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Title: Life of James Buchanan, v. 2 (of 2) - Fifteenth President of the United States
Author: Curtis, George Tickner
Language: English
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[Illustration: JAMES BUCHANAN]

                             JAMES BUCHANAN


                         GEORGE TICKNOR CURTIS

                            _IN TWO VOLUMES_
                                VOL. II.

                                NEW YORK

               Copyright, 1883, by GEORGE TICKNOR CURTIS.

                         _All rights reserved._

                   _Stereotyped by Smith & McDougal._


                               CHAPTER I.


 Purchase of Wheatland—Nomination and Election of General              1
   Taylor—His Death and the Accession of President
   Fillmore—The Compromise Measures of 1850—Letters to Miss
   Lane—Public Letters on Political Topics

                               CHAPTER II.

 The Presidential Nominations of 1852—Election of General             34
   Franklin Pierce to the Presidency—Buchanan’s Course in
   regard to the Nomination and the Election—His Efforts to
   defeat the Whig Candidate

                              CHAPTER III.

 Personal and Political Relations with the President—Elect            68
   and with Mr. Marcy, his Secretary of State—Buchanan is
   offered the Mission to England—His own Account of the
   Offer, and his Reasons for accepting it—Parting with his
   Friends and Neighbors in Lancaster—Correspondence with his

                               CHAPTER IV.

 Arrival in London—Presentation to the Queen at Osborne—The           99
   Ministry of Lord Aberdeen—Mr. Marcy’s Circular about Court
   Costumes, and the Dress Question at the English
   Court—Letters to Miss Lane

                               CHAPTER V.

 Negotiations with Lord Clarendon—The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty          126
   and Affairs in Central America—The Crimean War and the new
   British Doctrine respecting the Property of Neutrals

                               CHAPTER VI.

 British Enlistments in the United States—Recall of the              134
   English Minister at Washington—The Ostend Conference

                              CHAPTER VII.

 The Social Position of Mr. Buchanan and his Niece in England        142

                              CHAPTER VIII.

 Return to America—Nomination and Election to the                    169
   Presidency—Significance of Mr. Buchanan’s Election in
   respect to the Sectional Questions—Private Correspondence

                               CHAPTER IX.


 Inauguration as President—Selection of a Cabinet—The                187
   Disturbances in Kansas—Mr. Buchanan’s Construction of the
   Kansas-Nebraska Act, and of the “Platform” on which he was
   elected—Final Admission of Kansas into the Union

                               CHAPTER X.

 Foreign Relations during Mr. Buchanan’s Administration              211

                               CHAPTER XI.

 Complimentary Gift from Prince Albert to Mr. Buchanan—Visit         228
   of the Prince of Wales—Correspondence with the Queen—Minor
   Incidents of the Administration—Traits of
   Character—Letters to Miss Lane—Marriage of a young Friend

                              CHAPTER XII.
                          1860—March and June.

 The so-called “Covode Investigation.”                               246

                              CHAPTER XIII.

 Summary of the Slavery Questions from 1787 to 1860—The              262
   Anti-Slavery Agitation in the North—Growth and Political
   Triumph of the Republican Party—Fatal Divisions among the
   Democrats—Mr. Buchanan declines to be regarded as a
   Candidate for a second Election

                              CHAPTER XIV.

 General Scott’s “Views.”                                            297

                               CHAPTER XV.

 Election of President Lincoln—The Secession of South                315
   Carolina—Nature of the Doctrine of Secession—President
   Buchanan prepares to encounter the Secession
   Movement—Distinction between making War on a State and
   enforcing the Laws of the United States

                              CHAPTER XVI.

 The President’s Annual Message of December 3, 1860                  330

                              CHAPTER XVII.

 Reception of the President’s Message in the Cabinet, in             352
   Congress, and in the Country—The firm Attitude and wise
   Policy of Mr. Buchanan

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

 General Scott again advises the President—Major Anderson’s          365
   Removal from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter—Arrival of
   Commissioners from South Carolina in Washington—Their
   Interview and Communication with the President—The
   supposed Pledge of the _Status Quo_—The “Cabinet Crisis”
   of December 29th—Reply of the President to the South
   Carolina Commissioners—The anonymous Diarist of the _North
   American Review_ confuted

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                      December, 1860-January, 1861.

 Resignation of General Cass from the Department of                  396
   State—Reconstruction of the Cabinet which followed after
   the Resignations of Messrs. Cobb, Thompson, and Thomas

                               CHAPTER XX.

 The Resignation of Secretary Floyd, and its Cause—Refutation        406
   of the Story of his stealing the Arms of the United
   States—General Scott’s Assertions disproved

                              CHAPTER XXI.
                       November, 1860-March, 1861.

 The Action of Congress on the Recommendations of the                418
   President’s Annual Message—The “Crittenden
   Compromise”—Strange Course of the New York
   _Tribune_—Special Message of January 8, 1861

[Illustration: WHEATLAND.]

                        LIFE OF JAMES BUCHANAN.


                               CHAPTER I.


At the distance of a little more than a mile from that part of the city
of Lancaster where Mr. Buchanan had lived for many years, and a little
beyond the corporate limits, there had long stood a substantial brick
mansion on a small estate of twenty-two acres known as Wheatland, and
sometimes called “The Wheatlands.” The house, although not imposing, or
indeed of any architectural beauty, was nevertheless a sort of _beau
ideal_ of a statesman’s abode, with ample room and verge for all the
wants of a moderate establishment. Without and within, the place has an
air of comfort, respectability, and repose. It had been for some years
owned and occupied as a summer residence by the Hon. Wm. M. Meredith of
Philadelphia, a very eminent lawyer, who became Secretary of the
Treasury in the administration of President Taylor. The house stands
about half way up a gently rising ground, and has a wide lawn stretching
down to the county road, shaded by oaks, elms, and larches, interspersed
with evergreens. The view from the front of the house, looking to the
west of north, ranges over a broad expanse of the county of Lancaster,
one of the richest of Pennsylvania’s lovely domains, spread out in a map
of highly cultivated farms, and dotted by the homesteads of a wealthy
agricultural population. Behind the house stands a noble wood, which is
reached through the gardens; and from the crown of the hill, in a
southerly direction, the eye ranges over another fine valley of smaller
extent. Coolness and peace pervade this attractive old place, and it is
not singular that a man of Mr. Buchanan’s habits and temperament, who
could not afford time and had no strong tastes for large pursuits of
agriculture, should have coveted this his neighbor’s dwelling.

But he did not break the commandment in seeking it. A treaty between two
persons for the purchase of an estate is not ordinarily a matter of much
interest. But this one was conducted in a manner so honorable to both
parties that a few words may be given to it. The buyer and the seller
had always been on opposite political sides; but they were friends, and
they were gentlemen. In the month of June, 1848, Mr. Buchanan, having
heard that Mr. Meredith wished to sell this property, addressed to him
the following letter:

                     [MR. BUCHANAN TO MR. MEREDITH.]

                                          WASHINGTON, June 12, 1848.


  I have received an intimation from our friends Fordney and Reynolds
  that you are willing to sell the Wheatlands, for the price which you
  gave Mr. Potter for them. As I intend, in any event, to retire from
  public life on the 4th of March next, I should be pleased to become
  the purchaser. The terms of payment I could make agreeable to
  yourself; and I should be glad if you would retain the possession
  until the autumn. In making this offer, I desire to purchase from you
  just what you purchased from Mr. Potter, and to pay you the same price
  which you paid him. If I have been misinformed in regard to your
  desire to sell, I know you will pardon this intrusion.

                                    Yours, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

To this letter Mr. Meredith replied as follows:

                     [MR. MEREDITH TO MR. BUCHANAN.]

                                        PHILADELPHIA, June 19, 1848.


  On my return home a day or two since I had the pleasure of finding
  your letter. A month ago, I should probably have accepted your offer,
  as I had then an opportunity of securing a place in this neighborhood
  that would have suited me better in point of proximity than Wheatland.
  I have missed that, and it is now too late to make new arrangements
  for my family for the summer. I should not like to occupy the place
  after having sold it, for several reasons, and principally because the
  certainty of leaving it would tend to render the children
  uncomfortable through the season. These little people are imaginative
  and live very much on the future, and it would scarcely do to destroy
  all their little plans, and schemes, and expectations connected with
  the place at the very commencement of their holidays. I will
  therefore, with your permission, postpone the subject to the autumn,
  when, if I should be disposed to part with the place, I will do myself
  the pleasure of writing to you. Of course your offer does not stand
  over; but I will certainly make no disposition of the property without
  first offering it to you.

              With great esteem, I am, sir, yours most respectfully,
                                                    W. M. MEREDITH.

In the autumn, Mr. Buchanan again wrote:

                     [MR. BUCHANAN TO MR. MEREDITH.]

                                     WASHINGTON, September 25, 1848.


  Upon my return to this city, on Saturday night, I found your letter to
  Mr. Fordney kindly offering to dispose of Wheatland, including all
  that you bought from Mr. Potter, to myself at the price you paid, and
  the matting in the house at a valuation. I accept this proposition,
  and you may consider the bargain closed.

  Of the purchase-money I can conveniently pay $1750 at present, and the
  remainder on or before the first of January. If, however, you should
  need it sooner, I can procure it without much difficulty.

  You can make the deed when you think proper, and the affair of the
  matting may be arranged at any time.

              With many thanks for your kindness,
                               I remain yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

In the succeeding month of November, the following letters passed
between the two gentlemen:

                     [MR. BUCHANAN TO MR. MEREDITH.]

 (Private.)                                LANCASTER, November 21, 1848.


  I have seen Mr. Fordney since I came here, who read me a part of your
  second letter. From this I infer that you regret you had parted with
  Wheatland. Now, my dear sir, if you have the least inclination to
  retain it, speak the word and our bargain shall be as if it never had
  been. It will not put me to the least inconvenience, as I have an
  excellent house in Lancaster. Indeed I feel a personal interest in
  having you in the midst of our society; and if you should retain
  Wheatland, I know that after you shall be satisfied with fame and
  fortune, you will make this beautiful residence your place of
  permanent abode.

  Please to address me at Paradise P. O., Lancaster county, as I shall
  be at my brother’s, near that place, to-morrow evening, where I shall
  remain until Thursday evening.

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                     [MR. MEREDITH TO MR. BUCHANAN.]

                                    PHILADELPHIA, November 23, 1848.


  Your very kind letter was received yesterday, just as I was going to
  court in the morning, where I was kept without dinner till near six. I
  was then obliged to attend an evening engagement at seven. I mention
  these details to excuse myself for the apparent want of promptness in
  replying. I have in the first place to express to you my deep sense of
  the courtesy and consideration which induced you to make me the offer
  which your letter contains. I cannot accept it, because to do so would
  be to take advantage of your friendly impulses, which I ought not and
  cannot do. I have no doubt I shall find a place somewhere in the same
  county, and hope to call neighbors with you yet. I need not say how
  much I regret that Mr. Fordney should have been so indiscreet as to
  communicate my letter to you.

  My furniture, etc., is now removed, and I will deliver possession at
  once, and I wish you heartily, my dear sir, many years of happiness

              I am, always your obliged friend and servant,
                                                     W. M. MEREDITH.

In December the purchase-money was paid and the deed of the property was
executed by Mr. Meredith. Mr. Buchanan soon afterwards transferred his
household goods to Wheatland, and from that time until his death it was
his permanent abode, when he did not occupy some official residence in
Washington or in London. He removed to Wheatland the furniture which he
had hitherto used in Washington and Lancaster, and made some new
purchases. The style of everything was solid, comfortable, and
dignified, without any show. The library was in the eastern wing of the
house, and was entered by a hall running transversely from the main
hall, which extended through the house from east and west, and was also
entered from the principal parlor. At the window of the library farthest
from the main hall was Mr. Buchanan’s accustomed seat. Long years of
honorable public service, however, and sore trials, are to be traced,
before we reach the period when he finally retired to the repose of this
peaceful retreat. He left office on the 4th of March, 1849, with a fixed
purpose not to re-enter public life. But although he held no public
position during the four years of General Taylor’s and Mr. Fillmore’s
term, he could not avoid taking an active interest in public affairs;
and it will be seen that he was not at liberty to decline all public
service when his party in 1853 again came into power.

But it is now necessary to revert to the spring and summer of 1848, and
to the state of things consequent upon the treaty which had been
concluded with Mexico. The great acquisitions of territory made by the
annexation of Texas, and the cession of New Mexico and California to the
United States, had opened questions on which the Democratic and the Whig
parties occupied very different positions. The acquisition of these
countries was a Democratic measure; and had that party retained its
control of the Federal Government, it is probable that its Northern and
its Southern branches would have united upon some plan for disposing of
the question of slavery in these new regions. The Whigs, on the other
hand, although constituting the opposition, and as such acting against
the administration of Mr. Polk and its measures, were far from being
unanimous in their resistance to the treaty which Mr. Polk proposed to
make with Mexico. There were very eminent Whigs who were opposed to all
acquisitions of new territory, for various reasons, and especially
because of the tendency of such acquisitions to re-open questions about
slavery. There were other very prominent men in the Whig party who were
willing to have New Mexico and California added to the Union, and to
trust to the chances of a harmonious settlement of all questions that
might follow in regard to the organization of governments for those
extensive regions. It may not only now be seen, but it was apparent to
thoughtful observers at the time, that the true course for the Whig
party to pursue, was to adopt as its candidate for the Presidency some
one of its most eminent and experienced statesmen, who would represent a
definite policy on this whole subject, either by an application of the
so-called “Wilmot Proviso,” or what was far better, considering the
sectional feelings involved, by an extension to the Pacific Ocean of the
Missouri Compromise line of division between free and slave territory.
But there came about in the winter of 1848 one of those states of
popular feeling, in which the people of this country have sometimes
taken it for granted that military success, united with certain traits
of character, is a good ground for assuming fitness of an individual for
the highest civil station. Along with this somewhat hazardous assumption
there runs at such times the vague and scarcely expressed idea that the
Presidency of the United States is to be treated as a reward for
distinguished military services. After General Taylor’s return from his
Mexican campaign, in which a series of brilliant victories were gained,
on each occasion with a force numerically inferior to that of the enemy,
he became at once a sort of popular idol. There were a good many
elements in his personal character, which entitled him to strong esteem,
and some which easily account for his sudden popularity. He had a blunt
honesty and sincerity of purpose, which were backed by great strength of
will, and prodigious energy as a warrior. The appellation of “Old Rough
and Ready,” bestowed on him by his soldiers, went straight to the
popular heart. These indications of what has been called “availability”
in the political nomenclature which has acquired a peculiar
significance, were not lost upon that class of Whig politicians who were
most disposed to be on the lookout for such means of political success.
General Taylor, although never a politician, and although, from his
military life, he had rarely even voted at elections, was known to be a
Whig, but, as he described himself, not an “Ultra Whig.” He was at no
pains to seek a nomination for the Presidency, but it was pretty well
known that if it came to him unsought, he would accept it. At the same
time, with the modesty and sincerity that belonged to his honest nature,
he did not affect to conceal his own distrust of his fitness for the
office. It was, with him, a matter which the people of the country were
to decide. If they chose to call him to the office, he would discharge
its duties to the best of his ability. The sagacity of that portion of
the Whigs who expected to win a political victory with such a candidate,
was not at fault. When the Whig national convention, which was to make
the nomination, assembled at Philadelphia in June, (1848), it was found
that both Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster were to be disregarded; and on the
fourth ballotting General Taylor received 171 votes out of 279. It is a
remarkable fact, that although this nomination was made by a national
convention of all the Whigs, several attempts to have it declared by
resolution that it must be accepted as a “Whig” nomination, and to
declare what the principles of the Whig party were, were voted down. One
proposal was to have it declared that Whig principles were “no extension
of slavery—no acquisition of foreign territory—protection to American
industry, and opposition to executive usurpation.” But singularly
enough, these propositions were ruled to be out of order: and although
the nomination of Millard Fillmore of New York, as Vice President, might
seem to give the whole proceeding a Whig aspect, Mr. Fillmore’s name,
unconnected with any annunciation of a distinctive Whig policy, to be
upheld in the election, could do nothing more than to acquire for the
“ticket” such weight as his personal character, not then very
extensively known, could give to it. It was plain enough, therefore,
that the election of General Taylor as President, if it should occur,
would settle nothing in regard to the very serious questions that were
already resulting from the Mexican war.

It was this step on the part of the Whigs—nominating a candidate without
any declared policy—that entailed upon that party, at the beginning of
General Taylor’s administration, the most embarrassing questions, and
increased the danger of the formation of a third party, on the subject
of slavery, whose sphere of operations would be confined to the Northern
States, and which might, for the first time in our political history,
lead to a sectional division between the North and the South.

On the other hand, the Democratic party had to nominate a candidate for
the Presidency who, besides being of sufficient consideration throughout
the country to counteract the popular _furore_ about General Taylor,
would represent some distinctive policy in regard to the new territories
and the questions growing out of their acquisition. The friends of
General Cass, who, although he wore a military title, was not in the
category of military heroes, claimed that his party services and public
position entitled him to the nomination. Mr. Buchanan was by far the
fittest candidate whom the Democrats could have adopted; but he had made
it a rule not to press his claims upon the consideration of his party,
at the risk of impairing its harmony and efficiency. He had adhered to
this rule on more than one previous occasion, and he did not now depart
from it. General Cass was nominated by the Democratic Convention, and
along with the candidate for the Vice-Presidency, W. O. Butler of
Kentucky, he was vigorously supported in the canvass by Mr. Buchanan.[1]
But the Whig candidates, Taylor and Fillmore, received one hundred and
sixty-three electoral votes, being seventeen more than were necessary to
a choice. General Taylor was inaugurated as President on the 4th of
March, 1849. Although he was a citizen of Louisiana and a slaveholder,
he had received the electoral votes of the free States of Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, and
Pennsylvania. These, with the votes of Delaware, Maryland, North
Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida, had
elected him. All the other States had been obtained for the Democratic
candidates; for although the Northern Whigs who were dissatisfied with
such a candidate as General Taylor, and who had begun to call themselves
“Conscience Whigs,” together with a faction of the Northern Democracy
known as “barn-burners” had put in nomination Ex-President Van Buren of
New York and Mr. Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts, this singularly
combined party did not obtain the electoral vote of a single State.

Footnote 1:

  The “platform” of the Democratic party contained the following
  resolution: “That Congress has no power, under the Constitution, to
  interfere with, or control the domestic institutions of the several
  States; and that such States are the sole and proper judges of
  everything pertaining to their own affairs, not prohibited by the
  Constitution; that all efforts, by abolitionists or others, made to
  induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take
  incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the
  most alarming and dangerous consequences, and that all such efforts
  have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people
  and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not
  to be countenanced by any friend to our political institutions.”
  Excepting in an indirect manner, this resolution did not enunciate any
  specific policy in regard to the newly acquired territories.

While General Taylor, therefore, entered upon the administration of the
Government under circumstances which indicated much popular strength,
the situation of the country, and his want of the higher qualities of
statesmanship and civil experience, were not favorable to his success as
a President of the United States. His cabinet, moreover, was not,
comparatively speaking, a strong one. The Secretary of State, the Hon.
John M. Clayton of Delaware, was scarcely the equal of Mr. Calhoun and
Mr. Buchanan, his immediate predecessors; and his negotiation of the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty was one of the most unfortunate occurrences in our
diplomatic history. The Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Meredith, was
simply an accomplished lawyer and a most estimable gentleman. The
Attorney-General, the Hon. Reverdy Johnson of Baltimore, was a very
eminent advocate in the Supreme Court of the United States, but not a
wise and far-seeing statesman. The ablest man in the cabinet,
intellectually, was the Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio. The other Secretaries
were not men of much renown or force. When this administration took
charge of the executive department of the Government, a session of
Congress was not to commence until December, 1849. At that session,
California, which had adopted a State constitution and one that
prohibited slavery, demanded admission into the Union as a free State.
New Mexico and Utah required the organization of territorial
governments. The whole South was in a state of sensitiveness in regard
to these matters, and also in regard to the escape of slaves into free
territory and to the growing unwillingness of many of the people of the
Northern States to have executed that provision of the Constitution
which required the surrender of fugitives from service. General Taylor’s
policy on these dangerous subjects was not a statesman-like or a
practicable one. In his annual message (December, 1849), he recommended
the admission of California as a State; but he proposed that the other
Territories should be left as they were until they had formed State
governments and had applied for admission into the Union. Practically,
this would have involved the necessity for governing those regions
largely by military power; for the peace must be kept between the
inhabitants of Texas and the inhabitants of New Mexico, and between the
United States and Texas, in reference to her boundaries. In the opposite
sections of the Union popular feeling was rising to a point of great
excitement. In the North, the “Wilmot Proviso” was most insisted upon.
In the South, this was resented as an indignity. By the end of January,
1850, the angry discussion of these subjects in Congress had obstructed
almost all public business, and this excitement pervaded the legislative
bodies of the States and the whole press of both sections. It seemed as
if harmony and judicious legislation were impossible.

It was at this extraordinary juncture that Mr. Clay came forward in the
Senate with his celebrated propositions which became known as the
“Compromise Measures of 1850.”[2] The discussion of these measures went
on until the 9th of July (1850), on which day General Taylor died, after
a short illness. His policy was characterized by Mr. Webster as marked
by the foresight of a soldier, but not by the foresight of a statesman.
It was attended with the danger of a collision between the United States
and Texas, which might have led to a civil war. Mr. Fillmore, however,
who as Vice-President succeeded to General Taylor, and who was sworn
into office as President on the 10th of July, was a civilian and was not
without experience as a public man, although not hitherto very
conspicuous. Mr. Webster, Mr. Clay and Mr. Calhoun[3] had all
strenuously advocated the Compromise Measures. A particular description
of this great settlement must be deferred to a future chapter. But in
order that these measures might receive their consummation, a
reconstruction of the cabinet became necessary. All of the Secretaries
appointed by General Taylor resigned. The State Department was offered
to and accepted by Mr. Webster. Thomas Corwin of Ohio became Secretary
of the Treasury; Charles M. Conrad of Louisiana, Secretary of War;
William A. Graham of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy; Nathan K.
Hall of New York, Postmaster-General; John J. Crittenden of Kentucky,
Attorney-General; and Alexander H. H. Stuart of Virginia, Secretary of
the Interior. Thus a new Whig administration, pledged to the
pacification of the country by a policy very different from that of
General Taylor, came into the Executive Department. The Compromise
Measures became laws before the adjournment of Congress, which occurred
on the 30th of September; and then came the question whether they were
to be efficacious in quieting the sectional controversies about slavery,
and were to be acquiesced in by the North and the South. Mr. Buchanan,
although not in official life, in common with many other patriotic men
of both the principal parties, lent all his influence to the support of
this great settlement. In November, 1850, he had to address a letter to
a public meeting in Philadelphia, called to sustain the Compromise
Measures, in which he said:

Footnote 2:

  Introduced in the Senate, January 29th, 1850.

Footnote 3:

  Mr. Calhoun died at Washington on the last day of March, 1850, at the
  age of 68.

                      [LETTER TO A PUBLIC MEETING.]

                          “WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, Nov. 19, 1850.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  I now say that the platform of our blessed Union is strong enough and
  broad enough to sustain all true-hearted Americans. It is an
  elevated—it is a glorious platform on which the down-trodden nations
  of the earth gaze with hope and desire, with admiration and
  astonishment. Our Union is the star of the West, whose genial and
  steadily increasing influence will at last, should we remain an united
  people, dispel the gloom of despotism from the ancient nations of the
  world. Its moral power will prove to be more potent than millions of
  armed mercenaries. And shall this glorious star set in darkness before
  it has accomplished half its mission? Heaven forbid! Let us all
  exclaim with the heroic Jackson, ‘The Union must and shall be

  And what a Union has this been! The history of the human race presents
  no parallel to it. The bit of striped bunting which was to be swept
  from the ocean by a British navy, according to the predictions of a
  British statesman, previous to the war of 1812, is now displayed on
  every sea, and in every port of the habitable globe. Our glorious
  stars and stripes, the flag of our country, now protects Americans in
  every clime. ‘I am a Roman citizen!’ was once the proud exclamation
  which everywhere shielded an ancient Roman from insult and injustice.
  ‘I am an American citizen!’ is now an exclamation of almost equal
  potency throughout the civilized world. This is a tribute due to the
  power and resources of these thirty-one United States. In a just
  cause, we may defy the world in arms. We have lately presented a
  spectacle which has astonished the greatest captain of the age. At the
  call of their country, an irresistible host of armed men, and men,
  too, skilled in the use of arms, sprang up like the soldiers of
  Cadmus, from the mountains and valleys of our confederacy. The
  struggle among them was not who should remain at home, but who should
  enjoy the privilege of enduring the dangers and privations of a
  foreign war, in defence of their country’s rights. Heaven forbid that
  the question of slavery should ever prove to be the stone thrown into
  their midst by Cadmus, to make them turn their arms against each
  other, and die in mutual conflict.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  The common sufferings and common glories of the past, the prosperity
  of the present, and the brilliant hopes of the future, must impress
  every patriotic heart with deep love and devotion for the Union. Who
  that is now a citizen of this vast Republic, extending from the St.
  Lawrence to the Rio Grande, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, does
  not shudder at the idea of being transformed into a citizen of one of
  its broken, jealous and hostile fragments? What patriot had not rather
  shed the last drop of his blood, than see the thirty-one brilliant
  stars, which now float proudly upon our country’s flag, rudely torn
  from the national banner, and scattered in confusion over the face of
  the earth?

  Rest assured that all the patriotic emotions of every true-hearted
  Pennsylvanian, in favor of the Union and Constitution, are shared by
  Southern people. What battle-field has not been illustrated by their
  gallant deeds; and when in our history have they ever shrunk from
  sacrifices and sufferings in the cause of their country? What, then,
  means the muttering thunder which we hear from the South? The signs of
  the times are truly portentous. Whilst many in the South openly
  advocate the cause of secession and union, a large majority, as I
  firmly believe, still fondly cling to the Union, awaiting with deep
  anxiety the action of the North on the compromise lately effected in
  Congress. Should this be disregarded and nullified by the citizens of
  the North, the Southern people may become united, and then farewell, a
  long farewell, to our blessed Union. I am no alarmist; but a brave and
  wise man looks danger steadily in the face. This is the best means of
  avoiding it. I am deeply impressed with the conviction that the North
  neither sufficiently understands nor appreciates the danger. For my
  own part, I have been steadily watching its progress for the last
  fifteen years. During that period I have often sounded the alarm; but
  my feeble warnings have been disregarded. I now solemnly declare, as
  the deliberate conviction of my judgment, that two things are
  necessary to preserve this Union from danger:

  ‘1. Agitation in the North on the subject of Southern slavery must be
  rebuked and put down by a strong and enlightened public opinion.

  ‘2. The Fugitive Slave Law must be enforced in its spirit.’

  On each of these points I shall offer a few observations.

  Those are greatly mistaken who suppose that the tempest that is now
  raging in the South has been raised solely by the acts or omissions of
  the present Congress. The minds of the Southern people have been
  gradually prepared for this explosion by the events of the last
  fifteen years. Much and devotedly as they love the Union, many of them
  are now taught to believe that the peace of their own firesides, and
  the security of their families, cannot be preserved without separation
  from us. The crusade of the Abolitionists against their domestic peace
  and security commenced in 1835. General Jackson, in his annual message
  to Congress, in December of that year, speaks of it in the following
  emphatic language: ‘I must also invite your attention to the painful
  excitement produced in the South by attempts to circulate through the
  mails inflammatory appeals, addressed to the passions of the slaves,
  in prints and various sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate
  them to insurrection, and produce all the horrors of a servile war.‘

  From that period the agitation in the North against Southern slavery
  has been incessant, by means of the press, of State Legislatures, of
  State and County conventions, Abolition lectures, and every other
  method which fanatics and demagogues could devise. The time of
  Congress has been wasted in violent harangues on the subject of
  slavery. Inflammatory appeals have been sent forth from this central
  point throughout the country, the inevitable effect of which has been
  to create geographical parties, so much dreaded by the Father of his
  Country, and to estrange the northern and southern divisions of the
  Union from each other.

  Before the Wilmot proviso was interposed, the abolition of slavery in
  the District of Columbia had been the chief theme of agitation.
  Petitions for this purpose, by thousands, poured into Congress,
  session after session. The rights and the wishes of the owners of
  slaves within the District were boldly disregarded. Slavery was
  denounced as a national disgrace, which the laws of God and the laws
  of men ought to abolish, cost what it might. It mattered not to the
  fanatics that the abolition of slavery in the District would convert
  it into a citadel, in the midst of two slaveholding States, from which
  the Abolitionist could securely scatter arrows, firebrands and death
  all around. It mattered not with them that the abolition of slavery in
  the District would be a violation of the spirit of the Constitution
  and of the implied faith pledged to Maryland and Virginia, because the
  whole world knows that those States would never have ceded it to the
  Union, had they imagined it could ever be converted by Congress into a
  place from which their domestic peace and security might be assailed
  by fanatics and Abolitionists. Nay, the Abolitionists went even still
  further. They agitated for the purpose of abolishing slavery in the
  forts, arsenals and navy-yards which the Southern States had ceded to
  the Union, under the Constitution, for the protection and defence of
  the country.

  Thus stood the question when the Wilmot proviso was interposed, to add
  fuel to the flame, and to excite the Southern people to madness.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  It would be the extreme of dangerous infatuation to suppose that the
  Union was not then in serious danger. Had the Wilmot proviso become a
  law, or had slavery been abolished in the District of Columbia,
  nothing short of a special interposition of Divine Providence could
  have prevented the secession of most, if not all, the slaveholding

  It was from this great and glorious old Commonwealth, rightly
  denominated the ‘Keystone of the Arch,‘ that the first ray of light
  emanated to dispel the gloom. She stands now as the days-man, between
  the North and the South, and can lay her hand on either party, and
  say, thus far shalt thou go, and no farther. The wisdom, moderation
  and firmness of her people qualify her eminently to act as the just
  and equitable umpire between the extremes.

  It was the vote in our State House of Representatives, refusing to
  consider the instructing resolution in favor of the Wilmot Proviso,
  which first cheered the heart of every patriot in the land. This was
  speedily followed by a vote of the House of Representatives at
  Washington, nailing the Wilmot Proviso itself to the table. And here I
  ought not to forget the great meeting held in Philadelphia on the
  birthday of the Father of his Country, in favor of the Union, which
  gave a happy and irresistible impulse to public opinion throughout the
  State, and I may add throughout the Union.

  The honor of the South has been saved by the Compromise. The Wilmot
  Proviso is forever dead, and slavery will never be abolished in the
  District of Columbia whilst it continues to exist in Maryland. The
  receding storm in the South still continues to dash with violence, but
  it will gradually subside, should agitation cease in the North. All
  that is necessary for us to do ‘is to execute the Fugitive Slave Law,‘
  and to let the Southern people alone, suffering them to manage their
  own domestic concerns in their own way......

  2. I shall proceed to present to you some views upon the subject of
  the much misrepresented Fugitive Slave Law. It is now evident, from
  all the signs of the times, that this is destined to become the
  principal subject of agitation at the present session of Congress, and
  to take the place of the Wilmot Proviso. Its total repeal or its
  material modification will henceforward be the battle cry of the
  agitators of the North.

  And what is the character of this law? It was passed to carry into
  execution a plain, clear, and mandatory provision of the Constitution,
  requiring that fugitive slaves, who fly from service in one State to
  another, shall be delivered up to their masters. The provision is so
  explicit that he who runs may read. No commentary can present it in a
  stronger light than the plain words of the Constitution. It is a
  well-known historical fact, that without this provision, the
  Constitution could never have existed. How could this have been
  otherwise? Is it possible for a moment to believe that the slave
  States would have formed a union with the free States, if under it
  their slaves, by simply escaping across the boundary which separates
  them, would acquire all the rights of freemen? This would have been to
  offer an irresistible temptation to all the slaves of the South to
  precipitate themselves upon the North. The Federal Constitution,
  therefore, recognizes in the clearest and most emphatic terms, the
  property in slaves, and protects this property by prohibiting any
  State into which a slave might escape, from discharging him from
  slavery, and by requiring that he shall be delivered up to his master.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  The two principal objections urged against the Fugitive Slave law are,
  that it will promote kidnapping, and that it does not provide a trial
  by jury for the fugitive in the State to which he has escaped.

  The very same reasons may be urged, with equal force, against the act
  of 1793; and yet it existed for more than half a century without
  encountering any such objections.

  In regard to kidnapping, the fears of the agitators are altogether
  groundless. The law requires that the fugitive shall be taken before
  the judge or commissioner. They must there prove, to the satisfaction
  of the magistrate, the identity of the fugitive, that he is the
  master’s property, and has escaped from his service. Now, I ask, would
  a kidnapper ever undertake such a task? Would he suborn witnesses to
  commit perjury, and expose himself to detection before a judge or
  commissioner, and in the presence of the argus eyes of a
  non-slaveholding community, whose feelings will always be in favor of
  the slave? No, never. The kidnapper seizes his victim in the silence
  of the night, or in a remote and obscure place, and hurries him away.
  He does not expose himself to the public gaze. He will never bring the
  unfortunate object of his rapacity before a commissioner or a judge.
  Indeed, I have no recollection of having heard or read of a case in
  which a free man was kidnapped under the forms of law, during the
  whole period of more than half a century, since the act of 1793 was

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  The Union cannot long endure, if it be bound together only by paper
  bonds. It can be firmly cemented alone by the affections of the people
  of the different States for each other. Would to Heaven that the
  spirit of mutual forbearance and brotherly love which presided at its
  birth, could once more be restored to bless the land! Upon opening a
  volume, a few days since, my eye caught a resolution of a Convention
  of the counties of Maryland, assembled at Annapolis, in June, 1744, in
  consequence of the passage by the British Parliament of the Boston
  Port Bill, which provided for opening a subscription ‘in the several
  counties of the Province, for an immediate collection for the relief
  of the distressed inhabitants of Boston, now cruelly deprived of the
  means of procuring subsistence for themselves and families by the
  operation of the said act of blocking up their harbor.‘ Would that the
  spirit of fraternal affection which dictated this noble resolution,
  and which actuated all the conduct of our revolutionary fathers, might
  return to bless and reanimate the bosoms of their descendants! This
  would render our Union indissoluble. It would be the living soul
  infusing itself into the Constitution and inspiring it with
  irresistible energy.”

I select from the letters of Mr. Buchanan to his niece, written in the
years 1850, 1851, and 1852, some of those which indicate his constant
interest in her, and in their home circle of friends, amid the very busy
life which he led even when he was not in any official position:

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                                    BEDFORD SPRINGS, August 4, 1850.


  I received your letter yesterday and was rejoiced to hear from home,
  especially of Mr. ——’s visit to Miss Hetty, which, I know must have
  rendered her very happy. I hope he will do better than Mr. —— or Mr.

  I have found Bedford very pleasant, as I always do; but we have very
  few of the old set, and the new are not equal to them. I will not tell
  you how many inquiries have been made for you, lest this might make
  you vainer than you are, which to say the least is unnecessary.

  I intend, God willing, to leave here to-morrow morning. Six of us have
  taken an extra to Chambersburg: Mr. Wilmer and his daughter, Mrs. and
  Miss Bridges, Mr. Reigart and myself. I shall leave them at Loudon, as
  I proposed, and hope to be at home on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday
  next, I know not which.

  It was kind in you, and this I appreciate, to say a word to me about
  Mrs. ——. Should Miss Hetty marry Mr. ——, I shall bring this matter to
  a speedy conclusion one way or the other. I shall then want a
  housekeeper, as you would not be fit to superintend: and whose society
  would be so charming as that of Mrs. ——-?

  Remember me affectionately to Mrs. Dunham and Miss Hetty, and believe
  me to be yours “with the highest consideration.”

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                                        WHEATLAND, October 12, 1850.


  Mr. McIlvain of Philadelphia, with whom I had contracted to put up a
  furnace and kitchen range this week, has disappointed me, and I cannot
  leave home until this work shall be finished. He writes me that he
  will certainly commence on Monday morning; and if so, I hope to be in
  New York the beginning of the week after, say about the 22d instant.

  You ask what about your staying at Mrs. Bancroft’s. With this I should
  be very much pleased; but it seems from your letter that she did not
  ask you to do so. She wished “to see a great deal” of you when you
  came to New York, implying that you were not to stay with her all the
  time. If she has since given you an invitation, accept it.

  Could I have anticipated that you would not pass some time at Governor
  Marcy’s, I should have arranged this matter by writing to Mrs.
  Bancroft. It is now too late.

  I may probably pass a few days at the Astor House in New York; but I
  may have to see so many politicians, that I should have but little
  time to devote to you. I desire very much to reach New York before the
  departure of Mr. Slidell which will be on the 26th instant.

  I shall be very glad, if Clementina Pleasanton should accompany you
  home, though the leaves are beginning to change color and to fall.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .
  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .
  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  Professor Muhlenbergh, having been appointed a professor in
  Pennsylvania College (Gettysburg), has ceased to teach school, and
  James Henry left for Princeton on Thursday last.

  We have no local news, at least I know of none, that would interest
  you. I think we shall have very agreeable neighbors in the Gonders at
  Abbeville. Please to remember me very kindly to Mr. and Mrs. Robinson
  and give my love to Rose.

                                   Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                                        WHEATLAND, January 17, 1851.


  I have received yours of the 15th, and we are all happy to learn that
  you have reached Washington so pleasantly. I hope that your visit may
  prove agreeable; and that you may return home self-satisfied with all
  that may transpire during your absence. Keep your eyes about you in
  the gay scenes through which you are destined to pass, and take care
  to do nothing and say nothing of which you may have cause to repent.
  Above all be on your guard against flattery; and should you receive
  it, “let it pass into one ear gracefully and out at the other.” Many a
  clever girl has been spoiled for the useful purposes of life, and
  rendered unhappy by a winter’s gaiety in Washington. I know, however,
  that Mrs. Pleasanton will take good care of you and prevent you from
  running into any extravagance. Still it is necessary that, with the
  blessing of Providence, you should take care of yourself.

  I attended the festival in Philadelphia, on the occasion of the
  arrival of the steamer “City of Glasgow,” but did not see Lilly
  Macalester. Her father thinks of taking her to the World’s Fair in
  London. I saw Mrs. Plitt for a moment, who inquired kindly after you.

  We are moving on here in the old way, and I have no news of any
  interest to communicate to you. Eskridge was out here last night, and
  said they were all well in town. I met Mrs. Baker yesterday on the
  street with her inseparable companion. She was looking very well.

  I have not yet determined whether I shall visit Washington during the
  present session; but it is probable that I may, on or about the first
  of February.

  Give my love to Laura and Clementina, and remember me in the kindest
  terms to Mr. and Mrs. Pleasanton.

  Miss Hetty and James desire their love to you.

                                     Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                            WHEATLAND near LANCASTER, April 7, 1851.


  Supposing that you are now in Baltimore, I send you the enclosed
  letter received yesterday. It was inadvertently opened by me; but the
  moment I saw it was addressed to “My dear Harriet” it was closed. It
  may contain love or treason for aught I know.

  Eskridge was here yesterday; but he gave me no news, except that Mary
  and he were at a party at Mr. McElrath’s on Wednesday evening last.

  The place now begins to look beautiful, and we have concerts of the
  birds every morning. Still I fear it will appear dull to you after
  your winter’s gaiety. Lewis has gone, and we have a new coachman in
  the person of Mr. Francis Quinn, who with his lady occupy the
  gardener’s house. They have no children. Mr. C. Reigart will leave
  here on Saturday next for the World’s Fair and a trip to the
  continent. Your _ci-devant_ lover, Mr. ——, purposes to go likewise;
  but many persons think he will not get off on account of the expense.
  Mr. and Mrs. Gonder prove to be very agreeable neighbors. They are
  furnishing their house and fitting up their grounds with much taste
  and at considerable expense.

  With my kindest regards for Mr. and Mrs. White and the young ladies, I

                                     Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                            WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, Nov. 4, 1851.


  I have received your favor of the 29th ultimo, and would have answered
  it sooner had I not been absent at Lebanon on its arrival. You appear
  to have already got under full sail in Pittsburgh, and I hope your
  voyage throughout may be prosperous and happy. If you have found the
  place even blacker and dirtier than you anticipated, you will find the
  people warm-hearted, generous, kind and agreeable. But do not for a
  moment believe that any hearts will be broken, even if you should fail
  to pay all the visits to families where you are invited. I know,
  however, that you are not so romantic a girl as to take for gospel all
  the pretty things which may be said to you.

  My dinner to the bride and groom is to come off next Saturday, and I
  intend to call upon Mrs. Baker to be mistress of ceremonies. I had to
  send for her on Friday last to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Yost, whom I was
  compelled to leave, by an engagement to be present at a Jubilee at

  Eskridge was here on Sunday, but brought no budget of news. Indeed, I
  believe, there is nothing stirring which would interest you.

  I have a friend in Pittsburgh, such as few men ever had, by name Major
  David Lynch. He does not move in the first circle of fashionable
  society, but he exercises more influence than any other Democrat in
  that region. His devotion to me is unexampled. With one such man there
  would be no difficulty in Lancaster county. I know that Dr. Speer
  don’t like him; but when you visit Mrs. Collins, get Mr. McCandless to
  request him to pay you a visit and treat him with the utmost kindness.
  His wife is a lady of fine sense; but I presume you will not be asked
  to visit her. If you should, make it a point to go.

  Miss Hetty and myself are now alone, although I have many calls. For
  the last two days, and a great part of the night I have been
  constantly at work in answering the letters which have accumulated
  during my absence at New York, the Harrisburg Fair and Lebanon.

  Miss Hetty desires to be kindly remembered to you. Take care of
  yourself. Be prudent and discreet among strangers. I hope you will not
  remove the favorable impression you have made. Please to present my
  kindest regards to Dr. and Mrs. Speer, Miss Lydia and the family, and
  believe me to be,

                                      Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  P.S.—If I believed it necessary, I would advise you to be constant in
  your devotions to your God. He is a friend who will never desert you.
  Men are short-sighted and know not the consequences of their own
  actions. The most brilliant prospects are often overcast; and those
  who commence life under the fairest auspices, are often unfortunate.
  Ask wisdom and discretion from above. ——, and ——, and —— married
  unfortunately. I should like nothing better than to see you well
  settled in life; but never think of marrying any man unless his moral
  habits are good, and his business or his fortune will enable him to
  support you comfortably. So now my postscript is like a woman’s; the
  best the last.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                                     Saturday Morning, Nov. 8, 1851.


  Our excellent friend and neighbor, Mr. Gonder, died this morning, and
  this event has covered us with gloom. Of course there will be no
  dinner party to-day. We are all well and going on as usual.

                                    Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, Dec. 12, 1851.


  I have received your letter of the 6th instant, and am happy to learn
  you are still enjoying yourself at Pittsburgh. I have not any news of
  interest to communicate, unless it be that Mary and Kate Reynolds went
  to Philadelphia on Wednesday last, and James Henry is to be at home
  next week. At Wheatland we are all moving on in the old way. My
  correspondence is now so heavy as to occupy my whole time from early
  morning until late at night, except when visitors are with me.

  I still continue to be of the same opinion I was concerning the
  Presidency; _but this is for yourself alone_.

  My life is now one of great labor, but I am philosopher enough not to
  be very anxious.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  With my kindest regards for Mrs. Collins and Sis,

                              I remain yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                           WHEATLAND, near Lancaster, Feb. 24, 1852.


  On my return home from Richmond and Washington, on the day before
  yesterday, I received yours of the 9th instant. I am truly grateful
  that you have enjoyed your visit to Pittsburgh so much. I have no
  desire that you shall return home until it suits your own inclination.
  All I apprehend is that you may wear out your welcome. It will be
  impossible for me to visit Pittsburgh and escort you home.

  .        .         .         .         .         .         .         .

  Senator Gwin misinformed me as to the value of Mr. Baker’s office. The
  salary attached to it is $4000 per annum. He thinks that Mrs. Baker
  ought by all means to go to California. I have not seen Eskridge since
  my return.

  I took Miss —— to Washington and left her there, and am truly glad to
  be clear of her.

  Whilst in Washington I saw very little of the fashionable society. My
  time was almost constantly occupied with the politicians. Still I
  partook of a family dinner with the Pleasantons, who all desired to be
  kindly remembered to you. I never saw Clementina looking better than
  she does, and they all appear to be cheerful. Still when an allusion
  was made to her mother, she was overcome at the table and had to leave
  it. Mr. Pleasanton is evidently in very delicate health, though he
  goes to his office.

  I called to see Mrs. Walker, who inquired very kindly for you, and so
  did Col. King and others.

  The mass of letters before me is “prodigious,” and I only write to
  show that you are not forgotten.

                                     Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                          WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, March 13, 1852.


  I have received yours of the 9th instant. It was difficult to persuade
  you to visit Pittsburgh, but it seems to be still more difficult for
  you to leave it. I am, however, not disappointed in this particular,
  because I know the kindness and hospitality of the people. There is
  not a better or more true-hearted man alive than John Anderson, and
  his excellent wife well deserves such a husband. Make out your visit,
  which, it is evident, you propose to continue until the middle of
  April; but after your return I hope you will be content to remain at
  home during the summer. The birds are now singing around the house,
  and we are enjoying the luxury of a fine day in the opening spring.

  Miss Hetty has just informed me that Mrs. Lane gave birth to a son a
  few days ago, which they call John N. Lane. She heard it this morning
  at market from Eskridge, whom I have not seen since last Sunday week.
  I hope he will be here to-morrow.

  The new Court House is to be erected on Newton Lightner’s corner. Its
  location has caused much excitement in Lancaster. It enables your
  sweetheart, Mr. Evans, Mr. Lightner and Mr. —— to sell their property
  to advantage. We have no other news.

                                     Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  P.S.—Miss Harriet Lane to me; but Miss Harri_ette_ to the rest of man
  and womankind.

                             [TO MISS LANE.]

                                   SARATOGA SPRINGS, August 8, 1852.


  I arrived at this place on Thursday evening last, and now on Sunday
  morning before church am addressing you this note........ I find the
  Springs very agreeable and the company very pleasant, yet there does
  not appear to be so many of the “dashers” here as I have seen. The
  crowd is very great, in fact it is quite a mob of fashionable folks.
  Mrs. Plitt is very agreeable and quite popular. Mrs. Slidell is the
  most gay, brilliant and fashionable lady at the Springs; and as I am
  her admirer, and attached to her party, I am thus rendered a little
  more conspicuous in the _beau monde_ than I could desire. Mrs. Rush
  conducts herself very much like a lady, and is quite popular. She has
  invited me to accompany her to Alboni’s concert to-morrow evening, and
  I would rather go with her to any other place. Alboni is all the rage
  here. I have seen and conversed with her, and am rather impressed in
  her favor. She is short and thick, but has a very good, arch and
  benevolent countenance. I shall, however, soon get tired of this
  place, and do not expect to remain here longer than next Thursday. Not
  having heard from you, I should have felt somewhat uneasy, had Mary
  not written to Mrs. Plitt. I expect to be at home in two weeks from
  the time I started. Mrs. Plitt desires me to send her love to you,
  Mrs. Baker and Miss Hetty. Remember me affectionately to Mrs. Baker,
  Miss Hetty and James Henry, and believe me to be

                                     Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Numerous public letters written by Mr. Buchanan in these years, 1851 and
1852, find their appropriate place here. They exhibit fully all his
sentiments and opinions on the topics which then agitated the country.


                         WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, Dec. 24th, 1851.


  I am sorry I did not receive your letter sooner. I might then have
  given it the “old-fashioned Democratic” answer which you desire. But I
  am compelled to leave home immediately; and if I should not write at
  the present moment, it will be too late for the 8th of January
  Convention. I must therefore be brief.

  My public life is before the country, and it is my pride never to have
  evaded an important political question. The course of Democracy is
  always straight ahead, and public men who determine to pursue it never
  involve themselves in labyrinths, except when they turn to the right
  or the left from the plain forward path. Madison’s Report and
  Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions are the safest and surest guides to
  conduct a Democratic administration of the Federal Government. It is
  the true mission of Democracy to resist centralism and the absorption
  of unconstitutional powers by the President and Congress. The
  sovereignty of the States and a devotion to their reserved rights can
  alone preserve and perpetuate our happy system of Government. The
  exercise of doubtful and constructive powers on the part of Congress
  has produced all the dangerous and exciting questions which have
  imperilled the Union. The Federal Government, even confined within its
  strict constitutional limits, must necessarily acquire more and more
  influence through the increased and increasing expenditure of public
  money, and hence the greater necessity for public economy and watchful
  vigilance. Our Constitution, when it proceeded from the hands of its
  framers, was a simple system; and the more free from complexity it
  remains, the more powerfully, satisfactorily and beneficially will it
  operate within its legitimate sphere.

  It is centralization alone which has prevented the French people from
  establishing a permanent republican government, and entailed upon them
  so many misfortunes. Had the provinces of France been converted into
  separate territorial provinces, like our State governments, Paris
  would then no longer have been France, and a revolution at the capital
  would not have destroyed the Federative Republic.

  Had the principles I have enumerated been observed by the Federal
  Government and by the people of the several States, we should have
  avoided the alarming questions which have arisen out of the
  institution of domestic slavery. The people of each State would then,
  to employ a homely but expressive phrase, have attended to their own
  business and not have interfered in the domestic concerns of their
  sister States. But on this important subject I have so fully presented
  my views in the enclosed letter to the great meeting in Philadelphia,
  held in November, 1850, that it would be useless to repeat them, even
  if time would permit.

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Footnote 4:

  From the _Mississippian_ of January 9, 1852.


                          WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, April 10, 1851.


  I have received your kind letter of the 2d inst., with the resolutions
  adopted by the Central Southern Rights Association of Virginia,
  inviting me to address the Association at such time as may suit my
  convenience, and to counsel with them “in regard to the best means to
  be adopted in the present alarming crisis, for the maintenance of the
  Constitution and the Union of these States in their original purity.”

  I should esteem it both a high honor and a great privilege to comply
  with this request, and therefore regret to say, that engagements,
  which I need not specify, render it impossible for me to visit
  Richmond during the present, or probably the next month.

  The Association do me no more than justice, when attributing to me a
  strong desire “for the maintenance of the Constitution, and the Union
  of the States in their original purity.”

  Whilst few men in this country would venture to avow a different
  sentiment, yet the question still remains, by what means can this
  all-important purpose be accomplished? I feel no hesitation in
  answering, by returning to the old Virginia platform of State rights,
  prescribed by the resolutions of 1798, and Mr. Madison’s report. The
  powers conferred by the Constitution upon the General Government, must
  be construed strictly, and Congress must abstain from the exercise of
  all doubtful powers. But it is said these are mere unmeaning
  abstractions—and so they are, unless honestly carried into practice.
  Like the Christian faith, however, when it is genuine, good results
  will inevitably flow from a sincere belief in such a strict
  construction of the Constitution.

  Were this old republican principle adopted in practice, we should no
  longer witness unwarrantable and dangerous attempts in Congress to
  interfere with the institution of domestic slavery, which belongs
  exclusively to the States where it exists—there would be no efforts to
  establish high protective tariffs—the public money would not be
  squandered upon a general system of internal improvements—general in
  name, but particular in its very nature, and corrupting in its
  tendency, both to the Government and to the people; and we would
  retrench our present extravagant expenditure, pay our national debt,
  and return to the practice of a wise economy, so essential to public
  and private prosperity. Were I permitted to address your Association,
  these are the counsels I should give, and some of the topics I should
  discuss, as the best means “for the maintenance both of the
  Constitution and the Union of the States, in their original purity,”
  and for the perpetuation of our great and glorious confederacy.

  With sentiments of high regard, I remain yours, very respectfully,

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.


Footnote 5:

    From the _Lancaster Intelligencer_, February 24, 1852.

                                        RICHMOND, February 12, 1852.


  On my arrival in this city last evening I received your very kind
  letter, welcoming me to the metropolis of the Old Dominion and
  tendering me the honor of a public dinner. I regret—deeply regret—that
  my visit to Richmond will necessarily be so brief that I cannot enjoy
  the pleasure and the privilege of meeting you all at the festive
  board. Intending merely to pass a day with my valued friend, Judge
  Mason, my previous arrangements are of such a character that I must
  leave here to-morrow, or, at the latest, on Saturday morning.

  But whilst I cannot accept the dinner, I shall ever esteem the
  invitation from so many of Virginia’s most distinguished and estimable
  sons as one of the proudest honors of my life. Your ancient and
  renowned commonwealth has ever been the peculiar guardian of State
  rights and the firm supporter of constitutional liberty, of law, and
  of order. When, therefore, she endorses with her approbation any of my
  poor efforts to serve the country, her commendation is a sure
  guarantee that these have been devoted to a righteous cause.

  You are pleased to refer in favorable terms to my recent conduct “at
  home in defence of the Federal Constitution and laws.” This was an
  easy and agreeable task, because the people of Pennsylvania have ever
  been as loyal and faithful to the Constitution, the Union, the rights
  of the sovereign States of which it is composed, as the people of the
  ancient Dominion themselves. To have pursued a different course in my
  native State would therefore, have been to resist the strong current
  of enlightened public opinion.

  I purposely refrain from discussing the original merit of the
  Compromise, because I consider it, to employ the expressive language
  of the day, as a “finality”—a fixed fact—a most important enactment of
  law, the agitation or disturbance of which could do no possible good,
  but might produce much positive evil. Our noble vessel of State,
  freighted with the hope of mankind, both for the present and future
  generations, has passed through the most dangerous breakers which she
  has ever encountered, and has triumphantly ridden out the storm. Both
  those who supported the measures of the Compromise as just and
  necessary, and those who, regarding them in a different light, yet
  acquiesce in them for the sake of the Union, have arrived at the same
  conclusion—that it must and shall be executed. They have thus, for
  every practical purpose, adopted the same platform, and have resolved
  to sustain it against the common enemy.—Why, then, should they
  wrangle, and divide and waste their energies, not respecting the main
  question, which has already been definitely settled, but in regard to
  the process which has brought them, though from different directions,
  to the same conclusion? Above all, why should the strength of the
  Democratic party of the country be impaired and its ascendency be
  jeoparded for any such cause? We who believe that the triumph of
  Democratic principles is essential not only to the prosperity of the
  Union, but even to the preservation of the Constitution, ought
  reciprocally to forget, and, if need be, to forgive the past, and
  cordially unite with our political brethren in sustaining for the
  future the good old cause of Democracy. It must be a source of deep
  and lasting pleasure to every patriotic heart that our beloved country
  has so happily passed through the late trying and dangerous crisis.
  The volcano has been extinguished, I trust, forever; and the man who
  would apply a firebrand, at the present moment, to the combustible
  materials which still remain, may produce an eruption to overwhelm
  both the Constitution and the Union.

  With sentiments of high and grateful respect,

                                       I remain your fellow citizen,
                                       JAMES BUCHANAN.


                        WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, February 3, 1852.


  In returning home through your city on Saturday last, I had the
  unexpected honor of receiving your kind invitation to partake of a
  public dinner at such time as might best suit my own convenience. For
  this distinguished and valuable token of your regard, please to accept
  my most grateful acknowledgments; and, whilst regretting that
  circumstances, which it would be too tedious to explain, will deprive
  me of the pleasure of meeting you at the festive board, you may rest
  assured that I shall ever highly prize the favorable opinion you
  express of my poor public services.

  To the city of Baltimore I have ever been attached by strong ties. In
  early life I had selected it as the place where to practice my
  profession; and nothing prevented me from carrying this purpose into
  effect but my invincible reluctance, at the last moment, to leave my
  native State. The feeling which prompted me in 1814, during the last
  war with Great Britain, to march as a private to Baltimore, a
  circumstance to which you kindly allude, resulted from a patriotism so
  universal throughout Pennsylvania, that the honor which may fall to
  the lot of any one of the thousands of my fellow-citizens who
  volunteered their services on that trying occasion, scarcely deserves
  to be mentioned.

  If I rightly read “the signs of the times,” there has seldom been a
  period when the Democratic party of the country, to which you and I
  are warmly attached, was in greater danger of suffering a defeat than
  at the present moment. In order to avert this catastrophe, we must
  mutually forget and forgive past dissensions, suffer “bygones to be
  bygones,” and commence a new career, keeping constantly in view the
  ancient and long established landmarks of the party. Most, if not all
  the great questions of policy which formerly divided us from our
  political opponents, have been settled in our favor. No person, at
  this day, thinks of re-establishing another national bank, or
  repealing the Independent Treasury, or distributing the proceeds of
  the public lands among the several States, or abolishing the veto
  power. On these great and important questions, the Whigs, after a long
  and violent struggle, have yielded; and, for the present, at least,
  would seem to stand upon the Democratic platform. The compromise
  measures are now a “finality”—those who opposed them honestly and
  powerfully, and who still believe them to be wrong, having
  patriotically determined to acquiesce in them for the sake of the
  Union, provided they shall be faithfully carried into execution.

  On what issues, then, can we go before the country and confidently
  calculate upon the support of the American people at the approaching
  Presidential election? I answer unhesitatingly that we must fall back,
  as you suggest, upon those fundamental and time-honored principles
  which have divided us from our political opponents since the
  beginning, and which from the very nature of the Federal Constitution,
  must continue to divide us from them until the end. We must inscribe
  upon our banners a sacred regard for the reserved rights of the
  States—a strict construction of the Constitution—a denial to Congress
  of all powers not clearly granted by that instrument, and a rigid
  economy in public expenditures.

  These expenditures have now reached the enormous sum of fifty millions
  of dollars per annum, and, unless arrested in their advance by the
  strong arm of the Democracy of the country, may, in the course of a
  few years, reach one hundred millions. The appropriation of money to
  accomplish great national objects sanctioned by the Constitution,
  ought to be on a scale commensurate with our power and resources as a
  nation—but its expenditure ought to be conducted under the guidance of
  enlightened economy and strict responsibility. I am convinced that our
  expenses might be considerably reduced below the present standard, not
  only without detriment, but with positive advantage both to the
  government and the people.

  An excessive and lavish expenditure of public money, though in itself
  highly pernicious, is as nothing when compared with the disastrous
  influence it may exert upon the character of our free institutions. A
  strong tendency towards extravagance is the great political evil of
  the present day; and this ought to be firmly resisted. Congress is now
  incessantly importuned from every quarter to make appropriations for
  all sorts of projects. Money, money from the National Treasury is
  constantly demanded to enrich contractors, speculators, and agents;
  and these projects are gilded over with every allurement which can be
  imparted to them by ingenuity and talent. Claims which had been
  condemned by former decisions and had become rusty with age have been
  again revived, and have been paid, principal and interest. Indeed
  there seems to be one general rush to obtain money from the Treasury
  on any and every pretence.

  What will be the inevitable consequence of such lavish expenditures?
  Are they not calculated to disturb the nicely adjusted balance between
  the Federal and State Governments, upon the preservation of which
  depend the harmony and efficiency of our system? Greedy expectants
  from the Federal Treasury will regard with indifference, if not with
  contempt, the governments of the several States. The doctrine of State
  rights will be laughed to scorn by such individuals, as an obsolete
  abstraction unworthy of the enlightened spirit of the age. The
  corrupting power of money will be felt throughout the length and
  breadth of this land; and the Democracy, led on by the hero and sage
  of the Hermitage, will have in vain put down the Bank of the United
  States, if the same fatal influence for which it was condemned, shall
  be exerted and fostered by means drawn from the Public Treasury.

  To be liberal with their own money but sparing of that of the Republic
  was the glory of distinguished public servants among the ancient
  Romans. When this maxim was reversed, and the public money was
  employed by artful and ambitious demagogues to secure their own
  aggrandizement, genuine liberty soon expired. It is true that the
  forms of the Republic continued for many years; but the animating and
  inspiring soul had fled forever. I entertain no serious apprehensions
  that we shall ever reach this point, yet we may still profit by their

  With sentiments of the highest respect, I remain your friend and

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

To these should be added an address made at a festival in Philadelphia
on the 11th of January, 1851, on the establishment of a line of
steamships between that city and Liverpool. The account is taken from
the journals of the time.

  After Governor Johnston had concluded, Morton McMichael came forward,
  and said that he had been instructed by the Committee of Arrangements
  to propose the health of an eminent Pennsylvanian who was then
  present—one who had represented his State in the National legislative
  councils, and had occupied a chief place in the administration of the
  National Government, and in regard to whom, however political
  differences might exist, all agreed that his high talents, his
  unsullied integrity, and his distinguished public services had justly
  placed him in the foremost rank, not only of Pennsylvanians, but of
  all Americans. He therefore gave

  The health of the Hon. James Buchanan.

  When Mr. Buchanan rose to reply, there was a whirlwind of cheers and
  applause. In the midst of it the band struck up a favorite and
  complimentary air, at the end of which the cheering was renewed, and
  several minutes elapsed before he could be heard.

  Mr. Buchanan, after making his acknowledgments to the company for the
  kind manner in which he had been received, proceeded to speak as

  What a spectacle does this meeting present! It must be a source of
  pride and gratification to every true-hearted Pennsylvanian. Here are
  assembled the executive and legislative authorities of the
  commonwealth, several members from the State to the present Congress,
  as well as those elected to the next, and the Board of Canal
  Commissioners, enjoying the magnificent hospitality of the city and
  the incorporated districts adjacent—all of which, in fact, constitute
  but one great city of Philadelphia.

  What important event in the history of Philadelphia is this meeting
  intended to celebrate? Not a victory achieved by our arms over a
  foreign foe. Not the advent amongst us of a great military captain
  fresh from the bloody fields of his glory; but the arrival here of a
  peaceful commercial steamer from the other side of the Atlantic. This
  welcome stranger is destined, as we all trust, to be the harbinger of
  a rapidly increasing foreign trade between our own city and the great
  commercial city of Liverpool. All hail to Captain Matthews and his
  gallant crew! Peace, as well as war, has its triumphs; and these,
  although they may not be so brilliant, are far more enduring and
  useful to mankind.

  The establishment of a regular line of steamers between these two
  ports will prove of vast importance both to the city of Philadelphia
  and the State at large. And here, let me observe, that the interests
  of the city and the State are identical—inseparable. Like man and
  wife, when a well-assorted couple, they are mutually dependent. The
  welfare and prosperity of the one are the welfare and prosperity of
  the other. “Those whom Heaven has joined together, let not man put
  asunder.” If any jealousies, founded or unfounded, have heretofore
  existed between them, let them be banished from this day forward and
  forever. Let them be in the “deep bosom of the ocean buried.”

  The great Central Railroad will furnish the means of frequent and
  rapid intercommunication between the city and the State. In the course
  of another year, Philadelphia will be brought within twelve or
  fourteen hours of our Great Iron City of the West—a city of as much
  energy and enterprise for the number of inhabitants, as any on the
  face of the earth; and, I might add, of as warm and generous
  hospitality. I invite you all, in the name of the people of the
  interior, to visit us oftener than you have done heretofore. You shall
  receive a hearty welcome. Let us become better acquainted, and we
  shall esteem each other more.

  But will this great undertaking to extend the foreign commerce of
  Philadelphia with Europe, by means of regular lines of steamers, prove
  successful? To doubt this is to doubt whether the capital,
  intelligence, and perseverance, which have assured signal success to
  Philadelphia in every other industrial pursuit, shall fail when
  applied to steam navigation on the ocean. But after to-night there can
  be “no such word as fail” in our vocabulary. We have put our hand to
  the plough, and we must go ahead. We dare not, because we cannot, look
  back without disgrace; whilst success in foreign commerce will be the
  capsheaf—the crowning glory of Philadelphia.

  The distance of Philadelphia from the ocean, and the consequent length
  of river navigation, have hitherto constituted an obstacle to her
  success in foreign trade. Thanks to the genius of Fulton, this
  obstacle has been removed, and the noble Delaware, for every purpose
  of foreign commerce, is as if it were an arm of the sea. We learn from
  the highest authority, that of the pioneer who was an officer in one
  of the first steamers which ever crossed the Atlantic, and who has
  successfully completed his ninety-ninth voyage, that the difference in
  time from Liverpool between New York and Philadelphia is only about
  twenty hours. This is comparatively of no importance, and cannot have
  the slightest effect on the success of the enterprise.

  Fulton was a native citizen of Pennsylvania. He was born in the county
  where I reside. And shall not the metropolis of the native State of
  that extraordinary man who, first of the human race, successfully
  applied steam power to navigation, enjoy the benefits of this
  momentous discovery which has changed the whole face of the civilized
  world? Philadelphia, in her future career, will gloriously answer this

  Philadelphia enjoys many advantages for the successful pursuit of
  foreign commerce. Her population now exceeds 400,000; and it is a
  population of which we may be justly proud. It is of no mushroom
  growth; but has advanced steadily onward. Her immense capital is the
  result of long years of successful industry and enterprise. Strength
  and durability characterize all her undertakings. She has already
  achieved distinguished success in manufactures, in the mechanic arts,
  in domestic commerce, and in every other industrial pursuit, and in
  the natural progress of events, she has now determined to devote her
  energies to foreign commerce.

  And where is there a city in the world, whose ship-yards produce finer
  vessels? Whether for beauty of model, rapidity of sailing, or
  durability, Philadelphia built vessels have long enjoyed the highest
  character. Long as I have been in the public councils, I have never
  known a vessel of war built in this city, not fully equal to any of
  her class afloat on the waters of the world. A few weeks since I had
  the pleasure of examining the steamer Susquehanna, and I venture to
  say, that a nobler vessel can nowhere be found. She will bear the
  stars and the stripes triumphantly amid the battle and the breeze. May
  we not hope that Philadelphia steamers will, ere long, be found
  bearing her trade and her name on every sea, and into every great
  commercial port on the face of this earth?

  The vast resources of the State which will be poured into the lap of
  Philadelphia, will furnish the materials of an extensive foreign
  commerce. And here, in the presence of this domestic family
  Pennsylvania circle, may we not indulge in a little self-gratulation,
  and may we not be pardoned, if nobody else will praise us, for
  praising ourselves. We have every reason to be proud of our State; and
  perhaps we ought to cherish a little more State pride than we possess.
  This, when not carried to excess, when it scorns to depreciate a
  rival, is a noble and useful principle of action. It is the parent of
  generous emulation in the pursuit of all that is excellent, all that
  is calculated to adorn and bless mankind. It enkindles the desire in
  us to stand as high as the highest among our sister States, in the
  councils of our country, in the pursuit of agriculture and
  manufactures and every useful art. This honorable feeling of State
  pride, particularly when the Pennsylvanian is abroad, out of his
  native land, will make his heart swell with exultation, if he finds
  that Philadelphia has become a great commercial city, her flag waving
  over every sea, her steamers to be seen in every port—an elevated
  position in which Philadelphia, if she but wills it, can undoubtedly
  be placed.

  The great and good founder of our State, whose precept and whose
  practice was “peace on earth, and good will to man,” immediately after
  he had obtained the royal charter, in the spirit of prophetic
  enthusiasm declared, “God will bless, and make it the seed of a
  nation. I shall have a tender care of the government that it be well
  laid at first.”

  How gloriously this prediction has been verified! God has blessed it,
  and the seed which the founder sowed has borne the richest fruit. We
  are indeed a nation, confederated with thirty other sovereign nations
  or States by the most sacred political instrument in the annals of
  mankind, called the Constitution of the United States. Besides, we are
  truly the keystone of this vast confederacy, and our character and
  position eminently qualify us to act as a mediator between opposing
  extremes. Placed in the centre, between the North and the South, with
  a population distinguished for patriotism and steady good sense, and a
  devoted love to the Union, we stand as the days man, between the
  extremes, and can declare with the voice of power to both, hitherto
  shalt thou go, and no further. May this Union endure forever, the
  source of innumerable blessings to those who live under its beneficent
  sway, and the star of hope to millions of down-trodden men throughout
  the world!

  Bigotry has never sacrificed its victims at the shrine of intolerance
  in this our favored State. When they were burning witches in
  Massachusetts, honestly believing at the time they were doing God’s
  service, William Penn, in 1684, presided at the trial of a witch.
  Under his direction, the verdict was: “The prisoner is guilty of the
  common fame of being a witch; but not guilty as she stands indicted.”
  And “in Penn’s domain, from that day to this,” says the gifted
  historian, “neither demon nor hag ever rode through the air on goat or

  From the first settlement of the province until the present moment,
  the freedom of conscience established by the founder, has been
  perfect. Religion has always been a question exclusively between man
  and his Creator, and every human being has been free to worship his
  Maker according to the dictates of his own conscience.

  Bigotry, madly assuming to itself an attribute belonging to the
  Almighty, has never attempted to punish any one of his creatures for
  not adapting his belief to its own standard of faith. We have great
  cause to be proud of the early history of Pennsylvania.

  Pennsylvania, more than any other State of the Union, has been settled
  by emigrants from all the European nations. Our population now exceeds
  two millions and a quarter; but we cannot say that it is composed of
  the pure Anglo-Saxon race. The English, the Germans, the Scotch Irish,
  the Irish, the Welsh, the French, and emigrants from every other
  European country have all intermingled upon our happy soil. We are
  truly a mixed race. And is not this a cause for self-gratulation?
  Providence, as if to designate his will that families and nations
  should cultivate extended intercourse with each other, has decreed
  that intermarriage in the same family shall eventually produce a
  miserable and puny race, both in body and in mind; whilst
  intermarriages among entire strangers have been signally blessed. May
  it then not be probable that the intermixture of the natives of the
  different nations is calculated to produce a race superior to any one
  of the elements of which it is composed. Let us hope that we possess
  the good qualities of all, without a large share of the evil qualities
  of either. Certain it is that in Pennsylvania we can boast of a
  population which for energy, for patient industry, and for strict
  morality, are unsurpassed by the people of any other country.

  And what is her condition at present? Heaven has blessed us with a
  climate which, notwithstanding its variations, is equal to almost any
  other on the face of the earth, and a soil capable of furnishing all
  the agricultural products of the temperate zone. And how have we
  improved these advantages? In agriculture we have excelled. I have
  myself been over a good portion of the best cultivated parts of the
  world; but never anywhere, in any country, have I witnessed such
  evidences of real substantial comfort and prosperity, such farm-houses
  and barns, as are to be found in Pennsylvania. It is true we cannot
  boast of baronial castles, and of extensive parks and pleasure
  grounds, and of all the other appendages of wealth and aristocracy
  which beautify and adorn the scenery of other countries. These can
  only exist in countries where the soil is monopolized by wealthy
  proprietors and where the farms are consequently occupied by a
  dependent tenantry. Thank Heaven! in this country, every man of
  industry and economy, with the blessings of Providence upon his honest
  labor, can acquire a freehold for himself, and sit under his own vine
  and his own fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

  Then in regard to our mineral wealth. We have vast masses of coal and
  iron scattered with a profuse hand under the surface of our soil.
  These are far more valuable than the golden sands and golden ore of
  California. The patient labor necessary to extract these treasures
  from the earth, and bring them to market, strengthens the sinews of
  the laborer, makes him self-reliant and dependent upon his own
  exertions, infuses courage into the heart, and produces a race capable
  of maintaining their liberties at home and of defending their country
  against any and every foreign foe. Look at your neighboring town of
  Richmond. There three millions of tons of coal are annually brought to
  market, and the domestic tonnage employed for sending it abroad
  exceeds the whole foreign tonnage of the city of New York. All these
  vast productions of our agriculture and our mines are the natural
  aliments of foreign commerce for the city of Philadelphia.

  But this is not all. Our Central Railroad will soon be completed; and
  when this is finished, it will furnish the avenue by which the
  productions of the great West will seek a market in Philadelphia. It
  will connect with a chain of numerous other railroads, penetrating the
  vast valley of the Mississippi in different directions, which will
  bring the productions of that extended region to seek a market in

  And with these unexampled materials for foreign commerce, is it
  possible that the city of Philadelphia will hold back? Will she not
  employ her capital in a vigorous effort to turn to her own advantage
  all these elements of wealth which Providence has placed within her
  reach? What is the smallest share of foreign commerce to which she is
  legitimately entitled? It is at least to import into Philadelphia all
  the foreign goods necessary for the supply of Pennsylvania and the far
  West, which seek her markets for their productions. She is bound, by
  every principle of interest and duty, to bring to her own wharves this
  amount of foreign trade, and never as a Pennsylvanian shall I rest
  satisfied until she shall have attained this measure of success. Shall
  she then tamely look on and suffer her great rival city, of which
  every American ought to be proud, to monopolize the profit and
  advantages to which she is justly and fairly entitled? Shall New York
  continue to be the importing city for Philadelphia? Shall she any
  longer be taunted with the imputation that so far as foreign trade is
  concerned, she is a mere provincial and dependent city? She can, if
  she but energetically wills it, change this course of trade so
  disadvantageous to her character and her interests; and the
  proceedings of this meeting afford abundant assurances that from this
  day forth she is destined to enter upon a new and glorious career. She
  must be prepared to encounter and to overcome serious competition. She
  must therefore nerve her arm for the struggle. The struggle is worthy
  of her most determined efforts.

                              CHAPTER II.


In arraying themselves for the Presidential election of 1852, the
Democratic and the Whig parties might have had an equal or a nearly
equal reason to look for success, if they had been equally consistent
with their professed principles on the subject of the compromise
measures of 1850. But while the Democrats, both by their “platform” and
their candidate, gave the people of the country reason to believe that
the great national settlement of 1850 was to be adhered to, the Whigs,
although promising as much by their “platform,” did not, in the person
of their candidate and his apparent political connections, afford the
same grounds of confidence. The nominating convention of the Democrats
was the first to be held. It assembled at Baltimore on the 1st of June,
1852. Mr. Buchanan was one of the principal candidates for the
nomination, but it soon became apparent that neither he, General Cass,
Mr. Douglas, Mr. Dickinson, Governor Marcy, or any other of the more
prominent leaders of the party would receive it. The candidate finally
agreed upon was General Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, a younger man
than most of the others. He had been a Senator in Congress from that
State for five years preceding 1842, and had served with spirit in the
Mexican war as a Brigadier General of Volunteers. As a candidate for the
Presidency, he represented in the fullest and most unqualified manner
the resolution adopted by the convention as a part of its “platform,”
and which pledged him and his party to “resist all attempts at renewing
in Congress, or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question, under
whatever shape or color the attempt may be made.”

On the other hand, the Whig convention, which assembled at Baltimore on
the 16th of June, nominated General Winfield Scott, to the exclusion of
Mr. Webster and President Fillmore, after fifty-two ballotings; and
although the resolutions, with a strength equal to that of the
Democratic “platform,” affirmed the binding character of the compromise
measures of 1850, and opposed all further agitation of the questions
thus settled, as dangerous to the peace of the country, seventy
delegates from free States, who had voted steadily for General Scott as
the candidate, recorded their votes against this resolution, and many
Whig papers in the North refused to be bound by it, and treated it with
utter contumely. The result was the election of General Pierce as
President, and William R. King of Alabama as Vice President, by the
almost unprecedented majority of one hundred and five electoral votes
more than was necessary for a choice. General Scott obtained the
electoral votes of but four States, Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky and
Tennessee; forty-two in all.

The reader will be interested to learn from the following private
correspondence how Mr. Buchanan felt and acted before and after the
nomination of General Pierce, and also how one of his prominent rivals,
Governor Marcy, felt and acted towards him and others. It is refreshing
to look back to the good nature and cool philosophy which could be
exhibited by such men in regard to the great stake of the Presidency:

                    [GOVERNOR MARCY TO MR. BUCHANAN.]

                                               ALBANY, May 31, 1852.


  When your very kind letter of the 19th inst. was received, my time was
  much taken up by several transient persons passing through this place
  to Baltimore for a certain grave purpose. I delayed a reply to it
  until this annoyance should be over, but before that happened, I was
  unexpectedly called to New York, and have but just returned. This is
  my excuse for a seeming neglect.

  I assure you I rejoice as much as you do at the removal of all
  obstructions, real or imaginary, to the resumption of our free and
  friendly correspondence. I needed not your assurance to satisfy me
  that your course towards me had been fair and liberal, and you do me
  but justice in believing mine has been the same toward you.

  Perhaps there has been a single departure from it, which in candor I
  am bound to confess, and hope to be able to avoid.

  On being called to New York a few days ago, when the delegates were
  passing on to Baltimore, Mrs. Marcy proposed to accompany me, but as
  she is a zealous advocate of yours, and on that subject has a
  propagandist’s spirit, I did not wish to have her associated too
  intimately with these delegates, particularly such of them as had
  favorable inclinations towards me. I suggested, therefore, that it
  would be best for her to delay for a short time her visit.

  This little battery (excuse a military figure of speech) has kept up a
  brisk fire for you. To this I have not made much objection, but I did
  not wish to do anything myself to put it in a position where it would
  bear particularly on my friends in this critical moment of the
  contest. I submit to your candor to decide whether, if you had a
  wife—would that you had one—a glib-tongued wife, who was ever pressing
  my pretensions over your own, would you not have manœuvered a
  little to restrict her operations, under reversed, but otherwise
  similar circumstances? If you declare against my course in this
  instance, I shall think you err, and ascribe your error to the fact
  that for want of experience you do not know the potency of such an
  adversary. An enemy in the camp is more dangerous than one outside of

  While in New York, I conversed with many delegates from various
  sections of the country and of all kinds of preferences. From what I
  heard, I became more and more apprehensive of serious difficulties at
  Baltimore. If it be mere preferences the convention will have to
  contend with, it might get on without much trouble, but I thought I
  discovered a strong feeling of antagonism in too many of the
  delegates, particularly towards those who stand in a hopeful position.
  Still, I cherish a strong hope of an auspicious result to the party.

  If you, who have such fair prospects, have schooled yourself into a
  sort of philosophical indifference as to the result, you can readily
  conceive how complaisantly I, who scarcely have a place on the list of
  those that hope they shall receive it, look upon the result. Those who
  never climb up cannot reasonably dread to break their limbs by a fall.

  You, too, have got into a “Scott correspondence.” I have read your
  letter with pleasure and satisfaction; it goes the whole figure as it
  ought to at this time. I had no difficulty in my response except in
  regard to the exercise of the veto power. I cannot but think that is a
  promise “not fit to be made,” but any objection to meeting it directly
  would have been construed to mean more than was intended, and I
  responded to that as I did to the other interrogatories.

  Very much to my surprise, but not so much to my regret, I find in the
  _Journal of Commerce_ of Saturday, two of my private letters, written
  last summer to a leading barn-burner, Hon. John Fine, formerly a M. C.
  from Governor Wright’s county. They will serve to vindicate my course
  and repel the charge much urged against me by Mr. Dickinson and a few
  others, of having compromised my position on the adjustment measure in
  order to conciliate that section of the party.

  The course I pursued towards them, and from which I have never
  swerved, but have succeeded in carrying out, is clearly disclosed in
  these letters. I had no agency in bringing them out. I have not seen
  them since they were written, and did not know that they were to be

  Mr. Dickinson and a few of his friends are very decided—not to say
  bitter—against me, and scarcely less so against all the other
  candidates except General Cass. They are professedly for him. Mr. D.’s
  friends—it would be uncharitable to say he himself has any such
  thoughts—hope to bring about his nomination, and are shaping things so
  far as they can for such a result. They believe that his and their
  advocacy of General Cass, and sturdy opposition to all others, will
  give him nearly all of the General’s friends in the event he has to be
  abandoned, an event which will not deeply grieve them; and they
  flatter themselves that the great favor with which Mr. D. is regarded
  in the South will render it easy to detach from you and transfer to
  him most of your supporters in that quarter. If you and General Cass
  are killed off, and he inherits the estate of both, his fortune will
  certainly be made. I do not comment upon the practicability of this
  theory. Well, if he is nominated, we must turn in and do what we can
  for him. Here, where he has been so bitter against the C——rs and
  against me, because they are willing to give me their support—where he
  denounces them as not belonging to the Democratic party—we shall have
  a hard task on our hands, and can hardly hope to give him the vote of
  the State; it will therefore be the more necessary that you and your
  friends should secure for him that of Pennsylvania. I know it is not
  kind to speculate on the chances of another rising upon your downfall,
  and therefore I will dismiss the subject; nor is it friendly to
  trouble you with this long letter at a critical conjuncture, when you
  want your time to cheer and guide your friends at Baltimore.

  My epistle would be defective if it did not contain Mrs. M.’s express
  desire to be kindly remembered to you.

                                                Yours truly,
                                                        W. L. MARCY.

                           [MARCY TO BUCHANAN.]

                                               ALBANY, June 6, 1852.


  In my most hopeful mood, if it can be truly said I have been in such a
  state of mind, I did not look to anything but a remote contingent
  remainder. I cannot, therefore, say that for myself I feel any
  disappointment at the result of the convention.

  None of its proceedings—not even some of the latter
  ballottings—changed my settled convictions. There was a time when
  reflecting sober-minded men felt more than I expected they would feel
  at the prospect of success of Young America. Some of the agents and
  agencies at work in that direction caused considerable alarm.

  I hope the course of my few friends in the convention has given no
  dissatisfaction. If they had earlier quitted me, they could not have
  gone together for any one, though some would have gone for you. I fear
  more than half would have acted with the friends of Cass and Douglas.
  They were about equally divided between hunkers and barn-burners, and
  it seems to me that no course they could have taken could have changed
  the result.

  About the time the ballotting commenced, I met with a passage in the
  last number of the _Edinburgh Review_ which struck me as ominous of
  your fate, and as it is as good consolation as I can offer you, I will
  extract it, though it is rather long:

  “Men (says Chamfort, a French writer) are like the fiends of
  Milton—they must make themselves dwarfs before they can enter into the
  Pandemonium of political life in a Republic. (Perhaps, if nature has
  made them dwarfs, it is the same thing.) Even in America it is
  notorious that men of this stamp (men of pre-eminent genius and
  abilities) are all but systematically excluded from high public
  office, and at best she recognizes only a single Webster among a
  wilderness of Jacksons and Harrisons, Taylors and Scotts.”

  “And they must learn per force, painful as the truth must be, that
  commanding talents, especially of their order, are not really in
  request or needed for the ordinary work of democracy or autocracy.” I
  protest against the error in classing Jackson, yet there is in this
  extract some consolation for yourself and General Cass.

  It does not suit my case, and moreover I am not in a condition to
  require consolation either from profane or sacred writings.

  What do you think of the nomination of General Pierce? For our own
  State, I think it is about as well as any other that could have been
  made. I do not like to make an exception. We cannot make much out of
  his military services, but he is a likeable man, and has as much of
  “Young America” as we want.

  I should like to read a letter of sage reflections from you about this
  time, as you are of my sect—a _political optimist_, not a better
  scholar—I know it will not take you long to digest your
  disappointment; but what will your State feel and say in regard to the
  result? This is a matter of public concernment. I should like to have
  your speculations on that point.

  There is a person in my house who has been more solicitous about the
  ballotting on your account than on mine and at times exhibited much
  exultation at your prospects. Her disappointment is greater than that
  of any other one under its roof.

  I console her by an assurance of what I really feel, that you or any
  one else, so far as happiness is concerned, are better off without a
  nomination than with one, even if it was sure to be followed by an

                                                Yours truly,
                                                       WM. L. MARCY.


                            WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, June 4, 1852.


  From the result of the ballottings yesterday, I deem it highly
  improbable that I shall receive the nomination. The question will
  doubtless be finally decided before this can reach you; and I desire
  to say in advance that my everlasting gratitude is due to the
  Pennsylvania delegation, the Virginia delegation, and the other
  Southern delegations for their adherence to me throughout the
  ballottings of yesterday. I can say, with the most sincere truth, that
  I feel far more deeply the disappointment of my friends than my own
  disappointment. This has not, and will not, cost me a single pang.
  After a long and stormy public life, I shall go into final retirement
  without regret, and with a perfect consciousness that I have done my
  duty faithfully to my country in all the public situations in which I
  have been placed. I had cherished the belief that the Democracy of
  Pennsylvania had claims upon the Democracy of the country, which if
  asserted by the proper men in the proper spirit would be recognized in
  my favor. It seems I have been entirely mistaken both as regards my
  own standing and the influence of my State. I should not have believed
  this, had not our claims been presented and urged by a faithful and
  able delegation, fully equal, if not superior, to any which it was in
  the power of the State to send.

  It is possible, should the nomination for the Presidency fall upon a
  Southern gentleman, that a proposition may be made to give
  Pennsylvania the Vice Presidency. Should such a contingency arise,
  which is not very probable, I shall not, under any circumstances,
  consent to the employment of my name in connection with that office.
  Indeed should I be nominated for it by the convention, _I would most
  assuredly decline_. It is the very last office under the Government I
  would desire to hold, and it would be no honor bestowed on good old
  Pennsylvania to have it conferred upon one of her sons.

  When I speak of final retirement, I only mean that I shall never hold
  another office. I shall always feel and take an interest in favor of
  the Democratic cause; and this not only for the sake of principle, but
  to enable me to serve friends to whom I owe so much.

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.


                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, June 24, 1852.


  If it were possible for me to complain of your conduct, I should give
  you a good scolding for not performing your promise. We were all
  anxiously expecting you at Wheatland from day to day; and if you had
  informed me you could not come I certainly should have met you in
  Philadelphia. I was very anxious to see you, and now God only knows
  when we shall meet. Whilst life endures, however, gratitude for your
  friendship and support shall remain deeply engraved on my heart.

  I never felt any longing or anxious desire to be the President, and my
  disappointment did not cost me a single pang. My friends were faithful
  and true, and their efforts deserved if they could not command
  success. Personally, I am entirely satisfied with the result. When
  opportunity offers, I hope you will not fail to present my grateful
  acknowledgments to Generals Laferty and Polk, and to Messrs. Smith,
  Thomas and Shepherd, for their kind and valuable support in the hour
  of trial.

  It is vain to disguise the fact that Pennsylvania is, to say the
  least, a doubtful State. I much fear the result. If defeated, no blame
  shall attach to me. I will do my duty to the party and the country.
  Both personally and politically General Pierce and Colonel King are
  highly acceptable to myself. What an inconsistent race the Whigs are!
  They have now ostensibly abandoned their old principles, and placed
  themselves on the Democratic platform—Fugitive Slave Law and all. From
  this we may expect river and harbor improvements intended to catch the
  Southwest; and such a modification of a revenue tariff as they knew
  would exactly correspond with the wishes of the Democratic ironmasters
  of Pennsylvania. I, however, indulge the hope, nay, the belief, that
  Pierce and King can be elected without the vote of Pennsylvania.

  I was in my native county of Franklin a few days ago, and whilst there
  went to see a respectable farmer and miller, who had ever been a true
  and disinterested Democrat. I had been told he would not vote for
  Pierce and King, and being both a personal and political friend of my
  own, I thought I could change his purpose. In conversation he very
  soon told me he would never vote for Pierce. I asked if he would
  abandon the principles of his life and vote for the Whig candidate. He
  said he never had given and never would give a Whig vote. I reasoned
  with him a long time, but in vain. He said the Democracy of the
  country ought not to suffer the national convention to usurp the right
  of making any man they pleased a candidate before the people. That if
  the people yielded this, then a corrupt set of men who got themselves
  elected delegates, might, in defiance of the people’s will, always
  make a President to suit their own views. That the Democracy had but
  one mode of putting this down, and that was, not to ratify the choice
  of the convention. He said that for himself he had felt very much
  inclined to oppose Mr. Polk for this reason, but had yielded and given
  him a cordial support; but if the same game were successfully played a
  second time, then the national convention and not the people would
  select the President, and the most gross corruption and fraud would be
  the consequence. He disliked both General Cass and Mr. Douglas; but
  said he would have supported either, because they were known, their
  claims had been publicly discussed, and each had a large body of
  friends in the Democratic party, and there must be a yielding among
  the friends of the different candidates brought forward by the people
  of the country.

  These were the reasons which my friend gave in the course of a long
  conversation. I state them to you, not that the withholding of his
  individual vote is of any great importance, but to show how many
  Democrats feel. I had heard the same reasons before among the people,
  but not so fully discussed; and my letter, published in the _Union_ of
  yesterday morning, had a special view to these objections.

  They could have scarcely made a respectable fight against me in
  Pennsylvania. In many counties my nomination would have shivered the
  Whig party. In this county, where the Whig majority at a full election
  is 5,000, I do not believe they could have obtained a majority of 500.
  But this is all past and gone.

  Miss Hetty has but little expectation of being able to procure you a
  suitable housekeeper. She will try, however, and should she fall upon
  one, will write to you.

  Please to present my kindest regards to Mrs. Garland and the little
  boys and girls, and believe me ever to be,

                          Your faithful and grateful friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                    [MR. BUCHANAN TO JOHN BINNS, ESQ.]

                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, July 26, 1852.


  Although I have too long omitted to answer your kind letter, yet you
  may rest assured I sympathized with you deeply in your affliction for
  the loss of her who had so long been the partner of your joys and your

  My own disappointment did not cost me a single pang. I felt it far
  more on account of my friends than myself. Faithful and devoted as
  they have been, it would have afforded me heartfelt pleasure to
  testify my gratitude by something more substantial than words.
  Although I should have assumed the duties of the office with cheerful
  confidence, yet I know from near observation that it is a crown of
  thorns. Its cares carried Mr. Polk to a premature grave, and the next
  four years will probably embrace the most trying period of our
  history. May God grant us a safe deliverance! With all due admiration
  for the military services of General Scott, I should consider his
  election a serious calamity for the country.

  General Pierce is a sound radical Democrat of the old Jeffersonian
  school, and possesses highly respectable abilities. I think he is firm
  and energetic, without which no man is fit to be President. Should he
  fall into proper hands, he will administer the Government wisely and
  well. Heaven save us from the mad schemes of “Young America!”

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                   [MR. BUCHANAN TO NAHUM CAPEN, ESQ.]

                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, June 26, 1852.


  Many thanks for your kind letter. I felt neither mortified nor much
  disappointed at my own defeat. Although “the signs of the times” had
  been highly propitious immediately before the Baltimore Convention, I
  am too old a political navigator to rely with explicit confidence upon
  bright skies for fair weather. The Democracy of my own great State are
  mortified and disappointed, but I trust that ere long these feelings
  will vanish, and we shall be able to present a solid and invincible
  column to our political opponents.

  The Presidency is a distinction far more glorious than the crown of
  any hereditary monarch in Christendom; but yet it is a crown of
  thorns. In the present political and critical position of our country,
  its responsibilities will prove to be fearful. I should have met them
  with cheerful confidence, whilst I know I shall be far more happy in a
  private station, where I expect to remain.

  With my ardent wishes for the success of the History of Democracy, I

                              Very respectfully your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.


                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, July 26, 1852.


  I have received and perused your kind letter with much satisfaction,
  and, like you, I am far better satisfied with the nomination of
  General Pierce than I would have been with that of General Cass or any
  of the other candidates. I sincerely and ardently desire his election,
  as well as the defeat of General Scott, and shall do my duty
  throughout the contest in Pennsylvania in every respect, except in
  going from county to county to make stump speeches.

  It is my intention to address my fellow-citizens of this county, on
  some suitable occasion, on the Presidential election, and express my
  opinions freely.

  My recommendations to the governor were but little regarded, but I
  made but very few. I can say with truth that your disappointment
  mortified me very much, because upon every principle of political
  justice and policy you were entitled to the place. Should it ever be
  in my power to serve you, I shall eagerly embrace the opportunity.

  It is impossible, as yet, to form any accurate conjecture as to what
  will be Scott’s majority in this county; but I cannot believe it will
  reach that of General Taylor. I am glad to learn your opinion that the
  majority in Delaware county will be less than it was in 1848. Pierce
  and King can be elected without the vote of Pennsylvania, but it would
  be a burning shame for the Democracy of the Keystone to be defeated on
  this occasion.

                       From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

The most important service rendered by Mr. Buchanan to his party in this
election—and with him a service to his party was alike a service to his
country—was a speech made at Greensburgh in Pennsylvania, on the 7th of
October, 1852, in opposition to the election of General Scott. It
deserves to be reproduced now, both on account of its clear exhibition
of the political history of that period and the nature of some of the
topics which it discussed.

  FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: I thank you most sincerely for the
  cordial and enthusiastic cheers with which you have just saluted me. I
  am proud, on this occasion, to acknowledge my deep obligations to the
  Democratic party of Westmoreland county. The generous and powerful
  support which I have received from your great and glorious Democracy
  throughout my public career shall ever remain deeply engraved on my
  heart. I am grateful for the past, not for what is to be in future. I
  ask no more from my country than what I have already enjoyed. May
  peace and prosperity be your lot throughout life, and may “The Star in
  the West” continue to shine with increasing splendor, and ever benign
  influence on the favored Western portion of our Commonwealth for ages
  to come!

  I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, upon the nomination of Franklin
  Pierce and William R. King, for the two highest offices in your gift.
  This nomination has proved to be a most fortunate event for the
  Democratic party of the country. It has produced unanimity everywhere
  in our great and glorious party; and when firmly united we can stand
  against the world in arms. It has terminated, I trust forever, the
  divisions which existed in our ranks; and which, but a few short
  months ago, portended dire defeat in the present Presidential contest.
  The North, the South, the East and the West are now generous rivals,
  and the only struggle amongst them is which shall do the most to
  secure the triumph of the good old cause of Democracy, and of Franklin
  Pierce and William R. King, our chosen standard bearers.

  And why should we not all be united in support of Franklin Pierce? It
  is his peculiar distinction, above all other public men within my
  knowledge, that he has never had occasion to take a single step
  backwards. What speech, vote, or sentiment of his whole political
  career has been inconsistent with the purest and strictest principles
  of Jeffersonian Democracy? Our opponents, with all their vigilance and
  research, have not yet been able to discover a single one. His public
  character as a Democrat is above all exception. In supporting him,
  therefore, we shall do no more than sustain in his person our dear and
  cherished principles.

  Our candidate, throughout his life, has proved himself to be
  peculiarly unselfish. The offices and honors which other men seek with
  so much eagerness, have sought him only to be refused. He has either
  positively declined to accept, or has resigned the highest stations
  which the Federal Government or his own native State could bestow upon

  Indeed, the public character of General Pierce is so invulnerable that
  it has scarcely been seriously assaulted. Our political opponents
  have, therefore, in perfect desperation, been driven to defame his
  private character. At first, they denounced him as a drunkard, a
  friend of the infamous anti-Catholic test in the Constitution of New
  Hampshire, and a coward. In what have these infamous accusations
  resulted? They have already recoiled upon their inventors. The
  poisoned chalice has been returned to their own lips. No decent man of
  the Whig party will now publicly venture to repeat these slanders.

  Frank Pierce a coward! That man a coward, who, when his country was
  involved in a foreign war, abandoned a lucrative and honorable
  profession and all the sweets and comforts of domestic life in his own
  happy family, to become a private volunteer soldier in the ranks! How
  preposterous! And why a coward?

  According to the testimony of General Scott himself, he was in such a
  sick, wounded, and enfeebled condition, that he was “just able to keep
  his saddle!” Yet his own gallant spirit impelled him to lead his
  brigade into the bloody battle of Churubusco. But his exhausted
  physical nature was not strong enough to sustain the brave soul which
  animated it, and he sank insensible on the field in front of his
  brigade. Was this evidence of cowardice? These circumstances, so far
  from being an impeachment of his courage, prove conclusively that he
  possesses that high quality in an uncommon degree. Almost any other
  man, nay, almost any other brave man, in his weak and disabled
  condition, would have remained in his tent; but the promptings of his
  gallant and patriotic spirit impelled him to rush into the midst of
  the battle. To what lengths will not party rancor and malignity
  proceed when such high evidences of indomitable courage are construed
  into proofs of cowardice? How different was General Scott’s opinion
  from that of the revilers of Franklin Pierce! It was on this very
  occasion that he conferred upon him the proud title of “the gallant
  Brigadier-General Pierce.”

