Fort Sumter and Confederate Diplomacy

MattL

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#41
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.
To be honest, at least from my own anecdotal exposure, I usually see nothing representing either side. Usually in regards to these events I see one of two portrayals (that again really don't represent either side, just some odd narrative centered on Seward).

1) Seward wanted to usurp Lincoln's power and overreached and over negotiated
2) Seward was secretly represent Lincoln's interest in deception to the South

Honestly those are more Lost Cause aligned than Treasury of Virtue aligned.

I do find these details further interesting though, I'm reserving any personal view adjustments until I can absorb it more though so far It's feeling as if the Confederacy felt they had a stronger hand than they actually had and/or Lincoln and his administration were weaker than they actually were. That the threat of war was their chief weapon to cowing the US into accepting them on their terms, even accepting them as official or unofficial commissioners in an actual "interview" with Lincoln would have been a massive victory for proving their legitimacy. Again I'm still reserving final judgement though I'm starting to wonder if Davis thought attacking Fort Sumter was based on that same premise, of Lincoln and his administration being weak and would avoid responding in kind and would secure their strength and legitimacy. Of course they also seemed fairly paranoid at the same time, so maybe it was a combination of such things.

@jgoodguy I appreciate the efforts to summarize these in milestones.
 

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jgoodguy

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#42
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.

More players enter the game. I agree with Nelson's analysis that States cannot be coerced back into the Union without a war. However, the attack on Fort Sumter will provide the war. Nelson will dissent in the Prize Cases arguing that only Congress has the power to declare war. It was too late for moderation and compromise to reconstruct the Union.

Meanwhile, back in Washington the negotiations had reached a definite turning point. Had Seward been forced to reply to the Confederate commissioners' formal request for an interview at this time, he would have been compelled to refuse; Lincoln was never willing to do anything even remotely implying recognition. But as it turned out, Seward did not have to refuse to see the commissioners on March 15, thanks to the intervention of two members of the United States Supreme Court. Associate Justice Samuel Nelson had been giving serious study to the question of coercing the seceded states. He had concluded that coercion could not be carried out unless serious violence was done to the Constitution and existing laws, and, further, that war would in all probability ensue. On the other hand, he believed moderation on the part of the Federal government would result in reconstruction of the Union.​
Steward believes that if recognition is not given to the South, war will result.

On March 15 Nelson tried to impress his views on Secretary of the Treasury Chase, Attorney General Edward Bates, and Seward, who as might be expected, was most cordial. As Nelson expounded the obstacles in the way of coercion, Seward said he was glad there were so many obstacles in the way of war; he only wished there were more.43 Seward went on to tell Nelson how awkward for him was the recent Confederate demand for recognition, the answer to which was still undelivered. He would spare no effort to preserve the peace, but, if he were forced to refuse the commissioners' request, war might be the result​
Campbell was not a disinterested Observer. He was a Southern sympathizer possible a Confederate agent who would go South after Fort Sumpter to serve the CSA.(A)

Here Nelson suggested that Associate Justice John A. Campbell of Alabama, whose views coincided with Nelson's, might be able to help. This widely esteemed gentleman was destined to have the vital role of intermediary during the rest of the negotiations. As the secession crisis had developed, Campbell had shown himself wholeheartedly devoted to the cause of peace; to him all other questions were secondary. As early as January he had communicated with Lincoln through Montgomery Blair in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the President-elect to make a statement to calm public opinion. At the request of prominent Southerners he had also persuaded Jeremiah S. Black, then Buchanan's secretary of state, to try to get from Seward some reassuring statement as to Lincoln's policy which he could relay to his anxious friends from the South.45​

Campbell was unhappy with the Lincoln inaugural because of his Southern bias. Someone, possibily Steward told him it was mere rhetoric.

When Lincoln himself set forth his policy in his inaugural, Campbell regarded it as a virtual declaration of war and prepared to resign from the Supreme Court. He was dissuaded from doing so by Joseph Holt,45 who brought soothing word, apparently from Seward, that the inaugural had served its purpose, did not really represent the policy of the government, and would be forgotten.46 Campbell relented. From a strictly personal point of view, he made a mistake in staying on; in the weeks to come he was to find little else than disappointed hopes and undeserved abuse.​



Footnotes.​
A. According to John G. Nicolay, one of Lincoln's private secretaries and a later biographer of him, "Failing in this direct application, they made further efforts through Mr. Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court... who came to Seward in the guise of a loyal official, though his correspondence with Jefferson Davis soon revealed a treasonable intent."Nicolay, John (1903) A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln pg. 183.​
43Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 326 (from an account written by Campbell in 1873).
44Henry G. Connor, John Archibald Campbell, Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court, 1853-1861 (Boston, 1920), 11-17, 140; Crawford, Genesis of the Civil
War, 345.
45Holt was secretary of war under Buchanan and retained his office for a short time
after Lincoln's inauguration.

