were no other we should prefer that he should go peaceably."42​
Footnotes
39Toom'bs to Crawford and Forsyth, March 14, 1861, in Pickett Papers. Davis was willing for the question of Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas to be left to later negotiations. He would also allow, during the twenty days, the Sumter garrison to purchase limited quantities of supplies "needful for the comfort of the officers and men," the amount and nature to be determined by the military authorities at Charleston.
40Toombs to Crawford and Forsyth, March 20, 1861, ibid. Davis was also probably concerned lest the Confederacy lose face in the eyes of foreign diplomats in Washington. This dispatch reaffirmed the instructions given in the dispatch of March 14.
410ficial Records, Series I, Vol. I, 263, 275-76.
42Rowland (ed.), Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist, V, 61.
 



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