  The cordial union of the Democratic party throughout the country
  presents a sure presage of approaching victory. Even our political
  opponents admit that we are in the majority when thoroughly united.
  And I venture now to predict that, whether with or without the vote of
  Pennsylvania, Franklin Pierce and William R. King, should their lives
  be spared, will as certainly be elected President and Vice President
  of the United States on the first Tuesday in November next, as that
  the blessed sun shall rise on that auspicious day. We feel the
  inspiration of victory from the infallible indications of public
  opinion throughout our sister States.

  Shall this victory be achieved without the voice or vote of
  Pennsylvania? No President has ever yet been elected without her vote.
  Shall this historical truth be reversed, and shall Pierce and King be
  elected in November, despite the vote of the good old Keystone? God
  bless her! No—never, never, shall the Democracy of our great and
  glorious State be subjected to this disgrace.

  And yet, strange to say, the Whigs at Washington and the Whigs
  throughout every State of the Union claim the vote of Pennsylvania
  with the utmost apparent confidence. To secure her vote was one of the
  main inducements for the nomination of General Scott over the head of
  Millard Fillmore. Is there one unprejudiced citizen of any party in
  the United States, who can lay his hand upon his heart and declare
  that he believes General Scott would make as good and as safe a
  President as Mr. Fillmore? No, fellow-citizens, all of us must concur
  in opinion with Mr. Clay, that Fillmore had superior claims and
  qualifications to those of Scott for the highest civil station.
  Availability, and availability alone, produced the nomination of

  The Whigs well knew that the Democrats of the Keystone were in the
  majority. What must then be done to secure her vote? Pennsylvania
  Democrats must be seduced from their party allegiance—they must be
  induced to abandon the political altars at which they have so long
  worshipped—they must be persuaded to renounce the principles of
  Jefferson and of Jackson, by the nomination of a military hero; and
  this hero, too, a most bitter and uncompromising Whig. General Scott
  is none of your half-way Whigs—he is not like General Taylor, a Whig,
  but not an ultra Whig. He goes the whole. Is there a single Whig
  doctrine, or a single Whig principle, however odious to the Democracy,
  to which he is not devoted, which he has not announced and taught
  under his own hand? If there be, I have never heard it mentioned. Nay,
  more: these odious doctrines are with him not merely strong opinions,
  but they are absolute convictions, rules of faith and of practice. The
  Bank of the United States, the Bankrupt Law, the distribution of the
  proceeds of the public lands among the States, the abolishment of the
  veto power from the Constitution; in short, all the Whig measures
  against which the Democracy of the country have always waged incessant
  war—are so many articles of General Scott’s political creed. When
  asked, in October, 1841, whether, “if nominated as a candidate for the
  Presidency, would you accept the nomination?” after expressing his
  strong approbation of all the Whig measures to which I have just
  referred, as well as others of a similar character, he answers: “I beg
  leave respectfully to reply—Yes; provided that I be not required to
  renounce any principles professed above. My principles are

  I will do him the justice to declare that he has never yet recanted or
  renounced any one of these principles. They are still convictions with
  him; and yet the Democracy of Pennsylvania are asked to recant and
  renounce their own most solemn and deliberate convictions, and vote
  for a candidate for the Presidency, merely on account of his military
  fame, who, if elected, would exert the power and influence of his
  administration to subvert and to destroy all the essential principles
  which bind us together as members of the great and glorious Democratic
  party of the Union. Is not the bare imputation, much more the
  confident belief, that the Democrats of Pennsylvania will renounce
  their birthright for such a miserable mess of pottage, the highest
  insult which can be offered to them? The Whigs, in effect, say to you:
  We know you are Democrats—we know you are in the majority; but yet we
  believe you will renounce the political faith of your fathers, that
  you may shout hosannas to a successful general, and bow down before
  the image of military glory which we have erected for the purpose of
  captivating your senses.

  Thank Heaven! thus far, at least, these advocates of availability have
  been disappointed. The soup societies and the fuss and feather clubs
  have yet produced but little impression on the public mind. They have
  failed even to raise enthusiastic shouts among the Whigs, much less to
  make any apostates from the Democratic ranks.

  What a subject it is for felicitation in every patriotic heart, that
  the days have passed away, I trust, forever, when mere military
  services, however distinguished, shall be a passport to the chief
  civil magistracy of the country!

  I would lay down this broad and strong proposition, which ought in all
  future time to be held sacred as an article of Democratic faith, that
  no man ought ever to be transferred by the people from the chief
  command of the army of the United States to the highest civil office
  within their gift. The reasons for this rule of faith to guide the
  practice of a Republican people are overwhelming.

  The annals of mankind, since the creation, demonstrate this solemn
  truth. The history of all the ruined republics, both of ancient and
  modern times, teaches us this great lesson. From Cæsar to Cromwell,
  and from Cromwell to Napoleon, this history presents the same solemn
  warning,—beware of elevating to the highest civil trust the commander
  of your victorious armies. Ask the wrecks of the ruined republics
  scattered all along the tide of time, what occasioned their downfall;
  and they will answer in sepulchral tones, the elevation of victorious
  generals to the highest civil power in the State. One common fate from
  one common cause has destroyed them all. Will mankind never learn
  wisdom from the experience of past generations? Has history been
  written in vain? Mr. Clay, in his Baltimore speech of 1827, expressed
  this great truth in emphatic terms, when he implored the Almighty
  Governor of the world, “to visit our favored land with war, with
  pestilence, with famine, with any scourge other than military rule, or
  a blind and heedless enthusiasm for a military renown.” He was right
  in the principle, wrong in its application. The hero, the man of men
  to whom it applied, was then at the Hermitage,—a plain and private
  farmer of Tennessee. He had responded to the call of his country when
  war was declared against Great Britain, and had led our armies to
  victory; but when the danger had passed away, he returned with delight
  to the agricultural pursuits of his beloved Hermitage. Although, like
  Franklin Pierce, he had never sought civil offices and honors, yet he
  was an influential and conspicuous member of the convention which
  framed the constitution of Tennessee, was their first Representative
  and their first Senator in Congress,—afterwards a Judge of their
  Supreme Court,—then again a Senator in Congress, which elevated
  station he a second time resigned, from a love of retirement. He was
  brought almost literally from the plough, as Cincinnatus had been, to
  assume the chief civil command. The same observations would apply to
  the illustrious and peerless Father of his Country, as well as to
  General Harrison. They were soldiers, only in the day and hour of
  danger, when the country demanded their services; and both were
  elevated from private life, from the shades of Mount Vernon and the
  North Bend, to the supreme civil magistracy of the country. Neither of
  them was a soldier by profession, and both had illustrated high civil
  appointments. General Taylor, it is true, had been a soldier, and
  always a soldier, but had never risen to the chief command. It
  remained for the present Whig party to select as their candidate for
  the Presidency the commanding General of the army, who had been a man
  of war, and nothing but a man of war from his youth upwards. This
  party is now straining every nerve to transfer him from the
  headquarters of the army, to the chair of state, which has been
  adorned by Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson, without even a
  momentary resignation of his present high office,—without the least
  political training,—without any respite, without any breathing time
  between the highest military and the highest civil honor. With what
  tremendous force does the solemn warning of Mr. Clay apply to the case
  of General Scott!

  Far be it from me to say or to insinuate that General Scott would have
  either the ability or the will to play the part of Cæsar, of Cromwell,
  or of Bonaparte. Still, the precedent is dangerous in the extreme. If
  these things can be done in the green tree, what will be done in the
  dry? If the precedent can be established in the comparative infancy
  and purity of our institutions, of elevating to the Presidency a
  successful commander-in-chief of our armies, what may be the
  disastrous consequences when our population shall number one hundred
  millions, and when our armies in time of war may be counted by
  hundreds of thousands. In those days, some future military chieftain,
  desirous of obtaining supreme power by means of an election to the
  Presidency, may point back to such a precedent and say, that in the
  earlier and purer days of the Republic, our ancestors did not fear to
  elevate the commander of their conquering armies to this, the highest
  civil station. Let us not forge chains in advance for our descendants.

  The fathers of the Republic were deeply alive to these great truths.
  They were warned by the experience of past times that liberty is
  Hesperian fruit, and can only be preserved by watchful jealousy. Hence
  in all their constitutions of government, and in all their political
  writings, we find them inculcating, in the most solemn manner, a
  jealousy of standing armies and their leaders, and a strict
  subordination of the military to the civil power. But even if there
  were no danger to our liberties from such a precedent, the habit of
  strict obedience and absolute command acquired by the professional
  soldier throughout a long life, almost necessarily disqualifies him
  for the administration of our Democratic Republican Government. Civil
  government is not a mere machine, such as a regular army. In
  conducting it, allowance must be made for that love of liberty and
  spirit of independence which characterize our people. Such allowances
  can never be made,—authority can never be tempered with moderation and
  discretion, by a professional soldier, who has been accustomed to have
  his military orders obeyed with the unerring certainty of despotic

  Again:—What fatal effects would it not have on the discipline and
  efficiency of the army to have aspirants for the Presidency among its
  principal officers? How many military cliques would be formed—how much
  intriguing and electioneering would exist in a body which ought to be
  a unit, and have no other object in view except to obey the lawful
  command of the President and to protect and defend the country? If all
  the political follies of General Scott’s life were investigated, and
  these are not few, I venture to say that nearly the whole of them have
  resulted from his long continued aspirations for the Presidency. At
  last, he has obtained the Whig nomination. He has defeated his own
  constitutional commander-in-chief. The military power has triumphed
  over the civil power. The Constitution declares that “the President
  shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United
  States,” but the subordinate, the actual commander of the army, has
  supplanted his superior. What a spectacle is this; and how many
  serious reflections might it inspire! In times of war and of danger,
  what fatal consequences might result to the country from the fact,
  that the President and the commanding General of the army are rival
  and hostile candidates for the Presidency! But I shall not pursue this
  train of remark. It is my most serious conviction, that General Scott
  would have stood far higher, both before the present generation and
  posterity, had he never been a candidate for the Presidency. The
  office which he now holds, and deservedly holds, ought to satisfy the
  ambition of any man. This the American people will determine by a
  triumphant majority on the first Tuesday of November next. This will
  prove to be one of the most fortunate events in our history—auspicious
  at the present time, and still more auspicious for future generations.
  It will establish a precedent, which will, I trust, prevent future
  commanders-in-chief of the American army from becoming candidates for
  the Presidential office.

  Again:—To make the army a hot bed for Presidential aspirants will be
  to unite the powerful influence of all its aspiring officers in favor
  of foreign wars, as the best means of acquiring military glory, and
  thus placing themselves in the modern line of safe precedents, as
  candidates for the Presidency and for other high civil offices. The
  American people are sufficiently prone to war without any such
  stimulus. But enough of this.

  I shall now proceed to discuss more minutely the civil qualifications
  of General Scott for the Presidency. It is these which immediately and
  deeply concern the American people, and not his military glory. Far be
  it from me, however, to depreciate his military merits. As an American
  citizen, I am proud of them. They will ever constitute a brilliant
  page in the historical glory of our country. The triumphant march of
  the brave army under his command, from Vera Cruz to the city of
  Mexico, will be ever memorable in our annals. And yet he can never be
  esteemed the principal hero of the Mexican war. This distinction
  justly belongs to General Taylor. It was his army which at Palo Alto,
  Resaca de la Palma, and Monterey, first broke the spirit of the
  Mexican troops; and the crowning victory of Buena Vista completely
  disorganized the Mexican army. There Santa Anna, with 20,000 men, the
  largest, the best and the bravest army which Mexico has ever sent into
  the field, was routed by less than five thousand of our troops. To the
  everlasting glory of our volunteer militia, this great, this glorious
  victory, was achieved by them, assisted by only four hundred and
  fifty-three regulars. The Mexican army was so disorganized—the spirit
  of the Mexican people was so subdued, by the unparallelled victory of
  Buena Vista, that the way was thus opened for the march from Vera Cruz
  to Mexico. Yet God forbid that I should, in the slightest degree,
  detract from the glory so justly due to Scott’s army and its
  distinguished commander in the battles which preceded their triumphant
  entry into the capital of Mexico.

  But I repeat, my present purpose is to deal with General Scott as a
  civilian—as a candidate for the Presidency, and not as a military

  The sun presents dark spots upon its disc; and the greatest men who
  have ever lived, with the exception of our own Washington, have not
  been without their failings. Surely General Scott is not an exception
  to the common lot of humanity. In his temper he is undoubtedly
  irritable and jealous of rivals; whilst the Presidency, above all
  other stations on earth, requires a man of firm and calm temper, who,
  in his public conduct, will never be under the control of his

  General Scott has quarrelled with General Wilkinson—he has quarrelled
  with General Gaines—he has quarrelled with General Jackson—he has
  quarrelled with De Witt Clinton—he has quarrelled with the
  administration of John Quincy Adams—he has quarrelled with the people
  of Florida to such a degree that General Jackson was obliged
  reluctantly to recall him from the command of the army in the Seminole
  war—he has quarrelled with General Worth, the Marshal Ney of our
  military service—he has quarrelled with General Pillow—he has
  quarrelled with the gallant and lamented Duncan—and unless report
  speaks falsely, he has quarrelled with General Taylor. Whenever any
  military man has approached the rank of being his rival for fame, he
  has quarrelled with that man. Now, I shall not pretend to decide,
  whether he has been in the right or in the wrong, in all or in any of
  these quarrels; but this I shall say, that a man possessing such
  forethought, discretion and calm temper as the Presidential office
  requires, might and would have avoided many or most of these
  difficulties. A plain and sensible neighbor of mine asked me, in view
  of these facts, if I did not think, should General Scott be elected
  President, he would play the devil and break things?

  General Scott is, beyond all question, suspicious, when the President
  of the United States, above all other men, ought to look upon events
  with no prejudiced or jaundiced eye. No man ever exhibited this trait
  of character in a stronger light than he has done towards the
  administration of Mr. Polk. He was selected by the President to lead
  our armies in Mexico, with my humble though cordial assent. The
  political life or death of the administration depended upon his
  success. Our fate, both in the estimation of the present times and
  throughout all posterity, depended upon his success. His defeat would
  have been our ruin. And yet he most strangely conceived the notion,
  that for the purpose of destroying him we were willing to destroy
  ourselves. Hence his belief of a fire in the rear more formidable than
  the fire in the front. Hence his belief that, jealous of his glory, we
  did not exert ourselves to furnish him the troops and munitions of war
  necessary for the conquest of Mexico. Did unjust and unfounded
  suspicion ever extend thus far in the breast of any other mortal man?
  The admirable and unanswerable letter of Governor Marcy, of April 21,
  1848, in reply to his complaints, triumphantly vindicates the
  administration of Mr. Polk against all these extraordinary charges.
  Let any man carefully and dispassionately read that letter, and say,
  if he can, that General Scott, in self-control, temper and
  disposition, is fit to become the successor to General Washington, in
  the Presidential chair.

  The world knows, everybody who has approached him knows, that General
  Scott is vainglorious to an excessive degree. Indeed, his vanity would
  be strikingly ridiculous, had he not performed so many distinguished
  military services as almost to justify boasting. This, however, is an
  amiable weakness; and whilst it does not disqualify him from
  performing the duties of a President, this itself renders it morally
  impossible that he should ever reach that station. Modesty combined
  with eminent merit always secures popular applause; but the man who
  becomes the trumpeter of his own exploits, no matter how high his
  deserts may be, can never become an object of popular enthusiasm and
  affection. General Scott’s character, in this respect, is perfectly
  understood by the instinctive good sense of the American people. “Fuss
  and Feathers!” a volume could not more accurately portray the vanity
  of his character than this soubriquet by which he is universally
  known. His friends affect to glory in this title, but with all their
  efforts they can never render it popular. Napoleon was endeared to his
  army by his designation of “the little Corporal;” General Jackson, by
  that of “Old Hickory;” and General Taylor was “Rough and Ready;” but
  what shall we say to “Fuss and Feathers?” Was such a soubriquet ever
  bestowed upon a General who enjoyed the warm affections of his army?
  It raises no shout,—it awakens no sympathy,—it excites no
  enthusiasm,—it falls dead upon the heart of an intelligent people.

  In order further to illustrate the want of civil qualifications of
  General Scott for the Presidency, I propose next to discuss his famous
  political letters. In these he has written his own political history.
  “Oh! that mine enemy would write a book!” was an exclamation of old.
  General Scott’s epistles have accomplished this work, though I deny
  that he has any enemies among the American people.

  In 1848, when speaking of these letters, Thurlow Weed, who at the
  present moment is one of General Scott’s most able, distinguished, and
  efficient supporters, employs the following language: “In the
  character of General Scott there is much, very much to commend and
  admire. But the mischief is, there is weakness in all he says or does
  about the Presidency. Immediately after the close of the campaign of
  1840, he wrote a gratuitous letter, making himself a candidate, in
  which all sorts of unwise things were said ‘to return and plague his
  friends, if he should be a candidate.’ And since that time, with a
  fatuity that seizes upon men who get bewildered in gazing at the White
  House, he has been suffering his pen to dim the glories achieved by
  his sword.”

  The letter to which special allusion is made must be his famous letter
  of October 25, 1841. Though not an “old Fogy,” I retain a vivid
  recollection of the circumstances under which this letter was written.
  It made its appearance the month after the termination of the famous
  extra session of Congress, which had been convened by the proclamation
  of General Harrison. This session commenced on the 31st May, and
  terminated on the 13th September, 1841.

  And here, permit me to say, that I do not believe the history of
  legislative bodies, in this or any other country, ever presented more
  argumentative, eloquent, and powerful debating than was exhibited
  throughout this session. Nearly all the important political questions
  which had divided the two great parties of the country from the
  beginning were most ably discussed. Never did any public body of the
  same number present a stronger array of matured talent than the Senate
  of that day. There were Clay, Berrien, Clayton, Mangum, Archer,
  Preston, and Southard on the Whig side; and Benton, Calhoun, Wright,
  Woodbury, Walker, Pierce, and Linn on the side of the Democrats, and
  these men were in the meridian of their glory. I would advise every
  young Democrat within the sound of my voice to procure and carefully
  study the debates of this session.

  Mr. Clay was, as he deserved to be, the lord of the ascendant in the
  Whig ranks. The Whig majority of both houses was controlled by his
  spirit. He was their acknowledged leader, and went to work in dashing
  style. Within a brief period, he carried all the great Whig measures
  triumphantly through Congress. The Independent Treasury was repealed;
  the proceeds of the public lands were distributed among the States;
  the Bankrupt Law was passed; and an old-fashioned Bank of the United
  States would have been established, had it not been for the veto of
  John Tyler, a man who has never been as highly estimated as he
  deserves, either by the Democratic party or the country.

  Mr. Clay left the Senate, at the close of the session, the
  acknowledged leader and the favorite Presidential candidate of the
  great Whig party. Under these circumstances, it became necessary for
  General Scott to do something to head his great rival and prevent him
  from remaining master of the field. He must prove himself to be as
  good a Whig as Henry Clay, and in addition a much better Anti-Mason.
  It was the common remark of the day, when his letter of October, 1841,
  appeared, that he had out-whigged even Henry Clay. This is the
  “gratuitous letter, making himself a candidate, in which all sorts of
  unwise things were said to ‘return and plague his friends, if he
  should be a candidate.’”

  This letter is not addressed to any individual, but is an epistle
  general to the faithful; and I must do him the justice to say that in
  it he has concealed nothing from the public eye. After some
  introductory remarks, it is divided into seven heads, which, with
  their subdivisions, embrace all the articles of Whig faith as
  understood at that day; and in addition, the author presents his views
  on “secret or oath-bound societies.”

  I shall briefly review some of these articles of General Scott’s
  political faith:

  1. “The Judiciary.” General Scott expresses his convictions that the
  decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, on all
  constitutional questions, should be considered final and conclusive by
  the people, and especially by their functionaries, “except, indeed, in
  the case of a judicial decision enlarging power and against liberty.”
  And how is such a decision to be corrected? Why, forsooth, “any
  dangerous error of this sort, he says, can always be easily corrected
  by an amendment of the Constitution, in one of the modes prescribed by
  that instrument itself.” Easily corrected! It might be so if a
  military order could accomplish the object; but an amendment of the
  Constitution of the United States, whether fortunately or
  unfortunately for the country, is almost a political impossibility. In
  order to accomplish it, in by far the least impracticable of the two
  modes prescribed, the affirmative action of two-thirds of both Houses
  of Congress and of the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several
  States is required. With these obstacles in the way, when will an
  amendment of the Constitution ever be made?

  But why did such a reverence for the decisions of the Supreme Court
  become an article of General Scott’s faith? Simply because General
  Jackson had vetoed the Bank of the United States, believing in his
  conscience, such an institution to be unconstitutional. He had sworn
  before his God and his country to support the Constitution; and he
  could not, without committing moral perjury, approve a bill, which in
  his soul he believed to be a violation of this great charter of our
  liberties. He could not yield his honest convictions, simply because
  the Supreme Court had expressed the opinion that Congress possesses
  the power to charter such a bank.

  But, according to the logic of General Scott, General Jackson and Mr.
  Tyler, when bills to charter a Bank of the United States were
  presented to them, had no right to form or express any opinion on the
  subject of their constitutionality. The Supreme Court had done this
  for them in advance. This court is to be the constitutional
  conscience-keeper of the President. “Practically, therefore (says
  General Scott), for the people and especially their functionaries (of
  whom the President is the highest) to deny, to disturb, or impugn,
  principles thus constitutionally established, strike me as of evil
  example, if not of a direct revolutionary tendency.” A Bank of the
  United States must be held constitutional, by the people and their
  functionaries, as an article of faith, until two-thirds of both Houses
  of Congress and three-fourths of the State legislatures shall reverse
  the decision of the Supreme Court by an amendment of the Constitution.
  The President must then wait before he can exercise the right of
  judging for himself until doomsday. On the same principle, we must all
  now hold, as an article of faith, that the odious and infamous
  sedition law of the reign of terror is constitutional, because the
  judiciary have so affirmed, and this decision never has been, and
  never will be, reversed by a constitutional amendment. This is
  double-distilled Whiggery of the most sublimated character. Truly,
  “there is weakness in all that General Scott says or does about the

  Let us never forget that a Bank of the United States is a fixed idea
  with the Whig party, which nothing can ever remove. On this subject,
  like the old Bourbons, they forget nothing and learn nothing. They are
  inseparably joined to this idol. They believe that a concentration of
  the money power of the country, in the form of such a bank, is
  necessary to secure the ascendency of the Whig party in the
  Government; and there is nothing more certain in futurity than that
  they will establish such a bank, should they ever obtain the power.
  Experience has taught us a lesson on this subject which we ought never
  to forget. Throughout the political campaign of 1840, which resulted
  in the election of General Harrison, it was nowhere avowed by the
  Whigs, that they intended to charter a Bank of the United States. This
  was carefully concealed from the public eye. On the contrary, many of
  their distinguished leaders declared themselves hostile to such an
  institution, and one of them, Mr. Badger, afterwards a member of the
  cabinet, indignantly pronounced the assertion that General Harrison
  was in favor of such a bank to be a falsehood. But mark the sequel. No
  sooner was Harrison elected and a majority secured in both Houses of
  Congress, than the Whigs immediately proceeded in hot haste, at the
  extra session, to pass a bill establishing a Bank of the United
  States, which would have become a law, but for the veto of John Tyler.
  What we have witnessed in 1841, we shall again witness in 1853, _the
  veto_ only excepted, should General Scott be elected President and be
  sustained by a Whig majority in both Houses of Congress.

  2. “The Executive Veto.” To abolish this veto power is another article
  of General Scott’s political faith, as announced in his letter of
  October, 1841. To be more precise, the General would have the
  Constitution amended for the second time, in the same epistle, so as
  to overcome the Executive veto “by a bare majority in each House of
  Congress of all the members elected to it—say for the benefit of
  reflection, at the end of ten days from the return of the bill.” What
  a farce! An Executive veto to be overcome and nullified by a bare
  majority of the very Congress which had but ten days before sent the
  same bill to the President for his approval! Better, far better, adopt
  the manly course of abolishing the veto altogether, than to resort to
  this subterfuge.

  But why has the abolishment of the Executive veto become an article of
  Whig faith? Simply because General Jackson and Mr. Tyler each vetoed
  bills to establish a Bank of the United States! “Still harping on my
  daughter.” The Whigs have determined to destroy the veto power, which
  has twice prevented them from creating an institution which they love
  above all other political objects. The veto power has saved the
  country from the corrupt and corrupting influence of a bank; and it is
  this alone which has rendered it so odious to the Whig party.

  This power is the least dangerous of all the great powers conferred by
  the Constitution upon the President; because nothing but a strong
  sense of public duty and a deep conviction that he will be sustained
  by the people can ever induce him to array himself against a majority
  of both Houses of Congress. It has been exercised but in comparatively
  few instances since the origin of the Federal Government; and I am not
  aware that it has ever been exercised in any case, which has not
  called forth the approving voice of a large majority of the American
  people. Confident I am, it is highly popular in Pennsylvania.

  “Rotation in office” is the next head of General Scott’s letter.
  Throughout the Presidential contest, which resulted in the election of
  General Harrison, it was the fashion of the Whigs to proscribe
  proscription; and to denounce Democratic Presidents for removing their
  political enemies and appointing their political friends to office.
  General Scott, in his letter, comes up to the Whig standard in this,
  as in all other respects. In his profession of faith, he could not
  even avoid a fling against the hero and the sage then in retirement at
  the Hermitage. He says: “I speak on this head from what I witnessed in
  1829-30 (the commencement of General Jackson’s administration), of the
  cruel experiments on a large scale, then made upon the sensibilities
  of the country, and the mischiefs to the public interests which early

  But what was the Whig practice upon the subject after they had
  obtained power? General Jackson was magnanimous, kind-hearted and
  merciful, and to my own knowledge he retained a very large proportion
  of Whig clerks in the public offices at Washington. I ask how many
  Democrats now remain in those offices? Nay, the present administration
  has even proscribed old widows whose husbands had been Democrats. In
  the city of Lancaster, they removed from the post-office an old lady
  of this character, who had performed her duties to the entire
  satisfaction of the public of all parties, to make way for a political
  (I admit a respectable political) friend. To the credit of General
  Taylor’s memory be it spoken, he refused to make war upon this old

  But in this respect, a change has come over the spirit of General
  Scott’s dream. Of this the Whigs are satisfied. If they were not,
  small would be his chance—much smaller even than it now is, of
  reaching the Presidential chair. In his letter, accepting the
  nomination, he says:—“In regard to the general policy of the
  administration, if elected, I should, of course, look among those who
  may approve that policy, for the agents to carry it into execution;
  and I would seek to cultivate harmony and fraternal sentiment
  throughout the Whig party, without attempting to reduce its members by
  proscription to exact conformity to my own views!”

  “Harmony and fraternal sentiment throughout the Whig party!” His
  charity, though large for Whigs, does not extend to Democrats. He
  knows, however, that his own party are divided into supporters of
  himself for his own sake, whilst spitting upon the platform on which
  he stands—and those who love the platform so well that for its sake
  they have even consented, though reluctantly, to acquiesce in his
  nomination—into those Free Soil Whigs who denounce the Fugitive Slave
  Law, and those Whigs who are devoted heart and soul to its
  maintenance. In this dilemma, he will not attempt to reduce the
  discordant brethren by proscription to exact conformity to his own
  views. Southern Whigs and Northern Free Soilers are therefore both
  embraced within the broad sweep of his charity. He seeks to cultivate
  harmony and fraternal sentiment among the Seward Whigs and the
  National Whigs by seating them all together at the same table to enjoy
  the loaves and the fishes. But woe to the vanquished—woe to the
  Democrats! They shall not even receive a single crumb which may fall
  from the table of the Presidential banquet.

  “One Presidential Term,” is the subject which he next discusses. Here
  he boggles at one Presidential term. He seems reluctant to surrender
  the most elevated and the most lucrative office, next to that of
  President, and this, too, an office for life, for the sake of only
  four years in the White House. He again, therefore, for the third
  time, in the same letter, proposes to amend the Constitution, just as
  if this were as easy as to wheel a division of his army on a parade
  day, so as to extend the Presidential term to six years. Four years
  are too short a term for General Scott. It must be prolonged. The
  people must be deprived of the power of choosing their President at
  the end of so brief a period as four years. But such an amendment of
  the Constitution, he ought to have known, was all moonshine. The
  General, then, declines to pledge himself to serve but for one term,
  and this for the most extraordinary reason. I shall quote his own
  words; he says:—“But I do not consider it respectful to the people,
  nor otherwise proper, in a candidate to solicit favor on a pledge
  that, if elected, he will not accept a second nomination. It looks too
  much like a bargain tendered to other aspirants—yield to me now; I
  shall soon be out of your way; too much like the interest that
  sometimes governs the cardinals in the choice of a Pope, many voting
  for themselves first, and, if without success, finally for the most
  superannuated, in order that the election may sooner come round

  He was, then, you may be sure, still a Native American.

  To say the very least, this imputation of selfishness and corruption
  against the cardinals in the election of a Pope, is in bad taste in a
  political letter written by a candidate for the Presidency. It was in
  exceedingly bad taste, in such an epistle, thus to stigmatize the
  highest dignitaries of the ancient Catholic church, in the performance
  of their most solemn and responsible public duty to God, on this side
  of eternity. From my soul, I abhor the practice of mingling up
  religion with politics. The doctrine of all our Constitutions, both
  Federal and State, is, that every man has an indefeasible right to
  worship his God, according to the dictates of his own conscience. He
  is both a bigot and a tyrant who would interfere with that sacred
  right. When a candidate is before the people for office, the inquiry
  ought never even to be made, what form of religious faith he
  professes; but only, in the language of Mr. Jefferson, “Is he honest;
  is he capable?” Far be it from me to charge or even insinuate that
  General Scott would desire to introduce religion into party politics;
  and yet I consider it exceedingly improper for him, in a political
  letter, when a candidate for the Presidency, to have made this charge
  against the venerable cardinals of the Catholic church. Such a charge,
  emanating from so high a source, could not fail to wound the feelings
  of a large and highly respectable Christian community. This has
  necessarily, to some extent, brought religious discussions into the
  Presidential contest.

  “Leading measures of the late extra session of Congress.” This is the
  next head of General Scott’s epistle, to which I advert. He swallows
  all those leading measures at a single gulp. “If,” says he, “I had had
  the honor of a vote on the occasion, it would have been given in favor
  of the Land Distribution Bill, the Bankrupt Bill, and the second bill
  for creating a Fiscal Corporation, having long been under a conviction
  that in peace, as in war, something efficient in the nature of a Bank
  of the United States, is not only ‘necessary and proper,’ but
  indispensable to the successful operations of the Treasury!”

  The Land Distribution Bill. This is emphatically a high toned Whig
  measure, which had been once crushed by General Jackson’s message of
  December, 1833. Mr. Clay, its illustrious author, was the very
  essence, the life and soul of Whiggery. It proposes to distribute the
  proceeds of the public lands among the several States. It proposes to
  surrender to the several States that immense and bountiful fund
  provided by our ancestors, which is always our surest resource, in
  times of war and danger, when our revenue from imports fails. In the
  days of Jackson, Van Buren and Polk, the Democratic doctrine was,—I
  fear it is not so at present,—to preserve this fund in the common
  Treasury, as a sacred trust, to enable Congress to execute the
  enumerated powers conferred upon them by the Constitution, for the
  equal benefit of all the States and the people. Should Congress give
  away the public lands to the States, they will deprive themselves of
  the power of bestowing land bounties upon the soldiers and the sailors
  who fight the battles of your country, and of granting liberal terms
  of purchase to those hardy pioneers who make the wilderness to bloom
  and to blossom as the rose. What will become of this policy if you
  distribute the proceeds of these lands among the States? Then every
  State will have a direct interest in preventing any donations of the
  public lands, either to old soldiers or actual settlers; because every
  acre thus given will so much lessen the dividend to each of the States
  interested. Should this Distribution Bill ever prevail, it will make
  the States mere dependencies upon the central Government for a large
  portion of their revenue, and thus reduce these proud Democratic
  sovereignties to the degrading position of looking to the Treasury of
  the United States for their means of support. In the language of
  General Jackson, “a more direct road to consolidation cannot be
  devised.” Such a state of dependence, though exactly in accordance
  with the centralizing Whig policy, has ever been abhorred by the
  Democrats. But the Distribution Bill is one of the principles, one of
  the “convictions,” of General Scott; and so let it pass.

  We come now to the Bankrupt Bill, a purely Whig measure, to which
  General Scott gives his adhesion.—And such a bill! In no legitimate
  sense of the word, was this a bankrupt law. It was merely a new mode
  of paying old debts; and the easiest mode which was ever devised for
  this purpose in any civilized country. The expansions and contractions
  of the Bank of the United States,—the inundations of bank paper and of
  shinplasters which spread over the country, had given birth to a wild
  and reckless spirit of speculation, that ruined a great number of
  people. The speculators wanted to pay their debts in the easiest
  manner, and the Whigs wanted their votes. This was the origin of the
  bankrupt law. It ruined a great many honest creditors; it paid off a
  great many honest debts with moonshine. If my memory serves me, debts
  to the amount of $400,000,000 were discharged in this manner. The law,
  however, from its practical operation, soon became so odious to the
  people, that they demanded its repeal. It was stricken from the
  statute book, amidst the execrations of the people, by the very same
  Congress which had enacted it, in one year and one month from the day
  on which it went into effect. And this is the bill for which General
  Scott declares he would have voted, had he been a member of Congress.

  Next in order, we come to the Bank of the United States. If General
  Scott “had had the honor of a vote, it would have been given for the
  second bill creating a Fiscal Corporation.”

  Surely the General could never have carefully read this bill. In
  derision, it was termed at the time, the “Kite Flying Fiscality.” It
  was a mere speculators’ bank, and no person believed it could ever
  become a law. In truth, it was got up merely for the purpose of
  heading John Tyler, and when reported to the House, it was received,
  according to the _National Intelligencer_, with shouts of laughter.

  It originated in this manner. A bill had at first passed Congress to
  create a regular old-fashioned Bank of the United States. This bill
  was vetoed by John Tyler. Afterwards the second bill, or Kite Flying
  Fiscality, was prepared by the Whigs to meet some portions of Mr.
  Tyler’s veto message, and if possible render it ridiculous. The bill
  was passed and was vetoed by President Tyler, as everybody foresaw it
  would be. But how General Scott got his head so befogged as to prefer
  this thing to the first bill, is a matter of wonder. I venture to say
  he was the only Whig in the United States who held the same opinion.

  This closes General Scott’s confession of Whig faith; and surely it is
  sufficiently ample and specific to gratify the most rabid Whig in the
  land. But the General had another string to his bow. It was necessary
  not only that he should be as good a Whig as Henry Clay, but that he
  should be something besides, something over and above a mere Whig, in
  order to render himself more available than his great rival. Hence the
  concluding head of his famous epistle, which, like the postscript of a
  lady’s letter, contains much of the pith and marrow of the whole. It
  is entitled “Secret or Oath-bound Societies.” In it he declares,
  although a Mason, that he had “not been a member of a Masonic lodge
  for thirty odd years, nor a visitor of any lodge since, except
  one,—now more than sixteen years ago.” And such is his abhorrence for
  secret societies, that for twenty-eight years he had not even visited
  one of those literary societies in our colleges, whose practice it is
  to adopt a few secret signs by which their members in after life can
  recognize each other.

  In order, then, to render himself a more available candidate than
  Henry Clay, it was necessary that his net should have a broader sweep
  than that of the great Kentuckian. It was necessary that he should be
  as good a Whig and a far better Anti-Mason. The Anti-Masonic party was
  then powerful in Pennsylvania as well as in other Northern States.
  This party numbered in its ranks many old Democrats, and to these Mr.
  Clay was not very acceptable. The Anti-Masons were more active and
  more energetic than the Whigs. A distinguished Anti-Mason of our State
  is reported once to have said, that they were the locomotive, and the
  Whigs the burden train. How were they to be enlisted in the ranks of
  Scott? The great Kentuckian, with that independent spirit which
  characterized him, never yielded to the advances of the Anti-Masons.
  He was a Mason himself as well as General Scott; but the General lent
  a far more kindly ear to this new party. Hence his remarks on secret
  or oath-bound societies. This confession of his faith proved to be
  entirely satisfactory; and the Anti-Masons have ever since proved to
  be his devoted friends. He thus captured a large division of the
  forces which were unfriendly to Mr. Clay. But for the purpose of
  embracing the new recruits, it became necessary to coin a more
  comprehensive name than simply that of Whigs.

  He doubtless thought that a rose by any other name would smell as
  sweet. Hence, in his famous letter, he announced himself to be a
  Democratic Whig. A white blackbird—a Christian unbeliever. This name
  was sufficiently comprehensive to embrace all men of all parties. He
  became all things to all men, that he might gain proselytes. I say
  what I know, when I declare that this letter, and attempt to supplant
  the veteran statesman of Kentucky, was a subject of severe criticism
  at the time in Washington city, among men of all parties. Surely, in
  the language of Thurlow Weed, “there is weakness in all he says or
  does about the Presidency.”

  But a good general is always fertile in expedients. His coup-d’œil
  embraces the whole field of battle, and he is ever ready to take
  advantage of any occurrence which may enable him to seize the victory.
  A new political party styling itself the Native American party, began
  to loom up in an imposing manner and to present a formidable aspect.
  This party must be conciliated. The Native Americans must be prevailed
  upon to unite their forces with the Whigs and Anti-Masons, and thus to
  form a grand combined army. It therefore became necessary for General
  Scott to write a second epistle, which he seems to have done with all
  the ardor and enthusiasm of heartfelt sincerity. This is dated from
  Washington city, on the 10th of November, 1844, and is in answer to a
  letter addressed to him, “in behalf of several hundred Native American
  Republicans,” by Geo. W. Reed, Esq., of Philadelphia. This second
  epistle proved to be as successful in enlisting the Native Americans
  under his banner, as the first epistle had been in enlisting the
  Anti-Masons. And why should it not? The General pledged himself, in
  the strongest terms, to every dogma which this new party had most at

  He dates his Native Americanism back more than eight years, to “the
  stormy election in the spring of 1836,” and his views “were confirmed
  in the week [Nov. 1840] when Harrison electors were chosen in New
  York.” It was on this occasion in 1840, that, “fired with
  indignation,” he sat down with two friends in the Astor House, “to
  draw up an address, designed to rally an American party.” What has
  become of this address? How precious would it be? I fear it is forever
  lost to the world! It would be one of the greatest curiosities of
  modern literature. How withering must have been its attack upon the
  poor foreigners! We can judge somewhat of its spirit by his epistle to
  Mr. Reed. Other Native Americans were satisfied to restore the
  naturalization law of “the reign of terror,” and to prohibit
  foreigners from becoming citizens until after a residence of fourteen
  years. Not so with General Scott. He went a bow-shot beyond. His mind
  inclined to “a total repeal of all Acts of Congress on the
  subject,”—to a total denial forever of all political rights to every
  human being, young, middle-aged, and old, who had happened to be born
  in a foreign country.

  Having thus placed himself rectus in curia, as the lawyers would say,
  with the Native American party, he then proceeds, as their god-father,
  to give them a proper name. In this I do not think his choice was
  fortunate. It was a difficult task. It must embrace within its ample
  outline both Whigs and Anti-Masons, and yet have so much of the odor
  of Native Americanism as to make its savor sweet in the nostrils of
  the new party. He says, “I should prefer assuming the designation of
  American Republicans, as in New York, or Democratic Americans, as I
  would respectfully suggest. Democratic Americans would include all
  good native American citizens devoted to our country and its
  institutions; and would not drive from us naturalized citizens, who,
  by long residence, have become identified with us in feelings and

  “Democratic Americans!” What a name for a Native American party! When
  all the records of our past history prove that American Democrats have
  ever opened wide their arms to receive foreigners flying from
  oppression in their native land, and have always bestowed upon them
  the rights of American citizens, after a brief period of residence in
  this country. The Democratic party have always gloried in this policy,
  and its fruits have been to increase our population and our power with
  unexampled rapidity, and to furnish our country with vast numbers of
  industrious, patriotic and useful citizens. Surely the name of
  ‘Democratic Americans’ was an unfortunate designation for the Native
  American party!

  But General Scott was not content to be considered merely as a
  proselyte to Native Americanism. He claimed the glory of being the
  founder of the party. He asserts his claim to this distinguished
  honor, which no individual will now dispute with him, in the
  postscript to his letter of November, 1844, which was read on the 4th
  of February, 1847, before the National Convention of Native American
  Delegates, at Pittsburg. In this he says, “writing, however, a few
  days ago, to my friend Mayor Harper of New York, I half jocosely said,
  that I should claim over him and others the foundership of the new
  party, but that I had discovered this glory, like every other American
  excellence, belonged to the Father of his Country.”

  The Native American party an ‘American excellence,’ and the glory of
  its foundership, belongs to George Washington! No, fellow-citizens,
  the American people will rise up with one accord to vindicate the
  memory of that illustrious man from such an imputation. As long as the
  recent memory of our revolutionary struggle remained vividly impressed
  on the hearts of our countrymen, no such party could have ever
  existed. The recollection of Montgomery, Lafayette, De Kalb,
  Kosciusko, and a long list of foreigners, both officers and soldiers,
  who freely shed their blood to secure our liberties, would have
  rendered such ingratitude impossible. Our revolutionary army was
  filled with the brave and patriotic natives of other lands, and George
  Washington was their commander-in-chief. Would he have ever closed the
  door against the admission of foreigners to the rights of American
  citizens? Let his acts speak for themselves. So early as the 26th of
  March, 1790, General Washington, as President of the United States
  approved the first law which ever passed Congress on the subject of
  naturalization; and this only required a residence of two years,
  previous to the adoption of a foreigner as an American citizen. On the
  29th January, 1795, the term of residence was extended by Congress to
  five years, and thus it remained throughout General Washington’s
  administration, and until after the accession of John Adams to the
  Presidency. In his administration, which will ever be known in history
  as the reign of terror, as the era of alien and sedition laws, an act
  was passed on the 18th of June, 1798, which prohibited any foreigner
  from becoming a citizen until after a residence of fourteen years, and
  this is the law, or else perpetual exclusion, which General Scott
  preferred, and which the Native American party now desire to restore.

  The Presidential election of 1800 secured the ascendency of the
  Democratic party, and under the administration of Thomas Jefferson,
  its great apostle, on the 14th of April, 1802, the term of residence
  previous to naturalization was restored to five years, what it had
  been under General Washington, and where it has ever since remained.
  No, fellow-citizens, the Father of his Country was never a ‘Native
  American.’ This ‘American excellence’ never belonged to him.

  General Scott appears to have been literally infatuated with the
  beauties of Native Americanism. On the 12th November, 1848, he
  addressed a letter in answer to one from a certain “Mr. Hector Orr,
  printer,” who appears to have been the editor of a Native American
  journal in Philadelphia. This letter is a perfect rhapsody from
  beginning to end. Among other things equally extravagant, the General
  says: “A letter from him (Benjamin Franklin) were he alive, could not
  have refreshed me more than that before my eyes. It gives a new value
  to any little good I have done or attempted, and will stimulate me to
  do all that may fall in the scope of my power in the remainder of my
  life.” What a letter must this have been of Mr. Hector Orr, printer!
  What a pity it has been lost to the world! The General concluded by
  requesting Mr. Orr to send him “the history of the Native party by the
  Sunday School Boy,” and also to consider him a subscriber to his

  But soon there came a frost—a chilling frost. Presto, pass, and
  General Scott’s Native Americanism is gone like the baseless fabric of
  a vision. Would that it left no trace behind! The celebrated William
  E. Robinson, of New York, is the enchanter who removes the spell.

  The Whig National Convention of 7th June, 1848, was about to assemble.
  General Scott was for the third time about to be a candidate before it
  for nomination as President. This was an important—a critical moment.
  Native Americanism had not performed its early promise. It was not
  esteemed “an American excellence,” even by the Whig party. General
  Scott was in a dilemma, and how to extricate himself from it was the
  question. The ready friendship of Mr. Robinson hit upon the lucky
  expedient. On the 8th May, 1848, he addressed a letter to General
  Scott, assuming that the General entertained “kind and liberal views
  towards our naturalized citizens.” The General answered this letter on
  the 29th May, 1848, just ten days before the meeting of the Whig
  Philadelphia Convention; and what an answer! After declaring in the
  strongest terms that Mr. Robinson had done him no more than justice in
  attributing to him “kind and liberal views toward our naturalized
  citizens,” he proceeds: “It is true that in a case of unusual
  excitement some years ago, when both parties complained of fraudulent
  practices in the naturalization of foreigners, and when there seemed
  to be danger that native and adopted citizens would be permanently
  arrayed against each other in hostile faction, _I was inclined to
  concur in the opinion then avowed by leading statesmen, that some
  modification of the naturalization laws might be necessary_, in order
  to prevent abuses, allay strife and restore harmony between the
  different classes of our people. But later experience and reflection
  have entirely removed this impression, and dissipated my

  The man who had warmly embraced Native Americanism so early as 1836,
  and had given it his enthusiastic support for twelve years
  thereafter—who next to Washington had claimed to be the founder of
  this “American excellence;” who, “fired with indignation,” had in
  conjunction with two friends in 1840, prepared an address in his
  parlor at the Astor House in New York, designed to rally an American
  party; who had, in 1844, hesitated between extending the period of
  residence before naturalization to fourteen years, and a total and
  absolute exclusion of all foreigners from the rights of citizenship
  forever, his mind inclining to the latter; who had in the same year
  elevated Hector Orr, the Native American printer, to the same level
  with our great revolutionary statesman and patriot, Benjamin
  Franklin—this same individual, in 1848, declares to Mr. Robinson, that
  he had formerly been merely “_inclined to concur in the opinion then
  avowed by leading statesmen_, that some modification of the
  naturalization laws might be necessary.”

  “Oh! what a fall was there, my countrymen!”

  And what caused this sudden, this almost miraculous change of opinion?
  Why, forsooth, in his recent campaign in Mexico, the Irish and the
  Germans had fought bravely in maintaining our flag in the face of
  every danger. But had they not fought with equal bravery throughout
  our revolutionary struggle, and throughout our last war with Great
  Britain? General Scott could not possibly have been ignorant of this
  fact. Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane both attest their gallant daring in
  defence of the stars and stripes of our country.

  The General now seems determined, if possible, to efface from the
  memory of man that he had ever been a Native American. His present
  devotion to our fellow-citizens of foreign birth knows no bounds. He
  is determined to enlist them under his banner, as he formerly enlisted
  the Anti-Masons and Native Americans.

  Official business, it seems, required him to visit the Blue Licks of
  Kentucky; but yet, it is passing strange, that he chose to proceed
  from Washington to that place by the circuitous route of the great
  Northern Lakes. This deviation from a direct military line between the
  point of his departure and that of his destination has enabled him to
  meet and address his fellow-citizens on the way, at Harrisburg,
  Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and other points both in
  Pennsylvania and Ohio. Should the published programme of his route be
  carried into effect, he will, on his return to Washington from the
  Blue Licks, pass through Buffalo, and throughout the entire length of
  the Empire State. Nobody, however, can for a single moment
  suspect—this would be uncharitable—that his visit to the small and
  insignificant States of Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, when merely
  on his way from Washington city to Kentucky could at this particular
  period have had any view to the Presidential election! Far be it from
  me to indulge such a suspicion; and yet it is strange that General
  Scott, throughout his whole route, speaks and acts just as General
  Scott would have done had he been on an electioneering tour. He has
  everywhere bestowed especial favor upon our adopted fellow-citizens;
  but at Cleveland he surpassed himself, and broke out into a rhapsody
  nearly as violent as that in which he had indulged in favor of Hector
  Orr, the Native American printer. At Cleveland, an honest Irishman in
  the crowd shouted a welcome to General Scott. Always ready to seize
  the propitious moment, the General instantly exclaimed: “I hear that
  rich brogue; I love to hear it. It makes me remember noble deeds of
  Irishmen, many of whom I have led to battle and to victory.” The
  General has yet to learn that my father’s countrymen, (I have ever
  felt proud of my descent from an Irishman,) though they sometimes do
  blarney others, are yet hard to be blarneyed themselves, especially
  out of their Democracy. The General, unless I am greatly mistaken,
  will discover that Irish Democrats, however much, in common with us
  all, they may admire his military exploits, will never abandon their
  political principles, and desert their party, for the sake of
  elevating him or any other Whig candidate to the Presidency.

  One other remark:—Were it within the limits of possibility to imagine,
  which it is not, that our Washingtons, our Jeffersons, or our
  Jacksons, could have set out on an electioneering tour for themselves,
  when candidates for the Presidency,—I ask, would they have met and
  addressed their fellow-citizens on such topics, and in such a style,
  as General Scott has selected? No! friends and fellow-citizens,
  gravity, solemnity, and the discussion of great questions of public
  policy, affecting the vital interests of the country, would have
  illustrated and marked their progress.

  General Scott, in his political opinions, is prone to extremes. Not
  content with having renounced Native Americanism, not satisfied to
  occupy the broad, just and liberal platform in favor of
  naturalization, on which the Democratic party have stood, ever since
  the origin of the Government, he leaves this far behind. In his
  letter, accepting the nomination of the Whig Convention, he declares
  himself in favor of such an alteration in our naturalization laws, as
  would admit foreigners to the rights of citizenship, who, in time of
  war, had served a single year in the army or navy. This manifests a
  strange, an unaccountable ignorance of the Federal Constitution. Did
  he not know that the power of Congress was confined to the
  establishment of “an uniform rule of naturalization?” “Uniform” is the
  word. Congress have no power to make exceptions in favor of any class
  of foreigners; no power to enact that one man shall be naturalized
  after a residence of a single year, and that another shall reside five
  years before he can attain this privilege. What uniformity would there
  be in requiring five years residence from the honest and industrious
  foreigner, who remains usefully employed at home, and in dispensing
  with this requisition in favor of the foreigner who has enlisted and
  served for one year in the army or navy? General Scott, in order to
  accomplish his object, must resort to a fourth amendment of the
  Constitution. He would make this sacred instrument a mere nose of wax,
  to be twisted, and turned, and bent in any direction which the opinion
  or caprice of the moment might dictate.

  After this review, I ask you, fellow-citizens, what confidence can be
  reposed in the political opinions of General Scott? Is there anything
  in them of that firm, stable, consistent and enlightened character
  which ought to distinguish the man into whose hands you are willing to
  entrust the civil destinies of our great, glorious and progressive
  country? What security have our adopted citizens that he may not
  to-morrow relapse into Native Americanism? For twelve long years, and
  this, too, at a period of life when the judgment ought to be mature,
  he remained faithful and true to the Native American party; giving it
  all the encouragement and support which his high character and
  influence could command; and he only deserted it in 1848, at the
  approach of the Whig National Convention. And what opinion must the
  Native Americans hold of the man, who, after having been so long one
  of their most ardent and enthusiastic leaders, abandoned them at the
  time of their utmost need? Above all, does Winfield Scott possess that
  calm and unerring judgment, that far-seeing sagacity, and that
  prudence, never to be thrown off its guard, which we ought to require
  in a President of the United States?

  That General Scott is a great military man, the people of this country
  will ever gratefully and cheerfully acknowledge. History teaches us,
  however, that but few men, whose profession has been arms and arms
  alone from early youth, have possessed the civil qualifications
  necessary wisely to govern a free people. Of this we have had some
  experience in the case of General Taylor, who was both an honest man
  and a pure patriot; but like General Scott, had always been a soldier
  and nothing but a soldier. It is true that a few favored mortals,
  emancipating themselves from the military fetters by which they had
  been bound, have displayed high talents as statesmen. Napoleon
  Bonaparte is the most remarkable example of this class; but his
  statesmanship was unfortunately displayed in the skill with which he
  forged fetters for his country.

  As an American citizen, proud of the military exploits of General
  Scott, I wish from my soul he had never become a candidate for the
  Presidency. The defects in his character as a statesman, which it has
  now become an imperative duty to present to the people of the country,
  would then have been forgotten and forever buried in oblivion. But for
  this, he would have gone down to posterity without a cloud upon his
  glory. And, even now, it is fortunate for his future fame, as well as
  for the best interests of his country, that he can never be elected
  President of the United States.

  A few words on the subject of General Scott’s connection with the Free
  Soilers, and I shall have done. And in the first place, let me say
  that I do not believe, and therefore shall not assert, that he is
  himself a Free Soiler. On the contrary, I freely admit we have
  satisfactory proof, that whilst the Compromise Measures were pending
  before Congress and afterwards, he expressed his approbation of them,
  but this only in private conversations among his friends. But was this
  all the country had a right to expect from General Scott?

  The dark and portentous cloud raised by the Abolitionists and
  fanatics, which had for many years been growing blacker and still
  blacker, at length seemed ready to burst upon our devoted heads,
  threatening to sweep away both the Constitution and the Union. The
  patriots of the land, both Whigs and Democrats, cordially united their
  efforts to avert the impending storm. At this crisis, it became the
  duty of every friend of the Union to proclaim his opinions boldly.
  This was not a moment for any patriot to envelop himself in mystery.
  Under such appalling circumstances, did it comport with the frankness
  of a soldier, for General Scott to remain silent; or merely to whisper
  his opinions to private friends from the South? A man of his elevated
  station and commanding influence ought to have thrown himself into the
  breach. But the Presidency was in view; and he was anxious to secure
  the votes of the Free Soil Whigs of the Seward school, in the National
  Convention. Mr. Fillmore, his competitor, had spoken out like a man in
  favor of the Compromise, and had thus done his duty to his country. He
  was, for this very reason, rejected by the Whig National Convention,
  and General Scott was nominated by the votes and influence of the
  Northern Free Soil Whigs.

  But the Northern Free Soilers had not quite sufficient strength to
  secure his nomination. To render this certain, it was necessary to
  enlist a small detachment of Southern Whig delegates. This task was
  easily accomplished. To attain his object, General Scott had merely to
  write a brief note to Mr. Archer.

  This was evidently not intended for the public eye, certainly not for
  the Free Soilers. It was, therefore, most reluctantly extracted from
  the breeches pocket of John M. Botts, and was read to the Convention,
  as we are informed, amid uproarious laughter. In this note, General
  Scott, with characteristic inconsistency, whilst declaring his
  determination to write nothing to the Convention, or any of its
  individual members, at this very moment, in the same note, does
  actually write to Mr. Archer, a member of the Convention, that should
  the honor of a nomination fall to his lot, he would give his views on
  the Compromise Measures in terms at least as strong in their favor, as
  those which he had read to Mr. Archer himself but two days before.
  This pledge which, on its face, was intended exclusively for Governor
  Jones, Mr. Botts, and Mr. Lee, etc., all of them Southern Whigs,
  proved sufficient to detach a small division of this wing of the party
  from Mr. Fillmore, and these, uniting with the whole body of the
  Northern Free Soilers, succeeded in nominating General Scott. After
  the nomination had been thus made, the General immediately proceeded
  to accept it, “with the resolutions annexed;” and one of these
  resolutions is in favor of the faithful execution of all the measures
  of the Compromise, including the Fugitive Slave Law.

  Now, fellow-citizens, I view the finality of the Compromise as
  necessary to the peace and preservation of the Union. I say finality;
  a word aptly coined for the occasion. The Fugitive Slave Law is all
  the South have obtained in this Compromise. It is a law founded both
  upon the letter and the spirit of the Constitution; and a similar law
  has existed on our statute book ever since the administration of
  George Washington. History teaches us that but for the provision in
  favor of the restoration of fugitive slaves, our present Constitution
  never would have existed. Think ye that the South will ever tamely
  surrender the Fugitive Slave Law to Northern fanatics and

  After all, then, the great political question to be decided by the
  people of the country is, will the election of Scott, or the election
  of Pierce, contribute most to maintain the finality of the Compromise
  and the peace and harmony of the Union?

  Scott’s Northern supporters spit upon and execrate the platform
  erected by the Whig National Convention. They support General Scott,
  not because of their adherence to this platform, but in spite of it.
  They have loudly expressed their determination to agitate the repeal
  of the Fugitive Slave Law, and thus bring back upon the country the
  dangerous excitement which preceded its passage. They will not suffer
  the country to enjoy peace and repose, nor permit the Southern States
  to manage their own domestic affairs, in their own way, without
  foreign interference.

  Who can doubt that these dangerous men will participate largely in the
  counsels of General Scott, and influence the measures of his
  administration? To them he owes his election, should he be elected. He
  is bound to them by the ties of gratitude. He is placed in a position
  where he would be more or less than a man, if he could withdraw
  himself from their influence. Indeed, he has informed us in advance,
  in the very act of accepting the nomination, that he would seek to
  cultivate harmony and fraternal sentiment throughout the Whig party,
  without attempting to reduce its numbers by proscription to exact
  conformity to his own views. What does this mean, if not to declare
  that the Free Soil Whigs of the North, and the Compromise Whigs of the
  South, shall share equally in the honors and offices of the
  Administration? In the North, where by far the greatest danger of
  agitation exists, the offices will be bestowed upon those Whigs who
  detest the Compromise, and who will exert all the influence which
  office confers, to abolish the Fugitive Slave Law. To this sad dilemma
  has General Scott been reduced.

  On the other hand, what will be our condition should General Pierce be
  elected? He will owe his election to the great Democratic party of the
  country,—a party truly national, which knows no North, no South, no
  East, and no West. They are everywhere devoted to the Constitution and
  the Union. They everywhere speak the same language. The finality of
  the Compromise, in all its parts, is everywhere an article of their
  political faith. Their candidate, General Pierce, has always openly
  avowed his sentiments on this subject.

  He could proudly declare, in accepting the nomination, that there has
  been no word nor act of his life in conflict with the platform adopted
  by the Democratic National Convention. Should he be elected, all the
  power and influence of his administration will be exerted to allay the
  dangerous spirit of fanaticism, and to render the Union and the
  Constitution immortal. Judge ye, then, between the two candidates, and
  decide for yourselves.

  And now, fellow-citizens, what a glorious party the Democratic party
  has ever been! Man is but the being of a summer’s day, whilst
  principles are eternal. The generations of mortals, one after the
  other, rise and sink and are forgotten; but the principles of
  Democracy, which we have inherited from our revolutionary fathers,
  will endure to bless mankind throughout all generations. Is there any
  Democrat within the sound of my voice—is there any Democrat throughout
  the broad limits of good and great old Democratic Pennsylvania, who
  will abandon these sacred principles for the sake of following in the
  train of a military conqueror, and shouting for the hero of Lundy’s
  Lane, Cerro Gordo, and Chapultepec?

              “Remember, O my friends! the laws, the rights,
              The gen’rous plan of power deliver’d down,
              From age to age, by your renown’d forefathers,
              So dearly bought, the price of so much blood;
              O! Let it never perish in your hands,
              But piously transmit it to your children.”

                              CHAPTER III.


The private correspondence between Mr. Buchanan and the new President,
General Pierce, and his Secretary of State, will best explain his
relations to this administration; and he has himself left a full record
of the circumstances under which he accepted the mission to England in
the summer of 1853.

                          [FROM GENERAL PIERCE.]

                                   CONCORD, N. H., November 1, 1852.


  Your kind letter of the 26th instant was received yesterday.

  Your conclusion as to attending the meeting at Tammany Hall was what I
  should have expected, marked by a nice sense of the fitness of things.

  The telegraphic despatches received late this evening would seem to
  remove all doubt as to the result of the election. Your signal part in
  the accomplishment of that result is acknowledged and appreciated by
  all. I hope to have the pleasure of meeting you at no distant day.

                                             Your friend,
                                                       FRANK PIERCE.

                          [FROM GENERAL PIERCE.]

                                    CONCORD, N. H, December 7, 1852.


  I have been hoping ever since the election that I might have a
  personal interview with you, if not before, certainly during the
  present month. But the objections to such a meeting suggested by you
  while I was at the sea-shore now exist, perhaps even with greater
  force than at that time. With our known pleasant personal relation a
  meeting would doubtless call forth many idle and annoying speculations
  and groundless surmises.

  An interchange of thoughts with Colonel King (whose returning health
  is a source of great joy to me) would also be peculiarly pleasant and
  profitable, but here, again, there are obstacles in the way. He cannot
  come North, and I cannot go to Washington. Communication by letter is
  still open. My thoughts for the last four weeks have been earnestly
  turned to the formation of a cabinet. And although I must in the end
  be responsible for the appointments, and consequently should follow my
  own well-considered convictions, I cannot help saying often to myself
  how agreeable it would be to compare conclusions upon this or that
  point with Mr. Buchanan. I do not mean to trouble you with the many
  matters of difficulty that evidently lie in my path. So far as I have
  been able to form an opinion as to public sentiment and reasonable
  public expectation, I think I am expected to call around me gentlemen
  who have not hitherto occupied cabinet position, and in view of the
  jealousies and embarrassments which environ any other course, this
  expectation is in accordance with my own judgment, a judgment
  strengthened by the impression that it is sanctioned by views
  expressed by you. Regarding you with the confidence of a friend, and
  appreciating your disinterested patriotism as well as your wide
  experience and comprehensive statesmanship, I trust you will deem it
  neither an intrusion nor annoyance when I ask your suggestions and

  If not mistaken in this, you will confer a great favor by writing me,
  as fully as you may deem proper, as to the launching (if I may so
  express myself) of the incoming administration, and more especially in
  regard to men and things in Pennsylvania. In relation to appointments
  requiring prompt action after the inauguration, I shall, as far as
  practicable, leave Concord with purposes definitely formed, and not
  likely to be changed.

  Should you deem that I ought not thus to tax you, burn the letter, but
  give me, as of yore, your good will and wishes.

  I shall regard, as you will of course, whatever passes between us as
  in the strictest sense confidential.

                                  Very truly, your friend,
                                                       FRANK PIERCE.

                    [MR. BUCHANAN TO GENERAL PIERCE.]

                       WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, December 11, 1852.


  Your favor of the 7th instant reached me last evening.

  You do me no more than justice in “regarding me with the free
  confidence of a friend,” and I can say in all sincerity that, both for
  your own sake and that of the country, I most ardently desire the
  success of your administration. Having asked my suggestions and advice
  “as to the launching of the incoming administration,” I shall
  cheerfully give it, with all the frankness of friendship.

  Your letter, I can assure you, has relieved me from no little personal
  anxiety. Had you offered me a seat in your cabinet one month ago,
  although highly gratified as I should have been with such a
  distinguished token of your confidence and regard, I would have
  declined it without a moment’s hesitation. Nothing short of an
  imperative and overruling sense of public duty could ever prevail upon
  me to pass another four years of my life in the laborious and
  responsible position which I formerly occupied. Within the past month,
  however, so many urgent appeals have been made to me from quarters
  entitled to the highest respect, to accept the State Department, if
  tendered, and this, too, as an act of public duty, in view of the
  present perplexed and embarrassing condition of our foreign relations,
  that in declining it, I should have been placed in an embarrassing
  position from which I have been happily relieved by your letter.

  But whilst I say this in all sincerity, I cannot assent to the
  correctness of the general principle you have adopted, to proscribe in
  advance the members of all former cabinets; nor do I concur with you
  in opinion, that either public sentiment or public expectation
  requires such a sweeping ostracism. I need scarcely, therefore, say
  that the impression which you have derived of my opinion in favor of
  this measure, from I know not whom, is without foundation. I should be
  most unjust towards my able, enlightened and patriotic associates in
  the cabinet of Mr. Polk, could I have entertained such an idea. So far
  from it that, were I the President elect, I should deem it almost
  indispensable to avail myself of the sound wisdom and experienced
  judgment of one or more members of that cabinet, to assist me in
  conducting the vast and complicated machinery of the Federal
  Government. Neither should I be diverted from this purpose by the
  senseless cry of “Old Fogyism” raised by “Young America.”

  I think the members of Mr. Polk’s cabinet should be placed upon the
  same level with the mass of their fellow-citizens, and neither in a
  better nor a worse condition. I am not aware that any of them, unless
  it may be Governor Marcy, either expects or desires a cabinet
  appointment; and certainly all of them will most cheerfully accord to
  you the perfect right of selecting the members of your own cabinet.
  Still, to be excluded from your consideration, merely because they had
  happened to belong to Mr. Polk’s cabinet, could not be very gratifying
  to any of them.

  To apply your own metaphor, “the launching of the incoming
  administration” will, perhaps, be a more important and responsible
  duty than has ever fallen to the lot of any of your predecessors. On
  the selection of the navigators to assist you in conducting the vessel
  of State, will mainly depend the success of the voyage. No matter how
  able or skilful the commander may be, and without flattery, I
  cheerfully accord to you both ability and skill, he can do but little
  without the aid of able and skilful subordinates. So firmly am I
  convinced of this truth, that I should not fear to predict the result
  of your administration as soon as I shall learn who are the members of
  your cabinet. In former times, when the Government was comparatively
  in its infancy, the President himself could supervise and direct all
  the measures of any importance arising under our complex but most
  excellent system of government. Not so at present. This would no
  longer be possible, even if the day consisted of forty-eight instead
  of twenty-four hours. Hence, from absolute necessity, the members of
  your administration will exercise much independent power. Even in
  regard to those questions submitted more directly to yourself, from
  want of time to make minute examinations of all the facts, you must
  necessarily rely much upon the representations of the appropriate
  Secretary. My strong and earnest advice to you, therefore, is not to
  constitute your cabinet with a view to harmonize the opposite and
  fleeting factions of the day; but solely with the higher and nobler
  view of promoting the great interests of the country and securing the
  glory and lasting fame of your own administration. You occupy a proud
  and independent position, and enjoy a popularity which will render any
  able and honest Democrat popular who may be honored by your choice for
  a cabinet station, provided they are properly distributed over the
  Union. In this respect, you are placed in a more enviable position
  than almost any of your predecessors. It was a maxim of old Simon
  Snyder, the shrewd and popular Governor of our State, that the very
  best man ought to be selected for the office, and if not popular at
  the moment, he would soon render himself popular. In view of these
  important considerations, I would earnestly recommend to you the
  practice of General Washington, never finally to decide an important
  question until the moment which required its decision had nearly

  I know that a state of suspense is annoying to the human mind; but it
  is better to submit to this annoyance for a season than to incur the
  risk of a more permanent and greater evil.

  You say that you will leave Concord “with purposes definitely formed
  and not likely to be changed.”

  But is Concord the best locality in the world for acquiring reliable
  information and taking extended views of our whole great country? To
  Boston I should never resort for this purpose. Pardon me for
  suggesting that you ought not to have your resolution definitely fixed
  until after your arrival in Washington. In that city, although you
  will find many interested and designing politicians, there are also
  pure, honest and disinterested Democratic patriots.

  Among this number is Colonel King, whom you so highly and justly
  commend. He is among the best, purest and most consistent public men I
  have ever known, and is also a sound judging and discreet counsellor.
  You might rely with implicit confidence upon his information,
  especially in regard to the Southern States, which I know are at the
  present moment tremblingly alive to the importance of your cabinet
  selections. I might cite the example of Mr. Polk. Although in council
  with General Jackson, he had early determined to offer me the State
  Department, yet no intimation of the kind was ever communicated to me
  until a short time before his arrival in Washington, and then only in
  an indirect manner; and in regard to all the other members of his
  cabinet, he was wholly uncommitted, until the time for making his
  selections had nearly approached.

  It is true, he had strong predilections in favor of individuals before
  he left Tennessee, but I do not think I hazard much in saying, that
  had these been indulged, his administration would not have occupied so
  high a place as it is destined to do in the history of his country.

  One opinion I must not fail to express; and this is that _the cabinet
  ought to be a unit_. I may say that this is not merely an opinion of
  mine, but a strong and deep conviction. It is as clear to my mind as
  any mathematical demonstration. Without unity no cabinet can be
  successful. General Jackson, penetrating as he was, did not discover
  this truth until compelled to dissolve his first cabinet on account of
  its heterogeneous and discordant materials. I undertake to predict
  that whoever may be the President, if he disregards this principle in
  the formation of his cabinet, he will have committed a fatal mistake.
  He who attempts to conciliate opposing factions by placing ardent and
  embittered representatives of each in his cabinet, will discover that
  he has only infused into these factions new vigor and power for
  mischief. Having other objects in view, distinct from the success and
  glory of the administration, they will be employed in strengthening
  the factions to which they belong, and in creating unfortunate
  divisions in Congress and throughout the country. It was a regard to
  this vital principle of unity in the formation of his cabinet which
  rendered Mr. Polk’s administration so successful. We were all personal
  and political friends, and worked together in harmony. However various
  our views might have been and often were upon any particular subject
  when entering the cabinet council, after mutual consultation and free
  discussion we never failed to agree at last, except on a very few
  questions, and on these the world never knew that we had differed.

  I have made these suggestions without a single selfish object. My
  purpose is to retire gradually, if possible, and gracefully from any
  active participation in public affairs, and to devote my time to do
  historical justice to the administration of Mr. Polk, as well as to
  myself, before the tribunal of posterity. I feel, notwithstanding, a
  deep and intense interest in the lasting triumph of the good old cause
  of Democracy and in that of its chosen standard bearer, to whose
  success I devoted myself with a hearty good will.

  The important domestic questions being now nearly all settled, the
  foreign affairs of the Government, and especially the question of
  Cuba, will occupy the most conspicuous place in your administration. I
  believe Cuba can be acquired by cession upon honorable terms, and I
  should not desire to acquire it in any other manner. The President who
  shall accomplish this object will render his name illustrious, and
  place it on the same level with that of his great predecessor, who
  gave Louisiana to the Union. The best means of acquiring it, in my
  opinion, is to enlist the active agency of the foreign creditors of
  Spain, who have a direct interest in its cession to the United States.
  The Rothschilds, the Barings, and other large capitalists now control,
  to a great extent, the monarchies of continental Europe. Besides,
  Queen Christina, who is very avaricious and exercises great influence
  over her daughter, the queen of Spain, and her court, has very large
  possessions in the island, the value of which would be greatly
  enhanced by its cession to the United States. Should you desire to
  acquire Cuba, the choice of suitable ministers to Spain, Naples,
  England and France will be very important. Mr. Fillmore committed a
  great outrage in publishing the Cuban correspondence. Had he, however,
  not suppressed a material portion of my instructions to Mr. Saunders,
  every candid man of all parties would have admitted, without
  hesitation, that under the then existing circumstances it was the
  imperative duty of Mr. Polk to offer to make the purchase. Indeed, I
  think myself, it was too long delayed.

  In my opinion, Mr. Clayton and Mr. Webster have involved our relations
  with England in serious difficulties by departing from the Monroe

  In Pennsylvania we have all been amused at the successive detachments
  of those whom we call guerillas, which have visited Concord to assure
  you that serious divisions exist among the Democracy of our State.
  There never was anything more unfounded. The party is now more
  thoroughly united than it has ever been at any period within my
  recollection. Whilst the contest continued between General Cass and
  myself, many honest Democrats, without a particle of personal or
  political hostility to me, preferred him and espoused his cause simply
  because he had been the defeated candidate. That feeling is at an end
  with the cause which gave it birth, and these honest Democrats as
  heartily despise the ——, the ——, the ——, the ——, the ——, the ——, etc.,
  etc., as do my oldest and best friends. In truth the guerillas are now
  chiefs without followers. They are at present attempting to galvanize
  themselves at home through the expected influence of your
  administration. Their tools, who will nearly all be applicants for
  office, circulate the most favorable accounts from Concord. They were
  scarcely heard of previous to the October election, which was the
  battle of the 23d December; but if we are to believe them, they
  achieved the victory of the 8th January. These are the men who
  defeated Judge —— at the election in October, 1851, by exciting
  Anti-Catholic prejudices against him, and who have always been
  disorganizers whenever their personal interests came in conflict with
  the success of the party. Thank Heaven, they are now altogether
  powerless, and will so remain unless your administration should impart
  to them renewed vigor. Their principal apprehension was that you might
  offer me a seat in your cabinet, but for some time past they have
  confidently boasted that their influence had already prevented this
  dreaded consummation.

  Their next assault will be upon my intimate friend, Judge ——, who
  will, I have no doubt, be strongly presented to you for a cabinet
  appointment. The Judge is able, honest and inflexibly firm, and did,
  to say the very least, as much as any individual in the State to
  secure our glorious triumph. I might speak in similar terms of ——. To
  defeat such men, they will lay hold of ——, Mr. ——, or any other
  individual less obnoxious to them, and make a merit of pressing him
  for a cabinet appointment from Pennsylvania.

  They calculate largely upon the influence of General Cass, who,
  strangely enough, is devoted to them, although their advocacy rendered
  it impossible that he should ever be nominated or elected by the vote
  of the State.

  As a private citizen, I shall take the liberty of recommending to you
  by letter, at the proper time, those whom I consider the best
  qualified candidates for different offices within our State, and you
  will pay such attention to my recommendations as you may think they
  deserve. I would not, if I could, exclude the honest friends of
  General Cass from a fair participation.... They are and always have
  been good Democrats, and are now my warm friends. But I shall ever
  protest against the appointment of any of the disorganizers who,
  professing Democracy, defeated Judge ——, and not content with
  advocating General Cass in preference to myself, which they had a
  perfect right to do, have spent their time and their money in abusing
  my personal character most foully and falsely.

  Even ——, the editor of the ——, whose paper was almost exclusively
  devoted to the propagation of these slanders, to be circulated under
  the frank of Senator —— throughout the South, for they had no
  influence at home, is a hopeful candidate for office, as they profess,
  under your administration.

  I have now, from a sense of duty, written you by far the longest
  letter I ever wrote in my life, and have unburdened my mind of a
  ponderous load. I have nothing more to add, except a request that you
  would present me kindly to Mrs. Pierce, and believe me to be always,
  most respectfully,

                                          Your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                    [GENERAL PIERCE TO MR. BUCHANAN.]

                                  CONCORD, N. H., December 14, 1852.


  Language fails me to express the sincere gratitude I feel for your
  kind and noble letter of the 11th inst. I cannot now reply as I ought,
  but lose no time in expressing my deep sense of obligation. I ought,
  in justice to the citizens of Pennsylvania who have visited Concord
  during the summer and autumn, to say that I do not recollect a single
  individual who has ventured to make a suggestion in relation to
  yourself, calculated in the slightest degree to weaken my personal

  It is far from my purpose to hasten to any conclusion in relation to
  my cabinet.

  It is hardly possible that I can be more deeply impressed than I now
  am as to the importance of the manner in which it shall be cast, both
  for the interests of the country and my own comfort. I cannot,
  however, view the advantages of my presence at Washington in the same
  light with yourself, though having no object but the best interests of
  our party and the country; personal inclination and convenience will,
  if I know it, have no weight upon my course in any particular.

  I must leave for a future time many things I desire to say. Do you
  still anticipate passing a portion of the winter at the South?

                          With sincere regard, your friend,
                                                       FRANK PIERCE.

                           [MARCY TO BUCHANAN.]

                                          WASHINGTON, March 5, 1853.


  If not a matter of strict duty, I choose to regard it as a proper
  thing to explain my movements to you. A few days after the late
  Presidential election, I went south with my son Edmund, about whose
  condition as to health I had become alarmed, and am still very
  solicitous. In the first week of February, he took a steamer for some
  of the West India Islands, and I concluded it to be my duty to return
  to my deserted family at Albany. I arrived at Richmond, Virginia,
  about the 20th of February, with a disposition to pass on to the North
  without going through Washington. As I had never done anything at that
  place for which I ought to be ashamed (or rather I thought I had not),
  it appeared to me it would be cowardly to run around or through it. I
  was very much inclined to go and perchance to stop there a few days.
  The doubts which distracted me in regard to my course were almost
  entirely removed by a letter from a person whom I had never seen,
  suggesting that it might be well for me to be in Washington about the
  20th ult. On my appearance there a rumor suddenly arose that I was
  certainly to be one of the new cabinet, and the same liberty was taken
  with the names of several other persons. I have heard in an
  unauthentic way that you had been wise enough to take precautions
  against such a use of your name. It is now generally believed here,
  and I believe it myself, that I may be in the cabinet of the incoming
  administration, and (to confess all) I have been weak enough to make
  up my mind to accept a seat if offered one in it. Should it be the
  place you filled with so much ability, I may be rash enough not to
  decline it. I have told you all; here I am and here I am likely to be,
  for a brief period at least.

  I do not think you will approve of what I have done. I hope you will
  not severely censure me, or the judgment which will put me where I
  expect to be. If it is an error, either on my part or that of another,
  there are some circumstances to excuse it, but I have not time to
  present them in detail.

  I hope to have a frank and free intercourse with you. I will go
  further, I hope to have—what I know I shall much need—the aid in some
  emergencies of your greater experience and better knowledge. It will
  give me sincere pleasure to hear from you.

                                              Yours truly,
                                                        W. L. MARCY.

On the 30th of March (1853), the President wrote to Mr. Buchanan and
requested him to accept the mission to England. In his reply, Mr.
Buchanan postponed a final answer, and what ensued appears from the
following detailed account, which remains in his hand-writing.

  Although gratified with this offer, I felt great reluctance in
  accepting it. Having consulted several friends, in whose judgment I
  have confidence, they all advised me to accept it, with a single
  exception (James L. Reynolds). I left Lancaster for Washington on
  Thursday, 7th April, wholly undecided as to my course. On Friday
  morning (8th April) I called upon the President, who invited me to
  dine with him “_en famille_” that day. The only strangers at the table
  were Mr. John Slidell and Mr. O’Conor. After the dinner was over the
  President invited me up to the library, where we held the following

  I commenced by expressing to him my warm and grateful acknowledgments
  for the offer of this most important mission, and said I should feel
  myself under the same obligations to him whether it was accepted or
  declined; that at my age, and contented and happy as I was at home, I
  felt no disposition to change my position, and again to subject myself
  to the ceremonious etiquette and round of gaiety required from a
  minister at a foreign court.

  Here the President interrupted me and said: “If this had been my only
  purpose in sending you abroad, I should never have offered you the
  mission. You know very well that we have several important questions
  to settle with England, and it is my intention that you shall settle
  them all in London. The country expects and requires your services as
  minister to London. You have had no competitor for this place, and
  when I presented your name to the cabinet they were unanimous. I think
  that under these circumstances I have a right to ask you to accept the

  To this I replied that Mr. Polk was a wise man, and after deliberation
  he had determined that all important questions with foreign nations
  should be settled in Washington, under his own immediate supervision;
  that he (President Pierce) had not, perhaps, seriously considered the

  He promptly replied that he had seriously considered the question, and
  had arrived at the conclusion that better terms could be obtained in
  London at the seat of power than through an intermediate agent in this
  country; and instanced the Oregon negotiation as an example.

  From this opinion I did not dissent, but asked: “What will Governor
  Marcy say to your determination? You have appointed him Secretary of
  State with my entire approbation; and I do not think he would be
  willing to surrender to your minister at London the settlement of
  these important questions, which might reflect so much honor upon

  He replied, with some apparent feeling, that he himself would control
  this matter.

  I interposed and said: “I know that you do; but I would not become the
  instrument of creating any unpleasant feelings between yourself and
  your Secretary of State by accepting the mission, even if I desired
  it, which is not the case.”

  He replied that he did not believe this would be the case. When he had
  mentioned my name to the cabinet, although he did not say in express
  terms I should be entrusted with the settlement of these questions,
  yet from the general tone of his remarks they must have inferred that
  such was his intention. He added, that after our interview he would
  address a note to Governor Marcy to call and see him, and after
  conversing with him on the subject he would send for me.

  I then mentioned to him that there appeared to me to be another
  insurmountable obstacle to my acceptance of the mission. I said: “In
  all your appointments for Pennsylvania, you have not yet selected a
  single individual for any office for which I recommended him. I have
  numerous other friends still behind who are applicants for foreign
  appointments; and if I were now to accept the mission to London, they
  might with justice say that I had appropriated the lion’s share to
  myself, and selfishly received it as an equivalent for their
  disappointment. I could not and would not place myself in this

  His answer was emphatic. He said: “I can assure you, if you accept the
  mission, Pennsylvania shall not receive one appointment more or less
  on that account. I shall consider yours as an appointment for the
  whole country; and I will not say that Pennsylvania shall not have
  more in case of your acceptance than if you should decline the
  mission.” I asked him if he was willing I should mention this
  conversation publicly. He said he would rather not; but that I might
  give the strongest assurances to my friends that such would be his
  course in regard to Pennsylvania appointments.

  We then had a conversation respecting the individual appointments
  already made in Pennsylvania, which I shall not write. He told me
  emphatically, that when he appointed Mr. Brown collector, he believed
  him to be my friend, and had received assurances to that effect;
  although he knew that I greatly preferred Governor Porter. He also had
  been assured that Wynkoop was my friend, and asked if I had not
  recommended him; and seemed much surprised when I informed him of the
  course he had pursued.

  I then stated, that if I should accept the mission, I could not
  consent to banish myself from my country for more than two years. He
  replied, that at the end of two years I might write to him for leave
  to return home, and it should be granted; adding, that if I should
  settle our important questions with England at an earlier period, I
  might return at the end of eighteen months, should I desire it.

  The interview ended, and I heard nothing from the President on Friday
  evening, Saturday or Sunday, or until Monday morning. In the mean
  time, I had several conversations with particular friends, and
  especially with Mr. Walker (at whose house I stayed), Judge Campbell
  and Senator Bright, all of whom urged me to accept the mission. The
  latter informed me that if I did not accept it, many would attribute
  my refusal to a fear or an unwillingness to grapple with the important
  and dangerous questions pending between the United States and Great

  On Sunday morning, April 10th, the _Washington Union_ was brought to
  Mr. Walker’s, from which it appeared that the session of the Senate
  would terminate on the next day at one o’clock, the President having
  informed the Committee to wait upon him, that he had no further
  communications to make to the body. At this I was gratified. I
  presumed that the President, after having consulted Governor Marcy,
  had concluded not to transfer the negotiations to London; because it
  had never occurred to me that I was to go abroad on such an important
  mission without the confirmation of the Senate. Mr. Walker and myself
  had some conversation on the subject, and we agreed that it was
  strange the Senate had been kept so long together without submitting
  to them the important foreign appointments; as we both knew that in
  Europe, and especially in England, since the rejection of Mr. Van
  Buren’s appointment, a minister had not the proper prestige without
  the approbation of the co-ordinate branch of the Executive power.

  On Sunday morning, before dinner-time, I called to see Jefferson
  Davis.[6] We had much conversation on many subjects. Among other
  things, I told him it was strange that the foreign appointments had
  not been agreed upon and submitted to the Senate before their
  adjournment. He replied that he did not see that this could make any
  difference; they might be made with more deliberation during the
  recess. I said a man was considered but half a minister, who went
  abroad upon the President’s appointment alone, without the consent of
  the Senate, ever since the rejection of Mr. Van Buren. He said he now
  saw this plainly; and asked why Marcy had not informed them of
  it,—they trusted to him in all such matters. The conversation then
  turned upon other subjects; but this interview with Mr. Davis, sought
  for the purpose of benefiting my friend, John Slidell, who was then a
  candidate for the Senate, has doubtless been the cause why I was
  nominated and confirmed as minister to England on the next day.

Footnote 6:

    Mr. Davis was Secretary of War.

  On Sunday evening a friend informed Mr. Walker and myself that a
  private message had been sent to the Senators still in town,
  requesting them not to leave by the cars on Monday morning, as the
  President had important business to submit to them. This was
  undoubtedly the origin of the rumor which at the time so extensively
  prevailed, that the cabinet was about to be dissolved and another

  On Monday morning, at ten o’clock, I received a note from Mr.
  Cushing,[7] informing me that “the President would be glad to see me
  at once.” I immediately repaired to the White House; and the President
  and myself agreed, referring to our former conversation, though not
  repeating it in detail, that he should send my name to the Senate. If
  a quorum were present, and I should be confirmed, I would go to
  England; if not, the matter was to be considered as ended.
  Thirty-three members were present, and I was confirmed. On this second
  occasion, our brief conversation was of the same character, so far as
  it proceeded, with that at our first interview. He kindly consented
  that I should select my own Secretary of Legation; and without a
  moment’s hesitation, I chose John Appleton, of Maine, who accepted the
  offer which I was authorized to make, and was appointed. I left
  Washington on Tuesday morning, April 12th.

Footnote 7:

    Attorney General.

  At our last interview, I informed the President that I would soon
  again return to Washington to prepare myself for the performance of my
  important duties, because this could only be satisfactorily done in
  the State Department. He said he wished to be more at leisure on my
  return, that he might converse with me freely on the questions
  involved in my mission; he thought that in about ten days the great
  pressure for office would relax, and he would address me a note
  inviting me to come.

  I left Washington perfectly satisfied, and resolved to use my best
  efforts to accomplish the objects of my mission. The time fixed upon
  for leaving the country was the 20th of June, so that I might relieve
  Mr. Ingersoll on the 1st of July.

  I had given James Keenan of Greensburg a strong recommendation for
  appointment as consul to Glasgow. As soon as he learned my appointment
  as minister to England, he wrote to me on the 14th of April, stating
  that the annunciation of my acceptance of this mission had created a
  belief among my friends there that no Pennsylvanian could now be
  appointed to any consulship.

  On the 16th of April, I wrote to him and assured him, in the language
  of the President, that my appointment to the English mission would not
  cause one appointment more or one appointment less to be given to
  Pennsylvania than if I had declined the mission.

  In answer, I received a letter from him, dated April 21st, in which he
  extracts from a letter from Mr. Drum, then in Washington, to him, the
  following: “I have talked to the President earnestly on the subject
  (of his appointment to Glasgow), but evidently without making much
  impression. He says that it will be impossible for him to bestow
  important consulships on Pennsylvania who has a cabinet officer and
  _the first and highest mission_. Campbell talks in the same strain;
  but says he will make it his business to get something worthy of your

  For some days before and after the receipt of this letter, I learned
  that different members of the cabinet, when urged for consulates for
  Pennsylvanians, had declared to the applicants and their friends that
  they could not be appointed _on account of my appointment to London_,
  and what the President had already done for the State. One notable
  instance of this kind occurred between Colonel Forney and Mr. Cushing.
  Not having heard from the President, according to his promise, I
  determined to go to Washington for the purpose of having an
  explanation with him and preparing myself for my mission. Accordingly,
  I left home on Tuesday, May 17th, and arrived in Washington on
  Wednesday morning, May 18th, remaining there until Tuesday morning,
  May 31st, on which day I returned home.

  On Thursday morning, May 19th, I met the President, by appointment, at
  9½ o’clock. Although he did not make a very clear explanation of his
  conversation with Mr. Drum, yet I left him satisfied that he would
  perform his promise in regard to Pennsylvania appointments. I had not
  been in Washington many days before I clearly discovered that the
  President and cabinet were intent upon his renomination and
  re-election. This I concluded from the general tendency of affairs, as
  well as from special communications to that effect from friends whom I
  shall not name. It was easy to perceive that the object in
  appointments was to raise up a Pierce party, wholly distinct from the
  former Buchanan, Cass, and Douglas parties; and I readily perceived,
  what I had before conjectured, the reason why my recommendations had
  proved of so little avail. I thought I also discovered considerable
  jealousy of Governor Marcy, who will probably cherish until the day of
  his death the anxious desire to become President. I was convinced of
  this jealousy at a dinner given Mr. Holmes, formerly of South
  Carolina, now of California, at Brown’s Hotel on Saturday, May 21st.
  Among the guests were Governor Marcy, Jefferson Davis, Mr. Dobbin, and
  Mr. Cushing. The company soon got into high good humor. In the course
  of the evening Mr. Davis began to jest with Governor Marcy and myself
  on the subject of the next Presidency, and the Governor appeared to
  relish the subject. After considerable _bagatelle_, I said I would
  make a speech. All wanted to hear my speech. I addressed Governor
  Marcy and said: “You and I ought to consider ourselves out of the list
  of candidates. We are both growing old, and it is a melancholy
  spectacle to see old men struggling in the political arena for the
  honors and offices of this world, as though it were to be their
  everlasting abode. Should you perform your duties as Secretary of
  State to the satisfaction of the country during the present
  Presidential term, and should I perform my duties in the same manner
  as minister to England, we ought both to be content to retire and
  leave the field to younger men. President Pierce is a young man, and
  should his administration prove to be advantageous to the country and
  honorable to himself, as I trust it will, there is no good reason why
  he should not be renominated and re-elected for a second term.” The
  Governor, to do him justice, appeared to take these remarks kindly and
  in good part, and said he was agreed. They were evidently very
  gratifying to Messrs. Davis, Dobbin, and Cushing. Besides, they
  expressed the real sentiments of my heart. When the dinner was ended,
  Messrs. Davis and Dobbin took my right and left arm and conducted me
  to my lodgings, expressing warm approbation of what I had said to
  Governor Marcy. I heard of this speech several times whilst I remained
  at Washington; and the President once alluded to it with evident
  satisfaction. It is certain that Governor Marcy is no favorite.

  I found the State Department in a wretched condition. Everything had
  been left by Mr. Webster topsy turvy; and Mr. Everett was not
  Secretary long enough to have it put in proper order; and whilst in
  that position he was constantly occupied with pressing and important
  business. Governor Marcy told me that he had not been able, since his
  appointment, to devote one single hour together to his proper official
  duties. His time had been constantly taken up with office-seekers and
  cabinet councils. It is certain that during Mr. Polk’s administration
  he had paid but little attention to our foreign affairs; and it is
  equally certain that he went into the Department without much
  knowledge of its appropriate duties. But he is a strong-minded and
  clear-headed man; and, although slow in his perceptions, is sound in
  his judgment. He may, and I trust will, succeed; but yet he has much
  to learn.

  Soon after I arrived in Washington on this visit, I began seriously to
  doubt whether the President would eventually entrust to me the
  settlement of the important questions at London, according to his
  promise, without which I should not have consented to go abroad. I
  discovered that the customary and necessary notice in such cases had
  not been given to the British government, of the President’s intention
  and desire to transfer the negotiations to London, and that I would go
  there with instructions and authority to settle all the questions
  between the two governments, and thus prepare them for the opening of
  these negotiations upon my arrival.

  After I had been in Washington some days, busily engaged in the State
  Department in preparing myself for the duties of my mission, Mr. Marcy
  showed me the project of a treaty which had nearly been completed by
  Mr. Everett and Mr. Crampton, the British minister, before Mr.
  Fillmore’s term had expired, creating reciprocal free trade in certain
  enumerated articles, between the United States and the British North
  American provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland, and regulating
  the fisheries. Mr. Marcy appeared anxious to conclude this treaty,
  though he did not say so in terms. He said that Mr. Crampton urged its
  conclusion; and he himself apprehended that if it were not concluded
  speedily, there would be great danger of collision between the two
  countries on the fishing grounds. I might have answered, but did not,
  that the treaty could not be ratified until after the meeting of the
  Senate in December; and that in the mean time it might be concluded at
  London in connection with the Central American questions. I did say
  that the great lever which would force the British government to do us
  justice in Central America was their anxious desire to obtain
  reciprocal free trade for their North American possessions, and thus
  preserve their allegiance and ward off the danger of their annexation
  to the United States. My communications on the extent and character of
  my mission were with the President himself, and not with Governor
  Marcy; and I was determined they should so remain. The President had
  informed me that he had, as he promised, conversed with the Governor,
  and found him entirely willing that I should have the settlement of
  the important questions at London.

  The circumstances to which I have referred appeared to me to be
  significant. I conversed with the President fully and freely on each
  of the three questions, viz: The reciprocal trade, the fisheries, and
  that of Central America; and endeavored to convince him of the
  necessity of settling them all together. He seemed to be strongly
  impressed with my remarks, and said that he had conversed with a
  Senator then in Washington, (I presume Mr. Toucey, though he did not
  mention the name,) who had informed him that he thought that the
  Senate would have great difficulty in ratifying any treaty which did
  not embrace all the subjects pending between us and England; and that
  for this very reason there had been considerable opposition in the
  body to the ratification of the Claims Convention, though in itself

  The President said nothing from which an inference could be fairly
  drawn that he had changed his mind as to the place where the
  negotiation should be conducted; and yet he did not speak in as strong
  and unequivocal terms on the subject as I could have desired. Under
  all the circumstances, I left Washington, on the 31st of May, without
  accepting my commission, which had been prepared for me and was in the
  State Department. On the 5th of June I received a letter from Governor
  Marcy, dated on the first, requesting me to put on paper my exposition
  of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. In this he says nothing about my
  instructions on any of the questions between this country and England,
  nor does he intimate that he desires my opinion for any particular
  purpose. On the 7th of June I answered his letter. In the concluding
  portion of my letter, I took the occasion to say: “The truth is that
  our relations with England are in a critical condition. Throw all the
  questions together into hotchpot, and I think they can all be settled
  amicably and honorably. The desire of Great Britain to establish free
  trade between the United States and her North American possessions,
  and by this means retain these possessions in their allegiance, may be
  used as the powerful lever to force her to abandon her pretensions in
  Central America; and yet it must be admitted that, in her history, she
  has never voluntarily abandoned any important commercial position on
  which she has once planted her foot. It cannot be her interest to go
  to war with us, and she must know that it is clearly her interest to
  settle all the questions between us, and have a smooth sea hereafter.
  If the Central American question, which is the dangerous question,
  should not be settled, we shall probably have war with England before
  the close of the present administration. Should she persist in her
  unjust and grasping policy on the North American continent and the
  adjacent islands, this will be inevitable at some future day; and
  although we are not very well prepared for it at the present moment,
  it is not probable that we shall for many years be in a better

  I also say in this letter to Governor Marcy, that “bad as the treaty
  (the Clayton and Bulwer treaty) is, the President cannot annul it.
  This would be beyond his power, and the attempt would startle the
  whole world. In one respect it may be employed to great advantage. The
  question of the Colony of the Bay of Islands is the dangerous
  question. It affects the national honor. From all the consideration I
  can give the subject, the establishment of this Colony is a clear
  violation of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. Under it we can insist
  upon the withdrawal of Great Britain from the Bay of Islands. Without
  it we could only interpose the Monroe doctrine against this colony,
  which has never yet been sanctioned by Congress, though as an
  individual citizen of the United States, I would fight for it
  to-morrow, so far as all North America is concerned, and would do my
  best to maintain it throughout South America.”

  This letter of mine to Governor Marcy, up till the present moment,
  June 25, has elicited no response. It may be seen at length in this

  Having at length determined to ascertain what were the President’s
  present intentions in regard to the character of my mission, I
  addressed him a letter, of which the following is a copy, on the 14th


 (Private.)                          WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, June 14,


  I have this moment received yours of the 11th instant, and now enclose
  you Mr. Appleton’s resignation. I cannot imagine how I neglected to do
  this before. It will be very difficult to supply his place.