Linkee The genesis of the Civil War: the story of Sumter, 1860-1861
 

MattL

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#43
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.

More players enter the game. I agree with Nelson's analysis that States cannot be coerced back into the Union without a war. However, the attack on Fort Sumter will provide the war. Nelson will dissent in the Prize Cases arguing that only Congress has the power to declare war. It was too late for moderation and compromise to reconstruct the Union.

Meanwhile, back in Washington the negotiations had reached a definite turning point. Had Seward been forced to reply to the Confederate commissioners' formal request for an interview at this time, he would have been compelled to refuse; Lincoln was never willing to do anything even remotely implying recognition. But as it turned out, Seward did not have to refuse to see the commissioners on March 15, thanks to the intervention of two members of the United States Supreme Court. Associate Justice Samuel Nelson had been giving serious study to the question of coercing the seceded states. He had concluded that coercion could not be carried out unless serious violence was done to the Constitution and existing laws, and, further, that war would in all probability ensue. On the other hand, he believed moderation on the part of the Federal government would result in reconstruction of the Union.​
Steward believes that if recognition is not given to the South, war will result.

On March 15 Nelson tried to impress his views on Secretary of the Treasury Chase, Attorney General Edward Bates, and Seward, who as might be expected, was most cordial. As Nelson expounded the obstacles in the way of coercion, Seward said he was glad there were so many obstacles in the way of war; he only wished there were more.43 Seward went on to tell Nelson how awkward for him was the recent Confederate demand for recognition, the answer to which was still undelivered. He would spare no effort to preserve the peace, but, if he were forced to refuse the commissioners' request, war might be the result​
Campbell was not a disinterested Observer. He was a Southern sympathizer possible a Confederate agent who would go South after Fort Sumpter to serve the CSA.(A)

Here Nelson suggested that Associate Justice John A. Campbell of Alabama, whose views coincided with Nelson's, might be able to help. This widely esteemed gentleman was destined to have the vital role of intermediary during the rest of the negotiations. As the secession crisis had developed, Campbell had shown himself wholeheartedly devoted to the cause of peace; to him all other questions were secondary. As early as January he had communicated with Lincoln through Montgomery Blair in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the President-elect to make a statement to calm public opinion. At the request of prominent Southerners he had also persuaded Jeremiah S. Black, then Buchanan's secretary of state, to try to get from Seward some reassuring statement as to Lincoln's policy which he could relay to his anxious friends from the South.45​

Campbell was unhappy with the Lincoln inaugural because of his Southern bias. Someone, possibily Steward told him it was mere rhetoric.

When Lincoln himself set forth his policy in his inaugural, Campbell regarded it as a virtual declaration of war and prepared to resign from the Supreme Court. He was dissuaded from doing so by Joseph Holt,45 who brought soothing word, apparently from Seward, that the inaugural had served its purpose, did not really represent the policy of the government, and would be forgotten.46 Campbell relented. From a strictly personal point of view, he made a mistake in staying on; in the weeks to come he was to find little else than disappointed hopes and undeserved abuse.​



Footnotes.​
A. According to John G. Nicolay, one of Lincoln's private secretaries and a later biographer of him, "Failing in this direct application, they made further efforts through Mr. Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court... who came to Seward in the guise of a loyal official, though his correspondence with Jefferson Davis soon revealed a treasonable intent."Nicolay, John (1903) A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln pg. 183.​
43Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 326 (from an account written by Campbell in 1873).
44Henry G. Connor, John Archibald Campbell, Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court, 1853-1861 (Boston, 1920), 11-17, 140; Crawford, Genesis of the Civil
War, 345.
45Holt was secretary of war under Buchanan and retained his office for a short time
after Lincoln's inauguration.

Linkee The genesis of the Civil War: the story of Sumter, 1860-1861

That footnote and other content you shared

----
According to John G. Nicolay, one of Lincoln's private secretaries and a later biographer of him, "Failing in this direct application, they made further efforts through Mr. Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court... who came to Seward in the guise of a loyal official, though his correspondence with Jefferson Davis soon revealed a treasonable intent."Nicolay, John (1903) A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln pg. 183.
----

Is interesting. Does anyone have access to Campbell's correspondence with Davis, if not I might have to dig it up.

