Abbildungen der Seite

these testimonies? Who can doubt the
fact that Mr. Stanton, in the extraor
dinary emergencies of that dark win-
ter, did put himself in communication
with Republican members of Congress?
Who can resist the belief that the
motives which then actuated him were
as pure and lofty as ever glowed in a
patriot's bosom? Will the naked and
unsupported assertions and imputa-
tions of Mr. Black, however vehemently
and persistently made, shake the faith
and confidence of the American peo-
ple in the loyalty and honor of Edwin
M. Stanton?

because they were 'suspicious characters.'

"We were more than once told it would probably be necessary to arrest a certain member of the Cabinet for treason. Once we were told it would probably have to be within an hour, but to wait until we could hear a second time. Word came to hold on. Those messages certainly came from some member of the Cabinet. I always supposed something was going on there about that time. If so, probably Mr. Black did not know anything about it; and most likely Mr. Stanton's great modesty prevented his doing or saying anything about it. Mr. Black informs us, too, that Mr. Stanton was at that time a Democrat': perhaps that prevented his doing anything about these matters. For obvious reasons personal interviews with Cabinet ministers were avoided during the labors of the committee; but I do know I many times sent inquiries, and always received answers with great promptness, conveying information of great importance. But these communications were indirect and anonymous."

Equally explicit is the testimony of Mr. Dawes, another member of that committee. In an article written immediately after the death of Mr. Stanton and published in the "Congregationalist" of Boston, he stated that some of the most important and secret plans of the conspirators became known and were thwarted by means of communications from Mr. Stanton to the committee. "Once a member of that committee," said Mr. Dawes in this article, "read by the light of the street lamps these words: Secretary · is a traitor, depend upon it. He declared in Cabinet to-day that he did not want to deliver this government intact into the hands of the black Republicans. Arrest him instantly, or all will be lost. The paper went back to its hiding-place, but the Secretary, though he walked the streets unmolested, was watched from that hour."



In my article, I stated, on what I deemed unquestionable authority, that Mr. Stanton had, before entering the Cabinet, advised Mr. Buchanan to incorporate into his message the doctrine that the Federal government had the power, and that it was its duty, to coerce seceding States. Mr. Black positively declares that Mr. Stanton never was consulted on that subject by the President, and that he never gave such advice. Mr. Dawes, in his article in the "Congregationalist,” makes this statement in clear and emphatic language.

"It was," he says, "while these plans for a coup d'état before the 4th of March were being matured in the very Cabinet itself, and in the presence of a President too feeble to resist them and too blind even to see them, that Mr. Stanton was sent for by Mr. Buchanan, to answer the question, 'Can a State be coerced?' For two hours he battled, and finally scattered for the time being the heresies with which secession had filled the head of that old broken-down man. He was requested to prepare an argument in support of the power, to be inserted in the forthcoming message. He did it in language that neither time nor argument has improved upon, and his statement of the power was adopted by the President and inserted in the message. Had it remained as the doctrine of the administration, its whole attitude towards the Rebellion would have been changed,

Who can question the truthfulness of and the result no one can now state.

[ocr errors]

"Mr. Stanton left the city immediately, for the trial of an important cause in Pittsburg, and saw no more of the President or men in Washington, until summoned by telegraph to a place in the crumbling Cabinet in the last days of December. Meantime the traitors had overborne the President, and events were rapidly culminating. Two days before the meeting of Congress they had frightened him into expunging from his message the assertion of the power to coerce a State in rebellion, and to insert in its place the contrary doctrine."

This statement was made on the authority of Mr. Stanton himself. In a letter written to me a few weeks since Mr. Dawes says: "When Mr. Washburn and I lived together on Fourteenth Street, near Mr. Stanton's, he used to call and see us occasionally. He stayed very late one night, telling us all about his connections with Mr. Buchanan's administration and the war. At that time he told us the story of Mr. Buchanan's sending for him before his last regular message, as I related it in the Congregationalist.'" Perhaps this positive assertion of Mr. Stanton himself to Mr. Dawes and Mr. Washburn will weigh quite as much with the American people as the merely negative statement of Mr. Black.