  If you have changed your mind in regard to the place where our
  important negotiations with England shall be conducted, you would
  confer a great favor upon me by informing me of this immediately. I
  stated to you, in our first conversation on the subject, that Mr.
  Polk, after due deliberation, had determined that such negotiations
  should be conducted under his own eye at Washington; and it would not
  give me the slightest uneasiness to learn, that upon reconsideration,
  such had become your determination. I should, however, consider it a
  fatal policy to divide the questions. After a careful examination and
  study of all these questions, and their mutual bearings upon each
  other and upon the interest of the two countries, I am fully convinced
  that they can only be satisfactorily adjusted all together. Indeed,
  from what you said to me of your conversation with a Senator, and from
  what I have since learned, I believe it would be difficult to obtain
  the consent of two-thirds of the Senate to any partial treaty. The
  South, whether correctly or not, will probably be averse to a
  reciprocity treaty confined to the British North American possessions;
  and it would be easy for hostile demagogues to proclaim, however
  unjustly, that the interests of the South had been bartered away for
  the fisheries. But the South might and probably would be reconciled to
  such a treaty, if it embraced a final and satisfactory adjustment of
  the questions in Central America.

  If you have changed your mind, and I can imagine many reasons for
  this, independently of the pressure of the British minister to secure
  that which is so highly prized by his government,—then, I would
  respectfully suggest that you might inform Mr. Crampton, you are ready
  and willing to negotiate upon the subject of the fisheries and
  reciprocal trade; _but this in connection with our Central American
  difficulties_;—that you desire to put an end to all the embarrassing
  and dangerous questions between the two governments, and thus best
  promote the most friendly relations hereafter;—and that you will
  proceed immediately with the negotiation and bring it to as speedy a
  conclusion as possible, whenever he shall have received the necessary
  instructions. Indeed, the treaty in regard to reciprocal trade and the
  fisheries might, in the mean time, be perfected, with a distinct
  understanding, however, that its final execution should be postponed
  until the Central American questions had been adjusted. In that event,
  as I informed you when at Washington, if you should so desire, I shall
  be most cordially willing to go there as a private individual, and
  render you all the assistance in my power. I know as well as I live,
  that it would be vain for me to go to London to settle a question
  peculiarly distasteful to the British government, after they had
  obtained, at Washington, that which they so ardently desire.

  I write this actuated solely by a desire to serve your administration
  and the country. I shall not be mortified, in the slightest degree,
  should you determine to settle all the questions in Washington.
  Whether [you do so] or not, your administration shall not have a
  better friend in the country than myself, nor one more ardently
  desirous of its success; and I can render it far more essential
  service as a private citizen at home than as a minister to London.

  With my kindest regards for Mrs. Pierce, and Mrs. Means,

                   I remain, very respectfully, your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  P.S.—I should esteem it a personal favor to hear from you as soon as
  may be convenient.

From the important character of this letter and the earnest and
reiterated request which I made for an early answer, I did not doubt but
that I should receive one, giving me definite information, with as
little delay as possible. I waited in vain until the 23d June; and
having previously ascertained, through a friend, that my letter had been
received by the President, I wrote him a second letter on that day, of
which the following is a copy.


                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, June 23, 1853.


  Not having yet been honored with an answer to my letter of the 14th
  inst., I infer from your silence, as well as from what I observe in
  the public journals, that you have finally changed your original
  purpose and determined that our important negotiations with England
  shall be conducted under your own eye at Washington, and not in
  London. Anxious to relieve you from all embarrassment upon the
  subject, I desire to express my cordial concurrence in such an
  arrangement, if it has been made; and I do this without waiting longer
  for your answer, as the day is now near at hand which was named for my
  departure from the country.[8] Many strong reasons, I have no doubt,
  exist, to render this change of purpose entirely proper and most
  beneficial for the public interest. I am not at all surprised at it,
  having suggested to you, when we conversed upon the subject, that Mr.
  Polk, who was an able and a wise man, had determined that our
  important negotiations with foreign powers, so far as this was
  possible, should be conducted at Washington, by the Secretary of
  State, under his own immediate supervision. With such a change I shall
  be altogether satisfied, nay, personally gratified; because it will
  produce a corresponding change in my determination to accept the
  English mission.

  I never had the vanity to imagine that there were not many Democratic
  statesmen in the country who could settle our pending questions with
  England quite as ably and successfully as myself; and it was,
  therefore, solely your own voluntary and powerful appeal to me to
  undertake the task which could have overcome my strong repugnance to
  go abroad. Indeed, when I stated to you how irksome it would be for
  me, at my period of life and with my taste for retirement, again for
  the second time to pass through the routine and submit to the
  etiquette necessary in representing my country at a foreign court, you
  kindly remarked that you were so well convinced of this that you would
  never have offered me the mission had it not been for your deliberate
  determination that the negotiations on the grave and important
  questions between the two countries should be conducted by myself at
  London, under your instructions; observing that, in your opinion,
  better terms could be obtained for our country at the fountain of
  power than through the intermediate channel of the British minister at

  At any time a foreign mission would be distasteful to me; but peculiar
  reasons of a private and domestic character existed at the time I
  agreed to accept the British mission, and still exist, which could
  only have yielded to the striking view you presented of the high
  public duty which required me to undertake the settlement of these
  important questions. You will, therefore, be kind enough to permit me,
  in case your enlightened judgment has arrived at the conclusion that
  Washington, and not London, ought to be the seat of the negotiations,
  most respectfully to decline the mission. For this you have doubtless
  been prepared by my letter of the 14th instant.

  With my deep and grateful acknowledgments for the high honor you
  intended for me, and my ardent and sincere wishes for the success and
  glory of your administration and for your own individual health,
  prosperity and happiness, I remain, very respectfully,

                                           Your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

To this letter I received an answer on Tuesday evening, June 28th, of
which the following is a copy:

Footnote 8:

  9th July.

                   [PRESIDENT PIERCE TO MR. BUCHANAN.]

                                 WASHINGTON, D. C., June 26th, 1853.


  I was much surprised by the perusal of your letter of the 23d inst.,
  received this morning. I had seen no letter from you since that to
  which I replied on the 11th inst., and was mortified that through a
  mistake of my own, and from no neglect of my private secretary, it had
  been misplaced from a large mail of the 17th, with one or two other
  letters, and had thus entirely escaped my notice. The motives which
  led me to desire your acceptance of the mission to England were fully
  stated, first, I think, in my note addressed to you at Wheatland, and
  subsequently in our interview. The general views which were expressed
  by me at that interview as to the relative advantages of conducting
  the negotiations here or at London has undergone no change. Still, the
  present condition of affairs with respect to the fisheries and the
  various questions connected therewith has seemed to demand that they
  be taken up where Mr. Crampton and Mr. Everett left them. Recent
  developments have inspired the belief that the fisheries, the
  reciprocity question, etc. will leave no ground of concession which
  could be available in the settlement of the questions in Central
  America. The threatening aspect of affairs on the coast in the
  provinces has of necessity called for several conversations between
  Mr. Crampton and the Secretary of State, with a view to keep things
  quiet there, and, if practicable, to agree upon terms of a
  satisfactory adjustment. To suspend these negotiations at this moment,
  in the critical condition of our interests in that quarter, might, I
  fear, prove embarrassing, if not hazardous. That a treaty can be, or
  had better be, concluded here, I am not prepared to say. I have no
  wish upon the subject except that the negotiations be conducted
  wherever they can be brought to the most speedy and advantageous
  termination. The great respect for your judgment, experience, high
  attainments and eminent abilities, which led me to tender to you the
  mission to England, will induce me to commit to your hands all the
  pending questions between the two countries, unless the reasons for
  proceeding here with those to which I have referred, shall appear
  quite obvious. I need not say that your declination at this time would
  be embarrassing to me, and for many reasons a matter to be deeply

  I thank you for your generous expressions, and assure you that your
  heart acknowledges no feeling of personal kindness to which mine does
  not respond. If the tax be not too great, will you oblige me by
  visiting Washington again? I trust a comparison of conclusions, with
  the facts before us, may conduct to a result mutually satisfactory.

                      With the highest respect, your friend,
                                                    FRANKLIN PIERCE.

                   [MR. BUCHANAN TO PRESIDENT PIERCE.]

                         WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, June 29th, 1853.


  Your favor of the 26th inst. did not reach Lancaster until yesterday
  afternoon. I had thought it strange that you did not answer my letter
  of the 14th instant; but this accidental omission has been kindly and
  satisfactorily explained by your favor of the 26th.

  It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary for me to repeat my unchanged
  purpose to accept the English mission and go to London without delay,
  if it be still your determination to intrust me with the settlement of
  the reciprocity, the fishery and the Central American questions. I
  confess, however, that I do not perceive how it is now possible,
  employing your own language, “to suspend negotiations (in Washington)
  at this moment” on the reciprocity and fishery questions. I agree with
  you that it was quite natural that the negotiations “should be taken
  up at once, where Mr. Crampton and Mr. Everett left them.” This could
  only have been prevented by an official communication to Mr. Crampton,
  upon offering to renew the negotiation, informing him of the fact that
  you had appointed me minister to London for the very purpose of
  settling these, as well as the Central American, questions.

  In regard to our Central American difficulties, I still entertain,
  after more mature reflection, the most decided opinions—I might even
  say convictions. Whilst these difficulties are all embarrassing, one
  of them is attended with extreme danger. I refer to the establishment
  by Great Britain of the Colony of the Bay of Islands. This wrong has
  been perpetrated, if I understand the question, in direct violation of
  the Clayton and Bulwer treaty. Our national honor imperatively
  requires the removal of this colony. Its withdrawal ought to be a sine
  qua non in any negotiation on any subject with the British government.
  With what face could we ever hereafter present this question of
  violated faith and outraged national honor to the world against the
  British government, if whilst, flagrante delicto, the wrong
  unexplained and unredressed, we should incorporate the British North
  American provinces, by treaty, into the American Union, so far as
  reciprocal free trade is concerned? How could we, then, under any
  circumstances, make this a casus belli? If a man has wronged and
  insulted me, and I take him into my family and bestow upon him the
  privileges of one of its members, without previous redress or
  explanation, it is then too late to turn round and make the original
  offence a serious cause for personal hostilities. It is the first step
  which costs; and this ought to be taken with a clear view of all the
  consequences. If I were placed in your exalted and well merited
  station, my motto should be, “all the questions or none.” This is the
  best, nay, perhaps the only mode of satisfactorily adjusting our
  difficulties with that haughty, overreaching and imperious government.
  My sole object in agreeing to accept a mission, so distasteful to me
  in all other respects, was to try the experiment, under your
  instructions, well knowing that I should receive from you a firm and
  enlightened support. I still cherish the confident belief we should
  have proved successful. It would now seem to be too late to transfer
  the negotiation to London; but you may still insist that _all_ the
  questions shall be settled together in Washington. They still remain
  there just as they were in Mr. Fillmore’s time. Why, then, should Mr.
  Crampton have received instructions in two of them, and not in the

  But I have said and written so much to yourself and Governor Marcy
  upon the danger of dividing these questions, that I shall only add
  that, were I a Senator, I could not in conscience vote for the
  ratification of any partial treaty in the present condition of our
  relations with Great Britain. And here I would beg respectfully to
  make a suggestion which, if approved by you, might remove all
  difficulties. Let Governor Marcy and Mr. Crampton arrange the
  reciprocity and fishery questions as speedily as possible; and then
  let me carry the perfected projet with me to London, to be executed
  there, provided I shall succeed in adjusting the Central American
  questions according to your instructions; but in no other event. In
  this manner the reciprocity question, as arranged by the Secretary of
  State, might still be used as the powerful lever to force a just
  settlement of the Central American questions. Indeed, in communicating
  your purpose in this respect to Mr. Crampton, Governor Marcy might
  address him a note which would essentially assist me in the Central
  American negotiation. As the reciprocity and fishery treaty would not
  be submitted to the Senate until December, this arrangement would be
  productive of no delay.

  I should cheerfully visit Washington, or go a thousand miles to serve
  you in any manner, but I doubt whether this would be good policy under
  existing circumstances. The public journals would at once announce
  that I had arrived in Washington to receive my commission and
  instructions, and depart for Europe. Finding this not to be the case,
  they would presume that some misunderstanding had occurred between you
  and myself, which prevented me from going abroad. Is it not better to
  avoid such suspicions? If I should not go to England, a brief
  explanation can be made in the _Union_ which will put all right, and
  the whole matter will be forgotten in a week. After all, however,
  should you still wish me to go to Washington, please to have me
  telegraphed, because the mail is almost always two, and sometimes
  three days in reaching me.

  In regard to myself personally, if the expedient which I have
  suggested should not be adopted, or something similar to it, then I
  should have no business of importance to transact in London, and
  should, against all my tastes and inclinations, again subject myself
  to the ceremonies, etiquette and round of gaiety required from a
  minister at a foreign court. But this is not all. I should violate my
  private and social duties towards an only brother, in very delicate
  health, and numerous young relatives, some of whom are entirely
  dependent upon me and now at a critical period of life, without the
  self-justification of having any important public duties to perform.
  So reluctant was I, at the first, to undertake the task which, in your
  kindness, you had prescribed for me, that my mind was not finally made
  up, until a distinguished Senator bluntly informed me, that if I
  shrank from it, this would be attributed to a fear of grappling with
  the important and dangerous questions with England which had been
  assigned to me, both by the voice of the President and the country.

  I regret that I have not time, before the closing of the mail, to
  reduce my letter to any reasonable dimensions.

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Wednesday, July 6th, at about 6 o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Mann, the
son of the Assistant Secretary of State, arrives and presents me with a
private letter from Governor Marcy dated on the day previous, and a
sealed package which, upon opening, I found contained my commission and
instructions as minister to Great Britain, without the slightest
reference to the previous correspondence on the subject between the
President and myself, and just as though I had accepted, instead of
having declined the mission, and was now on the wing for London! He was
to find me wherever I might be. He left about sunset or between that and
dark. _Vide_ Governor Marcy’s letter, on page 30.

Thursday morning, July 7, the following letter from the President came
to hand, postmarked Washington, July 4th.

                          [PIERCE TO BUCHANAN.]

                                           WASHINGTON, July 2, 1853.


  Your letter of the 29th ultimo was received this morning, and I have
  carefully considered its suggestions. The state of the questions now
  under discussion between Mr. Crampton and Governor Marcy cannot with a
  proper regard for the public interest, be suspended. It is not to be
  disguised that the condition of things on the coast is extremely
  embarrassing, so much so as to be the source of daily solicitude.
  Nothing, it is to be feared, but the prospect of a speedy adjustment
  will prevent actual collision. Mr. Crampton has become so deeply
  impressed with the hazard of any ill-advised step on either side that
  he left this morning with the view of having a personal interview with
  Sir George Seymour. Thus, while I am not prepared to say that a treaty
  can be concluded here, or that it will prove desirable upon the whole
  that it should be, it is quite clear to my mind that the negotiations
  ought not to be broken off; and that, with a proper regard to our
  interests, the announcement cannot be made to Mr. Crampton that the
  final adjustment of the fishery question must await the settlement of
  the Central American questions. Believing that the instructions now
  prepared would present my views in relation to the mission in the most
  satisfactory manner, they will be forwarded to you to-morrow. I need
  not repeat the deep regret your declination would occasion on my part.
  What explanation could be given for it, I am unable to perceive.

                  I am, with the highest respect,
                                          Truly your friend,
                                                    FRANKLIN PIERCE.

                          [BUCHANAN TO PIERCE.]

                            WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, July 7, 1853.


  Yours of the 2d inst., postmarked on the 4th, did not reach me until
  this morning at too late an hour to prepare and send an answer to
  Lancaster in time for the southern mail. Young Mr. Mann arrived and
  left last evening, a _most decided contre-temps_. Had your letter
  preceded him, this would have saved me some labor, and, although a
  very placid man, some irritation.

  Although the opinions and purposes expressed in my letters of the
  14th, 23d and 29th ultimo remain unchanged, yet so great is my
  personal desire to gratify your wishes that I shall take the question
  under reconsideration for a brief period. I observe from the papers
  that you will be in Philadelphia, where I anticipate the pleasure of
  paying you my respects. Then, if not sooner, I shall give your letter
  a definite answer.

  I hope that in the meantime you may look out for some better man to
  take my place. You may rest assured I can manifest my warm friendship
  for your administration and for yourself far more effectively as a
  private citizen of Pennsylvania than as a public minister in London.

                        From your friend,
                                       Very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                           [MARCY TO BUCHANAN.]

                                                     STATE DEPARTMENT, }
 (Private)                                   WASHINGTON, July 5, 1853. }


  I expected you would be again in Washington before you left for
  England, but as this is uncertain, I have concluded to send by the
  bearer, Mr. W. G. C. Mann, the instructions which have been
  prepared for you. I have preferred to send them in this way lest
  they should not reach you in season if entrusted to the mail.

  I should have been pleased with an opportunity of submitting them
  to you, and having the benefit of any suggestions you might make
  thereon; but I shall not have it, as you will not probably be here
  before your departure on your mission. The instructions have been
  carefully examined by the President, and made conformable to his
  views. Should there be other documents than those now sent, which
  it would be proper for you to take out, they will be forwarded to
  our despatch agent at New York, and by him handed to you.

                       Very respectfully your obedient servant,
                                                        W. L. MARCY.

  On Monday evening, July 11, 1853, I went to Philadelphia to meet
  the President, according to my appointment. I saw him on Tuesday
  afternoon at the head of the military procession, as it marched
  from Market Street down Sixth to Independence Hall. He was on the
  right of General Patterson, and being a good horseman, he appeared
  to much advantage on horseback. He recognized me, as he rode
  along, at the window of the second story of Lebo’s Commercial

  The reception of the President in Philadelphia was all that his
  best friends could have desired. Indeed, the Whigs seemed to vie
  with the Democrats in doing honor to the Chief Magistrate. Price
  Wetherell, the President of the Select Council, did his whole
  duty, though in a fussy manner, and was much gratified with the
  well-deserved compliments which he received. The dinner at
  McKibbins’ was excellent and well conducted. We did not sit down
  to table until nearly nine o’clock. The mayor, Mr. Gilpin,
  presided. The President sat on his right, and myself on his left.
  In the course of the entertainment he spoke to me, behind Mr.
  Gilpin, and strongly expressed the hope that I would accept the
  mission, to which I made a friendly, but indefinite answer. He
  then expressed a desire to see me when the dinner should be ended;
  but it was kept up until nearly midnight, the President cordially
  participating in the hilarity of the scene. We then agreed to meet
  the next morning.

  After mature reflection, I had determined to reject the mission,
  if I found this could be done without danger of an open breach
  with the administration; but if this could not be done, I was
  resolved to accept it, however disagreeable. The advice of
  Governor Porter, then at McKibbins’, gave me confidence in the
  correctness of my own judgment. My position was awkward and
  embarrassing. There was danger that it might be said (indeed it
  had already been insinuated in several public journals), that I
  had selfishly thrown up the mission, because the fishery question
  had not been entrusted to me, although I knew that actual
  collision between the two countries on the fishery grounds might
  be the consequence of the transfer of the negotiation to London.
  Such a statement could only be rebutted by the publication of the
  correspondence between the President and myself; but as this was
  altogether private, such a publication could only be justified in
  a case of extreme necessity.

  Besides, I had no reason to believe that the President had taken
  from me the reciprocity and fishery questions with any deliberate
  purpose of doing me injury. On the contrary, I have but little
  doubt that this proceeded from his apprehension that the
  suspension of the negotiation might produce dangerous consequences
  on the fishing grounds. I might add that his instructions to me on
  the Central American questions were as full and ample as I could
  desire. Many friends believed, _not without reason_, that if I
  should decline the mission, Mr. Dallas would be appointed; and
  this idea was very distasteful to them, though not to myself.

  The following is the substance of the conversation between the
  President and myself on Wednesday morning, the 13th of July,
  partly at McKibbins’, and the remainder on board the steamer which
  took us across to Camden. It was interrupted by the proceedings at
  Independence Hall on Wednesday morning.

  The President commenced the conversation by the expression of his
  strong wish that I would not decline the mission. I observed that
  the British government had imposed an absurd construction on the
  fishery question, and without notice had suddenly sent a fleet
  there to enforce it, for the purpose, as I believed, of obtaining
  from us the reciprocity treaty. Under these circumstances I should
  have said to Great Britain: You shall have the treaty, but you
  must consent at the same time to withdraw your protectorate from
  the Mosquito Coast, and restore to Honduras the colony of the Bay
  of Islands. That this course might still be adopted at Washington,
  and that in this view all the negotiations had better be conducted
  there. Without answering these remarks specifically, the
  President, reiterating his request that I should accept the
  mission, spoke strongly of the danger of any delay, on our part,
  in the adjustment of the fishery question, and said that Mr.
  Crampton, deeply impressed with this danger, had gone all the way
  to Halifax to see Admiral Seymour, for the purpose of averting
  this danger. I observed that it was far, very far from my desire,
  in the present state of the negotiation, to have charge of the
  fishery negotiation at London; but still insisted that it was best
  that the Central American questions should also be settled at
  Washington. To this he expressed a decided aversion. He said that
  serious difficulties had arisen, in the progress of the
  negotiations, on the reciprocity question, particularly in regard
  to the reciprocal registry of the vessels of the two parties; and
  it was probable that within a short time the negotiation on all
  the questions would be transferred to me at London, and that my
  declining the mission at this time would be very embarrassing to
  his administration, and could not be satisfactorily explained. I
  replied that I thought it could. It might be stated in the _Union_
  that after my agreement to accept the mission, circumstances had
  arisen rendering it necessary that the negotiations with which I
  was to be entrusted at London, should be conducted at Washington;
  that I myself was fully convinced of this necessity; but that this
  change had produced a corresponding change in my determination to
  accept a mission which I had always been reluctant to accept, and
  we had parted on the best and most friendly terms. Something like
  this, I thought, would be satisfactory.

  He answered that after such an explanation it would be difficult,
  if not impossible, to get a suitable person to undertake the
  mission. He had felt it to be his duty to offer me this important
  mission, and he thought it was my duty to accept it. He said that
  if the Central American questions should go wrong in London,
  entrusted to other hands than my own, both he and I would be
  seriously blamed. He said, with much apparent feeling, that he
  felt reluctant to insist thus upon my acceptance of a mission so
  distasteful to me.

  Having fully ascertained, as I believed, that I could not decline
  the mission without giving him serious offence, and without danger
  of an open rupture with the administration, I said: “Reluctant as
  I am to accept the mission, if you think that my refusal to accept
  it would cause serious embarrassment to your administration, which
  I am anxious to support, I will waive my objections and go to
  London.” He instantly replied that he was rejoiced that I had come
  to this conclusion, and that we should both feel greatly the
  better for having done our respective duties. He added that I need
  not hurry my departure. I told him that although my instructions
  gave me all the powers I could desire on the Central American
  questions, yet they had not been accompanied by any of the papers
  and documents in the Department relating to these questions; that
  these were indispensable, and without them I could not proceed. He
  expressed some surprise at this, and said he would write to
  Governor Marcy that very evening. I told him he need not trouble
  himself to do this, as I should write to him myself immediately
  after my return home.

  This was on the river. I accompanied him to the cars, where I took
  leave of him, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Davis and Mr. Cushing, who all
  pressed me very much to go on with them to New York.

                     [TO CITIZENS OF LANCASTER.]

                           WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, July 23, 1853.


  I have received your very kind invitation on behalf of my friends
  and neighbors, to partake of a public dinner before my departure
  for England.

  No event of my past life has afforded me greater satisfaction than
  this invitation, proceeding as it does, without distinction of
  party, from those who have known me the longest and known me the

  Born in a neighboring county, I cast my lot among you when little
  more than eighteen years of age, and have now enjoyed a happy home
  with you for more than forty-three years, except the intervals
  which I have passed in the public service. During this long period
  I have experienced more personal kindness, both from yourselves
  and from your fathers, than has, perhaps, ever been extended to
  any other man in Pennsylvania who has taken so active a part, as I
  have done, in the exciting political struggles which have so
  peculiarly marked this portion of our history.

  It was both my purpose and desire to pass the remainder of my days
  in kind and friendly social intercourse with the friends of my
  youth and of my riper years, when invited by the President of my
  choice, under circumstances which a sense of duty rendered
  irresistible, to accept the mission to London. This purpose is now
  postponed, not changed. It is my intention to carry it into
  execution, should a kind Providence prolong my days and restore me
  to my native land.

  I am truly sorry not to be able to accept your invitation. Such
  are my engagements, that I can appoint no day for the dinner when
  I could, with certainty, promise to attend. Besides, a farewell
  dinner is at best but a melancholy affair. Should I live to
  return, we shall then meet with joy, and should it then be your
  pleasure to offer me a welcome home dinner, I shall accept it with
  all my heart.

  I cherish the confident hope that during my absence I shall live
  in your kindly recollection, as my friends in Lancaster County
  shall ever live in my grateful memory.

  Cordially wishing you and yours, under the blessing of Heaven,
  health, prosperity and happiness, I remain

                          Your friend and fellow-citizen,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Here, in regard to this English mission and other matters, Mr.
Buchanan’s correspondence with his niece, Miss Lane, from February
to August, 1853, will show how tender and how important had now
become their relations to each other.

                           [TO MISS LANE.]

                            WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, Feb. 3, 1853.


  I have passed the time quietly at home since I left Philadelphia,
  toiling night and day, to reduce the pile of letters which had
  accumulated during my absence. I have got nearly through and
  intend to pass some days in Harrisburg next week. I have literally
  no news to communicate to you. Miss Hetty and myself get along to
  a charm. She expects Miss Rebecca Parker here to-day,—the promise
  of Mr. Van Dyke. I hope she may come.

  I received a letter yesterday from Mr. Pleasanton, dated on the
  31st ultimo, from which the following is an extract:

  “Clemmy wrote some two weeks ago to Miss Harriet asking her to
  come here and spend some time with us. As she has not heard from
  her, she supposes Miss Lane to be absent. Be good enough to
  mention this to her, and our united wish that she should spend the
  residue of the winter and the spring with us. There is much gaiety
  here now, though we do not partake of it. We will contrive,
  however, that Miss Lane shall participate in it.”

  Now do as you please about visiting Washington. I hope you are
  enjoying yourself in Philadelphia. Please to let me know where you
  have been, what you have been doing, and what you propose to do. I
  trust you will take good care of yourself, and always act under
  the influence of high moral principle and a grateful sense of your
  responsibility to your Creator.

                                     Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                          [FROM MISS LANE.]

                                         PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 6, 1853.


  I still continue to enjoy myself here, and have made many more
  acquaintances than I have ever had the opportunity of doing
  before. Lent commencing this week may in some degree affect the
  pleasures of society, but of that, as yet, we cannot judge. As
  regards Washington, I understand perfectly that, as far as you
  yourself are concerned, you wish me to do as I feel inclined, but
  your disinterested opinions are rather for a postponement of my
  visit; these I had quietly resolved to act upon. Should you have
  changed your mind or have any advice to give, let me know it at
  once, for rest assured I am always happier and better satisfied
  with myself when my actions are fully sanctioned by your wishes.

  The day after you left we had an elegant dinner at Mrs.
  Gilpin’s—many, many were the regrets that you were not present.
  Mr. —— treated me with marked attention—drank wine with me first
  at table—talked a great deal of you, and thinks you treated him
  shabbily last summer by passing so near without stopping to see
  him. I tell you these things, as I think they show a desire on his
  part to meet you. —— was there, very quiet. How I longed for you
  to eclipse them all, and be, as you always are, the life and soul
  of the dinner. Thursday Mrs. John Cadwallader’s magnificent ball
  came off. I enjoyed it exceedingly, and was treated most kindly.
  James Henry received an invitation to it, but did not go. He has
  returned to Princeton full of studious resolves.

  I found my engagements such as to make it impossible for me to go
  to Mrs. Tyler’s last week. I arranged everything satisfactorily to
  all parties, and go there to stay to-morrow (Monday). Every
  possible kindness has been shown me by Mr. and Mrs. Plitt, and my
  visit to them has been delightful.

  Mary Anderson remained here but a week on her return from
  Washington. I passed a day with them very pleasantly......

  No news from Mary yet. I miss her every hour in the day, but will
  scarcely be able to count my loss, until I get home where I have
  always been accustomed to see her. I had a letter from Lizzie
  Porter telling me of her aunt’s death. My best love to Miss Hetty.
  Mrs. Plitt sends her love. Hoping to hear from you very soon,
  believe me ever, my dear uncle,

                                   Your sincerely affectionate

                           [TO MISS LANE.]

                          WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, March 15, 1853.


  I received yours of the 11th, postmarked the 14th, last night. I
  now receive about fifty letters per day; last Saturday sixty-nine;
  and the cry is still they come, so that I must be brief. I labor
  day and night.

  You ask: Will you accept the mission to England? I answer that it
  has not been offered, and I have not the least reason to believe,
  from any authentic source, that it will be offered. Indeed, I am
  almost certain that it will not, because surely General Pierce
  would not nominate me to the Senate without first asking me
  whether I would accept. Should the offer be made, I know not what
  I might conclude. Personally, I have not the least desire to go
  abroad as a foreign minister. But “sufficient unto the day is the
  evil thereof.” I really would not know where to leave you, were I
  to accept a foreign mission, and this would be one serious

  I think you are wise in going to Mr. Macalester’s. You know how
  much I esteem and admire Mrs. Tyler, but still a long visit to a
  friend is often a great bore. Never make people twice glad. I have
  not seen Kate Reynolds since her return, and have had no time to
  see any person.

  In remarking as I did upon your composition, I was far from
  intending to convey the idea that you should write your letters as
  you would a formal address. Stiffness in a letter is intolerable.
  Its perfection is to write as you would converse. Still all this
  may be done with correctness. Your ideas are well expressed, and
  the principal fault I found was in your not making distinct
  periods, or full stops, as the old schoolmasters used to say. Miss
  ——’s are probably written with too much care,—too much precision.

  We have no news. We are jogging on in the old John Trot style, and
  get along in great peace and harmony.

                                                     March 19, 1853.

  I return you Mr. ——’s appeal, so that you may have it before you
  in preparing your answer. The whole matter is supremely
  ridiculous. I have no more reason to believe than I had when I
  last wrote, that I shall be offered the mission to England. Should
  his offer be made, it will be a matter of grave and serious
  consideration whether I shall accept or decline it. I have not
  determined this question. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil
  thereof.” Should it be accepted, it will be on the express
  condition that I shall have liberty to choose my own Secretary of
  Legation; and from the specimen of diplomacy which Mr. —— has
  presented, I think I may venture to say he will not be the man. I
  would select some able, industrious, hard working friend, in whose
  integrity and prudence I could place entire reliance. In fact, I
  have the man now in my eye, from a distant State, to whom I would
  make the offer—a gentleman trained by myself in the State
  Department. I must have a man of business, and not a carpet
  knight, who would go abroad to cut a dash.

  Now you may say to Mr. —— that I know nothing of the intention of
  the President to offer me the English mission, and that you are
  equally ignorant whether I would accept or decline it (and this
  you may say with truth, for I do not know myself). If accepted,
  however, you presume that I would cast about among my numerous
  friends for the best man for the appointment; and whatever your
  own wishes might be, you would not venture to interfere in the
  matter; that you took no part in such matters. This ought to be
  the substance of your letter, which you may smooth over with as
  many honeyed phrases as you please.

  I think that a visit to Europe, with me as minister, would spoil
  you outright, Besides, it would consume your little independence.
  One grave objection to my acceptance of the mission, for which I
  have no personal inclination, would be your situation. I should
  dislike to leave you behind, in the care of any person I know. I
  think there is a decided improvement in your last letter. Your
  great fault was that your sentences ran into each other, without
  proper periods.

  Good night! I cannot say how many letters I have written to-day.
  Thank Heaven! to-morrow will be a day of rest. I do not now expect
  to visit Pittsburgh until after the first of April, though I have
  a pecuniary concern there of some importance.

  With my kindest regards to Miss Macalester and the family, I
  remain, etc.

                                                     STATE DEPARTMENT, }
                                             WASHINGTON, May 24, 1853. }

  I have received your letter, and have not written until the
  present moment because I did not know what to write. It is now
  determined that I shall leave New York on Saturday, 9th July. I
  cannot fix the day I shall be at home, because I am determined not
  to leave this until posted up thoroughly on the duties of the
  mission. I hope, however, I may be with you in the early part of
  next week. I am hard at work.

  I went from Willard’s to Mr. Pleasanton’s last evening. Laura and
  Clemmie are well, and would, I have no doubt, send their love to
  you if they knew I was writing. I have seen but few of the
  fashionables, but have been overrun with visitors.

  Remember me kindly to Miss Hetty and to James, and believe me to
  be, etc.

                                           NEW YORK, August 4, 1853.

  —— —— called to see me this morning, and was particularly amiable.
  He talked much of what his father had written and said to him
  respecting yourself, expressed a great desire to see you, and we
  talked much bagatelle about you. He intimated that his father had
  advised him to address you. I told him he would make a very
  rebellious nephew, and would be hard to manage. He asked where you
  would be this winter, and I told him that you would visit your
  relations in Virginia in the course of a month, and might probably
  come to London next spring or summer. He said he would certainly
  see you, and asked me for a letter of introduction to you, which I
  promised to give him. As he was leaving, he told me not to forget
  it, but give it to the proprietor of the Astor House before I
  left, and I promised to do so. I told him that you had appreciated
  his father’s kindness to you, felt honored and gratified for his
  (the father’s) attentions, and admired him very much. He knew all
  about your pleasant intercourse with his father in Philadelphia.
  There was much other talk which I considered, and still consider,
  to be bagatelle, yet the subject was pursued by him. As I have a
  leisure moment, I thought I would prepare you for an interview
  with him, in case you should meet. —— —— is a man of rare
  abilities and great wit, and is quite eminent in his profession.
  His political course has been eccentric, but he still maintains
  his influence. I never saw him look so well as he did to-day. I
  repeat that I believe all this to be bagatelle; and yet it seemed
  to be mingled with a strong desire to see you.

                                         Saturday Morning, August 6.

  ...... And now, my dear Harriet, I shall go aboard the Atlantic
  this morning, with a firm determination to do my duty, and without
  any unpleasant apprehensions of the result. Relying upon that
  gracious Being who has protected me all my life until the present
  moment, and has strewed my path with blessings, I go abroad once
  more in the service of my country, with fair hopes of success. I
  shall drop you a line from Liverpool immediately upon my arrival.

  With my kindest regards to Miss Hetty, I remain,

                                    Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                              CHAPTER IV.


The reader has seen with what reluctance and for what special
purpose Mr. Buchanan accepted the mission to England. He left New
York on the 1st of August, 1853, and landed at Liverpool on the
17th, whence he wrote immediately to his niece; and I follow his
first letter to her with four others, extending to the middle of

                           [TO MISS LANE.]

                          ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, August 17, 1853.


  I arrived in Liverpool this morning, after a passage of about ten
  days and sixteen hours. I was sea-sick the whole voyage, but not
  nearly so badly as I had anticipated, or as I was in going to and
  returning from Russia. Captain James West, of Philadelphia, the
  commander of the Atlantic, is one of the most accomplished and
  vigilant officers and one of the most kind and amiable men I have
  ever known. I never wish to cross the Atlantic in any but a vessel
  commanded by him. We did not see the sun rise or set during the
  whole voyage. The weather was either rainy or cloudy throughout,
  but many of the passengers were agreeable. Upon arriving here I
  found Mr. Lawrence, who came from London to receive me. It is my
  purpose to accompany him to London to-morrow, where I shall at
  first stay at the Clarendon Hotel. I do not yet know whether I
  shall take, or rather whether I can obtain, Mr. Ingersoll’s house
  or not. I thought I would have to remain here some days to
  recruit; but I had scarcely got upon land before I felt perfectly
  well, and have enjoyed my dinner very much—the first meal for
  which I felt any appetite since I left New York. I shall write to
  you again as soon as I am settled at London, or probably sooner.

  Although I left Wheatland with regret and a heavy heart, yet I am
  resigned to my destiny, and shall enter upon the performance of my
  duties, with God’s blessing, in a determined and cheerful spirit.

  I received your letter in New York. I had not supposed there was
  any thing serious in Lily’s apprehensions.

  In the midst of calls and engagements, I have not time to write
  you a longer letter. Please to keep an eye on Eskridge and James
  Reynolds, as you promised.

  Give my affectionate regard to Miss Hetty and Eskridge, and
  remember me to all my friends. In haste, I remain your
  affectionate uncle, etc.

                                          LONDON, August 26th, 1853.

  I have received your letter written a few days after my departure
  from New York, which is mislaid for the moment, and it afforded me
  great pleasure. It is the only letter which I have yet received
  from the United States.

  I was presented to the queen at Osborne, in the Isle of Wight, on
  Tuesday last, by the Earl of Clarendon, and delivered her my
  letter of credence. She has not many personal charms, but is
  gracious and dignified in her manners, and her character is
  without blemish. The interview was brief. Mr. Ingersoll,[9] who
  accompanied me to take his leave, and myself lunched at the palace
  with Lord Clarendon and several of the attachés of royalty. His
  conduct towards me is all I could have desired; and Miss Wilcox is
  a very nice girl.[10] They will pay a short visit to France and
  the continent, and return to the United States in October.

Footnote 9:

    His predecessor.

Footnote 10:

    Niece of Mr. Ingersoll.

  You have lost nothing by not coming to England with me. Parliament
  adjourned on last Saturday, and this was the signal for the
  nobility and gentry to go to their estates in the country. There
  they will remain until next February, and in the mean time London
  will be very dull. All gaiety in town is at an end, and has been
  transferred to the estates and country seats throughout the

  I have not yet procured a house, but hope to do so next week. I
  have just paid my bill for the first week at this hotel. I have
  two rooms and a chamber, have had no company to dine and have
  dined at home but three days, and the amount is £14 7s. 6d., equal
  to nearly $75.00.

  It is my desire to see you happily married, because, should I be
  called away, your situation would not be agreeable. Still you
  would have plenty. Whilst these are my sentiments, however, I
  desire that you shall exercise your own deliberate judgment in the
  choice of a husband. View steadily all the consequences, ask the
  guidance of Heaven, and make up your own mind, and I shall be
  satisfied. A competent independence is a good thing, if it can be
  obtained with proper affection; though I should not care for
  fortune provided the man of your choice was in a thriving and
  profitable business and possessed a high and fair character. I had
  not supposed there was any thing serious in the conversation;
  certainly none of your relatives can interpose any just objection.
  Be, however, fully persuaded in your own mind, and act after due
  reflection; and may God guide you!

  It will require some time to reconcile me to this climate. We have
  none of the bright and glorious sun and the clear blue sky of the
  United States; but neither have we the scorching heat, nor the
  mosquitos. I have slept comfortably under a blanket ever since I
  have been here, and almost every man you meet carries an umbrella.
  The winters, however, are not cold.

  Society is in a most artificial position. It is almost impossible
  for an untitled individual who does not occupy an official
  position to enter the charmed circle. The richest and most
  influential merchants and bankers are carefully excluded. It is
  true, as we learned, that the niece of a minister at the head of
  his establishment does not enjoy his rank. At a dinner party, for
  example, whilst he goes to the head of the table, she must remain
  at or near the foot. Still, Miss Wilcox has made her way to much
  consideration, admiration and respect.

  The rage which seems to pervade the people of the United States
  for visiting Europe is wonderful. It takes up much time at the
  legation to issue passports. London, however, is but a stopping
  place. They generally rush to Paris and the continent; and this,
  too, wisely, I have no doubt. I would not myself tarry at London
  longer than to see the sights. My promise to you shall be kept
  inviolate; and yet I have no doubt a visit to Europe with an
  agreeable party would be far more instructive and satisfactory to
  you than to remain for any considerable length of time with me in
  London. I thank my stars that you did not come with me, for you
  would have had a dreary time of it for the next six months.

  But the despatches are to be prepared and the despatch bag must
  close at five o’clock for the steamer of to-morrow. I have time to
  write no more, but to assure you that I am always your
  affectionate uncle, etc.

                                                 September 15, 1853.

  On the day before yesterday I received your kind letter of the
  28th August, with a letter from Mary, which I have already
  answered. How rejoiced I am that she is contented and happy in San
  Francisco! I also received your favor of the 18th August in due
  time. I write to you this evening because I have important
  despatches to prepare for the Department to-morrow, to be sent by
  Saturday’s steamer.

  How rejoiced I am that you did not come with me! Perceiving your
  anxiety, I was several times on the point of saying to you, come
  along; but you would see nearly as much fashionable society at
  Wheatland as you would see here until February or March next. You
  cannot conceive how dull it is, though personally I am content.
  The _beau monde_ are all at their country-seats or on the
  continent, there to remain until the meeting of Parliament. But
  what is worse than all, I have not yet been able to procure a
  house in which I would consent to live. I have looked at a great
  many,—the houses of the nobility and gentry; but the furniture in
  all of them is old, decayed and wretched, and with very few
  exceptions, they are _very, very dirty_. I can account for this in
  no other manner than that they are not willing to rent them until
  the furniture is worn out, and that London is for them like a
  great watering place from about the first of March until the first
  of August. This hotel, which is the most fashionable in London, is
  not nearly equal to the first hotels in Philadelphia and New York,
  and yet the cost of living in it, with two rooms and a chamber, is
  about $90 per week. The enormous expense [here] and the superior
  attractions [there] drive all the American travellers to Paris and
  the continent. The _London Times_ has taken up the subject, and is
  now daily comparing the superior cheapness and superior
  accommodations of the hotels in the United States with those of
  London. Here there are no _table-d’hôtes_, and the house may be
  full without your knowing who is in it.

  I think I have a treasure in the servant (Jackson) I brought with
  me from New York. If he should only hold out, he is all I could

  Mr. Welsh surpasses my expectations as a man of business. Colonel
  Lawrence, the attaché without pay, is industrious, gentlemanly,
  and has been highly useful. He knows everybody, and works as
  though he received $10,000 per annum. I venture to say I have as
  able and useful a legation as any in London. Lawrence has gone to
  Scotland, in company with Miss Chapman and her father, and I think
  he is much pleased with her. In truth, she is a nice girl and very
  handsome. The Chapmans will return immediately to the United

  The Marchioness of Wellesley is suffering from the dropsy, and
  she, with her sister, Lady Stafford, remained a few days at this
  house. I saw a good deal of them whilst they were here, and they
  have been very kind to me. They love to talk about America, and
  they yet appear to have genuine American hearts. Lady Wellesley
  lives at Hampton Court,—the old historic palace, about fifteen
  miles from London, erected by Cardinal Wolsey, and I am going
  there to dine with them and see the palace on Saturday...... The
  Duchess of Leeds is in Scotland. These three American girls have
  had a strange fate. Many of their sex have envied them, but I
  think without cause. They are all childless, and would, I verily
  believe, have been more happy had they been united to independent
  gentlemen in their own country.

  It is impossible to conceive of a more elegant and accomplished
  lady than Lady Wellesley, and although bowed down by disease, she
  still retains the relics of her former beauty. Her younger sister,
  Betsy Caton (Lady Stafford), the belle of belles in her day in
  America, has become gross and does not retain a trace of her good
  looks, except a cheerful and animated countenance. She is
  evidently a fine woman, and very much a Catholic devotee. They are
  all widows, except the Duchess of Leeds.

  Rank, rank is everything in this country. My old friend of twenty
  years ago, Mrs. ——, the wife of the partner of the great House of
  ——, and then a nice little Yankee woman, who had never been at
  court, continually talks to me now about the duchess of this and
  the countess of that, and the queen, lords and ladies afford her a
  constant theme. Her daughter, and only child, who will be
  immensely rich, is the wife of ——, and this has given her a lift.
  She is still, however, the same good kind-hearted woman she was in
  the ancient time; but has grown very large. They are now at their
  country-seat at ——, her husband’s business preventing her from
  going far away. I have now nearly finished my sheet. I have not
  yet had time to see any of the lions. God bless you! Remember me
  kindly to Mrs. Hunter. I have written to Clemmie since I have been

                                  From your affectionate uncle, etc.

                                                 September 30, 1853.

  I have a few minutes to spare before the despatch bag closes and I
  devote them to writing a line to you. I have received your very
  kind and acceptable letter of the 14th September from Charleston,
  and cordially thank you for the agreeable and interesting
  information which it contains.

  I have not yet obtained a house. It seems impossible to procure
  one, in every respect suitable for myself and the legation, for
  less than $3500 to $4500. The expense of living in this country
  exceeds even what I had anticipated...... I shall preserve my
  hotel bills as curiosities.

  I did not suppose that your name had reached thus far. I dined the
  other day at Hampton Court with Ladies Wellesley and Stafford. Mr.
  and Mrs. Woodville of Baltimore were present. Mrs. Woodville said
  she did not know you herself, but her youngest son was well
  acquainted with you and spoke of you in the highest terms. I found
  she had previously been saying pretty things of you to the two

  I shrewdly suspect that Miss Chapman has made a conquest of
  Colonel Lawrence. He went off with her and her father on a visit
  to Scotland, and I shall not be much surprised if it should be a
  match, though I know nothing. The colonel is quite deaf which is
  very much against him.

  She is delighted with her travels, is very handsome, and has a
  great deal of vivacity...... Upon the whole I was much pleased
  with her.

  I am sorry I have not time to write you a longer letter. Remember
  me very kindly to our friends in Virginia. May God bless you!

                                     Yours very affectionately, etc.

                                                   October 14, 1853.

  I have received yours of the 28th ultimo. I did not think I would
  write to you by to-morrow’s steamer, but have a few minutes left
  before the closing of the bag. I am sorry, truly sorry, that you
  look upon your trip to England as “the future realization of a
  beautiful dream.” Like all other dreams you will be disappointed
  in the reality. I have never yet met an American gentleman or lady
  who, whatever they may profess, was pleased with London. They
  hurry off to Paris, as speedily as possible, unless they have
  business to detain them here. A proud American, who feels himself
  equal at home to the best, does not like to be shut out by an
  impassable barrier from the best or rather the highest society in
  this country. My official position will enable me to surmount this
  barrier, but I feel that it will only be officially. Neither my
  political antecedents nor the public business entrusted to my
  charge will make me a favorite with these people, and I shall
  never play toady to them.[11] It is true I know very few of them
  as yet. They are all in the country, or on the continent, where
  they will continue until the opening of the spring. They pass the
  spring and part of the summer in London, just reversing the order
  in our country.

  I do not think well of your going to Philadelphia to learn
  French...... Clementina Pleasanton writes me that they will do all
  they can to instruct you in speaking that language. You will be
  far better with them than at a French boarding house in

  I saw Mr. and Mrs. Haines, Lily’s friends, last evening. They left
  Paris about a week ago. She gave a glowing description of the
  delights of that city; but said she would be almost tempted to
  commit suicide, should she be compelled to remain long in London.
  When you write to Lily please to give her my love. Remember me
  very kindly to Mr. Davenport and your relatives, and believe me
  ever to be,

                                      Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Footnote 11:

  This anticipation was not realized. He became a great “favorite”
  in English society, without any effort beyond the exercise of his
  social gifts, in a natural way.

It was just twenty years since, on his return from St. Petersburg,
Mr. Buchanan had passed a short time in England, and made the
acquaintance of some of the public men of that period. This was in
the latter part of the reign of King William IV. In 1853, Queen
Victoria had been on the throne for sixteen years, and the reign was
a very different one from that of her immediate predecessor. The
cabinet was a coalition ministry, and was described by a sort of
nick-name as the “Ministry of all the talents.” It broke down rather
disastrously and suddenly while Mr. Buchanan was in England, but on
his arrival it seemed to have a long lease of power. Lord Aberdeen
was the Premier; Mr. Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Lord
Palmerston (out of his proper element), was at the head of the Home
Department; Lord Clarendon was Foreign Secretary; the Duke of
Newcastle was Secretary for the Colonies; Mr. Sidney Herbert,
Secretary at War; Lord John Russell was the ministerial leader of
the House of Commons. The other members of the ministry were: Lord
Cranworth, Lord Chancellor; Earl Granville, President of the
Council; the Marquis of Lansdowne, without office; the Duke of
Argyle, Lord Privy Seal; Sir James Graham, First Lord of the
Admiralty; Sir Charles Wood, President of the Board of Control; Sir
William Molesworth, First Commissioner of Public Works. In point of
personal ability and character, this was a strong ministry. It went
to pieces in 1855, in consequence of its want of capacity to conduct
a foreign war, for which neither Lord Aberdeen nor Mr. Gladstone had
any stomach, originally; for which the Duke of Newcastle, who had
become Secretary at War, although an excellent man, had not the
requisite force; and which should, in fact, have been under the
guidance of Lord Palmerston, if there was to be a war with such a
power as Russia, in conjunction with such an ally as Louis Napoleon.
But when Mr. Buchanan came to London, the Crimean war was a good way
in the distance, and it seemed not improbable that he would have a
clear field for the settlement of the questions which had brought
him to England.

It will strike the reader, however, oddly enough, after perusing the
grave account which Mr. Buchanan has given of his reasons for
accepting the mission, and the nature of the topics on which he was
to negotiate, that while the conferences were going on between him
and Lord Clarendon on the subjects which had brought him to London,
he had to encounter a question of court etiquette. The story would
hardly be worth repetition now, if it were not for the amusing
_finale_ of the whole affair. It may be introduced with a little

On the accession of Queen Victoria, at the early age of eighteen,
the Duke of Wellington is said to have drily remarked, that the
Tories would have little chance under a female sovereign, since he
had no small-talk and Peel had no manners.[12] The Tories did not
find it so in the sequel, for although, when the Whigs had to go out
of power, in 1841, and the Queen had to part with her first official
advisers, it cost her a rather severe personal struggle,—inasmuch as
she is said to have written a very unconstitutional note to her old
friend, Lord Melbourne, lamenting that “the sad, the too sad day has
come at last,”[13]—yet, so wise and faithful had been the political
education which that minister had given to his young sovereign, that
at the very first necessity she gracefully yielded her personal
feelings to her public duty, and made it certain that personal
government, independent of the will of Parliament, had passed away
forever from the public affairs of England. From that time forward,
it seems to have been the accepted doctrine of the British
constitution, that the sovereign is not merely a state pageant, but
is a magistrate raised above the feelings or interests of party,
with a function to perform in the State, which comprehends the right
to be consulted on every question or measure, to offer advice, and
to give a real as well as a formal assent, although bound at all
times to receive as ministers those who can command the confidence
for the time being of the House of Commons. And well and wisely has
the woman whose reign has now extended to the very unusual period of
forty-six years fulfilled this function of a constitutional
sovereign. But her Majesty has long had the reputation of being very
rigid in matters of court etiquette and ceremonial. The truth
probably is, that at the commencement of her reign, the necessity
for giving to the manners of the court a very different tone from
that which had existed in the time of the late king, her uncle,—a
necessity which coincided with her tastes as a lady, and her sense
of what was becoming in her position,—had brought about a good deal
that was regarded by strangers, and by some of her own subjects, as
an unnecessary observance of punctilio. The officials of the court,
whose duty it was to attend to these matters, very likely carried
them farther than the queen’s wishes or commands required. At all
events, the sequel of Mr. Buchanan’s little affair of what dress he
should wear at the queen’s receptions, does not show that her
Majesty attached quite so much importance to it as did her master of

Footnote 12:

  Mr. Justin McCarthy is responsible for this anecdote. “History of
  our own Times.” Vol. I.

Footnote 13:

  This anecdote is given on private authority.

Governor Marcy, our Secretary of State, was a man of great vigor of
intellect, and for all the important duties of his position an
uncommonly wise and able statesman. But his intercourse with the
world, aside from American politics, had not been extensive. He had
thought proper to issue a circular to the ministers of the United
States in Europe, directing them to appear at the courts to which
they were accredited, “in the simple dress of an American citizen.”
What this might be, in all cases, was not very clear. Our ministers
at foreign courts had hitherto, on occasions of ceremony, worn a
simple uniform, directed for them by the Department, which, whatever
may have been its merits or its demerits as a costume, was
sufficient to distinguish the wearer from “one of the upper court
servants.” All this was now to be changed, and our ministers were to
go to court in the dress of “an American citizen,” unless it should
appear that non-conformity with the customs of the country would
materially impair the proper discharge of their duties. In Mr.
Buchanan’s case, “the simple dress of an American citizen” was an
affair of very easy determination. He wore at all times the kind of
dress in which his figure appears in the frontispiece of the present
volume; and his personal dignity was quite sufficient to make that
dress appropriate anywhere. Although he was a democrat of democrats,
and cared little for show of any kind, he was accustomed to pay that
deference to the usages of society which a gentleman is always
anxious to observe, and to which no one knew better than he how to
accommodate himself. He was the last man in the world to attach
undue importance to trifles, and it may well be supposed he was
annoyed, when he found rather suddenly that the circular of the
Secretary was about to cause a serious difficulty in regard to his
position at the British court. The first intimation he had of this
difficulty is described in a despatch which he wrote to Mr. Marcy on
the 28th of October.

      No. 13.

                           LEGATION, ETC., LONDON, October 28, 1853.


  I deem it proper, however distasteful the subject may be, both to
  you and myself, to relate to you a conversation which I had on
  Tuesday last with Major-General Sir Edward Cust, the master of
  ceremonies at this court, concerning my court costume. I met him
  at the Traveller’s Club, and after an introduction, your circular
  on this subject became the topic of conversation. He expressed
  much opposition to my appearance at court “in the simple dress of
  an American citizen.” I said that such was the wish of my own
  Government and I intended to conform to it, unless the queen
  herself would intimate her desire that I should appear in costume.
  In that event, I should feel inclined to comply with her majesty’s
  wishes. He said that her majesty would not object to receive me at
  court in any dress I chose to put on; but whilst he had no
  authority to speak for her, he yet did not doubt it would be
  disagreeable to her if I did not conform to the established usage.
  He said I could not of course expect to be invited to court balls
  or court dinners where all appeared in costumes; that her majesty
  never invited the bishops to balls, not deeming it compatible with
  their character; but she invited them to concerts, and on these
  occasions, as a court dress was not required, I would also be
  invited. He grew warm by talking, and said that, whilst the queen
  herself would make no objections to my appearance at court in any
  dress I thought proper, yet the people of England would consider
  it _presumption_. I became somewhat indignant in my turn, and said
  that whilst I entertained the highest respect for her majesty, and
  desired to treat her with the deference which was eminently her
  due, yet it would not make the slightest difference to me,
  individually, whether I ever appeared at court.

  He stated that in this country an invitation from the queen was
  considered a command.

  I paid no attention to this remark, but observed that the rules of
  etiquette at the British court were more strict even than in
  Russia. Senator Douglas of the United States had just returned
  from St. Petersburg. When invited to visit the czar in costume, he
  informed Count Nesselrode that he could not thus appear. The count
  asked him in what dress he appeared before the President of the
  United States. Mr. Douglas answered in the dress he then wore. The
  count, after consulting the emperor, said that was sufficient, and
  in this plain dress he visited the emperor at the palace and on
  parade, and had most agreeable conversations with him on both

  Sir Edward then expressed his gratification at having thus met me
  accidentally,—said he had just come to town for that day and
  should leave the next morning, but would soon do himself the honor
  of calling upon me.

  Although he disclaimed speaking by the authority of the queen, yet
  it appeared both to myself and Colonel Lawrence, who was present,
  that they must have had some conversation in the court circle on
  the subject. I entertain this belief the more firmly, as Sir
  Edward has since talked to a member of this legation in the same

  So then, from present appearances, it is probable I shall be
  placed socially in Coventry on this question of dress, because it
  is certain that should her majesty not invite the American
  minister to her balls and dinners, he will not be invited to the
  balls and dinners of her courtiers. This will be to me,
  personally, a matter of not the least importance, but it may
  deprive me of the opportunity of cultivating friendly and social
  relations with the ministers and other courtiers which I might
  render available for the purpose of obtaining important
  information and promoting the success of my mission.

  I am exceedingly anxious to appear “at court in the simple dress
  of an American citizen;” and this not only because it accords with
  my own taste, but because it is certain that if the minister to
  the court of St. James should appear in uniform, your circular
  will become a dead letter in regard to most, if not all, the other
  ministers and chargés of our country in Europe.

  The difficulty in the present case is greatly enhanced by the fact
  that the sovereign is a lady, and the devotion of her subjects
  towards her partakes of a mingled feeling of loyalty and
  gallantry. Any conduct, therefore, on my part which would look
  like disrespect towards her personally could not fail to give
  great offence to the British people. Should it prove to be
  impossible for me to conform to the suggestions of the circular,
  in regard to dress “without detriment to the public interest,” and
  “without impairing my usefulness to my country,” then I shall
  certainly and cheerfully be guided by its earnest recommendation
  and “adopt the nearest approach to it compatible with the due
  performance of my public duties.” This course I pursued from
  choice whilst minister in Russia, and this course I should have
  pursued here without any instructions.

                                 Yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

We next get some reference to the dress question in the following
letter to Miss Lane:

                                           LONDON, December 9, 1853.


  I received your favor of the 14th ultimo in due time, and thank
  you for the information it contained, all of which was interesting
  to me.

  In regard to your coming to London with Colonel Lawrence and his
  lady, should he be married in February next, I have this to say:
  Your passage at that season of the year would, unless by a happy
  accident, be stormy and disagreeable, though not dangerous. I have
  scarcely yet recovered from the effects of the voyage, and should
  you be as bad a sailor as myself, and have a rough passage, it
  might give your constitution a shock. The month of April would be
  a much more agreeable period to cross the Atlantic; and you would
  still arrive here in time for the most fashionable and longer part
  of the fashionable season.

  It is my duty to inform you that a general conviction prevails
  here, on the part of Lord Palmerston, the secretary of the
  interior, and the distinguished physicians, as well as among the
  intelligent people, that the cholera will be very bad in London
  and other parts of England during the latter part of the next
  summer and throughout the autumn. They are now making extensive
  preparations, and adopting extensive sanitary measures to render
  the mortality as small as possible. The London journals contain
  articles on the subject almost every day. Their reason for this
  conviction is,—that we have just had about as many cases of
  cholera during the past autumn, as there were during the autumn in
  a former year, preceding the season when it raged so extensively
  and violently. Now this question will be for your own
  consideration. I think it my duty to state the facts, and it will
  be for you to decide whether you will postpone your visit until
  the end of the next autumn for this reason, or at least until we
  shall see whether the gloomy anticipations here are likely to be

  I still anticipate difficulty about my costume; but should this
  occur, it will probably continue throughout my mission. It is,
  therefore, no valid reason why you should postpone your visit. In
  that event you must be prepared to share my fate. So far as
  regards the consequences to myself, I do not care a button for
  them; but it would mortify me very much to see you treated
  differently from other ladies in your situation.

  If this costume affair should not prove an impediment, I feel that
  I shall get along very smoothly here. The fashionable world, with
  the exception of the high officials, are all out of London, and
  will remain absent until the last of February or beginning of
  March. I have recently been a good deal in the society of those
  who are now here, and they all seem disposed to treat me very
  kindly, especially the ladies. Their hours annoy me very much. My
  invitations to dinner among them are all for a quarter before
  eight, which means about half-past that hour. There is no such
  thing as social visiting here of an evening. This is all done
  between two and six in the afternoon, if such visits may be called
  social. I asked Lady Palmerston what was meant by the word “early”
  placed upon her card of invitation for an evening reception, and
  she informed me it was about ten o’clock. The habits, and customs,
  and business of the world here render these hours necessary. But
  how ridiculous it is in our country, where no such necessity
  exists, to violate the laws of nature in regard to hours, merely
  to follow the fashions of this country.

  Should you be at Mr. Ward’s, I would thank you to present my kind
  love to Miss Ellen. I hope you will not forget the interests of
  Eskridge in that quarter. You inform me that Sallie Grier and
  Jennie Pleasanton were about to be married. I desire to be
  remembered with special kindness to Mrs. Jenkins. I can never
  forget “the auld lang syne” with her and her family. Give my love
  also to Kate Reynolds. Remember me to Miss Hetty, or as you would
  say, Miss Hettie, for whom I shall ever entertain a warm regard. I
  send this letter open to Eskridge, so that he may read it and send
  it to your direction.

                              From your affectionate uncle,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

As the court was not in London at the time when this letter was
written, the portentous question of Mr. Buchanan’s costume was not
likely to be brought to an immediate solution. But early in
February, (1854), Parliament was to be opened by the queen in
person. Mr. Buchanan did not attend the ceremony; and thereupon
there was an outcry in the London press. The following extract from
a despatch to Mr. Marcy gives a full account of the whole matter, up
to the date:

  You will perceive by the London journals, the _Times_, the
  _Morning Post_, the _News_, the _Morning Herald_, the _Spectator_,
  the _Examiner_, _Lloyd’s_, &c., &c., copies of which I send you,
  that my absence from the House of Lords, at the opening of
  Parliament, has produced quite a sensation. Indeed, I have found
  difficulty in preventing this incident from becoming a subject of
  inquiry and remark in the House of Commons. All this is peculiarly
  disagreeable to me, and has arisen entirely from an indiscreet and
  rather offensive remark of the London _Times_, in the account
  which that journal published of the proceedings at the opening of
  Parliament. But for this, the whole matter would probably have
  passed away quietly, as I had desired.

  Some time after my interview with Sir Edward Cust, the master of
  ceremonies, in October last (whom I have never since seen), which
  I reported to you in my despatch No. 13, of the 28th of October, I
  determined, after due reflection, neither to wear gold lace nor
  embroidery at court; and I did not hesitate to express this
  determination. The spirit of your circular, as well as my own
  sense of propriety, brought me to this conclusion. I did not deem
  it becoming in me, as the representative of a Republic, to imitate
  a court costume, which may be altogether proper in the
  representatives of royalty. A minister of the United States
  should, in my opinion, wear something more in character with our
  Democratic institutions than a coat covered with embroidery and
  gold lace. Besides, after all, this would prove to be but a feeble
  attempt “to ape foreign fashions;” because, most fortunately, he
  could not wear the orders and stars which ornament the coats of
  other diplomatists, nor could he, except in rare instances, afford
  the diamonds, unless hired for the occasion.

  At the same time, entertaining a most sincere respect for the
  exalted character of the queen, both as a sovereign and a lady, I
  expressed a desire to appear at court in such a dress as I might
  suppose would be most agreeable to herself, without departing from
  the spirit of the circular.

  It was then suggested to me, from a quarter which I do not feel at
  liberty to mention, that I might assume the civil dress worn by
  General Washington; but after examining Stuart’s portrait, at the
  house of a friend, I came to the conclusion that it would not be
  proper for me to adopt this costume. I observed, “fashions had so
  changed since the days of Washington, that if I were to put on his
  dress, and appear in it before the chief magistrate of my own
  country, at one of his receptions, I should render myself a
  subject of ridicule for life. Besides, it would be considered
  presumption in me to affect the style of dress of the Father of
  his Country.”

  It was in this unsettled state of the question, and before I had
  adopted any style of dress, that Parliament was opened. If,
  however, the case had been different, and I had anticipated a
  serious question, prudential reasons would have prevented me from
  bringing it to issue at the door of the House of Lords. A court
  held at the palace would, for many reasons, be a much more
  appropriate place for such a purpose.

  Under these circumstances, I received, on the Sunday morning
  before the Tuesday on which Parliament met, a printed circular
  from Sir Edward Cust, similar to that which I have no doubt was
  addressed to all the other foreign ministers, inviting me to
  attend the opening of the session. The following is extracted from
  this circular: “No one can be admitted into the Diplomatic
  Tribune, or in the body of the House, but in full court dress.”

  Now, from all the attending circumstances, I do not feel disposed
  to yield to the idea that any disrespect was intended by this
  circular, either to my country or to myself. Since I came to
  London, I have received such attentions from high official
  personages as to render this quite improbable. What may be the
  final result of the question I cannot clearly foresee, but I do
  not anticipate any serious difficulties.

In the latter part of February the queen held the first levée of the
season. Mr. Buchanan had signified to the master of ceremonies that
he should present himself at the queen’s levée in the kind of dress
that he always wore, with the addition of a plain dress sword. The
result is given in the course of the following letters to his niece;
and thus, through a happy expedient, assented to cheerfully by the
queen, this Gordian knot was cut by a drawing-room rapier which
never left its sheath. In fact, Mr. Buchanan had already become so
much liked in the royal circle and in society generally, that the
court officials could not longer refuse to let him have his own way
about his reception at the levée, especially after he had dined at
the palace in “frock-dress,” an invitation which was doubtless given
in good-humored compliance with his wishes, and to smooth the way
into the more formal reception.

                           [TO MISS LANE.]

                                        LONDON, February 18th, 1854.


  According to my calculation, Captain West will leave New York for
  Liverpool in the Atlantic on Saturday, the 29th April; and it is
  my particular desire that you should come with him, _under his
  special care_, in preference to any other person. I shall send
  this letter open to Captain West, and if he should transmit it to
  you with a line stating that he will take charge of the freight,
  you may then consider the matter settled. I shall meet you, God
  willing, in Liverpool.

  I have no doubt that the lady whom you mention in yours of the 2d
  instant would be an agreeable companion, and should she come in
  the Atlantic at the same time with yourself, it is all very well;
  but even in that event, I desire that you should be under the
  special care of Captain West. He is a near relative of our old
  friend, Redmond Conyngham, and I have the most perfect confidence
  in him both as a gentleman and a sailor. He stays at the Astor
  House when in New York, and you had better stop there with your
  brother when about to embark.

  Had he been coming out two weeks earlier in April, I should have
  been better pleased; but on no account would I have consented to
  your voyage until near the middle of that month. Yours
  affectionately, etc.

                                        LONDON, February 21st, 1854.

  I have received your letter of the 2d instant, and am truly
  rejoiced to learn that you have recovered your usual good health.
  I hope you will take good care of yourself in Washington and not
  expose yourself to a relapse.

  I intended to write you a long letter to-day, but an unexpected
  pressure of business will prevent me from doing this before the
  despatch bag closes. I now write merely to inform you that I have
  made every arrangement for your passage with Captain West in the
  Atlantic, either on Saturday, the 15th, or Saturday, the 29th
  April. He does not at present know which, but he will inform you
  on his arrival in New York. He will leave Liverpool to-morrow. And
  let me assure you that this is the very best arrangement which
  could be made for you. You will be quite independent, and under
  the special charge of the captain. You will discover that you will
  thus enjoy many advantages. If you have friends or acquaintances
  coming out at the same time, this is all very well; _but let not
  this prevent you from putting yourself under the special charge of
  Captain West_; _and you can say that this is my arrangement_. I
  wish you to inform me whether you will leave New York on the 15th
  or 29th April, so that I may make arrangements accordingly. In
  either event I shall, God willing, meet you at Liverpool. I shall
  write to Eskridge by the next steamer, and direct him to provide
  for your passage. You will of course have no dresses made in the
  United States. I am not a very close observer, or an accurate
  judge, but I think the ladies here of the very highest rank do not
  dress as expensively, with the exception of jewels, as those in
  the United States.

  I dined on Wednesday last with the queen, at Buckingham Palace.
  Both she and Prince Albert were remarkably civil, and I had quite
  a conversation with each of them separately. But the question of
  costume still remains: and from this I anticipate nothing but
  trouble in several directions. I was invited “in frock-dress” to
  the dinner, and of course I had no difficulty. To-morrow will be
  the first levée of the queen, and my appearance there in a suit of
  plain clothes will, I have no doubt, produce quite a sensation,
  and become a subject of gossip for the whole court.

  I wish very much that I could obtain an autograph of General
  Washington for the Countess of Clarendon. She has been very civil
  to me, and like our friend Laura is a collector of autographs. She
  is very anxious to obtain such an autograph, and I have promised
  to do my best to procure it for her. Perhaps Mr. Pleasanton could
  help me to one.

  The first wish of my heart is to see you comfortably and
  respectably settled in life; but ardently as I desire this, you
  ought never to marry any person for whom you think you would not
  have a proper degree of affection. You inform me of your conquest,
  and I trust it may be of such a character as will produce good
  fruit. But I have time to say no more, except to request that you
  will give my love to Laura and Clemmie, and my kindest regards to
  Mr. Pleasanton, and also to Mr. and Mrs. Slidell and Mr. and Mrs.
  Thomson, of New Jersey. Ever yours affectionately, etc.

                                          LONDON, February 24, 1854.

  Mr. Peabody handed me at the dinner-table the enclosed, which he
  made me promise to send to you. Mr. Macalester had mentioned your
  name to him.

  The dress question, after much difficulty, has been finally and
  satisfactorily settled. I appeared at the levée on Wednesday last,
  in just such a dress as I have worn at the President’s one hundred
  times. A black coat, white waistcoat and cravat and black
  pantaloons and dress boots, with the addition of a very plain
  black-handled and black-hilted dress sword. This to gratify those
  who have yielded so much, and to distinguish me from the upper
  court servants. I knew that I would be received in any dress I
  might wear; but could not have anticipated that I should be
  received in so kind and distinguished a manner. Having yielded
  they did not do things by halves. As I approached the queen, an
  arch but benevolent smile lit up her countenance;—as much as to
  say, you are the first man who ever appeared before me at court in
  such a dress. I confess that I never felt more proud of being an
  American than when I stood in that brilliant circle, “in the
  simple dress of an American citizen.” I have no doubt the circular
  is popular with a majority of the people of England. Indeed, many
  of the most distinguished members of Parliament have never been at
  court, because they would not wear the prescribed costume.

  I find lying on the table before me a note from the Duchess of
  Somerset, which possibly Laura might be glad to have as an
  autograph. She prides herself on being descended in a direct line
  from Robert the Third of Scotland.

  With my love to Laura and Clemmie, and my best regards to Mr.
  Pleasanton, I remain, in haste, yours affectionately, etc.

                                             LONDON, March 10, 1854.

  I have received yours of the 16th ultimo, from Philadelphia, and
  am rejoiced to learn from yourself that your health has been
  entirely restored. For several reasons I should have been glad you
  had gone to Washington at an early period of the winter, as I
  desired, and I hope you went there, as you said you would, the
  week after the date of your letter.

  You have not mentioned the name of Miss Wilcox in any of your
  letters, and from this I presume you have not made her
  acquaintance. I regret this, because she was much esteemed among
  her acquaintances here, and many persons whom you will meet will
  make inquiries of you concerning her. She talked of you to me.

  I shall soon expect to learn from you whether you will leave New
  York with Captain West for Liverpool on the 15th or 29th April.
  God willing, I shall meet you at Liverpool. I should be very glad
  if Mrs. Commodore Perry would accompany you. I am well acquainted
  with her, and esteem her highly. Still, I repeat my desire, that
  in any event you should come with Captain West on one of the two
  days designated. I have no news of any importance to communicate.
  I am getting along here smoothly and comfortably, determined to
  make the best of a situation not very agreeable to me. My health
  has absolutely required that I should decline many 7½ and 8
  o’clock dinner invitations, and evening parties commencing at 10½
  and 11 o’clock.

  I venture to predict that you will not be much pleased with
  London, and I desire that you should not be disappointed. You must
  not anticipate too much, except from seeing the sights. These are
  numerous and interesting, from their historical associations. I
  have been making inquiries concerning a maid for you.

  Please to remember me, in the kindest terms, to Mr. Pleasanton,
  and give my love to Laura and Clemmie. Ever yours affectionately,

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

In a despatch to Mr. Marcy, written soon after his appearance at the
Queen’s levée, Mr. Buchanan said: “I have purposely avoided to
mention the names of those with whom I have had interviews on this
subject, lest it might expose them to censorious remarks hereafter;
but having mentioned that of Sir Edward Cust, the master of
ceremonies, in my despatch No. 13, of the 28th October last, it is
but an act of simple justice to state, that at the court on
Wednesday last, his attentions to me were of the kindest and most
marked character, and have placed me under many obligations. In the
matter of the sword, I yielded without reluctance to the earnest
suggestion of a high official character, who said that a sword, at
all the courts of the world, was considered merely as the mark of a
gentleman, and although he did not mention the queen’s name, yet it
was evident, from the whole conversation, that this was desired as a
token of respect for her Majesty. He had, on a former occasion,
expressed the hope that I would wear something indicating my
official position, and not appear at court, to employ his own
language, in the dress I wore upon the street. I told him promptly
that I should comply with his suggestion, and that in wearing a
sword at court, as an evidence of the very high regard which I felt
for her Majesty, I should do nothing inconsistent with my own
character as an American citizen, or that of my country. I might
have added that as ‘the simple dress of an American citizen’ is
exactly that of the upper court servants, it was my purpose from the
beginning to wear something which would distinguish me from them. At
the first, I had thought of United States buttons; but a plain dress
sword has a more manly and less gaudy appearance. I hope I am now
done with this subject forever.”

So that, after all, it appears plainly enough that, so far as the
queen herself was concerned, her Majesty’s wish was only that the
representative of the nation nearest in blood to her own, should
honor his country by paying to her a mark of respect, by a token
that would indicate the official position in which he stood before
her. As soon as Mr. Buchanan perceived this, he acted as became him,
and from that time forward he was as welcome a guest in the royal
circle as any one who entered it.

                       [FROM SECRETARY MARCY.]

 (Private and confidential.)                WASHINGTON, January 3, 1856.


  I have just finished a despatch in answer to Lord Clarendon’s last
  on British recruitment in the United States. You will be startled
  at its length, and I consider it objectionable in that respect,
  but the peculiar character of the one to which it is a reply
  rendered a review of the whole subject unavoidable. You are
  requested to read it to Lord Clarendon, but I presume he will do
  as I did when his was presented to me by Mr. Crampton—I moved to
  dispense with the reading, or rather had it read by the title, and
  received the copy.

  I do not mean to trouble you with any other comments upon it, but
  merely to remark that you will find that I have been very mindful
  of your kind suggestion. The _suaviter in modo_ has really very
  much impaired the _fortiter in re_. The manner I am quite sure
  will please Lord Clarendon, but I presume the matter will not. I
  really believe he does not know how offensively British officers
  have behaved in this recruiting business; but he had the means of
  knowing all about it, and when it was made a grave matter of
  complaint it should have been investigated. After the issues of
  fact and of law made in the case, and the refusal on the part of
  Great Britain to do anything which could be regarded as a
  satisfaction, it was not possible to avoid the recall of Mr.

  You will see by the papers here that the debate in the Senate on
  the Central American question has opened finely. I do not think
  that advocates even among any of the factions can be found who
  will attempt to justify the conduct of the British ministry in
  that affair.

  The correspondence on the subject appears in the “_The Union_” of
  this morning and you will receive it as soon as you will this
  letter. We shall all be very anxious to learn how it has been
  received by the British government and people.

  The people of the United States are not in a very good humor
  towards the British government at this time, yet there is great
  calmness in the public mind, which indicates a settled purpose to
  stand for their rights.

  The strengthening the British fleet in this quarter was regarded
  as a harmless menace. Our people rather admired the folly of the
  measure than indulged any angry feelings on account of it. The
  comments of the British press and the miserable pretexts got up as
  an excuse for that blunder have provoked some resentment, which
  the course of the British cabinet in regard to the Central
  American questions and recruiting in the United States will not

  We are willing—more—anxious to be on friendly terms with our
  “transatlantic cousins,” but they must recollect that we do not
  believe in the doctrine of primogeniture. The younger branch of
  the family has equal rights with the elder.

  I am unable to say to you one word in regard to your successor.
  Who he will be and when he will be sent out, I think no living man
  now knows.

                                              Yours truly,
                                                        W. L. MARCY.

                           [TO MR. MARCY.]

                                        LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, }
 (Private.)                                  LONDON, January 11, 1856. }


  I have received your favor of the 23d ultimo, and am greatly
  disappointed neither to have received the message nor any inkling
  of what it contains. Long expectation has blunted the edge of
  curiosity here, and it will not make the impression it would have
  done four weeks ago.

  I shall expect your answer to Lord C. with much interest, and
  shall do all in my power to give it its proper effect with his
  lordship. For my own part, I should have been inclined to cut the
  Gordian knot as soon as I possessed clear proof of Mr. Crampton’s
  complicity, and I am persuaded this was expected at the time in
  this country. No doubt, however, yours is the more prudent course.

  You say that if I can settle the Central American difficulty, and
  you the recruitment question, they may blow what blast they please
  on any of their organs. That you can perform the latter there can
  be no doubt; the former is a sheer impossibility during the
  administration of Lord Palmerston.[14] Any attempt of the kind
  will only more deeply commit this government and render it more
  difficult for a succeeding government to do us justice. It is
  still my impression there will be peace in Europe before the
  season for opening the next campaign; and this will leave England
  in such a state of preparation for war as she has never been at
  any former period. This may act as a stimulus to the reckless and
  arrogant propensities of Lord P., which have been so often
  manifested by him in his intercourse with other nations.

  I have more than once had occasion to admire your self-possession
  and “sang-froid,” but never was it more strikingly illustrated
  than in the concluding and, as it were, incidental sentence of
  your letter: “I do not learn that the President has his mind
  turned towards any one for your successor, or for secretary of
  legation.” This is cool. I had confidently expected that
  immediately after Mr. Appleton’s arrival in Washington, I should
  hear of the appointment of my successor, and I felt assured that
  if there had been need, you would have “_turned_” the President’s
  mind towards a subject in which I felt so deep an interest.

  As I have on more than one occasion informed you, I do believe
  that had it been possible for the new minister to be here for a
  fortnight before my departure this would have been greatly to his
  benefit, and perhaps to that of the country. This is now
  impossible. My nephew left me yesterday for Naples and Home, and I
  was truly sorry not to be able to accompany him, as he speaks
  French like a Parisian, and Italian tolerably well, and would,
  therefore, have been highly useful. I am again left with no person
  except Mr. Moran (who, to do him justice, performs his duties to
  my entire satisfaction), and yet the President’s mind has not been
  “_turned_ towards any one,” even for secretary of legation. I
  hope, at least, that a secretary may arrive before the 12th
  February, as it would have a better appearance to leave the
  legation in his charge than in that of the consul.

  You seem to take it hard that your former assistant should be
  acting in concert with Don Magnifico Markoe, still one of your
  lieutenants, in favor of the nomination of Mr. Dallas, and well
  you may. Such ingratitude towards yourself is a proof of the
  depravity of human nature. But there is one consolation. As
  somebody says: “The vigor of the bow does not equal the venom of
  the shaft.” I misquote, and don’t recollect the precise language.

  I still think there will be peace. France and Turkey both desire
  it, and Russia needs it. John Bull is still for war, but this only
  to recover his prestige. He has incurred immense expense in
  getting ready and don’t want to throw his money away. If peace
  should remove Lord P., this would be a most happy consummation.
  Had Mrs. M. been in your place, the President’s mind would ere
  this have been “_turned_” towards somebody for my successor.
  Please to present her my kindest regards, and believe me to be,

                                      Yours very respectfully, etc.,

Footnote 14:

  Lord Palmerston had then recently become premier in place of Lord

                                        LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, }
                                             LONDON, January 18, 1856. }

  I have an hour ago received your despatch of the 28th ultimo, and
  have only had time to give it a cursory perusal. I have not yet
  read the despatch of Lord Clarendon to which it is an answer. It
  appears to me to be of characteristic clearness and ability, and
  its tone is excellent. Still its conclusion will startle this
  government. I have had an appointment with Lord Clarendon
  postponed more than once, on account of the dangerous illness of
  his mother. She died on Sunday morning last, and his lordship
  informed me through his private secretary that as soon after the
  event as possible he would appoint a time for our meeting.

  The Central American questions are well and ably stated in the
  message received two or three days ago. I know from reliable
  authority that Lord Palmerston “has very strong views on the
  subject.” The _Times_ is a mighty power in the State; and I have
  adopted means, through the agency of a friend, to prevent that
  journal from committing itself upon the questions until after its
  conductors shall have an opportunity of examining the
  correspondence. These means have hitherto proved effectual. The
  correspondence has now arrived, and the _Times_ may indicate its
  views to-morrow morning. The tone of the other journals has not
  been satisfactory; and the _Daily Telegraph_ has been evidently
  bought over, and become hostile to the United States within the
  last four days, as you will perceive from the number which I send.
  Should the _Times_ take ground against us, it is my purpose to
  have an edition of that part of the message relating to Central
  America, and the correspondence, published in pamphlet form, and
  circulated among members of Parliament and other influential
  persons. Should the expense be great, I may call upon you to pay
  it out of the contingent fund.

  A few hasty remarks upon the present condition of affairs in this
  country. The Austrian proposals, as you will see by the papers,
  have been accepted by the czar. This is distasteful to the British
  people who have made vast preparations, at an enormous expense, to
  recover their military and naval _prestige_ in the next campaign.
  But peace is evidently desired by Louis Napoleon and the French,
  by the Turks and by the Sardinians. It still continues to be my
  opinion that peace will be made. In this state of affairs, the
  British people being sore and disappointed and being better
  prepared for war than they have ever been, Lord Palmerston, whose
  character is reckless and his hostility to our country well known,
  will most probably assume a high and defiant attitude on the
  questions pending between the two countries. The British people
  are now in that state of feeling that I firmly believe they could
  be brought up to a war with the United States, _if they can be
  persuaded that the territory in dispute belongs to themselves_.
  This, absurd as it is, may be done through the agency of a press
  generally, if not universally, hostile to us. I make these remarks
  because you ought to know the truth and be prepared for the worst.
  _Certainly not with a view of yielding one iota of our rights to
  Great Britain or any other power. Most certainly not._

  I understand from friends that it is now stated by British
  individuals in conversation, how easy it would be for them in
  their present state of preparation, and with our feeble navy, to
  bring a war with us to a speedy and successful conclusion. In this
  they would be wofully mistaken.

  I have great hopes, however, that the peace will upset Lord
  Palmerston. The session of Parliament will commence with a
  powerful opposition against him.

  Do contrive by some means to hasten the construction of a railroad
  to the Pacific and to increase our navy. Such a road is as
  necessary for war purposes as the construction of a fort to defend
  any of our cities.

  I have not time to write more before the closing of the bag.

  I deeply regret to find that so late as the 3d of January you are
  _unable_ to say one word to me in regard to my successor. For this
  cause, I think I have good reason to complain.

  With my kind regards always to Mrs. Marcy, I remain

                                  Yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  P.S.—I ought not to forget to say that the President’s message has
  received great commendation among enlightened people in this
  country. I am sorry you did not inform me at an earlier period
  that it was the President’s intention to demand the recall of Mr.
  Crampton, etc., that I might have prepared them for such a result.

                        [TO NAHUM CAPEN, ESQ.]

                                        LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, }
                                              LONDON, January 18, 1856 }


  ...... Many thanks for your friendly wishes. They are cordially
  reciprocated. Your kindly feelings towards myself have doubtless
  greatly magnified my popularity at home, but were the Presidency
  within my reach, which I am far from believing, I might then

            “Will fortune never come with both hands full?
            She either gives a stomach and no food,
            Or else a feast and takes away the stomach.”

  I cannot yet say when I shall return home, but I expect by every
  steamer to hear of the appointment of my successor. Indeed, I have
  been greatly disappointed in being detained here so long. After my
  relief it is my purpose to pay a brief visit to the continent. At
  the latest, God willing, I expect to be at home some time in
  April—possibly before the end of March.

  Without a secretary of legation, my letters must be brief. For
  this I know you will excuse me.

  With my best wishes for your health and happiness, I remain

                            Very respectfully, your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                           [TO MR. MARCY.]

                                           LONDON, January 25, 1856.


  From present appearances the Central American questions can lead
  to no serious difficulties with England. Public opinion would here
  seem to be nearly altogether in favor of our construction of the
  treaty. Such I learn, is the conversation at the clubs and in
  society; and with the _Times_, as well as the _Daily News_ on our
  side, and this in accordance with public sentiment, we might
  expect a speedy settlement of these questions, if any statesman
  except Lord Palmerston were at the head of the government. He
  cannot long remain in power, I think, after peace shall have been
  concluded. I expect to go to Paris after the 12th of February, and
  may write to you from there, should I have a conversation with
  Louis Napoleon. I shall see Lord Clarendon early next week, and
  you may expect by the next steamer to hear the result of my
  reading your despatch to his lordship.

  I still continue firm in the belief that peace will be concluded,
  though it is manifestly distasteful to the British people.

  I met Sir Charles Wood, the first lord of the admiralty, at dinner
  the other day, and had some fun with him about sending the fleet
  to our shores. He said they had only sent a few old hulks, and
  with such vessels they could never have thought of hostilities
  against such a power as the United States; and asked me if I had
  ever heard that one of them approached our shores. I might have
  referred him to the Screw Blocks. The conversation was altogether
  agreeable and afforded amusement to the persons near us at the
  table. He said: “Buchanan, if you and I had to settle the
  questions between the two governments, they would be settled
  speedily.” I know not whether there was any meaning beneath this

  I consider this mission as a sort of waif abandoned by the
  Government. Not a word even about a secretary of legation, though
  Mr. Appleton left me more than two months ago. With the amount of
  business to transact, and the number of visits to receive, I have
  to labor like a drayman. Have you no bowels?

  The reports, concerning our officers, received from the Crimea,
  are highly complimentary and satisfactory, and the people here are
  much gratified with the letter received from the Secretary of War,
  thanking General Simpson for his kindness and attention towards

  Before I go away I intend to get up a letter from Lord Clarendon
  and yourself, manifesting your sense of the manner in which Mr.
  Bates performed his duty as umpire. As he will accept no pay, it
  is as little as you can do, to say, “thank you, sir.”

  I am informed there is a publisher in London about to publish the
  Central American correspondence in pamphlet form, believing it
  will yield him a profit.

  I have just received a letter from Mason, written in excellent
  spirits, praising Mr. Wise, his new secretary. For poor me, this
  is sour grapes. Never forgetting my friend, Mrs. Marcy,

                          I remain yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                        [TO GOVERNOR BIGLER.]

                                          LONDON, February 12, 1856.


  I did not receive your kind and friendly letter of the 21st ultimo
  until last evening, and although oppressed by my public duties
  to-day, I cannot suffer a steamer to depart without bearing you an

  We had been friends for many years before our friendship was
  suspended. The best course to pursue in renewing it again is to
  suffer bygones to be bygones. In this spirit I cordially accept
  your overtures, and shall forget everything unpleasant in our past
  relations. When we meet again, let us meet as though no
  estrangement had ever existed between us, and it shall not be my
  fault if we should not remain friends as long as we both may live.
  I wish you an honorable and useful career in the Senate.

  I had hoped to return home with Miss Lane in October last, but a
  succession of threatening incidents has occurred in the relations
  between the two countries which has kept me here until the present
  moment. And even now I do not know when I can leave my post. My
  private business requires that I should be at home on the 1st of
  April, but no pecuniary consideration can induce me to desert my
  public duty at such a moment as the present. I trust, however,
  that by the next steamer I shall hear of the appointment of my

  In regard to the Presidency to which you refer, if my own wishes
  had been consulted, my name should never again have been mentioned
  in connection with that office. I feel, nevertheless, quite as
  grateful to my friends for their voluntary exertions in my favor
  during my absence, as though they had been prompted by myself. It
  is a consolation which I shall bear with me to my dying day, that
  the Democracy of my native state have sustained me with so much
  unanimity. I shall neither be disappointed nor in the slightest
  degree mortified should the Cincinnati Convention nominate another
  person; but in the retirement, the prospect of which is now so
  dear to me, the consciousness that Pennsylvania has stood by me to
  the last will be a delightful reflection. Our friends Van Dyke and
  Lynch have kept me advised of your exertions in my favor.

  I am happy to inform you that within the last fortnight public
  opinion has evidently undergone a change in favor of our country.
  The best evidence of this is perhaps the friendly tone of Lord
  Palmerston’s speech on Friday night last. His lordship has,
  however, done me injustice in attributing to me expressions which
  I never uttered, or rather which I never wrote, for all is in
  writing. All I said in relation to the matter in question was that
  I should have much satisfaction in transmitting a copy of Lord
  Clarendon’s note to the Secretary of State. I never had a word
  with Lord Palmerston on the subject.

  The moment has arrived for closing the despatch bags, and I
  conclude by assuring you of my renewed friendship.

                                    Yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                           [TO MR. MARCY.]

 (Private and confidential.)                  LONDON, February 15, 1856.


  I have received your favor of the 27th ultimo, and although the
  contents are very acceptable, yet, like a lady’s letter, its pith
  and marrow are in the two postscripts, informing me that Mr.
  Dallas had been offered and would probably accept this mission. By
  the newspapers I learn that his nomination had been sent to the
  Senate. It is long since I have heard such welcome news. But there
  is some alloy in almost every good, and in my own joy, I cannot
  but sympathize with you for the loss of Mr. Markoe, who, the
  papers say, is to be appointed the secretary of legation. Pray
  bear it with Christian resignation.

  I need not say that I shall do all I can to give Mr. Dallas a fair

  I have two things to request of you:

  1. Although I have no doubt the omission of Lady Palmerston to
  invite me to her first party was both intentional and significant
  _at the time_, yet I should be unwilling to leave the fact on
  record in a public despatch. I will, therefore, send you by the
  next steamer the same despatch, number 119, of the 4th instant,
  with that portion of it omitted. When you receive this, please to
  withdraw the first despatch and keep it for me until my return.

  2. Should you, in your friendly discretion, deem it advisable
  under the circumstances, please to have an editorial prepared for
  the _Union_, stating the facts in my last despatch (a duplicate of
  which is now sent you), in relation to the remarks of Lord
  Palmerston as to my expression of satisfaction with the apology
  contained in Lord Clarendon’s note of the 16th July. I send you
  with this a pamphlet which has just been published here on this
  subject. I know the author. He is an Englishman of character.
  Several members of Parliament have called upon me for information,
  but my position requires that I should be very chary. I have
  furnished some of them with copies of Hertz’s trial, among the
  rest Mr. Roebuck. I met him afterwards in society, and it was
  evident the pamphlet had strongly impressed him with Mr.
  Crampton’s complicity. Still it is not to be denied that Lord
  Palmerston’s speech on Friday last, in relation to this subject,
  has made a strong impression here, as it has done on the
  continent, judging by the facts stated in my despatch.

  I know from the tone of your letter that you would consider me
  in a state of mental delusion if I were to say how indifferent I
  feel in regard to myself on the question of the next Presidency.
  You would be quite a sceptic. One thing is certain that neither
  by word nor letter have I ever contributed any support to
  myself. I believe that the next Presidential term will perhaps
  be the most important and responsible of any which has occurred
  since the origin of the Government, and whilst no competent and
  patriotic man to whom it may be offered should shrink from the
  responsibility, yet he may well accept it as the greatest trial
  of his life. Of course nothing can be expected from you but a
  decided support of your chief.

  Never forgetting my excellent and esteemed friend, whose influence
  I shrewdly suspect put you in motion in regard to the appointment
  of a successor, I remain, as always,

                                  Yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                 [TO HIS HOUSEKEEPER, “MISS HETTY.”]

                                          LONDON, February 15, 1856.


  Although greatly hurried to-day, having heavy despatches,
  according to my rule I suffer not a steamer to pass without
  answering your letters. Your last of the 26th ultimo was most
  agreeable. You give me information concerning the neighbors which
  I highly prize. Every thing about home is dear to me, and you can
  scarcely realize how much pleasure I feel in the prospect of being
  with you ere long, should a kind Providence spare my life and my
  health. I have had no secretary of legation with me for several
  months, and I have had to labor very hard. I hope to experience
  the delight of being idle, or rather doing what I please, at

  After many vain entreaties, Mr. Dallas has at length been
  appointed my successor, and I expect him here by the end of this
  month. Whether I shall return immediately home, or go to Paris for
  a few weeks, I have not yet determined. The former I would greatly
  prefer; but March is a very rough month to pass the Atlantic, and
  I suffer wretchedly from sea-sickness all the time. I am now,
  thank God, in good health, and I do not wish to impair it on the

  I wish John Brenner joy in advance of his marriage. Remember me
  kindly to Mr. Fahnestock and your sister, and to all our neighbors
  and friends, and tell them how happy I shall be to meet them once
  more. Remember me, also, most kindly, to Father Keenan......

  With sincere and affectionate regard, I remain always your friend,

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                     [TO HIS NIECE, MRS. BAKER.]

                                          LONDON, February 16, 1855.


  It is not from the want of warm affection that I do not write to
  you oftener. I shall ever feel the deepest interest in your
  welfare and happiness. This omission on my part arises simply from
  the fact that Harriet and yourself are in constant correspondence,
  and through her you hear all the news from London, and I often
  hear of you. I am rejoiced that you are contented and happy. May
  you ever be so!

  I have determined to return home in October next, God willing, and
  to pass the remnant of my days, if Heaven should prolong them, in
  tranquillity and retirement. After a long and somewhat stormy
  public life, I enjoy this prospect as much as I have ever done the
  anticipation of high office.

  England is now in a state of mourning for the loss of so many of
  her brave sons in the Crimea. The approaching “season” will, in
  consequence, be dull, and this I shall bear with Christian
  fortitude. The duller the better for me; but not so for Harriet.
  She has enjoyed herself very much, and made many friends; but I do
  not see any bright prospect of her marriage. This may probably be
  her own fault. I confess that nothing would please me better than
  to see her married, with her own hearty good will, to a worthy
  man. Should I be called away, her situation would not by any means
  be comfortable.

  We are treated with much civility here, indeed with kindness,
  according to the English fashion, which is not very cordial. Such
  a thing as social visiting does not exist even among near friends.
  You cannot “drop in of an evening” anywhere. You must not go to
  any place unless you are expected, except it be a formal morning

  It is said that the queen is, and it is certain the British people
  are, deeply mortified at the disasters of her troops in the
  Crimea. If the men had died in battle this would have been some
  consolation, but they have been sacrificed by the mismanagement of
  officials in high authority. The contrast between the condition of
  the French and English troops in the Crimea has deeply wounded
  British pride. Indeed, I am sorry for it myself, because it would
  be unfortunate for the world should England sink to the level of a
  second-rate power. They call us their “cousins on the other side
  of the Atlantic,” and it is certain we are kindred......

                                       Yours affectionately,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                               CHAPTER V.


The reader has seen that when Mr. Buchanan left home to undertake
the duties of United States minister in England, it was the
understanding between the President and himself that he should have
full power to deal with the Central American question in London, and
that the fishery and reciprocity trade questions would be reserved
to be dealt with by the Secretary of State.[15]

Footnote 15:

  Full powers in regard to the Central American question were
  afterwards transmitted to him at London.

But of course the President expected to be informed from time to
time of the steps taken in the negotiation concerning the affairs of
Central America, and Mr. Buchanan both expected and desired to
receive specific instructions on this and all other topics in the
relations of the two governments that might be discussed in the
course of his mission. It was at a very interesting and critical
period in the affairs of Europe that he arrived in England. Although
the war between England and France, as allies of Turkey, on the one
side, and Russia on the other, known as the Crimean war, was still
in the distance, its probability was already discernible. How this
great disturbance affected the pending questions between the United
States and England, and introduced a new and unexpected difficulty
in their relations, will appear as I proceed.