Seward, the commissioners, and others seem to be he typical human pattern of hearing what they want to hear. They all might have been using each other, stalling for time, playing the soft game to gain some ground in some negotiation (I certainly am starting to feel that more than Seward being some master of deception, especially with the involvement of Campbell). Though depending on the accuracy of the tone of that footnote I'm starting to wonder if Seward was surrounded on multiple fronts by people trying to manipulate him for the Confederate cause. Starting to wonder if he truly was manipulated in this scenario rather than the typical reversal of that where he somehow is the manipulator. I suspect those correspondences might be relevant.
 

jgoodguy

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#44
That footnote and other content you shared

----
According to John G. Nicolay, one of Lincoln's private secretaries and a later biographer of him, "Failing in this direct application, they made further efforts through Mr. Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court... who came to Seward in the guise of a loyal official, though his correspondence with Jefferson Davis soon revealed a treasonable intent."Nicolay, John (1903) A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln pg. 183.
----

Is interesting. Does anyone have access to Campbell's correspondence with Davis, if not I might have to dig it up.

Seward, the commissioners, and others seem to be he typical human pattern of hearing what they want to hear. They all might have been using each other, stalling for time, playing the soft game to gain some ground in some negotiation (I certainly am starting to feel that more than Seward being some master of deception, especially with the involvement of Campbell). Though depending on the accuracy of the tone of that footnote I'm starting to wonder if Seward was surrounded on multiple fronts by people trying to manipulate him for the Confederate cause. Starting to wonder if he truly was manipulated in this scenario rather than the typical reversal of that where he somehow is the manipulator. I suspect those correspondences might be relevant.
Reference was
A short life of Abraham Lincoln : Nicolay, John G is the source but no footnotes.
See what you can find.
 

jgoodguy

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#45
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.

More walking and talking by SCOTUS justices.

After his conversation with Seward, Justice Nelson was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue and happened to meet Campbell. He told his colleague of his talk with the Secretary of State, and the two men went to Nelson's hotel to discuss the whole matter. They decided the welfare of the entire country would best be served if the Confederates were given a full opportunity to explain their mission. They were confident this could be done without recognizing the Confederacy in any way. Therefore they called on Seward that same day, the 15th, told him their conclusions and advised him to answer the commissioners' note and tell them that the government wanted nothing more than peace and was willing to make every effort to reach a friendly adjustment.​
Seward heard them out and then replied, as Campbell recalled in later years,​

I wish I could do it. See Montgomery Blair, see Mr. Bates, see Mr. Lincoln himself; I wish you would; they are all Southern men-convince them-no, there is not a member of the Cabinet who would consent to it. If Jefferson Davis had known the state of things here he would not have sent those Commissioners; the evacuation of Sumter is as much as the administration can bear.47​
Seward's intrigue produces a statement that Sumter would be evacuated in 5 days. This will result in a monstrous misunderstanding later. OTOH Seward may have misunderstood Lincoln or was trying to defuse the situation for a little time. Or something else, he told Campbell something off the record but never related that to the commissioners then Campbell passes off Steward's personal opinion as fact.

"I had not before this had a hint of the proposed evacuation of Sumter," Campbell recorded, "and replied to Mr. Seward that I fully agreed with him that only one matter should be dealt with at a time and that the evacuation of Sumter was a sufficient burden upon the Administration . ". . . Feeling that the commissioners should be informed of this development, Campbell offered to tell them and also to write Jefferson Davis. Seward said he could inform the Southerners that Sumter would be vacated within five days, and that the government did not intend to make any changes with regard to the Gulf forts.49​
Footnotes
46Robert Garlick Hill Kean, Inside the Confederate Government ... , Edward Younger, ed. (New York, 1957), 113.
47Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 327-28; Connor, Campbell, 123-24. This particular quotation is from a letter Campbell wrote in 1873; it follows closely his account of the affair ("Facts of History") printed in full in Connor, Campbell, 122-32.
48Connor, Campbell, 124.
49Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 328; Connor, Campbell, 124-25. No such decision had been reached, of course. Furthermore, Seward was almost certainly aware of Lincoln's order of March 11 to General Scott for the reinforcement of Fort Pickens, one of the Gulf forts. Stampp, And the War Came, 275; Bancroft, Seward, II, 148
 

jgoodguy

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#46
Link to Henry G. Connor, John Archibald Campbell, Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court, 1853-1861 (Boston, 1920), 122-126 Emphasis mine.

