Foreign and Colonial News.The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1072, pp. 88-89.
February 2, 1861
Mr. Buchanan sent a special message to Congress on the 9th ult., on the state of the Union, and it was referred to Special Committees. He leaves to that body the responsibility of initiating a war policy, while at the same time he strongly condemns the conduct of the seceding States in taking possession of Federal property, and justifies the employment of defensive measures. He expresses his approval of the proposal to draw a line, on one side of which slavery may, and on the other it may not, exist. The only suggestion he makes is, that a National Convention should be held for the purpose of considering measures of adjustment.
The largest crowd that ever assembled inside the Senate House met on the 12th ult. to hear the speech of the Hon. W. H. Seward on the national crisis. The full Diplomatic Corps were in attendance, the galleries were crammed almost to suffocation, and numbers went away unable to obtain admission. Mr. Seward's remarks were listened to with the most profound attention. He said, "Mutual recrimination and Congressional compromises are not likely to save the Union. The Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereto are supreme. The laws of the land are paramount to all State legislation. The Union can only be dissolved by the voluntary consent of the people of the United States in the manner prescribed by the Constitution. The Congress ought, if it can, to redress any real grievances of the offended States, and should then supply the President with the means necessary to maintain the authority of the Union." Mr. Seward then proceeded to point out the numerous advantages of the Union, "while a dissolution," he said, "will be perpetual civil war." He concluded by saying that when the angry excitement had sudsided [sic] and calmness had resumed its sway, and not till then, would he advise that a Convention of the people be assembled to consider what amendments in the organic national law ought to be made.
No proceedings have grown out of Mr. Seward's speech, but it was
Page 89said to have exercised a soothing effect upon the public mind. It had, however, failed to give entire satisfaction to the members of the Senator's own party. Mr. Crittenden's resolutions were still kept in abeyance in the Senate. Mr. Bigler, of Pennsylvania, presented a bill proposing amendments to the Constitution, substantially the same as those proposed by Mr. Crittenden; but it is obvious from the tone adopted by the Republican party, and especially by their leading organs in the press, that they will never agree to a partition of the territories in the interest of slavery. A part of Mr. Bigler's scheme was to submit the compromise to a popular vote on the 12th of February. A show of resistance to the passing of the Army and Navy Appropriation Bills was made by the Southern representatives, but a compromise was effected in the shape of an agreement that a three days' debate on the subject should take place. The proceedings of Congress on the 18th of January were unusually important. In the Senate a motion to reconsider the vote whereby the Crittenden adjustment was laid on the table was reconsidered, all the Republicans voting against. A motion was then made to insert Mr. Bigler's plan, and it was made the special order for Monday. There are indications that lead to the belief that this will pass. The remainder of the Session was devoted to the bill for the admission of Kansas. In the House the debate on the crisis was continued, and concluded by Mr. Sherman, of Ohio.
The Bremen, which arrived at Southhampton on Wednesday, brings us the announcement that Georgia has followed the example of her sister States of South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and has withdrawn from the Union. The secession resolution was adopted on the 17th ult., when the State Convention formally resolved that it was the duty of Georgia to secede from the Union, and appointed a committee to draw up an ordinance of secession. The resolution was strongly opposed in the Convention, having been carried by only a majority of 165 to 136 votes.
The New York Democratic State Committee, in view of the alarming condition of the country, had issued a call for an election of four delegates in each Assembly district, to hold a State Convention at Albany on the 31st of January.
Florida has appointed delegates to a Southern Congress.
The Virginia House of Representatives has passed a bill appropriating 1,000,000 dollars for the defence of the State, and a bill authorising the issue of Treasury notes to that amount, bearing six per cent interest.
Several forts and the Baton Rouge Arsenal had been taken in Louisiana by the Secessionists. Armed bodies of Florida and Alabama troops had seized the Pensacola Navy-yard, which contained a considerable quantity of warlike stores. The steamer Fulton was also captured. The Crusader and the Wynadotte only escaped by getting up steam and moving out of harm's way.
Commissioners from South Carolina had arrived in Washington for the purpose of demanding the evacuation of Fort Sumter, with a threat to attack the fort if it should not be surrendered. Their request would, we are assured, be rejected by President Buchanan.
The Star of the West had returned to New York with troops, and with her bows damaged by a shot. It appears that it was not until several shots had actually struck her that the Star of the West desisted from the attempt to convey reinforcements to Fort Sumter. Major Anderson threatened, in consequence of the stoppage of his reinforcements, to prevent any ships from entering Charleston harbour, but ultimately resolved to delay action until he should have received orders from Washington. The British Consul at Charleston has written to the Secretary of the Admiralty to say that the de facto Government of South Carolina had not only caused the lighthouse beacons, buoys, &c, of that coast and harbour to be removed, but that it had sunk vessels in all the channels excepting one. This channel will only be navigable for vessels of light draught. The South Carolina authorities have notified to Major Anderson their determination to capture the fort if not surrendered.
An enthusiastic demonstration by working men against coercing the Southern States was held in New York City on the evening of the 14th ult.