Mr. Buchanan, according to his invariable habit in all important
transactions, kept the records of his mission with great care.
Transcripts of the whole are now before me, in two large MS.
volumes; and they form a monument of his industry, his powerful
memory, and his ability as a diplomatist. The greater part of his
negotiations with Lord Clarendon were carried on in oral discussions
at official but informal interviews. Regular protocols of these
discussions were not made, but they were fully and minutely reported
by Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Marcy, as they occurred; and it is most
remarkable with what completeness, after holding a long
conversation, he could record an account of it. These conversations
show, too, how wide was his range of vision in regard to the affairs
of Europe, of Cuba, of Central America, and of all the topics which
he had to discuss; how well versed he was in public law, and how
thoroughly equipped he was for the position which he occupied. It is
not strange that he should have left in the minds of the public men
in England who had most to do with him, an impression that he was a
statesman of no common order.[16] His first official interview with
Lord Clarendon took place on the 22d of September, 1853. It had
been, and continued to be, very difficult to get the attention of
the English secretary to the questions pending between the United
States and England, on account of the critical state of the Turkish
question; and when Lord Clarendon did have a conference with Mr.
Buchanan, he did not profess to be so well informed on the affairs
of Central America as he felt that he ought to be, although Mr.
Buchanan found him attentive, courteous and able. In the course of
many interviews, occurring from time to time between the 22d of
September, 1853, and the 16th of March, 1854, at which last date
Lord Clarendon communicated to Mr. Buchanan the declaration which
had been prepared for the queen’s signature, specifying the course
which she intended to pursue towards neutral commerce during the war
with Russia, then already declared,—topics that are now of great
historical interest, and some of which have still a practical
importance, were discussed with great frankness and urbanity. They
related at first to the Central American questions, and the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty, the fisheries and reciprocity of trade, Cuba
and its slavery, slavery in the United States, and the inter-state
relations of Europe. As the war approached, and when it was finally
declared, the principles of neutrality, privateering, and many other
topics came within the range of the discussion; and it was very much
in consequence of the views expressed by Mr. Buchanan to Lord
Clarendon, and by the latter communicated to the British cabinet,
that the course of England towards neutrals during that war became
what it was. When Lord Clarendon, on the 16th of March, 1854,
presented to Mr. Buchanan a _projet_ for a treaty between Great
Britain, France and the United States, making it piracy for neutrals
to serve on board of privateers cruising against the commerce of
either of the three nations, when such nation was a belligerent, the
very impressive reasons which Mr. Buchanan opposed to it caused it
to be abandoned.[17]

Footnote 16:

  I cannot find room in this volume for these very interesting and
  graphic despatches. It is not improbable that the two volumes of
  this biography will be followed by a supplemental volume, in which
  they can be fully given. The Government of the United States has
  never published more than a small part of them.

Footnote 17:

  I find in Mr. Buchanan’s private memorandum book the account of
  this matter in his handwriting, given in the text. It is much more
  full than that contained in his despatches to Mr. Marcy.

                                           Thursday, March 16, 1854.

  Called at the Foreign Office by the invitation of Lord Clarendon.
  He presented me a printed treaty in blank, which he proposed
  should be executed by Great Britain, France and the United States.
  The chief object of it was that all captains of privateers and
  their crews should be considered and punished as pirates, who,
  being subjects or citizens of one of the three nations who were
  neutral, should cruise against either of the others when
  belligerent. The object undoubtedly was to prevent Americans from
  taking service in Russian privateers during the present war. We
  had much conversation on the subject, which I do not mean to
  repeat, this memorandum being merely intended to refresh my own
  memory. His lordship had before him a list of the different
  treaties between the United States and other nations on this

  I was somewhat taken by surprise, though I stated my objections
  pretty clearly to such a treaty. Not having done justice to the
  subject in my own opinion, I requested and obtained an interview
  for the next day, when I stated them more fully and clearly. The
  heads were as follows:

  1. It would be a violation of our neutrality in the war to agree
  with France and England that American citizens who served on board
  Russian privateers should be punished as pirates. To prevent this,
  Russia should become a party to the treaty, which, under existing
  circumstances, was impossible.

  2. Our treaties only embraced a person of either nation who should
  take commissions as privateers, and _did not extend to the crew_.
  Sailors were a thoughtless race, and it would be cruel and unjust
  to punish them as pirates for taking such service, when they often
  might do it from want and necessity.

  3. The British law claims all who are born as British subjects to
  be British subjects forever. We naturalize them and protect them
  as American citizens. If the treaty were concluded, and a British
  cruiser should capture a Russian privateer with a naturalized
  Irishman on board, what would be the consequence? The British law
  could not punish him as an American citizen under the treaty,
  because it would regard him as a British subject. It might hang
  him for high treason; and such an event would produce a collision
  between the two countries. The old and dangerous question would
  then be presented in one of its worst aspects.

  4. Whilst such a treaty might be justly executed by such nations
  as Great Britain and the United States, would it be just, wise or
  humane to agree that their sailors who took service on board a
  privateer should be summarily tried and executed as pirates by
  several powers which could be named?

  5. _Cui bono_ should Great Britain make such a treaty with France
  during the existing war. If no neutral power should enter into it
  with them, it could have no effect during its continuance.

  6. The time may possibly come when Great Britain, in a war with
  the despotisms of Europe, might find it to be exceedingly to her
  interest to employ American sailors on board her privateers, and
  such a treaty would render this impossible. Why should she
  unnecessarily bind her hands?

  7. The objections of the United States to enter into entangling
  alliances with European nations.

  8. By the law of nations, as expounded both in British and
  American courts, a commission to a privateer, regularly issued by
  a belligerent nation, protects both the captain and the crew from
  punishment as pirates. Would the different commercial nations of
  the earth be willing to change this law as you propose, especially
  in regard to the crew? Would it be proper to do so in regard to
  the latter?

  After I had stated these objections at some length on Friday, the
  17th of March, Lord Clarendon observed that when some of them were
  stated the day before, they had struck him with so much force
  after reflection, that he had come to the office from the House of
  Lords at night and written them down and sent them to Sir James
  Graham. In his own opinion the treaty ought not to be concluded,
  and if the cabinet came to this conclusion the affair should drop,
  and I agreed I would not write to the Department on the subject.
  If otherwise, and the treaty should be presented to the Government
  of the United States, then I was to report our conversation.

  In the conversation Lord Clarendon said they were more solicitous
  to be on good terms with the United States than any other nation,
  and that the project had not yet been communicated even to France.

  (Vide 1 Kent’s Commentaries, 100. United States Statutes at large,
  175, Act of March 3d, 1847, to provide for the punishment of
  piracy in certain cases. Mr. Polk’s message to Congress of
  December 8, 1846.)

  General conversation about privateering.

  The object of the treaty was to change the law of nations in this
  respect, and Lord Clarendon said that if England, France and the
  United States should enter into it, the others would soon follow.
  The project contained a stipulation that the person who took a
  commission as a privateer should give security that he would not
  employ any persons as sailors on board who were not subjects or
  citizens of the nation granting the commission.

  March 22, 1854. At her majesty’s drawing-room this day, Lord
  Clarendon told me that they had given up the project of the
  treaty, etc., etc.

The whole object of the negotiation in reference to the affairs of
Central America was to develop and ascertain the precise differences
between the two governments in regard to the construction of the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty. As the negotiation had become interrupted by
the war with Russia, and as it was not probable that it could be
brought to a definite issue while that war continued, Mr. Buchanan
desired to return home. But Mr. Marcy earnestly desired him to
remain, saying in answer to his request to be relieved: “The
negotiation cannot be committed to any one who so well understands
the subject in all its bearings as you do, or who can so ably
sustain and carry out the views of the United States.” Mr. Buchanan
therefore remained and pressed upon Lord Clarendon a further
discussion of the subject, saying in a formal note:

  “The President has directed the undersigned, before retiring from
  his mission, to request from the British government a statement of
  the positions which it has determined to maintain in regard to the
  Bay Islands, the territory between the Sibun and Sarstoon, as well
  as the Belize settlement and the Mosquito protectorate. The long
  delay in asking for this information has proceeded from the
  President’s reluctance to manifest any impatience on this
  important subject whilst the attention of her Majesty’s government
  was engaged by the war with Russia. But as more than a year has
  already elapsed since the termination of the discussion on these
  subjects, and as the first session of the new Congress is speedily
  approaching, the President does not feel that he would be
  justified in any longer delay.”

There had been submitted by Mr. Buchanan to Lord Clarendon on the
6th of January, 1854, a detailed statement of the views of the
United States, which was not answered until the 2d of May following.
On the 22d of July Mr. Buchanan made an elaborate reply, containing
a historical review of all the matters in dispute. It reduced the
whole controversy respecting the Clayton-Bulwer treaty to the
following points:

  What, then, is the fair construction of the article? It embraces
  two objects. 1. It declares that neither of the parties shall ever
  acquire any exclusive control over the ship canal to be
  constructed between the Atlantic and the Pacific, by the route of
  the river San Juan de Nicaragua, and that neither of them shall
  ever erect or maintain any fortifications commanding the same or
  in the vicinity thereof. In regard to this stipulation, no
  disagreement is known to exist between the parties. But the
  article proceeds further in its mutually self-denying policy, and
  in the second place, declares that neither of the parties ‘will
  occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume, or exercise any
  dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito coast, or any
  part of Central America.’

  We now reach the true point. Does this language require that Great
  Britain shall withdraw from her existing possessions in Central
  America, including ‘the Mosquito coast?’ The language peculiarly
  applicable to this coast will find a more appropriate place in a
  subsequent portion of these remarks.

  If any person enters into a solemn and explicit agreement that he
  will not “occupy” any given tract of country then actually
  occupied by him, can any proposition be clearer, than that he is
  bound by his agreement to withdraw from such occupancy? Were this
  not the case, these words would have no meaning, and the agreement
  would become a mere nullity. Nay more, in its effect it would
  amount to a confirmation of the party in the possession of that
  very territory which he had bound himself not to occupy, and would
  practically be equivalent to an agreement that he should remain in
  possession—a contradiction in terms. It is difficult to comment on
  language which appears so plain, or to offer arguments to prove
  that the meaning of words is not directly opposite to their
  well-known signification.

  And yet the British government consider that the convention
  interferes with none of their existing possessions in Central
  America; that it is entirely prospective in its nature, and merely
  prohibits them from making new acquisitions. If this be the case,
  then it amounts to a recognition of their rights, on the part of
  the American Government, to all the possessions which they already
  hold, whilst the United States have bound themselves by the very
  same instrument, never, under any circumstances, to acquire the
  possession of a foot of territory in Central America. The
  mutuality of the convention would thus be entirely destroyed; and
  whilst Great Britain may continue to hold nearly the whole eastern
  coast of Central America, the United States have abandoned the
  right for all future time to acquire any territory, or to receive
  into the American Union any of the states in that portion of their
  own continent. This self-imposed prohibition was the great
  objection to the treaty in the United States at the time of its
  conclusion, and was powerfully urged by some of the best men in
  the country. Had it then been imagined that whilst it prohibited
  the United States from acquiring territory, under any possible
  circumstances, in a portion of America through which their
  thoroughfares to California and Oregon must pass, and that the
  convention, at the same time, permitted Great Britain to remain in
  the occupancy of all her existing possessions in that region,
  there would not have been a single vote in the American Senate in
  favor of its ratification. In every discussion it was taken for
  granted that the convention required Great Britain to withdraw
  from these possessions, and thus place the parties upon an exact
  equality in Central America. Upon this construction of the
  convention there was quite as great an unanimity of opinion as
  existed in the House of Lords, that the convention with Spain of
  1786 required Great Britain to withdraw from the Mosquito

As Lord Clarendon in his statement had characterized “the Monroe
Doctrine” as merely the “dictum of its distinguished author,” Mr.
Buchanan replied that “did the occasion require, he would cheerfully
undertake the task of justifying the wisdom and policy of the Monroe
doctrine, in reference to the nations of Europe as well as to those
on the American continent;” and he closed as follows:

  But no matter what may be the nature of the British claim to the
  country between the Sibun and the Sarstoon, the observation
  already made in reference to the Bay Islands and the Mosquito
  coast must be reiterated, that the great question does not turn
  upon the validity of this claim previous to the convention of
  1850, but upon the facts that Great Britain has bound herself by
  this convention not to occupy any part of Central America, nor to
  exercise dominion over it; and that the territory in question is
  within Central America, even under the most limited construction
  of these words. In regard to Belize proper, confined within its
  legitimate boundaries, under the treaties of 1783 and 1786, and
  limited to the usufruct specified in these treaties, it is
  necessary to say but a few words. The Government of the United
  States will not, for the present, insist upon the withdrawal of
  Great Britain from this settlement, provided all the other
  questions between the two governments concerning Central America
  can be amicably adjusted. It has been influenced to pursue this
  course partly by the declaration of Mr. Clayton on the 4th of
  July, 1850, but mainly in consequence of the extension of the
  license granted by Mexico to Great Britain, under the treaty of
  1826, which that republic has yet taken no steps to terminate.

  It is, however, distinctly to be understood that the Government of
  the United States acknowledge no claim of Great Britain within
  Belize, except the temporary ‘liberty of making use of the wood of
  the different kinds, the fruits and other products in their
  natural state,’ fully recognizing that the former ‘Spanish
  sovereignty over the country’ now belongs either to Guatemala or

  In conclusion, the Government of the United States most cordially
  and earnestly unite in the desire expressed by ‘her majesty’s
  government, not only to maintain the convention of 1850 intact,
  but to consolidate and strengthen it by strengthening and
  consolidating the friendly relations which it was calculated to
  cement and perpetuate.’ Under these mutual feelings, it is deeply
  to be regretted that the two governments entertain opinions so
  widely different in regard to its true effect and meaning.

In this attitude the controversy was necessarily left by Mr.
Buchanan, when his mission finally terminated; and its further
history, so far as he is concerned in it, belongs to the period when
he had become President of the United States.

                              CHAPTER VI.


Two topics entirely unexpected by Mr. Buchanan when he accepted the
mission to England must here claim some attention. The first relates
to an occurrence which brought upon the United States the necessity
of demanding a recall of the British minister who then represented
the queen’s government at Washington. This was Mr. John F. Crampton,
a well-meaning and amiable gentleman, who had long resided in this
country as secretary of the British legation, and had been made
minister some time previously, but whose zeal in the service of his
government had led him into a distinct violation of our neutrality
in the war between England and Russia. It is altogether probable
that in his efforts to promote enlistments of men to serve in that
war, Mr. Crampton did not keep within the letter of his
instructions. It was, at all events, somewhat difficult, for a good
while, to convince Lord Clarendon that Mr. Crampton was personally
implicated in the unlawful acts which were undoubtedly done. But
there was but one course for the American government to pursue. The
history of this affair is somewhat curious.

When in April, 1854, Mr. Marcy had occasion to acknowledge the
receipt from Mr. Crampton of a note stating the new rule that would
be observed by Great Britain, in the war with Russia, towards
neutrals, after expressing his gratification, and, at the same time,
saying that the United States would have been still more gratified
if the rule that “free ships make free goods” had been extended to
all future wars to which Great Britain should be a party, he took
the precaution to remind Mr. Crampton in courteous terms of the
severe restrictions imposed by our laws against equipping
privateers, receiving commissions, or enlisting men within our
territories to take any part in a foreign war. Lord Clarendon, too,
at a later period (April 12, 1855), wrote to Mr. Crampton that “the
law of the United States, with respect to enlistment, however
conducted, is not only very just but very stringent, according to
the report which is enclosed in your despatch, and her Majesty’s
government would on no account run any risk of infringing this law
of the United States.”[18] For a time, Mr. Crampton acted
cautiously, but in the course of the summer of 1855, Mr. Marcy
received evidence which convinced him that the British minister was
personally implicated in carrying out arrangements for sending men
to Nova Scotia, under contracts made in the United States to enlist
as soldiers in the British army after their arrival in Halifax; and
that the means for sending them had been supplied by him and other
British functionaries. Mr. Buchanan was first instructed to bring
this matter to the attention of Lord Clarendon, before Mr.
Crampton’s direct agency in it had become known to our Government.
His letter of July 6, 1855, to Lord Clarendon, was a forcible
presentation of the grounds on which the United States complained of
such doings as an infraction of their laws and a violation of their
sovereignty. A long correspondence ensued, which was conducted at
times with some approach to acrimony, but which never actually
transcended the limits of diplomatic courtesy. At length the proofs
that Mr. Crampton was a party to this unlawful proceeding became so
forcible that the British government yielded to the request that he
might be recalled, and he was transferred to another diplomatic
post. The whole affair was attended at one time with serious risk of
an interruption in the friendly relations of the two countries. Mr.
Marcy’s course in the correspondence was greatly tempered in its
tone by the advice which he received from Mr. Buchanan, although the
hazard of an unfortunate issue of the trouble was much enhanced by
the sending of an unusual naval force to the coasts of the United
States, which the British government ordered while this affair was
pending, but without any special reference to it.

Footnote 18:

  A copy of this note was delivered to Mr. Marcy in the course of
  the month of May, 1855.

The so-called “Ostend Conference,” which at the time it occurred
made a great deal of noise, and in which Mr. Buchanan was directed
by his Government to participate, requires but a brief explanation.
It was not a meeting in any sense suggested by him, nor was there
anything connected with it which should have given rise to alarm.
When in the summer of 1856 he had become the nominee of the
Democratic party for the Presidency, as is usual on such occasions,
biographical sketches of his public and private character were
prepared and circulated. Among them was a small volume in duodecimo
form of 118 pages, written with far greater ability and precision
than was common in such ephemeral publications intended for
electioneering purposes. Its account of the whole matter of the
“Ostend Conference” is so exact and lucid that I do not hesitate to
quote it as a true history of that proceeding:[19]

Footnote 19:

  The copy of this little biography which is before me is entitled,
  Twentieth thousand. New York: Published by Livermore & Rudd, 310
  Broadway, 1856. It was published anonymously, but I am informed
  that the name of the author was Edward F. Underhill.

                        THE OSTEND CIRCULAR.

  It is the rare good fortune of Mr. Buchanan to have sustained a
  long career of public life with such singular discretion,
  integrity, and ability, that now, when he is presented by the
  great national party of the country as their candidate for the
  highest dignity in the Republic, nothing is seriously urged by
  political hostility in extenuation of his merit, save the alleged
  countenance to filibuster enterprise and cupidity, inferred by his
  enemies from a strained interpretation of the recommendations and
  views of the Ostend Conference. The political opponents of Mr.
  Buchanan call upon his supporters to vindicate the claim they
  assert in behalf of Mr. Buchanan to conservatism, by reconciling
  that assumption with his participation in the American Diplomatic
  Conference at Ostend and Aix la Chapelle, and with his adoption
  and endorsement, jointly with the ministers of the United States
  to France and Spain, of the views and recommendations addressed by
  the three ambassadors to the Department of State, on the 18th of
  October, 1854, in the letter commonly known as the Ostend
  Manifesto. The circumstance that the opposition meet the
  nomination of Mr. Buchanan with no other objection impugning his
  qualifications for the Presidential trust, cannot fail to confirm
  the popular belief in the justice and wisdom of the judgment that
  governed the Cincinnati convention in selecting a statesman so
  unassailable in the record of his political life, and so little
  obnoxious to personal censure and distrust, as the candidate of
  the great national party of the Union for the highest dignity in
  the Republic. For it is demonstrable that an erroneous impression
  exists as to the purport of the Aix la Chapelle letter; and that
  the policy therein declared by Mr. Buchanan and his associates, is
  identical with that which has uniformly been regarded and avowed
  as the policy of the United States in respect to the Island of
  Cuba. And a belief endeavored to be inculcated, that the policy of
  the Ostend conference was adopted in consultation or co-operation
  with the Red Republicans of Europe, is equally erroneous. This
  belief has originated in another supposition equally unfounded,
  that Mr. Soulé was in league with the leaders of the European
  revolutionary movement. The truth is, that fundamental differences
  existed between the policy of Mr. Soulé and Mazzini, Ledru Rollin,
  Kossuth, and Louis Blanc; and besides which fact it is well known
  that these revolutionary leaders themselves were agreed only upon
  one point, the necessity of revolution, and that they seldom speak
  to one another. The policy of the revolutionary party of Europe in
  reference to Cuba was this. They desired the United States to
  assist the Democratic party of Spain in creating a revolution at
  Madrid, which should dethrone the queen, and place the Democratic
  party in power, by the establishment of a republic, and then leave
  Cuba at her option to either remain a portion of the Spanish
  republic, or seek annexation to the United States. This concession
  to the United States was to be in return for material aid
  furnished in effecting the Spanish revolution. The revolution thus
  accomplished was intended to be the initiative of further
  revolutions on the Continent. The Pyrenees range of mountains
  which forms the boundary line between France and Spain are
  populated on either side by the most liberal men in either empire,
  the great mass of the inhabitants being Republican; and could a
  republic be established in Spain, the Pyrenees would not only
  furnish points from which to begin their revolutionary designs
  against France, but would form a barrier behind which they could
  defend themselves against any attack which Louis Napoleon might
  make. The revolution accomplished in France, Kossuth and Mazzini
  would have but little difficulty in overthrowing the power of
  Austria in Hungary and Italy. Such were the objects which the
  revolutionary leaders of Europe had in view in endeavoring to
  secure the influence of the United States Government in support of
  their policy.

  It is needless to say, that neither the Ostend conference nor the
  cabinet at Washington gave any countenance to this policy. The
  Ostend conference looked at the Cuba question solely from an
  American point of view, and quite disconnected from the conflicts
  and interests of European politics, or the aspirations of
  revolutionary leaders. On this account, so far from that policy
  receiving the favor of the Red Republicans, they were as pointed
  in their hostility to it as any of the monarchical organs of
  Europe, and did not hesitate to privately, and sometimes publicly,
  denounce Mr. Soulé for having signed the Ostend circular, as
  recreant to the expectations which they had formed in regard to
  him. Mr. Buchanan from first to last opposed the policy which
  would lead to the United States becoming involved in the European
  struggle, and held strictly to the American view of the question,
  in accordance with which the Ostend letter was framed.

  The conference at Ostend had its origin in the recommendation of
  Governor Marcy, who justly conceived that the mission with which
  Mr. Soulé was charged at the court of Spain might excite the
  jealousy of other European powers, and that it was important for
  the purpose of facilitating the negotiations there to be
  conducted, that explanations should be made to the governments of
  England and France, of the objects and purposes of the United
  States in any movement that events might render necessary, having
  in view the ultimate purchase or acquisition by this government of
  the Spanish Island of Cuba. The object of the consultation
  suggested by Mr. Marcy was, as stated in a letter to Mr. Soulé,
  “to bring the common wisdom and knowledge of the three ministers
  to bear simultaneously upon the negotiations at Madrid, London and
  Paris.” These negotiations had not necessarily in view the
  transfer of Cuba to this country; though that was one of the modes
  indicated, and seemingly the most effective, of terminating the
  constantly recurring grievances upon the commerce of the United
  States, upon the honor of its flag, and the personal rights of its
  citizens, which disturbed the cordial relations of the two
  countries, and infused acrimony into their intercourse connected
  with the prosecution of commerce. Another expedient which Governor
  Marcy regarded with favor, was the independence of the Island
  under the Creole sovereignty. At that time, in the summer of 1854,
  apprehensions of some important change in the social and political
  condition and relations of Cuba, were generally felt in this
  country. Rumors prevailed, founded on the then recent decrees and
  modifications of law pertaining to the servile condition, that it
  was in contemplation to establish the domination of the blacks in
  the Island; that the slaves were to be freed and armed, and that
  an extensive introduction of native Africans was to be resorted to
  as a means of re-enforcing the strength of the dominant party.

  Such, indeed, was the policy of Great Britain; first, to keep
  alive the slavery agitation in the United States, not from motives
  of philanthropy, but, by thus inciting internal discord between
  the people of different sections of the Union, the United States
  would be prevented from turning its attention to further schemes
  of territorial extension; and second, to flood Cuba with negroes
  under a system of apprenticeship, in order to render it valueless
  to the United States. The execution of such a scheme was regarded
  as eminently dangerous to the peace and safety of this country,
  and was one which the United States could not suffer, as the
  inevitable effects of such a policy, carried out, would be, sooner
  or later, to induce a servile insurrection in the Southern States.
  With a colony containing a million and a half of free negroes,
  immediately off our shores, an expedition could at any time be
  organized under European aid, and sent from Cuba to our Southern
  States to incite a rebellion, with all its attendant horrors,
  among the slaves. Mr. Soulé was instructed to ascertain whether it
  was in contemplation, and, if so, to seek to prevent it from being
  carried out, and to avert its baleful consequences to ourselves,
  by negotiating, first, for the purchase of Cuba, and if that were
  impracticable, then for the independence of the Island. It was not
  the greed of territorial expansion that prompted the instructions
  which convoked the Ostend conference; nor was that sentiment the
  controlling one that prompted the adoption by its members of the
  recommendations embodied in the Aix la Chapelle letter. The
  document is too long to publish at length, but the material
  passage which contains the doctrines which the opposition would
  fain lead the people to believe are dangerous, is subjoined:

  “But if Spain, deaf to the voice of her own interest, and actuated
  by stubborn pride and a false sense of honor, should refuse to
  sell Cuba to the United States, then the question will arise, what
  ought to be the course of the American Government under such
  circumstances? Self-preservation is the first law of nature with
  states as well as with individuals. All nations have at different
  periods acted upon this maxim. Although it has been made the
  pretext for committing flagrant injustice, as in the partition of
  Poland, and other similar cases which history records, yet the
  principle itself, though often abused, has always been recognized.
  The United States has never acquired a foot of territory except by
  fair purchase, or, as in the case of Texas, upon the free and
  voluntary application of the people of that independent state, who
  desired to blend their destinies with our own. Even our
  acquisitions from Mexico are no exception to the rule, because,
  although we might have claimed them by the right of conquest, in a
  just war, yet we purchased them for what was then considered by
  both parties a full and ample equivalent. Our past history forbids
  that we should acquire the Island of Cuba without the consent of
  Spain, unless justified by the great law of self-preservation. We
  must, in any event, preserve our own conscious rectitude and our
  own self-respect.

  “While pursuing this course, we can afford to disregard the
  censure of the world, to which we have been so often and so
  unjustly exposed. After we shall have offered Spain a price for
  Cuba far beyond its present value, and this shall have been
  refused, it will then be time to consider the question, does Cuba
  in the possession of Spain seriously endanger our internal peace
  and the existence of our cherished Union? Should this question be
  answered in the affirmative, then, by every law, human and divine,
  we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain, if we possess the
  power. And this, upon the very same principle that would justify
  an individual in tearing down the burning house of his neighbor if
  there were no other means of preventing the flames from destroying
  his own home. Under such circumstances, we ought neither to count
  the cost nor regard the odds which Spain might enlist against us.

  “We forbear to enter into the question whether the present
  condition of the Island would justify such a measure. We should,
  however, be recreant to our duty—be unworthy of our gallant
  forefathers, and commit base treason against our posterity, should
  we permit Cuba to be Africanized and to become a second St.
  Domingo, with all its attendant horrors to the white race, and
  suffer the flames to extend to our neighboring shores, seriously
  to endanger or actually to consume the fair fabric of our Union.
  We fear that the course and current of events are rapidly tending
  towards such a catastrophe....

                                                    “JAMES BUCHANAN,
                                                    “JOHN Y. MASON,
                                                    “PIERRE SOULÉ.

  “Aix la Chapelle, October 18, 1854.”

  One brief sentence in the above describes the purport and
  substance of the whole document: “Our past history forbids that we
  should acquire the Island of Cuba without the consent of Spain,
  unless justified by the great law of self-preservation.” If the
  acquisition of the Island should become the very condition of our
  existence, then if Spain shall refuse to part with it for a price
  “far beyond its present value,” we shall be justified “in wresting
  it” from her, “upon the very same principle that would justify an
  individual in tearing down the burning house of his neighbor, if
  there were no other means of preventing the flames from destroying
  his own home.”

  This doctrine is not original with the Ostend conference, nor did
  it emanate from filibustering cupidity, nor is it a mere party
  issue. It has been as broadly asserted, and as confidently and
  ably advocated, by a Whig statesman and administration, as in the
  Ostend manifesto. Mr. Everett, United States Secretary of State,
  in his letter to the British and French ministers declining the
  alliance tendered by them to guarantee the possession of Cuba to
  Spain for all coming time, defends his refusal, on the ground that
  the United States have an interest in the condition of Cuba which
  may justify her in assuming dominion over it—an interest in
  comparison with which that of England and France dwindles into

  The truth is, that its doctrines are the reverse of filibusterism,
  which means an unlawful, unauthorized depredation of individuals
  on the territory of countries with which we are at peace. The
  Ostend circular recommends no suspension or repeal of the
  neutrality laws, no modifications of the restrictions imposed by
  our traditional policy and statutes upon the acts of individuals
  who choose to filibuster; but it declares that, whenever an
  occasion arrives for a hostile act against the territory of any
  other nation, it must be by the sovereign act of the nation,
  through its regular army and navy. So inconsistent are the
  doctrines of the Ostend circular with filibusterism, that the
  publication of that document resulted in the cessation of all
  filibustering attempts against Cuba. But this is not the only
  result. The acts of aggression upon our citizens and our commerce,
  by the authorities in Cuba, prior to the Ostend conference, were
  of a character to seriously imperil the relations between the two
  countries. But since the Ostend conference, most of those
  difficulties have been settled, and the remainder are now in the
  course of settlement; and as the legitimate result of the bold and
  determined policy enunciated at Ostend, there has not since been a
  single outrage against the rights of our citizens in Cuba. A
  vacillating or less determined course on the part of our ministers
  would have only invited further aggression.

  Thus it will be seen that the letter upon which the charge is
  based by no means justifies the imputation. It only proves that,
  under circumstances threatening actual danger to the Republic,
  and in order to preserve its existence, the United States would
  be “justified, by the great law of self-preservation,” in
  acquiring the Island of Cuba without the consent of Spain. In
  its careful preclusion of filibustering intent and assumption,
  it shows the predominance of a conservative influence in the
  Congress, which the country may safely attribute to the weight
  of Mr. Buchanan’s counsels and character. It is obviously
  manifest from the tenor of the document, that the construction
  so sedulously contended for by the opponents of Democratic rule,
  is that which was most earnestly deprecated by the prevailing
  sentiment of its framers. Events were then in progress, and a
  perilous catastrophe seemed to impend, that asked of American
  statesmanship the exercise of all the decision, prudence and
  energy at its command, to regulate and guide the one in such a
  way as, if possible, to stay or avert the other. The local
  administration in Cuba had become alarmed for its safety, and,
  influenced by apprehension and terror of American filibusters,
  had already adopted measures of undiscriminating aggression upon
  the United States Government, by dishonoring its flag and
  violating the rights of its citizens, which, if persisted in,
  would inevitably have led to war. Nor was this the only danger;
  for it was industriously affirmed by those in the interests of
  Spanish rule, that the Island was to be “Africanized,” and
  delivered over to “an internal convulsion which should renew the
  horrors and the fate of St. Domingo”—an event to which, as Mr.
  Everett truly declares in his letter to the British and French
  ministers, declining the proposed alliance to guarantee Cuba to
  Spain, both France and England would prefer any change in the
  condition of that Island—not excepting even its acquisition by
  the United States. Under the circumstances, nothing less than so
  decided a manifestation of determined energy and purpose as was
  made through the instrumentality of the Ostend conference, would
  probably have prevailed to prevent that very struggle for the
  conquest of Cuba, which it is now alleged to have been its
  purpose to precipitate. And thus, as often happens in the
  conduct of affairs, the decision and firmness which seemed
  aggressive and menacing, facilitated a pacific and satisfactory
  solution of difficulties that threatened war.

                              CHAPTER VII.


The social position of Mr. Buchanan and his niece in England can be
described only by making extracts from letters. Miss Lane joined her
uncle in London in the spring of 1854, and remained with him until
the autumn of 1855. An American minister at the English court, at
periods of exciting and critical questions between the two nations,
is very likely to experience a considerable variation in the social
barometer. But the strength of Mr. Buchanan’s character, and the
agreeable personal qualities which were in him united with the
gravity of years and an experience of a very uncommon kind, overcame
at all times any tendency to social unpleasantness that might have
been caused by national feelings excited by temporary causes.
Letters written by Miss Lane from England to her sister Mrs. Baker
have been placed in my hands. From such letters, written in the
freedom of sisterly affection, I can take but very few extracts.
Many most eligible opportunities occurred which might have fixed the
fate of this young lady away from her own land; and it appears from
one of her uncle’s letters that after her return to America a very
exalted personage expressed regret that she had not been “detained”
in England. It was entirely from her own choice that she was not.

                      [MISS LANE TO MRS. BAKER.]

                      56 HARLEY STREET, LONDON, Friday Feb. 9, 1855.

  I have no letter from you, dearest sister, since I last wrote, but
  shall continue my fortnightly correspondence, though my letters
  are written so hastily that they are not what they should be. We
  are luxuriating in a deep snow, with a prospect of being housed,
  as nobody thinks of sleighing in England—indeed there are no
  sleighs. I returned home on Friday last, and really spent four
  weeks near Liverpool most happily, and truly regretted when our
  charming trio was broken up—we were so joyous and happy
  together...... Mr. and Mrs. Brown and Miss Hargraves came up with
  me, and Laly, after remaining a few days at the hotel, came to
  stay with me. She will remain until Thursday, and is a sweet, dear

  To my great regret Mr. Welsh talks of going to the United States
  on the 24th. I hope he may yet change his mind, for I shall miss
  him so much, as there is no one in the legation I can call upon
  with the same freedom as I do on him. Our secretary is not yet
  appointed; it is said Mr. Appleton has received an offer of the
  place; if he should come, uncle will be perfectly satisfied, as he
  was his first choice. The Lawrences talk of going upon the
  continent in March...... Mr. Mason continues to get better, but I
  would not be surprised to hear of their anticipated return, as I
  am sure his health would be much better in Virginia than in

  They have had great trouble here in forming a new ministry, and I
  am sorry Lord Aberdeen has gone out, as he is a great friend of
  the United States, and Lord Palmerston, the new prime minister, is
  not. London is still dull, but begins to fill up more since
  Parliament is in session. The war affects everything; there are no
  drawing-rooms announced as yet, and it is doubted whether there
  will be any, at least until after Easter. The queen returns to
  town the middle of this month. Uncle is well, and seems to escape
  the cold that is so prevalent. There are few Americans here now,
  and the “Arctic” will deter them from crossing in such numbers to
  the World’s Fair in Paris in May. We have had canvas-back duck
  sent us lately, and it really takes one quite home again. How you
  would have enjoyed them. Do you have them in California? Mr. ——
  still continues in London. He has called since my return, but
  unfortunately I was not at home; however I like his remaining so
  long in London with no other attraction...... —— was in London for
  two hours the other day, and passed one here. His sister continues
  very ill. Do write me often, dear sister. I dare say your time is
  much occupied now, but send a few lines.

                                                     MARCH 2d, 1855.

  I did not send you a letter last week, dear sister, for I was not
  very well and writing fatigued me. I am much better now, and as
  the weather has become much milder, I hope my cold will pass
  entirely off. I have your letters of Dec. 31st and Jan. 15th, and
  think you have indeed been lucky in presents. There is not much of
  that among grown persons here; they keep Christmas gaily, and the
  children receive the presents......

  Every thing is worn in Paris standing out. Skirts cannot be too
  full and stiff; sleeves are still open, and basque bodies, either
  open in front or closed; flounces are very much worn. I had some
  dresses made in Paris that I wish you could see.

  Uncle wrote you ten days ago, direct to California. He is in good
  health and spirits, and likes much to hear from you. We have dined
  with the queen since I wrote. Her invitations are always short,
  and as the court was in mourning and I had no black dress, one
  day’s notice kept me very busy...... I ought to have black
  dresses, for the court is often in mourning, and you know I belong
  to it; but the season being quiet, I did not expect to go out to
  any court parties. The queen was most gracious, and talked a great
  deal to me. Uncle sat upon her right hand, and Prince Albert was
  talkative, and altogether we passed a charming evening. The
  Princess-Royal came in after dinner, and is simple, unaffected,
  and very child-like—her perfect simplicity and sweet manners are
  charming. Every thing of course was magnificent at the table—gold
  in profusion, twelve candelabras with four candles each; but you
  know I never can describe things of this sort. With mirrors and
  candles all around the room, a band of delicious music playing all
  the time, it was a little like fairy-land in its magnificence. We
  had another band after dinner, while we took tea. Every thing is
  unsettled here about the war and the ministry, and, really,
  England seems in a bad way at present. It is positively stated
  that the Emperor Napoleon is going to the Crimea, in opposition to
  the advice of all his friends.

                                                    MARCH 23d, 1855.

  I have your bright, cheerful letter of Jan. 31st, dear sister, and
  rejoice in your good spirits. I have not been quite well for a few
  weeks, suffering from cold—the weather has been so dreadful—so
  that I have gone out but little; indeed, there seems to be a gloom
  over everything in the gay line this year. Archbishop Hughes dined
  with us on his way to the United States. He spoke of remembering
  me in Washington at uncle’s, where he never saw me, and of course
  it was you. We have given one large dinner this year, and I am
  sorry it is time for them to commence. Our old butler, Cates, was
  ill at the time, and on last Tuesday the honest old creature died.
  We all felt it very much, as he was a capital servant, and so
  faithful—my right-hand man. We dined two and twenty on the 10th,
  English and Americans, and it passed off very well. Wednesday was
  “fast-day,” and universally unpopular. They said, “we fast for the
  gross mismanagement by the ministers of our affairs in the
  Crimea,” and all such things. There is great satisfaction at the
  czar’s death, and not the same respect paid by the court here that
  there was in France. Mr. Appleton, our new Secretary, has arrived,
  and will be presented to her Majesty on Monday. On Thursday, the
  29th, will be the first drawing-room. I shall not go. It will not
  be a full one, as it comes before Easter, and it is rumored that
  the Emperor and Empress of the French are coming in April. Unless
  required to present Americans, I shall not go to more than two
  this year. It is so expensive—one cannot wear the same dress
  twice. There are usually four during the season.

  I have given up all idea of returning home before June, and most
  likely not until uncle does in October; but I highly approve of
  your plan to pay us a visit upon our return. As to my going to
  California, you know how I should like it for your sake, but uncle
  would never hear of my taking such a journey. It is different with
  you; you return to see _every one_......

                                                   April 20th, 1855.

  I have yours of February 28th, and am delighted to hear you are so
  snug and comfortable. Uncle positively talks of my return in June,
  and he has really been so good and kind that if he thinks it best,
  I must not oppose it. He is not going to charge me with any money
  I have drawn, makes me a present of my visit here, and has
  gratified me in every thing. He gives up his house on the 7th of
  July, and will go to some place in the country, near London. If he
  kept it until October, he would have to pay for several months
  more, and it will economize a little to give it up—every thing is
  so enormous here. I hope you have better luck about getting to
  church, as I think you have been living very like a heathen. Much
  obliged for the postage stamps. There are some alterations in the
  postage law lately; every thing must be prepaid.

  The emperor and empress arrived here on Monday last, and went
  immediately to Windsor. All London is mad with excitement and
  enthusiasm, and wherever they move throngs of people follow them.
  Yesterday they came to Buckingham Palace, and went into the city
  to be present at a magnificent entertainment at Guildhall. There
  never was such a crowd seen. In the afternoon at five they
  received the diplomatic corps at the French Embassy, and I had a
  long talk with her Majesty, who was most gracious and affable. She
  is very striking, elegant and graceful. She wore a green silk,
  flounced to the waist with seven or eight white lace flounces,
  white lace mantle, and white crape bonnet and feathers. We go to
  the palace to-night to an evening party, and there I shall even
  have a better opportunity of seeing them. I was disappointed in
  the emperor’s appearance—he is very short. Last night they
  accompanied the queen, in state, to the opera, and there was a
  grand illumination all over the city. I drove out to see it, but
  there was such a crush of carriages, men, women and children, that
  I was glad to get home. They were asking from fifty to one hundred
  guineas for boxes at the opera, and from ten to forty for single
  stalls. To-morrow the imperial guests depart, and London will
  again return to its sober senses. There does not seem to be much
  gaiety in prospect, but really this visit seems to be the only
  thing thought of. The Masons are not coming to pay me a visit.
  Betty has gone to Nice with her father, for his health. It is said
  the queen will go to Paris at the opening of the exposition in
  May. Ellen Ward’s marriage is postponed until the fifth of June,
  by her father’s request. Mr. T. writes he has taken a state-room
  on the Baltic, which was to sail on the 18th. He has talked of
  this visit so long that I would not be surprised to hear it ended
  in nothing. Lu has every thing planned and fixed and _destined_ to
  take place just as she _wishes_, even that I am to be married in
  my travelling dress and very quietly. I was at the Crystal Palace
  on Tuesday, which is truly the most fairy-like and exquisitely
  beautiful thing that could be made. The royal party go there
  to-day. The building far exceeds in magnificence the one erecting
  now in Paris. Mr. —— has lost his favorite sister, and is in great
  distress, so I have not seen him for a time. I have made another
  conquest, who comes in the true American style, _every day_. He is
  rich and keeps a yacht, which costs him £2000 a year. Beaux are
  pleasant, but dreadfully troublesome......

                                                       MAY 3d, 1855.

  I have yours, dear sister, of March 16th, and really your account
  of the failures and rascals among your Californians is quite

  London is looking up in the way of gaiety, though the war is still
  a sad weight upon many hearts. Yesterday (Wednesday) I attended
  the second drawing-room of the season. You remember I was not
  quite well at the first, and did not go. It was a very full and
  brilliant one. I wore a pink silk petticoat, over-skirts of pink
  tulle, puffed, and trimmed with wreaths of apple blossoms; train
  of pink silk, trimmed with blonde and apple blossoms, and so was
  the body. Head-dress, apple blossoms, lace lappits and
  feathers.[20] There will be one more in celebration of the
  birth-day on the 19th. Her Majesty was very gracious to me
  yesterday, as was also the prince. On Wednesday next there is to
  be a state ball at Buckingham Palace, which we shall of course
  attend. On Monday Mrs. Shapter and I ran down to Brighton on the
  sea-side, and returned on Tuesday night. We enjoyed it very much,
  and I am sure the change was beneficial to both. I had two
  splendid rides upon horseback along the water. Mrs. Shapter goes
  away for a week on Saturday, and I shall miss her dreadfully. You
  have doubtless heard of the attempt to assassinate the Emperor
  Napoleon since his return from London. The diplomatic corps are
  invited to be present at the singing of the Te Deum in the chapel
  of the French Embassy on Sunday next, in celebration of the
  emperor’s escape......

  I have seen ——, and he ordered his gardener to send me from the
  country all the roses he had in bloom, for the drawing-room.
  Preceding the box came a sweet little note, which I of course
  answered in a _tender_ way. Mr. ——, the man of the yacht, is
  getting quite desperate, as he is ordered to join his regiment for
  a month. He is constantly sending me flowers, and after his visit
  to-day, despatched a magnificent bouquet. He is a very nice
  fellow, and I really am sorry...... Uncle of course knows and sees
  every one who comes to the house, and places _such confidence in
  me_ that he gives himself no uneasiness. I have as many beautiful
  flowers now, as my drawing-room can well hold. I wish I could see
  you, dear Maye, and hope you can come home for a nice long visit
  when we return. June is still _talked_ of for my return. I do not
  know how it will be. My best love to Mr. B.

Footnote 20:

  On their return home from that drawing-room, Mr. Buchanan said to
  his niece: “Well, a person would have supposed you were a great
  beauty, to have heard the way you were talked of to-day. I was
  asked if we had many such handsome ladies in America. I answered,
  ‘Yes, and many much handsomer. She would scarcely be remarked
  there for her beauty.’” This anecdote is taken from a book
  published at New York in 1870, entitled, LADIES OF THE WHITE
  HOUSE, by Laura Carter Holloway. Deducting a little from the
  somewhat gushing style in which the biographical sketches in this
  book are written, it is reliable in its main facts, and it does no
  more than justice to Miss Lane’s attractions and to the high
  consideration in which she was held in English society.

                                            FRIDAY, July 13th, 1855.

  I have not had a letter from you in a long time, and hope “no news
  is good news.” London is going through the usual routine of balls
  and parties, and has nearly exhausted itself of its yearly labors.
  Lord Raglan’s death has been very much felt, and throws many
  families into mourning. Miss Steiner, one of the young ladies who
  stood bridesmaid with me at Miss Jackson’s wedding, is now staying
  with me. She is a sweet girl; came on Wednesday and I think will
  leave on Monday. Her brother has just returned from America, and
  expresses himself much pleased with all he saw. We have dined with
  the Archbishop of Canterbury since I wrote you, which will please
  Uncle Edward. He lives in Lambeth Palace, the residence of the
  ancient archbishops, and we dined in the grand baronial reception
  hall. We have had two large dinners, and give another next
  Thursday, which will end our large entertainments, I dare say. We
  went to Oxford the day of the Commemoration, and uncle had
  conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Civil Law. It was most
  gratifying and agreeable.[21] The same evening the queen gave her
  last concert, and we were obliged to return to town. The King of
  the Belgians is now on a visit to the queen, and they have all
  gone to Osborne. The season is very nearly over, and I am really
  glad to be done with lengthy dinners and crowded hot balls for a
  while. I have now ...... a man of high position, clever and
  talented, very rich, and the only fault to find is his age, which
  is certainly great, as he will be sixty next year. He has a
  daughter who is a widow, and I might pass for _her_ daughter. But
  I really like him very much, and know how devoted he would be. I
  should have everything to my heart’s best satisfaction, and go
  home as often as I liked. But I will write no more about it......

  Uncle is well and has passed this season remarkably well. I have
  partially engaged a state-room for August 25th, but scarcely think
  I will go then. The steamers are going so full now that it is
  necessary to engage a long time before.

  We have been giving Friday evening receptions since June 15th, and
  next Friday, the 20th, will be the last; we have had six. I hear
  the exhibition in Paris is improving, and that will bring even
  more Americans. As Miss Steiner and I are going out, I must stop
  writing and get ready. How constantly I wish for you, and trust,
  dear sister, whether I return to America or remain in England,
  that it will not be many months before I see you once more. Love
  to Mr. B. and yourself, from

                                            Your ever affectionate

Footnote 21:

  This mention of the Commemoration Day at Oxford, where Mr.
  Buchanan, along with the poet Tennyson, received the degree of D.
  C. L., does not do justice to the scene. The students, after their
  fashion, greeted Miss Lane’s appearance with loud cheers, and on
  her uncle they bestowed their applause vociferously.

                           [TO MRS. BAKER.]

                                            LONDON, October 6, 1854.


  I received your letter in due time, of the 14th July, and should
  have answered it long ere this, but that I knew Harriet wrote to
  you regularly. I wrote to you soon after my arrival in London, but
  you have never acknowledged that letter, and as you have said
  nothing about it in yours of the 14th July, I fear it has

  If I do not write often it is not because you are not freshly and
  most kindly remembered. Indeed I feel great anxiety about your
  health and prosperity, and am rejoiced that you appear to be happy
  in San Francisco. You are often, very often, a subject of
  conversation between Harriet and myself.

  We set out for Belgium to-morrow, where I have important public
  business to transact. I take Harriet along to enable her to see a
  little of the continent, and I may perhaps have time to accompany
  her along the Rhine.

  I cannot be long absent, because the business of this legation is
  incessant, important, and laborious.

  Thank God! I have been enjoying my usual health here, and am
  treated as kindly as I could have expected. And yet I long to
  return home, but must remain nearly another year to fulfill my
  engagement with the President when I most reluctantly consented to
  accept the mission. Should a kind Providence prolong my days, I
  hope to pass the remnant of them in tranquillity and retirement at
  Wheatland. I have been kindly treated by the world, but am
  heartily sick of public life. Besides a wise man ought to desire
  to pass some time in privacy before his inevitable doom......

  I hope to be able to take Harriet on a short visit to Paris before
  her return to the United States. I have but little time to write
  to-day after my despatches, and determined not to let another post
  for California pass without writing. Remember me kindly to Mr.
  Baker, and believe me to be with warm and sincere affection and

                                              Your uncle,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                       [TO MISS LANE IN PARIS.]

                                          LONDON, November 10, 1854.


  I do not regard the article in the Pennsylvanian; but if Mr. Tyson
  has really become a “know-nothing,” this would be a different
  matter. It would at least, in some degree, modify the high opinion
  which I had formed of him from his general character and his known

  I accompanied Mrs. Lawrence to the new lord mayor’s banquet last
  evening. I got the lady mayoress to substitute her in your
  place...... There were no ladies of foreign ministers present and
  none I believe were invited, so that there would have been no
  other mode of introducing you except through the lady mayoress.
  The new lord mayor was exceedingly and specially civil to me.

  I wish you to make out your visit to Paris. We can get along
  without you here, though you may think this impossible. Mr. Welsh
  informs me that Mr. Mason will accompany you home; at this I
  should be greatly rejoiced. The news, I fear, is too good to be
  true. Much pleasure as it would afford me to see him, and have him
  under my roof, I do not wish this unless he desires to pay me a
  visit of some duration, and see the wonders of London. If it be
  merely to accompany you and nothing more, it would be another
  matter. This would be carrying civility too far.

  If I have felt anxious about you, just consider the unaccountable
  marriages which —— and —— have both made.

  Many of your friends make kind inquiries after you. With my
  kindest regards to Mr. and Mrs. Mason and the family, I remain,

                                          Yours affectionately, etc.

                                              LONDON, Jan. 20, 1855.

  I have received yours of yesterday. In answer I say, do just as
  you please and then you will please me best. I desire that whilst
  you remain in England, you should enjoy yourself prudently and
  discreetly in the manner most agreeable to yourself. If you desire
  it, there can be no objection to a visit to Miss Hargreaves.

  I send the letters received by the last steamer. I got one myself
  from Mr. Macalester who says, “Please to say to Miss Harriet that
  ‘Job’ will be out in the spring, provided the ...... gentleman is
  disposed of (as he could wish) in the interim.”

  For my part, my impressions are favorable to “Job,” although I
  consider him rather a cold lover to wait for a whole year. He does
  not know that you will be home in the spring, and that he may
  spare himself the voyage, nor did I so inform Mr. Macalester.

  I dine to-day “en famille” with General D’Oxholme. With my regards
  to all, I remain,

                                          Yours affectionately, etc.

                                                   January 31, 1855.

  ...... In regard to Miss Hargreaves, our loves are mutual. I
  admire her very much. Return her my love, with all my heart; but
  alas! what signifies the love of a man nearly sixty-four.

  I have accepted Mr. Atkinson’s invitation both for you and myself.

                                                    August 18, 1855.

  I enclose a letter to you from Mr. H. Randall which I opened,
  seeing that it came from Manchester, and believing it was about
  the shawls. I have sent the two shawls mentioned in the letter as
  requested to Messrs. —— & Co., and informed Mr. Randall where you
  are, and that you would not be in London until Monday the 27th

  There is no news of any consequence. I dined yesterday with Sir
  Richard Pakenham at the Traveller’s Club, and we had a pleasant
  time of it. I shall meet him again at dinner on Tuesday next at
  Count Lavradio’s, to which you were also invited.

  Sir Richard is a sensible man. He has absolutely resigned, and has
  only been prevailed upon to attend the coronation of the young
  king of Portugal as British Minister. He will be back from Lisbon
  in October. He says he is determined not to wear out his life from
  home, but pass the remnant of his days among his relatives and
  friends in Ireland. I am persuaded he has not the least idea of
  marrying a young wife, though younger than Sir F. He was born in
  ’97 and Sir F. in ’96. I am in favor of a considerable disparity
  between the ages of husband and wife for many reasons, and should
  be especially so in your case. Still I do not think that your
  husband ought to be more than double your age.

                                                    August 20, 1855.

  I enclose you a number of letters, including all received by the
  “Atlantic.” There is one, I presume, from Lady Ouseley. I wrote to
  her and informed her of the circumstances of your visit to the
  Isle of Wight, and your intention to pass some time with me at the
  Star and Garter before proceeding to Lancashire, and our intention
  then to visit them and Miss Gamble.

  I learn by a letter from John H. Houston that poor Jessie is very
  ill of a typhoid fever, and her recovery doubtful, to say the
  least. Brother Edward had been sent for, and was expected.

  I have received instructions from Governor Marcy on the Central
  American questions, which render it almost morally certain that
  from their nature they cannot be executed before the 30th of
  September; with declarations that I am the most proper person,
  etc., etc., etc., to carry them into effect, and not a word about
  my successor. Indeed, Mr. Hunter, the chief clerk, writes me as
  follows, under date of August 6th: “I hear nothing as to who is to
  be your successor. It is no doubt a difficult question to decide.”

                                                    August 23, 1855.

  I know nothing at present which will prevent me from accompanying
  Mr. Appleton to the Isle of Wight. Why should I not occasionally
  take “a spree” as well as Mr. Shapter? You may, therefore, secure
  me a room in the hotel, should this be deemed necessary. I shall
  be there some time on Saturday. Till then, farewell!

                                                    August 28, 1855.

  I opened a letter for you from Glasgow. It is dated on the 24th,
  and announces the sending of the two shawls—“grey centre, with
  black and scarlet border.” They have not yet been received,
  neither had those I returned been received.

  There was no letter for you by the “Asia.” I send the three last
  _Heralds_. Poor Mr. Lawrence had been given up.[22] There were no
  longer any hopes of his recovery. Col. L. is still in Paris. His
  brother and lady are, I understand, in London, and will leave for
  home by the “Arago,” from Southampton, to-morrow.

  I had not a word from Washington, official or unofficial—nothing
  about poor Jessie. We had a very pleasant time on our return from
  Black Gang Chine, and indeed throughout our excursion. The
  Shanklin Chine is much more picturesque than the Black Gang
  affair. No news.

Footnote 22:

  The Honorable Abbot Lawrence, of Boston.

Miss Lane returned to the United States shortly before the date of
this letter.

                                           LONDON, October 12, 1855.


  I have been watching the weather since you departed, and it has
  been as favorable as I could have desired. If the winds and the
  waves have been as propitious as my wishes and my hopes induce me
  to believe, you will have had a delightful voyage. Good luck to
  you on your native soil! I miss you greatly; but know it was for
  your good that you should go home in this delightful weather,
  instead of encountering a winter passage.

  Every person I meet has something kind to say of you. You have
  left a good name behind, and that is something, but not more than
  you deserve.

  Poor Lady Ouseley has lost her son. I have not seen her since this
  sad event, but of course have called.

  I have met Lady Chantrey, Mrs. Shapter, the D’Oxholmes, etc.,
  etc., but need not repeat what they said.

  Sir Henry Holland called on Wednesday immediately after his
  return, and expressed both sorrow and disappointment that he had
  not seen you before your departure. He desired me to present you
  his kindest regards, and says, God willing, he will call upon you
  next summer in the United States.

  Take good care not to display any foreign airs and graces in
  society at home, nor descant upon your intercourse with titled
  people:—but your own good sense will teach you this lesson. I
  shall be happy on my return to learn that it has been truly said
  of you, “she has not been a bit spoiled by her visit to England.”

  I forgot to tell you I had seen the good duchess, who said many
  extravagant things about you.

  I received a letter from Mrs. Plitt by the last steamer, directed
  to you, with instructions that if you had left I might open and
  read and then burn it, all which I have done.

  I wrote to Miss Hetty by the Southampton steamer on Wednesday
  last, and sent two of the _Posts_.

  I shall give up the house towards the end of the month. Mr.
  Appleton now occupies your room, and renders himself quite

  I have not seen Grey[23] since you left; but she says she did put
  up your slippers in the black bag. I shall make it a point to see
  her and talk with her before she finally leaves the house. She has
  been absent, but is backwards and forwards.

  I heard nothing from Washington by the last steamer respecting
  myself. I shall present my letter of recall, and take leave of the
  queen soon after it arrives. As you know, I am heartily tired of
  my position. But what then? I do not wish to arrive in the United
  States before the meeting of Congress. I am uncertain what I shall
  do, but will always keep you advised, having confidence that you
  will not talk about my intended movements......

  Louis Napoleon at the present moment wields more real power than
  ever his great uncle did. All the potentates in Europe dread him,
  and are paying court to him. He has England in leading strings
  nearly as much as Sardinia. How have the mighty fallen!

  Mr. Ward came to the legation to take leave of you a few moments
  after you left on Friday morning. Consols have been falling,
  falling continually for the last week, and this makes him

  Mrs. Shapter promised to write by the steamer. She has arranged
  the account you left with her in a satisfactory manner. She has
  not yet sent her letter, which I shall transmit by the bag.

  Mrs. Lawrence called this morning to take leave of me. She appears
  to be much rejoiced at the prospect of getting home.

Footnote 23:

  Miss Lane’s English maid.

                                                   October 19, 1855.

  Whilst I write, I congratulate myself with the belief that under
  the blessing of Providence, you are again happily in your native
  land and among kind friends. The passage of the Baltic from New
  York to Liverpool was one of the smoothest and most agreeable ever
  made. Hence we have every reason to believe that the Atlantic
  enjoyed the same favorable weather.

  I had a very pretty note from Mrs. Sturgis on the 15th instant,
  presenting me with a water melon, in which she says: “I was sorry
  not to say ‘good bye’ to Miss Lane in person, but we did not
  forget to drink her health and a prosperous voyage, and we feel
  how very much we shall miss her and her praises another
  season.[24]” Of course I answered this note in a proper manner.

  The good but eccentric duchess always speaks of you in terms of
  warm affection and regard, and sends her kindest love.

  Mr. and Mrs. Alston, of South Carolina, and Mr. Elliott, the
  Commissioner of that State at the Paris Exhibition, passed last
  Sunday evening with us. She is a superior woman, and withal quite
  good looking and agreeable.

  I received the enclosed letter from Mary to you on Monday last, by
  the Baltic. Knowing from unmistakable signs that it came from
  Mary, I opened it merely to ascertain that she was well. I
  purposely know but little of its contents. I wrote to her
  yesterday, and invited her to pay us a visit next spring, offering
  to pay the expenses of her journey. I suggested that it would
  scarcely be worth her while to pay us a visit for less than a
  year, and that in the mean time, Mr. Baker’s expenses would be
  much reduced, and he would have an opportunity of arranging his

  Doctor and Mrs. Le Vert, formerly Miss Octavia Walton, are now
  here. Strangely enough, I had never met her before. She is
  sprightly, talkative and animated, but does not seem to understand
  the art of growing old gracefully. I shall make a favorable
  impression on her, I trust, by being a good listener. I have not
  seen her daughter, but they are all to be with me some evening
  before their departure, which will be in the Arago on the 24th

  I have not received my letter of recall, and entertain but little
  hope that it will be sent before General Thomas shall reach
  Washington. I will keep you advised. I dine to-day with General

  The repulse of the Russians at Kars astonishes me. The Turks and
  the French have acquired the glory of the present war. Our mother
  England is rather upon the background.

  Sir William and Lady Ouseley are most deeply affected by the loss
  of their son. I saw her last night for the first time since the
  sad event, and most sincerely sympathized with her. She became
  calmer after the first burst of grief was over, and talked much
  about you. On request of Sir William I write to-day to Mrs.
  Roosevelt, giving her the sad information.

  Lady Stafford requests me by letter to give you her warmest
  regards, and to tell you she hopes Heaven will bless you both in
  time and eternity.

  Mrs. Shapter looks delicate. I saw her yesterday. She said she
  would write, but I have not yet received her letter. Should it
  come, I shall send it by the despatch bag.

Footnote 24:

  Mrs. Russell Sturgis.

                                                   October 26, 1855.

  I have but little time to write before the closing of the mail,
  having been much and unexpectedly engaged to-day.

  Almost every person I meet speaks kindly of you. I dined with Lady
  Talbot de Malahide on Tuesday last, and she desired me specially
  to send you her kindest love. Doctor, Madame and Miss Le Vert
  passed last Sunday evening with me. She is a most agreeable
  person. I think it right to say this of her, after what I wrote
  you in my last letter.

  I dine to-day with Lady Chantrey, where I am to meet Dr. Twiss.

  Grey left yesterday morning on a visit to her relatives in
  Devonshire. I made her a present of a sovereign to pay her
  expenses there, besides paying her week’s wages. I have enlisted
  Lady Chantrey warmly in her favor, and I hope she may procure a

  I received by the last steamer a private letter from Governor
  Marcy, in answer to mine requesting my letter of recall. He
  informs me it had been sent and was then on its way. There is
  something mysterious in the matter which I cannot explain. It has
  not yet arrived, though it ought to have been here before your
  departure. Before that, I had received despatches Nos. 109 and
  111. Despatch No. 110—the intermediate one—has not yet come to
  hand. I presume my letter of recall was in the missing despatch. I
  have my own suspicions, but these do not attach to Governor Marcy.
  His letter was frank and friendly, and was evidently written in
  the full conviction that I would have received my recall before
  his letter could reach me. Some people are very anxious to delay
  my return home.

  Now the aspect of things has changed. The British government has
  recently sent a considerable fleet to our coasts, and most
  inflammatory and absurd articles in reference to the object of
  this fleet have appeared in the _Times_, the _Globe_, and the
  _Morning Post_. I have no doubt they will be republished all over
  the United States. The aspect of affairs between the two countries
  has now become squally; and Mr. Appleton will not consent to
  remain here as chargé till the new minister arrives. In this he is
  right; and consistently with my honor and character, I could not
  desert my post under such circumstances. I may, therefore, be
  compelled to remain here until the end of December, or even
  longer. This will depend on the time of the appointment of my
  successor, which may not be until the meeting of Congress. It is
  possible that Mr. Appleton may return home by the Pacific on the
  3d November. He is very anxious I should consent to it, which,
  however, I have not yet done.

  I trust I may hear of your arrival at home by the Pacific on
  to-morrow. The foggy and rainy weather has commenced, and the
  climate is now dreary. Mr. and Mrs. John Wurts, of New York,
  passed the evening with me yesterday. He is an old friend and she
  an agreeable lady. They will return by the Pacific.

                                                 November 9th, 1855.

  I have received your favors of the 21st and 22d October. I thank
  Heaven that you have arrived at home in health and safety. The
  weather since your departure has been such as you know prevails at
  this season, and London has been even too dull for me, and this is
  saying much for it.

  I received my letter of recall, dated on the 11th September, last
  Monday, the 5th instant, with an explanation from Governor Marcy
  of the mistake which had occasioned its delay. Had this been sent
  on the 11th September, I might with all convenience have
  accompanied you home, either on the 6th or, at latest, on the 20th

  The storm which has been raised in England in regard to the
  relations between the two countries renders it impossible that I
  should leave the legation at the present moment. Mr. Appleton has
  at length reluctantly consented to remain until my departure, and
  this relieves me from much embarrassment. I now hope to be at home
  early in January, but this for the present you had better keep to
  yourself. I may in the meantime probably visit Paris.

  I regret that such unfounded reports respecting Mr. Mason’s health
  should reach the United States.

  You speak to me concerning the Presidency. You of all other
  persons best know that even if there were no other cogent reasons,
  the state of my health is not such as would enable me to undergo
  the intense anxiety and fatigue incident to wearing that crown of
  thorns. Of course I wish nothing said about the state of my

  My friends in Pennsylvania constitute the ablest and most honest
  portion of the Democratic party. They now have the power in their
  own hands, and they ought, _for their own benefit, not mine_, to
  take care that Pennsylvania shall be represented by proper persons
  in the national convention. They can, if they will, exert such a
  powerful influence as to select the best man for the country from
  among the list of candidates, and _thus take care of themselves_.
  This would be my advice to them, were I at home. I hope they may
  follow it. As far as I can learn, President Pierce is daily
  growing stronger for a renomination.

  I enclose you a note which I have received from the Duchess of

  I know not whether Mrs. Shapter will write to you to-day. I
  communicated your kind messages, with which she appeared to be
  much gratified, and spoke of you most affectionately.

  You will be gratified to learn that Sir —— does not bear malice.
  Mr. Bedinger in writing to me from Copenhagen on the 4th instant,
  says: “I saw them both several times. Sir —— and his charming
  niece (for so I found her), told me much of yourself and your
  charming niece, who they said had recently left you for America.”

  I have a very long despatch for to-day, and must bid you adieu.
  May God be with you to protect and direct you. Be prudent and
  circumspect and cautious in your communications to others. There
  are very few people in the world who can keep a secret. They must
  tell or burst.

                                                November 16th, 1855.

  I have received your favor of the 30th ultimo, per the Atlantic.

  General Webb’s advice is likely to be followed, very much against
  my own will. I am now in the midst of the storm, and my sense of
  duty leaves me no alternative but to remain at my post until the
  danger shall have passed away, or until President Pierce shall
  think proper to appoint my successor. Mr. Appleton goes home by
  this steamer. The President had sent him a commission as chargé ad
  interim, to continue from my departure until the arrival of my
  successor. I resisted his importunities to go home as long as I
  could, but the last letter from his wife was of such a character
  that I could no longer resist. He is a _perfect_ secretary, as
  well as an excellent friend. He has been in the house with me
  since your departure, and I shall not now give the house up for
  the present. The little cook has done very well.

  I presume that ere this you know that Colonel Forney has come out
  openly in favor of the renomination of General Pierce. You know
  that I considered this almost unavoidable. General Pierce placed
  him in the _Union_, and has maintained him there and afforded him
  the means of making a fortune. Besides, he is the editor of the
  President’s official journal. Under these circumstances, he could
  not well have acted otherwise, and I do not blame him for it.
  Still he will be severely attacked, and in self-defence will be
  obliged to come out and say that he has acted thus because I had
  determined not to become a candidate for nomination before the
  national convention; and this defence will be nothing more than
  the truth. This will possibly place Mr. Dallas and General Pierce
  as rival candidates before the Democracy of Pennsylvania, which
  might prove unfortunate. _But still be quiet and discreet and say

  If I had any views to the Presidency, which I have not, I would
  advise you not to remain longer in Philadelphia than you can well
  avoid. A large portion of my friends in that city are bitterly
  hostile to those whom you must necessarily meet there. I presume,
  without knowing, that Governor Bigler will be the candidate of the
  administration for the Senate.

  Lady Ouseley desires me to send you her kindest love, and I
  believe she entertains for you a warm affection. I have not seen
  her to deliver your message since the receipt of your letter. Lady
  Alice Peel, Lady Chantry and others send their kind regards. I
  dine with Mrs. Shapter to-morrow.

  I shall write by the present steamer to James Henry to come out
  here immediately, as I may be detained until January or February,
  and I shall want some person to be in the house with me. Could I
  have foreseen what has come to pass, I might have been selfish
  enough to retain you here. I can scarcely see the paper for a
  “yellow fog.” I wish you could call to see John G. Brenner and his

  Give my love to brother Edward and his family.

                                                 November 23d, 1855.

  I have received your favors of the 5th and 6th instants, and
  immediately posted your letters to the duchess, Lady Ouseley and
  Miss Hargreaves.

  The weather here has been even more disagreeable than usual for
  the season, and I have had a cough and clearing of the throat
  exactly similar to your own last winter. I have not used any
  remedies for it, and it is now, thank Heaven, passing away. Since
  Mr. Appleton left, I have got Mr. Moran to sleep in the house with

  Lady Ouseley has been quite unwell, but she was able to ride out
  in my carriage yesterday...... She says, “when you write to Miss
  Lane, pray give her my best love, with many thanks for her kind
  note, which I will answer as soon as I am better.”

  In a letter from Mrs. Roosevelt, dated on the 13th ultimo, in
  which, after mentioning that she had learned your intention to
  return home, she invites you to make her house your home while in
  New York, etc., etc. I have written to her to-day, thanking her
  for her kind invitation, and expressing the desire that you should
  know each other better.

  I agree with you in opinion that Mr. —— is not the man to succeed
  in public life, or in captivating such fastidious ladies as
  yourself; but yet I have no doubt he is a good and amiable man, as
  he is certainly well informed. Much allowance ought to be made for
  wounded vanity. But I admit I am no judge in these matters, since
  you inform me that Mr. —— has been the admiration of Philadelphia

  Mr. Van Dyke does not properly appreciate Mr. Tyler. I like them
  both very much, as well as their wives.

  Van Dyke is able, grateful, energetic and influential, and should
  he take care of himself, will yet win his way to a high position.

  Do not forget to present my love to Lily Macalester and my kind
  regards to her father and Mrs. Lathrop.

  I know of no news here which would interest you much. A few dinner
  parties are now given, to which I have been invited. I dine to-day
  with Monckton Milnes, and on Tuesday next with Sir Henry and Lady

  Many kind inquiries are still made about you. I wish you would
  inform Eskridge without delay that I attach great importance to
  the immediate transfer of the Michigan Central Railroad stock
  about which I wrote to him by the last steamer. I hope, however,
  that ere this can reach you he will have attended to this

  In one respect, at least, I am now deemed a man of great
  importance. In the present uneasy condition of the stock exchange,
  an incautious word from me would either raise or sink the price of

  I see much of Mr. Ward, and he is _thoroughly American_ in our
  present difficulties. This has raised him much in my estimation.

                                           London, November 2, 1855.

  I have but truly a moment to write to you. We did not learn your
  arrival by the Pacific, which I had expected with much interest.

  Lord Clarendon told me yesterday that the queen had expressed her
  regret not to have seen you before your departure. He said she had
  heard you were to marry Sir ——, and expressed how much she would
  have been gratified had you been detained in England. We had some
  talk about the disparity of your ages, which I have not time to
  repeat, even if it were worth repeating. I said it was supposed
  Sir —— was very rich. “Yes,” he said, “enormously.”

  There is a great muss here at present about the relations between
  the two countries, but I think it will all eventually blow over
  and may do good. Everybody is now anxious to know something about
  American affairs; and both in the press and the public we have
  many powerful defenders against the measures adopted by Lord
  Palmerston’s government.

                                                  November 30, 1855.

  I have received your favor of the 12th instant from Lancaster. Ere
  this can reach you Mr. Appleton will have seen you and told you
  all about my affairs. I have but little to say to you of any

  I saw the duchess two or three days ago, and she spoke in
  raptures, as is her wont, about your “beautiful letter” and
  yourself. She begged me to say to you she would soon answer it.

  I shall deliver your message to Mrs. Sturgis as soon as she shall
  appear in public after her confinement........ Among the ancient
  Jews she would have been considered a prodigy and a blessing. I
  like her very much.

  Van Dyke’s message is like himself. He is a kind and true-hearted
  fellow. I am persuaded, however, he does Tyler injustice. His
  being for Wise was but another reason for being for myself. He had
  written me several letters of a desponding character. He thought
  the State was going all wrong,—great danger of Dallas, etc., and
  attributed all to my refusal to be a candidate, and not returning
  home at the time I had appointed.

  By the last steamer, however, I received a letter from him of a
  character altogether different......

  I shall be anxious to learn what plans you have adopted for the

  The enclosed letter from Lady Chantrey was handed to me by
  Charles. In a hurry I opened it. “Why,” said he, “that is to Miss
  Lane, and was brought here from Lady Chantrey.” I now take the
  cover off, and enclose it to you, assuring you that I have not
  read a single word of it.

                                                  December 14, 1855.

  I have nothing of interest to communicate by this steamer. The
  past week has been dull, gloomy, and cold for the season. The
  walks in the park are covered with snow, and I find them very
  slippery. The winter has set in with unusual severity, whilst the
  price of provisions is very high. God help the poor in this vast
  Babel! Their sufferings will be dreadful.

  Although I have not suffered, either from ennui or despondency,
  yet I shall hail the arrival of James Henry with pleasure. I think
  it may be of service to him to be with me a month or six weeks.

  I am extremely sorry to learn that “Mrs. Plitt’s health is very
  bad.” She is a woman among a thousand. Most sincerely and deeply
  do I sympathize with her. Give her my kindest love.

  I have heard nothing of the six shawls since your departure, but I
  have already written to Mr. Randall, and requested him to send me
  the bill, which I shall pay as soon as received......

  I have received your furs from Mrs. Shapter, and shall send them
  to New York by the “Arago,” which will leave Southampton on the
  19th instant. They are packed in a nice little box directed to the
  care of George Plitt, Esquire. I shall, through Mr. Croshey, get
  Captain Lines himself to take charge of them and pay the duty.
  Please to so arrange it that some friend at New York may be ready
  to receive them and refund him the duty which he may have paid.

  I have again inadvertently opened a letter addressed to you which
  I enclose, and I assure that I did not read a single word in it,
  except “My dearest Hattie.” I can, therefore, only guess who is
  the writer.

  I started out yesterday and paid three very agreeable visits to
  the Countess Bernsdorff, Lady Palmerston, and the Duchess of
  Somerset. I found them all at home, and had a nice little chat
  with each. The duchess told me Lord Panmure had been with her, and
  had been quite extravagant in his praises of what he termed my
  able, friendly, and discreet conduct in the late difficulties
  between the two countries. But for me, he said, these might have
  produced serious consequences. The duchess, as usual, spoke
  extravagantly in your praise, and desired her love to you.

  I presume that Mrs. Lane and yourself have had a fine time of it
  hearing Rachel. She is quite competent to understand and
  appreciate the beauties of French tragedy. However this may be,
  she possesses as much knowledge in this line as thousands of
  others who will be quite enraptured with Rachel’s acting. I am
  glad you are on good and friendly terms with her...... From
  present appearances the war will end before the spring. This will
  be the case should the czar accept the terms suggested by Austria
  and consented to by the allies.

                                                  December 21, 1855.

  Since the date of my last letter I have received the news of the
  death of poor Mary.[25] I need not inform you of my devoted
  attachment to her, and she deserved it all. Poor girl! she had her
  own troubles, and she bore them all with cheerful patience. She is
  now at rest, I trust, in that heavenly home where there is no more
  pain and sorrow. Her loss will make the remainder of my residence
  here, which I trust may be brief, dreary and disconsolate.

  How happy I am to know that you are with Mrs. Plitt! She has a
  warm heart, and a fine intellect, and will, better than any other
  person, know how to comfort and soothe you in your sorrow. I am
  thankful that you are now at home.

  With Mrs. Plitt’s kind letter to me came that from Mrs. Speer to
  you, and one from Lieutenant Beale to myself. I shall always
  gratefully remember his kindness and that of his wife. His letter
  was just what it ought to have been. I wrote to Mrs. Plitt from
  Southampton by the “Arago,” which left on Wednesday last.

  The death of poor Mary has been your first serious sorrow, because
  you were too young to feel deeply the loss of your parents. Ere
  this can reach you a sufficient time will have elapsed for the
  first natural overflowings of sorrow. I would not have restrained
  them if I could. It is now time that they should moderate, and
  that you should not mourn the dead at the expense of your duties
  to the living. This sad event ought to teach you the vanity of all
  things human and transitory, and cause you to fix your thoughts,
  desires, and affections on that Being with whom “there is no
  variableness or shadow of turning.” This will not render you
  gloomy, but will enable you the better to perform all the duties
  of life. In all calamitous events we ought to say emphatically:
  “Thy will be done.” At the last, all the proceedings of a
  mysterious Providence will be justified in another and a better
  world, and it is our duty here to submit with humble resignation.
  Although my course of life has been marked by temporal prosperity,
  thanks be to Heaven, yet I have experienced heart-rending
  afflictions, and you must not expect to be exempt from the common
  lot of humanity. I have not seen Mrs. Shapter, but I sent her Mr.
  Beale’s letter, which she returned with a most feeling note. She,
  also, wrote to you by the “Arago.”

  You will know sooner in the United States than I can at what time
  I shall be relieved. I shall now expect to hear by the arrival of
  every steamer that my successor has been appointed. Should he
  arrive here within a month or six weeks, I still have an idea of
  running over to the continent; but I have yet determined upon
  nothing. I have a great desire to be at home.

Footnote 25:

  Mrs. Baker.

                                                  December 28, 1855.

  I have received your favor of the 11th instant with the copy of
  Mr. Baker’s letter, which I have read with deep interest. I wrote
  to you last week on the subject of poor Mary’s death, which I
  deeply deplore. I hope that ere this can reach you your mind will
  have been tranquillized on that sad event. It would have been
  wrong, it would have been unnatural, had you not experienced
  anguish for the loss of so good, kind-hearted, and excellent a

  Still, the loss is irreparable, grief is unavailing, and you have
  duties to perform towards yourself as well as your friends. To
  mourn for the dead at the expense of these duties would be sinful.
  We shall never forget poor Mary, her memory will always be dear to
  us; but it is our duty to bow with submission to the will of that
  Being in whose hands are the issues of life and death. You know
  what a low estimate I have ever placed upon a woman without
  religious principles. I know that in your conduct you are guided
  by these principles, more than is common in the fashionable world;
  but yet if this melancholy dispensation of Providence should cause
  you to pay more attention than you have done to “the things which
  pertain to your everlasting peace,” this would be a happy result.
  I have lost many much-loved relatives and friends; but though age
  becomes comparatively callous, I have felt and feel deeply the
  loss of Mary and Jessie. Poor Jessie! She died breathing my name
  with her devotions. What can I do—what shall I do for her

  I send by the bag to the department a letter from the duchess, to
  whom, I believe, I have not mentioned our loss.

  Sir William and Lady Ouseley dined with me a few days ago. There
  were no persons present except ourselves. She sincerely
  sympathizes with you. Time begins to produce its healing influence
  on her grief, though both she and poor Sir William have been sadly
  cast down by their calamity.

  James Henry arrived here on Christmas evening after a passage of
  three weeks which he evidently enjoyed. He talks to Mr. Ward
  knowingly about every part of a sailing vessel. His plan of travel
  is quite extensive, far too much so for the sum he intends to
  expend. I shall gradually cut it down to more reasonable limits.

  No news yet of the appointment of my successor, notwithstanding
  the efforts of Mr. Appleton. I have not received the President’s
  message, but expect it on Monday with much anxiety. Should I then
  hear nothing of a successor or secretary of legation, I shall give
  them formal notice that I will present my letter of recall on a
  particular day; and should no person arrive in the meantime, that
  I will leave the legation in charge of General Campbell.

                                                    January 4, 1856.

  I have received yours of the 17th ultimo, and am pained to learn
  that you neither see your friends nor take exercise since your
  return to Philadelphia. Your grief for poor Mary’s death, or at
  least the manifestation of it, exceeds all reasonable limits, and
  I am truly sorry that you have not more self-command. Although I
  know it is sincere, and it ought to be deep, yet you ought to
  recollect that the world are severe censors.

  In regard to the bringing of dear Mary’s remains from San
  Francisco to Lancaster or Franklin county, I have not a word to
  say. This must be left to her nearer relatives. She sleeps as
  sweetly on the distant shores of the Pacific as she could do on
  any other spot of earth, and her disembodied spirit will be
  equally near to you wherever you may wander. Still I know it is a
  sort of instinct of nature to desire to have the tombs of our
  friends near us; and even if I had any right to object, I should
  not exercise it. Do as you please, and I shall be content......

  James Henry is with me very busy and persevering in sight-seeing.
  I am sorry I do not feel it proper to detain him with me. The
  carnival comes so early this year that he must soon be off, as he
  intends to take Naples en route to Rome. I get along very well
  with Mr. Moran, though the labor is too great for one man to
  perform. In truth I cannot answer all the letters I receive, and
  attend to my appropriate duties. I shall, however, endeavor to
  write you a few lines every week. Friends still inquire after you
  with great kindness.

                                                   January 11, 1856.

  I have received your favor of the 25th ultimo, together with an
  agreeable little note from Mrs. Plitt, for which give her my

  James Henry left us yesterday afternoon. He had drawn all his
  plans with mathematical precision, and I did not like to mar them.
  He was to go direct to Naples, and be at Rome during the carnival,
  so that he had but little time. He is a calculating, and I think a
  determined boy....... He has certainly made a favorable impression
  here on the persons with whom he has been in company, especially
  on Lady Holland. The dinner went off extremely well; some of them
  said _almost_ as well as if you had been present. As you would
  probably like to know the company, I will tell you:

  Mr. and Madame Tricoupi, the Count and Countess de Lavradio, Count
  Bernstorff, the Brazilian Minister and Madame Moreiro, the Swedish
  Minister and Baroness Hochschild, the Danish Minister and Madame
  D’Oxholme, Mr. and Mrs. Comyn, Sir Henry and Lady Holland, Lady
  Talbot de Malahide, R. Monckton Milnes, and J. Buchanan Henry,

  Count Colloredo had the commands of the queen, and could not
  attend. Countess Bernstorff was ill. Baron Bentinck had an
  engagement in the country, and so had Mr. and Mrs. Musurus. So you
  have the list of invitations as well as of those who attended. I
  expect to leave the house next week.

  I very often think of poor Mary, and shall always cherish her
  memory with deep affection. I trust that ere this your grief has
  moderated, and that you begin to bear your loss with the
  philosophy of a Christian, and with humble resignation to the
  Divine will.

  James desired me to send his love to you, and say that he would
  write to you from Rome.

                                                   January 25, 1856.

  Without a secretary of legation, I have so much business to
  transact and so many persons to see, that I must give great
  offence by necessarily failing to answer the letters of my friends
  on your side of the Atlantic. I have not yet heard of the
  appointment of my successor from Washington; but the last steamer
  brought out a report, on which some of the passengers thought
  reliance might be placed, that Governor Toucey either had been or
  would be appointed. It would be difficult to make a better
  selection. In all this matter, they have treated me discourteously
  and improperly. By every steamer since the return of Mr. Appleton
  to the United States, I had a right to expect news of a new
  appointment. I have written more than once _emphatically_ upon the
  subject, and they are now fully apprised that I shall leave the
  legation next month, and entrust its affairs to General Campbell,
  should neither minister nor secretary in the mean time appear.

  The Central American questions might now, I think, be easily
  settled with any other premier than Lord Palmerston. Since the
  publication of the correspondence here and the articles in the
  _Times_ and _Daily News_ in our favor, there would seem to be a
  general public opinion that we are right. This, I think, renders
  it certain that serious difficulties between the two countries
  cannot grow out of these questions. I enclose you an article from
  the _Morning Advertiser_, but little calculated to do me good in
  the United States. What on earth could have induced the editor to
  write such an article is a mystery. So far as regards any effect
  it may produce upon the Presidency, I feel quite indifferent.
  There is a profound wisdom in a remark of Rochefoucauld, with
  which I met the other day: “Les choses que nous desirons
  n’arrivent pas, ou, si elles arrivent, ce n’est, ni dans le tems,
  ni de la manière que nous auraient fait le plus de plaisir.” I had
  a letter yesterday from Judge Mason, dated on the 23d, giving me a
  pressing and cordial invitation to stay with him when I visit
  Paris. This, I believe, I shall accept, at least for part of my
  brief visit. He is much pleased with Mr. Wise, his new secretary
  of legation. James B. Henry, he says, who took the despatches to
  him, “remained but a few hours in Paris, hurrying to Marseilles to
  take a steamer for Italy.” I have not heard from him since he
  left, nor did I expect to hear so soon.

  Mrs. Shapter has been quite unwell, but is now down-stairs again.
  I have not seen her since the date of my last.

  We had quite an agreeable dinner party at Lord Woodehouse’s on
  Wednesday last. I had a very pleasant conversation with the
  Countess Persigny, who speaks English very prettily, though not
  yet fluently. She is evidently proud of being the grand daughter
  of Marshal Ney, and well she may be. We had quite a _tête à tête._
  She, or rather the count, has been very civil to me of late. The
  woman-killer, for whom, as you know, I have very little respect,
  and with whom I have had no intercourse for a considerable period,
  seems determined that I shall be on good terms with him. I
  suffered as usual the penalty of this dinner—a sleepless and
  uncomfortable night. Dinner invitations are again becoming
  numerous, but I shall accept none except from those to whom I feel
  under obligations for past kindness. Your name still continues to
  be mentioned with kindness by your friends and acquaintances. I
  sent the other day by the “Frigate Bird,” to Charles Brown, the
  collector, a portrait of the justly celebrated John Hampden, from
  our friend MacGregor,[26] intended to be presented to Congress,
  and have requested Mr. Brown to keep it for me till my return. I
  also sent two boxes containing books and different articles—one of
  them champagne and the other wine. These might be sent to
  Eskridge. Please to tell Mr. Plitt about them, who, if he will
  call on Mr. Brown, will hear all about the picture. I have neither
  room nor time to write more.

Footnote 26:

  James MacGregor, Esq., M. P.

                                                 February 1st, 1856.

  I have but little time to write to-day.

  Parliament was yesterday opened by the queen. I need not describe
  the ceremony to you, as you have already witnessed it. What struck
  me most forcibly was the appearance in the diplomatic box of a
  full-blooded black negro as the representative of his Imperial
  Majesty of Hayti.

  I have received a letter from James Henry, dated at Rome on the
  20th ultimo...... Realities never correspond with the expectations
  of youth.

  I had confidently expected to receive by the Atlantic, whose mails
  and despatch bag have just come to hand, an answer to my last most
  urgent request for the appointment of my successor and the
  immediate appointment of a secretary of legation, but in this I
  have been disappointed. Not one word in relation to the

  I wish I had time to write you more. This steamer will carry a
  most important despatch to Washington.

                                                 February 8th, 1856.

  Our latest dates from New York are to Saturday, the 19th of
  January. We have had no Collins or Cunard steamer during the
  present week. Since the first spell of cold weather, the winter
  has been open, damp and disagreeable.

  I have gone a good deal into society since the meeting of
  Parliament, because it is my duty to embrace every opportunity of
  conversing with influential people here on the relations between
  the two countries. _The Morning Advertiser_ has been publishing a
  series of articles, one stating that high words had passed between
  Lord Clarendon and myself, at the foreign office, and that he had
  used violent expressions to me there; another that I had, because
  of this, declined to attend Lady Palmerston’s first reception; and
  a third, which I have not seen, that Sir Henry Bulwer and myself
  had been in conference together with a view of settling the
  Central American questions. Now all this is mere moonshine, and
  there is not a shadow of truth in any one of these statements.

  I went to Count Persigny’s on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, and
  had quite an agreeable time of it. There were a number of
  distinguished persons present, though not a crowd. Many kind
  inquiries were made respecting yourself. I dine to-day at Sir
  Henry Holland’s, on purpose to meet Macaulay, should his health
  enable him to be present. On Tuesday at Mr. Butt’s, and on
  Wednesday at Lord Granville’s, where there will be a party in the

  I met the “woman-killer” —— in the ante-chamber of the foreign
  office on Wednesday last. He now seems determined to be such good
  friends with me, that in good manners I must treat him kindly.
  Knowing my tender point, he launched out in your praises, and said
  such extravagant things of you as I could scarcely stand,
  notwithstanding my weakness on this subject. Fortunately for me,
  before he had concluded, he was summoned to Lord Clarendon,
  greatly to my relief.

  I think they will hesitate about sending me away, even if Mr.
  Crampton should receive his passports. Mr. Cobden told me the
  other evening at the Reform Club that Mr. Willcox, the member of
  Parliament from Southampton, had said to Lord Palmerston: “Well,
  you are about to send Buchanan away;” and his reply was, “If
  Buchanan should remain until I send him away, he will be here to
  all eternity.” This, however, is _à la mode_ de Palmerston, and
  means but little one way or the other. I only repeat it as one of
  his jokes, and my hesitation on the subject is not in the
  slightest degree founded on this remark.

  I should infer that my Presidential stock is declining in the
  market. I do not now receive so many love letters on the subject
  as formerly, always excepting the ever faithful Van Dyke and a few
  others. Heaven bless them! I see the best face has been put on
  Bigler’s election, but still it is an ugly symptom. Declining
  prospects give me no pain. These would rather afford me pleasure,
  were it not for my friends. Pierce’s star appears now to be in the
  ascendant, though I think it is not very probable he will be
  nominated. Heaven only knows who will be the man.

                                                  February 15, 1856.

  Nothing of importance has occurred since I wrote you last. I have
  been out a good deal, deeming it my duty at the present crisis to
  mingle with influential society as much as possible. Everywhere
  you are kindly remembered. Lord and Lady Stanhope have been very
  particular in their inquiries about you, and say much which it
  would be gratifying to you to hear. I promised to Mr. and Mrs.
  Butt, that I would transmit you their kind compliments. The
  Duchess of Somerset begged me to say to you, that at the date of
  her letter to you, she had not heard of your affliction.

  I trust that Mr. Dallas may soon make his appearance in London, as
  I am exceedingly anxious to be relieved from my present
  position...... What will you say to my reconciliation with
  Governor Bigler? He addressed me _such a letter_ as you have
  scarcely ever read. It was impossible for me to avoid giving it a
  kind answer. I accepted his overtures, and informed him that it
  would not be my fault if we should not always hereafter remain
  friends. He had often made advances to me indirectly before, which
  I always declined. This seems to be the era of good feeling in
  Pennsylvania. Davy Lynch’s letters, for some months past, have
  been quite graphic and amusing. He says that “the Eleventh hour
  Buchanan Legion” at Harrisburgh have unanimously elected him a
  member, for which he kindly thanked them, and at the same time
  advised them to work hard and diligently to make up for lost time.
  They responded that their exertions should be directed with a view
  to throw my old fogy friends into the shade.

  Notwithstanding all this, the signs of the times are not very
  auspicious to my experienced eye, and I shall be neither
  disappointed nor sorry should the Cincinnati convention select
  some other person. It will, however, be always a source to me of
  heartfelt gratification, that the Democracy of my native State
  have not deserted me in my old age, but have been true to the

  I am truly sorry to hear of Mr. Randall’s affliction. He is an
  able and true hearted man, to whom I am much attached. Please to
  remember me to him and Mrs. Randall in the kindest terms.

  Your uncle John has died at a good old age, with a character for
  integrity which he well deserved. He had a kind and excellent
  heart. As he advanced in life, his peculiarities increased, and
  apparently obscured his merits, in his intercourse with his
  relations and friends. But still he possessed them. For many years
  after he came to Lancaster we were intimate friends, and we always
  continued friends.

  I trust that Mr. Dallas may arrive by the next Collins steamer. It
  is my intention to act handsomely towards him. I thank Heaven that
  a successor has at last been appointed. Whether I shall return
  home soon after his arrival or go to the continent I cannot at
  present determine. On the 18th December last I paid Mr. Randall
  for the six shawls, and have his bill and receipt.

  At Lord Granville’s dinner on Wednesday, the Marquis of Lansdowne
  and Mr. Ellice said very pretty things about you. Colonel Seibels,
  our minister at Brussels, is now here with me, and I am delighted
  to see him. He will remain until after the queen’s levee on the
  20th. I shall leave the house on Tuesday next, on which day the
  inventory is to be taken, and shall most probably go to the

                                                  February 22, 1856.

  Another week has passed, and I am happy to inform you that you are
  still freshly remembered by your friends and acquaintances on this
  side of the Atlantic. I delivered up possession of the house to
  the agent of Mrs. Lewis on Tuesday morning last, with the
  exception of the offices, and went to Fenton’s, because I could
  not obtain comfortable apartments at the Clarendon. I retain the
  offices for the present at the rate of £10 per month, awaiting the
  arrival of Mr. Dallas. I earnestly hope he may be here in the
  Pacific, which is expected at Liverpool on Wednesday or Thursday
  next. The two house agents, on the part of Mrs. Lewis and myself
  respectively, have been employed on the inventory ever since
  Tuesday morning, and have not yet finished.

  I expect to be all ready, upon the arrival of Mr. Dallas, either
  to go home or go to the continent, according to the then existing
  circumstances. At present I am quite undetermined which course I
  shall pursue.

  You will see by the _Morning Post_ that I presented Col. Seibels
  at the levee on Wednesday. He paid me a visit for a week, and his
  society afforded me great pleasure. He is both an honorable and
  agreeable man, as well as a tried and sincere friend. I dine with
  Lord and Lady Palmerston to-morrow, and with the Lord and Lady
  Mayoress on Wednesday, and on Thursday attend the wedding of Miss
  Sturgis and Mr. Coleman at 11 o’clock at the Church of “St. John,
  Robin Hood,” close to the Robin Hood Gate of Richmond Park. Mr.
  Sturgis’s country residence is close to this church.

  I receive letters from home, some of which say, with reference to
  the Presidency, “Come home immediately,” and others, “Stay away a
  while longer.” I shall not regulate my conduct with any view to
  this office. If it be the will of Providence to bestow upon me the
  Presidency, I shall accept it as a duty, a burden and a trial, and
  not otherwise. I shall take no steps to obtain it.

  Mrs. Shapter’s health is delicate, and John has been quite unwell.
  I shall not fail to leave her some token of my great regard before
  I leave London. She richly deserves it.

                                                February 29th, 1856.

  ...... I dined with the queen on Wednesday last, and had a
  pleasant time of it. I took the Duchess of Argyle in to dinner,
  and sat between her and the princess royal. With the latter I had
  much pleasant conversation. She spoke a great deal of you and made
  many inquiries about you, saying how very much pleased she had
  been with you. The queen also spoke of you kindly and inquired in
  a cordial manner about you. Indeed, it would seem you were a
  favorite of both. There has been a marked and favorable change of
  feeling here within the last month towards the United States. I am
  now made something of a lion wherever I go, and I go much into
  society as a matter of duty. The sentiment and proceeding at the
  Mansion House on Wednesday last were quite remarkable. Perhaps it
  is just as well I received the command to dine with the queen on
  that day.

  I am yet in ignorance as to the time when Mr. Dallas may be
  expected to arrive. The moment I learn he has arrived in
  Liverpool, I shall apply for my audience of leave and joyfully
  surrender the legation to him with the least possible delay.

                                                    March 7th, 1856.

  I received your two letters of February 15th and 19th on Monday
  last, on my return from Mr. Lampson’s, where I went on Saturday
  evening. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lampson talked much and kindly of you,
  and desired to be remembered to you...... I shall expect Mr.
  Dallas about the middle of next week, and intend soon after his
  arrival to cross over to Paris. I hope to be at home some time in
  April, but when, I cannot now inform you.

  I am glad to learn that you purpose to go to New York. It was very
  kind in you to jog my memory about what I should bring you from
  Paris. I know not what may be the result. Nous verrons.

  Becky Smith is a damsel in distress, intelligent and agreeable,
  and a country-woman in a strange land. Her conduct in London has
  been unexceptionable and she is making her way in the world. She
  has my sympathy, and I have given her “a lift” whenever I could
  with propriety.

  I delivered your letter to the Duchess of Somerset on Monday last,
  and she was delighted with it. She handed it to me to read. It was
  well and feelingly written. I was sorry to perceive that you
  complained of your health, but you will, I trust, come out with
  the birds in the spring, restored and renovated. I am pleased with
  what you say concerning Senator Welsh. In writing to me, I think
  you had better direct to me at Paris, to the care of Mr. Mason,
  giving him his appropriate style, and you need not pay the
  postage; better not, indeed. But you will scarcely have time to
  write a single letter there before I shall have probably left. I
  shall continue to write to you, but you need not continue to write
  to me more than once after the receipt of this, unless I should
  advise you differently by the next steamer.

  Mr. Bates is quite unwell, and I fear he is breaking up very fast.
  At the wedding of Miss Sturgis the other day, as I approached to
  take my seat beside Madame Van de Weyer, she said: “Unwilling as
  you may be, you are now compelled to sit beside me.” Of course I
  replied that this was no compulsion, but a great privilege. Mrs.
  Bates complained much that Mrs. Lawrence has not written to her.

                                                     March 14, 1856.

  I tell you the simple truth when I say I have no time to-day to
  write to you at length. Mr. Dallas arrived at Liverpool yesterday
  afternoon, and is to leave there to-morrow at nine for London; so
  the consul telegraphed to me. I have heard nothing from him since
  his appointment. I expect an audience of leave from the queen
  early next week, and shall then, God willing, pass over to the

  I have this morning received your two letters of the 25th and
  29th, and congratulate you on your arrival in New York. I hope you
  may have an agreeable time of it. Your letter of the 25th is
  excellent. I like its tone and manner very much and am sorry I
  have not time to write you at length in reply. I am also pleased
  with that of the 29th. I send by the bag the daguerreotype of our
  excellent friend, Mrs. Shapter. I have had mine taken for her. I
  think hers is very good. I saw her yesterday in greatly improved
  health and in fine spirits.

                                                     March 18, 1856.