I said I would see the Commissioners on the subject and also write to Mr. Davis. What shall I say on the subject of Fort Sumter? He said: You may say to him that before that letter reaches him (How far is it to Montgomery?) Three days. You may say to him that before that letter reaches him the telegraph will have informed him that Sumter will have been evacuated. What shall I say as to the forts in the Gulf of Mexico? He said: We contemplate no action as to them; we are satisfied with the position of things there/ I agreed to see the Commissioners on that day, and to obtain their consent to a delay of their demand for an answer to their letter, and would afford him an answer. Mr. S. said he must have an answer that day, and if I were successful I might prevent a civil war.​
Note the commission's summary of his purpose.
I called upon Mr. Crawford, one of the Commissioners, and informed him that I desired to write a letter to Mr. Davis; that I wished him to defer any call for an answer to his letter to Mr. Seward asking a reception or recognition of his public character until Mr. D. s reply was received. He objected. He said that the Commissioners had been sent to obtain a recognition from the United States and a peaceful settlement and if they could not have those that they would return to their people and that their people might know what they had a right to expect. I informed him of the contemplated action as to Sumter, of the probable continuance of affairs in the Gulf without alteration, and what the conditions might be of hasty or irritating action. After some discussion he consented to my request, provided I would assure him on the subject of Sumter, and he required my authority for my assertion, informing me at the same time that he was satisfied that it was Mr. Seward. I declined to give him any name and told him that he was not authorized to infer that I was acting under any agency; that I was responsible to him for what I told him and that no other person was. I informed him that Judge Nelson was aware of all that I knew and would agree that I was justified in saying to him what I did. I certified in writing my confident belief that Sumter would be evacuated in five days; that no alteration would be made in the condition of affairs in the Gulf prejudicial to the Confederate States; and that a demand for an answer to his letter to the Secretary would be productive of evil. He preferred to write the letter to Mr. Davis and consented to the requisite delay."I informed Mr. Seward of this the same day by letter and of the communication I had made. At the end of five days, Mr. Crawford called upon me to know why Sumter had not been evacuated.​
 
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thomas aagaard

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#47
if the North tried to exercise the erstwhile powers of the Federal government within the frontiers of the Confederate States.
I think that was very naive considering that it is the duty of the president to make sure US laws are followed within the union.
Sure a weak president might have gone along with it and pushed the whole issue over to congress, but I do think that would be a cross dereliction of his duty.
 

jgoodguy

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#48
I think that was very naive considering that it is the duty of the president to make sure US laws are followed within the union.
Sure a weak president might have gone along with it and pushed the whole issue over to congress, but I do think that would be a cross dereliction of his duty.
IMHO the 80 years or so of the North giving into Southern demands produced an environment where they figured they could get it. With a CSA president figuring he was a war leader, the Southern honor social structure making them superior humans and it is easy to see how this happened.
 

jgoodguy

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#50
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.

A bit of a repeat of the Letter in post #46. Note that the letter on which this is based makes no reference to Judge Nelson verifying the information. Without Nelson's affirmation, we only have Campbell's version.

Later that morning Campbell went to Martin Crawford and told him that he was satisfied that Fort Sumter would be given up within five days and that there would be no change with respect to the Gulf forts. Giving up Sumter would impose a severe political strain on the administration, a strain which would be "injuriously increased by any demand for an answer to the communication of the commissioners of the Confederate States." He insisted that "an answer should not be requested until the effect of the evacuation of Fort Sumter on the public mind should be ascertained, and, at all events, that nothing be done for ten days."50 Crawford immediately guessed that Campbell came from Seward, but he was told by the judge not to assume that he was acting as anyone's agent; however, Justice Nelson could vouch for the accuracy of all that he had said.51 Crawford gave the impression of not wanting to agree to a delay, but finally consented (pending instructions from Montgomery) provided Campbell would write down his remarks and have Nelson verify them. This was done, and the result was the following note:​
Message to Davis.

I feel perfect confidence in the fact that Fort Sumter will be evacuated in the next five days-and that this is felt to be a measure imposing vast responsibility upon the Administration.​
I feel perfect confidence that no measure changing the existing status of things prejudicially to the Southern Confederate States is at present contemplated.​
I feel entire confidence that any immediate demand for an answer to the communication of the Commissioners will be productive of evil & not of good.​
I do not believe that it should be pressed. I earnestly ask for a delay until the effect of the evacuation of Fort Sumter can be ascertained-or at least for a few days, say ten days.​
15 Mar 1861 (Signed) J. A. C.52​

However look at this footnote suggesting over-optimism by Crawford. We do have Nelson's confirmation. Did Steward say that or did the justices hear that?

53Davis, Rise and Fall of Confederate Government, I, 232n. 5,Bancroft, Seward, II, 115n, gives Campbell's letter to Seward. A recent work, Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862 (New York, 1959), 51n, states that Seward did not give a pledge that Sumter would be evacuated because (1) he did not have the power to do so and (2) Campbell's note only expressed the belief in the strong probability that the fort would be given up; he did not relay a "categorical promise" to that effect. It might be remarked that it is not necessary to possess the power to execute a pledge in order to give one; further, it was certainly not unreasonable of the commissioners to think that the Secretary of State did have the power to give such a pledge. Campbell did not speak in terms of "probability" but on the contrary used the phrases "entire confidence" and "perfect confidence," reflecting the words of Seward as understood by himself and Justice Nelson.
Footnotes
52Copy A, entitled Notes of Judge J. A. Campbell, accompanying Crawford, Forsyth, and Roman to Toombs, March 22, 1861, in Pickett Papers.
53Davis, Rise and Fall of Confederate Government, I, 232n.
55Dated March 15 and 16, respectively, in 'Pickett Papers.
56Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, III, 409; original in Pickett Papers.




 
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#51
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.

A bit of a repeat of the Letter in post #46. Note that the letter on which this is based makes no reference to Judge Nelson verifying the information. Without Nelson's affirmation, we only have Campbell's version.

Later that morning Campbell went to Martin Crawford and told him that he was satisfied that Fort Sumter would be given up within five days and that there would be no change with respect to the Gulf forts. Giving up Sumter would impose a severe political strain on the administration, a strain which would be "injuriously increased by any demand for an answer to the communication of the commissioners of the Confederate States." He insisted that "an answer should not be requested until the effect of the evacuation of Fort Sumter on the public mind should be ascertained, and, at all events, that nothing be done for ten days."50 Crawford immediately guessed that Campbell came from Seward, but he was told by the judge not to assume that he was acting as anyone's agent; however, Justice Nelson could vouch for the accuracy of all that he had said.51 Crawford gave the impression of not wanting to agree to a delay, but finally consented (pending instructions from Montgomery) provided Campbell would write down his remarks and have Nelson verify them. This was done, and the result was the following note:​
Message to Davis.

I feel perfect confidence in the fact that Fort Sumter will be evacuated in the next five days-and that this is felt to be a measure imposing vast responsibility upon the Administration.​
I feel perfect confidence that no measure changing the existing status of things prejudicially to the Southern Confederate States is at present contemplated.​
I feel entire confidence that any immediate demand for an answer to the communication of the Commissioners will be productive of evil & not of good.​
I do not believe that it should be pressed. I earnestly ask for a delay until the effect of the evacuation of Fort Sumter can be ascertained-or at least for a few days, say ten days.​
15 Mar 1861 (Signed) J. A. C.52​

However look at this footnote suggesting over-optimism by Crawford. We do have Nelson's confirmation. Did Steward say that or did the justices hear that?

53Davis, Rise and Fall of Confederate Government, I, 232n. 5,Bancroft, Seward, II, 115n, gives Campbell's letter to Seward. A recent work, Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862 (New York, 1959), 51n, states that Seward did not give a pledge that Sumter would be evacuated because (1) he did not have the power to do so and (2) Campbell's note only expressed the belief in the strong probability that the fort would be given up; he did not relay a "categorical promise" to that effect. It might be remarked that it is not necessary to possess the power to execute a pledge in order to give one; further, it was certainly not unreasonable of the commissioners to think that the Secretary of State did have the power to give such a pledge. Campbell did not speak in terms of "probability" but on the contrary used the phrases "entire confidence" and "perfect confidence," reflecting the words of Seward as understood by himself and Justice Nelson.
Footnotes
52Copy A, entitled Notes of Judge J. A. Campbell, accompanying Crawford, Forsyth, and Roman to Toombs, March 22, 1861, in Pickett Papers.
53Davis, Rise and Fall of Confederate Government, I, 232n.
55Dated March 15 and 16, respectively, in 'Pickett Papers.
56Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, III, 409; original in Pickett Papers.




Of the nine Supreme Court justices in 1861 how many were from the soon to be Confederate States and Southern border states. I know Taney is from Maryland. At any time prior to the firing on Ft.Sumter did the Secessionists file for an injunction to preclude the Federal government from using force to prevent Secession?
Leftyhunter
 

jgoodguy

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#52
Of the nine Supreme Court justices in 1861 how many were from the soon to be Confederate States and Southern border states. I know Taney is from Maryland. At any time prior to the firing on Ft.Sumter did the Secessionists file for an injunction to preclude the Federal government from using force to prevent Secession?
Leftyhunter

They all left town before litigation. Taney seems to be preparing a brief in favor of that. A number of legal eagles of the time thought secession was unconstitutional and coercion was also unconstitutional. I think that that interpretation might have been upheld by the Taney court. The attack on Fort Sumter changed that and Lincoln's position was that the States did not leave the union, but rebels took over their governments.