While admitting that Mr. Stanton had always been a Democrat till he took his place in the Republican party during the war, I stated in my article in "The Atlantic" that he had "early imbibed antislavery sentiments." I referred to his Quaker descent; to his grandfather's emancipation of his slaves; to the fact, which he frequently referred to, that Benjamin Lundy was wont to visit his father's house, and that he had often sat upon his knee and listened to his antislavery teachings; to the statement made me by Mr. Chase himself, that Mr. Stanton accosted him in the streets, nearly thirty years before, and said that he was in entire accord with the antislavery sentiments he had just put forth; and to the well-known fact that he was a frequent guest at Dr.

Bailey's house, where he often met and associated with antislavery men. Mr. Black seems shocked at this statement. He emphatically declares that the Democrats gave Mr. Stanton "office, honor, and fortune"; that if my statement be true, "he was the most marvellous impostor that ever lived or died." Perhaps a liberty-loving people will be more charitable towards Mr. Stanton than Mr. Black is. They will hardly join him in declaring it "cold-blooded and deliberate treachery" simply because, though a Democrat, he faintly cherished the antislavery teachings of his youth. They will rather respond to the words recently written to me by the veteran Abolitionists Theodore D. Weld and Samuel May.

"In the early spring of 1835," writes Mr. Weld, “I gave a course of lectures upon slavery in Steubenville, Ohio. In the announcement of the course objections and discussion were invited. Before going to the first lecture I was told that a young lawyer was to reply to me; at the close I called for objections. None were made, and the audience dispersed. At the next there was the same invitation and the same result. On the morning after, a young man, whom I had observed taking notes at the lectures, sought me at my lodgings and introduced himself as Mr. Stanton, saying in substance, 'I meant to fight you, but my guns are spiked, and I have come to say that I see, with you, that all men hold their rights by the same title-deed, that the slaveholder in picking flaws in the slave's title-deed picks the same in his own and in every man's.' A conversation of half an hour followed, during which he greatly impressed me with his hearty frankness, independence, moral insight, and keen mental force. God be thanked that, a quarter of a century later, the nation had such a man to lead its forlorn hope triumphant through its darkest hour."

Mr. May, in a letter recently received, asks: "Did you ever hear Mr. Stanton speak of B. Lundy? Do you remember taking me to his room when I went

battles and govern itself"; and that "nothing would have humiliated him more than to see the American people relinquish their rightful place in the front rank of the world, surrender their inheritance of free government, and sneak back behind the African for protection in war or in peace." This base utterance sufficiently reveals the animus of Jeremiah S. Black, but it does not prove that Edwin M. Stanton was not early in favor of arming black men for the defence of the imperilled nation. That it does not prove it, is rendered certain by the testimony of Mr. Cameron himself. In a note recently received by me he says: "I submitted my report, when Secretary of War in 1861, to several gentlemen, chiefly from my own State, and many of them opposed it. Wearied with objections to a measure on the adoption of which I was convinced the existence of the nation might ultimately depend, I sought out another counsellor, - one of broad views, great courage, and of tremendous earnestness. It was Edwin M. Stanton. He read the report carefully, and after suggesting a few verbal alterations, calculated to make it stronger, he gave it his unequivocal and hearty support."

to Washington to get signatures to the testimonial circular letter for Garrison, and introducing me to him with some words as to my errand? After getting through with three or four persons who had precedence, he, still standing behind his standing desk,' after a few words and inquiries about Mr. Garrison, began to speak of visits which Lundy made to his father's house when he (E. M. S.) was a boy; of the long talks always on slavery which Mr. Lundy and his father had together, and of the silent interest he took in them. He had, evidently, grown up with a great reverence for Mr. Lundy. Who can tell how far these repeated talks of Lundy in the humble farm-house in Ohio, so long ago, were a power in preparing the future Secretary of War, who was to grasp the entire strength and resources of the nation in his hand, and wield them for slavery's final destruction? For myself, I was perfectly convinced, from the deep and earnest tone in which he spoke of Lundy, that he recognized a spirit which had controlled and shaped his own. And when in another (briefer) interview, two or three days later, I found him again leading the conversation to Lundy and those early visits to his father's house, I was made sure of my first impression, and I rejoiced in the Providential arrangement which had caused that early seed, sown in simple faith, to find a soil suited to it when, though buried long,' it should not 'deceive the hope.' Benjamin Lundy's 'soul was marching on,' when Stanton planned and directed the gigantic measures, before which even the seemingly unconquerable monster slavery was compelled to yield and die."