  The queen at my audience of leave on Saturday, desired to be
  kindly remembered to you.

  The Marquis of Lansdowne at parting from me said: “If Miss Lane
  should have the kindness to remember me, do me the honor to lay me
  at her feet.”

  Old Robert Owen came in and has kept me so long that I must cut
  this letter short. I go to Paris, God willing, on Thursday next,
  in company with Messrs. Campbell and Croshey our consuls. I send a
  letter from James which I have received open.

                                           BRUSSELS, March 27, 1856.

  I write this in the legation of Colonel Siebels. He and I intend
  to go to-morrow to the Hague on a visit to Mr. Belmont, from which
  I propose to return to Paris on Tuesday or Wednesday next. It is
  my purpose, God willing, to leave for Havre for home in the Arago
  on Wednesday, the 9th of April. I do not believe that a more
  comfortable vessel, or a better or safer captain exists. All who
  have crossed the Atlantic with him speak in the same terms both of
  his ship and himself.

  I shall return to Mr. Mason’s at Paris, because I could not do
  otherwise without giving offence. What a charming family it is.
  Judge Mason, though somewhat disabled, has a much more healthy
  appearance, and in the face resembles much more his former self,
  than he did when attending the Ostend conference. The redness and
  sometimes blueness of his face have disappeared, and he now looks
  as he did in former years.

  I shall defer all accounts of my doings on the continent until
  after we meet. I may or I may not write to you once more before

  You might let Eskridge and Miss Hetty know at what time I shall
  probably be at home, though I do not wish it to be noised abroad.
  You cannot calculate our passage to be less than two weeks. Should
  I reach my native shore on my birth-day, the 23d April, I shall
  thank God and be content. The Arago takes the southern route to
  keep clear of the ice.

                             CHAPTER VIII.


Mr. Buchanan arrived at New York in the latter part of April, 1856,
and there met with a public reception from the authorities and
people of the city, which evinced the interest that now began to be
everywhere manifested in him as the probable future President. With
what feelings he himself regarded the prospect of his nomination by
his party, and his election, has appeared from his unreserved
communications with his friends. That he did not make efforts to
secure the nomination will presently appear upon other testimony
than his own. He reached Wheatland in the last week of April, and
there he remained a very quiet observer of what was taking place in
the political world. Before he left England, he had been informed
that a Democratic convention of his own State had unanimously
declared him to be the first choice of the Pennsylvania Democrats
for the Presidency. To this he had made no formal or public
response; but on the 8th of June he was waited upon by a committee
from this convention, and he then addressed them as follows:


  I thank you, with all my heart, for the kind terms in which, under
  a resolution of the late Democratic State Convention, you have
  informed me that I am “their unanimous choice for the next

  When the proceedings of your convention reached me in a foreign
  land, they excited emotions of gratitude which I might in vain
  attempt to express. This was not because the Democracy of my
  much-loved State had by their own spontaneous movement placed me
  in nomination for the Presidency, an honor which I had not sought,
  but because this nomination constitutes of itself the highest
  evidence that, after a long course of public services, my public
  conduct has been approved by those to whom I am indebted, under
  Providence, for all the offices and honors I have ever enjoyed. In
  success and in defeat, in the sunshine and in the storm, they have
  ever been the same kind friends to me, and I value their continued
  confidence and good opinion far above the highest official honors
  of my country.

  The duties of the President, whomsoever he may be, have been
  clearly and ably indicated by the admirable resolutions of the
  convention which you have just presented to me, and all of which,
  without reference to those merely personal to myself, I heartily
  adopt. Indeed, they met my cordial approbation from the moment
  when I first perused them on the other side of the Atlantic. They
  constitute a platform broad, national, and conservative, and one
  eminently worthy of the Democracy of our great and good old State.

  These resolutions, carried into execution with inflexibility and
  perseverance, precluding all hope of changes, and yet in a kindly
  spirit, will ere long allay the dangerous excitement which has for
  some years prevailed on the subject of domestic slavery, and again
  unite all portions of our common country in the ancient bonds of
  brotherly affection, under the flag of the Constitution and the

The Democratic National Convention assembled at Cincinnati soon
afterwards, and from a gentleman who was present, although not a
member of the body—my friend, Mr. S. L. M. Barlow of New York—I have
received an account of what took place, which I prefer to quote
rather than to give one of my own, which could only be compiled from
the public journals of the time:

  In February, 1856, I was in London, with a portion of my family,
  and had lodgings at Fenton’s Hotel, St. James Street. Shortly
  after I reached London, Mr. Buchanan, who was then our minister at
  the court of St. James, gave up his own residence and came to the
  same hotel with us, where for some weeks he remained, taking his
  meals in our rooms. I had known Mr. Buchanan for some years, but
  never intimately until this time. During my stay in London, I
  became much interested in his nomination for the Presidency, and
  frequently spoke to him about the action of the National
  Democratic Convention to be held in Cincinnati in June, 1856, and
  expressed to him the hope that he would be the nominee of the
  party. He said that so great an honor could hardly be expected to
  fall to his lot, as he had made little effort to secure the
  nomination, and his absence for so long a time from home had
  prevented any organization of his friends to that end, save what
  Mr. Slidell in Louisiana, Mr. Schell in New York, and his own
  nearest political friends in Pennsylvania, had been able to
  effect, and that he thought it very unlikely that he could receive
  the nomination. After a few weeks in London, Mr. Buchanan joined
  us in a visit to the continent, remaining in Paris about ten days,
  and he then embarked for the United States.

  I returned to New York in the early part of May, and shortly
  afterwards went to Cincinnati, upon business connected with an
  unfinished railroad, in which I was interested, and as the day for
  the meeting of the convention approached, I was surprised to find
  a lack of all organization on behalf of the friends of Mr.
  Buchanan, and was satisfied that his nomination was impossible,
  unless earnest efforts to that end were made, and at once.

  I had taken a large dwelling-house in Cincinnati for my own
  temporary use, and shortly before the meeting of the convention, I
  wrote to my political friends in Washington who were friendly to
  him, telling them the condition of things, and that unless they
  came to Cincinnati without delay, I thought Mr. Buchanan stood no
  chance for the nomination. Among others I wrote to Mr. Slidell,
  Mr. Benjamin, Mr. James A. Bayard, and Mr. Bright, all of whom
  were then in the United States Senate. I promised them
  accommodations at my house, and, much to my gratification, they
  all answered that they would make up a party and come to
  Cincinnati, to reach there the day before the meeting of the
  convention. Before the time of their arrival, prominent Democrats
  from all sections of the country had reached Cincinnati, and the
  friends of Mr. Douglas were very prominent in asserting his claims
  to the nomination, through thoroughly organized and noisy

  A consultation was held at my house, the evening before the
  meeting of the convention, and it was evident that if the New York
  delegation, represented by Mr. Dean Richmond and his associates,
  who were known as the “Softs,” secured seats, that the nomination
  of Mr. Douglas was inevitable. The other branch of the New York
  Democrats, who called themselves “Hards,” was represented by Mr.
  Schell as the head of that organization.

  When the convention was organized, Senator James A. Bayard, of
  Delaware, was made chairman of the Committee on Credentials, and
  to that committee was referred the claims of the two rival
  Democratic delegations from New York. The remainder of that day,
  and much of the night following, were passed in the earnest and
  noisy presentation of the claims of these two factions to be
  represented in the convention, each to the exclusion of the other,
  and it was soon discovered that a majority of this committee was
  in favor of the “Soft,” or Douglas delegation. A minority of this
  committee, headed by Mr. Bayard, favored the admission of one-half
  of the delegates of each branch of the party, so that the vote of
  New York in the convention might be thereby equally divided
  between Mr. Douglas and Mr. Buchanan. The preparation of the
  minority report to this end occupied all the night, and it was not
  completed until nine o’clock of the following morning, the hour of
  the meeting of the convention. So soon as we could copy this
  report, I took it to Mr. Bayard, the convention being already in

  On the presentation of the majority, or Douglas report, it was
  moved by the friends of Mr. Buchanan that the minority report
  should be substituted, and this motion, after a close vote, was
  adopted by the convention. As was foreseen, by thus neutralizing
  the vote of New York, dividing it between the two candidates, Mr.
  Buchanan retained sufficient strength to secure the nomination,
  which was then speedily made. There can be little doubt that this
  result was achieved almost wholly by the efforts of the friends of
  Mr. Buchanan, who were induced at the last moment to come to
  Cincinnati. Our house became the headquarters of all the friends
  of Mr. Buchanan. Every move that was made emanated from some one
  of the gentlemen there present, and but for their presence and
  active cooperation, there is little doubt that Mr. Douglas would
  have been nominated upon the first ballot after organization.

  Mr. Slidell was naturally the leader of the friends of Mr.
  Buchanan. His calmness, shrewdness and earnest friendship for Mr.
  Buchanan were recognized by all, and whatever he advised was
  promptly assented to. At his request, I was present at all
  interviews with the delegates from all parts of the country, which
  preceded Mr. Buchanan’s actual nomination. I heard all that was
  said on these occasions, and when the news of the nomination came
  from the convention to our headquarters, Mr. Slidell at once said
  to me: “Now, you will bear me witness, that in all that has taken
  place, I have made no promises, and am under no commitments on
  behalf of Mr. Buchanan to anybody. He takes this place without
  obligations to any section of the country, or to any individual.
  He is as free to do as as he sees fit as man ever was. Some of his
  friends deserve recognition, and at the proper time I shall say so
  to him, and I think he will be governed by my suggestions, but if
  he should not be, no one can find fault, as I have made no

  After the election, at the request of Mr. Buchanan, I met him on
  the occasion of his first visit to Washington, before the
  inauguration. I went to his room with Mr. Slidell. He had then
  seen no one in Washington. In this first interview, Mr. Slidell
  repeated to him, almost verbatim, the language which he had used
  to me in Cincinnati, as to the President being entirely free and
  uncommitted by any promise or obligation of any sort, made to
  anybody, previous to his nomination.

  I do not know that the matters to which I have alluded will be of
  any interest to you, but I have recalled them with much pleasure
  as showing, contrary to the generally received opinion as to Mr.
  Buchanan’s shrewdness as a politician and “wire-puller,” that when
  he left London, there was no organization or pretence of
  organization in his favor, that could be considered effective or
  likely to be useful, outside of the efforts of a few personal
  friends in the South, in Pennsylvania and New York; and before he
  returned to America, he evidently saw that he had little chance of
  success before the convention. The same marked absence of
  organization, and of all political machine-work, was evident up to
  the day before the meeting of the convention, when the friends of
  Mr. Buchanan, whom I had thus suddenly called together, made their
  appearance in Cincinnati.

  Mr. Buchanan’s opposition to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
  left him without support from the ultra Southern leaders, many of
  whom believed that Mr. Douglas would be less difficult to manage
  than Mr. Buchanan. Louisiana was controlled through the personal
  influence of Messrs. Slidell and Benjamin, and Virginia was from
  the beginning in favor of Mr. Buchanan’s nomination. Apart from
  these States, the South was for Pierce or Douglas. Mr. Buchanan’s
  strength was from the North, but it was unorganized.

  To that time, no one had undertaken to speak for him. There were
  no headquarters where his friends could meet even for
  consultation. There was no leader—no one whose opinions upon
  questions of policy were controlling, and but for this almost
  accidental combination of his friends in Cincinnati, it was
  apparent that Mr. Buchanan could not have been nominated, simply
  because of this utter lack of that ordinary preliminary
  organization necessary to success, which was by his opponents
  alleged to be the foundation of his strength, but which in fact
  was wholly without existence.

  Mr. Slidell undertook this task, and before the meeting of the
  convention Mr. Buchanan’s success was assured.[27]

Footnote 27:

  The prominence given by Mr. Barlow to Mr. Slidell, as an active
  and earnest friend of Mr. Buchanan, led me to ask him to add a
  sketch of that distinguished man; and I have been at the greater
  pains to show the strong friendship that subsisted between Mr.
  Buchanan and Mr. Slidell, because, as will be seen hereafter, when
  the secession troubles of the last year of Mr. Buchanan’s
  administration came on, this friendship was one of the first
  sacrifices made by him to his public duty, for he did not allow it
  to influence his course in the slightest degree; and although he
  had to accept with pain the alienation which Mr. Slidell and all
  his other Southern friends, in the ardor of their feelings, deemed
  unavoidable, he accepted it as one of the sad necessities of his
  position and of the time. I think he and Mr. Slidell never met,
  after the month of January, 1861. The following is Mr. Barlow’s
  sketch of John Slidell:—

  “He was born in the city of New York in 1795; was graduated at
  Columbia College in 1810, and entered commercial life, which he
  soon abandoned for the study of the law. He removed to Louisiana
  in 1825, and was shortly afterwards admitted to the bar of that
  State. In 1829 he was appointed United States district attorney
  for the Louisiana district by President Jackson, and from that
  time took an active part in the politics of the State. He was soon
  recognized, not only as one of the ablest and most careful
  lawyers, but as the practical political head of the Democratic
  party of the Southwest.

  “In 1842 he was elected to Congress from the New Orleans district.
  In 1845 he was appointed by President Polk as minister to Mexico.
  This mission was foredoomed to failure. The annexation of Texas
  made a war with Mexico inevitable, but the broad sense shown by
  Mr. Slidell in his despatches from Mexico was fully recognized by
  the administration of President Polk, and his views were
  maintained, and his advice was followed, to the time of the
  breaking out of hostilities.

  “In 1853 he was elected to the United States Senate to fill an
  unexpired term, and in 1854 was again elected for a full term,
  which had not expired when the secession of Louisiana in 1861 put
  it at an end.

  “He was shortly afterwards sent to France as a commissioner on
  behalf of the Confederate States. On his voyage to that country he
  was taken from the British steamer ‘Trent,’ and was imprisoned at
  Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. His release by President Lincoln,
  under the advice of Mr. Seward, will be remembered as one of the
  most exciting and important incidents in the early history of the
  war. He remained in Paris as the Commissioner of the Confederate
  States until the termination of the rebellion, and during that
  period was probably the most active and effective agent of the
  Confederacy abroad.

  “His influence with the government of Louis Napoleon was very
  great, and at one time, chiefly through his persuasion, the
  emperor, as Mr. Slidell believed, had determined to recognize the
  Confederacy; but fortunately this political mistake was averted by
  the great victory gained by General McClellan over the Confederate
  army at Antietam.

  “In 1835 Mr. Slidell was married to Miss Mathilde deLande, of an
  old Creole family of Louisiana. He died at Cowes in England in
  1871. His pure personal character, his indomitable and coercive
  will, his undoubted courage, and his cool and deliberate good
  sense gave him a high place among the advisers of the Confederate
  cause from its earliest organization to its final collapse.

  “One of his most striking characteristics, for which he was noted
  through life, was his unswerving fidelity to his political
  friends. From the lowest in the ranks to those of the highest
  station, who were his allies and advocates, not one was forgotten
  when political victory was secured, and no complaint was ever
  justly made against him for forgetfulness of those through whom
  his own political career was established, or to whom, through his
  influence, the success of his political friends was achieved.

  “With strangers Mr. Slidell’s manners were reserved, and at times
  even haughty, but to those who were admitted to the privacy of his
  domestic life, or who once gained his confidence in politics, he
  was most genial, gracious, and engaging.”

When officially informed of his nomination by a committee, Mr.
Buchanan, on the 16th of June (1856), made this simple and
straightforward answer:

  I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication
  of the 13th inst., informing me officially of my nomination by the
  Democratic National Convention, recently held at Cincinnati, as a
  candidate for the office of President of the United States. I
  shall not attempt to express the grateful feelings which I
  entertain towards my Democratic fellow-citizens for having deemed
  me worthy of this—the highest political honor on earth—an honor
  such as no other people have the power to bestow. Deeply sensible
  of the vast and varied responsibility attached to the station,
  especially at the present crisis in our affairs, I have carefully
  refrained from seeking the nomination, either by word or by deed.
  Now that it has been offered by the Democratic party, I accept it
  with diffidence in my own abilities, but with an humble trust
  that, in the event of my election, Divine Providence may enable me
  to discharge my duty in such a manner as to allay domestic strife,
  preserve peace and friendship with foreign nations, and promote
  the best interests of the Republic.

  In accepting the nomination, I need scarcely say that I accept, in
  the same spirit, the resolutions constituting the platform of
  principles erected by the convention. To this platform I intend to
  conform myself throughout the canvass, believing that I have no
  right, as the candidate of the Democratic party, by answering
  interrogatories, to present new and different issues before the

In all Presidential elections which have occurred for the past fifty
years, the State election in Pennsylvania, occurring in the autumn
before the election of a President, has been regarded as of great
importance. The Republican party was now in the field, with General
Fremont as its candidate, and with the advantage which it had
derived in all the free States from the consequences of the repeal
of the Missouri Compromise, the passage of the so-called
“Kansas-Nebraska Act,” which had been followed in Kansas by an
internecine contest between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers. A
brutal personal assault upon Senator Sumner, of Massachusetts, by a
rash and foolish Southerner, had added fuel to the already kindled
sectional flame of Northern feeling. The precise political issue
between the Democratic and Republican parties, so far as it related
to slavery, concerned of course slavery in the Territories. It was
apparent that if the Republicans should gain the State of
Pennsylvania in the State election of October, there was a very
strong probability, rather a moral certainty, that the electoral
votes of all the free States in the Presidential election would be
obtained by that party, while there was no probability that it would
prevail in a single slave-holding State. The political issue,
therefore, was whether the sectional division of the free and the
slave States in the election of a President was to come then, or
whether it was to be averted. The State election in Pennsylvania, in
October, turned in favor of the Democrats. Her twenty-seven
electoral votes were thus morally certain to be given to Mr.
Buchanan in the Presidential election. In the interval, a large body
of his friends and neighbors assembled at Wheatland, and called him
out. His remarks, never before printed, are now extant in his
handwriting. He said:


  I am glad to see you and to receive and reciprocate your
  congratulations upon the triumph of the Democrats in Pennsylvania
  and Indiana.

  It is my sober and solemn conviction that Mr. Fillmore uttered the
  words of soberness and truth when he declared that if the Northern
  sectional party should succeed, it would lead inevitably to the
  destruction of this beautiful fabric reared by our forefathers,
  cemented by their blood, and bequeathed to us as a priceless

  The people of the North seem to have forgotten the warning of the
  Father of his Country against geographical parties. And by far the
  most dangerous of all such parties is that of a combined North
  against a combined South on the question of slavery. This is no
  mere political question—no question addressing itself to the
  material interests of men. It rises far higher. With the South it
  is a question of self-preservation, of personal security around
  the family altar, of life or of death. The Southern people still
  cherish a love for the Union; but what to them is even our blessed
  confederacy, the wisest and the best form of government ever
  devised by man, if they cannot enjoy its blessings and its
  benefits without being in constant alarm for their wives and

  The storm of abolition against the South has been gathering for
  almost a quarter of a century. It had been increasing by every
  various form of agitation which fanaticism could devise. We had
  reached the crisis. The danger was imminent. Republicanism was
  sweeping over the North like a tornado. It appeared to be
  resistless in its course. The blessed Union of these States—the
  last hope for human liberty on earth—appeared to be tottering on
  its base. Had Pennsylvania yielded, had she become an abolition
  State, without a special interposition of Divine Providence, we
  should have been precipitated into the yawning gulf of
  dissolution. But she stood erect and firm as her own Alleghanies.
  She breasted the storm and drove it back. The night is departing,
  and the roseate and propitious morn now breaking upon us promises
  a long day of peace and prosperity for our country. To secure
  this, all we of the North have to do is to permit our Southern
  neighbors to manage their own domestic affairs, as they permit us
  to manage ours. It is merely to adopt the golden rule, and do
  unto them as we would they should do unto us, in the like
  circumstances. All they ask from us is simply to let them alone.
  This is the whole spirit and essence of the much abused Cincinnati
  platform. This does no more than adopt the doctrine which is the
  very root of all our institutions, and recognize the right of a
  majority of the people of a Territory, when about to enter the
  Union as a State, to decide for themselves whether domestic
  slavery shall or shall not exist among them. This is not to favor
  the extension of slavery, but simply to deny the right of an
  abolitionist in Massachusetts or Vermont to prescribe to the
  people of Kansas what they shall or shall not do in regard to this

  Who contests the principle that the will of the majority shall
  govern? What genuine republican of any party can deny this? The
  opposition have never met this question fairly. Within a brief
  period, the people of this country will condemn their own folly
  for suffering the assertion of so plain and elementary a principle
  of all popular governments to have endangered our blessed
  Constitution and Union, which owe their origin to this very

  I congratulate you, my friends and neighbors, that peace has been
  restored to Kansas. As a Pennsylvanian I rejoice that this good
  work has been accomplished by two sons of our good old mother
  State, God bless her! We have reason to be proud of Colonel Geary
  and General Smith. We shall hear no more of bleeding Kansas. There
  will be no more shrieks for her unhappy destiny. The people of
  this fine country, protected from external violence and internal
  commotion, will decide the question of slavery for themselves, and
  then slide gracefully into the Union and become one of the sisters
  in our great Confederacy.

  Indeed, viewed in the eye of sober reason, this Kansas question is
  one of the most absurd of all the Proteus-like forms which
  abolition fanaticism has ever assumed to divide and distract the
  country. And why do I say this? Kansas might enter the Union with
  a free constitution to-day, and once admitted, no human power
  known to the Constitution could prevent her from establishing
  slavery to-morrow. No free-soiler has ever even contended that she
  would not possess this power.

The result of the election shows, with great distinctness, the
following facts: 1st. That Mr. Buchanan was chosen President,
because he received the electoral votes of the five free States of
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois and California (62 in
all), and that without them he could not have been elected. 2d. That
his Southern vote (that of every slave-holding State excepting
Maryland) was partly given to him because of his conservative
opinions and position, and partly because the candidate for the
Vice-Presidency, Mr. Breckinridge, was a Southern man. 3d. That
General Fremont received the electoral vote of no Southern State,
and that this was due partly to the character of the Republican
party and its Northern tone, and partly to the fact that the
Republican candidate for the Vice Presidency (Mr. Dayton, of New
Jersey), was a citizen of a non-slaveholding State. General Fremont
himself was nominally a citizen of California. This election,
therefore, foreshadowed the sectional division which would be almost
certain to happen in the next one, if the four years of Mr.
Buchanan’s administration should not witness a subsidence in the
sectional feelings between the North and the South. It would only be
necessary for the Republicans to wrest from the Democratic party the
five free States which had voted for Mr. Buchanan, and they would
elect the President in 1860. Whether this was to happen, would
depend upon the ability of the Democratic party to avoid a rupture
into factions that would themselves be representatives of
irreconcilable dogmas on the subject of slavery in the Territories.
Hence it is that Mr. Buchanan’s course as President, for the three
first years of his term, is to be judged, with reference to the
responsibility that was upon him to so conduct the Government as to
disarm, if possible, the antagonism of section to section. His
administration of affairs after the election of Mr. Lincoln is to be
judged simply by his duty as the Executive, in the most
extraordinary and anomalous crisis in which the country had ever
been placed.

I take from the multitude of private letters written or received
during and after the election, a few of the most interesting:—

                   [FROM THE HON. JAMES MACGREGOR.]

                                    HOUSE OF COMMONS, June 20, 1856.


  I am, indeed, very happy to receive to-day the decision with
  regard to you at Cincinnati, and God grant the result be as
  successful as I wish. The feeling in this house, and I am sure in
  the country, is, I believe firmly, such as you could wish. I wish
  that miserable dispute about Central America were dissipated; for
  my part, I believe that if not only Central America, but all
  Spanish America, south of California, were possessed and governed
  by an Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-American race, the more would the
  progress of civilization, the progress of industry and commerce,
  and the happiness of mankind be advanced.

  I went over to Paris a few days after you left for Havre. Saw much
  of Mr. Mason, Mr. Corbin and Mr. Childs. The latter drew me a most
  able statement relative to the disputes with America, which I made
  good use of, on my return, with Lord Palmerston.

  You will observe that even the meretricious _Times_, which I send
  you a copy of, is coming to be more reasonable; although I cannot
  trust that journal, which, I believe, was truly characterized by
  O’Connell, in the House of Commons, as representing “the sagacity
  of the rat and the morality of a harlot.” I write in great haste
  for the post; but believe me always, and with my very kindest
  regards to Miss Lane,

                                               Faithfully yours,
                                                       J. MACGREGOR.

                      [TO WILLIAM B. REED, ESQ.]

                                       Monday Morning, July 7, 1856.


  I return Mr. Stevenson’s letter with thanks. He appears to be “a
  marvellous proper man.” There never was a more unfounded falsehood
  than that of my connection with the bargain, or alleged bargain.
  At the time I was a young member of Congress, not on terms of
  intimacy with either Jackson or Clay. It is true I admired both,
  and wished to see the one President and the other Secretary of
  State; and after Mr. Clay had been instructed by the Kentucky
  legislature to vote for Jackson, I believed my wish would be
  accomplished. It must have been then that I had the conversation
  with Mr. Clay, in Letcher’s room, to which Colton refers, for I
  declare I have not the least trace on my memory of any such
  conversation. Had I known anything of the previous history of
  Jackson and Clay, I could not have believed it possible that the
  former would appoint the latter Secretary. A conversation of a few
  minutes with Jackson on the street on a cold and stormy day of
  December, fully related by me in 1827, and a meeting with Mr. Clay
  in Letcher’s room, and a conversation perfectly harmless as
  stated, have brought me into serious difficulties.

                            Your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                 [TO THE HON. JAMES C. DOBBIN.[28].]

                                   BEDFORD SPRINGS, August 20, 1856.


  Your favor of the 13th instant did not reach me at the Bedford
  Springs until I was about leaving, hence the delay of my answer. I
  did not reach home until the night before the last.

  I congratulate you, with all my heart, on the result of your
  election. The population of the old North State is steady and
  conservative. Of it you may be justly proud. The Southern States
  now promise to be a unit at the approaching Presidential election.
  Maryland is still considered doubtful, but the changes in our
  favor have been great within the last three weeks. The letters of
  Messrs. Pierce and Pratt have had a happy effect.

  I am glad to learn that our foreign affairs are assuming a
  favorable aspect. I most heartily approved of the dismissal of Mr.
  Crampton, and would have been quite as well satisfied had he been
  sent home in the last autumn. About the present condition of the
  Central American questions I knew nothing until the receipt of
  your letter, except from the revelations in the British
  Parliament, which I know, from experience, are not reliable. Mr.
  Dallas said nothing to me about his instructions or the views of
  the President, and, of course, I did not solicit his confidence.
  The question of the Bay Islands is too clear for serious doubt.
  Lord Aberdeen, the purest and most just of British statesmen, when
  premier gave it up, as is shown by my correspondence with the
  State Department, and it is highly probable Great Britain may make
  a virtue of necessity, and surrender these islands to Honduras to
  whom they clearly belong.

  I am glad to learn that the President enjoys good health,
  notwithstanding the fatigue, troubles, and responsibility incident
  to his position. I concur with you in opinion as to the character
  of his manly and excellent address on the receipt of the
  intelligence from Cincinnati. It was no more than what might have
  been expected from him by all who knew him. My aspirations for the
  Presidency had all died four years ago, and I never felt the
  slightest personal interest in securing the nomination. It was
  easy to foresee the impending crisis, and that the Union itself
  might depend on the result of the election. In this view, whilst
  we all have everything near and dear to us of a political
  character at stake, the President of all men has the deepest
  interest in the result. My election, so far as I am personally
  concerned is a very small matter; but as identified with the
  leading measures of his administration, the preservation of the
  Constitution and the Union, and the maintenance of the equality of
  the States, and of the right of the people of a Territory to
  decide the question of slavery for themselves, in their
  constitution, before entering the Union, it is a subject of vast
  and transcendant importance.

  Most cordially reciprocating your friendly sentiments towards
  myself, and wishing you all the blessings which you can desire, I
  remain, as ever, very respectfully,

                                               Your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Footnote 28:

  Secretary of the Navy under President Pierce.

                  [TO NAHUM CAPEN, ESQ., OF BOSTON.]

                                         WHEATLAND, August 27, 1856.


  On my return from Bedford Springs on Monday night, I found your
  favor of the 22d instant, and your manuscript. The latter I have
  endeavored to find the time to read with care, but this has been
  impossible. I have, therefore, only been able to glance over it.
  It is written with characteristic ability, and that portion of it
  which gives extracts from my speeches has been prepared with much
  labor and discrimination. I have not seen the manuscript of any
  biography of mine before publication, nor have I read any one of
  them since, and this simply because I did not choose to be
  identified with any of them.

  For my own part, I consider that all incidental questions are
  comparatively of little importance in the Presidential question,
  when compared with the grand and appalling issue of union or
  disunion. Should Fremont be elected, he must receive 149 Northern
  electoral votes at the least, and the outlawry proclaimed by the
  Republican convention at Philadelphia against fifteen Southern
  States will be ratified by the people of the North. The
  consequence will be _immediate_ and inevitable. In this region,
  the battle is fought mainly on this issue. We have so often cried
  “wolf,” that now, when the wolf is at the door, it is difficult to
  make the people believe it; but yet the sense of danger is slowly
  and surely making its way in this region.

  After reflection and consultation, I stated in my letter of
  acceptance substantially, that I would make no issues beyond the
  platform, and have, therefore, avoided giving my sanction to any
  publication containing opinions with which I might be identified,
  and prove unsatisfactory to some portions of the Union. I must
  continue to stand on this ground. Had it not been for this cause,
  I should have embraced your kind offer, and asked you to prepare a
  biography for me, and furnished the materials. Indeed, I often
  thought of this.

  I am deeply and gratefully sensible of your friendship, and
  therefore most reluctantly adopt the course towards you which I
  have done to all other friends under like circumstances.

  In the cursory glance I have been able to take of your manuscript,
  I observed one or two errors. In page 37 of No. 1, my allusion was
  to Mrs. Adams, and not to Mrs. Jackson. I entered college at the
  age of sixteen, not of fourteen, having been previously prepared
  for the Junior class. It is not the fact that I accepted no
  compensation for trying the widow’s cause. “Millions for defence,
  but not a cent for tribute,” was not original with me.

  I am so surrounded, I regret I cannot write more, and still more
  deeply regret that my omission to sanction your very able
  manuscript may give you pain. I sincerely wish you had referred it
  to the National Committee, or to the committee in your own State.

  We are fighting the battle in this State almost solely _on the
  great issue_, with energy and confidence. I do not think there is
  any reason to apprehend the result, certainly none at the
  Presidential election, so far as Pennsylvania is concerned.

  In haste, I remain always, very respectfully, your friend,

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                      [TO WILLIAM B. REED, ESQ.]

                                       WHEATLAND, September 8, 1856.


  I have received your favor of the 5th inst. I do not recollect the
  names of the two members of the Society of Friends to whom you
  refer; but should you deem it important, I can, with some trouble,
  find the original letter. I have no doubt Dr. Parrish was one of
  them. He, William Wharton and Joseph Foulke were the three
  gentlemen referred to in my remarks on the 25th April, 1836, in
  presenting the petition of the Society of Friends against the
  admission of Arkansas, etc. They not only acquiesced in my course,
  but requested me to procure for them a number of copies of the
  _National Intelligencer_ containing my remarks, and left
  Washington entirely satisfied. (Vide the volume of the Register of
  Debates, to which you refer, pages 1277 and 1278.)

  I cannot procure the _London Quarterly_ in Lancaster. I took the
  Reviews in England, but neglected to order them since my return. I
  have no doubt it does me great injustice. I was so popular
  personally in England, that whenever I appeared at public dinners,
  etc., I was enthusiastically cheered; but now they are all for
  Fremont ......, and a dissolution of the Union.

  I am gratified that you have sent me Mr. Stevenson’s letter. I
  have no doubt he is a gentleman of fastidious honor as well as
  much ability. Although a patient and much-enduring man, I have
  never had patience about “the bargain and sale story.” So far as I
  am concerned, it all arose from the misapprehension by General
  Jackson of as innocent a conversation on the street, on my part,
  as I ever had with any person. I cannot charge myself even with
  the slightest imprudence. And then, as a rebutter, a conversation
  equally innocent, in Letcher’s room, about the particulars of
  which I have no more recollection than if it had never taken
  place. Still, I have not the least doubt it has been stated
  accurately; because it is just what I would have said under the
  circumstances, and in entire ignorance of the nature of the
  personal relations between General Jackson and Mr. Clay. Blair’s
  exposé has fallen dead, so far as I can learn.

 (Private and confidential.)              WHEATLAND, September 14, 1856.


  I have at length found, and now enclose, the letter to which you
  refer. I have very often spoken in the Senate on the subject of
  slavery in the different forms which the question has assumed, but
  have not the time at the present moment to look over the debates.

  I have recently received a letter from Governor Wright, of
  Indiana, who informs me it would be of great importance in that
  State should the _National Intelligencer_ come out in favor of the
  Democratic candidates. He had heard, as we have done, that such
  was the intention of its editors, after the adjournment of
  Congress. But they have at length come out in favor of Fremont. I
  say this, because they scout the idea that the Union would be in
  danger from his election...... Better they had at once raised the
  Republican flag. This opinion they have expressed, notwithstanding
  I am in the daily receipt of letters from the South, which are
  truly alarming, and these from gentlemen who formerly opposed both
  nullification and disunion. They say explicitly that the election
  of Fremont involves the dissolution of the Union, and this
  immediately. They allege that they are now looking on calmly for
  the North to decide their fate. When I say from the South, I refer
  to the States south of the Potomac. These evidences of public
  determination first commenced in the extreme South; but now the
  same calm and determined spirit appears to pervade Virginia.
  Indeed, the most alarming letter I have received has been from
  Virginia, and this, too, from a prudent, tranquil and able man,
  who has for some years been out of public life from his own
  choice. The remarks of the _National Intelligencer_ will either
  serve to delude the Northern people, or the Southrons are
  insincere. God save the Union! I do not wish to survive it.

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  P.S.—I refer to the article in the _Intelligencer_ of the 11th
  instant, headed, “The Balance Wheels of the Government.” One
  gentleman informs me that the men who were our contemporaries when
  the States lived in peace with each other, before the slavery
  excitement commenced, have passed away, and they have been
  succeeded by a new generation, who have grown up pending the
  slavery agitation. He says that they have been constantly assailed
  by the North, and now have as much hatred for the people of New
  England as the latter have for them; and many now deem that it
  would be for the mutual advantage of all parties to have a
  Southern Confederation, in which they can live at peace. I have
  received such communications with regret and astonishment.

                    [TO A CITIZEN OF CALIFORNIA.]

                   WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, PENN., Sept. 17, 1856.


  I have received numerous communications from sources in
  California, entitled to high regard, in reference to the
  proposed Pacific Railroad. As it would be impossible for me to
  answer them all, I deem it most proper and respectful to
  address you a general answer in your official capacity. In
  performing this duty to the citizens of California, I act in
  perfect consistency with the self-imposed restriction
  contained in my letter accepting the nomination for the
  Presidency, not to answer interrogatories raising new and
  different issues from those presented by the Cincinnati
  convention, because that convention has itself adopted a
  resolution in favor of this great work. I, then, desire to
  state briefly that, concurring with the convention, I am
  decidedly favorable to the construction of the Pacific
  Railroad; and I derive the authority to do this from the
  constitutional power “to declare war,” and the constitutional
  duty “to repel invasions.” In my judgment, Congress possess
  the same power to make appropriations for the construction of
  this road, strictly for the purpose of national defence, that
  they have to erect fortifications at the mouth of the harbor
  of San Francisco. Indeed, the necessity, with a view to repel
  foreign invasion from California, is as great in the one case
  as in the other. Neither will there be danger from the
  precedent, for it is almost impossible to conceive that any
  case attended by such extraordinary and unprecedented
  circumstances can ever again occur in our history.

                                   Yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  To B. F. WASHINGTON, Esq., Chairman of the Democratic State
  Central Committee of California.

                   [TO JOSHUA BATES, ESQ., LONDON.]

                            WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, Nov. 6, 1856.


  I received in due time your kind congratulatory letter of the 10th
  July, which I should have immediately answered had I been able to
  express a decided opinion as to the result of the Presidential
  election. It was one of the most severe political struggles
  through which we have ever passed. The preachers and fanatics of
  New England had excited the people to such a degree on the slavery
  questions, that they generally prayed and preached against me from
  their pulpits on Sunday last, throughout that land of “isms.” Your
  information from Massachusetts was entirely unfounded—Boston is a
  sad place. In that city they have re-elected to Congress a
  factious fanatic, ...... who, in a public speech, said that we
  must have an anti-slavery Constitution, an anti-slavery Bible, and
  an anti-slavery God.

  Whilst the British press, by their violent attacks, did me much
  good service, I very much regretted their hostile publications,
  because it was and is my sincere desire to cultivate the most
  friendly relations with that country. The _Times_ does England
  much injury, at least in foreign nations; it has made the English
  unpopular throughout the continent, and keeps alive the ancient
  prejudice which still exists in large portions of our country. In
  very many of the Democratic papers, throughout the late canvass,
  beautiful extracts from the _Thunderer_, the _Chronicle_, and
  other English journals, were kept standing at the head of their
  columns. But enough of this. I most sincerely hope the Central
  American questions may be settled before the 4th of March. I know
  nothing of their condition at present. I never doubted in regard
  to the true construction of the treaty, nor did I ever consider it
  doubtful. The purest and the wisest statesmen I met in England
  agreed with me in regard to the construction of the treaty. If we
  are to be as good friends as I desire we may be, your government
  ought to be careful to select the proper man as minister, and not
  send us some government pet simply because they have no other
  provision for him. I have said much to Lord Clarendon on this
  subject before I had the slightest idea of becoming President. By
  the bye, I like his lordship personally very much, as well as Lord
  Palmerston. They are both agreeable and witty companions, as well
  as great statesmen. I should like them much better, however, if
  their friendly feelings were a little stronger for this country. I
  have no doubt they both, as you say, expressed their satisfaction
  at the prospect of my becoming President. This was, however, at an
  early day. They have probably since changed their opinion. I have
  been a good deal quizzed by private friends since I came home,
  [because] I spoke in strong and warm terms of the kindness and
  civility which had been extended to me in England, and of the vast
  importance to both countries and to the world that friendly
  feelings between the two countries should be cherished by the
  governments and people of each. How often have the articles from
  British newspapers been cast up to me as a comment upon my
  remarks. They have, however, produced no effect upon my feelings.
  I was delighted to see Sir Henry Holland, and to gossip with him
  about valued friends and acquaintances on the other side of the
  water. Please to remember me very kindly to Mrs. Bates, and Miss
  Lane desires me to present her warm regards to you both. It is
  long since I have heard from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence.

                        From your friend, very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                   [FROM THE HON. EDWARD EVERETT.]

                                             BOSTON, Dec, 8th, 1856.


  ....... I can hardly congratulate you on your election, first,
  because I did not vote for you (unless upon the theory that every
  vote given to Fillmore was in effect given to you), and second,
  because I fear that to be chosen President is not a thing upon
  which a friend is to be congratulated, in the present state of the

  You have my best wishes, however, for a prosperous administration.
  I devoutly hope that you will be able to check the progress of
  sectional feeling. The policy of the present administration has
  greatly impaired (as you are well aware) the conservative feeling
  of the North, has annihilated the Whig party, and seriously
  weakened the Democratic party in all the free States.

  Though much opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, we
  could have stood that, but the subsequent events in Kansas gave us
  the _coup de grace_. Those events, and the assault on Mr. Sumner,
  gave its formidable character and strength to the Republican
  nomination. You can do nothing directly to prevent the occurrence
  of events like the assault, but you may, even in advance of the
  4th of March, do much to bring about a better state of things in
  Kansas, and prevent the enemies of the Constitution from
  continuing to make capital out of it.

  I am, dear sir, with much regard and sincere good wishes,

                                      Very truly yours,
                                                     EDWARD EVERETT.

                     [TO THE HON. JOHN Y. MASON.]

                       WHEATLAND, near LANCASTER, December 29, 1856.


  Ere this can reach Paris, you will doubtless have received my
  letter to Miss Wight. I shall not repeat what I have said to her,
  because such is the pressure now upon me that I have scarce time
  to say my prayers. This I can say in perfect good faith, that the
  man don’t live whom it would afford me greater pleasure to serve
  than yourself. In this spirit I have determined that you shall not
  be disturbed during the next year, no matter what may be the
  pressure upon me. I am not committed, either directly or
  indirectly, to any human being for any appointment, but yet I
  cannot mistake the strong current of public opinion in favor of
  changing public functionaries, both abroad and at home, who have
  served a reasonable time. They say, and that, too, with
  considerable force, that if the officers under a preceding
  Democratic administration shall be continued by a succeeding
  administration of the same political character, this must
  necessarily destroy the party. This, perhaps, ought not to be so,
  but we cannot change human nature.

  The great object of my administration will be to arrest, if
  possible, the agitation of the slavery question at the North, and
  to destroy sectional parties. Should a kind Providence enable me
  to succeed in my efforts to restore harmony to the Union, I shall
  feel that I have not lived in vain.

  I beg of you to say nothing to any of your colleagues in Europe
  about your continuance in office during the next year. Had it been
  announced I had informed you, in answer to Miss Wight, that you
  should continue indefinitely in office, this would have done both
  you and myself injury. We know not what may transpire in 1857, and
  therefore, in reference to the mission after that period, I can
  say nothing. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

  Even if I had the time, I could not communicate any news to you
  which you will not see in the papers. The pressure for office
  will be nearly as great as though I had succeeded a Whig

  With my kind and affectionate regards to Mrs. Mason and your
  excellent family, and cordially wishing you and them many a happy
  Christmas and many a prosperous New Year, I remain, always,

                              Very respectfully your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  P.S.—In reading over my letter, I find it is quite too cold in
  reference to Mary Ann, and therefore I beg to send her my love.

                              CHAPTER IX.


From the communication which has been furnished to me by Mr. James
Buchanan Henry, I select the following account of the period
preceding the inauguration of his uncle as President, on the 4th of
March, 1857:

  Soon after Mr. Buchanan’s election to the Presidency, he sent for
  me—I was in Philadelphia, where I had begun the practice of the
  law—to come to Wheatland. He then told me that he had selected me
  to be his private secretary, and spoke to me gravely of the
  temptations by which I should probably be assailed in that
  position. Soon afterwards prominent men and politicians began to
  make their way to Wheatland in great numbers, and the stream
  increased steadily until the departure of Mr. Buchanan for

  In addition to personal attendance upon the President-elect, I
  soon had my hands full of work in examining and briefing the daily
  mails, which were burdened with letters of recommendation from
  individuals, committees and delegations of various States, in
  regard to the cabinet appointments and a few of the more important
  offices. Mr. Buchanan was also preparing his inaugural address
  with his usual care and painstaking, and I copied his drafts and
  recopied them until he had it prepared to his satisfaction. It
  underwent no alteration after he went to the National Hotel in
  Washington, except that he there inserted a clause in regard to
  the question then pending in the Supreme Court, as one that would
  dispose of a vexed and dangerous topic by the highest judicial
  authority of the land. When the time came to leave Wheatland for
  the capital, preliminary to his inauguration, Mr. Buchanan, Miss
  Lane, Miss Hetty and I drove into Lancaster in his carriage,
  escorted all the way to the railway station by a great and
  enthusiastic crowd of Lancaster citizens and personal friends,
  with a band of music, although it was very early on a bleak winter
  morning. I remember his modestly remarking upon the vast crowd
  thus doing reverence to a mortal man. At the station he was met by
  an ardent personal and political friend, Robert Magraw, then
  president of the Northern Central Railroad, and received into a
  special car, built for the occasion, and the windows of which were
  in colors and represented familiar scenes of and about Wheatland.
  After receiving ovations all along the way, especially at
  Baltimore, the President-elect and party arrived safely in
  Washington. We were somewhat fearful that Mr. Buchanan might be
  seriously embarrassed during the inaugural ceremonies from the
  effects of what was then known as the National Hotel disease, a
  disorder which, from no cause that we could then discover, had
  attacked nearly every guest at the house, and from the dire
  effects of which many never wholly recovered. Dr. Foltz, a naval
  surgeon, whose appointment in the service, many years before, Mr.
  Buchanan had assisted, was in constant attendance upon him, and I
  remember that he and I went together to the Capitol in a carriage
  just behind the one that conveyed the retiring President and the
  President-elect, and that he had occasion to administer remedies.
  The inauguration ceremonies, the ball, and the first reception at
  the White House by the new President, were very largely attended
  and successful. It happened that they took place during a short
  era of good feeling among all shades of politics and party, but
  unhappily an era of peace destined soon to terminate in bitter
  discord over the Lecompton Constitution, or Kansas question, and
  by the more disastrous following appeal to the passions of the two
  great political sections of the North and the South, which so
  nearly ended the administration in blood. The dinners at the White
  House, during the first year, were attended by Republicans as well
  as Democrats, with great seeming friendship and good-will.

The Inaugural Address of the new President was as follows:

  FELLOW-CITIZENS: I appear before you this day to take the solemn
  oath “that I will faithfully execute the office of President of
  the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve,
  protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

  In entering upon this great office, I most humbly invoke the God
  of our fathers for wisdom and firmness to execute its high and
  responsible duties in such a manner as to restore harmony and
  ancient friendship among the people of the several States, and to
  preserve our free institutions throughout many generations.
  Convinced that I owe my election to the inherent love for the
  Constitution and the Union which still animates the hearts of the
  American people, let me earnestly ask their powerful support in
  sustaining all just measures calculated to perpetuate these, the
  richest political blessings which Heaven has ever bestowed upon
  any nation. Having determined not to become a candidate for
  re-election, I shall have no motive to influence my conduct in
  administering the government except the desire ably and faithfully
  to serve my country, and to live in the grateful memory of my

  We have recently passed through a presidential contest in which
  the passions of our fellow-citizens were excited to the highest
  degree by questions of deep and vital importance; but when the
  people proclaimed their will, the tempest at once subsided, and
  all was calm.

  The voice of the majority, speaking in the manner prescribed by
  the Constitution, was heard, and instant submission followed. Our
  own country could alone have exhibited so grand and striking a
  spectacle of the capacity of man for self-government.

  What a happy conception, then, was it for Congress to apply this
  simple rule—that the will of the majority shall govern—to the
  settlement of the question of domestic slavery in the Territories!
  Congress is neither “to legislate slavery into any Territory or
  State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people
  thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic
  institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of
  the United States.” As a natural consequence, Congress has also
  prescribed that, when the Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as
  a State, it “shall be received into the Union, with or without
  slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their

  A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the point of time
  when the people of a Territory shall decide this question for

  This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance.
  Besides, it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to
  the Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now
  pending, and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally
  settled. To their decision, in common with all good citizens, I
  shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be, though it has ever
  been my individual opinion that, under the Nebraska-Kansas act,
  the appropriate period will be when the number of actual residents
  in the Territory shall justify the formation of a constitution
  with a view to its admission as a State into the Union. But be
  this as it may, it is the imperative and indispensable duty of the
  government of the United States to secure to every resident
  inhabitant the free and independent expression of his opinion by
  his vote. This sacred right of each individual must be preserved.
  That being accomplished, nothing can be fairer than to leave the
  people of a Territory free from all foreign interference, to
  decide their own destiny for themselves, subject only to the
  Constitution of the United States.

  The whole territorial question being thus settled upon the
  principle of popular sovereignty—a principle as ancient as free
  government itself—everything of a practical nature has been
  decided. No other question remains for adjustment; because all
  agree that, under the Constitution, slavery in the States is
  beyond the reach of any human power, except that of the respective
  States themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that
  the long agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and
  that the geographical parties to which it has given birth, so much
  dreaded by the Father of his Country, will speedily become
  extinct? Most happy will it be for the country when the public
  mind shall be diverted from this question to others of more
  pressing and practical importance. Throughout the whole progress
  of this agitation, which has scarcely known any intermission for
  more than twenty years, whilst it has been productive of no
  positive good to any human being, it has been the prolific source
  of great evils to the master, the slave, and to the whole country.
  It has alienated and estranged the people of the sister States
  from each other, and has even seriously endangered the very
  existence of the Union. Nor has the danger yet entirely ceased.
  Under our system there is a remedy for all mere political evils in
  the sound sense and sober judgment of the people. Time is a great
  corrective. Political subjects which but a few years ago excited
  and exasperated the public mind have passed away and are now
  nearly forgotten. But this question of domestic slavery is of far
  graver importance than any mere political question, because,
  should the agitation continue, it may eventually endanger the
  personal safety of a large portion of our countrymen where the
  institution exists. In that event, no form of government, however
  admirable in itself, and however productive of material benefits,
  can compensate for the loss of peace and domestic security around
  the family altar. Let every Union-loving man, therefore, exert his
  best influence to suppress this agitation, which, since the recent
  legislation of Congress, is without any legitimate object.

  It is an evil omen of the times that men have undertaken to
  calculate the mere material value of the Union. Reasoned estimates
  have been presented of the pecuniary profits and local advantages
  which would result to different States and sections from its
  dissolution, and of the comparative injuries which such an event
  would inflict on other States and sections. Even descending to
  this low and narrow view of the mighty question, all such
  calculations are at fault. The bare reference to a single
  consideration will be conclusive on this point. We at present
  enjoy a free trade throughout our extensive and expanding country,
  such as the world has never witnessed. This trade is conducted on
  railroads and canals—on noble rivers and arms of the sea—which
  bind together the north and the south, the east and the west of
  our confederacy. Annihilate this trade, arrest its free progress
  by the geographical lines of jealous and hostile States, and you
  destroy the prosperity and onward march of the whole and every
  part, and involve all in one common ruin. But such considerations,
  important as they are in themselves, sink into insignificance when
  we reflect on the terrific evils which would result from disunion
  to every portion of the confederacy—to the north not more than to
  the south, to the east not more than to the west. These I shall
  not attempt to portray; because I feel an humble confidence that
  the kind Providence which inspired our fathers with wisdom to
  frame the most perfect form of Government and Union ever devised
  by man will not suffer it to perish until it shall have been
  peacefully instrumental, by its example, in the extension of civil
  and religious liberty throughout the world.

  Next in importance to the maintenance of the Constitution and the
  Union is the duty of preserving the government free from the
  taint, or even the suspicion, of corruption. Public virtue is the
  vital spirit of republics; and history shows that when this has
  decayed, and the love of money has usurped its place, although the
  forms of free government may remain for a season, the substance
  has departed forever.

  Our present financial condition is without a parallel in history.
  No nation has ever before been embarrassed from too large a
  surplus in its treasury. This almost necessarily gives birth to
  extravagant legislation. It produces wild schemes of expenditure,
  and begets a race of speculators and jobbers, whose ingenuity is
  exerted in contriving and promoting expedients to obtain public
  money. The purity of official agents, whether rightfully or
  wrongfully, is suspected, and the character of the government
  suffers in the estimation of the people. This is in itself a very
  great evil.

  The natural mode of relief from this embarrassment is to
  appropriate the surplus in the treasury to great national objects,
  for which a clear warrant can be found in the Constitution. Among
  these I might mention the extinguishment of the public debt, a
  reasonable increase of the navy, which is at present inadequate to
  the protection of our vast tonnage afloat, now greater than that
  of any other nation, as well as to the defence of our extended

  It is beyond all question the true principle, that no more revenue
  ought to be collected from the people than the amount necessary to
  defray the expenses of a wise, economical, and efficient
  administration of the government. To reach this point, it was
  necessary to resort to a modification of the tariff; and this has,
  I trust, been accomplished in such a manner as to do as little
  injury as may have been practicable to our domestic manufactures,
  especially those necessary for the defence of the country. Any
  discrimination against a particular branch, for the purpose of
  benefiting favored corporations, individuals, or interests, would
  have been unjust to the rest of the community, and inconsistent
  with that spirit of fairness and equality which ought to govern in
  the adjustment of a revenue tariff.

  But the squandering of the public money sinks into comparative
  insignificance as a temptation to corruption when compared with
  the squandering of the public lands.

  No nation in the tide of time has ever been blessed with so rich
  and noble an inheritance as we enjoy in the public lands. In
  administering this important trust, whilst it may be wise to grant
  portions of them for the improvement of the remainder, yet we
  should never forget that it is our cardinal policy to reserve
  these lands, as much as may be, for actual settlers, and this at
  moderate prices. We shall thus not only best promote the
  prosperity of the new States and Territories by furnishing them a
  hardy and independent race of honest and industrious citizens, but
  shall secure homes for our children and our children’s children,
  as well as for those exiles from foreign shores who may seek in
  this country to improve their condition, and to enjoy the
  blessings of civil and religious liberty. Such emigrants have done
  much to promote the growth and prosperity of the country. They
  have proved faithful both in peace and in war. After becoming
  citizens, they are entitled, under the Constitution and laws, to
  be placed on a perfect equality with native-born citizens, and in
  this character they should ever be kindly recognized.

  The Federal Constitution is a grant from the States to Congress of
  certain specific powers; and the question whether this grant
  should be liberally or strictly construed, has, more or less,
  divided political parties from the beginning. Without entering
  into the argument, I desire to state, at the commencement of my
  administration, that long experience and observation have
  convinced me that a strict construction of the powers of the
  Government is the only true, as well as the only safe, theory of
  the Constitution. Whenever, in our past history, doubtful powers
  have been exercised by Congress, these have never failed to
  produce injurious and unhappy consequences. Many such instances
  might be adduced, if this were the proper occasion. Neither is it
  necessary for the public service to strain the language of the
  Constitution; because all the great and useful powers required for
  a successful administration of the Government, both in peace and
  in war, have been granted, either in express terms or by the
  plainest implication.

  Whilst deeply convinced of these truths, I yet consider it clear
  that, under the war-making power, Congress may appropriate money
  towards the construction of a military road, when this is
  absolutely necessary for the defence of any State or Territory of
  the Union against foreign invasion. Under the Constitution,
  Congress has power “to declare war,” “to raise and support
  armies,” “to provide and maintain a navy,” and to call forth the
  militia to “repel invasions.” Thus endowed, in an ample manner,
  with the war-making power, the corresponding duty is required that
  “the United States shall protect each of them [the States] against
  invasion.” Now, how is it possible to afford this protection to
  California and our Pacific possessions, except by means of a
  military road through the Territories of the United States, over
  which men and munitions of war may be speedily transported from
  the Atlantic States to meet and to repel the invader? In the event
  of a war with a naval power much stronger than our own, we should
  then have no other available access to the Pacific coast, because
  such a power would instantly close the route across the isthmus of
  Central America. It is impossible to conceive that, whilst the
  Constitution has expressly required Congress to defend all the
  States, it should yet deny to them, by any fair construction, the
  only possible means by which one of these States can be defended.
  Besides, the Government, ever since its origin, has been in the
  constant practice of constructing military roads. It might also be
  wise to consider whether the love for the Union which now animates
  our fellow-citizens on the Pacific coast may not be impaired by
  our neglect or refusal to provide for them, in their remote and
  isolated condition, the only means by which the power of the
  States, on this side of the Rocky Mountains, can reach them in
  sufficient time to “protect” them “against invasion.” I forbear
  for the present from expressing an opinion as to the wisest and
  most economical mode in which the Government can lend its aid in
  accomplishing this great and necessary work. I believe that many
  of the difficulties in the way, which now appear formidable, will,
  in a great degree, vanish as soon as the nearest and best route
  shall have been satisfactorily ascertained.

  It may be proper that, on this occasion, I should make some brief
  remarks in regard to our rights and duties as a member of the
  great family of nations. In our intercourse with them there are
  some plain principles, approved by our own experience, from which
  we should never depart. We ought to cultivate peace, commerce, and
  friendship with all nations; and this not merely as the best means
  of promoting our own material interests, but in a spirit of
  Christian benevolence towards our fellow-men, wherever their lot
  may be cast. Our diplomacy should be direct and frank, neither
  seeking to obtain more nor accepting less than is our due. We
  ought to cherish a sacred regard for the independence of all
  nations, and never attempt to interfere in the domestic concerns
  of any, unless this shall be imperatively required by the great
  laws of self-preservation. To avoid entangling alliances has been
  a maxim of our policy ever since the days of Washington, and its
  wisdom no one will attempt to dispute. In short, we ought to do
  justice, in a kindly spirit, to all nations, and require justice
  from them in return.

  It is our glory that, whilst other nations have extended their
  dominions by the sword, we have never acquired any territory
  except by fair purchase, or, as in the case of Texas, by the
  voluntary determination of a brave, kindred, and independent
  people to blend their destinies with our own. Even our
  acquisitions from Mexico form no exception. Unwilling to take
  advantage of the fortune of war against a sister republic, we
  purchased these possessions, under the treaty of peace, for a sum
  which was considered at the time a fair equivalent. Our past
  history forbids that we shall in the future acquire territory,
  unless this be sanctioned by the laws of justice and honor. Acting
  on this principle, no nation will have a right to interfere or to
  complain if, in the progress of events, we shall still further
  extend our possessions. Hitherto, in all our acquisitions, the
  people, under the protection of the American flag, have enjoyed
  civil and religious liberty, as well as equal and just laws, and
  have been contented, prosperous, and happy. Their trade with the
  rest of the world has rapidly increased, and thus every commercial
  nation has shared largely in their successful progress.

  I shall now proceed to take the oath prescribed by the
  Constitution, whilst humbly invoking the blessing of Divine
  Providence on this great people.

In the selection of his cabinet, the President followed the
long-established custom of making it a representation of the
different portions of the Union, so far as might be consistent with
a proper regard for personal qualifications for the different posts.
The cabinet, which was confirmed by the Senate on the 6th day of
March, 1857, consisted of Lewis Cass, of Michigan, Secretary of
State; Howell Cobb, of Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury; John B.
Floyd, of Virginia, Secretary of War; Isaac Toucey, of Connecticut,
Secretary of the Navy; Aaron V. Brown, of Tennessee, Postmaster
General; Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior;
and Jeremiah S. Black, of Pennsylvania, Attorney General. So far as
was practicable within the limits of a selection which, according to
invariable usage and sound policy was confined to the Democratic
party, this cabinet was a fair representation of the Eastern, the
Middle, the Western and the Southern States.

The state of the country, however, when this administration was
organized, was ominous to its internal peace and welfare. The
preceding administration of President Pierce had left a legacy of
trouble to his successor in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.
Had it not been for this ill-advised step, the country might have
reposed upon the settlement of all the slavery questions that was
made by the “Compromise Measures” of 1850. How the flood-gates of
sectional controversy were again opened by the repeal of the earlier
settlement of 1820, and how this repeal tended to unsettle what had
been happily settled in 1850, is a sad chapter in our political

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was effected in the following
manner: In the session of 1854, Senator Douglas, chairman of the
Senate Committee on Territories, reported a bill for the
establishment of a Territorial government in Nebraska. It did not
touch the Missouri Compromise; and, being in the usual form, it
would probably have been passed without much opposition, but for the
intervention of a Senator from Kentucky, Mr. Dixon. He gave notice,
on the 16th of January, that when the bill should be reached in its
order, he would move a section repealing the Missouri Compromise,
both as to Nebraska and all other Territories of the United States.
Mr. Dixon was a Whig, and Mr. Douglas was a prominent and most
energetic Democrat, who had long been an aspirant to the Presidency.
Conceiving the idea that a new doctrine respecting the sovereign
right of the people of a Territory to determine for themselves
whether they would or would not have slavery while they were in the
Territorial condition, would better reconcile both sections of the
Union than the continuance of the Missouri Compromise, he introduced
a substitute for the original bill, which, after dividing Nebraska
into two Territories, calling one Nebraska and the other Kansas,
annulled the Missouri Compromise in regard to these and all other
Territories. This he called, “Non-intervention by Congress with
slavery in the States or Territories,” which his bill declared was
the principle of the settlement of 1850, although that settlement
had not only not invalidated the Missouri Compromise, but that
Compromise had been expressly recognized in the case of Texas. Mr.
Dixon expressed himself as perfectly satisfied with Mr. Douglas’s
new bill, and the latter, being a man of great power, both as a
debater and as a politician, carried his bill through the two
Houses, and persuaded President Pierce to approve it. It was long
and disastrously known as “the Kansas-Nebraska Act.”

Its discussion in Congress was attended with heats such as had not
been witnessed for many years. It laid the foundation for the
political success of the party then beginning to be known as the
Republican, and it produced the hopeless disruption of the
Democratic party when its nomination for the Presidency next after
Mr. Buchanan’s was to be made. Proud, disdainful of the predictions
made by others of the danger to the Union arising from his measure,
confident in his own energies and his ability to unite the
Democratic party in the South and in the North upon his principle of
“non-intervention,” Mr. Douglas gained a momentary triumph at the
expense of his own political future, of the future of his party, and
of the peace of the Union. For a time, however, it seemed as if he
had secured a following that would insure the acceptance of his
principle. All the Southern Senators, Whigs and Democrats, with two
exceptions,[29] and all the Northern Democratic Senators, with three
exceptions,[30] voted for his bill. The Whig Senators from the
North, and those who more distinctively represented the Northern
anti-slavery, or “Free-soil” sentiment, voted against it; but the
latter hailed it as a means that would consolidate the North into a
great political organization, with freedom inscribed upon its
banners. Mr. Buchanan, it will be remembered, was at this time in

Footnote 29:

  Mr. Bell, of Tennessee, and Mr. Clayton, of Delaware.

Footnote 30:

  Messrs. Allen and James, of Rhode Island, and Mr. Walker, of

He has said that although down to this period the anti-slavery party
of the North had been the assailing party and kept the people of the
South in constant irritation, yet, “in sustaining the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise the Senators and Representatives of the Southern
States became the aggressors themselves.”[31] And it was one of the
worst features of this aggression that it was made under the lead of
a Northern Democrat; for if the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
was a boon offered to the South, they could say that it was a boon
offered from the North.[32]

Footnote 31:

  Buchanan’s Defence, p. 28.

Footnote 32:

  It must be remembered that this took place long before the case of
  “Dred Scott” had been acted upon in the Supreme Court of the
  United States.

The fatal effects of this measure were two-fold; first in unsettling
what had been settled in 1850, and secondly in precipitating a
struggle in Kansas as between the pro-slavery and the anti-slavery
parties, which, although it was local, spread itself in opposite
sympathies throughout the North and the South. The Compromise
Measures of 1850 had settled every possible question in relation to
slavery on which Congress could then or ever afterwards act.

Such was the general repose of the country upon these topics when
President Pierce was inaugurated, that he congratulated the country
upon the calm security now evinced by the public mind, and promised
that it should receive no shock during his official term, if he
could prevent it. But the shock came within two years, and it came
because the repeal of the Missouri Compromise threw open again the
whole question of slavery in the Territories, to remain an unending
sectional controversy until it had divided one great national party,
built up a new and sectional party, and finally rent the Union into
a geographical array of section against section.

The more immediate and local effect remains to be described. Kansas
at once became the theatre where the extreme men of both sections
entered into a deadly conflict, the one party to make it a free, the
other to make it a slaveholding Territory and State. Congress having
abdicated its duty of fixing the character of the Territory by law,
one way or the other, the beauty of Mr. Douglas’s principle of
“non-intervention,” now become popularly known in the political
jargon of the day as “squatter sovereignty,” had ample room for
development. What one party could do, on this principle, the other
could do. The Southern pro-slavery settler, or his sympathizer in
the Southern State which he had left, could claim that his slaves
were property in Kansas as much as in Missouri, or Tennessee, or
Kentucky. The Northern anti-slavery settler, or his sympathizer in
the Northern State from which he had come, could contend that
slavery was local and confined to the States where it existed.
Fierce war arose between the parties in their struggle for local
supremacy; both parties were respectively upheld and supplied by
their sympathizers in the near and in the distant States, North and
South; scenes of bloodshed and rapine ensued; and the bitter fruits
of opening a fine Territory to such a contest were reaped in an
abundance that made sober men stand aghast at the spectacle.

It was when Mr. Buchanan entered upon the duties of the Presidency
that this condition of things in Kansas came to its culmination. The
pro-slavery party in the Territory, in general violent and lawless
enough, in one respect kept themselves on the side of law. They
sustained the Territorial government which had been organized under
the Act of Congress, and obtained control of its legislature. The
anti-slavery party repudiated this legislature, alleging, with some
truth, that frauds and violence had been committed in the election.

To meet this wrong they committed another. They held a convention at
Topeka, framed a State constitution, elected a governor and
legislature to take the place of those who were governing the
Territory under the organic law, and applied to Congress for
admission into the Union. They had thus put themselves out of pale
of law. Congress at the end of a violent struggle rejected the
application for admission into the Union, under the Topeka
constitution, and recognized the authority of the Territorial
government. This took place in the session of Congress which
terminated on the day before Mr. Buchanan’s inauguration. As
President of the United States, he had no alternative but to
recognize and uphold the Territorial government. The fact that the
legislature of that government was in the hands of the pro-slavery
party, made the course which he adopted seem as if he favored their
pro-slavery designs, while, in truth, he had no object to subserve
but to sustain, as he was officially obliged to sustain, the
government which Congress had recognized as the lawful government of
the Territory.

This government at once proceded to call a convention, to assemble
at Lecompton, and frame a State constitution. It was now the
President’s hope that the anti-slavery party would cease their
opposition to the Territorial government, obey the laws, and elect
delegates to the Lecompton convention in sufficient number to insure
a free constitution. But for the ten months which followed from the
4th of March, 1857, to the first Monday in January, 1858, this party
continued to adhere to their Topeka constitution, and to defy the
Territorial government. In the meantime the peace had to be kept by
troops of the United States to prevent open war between the two

The President, soon after his inauguration, sent the Hon. Robert J.
Walker to Kansas, as Territorial governor, in place of Governor
Geary, who had resigned. Governor Walker was directed, if possible,
to persuade the anti-slavery party to unite with their opponents in
forming a State constitution, and to take care that the election of
delegates to the convention should be conducted so as to express the
true voice of the people on the question of slavery or freedom. The
governor performed this duty with entire impartiality. The laws
which provided for the election of delegates to the convention, and
for the registration of voters, were just and equitable. The
governor administered them fairly; he exhorted the whole body of
registered electors to vote. Nevertheless, the party that adhered to
the Topeka government and refused to recognize the Territorial
legislature, stayed away from the polls. The consequence was that a
large majority of pro-slavery delegates were elected to the
convention which was alone authorized, under the principles which,
in this country, recognize the sovereignty of the people, and
require it to be exercised through the ballot-box, under the
superintendence of the existing government, to form a constitution.

While these things were taking place in Kansas, in the summer of
1857, while a portion of the inhabitants were in a state of
rebellion against the only government that had any lawful authority;
while the friends of freedom were setting the example of disloyalty
to the established authority of the Territory, and the friends of
slavery were, in one respect, the law-abiding part of the community;
while the revolutionary Topeka legislature was in session, claiming
to be the lawful legislature, and a turbulent and dangerous military
leader was at the head of the anti-slavery party, in open opposition
to the only lawful government of the Territory, presses and pulpits
throughout the North teemed with denunciations of the new President,
who had not allowed revolutionary violence to prevail over the law
of the land. At length there came from the State of Connecticut a
memorial to the President, signed by forty-three of its
distinguished citizens, among them several eminent clergymen,
imputing to him a violation of his official oath, and informing him
that they prayed the Almighty to preserve him from the errors of his
ways. To this he replied with spirit and with a clear exposition of
the mistakes into which ignorant zeal in the cause of freedom had
led those who thus addressed him. His reply, dated August 15, 1857,
is worthy of being reproduced:

  “When I entered upon the duties of the Presidential office, on the
  fourth of March last, what was the condition of Kansas? This
  Territory had been organized under the Act of Congress of 30th
  May, 1854, and the government in all its branches was in full
  operation. A governor, secretary of the Territory, chief justice,
  two associate justices, a marshal, and district attorney had been
  appointed by my predecessor, by and with the advice and consent of
  the Senate, and were all engaged in discharging their respective
  duties. A code of laws had been enacted by the Territorial
  legislature, and the judiciary were employed in expounding and
  carrying these laws into effect. It is quite true that a
  controversy had previously arisen respecting the validity of the
  election of members of the Territorial legislature and of the laws
  passed by them; but at the time I entered upon my official duties,
  Congress had recognized this legislature in different forms and by
  different enactments. The delegate elected to the House of
  Representatives, under a Territorial law, had just completed his
  term of service on the day previous to my inauguration. In fact, I
  found the government of Kansas as well established as that of any
  other Territory. Under these circumstances, what was my duty? Was
  it not to sustain this government? to protect it from the violence
  of lawless men, who were determined either to rule or ruin? to
  prevent it from being overturned by force? in the language of the
  Constitution, to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed?’
  It was for this purpose, and this alone, that I ordered a military
  force to Kansas to act as a posse comitatus in aiding the civil
  magistrate to carry the laws into execution. The condition of the
  Territory at the time, which I need not portray, rendered this
  precaution absolutely necessary. In this state of affairs, would I
  not have been justly condemned had I left the marshal and other
  officers of a like character impotent to execute the process and
  judgments of courts of justice established by Congress, or by the
  Territorial legislature under its express authority, and thus have
  suffered the government itself to become an object of contempt in
  the eyes of the people? And yet this is what you designate as
  forcing ‘the people of Kansas to obey laws not their own, nor of
  the United States’; and for doing which you have denounced me as
  having violated my solemn oath. I ask, what else could I have
  done, or ought I to have done? Would you have desired that I
  should abandon the Territorial government, sanctioned as it had
  been by Congress, to illegal violence, and thus renew the scenes
  of civil war and bloodshed which every patriot in the country had
  deplored? This would, indeed, have been to violate my oath of
  office, and to fix a damning blot on the character of my

  “I most cheerfully admit that the necessity for sending a military
  force to Kansas to aid in the execution of the civil law, reflects
  no credit upon the character of our country. But let the blame
  fall upon the heads of the guilty. Whence did this necessity
  arise? A portion of the people of Kansas, unwilling to trust to
  the ballot-box—the certain American remedy for the redress of all
  grievances—undertook to create an independent government for
  themselves. Had this attempt proved successful, it would of course
  have subverted the existing government, prescribed and recognized
  by Congress, and substituted a revolutionary government in its
  stead. This was a usurpation of the same character as it would be
  for a portion of the people of Connecticut to undertake to
  establish a separate government within its chartered limits for
  the purpose of redressing any grievance, real or imaginary, of
  which they might have complained against the legitimate State
  government. Such a principle, if carried into execution, would
  destroy all lawful authority and produce universal anarchy.”

  And again: “I thank you for the assurances that you will ‘not
  refrain from the prayer that Almighty God will make my
  administration an example of justice and beneficence.’ You can
  greatly aid me in arriving at this blessed consummation, by
  exerting your influence in allaying the existing sectional
  excitement on the subject of slavery, which has been productive of
  much evil and no good, and which, if it could succeed in attaining
  its object, would ruin the slave as well as his master. This would
  be a work of genuine philanthropy. Every day of my life I feel how
  inadequate I am to perform the duties of my high station without
  the continued support of Divine Providence, yet, placing my trust
  in Him and in Him alone, I entertain a good hope that He will
  enable me to do equal justice to all portions of the Union, and
  thus render me an humble instrument in restoring peace and harmony
  among the people of the several States.”

The condition of Kansas continued for some time longer to be
disturbed by the revolutionary proceedings of the adherents of the
Topeka constitution. The inhabitants of the city of Lawrence
undertook to organize an insurrection throughout the Territory. This
town had been mainly established by the abolition societies of the
Eastern States. It had some respectable and well behaved citizens,
but it was the headquarters of paid agitators, in the employment of
certain anti-slavery organizations. It became necessary for Governor
Walker to suppress this threatened insurrection. The military leader
of the Free State party undertook, in July, to organize his party
into volunteers, and to take the names of all who refused
enrollment. The professed purpose of this organization was to
protect the polls at an election in August of a new Topeka
legislature. Many of the conservative citizens, who had hitherto
acted with the Free State party, were subjected to personal outrages
for refusing to be enrolled. To meet this revolutionary military
organization, and to prevent the establishment of an insurrectionary
government at Lawrence, the Territorial Governor had to retain in
Kansas a large body of United States troops. The insurgent general
and his military staff denied the authority of the Territorial laws,
and counselled the people not to participate in the elections
ordered under the authority of the Lecompton convention.[33]

Footnote 33:

  Governor Walker’s despatches to the Secretary of State, July 15th,
  20th and 27th, 1857.

The Lecompton convention, which met for the second time on the 2d of
September, and then proceeded to frame a State constitution,
adjourned on the 7th of November. Although this constitution
recognized slavery, the convention took steps to submit the question
to the people of the Territory, in a free ballot, by all the white
male inhabitants, before it should be sent to Congress for admission
into the Union. It would have been more regular to have submitted
the whole constitution to the people, although the organic Act did
not require it; but on the question of slavery, which was the vital
one, it can not be pretended that the convention acted unfairly. The
election was directed to be held on the 21st of December, (1857),
and the ballots were to be “Constitution with Slavery,” and
“Constitution with no Slavery.” Thus the opportunity was again
presented for the people of the Territory to vote upon the question
on which they were divided; and again the anti-slavery party, with
the exception of a few hundred of the voters, abstained from voting.
The result was that there were 6,226 votes in favor of the
“Constitution with Slavery,” and only 569 against it.

The Lecompton constitution provided for holding an election of State
officers, a legislature and a member of Congress, on the first
Monday of January, 1858. The President sent instructions to the
Territorial governor which secured a peaceable election. A larger
vote was polled than at any previous election. The party which had
previously refused to vote, now changed their tactics. They elected
a large majority of the members of the legislature, and the
political power of the proposed new State was therefore in their
hands. But for their previous factional resistance to the authority
of the Territorial government, they might have attained this result
at a much earlier period.

On the 30th of January, 1858, the President received the so-called
Lecompton constitution from the president of the convention, with a
request that it be laid before Congress. And here it is necessary to
pause, for the purpose of a just understanding of the grounds on
which the President recommended the admission of Kansas with this
constitution. He was assailed with almost every epithet of
vituperation of which our language admits, as if he was responsible
for and in favor of the pro-slavery feature of this constitution. A
simple and truthful consideration of his official duty under the
organic Act by which the Territory was organized, and a candid
recital of the reasons on which he urged the admission of the State
with this constitution, will enable my readers to determine with
what justice he was treated in this matter.

Mr. Buchanan was elected President upon a political “platform,”
adopted by the Cincinnati Convention, which nominated him, and
which, like all the platforms of that period, dealt, among other
things, with the vexed subject of slavery in Territories. But the
Cincinnati platform of the Democratic party did not affirm the right
of a Territorial legislature to establish or to prohibit slavery:
nor did it admit the doctrine of “popular sovereignty,” as applied
to a people while in the Territorial condition. What it did affirm
was, that at the period when the people of a Territory should be
forming and adopting a State constitution, they should be allowed to
sanction or exclude slavery as they should see fit. This distinction
has of course no interest at the present day. But in the condition
of the Union in the year 1856, this distinction was of great
practical importance. The political men who framed the Cincinnati
platform had to consider how they could present to the people of the
United States a principle of action on this exciting topic of
slavery in the Territories, that would be consistent with the rights
of slave-holding and non-slaveholding States in the common property
of the Union, and at the same time affirm as a party doctrine a
basis of proceeding that could be safely applied in any Territory
and that would maintain its true relation as a Territory to the
Government of the United States. If they were in pursuit of votes
for their candidate, it should also be remembered that they were
preparing for a great national party a set of political principles
that would live and be active for a long time to come. Mr. Douglas
had caused the Missouri Compromise to be swept away; he had procured
the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which had affirmed something
that was both new and strange in the politics of this difficult
subject. This was, that in creating the body politic known as a
Territory of the United States, Congress should neither legalize nor
prohibit slavery while the Territorial condition continued, but that
the same species of “popular sovereignty” should be held to be
inherent in the people of a Territory that is inherent in the people
of a State, so that they could act on the subject of slavery for
themselves from the time of their first entry into the Territory and
before they had been authorized to form themselves into a State. The
ad captandum phrase “popular sovereignty” procured for this theory
many adherents. But it was irreconcilable with what others asserted
to be the true relation of a Territory to the Congress of the United
States, and equally irreconcilable with the claim of the Southern
slaveholder to go into a Territory with his property in slaves and
to maintain there that property until the State constitution had
sanctioned or prohibited it. The framers of the Cincinnati platform
did not propose to elect a President on this basis. They therefore
did not affirm that a Territorial legislature, or the people of a
Territory, should be allowed to act on the subject of slavery in any
way; but they proclaimed as their doctrine that when the people of a
Territory, acting under the authority of an organic law, should
frame and adopt a State constitution, they should be at liberty to
make their State free or slave as they might see fit.

Before this period the Cincinnati platform was silent; and it was
silent because its framers did not see fit to trammel themselves or
their candidate with a doctrine of “popular sovereignty”
irreconcilable with the governing authority of Congress, and also
because in this matter of slavery there was a question of property
involved. When, therefore, Mr. Buchanan accepted the Cincinnati
platform, and was elected upon it, he went into the office of
President without being in any way committed to the doctrine of
“popular sovereignty,” as expounded by Mr. Douglas.

But the Kansas-Nebraska Act was both a bone of contention between
two portions of the Democratic party and a law of the land. As
President, Mr. Buchanan had only to construe and administer it. It
contained, as explanatory of the purpose of Congress in abolishing
the Missouri Compromise restriction, the following declaration: “It
being the true intent and meaning of this Act not to legislate
slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom,
but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate
their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the
Constitution of the United States.” This was in one respect
ambiguous, and in another not so. It was ambiguous in not clearly
defining the time at which this right to form their own domestic
institutions was to be considered as inhering in the people of a
Territory. It was unambiguous in subordinating the exercise of this
right to the Constitution of the United States. In carrying out the
law, the President had to consider what was the limitation imposed
by the Constitution of the United States upon the operation of this
newly created right. This brought before him the action of the
Supreme Court of the United States on the subject of slave property
in the Territories, which had occurred a few days after his

Whatever may be said of the action of the Supreme Court in the
well-known case of “Dred Scott,” in regard to its being technically
a judicial decision, there can be no doubt as to what a majority of
the judges meant to affirm and did affirm in their respective
opinions.[34] This was that property in slaves, being recognized as
a right of property by the Constitution of the United States,
although established only by the local law of a particular State,
travelled with the person of the owner into a Territory; and while
the Territorial condition continued, such property could not be
abolished by the legislation of Congress or the legislation of the
Territorial government. Mr. Buchanan always regarded this as a
judicial decision of this question of property; and as the
construction of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was by its express terms to
be determined by the court, he considered it his duty to regard the
period of time on which the people of Kansas were to decide the
question of slavery or no slavery to be at the formation and
adoption of a State constitution. This was the clear deduction to be
drawn from the constitutional doctrine which had been enunciated by
a majority of the judges.

Footnote 34:

  I have more than once publicly expressed my belief that there was,
  technically speaking, no judicial decision in that case. But
  others, among them President Buchanan, always regarded it as a

Hence it was that all his official influence was exerted, through
the Territorial government, to induce the people of Kansas to act on
the question of slavery at the proper time and in the only practical
way: namely, by voting for delegates to the convention called under
the authority of the Territorial laws, and then voting on the
constitution which that convention should frame. It certainly was no
wish of his to have Kansas become a slaveholding State; he could
have no motive in the whole matter but to get it decided what her
domestic condition was to be, by the ballot-box instead of the
rifle, by voting and not by fighting. He could, by no sort of
justice, be held responsible for the result which was produced by
the refusal of the anti-slavery party to vote; and when the
Lecompton constitution reached him, he could not avoid submitting it
to Congress. He submitted it with a strong recommendation that
Kansas be received into the Union under it. His reasons for this
recommendation are now to be stated.

1. The Lecompton constitution was republican in form, and it had
been framed and voted upon in a free and open ballot, which the
convention had directed to be taken on the all-important question of
slavery. 2. The question of slavery was thus localized, confined to
the people whom it immediately concerned, and banished from the
halls of Congress, where it had been always exerting a baneful
influence upon the country at large. 3. If Congress, for the sake of
those who had refused to exercise their power of excluding slavery
from the constitution of Kansas, should now reject it because
slavery remained in it, the agitation would be renewed everywhere in
a more alarming form than it had yet assumed. 4. After the admission
of the State, its people would be sovereign over this and every
other domestic question; they could mould their institutions as they
should see fit, and if, as the President had every reason to
believe, a majority of the people were opposed to slavery, the
legislature already elected under this constitution could at once
provide for amending it in the proper manner. 5. If this
constitution should be sent back by Congress because it sanctioned
slavery, a second constitution would have to be framed and sent to
Congress, and there would be a revival of the slavery agitation,
both in Congress and throughout the Union. 6. The speedy admission
of Kansas, which would restore peace and harmony to the whole
country, was of infinitely greater consequence than the small
difference of time that would be required for the people to exercise
their own sovereign power over the whole subject after they had
become a State, compared with the process of a new convention to be
held under the auspices of the Territorial government.[35]

Footnote 35:

  See the President’s message of February 28, 1858, submitting the
  Lecompton constitution. In describing the President’s views on
  this subject I have not only relied upon his messages and other
  official papers, but I have drawn them also from an elaborate
  private paper in his hand-writing, which is of too great length to
  be inserted textually in this work. It relates to the construction
  of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a construction which he felt bound to
  adopt in consequence of the views taken of the subject of slavery
  in Territories by the Supreme Court, as he said in his inaugural
  address that he should do. In this MS., he speaks of “The infamous
  and unfounded assertion of Mr. ——, that in a conversation with
  Chief Justice Taney, he [the Chief Justice] had informed him in
  advance of the inaugural what the opinion [of the court] would

“This message,” says Mr. Buchanan, “gave rise to a long, exciting,
and occasionally violent debate in both Houses of Congress, between
the anti-slavery members and their opponents, which lasted for three
months. In the course of it, slavery was denounced in every form
which could exasperate the Southern people, and render it odious to
the people of the North; whilst on the other hand, many of the
speeches of Southern members displayed characteristic violence. Thus
two sessions of Congress in succession had been in a great degree
occupied with the same inflammatory topics, in discussing the
affairs of Kansas.”[36] At length, however, an Act which had been
reported by a committee of conference of both Houses, admitting
Kansas into the Union as a State under the Lecompton constitution,
was passed in the Senate by a vote of 31 to 22, and in the House by
a vote of 112 to 103, and was signed by the President on the 4th of
May, 1858.[37] The validity of the proceedings in Kansas which had
produced the Lecompton constitution was expressly admitted by the
preamble of this statute.

Footnote 36:

  Buchanan’s Defence, p. 45.

Footnote 37:

  II U. S. Laws, p. 269. In the Senate, Mr. Douglas voted with the
  minority, as did a few anti-Lecompton Democrats in the House.
  [_Congressional Globe_, 1857-8, pp. 1899, 1905.] The Act was
  carried by a party vote.

But the Act annexed a condition precedent to the final admission of
the State under this constitution. This related, not to slavery, but
to the public lands within the territory. The ordinance of the
convention which accompanied the Lecompton constitution demanded for
the State a cession of the public lands more than six times the
quantity that had ever been granted to any other State, when
received into the Union. Congress would not assent to such an
exaction. It was therefore provided that the people of the State
should vote upon a proposition reducing the number of acres to be
ceded to the same number that had been granted to other States; and
that when this proposition should have been ascertained by the
President’s proclamation to have been accepted, the admission of the
State, upon an equal footing with all the other States, should be
complete and absolute. But the condition was never fulfilled. The
people of Kansas rejected it on the 2d of August, 1858, and the
Lecompton constitution thus fell to the ground. “Notwithstanding
this,” Mr. Buchanan observes, “the recognition by Congress of the
regularity of the proceedings in forming the Lecompton constitution,
did much good, at least for a season. It diverted the attention of
the people from fighting to voting, a most salutary change.”[38]

Footnote 38:

  Buchanan’s Defence, p. 46.

In his next annual message, of December 6, 1858, the President said:

  When we compare the condition of the country at the present day
  with what it was one year ago, at the meeting of Congress, we have
  much reason for gratitude to that Almighty Providence which has
  never failed to interpose for our relief at the most critical
  periods of our history. One year ago the sectional strife between
  the North and the South on the dangerous subject of slavery had
  again become so intense as to threaten the peace and perpetuity of
  the confederacy. The application for the admission of Kansas as a
  State into the Union fostered this unhappy agitation, and brought
  the whole subject once more before Congress. It was the desire of
  every patriot that such measures of legislation might be adopted
  as would remove the excitement from the States and confine it to
  the Territory where it legitimately belonged. Much has been done,
  I am happy to say, towards the accomplishment of this object
  during the last session of Congress.

  The Supreme Court of the United States had previously decided that
  all American citizens have an equal right to take into the
  Territories whatever is held as property under the laws of any of
  the States, and to hold such property there under the guardianship
  of the Federal Constitution, so long as the Territorial condition
  shall remain. This is now a well-established position, and the
  proceedings of the last session were alone wanting to give it
  practical effect.

  The principle has been recognized, in some form or other, by an
  almost unanimous vote of both Houses of Congress, that a Territory
  has a right to come into the Union either as a free or a slave
  State, according to the will of a majority of its people. The just
  equality of all the States has thus been vindicated, and a
  fruitful source of dangerous dissension among them has been

  While such has been the beneficial tendency of your legislative
  proceedings outside of Kansas, their influence has nowhere been so
  happy as within that Territory itself. Left to manage and control
  its own affairs in its own way, without the pressure of external
  influence, the revolutionary Topeka organization, and all
  resistance to the Territorial government established by Congress,
  have been finally abandoned. As a natural consequence, that fine
  Territory now appears to be tranquil and prosperous, and is
  attracting increasing thousands of immigrants to make it their
  happy home.

  The past unfortunate experience of Kansas has enforced the lesson,
  so often already taught, that resistance to lawful authority,
  under our form of government, cannot fail in the end to prove
  disastrous to its authors.

The people of Kansas, from this time forward, “left to manage their
own affairs in their own way, without the presence of external
influence,” found that they could decide this question of slavery by
their own votes, and that the stimulus and the materials for
fighting, which had been supplied to them from the Northern or the
Southern States, were poor means in comparison with the ballot-box.
The anti-slavery party were numerically the strongest; and having
now given up all factious resistance to the Territorial government,
they were able, under its auspices, to establish a free
constitution, under which the State was admitted into the Union on
the 29th of January, 1861. But the effect of this struggle,
precipitated by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and carried
on for a period of seven years, was most disastrous to the peace and
harmony of the Union. It fixed the attention of both sections of the
Union upon a subject of the most inflammatory nature. On the one
hand, the Democratic party, which extended throughout all the
States, slaveholding and non-slaveholding, and which had elected Mr.
Buchanan by the votes of both free and slave States, no longer had a
common bond of party union in a common principle of action on the
question of slavery in Territories. A portion of the party, under
the lead of Mr. Douglas, and known as “the Northern Democracy,”
rejected the doctrine enunciated by the Judges of the Supreme Court,
and still adhered to their principle of “popular sovereignty.” The
residue of the party, calling themselves “the Old Democracy,”
adhered to what they regarded as the decision of the court,
maintained that the time for the people of a Territory to act on the
subject of slavery was when forming and adopting a State
constitution, and that in the previous period, the equal right of
all the States in the common property of the Union could be
respected only by confining the power of the people of a Territory
to the time of adopting a constitution. On the other hand, the new
party, to which these events had given birth, and into which were
now consolidating all the elements of the anti-slavery feeling of
the free States, rejected entirely the principle enunciated by a
majority of the Supreme Court, maintained that the Southern
slave-holder could have no right to hold as property in a Territory
that which was property at all only under the local law of a
slave-holding State, and proclaimed that Congress must, by positive
statute, annul any such supposed right in regard to all existing and
all future Territories. If these conflicting sectional feelings and
interests could have been confined to the practical question of what
was to be done in the Territories before they should become States,
there might have been less danger resulting from their agitation. In
the nature of things, however, they could not be so confined. They
brought into renewed discussion the whole subject of slavery
everywhere, until the North and the South became involved in a
struggle for the Presidency that was made to turn almost exclusively
upon this one topic. But how this came about, and how it resulted in
an attempted disruption of the Union, must be related hereafter.

                               CHAPTER X.


The internal affairs of the country during the administration of Mr.
Buchanan occupied so much of the public attention at the time, and
have since been a subject of so much interest, that his management
of our foreign relations has been quite obscured. Before I approach
the troubled period which witnessed the beginning of the Southern
revolt, I shall describe, with as much brevity as I can use,
whatever is most important in the relations of the United States
with other countries, that transpired during his Presidency.

It will be seen, hereafter, from what he recorded in his private
papers at the time of the resignation of General Cass from the State
Department, in the latter part of the year 1860, that Mr. Buchanan
had to be virtually his own Secretary of State, until Judge Black
succeeded to that office. This was less irksome to him than it might
have been to other Presidents, because of his great familiarity with
the diplomatic history of the country, and his experience in the
diplomatic service. His strong personal regard for General Cass,
whose high character, as well as his political standing in the party
of which they were both members, and the demand of the Western
States, had been the reasons for offering to him the Department of
State, made Mr. Buchanan patient and kind towards one who did not
render him much aid in the business of that office. Mr. Buchanan,
too, was a man who never shrank from labor. His industry was
incessant and untiring; it did not flag with his advancing years;
and it was an industry applied, in foreign affairs, to matters of
which he had a fuller and more intimate knowledge than any American
statesman of his time who was living when he became President of the
United States. His private papers bear ample testimony to the minute
and constant attention which he gave to the foreign relations of the
country, and to the extent of his employment of his own pen. He
wrote with great facility, precision and clearness, from a mind
stored with historical information and the principles of public law.
There was no topic and no question in the foreign relations of the
United States on which his knowledge did not come readily and
promptly to his hand. In this respect, with the exception of Mr.
Jefferson and Mr. John Quincy Adams, we have as yet had no President
who was his superior, or his equal. Like them, he had passed through
the office of Secretary of State, as well as through very important
foreign missions; an advantage which always tells in the office of
President, when it is combined with the qualifications that are
peculiar to American statesmanship.

First in importance, if not in dignity, the relations of the United
States with England, at any period of our history, and the mode in
which they were handled, are topics of permanent interest. How often
these two kindred nations have been on the verge of war, and how
that peril has been encountered and averted cannot cease to be
instructive. Nor is it of less consequence to note the course of a
President, who, during an administration fraught with the most
serious hazards to the internal relations of the United States with
each other, kept steadily in view the preservation of peace and good
will between the United States and Great Britain, while he abated
nothing from our just claims or our national dignity. Mr. Buchanan
left to his successor no unsettled question between these two
nations, that was of any immediate importance, and he left the
feeling between them and their respective governments in a far
better condition than he found it on his accession to the
Presidency, and in a totally different state from that which ensued
after the beginning of our civil war.

But when he became President, two irritating and dangerous questions
were pending, inherited from former administrations. The first of
these related, as we have seen, to the British claim of a
protectorate over the Mosquito coast, and to the establishment of
colonial government over the Bay Islands; territories that belonged
respectively to the feeble republics of Nicaragua and Honduras. It
has been seen in a former chapter how the ambiguity of the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty had led the British government to adopt a
construction of it which would support these claims, and which would
justify the pretension that by that treaty the United States had
receded from what was called the “Monroe Doctrine.” This treaty,
concluded in 1850 by the administration of General Taylor, was
supposed in this country to have settled these questions in favor of
the United States, and that Great Britain would withdraw from the
territories of Nicaragua and Honduras. But she did not withdraw. Her
ministers continued to claim that the treaty only restrained her
from making future acquisitions in Central America, and that the
true inference from this was that she could hold her existing
possessions. It was, as has been seen, in the hope of settling this
question, that Mr. Buchanan accepted the mission to England in 1853.
Why it was not settled at that time, has been already stated in
detail. It remained to be amicably and honorably settled, under his
advice and approbation, after he became President, by treaties
between Great Britain and the two Central American States, in
accordance with the American construction of the Clayton-Bulwer

The long standing question in regard to the right of search came
into the hands of President Buchanan at a moment and under
circumstances that required the most vigorous action. The
belligerent right of search, exercised by Great Britain in the
maritime wars of 1812, had been a cause of constant irritation to
the people of this country. In progress of time, England undertook
to assert a right to detain and search merchantmen on the high seas,
in time of peace, suspected of being engaged in the slave trade.
There was no analogy, even, in this to the belligerent right of
visitation and search, whatever the latter might comprehend. An
accommodation, rather than a settlement, of this claim was made in
the treaty of 1842, negotiated between Lord Ashburton and Mr.
Webster, by which each nation agreed to keep a squadron of its own
on the coast of Africa, for the suppression of the slave trade when
carried on under their respective flags, or under any claim or use
of their flags, or by their subjects or citizens respectively.
Although this stipulation was accompanied by a very forcible
declaration made by Mr. Webster, under the direction of President
Tyler, that the American Government admitted of no right of
visitation and search of merchant vessels in time of peace, England
did not wholly abandon or renounce her claim of a right to detain
and search all vessels on the high seas which the commanders of her
cruisers might suspect to be slave traders. In the spring of 1858, a
number of small cruisers which had been employed in the Crimean war
was despatched by the British government to the coast of Cuba and
the Gulf of Mexico, with orders to search all merchantmen suspected
to be engaged in the slave trade. The presence of these cruisers,
acting under such orders, in waters traversed in all directions by
American vessels engaged in the foreign and coastwise trade, became
most alarming. Nor was the alarm lessened by the manner in which the
orders were carried out. Many American vessels were stopped and
searched rudely and offensively. A loud call was made upon the
President to interfere. A general indignation broke forth in all
quarters of the Union. President Buchanan, always vigilant in
protecting the commerce of the country, but mindful of the
importance of preventing any necessity for war, remonstrated to the
English government against this violation of the freedom of the

Still, the occasion required, in the opinion of the President, that
remonstrance should be backed by force. Great Britain had thought
proper, without warning, to send a force into waters filled with
American commerce, with orders to do what she had not the smallest
right to do. It was a very aggressive proceeding to be taken against
the commerce of a nation that had always denied the alleged right of
search as a right to be exercised in time of peace for any purpose
whatever. A very large naval force was at once despatched to the
neighborhood of Cuba, by order of the President, with instructions
“to protect all vessels of the United States on the high seas from
search or detention by the vessels of war of any other nation.” Any
one of the cruisers sent on this mission could have resisted a ship
of the largest class. The effect was most salutary. The British
government receded, recalled their orders, abandoned the claim of
the right of search, and recognized the principle of international
law in favor of the freedom of the seas. This was the end of a long
controversy between the two governments.[39]

Footnote 39:

  The Senate, although at a late period, unanimously approved of the
  instructions given to the Secretary of the Navy, and by him
  carried out. (See _Congressional Globe_, 1858-9, p. 3061; Senate
  Documents, vol. IV, p. 3, Report of the Secretary of the Navy.)