Looks like 4 see
Abraham Lincoln's Supreme Court

Campbell Alabama went South
Taney Maryland
Catron Tennessee
Wayne Georgia.
 

jgoodguy

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#53
The life of William H. Seward by Bancroft, Frederic, 1860-1945
Link
Yet another view of Seward's promise that Fort Sumter would be evacuated.
Based on this post from 2011 by @trice

P118-119 link Lincoln carefully avoided antagonizing Steward We have 3 questions to consider.

Until the last days of March, Seward's influence over the administration seemed to be undisturbed. Although Lincoln had not adopted his recommendations, he so carefully avoided direct antagonism to them that Seward and his friends—as well as Jefferson Davis1—continued to believe that they would prevail. What did the status at this time—near the end of March—indicate as to the efficiency of Seward's plan and methods if they should be allowed full sway? A fair point from which to judge them should be gained by a careful examination of these three questions​
1. How did the Confederates regard and expect to meet his policy?​
2. What conditions did the southern Unionists put upon its acceptance?​
3. What did Seward's closest friends, and other Republicans, think of the outlook?​
The Confederates considered themselves as in charge and able to bend the United States to their demands. IMHO this will generate anger that will influence Davis' reaction.

1. With profound complacency, the Confederates regarded Seward as their cat's-paw*. " I have felt it my duty under instructions from your department, as well as from my best judgment," Crawford wrote to Toombs,March 6th, " to adopt and support Mr. Seward's policy,upon condition, however, that the present status is to be rigidly maintained. His reasons and my own, it is proper to say, are as wide apart as the poles : he is fully persuaded that peace will bring about a reconstruction of the Union, whilst I feel confident that it will build up and cement our Confederacy and put us beyond the reach either of his arms or of his diplomacy." " It is well that he should indulge in dreams which we know are not to be realized," Forsyth and Crawford complacently said, two days later. Because the Confederates were living under their own laws and were levying tribute upon the North, the commissioners felt that a continuance of quiet would be most conducive to solidification of their government and to preparation for any emergency; while it would tend to' give them character,power, and influence abroad.1 The evacuation of Forts Sumter and Pickens would be pro tanto** a recognition of independence. Obtaining Fort Pickens might be a work of time. " Still, invest the latter as Sumter was and it soon becomes a necessity." Crawford pointed out that,by procuring from Seward a pledge not to change the status, the Confederate States had won a great advantage, for they " were not bound in any way whatever to observe the same course toward it "—the United States." We think, then, that the policy of ' masterly inactivity,'on our part, was wise in every particular."2 As late as April 2d, the Confederate Secretary of State wrote to the commissioners: " It is a matter of no importance to us what motives may induce the adoption of Mr. Seward'spolicy by his government. We are satisfied that it will rebound to our advantage, and, therefore, care little for Mr. Seward's calculations as to its future effect upon the Confederate States." At the same time Toombsinstruct-ed the commissioners not to agree to maintain the presentstatus except upon the condition that the United States troops should be withdrawn from both Sumter and Pick-ens. From the beginning these forts were linked together for war or peace.3 This soon became apparent.​
While the CSA refuses to change its laws to accomidate a peace effore it demands the US change its laws.
The commissioners had asked their government if during negotiations it would be practicable to collect the same duties as were required by the laws of the UnitedStates rather than by those of the Confederacy. March 14th, Toombs answered: " The government of the Confederate States can never agree that negotiations shall be made dependent on the nonexecution of our own laws. . . . Not even to avert war can we ever consent to suspend the operation of the laws which we are bound to execute."
Again the demand is for the Union to take no action say to resupply Fort Sumter while allowing the CSA the option to attack Fort Sumter or Fort Pickens at will.
In a separate despatch of March 29th Roman expressed hopes that Seward would, "before long, return to his idea of having an informal interview with us, and that some plan, not for a final treaty of peace—he dares not go so far—but for a truce or cessation of hostilities, perhaps until the meeting of the next Congress, may be agreed upon."​
If the Confederates understood the needs of their own government, Seward's expectations were to be disappointed—unless he had some plan in reserve.​


* a person who is used by another to carry out an unpleasant or dangerous task.​
** to such an extent; to that extent.​
1 Commissioners, March 26th.
2 Crawford to Toombs, April 1st.
3 On February 15th, a resolution of the Confederate Congress expressed the opinion " that immediate steps should be taken to obtain possession of Forts Sumter and Pickens, by the authority of this government, either by negotiations or force, as early as practicable."1 War Records, 258.
 

jgoodguy

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#54
The life of William H. Seward by Bancroft, Frederic, 1860-1945
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P120-121

Stewards friends advised giving into the Commissioners. Steward believed passionately that peace would result in the reconstruction of the Union. He was wrong. There was nothing suggesting that in reality.