And here I notice Mr. Black's denial that Mr. Stanton indorsed Mr. Cameron's proposition to arm the negroes. He affirms with great positiveness that it was "morally impossible" that Mr. Stanton should have done so, for the reason that "he was at that time a white man, every inch of him, proud of the great race he sprung from, and full of faith in its capacity to fight its own

By the act of July, 1862, the President was authorized to receive for military purposes persons of African descent. Some time afterwards Mr. Stanton referred to General Holt the question of the right and duty of the government to employ persons of African descent as soldiers. That gentleman made an elaborate, vigorous, and eloquent report in favor of receiving into the armies persons irrespective of creed or color. Mr. Holt, in a note addressed to me under date of 18th of June, says: "Soon after this report had been received and read by Mr. Stanton, he warmly thanked me for it, and left the impression on my mind of his entire concurrence in its views. Some time afterwards, in one of those unreserved conversations which we occasionally had upon the absorbing questions of the day, he declared sub

stantially, and with the vehemence which often characterized him in the discussion of such topics, that the war could never be successfully closed for the government, without the employ ment of colored troops in the field. The importance of this declaration at that juncture, added to the solemn earnest ness with which it was uttered, fixed it indelibly upon my memory. I could not have been mistaken in then regarding him as the decided and persistent advocate of this policy."

Mr. Black, with reckless audacity, declares too that the scene in the Cabinet, when the intelligence was received that Colonel Anderson had removed from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, "is a pure and perfectly baseless fabrication," " completely exploded by the record, which shows that Colonel Anderson's transfer of his force from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter was in literal obedience to orders from the President, which Floyd himself had drawn up, signed, and transmitted." This assertion is made in the face of their despatches, now on file in the War Department, as certified to by AdjutantGeneral Townsend, under date of 19th of July.


Intelligence has reached here this morning that you have abandoned Fort Moultrie, spiked your guns, burnt the carriages, and gone to Fort Sumter. It is not believed, because there is no order for any such movement. Explain the meaning of this report. (Signed)

Secretary of War.

This declaration of Floyd to Anderson, that "there is no order for any such movement," conclusively shows the construction he put upon previous orders, and is a complete refutation of Black's assumptions and assertions. The following despatch of Colonel Anderson shows, too, that he did not act upon any previous order, but upon his own responsibility: -

CHARLESTON, December 27, 1860. To HON. J. B. FLOYD, Secretary of War.

The telegram is correct. I abandoned Fort Moultrie because I was certain

that, if attacked, my men must have

been sacrificed and the command of the harbor lost. I spiked the guns and destroyed the carriages to keep the guns from being used against us. attacked, the garrison would never have surrendered without a fight.



Major First Artillery.

That Floyd was disappointed and exasperated beyond all bounds by the movement of Colonel Anderson is abundantly proven. General Holt, at that time member of Buchanan's Cabinet, in his brilliant speech at the banquet in Charleston, on the evening of the 14th of April, 1865, after the flag-raising at Fort Sumter, thus referred to the mortification, anguish, and fury of the baffled traitor. "When intelligence reached the capital," says Mr. Holt, and it will be remembered that he spoke from personal knowledge, "that by a bold and dexterous movement this command had been transferred from Moultrie to Sumter, and was safe from the disabled guns left behind, the emotions of Floyd were absolutely uncontrollable,-emotions of mingled mortification and anguish and rage and panic. His fury seemed that of some baffled fiend, who discovers suddenly opening at his own feet the gulf of ruin which he had been preparing for another. Over all the details of this passionate outburst of a conspirator, caught and entangled in his own toils, the veil of official secrecy still hangs, and it may be that history will never be privileged to transfer this memorable scene to its pages. There is one, however, whose absence to-day we have all deplored, and to whom the nation is grateful for the masterly abil ity and lion-like courage with which he has fought this Rebellion in all the vicissitudes of its career, your Secretary of War, who, were he here, could bear testimony to the truthfulness of my words. He looked upon that scene, and the country needs not now to be told

that he looked upon it with scorn and argument in support of his denial. But defiance." the testimony of Judge Holt is conclusive. He writes:—

This speech made the tour of the country, was published in pamphlet form, and Mr. Black must have seen it. He, however, uttered no denial, and demanded no explanation, while Mr. Stanton lived. Now that the great Secretary's hips are closed in death, his for the first time are opened. But though Mr. Stanton shall never bear testimony again upon the point, there are those, now living, of unquestioned probity, who remember his descriptions of the scene. Mr. Dawes, in the letter already quoted, states, in corroboration of his own and Mr. Washburn's recollections, that "Mrs. Dawes distinctly remembers hearing Mr. Stanton tell at our house the story of that terrible conflict in the Cabinet."


Mr. Black's denial of that Cabinet scene is rather the argument of a tricky advocate than the unbiassed testimony of an honest witness. His argument is that, because Mr. Stanton, when the eyes of traitorous spies were upon him, sought an interview with Mr. Sumner in the darkness of night, he was such "a dastard,” “crawling sycophant," and "stealthy spy," that he "must have been wholly unfitted to play the part of Jupiter Tonans in a square and open conflict," and that it was "not possible that the fearless Stanton of your Cabinet scene' could be the same Stanton who, at one o'clock, was squat like a toad' at the ear of Sumner." Is such a shuffling and skulking mode of denial, made by one who manifestly feels himself to be on the defensive, to outweigh the declarations of Mr. Stanton made to credible witnesses, and the positive averments of Joseph Holt? Mr. Black, having denied, after a manner, that there was such a Cabinet controversy, in which Mr. Floyd and Mr. Stanton were actors, adds in a semi-heroic style: "I take it upon me to deny most emphatically that Mr. Stanton ever' wrote a full and detailed account of that Cabinet scene.'" "I can show that your assertion is incredible." He then proceeds to make an

[ocr errors]

"Several years ago, Mr. Stanton read to me, in the War Department, a letter addressed by him to Mr. Schell, of New York, in answer to one from that gentleman, wherein he set forth quite in detail what was said and done at the meeting of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet, which was followed at once, as I now remember it, by Mr. Floyd's resignation. The deliberations and discussions of that, as of other Cabinet meetings, being then and still held under the seals of official confidence, I cannot, of course, repeat what the statements of this letter were, but can only affirm that they accorded with my own recollection of the facts. I requested of Mr. Stanton a copy of this letter, which he promised to furnish me, but under the pressure of his official labors and engagements the matter was probably lost sight of, as the copy never reached me. Subsequently he informed me that the letter had never been sent, he having, as I understood it, come to the conclusion that such disclosures would not be justified, unless made with the consent of the parties to the Cabinet meeting, and to the deliberations referred to."

With his usual audacity and utter obliviousness of facts Mr. Black denies my statement that Floyd, while Secretary of War, sent arms 66 where they could be clutched by conspirators." This direct denial of a statement founded on documentary evidence is amazing. While sitting in the Cabinet, Floyd was in sympathy and co-operation with Southern leaders who were preparing for secession and rebellion. Arms by his orders were sent from Northern armories and arsenals to arsenals in the South. Benjamin Stanton of Ohio, chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives, asked of the Secretary of War a statement, showing the number of arms sent from the armories and arsenals at the North to those at the South. In compliance with directions of General Holt, Secretary of

« ZurückWeiter »