During the whole of Mr. Buchanan’s administration our relations with
Mexico were in a complicated and critical position, in consequence
of the internal condition of that country and of the danger of
interference by European powers. Mr. Buchanan has himself concisely
and accurately described the state of things in Mexico at the time
of his accession to the Presidency, and down to the end of the year
1859, and I therefore quote his description, rather than make one of
my own:

  That republic has been in a state of constant revolution ever
  since it achieved its independence from Spain. The various
  constitutions adopted from time to time had been set at naught
  almost as soon as proclaimed; and one military leader after
  another, in rapid succession, had usurped the government. This
  fine country, blessed with a benign climate, a fertile soil, and
  vast mineral resources, was reduced by civil war and brigandage to
  a condition of almost hopeless anarchy. Meanwhile, our treaties
  with the republic were incessantly violated. Our citizens were
  imprisoned, expelled from the country, and in some instances
  murdered. Their vessels, merchandise, and other property were
  seized and confiscated. While the central government at the
  capital were acting in this manner, such was the general
  lawlessness prevailing, that different parties claiming and
  exercising local authority in several districts were committing
  similar outrages on our citizens. Our treaties had become a dead
  letter, and our commerce with the republic was almost entirely
  destroyed. The claims of American citizens filed in the State
  Department, for which they asked the interposition of their own
  Government with that of Mexico to obtain redress and indemnity,
  exceeded $10,000,000. Although this amount may have been
  exaggerated by the claimants, still their actual losses must have
  been very large.[40]

Footnote 40:

    List of Claims, Senate Executive Documents, p. 18, 2d session
    35th Congress, President’s Message.

  In all these cases as they occurred our successive ministers
  demanded redress, but their demands were only followed by new
  injuries. Their testimony was uniform and emphatic in reference to
  the only remedy which in their judgments would prove effectual.
  “Nothing but a manifestation of the power of the Government of the
  United States,” wrote Mr. John Forsyth, our minister in 1856, “and
  of its purpose to punish these wrongs will avail. I assure you
  that the universal belief here is, that there is nothing to be
  apprehended from the Government of the United States, and that
  local Mexican officials can commit these outrages upon American
  citizens with absolute impunity.”

  In the year 1857 a favorable change occurred in the affairs of the
  republic, inspiring better hopes for the future. A constituent
  congress, elected by the people of the different States for this
  purpose, had framed and adopted a republican constitution. It
  adjourned on the 17th February, 1857, having provided for a
  popular election to be held in July for a president and members of
  congress. At this election General Comonfort was chosen president
  almost without opposition. His term of office was to commence on
  the 1st of December, 1857, and to continue for four years. In case
  his office should become vacant, the constitution had provided
  that the chief justice of Mexico, then General Juarez, should
  become president, until the end of the term. On the 1st December,
  1857, General Comonfort appeared before the congress then in
  session, took the oath to support the constitution, and was duly

  But the hopes thus inspired for the establishment of a regular
  constitutional government soon proved delusive. President
  Comonfort, within one brief month, was driven from the capital and
  the republic by a military rebellion headed by General Zuloaga;
  and General Juarez consequently became the constitutional
  president of Mexico until the 1st day of December, 1861. General
  Zuloaga instantly assumed the name of president with indefinite
  powers; and the entire diplomatic corps, including the minister
  from the United States, made haste to recognize the authority of
  the usurper without awaiting instructions from their respective
  governments. But Zuloaga was speedily expelled from power. Having
  encountered the resistance of the people in many parts of the
  republic, and a large portion of the capital having “pronounced”
  against him, he was in turn compelled to relinquish the
  presidency. The field was now cleared for the elevation of General
  Miramon. He had from the beginning been the favorite of the
  so-called “Church party,” and was ready to become their willing
  instrument in maintaining the vast estates and prerogatives of the
  Church, and in suppressing the Liberal constitution. An assembly
  of his partisans, called together without even the semblance of
  authority, elected him president, but he warily refused to accept
  the office at their hands. He then resorted to another but
  scarcely more plausible expedient to place himself in power. This
  was to identify himself with General Zuloaga, who had just been
  deposed, and to bring him again upon the stage as president.
  Zuloaga accordingly reappeared in this character, but his only act
  was to appoint Miramon “president substitute,” when he again
  retired. It is under this title that Miramon has since exercised
  military authority in the city of Mexico, expecting by this
  stratagem to appropriate to himself the recognition of the foreign
  ministers which had been granted to Zuloaga. He succeeded. The
  ministers continued their relations with him as “president
  substitute” in the same manner as if Zuloaga had still remained in
  power. It was by this farce, for it deserves no better name, that
  Miramon succeeded in grasping the presidency. The idea that the
  chief of a nation at his own discretion may transfer to whomsoever
  he please the trust of governing, delegated to him for the benefit
  of the people, is too absurd to receive a moment’s countenance.
  But when we reflect that Zuloaga, from whom Miramon derived his
  title, was himself a military usurper, having expelled the
  constitutional president (Comonfort) from office, it would have
  been a lasting disgrace to the Mexican people had they tamely
  submitted to the yoke. To such an imputation a large majority
  proved themselves not to be justly exposed. Although, on former
  occasions, a seizure of the capital and the usurpation of power by
  a military chieftain had been generally followed, at least for a
  brief season, by an acquiescence of the Mexican people, yet they
  now rose boldly and independently to defend their rights.

  President Juarez, after having been driven from the city of Mexico
  by Zuloaga, proceeded to form a constitutional government at
  Guanajuato. From thence he removed to Vera Cruz, where he put his
  administration in successful operation. The people in many
  portions of the republic rallied in its support and flew to arms.
  A civil war thus began between the friends of the constitution and
  the partisans of Miramon. In this conflict it was not possible for
  the American people to remain indifferent spectators. They
  naturally favored the cause of President Juarez, and expressed
  ardent wishes for his success. Meanwhile Mr. Forsyth, the American
  minister, still continued at the city of Mexico in the discharge
  of his official duties until June, 1858, when he suspended his
  diplomatic relations with the Miramon government, until he should
  ascertain the decision of the President. Its outrages towards
  American citizens and its personal indignities towards himself,
  without hope of amendment or redress, rendered his condition no
  longer tolerable. Our relations, bad as they had been under former
  governments, had now become still worse under that of Miramon.
  President Buchanan approved the step which Mr. Forsyth had taken.
  He was consequently directed to demand his passports, to deposit
  the archives of the legation with Mr. Black, our consul at the
  city of Mexico, and to proceed to Vera Cruz, where an armed
  steamer would be in readiness to convey himself and family to the
  United States.[41]

Footnote 41:

    Letter of General Cass to Mr. Forsyth, July 15th, 1858. Senate
    Documents, 1858-1859, vol. i., p. 48

  Thus was all diplomatic intercourse finally terminated with the
  government of Miramon, whilst none had been organized with that of
  Juarez. The President entertained some hope that this rupture of
  diplomatic relations might cause Miramon to reflect seriously on
  the danger of war with the United States, and might at least
  arrest future outrages on our citizens. Instead of this, however,
  he persisted in his course of violence against the few American
  citizens who had the courage to remain under his power. The
  President, in his message of December, 1859,[42] informs Congress
  that “murders of a still more atrocious character have been
  committed in the very heart of Mexico, under the authority of
  Miramon’s government, during the present year. Some of these were
  worthy only of a barbarous age, and if they had not been clearly
  proven, would have seemed impossible in a country which claims to
  be civilized.” And in that of December, 1860, he says: “To cap the
  climax, after the battle of Tacubaya, in April, 1859, General
  Marquez ordered three citizens of the United States, two of them
  physicians, to be seized in the hospital at that place, taken out
  and shot, without crime, and without trial. This was done,
  notwithstanding our unfortunate countrymen were at the moment
  engaged in the holy cause of affording relief to the soldiers of
  both parties who had been wounded in the battle, without making
  any distinction between them.”

Footnote 42:

    House Journal, p. 207.

  “Little less shocking was the recent fate of Ormond Chase, who was
  shot in Tepic, on the 7th August, by order of the same Mexican
  general, not only without a trial, but without any conjecture by
  his friends of the cause of his arrest.” He was represented to
  have been a young man of good character and intelligence, who had
  made numerous friends in Tepic, and his unexpected execution
  shocked the whole community. “Other outrages,” the President
  states, “might be enumerated; but these are sufficient to
  illustrate the wretched state of the country and the unprotected
  condition of the persons and property of our citizens in Mexico.”

  “The wrongs which we have suffered from Mexico are before the
  world, and must deeply impress every American citizen. A
  government which is either unable or unwilling to redress such
  wrongs, is derelict to its highest duties.”

  Meanwhile, the civil war between the parties was conducted with
  various success, but the scale preponderated in favor of the
  constitutional cause. Ere long the government of Juarez extended
  its authority, and was acknowledged in all the important ports and
  throughout the sea-coasts and external territory of the republic;
  whilst the power of Miramon was confined to the city of Mexico and
  the surrounding States.

  The final triumph of Juarez became so probable, that President
  Buchanan deemed it his duty to inquire and ascertain whether,
  according to our constant usage in such cases, he might not
  recognize the constitutional government. For the purpose of
  obtaining reliable information on this point, he sent a
  confidential agent to Mexico to examine and report the actual
  condition and prospects of the belligerents. In consequence of his
  report, as well as of intelligence from other sources, he felt
  justified in appointing a new minister to the Mexican republic.
  For this office Mr. Robert M. McLane, a distinguished citizen of
  Maryland, was selected. He proceeded on his mission on the 8th
  March, 1859, invested “with discretionary authority to recognize
  the government of President Juarez, if on his arrival in Mexico he
  should find it entitled to such recognition, according to the
  established practice of the United States.” In consequence, on the
  7th of April, Mr. McLane recognized the constitutional government
  by presenting his credentials to President Juarez, having no
  hesitation, as he said, “in pronouncing the government of Juarez
  to be the only existing government of the republic.” He was
  cordially received by the authorities at Vera Cruz, who have ever
  since manifested the most friendly disposition toward the United

  Unhappily, however, the constitutional government, though
  supported by a large majority, both of the people and of the
  several Mexican States, had not been able to expel Miramon from
  the capital. In the opinion of the President, it had now become
  the imperative duty of Congress to act without further delay, and
  to enforce redress from the government of Miramon for the wrongs
  it had committed in violation of the faith of treaties against
  citizens of the United States.

  Toward no other government would we have manifested so long and so
  patient a forbearance. This arose from our warm sympathies for a
  neighboring republic. The territory under the sway of Miramon
  around the capital was not accessible to our forces without
  passing through the States under the jurisdiction of the
  constitutional government. But this from the beginning had aways
  manifested the warmest desire to cultivate the most friendly
  relations with our country. No doubt was therefore entertained
  that it would cheerfully grant us the right of passage. Moreover,
  it well knew that the expulsion of Miramon would result in the
  triumph of the constitutional government and its establishment
  over the whole territory of Mexico. What was, also, deemed of
  great importance by the President, this would remove from us the
  danger of a foreign war in support of the Monroe doctrine against
  any European nation which might be tempted, by the distracted
  condition of the republic, to interfere forcibly in its internal
  affairs under the pretext of restoring peace and order.[43]

Footnote 43:

  Buchanan’s Defence, p. 267 _et seq._

It is now necessary to trace the President’s policy in regard to
these Mexican affairs, for the remainder of his term after the
commencement of the session of Congress in December, 1859. He saw
very clearly that unless active measures should be taken by the
Government of the United States to reach a power with which a
settlement of all claims and difficulties could be effected, some
other nation would undertake to establish a government in Mexico,
and the United States would then have to interfere, not only to
secure the rights of their citizens, but to assert the principle of
the “Monroe Doctrine,” which, according to the long standing
American claim, opposes European establishments upon any part of
this continent. He had his eye especially at this time upon the
Emperor of the French, whose colonizing policy for France was well
known, and who, Mr. Buchanan was well informed, was exercising,
through his minister, great influence over Miramon. It was morally
certain that if our Congress did not give the President the means
necessary either to uphold the constitutional government of Juarez,
or to compel the government of Miramon to do justice to our
citizens, he would be involved in the necessity for counteracting
the designs of Louis Napoleon. If this would be an interference with
the internal affairs of a foreign nation, contrary to our long
avowed policy, was not this an exceptional case? Mexico was our
neighbor, with whom our social, commercial and political relations
were very close. She had no settled government. Without the friendly
aid of some external power, she could have no government that could
preserve her internal peace, or fulfill her treaty obligations. She
was, as Mr. Buchanan forcibly said, “a wreck upon the ocean,
drifting about as she is impelled by different factions.” What power
could more safely and appropriately undertake to assist her in
establishing a settled government than the great neighboring
Republic of the United States, whose people and rulers could have no
desire to see her depart from the principles of constitutional and
republican institutions? And if the United States had wrongs of
their own citizens for which to seek redress and indemnification
from the Mexican nation, was that a reason for refusing to do
whatever might appropriately be done towards assisting any
government which the Mexican people might be disposed to support and
acknowledge, to acquire the position and authority of a legitimate
representative of the nation? It seemed to President Buchanan that
there were but two alternatives: either to march a force into Mexico
which would be sufficient to enable the constitutional government to
reach the capital and extend its power over the whole republic, or
to let things drift in uncertainty until Louis Napoleon should
interfere. If the United States would act in concert with the
constitutional government, the President believed that their consent
and co-operation could be obtained. If the United States did
nothing, the French would enter the country and the whole condition
of affairs would become more complicated than they had ever been.

Accordingly, the President, in his message to Congress, of December
19th, 1859, recommended the passage of a law, authorizing him, under
such conditions as Congress might deem expedient, to employ a
sufficient military force to enter Mexico for the purpose of
obtaining indemnity for the past and security for the future. After
explaining the necessity and expediency of this step, and pointing
out in what manner this force could aid the constitutional
government of Juarez, he said that if this were not done, “it would
not be surprising should some other nation undertake the task, and
thus force us to interfere at last, under circumstances of increased
difficulty, for the maintenance of our established policy.” The
entire session of 1859-60 passed away without any notice being taken
in Congress of this recommendation. The attention of that body was
absorbed in discussions about slavery, and in shaping the politics
of the next Presidential election. If the President’s recommendation
about Mexico had been discussed, we might have been able to judge
whether his political opponents were fearful that more territory
would be acquired from Mexico, for the further extension of slavery.
But in regard to any such result of the mode in which the President
proposed to secure an indemnification of the claims of our citizens,
it is to be observed that according to the terms of his
recommendation, it would rest entirely with Congress to fix the
preceding conditions of the intervention, and that if a treaty were
to follow or precede, it would have to be ratified by the Senate.

The President again brought this subject before Congress by his
annual message of December, 1860. Mr. Lincoln had now been elected
President and the foreign relations of the country would in three
months be in his hands. At this time, however, it had become still
more necessary for the United States Government to determine, and to
determine promptly, whether it would leave American citizens to the
mercy of Miramon’s government, or whether it would do something to
establish the constitutional government of Juarez. Again the
President repeated the warning that foreign powers would interfere
if this matter were to be much longer neglected, although at that
moment informal and verbal assurances had been given by some of the
European diplomatists in Mexico that such interference was not
intended. Congress, however, spent the whole winter of 1860-61 in a
dreary discussion of our internal affairs, without either making any
effort to arrest the spread of secession by conciliatory measures,
or doing anything to strengthen the hands of the President or his

But it had been for some time apparent to Mr. Buchanan that our
relations with Mexico could not be left in the condition in which
they stood. Both to satisfy the long deferred claims of our
citizens, and to prevent foreign interference with the internal
affairs of Mexico, he had instructed Mr. McLane to make a treaty
with the Constitutional government. On the 14th of December, 1859, a
“Treaty of Transit and Commerce” was signed between the Mexican
Republic and the United States, and also a “Convention to enforce
treaty stipulations, and to maintain order and security in the
territory of the Republics of Mexico and the United States.” Great
advantages of trade, transit and commerce were secured by these
arrangements. The United States was to pay $4,000,000 for the
surrender of certain Mexican duties, two millions to be paid down,
and two millions to be reserved and distributed to the American
claimants who could prove their injuries. With the two millions to
be placed in the hands of the constitutional government, it was
expected that it would be able to expel the usurping government from
the capital and establish itself over the whole territory of the
republic. All acquisition of further Mexican territory was thus
avoided. If this treaty had been approved by the Senate of the
United States, the empire of Maximilian would never have been heard
of. The American negotiator, Mr. McLane, in his despatch to the
Secretary of State, dated on the day this treaty and convention were
signed at Vera Cruz, expressed his apprehension that if they were
not ratified, further anarchy would prevail in Mexico, until it
should be ended by interference from some other quarter. The
President submitted the treaty and the convention to the Senate on
the 24th of January, 1860. They were neither of them approved.
Mexico was left to the interference of Louis Napoleon; the
establishment of an empire, under Maximilian, a prince of the House
of Hapsburg, followed, for the embarrassment of President Lincoln’s
administration while we were in the throes of our civil war, and the
claims of American citizens were to all appearance indefinitely

The relations of the United States with Spain at the commencement of
Mr. Buchanan’s administration, and the manner in which he dealt with
them, have been described by him as follows:

  Our relations with Spain were in a very unsatisfactory condition
  on his accession to power. Our flag had been insulted, and
  numerous injuries had been inflicted on the persons and property
  of American citizens by Spanish officials acting under the direct
  control of the Captain General of Cuba. These gave rise to many
  but unavailing reclamations for redress and indemnity against the
  Spanish government. Our successive ministers at Madrid had for
  years ably presented and enforced these claims, but all without
  effect. Their efforts were continually baffled on different
  pretexts. There was a class of these claims called the “Cuban
  claims,” of a nature so plainly just that they could not be
  gainsayed. In these more than one hundred of our citizens were
  directly interested. In 1844 duties were illegally exacted from
  their vessels at different custom houses in Cuba, and they
  appealed to the Government to have these duties refunded. Their
  amount could be easily ascertained by the Cuban officials
  themselves, who were in possession of all the necessary documents.
  The validity of these claims was eventually recognized by Spain,
  but not until after a delay of ten years. The amount due was
  fixed, according to her own statement, with which the claimants
  were satisfied, at the sum of $128,635.54. Just at the moment when
  the claimants were expecting to receive this amount without
  further delay, the Spanish government proposed to pay, not the
  whole, but only one-third of it, and this provided we should
  accept it in full satisfaction of the entire claim. They added
  that this offer was made, not in strict justice, but as a special

  Under these circumstances, the time had arrived when the President
  deemed it his duty to employ strong and vigorous remonstrances to
  bring all our claims against Spain to a satisfactory conclusion.
  In this he succeeded in a manner gratifying to himself, and it is
  believed to all the claimants, but unfortunately not to the Senate
  of the United States. A convention was concluded at Madrid on the
  5th March, 1860, establishing a joint commission for the final
  adjudication and payment of all the claims of the respective
  parties. By this the validity and amount of the Cuban claims were
  expressly admitted, and their speedy payment was placed beyond
  question. The convention was transmitted to the Senate for their
  constitutional action on the 3d May, 1860, but on the 27th June
  they determined, greatly to the surprise of the President, and the
  disappointment of the claimants, that they would “not advise and
  consent” to its ratification.

  The reason for this decision, because made in executive session,
  cannot be positively known. This, as stated and believed at the
  time, was because the convention had authorized the Spanish
  government to present its Amistad claim, like any other claim,
  before the Board of Commissioners for decision. This claim, it
  will be recollected, was for the payment to the Spanish owners of
  the value of certain slaves, for which the Spanish government held
  the United States to be responsible under the treaty with Spain of
  the 27th October, 1795. Such was the evidence in its favor, that
  three Presidents of the United States had recommended to Congress
  to make an appropriation for its payment, and a bill for this
  purpose had passed the Senate. The validity of the claim, it is
  proper to observe, was not recognized by the convention. In this
  respect it was placed on the same footing with all the other
  claims of the parties, with the exception of the Cuban claims. All
  the Spanish government obtained for it was simply a hearing before
  the Board, and this could not be denied with any show of
  impartiality. Besides, it is quite certain that no convention
  could have been concluded without such a provision.

  It was most probably the extreme views of the Senate at the time
  against slavery, and their reluctance to recognize it even so far
  as to permit a foreign claimant, although under the sanction of a
  treaty, to raise a question before the Board which might involve
  its existence, that caused the rejection of the convention. Under
  the impulse of such sentiments, the claims of our fellow-citizens
  have been postponed if not finally defeated. Indeed, the Cuban
  claimants, learning that the objections in the Senate arose from
  the Amistad claim, made a formal offer to remove the difficulty by
  deducting its amount from the sum due to them, but this of course
  could not be accepted.[44]

Footnote 44:

  Buchanan’s Defence, pp. 258-260; written and published in

The following account of an expedition which President Buchanan
found it necessary to send to Paraguay, is also taken from his
Defence of his Administration:

  The hostile attitude of the government of Paraguay toward the
  United States early commanded the attention of the President. That
  government had, upon frivolous and even insulting pretexts,
  refused to ratify the treaty of friendship, commerce and
  navigation, concluded with it on the 4th March, 1853, as amended
  by the Senate, though this only in mere matters of form. It had
  seized and appropriated the property of American citizens residing
  in Paraguay, in a violent and arbitrary manner; and finally, by
  order of President Lopez, it had fired upon the United States
  steamer Water Witch (1st February, 1855), under Commander Thomas
  J. Page of the navy, and killed the sailor at the helm, whilst she
  was peacefully employed in surveying the Parana river, to
  ascertain its fitness for steam navigation. The honor, as well as
  the interests of the country, demanded satisfaction.

  The President brought the subject to the notice of Congress in his
  first annual message (8th December, 1857). In this he informed
  them that he would make a demand for redress on the government of
  Paraguay, in a firm but conciliatory manner, but at the same time
  observed, that “this will the more probably be granted, if the
  Executive shall have authority to use other means in the event of
  a refusal. This is accordingly recommended.” Congress responded
  favorably to this recommendation. On the 2d June, 1858,[45] they
  passed a joint resolution authorizing the President “to adopt such
  measures, and use such force as, in his judgment, may be necessary
  and advisable, in the event of a refusal of just satisfaction by
  the government of Paraguay, in connection with the attack on the
  United States steamer Water Witch, and with other matters referred
  to in the annual message.”[46] They also made an appropriation to
  defray the expenses of a commissioner to Paraguay, should he deem
  it proper to appoint one, “for the adjustment of difficulties”
  with that republic.

Footnote 45:

    U. S. Statutes at Large, vol. xi, p. 370.

Footnote 46:

    U. S. Statutes at Large, vol. xi, p. 319.

  Paraguay is situated far in the interior of South America, and its
  capital, the city of Asuncion, on the left bank of the river
  Paraguay, is more than a thousand miles from the mouth of the La

  The stern policy of Dr. Francia, formerly the Dictator of
  Paraguay, had been to exclude all the rest of the world from his
  dominions, and in this he had succeeded by the most severe and
  arbitrary measures. His successor, President Lopez, found it
  necessary, in some degree, to relax this jealous policy; but,
  animated by the same spirit, he imposed harsh restrictions in
  his intercourse with foreigners. Protected by his remote and
  secluded position, he but little apprehended that a navy from
  our far distant country could ascend the La Plata, the Parana,
  and the Paraguay, and reach his capital. This was doubtless the
  reason why he had ventured to place us at defiance. Under these
  circumstances, the President deemed it advisable to send with
  our commissioner to Paraguay, Hon. James B. Bowlin, a naval
  force sufficient to exact justice should negotiation fail.[47]
  This consisted of nineteen armed vessels, great and small,
  carrying two hundred guns and twenty-five hundred sailors and
  marines, all under the command of the veteran and gallant
  Shubrick. Soon after the arrival of the expedition at
  Montevideo, Commissioner Bowlin and Commodore Shubrick proceeded
  (30th December, 1858) to ascend the rivers to Asuncion in the
  steamer Fulton, accompanied by the Water Witch. Meanwhile the
  remaining vessels rendezvoused in the Parana, near Rosario, a
  position from which they could act promptly, in case of need.

Footnote 47:

    Message, 19th Dec. 1859.

  The commissioner arrived at Asuncion on the 25th January, 1859,
  and left it on the 10th February. Within this brief period he had
  ably and successfully accomplished all the objects of his mission.
  In addition to ample apologies, he obtained from President Lopez
  the payment of $10,000 for the family of the seaman (Chaney) who
  had been killed in the attack on the Water Witch, and also
  concluded satisfactory treaties of indemnity and of navigation and
  commerce with the Paraguayan government.[48] Thus the President
  was enabled to announce to Congress, in his annual message
  (December, 1859), that “all our difficulties with Paraguay had
  been satisfactorily adjusted.”

Footnote 48:

    United States Pamphlet Laws, 1859-60, p. 119, appendix.

  Even in this brief summary it would be unjust to withhold from
  Secretary Toucey a commendation for the economy and efficiency he
  displayed in fitting out this expedition.[49] It is a remarkable
  fact in our history, that its entire expenses were defrayed out of
  the ordinary appropriations for the naval service. Not a dollar
  was appropriated by Congress for this purpose, unless we may
  except the sum of $289,000 for the purchase of seven small
  steamers of light draft, worth more than their cost, and which
  were afterwards usefully employed in the ordinary naval service.

Footnote 49:

    Report of Secretary Toucey, 2d Dec., 1859; Sen. Doc., 1859-60,
    vol. iii, p. 1137.

  It may be remarked that the President, in his message already
  referred to, justly observes, “that the appearance of so large a
  force, fitted out in such a prompt manner, in the far distant
  waters of the La Plata, and the admirable conduct of the officers
  and men employed in it, have had a happy effect in favor of our
  country throughout all that remote portion of the world.”

The relations between the United States and China had been governed
for twelve years by the treaty made in 1844, by Mr. Caleb Cushing,
under the instructions of Mr. Webster as Secretary of State. This
treaty had provided for its own amendment at the expiration of
twelve years from its date, and it devolved on Mr. Buchanan’s
administration to institute the negotiations for this purpose, His
own account of these negotiations, although greatly condensed, is
all that need be here given:

  The same success attended our negotiations with China.[50] The
  treaty of July, 1844, with that empire, had provided for its own
  revision and amendment at the expiration of twelve years from its
  date, should experience render this necessary. Changes in its
  provisions had now become indispensable for the security and
  extension of our commerce. Besides, our merchants had just claims
  against the Chinese government, for injuries sustained in
  violation of the treaty. To effect these changes, and to obtain
  indemnity for these injuries, the Hon. William B. Reed was sent as
  minister to China. His position proved to be one of great
  delicacy. England and France were engaged in war against China,
  and urged the United States to become a party to it. They alleged
  that it had been undertaken to accomplish objects in which we had
  a common interest with themselves. This was the fact; but the
  President did not believe that our grievances, although serious,
  would justify a resort to hostilities. Whilst Mr. Reed was,
  therefore, directed to preserve a strict neutrality between the
  belligerents, he was instructed to coöperate cordially with the
  ministers of England and France in all peaceful measures to secure
  by treaty those just concessions to commerce which the civilized
  nations of the world had a right to expect from China. The Russian
  government, also, pursued the same line of policy.

Footnote 50:

    Message, 8th December, 1857, p. 14.

  The difficulty, then, was to obtain for our country, whilst
  remaining at peace, the same commercial advantages which England
  and France might acquire by war. This task our minister performed
  with tact, ability and success, by the conclusion of the treaty of
  Tientsin of the 18th June, 1858, and the two supplemental
  conventions of Shanghae of the 8th November following.[51] These
  have placed our commercial relations with China on the same
  satisfactory footing with those of England and France, and have
  resulted in the actual payment of the full amount of all the just
  claims of our citizens, leaving a surplus to the credit of the
  Treasury. This object has been accomplished, whilst our friendly
  relations with the Chinese government were never for a moment
  interrupted, but on the contrary have been greatly strengthened.

Footnote 51:

  United States Pamphlet Laws, 1861-’62, p. 177, appendix.

                              CHAPTER XI.


There are good reasons for believing that the regard which was
always expressed by the members of the royal family of England for
Mr. Buchanan and his niece was something more than a dictate of
policy towards the great nation that he had represented at their
court. One token of this regard, which came after he had been made
President, was certainly intended as a personal reminder of the
pleasant intercourse which he had with the queen and her husband,
and of the liking for him which their eldest daughter had often and
artlessly manifested. When the Princess Royal was married to the
crown prince of Prussia in 1858, her father sent, not to the
President of the United States, but to Mr. Buchanan, a copy of the
medal struck in honor of the marriage, accompanied by this note:

                   [PRINCE ALBERT TO MR. BUCHANAN.]

                                   BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Feb. 16, 1858.


  The belief that your recollection of the time passed by you in
  England will have made you feel an interest in the late happy
  marriage of our eldest daughter, induces me to send for your
  acceptance a medal struck in commemoration of that event. You
  will, I think, be able easily to recognize the Princess Royal’s
  features; the likeness of Prince Frederick William is also very

  Trusting that your health continues unimpaired, notwithstanding
  the manifold duties of your high and responsible office, in which
  hope the queen joins with me, I remain, ever, my dear Mr.
  Buchanan, yours truly,


                   [MR. BUCHANAN TO PRINCE ALBERT.]

                                    WASHINGTON CITY, March 13, 1858.


  I have had the honor to receive from Lord Napier your very kind
  note of the 13th ultimo, with the medal struck in commemoration of
  the marriage of the Princess Royal with Prince Frederick William.
  Whilst in England I had upon one or two occasions the privilege of
  meeting and conversing with the Princess Royal, which caused me to
  form a very high estimate of the excellence of her character, and
  to feel a deep interest in her prosperity and happiness. May her
  destiny prove fortunate, and her married life be crowned by a kind
  Providence with all the blessings which it is the lot of humanity
  to enjoy.

  With my most respectful regards to the queen. I remain truly

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

When the President in June, 1860, learned that the Prince of Wales
would visit Canada, he hastened to write to the queen, and to extend
a national invitation to the Prince to come to Washington. The
following are the letters which passed between the President and the


                                      WASHINGTON CITY, June 4, 1860.


  I have learned from the public journals that the Prince of Wales
  is about to visit your Majesty’s North American dominions. Should
  it be the intention of His Royal Highness to extend his visit to
  the United States, I need not say how happy I shall be to give him
  a cordial welcome to Washington. You may be well assured that
  everywhere in this country he will be greeted by the American
  people in such a manner as cannot fail to prove gratifying to your
  Majesty. In this they will manifest their deep sense of your
  domestic virtues, as well as the conviction of your merits as a
  wise, patriotic, and constitutional sovereign.

                        Your Majesty’s most obedient servant,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.


                                   BUCKINGHAM PALACE, June 22, 1860.


  I have been much gratified at the feelings which prompted you to
  write to me inviting the Prince of Wales to come to Washington. He
  intends to return from Canada through the United States, and it
  will give him great pleasure to have an opportunity of testifying
  to you in person that those feelings are fully reciprocated by
  him. He will thus be able at the same time to mark the respect
  which he entertains for the Chief Magistrate of a great and
  friendly state and kindred nation.

  The Prince will drop all royal state on leaving my dominions, and
  travel under the name of Lord Renfrew, as he has done when
  travelling on the continent of Europe.

  The Prince Consort wishes to be kindly remembered to you.

                                I remain ever your good friend,
                                                        VICTORIA RA.

The Prince arrived in Washington early in October, 1860, and he and
the principal persons in his suite became the guests of the
President at the White House, where they remained until the 6th of
that month. During this visit there was an excursion to Mount
Vernon, to afford the Prince an opportunity to see the tomb of
Washington. The Prince and his suite, accompanied by a considerable
number of invited guests, were taken to Mount Vernon on the revenue
cutter, Harriet Lane, a vessel of the revenue service, which had
been named for the President’s niece by the Secretary of the
Treasury. The President and Miss Lane were of the party. The
incidents of the visit are well known, but there is an anecdote
connected with it which should be repeated here, because it
illustrates Mr. Buchanan’s scrupulous care in regard to public
money. The Secretary of the Treasury had given liberal orders for a
supply of refreshments to be put on board the cutter. When the
President heard that the bills for this and other expenses of the
excursion were about to be audited and paid at the Treasury, he
directed them to be sent to him. They were not paid at the Treasury,
but the whole expense was defrayed by a private arrangement between
the President and Mr. Cobb, the Secretary.[52]

Footnote 52:

  I believe these bills were paid by Mr. Cobb, from his own private
  means. The whole affair was gotten up by him, and the President
  and Miss Lane went as invited guests. It is proper to say here
  that the entertainment of the Prince and his suite at the White
  House entailed a good deal of expense, for extra servants and
  other things, and that Congress was never asked to defray any part
  of it. Mr. Buchanan would never hear of any suggestion that the
  extraordinary charges of his position should fall upon any fund
  but his salary and his private income.


                                        WASHINGTON, October 6, 1860.


  When I had the honor of addressing your Majesty in June last, I
  confidently predicted a cordial welcome for the Prince of Wales
  throughout this country, should he pay us a visit on his return
  from Canada to England. What was then prophecy has now become
  history. He has been everywhere received with enthusiasm, and this
  is attributed not only to the very high regard entertained for
  your Majesty, but also to his own noble and manly bearing. He has
  passed through a trying ordeal for a person of his years, and his
  conduct throughout has been such as became his age and station.
  Dignified, frank and affable, he has conciliated wherever he has
  been the kindness and respect of a sensitive and discriminating

  His visit thus far, has been all your Majesty could have desired,
  and I have no doubt it will so continue to the end.

  The Prince left us for Richmond this morning with the Duke of
  Newcastle and the other members of his wisely selected suite. I
  should gladly have prolonged his visit had this been possible
  consistently with previous engagements. In our domestic circle he
  won all hearts. His free and ingenuous intercourse with myself
  evinced both a kind heart and good understanding. I shall ever
  cherish the warmest wishes for his welfare.

  The visit of the Prince to the tomb of Washington and the simple
  but solemn ceremonies at this consecrated spot will become a
  historical event and cannot fail to exert a happy influence on the
  kindred people of the two countries.

  With my respectful regards for the Prince Consort,

          I remain your Majesty’s friend and obedient servant,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.


                             BROOK STREET, LONDON, November 2, 1860.


  In writing to you thus soon after my return to England, my first
  and foremost object is, to thank you once again, which I do very
  warmly, for all your kindness during my last visit at Washington.
  In the course of a life somewhat checquered with various
  incidents, in various places, I know not that I ever enjoyed five
  days so much;—including under this expression both the time of the
  royal visit, and that which I afterwards passed with you alone.
  The Executive Mansion is lost to me for the future, if even I ever
  return to America; but you I trust will preserve to me hereafter
  the regard and friendship which it is pleasant to me to possess.

  The letter you entrusted to my care was in the hands of the queen
  exactly fourteen days after I had received it from you. It will
  give you pleasure, I know, to learn (which I presume you will
  afterwards do in some way from the queen herself), how very much
  she was gratified by it. Both Lord Palmerston and Lord John
  Russell have expressly and strongly mentioned this to me.

  All England, as far as I can see and hear, is delighted with the
  reception of the Prince in the United States. It has produced a
  strong impression here;—reciprocated I hope and believe in

  The squadron which brings him home has not yet been heard of; but
  as they have now been twelve or thirteen days at sea, the arrival
  can not be long delayed. Probably to-day may bring some
  intelligence. I shall be impatient to see again the several
  members of the Prince’s suite, and to hear their detail of all
  that followed after our parting at Washington. They will all, I am
  persuaded, come back with the same strong sentiment they had at
  that time regarding their reception in the United States.

  You will see that the European continent is still laboring under
  the same strange political complications;—enlivened, if I may so
  phrase it, by an occasional battle, but obscured by a dark haze
  over the future. Lord Palmerston tells me that he believes it will
  all end rightly, and I am willing to believe him, though I do not
  see my way towards this result. Many games are evidently at this
  moment played underhand—not like the open and frank bowling of the
  ten-pin courts. Our excellent ally, Louis Napoleon, comes under
  this suspicion, while some suspect that he, between Church and
  State affairs, is under as much perplexity as his neighbors. It
  seems even doubtful whether the compulsory concession of the
  Emperor of Austria will satisfy Hungary, or leave him free for the
  contingencies of an Italian campaign. If a general war can be
  avoided, it is the utmost the most sanguine dare hope for. For the
  present the great interest is concentrated on the spot where the
  King of Naples still makes a show of resistance to the King of
  Sardinia and Garibaldi,—a matter that a few days must decide. Then
  comes the question of the Pope and Rome,—a still more complex and
  delicate affair, with interests rooted all over Europe.

  In England we are happy and prosperous, despite our indifferent
  harvest,—better, however, than at one time expected. But we shall
  be fed out of your abundance, if need there be.

  The telegraphic news from China seems good as far as it goes, but
  we shall need the details to know its full import. Lord Palmerston
  tells me that the last despatches led them to believe that the
  Emperor of China was very desirous, or at least not unwilling,
  that his army should be defeated, to rescue himself from the hands
  of a war party at Pekin, which overruled him in his own wishes.
  Chinese rumors are very apocryphal documents.

  I must not intrude further upon your time, by what, after all, is
  little more than may be drawn from the newspapers of the day. In
  bidding you farewell, my dear Mr. President, I have but again to
  repeat the expressions of acknowledgment for kindnesses received,
  and of cordial regard and respect, with which I remain,

                                    Ever yours most faithfully,
                                                         H. HOLLAND.


                                  WINDSOR CASTLE, November 19, 1860.


  Your letter of the 6th ultimo has afforded me the greatest
  pleasure, containing, as it does, such kind expressions with
  regard to my son, and assuring me that the character and object of
  his visit to you and to the United States have been fully
  appreciated, and that his demeanor and the feelings evinced by him
  have secured to him your esteem and the general good will of your

  I purposely delayed the answer to your letter until I should be
  able to couple it with the announcement of the Prince of Wales’s
  safe return to his home. Contrary winds and stress of weather have
  much retarded his arrival, but we have been fully compensated for
  the anxiety which this long delay has naturally caused us, by
  finding him in such excellent health and spirits, and so delighted
  with all that he has seen and experienced in his travels.

  He cannot sufficiently praise the great cordiality with which he
  has been everywhere greeted in your country, and the friendly
  manner in which you received him; and whilst, as a mother, I am
  grateful for the kindness shown him, I feel impelled to express,
  at the same time, how deeply I have been touched by the many
  demonstrations of affection personally toward myself, which his
  presence has called forth.

  I fully reciprocate towards your nation the feelings thus made
  apparent, and look upon them as forming an important link to
  cement two nations of kindred origin and character, whose mutual
  esteem and friendship must always have so material an influence
  upon their respective development and prosperity.

  The interesting and touching scene at the grave of General
  Washington, to which you allude, may be fitly taken as the type of
  our present feeling, and I trust of our future relations.

  The Prince Consort, who heartily joins in the expressions
  contained in this letter, wishes to be kindly remembered to you,
  as we both wish to be to Miss Lane.

                             Believe me always your good friend,
                                                         VICTORIA R.

It is noteworthy that this graceful and cordial letter was written
on the eve of that great convulsion which was so soon to put in
imminent peril the perpetuity of this Union and the very existence
of our Government. To the feelings of the queen and her husband
towards this country, secured by President Buchanan’s wise and
well-timed reception of the Prince of Wales, and the demonstrations
everywhere made towards him in this country, the queen’s subjects
and the people of the United States owe it, that in the dark and
dangerous hour of our civil war, the many irritating causes of
alienation were not allowed by the sovereign of England to disrupt
the bonds of peace or the neutrality of her government between the
warring sections of this Republic. When we look back to the state of
feeling that at one time existed in England towards our Government,
and remember how many British statesmen of great consequence made
serious mistakes, it is but simple historical justice to impute to
the queen and her husband a moderating and restraining influence;
and if that influence had been wanting, there can be no rational
doubt that there would have been a recognition of the Confederate
States, not merely as a belligerent and a _de facto_ power, but as a
permanent and established government, and possibly as an ally of
Great Britain.

                           [FROM B. MORAN.]

                                            LONDON, June 29th, 1860.


  The publication of your invitation to the Prince of Wales to
  become your guest has caused a great deal of happiness in England,
  and the newspapers generally speak highly of the act. I send,
  herewith, an editorial from the _Morning Chronicle_ of to-day, in
  which there are some deserved and well-expressed compliments. The
  British people have more respect for you than for any President
  since Washington, and I have never seen a personal attack on you
  in any English journal. Whenever you are spoken of, it is in a
  tone of regard, and never in a carping spirit.

  We are almost run down with visitors from home. From forty to
  seventy are here daily, and I have to see them all. I have my
  hands full. This is comfort to me, for I would be unhappy without

  ...... I hope you will not take offence when I say that I hope the
  Baltimore Convention have nominated you, notwithstanding your
  declinature to be a candidate. And if such be the case, you will
  be elected triumphantly. We are anxiously waiting for news on this

  With best regards to yourself and Miss Lane, I am

                                       Ever faithfully yours,
                                                       B. MORAN.[53]

Footnote 53:

  Mr. Moran was one of the secretaries of the American legation
  under Mr. Dallas.

Both with reference to this visit of the Prince of Wales, and to
some other incidents of the administration, and to certain traits of
Mr. Buchanan’s character, I insert here an extract from Mr. J.
Buchanan Henry’s communication to me, before I proceed to the trying
period of “secession,” which is to occupy a large part of the
remaining pages of this volume.

  As private secretary, I had to be in my office, a room on the
  southwest corner of the second story adjoining that of the
  President, whenever he was there, which was from eight in the
  morning until luncheon at one o’clock, and from that time until
  five, when, with rare exceptions, he took an hour’s walk. I doubt
  whether Mr. Buchanan used his coach and horses a dozen times a
  year, except during the summer when he was at the “Soldier’s
  Home;” then he drove in to the executive mansion in the morning
  and out in the evening. He greatly preferred the exercise of
  walking, with its exchange of kindly personal greetings with
  friends. On returning from this daily exercise he dined with the
  members of his household. It was not then etiquette for the
  President to accept dinner or other invitations, for the wise
  reason, I believe, that any discrimination would have been
  impossible without giving offence, and universal acceptance would
  have been impossible. Once a week Mr. Buchanan caused some of the
  Cabinet members and their wives to be invited to dinner “en
  famille” and as there was but little ceremony and all were
  agreeable guests, with common and identical interests for the most
  part, I remember that these were most pleasant little
  entertainments. During the winter, or properly during the session
  of Congress, there was what might be called a State dinner, once a
  week, an entertainment of a much more formal and formidable
  character, in the large dining-room, capable of seating about
  forty persons. The first of these dinners was, I think, given to
  the Justices of the Supreme Court, the next to the Diplomatic
  Corps, then to the members of the Senate, and the House of
  Representatives, including each member in his turn, according to
  official seniority, except in a very few cases where individuals
  had by discourtesy or offence rendered such an invitation
  improper. Miss Lane and I attended to the details of these social
  matters, including dinner and party attending, making visits,
  etc., for the President. Among the most troublesome of these
  duties was the proper assigning of precedence to the guests at
  these so-called state dinners; a delicate task in these Washington
  entertainments, as any neglect would pretty surely give offence.
  Miss Lane, from natural aptitude and tact and the experience she
  had in London whilst her uncle was minister there, managed these
  details very cleverly. I had the difficult and worrying task at
  these dinners, in the short time between the arrival of the forty
  odd guests in the drawing-room and the procession into the great
  dining-room, of ascertaining the name of each gentleman and
  telling him what lady he was to take in, and probably introducing
  the parties to each other. It was sometimes a very _mauvaise quart
  d’heure_ of expectation for me; as I was pretty sure to find at
  the last moment, when the President was leading the procession to
  the table, that some male guest, perhaps not accustomed to such
  matters, had strayed away from his intended partner, leaving the
  lady standing alone and much embarrassed. I had then to give them
  a fresh start.

  As private secretary I was charged with the expenditure of the
  library fund, the payment of the steward, messengers, and also of
  the expenditures of the household which were paid out of the
  President’s private purse. I might here mention that these latter
  expenditures generally exceeded the President’s salary in the
  winter months, because President Buchanan enjoyed entertaining and
  entertained liberally from inclination. In summer the social
  entertaining being much less, and the President being at the
  Soldier’s Home, a modest but pretty stone cottage on the hills
  near Washington, the expenses were much less. Taking the year
  through, the salary of $25,000 was nearly sufficient to pay the
  actual expenses of the executive mansion, but nothing beyond that,
  or to allow the President to save any part of it; but on the
  contrary, I think he had to draw upon his private means to a
  considerable extent.

  My first duty was to organize the private secretary’s office. I
  had a set of books or records carefully prepared, in which could
  be briefly entered the date of receipt of any letter or
  communication addressed to the President, the name of the
  writer—subject-matter condensed to the utmost—dates and substance
  of answer, if any, to what department referred, and date of such
  reference. If the letter contained a recommendation for
  appointment to office, these records indicated the office, the
  name of the applicant and by whom recommended. Such communications
  as the President ought to see I folded and briefed and took them
  to him every morning at eight o’clock and received his
  instructions as to the answer I should make, and in some instances
  he would answer them himself, if of a purely personal nature.
  Either he or I would then endorse upon all letters “Respectfully
  referred to the Secretary of State,” War, or otherwise, according
  as the communication in subject matter related to the business of
  that department; and once a day I would enclose them, as they
  accumulated, in large envelopes, with printed addresses, and
  despatch them by the messenger to the several departments. By this
  system I could recall any letter or communication of any kind by
  reference to the entries on my books, whenever the President
  desired them for action. This was the routine of the Executive

  It will hardly be credited that this simple and natural course of
  business gave the pretext at a later day, and I can scarcely
  suppress my indignation as I think of it, for that infamous
  “mare’s nest,” discovered by Covode of Pennsylvania, a member of
  the House of Representatives, and for the investigation of which
  he obtained a committee with full powers. The letters of General
  Patterson and others to which it related, were simply referred to
  the Secretary of the Navy according to the ordinary and proper
  routine of business in the Executive Office, as I have above
  described, and were endorsed exactly as thousands of others had
  been either by the President or by me, and such endorsement had
  therefore no signification whatever. It was a cruel and malicious
  pretence to infer that the Secretary of the Navy would attach any
  importance whatever to the mere act of reference by the President
  himself because a multitude of such papers were similarly endorsed
  either by him or by me every day.

  There would have been no room to keep such a mass of papers in the
  White House, and they would have been out of place there, as they
  related to the business of the several cabinet officers, and yet
  upon this miserable basis was the “Covode investigation” erected,
  and the first attempt ever made to soil a spotless public life,
  extending over more than forty years in every exalted station of
  our Government, as member of the legislature of Pennsylvania, many
  years member of the House of Representatives, Senator of the
  United States, twice diplomatic representative of the nation at
  the two principal courts of Europe, Secretary of State of the
  United States, and finally President of the Republic. The meagre
  partisan fruits of the investigation when made, and the refusal,
  to its credit be it said, of a bitterly hostile opposition in the
  House to propose even a censure, clearly showed its baseless

  The committee, with well simulated delicacy, never summoned me to
  appear and testify, but sent for my clerk, and after examining him
  were glad, it seems, to drop it. I dwell upon this matter, because
  in a long career of public service it is the only attempt ever
  made to impeach Mr. Buchanan’s public or private integrity. He
  himself felt it very bitterly, and I think it will be admitted
  that he administered a wholesome and deserved rebuke to the House
  in his special message of protest. Although the result
  demonstrated that there was not the most gossamer pretext for the
  charge made by Covode, I think Mr. Buchanan’s friends can be well
  pleased at its having been made, and its futility exposed, as it
  leads to the fair conclusion for history, that Mr. Buchanan was
  invulnerable to any assaults upon the honor of his public or
  private life. Surely this is much to be able to say of a public
  servant, and a nation capable of breeding many such public men can
  justly congratulate itself.

  Another feature of Mr. Buchanan’s public life I will refer to,
  which possibly may not now be esteemed a great virtue. I mean his
  dislike of nepotism. Not unnaturally, there were members of our
  family who would have been very glad to have obtained civil or
  other appointments during his administration. But such was Mr.
  Buchanan’s freely expressed repugnance to using his public
  authority for the advantage of his relatives, that I am not aware
  that any of them even made application to him for office of any
  kind. Public policy clearly indicates the propriety and
  desirability of the President’s private secretary being, if
  possible, a blood relation, upon the ground that the honor and
  interests of the President and his high office can be most safely
  entrusted to one having an interest in his good name and fame, and
  therefore more guarded against temptation of any kind. I therefore
  do not consider the selection of myself, or my cousin Mr. James
  Buchanan, who followed me, as any exception to what I have stated.
  To such an extent did I know that my uncle disliked the appointing
  of relatives to office, that I never dared to tell him of my
  desire to be appointed to the paymaster corps of the navy, a
  position which from my nomadic tastes I had long coveted, and I
  concluded to save myself the mortification of a refusal. I could
  exercise no influence with him for myself. As an instance of this,
  I will mention that when the Hon. John Cadwalader, late Judge of
  United States Circuit Court of Eastern Pennsylvania, was appointed
  to that judgeship by Mr. Buchanan, he tendered me the clerkship of
  his court, a permanent and honorable position, and one that I
  should have been willing to accept. Judge Cadwalader had been my
  legal preceptor, and for years my warm personal friend, so that
  the proffered position would have been in every way agreeable and
  proper. Although I was then residing in New York as a private
  citizen, I consulted Mr. Buchanan as to its acceptance by me, and
  on finding that he entertained serious reasonable objections to my
  doing so, I declined the compliment. The President said the public
  might justly infer that there had been some previous understanding
  between him and the new judge, and that however erroneous such a
  conclusion would be, it would be natural. Inasmuch, therefore, as
  my acceptance might work injury, both to the President and his
  excellent appointee, I quickly made my decision. These little
  events, unknown to the public, will serve to illustrate the
  delicate sense of right and the very appearance of right, which so
  strongly marked his public service.

  Among the minor but interesting incidents of the administration, I
  may mention the receipt of the first message by the new ocean
  telegraph from the British sovereign, and the President’s reply to
  it. As the cable became silent almost immediately after, the
  public were for a long time in doubt whether any message had
  really been transmitted over the wonderful wire under the sea. I
  well remember the reception of the message, and I had it and the
  draft of the President’s reply in my possession for years
  afterwards as a curiosity.

  You doubtless know all about the visit of the Prince of Wales to
  President Buchanan, and the pleasant social incidents following in
  its train. The Duke of Newcastle, Lord St. Germains and Sir Henry
  Holland—the latter an old friend of the President’s—in the
  Prince’s suite, were also guests at the White House. I was then
  residing in New York, and was sent for by my uncle to my old
  quarters in Washington, to assist in entertaining these
  distinguished persons, who, though entertained at the private
  expense of Mr. Buchanan, were nevertheless looked upon, and
  properly so, as the guests of the nation.

  Probably among the most interesting, and I may say touching,
  incidents of this visit, was a trip made by the royal guest and
  suite, in company with the President, to Mount Vernon. I well
  remember the whole party—the tall, venerable form of the
  President, the youthful Prince, and the other guests representing
  the highest social order in Great Britain, standing bare-headed in
  front of the tomb of Washington. It was a most impressive and
  singular spectacle, and I have often thought it would make a very
  striking subject for a large historical painting. The Prince
  planted a small tree near the tomb in commemoration of his visit,
  but I have never learned whether it grew. Many interesting
  incidents occurred in this visit, but I shall not repeat them. I
  will only say that I never saw a more agreeable or unrestrained
  intercourse of a social character—for the visit had no political
  significance whatever, and the Queen and the Prince subsequently
  expressed their appreciation of the President’s hospitality, the
  former in an autograph letter, and the latter both by letter and
  the presentation of a three-quarter length portrait, painted by
  one of Britain’s greatest artists. The value of this was enhanced
  by the delicacy which marked its presentation _after_ Mr. Buchanan
  had retired to private life as a simple citizen. These letters and
  portrait are now in the possession of my cousin, and also the
  autograph letter of the Prince Consort to Mr. Buchanan on the
  occasion of the marriage of the Princess Royal, in which he uses
  some pleasant expressions of a personal character, and referring
  back to Mr. Buchanan’s residence in London as minister. I think
  the era of good feeling between America and England, and
  especially the enduring friendship of the Queen herself for the
  United States, so decidedly shown by her during our terrible war,
  may be traced as one of the happy results of the visit of the
  Prince of Wales to the President. The kindly feelings of these two
  great nations towards each other, a _rapprochement_, now so
  marked, had, I think, its beginning at that period.

  Another trait of Mr. Buchanan I must not omit alluding to. He made
  it an invariable rule, as President, to accept no gifts or
  presents of any value, even from the most intimate friends, and it
  was part of my duty to return them at once, with a kind but
  emphatic declination, telling the donor that the President had
  made it a rule, not to be broken, that he could accept no gifts;
  and I was directed, at the same time, to express his thanks for
  the friendly intentions in all cases where it seemed probable that
  it was not a bold effort to purchase favor, and from purely
  selfish motives. A number of costly gifts were thus returned.

  After a personal intercourse with Mr. Buchanan from my boyhood,
  more or less intimate, and therefore having had an opportunity to
  judge, I can conscientiously say that I never knew a man of purer
  private life, or one actuated by nobler or more upright motives.
  He was, to us around him, an object of unbroken respect and
  reverence. I can truly aver that I never heard him express an
  ignoble sentiment, or do an act that could diminish that respect
  and reverence. He was strong willed, rather austere, and somewhat
  exacting to those around him, but always and in all things the
  Christian gentleman. This was the impression made upon me as a
  youth, and now, as I look back from later life, I see no cause to
  change or modify my estimate of his character. His only fault, if
  fault it be, was a too great readiness to forgive and conciliate
  those who had been his enemies, regarding it as a triumph for his
  principles and a vindication of his motives. And yet this has been
  at times attributed to him as a weakness.

  Mr. Buchanan had an extraordinary memory, and could repeat
  verbatim much of the classic authors of his college days, and I
  remember he often put me to shame, when I was yet in the midst of
  my books, by questions that I failed to answer to my satisfaction.
  He was also a remarkably fluent and agreeable conversationalist—a
  rare and valuable gift—and it was one of my greatest pleasures to
  listen to him, when in congenial company, relating anecdotes of
  his great contemporaries in public life at home, and incidents
  occurring during his missions in St. Petersburgh and later in
  London. This quality made him a most agreeable companion among
  men, and an especial favorite with the fair sex, whose friendship
  in turn he appreciated and enjoyed to the end of his life. The
  correctness of his own private life, and his association with only
  the nobler of the other sex, resulted in his never entertaining or
  expressing cynical views of them, so common in men’s later years.

  I do not know if you have any account of Mr. Buchanan’s personal
  appearance or dress. The best likeness of him is a miniature
  portrait on ivory, by Brown of Philadelphia, now in the possession
  of his brother, the Rev. Dr. Buchanan. I have an oil photograph
  painted in 1857, which is excellent; also a bust in marble by a
  Boston sculptor, which is good. My cousin has a half-length
  portrait, painted by Eicholtz about the year 1833. His figure and
  general appearance whilst President is very accurately represented
  in a full-length engraving by Buttre of New York. On the whole, I
  think it is the best average representation of him extant. Healy
  executed a portrait of Mr. Buchanan at the White House, but he was
  an impatient sitter, and I do not think it was very successful.

  Mr. Buchanan, in his sketch of the four last months of his
  administration, gives a short account of a remarkable naval
  expedition ordered by him to Paraguay, to settle certain
  difficulties with that republic. This naval demonstration on a
  considerable scale was entirely successful, and resulted in a
  permanent peace with that country ever since. It had, however,
  this most uncommon feature to distinguish it, that it cost the
  United States not one dollar beyond the usual small annual
  appropriation for the navy. I sometimes wonder whether any other
  such expedition of its size and importance, in this or any other
  country, can show such an example of economy, honesty and
  efficiency and success combined, as did this.

                     [TO MISS LANE, IN NEW YORK.]

                                         WASHINGTON, May 20th, 1858.


  Learning that you were about to purchase furniture in New York
  [for the White House], I requested Doctor Blake to furnish me a
  statement of the balance of the appropriation unexpended. This
  balance is $8,369.02. In making your purchases, therefore, I wish
  you to consider that this sum must answer our purpose until the
  end of my term. I wish you, therefore, not to expend the whole of
  it, but to leave enough to meet all contingencies up till 4th
  March, 1861. Any sum which may be expended above the appropriation
  I shall most certainly pay out of my own pocket. I shall never ask
  Congress for the deficiency.

  Who should make his appearance this morning but Mr. Keitt.[54]
  After talking about other matters for some time, he said he was
  married. I expressed strong doubts upon the subject, when he
  insisted that he was actually and _bona fide_ married. The lady is
  Miss Sparks, whom he has been so long addressing.

  With my kind regards to Mr. and Mrs. R., I remain, etc.

Footnote 54:

  Of South Carolina. Pronounced Kitt.

                   [TO MISS LANE, IN PHILADELPHIA.]

                                                 October 15th, 1858.

  We have not yet heard from you since you left us. I hope you
  arrived safely in Philadelphia, and did not contract a hoarseness
  in talking on the way. We get along very nicely since your absence
  and will give a big dinner on Thursday next. I have not seen any
  of your lady friends since your departure, and can therefore give
  you no news.

  Well! we have met the enemy in Pennsylvania and we are theirs.
  This I have anticipated for three months, and was not taken by
  surprise, except as to the extent of our defeat. I am astonished
  at myself for bearing it with so much philosophy.

  The conspirators against poor Jones have at length succeeded in
  hunting him down. Ever since my election the hounds have been in
  pursuit of him. I now deeply regret—but I shall say no more. With
  the blessing of Providence, I shall endeavor to raise him up and
  place him in some position where they can not reach him.

  Judge Black, General Anderson of Tennessee, Mr. Brenner, and Mr.
  Van Dyke dined with me yesterday, and we had a merry time of it,
  laughing, among other things, over our crushing defeat. It is so
  great that it is almost absurd.

  We will present a record of success at the meeting of Congress
  which has rarely been equalled. We have hitherto succeeded in all
  our undertakings.

  Poor bleeding Kansas is quiet, and is behaving herself in an
  orderly manner; but her wrongs have melted the hearts of the
  sympathetic Pennsylvanians, or rather Philadelphians. In the
  interior of the State the tariff was the damaging question, and in
  defeating Jones, the iron interest have prostrated a man who could
  render them more service than all the Republican Representatives
  from Pennsylvania. He will be a loss to the whole country in the
  House of Representatives.

  I have heard nothing of the good and excellent Robert since you
  left us. He is a man among a thousand. I wish I could say so much
  for his brother.

  It is growing late and I must retire. I sleep much better now, but
  not near so well as at the Soldiers’ Home.

                                                     May 13th, 1859.

  I send you an oration received from Hon. William Porcher
  Miles,[55] and franked by him to yourself. A precious

  I wrote a long letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, ten days ago, and left it
  on my table open. It marvellously disappeared, and I had neither
  courage nor time to copy it from memory. I know not what has
  become of it, but it contains nothing which might not be published
  in the _New York Herald_. My respect and admiration for Mrs.
  Roosevelt, to be sure, appear in the letter; but this is well
  known and does me honor. It is possible that in clearing my own
  table I may have by mistake torn this letter up with other
  manuscripts; but I can not believe it.

  I have but little news. Mr. Magraw came to us on Saturday last and
  still remains, much to my gratification. We get along very
  comfortably and quietly. Miss Hetty is very busy. Washington, they
  say, is extremely dull. I called yesterday at Mr. Thompson’s, just
  before dinner. The lady was not at home. She had gone to a
  travelling circus and show in company with Mrs. Gwin, her sister
  and Miss Lucy. I made no remark to Mr. Thompson on receiving the
  information, except that you would certainly have been of the
  party had you been in Washington.

  I met Mrs. Conrad and her daughters on the street the other day
  and walked with them some distance. She does not appear to have
  seen much of Lord Lyons. I think he keeps himself very much to
  himself. Count Sartiges has been here several times. I shall miss
  him more than I would any of the foreign ministers.

Footnote 55:

  Of South Carolina.

                                                     May 14th, 1859.

  I send you the enclosed letter from Mr. ——, of New York. It speaks
  for itself. He seems to be a warm-hearted German, and I would
  advise you to address him a few lines. In acknowledging the
  compliment, I have said I would send his letter to you at Judge
  Roosevelt’s. You have been hailed as “The Great Mother of the
  Indians,” and it must gratify you to learn that your adopted
  countrymen desire to perpetuate your name by giving it to their

  Two of the Secretaries and myself were to have visited Baltimore
  to-day to select a site for the Federal Courts; but we agreed to
  postpone our visit until Monday to enable them to attend a dinner
  given by Lord Lyons to-day to the members of the cabinet. It is
  quite probable we shall be accompanied on Monday by Mrs. Thompson,
  Mrs. Gwin and other ladies.

  What means the ominous conjunction between Mr. Van Buren and Mr.
  Douglas at the —— Hotel. I do not, however, consider it ominous at
  all, though others do.

  Sir William ought to have been very careful in obeying his
  instructions, especially after his former experience in South
  America. The British government are not at all pleased with him.
  We know this from Lord Lyons.

  Here I was called away after ten at night, to hear the music of
  the Knights Templars. It was, I think, excellent; though I am, as
  you know, no great judge. Good-night! My affectionate regards to
  Mrs. Roosevelt and my respectful compliments to the Judge.

  Mr. Thompson and myself intend to set out for Chapel Hill on
  Monday, 10th instant. I think Mr. Magraw will accompany us. They
  are making great preparations to receive us. I hope you are
  enjoying yourself. Stay as long as it affords you pleasure. We are
  getting along very well. Miss Hetty is very busy in having things
  put in order for the summer.

                                                     May 18th, 1859.

  I return Lady Ouseley’s letter. When you write please to remember
  me to her in the very kindest terms. I should be sorry indeed to
  think I should never meet her again.

  The conduct of Sir William has been most decidedly disapproved by
  Lord Malmesbury. Of this we have the official evidence. I am truly
  sorry he did not obey his instructions. But of this say nothing to
  Mrs. Roosevelt.

  Our two successful diplomatists, Messrs. Reed and Bowden, with
  their ladies, are to dine with me to-day _en famille_. Mr. Cobb
  now dines here regularly.

  I never laughed as much on any one day as on Monday last at
  Baltimore and on the way.

  Remember me always most affectionately to Mrs. Roosevelt, and very
  kindly to the Judge.

                                                    June 10th, 1859.

  I have received your favor of yesterday. We returned to Washington
  on Tuesday morning last from our visit to North Carolina. On
  Wednesday morning Miss Hetty left for Wheatland with my full and
  entire approbation, and I wish to say to you emphatically, that
  you need not return home on my account. I shall be rejoiced to see
  you whenever you may think proper to return; but I get along both
  comfortably and happily in the absence both of Miss Hetty and

  I am sorry to find that your excursion to West Point on the
  Harriet Lane, has been made the subject of newspaper criticism on
  yourself. This is most ungallant and ungentlemanly. The practice,
  however, of employing national vessels on pleasure excursions, to
  gratify any class of people, is a fair subject of public
  criticism. You know how much I condemned your former trip on the
  same vessel, and I did not expect you would fall into a second
  error. The thing, however, is past and gone, and let it pass.
  After a fair time shall have elapsed, it is my purpose to cause
  general orders to be issued by the Treasury and Navy Departments
  to put a stop to the practice.

  I am truly rejoiced to learn that James Henry is succeeding in his

  I have not the least idea of paying the price you mention for a
  cane. Let it pass for the present. I will get Mr. Baker to attend
  to it.

  Washington has been very quiet but very agreeable since you left.
  I dined yesterday with Mrs. Thompson. Mrs. Gwin and her sister and
  Mr. Cobb were the only persons present out of the family. We had a
  merry time of it. The same party are to dine with Mrs. Gwin on
  Tuesday next.

  It was with the utmost reluctance I removed Mr. ——, though his
  removal was inevitable. His brother —— has done him much injury. I
  have known him long, and can say with truth that I know not a more
  unprincipled man in the United States. I wished to avoid the
  publication of Mr. Holt’s report, but Mr. —— and his brother made
  this impossible. The trio are now all together in happy communion,
  I mean ——, ——, and ——, the last the most contemptible of the set.

  I have just had long and interesting letters from Jones and
  Preston. They are both pleased, and both get along well. The
  former evidently stands well with the Austrian government, and
  gives us valuable information.

                          I remain, yours affectionately, etc.

                                   BEDFORD SPRINGS, August 22, 1860.

  I have only time to write a line before Mr. Wagner, the messenger
  of Mr. Thompson, leaves. I am well, and the water is producing its
  usual good effect. The company is reduced very much, though what
  remains is agreeable and respectable. My visits from the
  neighborhood are numerous.

  Give my love to Lily. If things proceed as from appearances we
  might anticipate she will soon be on the diplomatic corps, but I
  yet entertain doubts whether she will stand fire at the decisive

  Many inquiries have been made about you here, and regrets
  expressed that you did not accompany me. In haste, yours

                       [FROM MISS MACALESTER.]

                                GLENGARRY, TORRISDALE, Oct. 8, 1860.


  You have always evinced such a kind and anxious interest in regard
  to my matrimonial arrangements, that I feel it a duty, as well as
  a pleasure, to relieve your solicitude on the subject, by assuring
  you that I at last really am engaged. I consider you entirely
  responsible for this result, my dear Mr. Buchanan, for you so
  terrified me last spring and summer by your forebodings, and made
  me so fully realize my almost hopeless condition and approaching
  _superannuation_, that I determined to trifle no longer with time.
  I think, therefore, I may fairly claim your kind wishes and
  congratulations upon my escape from the prospect of a dreary
  spinsterhood, and in due season I shall also claim your
  fulfillment of a promise made long ago, and frequently repeated
  since, to be present at my wedding when that incomprehensible
  event takes place. _En attendant_, believe me always, my dear Mr.

                                With truest love yours,
                                                 LILY L. MACALESTER.


                                       WASHINGTON, October 10, 1860.


  I have received your favor of the 10th, announcing your
  engagement, and most sincerely and ardently do I hope that your
  marriage may prove auspicious and secure your future happiness and
  prosperity. I need not assure you that I feel all the interest
  which devoted friendship can inspire in your permanent welfare.

  I had thought that “the prospect of a dreary spinsterhood” would
  not have impelled you into an engagement, without saying a word to
  your superannuated bachelor friend, but when young ladies have
  determined to marry they will go ahead.

  May you enjoy all the blessings in your matrimonial state which I
  ardently desire, and you so richly deserve. Always your friend,

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

Footnote 56:

  This lady, daughter of Charles Macalester, Esq., of Philadelphia,
  married Mr. Berghmans, Secretary of the Belgian Legation in
  Washington. He died about ten years since.

                              CHAPTER XII.
                          1860—March and June.


Reference has been made by Mr. Henry, in a part of his communication
quoted in the last chapter, to a proceeding in the House of
Representatives, which has been called the “Covode Investigation.”
It is proper that a detailed account of this occurrence should be
here given.

Among the lower, or rather the lowest, political tactics,
inculpation of a retiring administration has often been resorted to
for promoting the success of the opposite party, and it seems not
infrequently to have been the calculation that the effect produced
would be in proportion to the grossness of the imputations. Mr.
Buchanan could not hope to escape calumny. None of his predecessors,
not even the most illustrious of them all, not even Washington
himself, had escaped it. Scarcely any of them, however, had been
made the object of this kind of attack, by a method so base and by
means so foul, as those to which President Buchanan was now to be
subjected. Before any of the troubles of secession arrived, before
either of the political parties had made its nomination for the next
Presidential election, it was determined that an assault should be
made upon him that would render him and his administration odious to
the people of the country.

It is certainly unavoidable, perhaps it is well, that free
governments should be administered by parties. In a vigilant,
jealous and active opposition, there is great security against the
misuse of power by those who hold it. But the freedom of opposition,
like the freedom of the press, can easily degenerate into
licentiousness; and the greater the latitude allowed by the
political maxims or habits of a people, the greater will be the
danger of abuse of that right of criticism and inculpation which is
essential to liberty, to purity, and to the public interests.
Happily, there are some restraints upon the exercise of this right,
imposed by the forms of procedure which our Constitution
has prescribed when the conduct of the executive branch of
the Government is to be called in question by the House of
Representatives. When these restraints are violated, as they were
violated against President Buchanan, there is but one judgment for
history to pronounce. Those who institute a proceeding that is out
of the limits of their constitutional function, for the purpose of
exciting hatred of one who fills for the time a coördinate and
independent department of the Government, and who conduct such a
proceeding in secret, leave upon the records of the country a
condemnation of themselves; and it is some evidence of the progress
which a people are making in freeing their partisan warfare from
such abuses, if we are able to say, as probably we can say, that
such a proceeding would not be tolerated at the present day by any
portion of the people of this country, as that which was begun and
prosecuted against President Buchanan in the spring and summer of

The House of Representatives was at this time under the control of a
majority held by the opponents of the administration. If they had
reason to believe that the President had been guilty of an exercise,
or of any attempt at an exercise, of improper influence over
legislation, or that he or any of his subordinate executive officers
had defeated, or attempted to defeat, the execution of any law, or
that he had failed or refused to execute any law, their course was
plain. In regard to the President, it was their duty to make a
specific charge, to investigate it openly, and to impeach him before
the Senate, if the evidence afforded reasonable ground to believe
that the charge could be substantiated. In regard to his
subordinates, their power to investigate was somewhat broader,
because, as a legislative body, the House of Representatives might
have occasion to remedy by legislation any future wrongs of the same
kind. But over the President, they had no authority of investigation
or inquiry, excepting as the impeaching body to which the
Constitution had committed the duty of accusation. By no
constitutional propriety, by no precedent and no principle, could an
accusation of official misconduct on the part of the President be
brought within the jurisdiction of the House, excepting by the
initiation of a proceeding looking to his impeachment. Any
proceeding, aside from the impeaching process, could have no object
and no effect but to propagate calumny, without opportunity for
exculpation and defence; and from the beginning to the end of this
extraordinary persecution every step was marked by the design with
which it was originated.

It began by the introduction of a resolution, offered in the House
by Mr. Covode, a member from Pennsylvania, on the 5th March, 1860;
and to make way for its introduction, he moved and obtained a
suspension of the rules. This was of course by previous concert. The
Speaker, after the reading of the resolution, ruled that it was not
debatable. Attempts were made by different members to point out the
absence from the resolution of any specific or tangible charge, or
to extract from the mover some declaration that he had been informed
or believed that the President had been guilty of some official
misconduct, within the generality and vagueness of the inquiry that
he proposed to have made. All these efforts were put down by the
Speaker and by clamorous cries of “order.” It became evident that
the resolution was to pass, as a foregone conclusion, without a
moment’s consideration of its character or its terms. Under the
operation of “the previous question,” it was adopted, and the mover
was afterwards placed by the Speaker at the head of the committee
which he called for. Thus, so far as there was any accuser, that
accuser was made the principal judge who was to try the accusation;
and by the terms of the resolution, all the accusation that was made
was wrapped in the following vague and indefinite language:

  _Resolved_, That a committee of five members be appointed by the
  Speaker, for the purpose, first, of investigating whether the
  President of the United States, or any officer of the Government,
  has, by money, patronage, or other improper means, sought to
  influence the action of Congress, or any committee thereof, for or
  against the passage of any law appertaining to the rights of any
  State or Territory; and, second, also to inquire into and
  investigate whether any officer or officers of the Government
  have, by combination or otherwise, prevented or defeated, or
  attempted to prevent or defeat, the execution of any law or laws
  now upon the statute book, and whether the President has failed or
  refused to compel the execution of any law thereof.

The committee, under the mover of the resolution as chairman,
proceeded to make, with closed doors, a general investigation into
every thing that any enemy of the President could bring to them.
Never, in the history of parliamentary proceedings, since they
ceased to be made the instruments of mere partisan malice, had there
been such a violation of constitutional principles and of every
maxim of justice. A secret inquisition into the conduct of a
President of the United States, not conducted in the forms or with
the safeguards of the impeachment process, without one specific
accusation, was a proceeding unknown alike to the Constitution and
to the practice, the habits and the instincts, of the people of the
United States. The President was left to learn what he could of the
doings of this committee from what they permitted to leak into the
public prints, or from other sources. More concerned for the safety
of his successors in the great office which he held than for his own
reputation, but not unmindful of the duty which he owed to himself,
he transmitted to the House, on the 28th of March, the following
message, embracing a dignified and energetic protest against this
unexampled proceeding:


  After a delay which has afforded me ample time for reflection, and
  after much and careful deliberation, I find myself constrained by
  an imperious sense of duty, as a coördinate branch of the Federal
  Government, to protest against the first two clauses of the first
  resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on the 5th
  instant, and published in the _Congressional Globe_ on the
  succeeding day. These clauses are in the following words:
  “_Resolved_, That a committee of five members be appointed by the
  Speaker, for the purpose, 1st, of investigating whether the
  President of the United States, or any other officer of the
  Government, has, by money, patronage, or other improper means,
  sought to influence the action of Congress, or any committee
  thereof, for or against the passage of any law appertaining to the
  rights of any State or Territory; and 2d, also to inquire into and
  investigate whether any officer or officers of the Government
  have, by combination or otherwise, prevented or defeated, or
  attempted to prevent or defeat, the execution of any law or laws
  now upon the statute book, and whether the President has failed or
  refused to compel the execution of any law thereof.”

  I confine myself exclusively to these two branches of the
  resolution, because the portions of it which follow relate to
  alleged abuses in post offices, navy yards, public buildings, and
  other public works of the United States. In such cases inquiries
  are highly proper in themselves, and belong equally to the Senate
  and the House as incident to their legislative duties, and being
  necessary to enable them to discover and to provide the
  appropriate legislative remedies for any abuses which may be
  ascertained. Although the terms of the latter portion of the
  resolution are extremely vague and general, yet my sole purpose in
  adverting to them at present is to mark the broad line of
  distinction between the accusatory and the remedial clauses of
  this resolution. The House of Representatives possess no power
  under the Constitution over the first or accusatory portion of the
  resolution, except as an impeaching body; whilst over the last, in
  common with the Senate, their authority as a legislative body is
  fully and cheerfully admitted.

  It is solely in reference to the first or impeaching power that I
  propose to make a few observations. Except in this single case,
  the Constitution has invested the House of Representatives with no
  power, no jurisdiction, no supremacy whatever over the President.
  In all other respects he is quite as independent of them as they
  are of him. As a coördinate branch of the Government he is their
  equal. Indeed, he is the only direct representative on earth of
  the people of all and each of the sovereign States. To them, and
  to them alone, is he responsible whilst acting within the sphere
  of his constitutional duty, and not in any manner to the House of
  Representatives. The people have thought proper to invest him with
  the most honorable, responsible, and dignified office in the
  world, and the individual, however unworthy, now holding this
  exalted position, will take care, so far as in him lies, that
  their rights and prerogatives shall never be violated in his
  person, but shall pass to his successors unimpaired by the
  adoption of a dangerous precedent. He will defend them to the last
  extremity against any unconstitutional attempt, come from what
  quarter it may, to abridge the constitutional rights of the
  Executive, and render him subservient to any human power except

  The people have not confined the President to the exercise of
  executive duties. They have also conferred upon him a large
  measure of legislative discretion. No bill can become a law
  without his approval, as representing the people of the United
  States, unless it shall pass after his veto by a majority of
  two-thirds of both Houses. In his legislative capacity he might,
  in common with the Senate and the House, institute an inquiry to
  ascertain any facts which ought to influence his judgment in
  approving or vetoing any bill. This participation in the
  performance of legislative duties between the coördinate branches
  of the Government ought to inspire the conduct of all of them, in
  their relations toward each other, with mutual forbearance and
  respect. At least each has a right to demand justice from the
  other. The cause of complaint is, that the constitutional rights
  and immunities of the Executive have been violated in the person
  of the President.

  The trial of an impeachment of the President before the Senate on
  charges preferred and prosecuted against him by the House of
  Representatives, would be an imposing spectacle for the world. In
  the result, not only his removal from the Presidential office
  would be involved, but, what is of infinitely greater importance
  to himself, his character, both in the eyes of the present and of
  future generations, might possibly be tarnished. The disgrace cast
  upon him would in some degree be reflected upon the character of
  the American people who elected him. Hence the precautions adopted
  by the Constitution to secure a fair trial. On such a trial it
  declares that “the Chief Justice shall preside.” This was
  doubtless because the framers of the Constitution believed it to
  be possible that the Vice-President might be biassed by the fact
  that “in case of the removal of the President from office,” “the
  same shall devolve on the Vice-President.”

  The preliminary proceedings in the House in the case of charges
  which may involve impeachment, have been well and wisely settled
  by long practice upon principles of equal justice both to the
  accused and to the people. The precedent established in the case
  of Judge Peck, of Missouri, in 1831, after a careful review of all
  former precedents, will, I venture to predict, stand the test of
  time. In that case, Luke Edward Lawless, the accuser, presented a
  petition to the House, in which he set forth minutely and
  specifically his causes of complaint. He prayed “that the conduct
  and proceedings in this behalf of said Judge Peck may be inquired
  into by your honorable body, and such decision made thereon as to
  your wisdom and justice shall seem proper.” This petition was
  referred to the Judiciary Committee; such has ever been deemed the
  appropriate committee to make similar investigations. It is a
  standing committee, supposed to be appointed without reference to
  any special case, and at all times is presumed to be composed of
  the most eminent lawyers in the House from different portions of
  the Union, whose acquaintance with judicial proceedings, and whose
  habits of investigation, qualify them peculiarly for the task. No
  tribunal, from their position and character, could in the nature
  of things be more impartial. In the case of Judge Peck, the
  witnesses were selected by the committee itself, with a view to
  ascertain the truth of the charge. They were cross-examined by
  him, and everything was conducted in such a manner as to afford
  him no reasonable cause of complaint. In view of this precedent,
  and, what is of far greater importance, in view of the
  Constitution and the principles of eternal justice, in what manner
  has the President of the United States been treated by the House
  of Representatives? Mr. John Covode, a Representative from
  Pennsylvania, is the accuser of the President. Instead of
  following the wise precedents of former times, and especially that
  in the case of Judge Peck, and referring the accusation to the
  Committee on the Judiciary, the House have made my accuser one of
  my judges.

  To make the accuser the judge is a violation of the principles of
  universal justice, and is condemned by the practice of all
  civilized nations. Every free-man must revolt at such a spectacle.
  I am to appear before Mr. Covode, either personally or by a
  substitute, to cross-examine the witnesses which he may produce
  before himself to sustain his own accusations against me, and
  perhaps even this poor boon may be denied to the President.

  And what is the nature of the investigation which his resolution
  proposes to institute? It is as vague and general as the English
  language affords words in which to make it. The committee is to
  inquire, not into any specific charge or charges, but whether the
  President has, “by money, patronage, or other improper means,
  sought to influence,” not the action of any individual member or
  members of Congress, but “the action” of the entire body “of
  Congress” itself, “or any committee thereof.” The President might
  have had some glimmering of the nature of the offence to be
  investigated, had his accuser pointed to the act or acts of
  Congress which he sought to pass or to defeat by the employment of
  “money, patronage, or other improper means.” But the accusation is
  bounded by no such limits. It extends to the whole circle of
  legislation; to interference “for or against the passage of any
  law appertaining to the rights of any State or Territory.” And
  what law does not appertain to the rights of some State or
  Territory? And what law or laws has the President failed to
  execute? These might easily have been pointed out had any such

  Had Mr. Lawless asked an inquiry to be made by the House whether
  Judge Peck, in general terms, had not violated his judicial
  duties, without the specification of any particular act, I do not
  believe there would have been a single vote in that body in favor
  of the inquiry. Since the time of the Star Chamber and of general
  warrants, there has been no such proceeding in England.

  The House of Representatives, the high impeaching power of the
  country, without consenting to hear a word of explanation, have
  indorsed this accusation against the President, and made it their
  own act. They even refused to permit a member to inquire of the
  President’s accuser what were the specific charges against him.
  Thus, in this preliminary accusation of “high crimes and
  misdemeanors” against a coordinate branch of the Government, under
  the impeaching power, the House refused to hear a single
  suggestion even in regard to the correct mode of proceeding, but,
  without a moment’s delay, passed the accusatory resolutions under
  the pressure of the previous question. In the institution of a
  prosecution for any offence against the most humble citizen—and I
  claim for myself no greater rights than he enjoys—the Constitution
  of the United States, and of the several States, require that he
  shall be informed, in the very beginning, of the nature and cause
  of the accusation against him, in order to enable him to prepare
  for his defence. There are other principles which I might
  enumerate, not less sacred, presenting an impenetrable shield to
  protect every citizen falsely charged with a criminal offence.
  These have been violated in the prosecution instituted by the
  House of Representatives against the executive branch of the
  Government. Shall the President alone be deprived of the
  protection of these great principles, which prevail in every land
  where a ray of liberty penetrates the gloom of despotism? Shall
  the Executive alone be deprived of rights which all his
  fellow-citizens enjoy? The whole proceeding against him justifies
  the fears of those wise and great men who, before the Constitution
  was adopted by the States, apprehended that the tendency of the
  Government was to the aggrandizement of the legislative at the
  expense of the executive and judicial departments.

  I again declare emphatically that I make this protest for no
  reason personal to myself; and I do it with perfect respect for
  the House of Representatives, in which I had the honor of serving
  as a member for five successive terms. I have lived long in this
  goodly land, and have enjoyed all the offices and honors which my
  country could bestow. Amid all the political storms through which
  I have passed, the present is the first attempt which has ever
  been made, to my knowledge, to assail my personal or official
  integrity; and this as the time is approaching when I shall
  voluntarily retire from the service of my country. I feel proudly
  conscious that there is no public act of my life which will not
  bear the strictest scrutiny. I defy all investigation. Nothing but
  the basest perjury can sully my good name. I do not fear even
  this, because I cherish an humble confidence that the Gracious
  Being who has hitherto defended and protected me against the
  shafts of falsehood and malice will not desert me now, when I have
  become “old and gray-headed.” I can declare, before God and my
  country, that no human being (with an exception scarcely worthy of
  notice) has, at any period of my life, dared to approach me with a
  corrupt or dishonorable proposition; and, until recent
  developments, it had never entered into my imagination that any
  person, even in the storm of exasperated political excitement,
  would charge me, in the most remote degree, with having made such
  a proposition to any human being. I may now, however, exclaim, in
  the language of complaint employed by my first and greatest
  predecessor, that I have been abused “in such exaggerated and
  indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, to a
  notorious defaulter, or even to a common pickpocket.”

  I do, therefore, for the reasons stated, and in the name of the
  people of the several States, solemnly protest against these
  proceedings of the House of Representatives, because they are in
  violation of the rights of the coördinate executive branch of the
  Government, and subversive of its constitutional independence;
  because they are calculated to foster a band of interested
  parasites and informers, ever ready, for their own advantage, to
  swear before _ex parte_ committees to pretended private
  conversations between the President and themselves, incapable,
  from their nature, of being disproved, thus furnishing material
  for harassing him, degrading him in the eyes of the country, and
  eventually, should he be a weak or a timid man, rendering him
  subservient to improper influences, in order to avoid such
  persecutions and annoyances; because they tend to destroy that
  harmonious action for the common good which ought to be
  maintained, and which I sincerely desire to cherish between
  coördinate branches of the Government; and, finally, because, if
  unresisted, they would establish a precedent dangerous and
  embarrassing to all my successors, to whatever political party
  they might be attached.

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  WASHINGTON, March 28, 1860.

This message was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, a
majority of whom, through their chairman, on the 9th of April,
reported resolutions against its constitutional doctrines, which the
House adopted on the 8th of June, by a party vote, and the
proceedings of the Covode Committee went on until the 16th of that
month. Mr. Train, of Massachusetts, one of the committee, then
reported to the House a great mass of testimony which had been taken
from all sorts of willing witnesses against the President, but
without a single resolution accusing or censuring either him or any
member of his cabinet. This was, in one sense, as he has himself
said, “a triumphant result for the President.”[57] But the movers in
this business had attained their object, in procuring and spreading
before the country the means of traducing the President; means which
rested for the most part on perjury, and for the residue were
colored by personal or political hostility. It was impossible for
Mr. Buchanan to allow this to pass without further notice. It is
more than probable that the further notice which he took of it
prevented a repetition of this kind of proceeding, when, on a future
occasion, another President of the United States incurred the
hostility of a dominant majority in the House of Representatives. On
the 22d of June he sent to the House the following additional

Footnote 57:

  Buchanan’s Defence, p. 218.


  “In my message to the House of Representatives of the 28th March
  last, I solemnly protested against the creation of a committee, at
  the head of which was placed my accuser, for the purpose of
  investigating whether the President had, ‘by money, patronage or
  other improper means, sought to influence the action of Congress,
  or any committee thereof, for or against the passage of any law
  appertaining to the rights of any State or Territory.’ I protested
  against this because it was destitute of any specification;
  because it referred to no particular act to enable the President
  to prepare for his defence; because it deprived him of the
  constitutional guards, which, in common with every citizen of the
  United States, he possesses for his protection; and because it
  assailed his constitutional independence as a coördinate branch of
  the Government. There is an enlightened justice, as well as a
  beautiful symmetry, in every part of the Constitution. This is
  conspicuously manifested in regard to impeachments. The House of
  Representatives possesses ‘the sole power of impeachment;’ the
  Senate ‘the sole power to try all impeachments;’ and the
  impeachable offences are ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes
  or misdemeanors.’ The practice of the House, from the earliest
  times, had been in accordance with its own dignity, the rights of
  the accused, and the demands of justice. At the commencement of
  each judicial investigation which might lead to an impeachment,
  specific charges were always preferred; the accused had an
  opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses, and he was placed in
  full possession of the precise nature of the offence which he had
  to meet. An impartial and elevated standing committee was charged
  with this investigation, upon which no member inspired with the
  ancient sense of honor and justice would have served, had he ever
  expressed an opinion against the accused. Until the present
  occasion, it was never deemed proper to transform the accuser into
  the judge, and to confer upon him the selection of his own

  “The charges made against me, in vague and general terms, were of
  such a false and atrocious character, that I did not entertain a
  moment’s apprehension for the result. They were abhorrent to every
  principle instilled into me from my youth, and every practice of
  my life, and I did not believe it possible that the man existed
  who would so basely perjure himself as to swear to the truth of
  any such accusations. In this conviction I am informed I have not
  been mistaken. In my former protest, therefore, I truly and
  emphatically declared that it was made for no reason personal to
  myself, but because the proceedings of the House were in violation
  of the rights of the coördinate executive branch of the
  Government, subversive of its constitutional independence, and, if
  unresisted, would establish a precedent dangerous and embarrassing
  to all my successors. Notwithstanding all this, if the committee
  had not transcended the authority conferred upon it by the
  resolution of the House of Representatives, broad and general as
  this was, I should have remained silent upon the subject. What I
  now charge is, that they have acted as though they possessed
  unlimited power, and, without any warrant whatever in the
  resolution under which they were appointed, have pursued a course
  not merely at war with the constitutional rights of the Executive,
  but tending to degrade the presidential office itself to such a
  degree as to render it unworthy of the acceptance of any man of
  honor or principle.

  “The resolution of the House, so far as it is accusatory of the
  President, is confined to an inquiry whether he had used corrupt
  or improper means to influence the action of Congress or any of
  its committees on legislative measures pending before them.
  Nothing more, nothing less. I have not learned through the
  newspapers, or in any other mode, that the committee have touched
  the other accusatory branch of the resolution, charging the
  President with a violation of duty in failing to execute some law
  or laws. This branch of the resolution is therefore out of the
  question. By what authority, then, have the committee undertaken
  to investigate the course of the President in regard to the
  convention which framed the Lecompton constitution? By what
  authority have they undertaken to pry into our foreign relations,
  for the purpose of assailing him on account of the instructions
  given by the Secretary of State to our minister in Mexico,
  relative to the Tehuantepec route? By what authority have they
  inquired into the causes of removal from office, and this from the
  parties themselves removed, with a view to prejudice his
  character, notwithstanding this power of removal belongs
  exclusively to the President under the Constitution, was so
  decided by the first Congress in the year 1789, and has
  accordingly ever since been exercised? There is in the resolution
  no pretext of authority for the committee to investigate the
  question of the printing of the post-office blanks, nor is it to
  be supposed that the House, if asked, would have granted such an
  authority, because this question had been previously committed to
  two other committees—one in the Senate and the other in the House.
  Notwithstanding this absolute want of power, the committee rushed
  into this investigation in advance of all other subjects.

  “The committee proceeded for months, from March 22d, 1860, to
  examine _ex parte_, and without any notice to myself, into every
  subject which could possibly affect my character. Interested and
  vindictive witnesses were summoned and examined before them; and
  the first and only information of their testimony which, in almost
  every instance, I received, was obtained from the publication of
  such portions of it as could injuriously affect myself, in the New
  York journals. It mattered not that these statements were, so far
  as I have learned, disproved by the most respectable witnesses who
  happened to be on the spot. The telegraph was silent respecting
  these contradictions. It was a secret committee in regard to all
  the testimony which could by possibility reflect on my character.
  The poison was left to produce its effect upon the public mind,
  whilst the antidote was carefully withheld.

  “In their examinations the committee violated the most sacred and
  honorable confidences existing among men. Private correspondence,
  which a truly honorable man would never even entertain a distant
  thought of divulging, was dragged to light. Different persons in
  official and confidential relations with myself, and with whom it
  was supposed I might have held conversations, the revelation of
  which would do me injury, were examined. Even members of the
  Senate and members of my own cabinet, both my constitutional
  advisers, were called upon to testify, for the purpose of
  discovering something, if possible, to my discredit.

  “The distribution of the patronage of the Government is by far
  the most disagreeable duty of the President. Applicants are so
  numerous, and their applications are pressed with such
  eagerness by their friends both in and out of Congress, that
  the selection of one for any desirable office gives offence to
  many. Disappointed applicants, removed officers, and those who
  for any cause, real or imaginary, had become hostile to the
  administration, presented themselves, or were invited by a
  summons to appear before the committee. These are the most
  dangerous witnesses. Even with the best intentions, they are
  so influenced by prejudice and disappointment, that they
  almost inevitably discolor truth. They swear to their own
  version of private conversations with the President without
  the possibility of contradiction. His lips are sealed and he
  is left at their mercy. He cannot, as a coördinate branch of
  the Government, appear before a committee of investigation to
  contradict the oaths of such witnesses. Every coward knows
  that he can employ insulting language against the President
  with impunity, and every false or prejudiced witness can
  attempt to swear away his character before such a committee
  without the fear of contradiction.

  “Thus for months, whilst doing my best at one end of the avenue to
  perform my high and responsible duties to the country, has there
  been a committee of the House of Representatives in session at the
  other end of the avenue, spreading a drag-net, without the shadow
  of authority from the House, over the whole Union, to catch any
  disappointed man willing to malign my character, and all this in
  secret conclave. The lion’s mouth at Venice, into which secret
  denunciations were dropped, is an apt illustration of the Covode
  committee. The Star Chamber, tyrannical and odious as it was,
  never proceeded in such a manner. For centuries there has been
  nothing like it in any civilized country, except the revolutionary
  tribunal of France, in the days of Robespierre. Now, I undertake
  to state and to prove that should the proceedings of the committee
  be sanctioned by the House, and become a precedent for future
  times, the balance of the Constitution will be entirely upset, and
  there will no longer remain the three coördinate and independent
  branches of the Government—legislative, executive, and judicial.
  The worst fears of the patriots and statesmen who framed the
  Constitution in regard to the usurpations of the legislative on
  the executive and judicial branches will then be realized. In the
  language of Mr. Madison, speaking on this very subject, in the
  forty-eighth number of the _Federalist_: ‘In a representative
  republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited both
  in the extent and duration of its power, and where the legislative
  power is exercised by an assembly which is inspired by a supposed
  influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own
  strength, which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions
  which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable
  of pursuing the objects of its passions by means which reason
  prescribes, it is against the enterprising ambition of this
  department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and
  exhaust all their precautions.’ And in the expressive and pointed
  language of Mr. Jefferson, when speaking of the tendency of the
  legislative branch of Government to usurp the rights of the weaker
  branches: ‘The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely
  the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation
  that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and
  not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would
  surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their
  eyes on the Republic of Venice. As little will it avail us that
  they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the
  government we fought for, but one which should not only be founded
  on free principles, but in which the powers of government should
  be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as
  that no one could transcend their legal limits without being
  effectually checked and controlled by the others.”

  “Should the proceedings of the Covode committee become a
  precedent, both the letter and spirit of the Constitution will be
  violated. One of the three massive columns on which the whole
  superstructure rests will be broken down. Instead of the Executive
  being a coördinate, it will become a subordinate branch of the
  Government. The presidential office will be dragged into the dust.
  The House of Representatives will then have rendered the Executive
  almost necessarily subservient to its wishes, instead of being
  independent. How is it possible that two powers in the State can
  be coördinate and independent of each other, if the one claims and
  exercises the power to reprove and to censure all the official
  acts and all the private conversations of the other, and this upon
  _ex parte_ testimony before a secret inquisitorial committee—in
  short, to assume a general censorship over the others? The idea is
  as absurd in public as it would be in private life. Should the
  President attempt to assert and maintain his own independence,
  future Covode committees may dragoon him into submission by
  collecting the hosts of disappointed office-hunters, removed
  officers, and those who desire to live upon the public treasury,
  which must follow in the wake of every administration, and they,
  in secret conclave, will swear away his reputation. Under such
  circumstances, he must be a very bold man should he not surrender
  at discretion and consent to exercise his authority according to
  the will of those invested with this terrific power. The sovereign
  people of the several States have elected him to the highest and
  most honorable office in the world. He is their only direct
  representative in the Government. By their Constitution they have
  made him commander-in-chief of their army and navy. He represents
  them in their intercourse with foreign nations. Clothed with their
  dignity and authority, he occupies a proud position before all
  nations, civilized and savage. With the consent of the Senate, he
  appoints all the important officers of the Government. He
  exercises the veto power, and to that extent controls the
  legislation of Congress. For the performance of these high duties
  he is responsible to the people of the several States, and not in
  any degree to the House of Representatives.

  “Shall he surrender these high powers, conferred upon him as the
  representative of the American people, for their benefit, to the
  House, to be exercised under their overshadowing influence and
  control! Shall he alone of all the citizens of the United States
  be denied a fair trial? Shall he alone not be ‘informed of the
  nature and cause of the accusation’ against him? Shall he alone
  not ‘be confronted with the witnesses’ against him? Shall the
  House of Representatives, usurping the powers of the Senate,
  proceed to try the President through the agency of a secret
  committee of the body where it is impossible he can make any
  defence, and then, without affording him an opportunity of being
  heard, pronounce a judgment of censure against him? The very same
  rule might be applied, for the very same reason, to every judge of
  every court in the United States. From what part of the
  Constitution is this terrible inquisitorial power derived? No such
  express power exists. From which of the enumerated powers can it
  be inferred? It is true the House cannot pronounce the formal
  judgment against him of ‘removal from office,’ but they can, by
  their judgment of censure, asperse his reputation, and thus, to
  the extent of their influence, render the office contemptible. An
  example is at hand of the reckless manner in which this power of
  censure can be employed in high party times. The House, on a
  recent occasion, have attempted to degrade the President by
  adopting the resolution of Mr. John Sherman, declaring that he, in
  conjunction with the Secretary of the Navy, “by receiving and
  considering the party relations of bidders for contracts, and the
  effect of awarding contracts upon pending elections, have set an
  example dangerous to the public safety, and deserving the reproof
  of this House.”

  It will scarcely be credited that the sole pretext for this vote
  of censure was the simple fact that in disposing of the numerous
  letters of every imaginable character which I daily receive, I
  had, in the usual course of business, referred a letter from
  Colonel Patterson, of Philadelphia, in relation to a contract, to
  the attention of the Secretary of the Navy, the head of the
  appropriate department, without expressing or intimating any
  opinion whatever on the subject; and to make the matter, if
  possible, still plainer, the Secretary had informed the committee
  that “_the President did not in any manner interfere in this case,
  nor has he in any other case of contract since I have been in the
  department_.” The absence of all proof to sustain this attempt to
  degrade the President, whilst it manifests the venom of the shaft
  aimed at him, has destroyed the vigor of the bow.

  To return, after this digression. Should the House, by the
  institution of Covode committees, votes of censure, and other
  devices to harass the President, reduce him to subservience to
  their will, and render him their creature, then the well-balanced
  Government which our fathers framed will be annihilated. This
  conflict has already been commenced in earnest by the House
  against the Executive. A bad precedent rarely if ever dies. It
  will, I fear, be pursued in the time of my successors, no matter
  what may be their political character. Should secret committees be
  appointed with unlimited authority to range over all the words and
  actions, and, if possible, the very thoughts of the President,
  with a view to discover something in his past life prejudicial to
  his character, from parasites and informers, this would be an
  ordeal which scarcely any mere man since the fall could endure. It
  would be to subject him to a reign of terror from which the
  stoutest and purest hearts might shrink. I have passed
  triumphantly through this ordeal. My vindication is complete. The
  committee have reported no resolution looking to an impeachment
  against me, no resolution of censure, not even a resolution
  pointing out any abuses in any of the executive departments of the
  Government to be corrected by legislation. This is the highest
  commendation which could be bestowed on the heads of these
  departments. The sovereign people of the States will, however, I
  trust, save my successors, whoever they may be, from any such
  ordeal. They are frank, bold, and honest. They detest delators and
  informers. I therefore, in the name and as the representative of
  this great people, and standing upon the ramparts of the
  Constitution which they “have ordained and established,” do
  solemnly protest against these unprecedented and unconstitutional

  There was still another committee raised by the House on the 6th
  March last, on motion of Mr. Heard, to which I had not the
  slightest objection. The resolution creating it was confined to
  specific charges, which I have ever since been ready and willing
  to meet. I have at all times invited and defied fair investigation
  upon constitutional principles. I have received no notice that
  this committee have ever proceeded to the investigation.

  Why should the House of Representatives desire to encroach on the
  other departments of the Government? Their rightful powers are
  ample for every legitimate purpose. They are the impeaching body.
  In their legislative capacity it is their most wise and wholesome
  prerogative to institute rigid examinations into the manner in
  which all departments of the Government are conducted, with a view
  to reform abuses, to promote economy, and to improve every branch
  of the administration. Should they find reason to believe, in the
  course of their examinations, that any grave offence had been
  committed by the President or any officer of the Government,
  rendering it proper, in their judgment, to resort to impeachment,
  their course would be plain. They would then transfer the question
  from their legislative to their accusatory jurisdiction, and take
  care that in all the preliminary judicial proceedings, preparatory
  to the vote of articles of impeachment, the accused should enjoy
  the benefit of cross-examining the witnesses, and all the other
  safeguards with which the Constitution surrounds every American

  If, in a legislative investigation, it should appear that the
  public interest required the removal of any officer of the
  Government, no President has ever existed who, after giving him a
  fair hearing, would hesitate to apply the remedy. This I take to
  be the ancient and well-established practice. An adherence to it
  will best promote the harmony and the dignity of the intercourse
  between the coördinate branches of the Government, and render us
  all more respectable both in the eyes of our own countrymen and of
  foreign nations.

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

  WASHINGTON, June 22, 1860.

This last message was referred to a select committee, with
instructions to report at the next session. But no report was ever
made, and legislative action on the doings of the “Covode Committee”
thus came to an end. But in the country the materials for
calumniating the President continued to be used as they were
originally designed to be. It will be interesting to know something
more of the feelings of Mr. Buchanan on the subject, as expressed in
a private letter to the editor and proprietor of a great New York

                   [TO JAMES GORDON BENNETT, ESQ.]

 (Private and Confidential.)                WASHINGTON, June 18th, 1860.


  I thought I never should have occasion to appeal to you on any
  public subject, and I knew if I did, I could not swerve you from
  your independent course. I therefore now only ask you as a
  personal friend to take the trouble of examining yourself the
  proceedings of the Covode Committee and the reports of the
  majority and minority, and then to do me what you may deem to be
  justice. That committee were engaged in secret conclave for nearly
  three months in examining every man, _ex parte_, who, from
  disappointment or personal malignity, would cast a shade upon the
  character of the Executive. If this dragooning can exist, the
  Presidential office would be unworthy of the acceptance of a

  In performing my duty, I have endeavored to be not only pure but
  unsuspected. I have never had any concern in awarding contracts,
  but have left them to be given by the heads of the appropriate
  departments. I have ever detested all jobs, and no man, at any
  period of my life, has ever approached me on such a subject. The
  testimony of —— contains nothing but falsehoods, whether for or
  against me, for he has sworn all round.

  I shall send a message to the House in a few days on the violation
  of the Constitution involved in the vote of censure and in the
  appointment and proceedings of the Covode Committee. I am glad to
  perceive from the _Herald_ that you agree with me on the
  Constitutional question. I shall endeavor to send you a copy in

  With my kindest regards to Mrs. Bennett, I remain, very

                                               Your friend,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

                             CHAPTER XIII.


As the reader is now approaching the period when, for the first time
in our political history, a President of the United States was
elected by the votes of the free States alone, a retrospective view
of those events which preceded and contributed to that result is
necessary to a correct understanding of the great national schism of

The beginning of the year 1860 found the people of the United States
in the enjoyment of as great a measure of prosperity as they had
ever known. It was to close with a condition of feeling between the
two sections of the Union entirely fatal to its peace and
threatening to its perpetuity. In the future of our country there
will come a time when our posterity will ask, why should there ever
have been any “North” or any “South,” in the sense in which those
divisions have been marked in so long a period of our national
history. When the inquirer learns that from the time of the
formation and establishment of the Constitution of the United
States, the existence of slavery in certain States was nearly the
sole cause of the sectional antagonism typified by those terms, he
will have to trace, through various settlements, the successive
adjustments of questions which related to this one dangerous and
irritating subject.

This portion of our national history is divided into distinct
stages, at each of which some thing intended to be definite and
final was reached. It is also filled by the disastrous influence of
causes which unsettled what had once been determined as a series of
compacts between the sections; causes which continued to operate
until the year that witnessed the beginning of a great catastrophe.

The Constitution of the United States, so far as it related in any
way to the condition of slavery, was the result of agreements and
adjustments between the Northern and the Southern States, which have
been called “compromises.” It is not material to the present purpose
to consider either the moral justification for these arrangements,
or whether there was an equality or an inequality as between the two
sections, in what they respectively gained or conceded. Both
sections gained the Union of the whole country under a system of
government better adapted to secure its welfare and happiness than
it had known before; and what this system promised was abundantly
fulfilled. The precise equivalent which the Southern States
received, by the settlement made in the formation of the
Constitution, was the recognition of slavery as a condition of
portions of their population by a right exclusively dependent upon
their own local law, and exclusively under their own control as a
right of property; and to this right of property was annexed a
stipulation that the master might follow his slave from the State
whence he had escaped into any other State, and require him to be
given up, even if the law of that other State did not recognize the
condition of servitude. One other concession was made by the
Northern States: that although the slaves of the Southern States
were regarded as property, they should be so far considered as
persons as to be reckoned in a certain ratio in fixing the basis of
representation in the popular branch of Congress, and by consequence
in fixing the electoral vote of the State in the choice of a
President of the United States. The special equivalent which the
Northern States received for these concessions was in the
establishment of what is called “the commercial power,” or the power
of Congress to regulate for the whole country the trade with foreign
nations and between the States; a power which it was foreseen was to
be one of vast importance, which was one of the chief objects for
which the new Union was to be formed, and which proved in the event
to be all, and more than all, that had been anticipated for it.
Viewed in the light of mutual stipulations, these so-called
“compromises” between the two sections were laid at the basis of the
Constitution, forming a settlement fixed in the supreme law of the
land, and therefore determinate and final.

Contemporaneously with the formation of the Constitution, and before
its adoption, the Congress of the Confederation was engaged in
framing an ordinance for the government of the Northwestern
Territory, a region of country north and west of the Ohio, which
Virginia and other States had ceded to the United States during the
war of the revolution. From this region the ordinance excluded
slavery by an agreement made in that Congress between the Northern
and the Southern States. The Constitution did not take notice of
this Northwestern Territory by its specific designation, but it was
made to embrace a provision empowering the new Congress “to make all
needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and all other
property of the United States,” and also a provision for the
admission into the Union of new States, to be formed out of any
territory belonging to the United States. For a long period after
the adoption of the Constitution, these two provisions, taken
together, were regarded as establishing a plenary power of
legislation over the internal condition of any territory that might
in any way become the property of the United States, while it
remained subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress, and down
to the time when its inhabitants were to be permitted to form
themselves into a State that was to be admitted into the Union upon
an equality with all the other States. Under this process, between
the years 1792 and 1820, nine new States were admitted into the
Union; five of them with slavery and four of them without it. Of
these, three were formed out of parts of the Northwestern Territory,
and they therefore derived their character as free States from the
admitted force of the ordinance of 1787; while the others were not
within the scope of that ordinance, but derived their character from
the legislative authority of Congress under the Constitution.

It was not until the year 1820 that this recognized practice of
admitting a State into the Union as a free or as a slave State,
according to the character of its early settlement, and the
legislation which governed the Territorial condition, incurred any
serious danger of interruption. But in that year, Missouri, which
was a part of the territory ceded in 1803 by France to the United
States under the name of Louisiana, was in a condition to seek
admission into the Union. Slavery had existed there from the first
settlement of the country, and when it became necessary to authorize
the free inhabitants to form a State constitution, preparatory to
admission into the Union, it was certain that, if left to
themselves, they would not abolish a domestic relation that had long
existed among them, and in which no inconsiderable part of their
wealth was involved. It was proposed to require them to abolish it,
as a condition precedent to the admission of the State into the
Union. On this so-called “Missouri Restriction,” a violent sectional
struggle ensued in Congress, which ended in what has since been
known as the “Missouri Compromise.” This was embodied in the organic
act, passed on the 6th of March, 1820, which authorized the people
of the then Territory of Missouri to form a State constitution and
government. The compromise consisted, on the one hand, in the
omission of the proposed restriction as a condition of admission
into the Union, and, on the other hand, in a guarantee of perpetual
freedom throughout all the remainder of the Louisiana territory
lying north of the parallel of 36° 30´. This was accompanied,
however, by a proviso, which saved the right to reclaim any person
escaping into that region, from whom labor or service was lawfully
claimed in any State or Territory of the United States. The parallel
of 36° 30´ was adopted as the line north of which slavery or
involuntary servitude might not be permitted to exist as an
institution or condition recognized by the local law, because it was
assumed as a practical fact that north of that line the slavery of
the African race could not, from the nature of the climate, be
profitably introduced, whilst it was equally assumed that in those
portions of the Louisiana purchase south of that line, the habits of
the contiguous States, and the character of the climate would induce
a settlement by persons accustomed to hold and depend upon that
species of labor in the cultivation of the soil, and in the wants of
domestic life. The principle of the Missouri Compromise, therefore,
as a final settlement made between the two sections of the Union in
respect to the whole of the Louisiana purchase, was that north of
the parallel of 36° 30´, slavery could never be introduced, but that
south of that line, slavery might be established according to the
will of the free inhabitants. Regarded in the light of a division of
this vast territory, this compromise secured to the North quite as
much as, if not more than, it secured to the South. Regarded in the
light of a settlement of a dangerous and exciting controversy, on
which the whole Union could repose, the Missouri Compromise disposed
of the future character of all the territory then belonging to the
United States, not including the Northwestern Territory, the
character of which was fixed by the ordinance of 1787. For a quarter
of a century afterward, the two sections of North and South rested
in peace upon the settlement of 1820, so far as discussion of the
subject of slavery in the halls of Congress could be induced by the
application of new States to be admitted into the Union. But in
1845, when Texas, a foreign, an independent, and a slave State, was
annexed to the Union, the subject of an increase in the number of
slave States came again into discussion, in which angry sectional
feeling was carried to a dangerous point. Texas was finally admitted
into the Union as a slaveholding State, with a right to divide
herself into four new States, with or without slavery; but one of
the express conditions of the annexation was a recognition of the
Missouri Compromise line, so that north of that line no new State
could be framed out of any portion of Texas unless slavery should be
excluded from it. The wisdom and policy of the Missouri Compromise
were thus again recognized, and it remained undisturbed for a period
of thirty-four years from the time of its enactment, as a covenant
of peace between the North and the South.

The war between the United States and Mexico, which was terminated
by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, resulted in the
acquisition by the United States of a vast region of country which
was not embraced by the Missouri Compromise. At the time of this
acquisition, Mr. Buchanan earnestly advocated the extension of the
line of 36° 30´ through the whole of this new territory to the
Pacific Ocean, as the best mode of adjustment.

It is not necessary in this historical sketch to dwell on the
advantages or disadvantages of this plan. All that needs to be said
about it here is, that it commended itself to Mr. Buchanan as a plan
more acceptable to the people of both sections of the Union than any
other that could be devised. It was defeated by the proposal of the
so-called “Wilmot Proviso,” which aimed to exclude slavery from all
possible introduction into any part of this newly acquired
territory, without regard to the principle of division which was the
characteristic of the Missouri Compromise, and without recognizing
any claim of the slaveholding States to an equal enjoyment of the
common territory of the Union, in the manner in which they asserted
that claim. The Southern claim was that of a right to emigrate into
any Territory of the United States, with slaves, as part of the
property of the emigrant, just as a Northern man could emigrate into
such a Territory with whatever personal property he chose to take
with him. When, therefore, the admission of California as a State,
and the organization of Territorial governments for the other
provinces of Mexico that had been ceded to the United States came
before Congress, they came accompanied by a great sectional
excitement, that was partly due to the anti-slavery agitation that
had been going on in the North, and partly to the struggle for an
increase of the political power of the free States on the one side,
and of the slave States on the other, according as the future
character of these new acquisitions might be determined.

Having now reached the year 1850, the reader stands at a period at
which the character of freedom had been long impressed upon the
whole of the Northwestern Territories; at which the character of the
whole region of the Louisiana purchase had been for thirty years
determined by the principle of the Missouri Compromise; and at
which, what remained to be done was to adjust, by a final
settlement, the future character of the territory acquired from
Mexico, and to act upon any other questions concerning slavery that
demanded and admitted legislation by Congress. There were two such
questions that did not relate to the newly acquired territory. One
of these concerned the toleration of the domestic slave trade in the
District of Columbia, the abolition of which was loudly demanded by
the North. The other related to a Southern demand of a more
efficient law for the extradition of fugitives from service.

The Thirty-first Congress, assembled in December, 1849, was the one
which enacted the series of measures known as the “Compromise of
1850,” and which settled all the slavery questions that remained for
adjustment. In respect to the territory that had been acquired from
Mexico, there was danger for a time that all harmony of action would
be frustrated by the so-called “Wilmot Proviso,” which aimed to
impose as a fundamental condition of any legislation respecting any
part of that territory, a perpetual exclusion of slavery. Mr.
Buchanan was out of public office at this time, but his influence
was exerted in his own State, with success, to prevent the passage
by her legislature of instructing resolutions in favor of that
proviso. This led the way for its rejection by Congress. On the 4th
of February, 1850, resolutions favoring the proviso were laid upon
the table of the House of Representatives in Congress, by the vote
of 105 to 75. This important vote was followed in the Senate by five
measures, designed by Mr. Clay and supported by Mr. Webster and Mr.
Calhoun, which, after a long discussion, became laws in September,
1850, with the general concurrence of both the Whig and the
Democratic parties. The first of these Acts consisted of a new and
more efficient law for the extradition of fugitives from service, to
take the place of the old law of February 12th, 1793, which bore the
signature of Washington. By reason of a decision of the Supreme
Court, made in 1842, which had determined that Congress could not
constitutionally require State magistrates to perform a duty which
the Court declared to be one pertaining exclusively to the Federal
power, the law of 1793 had become almost inoperative. Although the
decision of the Court left the States at liberty to allow their
magistrates to act in such cases, many of the Northern States had
passed laws to prohibit them from rendering any official aid to the
claimant of a fugitive from service. It had become necessary,
therefore, for Congress to provide officers of Federal appointment
to execute an express mandate of the Federal Constitution. This was
the purpose of the new law of 1850.

The second of these “compromise measures” was an Act for the
immediate admission of California into the Union, as a free State,
embracing its whole territory, both south and north of the line of
the Missouri Compromise. The third and fourth measures were Acts for
the establishment of Territorial governments in New Mexico and Utah,
which secured to them respectively the right of admission as States
into the Union, “with or without slavery as their respective
constitutions might require.” The Act relating to New Mexico
declared that “no citizen of the United States shall be deprived of
his life, liberty or property in said Territory, except by the
judgment of his peers and the laws of the land;” thus making, from
abundant caution, a provision of the Federal Constitution obligatory
upon the Territorial legislature. Thus these two Acts, along with
the Missouri Compromise, comprehended all the territory belonging to
the United States, whether derived from Mexico or from France; there
was no territory remaining for the Wilmot Proviso to act upon, and
consequently the agitation of that proviso was excluded from the
halls of Congress. Moreover, the Act for establishing the Territory
of New Mexico withdrew from the jurisdiction of a slave State all
that portion of Texas which lay north of the parallel of 36° 30´, by
including it within the boundary of New Mexico. The fifth of the
compromise measures of 1850 was a law abolishing the domestic slave
trade within the District of Columbia.

It is not singular that a final settlement, which disposed of all
the slavery questions on which Congress could in any way act, should
have been acceptable to the people of the whole Union, excepting the
extremists of the two sections. The abolitionists of the North
denounced it, because it admitted of the possible and theoretical
establishment of slavery in New Mexico, notwithstanding the patent
fact that neither the soil nor the climate of that region could ever
make it a profitable form of labor, and because it recognized and
provided for the execution of that provision of the Constitution
which required the extradition of fugitives from service. The
extreme men of the South disliked the settlement, because it
admitted the great and rich State of California as a free State. But
when the Presidential election of 1852 approached, the general
approval of this settlement was made manifest. The national
convention of the Whig party nominated as its candidate for the
Presidency General Scott, who was supposed to be somewhat closely
affiliated, both personally and politically, with public men who
opposed and continued to denounce the compromise. But in their
“platform” the Whigs pledged themselves to maintain it as a binding
settlement, and to discountenance all attempts in or out of Congress
to disturb it. The Democratic national convention not only made
equally emphatic declarations of their purpose to maintain this
settlement inviolate, but by nominating a candidate who could not be
suspected of any lukewarmness on this, the great political question
of the time, they secured a majority of the electoral votes of both
free and slave States that was almost unprecedented. General Pierce
received 254 electoral votes out of 296, or 105 votes more than were
necessary to a choice. All the free States, excepting Massachusetts
and Vermont, and all the slave States, excepting Kentucky and
Tennessee, gave him their electoral votes. Never did a party come
into power with greater strength, and never was there a more
distinct political issue than that which placed General Pierce at
the head of the Government. The people at large distrusted the
soundness of the Whig candidate and his friends upon the compromise
of 1850, and being determined to maintain that settlement as final,
and to have no more agitation of slavery questions in Congress, they
entrusted the destinies of the country to the Democratic party.

But as not infrequently happens, the Democrats were in a majority so
large that it became unwieldy; and before the administration of
General Pierce had closed, a step was taken that was to lead to the
most serious consequences. This step was the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise. The settlement, or “compromise” of 1850, made by the
consentaneous action of the North and the South, rested, as on a
corner stone, upon the inviolable character of the settlement of
1820, known as the Missouri Compromise. To preserve that earlier
compromise intact, was to preserve the later one; for if the
settlement made in 1820 in regard to all the territory derived from
France should be renounced, the door would be open for the
renunciation of the settlement made in 1850 respecting New Mexico
and Utah. Sweep away the compact which dedicated the whole Louisiana
territory north of 36° 30´ to perpetual freedom, and which gave to
the South whatever parts of it below that line might be adapted to
slave labor, and all Territories everywhere would be subject to a
new contention over the dogma that slavery did or that it did not go
into every Territory by virtue of a right derived from the
Constitution of the United States. There was no security for the
peace and harmony of the country, but to act upon the principle that
the settlement of 1850 rested for its foundation upon the inviolable
character and perpetual duration of the settlement of 1820.

But in all free countries governed by political parties, and
especially at times when the party in power is in an extraordinary
majority, there are always men who feel that they are wiser than
others, and who are apt to couple their own aims as statesmen,
looking to the highest honors of their country, with new plans for
the management of public affairs. Such a man was the late Stephen
A. Douglas, a Senator in Congress from the State of Illinois from
1847 until his death, in 1861; a distinguished leader of the
Democratic party, who had been several times a candidate for the
nomination by his party to the Presidency. This very able man, who
had a considerable body of friends attached to him from his
energetic and somewhat imperious qualities, had been a strenuous
supporter of the Compromise of 1850, and had rendered very
efficient service in the adoption of that settlement. He seems to
have been somewhat suddenly led, in 1854, to the adoption of the
idea that it would be wise to repeal the Missouri Compromise, and
that in its place might be substituted a doctrine that the people
of a Territory have the same right and ought to have the same
sovereign power, while in the Territorial condition, to shape
their domestic institutions in their own way, as the people of a
State. He does not appear to have had the foresight to see that
the practical application of this doctrine would lead, in the
circumstances of the country, to a sectional struggle for the
possession and political dominion of a Territory, between
slaveholders and non-slaveholders, without the superintending and
controlling authority of Congress to prevent such a conflict by
determining the character of the Territory one way or the other.
As he could not remove the Missouri settlement without attacking
the constitutional power of Congress to legislate as it might see
fit on the condition of a Territory, he boldly determined to make
that attack, and to put in the place of the authority of Congress
the doctrine of “popular sovereignty” as a substitute for
Congressional legislation on the relations of master and slave.
When this ill-advised legislation, which tended in the most direct
manner to concentrate into political organization the Northern
dislike of slavery, received the sanction of the President,
General Pierce, on the 30th of May, 1854, Mr. Buchanan was out of
the country. He never approved of it, and had he been at home, it
is quite certain that it would have encountered his strenuous

Turning now aside from the history of these successive settlements,
and the modes in which they were unsettled, in order to appreciate
the condition of feeling between the two sections of the Union at
the time when the election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency was
effected exclusively by the electoral votes of the free States, the
reader should learn something of the history of the anti-slavery
agitation in the North; something of the effort to extend the
political power of the slave States as a barrier against anticipated
encroachments upon Southern rights; and something of the causes
which led to the assertion of the supposed right of State secession
from the Union, as a remedy against dangers apprehended to be in
store for the people of the South.

By the universal admission of all persons, whatever were their
sentiments or feelings concerning slavery, the Constitution of the
United States conferred no power upon Congress to act on it in any
State of the Union. This was as much acknowledged by the early
abolitionists as by all other men. They regarded the Constitution as
a “pro-slavery” instrument. They admitted that the supreme law of
the land recognized and to a certain extent upheld the principle
that slaves were property; and they therefore sought for a
justification of their attacks upon the Constitution in what they
denominated the “higher law,” which meant that when the individual
citizen believes that the moral law is in conflict with the law of
the land, the latter cannot rightfully bind his conscience or
restrain his conduct. Proclaiming it to be sinful to live in a
political confederacy which tolerated slavery anywhere within its
limits, they began by denouncing the Constitution as a “league with
death and a covenant with hell;” and it was not long before this
doctrine of the higher law was preached from pulpits and
disseminated by numerous publications in the New England States. The
dates of the organized anti-slavery societies are important to be
observed, because of the spontaneous movement in Virginia towards
the removal of slavery which shortly preceded them. The New England
Anti-slavery Society was organized in Boston, on the 30th of
January, 1832; the New York Society in October, 1833; and the
National Society at Philadelphia in December, 1833. Affiliated local
societies of the same kind sprang up at once in many towns and
villages of the North. At the time when these organizations were
first gathered, and for a long period thereafter, there was no
pending question upon the subject of the extension of slavery into
Territories of the United States. The country had been reposing
since 1820 upon the Missouri settlement; it was not until 1845 that
any addition of slave territory was threatened; and at the moment
when the first anti-slavery society was organized in Boston,
Virginia was on the verge of emancipating her slaves. Accordingly,
the nature, purposes and methods of the Northern anti-slavery
agitation between the year 1832 and the annexation of Texas in 1845,
and thence to the year 1860, form a most important subject of
political study.

The founders of the Northern anti-slavery societies, while taking
their stand in opposition to the Constitution, had yet, in all that
they asked Congress to do, to address themselves to a public body
every member of which had taken an oath to support that instrument.
In their own communities, those who carried on the agitation could
appeal to the emotional natures of men, women and children upon the
wrongs and the sin of slavery, and fill them with hatred of the
slaveholder, without discriminating between questions on which the
citizens of a non-slaveholding State could and those on which they
could not legitimately act. A great moral force of abhorrence of
slavery could thus be, and in fact was, in process of time
accumulated. This force expended itself in two ways; first, in
supplying to the managers of the agitation the means of sending into
the Southern States, pamphlets, newspapers and pictorial
representations setting forth the wrongs and cruelties of slavery.
For this purpose, the mails of the United States had, by the year
1835, been so much used for the circulation in the South of matter
which was there regarded as incendiary and calculated to promote
servile insurrections, that President Jackson deemed it to be his
duty to propose legislation to arrest such abuses of the post
office. Congress did not adopt his recommendation, and the abuse
remained unchecked.[58] Another mode in which the anti-slavery
agitation expended itself was in petitions to Congress. During the
session of 1835-6, and for several of the following years, Congress
was flooded with what were called “abolition petitions.” On some of
them Congress could legitimately act: such as those which prayed for
the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and in the
forts, arsenals, and dock-yards of the United States situated in
slaveholding States. On others, which petitioned for a dissolution
of the Union on account of the existence of slavery in some of the
States, or for action on the subject of slavery in general, Congress
of course could do nothing. A question arose whether such petitions
could be received at all, which led to a very memorable and a very
excited discussion of the right of petition. Not only was a large
part of the time of Congress taken up with these topics, but the
opposing representatives of the two sections were guilty of excesses
in crimination and recrimination, which foreshadowed the formation
of two geographical parties, one Northern and the other Southern,
having nothing but slavery as the cause of their division.

Footnote 58:

  See the message of President Jackson, December 3, 1835. It is not
  intended in the text to express any opinion whether the abuse
  could or could not have been restrained in the way proposed. The
  fact that the President of the United States deemed it his duty to
  make this recommendation attests the character of the abuse which
  he sought to remedy.

One of the questions to which those who are to come after us will
seek for an answer, will be, what was the justification for this
anti-slavery agitation, begun in 1832 and continued for a period of
about ten years, during which there was no special effort on the
part of the South to extend the area of slavery? What, again, was
the unquestionable effect of this agitation in producing a revulsion
of feeling on the whole subject of slavery among the slaveholders
themselves? Was the time propitious for the accomplishment of any
good? Were the mode, the method, and the spirit of the agitation
such as men would resort to, who had a just and comprehensive sense
of the limitations upon human responsibility?

The time was most unfortunate. The Southern conscience did not then
need to be quickened or enlightened on the inherent wrong of African
slavery; nor did it need to be told that the system was one that
inflicted many evils upon society. Plans of emancipation, which the
Southerners themselves were far better fitted to form than any one
who was a stranger to their social condition, had already begun to
be considered by enlightened men in more than one of the older
Southern States. All that could be done by others who were beyond
their limits, to aid them in any aspect of the subject, was limited
by just such restraints as apply to any evil existing in a community
to which it is confined, and on which strangers can offer nothing
but the most considerate and temperate discussion of remedies
originating among those who have the burthen to bear. The grand
error of our early abolitionists was that they would not observe the
limitations of human duty. They were either citizens or residents of
non-slaveholding States. Foreigners, in respect to this matter, to
the States in which slavery existed, they carried on their
discussions, publications and organizations in communities whose
public opinion could have but an extremely narrow and subordinate
right to act on the subject at all. They either disregarded the fact
that the Constitution of the United States could never have been
established if it had not recognized the exclusive right of each
Southern State to govern the relation of master and slave—nay, that
the foreign slave trade without that Constitution could not have
been ended when it was, if at all—or else they denounced the
Constitution as an emanation from the bottomless pit. Grant that the
relation of servitude was a moral wrong, that the idea that man can
hold property in man was repugnant to the law of nature or the law
of God; grant that the political system of the Union, as our fathers
made it, ought to have been reformed by their descendants;—were
there no moral restraints resting upon those who enjoyed the
advantages and blessings of a Union which had been purchased by
certain concessions to the slaveholder? Did not the Constitution
itself provide for regular and peaceful changes which the progress
of society and the growing philanthropy of the age might find to be
necessary to the fuller practical development of the great truths of
liberty? Was there no way to deal with slavery but to attack the
slaveholder as a sinner, stained with the deepest of crimes against
God and his fellow-men? Was there nothing to be done to aid him in
ridding himself of the burthen of his sin, by discussing with him
the economical problems of his situation? Was it necessary for
strangers to demand instant and unqualified manumission, regardless
of what was to follow? Was it necessary to assail the Constitution
as an unholy covenant with sin, and, rejecting its restraints, to
disregard the wisdom that takes human nature as it is, that is
careful not to provoke reaction, that looks before and after, and
shapes its measures with a rational forecast of their adaptation to
the end?

Whilst it is not to be denied that our “Abolitionists” were men of a
certain kind of courage developed into rashness, of unbounded zeal,
of singular energy, of persistent consistency with their own
principles of action, and of that fanatical force which is derived
from the incessant contemplation of one idea to the exclusion of all
others, it must nevertheless be said that they were not statesmen.
There was no one among them of whom it can be said that he acted
with a statesmanlike comprehension of the difficulties of this great
subject, or with a statesman’s regard for the limitations on
individual conduct. Their situation was very different from that of
the public or private men in England, who gallantly led the early
crusade against the slave trade, or of those who afterwards brought
about emancipation in the British colonies. Whatever Parliament
thought fit to do in regard to slavery under the British flag or in
the British dominions, it had ample power to do, and what Parliament
might be made to do, was for the nation to determine. An English
statesman or philanthropist had, in either character, no
constitutional restraints to consider. He had to deal with both
moral and economical questions, and he could deal freely with
either. He could use argument, persuasion, invective, or
denunciation, and he could not be told by the Jamaica slaveholder,
you have entered into a solemn public compact with me which secures
to me the exclusive cognizance of this domestic relation, and by
that compact you purchased the very existence of the general
government under which we both live. But a citizen of the United
States, or a foreigner, taking his stand in a free State, stirring
up popular hatred of the slaveholder, sending into the Southern
States publications which were there regarded as incendiary,
persuading legislative bodies in the North to act against one of the
express conditions of the Federal Union, and renouncing all
Christian fellowship with Southern churches, surely violated the
spirit and in some respects the letter of the Constitution. He
provoked a sudden revulsion of feeling in the South, and brought
about a state of opinion which aimed to maintain slavery by texts of
scripture, by the examples of other nations, by the teachings of
Christ and his apostles, by the assumed relations of races, by the
supposed laws of public economy, and the alleged requirements of a
southern clime. He promoted, by an effect as inevitable as the
nature of man, a purpose to defend slavery through an increase of
its political power, to which a multiplication of slave States would
make a large addition. He thus sowed the wind, and, left to another
generation to reap the whirlwind.

These assertions must not be left unsupported by proof, and the
proof is at hand. In all periods of our history, prior to the civil
war, Virginia exercised great influence over the whole slaveholding
region. I have said that she was on the verge of emancipation when
the first anti-slavery society was organized in the North; and
although half a century has since elapsed, there are those living
who, like myself, can recollect that she was so. But to others the
fact must be attested by proof. It may be asserted as positively as
anything in history that, in the year 1832, there was nowhere in the
world a more enlightened sense of the wrong and the evil of slavery,
than there was among the public men and the people of Virginia. The
movement against it was spontaneous. It reached the general assembly
by petitions which evinced that the policy and justice of
emancipation had taken a strong hold on the convictions of portions
of the people of the State, whom no external influence had then
reached, and who, therefore, had free scope. Any Virginian could
place himself at the head of this movement without incurring
hostility or jealousy, and it was a grandson of Jefferson, Mr.
Jefferson Randolph, by whom the leading part in it was assumed.

Mr. Randolph represented in the assembly the county of Albemarle,
which was one of the largest slaveholding counties of the State. He
brought forward a bill to accomplish a gradual emancipation. It was
debated with the freedom of men who, undisturbed by external
pressure, were dealing with a matter of purely domestic concern. No
member of the house defended slavery, for the day had not come when
Southern men were to learn that it was a blessing, because those who
knew nothing of its burthens told them that it was a curse. There
could be nothing said anywhere, there had been nothing said out of
Virginia, stronger and truer, in depicting the evils of slavery,
than was said in that discussion by Virginia gentlemen, debating in
their own legislature a matter that concerned themselves and their
people. But finding that the house was not prepared for immediate
action on so momentous a subject, Mr. Randolph did not press his
bill to a vote. A resolution, however, was adopted, by a vote of 65
to 58, which shows what was the condition of the public sentiment of
Virginia at that moment. It declared, as the sense of the house,
“that they were profoundly sensible of the great evils arising from
the condition of the colored population of the commonwealth, and
were induced by policy, as well as humanity, to attempt the
immediate removal of the free negroes; but that further action for
the removal of the slaves should await a more definite development
of public opinion.”

Mr. Randolph was again elected by his constituents, upon this
special question. But in the mean time came suddenly the
intelligence of what was doing at the North. It came in an alarming
aspect for the peace and security of the whole South; since it could
not be possible that strangers should combine together to assail the
slaveholder as a sinner and to demand his instant admission of his
guilt, without arousing fears of the most dangerous consequences for
the safety of Southern homes, as well as intense indignation against
such an unwarrantable interference. From that time forth,
emancipation, whether immediate or gradual, could not be considered
in Virginia or anywhere else in the South. Public attention became
instantly fixed upon the means of resisting this external and
unjustifiable intermeddling with a matter that did not concern those
who intermeddled. A sudden revulsion of public sentiment in Virginia
was followed by a similar revulsion wherever Southern men had begun
to consider for themselves what could be done for the amelioration
of the condition of the colored race and for ultimate emancipation.
As the Northern agitation went on, increasing in bitterness and
gathering new forces, Southern statesmen cast about for new devices
to strengthen the political power of their section in the Federal
Government. These devices are to be traced to the anti-slavery
agitation in the North as their exciting cause, as distinctly as
anything whatever in the history of sectional feeling can be traced
back from an effect to a cause which has produced it.

But this was not the whole of the evil produced by the anti-slavery
agitation. It prevented all consideration by the higher class of
Northern statesmen of any method of action by which the people of
the free States could aid their Southern brethren in removing
slavery; and it presented to Northern politicians of the inferior
order a local field for cultivating popularity, as the excitement
went on increasing in violence and swept into its vortex the voters
whose local support was found to be useful. That there was a line of
action on which any Northern statesman could have entered,
consistently with all the obligations flowing from the letter and
the spirit of the Federal Constitution, is perfectly plain.

While it was impracticable for the people of the North to act
directly upon slavery in any State through the Federal Government,
it was not impracticable for that Government to follow, with
cautious steps, in auxiliary measures to aid what it could not
initiate. There were States which were becoming ripe for changes in
the condition of their colored population. Of course such changes
could be proposed, considered and acted upon only in each of those
States, as a measure that concerned its own domestic condition. But
there were many ways in which the Federal Government, without
transcending its constitutional powers, could incidentally assist
any State in what the State had of itself determined to do. The line
which separated what the Federal power could legitimately and
properly do from what was prohibited to it by every political and
moral consideration, was not difficult to be discovered. For
example, if the State of Virginia had in 1832-33 adopted any system
for colonizing her negroes, what was there to prevent the Federal
Government from granting a portion of the public lands for such a
purpose? If the subject of prospective emancipation had been
approached in this manner, without the disturbance produced by the
anti-slavery societies of the North, who can doubt that experiments
of the utmost consequence could have been tried, and tried
successfully, in a country possessing an almost boundless public
domain? But the sudden irruption of those societies into the field,
their disregard of all prudential and all constitutional restraints,
their fierce denunciations of the slaveholder, their demand for
instant and unqualified manumission, at once converted a question
which should have remained a matter for joint and friendly
coöperation of the two sections, into a struggle for political
supremacy of one section over the other in the councils of the
Federal Government. All measures and tendencies in the South, which
might have opened the way for subsidiary aid on the part of the
Federal power, were at once arrested; and it became a study with
Southern statesmen how they were to raise new barriers for the
defence of slavery, by increasing the political power of their
section within the Union. The old barriers had become, in their
eyes, but a feeble defence against those who proclaimed that the
Union itself was an accursed thing, and that if immediate
emancipation of the slaves was not adopted, the Union ought to be
broken up.

While it is true that the doctrines of the abolitionists were at
first regarded by the great body of the Northern people as the
ravings of fanatics, insomuch that they were sometimes subjected to
popular violence, they were nevertheless making progress. Year after
year the agitation was carried on in the same spirit, and year after
year the excitement on the whole subject of slavery continued to
grow until it reached a fresh impulse in the proposed annexation of
Texas. It should in justice be remembered that the effort at that
period to enlarge the area of slavery was an effort on the part of
the South, dictated by a desire to remain in the Union, and not to
accept the issue of an inherent incompatibility of a political union
between slaveholding and non-slaveholding States. It was not at this
period that the Southern States embraced, or were much disposed to
embrace, the doctrine of “secession.” The views of the nature of the
Union, maintained by their most distinguished and powerful
statesman, Mr. Calhoun, in 1830-33, led logically to the deduction
that every State has, by the terms of the Federal compact, a right
to quit the Union when, in its own judgment, it deems that step
necessary. But no considerable body of persons in the South, out of
his own State, accepted his premises or followed them to their
conclusion, until long after he was in his grave; nor did he himself
propose secession as a remedy against what he and the whole South
regarded as the unwarrantable aggressions of the Northern
abolitionists. He aimed to strengthen the political power of his
section within the Union, and his whole course in regard to the
acquisition of Texas shows his conviction that if that country were
not brought under our dominion, there would be an exposed frontier,
from which England and the American abolitionists would operate
against slavery in the Southern section of the United States. The
previous history of the Union shows very plainly that prior to the
commencement of the Northern anti-slavery agitation, the political
equilibrium between the two sections had not been seriously

At the period which I am now considering, the public men of the
North who acted an important part in national affairs, and who
belonged, as Mr. Buchanan unquestionably did belong, to the higher
class of statesmen, had to act with a wise circumspection on this
subject of slavery. There was nothing that such a man could do, if
he regarded his public duty with an American statesman’s sense of
public obligation, but to stand aloof from and to discountenance
what was wrong in the doings of the anti-slavery agitators. In this
course of conduct he had often to discriminate between conflicting
claims of constitutional rights that unquestionably belonged to
every citizen of the United States, and acts which no citizen had a
right to do, or which it was in the highest and plainest sense
inexpedient to allow him to do. In these conflicts, right and wrong
became at times so mixed and intricate, that it required a resolute
and clear intellect to separate them, and a lofty courage in meeting
obloquy and misrepresentation. It was an easy matter, in the
exciting period of those slavery questions, to impute to a Northern
man of either of the great political parties of the time, a base
truckling to the South for his own ambitious purposes. After ages
must disregard the ephemeral vituperation of politics, and must
judge the statesmen of the past by the situation in which they
stood, by the soundness of their opinions, by their fidelity to
every unquestionable right, by the correctness of their policy, and
by the purity of their characters and their aims. There has been a
passionate disposition in our day to judge the public men of the
North, who had to act in great and peculiar crises of the sectional
conflict, and who did not give themselves up to a purely sectional
spirit, by a standard that was inapplicable to their situation,
because it was unjust, illogical and inconsistent with the highest
ideas of public duty in the administration of such a Government as

The anti-slavery agitation, begun in the North at the time and
carried on in the mode I have described, is to be deplored, because
of the certainty that sudden emancipation, which was alone
considered or cared for by the abolitionists, must be fraught with
great evils.

In whatever way sudden, universal and unqualified emancipation was
to be enforced, if it was to happen the negro could not be prepared
for freedom. He must take his freedom without one single aid from
the white man to fit him to receive it. Wise and thoughtful
statesmen saw this—the abolitionist did not see it. Men who had
passed their lives in the business of legislation and government,
knew full well, not only that the fundamental political bond of the
Union forbade interference by the people of the free States with the
domestic institutions of the slave States, but that emancipation
without any training for freedom could not be a blessing. Men who
had passed their lives in an emotional agitation for instant freedom
did not see or did not care for the inevitable fact, that freedom
for which no preparation had been made could not be a boon. When the
emancipation came, it came as an act of force applied in a civil war
and in the settlements which the war was claimed to have entailed as
necessities. No preparatory legislation, no helpful training in
morality and virtue, no education, no discipline of the human being
for his new condition, had prepared the negro to be a freeman.
While, therefore, it may be and probably is true, that the whites of
our Southern States have reason to rejoice, and do rejoice, in the
change which they deprecated and against which they struggled, it is
not true that the colored race have the same reason for
thankfulness. The Christianity and the philanthropy of this age have
before them a task that is far more serious, more weighty and more
difficult, than it would have been if the emancipation had been a
regulated process, even if its final consummation had been postponed
for generations. To this day, after twenty years of freedom, the
church, the press, society and benevolence have to encounter such
questions as these:—Whether the negro is by nature vicious,
intractable, thriftless—the women incurably unchaste, the men
incurably dishonest; whether the vices and the failings that are so
deplorable, and apparently so remediless, are to be attributed to
centuries of slavery, or are taints inherent in the blood. Who can
doubt that all such questions could have been satisfactorily
answered, if the Christianity of the South had been left to its own
time and mode of answering them, and without any external force but
the force of kindly respectful coöperation and forbearing Christian

It is a cause for exultation that slavery no longer exists in the
broad domain of this Republic—that our theory and our practice are
now in complete accord. But it is no cause for national pride that
we did not accomplish this result without the cost of a million of
precious lives and untold millions of money.

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise during the administration of
President Pierce (May, 1854), followed, as it was three years
afterwards, by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States,
that Congress could not constitutionally prohibit slavery in a
Territory of the States, gave a vast impetus to the tendencies which
were already bringing about a consolidation of most of the elements
of the anti-slavery feeling of the North into a single political
party. When Mr. Buchanan became the nominee of the Democratic party
for the Presidency, although the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
had already taken place, the decision of the Supreme Court in the
celebrated case of “Dred Scott” had not occurred,[59] and
consequently the Republican party, for this and other reasons, had
not acquired sufficient force to enable it to elect its candidate,
General Fremont. But during the administration of Mr. Buchanan, the
scenes which occurred in Kansas and which were direct consequences
of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, with the added excitement
which followed the announcement by a majority of the judges of the
Supreme Court of doctrines which the people of the North would not
accept, there was a field for sectional political action, such as
the Union had never before known. So that when the Republican party,
in the spring of 1860, assembled its delegates in convention at
Chicago, for the nomination of its candidates for the Presidency and
the Vice Presidency, adopted a “platform” on which no Southern man
of any prominence could place himself, and selected Northern
candidates for both offices, it was plain that the time had come
when there was to be a trial of political strength between the two
sections of the Union.

Footnote 59:

  This case was decided in March, 1857, just after Mr. Buchanan’s

The “Chicago platform,” on which Mr. Lincoln was nominated and
elected as the candidate of the Republican party, while repudiating
with great precision the idea that Congress could in any way act
upon slavery in the States, contained the following resolution on
the subject of slavery in the Territories of the United States:

  “That the normal condition of all the territory of the United
  States is that of freedom; that as our republican fathers, when
  they had abolished slavery in all our national territory, ordained
  that 'no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property
  without due process of law,' it becomes our duty, by legislation,
  whenever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision
  of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we
  deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial legislature, or
  of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any
  Territory of the United States.”

On the motives that dictated the assertion of this doctrine, I have
no speculations to offer, for I am not dealing with motives. That it
was a new political doctrine, and that it was a new departure in the
legislation of Congress on this subject of slavery in Territories
cannot be doubted. It rejected entirely the principle on which
Congress had acted for many years, for there had been acts of
Congress which had given legal existence to slavery in a Territory,
and acts of Congress which had prohibited it. It rejected the
principle of the Missouri Compromise, which had sanctioned an agreed
division of the Territories into those where slavery might not and
those where it might be allowed. It rejected all claim of right on
the part of the Southern slaveholder to take his slave property into
a Territory and have it there recognized as property while the
Territorial condition remained. It was a reading of the Constitution
diametrically opposed to the Southern reading. The political men who
framed this “platform” doubtless considered that the time had come
for a direct antagonism between the North and the South on this
subject, so that it might be decided by the votes of the people in a
Presidential election, whether the Southern claim for recognition of
slave property in any Territory of the United States, wherever
situated, was to prevail or be rejected. That such antagonism was
the consequence and the purpose of this declaration of a new
principle of action on this subject will be denied by no one.

It is equally certain that a political party could not come into the
field in a contest for the Presidency upon such a declaration,
without drawing into the discussion the whole subject of slavery as
a domestic institution, or a condition of society, both in States
and Territories. The intention was to draw a well defined line
between the relations of Congress to slavery in the States and the
relations of Congress to slavery in the Territories. Yet in the
excitements of a Presidential canvass, the Republican party of
necessity gathered into its folds those who had been for years
regardless of that distinction, and who assailed slavery in the
regions which were under the legislative power of Congress for the
purpose of assailing it everywhere. The campaign literature, the
speeches, the discussions, which dwelt on “the irrepressible
conflict” between slavery and freedom, and which proclaimed the
issue to be whether the United States would sooner or later become a
slaveholding nation or a free-labor nation—whether the Northern
States were to remain free or to become slave States—set forth with
great distinctness in the writings and the harangues, could have no
other effect than to array the two sections of the Union in a bitter
hostility, while in the South there were those who believed, or
affected to believe, that the people of the North, if successful in
electing a President upon this basis, would put forth all their
efforts to destroy slavery everywhere, as an institution
incompatible with the continued existence of freedom in the North.
All this hazard might, however, have been encountered and parried if
the Democratic party had been in a condition to nominate a suitable
candidate upon a “platform” fit to be opposed to that of the
Republicans, and capable of commending itself alike to Northern and
Southern voters. But when this party assembled in convention at
Charleston, on the 23d of April, 1860, it was in no condition to do
any good to the Union or to itself. If Mr. Buchanan had been a
younger man, and had been disposed to be a second time a candidate
for the Presidency, he might have united his party upon a basis of
action in regard to this dangerous matter of slavery in the
Territories, that would have commanded the support of a sufficient
number of States, Northern as well as Southern, to have elected him.
But he was averse to any longer continuance in public life, and he
was well aware how much Mr. Douglas had done which had tended to
divide the Northern and the Southern wings of his party. On the 14th
of April, 1860, he sent to Charleston the following letter, which
put an end to the idea, so far as it may have been entertained, of
his being regarded as a candidate for the nomination by the
Democratic National Convention.


                                    WASHINGTON CITY, April 14, 1860.


  I address you not only as a delegate from Pennsylvania to the
  Charleston Democratic National Convention, but as an old and
  valued friend. Whilst trusting that no member of that body will
  propose my name as a candidate for reëlection, yet, lest this
  might possibly prove to be the case, I require you, then,
  immediately to inform the Convention, as an act of justice to
  myself, that in no contingency can I ever again consent to become
  a candidate for the Presidency. My purpose to this effect was
  clearly indicated both in accepting the Cincinnati nomination, and
  afterwards in my inaugural address, and has since been repeated on
  various occasions, both public and private. In this determination
  neither my judgment nor my inclination has ever for a moment
  wavered. Deeply grateful to the great Democratic party of the
  country, on whose continued ascendancy, as I verily believe, the
  prosperity and perpetuity of our Confederate Republic depend, and
  praying Heaven that the Convention may select as their candidate
  an able, sound and conservative Democrat, in whose support we can
  all cordially unite.—I remain, very respectfully, your friend,

                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

It is not at all difficult to see what Mr. Buchanan would have
recommended if he had been asked to shape the action of his party.
It is well known that he held it to be both right and expedient to
recognize the claim of Southern emigrants into the Territories to an
equal participation in the common domain of the Union, so far as to
have their property in slaves admitted during the continuance of the
Territorial condition. But he would have qualified this claim of
right by the application of the principle of the Missouri
Compromise; that is, by admitting it in Territories south of the
line of 36° 30´, and by excluding it in Territories north of that
line. This had been the former practice of Congress, and there could
be no good reason now for not expecting the people of the North to
make this concession to the South, excepting that Mr. Douglas had
indoctrinated a portion of the Northern Democrats with his panacea
of “popular sovereignty,” which was just as unacceptable to the
South as the principles of the “Chicago platform.”

Accordingly, when the Democratic Convention assembled at Charleston,
it soon found itself in an inextricable confusion of opinions as to
the nature and extent of the powers of a Territorial legislature,
and as to the authority and duties of Congress, under the
Constitution of the United States, over slavery in the Territories.
While it was in the power of this Democratic Convention to
antagonize the Republican party with a platform, simple, reasonable
and just to all sections, on which the votes of all sections could
be asked, it became divided into a Northern and a Southern faction,
and wholly lost the opportunity of appealing to a national spirit of
harmony and good-will. The Northern faction, inspired by Mr.
Douglas, insisted on the adoption of his principle of “popular
sovereignty,” which ignored the Southern claim of a property right
protected by the Constitution. The Southern faction insisted on the
recognition of that right, in a way that ignored the governing
authority of both Congress and Territorial legislature.

Without some compromise, there could be no common platform and no
common candidate. After many ineffectual attempts to agree upon a
platform, and after some secessions of Southern delegates, fifty
ballotings for a candidate were carried on until the 3d of May. The
highest number of votes received at any time by Mr. Douglas was
152½, 202 being necessary to a nomination. The other votes were
scattered among different Northern and Southern men. The convention
then adjourned, to meet at Baltimore on the 18th of June, with a
recommendation that the party in the several States fill up all
vacancies in their respective delegations.[60] The result was that
when assembled at Baltimore, a dispute about the delegations
entitled to seats ended in a disruption of the convention into two
bodies, the one distinctly Northern, the other distinctly Southern.
The Northern Democratic Convention nominated Mr. Douglas as its
candidate, of course upon his platform of “popular sovereignty.” The
Southern Democratic Convention nominated Mr. Breckinridge as its
candidate, upon a platform of coequal rights of all the States in
all the Territories. Thus perished every hope of uniting the
Democratic party upon a political basis that would antagonize the
Republican platform in a sensible manner, and afford a reasonable
chance of preventing a sectional political triumph of the North over
the South, or of the free over the slave States.[61]

Footnote 60:

  It appears from the following letter, written by General Dix to
  Mr. Buchanan, after the Charleston Convention had adjourned, that
  the course of the New York delegation in that body was not
  acceptable to their constituents:

                                              NEW YORK, May 9, 1860.


  The course of the New York delegation at Charleston has caused
  great dissatisfaction here, and earnest efforts will be made
  before the meeting at Baltimore to induce a change of action on
  the part of the majority. Mr. Douglas is not the choice of the
  Democracy of this State; and if he were, we think it most
  unreasonable to attempt to force on the States which must elect
  the Democratic candidate (if he can be elected), a man they do not
  want. We hope for the best, but not without the deepest concern.

  I took the liberty of sending to you the address of the Democratic
  General Committee of this city, published about three weeks ago.
  It takes substantially the ground of the majority report from the
  Committee on Resolutions at Charleston, and we think the New York
  delegation should have supported them. I believe this is the
  general feeling in this State. It certainly is in this city and
  the southern counties. I have thought it right to say this to you,
  and to express the hope that the New York delegation will go to
  Baltimore prepared to sustain a candidate who will be acceptable
  to our Southern friends. At all events, no effort will be spared
  to bring about such a result.

                              I am, dear sir, sincerely yours,
                                                        JOHN A. DIX.

Footnote 61:

  It should be said that the convention, when assembled at
  Baltimore, became divided into two conventions, in consequence of
  the withdrawal of the delegations of some of the most southern of
  the Southern States, after they found that the friends of Mr.
  Douglas were determined to thrust him upon them as the candidate.
  It has been said that this was done to prevent any nomination, and
  thereby to prepare the way for a dissolution of the Union. It is
  more reasonable to believe that it was done to prevent the
  nomination of a particular candidate. But if these delegates had
  remained, Mr. Douglas could not have been nominated, and a
  compromise candidate might have been selected, so as to preserve
  the unity and strength of the party. For this reason, the
  withdrawal was rash and unwise, for it brought into the field a
  distinctly Southern Democratic candidate, with a distinctly
  Southern platform. Mr. Douglas obtained the electoral vote of no
  Southern, and Mr. Breckinridge obtained the electoral vote of no
  Northern State.

Mr. Buchanan, after the two factions of the Democratic party had
made their nominations, pursued the course which became him as an
outgoing President. As a citizen, he had to choose between Mr.
Breckinridge and Mr. Douglas. The former represented more nearly the
political principles of Mr. Buchanan than any other candidate whom
he could support, and it was to Mr. Breckinridge that he gave all
the support which it was proper for him to give to any one. But his
views of the whole situation are apparent in the following letter,
written in July, 1860:—

                    [MR. BUCHANAN TO C. COMSTOCK.]

                                           WASHINGTON, July 5, 1860.


  I have received yours of the 3d inst., and although I do not write
  letters on the subject to which it refers, I have determined to
  address you a few lines.

  The equality of the States in the Territories is a truly
  Democratic doctrine which must eventually prevail. This is all for
  which I have ever contended. The Supreme Court of the United
  States,—a coördinate branch of the Government, to which the
  decision of this question constitutionally belongs, have affirmed
  this equality, and have placed property in slaves upon the same
  footing with all other property. Without self-degradation, the
  Southern States cannot abandon this equality, and hence they are
  now all in a flame. Non-intervention on the part of Congress with
  slavery in the Territories, unless accompanied by non-intervention
  on the part of the Territorial legislatures, amounts to nothing
  more in effect than to transfer the Wilmot Proviso from Congress
  to these legislatures. Whilst the South cannot surrender their
  rights as coequal States in the confederacy, what injury can it
  possibly do to the Northern States to yield this great Democratic
  principle? If they should not do this, then we will have the
  Democratic party divided, South and North, just as the Methodist
  Church has been divided, and another link binding the Union
  together will be broken. No person can fairly contend that either
  assemblage at Baltimore, at the time the nominations were made,
  was a Democratic National Convention; hence every Democrat is free
  to choose between the two candidates. These are, in brief, my
  sentiments. I regret that they so widely differ from your own. You
  have taken your own course, which you had a perfect right to do,
  and you will, I know, extend a similar privilege to myself.

                                  Yours very respectfully,
                                                     JAMES BUCHANAN.

The sole part that was taken by President Buchanan, in any public
manner, in the election of 1860, was in a speech which he made from
the portico of the White House, on the evening of July 9th, when a
great crowd assembled in front of the mansion and called him out. In
the course of his remarks, he said:

  I have ever been the friend of regular nominations. I have never
  struck a political ticket in my life. Now, was there anything done
  at Baltimore to bind the political conscience of any sound
  Democrat, or to prevent him from supporting Breckinridge or Lane?
  [“No! no!”] I was contemporary with the abandonment of the old
  Congressional convention or caucus. This occurred a long time ago;
  very few, if any, of you remember it. Under the old Congressional
  convention system, no person was admitted to a seat except the
  Democratic members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
  This rule rendered it absolutely certain that the nominee, whoever
  he might be, would be sustained at the election by the Democratic
  States of the Union. By this means it was rendered impossible that
  those States which could not give an electoral vote for the
  candidate when nominated, should control the nomination and
  dictate to the Democratic States who should be their nominee.

  This system was abandoned—whether wisely or not, I shall express
  no opinion. The National Convention was substituted in its stead.
  All the States, whether Democratic or not, were equally to send
  delegates to this convention according to the number of their
  Senators and Representatives in Congress.

  A difficulty at once arose which never could have arisen under the
  Congressional convention system. If a bare majority of the
  National Convention thus composed could nominate a candidate, he
  might be nominated mainly by the anti-Democratic States against
  the will of a large majority of the Democratic States. Thus the
  nominating power would be separated from the electing power, which
  could not fail to be destructive to the strength and harmony of
  the Democratic party.

  To obviate this serious difficulty in the organization of a
  National Convention, and at the same time to leave all the States
  their full vote, the two-thirds rule was adopted. It was believed
  that under this rule no candidate could ever be nominated without
  embracing within the two-thirds the votes of a decided majority of
  the Democratic States. This was the substitute adopted to retain,
  at least in a great degree, the power to the Democratic States
  which they would have lost by abandoning the Congressional
  convention system. This rule was a main pillar in the edifice of
  national conventions. Remove it and the whole must become a ruin.
  This sustaining pillar was broken to pieces at Baltimore by the
  convention which nominated Mr. Douglas. After this the body was no
  longer a national convention; and no Democrat, however devoted to
  regular nominations, was bound to give the nominee his support; he
  was left free to act according to the dictates of his own judgment
  and conscience. And here, in passing, I may observe that the
  wisdom of the two-thirds rule is justified by the events passing
  around us. Had it been faithfully observed, no candidate could
  have been nominated against the will and wishes of almost every
  certain Democratic State in the Union, against nearly all the
  Democratic Senators, and more than three-fourths of the Democratic
  Representatives in Congress. [Cheers.]

  I purposely avoid entering upon any discussion respecting the
  exclusion from the convention of regularly elected delegates from
  different Democratic States. If the convention which nominated Mr.
  Douglas was not a regular Democratic convention, it must be
  confessed that Breckinridge is in the same condition in that
  respect. The convention that nominated him, although it was
  composed of nearly all the certain Democratic States, did not
  contain the two-thirds; and therefore every Democrat is at perfect
  liberty to vote as he thinks proper, without running counter to
  any regular nomination of the party. [Applause and cries of “three
  cheers for Breckinridge and Lane.”] Holding this position, I shall
  present some of the reasons why I prefer Mr. Breckinridge to Mr.
  Douglas. This I shall do without attempting to interfere with any
  individual Democrat or any State Democratic organization holding
  different opinions from myself. The main object of all good
  Democrats, whether belonging to the one or the other wing of our
  unfortunate division, is to defeat the election of the Republican
  candidates; and I shall never oppose any honest and honorable
  course calculated to accomplish this object.

  To return to the point from which I have digressed, I am in
  favor of Mr. Breckinridge, because he sanctions and sustains the
  perfect equality of all the States within their common
  Territories, and the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United
  States, establishing this equality. The sovereign States of this
  Union are one vast partnership. The Territories were acquired by
  the common blood and common treasure of them all. Each State,
  and each citizen of each State, has the same right in the
  Territories as any other State and the citizens of any other
  State possess. Now what is sought for at present is, that a
  portion of these States should turn around to their sister
  States and say, “We are holier than you are, and while we will
  take our property to the Territories and have it protected
  there, you shall not place your property in the same position.”
  That is precisely what is contended for. What the Democratic
  party maintain, and what is the true principle of Democracy is,
  that all shall enjoy the same rights, and that all shall be
  subject to the same duties. Property—this Government was framed
  for the protection of life, liberty, and property. They are the
  objects for the protection of which all enlightened governments
  were established. But it is sought now to place the property of
  the citizen, under what is called the principle of squatter
  sovereignty, in the power of the Territorial legislature to
  confiscate it at their will and pleasure. That is the principle
  sought to be established at present; and there seems to be an
  entire mistake and misunderstanding among a portion of the
  public upon this subject. When was property ever submitted to
  the will of the majority? [“Never.”] If you hold property as an
  individual, you hold it independent of Congress or of the State
  legislature, or of the Territorial legislature—it is yours, and
  your Constitution was made to protect your private property
  against the assaults of legislative power. [Cheers.] Well, now,
  any set of principles which will deprive you of your property,
  is against the very essence of republican government, and to
  that extent makes you a slave; for the man who has power over
  your property to confiscate it, has power over your means of
  subsistence; and yet it is contended, that although the
  Constitution of the United States confers no such power—although
  no State legislature has any such power, yet a Territorial
  legislature, in the remote extremities of the country, can
  confiscate your property!

  [A VOICE. “They can't do it; they ain't going to do it.”]

  There is but one mode, and one alone, to abolish slavery in the
  Territories. That mode is pointed out in the Cincinnati platform,
  which has been as much misrepresented as anything I have ever
  known. That platform declares that a majority of the actual
  residents in a Territory, whenever their number is sufficient to
  entitle them to admission as a State, possess the power to “form a
  constitution with or without domestic slavery, to be admitted into
  the Union upon terms of perfect equality with the other States.”
  If there be squatter sovereignty in this resolution, I have never
  been able to perceive it. If there be any reference in it to a
  Territorial legislature, it has entirely escaped my notice. It
  presents the clear principle that, at the time the people form
  their constitution, they shall then decide whether they will have
  slavery or not. And yet it has been stated over and over again
  that, in accepting the nomination under that platform, I endorsed
  the doctrine of squatter sovereignty. I suppose you have all heard
  this repeated a thousand times.

  [A VOICE. “We all knew it was a lie!”]

  Well, I am glad you did.

  How beautifully this plain principle of constitutional law
  corresponds with the best interests of the people! Under it,
  emigrants from the North and the South, from the East and the West
  proceed to the Territories. They carry with them that property
  which they suppose will best promote their material interests;
  they live together in peace and harmony. The question of slavery
  will become a foregone conclusion before they have inhabitants
  enough to enter the Union as a State. There will then be no
  “bleeding Kansas” in the Territories; they will all live together
  in peace and harmony, promoting the prosperity of the Territory
  and their own prosperity, until the time shall arrive when it
  becomes necessary to frame a constitution. Then the whole question
  will be decided to the general satisfaction. But, upon the
  opposite principle, what will you find in the Territories? Why,
  there will be strife and contention all the time. One Territorial
  legislature may establish slavery and another Territorial
  legislature may abolish it, and so the struggle will be continued
  throughout the Territorial existence. The people, instead of
  devoting their energies and industry to promote their own
  prosperity, will be in a state of constant strife and turmoil,
  just as we have witnessed in Kansas. Therefore, there is no
  possible principle that can be so injurious to the best interests
  of a Territory as what has been called squatter sovereignty.

  Now, let me place the subject before you in another point of view.
  The people of the Southern States can never abandon this great
  principle of State equality in the Union without self-degradation.
  [“Never!”] Never without an acknowledgment that they are inferior
  in this respect to their sister States. Whilst it is vital to them
  to preserve their equality, the Northern States surrender nothing
  by admitting this principle. In doing this they only yield
  obedience to the Constitution of their country as expounded by the
  Supreme Court of the United States. While for the North it is
  comparatively a mere abstraction, with the South it is a question
  of co-equal State sovereignty in the Union.

  If the decrees of the high tribunal established by the
  Constitution for the very purposes are to be set at naught and
  disregarded, it will tend to render all property of every
  description insecure. What, then, have the North to do? Merely to
  say that, as good citizens, they will yield obedience to the
  decision of the Supreme Court, and admit the right of a Southern
  man to take his property into the Territories, and hold it there
  just as a Northern man may do; and it is to me the most
  extraordinary thing in the world that this country should now be
  distracted and divided because certain persons at the North will
  not agree that their brethren at the South shall have the same
  rights in the Territories which they enjoy. What would I, as a
  Pennsylvanian, say or do, supposing anybody was to contend that
  the legislature of any Territory could outlaw iron or coal within
  the Territory? [Laughter and cheers.] The principle is precisely
  the same. The Supreme Court of the United States have
  decided,—what was known to us all to have been the existing state
  of affairs for fifty years,—that slaves are property. Admit that
  fact, and you admit everything. Then that property in the
  Territories must be protected precisely in the same manner with
  any other property. If it be not so protected in the Territories,
  the holders of it are degraded before the world.

  We have been told that non-intervention on the part of Congress
  with slavery in the Territories is the true policy. Very well. I
  most cheerfully admit that Congress has no right to pass any law
  to establish, impair or abolish slavery in the Territories. Let
  this principle of non-intervention be extended to the Territorial
  legislatures, and let it be declared that they in like manner have
  no power to establish, impair or destroy slavery, and then the
  controversy is in effect ended. This is all that is required at
  present, and I verily believe all that will ever be required.
  Hands off by Congress and hands off by the Territorial
  legislature. [Loud applause.] With the Supreme Court of the United
  States I hold that neither Congress nor the Territorial
  legislature has any power to establish, impair or abolish slavery
  in the Territories. But if, in the face of this positive
  prohibition, the Territorial legislature should exercise the power
  of intervening, then this would be a mere transfer of the Wilmot
  proviso and the Buffalo platform from Congress, to be carried into
  execution in the Territories to the destruction of all property in
  slaves. [Renewed applause.]

  An attempt of this kind, if made in Congress, would be resisted by
  able men on the floor of both houses, and probably defeated. Not
  so in a remote Territory. To every new Territory there will be a
  rush of free-soilers from the Northern States. They would elect
  the first Territorial legislature before the people of the South
  could arrive with their property, and this legislature would
  probably settle forever the question of slavery according to their
  own will.

  And shall we for the sake of squatter sovereignty, which, from its
  nature, can only continue during the brief period of Territorial
  existence, incur the risk of dividing the great Democratic party
  of the country into two sectional parties, the one North and the
  other South? Shall this great party which has governed the country
  in peace and war, which has raised it from humble beginnings to be
  one of the most prosperous and powerful nations in the world—shall
  this party be broken up for such a cause? That is the question.
  The numerous, powerful, pious and respectable Methodist Church has
  been thus divided. The division was a severe shock to the Union. A
  similar division of the great Democratic party, should it
  continue, would rend asunder one of the most powerful links which
  binds the Union together.

  I entertain no such fearful apprehensions. The present issue is
  transitory, and will speedily pass away. In the nature of things
  it cannot continue. There is but one possible contingency which
  can endanger the Union, and against this all Democrats, whether
  squatter sovereigns or popular sovereigns, will present a united
  resistance. Should the time ever arrive when Northern agitation
  and fanaticism shall proceed so far as to render the domestic
  firesides of the South insecure, then, and not till then, will the
  Union be in danger. A united Northern Democracy will present a
  wall of fire against such a catastrophe!

  There are in our midst numerous persons who predict the
  dissolution of the great Democratic party, and others who contend
  that it has already been dissolved. The wish is father to the
  thought. It has been heretofore in great peril; but when divided
  for the moment, it has always closed up its ranks and become more
  powerful, even from defeat. It will never die whilst the
  Constitution and the Union survive. It will live to protect and
  defend both. It has its roots in the very vitals of the
  Constitution, and, like one of the ancient cedars of Lebanon, it
  will flourish to afford shelter and protection to that sacred
  instrument, and to shield it against every storm of faction.
  [Renewed applause.]

  Now, friends and fellow-citizens, it is probable that this is the
  last political speech that I shall ever make. [A VOICE. “We hope
  not!”] It is now nearly forty years since I first came to
  Washington as a member of Congress, and I wish to say this night,
  that during that whole period I have received nothing but kindness
  and attention from your fathers and from yourselves. Washington
  was then comparatively a small town; now it has grown to be a
  great and beautiful city; and the first wish of my heart is that
  its citizens may enjoy uninterrupted health and prosperity. I
  thank you for the kind attention you have paid to me, and now bid
  you all a good-night. [Prolonged cheering.]

The observations contained in this chapter on the anti-slavery
agitation have been made because that agitation and its consequences
are great historical facts, necessary to be considered in a just
appreciation of the conduct of any American statesman who acted an
important part in national affairs during the quarter of a century
that preceded the civil war. The detail of Mr. Buchanan’s course on
this subject, down to the time when he became President, has been
given, and need not be repeated.

He was one of the earliest of the public men of the North to
discover and to point out the tendency of this agitation. That he
denounced it boldly and sincerely cannot be denied, even by those
who may not have held, or who do not now hold, the same opinions
concerning the “abolitionists” and their measures. He endeavored, at
an early period, to keep his own State of Pennsylvania free from the
adoption of such dogmas as the “higher law,” and to have its people
appreciate the mischiefs which the anti-slavery societies were
producing in the South. It is easy to impute this course to his
political relations to the Democratic party and to the dictates of
his own ambition as one of its principal Northern leaders, who, in
any future prospect of political honors beyond those which his own
State could bestow, might have to look to Southern support. But is
there no sensible, patriotic, sound and unselfish motive, no honest
and well grounded conviction, discoverable in what he did and said?
If his opinions about this agitation were substantially in
accordance with those of wise and judicious men, who could not have
been influenced by party spirit or personal objects, they may claim
to have been sincere and just, as certainly as they may claim to
have been courageously uttered.

It will not be doubted that when the abolition agitation began,
there was at least one man in the North, who, from his deep and
fervid interest in whatever concerned the rights of human nature and
the welfare of the human race, from his generous love of liberty and
his philanthropic tendencies, might be expected to welcome any
rational mode of removing the reproach and the evil of slavery from
the American name and the condition of American society. Such a man
was that celebrated New England divine, William Ellery Channing.
What his feelings were about the slavery that existed in our
Southern States, all who know anything of his character and his
writings know full well. His position as a clergyman and his
relations to the moral and spiritual condition of the age, put out
of the question the possibility of any political motive, other than
that broad, high and comprehensive view of public policy which was
above all the interests of party, and beyond all personal
considerations. If such a man foresaw the dangerous tendencies of
the abolition agitation, conducted in and from the North, and at the
same time discovered that the evil of slavery ought to be and might
be dealt with in a very different spirit and by far other means, it
is rational to conclude that men in public life and in political
positions might well place themselves in opposition to the spread of
such principles and the adoption of such methods as those of the
anti-slavery societies of the North. It was, in truth, the one thing
which it was their duty, as statesmen, to do.[62]

Footnote 62:

  Dr. Channing’s attention was first drawn to the Northern
  anti-slavery agitation in the year 183-, and there is nowhere on
  record a more remarkable prophecy than that which he then made of
  the effect of this agitation upon the people of the South. It is
  contained in a letter which he then wrote to Mr. Webster, and
  which has been public ever since the publication of Mr. Webster’s
  collected works.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

                      GENERAL SCOTT'S “VIEWS.”

While during the month of October (1860) President Buchanan was
anxiously watching the course of public events, he was surprised by
receiving from General Scott, the General-in-chief of the Army, a
very extraordinary paper. It was written on the 29th of October,
from New York, where the General had his headquarters, and was
mailed to the President on the same day. On the 30th the General
sent a corrected copy to the Secretary of War, with a supplement.
These papers became known as General Scott’s “views.” He lent copies
of them to some of his friends, to be read; and although they did
not immediately reach the public press, their contents became pretty
well known in the South through private channels. From them the
following facts were apparent:

  FIRST.—That before the Presidential election, General Scott
  anticipated that there would be a secession of one or more of the
  Southern States, in the event of Mr. Lincoln’s election; and that
  from the general rashness of the Southern character, there was
  danger of a “preliminary” seizure of certain Southern forts, which
  he named.

  SECOND.—That the secession which General Scott deprecated was one
  that would produce what he called a “gap in the Union;” that he
  contemplated, as a choice of evils to be embraced instead of a
  civil war, the allowance of a division of the Union into four
  separate confederacies, having contiguous territory; and that he
  confined the use of force, or a resort to force, on the part of
  the Federal Government, to the possible case of the secession of
  some “interior” States, to reestablish the continuity of the
  Federal territory. This he considered might be regarded as a
  “correlative right,” balancing the right of secession, which he
  said might be conceded “in order to save time.”

  THIRD.—That his provisional remedy, or preliminary caution, viz:
  The immediate garrisoning of the Southern forts sufficiently to
  prevent a surprise or _coup de main_, was confined to the possible
  or probable case of a secession that would make a “gap” in the
  Union, or break the continuity of the Federal territory. He
  excluded from the scope of his “provisional remedies” the
  secession of Texas, or of all the Atlantic States south of the
  Potomac, as neither would produce a “gap” in the Union.

  FOURTH.—That for the application of his “provisional remedies,” he
  had at his command but five companies of regular troops, to
  prevent surprises of the nine Southern forts which he named; and
  that as to “regular approaches,” nothing could be said or done
  without calling for volunteers.

  FIFTH.—That in the meantime the Federal Government should collect
  its revenue outside of the Southern cities, in forts or on board
  ships of war: and that after any State had seceded, there should
  be no invasion of it, unless it should happen to be an “interior”

  SIXTH.—That the aim of his plan was to gain eight or ten months to
  await measures of conciliation on the part of the North, and the
  subsidence of angry feelings in the South.

If these “views,” palpably impracticable and dangerous, had remained
unknown in the hands of the President, there would have been no
necessity for commenting on them in this work, especially as
subsequent events rendered them of no importance. But they did not
remain unknown. They became the foundation, at a later period, of a
charge that President Buchanan had been warned by General Scott,
before the election of Mr. Lincoln, of the danger of leaving the
Southern forts without sufficient garrisons to prevent surprises,
and that he had neglected this warning. Moreover, in these “views,”
the General-in-chief of the Army, addressing the President, had
mingled the strangest political suggestions with military movements,
on the eve of a Presidential election which was about to result in a
sectional political division. It is therefore necessary for me to
bestow upon these “views” a degree of attention which would
otherwise be unnecessary.

These papers were addressed by the General-in-chief of the Army of
the United States to a President who utterly repudiated the alleged
right of secession, by any State whatever, whether lying between
other States remaining loyal, or on the extreme boundary of the
Union. Becoming known to the Southern leaders who might be disposed
to carry their States out of the Union in the event of Mr. Lincoln’s
election, they would justify the inference that in one case at
least, that of a secession which did not make a “gap” in the Union,
the General-in-chief of the Federal Army would not draw his sword to
compel the inhabitants of the seceded region to submit to the laws
of the United States. In regard to the “provisional remedies” which
the general advised, let it be observed that if the President had
had at his disposal the whole army of the United States, the
introduction into the Southern forts of a larger or a smaller force,
at such a moment, however officially explained, could have been
regarded in the South only as a proof that President Buchanan
expected secession to be attempted, and that he was preparing for a
civil war, to be waged by him or his successor. The right of the
Federal Government to place its own troops in its own forts, without
giving offence to any one, was perfectly apparent; but it was
equally apparent that on the eve of this election, or during the
election, or at any time before any State had adopted an ordinance
of secession, such a step could not have been taken as anything but
an indication that the Federal Government was preparing to prevent
by force the people of any State from assembling to consider and act
upon their relations to the Government of the United States. Now a
very great part of the popular misapprehension of President
Buchanan’s policy, purposes and acts, which has prevailed to the
present day, has arisen from the total want of discrimination
between what the Federal Government could and what it could not
rightfully do, in anticipation of the secession of a State or
States. It has been a thousand times inconsiderately asked, why Mr.
Buchanan did not nip secession in the bud.

In the first place, the Federal Government, however great might be
the physical force at its command, could at no time have done
anything more than enforce the execution of its own laws and
maintain the possession of its own property. To prevent the people
of a State, by any menace of arms, from assembling in convention to
consider anything whatever, would have been to act on the assumption
that she was about to adopt an ordinance of secession, and on the
farther assumption that such an act must be forestalled, lest it
might have some kind of validity. The Executive of the United States
was not bound, and was not at liberty, to act upon such assumptions.
There were many ways in which a State convention could peacefully
take into consideration the relations of its people to the Federal
Union. They might lawfully appeal to the sobriety and good feeling
of their sister States to redress any grievances of which they
complained. There might be, we know that in point of fact there was,
a strong Union party in most of the Southern States, and the
President of the United States, in the month of October, 1860, would
have been utterly inexcusable, if he had proclaimed to the country
that he expected this party to be overborne, and had helped to
diminish its members and weaken its power, by extraordinary
garrisons placed in the Southern forts, in anticipation of their
seizure by lawless individuals, when such an exhibition must
inevitably lead the whole people of the South to believe that there
was to be no solution of the sectional differences but by a trial of
strength in a sectional civil war. Mr. Buchanan was far too wise and
circumspect a statesman to put into the hands of the secessionists
such a means of “firing the Southern heart,” before it was known
what the result of the Presidential election would be. It was his
plain and imperative duty not to assume, by any official act, at
such a time, that there was to be a secession of any State or

But, in the second place, even if other good reasons did not exist,
there were but five companies of regular troops, or four hundred
men, available for the garrisoning of nine fortifications in six
highly excited Southern States. How were they to be distributed?
Distributed equally, they would have amounted to a reinforcement of
forty-four men and a fraction in each fort. In whatsoever
proportions they might be distributed, according to the conjectured
degree of exposure of the various posts, the movement could have
been nothing but an invitation of attack, which the force would have
been entirely inadequate to repel. The whole army of the United
States then consisted of only eighteen thousand men. They were, with
the exception of the five companies named by General Scott,
scattered on the remote frontiers and over the great Western plains,
engaged in the protection of the settlers and the emigrant trains;
and for this duty their numbers were, and had long been, and have
ever since been, notoriously inadequate. At a later period, after
President Buchanan had retired from office, General Scott, in a
controversy in the public prints which he thought proper to provoke
with the ex-President, referred to six hundred recruits in the
harbor of New York and at Carlisle barracks in Pennsylvania, which,
added to the five companies mentioned in his “views,” would have
made a force of one thousand men; and while he admitted that this
force would not have been sufficient to furnish “war garrisons” for
the nine Southern forts, he maintained that they would have been
quite enough to guard against surprises. But it is to be noted that
in his “views” of October, 1860, he made known to the President that
there were _only_ the five companies, which he named, “within reach,
to garrison the forts mentioned in the views;” and, moreover, he was
mistaken, in November, 1862, in supposing that he had obtained these
recruits when he wrote his “views,” nor did he, in October or
November, 1860, in any manner suggest to the President that there
were any more than the five companies available. Had he made any
military representations to the President before the election, other
than those contained in his “views,” it cannot be doubted that they
would have received all the consideration due to his official
position and his great military reputation.[63]

Footnote 63:

  It is a remarkable fact that when President Lincoln was
  inaugurated, five months after General Scott sent his “views” to
  President Buchanan, and it was feared that the inauguration might
  be interrupted by violence of some kind, he was able to assemble
  at Washington but six hundred and fifty-three men, of the rank and
  file of the army. This number was made up by bringing the sappers
  and miners from West Point. Yet, down to that period, no part of
  the army, excepting the five companies referred to by General
  Scott in his “views,” had been disposed of anywhere but where the
  presence of a military force was essential to the protection of
  the settlers on the frontiers and the emigrants on the plains. No
  one could have known this better than General Scott, for it was
  his official duty to know it, and it is plain that his “views”
  were written with a full knowledge of the situation of the whole

But General Scott’s “views” produced, and ought to have produced, no
impression upon the mind of the President. That part of them which
suggested a military movement was entirely impracticable. The
political part, which related to the aspects of secession, its
possible admission in one case and its denial in another, was of no
value whatever to anybody but those who believed in the doctrine.
With the exception of such circulation of these “views” as General
Scott permitted by giving copies of them to his friends, they
remained unpublished until the 18th of January, 1861. On that day
they were published, by General Scott’s permission, in the _National
Intelligencer_ at Washington, the editors saying that they had
obtained a copy of them for publication because allusion had been
made to them both in the public prints and in public speeches. This
document, therefore, in an authentic shape, was made public in the
midst of the secession movement, after the States of South Carolina,
Florida, Mississippi and Alabama had adopted their ordinances of
secession, and while the people of Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and
Arkansas were deliberating upon their course.[64] The President at
that time passed over this publication in silence, for reasons which
he afterwards assigned in the public controversy between General
Scott and himself in October and November, 1862.

Footnote 64:

  At the time of this publication of General Scott’s “views,” of the
  States which seceded before the attack on Fort Sumter, four had
  adopted ordinances of secession, and three had not acted. The
  eighth State, Arkansas, did not act until after Sumter.

And here it may be appropriate, before proceeding farther with the
narrative, to advert to a suggestion which has been again and again
repeated in a great variety of forms, by those who have criticised
Mr. Buchanan’s course in regard to the reinforcement of the Southern
forts. General Scott himself, after the election of Mr. Lincoln, in
the middle of December, 1860, in a note which he addressed to the
President, referred to the course pursued by President Jackson in
regard to nullification, in 1832-33; and it has long been one of the
current questions, asked as if it were unanswerable,—why did not Mr.
Buchanan imitate the firmness, boldness and decision with which
General Jackson dealt with the “Nullifiers,” and proceed to garrison
the Southern forts before the election of Mr. Lincoln? Having
already shown the impracticability of such a step, from the want of
the necessary forces, and its great political inexpediency even if
the necessary force had been within his reach, it only remains for
me to point out that there was no parallel between the situation of
things under General Jackson in 1832-33, and the state of the
country under President Buchanan in 1860-61. South Carolina stood
alone in her resistance to the collection of the revenue of the
United States, in 1832-33; nor, whatever might be the steps which
she would have the rashness to take in preventing the execution of a
single law of the United States within her borders, there was no
danger that any other State would become infected with her political
heresies, or imitate her example. What General Jackson had to do was
to collect the revenue of the United States in the port of
Charleston. For this purpose, prior to the issue of his
proclamation, and while the so-called ordinance of nullification was
pending in the convention of South Carolina, he took preliminary
steps, by placing in the harbor a sufficient military and naval
force to insure the execution of a single Federal statute, commonly
called the “tariff.” For this purpose he had ample authority of law,
under the Act of March 3, 1807, which authorized the employment of
the land and naval forces, when necessary, to execute the laws of
the United States through the process of the Federal tribunals. He
had, moreover, the necessary forces practically at his disposal. So
far as these forces would consist of troops, their proper
destination was Fort Moultrie in Charleston harbor; but their
presence in that fort was deemed necessary, not to prevent an
anticipated seizure of it by the State authorities, but to aid in
the execution of the revenue law in case it should be resisted. For
this purpose, in March, 1833, he sent a small military force to Fort
Moultrie, and a sloop of war, with two revenue cutters, to
Charleston harbor. General Scott was sent to Charleston to take the
command of these forces, if it should become necessary for them to
act. He arrived there on the day after the passage of the
Nullification ordinance. The proclamation of General Jackson, the
passage of Mr. Clay’s Compromise Tariff Bill, and the passage of the
Force Bill, put an end to any actual collision between the State and
the Federal authorities.

How different was the state of the country in 1860, before the
election of Mr. Lincoln! A generation of men had grown up in the
South, many of whom held the supposed right of State secession
from the Union as a cardinal feature of their political and
constitutional creed. The sole ground for any apprehension of a
practical assertion of this doctrine was the contingent election of
a President nominated upon a “platform” obnoxious to the people of
the slaveholding States. In such a state of affairs, was it for a
President, whose administration was to expire in five months, to
adopt the foregone conclusion that the Republican candidate would be
elected, and to add to this the further conclusion that his election
would be followed by a secession of States, which the people of the
North would take no conciliatory steps to prevent after the
Republican candidate had been elected? Was President Buchanan to
throw a military force into the Southern forts, even if he had had a
sufficient force within his reach, and thus to proclaim to the whole
people of the South, the loyal and the disloyal, that in his
judgment there would be but one issue out of the election of Mr.
Lincoln—an issue of physical force between the two sections of the
country? In what condition would this have placed his successor, and
the great political party which was aiming to obtain for that
successor the control of the Government? Surely Mr. Lincoln and his
political supporters would have had the gravest reason to complain,
if Mr. Buchanan, before the election, had, by any act of his own not
palpably and imperatively necessary, caused it to be believed by the
whole Southern people that there was and could be no alternative but
to put their anticipated dangers, their alleged grievances, and the
doctrine of secession along with them, at once to the arbitrament of
the sword. We have it on Mr. Buchanan’s own solemn assertion, the
sincerity of which there can be no reason to doubt, that he
considered it his highest duty so to shape his official course
during the remainder of his term, as to afford to the secessionists
of the South no excuse for renouncing their allegiance to the
Federal Union, and to hand the government over to his successor,
whoever he might be, without doing a single act that would tend to
close the door of reconciliation between the two sections of the
country, then unfortunately divided by the political circumstances
of the pending election. This was the keynote of his policy, formed
before the election of Mr. Lincoln, and steadily followed through
every vicissitude, and every changing aspect of the great drama
enacting before his eyes. It is easy to reason backward from what
occurred, and to say that he should have garrisoned the Southern
forts, in anticipation of their seizure. History does not, or should
not, pass upon the conduct of statesmen in highly responsible
positions, by pronouncing in this _ex post facto_ manner on what
they ought to have anticipated, when men of equally good
opportunities for looking forward did not anticipate what
subsequently occurred. It was not the belief of the leading public
men in the Republican party, before the election of Mr. Lincoln, the
men who were likely to be associated with him in the Government,
that there would be any secession. If they had believed it, they
would certainly have been guilty of great recklessness if they had
not acted upon that belief, at least so far as to warn the country,
in their respective spheres, to be prepared for such an event. It is
one of the most notorious truths in the whole history of that
election, that the political supporters of Mr. Lincoln scouted the
idea that there was any danger of secession to be apprehended.

General Scott’s suggestion of such danger to Mr. Buchanan, in the
month of October, 1860, and the impracticable advice which he then
gave, if it had been published before the election, would have been
laughed at by every Republican statesman in the country, or would
have been indignantly treated as a work of supererogation,
unnecessarily suggesting that the election of the Republican
candidate was to be followed by an attempted disruption of the
Union. Undoubtedly, as the event proved, the political friends of
Mr. Lincoln were too confident that no secession would be attempted;
and into that extreme confidence they were led by their political
policy, which did not admit of their allowing the people of the
North to believe that there could be any serious danger to the
country in their political triumph. If the people of the North had
believed in that danger, the Republican candidate would not have
been elected. It did not become the Republican leaders, therefore,
after the election, and it never can become any one who has
inherited their political connection, to blame Mr. Buchanan for not
taking extraordinary precautions against an event which the
responsible leaders of the party, prior to the election, treated as
if it were out of all the bounds of probability.[65]

Footnote 65:

  It will be seen that I do not regard the election of Mr. Lincoln
  as a defiance of the South, nor do I consider that the threats of
  secession, so far as such threats were uttered in the South, had
  much to do with the success of the Republican candidate.
  Multitudes of men voted for that candidate in no spirit of
  defiance towards the South, and his popular vote would have been
  much smaller than it was, if it had been believed at the North
  that his election would be followed by an attempted disruption of
  the Union.

And here, too, it is well to advert to a charge which relates to
Mr. Buchanan’s administration of the Government prior to the
election of his successor. This charge, to which a large measure
of popular credence has long been accorded, is, that the Secretary
of War, Mr. Floyd, had for a long time pursued a plan of his own
for distributing the troops and arms of the United States in
anticipation of a disruption of the Union at no distant day. But
such a charge is of course to be tried by a careful examination of
facts, and by a scrupulous attention to dates. One of the most
important facts to be considered is, that Secretary Floyd, who
came in 1857 into Mr. Buchanan’s cabinet from Virginia—a State
that never had, down to that time and for a long period
thereafter, many secessionists among her public men—was not of
that political school until after he left the office of Secretary
of War. He was a Unionist, and a pronounced one, until he chose,
as a mere pretext, to say that he differed with the President in
regard to the policy which the President thought proper to
pursue.[66] But from the fact that he became a secessionist and
denounced the President, after he left the cabinet, and the
foolish boast which he made that he had, while Secretary of War,
defeated General Scott’s plans and solicitations respecting the
forts, the inference has been drawn that he had good reason for
advancing that claim upon the consideration of his new political
allies in the Southern section of the country. Mr. Floyd by no
means appears to me to have been a man of scrupulous honor. The
fact that he had been compelled to resign his place on account of
a transaction in no way connected with the secession of any State,
led him, in a spirit of sheer self-glorification, to give
countenance to a charge which, if it had been true, would not only
have reflected great discredit on the President, but which would
have involved the Secretary himself in the heinous offence of
treachery to the Government whose public servant he was. No man
could have thus overshot his own mark, who had a careful regard
for facts which he must have known: for no one could have known
better than Mr. Floyd that he had no influence whatever in
defeating any plans which General Scott proposed to the President
in his “views” of October, 1860, and no one could have known
better than he that the troops and arms of the United States had
not been distributed with any sinister design. But Mr. Floyd’s
subsequent vaporings, after he left the cabinet, misled General
Scott into the belief that there had been great wrong committed
while he was Secretary of War, and caused the General, in October
and November, 1862, to give his sanction to charges that were
quite unfounded.

Footnote 66:

  See _post_, for the history of Secretary Floyd’s resignation.

It is proper to hear Mr. Buchanan himself, in regard to his refusal
to garrison the Southern forts in October or November, 1860,
according to the recommendations in General Scott’s “views.”

  This refusal is attributed, without the least cause, to the
  influence of Governor Floyd. All my cabinet must bear me witness
  that I was the President myself, responsible for all the acts of
  the administration; and certain it is that during the last six
  months previous to the 29th December, 1860, the day on which he
  resigned his office, after my request, he exercised less influence
  on the administration than any other member of the cabinet. Mr.
  Holt was immediately thereafter transferred from the Post Office
  Department to that of War; so that, from this time until the 4th
  March, 1861, which was by far the most important period of the
  administration, he [Mr. Holt] performed the duties of Secretary of
  War to my entire satisfaction.[67]

Footnote 67:

  Letter from Mr. Buchanan to the Editors of the _National
  Intelligencer_, October 28, 1862.—If the reader chooses to consult
  the controversy of 1862 between General Scott and Mr. Buchanan, he
  will find there the sources from which General Scott drew his
  conclusions. One of them was information given to him while the
  controversy was going on, in a telegram from Washington, sent by a
  person whose name he did not disclose. A reference to Mr.
  Buchanan’s last letter in the controversy will show how he
  disposed of this “nameless telegram.” The period when the alleged
  improper transfers of arms into the Southern States were said to
  have occurred was, as Mr. Buchanan states, long before the
  nomination of Mr. Lincoln, and nearly a year before his election.
  General Scott’s reply to this shows that in 1862 he had convinced
  himself that the revolt of the Southern States had been planned
  for a long time before the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, and that it
  was to be carried out in the event of the election of any Northern
  man to the Presidency. It had become the fashion in 1862, in
  certain quarters, to believe, or to profess to believe, in this
  long-standing plot. There are several conclusive answers to the
  suggestion: 1st. It is not true, as a matter of fact, that at any
  time before the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, there were any
  transfers of arms to the South which ought to have led even to the
  suspicion of the existence of such a plot. 2d. That it is not
  true, as a matter of fact, that at any time after Mr. Lincoln’s
  nomination, and before his election, there were any transfers of
  arms whatever from the Northern arsenals of the United States into
  the Southern States. 3d. That after Mr. Lincoln’s election, viz.,
  in December, 1860, a transfer of ordnance from Pittsburgh, in
  Pennsylvania, to Mississippi and Texas, which had been ordered by
  Secretary Floyd a few days before he left office, was immediately
  countermanded by his successor, Mr. Holt, by order of the
  President, and the guns remained at Pittsburgh. 4th. That the
  entire political history of the country, prior to the nomination
  of Mr. Lincoln, and prior to the Democratic Convention at
  Charleston, does not afford a rational ground of belief that any
  considerable section of the Southern people, or any of their
  prominent political leaders, were looking forward to a state of
  parties which would be likely to result in the election of any
  Northern man, under circumstances that would produce a conviction
  among the people of the Southern States that it would be unsafe
  for them to remain in the Union. Even after the nomination of Mr.
  Lincoln, and after the division of the Democratic party into two
  factions, resulting in the nomination of two Democratic candidates
  (Breckinridge and Douglas), with a fourth candidate in the field
  (Bell), nominated by the “Old Line Whigs,” it was not so morally
  certain that the Republican candidate would be elected, as to give
  rise, before the election, to serious plots or preparations for
  dissolving the Union. Mr. Lincoln obtained but a majority of
  fifty-seven electoral votes over all his competitors. It was the
  sectional character of his 180 electoral votes, out of 303,—the
  whole 180 being drawn from the free States—and the sectional
  character of the “platform” on which he was nominated and elected,
  and not the naked fact that he was a Northern man, that the
  secessionists of the cotton States were able to use as the lever
  by which to carry their States out of the Union. Undoubtedly the
  Southern States committed the great folly of refusing to trust in
  the conservative elements of the North to redress any grievances
  of which the people of the South could justly complain. But I know
  of no tangible proofs that before the nomination of Mr. Lincoln
  there was any Southern plot to break up the Union in the event of
  the election of any Northern man. The reader must follow the
  precipitation of secession through the events occurring after the
  election, before he can reach a sound conclusion as to the causes
  and methods by which it was brought about. He will find reason to
  conclude, if he studies the votes in the seceding conventions of
  the cotton States prior to the attack on Fort Sumter, that even in
  that region there was a Union party which could not have been
  overborne and trampled down, by any other means than by appeals to
  unfounded fears, which the secession leaders professed to draw
  from the peculiar circumstances of the election. He will find
  reason to ask himself why it was, in these secession conventions,
  rapidly accomplished between December, 1860, and February, 1861,
  the Unionists were at last so few, and he will find the most
  important answer to this inquiry in the fact that it was because
  the advocates of secession, from the circumstances of the
  election, succeeded in producing the conviction that the whole
  North was alienated in feeling from the South, and was determined
  to trample upon Southern rights. It is a melancholy story of
  perversion, misrepresentation and mistake, operating upon a
  sensitive and excited people. But it does not justify the belief
  that the secession of those States was the accomplishment of a
  previous and long-standing plot to destroy the Union; nor, if such
  a plot ever existed, is there any reason to believe that any
  member of Mr. Buchanan’s cabinet was a party to it. General Scott,
  in 1862, adopted and gave currency to charges which had no
  foundation in fact, and which were originated for the purpose of
  making Mr. Buchanan odious to the country.

  The General, however, went further than the adoption of charges
  originated by others. He claimed credit for himself for the
  discovery and prevention of the “robbery” of the Pittsburgh
  ordnance. In his letter of November 8, 1862, he said:
  “Accidentally learning, early in March (!), that, under this
  _posthumous_ order, the shipment of these guns had commenced, I
  communicated the fact to Secretary Holt, acting for Secretary
  Cameron, just in time to defeat the robbery.” This was a tissue of
  absurd misstatements. Copies of the official papers relating to
  this order are before me. The order was given by the Ordnance
  Office on the 22d of December, 1860. The shipment of the guns was
  never commenced. General Scott had nothing to do with the
  countermand of the order. On the 25th of December, certain
  citizens of Pittsburgh telegraphed to the President that great
  excitement had been caused there by this order, and advising that
  it be immediately revoked. Floyd was Secretary of War when the
  order was given for the removal of the guns, but at that time he
  was not a secessionist, or aiding the secessionists. He tendered
  his resignation of the office on the 29th of December, under
  circumstances which will be fully related hereafter. It was
  promptly accepted, and Mr. Holt was appointed Secretary of War _ad
  interim_. By the President’s direction, Mr. Holt countermanded the
  order, and the guns remained at Pittsburgh. Judge Black, at the
  President’s request, investigated the whole affair, and made the
  following brief report to the President on the 27th: “Mr.
  President: The enclosed are the two orders of the War Department.
  I suppose the forts happened to be in that state of progress which
  made those guns necessary just at this time, and they were
  directed to be sent without any motive beyond what would have
  caused the same act at any other time.

