Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1070, p. 48-49.
January 19, 1861
The Secession Movement.
Intelligence received from New York to the 3rd inst. gives no indication of a peaceful solution of the secession question. The President has replied to the commissioners of South Carolina, and peremptorily refused to withdraw the troops from Charleston Harbour, and informed them that he not only intends to collect the revenue and execute the laws, but also to defend the property of the United States with all the force at his command. This firm position of the President
Page 49filled the commissioners with consternation, and they telegraphed to Charleston and urged the Governor to put the State on a war footing. Two war steamers were to be dispatched to Charleston, and it was rumoured that all the important posts in the South would be immediately reinforced. The militia of Columbia was to be reorganised. In the New York State Legislature, in response to a message from the Governor, a resolution had been proposed authorising him to tender to the national administration 10,000 militia to put down the insurrection in the South.
Mr. Floyd, the Secretary of War, tendered his resignation on the 29th ult., which was accepted by the President. It is said that there was an understanding between the President and the Secretary on the one hand, and the Commissioners from South Carolina on the other, that the position of military affairs at Charleston was to undergo no alteration. Hence the act of Major Anderson in abandoning Fort Moultrie and occupying Fort Sumter was stigmatised as a breach of faith by the Commissioners, who required that the troops should return to the first-named fort, which, be it remembered, may be easily captured, while the other, if not impregnable, is, at all events, capable of a very stout defence. Secretary Floyd was in favour of yielding to this demand; but a majority of the Cabinet voted for supporting Major Anderson in the step which he had taken. Hence the resignation of Mr. Floyd, who could not well remain in office after such a serious difference of opinion between himself and his colleagues.
The greatest excitement continues to prevail in both Houses of Congress. Senator Benjamin, of Louisiana, has delivered a strong secession speech, which no doubt indicates accurately the course which his State will pursue. On the 31st of December the Serjeant at arms was ordered to clear the galleries of the Senate Chamber, and a resolution was carried in the House of Representatives, directing the committee on military affairs to inquire into the distribution of arms during the past year.
South Carolina has assumed all the prerogatives of sovereignty. She has passed ordinances for the regulation of the revenue collection and the navigation laws. She has authorised the Governor to appoint ambassadors and consuls to foreign States, and also to form an executive or cabinet council.
On the 26th of December the following ordinance was passed by the South Carolina Convention:—
Whereas, it is due to our late confederates, known as the United States of America, as also the citizens of South Carolina engaged in commerce, that no abrupt or sudden change be made in the rate of duties on imports into the State; and whereas it is not desired by this State to secure advantages in trade to her own ports above those of any of the slave-holding States, her late confederates in the said union; and whereas this ordinance, for considerations indicated, is designed to be provisional merely, therefore we, the people of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, do declare, ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained;—
1. That all citizens of this State who at the date of the ordinance of secession were holding office connected with the customs, under the general Government of the United States, within the limits of South Carolina, be, and they are hereby appointed to hold, under the Government of this State exclusively, without any further connection whatever with the Federal Government of the United States, the same offices they now fill, until otherwise directed, and that they receive the same pay and emoluments for their services.
2. That until this Convention or the General Assembly shall otherwise provide, the Governor shall appoint to all vacancies which may occur in such offices.
3. That until it is otherwise provided by this Convention or the General Assembly, the revenue collection and navigation laws of the United States as far as may be practicable, be, and they are hereby adopted and made laws of this State, saving that no duties shall be collected upon imports from the States forming the late Federal Union, known as the United States of America, nor upon the tonnage of vessels owned in whole or in part by the citizens of the said States, saving and excepting the Act of Congress adopted on the 3rd day of March, 1857, entitled "An Act authorising the deposit of the papers of foreign vessels with the Consuls of their respective nations," which said Act is hereby declared to be of do [sic] force within the limits of this State.
4. All vessels built in South Carolina or elsewhere, and owned to the amount of one-third by a citizen or citizens of South Carolina, or any of the slave-holding commonwealths of North America, and commanded by citizens thereof, and no other, shall be registered as vessels of South Carolina, under the authority of the collector and naval officer.
5. All official acts of the officers aforesaid, in which it is usual and proper to set forth the authority under which they act, or style of documents issued by thenr[sic] or any of them, shall be in the name of the State of South Carolina.
6. All moneys hereafter collected by any officers aforesaid shall, after deducting the sums necessary for the compensation of the officers and other expenses, be paid into the treasury of the State of South Carolina, for the use of the said State, subject to the order of this Convention, or the General Assembly.
7. The officers aforesaid shall retain in their hands all property of the United States in their possession, custody, or control, subject to the disposal of the State, who will account for the same upon a final settlement with the Governor of the United States.
Done at Charleston the 26th day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1860.
B.F. Arthur, Clerk.
Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, had issued the following proclamation:—
By his Excellency Francis W. Pickens, Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the State of South Carolina:—
Whereas, the good people of this State, in Convention assembled, by an ordinance unanimously adopted and ratified on the twentieth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, repealed an ordinance of the people of this State adopted on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, and have thereby dissolved the Union between the State of South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America.
I, therefore, as Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the State of South Carolina, by virtue of authority in me vested, do hereby proclaim to the world that this State is, as she has a right to be, a separate, sovereign, free, and independent State; and, as such, has a right to levy war, conclude peace, negotiate treaties, leagues, or covenants, and to do all acts whatsoever that rightly appertain to a free and independent State.
Given under my hand and the seal of this State, at Charleston, this twenty-forth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, and in the eighty-fifth year of the sovereignty and independence of South Carolina.
The Charleston Mercury thus describes the signing of the Secession Ordinance:—
The scene was one profoundly grand and impressive. There were a people assembled through their highest representatives—men most of them upon whose heads the snow of sixty winters had been shed—patriarchs in age—the dignitaries of the land—the high priests of the church of Christ—reverend statesmen—and the wise judges of the law. In the midst of deep silence an old man, with bowed form and hair white as snow, the Rev. Dr. Bachman, advanced forward, with upraised hands, in prayer to Almighty God, for his blessing and favour in this good act of his people about to be consummated. The whole assembly at once rose to its feet, and, with hats off, listened to the touching and eloquent appeal to the All Wise Dispenser of Events. At the close of the prayer the President advanced with the consecrated parchment upon which was inscribed the decision of the State, with the great seal attached. Slowly and solemnly it was read to the last word—dissolved; when men could contain themselves no longer, and a shout that shook the very building, reverberating, long continued, rose to heaven, and ceased only with the loss of breath. In proud, grave silence, the Convention itself waited the end with beating hearts. The members of the Convention then advanced, one by one, and placed their signature to the ordinance, after which, amidst the most tumultuous applause, the President proclaimed the State of South Carolina a separate, independent nationality.