2. John A. Gilmer, of North-Carolina, and George W.Summers, of Virginia, probably stood closer to Seward than any other Southerners, not Republicans. Gilmer indicated his belief that, in order to save the Unionists in the southern states from being " swept away in a torrent of madness," it would be necessary to withdraw the troops from all the fortifications in the Confederacy and leave the revenue laws unenforced, so as to avoid a resort to arms.1 He thought that most of the states could be won back in less than two years. LikewiseJudge Summers, in his great Union speech before the Virginia convention, maintained that there was neither cause nor power to retake the lost forts ; that there was no way for the United States to collect the customs in the seceded states ; that we were " bound to accept secession as an existing fact," for the seven states had" formed a new confederacy " and were " now performing the functions of an independent government."11​

Footnotes
1 For Gilmer's letters to Seward, see Appendix L.
2 At the same time, he said he would regard that statesman as "narrow and unphilosophical" who should consider the action of these
Moreover, the report of the committee on Federal relations had already indicated that more than half the members of the convention were practically defensive allies of the Confederacy.1 Throughout March those who called themselves Unionists or conservatives held the immediate secessionists in check; but it was the task of Sisyphus, and every day the burden grew heavier. Not even one hint has been found, in the many letters, they wrote to Seward, that they would remain loyal if the Confederacy should be resisted. Lincoln's sarcasticexclamation—"Yes! your Virginia people are goodUnionists, but it is always with an if!"*—was a perfect characterization of their attitude. And, as a matter of fact, those whom Lincoln so accurately called Seward and Weed's "white crows" soon became Confederates. Yet Seward expected such broken reeds to be the southern pillars of the Union!​
Footnotes 1 American Annual Cyclopaedia, 1861, 732-34.
2 1 Southern Historical Papers, 446.
 

jgoodguy

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#55
The life of William H. Seward by Bancroft, Frederic, 1860-1945
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P121-122
Reading the newspapers and listening to gossip, it appears that the Union is on the ropes making the CSA confident of victory, that one more push would do it. IMHO Steward would have surrendered.

3. The commissioners had frequently reported that the peace party at the North was growing. An editorial article in the New York Times of March 21st said that " there is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go." Every week of quiet strengthened conservatives and abolitionists in the belief that it would be better to say, " Wayward sisters, depart in peace," than to risk the perils of a civil war. Neither the Times nor the EveningJournalaccepted this view, but both papers suggested that an extra session of Congress would be a prerequisite of adopting a policy of active resistance to secession.1 Gilmer urged Seward, March 12th, to draw up a proclamation throwing uponBuchanan's administration the blame for the condition of affairs. To this Seward replied that the suggestions were "judicious."2 There had been a verymarkedchangeof attitude since the previous winter when the EveningJournal denounced Buchanan for not pursuing a vigorous policy. The almost free-trade tariff of the Confederacy had so demoralized importation at the North that theTimes said, on March 30th: " With us it is no longer an abstract question—one of constitutional construction, or of reserved or delegated powers of the state or Federal government, but of material existence and moral position both at home and abroad." Douglas and most of the Democrats were known to be in favor of withdrawing the troops from both Sumter and Pickens, and recog-nizing as a fact what had taken place. The RepublicanSenators became more and more impatient, and Trum-bull finally introduced a resolution declaring that thetrue wayto preserve the Union was to enforce in all thestates the laws of the Union.3​
1 la a very significant editorial article on "Peaceful Secession,"
March 23d, the Evening Journal said that there should be no shedding
of blood " by the general government, if it have not the needed force to
carry on the war which the shedding of blood would initiate." As late
as April 3d, a leading article in the Times said: "If he [the President]
decides to enforce the laws, let him call Congress together and demand
the means of doing it."
2 See Appendix L, letter of April 11th. a Globe, 1860-61, 1519.
 

jgoodguy

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#56
Confederate Veteran
based off of @trice post
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P447-448

A southern view

Treatment of Confederate Commissioners. On the 12th of March, 1861, eight days after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, the Confederate commissioners addressed a note to Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, asking for an interview in order to have a conference for the purpose of adjusting all questions between the United States and the Confederate States government. To this request, no answer was returned at the time. But to Supreme Justice Nelson, of New York, who had come to protest against coercion as unconstitutional, Mr. Seward intimated that to receive the commissioners officially would be taken as an acknowledgment of the independence of the Confederacy, which the Northern people would not stand. Then Supreme Justice Campbell, of Alabama, was- asked by Justice Nelson to call with him on the Secretary, which they did, and the Secretary told them that the immediate recognition of the commissioners would not be sustained by sentiment at the North in connection with the withdrawal of troops from Fort Sumter, which had been determined on. When Judge Campbell proposed to write to President Davis the substance of the interview, Mr. Seward authorized him to say to Mr. Davis that before that letter should reach him the order for the evacuation of Fort Sumter would have been made. This was on March 15, 1861. Thenceforth the negotiations between the commissioners and Mr. Seward were through Judges Campbell and Nelson and turned on the evacuation of Fort Sumter as determining the question of coercion or peace, for all recognized that coercion meant war. Five days after the assurance of the Secretary that the fort should be evacuated there was evidence that it was being strengthened. Mr. Seward assured the commissioners, through Judge Campbell, that the delay in evacuation was accidental and did not involve the integrity of his assurance that the evacuation would take place.
On the 19th of March Mr. G. V. Fox, afterwards Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who had a plan for the relief of Fort Sumter, went, with Mr. Lincoln's consent, to Charleston, where, on his arrival on the 21st of March, he obtained permission from Governor Pickens to visit Fort Sumter' "expressly on the pledge of pacific purposes." There he matured his plan for furnishing supplies and reinforcements to the garrison. He did not communicate his plan to Major Anderson, the commanding officer of the fort. He reported the result of his visit to Washington. His plan was approved by President Lincoln, and he was sent to New York to arrange for its execution. After a few days Colonel Lamon, another confidential agent, was sent by President Lincoln ostensibly to arrange for the removal of the garrison. On leaving he expressed hope to Governor Pickens of a speedy return for that purpose. He never returned.
Perfidity or bureaucracy plus Steward's personal plans.
On the 30th of March, after Colonel Lamon's departure, Governor Pickens wrote to the commissioners inquiring the meaning of the prolonged delay in fulfilling the promise of evacuation. This dispatch was taken by Judge Campbell to Mr. Seward, who answered on April 1, saying that "the government will not attempt to supply Fort Sumter without giving notice to Governor Pickens." Being asked by Judge Campbell if there had been a change as to the former communications, Mr. Seward answered, "None." Let it be borne in mind that all this occurred while Mr. Fox was making active, though secret, preparations for his relief expedition.
And War Came.

On the 7th of April, the commissioners becoming impatient, having heard of the projected relief expedition, Judge Campbell asked Mr. Seward whether the assurances so often were given were well or ill-founded. To this the Secretary returned an answer in writing: "Faith as to Sumter fully kept. Wait and see." At that time the relief expedition had already sailed from New York for Charleston ; for on the 8th of April Mr. Chew, an official of the State Department in Washington, delivered to Governor Pickens and to General Beauregard an official notification, without date or signature, that the attempt would be made to supply Fort Sumter. Mr. Chew said that this notification was from the President of the United States and was delivered to him (Chew) on April 6. The relief expedition, or squadron, consisted of eight vessels carrying twenty- six guns and fourteen hundred men, including troops sent to reinforce the garrison. It should have reached Charleston on the 9th, before General Beauregard could have prepared to receive it; but it was delayed by a tempest and was lying just outside of the harbor on the 12th of April when General Beauregard was bombarding Fort Sumter, which was surrendered after a gallant defense on the 13th of April, the garrison marching out with the honors of war.​


 

wbull1

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#57
Seward, as we know now, was acting on his hopeful misinterpretation of the new Lincoln administration. He imagined if things remained peaceful that the southern states would want to return to the Union, which was another assumption based more on hope than on reality.
 

jgoodguy

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#58
Seward, as we know now, was acting on his hopeful misinterpretation of the new Lincoln administration. He imagined if things remained peaceful that the southern states would want to return to the Union, which was another assumption based more on hope than on reality.
I see lots of assumptions, dashed with hurt feelings.
 

wbull1

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#59
I see lots of assumptions, dashed with hurt feelings.
I agree. I think also President Buchanan's foolish remarks essentially "You can't secede, but I can't do anything about it if you do" and his inaction gave a false impression that the Union would just allow the Confederacy to set up an independent nation.
 

jgoodguy

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#60
I agree. I think also President Buchanan's foolish remarks essentially "You can't secede, but I can't do anything about it if you do" and his inaction gave a false impression that the Union would just allow the Confederacy to set up an independent nation.
that opinion was held by a lot of folks. I tend to agree with that assessment. It was never tested because open hot rebellion is war and war rules apply.
 



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