                                                 Ever yours,
                                                       J. S. BLACK”.

Finally, it only remains for me to quote Mr. Buchanan’s more
elaborate account of his reasons for not acting upon General

Scott’s “views” of October, 1860, which he gave in the account of
his administration, published in 1866.[68]

Footnote 68:

  _Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion._ New
  York: D. Appleton & Co., 1866. This book will hereafter be
  referred to as “_Mr. Buchanan’s Defence_.” The history and reasons
  for this publication will be found in a future chapter.

  Such, since the period of Mr. Lincoln’s election, having been
  the condition of the Southern States, the “views” of General
  Scott, addressed before that event to the Secretary of War, on
  the 29th and 30th October, 1860, were calculated to do much
  injury in misleading the South. From the strange inconsistencies
  they involve, it would be difficult to estimate whether they did
  most harm in encouraging or in provoking secession. So far as
  they recommended a military movement, this, in order to secure
  success, should have been kept secret until the hour had arrived
  for carrying it into execution. The substance of them, however,
  soon reached the Southern people. Neither the headquarters of
  the army at New York, nor afterwards in Washington, were a very
  secure depository for the “views,” even had it been the author’s
  intention to regard them as confidential. That such was not the
  case may be well inferred from their very nature. Not confined
  to the recommendation of a military movement, by far the larger
  portion of them consists of a political disquisition on the
  existing dangers to the Union; on the horrors of civil war and
  the best means of averting so great a calamity; and also on the
  course which their author had resolved to pursue, as a citizen,
  in the approaching Presidential election. These were themes
  entirely foreign to a military report, and equally foreign from
  the official duties of the Commanding General. Furthermore, the
  “views” were published to the world by the General himself, on
  the 18th January, 1861, in the _National Intelligencer_, and
  this _without the consent or even previous knowledge of the
  President_. This was done at a critical moment in our history,
  when the cotton States were seceding one after the other. The
  reason assigned by him for this strange violation of official
  confidence toward the President, was the necessity for the
  correction of misapprehensions which had got abroad, “both in
  the public prints and in public speeches,” in relation to the

  The General commenced his “views” by stating that, “To save time
  the right of secession may be conceded, and instantly balanced by
  the correlative right on the part of the Federal Government
  against an _interior_ State or States to reestablish by force, if
  necessary, its former continuity of territory.” He subsequently
  explains and qualifies the meaning of this phrase by saying: “It
  will be seen that the 'views' only apply to a case of secession
  that makes a _gap_ in the present Union.” The falling off (say) of
  Texas, or of all the Atlantic States, from the Potomac south [the
  very case which has since occurred], was not within the scope of
  General Scott’s provisional remedies. As if apprehending that by
  possibility it might be inferred he intended to employ force for
  any other purpose than to open the way through this _gap_ to a
  State beyond, still in the Union, he disclaims any such
  construction, and says: “The foregoing views eschew the idea of
  invading a seceded State.” This disclaimer is as strong as any
  language he could employ for the purpose.

  To sustain the limited right to open the way through the _gap_, he
  cites, not the Constitution of the United States, but the last
  chapter of Paley’s “Moral and Political Philosophy,” which,
  however, contains no allusion to the subject.

  The General paints the horrors of civil war in the most gloomy
  colors, and then proposes his alternative for avoiding them. He
  exclaims: “But break this glorious Union by whatever line or lines
  that political madness may contrive, and there would be no hope of
  reuniting the fragments except by the laceration and despotism of
  the sword. To effect such result the intestine wars of our Mexican
  neighbors would, in comparison with ours, sink into mere child’s

  “A smaller evil” (in the General’s opinion) “would be to allow the
  fragments of the great Republic to form themselves into new
  Confederacies, probably four.”

  Not satisfied with this general proposition, he proceeds not only
  to discuss and to delineate the proper boundaries for these new
  Confederacies, but even to designate capitals for the three on
  this side of the Rocky Mountains. We quote his own language as
  follows: “All the lines of demarcation between the new unions
  cannot be accurately drawn in advance, but many of them
  approximately may. Thus, looking to natural boundaries and
  commercial affinities, some of the following frontiers, after many
  waverings and conflicts, might perhaps become acknowledged and

  “1. The Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic. 2.
  From Maryland along the crest of the Alleghany (perhaps the Blue
  Ridge) range of mountains to some point on the coast of Florida.
  3. The line from, say the head of the Potomac to the West or
  Northwest, which it will be most difficult to settle. 4. The crest
  of the Rocky Mountains.”

  “The Southeast Confederacy would, in all human probability, in
  less than five years after the rupture, find itself bounded by the
  first and second lines indicated above, the Atlantic and the Gulf
  of Mexico, with its capital at, say Columbia, South Carolina. The
  country between the second, third, and fourth of those lines
  would, beyond a doubt, in about the same time, constitute another
  Confederacy, with its capital at probably Alton or Quincy,
  Illinois. The boundaries of the Pacific Union are the most
  definite of all, and the remaining States would constitute the
  Northeast Confederacy, with its capital at Albany. It, at the
  first thought, will be considered strange that seven slave-holding
  States and part of Virginia and Florida should be placed (above)
  in a new Confederacy with Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc. But when
  the overwhelming weight of the great Northwest is taken in
  connection with the laws of trade, contiguity of territory, and
  the comparative indifference to free soil doctrines on the part of
  Western Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, it is evident
  that but little if any coercion, beyond moral force, would be
  needed to embrace them; and I have omitted the temptation of the
  unwasted public lands which would fall entire to this
  Confederacy—an appanage (well husbanded) sufficient for many
  generations. As to Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi, they would
  not stand out a month. Louisiana would coalesce without much
  solicitation, and Alabama with West Florida would be conquered the
  first winter, from the absolute need of Pensacola for a naval

  According to this arrangement of General Scott, all that would be
  left for “the Northeast Confederacy” would be the New England and
  Middle States; and our present proud Capitol at Washington,
  hallowed by so many patriotic associations, would be removed to

Footnote 69:

    It is worthy of special remark that General Scott, in his
    autobiography recently published, vol. ii, p. 609, entirely
    omits to copy this part of his views on which we have been
    commenting; so also his supplementary views of the next day,
    though together they constitute but one whole. He merely copies
    that which relates to garrisoning the Southern forts.

  It is easy to imagine with what power these “views,” presented so
  early as October, 1860, may have been employed by the disunion
  leaders of the cotton States to convince the people that they
  might depart in peace. Proceeding from the Commanding General of
  the army, a citizen and a soldier so eminent, and eschewing as
  they did the idea of invading a seceded State, as well as favoring
  the substitution of new Confederacies for the old Union, what
  danger could they apprehend in the formation of a Southern

  This portion of the “views,” being purely political and
  prospective, and having no connection with military operations,
  was out of time and out of place in a report from the commanding
  General of the Army to the Secretary of War. So, also, the
  expression of his personal preferences among the candidates then
  before the people for the office of President. “From a sense of
  propriety as a soldier,” says the General, “I have taken no part
  in the pending canvass, and, as always heretofore, mean to stay
  away from the polls. My sympathies, however, are with the Bell and
  Everett ticket.”

  After all these preliminaries, we now proceed to a different side
  of the picture presented by the General.

  In the same “views” (the 29th October, 1860), he says that, “From
  a knowledge of our Southern population, it is my solemn conviction
  that there is some danger of an early act of rashness preliminary
  to secession, viz., the seizure of some or all of the following
  posts: Forts Jackson and St. Philip, in the Mississippi, below New
  Orleans, both without garrisons; Fort Morgan, below Mobile,
  without a garrison; Forts Pickens and McRea, Pensacola harbor,
  with an insufficient garrison for one; Fort Pulaski, below
  Savannah, without a garrison; Forts Moultrie and Sumter,
  Charleston harbor, the former with an insufficient garrison, and
  the latter without any; and Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, without a
  sufficient garrison. In my opinion all these works should be
  immediately so garrisoned as to make any attempt to take any one
  of them by surprise or _coup de main_ ridiculous.”

  It was his duty, as commanding general, to accompany this
  recommendation with a practicable plan for garrisoning these
  forts, stating the number of troops necessary for the purpose, the
  points from which they could be drawn, and the manner in which he
  proposed to conduct the enterprise. Finding this to be impossible,
  from the total inadequacy of the force within the President’s
  power to accomplish a military operation so extensive, instead of
  furnishing such a plan, he absolves himself from the task by
  simply stating in his supplemental views of the next day (30th
  October) that “There is one (regular) company at Boston, one here
  (at the Narrows), one at Pittsburg, one at Augusta, Ga., and one
  at Baton Rouge—in all five companies, only, within reach, to
  garrison or reënforce the forts mentioned in the 'views.'”

  _Five companies only, four hundred men, to garrison nine
  fortifications scattered over six highly excited Southern States.
  This was all the force “within reach” so as to make any attempt to
  take any one of them by surprise or coup de main ridiculous._

  He even disparages the strength of this small force by applying to
  it the diminutive adverb “_only_,” or, in other words, merely,
  barely. It will not be pretended that the President had any power,
  under the laws, to add to this force by calling forth the militia,
  or accepting the services of volunteers to garrison these
  fortifications. And the small regular army were beyond reach on
  our remote frontiers. Indeed, the whole American army, numbering
  at that time not more than sixteen thousand effective men, would
  have been scarcely sufficient. To have attempted to distribute
  these five companies among the eight forts in the cotton States,
  and Fortress Monroe, in Virginia, would have been a confession of
  weakness, instead of an exhibition of imposing and overpowering
  strength. It could have had no effect in preventing secession, but
  must have done much to provoke it. It will be recollected that
  these “views,” the substance of which soon reached the Southern
  States, were written before Mr. Lincoln’s election, and at a time
  when none of the cotton States had made the first movement toward
  secession. Even South Carolina was then performing all her
  relative duties, though most reluctantly, to the Government,
  whilst the border States, with Virginia in the first rank, were
  still faithful and true to the Union.

  Under these circumstances, surely General Scott ought not to have
  informed them in advance that the reason why he had recommended
  this expedition was because, from his knowledge of them, he
  apprehended they might be guilty of an early act of rashness in
  seizing these forts before secession. This would necessarily
  provoke the passions of the Southern people. Virginia was deeply
  wounded at the imputation against her loyalty from a native though
  long estranged son.

  Whilst one portion of the “views,” as we have already seen, might
  be employed by disunion demagogues in convincing the people of the
  cotton States that they might secede without serious opposition
  from the North, another portion of them was calculated to excite
  their indignation and drive them to extremities. From the
  impracticable nature of the “views,” and their strange and
  inconsistent character, the President dismissed them from his mind
  without further consideration.

  It is proper to inform the reader why General Scott had five
  companies only within reach for the proposed service. This was
  because nearly the whole of our small army was on the remote
  frontiers, where it had been continually employed for years in
  protecting the inhabitants and the emigrants on their way to the
  far west, against the attacks of hostile Indians. At no former
  period had its services been more necessary than throughout the
  year 1860, from the great number of these Indians continually
  threatening or waging war on our distant settlements. To employ
  the language of Mr. Benjamin Stanton, of Ohio, in his report of
  the 18th February, 1861, from the military committee to the House
  of Representatives: “The regular army numbers only 18,000 men,
  when recruited to its maximum strength; and the whole of this
  force is required upon an extended frontier, for the protection of
  the border settlements against Indian depredations.” Indeed, the
  whole of it had proved insufficient for this purpose. This is
  established by the reports of General Scott himself to the War
  Department. In these he urges the necessity of raising more
  troops, in a striking and convincing light. In that of 20th
  November, 1857,[70] after portraying the intolerable hardships and
  sufferings of the army engaged in this service, he says: “To
  mitigate these evils, and to enable us to give a reasonable
  security to our people on Indian frontiers, measuring thousands of
  miles, I respectfully suggest an augmentation of at least one
  regiment of horse (dragoons, cavalry, or riflemen) and at least
  three regiments of foot (infantry or riflemen). This augmentation
  would not more than furnish the reinforcements now greatly needed
  in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington
  Territory, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, leaving not a company
  for Utah.”

Footnote 70:

    3 Senate Documents, 1857-'58, p. 48.

  Again, General Scott, in his report of November 13, 1858,
  says:[71] “This want of troops to give reasonable security to our
  citizens in distant settlements, including emigrants on the
  plains, can scarcely be too strongly stated; but I will only add,
  that as often as we have been obliged to withdraw troops from one
  frontier in order to reinforce another, the weakened points have
  been instantly attacked or threatened with formidable invasion.”

Footnote 71:

    Senate Executive Documents, 1858-'59, vol. ii., part 3, p. 761.

  The President, feeling the force of such appeals, and urged by the
  earnest entreaties of the suffering people on the frontiers,
  recommended to Congress, through the War Department, to raise five
  additional regiments.[72] This, like all other recommendations to
  place the country in a proper state of defence, was disregarded.
  From what has been stated it is manifest that it was impossible to
  garrison the numerous forts of the United States with regular

  troops. This will account for the destitute condition of the nine
  forts enumerated by General Scott, as well as of all the rest.

Footnote 72:

    Senate Documents, 1857-'58, vol. iii., p. 4.

  When our system of fortifications was planned and carried into
  execution, it was never contemplated to provide garrisons for them
  in time of peace. This would have required a large standing army,
  against which the American people have ever evinced a wise and
  wholesome jealousy. Every great republic, from the days of Cæsar
  to Cromwell, and from Cromwell to Bonaparte, has been destroyed by
  armies composed of free citizens, who had been converted by
  military discipline into veteran soldiers. Our fortifications,
  therefore, when completed, were generally left in the custody of a
  sergeant and a few soldiers. No fear was entertained that they
  would ever be seized by the States for whose defence against a
  foreign enemy they had been erected.

  Under these circumstances it became the plain duty of the
  President, destitute as he was of military force, not only to
  refrain from any act which might provoke or encourage the cotton
  States into secession, but to smooth the way for such a
  Congressional compromise as had in times past happily averted
  danger from the Union. There was good reason to hope this might
  still be accomplished. The people of the slaveholding States must
  have known there could be no danger of an actual invasion of their
  constitutional rights over slave property from any hostile action
  of Mr. Lincoln’s administration. For the protection of these, they
  could rely both on the judicial and the legislative branches of
  the Government. The Supreme Court had already decided the
  Territorial question in their favor, and it was also ascertained
  that there would be a majority in both Houses of the first
  Congress of Mr. Lincoln’s term, sufficient to prevent any
  legislation to their injury. Thus protected, it would be madness
  for them to rush into secession.

  Besides, they were often warned and must have known that by their
  separation from the free States, these very rights over slave
  property, of which they were so jealous, would be in greater
  jeopardy than they had ever been under the Government of the
  Union. Theirs would then be the only government in Christendom
  which had not abolished, or was not in progress to abolish,
  slavery. There would be a strong pressure from abroad against this
  institution. To resist this effectually would require the power
  and moral influence of the Government of the whole United States.
  They ought, also, to have foreseen that, if their secession should
  end in civil war, whatever might be the event, slavery would
  receive a blow from which it could never recover. The true policy,
  even in regard to the safety of their domestic institution, was to
  cling to the Union.

                              CHAPTER XV.


On the 6th of November, 1860, one hundred and eighty Republican
electors of President were chosen by the people of eighteen of the
free states. This determined that Abraham Lincoln was to be
President of the United States for four years from the 4th of March,
1861. As soon as the result of the election was known, the
legislature of South Carolina passed a law for the assembling of a
convention of the people of the State on the 17th of December. The
delegates to the convention were promptly chosen; and when they had
been elected, it was manifest that the assumed right of secession
was about to be exercised by that one of the Southern States in
which attachment to the Union had been for more than thirty years
confined to a few of the wiser and more considerate of her people.
The great man whose political teachings had indoctrinated a
generation with views of the Federal Constitution which, when
logically carried out, would reduce it to a mere league between
independent States dissoluble at the pleasure of its separate
members for causes of which they were separately to judge, had
passed away. I have already had occasion to observe that, while Mr.
Calhoun did not at any time contemplate secession, and while he was
strongly attached to the Union as he understood its fundamental
principle, his political doctrines, assuming the correctness of his
premises, led logically and correctly to the conclusion that the
people of any State could absolve themselves from the obligation to
obey the laws, and to submit to the authority of the United States.
He and those who acted with him in South Carolina during the period
of “Nullification” proposed to apply this State dispensing power to
a single obnoxious law of the United States, without breaking the
whole bond which connected South Carolina with her sister States.
But it was the inevitable result of his political principles that,
if a State convention could absolve its people from the duty of
obeying one law of the United States, by pronouncing it to be
unconstitutional, the same authority could withdraw the State wholly
from the Union, upon her judgment that to remain in it longer was
incompatible with her safety or her interests. The radical vice of
this whole theory was that it assumed the cession of political
powers of legislation and government, made by the people of a State
when they ratified the Constitution of the United States, to be
revocable, not by a State power or right expressly contained in the
instrument, but by a right resulting from the assumed nature of the
Constitution as a compact between sovereign States. The Secession
Ordinance of South Carolina, adopted on the 20th of December, 1860,
which became the model of all the other similar ordinances, exhibits
in a striking manner the character of the theory. It professed to
“repeal” the ordinance of the State which in 1788 had ratified the
Constitution of the United States, and all the subsequent acts of
the legislature which had ratified the amendments of that
Constitution, and to dissolve the union then subsisting between
South Carolina and other States under the name of the “United States
of America.” In other words, the people of South Carolina, assembled
in convention, determined that a cession or grant of political
sovereignty, which they had made to the Government of the United
States in 1788, in an irrevocable form, and without any reservation
save of the powers of government which they did not grant, could yet
be revoked and annulled, not by the right of revolution, but by a
right resulting as a constitutional principle from a compact made
between sovereign and independent political communities. This method
of regarding the Government of the United States as the depositary
of certain powers to be held and exercised so long as the sovereign
parties to the agreement should see fit to allow them to remain, and
to be withdrawn whenever one of the parties should determine to
withdraw them, constituted the whole basis of the doctrine of
secession. If the premises were correct, the deduction was sound.
If, on the other hand, the cession of certain powers of political
sovereignty made by the people of a State when they ratified the
Constitution of the United States constituted a Government, with a
right to rule over the individual inhabitants of that State in the
exercise of the powers conceded, the individuals could no more
absolve themselves collectively, than they could separately, from
the political duty and obligation to obey the laws and submit to the
authority of that Government, especially when that Government
contained within itself, by one of the provisions of its
Constitution, both the means and the right of determining for the
people of every State, whether the laws enacted by Congress were in
conformity with the grants of political power embraced in the
instrument which created it. The grant of the judicial power of the
United States estopped the people of every State from claiming a
right to pass upon the constitutional validity of any exercise of
its legislative or executive authority. Such are the contrasted
theories of the Constitution which were now to come into collision,
after the Constitution had long been administered and acted upon as
an instrument of government embracing a true and rightful
sovereignty over the people of every State in the exercise of
certain enumerated powers.

It is important to observe, however, that this claim of rightful
sovereignty over the inhabitants of every State was not a denial of
the inherent right of revolution, or the right to renounce a
political allegiance, and to make that right available by physical
force, in case of intolerable oppression or arbitrary assumption of
power. The political institutions of this country had their origin
in the exercise of the right of revolution, and however shaped or
administered, they can never be made to exclude it. It is difficult,
in studying the political principles on which individuals or masses
of men acted, or on which they supposed themselves to be acting,
during the period at which I have now arrived, to discriminate
between the right of revolution and the right of secession, as
distinct principles governing their personal conduct. In many minds
they became blended; in many there was but little attention paid to
any such distinction; in many there was nothing more than a state of
excitement, worked into an uncontrollable apprehension of danger
which was stimulated by the political leaders of a section
peculiarly exposed to such apprehensions by what had long been
occurring on the dangerous subject of their social and domestic
condition. But on the threshold of the secession movement, there are
certain things to be carefully noted. The first is, that in the
public proceedings of South Carolina, and of the other States which
followed her example, it was the alleged constitutional right of
secession from the Union, and not the inherent right of revolution,
on which the action was professedly based. The second is, that the
State of South Carolina led the way, in the hope and belief that she
might compel the other cotton States to follow, while it was at
least doubtful whether they would do so, and while it was manifest
that their course would depend very much upon events that could not
be foreseen. This condition of affairs in the months of November and
December imposed upon President Buchanan two imperative duties. In
the first place, he had to encounter the alleged right of secession
asserted, or about to be asserted, by the State of South Carolina;
to meet her public proceedings by a denial of any such right, and to
exercise all the powers with which he then was, or with which he
might thereafter be, clothed by Congress, to prevent any obstruction
to the execution of the laws of the United States within her
borders. In the next place, he had, so far as the Executive of the
United States could so act, to isolate the State of South Carolina
from the other States of that region, and to prevent, if possible,
the spread of the secession movement. What he might be able to do in
this regard would depend, of course, upon future events, and upon a
careful adaptation of his means to his ends. If, notwithstanding all
he could do, the fury of secession was to rapidly sweep through the
cotton States, he could not prevent the formation of some kind of
Southern confederacy. But the very first duty which he had to
perform he proceeded promptly to execute, as soon as it was apparent
that South Carolina was about to adopt an ordinance of secession.
This was to encounter publicly and officially the alleged right of
secession, to define clearly and explicitly to Congress and to the
country the powers which he possessed, or did not possess, for
meeting this exigency; and to announce his policy. By so doing, he
might prevent the spread of the secession movement, if Congress
would aid him by adopting his recommendations. Preparatory to what
he was about to say in his annual message to the Congress which was
to assemble in the early part of December, he required from the
Attorney General (Mr. Black) an official answer to the following

  1. In case of a conflict between the authorities of any State and
  those of the United States, can there be any doubt that the laws
  of the Federal Government, if constitutionally passed, are

  2. What is the extent of my official power to collect the duties
  on imports at a port where the revenue laws are resisted by a
  force which drives the collector from the custom house?

  3. What right have I to defend the public property (for instance,
  a fort, arsenal and navy yard), in case it should be assaulted?

  4. What are the legal means at my disposal for executing those
  laws of the United States which are usually administered through
  the courts and their officers?

  5. Can a military force be used for any purpose whatever under the
  Acts of 1795 and 1807, within the limits of a State where there
  are no judges, marshal or other civil officers?

Footnote 73:

  The President’s letter to the Attorney General, requiring his
  opinion on these questions, bears date on the 17th of November,


                       ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE, November 20, 1860.


  I have had the honor to receive your note of the 17th, and I now
  reply to the grave questions therein propounded as fully as the
  time allowed me will permit.

  Within their respective spheres of action, the Federal Government
  and the government of a State, are both of them independent and
  supreme, but each is utterly powerless beyond the limits assigned
  to it by the Constitution. If Congress would attempt to change the
  law of descents, to make a new rule of personal succession, or to
  dissolve the family relations existing in any State, the act would
  be simply void; but not more void than would be a State law to
  prevent the recapture of fugitives from labor, to forbid the
  carrying of the mails, or to stop the collection of duties on
  imports. The will of a State, whether expressed in its
  constitution or laws, cannot, while it remains in the Confederacy,
  absolve her people from the duty of obeying the just and
  constitutional requirements of the Central Government. Nor can any
  act of the Central Government displace the jurisdiction of a
  State; because the laws of the United States are supreme and
  binding only so far as they are passed _in pursuance of the
  Constitution_. I do not say what might be effected by mere
  revolutionary force. I am speaking of legal and constitutional

  This is the view always taken by the judiciary, and so universally
  adopted that the statement of it may seem commonplace. The Supreme
  Court of the United States has declared it in many cases. I need
  only refer you to the _United States vs. Booth_, where the present
  Chief Justice, expressing the unanimous opinion of himself and all
  his brethren, enunciated the doctrine in terms so clear and full
  that any further demonstration of it can scarcely be required.

  The duty which these principles devolve, not only upon every
  officer, but every citizen, is that which Mr. Jefferson expressed
  so compendiously in his first inaugural, namely:—“to support the
  State Governments in all their rights as the most competent
  administrations for their domestic concerns, and the surest
  bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies,” combined with “the
  preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional
  vigor as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad.”

  To the Chief Executive Magistrate of the Union is confided the
  solemn duty of seeing the laws faithfully executed. That he may be
  able to meet this duty with a power equal to its performance, he
  nominates his own subordinates, and removes them at his pleasure.
  For the same reason, the land and naval forces are under his
  orders as their commander-in-chief. But his power is to be used
  only in the manner prescribed by the legislative department. He
  cannot accomplish a legal purpose by illegal means, or break the
  laws himself to prevent them from being violated by others.

  The acts of Congress sometimes give the President a broad
  discretion in the use of the means by which they are to be
  executed, and sometimes limit his power so that he can exercise it
  only in a certain prescribed manner. Where the law directs a thing
  to be done without saying how, that implies the power to use such
  means as may be necessary and proper to accomplish the end of the
  legislature. But where the mode of performing a duty is pointed
  out by statute, that is the exclusive mode, and no other can be
  followed. The United States have no common law to fall back upon
  when the written law is defective. If, therefore, an act of
  Congress declares that a certain thing shall be done by a
  particular officer, it cannot be done by a different officer. The
  agency which the law furnishes for its own execution must be used
  to the exclusion of all others. For instance, the revenues of the
  United States are to be collected in a certain way, at certain
  established ports, and by a certain class of officers; the
  President has no authority, under any circumstances, to collect
  the same revenues at other places by a different sort of officers,
  or in ways not provided for. Even if the machinery furnished by
  Congress for the collection of the duties should by any cause
  become so deranged or broken up that it could not be used, that
  would not be a legal reason for substituting a different kind of
  machinery in its place.

  The law requires that all goods imported into the United States
  within certain collection districts shall be entered at the proper
  port, and the duty thereon shall be received by the collector
  appointed for and residing at that port. But the functions of the
  collector may be exercised anywhere at or within the port. There
  is no law which confines him to the custom-house, or to any other
  particular spot. If the custom-house were burnt down, he might
  remove to another building; if he were driven from the shore, he
  might go on board a vessel in the harbor. If he keeps within the
  port, he is within the law.

  A port is a place to which merchandise is imported, and from
  whence it is exported. It is created by law. It is not merely a
  harbor or haven, for it may be established where there is nothing
  but an open roadstead, or on the shore of a navigable river, or at
  any other place where vessels may arrive and discharge, or take in
  their cargoes. It comprehends the city or town which is occupied
  by the mariners, merchants, and others who are engaged in the
  business of importing and exporting goods, navigating the ships
  and furnishing them with provisions. It includes, also, so much of
  the water adjacent to the city as is usually occupied by vessels
  discharging or receiving their cargoes or lying at anchor and
  waiting for that purpose.

  The first section of the act of March 2, 1833, authorized the
  President in a certain contingency to direct that the custom-house
  for any collection district be established and kept in any secure
  place within some port or harbor of such district, either upon
  land or on board any vessel. But this provision was temporary, and
  expired at the end of the session of Congress next afterwards. It
  conferred upon the Executive a right to remove the site of a
  custom-house not merely to any secure place within the legally
  established port of entry for the district—that right he had
  before—but it widened his authority so as to allow the removal of
  it to any port or harbor within the whole district. The enactment
  of that law, and the limitation of it to a certain period of time
  now passed, is not, therefore, an argument against the opinion
  above expressed, that you can now, if necessary, order the duties
  to be collected on board a vessel inside of any established port
  of entry. Whether the first and fifth sections of the act of 1833,
  both of which were made temporary by the eighth section, should be
  reënacted, is a question for the legislative department.

  Your right to take such measures as may seem to be necessary for
  the protection of the public property is very clear. It results
  from the proprietary rights of the Government as owner of the
  forts, arsenals, magazines, dock-yards, navy-yards, custom-houses,
  public ships, and other property which the United States have
  bought, built, and paid for. Besides, the Government of the United
  States is authorized by the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 8) to
  “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever ..... over
  all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the
  State in which the same shall be for the erection of forts,
  magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.” It
  is believed that no important public building has been bought or
  erected on ground where the legislature of the State in which it
  is, has not passed a law consenting to the purchase of it, and
  ceding the exclusive jurisdiction. This Government, then, is not
  only the owner of those buildings and grounds, but, by virtue of
  the supreme and paramount law, it regulates the action and
  punishes the offences of all who are within them. If any one of an
  owner’s rights is plainer than another it is that of keeping
  exclusive possession and repelling intrusion. The right of
  defending the public property includes also the right of recapture
  after it has been unlawfully taken by another. President Jefferson
  held the opinion, and acted upon it, that he could order a
  military force to take possession of any land to which the United
  States had title, though they had never occupied it before, though
  a private party claimed and held it, and though it was not then
  needed nor proposed to be used for any purpose connected with the
  operations of the Government. This may have been a stretch of
  Executive power, but the right of retaking public property in
  which the Government has been carrying on its lawful business, and
  from which its officers have been unlawfully thrust out, cannot
  well be doubted, and when it was exercised at Harper’s Ferry, in
  October, 1859, everyone acknowledged the legal justice of it.

  I come now to the point in your letter, which is probably of the
  greatest practical importance. By the act of 1807, you may employ
  such parts of the land and naval forces as you may judge necessary
  for the purpose of causing the laws to be duly executed, in all
  cases where it is lawful to use the militia for the same purpose.
  By the act of 1795 the militia may be called forth “whenever the
  laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution
  thereof obstructed in any State by combinations too powerful to be
  suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by
  the power vested in the marshals.” This imposes upon the President
  the sole responsibility of deciding whether the exigency has
  arisen which requires the use of military force; and in proportion
  to the magnitude of that responsibility will be his care not to
  overstep the limits of his legal and just authority.

  The laws referred to in the act of 1795 are manifestly those which
  are administered by the judges, and executed by the ministerial
  officers of the courts for the punishment of crime against the
  United States, for the protection of rights claimed under the
  Federal Constitution and laws, and for the enforcement of such
  obligations as come within the cognizance of the Federal
  Judiciary. To compel obedience to these laws, the courts have
  authority to punish all who obstruct their regular administration,
  and the marshals and their deputies have the same powers as
  sheriffs and their deputies in the several States in executing the
  laws of the States. These are the ordinary means provided for the
  execution of the laws; and the whole spirit of our system is
  opposed to the employment of any other except in cases of extreme
  necessity arising out of great and unusual combinations against
  them. Their agency must continue to be used until their incapacity
  to cope with the power opposed to them shall be plainly
  demonstrated. It is only upon clear evidence to that effect that a
  military force can be called into the field. Even then its
  operations must be purely defensive. It can suppress only such
  combinations as are found directly opposing the laws and
  obstructing the execution thereof. It can do no more than what
  might and ought to be done by a civil posse, if a civil posse
  could be raised large enough to meet the same opposition. On such
  occasions, especially, the military power must be kept in strict
  subordination to the civil authority, since it is only in aid of
  the latter that the former can act at all.

  But what if the feeling in any State against the United States
  should become so universal that the Federal officers themselves
  (including judges, district attorneys and marshals) would be
  reached by the same influences, and resign their places? Of
  course, the first step would be to appoint others in their stead,
  if others could be got to serve. But in such an event, it is more
  than probable that great difficulty would be found in filling the
  offices. We can easily conceive how it might become altogether
  impossible. We are therefore obliged to consider what can be done
  in case we have no courts to issue judicial process, and no
  ministerial officers to execute it. In that event, troops would
  certainly be out of place, and their use wholly illegal. If they
  are sent to aid the courts and marshals, there must be courts and
  marshals to be aided. Without the exercise of those functions
  which belong exclusively to the civil service, the laws cannot be
  executed in any event, no matter what may be the physical strength
  which the Government has at its command. Under such circumstances,
  to send a military force into any State, with orders to act
  against the people, would be simply making war upon them.

  The existing laws put and keep the Federal Government strictly on
  the defensive. You can use force only to repel an assault on the
  public property and aid the courts in the performance of their
  duty. If the means given you to collect the revenue and execute
  the other laws be insufficient for that purpose, Congress may
  extend and make them more effectual to those ends.

  If one of the States should declare her independence, your action
  cannot depend upon the rightfulness of the cause upon which such
  declaration is based. Whether the retirement of the State from the
  Union be the exercise of a right reserved in the Constitution, or
  a revolutionary movement, it is certain that you have not in
  either case the authority to recognize her independence or to
  absolve her from her Federal obligations. Congress, or the other
  States in convention assembled, must take such measures as may be
  necessary and proper. In such an event, I see no course for you
  but to go straight onward in the path you have hitherto
  trodden—that is, execute the laws to the extent of the defensive
  means placed in your hands, and act generally upon the assumption
  that the present constitutional relations between the States and
  the Federal Government continue to exist, until a new code of
  things shall be established either by law or force.

  Whether Congress has the constitutional right to make war against
  one or more States, and require the Executive of the Federal
  Government to carry it on by means of force to be drawn from the
  other States, is a question for Congress itself to consider. It
  must be admitted that no such power is expressly given; nor are
  there any words in the Constitution which imply it. Among the
  powers enumerated in Article 1st, Section 8, is that “to declare
  war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and to make rules
  concerning captures on land and water.” This certainly means
  nothing more than the power to commence and carry on hostilities
  against the foreign enemies of the nation. Another clause in the
  same section gives Congress the power “to provide for calling
  forth the militia,” and to use them within the limits of the
  State. But this power is so restricted by the words which
  immediately follow that it can be exercised only for one of the
  following purposes: 1. To execute the laws of the Union; that is,
  to aid the Federal officers in the performance of their regular
  duties. 2. To suppress insurrections against the State; but this
  is confined by Article IV, Section 4, to cases in which the State
  herself shall apply for assistance against her own people. 3. To
  repel the invasion of a State by enemies who come from abroad to
  assail her in her own territory. All these provisions are made to
  protect the States, not to authorize an attack by one part of the
  country upon another; to preserve the peace, and not to plunge
  them into civil war. Our forefathers do not seem to have thought
  that war was calculated “to form a more perfect Union, establish
  justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common
  defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of
  liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” There was undoubtedly a
  strong and universal conviction among the men who framed and
  ratified the Constitution, that military force would not only be
  useless, but pernicious, as a means of holding the States

  If it be true that war cannot be declared, nor a system of
  general hostilities carried on by the Central Government against
  a State, then it seems to follow that an attempt to do so would
  be _ipso facto_ an expulsion of such State from the Union. Being
  treated as an alien and an enemy, she would be compelled to act
  accordingly. And if Congress shall break up the present Union by
  unconstitutionally putting strife and enmity and armed hostility
  between different sections of the country, instead of the
  domestic tranquility which the Constitution was meant to insure,
  will not all the States be absolved from their Federal
  obligations? Is any portion of the people bound to contribute
  their money or their blood to carry on a contest like that?

  The right of the General Government to preserve itself in its
  whole constitutional vigor by repelling a direct and positive
  aggression upon its property or its officers cannot be denied. But
  this is a totally different thing from an offensive war to punish
  the people for the political misdeeds of their State government,
  or to enforce an acknowledgment that the Government of the United
  States is supreme. The States are colleagues of one another, and
  if some of them shall conquer the rest, and hold them as
  subjugated provinces, it would totally destroy the whole theory
  upon which they are now connected.

  If this view of the subject be correct, as I think it is, then the
  Union must utterly perish at the moment when Congress shall arm
  one part of the people against another for any purpose beyond that
  of merely protecting the General Government in the exercise of its
  proper constitutional functions.

  I am, very respectfully, yours, etc.,

                                                        J. S. BLACK.

The soundness of Mr. Black’s answers to the questions stated by the
President does not admit of a doubt. Those who have assailed him and
the President who acted upon his official advice, have done so with
very little regard to the supreme law of the land. They have not
perceived the path in which the President had to move in the coming
emergency, and they have overlooked the imperative obligation which
rested upon him not to assume powers with which he had not been
clothed by the Constitution and the laws. However certain it was
that South Carolina would undertake to place herself out of the pale
of the Union, no coercion could have been applied to her in her
political capacity as a State, to prevent her from taking that step,
without instantly bringing to her side every other State whose
sympathies were with her on the subject of slavery, however they
might hesitate in regard to secession as a remedy against the
apprehensions which were common, more or less, the people of the
whole slaveholding section. Even if the President had not been
restrained by this consideration, he had no constitutional power to
declare, no authority to prosecute, and no right to institute a war
against a State. He could do nothing but to execute the laws of the
United States within the limits of South Carolina, in case she
should secede, by such means as the existing laws had placed in his
hands, or such further means as the Congress which was about to
assemble might see fit to give him, and to maintain the possession
of the public property of the United States within the limits of
that State. What the existing means were, for either of those
purposes, was clearly pointed out by his official adviser, the
Attorney General. For the execution of the laws, these means might
wholly fail him, if the Federal civil officers in South Carolina
should renounce their offices and others could not be procured to
take their places. For maintaining possession of the public property
of the United States, he had to act wholly upon the defensive, and
at the same time he had no power to call for volunteers for this
purpose, and no military force within his reach but the five
companies of regular troops referred to by General Scott in his
“views” presented on the 30th of October, and the naval forces at
his command. No part of the army could be withdrawn from the
frontiers without leaving the settlers and the emigrants exposed to
the ravages of the Indians, even if the gravest reasons of public
policy had not forbidden such movements before Congress could take
into consideration the whole of the unprecedented and abnormal state
of the Union.

There is one part of Mr. Black’s opinion on which it is proper to
make some observations here, because it has a prospective bearing
upon the basis on which the civil war is to be considered to have
been subsequently prosecuted. It is not of much moment to inquire
how individual statesmen, or publicists, or political parties, when
the war had begun and was raging, regarded its legal basis; but it
is of moment, in reference to the correctness of the doctrine acted
upon by President Buchanan during the last four months of his
administration, to consider what was the true basis of that
subsequent war under the Constitution of the United States. The
reader has seen that Mr. Black, in his official opinion, not only
rejected the idea that the President could constitutionally make war
upon a State of his own volition, but that he did not admit that the
power to do so was expressly or implicitly given to Congress by the
Constitution. What then did the Attorney General mean by instituting
or carrying on war against one or more States? It is obvious, first,
that he meant offensive war, waged against a State as if it were a
foreign nation, to be carried on to the usual results of conquest
and subjugation; second, that he fully admitted and maintained the
right of the Federal Government to use a military force to suppress
all obstructions to the execution of the laws of the United States
throughout the Union, and to maintain the possession of its public
property. This distinction was from the first, and always remained,
of the utmost importance. It became entirely consistent with the
recognition, for the time being, of a condition of territorial civil
war, carried on by the lawful Government of the Union to suppress
any and all military organizations arrayed against the exercise of
its lawful authority; consistent with the concession of the
belligerent character to the Confederate government as a _de facto_
power having under its control the resources and the territory of
numerous States; consistent also with the denial to that government
of any character as a power _de jure_; and alike consistent with a
purpose to suppress and destroy it. So far as the war subsequently
waged was carried on upon this basis, it was carried on within the
limits of the Constitution, and by the strictest constitutional
right. So far as it was carried on upon any other basis, or made to
result in anything more than the suppression of all unlawful
obstructions to the exercise of the Federal authority throughout the
Union, it was a war waged outside of the Constitution, and for
objects that were not within the range of the powers bestowed by the
Constitution on the Federal Government. In a word, the Federal
Government had ample power under the Constitution to suppress and
destroy the Confederate government and all its military array, from
whatever sources that government or its military means were derived,
but it had no constitutional authority to destroy a State, or to
make war upon its unarmed population, as it would have under the
principles of public law to destroy the political autonomy of a
foreign nation with which it might be at war, or to promote
hostilities against its people.

Doubtless, as will be seen hereafter when I come to speak of that
part of the President’s message which related to this topic of
making war upon a State, the language made use of was capable of
misconstruction, and certain it is that it was made the subject of
abundant cavil, by those who did not wish that the President should
be rightly understood; as it was also made a subject of criticism by
the Attorney General when the message was submitted to the cabinet.
The language chosen by the President to express his opinion on the
nature and kind of power which he believed that the Constitution had
not delegated to Congress, described it as a “power to coerce a
State into submission which is attempting to withdraw, or has
actually withdrawn from the Confederacy.” This was in substance a
description of the same power which the framers of the Constitution
had expressly rejected. It was before the Convention of 1787 in the
shape of a clause “authorizing an exertion of the force of the whole
against a delinquent State,” which Mr. Madison opposed as “the use
of force against a State,” and which he said would look more like a
declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would
probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all
previous compacts by which it might be bound. On another occasion,
Mr. Madison said that “any government for the United States, formed
on the supposed practicability of using force against the
unconstitutional proceedings of the States, would prove as visionary
and fallacious as the government of the [old] Congress.” When,
therefore, after the rejection of the idea of using force to
restrain a State from adopting an unconstitutional proceeding, the
framers of the Constitution proceeded to create a government endowed
with legislative, judicial and executive power over the individual
inhabitants of a State, and authorized it to use the militia to
execute the laws of the Union, they made and left upon our
constitutional history and jurisprudence a clear distinction between
coercing a State, in its sovereign and political character, to
remain in the Union, and coercing individuals to obey the laws of
the Union. Mr. Buchanan might then reasonably assume, that a
distinction thus clearly graven upon the constitutional records of
the country would be known and recognized by all men; and although
the expression to “coerce a State by force of arms to remain in the
Union,” might, if severed from the accompanying explanation of its
meaning, be regarded as ambiguous, it will be found hereafter that
it was not so used as to justify the inference that if a State were
to undertake to secede from the Union, the President would disclaim
or surrender the power to execute the laws of the Union within her
borders. It will be found also, by adverting to the Attorney
General’s answers to the President’s questions, that there was in
truth no real difference of opinion between them on this

Footnote 74:

  Mr. Jefferson Davis, who represents, with as much logical
  consistency as any one, the whole of the doctrine or theory of
  secession, has always maintained that the distinction between
  coercing a State, and coercing the individual inhabitants of that
  State to submit to the laws of the United States, is no
  distinction at all: that the people of the State are the State;
  and that to use a military force to execute the laws of the United
  States upon individuals, within the limits of a State that has
  seceded from the Union, is to make war upon the State. (See his
  speech in the Senate, January 10, 1861, and his recent work on the
  _Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government_. Index, _verb._
  “Secession.”) Let us, for a moment, inquire whether Buchanan’s
  distinction was answered “by reason of its very absurdity.” 1. The
  States, in their corporate and political capacity, are not the
  subjects or objects of Federal legislation. The legislative powers
  of the Federal Constitution are not intended to be exercised over
  States, but they are intended to be exercised over individuals. An
  act of Congress never commands a State to do anything; it commands
  private individuals to do a great many things. The States are
  prohibited by the Constitution from doing certain things, but
  these prohibitions execute themselves through the action of the
  judicial power upon persons. No State can be acted upon by the
  judicial power at the instance of the United States. Every
  inhabitant of a State can be acted upon by the judicial power, in
  regard to anything that is within the scope of the legislative
  powers of the Constitution. 2. The coercion of individuals to
  obey the laws of the United States constitutes the great
  difference between our present Constitution and the Articles of
  Confederation. 3. The right to use force to execute the laws of
  the United States, by removing all obstructions to their
  execution, not only results from the power to legislate on the
  particular subject, but it is expressly recognized by the
  Constitution. The character of that force and the modes in which
  it may be employed, depend both on direct constitutional
  provision, and on the legislative authority over all the people of
  the United States in respect to certain subjects and relations.
  All this will be conceded to be true, so long as a State remains
  in the Union. Does it cease to be true, when a State interposes
  her sovereign will, and says that the laws of the United States
  shall not be executed within her limits, because she has withdrawn
  the powers which she deposited with the General Government? What
  does this make, but a new case of obstruction to the execution of
  the Federal laws, to be removed by acting on the individuals
  through whom the obstruction is practically tried? And if, in the
  removal of the obstruction, the use of military power becomes
  necessary, is war made upon the State? It is not, unless we go the
  whole length of saying that the interposition of the sovereign
  will of the State _ipso facto_ makes her an independent power,
  erects her into a foreign nation, and makes her capable of being
  dealt with as one enemy is dealt with by another. To deny the
  right of the United States to execute its laws, notwithstanding
  what is called the secession of a State, is to impale one’s self
  upon the other horn of the dilemma: for if that right does not
  exist, it must be because the State has become absolutely free and
  independent of the United States, and may be made a party to an
  international war. Mr. Buchanan saw and constantly and
  consistently acted upon the true distinction between making war
  upon a State, and enforcing the laws of the United States upon the
  inhabitants of a State.

                              CHAPTER XVI.


The Constitution makes it the duty of the President, from time to
time, to give to the Congress information of the state of the Union,
and to recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall
judge necessary and expedient. Custom has made the commencement of
each session of Congress a regular occasion for the discharge of
this duty, and has also established the propriety of performing it
at other times, whenever the President deems it necessary. It was
the purpose of this provision of the Constitution to make the
President a special guardian of the interests of the Union, by
making him the official witness of its condition to the legislative
department, and by giving to his recommendation of measures a high
claim upon its consideration. The performance of this duty involves
a wide range of observation over the whole condition of the country
at a given time, and it imposes upon Congress the correlative duty
of giving serious heed and prompt attention to any recommendations
which the President may make. No other functionary in the Government
is in a position to know so well as the President what the interests
of the Union from time to time demand at the hands of Congress, and
no other is clothed with this power of making official and therefore
weighty recommendations of measures requiring legislative action. No
state of parties, no objects of party policy, can excuse the
individual members of a Congress from the duty of giving immediate
attention to whatever suggestions the President may make in the
exercise of this great function as the constitutional adviser of the
legislature, and as guardian of the interests of the Union. At the
same time, it is to be remembered that this function is only an
advisory one; that it in no way enlarges the powers of the
Executive; and that the President can at no time exercise any powers
but those with which he has been clothed by the Constitution or by
the laws which have been passed in pursuance of its provisions.

Never was there an occasion when it was more necessary that this
duty should be performed by the President firmly, intelligibly,
boldly, conscientiously, than it was in the crisis existing at the
commencement of the session of Congress in December, 1860. Never was
it more imperatively necessary that Congress should at once take
into its “consideration” the measures recommended by the President.
The force of that term, as it is used in the Constitution, is not
limited to a mere reference of the President’s recommendations to
committees. It implies action, prompt and decisive action, one way
or the other, in proportion to the gravity of that condition of the
Union which the President has brought to the attention of the
Legislature. The President is entitled to know, and to know
speedily, whether the Congress concurs with or differs from him. The
country is entitled to know whether its Chief Magistrate is to be
clothed with the further powers for which he may have asked in order
to meet a given emergency; whether the Congress accepts, or refuses
to accept, his construction of the Constitution in regard to new and
difficult questions that have arisen; and whether, if the Congress
does not concur with the President, it has any other policy to
propose and carry out, adequate to the dangers that may be impending
over the Union. An examination of the course of President Buchanan
in the crisis to which we have now arrived conducts to the inquiry
whether he performed his duty, as he should have done, and whether
the Congress performed theirs according to the obligation that
rested upon them.

The “state of the Union,” of which the President had to give
Congress official information, was entirely unprecedented. That it
was alarming, cannot be doubted. It matters little whether the
people of the North felt much alarm. Popular opinion, so far as it
was not manifested by the depression of business and of the public
funds, did not reflect the gravity of the crisis. It was not
generally believed that an election of a President, conducted in a
regular and orderly manner, although it had resulted in the triumph
of a party obnoxious to the feelings of the Southern people, because
of its supposed hostility to them, would be or could be made the
occasion for a permanent disruption of the Union. And this was about
the only aspect in which the popular mind of the North regarded the
whole matter for a considerable period after the election. It was
not generally perceived that an entirely new question had arisen,
which made a peril of a new and formidable nature. The alleged
constitutional right of a State to withdraw itself from the Union,
on its own judgment that its interests or safety were no longer
compatible with its continuing as a member of it, although it had
long been theoretically discussed in many ways by individuals of
more or less importance, was now about to be asserted and acted upon
by the people of South Carolina. How was this crisis to be met? That
it was entirely out of all previous experience, that it was a
situation full of peril, that it entailed the consideration of
questions of Federal power never yet solved, because they had never
before arisen, was plain. That the President of the United States,
the official sentinel on the great watch-tower of the Union,
regarded its condition as one of imminent danger, was enough for the
Congress to know. That popular opinion in the North did not fully
comprehend the danger affords no excuse for any omission of duty,
any lack of wisdom or forethought, any failure to act promptly or
patriotically, which history may find reason to impute to those who
held the legislative power.

Mr. Buchanan, as the reader has seen, so soon as he had reason to
believe that South Carolina was about to put in practice its alleged
right of withdrawing from the Union, proceeded to take the opinion
of his official adviser in regard to his constitutional powers and
duties in such an emergency. Individually, he needed no man’s advice
upon such questions, for he was as able and well instructed a
constitutional jurist as any one who had ever filled the office of
President of the United States; familiar with all the teachings and
all the precedents of his predecessors, and abundantly learned in
the doctrines of the great judicial expounders of the Constitution.
But in his official capacity it was both proper and necessary that
he should call to his aid the sound judgment and the copious
learning of his Attorney General, before proceeding to discharge his
constitutional duty of giving to Congress information of the state
of the Union. He began to prepare his annual message immediately
after he had received the Attorney General’s answers to his
questions. The message was read to the cabinet before it was printed
in the usual form for communication to Congress. The members of the
cabinet, including General Cass, the Secretary of State, and with
the exceptions of Mr. Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury, and Mr.
Thompson, Secretary of the Interior, warmly and emphatically
approved of it.[75] Messrs. Cobb and Thompson objected to so much of
the message as denied the right of secession, and to that part of it
which maintained the duty of defending the public property and
collecting the revenue in South Carolina. These questions having now
become vital, the two dissenting members of the cabinet, soon after
the message had been sent to Congress, resigned their places.[76]

Footnote 75:

  Judge Black made a criticism, which will be adverted to hereafter.

Footnote 76:

  Their resignations will be noted hereafter, as well as that of
  General Cass, concerning whom see the President’s memorandum,

Let it be remembered, then, that this message was prepared to be
submitted to Congress before the South Carolina Convention had
adopted its ordinance of secession. Surely, therefore, there can be
no just ground for imputing to the President any lack of preparation
to meet the threatened contingency of a secession of one or more
States, according to the measure of his official duty and powers. In
examining this message, of which I shall speak in conformity with my
most serious convictions, the reader should note that it had to be
prospective in its recommendations, in order that Congress might be
fully possessed of the methods of action which the President
intended to propose as the legitimate, as well as the expedient,
course to be pursued. But this was not the whole of the
constitutional duty that rested upon the Executive. He had, in
discharging his duty of giving to Congress information of the state
of the Union, to treat so far of the causes which had brought about
that condition as to point out measures of conciliation, as well as
measures for the exercise of authority. He had to recognize the
palpable fact that the two sections of the Union, the slaveholding
and the non-slaveholding States, stood divided from each other upon
a question which involved more of feeling than of practical
consequence; a feeling that had been aggravated on each side into an
undue importance by the circumstances of the late election. This
question related to the claim of Southern slaveholders to have their
right of property in slaves recognized in Territories of the United
States, whenever they should go there with such property. It was a
claim which the most considerate of those who asserted it most
strongly regarded as essential to the equality of their States as
members of the Union, in reference to the right of occupation of the
common property of all the States. It was based, to be sure, by many
who asserted it, upon a questionable proposition, which was that the
right of property in a slave, recognized by the local law of a
State, travelled with the person of the owner into a Territory of
the United States, without any law of the Territory to uphold it,
and even against a prohibition imposed by the legislative authority
which governed the Territory. But when has it been known in the
history of conflicting popular feelings, that the nature of such a
claim has diminished the fervor with which it has been defended,
when it has come to be regarded as a great political right, of
importance to those who assert it? Practically, it was not a matter
of importance to the slaveholding States, because there was no
Territory of the United States at that time in which slave labor
could become profitable, or in which the negro, in a state of
slavery, could thrive. But an exaggerated feeling of the political
importance of this supposed right had taken possession of the
Southern mind. On the other hand, there had come about in the North
an equally exaggerated sense of the importance of asserting in every
possible form of public action, that the Territories were dedicated
to freedom from slavery, and were to be so regarded forever. It was
chiefly upon this, as a fundamental principle of the future
legislation of the Union, that the Republican candidate had been
elected by the votes of the people of the free States.

Under these circumstances, no President of the United States, in
discharging his constitutional duty of giving to Congress
information of the state of the Union, could have avoided a
reference to this condition of conflicting sectional feelings and
determinations, especially at a moment when one of the Southern
States was about to act upon the assumption that the election of the
Northern candidate evinced a hostile disposition in the North
towards the people and the social institutions of the South, too
dangerous to be disregarded. If, by fairly holding the balance
between the two sections, President Buchanan could suggest any
course of conciliation and compromise that could be adopted without
impairing the authority of the Federal Government or weakening its
rights, it was his duty to point it out. The adoption of such a
course by Congress would certainly smooth the way for President
Lincoln, because it would leave South Carolina alone in her attitude
of secession, would tend with great force to prevent any of the
other cotton States from following her example, and would render a
civil war extremely improbable, because it would remove one great
cause for the spread of secession beyond the borders of that State.
When the recommendation of the message is examined with
impartiality, it will be found that it proposed an explanatory
amendment of the Constitution which was entirely reasonable, and
which would have terminated the existing dissensions, so far as they
depended upon this particular question.

But those dissensions had other causes, which it was equally the
duty of the President to bring before Congress and the country. For
a long period of time, the anti-slavery agitation in the North, not
confined to the question of slavery in the Territories, had awakened
apprehensions in the South for their domestic peace and safety. It
was undoubtedly but reasonable to expect the Southern people to rely
on the conservative force of Northern public opinion, to guard
against interference with slavery in the States by any form of
public action through the General Government, by whatever party it
might be administered. But who could insure them against the
consequences of such lawless acts as John Brown’s “raid” into
Virginia, undertaken in 1859, with the avowed purpose of producing a
slave insurrection? This occurrence, which was only a little more
than a twelvemonth old when Mr. Buchanan prepared his annual message
of December 3, 1860, had produced a sadder impression on the
Southern people against the Union than any previous event had ever
caused.[77] This painful impression was deepened by the popular
honors paid in the North to this man’s memory as a martyr in the
cause of liberty, for whom the prayers of churches were offered, and
who, after he had died the death of a felon, was canonized as a
saint, mouldering in the body in the grave, but in spirit marching
on to the accomplishment of his mission of liberator of the slaves.
Such fanaticism might well be regarded with serious alarm by a
people who dwelt surrounded in every relation of life by a slave
population of another race, in many communities outnumbering the
Whites. Yet this was not all that tended to alienate the people of
the South from the Union. A provision of the Constitution which was
adopted by its framers as a fundamental condition of the new Union
that it aimed to establish, for the execution of which legislation
had been provided in 1793,—legislation which bore the name of
Washington himself, and which had been amended and strengthened in
1850 by a solemn Congressional agreement,—had been for seven years
resisted by combinations of individuals in the North, and by State
laws of obstruction that had no less of nullification as their
spirit and purpose than the nullifying ordinance of South Carolina,
by which she formerly undertook to obstruct another law of the
Union. It was impossible for the Southern People not to place this
resistance to the extradition of fugitive slaves among their
grievances. It was a real grievance, and one that, considering the
nature of the Constitutional mandate and stipulation, it was right
that they should complain of.

Footnote 77:

  John Brown’s seizure of the armory, arsenal, and rifle factory of
  the United States at Harper’s Ferry occurred October 16, 1859.

Was the President of the United States, standing at the threshold of
the secession movement, measuring as he was bound to do with a
comprehensive grasp the condition of the Union, to be silent
respecting these things? Was he, if he spoke to the South, warning
her that the election of Abraham Lincoln was no cause for her
attempting to leave the Union, and expounding to her the utter
futility of the doctrine of secession as a constitutional right—was
he to say nothing to the North of the duty which rested upon her to
remove all just causes of complaint, and thus to render secession
inexcusable to the Southern people themselves? A supreme ruler,
placed as Mr. Buchanan was at the period I am now considering, had a
complex duty to perform. It was to prevent, if he could, the
formation of any sort of Southern Confederacy among the cotton
States, and thereby to relieve his successor from the necessity of
having to encounter more than the secession of South Carolina. She
could be dealt with easily, standing alone, if Congress would clothe
the President with the necessary power to enforce the laws of the
Union within her limits. Backed by a new confederacy of her
contiguous sisters, containing five millions of people, and
controlling the whole cotton production of the country, the problem
for the new President would indeed be a formidable one. To prevent
this, certain measures of conciliation were deemed by President
Buchanan, in as honest and as wise a judgment as any statesman ever
formed, to be essential. When the reader has examined his
recommendations of constitutional amendments, along with the
practical measures for which he applied, and which Congress did not
adopt, he will have to ask himself, if Congress had done its duty as
the President performed his, is it within the bounds of probability
that Mr. Lincoln would have been embarrassed with the question about
the forts in Charleston harbor, or that the Montgomery government
would have ever existed, or that South Carolina, unaided and
undirected by that new confederacy, would ever have fired on Sumter?

As the internal affairs of the country claimed the first attention
of the President, and occupied a very large part of his message, I
quote the whole of what it said on this very grave topic:


  Throughout the year since our last meeting, the country has been
  eminently prosperous in all its material interests. The general
  health has been excellent, our harvests have been abundant, and
  plenty smiles throughout the land. Our commerce and manufactures
  have been prosecuted with energy and industry, and have yielded
  fair and ample returns. In short, no nation in the tide of time
  has ever presented a spectacle of greater material prosperity than
  we have done, until within a very recent period.

  Why is it, then, that discontent now so extensively prevails, and
  the union of the States, which is the source of all these
  blessings, is threatened with destruction?

  The long continued and intemperate interference of the Northern
  people with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at
  length produced its natural effects. The different sections of the
  Union are now arrayed against each other, and the time has
  arrived, so much dreaded by the Father of his Country, when
  hostile geographical parties have been formed.

  I have long foreseen, and often forewarned my countrymen of the
  now impending danger. This does not proceed solely from the claim
  on the part of Congress or the Territorial legislatures to exclude
  slavery from the Territories, nor from the efforts of different
  States to defeat the execution of the fugitive slave law. All or
  any of these evils might have been endured by the South, without
  danger to the Union (as others have been), in the hope that time
  and reflection might apply the remedy. The immediate peril arises,
  not so much from these causes, as from the fact that the incessant
  and violent agitation of the slavery question throughout the North
  for the last quarter of a century has at length produced its
  malign influence on the slaves, and inspired them with vague
  notions of freedom. Hence a sense of security no longer exists
  around the family altar. This feeling of peace at home has given
  place to apprehensions of servile insurrections. Many a matron
  throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall
  herself and her children before the morning. Should this
  apprehension of domestic danger, whether real or imaginary, extend
  and intensify itself, until it shall pervade the masses of the
  Southern people, then disunion will become inevitable.
  Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and has been
  implanted in the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest
  purpose; and no political union, however fraught with blessings
  and benefits in all other respects, can long continue, if the
  necessary consequence be to render the homes and the fire-sides of
  nearly half the parties to it habitually and hopelessly insecure.
  Sooner or later the bonds of such a Union must be severed. It is
  my conviction that this fatal period has not yet arrived: and my
  prayer to God is, that he would preserve the Constitution and the
  Union throughout all generations.

  But let us take warning in time, and remove the cause of danger.
  It cannot be denied that for five and twenty years the agitation
  at the North against slavery has been incessant. In 1835,
  pictorial handbills and inflammatory appeals were circulated
  extensively throughout the South, of a character to excite the
  passions of the slaves, and, in the language of General Jackson,
  “to stimulate them to insurrection and produce all the horrors of
  a servile war.” This agitation has ever since been continued by
  the public press, by the proceedings of State and county
  conventions, and by abolition sermons and lectures. The time of
  Congress has been occupied in violent speeches on this never
  ending subject; and appeals, in pamphlet and other forms, indorsed
  by distinguished names, have been sent forth from this central
  point and spread broadcast over the Union.

  How easy would it be for the American people to settle the slavery
  question forever, and to restore peace and harmony to this
  distracted country! They, and they alone, can do it. All that is
  necessary to accomplish the object, and all for which the slave
  States have ever contended, is to be let alone and permitted to
  manage their domestic institutions in their own way. As sovereign
  States, they, and they alone, are responsible before God and the
  world for the slavery existing among them. For this the people of
  the North are not more responsible, and have no more right to
  interfere, than with similar institutions in Russia or in Brazil.

  Upon their good sense and patriotic forbearance, I confess, I
  still greatly rely. Without their aid it is beyond the power of
  any President, no matter what may be his own political
  proclivities, to restore peace and harmony among the States.
  Wisely limited and restrained as is his power under our
  Constitution and laws, he alone can accomplish but little for good
  or for evil on such a momentous question.

  And this brings me to observe, that the election of any one of our
  fellow-citizens to the office of President does not of itself
  afford just cause for dissolving the Union. This is more
  especially true if his election has been effected by a mere
  plurality and not a majority of the people, and has resulted from
  transient and temporary causes, which may probably never again
  occur. In order to justify a resort to revolutionary resistance,
  the Federal Government must be guilty of “a deliberate; palpable,
  and dangerous exercise” of powers not granted by the Constitution.
  The late Presidential election, however, has been held in strict
  conformity with its express provisions. How, then, can the result
  justify a revolution to destroy this very Constitution? Reason,
  justice, a regard for the Constitution, all require that we shall
  wait for some overt and dangerous act on the part of the President
  elect, before resorting to such a remedy. It is said, however,
  that the antecedents of the President elect have been sufficient
  to justify the fears of the South that he will attempt to invade
  their constitutional rights. But are such apprehensions of
  contingent danger in the future sufficient to justify the
  immediate destruction of the noblest system of government ever
  devised by mortals? From the very nature of his office, and its
  high responsibilities, he must necessarily be conservative. The
  stern duty of administering the vast and complicated concerns of
  this Government affords in itself a guarantee that he will not
  attempt any violation of a clear constitutional right.

  After all, he is no more than the Chief Executive officer of the
  Government. His province is not to make but to execute the laws;
  and it is a remarkable fact in our history that, notwithstanding
  the repeated efforts of the anti-slavery party, no single act has
  ever passed Congress, unless we may possibly except the Missouri
  Compromise, impairing in the slightest degree the rights of the
  South to their property in slaves. And it may also be observed,
  judging from present indications, that no probability exists of
  the passage of such an act by a majority of both Houses, either in
  the present or the next Congress. Surely, under these
  circumstances, we ought to be restrained from present action by
  the precept of Him who spake as man never spoke, that “sufficient
  unto the day is the evil thereof.” The day of evil may never come
  unless we shall rashly bring it upon ourselves.

  It is alleged as one cause for immediate secession, that the
  Southern States are denied equal rights with the other States in
  the common Territories. But by what authority are these denied?
  Not by Congress, which has never passed, and I believe never will
  pass, any act to exclude slavery from these Territories. And
  certainly not by the Supreme Court, which has solemnly decided
  that slaves are property, and like all other property their owners
  have a right to take them into the common Territories and hold
  them there under the protection of the Constitution.

  So far, then, as Congress is concerned, the objection is not to
  anything they have already done, but to what they may do
  hereafter. It will surely be admitted that this apprehension of
  future danger is no good reason for an immediate dissolution of
  the Union. It is true that the Territorial legislature of Kansas,
  on the 23d February, 1860, passed in great haste an act over the
  veto of the Governor, declaring that slavery “is and shall be
  forever prohibited in this Territory.” Such an act, however,
  plainly violating the rights of property secured by the
  Constitution, will surely be declared void by the judiciary,
  whenever it shall be presented in a legal form.

  Only three days after my inauguration, the Supreme Court of the
  United States solemnly adjudged that this power did not exist in a
  Territorial legislature. Yet such has been the factious temper of
  the times that the correctness of this decision has been
  extensively impugned before the people, and the question has given
  rise to angry political conflicts throughout the country. Those
  who have appealed from this judgment of our highest constitutional
  tribunal to popular assemblies, would, if they could, invest a
  Territorial legislature with power to annul the sacred rights of
  property. This power Congress is expressly forbidden by the
  Federal Constitution to exercise. Every State legislature in the
  Union is forbidden by its own constitution to exercise it. It
  cannot be exercised in any State except by the people in their
  highest sovereign capacity when framing or amending their State
  constitution. In like manner it can only be exercised by the
  people of a Territory, represented in a convention of delegates,
  for the purpose of framing a constitution preparatory to admission
  as a State into the Union. Then, and not until then, are they
  invested with power to decide the question whether slavery shall
  or shall not exist within their limits. This is an act of
  sovereign authority and not of subordinate Territorial
  legislation. Were it otherwise, then indeed would the equality of
  the States in the Territories be destroyed and the rights of
  property in slaves would depend not upon the guarantees of the
  Constitution, but upon the shifting majorities of an irresponsible
  Territorial legislature. Such a doctrine, from its intrinsic
  unsoundness, cannot long influence any considerable portion of our
  people, much less can it afford a good reason for a dissolution of
  our Union.

  The most palpable violations of constitutional duty which have yet
  been committed consist in the acts of different State legislatures
  to defeat the execution of the fugitive slave law. It ought to be
  remembered, however, that for these acts neither Congress nor any
  President can justly be held responsible. Having been passed in
  violation of the Federal Constitution, they are therefore null and
  void. All the courts, both State and national, before whom the
  question has arisen, have, from the beginning, declared the
  fugitive slave law to be constitutional. The single exception is
  that of a State court in Wisconsin; and this has not only been
  reversed by the proper appellate tribunal, but has met with such
  universal reprobation, that there can be no danger from it as a
  precedent. The validity of this law has been established over and
  over again by the Supreme Court of the United States with
  unanimity. It is founded upon an express provision of the
  Constitution, requiring that fugitive slaves who escape from
  service in one State to another shall be “delivered up” to their
  masters. Without this provision, it is a well known historical
  fact that the Constitution itself could never have been adopted by
  the convention. In one form or other, under the acts of 1793 and
  1850, both being substantially the same, the fugitive slave law
  has been the law of the land from the days of Washington until the
  present moment. Here, then, a clear case is presented, in which it
  will be the duty of the next President, as it has been my own, to
  act with vigor in executing this supreme law against the
  conflicting enactments of State legislatures. Should he fail in
  the performance of this high duty, he will then have manifested a
  disregard of the Constitution and laws, to the great injury of the
  people of nearly one-half of the States of the Union. But are we
  to presume in advance that he will thus violate his duty? This
  would be at war with every principle of justice and of Christian
  charity. Let us wait for the overt act. The fugitive slave law has
  been carried into execution in every contested case since the
  commencement of the present administration; though often, it is to
  be regretted, with great loss and inconvenience to the master, and
  with considerable expense to the Government. Let us trust that the
  State legislatures will repeal their unconstitutional and
  obnoxious enactments. Unless this shall be done without
  unnecessary delay, it is impossible for any human power to save
  the Union.

  The Southern States, standing on the basis of the Constitution,
  have a right to demand this act of justice from the States of the
  North. Should it be refused, then the Constitution, to which all
  the States are parties, will have been wilfully violated by one
  portion of them in a provision essential to the domestic security
  and happiness of the remainder. In that event, the injured States,
  after having first used all peaceful and constitutional means to
  obtain redress, would be justified in revolutionary resistance to
  the Government of the Union.

  I have purposely confined my remarks to revolutionary resistance,
  because it has been claimed within the last few years that any
  State, whenever this shall be its sovereign will and pleasure, may
  secede from the Union in accordance with the Constitution, and
  without any violation of the constitutional rights of the other
  members of the Confederacy. That as each became parties to the
  Union by the vote of its own people assembled in convention, so
  any one of them may retire from the Union in a similar manner by
  the vote of such a convention.

  In order to justify secession as a constitutional remedy, it must
  be on the principle that the Federal Government is a mere
  voluntary association of States, to be dissolved at pleasure by
  any one of the contracting parties. If this be so, the Confederacy
  is a rope of sand, to be penetrated and dissolved by the first
  adverse wave of public opinion in any of the States. In this
  manner our thirty-three States may resolve themselves into as many
  petty, jarring, and hostile republics, each one retiring from the
  Union without responsibility whenever any sudden excitement might
  impel them to such a course. By this process a Union might be
  entirely broken into fragments in a few weeks, which cost our
  forefathers many years of toil, privation, and blood to establish.

  Such a principle is wholly inconsistent with the history as well
  as the character of the Federal Constitution. After it was framed,
  with the greatest deliberation and care, it was submitted to
  conventions of the people of the several States for ratification.
  Its provisions were discussed at length in these bodies, composed
  of the first men of the country. Its opponents contended that it
  conferred powers upon the Federal Government dangerous to the
  rights of the States, whilst its advocates maintained that, under
  a fair construction of the instrument, there was no foundation for
  such apprehensions. In that mighty struggle between the first
  intellects of this or any other country, it never occurred to any
  individual, either among its opponents or advocates, to assert or
  even to intimate that their efforts were all vain labor, because
  the moment that any State felt herself aggrieved she might secede
  from the Union. What a crushing argument would this have proved
  against those who dreaded that the rights of the States would be
  endangered by the Constitution. The truth is, that it was not
  until many years after the origin of the Federal Government that
  such a proposition was first advanced. It was then met and refuted
  by the conclusive arguments of General Jackson, who, in his
  message of the 16th January, 1833, transmitting the nullifying
  ordinance of South Carolina to Congress, employs the following
  language: “The right of the people of a single State to absolve
  themselves at will, and without the consent of the other States,
  from their most solemn obligations, and hazard the liberty and
  happiness of the millions composing this Union, cannot be
  acknowledged. Such authority is believed to be utterly repugnant
  both to the principles upon which the General Government is
  constituted, and to the objects which it was expressly formed to

  It is not pretended that any clause in the Constitution gives
  countenance to such a theory. It is altogether founded upon
  inference, not from any language contained in the instrument
  itself, but from the sovereign character of the several States by
  which it was ratified. But is it beyond the power of a State, like
  an individual, to yield a portion of its sovereign rights to
  secure the remainder? In the language of Mr. Madison, who has been
  called the father of the Constitution, “It was formed by the
  States—that is, by the people in each of the States acting in
  their highest sovereign capacity, and formed, consequently, by the
  same authority which formed the State constitutions. Nor is the
  Government of the United States, created by the Constitution, less
  a government, in the strict sense of the term, within the sphere
  of its powers, than the governments created by the constitutions
  of the States are within their several spheres. It is, like them,
  organized into legislative, executive, and judiciary departments.
  It operates, like them, directly on persons and things; and, like
  them, it has at command a physical force for executing the powers
  committed to it.”

  It was intended to be perpetual, and not to be annulled at the
  pleasure of any one of the contracting parties. The old articles
  of confederation were entitled “Articles of confederation and
  perpetual union between the States;” and by the thirteenth article
  it is expressly declared that “the articles of this confederation
  shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall
  be perpetual.” The preamble to the Constitution of the United
  States, having express reference to the articles of confederation,
  recites that it was established “in order to form a more perfect
  union.” And yet it is contended that this “more perfect union”
  does not include the essential attribute of perpetuity.

  But that the Union was designed to be perpetual, appears
  conclusively from the nature and extent of the powers conferred by
  the Constitution on the Federal Government. These powers embrace
  the very highest attributes of national sovereignty. They place
  both the sword and the purse under its control. Congress has power
  to make war and to make peace; to raise and support armies and
  navies, and to conclude treaties with foreign governments. It is
  invested with the power to coin money, and to regulate the value
  thereof, and to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among
  the several States. It is not necessary to enumerate the other
  high powers which have been conferred upon the Federal Government.
  In order to carry the enumerated powers into effect, Congress
  possesses the exclusive right to lay and collect duties on
  imports, and, in common with the States, to lay and collect all
  other taxes.

  But the Constitution has not only conferred these high powers upon
  Congress, but it has adopted effectual means to restrain the
  States from interfering with their exercise. For that purpose it
  has in strong prohibitory language expressly declared that “no
  State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation;
  grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of
  credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment
  of debts; pass any bill of attainder, _ex post facto_ law, or law
  impairing the obligation of contracts.” Moreover, “without the
  consent of Congress no State shall lay any imposts or duties on
  any imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary
  for executing its inspection laws,” and if they exceed this
  amount, the excess shall belong to the United States. And “no
  State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of
  tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into
  any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign
  power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such
  imminent danger as will not admit of delay.”

  In order still further to secure the uninterrupted exercise of
  these high powers against State interposition, it is provided
  “that this Constitution and the laws of the United States which
  shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which
  shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be
  the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall
  be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any
  State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

  The solemn sanction of religion has been superadded to the
  obligations of official duty, and all Senators and Representatives
  of the United States, all members of State legislatures, and all
  executive and judicial officers, “both of the United States and of
  the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to
  support this Constitution.”

  In order to carry into effect these powers, the Constitution has
  established a perfect Government in all its forms, legislative,
  executive, and judicial; and this Government to the extent of its
  powers acts directly upon the individual citizens of every State,
  and executes its own decrees by the agency of its own officers. In
  this respect it differs entirely from the government under the old
  confederation, which was confined to making requisitions on the
  States in their sovereign character. This left in the discretion
  of each whether to obey or to refuse, and they often declined to
  comply with such requisitions. It thus became necessary for the
  purpose of removing this barrier, and, “in order to form a more
  perfect union,” to establish a Government which could act directly
  upon the people and execute its own laws without the intermediate
  agency of the States. This has been accomplished by the
  Constitution of the United States. In short, the Government
  created by the Constitution, and deriving its authority from the
  sovereign people of each of the several States, has precisely the
  same right to exercise its power over the people of all these
  States in the enumerated cases, that each one of them possesses
  over subjects not delegated to the United States, but “reserved to
  the States respectively or to the people.”

  To the extent of the delegated powers the Constitution of the
  United States is as much a part of the constitution of each State,
  and is as binding upon its people, as though it had been textually
  inserted therein.

  This Government, therefore, is a great and powerful government,
  invested with all the attributes of sovereignty over the special
  subjects to which its authority extends. Its framers never
  intended to implant in its bosom the seeds of its own destruction,
  nor were they at its creation guilty of the absurdity of providing
  for its own dissolution. It was not intended by its framers to be
  the baseless fabric of a vision, which, at the touch of the
  enchanter, would vanish into thin air, but a substantial and
  mighty fabric, capable of resisting the slow decay of time, and of
  defying the storms of ages. Indeed, well may the jealous patriots
  of that day have indulged fears that a government of such high
  powers might violate the reserved rights of the States, and wisely
  did they adopt the rule of a strict construction of these powers
  to prevent the danger. But they did not fear, nor had they any
  reason to imagine that the Constitution would ever be so
  interpreted as to enable any State by her own act, and without the
  consent of her sister States, to discharge her people from all or
  any of the federal obligations.

  It may be asked, then, are the people of the States without
  redress against the tyranny and oppression of the Federal
  Government? By no means. The right of resistance on the part of
  the governed against the oppression of their governments cannot be
  denied. It exists independently of all constitutions, and has been
  exercised at all periods of the world’s history. Under it, old
  governments have been destroyed and new ones have taken their
  place. It is embodied in strong and express language in our own
  Declaration of Independence. But the distinction must ever be
  observed that this is revolution against an established
  government, and not a voluntary secession from it by virtue of an
  inherent constitutional right. In short, let us look the danger
  fairly in the face; secession is neither more nor less than
  revolution. It may or it may not be a justifiable revolution; but
  still it is revolution.

  What, in the meantime, is the responsibility and true position of
  the Executive? He is bound by solemn oath, before God and the
  country, “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and
  from this obligation he cannot be absolved by any human power. But
  what if the performance of this duty, in whole or in part, has
  been rendered impracticable by events over which he could have
  exercised no control? Such, at the present moment, is the case
  throughout the State of South Carolina, so far as the laws of the
  United States to secure the administration of justice by means of
  the federal judiciary are concerned. All the federal officers
  within its limits, through whose agency alone these laws can be
  carried into execution, have already resigned. We no longer have a
  district judge, a district attorney, or a marshal in South
  Carolina. In fact, the whole machinery of the Federal Government
  necessary for the distribution of remedial justice among the
  people has been demolished, and it would be difficult, if not
  impossible, to replace it.

  The only acts of Congress on the statute book, bearing upon this
  subject, are those of the 28th February, 1795, and 3d March, 1807.
  These authorize the President, after he shall have ascertained
  that the marshal, with his posse comitatus, is unable to execute
  civil or criminal process in any particular case, to call forth
  the militia and employ the army and navy to aid him in performing
  this service, having first by proclamation commanded the
  insurgents “to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective
  abodes within a limited time.” This duty cannot by possibility be
  performed in a State where no judicial authority exists to issue
  process, and where there is no marshal to execute it, and where,
  even if there were such an officer, the entire population would
  constitute one solid combination to resist him.

  The bare enumeration of these provisions proves how inadequate
  they are, without further legislation, to overcome a united
  opposition in a single State, not to speak of other States who may
  place themselves in a similar attitude. Congress alone has power
  to decide whether the present laws can or cannot be amended so as
  to carry out more effectually the objects of the Constitution.

  The same insuperable obstacles do not lie in the way of executing
  the laws for the collection of the customs. The revenue still
  continues to be collected, as heretofore, at the custom-house in
  Charleston, and should the collector unfortunately resign, a
  successor may be appointed to perform this duty.

  Then, in regard to the property of the United States in South
  Carolina. This has been purchased, for a fair equivalent, “by the
  consent of the legislature of the State,” “for the erection of
  forts, magazines, arsenals,” etc., and over these the authority
  “to exercise exclusive legislation,” has been expressly granted by
  the Constitution to Congress. It is not believed that any attempt
  will be made to expel the United States from this property by
  force; but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer
  in command of the forts has received orders to act strictly on the
  defensive. In such a contingency the responsibility for
  consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the

  Apart from the execution of the laws, so far as this may be
  practicable, the Executive has no authority to decide what shall
  be the relations between the Federal Government and South
  Carolina. He has been invested with no such discretion. He
  possesses no power to change the relations heretofore existing
  between them, much less to acknowledge the independence of that
  State. This would be to invest a mere executive officer with the
  power of recognizing the dissolution of the Confederacy among our
  thirty-three sovereign States. It bears no resemblance to the
  recognition of a foreign _de facto_ government, involving no such
  responsibility. Any attempt to do this would, on his part, be a
  naked act of usurpation. It is, therefore, my duty to submit to
  Congress the whole question in all its bearings. The course of
  events is so rapidly hastening forward that the emergency may soon
  arise when you may be called upon to decide the momentous question
  whether you possess the power, by force of arms, to compel a State
  to remain in the Union. I should feel myself recreant to my duty
  were I not to express an opinion on this important subject.

  The question fairly stated is: Has the Constitution delegated to
  Congress the power to coerce a State into submission which is
  attempting to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn, from the
  Confederacy? If answered in the affirmative, it must be on the
  principle that the power has been conferred upon Congress to
  declare and to make war against a State. After much serious
  reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power
  has been delegated to Congress or to any other department of the
  Federal Government. It is manifest, upon an inspection of the
  Constitution, that this is not among the specific and enumerated
  powers granted to Congress; and it is equally apparent that its
  exercise is not “necessary and proper for carrying into execution”
  any one of these powers. So far from this power having been
  delegated to Congress, it was expressly refused by the convention
  which framed the Constitution.

  It appears from the proceedings of that body that on the 31st May,
  1787, the clause “_authorizing an exertion of the force of the
  whole against a delinquent State_,” came up for consideration. Mr.
  Madison opposed it in a brief but powerful speech, from which I
  shall extract but a single sentence. He observed: “The use of
  force against a State would look more like a declaration of war
  than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered
  by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by
  which it might be bound.” Upon his motion the clause was
  unanimously postponed, and was never, I believe, again presented.
  Soon afterwards, on the 8th June, 1787, when incidentally
  adverting to the subject, he said: “Any government for the United
  States, formed on the supposed practicability of using force
  against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States, would
  prove as visionary and fallacious as the Government of Congress,”
  evidently meaning the then existing Congress of the old

  Without descending to particulars, it may be safely asserted that
  the power to make war against a State is at variance with the
  whole spirit and intent of the Constitution. Suppose such a war
  should result in the conquest of a State, how are we to govern it
  afterwards? Shall we hold it as a province and govern it by
  despotic power? In the nature of things we could not, by physical
  force, control the will of the people and compel them to elect
  Senators and Representatives to Congress, and to perform all the
  other duties depending upon their own volition, and required from
  the free citizens of a free State as a constituent member of the

  But, if we possessed this power, would it be wise to exercise it
  under existing circumstances? The object would doubtless be to
  preserve the Union. War would not only present the most effectual
  means of destroying it, but would banish all hope of its peaceful
  reconstruction. Besides, in the fraternal conflict a vast amount
  of blood and treasure would be expended, rendering future
  reconciliation between the States impossible. In the meantime, who
  can foretell what would be the sufferings and privations of the
  people during its existence?

  The fact is, that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can
  never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war.
  If it cannot live in the affections of the people, it must one day
  perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by
  conciliation; but the sword was not placed in their hand to
  preserve it by force.

  But may I be permitted solemnly to invoke my countrymen to pause
  and deliberate, before they determine to destroy this, the
  grandest temple which has ever been dedicated to human freedom
  since the world began. It has been consecrated by the blood of our
  fathers, by the glories of the past, and by the hopes of the
  future. The Union has already made us the most prosperous, and ere
  long will, if preserved, render us the most powerful nation on the
  face of the earth. In every foreign region of the globe the title
  of American citizen is held in the highest respect, and when
  pronounced in a foreign land it causes the hearts of our
  countrymen to swell with honest pride. Surely, when we reach the
  brink of the yawning abyss, we shall recoil with horror from the
  last fatal plunge.

  By such a dread catastrophe, the hopes of the friends of freedom
  throughout the world would be destroyed, and a long night of
  leaden despotism would enshroud the nations. Our example for more
  than eighty years would not only be lost, but it would be quoted
  as conclusive proof that man is unfit for self-government.

  It is not every wrong—nay, it is not every grievous wrong—which
  can justify a resort to such a fearful alternative. This ought to
  be the last desperate remedy of a despairing people, after every
  other constitutional means of conciliation had been exhausted. We
  should reflect that, under this free Government, there is an
  incessant ebb and flow in public opinion. The slavery question,
  like everything human, will have its day. I firmly believe that it
  has reached and passed the culminating point. But if, in the midst
  of the existing excitement, the Union shall perish, the evil may
  then become irreparable.

  Congress can contribute much to avert it, by proposing and
  recommending to the legislatures of the several States the remedy
  for existing evils which the Constitution has itself provided for
  its own preservation. This has been tried at different critical
  periods of our history, and always with eminent success. It is to
  be found in the fifth article, providing for its own amendment.
  Under this article, amendments have been proposed by two-thirds of
  both Houses of Congress, and have been “ratified by the
  legislatures of three-fourths of the several States,” and have
  consequently become parts of the Constitution. To this process the
  country is indebted for the clause prohibiting Congress from
  passing any law respecting an establishment of religion, or
  abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or of the right
  of petition. To this we are, also, indebted for the Bill of
  Rights, which secures the people against any abuse of power by the
  Federal Government. Such were the apprehensions justly entertained
  by the friends of State rights at that period as to have rendered
  it extremely doubtful whether the Constitution could have long
  survived without those amendments.

  Again, the Constitution was amended by the same process, after the
  election of President Jefferson by the House of Representatives,
  in February, 1803. This amendment was rendered necessary to
  prevent a recurrence of the dangers which had seriously threatened
  the existence of the Government during the pendency of that
  election. The article for its own amendment was intended to secure
  the amicable adjustment of conflicting constitutional questions
  like the present, which might arise between the governments of the
  States and that of the United States. This appears from
  contemporaneous history. In this connection, I shall merely call
  attention to a few sentences in Mr. Madison’s justly celebrated
  report, in 1799, to the legislature of Virginia. In this, he ably
  and conclusively defended the resolutions of the preceding
  legislature, against the strictures of several other State
  legislatures. These were mainly founded upon the protest of the
  Virginia legislature against the “alien and sedition acts,” as
  “palpable and alarming infractions of the Constitution.” In
  pointing out the peaceful and constitutional remedies—and he
  referred to none other—to which the States were authorized to
  resort on such occasions, he concludes by saying, “that the
  legislatures of the States might have made a direct representation
  to Congress, with a view to obtain a rescinding of the two
  offensive acts, or they might have represented to their respective
  Senators in Congress, their wish that two-thirds thereof would
  propose an explanatory amendment to the Constitution, or
  two-thirds of themselves, if such had been their option, might by
  an application to Congress, have obtained a convention for the
  same object.” This is the very course which I earnestly recommend,
  in order to obtain an “explanatory amendment” of the Constitution
  on the subject of slavery. This might originate with Congress or
  the State legislatures, as may be deemed most advisable to attain
  the object.

  The explanatory amendment might be confined to the final
  settlement of the true construction of the Constitution on three
  special points:

  1. An express recognition of the right of property in slaves in
  the States where it now exists or may hereafter exist.

  2. The duty of protecting this right in all the common Territories
  throughout their Territorial existence, and until they shall be
  admitted as States into the Union, with or without slavery, as
  their constitutions may prescribe.

  3. A like recognition of the right of the master to have his
  slave, who has escaped from one State to another, restored and
  “delivered up” to him, and of the validity of the fugitive slave
  law enacted for this purpose, together with a declaration that all
  State laws impairing or defeating this right, are violations of
  the Constitution, and are consequently null and void. It may be
  objected that this construction of the Constitution has already
  been settled by the Supreme Court of the United States, and what
  more ought to be required? The answer is, that a very large
  proportion of the people of the United States still contest the
  correctness of this decision, and never will cease from agitation,
  and admit its binding force, until clearly established by the
  people of the several States in their sovereign character. Such an
  explanatory amendment would, it is believed, forever terminate the
  existing dissensions, and restore peace and harmony among the

  It ought not to be doubted that such an appeal to the arbitrament
  established by the Constitution itself would be received with
  favor by all the States of the Confederacy. In any event, it ought
  to be tried in a spirit of conciliation before any of these States
  shall separate themselves from the Union.

  When I entered upon the duties of the Presidential office, the
  aspect neither of our foreign nor domestic affairs was at all
  satisfactory. We were involved in dangerous complications with
  several nations, and two of our Territories were in a state of
  revolution against the Government. A restoration of the African
  slave trade had numerous and powerful advocates. Unlawful military
  expeditions were countenanced by many of our citizens, and were
  suffered, in defiance of the efforts of the Government, to escape
  from our shores for the purpose of making war upon the unoffending
  people of neighboring republics with whom we were at peace. In
  addition to these and other difficulties, we experienced a
  revulsion in monetary affairs, soon after my advent to power, of
  unexampled severity, and of ruinous consequences to all the great
  interests of the country. When we take a retrospect of what was
  then our condition, and contrast this with its material prosperity
  at the time of the late Presidential election, we have abundant
  reason to return our grateful thanks to that merciful Providence
  which has never forsaken us as a nation in all our past trials.

With respect to the supposed right of secession as a deduction from
the nature of the Union, as established by the Constitution—a theory
on which the secessionists from the first desired the whole issue to
be based, with all its resulting consequences—I shall close this
chapter with the remark that, after a long familiarity with our
constitutional literature, I know of no document which, within the
same compass, states so clearly and accurately what I regard as the
true theory of our Constitution, as this message of President
Buchanan. Had I the power to change it, I would not alter a word.
The President, after stating a case which might justify revolution
under this as under all other governments, after all peaceful and
constitutional means to obtain redress had been exhausted, proceeded
to discuss the supposed constitutional right of secession, with the
power of a statesman and the precision of a jurist.[78]

Footnote 78:

  Mr. Buchanan, in constructing this great argument, doubtless had
  very important sources from which to draw his reasoning, in Mr.
  Webster’s replies to Mr. Hayne and Mr. Calhoun, in General
  Jackson’s great proclamation and message in the time of
  nullification, in the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United
  States, in the writings of Hamilton, Madison and others of the
  early expounders of the Constitution. But who can justly deny to
  him the merit of concentrating his materials into a powerful
  statement, of that theory of our Constitution on which the
  rightfulness of the late civil war must rest in history, or be
  left without any justification but the power of numbers and the
  principle that might makes right!

Among all the reproaches that have been cast upon President
Buchanan, none has been more persistently repeated than that which
has imputed to him a “temporizing policy;” and the doctrine on which
he denied that the Federal Government could make aggressive war upon
a State for the purpose of preventing her from seceding from the
Union, has been represented as the strongest proof of his want of
the vigor necessary for the emergency. Little are the objectors
aware that the policy of Mr. Lincoln’s administration, until after
the attack on Fort Sumter, was identical with that of Mr. Buchanan.
Mr. Lincoln’s policy was largely shaped by his Secretary of State,
Mr. Seward; and there can be no better authority than Mr. Seward’s
for proof of that policy.[79]

Footnote 79:

  The following extracts are taken from an official letter addressed
  by Mr. Seward, as Secretary of State, to Mr. C. F. Adams, who had
  just gone abroad as United States Minister to England. The letter
  bears date April 10th, 1861. “You will hardly be asked by
  responsible statesmen abroad, why has not the new administration
  already suppressed the revolution. Thirty-five days are a short
  period in which to repress, chiefly by moral means, a movement
  which is so active whilst disclosing itself throughout an
  empire...... He (President Lincoln) believes that the citizens of
  those States, as well as the citizens of the other States, are too
  intelligent, considerate, and wise to follow the leaders to that
  destructive end (anarchy). For these reasons, he would not be
  disposed to reject a cardinal dogma of theirs, namely, that the
  Federal Government could not reduce the seceding States to
  obedience by conquest, even although he were disposed to question
  that proposition. But, in fact, the President willingly accepts it
  as true. Only an imperial and despotic government could subjugate
  thoroughly disaffected and insurrectionary members of the state.
  This federal, republican country of ours is of all forms of
  government the very one which is most unfitted for such a labor.
  Happily, however, this is only an imaginary defect. The system has
  within itself adequate, peaceful, conservative and recuperative
  forces. Firmness on the part of the Government in maintaining and
  preserving the public institutions and property, and in executing
  the laws where authority can be exercised without waging war,
  combined with such measures of justice, moderation and forbearance
  as will disarm reasoning opposition, will be sufficient to secure
  the public safety, until returning reflection, concurring with the
  fearful experience of social evils, the inevitable fruits of
  faction, shall bring the recusant members cheerfully into the
  family, which, after all, must prove their best and happiest, as
  it undeniably is their most natural home.” He then goes on to show
  that the calling of a national convention, by authority of
  Congress, will remove all real obstacles to a re-union, by
  revising the Constitution, and he adds: “Keeping that remedy
  steadily in view, the President on the one hand will not suffer
  the Federal authority to fall into abeyance, nor will he on the
  other hand aggravate existing evils by attempts at coercion which
  must assume the form of direct war against any of the
  revolutionary States.” It is impossible for human ingenuity to
  draw a sensible distinction between the policy of President
  Lincoln, as laid down by Mr. Seward just before the attack on Fort
  Sumter, and the policy adopted and steadily pursued by President
  Buchanan; and it is to be hoped that the world will hereafter hear
  no more reproaches of President Buchanan, because he denied the
  authority of the Federal Government to make aggressive war upon a
  State to compel it to remain in the Union, or because he proposed
  conciliatory measures looking to an amendment of the Constitution.

                             CHAPTER XVII.


Reference has already been made to what took place when this annual
message was read to the cabinet, before it was transmitted to
Congress. Recent revelations made by Judge Black in the public
prints disclose the nature of an objection made by him to the
expression “to coerce a State into submission, which is attempting
to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn, from the Confederacy.” His
criticism did not apply to the legal proposition of the message, in
which he entirely concurred; but his apprehension was that the
expression would be read superficially, and be misunderstood. The
President did not think so, nor did the other members of the
cabinet. It is only necessary for me to repeat that the message
clearly and unequivocally pointed out that the coercive power of the
Federal Government was necessarily confined and must be applied to
the execution upon individuals of the laws of the United States; and
that it explicitly stated, with proper references to the proceedings
of the framers of the Constitution, that a power to coerce a State
by force of arms was expressly rejected by them, since it would, if
applied, be equivalent to a declaration of war against the State by
the Government of the Union. But the apprehension felt by the
learned Attorney General was caused, I presume, by his anxiety
concerning the reception of the message in the South and among the
secessionists. It was their misconstruction that he feared. He could
not well have supposed that Northern statesmen, grounded at least in
the fundamental principles of the Constitution usually accepted at
the North, and with the clear distinction put before them in the
message between coercing a State and coercing individuals, would
impute to the President an intention to renounce the right to use
force in the execution of the laws and the protection of the public
property of the Union. In point of fact, as the sequel will show,
nearly the whole Republican party, after the message became public,
without any rational excuse for such a misconstruction, saw fit to
treat the message as a denial by the President of any power to
enforce the laws against the citizens of a State after secession,
and even after actual rebellion. If this was what the Attorney
General anticipated, it would seem that the President, having taken
great care to make clear the distinction, was not bound to suppose
that a merely partisan spirit of misrepresentation would be applied
to such a document as this message, to the extent of utterly
perverting its meaning. On the other hand, the disunionists did not
misunderstand or misconstrue the message. They saw clearly that it
not only denounced secession, but that while it enunciated the
doctrine that the Federal Government could not apply force to
prevent a State from adopting an ordinance of secession, it could
and must use force, if need be, to execute its laws, notwithstanding
the secession. This was a doctrine opposed _toto cælo_, and in all
its branches, to the secessionist’s theory of the Constitution. It
met them upon their own ground, for it utterly denied that a State
ordinance of secession could absolve its people from obeying the
laws of the United States. Accordingly they denounced the message;
and upon their theory of the Constitution they denounced it rightly.
All friendly intercourse between the leading disunionists in
Congress and the President ceased after the message became public;
and from the multitude of private letters which reached the
President from the South, now lying before me, it is apparent that
throughout that section he was regarded, alike by the enemies and
the friends of the Union, as having made the issue on which the
secessionists desired to have the whole controversy turn. They were
just as ready to accept the issue of a constitutional power in the
Federal Government to enforce its laws after secession, as they were
to accept the issue of coercing a State to remain in the Union.

As soon as the message was published, “thick as autumnal leaves that
strew the brooks in Vallambrosa,” private letters of approbation
were showered upon the President from all quarters of the North. The
most diverse reasons for praising his policy marked this
heterogeneous correspondence. The Democrat, who was afraid to have a
civil war begin under a Democratic administration, predicted that it
would destroy his party forever. The pious “abolitionist,” who saw
the finger of God in everything, and who prayed daily for a
separation of the free and the slave States, so that the reproach of
tolerating slavery might no longer rest upon the Constitution of his
country, hailed the annunciation of a policy which he thought
destined, in the course of Providence, to work out the result which
he longed to see. The Quaker, who abhorred war and bloodshed, hoped
that “thee” would preserve peace at any price. The man of business,
looking to his material interests and to the commercial advantages
of the Union, deprecated a civil war which would disturb the natural
current of affairs, and would end where no man could foresee.
Thoughtful citizens, who comprehended more within their range of
reflection than was common with their neighbors, recognized the
wisdom and the necessity of the conciliatory steps which the
President had recommended. The speculative jurist, meditating in his
closet upon what he supposed might be a panacea for this disordered
condition of the body politic, sent his recommendations. Nearly all
of these classes, in their various ways of looking at such a crisis,
were on the whole gratified that the President had afforded to the
country a breathing spell, had solemn