Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

under the escort of all the troops that General Scott could collect at Washington, the inaugural procession moved from Willard's Hotel to the Capitol, and Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as President of the United States.

XXII

THE WAR FOR THE UNION

I

N his inaugural address President Lincoln declared

that he had “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery where it exists,” but that the power given to him by the Constitution would be used to enforce the laws and preserve the Union. To this purpose he steadily adhered. However logical a consequence of war the abolition of slavery might be, however intimate the historical connection between slavery and secession, it was primarily to prevent secession rather than to abolish slavery that the great Civil War was fought. Nor was it the war that legally destroyed slavery. The larger part of the slaves were emancipated, as a legitimate military measure, before the war was over, but not until the Constitution had been amended did slavery itself disappear. No man in public life would have gone further to prevent a rupture between North and South than Lincoln, as none would have dealt more tenderly with the South after Appomattox; yet none saw more clearly, or kept in view more steadily, the precise ground on which the contest must for a time be carried on.

It was highly important, as a matter of policy, that the federal government should, if possible, maintain its rights unimpaired without being the first to use force. If there was to be war, it would be greatly to the advantage of the North could the first act of aggression come from the South. Occasion soon offered. Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, was the only fort in the northern part of the Confederacy remaining in federal hands. An attempt to relieve it in January had been unsuccessful, the steamer Star of the West, carrying provisions and men, having been fired upon by South Carolina batteries on shore and turned back. The garrison, including non-combatants, consisted of 128 men under command of Major Anderson. After careful consideration it was decided to send provisions to Fort Sumter. The decision precipitated the inevitable war. On April 11th General Beauregard, in command of the Confederate forces in South Carolina, summoned Major Anderson to surrender. The summons was refused, though Anderson offered to evacuate the fort on the 15th, provided supplies or contrary orders from Washington were not received by that time. The reply was adjudged unsatisfactory, and early the next morning the Confederate batteries opened fire. After a bombardment of thirty-four hours, in which the fort was practically destroyed, the garrison surrendered, being allowed to fire a parting salute to the flag as they withdrew.

On April 15th Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers. The response from most of the northern States was prompt, and troops were shortly hastening to the defence of Washington, for the moment in a practically defenceless condition. The capital was not reached without difficulty. On April 19th the Sixth Massachusetts regiment, marching from one railroad station to another in Baltimore, was

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »