Memorandum on Fort Sumter

Some considerations in favor of withdrawing the Troops from Fort Sumpter, by President Lincoln.

1st. The Fort cannot be permanently held without reinforcement.

This point is too apparent too [sic] need proof

The cutting off supplies and consequent starvation, not to mention disease, would compel surrender in a few months at farthest, without firing a gun

2 The Fort cannot now be re-inforced without a large armament, involving of course a bloody conflict and great exasperation on both sides, and when re-inforced can only be held by sufficient number to garrison the post and to keep open communication with it by means of the harbor.

3. The Fort in the present condition of affairs is of inconsiderable military value, for: It is not necessary for the Federal Government to hold it in order to protect the City of Charleston from foreign invasion, nor: Is it available under existing circumstances for the purpose of collecting the revenue: and, It is difficult to see how the possession of the Fort by the Secessionists can be rendered a means of annoyance to the Federal Government. Every purpose for which the fort can now be made available would be better subserved by Ships of War, outside the harbor.

4 The abandonment of the Post would remove a source of irritation of the Southern people and deprive the secession movement of one of its most powerful stimulants.

5 It would indicate both an independent and a conservative position on part of the new administration, and would gratify and encourage those, who while friendly to the Union are yet reluctant to see extreme measures pursued.

6 It would tend to confound and embarrass those enemies of the Union both at the North and South who have relied on the cry of “Coercion” as a means of keeping up the excitement against the Republican Party.

7 If the garrison should, while in an enfeebled condition be successfully attacked, or from want of proper supplies should be cut off by disuse the administration would be held responsible for it and this fact would be used by their opponents with great effect.

8 The moral advantage to the Secessionists of a successful attack would be very great.


1st The danger of demoralizing the Republican Party by a measure which might seem to many to indicate timidity or in common parlance, “want of pluck.”

That this may be the first impression is probable but if the measure is justified upon the double ground of the small importance of the post in a military point of view and the desire to conciliate wherever this can be safely done a second thought will discover the wisdom of the course, and increase rather than diminish the confidence of the party in its leaders.

2d The danger of the movement being construed by the Secessionists as a yielding from necessity, and in so far a victory on their part

First Inaugural Address

Fellow citizens of the United States:

In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President “before he enters on the execution of his office.”

I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety, or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you.

I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform, for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves, and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.”

I now reiterate these sentiments: and in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace and security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause—as cheerfully to one section, as to another.

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